Category Archives: Life The Universe and Everything

Pretending To Be A TV Mogul (or: Why I Built An Automated Broadcasting Rig)

Hey, remember that iMac I was working on last week? The one that I was putting Mojave on just ’cause? Well, I told you I had a project in mind for it!

Also: For the record, it’s an early ’09 model, not a ’10.

Anyway, I’ve always been a bit of a broadcasting nut. I always loved/hated the politics, the business, and the technology of commercial broadcasting.

In fact, in high school/early college, I wanted to make a career of it.

Even before then, I was recording “radio shows” and “TV programs” with friends. Much of it was parody–inspired by Dan Aykroyd sketches, Tiny Toon Adventures, that “Stay Tuned” movie, and Wayne’s World–but I played it seriously (which was part of the fun)

More than the programming, though, I was fascinated by the technological infrastructure. How radio equipment works, how signals are converted, but especially how that can be exploited.

When I was 14, the school band went on a trip to Panama City. My best friend brought a small FM transmitter like you would plug into a CD player to listen over a car stereo, and I hatched a BRILLIANT scheme.

After a covert mission to Radio Shack during a lunch break, we had exactly what we needed to build that elusive dream of all Gen X kids (and some of us Xennials): an unlicensed radio station.

It didn’t take long for us to get into a LOT of trouble with the adults 🤣

Anyway, I’ve always romanticized broadcasting. Fortunately, after a wave of consolidation and format changes in the late 90s (as well as the unfiltered reality related to me by industry vets), I saw where the industry was going and got out before I grew to hate it. That’s why I gravitated toward YouTube early on, but it’s very noisy and just doesn’t feel the same. YouTube is more like an old VHS exchange while running a production, aesthetically, feels different?

So, this bit of personal history brings me back around to the project at hand. I know that with today’s technology, literally anyone can broadcast. There’s really no gatekeeping anymore (which is a good thing), but I still love the idea of “curated” content. I love the idea of having a “channel” that plays constantly changing content, and I love the idea of being able to produce that content without necessarily “going live”. It’s not just making videos, but creating an experience beyond the video.

So I wanted to build a little homage to analog broadcasting. I wanted to capture some of the essence and the nostalgia of the old ways without getting caught up in the whole “content mill” mindset. Something that people could drop in, have something unique served to them, then stay and chat or just move on without commitment. Something that could run itself, automatically generating that curated content without my input.

So to start off, I built what might be the epitome of mid-90s automated analog TV:

The Weather Channel

It’s simple, but it’s proof-of-concept for a little side art project that I’ve been kicking around in my head for a long time. Eventually, I want to add more concepts like simulated EBS, station ID, sign-offs, and other goodies.

And, of course, programming.

The biggest thing is that I want it to be fun. I want there to be interesting little surprises for people who watch, and–really–I want people to take part in it in some way.

There’s no other goal here than to have fun, so expect puzzles, Easter eggs, and plenty of irreverence. Eventually, I want to position this concept kinda like a zine-meets-public-access where people can submit content and share without the disparate nature of something like YouTube. I’d love to see this become a sort of discovery engine for other like-minded artists where real humans are finding oddities and curiosities and presenting them. I’d even love to see communities spin off and thrive on their own.

For now, though, just enjoy the wallpaper.

twitch.tv/airbornesurfer

Thrifting: Of Fairy Lights and Guitar Strings

I needed to pick up some fairy lights for a project, so off to the thrift shop!

Watch the complete Project Rankin
Music by Anders Enger Jensen

10 Years Since The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

In 2010, I was in the midst of reinventing myself–or, at least, reasserting myself. This was still in the depths of the Dark Times, when life had fallen apart for me like it had for so many during the Great Recession that began just a few years earlier. I took the time to reacquaint myself with the sorts of things that I loved doing: art, drama, music; and I remembered the joy that came from creating new things and new interpretations of things. Sometimes, even in the darkest moments of your life, you can find a spark of joy that guides you through.

For me, some of that spark came from my time with the drama kids at Middle Georgia. On a lark, I auditioned for the fall musical production (I was never much one for auditions, but a friend convinced me that it would be fairly painless). I hadn’t performed in much of any capacity since my days at Kennesaw, studying under Prodan Dimov and playing improv games with some of the other “more outgoing” SWORDsters, but I was really digging Neil Patrick Harris’s “Doctor Horrible” in the eponymous Sing-Along Blog so I walked in, delivered his opening monologue, sight-sang a few bars (a skill I never really kept up with since high school), thanked them for the opportunity and left.

In my experience, performing arts departments tend to be like little nepotistic cliques: they’ll self-select from auditionees who are already established in the department. They do not let in outsiders. You could imagine my surprise, then, when the parts were posted and I was cast as Mitch Mahoney, a hard-assed probationer performing community service who plays a double role as the conniving half of one of the contestant’s Odd Couple-styled homosexual parents. Talk about range!

While I’m not going to let this article become a synopsis of the show (you can look it up just as well, but I highly recommend seeing it if you can) I just wanted to take a moment and recognize the hardworking men and women who helped put that show together, and to thank them for helping pull me out of a rather difficult time in my life. They helped me get back on track, as it were, and figure out where I wanted to be and what I wanted to do with my life. There’s nothing quite like the joy of creation or the thrill of putting on a different identity and getting to explore it for a little while.

Thanks, y’all. I hope you’re all out there being amazing.

Life is random and unfair. Life is pandemonium.

How To Replace A Key Fob Battery

Today’s automobiles are more like computers with wheels. As such, modern conveniences like keyless entry and ignition are the new standard, but eventually, your key fob’s battery will die–necessitating a replacement. Dealerships often charge over-inflated prices to replace a single CR2025 battery in under five minutes. In this video, learn how to replace a key fob battery and save a lot of time and headache!

PARTS/TOOLS:

CR2025 Battery

Warranty Voiding Tool Kit

It’s a Sorrowful Day in the Neighborhood (AJC)

Remember when the days were long
And rolled beneath a deep blue sky
Didn’t have a care in the world
With mommy and daddy standing by…
This is the end of the innocence.
–Don Henley
In the 16 years following the passing of Fred Rogers, we have seen our country fall into the pits of fear and loathing, the world has gotten louder and louder, and mass communication seems–at best–a weapon. Every year I mourn the passing of a quiet hero. A hero who spoke softly and slowly, but could best even the most ardent critics with his grace and his authentic love for humanity. A hero to at least three generations of children. A hero who maintained his humility and taught a nation how to care.
There may never be another Mr. Rogers, but we could sure use one right about now. Until then, I’ll keep his memory alive and do my best to live according to his example.

The following clippings are from the February 28 edition of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, posted here for archival purposes. If anyone at The Paper wants me to take it down, that’s fair–but y’all gotta put it back up on your site.

Download the clipping in PDF format

My “Get To Know You” Interview With Ben Heck

As part of his exeunt from The Ben Heck Show and the transition to element14 Presents, Ben did a series of interviews with each of the new hosts. In this quick chat, we talk about retro tech, circuit bending, and why Dr. Strangelove is the best film ever made.

Big Clive on Fallibility

People make mistakes. It’s just ours tend to be louder and involve smoke and flames.

“Big” Clive Mitchell

element14 Presents The Ben Heck Show. . . and beyond!

I’ve been invited to create content for element14, the community marketing arm of electronics distributor Newark as their long-time “face”, Mr. Benjamin Heckendorn is retiring from his eponymous electronics hacking show. I, along with several other very talented creators, will be producing content under the element14 Presents banner on occasion starting next month!

The best comment on the video, by far.

In addition to my contributions to the new show, I will be producing some behind-the-scenes and other derivative content in addition to my regular production content here and on YouTube, so expect to see more things posted more regularly on all my outlets!

Mr. Rogers on silence

I don’t think we give that gift anymore (the gift of silence). I’m very concerned that our society is much more interested in information than wonder. In noise, rather than silence…how do we encourage reflection? Oh my, this is a noisy world.

Fred Rogers

Chnlsurf

300 channels and nothing on.