Rhubarb Radio to return?

Rhubarb Radio studio in Custard Factory, Birmingham
Rhubarb Radio studio in Custard Factory, Birmingham by gavinwray

When I was getting all nostalgic about Rhubarb Radio recently, I had a look on the old domain name. It looks as though someone registered the domain name when it expired in October and set up a holding page.

Welcome to what will be the new home of “Rhubarb Radio”, (www.rhubarbradio.com).

Based in Birmingham England, Rhubarb radio was a pioneer in community radio, it used to operate out of the old Custard factory media site up until November 2011. It produced a great Birmingham & West Midlands quality output of Local & International Music, community news and topics on Birmingham life and our proud history of Brum.

However, sometime around 3rd or 4th November 2011 someone broke into or somehow entered the Rhubarb Radio Studio and removed a large amount of essential equipment.  In short, the station was unable to broadcast at all. Due to different financial reasons the original owners were unable to save the station, the interim owners were not aware that there were historic problems and the presenters and support staff rallied round to try and save what they could but with all the equipment gone it was  an impossible task. So the Rhubarb radio station went off air. Shortly after the station domain name  lapsed.

But by a quirk of fate some new entrepreneurial owners who really believed in what Rhubarb Radio stood for and what it meant to the Brum Music scene, managed to acquire it to ensure that it may have a fighting chance to re-launch if the right team could be re-assembled in the future.

So as a first step here we are, over the  coming weeks/months we intend to provide as many links as possible to the original  presenters and their work, plus keep you up to date on what is happening next.

Thank you for stopping by.

I’ve since been in contact with the new owner of the domain to ascertain how far along their plans are, but haven’t received anything back just yet. It’ll be interesting to see how it all turns out, and perhaps more interestingly, I’m listed as one of the presenters on their links page 😉

The First Month of Windows 8

When I was a lad, I wasn’t really aware of Apple. I’d seen a few Macs in the shops, but was always skeptical, mainly because until Windows XP, I’d never had a problem with using it. My first machine had Windows 3.1 on it. You couldn’t do much, play a few games, paint some “masterpieces” and send a fax, if you wanted to. The world was a much simpler place pre-Internet, the 10 o’clock news was the only way I’d find out about what was going on in the world. I didn’t really listen to music, apart from when Dad let me play around with his record player and I was only ever allowed to watch what my Parents wanted to on the TV. Although I was 8 at the time.

I’ve always been a user of Windows, despite all the times I’ve declared to myself that I’ve had enough, I’ve never been able to permanently switch to Linux. The latest versions are beautiful and let you do most things that you can do on a Windows system, but it just doesn’t feel quite right at times. When Windows 8 was released last week, I decided to, belatedly check out the consumer preview. At first I was skeptical, but having used Windows Phone 7 for a few weeks on my Lumia, I decided to take the plunge and plonk £25 on the upgrade.

I’m now just over a month in to using Windows 8 and have to say that I’m definitely in love again. Although it’s definitely built for touch devices, it doesn’t take long to work out that if you use your mouse (or trackpad) wheel you can easily scroll horizontally throughout the full screen apps. If you have two screens connected to your machine, the experience is seamless. I use one screen for full screen apps and then have the “traditional” desktop on the second, larger screen. Of course you can switch between the two simply by dragging the app on to the screen you want to use it on.

The only disappointment so far is with Skype. It looks like it’s been rushed, with lots of the features that are standard on the desktop app not available or not quite working. The automatic integration with Windows Live and Facebook is also a bit annoying when you can get those from the Messaging app. It’s definitely an improvement on Windows 7, but unless you’re in to consuming a lot of your media on your PC, you may not benefit fully from the rather cool new features.

[Audio] Four Years On

On the 6th October four years ago, my Dad passed away. He lost his 18 month battle with cancer and was at home surrounded by his friends and family. It’s a day I’ll remember for the rest of my life, from phoning work to my God Mother seeing a lady in the room with his (we think it was my Nan) him making sure the hedge had been cut minutes before he took his final breath, to me rallying round and making the tea for everyone.

Music was a massive part of my Dads life. Sinatra, The Beatles, Jools Holland, Shirley Bassey – the list goes on. The header at the top of this very blog is a photo I took of his record collection when I was sorting through his things.  Whenever I listen to tracks by his favourite artists, I think of him. This is why I love music so much, I grew up around it and now I’m hoping that my kids will follow in his footsteps.

Frank Sinatra – Summer Wind
The Beatles – Blackbird
Rolling Stones – Miss You

Update: Rhubarb Radio Archive

Last week I wrote about being given access to the Amazon S3 account that housed Rhubarb Radio shows from 2009-2010. I’ve now had to close the account to ensure I didn’t incur any further charges. Those that have requested their old shows; I’ll be sending those out to you this week. Unforunately I wasn’t able to download the complete archive, so if you’re looking for yours and didn’t get a request in, I’m afraid I won’t be able to help.

Podcast User Magazine Article – Circa 2007

Working as podcast producer
Working as podcast producer by the tartanpodcast, on Flickr

Looking through my collection of Google Docs, I stumbled across the following article that I wrote for Podcast User Magazine, possibly from 2007. This year marks seven years since I started Podcasting and, although lately I’ve been very lax on getting a regular show out, it’s still a very big part of my life.

Part of me wishes that the revolution I talk about in the article actually did happen and that these artists found fame for being extremely good at what they did, rather than through a Simon Cowell backed reality TV show. Can’t have everything though, can you?

How Podcasting is helping independent bands bring their music to the masses

Picture the scene. Early 2005 in a small, quiet house in central England. A 19-year-old guy who previously attempted to learn to play the drums, and failed, sits at his computer listening to a Podcast for the very first time, amazed that he is able to listen to some guy in the US talk with another guy and play music – their own music. The concept immediately has him thinking of the many “radio shows” he had recorded with a friend while at school. Only this time, there actually might be a chance for people to hear what he had been trying to say.

That was my very first experience of podcasting, listening to Steve Lacey sit down and have a chat with a friend from his band; Spank. They talked about everyday things, podcasting, music and their band’s impending CD-release party. I was immediately bitten by the podcasting bug and wanted to know more. How did it all work? What did I need to do to get my own one out there? These answers were quite hard to come by, but after about a week I managed to hastily cobble together a very quiet podcast entitled “El’s Thoughts”.

Continue reading “Podcast User Magazine Article – Circa 2007”

Rhubarb Radio Archive

As many of you will know, I used to do a show on Rhubarb Radio. Between July 2009 and November 2011, I was the stations “webmaster”, in charge of ensuring all the shows got recorded and were available for Listen Again. When I joined I set about looking for ways to improve the service we were giving our listeners.

As a station our on demand vs listen live was typically around 3:1, so making sure everything ran smoothly was the most important, and sometimes most difficult part to get right. Having done a bit of research, I settled on using Amazon S3 as not only a backup service but also as a Content Delivery System for listeners using on demand. The prices were cheap, a lot cheaper than our host wanted to charge us, and it meant that we could take the load of our server, which was prone to falling over when having to stream on demand and live. It took me a good few months to set up the system, but in the end once a show had been recorded by the server, it was automatically uploaded to S3 and the link to it on the website  was replaced by the one on the CDN.

When the fortunes of Rhubarb Radio changed, we weren’t able to keep funding S3, simply because there was no money coming in and the Director of our Parent company had moved on to his new venture. Times were tough, and a few months after I left in November 2011, Rhubarb was closed down.

Yesterday, I got an email from Amazon with a monthly statement for S3 attached to it. For some reason, I’m still investigating as to what, the account had been linked to my most recent login and I had been charged $60 for one month of storage (nearly 500gb). I sent a short, polite email, explaining what had happened and asking, as a complete shot in the dark, if I would be able to have access to the account again so we could move our content off the service and distribute it to ex-Presenters.

Surprisingly, within a couple of hours I had a reply, permission to access the account and the promise of a refund once I closed down the account. Having dealt with Customer Service in the past, I was pleasantly surprised at how speedy and how helpful they had been. So, “what does this all mean?” I hear you ask. Essentially, I have “most” of the Rhubarb Radio output from 2009-2011. I’m assuming that after I left, the shows weren’t backup up to S3, so anything after November 2011 is probably lost forever.

I’m going to be download as many shows as I can and will probably end up sending out DVDs for those that want theirs. If you have any specific requests, please let me know. Once I close the account, that’s it.

Rhubarb Radio from Fourseventy Media on Vimeo.

Fixing an iPod touch screen…

When Aimee moved to Cornwall I wanted a way of staying in touch with her. Phoning her Mum everytime I wanted to speak with her was one option, Skype another, but then I had the idea of buying her an iPod and allowing her to contact me when she wanted to. Using iMessage meant we could really keep in touch, with FaceTime the option when we wanted to talk to each other.

She loved it, taking photos of anything she can, sending me updates on her day, recording videos and even using it to set reminders for herself. This isn’t an advert for how great the iPods are, Apple lovers will already know this, it’s the fact that without it, I wouldn’t have been able to keep that connection that we’ve had since she was born.

A few weeks ago, we’d gone to the Eden Project and she was loving every minute of it. She’d realised that she could do what I was doing – taking photos to share with people who weren’t there. Through a bit of over excitement, she’d dropped it a couple of time. I took a look and it was fine. Then, the third drop proved to be the worst. The screen was smashed, almost completely.Anyone who has a child will know the face that come from her next, she was distraught. A little reassurance that it wasn’t the end of the world (and an ice cream) was enough to calm her down, and we all forgot about it.

Last week I ordered a new screen and the tools from eBay. I’d seen a few places online that would do it for between £40 and £60, but this involved sending it all away and trusting them to send it back. Not something I was that keen on myself. Being the geek that I am, I found the full kit – LCD, digitiser and tools – for £15, including P+P. I’ve always had an interest in how things work, so I went for it.

This morning the screen and tools arrived, so I took the plunge and had a go. I didn’t do it on my own, however. The very detailed video from Gadget Menders (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7HSK7kS1c9w) was very helpful. Unfortunately, some of the tools that were included weren’t the best to get the screen off due to the state it was in, so I improvised by using a craft knife *carefully*.

Three hours and a few choice words later, the new screen is installed and everything works. Although frustrating at times, it was actually a quite enjoyable way to spend a few hours of my Saturday morning. I’ve also applied one of those extra strong screen protectors, just to be on the safe side.

Ten Years on the Internet

Ten years ago, I’d just (give or take) signed up for a Hotmail account and made the jump into the wonderful world of the Internet. I’d been badgering my Dad about it for at least 6 months, having been let loose round my best mates house a few times.

Once we finally got it, I didn’t actually know what to do with it. There was nowhere to go, no one to “talk” to, it was all actually a bit shit. Until I discovered that you could actually make your own websites.

Freeserve (nee Wanadoo/Orange) released 10Mb of web space with their accounts, so I used my copy of Frontpage – probably the only useful thing it could do – to start recreating the websites I’d been trying to make using Word and linking to local files.

Quite frankly, they were pretty rubbish, as you can see for yourself at http://nowfmuk.8k.com/index.html.

Although it taught me a lot about what I now do as a full-time job, so not a complete waste of time.

Have a look around if you like. I’m sure there are plenty more of those sites out there somewhere, although most were on Geocities, so have probably been lost in the ether forevermore.