Network Hardware Issues (Resolved)

SoniXCast Whitelabel partners, producers and customers,

Yesterday, August 7th, 2017 at around 19:00 hours we were noticing higher than usual packet loss on the network hardware servicing CABHS32, CABHS33, CABHS36 and CABHS37 clusters. At or around 03:00 this morning (August 8th, 2017) the aforementioned hardware failed catastrophically and an emergency replacement was performed. Unfortunately that also required restarting the cluster which meant services were offline for a few minutes and those services where monitoring was disabled were not restarted automatically.

In the coming days we will replace the current network hardware with something much more robust that can handle the influx of listeners from sonixfm.com and the global public relay network. In the meantime, we have temporarily disabled search queries for whitelabel partners pending the hardware upgrade. The global public relay was not affected and remains as before available.

The cause for the outage was determined to be a material defect in the networking hardware and although the replacement hardware is expected to function correctly, we predict much higher loads as RDNS propagates and more and more listeners are routed through our network. We are therefore erring on the side of caution and will upgrade the entire SoniXCast AnyCastIP network with better quality hardware.

Whitelabel partners, producers and customers need not be concerned about the hardware upgrade as the systems are clustered and “hot-pluggable” meaning no further disruption of service is expected.

Buffering issues within the global public network should now have been eliminated, however as we replace networking hardware, we expect any buffering issues that may remain to be eradicated.

BoomBox users are encouraged to login to the control panel and check that their services are running correctly. Please, do not hesitate to contact support with any issues.

Your SoniXCast Network Team

Producer News for August 2017

Howdy, SoniXCast Producers! As we go into our 12th year, some new and exciting developments have occurred that I’m dying to share with you all. Check out the new roadmap for the remainder of 2017 and beyond:

SoniXFM.com

The streaming service aggregation services unit which provides yellow pages services (kind of like shoutcast.com or xiph.org does) to Sony, Samsung, Microsoft and Apple et al., will have its own dedicated team of software engineers starting immediately. I developed the initial prototype back in 2013 to entice commercial consumers and really haven’t done much on it since. Through cooperatives and partnerships, I envision SoniXFM.com will become the central platform for advertising and popularization of radio stations bringing together disparate services Producers are forced to maintain into one comprehensive platform.

Simply Stated: I hope SoniXFM.com will become the website listeners will go to listen to Internet Radio. And instead of maintaining a Nobex App, Homepage, Tune-In/Shoutcast page, keeping up relationships with advertisers and so on…, Producers will be able to do everything from their BoomBox control panel.

Global Public Relay (GPR)

The global public relay initiative was started back in 2016 to address the hike in listenership coming from SoniXFM.com (currently at an average of 746,000 listener hits a day) and the influx of refugees coming from other stream hosting providers or through acquisition (currently at an average of 8,095 listener hits a day). The GPR is essentially a bunch of custom-built on-demand Icecast servers distributed globally that allow listeners to tune into any SoniXCast Station locally with minimal delay and buffering. The rollout is in full swing and Producers should note the following changes.

  1. More geographically located ip-addresses will show up in the shoutcast server connection log which cannot be helped due to the way the GPR works. We have a dedicated staff of network security specialists working to keep the nasty’s away, so there is no need for Producers to intervene and start blocking ip-addresses.
  2. The current tune-in links (stream.sonixcast.com and relay.sonixcast.com) will be retired in favor of shorter, easier to remember and more appropriate sonixfm.com tune-in links. Don’t panic! stream.sonixcast.com and relay.sonixcast.com will remain active forever! We will just recommend using the sonixfm.com tune-in links going forward.
  3. More listeners from more locations. I made adjustments to the search API to favor SoniXCast radio stations meaning, for example, that if an iTunes listener searches for a radio station by genre, a SoniXCast Station will more than likely be at the top of the list of results. SoniXCast producers will soon get a chunk of that 746K listeners a day coming in from sonixfm.com.

BoomBox 3.0

I’ve stopped development on BoomBox 2.5 (beta and release candidate) and will just be putting out patches and fixes for the remainder of August/September. Instead we’re going to focus on the release of BoomBox 3.0 and here’s why:

  1. We now have a team of developers and instead of forcing them figure out of my code, it will be faster to allow them to read through it at their own pace using the tools they are accustomed to on a project that doesn’t have to be maintained daily.
  2. Liquidsoap (replacement transcoder for the current Auto-DJ) requires a certain operating system (Ubuntu or Centos 7) which is different from the one we currently use (Centos 6.9). Over the next 6 weeks we will be setting up test instances and a focus group to evaluate BoomBox 3.0 for a period of time before going into widespread implementation. Volunteers are welcome and we will put out a call-for-action once preparations have been made.
  3. Shoutcast.com changed the way public radio stations are registered which is “hard-coded” into the server itself leaving us no choice but to continue using the shoutcast server until such time as Radionomy decides (if ever) to make the API available for 3rd party use. This really is of no consequence to producers as the SoniXCast Media Server already wraps the current services and acts as the main access point for listeners.
  4. We have too many stations per node. Over the past year we’ve acquired a bunch of stream hosting providers, lived through the third or fourth wave of Radionomy refugees, picked up a load of refugees from the SteamLicensing.com fiasco and now are in talks with Live365. In essence, we’ve gone from 300 shoutcast server instances at the beginning of the year to well over 2000 now and some of the older server clusters are at 60% capacity. Way too close to the top for this cowboy.
  5. We have to move your Radio Station anyways and not only because of capacity as mentioned above. BoomBox 3.0 will be on a totally different operating system running on a separate server cluster. That will mean radio stations will receive a new hostname and possibly a new port. Which highlights the reason why Producers should never publish the direct server link and use the clustered tune-in links (stream.sonixcast.com, relay.sonixcast.com or, preferably, the sonixfm.com links) instead.
  6. The Global Public Library has been a pain in my rear ever since I had to take it down for licensing reasons a few months back and now after spending all that time and money to get it compliant, along comes a partner that will not only provide the same licensed content and more, but offers syndicated news content and a full-fledged advertising network as well. Since I’m spread thinly enough as it is, I decided to work the partnership into BoomBox 3.0 and sonixfm.com instead. Stayed tuned for more on that.

Don’t Panic!

None of the planned changes will happen unannounced or tomorrow and migration will occur in a very structured manner. There is no need to make any immediate changes to your station. Once the rollout of the GPR is complete, we will begin a campaign to notify Producers to update their current tune-in links to the new sonixfm.com ones. Which will make migration easier for everybody. After BoomBox 3.0 is released (sometime in September), all new customers will be setup on it going forward and those who need or want the extended radio automation features migrated on request. Finally at the end of November, beginning December, when listenership is at its lowest, we will make the final push to migrate the remaining stations incrementally.

Torontocast.com

After having a long conversation with one of the owner’s (ex SoniXCast support tech and customer) and after running financial background checks, I’ve decided not to pursue the lawsuit against torontocast.com and have rescinded the cease and desist order. I do this for a few reasons:

  1. The entire action was driven by our attorneys who are rightfully watching out for the company’s interests. However, after talking to SOCAN, we were ensured that torontocast.com is not receiving the same conditions as we are and although they replicated our business model, they have to pay much more for licensing.
  2. You can’t get blood from stone. The owner’s are just hobbyists who decided to start their own operation on a penny budget. I can’t morally justify putting someone in the poorhouse or disrupting business for just being entrepreneurial.
  3. More importantly, the entire action didn’t fit well with my vision of transparency, cooperation and partnership in the industry. Retail stream hosting, although growing, makes up less than 5% of SoniXCast’s total business and we can surely afford to share.
  4. They were frustrated. They wanted certain features now or wanted to get their fingers into our systems. I couldn’t deliver those features at pace that was acceptable to them and nobody touches our systems without a non-disclosure agreement. Arguably, it was a dick move to spy on our setup and replicate it somewhere else, but I, myself, am genuinely flattered. The judgement into their character is just something you’ll have to make for yourself.