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The End is Nigh.


Well, at least it is for big tech firms who continue to treat their users as though we don't count!

It's been a very busy few months at Revolution Radio.Online. First we had to merge the two old CFR Rock & CFRXtra channels due to the Reverend's house (and thereby server farm) move, then our radio host at the time, L2MR (Listen 2 My Radio)- who had always been a pain to work with - became increasingly unreliable, petty and over priced. So we moved shop to a new broadcast partner, who are, thankfully, in a different Universe from L2MR both in terms of reliability and customer service (stand up and take a bow SHOUTCA.st).

However, the move to SHOUTCA.st also brought with it some new opportunities from a tech and listener reach point of view. And so, with a new merged operation, new broadcast partner and better tech solutions, we decided to change the station name and branding. And all was good, and we were going to go into a period of consolidation and of settling everything down.

Until the continued awfulness of a Microsoft regime intent on implementing the worst kind of anti-competitive and badly coded updates since it was fined for doing the same in the mid 90s, started to cause real issues for us as independent broadcasters. Weekly, and often daily updates (and in one case, 3 updates in one day, cos the other two had been so badly rolled out), were causing support issues, driver issues (mostly sound, which is not a small problem when you're trying to do a show ffs), reliability issues and, more importantly, stream issues. It was becoming a full time job keeping everything up and running!

The final straw came with the 2 weeks of hell in August, where MS released bug ridden update after update. Even the so-called fix update was a pile of poo. And so finally my poor show laptop from Studio B died a death, and no matter what I did, Windows would simply NOT repair itself or reinstall.

The thing that truly angers me is that the updates are being implemented to do two things.

  1. Gather information about you and your activity so they can target you with ads and also sell on that information to partners so they can target you with ads as well.

  2. To make sure all their applets (Groove, Edge, YourPhone etc) have advantage internally within Windows over any competitive product.

I'm not just singling Microsoft out in this. Apple and Google are just as bad. Facebook try to ignore the open internet standards on links etc and block you from linking directly (and thereby with search points) to your website and so on. The aforementioned L2MR were just like, blah, we don't care what you do cos you can't pay us mega bucks (and their tech is stuck in the 80s!). Basically, big tech is entrenched in a beat the other guy/gal with such aggression, none of them care about the user casualties along the way. US companies also have protection from their President, and in Europe, they know too much is going on for them to take notice of the dirty tricks going on.

Anyway, there I was, with an aged but still fabulous laptop- the HP 625- not working, a show to do, and a station to run, but no way to get Windows to work (especially as MS tie it to a specific machine now so you can't just uninstall and install on a different computer. You didn't know that? Now you do!). Until I remembered that two of our DJs had suggested Ubuntu as an alternative operating system. Ubuntu is free, open source Linux based OS and full of free apps and applets, but I had always shied away from installing it because of support concerns I had for implementation across the station.

Now, I had no choice, but also am opportunity to try it out. So I bit the bullet, downloaded the OS image, burnt it onto a memory stick and rebooted the laptop.

Oh man, the first thing I thought after an install that took minutes rather than hours (and in fact was simple to do), was why had I waited so long. First off, the graphical user interface is lovely, simple, elegant and a joy to use. I also quickly realised it was very similar to MiNT on my old Atari Falcon so I was soon whizzing around like I had been using it for years. Ubuntu also has native versions of Mixxx and other key packages, and you can even run most Windows applications using WINE (though with fabulous native alternatives (e.g. LibreOffice, a free alternative to MS Office that has everything Office has for a fraction of your computer resources) why would you want to use Windows apps??).

Best of all however was the speed of everything, and the fact that Ubuntu does TWO major updates a year. That's it. They test everything thoroughly on thousands of different computer configurations before doing an update. What a concept! I don't know why Microsoft and Apple haven't caught on yet!

So for our recent Revolution Radio.Online launch meeting and drinkies with listeners after, I ran everything from my 10 year old laptop, including the music for the night, on Ubuntu.

Next week I am installing Ubuntu on my show desktop in Studio A. I have already tested it in a Virtual Install (that Ubuntu do on any install disk/memory stick you create) on that computer and it ran like a dream. I will then do all my shows for 4 weeks on there (and run autoplay for a few days), and if there is no issue, next month we will install it on all our servers, and make it our primary choice for DJ computers (as and when they need to upgrade/repair their show computers).

Just think. No more W10 updates hijacking the computer during a live show (even if you "Pause Updates for 7 days" Windows continues to change things on your computer once an update is ready), no more sound card hijacking, no more constant problem solving or scheduling weekly checks on massive updates that don't actually help YOU as the user. Just get in, turn it on, do the show, plan for the 2 updates a year, and get back to just having fun.

That's the plan anyway. I'll let you know once all our testing is complete. But yeah, RRO is, it would seem, always going to be on the move :)


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