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OAS Playout Development - archive

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Future Developments ... new features planned for Playout

Playout Development Archive

How the product evolved.....(2003-2005)

30/12/05: Firstly, Happy New Year to everyone, especially those who've shown an interest in Playout. Secondly, I've been spending a little time this holiday season putting together the finishing touches for the first beta release of Playout V3. This will include most of the features covered on the Future Developments page including voicetracking, the enhanced display and some other bells and whistles. Once I've got the help finished and some other sundries, it should be out there first thing next January.

03/12/05: A mixture of things.... First and foremost, the second voicetracking alpha release rolled out last weekend, this very nearly completes the functionality for the finished version although there is much testing and playing around with it do through various beta releases before I'm 100% happy with it, however I have now made a start at the help for it....

I've also been having another look at a little utility I wrote a while back which runs in the background and monitors a directory tree for changes. It will then update the Playout database accordingly - so for example if you rename a track, it will pick up on this and apply the change to the database accordingly. It does though have scope for doing nasty things if you're not careful but most annoyingly relies on a Win2k/XP only API call which also needs to be implemented (in some form) on any network server you're "watching". Unfortunatly, Linux samba shares don't provide it so I've been adapting it to provide partial functionality using supported API calls. It might make it into a release soon if I'm fully happy with it.

21/11/05: Firstly, done the technical write up for last weekend's Image broadcast - all went fairly well aside from some minor niggles. It's been a bit of a frustrating time all round really, technically it was a tedious weekend with lots of little problems cropping up on the development front although I do have a semi working voicetrack scheduler built into Playout itself. Possibly most frustrating though is the marketing side has been going nowhere. I reluctantly took the decision to take a pro-active stance and start contacting the community radio applicants with a short (hopefully informative) email about the product. I say "reluctantly" because I'm not a big fan of unsolicited emails and thus far the response (or lack of it) has bourne that out - not totally unsurprising I'd freely admit. So that and even my ad on UkRadio.com (& their newsletter) has yielded very little - the user base is and remains predominantly created via word of mouth. That old adage remains true - not what you know but who you know.....

11/11/05: I've put together a couple more voicetracked efforts plus evolved the software a little further - also had one of my many testers report in with general impressiveness - so all good stuff on the front. Unfortunatly, whilst all the complex stuff is now pretty much in place there is still a fair amount to do before it becomes commercially available - such things as auto scheduling programmes in, writing all the help files and the like. A quick reminder in case anyone's forgotten - our next ImageFM broadcast is on air this Sunday from 8pm GMT which continues to be excellant proving ground for Playout as a whole.

30/10/05: Put my first voicetracked programme together earlier this week - in the process ironed out a few little buggettes in the software but it seemed to go reasonably smoothly. As such the first "alpha" release has been made available to a number of people who've expressed an interest in putting it through it's paces. There's still a degree of work to go into, primarily Playout to auto schedule programmes and mostly tracking down bugs with the Manager side of things before a proper stable release can come about. Longer term there also remains a number of extra bells and whilstles which have yet to go in - but I'm fairly pleased with the result thus far.

24/10/05: Over the weekend managed to finish off the final bits of the "first cut" of voicetracking into Playout Manager, this mostly affects the integration into the "Playlist Management" tab and made a start at including the processing necessary within Playout itself to run a voicetracked program - a process which as it turned out didn't take too long, at least from the point of view of being able to manually launch the thing. I have a little more tidying up to do and then spend a little time myself putting together a programme but we are now fully into the first wave of proper testing - little after only a year in development as well.

15/10/05:Confusingly, there are several things on the go right now. Firstly there is a little spin of program I mentioned last time round, cunningly titled "OAS Requester" or "RequestATrack" or some such thing - the name is subject to much discussion - which in it's basic incarnation is now going to be simply a Winamp plugin using Winamp's media library as the database (instead of Playout's database). Secondly, OAS Playout Lite exists as a kind of "proof of concept" right now which will integrate key components of Playout and Playout Manager into Winamp's media library. The "Requester" package will also form part of this but using the standard Playout database again. Got all that? However I really want to get back to at least finishing off the voicetracking component of Playout Manager and making sure none of those changes have broken anything major in the software. Oh and we've another ImageFM broadcast planned for next Sunday evening as well.

18/09/05: It's been a little quiet on the development front, being holiday season and the like plus I needed a break from the voicetracking effort which I'd been devoting a significant amount of effort on throughout June. However I have been beavering away a bit today at what could be a spin off product, tentatively (and somewhat originally) named 'OAS Playout Lite'. I let people loose on the "RequestATrack" idea (see 13/08 entry below) at what has become a fairly regular BBQ come party at my house - the idea proved somehat popular especially once the tech contigent realised they could request tracks over WiFi via their mobiles/iPaqs (see Jim's Blog entry). The suggestion came about that there might be a market for this sort of thing leading on to a cut down Playout system for mobile discos/parties etc. Thus I've opted to use Winamp as a 'core' player, backended onto Playout database with a cut down Playout Manager tool to support it. With the wealth of 3rd party plug-ins (a good one being a cross fading plug in) it could prove a nice cheap playout system.

14/09/05: OAS Playout v2.61 is now available as the current formal release. Principally this is to include the new audio core which includes support for Windows Media & AAC audio formats. There are no further updates planned for the immediate future until the voicetracking changes have at least stabilised in the main software.

13/08/05: Another tangent but since it's starting raining again, I thought I'd have a play with some web based Playout interaction specifically in this case to allow users to search for and request tracks from the database, dropping them automatically into a playlist for use by Playout. I've mentioned this concept before and having a working MySQL database engine/Apache server setup means there's nothing but my ignorance stopping me (using MS-Access really isn't viable for this - MS IIS servers I believe do support this but it's not something I've got access to). I opted to try out PHP for this task since played with it a little before & know it works on my setup. Have to admit to being quite impressed, within a couple of hours had a working few pages (asthetically needs a bit of work) to do just what I wanted - a couple of screen shots on the future developments page.

08/08/05: It's been a busy past week, as I've just about completed the bulk of the voice track segue editor and the initial database structure updates to support this principally because I've been keen to get my mate Jim (who's job involves looking after Playout software anyway) to have a play with it & throw some opinions my way on how it's going. So just spent quite a pleasant weekend in sunny Luton, part of which involved (apart from consuming a few beers) a bit of a chat and play with the new software. Some really helpful thoughts and the like came out, along with spotting a few buggettes in what's already there. We also had a play with the cue points editor - to be honest a feature I don't think hardly anyone's played with but none the less has been the bane of my life undergoing several interface overhauls in it's brief life and now another (albeit minor one) is due post our discussions. All in all, a worthwhile weekend.

09/07/05: Voicetracking is now back as the primary development activity again for Playout, much of the GUI front end for segue editing & manipulation is now done, audio playback of the segue view is next on the agenda followed by the roll back into the database. Progress is going along slowly I'd admit but even I'll admit that there's some pretty complex logic going on to juggle this lot however I've updated the screen shot on the progress page to give an idea of how things look.

02/07/05: In rapid succession, OAS Audio 0.82 is released today - mostly due to me messing up a bit of logic to skip ID3 headers, if you grabbed the 0.8 release recently, best use this one to avoid nasty squelching noises being played out at the beginning of tracks. Sorry 'bout that...

24/06/05: OAS Audio 0.8 is released today. It includes support for AAC/MP4 formats along with (experimental) Windows Media (wma) plus a few bug fixes & other minor enhancements.

15/06/05: Today OfCom awarded Unity24 a 5 year community license in their latest round of licensing. When they take to the air this will make them the first station to use Playout in earnest on a 24/7 basis.

13/06/05: I suppose with my investigations into AAC & associated formats it was innevitable I'd bump into the Digital Rights Management (DRM) thing. It's a heated subject & rightly so. From the "man in the street's" point of view, the approach iTunes (AAC locked .m4p files) and Napster (Windows Media locked .wma files) isn't too restrictive - you can play them on your own PC's, iPod & burn CD's. It also conceivably a good way for small radio stations to get hold of music cheaply. The problem is of course that there is only a very limited subset of players which will decode & play this stuff and of course the big companies aren't going to tell the like's of me how to do it either. Not cheaply anyhow. So I can't see DRM encoded media being supported in Playout anytime soon but I have had a good measure of success playing "raw" AAC & now m4a encoded files. I might even have another look at WMA format for a laugh....

05/06/05: It's been another one of those weekends, officially I have a hamstring injury which practically makes me a premiership footballer but without the salary so not much in the way of doing anything enegertic again. Jim was down earlier in the week and amongst our general ramblings, AAC cropped up again (this following our recent excursions into the world of streaming AAC+) - he's seriously considering moving a load of audio to this new format. So I've spent large swathes of the weekend researching the subject. AudioCoding has a wealth of background information & is the home of the freeware FAAD decoder. I'd like to make OAS Audio (Playout's audio core) AAC capable via this DLL but not ship it with the product thus avoiding any nasty licensing issues. Think I've finally got my head around the format in as much that there appear to be several approaches to packaging AAC, the basic ADTS/ADIF format which is closer to MP3 (supporting ID3 tags and the like) but being variable bit rate in nature quite a pain to navigate to the more newer MP4 encapsulated variant (iTunes preferred format) which is a lot eaiser to deal with from a player point of view but has it's own tagging mechanism not as well advanced as ID3. I suspect initially I'll try out the raw format and take it from there.

30/05/05: Taking advantage of the dodgy bank holiday weather and me having pulled a leg muscle earlier in the week (see, sporting activity _is_ dangerous to your health), it's been back to the voice tracking development & remember exactly what I was doing last time - really I need a good long session where I can get to grips with everything instead of spending half a day remembering how everything works. It's probably not going to happen though but I have managed to make a fair bit of progress - much of the core segue editor is now working. I also wanted to get some print outs of my code to scrawl over & despite this being the ink jet printer age you can't beat ye olde dot matrix "tractor" style printouts for this - my trusty old Star LC10 printer is still around for the job (& Win2k comes with drivers for it!) but the ribbon's just about had it. Not expecting much I Google'd to see if these things are still obtainable and have been pleasantly surprised that there are a few people stocking the things - I opted for an outfit called ValueImaging - box of 2 for a fiver, can't be bad... My lack of faith in todays throwaway society isn't quite dead.

23/05/05: OAS Playout v2.6 is now released - the freeware version has already been available for some time now as a late beta release. Functionally there is very little different between this and the previous release in terms of the main playout software, this version has mostly introduced a series of extra database fields for track information incl. Record labels, Publisher etc. to facilitate off air logging and PRS/PPL reporting since this is now a percieved requirement for the new community radio stations.

16/05/05: Although somewhat shorter than normal it's always good when the Hastings Rock guys use Playout since I'm that much closer to getting instant feedback & any problems with the software. Possibly the most positive thing to come out of this year's broadcast is the final cremation of the skipping/jumping tracks phenomina (unless noone mentioned it), something which has cropped up on and off over the past few RSLs on this station & also on some of the Image broadcasts. I'd always suspected this was something outside Playout - virus checkers, web cams, other dodgy software and this year with a clean XP installation everything went fine. Aside from that a couple of other things to watch out for - had a 'new' advert loaded that then wouldn't play - no error or anything although I wasn't there in person to diagnose the problem, a package restart solved things, likewise I also heard someone attempt to play a track which then generated an error message but this could be an unsupported file format made it's way into the system - the database goes back to the very early days of Playout when the importers weren't so rigourous on file formats. We also lost Shoutcast Title updates after 3 days - I have a nagging feeling this also happened at some point last year although I can't find any notes on the matter - it was however going through a Squid proxy cache to contact the servers which did break things somewhat - once it was switched to a direct link all was well. Couple of minor comments on resizing drop down boxes & other minor stuff but all in all not a bad broadcast.

02/05/05: Done the technical write up for our last webcast plus you can also catch the recordings of the "event" on the Image Comms site.

I've also updated the Freeware Playout version to include a step-by-step guide on how to get it up and also fix a bug which may prevent it using all the available files. Anyone downloading this will get a full 30 more days to try it out.

29/04/05: Hastings Rock take to the air in about 10 minutes for their annual foray - for a fortnight this year instead of the usual 28 days however that still doesn't limit the amount of prep time & effort that needs to go into setting up the kit. As usual despite the setup being almost identical to last year there are still all those subtle changes that crop up - using a different broadband ISP, mail servers, XP being generally obnoxious..... The intent of this broadcast is a leader into the community license application & such has a number of experiemental components, not least on the technical side. Thus it's also a good opportunity to try out the latest Playout release in it's new 1280x1024 mode (even though it's not quite ready for release) - see what people think. Plus we'll also be streaming in AAC+ format after the success & impressiveness of the trial a few weeks back.

22/04/05: As usual rather late notice but the next ImageFM webcast which will put the current active Playout software through it's paces will be next Sunday (24th - not the 25th as recently advertised...) at 8pm, BST.

11/04/05: Quite a busy weekend this past - in lieu of the next Hastings Rock broadcast this May, the current beta of 2.6 has been up & running continuously on one of the new machines which will be used. Whilst there is nothing radically new about this release since v2.5 (most of the changes are within Playout Mgr), my intent is to enable the new enhanced display - which whilst not quite yet ready for general release would like to see what the folk at the station make of it - this period also served to show up some subtlties between XP & Win2k - notably the taskbar & window borders being slightly different sizes, thanks Microsoft..... Having also invested in Orban's Opticodec AAC+ encoder recently as well, gave that a whirl to stream the output to a select few involved with the station to gauge their opinion on it's quality - I think it sound superb at 32kbs. The station's also been having difficulty sorting out a news source for the broadcast - one of the group suggested a (US) outfit called FSN World News who offer a downloadable news bulletin for a modest subscription rate so out of this came a piece of software which downloads the file every hour & refreshes a 'news' playlist such that the automation sequencer will load it into Playout without user intervention - the first time I've really played with dynamically changing playlists with the system. Aside from a few caching problems & that they don't appear update their bulletins very frequently (once over the entire weekend) that all seemed to work & will probably become an optional 'add on' for Playout. To support the file format (44khz, mono) I've also had to adapt the OAS Audio core to accept mono file formats, it's still a bit experimental and not all of the Playout suite can deal with it but should be formalised in due course.

02/04/05: Have updated the freeware version of Playout to the latest 2.6 release - this is actually newer than the current retail release principally because it's still in beta testing although this mostly affects Playout Manager so won't really be an issue for this version. Voicetracking work is back underway now the last suite have database updates have gone in.

26/03/05: Over the past month 2 more beta releases have gone out which now hopefully completes the functional updates for the 2.6 release - as mentioned in previous entries this is a customer requested update to incorporate more database fields and include the capability to log advert playback.

11/03/05: The site's undergone a bit of a shuffle this past week,the more observant amongst you will have spotted up till recently 'onasticksoftware.co.uk' was simply a redirector to 'onastick.clara.co.uk'. Now they are two sites in their own right - this one will focus on Playout and supporting software with all the legacy/archive stuff held on the old Clara site. I've put redirectors on many of the key pages but if something appears missing try prefixing the page with either www.onasticksoftware.co.uk or www.onastick.clara.co.uk and it'll probably turn up.

27/02/05: OAS Playout v2.6, Beta 1 is released for initial testing/comments. This is the first phase of incorporating the additional database structure updates for PRS/PPL reporting (see below) and implements the editors/import engines for these fields. This is principally to allow one of our partner proposed community stations to begin building their music database up properly. Further work will be required to fully implement all these fields in the area of music logging, exporting information etc. but this will allow the time consuming aspect of cataloging music to begin.

27/02/05: Jim just beat me into mentioning my "discovery" of AAC+ audio compression and subsequent email exchange with him by commenting on it in his blog (and doing a bit more perusing into the matter after my rather feeble research attempts). Suffice to say initially it looks like the target audience will be the streaming audio market offering near CD quality sound at bitrates in the magnitude of 32bps (contrast that with MP3 at 128bps) and it's very impressive. The commercial encoders are however somewhat expensive although the Open Source boys have been quick off the mark with the FAAC/FAAD libraries (encoder/decoder) but they are limited to fairly high bitrates so not ideal fo streaming. It's only a matter of time though before tracks will start being ripped into AAC format, how well this takes off only time will tell but in theory it shouldn't be too hard to incoporate the FAAD decoder into Playout - there are licensing issues for commercial use of AAC technology though so it may not be just quite yet...

21/02/05: OAS Playout v2.51 is now released. Principally this is an asthetic update which aligns the colour scheme of bitmaps etc. with the Windows scheme (see my entry on 11/02/05) but there are a few functional enhancements to Playout Manager, notably the new Cue Points editor which came about as a result of the initial voice tracking work. It's all very active on the development front right now with some fairly major database structure updates going in to support the extra data needed for PRS/PPL reporting (see below) along with a couple of other enhancements all of which will almost certainly roll into a 2.6 release before I can get back to the voice tracking work. Not to mention the other v3 features which were started early last year.....

15/02/05: I've been playing ID3 tags again, principally to support additional database fields which are likely to be required for community stations in order to provide music logs (a feature already supported by Playout) for PRS & PPL purposes. Have to admit that I am a tad confused as to why amongst the many defined ID3 fields the Publisher/Record Label field is a single entity (when in many cases it is different) and there is no field for the CD catalogue number - perhaps someone can shed some light on this? What I did find which looked quite promising are ISRC codes which if I understand it, uniquely identify a specific recording and are also stored on CDs themselves (there is an ID3 field for this as well) - I feel sure this would be sufficient on the PRS/PPL side of things (thus avoiding much manual data entry for record labels etc.) but thus far have failed to find any ripping software which will do this. I do think there's potential there for the future though.

11/02/05: Trivia rears it's ugly head again - whilst putting together one of the new Hastings Rock machines (who, are on air again this May for 2 weeks as a kind of promotional run in preparation for community license) I've been experiencing Playout running on Windows XP for pretty much the first time (here we continue to use Win2k) - unfortunately the many of the buttons & bitmaps don't adapt to the XP colour scheme & therefore look quite wrong (for the more technical of you, many of the buttons use the old Borland buttons [BWCC] which make setting customize buttons very easy but the bitmaps don't follow the Windows colour scheme). Whilst this is also true with any flavour of Windows, if the default colour scheme is changed is more prevalent with XP so I've embarked on the rather tedious task of adapting all the controls to follow the current colour scheme.

12/01/05: In a burst of enthusiasm, the first initial phase of the voice tracking engine is complete and work is underway for the next chunk which encompasses the major part of the updates necessary to incorporate it into Playout - more detailed info is on the forum page.

30/12/04: Traditionally, the Christmas break is something I use to spend some quality time putting in the next "latest & greatest" bits to Playout but this year, principally due to work hectivity (is that a real word?) I've taken a break from anything computer related till next year. Except to say happy new year to anyone that reads this in time....

16/12/04: Done the technical write up for our last webcast plus you can also catch the recordings of the "event" on the Image Comms site.

07/12/04: As usual rather late notice but the next ImageFM webcast which will put the current active Playout software through it's paces will be next Sunday (12th) at 8pm, GMT.

05/12/04: I was pointed in the direction of a program called SimpleCast the other week - its a standalone streaming encoder (Mp3, Ogg, & WMA) which takes line in audio and can stream to a multitude of servers. It's quite impressive and easy to use (not free I hasten to add but very reasonably priced), what intrigued me was the support they've built in to receive track metadata from playout systems - in a similar vein that I do direct to the servers (Shoutcast, Icecast et al) but centralized in one place. An update module for Playout will follow shortly....

19/11/04: Unity24 are using IceCast for their MP3 streaming server and in true incompatible style the updating of metadata (current track/artist details) is different from Shoutcast which Playout currently supports. In fact IceCast servers appear to be quite a bit more advanced (and therefore complicated) over the ShoutCast equivalents but in true open software style there is a fair amount of information on how to talk to them so I've managed to put a track lister module together for them which is now available as an add-on for any version of Playout. I'd regard it as beta release because my experience with IceCast is limited to aprox. 1 day so I may have missed something......

14/11/04: OAS Playout v2.5 is now formally released - available to buy on the retail page. We've been testing this one for a while now because it's the first significant feature enhancement since the original v2 release just over 18 months ago. The button wall has been redesigned with customisable colour schemes, "drag and drop" jingle support (something I've been meaning to add for ages) and the first phase towards voice tracking - full automation mode with backup crash recovery capabilities. The About page has been updated to reflect all this & more.

20/10/04: Voice tracking development for Playout is now underway - more here.

18/10/04: The current beta release has just completed 2 weeks unattended automation (using the new dedicated sequencer mode) with no issues arising - effectively I left it running in the background on my work PC - Win2k, SP4, Dell GS650, 512MB RAM. I also ran it through Boundschecker which is a really useful tool for tracking down memory leaks, overruns, API failures etc. This just about completes beta testing - I have one issue to look at on the new button wall with regard to resizing then a new issue will be be rolled out.

12/10/04: Final (hopefully!) beta release of Playout v2.5 is now released to the testing hoards and in addition is available as an upgraded retail version to customers if desired. All being well this will become the latest retail release within the next month. In addition this release has also been running in automation mode for the last week without interruption or any issues arising.

08/10/04: Yesterday, paid a visit to the Unity 24 station in Southampton to (amongst other things) show off the latest versions of Playout and have a general chat about the latest enhancements and other ideas on improvments/suggestions for the software. It was a very successful day all round and they are keen to use the up and coming 2.5 release for their next RSL (late October).

05/10/04: We now have a discussion forum up and running for OAS Playout - it's publically available to browse (although you will have to register to post) so feel free to add thoughts/comments et al on all aspects of the package - what you think of it, new features - even 'its crap' although some further explanation would be appreciated).

26/09/04: Yesterday I was mostly "tweaking stuff" (to over paraphrase a bit of the Fast Show there), bolting some more protection into the new release (see previous post) but also generally looking for problems - I'm always concious that making changes will also mean me breaking something. The new automation engine ran fine over Friday night (not a particularly lengthy test I'll grant you) and I've been trying to break the button wall (managed to get two exceptions on that during our Image broadcast) but seems okay at present. I've also been getting to grips with the Windows Event log - MSDN isn't the most readable on this matter but I've got the hang of it and have put some useful logging in there now to help track down any possible problems in the future.

18/09/04: Since the next release of Playout will include a dedicated automation mode, I've been putting some thought & effort into 'bomb proofing' Playout in case of unexpected system outages - things like loss of the audio store and even the database itself. To this end the system will support automatically support utilising a backup music store & even provide a dedicated 'crash' playlist which is invoked if loss of database connectivity occurs.

27/08/04: First Beta release of v2.5 is now out for testing with the hoards, there's still some work to do on the support documentation (help files etc.) but apart from some more testing should be just about there.

26/08/04: Voice tracking: I've had a couple of email queries on this one, it also came up yesterday at a meeting with the Hastings Rock folk and may become more of a desirable feature now we're entering the dawn of community radio. As it stands Playout doesn't support voice tracking at present but it's always been an aim to do so (there is more on this on the future developments page) and the next release of Playout (v2.5) starts to address this with support for a dedicated automation mode. Already much of the underlying features are already there in the existing product (Playout's ability to overlap tracks & 'duck' jingles for example) and with the interest being shown it's going up the priority list and may well be rolling out in test releases during early 2005. Watch this space for updates.

03/08/04: Faster than a speeding thing, read the technical write up on our last ImageFM webcast using the latest Playout build.

02/08/04: Updated the future developments page to give a clear picture of "where things are going next". The ImageFM webcast (held on 17 July) went very well - a few technical hitches on the Shoutcast side of things - I _will_ do a technical write up when I have a few spare minutes, in the meantime there are pictures and sound from the event on the Image FM website.

02/07/04: It's been a bit quiet here mostly because (for the more observant out there) the site's undergone a bit of a radical overhaul and I've been taking a break after the Hastings Rock broadcast. However if you like alternative radio then the next Image FM webcast will be putting the latest Playout software through it's paces on Saturday 17th July - so stop by and give us a listen - exact times to be defined closer to the date.

24/06/04: I've done a write up on how the Hastings Rock RSL went from a technical perspective - effectively it all went very well with no significant problems or issues occuring with the new release. As such OAS Playout v2.4 is now released for purchase/lease on the download page.

26/04/04: You can also read Jim's write up (complete with picture) of the last webcast on the Image website. It really is very good.

20/04/04: The latest webcast went out successfully this weekend without any issues arising along with 48hrs back to back automation - you can read up in more detail on the trials page. This effectively completes testing for the v2.4 release which will shortly become the new retail variant.

14/04/04: OAS Audio v0.7 is now available for download - this is the version currently being used with Playout v2.4 Beta releases and all things being equal the final release version. This update includes a number of feature enhancements including improved support for VBR MP3s and Ogg/Vorbis file formats. A number of other minor bug fixes have also been made.

11/04/04: Another small webcast is planned for end of next week, this should be the last stages of beta testing for the new 2.4 release hopefully ensuring the new audio buffering engine is stable and that no network 'stutters' are occuring any more. Certainly it has not shown up any problems here but Jim is notoriously good at breaking stuff when he gets hold of it so we shall see....

09/04/04: OAS Playout v2.4, Beta 2 is released for further testing. This release includes Beta drivers for MySQL databases & initial alpha variants for PostgreSQL - this also supports some experimental work to enable Playout to receive dynamic playlist updates from a website - for example to allow listeners to pick requested tracks and load them seamlessly into the system which will open up a range of exciting possibilities for future updates to the package.

03/04/04: Been convinced for a long while now that something isn't quite right with jingles overlapping tracks (auto mode) and finally took a good look at the code and discovered that any tracks less than 15s (so jingles typically) never enter the automatic track overlap logic so always leave a bit of a noticeable pause between the next track firing up. For entertainment value it's quite good since I think this has been in there since version 1.0.

26/03/04: The folk at Unity24 have now had Playout up & running solidly streaming back to back music for the past fortnight without any problems and still going strong - almost certainly the longest continuous period of usage the package has been subjected to.

25/03/04: Finally got round to putting my marketing hat on & writing an advert to go in ukRadio.com's Radio Newsletter - it should be appearing in the next 4 issues over the next month or so.

24/03/04: Along with the MySQL database engine (instead of the default MS-Access one) which is now proceeding through beta testing smoothly, work has begun on the PostgreSQL variant. It's slow going notably due to their strict adherence to SQL and is proving less tolerant of the subtle 'variances' which MS-Access generates. On the performance side, it's also very sluggish in comparison to both the MySQL & MS-Access variants although this may be down to some odd configuration setting which I've not yet looked at.

12/03/04: There's been a number of minor incremental updates to the 2.3 release of Playout mostly fixing minor but annoying niggles - not totally unexpected in a way for new untried software but it's been a bit of a push to get some of these changes done in time to support an RSL (on air now) without really enough time to fully test everything. However it looks like everything's stabilised again & the latest updates can be tracked as usual on the development page.

27/02/04: Hastings Rock have announced this year's RSL dates - May 2004, in the meantime at least one RSL will be on air between now and then using the current 2.3 release, see the trials page for more information. Beta testing of the new 2.4 release is now underway with an aim for it's debut on Hastings Rock in May. Whilst there is little in the way of obvious changes, this is the first time several major changes have gone into the OAS Audio (decoder) engine since the original v2.0 release last April & the next few months will help to prove confidence in these changes.

06/02/04: OAS Playout v2.32 (retail) is available - this is a pure bug fix release to solve a couple of significant problems in the areas of category filters & playlist generation.

27/01/04: OAS Audio 0.6 now available for free download. This is the latest version & has yet to be shipped with any Playout release - of significance is initial (experimental) support for PCM/WAV format and enhanced buffering capability for MP3 audio streams (see news on 12/12/03 & 29/12/03 for more info on this) but essentially this should provide much better playback capability over unreliable networks that are subject to slow downs or temporary stalls.

23/01/04: Initial screen shots of Version 3 now up on the Future Developments page - this gives an idea of how the next major update to the product is going to look - only for those with big enough monitors tho!

04/01/04: Freeware/Demo version of Playout is now available for download at the latest release (v2.3) standard, this incoporates all the bug fixes & enhancements that have occurred over the last 9 odd months and is now operationally equivalent to the current retail release.

Archive - 2002-2003


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