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Ustream: You’re on

This week YouTube reveals they are trialling a live streaming service with a view to permanently offering live broadcasting if proven popular with consumers.  However this technology is nothing new as sites like Ustream have been mediating individual’s live broadcasts since 2007 – but have you ever heard of it?

For the uninitiated Ustream allows its members to broadcast live from anywhere in the world with a connection to the internet and a webcam. And since late last year an app available for both iPhone and Android mobiles allows owners to broadcast live from their handset too.

Broadcast yourself on a plane? There's an app for that.

Up until yesterday I had only used Ustream in the capacity of a viewer, watching some DJs I follow on Twitter broadcasting mixes from their bedroom or recording studio.  But since purchasing an Android phone and downloading the free Ustream app I thought I’d give broadcasting a go.

Admittedly I didn’t really want many people to see the shoddy filming so I opted out of informing my followers on Twitter, a  way of letting people know you’re “going live”, sans Edd the Duck. All I streamed was a visit from my lounge to the kitchen, momentarily resting the phone on a table which gave viewers a treat of seeing my recycling bin, or my translucent bag of guilt as I like to call it (because unlike it’s opaque brother people can see your fatty ways: pizza boxes, bottles of beer, donut cartons etc.).

To my astonishment along with the one viewer I knew, my girlfriend, there was three other random people looking at my sack of shame. How weird I thought here I was getting some wine from my fridge broadcasting the “event” live to potentially millions of people, all from the comfort of my hand.

Now this all sounds a bit boring, well it was for the people viewing, but you have to admit it’s bonkers. It got me wondering  how many other people are broadcasting from around the world on their mobile right now, and what are they doing? I must know!

Typing into Twitter’s search engine the words “Ustream” and “phone” I immediately got real-time results of people broadcasting their own show to the world.  Try it now and you will see tweets consisting of “Hey! I’m live on Ustream from my Android phoneorI’m broadcasting, from my iPhone, live on Ustream. Come watch!” the standard message sent when opting to tell your followers you’re live in 3, 2, 1…

Clicking on some random links for a few hours this is what I saw: a man standing in line at Disney World waiting to go on Space Mountain (then broadcasting from the ride), a girl eating a sundae with her boyfriend in McDonald’s somewhere in America, a bloke racing through streets on his bike in Japan, some rappers in London recording a music video outside a council estate, a guy drawing a comic in Canada and finally a person at a hunting protest in Washington, D.C.

OK some of this was banal viewing but mostly it was entertaining and considering I was watching the footage along with only a handful of other people at a time it was a unique and downright bizarre experience, and thanks to Ustream’s chat service I was able to interact with the nutters filming too.

When you click on a link it may just be someone picking their nose in Starbucks or painting their living room beige, but the next time you might see a person broadcasting from a pop concert, or even a riot; the options are seemingly endless. And let’s face it there’s normally bugger all on the box anyway and it makes a change from pre-recorded YouTube videos.

But if you don’t want to just sit and watch why not download the free app and start broadcasting yourself? You could record live from the next gig you go to, or secretly film one of your mates suffering a devastating hangover. What are you waiting for?


Wiley on Ustream

On Monday I watched unpredictable grime artist Wiley on holiday in Jamaica smoking, or “bunnin’”, joints and MCing to previously unheard material.  He was broadcasting live from his laptop via Ustream, a medium that’s gained popularity with musicians over the last couple of years.

Wiley, aka Richard Cowie, had been broadcasting “The Wiley Elusive Show” from his computer for the past week or so in 20 to 30 minute spurts, which has been documented by online magazines like FACT and grime music forums.

Below are a few screen shots I took to show what the short performances looked like, as he hasn’t saved the programmes to his channel; perhaps for fear of content being scrutinised.

Maybe it's medicinal?

I first viewed Wiley around 4pm BST, where he talked about a fracas that ensued after being  aksed for ID in Barclays Bank; somewhere near his home in London. The brief story was told while sat beside a pool toking a ridiculously large spliff. The crux of the tale: the police are after him because he apparently threatened some bank staff over being ID’d, shortly before leaving for Jamaica. Nice chap.

It seems he’s on the Caribbean island with his current girlfriend. She came onto camera a few times, mostly saying she was bored – probably because the boyfriend is spending his time in Jamaica on a webcam.

Along with regaling us with stories Cowie spent most of the sessions spitting bars over some unreleased material and a lot of tunes from The Elusive album – an LP he gave away, along with lots of other tracks, to followers on Twitter after a bust-up with his management last month.

Amusingly the more stoned Wiley got throughout the day the harder it was to make out what he was saying. But for fans – who in the chat window opposite were asking for shout-outs and giving mobile numbers for him to call – it was cool for them hear some previously unheard beats and to watch him in a seriously mashed-up state.

Later on in the night around 10pm, although promising to be on at 8pm, he was live again from where he’s currently recording at Geejam Recording Studio on a balcony surrounded by lush scenery. By this point it was getting harder to understand him as he went into a trance-like state chatting lyrics that were unfortunately inaudible.

Wiley at Geejam Recording Studio

One of the last broadcasts of that day, about 1am, was from a jacuzzi at the studio where he chilled with his lady friend. They sat discussing Jeremy Kyle who she hates, but he confesses to liking the sanctimonious host! I wonder how Jez would feel about that.

Nice jacuzzi, why bring the laptop?

The shows were bonkers but fun and it got me wondering if this technology had been about in the past what would, say a band like The Beatles, recording sessions have been like if they broadcasted them live while ripped to the tits? The times we live in, eh?

Multiuser Sketchpad

Last weekend a group of strangers helped me draw a penis and a pair of testicles. Bizarre lifestyle choice you may think? But no I’m not a mental, and yes this really did happen.  I was drunk internetting and found something called Multiuser Sketchpad.

Perennial school boy doodle

This ingenious tool allows you to draw, or if you’re like me squiggle badly, anything you want on a virtual blank canvas; where anyone online at the same time can sketch with you simultaneously. It’s designed by web developer boffin Ricardo Cabello, aka Mr.doob, and is a good way to waste time, if you have time to waste, which unfortunately on Saturday night I did.

I found the virtual pad by visiting Chrome Experiments a site that showcases various web-based games, drawing tools, and other geek wizardry that work in your browser, specifically Google Chrome.  Some are excellent, some not so. Multiuser Sketchpad is a wicked experiment.

If only Tony Hart was alive to see this.

Accessing the blank canvas that night I searched my creative mind for some inspiration. What shall I create? I could draw anything, albeit piss-poorly, but nonetheless, anything. An enchanted forest, a leafy glade, a trickling mountain stream, anything. I decided on the universal daubing that binds humankind since records began – a cock with a pair of love conkers.

With the template etched into my mind I set about constructing the schoolboy’s perennial doodle. Clicking and dragging the cursor I created the classic mushroom-shaped crown, but wait… someone named “4763” is helping me out, he’s sketching an adjacent veiny shaft, and shit me! Who’s this? A person, with the apt moniker “dickdrawer”, is starting what appears to be a fleshy pair of men’s erotic baubles, complete with curlies. Fuck. This is the finest web-ting man has ever created. I’m welling up it’s so beautiful.

Seconds pass and before I know it the three of us have fashioned together a pixelated homage to the male genitalia. But before I can say where’s the sp… “Miss Sunshine” steps in to help complete the creation; in the form of crude droplets of population paste flowing from its source.  If only Tony Hart was alive to see this.

On his blog the creator of the sketchpad unhappily acknowledges: “As expected, people like to draw male reproduction organs all over the place,” so I was not alone in my idea, although I should have realised this with the earlier accomplice calling him, or herself, “dickdrawer”. Indeed later on in the night it was plain to see this was a reoccurring theme; big ones with small testicles, small ones with big testicles, chodes, toads, anything goes. One reader comment on Mr.doob’s blog states: “Can you add a penis stamp tool? Would save me a lot of time.”

Apart from the phallic-based fun there are a lot of talented artists helping each other craft intriguing pieces of computer art. Mr.doob blogs that he started a sketch – that you can see in the video below – and people joined in helping him produce something far from his own imagination.

There’s undoubtedly a vast amount of possibilities for this marvellous creation, not just noughts and crosses and bell-ends. And since returning to the site I’ve seen some talented artists at work. But I suppose as long as there’s idiots like me they’ll always be rude scribbles getting in the way of any real art. Why don’t you give it a go?

Drank Beverage invites you to Slow your Roll

While bored shitless I was searching the internet for something, to pull my attention away from any real work, and I tripped and fell upon a website from our over-excited nephews, the Americans.

The site is for a new drink called Drank Beverage. This passive-verbed can of pop is something unheard of in the UK so I investigated further into what the shit it was.

On the drink’s official Twitter page it states, “Drank is the world’s FIRST extreme relaxation beverage.” Allthough extreme relaxation sounds as if they mean death I think it’s a drink that’s supposed to be the antithesis of highly-caffeinated energy drinks. The company’s slogan is ‘Slow your Roll’ (whatever your roll may be) so is seemingly opposite to Red Bull which apparently ‘Gives you Wings‘, and possibly heart failure.

What’s in the stuff ? Well, their website  gives you details of what actually gives your roll a slowing down, “Drank contains a combination of Valerian Root, Rose Hips, and Melatonin.” From what I understand it’s basically a grape-flavoured carbonated drink with a herb, a fruit, and… er… a synthetic hormone all designed to help you (you’ve guessed it) slow your effin roll.

Here is a video of some ‘zany’ yanks trying it out:

It all seems harmless enough but it looks like this fizz is based on a more sinister sip. The ‘Drank’ soft drink is probably emulating a codeine based concoction called ‘Purple Drank’  – a drink made popular among the hip hop community in the deep south of the United States, y’all.

According to Wikipedia (don’t worry it’s all been verified, probably) Purple Drank consists of, “Cough syrup [containing prescription-strength codeine and promethazine] and is typically mixed with ingredients such as Sprite soft drink and pieces of Jolly Rancher (wtf happened to them?) candy.”

This clip shows ‘Purple Drank’ aka ‘Sizzurp’ in action:

Owners of Drank, Innovative Beverage Group Holdings, have yet to dip their purple-soaked toes in Britain; but that might be because the prescription-drug laden original, that it’s likely to be based on, isn’t that popular here.

Looking on drug forums people say it’s hard to get hold of the ingredients. To quote a UK user on, “I’ve been trying to make some sizzurp for a while [but] it obviously isn’t a big thing over here in the UK. It’s basically impossible to buy prescription cough medicine on the street.” Other people mostly say it’s shit rather than the shizznit. 

Perhaps if the British public acquires a penchant for purply-cough-syrupy-Sprite the Drank Beverage will venture to the UK. But, to be fair, beer does enough to slow our roll as it is – so it’s probably best left for our hoarse-throated half-cousins across the lake.

Purple drank is a slang term for a recreational drug popular in the hip-hop community in the southern United States . Its main ingredient is prescription-strength cough syrup containing codeine and promethazine.[1] Cough syrup is typically mixed with ingredients such as Sprite soft drink and pieces of Jolly Rancher candy. The purplish hue of purple drank comes from dyes in the cough syrup.