The LiveSupport project is taking an inordinate amount of my time these days. For those of you paying attention, LiveSupport is Campware’s attempt at producing a radio automation system that is truly user-friendly, truly open, and truly powerful.

We’ve already had two releases of the first parts of the puzzle in LiveSupport 0.9 and 0.9.1, in which we’ve provided the server backend and web-based user interface – or in marketing parlance we’re calling ‘LiveSupport Station’. With LiveSupport Station, a user can make a playlist and then schedule it for broadcast completely remotely.

The next puzzle pieces to fall into place will be what we’re calling ‘LiveSupport Studio’, a Linux-based client program designed to allow radio station personnel to create broadcasts in ‘live assist’ mode, which can be a combination of pre-made playlists (maybe songs, maybe blocks of ads, maybe a news broadcast) and items chosen on the fly.

In order to make the software as user-friendly as possible in terms of an installation, we’re also providing a Live Support installer CD. With one of our live CDs, all a user has to do is pop it into their PC and turn it on; the entire system starts up off the CD and then allows the user to install it to their hard disk. Our LiveCD is based on the outstanding Knoppix distribution, which really takes a lot of the pain out of using Linux.

Our annual meeting for developers and power users, called SummerCAMP, will take place here in Kafkaville at the end of this month, and will have the theme ‘More than Source.’ We’ve got visitors coming in from literally all corners of the globe, and while the final program isn’t set yet, it’s a fair bet to say that a lot of emphasis will be on the human side of open source software.

We’re looking to partner with community radio stations worldwide, and I’ve got to say that I’m pretty happy about the response we’ve gotten for a project that is admittedly heavily under construction. I really think that it’s in the interest of a lot of broadcasters to keep their costs as low as possible, and that goes triple for community radio organizations, many of whom are on a shoestring budget as it is. We’ve been able to get LiveSupport to work on relatively cheap hardware (I think the PC we’re testing on cost $750), and from then on the software doesn’t cost anything else.

But the other advantage is in bringing a community of users together. Already we’ve had users contribute translations of the software, and a few hardy souls are already contributing to the code base – making it work on Apple hardware, for example. Considering how many radio stations there are in the world, there’s a good chance we’ll see users not only using LiveSupport, but contributing their improvements back into the code base.

The corner turns we’ve had in the last few days are numerous: The LiveCD is starting to come together, the web interface looks really slick, and today we saw the first version of the mass import tool, which will let stations import their libraries of MP3s quickly and easily.

It’s a big task, but we’ve got some really smart people working with us, and when it comes to the open source community, we’re also standing on the shoulders of giants.

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