For better or worse, one of the favorite pastimes of Yale procrastinators has just been taken to a whole new level. Now, instead of wasting a few minutes browsing through someone’s iTunes music library, students can waste hours browsing through other students’ video collections.
The new program, called Lanovision, is a file sharing tool that allows students to stream others’ videos, much like OurTunes for videos rather than music. Patrick Fitzsimmons ’06 created the program over winter break, and Morse and Stiles colleges already have a strong network of video-sharers.
“It’s been really great so far,” said Fitzsimmons, who announced the new program to Morse students earlier this week. “In the past few days, the program has had 75 downloads. Once people download it, they share their videos, and there’s a whole network going.”
Fitzsimmons had the idea for the program last spring, while he and his roommate were working on an all-purpose file-sharing program called Coffeeshop. The program circulated music and photos, but Fitzsimmons said students had no need for it because of programs such as iTunes and Webshots.
“We found that the one thing that didn’t exist was a way to view your friends’ videos,” he said. “I was wondering if you could actually stream movies and watch them and I had this eureka moment. It was a lot of random stuff I pieced together.”
Fitzsimmons said he spent about 200 hours working on the program over winter break. So far, the program has spread through Morse and Stiles, and Fitzsimmons plans to e-mail everyone at Yale to expand it further.
“From there, I’ll try to contact friends at other schools, and try to get them to spread it,” he said. “Maybe I’ll even spend a little, do a little advertising, publicize it and see what happens.”
Kean Hsu ’06 has already started using the program, and he said that he has seen a decent selection of videos on the network.
“The more people that get on it, the better it will be,” he said. “It’s a program that’s very dependent on the number of people who are on the network.”
Hsu said he is interested in seeing how movie companies respond to the program as it spreads.
“I’m curious to see whether the companies consider it something worth investigating or even consider it a bad thing,” he said. “Since it involves streaming video files and not buyer transmission, it’s not like Kazaa or Napster. It’s not really the same issue.”
Matthew Boelig ’06 said he can see the program spreading within Yale because iTunes has become so popular on campus.
“A lot of people have laptops and have limited space for videos, so streaming online is a great way for people to watch media,” he said.
Boelig said his primary complaint with the program so far is the VLC media player program that plays many of the videos.
“It’s hard to use, you can’t fast forward or rewind easily through the movies, and sometimes it makes the video player freeze,” he said.
Fitzsimmons said he is still working the bugs out of the PC version of Lanovision, while also developing a version for Macs. He said a Mac version will be available in three or four weeks at the latest.
When Boelig logged onto the network at 5 p.m. Wednesday, there were 25 people connected, and about half were sharing videos. Among the videos available to stream were “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” “The Big Lebowski,” “Forrest Gump” and several episodes of “The OC,” he said.
Chuck Powell, Yale’s director of academic media and technology, said that he had not yet heard of the program but was pleased to see students experimenting with technology.
“We’re happy in a general way to see the student population putting their talents, interests and skills to work in the IT area,” Powell said.
Jessica Blick ’07 said she thinks the new program will be a lot of fun if more people start using it. So far, she has avoided being distracted from her work.
“I watched the first five minutes of a movie and then realized I should do my homework,” she said.
Only time will tell if Blick’s fellow students will follow her responsible lead, or if movie marathons will replace study marathons as the primary weeknight activity for Yalies.