QueTwo's Blog

thouoghts on telecommunications, programming, education and technology

I’m Back!

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Well, it’s been a really busy summer.  I haven’t been blogging too much lately; my office job has been keeping me really busy.

My department officially launched our new cable television system this last week.  This was a huge, huge project for me.  I’ve been working on it for well over a year, and pretty much squeezing everything else in with it. 

Our old system was installed in the mid 1980’s and has been working fairly well since.  We serve a population of about 24,000 students, faculty and staff with about 60 channels of cable television programming.  This was going good until HDTV hit the market.  Over the past years, we have had students clammering for digital and HD services that we could just not offer with our current setup. We were also starting to get push-back from our content providers (Comcast, DirecTV, BigTen, etc) with them providing us analog services.

Our new design is completely digital up to each building.  We have to retain analog service for the many classrooms (and also students who brought in their analog televisions), but we are now also offering a digital/HD lineup that is a step in the right direction.  We launched the system with 4 QAM channels, featuring about 18 digital channels, and still having about 55 analog channels of programming.  We are in negotiations with various content providers to offer even more channels. 

The coolest thing about this new setup is it all GigE (gigabit ethernet) based.  In fact, the cable industry has pretty much settled on MPEG-2, MPEG-4 or H.264 as their standard to transport all video.  I can plug my laptop into any ethernet switch on my network an tune into the raw video feeds using a program that supports Multicast MPEG streams (such as VideoLAN).  Because the feeds are over ethernet the entire way, we don’t loose signal, or have to worry about attenuation going through various devices as we did in the past.

We ended up using equipment from a few vendors like Motorola, RGB and EGT.  All of them configure using a web browser, which is also cool. All this, coupled with a SlingBox, will allow our techs to maintain and work on our equipment without rolling a truck! 

So, now that project has taken place, I should be able to concentrate on doing more Flex/AIR and CF stuff. I’m hoping to integrate some of my new found knowledge of the video world into some of my future apps, so watch out!

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