Streaming Media: The delivery of video,
data and voice over the Internet in a continuous, real-time feed, or "stream."
Using a Web browser and a plug-in -- such as "RealPlayer," "QuickTime"
or "Windows Media Player" -- a user can view streamed content such as a movie
trailer and watch it before the entire file has been downloaded into their computer.
Speedy broadband digital-subscriber-line or cable-modem Internet access facilitates a
quality, smooth streaming media experience for a user.
Buffer: Space within a personal
computer's random-access memory where data such as streamed media are stored until
enough information has been received to begin to display the content through a Web
browser. A buffer is used to ensure a smooth display of real-time streaming content.
Cache: A place within a computer or server
where data are stored for quick retrieval. Internet-service providers will often
"cache" popular Web pages and sites, such as Cable News Network's,
periodically throughout the day on a local server so users may quickly access CNN pages
instead of going out on the greater Internet to CNN's site, where they may encounter
delays due to heavy volume. Providers may also cache streaming events, such as short
videos, on their servers to ensure quick delivery to users.
SMIL: Synchronized Multimedia Integration
Language is a specification based on Extensible Markup Language (XML), developed by the
World Wide Web Consortium, that lets developers coordinate the delivery of text, video and
still images, having those elements appear in separate windows, if desired. SMIL also
allows content to be stored at different bit rates, so users with 56-kilobit-per-second
dial-up modems or cable data connections can view content.
Media Players: The "big three"
browser plug-ins in wide use that will display streaming media content are RealNetworks
Inc.'s RealPlayer, the predominant streaming program; Windows Media Player, Microsoft
Corp.'s player, which is slowly gaining on RealPlayer; and QuickTime, Apple Computer
Inc.'s media player and video system, which has been selected by the International
Standards Organization as the basis for the MPEG-4 streaming-video standard.