Wednesday, 27 June 2007

All is working again.

We think that we found the problem ... and fixed it. There have however been several power cuts over the past few hours and one of our brand new UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply) has failed. WE are going to get a new one sent down with Nick and Helen when they go back to Djuma on Saturday. They will also be taking in the repaired cameras, which arrived in Johannesburg this morning.

Network problems and the apology screen.

WE seem to have a bit of a problem. Our router at Djuma that allows us to send the stream to Pretoria, where all of our viewers log on, appears to be intermittently failing. It began on Saturday after we moved our final control, but the router was never moved. We are not really sure exactly what the problem is, but we will definitely find the gremlin and resolve it as soon as possible.

We are getting closer to a better distribution system everyday. Telkom Media are now beginning a procurement process which will allow them to select the final provider. It has taken a long time and all of us at WildEarth and Telkom Media are aware of your frustrations, but rest assured that we are working hard to put a system in place that can cope with vast traffic and will result in every person who wants to watch WildEarth being able to do so. Furthermore, there is a lot of effort being put in behind the scenes to build not just a world class distribution network, but also redundant connections to the bush, which will ensure that we are always LIVE and potentially some significant content improvements ....

Stay positive and not only will you get what you want, but far more than you ever dreamed. We have been doing this for almost 10 years now and promise to always do our best to bring you into the wild ... LIVE.

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

WE are back....!

WE are sorry that we have not posted to our blog for the last few days, but all of us at WildEarth have been working extremely hard to lay fibre optic cable, move our final control, upgrade our game drive transmission system and build a new generator house.

Over the weekend we did miss a few drives and for that we are very sorry. Normally we work very hard to make sure we depart on time for both our game drives every day. There are still a few small issues that persist like; the video out connector on our new camera has broken after just one week and has now been sent to Johannesburg for repair. (seems like the cameras just can't take the rough African conditions that WE put them through). James has let us use his camera while the new one is fixed. James is a big wave surfer and mechanical engineer that has come to the camp for two weeks to help install all the new systems. You will also see his work on the drives as he is also an accomplished camera man.

Very few of the upgrades will be noticeable to you, which is unfortunate. most of them centre around improved network performance and resilience to lightning and power cuts. However, the biggest upgrade, while not visible, is an increased traversing area because of a better transmission system from the game drive vehicle. This means that we can drive further from camp and still get a perfect signal back. This will definitely mean more exciting sightings. The other big change is that we moved our final control from Jurie and Pippa's (the owners of Djuma) office down to our camp. While this won't have any visible effect it has certainly made life for our crew easier ... and a happy crew means better TV.

Finally, some of our upgrades, like the fibre optic cable and the generators, will only make a difference when summer comes and brings the big rains with their very destructive lightning storms. WE will now be able to carry on bringing you your fix of Africa that much more regularly.

Also, over the next few weeks you should see a steady improvement in our Infra Red camera work after the sun goes down on the landy. WE are experimenting with different lights, lenses and processes ... but like every aspect of our broadcast, the one thing you can always be assured of is that we will never give up in our quest to bring the African wilderness LIVE into your life ... it's in our nature.

Saturday, 23 June 2007

Drive cancelled.....

The drive this afternoon (Saturday 23rd June) has unfortunately been cancelled. The relocation of the FCC is taking longer than we thought. WE apologise for this but hope you understand that it is important for us to get all the equipment in properly and not rush it. The drive will be as normal tomorrow morning at 06.30.
Thanks for your support.

Relocating the Final Control......

This is just to let you know that after this drive (morning of Saturday 23rd June) has finished, the WildEarth system will be down for a couple of hours as we relocate our Final Control Centre (FCC) back to our camp. A big thank you to Pippa and Jurie for allowing us to use their office after the great lightening strikes a few weeks ago. The fibre optics are now all in the ground and therefore we should never be bothered by lightning again. Also the new power systems that have been installed will stop us going down if there is a power cut. Finally we are still working on the content distribution network (CDN) and will hopefully be able to give you some news on this over the next week.

Thank you again for all of your support

Monday, 18 June 2007

An awesome lion sighting at last!

Wow, did we have a great drive this morning or what?
Lions, hyena, elephant and buffalo! The lions have been fairly scarce and when Pieter and Jan headed out this morning to find where the buffalo herd had slept last night they were surprised to suddenly have hyena and then lion on a small carcass, probably a buffalo calf.
The new camera is in and working, Nick and Helen are on leave in Johannesburg, and all is on track for our week of upgrades to begin from Wednesday.
Enjoy the drives, they are leaving currently at 6h30 (CAT) and 15h00 (CAT) everyday.

Saturday, 16 June 2007

The dreaded apology screen!

Since yesterday morning WE have not been able to connect to the server in Pretoria. The network line between Djuma and Pretoria has been down. This line is made up of a few microwave links from Djuma to Acornhoek via Hluvukani and then a long series of fibre optic connections that go through Bushbuck Ridge, Hazyview, Nelspruit and eventually to Pretoria. The fault has been reported and we are sure that Telkom are working hard to reestablish the line.

WE don't know when it will come back on, but it doesn't usually take too long. One of the upgrades that we are working on is to put in a second redundant connection between Djuma and Pretoria that follows a different path. This will then dramatically reduce the chances of not getting a stream out to you.

Hang in there ... WE'll be back soon!!

Friday, 15 June 2007

Camera never made it!!

Well despite everyones best efforts WE did not manage to get our new camera to the WildEarth crew at Djuma yesterday. The camera got onto the plane that left from Johannesburg and spent the whole of yesterday flying around the Sabi Sands, but never made it to Djuma. It will now be taken down by Jan when he goes back to work after his holiday. He will be leaving Johannesburg tomorrow morning and will be arriving at Djuma late in the evening. So the camera will be on the Sunday morning drive. All of us at WildEarth extend a big thank you to Jurie for lending us his personal video camera so that WE can keep on going.

Nick and Helen go on holiday for two weeks starting on Sunday, so they will be missing all the trenching that will be going on next week. WE are upgrading to a fibre optic network that will connect the Gowrie waterhole, the game drive receiver, and all our other systems through to the final control. Next week there is going to be a lot of work behind the scenes and WildEarth will probably be down for a few hours on Thursday while we move our final control, but we will let you know closer to the time.
The drives have been a lot shorter than usual and this is due to the fact that the batteries on the camera that we are currently using do not last very long. From Sunday morning WE will however be back to normal. Thank you all for your understanding while we sort out these issues.

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Game drive camera trouble!!

The Sony PD150 that we use on the game drive vehicle has developed a bad connection on it's video out port. This has probably happened because of the constant bumping and vibration that the camera is subjected to on safari. As a result WE have been loosing video from the game drive vehicle and have had to shorten the last few drives for which we are sorry.
WE have temporarily borrowed a video camera from Djuma and will be putting a new camera on a flight to Djuma, from Johannesburg, as soon as we can organise a flight.
You may have noticed that we have been having trouble with our sound from the waterholes. Well we have been struggling to find the exact cause of the problem, but it seems to be getting better ... on its own (a bit worrying!)
WE are going to be doing quite a few behind the scenes upgrades starting on Wednesday next week. These upgrades are designed to not only improve the number of simultaneous streams that we can serve, but also improve the video and audio quality that we broadcast. WE will keep you updated on these improvements.
WildEarth does hear you, the viewer, and WE sympathise with the frustrations you are having trying to get onto the game drive. Ultimately your patience will be rewarded and WE promise that we will never stop endeavouring to bring you the best possible LIVE wildlife experience. Your patience and understanding is appreciated.

Sunday, 10 June 2007

Every one to have a chance!!!

Soon we will have a content distribution network (CDN) which will enable many more viewers to access our game drives on a daily basis. In the mean time we have noticed that people are staying logged on for extended periods of time even when not at their computers. This is preventing other viewers from watching. Therefore, before each drive we will reset the video server thereby giving everyone a chance to access the 80 available slots.

Good luck and we hope you now get to join to get us on safari.

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

At last Buffelshoek is working!

We installed the camera at Buffelshoek Dam in September of 2006. This was a long time before we actually went LIVE on the internet. Throughout the summer while we were preparing to bring you WildEarth, Buffelshoek was abundant with buffalo and elephant. The marula trees then started to fruit and the elephant action was huge. One young bull elephant found it terribly amusing to constantly dig up and pull out all our cabling and equipment. As a result we didn't have Buffelshoek when we went LIVE.
After spending a great deal of time and money repairing his damage only to have him keep coming back and doing it all again, we decided we needed to out smart the elephant.....
We buried our set of cables deep in the ground and above them we put in a fake cable pipe. This worked like a charm. He had something to play with and we had our camera working. Even now, every week or two we still have to go and make sure that his toy pipe is available.
Once again thanks for all of your support and we hope that you enjoy the new waterhole camera.

Saturday, 2 June 2007

Power problems!

We have been informed that there will be lengthy power cuts today (2nd June) and tomorrow. We are installing a much larger UPS (Uninterupted Power Supply) in our Final Control, which will provide us with about 3 hours of standby time. Most power cuts are quite short lived and usually over in less than 3 hours. So hopefully most of our power problems will be behind after the weekend.

Telkom Media and WildEarth have almost completed our various preperations necessary to deploying our new CDN (Content Distribution Network). WE cannot say exactly when, but promise that it won't be long and it will certainly be worth the wait. Not only will an additional 1000 viewers be able to simultaneously access the stream, but there should be either no buffering or very little at all. At the same time you will get a significant improvement in the actual video and audio quality.

Pieter and Hayley are back from leave and I think that Nick deserves a big 'thank you' for doing all the drives over the past two weeks. Jan goes on a two week break from Monday, but not until he gets the control of the Buffelshoek Cam working again.