Ok, it’s Pizza Mountain now

From now on I have a standing rule that our site with the three ArmNOPEs is Pizza Mountain, because if I have to go up there to fix anything the company is going to have to buy me pizza in exchange for doing so.

Our engineer from the two markets down south sent me this picture of where the transmitter for the “Power” CHR station… well, it had a power…. problem. Its latest trick was to roast the primary lead to the plate transformer.

A couple weeks ago I went up there at night and reset the breaker to put that thing on air. I had no idea the reason it likely tripped was that it was slow-roasting itself to death internally. OH WELL!

So that’ll be spinach, mushrooms, extra cheese, roasted garlic, and Canadian bacon, please…. I still have to fit one of the other transmitters up there with new motors for the input tuning caps in a “nobody’s made this gearhead DC motor in two decades” situation, gee, where have I seen this before?

So, to be fair, Pizza Mountain is a ridge you get to prior to reaching a taller mountain range to the west. I tried to drive up there to explore a bit but got SNOped out, oh well! I should go up there in summer and see what’s beyond here. I know this highway eventually goes over the other side and lands in the Mendocino Forest.

say, isn’t this what led the donner party to expand their culinary horizons?

Brain sludge.

Earlier this morning while actually feeling the effects of my brain trying to malfunction its way into full on migraine headache, I started to ponder for a moment if years of living with stress, sleep deprivation, and anxiety had left me with the brain chemistry of an abandoned swimming pool.

Nah. It’s not that bad— migraines just suck. Basically, the brain entirely misfires and screws up, best I can understand of the medical science behind it. It’s like when you’re playing a pinball game and a multiball begins and the balls all immediately loft off of each other and off of the slingshots and other unpleasant parts of the playfield and suddenly drain at the left and right outlanes and SDTM (straight down the middle).

But then I had this one intrusive thought, or more like, memory, that keeps haunting me to this day. WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT MYSTERY PARTY EVERY WEEKEND?

 

It was, oh, 2004 or so. The Quad was a neverending source of excitement in my neighborhood but there was one thing that I could never, ever figure out. It was fairly harmless, except to one’s sense of logic and reason, trying to figure out what it was or why it was happening.

 

Our house was in the middle of the block on the south side. On the northeast corner of the block was a house on a slightly large lot which had a big yard and a large covered patio on the back. There was an extended family living there, which isn’t uncommon at all. Every now and then they had parties which had a lot of people in attendance – seemed like most of them were family for the most part.

 

I suspect the house changed ownership as I saw different vehicles outside and an older lady who used to walk around the block every day wasn’t there anymore. I never really spoke to them much as the language barrier was pretty bad – I’ve never spoken enough Spanish to hold a conversation and they didn’t speak English. Everything thus had a kind of mystery about it— but then came the really… really big mystery.

 

The family there started holding parties every weekend and brought in a DJ (by which I mean some guy who had a mixer, iTunes, and a set of speakers). The first couple of weekends, it was just blasting salsa, reggaeton, and random pop music, with his voice occasionally booming over it all distorted. The music was POWERFULLY loud and was very audible inside our concrete block house, probably a good 300 feet away. They’d start up maybe 1 or 2 pm, and it’d be over by like 6 or so, never running into the night (thank goodness). Cars would be parked on the swale all over the block from the people in attendance. Following these first 2 or 3 unremarkable parties, they developed a unique and bizarre format, and that is what haunts me to this day. What was this and WHY?

In radio, a lot of programming adheres to a format clock which dictates what goes where in each hour. There are certain times for the break, station identification, locally inserted advertising/sponsorship, etc. In television it’s the same way but a little more standardized between shows. These parties—- they… could have had a format clock, because they all ran exactly the same. I don’t know what the hell they were doing but it was like this:

12-1 PM: Setup with random music playing, no voice.

1:00 PM: Music cuts off, followed by talking on the mic

1:05 PM: Beginning of Dragostea Din Tei loop.

…..

6:20 PM: Burst of shouting followed by the party ending.

 

Now, the loop is the super perplexing part.

Each cycle of it started with the guy shouting. His voice was heavily distorted, and I was hearing the reflection off houses and the back side of the speakers so it was muffled beyond recognition. I was never once able to understand what he’d say on each cycle.

He’d start shouting something (unintelligible due to the distortion and echo between the houses) then start playing what’d be 30 seconds of the chorus of Dragostea Din Tei.

(this video is not set to autoplay, if it does for some sick and twisted reason decide to autoplay, please inform me so that I may go drive down to San Francisco where this server is located in a VPS container in a datacenter, pull it offline, and fill it with beans)

The first 15 seconds would play out clean.
The last 15 seconds would have a police whistle blown on the backbeat.
The last 10 seconds had the whistle blown on every beat.
The last 2 or 3 seconds were covered by the whistle blowing constantly.
Then he’d yell something again and seconds later the pattern began over again.

This…. went on for hours. Pretty much the only time this pattern ever changed was the one week that I knew myself and the three neighbors in between were all getting very tired of this, and I just happened to have a single weird damaged PA speaker that came from the university’s surplus warehouse and had a strangely narrow dispersion angle. I put it up on the edge of the roof and blasted tracks from The Conet Project in their general direction. This caused the Dragostea Din Tei loop to end and be replaced with the guy shouting occasionally instead…. until my amplifier overheated and shut down. The brief shouting and Dragostea Din Tei resumed IMMEDIATELY.

 

This continued up through when the neighbors who lived directly behind us moved out and someone else bought the house and turned it into an entirely unauthorized and horrible banquet hall. That was….. a whole new form of fresh hell, but at least it did not leave me with a baffling, bizarre mystery that will haunt me until the end of days.

funny, I usually see Aqua Net recommended for adhesion on a glass bed, but I guess Rave works fine when you’re printing a dickbutt

Bleeuuuggggghhh

I’ve been working a couple of insane days for the end of this week so the company has me staying in a nearby hotel they have trade with. As not to piss anyone off I won’t name it, but it’s in a beautiful place outside the city, on the bank of the river. They make a big deal about being a LEED certified facility.

Last night I got there, checked in, and went to my room. I picked up one of the coffee mugs and it had a waxy feeling mess on the outside and smelled like hibiscus blossoms. There were bits of the same inside the mug.

I figured it hadn’t been washed properly so I looked underneath. The “made in China” paper sticker was still fully intact. I sanitized it by boiling water in it in the microwave, let it cool, and used paper towels and isopropyl alcohol I had in my car to clean it out.

The next evening, the mug I had used was back under a paper dust cover and this time both of them had a thick coating of the waxy junk.

On the bathroom counter are two pump top bottles… One’s a hand soap that smells like lavender. One’s a lotion.. ….

Which smells like hibiscus.

You didn’t– really? Seriously???

Sonicwall, schmonicwall

How to forward ports on a SonicWall:

Okay, it’s easy, just start steeping some hemlock into the blood of a virgin in a quartz flask upon an altar of old single sided floppies and get to work—-

you will not know this horror unless you experience it for yourself and i recommend you not.

sonicwall was clearly developed by someone who had a raging databases-where-databases-are-not-due fetish.

you do not just specify addresses. you do not just specify ports.

No.

You create address objects.
You create service objects to define ports.

Then you define NAT rules.

HOWEVER…. if you manually enter or edit anything about a NAT rule, for arcane and horrible reasons that have apparently never been addressed in over a decade worth of firmware versions, they break. The only reliable way to create these rules is to go into Quick Configuration and use the Public Server Wizard. There, you can create your objects (or select them if they’re existing already) and bake them into a NAT rule.

Then maybe 40% of the time it works and the rest of the time you’re frantically SSH’ing into a remote shell somewhere else and crying into your coffee over the output of nmap.

FUCK SONICWALL.

Oh that’ll wake you up

The RMT for this month came through just GRRRRRRRRRRR-EAT!!!

Warning: Replaying these files on any broadcast station or cable TV system is a violation of FCC rules. Yes, there are people who would be ignorant enough to try it otherwise (oh hi Bobby Bones show).

This is the end result with Billy and Patrick being very very confused…

The actual audio received by the SAGE Endec:

Had this been an actual emergency, uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

FNORD!

AaaaaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAA

there are no words. Someday I will try to come up with words in the process of writing a notice of retirement, but that day is not today.

The really fucked up one is an Armstrong tube transmitter from the mid 1990s.

The tape wadded splices are in the ~8000 volt plate supply. Also in this collection, a Nautel that ate a BNC lead that then ate several expensive RF transistors.

🎶 I am barely breathing, I can’t find the air 🎶

Help Wanted in Engineering and Oppression Prevention! uh

I’ve addressed some pretty out there engineering job openings in the past, but this one is the strangest I’ve ever seen. Please go ahead and grab a glass of water and drop a couple of Alka-Seltzer in it, because you may need it. I’m going to inline my comments in a nice shade of cyan reminiscent of P2 phosphor.

KBOO is Hiring: Chief Engineer

Published date:
Thursday, February 7, 2019 – 11:59am

Please submit resume and cover letter with the answer to the question “Why is KBOO Important” by March 4th, 2019 11:59 pm to engineerhire@kboo.fm 

I’m sorry but what— this is one of the strangest, most pretentious things I’ve ever seen on an application. This is not a standard cover letter by any means. This is just W E I R D

or mail/bring your resume and cover letter to: Station Manager 20 SE 8th Ave. Portland OR 97214

KBOO Community Radio Department: Operations

Job Title: Chief Engineer

Reports to: Station Manager Employment

Status: Exempt

danger, will robinson

Hours: 40 hours per week

Positions Supervised: Live Events Engineer, IT Systems Admin Contractor, Transmitter / Translator / STL / EAS Contractor, and Volunteers

Revised: January 2019

General Description: To oversee and maintain the technical operation of KBOO’s studios, its transmitters and translators at an optimum level.

Qualifications

  • Broadcast engineering and electronic experience necessary.
  • Ability to work with, train and assist a diverse group of people and the ability to explain technical matters to non-technical beginners.
  • Experience in installation, modification, maintenance and repair of broadcasting equipment, including but not limited to: CD players, digital audio equipment, cassette recorders, computer hardware and software, audio mixers, microphones and telephone systems.
  • Driver’s license and vehicle for travel to transmitter / translator sites.
  • Ability to improvise and achieve results with materials and resources on-hand.
  • Knowledge and experience working with analog and digital equipment.
  • Computer skills.

So far, so good….. though I worry about this being an exempt position. This gets REALLY nasty when you’re required to work more than 40 hours a week, but do not receive any compensation for it. But now, all aboard the WOO TRAIN

Essential Functions

  • Identify and address institutional and individual acts of oppression at KBOO. Ensure there is interruption of the oppression, follow-up and support for those impacted as well as documentation/record keeping of the incident.

I’m sorry.

What? This is very strange, but it continues—

  • Work to implement KBOO’s affirmative action policy in recruiting, training and maintaining volunteers.

This is a very strange task for an engineer – serving as a volunteer coordinator, but at least it’s not asking one to fight oppression…. whatever that implies….

  • Maintain signal and audio quality.
  • Act as Chief Operator in maintaining FCC logs and required documentation.
  • Maintain broadcasting equipment in good working order, including studio equipment and system phones, transmitters and translators.
  • Coordinate with staff for the station’s audio equipment and studio needs, including purchasing and soliciting bids.
  • Supervise the IT/Systems Admin Contractor.
  • Supervise the Transmitter / Translator / STL / EAS Contractor.
  • Supervise and provide support and backup for Live Events Engineer.
  • Work with other staff to coordinate training for engineering volunteers.

So are you coordinating volunteers or are you not coordinating volunteers?

  • Guaranteed 24-hour emergency engineering support for the station, either in person or by delegation to qualified engineering volunteers and contract engineers.

oh, that’s where the “exempt” part gets ya.

  • Coordinate with staff to plan and implement engineering budget, including long-term strategic planning for engineering needs.
  • Coordinate facilities maintenance at tower and translator sites.
  • Participate in engineering projects as assigned by station manager (i.e. production room remodels).
  • Oversee engineering aspects of new transmitters / translators (i.e. planning and project implementation).
  • Lead/staff the engineering committee meetings. Generate agendas each month and ensure there are committee minutes that are put up on the web within 5 days of the meeting.
  • Attend technology operating team and staff meetings.
  • Other duties as assigned.
  • Keep KBOO in compliance with FCC rules and regulations relating to engineering and technical issues.

Salary

This is a full-time position with a starting salary $31,426.38/year. The employee shall be eligible for annual step increases subject to conditions in KBOO’s Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Okay, wait. 24/7 on call…. salaried exempt… under 32k a year…. in PORTLAND? How do they expect one to live like that?

Probationary Period

Any person hired will be required to join and pay dues to CWA Local 7901 after 90 days. There is a six month probationary period. This period is not to be construed as a contract.

Wait, this is….. union…..

WHO APPROVED THIS COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT AND WHY ARE THEY NOT ON FIRE? Please make them be on fire. Thanks.

Benefits

Benefits include medical and dental coverage, disability and life insurance, and credit union eligibility. This position also offers paid vacation, sick leave, and 11 paid holidays per year, in accordance with KBOO’s Collective Bargaining Agreement. FSLA-exempt employees receive paid compensatory time off. Eligibility for the pension plan is one year after the date of hire.

Nice benefits under that Collective Bargaining Agreement, but WTF IS WITH THAT SALARY?!

Working Conditions

KBOO has over 150 hours per week of local programming, produced by volunteers who need to be trained on studio equipment. KBOO is a union shop and all (non-management) staff are members of Communications Workers of America (CWA) – Local 7901. All employees are expected to provide time to answer questions and to help volunteers learn. The engineer is called upon on a daily basis to help volunteers with using the studios and equipment. The engineer conducts workshops to train people as engineering volunteers. The engineer will work, coordinate efforts, and learn from contract engineers on special projects. KBOO’s environment is hectic and stimulating. You must enjoy working with a wide diversity of volunteers.

Funny, it sounds like most of your time as the salaried engineer will be volunteer too after those 40 hours a week. I really wonder what the collective bargaining agreement says about that. Then again, it really sounds to me like it’s the most watered down piece of junk ever. Alas…..

We have an air studio, three production rooms, multiple digital editing stations, and other rooms used for live public affairs and music. The engineer’s office also doubles as a workshop and contains some of the transmission and phone equipment. We have two STL’s (station links) to our tower with main and backup transmitters.

There are other engineers in Portland with a wide range of experience, both volunteers and contract hires, which you may work with and learn from.

And they might take pity on your predicament and try to find you jobs in their far better organizations, I’d like to hope—

KBOO has regular membership drives. They require an intense amount of time and coordination. The engineer must provide technical assistance as necessary during these drives.

BAHAHAHAHAHA AND HOW. My experience with these at another station was pretty much that it was two weeks of 14 hour days.

Workplace expectations at KBOO radio include: effective verbal and written communications; conflict de-escalation; skillful volunteer relations and utilization; capable project management; work-area organization; response to phone calls and correspondence; teamwork and cooperation with other employees, volunteers, and Board members; furtherance of KBOO mission, goals and values; meeting attendance and participation; capable departmental budgeting; and punctuality.

Equipment Used

KBOO equipment ranges from vintage analog audio player/recorders, 40-year old transmitters and mixing consoles to state of the art, networked digital broadcast consoles. There is heavy usage of all this equipment. You must repair as necessary and ascertain the need for new purchases within a somewhat limited budget.

Keep in mind…. at under $32k/year…. and the maintenance and repair is probably 40 hours a week in and of itself.

KBOO is an equal opportunity and affirmative action employer, Women and People of Color are encouraged to apply. Discrimination because of age, race, religion, color, sex, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, gender presentation, class, creed, physical or mental disability is prohibited.

Meanwhile, I just can’t even. This position will HOPEFULLY remain unfilled until they refine it severely to actually make it worth someone’s time and effort to fill it.

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