Moving up in the world

It maybe a strange title to give this post, but I think it is rather true considering what has happened over the past few months. I’ve moved up from Brisbane to the Sunshine Coast to a beautiful new estate called Brightwater in Mountain Creek just down the hill from Buderim and beside the Sunshine Coast Motorway. Loving the people, the surrounding and all that has come from this great move. I have also started working for Sunshine FM in Buderim, primarily as their Traffic Manager and it is great to work with such a fine team of people. I’ve just managed to order a stack of quality cables from WES electronics in Sydney as I’ve found the quality of product is difficult to acquire over eBay. So over the coming days I will be rewiring a lot of my home connections. I’m going to try and provide more frequent updates to this site, but for the moment I’ll leave you with a pic of myself at the Beautiful Buderim Falls within 10mins from my new home.

Big end of town

So back in December it was about time to get my bone density checkup and I arranged to get a referral so I could have this carried out. At the time of booking I alerted that this was a followup and was given a time. When I arrived I was informed they would do the test then find an appropriate Medicare code. When this did come around they advised because it was not exactly or past the 2 year waiting period that I could not be covered and would have to pay $100 out of pocket. Now for someone that is currently trying to make ends meet through a government benefit this is a big ask. I took the matter up with the agency then eventually the health ombudsman to no avail. The lack of communication from Queensland Diagnostic Imaging was appalling. So now I will no longer use their services and I’m posting this so fellow Queenslanders don’t have to deal with this disgraceful company.

Time to scratch myself

Hi All, well it’s been ages since I did a blog post and I keep putting it off, procrastination at it’s best. I had hoped to do a post each day but it appears to be to much effort for me so I’m going to try and do a weekly update. I carried out a stack of volunteer work with the radio station over the summer and found it to be extremely productive. It was great to work with Damien Spanjer again and the efforts are shown in this video.

2OCB Small Equipment Grant 2015 from Steven Centofanti on Vimeo.

The latest advancement has been to install a Talkswitch PBX and also to use HESK (Helpdesk Web Software) to track all our pending technical tasks. Throw in another round of grant applications, commencement of university assessments and it’s rather busy. I’m finding that when it comes to radio at least, I’m a person who just gets things done, I just get on with it because it needs to be done. I don’t question whether I will enjoy it because someone needs to do it. Big shout out to Shayne McBride (Great Lakes FM), Jamie Campbell (Radio Dungog) and Trent Geddes (2GHR) for their technical advice over the last few months. My latest frustration stems from a lack of support from Tieline and it appears I’m not the only one. If you too are having trouble updating your Tieline Bridge-IT Firmware let me know. Love hearing your thoughts, keep in touch!

A dollar a day

Most of us have had to tighten the budget to make ends meet, I’m sharing this post to perhaps help others and perhaps even get a little help myself. Inspired by my university studies on “Consumption Matters: Consumer Cultures and Identity”.

I use this Australian Bureau of Statistics document to compare my expenditure against others.

http://www.ausstats.abs.gov.au/Ausstats/subscriber.nsf/0/CB07CC895DCE2829CA2579020015D8FD/$File/65300_2009-10.pdf

I breakdown my budget spreadsheet using the same categories then by year, month, fortnight, week then day and it can be a real eye opener. Note that I check the ozbargain.com.au website regularly for great bargains.

 

Electricity

I used the government electricity comparison website https://www.energymadeeasy.gov.au/ to search for a suitable plan for our needs, this way you know there is no one being paid to promote certain plans. I ended up with Click Energy but there are a few noteworthy conditions, bills are emailed, direct debited to get the best discount. If you’re interested in joining them, save even more by a member referral https://www.clickenergy.com.au/about-us/forms/mates-rates/

 

Transport

I make use of public transport here in Brisbane and have a GO card – http://translink.com.au/tickets-and-fares/go-card

 

If I need to make a desperate trip around the city I use Uber

Save with a referral link – https://www.uber.com/invite/stevenc243

 

If travelling to and from the airport, where possible I use public transport for locals:

 

Brisbane: Translink Bus to DFO then free shuttle bus to the airport terminals and vice versa. Beware the shuttle bus only operates during certain times. Saves on paying a fortune on the Airport Train.

http://skygate.com.au/files/airportvillage/Bus%20Timetable.pdf

 

Melbourne: Public bus to Broadmeadows Train station then train to city. Takes longer but saves you a fair bit rather than the Skybus. Again I use a card called Myki for these trips.

http://ptv.vic.gov.au/journey

 

Sydney: No real choice but airport train here, but use an Opal card to save money. https://www.opal.com.au/

 

Adelaide: A couple of times I’ve stayed in Glenelg, there is a public bus to this area to and from the airport.

https://www.adelaidemetro.com.au/

 

When planning flights, I use a number of tools:

 

http://www.skyscanner.com.au/

http://www.webjet.com.au to compare domestic options then book directly through airline website. Try using this link and change the required city name in the link http://www.webjet.com.au/flights/sydney/

The cheapest option is presented by each month, think click through to find what day it is available.

Like the facebook pages of Jetstar and Tiger to be the first to get bargain sales. Note if you must get to a destination in a tight timeframe you are best of with Virgin or Qantas, worth knowing if you need to make a connection.

Try paying through your bank account or direct debit card to increase your savings. Oh and if you find a cheaper flight than Jetstar within an hour of one of their scheduled flights you can user their price beat guarantee policy for a booking http://www.jetstar.com/au/en/what-we-offer/our-guarantees/price-beat-guarantee

 

Food/Groceries

I buy groceries from Coles as I prefer their product range as well as getting a discount as a member of our house is a staff member. We plan our meals in advance for the week and only buy what we need generally. We pop it into the Coles mobile app by searching or scanning the barcodes then we tick them off the app as it guides us by each isle in the store. We also use Flybuys to get greater discounts on our shopping. Note that anything you purchase and swipe with your flybuys is saved to the app so you can select it for future shopping lists.

https://www.coles.com.au/customer-service/coles-app

I buy some staples through ALDI and where it is possible some bulk items through Costco. Always buy dishwasher tablets in bulk through catchoftheday.com.au or eBay resellers. I also buy batteries through catchoftheday.com.au.

 

When going out for a meal we use Zomato to compare places through reviews https://www.zomato.com/

 

Education

I purchase my textbooks second hand through Amazon.com where possible, takes a few weeks but huge savings.

 

Ink & Toner, always buy generic through ebay.com.au and save a fortune.

 

Hotels

Booking.com is my preferred site to book hotels

 

Furnishings

I generally buy new furniture from Super Amart or Ikea, rugs through eBay. Haven’t had to buy an appliance for a while but I’m tempted by appliancesonline.com.au best price guarantee and other aspects of their operation http://www.appliancesonline.com.au/our-prices.aspx

 

Communications

Internet

I’m located in an area that has a piece of technology called a RIM which essentially means that I have to use a Telstra ADSL2+ landline service with a traditional phone service connected. If you are connecting up anywhere I recommend Internode as your first company to call, their staff are quick to tell you what is technically available, they also resell aspects of the Telstra network. The staff are at a call centre in lovely Adelaide and in my experience are lovely to deal with. I am however considering switching to Belong when my contract is up do to a shorter or no contract period at a cheaper rate. If I had the Optus network available I would choose a company called Eftel although I don’t like supporting Optus as I believe they are still owned by the Singapore Government. Be careful when selecting services particularly unlimited plans as their contention rate differs (too many users online affect your speed).

 

Phone

Landline

I use a Voice Over Internet Protocol VOIP phone line service using a Mynetfone Neosaver plan https://www.mynetfone.com.au/whirlpool/VoIP/Plans

I don’t have my number listed at no cost and have enjoyed not having Telemarketers interfere with my life.

 

Mobile

I’m with Vaya using the Optus 4G network where available on a Power Plan 18. http://www.vaya.net.au/?option=Mobile&4Gsimonly&plan=Power%20Plans

I buy my phones second hand through amazon.com

 

Health

To find a private health plan I use the government comparison website, rather than paid comparison sites. http://www.privatehealth.gov.au/dynamic/compare.aspx

 

I’m lucky that I have a local pharmacy that collects scripts at a nearby box in an estate and then delivers them next day charging to my monthly account. I buy PBS through them and buy anything else through Chemist Warehouse.

 

Recreation

TV/Movies/Music

I’m a Netflix subscriber and also purchase itunes cards on sale for use with Apple TV, I keep an eye on Harvey Norman 2 for 1 sales.

 

When watching movies in theatres, I try to choose Cineplex cinemas as they are much cheaper and have limited free parking available.

 

Banking

I use Westpac and ING Direct, I will never return to ANZ after their disgusting treatment.

 

I have Mastercard and Visa debit cards along with Mastercard and Amex credit cards of which I earn Qantas Frequent Flyers and rebates on the Amex. Note that I use either the Qantas Frequent Flyers of Virgin Velocity rewards sites before proceeding to purchase at online stores such as eBay so I gain frequent flyer points.

Come together right now…

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One of the things I find peculiar about community broadcasting in this country is that with the largest number of radio stations in the industry there doesn’t seem to be much personal networking happening. Technorama was a great way to find out what other stations are doing and learning from their experiences. The amount of time and money that could be saved if this kind of personal networking was to rise would be extremely beneficial.

Recently, I was advised that an air conditioner unit at 2OCB was at the end of its life. The unit had always been incredibly noisy and not fit for a broadcast environment. I recalled seeing the units that 2MBS was using and noting how super quiet they were. I contacted Peter Bailey at 2MBS to enquire a make & model they used in which he willingly advised Temperzone and model OSA65RKSH. I passed this information onto management to investigate further. Simple information like this can go a long way to benefit others in the sector.

I’m currently studying Enterprise 2.0 at university and the rise of applications within organisations to spread innovative and constructive advancements in processes. I recall a conversation with Stephen Hahn a few years ago while with Joy FM in Melbourne surrounding the suggestion of having a knowledge base interface at the CBAA which reminded me of the old A-Z handbook that used to be managed by them. We used to have a Forum and Wiki on the CBAA website but these have disappeared. I’m interested in introducing tools to benefit the sector and reduce the impacts on our time, finances and other resources.

While I wasn’t impressed with the efforts of AMRAP in providing websites for stations, I think there is room for a customised WordPress theme to be developed for stations that could be made available sector wide.

Ebay Wonderland

One of the sites I just could not do without is eBay, I love shopping for bargains through this website. You can obtain items at a fraction of the cost of paying retail in store. I recently wanted to buy a digital scale to weigh my luggage for trips to avoid excess baggage fees, I priced them in the stores from $30 – $60. A short time on eBay and I had one with delivery for around $3! Ink & Toner, forget retail you will pay ridiculous amounts. Sure, you will find most of these items to be generic but if you want to print something quality then use the professional services of something like Officeworks. You can also setup eBay to give you email alerts when new items meet your search criteria.

Tech Spread

I’ve just come back from holidays so there has been an absence in posts. I love to fly but increasingly I have to way up the benefit and cost factors of the trip. I would like to go to the SMPTE conference later this month but weighing up the costs involved I have made the decision to have a friend attend and have them ask a few questions of Axia for my benefit. I’ve also been pretty envious of Hope Radio in Sydney with their latest radiothon achievement. 2CBD continues to ask for a voiceover for their clients and I’m only too happy to send reads through for them. The latest is here

A week of winter

I’ve just spent the last week in Orange setting up a studio as part of a CBF Small Equipment Grant to restore the John Garnsey memorial studio. Along the way a PC power supply blew up along with two PC monitors and that really kept me on my toes. Audio Bleeding and unnecessary buzzing also crept their way into my path. I’m pretty happy with how the project has panned out with a few things still to be finalised but the bulk of the work sorted. My thanks to Cody & James for their assistance in the physical aspects of this project.

Technorama 2015

It’s been a busy few weeks and I haven’t been blogging as I wanted to really give some more detail in posts about this time. This year I attended Technorama for the first time held in my old stomping ground of Chatswood, Sydney and the city has changed remarkably in 11 years.

On the Friday evening, the start of Technorama I had a tour of the new 2MBS station and explored what they had done with their facility. A few things surprised me, fluro lights, system boxes in studios, separate room for IT equipment. It was interesting to discover where they felt they went wrong in their project and the subsequent lessons learned. That was pretty much the theme of Technorama itself I felt, stories of experience and how to make the most of your projects. I’m not much of a social butterfly but met quite a few people on the Friday and struck up some really interesting conversations.

Guest Speaker Van Richards-Smith gave us great insights into his experience managing many sites for TAB radio. From grounding transmission sites, to air conditioning and layout of studio designs.

Paul from 3RPP is in the process of reviewing playout systems across the sector and I spent some time with him going over Simian.

The AMRAP team have been working on radio website services, which I’m not sure how that fits under their area but I was interested in their player widget.

Lining up your station was something I had not heard before but now I understand the topic I would like to know how to do this correctly.

Probably the most interesting session was from Tim Borgas outlining some of the great tech devices available. I could spend quite a lot of time speaking to Tim but unfortunately Tim lost his voice over the weekend.

Some of Tim’s findings are here:

Video projector Epson EB-1761W – split screen, lightweight, wifi options, around $1,000

http://www.officeworks.com.au/shop/officeworks/p/epson-eb-1761w-wireless-wxga-projector-white-epeb1761?cm_vc=cross-sell

Auria Multi-track recording and editing software for iPad. Record 24 tracks simultaneously and playback 48 tracks.

http://www.wavemachinelabs.com/Products/auria

Requires external audio interfaces – we use a Presonus 1818VSL and a Behringer ADA8000 to give us 18 channels of in/out.

Online RF Propogation Software (monthly subscription. Interfaces to Google Earth):

http://cloudrf.com

Bandscanner GPS (modulation monitor and field strength survey device – to check your predictions from above)

http://www.deva-fm-monitoring.com/products/band-scanner-gps

RF Explorer spectrum analyser (cheap handheld unit that can be connected to a PC)

http://rfexplorer.com

SARK 110 Vector Network Analyser (versatile unit to measure VSWR, Return Loss, Impedance. It can also measure cable loss and find faults in cable and tell you how far away the fault is)

http://www.sark110.com

Seeed Studio sells the SARK110 and quite a few other interesting things:

https://www.seeedstudio.com/depot/sark110-antenna-analyzer-p-1270.html

Basic RDS Encoder (gets you on the air with RDS at a minimum cost):

http://www.deva-rds.com/products/smartgen-micro

IP Audio Encoder with SPDIF (which can talk to AES/EBU digital signals):

http://www.deva-ip-audio.com/products/db90-tx

IP Audio Decoder (matching unit for the above):

http://www.deva-ip-audio.com/products/db90-rx

Quick and simple OB links using iPhones and FaceTime Audio (not FaceTime, but FaceTime audio, as the audio quality is better)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FaceTime

Lot of little things that plug into iPhones and other smart phones

http://www.ikmultimedia.com

Small mics for iPhones & smartphones

http://www.rode.com/microphones/mobile

Thermal imaging cameras (really useful for checking heat dissipation – as a general rule, things get hot before they fail)

http://www.flir.com.au

Cable testers (very handy with built in very basic audio signal generator):

http://www.behringer.com/EN/Products/CT100.aspx

Handy virtual machine for running all your Windows XP software on a mac:

http://www.parallels.com/au/products/desktop/

Things I didn’t have time to show you on the day, but worth a look

Antenna modelling software (allows you to build a simulation model of your antenna, mast and hut to see what sort of radiation pattern you should expect)

http://www.eznec.com

Drones for inspecting your mast without climbing it (only for “no wind” conditions):

http://www.parrot.com/au/

We’re working (very slowly) on trying to mount a receiver on the drone so that we can fly a GPS controlled pattern around an antenna to get an accurate 3D field strength measurement.

CD Players for various uses. Numark make a good range and appear to use the Sony style mechanism that’s proven to be very robust. They also appear to be very similar to the old American Audio CD players that were good performers. The audio quality is not as good as say the Denon’s, but they will read just about any disk you throw at them.

Numark MP103USB is a single drawer unit that has XLR, RCA and SPDIF outputs and can read audio from USB sticks too. No remote start, but can be modified with some technical skill. Handy to have in the tech rack as a backup audio feed if you only have one studio at your station.

The CDN77USB is a dual deck unit with remote start, but no XLR outputs. It also accepts USB sticks.

http://www.numark.com/product_category/players

The Gala Dinner and Quiz went rather quickly with no chance of me being able to answer many of the questions. I was able to see a bit of Vivid while staying with my host Pete in Artarmon.

I have much more respect for those that work in the RF side of the chain, but more than anything it was great to network with people from other stations.

I see opportunities for stations to bulk buy items, share music libraries and support advice if we can work closer as a sector team. Very grateful to those that presented or attended, I’m really looking forward to the next conference and hopefully it will be hosted in Queensland.

Mentors & Mates

So I wanted to take some time to acknowledge the people who have helped me get to where I am today. I see it as such an important aspect of a persons development to have someone offering them guidance and advice from their own experience. When I was living in Orange I had at least three business people who inspired me to achieve and grow, without these people I don’t think I would have had the opportunities that I have had the pleasure of experiencing. Mentors & mates help you to be passionate about what you do as they foster support. Even today I get a few phone calls every month discussing what’s going on! In the last couple of days I’ve been asked about where to source news services and voiceovers. For news I know of syndication of AirNews, National Radio News and from Macquarie, but make sure you can get it delivered correctly. Do you have access to costly satellite infrastructure or can you get away with FTP? And if you are after an American voiceover try Radiodaddy.com