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April 30, 2008

Qik Tips and Tricks

by Matthew

Qik

Its hard not to have heard about Qik around the Internet, even more so if spending any time at all on Twitter or other SocNets. Whether new or a Qik addict new features keep coming. The trouble is these new features aren't always obvious, even for the most technically inclined among us. That being the case I asked Michael Fortson, Internet Architect at Qik, to tell me about what's new at Qik.


A few Qik users (in no particular order):

Offline mode: Qik can record videos without any connection and stream then whenever the connection is restored. Just press "cancel" while it's trying to connect, and stream away; as long as Qik is left running (you can send it to the background, but don't exit!) it'll upload your videos whenever you want (press menu -> retry connection to tell it to reconnect).

RSS feed: Every user has an RSS feed at qik.com/username, which contains every public stream they create in two formats (not all rss readers show these media enclosures, but many do, including iTunes). The flash version is there, and so is the original 3gp version of the file, in the same resolution as the phone was set to when streaming (up to 640*480). This is the best version to get if you want to edit your videos or publish them elsewhere.

Resolution settings: Menu --> "Quality": this varies by device. On the N95, the settings equate to: low: 176*144 (Edge or poor quality connection) normal: 320*240 (perfect for live streaming over US 3G) high: 640*480 (best for WiFi, or if you don't mind a streaming delay)

30 FPS mode: If you are using WiFi with Quality set to "High", Qik will stream at 640*480, 30 frames per second. Over 3G it's limited to 15 frames per second.

"Optimize for" -- this setting confuses people a bit. "min delay" causes Qik to reduce the video bitrate until the current stream fits within your current network connection. You can use this if you want to chat live with your viewers but your connection isn't as great as it could be (or your video settings are higher than the connection can support).

Note: video quality may suffer. "best quality" is just that -- it locks the bitrate to keep the quality high.

Using the resolution and optimization settings, Qik can scale between Edge (~100kbps) and Wifi (over 1Mbps) and be truly live the entire time.

Crash recovery: If your battery dies or your phone crashes while you had a big video saved but not streamed out yet, don't panic -- your video is safe. Just plug the phone into a computer and navigate to the following folder:

- Phone memory - Video clips - Qik

... and copy any ".raw" files there. Send them to support [at] qik [dot] com via YouSendIt and let support know what account they belong to -- that's it! We'll get them added to your account, usually within the next working day. Soon you won't have to do this after a crash -- it'll be automatic. (If while using Qik device memory starts shrinking, check this location for saved .raw files. One such .raw file recorded at 640*480 and only 6 minutes took ~24MB on my device recently. Michael delivered on this item and restored a video that did not upload correctly, my fault not Qik's.)

WiFi tip: If you have an open WiFi connection, you can access it via the Access Point options in Qik, but if your account is secure, it's much better to define a new access point on the phone's main screen (or settings) before entering Qik -- then you can set Qik to use any previously-defined access point at any time, from within Qik's Access Point menu. (Michael mentioned later Easy WLAN isn't recommended for Qik. Personally I've found Easy WLAN tends to less stable than taking the time to specify an Access Point.)

API to retrieve the embed code for any video: Qik has implemented oEmbed. With this you can take any video or user URL at Qik and send it to Qik's server to receive the complete embed code for that video (or user channel). For example, given a video of http://qik.com/video/67350, just send that URL to Qik like this: http://qik.com/api/oembed.xml?url=http://qik.com/video/67350 -- this will send the embed code via xml. To request it via json, just use .json instead of .xml in the request like this: http://qik.com/api/oembed.json?url=http://qik.com/video/67350 -- this works for user's live Qik channels as well (e.g. http://qik.com/api/oembed.json?url=http://qik.com/kevin )

N95 crash prevention (US models): The N95-3 and N95-4 can both crash if they are streaming with Qik and the phone switches between 3G and GSM mode, regardless of how the stream is being sent out (even over WiFi). To prevent this crash, just go into Tools -> Settings -> Phone -> Network -> Network mode, and set it to either UMTS or GSM (not dual). No more crashing!

Tips while streaming:

Stream details:

  • Press # while streaming to see additional information about your stream:
    • Press twice to add "remaining time" (based on memory capacity / fill rate) and current FPS.
    • Press three times to see total file-size created and sent.
  • Press 0 to cause the next stream to be private.
  • Press 5 to cause the next stream to be public.
  • Press 1 and 3 to scroll the live chat.
  • Press 55 to send the current video link to Twitter (for example, if you have your Twitter details entered in your account settings, and don't have the "send all videos" box checked, you can use 55 whenever you have something you really want to share and chat about. Before you know it, your Twitter followers will be watching your live stream and chatting with you. If you title the video before doing this, the title is used in the tweet (otherwise a generic message is used).

Thanks Michael for these great tips. Qik is still an alpha service and welcomes user feedback. If there is something that could be done better or a missing feature let the guys at Qik know. Of course if you love Qik I'm certain they'd love to hear that also.

As an added bonus for our readers Michael has generously offered a few invites to Qik. Leave a comment on this post and I'll be in touch to arrange for your invite.

- Matthew Stevens

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Comments

tc hipp

Thanks for the info! Great resource. Look forward to an invite.

andreaccs

Hi Darla, i signup , received the sms and registered but never received any more information other than a "Request received!" :-(

Matthew

@andreaccs that sms included the link to download the QIK application. If you no longer have the sms, email Qik support (support at qik dot com).

Reggie

i've signed up for qik and i'm about to install the file into my N95 8GB. can't wait to try this out after seeing Robert Scoble and Jason Calacanis do with this service!

P

Have you tried Bambuser? The same service as QiK, but you get access at once. Test it out.

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