Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now


Small Unplanned Changes Can Have Big Ramifications

Here's what happened when my client’s streaming automation stopped working

Many of us have clients who rely on our skills. We’re called as needed, sometimes for major issues, sometimes minor; but these calls never seem to come at an opportune time and often are accompanied by panic. 

One of my clients is a school that operates a streaming station; they are blessed with good equipment. But one day I get the call: They cannot play anything and the station is broken. 

Alright, I can diagnose nothing from that description, so I interrogate and learn that the problem seems to be with their automation; I need to come in.  

On site I inspect the PC and ask what has changed recently. At first I’m told “Nothing.” But then I notice that this is a new PC and that its software hasn’t been installed or configured. 

I speak to the IT manager and explain that we need the data from the old PC; its drive contains the automation system program and the music library and interstitials. Yes, without that drive they certainly are DOA. Also, we’ll need the audio cards from the old PC. We don’t want to run the station off the motherboard’s sound card!

The IT manager moves the drive and cards to the new PC; but our work does not stop there. This new machine has a different operating system, so I call the automation company’s support line (keep that number in your phone) and ask for help setting it up. Never be ashamed to ask for help, especially when support was built into the price my client paid for that hardware.

The new PC is Windows 11, and the school’s IT department has mandated that Windows 10 should not be on the network. I ask the automation company if our current software will work on Windows 11. The answer is NO! Argh!!

But there’s hope; a new version will be released within days and will support it. My client says they’re happy to wait. (It seems their system had been down a month before they even called me.)

Within two days the version is released. I will be doing the first install. I don’t like being first; nevertheless we start. I download the necessary files while the support technician works via TeamViewer. 

Since we are the first to install this version, the supplier is being cautious. Their development team sends various files; they’re taking notes, and I sense more than one person on their end of the phone call.

The first issue (not the fault of the automation system) is that Windows Updates start getting loaded into the system. Yes, we stop that. Always make sure the IT manager knows that it needs to be stopped. Nobody needs your operating system to change in the middle of the install!

Next we find that the Windows firewall service keeps turning on even though it is not on the domain. Again, the IT manager has to shut it down. Ah, that is finally resolved. 

But the system still is not working right. What now? We find that the security permissions also had changed with the updates. This gets resolved by going to the properties of the program folders and granting the users full access.

That was three hours of our life that we will not get back.

Finally the system is up but the stream is not receiving data. After a quick investigation, I discover that the firewall on the encoder is not letting the port through. 

We make the exception and all is good. The system is running: cuts are playing, data is changing and boy am I hungry!

Engineers, be patient with your client. They might think they are being helpful or trying to save money by not calling you.  

Managers, what lessons does this experience offer? Small changes to anything can have ramifications.

Your engineer, IT manager and product support are all on the same team. That team wants your station running with no issues. Always speak to your engineer if something is going to be done with the equipment, such as replacing the automation computer.

And last, if it is a big project, bring the engineer something to eat.

[Sign Up for Radio World’s SmartBrief Newsletter]