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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. 

2nd July 2012 - we can't get see the internet

I had just got out of the shower when the call came. We have no internet access.  No obvious problem. We still seem to be streaming but no-one can get access to the  internet in the studio. Nothing for it bit another 16 mile round trip to the studio. Of course its all working when I get there. It all falls apart  later on for about 45 mins after I have gone back home. But the early problem and this was due to the YMCA broadband. Just a bit odd that some parts work and others didn't. Whilst in studio decided to add guest accounts to all PC's to lock them down and make them a little more secure. Nothing is totally bomb-proof but you can only do so much.

Yet more intermittant problems with transmission

Spent an hour the other day finding a new Flash player several listeners reported intermittent breaks in our transmission. I can't identify any service provider or network faults so decided its the Flash player I put on-line a couple of weeks ago to replace the html5 player which we suspected of causing audio loops with some browser and PC combos.

Everthing seemed OK but after 24 hours started getting getting reports again. Spent more time looking for a new player as I then found our player is not supported. Found one and still get some fault reports. So have now changed the Home page to show three players with a user choice to select the one which works for them. Will have to check the network switches and router logs to see if they are logging any probs, may have to put a network probe on the LAN to see if we are in  fact getting short breaks but the different player buffering is reacting in different ways. We have had network problems due to a faulty LAN segment which we connecetd to on the YMCA network. But that was put apparently fixed by a firmware update to the relevant YMCA router.

Still haven't put a player on our Facebook page yet. Everytime I get close something gets in the way.

Future Projects

I am always looking to find ways of adding new features etc to the web site an other pstudio projects. Projects planned or being being considered:

Tighter integration between the web site and our Facebook page

Setting up Local Events feed page/RSS in conjunction with local media.

Adding search facility and podcast grouping to the Podcast page.

Addition of more support documentation to web site

Addition of additional material to support programmes

Addition of a 'whats playing now' feature but need to get all members to align their file naming and id3 title information formats. An uphill struggle at times.

To amend our scheduling system to a graphical based solution. May require going away from Radio DJ

Whatever you do don't touch the master faders!

About to go on holiday and made mistake of logging into the servers to check the Live Day was going out all right. Panic - missing a channel. We only broadcast in mono but all sound up to point of transmission is in stereo.  I couldn't get into the studio but left a message with our other main tech support Ken. Then had a thought - perhaps I'd better call the studio - nothing like doing the obvious. Are all the level meters moving no? Are the master faders all at the  zero level point ? No!  Can you move so they are all the same - problem solved. Someone had moved  master fader to zero instead of leaving well alone. Whats the moral of the story? If you can move or twidlle isomething that shouldn't be moved or twiddled then someone will do so!

A new studio recording system

When we have been recording progs in the studio we have been using an elderly PC running Audacity editing softawre. Both had the advantage of being free. We have now purchased a pro spec Denon digital recorder which one of our engineers - Ken,  has just installed and commissioned. User feedback is very good. The prog producer still has to edit the programme but they no longer have to babysit the Audacity system etc.. We were very fortunate that Riverside Housing Trust made us a significant award towards the costs of moving and upgrading our studio which has allowed us to buy this recorder. Indeed we should thank the many other organisations which include The Media Trust, Wirral Housing Partnership  etc who have been generous with their awards\and grants and allowed Vintage radio to create its studios provide a platform for both its matrure members as well as providing a compelling and interesting set of programmes 7 days a week.