Interview on NPR

Got up early this morning to head to the station at 7am. being a holiday it was deserted but NPR called me on friday needing to rent a studio. I though, hum.. i like listening to NPR, sure i’ll do it.

The Republican National Convention kicks off in St. Paul today with the GOP poised to take back momentum gained by democrats at their national convention last week. Author Reihan Salam, of the Atlantic, is joined by Laura Elizabeth Morales, of the Young Conservatives of Texas, discuss emerging conservatives and what John McCain can do to persuade voters with his message.


In the midst of all the stuff goinig on with the DNC, it’s so nice to hear something new and refreshing for a change.  I typically spend my morning drive to work listening to NPR but the local statation here airs “Morning Edition” I like NPR half because it’s a relife from the music i have to listen to every day, and half because it’s not just entertainment, it’s informative without the spin of the local newstalk station of which cluster name shall rename nameless.

Has it really been that long?

I guess it has been a while since my last post.  Over the July 4th weekend the kids wanted to go to Warp Tour so Patti and I packed up both cars and trekked on to San Antonio.  It was raining most of the way over there but stopped when we got there.  I felt so excited that i had chosen to replace my windshield wipers before i left.  How lame is that?  I can remember my dad doing all this car work before we’d go on trips and now i’m finding myself doing that?!  I guess lame isn’t the right word.. just a reminder that i’m not as young and reckless as i’d like to believe i am.  We dropped Megan and Tori off and went on to Spashtown and spent the rest of the day relaxing.  It was fun to get away for a change.  I don’t do as much traveling as i used to… so it was a nice break to be out and about.

Gas is really getting to be a pain.  I’ve been looking at carpooling sites, thinking of getting a smaller car.  just everything i can to help stop the madness somehow.  It’s no secret that i’ve been looking for work closer to home.  30 miles each day is costing me about $200 a month now, not to mention the wear on my car.  Grant it i love what i do, just not where i’m doing it.  Just this week for example, Verizion (or dumb verizion as they have become to be known on this site) put both of our new circuits in Jeopardy status and not scheduled to be completed until july 19th. A saturday? oh well.  So in the mean time i’ve decided to see what i could do to help the end users here.  One of the guys jobs here is to take the weekend shows we air that come in on CD and load them in the automation system, track by track.  1 3-hour show can have 12 tracks that have to loaded.  that can be an all day task.  and there about 15 shows in all.  SO.. i’ve taken it upon my self to help automate most of the process.  not to eliminate his job but to make his job easier.  Now most of the shows are downloading from the provider overnight, he comes in, does a batch convert to match our system and then loads the tracks directly rather than ripping each one-by-one.  i’m sure this is boring you but just another one of those projects i love giving myself to make other’s jobs easier and help the bottom line in the end of the week.  (less overtime) 

So back to this job thing, oh yeah.  got an email from monster.  usually i just ignore most of them but this one seamed interesting.  The starting pay is $10k more than what i’m making now.  And it’s in mcallen which is a big plus.  It would be great to be able to have lunch at home or with my wife or both!  Anyway… at the end of the day i need to do what’s best for me and my family.  I sent over a resume and hopefully will get to talk to them… see what they can offer, benefits etc.  This place got along before without me. 

Dumb Verizon

This happens about twice a year. I was sitting at my desk and a little popup appeared on the bottom right hand portion of my screen showing that my email was working in “off-line mode” A good indication that our T1 circut is down. tried pinging a router up in the corporate office, “request timed out”

Ran over to the local router, peeked around back, and an orange light on the AL (Alarm Indicator) The first call of action would be to notify corporate so they can get the repair guy on it. picked up the cell phone, no service… hum.. tried the land line, “your request can not be completed at this time”

A senerio we experience here in Weslaco, TX about twice a year. Someone with backhoe pulls up a batch of wires along the side of the road wondering “I wonder if they needed that” In an area surrounded by ATT, Verizion occupies about 4 towns in south texas, and none of them are neighbors. I’m not knocking Verizon. They are doing awesome things in big cities, like NY, they are delivering FIFO, fiber straight to your home with internet, tv, phone.. everything over fiber. Really cool stuff. But here in the valley, it just seams like they don’t care. These little CO’s are like the black-headed step children of the company. There is only one path in and out of verizon weslaco and it’s with that fiber optic line. everyone in the town uses that one circut. If your lucky, you can go out to the road, pick up a stray cell-tower in mercedes or alamo and get coverage their… but you’ll be roaming $$$.

Ironicly, i had a meeting with a seprate telco that serves this area that same day. We are working on switching over to them, and when we do- it will help to alleviate all these troubles. Also, Smartcom is a small business. I met with the Director of Operations and have his email and direct phone number. This is a guy that really knows his stuff and i’m confident- in the event of a problem, he’ll be able to help me out. Rather than calling some call-center, talking to Mohamad in broken English just to try and get to a tech support person.
Continue reading Dumb Verizon

it’s a wonderful day in the neighborhood

ever had one of those days when you feel like skipping down the hallway or jumping up and kicking your heals like in the old Toyota commercial?  no.. well.. too bad.  It’s been one of those days.  It’s actually been one of those weekends.  Yesterday i reformatted my vista laptop.  Helped tori work on another video.  She’s been recruited by two different classes to make videos for them.  I think it’s kind of cool that they are asking her rather than the KMAC kids to do this stuff.  She came up with some really cool stuff.   The last load of laundry in the house was in the dryer when i left this morning.  The house is clean, the filing is done.  Even my itunes library is clean! 

This morning went to Hannah’s science class to talk about what i do.  as much of a science freak as i think i am, it was fun.  i tried to keep it all under their heads but there only so much you can do to talk down radio engineering.

and it’s been so fun, greating people with a smile here at work, they hear the chipper in my voice and somehow that transpires to them and now i think i have everyone around here walking around with a bounce in their step.  it’s been a good day.

after all that work

for years i’ve been working on getting RDS in the valley.  As long as i’ve been working here i think actually.  No one else in the valley’s doing it.  I love going to san antonio or Houston or any other town that has rds.  After years of trying to get them to buy the equipment for me, of begging other stations to give me their old stuff, i finally got a station in Albany to give up their old stuff to me.  I also got the equipment to interface with our network from ebay, and after some code changes finally got our system to talk to this vintage equipment. 

So now, if you listen to any of our stations you probably have noticed that your radio receivers have come to life all of a sudden with RDS text.  Typically it’s only the station ID, but it’s also sending PTY Codes, which tell your radio what type of station it is.  So for KTEX, it’s telling your radio it’s a country station and automatically set’s your eq for a country sounding eq.  Also if your receiver supports RadioText, you can push your Info button and get the Artist and Title of what’s playing. 

Yesterday the bosses came up to me asking, "if i’m listening on an analog radio, not an hd, what’s on the display?" so they finally noticed.  And as planed, questions like "why doesn’t it scroll like other markets"?  So i got to pitch, "If we had the new equipment, that stuff supports PS_SCROLL.  Then today i got an email from a guy in corporate basically asking "Can i replace your FMB-10’s with the FMB-80?" 

uh.. gee let me think about that…

as if i didnt’ have enough to do already

i have been bugging CC to get me RDS equipment for our stations ever since i’ve been able to ask. Every time it get’s knocked out of the budget. It’s been a pet project of mine for a while but it wasn’t until recently that i finally made a break through. with shoestrings, duck tape and paperclips i finally got Hotkiss on RDS. RDS is a method where newer receivers in most cars are able to display text information sent from the station on the receiver’s display. It doesn’t support PS_SCROLL where the artist and tile and stuff automatically “scroll” across the display but it works. If your receiver has an INFO button, you can push that and get all the extra data. So far there has been a good response on it. If i can prove to mgt that this is worth while, maybe they will get me decent equipment that does support PS_SCROLL. I was able to horde up two more encoders, give away from bigger markets upgrading to better equipment. I’m going to install these on KBFM and KTEX hopefully Thursday night when we do another shutdown.

I also got Wild’s website changed over to the new template 2.0 format. Now i’m going to work on KTEX and hopefully have that done alot sooner than i was able to get wild’s up. now that i know what i’m doing. In the midst of all that i’m also shooting to get the new church’s website done this week too.

Oh and the finely’s computer still chugging away on my bedroom floor. Almost done there.

back among the living

wow.. what a week, or month. Of course, this is always the busy season for us. Stock show, spring break, Easter programs, traveling. it’s just never really easy.

as spring break approached, venues at SPI were getting ready to do their live broadcast from their locations. We use ISDN phone lines for these broadcast. When a new client has signed on and wants to do an ISDN broadcast, they usually call on me to go to their location before hand and make sure they got their act together. So we get out there and find the demark, sure enough there is an isdn line there, but it’s not going anywhere. great, this means we are going to have to get the line from the phone box outside to the sound booth inside. if it was one building it would be easy, but this was a bunch of outdoor buildings. So we first try and figure out how to run the wire. The booth already had a jack wired up to it but it was dead. We ended up finding the wiring closest, but most the the wiring was dead too. Normaly i could just put my tone generator on the jack, use the probe to hear the tone in the wiring close and vola, i’m done. except i left the tone generator in my car. we were in teh station vehicle. so i’m trying to improvise. ended up taking a XLR cable tester with a test tone on it, wiring it up to the end jack, and used the butt set to find the other end. Finally we got it al going. the wiring that is. The spid numbers were not labeled on the demark. It’s not like a phone that you just plug in and it works. You have to tell your equiptment how to talk to the network with the spid numbers.

it’s usually a 9 digit number with a binariy number at the end. We called the owner and he gave us two “spids” 956-772-xxxx-0101 and 956-772-yyyy-0101. We plug it into our equiptment and get “SPID error” call up ATT and the ISDN dept is closed. we go back the next day and come to find out that this is a wierd line. the spids are a harligen number, but their is a DN number of that 772, port isabel number. never seen that before but ok… we plug in tihe new spids, DIsco, we are up. i dial up the station, it took a long distance call but it worked. ok.. done.

they did the broadcast a few days later and they coudln’t dial them up. so they did the entire broadcast with LD charges. We went back one more time, pluged both the spids and the DN number, dialed the DN and we were cooking.

Then their was the stock show. That one wasn’t quite as bad. another isdn broadcast. but i’ve been doing this long enough that i made it as simple as possible for the jocks. that was pretty uneventfull. as for the stock show itself. i wasn’t impressed. it’s like someone to a show from 10 years ago and just kept replaying it over and over.

also been getting ready for patti’s two easter programs. Eye to Eye and Spetical. Eye to Eye is an outdoor Pasion Play. Speticaly is a serious comedy. Both are really good. So we’ve been getting all that stuff ready. Patti turned the backyard into a large staging area and had everyone over one day putting it all together.

Thursday i got out of work early and took simion with me to get what we needed from the store and to start loading the trailer. Had no idea how much stuff we had.. or could fit in there. We did come up with some really good ideas for when Patti finally decides to make this touring thing a regular part of the schedule.

We got out there and the wind was not behaving very well. And for the first time it was going to be hot. like 100’s hot. Spent that day setting things up.. it really didn’t take us long to do the tech stuff. Patti was having a hard time with her sets though. My stuff is pretty heavy and stayed put… but the props were taking a beating from the wind. At one point i was sitting on the backstage, behind a curtain and a prop from in front of the cutian fell over and landing on me. Ended up leaving a good size bruise.

Saturday we got an early start, pratice went ok. But we had to scale down ALOT to make it work. Didn’t get to use any DMX, half of the walls, none of the curtains.. the actual performance wasn’t bad. We’ve done much better but everyone seamed to enjoy it. The pastor from out there was happy…

Thank you John and Patti for all your enthusiasm and help. You sure are a blessing and are used by our Lord to proclaim His good news to all people. I know we can say with all its word MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

So i guess all in all it turned out ok. We loaded up that night, came home, unloaded and came back to church the next morning. The wind was still bad, so bad that the power kept flickering on and off all through service. I let the guys have the morning off, turned off the cameras and projectors.. and just let it ride. i woke up that morning though with a horrible headache and tummy ache. and it just kept getting worse and worse. if i was going to be able to pull off the program this evening i would need some rest. went home and patti ended up postponing the program. So i slept the rest of the day. woke up feeling much better. must have been the heat.. or exaustion.. or both.

the kids are on spring break this week, so they are bored i’m sure. hannah went to ATF this past weekend and seamed to have a good time.  i’m ready for a vacation now.   friday is our do nothing day.  saturday going back to the ranch for easter.  sunday it’s easter here.

make the madness stop

so i took the easy way.  I voted republician. 

 and i went for early voting.  in this day and age, why would anyone put themselves through all that on the day of?  it’s just unescesary brutatlity if you ask me.  of course it’s probably for the same reason that i like to go mall shoping the night before christmas. 

yesterday had to make a run to all of the transmitters to upgrade their satelite systems.  just another way to be controled by the man if you ask me.  came back the studio and met up with adrian and lupe and drove to the island to setup a club out ther for broadcasting from.  well.. the client ordered the line himself.  first mistake.  we get there and whatever tech installed it didn’t label it right.  Dual channel ISDN uses two SPID numbers.  We have to put those numbers on our equiptment to make it work on the line.  so i open the box.. no numbers.. so i ask the client and he gives me two numbers.  plug them in and get a “SPID error” so call ATT and they say.. everything works fine.  so finaly 5 comes along and att closes..  so we woudl be comming back tommrow.  but on the way home had to stop by the kvns tower in brownsville to upgrade that one.  didnt’ get home until after 10 that night.  today went to the stock show to hook up the trailer for the broadcast from there starting friday. i had already tested the line (with the spids clearly labled) so all i had to do was wire that up tot he trailer.. but the power i asked for two weeks ago wasn’t setup.  so we call the eletrican and he never showed.  fine.. we’ll go back the island and test again we get there.. plug in.. and agian still doesn’t work.  called up a friend at att and he’s like.. they gave you the wrong spids.  put the right ones in and everything worked.  go figure.  went back.. still no power.  went walkign around the grounds.. found the guy myself and he said he’d have it up by tommrow.  i’ll belive it when i see it. 

on top of all of that..  our new server will be here tommrow.. i need to install that and get it online so they can begin setting it up.  also we are doing a major software upgrade on our music system.  and then starting next week they will be here to finish the transition.   oh and mr meek wants to do an overngiht tommrow night. 

enough already…. 

voting, jonas, and drama

friday was the 29th, and after going through some email realized it was the deadline for upgrading all of our satellite remote control equipment.  it’s mostly some upgrades to give corporate more ability to take over all of our transmitters.  so i went out to the mission transmitter first to begin the upgrade.. the early versions of the satellite equipment required a rescue kit to make the upgrade work.. and what do you know.. ours all need the rescue kit, which requires a serial cable with a null adapter on it.. all of which are at the station.  needless to say.. made for a long day.  i got to have lunch with patti- any excuse i can come up with get to be with my wife.  later that day went to the law office and got a lot of stuff finished there.  that was actually quite a bit of work but the type that you actually feel accomplished once you can get it all figured out.  Saturday was errand day.  patti and i woke up early for angelfood.  after that went to the thrift stores looking for props for the upcoming Easter programs.  after that hannah had a birthday party, and after that was the jonas brothers concert.  patti had the “privilege” of taking hannah and two friends out there.  i got to stay home.  megan was at the beach, tori was racing so i had the whole house to myself.  a few years ago i would have loved to get to spend the entire evening by myself.. just me and my cat.  after about the first 30 minutes i was already lonely and ready to be back with everyone.  i thought i would spend the evening working on a problem i was having at the law office… well that took all of 10 minutes.

by the time everyone came home, the kids came in singing “SOS” in the way teenage girls can only do.  3 was pretty shrill.. i couldn’t imagine how 6000 of them sounded like. 

today patti and i are going to the ranch to start preparing the people out there for the easter program we are putting on in a few weeks.  it’s all comming together.  hopefully things will settle down once all this drama is over.

ok there is seriously something wrong here

so i finally get the replacement drive from HP.  after dhl decided to bump my overnight shipment.  not nice.  so i get it.. stick it in the slot where the old one was.. and after the RAID rebuilds for about 4 hours, i get this email…

Event Description: Rebuild complete:

yeah! now i can get to backing up the first server that died.. but wait

Event Description: Logical device is degraded: controller 1, logical device 2 (“Secondary”) Event Type: Warning Event

wha? i just installed a new drive. what could be wrong?

Event Description: Failed drive: controller 1, port 2 Event Type: Error Event

ok now i’m ready to use 4 letter words.  i just installed a new drive in port 3, now the drive in port 2 is in a failed state!  This thing is just waiting until i replace all the drives in it.  Why not tell me that at first.  “This computer has been running to long without any expense.  You need to buy 4 new drives replace them all, and then i’ll be happy, but not until i make you do each one – one at a time.  that way i get the most pain and suffering out of you”