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Moonlight 3: Video Player for NBC's Olympics

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Moonlight 3: Video Player for NBC's Olympics

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Moonlight, Mono's open source implementation of Silverlight, arrived with the latest updates and features from Silverlight 3 just in time for implementation at the NBC Olympics website.  The final testing finished not a minute too soon, with only 24 hours to spare before the first event.  After the first preview release earlier this month, Moonlight 3's second preview release includes features specifically geared toward viewing Olympic sporting events on the NBC website.

Thanks to the help of Microsoft's Silverlight team, Mono Project developers were able to run the test suites and accelerate the release of the second preview with all the video enhancements needed for the site.  Mono was also given early access to some of the technologies at nbcolypics.com in order to ensure compatibility.  The latest Moonlight 3 release now supports live streaming (a must-have for live sports broadcasting) and DVR-like functionalities.  Viewers can jump to any point in the event, even as it's streaming live.  Videos can be played back in slow motion or sped up.  The player also features Smooth Streaming, which will automatically adjust the quality of your video feed based on your bandwidth availability.  The features of the Moonlight 3 player give web audiences a much more customizable viewing experience than basic television, and many of the events are not shown live on certain television stations. 

Being a preview version, there are still some known bugs including start-up issues in which some plugins register as Moonlight.  A few minor functionalities in the UI also have issues.  The olympics player uses Effects heavily, so performance is also an issue at times.  Users can disable effects by including "effects=no" in the MOONLIGHT_OVERRIDES environment.  Here's the script for disabling effects in Firefox:

 $ MOONLIGHT_OVERRIDES=effects=no firefox

Moonlight developers say that Firefox 3.7 alpha runs the code better than 3.5.  Unfortunately, Chrome will not support the video player since their NPAPI implementation still deadlocks with the way Moonlight uses it.

Winter Olympics sites have given several lesser-known open source technologies a spotlight in the mainstream media.  JavaFX is another example - its technology was chosen for building a slick metal visualization application at the official Olympics website.  Moonlight is mostly licensed under the GNU LGPL 2 license, except for the Microsoft Silverlight Controls and Unit Test Framework, which is under the MS-PL licence.

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