Tidbit: VLC for Multicast Testing

Its pretty well documented on the lovely inter tubes that using VLC to stream multicast is a pretty slick way to test out a multicast setup. It’s also pretty well documented that you need to change the TTL for multicast in VLC to something other than the default 1 or 0 or whatever it is.

Okay cool, so no problem right? VLC has a pretty nifty little “wizard” to set up a stream. Click next, type a group address to use, pick a flavor (UDP or RTP), pick some transcode stuff, and last page (on OSX, also somewhere in Windows, but maybe not the last page) the magical “TTL” setting. It starts at 1. Okay great, so we already know we need to change this… so put it to 10, or 100, or whatever you want.

So cool, time to test. Start with a sender and a receiver in the same subnet just to test it out — easy money, of course that works. Okay great, so next lets move between subnets. WTF. No dice. You know you can set up PIM dense mode…. its possibly the easiest thing ever. Turns out that the little TTL thing you thought you set didn’t really do anything. At all. Nothing.

So if you take a journey to the “Preferences” page and do the “Show All” in OSX, or “Advanced” (or something of the like) in Windows, there just so happens to be a section for “Stream output.” Well in said section there’s another menu called “Access output.” In this menu, there’s ANOTHER TTL setting. So you thought you set the TTL before to 10 or something, but this one still says NOT THAT!!! GRRR!!!  Change this to whatever you need, and wham bam thank you ma’am (assuming your multicast setup is good) you’re off and streaming!


I’d love to link to the other blog that lead me to discover this, but I can’t seem to re-find it. So hopefully this helps somebody else out!


Soapbox #2

Soapbox #2: Know Your Role?

As you may or may not have picked up on, I work for a VAR. I do post sales. The company wants to keep it that way (dedicated post and pre sales guys). I don’t. Maybe. Probably. Sort of.

For the past few months things have lined up a bit and I’ve been fortunate enough to tag along with a pretty cool account manager and get to do the pre-sales thing a fair bit more than I normally would. This, along with starting this blog, and trying to grow a bit in my craft, have led me to some simple truths: Pre-sales is cool. Post-sales is cool. Doing either one too much may cause unwanted side effects. My grandpa (really smart guy) always says, the answer is somewhere in the middle (this applies to so many other things, particular beef of mine being “enterprise” vs. “giants”, but that’s another post).

So what the hell am I getting at?

Pre-sales guys always make me feel dumb. They live in a whimsical sales-y world where they are exposed to multiple vendors, new products, and new trends/technologies all the time. They get to weave these new things into the environments they see, and on paper at least, get to apply and leverage these things for our customers. On top of all of that, they have to be able to (if they are half decent) articulate all of this (sometimes cutting edge stuff) to customers, and paint this beautiful picture of what could be.

Post-sales guys have to live with it. They only get to see what the company sells. They only get to see what their customer base gets talked into buying. On the positive side though, this creates seriously practical experiences. They see what works and what doesn’t. They know how many hours (in real life not sales world) implementing XYZ technology will take. They know the practical benefits, and pitfalls of the technology du jour.

I still don’t think I’ve made a point yet…. working on it.

At this point, I think its clear we’ve come full circle to what my grandpa said. The answer is somewhere in the middle. I think that learning the “art” of pre sales, and keeping up on all the technologies is absolutely critical, maybe even more so for post sales guys than pre sales. Conversely I think its super important to temper that optimism and to filter the bullshit out through a lens of practical experience.

I’m going to continue to do my best to get exposure to the sales side of the house, and to keep up on network technology trends; but I’m going to keep implementing so that I can keep a check on all the rosy sales crap. I want to be somewhere in the middle so that I can be better at whichever side of things I fall on for any particular day.