Archive for the ‘Radio’ Category

TMQ Watch: December 30, 2014.

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

We hope everyone had a good Christmas – or, if you do not celebrate Christmas, a good version of whatever seasonal observance you do celebrate.

In this week’s TMQ, the purge.

No, not that one (though we commend to your attention the “The Purge” episode of “Phil and Lisa Ruin the Movies”), but the annual NFL coaching purge, or as we call it, “Bloody Monday”. After the jump…


Obit watch: November 3, 2014.

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

Tom Magliozzi, of “Car Talk” fame. NPR. Preliminary LAT obit. A/V Club. Car Talk.

A long time ago, I was a huge fan of “Car Talk”. My Monday nights were not complete without listening to the latest episode, and I tended to get cranky if that schedule was interrupted. (Kids, ask your parents about the time before podcasts.) I even – hold on to your hats, folks – donated money to our local NPR station at one point so I could show my support of “Car Talk”. (Oh, yeah. Like you never did anything stupid when you were young.)

Then our local station changed the schedule around so “Car Talk” was on at an inconvenient time, and I kind of dropped away from it. Then Tom and Ray started taking truly idiotic political positions (for example, advocating a federally enforced limit on horsepower to weight ratios) and I stopped being a “Car Talk” fan. As a matter of fact, I began to find the show grating. Not quite “I’d rather listen to Prairie Home Companion” grating, but grating enough. And frankly, I don’t understand why it is still on the air, since it has been nothing but re-runs since 2012. (Actually, I think I do understand why: I guess it brings in the bucks at pledge time.)

On the other hand, 77 is too damn young. Alzheimer’s sucks. I do kind of want to hear the tribute show. And he had a great beard.

DEFCON 22 updates: August 8, 2014.

Friday, August 8th, 2014

Wired has an article based on the “Weaponizing Your Pets: The War Kitteh and the Denial of Service Dog” presentation which will take place on Sunday. I didn’t write about this yesterday because (and with all due respect to the presenter) it just didn’t strike me as being very interesting. You attached a WiFi scanner to a cat and let it roam around the neighborhood? Not sure I see anything novel there, except maybe if you made the WiFi rig very small. (You could have done the same thing with Kismet on a Nokia N810 years ago. You still can, if you can find a Nokia N810, which isn’t that hard, and if you can figure out a way to secure it to your pet.)

In other news, here are the presentation links I’ve been able to find so far. I’ll try to update this post during the day. If you are a presenter who would like your talk listed (even if it wasn’t on my list) or if there’s a talk you’d like for me to find, please feel free to leave comments or send email to stainles [at]

That’s everything I’ve been able to find from yesterday. We’re only about 30 minutes into today’s sessions. And while looking for links, I ran across this tidbit: DEFCON ordered 14,000 badges this year. They were gone by 6 PM yesterday.

DEFCON 22: 0 day notes (part 1)

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

DEFCON 22 sort of fires up today, though the real action doesn’t begin until Friday.

I’m not in Vegas again this year, for boring (money) reasons. Frankly, I’m also feeling a little burnt out. I miss Vegas (well, mostly, I miss Lotus of Siam) but I’m not sure I really miss dealing with that many people crammed into that small a space. I’m also not so sure that what happens at the conference makes that much of a difference any more. It seems like, to borrow the words of another better writer, “Nothing works and nobody cares”.

Or maybe that’s the depression talking. And the fact that my current employer made all of the videos from last year’s DEFCON available internally within a week of the conference.

So. If I was at DEFCON, what would I be attending?

As I said earlier, Thursday is usually kind of slow. I suspect I’d go to the “Data Protection 101 – Successes, Fails, and Fixes” talk; it sounds kind of basic to me, but you never know what you might learn. “Practical Foxhunting 101” also intrigues me. I went transmitter hunting with a friend of mine many many years ago, and I maintain a somewhat more than academic interest in the subject.

Paging SDR… Why should the NSA have all the fun?” sounds like fun. Basically, this appears to be “how to decode pager traffic with cheap hardware so you can pretend to be Lester Freamon for fun and profit”. On the other hand, this conflicts with “RF Penetration Testing, Your Air Stinks“, a how-to talk for radio frequency penetration testers. I suspect I’d go to this one, and grab the slides from the pager talk later.

I know SCADA and the cloud are hot topics, but I’m not sure I’d go to either “AWS for Hackers” or “Protecting SCADA From the Ground Up“, simply because neither topic interests me that much. Nothing personal, presenters; they just don’t turn my crank.

I like the idea behind “Anatomy of a Pentest; Poppin’ Boxes like a Pro” and would be more likely to hit that than “One Man Shop: Building an effective security program all by yourself“. If I was working in a small organization, though, I’d probably go to “One Man Shop” instead.

Neither “Standing Up an Effective Penetration Testing Team” nor “In the forest of knowledge with 1o57” interests me that much, so I’d take another break here.

I’m slightly more interested in “Reverse Engineering Mac Malware” than I am in the Honeynets talk. And “RFIDler: SDR.RFID.FTW” sounds exciting: “We have created a small, open source, cheap to build platform that allows any suitably powerful microprocessor access to the raw data created by the over-the-air conversation between tag and reader coil. The device can also act as a standalone ‘hacking’ platform for RFID manipulation/examination.”

This is shaping up to be longer than I expected, so I’m going to break it into two parts. I will try to get a second part up tonight and at least cover the Friday and Saturday talks I’m interested in, if not all the way through to Sunday.

The full schedule is here, if anyone wants to look at it and make requests. I welcome comments from presenters and other people who are at DEFCON. And I will be trying to monitor twitter feeds and posting presentation links as I find them.

Complete babbling.

Friday, March 21st, 2014

I was planning to steal a lyric from “Radio Free Europe” for this post title. Then I went to look up the actual lyrics, and found this; “complete babbling” seems like it fits just as well here.

By way of Big Jim, I found a rather interesting LA Weekly article on the latest goings-on at Pacifica Radio, about which I’ve written before. Some highlights:

On March 13, after weeks of rumors, Pacifica Radio’s board of directors voted to fire its executive director, Summer Reese, during what was essentially a conference call…
And so it was that Reese marched to the Pacifica national office in Berkeley on March 17, bolt cutters in hand, removed a padlock placed on the front doors over the weekend, and essentially occupied the building. When newly appointed interim executive director Margy Wilkinson showed up, Reese and 12 of her compatriots — including Reese’s mother, a longtime anti-war and civil rights activist — refused to let Wilkinson, her husband and two of her allies pass.

Pacifica’s New York station, WBAI, is even worse off, with too few listeners to register on the Arbitron rankings, and is all but bankrupt. Last year, most of the staff was laid off, including the entire news department.
Making matters worse, the federal government, via the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, is withholding Pacifica’s grant money, thanks to the network’s “failure to provide documentation” for a 2012 audit.

“We’re no longer a radio network, we’re a sad political glee club,” [Ian] Masters [a KPFK host – DB] says. “We desperately need adult supervision.”

Reese admits to having no Social Security number, saying she is legally exempt because of a “religious objection.” When asked her religion, she says only that she’s a Christian; when asked whether she pays income taxes, she says only, “I don’t think that’s relevant to the article.”

While KCRW holds two nine-day-long fund drives each year, KPFK holds a monthlong fund drive every three months — meaning one out of every three days is a pledge drive, days full of DVDs and nutritional supplements and get-rich-quick schemes such as the “Wealth Propulsion Challenge,” an online course that promotes “how to get rich holistically” — and quickly — via “subconscious reprogramming.”

Within a few months, Democracy Now! was privatized. In what may have been a reward for Goodman’s support of the revolution, she was handed complete ownership of the show. For free. In fact, they paid her to take it, handing Goodman a contract worth hundreds of thousands of dollars a year — and gave her an automatic 4 percent raise every year, regardless of the size of her listenership or the money she raised…
Today, Pacifica’s debts amount to roughly $3 million; $2 million of that is owed to Democracy Now!, which is also the name of an independent nonprofit run by Goodman.

Howard Waldrop, call your office, please.

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

By way of Popehat on the Twitter, NPR’s counterfactual series, “What If World War I Had Never Happened?

Do you think Sarajevo is full of assassins?” I can’t lie; this made me smile, as did “a very Austro-Hungarian problem” and “Is this how you greet visitors, by throwing bombs at them?”

(See also. Also, I have to admit to some curiosity; what kind of sandwich?)

Edited to add: Well. Well well well. Well.

Also, wouldn’t “Gavrilo Princip’s Sandwich” be a great name for a band?

Random notes: January 18, 2014.

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

Obit watch: Larry Monroe, former KUT-FM DJ. Yes, it was radio – worse yet, public radio. But I liked pretty much everything Monroe did for the station. I drove home from South Austin many Thursday nights listening to the “Phil Music” show, back when KUT broadcast city council meetings. (This was a long time ago, in another country. It was called “Phil Music” because it began with Monroe playing music while the council members were in private session and/or there were gaps in the broadcast; in other words, “fill music”.)

I don’t care much for golf. But, by way of Jimbo, one of the more interesting things I’ve read so far this year: Grantland writer discovers a woman who’s invented a revolutionary putter, and starts working on a story about her. Then things get weird.

Edited to add: adding link to MetaFilter discussion of the story above.

You could hear the music on the AM radio…

Friday, January 17th, 2014

When was the last time you listened to the radio?

Actually, I still do, mostly when I’m driving around with Mom and Jeff Ward is on. If I’m alone in my own car, though, radio has become to me something like a buggy whip.

But there are some people who still need buggy whips, such as the Amish. And there are some people who still need radios. Like Federal prisoners.

The pocket analog radio, known by the bland model number SRF-39FP, is a Sony “ultralight” model manufactured for prisons. Its clear housing is meant to prevent inmates from using it to smuggle contraband, and, at under thirty dollars, it is the most affordable Sony radio on the prison market.

But what makes this New Yorker piece more interesting to me is…the SRF-39FP is actually a pretty good radio. It uses one AA battery, will run for 40 hours, and:

Others in the online DXing community argue that the SRF-39FP is superior to virtually every other pocket analog radio, praising it for its large tuning thumbwheel, over-all sensitivity and audio quality, and, above all, its reputed indestructibility. Electronics and radio collectors also marvel at features that are normally associated with professional equipment rather than consumer goods: in particular, an exceptional single-integrated-circuit receiver that insures reception in remote locations—or deep within heavy prison walls. In fact, the SRF-39FP was one of the first radios to use the breakthrough CXA1129N integrated-circuit chip, considered by DeBock to be the primary innovation among Sony pocket radios; it helped make the SRF-39FP the smallest and most sophisticated in a line of pocket radios that had launched two decades earlier, in the late nineteen-seventies.

I almost want to pick one up. (I checked; there aren’t any listed on eBay right now.)

(By way of the newsycombinator Twitter feed.)

More obits people sent me.

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

Harold Camping. I’m really kind of curious what’s going to happen to Family Radio now; does it survive with a new leader? Do the stations get sold off? I think most of them are non-commercial licenses; is there another religious group that would want to buy them?

Janet Dailey, noted romance author.

“I kept saying to Bill that this is the kind of book I’d like to write,” she said once in an interview, adding, “He got tired of hearing that in a hurry.” He told her to start writing or stop talking about it. She said she modeled many of her male protagonists on her husband. He died in 2005.

You know, “Start writing or stop talking about it” is actually pretty good writing advice.

For the historical record: Ray Price. AV Club.

Shoes for radio!

Friday, December 6th, 2013

The other one has dropped. (Previously.)

(I know, this is really inside Austin, and even more, inside Austin radio. But it was the subject of some discussion among my family. Also, there’s just really not a lot going on.)

(Edited to add: my brother forwarded a Statesman blog entry that you don’t have to pay to read. Some quotes:

“JB and Sandy have been part of Mix for 18 years, which is a lifetime in radio,” vice president of programming Cat Thomas said. “JB and Sandy made an indelible impact on our station, their audience and the city of Austin. But unfortunately, the declining performance of the show and the expense of the show no longer made economic sense, and we were unable to come to terms. We thank them for their work and wish them the best in the future.”

Figures from Nielsen (formerly Arbitron) show “The JB and Sandy Morning Show” placed eighth among listeners ages 25-54 and seventh among the key demographic of women ages 18-49 in November.

Thank you for giving actual ratings figures.

The decision to discontinue the Mix 94.7 morning show comes during the station’s annual Bikes for Kids campaign, which raises money each year to buy bikes for hundreds of needy Central Texas children.
Bikes for Kids will go on without Hager and McIlree, Entercom officials said.
“Bikes for Kids remains a part of the fabric of our station,” Thomas said. “It will absolutely continue.”


(I haven’t linked to Mandela obits because I figure, at this point, they’ve crossed over into “you can’t avoid them” territory.)

(Edited to add: if you’re really craving something swell to read, try the thoughtful comment by lelnet on this week’s “TMQ Watch”.)

Just some random krep.

Monday, November 25th, 2013

The FDA has told 23andMe to stop selling their DNA interpretation service.

I note this for a couple of reasons:

  1. Earlier this year, they were advertising all over many of the podcasts I listen to.
  2. I’ve flirted with the idea of getting a 23andMe kit as a Christmas or birthday present. (Hey, you get one for a family member, you get many of the benefits of purchasing your own, plus you’ve got that whole gift thing taken care of.)
  3. I did not complete the purchase process, but as far as I can tell, 23andMe is still selling their product.
  4. This product is a device within the meaning of section 201(h) of the FD&C Act, 21 U.S.C. 321(h), because it is intended for use in the diagnosis of disease or other conditions or in the cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, or is intended to affect the structure or function of the body.” Nope. Not seeing it. At best, it tells you that you have some genetic markers that may indicate a predisposition towards a condition. I have serious questions about the way the FDA is interpreting the regulations here.
  5. What business is it of the federal government how people get their genetic information and what they do with it? “But what if they’re wrong?” Seems to me you have the same recourse as you would with any other consumer product; complain to the maker and ask for a refund or a do-over. But that’s apparently not good enough for our government, which feels like it has to do something about the scourge of non-goverment-approved genetic testing labs.

The Treasure Island casino in Las Vegas is dumping the pirate show. I can remember seeing it (more or less) twice: once in the “original” version, which was more of a straight-forward pirate battle, and once in the “Sirens of TI” incarnation, where the “pirates” included scantily clad young women. Treasure Island is dumping the pirates in favor of more retail space. Sigh.

Questions. So many questions.

  • Isn’t it kind of crappy to let one of your most popular personalities go right in the middle of the annual “Bicycles For the Crippled Orphans Left Behind By the Widow of the Unknown Soldier for Christmas” campaign? Yes, his contract was apparently up (“at the end of the year”, which, to me, implies December 31st), and yes, it isn’t unprecedented to let people go around this time of year (Not that I’m bitter or anything) but couldn’t they have worked out something to at least let him stay and finish out this year’s charity campaign? I think it makes the station look bad.
  • Why does a morning radio show need four on-air people?
  • “In the most recent Nielsen (formerly Arbitron) ratings period, Mix 94.7 placed 12th. Its morning ratings, however, are much higher.” How much higher, you jackass? You’re the one with the AllAccess account! (According to a post from the same blogger back in October, JB and Sandy didn’t crack the top five.)
  • Dudley and Bob are still on? Wow.

Two for your consideration.

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

PetaPixel reprints a post (from the LensRentals blog) about a WWII story I’ve never heard before.

Jay Zeamer was a pilot. But he wasn’t a great one. He had problems passing his check tests, especially when it came to the “landing” part. He managed to get into B-17s and started flying as a “fill-in” pilot and on photoreconnaissance runs.

But nobody wanted to fly with him. So he created his own crew by gathering up every…

… misfit and ne’er-do-well in the 43rd Air Group. As another pilot, Walt Krell, recalled, “He recruited a crew of renegades and screwoffs. They were the worst — men nobody else wanted. But they gravitated toward one another and made a hell of a team.”

But they didn’t have a plane. So they grabbed onto a dilapidated B-17 that had been flown in for spare parts and somehow rebuilt it into flying condition. The base commander thought this was a pretty good thing, and intended to assign the plane to another crew.

Not surprisingly, Zeamer and his crew took exception to this idea, and according Walt Krell the crew slept in their airplane, having loudly announced that the 50 caliber machine guns were kept loaded in case anyone came around to ‘borrow’ it. There was a severe shortage of planes, so the base commander ignored the mutiny and let the crew fly – but generally expected them to take on missions that no one else wanted.

Zeamer and crew called the plane “Old 666″. And yes, they took on the missions no one else wanted.

Even among the men of a combat air station, the Eager Beavers became known as gun nuts. They replaced all of the light 30 caliber machine guns in the plane with heavier 50 caliber weapons. Then the 50 caliber machine guns were replaced with double 50 caliber guns. Zeamer had another pair of machine guns mounted to the front of the plane so he could remotely fire them like a fighter pilot. And the crew kept extra machine guns stored in the plane, just in case one of their other guns jammed or malfunctioned.

My kind of guys.

Having a plane with an apparently nutty crew who volunteered for every awful mission not surprisingly made the commanding officers look the other way.

This would make for one heck of a movie. Especially in light of what eventually happened to “Old 666″ and her crew. But for that you should go read the rest of the story at PetaPixel or LensRentals.

Meanwhile, by way of Insta (who draws a different conclusion than I do): W. Joseph Campbell, author of Getting It Wrong: Ten of the Greatest Misreported Stories in American Journalism, writes about Orson Welles, “War of the Worlds”, and the question of whether there really was a mass panic.