WordPress 3.6 “Oscar” Built-in Media Player vs Vimeo & YouTube

Three days ago, WordPress.org released WordPress 3.6 Oscar which boasts a slew of new features including:

  • The new Twenty Thirteen theme inspired by modern art puts focus on your content with a colorful, single-column design made for media-rich blogging.
  • Revamped Revisions save every change and the new interface allows you to scroll easily through changes to see line-by-line who changed what and when.
  • Post Locking and Augmented Autosave will especially be a boon to sites where more than a single author is working on a post. Each author now has their own autosave stream, which stores things locally as well as on the server (so much harder to lose something) and there’s an interface for taking over editing of a post, as demonstrated beautifully by our bearded buddies in the video above.
  • Built-in HTML5 media player for native audio and video embeds with no reliance on external services.
  • The Menu Editor is now much easier to understand and use.

My personal favorite is the built-in HTML5 media player which reduces the need for external video-sharing services such as Vimeo and YouTube. As a content developer I am interested in this feature because I feel it will enhance the professionalism of my website by removing third-party branding.

As an experiment I decided to upload two videos and view them on my Macbook and iPhone. I was curious to see how long it would take to upload and play a video using WordPress’ new built-in media player in comparison to YouTube and Vimeo. The experiment was conducted using Google Chrome 29.0.1547.32 beta on an AT&T 6 Mbps connection.

A 2 minute, 50 MB video shot in 720p and encoded in H.264 takes exactly 00:12:45.8 to upload to a WordPress 3.6 site hosted on iPage. The video is viewable immediately, but pauses for extended periods as it buffers. I have concluded that it takes approximately 13 minutes to upload and watch a video of that size on WordPress.

The same video took 00:12:42.4 to upload to a Vimeo Plus account and then an additional 00:01:57.2 to process in SD then an additional 00:02:19.9  to process in HD for a combined total of approximately 17 minutes. The extra processing doesn’t prevent abrupt skippage though. However, it should be noted that Vimeo protested the bitrate of the video tested. If converted in accordance to Vimeo’s compression guidelines the video file would have been 80 MB and would have added additional time to achieve the ideal result.

The same video took 00:12:07.9 to upload to YouTube and then an additional 00:02:09.8 to process for an approximate total time of 14 minutes. YouTube made no complaints about the file’s bitrate and playback was skip-less.

In conclusion, WordPress’ new built-in media player is the fastest method to upload a video, the video plays back in its original quality, but takes a considerable time to buffer when watching for the first time. The built-in media player attempts to get a head start for subsequent plays by loading a segment of the video when the page it’s on loads. This makes for a skip-less playback experience the second time around.

Shuttle Tracker for iOS

I am currently developing an app called Shuttle Tracker for iOS. I have taken on the project as part of an elective course; formally known as MIS 4399 iOS App Development.

I first came up with the idea during my sophomore year at the University of the Incarnate Word (UIW) while a friend and I were waiting for the campus shuttle. Since the shuttle doesn’t run on a set schedule – it’s hard to know when it will arrive. A decision had to be made: would it be faster to walk or wait for the shuttle?

There’s nothing worse than waiting 15-25 minutes for a shuttle; deciding to walk, a half-mile, only to get passed up by the shuttle and arrive extremely late to class.

With the app I am developing – there will no longer be a need to make such an uninformed decision again! The app will determine where the shuttles are located on campus, which shuttle is the closest to the student, how long it will take for the closest shuttle to reach the student’s current location and then how long it will take to reach the student’s final destination. The app will also compare how long it would take to walk to the student’s final destination vs taking the shuttle. Then the app will either suggest to walk or wait for the shuttle.

Generally it isn’t recommended to share your app ideas with the public before the app is available in the App Store, but for the class I needed to run through the whole process of creating an app and marketing it.

Since publishing our apps to the App Store isn’t a requirement – the only way to simulate the demand for our app would be to measure the number of likes it receives on Facebook.

So far, Shuttle Tracker has received 60 likes organically. That means, even after I was awarded $50 from Facebook for receiving 50 likes for my app – I did not utilize their targeted advertising tools. I didn’t want my app to go UIW viral until after I finished it and had it up in the App Store.

Even while trying to keep “mum” about the app I managed to have a feature article written about it in the LOGOS, UIW’s student newspaper. Perhaps at this point it wouldn’t matter if I used the targeted advertising tools or not – it already has potential of attracting a lot of attention! I have been told that the article should be coming out in their next issue.

Shuttle Tracker was never intended as just a class project – it has always been something more. And since it’s designed specifically for the students at UIW, it’s only right that they get to witness it develop. I hope to continue working on the app long after I graduate in May. But, until the app is complete, I’ll try to keep the megaphone’s volume on 1.

Community Minecraft City on XBOX Live

Minecraft is one of those games that you hear about once in the hallway and then find yourself addicted to during finals. My obsession with Minecraft has led me to buy the game for my computer, iOS and XBOX 360. I even persuaded my friends to give the game a try.

A couple of friends thought the game was boring, but it didn’t take long before they found themselves addicted as well.

One year after being introduced to Minecraft – my six friends and I have built an elaborate city. Our city is complete with thirteen skyscrapers, a church, art museum, shopping center, hospital, capital, tiki bar, gas station, five homes, 7 railways, an underwater observatory, a bird’s-eye view observatory and an underground bunker than connects to at least five buildings. In all there are 35 above-ground structures.

We generally spend our nights building together. Its fun! While we build, we talk. Who knew that you could have such deep conversations while playing a video game. I’d say I’ve sketched out a whole business plan while playing Minecraft at least a half-dozen times; committing these thoughts to paper – is another story.
Our city is open to developers, there’s plenty of land available. Just add SnazzyFlea as your friend on XBOX Live and I’ll give you a virtual tour.

My Experiences with App Development

I was first inspired to create an iPhone app by Steve Job’s presentation at the World Wide Developer’s Conference (WWDC) in 2009. At the time I was a junior in high school and had just transitioned to Mac OS X after terrible experiences with Microsoft Vista and Hewlett-Packard’s customer service. I didn’t know much about Apple, but I knew I wanted to learn. The enthusiasm of Steve Job’s and the others who spoke at the WWDC was very inspirational.

It didn’t take long for me to register as a developer. From the developer member’s page I was able to download early versions of XCode and the entire WWDC 2010 podcast. I found myself regularly coming up with ideas for apps, including one I called Shuttle Tracker.

The basic purpose of Shuttle Tracker would be to track the whereabouts of shuttles on university campuses. I have continuously developed the idea all the way into my senior year in college, which is when, I was walking in the hallway and I saw a poster advertising the iOS App Development course. The poster read: “Open to all majors as a general elective. No experience required!” I immediately signed up to take the course during my last semester.

MIS 4399 iOS App Development is in its pilot stage. Only two institutions offer this course – Standford University and the University of the Incarnate Word. By far, the difficulty of the material and expectations of the course are exceedingly high. However, the potential of the course is equally so.

Dr. Bo Han at the University of the Incarnate Word is by far the most enthusiastic professor I have ever met. Each lecture he came in ready to share knowledge that could potentially transform everyone in the room to the next self-made millionaire. I was very impressed with his enthusiasm. His enthusiasm was similar to that found on the stage of the WWDCs during Steve Job’s tenure at Apple. I found myself believing that each new line of code was going to change the world – as it already has proven true several times before!
He studied the material very hard and went beyond the two textbooks to develop practical explanations of what each line of code was doing. I cannot stress how much I really appreciated that.

The experience I gained from being exposed to Objective-C and Xcode has already increased my employability. The first question I am asked when meeting with business professionals is usually related to my experience with that course and my progress on the Shuttle Tracker app.

I was definitely challenged by this course. I learned a lot about something I knew very little about and now I can say I am on the right track – I’m getting closer to reaching my goal. It won’t happen overnight, but with persistence and the instruction I have received – I know I can change the world!

How to Delete All of Your Old Tweets on Twitter

Have you ever wanted to delete all of your old tweets on Twitter? I know I have. My reason might be a little different for yours, but I just thought it would look neater if I had a fresh start.

It turns out that I am not a huge fan of the generic, auto-tweets that services like YouTube and Instagram generate. No one reads them, and they look extremely tacky on my Twitter profile. I want to delete all of them for a fresh start.

The only problem is that I have 2,000+ tweets to delete and Twitter doesn’t offer a “delete all” button. That means I have to go and delete them one by one – and I’ve actually tried that. But, for some reason deleted tweets keep magically reappearing on my profile and my browser freezes up when I try to delete more than 20 tweets at a time.

So, the obvious solution is to delete your entire Twitter account and start over, right? Wrong. I tried that as well. It can take up to 30 days before your email address is available to create a new account. The only way around that is if you change your email address before deactivating. But then, you are still faced with the task of re-following your friends and asking all of your friends to refollow you.

Today I discovered a cool app call TwitWipe. TwitWipe deletes all of your old posts in just a few clicks.

Simply visit twitwipe.com and sign in with your Twitter account, then click delete. Be forewarned that there is no undo button – once you click delete, they’re gone forever! But, that’s probably what you wanted to do anyway right? Exactly.

How to Unleash Hollywood Special Effects with your iPhone

After playing Flight Adventure 2, an indie game for XBOX 360, I concluded that its player experience was a tad bit incomplete.

Sure, it had stellar graphics, but the limitations were endless. One player, in one plane, on one map, without any missiles – something’s wrong here!

So, I fixed it. With an iPhone app!

I added a missile effect to an otherwise tranquil video game.

Granted the fix is only available on YouTube, it won’t spice up your copy on the XBOX 360, but I think that its remedy can be appreciated by all.

The app is called “Action Movie,” and it’s available for free in the App Store.

Not only does it spice up tranquil video games – it will add a little punch to your iPhone-shot videos as well.

Live Streaming

I have recently become interested in streaming events live on my website. You may have already noticed the new “live” tab on the menu bar. I have already streamed several events live. These events would include, President Bill Clinton’s speech at South San High School for the Bexar County Vote Rally, the Water & Culture Symposium at the University of the Incarnate Word, Huxley the Cat, and a shot of trees in Brackenridge Park.

From the beginning, when I had initially launched agarcia.tv, I wanted to stay true to the “TV” part of the name. Finally, I feel that I am. Live streaming is the closet I can get to transforming this site into an online television station.

The events that I have streamed live so far are experiments. Each time I stream an event live I am learning about the various streaming services available. So far I have experimented with Ustream, LiveStream, and Google+. I intend to learn the pros and cons of each and use them to the best of my ability without spending any money – yet.

So far I have learned that Ustream allows you to stream live events in both high and standard quality free of charge. The compromise is that viewers must watch commercials at regular intervals. LiveStream requires your viewers to login if you are streaming from a free account – highly impractical. And Google+ can stream directly to YouTube, free of charge, but I have yet to try it out. I hope to soon. Stay tuned; I plan to stream lots of cool events at agarcia.tv/live.