The Streema Blog

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We’re about a month away from the next Olympic Games which will be held in London.  For those that didn’t know, London will become the first city to host the Olympic Games three times - the two previous being 1908 and 1948.

The 2012 Summer Olympic Games will start on July 27th and end on August 12th, where 205 nations will compete in 26 sports divided into 39 disciplines.  This will be followed by the 2012 Paralympic Games, from August 29th to September 9th, where 147 nations will take part in the competition.

The excitement generated by the Olympics is worldwide and it will be followed globally through TV, Radio, Newspapers... and of course, the Web. The media has traditionally played a significant role in this event, although one can say that this role has evolved a lot since the last time the Olympics were held in London!

Once again, the BBC will be the main broadcaster providing a special program from July 25th to August 13th, and in addition, many UK radio stations will follow the event, a few of which follow below:

We look forward to see an amazing show, where athletes value progress over victory, respect over rivalry, and motivation over fear. We also hope the best for your favorite countries, athletes and disciplines. :)

Stay tuned!

The Streema Team

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A few times people have asked us about Streema with questions such as: are you guys a radio? are you a streaming services provider? We'll answer these questions and a few more, so fasten your seat belts cause we're going Behind the Streams. :)

To start off, we like to say that Streema is a social networking site for radio listeners - a big part of our service is to connect listeners and radio stations through the Internet. There are many stations that stream online, ranging from the very big stations that are part of a big corporation to the very small ones run by one person as a hobby. In order to make it easier for listeners to find these great stations, we created Streema. So, we are not a radio station, rather we are like your car's radio tuner, which can tune to all publicly available stations, but we do it for the web and with a social angle to it.

Additionally, radio stations, big and small, stream their content via third party providers that take care of all the technical stuff, offering a publicly available stream, while the stations themselves focus on the content: music, talk and sports mostly. We're not streaming content providers, but we do allow the listener to tune in to those streams provided by these third party services.

To summarize, Streema is not a radio station nor do we host nor stream content provided by the radio stations. However, we do organize all this information and provide a platform where people can tune in, discover and share their favorite radio stations, and in the future we'd love to build a global platform for radio stations to help them understand, learn from, and grow their own audiences.

We hope we've addressed some of these questions and that you continue enjoying a great listening experience on Streema. :)

Stay tuned!

The Streema Team

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In the last few months there have been a couple of conferences and events in the US (SXSW, RAIN Summit and Digital Music Forum East, to name a few) where many media industry leaders have been presenting their research and recent developments. The numbers are really positive for radio listening, so we wanted to share some of them with you. Bear in mind all these stats are for the US market, but they do show a trend that we believe is happening around the world too.

To start off, the report The Infinite Dial 2012 from Arbitron, the media & marketing research firm, shares a bit of data around the number of radio listeners out there:

Weekly online radio audience reaches an estimated 57 million people; audience doubled every five years since 2001.

When we talk about behaviour, TargetSpot, the digital audio advertising network, presented the First Digital Audio Advertising Research, a report that contained some interesting pieces of information, such as:

- 80% of internet radio audience listens for 1-3 hours per day, 40% listening 1-2 hours per session.

- 61% of listeners don’t keep player minimized, 64% often check the player for song/artist info. - this was added by TargetSpot's CEO at the RAIN Summit.

- 73% of Internet radio listeners change stations stations multiple times a day.

Finally, based on Jacobs Media’s TechSurvey8, the most popular applications in the US are:

Pandora is the most popular pure-play Internet option, with 45% of “streamies” listening, topping competitors like iHeartRadio (19%), Spotify (7%), TuneIn Radio (7%) and Slacker Radio (5%). Its users are split as to whether internet pure play is actually considered “radio”: 43% said yep, 49% said nope. Listeners to alternative, Contemporary Christian, country, CHR and Variety Hits are more likely to consider Pandora “radio.”

That’s all for now!  Hope you find this data optimistic and relevant - we certainly do think it’s good news for Streema. :)

Stay tuned!

The Streema Team

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Starting late last year, at Streema we've been working hard to improve the website's uptime and performance - nothing is more annoying than a tech service or device when it doesn't respond, right?

So we wanted to give you guys a quick update on this, but before we start, though, two important definitions:

Response Time: The interval between a request that enters and the answer that is received. In this case it’s the page load time, i.e. the time to retrieve the HTML page (without images, stylesheets, JavaScript, etc.). So, although it could be below a hundred ms (milliseconds), as a user, it could translate into seconds to load a complete page.

Downtime: It is the period when the system is unavailable, i.e. the period you wait, mostly doing nothing, and if it goes above what you expected, you start hitting your computer or anything around you, in addition to shouting out phrases such as “come on!”, “ahhhh” or others that we can’t publish right here. :)

So, we’re happy to share with you that we’ve reduced our Response Time almost by a half and the number of Downtimes by about 75%. Even better, some of the Downtimes we had before took hours, now they are less than 10 minutes - additionally, now they only happen because of our own updates to our site and not because of infrastructure problems!

For those techies out there, here’s a quick summary of what we’ve been doing to get results:

  • Increase the number of servers and balance the load with Nginx.
  • Improve the database setup to take advantage of the servers memory.
  • Rewrite many SQL queries, specially the ones that requested temporal tables on the hard drive.
  • Change the configuration of the Apache modwsgi and increase the number of processes to serve requests.

Finally, regarding the tools we've been using, the main ones were: Apache's Server Status, Munin, New Relic, Percona Tools and Pingdom.

We're planning to continue developing our performance infrastructure - and we hope you continue visiting Streema. :)

Stay tuned!

The Streema Team

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For a change, this month’s post is from our IT team! We wanted to give you a little sneak peek of the technology that Streema runs on as well as pay due respects to some really well known open source initiatives that make our service possible.

So, we use a ton of open source software*, and while each one has its special role in the Streema universe, there’s a couple we wanted to mention in today’s post. Many of our readers might not be aware of it, but most of our software is built with the Python Programming Language and our web application with the Django Framework. In our experience, they both have proven to be great choices for many reasons, among which we can include a great community, a large amount of available open source libraries and modules, and an elegant and pragmatic design.

Going into more detail, we recently upgraded to Django 1.3 and Python 2.7 as part of an ongoing effort of modernizing our stack and automatizing our processes. When you have a site that’s visited by an interesting amount of users each day (thank you everyone, do keep coming back!), such a change can’t be taken lightly. Thorough testing must be done to correct errors that might spring from the migration. All in all, the migration went pretty smoothly - in big part thanks to how well thought out Python and Django are, but also thanks to a good suite of automated tests we’ve built over time. Though our users might not see any noticeable changes, this upgrade will help us continue making our service better, faster, and stronger than ever.

Thanks again to the vibrant Python and Django communities (and the communities of the rest of the many open source softwares we use).

Stay tuned for more news and insight on the technical details of Streema. We might have an interesting thing or two to share!

------------------------
* The list is definitely not exhaustive: Apache, Nginx, Munin, MySQL, Redis, Eventlet, Fabric, MongoDB, SQLite, MooTools, Mplayer and of course, WordPress.org for this blog. =)

Powered by Django.

Python Programming Language

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It has been a few weeks with a lot of buzz around copyrights and the Internet. Many of us have read about SOPA and/or PIPA, and as many people asked us about our opinion, we wanted to share it.

We believe in copyrights, and the right anyone has to receive royalties for work they've done: sound, video, literature or any kind of expression of art or science, among others. We also truly believe in freedom, the total absence of coercion, as the ultimate expression of human development, and how it is non-negotiable. And we also believe in balance, and when we say balance, we mean a solution that can suit the different parts that affect a system - in this case, creators and consumers.

The truth is technology is moving fast, and even though it doesn't solve all of the world's problems, it does generally provide better chances to learn and live. The Internet is part of this technological trend, and as with every technology in the past, it's changing the economic and social model that we live by. At the end of the day, the truth is that we all have to adapt to this new reality - creators, consumers, media companies, and any other related entities.

As it stands now, SOPA and/or PIPA may not pass, but it's important to still be aware of this for the future. More than ever, we need to have an appropriate legislation that will give us protection as well as the freedom to choose, learn and understand.

Stay tuned!

The Streema Team

PS: If you feel you want to know more about the implications of SOPA and PIPA, check out the following video, it's one of the best explanations we've found recently:

In addition, here are two interesting blog posts from well respected personalities in the technology industry:

An Open Letter to Pearson about SOPA/PIPA by Martin Fowler

It’s time to stop PROTECT IP by Matt Cutts

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Hi! It's getting close to the end of 2011 and we can't believe how quickly the last 12 months have gone by! This year has been a busy and rocking one for us, with improvements to our site Streema.com, our first steps in mobile, a growing community of users, and a growing team of awesome people.

Before the year is over though, we wanted to thank all of you that have been there with us - family, friends, colleagues, and of course, you, our community of radio listeners. Thanks for the support.

We wish you a wonderful Holiday Season and a great start in 2012 - see you in the new year!

Yours truly,
The Streema Team

PS: A small present from a man who knows to rock!

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Over the past year we've noticed a very important increase in mobile browser users, specifically on the Android platform.  We thought, how could we cater to these users?  While obviously an Android app would probably do the trick, the truth is that given how mobile has evolved - and is evolving - then it might be simpler for us and for users to be able to interact with a mobile-friendly version of our site.

So, we started experimenting.

One interesting fact is that many of our mobile users tune in via the radio station profiles, so we decided to start there and adapt these pages for the Android browser.  Additionally, we included a mobile search box as well as a list of "Featured Radios", since not all the stations can be played through the Android browser.  Unfortunately, only stations with MP3 stream can be played for now, but we're hoping that will change in the future.

As for the technical details, if you're interested, the whole front-end was developed using JQuery Mobile. This is a powerful framework that will make it easy to export the User Interface to other platforms such as iOS, Blackberry, Nokia... you can see the complete list here.

Hope you enjoy our first very small step in mobile and do expect new announcements soon!

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Today we want to send out a quick update about three user experience improvements we've released:

Search

We've improved our radio directory search using Indextank, an outsourced search service for web applications. This should provide faster and better results when you search by radio, city, country, etc. on Streema. We'll soon be releasing other features, such as: Faceting and Autocomplete. Consider this is a recent implementation and might need some fixes, it'll keep getting better. :)

Radio Streams

As part of the process we started a couple months - which we mentioned in a previous post - the streams of thousands of radio stations in our directory have been fixed. This should definitely result in a better user experience, because there's nothing worse than trying to tune in a radio and not being able to listen to it. We want to continue working on this area, so please, help us by letting us know when a station doesn't work.

Radios without Stream

You'll find our directory has many stations without streams, this is either because the station doesn't stream online, it doesn't work, or we don't have it stored in our database. For those stations, we thought it would be great to provide our users with similar options to listen, so in case you click on the "play button" of any of those radios, a message offering other streaming stations will appear. We want to specially thank Emiliano Castaño who has given his good advice on building this part of the user interface.
Disclaimer: this is a feature we are currently testing, so you'll probably won't see it every time you visit Streema.

That's all for now, we hope you enjoy these improvements. :)

Stay tuned!

The Streema Team

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We want to start this post by saying: THANK YOU! Thanks to every one of the +1000 followers we have on Twitter.

So far, we haven’t been publishing much on Twitter - actually, we’ve been only posting links to our blog posts and, every once in a while, retweeted something interesting. We’ve been in that mode, mostly because we don't want to be like those accounts that post with too much frequency and clutter your Twitter timeline. You know how it is... it’s great to hear from someone, but only when that someone has something interesting to say!  However, we also think we could publish more news about radio, international news, music, sports... anything else?

Let us know what you think and soon you might start hearing more from us on Twitter.
:)

Of course, if you still don’t follow us, just click:


Stay tuned!

The Streema Team

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