Old 18th June 2004, 16:38   #1
mixx941
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Opinions on skipping/buffering

Hi everyone. I've been using SHOUTcast for many years, but this issue has got me stumped.

One of my best DJs, Dizzy Donmez has a lot of skips and buffers when doing a live show.

I have him stream in 64k to my live DJ server, I have my broadcast software listen to that stream, which streams out to my two broadcast servers.

We've ran several speed tests, and he has more than enough upstream for a 64k stream (around 256kbps up). I've also tried having him stream to a different live DJ server, just to ensure there wasn't a bad hop between him and the regular live DJ server...the same thing happened.

He isnt running any applications other than Winamp to stream, and X-Chat for our IRC channel. It's also a brand new computer. I'm not sure the specs of it, but he uses it for video editing, so it must be pretty good speed/ram wise.

I've never had anything like this happen, so I really dont have any more ideas other than what I've already told him. If you can think of anything to try, or if this sounds like a situation you've heard of before, please post with any opinions.

Thanks!

-Mark


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Last edited by mixx941; 18th June 2004 at 17:15.
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Old 20th June 2004, 19:15   #2
mixx941
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Friday night during his show, we ensured that nothing else was running than Winamp and X-Chat, and no other PC on the network was using any internet.

It was just about as bad as normal, alot of skips and buffers

Any ideas on this?


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Old 26th June 2004, 02:08   #3
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Alright, this week we tried with Oddcast, and it virturally eliminated the skipping problem (we even bumped the quality to 128k from 64k), but it disconnected him from the server alot (like every 2 minutes).

Any ideas?

-Mark


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Old 30th June 2004, 05:31   #4
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*Bump*

Any ideas?

-Mark


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Old 3rd July 2004, 01:30   #5
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Okay, tonight I had him uninstall Winamp 2.91 and install Winamp 5. This didnt fix the problem, it's just as bad as always.

Somebody, please help! This is my best show on the air and its almost to the point of not being enjoyable.

-Mark


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Old 4th July 2004, 16:51   #6
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quote "I have him stream in 64k to my live DJ server, I have my broadcast software listen to that stream, which streams out to my two broadcast servers."

Have him stream directly to one of your broadcast servers (and then relay that one) and see if that alleviates the problem. I've found that listening to a stream and rebroadcasting that (like you describe above) causes problems and is not stable.
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Old 4th July 2004, 18:31   #7
mixx941
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Thanks for the suggestion. However its confusing why none of my other DJs have any problems doing it my method. Also, as I had mentioned that when this DJ tries the SHOUTcast DSP, it skips and buffers alot, but when Oddcast can stay connected, its crystal clear and skip free.

I really dont like giving out the info to my main broadcast servers, so right now that's not going to work...I need my automation box to be there in case he drops, it can continue with programming instead of dead air.

Thanks for trying anyway

-Mark


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Old 6th July 2004, 19:15   #8
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have you done tracert's between his pc and your box to determine if packets are being dropped or if there is a high-latency router along the way?
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Old 10th July 2004, 02:32   #9
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Traceroute from me to him:

Quote:
1 0.0.0.0 unknown 2303ms
2 *.*.*.* adsl-*-*-*-*.dsl.spfdmo.swbell.net 40ms
3 151.164.88.130 dist1-vlan50.spfdmo.swbell.net 40ms
4 151.164.88.225 bb1-g1-3-0.spfdmo.swbell.net 40ms
5 151.164.242.78 unknown 40ms
6 151.164.40.41 bb2-p13-0.rcsntx.sbcglobal.net 50ms
7 151.164.40.33 ex1-p2-0.eqdltx.sbcglobal.net 50ms
8 68.105.30.9 dllsbbrc01-pos0302.rd.dl.cox.net 50ms
9 68.1.0.154 unknown 50ms
10 68.1.0.147 chndbbrc02-pos0103.rd.ph.cox.net 80ms
11 68.1.0.171 chnddsrc01-pos0201.rd.ph.cox.net 90ms
12 68.2.14.18 unknown 90ms
13 68.2.0.65 ip68-2-0-65.ph.ph.cox.net 100ms
14 68.*.*.** ip68-2-2-14.ph.ph.cox.net 110ms
I'm sure it could be packets being dropped, but I've tried having him connect to many other of my DJ servers around the country with more than enough upstream to handle it, and the same result. Also packet dropping doesnt explain why it sounds great with Oddcast

-Mark


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Old 21st August 2004, 01:26   #10
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Okay, heres an update on this. We're using Oddcast now, and it happens somewhat less, but still happens. Alot of skips and buffers still.

Does anyone have any additional ideas? I'd hate to have him to have to record his shows again

-Mark


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Old 6th September 2004, 02:15   #11
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Alright, I found another DJ who wants to be a part of my station. He lives in the same town, and is on the same ISP as Dizzy Donmez (Cox in Phoenix), who has been having the problem of this thread.

I started listening to the new DJ's trial show today, and it was fine for the first 5-10 minutes, as is Dizzy's.

Sure enough, after 10 minutes or so of smooth sailing, I start to hear a bunch of skips/buffers just like when Dizzy goes on.

Now I guess its down to the ISP, but what could it be? They both measure high on their speed tests, upwards of 400kbps.

-Mark


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Old 5th November 2004, 01:12   #12
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Last night i had my first remote DJ connect to my broadcast server. Streamed fine for quite a while.

Tonight, though, skips/buffers constantly. We're trying Oddcast and anything else we can find...

He's on a cable line, and it sounds like cable tech-support says their network is bogged down tonight.

But in your cast, when you switched to Oddcast for 10 flawless minutes...

Please share any other ideas or findings you have!

-JD
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Old 5th November 2004, 05:21   #13
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Well it's been all skippy/buffering ever since this thread. His internet connection isn't being raped but apparently it's routing somewhere from the cable company's office to his home studio.

The link on a traceroute shows good to their routers but from their routers to his premesis doesn't look too good.

He called them about it and they supposedly came out to "fix" it. We'll see tomorrow at 8pm eastern on the air to see, hopefully it did.

Other than that, not sure what to suggest

-Mark


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Old 5th November 2004, 09:41   #14
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Okay..

I can tell you WHY this is happening.. and what you can do to eliminate it....

1.. SCAN FOR SPYWARE! this is very important as any spyware on the DJ's computer will interfere with his cast...

2.. ELIMINATE the router! okay, at least insure that the router is properally set up.. or bypass it altogether routers are fast becoming the number one problem for streaming...

3... Turn off all P2P! peer 2 peer nodes work on the princaple of a "remote" list being displayed showing what on a local computer in the network.. even if the computer signs off the p2p network the list still REMAINS! What this means is that that computer will be "flooded" with "ack pings" of others "looking for files".. its advisable that all p2p activity is ceased at least 2 HOURS before your DJ begins casting.. this will allow the "file lists" enough time to "remove" the DJ's computer from the "active" list and eliminate the "ping DDoS" which will interfere with the cast..

4.. DIAABLE any IM programs IM programs often employ "internal spyware" or just simply "consume too much CPU" and this will interfere with a cast...

5.. IRC scripts some IRC scripts allow access to a user's computer.. and some more yet allow files to be uploaded/downloaded This is VERY bad for a cast! NEVER download/upload during a broadcast.. this will most-always insure a diaster!

Theres a lot of things that can cause a problem for a streaming broadcaster.. though spyware, routers and p2p are the worst... Also take into consideration that its the caster's UPLOAD speed that counts here.. this speed must be consistant- and don't forget the overhead! a 128k stream will need about 132k of upload bandwodth!

I hope this helps!

DjZ
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Old 5th November 2004, 13:11   #15
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Zath, thanks for the suggestions. Maybe I didnt post an update here (I dont know what I've posted where or talked to who about this anymore since it's been so long..) but nothing is running when he streams.

No other computers. Tried it bypassing his local router. AIM and everything closed just Winamp. He doesn't use P2P.

Another DJ in the exact same city on the exact same cable company has the exact same problems. It works fine for 5-10 minutes then takes a turn for the worst. I've had him try the same things in the past too, it doesn't help...so that means it has to be Cox in some way

I'm hoping whatever they did this last week will fix it for tonight's show.

-Mark


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Old 5th November 2004, 13:35   #16
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Oh COX!

I See.. Now that you have shed more light on the subject...

Something about Cox and Comcast cable service and casting...

These cable services install a "access trojan" onto their customers' computers.. When I lived in Chicago, it was ATTBI and they installed a trojan called CBLACS. CBLACS allowed them to remotely-disable applications which "consumed" large amounts of bandwidth.. This includes WINAMP! They can also REBOOT the machine remotely, and "lock out" NIC MAC addresses... I can tell you that CBLACS was a DLL file.. and it was made by Kefler Industries... This trojan was NASSSSSTY.. and, at the time, was very "invading" Since then, ATTBI was baught out by Comcast.. and I hear things are actually WORSE! Cox has been known for the same "dirty tricks" note: CBLACS now has a new name- which I don't know of what.. and the new trojan allows even greater control by the cable company of its users' computers! I hear some of you thinking "they CAN'T do that! thats illegal!" my advice to you is.. "read the TOS agreement VERY carefully!" If your DJ installed the "cable access software" hes in even bigger "trouble"!

Another thing to consider, is the "load" on cable internet connections- (ever see the commerical where the family waits till 4 in the morning to surf on their cable connection?) The problem with cable, is that everyone shares the SAME single input gateway (or group of gateways) located at the cable company's "front end".. Cable companies are NOTORIOUS for "overbooking" and since the advent of Peer2peer on cable networks, this problem has only gotten WORSE!

I would also recommend that he runs a TIGHTLY configured firewall Zone alarm at the least, but I recommend something more secure and robust such as Sygate or Norton.

DjZ
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Old 5th November 2004, 14:06   #17
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Yes... COX!

I had no idea that they installed trojans like that :shocked:. I used to be a cable user myself, I thought for the first couple years that everything was decent with it speed wise, but then the outages started happening. The day something important was supposed to go on it seemed, the cable would crap out. All they would say is a "problem with the line" and they needed to get a technician out here. They'd make me wait a few days, rendering my stations offline at their mercy.

I switched to DSL about six or seven months ago and the speeds are much better (3008/416), but the reliability hasn't been well either. For the first seven months or so (I'm on the 8th now I think) it was going out daily. Anywhere from 1 minute to 1 hour. They sent over 15 technicians out here and they could never find a problem. It still happens to this day (although not as frequent).

ANYWAY...Back to the streaming issue...

That's great information to know about the trojan, but how would the ability to shut down programs that use excessive bandwidth or reboot relate to this issue? Shutting down isn't skipping, and it doesn't drop much I don't think (or maybe it does and I have it queued in my playlist 50 times so it doesn't go on to another song).

I know exactly what you mean on the load thing. That's one thing I've noticed when switched back to DSL; that I have constant speeds. Cable was always fluxuating speeds, but now I have a pretty consistent speed. I'm not sure why this would be the cause for sure either, because every time we measure the speeds before or after a broadcast they look more than enough to handle the 128kbps stream.

I'll post back after tonight when I know if it still a problem.

-Mark

P.S. Not to 'spam' the boards but you can tune in to the station at 8pm eastern (http://www.mixx941.com/listen) and see what I mean. The DJ's name is Dizzy Donmez and goes on right about that time.


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Old 5th November 2004, 14:10   #18
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I have some ideas:

Most speedtests report an average rate over what is normally a short period of time -- A source feed works a bit differently in that it attempts to provide a fixed rate over a long period of time. To see the difference [and really debug this issue], you would have to graph the rate on the source box every second or so to see if the source is able to maintain the rate or if it bursts. A raw test is just not the best way to debug your specific issue.

The TCP settings on the source or on the destination may also have something to do with this issue -- Specifically RWIN on the destination and the Send Buffer on the source -- While the source send buffer can not be configured with a setting, certain applications can tweak this parameter. With respect to this issue, I would have the source broadcast to a local DNAS that you can then relay -- You would do this because the DNAS may modify the send buffer:

; MetaInterval specifies how often, in bytes, metadata sent.
; You should really leave this at the default of 8192, but the option is
; provided anyway.
MetaInterval=8192


I think this modifies the Window -- Another value that may be useful is:

; Sleep defines the granularity of the client threads for sending data.
; DNAS 1.7.0, per client thread, will send up to 1,024 bytes of data
; per socket (or less depending on the window available), and then
; sleep for the provided duration before repeating the whole process.
; Note that making this value smaller will vastly increase CPU usage on
; your machine. Increasing reduces CPU, but increasing this value too far
; will cause skips. The value which seems most optimal for 128kbps
; streaming is 833 (833 microseconds per client poll) on our test labs.
; We wouldn't recommend setting it any lower than 100, or any higher than
; 1,024. If you have a slower machine, set this number lower to fix
; skips.
; Default value is 833.
Sleep=200


If you really want to get to the bottom of the issue, you need to use tools locally to find out what is really going on -- The WinXP task manager can display network activity [bytes sent/recieved] in real time and the refresh rate can be made fast enough to graph the progress with very good detail.

Another thing I would look at is the router and specifically it's settings with respect to MTU -- some routers modify MTU such that fragmentation occurs that fails often, causing the effective rate of any transfer to be half of what it should be -- this may or may not show up in a web based test as the error will occur at the router and be counted on the source PC -- examine netstat -s | more and look for rapidly increasing IP Fragmentation errors, and TCP Segments Retransmitted increasing rapidly while the source is active and an overall count at more than 10% of the Segments Sent.

Cable has a reputation for having near-neighbor congestion problems that are sometimes related to time-of-day -- They can be worked around by tweaking the reciveing end RWIN to a smaller value [8-16Kbytes], but it does take some experimentation.

I'll leave it at this, but I believe the differential TCP tweaking done by the two source apps accounts for the different behavior, but it appears that they don't take it far enough to totally eliminate [workaround] the issue.
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Old 5th November 2004, 14:27   #19
mixx941
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Thanks for the response djSpinnerCee.

I'll explain once more how it's currently set up in case you don't want to read the whole thread.

Dizzy (in Phoenix, AZ on Cox cable) has a SHOUTcast Winamp plugin set to stream to my DJ server (which is not the main servers). He streams it to my server on one of my Linux boxes, and then another computer on my network running SAM listens to that stream and relays it to the main server.

I suppose I could try making those modifications to my local DJ server's config file and trying, since it would be easier to do than trying to walk him through setting up a DNAS server locally at his studio.

Thanks for bringing this thread back. Let's hope tonight is a success.

-Mark


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Old 5th November 2004, 15:02   #20
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In that case. you're right -- Especially since you're running Linux, tuning the TCP stack is much easier and more flexible.

On the DJ server box, I would modify the SO_RECIEVEBUF [I think that's the name] to something like 5*MSS [MSS=MTU-40] -- Make it small so that the DJ source will only send a small amount of data to be ACKed at a time -- What you're trying to do is optimize the link for a 64kbps [8kBytes/sec], and eliminate the effect that high latency and a possibly intermittent high round-trip time can have on the source-to-DNAS connection. Then go large [32K,64K] on the Window, and make a note of the difference, if any.

I'm not sure how the DNAS settings will effect the relationship to the source as I think they operate on the client connections [in your case the SAM] more than anything else.

What you want to diagnose is if the source is under-running... If it's so bad that you get a source idle timeout, you may want to increase the timeout value in the DNAS.

; AutoDumpSourceTime specifies how long, in seconds, the source stream is
; allowed to be idle before the server disconnects it. 0 will let the source
; stream idle indefinately before disconnecting. The default is 30.
AutoDumpSourceTime=600


The DJ running the DSP should also open the TaskManager and check the Network stat graph, if they have XP [if not they would could use the Win PerfMon configured to list the interface stats], looking for a close to straight line for bytes sent/interval if all is good and a peaky line if the connection is bursting. What the DJ wouldn't expect to see is the graph go from 0 to much more than the 8kbytes very often. The CPU graph and process list is useful as well -- The WinAMP should not be using more than 20% CPU and the overall should not be reaching 100% for long periods of time. I'm assuming that the DJ is using a LineIn source and not a playlist[?].

There's only going to be so much you can do on the DNAS end if the problem is on the source box, but you may be able to minimize the source issues so that you can get the stream sans skipping.
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Old 5th November 2004, 18:36   #21
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Quote:
Originally posted by djSpinnerCee
On the DJ server box, I would modify the SO_RECIEVEBUF [I think that's the name] to something like 5*MSS [MSS=MTU-40] -- Make it small so that the DJ source will only send a small amount of data to be ACKed at a time -- What you're trying to do is optimize the link for a 64kbps [8kBytes/sec], and eliminate the effect that high latency and a possibly intermittent high round-trip time can have on the source-to-DNAS connection. Then go large [32K,64K] on the Window, and make a note of the difference, if any.
SO_RECIEVEBUF is what exactly? Is it a setting in the D.N.A.S config or a system setting? I would look and not ask but I'm not at my main workstation right now.

Also, what do you mean by "On The Window".

By the way, the stream is a 128kbps stream. I've had the DJ streaming to my server in 96k recently to hopefully minimize the skips in case of an actual internet upload speed issue(which then SAM would still output to main server in 128).

Thanks for the ongoing information. I'll try the settings that you suggested when I get back to my main workstation and pray for the best tonight and for shows to come.

-Mark


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Old 6th November 2004, 02:51   #22
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OK Tonight's show just ended. I tried the "Sleep" option (changed it to 950) and that and the combined work by Cox last week probably made a difference.

It was somewhat better, not skipping as frequently but it was still not very good. It buffered a lot towards the end, not so much in the beginning (of course all buffers through the song I wanted to hear ).

Anything else that comes to mind please let me know.

-Mark


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Old 7th November 2004, 12:41   #23
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Hi..

You can try having the remote DJ log into a "proxy" server.. That is, a server on a backbone somewhere.. then you pull off that server into your own box.. Then back out to the main servers.. This helps "eliminate" any backup packet losses as it adds "buffer" to the inital DJ's feed.

NOTE:
This method will add a consider amount of "delay" to the DJ-to-input feed, but as long as you aren't "feeding back" to him, this won't be a problem. Just be aware that any changes he makes (song changes, mic/VOs etc) will be delayed before you hear them...

DjZ
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Old 7th November 2004, 15:10   #24
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So by a "proxy server" basically you mean any server in a datacenter with good backbones and bandwidth then?

If so then I do have access to a few boxes on very good premium bandwidth. I'm not sure if it'll make a difference but I can surely give it a try. Here is the traceroutes from one of the servers to his IP (note some IP's blocked out)

Quote:
traceroute to ip68-104-1**-**.ph.ph.cox.net (68.104.1**.**), 64 hops max, 44 byte packets
1 209.51.***.*** (209.51.***.***) 0.513 ms 0.458 ms 0.451 ms
2 209.51.***.** (209.51.***.**) 0.250 ms 0.273 ms 0.239 ms
3 ***-***-5*m*r-cored.******.net (209.51.***.**) 0.404 ms 0.338 ms 0.272 ms
4 ge-5-2-142.hsa2.Atlanta1.Level3.net (4.78.210.5) 0.404 ms 0.389 ms 0.257 ms
5 ge-6-1-1.bbr1.Atlanta1.Level3.net (64.159.3.13) 0.619 ms 0.489 ms 0.523 ms
6 so-0-0-0.mp1.Phoenix1.Level3.net (64.159.3.213) 42.183 ms so-0-1-0.mp2.Phoenix1.Level3.net (64.159.1.122) 42.341 ms 42.351 ms
7 so-10-0.hsa1.Phoenix1.Level3.net (4.68.113.242) 42.481 ms so-9-0.hsa1.Phoenix1.Level3.net (4.68.113.254) 42.450 ms so-10-0.hsa1.Phoenix1.Level3.net (4.68.113.242) 42.360 ms
8 COX-ENTERPRI.hsa1.Level3.net (64.154.128.30) 55.934 ms 55.528 ms 55.609 ms
9 chnddsrc01-pos0201.rd.ph.cox.net (68.1.0.171) 55.635 ms 55.548 ms 55.768 ms
10 chndsysr01-gew1203.rd.ph.cox.net (68.2.14.26) 55.590 ms 55.805 ms 55.652 ms
11 ip68-2-0-61.ph.ph.cox.net (68.2.0.61) 56.096 ms 55.984 ms 56.008 ms
12 ip68-2-2-14.ph.ph.cox.net (68.2.2.14) 56.346 ms 56.347 ms 55.972 ms
13 * * *
14 * * *
15 * * *
16 * * *
It never does make it to his final IP address, just keeps going on to 17,18,19, etc. Maybe its because of his router, not sure.

Also, he mentioned to me Friday night something that could make a difference; he's using a wireless router. Could the wireless be causing interference and conjection enough to do that? It's doubtful since a different DJ of mine on the same ISP of Cox in the same town of Phoenix has the exact same problem, but anything is worth a shot at this point.

Thanks

-Mark


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Old 7th November 2004, 16:46   #25
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ROUTER!

thats the "magic" word here..

Get him to connect DIRECTLY to the internet without the router and see if he sk-sk-sk-sk-skips...

a mis-configured (or CHEAP) router can cause SEVERE skipping problems and MOST DEFINATELY if theres others io the LAN network!

DjZ
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Old 7th November 2004, 16:53   #26
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Wireless presents different issues -- there are problems when using the MS Wireless Zero Config where every 5 minutes or so the wireless PC will drop the wireless connection and re-associate like clockwork. Also certain wireless card software has performance issues that may not be noticeable during browsing [getting small objects], but that may reveal themselves during the sustained connection requirements of a large file download or a source stream upload.

I would say that a wired connection to the router for the DJs PC may make all the difference.
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Old 18th November 2004, 02:04   #27
mixx941
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Join Date: Jul 2002
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Eliminated the router, skip free for 30+ minutes. He's so happy hes doing a special mid-week live set now.

Dizzy Donmez In The Mix: http://www.mixx941.com/listen

Thanks for the suggestions. I guess it was a mixture of Cox coming out and eliminating the router. Thanks to all

-Mark


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