Cheap Ways to Stream Video on the Web

Thanks for the recent articles telling how we might stream video through the Internet. They make me feel that streaming is something I could and should try. Still, I don’t know where to begin. I edit video on a Windows computer, but I don’t have an Internet service provider, or a Web site. And I don’t want to spend a lot of money. For me, this is supposed to be a hobby.
Jenny Small
Internet

Dear Jenny,
Lots of folks find themselves in the same boat. There are a number of ways to get Internet service, a Web site and a streaming server inexpensively, or even free. Here’s one of them. Follow these steps and you will have a Web site streaming one of your videos in 2-3 hours: all for free. For starters, we’ll assume you’ve got a short video in one of the standard digital forms, say .avi or .mov, on your hard drive, and that your computer has a CD-ROM drive and a modem.

Step 1: Get a free Internet Service Provider. To make it simple, go to www.netzero.com and register. If you don’t have an Internet service provider you’ll have to call NetZero at 1-888-279-8132 to order their sign-up software on a CD-ROM. This is the only step in the list that isn’t completely free. The disc is free, but you’ll have to pay $3.50 for shipping and you’ll have to click on a banner ad every 10 minutes to prevent NetZero from dropping your connection, but hey, it’s free.

Step 2: Get a free Web server. If your Internet service provider won’t host your Web site at no extra charge, you should consider getting a new one. In the meantime, use a free Web hosting service like Geocities.
Go ahead and surf over to geocities.yahoo.com/home. Click "Get a free home page." Click "I’m a new user Sign me up!" Then follow the instructions to the button that says; "Build a Page." There, you’ve got a Web site with a single page in it. You could actually upload your streaming video files right to this Web site, and they would play fairly well, but to truly stream your videos, Geocities would charge you about $5 per month and I said this would be free, so:

Step 3: Get a free streaming server. To do this, surf to www.popcast.com. and click "Join Today. Its Free!" You now have 10MB of space on a free streaming server.

Step 4: Get free encoding software. Go to Microsoft’s Media Technologies Web site(www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/en/download/default.asp). Click the "Download" button next to "Windows Media Tools-Intel." Download and install this bundle of tools. Be sure to install the Windows Media Encoder because Popcast serves only files encoded in Windows Media, ".asf format.

Step 5: Encode a video clip. Open the Windows Media Encoder and select a video file on your hard drive. For starters, pick one 30 seconds in length or shorter. Select your choices among the various options offered by the encoder. In the end it will create a new file, with an .asf extension, containing your video.


Step 6: Upload your streaming video file to your streaming server. Go back to Popcast.com, sign in and click where it says, "Want to upload another file? Click here." Then give it the location of the encoded video file and fill out the rest of the form describing your video. Then hit the upload button. Now you’ve got a streaming video file on a streaming server. Popcast gives you the URL of this file.

Step 7: Link this file to your Web home page. Copy the URL of your streaming video file; go back to Geocities. Click "Edit pages." Follow the instructions on editing your Web pages, or use html editing software of your own, to create a link to your streaming video. You’ll need to put the "Powered by Popcast" logo somewhere near the video link on your home page. You agreed to that when you signed up for your free streaming server.

Step 8: Sit forward and enjoy.

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