What I did on my holidays

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Joined: 27 May 2012 11:43

What I did on my holidays

Post by Jhary » 28 May 2012 14:37

What I did on my holidays
featuring: The great Wizzard Adger
by Jhary

The story began a while back (09/2011) when the great Wizzard Adger detected and tried a newly detected software and convinced me it would be a good idea to give it a try - and a bargain too, as the license were on offer at that moment in time. Well, so I got me my "basic"(1) license for low-traffic non-commercial use and installed it.

Well, I say "installed"... actually I *tried* to install it. Three or four tries later I dropped the matter and returned to my old software, with hanging head and placed ProppFrexx on my personal "extremely low priority list".

Forward eight months(2). I managed to completely trash two of my three hard drives and all I got from them were some tiny black smoke clouds(3). Time for a fresh Windows-install, I guess. Tabula Rasa. And suddenly the great Wizzard is back and suggests we install ProppFrexx, this personal nemesis, and we do it together. Well, on my clean system I did not have any streaming software, so what could I lose?(4)

So I downloaded the latest version of the software, unpacked it in my near-virgin download-folder, and (after quickly installing Acrobat Reader, damn) skimmed through the "QuickInstallGuide". Well, just why did I fail last time? Looks all pretty straight-forward... well, the date for meeting the great Wizzard was set, so I did not install it there and then but rode the red dragon of the western winds(5) and gathered my troops, i.e. the great Wizzard Adger.

Coffee was on the table, I showed the "QuickInstallGuide" to Adger, and stated: "Looks pretty much straight-forward, locate setup.exe and double click it..." After all, there is nothing else in this "document" but directory structures after this (license, yeah, and how important it is to decide the right installation path, sure)

The great Wizzard at my side laughs nastily(4).

So I set the software up, and yes, it is a quick and clean install. I click "Start", I click "All Programs", click "radio42", cl... Wait... WHAT? 7 Icons grin at me, all shining in the pretty Windows-Yellow of freshly installed new software, and I hesitate. For the first, but not for the last time. Down goes the start menu, and *click* do I start from the desktop icon (right after I found my desktop, which is usually hidden behind 5 to 25 open windows)(6), and I think to myself: Now we're cooking(4). Now I can stream!

First problem I encounter was self-made(7): Between registration and this all-new installation I switched my CPU (and the OS, and my RAM, and of course my hard drives) and the IDs didn't match. Luckily we could set up the software in "demo mode" and I received the new registration less then 20 hours after reporting my problem. And now I can stream!

Wait... What? Instead of some user interface, I see a tiny window asking me about some strange abbreviations. It was all Greek to me. I glanced back to the QuickInstallGuide - no help there, either. Luckily, I have the great Wizzard with me. He gives me a quick rundown of what "Play", "Out", "Mon" and "PFL(8)" mean and inserts some values (which later show to have been quite sensible). OK, we did it, now I can stream!

A large, large window opens with... not much in it. A mixing desk. Err... what? (but hey, I recognize the names/abbreviations we just set values for! Yay!) But nothing to put a sound file at, nothing to connect a streaming server or shoutcast or whatever else station with... I stare at the great Wizzard Adger, longing for an explanation.

He takes my mouse from me, moves the main window to my secondary monitor(9) (where I want it), the the mixing desk and all else out of the main window (err... what?) and mumbles something along the lines "Now we set it up..." In vain I point at the QuickInstallGuide, explaining that we already did set it up... The great Wizzard laughs nastily.

He opens a window "Setting and Options" and works down the list of 14 Categories listed there, always asking, often explaining, often muttering to himself(8), and at category 3 or 4 latest I am totally lost. Every second or third category window I hear a word we had before, and I interrupt the great Wizzard: "Wait! Didn't we set 'Gain' just now?" The great Wizzard laughs nastily(11) and continues.

There is not much that stuck to my memory from the run through the "Settings" which still feels like it went on for a day and a half (probably about 100, 120 minutes continuous explanation) but the warning about some "Reset" fields "which mean what the tiny writing in front of the buttons says!" and several "we don't do this today, ask me when you're used to the software!", but finally... FINALLY the great Wizzard closes the window and says "Okay." Yay - now I can stream!

No... wait... where from? Where to? I stare at the great Wizzard. He - you guessed it - laughs nastily.
But at least (and at last, too) he opens a "new playlist", which is - as I learned - not abbreviated "PL", but "PFP" (Yeah, 4)), we drag in a folder of mp3s (yay, drag-and-drop works as expected (4)) and for the first time after what felt like an eternity I can actually HEAR something from my streaming software.


Then we try to set up my system and ProppFrexx with USB-Microphone (one), speakers (one pair) and headphones (one) to work the way the great Wizzard... err... I mean... *I* thought sensible. And we stumbled upon a problem with my hardware setup: With just one soundcard (and a onboad-low-quality one as well) Windows is unable to play enough channels (I lost track if these were "radio channels", "software channels", "sound channels" or "hardware channels", it was explained to me and seemed to have made sense... at the time) so suddenly we were... without sound. Yes, it took the great Wizzard a while to explain this problem to me, and we actually managed to work around it(12) and I had music again.

Whew, I was about done by now. But now I can stream!
Wait... I glare at the great Wizzard Adger. Where to? He clicked one of the windows he moved aside a while ago and changes the info in there (and once again I have NO idea how anyone could have ANY chance to run ProppFrexx on a 1024x768 display...) and we set up a server I have access to. Finally a window where I recognize at least some of the values... but it works instantly(4).

And now I can stream! Err... can I?

We conclude the day and I drag the great Wizzard Adger to our favorite watering hole for a couple of beer - we earned it, after about 5 hours of Installation.

Next morning(13) I decided to fine-tune the settings, try out the Mic-Settings and stuff. It took me about a minute to get from 0 to "full problem", and I learned each "Network Streaming Server" actually has to set the right "Device"(14) and you can actually go wrong and have it send the "Mon" device... well, I found the problem, I solved it (even w/o consulting the great Wizzard!) and even managed (with some trial and error) to balance my Mic. And now I can stream.... I hope.

As it was Pentecost ("Pfingsten" in Germany) that day, the afternoon was spend with the family, and in the evening I returned to my streaming software, doing a two hour playlist for that very evening. The warning words of the great Wizzard echo though my mind ("You'll get mad...") and his hints as well ("Turn off automatic loading and unloading...") and I am surprised my playlist actually gets loaded and sorted easily. Now that was easy!(4)

The evening comes, and I trust the trick the great Wizzard had shown my about automatic grabbing a shoutcast-stream (and DIDN't remember I changed the script-call) and completely failed to pick up the stream in time... oh, well. People know I just try new software and people like a laugh (at my cost) anyways.

All runs well, minus a few problems. I need to get used to the Microphone-Toggle (instead the press-while-talking), my keyboard F2-key is WAY too loud for my listeners' good, when mouse-clicking the "toggle talkover" keep in mind the Mic picks up AFTER you release the button, not when it's pressed... I am busy, but not desperate, and some of the features I instantly like.

And then - a music request! I insert the song at a matching point, and see - no problem at all! I wipe the sweat from my brow, all's gone well, great, I *like* this software!(4)

When trying to pull up a song as next (or 2nd-to-next) song, I ran into trouble, even when I remembered to unload a player first - and even when I remembered to toggle the song which was in the player back to "not played". Yes, I was sweating, and I was swearing that night, but somehow I managed it through my set (and nearly all the songs were in the order I wanted them to be ;-))

This was what I did on my holidays.
And now... I can stream.

A few things to add:
a) "click on the setup.exe" is NOT an installation guide.
b) some people who use this software actually do NOT work as a radio technician (and don't intend to)
c) if I didn't have bought this software I don't think I'd installed it. Even with Adger's help.
d) "The great Wizzard" is borrowed from Terry Pratchett, most notably in "Interesting Times" (which I hereby commend)
e) it were quite a few beer after the installation, and they were needed.
f) Believe it or not - the happenings HAVE been shortened. I could have written even more
g) Yes, I will use ProppFrexx. The software is good. And it can get even better.
h) I still see NO way to run ProppFrexx on a 1024x768 display.

And just so you know I am not as dumb as you guess by now:
I am 41 years old, studied computer sciences (even though I didn't do my degree), was trained as a software developer (and did my degree there ;-)), was a database admin and developer for years (we are talking ORACLE here, not mySQL) and gathered a few titles, as there are MCP, MCTS, MCSA, MCSE (and a few more).
I still develop software, still work with databases, still know scripting- and programming languages, and know the difference between scripting and software development. Internet radio I do as a hobby, mostly from within "Second Life", and yes, I am a Pratchett-Fan (as some might have guessed).

Oh, and usually my postings are way shorter.

##### Footnotes #####
(1) I can't detect hints on different licenses on the website any more... is this policy dis-continue?
(2) Yes, I know, a cheap trick, but I guess no-one here REALLY wants to know what kept me busy all this time
(3) When your hardware shortcuts the communication to smoke signals, you know you can now nick yourself "General Custer"
(4) Little did I know...
(5) nicknamed "Renault"
(6) directly thereafter I created a shortcut to the main program and nailed it to the top of my Start-Menue.
(7) I am good at self-made!
(8) "We'll get to that later!"
(9) This is "computer monitor", not "radio monitor", by the way
(10) Hey! There is no link to this footnote! What are you doing - CHEATING?
(11) He does that quite a lot, I noticed that day.
(12) If you really need to know: We send the "Out" signal now to an unassigned, unused SPDIF channel.
(13) With a bad hangover... somehow I lost track of my beer consumption the night before...
(14) This is a logical device, not a hardware device... I think

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