Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Livestreaming when everything goes wrong

The image above is actual criticism we received during the livestream community media lab event which featured Healthalliance leaders. We did, indeed, suffered a smorgasbord of difficulties.

I was using the Freeman's wireless connection, which is fairly strong. Testing went well. Everything was perfect.
For whatever reason, the connection kept going in and out once the livestream started, which I noticed on a different device, so I knew it wasn't the computer. This happened early enough during the livestream, so I switched to a wireless carrier. This most surely would solve the problem, I thought.
The connection went from one bar to none, then two bars, then none. So the stream kept going in and out. I had a phone with a second carrier, but I was using CoveritLive to monitor comments and THAT connection failed as well.

No problem, then. Let's hardwire.
I grabbed an ethernet cord and plugged the computer (this had to be done as the forum continued, since it was being recorded anyway, or so I thought). The reason I didn't hardwire in the first place was that the connection is in the other side of the room and I didn't want to have a long cable going all over the place, since I'm not a fan of people falling down. And I wanted to set the camera on the other side.

But since there was no choice, I got the cable and plugged it in.

Connection problem solved. Wrong.

After about 20 minutes, I lost the connection to the livestream again. I checked the third-party service on a different device, and a third one. This time I was at their mercy.

Facing this problem, the only thing to do was to completely set up the livestream with a different service, and even though it would have taken about 10 minutes to set up and embed it all, I stuck it out with Ustream because the connection came back.

Ten minutes later, I lost the connection again. So I started setting up a separate livestream service while trying to get the connection back, which I did. I was 5 minutes until the schedule end of the event, however, so I didn't bother.


1. Hardwire. Always. I never thought a wireless connection and two carriers all would fail me. They did.
2. Expect the unexpected. Have a plan B setup, at the ready. A good test doesn't mean things will always be fine. Develop contingency measures and have them ready. .If Ustream fails, have Livestream ready to go (or the other way around). This would take you too long to set up (long by web standards, anyway), so have your embeds and browsers on standby. I've been testing G+ Hangouts on Air and that's also possibility. Quality is better and there are no running ads, so I'm moving in that direction. Here's a test screenshot from today:

Credit where credit's due. Meme generated by Melissa Weiss.