Social Media Production: LISA ’09

I’m sitting in a hotel room in Baltimore, listening to a meeting while monitoring the live stream of a presentation at LISA ’09. I’ve been using the video blog, Twitter and irc (#opensolaris) to let people know this is available. Which has resulted in 26 people on the live stream, at the moment.

The technicalities and camera work of the stream are being done by the merry (and very competent) crew at USENIX – Sun sponsored the live video stream and recording, so I’ll be able to use their files afterwards to produce final, edited videos.

The final video is on YouTube.

Video Streaming in a Perfect World

I’ve done enough social media coverage of conferences now to have some ideas on my ideal set-up for this, although I have not yet achieved that ideal in practice. Here’s how I’d like to do it:

1. Have presentations available online in advance, so that:

  • participants in the video stream can download them and follow along while I focus the camera on the speaker (I’d use the UStream chat window to let them know when the slide changes)
  • I can copy slide titles into a spreadsheet beforehand, ready to enter the timing of slide changes (knowing this timing helps me later edit the slides into the video as graphic overlays)

2. Have a small laptop pre-tested with UStream and ready to go. I don’t really care about the OS (Solaris, OpenSolaris, Windows, Mac) as long as it has Flash installed in Firefox and knows what to do with a video camera attached to the Firewire port.

NB: Even on a pre-tested laptop, UStream can be a problem. When we tried to stream last night’s FROSUG meeting, UStream crashed my browser repeatedly (both Firefox and Safari), crashed Firefox on another Mac, and only worked on a Lenovo – which, unfortunately had messed-up sound so couldn’t actually be used. What’s up with that, UStream?

Community Leadership Summit

Several Sun folks attended the Community Leadership Summit in San Jose, just before OSCON. I didn’t get many photos or notes – was too busy listening, talking, and meeting people. I also led a session on videoblogging which 14 people attended.

Photo gallery from CLS and OSCON 2009

The Twitter Diaries: 2009-07-19: Brisbane

  • in Brisbane. Spent the weekend offline, which was very, very nice. #

^ during my Brisbane walkabout, saw, enjoyed, and bought the CD from a band called Jambezi

  • social media planning for the Kernel Conference – hope to stream live video for the first view of ZFS De-Dupe! #
  • overhearing James trying to describe to someone what I do: “she works in community on the OpenSolaris side and does, um, video stuff” #
  • <sigh> more wrestling with our horrible, horrible expense reporting system. #
  • NOT a rhetorical question: when was the last time you had good support for software, and how was it provided? (phone, email, Twitter…?) #
  • @c0t0d0s0 we did something similar in Brazil, too. Were you thinking of a specific magazine in Germany? in reply to c0t0d0s0 #
  • added a few photos to President Lula of Brazil Meets OpenSolaris #
  • join the Kernel Conference Australia on USTREAM: tomorrow at 9 am Brisbane time (GMT +10) – first up will be ZFS Dedupe! #
  • figuring out what sessions to attend at OSCON – suggestions? (Keeping in mind that I’m more on the people side of the equation.) #
  • “Maybe you’re already doing too much.” My daughter at times is wiser than I am. #
  • recent read: Vikas Swarup’s “Six Suspects.” Plotline a little too Bollywood with coincidences, but overall a v good and satisfying read. #
  • folks gathering in Brisbane for the Kernel Conf. Waiting for Brendan and Gavin to get to the office so we can have lunch #
  • @ElaineEllis not doing any of those things! In the Sun office in Brisbane, waiting for lunch #FOTR in reply to ElaineEllis #
  • wearing my social media producer hat: getting set up to stream the Kernel Confernce from Brisbane. We should be live in 30 mins #
  • providing text backup to a very poor video feed for the kernel conference, over a #
  • > 40 viewers on the stream, ~100 people in the room #
  • really NOT having a good day here. I need to be doing about six fewer jobs. #
  • @lordorica these days, it’s pretty safe to predict that consistently bad service will sooner or later result in bad PR in reply to lordorica #
  • damn, damn, damn. Trying to do too many things at once = doing some of them badly. I hate it when I screw up! #
  • lessons learned today: 1. arriving to set up 1.5 hours early is not necessarily enough. 2. I need one of each kind of FireWire cable #
  • 3. I need a travel-sized laptop with FireWire. #
  • @ThinGuy no Best Buy close enough to this campus, I fear. Must remembr to gt a 9 v battery tonight in reply to ThinGuy #
  • @jonobacon » FemCamp: Sessions & Reflections – I can try to find the name of the woman who spoke on opensource #
  • Italian bloggers on strike today against a proposed Internet gag law in Italy – would help if someone translated this! #
  • @jonobacon I could talk for hours. ; ) Start by asking why I left Italy… You should come to Grace Hopper in October, too. in reply to jonobacon #
  • another reason I left Italy: 1. that actually WAS my most recent salary in Italy and 2. rampant tax evasion (not by me) #
  • just been advised that I should redo the expense report I have aready spent >6 hours on because it “may be corrupted.” There are no words… #
  • @AmberCadabra there is no canonical length for online text or video – use what you need to cover the topic – no more, no less in reply to AmberCadabra #
  • I am SO going to need a drink tonight. Or several. Let’s see whether my date makes it to Brisbane. #
  • there are many things I will miss about Sun. Our expense reporting system is emphatically NOT one of them. #
  • more lessons: slides full of text/busy diagrams work poorly in online streaming video, but also work poorly in the room #
  • ZFS panel with Bonwick & Moore now live at #
  • this day just keeps getting better… #
  • gotta love the instant results with Twitter. It appears that 1% of my followers instantly jumped onto the Kernel Conference stream #
  • An unusually difficult conference: one speaker missed his flight, another quarantined for swine flu. #
  • @lbridenne76 problem with a small toolbox of A/V kit is it tends to add a lot to the 20 lbs of kit I’m already carrying in reply to lbridenne76 #
  • RT @seancarlos: Italy gag law: currently see small section in English + pdf: + Google translate #
  • I’e never seen slides using duplo blocks before – fun! #
  • re. Italian gag law, how will the law qualify “Italian blog”? hosted in Italy? written in Italian? by an Italian citizen? #
  • @plasticbagUK I used Twitter to work out how many days I spent where fr 2008 taxes in reply to plasticbagUK #
  • @divinacucina I suppose the Alfano gag law is designed to increase Berlusconi’s stranglehold on information in Italy. in reply to divinacucina #
  • @mschoenu There’s not a 2×4 big enough to hit them hard enough… You can also call them cretini provinciali di… #
  • trying to understand the proposed Italian law. seems it wd hold bloggers to same standards as big media to “rectify” mistakes w/in 48 hrs #
  • failure to rectify would lead to fines of >$5000. #
  • but who decides what actually needs rectifying? Berlusconi has already lost at least one defamation case (against the Economist) #
  • @mschoenu they haven’t figured out that you are not !00% Italian? in reply to mschoenu #
  • @mschoenu I know – that’s why I’m surprised that people would be surprised at your son’s “foreign” name. Boh. in reply to mschoenu #
  • @webmink see you soon, arriving from the opposite direction! in reply to webmink #
  • @zalez I’ve auditioned 3 new countries this trip: Brazil, NZ, Oz. All cool, but Internet in NZ & Oz sucks in reply to zalez #
  • reading on @BrazenCareerist about happiness. I’m actually pretty happy, tho tired and stressed and uncertain… #
  • @zalez re #internetausdrucker – we generally used Luddite in reply to zalez #
  • streaming has started again at #
  • @dfugate OTOH, just saw a slide on Sun/Intel collab featuring multi-ethnic people who don’t work for either in an office I don’t recognize in reply to dfugate #

^ James, Brendan, Jake

  • I need to make a video of a bay of hard disks shouting back at Brendan Gregg. (who really is, BTW, a sexy cub) #
  • @NathanFillion OMG! Spoiler! in reply to NathanFillion #
  • note: the most useful thing in my A/V kit, after the camera, is the wireless mics. A million ways to use ’em… #
  • @lbridenne76 I think quiet is to be expected today. Kinda glad I’m at a conference in reply to lbridenne76 #
  • I don’t care what your corporate colors are, black text on a blue background for slides is just illegible. #
  • about to return to streaming with “x86 Fast Reboot”Sherry Moore at #
  • @dfugate re. creativity, they could have got a photo of some of the actual people, tho maybe we’re not as pretty as the models in reply to dfugate #
  • had dinner last night with a lot of smart people. Learned interesting/scary things about the film industry. #
  • @davest you’ll be at Oscon? Cool! See you there. in reply to davest #
  • Flying out of Brisbane tomorrow. #
  • …and we’re back, with “Linux Kernel Security Overview”James Morris – #
  • I wish I wouldn’t keep losing bits and pieces. Where did that extra camera battery go? It’s been floating around my luggage, now can’t find #
  • one of the things I love about engineers is that they’re problem-solvers. Was fun watching them get their teeth into a problem last night. #
  • @nonstick no, for that I have the handheld in reply to nonstick #
  • coming up “Boomer: the new OpenSolaris audio system”Garrett D’Amore – #
  • the comment spammers are running out of ideas “My mother’s name is Italian.” And that’s all it says. Blah #
  • @shamu – more whaley stuff for you: Countries Beginning with I » Opotiki #
  • had to unplug the Air, poor grounding in the plug it was sharing caused the videocamera to give me mild shocks thru every metal part #
  • @SaraD I’m really hoping there’s more Alan Rickman in this one. Maybe I’ll stay awake long enough to find out tomorrow night. in reply to SaraD #
  • via Italian movie about social media called Feisbum! – song may be the most interesting thing about it… #
  • OMG, I’ve married into another species #

^ birds (including parrots) flock to their evening roosts at the Queensland University campus

  • one more hour of conf, then reception, dinner and… cricket? #

^ now I know why Terry Pratchett called his Australia-analog “Fourecks”

  • Panel – Secure Software Engineering / in-kernel SecurityCristina Cifuentes, James Morris, Fernando Gont – live on #
  • lively discussion on computer security and education #
  • “Everything’s written in C eventually.” Gets a big laugh from this audience. #
  • glad the conference day is almost over. Very tired. #
  • Brendan talking about kernel engineering culture shock in the US: #
  • awaiting my flight at Brisbane airport (to SFO via Sydney). Was up til 3 am watching cricket. I may have learned a thing or two. #
  • ending the overseas portion of this trip. My favorite part has been getting the right smart people together to make wonderful things happen #
  • what I learned about cricket last night did not include the definitions of “googley” and “hat trick”. #
  • Note: Aussies really do say “No worries” a lot. And you can taste wine in Brisbane airport at 9 am (no, not gonna). #
  • @ThinGuy I did, but about to board a plane to head back. Met lots of great people, hung out with some great “old” ones. Kernel Conf great. in reply to ThinGuy #
  • Waiting to board flight in Brisbane at 10:30 am Friday. I will arrive in San Francisco on Friday at 10:15 am. Let’s do the time warp again! #
  • Landed sfo. Confused. #
  • Waiting for airport shuttle to take me to san jose. Starving, but will need a shower before food. Who’s in town already? #
  • Appropriately? watched part of “Australia” on flight fm Sydney.Answers the burning question
    “does Huge look better w or w/o beard?” #
  • NB: Huge definitely looks better w/o shirt #
  • seat partner on the flight from Sydney is doing her PhD in social media, with a thesis on fan vids. how did Qantas know to seat us together? #
  • wearing my geek cred: overheard someone in Brisbane airport say “OpenSolaris!” Then a guy chatted me up in the line thx to Wikipedia bag #
  • slept funny on the plane and seem to have pinched a nerve in my neck/shoulder. Need a massage! #
  • @jonobacon is the plan still on to meet at 7 to decide where to have dinner? #cls in reply to jonobacon #
  • @metadaddy with Ambien, I can sleep, even on planes. This stuff has changed my life! It’s a whole new order of jet lag management. in reply to metadaddy #
  • asked Ross about her impressions of Italy this trip. She’s alarmed by a rise in anorexia, including a couple of friends of hers. Scary. #
  • Milan first city in Italy to make alcohol illegal for under-16s (in Italian) | Reuters #
  • Lessee… everyone is meeting at 7 in the lobby. I have two hours to nap! #
  • Marriott fail: no makeup mirror. Even the Quality Inn in Porto Alegre had one! #
  • @lskrocki I’m so blind that I can’t see to put on makeup unless I’m about 3″ from the mirror. This is hard with a bathroom counter 3′ deep. in reply to lskrocki #
  • okay, that’s it, lack of sleep has officially caught up with me. Dinner at Mezcal was good, blood orange magarita aside (too sweet) #
  • @glynnfoster one margarita hardly counts as alcohol! in reply to glynnfoster #
  • @Silona be careful. A HS bully found me via internet years ago, motives were not entirely (if at all) to apologize for the past in reply to Silona #
  • RT @Silona: HS bullies friending on FB – fortunately, after bullying in earlier grades, I went to the right HS #
  • @mtuckerb hey, look me up! will be back in a few minutes #cls in reply to mtuckerb #
  • interesting org I’ve just learned about at #cls : #
  • @markwilliams I definitely want to attend your cmty metrics talk – I’m a stats geek #cls in reply to markwilliams #
  • @markwilliams we’ve learned from stats that traffic to a project can be v diff from *perception* of project’s health. Always measure! #cls in reply to markwilliams #
  • @deirdresm met Rick #cls today. Hope you can join us for dinner tomorrow! in reply to deirdresm #
  • @italylogue i think I’ll see @rosso first, tho! in reply to italylogue #

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Social Media Production: What I’m Doing in Brisbane

^ photo by thegreeno. This is me with two laptops in one lap, monitoring video, sound, and chat simultaneously. Not as calm as I look.

Executive Overview: What You Need to Stream Video with UStream

  • videocamera with FireWire output
  • laptop with FireWire input
  • FireWire cable with the appropriate plugs on each end (mini/4 pin for the videocamera, Windows laptops also seem to use this type, but there are several possibilities on Macs)
  • audio source with appropriate cable into laptop’s mic port – one option is to use the camera’s headset jack (if it has one)
  • hard-wired Internet access close to the laptop (wifi is probably not sufficient to support the video stream)
  • possibly a second laptop to monitor the stream and chats
  • earphones to monitor sound quality on the stream
  • tripod
  • videotapes
  • electrical power source close to all this, with plugs for the camera and the 1 or 2 laptops – bringing your own multiple power strip is a good idea
  • local electrical adapter(s)

The Story

We thought this conference would be taped using fancy dual video systems here at the Queensland Brain Institute. Which would have made my presence here somewhat redundant.

But QBI’s auditorium just got a big upgrade this week, and the new systems aren’t fully operational yet. We couldn’t get the telepresence camera aimed at the speakers, and in any case it’s not possible to stream to the open Internet from it (maybe it’s set up for within-campus streaming as well as capture).

So it was a good thing I and my gear came along.

The setup seemed straightforward when we visited the venue Monday afternoon. There’s a hole in the floor containing power and Ethernet in the third row of the audiotorium. I could set up the camera there, borrow a laptop with FireWire (when I packed for this trip, I knew I would regret not bringing the 17″ MacBook Pro I use for video editing, but I also knew I would regret having to carry it), we’d get an audio feed of the fancy new high-tech podium, all fine and dandy.

All wrong.

Wednesday morning we realized:

No way to get audio out from the podium mic to my system. The keynote would be two speakers (both of whom are pacers), and I only have one wireless lapel mic. Okay, I’ll use the shotgun mic and pick up room sound. Not ideal for camera sound, but better than nothing.

For the video stream, James brought his Dell laptop with FireWire, and I have two FireWire cables with me, including the right one for this laptop. But, when James came back from some last-minute errand at 8:45 am and unlocked his laptop for us, we realized that he runs Solaris and hadn’t yet installed Flash. Once we did install it, the laptop still couldn’t see the camera, and we didn’t have time to figure out why.

The quickest solution was to borrow a laptop from QBI. But I didn’t have the right FireWire cable for this older MacBook (why are there so damn many types?), nor a way to get audio into it. And the conference needed to start.

So we turned the MacBook around to face the audience and used its built-in webcam and mic to stream the first session. It wasn’t great, but it worked (audio was better if you were wearing headphones on the other end of the stream). Poor video quality made the slides illegible: I followed the UStream chat from my own laptop, and typed in the slide content. We had over 40 people on the video stream during the keynote (on ZFS), and they were grateful for whatever we could do to help them participate. I also relayed questions from the UStream chat to the speakers.

This is an auditorium with rows of seats, no table, desks, or arm-desks: we had the laptop precariously balanced on the back of a seat. Of course it fell, interrupting the stream, but fortunately suffered no damage. Can’t say the same for my foot when it fell a second time…

By the time we were ready to start the second presentation, the correct FireWire cable had been located, so we were able to use the camera to stream higher-quality video. Problem: for filming, I usually focus the camera on the speaker, knowing that I will edit in the slides later as graphic overlays. But the online audience needed to see the slides during the talk, and they weren’t yet available for download. So this video will be a lot more boring footage of slides than I usually shoot. I had too many things to manage to keep the camera moving between slides and speaker as much as I would have liked.

We also needed a way to get audio into the MacBook for the UStream feed which, annoyingly, doesn’t just take the audio off the FireWire from the camera. I used my wireless lapel mic on the remaining speakers, attaching the wireless receiver directly to the MacBook’s mic input. I can’t remember how sound got into the MacBook when the three-person panel was speaking. We must have somehow left the lapel mic lying in the right place to pick up good sound.

On the second morning James Lever, a local volunteer, brought in a sound board, but we didn’t have the right cables and adapters to put it all together with my wireless mics – it would take a good-sized trunk to carry around parts and cables for every possible contingency. We continued to use my wireless lapel mic on the speakers, but this time fed it into the camera via the Beachtek mixer, then used an audio cable with 3.5 mm connectors on each end to take audio from the camera’s headphone jack to the laptop. This means the camera is getting better sound, though it seems to cause a slight hum in the UStream audio.


Make slides available for download in advance. This is also a service to people in the room, because many of the slides were difficult even in the room, because they were too dense or used low-contrast text and background colors, and room lighting is not ideal.

Wireless mics have a thousand uses. Don’t leave home without them.