Azuracast: One-click Web Radio in the Reclaim Cloud

Yesterday was a win because I finally focused for long enough to work through creating a one-click installer for the open source web radio application Azuracast. I’ve had a couple of conversations with folks around web radio this week, and I have to say it was cool to hear them suggest web radio is one area they want to explore. I love the whole idea, and I figured Reclaim Hosting could do its small part to make installing and hosting Azuracast that much easier. I have played with the software a bit in Reclaim Cloud to create Reclaim Radio, stand-up Strawboss Radio for the inimitable @scottlo, and finally to migrate #ds106radio to Azuracast. So I had installed the software using their Docker container a few times now.

The trick was to take the installation commands and create a one-click installer for Reclaim Cloud. Tim has already created quite a few, and he wrote-up a bit about the approach for creating packages on the Reclaim Community forums that was a very useful starting point:

Jelastic has documentation at on how to develop these packages which take the form of a yaml or json file. You can also browse all of the packages currently available via Jelastic’s Github organization at Jelastic JPS Collection as well as recent additions I’ve built and added to the Marketplace at Reclaim Hosting’s Github. The repos contain a manifest.yaml file which has all of the necessary code. In more complex scripts that file may call other scripts within the repo to do various things.

One method I’ve had a lot of success with is creating a generic Docker container and then running a build script to automate pulling down and running the particular software project.

Tim points to the example of the manifest file for RStudio he created as a model, which is where I started. I created my first Github repo in the Reclaim Hosting account (which is a proud moment for me 🙂 ) and I got started. And, in fact, it was pretty simple, I had to update the application name and other details, but the only real significant change to the RStudio manifest he shared was to the actions section:

    cmd[cp]: |-
      mkdir -p /var/azuracast
      cd /var/azuracast
      curl -fsSL >
      chmod a+x
      yes no |./ install
      #Checking of container is up and running
      until [ "`/usr/bin/docker inspect -f {{.State.Running}} azuracast_web`"=="true" ]; do
        sleep 1
        print '.'
      echo OK
ssl: true
skipNodeEmails: true
success: |
  **Azuracast URL**: [https://${env.domain}/](https://${env.domain}/)

This is the finished product, but to be clear it took some finessing of my attempt by Tim to get it to work. The big thing was that the Docker container asks questions about the custom domain and SSL certification to creating and environment file, so that had to be forced in the script with the line yes no |./ install. The other thing is the test to make sure the container is running until [ "`/usr/bin/docker inspect -f {{.State.Running}} azuracast_web`"=="true" ]; do needs the name of the application for that Docker instance, which is azuracast_web, so that was another thing Tim helped me figure out.

That said, I can see how creating these one-click installer can be pretty do-able with the right container, which is pretty awesome. Even better, it is not necessarily limited to us creating these manifests, as Tony Hirst demonstrated with his Jupyter Notebook work, anyone can do it and share appropriating for others to use, where or not it is in our marketplace. So, all that said, I finally have my first attempt at an installer for Reclaim Cloud under my belt.

Reclaim Radio

Reclaim Radio in the wild

This has been a long time coming. More than a month ago we were imagining how cool it would be to have a space where we could play music like we did in the office, all the while I was playing on ds106radio. There is no reason why ds106radio cannot be the default, but it can get busy and we wanted to think of it as a focused Reclaim Hosting radio station for listening (if you want) while you work. What’s more, we were fans of how Taylor Jadin just up and created his own radio station.

I played with setting up the open source radio broadcasting software Azuracast on Digital Ocean a few weeks back, but soon after that Reclaim Cloud took over my life. I put the project on hold for  a while, but last week before I got an instance of Azuracast up and running in a Docker container on Reclaim Cloud using Docker Engine and a few choice commands. It was quite easy, and I will document the installation process in another post shortly. And if all goes to plan, I hope to have a one-click application installer for Reclaim Cloud, but I may just be dreaming that part of this post.

I still have a bit to do in terms of making sure everyone else at Reclaim has access, figuring out uploading music, and then documenting how to live broadcast, upload music, create playlists, etc. So it’s still early days yet, but the software is impressive, and if I can get everything figured out this week I may even reach out to the ds106radio hippies and see if a move to Azuracast might make some sense in the near future.

Reclaim On the Radio

Can it be 10 days ago already? Yes indeed it can be, on April 24th Meredith and I chatted on ds106radio about a wide range of things from wire106 to Mt Trashmore to remote working during COVID-19 to her phenomenal work as support manager at Reclaim Hosting and beyond.  Meredith has already posted the conversation on her blog (Domain of her own!), and the following audio has both the conversation and a little TGIF series of songs on the ds106radio:

This reminds me of a project I started over a week ago but have not returned to, basically creating separate server for (nothing working there yet) using AzuraCast. Digital Ocean has an imaged Droplet for AzuraCast that I installed, and I have just not taken the time to work through AzuraCast, but that’s on the docket for this week.

Image of Azuracast droplet on Digital OCean

Image of AzuraCast droplet on Digital OCean

But beyond the technicalities, the idea behind reclaimradio is to have a radio station that we add songs to as we’re all working remotely to create a sense of connection for us to have in the background. That already existed at the Reclaim Hosting physical offices via Spotify, but this would be more intentional, folks can add songs, choose to DJ, or just banter. Who knows if it will work or not, but we’ll never know if I don’t get off my ass and make it happen. 

Image of Taylor Jadin Radio

Taylor Jadin has created his own radio station and spinning it up and down via API calls whenever he needs it to save money and basically create and destroy a personal radio station as needed. I love the way his station page looks and I want to hear more about that process, might be a good excuse for a ds106radio conversation that he can x-cast to his radio ?  

The Limits and Possibilities of the House Metaphor for Domains

My last post was a recap of the “At the Scale of Care” presentation Lauren Heywood and I gave at the mighty OER20. A few days ago Lauren posted her own take on the presentation, and I really appreciated how her take dug in much more than mine on the limits and possibilities of the house metaphor to explain and explore Domain of One’s Own. Here is a small piece form Lauren’s insightful and nuanced take on the metaphor:

My understanding of what is known as the house metaphor is a house as a tool to understand how web addresses, websites and web hosting relate to one another. This metaphor can then be extrapolated further to explain that an individual needs to have some initial understanding of the “web-based plumbing, electric, interior design, etc.” if they are to make spaces on the Web and to make them “liveable”.

Once an individual has built understanding of how the Web works and how they can start building their own spaces, including making them “liveable”, it is at this point that the individual can build confidence and agency to realise the potential of Domains initiatives as relates to Virgina Woolf’s arguments in ‘A Room of One’s Own’ (1929).

For me that’s where the metaphor ends. 

I really love the way Lauren understands the broader vision of Domains as always already a project in providing possibility to students and instructors alike to build the web. It’s a mission, not a metaphor. So, I asked Lauren if she would be interested in having a follow-up discussion about the house metaphor for Domains on the mighty #ds106radio (always be branding, people!).

She agreed, and two days ago we had an hour long discussion that was pretty awesome. I know the great David Kernohan was tuned in…

And it was awesome to see my old, dear friend Shannon Hauser who is now an instructional technologist running Domains at UMW was tuned in. My worlds combined in some beautiful ways at that moment, and the radio was good!

So, in the interest of trying to both preserve and share some of the radio magic that’s been happening for me these last days, weeks, and soon months, here is a recording of that discussion.

I hope it encourages folks like Lauren Heywood, Alex Masters, and Shannon Hauser (a sampling of the next generation of edtech) to get on the radio, whether ds106radio or their own international broadcasting network. And we need to do the same at Reclaim Hosting with our ridiculously talented group inclusing Lauren Brumfield, Meredith Fierro, Chris Blankenship, Gordon Hawley, and Katie Harcraft. This is not a time for the established edtech thought leaders (and I have to incriminate myself here) to suck up oxygen, but to lift up the folks who will have to make sense of this field when the dust settles and the work on the ground still needs to be done. I hope we can build more inclusive, diverse networks that strive for that rather than self-serving platforms for the next Gates Foundation funding opportunity.

Michigan State University Domains: “No Scholarly Activity without a Digital Artefact”

I have been dying to catch up with the good folks at Michigan State University and talk about the work they’re doing on the ground with their domains project. I was quite struck by Chris Long‘s ability to so brilliantly frame the importance of building scholarly community around these online tools. What’s more he regularly practices what he preaches with posts on his blog The Long Road, enhanced digital texts, the Digital Dialogue Podcast to name just a few elements of his extensive online vitae. He has been publicly building and sharing his scholarly work online for more than a decade, so when he talks about “Digital Scholarly Presence” (he has also called it “Online Scholarly Presence” on his blog in 2014) it comes from a position of vast experience. He’s been walking the long road of his own digital scholarly presence since he was a Philosophy professor at Penn State until his recent deanship of the College of Arts and Letters (CAS) at Michigan State.

I’ve been following Chris’s work for almost that long, ever since his time at Penn State working with Cole Camplese as a faculty fellow in 2007 or 2008. I was immediately struck by his willingness to openly narrate his scholarly and personal life online through all kinds of media, be it text, audio and/or images—a definite inspiration for me. What’s more, it provided a great example I could point faculty at UMW to. So, it was a real pleasure to finally get to speak with him about his work then and now, and to see how he frames this as academic administrator at one of the largest public campuses in the U.S.

And, as is often the case, it takes a team of folks to build a community, and working side-by-side with Chris on this initiative (as well as on this radio discussion) are Digital Humanities Coordinator @CAS Kristen Mapes and Assistant Dean for Academic and Research Technology Scott Schopierry.* Kristen and Scott have been running a seminar for faculty and graduate students that introduces them to philosophical and practical implications of a scholarly digital presence, wherein the domain is one of many tools faculty use to explore their online presence. Both Scott and Kristen have really thought through the process of on-boarding their community, and I was truly struck by just how intentional, strategic, and robust MSU’s approach to their domains project is.  All three of them can speak quite eloquently about the importance of thoughtfully integrating a vision for digital scholarly presence into the value system of the land grant university. It’s a brilliant marriage, and I came away from this conversation freshly excited about the work I often take for granted these days. Thanks to Kristen, Scott, and Chris for a fun, inspired conversation, and the quote in the sub-title is just a taste of the many gems you’ll in this audio discussion. What’s more, they will all be joining us at the Domains 17 conference in June, you should really come!

Chris Long, Kristen Mapes, and Scott Schopierry from Michigan State University talks Digital Scholarly Presence

N.B. — The recording was captured using audacity, and at moments there is some digital noise, particularly during the last 10 minutes.  I’ll see if I can get help cleaning it up, but for now better to get it out there. 

* Professor Bill Hart-Davidson is another regular collaborator who was not part of the discussion.