Sat-ND, 14.9.1997 Vox populi
World Records (Sat-ND, 12.9.1997)
Golden Shower (Sat-ND, 3.9.1997)
Apart from what happened over the weekend, this issue contains what I like best about Sat-ND: your comments and contributions. Well, not all of them, really read the "Golden Shower" bit at the end.
The seven satellites are part of Iridium LLC's 66-satellite wireless personal telecommunications network designed to offer full global coverage through a variety of communications services, including voice, data, fax and paging. These seven satellites join the 22 that are already in orbit.
The Proton rocket lifted off the launch pad today at 9:36:54 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. Satellite separation occurred approximately 88 minutes after lift-off. The seven satellites will be manoeuvred into their respective positions within the fifth orbital plane of the satellite system, enabling significant testing of various aspects of the space system ranging from inter-satellite links to communications with subscriber equipment.
Channels using the new high-capacity 15-hour servers include UK Living, Challenge TV, Discovery and The Children's Channel. More channels are expected to be added in the near future.
"By designing a system in which channels, or groups of channels, have their commercials cached to pairs of HP servers from a central commercials library, we have achieved a high degree of automation and a highly efficient use of hardware and human resources," said Paul Evans, director of engineering and operations at Pearson Television Broadcasting. "This approach also offers resilience [flexibility] by mirroring all commercials on both servers.
"The main benefits of the change are considerable savings in manpower, tape stock and VTR head wear compared with the previous method of compiling every commercial break onto tape from a cart machine," said Evans.
The company has appointed Grey Worldwide to conduct its global consumer launch campaign. The account will be co-ordinated by the Grey Communications Group in London. WorldSpace's first satellite will be launched by Ariane in June 1998. The service launch for Africa, the Middle East and the Mediterranean Basin will take place in Autumn 1998. The launches for Asia and Latin America will follow at six monthly intervals thereafter. Through portable receivers, listeners will be able to enjoy 50 to 100 stations of music, news, talk and education from their own regions and around the world.
Two years into pay-TV and I can modestly cry 'I told you so'. (i.e. Sat-ND, 14.12.96.) Galaxy/Australis, Foxtel and Optus have jointly written off around four billion [Australian] dollars. I guess about 65% of 'connected' homes are now disconnected having signed up for A$20 and found lots to choose from but nothing to watch worth A$40-50 per month. There must be more 65cm dishes, MMDS antennas and thousands of kilometres of cable doing nothing but going rusty in Oz than anywhere else in the world.
The upside of this for the local antenna man is that people are now far more aware of just how good, and cheap, the free to air television captured by the big coat hanger on the chimney really is; and they are prepared to pay for decent reception. Industry awareness of quality cabling (RG6/11 & hard-line,) F connectors and star wiring is a breath of fresh air.
The downside is more tradesmen (previously pastry cooks, bartenders and plumbers) than the marketplace can feed. These guys got a little training and six months or so installing pay TV before they were shown the back door and left to find something to do with the new tools. The good ones who acquired a passion for RF and customer service will survive, the majority will be lucky to get their old jobs back.
Dare I be pompous enough to advice the bureaucracy contemplating new cable TV systems? A communications provider lays one cable and leases the bandwidth to the end user(s). Only when the bandwidth is full (360+ 6:1 digitally compressed channels) should parallel infrastructure be considered.
Yours truly reported about plans by Angel Technologies Corp. to provide high-speed Internet access in metropolitan areas utilising three aircraft. However, I was unable to guess the URL of the company's Web sites, even though they (yes, there are even two of them) are really just what one would expect. Thanks to Henrik Enk and everybody else who wrote in.
In Sat-ND 11.9.97 you wrote about a copy protection technology which will be used by BSykB. This allows to view a move on the TV, but not to record it.
I have heard that several rental video are also encoded with Macrovision, this prevents that the rental video is copied at home to another tape.
I don't rent video tapes, therefore I don't have experience with Macrovision-encoded videos. But several electronic home-order companies offer a 'Macrovision-decoder' which according to the product description can be used to copy rental video.
It seems to me that the video signal on a rental tape is modified in a way that the signal can still be displayed on a TV without distortion, but an attempt to record this signal on another VCR results in a distorted picture.
Since the set-top decoder produces an analog video signal, the macrovision copy protection used by the BSkyB digital PPV must work similar as the one used by rental videos.
From the Macrovision home page (http://www.macrovision.com/) I found the following information:
"The Macrovision videocassette anti-copy process [...] has been applied to over 1.5 billion videocassettes world-wide, and is used by virtually every major Hollywood studio, as well as by over 1500 producers of special interest, corporate, and educational programming. [...]
"The technology consists of electronic pulses that are added to the video signal during duplication. These pulses are transparent on original cassette playback, but cause copies made on most consumer VCRs to be degraded to the extent they no longer have any entertainment value.
"Specifically, when a consumer tries to make a copy of a copy protected cassette, the Macrovision technology will attempt to confuse a record VCR's automatic gain control. This weakens the video signal, causing copies made on over 80% of consumer VCRs to exhibit some or all of the following characteristics: dim and/or noisy pictures, loss of colour, loss of video, picture tearing, etc."
There is also information about Macrovision for PPV and DVD on this web site, including a list of broadcasters already using Macrovision (DirecTV, Kirch, ...)
I have no information whether the above mentioned Macrovision decoder for rental videos also decodes copy-protected PPV movies.
[Thanks for the information, Peter. I'm sure that if the old decoders do not work with digital PPV, new ones that will are going to be offered soon. Of course, as a law-abiding citizen you should always check your country's legislation before using such a device. As a less law-abiding citizen,. you should at least make sure you won't get caught. Ed.]
I claimed that in Germany "there are more than 1.5 million morons shelling out some DM45 (US$ 25) every month for a single TV channel by the name of Premiere probably a world record in stupidity." As usual, I meant it in the nicest possible way.
D L Thornton sent me this email:
"Hey, come on! There are more than 4 million Frenchmen doing this with Canal+. The French world stupidity record must be defended. ;-)"
And just like me, he surely meant that in the nicest possible way, too. By the way: I'm of course aware of Canal+, which concept is somewhat different from Premiere's anyway, but I did not know it was that expensive. If it really is, that is. Anyway, there are far less free-to-air channels available in France than in Germany, so people may be more inclined to subscribe to whatever ridiculously priced pay-TV. No, I think the Germans are still more stupid, sorry.
"[Sat-ND] is a free service. You don't have to pay for it. I do not want to sell you anything, and as a consequence I do not intend to reach as many readers as possible. I do not even want to convince you of anything. You can unsubscribe any time you like. All I want to do is offer a service I myself would subscribe to that's my motivation. If you don't like it, just piss off!"
If there's a problem with Sat-ND, it's that it still has far too many German subscribers. I don't mind if they speak English, but some of them just don't and that guy in Sri Lanka most certainly does not. I was by no means referring to the act of urinating in the last sentence of the incriminated text, bugger! Just consult the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary of Current English before complaining about anything you read here. In this case, you would find
piss off (esp Brit) (used esp as a command) go away
Strangely enough, there's a German equivalent, "verpissen," which means exactly the same, but the Sri Lanka climate seems to have severely affected those poor creature's knowledge of German idioms. Anyway, that's just what I want you to do: GO AWAY if you don't like my style. GO AWAY if you don't understand what I write. GO AWAY if you feel offended.
Nick Abbot, my favourite radio phone-in presenter [listen to him this week on Virgin 1215 AM/satellite/Real Audio between 1800 and 2100 UTC] would just have said "What an idiot" and pressed a button to dump that bloke. Essentially, this is what I did, too. That subscriber miraculously has disappeared from the Sat-ND mailing list and will hopefully never ever be able to subscribe again. Phew!
Am I intolerant? Yes! But you would understand my move better if you knew what this guy wrote. I cannot include it, however, because
he wrote in German and I do not translate German language contributions to English. Write in English if you want your contribution to appear in Sat-ND.
The whole thing is far too rude to publish it, even in this context.