Sustainable low-budget infrastructure

This month I finish my university career and along with this move I sadly will stop working at Insanity Radio, the student (now community) radio station I’ve been running tech at for about 3 years now. Needless to say, I’m going to miss the place and the people, and the challenges that came with that environment.

Specifically: No budget (a total of £3,000 income annually, compared to the average income of £75,000 for most Community Radio stations according to Ofcom). No paid full-time staff. And a desire for 100% availability regardless.

Over the years the systems at Insanity have evolved and grown – they started out as a single computer for playout, a single encoder and streaming server running Windows Media Encoder with about 50% availability best-case, and we’re now deploying high availability clusters for streaming and encoding, have very few single points of failure, with a total of 21 computers. Back in 2009 we had significant amounts of dead air – outside of a processor failure we’ve had very few incidents since 2011.

Building systems for reliability on no money is a tricky thing to do, and it’s even harder when the people maintaining the infrastructure change on a potentially annual basis. This post is basically a quick encapsulation of some of the most important things to focus on to make such a situation work – not just from a technological perspective but from a human perspective too. Continue reading Sustainable low-budget infrastructure

Facebook and why your organization should be ignoring it

There’s a huge amount of talk out there about how best to use Facebook as an organization. How you can generate massive amounts of publicity and interest, capture new users and visitors, and maximize engagement. All those silken terms that sales and marketing people love to liberally spray all over their presentations. Well, this is not a blog post about how you can do that. I don’t have much of an issue with people using Facebook as a PR tool and a marketing tool- after all, that is what it was designed to be. Marketing yourself, originally, and like all popular but free websites, the site rapidly became about marketing to users.

No, this is a post about why you should ignore Facebook. Turn a blind eye and let it pass. It will, in time, fade away, like Yahoo, MSN and others before those. It may have a huge number of users, but then so did MySpace. People will move on, and Facebook is already worrying about growth figures. But that’s not why you should be ignoring it. Continue reading Facebook and why your organization should be ignoring it