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Scott's Column
My Cable Modem is Alive and building an online radio station

February 1, 2000
By Scott Lewis

Finally, on January 3, 2000 my cable modem was working the way it was supposed to. If you have been following this tale over the last couple of months (check the archive for this column), you are aware that my cable modem has been in a state of flux.

A quick recap is in order. I noticed a few error messages on my computer on Thanksgiving (Nov. 25, 1999) and my cable modem would not work. I called it in the next day, and it took until the following Tuesday night to get anyone to my house.

For the entire month of December the modem would download at varying speeds, but could only upload 3 or 4 days of the month. They completely rewired my house, and eventually worked a lot on my "node." I know this because I saw a couple of trucks at the node (it is literally around the block from my house) and saw up to three trucks going door-to-door to people’s houses. I assume this was to get access to the cables that mostly run on "telephone" poles that are in people’s backyards in my neighborhood.

After many calls, and many visits to my house, I finally got a call to test my upload speed on Jan 3. It worked. I tested it over night by upload about 700 MB to a friend on the same service. This would eliminate the Internet in my test. The upload was successful. I did a similar test the next night. Bingo!

This was the first time I was able to upload two days in a row. Hopefully this will be the end of my troubles. I know the picture quality I am getting is now better than it has ever been since living in this house. I hope my neighbors are grateful for the picture quality improvements they got as the cable company repaired "leaks" in the cable system in my neighborhood.

Except for a minor problem one day, everything has been excellent. A friend of mine got a cable modem in Houston, and was able to download from me (essentially my uploading to him) for a few days straight, all at reasonable speeds.

So the moral is... cable modems are still new technology for many cable companies. But they are worth it. I highly recommend you get a cable modem or xDSL connection if either is available to you. Unfortunately, which one is available will almost always dictate which one you will get. Just get one ASAP.

Y2K

I was going to leave this alone, but couldn’t help myself. At least I linked to my pre-Y2K article as part of my post-Y2K analysis. I won’t bore you here. Just read this month’s Feature Article for the details.

Radio Station

Now that my cable modem is working properly, I have spent some more time playing with the idea of running a Shoutcast radio station. Over the next month or two I will build a web site around it. Unfortunately, I can only support up to about 10-12 listeners at a time.

I tried broadcasting to Live365.com, but that has not been reliable. In fact my connection to the server dies after only a few minutes maximum. This is disappointing to me. I wouldn’t think it should be hard to maintain one solid 24Kbps connection to a server. I have been able to maintain over 20KBps over hours to other individuals. Perhaps this is a problem with Live365. I don’t know.

Live365 allows you to broadcast to them, and your listeners, in turn, tune into Live365 to hear your broadcast. The benefit is that you can reach up to 365 simultaneous listeners with one connection to Live365. The downside is that you cannot keep track of how many listeners you have, if any, without constantly checking Live365’s web site.

For me there is another downside. I cannot listen to my broadcasts at work. My employer maintains a firewall that blocks almost all ports coming from the Internet. I use port 8080 when doing my own broadcasting. This is the default port Real Audio uses, and is an open port on my company’s firewall. So I can listen to my music at work.

If I can get Live365 to work, I will run two instances of WinAmp. One instance would broadcast to Live365. The other would broadcast on port 8080, but I would remove the public listing option so only I know it is there.

If any of you have experience with Live365, and have gotten a steady connection, please let me know. I would like to have more than 8 listeners at a time (I limit to eight to be sure that my bandwidth doesn’t get overtaxed).

86 out of 100

Speaking of music. VH1 recently aired their 100 Greatest Songs of Rock n’ Roll. I decided to build a play list to match it. It turned out I had 86 of the 100 songs in my music library.

Cool!

Until next time...

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