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And the work continues

June 22, 2008 04:41

I've finally gotten a few days to work on the site, so I'm going to take it. Work continues apace getting everything functional on the site again after the crash. Almost everything obvious works now, but there are a few little bugs that have yet to get resolved.

I've started the process of reprogramming most of the backend servers to support a load balanced server cluster operation. Once I've completed this rather tedious project, the site will be load balanced on two separate servers, in two separate datacenters. Most importantly, they'll both be failovers for each other. If either one dies, crashes, etc, the other one can take over all operations. It will also scale well, so should I suddenly feel the need to add 4 more servers to the cluster, they'll handle the load properly, and if I get things working right, I should be able to deploy a new server in an hour or so. I really doubt I'll have to do this, at least not in the near future, but if the site traffic suddenly picks up again, and I have reason to believe it might, it'll be important that these changes are in place prior to such an event happening, as I'm usually too busy dealing with other issues at the time to bother trying to figure out how to sanely balance this very dynamic and heavily database dependant site over multiple servers redundantly. Yeah, try to say that in one breath.

Now I'm going to put you to work for me, if you feel you're up to the challenge. If you don't understand the technobabble I'm about to spew, feel free to skip a couple paragraphs. If you'll notice, the cams on this site are, in one form or another, reloading jpeg images. Any associated audio streams are mp3 based icecast streams. That's great and all, and I intend to continue using this basic setup, as it's easy, scales well, and well supported by various free applications. However, in the next few months I'm going to have need of a method of streaming a live media stream (both audio and video in sync) that can be viewed on most any webpage. The ideal player for this would be flash, as pretty much every browser comes preinstalled with it. It's certainly more common than java and supported more widely than wmplayer embedded. No problem, I could purchase Flash media server and I'm good to go. It's only $1000 after all. :) That wouldn't really be a bad deal if I planned to use it all the time, or if I was generating some type of revenue from this, but right now I can find better things to spend the money on.

Red5 appears to be a viable alternative. It's free, and I've managed to get it running, but I've yet to see a functional demonstration of it working in a way that I want it to, without having to do any major changes. I'm certainly willing to invest some time and programming on this project if I know there's an obvious target I can see. Right now, I can't see it. I've found no other free options that advertise the ability to stream to flash clients. I could use a service such as, but I'd rather run it all myself.

So, what I'm looking for is a combination of encoder, multimedia server, and flash client with the following features:

  • Free or very low cost, with no licensed limitations on # of users or bandwidth.
  • Server must run on linux. Ideal if the encoder would run on linux too, but windows will be acceptable.
  • I need support for a video/audio stream only. No attached chatrooms or other gizmos.
  • I need to see a working live demonstration of all of it in action.

I've cleaned my office, or at least the floor anyway. Now the critter can have some room to run around. And speaking of the critter, it needs some work. Three changes I'll be making to it before I have it running around often: First off, I'm going to fix the intermittancy issue with the transistors. I think there's a lead that's loose, but I can't see it, so I'm going to just try resoldering all the connections on that componenet and see if it fixes the problem. Secondly, I'm going to replace the linear voltage regulators with switching regulators that come in a similar sized package. That will cut WAY down on power consumption, and basically double the amount of time the critter can run around before draining the battery. Right now, on a new battery, it gets about 5 hours. I should be able to push that to 10 or more. I'm also planning at the same time to going to 24V instead of 12V. The motors are 24V and I've been running them at half power all this time. Hopefully that will solve the friction problem when steering. If it doesn't, my third major change will be to remove the back wheels and replace them with a caster or two. The critter will have no problems steering anymore after that, but it's possible I might lose some stability.

I'm also going to build a server closet of sorts. It won't be a full closet, more like a piece of furniture that holds servers. It will be 6-7 feet tall, 2 feet wide and 2 feet deep. It will have 4 compartments. The bottom two compartments will hold 4-6 servers in conventional tower cases. The third compartment will house the ups, hubs, cable router, UHF modulators for the home tv channels, and other misc components. The fourth compartment will consist of a monitor,keyboard, and mouse on a kvm switch. The closet will have plenty of ventilation and some fans to force airflow. I'll wire in my own outlet boxes instead of relying on power strips, and have all of that feed off a UPS sufficient to support everything, and provide power to the ups from a dedicated house circuit. Doing this will move all the computers off of one table and therefore free up a table for either an extra workstation, or another workbench for electronics projects. The workbench I have now currently is completely saturated with stuff. Of course, once I get a chance to remodel this room, all these problems will go away, but for now I need to make some temporary adjustments to make my life easier.