Decoding VOA Radiogram

Image from VOA Radiogram broadcast

For the past few months, I have been experimenting with decoding VOA Radiogram. VOA Radiogram is a weekly half-hour show broadcast over shortwave on the Voice of America. Conceived by Kim Andrew Elliott in 2013, VOA Radiogram transmits text and images digitally for reception using only ordinary shortwave radios and computers.

Each VOA Radiogram program is broadcast four times every weekend. All four broadcasts originate at the Edward R. Murrow transmitter site in North Carolina.

A typical VOA Radiogram program consists of four text news items from the Voice of America and four images. For example, the February 21–22 show (program 99) contained these four stories:

Mavericks, Apple Mail, and Gmail

I’ve been running OS X 10.9 Mavericks for a few days now. Overall, I’m impressed by the speed improvements and how trouble-free the upgrade was. There aren’t any major new features (other than a few programs added from iOS), but it’s a solid update and probably representative of the yearly update cycle Apple is planning to use from now on.

(I don’t understand why so many people insist that 10.9 isn’t a new version but an upgrade. Although it’s true that many people like me will install it as an upgrade, that is a meaningless distinction. Almost every operating system has offered upgrades for existing users. By that reasoning, only Mac OS X 10.0 back in 2001 was a true version and everything since has been an upgrade.)

How I Logged Back into WordPress After Locking Myself Out

One problem with doing any task over and over is that your attention tends to wander a bit after the process becomes too familiar.

I noticed this the other day when I was setting up a new WordPress installation. This is something I have done many times before. But this time I somehow got turned around when setting up the options. I managed to change the WordPress URL to point to an invalid URL. (I had intended to change the “Front page displays” option, but got confused. One problem with the WordPress administration screens is that its options do all tend to look similar.)

This was a big problem because WordPress was now convinced that it was actually installed at that invalid URL. Not only did the site no longer display, but WordPress kept trying to route me to that invalid URL whenever I tried to log in. If I couldn’t log in, how could I change the URL back to the correct value?

Will Televisions of the Future Be Smart or Dumb?

Here’s an unexpected news item: LG Electronics has purchased webOS from Hewlett Packard. webOS was a potentially revolutionary operating system originally developed by Palm but largely ignored by Hewlett Packard even after spending $1.2 billion to acquire it. As part of the deal, LG is also taking over Open webOS, the open-source version of webOS that Hewlett Packard released but also mostly ignored.

The other surprise is that LG is not planning to use webOS on smartphones (of which it has several), but on its televisions that use “next generation Smart TV technology.” Skott Ahn, the LG president, stated in a press release:

Quiet Computing

Back at the dawn of the personal computer revolution, the most popular personal computers were all quiet. The TRS‑80, the Apple II, and the Commodore PET didn’t have fans, cooling themselves with convection only. I grew to like quiet computing, with only the sound of the keyboard and the floppy drive to interrupt my thoughts.

But after several years, the quiet computing environment became a thing of the past. Newer computer models, especially after the introduction of the IBM PC, came equipped with fans, sometimes multiple fans. These loud fans changed computing from a silent experience to a very noisy one. Computers still had power lights to indicate they were powered on, but, as one reviewer put it, that would only be necessary in a war zone.