All posts by BobPritchard

Radio Insider in managed by career broadcaster Bob Pritchard who has worked in every aspect of broadcasting including owning his own FM radio station, a nationally broadcast television series (Computer Insider on CTV) and many years on-air in radio including 680News and AM640 in Toronto. Bob currently spends his time producing video editorial comments, writing his book on Canadian Radio and consulting radio stations on how to survive the increased competition from consolidation and the increasing market fragmentation caused by the growth of the internet.

Problems of Distributing Music In Your Home

Want to play your own music at home? Here’s How

Now that we have the Christmas season safely in our rear view mirrors, a lot of people been asking me about what’s the best way to distribute music within your own home. Being a bit of a techie and also a radio station owner, I’ve had several ideas as to what the best approach to do this is.

The first thing is to actually define what it is you want to be doing in terms of distributing the music. The reason this is important is that there are really three or four different ways of approaching the problem pending on what it is you’re really looking for. If you’re looking just to listen to music on a small radio, and it’s capable of reading a USB memory stick, it’s simply a matter of putting the music on to the thumb drive, and inserted it into the radio. If you’re looking for something a little bit more sophisticated, you could set up a small server and then make the music available across your internal local area network. And finally, if you’re looking to have your music available on a large number of radios, some of which may be more technologically advanced, then possibly the real answer is to set up a small FM transmitter and broadcast your music throughout your house. You should really keep in mind that there are several laws that govern the use of broadcasting on the FM dial. Always a good idea to find out what you can and cannot do before you venture too far in any one direction.

The goal that I was looking for, wasn’t so much to have the music available on every radio, but rather to have every radio playing the same song at the same place at the same time, so as you walked around the house, room to room, you’d be hearing the same song at the same point everywhere.

My first thought was to set up the small server and distribute the music around the house by my local area network. The problem I ran into was the fact that the vast majority of servers today send out their information via unicast rather than multicast. The simple difference between the two is that in a unicast environment, every appliance picks up a separate feed from the server and then plays that feed. In a multicast environment, there is one continuous feed coming from the server that you simply listen to. Back in the mid-90s when I was first working with media servers, it was fairly common to have options to use both unicast and multicast services on anyone server. However, over time, unicast has become the dominant method of streaming music. If you want to check for yourself all you have to do is load a app like on both your smart phone and a tablet. Set both appliances to listen to the same radio station, and you’ll find out that the music is rarely at the same point coming out of both units. I have to confess that in terms of attempting to set this up, I spent a lot of time trying to get it to work but it simply just didn’t happen.

Being the owner of an FM radio station, I was quite aware that transmitting music on the FM band was a very efficient way of everybody being able to hear the same song at the same point at the same time. The problem that I had to solve was that of power. Radio stations run at up to 100,000 W in Canada and the United States. Both countries have regulations which govern who can broadcast and how much power they can use. To maintain compliance, you can purchase very small transmitters from retail stores which are designed to allow you to plug your smart phone into the device and transmit that signal a few feet to your car antenna or car radio. I knew this would be efficient way of distributing the music but had actually no idea of how I could build the range to cover the entire house. Over a period of time, and trying various connections and setups, I was eventually able to set up one of these devices so that it would deliver a fairly good stereo signal throughout the building. What I did was to plug the transmitter into the audio output from the device where the music was located. Generally speaking, the power cord for the transmitter is also the antenna for the transmitter. What I did was to wrap this power cord around the antenna I use in the basement of my house to pull in distant radio stations for my stereo. I took the wires that are the output from my antenna, and connected them into old cable TV wires that were not being used. I then went to each room in the house and connected each radio using a cable from the old cable TV jacks and connected it to the antenna on the various radios around the house that I wanted to listen to the music on.

It turned out to be a brilliant idea. Each radio in each room gets the same signal so that we hear the same music at the same point everywhere. The reason I wanted to do this, was that we were hosting various people for parties over the Christmas season, and we wanted to have Christmas music on all the time. The whole process worked really really well, but regrettably I think I was the only person who actually appreciated the sophistication of the solution.

Now that were comfortably past the Christmas season, I’ve converted the music we’re playing to my list of favorites, which I have to confess runs into the several thousands of songs. Another time we’ll talk about how to get the music to play in automation and the things that you can add to a player which can really improve the overall functionality of your home music system.

Copyright or Internet Scam?

Computer Insider Jan 14, 2014: Copyright or Internet Scam?

I was recently out to dinner with some friends of mine from University, and in the midst of our chitchat,a strange discussion came up. It seems that at least two of us had over the last several months fallen into the same, let’s call it trap, in terms of using the Internet.

Here’s what happened. Both of us were working on websites separately, and we both needed to have images to put on our WebPages. And I suppose like many people building websites we both went to Google images and search for pictures to insert onto our WebPages. Interestingly enough, both of us had assumed that the images that were being displayed from Google images, where the public domain. Turns out, that’s not the case.

I think it’s important at this point to let you that I am not a lawyer, and in no way attempting to offer you legal advice or direction. If you’re looking for best course of action in any legal matter, you should always consult with a lawyer who’s trained in these matters. That said, I’m a long-term user of the Internet and when something seems just plain wrong maybe, it’s time to part of the public consciousness.

At any rate, what happened was a short time after the webpage’s were actually posted on the Internet, each of us were contacted by an individual who claimed to be the copyright holder for those pictures. The letter I received was quite specific saying that the images were not part of the public domain, I had violated their copyright, and I had a financial obligation to the copyright holder. I found out from the other person at the dinner who would run into the same situation, that they had contacted him and demanded $600 in royalty payments. He contacted a lawyer who did advise him that there really is no whole lot you can do about it presuming that the person that sent the letter was in fact the copyright holder, he’s entitled to be compensated for his images.

What really bothered me about this whole situation was the fact that this appears to be a setup. Again I want to emphasize that this is just an opinion, but it does seem to me, to be very strange that somehow copyrighted material is being released into what some people believe is the public domain via Google, and that information is not only being used by unsuspecting people, but the people who hold the copyrights appear to have the technology to be able to scour the Internet and track down any people using those images and pursue them for compensation.

In fact, and again I have to point out that as far as I know, the person who holds the copyright of any material has the right to demand whatever payments they can, but in the real world of digital photography, and being a contributor to several libraries, compensation for any one picture is generally calculated in pennies not dollars let alone hundreds of dollars.

Somewhere in the back of my mind I’ve got the strange idea that what’s happened is that some people, possibly of less scrupulous thoughts, have produced a series of images, and coated them with some sort of tracking system, release them not necessarily in the public domain but released him to the Internet in such a way to lure unsuspecting users and has allowed them to be distributed by Google, and then to track down those images and pursue the people using them for what I would best describe as excessive royalty payments.

If this in fact is what’s happening, it would probably take make a fairly interesting argument in court that in fact the people who had leaked of those images onto the Internet, did so deliberately, concealing to some level the fact that the images are copyrighted, and have actually made this into a substantial business operation.

In my case, I explained that I was using the image because it was my understanding that it was part of the public domain. As it is always my intention to not violate other person’s copyrights, we immediately stop using the image and apologized for the misunderstanding. They did send an email to me saying that I owed the money but to this point in time there’s been no other correspondence whatsoever, so were presuming at this stage that there will be no claims, however, not being located in the United States, I would think will be a fairly expensive proposition for anyone to take somebody in this country to court, considering the probabilities of them being able to win a judgment in court and then subsequently collect any money in the process.

I wanted to let you know about this because I believe there are a lot of people who presume that images that they find on Google are royalty, and they can use them whenever and however they please. Knowing that there are others on the Internet, who appear to be in the business of distributing material and then actively pursuing compensation, may give you an opportunity to check for any notices of copyright, and time for you to consider what you would say if one day you received an email saying that you were in violation of copyrighted material.

Retro Show #115 Jan 29, 1995 on CTV


Show #115 Jan 29, 1995 on CT

News of the Week: Microsoft offers a free upgrade to correct an issue in new Pentium processorsPetioles move on to the internet and New York State introduces legislation to stop the spread of kiddy porn.


Silicon Graphics,(later re-branded SGI, historically known as Silicon Graphics Computer Systems or SGCS) was an American manufacturer of high-performance computing solutions, including computer hardware and software. Founded in 1982 by Jim Clark, its initial market was 3D graphics display terminals, but its products, strategies and market positions evolved significantly over time.


Software distribution is the process of delivering software to the end user. This is not to be confused with a distribution, or distro, which is collection of software components built, assembled and configured so that it can be used essentially “as is” for its intended purpose. Software distribution is often the closest thing to turnkey form of free software. It may take the form of a binary distribution, with anexecutable installer which can be downloaded from the Internet. Examples range from whole operating system distributions to serverand interpreter distributions (for example WAMP installers). Software distribution can also refer to careware and donateware.


In this episode of Computer Insider, host Bob Pritchard looks at a CD based software package that helps users fix things around their homes.


Bob talks with Mr. Morton L. Topfer., Mort, is a Senior Advisor at Rein Capital, LLC. Previously, Mr. Topfer was a Founding Board Member at the firm. He is a Managing Director at Castletop Capital. Mr. Topfer is also a Co-Founder of Castletop Capital and joined it in 2002. Previously, He served at Dell Computer Corporation from 1994 to 2002 as a Counselor to Dell’s Chief Executive Officer, advising in matters of critical importance to the company. Mr. Topfer joined the firm in 1994 …