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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.

Thursday, April 13 2017

RabbitEars Repacking Tools

Tomorrow, April 14, is the 9th birthday of RabbitEars as you know it today. That was the day that the code Bruce Myers wrote was made public for the first time. Even then, we were in the thick of things, with the DTV transition approaching within a year (before it was delayed by a few months). While work had been on-going for some time, it was April 14 that RabbitEars was made live to the public, tracking the transition and providing useful information for all comers.

In a certain way, it's fitting that one day before the anniversary of the site, I am announcing the launch of a collection of tools I have written with information about the FCC Repacking effort. I won't rule out adding more tools as time goes on, but here's what I have ready as of today's release of the Closing and Channel Reassignment Public Notice.

Repack Channel Assignments

This tool contains the full set of repack channel assignments. It relates them by READS Rank, Transition Phase, Operator, and in other ways. The rows are color-coded, with light blue meaning repacked within its current band, green meaning UHF to high-VHF, yellow meaning high-VHF to low-VHF, and red meaning UHF to low-VHF. Uncolored rows are unchanged. Each row also contains links to some of the other tools mentioned here. (One thing that is not mentioned here is which stations elected one or both channel sharing options; stations going off the air in any case are gray. There were so few stations that did not check one or both options that it did not make sense to include support for a feature that would only exclude 10-15 stations total.)

EDIT (4/16/17): This tool now features the Linked Station Set (LSS) ID number, and has links to both the Phase Map and LSS Map for each row which has a value for those fields.

Update to the Repack Checker

The Repack Checker has been a part of RabbitEars for some years now, periodically receiving updates when new FCC Constraints were published, accessed from the main listings by clicking on the magnifying glass icon found next to any auction-eligible station. The last update was in November 2015, when the constraints used for the repack process were published. Now that the new channel assignments are public, the Repack Checker was updated to allow sorting by "FCC Repack" channel order as well as the several current options.

Repack Channel Maps

This map is almost self-explanatory; it shows the new channel assignments on a channel-by-channel basis. There are a few hidden special maps which are not linked directly off that page, which would be this one showing every station that opted to relinquish its spectrum or had its license canceled, and this one showing all of the ones from the previous map plus the stations which are changing band. (So, essentially, all the winning bidders.) As ever, please note RabbitEars uses noise-limited contours for all stations, even LPTV and Class A stations, which are protected to a different threshold by the FCC.

Phase Map

The channel changes that result from the FCC repack will occur in 10 phases, staggering the rescan dates for different markets. This page will allow you to see, in several different ways, what those phases look like and which stations/regions are in each, as well as color-coding them for ease of interpreting and allowing you to look at the phases channel-by-channel. For people who are more interested in wireless than TV, there are even options to look at channels 38-51 as a group to see how quickly the new wireless band will be cleared for use. As ever, please note RabbitEars uses noise-limited contours for all stations, even LPTV and Class A stations, which are protected to a different threshold by the FCC.

Linked Station Set (LSS) Maps

As part of the phased transition, some stations have to coordinate with each other in order to ensure their moves do not cause interference within a phase. These groups of stations are called "linked station sets." I've created a set of maps which show the stations included in each of the 83 linked station sets. I'm sorry that they're currently IDed only by their LSS ID number, but that's the only way I have to identify them at this time. Opinions on how to further describe them in that drop-down would be appreciated.

Is there something I could create which might be useful which is not here? Or a feature I could add to one of the above new pages which would be helpful? Leave a comment, send me an e-mail, or post in the appropriate thread on SatelliteGuys or AVSForum, noted below. Please note that I do intend to incorporate some of this information into the main listings over the coming weeks and months, but could not do it in advance of the data going public.

Finally, here are a few interesting statistics about the FCC Repack. I will make no promises about the exact accuracy of these, since I did some of the counts by hand and errors can creep in.

2200 stations were protected in the repack process. Of those:

  • 5 either lost their licenses or turned in their licenses during the process.
  • 145 opted to relinquish their spectrum completely, either to go off the air or channel share.
  • 30 opted to change band, moving from UHF to VHF or high-VHF to low-VHF.

This means that there will be 2050 protected stations going forward.

To break down the 145 relinquishers:

  • 52 filed pre-auction channel sharing agreements.
  • 81 opted to seek a post-auction channel sharing agreement.

This leaves only 12 stations who had no channel sharing option and will definitely be going off the air entirely.

To break down the 30 band-changers:

  • 16 stations accepted UHF to low-VHF bids.
  • 1 station (WQED) accepted a high-VHF to low-VHF bid.
  • 13 stations accepted UHF to high-VHF bids.

And a few statistics on the remaining 2050 stations:

  • 1063 stations are staying put in this process, meaning 987 stations have to move.
  • No low-VHF stations are moved; all 17 of the low-VHF bidders can be accommodated without changing the channels of any existing low-VHF stations.
  • 67 stations are repacked in high-VHF to accommodate the 13 high-VHF bidders.
  • That leaves 890 stations that are repacked within the UHF band.

Got questions? Feel free to leave a comment here, or post in the thread on SatelliteGuys or the thread on AVSForum and I will get back to you in a way that everyone else can benefit from your question.

And so it begins!

Wednesday, January 25 2017

Site-Wide Encryption!

After finding the nifty automated tool by "Let's Encrypt" and trying it out, I've now enabled HTTPS site-wide. Your bookmarks and other links should now take you automatically to the secure site.

The process did initially break all the maps on the site, but I think I have them all fixed now. If you trip over one I missed, or anything else that's broken, post a comment or send me an e-mail.

EDIT (1/25/17 9:38PM): Yes, I'm aware the Live Bandscan page is now broken. But I did get it to log data again, which was broken for an hour. I accomplished this by turning off the automatic redirect until I figure out how to work around that problem.

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!

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