Saturday, December 10, 2005

Broadcasting to the

Morley FM goes live again on Tuesday and I'm heavily involved of course with all sorts of challenges to sort out. The biggest one has actually been IT. Rather than rent a phone line and get broadband for something that would only be used a few weeks a year, instead our helpful landlord offered us connectivity via the school phone system and internet access via their network (so that we could stream to the world).

Unfortunately, their phone system is IP based, i.e. it is modern & high tech but we can't plug it into our studio kit which is designed to interface to regular lines. They have given us an IP phone but the power supply hasn't turned up yet so it isn't working at the moment, indeed we don't even know what phone number it will be as the wheels of education grind slowly...

The interface problem we resolved by obtaining a device called an ATA- it is what you use when you want to put a Fax on a hi-tech system. Unfortunately, however, it does need one of four software builds on it & it seems to be straining the capabilities of the support team to know what to do to get it working, especially as we bought it on eBay rather than purchased through the normal channels. We know it works on the phone side as we can get it to speak its IP address through the studio mixer. Unfortunately, however, that doesn't suit the presenter who wants to play "two word Tango" with listeners, as "IP" and "press square to exit" don't quite cut the mustard for entertainment value.

As for the streaming & internet, the streaming works when it shouldn't do, but only for a few minutes at a time. Our PCs can see the various network devices (via pings, a very Pythonesque name for a network test)but can't see through the proxy unless they are part of the school domain. (Doesn't IT sound like a mixture of elections and fantasy war games?) But, to be in the domain, the machines must have XP Pro and our account password hasn't come through anyway. Maybe we should have just rented that phone line with Broadband.

We also found out that our transmitter wasn't legal, as it isn't CE marked. Well, actually, it is, but only the power brick. It seems that Veronica never got round to CE emissions approval & have been flogging transmitters to Pirates (& proper access radio stations) without OfCom wising up. Methinks it is the upsurge of pirates in London that have caused OfCom to get heavy.

Now that they have, it isn't worth while for Veronica to submit the no-doubt extensive & costly approval paperwork for a niche product, so they now simply sell them outside of Europe. It seems that one of their biggest Customers overseas is the British Forces who use them in Afganistan and Iraq.

Kafka would have been proud...

No comments: