Sat-ND, 13.12.1997 More useless facts
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Super Karel strikes again
Yesterday's Sat-ND did not make it through because I made a stupid mistake. I'll resend it together with this one.
Sat-ND is not back to normal operations yet simply because I'm not at all sure whether (or rather: why) I should resume normal operations. So, expect this so-called newsletter to become a non-daily one at best unless you come up with either loads of money or some very, very good reasons. (Nope, "I like it" won't do.)
The Intelsat Board of Governors authorised the procurement of two additional Intelsat spacecraft, 903 and 904, and awarded a contract to Arianespace for the procurement of three launches and associated services on an Ariane 5 launch vehicle for the launch of the Intelsat 902, 903 and 904 spacecraft.
The Intelsat IX satellites are built by Space Systems/Loral. A contract was previously awarded to Lockheed-Khrunichev-Energia International (LKEI) for the launch of Intelsat 901 on a Proton M/Breeze M launch vehicle.
USELESS FACT: The Pentagon, in Arlington, Virginia, has twice as many bathrooms as is necessary.
Maybe Internet and intranet transmissions via satellite aren't as fast as some companies (and the overhasty mainstream media) try to make the public believe. At least, Israel-based Flash Networks Ltd. have now announced a technology that makes TCP/IP via satellite up to five times faster.
The company said in a press release that "SatBooster" dramatically enhances the performance and reliability of VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal) installations for satellite communications. The BoosterWare technology accelerates TCP/IP applications and services in Internet and intranet environments, maximising modem throughput while increasing the reliability of the Internet connection.
"The delays experienced by Internet users due to heavy traffic loads and the resulting congestion are considerably aggravated by the long delays common in satellite transmissions," said Barak Ben-Avinoam, president and chief executive officer, Flash Networks. "A delay of two seconds in satellite communications is normal, which brings TCP/IP to its knees. SatBooster solves this problem while delivering a significant performance improvement."
Flash Networks explains that over the Internet, congestion varies due to the fluctuating number of users at any one time, along with unpredictable delays, resulting in an environment where TCP/IP is not as efficient. Accordingly, multiple retransmissions are usually necessary, which considerably slows down the Internet experience. These faults are amplified in a satellite environment, where the long delays might cause TCP/IP to disconnect the session.
Flash Networks <http://www.flash-networks.com/>
USELESS FACT: Peanuts are used in the production of dynamite.
In all that wonderful satellite and launch business, nobody seems to care about the pollution created by rockets even though the market is expected to grow 50 percent by 2002.
Will there be a solution to the problem? CNN reports that "a team made up of scientists from NASA, the U.S. Air Force, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has already 'launched' a 6-inch, 2-ounce model 50 feet into the air using a high-powered, infrared laser."
It is rather unclear whether all this is actually "better for the environment" as claimed."The reason I think this technology is so important... is that it allows us in the future to get rid of the dependency on fossil fuels," said Rensselaer's Leik Myrabo, one of the project team's directors.
As mentioned, the laser is high-powered, and somehow this energy has to be produced. Take, for example, the U.S. Air Force's Miracl infrared laser. Its output is after all the result of a simple combustion, which is exactly the same what happens in a conventional rocket engine.
If electrical energy is going to be used, it will have to be produced somewhere on Earth, too either by conventional power plants that have an efficiency of some 40 percent, or by nuclear power plants which are well known for their environmental risks (Three Mile Island; Chernobyl.)
At least, the fuel source stays on the ground that will make any craft to be launched lighter and reportedly save astronomical amounts of money. On the other hand, all the pollution (which undoubtedly is less in effect) stays on the ground, too. Sorry, I can't see amy improvement in that.
USELESS FACT: Compact discs read from the inside to the outside edge, the reverse of how a record works.
Wired ran a pretty favourable article about Med-TV, the first and only Kurdish TV station, which I am not going to repeat here mainly because it's really very bad journalism.
Of course, yours truly really is not in a position to ask anybody to publish balanced articles ;-) On the other hand, I think it's quite appropriate to surf the Web for half an hour and see what you can find about what you report on. I do that quite frequently, but Wired contributors don't seem to.
Sat-ND has in the past reported about the station that is mainly targeting the minority of Kurds in South-East Turkey. (There are also Kurds living in Syria, Iraq and Iran. They are regarded the world's largest people without an independent state.)
There have been indications Med-TV staff may have been involved in laundering money from drug trafficking operations (Sat-ND, 19.9.96.) Wired says "MED-TV now survives on a shoestring budget of US$20 million" not exactly what I would call a trifle. During a raid on Med-TV in Belgium, the equivalent of US$10 million was found in cash.
Another fact that needs commenting is that Med-TV broadcasts utilising a UK TV license. Actually, if the target country of the station is not the UK, they will give a license to almost everyone. As far as I know, programming isn't monitored to comply with any law or such. At least, Med-TV says it has provided the UK's Independent Television Commission with all the necessary details on funding.
According to Wired, "much of MED-TV's programming consists of dubbed material acquired from organizations such as the BBC." I doubt that anybody really checks whether the translation is correct; and by the way, the article says "dubbed" and not "translated" anyway.
Marxists-Leninists on air
Med-TV is said to have close connections to the PKK, a marxist-leninist guerrilla group that has its headquarters in Syria. They happen to have a strong supporter base of about 10,000 Kurds living in Germany, where the PKK is banned as a terrorist organisation.
Med-TV may or may not be in support of the PKK, but it is an undisputed fact that their leaders use Med-TV as their mouthpiece. So did PKK chairman Abdullah Öcalan (who lives in Damascus, Syria) in January 1996 when he said on Med-TV that tourists in Turkey would become a main target of terrorist activity: "If tomorrow the corpses of 50 German tourists arrive in Germany, officials shouldn't be surprised."
And by the way: the idyllic yet comfortable view of a TV station for all Kurds probably isn't quite correct anyway. The PKK has reportedly been engaged in fights with some Kurdish organisations in Northern Iraq, a region that also serves as a retreat for PKK terrorists.
Quite a number of companies that had provided satellite uplink facilities for Med-TV finally dropped the channel. Of course, Med-TV said they were bowing to Turkish pressure, even though it's unclear what kind of pressure the Turkish government could exert on, for instance, a Polish company (Sat-ND, 3.7.96.)
Admittedly, Turkish daily Cumhuriyet wrote on August 14, 1996 that "Med TV broadcasts were interrupted a while ago as a result of Turkish pressure on the countries providing broadcasting facilities to the channel known to spread PKK propaganda." But that was probably nothing but propaganda, too.
Med-TV in addition claims to have been jammed several times over the past few years. Hikmet Tabak, MED-TV's principal director, accused the Turkish government of "satellite terrorism." As a matter of fact, Turkish "Foreign Ministry officials have stressed that they will exert every effort to prevent the channel from resuming broadcasts" (Cumhuriyet.) So, maybe it's satellite terrorism against real terrorism.
I'm of course not trying to say that the 20 million Kurds in Turkey and other countries are not being oppressed. In fact they are, and in my opinion they do not only deserve a TV channel but also a state of their own. I have my doubts about Med-TV though, and those doubts were raised when I saw children posing with weapons on that channel. They were singing, and even though I didn't understand a word, I guess they weren't singing about the sun and and the moon and the birds and the bees.
I think Wired should do some re-wiring and at least have their electricians, er, writers do some 30 minutes of Internet research before writing anything. It might just give you a broader perspective. The Med-TV issue is by no means one of the good-guys-fight-bad-guys stories Americans like so much. Unless, maybe, they're told that the "good guys" actually propagate communist views and have killed people in the past and reserve the right to do so in future, but there's no word about that in the Wired article.
Wired article <http://www.wired.com/news/news/culture/story/8753.html>
Med TV Web site <http://www.ib.be/med/intro.htm>
Turkish Press Review, 96-08-14 <http://www.hri.org/news/turkey/trkpr/96-08-14.trkpr.html#13>
Verfassungsschutzbericht 1996 (German) <http://www.verfassungsschutz.nrw.de/jahr96/4_2.htm>
USELESS FACT: During World War II, W.C. Fields kept US$50,000 in Germany 'in case the little bastard wins'.
According to a German magazine, pay-TV operator Premiere will for the time being stop selling decoders for its digital service Premiere Digital following a complaint of EU commissioner Karel Van Miert ("Super Karel".)
The EU commission had recently warned Premiere, which teamed up with former competitor KirchGruppe, to market the Nokia-manufactured d-box that was introduced in Germany by Kirch (Sat-ND, 30.11.97.)
Both groups reportedly agreed to stop selling the d-box until the EU commission has cleared the deal that will combine both company's digital activities, in effect creating what critics call a digital TV monopoly in Germany.
Simultaneously, German news magazine "Der Spiegel" will report in its next issue out next Monday that software pirates have anyway cracked Kirch's DF1 as well as Premiere Digital. Pirate cards were already being offered on the Internet, the magazine said. Happy hacking, guyz!
USELESS FACT: A person from Glasgow is called a Glaswegian.
Copyright 1997 by Peter C. Klanowski, pck@LyNet.De. All rights reserved.
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