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Friday, December 7 2018

Leave of Absence

My father-in-law passed away on December 2. I've been away from my e-mail since November 30 and do not know when I will return to it. I'm still making occasional minimal website updates. His obituary is here, an acknowledgment from the Virginia YMCA is here, a link to a single on which he played guitar in his youth is here, and the eulogy I gave at his funeral is below.

Continue reading...

Wednesday, October 31 2018

Further Update on the Google Maps Situation

As you may have noticed, with the exception of the Live Bandscan which I didn't code, pretty much every map on the site is now off of Google Maps except for the main set of coverage maps designed for individual stations. Unfortunately, I have to reproject all 57,000+ (that's 25+ GB) Longley-Rice coverage maps for display in the new format. As such, I'm currently packing them up to download to a powerful local computer, where I intend to do the reprojection offline. I expect to start that reprojection later today, and anticipate it will take at least two days, probably more. When that is finished, I'll upload them back up to the server and make the move.

I considered reprojecting the maps on the server, but a test case took 29 seconds, during which the server was sluggish. When I ran it on the local computer, it took less than 10 seconds. Suffice it to say, I concluded the local computer was the superior option.

While packing and unpacking are in process, the server may be slow as the tar command is/will be hogging the hard drive. Additionally, I plan to make no new coverage maps (or move existing ones from permits to new licenses) while the reprojection is occurring, lest I have to make modifications to a handful of individual map files after the fact.

The good news in all of this is that I've been planning to make a backup of the maps for several months anyway.

EDIT (November 3, 2018 at 5:26PM ET): And, it's done. All the maps, except for the Live Bandscan, should now be off of Google Maps. If you come across a map that still uses Google Maps, please let me know so I can correct it.

Friday, October 5 2018

Update on Google Maps Situation

Unfortunately, over the next few weeks (at minimum) there will be sporadic issues with the various maps until I am able to find the time to write new code to move away from Google Maps. They significantly cut the level of use permitted free of charge and RabbitEars now regularly exceeds that level. Since RabbitEars is not income-generating, I cannot afford such fees and will ultimately have to use a different map service.

Unlike others who have temporarily shut down their services entirely, I'm leaving mine running for the moment, but the error message will appear randomly until I make the move. Thank you for your patience.

Saturday, July 14 2018

Google Maps Changes

So, Google Maps is supposedly changing their policies on Monday, July 16. So far, other changes they made haven't impacted RabbitEars, and I don't know if this one will either. It's possible that maps on RabbitEars may stop working in the next few days and I may have to rewrite the pages to use an alternate map source. I'll cross that bridge only if I have to.

But if they stop working temporarily, that's why.

Thursday, April 26 2018

New Repack-Related Features

I've added two new repack-related features to RabbitEars and wanted to mention their existence here.

First, for LPTV stations filing displacements in the current displacement window, there is now a page listing all the displacements filed since the Closing Public Notice on April 13, 2017. You can find that here, or in the Updates dropdown menu as "Post-IA Displacements".

Second, much like during the DTV transition, stations are required to file status updates with the FCC. A page for those updates are now available as the 387 Viewer which is part of the Repack Tools.

Let me know if you have any opinions, requests, suggestions, or if you spot any bugs. Have a great one!

Wednesday, January 31 2018

Live Bandscan Returns; Scheduled Maintenance Coming

The Live Bandscan returned last week. Unfortunately, the backups were also toast and so we lost some (not all) data going back to the end of 2016. I think it's about back to where it needs to be, notwithstanding a few tweaks needed that I know about (like KSPR still showing up even though it's KYCW-LD now).

On the rest of the site, I'm back in the swing of trying to move things over from CDBS to LMS. The Tower Query and the Location Map now use LMS, and I've got the contours and population data regenerated for use with LMS entries. I wanted to make this post to note that the next big task related to that is going to be moving the coverage maps over, and probably the main listings right after. The result of this is that there will likely be a period of time that I hope is measured in hours and not days during which the maps will not work. I have to rename all the map files to line up with the new LMS ID numbers, and with more than 10,000 of them to pick through, even an automated process to do so will not be instantaneous. I do not yet know exactly when this will be, but I'm hoping it's overnight one night soon. I know there will be some amount of manual cleanup needed afterward, so it may not all be back up and running right away.

I also want to flag that things may be broken here and there even after the maps are back up and running and the main listings are moved into LMS format. The CDBS database has only been updated with TV data two or three times in the past month and a half, and so I'm urgently trying to get away from it. My plan had been to try to transition everything over slowly and as seamlessly as I could, but the lack of updates to CDBS and the coming LPTV filing window are making me rush over to LMS. So, once the maps come back online, notwithstanding Canadian and Mexican data which will likely remain in a state of limbo for several weeks at a minimum, please let me know if you trip over anything that doesn't work properly. With as many features as RabbitEars has, I can't really test it all, and it's easy to overlook things.

The last note I want to make is that I'm not actually making an entirely clean break from CDBS just yet. To those that are familiar with the data structure of the FCC databases, I'm still using the facility table from CDBS but then relating it to the application_facility table in LMS. I'm doing this to hurry the conversion process along, and will ultimately have to go back and adjust the code again to make it use the facility table in LMS instead. Since the facility table changes so infrequently and time is of the essence, I'm leaving RabbitEars on the CDBS facility table for now.

Sunday, January 7 2018

Live Bandscan Outage

To answer the question I've gotten a lot today, the server hosting the Live Bandscan appears to have a failing hard drive. No ETA on repair, but it will probably be out for some time.

Friday, December 8 2017

Coverage Map Page Rewritten

As part of my plans to rewrite the RabbitEars code to support the FCC's new LMS database, the first major step I am making public is a rewritten coverage map page. The code is significantly more efficient and will work with LMS data as it gets phased in. If you put an LMS UUID in the address, instead of a CDBS application ID, it should bring up the correct map. You can also use them to add extra images to the map.

I'm aware that there are some outstanding issues, but would like to find out what others come across. To report any bugs or issues you come across, please contact me or leave a comment here. Please provide a link to the page in question, what you're trying to do, and what it's doing instead of what you expect.

Tuesday, September 19 2017

LMS Integration

I've started the process of importing data from the FCC's new LMS database into RabbitEars. I've imported select individual pieces before, but am now making an effort to pull in the entire thing and replace CDBS data wherever it is used. I had hoped to do a full rewrite of the site code as part of the process, but I'm going to settle for an in-place upgrade.

I point this out only because things may go up and down as I'm working on it over the coming weeks. If something remains non-functional for an extended period, please let me know, as I may not have noticed it. Otherwise, I don't intend to make any major changes to the site layout, just upgrade the underlying data source. I will warn you that this upgrade may cause some links to change. (Anywhere I'm using the application ID number will change from the CDBS-style integer to the LMS-style UUID, for example.)

This will be a very big lift, and may take a very long time. Please bear with me.

Friday, April 28 2017

Help Wanted for RabbitEars Rewrite

I'm looking for a college student or someone similarly situated who is skilled or becoming skilled in web coding and databases. Since RabbitEars is run as a hobby and is not for profit, I cannot offer any payment, but I am willing to provide a good reference in exchange for good work. If you are interested, please let me know. (If you're a college student looking for internship credit in addition to a good reference, I'm willing to speak with the relevant officials at your school to try to make it happen, just let me know in your initial e-mail.)

The underlying code RabbitEars uses is more than 9 years old. It is currently running on PHP 5.6, support for which will sunset next year. Additionally, the underlying database is patterned on the FCC's CDBS database, which is in the process of being phased out in favor of the newer LMS database. As such, I'm getting to the point where RabbitEars needs a full ground-up rewrite, and I simply don't have the time anymore to do that myself. I'm looking for someone who can:

  • Write code in PHP 7.1 and database queries for the latest version of MySQL (unless you can convince me that alternatives would be objectively superior, but note I will only use other open-source technologies like Python or PostgreSQL)
  • Interpret and import the FCC's new LMS database, as well as some data from CDBS, ULS, and other sources
  • Migrate non-FCC data from the current database into the new database with minimal manual intervention, but in an alternate format that would streamline future updates
  • Hopefully make the site more mobile-friendly (preferred, not required)
  • Do this work over the next several months, hopefully during the summer
  • Work with me on this project, so I have a full understanding of the underlying code as well

There will be no on-going support obligations as long as my full set of requirements is met. I have time to do maintenance myself, just not the large-scale project to get it that far. Please see my full list of requirements here.

Let me know if you have any questions. Please share with anyone who may be interested.

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