HOW THEY WORK : “Media Streaming”

There have been several attempts to display media on computers via communication media like internet. When we talk of internet, this is wide mesh like network of several computers being intertwined into one huge network, the “international Network”. Many times, media streaming failed due to the high cost and limited capabilities of computer hardware. 

There have been several attempts to display media on computers via communication media like internet. 

When we talk of internet, this is wide mesh like network of several computers being intertwined into one huge network, the “international Network”.

Many times, media streaming failed due to the high cost and limited capabilities of computer hardware. 

As the computers metamorphosis went on  to produce better and high capacity capabilities like high speed processors, fast buses, high memory and better internet connectivity, media streaming has improved as well. 

With the personal computers becoming fully multimedia (audio and video playback), there was the need to transmit media over the net so that the persons at the other end of the network could receive it and enjoy playing it back without much distortion.

Basically, issues related to streaming required; having enough processing power and bus bandwidth to support the required data rates as well as creating low-latency interrupt paths in the operating system (OS) to prevent buffer under-run. 

When we talk of latency, it is the time it takes for a packet to be accessed over the internet, this is normally in milliseconds. Buffering is the process of breaking down a large file into small packets that can be easily accessed in sequence.

In between the access, there are periods of data access then playback, pause to access other data, etc.  to the end user, access keeps breaking and connecting.

Because of the above failings, people preferred to download media or deliver it over non-streaming channels, such as by downloading a digital file from a remote web server and then saving it to a local drive on the end user’s computer or storing it as a digital file and playing it back from CD-ROMs. 

In the 2000s, Internet use has greatly improved to the extent that, greater network bandwidth, especially in the last mile have also increased access to networks due to the use of standard protocols and formats, such as TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol), HTTP (hyper text protocol), and HTML (hyper text markup language) commercialization of the Internet.

Before then, watching videos and listening to music online wasn’t always fun. Lots of time was spent “buffering” than watching videos or lis­tening to music.

Even when you managed to get the media, the quality left a lot to be desired. According to “Bridge Ratings”, 57 million people listen to Internet radio every week. According to Reuters, in 2006, people watched more than a million streaming videos a day on YouTube.

The same year, television network ABC started streaming its most popular TV shows over the Web. People who missed an episode of shows like “Lost” or “Grey’s Anatomy” could make up for the missed episodes via the internet.

The breakthrough in streaming of media is recent, though the whole plan has been around quite a long time.  

Have you ever imagined how information travels from one person to the other? When talked to, the sound goes to your ears and the brain decodes this information, allowing you to understand it.

Likewise, when you watch TV or listen to the music, the information travels to an electronic device in the form of a cable signal, a satellite signal or radio waves. The device decodes and displays the signal.  

In streaming video and audio, the travelling information is a stream of data from a server. The decoder is a stand-alone player or a plug-in that works as part of a Web browser. The server, information stream and decoder work together to let people watch live or pre-recorded broadcasts. 

If you have a connection to the Internet and you want to find streaming video and audio files, you shouldn’t have to look far. Sound and video have become a common part of sites all over the Web, and the process of using these files is pretty spontaneous. You find something you want to watch or listen to, you click on it, and it plays.

eddie@afrowebs.com 

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