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A Techs Blog

Whilst we are broadcasting 7 days a week the small technical team are working behind the scenes. For those that might be interested I thought I start a blog of the sorts of technical problems and projects we have at Vintage Radio. I only enter stuff in this section at random, as and when the moment occurs. 

Web site training

Managed to sort out the web site backup system. Just needed a more recent version of the software - now works a treat.  we now have a number of Vintage Radio presenters who are creating their own web pages to tell listeners abouttheir programmes.

This is where Content Management Systems really come into their own. They are so much more flexible than vanilla html based web sites. They have their downsides and relying on a database system to maintain the underlying structure has its own potential problems   but the overall flexibility is a lot better. I have installed a number of these CMS systems when in gainful employment and the functions and applications available are pretty amazing. A triumph for Open Source software. Our package - Joomla, is used for for thousands of web sites world wide from individuals through to large corporate sites.

Yet another duff PC!

Further to my post on 2erd august. We are setting up a small training studio with spare bits and pieces and one item required was a PC for a playout system. As mentioned on 23rd we acquired a free and  elderly nth hand single core Win XP system but adequate for our use. A lot of TLC was required to clear out duff software and sort the registry out. 

Then disaster struck - having thought it was all back to factory new condition (well I think a car sales paper would decsribe it as a good little runner with 10months MOT that will give a number of years attention if looked after) it wouldn't work with any of our monitors in the studio. The Windows resolution setting had been altered or corrupted so some software displayed correctly but text was blurr, too small to read clearly even if yu had 20-20 vision and our playout software had large parts of its on-screen graphics missing which rendered it unusable. The VGA socket also proved to be flaky,  loose solder connecton probably, and the internal CMOS /BIOS battery had failed. I put in a new graphics card, changed the battery and reset the Windows screen resolution which was the main problem.

At times I wonder bif using second hand PC's is really viable. Having said that once revamped they are usually good for a couple of years. We have some new PC's for the critical studio functions but can use old PC's for browsers in the office and studio which aren't required to be broadcast critical. 

July 26th Live Day - highs and lows.

System once again comes up and all is well with the world. The backup recording systems all function correctly. Then I find out that no one can access the  emails in the studio. Can't get down to studio until about 1pm - by then probably too late. However, PC works fine just needed to be logged in. For some RTeason Gmail insistes on that PC that we use a Captcha to login as well as the usual user name / password. No idea what teh problem was - all worked. 

Recently changed over some PC's to guest and admin account working. Then discovered LogMein won't work. Another trip looms. 

Having recently installed a new digital recorder in the studio to allow people to make their own single button recordings in the studio and edit them at their  leisure on their home PC's I now find that there  is a demand for in-studio editing. We have spare elderly PC, hasn't seen the net for 2 years - so out of date Wndows, virus checekers etc. - in fact out of date almost everything.  This takes all aftrennon to download all files and update everything. I still ahve to install Audacity and a card reader.

The Office browser is running slow. Too little memory, to old, too slow a processor but it works! But checked all updates are OK on that.

On of our presenters has donated a stack of kit which we plan to turn into a training/second (mini) studio for off-line work. The mixing desk is quite old and rather large and rumour has it that it contains some valves! Really too large so we have a small Behringer desk which needs to be re-purposed and used. This will give us the space we need. Another job for  next week. The PC which came with teh studio kit  just about works. Investigation with registry cleaner software expioes the main problem - registry bloat, software that hasn't been uninstalled correctly etc. has resulted in  a huge registry database full of c**p data. Cleaning this up seems to have now made it usable but not in any sense of the word would you use the term quick in describing its performance.

Still haven't got to the bottom of our file length problem with our scheduling software, have put several post on teh support forum. Several  other users world wide  have the same problem. I hope the developers are working on a solution.

Struggling with our web site access control database to give other users their own page access. The next problem to solve.

Thursday 23rd August

We are putting a small 2nd studio - primarily for training together and one of the PC's we use was on an extreme go slow. Sorted that - it was a donated freebie and the registry was clogged solid. Why can't people uninstall software properly  I'll nver know. It now runs surprisingly well for its age. Had to go in today as it now won't work with any of the spare monitors. It turns out that the video card was incompatible with the monitor - an elderly flat  screen. Don't know whay that was the case. All working now.

The  Green Room browser and email PC needed its firewall updating but  won't upgrade and hung at 90% complete. Eventually after giving it a good telling off it decided to install the new firewall and work properly. Zone Alarm has a lot to answer for! But its made me look at alternative firewalls - Online armour looks interesting.

Web site CMS (Joomal) software is now at latest security build but now its decided to become  partially incompatible with Chrome browsers.The backup software crashed after I did a backup and the new backup version won't run. As its free open source I shoudn't complain but I do expect stuff to be fit for purpose. 

Radio DJ - our scheduling system still gives wrong times for file duration. We are expecting a update soon but not holding my breath. Part from that it works a treat and is generally bomb proof. Must get back on forum to see what progress has been made. The only consolation is that  we are not alone in having this problem.

Web site and other ramblings

Made some changes to the web site to make the players nearer the top and larger.  Every player I have tried always seems to have some flaw or won't work with a  particular operating system / browser combo. But at least we have three - an html5 option, a Windows Media player option and a Flash option. Taken off teh radio link as we don't go on the radio waves that often - too costly. The UK government doesn't make it easy for small stations like ours which are staffed by volunteers and rely on grants fro equipment. The big problem is that cash is available to buy, say a new PC but very little seems to be available to go towards \running costs. Perhaps its because you can see a PC but you can't see 12months of operation - what price entertainment?

When you apply for an RSL (Restricted Service Licence) - we have done three so fa since Feb 2009  it costs £400 just to apply irespective of whether or not you are successful! Then once that hurdle is passed you have to pay a couple of thousand for a Wirelsss Telegraphy licence and a Vraodcast Licence. Then if thats not enough you then need to increase your PPL and PRS payments. In a way thats not so bad as at least the musicians ultimately get some benefit but surely licences for community stations should be exempt and get a free licence? If we were commercial undertakings - fair enough but a volunteer based station surely shouldn't have to pay?