Archive for March 19th, 2007

Radio Review: FM 104.7

Oh this will be fun…a review of a station with a playlist filled with music which doesn’t come close to my tastes.

This review is of FM 104.7 from 2pm-3pm on the 27th of February.

  • 2:00pm: No surprises…it’s a song I don’t recognise and seems to contain a fair bit of yelling.
  • 2:02pm: Announcer informs me that we are having an “ad free 50” and that a song from the television show “Ugly Betty” will be on soon…then he takes a call about a desperate and dateless ball which the station is promoting, possibly even running…the background music doesn’t help me understand the caller who is on a poor quality phone line. Three bands participating in the night are named and I only recognise one of them.
  • 2:03pm: Hmmm, this station is voicetracked (more or less automated) as the call ends just as the vocal section of the song starts…song is passable, much better than the tripe on 666 ABC Canberra, but I wouldn’t have a clue who is singing it.
  • 2:06pm: Promo for breakfast show and ad free 50 (9 seconds)
  • 2:06pm: That tune sounds familiar, “Let Me Entertain You”, the chorus is the highlight of the song as the rest isn’t very melodic. It’s the best song so far though.
  • 2:10pm: Promo for Skyfire (13 seconds), overlaps the vocals of the next song, somebody isn’t paying attention to their automation.
  • 2:11pm: I’m not entirely sure that the music in this song has any relation to the lyrcis, or that the singers are capable of singing…something about closing (devine references) doors…I think.
  • 2:13pm: And there I was thinking an ad free 50 would be fifty songs without ads…instead it’s just fifty minutes according to this promo. (5 seconds)
  • 2:14pm: I’ll take a guess at the title of this song being “slave on a minimum wage”…it’s a strangely catchy repetitive techno piece…there is definitely no singing involved in this song.
  • 2:16pm: A competition to give away tickets to Skyfire.
  • 2:18pm: At long long last we have a song introduction…couldn’t quite catch the name of the band, but the title was “How to save a life”. This band were either drunk or under the influence of some other substance during recording as I fail to see how anyone could slur that many words in such a short amount of time…the transcript would be amusing “aartosayaliff…”.
  • 2:21pm: Another ad free 50 promo (9 seconds).
  • 2:22pm: This song sounds familiar, not that I can work out most of the lyrics, does anybody even listen to lyrics any more? If so, why do so many bands make it so difficult? I have absolutely no idea what the song is, and I have no idea why I recognise the music…random collection of noise as far as I’m concerned.
  • 2:25pm: Station ID (4 seconds).
  • 2:25pm: This is WIN Television’s favourite song…Pink’s Stupid Girls. WIN have a bunch of time fillers called “WIN Presents” which are basically mini-documentaries about songs, unfortunately I have spotted that particular episode at least four time in the last few weeks between WIN News late Edition and the start of Quizmania.
  • 2:28pm: This station loves the promos…ad free 50 promo (9 seconds).
  • 2:28pm: Song with poorly forced fake accent…the lyrics would be understandable if they weren’t drowned out by the music.
  • 2:32pm: Back to the Skyfire competition, caller doesn’t win the tickets to Skyfire, but does get a pass to Questacon…they must have been desperate for sponsors. Also going in to the draw for a whole heap of things including a twelve month pass to the currently “closed indefinitely due to storm damage” Dendy Cinema.
  • 2:35pm: This song is by “The Sugarbabes”, if you can call it a song.
  • 2:38pm: Station ID (3 Seconds)
  • 2:38pm: I think this song is supposed to be by “Evermore”. It amazes me how many songs so far have contained references to body parts and various things which can be done with them, most of which are commonly promoted in spam emails.
  • 2:42pm: Promo for Skyfire (13 Seconds)
  • 2:42pm: Ad break: Very long Skyfire promo, Canberra Comprehensive Car Care Centre, Club Lime, Telstra Shop, Planet Max, Flight Centre, Broadcast Services Australia, Lenocks Volkswagen, Matisse Hair and Beauty, Tralee Housing Dvelopment, and a strange promo for FM 104.7 SMS…doesn’t tell me why I should send them a text message though. (5:50)
  • 2:47pm: Another song, more of those references…rap, I think I’ll pass.
  • 2:52pm: Song ends, announcer says goodbye and starts a song by a group with an explicit name (references again), the music is stolen from something else but I can’t work out what.
  • 2:54pm: Ad break: Promo for 104.7 webstream, ANZ Frequent Flyer Visa Card, ACTSport’s Clubsport winners (or something like that), SOHO Designs, Night and Day Locksmiths, Murrays Coaches, Gen Tech Automotive, House of Heroes, The Funny Shop. (4:12)
  • 2:59pm: Intro for “Nige’s radio Show” followed by “Nige” previewing the show.

And that’s where the hour finishes…no news in that hour, that’s a worry.

Statistics
Advertising: 10 minutes and 57 seconds
News: None!

Summary
News: None in the hour, it might have been run before 2pm and after 3pm but I wouldn’t know, and I find the lack of news disturbing. There wasn’t even anything to suggest that the station might have a news bulletin, there wasn’t even a mention of the temperature!
Empty StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty Star (0)

Talk: There wasn’t much, but the talk that was there sounded good, nowhere near as rushed as it did on Mix 106.3, although it was obvious to anybody who takes notice of these things that the hour was voicetracked. The presenter was friendly and got along with the two callers quite well…not so sure that he knew much about the music though as he barely mentioned it.
Full StarFull StarFull StarHalf StarEmpty Star (3.5)

Music: Not even close to my tastes, I don’t think there was a song in there that I would listen to if I had the choice, but I’m sure it was of interest to the majority of the target demographic (I’m part of it but you wouldn’t know it). I’m also concerned about the amount of references to various body parts and things you can do with them. I’ll give them one star for effort, and another for doing better than 666 ABC Canberra.
Full StarFull StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty Star (2)

Overall: Whilst I didn’t really enjoy any of the music, I wouldn’t run away screaming…for most of the hour it was a pleasing noise which surprised me. The ad free 50 idea is interesting, but I have to wonder if it comes at the expense of the news. I wouldn’t voluntarily listen to this station if given the choice after what I heard here, but it’s not too bad.
Full StarFull StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty Star (2)

Samuel

6 comments March 19th, 2007 at 12:19pm

Sidebar Shenanigans

Last week I mentioned that Internet Explorer 6 was not rendering this website correctly. This is not an uncommon problem with WordPress blogs, but is by no means confined to them, they are just more likely to have the problem as they generally employ a column style layout with a sidebar.

Unfortunately Internet Explorer 6 (and previous versions) doesn’t handle overlapping columns, so whenever things in the main column stretch over in to the sidebar, Internet Explorer 6 decides that it doesn’t like things overlapping, and moves the sidebar to the same spot horizontally, just below the main content column. This happened last week (and for part of the week before) when I wrote an article with a very long title. That length of title isn’t a problem, but when it is all one word it is.

There is no solution to this problem as IE6 is a standards-ignorant browser, but there are workarounds, one is that I could ensure that nothing overlaps, and that’s not going to happen and wouldn’t help with other sites anyway, the other is that you don’t use Internet Explorer 6 and earlier…IE7, Firefox, Opera and Safari don’t have the problem, and are all better from a security standpoint than IE6 anyway.

Samuel

March 19th, 2007 at 10:39am

Today is Canberra Day

Today is Canberra Day, a public holiday in Canberra to celebrate the naming of Canberra on March 12, 1913, by Lady Denman, wife of then Governor-General Lord Denman.

I, however, am working today, and happily doing so. Canberra Day is of little significance to me these days as it isn’t even remotely close to the actual anniversary of the naming of Canberra (the ACT Government are moving it to the second Monday of March next year, but that’s still not good enough, it should be March 12 every year), and the Balloon Fiesta doesn’t coincide with it any more. I remember when the Balloon Fiesta was a nine-day event which wrapped up on Canberra Day. In recent years it has been moved to April, and now to add insult to injury, Chief Turnip Stanhope has shortened it to a four day event in a vain attempt to plug his budgetary disaster.

You would think that Canberra Day, being the official celebration of the birthday of Canberra would actually contain a celebration…but Skyfire (fireworks for those of you outside Canberra) was held nine days ago, the Balloon Fiesta has moved to April, the multicultural festival takes place during summer (I could be certain that it used to happen in March before the Stanhope government), and we don’t even have a re-enactment of the naming ceremony (could be a tad hard with Parliament House sitting there these days…but why not have it outside the Legislative Assembly).

As far as I’m concerned, Canberra Day is just another generic, pointless, public holiday, much like the Queen’s Birthday in June (she was born in April). I’m more than happy to work today as the day is now completely meaningless as a public holiday.

Apart from which, public holidays like this are strange…why would I want the day off today when nothing useful is open, when I can hang on to the day off for a day when I might actually have a chance of getting something done?

Perhaps somebody was right when they said I was born to be a nutty old man…I just think I’m being logical.

Samuel

18 comments March 19th, 2007 at 07:57am

Samuel’s Blog Is Moving

But only server, not address.

It’s been nearly a year and seven months since this blog moved to paid hosting with Bluehost, but the time has come for me to move hosting company, to the Australian (and seemingly a lot more reliable) AussieHQ.

The move will take place this week, but unlike the move from free to paid hosting, the address will not change, whilst this is a good thing as it won’t break links and email addresses etc, it will cause some semi-downtime while the server change propagates around the DNS system. This will mean that some people will see the new server long before others do, and unfortunately Bigpond users will probably be among the last to make the move as Telstra are notoriously slow at updating DNS.

If you understood the last paragraph, skip this one…the DNS system is what holds the Internet together, it converts domain names like samuelgordonstewart.com to IP addresses like 69.89.18.35, which in turn allows your computer to find websites. Generally your computer will find out IP addresses from a DNS server run by your ISP, and due to the sheer number of DNS servers out there it takes a matter of hours for them all to be updated. Some, like the ones at Telstra, are setup to take longer than others.

This move is the reason there is no weekly poll this week, as the poll relies on the database on the server running this website, and it would be pointless to have two servers running the same poll and receiving votes from a different set of people. Other disruptions this week will occur in comments, once I initiate the transfer comments on the old server will be disabled as I really don’t feel like copying a whole heap of comments between servers. Email shouldn’t be affected as I forward email to Gmail anyway, and will set up those forwarders on the new server ASAP. From a viewing perspective, there should be minimal disruption on this website as I will schedule things to appear on both the new and old servers prior to the migration.

So why am I moving the website? Well I have a few reasons…

Firstly, whilst Bluehost have generally been good, their reliability has diminished over the last few months. I have noticed an increase in the number of times the webserver has not bothered to respond, and the FTP server is getting slower and now seems to be randomly freezing. It’s been a while since this site has gone down completely, but when it does, it does it in style. Bluehost don’t handle this downtime very well either, trying to get information from them about outages is incredibly difficult, they usually claim there is no outage and never bother to inform anyone of scheduled maintenance.

Last time there was a major outage it was due to scheduled maintenance (no attempt was made to notify customers) where they were moving between data centres, or something to that effect. They botched it, and were offline for hours. I’m also not at all convinced that their promised backup generators exist…when the power went out on a separate occasion, so did they, on multiple occasions…they supposedly had enough power for the servers but not the air conditioning, so they didn’t run the servers for fear of over heating. I would probably have done the same thing, but I have to wonder why they only had enough generators for the servers.

Secondly, Bluehost are in the US, the vast majority of the readers of this website are in Australia. The time it takes to transfer data to and from the US might not be particularly long, but for the vast majority of readers, connecting to a Canberra based server would be much faster. I also have reason the believe that AussieHQ’s servers are much more responsive than Bluehost’s, so any extra data transfer time for anybody overseas should be more or less offset by a better performing server.

It is my personal opinion that Bluehost is an example of what’s wrong with the massive super-cheap US hosting industry. When I joined Bluehost they were still relatively small, had a good offer, and kept their promises. The problem as they have grown is that to remain competitive they have to keep their prices low and increase the service offered…economically speaking, it doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t provide them with the room to improve their services or upgrade their servers in a logical manner, instead they are forced to put as many people on the same server as they possibly can.

It’s not their fault, it is the US hosting industry in general which seems to be suffering, but none of them want to publicly admit to it…instead they all (Bluehost in particular) make a lot of noise about how they are optimising this that and everything else in in the Linux kernel and other parts of the server to make the servers run better, but you can only push a server so hard before it starts to have issues. Apparently the server this website is hosted on is one of the more reliable servers…and that’s a worry as it isn’t exactly running brilliantly.

There may be a few minor glitches in the changeover, especially if you happen to be one of the lucky people who use a DNS server which gets the new IP address in first hour or so of the new server being in operation. During the first couple of hours there may be a bit of downtime while I make sure things are working as they should, and finish off uploading everything.

To ease the transfer, the notification area at the top of each page will indicate whether you are looking at the new or old server. I will also schedule a bunch of articles to appear on both servers simultaneously so that the site doesn’t come to a complete halt.

With any luck, the migration will be pain-free, and you will all be looking at the new server not long after it is up and running.

At this stage I haven’t decided whether to start the migration tomorrow or on Wednesday, although I am leaning towards tomorrow.

If you’ve got any questions about this, now is probably a good time to ask them!

Samuel

14 comments March 19th, 2007 at 06:00am


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