From Charge, to Paper, to Charge

By Jim Sorensen

I like this new delivery method for the Newsletter if only because it means that I don’t have to worry so much about the length of the article since an “electrical” newsletter doesn’t fit into the Newtonian universe like the printed one does.

In the Newtonian universe things that are “real” have mass and occupy space with the result that they have specific dimensions which can be determined by observation or measurement. They can also be derived by calculations so things can exist both theoretically and empirically at the same time.

Fascinating, that! In the world of “electrical transmission” things exist only as an opinion of the computer and that’s pretty neat.

The other neat thing is that photos and graphs and other graphical stuff only needs to talk to your “computing machine” and not to something else in the middle that will convert it into a real picture which can present problems. I’m not sure I can prove that if only because my picture looks much the same either way you do it. I actually preferred the cow.

Judging from the comments and Pat’s replies, the good old Newsletter is undergoing some growing pains and that’s to be expected.

Fortunately it’s under the command of someone who understands these things and can fix it. In thinking back on computers and computing and the changes in the last 20 years I shiver at what has been and tremble like Reno at what we might see coming.

I remember 1984 when one of our stations suddenly found themselves possessed of a Radio Shack TRS-80 computer. If you put something you called DOS in it you could then run software from a new company called Arbitron which claimed that it could tell you how you rated in terms of audience and…more intriguing…that it could almost predict where you’d be if you did things certain ways. Even though it was usually wrong it was still a good tool and the speed with which it did its work was astonishing. What you’d sit at your desk and pound out in about an hour…and only a few iterations at that…you could have ten times more of in just a “few minutes” of computation time. It was a true miracle of science.

At the Florida operations we naturally went with the local boys and bought IBM. The XT and the AT were in use and at various times we had as many as three computers in the place. Keep in mind this was a major market radio station with about 100 employees.

I was always amused by the fact that our word processing was done not on the computers but on machines called word processors operated by people known as word processors. I recall that this was one of the reasons I stopped talking to IT people. Hmm.

When we upgraded to a newer version of the Arbitron software we faced the challenge of not having enough drive space for the program and what it needed to store. Our 1 MBy hard disk drive didn’t cut it so I ponied up about $500 and bought a 10 MBy hard disk, by-passing the 5 MBy “middle one” in favor of believing in future growth. I remember standing at the bar at the Mai-Kai restaurant talking to the sales manager of the station and doing some mutual back-slapping and laughing over what a couple of boobs we were getting talked into buying that HUGE drive which, obviously, no normal person or business would ever fill!

We didn’t know what the Internet was…mostly because while Telnet was in operation, Al Gore hadn’t gotten around to inventing the Internet yet. Geez, Al, how do you expect us to believe you on the Global Warming thing when it took you so long to get us to the Internet? Where’s your cred, man?

Now I work my one-man shop using four laptops through one of two wireless networks at home tied into two desk-top systems that do the data collection and mapping that’s part of my practice. I think my wrist watch has more memory than that first XT had. I know it has vastly more than the “Trash 80” had.

So now our thoughts and writing and other weighty probosculations exist only as long as they keep charge in a microchip and you know what? That’s OK with me.

This method makes it easier to get the newsletter, easier to store it, and easier to read it when you want to. If you need it to be printed, print it! As long is it’ll let you!

It also opens doors that we never had in that area of management called “assigning blame.”

If I fail to send Pat an article on time I can always say that I sent it but it got “lost in the Internet” and it’s just barely possible that he might believe me.

I can misspell words and blame it on Vista. Or that when I got my “sent” copy back it didn’t have any letters on it, just those box things.

I can screw up a picture or a graphic and say that’s it’s a “format inconsistency” ‘cause my “peg” wasn’t a J it was a T or a “gif” or something and perhaps get away with it.

Anyway, welcome to the Twenty-First Century to the Syn-Aud-Con Newsletter and all who sail in her! Sorensen