Tag Archives: streaming media

Provide more memory to Android apps

My Android phone arrived with useless apps that were installed by T-Mobile. Some of them load at start time and needlessly consume processor cycles and memory.

I’ve found that I can free up about 60 megabytes of memory shortly after starting up the phone. I run Task Manager by holding down the phone’s Home button. Next I press the Task manager button, followed by the RAM button at the top of the screen.


Next, I press the Clear memory button at the bottom of the screen. This stops at least ten useless apps and frees at least 50 megabytes of memory.

On my Android Gingerbread phone, these extra megabytes of available memory make the difference between long YouTube videos crashing the phone and streaming to completion. YMMV.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Winamp and Shoutcast rescued from the deadpool

Winamp, the terrific MP3 player, and its companion Internet audio streaming network known as Shoutcast, have been rescued by Radionomy, a Belgian podcast aggregator.

Steven Alexander Hanifl commented,

Shoutcast is one of the only true windows into foreign culture in US media.

Shoutcast logoI agree. It’s like listening to shortwave broadcast, only better, because there’s no interference and we’re not bludgeoned by government or corporate propaganda.

Last November, AOL announced its plan to shut down both Winamp and Shoutcast on 20 December. I was surprised to find many Shoutcast stations still alive during the Christmas holiday.

Today I learned that AOL granted Shoutcast a reprieve while it negotiates a Winamp/Shoutcast sale to Radionomy. I’ve never heard of Radionomy. I’m just happy to learn that Shoutcast and Winamp will survive.


Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Google as hardware manufacturer

With today’s introduction of the Motorola Moto X smartphone, Google has hit three consecutive hardware home runs:

  1. Nexus 7 tablet $230
  2. Chromecast video streamer $35
  3. Moto X phone $200 with cellular contract




Nexus 7 smartphone
Nexus 7 tablet

Chromecast video streamer
Chromecast video streamer

Moto X smartphone
Moto X smartphone

All three products set new price / performance benchmarks.

Ten years ago, who would have guessed that Google would not only be manufacturing hardware, but would be setting the pace in hardware? Kudos to Google.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Let The Good Times Roll on YouTube

I saw the movie “Let The Good Times Roll” while working in west Africa, c 1976, in a movie theater in Apapa, Nigeria, that was run by a group of enterprising Lebanese. Eclectic would describe the theater’s offerings: in one month, they’d run Bengalese romance / adventures, Hong Kong kickfests, a Truffaut movie, Australian and British comedies, and scratchy prints of faded 5-year old American blockbusters. No attempt was made to translate or subtitle foreign language films. I had no TV, and after a while listening to shortwave broadcasts from the BBC, VOA, Radio France, and Deutsche Welle grew old, so I’d treat myself to a movie or two each month.

The show would open with an old Warner Brothers or Tom & Jerry cartoon or two, a few ads for local products such as Elephant Power detergent, followed by the feature film.

letgoodtimesroll-170wI still remember watching “Let The Good Times Roll”. I was knocked out by the concert footage of Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Bo Diddley, et al on one stage. I especially liked the close-up candid backstage footage: we witness the mixture of fear, anticipation, and bravado of these rock and roll legends. I’ve never seen this film available on VHS or DVD, and had given up ever seeing it again.

YouTube Rocks (& Rolls)

Yesterday, I found it on YouTube! If you’re a fan of early rock and roll, click on over to YouTube to watch this movie, post haste. YouTube has a habit of taking down videos that skate on thin copyright ice, so hurry before it disappears.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Manage your Android phone’s battery.

I like the well-done GSam battery monitor app for my Android (Gingerbread) phone. It tells me how much current each process is consuming, and estimates remaining charge time and talk times, as well as battery charge state and temperature and RF signal strength as a function of time. My Samsung SGH-T679 has a small battery, whose charge is quickly depleted when streaming audio and especially video, so this gauge is essential for my phone. It’s just what the doctor ordered. I found it in my phone’s Android Play Store. It was free of charge.

You can see that the screen gobbles most of my battery’s current, so I try to turn the screen off whenever possible.

GSam battery monitor screens
GSam battery monitor for Android Screenshots.
The leftmost screen is running on battery.
The center screen is running on charger.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

How to turn off Android streaming.

I love to stream podcasts or live audio programs to my Android phone (Gingerbread 2.3.6 on a Samsung SGH-T679). Sometimes when I’ve heard enough, I can’t stop the streaming. Android screenshotThen, I resort to forcing the streaming app (such as TuneIn) to stop. From any Home screen,

  • Tap Applications
  • Scroll to and tap Settings
  • Choose Applications
  • Choose Manage Applications
  • Scroll to and choose the streaming application (such as TuneIn)
  • Press the Force stop button
  • Press the OK button

The streaming should have stopped now. If not, maybe another app is streaming audio; try the same procedure but choose a different app to stop. Otherwise, restart your Android device.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

A remedy for display timeout killing Android streaming audio

Within the last week, my podcast streaming on my Android phone has been frustrated by the audio quitting shortly after the screen blanks. Samsung Exhibit II SGH-T679 phone

Apparently my Samsung Insight II SGH-T679 with Android 2.3.6 Gingerbread by default maintains network connections even when the screen is blanked. I gather that Android includes a setting that can change this so that Android disables network connections when the screen turns off. This setting doesn’t appear on my phone, so there’s no obvious way to change it.

The fix: I think that an app called Battery Booster had toggled this setting. I think. Here’s what fixed this problem:

  1. Uninstall Battery Booster
  2. Turn off phone
  3. Remove battery
  4. Remove SIM card
  5. Replace SIM card
  6. Replace battery
  7. Turn on phone
  8. Click on Applications
  9. Go to Settings
  10. Go to Wireless and network
  11. Go to Wi-Fi settings
  12. Turn off Wi-Fi

This worked for me. It may or may not work for you.

In any case, my phone now obediently streams audio, even after its display turns off. All’s well that ends well.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Streaming NPR to my Android phone

Here’s a great use for my new Android smartphone.

prairiehome.publicradio.org website
Gary Keillor and cast of A Prairie Home Companion radio show performing in Lanesboro, Minnesota. June, 2007
photo: Jonathunder

Finally, my new Android phone is paying for itself. I followed the suggestion that Sue made in a comment and loaded some apps on my new Android phone. One of my faves is the Tunein app. I’m now listening to one of my favorite weekly radio programs, A Prairie Home Companion, broadcast on NPR (National Public Radio) stations. I love its freewheeling live radio show feel, its music, the humorous skits, and the writing.

Ah, the writing! The show’s creator, producer, writer, singer, and emcee is a talented fellow in his late 60s named Gary Keillor. He likes to call himself Garrison, for some reason. He’s a terrific writer, revealing gentle humor and a tender heart. He’s also a master at running a tight show.

As a person, Mr. Keillor seems less than perfect. He’s left a trail of unhappy people behind him. He’s invariably in favor of Democrats and reserves real criticism for Republicans. I recall Winston Churchill’s observation, “If when you’re young you’re not a liberal, you have no heart. If, when you’re older, you’re not a conservative, you have no brain”. Mr. Keillor long ago should have matured into a conservative, but he has not. I chalk it up to provincialist naïveté. I don’t care what his politics are, but it bugs me that he feels free to express them, while accepting taxpayers’ money.

I love the witty Guy Noir, Lefty and Dusty, Ruth Gordon Reference Librarian, Ketchup Advisory Board, and Professional Organization of English Majors skits. Mr. Keillor has surrounded himself with a brilliant cast to perform his droll dialogue.

touchAbout the phone
My biggest problem is its touchscreen. I keep accidentally choosing icons when I mean to merely scroll the screen. Maybe if I lost about a hundred pounds, my fingers would shrink enough to work that dinky touchpad.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Streamingradioguide.com returns from the deadpool.

I’ve been using tunein.com, but I’ve missed streamingradioguide.com. Now I have a choice. Choice is good.

Streamingradioguide.com website
My favorite site for linking to radio station streams was streamingradioguide.com. It shut down operations in April (Streamingradioguide.com has entered the deadpool) so I’ve learned to like tunein.com.

Sometime recently (I don’t know exactly when) streamingradioguide.com was resurrected, with these notes on its front page:

  • The expenses of providing this service paid by “Art Stone”
  • Hooray! All the budget problems are solved.

It’s good to see it back online.

Each site has advantages and each site chooses to organize radio shows differently. Tunein.com offers pre-recorded audio content that streamingradioguide.com doesn’t offer, and streamingradioguide.com displays current status of radio streams better than tunein.com does. Streamingradioguide.com also seems a bit more idiosyncratic than tunein.com.

I guess that the absence of streamingradioguide.com has shown how fickle I am: I very quickly learned to like tunein.com just fine. (Rather than “fickle”, maybe I should cast a better light and use the word “flexible”. Yeah, that’s the ticket!)

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Tons o’ science video news

trademark: National Geographic Society
Keep up with the exploration of our world . . . and of other worlds.

I ran across the National Geographic Magazine‘s Space Technology News site. It loops through its many video clips with news from undersea to outer space exploration.

The clips are all well-produced, contain great material, and are succinct. You can catch up on any topic in just a few minutes.

I’m happy to see that the National Geographic Society has extended its reputation for the high quality of its print publications into the era of web-based video presentation.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

A few words about podcasts

The Podcave
Photo by: Tim Wilson
A tidy podcaster’s console
Nerds with microphones, Listen up!

I enjoy listening to podcasts while I work on computers. My favorite content is technical.

I have a few gripes with many podcasts that are aimed at techies:

  1. Some podcasters imagine that listeners actually care about the podcasters’ personal lives. As a listener, I couldn’t care less about any podcaster’s personal life; discussion of a podcaster’s personal life is a waste of MY time and avoidance of the podcaster’s responsibility to convey information.
  2. Many podcasters imagine that their all too obvious jokes are funny, and often laugh at their own lame jokes. Here’s a news flash for podcasting entrepreneur Leo Laporte: you are not a reincarnation of Johnny Carson . . . and lose that forced laugh.
  3. Some podcasters imagine that their taste in music is so erudite and/or hip, that their listeners should be subjected to extended musical performances by their favorite Yanni wannabe.

Most of these faults are the result of the illusion conveyed by a microphone that your every thought, observation, and experience is worthy of broadcasting to the world. Humility, a rare trait, is essential to a good podcaster.

Don’t despair, dear reader. Good technical podcasts do exist. My favorite is Steve Gibson’s Security Now (despite Mr. Laporte’s participation), followed by Stratford University’s Tech Talk, WBAI’s Personal Computer Show, and 2600’s Off The Wall. None of these is perfect, but (with the occasional exception of the Personal Computer Show’s irritating NYC accents, personalities, and loony politics), they contain an acceptable ratio of valuable content to dreck.

Do you have a favorite tech podcast? Please tell us about it.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Streamingradioguide.com has entered the deadpool

I’m trying tunein.com now.

Marconi crystal radio using galena detector, 1923
Marconi crystal radio using galena detector, 1923

I’ve been using streamingradioguide.com for years to find and listen to streaming radio shows. Now it seems to be gone forever and I miss it. Luckily, tunein.com looks like it will suffice as a replacement.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Blockbuster enters the endgame

Photo: Andy Callahan (ferret111)

Entertainment will inevitably be distributed on demand over fiberoptic cable . . . not on plastic discs.

Blockbuster Inc has announced that it plans to file for bankruptcy. Blockbuster owns about 10,000 US stores.

I recall when Wayne Huizenga sold Blockbuster to Viacom for 8.4 billion dollars in 1994. As usual, Wayne sold high. It was obvious even then that the rental tape / disc model would make no sense in the future. (Ask the customer to drive a 3500 pound car to the store to transport a piece of plastic that weighs a few ounces? Are you kidding?!) Sooner or later, video content would be distributed over fiberoptic cable. I thought, "Mr. Huizenga has perfect timing". I wasn’t sure exactly what form electronic distribution might take, but it seemed inevitable. In 1994, Viacom bought a technology that had seen its best days.

Wayne Huizenga
Wayne Huizenga

This emphasizes just how prescient Wayne was: he bought Blockbuster in 1987 from a Dallas company which had grown to dominance because David Cook, its founder, had written his own inventory control / rental processing software that allowed it to operate more efficiently than its competitors. It tracked transactions and adjusted inventory mix to suit each neighborhood. That’s really all that Blockbuster had going for it: superior operating software. It was a good example of how important a company’s choice of software is; Blockbuster was able to turnover more inventory and squeeze more profit from each transaction of just a few dollars. Its competitors, who had sloppier inventory control, couldn’t keep up.

Now, years later, it seems that the fortunes of Blockbuster again hinge upon software: apparently their Total Access online service is inferior to Netflix’ software. So Blockbuster is going bankrupt.

Here’s a chronology of Blockbuster. There must be a lesson here. Maybe, software is the lifeblood of an organization. The trick is to keep it stable while updating it to reflect changing markets and technologies. That’s a tall order!

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Farewell (probably) to Cranky Geeks

Screenshot: Cranky Geeks

My favorite webcast has (apparently) been canceled.

John Dvorak has been a writer in the microcomputer industry since at least about 1986, when I first found his column in PC Magazine. He seemed to be well-introduced to the microcomputer industry players, and reported industry news with an intelligent and witty point view. His column soon became the first feature that I’d turn to each month.

Years later, (maybe the mid-1990s?) he had a syndicated radio show (carried by NPR stations) which discussed microcomputer news. I still quote his sign-off: "Whatever you learned this week will be null and void by this time next week."

For the past few years, I’ve made a weekly habit of watching John’s Cranky Geeks webcast. The format is simple: John and three computer industry guests sit around a table and kick around a few tech news topics. John plays ringmaster and offers often hilarious comments that are based upon his jaded point of view.

The webcast originates from Silicon Valley, which allows a large cast of characters from inside the industry.

I’m not sure why, but the show has apparently been canceled by its owner. I suspect that limited advertising revenue may be a major cause, but I don’t know if there are other reasons for the show’s demise. If you’re interested in the inner workings of the microcomputer industry without the usual hype, watch or listen to a couple archived Cranky Geeks episodes.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Listen to the Google story

I enjoy listening to podcasts as I work on computers.

In audio form, here’s the story of where Google came from and where it’s going, by the author of the book, Planet Google: One Company’s Audacious Plan to Organize Everything We Know. It’s a 16-minute long audio interview. (To listen, your PC will need to have a soundcard and speaker.): Listenhttp://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=97744081  (This is NPR’s introduction page. To listen, press the red Listen Now speaker icon on the page.)

Here’s an article that I wrote in March about the inner workings and hidden mechanisms of Google: http://russbellew.spaces.live.com/blog/cns!D5F86162D2CCCC87!389.entry