Nostalgic Rumblings
The Ramblings of an Old Man

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February 2009
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The RIAA and the Broadcaster Shakedown

Filed under: News, Radio Today — Charlie Summers @ 12:11 pm

From p2pnet News: The RIAA and the Broadcaster Shakedown

From the article: “After 15 years of failing to understand that their traditional business models are completely useless on the Internet, the RIAA has returned to the only way they know to make a dime in the new neighborhood; the broadcaster shakedown.” Read this article, then be prepared to contact your congresscritters.

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Congressional Twittering

Filed under: News — Charlie Summers @ 5:58 pm

From the Washington Post by Dana Milbank: A Tale of 140 Characters, Plus the Ones in Congress

From the article: “It’s bad enough that Americans are paralyzed by economic jitters. Now the president has to deal with lawmakers paralyzed by Twitter. At a time of national emergency, when America needs the focused attention of contemplative and reflective lawmakers, they are dispatching rapid-fire thoughts in 140 characters or less.” Hey, nice to know at least some of ‘em actually know how to send a text message…

(Thanks to The Pirate Bay for alerting us to this opinion-piece. Yes, that Pirate Bay.)

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My Backup Plan for XM’s Fall…

Filed under: Radio Today — Charlie Summers @ 5:48 pm

I’ve been whining a lot lately about XM Sirius XM satellite radio. They are bought and sold with annoying regularity, the sound quality keeps dropping, and their pricing is going up next month (thanks, Mel, for lying to everyone to get your merger completed). While I’ll handle that by dropping a radio so I can pay less than before the price increase in protest, I can’t really drop the radio my parents’ use…my mother loves Escape, the “standards” channel. But the events the past week or two have kicked me in the tail to start setting up a backup plan for when Mel Karmazin finally sinks the ship completely and the satellites are re-purposed for DirecTV.

I actually started thinking about this back in October listening to the Halloween holiday channel; contrasting Gore to last year’s Igor scared the bejeezus out of me, so I wanted to find something I could live with for next Halloween. Yeah, something like the old XM Igor.

To solve this, I started using the demo version of StationRipper, a software package that allows you to (legally - the RIAA might want to stop you, but for now it’s still fair-use to record any audio for personal use) record Internet radio stations. I looked around for a Halloween channel programmed to my tastes, and when I found one I started recording it. It didn’t take long for me to have a playlist of a few hundred songs, which should be perfect for next year’s holiday season.

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Cincy Nostalgia Con Registration Form

Filed under: Old-Time Radio — Charlie Summers @ 10:58 am

The registration form for the 23rd Annual Cincinnati Old-Time Radio and Nostalgia Convention is finally ready, here for your download in convenient PDF format. With guests Eddie Carroll, Bob Hastings, Rosemary Rice, and Esther Geddes, it’s going to be another great get-together!

icon for podpress  23rd Annual Cincinnati Old-Time Radio and Nostalgia Convention Registration Flyer: Download

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Bill proposes Wi-Fi logs retained for two years

Filed under: News — Charlie Summers @ 6:46 pm

From CNN: Bill proposes ISPs, Wi-Fi keep logs for police

From the article: “Translated, the Internet Safety Act applies not just to AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, and so on–but also to the tens of millions of homes with Wi-Fi access points or wired routers that use the standard method of dynamically assigning temporary addresses. (That method is called Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol, or DHCP.)”

I am sick to death of politicians using the “protect the children” mantra as an excuse to erode your civil rights. This data retention isn’t to save kids from child molesters, it’s to make sure the government can track you whenever it wants. Owe back taxes? The government will use this data. Complain about the local police? They will be able to mine this data looking for anything they can use. If this becomes law, civil cases will eventually be able to use this retained data in lawsuits, divorces, etc. This is absolutely absurd, and needs to be stopped now.

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Stereo 3D Photography Made REALLY Simple…

Filed under: General — Charlie Summers @ 1:43 pm

First there was the 3D “Hannah Montana” concert…then the excitement over the Super Bowl commercials and following episode of Chuck…and now Bolt and Coraline and the Jonas Brothers Concert in theaters. 3D seems to be the “next big thing,” particularly by those who forget that 3D viewing is as old as photography. And so there’s no confusion, maybe animators appropriated the term “3D” for fleshed-out wire renderings which are rendered in 2D, but to old guys like me, 3D means Creatures from the Black Lagoon-style two-eyes-are-better-than-one viewing.

There are many good histories of 3D, or stereo photography, elsewhere on the Net…what I wanted to do was look at a few different systems, and see how difficult it would be to actually take a stereo photograph.

Short answer…not very. Seriously, anyone can do it. Yes, that includes you. Read on, then consider trying it out yourself.

I started off intentionally handicapping myself. I used my daughter’s Che-ez! Foxz camera, purchased for $23 back in 2006…we bought it for her so she could take pics when she wanted to, without us having to worry about her breaking a “real” digital camera. (Go figure…I’ve broken mine, hers is still working.) It’s a 1.3MP camera (less than in some cell phones), does have a flash, fixed lens, 2x digital zoom. It was well worth the $22.99, and some of the photos this camera has taken over the years are priceless (if you want to see the world through a child’s eyes, to see what is and is not important to their view of the universe, give’em a camera and then pay attention to the result), but no one could mistake it for a high-end machine, if you know what I mean. (More, including the stereo 3D photographs I took, after the jump.)

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Socks the Former First Cat, Dead at 20

Filed under: News — Charlie Summers @ 11:42 pm

From SNAFU-ed: Socks the Former First Cat, Dead at 20

From the article: “Former first cat Socks, the former pet of Bill and Hillary Clinton, has passed away at the ripe old age of 20.” R.I.P., Socks.

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Video of Bob Edwards’ Space Station Interview

Filed under: Radio Today — Charlie Summers @ 8:18 am

…with Sandy Magnus and Mike Fincke is available at this blog post.

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PODCAST: The Six Shooter Audition

Filed under: Old-Time Radio — Charlie Summers @ 8:00 pm

I received from Jerry Haendiges, of The Vintage Radio Place a large collection of programs, with the suggestion I “broadcast” some of them here on the blog…thing is, many of the programs he sent I’d never heard, and some I’ve never heard of, even as long as I’ve been in the hobby. So for the foreseeable future I’m going to run the shows he sent in low-bandwidth MP3 format - even at 32kbps mono, these shows are some of the best-sounding shows you’ll hear. But remember for even better sound, these shows (and a few bazillion others) may be purchased from Jerry in either audio CD format, or ultra-high-quality MP3 format.

This show is the audition program for the Jimmy Stewart western series, The Six Shooter, recorded on July 15, 1953. It’s the story of a roving gunslinger, Brit Ponsett carrying a gun of, “gray steel and rainbow mother-of-pearl.” You’ll hear the west-coast stock company, including Robert Conrad. Since this is the series’ audition, you’ll also hear Jimmy Stewart introduce the series at the mid-commercial, and a dummy commercial for “our product” after the feel-good ending. Listening to this program, you have to wonder what took Stewart so long to do radio - his deliberate yet natural delivery was tailor-made for the medium.

You may stream the show using the player below, or download it with the link. Remember, by subscribing to this blog with any podcasting client (Juice, iTunes, etc.) the shows will be automatically downloaded to your computer or MP3 player!

icon for podpress  The Six Shooter Audition - July 15, 1953 [25:51m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Podcast Announcements on the OTR Digest…

Filed under: General, Old-Time Radio — Charlie Summers @ 8:42 pm

Over the last few weeks I’ve run into an issue on the Internet OTR Digest I’m not exactly sure how to handle, and so I ask for opinions and suggestions from the subscribers. It has to do with podcasts…

See, lots of people (including your obedient servant) run podcasts…we used to call it “uploading OTR files for others to enjoy,” but even I can’t stem the podcast moniker, so I’ve quit trying (and you may stop laughing now, Jim…). OTR podcasts are, in the best of circumstances, irregularly-released, since most folks running them have real work to do, and operate them as a hobby. Still, there are many releases to choose from every week from subscribers to the Digest who publish them.

But I believe there are too many to have postings about every release. Some people are justifiably proud of their podcasts (unlike your servant, who is still “the worst voice in Internet audio”), and want to post about each new edition. My fear, and the reason I have been rejecting those weekly postings, is that it won’t take long before the podcasts promotions will over-run the conversation on the Digest, crowding it out, and that seems like a really bad thing. One podcast I subscribe to has released twelve episodes so far this month, add to that weekly and less-regular podcasts out there. Heck, I don’t post to the Digest about my own podcast, unless I post a show specifically because it’s being discussed there. (But since I have you, feel free to look around here on the blog and check out the recently-released shows; you can play them directly from here, or download and take ‘em with you. The Six Shooter audition program is scheduled for tomorrow, Thursday.)

Yet there are weekly promotions for radio shows on the Digest, so I seem to be splitting a somewhat fine hair here in rejecting the one and allowing the other. And if I’m going to allow radio promotions, shouldn’t I be encouraging the other subscribers on the list who have radio shows (for example Max Schmid of WBAI, Ed Walker of WAMU, etc.) to post as well?

I have to admit I’m stumped for a simple, solid, I-can-follow-it-all-the-time rule about this; and it’s going to get worse as more people publish podcasts, not easier, so I really need to come up with something we can all live with, something that keeps me out of being in the position of making value judgments and deciding who or what is “worthy” and who or what isn’t. I need a solution that works for the Digest and all the subscribers to it, since (as I’ve said more than once), the readers of the Digest are my primary concern, even sometimes at the expense of the posters.

What I have been doing to this point about podcasts is to suggest the poster, instead of posting about every episode they publish, write a brief description of their podcast and post that along with a link to a more detailed description on the podcast’s website. That way subscribers would receive the information about the show, and be able to make up their own mind about subscribing. But there are reasoned arguments against this (and trust me, lately I’ve heard a bunch of ‘em), and besides, it seems to the rejected poster that I am saying his podcast (which I almost certainly haven’t yet heard) is somehow not “worthy” of promotion in the Digest,

So I’m asking for your thoughts on how we might solve this, getting the word out while not dampening the discussion the Digest was designed to carry. I want to keep the discussion here, though, not on the Digest - it’s easy to make public comments to this blog entry (once you register and sign-in to the blog, use the “Leave a Reply” box at the bottom), and if you prefer to make suggestions privately to me, you may easily use the “Contact the Webmaster” button over on the sidebar - those comments aren’t public, and come to me alone.

You can follow the discussion here easily, too, using any RSS aggrigator or even your browser, by adding the “RSS feed for comments on this post” link below to your RSS news client (Firefox calls it a “Live Bookmark”) and monitoring it for new comments.

A side note: I’ve added our Twitter name to the footer of each issue of the Digest; should you have a problem and not be able to contact me via email, you can always get in touch via the web form over there on the sidebar of this blog, or by a DM to CFSummers on Twitter. Our Twitter address is also tracking this blog and announcing our podcast, so if you have a Twitter account please feel free to follow me, and DM me that you’re a Digest subscriber. As always, if you have any questions about which address to use for what, just check that footer - it’s in every issue of the Internet OTR Digest!

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Malone Eyes Sirius’ Satellites

Filed under: Radio Today — Charlie Summers @ 5:10 pm

From Forbes: Malone Eyes Sirius’ Satellites

From the article: “In the battle of the billionaires, John Malone may want more than just his 40.0% equity share in Sirius XM Radio. He may also want the broadcaster’s satellites.” Also: “Miller Tabak analyst David C. Joyce said that Liberty Media’s Malone may have offered a $530.0 million bridge loan to Sirius XM not only to forestall a takeover attempt by rival Charlie Ergen but to lay claim to the 12 satellites Sirius is operating.” And that loan is only about half the debt that comes due this year, so we get to watch this happen all over again later in the year.

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DONE DEAL - Liberty to loan Sirius $530 mln, get 40% stake

Filed under: Radio Today — Charlie Summers @ 8:49 am

From Reuters: Liberty to loan Sirius $530 mln, get 40 pct stake

From the article: “Liberty Media (LINTA.O) has agreed to $530 million in loans to Sirius XM Radio Inc (SIRI.O), saving the satellite radio provider from possible bankruptcy and giving Liberty a 40 percent equity stake.” Company survives…for at least another few days.

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Janeane Garofalo and Mary Lynn Rajskub Complement and Compete on ‘24′

Filed under: Television — Charlie Summers @ 12:13 am

From the New York Times: Janeane Garofalo and Mary Lynn Rajskub Complement and Compete on ‘24’

It is seriously time for me to lighten up a little bit on the blog posts, so this from my current-favorite television series. From the article: “It is a rivalry meant to leaven the often-grim, high-pressure thriller with humor. And it’s an inside joke for Ms. Rajskub and Ms. Garofalo, longtime pals whose careers often intersect.”

My favorite, though, was seeing Ms. Rajskub become pregnant between 3:59pm and 4:00 pm. That event sure didn’t occur in real time…

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Sirius XM’s Fate at Stake in a Radio Cliffhanger

Filed under: Radio Today — Charlie Summers @ 10:15 pm

From the New York Times: DealBook Column - Sirius XM’s Fate at Stake in a Radio Cliffhanger

From the article: “If the deal doesn’t hit a last-minute snag, Mr. Karmazin will have managed to save his company — and his job (Mr. Ergen wanted to fire him) — by pitting some of the most hard-nosed negotiators in the business against each other, all while he held what no doubt looked to be a losing hand.” If true, this is absolutely amazing…the man who singlehandedly destroyed two companies and an entire industry, not to mention losing stockholders billions of dollars, manages to keep his job and his perks? I will never understand big business…and clearly I am way too honest to ever be rich.

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More Speculation on Sirius XM by the Media

Filed under: Radio Today — Charlie Summers @ 4:44 pm

While we wait out the remaining hours in the life-and-death struggle Sirius XM is in (thanks to mismanagement, not circumstances), let’s review a few additional news stories from around the web:

From 247 Wall Street: Sirius (SIRI): Firing The CEO Does Nothing

A quote from the article: “Creditors do not seem to want to accept the inevitable. Sirius is almost surely dead, certainly as a public company and perhaps as a viable entity of any kind.” Ouch.

From MultiChannel News: Can Dish’s Ergen Be Sirius? - Buy Of Satellite-Radio Firm Offers Uncertain Upside

From the article: “How did it come to this? Just nine months ago, Sirius was riding high on its $13.6 billion merger with XM Satellite Radio. But a crushing debt load — $3.3 billion — a faltering economy and dim hopes for the future have put Sirius’ and Karmazin’s back up against the wall.”

From the Philadelphia Inquirer: Jonathan Takiff: Is satellite sunk? What may happen to Howard Stern & others if Sirius XM goes belly-up

From the article: “Worst still - for all you Howard Stern fanatics, music freaks and Major League Baseball game listeners out there - a breakup of the business seems a very real possibility.”

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Creditors may oust Sirius XM chief

Filed under: Radio Today — Charlie Summers @ 1:57 am

From CNET News: Creditors may oust Sirius XM chief

From the article: “‘Creditors will act quickly and definitively if they perceive that management is acting in their own interest and not in the best interest of the estate,’ Edward Weisfelner, a partner with Brown Rudnick, the law firm representing the creditor group, told the newspaper. ‘The board of directors should carefully consider the ramifications.’”

Things are getting interesting, but I’m going the heck to bed. Wonder who will own the company when I get up? ;)

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Sirius XM weighs offer from Liberty Media

Filed under: Radio Today — Charlie Summers @ 12:14 am

From Financial Times Alphaville: Sirius XM weighs up offer

FT Alphaville reports Sirius XM is weighing up a financing offer from Liberty Media ahead of a Tuesday deadline to repay $175m in bonds in a potential transaction seen as thwarting EchoStar’s attempt to take over the US satellite radio company. Dunno exactly what they are weighing, since it’s this or floating face-down, but…

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More Stories about the Sirius XM Disaster

Filed under: Radio Today — Charlie Summers @ 6:21 pm

From the Motley Fool: Speculation: More about Sirius XM (SIRI)

Even the Fool, which hasn’t been right about anything dealing with XM, agrees with the previously-blogged article.

From Rapid TVNews: Sirius-XM: Is Mel out of the DooDoo?

From the article: “These two giant media players [Echostar’s Charlie Ergen and Liberty Media’s John Malone], both based in Denver, Colorado, have reputations for playing the hardest of hard-ball. It is generally accepted that whoever ‘wins’ Sirius-XM will make significant alterations to the pay-radio outfit. Which is why Chapter 11 Bankruptcy might still end up being an attractive option for Karmazin’s team.”

From Advertising Age: Sirius XM Is Forced to Face the Music

From the article: “Mel Karmazin’s dream of creating an alternate radio business with Sirius XM Satellite Radio is turning into a nightmare, as slowing subscriber growth turns expensive talent into scary debt and the specter of bankruptcy looms large.”

From Follow the Media’s Tickle File: Satellites crashing

From the short: “Mel is trying to pull one more rabbit out of his sleeve. It will – in statistical likelihood – be his last. He needs to convince Liberty Media’s John Malone to buy a piece of Sirius XM’s junk debt, due February 17, to prevent bankruptcy. Mel is the world’s greatest salesman. John Malone didn’t just fall off the pumpkin truck.”

Ok, that one made me laugh. And if you’re curious about the upcoming debt payments, according to Rapid TVNews they are:

  • $175m due to Charlie Ergen this Tuesday
  • $350m due in May to a clutch of bankers
  • $227.5m due in December
  • $172.5m, now rolled over until June 2101

So it ain’t just the next two days that should be interesting…

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Sirius XM should dump satellites for the Web

Filed under: Radio Today — Charlie Summers @ 12:46 pm

From Sirius XM should dump satellites for the Web.

This article by Farhad Manjoo has some great ideas for salvaging Sirius XM…so of course, Mel will completely ignore it as he destroys the company.

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Website Viruses

Filed under: General — Charlie Summers @ 10:24 am

It’s been reported that a website popular with some OTR collectors (not all, by any stretch) is compromised, and spreading “trojan viruses” to visitors. While I wasn’t able to confirm, it isn’t terribly difficult for websites to infect visitors with various “bad things,” assuming the visitor leaves everything on their computer at the insecure defaults.

But you don’t need high-priced anti-virus applications to protect you from most of this gunk. A little “safe computing” goes a long way to protecting your computer, and by extension your personal information, from the organized bad guys out there. There are millions of people who don’t take precautions, so let them be the ones to become infected. For these instructions, we’re going to assume Windows, since it is the most popular and least-secure of the current operating systems:

  • Use an anti-virus program. There are a bunch of ‘em available on the Net at no charge for personal use, so there’s no reason not to use one. But run only one resident; more is not better in this case. (You may install more than one, and even use more than one to scan your computer, but only one should be run resident.)
  • Use Firefox. Simply switch your browser from the insecure Internet Explorer to Firefox, and your protection increases. Firefox is just an application, unlike IE which is tied deeply to the bowels of the operating system. That separation alone will add a layer of protection, ignoring the add-ons you can apply later.
  • Turn off java and javascript. This is the simplest thing you can do to prevent the nasties from landing on your machine. If you use Firefox (see above), you can use the NoScript plug-in to see to it the only time you run javascript is when you absolutely must.

These few simple changes-from-default will eliminate most (never all, unfortunately, but most) of the risk in “drive-by” infections.

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