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Technology Committee Minutes: February 5, 2014

Attendance: Markus Lowe (ML), Johrdan Vicstein (JV), Richard Fish (RF), Reina Wong (RW), Cleveland Dietz (CD). Alycin Bektesh attended at the beginning, and then left, deciding she was not needed as a committee member but would be available if needed.

Call to Order: 6:03 PM

RF asked about renaming this the “Information Technology Committee” or “IT Committee” to avoid confusion with audio or radio technology. There was general agreement. CD pointed out that audio and radio tech came under the Facilities Committee.

There have been some reports that the Pongo_SFTP hyperlinks don’t work. FILEZILLA is suggested as a simple, free program that seems to work OK.

An SPJ nomination for the news website was suggested.

CD: Rich Reardin has a connection at I.U. that could hook us up with Informatics students who could help migrate archives to new site. Markus suggested it should be one competent person in SQL database management and PHP code, rather than a group or team. Best arrangement would be an unpaid internship with academic credit given to the intern.  Alycin suggested calling the Informatics counselor to set up credit partnership. This would probably be a semester-long project. CD will get back to Rich Reardin on this.

Reporting weather-related events, school closings and the like: Info has been coming in piecemeal, at different times. DJs should be able to update the information and produce “live” reports as it comes in. A place on our website could be created where people could post information; RF asked if that could result in bad information (unauthorized). ML said the info would have to be vetted. This needs to be organized: make up a list of all the possible organizations we might want to hear from, and do outreach. Find out who communicates closures and delays, ask how to get on the list of media outlets, find out what their preferred methods are (telephone, email). Create a way to put this info on the computer so on-air people can access and update it.

Live webstream: CD reports some complaints. Our live webstream is currently self-hosted with a virtual server on GoDaddy. Receiver in the closet picks up 98.1 and feeds to Icecast (GoDaddy). We can have 15-30 simultaneous users. ML thinks ShoutCheap can handle more. We are using ShoutCheap to send remote streams back to the station. ML: combine all three streams to ShoutCheap. JV: experiment by creating a Virtual Private Server (VPS) as a second “beta” stream. It would have a different URL, anyone who has bookmarked our present stream would have to update. JV: possibly use an “alias”?

JV: best if we could get away from assigned DNS. ML: the port assigned by ShoutCheap is the issue, we could ask for a specific port.  JV will set up the second “beta test” stream over the next month, without messing with the present stream. We will ask those who had problems to try this new stream. RF offered to ask his listeners to test it – has a couple of dozen people who get email about Firehouse Theatre each week. RW asked to be added to the list, she’s a mobile listener, uses TuneIn.

Problems with the webstream could come from various points in the chain. CD will ask Jeffrey Morris if he could put in a direct wired connection from the Board to the streaming computer; this would eliminate any glitches coming from the RF chain.

Internet connection: currently with Comcast. RF asked if we could get on Smithville: they now have a major fibreoptic trunk running right through town, and RF’s dayjob (St. John Associates, 300 West 1st St.) switched to Smithville. JV and ML had not thought this was an option. CD and JV will inquire to find out.  JV suggested a PFSense router in front of the modem, if possible.

Audio updates—Markus will look into a more robust audio player for the website.

Getting data on how and who is using our website. We have Google Analytics now. RW asked about a statcounter, JV said we have to have a specialized tool or set of tools to go beyond Google Analytics, and we probably don’t want to. JV and ML felt like getting the data and displaying it was opening a can of worms, but said they would look into options.

Board had asked, what if JV was unavailable, or someone else had to stand in for him? Server = FreeNAS. Johrdan identified it as a very easy web interface with very good documentation. We don’t really do anything that’s off the beaten path. If someone were to replace Johrdan, he says it would take them about a day of reading through FreeNAS documentation.

Backups Issue: Johrdan is storing our off-site back-ups for servers at his home on his personal hard-drives. We’re approaching 3 TB on Pongo, and JV an ML estimate this will grow at about 1 TB per year. Proper backups require triple storage: servers in use, a set of backups in-house, and a second set of backups off-site – total 9 TB at present. JV strongly suggested a fireproof safe for our in-house backups. Backing up to “the cloud” is not a good option, we have too much data and there are issues with cloud security. Best option is to purchase good “enterprise-grade” hardrives, 7200 rpm, such as Western Digital or Seagate. It would be more efficient to store back-ups at the station. If we did this properly, we would pull the hard drives out of the server every two weeks. A fireproof safe would alleviate Johrdan’s worries.

JV says IT needs are more about network, rather than PCs around the station. Most immediate need is a new Network Switch, estimated cost about $400.00.  A better wireless access point would help. Reliance on WI-FI is not ideal. Ethernet cabling throughout the station would be a big help, but would be a pretty big project to install. Wiring would have to run through walls & ceilings, ports and plugs installed in every room. RF asked if we would need to go through Ivy Tech for permission, CD said no we would not.

Priorities: Network switch, ethernet cabling, better wireless access point.

RF asked about getting class data to students via our website. JV suggested using a publicly-shared Dropbox folder, and ML agreed this was more accessible, less risk if data goes to people not associated with the station, handier for immediate needs.

RF asked if a Board member was needed or useful on this committee. ML, JV, and CD said probably not. RW wondered how useful her presence was.

Adjournment: 7:28 PM

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