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Monday, January 2 2017

And We're Back


The server move is now largely complete; if you're seeing this post and not a 404 error, you're set. If you find something that is not working, please send me an e-mail or put it in the comments. For the moment, the Live Bandscan is still on the alternate server it was on before the move and, as such, still has all the oddball quirks that go with it. My hope is that we will move that over to this server in the coming days or weeks.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 29 2016

Server Move Coming

Just a quick note to let everyone know that some amount of down time is anticipated in the coming days as RabbitEars is moved to a new server. SatelliteGuys will continue to be the host, but replacement hardware will be put in to run RabbitEars. This is due to the problems that I'm sure everyone who uses RabbitEars extensively has seen (short periods of down time, random 403 errors, etc.).

In the next day or two, updates on this server will cease since the database will migrate to the new server. I am off from work until Tuesday and have little planned between now and then, so I am hopeful that any issues resulting from the move can be quickly resolved.

Thank you for your patience.

Wednesday, August 24 2016

About the Live Bandscan

I just wanted to provide an update on efforts to restore RabbitEars to full operation. We're back on our regular server, but the Live Bandscan remains non-functional. It ran for the past two or three days, and for that time, the site crawled horribly. There's something wrong with the configuration that we can't track down, and it will probably be up and down as testing goes on over the coming days. Right now, it's down so that the rest of the site is functional.

Thursday, August 13 2015

Absence from RabbitEars

On June 26, 2015, I got married to my wonderful Elizabeth. Starting on August 15, we will be headed to Vermont on our honeymoon. I will likely be completely unavailable from August 14 until August 25, and may have sporadic availability until August 28.

Continue reading...

Friday, June 19 2015

First Wave of Site Changes

As discussed in my post a few weeks ago, I've made the first of the site changes.

Tracking of Mobile DTV other than whether it is on or off: Gone, except I am also still tracking how much bandwidth Mobile DTV uses in total.

Indicator of whether a station is a member of MCV or Mobile 500: Gone.

SyncBak: Gone.

UpdateTV: Still present for now, as I have been unable to confirm it is 100% gone. That said, the UpdateLogic website is no longer active.

AFD and the broadcast flag: Gone.

PIDs, Source ID, and bitrates: Still present for now, but slated for removal. When it happens, the entire section below the "TSReader Data" and "Bitrate Allocation" rows will be removed, as all remaining data that I would track will still be at the top of the listing. I'm also considering moving the Translator Data into that space since it seems more related to technical data than historical data. I'm still pondering how best to make the TSReader data more prominent before doing any of this. I would probably need to include a guide for how to read it for those people who can read my bandwidth usage and other numbers but would be lost in the raw data. (If anyone who falls into that category is reading this, please write and let me know--that will confirm that I need to do it!)

I'm also thinking forward to the future. The FCC is planning to retire its CDBS database at some point in the next few years, and its replacement, LMS, is ramping up. The RabbitEars source code is based entirely on CDBS, and thus if CDBS updates were to become unavailable, updates to FCC data would cease unless I wrote a conversion tool to convert the data into CDBS format as I've done for the Canadian database. I'm considering how to transition the site over to LMS, whether I should write that conversion tool or make more fundamental changes to the code underlying the site. I'm leaning toward the latter, actually, if only because there are some design choices that I made in bolting things onto Bruce's original site code that I now wish I had done differently, and I would hope that the site code can be sped up by removing pieces that are no longer in use. The problem with that, of course, is that it would require more time coding and testing than I may have available to me. Just something to think about.

Opinions and suggestions appreciated. Have a great weekend!

Monday, March 23 2015

Contemplating Site Changes

As the site approaches its 7th birthday (seriously!), those who have been with the site from the beginning back in 2008 and pay close attention have probably noticed that site updates have become not less frequent, but less substantive. While I do my best to keep up with launches of new subchannels and things like that, the more technical updates involving TSReader data and the parameters of the transport streams have become less frequent.

I would like to try to start correcting that. My biggest issue, I think, is that I'm tracking too much information that's of little use. For example, as it stands right now, I track things like the various PIDs. While interesting, it adds a lot of time to each update while not adding much utility to the site. Similarly, I track bandwidths of the various channels. Again, interesting, but as more and more stations move to variable bitrate encoders, the snapshot of often less than 1 minute that TSReader captures and averages is less useful in showing what that bandwidth number actually means in terms of quality.

Basically, I am considering making the raw TSReader data more prominent and discontinuing tracking of the more nitty gritty technical details like PIDs, Source ID, and bitrates in my database. I'm thinking of discontinuing tracking of Mobile DTV other than whether it is on or off, given it seems to be on its way out pending a new ATSC 3.0 standard, and similarly removing the indicator of whether a station is a member of MCV or Mobile 500. I think SyncBak no longer has an OTA component and UpdateTV is completely gone, and if that is so, I want to yank them out of the listings. Information about AFD and the broadcast flag are more technical information better presented in the TSReader data.

The end result would be that I would track the very basics like the resolution, type of audio, short channel name, and network affiliation. For many users, this is probably all they look at anyway. For the more technical users, updated TSReader data would still be available (and more frequently) and could be looked at in its raw form to get the information that is wanted. The data from the FCC database about station facilities would remain in its current format and would not be altered from its current level of detail.

I am also trying to decide whether or not to change the site code to allow for individuals to maintain their own markets. For example, there are several markets where the moment something changes, I have an e-mail from a very dependable person. For those people, in those markets, it might be more efficient to allow them to do their own updates. Should TSReader data become available, I would upload that myself, but to update programming information or the short channel names in PSIP seems like something these people could do themselves instead of waiting sometimes in excess of a week for me to get to their information. The down side to this, of course, is security, mostly since I am a lousy programmer and I don't know that I could do it in a secure fashion. There's also concern over stylistic differences.

I'm cross-posting this both on the RabbitEars Blog and on the Satellite Guys forum. Feel free to comment in either place, or to send me an e-mail direct. I'm anxious for opinions on the various changes I am considering or on other suggestions for the site. Have a great one!

Friday, January 16 2015

Network Grid Updated

I just added the latest new networks to the Network Grid. To make room for them, I moved the Weather and Shopping networks over to the Primary English Networks page.

Thursday, October 9 2014

Map Issue

I'm sure I'm not the only one who's noticed that some of the Google Maps features have disappeared, particularly the ability to choose satellite view in addition to terrain view. I can't figure out why this happened; I changed none of my code and one day they just disappeared. Other websites don't seem to have this problem.

Is there anyone reading who might be able to take a look at the code and tell me what is wrong? I'll be glad to send along my source code, or you could view the source on one of the map pages.

If not, I'm looking at rewriting the map pages again. I feel like I just did that not too long ago, though it's probably been a few years now, but I really don't want to since those pages all work other than the missing options. If I do wind up doing a rewrite, I'm considering moving away from Google Maps and over to something like Nokia's HERE maps. (Bing and Open Street View lack terrain maps, which are important for this type of website.)

Any thoughts or opinions?

Thursday, July 10 2014

Trip's Sudden Unexplained Absence

Just wanted to let everyone know that the sudden dearth of updates from me to the website in general is due to my purchasing of a house. It's eating every bit of time I have, and even time I don't have. Closing is tomorrow, then moving over the weekend (vacation time has been taken for it, too), then hopefully, shortly after that, a return to normal.

Tuesday, June 3 2014

Appearance on Satellite Nation Tomorrow Evening

Tomorrow evening at 8PM I will be the featured guest on Satellite Nation. Tune in, or the shows are archived for future listening.

Topics will include the Incentive Auction Report and Order (as noted in the FAQ below), recent site updates, ATSC 3.0, and the recent news about Sinclair's attempts to purchase Allbritton's TV stations.

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