An ice cream ramble that doesn’t end with ice cream

I was thinking I’d post this on Twitter but quickly realized how long it would get to cover everything, so instead I’m going to rant here.

Anyways, I’m supposed to be eating better (and generally speaking I have) but a couple nights ago around midnight I was craving ice cream. I hadn’t had any in quite a while so I figured why not treat myself. So my roommate and I go off to Walmart and pick up some for ourselves and our other roommate. All was good.

Last night was not good, though, for when I went to go have the rest of my ice cream and couldn’t eat it because the freezer was thawing. My ice cream was very nearly melted and my consumption of a delicious cold treat put on hold while it freezes again in the deep freeze.

After discovering that the freezer and fridge weren’t keeping temp I immediately went into Fix It Mode and started pulling things apart and cleaning the radiator fin things. In the process of doing so I accidentally broke one of the fan blades under the fridge. Now we have an angry fridge but I at least got the compressor to kick back on and temps started coming down again. Sorry roommate, I nearly broke your fridge, but then again I didn’t and probably saved you money. End rambling.

Life gets busy…

The last few weeks have been sort of busy for me. Busy being lazy mostly, and I say that because of two things. The first week was filled with trying to keep up at work while being sick, only to be told I should go home and rest (which I gladly did) and also fighting that wicked cold snap we experienced at the end of January.

The second week was similar, just not as severe. Recovering from illness and dealing with the cold winter weather of South Dakota. All of this led to me taking the time to prioritize my health and limiting my focus on extra activities such as writing and streaming.

Every so often this down time is necessary beyond resting for the sake of health, though, because life gets busy and when you’re caught up in the whirlwind you can lose perspective on the things that matter. Now that I’m mostly rested up I can hopefully get back to what I want to accomplish.

See you out there folks!

Networking as a Broadcaster

I’ve spent a little time here and there over the last few months just kind of mulling over what it means to “network” as a broadcaster. Quite honestly it’s just as complicated as it is simple.

At a high level, in the simplest form, networking is just talking to people and making connections or friends. That being said, that’s also why it’s so complicated.

Social interaction in itself is not easy for everyone. It comes with its own set of Do’s and Don’ts, taboos, faux pas, etcetera. Do be genuine. Be yourself. Don’t be awkward, or too overbearing. You get the idea. In most day to day social interactions these kinds of things may have very little impact on your longterm standing with people because you don’t see them very often, or maybe only once, and as such you don’t generally care about the result of the interaction. Networking is a little different. I feel like it adds an extra layer of complexity.

When you’re trying to network you have to keep in mind that the people you’re talking to are going to be around more frequently, and that the impression you give does matter. So when you do start looking around for people to connect with, you should be looking at things you have in common and how well you’ll get along. It’s almost like shopping around to find a new friend, or trying to assemble a dating site profile of someone else. It gets a bit tough and awkward, but if you want to succeed at what you’re doing, especially as a broadcaster, you need to do it. Just don’t do it the wrong way, acting entitled like they owe you something for spending your time talking to them. Their time is just as valuable.

Respect can go a long ways.

Your streaming setup can be as complicated as you want.

There are plenty of guides out there on this subject, so this one won’t be a guide of any sorts but rather just a backstory of how my streaming setup evolved over the years. The idea being that you can start anywhere with streaming.

Building a Gaming Computer

The starting point was actually a couple of years before I even thought about streaming. At some point I decided to build my own gaming PC, and had a friend help me pick out parts for that project. Most of that first build is actually still in use as of the time that I’m writing this post.

Long side story for another time, but the same friend that helped me build my gaming PC also ended up becoming my roommate not long after the fact and ultimately influenced my decision to start streaming.

Making the Leap

Anyways, after a couple of years of playing on that PC, I made the leap to try streaming. I was on a single PC setup, the CPU was an i3-4340 and GPU was a GTX 760, so I wasn’t going to try anything too graphically intense. I think I started out playing a little bit of Terraria and Starbound. After a little bit of tinkering with my setup and trying to optimize what I had I ended up making small hardware upgrades. Staying on the single PC setup meant upgrading the RAM and the CPU first. So that’s what I did! I forget the exact timing of a lot of my purchases but at some point I upgraded the gaming PC to handle more intensive games, but some of the ones I was playing at that time (like PUBg) were still a little too much for good quality streams at the time, which eventually pushed me to decide to build a second PC to handle the workload of streaming. Before I made the jump, though, I did order a bunch of other things to try and increase the quality of my stream.

Digging in Further

Aside from the PC, there are a handful of things that get recommended for increasing the quality of a stream. I got a standalone condenser microphone with a USB interface (a Focusrite Scarlett Solo, which has so far served me fairly well), and some studio headphones. The microphone was a nice addition, but it took a fair amount of tinkering and research to get it working right. There’s no telling how many times I ran into issues using it in OBS Studio. Maybe a story for another time, another blog post. Continuing on!

Two is Better than One

It was probably a year or so into streaming that I decided to build a second PC. I began by doing some research into how it could be done. I already had an internal capture card (an Elgato HD60 Pro) to stream console games, so I thought that would be fine to use. I took that out of the gaming PC, bought some parts for a second PC and used some of the spare parts left over after upgrading the gaming PC. Eventually I had myself a streaming PC, but it used that original i3-4340 so it wasn’t anything spectacular, but I did see an improvement in being able to play some games without issues while my stream was live. It wasn’t long after that I also made arrangements with another friend to buy some of his spare parts, and further upgraded the hardware of both PC’s. That’s all just on the hardware side, which is simpler in comparison to the things I did on the software side to complicate my streaming setup.

Extra Complicated?

Now, I haven’t totally covered ALL of the hardware pieces of my current setup, but that’s because it’s important to cover the software portions so that it’s easier to understand why I added a couple of hardware pieces. First thing is Voicemeeter Banana. This was fun (Note: Sarcasm) to setup on my systems because it was how I was going to control where my audio sources came from and were directed to (this was prior to the Windows 10 update that allows users to basically do the same thing.) I may not be using this particular program to its fullest potential, but that’s not important. What is important is that I don’t have speakers on either of my PC’s, only the one pair of headphones, so I use the VBAN portion of Voicemeeter to port audio over the network between the two systems. Why? Because I ran into audio delay issues while playing games and streaming. The short story of that: I was playing PUBg with friends while streaming, and I would get shot but hear the sound of the gunfire probably a full second or more after I was already getting hit. Not a fun time. So I switched my headphones over to the gaming PC and had all my audio from the streaming PC (primarily for alerts) ported over the network.

But Wait, There’s More!

The other thing I did was switch from using my internal capture card (which is now reserved strictly for consoles) to using the OBS-NDI plugin. This thing has been amazing. It uses OBS Studio on both machines, with one sending all the A/V data over the network back to the main streaming PC before being uploaded to the internet. At this point I feel I should mention a couple of things. First, I have a couple of roommates who both play games online. So we’ve shelled out for a decent internet package to accommodate our traffic. Second, because of this I didn’t want to have my VBAN and NDI traffic bogging down our combo modem/router because I was using two of the four ethernet ports and limiting each of them to only having one. So I purchased a standalone gigabit ethernet switch to plug both of my machines into and have a the one line out to the new router my roommate purchased. That whole arrangement is probably unnecessary, but hey, it’s my setup and I like being unconventional sometimes.

Another piece of the setup that is probably unnecessary, but is more for my convenience, is a HDMI Switcher. It was kind of expensive, and I didn’t really NEED it, but I wanted it. I use that switch between the few gaming consoles I have setup at any given point so that I can transition quickly. Also, it makes it so I don’t need to go to the back of the streaming PC to swap out an HDMI cable. I haven’t noticed too much of a latency issue that can’t be accounted for in OBS, or that impacts my ability to play a game, so I keep using it in conjunction with the internal capture card.

I know I missed mentioning webcams and monitors earlier, and probably something else I’m forgetting, but I feel like those are a bit more basic and don’t add much to how a streaming setup can evolve over time. The monitors don’t really add too much to the complexity of a streaming setup, because everyone has a different way of organizing their screens, and the webcams aren’t always a necessity for streaming. I currently have two webcams setup when most people only ever use one. One I use for a facecam (a Logitech BRIO 4K, probably overkill) and a second one (a Logitech C920) I was using for random things like creative streams or spontaneous dog cam. Having two Logitech cams on the same system was tricky because only one would get picked up by the Logitech Webcam software, but both could be worked with in OBS Studio.

I think I’ve covered most everything in my setup as it stands today. I can’t say that all of it makes complete sense, but it seems to be working so yay me! I could probably put together a timeline if I really wanted to to help explain how things went, or even include a diagram of my setup, but I might just do that later. For now, this is what I’ve got. Hopefully you enjoyed reading this! If not, tell me. Critique me. Rip my blog post apart. Even though this was probably a subject I rambled on about, I need to learn somehow. Catch you next time!

Contact points: Twitter or Twitch