Post Ike Post

Traffic Cop

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Traffic Cop

As the city struggles to recover from Hurricane Ike, more and most people are hitting the roads. Driving to work, running errands, etc. Of course with a lot of the city without power there’s a lot of traffic lights that are just dark. Traffic during peak hours, while not all that great on a normal day, is extremely bad as those who barely (if at all) qualify for a drivers license vainly struggle to sort out the de facto 4-way stops that plague even the shortest trip on any given surface street.

Today was the first day I’ve seen the local police out directing traffic. It helps, but there’s still a lot of congestion. As I was driving into town this evening the traffic on 59 headed out of the city was the thickest I’ve ever seen it. And that was at 8:00 pm.

Lovett

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Lovett

I swung by KPFT to see how things were going. I’d heard that the station had gotten back on the air on Friday and actually played “Here Comes The Sun” by The Beatles repeatedly for an hour. For those not in the know, this was the first song played on KPFT when it went on the air on March 1, 1970.

As of now the station is on the air and returns to the normal schedule first thing on Tuesday morning. We’re actually hijacking our own Internet connection to send the signal to the transmitter over IP until we get things sorted out with the microwave.

Of course this means Technology Bytes will be back on Wednesday which gives me the happy. Anything to return my own sense of routine and normalcy goes a long, long way.

KPFT Remembers

[tags]kpft, pacifica[/tags]

The remains of the KPFT transmitter from when we were literally blown off the air on May 12, 1970.

The History

KPFT’s transmitter was dynamited two months after signing on to the airwaves. KPFT was down for three weeks until repairs could be made.

Five months later, on October 6, 1970, while the station was broadcasting Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant,” the transmitter was bombed yet again and the damage was significantly more extensive. The second bombing took KPFT off the air for three months.

Here is the 10/6/70 press release from KPFT concerning the second bombing attack:

October 6, 1970
2:30 P.M.
PRESS RELEASE

Some time before sunrise this morning someone dynamited the transmitter of KPFT, Pacifica Radio in Houston. This is the second time in less than six months that criminals have tried to silence the station by bombing our transmitter, a transmitter which can be built and operated only with the permission of the Federal Government. The act itself is criminal. It is a modern method of cutting out a man’s tongue.

KPFT is a grass roots enterprise, community supported and paid for by its listeners. It is educational non-commercial and its microphones are open to all points of view.

People in Houston should know of the 20 year history of the Pacifica foundation, whose successful stations in New York, California – and affiliates on college campuses – have won plaudits from professional journalists, its listeners, and such national organizations as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Pacifica Foundation is a nonprofit corporation chartered in 1946. It is a fully tax-exempt public charity. As a noncommercial broadcaster, it limits its work to the ownership and operation of radio stations and to related projects. Pacifica is non-political and has no social program or goals. It never editorializes about political questions or other matters. The Foundation’s four stations exchange programs, but are independently programmed. Like all stations, they are prohibited from programming anything that could be characterized as obscene, libelous, or seditious.

KPFT will be back on the air broadcasting with your help – broadcasting complete wire copy, broadcasting music and voices which are so hard to hear in Houston. All of us who are working to put the station back on the air – the Advisory Board of Directors, the paid staff and, most of all, the unpaid volunteers, listeners, and supporters of the station – are more determined than ever that Houston have an open microphone. It looks like it needs it.

We feel our loss is Houston’s loss and solicit the aid of all concerned citizens. We will be back on the air, but only with your help. This bombing can be fatal to Pacifica in Houston. We earnestly appeal for your financial contributions.

—-

Also in the picture above is the recently added window pane that features the bullet hole from the recent drive by shooting.

Here’s a rather rare video about the bombing in 1970

Volunteers Are Standing By

phliKtid, co-host and engineer for Technology Bytes, takes a turn manning the phones to take listener pledges during the 2007 fall fundraiser for KPFT on Halloween night…

Remembering his volunteer training phliKtid is calm, courteous and professional


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After taking the pledge he thanks the listener for their generous support


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Break time!


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Don’t Shoot!

If you’ve been paying attention to the news at all this week then I am sure
you have heard about the recent shooting at KPFT, the station I broadcast Technology Bytes from each Wednesday from 8-10 pm.

To recap (from the KPFT site):

At about 1 AM Monday, August 13 a gunshot was fired
from a passing car into the KPFT control room. It penetrated thru both
panes of the outer window, entered the room and smashed into the control
room door on the far side of the room. Police were summoned and have begun an investigation.
Fortunately, Mary Thomas and John Orr of “Zydeco Pas Salé” were not hurt.

I have sat in that control room many times in the last 20 years of programming at KPFT. Only in the last few years have I had an engineer working the board (thanks phliKtid!) which allows me to sit in the windowless on-air studio.

I’m truly grateful that no one was hurt during the incident

This is not the first violent episode at KPFT.

The station’s transmitter was bombed and destroyed on May 12, 1970,
two months after going on the air. The new station was off the air for
three weeks until repairs could be made.

Five months later, on October 6, 1970, while the station was broadcasting Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant,” the transmitter was bombed yet again and
the damage was significantly more extensive. The second bombing took
KPFT off the air for three months.

Check out this rare video:

The bombing was at the transmitter and the actual station was unharmed, as were the programmers and staff of KPFT.

There’s a piece of the destroyed transmitter on display at the radio station.
It’s upstairs so you have to know about it or ask to see it if you are just
a casual visitor.

Then there was the time not too long ago that the guy who has been ranting and raving all over the Internet about Technology Bytes and KPFT conspiring with Microsoft to exploit the American public showed up at the station brandishing a shotgun.

As to the recent shooting, I have no idea what the motivation might be.
It could have been someone upset with our left leaning programming, it could
have been random, it could have been a disgruntled volunteer…heck,
it could have been someone upset with Rick Heysquierdo for playing one
too many Billy Joe Shaver songs on Lone Star Jukebox for all I know…

The Freepers are going back and forth from accusing us of shooting ourselves as a publicity stunt or a
conspiracy to suggesting that we were “asking for it” …

One thing’s for sure, this event has the opportunity to galvanize
support for KPFT in this community.

No matter your political leanings, no matter your spiritual beliefs
or taste in music, everyone (sane) can agree that shooting a
radio station is just crazy and, quite possibly, a REAL symbol
of the threat to freedom of speech and expression faces each
and every day in this country.

If anything, the recent shooting might bring some much needed
attention to the plight of our little public radio station. Maybe more
people will be motivated to get involved. It’s times of crisis that seem
to bring out the best in people.

I don’t see my show as a lightning rod for controversy, but I sometimes
lose site of the fact that KPFT can be.

I’ll be doing my show tonight. Business as usual. But you can bet I will be a little more on the wary side than before.

Links of interest:

Rolas de Aztlan (kpft.wordpress.com)
Notes from KPFT Program Director Ernesto Aguilar

The Texas Observer (www.texasobserver.org)
KPFT’s Close Call

Charles Kuffner (offthekuff.com)
KPFT targeted for “alternative” programming?

Technology makes for strange bedfellows

Exciting day yesterday!

Dwight Silverman arrived at the station with a copy of his new book, Microsoft Windows Vista: Peachpit Learning Series

There are several things that make this VERY cool to me, so forgive me being a bit of a techno-spazz.

1. Our friend Dwight published a book!
2. Technology Bytes now features an author who has published a book!
3. Technology Bytes is mentioned on the back cover of a nationally published book!

In other cool geek news, we had a special guest on the show last night. None other than James Kendrick of JK On The Run fame.

James is an expert on mobile computing and his blog is probably the single best source for anything related to that particular aspect of technology.

Thanks James! We appreciate you taking the time!

Fair and Balanced

Got an e-mail last night from Ned Hibbard over at the local Fox affiliate. They were doing a piece on the discovery of the Quicktime vulnerability that’s getting a little “buzz” as we kick of the Month of Apple Bugs.

He wanted to know if he could send a camera guy over to the radio station during my show. The idea was to record us on air in hopes of getting a sound bite to use in a story they were putting together for the evening news about the vulnerability.

Not being one who turns down a chance for free publicity, I agreed.

They did end up using several seconds of video they shot. It wasn’t an Emmy award winning performance by any means. Still, it’s good promo for the show. Especially since they got the name of the show right, unlike the previous story I did for the NBC affiliate last August.

La la la la la la, live for today

Alejandro Escavedo

Last night at the Continental Club was one of those nights where the past does not so much collide with the present, rather it pulls up along side and waves kindly and you smile and wave back with a stupid grin as recognition slowly creeps in and pries open the recesses of memory.

On the bill for the evening was Alejandro Escavedo. For all that Alejandro has accomplished I still remember him for his efforts in a band called the True Believers back in the 80’s.

Most of the fans seemed to be more recent converts but there were some from “back in the day” as the kids like to say.

Most notable were long time friends JR Delgado and Toby Blunt.

JR and Toby

JR owned and ran one of the most well known punk clubs in Houston, The Axiom. During the 80’s and early 90’s I attended many shows at this particular club. Often referred to as the “Mecca to the Houston Underground” it now enjoys a lesser notoriety as the home of Infernal Bridegroom Productions. My band, The Flying Fish Sailors, had the opportunity to play there on a few occasions. The best show was the one where we opened for The Dead Milkmen.

Toby Blunt is most well known from Mary Jane’s Fat Cat over on Washington but I met him back in the days when he played for Fab Motion. This was a band that had a lot of potential and was even the Houston Press 1989 Band of the Year. I even located this old flyer from the mid 80’s when Fab Motion and The True Believers were on the same bill at Cafe Mode.

I halfway expected to see Chuck Roast and Austin Caustic from the old Funhouse Show on KPFT show up at any given point.

It was a good evening and a great show. It’s good to see Alejandro doing so well. I got some nice pics from last night. Click here to see them.

It was the best of times, it was the blurst of times

When I got the call from Phil Archer and Channel 2 I was reluctant to be interviewed on such short notice. I was not feeling my prettiest yesterday and, believe it or not, I suffer from HUGE stage fright. I hide it well but you can see it in the beads of sweat that form on my head. I tried to duck out but he was very persistent. I was explaining to him that I didn’t feel camera ready and he asked me “Do you have any open wounds?” to which I replied “Well, no, not right now.” He said “Then we’re good to go!”

I gave him directions to the office and he and his cameraman were there in 15 minutes.

These guys are pros and they do put a person at ease when they are doing the interview so I relaxed very quickly.

As it turns out, I was able to get home in time for the broadcast so I could cringe in horror as appropriate. Turns out I looked fine and the sound bite was perfect. It could not have been a better on screen appearance….well, except for one tiny detail.

The name of the radio show is Technology Bytes, not Reality Bytes.

Yes, Technology Bytes and Reality Bites both strive to be funny.
We both were created in Houston, TX.

But from there the differences become more and more glaring.

Reality Bites was created in 1994
Technology Bytes was created in 1995

Reality Bites is a comedy about love in the ’90s
Technology Bytes is a comedy about computing with equipment from the 90’s

Reality Bites features a mediocre cast of washed up near nobodies
Technology Bytes features a … wait … this is not a difference.

For sure they have more women in the movie than we do on our show, but I bet Jennifer the Intern was never arrested for shoplifting.

Ah well, you know what they say about publicity.

Technology Bytes Anniversary Party = Success!

Last night’s gathering of geeks in celebration of the 11th anniversary of Technology Bytes was a spectacular success. Many, many fine people showed up as the band played and adult beverages were consumed.

A heartfelt thanks to Drop Trio for providing the music and for the special tunes learned, rehearsed and performed for the event. You guys are awesome!

The Houston Chronicle had a photographer there and I can’t wait to see THOSE pictures. For now I have the ones I took uploaded to this gallery.

We had a nice turnout, the full crew of the show was there; Peter, Barrett, phliKtid, Dwight and Groovehouse, as well as show contributors Charles Born and the lovely Aurora Losada.

I believe Jennifer the Intern has officially crossed over as evidenced by her new I Heart Geeks shirt.

Also in attendance were many of the regular geek gathering attendees as well as Groovehouse’s IRC Army, including Amateria, Sketkar, Lambo, Kimberly, BeingKatie, KD5, Yivit and TomTom

We also met many, MANY new folks who had not yet attended one of our events.

And, to make it a TRUE Tech Bytes experience, I even helped a total stranger perform a complete clean install of Windows XP on her laptop while sitting at the bar. When she arrived at the party she had a computer that didn’t work very well. By the time we were done she was happily surfing the web using the Wi-Fi provided by Dean’s Credit Clothing.

I AM a party animal, yes indeed.

Long live the new flesh

Seeing as how it’s anniversary time and all you’ll excuse me for waxing nostalgic.

After a caller to the radio show made a comment about my previous radio program from years and years ago I got to thinking that it has been WAY too long since I have seen David Cronenberg’s film Videodrome.
I wonder if it still holds up.
I should look for it at BB or Netflix.

The current radio show I do now evolved from my late night talk show I called Radiodrome which was a play on this movie title. It was an overnight (pre Art Bell) talk show with music that addressed some very bizarre topics.

The suffix “drome” in Latin means racecourse or field and is derived from Greek dromos which means racecourse.

It is used in words to describe a facility or a all encompassing space where something takes place.

Like a velodrome is a structure for cycling events or an aerodrome is defined area intended to be used either wholly or in part for the arrival, departure, and movement of aircraft or hippodrome which is place set apart for equestrian and chariot races.

I envisioned this show as an all encompassing place for a radio experience to be had. It was a lot of fun.
The shirt I had made for it was designed by my good friend James Keene.

Note the dial on the radio is tuned to 90.1 which is the channel the show was on. The slogan was “Old Fashioned Radio With A Beat”…

Sometimes I really do miss doing the ultra-creative and weird radio.
But the only place for it is overnight and I just don’t have the stamina for it anymore.

Maybe I will find a way to get back to it someday.

phliKtid

Last night’s show was pretty good. At least we managed to entertain ourselves and that’s always a plus. My friend Jennifer came out for a bit of an internship on the phones. Groovehouse showed her the ropes and she did a good job during the second hour managing the incoming calls.

As we were all preparing to go home I was stuck by the true geekiness of the crew of the show. We are SUCH nerds.

Take, for example, phliKtid
He’s the man behind, well…behind EVERYTHING. Just click on these images to see what I mean.

phliKtid phliKtid phliKtid
phliKtid phliKtid phliKtid

phliKtid is the brains behind the hilarious promos that run for the show and he’s been running the sound board and has taken on the role of engineer for the program.

phliKtid is the subtle nerd. He’s a systems administrator for a local medical college and he’s a Free BSD user. He doesn’t “toot his own horn” so much but there is one concession he makes to his geekitude.

Check out his vanity plate on his motorcycle.

Aww, yea!

Geek Gathering – 06/02/2006

Another excellent gathering of the geeks!
There were many new toys being oogled by a room full of nerds and nerd onlookers.

Dwight Silverman, self proclaimed Microsoft lackey and friend of Bill, was spotted with a new Macintosh computer. He claims it belongs to his daughter but there was a unmistakable gleam of delight in his his eye as he explored the features.

Barrett was sporting a new 17″ Macbook and Russell Holliman of Mobilepodcast fame was toting a brand new Motorola Q phone.

It was also a pleasure to meet Matt B. of mattsapundit.com.

In terms of gadgetry and attendees this was probably one of the geekiest geek gatherings in a long time. That’s probably for the best since my friend Jennifer decided to pay a visit. She’s expressed an interest in helping Groovehouse out with phone screening duties on show nights and it’s important she fully realize what she’s getting herself into.

A few more photos here.