Tuesday, July 31, 2007

What goes around ...

Monday, July 30th, agents from the FBI and IRS raided the home of the Honorable Senator from Alaska Ted "the Internet is a series of tubes" Stevens.

Seems the feds have questions about the renovation project on Stevens' home that was overseen by a gent by the name of Bill Allen who was recently convicted of bribing Alaska state officials. Allen is the founder of VECO Corp, an oil field services company.

Wow, talk about a terrible coincidence: being the Senator of a State where people are trying to get drilling rights in a wildlife refuge, and having a friend who also happens to own a oil services company overlook a huge renovation on your home. What are the odds????

I'm assuming the appearance of a conflict of interest is just my own personal prejudice.

If anyone knows of a viable candidate planning to Challenge Mr. Stevens please let me know so I can make a campaign donation.

Original Audio of Stevens' infamous speech (publicknowledge.org)
DJ Ted Stevens Techno Remix: "A Series of Tubes" (youtube)

#posted by Rob Roschewsk @ 9:05 PM

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Linux clock radio

I've been wanting to wake to the sound of something more pleasant than my beeping cellphone. I've used the alarm clock feature of my cellphone to get me up in the morning for some time now. I'm not sure why ... think its because the clock radio in our room broke some time ago ... radio still works but the switch on the alarm position is flaky. But I digress ... anyway I thought it would be nice to get up to the sound of the BBC instead. Also unrelated, I picked up a Griffin RocketFM USB FM transmitter .... mostly because I saw it on another blog and thought it would be cool to have ... with no key purpose in mind at the time. It was designed for Windows/MAC but it will work with Linux as an ALSA USB sound device. Only issue is I haven't figured out a way to control the frequency selection under Linux. The device defaults to 88.1 Mhz which is fine for me right now.

I needed to physically modify the device a tad .... the internal 3" copper wire antenna downright sucks. I calculated what A half wave wire would be on 88 MHz ( ~ 63"), divided it in two, put one on the circuit board where the antenna connects and the other on a ground connection. Had to drill a few holes in the case for the wires to come out. Instant FM dipole. Now from the basement location of my Linux box I can receive the signal full quieting all around the house. Since I doubt I'm going beyond the bounds of my property I'm likely still within FCC PART 15 compliance.

Next I needed to tinker with ALSA a bit ... I created a new definition in my .asoundrc file for the RocketFM which showed up as card 1:

pcm.RADIO {
type hw
card 1

Then by using the -ao option I can direct mplayer to use that device rather than the default sound card.

mplayer also has a -slave option which means: listen on stdin for commands. I then create a FIFO and cat that FIFO to stdin on my invocation of mplayer. Now if I want to command that specific invocation of mplayer all I need to do is "echo" the command into the FIFO.

Now for the clock .... well that's a no brainer ..... I just use "at".

This all gets wrapped up into one neat script I call, oddly enough, "wakeup":

at 8:59 << EOF
cat /tmp/mplayer-fifo | /usr/local/bin/mplayer -quiet -slave -ao alsa:device=RADIO \
at 10:00 << EOF
echo "quit" > /tmp/mplayer-fifo

(times are in UTC)

I leave the radio on .. again ... now the Rocket FM puts out a full quieting carrier so no unnecessary noise. At 08:59 the process kicks off and the stream is up in running in time to here the "beep" on the hour and the following news. (No Mike ... considering the delay in the stream I doubt the beep meets your standards for accuracy ;-) )

I have a similar script that allows me to drift off to the sound of WNYC-HD for 30 minutes when I go to sleep. I just invoke mplayer immediately into the background and then set up the turn off at "now + 30 minutes"

#posted by Rob Roschewsk @ 10:54 AM


I bought the same FM Transmitter and I would like to duplicate what you did with the antenna. Would you mind either posting a picture of the modifications or sending it to me? Once I do that my next challenge would be to follow your steps and try to get it working on Linux. Thanks in advance,


# posted by Blogger Payero @ 9:36 AM 


Sure .. will do ... I fully intended to do that but life got in the way :) Stay tuned.

# posted by Blogger Rob Roschewsk @ 1:25 PM 

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Fear mongering alive and well

Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff stated yesterday he has a "gut feeling that we are in a period of increased vulnerability"

Things must be slow in the Department of Homeland Security these days ... or there's the possibility we need some distraction from the Scooter Libby or Alberto
Gonzales issues.

It's also hurricane season ..... does he have any gut feelings about another major storm that's going to wreak havoc on some coastal town???

I guess wind and rain isn't as sexy as buildings blowing up.

#posted by Rob Roschewsk @ 10:41 AM


I'd stay away from his gut feelings; it just might be intestinal rumblings ;-)

# posted by Blogger Mike @ 2:54 PM 

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Happy Birthday Telstar!!

Today is Telstar I's 45th Anniversary! Launched July 10th 1962 aboard a NASA Delta rocket it was also the first privately funded space launch.

This first communications satellite was nothing like what we're accustomed to today. First off unlike most current communications satellites in geosynchronous orbit, Telstar was in a highly elliptical or Molniya orbit type orbit. Since it was not stationary in the sky passes needed to be calculated and tracked. A typical transatlantic window was only 20 minutes.

Although Telstar is still in orbit today it failed less than 6 months after it's launch due to intense radiation bombardment from high altitude nuclear testing.

(props to BoingBoing and Telstar Logistics )

#posted by Rob Roschewsk @ 8:35 PM

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy Independence Day

Well this about sums up my feelings:

Keith Olbermann's Amazing and Eloquent Call for Bush and Cheney to Resign

#posted by Rob Roschewsk @ 11:45 AM

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Still thinking small .....

Great minds think alike:

#posted by Rob Roschewsk @ 11:21 AM

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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Poland and Romania are the new India

According to the Wall Street Journal Some in Silicon Valley begin to sour on India

It appears programmers are starting to demand too much money and the costs of doing business overseas are starting to take it's toll wiping out any remaining savings. Tech companies that opened offices in Bangalore a few years ago are now offering a few of their key workers jobs in the U.S. and then shutting down the office.

Companies are now looking to Eastern Europe as the next source of cheap Tech labor.

#posted by Rob Roschewsk @ 12:36 PM

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Monday, July 02, 2007

Well, they don't call him "Scooter" for nuthin'

While I have nothing to say on the topic I feel I would be remiss if I didn't say something about President G. W. Bush commuting Scooter Libby's 2 1/2 year jail sentence.

I guess I could say I'm not surprised.

I'm numb to the whole thing ... this is just another incident thrown on to the heap of misdeeds of this administration ... and no one will care.

What will it take to get people marching in the streets with pitch forks and torches ??? No I'm serious .. I want to know the answer to this!!!! A war sold on lies, a blatantly corrupt executive administration that believes .. not just thinks ... but whole heartily believes it is above the law, vanishing freedoms, warrant-less surveillance???? What!!! What!!! What will it take???? I can't imagine.

#posted by Rob Roschewsk @ 9:02 PM


Apparently, only a small minority are immune to whatever they're using to create the national apathy.

Don't worry; they'll up your dose soon, and you'll be back happily watching the latest Paris Hilton story on the "news".

I found this story particularly disturbing.

# posted by Blogger Mace @ 1:59 PM 

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