SATV Update Part 2: Video on Demand WIN!

May 2011 Video on Demand stats annotated

In my last post I talked about the new video-on-demand system we got at SATV.  Recapping, this is a rack-mount Windows Server 2008R2 system that runs IIS and Windows Media Services in a custom system that will handle all the programming playback and ingest needs for a small public-access cable facility.  It also transcodes programming for on-demand playback  through the built in WMS.

This past May we introduced this capability to the community of Salem, Massachusetts.  How was it received?

It was all WIN!

This past spring, Salem lost our former mayor Sam Zoll.  He was only our mayor for a few years in the early 1970’s before being appointed to the bench, but he was a much-beloved individual with the foresight to stage-manage his own memorial service.  It was filmed and broadcast on SATV, but on a Friday afternoon not long afterwards, we had our VOD server transcode the file and we published the link on our web site.

In the screenshot above is a capture of my internal reporting tool (using PowerShell and Log Analyzer) that runs once a month and gives us stats on what people are watching.   It shows that Zoll’s memorial service was accessed over 270 times, and had a total viewing time of over 26 hours!

It was only overshadowed by Salem Now, which featured a very popular Salem band, The Extras Band, giving an excellent performance that was easily in the realm of American Bandstand of my youth.  That show had over 500 accesses!

In a time where organizations like SATV’s must take advantage of new social media, our new system was very fortuitous indeed!

Now that we had the system working, I needed to make it as reliable as could be.   We had been having glitches with the network in our cablecast plant for quite some time.  We had an 8-port gigabit switch and an 8-port Cat 6 patch panel, both of which were overloaded.

We purchased a Dell 2824 24 port managed gigabit switch to replace the old switch, but I found a problem with our patch panel:

Leviton Cat 6 patch panel with broken jack

When I first designed and built our Cat 6 network a few years back, I used a Leviton 12-port panel in this and a few other rooms in the facility.  This panel was designed to be oriented just as you see it.  Note that the RJ45 tab is on the side as are the contacts.  Note the broken contacts on jack #6.

The jack was stressed and was destined to fail.  $150 later—and a reorientation—that problem was fixed:

Reoriented patch panel

And this is our network switch:

Dell 2824 Network Switch

We still weren’t done.  Following a very visible power failure in our facility last year, Sal and I were determined to not have that happen again, or at least, we wanted to ride out any power transients in a much smoother way than before.

We purchased two Eaton 5130 1500 VA UPS units, each with an SNMP/web network card and an external battery.   We can access these directly from the network without needing a PC to control them.  We use Spiceworks to manage our IT and that app has UPS support for our units.  A happy day!

SATV Cablecast 2011-07-13 014

We redistributed our older Powerware 5125 units to power our server, and perhaps more importantly, part of our control room from which our studio shows are produced.  We have a total of 4 managed Eaton/Powerware units, 1 unmanaged APC and one unmanaged TrippLite.  During a summer in downtown Salem that saw National Grid trucks on the street every day, and a 5-hour blackout at my own apartment building one Sunday afternoon, this new hardware is most welcome.

We were finally getting closer to perfection. 

In my final post, I talk about the last few things we’ve bought, but more importantly. I talk about our future and what it means.

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