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I’ve about enjoyed all this I can stand. I’m
currently digitizing some stuff from the ambient format, and it sure
is weird! One of the tracks is 10 minutes through which every possible
PCM value is played once. Another is data recorded in Australia and
Antartica of the Indian nuclear tests, rendered as audio. It’s on the
CD Parallel Lines/Parallel Rhythms. It’s on the
edition… label, which is run by another WREK alumnus. As Johnny
Carson would say, “wild weird stuff.”

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This decision to do everything from the Linux box rather than set up
umpteen copies of BlogMax on every computer I use was a good one. I’m
at this moment in the radio station, digitizing new music for the
robots to use and I’m logged into home, weblogging. Today I’m putting
in some Pixies, Sonic Youth and Toenut as oldies. We used to have
these big freaking reels of music, about 30 songs on them, that were
our oldies. New music was recorded on carts with announcements of what
they were. Two reels would be loaded, and reel A would play, then a
cart, reel B, a cart, reel A, etc. If you listened to WREK between
1973 and 1997, you surely heard this sometime or another. Well, the
last reels were made around 1993 and most were made in the early/mid
80’s. When we went digital, we digitized the old reels to give us a
starting place. However, we have a big gap in our oldies from the late
80s to the late 90’s. I’m trying to put in stuff to plug that a
little. I’m not as far on the edge as most of these people, I’m going
“Teenage Riot” and “Gouge Away.” In the WREK spectrum, I’m a
centrist. By commercial radio tastes, i’m way out on the edge but
these folks look at me as if I was top 40. Stuck in the middle again!

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I’m going to go into WREK and do a little work this morning. I’ve
given them a timetable – by 10/31 (Halloween) I will stop doing almost
everything I do for them. It’s time for the young birdies to leave the
nest. I have dumped so much energy into that place over the last year
and a half, and it has helped quite a bit. When I started back, the
place was in turmoil, everything was broken, they were off the air 30
or 40 hours a week during the normal semesters, 60 or 70 hours a week
over summer and breaks. Now, most things are fixed (I didn’t fix them,
there are a few other alumni and a new student chief engineer who are
doing that), their automation is rebuilt (that I did) and so stable
that the station is always on 24X7, whether or not there is the
manpower to cover the station. My main goals are accomplished, so I
want to selfishly spend that time and energy on myself and my family
and my own projects now.

And I can do that, listening to a 91.1 FM
that is always on the air. It sounds so basic, but
that’s always been an issue at WREK. I was operation manager 14 years
ago, and it took 15-30 hours a week to make sure the station was
always staffed. I kept it on the air for three months without a
signoff back then, and it was an excruciating, back breaking
effort. As of today, WREK has been on the air for four months for
free. When someone leaves the station, they turn on the robots and
away it goes. I love it.

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Thus far, I haven’t written anything political or controversial in
this log. It’s all been pretty standard day to day stuff. In posts on
Dueling Modems I have been debating with a
few people the question of whether or not downloading of free files
(music via MP3, free books) hurts the livelihood of the creators. My
belief (just my belief – if we had facts we wouldn’t all be arguing)
is that they do not. Here is a post I made on that subject, slightly
edited to remove some of the personal remarks between myself and the
person I was responding to and make it more of a statement of my
philosophy. I was going to edit out every personal you/me type of
remark, but just pretend I am addressing all affected creators, and
they are the “you”. I’ll still be the “me.” Alle ist klar, kommisar?

No one has all the answers. We are still miles away from even having all
the questions. We are all fumbling around here. Please please please,
understand that doesn’t mean I want to see your livelihood
impaired. It is my gut feeling that in a world where less friction is
spent fighting free downloads, you would make more money. I’d rather
see all the money spent in fighting them (via the expense of DRM,
opportunity costs of sales not made, etc) go straight into your pocket.

I keep mentioning this stuff because some people are finding success in
making free downloads work for them. Janis Ian seems to have, the
musicians I know are having varying of degrees of success with it. I’m
not a wild-eyed “Intellectual property is theft” slashdotter and I’m not
advocating anyone doing anything without the permission of the rights
holder(s). However, I think loosening up might very well make y’all more
money. I don’t know this and cannot provide you with evidence for it,
but I feel it in my rheumatism. I also feel there are benefits that the
rights holder get that we have no models to describe or measure, an
“enthusiasm” value that increases when people have cheap or free access
to some of their work.

Here’s one example: I preordered
Aimee Mann’s new album
this week. Right
now, I can hear the entire thing for free via her website. Its in high
quality RealAudio files, but with about an hours worth of work a dork
like me could create my own audio CD that would have better audio
quality than a cassette copy of the CD. Why did I order the CD rather
than doing that? A variety of reasons, hard and soft, that include:

  • It cost $15 and 2 minutes to order it. The value of my time that it
    would have taken to burn an illicit copy far exceeds that cost

  • The CD includes a booklet with illustration by Seth, an artist I like
  • A bonus CD with unreleased tracks is included for those who preorder
    (also a reason for buying now rather than later)

  • I like Aimee Mann and want her to continue putting out albums, rather
    than quitting and going into advertising jingles

  • Burnt CDs are cheezy and I’d rather have the “real thing”
  • It would be a hassle and not be fun
  • I give her extra credit for the way she has stuck her middle finger
    out at the major labels and that’s worth some money to me

I believe that this great loss of money you are worried about is a
bugaboo to keep power in the hands of the same plutocrats who at best
don’t help writers much and at worst rob them blind for their entire
careers (and y’all have it good compared to the indentured servitude of
major label musicians.) I think you as a writer would be better off with
a system that would force publishers to be more efficient, to not have
sales forces claim “But I can’t sell a book about that”, with a market
place with lower friction. It is my belief that, ala Jack Valenti
fighting against VCRs in 1980, the world you are fearful of is one that
will be better for you and that will increase the market. I could be
wrong but dear god I hope I’m not.

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Technology TopicI have barely used this wireless card in the laptop, but I’m hooked
(or unhooked, depending on how you think about it.) Now I’m going to
look around for the very cheapest access point I can find. I know they
are coming out with bigger, better stuff all the time so rather than
pay a premium to get the state of the art as of August 2002, I’d
rather pay a discount to get the state of the art as of January
2001. They will both be out of date soon enough. I think $50 is my
price – if I can find one for that, I go for it.

There is a promotion going on at Fictionwise as part of their Open an Ebook
promotion
. Come get them while they are relatively cheap! I’m
constantly telling people about the electronic book experience and
slowly people are acting less skeptible. At some point the kneejerk
opposition to the entire medium can be replaced with simple consumer
dynamics – you might like it or not, but people won’t dismiss out of
hand something they never actually tried for themselves.

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Music TopicToday’s band of the day is another one I
have to hedge a little on the major label front. They are the amazing
Primus! These guys have an amazing collection of their bootlegs available on the site, and they
have for many years. They rotate them through – there are currently
15 full concerts up there. Good god! Les Claypool is
an amazing musician, and he really seems to be exercising his Pink
Floyd fetish. One of the bootleg shows is from the Fearless Frog
Brigade tour where they played a bunch of 70’s and 80’s prog rock
including doing the entire Floyd Animals album. Dave
says “Thumbs up, Primus!!”

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This is my first every weblog entry via a wireless
link! It’s pretty spiffy. It’s not quite as dramatic as it could be –
I’m sitting right next to my desk and my wired, desktop
computer. Still, I am connected wirelessly. I hadn’t realized that –
at least on Win98 with the setup I have currently – it is still a
mostly manual process. I get the link via the wireless, but I still
have to explicitly release and renew to get an IP address. I’ll look
around, maybe there is a sexier way to do it more automatically.

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Just a few minutes ago, I finished transcribing my interview with
Storm Constantine. It
still needs copy editing (as does the one with Michael Moorcock) but at the
least the original work of transcription is done. Jesus lord, if I had
known how hard this work would be, I would have never
have started. I still believe that I can have principal text finished
by next weekend. I’ll take printouts of these two interviews with me
to Augusta this weekend as I visit my neice. Maybe somewhere in there
I can find time for a little red pen work.

I’ll be a guest at two science fiction conventions trying to promote
this book –
Dragon*Con
over Labor Day weekend and
Orycon
the weekend before Thanksgiving. Hopefully I’ll be on
interesting e-book panels (any interesting panels would be fine.) With
any luck, the guys from
Fictionwise
will give me some more coupons to pass out again. I
did last year, I don’t know how effective they were.

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Just before we went to the beach for the Fourth of July, I splurged on
a toy for myself – iRiver’s
SlimX MP3/CD player
. I really, really, really
love this thing. It plays my old time radio MP3s, which can be all
over the map in bitrates, mono, and weird encodings. It has a remote
control with an LCD readout that tells me what MP3 is playing. It even
has an onboard FM receiver. Rechargeable batteries come with it, and
the menuing system allows you to explicitly discharge and recharge
them! How cool is that? I’ve had it a month and am really taken with
it. The OTR stuff meant that I couldn’t just grab any old $49 player
and use it the way I wanted but I never expected that I’d have a
player I liked this much. On top of everything, it is so small, light
and really cool looking. All around, this device is a thumbs up.

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Damn, I see that science fiction artist Ron Walotsky has died. I interviewed
him at Dragon*Con a few years ago and really liked him. He was a nice
guy and a great artist. RIP, Ron. You passed way too young.