Before there was Podcasting

Michael Geoghegan and I had brunch with Scott Bourne before today’s PodCamp West. We got into one of those, “I can remember when…” sessions and found ourselves discussing the licenses that the FCC used to issue to broadcasters and engineers. Curious, I came home and looked in the file cabinet, and sure enough — I found some of my old licenses.

This Third-Class license was required for anyone who operated a broadcast console. The FCC wanted to make sure you knew some of the basic regulations such as announcing the call letters and location of the station on the hour and half-hour. I see that I was 17 years old — a college freshman working at KALX (U.C. Berkeley).

A year or so later I passed the test for the big one: the FCC’s First Class Radiotelephone Certificate, which is required to operate transmitters, etc. Few people had this ticket, so I was able to get some interesting jobs. A few years after that I renewed that “First Phone” license. This one doesn’t have the Broadcast Endorsement since I was no longer turning transmitter knobs. Note that I had moved to New York, grown an inch (since lost) and gained 20 pounds. Ah, to be only 165 again! Was I ever that skinny?

And yes, they’re to scale. For some reason the First- and Second-Class licenses were larger.

Desktop Heaven

How do you get into trouble when your spouse is out of town for a week? Me? I spend money.

I’ve been doing almost everything (except audio stuff) on a Mac PowerBook with an external 23″ monitor for about 18 months. I love the PowerBook, but it’s a bit slow for all-day/everyday use, and the disk space is limited. And I still needed a number-crunching Windows XP box for serious audio. So I did it — I bought a new MacPro (tower) with two dual-core CPUs, 2GB RAM, etc. But then I splurged and went for the gorgeous Apple 30″ monitor, too.

To move my entire life to the new box, I did the FireWire-transfer thing with which all multi-Mac users are familiar. In less than hour  everything was running on the new machine, despite the fact that it has CPUs with an entirely different instruction set. Well, almost everything. The Microsoft Office apps were unhappy as were a few miscellaneous other programs. Overall, however, it’s an impressive experience, particular when you compare it to the problems running my Windows machine, which I finally gave up on and relegated it to testing Vista.

Other highlights:

  • Parallels is very cool. I’m running Vista RC1 in a window on the 30″ display.
  • The case is gorgeous. RAM and disk upgrades couldn’t be easier. It’s nearly silent, too. Even firmware upgrades are easy.
  • The 30″ monitor puts out a lot of heat. The power supply is 150 watts.
  • With Tim McNerney’s help, I’ve got a pretty nice backup solution. I bought a 500GB SATA drive at CompUSA for $235, and partitioned it into two halves, A and B. I have Carbon Copy Cloner scheduled to copy the primary 250GB disk to A three days a week and to B on the alternate days. That way I have a day-old and a two-day-old backup of everything at all times. At least until I can get Time Machine.
  • The standard video card supports a second display in addition to the 30″. That’s right: I’ve got the little old 23″ display as my second monitor, which is a great place to park all those background apps like Skype, iChat, iCal, iTunes, etc.

My wife comes home Friday night. I’m can hear her reaction now. 🙂