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May 21, 2022 14:36 Pacific - The Rest of the Story

Now we think we know why Elon Musk took the operation (rumored to be a lobotomy) and turned into a Republican.  According to the Insider website, Musk was approached before his announcement to comment on allegations of sexual abuse; mere hours later, he miraculously became a Republican and warned that political hatchet jobs would follow.  Coincidence?

And now you know...the rest of the story.


May 21, 2022 12:51 Pacific - Burner Phones

Burner cell phones are just cell phones that are supplied with a certain number of prepaid minutes of use.

The big advantages of these phones are that you do not require a credit check (for the credit impaired) and they provide a level of anonymity (for those that are overly security conscious, such as those that operate on the wrong side of the law, or Snobby Broadcaster members), as there are no identity checks upon activation.

The downside is that the supplied minutes are usually limited, and purchasing additional minutes is very expensive.  Sometimes the minutes can even expire if not used within a certain period of time.

Still, if you're not going to use a phone except in the event of an emergency, they are an inexpensive way to go, as long as you keep track of your available minutes.


May 21, 2022 10:20 Pacific - Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg is a website that provides access to public domain books in a variety of formats.

It is an essential resource to determine the public domain status of books in the U.S., given the hodge podge of copyright laws there.

However, if a book is in the public domain in the U.S., it does not necessarily mean that it is in the public domain elsewhere.  Different countries have different copyright laws, and in most cases, they are much simpler than those of the U.S.  Canada, for example, up until the end of 2021, uses the 50 year rule - books go into the public domain 50 years after the last remaining author passes away.  That will change shortly to 70 years, thanks to the new NAFTA, but thankfully, those that have slipped into the public domain prior to the implementation of that new treaty remain there.

Most Berne Convention countries also follow the rule of the shorter term; simply, that means that if a book goes into the public domain in its country of origin (i.e., where it was first published, although that means less and less these days in the Internet age), then it goes into the public domain in all countries that adhere to that rule (regardless of those country's internal copyright rules).  Canada follows the rule of the shorter term with all Berne Convention countries except the U.S.A. and Mexico (again, thanks to the new NAFTA).  The U.S. does not follow the rule of the shorter term.

So, if you are in the U.S., you can see if a book is in the public domain by checking for it on the Project Gutenberg website.  For most other countries other than the U.S., to determine the copyright status of a book, you have to first determine its country of origin.  If it's in the public domain in that country, and your country uses the rule of the shorter term, then it's in the public domain in yours.  There are other Project Gutenberg sites that can help here - I've used Canada and Australia and there are more (Australia's is particularly good).  If it is copyrighted in the country of origin, you then have to go to your country's copyright rules to see if it's copyrighted there.  For example, most European countries now use the 70 year rule - Canada still uses 50, so it is entirely possible that a book whose author passed away in, say, 1960, will be copyrighted in its European country of origin, and yet be in the public domain in Canada).

Sound clear as mud? I agree.  Unfortunately, most copyright laws are anachronisms of the past, and really don't take into consideration the Internet. There tends to be little general interest in our cultural history (all you have to do is to look at the pitifully small number of downloads of most public domain books on the Project Gutenberg U.S. website).  I suspect that if there was to be a surge in interest for them, and potentially money to be made, you'd all of a sudden get dubious claimed copyright holders coming out of the woodwork, regardless of the laws (such as Warner Brothers claiming copyright to the song Happy Birthday for movies, until they lost in court - until that loss, it was usually cheaper for other film companies to either pay them off, or to use a substitute).  Or Radio Spirits claiming copyright to numerous OTR shows, despite the fact that they fell under the copyright renewal portions of the U.S. copyright laws, and there is no record of even one renewing its copyright.


May 21, 2022 8:43 Pacific - More About Cell Phones

Phones are primarily audio devices.  Cell phones add a screen, and become hybrids between visual and audio devices.  It's one of the reasons they can become so addicting - instant visual gratification, much like TV.  Add in things like social media, and you've got the recipe for a perfect storm.

There's been much made about the radiation emitted from cell phones.  Yes, if you hold them up constantly to your ear, you might have long-term problems.  Even holding them in your hands for long periods of time might be suspect.  The solution is - don't do that.

I personally only use the phone section of my cell phone for the occasional call.  There just aren't that many people that I want to talk to!  Today, a cell phone is almost essential for emergency communication, particularly with the demise of the public pay phone.  Even so-called landlines are generally internet-based - I doubt that the phone companies pull copper much anymore to new housing, and there's little incentive to fix issues if things go wrong.  So if the internet goes down, you're hooped.

Even radiation from cell phones can be mitigated.  First, it's all digital, which is much more efficient than analog.  There's a reason why even small cell phone batteries can last days.  The radios in cell phones only use the amount of power necessary to connect up to the nearest cell tower, so unless you're out in the sticks, chances are it's not using even close to it's maximum power output.

In addition to all that, you can generally control the radios in your cell phone.  You can turn off the cellular radio if you don't plan on using it - this has the added advantage of reducing spam calls.  If your phone has wi-fi (and that's recommended for a number of reasons), you can turn it off or on as needed.  Bltutooth (which most have), the same thing.  Of course, you can also shut the entire thing down and only power it up to use it, if you want.

Here are some of the features I'd look for in even a 'dumb' flip phone.  Wi-Fi, bluetooth, the capability to play music, e-mail, contact lists.  That's in addition to the phone and texting.  Wi-Fi is necessary for e-mail unless you have some data in your plan so you can use the cellular network.

The only difference between a so-called dumb phone, and a smart phone, is that the smart phones generally run Android (or in the case of the iPhone, IOS).  That allows you to run applications that can turn your phone into an e-reader, movie player, etc.  Dumb phones usually run proprietary operating systems that don't allow you to extend whatever functionality is already there.  Apps tend to be visual, so are less useful on the smaller screen of the flip phone.

I do recommend that you get as large a screen as possible on a flip phone, though, as the smaller screens can sometimes be tougher to read as you get older.  My smart flip, running Android, has a screen slightly less than 4 inches - I do occasionally use it as an e-reader if I'm stuck waiting somewhere, and Chrome is adequate for targeted browsing.  Anything much less than that would be dubious for those functions at best.

The primary function of my cell phone is music playing, both locally stored filees (more about that later) and Inernet Radio.

I also recommend purchasing your phone from the cellular provider you intend to use.  Different carriers use different frequencies, even within national boundaries, and internationally it's even more different.  You can be guaranteed that the phone will work on your carrier if you purchase it from that carrier.  The big disadvantage in doing that is that carriers typically lock those phones to their network (i.e., if you switch carriers, you can't use the phone with another carrier).  However, after being a customer for a while, you can usually request an unlock code from your carrier.  Here in Canada, the carriers are required by law to unlock your phone if requested; not sure about the U.S.

I purchased my smart flip - a Samsung Galaxy Golden - refurbished and unlocked.  It's a Korean model, and was a flagship phone in its day.  I made sure that the frequencies it supports were also supported by my intended provider, and it's great for my purposes.  It supports Micro SDXC cards, and I've added a 1TB one that holds my music and audiobook library.  I also have my e-book library on the phone for emergency reading purposes.  The phone cost a bit more than US$100, and there's nothing else quite like it.

Alternatives to the Galaxy Golden are the LG Smart Folder XS100 and the Samsung Galaxy Folder2 G160N.  Both are slightly newer than my model.  The LG has a smaller screen, runs a newer version of Android (V7), but only has a 32 bit processor.  The Folder2 runs Android V6, has a full 64 bit processor, larger screen, and is something I've been looking at as an upgrade to what I have.  The LG can be had for less than US$100, the Folder2 around US$150 or so (both refurbished).


May 20, 2022 17:35 Pacific - Factoids

Jack Boyle wrote the books that formed the basis of the Boston Blackie OTR series.

Sapper, a pen name for Herman Cyrill McNeile, created Bulldog Drummond.

S. S. Van Dine created  Philo Vance.

There are a number of books written by 'Nick Carter', a pen name used by a variety of contributing authors.

Artisan radio plays the OTR shows.  We also play the audiobooks of the original written words.  You can find the e-books at Project Gutenberg.


May 20, 2022 17:14 Pacific - Cell Phones

Edit: There used to be an Android flip phone available in North America - the ZTE Cymbol Z353VL on the Tracphone network (I b elieve it runs Android 5.1.1.  You can buy them new on e-bay for about US$40 plus shipping.  However, it's unclear whether you can still activate them on Tracphone.  Tracphone requires VOLTE and says these models are not supported.  However, you can't believe everything coming from any carrier's customer support - they're in the business of selling phones as well as services.  More research is required.

In the meantime, until it's determined otherwise, the advice to buy a dumb flip phone still applies.


May 20, 2022 15:58 Pacific - Cell Phones

Over at the Blare Blog, Carl describes his experiences in losing the Internet connection to his home, and how that cut him off from the rest of the world.  He has no cell phone, or any phone at all.

I currently use a 'smart' flip phone running Android that I obtained from Asia. I wanted something that I didn't have to (or, in fact, want to) use all the time, was easy to carry, and would serve as a vehicle for communication in the event I needed it.  It also does all the things a larger smart phone can do, just a little more ponderously due to the small screen.  So I have data and Internet access (through my cellular provider) if I really want or need it.  However, other than calling and texting, I really only use it to play Artisan Radio, and some locally stored music.

I wouldn't recommend going that route for someone who doesn't have much experience with cell phones.  The cellular frequencies in Asia can be different than those used in North America, and you really have to do your homework (including ensuring that the phone supports VOLTE - Voice over LTE).

What I would do is to buy a so-called 'dumb' flip phone from the provider that I intended to use - smart flips aren't generally available in North America.  Even these dumb phones give you the capability of texting, e-mail, contact lists, music playing, etc.  These cell phones are usually well under US$100 as a one time purchase.  You should be able to get an unlimited calling and texting plan for somewhere around US$15-20 per month.  If you add some data (for the e-mailing capability and internet radio stations), add another US5.

A small amount of money for a large amount of peace of mind.


May 19, 2022 17:24 Pacific - Literature

Who would have thought that Part 15 broadcasting would lead me into the wide, wonderful world of 18th, 19th and early 20th century literature.  That's what happens when you decide to broadcast public domain audio books.

I consider myself to be reasonably well read (going through many books a year, much more when I was younger).  But I'm floored by what I didn;t know about this stuff.

For example, I'm a great fan of the original Sherlock Holmes mysteries by Arthur Conan Doyle.  Were you aware that there was a French equivalent - Arsene Lupin - written by Maurice Leblanc?  In one book, Lupin even meets the famed English detective, Herlock Sholmes.  It was Sherlock Holmes in the original text, but the name had to be changed by the publisher at the last minute due to suit threats from Conan Doyle.  Even back then, copyright was an issue.

Or that Anna Katharine Green was praised as the American Agatha Christie?  She (Green) was very prolific and yet is virtually unheard of today.

Early 20th century mystery fiction even foreshadowed the battle for women;s rights with, get ready for this, actual female detectives.  Scandalous!

No de-colonization required.


May 19, 2022 8:32 Pacific - X Minus One

Listened to a great OTR show last night - X Minus One (11:00 PM Pacific, each and every day).  The show was adapted from a story by Clifford Simak, and titled How-2.  It contained everything - self-replicating robots, humor, and moral/ethical messages regarding taxation and sentience (for the robots - imo most humans aren't sentient).  Highly recommended.

It's these kinds of listening experiences that conclusively demonstrate music isn't the only worthwhile programming for radio.  In fact, music pales in comparison to what is possible with other media.


May 18, 2022 18:15 Pacific - Part 15 - A Vehicle for Education

Attempting to run a Part 15 differently than the big boys has paid big dividends, at least for me personally.

Artisan Radio plays public domain material only.  For us, that means early 20th century musical recordings, audiobooks placed into the public domain (of similar vintage books), and Old Time Radio shows.

I've discovered that there's a treasure trove of impressive, mostly classical, music pre 1922.  I'm even more impressed with the literature of those times.  Science fiction, fantasy, adventure, mystery - it's all there, and amazingly enjoyable.

Much you will never have heard of, or read, or listened to.  This is the reason for a public domain - it rescues historical items (that modern publishers aren't interested in, as they won't make as much money) from obscurity. In many cases, these items overshadow modern entertainment and put it to shame.  In the process, it widens the culture of today.

How can you be better now if you don't know what went on yesterday?


May 18, 2022 17:34 Pacific - A Few Random Thoughts on a Windy Day

The U.S. calls for Russia's seized assets around the world to be used to rebuild Ukraine.  Russia protests and calls that theft.  But it's OK to invade a country, kill innocent civilians and destroy cities?

Over at Snobby Broadcaster they're still talking about musical audio purity in Part 15 over-the-air broadcasting. First of all, why should only music be broadcast? That's what the big boys do and we're supposed to be different.  Secondly, why worry and spend hundreds of dollars to purify an audio signal that maybe goes a few hundred feet before static gets introduced (and it only gets worse the further you go on)?  Here at Artisan Radio we're more concerned about what we play.  We make it sound the best we can, but a lot of the source material for what is played is suspect.

Elon Musk now says that he will be voting Republican from now on.  He tweeted that the Democrats used to be the party of kindness, but now they're the party of division and hate.  Does that mean that he feels that Trump, Greene, McCarthy, Gaetz et al are now miraculously filled with the milk of human kindness?  That Trump put children in cages at the border for their own good?  That he wanted to shoot protesters in the legs to help them?  Let us know, Elon.  We're waiting anxiously for your clarifications.


May 12, 2022 17:08 Pacific - What Should Be Canceled

Why are the words of high ranking Russian officials, effectively war criminals for supporting Putin's Ukraine war and accompanying genocide, allowed to be on the airwaves outside of Russia? This isn't news by any stretch of the imagination (if there are facts in those words, I haven't found them), but the redissemination of propaganda and fear-mongering.

I can understand FOX, ONN and the like doing it (they contain mostly right wing propaganda anyway), but surely CNN, MSNBC and the others can do better.


May 12, 2022 17:00 Pacific - More Cancel Culture

Just after I previously finished writing about cancel culture, I saw an online article that talked about the canceling of period dress in a pioneer village museum here in Vancouver.  It was done to reduce the appearance of 'colonialism' (yes, they really said that).  Forget about history and all that trivial stuff, i.e., the reason why the museum exists.

What are these people going to do next?  Ban all music, TV programs, movies and books prior to a certain agreed upon date, because they may contain material that some may find sensitive or demeaning?

You can't change history.  All you can do is learn from it.  Which you can't do if you bury it.


May 9, 2022 8:48 Pacific - A Belated Mother's Day Greeting

Happy Mother's Day


May 9, 2022 8:06 Pacific - Cancel Culture

Recently, I struggled with a dilemma.  All the music played on Artisan Radio is in the Public Domain in Canada and the U.S., and consists primarily of acoustic recordings 1921 and earlier.  Some of them feature Russian-associated artists, such as Rachmaninoff.  In light of the current world situation, should I play them?

Here are my thoughts on the matter, and ultimately for cancel culture in general.  I believe that the current sanctions on Russia are justified.  Punish Russia economically along with their prestige (which is taken very seriously by them), and it puts great pressure on their leadership to stop what they're doing.

Some would argue that current Russian performers, sports personalities, etc. have little to nothing to do with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the megalomaniac sociopath behind it.  They generally don't, personally.  Taken as a group, however, they have everything to do with it; the intent of the sanctions is to isolate Russia and the only way to do that is to cut off everyone and everything currently Russian from the rest of the world.

But what does an early 20th century pianist/composer have to do with current events?  Russians performing in that era have no relationship to what is happening today, and acting as if they didn't exist is just plain silly.  Ignoring history is never a good idea, whether it be related to politics, or culture.  And the music these people produced is important to the world.

So I've decided to play the music.  No cancel culture here.  However, even if I could (i.e., it was royalty free), I wouldn't play any music from current Russian performers.  The Russia of today deserves to be isolated until they stop their invasion of Ukraine.

Artisan Radio also plays Public Domain OTR shows and audio books.  These shows and books may contain elements of what would be called racism or sexism today.  Listeners have to understand that, and take them for what they are - historical audio documents that reflect the era in which they were created.  I'd like to say that we're more enlightened now, but with the rise of Trump and the far right around the world, I really can't.


May 8, 2022 21:33 Pacific - RIP Dennis Waterman

I was quite surprised today to learn of the passing of Dennis Waterman, only 74.  He was a great singer, songwriter and (to most people) actor.  His music charted primarily in the UK, Australia and New Zealand.  Why is it that so much crap charts here in North America?

Anyway, here is a memorable performance of his with Val Doonican.


May 7, 2022 17:04 Pacific - My Body, My Choice?

The same people in the U.S. (anti-maskers, anti-vaxers) who scream that it's my body, my choice, are cheering the apparent future reversal of Roe vs Wade.  I guess that my body, my choice, doesn't apply to pregnant females.  What hypocrites!


April 30, 2022 08:51 Pacific - Defending Against Fruit

It turns out that Trump was afraid of being attacked with fruit.  "That stuff can kill you", he apparently stated in a recent deposition (and no, I'm not making this up)..

Here's something that might help...

How To Defend Being Attacked By Fruit-Wielding Fiends


April 28, 2022 18:45 Pacific - Still More

Very early cylinder recordings.

The UC Santa Barbara Library


April 28, 2022 18:30 Pacific - More of the Same

This one is on Youtube, an anonymous collector who posts early recordings...

OnkleGreifenklau

Again, from my deep diving on Archive.org.


April 27, 2022 18:59 Pacific - Another Programming Source

SLUB

Don't ask me what it stands for, but it's located in Germany.  It's an archive full of historical music recordings, mostly opera and voice and almost all European.  A lot of the material is in the public domain here in North America.  I found a link to it while searching through acoustic recordings in Archive.org.

The real nice thing is that you can filter by timeline (publishing date); in my case, to make sure that it's in the public domain, anything published in 1921 and prior.  It's all in the public domain in most of Europe.

I've only just scratched the surface of what's there, but what I have listened to is in relatively good condition.  The recordings on Archive.org, because they come from multiple sources, tend to be all over the map in terms of quality (some almost pristine, some just awful).

SLUB posts the raw recordings, without processing, so if you want to apply some noise filtering, you can.  I usually do some mild processing to get rid of excessive hiss (necessary for broadcasting, imo) and pops/clicks if they're really annoying.


April 25, 2022 17:14 Pacific - All the News That Isn't Fit To Print

Heard on the radio today that Elon Musk is buying Twitter.  He's been quite outspoken about letting it be a true platform for 'freedom of speech', and being concerned that it's veered away from that (particularly after Trump was banned).  Guess who he's going to allow to come back?

What Musk and others don't realize (or maybe they do) is that there's a huge difference between free speech, where people can voice their opinions (no matter how stupid they are) and propaganda.  Propaganda is where coordinated groups of people and bots say things that they know aren't true to achieve an objective, usually for personal and/or political gain.

Which brings me to another aspect of propaganda - the TV interview.  The Russian ambassador to Canada was interviewed by a Canadian nation TV network, and of course, he spewed out the standard Russian propaganda about the illegal war in the Ukraine.  The interviewers must have known what he would say; hell, I'm sure most people with some semblance of a brain knew what he would say.  So why give him the airspace?  On National TV!?

Several generations are being raised and overly influenced by bite-sized pieces of misinformation from social and the broadcast media.  Critical thought and rational thinking is going by the wayside - you can't fit them into 280 characters or a few minutes of TV.  If we have a future, I fear what it's going to look like.


April 13, 2022 15:50 Pacific - Network Update

We are up and running on the new ISP.

The ISP claimed that they did nothing - it all just started to work.  Not sure I entirely believe that.  They did reset the ADSL router, so that could have been the cause.  It was also suggested that since it was about 24 hours since the installation, I might have been migrated to the public network.  But I think that they quietly changed the configuration behind the scenes and didn't want to admit it.  If everyone complained and got NAT 4-4, it would defeat the purpose of the NAT 4-4-4 hack in the first place.

The real solution is for everyone to go to IPV6, but it's the same old problem as with Digital Radio or Stereo AM.  Never mind the stuff that the ISP's have to replace; you have all this old customer equipment 'out there' and a lot doesn't support it.  Or it claims to support it, but it's never really been used in the field as such.

I was extremely lucky to get a service representative who actually knew what he was doing, and he went above and beyond to help me confirm that things were indeed working.

Anyway, the main thing is that the new network should be a bit more reliable.  Speeds with my old ISP (using cable) tended to really slow down in the middle of the day.  I've found that ADSL, while not giving you the blinding speed peaks that cable claims (and rarely delivers), tends to be much more consistent in its actual speeds.

Onwards and upwards.


April 13, 2022 11:07 Pacific - Sociopaths and OTR

I was listening to the Artisan Radio stream last night, and heard a compelling OTR show in Arch Oboler's Plays (11:30 PM PDT).

'The Laughing Man' was presented as one of three plays in that show, originally broadcast on Everyman's Theatre in 1940.  Set in a world 20,000 years from then, it tells of how a document from this era is found perfectly preserved, describing world events of the time.  It's a satiric swipe at man's (gender neutral) inhumanity to man, with racism, wars, other atrocities common.

While it was broadcast during WWII, unfortunately, it's still meaningful today with the continuing existence of sociopath autocrats, both in power and hoping to be.

Arch Oboler was an incredible playwright.  In addition to his Plays shows, which had 3 runs (early 40s, mid 40s and then 1964), he also wrote a number of scripts for the acclaimed show Lights Out.  Many of his works had horror/science fiction themes interwoven, but they focused mainly on the people and their struggles of the time.

The closest I can come to describing his work is "Stephen King writing plays".


April 13, 2022 11:00 Pacific - If It Works, Don't Change (Unless You Have To)

Well, we here at Artisan Radio (i.e., me), have had an interesting few days.

We're in the process of switching to a new Internet Provider.  The installation went quickly and everything at first seemed to work.  Then the roof caved in.

Most Internet Providers still use NAT 4-4 for dynamic IP addressing, i.e., you get a public IP address and you then set up Port Forwarding within your LAN router.

Well, this ISP uses NAT 4-4-4.  That means that your router gets a Private IP address that is translated somewhere within the bowels of the ISP to a public IP.  It gives them many more IPV4 addresses, but it also means that you cannot establish any incoming connections, as their equipment doesn't know where to send them.

I managed to get someone who knows what they're talking about in the ISP's technical support, and am attempting to move to NAT 4-4.  Guess we'll see if this is an abortive experiment.

In the meantime, I cancelled the cancellation of our existing ISP, and the stream is ticking along.  More coming...


April 7, 2022 19:01 Pacific - Remote Desktop Connection

In my final configuration, I will have a laptop installed next to an FM transmitter.  The laptop will be controlled and maintained, when necessary, by a Remote Desktop Connection.

I just resolved an interesting problem that is certainly not unique, as evidenced by google searches.  The Remote Client on a Windows 10 machine was gettiing hung up on the Welcome screen (to the Windows 7 laptop sourcing the transmitter).

Apparently there is a bug in Windows 10 that requires you to disable UDP connections when using Remote Desktop.  Unfortunately, that wasn't the problem for me, although it apparently happens quite frequently for that reason to other users.

After some narrowing down of the problem, it was determined that The Intel Wireless management software that was installed along with the drivers on that laptop was disconnecting from the network when the Remote Desktop session was initiated (I found this out  by using an Ethernet connection and things worked!).

The issue was fixed by doing a custom installation, only installing the driver, and using the Windows 7 wireless management utility.  Note to self - understand what a 'typical' installation means before clicking on it.

Anyway, we're now running a test stream in pretty much the production software and hardware configuration.  If things go well, we'll go live by the weekend.


April 7, 2022 18:54 Pacific - AM or FM

Mark from over at Part15.org checks in with (in part):

My listeners when asked what they prefer as I was on FM before said stay where you are now!, and even commented on how good I sound and asked how I do it. Surprised me that they preferred the AM to the FM.
 
I tried some FM tests in the so called empty spot(s) and realized legal BETS coverage is no match for AM, even if there is clear space. It's field strength and there's nothing you can do about it.  Also I like "making AM radio great again" as my format is where it's supposed to be. We all grew up with a favorite station on AM if it was the 50s, 60s, and 70s, and even early eighties. With some tweaking of the antenna placement and the in the case "ground" I made I am getting good performance from a basement!
That's great Mark, and illustrates the necessity for testing and experimentation in Part 15 broadcasting.  No one individual or website can give you the ultimate template of what to do.  You have to try things out for yourself and see what's best in your own, unique situation.

As for me, I'm staying on FM - right now, it's the best choice for me.  As for the Decade vs the Whole House, and 89.9 vs 103.9, I'll try all combinations out and then make my final choice.


April 5, 2022 17:04 Pacific - Stream Test a Success

No real issues were found during the stream test.  It ran for about a day and a half on a Portege i7 under Windows 10 with no hiccups.  I'm going to try it on a Dell 6420 i5 under Windows 7 next, as Windows 10 tends to update whenever it feels like it and could knock the station off the air.

The Dell had peformance issues running Windows 10, but I have to admit that I didn't do a clean install on it like I usually do, and relied on the reseller's installation.  That might have been a mistake, as the audio never really ran efficiently.  Dell doesn't support Windows 10 on it either, so I don't even know what device drivers were used.

Anyway, after I installed Windows 7, it runs a lot snappier, and a lot cooler as well.  If it is used for radio automation, the only network connection it will have is the one between BUTT (the stream encoder) and the IceCast server software running on a, hold on, stay seated, dedicated server.

The stream is in the OPUS format, mono, 16Kbps VBR, which is more than enough for marginally sounding OTR, acoustic recordings, and audiobook recordings.  In fact, I notice no difference through headphones between the original audiobook 64kbps mp3's and the 16kbps OPUS stream.  You could listen to Artisan Radio 24/7 through your smartphone all month and only use 6GB of data (approximately).


April 4, 202212:15 Pacific - Mark Talks About Space on the FM Dial

The space at 103.9, where you are, is it empty or is there stations on each side? This is the big problem with FM....SPACE!
 
In Toronto the only space with vacancies on each side, as a regular radio can't separate them like the car can, is 89.9 but even there there's a repeater of an Oshawa country station that is supposed to cover the Kawartha and Muskoka areas north of Toronto and also like *your* occasional station on 89.9, kills my range. 90.7 is technically open with space on each side but a CBC repeater that you shouldn't get here normally as it is again for the Orillia area but on good radios like the car it comes in and kills any range.
 
There are lots of clear spaces with nothing but hiss which is what you are looking for, but always adjacent to a local or other strong signal that on a "regular radio" would just drown me out as they are not nearly as selective except for a HI FI tuner.
 
I would be on FM first choice but there's these problems. Here there's one other possibility at 103.5 but a weaker station from Barrie, 60km north of Toronto sometimes comes in and would screw me up sometimes.
 
I may get out the MS-100 and try 89.9 again and change my station id's and tell my listeners but part 15(RSS-210) AM will still get you farther that BETS-1 FM will. But clean space with vacant or nearly vacant space on each side is a problem unless I move 100km north or northeast of Toronto to at least loose the Buffalo stations.

Mark

103.9 here has empty channels on both sides, but there is some sort of buzzing interference on the channel itself.  No idea where it comes from, but it's strong enough to affect range significantly.  I used 103.9 when I was in West Vancouver, as the interference just wasn't there in that location.

89.9 has empty space on one side, a weaker station on the other side.  But the Seattle station on 89.9 comes in at times and affects range as well.  There is virtually no other space on the dial, so FM is certainly a compromise.  However, for an apartment, it's still the best option available.  Height does make some difference, helping out.  But I still remember Bowen Island fondly, where there were several completely open channels, and range was significantly better.  Of course, it also helped that the transmitter was on a rooftop, on the side of a hill, with the target listening area below (so virtually no obstructions except trees).

That's why experimentation is required unless you get lucky the first time.  There are so many factors that can negatively affect range in Part 15 broadcasting, particularly so on AM.  Almost as many on FM, but they're different.  As an example, I find that even certain types of weather (such as hot & humid) can cut range up to half on FM.


April 4, 202210:52 Pacific - Methinks He Protests Too Much

I seem to have touched a nerve over at Hobbybroadcaster with my thoughts on the SSTran testing in the AM Transmitter Challenge.

No less than 4 of the 7 topics publicly seen on the Hobbybroadcaster Forums this morning dealt with Class E amplifiers and/or the SSTran.   Despite their protestations otherwise, they appear to read outside Forums and Blogs.  Obviously, those topics have been revived to 'prove' to others that the chief bottlewasher knows what he's talking about with Class E.

If he was familiar (although he did a good job of imitating ignorance), then why did he stop testing the SSTran during the Challenge when it was obvious that it was mistuned?  And published the results? Someone familiar should have realized exactly what was wrong.

You'll note that in every description of the challenge, it is stated that the transmitters were tuned according to the documentation provided.  It is certainly valid to criticize the documentation, and even the use of Class E in the transmitter (with its tuning difficulties).  But that doesn't excuse not using your supposed knowledge and expertise to get the best results, despite the documentation.

Only one of two things can be true.  The testers either were ignorant of the technical reasons behind the mistuning (what I believe, based on subsequent discussion in their Forum), or they knew (which they're attempting to sell now) and for reasons best known to themselves, were quite content to deliberately report misleading results.  Neither is a good look on that site, and those who run it.

And no amount of theoretical discussion now will resolve the issue of exactly how good the SSTran is/was compared to those other transmitters.

This is the exact definition of bad science and engineering.


April 3, 2022 22:04 Pacific - Over-The-Air

The intention is to broadcast Monster Thriller Horror Theatre over-the-air once the testing has been completed, even if I will probably be the only one listening.

I have 2 transmitters - a Decade MS-100 and a Whole House V3.  Both get about the same range from the same location in my apartment (overlooking the Town Square).  Range is helped by the open space and the fact that the transmitter is high up (about 80 feet) in front of windows.  Still, it's about 200 meters relatively clean, after which fenceboarding and fadeouts occur.

There are really only two open frequencies on the FM band in my area, and one is marginal.  On 89.9, a Seattle God station sometimes rolls in, but both transmitters seem to get a bit better range there than the other frequency.  That frequency is 103.9, and it's clear of radio stations, but there's still some buzzing interference from an unknown source.

AM is a no go in a concrete, rebar-reinforced building.  Even in front of windows, there's just far too much interference.

So, 4 possibilities.  More testing on the way.


April 3, 2022 21:41 Pacific - Revising History

I was doing some Internet surfing the other day, and ran across the SSTran 5000 'review' published by Hobbybroadcaster.  The problem is that it was different than what I remembered.  And I have an excellent memory.

The AM Transmitter Challenge was conducted by Hobbybroadcaster in 2013 (they started talking about it in late 2012).  It was clear that the testers didn't understand why the SSTran fared so poorly in the testing, and they made no attempt during the testing at finding out why (instead blaming the documentation).

That led to an interesting discussion in the Hobbybroadcaster Forums, which postulated the potential reasons why.  Again, it was obvious that the chief bottle washer there still didn't understand until much later (a few of the engineers that frequented the site at that time had to explain the difficulties of Class E tuning)..

Some time after these events, Hobbybroadcaster did a formal review of the SSTran, which was basically a hatchet job of the transmitter, only regurgitating the results of the Challenge.  There was no attempt to test the transmitter further.  This was probably in 2014 but I have to admit that I just gave up at that point.

Now, apparently, some time after that (in 2015), the review was revisited and modified to include some loaded questions and SSTran answers (that arrived after the fact).  Again, no further attempt appears to have been made to test the transmitter and to correct the apparent mistuning that caused the poor results in the Challenge.

Why they even bothered to do the review (both of them) I'll never know.  No new information was presented.  I can only conclude that they wanted to twist the knife further into SSTran for whatever reason.

Talk about biased, unscientific reporting.  And these guys claim to be the go to site for Part 15 broadcasting.


April 3, 2022 21:28 Pacific - Monster Thriller Horror Theatre

For the past few hours and into tomorrow, Artisan Radio is running a test stream for the title of this blog entry.

The programming consists of adventure, mystery, science fiction and horror OTR shows from 08:00-24:00.  An audiobook recording from those genres will be played at 00:00 (24:00).  After that completes, we will then go off the air until 08:00.

Filling up the gaps between OTR half hour shows will be early 20th century, acoustic-era music, both popular and classical.

All programming is in the public domain in both Canada and the U.S.  Other countries are geo blocked, even though it should be in the public domain there as well.

If the test goes well, we'll be kicking off the official stream later this week.  So far, we have 3 months of programming 'in the can'.


March 29, 2022 15:48 Pacific - I Stand Corrected

In my last blog entry, I wrote that the SSTran used in the AM Transmitter Challenge was obtained from an undisclosed source.  It appears that in the final report, the source was disclosed (a Hobbybroadcaster Forum member) but it makes no difference to the critique.  That comes from Mark, a moderator over at Part 15.org, making comments at the Blare Blog.

It's interesting that Mark goes on to talk about the Talking House transmitter and some of its faults.  I've never had much success with the Talking House.  I've owned multiples, but few have ever worked correctly.  Quality control used to atrocious (don't know about now).

In fact, I've used practically every Part-15 certified AM transmitter that has ever been manufactured,  I've had the most success with two - the Hamilton Rangemaster and the Talking Sign (from the folks who now manufacture the ProCaster).  I was able to transmit a hum-free signal out to a mile and beyond (received on a good car radio) with both.  I attribute the success to excellent installation factors  If I had used an SSTran or a Procaster in the same situation, I would likely have had the same results.  I can say that because the same Rangemaster and Talking Sign performed abysmally in a different locale, where ground conductivity was poor.

I would go so far as to say that installation and where you are located makes far more difference to the range you're going to get than the transmitter.

Just as in real estate, success with with Part 15 AM broadcasting is all about Location Location Location!


March 29, 2022 8:32 Pacific - The Great Part 15 Fraud

It's interesting to see that the chief bottlewasher over at Hobbybroadcaster still has a hard-on with regard to SSTran and their superb transmitters.

I find it difficult to take seriously anything he says regarding SSTran when he perpetrated what is perhaps the greatest Part 15 fraud of all time - his so-called AM Transmitter Challenge.

This Challenge was supposed to compare the field strength of multiple Part 15 compliant AM transmitters 'out of the box' in a strictly controlled setting.

In fact, the Challenge had built-in biases from the very beginning.

The SSTran is a kit; the other transmitters all come factory assembled.

The owner of SSTran refused to provide a transmitter for evaluation to the Challenge, based on the history of criticism levied towards his products from the website in the past.  So a transmitter, already assembled, in unknown shape and with unknown characteristics, was obtained from an undisclosed source.

The transmitters that placed in the top of the Challenge came from a distributor, who not so coincidentally also was involved directly in the Challenge.  You can bet that those transmitters were tuned to within an inch of compliance beforehand.

The SSTran fared so poorly in the Challenge (compared to ancedotal, real-world experiences of users) that it was obvious even to a grade-schooler that something was wrong.  And yet, no attempt was made by the testers to determine what was wrong.

In fact, the poor result for the SSTran was noticed (I'll let you judge whether they were grade-schoolers).  After the results of the Challenge were published,  Hobbybroadcaster members discussed the reasons why, and it was concluded that the transmitter was tuned incorrectly.  I know, because I followed that discussion; this was before the chief bottlewasher locked down his Forum Putin-like so that only 'acceptable' thoughts could be read by outsiders.  I wouldn't even be surprised if he's selectively edited that discussion behind his paywall to change history.

Of course, none of this is mentioned when the Challenge is bragged about.  After all, what's a bit of bias amongst 'friends'.


March 27, 2022 9:21 Pacific - More Testing

Throughout the day.


March 26, 2022 16:24 Pacific - Test Over

It works.

However, I'm doing heavy duty audio processing on the test computer other than running the radio automation, and it's interfering.  So the next step is to transfer the working system to the production computer, where it will run all on its lonesome.


March 26, 2022 12:29 Pacific - Test Stream Running

Artisan Radio, at least for Saturday, is running a test stream, consisting of Public Domain mystery short story audiobooks, one per hour.  If the story is less than an hour, the remaining time is taken up with historical, acoustic era, audio recordings.

I have to say that filling up the remaining hour, a task relatively easy in Zara Radio, was not easily apparent in Foobar2000.  Documentation on the scheduling plugin for Foobar is virtually nonexistent, and Zara stretches the idea of a playlist far beyond Foobar.  It took a good deal of experimentation to come up with a solution.  The end result just happens to be simpler than in Zara, and as such, fairly elegant.

I'm currently working on several other short story playlists, including horror, science fiction, philosophy, politics literary criticism, essays and much more.  That's the mechanical part.  The artistic part is how to schedule the material.  Horror at night, obviously.

Also thinking of names to call some of the shows.  With apologies to SCTV, one thought is Mystery Chiller Horror Theatre.

Addendum: The test stream can be accessed through the Icecast directory http://dir.xiph.org/search and search for Artisan.


March 24, 2022 11:46 Pacific - Would You Like a Stream Sample?

One of the interesting factoids that has come out of my Opus deep dive is that a requested sampling rate doesn't mean much.  The sampling rate for an Opus stream or encode is always set a 48000Khz.  The original sampling rate, if any, is stored in the header.  Both the encoder and decoder set the most appropriate sampling rate within each frame, depending on a set of factors, including the audio data, playback environment, etc.

A very interesting approach, and one that I only stumbled upon when thinking of using different, lower sampling rates for re-encoding OTR.  Turns out it didn't matter - everything was encoded, at least apparently, at 48K, but the results (including bitrate) depended on the audio quality of the recording.  Bitrate in VBR mode to Opus is just a suggestion.


March 24, 2022 11:35 Pacific - Partisan Radio

In the latest post over at the Blare Blog, this radio station was referred to by one of his correspondents as Partisan Radio.

I wear that badge proudly.  However, I don't think we'll be changing our name.

From the Webster dictionary:

History and Etymology for artisan

borrowed from Middle French, borrowed from an Upper Italian equivalent of Italian (Tuscan) artigiano, from arte "craft, ART entry 1" (going back to Latin art-, ars) + -igiano, adjective suffix of appurtenance, from Vulgar Latin *-ēs- (going back to Latin -ensis, adjective suffix of place) + Latin -iānus -IAN

Perhaps I should come up with a motto that reflects both artisan and partisan, and keeps the radical right away.

Such as, "We use words with more than 2 syllables".

"An attention span is highly recommended".

Or perhaps "Centre of the Cultural Universe".

To a right wing Trump supporter, those would be like garlic is to a vampire.


March 24, 2022 9:28 Pacific - Trudeau

Some Canadian websites and media outlets are gleefully reporting criticism Trudeau has taken during his NATO summit trip  this week (about his actions surrounding the recent Trucker Convoy), specifically from several EU MP's, including Christine Anderson.

Now for the rest of the story.  The critics are all far right wing radicals.  You know, the equivalent of Trump supporters such as Marjorie Green or Josh Hawley.  I think if I were Trudeau, and wasn't criticized by the like of those 'people', I'd really be worried.


March 23, 2022 10:45 Pacific - Wherefore art thou, Opus?

There are lots of media players on the PC that support Opus files.  And certanly more than a few that support Opus streaming.  I've been using VLC, MPV and Foobar.

The problems come in trying to find a player for a mobile phone.  Not so much Opus files, as again there are lots of apps that support them - streams are the issue.  There are plenty of Internet Radio station apps (and I'm sure that lots support Opus streams), but most of those don't allow you to specify your own URL (necessary for Part 15'ers unless you're doing it as a business and can listed).  Those that do, namely Xiia Live and Shoutcast Audio Player, don't seem to support Opus streams.  On my older mobile phone, I can use VLC wth some issues, and MX Player.  VLC appears to stumble over the voice parts of the stream, which leads me to believe that they don't implement the two encoder scheme of Opus very well.  Mx Player works just fine, and thankfully, all you need is one app to work.

Interestingly enough, neither VLC or Mx Player work on Opus streams in later versions, which my newer phone runs.  Luckily, I've gone back to using my old phone, as it's smaller and easier to carry, and all I use the 'smart' features for is audio.  Plus, it's kind of neat and retro (it's a flip phone that runs Android, and was a flagship device in its day - it can even support micro SD cards up to 512GB, the IVONA voices and more).


March 22, 2022 19:09 Pacific - Bill the Cat & Trump

Priceless!

And more...

Ack! Thppt!


March 22, 2022 14:36 Pacific - Bloom County Chronicles

Here is the sofrware pipeline I've set up to broadcast/stream Opus.

Foobar is the media player, with a Scheduler plugin, a TTS plugin, and a plugin to create a currentsong.txt file.  Butt is the encoder.

First, a word about broken links.  Ever wanted to download something, and found that the link no longer existed?  There's a quick and easy way around that.  Use the Wayback Machine over at Archive.org.  It continuously takes snapshots of sites on the Internet, the more popular the site, the more snapshots.  Luckily, such repositories as bitblocker and dropbox are represented quite a lot.  Just go to a snapshot for a date in which you feel the link would have been active, and download what you need.  That's what I was forced to do with the TTS plugins, as for some reason they're no longer in the 'official' foobar component list.

Anyway, the scheduler plugin is more sophisticated that scheduling in Zara.  You create an event, then associate an action with that event, and there are a large number of possible actions.

The TTS works nicely, allowing you to plunk in the voiceover at the beginning or the end of whatever is playing, and it also allows you to choose the format of what will be said (it uses the song tags, even Opus ones).  The one possible drawback is that output appears to go to the default audio device (you're supposed to be able to choose), but all you have to do is set the default to the same output device as foobar.  More playing around is needed.

Foobar itself is very flexible, much more so than Zara or Winamp, And there are lots of both 'official' and unofficial plugins floating around.  Its drawback is that there is only one type of playlist, nothing analogous to Zara's .rot (which I find very useful).  But I can live with that.  foobar does seem to keep track of the last track played in a playlist, which is essentially what a .rot is anyway.

I looked for a streaming plugin that would support Opus.  There's an edcast one with ogg, and a separate ogg/vorbis one.  But no opus, so I had to use Butt (which in itself is very flexible and has some nice features, including a separate compressor/equalizer for the stream only).

I'm still playing around with bitrates.  The sources are in 64kbps stereo opus, at least for now.  Streaming at 48kpbs stereo opus sound good.  32kbps mono will be fine for the public Artisan Radio stream, which will consist of public domain acoustic music and voice recordings.


March 21, 2022 21:26 Pacific - Re Opus: Software Results & Thoughts

The Opus plugin works great in Winamp Lite (and presumably Winamp Full).

Not impressed with RadioDJ.  A pain to install, as the documentation doesn't match up with reality.  And then couldn't edit the options due to not having permissions?  When I'm running as administrator.  Obviously a work in progress.  I also thought the UI looked ugly, and it had far more features that your run of the mill Part 15 broadcaster would ever need or use.  Zara is elegant in its relative simplicity.  I've read reviews that claimed Zara is unstable, but in my experience, that's not the case - I've often run it for days and weeks at a time on a dedicated computer.  Usually the instability is caused by other things you're doing on that computer - Windows isn't the greatest for multitasking.

I've found a couple of radio scheduling plugins for Winamp that I'll be trying out.  Foobar will also play Opus files, and it has a scheduling plugin as well.  I've given BUTT a casual once over and it looks reasonable, much more sophisticated than Edcast.


March 21, 2022 14:24 Pacific - Trump to Ukraine

Donald Trump Jr. was mocked recently for suggesting that his father, Trump Sr. should be sent to Ukraine to assist in negotiations with Putin.

I think he should be sent to Russia. Trump can help Russia file for bankruptcy.


March 21, 2022 14:14 Pacific - SSD's Redux

I had purchased 2 relatively fast (Portege i7) used laptops recently for less than the usual price of 1.  I was disappointed to find out, however, that one was lacking its SSD drive.  I obtained a refund from the seller to allow me to purchase one, and thought everything was a go.

Well, it turns out that the BIOS on this laptop had a supervisor password.  That means it is locked, and you are unable to change anything.  And the BIOS was set to boot off of USB and nothing else.  The only way to get rid of that password is to send the computer in for service to the manufacturer; they have specialized software that generates a response code to a challenge that is issued when you attempt to change it.

So I decided to go with it (in part, because the seller was useless, refused to do anything about it and the case was already closed in ebay so I had no further recourse)..  I purchased an inexpensive flash drive with USB 3 and used a tool called Rufus, along with the Windows 10 iso (which is still available for download) to create a bootable drive.

Windows 10 boots up from the flash drive and the internal SSD is now a data drive.  The system is as fast and robust as the other laptop.


March 21, 2022 12:26 Pacific - Bloom County?

Bloom County is one of my favorite comic strips of all time.  After all, who can forget Bill the Cat or Opus?

And that leads me to the Opus audio codec that I've been playing around with.  I have an application that requires me to squeeze as many audio files I can into a limited amount of space, while still sounding decent.  64kbps MP3 mono sounds OK, not quite as good as FM radio.  I tried AAC, and the files are a bit smaller for the same audio quality.  Then I remembered Carl Blare over at the Blare Blog talking about Opus.

The great thing about Opus is that it sounds great (and I do mean great) in 64kbps STEREO.  32kbps mono is about the same as 64kpbs MP3.  And the files are much smaller in VBR mode, which is the default.

I've experimented with 32kpbs OPUS at 22050 sampling rates for OTR (mostly voice), and it sounds as good as 64kpbs or 128kpbs sampling at 44100. Quite an accomplishment.

Unfortunately Opus, which replaces OGG, is not supported in Zara or Edcast.  BUTT supports it and Icecast, so I suppose if I standardize on Opus (I'm leaning that way), I'll have to use it.  There's an Opus plugin for Winamp, and the older version of Zara, 1.4.4, supports Winamp plugins, so perhaps that might be a way to go.  Otherwise, I might have to look at Radio DJ, another freeware radio automation tool.


March 15, 2022 16:25 Pacific - Cloning a Hard Drive

One of the better ways to speed up an older computer used for radio automation is to replace the hard drive with a solid state drive (SSD). The best way is to add more memory, but if you're already maxed out, that's not an option.

The process can be pretty simple.  You need to purchase the appropriate SSD for your computer, in my case a Dell laptop.  There are different types of SSD's - 2.5 inch HDD replacements, m(mobile)Sata, m2.Sata, etc.  I purchased a 2.5 inch, put it into an enclosure, and then cloned my system hard drive.

There is plenty of software that can do the cloning, some free.  I used Macrium Reflect, which can also be used for backups.   First you connect the destination drive to your computer.  Then, go into Reflect, and choose the drive that will be cloned.  The partitions of that drive will be displayed.  Next, you select the destination, and move the partitions from the source over to the destination in the same order, left to right.

If your destination is the same size as the source, then you're done, and you can start the clone.  If you're cloning to a larger drive, you can extend the size of your data partition.  If you're cloning to a smaller drive, as I did, you have to make your data partition smaller (it's a good idea to clean up the source drive before doing the clone) after it's moved, so that the remaining partitions fit, and then you can extend it to fill up the remaining space.

Simple?  Well, maybe not.  I replaced the hard drive in the laptop with the SSD, and it wouldn't boot.  I had to create a Reflect recovery USB drive, and run a tool to rebuild the boot information on the drive.  Then, it worked.  Turns out that this happens often enough that people post about it, and Macrium had to build the repair utility.

Still, not too onerous, and at the end of the day, I have a much faster system in terms of real world performance.  With a backup (the original HDD) to boot (pun intended).


March 12, 2022 14:00 Pacific - Artisan Radio Status

We continue to work slowly on readying Acoustic Era playlists for over-the-air broadcasting and internet streaming.

We're also putting together the public domain audiobook playlists.

The early 20th century was filled with wars, so it seems an appropriate backdrop for what is happening today.

You think we'd learn from past mistakes.  Unfortunately, right wing sentiment is on the rise, even here in Canada, and it's associated with ignorance of pretty much everything.


March 12, 2022 12:10 Pacific - Part 15 Forums & Sexism

Today Hobbybroadcaster continues the tradition by a discussion of Lisa Loeb's appearance, specifically her glasses.  You really can tell that that Forum is populated by male curmudgeons.


March 12, 2022 12:04 Pacific - Trucker Convoys & Russia

It's kind of hard to take the trucker convoys seriously.  Now, the Forums that are frequented by these people are being used to spread disinformation about the Ukraine war, and to support Putin.

Send The Trucker Convoy to Russia!


March 5, 2022 15:52 Pacific - Dead Leaders

So, the Russian ambassador to the U.S. admonished Senator Lindsey Graham for suggesting that someone in Putin's inner circle should assassinate him.  While it was a monumentally stupid comment, the ambassador actually had the gall to lecture the Senator over 'moral standards'.  This, as the Russians continue to kill civilians (including children) during their unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.  You can't make this up, folks.


March 5, 2022 15:47 Pacific - Dead Celebrities

One thing that the Hobbybroadcaster Forum is good for is alerts about dead celebrities.  Part 15 broadcasting, not so much.

Anyway, I read there today that Tim Considine had died.  What was astonishing was that they then proceeded to list his TV and movie accomplishments, without at least mentioning his music career.

In 1963, Considine released What Do Little Girls Dream Of, and in 1964, Who's The Lucky Guy, both on Del Fi records.  Great songs of the teenage 60s era.

C'mon guys.  At least talk about something related to radio every once in a while.


February 24, 2022 15:53 Pacific - Smartphones

Recently there was a discussion on Part15.org about the the harmful effects of using smartphones, wifi, bluetooth, etc.

With proper use, however, I don't think it's time to roll out the tinfoil hats just yet.

Back in the 70s (yes, I know I'm dating myself) when I worked at the Computer Research Facility at the University of Toronto, I certainly didn't envision a future where I could hold more computer power in my hand than was in the entire computer lab (which took up a significant chunk of the building's floor, and held multiple mainframes & minicomputers).  And that's what I mainly use smartphones for - portable computing.

I carry 2 'phones', both dual screen.  The first I use as an e-reader, as it has an e-ink screen as well as an LCD - it has no SIM card.  The second, a little older (but a flagship in its day), is a dual screen android flip phone that I use primarily for phone calls, radio/music listening and to periodically check e-mails and texts.  I try to discourage phone calls, so really do limit the amount of time the phone is next to my ear.  Those that spend hours on a cell phone each day would be well advised to use a wired headset.

You really can't worry about wifi too much, as it's all around us, including cellular signals.  If these were analog transmissions, I might be a bit more concerned, but digital communication is very efficient and uses far less power.  I don't think you have to worry unless you live next door (or almost next door) to a tower.

But that's not why I started this blog post.  What you really have to worry about in smartphones is privacy.  Not the Facebook/Twitter type issues in dealing with social media, but what exactly is going on behind the scenes on that computer/smartphone.

The other day I noticed that my flip phone was losing battery rapidly, and becoming rather warm to the touch.  I went through a charge cycle or two, and realized that something was happening behind the scenes that I didn't know about.  So, I downloaded an app to monitor performance.  CPU utilization was virtually nil, in fact, everything at first glance looked normal until I delved a little deeper.  I then saw that there was a great deal of read activity on the Micro SD card I had just installed in the phone (believe it or not, 1TB).  The card was full of stuff, as I had used it for backup, and I was going to get rid of most of what was on it, but decided to leave it for the time being.

Well, it turns out that was a mistake.  Remember, this is an older phone, and Google+ (Google's attempt at social networking that closed down in 2019) was going crazy, reading everything on the SD card.  I don't do social networking, so I had just ignored it in the past.  What Google+ was doing with the information, I have no idea.  Creepy.  While I couldn't uninstall the app (the phone runs Google's Android), it let me turn off the service, and the phone went back to normal.

I really don't have many other apps on the phone - an Internet Radio streaming service, a good music player, a file manager, a few other odds & sods.  Nothing shady, all have been around a while and I've used previously.  But my experience makes me wonder how others who don't know what they're doing avoid compromising personal and private information.  I don't think they do.


February 24, 2022 15:48 Pacific - More Nature Sounds

National Park Service.  There are additional links here to other sites.  The Rocky Mountain National Park Sound Library looks particularly interesting, particularly for bird sounds.


February 24, 2022 09:49 Pacific - Downloading From Soundcloud

It's all very well and good to have free wildlife sounds on Soundcloud.  To broadcast these sounds, you need the actual mp3 files.

Fortunately, there are a number of ways to get those mp3 files off Soundcloud and onto your PC.  I've found the easiest is a Chrome extension, Soundcloud Downloader.  It's can be found in the Chrome Store, and it's free.  I use the Vivaldi browser (basically, a lighter fork of Chrome) and it installs nicely in that browser as well.

I'm thinking of an overnight program for Artisan Radio that plays these sounds.  Relaxing programming in these troubled days, eh?


February 23, 2022 20:43 Pacific - Bird Sounds & More

My friend, Carl Blare, over at the Blare Blog, was recently looking for bird sound recordings.

It turns out that a famed wildlife sound recordist has just released some of his audio collection - for free.  A link to it can be found here.

I listened to some.  Just perfect for late night radio.


February 23, 2022 12:59 Pacific - Up and Down

We're moving equipment around the studio for the next few days, so the website and blog may be up and down for a little while.  We have new computers, new disk drives and new programming sources.

We're continuing to move forward with bringing Artisan Radio back to the airwaves (and an Internet stream).  Things always take longer than what you think.


February 21, 2022 9:45 Pacific - People Who Live in Glass Houses

I had to laugh when I read that Fox News was calling our Prime Minister a tyrant for enacting emergency powers to stop the illegal protest actions here in Canada.

That's rich, since they're Trump's network.  You know, the guy who attempted to block the transfer of power to Biden in a number of ways, and is now being investigated.  The guy who forcibly cleared legal protesters from in front of the White House so that he could enter a church, take a Bible, and then hold a photo op holding that Bible (upside down).  The guy who separated migrant children from their families at the U.S. southern border, and held them in cages.  And so much more.

I guess that a real tyrant, at least to Fox News, isn't one when they do things that Fox agrees with.


February 21, 2022 09:30 Pacific - "Freedom"

The Freedom Convoy that we've seen in Canada gives new meaning to the Dead Kennedy's song "Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death".

These so-called people (and I use that term loosely) claim that it's all about their "rights".  The right to not vaccinate, the right to not take a COVID test, the right to not wear a mask.  The only reason I can see not to do these things is convenience.

What about everyone else's rights?

I don't particularly care if these people don't get vaccinated, don't wear masks, and then don't interact with anyone else (or just each other).  Live on a deserted island.  Die there.  Although you can bet that if they did get sick, they would be the first in line to demand treatment.

But the fact of the matter is that they do interact with others, particularly the truckers, and the risk to children, the elderly, the infirm ... everyone else ... is real.

What they don't seem to understand is that their rights end where everyone else's begin.  They do not have the right to pass along illness to others, particularly when it can be fatal, when you can easily do something to lessen the risks.

They also state that they don't want to get vaccinated because they're putting foreign substances into their body.

Well, if you look at the photos of these "protesters", you can draw the conclusion that most are not strangers to putting other foreign substances into their bodies.  And unlike the vaccines, these foreign substances are known to be toxic.  Things such as cigarette smoke, alcohol, drugs, fatty foods.  They also appear to be suffering from a lack of some things, such as exercise, reading and common sense.

All I can say is that most Canadians do not agree with the stance of the protesters.  It's good that our political leaders stood up to them and stopped their illegal occupation of buildings and bridges.


February 21, 2022 09:27 Pacific - Part15.Org

I'm giving up.  My attempt at seeding that Forum with posts has apparently failed.  While there are a relatively large number of registered users, there are few actually active.  Back to the blog...


January 12, 2022 10:20 Pacific - More TV Singers

Here are some more.

First, the easy ones.  Debbie Reynolds, The Debbie Reynolds Show, with Are You For Real.  Doris Day, The Doris Day Show, with A Guy is a Guy.

Lorne Greene, Bonanza, with Ringo.  Michael Landon, Bonanza, with Linda is Lonesome.

Now for some more obscure ones.

Connie Stevens, Hawaiian Eye, with Too Young To Go Steady and Sixteen Reasons.  Troy Donahue, Surfside 6 and Hawaiian Eye, with Live Young. Robert Conrad, Hawaiian Eye and the Wild Wild West, with The Great Magician.

Jack Larson, The Adventures of Superman, with Do Yourself a Favor.

Dean Jones, Ensign O'Toole and Walt Disney, with The Proud Don't Cry.

Tim Constantine, My Three Sons, with What Do Little Girls Dream Of.  Don Grady, My Three Sons, with A Broken Heart Knows Better.

Jerry Mathers, Leae It To Beaver, with Don't Cha Cry.

And finally, Sal Mineo and Mamie van Doren, both primarily cast as eye candy in movies, but making numerous TV guest appearances.  Sal Mineo with Young As We Are.  Mamie van Doren with The Bikini With No Top on Top.

Then there are the movie stars dipping into music.  But that's the post of another day.


January 11, 2022 10:14 Pacific - TV Singers

Dwayne Hickman's passing got me thinking of all the other TV stars in the 1950s and 1960s that either went on to become popular singers, or at the very least released singles or albums (with varying degrees of success in the music world - sometimes they would just do it to advertise their TV shows).

Rick(y) Nelson, who was the youngest Nelson son in Ozzie & Harriet was one of the more famous, with numerous Number One hits. He also performed regularly on the show, particularly in the later episodes.  Shelley Fabares & Paul Peterson from the Donna Reed Show had their moment of fame, but never were as successful as singers (although, of course, Shelley had Johnny Angel, an all-time classic).  Annette Funicello graduated from the Mickey Mouse Club and became the singing hearthrob for numerous teenage boys in that era, with such singles as Tall Paul & How Will I Know My Love.

And that's just from the 1950s.

In the 1960s there was Patty Duke (who played both twin sisters on the Patty Duke Show); she had several hits including Don't Just Stand There.  Johnny Crawford played the teenage son in The Rifleman, and had multiple hits, including Cindy's Birthday and Your Nose is Gonna Grow.  Like Annette Funicello, he also started out as a Mouseketeer.

But what I find most interesting are the actors and actresses that did music who are virtually unknown for that today.  Dwayne Hickman was one.  Donna Douglas, who played Elly May Clampett in the Beverly Hillbillies, released a single titled All the Other Girls.  In later life she became a gospel singer.  Clint Eastwood, first known for his work in Rawhide, released several singles, including Rowdy.  Larry Hovis, who played Sergeant Carter in Hogan's Heroes, was a nightclub singer before he was cast on TV, and released We Can Have Lots of Fun.  Even Ted Cassidy who played Lurch on the Addams Family released (Do) The Lurch.

And who can forget William Shatner's version of Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds from the album The Transformed Man, released in 1968.  He went on to release numerous albums.  There are also other Star Trek stars that  had their hand in the music industry.  In 1967 & 1968, Leonard Nimoy released Music From Outer Space and The Two Sides of Leonard Nimoy (the latter contained the song Highly Illogical).  Even Brent Spiner (Data from TNG) got into the act, releasing Old Yellow Eyes is Back in 1991.

This is the stuff that winds my crank in the Park 15 world.  Not ground lead lengths or audiophile discussions on attaining a pristine signal (that will travel several hundred feet before you get static and/or noise).


January 10, 2022 16:41 Pacific - Teen Idol

Dwayne Hickman passed away yesterday.  Unlike most who will remember his television and movie work, I remember him for releasing the album Dobie in 1960.  Like his TV roles, the songs were aimed at teenagers, and still hold up in the genre today.  Here's Bad Reputation and Don't Shoot the Man in the Moon.


January 6, 2022 15:54 Pacific - Suckers

Today marks the anniversary of the attempted insurrection in the U.S.

What is shocking is the popularity that Trump continues to have, both in the U.S. and even (to a lesser degree) in Canada.

I guess P.T. Barnum was right with this quote attributed to him: "There's a sucker born every minute."


January 3, 2022 17:58 Pacific - Leadership

A recent post over at the Blare Blog laments the autocratic tendencies of the owners/moderators of the remaining Part 15 broadcasting Forums.

It's too bad it's come to this.  Dictatorship tendencies, a coup and rigid moderation can be pretty destructive.

Recently, however, I decided to attempt to resurrect Part15.org to its Part15.us glory, and I've started posting there again.  Hopefully, this will be like a snowball tumbling down a mountain gathering more snow, and more posters will join me.  If not, well, I tried.  I really hate leaving Part 15 broadcasting discussions to the other sites.  They just don't deserve it.


January 1, 2022 18:01 Pacific - Alternative Voice Tracking

Those that are familiar with Artisan Radio are also aware that we have experimented with automatic voice tracking using TTS (Text to Speech).  During our sabbatical I've experimented a bit more, and developed several Windows Powershell scripts to automatically generate voice tracking, and append the resulting sound tracks to the end of the appropriate mp3 files.  It's more difficult to do correctly than what it sounds like.

I've also been doing some quality experimentation with mp3 bit rates of over-the-air signals.  What it boils down to is that 64 kbps files are all you need for FM & AM mono; there's no difference (that I can hear) going any higher.  FM stereo might be a different story, as well as Internet streaming in either mono or stereo.  But then, Part 15 FM stereo is largely a waste of time anyway due to interference; you're far better off going mono at nanowatt & even microwatt (in Canada) signal levels.  And unless you have big Internet pipes, streaming at high bitrates can max your upload capacity very quickly.

It really all depends on your programming.  Talk (including OTR) is just fine at 64 kbps mono.  Most source material produced in the early 1960s & prior is mono, and again, you'd be hard pressed to notice any difference encoding at greater than 64 kbps.  The only time I could see going above that to 128 kbps or higher is if you're streaming more modern material in stereo.  Even then, streaming above 128 kbps to me is more a status symbol than anything else (my internet stream bitrate is higher than yours!).


January 1, 2022 15:34 Pacific - It's a New Year

And we're restarting our blog.  It's the 4th incarnation, believe it or not.

For various reasons, we stopped our over-the-air and internet streaming broadcasts late in 2021.  Shortly, however, we should be back on the air (and streaming) with our new, all talk format.

All programming will either be in the public domain, original, or broadcast with permission.