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Archive for the ‘Shop talk’ Category

I told you yesterday that we need a video card to begin streaming BlackLight Radio again.

A reasonable question would be, “why do you need a video card to stream radio?”

YouTube does not provide us a way to stream only audio to them; if we’re going to stream to YouTube, we’re going to have to stream audio AND video (even if that’s only a static image of our logo).

(This, BTW, is different than streaming audio, where even all you’re playing is pre-recorded files, you don’t even have to have a soundcard to encode and send to a server.)

The next reasonable question would be, “why do you need a different video card since you already said you might be using a static logo and 99% of computers come with video cards built in?”

The software we are going to be using, Open Broadcaster Software Studio, requires a video card capable of supporting OpenGL 3.2.

I’m not 100% clear on what OpenGL 3.2 is or how it benefits OBS; I just know that without it, the software won’t run.

The computer I have to do the encoding for YouTube is old enough that the built in video card doesn’t run OpenGL 3.2.

(In case you’re wondering, I’m running Linux on it so the load is light enough to let it encode for YouTube.)

The next challenge with this computer is that it is old enough that it doesn’t have AGP or PCIe slots… only PCI.

There are several PCI video cards which can do OpenGL 3.2 on Amazon, but the least expensive I’ve found is the Sparkle PC 210 DMS59 512MB DDR3 PCI Graphics Card 700033.

It’s $50 plus $9.15 for shipping.

With this card in my current machine, I have every reason to believe we would then be able to use it as a dedicated encoder to feed YouTube with audio and video 24/7.

Although I’m still learning the OBS software, I’m thinking that there should be ways for me to set it up to display the 45 RPM single picture sleeves when songs are playing.

I’ve seen other live streams include all kinds of real-time information from the time of day to current donations to the current song playing.

I’d love to see us able to stream the music video for songs when we have them available… but that is several learning curves away. 🙂

We currently have $20 in our PayPal account, so we’re still needing $40 to get this video card.

If you’d like to help make this happen and help bring back BlackLight Radio, please consider donating through the button in the column to the right of this article.

I check PayPal every day, so once the money comes in I will be sure to let you know, and keep you updated on the delivery status and installation.

Were I not between jobs right now, I’d buy the card myself, and if no one donates the money, I will purchase it once I am employed again and caught up on bills.

Thanks for reading this far, and thanks for considering supporting BlackLight!

Posted by Gene
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I mentioned yesterday that there was an option for BlackLight Radio to begin streaming again, though YouTube.

Today, I thought I would detail what that would look like, and what we need.

The reason we don’t stream audio anymore is because the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and the related laws that were later passed, require so high of a royalty fee that is no way for us to even cover our costs.

That is even after ad insertion by a national advertising agency… the money in just can’t keep up with the royalty fees out.

Additionally, the way the laws are structured, the larger the listening audience, the larger the royalty fee… so even if you get more listeners and get more advertising dollars, the royalty fees make sure you can NEVER get ahead.

It’s the reason that iHeartRadio and Pandora, both wildly popular streaming audio services, are on the brink of bankruptcy and shutting down.

We’ve been streaming in one form or another since December of 1999, and we’ve lost money every single month we streamed.

We had always hoped the rates would at some point brought down to a reasonable level, but instead they have been increased, guaranteeing financial failure for anyone trying to legally run a business off of internet radio streaming.

YouTube operates a little differently.

I’m certain that they are paying significant royalties, but I get the impression they are negotiating directly with the copyright holders for lower rates.

The result is that in many cases I’m sure they are paying much less for certain songs; in other cases, the song is excluded from their service.

The important part to us is that they don’t charge us to stream songs they have licensed.

The only caveat is that they won’t allow us to monetize our live stream if we are playing copyrighted songs (which of course every hit song of the 80s is) and the copyright owners CAN run ads and make money off of our stream.

In other words: we can’t MAKE money on the stream, but we don’t LOSE money, either.

This would be the first time in 18 years we would break even!

That’s a deal I’ll take every time; this station is a labor of love, anyway, so I certainly don’t mind spending the time as long they’re not charging us money.

There are two issues with streaming on YouTube: first, as mentioned there as songs they won’t allow us to stream.

The result is that about 25% of our music library can’t be streamed to YouTube.

Don’t worry, though, as there are still a ton of amazing 80s hits that YouTube has licensed and we can stream without problem.

Second, we need to use a dedicated encoding computer to send the stream to YouTube and while I have a computer I can dedicate to this effort, it does not have the capability to run the encoding software.

We have $20 in donations in PayPal currently.

With $40 more, we can get a video card that will allow us to stream live to YouTube 24/7.

I check daily to see if anyone has given any money through the PayPal button to the right of this article.

I’ll give you more details about the video card requirements, and the card we’re looking to purchase, next time.

Posted by Gene
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Welcome to our new web home!

For those of you who have been following us on Facebook, you already knew we were changing web hosts, but if you hadn’t heard, let me explain what has happened:

For the past 15 years, we have been extremely blessed to have hosting provided by Jerry Rose and Aidan Internet Solutions. The service and hosting has been superior, but Jerry is closing this chapter of his life and shutting Aidan down.

At first I wasn’t sure where we could move or what we could do; this is an especially difficult time financially for us and while we’re not streaming right now I haven’t given up hope that at some point we will be able to provide 80s hits to you again. Giving up the domain just didn’t seem like an option.

Enter: InstaFree!

InstaFree is an amazing company, a division of WSWD, Inc.. InstaFree provides FREE webhosting, FREE virtual machines, and FREE TeamSpeak servers. Additionally, where many other “free” hosts require advertising on your site with them, InstaFree does not. If we grow too big they will want us to pay $12 / year (no kidding!).

I looked at a dizzying number of free hosts over the past week trying to decide who would be our safest best. I was surprised to find hundreds, if not thousands, of providers offering to host your site for free. I narrowed it down to sites that provided two mail boxes minimum (postmaster@ and inbox@), didn’t require banner advertising on the site, and supported WordPress.

Not only did InstaFree impress me with what they were offering for free, but with the content of the forums. Reading over posts from users and the owner, it became clear InstaFree REALLY knows what they’re doing. It’s a class act all the way around. They have a list of countries they DON’T accept customers from because those countries overwhelmingly are spamming, hosting illegal content, etc. The result is a better hosting experience for the legitimate website owners on their service.

Now that we’re actually on InstaFree, I couldn’t be happier. The server (located in Dallas, to centrally serve our United States visitors) is lightning fast. I goofed when I first tried to migrate our old files to the new host, but they provided support in the forums and worked with me to get the site set up properly.

As you can see, it worked! 🙂

Hopefully the result of this move for you will be: no change. The site should always be up and responsive.

One thing I’m going to start trying to do is post here more often. With the shock of having to shut the stream down last September, I know I’ve been quiet. I plan to change that if I can. I also need to clean up the site some, basic housekeeping, and I have content I’d like to add.

Also, again for those who haven’t been following us on Facebook (and why haven’t you?), there’s a chance to bring back BlackLight Radio on YouTube, of all places! I’ll save that post for another day.

Posted by Gene
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