The Tech Demons Strike Again

Well, let me just say how much fun I had talking with Scott Duffy about his journey from full-time software developer, to side hustling online course creator and finally through to full-time online business entrepreneur.  It was great hearing Scott chronicle his progress and talk about some of his thoughts and motivations as he progressed over the last few years.

Then let me say how ridiculously frustrated I was that we didn’t get a proper recording of the video on either FB Live in the Casual Marketer Academy Group or the subsequent recording.

I finished that conversation knowing that the tech had failed, hoping that the recording was better and then ultimately seething inside when I saw the recording was just the same black screen that was being shared on FB Live.

The audio is pretty good and if we’d have done a podcast episode of that discussion it would have been a good show, but that was not what I was aiming for and that’s frustrating beyond belief.

At some point over the next few days, I’ll grab the recordings and put them in an MP3 file so people can download and listen to the audio, but right now, two days later I’m still pretty angry about the mess.

I figured I’d try and turn this into some kind of positive by walking through my analysis of what the heck went wrong so that maybe everyone, including myself, can learn something from this.

Just at a high level, I think people allow themselves to be techtarded so that they have a built-in excuse for not succeeding.  I think it’s important to understand how things work and then figure out what went wrong when they don’t so you can fix it and that’s the process I’ve been going through.

Basically, my setup was Scott and I talking on Skype and I was using my Ecamm Live software to broadcast the video call to the Facebook Group.

That should have worked – technically, that’s what it is designed to do… But it didn’t.  What happened was that the video stream konked out and the only thing being sent was audio.

One red herring that threw me off figuring out what I think went wrong was my internet connection.  My internet connection has been playing up for a few days – in particular, my upload speed is terrible.

But when I thought about it, that couldn’t have been the problem because I switched to my 4G connection which was getting 32Mbps upload speeds at a reasonable latency.  I don’t think the connection was “optimal” but it should have worked.

Facebook Live is actually built from the ground up for high latency, so while my cable internet gets 12ms of latency, the 4G was getting about 21ms, but wouldn’t be enough to cause the problem I was having.

The other thing I thought about was, Scott’s in Canada, I’m in Australia and we were having to pul video to my computer and then broadcast from there to Facebook.  This was the lead I needed to come to the position that I think is the root cause of the problem.

The way the Ecamm Live software works is that it takes your video feed and then sends it to Facebook.  When you’re doing Skype video it takes the session, processes it into a single video feed and then sends that.  On the way out, using the Ecamm Skype Call Recorder software it records the stream you’re sending on the way out to Facebook.

When I watched the video that was recorded on my Mac, it was the same crappy quality on Facebook which tells me that the crappy quality was happening on my Mac and being SENT to Facebook.  At the same time, my session with Scott from a Skype perspective was fine.

The video chat was fine, but it broke down between that point and before sending it to Facebook, so something had to have gone wrong in the processing by Ecamm Live.

I did a bit of investigation of the Ecamm Live software and I think I found the culprit… My 27″ iMac is relatively old, it’s a mid-21010 model.  It runs the latest MacOS and because it’s largely a web browser when you think about it, I don’t really NEED to upgrade it.  When I record training videos it’s a bit slow to render, but that’s ok…

The real problem is that video card in my iMac doesn’t do Hardware Acceleration and Ecamm Live apparently requires it.  Which makes total sense, the software wants the computer to do heavily optimised video compression on the fly so that it can stream it out as small as possible.

It looks like at some point I’m probably going to now have to replace my iMac – to be fair, I was just looking for an excuse and this is as good as any.

Here are the things I want you to take away from this post…

  1. If you were online specifically to watch the conversation with myself and Scott, sorry about that, I apologize for the inconvenience.
  2. I’m pretty technical and sometimes the tech fails all of us, so don’t let it discourage you or scare you out of trying.
  3. When you have a technology failure, don’t just throw your hands up, spend some time trying to figure out what happened.  Think about the way things work in a very logical way.  Be like a detective, retrace everything and look for clues.
  4. Google is your friend.  When I came to a landing on the idea that Ecamm Live seemed to be the place where the failure happened, I just Googled a bit and eventually found a forum post on Apple’s official support forums outline the EXACT same issue other people had with my mid-2010 iMac, the video card model and Ecamm Live.
  5. Think about the potential solutions.  It’s good to know why something went wrong, but the key is using that information to fix it for next time.

I say it all the time, if you’re running an online business, you’re at least partly in the technology business.

If you were the CEO of McDonald’s, you’re in the foodservice industry, but you need to understand things like technology and logistics as well because those are HUGE parts of what you do, you can’t just think in terms of Big Macs and Happy Meals.

Technology is a double-edged sword for online business owners.  On the one hand, it can be the enabler to grow and scale your business but on the other, it can also be a huge distraction.

The trick is to take control of that situation.  I’m not saying you need to become a PHP programmer who can build their own plugins for WordPress before you should start your site, but I do think you should be able to install a plugin and perform some basic stuff on your site.

It’s like anything, you need to find the balance.  You don’t want to be in the weeds of technology all the time because the value of that to your customers is probably quite minimal, but when something goes wrong, you can’t be a deer in the headlights.

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