Archive for February, 2008

Streaming audio using 3G "Broadband"

February 27th, 2008

You may know that I am part of community radio station in the North East. We have been using IP to stream from the studio to the transmitter for many months now, and we have started to do more outside broadcasts using the Internet. We have done most of this using the Ogg Vorbis audio compression. It is my intention to blog about this in the future.

At the start of 2008 it cam to my attention that 3 Mobile had reduced there data charges and how now introduced a pay as you go service for the same cost as the subscription one. The dongle that acts like a modem cost £100.

After a previous broadcast from the Gateshead Swallow Hotel was complete disaster because the Cloud wifi let us down we decided to give 3G a go. For reference the problem was not the actual wifi connection that was good, but the Internet connection behind it being overloaded, and we did get a refund for the night.

Sadly the data rates promised were nothing like those theoretically possible but after a switching to SimpleCast to stream MP3Pro we managed to get by with a reliable 23kbps stream running. Not ideal for FM broadcast, but it was passable and most listeners would not have noticed.

Things went very well for almost 2 hours, and then it all went a little haywire. In the end, after many dropouts, I decided to move the dongle. I stuck it to the window with some tape and everything sprung back to life for the rest of the night. There was then even some bandwidth for me to do things like start this blog posting.

In the end this showed it can be done, but it is not yet 100% reliable. Since the broadcast I have learned that the bandwidth problem was because I only had a 3G connection and not a HSDPA (Turbo) connection in the OB location. I will continue to experiment and will report back on this blog. If you are interested in doing the same then do get in touch.

I now have a foundation amature radio licence callsign.

February 25th, 2008

I have been interested in amature radio and transition for quite some time but never quite got round to doing anything with it. When when I found out about the Waygood radio club that was being set up to coincide with the AV Festival I thought this was the ideal excuse to do something with it.

To save confusion this is the kind of radio this is kind of like CB radio and not broadcast radio that, let’s be honest, I have had some experience of over the years.

After a few meetings and couple of Saturdays training (and another evening training because we are a little slow at times) we took the exam. Today, after a phone call to Ofcom to sort a problem with the annoying web site, I managed to get my M3 callsign. Wahoo!

I am keeping my callsign private for the moment because I don’t tend to post information that can be used to find out things such as my home address, but if you know me then feel free to ask.

A big thank you to Glen and Graham for the excellent tuition.

QRT (I think)

Laptop security update

February 18th, 2008

Over a year ago I blogged about how to protect your PC from viruses and spywhere. Time and technology has moved on and I will be updating this soon, but I thought I would note that I have changed the setup of my main laptop.

I was using McAfee VirusScan Plus (Special edition) that is available for free from AOL. This was doing a good job without hassle and I still recommend it as a free and simple solution. The problem was that it was slowing my commuter down, especially at boot time.

I had a look at Comodo that I found out about through a couple of podcasts. This looks like a very good “Intelligent” firewall, and the company now has a virus scanner is available in beta. Sadly my installation of Apache has a problem when it was installed so I have decided to leave it for now and test it properly later.

In the end I have rolled back to the Sunbelt personal firewall that was originally developed by Kerio.

For virus scanning I did not want a scanner that dramatically slowed down the computer and had almost resigned myself to having to leave any scanner disabled and enable it when I thought it was necessary. I am only prepared to do this because any email entering our network or stored on the server have already been checked. Interestingly the McAfee scanner only ever found things in the IE cache because of this.

I then read about the open source Moon Secure scanner. This scanner you can not actually turn off, but it is very fast, and appears to find the viruses found by the other scanners. This basic solution is all I need so I will be sticking with it for a while, seeing how it goes, and will report back later.

I am going to BarCampBrighton2 (Wahoo)

February 13th, 2008

I have managed to get a ticket to BarCampBrighton2 being held at Sussex University Student Union next month. As in the past spaces went quickly, but there are still 30 being released on Monday if you are feeling lucky.

It will be interesting to see how this second Brighton event pans out as BarCampBrighton was my joint favorite camp, with BarCampLondon06 being the other. I believe that this was mainly because of the number of people, and who those people were. The venue also does make a big difference.

This time there are a whopping 150 places in Brighton, with some of the tickets being allocated to first time attendees, some geek girls, and some students from the venue. My gut reaction is the allocation for first time attendees is a great idea to keep things fresh without overly complicating things. The numbers are a little high, and a more public space like a university will not be as friendly as we are use to, but with luck the people will be what makes it and it will be another stunningly good event.

Changing DNS hosts again

February 2nd, 2008

As I have babbled on about before I have had a few problem with 123 Reg and eventually decided to move away.

After looking at many domain-hosting services I could not find a low cost host, without a long contract, that was reliable, and gave me the control I require over my domain. If you know of one then please do let me know. In the end decided to use the DNS service with my web hosting ISP and have 123 Reg maintain the Noinet registration.

Sadly my ISP had a few problems and closed the hosting business. The new hosting company, who are honouring the original contracts, do not give me the control over my DNS settings that I desire. As a result I decided to try out a free DNS hosting service.

I gave EditDNS a go, but within a few days the European servers failed. I switched then over the to US ones quickly, but less than a week later there was another problem. Yesterday I went back to this list and decided to try XName. I have also decided to use a backup DNS server from another company so am also trying twisted4life to increase resilience.

I will report back if it all goes wrong, and will be donating to the project if it does not.