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Music TopicToday’s band of the day is Yo La Tengo. I’ve been familiar
with them for many years from the radio station, but I went to their
website for the first time today. They have a song from their new
album The Sounds of the Sounds of Science up there,
an 11 minute awesome instrumental called “The Love Life of the
Octopus”. This album is only available from them, and is all music
they wrote to accompany underwater documentary films by Jean
Painleve. Add this to the Aimee Mann album as ones where I woudn’t
have had a purchasing decision unless I had heard about it via the
Internet.

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One of the ultra-dorky things I do is enter my bills into Where’s George. I’ve been doing
it for over two years and have now entered over 3300 bills into the
system. Here is my
profile
. One thing people always are increduluous about is the
amount of time it takes to do this. Well, it takes about 1 minute per
bill and I’ve done 3300 bills in 800 days, so about 4 minutes a
day. I’ve been trying like the devil to convince people (at work, at
WREK, everywhere) that forward progress is the sum of lots of tiny
bits of work. People seem to be more comfortable with infrequent but
heroic efforts, doing nothing for a long time then working for 18
hours straight on something. It’s been my experience that sustained
and consistent effort always gets you more real results than
occasional bursts of enthusiasm.

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Movie TopicLast night we watched a great movie, Wet Hot American
Summer
. It’s broadly a parody of summer camp movies and teen
coming of age movies, but also includes much of the weird dark humor
that infested my favorite skit comedy show, MTV’s The
State
. Most of the cast members are there as are several of
the creative forces. And I’m serious that I think The
State
is a better show than Kids in the
Hall
, better than Monty Python. It is a
show that I’d buy every episode on DVD in a heartbeat. To this day, I
cannot hear the phrase “Porcupine racetrack” without grinning.

Alice in Radioland

I skipped the band of the day yesterday as well, but not for lack of
trying. I wanted to put in
Randy Greif
but he gives away no MP3s on
his website. We have this album of his in rotation at WREK that is
fabulous – a five(?!) CD treatment of Alice in Wonderland. It has all
the dialog of the book spread out over 6 hours of tape loops,
industrial and electronic noises and really odd soundscapes. It’s $50
from Soleilmoon Records
(located in my old stomping grounds of Portland OR) and I’m going to
treat myself one of these days and buy it. It’s one of my more
favoriter things they play at the station.

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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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Music TopicToday’s band of the day is one that I’m pretty new to. I found
out about them by hearing them on WREK in the last few months. They
are Woozy Helmet from
Texas. I like the way they sound, “Not Real” being my favorite of the
ones I’ve heard so far. They have a lot of MP3s up on the site. The
Macromedia Flash shit is really annoying, but artistic sorts and
musicians seem to love it. Anyway, check it out and listen. If you go
to the “Recordings” page, there are actually more MP3s that aren’t
listed on the downloads page. They rawk, dood!

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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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I forgot to do a band of the day yesterday. Oops. Looking back over
the last one I did, I used the word “amazing” three times in three
sentences. That might be a bit excessive, but Primus really gets to
me.

I set up a script that will automatically post my daily weblog entries
to Dueling Modems and
SFF-Net
. It already drew some comments, about evenly mixed. The
sad truth is that for the time being, I’ll be putting my efforts here
rather than composing posts. I already cut-and-pasted my daily
hows-it-going type posts between the two places, this just adds a
third to the mix.

A coworker sent me a link to a column
of advice on how to be a CEO from jail.
Funny stuff. My favorite
bit:

The FBI frequently confiscates ties, belts and shoelaces. So wear a shirt that looks good without a tie (a Nelson Mandela Madiba is good) and loafers without tassels (simple pumps for women). Men may want to consider Sans-a-belt adjusters on trousers: Jail usually means weight loss.

In my capacity as guy who generates e-mail from WREK, I get added
to a lot of publicity type lists. I got e-mail from jazz musician
Gunter Hampel and the
subject line was “Kein Thema”. I read it thinking he had an album or
project or something by that name, but it was an announcement of a
show at the Knitting
Factory
in New York City. Confused, I thought about it and
realized that is German for “No Subject”. Doh!

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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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Technology TopicI’ve got the borrowed wireless card in the laptop now. It’s
kind of disappointing to set it up when you have no immediate network
to join, kind of like buying a fax machine in 1987 and having no one
to call. I’m taking it to work and seeing what it does
there. According to some online sources, The Red Light Cafe by Piedmont
Park has a wifi access point. Perhaps I should go have a latte there
and check it out. I haven’t been there in years, and every time I’ve
gone there was to see live music. I’m a little amazed they are still
in business after, what eight years? The half-life for
bars/restaurants/coffee houses in Atlanta is about 1 year.

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Music TopicOK, so Sonic Youth is today’s band of the day. I found a technicality
– I really don’t need loopholes when I make the rules, but I have one
anyway. Lee Renaldo has MP3s available under
his section
of
the main SY website
. Lee has always done a lot of these
experimental guitar things. I remember seeing a copy of a project
entitled Barefoot in the Head come through WREK a
decade ago. It caught my eye because of the Brian Aldiss novel from
which it took its title, but it was one of these Renaldo improv guitar
noise things and was very intriguing. I’m listening to “Outside my
Window” right now, and I like it. I think I might excerpt it and stick
it into WREK automation.

Rock for the aged

I was willing to go rock out tonight as well, to
see Atlanta musician David Ryan Harris. Once a month, he has what
isn’t billed as a show, but a “social.” He brings nametags and
everything, so that it’s more like a gathering of friends than a concert.
He sent a message to his mailing list that it would be tonight, and we
were geared and willing to do it, but now it turns out it will be next
week. This used to be what my lifestyle was 15 years ago, seeing bands
3 or 5 or 7 nights a week. It’s hard to maintain that when you get
old.

Wireless

Technology TopicNow I can’t wait to get home. The IT guy at work has given me
an indefinite loan of a wireless card. I’m going to plug it into my
laptop and see what I can see. I don’t have an access point or
anything in the house, so unless one of my neighbors has a wide open
access point, there ain’t a lot I can do with it. I suppose I could go
down to Georgia Tech where the
whole campus has them and play with it.

Orders

I plumb forgot that I was reordering how I did the weblogging, and
doing new entries at the top. I rearranged the nonconforming entries
so they are all back up to spec. Everything is fine with BlogMax
except that the upload-month command has stopped rewriting several of
this month’s days. I’ll have to look into that.

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So I rocked out last night, and I’m not in too bad
of shape now. The show ended relatively early, so I was at home by
12:15 AM. I didn’t get to bed that much later than I usually do. Sonic Youth was good, noisy
fun. They didn’t play “Teenage Riot” or “Mary Christ” but they did
play “Candle”, “Kissability” and “Silver Rocket” from Daydream
Nation
and “Kool Thing” from Goo. All in
all, a good investment. The Vortex was quite good, and I bought the CD
of Daydream Nation at Criminal, replacing the worn
cassette I have played 1000 times. That Ragin’ Cajun burger and cheese
dip was the
end of the line, today I start working on losing weight.

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Music TopicToday’s band of the day is
Jill Sobule
. You may have heard her one hit, “I Kissed a
Girl”. That’s a great song, but she is about much more than that. I
saw her open for Warren Zevon a year or two back and she put on a
great show, just her and her guitar. I hadn’t checked on her website
in a few months, and when I went back today, I see that she has really
beefed up her MP3
download page
. Wow! On top of that, she has a song called “Mexican
Wrestler” about wanting to put on the mask and become someone else
(and beat up a truculent lover.) I love it.