You may experiences problems when trying to view the multimedia examples.
Here are some pointers of what may be wrong and what you can do about it.
I am assuming here that you have installed the RealPlayer G2 (earlier
versions will not work with most of the material) and that you have checked
that the installation was successful by playing material from other sources.
When clicking on any of the examples your RealPlayer G2 should start.
However, it may be not be on top, check the task bar (in Win95) and double
on the Player icon to bring it to the top (if necessary). In 'normal' viewing
mode, the bar at the bottom of the Player window provides information about
the connection, buffering, and playtime.
If all goes well, the "connecting ..." message quickly changes to a
"buffering ...." message and in the lower right corner you see a meter
indicating the state of the so-called preroll (the information that needs
to be downloaded before the show can begin). Once this meter fills, the
preroll is done and the play begins.
However, you may experience that
The basic problem is that the connection to the server is too slow. And
what you can do about this as a user is limited -- apart from getting a
dedicated T1 line for your home .... :-) However, consider the following
"connecting ...." stays on for quite some time without any apparent action
the buffering time increases (rather than decreases) or goes up and down,
but does not reach 0
the show does not start
Make sure that you run other (non-essential) applications at the same time.
Just Netscape and the Player would be ideal. Also, Win95 does not always
cleanup after applications are closed. If you are in the habit of letting
your station run pretty much all the time (as I am), it is useful to restart
your station every few days. This will make sure that no memory is ineffectively
Dialup (DUN) connection
All examples require at least a 28.8 modem. However, most ISPs also offer
56K service, and you should consider upgrading your modem. Depending on
the modem, this may just require a software upgrade to the new unified
56K (the V.90) standard.
But no matter what modem you have, there are ways to get more out of
it by "tweaking DUN". More on this, at the bottom of my ISP
Actual connection speed is always lower than 28.8 (or 56K) and the video
stream is produced a lower actual speed is assumed, say 20 instead of 28.8.
However, when the actual speed falls even lower (and this happens not infrequently),
trouble starts. In general, then, you should be fine with a 56K connection
viewing the examples produced for 28.8. But you are living on the edge,
if 28.8 is your formal maximum. A DUN
meter helps you monitor what the actual connection speed is. If the
connection is really slow, wait for a better time ...
Configuration of your RealPlayer G2
Under Options/Preferences/Connection you can determine the size
of the buffer. The more you buffer, the longer it will take to start, but
the better the chances that play will not be interrupted in the middle.
So, patience at the beginning may reward you. However, the amount that
you can buffer depends on the memory you have available (see 'system resources'
As of Dec 4, 1998, we are using both a regular web (httpd) server and the
Basic RealServer for all examples. The normal web protocol (http) is not
well suited for serving streaming media since it does not recognize the
time line, i.e., it may not serve the 'packets' in the order they are needed
by the RealPlayer. This causes delays. With connection at full speed, sending
the data packages in the wrong order does not make a noticeable difference,
but when things are slow in the first place, this aggravates the problem.
So, we may not notice any difference when connecting from the Hunter campus,
but there are differences when connecting via a modem.
So, moving to a RealServer is an important step and I hope that I will
be able to move shortly on this. However, what this step will not be able
to cure are congestions at the "hunter.cuny.edu" domain. All servers at
Hunter are connected to the Internet via CUNY/CIS using one half of a T1
line only -- which regularly creates bottlenecks. This does effect viewing
these examples from off campus, but would not affect on campus access.
While the Internet connection to CUNY/Hunter worked fine during the
time I first developed these materials (Nov 24-28, 1998), the connection
was extremely slow from about the evening of Nov 29 to Dec 2 -- even late
at night and early in the morning. At the same time, I had no problems
connecting to sites in Germany and viewing video material from across the
ocean. When you experience a slow connection, try to locate the bottleneck
by using the following commands from a DOS prompt (in Win95):
tracert maxweber.hunter.cuny. edu
You will see the different hops involved in establishing the connection
between your computer and the Hunter servers. If the connection works well
you should see numbers in the 200-300 range, high numbers or even "*" indicate
relay problems. In the Nov 29-Dec 2 you could see high numbers for the
hop between the router at CUNY/CIS and the router at Hunter. Tracert does
not tell you which of two connection points is the 'guilty' party.
If any "router" along the route does not work properly, there is nothing
you can do -- not even a T1 line can save you. Any connection is as good
as its weakest link.