(Shitposting Resumes)

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For the love of Eris don’t go running cables in a cramped horrible attic while wearing skinny jeans. As if one needs any help with potentially missing their step onto one of the 24″ spaced joists and plunging through the sheetrock…..

A bit of a contrast

This, if I’d still been in Southeast Florida:

“Oh shit what if the gas stations are closed or if there’s a two hour traffic jam to get to one shit this is going to be disastrous”

In northern California:

“Ha okay, fine, time for a pit stop”

A broadcast engineer’s nightmare.

I’m referring to a literal nightmare here, not a figurative one. I had a pretty frighteningly vivid one last night. I blame being a bit tired out after having subjected myself to transistor horror.

In this dream I had been invited to visit an engineer at a local TV station. In reality, up here in the northern Sacramento Valley, there’s pretty much just one TV station that produces the news for most of the cities north of Sac.. anyway…

I walked into the facility which was in some nondescript warehouse bay, past a row of dusty screaming servers, and into a dark, cold little control room that had unpainted drywall walls and a window looking out on the news set.

Photo by Tiia Monto

There was just one guy there. He sat in front of some kind of really REALLY dummied down console that had a few faders and buttons on it which apparently did next to nothing as they were covered in dust. A small cheap netbook computer with the power lead duct taped into the side sat in the middle of this console. The only button that did anything was an illuminated and quite worn TAKE button on the lower right corner. Above this console was some kind of weird rackmount unit with two 16:9 CRT monitors and a satellite receiver. One was on program out, one was showing the output of a waveform rasterizer somewhere which revealed the same thing that the program monitor did: the cameras which were on robotic pedestals out in the studio, which were set on auto white balance and auto iris, were shaded very very badly. No controls were present to correct this.

Nobody else was present.

The news show opened and the talent began reading from their teleprompters. The prompters were fed from who the hell knows where (the engineer didn’t even know!) and there were really messed up lower thirds and captions that appeared and disappeared pretty much whenever they felt like it – the guy was reading the show rundown on the netbook screen and calling the scenes, as he pressed the worn old take button to transition between them, but only the people on set actually ever seemed to listen. The cameras often didn’t move when they were supposed to, or pointed at the ceiling or something, and nobody was here to fix it— he’d just smash the take button again and skip the scene where they were supposed to be used.

Of course, the Sinclair group ‘must read’ propaganda piece on fake news was read by the talent. (In reality, this one local news station we have up here is a Shitclair property, but they have never read this that I’m aware of— instead they just have this weird pretentious sounding statement about accuracy.)

The weather was then run, supposedly from a local meterologist, but in reality it came from a satellite feed from who the hell knows where. A low Eb/N0 warning flashed on the receiver display and it glitched out. The engineer just hit TAKE again and the commercial break began.

I just felt this horrible sense of terror and started running. The shitty little warehouse bay suddenly became an endless maze of alternately insanely dense or empty racks of nonsense equipment and cabling. At some point I saw a display showing the transmitter readings, the VSWR was high as hell, the signal was (miraculously) in mask, but the 8VSB eye diagram showed two entire levels smashed flat and missing… I thought to myself “well, at least that means nobody is able to watch this shitty trainwreck over the air!”…

Then I was suddenly back home in my bedroom watching this shit on the television. There was a badly corrupted picture on screen as they started talking about a farmer’s market up in Shingletown. I saw one of my enormous Yaesu satellite base radios sitting on the nightstand, which was actually a useful detail later in convincing myself I dreamed all this shit.

Then I woke up, but I was stuck in that horrible state of having to convince myself that this incredibly vivid dream was NOT real.

WHAT THE FUCK WAS ANY OF THAT, BRAIN?! What’s scary is, depending on who you ask, this is the grim future of television news. It was truly horrifying at the time.

Here, enjoy these ridiculous-ass 90s game commercials.

THE SAME VOICE IS USED IN THE NEXT ONE— which made me loudly exclaim “ohhhh hell nope”.

As a palate cleanser, here’s a Gak ad. (GAK FARTS INTENSIFY.)

Well that’s why the start ladder is all pooched

There’s a Paras in it.

In all seriousness though I’m starting to fear I’m temporarily buried in craziness. My boss is trying to track down some 4CX250’s for a Continental IPA and the answer as to where to find these is “go charge up the Delorean and go back to 1985 to pick up some Eimacs”. This business gets weird sometimes.

Annoyance

Sometimes you just wonder “what was ANY OF THAT?”… yeah.

I dunno, I got pretty frustrated trying to get some old equipment up and running again, and then discovered that my wonderful old Tektronix 2232 oscilloscope started also suffering Capacititis or something. First I came in this morning and was like, what on earth even happened to the bench— oh wait, an amazing struggle with a QEI 675…

Then the scope went blank with a weird whining sound that suggests ye olde crapacitors have failed… I had previously had an issue with the screen getting garbled on this, and percussive maintenance brought it back, but not this time. I went to open it up and look around inside and the blue painted aluminum shell got jammed. I even had a coworker tug on one end while I tugged on the other, it was kind of amusing but pointless. I finally got it loose with silicone spray and slowly wiggling it off. What a mess.

Intel Inside

The usual fancy custom silicon that’ll effectively e-waste the whole scope if any of it gets damaged. Luckily, on this scope, they did NOT use a whole horrible death forest of tantalum capacitors.

Guess it’s all just telling me to slow down for a day and get some smaller things done…

An epiphany.

There are a lot of projects going on in my facility up here, complicated by a bumper crop of technical surprises.

Today I had this old QEI 675 exciter on the bench for a capacitor replacement, and it accepted that with no smoke release, but it still has issues. If the control voltage that sets the oscillator frequency goes to the high end, it kind of gets stuck there. I found it would sometimes go back on after cycling the power, and probing below these op amps in the PLL feedback circuit always brings it back into lock, but that suggests something is marginal in there to the point I can’t just put it back up the mountain.

I pulled up the manual and looked at the list of equipment it said you’d need for alignment– a good frequency counter, oscilloscope, among other things…

I don’t have a scope up here so I started getting really annoyed with not being able to figure out what’s going on with the thing. Then there was a moment of nervous tension when someone said one of the stations went really crackly…. but that turned out to just be the exciter popping to life and using my multimeter lead as an antenna and killing his air monitor. I started to think maybe this should just get aligned on my bench at home, but what an awkward slippery slope that can be if there aren’t good policies in place regarding making sure that doesn’t just fall off the clock… it was just making me worried and annoyed in about ten different ways.

I decided to take a little walk down the hill out back, which ultimately proved to be hilariously soft and slippery, but leads to a beautiful little valley with a creek going through it.

I thought to myself, “of course, I’m not in Florida anymore”.

Then I realized, I’m not in Florida anymore.

Up the hill, in my office, my own equipment was everywhere because that’s what I was used to. In Florida I was just expected to provide everything for my work, with the expectation that if I didn’t, I could just be replaced with some desperate contract worker who would, and would work for half the compensation I would.

That’s Florida though, land of the pissboy job that pays 30% of the national average for any given field. I’m not there anymore.

I guess I need to inquire about getting a scope up here.

Also, I need to brush some serious mud off my boots. I sank a little.

Now I realize what those weird holes are– it’s where the deer hooves sink through!!

The Crag!

The washing machine started banging occasionally during its cycle, suggesting something heavy left in a pocket. Well…

I recognize this weird variegated granite; it’s typical of the rock found at about 2500 feet up on the road to one of my transmitter sites – Linguini Mountain, if you’ve been following my crazed shitposting on the place.

This immediately got me thinking of Nickelodeon Guts, as one does, and how the winner who reached the top of the Aggro Crag first got to take home a piece of the Crag.

Does this mean I won?

technology, magic, malevolent sentience, etc

Please forgive the random test posts I’ve made from time to time, I had an odd issue where I sporadically couldn’t log into WordPress but the Jetpack stuff was still working so I could still use the mobile app, which at some point in its history migrated from being just a standalone client for WordPress to basically being a frontend for Jetpack. Because Everything Should Be A Stupid Cloud Service and all that. Fnord. And now for no particular reason, here’s the porcelain thinking chair over at the Noise of NorCal, 106.7 ZRock.




I really couldn’t tell you why the WordPress nonsense happened— it kind of looks like MAYBE the salt value for the salted password hash in the database was not reliably being used correctly?? It was an odd one. Whatever. It works now.

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