BoomBox Periodic Events Update

We’ve recently released a software update to BoomBox which addresses the challenges some customers are having scheduling and executing periodic playlists like spots and news blasts.

The issue, as reported by Support, concerns confusion when prioritizing periodic playlists which complicates triggering at the times expected by the customer.

Currently BoomBox mimics playlist scheduling implemented by the now defunct ShoutCast Transcoder as it was the most well known process by customers at the time of development. With the implementation of the Liquidsoap Transcoder, this process will eventually be replaced by a more intuitive calendar-based approach.

The resolution was to simplify the way BoomBox processes periodic playlists. BoomBox now tries to determine prioritization according to the weight of all playlists scheduled in the queue. Those with ‘heavier’ rotation requirements are now automatically prioritized at a lower rate than periodic playlists in order to ensure expected triggering.

In addition, the duration property is now less deterministic in favor of the higher priority repeat property which ensures that a periodic playlist only plays one track per event instead of playing all tracks to the end. This behaviour also favors better shuffling of multiple track playlists.

Setting up periodic playlist now requires only the ‘Start Time’ (How often an event is triggered in relation to midnight UTC) and ‘Time Offset’ (When the event should be triggered in relation to the Start Time) properties in order to be properly scheduled. Event repetition (Repeat) and Track Shuffling behave as before and will override automated settings.

Examples:

Although customers will not notice any difference in the BoomBox interface, the scheduling of periodic playlists has been immensely simplified in the backend. The following scenarios serve as a start point for quickly understanding periodic event processing and setup.

Scenario: Spot

This scenario assumes that there is heavy rotation playlist (Daily) containing tracks that play all day, every day and a radio spot playlist that will inject itself over the ‘Daily’ playlist every 15 minutes (or roughly every 3 songs) on the hour.

  1. In BoomBox, create a new playlist and name it ‘Radio Spot’
  2. Set Shuffle and Repeat properties to ‘No’ (default for new playlists)
  3. Change Recurrence to ‘Time Periodic (Spots or Jingles)’ (
    default for new playlists)
  4. Set Priority to ‘Average’
  5. Leave Date Range fields empty
  6. Set Start Time to ’00:00:00′ (triggers every hour)
  7. Set Time Offset to ’00:15:00′ (triggers every 15 minutes after the top of the hour)
  8. Leave Duration field empty and save (Floppy Icon top right corner of the form)
  9. Navigate to the File Manager and upload your radio spot file to the auto-generated radio_spot folder.

At this point, no further intervention is required. The playlist is automatically scheduled and activated. However, one should ensure that the heavy rotation playlist (named ‘Daily’ in this scenario) is prioritized as ‘Lower’ and the ‘Radio Spot’ playlist is prioritized as ‘Average’ in the playlist manager.

Scenario: Jingle

This scenario assumes that there is heavy rotation playlist (Daily) containing tracks that play all day, every day and a jingle playlist that will randomly inject a jingle or radio advertisement over the ‘Daily’ playlist every 30 minutes (or roughly every 5 songs) on the hour.

  1. In BoomBox, create a new playlist and name it ‘Jingles’
  2. Set Shuffle and Repeat properties to ‘No’ (default for new playlists)
  3. Change Recurrence to ‘Time Periodic (Spots or Jingles)’ (
    default for new playlists)
  4. Set Priority to ‘Average’
  5. Leave Date Range fields empty
  6. Set Start Time to ’00:00:00′ (triggers every hour)
  7. Set Time Offset to ’00:30:00′ (triggers every 30 minutes after the top of the hour)
  8. Leave Duration field empty and save (Floppy Icon top right corner of the form)
  9. Navigate to the File Manager and upload your jingle tracks to the auto-generated jingles folder.

At this point, no further intervention is required. The playlist is automatically scheduled and activated. However, one should ensure that the heavy rotation playlist (named ‘Daily’ in this scenario) is prioritized as ‘Lower’ and the ‘Jingles’ playlist is prioritized as ‘Average’ in the playlist manager.

Be sure to read the BoomBox Playlist Manager documentation for more detailed understanding of option settings and scenarios.



BB35 Upgrade

Customers on BB35 (BoomBox) have been experiencing higher than usual loads due to a recent addition of the ABC Radio Network to the SoniXFM platform which has introduced SoniXCast Radios to an additional 4 million potential daily listeners.

BB35 is one of the last servers on the legacy hardware platform and is having a hard time keeping up with the additional network traffic which is disturbing smooth operations in Europe and South America.

We are in the process of setting up new hardware and will move BB35 and are adding 4 more AnyCastIP nodes in Europe and South America
over the next 24 hour period in order to handle the higher than usual network traffic.

Customer Impact is expected to be minimal to non-existent as BB35 has long been part of SoniXCast’s portable dynamic IP network, however customers using static IP-Addresses are advised to contact support to request an updated IP or to conform with usage guidelines and begin using the fully qualified hostname (bb35.sonixcast.com).

We apologize for any inconvenience to customers and listeners of the SoniXCast Broadcast Network. Turning up a new broadcast provider the size of the ABC Radio Networks is a complex process in which the full impact is near impossible to predict until listeners start actually tuning in.

It is unfortunate that our wonderful partners in Europe and South America, have been challenged to keep up with the additional loads, however we all are dedicated to addressing such issues with vigor and with an eye on future expansion so that such disturbances remain the exception going forward.

BoomBox v3.3 Released

We are happy to announce the release of BoomBox v3.3!

BoomBox Version 3.3 signifies a significant milestone and is the most comprehensive release to date. Besides a major code rewrite, there have been significant upgrades made to the frontend as well as the popularization sub-system and the relay network.

Brand new Backend

The BoomBox backend (the part customers do not see) has been completely rewritten and upgraded to support a wider variety of 3rd party components. this will allow the development of many more advanced features and immensely enhances application reliability and stability.

Long Live Liquidsoap

Version 3.3 signifies the departure of SoniXCast’s hybrid ShoutCast transcoder and the full implementation of the Liquidsoap transcoder. Currently the implementation simply mirrors previous functionality, but future versions of BoomBox will take advantage of Liquidsoap’s advanced features.

Fully Mobile Ready

The BoomBox frontend (The part customers do see) has been updated to twitter bootstrap 4 and is now fully compatible with any mobile device. Use your phone to view statistics or broadcast live with your tablet. No need to download a special app. BoomBox will run in any browser on any device. Whatever you want to do, BoomBox can do it!

New Popularization Features

Want your station to be found on Amazon, iTunes or iHeart? Well everybody knows sonixfm.com is the platform preferred by all popular aggregation services and BoomBox now supports music ‘moods’ popular on said platforms. Just enter a mood (like ‘tailgate country’ or ‘looney tunes’) into the genre field along with your regular music genre and your station will be among those requested on Roku, Echo Dot or Google Home devices.

Massive Music Library

Never has it been easier or faster to get a new radio up and running. The global music library has grow to over half a million tracks representing entertainment from around the world.

New Relay and Redirect Network

We’ve completely rebuilt the relay and redirect network and have added over 100 worldwide nodes making the reliability and speed at which listeners can find and tunein to your stream faster and better than ever before. And, of course, the new network is backwards compatible so current stations do not have to change any of their tunein or nobex links.

BB38 Update

BB38 has reached minimum thresholds.

The master server image for BB38.sonixcast.com has been moved to a new dedicated hardware primarily to allow for more resources for customers, but also to ensure for adequate resources are available for future customer sign-ups.

BB38 has been running in ‘hot-swap’ (switching between dedicated hardware) mode for the last 72 hours due to high loads and the decision has been made in order to eliminate any possible downtime to upgrade the backing hardware.

BB38 will run redundantly (all images running simultaneously) for the next 24 hours in order to allow adequate time for proper worldwide ip-address replication before taking the old images offline.

Customer Impact

IP-Addresses will change, however these changes will be reflected in our worldwide DNS and AnyCastIP nodes and no customer impact is expected. Customers are however encouraged to double check any file uploads made within the last 72 hours to ensure that they were properly replicated during the upgrade process.

More upgrades in the works

BB34.sonixcast.com and cc.sonixcast.com images are very close to reaching minimum resource allotment and will be similarly upgraded to new hardware over the next days or weeks. In each case an announcement will be made separately.

Upgrade CABHS35

As part of ongoing development we will immediately begin upgrading CABHS35.sonixcast.com to the latest version of BoomBox 3.1. Customers who have services on CABHS35 are encouraged empty their browser cache before using the control panel. In addition an email will be sent to each customer affected informing them of possible pitfalls and temporary workarounds as the ip-address will be changing. The migration will occur on ALL BoomBox servers as an operating system change is required in order to support the Liquidsoap* implementation.

Features Released in BoomBox 3.1:

  • Upgrade to Bootstrap 4.1 with a simpler more mobile and handicap friendly interface.
  • More accurate statistics and statistics collection.
  • More speed through decentralized object loading.
  • CDN enhancement with more than 20 geographic locations.
  • Global Music Library for everyone.
  • First implementation of the Liquidsoap* transcoder (Auto-DJ).
  • Integrated help and examples.

*Liquidsoap Implementation

In this initial release, Liquidsoap merely duplicates the functionality of the previous SoniXCast transcoder and new features will be announced in steps. The purpose is to allow customers time to familiarize themselves with the new system before being exposed to additional features and to allow the development team time to document fully.

Expected Issues and Pitfalls

As with any major server migration, worldwide DNS (host name to ip-address translation) replication can always be an issue. The Liquidsoap* Implementation requires a different operating system than the one we are currently using which means a new server (with a new ip-addresses) must be configured and setup for use. In addition we are migrating to virtual private servers (VPS) and floating ip-addresses in order to have more control over the hardware making for a more robust and distributed system thereby eliminating potential outages.

Customers experiencing issues using the hostname cabhs35.sonixcast.com are encouraged to use the following ip-address <sent via email> in order to broadcast live or in rare cases access the BoomBox control Panel for the next 24 hours only and then must change back to the hostname as the ip-address may change again at anytime for security purposes.

BoomBox 3.1 is a complete rewrite of the 3.0.8 system which was necessary for the Liquidsoap* Implementation and operating system change. Although thoroughly tested, in rare cases there might be bugs and users are encouraged to contact support@sonixcast.com immediately with any problems they observe.

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.