Sometimes, when we're on the ball, we'll meet and discuss ideas for the upcoming show as well as discuss technical production concerns.

I've been working on a new integrated chat and video page. I tried a couple of 2-column CSS layouts, tweaked one, picked it and started dressing it up.

phpFreeChat requires that IE be in IE7 compatibility mode which messes up some of the formatting. The big problem if the browser window is too skinny, but for now I think we're safe (enough) to assume that IE users' windows will be at least 1000px wide. IE7 mode also messes up one of the new Twitter widgets I added to the page, but it's also functional enough and doesn't detract. I might be able to work around these problems by putting chat in an iframe, but I haven't tried yet.

Oh yeah, I added a Twitter search box that follows #DBAsAtMidnight and a button that tweets to #DBAsAtMidnight, so maybe we can get some cross-discussion people chat and Twitter. There is also a "Follow @MidnightDBA" button. The MSSQL community has a large and active presence on Twitter. (Pssst...search for #SQLhelp)

Sean wants a live viewer count on the page, and that's a fabulous idea. But at the moment I don't have comprehensive stats logging, but it was on my list to do real soon. We'll probably manage something with an AJAX update from a text file we'll refresh periodically. The trick would seem to be that we're running two streaming servers: Windows Media Services for the main feed and a VLC h.264/AAC transcoder for the Flash and iPad/iPod viewers.

I'm hoping to get one integrated chat/video page to support all browsers, but that won't happen this week. For now I'll have 2-4 interface pages to support the various combinations. Targets include:

  • Windows Media Player plugin (primary, best stream)
  • Flash (transcoded)
  • HTML5 video (not sure yet if this works live, should work in iPad, transcoded)
  • Silverlight (might allow all browsers on Windows to access the primary stream)

Windows Media Services and player will likely continue to be our primary target because of the features we have. I hope to soon start multi-bitrate encoding so the streaming quality can rise and fall with the client's bandwidth availability.

Now I need to go work on something else we talked about in the show meeting, but I can't tell you what just yet.