Mandatory BoomBox Upgrade 3.0.3

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: As of immediately all servers have been updated to BoomBox 3.0.3. Users must complete the upgrade by logging into BoomBox and following the upgrade instructions. The upgrade to version 3.0.3 is MANDATORY for all users and must be performed MANUALLY upon login into the BoomBox control panel. USERS WILL NOT BE ABLE TO MANAGE THEIR SERVICES UNTIL THE UPGRADE HAS BEEN COMPLETED.

The upgrade process will normally take only a few seconds, but can take longer for users with large music collections. You must contact support via the ticket system in the customer area at www.sonixcast.com with any issues that may occur with the upgrade. SUPPORT WILL NOT BE PROVIDED VIA 3RD PARTY PROVIDERS (i.e. facebook, twitter). THE TICKET SYSTEM IS THE ONLY MEANS ACCEPTED FOR CUSTOMER SUPPORT REQUESTS.

Music files and folders are being re-organized with this upgrade and therefore services (Server, AutoDJ) WILL be restarted upon completion of the upgrade process in order to ensure proper operation. Please plan your station outage accordingly.

Migration

All files and folders will be moved from playlists (Finder ‘Playlists’) folder to the music folder (Finder: ‘My Music’) and the playlists folder deleted in order to enable full access to file and folder operations (i.e. copy, move, delete). In addition, folders and files will be sanitized (renamed) in order to ensure proper service operations. Track metadata will not be affected by the sanitization operation. The sanitization utility has been added to the Finder App for future discretionary use.

Changes in version 3.0.3:

  • Better crash protection for services (Server, AutoDJ) to ensure longer uptimes.
  • Auto-monitoring of services that will attempt restart of a service up to 10 times in succession before giving up and sending an email notification to the station operator.
  • Rewrite of quota and traffic management services and display widgets. AS OF IMMEDIATELY DISK SPACE USAGE OVERAGES WILL APPLY.
  • Rewrite of the service management pages (Server, AutoDJ) to include full control (start, stop, restart) of services by the user. Save operations will automatically restart a service in order to apply changes.
  • Less aggressive service polling in the BoomBox interface and elimination of ‘blinking’ working icons that confused some users.
  • Added the Sanitize Utility (Folder, Brush icon) to the Finder App for discretionary use users who prefer uploading via FTP. Auto file and folder sanitization and normalization has been built into the Finder uploader. USERS WHO UPLOAD VIA THE FINDER ARE NOT REQUIRED TO RUN THE SANITIZATION UTILITY AS FILES AND FOLDERS ARE NORMALIZED UPON UPLOAD.
  • Added playlist management functionality to the Finder App. Users can right click on a folder, select the ‘Edit Playlist’ option and create or edit existing playlist settings associated with the folder. Folders that are deleted in the Finder App will also delete the associated playlist settings in the Playlist manager.
  • Playlists can now be associated with a folder in the music library. A dropdown has been added to the playlist editor that allows the user to select a folder from the music library containing tracks for playback. IF NO FOLDER IS SELECTED THE PLAYLIST WILL AUTOMATICALLY BE DISABLED.
  • Auto disabling of the AutoDJ service will occur if all playlists are disabled or the associated folders are empty.
  • Diverse UI upgrades and enhancements to eliminate confusion and better user experience and usability.

Cloud Services Update 3.0.237

We are happy to announce the release of BoomBox update 3.0.237.

  1. With the introduction of the new Clustered NAS (which maintains customer files), the maintenance of Cloud Services has been moved to the system. Customers are no longer required to maintain Cloud Services from the dashboard.
  2. The Cloud Services App has been renamed to Finder (File Manager) in the customer (BoomBox) interface.
  3. A new feature has been introduced: If one creates a folder (has not been tested with subfolders) or uploads an entire folder of music via FTP into the Playlists folder, a playlist is automatically generated in the Playlist manager. However, the playlist remains disabled until reviewed by the station producer.
  4. Permissions management in the Finder app has been revised and should now perform as expected.
  5. A more aggressive service monitoring solution has been introduced which will improve service uptime and availability.
  6. A restart threshold has been set on the auto-dj service and if unable to start after 10 attempts it will be automatically disabled. This addresses the issues reported by producers who use a 3rd party auto-dj services and have not yet discovered that the auto-dj service in BoomBox can be disabled.

Transcoder Patch 3.0.2.233

Please be advised that a patch has been released which repairs issues reported by customers concerning playlist playback. All transcoders are currently being updated by script and users are encouraged to check their individual playlist settings as soon as possible. No other user action is required.

Reported Issue

Periodic and Sequential Playlists would not playback at the subscribed times or not at all

Cause

libxml2 compatibility issue.

Synopsis

After system update, the updated libxml2 library mangled the output from the event prioritizer feeding the transcoder with partial event information. Thusly all playlists were mis-prioritized and fallback went to the first playlist in the queue.

Resolution

The transcoder was re-compiled in order to support extended xml features and pushed out to all servers. Each account with an active autodj is being re-configured and restarted by script.

Important Information

The transcoder update script was started on 01/19/2018 at 19:00 UTC and is expected to take two hours to complete on all systems. The script will automatically re-generate configuration files with their current settings, so users are encourage to verify playlist settings, but to take no other action until after 21:00 UTC or once the autodj (transcoder) has been restarted by the system or otherwise notified (i.e. facebook post) by the support team.

Release: BB v3.0.2

This is a maintenance release which addresses customer reported issues and system management requirements in both the frontend (web interface) and backend server systems. With this release the BoomBox software release schedule enters the production (stable) stage.

Customer Issues Addressed:

  1. Random shoutcast server restarts
  2. User (DJ) connection
  3. Periodic playlist playback
  4. Inability to apply Auto-DJ (Transcoder) changes
  5. Inability to delete playlists and users (DJ’s)
  6. Inaccurate Listener Trends

Customer Impact

Customers will be presented with a modal dialog informing them that an update is available and restart of their services is required is order to apply changes. Customers may choose to apply immediately or at a later time, but if they choose to defer, will be notified at each login that an update is pending and that some features will remain disabled until the update is performed.

Dialog Text

We are happy to announce the release of BoomBox 3.0.2 which resolves customer reported issues reported in the previous release. Customers must restart their services in order to finalize the update. This update will cause connection issues for your listeners until service operation has been re-established.

Important: The Auto-DJ (Transcoder) service MAY NOT restart if there are some unapplied changes from the previous version of BoomBox. Producers are encourage to check playlist, dj and auto-dj settings before applying the update and should plan at least an hour downtime in order to resolve any issues that may arise.

Release Specifics

Radionomy (shoutcast.com) released an updated version of the shoutcast server which patches an exploit in the source client management routines which would enable source clients to restart the server. This feature has been disabled and the server service must be restarted in order for the updated version to be applied.

We’ve introduced more aggressive process management routines which force the application of the Auto-DJ (Transcoder) setting changes. Minor changes to playlists and DJ settings (i.e. Schedule adjustment) will (as before) only reload the process and customers will have the option to fully restart the service if settings do not immediately take effect.

A repair in the calculation of listener trends (which presented cumulative instead of average statistics) has been applied globally and does not require application of this release.

Finder v.3.0.1 Update

Finder Feature Highlights

An update to Finder has been released. The following issues have been addressed

  • Drag and Drop uploading of music files from local computer or from the GML has been repaired.
  • Access control rules have been adjusted to restrict downloading or copying of certain content.
  • Playlist folders can no longer be removed or added from the Finder application. Playlist folders are managed in the playlist manager and should not be manipulated by users however this process can still be performed via FTP. Users are advised not to manipulate playlist folders for any reason.
  • GML has been cleaned up with more work yet to be performed.

How-To Assign tracks to playlists

Setting up a playlist for playback is performed in two steps.

  1. Create a new playlist in the playlist manager by clicking the “plus” icon. Name the playlist and configure the desired playback scheduling. Once saved, return to the playlist manager and enable the playlist (green power button). A playlist folder will automatically be generated for you.
  2. Using the Finder application (‘cloud’ icon in BoomBox), navigate to the appropriate “Music” (for your uploaded files) or “GML” (for global content) folder, select the desired files and drop onto the desired playlist folder. Once complete, click on the “Reload Playlists” button to activate changes in the AutoDJ.

BoomBox v3.0.1 Release

BoomBox Version 3.0.1 is a maintenance release which repairs issues introduced in previous releases. This release also concludes the migration of playlist track management and integration into Cloud Services.

Important Information

In order to finalize migration to cloud services, all customers must log into BoomBox, navigate to the AutoDJ settings page and press the Save (floppy) button. Customers who do not perform this operation may experience data loss.

Change Log

  • Upgrade to ShoutCast Server v.2.5.5.733 which repairs runaway playlist issues introduced in v.2.5.5.700 as reported by Radionomy support. Playlist and DJ scheduling now works again as normal. This update also repairs Statistics collection.
  • Status and Statistics Collection repaired and timing adjusted to be more responsive.
  • DJ and Playlist creation issues repaired.
  • Introduction of Cloud File Service with Global Music Library Integration.
  • Introduction of Dynamic Playlist Generation for better accuracy during shuffle routines.
  • Introduced the ability to completely disable the AutoDJ.
  • Introduction of the Playlist Reload feature in order to repair playlists starting over after minor changes to the system.

Playlist Reload Feature

A ‘Reload Playlists’ button has been introduced which eliminates the need to restart the AutoDJ after making changes to a Playlist or DJ.

Cloud Services

Finder Feature Highlights
Major feature highlights of the new Cloud Services Finder App

The Cloud Service introduces three new components to BoomBox and integrates playlist track management into one interface greatly enhancing track management and allround ease of use. Although intuitive for most users, Finder has context sensitive help (tooltips) for each operation the will help until full documentation has been completed.

Cloud Watcher Service: watches the local file system for changes and notifies the autodj component if new files are added to a playlist regardless if uploaded through the finder interface or FTP.

Finder (a.k.a. File Manager): Is the integrated user interface which mimics file management much the same way the File Manager (Windows Systems) or Finder (MacOS systems) does. Music Tracks can be dragged and dropped directly from the local computer or the integrated Global Music Library into playlist folders for immediate playback (uploading multiple files will require playlist reload). Music Tracks can be also listened to (previewed) directly in Finder interface.

Global Music Library: The global music library consists of 60.000+ fully licensed for playlick music files sorted by Genre made available to customers at absolutely no extra cost in order to avoid any legal complications that may arise by uploading one’s own music files. Updated weekly, the total multi-lingual compilation of the Global Music Library is expected to reach 250.000 by the end of the calendar year. Customers who wish to provide music (such as Indie Artist) should contact support for more information.

Folder Structure: The Finder organizes your music library as follows: The main folder Playlists contains subfolders (appropriately named for each playlist) in which the music files reside designated for playback by the AutoDJ. The main folder Music is where all your previously uploaded music files reside. The main folder GML contains music files that you can copy to your playlists (in the main Playlists folder) for immediate playback by the AutoDJ.

Runaway Playlists Synopsis

The last version of the ShoutCast Server eliminated a crucial callback interface which (among other things) helped notify the autodj that data was received thus causing the autodj to ‘race’ through playlists and loop. The issue came to light after Radionomy support responded to our ticket request and advised immediate update of the server. Which was perform yesterday, prior to today’s release.

Music Files

All customers are encouraged to pre-process their music library before uploading. Please ensure that all music files are properly encoded, tagged and named in order to facilitate painless playback in the system. We no longer ‘clean’ music files for you as it slows the system down. Improperly named files may not be recognized by the AutoDJ, so it imperative for all customers to refer to the naming conventions below or by example the Global Music Library.

Shuffled Filename Example (Shuffle enabled in Playlist Settings):
Artist_Name_-_Track_Name.mp3

Sequential Filename Example (Shuffle disabled in Playlist Settings):
001_Artist_Name_-_Track_Name.mp3

 

Coming Soon! New Playlist Manager for BoomBox!

We have immediately begun migrating all customer accounts over to the new BoomBox Playlist Manager v3.0.1 which will allow users much more flexibility creating and managing playlists as well as introducing seamless integration of private and public music libraries. Migration is happening in the background and no service interruption is expected. Migration is expected to be completed for all customers by January 10th, 2018.

Issues Addressed:

  • Playlist and Track Rotation
  • Sequential and Shuffled Playback
  • Track to Playlist Assignment
  • Frequent AutoDJ Restarts

Features Introduced:

  • Full Drag and Drop Support for Track to Playlist assignment, File uploading and downloading, Copying between Libraries and more…
  • Upload directly to Playlist (no need to upload to music library first unless so desired)
  • Copy/Move between Personal Music Library and Playlist or even Playlist to Playlist
  • Global Music Library integration (60,000+ fully licensed, international titles)

Limitations:

Only properly tagged, file name normalized music tracks are guaranteed to playback in the autodj. Files with mangled filenames (i.e. spaces, special characters) could be skipped. Use the file naming format demonstrated in the global music library as example.

Sequential playback is alphanumerical (priority numbers then letters). If you wish a certain sequence during playback, you must edit the filenames of all files in the playlist, adding a number at the beginning of the filename representing the order in which it should be played. You must also disable the shuffle playlist setting in BoomBox otherwise sequential playback will be ignored.

Shuffled Filename Example:
Artist_Name_-_Track_Name.mp3

Sequential Filename Example:
001_Artist_Name_-_Track_Name.mp3

Licensing regulations have changed. As of January 1st, 2018, customers could be held personally liable for any music uploaded to our servers by the performance rights organization responsible for region in which said customer resides. It is therefore important that customers retain the appropriate proof of purchase or waiver from the copyright owner for any and all music uploaded to our systems.

Important Information:

This is an emergency release of release candidate software to address issues with the current production version of BoomBox. All aspects have been fully tested in a development environment and certain features (i.e. cloud drive mounts) disabled in order to afford ultimate stability. However, it is to be understood by all customers that in a production environment, some issues may occur and support should be duly notified by submitting a ticket into our support system at www.sonixcast.com. Multiple tickets concerning the same issue will be merged and tickets regarding issues with the previous playlist system closed as they are addressed by this release. Customers are encouraged to be as factual and detailed as possible when submitting tickets.

BoomBox is in “incremental release” mode meaning that stable (fully tested) patches to the software are released on a regular basis (usually daily) addressing customer and other developmental issues. We time responses to customer feature requests and tickets with said releases.

BoomBox 3.0 Released

We are ecstatic to announce the release of BoomBox 3.0 Radio Automation (BB-RA) which signals the finalization of the migration from the BoomBox 2.4 platform and the beginning of real time incremental updates.

Visit BoomBox at: bb.sonixcast.com

What’s Different?

BB-RA 3.0 has been simplified even more making it easier for new users, but also allows the fine tuning settings for more advanced control. All system resources are shared by multiple virtual nodes making BB more responsive and faster. We’ve implemented new file system tools eliminating the need to “repair” or “index” files uploaded via FTP. We’ve implemented a new, faster and more reliable music upload utility. BB-RA now has more extensive trends reporting for all station relevant demographics. Including geo-location mapping of listeners. The ShoutCast server has also been updated to the latest stable version (requires server restart) And the features go on and on…

Why the Migration?

BB 2.4 was based upon legacy server systems which required extensive maintenance and administration. This sometime lead to downtime despite modern hardware clustering and ip-failover. BB 3.0 is completely cloud based implementing virtual hardware nodes and deterministic load balancing eliminating downtime altogether.

Additionally, development was severely hindered by the monolithic architecture and would sometimes take weeks  to apply patches or new features. The new “plugged” architecture now allows an almost immediate path for development of patches and features.

Why the Delay?

We announced that the release of BB-RA 3.0 would happen before Christmas, but issues migrating listener statistics from 2.4 caused extensive delays. Therefore we decided to begin statistics collection starting immediately and will work on exporting historical data after the new year.

What do I have to do?

We recommend that all producers login at least once to complete the automated migration and statistics collection, restart the server (to use the latest version)  and index their music library and check playlists and dj settings. And, of course, report any issues you may be having to Support.

What about other features and documentation?

BB-RA is help context sensitive. Simply hold your mouse over the information icon associated with a setting and more detailed information and recommendations will be displayed. Full documentation will be released after the new year.

Other requested and announced features (like the global music library and advanced radio automation (LiquidSoap) implementation) are on-track for release next year.

Stay tuned for updates

With this release patches and feature updates will occur at a whirlwind pace and we will announce each as they are ready on our blog at blog.sonicast.com

BoomBox 3.0

We are Happy to announce the release of BoomBox 3.0

BoomBox 3.0 is here and better than ever. Over 6 months in the making, BoomBox 3.0 is full featured, battle tested and sports a new faster and more robust infrastructure and interface.

As some of you may know, there have been challenges keeping up with growth and occasional service interruption due to high loads. Whitelabel partners have experienced higher than usual response times using the search API and all around system and network management has become untenable for the support team.

Migration

Over the next 3 months (September through November 2017) all accounts will be migrated over to BoomBox 3.0 (current version is 2.4). However, clients will be presented with the option to migrate at their own pace at a time and date of their choosing. Clients will be presented with the option to migrate whenever they log into BoomBox and an easy to use Wizard will step them through the process.

Migration means the hostnames will change, so it is imperative that customers make use of the relay and redirect settings on the BoomBox dashboard to ensure that listeners can find their station after the migration has completed.

Value Added Services and Features

Invariably the question will arise “What about Liquidsoap or the Global Music Library?” Both, along with other projects have been extricated from BoomBox and will be offered separately as value added services or features. This means there will be some service plan and price restructuring over the next months. We are still evaluating development costs and will announce each feature/service release and price separately.

Classic Licensing/Hosting Plans

Current (Classic) plans will retain current pricing, and will be limited to basic Shoutcast server and SoniXCast Transcoder services. These plans are geared towards hobbyists requiring minimal licensing and basic Auto-DJ features.

Professional Licensing/Hosting Plans

Professional plans, priced differently than classic plans, will bundle value added services (like APM or CML as described below) to provide more complex event scheduling and programming management features for stations desiring such operations.

Advanced Program Management (a.k.a. Liquidsoap)

The development of the APM feature required a separate development team and different operating system and as such, stations that desire APM must be provisioned differently.

Cloud Music Library (previously known as the Global Music Library)

Because of it’s dependence on the APM project, the CML will be offered in conjunction with professional plans or as an add-on feature for classic plans.

SoniXFM.Com (Radio Aggregation Services)

Recent interest from current and requirements from new joint venture partners has spurred development of the sonixfm.com website. All development resources not currently allocated to support have been re-assigned to this project slated for release in December 2017.

For the Techies

More technical savvy customers like to interrogate our methods and reasoning from time to time which sometimes leads useful revelations and we welcome the discussion (although we could all do without the breast thumping and the non-conducive ranting). Therefore, we present this high level overview of the changes to the systems and network:

Current BoomBox infrastructure relies on the use of classic dedicated servers using hardware methods to failover the IP-address to a different backup server upon failure. Despite assurances from the provider, this method has proven to be severely lacking. Particularly under heavy listener tune-in and search API loads. Often switches would fail or become bogged down (and thus crash) trying to switch from one server to another leading to service outage.

The new infrastructure makes use of virtual server instances which are redundant across 3 geographically diverse datacenters and are switched by a dedicated and self managed load balancer. On August 16th 2017 we tested the failover infrastructure by funneling 4 million requests per second while simultaneously shutting down 2 of the 3 instances without losing a single ping request. We also performed a load test sending a burst of 40 million requests (3 times our current load) and achieved a maximum average load of 77% across all instances.

For Customers

So what the heck does this mean for me?

Sometime between now and December 2017, when you log into BoomBox, you will be presented with a popup informing you that your account is eligible for upgrade. That means our support team has done the work of replicating and testing your station on the new infrastructure and only the final options must be set and the station switched over.

YOUR RELAY AND REDIRECT LINKS WILL REMAIN THE SAME AFTER MIGRATION.

New customers will be eventually provisioned on the new platform, but, for now, will also have to endure migration at a later date.

Customers have the option click “click away” the popup and plan when to migrate, but will be “annoyed” every time they log in and will be forcefully migrated if ignored for too long. That is a call our support team will make depending on time and resources.

Why All The Fuss?

We are growing too gosh darned quick for the current infrastructure to keep up. In August alone we had over 8 million hits (12 million in July) and that with 5 (we have a total of 30) server clusters disconnected from the search API.

Network hardware is coughing and sputtering under the load and our support team is spending more time arguing with marginally responsive and exceedingly difficult datacenter support technicians than helping customers.

The new infrastructure is ours alone to manage and maintain. We own it (like google owns theirs) and there is no more dorking around with some egocentric 3rd level support lacky.

BoomBox 2.4RC Software Patch

Unfortunately an important feature used to read id3v1 mp3 tags from music files was removed unannounced from 3rd party software during the last system update and that caused file corruption for some customers using tag editors that write id3v1 tags.

We have built our own mp3 tag parser to eliminate this issue going forward which had to be developed and fully tested before release. It took our team a couple of days to complete which is the reason for the delay. We are now in the process of restoring affected accounts, however some playlists might not have survived this issue and may have to be rebuilt. Be sure to login to boombox and check if you notice any issues with your Auto-DJ.

Important: Only a handful of customers were affected by this issue. If your service is working as expected, there is no need to take any action whatsoever.

We apologize for the inconvenience and hope you can appreciate that we were just as surprised about this issue as you were. With this patch, customers can once again process (move, delete, edit, repair) music tracks normally without concern.