Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Oh Internet, why do you hate me?

This post is something of an apology and something of a rant; and perhaps a desperate cry out for help. Perhaps one of you is an angel sent to relieve me of my internet woes. Now as for the blog post, it's a bit of a story. This is a blog, after all, not an internet help page. Here we go...

Streaming.

Having never lived in a city center, and based in the UK, my internet has never been particularly fast (relative to the rest of my fellow geek friends).  That's Ok, you work with what you have.

Imagine my surprise, when we had a leaflet through the door - Virgin Media offering me up to 100Mb internet. A free two month trial. Happy. I mean, I've heard bad things about Virgin. In particular, their throttling policies are of much debate. Time to research...

The short conclusion is that, on their basic package (the one I'd be lumped with on the free trial) - I had enough upload bandwidth to run a low quality stream 24/7, without going over their limit. Honestly, I wondered what everyone was complaining about.

Streaming was as expected. I mean, it worked! It was low quality, but I knew it would have to be. Just for kicks, outside throttling hours, I set the stream to 1080p to see what it could really do... and it did it, very very well.

The very next day, I run into a problem: After an hour, I'm throttled. Skype uses bandwidth. Well of course it does, but how much? "Up to 100kbps." Can I throttle it? "Nope." Ok... I re-adjust my stream's bitrate cap to compensate. The quality drops from "Watchable" to "What Ship Am I Flying?"

So I reach my first issue: My connection is completely capable of pumping out a 1080p stream, with Skype, while downloading the whole thing again for my self-indulgent pleasure. The throttle limit is stopping me. Well at least now I understand why everyone is complaining. Solution? Upgrade the package!

My 60 day trial, lasts all of 9 days. I phone them up, ask to be upgraded to the 100Mb package, and begin paying full price. It takes them all of 2 minutes to upgrade my line (possibly quicker: make a brew and climb the stairs), SpeedTest.net showing the full 100Mb download. Happy Dan, once more.

I start streaming. Look at that! Full resolution, even during the throttling hours! 2 minutes pass. "Stream Offline."

Um. Nope. No pretty sure it's not. OBS still tells me I'm streaming, tells me there's zero loss. I restart the stream. Five minutes later, same deal. Three minutes later, same. 2 minutes. 2 minutes. 3 minutes.

I decide to call it for now, maybe its teething problems of the new speed. Or maybe I shouldn't be going full whack during peak hours. I try again at midnight. Same deal.

I try XSplit instead, the trial version only allows low resolution streaming but that's Ok. Same deal. 5 minutes in, it stops.

I revert back to OBS. Re-configuring it to use the same throttle-capped settings as my initial experiments. Same problem. Works for a few minutes, goes offline.

I switch the superhub into Modem mode. I've read doubt on just how 'Super' it is. Modem mode basically disables the router aspect of it. I plug my laptop directly into its (now) only available port. Stream. Same issue.

So here's my problem. My 30Mb line was fully functioning within the bounds of its throttled limits, after upgrading to 100Mb my stream uploads go Offline after minutes. Here's the interesting bit: Twitch continues to receive my broadcast. How do I know? Because when I re-visit my "Recordings" section later. I can re-watch my Stream, up to and including the parts where people are yelling "It's gone offline, your stream's not working". I can watch, via Twitch, as I pull up the Twitch website showing my broadcast as offline. It's recorded it all, yet it's not live.

... and that, dear readers, is a long way of telling you why my streams having exactly been regular. In fact, I'd go as far as saying I haven't done a proper stream session since upgrading my connection.

Now onto the praying. If anyone has any useful advice for my problem. I'm begging you, almost literally, please chip in and comment.

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