We want YOU in our next music video.

Category5 TV is shooting its latest music video, and we want you to be in it!

All you have to do is shoot video of you dancing through the entire song, “Happy” from Pharrell Williams. NO, you do not have to be a good dancer for this! That’s part of the fun!

Then, upload your video (we prefer HD if possible) to your favorite cloud storage service (PogoPlug, DropBox, etc) and email a link to live@category5.tv – we will contact you at that point with more details.

Here’s the music and style you’ll want to follow:

Looking forward to your submission!

Submission deadline is Tuesday April 29, 2014.

- Robbie

Get a Roku for the best HD media experience on your TV without all the clutter!

The Roku is a great way to catch all your favorite web-based programming, including Category5 Technology TV, Netflix, and so much more!

Buy your device from here to support Category5 Technology TV:

Model Description Buy Now
Roku Streaming Stick  

The Roku Streaming Stick brings you a solution that is entirely hidden away, plugged directly into your TV’s HDMI port. It will only work with HDTV’s for this reason, and is well suited for situations where the TV is mounted on a wall, where you don’t want to see any wires. The Roku Streaming Stick supports the same great channel lineup as the other models. This model is only recommended if you need that discreetness. The other units are more powerful. Buy
Roku 1  

The Roku 1 is the entry level unit, giving you full access to all the channels available in the Roku Channel Store. It will work with old-style televisions (composite—not component) as well as your HDTV over HDMI. It has the standard Roku remote which does not include a headphone jack. Buy
Roku 2  

The Roku 2 is very similar to the Roku 1, but it has dual-band WiFi (better/faster WiFi) and a high-quality headphone jack built into the wireless remote. You can listen to your shows or music with the privacy—and quality—of a set of headphones. Works with the included earbuds, or your favorite set of headphones with a 1/8″ plug (standard). The Roku 2 will also work on old TVs as well as HDTVs, as it offers both HDMI and composite outputs. Buy
Roku 3  

The Roku 3 is the fastest, most feature rich version of the Roku. It will only work on HDTVs (720p or 1080p). Like the Roku 2, this model has dual-band WiFi, a headphone jack in the remote, but also adds gaming functionality, an ethernet port (hard wire your Internet connection rather than using WiFi). There is also a USB port and MicroSD port, allowing you to load your own videos or pictures onto flash media and load them on your TV. This Roku is the all-round HD entertainment device: television shows, movies, games, and even home movies. Because it is so much faster than the other models, the Roku 3 also has a more robust featureset for channels such as Netflix. While Netflix will work on all the devices, the Roku 3 is the only one which supports the “new Netflix”, with more advanced features such as viewer profiles. My Roku 2 for example, loads the default profile for Netflix and works great, but has no option to switch to the kids’ profile. The Roku 3 has that capability. Roku 3 will not work on old TVs as it only features an HDMI output. Buy

Calculate the size of a VARBINARY field required for AES_ENCRYPT

Here’s a simple Open Document Format spreadsheet tool to help you calculate 16 × (trunc(string_length / 16) + 1) without having to be a mathematical genius.

Download: AES_ENCRYPT Size Calculator

You can use an ODS compatible spreadsheet program such as LibreOffice or OpenOffice.

Why you may desire to use VARBINARY() instead of VARCHAR(), see this great post from Mahmud Ahsan: http://thinkdiff.net/mysql/encrypt-mysql-data-using-aes-techniques/

Memory leak in Zimbra 8.0.6 webmail

I’ve had a suspicion that since the Zimbra 8.0.6 update, something’s been wonky with Zimbra’s webmail client, so I decided to perform a very simple test: open Zimbra Webmail and leave it running.

Here is the outcome of that test.

Normal Operation for one business day.
This is how I operate day after day in my normal office environment.

Running:

  • Zimbra 8.0.6_GA_5922
  • Chromium Version 32.0.1700.123 Debian 7.4 (248368)

Memory Usage at Application Launch:

  • Browser window with Zimbra webmail client
    Thursday 8:47am – 139.5MB
  • Browser window with Google
    Thursday 8:55am – 45.92MB

Memory Usage ~ 24 Hours Later:
I left both browser windows running overnight. Here is where the memory usage stands…

  • Browser window with Zimbra webmail client
    Friday 8:28am – 564.3MB – 304% Increase in 24 Hours
  • Browser window with Google
    Friday 8:29am – 60.78MB – 32% Increase in 24 Hours

Memory Usage ~4 Days Later:
I left both browser windows running over the weekend.  Here is where the memory usage stands…

  • Browser window with Zimbra webmail client
    Monday 10:32am – 1.6 GB – 1,046% Increase in ~96 Hours
  • Browser window with Google
    Monday 10:33am – 60.53MB – 31% Increase in ~96 Hours

Since Zimbra cut the Evolution Connector from its product line, and the Zimbra Desktop software is still only available for a 32-bit platform, this leaves Zimbra operation on Linux sorely lacking. What has VMWare done?!  Hopefully Telligent can fix it.

-Robbie

*** UPDATE March 24, 2014 ***
We’ve ruled out Chrome by itself as the issue since it is only the window containing the Zimbra webmail client that shows any increase in memory usage.

To rule out browser extensions, I will run my next test with all Chrome extensions disabled.
Test 2 – Disable all Chrome Extensions and re-test.

Memory Usage After Weekend:

  • Browser window with Zimbra webmail client
    Friday 5:06pm – 106.3 MB

Memory Usage After Weekend:

  • Browser window with Zimbra webmail client
    Monday 8:37am – 1.7 GB

*** UPDATE April 15, 2014 ***
This has been added as a bug report for 88031 - https://bugzilla.zimbra.com/show_bug.cgi?id=88031

Starting to feel old…

I guess I’m starting to feel old when I was actually part of the “good ol’ days”. How did this happen?

Watching The Sing Off and realizing most of the great bands were born in the 90′s.

Missing the days when conducting research was an experience, not a Google search.

Hearing songs on the “retro” radio show that were brand new, hot tracks when I was a teenager.

And looking at my baby girl who is fast becoming a little lady.

Better make the best of each day, because this is all going way too fast.

Coming features on Category5.TV

Category5.TV:

  1. Next/Previous episode buttons when viewing the show notes page for any episode. – Done
  2. Photo gallery re-write with grid-style gallery layouts.
  3. RSS feeds to begin stating the age of an episode (eg., ’1 Week Ago’ or ’3 Years Ago’). – Done
  4. Add Google-indexable breadcrumbs to Episode pages. – Done
  5. Season 2 Episodes made available on-demand and in RSS feeds.
  6. Season 1 Episodes made available on-demand and in RSS feeds.
  7. Replace the main menu script with something more robust, to accommodate the growing list of menu items and introduce third-level navigation. – Done, sortof. Rather than replacing the menu, I recoded bits of the existing one to add new functionality. I think it works quite nicely.
  8. Replace the jQuery scroller at the top of the home page with something a little more current. – Done, sortof. I decided that for the moment, I still like the scroller we have, and it’s lightweight, which is a plus. So instead I just improved it slightly. Buttons have been changed to our orange color to make them stand out more, too. I have begun coding a new “animated” version to replace this one eventually, but for now I’ve bought some time.
  9. Make the giant header slideshow on season pages select a handful of random images from the season rather than the most recent ones.
  10. Related Episodes feature on show notes pages.

Now you can see what was said in the chat room in realtime while watching on-demand video from Category5 TV.

Beginning with Episode 231 (February 21, 2012) we have been keeping a log of the Category5 TV chat room during the live broadcast, complete with timestamps.

These logs have been available to view for a while now via the show notes page for each episode since that time, but I’ve always wanted to take it a step further.

Effective immediately, logged-in registered viewers may enable the chat logs as their source for closed captioning.

Video Captions from Chat Logs

This is a two-fold success.  First, it adds a pretty neat feature to the on-demand video since logged-in viewers can now see what was said at the time during the live show, overlayed on the video, but secondly, it allowed me to generate an effective closed captioning system on our web site. I hope to eventually offer English (and electronic translations to other languages) captions, and this provides the back-end technology to do this.

Enable CaptionsTo enable this feature on your account, login to Category5.TV and visit your profile page. Once their select “Chat Logs” as your source for closed captioning.

Make sure you’re logged in, as this is an exclusive feature to registered viewers.

Please offer your feedback below. What do you think of this feature?

-Robbie

RSS distribution changes and keeping costs manageable

Hi all!

Hope you’ve been enjoying the benefits of the new transcoders the past couple months, along with the absurdly fast distribution backend we added to the RSS feeds!

I’ve been feeling the waters now for a little over 2 months and am implementing some changes, effective immediately.

Our Goal: Every Episode for Free
One of the goals at Category5 TV is to always offer all our episodes free of charge to the viewers, and in a very accessible way (or many ways to accommodate many different types of users).

The Problem With Our Goal
Our new distribution mechanism is pricey. Category5 TV stores over a terabyte of video “in the cloud”, and we have a very active community of happy downloaders. A lot of those downloaders like to grab every episode, especially people who have just found the show and want to see all the oldies. For every person who downloads the whole series, we pay for that download, and it has become substantial. Too substantial to maintain.

So, I’ve been contemplating… how do we do it?  Do we start charging for downloads?  Obviously not!  That’s not in line with our goal to offer the video to you free of charge.  Do we restrict viewers to only being able to download say, the last 5 episodes?  Also a resounding “no!” as that would not be in line with our goal to give you the wealth of information that is available through Category5 TV.

And then it hit me.

It’s not the week-to-week downloads that cost us too much money in bandwidth fees… it’s the big downloads. The people who subscribe to the RSS feed (especially HD) and download all the available episodes. That’s about 90GB per user. And there are a lot of them.

So, my solution: effective immediately, the most recent 5 episodes of Category5 TV will be distributed through our fast, expensive CDN.  This ensures the viewers who are watching week after week get the fastest, most reliable delivery service, even if they miss a few weeks and need to catch up.

All episodes from more than 5 weeks ago will still be available, but will be hosted on our slower network (which costs us substantially less, but is quite slow for distribution, and a little less reliable). This means those wanting to download all episodes will get them much more slowly, but they’ll get them none the less. This will save us several thousand dollars per year in bandwidth fees, which I think you can appreciate.

Potential Issue & Solution
Many users have their RSS aggregator setup to automatically download new files as they hit the RSS feed. Every week as a new episode is added, the 6th episode in the feed gets moved to the other distribution servers. This means that aggregator may download both the new episode (1st in the list) plus the newly moved episode (6th in the list), even though it has probably already been downloaded. The new URL makes the aggregator think it’s a new file.

The solution? Only subscribe to the most recent files. Update your feed URL, adding /fast to the end of the URL.  For example, if you’re using the SD feed (http://rss.cat5.tv/sd), change your feed to http://rss.cat5.tv/sd/fast.  This will make sure you only receive files off the fast CDN, and your aggregator will completely ignore anything moved onto the other distribution platform. You’ll receive the new episode every week, and the last of the most recent 5 episodes will simply fall off your list.

Premium Accounts
I am toying with the idea of offering optional premium accounts for a reasonable fee, which would allow a user to download the whole RSS feed directly from our super-fast CDN, and am even giving some thought to providing the series on Blu-Ray if there is a desire from the community to have such a thing. What are your thoughts on premium accounts, keeping in mind that we will always offer Category5 freely to the community? But those who offset the high expense of distribution get some added perks.

It costs us about $0.25 for each download of an HD episode of Category5. Would you pay $1 per month to offset that cost? $2 a month to more than pay for usage? What are your thoughts?

Slowing down the transcoders and Season 4 is online!

As you may have noticed, I had to slow down the transcoders.

Yes, they operate super fast and can transcode all our back episodes in a very short time as previously reported.

However… they cost a lot of money! Le gasp!

As you can imagine, Category5 TV back episodes take up a lot of space on the web. Over a terabyte as a matter of fact. So transcoding, uploading and distributing all 300+ episodes all in one fell swoop was a bad idea from a cost perspective.

So I slowed things down to a more manageable price point so I can space the cost out over multiple months.

Okay, all that said, exciting news this weekend: Category5 TV SEASON 4 is now entirely transcoded and available for on-demand viewing at http://www.category5.tv/episodes-season-4.php!

It is my dream that one day all 7 seasons (and beyond) of Category5 TV will be available for on-demand viewing, and this brings us just a little bit closer to this goal.

Many of the episode content will be dated (as we’re talking episodes which are 3 or 4 years old), but there is still some excellent information in there, such as understanding how to safely dispose of a computer to avoid your private data being compromized, enhancing photographs with the GIMP, how to create panoramic photographs using a standard digital camera, creating mosaic images from hundreds or thousands of photographs, and even our popular web development series in its entirety.

Enjoy these “new” old episodes! Now, to begin tackling Season 3!

-Robbie