SLC shut our Webcasting session down for Regional Conference

Using the Church Webcasting System, YouTube, etc. Including cameras and mixers.
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shawndowler
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Re: SLC shut our Webcasting session down for Regional Conference

Postby shawndowler » Wed Nov 18, 2015 1:25 pm

rannthal wrote:Do any of you know actually what happened that weekend? Its called growing pains. Any company out there to make money would be jumping up and down, thrilled to have this problem.

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Please don't be so dismissive. We know exactly what happened in each of our stakes.

Before we did broadcasts we would just hold two sessions of stake conference instead. This isn't due to growth, since we'd been too big to fit in one building for decades. It's due to a mandate to stop holding multiple sessions of stake conference. The stake presidents and stake technology specialists are not thrilled about the prospect of disappointing thousands of people leading to decreased future attendance of stake conference.

I just want our members to be able to participate in stake conference using the systems designed for them to do so. Reliability of the broadcast has been my stake president's #1 concern for years, ever since we stopped holding multiple sessions of conference. Our previous stake technology specialist did not have the time nor expertise required to make the broadcasts reliable. He was 100% reliant on Church Technology solutions. If those fail, then the conference failed. I put in an inordinate amount of time testing and retesting official systems only to have them fail when we really need them. Something has to change. Many stakes don't have the resources to work around the official solutions.

We aren't here to make money. We can't reach 99% and say it's good enough, because we made enough money from the people who weren't excluded. Local problems are local, but when the broadcast system itself fails in our stake, that's three buildings full of disgusted people. I'm not going to lower my expectations.

So forgive me for not jumping up and down, thrilled that tens of thousands of members across many stakes were let down and those who worked the hardest to make it a good experience were left holding the bag.

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Re: SLC shut our Webcasting session down for Regional Conference

Postby russellhltn » Wed Nov 18, 2015 2:46 pm

I got a phone call today from GSS. We have a stake conference this weekend with a GA and they were reaching out to make sure everything was set. Thankfully, we're not webcasting this one, so that's easy. But I did get to bend their ear a bit about what happened.

Simply put - they ran out of licenses. They never anticipated that so many stakes would web cast the first 30 minutes. They expected it to be handled "locally" to each building.

The canceling of sessions apparently happens if the startup fails - which in this case it did due to the lack of licenses. So no one at SLC knew there was a problem until the phones started to ring. Hence, the short notice.

They've since obtained additional licenses, so according to them, "it shouldn't happen again".
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Re: SLC shut our Webcasting session down for Regional Conference

Postby rannthal » Wed Nov 18, 2015 3:22 pm

Thank you russellhltn. That is exactly what happened. Growing pains for a system that is less then a year old, that is used by many more then was first expected and in other ways then was first anticipated.

FYI, on an average Sunday there are upwards of 70 events. The system handles these events.

On that particular weekend, there were 180+ events. Well over double then the average.

The church is continually making strides to serve every member world wide. There are going to be some hiccups and some growing pains along the way.

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Re: SLC shut our Webcasting session down for Regional Conference

Postby russellhltn » Wed Nov 18, 2015 4:20 pm

rannthal wrote:That is exactly what happened. Growing pains for a system that is less then a year old, that is used by many more then was first expected and in other ways then was first anticipated.


It sure would have been nice if the church had sent out a email or phone call explaining what went wrong and the steps taken to prevent that from happening again. I feel for the guys who did all the testing they could possibly do only to have to meltdown in front of their friends. In the absence of information, the only rational conclusion is that the system can never be relied upon again.

I happened to be lucky in being a the right place to find out.
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Re: SLC shut our Webcasting session down for Regional Conference

Postby rannthal » Wed Nov 18, 2015 4:34 pm

I understand that. As a fellow STS, I feel the pain. (See my new posting) That's why I've decided to frequent this forum more and try to answer questions that I am able to. I am lucky enough to work for the church and the webcasting project is one of my main projects. I'll try to pass any information on that I can here. The system is really a good system. There are some things that just happen that are not under our control and are very unexpected. The church is very concerned about what happened and are indeed making steps and putting things in place so something like this will not happen again. We are all human trying to get better on all aspects.

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Re: SLC shut our Webcasting session down for Regional Conference

Postby shawndowler » Wed Nov 18, 2015 5:01 pm

Thank you for joining in the conversation, rannthal. It is reassuring to hear that we are being heard. It would be helpful if we could have some official communication about what happened and the steps that are being taken to assure us that this isn't just a novelty to the Church technology department. We take it very seriously. We really want it to be usable. I think we need more two way communication so we know what to expect and so we can can also let the Church technology department know what to expect.

We felt like we did everything we could to telegraph our intentions.

I have another Stake Conference in January. I will be looking forward to trying it again. This time, we will be well prepared to fail over, however. Our number one goal is for people in remote buildings not to feel like they had a lesser experience for not being there in person. That means we want to avoid anything that could distract and detract from the message.

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Re: SLC shut our Webcasting session down for Regional Conference

Postby michaelfish » Wed Nov 18, 2015 6:12 pm

So no one at SLC knew there was a problem until the phones started to ring.

Are you sure?

This was a Regional Conference to 7 states in the North America South West area, with over 225 stakes expected to receive the broadcast.

IMO, it should have been easy to predict there would be an overload and strain on the system - especially since webcast portal events are scheduled ahead of time.

They expected it to be handled "locally" to each building.

This was not clear in the Stake Conference Broadcast Instructions for Stake Presidents. "If other buildings with receivers are available, members should be invited to attend in the building most convenient for their family"

The Webcast Overview suggests using the Webcast system for Regional conferences.

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Re: SLC shut our Webcasting session down for Regional Conference

Postby rannthal » Wed Nov 18, 2015 6:47 pm

Definitely sure. As being on the Web casting development team, we check the amount of events scheduled Friday before we leave and there were definitely not that many.
If the events had been scheduled ahead of time, it could have been detected that there was going to be a problem. The gotcha is that many events are/were scheduled on Saturday or even Sunday.
With the events being scheduled in that timeframe, no one can tell what is going on. The scheduling of events aren't watched 24/7. It would be nice if events were scheduled days, if not weeks in advance as suggested via the documentation, so preparations could be made. Sadly this was not case.

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Re: SLC shut our Webcasting session down for Regional Conference

Postby Aczlan » Wed Nov 18, 2015 8:17 pm

rannthal wrote:Definitely sure. As being on the Web casting development team, we check the amount of events scheduled Friday before we leave and there were definitely not that many.
If the events had been scheduled ahead of time, it could have been detected that there was going to be a problem. The gotcha is that many events are/were scheduled on Saturday or even Sunday.
With the events being scheduled in that timeframe, no one can tell what is going on. The scheduling of events aren't watched 24/7. It would be nice if events were scheduled days, if not weeks in advance as suggested via the documentation, so preparations could be made. Sadly this was not case.

Might I suggest a nightly email be sent to whoever is on call with the number of webcasts scheduled per region?
Also, in the case of such a widespread catastrophic failure, PLEASE COMMUNICATE as things are happening.
You (or someone on the team) has the ability to put up the messages on the top of the webcast portal. If something breaks like that again, a message saying "hey things are broken here in SLC, its not just you, please switch to your backup plan" would save a LOT of hair from being torn out.

After the fact, (since you have the email address of each person who setup the webcast), an email sent to all of them saying "we are sorry things broke, here is what broke and what we have done to fix it" (ie: we are sorry for the issues you had this weekend, we ran out of licenses but we have since purchased more and this shouldn't happen again) would help to resolve the doubts of those who got burned trying to use the system this time (especially those who don't frequent this board and might think that they were at fault for it not working).

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Re: SLC shut our Webcasting session down for Regional Conference

Postby harddrive » Thu Nov 19, 2015 7:08 am

rannthal, you say "The system is really a good system." I won't say one way or the other because I haven't used it yet. However, with that said, the feedback I have been reading on this leaves me questioning if the system is really good. I understand about licensing and other items that you can't forecast, but as mentioned there should be some safe guards put in place for this to not happen again.

Also, communication between us STS and SLC is very lacking in my book. It is like here is the equipment and now you go make it work. Based on what I'm reading, everyone in the church is doing things their own way. Some are using YouTube, Sling box and so forth because the system seems to be unreliable. Each of us are using different machines for receiving the broadcast. To me there isn't a set standard for everyone. I may be asking for too much, but let me tell you what we do in my stake.

At the outlying buildings, we use the clerk's computer as our receiver and then we send the signal to cabinet that has the satellite receiver. We then put it into a switch which then feeds the TV and the podium jack. It works very well. I'm having our FM group install the AV Mixer that the church has on it's website.

Since the old webcasting and for me this new system are from what I have read unreliable, I will stay with my current set up of using Personal Video Conferencing (PVC). Once I made the switch over to it, I have never had the signal drop, freeze or anything. I have lost clarity because of bandwidth usage or when a router rebooted on us. Otherwise, we have never had an issue. My plan is to stay like this and I will begin to test the new system at some point.

Terry


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