Wednesday, September 2, 2009
of the cool infrastructure updates that we have coming for RadioReference.com.
We've seen tremendous growth this year so this is really
necessitated. We are planning to move our entire hosting platform
over to Amazon Web Services, which is a cloud based computing
environment that lets us build our infrastructure on demand, and pay
for what we use. It is a little more expensive that traditional
hosting providers, but it provides tremendous flexibility for us.
You can see more information on Amazon Web services here:
Amazon Web Services
With what we have architected moving forward, we can scale within
minutes to support millions of visitors to our site - something that
isn't quite so easy with our current architecture. In fact we
recently in the last 6 months moved to a much larger infrastructure
environment, only to exceed the capacity at times after all the
growth..... and during the summer no less, which is the slowest time
for our business. Clearly, we need to take significant action.
So, what do we have planned? What are the technical details? For
those of you that like this stuff... Here is what the site will look
like after the switch in the next few weeks. We will have:
1 Web Proxy Server. This server will proxy all requests to back end
Web servers, allowing us to load balance requests to LOTS of Web
servers versus the two that we have today. It will be a front end to
the entire back-end infrastructure of Web and database servers, and it
will have a hot standby that can come up quickly (in minutes) in case
of a failure.
3 Web servers... to start. The proxy server above will balance
requests across each of these, on round-robin basis. These Web
servers are the cloned the same so I can literally bring online as
many of them as I want and add them to the Web proxy server
configuration. Understand that the bottlenecks that we sometimes see
in site performance happen at the back end Web servers and/or database
servers. A single proxy server could easily funnel 5,000 requests a
second to a back end infrastructure without even breaking a sweat. We
will also look at deploying, on demand, additional servers just for
the forums so that when they get busy from 3:00 PM to 11:00 PM we can
add servers to support the requests, and then bring them down when
things get quiet. If we get a huge influx of traffic, I could bring
up 30 servers if I needed to.
1 Master database server. This thing will be a monster, with 8
virtual cores and 16GB of RAM. All database writes will go to this
server. Meaning anytime something needs to be changed in the
database, this sucker is going to handle it.
2 Slave Databases... to start. A slave database server replicates all
information from the master listed above but functions in a read only
mode. One will be a primary slave server responsible for offloading
read requests from the master server (the master will still serve a
lot of read requests, but this is a start). Another slave database
will be dedicated solely for database backups and snapshots. If we
have to bring up a bunch of Web servers because of increased demand,
we can also bring up slave database servers to serve those Web servers
all their read requests. Again, we can bring up as many of these as
we need to. we are also looking at advanced caching techniques for
the database servers as well (memcached).
1 NFS Server. NFS stands for "network file system", and allows us to
put all of our Web content on a single server and let all the Web
servers reference it. That way we only have to put things in one
place and if we have 100 Web servers they can all reference the same
1 Management Server. This server will update statistics on all the
servers, monitor each of the servers for problems, and alert us when
something goes bad. No more dead server at 11pm and it gets fixed at
2 Master Audio Servers- These servers will receive all of the audio
feed broadcasts that are hosted on the site. Our plan is to have one
master server for every 1000 audio feeds. We can grow this as needed.
2 Relay Audio Servers... to start. Relay servers are what you connect
to when you listen to a live audio feed. We can add as many of these
as we need to support all the listeners, up to millions of listeners.
Our plan is to have 1 relay server per 3000 listeners.
3 Audio Archive Servers. The audio archive servers, well, archive all
the audio. Each are connected to a 1TB disk store. Our plan is to
have one archive server per 500 feeds.
So many will ask, how much will this cost per month? I would estimate
that our charges per month will exceed $4,000/month. If we have to
scale to meet additional demand we will pay for what we use. But, the
benefits far outweigh the costs and we will be prepared to scale up to
large events and traffic that are invariability going to come our
way. We don't have a choice but to invest, and our existing services
are costing about $3000/month so this is a great business move for us.
And... many will ask, when is this going to happen? Well, half of our
audio infrastructure is already on the new system, and we've moved all
of the static Web content (logos, images, styles, etc) to Amazon's
Cloud Front. The rest of the infrastructure is already up and
running, but going through load testing to make sure things go
smoothly when we switch. I would expect that by the end of
September, we will be fully moved over to this new environment, and we
will be welcoming hoards of new visitors and users.
Thank everyone for your support, and I welcome your feedback.
Monday, June 1, 2009
Priced at $29.95, the CD-ROM provides a complete off-line copy of the RadioReference Database and wiki, including conventional and trunked frequencies assignments for all United States cities, counties, and states, and a select set of international locales. In addition, maps, images, 10 codes lists, and other data are included for selected areas.
New for this release is an updated style and look, as well as the complete copy of the RadioReference Wiki for offline access to this reference source.
The CD-ROM is now in stock at ScannerMaster, and can be ordered at the following location:
RadioReference Database CD-ROM
More Information on the CD-ROM can be found here:
RR CD Apr2009 - The RadioReference Wiki
Friday, April 24, 2009
1) Retrieve Frequencies/Information based on Zip Code (US Only)
2) Frequency Search by State
3) Additional frequency details display for individual frequency entries (inputs,etc)
4) System ID and Custom Frequency Table information now available for trunked systems.
I've got more features and functionality planned - but these are some of the more highly requested updates that we make.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
"Live public safety communications being broadcast online have experienced tremendous growth over the past two years and RadioReference has explored many avenues for offering this feature to our members," says Lindsay Blanton, president of RadioReference. "The ScanAmerica team has done a tremendous job of building their online community and their technology is well architected and top notch. This is a perfect fit with our strategy of adding additional content to the site."
ScanAmerica is the web's leading provider of online police and fire scanner feeds. Founded in 2008, the site quickly amassed over 550 feeds from all over the United States and receives visits from over 220,000 people per month.
"This transition to RadioReference is perfect for the online scanner community," says Gordon Edwards, owner of ScanAmerica. "The combination of our best-of-breed broadcasting services along with the RadioReference database will result in tremendous benefits for both communities - most importantly being increased audience and visibility."
RadioReference.com is the world's largest radio communications data provider, featuring a complete frequency database, trunked radio system information, and FCC license data. With over 210,000 members, RadioReference provides the most comprehensive collaboration platform for scanner listeners and public safety communications professionals.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
1. Premium Subscribers can now set their default display for input frequencies. See the "Database" tab under your account settings page.
2. We will now be moving all unstructured content (links, maps, logos, code lists, files etc) to the Wiki for each county/agency/trs page. Each entity's new wiki page can be accessed by clicking the "Collaboration" tab on any agency, county, or trunked system page. For information on this can be found here: Collaboration Tab.
Hopefully these changes will make it not only easier to view data in the database, but also easier for every person in the RadioReference community to contribute all kinds of revelvant information for their areas. Don't forget, anyone with a RadioReference.com account can edit and add content in the Wiki, so please use this resource to its fullest.
Monday, March 30, 2009
RadioReference 4.0 is Live!
After months of hard work, the new complete site redesign, titled RadioReference.com 4.0 was recently released to the community. This new version of the site highlights the most important and significant changes to RadioReference.com since inception.
Some of the new features and functionality with the 4.0 release include:
- A complete new theme, graphics set, and common design across all site components.
- Users can now see their submissions and status at the Your Account - My Submissions page.
- New common top menus for easier navigation across different site components.
- FCC license display settings are remembered on county FCC license listing pages for Premium Subscribers.
- Premium Subscribers have a better view of their subscription status across the site.
RadioReference Senior Leaders
Because of our significant growth over the past year, we recently announced three leadership positions on RadioReference.com. These three individuals, all highly experienced folks in our community, take responsibility for key components of RadioReference. They are:
- Eric Carlson (ericcarlson), who takes lead responsibility for the RadioReference Database.
- Wayne Hayes (wayne_h), who takes lead responsibility for the RadioReference Forums.
- Mike Agner (ka3jjz), who takes lead responsibility for the RadioReference Wiki.
Database Team Updates
From Eric Carlson, Lead Database Administrator and Manager
The RR Database continues to expand its coverage of conventional and trunked data around the world. Additionally, we are continuing to supplement existing data with alpha tags, function tags and geographic tags. All three types of "tags" are intended to make it much easier to program scanners via computer software. If you see missing tags in any area of the database, please let us know what we're missing by clicking the "Submit Info" link on the toolbar at the top of any page.
Also, you may have noticed we are now tracking Project 25 trunked system zone IDs separately from site IDs and also showing all trunked site IDs in both decimal and hexadecimal format. These enhancements allow us to properly track site information and help mitigate confusion that arises from different scanners showing site IDs in different formats.
In addition, we've heard from many asking "Where have input frequencies gone?" in the new release of the database. Don't worry, they are still present. You can enable viewing of input frequencies by choosing the "Enable Input Frequencies" option at the top of any frequency list in the database.
The database administration team is also steadily moving toward standardizing the database organization across all regions. We are developing internal standards and documentation to facilitate a consistent structure to the database as you browse from region to region. Please bear with us as we continue to improve the quality of the database. The database administrator "handbook" will be posted shortly for you to review if you wish to see exactly what our policies and procedures are.
Forums Team Updates
From Wayne Hayes, Lead Forums Moderator and Manager
With the growing interest of the RadioReference forums and our dedication to being the source for radio related discussions, we've added many new topic areas. Areas such as Amateur Radio, New Scanner Users, GMRS and subdivided the Tavern (formerly "The Wasteland"), to name a few. It's an overwhelming expansion but with growth comes reorganization. Stop by, maybe there's something new that will pique your interest.
Wiki Team Updates
From Mike Agner, Lead Wiki Administrator and Manager
We have heard a number of comments about how the wiki is very difficult to navigate, and how the current Wiki homepage is cumbersome. While we tend to agree, it does link to and categorize a number of topics. As this is being written we have well over 1200 articles making it the single largest radio related wiki in the world.
With the new implementation of 4.0, a new dropdown menu structure has been implemented for navigation. If you examine the blue toolbar at the top of each page, you will see a "Wiki" menu item in the center of the toolbar. The topics in this dropdown menu are good starting points, and far simpler to navigate than the huge first page. From time to time, we may move topics in and out of the dropdown menu to give a little variety to what is presented. Your suggestions as to what topics you would like to see presented are solicited.
In addition, some months ago, with a release of a popular freeware software package for the Uniden DMA scanners called FreeScan, a user manual was developed to advertise the package as well as to create a user-maintained reference manual. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first scanner software application to have its documentation placed into a wiki. Since the wiki is all user generated content, every RadioReference subscriber has the opportunity to contribute additional content to this online manual.
Finally, don't forget that the Wiki can be edited by anyone with a RadioReference user account. You are encouraged to use the wiki to document local content, scratchpad information about a trunked system or communications network, or start your own reference source for something radio related. See the New Article Guidelines page for information on how to create and edit articles on the wiki.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
retiring of the existing "1.1" version of the Web service, currently in use
primarily by Starsoft and Butel. The new deprecation date is now July 30th,
2009. This push back should hopefully give these application developers the
time they need to convert to the new Web service, which provides additional
features and functionality.
It is important to note that this will be the only push out of the date.
Monday, January 26, 2009
As you know, RadioReference has grown from a small radio communications oriented Web site to one of the larger sites on the Internet, requiring a tremendous amount of care and feeding to keep growth strong and participation high. There is no doubt that RadioReference is the "go to" destination for anyone looking to participate online regarding scanning and radio communications.
With this in mind, I've decided to form and staff 3 new senior leadership positions reporting to me that will take on formal responsibilities for different components of the Web site. This will allow us to have a group of individuals that will help drive how we bring great features, functionality, and a good end user experience across the database, the forums, and the wiki.
I take great pleasure in announcing the appointment of these three individuals into the following positions:
Lead Database Administrator and Manager - Eric Carlson (ericcarlson)
Eric has agreed to take the position of Lead Database Administrator, and will be responsible leading our database administration team, developing and formalizing policies and procedures for database management with your involvement and mine, and recruiting and making sure that our approach results in quality and accuracy in the database.
Lead Forums Moderator and Manager - Wayne Hayes (wayne_h)
Wayne has agreed to take over the head moderator position for our fast growing and very active forums. He'll be responsible for leading our team of moderators, making sure that we are on top of rules in the forums, and recruiting a team of focused and localized moderators that can make sure that the forums remain a friendly and welcoming environment. Expect to see great changes in the near future in the forums as we focus more time on improvement and growth.
Lead Wiki Administrator and Manager - Mike Agner (ka3jjz)
Mike has agreed to take the lead on wiki administration duties, which he's already been doing very well. The Wiki has become a very important and go to reference source for radio related information, and Mike will be working to better promote the use of this important reference source so that more folks participate and we continue to integrate more components of the Wiki into the overall Web site.
Please join me in welcoming these folks to their new formalized roles, and support them as much as possible as they begin to execute on their responsibilities over the next few months.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Some other notable statistics for 2008 include:
11,926 submissions of radio communications data were sent and processed
53,124 new members
277,254 posts to the user forums
41,220,258 page impressions
244,082 changes to the RadioReference Database
2009 will bring even more exciting statistics and changes for RadioReference, as we release a new branding and Web site, new features and functionality, and a better overall user experience!