Back of the Book — April 27, 2013

Oh, we are on the cusp of the Middle Third here. And this will be the last live radio program on WBAI for the next 48 hours. We plan to talk about the below topics, and their implications, on this program. We are going to do a review of some software you can download for free and we'll also review a book on that goes into great detail on how to use that free software for all sorts of graphics chores, the book is not free. Be sure to check back for updates.

Did you know that I've got a brief synopsis of some of the WBAI LSB meetings? Well, I do, and I've recently updated some of that.

I have also just posted a whole lot of the minutes of the Pacifica National Finance Committee. I'm a member of that committee because I'm the WBAI LSB Treasurer.

The next regular WBAI LSB meeting is scheduled to happen on Wednesday, May 8, 2013, at 7:00 PM at Alwan-for-the-arts, 16 Beaver Street, 4th floor, in downtown Manhattan.

The WBAI LSB met on Wednesday, April 10, 2013, at Alwan-for-the-arts, 16 Beaver Street, 4th floor, in downtown Manhattan.

I got to give a Treasurer's Report for the second meeting in a row. I had posted a written Treasurer's Report the night before because the LSB had passed a motion at the previous meeting saying that I had to post one before every meeting. And I got interrupted while I delivered it. After I delivered it one faction operative was asking for numbers. Jeez, I'd just read the numbers, and she then said that she wished it were in writing. She obviously hadn't read the report as posted, and she hadn't been listening well enough to hear me read the report aloud a minute earlier. So I read the numbers again.

The big thing that happened was that the faction cheated in this meeting. They had made a motion and time was running out and one faction operative, who's been banned from the radio station for, among other things, multiple instances of assault and battery on people, moved to extend the agenda item till the last five people got to speak. Well, the non-faction members like to bend over backwards to accommodate others, so that got passed. When the time came for all of that to be done that faction operative claimed that she'd meant that the meeting would continue indefinitely. What a liar she is! Yeah, she lies a lot. The Chair rightly ruled that the meeting was over unless the LSB passed a motion to extend again. Well, to extend the time for the meeting requires a two thirds vote, and the faction didn't have enough people there to pass that, even though some non-faction members had left, thinking that the meeting was about to end in another couple of minutes. But the faction operative appealed the ruling of the Chair and overturning the ruling only takes a majority. And they did have a majority, with people having left. The faction then spent about another hour and a half passing everything they could think of. They call their little political party the “Justice & Unity Campaign,” but it's the most divisive and unjust bunch I've seen.

At a previous meeting the WBAI LSB voted to hold its meetings on the second Wednesday of every month and/or the last Thursday of that month, subject to change by the LSB, which gives us the following schedule:

All of these meetings are set to begin at 7:00 PM.

WBAI has a program schedule up on its newly revamped Web site. The site has gotten many of the individual program pages together to provide links and such, so check it out.

Because WBAI was forced out of its studios by the flood waters' destruction of the building's electrical system we still have this alternate, temporary stream for the radio station! I do not know how long this emergency stream will be up for. If this stream isn't working let me know.

New WBAI stream! WBAI has put up an experimental stream for the Apple iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. This is a brand new, experimental stream. So if you have one of those devices you might try the link out. And let us know how it works for you one way or the other. That way the folks implementing it can iron out any kinks in the system.

WBAI is archiving the programs! Just go here and you'll be able to listen to this program any time for the next couple of months. You may need to scroll up one line to see the audio archive. Let me know if you find this feature useful. There is also another version of the archive here.

If you want to listen to any part of the WBAI archive click here to go right to the archives. When you first go to the Web page you'll only see the WBAI programs for the past 7 days. If you want to see older programs you can click on one of the “See ALL Shows” buttons. Or to see only the two shows in this time slot click here.

Back of the Book is one of the programs that you can download, as well as listen to on line.

In the table on the archive Web page Back of the Book and Saturday Morning With the Radio On are both in the “Show” column. The “Date and Category” column shows the date of the program. After the program I go in and write the details of the program and say which program it is. Of course I'd recommend that you just listen to both programs in this time slot!

In the Summer of 2009, there was a Pacifica National Board meeting held in New York. Here's the Web page I did about this PNB meeting and the amazing things that went on at it.

And the PNB has also met in Houston from Friday October 9th, through Sunday October 11th, 2009. The official audio archive of that meeting is here. It was not disrupted as the New York meeting was, although some of the same miscreants got out there to say stupid things.

The Pacifica National Board (PNB) met in Manhattan the weekend of October 1-3, 2010. The audio has been posted for the first day of the meeting, the second day of the meeting and the third day of the meeting.

Uncle Sidney in Master Control
Uncle Sidney Getting Things Ready For Us

So things are getting slowly put together in the new, and temporary, studios at WBAI. Here's a shot I took of Uncle Sidney getting things ready for us before we started our last radio program. It's a pretty Spartan studio, and there's not much else around to support our radio endeavors. But it's better than being out on the street.

The WBAI Operations Department is going to be re-wiring the studios this weekend, so most programs are going to have to be pre-recorded shows.

We'll be the last live radio program till Monday. It's always good to have a free form live radio program be aired live.

Wilber the GIMP mascot

On this program I plan to talk about GIMP, which stands for the “GNU image manipulation program.”

GIMP is a computer program which allows you to edit graphic images. Technically known as a raster editor, GIMP allows the user to create, edit or modify digital image files, much the same as the more famous Adobe Photoshop, Jasc Paintshop Pro and other commercial image editors do.

The big thing about GIMP is that it is free, and in fact it is Free Open Source Software (FOSS). If you'd like to try GIMP out you can download it right here and start using it right away, all for free.

GIMP has an official mascot named Wilbur, you can see Wilbur on the right.

darker photograph
The original photograph
brightened photograph
The Same Photograph Brightened

While some things in GIMP are pretty easy to figure out some things take a bit more exploration. Cropping and scaling images, that is, cutting out what you don't want in the final image and reducing the image's size for a Web page, are easy. Things like improving a photograph that didn't come out quite right are more complicated.

The images lower down on this page of the robin and the flower are examples of simply cropping and scaling photographs.

The two photographs to the right illustrate the use of GIMP to enhance photographs, in this case to make a photograph useable at all. The photograph is of the entrance to the North Academic Center at CCNY, where WBAI now has its meager studios, taken at about 4:52 AM on March 16, 2013, as I was getting there to do the radio program.

The original photograph is on top. As it came out of the camera it was just too dark to really show anything. It definitely qualified as a photograph that didn't come out quite right. It simply was not something that I could post on the Web page.

I thought that there had to be information there. I had used the flash and so I should have illuminated something of the facade of the building. So I went to GIMP to see if I could improve the image.

I used the tool that allows you to adjust the brightness and contrast of an image and I just fiddled with the two of them until I got an image that showed pretty much what I had seen on that dark morning. And you can see that brightened image on the bottom.

I am not really a graphics person, so I have to try and figure a lot of things out without really having a feel for graphics and with just a tiny bit of experience in dealing with adjusting graphic images. So I need a bunch of help when I need to do anything more than the most basic cropping and scaling of an image.

The Book of GIMP

On this program I reviewed a book titled The Book of GIMP.

This book has already helped me a lot in dealing with images in more than a rudimentary way.

The GIMP software is not as powerful and fully featured as Photoshop is, yet, but it's being upgraded again and again, and over time I think it will completely rival the extremely expensive Adobe product.

As GIMP gets more and more powerful it also gets a bit more complicated and maybe a bit less intuitive to use. The docs for the software are helpful, but they're neither exhaustive nor as detailed as might be needed for some of us who are not really graphics people. And in some cases the docs for GIMP end up saying that the page or topic you're interested in learning about hasn't been documented yet!

The Book of GIMP is large, coming in at 656 pages, including appendices and index. The book is printed on high quality paper and so the whole thing is pretty weighty. The paper quality is important because every page has some sort of a graphic on it, and the graphics show exactly what you should see on your computer screen when you're using GIMP. This is really helpful when you find yourself suddenly swimming in graphics jargon like “Adjust Color Balance” or “Adjust Hue/Lightness/Saturation.” and just need to see a picture that might give you a hint of what's really going on and where you can find the relevant controls.

We plan to have some things to say about the bombing and related actions this past fortnight.

A Robin
The Red, Red Robin Is Here

No, the red, red robin is not a commie! I figured I should get that out of the way immediately. He is, however, a harbinger of Spring. We took this photograph during our outing after the last radio program. There were crowds of these little birds hopping around that morning. This was taken over around Grant's Tomb.

A white daffodil
A White Daffodil

Yeah, in the Springtime I tend to take photographs of the flowers. Here is what Pickles of the North tells me is a white daffodil. I hadn't known that they were any other color than yellow. Why didn't William Wordsworth tell us that? I like Wordsworth's poem I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud, I especially like it when it's read by Bullwinkle J. Moose.

Anyway, I'm sure that for the rest of this Spring and on into the Summer I'll be taking photographs of flowers, as I've done in years past.

There are a lot of issues that are considered hazardous to talk about on the air at WBAI, even though the gag rule was lifted in 2002. However, there is the Internet! There are mailing lists which you can subscribe to and Web based message boards devoted to WBAI and Pacifica issues. Many controversial WBAI/Pacifica issues are discussed on these lists.

One popular list the “NewPacifica” mailing list. Founded October 31, 2000, this list is sometimes lively and as of mid-2011, has 687 subscribers coast to coast.

Being lively, of course, it sometimes also gets a bit nasty. All sorts of things are happening on this list and official announcements are frequently posted there.

You can look at the NewPacifica list here, and you can join the list from that Web page too. If you subscribe to the “NewPacifica” mailing list you will receive, via E-mail, all of the messages which are sent to that list.

There is the option to receive a “digest” version of the list, which means that a bunch of messages are bundled into one E-mail and sent to you at regular intervals, this cuts down on the number of E-mails you get from the list. You will also be able to send messages to the list.

This list also has a Web based interface where you can read messages and from which you can post your own messages.

There is also the more WBAI specific “Goodlight” Web based message board. It is sometimes referred to on Back of the Book as “the bleepin' blue board,” owing to the blue background used on its Web pages. This one has many people posting anonymously and there's also an ancillary “WBAI people” board that's just totally out of hand. UPDATE: The bleepin' blue board has had to add a step for folks to get onto it because it's under attack by spambots. When you click on the above link you may be asked for a username and password. Type in Username: poster Password: enternow

When the computer in Master Control is working we sometimes have live interaction with people posting on the “Goodlight Board” during the program.

Our very own Uncle Sidney Smith, whose program Saturday Morning With the Radio On alternates with us, has a blog these days. You can reach his blog here.

My voice mail number at WBAI is 212-209-2996. Leave a message.

You can also send me E-mail.

WBAI related links

WBAI Listeners' Web page

WBAI Management's official Web site

Back to the Back of the Book page

Back to my home page.

The contents of this Web page are copyright © 2013, R. Paul Martin.