Radiogurl a la Carte

Wednesday, Jul. 28, 2004
Software_101

It's past 1am and I should be sleeping, but I did accomplish quite a bit today and expect a reasonably easy day tomorrow at work. Reason? I'll be loading Windows on one machine and putting together a list of stuff for Boss to buy so I can build us a Linux computer. I have been checking out this system and am at least going to give it a shot. It's Open Source, no cost, and cannot possibly be any worse than the pitiful excuse for an automation program we're currently using. Even if we have problems with it, at least we won't be paying a healthy monthly stipend for so-called 'support' that does absolutely nothing except to tell us to do what we've already done four or five times, then tries to tell us it is a problem with our hardware. (If so, I've discovered that they have a whole lot of people who use their system who have the same hardware problems.)

The aforementioned program I intend to try is A) Linux and B) Open Source, that means it doesn't cost us anything for the software and we have to right to alter the code to fix anything that doesn't work like it should or like we need. That's the definition of Open Source. The idea being that because no one is out to make money from it, the people who work on the programming are people who are techno-geeks and/or all about getting the job done right. Which means more often than not, Open Source beta (test-mode) software is more stable than a lot of paid distributions. There are some Open Source applications that are paid, but even paid, the distributors are required by their license to made the source code available to anyone who wants it.

There are actually several Open Source programs out there that do the job of ridiculously costly paid ones. There is Open Office, which performs most of the functions you'd have to pay Microsoft $300 or more to get. There's The Gimp, which is actually a powerful graphics program you can download for free, as opposed to paying $700 or so for Adobe Photoshop. SourceForge is a repository for several programs and scripts that you can obtain for free. While they welcome donations, you don't have to pay a penny if you choose not to do so. Only criteria is if you change something in the program and it works, you have to make the change code available to anyone who wants it.

At this point, I'm primarily concerned with finding a program that's stable - meaning I don't get phone calls three or four times a night because the computer at work froze up, rebooted at random, can't find the next day's programming, is playing programming a couple of hours off, is giving a random error that no one's ever seen before, can't find ANY files, or is replaying the same audio file every other song - all of which have happened many, many times.

The bells and whistles I can work around. I mean if I have to I can build a day's programming and play it back on Winamp, for crying out loud, and it would be vastly more stable than what we have. But Winamp doesn't report back to our traffic (scheduling) program that in turn drives our billing and our reports to ASCAP and the other music licensing authorities. It also would require that we manually figure out the hours of programming and insert our Legal ID and commercials at the correct time, etc. And it would take a heck of a long time to build a full day's programming, reconcile what did and didn't play, handle billing, and so on.

I pointed out to Boss that I am less than impressed with the excruciatingly expensive system he's been considering. I worry that it won't be any better than what we now have, and we'll be out tens of thousands of dollars and still dealing with the same problems. It didn't encourage me that their 'demo' CD is nothing but a bunch of screen shots, a sales video, and a link to their web site.

Thank God at least when it comes to computers, Boss listens and defers to me. I don't make arbitrary decisions and he knows that. I check for functionality and check with other people whose judgment I trust, and in general try to make responsible choices that will be the most secure and practical option from a business standpoint.

There's also the fact that he knows if he buys another piece of junk software, I'll walk away immediately and he'll be paying $30,000 plus a useless monthly support fee for a program he has no clue how to use.

Absolute power is admittedly attractive, but in this case the pay isn't commensurate.

And there's another layer to this - if the Linux programming works, I will probably install it at another station here in town. But for them, I will be charging by the hour, and I won't be a cheap tech. I might get that car yet!

Before - After

In the grander scheme of things, no soul can truly be replaced. Each one of us has a place in the universal tapestry. We each contribute our own color and texture. When one thread is snipped too soon, it distorts all the threads around it. Other lives can unravel and tear. If the wrong thread is ripped away, the whole fabric of life becomes dangerously fragile.
- LeiLani, aka Radiogurl aka Bright Opal (1957 - )