Month: November 2015

Indian Snacks

So I think I may have mentioned it but my boss where I work is from India. And he’s figured out I like spicy foods. Even my office mate has tested things like Kick Ass Hot Sauce and Mrs. Renfro’s Ghost Pepper Salsa on me. Love it all.

So anyhow the boss turned me on to this thing called Bakarwadi the English translation of which is Crispy Tasty Spring Roll. There’s these little pastry wrapped and spicy snacks.

We tried ours with Virgil’s Micro-Brewed Root Beer – not bad. The boss tells me it goes good with coffee or tea too. I’ll have to try that next. It puts me in mind of a pepper biscuit. That’s an Italian thing – I’ll likely bring my boss a bag of that and see how he likes it.

The flavor if you will – consider an nice sweet dough wrapped around something that doesn’t hit you right away but then leaves you with a pleasant tingling in the mouth. Fantastic.

Finaly a dock for my MacBook Pro

It’s a dock made by a company called Henge as in the Henge Dock.

You plop your MacBook Pro into it and tap the dock button. It’s motorized and you hear it inserting the plugs into the MacBook Pro power, Thunderbolt and USB and HDMI ports. It’s pretty awesome. Then out the back you get six USB ports, SD Card slot, Ethernet, two audio jacks, HDMI, and two Thunderbolt ports. It’s awesome.

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And yeah, you can tell I run Skype, Chrome, Dropbox, Sublime, Google Drive, FileZilla, settings, Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Shell, Slack on my machine. And fear not – I’m posting this on my personal Windows 10 box. It’s just that all we developers and devops guys get MacBooks where I work.

Providence is getting it’s first Low Power FM station

In case you were wondering – remember LPFM or Low Power FM radio? It’s been going on the better part of two decades but construction licenses are being issued.

The station will be on 101.1MHz and be known as WPVD or WPVD-LP as the FCC knows it currently. It’ll have a power output of 100 watts Effective Radiated Power and be on the WSBE tower in Providence with studios at AS220.

The three groups that came together to form this station were Brown Student and Community Radio, AS220 and Providence Community Radio or ProComRad. BSR&C gets 50% of the programming, ProComRad gets 10 hours and AS220 get what remains.

I was at the meeting last night and I can say I had thought I might want to do a show I decided against it. Why? Because as soon as someone mentioned a board from the community to determine programming I knew that is a ship that will never sail for me. They can even do PSA’s. If you’re not familiar a PSA is a Public Service Announcement.

I’ll lend my technical assistance – after all yours truly does have a commercial radio-telephone license. Plus my amateur radio license.

They had said they’ll need about $25,000 to $35,000 for startup/construction. i did a little searching – the FM Exciter will likely cost about $2,000. The antenna can’t be much more than $1,000 and feed line maybe another $1,000. So for the transmitter side you’re looking at $4,000 then there’s the cost to rent the cherry picker to put the antenna up, and any hardware necessary.

Then there is the link from the studio at AS220 to the transmitter. They MIGHT just have line of sight so a microwave link is doable. That alone is about $8,000. Otherwise they’ll have to provide the operating expense of a pair from Verizon or maybe do it over IP. But that means a net connection at both ends.

Then setting up the studio – you need a mixing board, microphones, preamps, maybe a turntable, cd player, and a port to plug PC audio in. I’m thinking a couple thousand dollars there. So about $15K could get it on the air. Then you’d have about $20K for operating expenses.

I think that getting on the air is entirely possible, if the community doesn’t strangle it first. And I might have to buy a radio but oh wait – My Yaesu VX-7R has general coverage from HF on up through UHF. And the broadcast radio band falls right in there.

An interesting Thursday

So where I work we recently got a new CEO. He’s a Paisan like me and my office mate. I met him the day after he started and during our conversation he let slip that he was an Apple Macintosh fan. So we’d given him a Lenovo PC.

While I was talking to my boss I mentioned this and said we really should give him one of the two we had. It was approved and I delivered it to him today. He was pleased.

In other job news apparently the new CEO wants to take the Development and I.T. group out for lunch next week. I had to convince my office mate to go. The office mate hates to go into Boston by car. But he’ll make the supreme sacrifice to do so next Wednesday.

Then this evening the MBTA Red Line which normally takes 16 minutes from North Quincy Station to South Station – it took 25 minutes tonight. And the commuter at 5:00PM took an hour and a half to get to Providence. The 10 to 15 minutes stuck just between Attleboro and South Attleboro didn’t help.

But I got home – and then immediately had to head out to a meeting for Providence’s first Low Power FM station. They’ve been granted a construction permit and the group is made up of AS220, Brown Student and Community Radio, and Providence Community Radio or ProComRad. It’ll be on 101.1FM and has the call sign WPVD. The transmitter and antenna will be located on RI PBS’s tower on the south side of the city.

I’ve decided I want to be more on the technical side of this. After all I do have both my amateur radio and commercial radio licenses. And I do have experience on broadcast radio.

Thing is they need to fundraise $35,000 in order to pay for engineering studies, FM Exciters, Studio equipment, etc. I think it’s a very doable figure to try to fundraise. The members that were there if they put up $100 each and if all 80-100 people there chipped it in you’d have the first $8,000 or so. But the official fundraising starts in January of 2016. I know I’ll put a couple hundred into it.

Disband RIPTA and replace it with the MBTA in Rhode Island

So today of course is Veterans Day. But my beef isn’t with the holiday. It’s with the differences between the MBTA and RIPTA.

As you might well know I take the MBTA commuter rail into Boston every day. I’ve been working in Boston and Vicinity for some time now and the train is the ONLY way to get there and keep ones sanity. So I shell out $330 a month for the pass on the MBTA commuter rail.

Ok all fine and good. But with today’s holiday the MBTA ran a regular weekday schedule. RIPTA on the other hand is running on a Sunday/Holiday schedule.

If RIPTA wants to be taken seriously they need to run regular service on the soft holidays. That’s one of the things I want ot of RIPTA – be there for your customers.

And then there’s the thing where RIPTA now wants to do away with several fare products – and it’s a money grab on their part. Additionally they want to hike the price of a monthly pass on RIPTA to $70 from $62. Meanwhile as I said I spend $330 a month on a commuter rail pass that also gets me access to MBTA bus service, subway service, etc.

So here’s a proposal – since RIPTA has proven beyond any doubt that they’re not fit to run a transit system I beseech my legislators to study whether it might be worth dismantling RIPTA and inviting the MBTA to provide service throughout Rhode Island. Then I’d have a pass that would work on public transit through MA and RI. That would be something wouldn’t it?

Day two of RI Comic Con

Ok – this was better. Was there with a couple of people I know so the running commentary banter was better.

It’s definitely got two elements to it.

  1. There’s the retail or flea market like environment. The entire floor of the Dunkin’ Donuts center was all retail and to my surprise has stepped into the 21st century – cash was accepted but cards too. Interesting. Ended up getting a nice leather bound diary type book for Keyron – only $65 (When I know total materials and time were perhaps $15 or so it’s best to keep the peace sometimes.
  2. Then there’s the people watching. My favorite the male Princess Lea slave. I have a distinct feeling it was either done to be witty or it was a  sister. But there were also the requisite Imperial Troopers, Darth Vader, Sith lords, Obi Wan’s as they might look 30 or so years later, etc. Then there was the pink nightmare. Everywhere we went from the Dunkin Donut’s Center (Damnation that name irks me.) to the RI Convention Center to the Providence Place mall we saw this pink nightmare. Then it hit me – Providence is pretty much it other than New Hampshire and New York for northeast people.

Didn’t hit any of the forums because my $!@()*$@#%*& phone was having trouble with RI Comic Con’s web site – it’s not mobile optimized. I should hook them up to the company I work at, they can do mobile optimized web services.

Now would I do it again – because I don’t intend to go back tomorrow. The answer to that is maybe. If I were to do it again I’d get a one day ticket and just go on the saturday. A three day is a waste – as Friday they’re still getting set up – Saturday is the day to go.

Around 3:00PM we left the Convention Center and went into the Providence Place mall and had a late lunch at Nordstrom Cafe. Then tried to get home – the traffic was horrendous. Why? Because Comic Con, Veterans Day celebrations at the RI State House, A Waterfire event this evening and it was hideous.

As I said in the past, if you’re gonna hit all three your best bet is to leave the car parked and hoof it. We”ll probably walk to Waterfire later on. Always fun to see the last full lighting of the year.