On the SomaFM DEF CON Radio

Since the radio station KWCR stopped broadcasting in 2016, Nerd Show has been almost exclusively a pre-recorded session, where I collect music, play and comment in real time while recording, then upload it to the Mixcloud service. This isn’t ideal, but it does allow Nerd Show to carry on in a capacity that allows for a legal stream with a good amount of flexibility.

However, the relationship that we have with the fine folks at SomaFM changed this. During the DEF CON 28 and 29 conferences in 2020 and 2021, all of the DJs participated in the virtual an hybrid conferences remotely. After the really good experiences we had with this, I suggested to Rusty that maybe I could do a live show utilizing the same tools and methods to present Nerd Show live to an audience once more.

Rusty loved the idea and we found the perfect time slot for it. Since 2003, Nerd Show has traditionally been a Thursday night broadcast, and in those first years it ran from 21:00 to midnight. This lines up for the current show hours, at least in the Mountain time zone where I reside. It’s like it was meant to happen again.

So, listen in to Nerd Show on the DEF CON Radio channel at SomaFM, Thursday nights at 8PM PT / 11PM ET.


Listen in to Nerd Show anytime!

The best way to listen to Nerd Show is on your computer or mobile device.

The show was broadcast live from the studios of KWCR-FM from 2003 till 2016, but is now available exclusively on Mixcloud. Good news is that there shows dating back to 2012 available for your enjoyment. These include the weekly recordings, Nerd New Year, DEF CON and SomaFM mixes, guest mixes from the likes of Chris McNabb, and other projects.

Pro or No – Mixcloud

An announcement in late 2022 got some attention when Mixcloud decided to change their longstanding policy of allowing uploads from anyone, without a restriction on length or numbers of them over time. I’ve been a user of Mixxloud since finding them in early 2012, and subsequently uploaded over 600 shows and mixes. This likely constitutes something in the neighborhood of 1200 to 1350 hours total. No small amount of data or bandwidth.

The change in policy restricts users from uploading more than 8 shows on a Basic account. In order to upload more than this, either the previously submitted shows need to be removed, or a Pro account subscription needed to be purchased. Pretty much an ultimatum for users like me, and I was a bit grumpy and felt like this was a bit unfair to those of us with time in the community. However, when the co-founder of Mixcloud responded on Twitter and took my input seriously, countering with some solid points, I reconsidered. I have brought value to the service, but it also serves me to put some weight on the other side of the scales in order to balance it out. This also lined up with the subscriber count from the channel chipping in to the kitty.

So, I came around. Nerd Show will continue to publish full shows to Mixcloud and stream live on SomaFM when possible. It’s a reasonable ask and you are part of the equation, and not a small part. I’ve been part of Nerd Show for two decades now, and I’m easily in a position to pay for a useful and very valuable service like Mixcloud. Hesitating to pay for something that was free but has value-adds when paid for, bears some thought and consideration. It’s natural to recoil a bit when something stops being free to use, but in the larger context this will hopefully help Mixcloud stay a solvent business that can be independent and fulfill the needs of the community as it has.

Here’s to many more years on Mixcloud.

Music vs iTunes

This isn’t the royal “Music”, but Apple’s “replacement” for the software package called iTunes, which still persists on Windows, but has been cleaved into smaller bits in versions of Apple’s macOS with the release of 10.15, aka Catalina.

While Music looks very similar to iTunes, it does do things a bit differently, and with some surprises. I’m getting a little rusty remembering all of the things I disliked about the transition, but here goes.

Filtering your tracks with the Search bar doesn’t quite work how it used to. In the past, the Search field was in the top right of the iTunes window. It moved to the top left, and searches all, but the results aren’t a filter like they used to be, but more like a web search with results not necessarily in the format desired. Thankfully I got a tip from Rusty at SomaFM about turning on a filter search, which again goes in the top right, but only stays active briefly. Look for it under View > Show Filter Field. Handy.

Adding or managing your devices is now in Finder, believe it or now, and that’s OK. I was scratching my head at first, but realized that my iPad Pro was mounted in the sidebar of the Finder window, and when I clicked on it I was greeted with a very familiar interface last seen in iTunes. Playlist management is what I usually do here, adding and removing them week on week.

Library management can be a little tricky as well, if you’re used to storing it on another drive like I do. I prefer to have everything on something not tied to the computer, so if there’s an OS issue it’s unlikely to affect my music. This, and with a large library, SSDs are easier to plug in than to upgrade internally with some devices. My current storage solution is an external T5 Samsung 1TB SSD. It has been a RAID1 4TB external setup in the past, but performance wasn’t as good as it should have been.

A recent scare with regards to the library had me running around in circles trying to figure out what was going on. Music had not been adding recent files to my preferred disk for some reason, and a quick check in Preferences showed that the Media location had changed. I struggled to get things working right until Rusty gave me a clue about a change that had been made. iTunes used to have a file called iTunes Library.itl which is just an XML file with metadata, like the file’s location. Music moved this to a different location called Music Library.musiclibrary. No, really. You can open this with Show Package Contents and see the files inside that will look more familiar to those who’ve seen what iTunes did in the past.

As part of that exercise in frustration, which was ultimately successful, I found out that macOS gets very clever when keeping track of where music is moved to and from. Those tracks I’d wanted to add to my external Media disk were eventually just copied to the SSD, in a different folder, with the folder on the local machine being put in the macOS trash and emptied. Music just figured out where the files were and resolved the location of the files without my pointing there. Kinda neat, if a bit of a head scratcher.

So, Music isn’t the end of the road for those of us with big or huge music libraries to manage. It still supports Smart Playlists and all of the querying capabilities and filtering we’re used to. Devices are still supported. Yeah, it reset all of the playlist column preferences, of which I have hundreds, but those are easy to fix.

One of these days I might even run the current version of macOS and not be two versions behind, but not today. Not today. I miss Snow Leopard.

#100/100 – Lorn – Remnant

As the final side on this, what I hope is the first run through my collection, Lorn’s Remnant is an interesting pick. It’s an atypical release for the artist in that most of the tracks are more cinematic than his more visceral sound and composition. That’s fine, however, as Lorn can be quite cinematic it comes as no surprise.

I chose Side A, or First Side as it’s labeled, and quickly remembered why I love this artist. Track after track is a journey, and Silhouette really nailed this side, and maybe the album, with the chilling and deep bass combined with minimal percussion and sweeping synths. It’s just breathtaking and awesome while maintaining some sense of restraint. What a great way to round out this first trip through the collection.


Discogs Link

#99/100 – Glassjaw – Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Silence

There was a time for a little while in the late 2000s where you could go into a mall and buy records that were very limited pressing and find some nuggets of gold for those artists and labels who were seeing the niche. This is one of those, among with a handful of others, that I picked up in a Hot Topic. I was well familiar with the album so it was an easy buy.

Side A is interesting because it starts out hyper aggressive and brutal, calms down a little, and by the third track it’s almost apologetic for the first two. When One Eight Becomes Two Zeroes is easily my favorite on this side, and maybe the album overall. It’s been years since I’ve heard it and I’d forgotten how much a relief in spirit and attitude that it was, especially contrasted against the violence of Pretty Lush.


Discogs Link

#98/100 – Salva – Complex Housing

Another album from that “Golden Era” between 2010 and 2014 when I saw and enjoyed so much excellent electronic music. This one comes via Friends of Friends, a neat indy label that I’m very fond of. This is a very solid album, with a lot of character, variety, and vibe. Side A’s Keys Open Doors was my pick this listen, just beating out the opening track Beached by a whisker.


Discogs Link

#97/100 – The Lionel Hampton Quartet – Hamp in Hi-Fi

This was a true wildcard. I don’t have any like or dislike for the vibraphone, but I will say that when I saw one played live at Snug Harbor in New Orleans during a show by the late Ellis Marsalis, I got it. Lionel Hampton is probably the king of the Jazz performance, and Side A’s La Vie En Rose really was pretty sweet. It’s always worth giving a record a chance, especially on the hi-fi, if you are open and willing.


Discogs Link

#96/100 – The Breakfast Club Soundtrack

The elephant in the room on this album is clearly the Simple Minds intro track, Don’t You Forget About (Me), so I’ll pass right over that. Side B I wasn’t familiar with at all, and I didn’t want to tip my toe into that, so I chose Wang Chung’s Fire In the Twilight as my favorite this listen. I don’t know if I’d ever heard it, because while I’m old enough to have seen this movie in theaters as a teen, I never have, even on Saturday TV in the 90s. The track is very fun and groovy, and has all of the energy and melody and character I wanted to hear.


Discogs Link

#95/100 – Thom Yorke – The Eraser

I’m no Radiohead fan. I’m not even sure that I’m a Thom Yorke fan either, but when I first heard a few tracks from this release I was very impressed, so when I was at Randy’s Records in SLC a decade ago and saw it on the shelf, it went home with me.

On my listen this evening I realized how relatively simple the tracks are, how the sound stage is pretty good, but also how more frequently the tracks were loud and busy. This can be a desirable attribute, but not tonight. Listening to Side B, I skipped closing And It Rained All Night for Harrowdown Hill almost for the space it affords the listener. It’s still busy, but there’s some airiness.


Discogs Link