Streaming Video Linkfest For 9/4

My large day job project has finished up, and I now have some brain time for catching up on streaming video news. This’ll be a two-week slug of material, so let’s get wading through it. The biggest thing to happen was Steve Job’s resigning as CEO, and the flurry of speculation around any Apple efforts in the TV space. He did much for the entertainment and online video business, but many will write volumes on it and I have nothing to add.

The Hulu bidding war has advanced one round, in a survivor-like fashion. Google, Amazon, Yahoo, and Dish Network (aka Blockbuster) are named as advancing thus far. Apple and Microsoft are mentioned as having passed.

And now, on to the news:

Roku 2 May Be Able To Play Quake 3

The Raspberry Pi project, surprisingly enough, is one of my favorite stops to figure out the Roku 2 box potential. This project is using the same BCM2835 as the Roku 2 is rumored to use. In fact, their general specs almost perfectly match the Roku 2, with 256 MB Ram and several similar support components.

The Raspberry Pi team has put together a demo illustrating the power available in the BCM2835. They’ve got their system running Quake 3 Arena at decent frame rates.

This Raspberry Pi demo shows that the BCM2835 has a lot of horsepower to run games. The Roku 2 platform has this same processor and there’s the potential to see some pretty cool things happen. BUT, and this is a big one, it relies on Roku putting together a top-flight software framework to let folks harness this power. A quick check on their website confirms that they’re looking to grow their software group pretty heavily with 5 software-related recs open now.

Roku 2 Software Stack

Even though it’s off topic, the picture for Roku’s software stack is getting pretty clear from their open jobs and other known details. They’re running a Linux on an ARM processor with OpenGL 3D acceleration support. They’re using C++ for their internal development and running QT for their GUI management.

Again, this points toward great potential for the Roku 2 to really rock, but it will depend on Roku successfully hiring software engineers and pulling together their Native Development Kit (NDK) that lets developers code in C++. If and when the NDK goes public, things will get quite wild.

Streaming Video News For 8/25

My day job is keeping my head, but I still found some time to sip on the news firehose.

PlayOn Has Roku 2 Patch

As mentioned before, something about the Roku 2 caused havoc with PlayOn. The PlayOn engineers have produced a patch and have been slipping it to people on the sly. If you’re willing to give it a try, the PlayOn support folks are happy to hook you up:

If you’d like the patch, send us a msg at and we’ll be happy to get it to you. 🙂

If you’re attempting to hold out, they’ve indicated that it’ll be a little while (vaguely defined) before the patch hits a standard release.

The Roku 2 units will only work if you use the patch. The patch will not be a part of an actual PlayOn release for a little while.

I’m nearing a day job deadline and havn’t tried the patch. The PlayOn forums are showing good success.

Update: Patch is now in the PlayOn builds.

PlayOn Playback Broken On Roku 2

Even thought I found time to take it apart two weeks ago, I’m just now getting around to hookup up my new Roku 2 XS. My wife and I settled in for a Daily Show episode and the PlayOn plug-in throws up an error, “An unexpected problem (but not server timeout or HTTP error) has been detected”, right after the video starts. This was rather distressing. We swapped back to the old Roku XDS box and I got on the internet to see what was going on.

Into The Roku, PlayOn, and Plex Forums

What I quickly discovered is that there was some subtle shift that affected several unofficial Roku plug-ins that involve local video stream. The bigger names include PlayOn and Plex (media server software for PCs, Macs, and Linux computers).

PlayOn has indicated that they’re on it

Most people are able to use a Roku 1 without a problem, but the Roku 2 won’t work with PlayOn…yet! We’re looking into seeing what we can do, as well as we understand that Roku is looking into the problem as well, as it effects other types of streaming as well.

I’m sorry to say, but there’s no ETA yet.

Roku is looking at it as well and requesting test cases (people were happy to provide them)

HLS isn’t broken, though there may be a few outstanding corner cases. We are furiously working to address them. If you want to send me sample links, we can take a look.

If you want the nitty-gritty, you can find all the conversations on the various forums:

Waiting For a Fix

The Plex developers are pushing a potential fix out to their side and PlayOn trying their own fix out before adding it to their software build. Everything about this problem feels like a corner case that several plug-ins used that wasn’t tested by Roku. There’s lots of focus on it, so I’m hoping for a not-fast-enough-but-pretty-soon resolution.

Update: PlayOn has a patch available.

Update 2: Patch is now in the PlayOn builds.

Streaming Video Linkfest for 8/14

This was another quiet week on the news front. I guess the hot summer is getting to everyone. Rumors are showing up that the next major Apple launch is in September, which should create some grist for the mill. There’s also a story out (not linked) that bids for Hulu are due in next week, which should also trigger some news. Aside from the Hulu buyout (which is remarkably quiet), I’m not expecting things to stay quiet through Labor day.