FAQ - Common Questions


What about true 3D perspective and shading?
People sometimes perceive the Streamer block to be expanding as it recedes towards the upper left. This is an optical illusion caused by our visual expectations. Normally, perspective foreshortening makes the far end of a box shape like the Streamer block appear to be smaller than the near end. But the Streamer block is sort of two and a half dimensional. It doesn't really change size as it recedes into the distance. Because the top-left end of the Streamer block is larger than our eyes expect, our brains conclude that it is expanding. Once 3D rendering and graphics acceleration is readily available in Java, the Streamer might employ them for a more spatial interface.

Why is the picture so small and blurry?
Rationalizing, one justification for the small size is to help minimize clip download times. Most of the clips are compressed with an H263 codec. H263 compresses well and provides reasonable performance in this context, but it tends to blur the images some. Eventually the Streamer might provide a user option for a quality vs. speed/size tradeoff so that you can get better image quality if you have a speedy enough connection.

Why are SUVs so large?
Some claim that bloated cars, SUVs, are further evidence supporting Kurt Vonnegut's theory that humans have experienced an evolutionary turn for the worse. Vonnegut suggests this de-evolution is due to an unnecessarily oversized organ, the brain. SUVs owe their existence and their immensity to our oversized brains, and they are a direct manifestation of this condition.

But it's not really streaming. What gives?
The Streamer began in 1992 as part of a master's thesis project at the MIT Media Lab's Interactive Cinema Group. It was dubbed the Video Streamer at that time. In the eons of web-time that have passed since then, what we now call streaming video (namely, transmitting video over the net and playing it without first buffering an entire clip) has become commonplace. With an uncertain amount of effort and luck the Streamer may eventually also play streaming video sources. Stay tuned.

Why does it have to wait for the clip to be fully downloaded before playing?
Short answer: It was much quicker to develop the software to do it that way rather than play clips from a streaming server.
Next shortest answer: The simplest way to manage playback of a video clip using the Java Media Framework was to program the Streamer to play clips that are first cached locally. Also see the previous question.

What happens to the video frames that go off the back end?
They are collecting in the dusty innards of your monitor. To keep the Streamer - and your display - humming along, a periodic cleaning of your monitor is a good habit.

The sound occasionally breaks up. Why?
Two words: audio demons. Gotta find time to fix that..

What about playing sound on Mac and Linux?
Sorry, but the current version of the Streamer was built on a shoestring. Hopefully, attention will soon be given to platforms other than Windows.

Is time on my side?
Yes, it is.