From:         Patrick Douglas Crispen 
Subject:      TOURBUS - 12 Jun 03 - Radio-Locator / PDF Tools

TODAY'S TOURBUS STOP(S): radio-locator / More PDF Tools

The Internet Tourbus - U.S. Library of Congress ISSN #1094-2239
Copyright © Bob Rankin and Patrick Crispen - All rights reserved

Howdy, y'all, and greetings from the Alabama Educational Technology Conference in hot and sticky Birmingham, Alabama, where the mosquitoes don't go "buzz," they go "flap flap flap."

Long-time passengers of our little bus of Internet happiness (or long-time residents of Alabama) will remember that standing on the top of Red Mountain in Birmingham, Alabama, was the largest cast iron sculpture in the world: a 53 foot tall statue of Vulcan, the Roman god of fire and metalworking. Unfortunately, when the statue was cast, the artist forgot to provide Mr. Vulcan with any shorts. Consequently, "[t]here's a full moon that shines 24 hours a day, 7 days a week over Birmingham."

It gets worse. Vulcan's giant iron posterior was cracked -- well, it developed more cracks than usual -- and the City of Birmingham was forced to close Vulcan Park and take down the statue to repair it.

Well, I am happy to announce that this is a great time to be in Birmingham: THEY ARE REBUILDING VULCAN AS WE SPEAK. If you want to watch the construction crews hoisting Vulcans multi-ton behind high into the clouds, point your Web browser to

and click on the live "Vucan Cam" in the middle of the page. And, since I brought my digital camera with me, Ill make sure to take LOTS of pictures and post them on my Web site next week. Stay tuned! :)

TOURBUS is made possible by the kind support of our sponsors. Please take a moment to visit today's sponsors and thank them for keeping our little bus of Internet happiness on the road week after week.

On with the show ...


You've probably never heard of WMBR, the college station at MIT, but way back in 1994 -- back in the days of Gopher, command line FTP, and NCSA Mosaic version 2 alpha -- the folks at WMBR created something called "The MIT List of Radio Stations on the Internet." The list had about 20 stations on it. [What did you expect? This was back in the days *BEFORE* Netscape or Internet Explorer.]

Nine years later, the MIT List of Radio Stations on the Internet -- now known by the much shorter name "radio-locator" -- has grown to over 10,000 radio stations from all around the world. You can find the radio-locator site online at

Key in a US city and state and you're taken to a page that shows you every radio station in close listening range of that city. The page also provides, for each and every station in that listening area,

  • A link to the station's online stream, if available (just click
  • on the lightning bolt)

  • Information about the station, such as the station's mailing
  • address, owner, technical information, and so on (just click on the little "i" icon next to the station's call sign)

  • A link to the station's homepage, if available (just click on
  • the station's call sign)

  • The station's frequency
  • The station's distance from, and signal strength in, that
  • particular city

  • The city from which the station broadcasts
  • The school with which the station is affiliated, if applicable
  • And, most importantly, the station's format.
  • Neat, huh?

    So if you can't remember the call sign for the classical station in Pittsburgh, the Web address for 99x in Atlanta, or which top 40 station in Los Angeles you can listen to online, a quick trip to the radio-locator Web site will solve all your problems.

    Well, all your radio-related problems.

    Well, all your radio-related problems that don't involve the facts that there's nothing on the radio worth listing to and all the stations are owned by the same company.

    Never mind. :P

    Seriously, though, the radio-locator site is a really cool service. Not only can you search for the radio stations in a particular market, you can also

  • Search for a particular station by its call letters (which in
  • and of itself is an amusing activity -- I did not know there's KORN in South Dakota or two WARMs in Pennsylvania)

  • Find an online station's stream by format (the radio-locator
  • has links to 2,500 streams)

  • Find radio stations around the world.
  • The radio-locator's list of online streams is a phenomenal resource, especially if you're looking for something to listen to at work.

    So, if you're looking for a good alternative station in Altoona, or are going to be driving across the United States, Europe, or Australia and want to know what radio stations are out there and you don't have XM Radio [see ] or Sirius [see] installed in your car, pop on over to

    and do a quick search before you hit the road.

    Update: Create Cheap PDFs

    I am convinced that Tourbus has the smartest, most helpful, and best- looking passengers in the world. In my last post [which you can find in the Tourbus archives at ] I mentioned a few ways to create Adobe Acrobat PDF files without having to spend a lot of money, and your fellow passengers responded with suggestions for a slew of other, wonderful PDF tools.

    Microsoft Office doesn't come with built-in PDF support, so if you want to convert an Office document into PDF you have to purchase Adobe Acrobat, use an online conversion site, or download and install a special program or printer driver. But, passengers "Ctropila," "Buck," David, Ron, Loren, and Dana all wrote in to remind me that, unlike Microsoft Office, Corel's Word Perfect Office *DOES* support PDF creation straight out of the box. You can download a 30 day evaluation copy of Word Perfect at

    Of course, what started this whole journey into PDF-land was a desire on my part to create PDFs cheaply. So buying a whole new office suite, even if that suite doesn't carry the Microsoft logo, kind of defeats the purpose. John, Kevin, Andrew, Ulrich, Chris, Michael, Johnnie, and Timothy offer a different suggestion: use OpenOffice. OpenOffice comes with a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation manager, and a drawing program. The latest version of OpenOffice -- OpenOffice 1.1 beta -- even comes with PDF and Macromedia Flash export.

    Oh, and OpenOffice is completely free. You can download it at

    If downloading and installing a whole new office suite doesn't sound too appetizing, fear not. Your fellow Tourbus passengers have other PDF tools they recommend!

    For online document conversion (a la Adobe's, Tony, Jeff, and Paul recommend goBCL at

    and an entirely different Jeff recommends Carnegie Mellon's TOM Server at

    Both services appear to be free, but Jeff #2 warns that CMU's server can be a bit flaky at times. [I think that has something to do with Carnegie Mellon's close proximity to the "Squirrel Hill" section of Pittsburgh.] :P

    If you have Postscript files that you would like to convert to PDFs online, Rodney and Bill recommend PS2PDF at

    If you'd rather download and install a PDF converter on your computer, you have a BUNCH of options. Keith and "R" both found a free converter called "Gymnast" at

    The registration code is in the yellow box at the top of the page. Another free converter, courtesy of rider Cy, is PDFProducer at

    Reuben wrote in to suggest Blue Squirrel's US$18.95 Click2PDF at

    and Cees has had good success with 602 Pro Print Pack at

    which you purchase for US$19.95. Barry and Becki suggest RoboPDF at

    which (like many of the programs mentioned in today's post) is free to try, but US$49.99 for the licensed version. Michael recommends PDFMailer, which lets you email the output of any program as a PDF. You can download a free version at

    and the standard version is US$49.99. Anne, Thomas, and Fred all seem to like the US$49.00 pdfFactory at

    David and Alex both recommend the US$129.99 PagePlus 8 PDF Edition at

    and Callie puts in a plug for the US$40.00 MakePDF for Word at

    For our passengers down under, Greg recommends the Jaws PDF Creator from

    The trial version is free, and the licensed version is (oddly enough) US$100 including GST. [I say "oddly enough" because I assumed that the product would be priced in Australian dollars, not US dollars.]

    And, if you're willing to ditch Windows altogether [or partition your computer so that you can run multiple operating systems], Ron mentions that Mandrake Linux 9.1 with KDE comes with a built-in PDF printer driver. Other flavors of *nix may offer the same features. Check around. :)

    Linda reminded me that college bookstores and aren't the only sources for student versions of software:

    there are other resellers out there that offer the educational discount - for example, PC Connection and Insight. Educators should check with their purchasing office to see which vendors are used by their schools because often the vendor will extend the school's pricing for personal purchases which means that a better price than the vendors web price may actually be available.

    And, finally, James, Michael, and Richard all called me on the carpet for saying that using Ghostscript to convert files to PDF "borders on the dishonest."

    Are you serious? I'm a registered Acrobat 6 owner but you missed one point about PDF. It is an open standard. Adobe publishes the specs and says, not in so many words, that if you want to write your own software to make it, read it, whatever, go right ahead. All PDF is is an extension to Postscript. That being said, Ghostscript is a perfectly legit way to process files into PDF. Having used it on a Linux system though I must say that fall far short of what the full version can do.

    What I meant to say was that, after being told for years that you have to pay for commercial software like Acrobat, creating PDF files for free *feels* dishonest to me. But that's just me.

    I misspoke. I apologize.

    That's it for today. Have a safe and happy week, and we'll talk again soon. :)


    AWFUL TAR (Noun). A tall, iron structure on the river Seine. Usage: "That Awful Tar may be great, but it aint no Vulcan!"

    [Special thanks to "Jon" for today's wurd; and, yes, I did indeed say this when I was in Paris a few years ago.]

    You can find all of the old Southern Words of the day at

    .~~~. )) (\__/) .' ) )) Patrick Douglas Crispen /o o \/ .~ {o_, \ { / , , ) \ `~ -' \ } )) AOL Instant Messenger: Squirrel2K _( ( )_.' ---..{____} Warning: squirrels.

    The Internet Tourbus - U.S. Library of Congress ISSN #1094-2239
    Copyright © Bob Rankin and Patrick Crispen - All rights reserved
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