24 February 2009

GMANS.net Requesting Sponsorship Donations To Support The Live Scanner Feeds

Well, it's all you hear in the news these days... the economy is in a downturn, stocks are tanked, your 401k or other life's savings investments are hemorrhaging $100 bills, prices on just about everything are up, food, gasoline, your utilities, etc., etc... Unfortunately it's all as true as the painful pinch we are all feeling from it in our backsides (the wallet area to be exact) and the NKNOC Labs and GMANS.net are no different here. Until the Pennsylvania Lottery Commission decides to cooperate with us in a more favorable fashion and inform us that our Powerball numbers are worth more than the paper they're printed on, we are under the crunch along with most everyone else.

Since 04 July 2005, GMANS.net has been broadcasting the scanner audio of the Westmoreland County 800Mhz TRS over the Internet in live streaming feeds, free to anyone that cares to listen... and we have been pleased to do it. What began a long time ago as a curious blend of hobbies in mixing radios with computers and to simply make sound go from "here" to "there" along the information highway just for fun, has now grown into a multi-thousand dollar broadcasting system made up of expensive scanners, antennas, computers, servers, audio processing and recording gear, software, and of course a dedicated broadband WAN connection that allows us to share the feeds with every place on the planet that has "the Internet". Pretty cool right..? Well, yes.. very cool until the monthly bills arrive, and/or some piece of equipment needs upgraded, repaired or replaced, not to mention all of the time required to maintain everything in order to keep the feeds running smoothly 24/7/365 Live! for your listening pleasure. Our feeds (TeamSpeak, Icecast/Windows Media and the new Audio/Video) have a combined average of over one hundred listeners at any given time of the day or night! The bittersweet story there is that as much fun as it is sharing the feeds with literally hundreds of people, many from WestmoCo listening to what's going on in the county (and maybe even their neighborhood)... it's not much fun in bearing the weight of all the costs alone. The sad ending to that story is that if costs ultimately become more than we can handle, we would have to discontinue the live feeds, as we will never charge listeners a fee to hear the broadcasts in order to support their operation. Some will even tell you that is not legal anyway, but that's another blog story for another time...

For the reasons above, GMANS.net has begun to ask for a little help in carrying the load. If you enjoy listening to the live Westmoreland County scanner feeds that we provide and don't want to see them go away, please consider making a small donation that will go directly toward the operating costs of keeping the feeds up and running. Many of our listeners log in on a daily basis, some even staying connected 24/7 so as not to miss anything (and that's fine), so we know that there would be many unhappy users if the feeds had to go silent. Consider the comparison of making a small donation versus having to purchase a $500.00 digital scanner to stay tuned in, and it would only work where you could receive the finicky 800Mhz signal. The live feeds work from anywhere that has a PC and the Internet.

The great thing to realize about the popularity of the feeds is that with the high numbers of steady users, if every listener gave a single dollar, we could comfortably fund the feeds for quite a while. Now of course the idea of every user donating likely won't happen (feel free to prove me wrong there folks!), but even if 1/4 to 1/2 of our users contributed something, we would still be able to easily stay 'on the air'. The point is that it doesn't require donating any large amount, although that would be fantastic, just a $10-$25 contribution will make a huge difference. If you listen to our feeds and think that it would be a sad thing to have them disappear, please lend your support to the live broadcasts by giving whatever you can afford in a donation.

We've made that very easy to do by using the safe and secure PayPal system, so you can use your PayPal account if you are a member (free and easy to sign up), or if not, you can simply use one of your credit cards like you would when making any online purchase. Please log on to our web site at www.GMANS.net, and click the PayPal 'Donate' button on the main page and follow the instructions. It's fast, easy, and safe.

Join those who have already decided that losing the live feeds would be a sad thing and have made their contribution to support them. Everyone making a donation has the option of having their names displayed on our "WestmoCo Live Scanner Feed Supporters" page on our web site if desired. Use the 'Sponsor List' button on our menu to see who has shown their support by donating.

We would like to thank EVERYONE who made a donation to the live feeds so far..!

Please give it some thought... We're counting on you..!

Scan on... and stay safe out there.

Thanks for reading.

16 February 2009

GMANS.net Web Site Updated and the G-Blog is Back

Well, it's been quite a while since the last time I was able to take a few minutes to post an update here. Let me wipe the dust off of this blog and then post a few news items...

OK... first and foremost, the GMANS.net web site has undergone several new modifications/additions over the past week or so, most are visually noticable with the main item being the new streaming audio/video scanner feed of the Westmoreland County DPS 800Mhz TRS page. This is actually our 3rd live WestmoCo scanner feed now, running via Windows Media Player (or equivalent) WME9 format behind our existing TeamSpeak and Icecast versions. All three carry the exact same audio, so don't stress over which one you should use to listen. You can use one, a pair, or all of the above. We have been receiving many good reports so far about the new feed that runs the visual of active TalkGroups and Radios using the system as you listen. This began as an experimental project and is still undergoing a bit of tweaking here/there, but if it works out and it's popularity with listeners (and now viewers..!!) remains high enough, it just may become a permanent fixture. Many users like it, but also still like the community feel of TeamSpeak in being able to 'see' each other in the channels, and use the text chat feature that allows listeners to get text updates in the chat window on working incidents and then interact and discuss those incidents as they happen. TeamSpeak can also boast having 70 channels to choose from as well. These are exclusive TeamSpeak features and really can't be reproduced in any other audio streaming format such as the Icecast or WME9 versions. Conversely, TeamSpeak has no way to display the active TalkGroups (TAC channels) or Radio ID's like WME9. This is why one really can't replace the other and will likely both co-exist side-by-side (so to speak) for the duration, as long as I can maintain the equipment required.

Next... The 'GuestBook' and 'Contact Us' pages have finally been reactivated, after being down for quite some time after the NKNOC was moved into it's new location. So, PLEASE take a moment to sign the GuestBook by clicking its button on the menu bar at left when you get a chance. Let us know how we're doing.. We would love to hear from you. Also, if you need to contact us directly in a more private setting, please feel free to use the 'Contact Us' button on the menu to get in touch. We will receive your message directly and if a response is required, we will try and get back to you as soon as we can.

There are a few other changes, but mostly cosmetic things, so not really worthy of pointing out here. You'll see those as you explore the site. One last thing I will mention is that there are a few new photos of the radio/computer control room here at the NKNOC, so take a look if you want to see where all of this originates from. Well, most of it anyway...

Alright.. that's it for the first one back.. don't want to over-do it..! Until next time...

Take care.. stay safe.
I'm out.