Sunday, June 06, 2010

Live Streaming - Important Notice!!!!

Many, many people all over the world enjoy the ODNR, Division of Wildlife's Columbus Peregrine Falconcam and we are glad!!! However, along with the popularity has come an unanticipated problem.

To provide the live streaming video service we pay for every minute every user is playing each of the video streams. That is why we set up the streaming service to time out after 8 minutes - to help limit the time folks are on and thus limit the costs involved. However, through technology some people have figured out a way to get past the 8 minute timeout and thus run the streaming for longer periods of time. Every minute costs the Division of Wildlife money.

The Division of Wildlife operates on a fiscal year basis and are currently almost at the end of 4th quarter for FY10. The new fiscal year will begin in July. We are authorized to spend only previously approved budgeted monies and unfortunately, we are already overspent in this quarter for the Falconcam and we still have most of June to go. Costs for the live streaming are up over 30% from last year. This increased usage of our site that has resulted in increased costs were completely unanticipated and is why we are over budget.

How did this happen? Since the overall number of viewers to our site is similar to past years, it is likely from increased numbers of users bypassing the timeout and running the live streams for extended periods of time.

What does this mean? Worst case scenario is we may be forced to shut down the live streaming service until the next quarter budget is available to spend. Obviously, we don't want to do that since the rest of June will be prime time viewing.

What can be done? We are requesting approval to spend more than what we had budgeted for the final quarter this fiscal year. However, with strict budget restrictions statewide mandated by Governor Strickland there is no guarantee we will receive permission to do this. We may shorten the video sessions to timeout sooner than 8 minutes but that won't make a difference with the folks who are bypassing the timeout altogether. So, I will put out the request to anyone who is bypassing the timeout to please only run the live streams when you are actively watching. Please do not pull up the live streams for hours at a time to just have on so you can check in now and then.

I wish that I could just request everyone hit the "Support Falcons" donation button on the screen to keep us up and running. While we always appreciate donations and I don't want to deter anyone from being generous, the problem right now is immediate and donations go into a fund to be appropriated through a budget approved in the future.

On behalf of the Division of Wildlife, I thank everyone for your support and understanding during this time. Rest assured, we will continue the live streaming as long as possible and it will be available on Tuesday, June 8 for the banding with no timeout during the event. Regardless of what happens with the live streaming, the refreshed still images will still be available.

There is still time to vote for your choice of names for the two chicks. The webpoll will remain up until midday Monday, June 7.