Sat-ND, 09.01.1998 Everything you wanted to know about Leonardo da Vinci (but were afraid to ask)
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God or Superman
I complained about a certain lack of response yesterday. In turn, I received an email by a reader who said he sent me loads of information which I chose to ignore.
Okay, I should have mentioned that earlier: Unfortunately, I had to take some strong measures against spammers. That means that in effect any email which is not directed either to pck@LyNet.De or firstname.lastname@example.org is immediately deleted from my email server. This is the only method I know that kills 99.9 percent of commercial spam.
That also means that any information you send me using the CC or BCC fields of your email software will most likely not get through to me.
I am quite aware of the fact that I do not receive every single email directed to me, but sorry: that's the way the Internet is today.
USELESS FACT: Like gentlemen, mosquitoes prefer blondes.
Yesterday, I was quoting reports on the possible use of Astra 1G for BSkyB's planned digital package. The satellite operator, so it seems, knows nothing about those plans.
I have learned from sources close to SES that Astra 2A will indeed not be launched in January. That is no surprise, but interestingly the source said it was not only depending on the availability of the Proton launcher (which is currently under investigation following the loss of Asiasat.)
Bad news for Mr Murdoch: the source said that Astra 1G will definitely not, not even temporarily, replace 2A but stay at its current position 19.2° E. Otherwise several customers would lose their transponders "just because of a digital bouquet that is broadcast to an initially very small part of the UK's population."
So, there you have it: don't believe anything you read, especially not this so-called news letter.
USELESS FACT: Leonardo da Vinci could write with one hand and draw with the other at the same time.
Telstra of Australia has announced the signing of an agreement with ICO Global Communications to play a key role in the delivery of ICO global hand-held satellite communications services for launch in the year 2000.
The agreement, valued at just under A$60 million, will give Telstra responsibility for the operation and maintenance of ICO's only Australian Satellite Access Node (SAN), one of twelve world-wide sites that will support its satellite system.
The Telstra SAN will help provide the space-earth interface with ICO's 12 satellites and interconnection with existing terrestrial public telephony, data and mobile networks.
The SAN will be built alongside Telstra's 24-hour Customer Service Centre facility at Ningi, north of Brisbane. Site development and construction are underway.
The Telstra SAN will be one of only six centres world-wide that will host a satellite telemetry tracking and control facility, vital to managing ICO's multimillion-dollar space assets.
USELESS FACT: Leonardo da Vinci invented an alarm clock that woke the sleeper by rubbing their feet.
Hungarian Broadcasting Corp (HBC) purchased New York based Global Television Networks Inc (GTN,) the owner of Sziv Television, a European national satellite-to-cable broadcaster for stock.
The smaller the companies, the more complicated the details. You may be interested in these facts first:
GTN is a distributor of paid adult television programming, holding long-term contracts with United Phillips cable operators in Vienna and Amsterdam and long-term contracts with Russia's NTV network. Sziv Television services 1.5 million television households in Budapest and roughly 140 cable companies via satellite distribution in the rest of Hungary.
HBC has run the MSat regional commercial television station in the Budapest area for almost two years. Both MSat and Sziv Tv, two of five Hungarian-language regional commercial stations in the Budapest area, posted undisclosed profits last year. Both are US-registered private ventures.
As part of the deal,GTN has committed to provide US$1.75 million in cash to be used as working capital and for expanding operations. Hungarian Satellite Corp was spun off to Hungarian Broadcasting shareholders.
Among them, what a coincidence, is Offer Assis, the chief executive officer of GTN who bought 300,000 shares from Peter Klenner, chairman of Hungarian Broadcasting. Assis was elected president and CEO of Hungarian Broadcasting, while Klenner remains chairman of the newly expanded company's board of directors.
USELESS FACT: Leonardo Da Vinci invented the scissors.
Yes, there's still a C-band satellite industry in the U.S., for example HBO Direct and Turner Home Satellite.
As a result of the merger of Time Warner and Turner, both are now Time Warner companies. The only surprise element in both companies' announcement to "consolidate" their businesses immediately is that it took them so long.
"It makes good business sense," said Vinnie Bauer, senior vice president, HBO. "Since the Time Warner/Turner merger last year, HBO Direct and Turner Home Satellite have been looking at ways to make our retail businesses more efficient."
USELESS FACT: Leonardo da Vinci played the viola.
A recently passed law allows commercial radio and television stations in the West African country Togo.
There are some conditions, though: "in all private radio or television ventures, at least 51 percent of the capital should be held by nationals and 80 percent of the staff should be Togolese."
The new law also deals with punishment for "insulting or defaming the head of state" by journalists which until now was good for a five-year prison term. This has been reduced to one to three months of a suspended prison sentence and/or a fine of the equivalent of 1,700 and 3,300 dollars.
USELESS FACT: Leonardo da Vinci spent twelve years painting Mona Lisa's lips.
Do TV sets and VCRs pollute the atmosphere? Yes, they do indirectly.
Even when switched off, those appliances use electric energy worth US$500 million in the USA alone. Producing that amount of energy sets off 5,000,000,000 kg (5 million tonnes) of carbon dioxide.
Leading television manufacturers have now agreed to produce energy-efficient TVs and VCRs in an "environmental pact" with the U.S. government's Environmental Protection Agency.
Under the agreement with the EPA, TV makers will beginning producing televisions and VCRs that use one-half to three-quarters less electricity while on "standby." They will carry an "Energy Star" label that certifies that they are more energy efficient. (You may know that label from your computer it is displayed while booting when its BIOS supports certain energy saving functions.)
"These agreements are a great example of government and business working together to improve energy efficiency, save consumers money, create new economic opportunities and protect the environment," said U.S. vice president Al Gore.
USELESS FACT: William Blake, Winston Churchill, and John Lennon were all ordained druids.
No, this is not about whether 1997 was the hottest or the coldest year. It's about whether digital TV will be accepted by consumers, a question which probably is even harder to answer.
But what's digital TV? A recently published survey conducted on behalf of the UK's reception equipment manufacturer Pace says that almost two thirds of those asked didn't even know what digital TV was.
I will spare you most of the details. The figures, at least those published by Pace, show no general enthusiasm for digital TV. Pace summed it up like that: "Consumers across the country have confirmed that they are prepared to embrace a wide range of services made possible by the introduction of digital television in April next year..."
On the other hand, Newsbytes' Steve Gold recently wrote that the survey "will have TV executives crying into their stock option portfolio. Despite all the hullaboo surrounding digital TV, Pace has concluded that the technology is something of a no-no in the short term mainly because of the cost issues."
He also noted that the "digital TV proponents also appear to have got their sums wrong when it comes to gauging demand for interactive services."
After all, even the subsidised price of £300 per set-top box is too high, says the Pace survey £199 is more likely what buyers will be ready to pay.
We'll have more on that later, but first here's an appalling finding of the Pace study: "25 percent of all parents had noticed their children behaving in an anti social manner after watching particular videos or television programmes. [...] The younger the child the greater the impact on behaviour."
Executive summaries of The Pace Report <http://www.pace.co.uk/proffice/uk/prsrel/execsum.htm>
USELESS FACT: Al Capone's business card said he was a used furniture dealer.
Sales of digital television sets [for terrestrial reception] would quadruple if manufacturers lower prices, according to a new survey sponsored by A.T. Kearney, Inc., a global management consulting firm.
Results of the consumer survey, which polled 1,000 U.S. households show that price is the most critical variable driving consumer purchases of digital television sets. At a premium of US$1,000 over analogue television sets, only six percent said they were likely to buy a digital set. But when the premium fell to US$500, the number of potential buyers jumped to 24 percent.
Unless the sets become more affordable, most consumers are likely to wait years after digital television service has been introduced before buying a digital television set.
Major broadcasters will introduce a new digital television broadcasting service in 1998. Consumers will need to purchase a digital television or a converter box to take advantage of the new services. The new digital broadcasting is to replace the 50-year-old analogue service.
The survey also found that a sizeable percentage of consumers would drop their cable or satellite service if they could receive numerous channels free through digital television. Because price is such a concern to consumers, the price of a digital set could be offset by the reduction in monthly payments for cable or satellite service.
A.T. Kearney online <http://www.atkearney.com/>
USELESS FACT: Seven thousand people die from food poisoning every year in the U.S., and another seven million get ill from eating contaminated food.
Finally, satellite digital television has been launched in Georgia, reported Itar-Tass.
The news agency said that television broadcasts through the new system will be received in 15 countries -- Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, Moldavia, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, Iran and Iraq.
The system was initiated by the Georgian communications ministry. Frankly, I don't have any idea what it is all about. Maybe it's just a new channel which is distributed digitally.
USELESS FACT: It's against the law to slap an old friend on the back in Georgia (USA.)
Here's more from those "industry sources" that keep my favourite news agency happy... and me busy.
Britain's Carlton Communications Plc and Granada Group Plc plan to spend at least £550 million total over twelve years on their digital TV joint venture British Digital Broadcasting (BDB,) slated for launch next autumn. One of those industry sources was quoted as saying BDB would spend about £150 million to promote and subsidise the 15-channel service in the first two-and-a-half years.
There were no comments from BDB, by the way.
USELESS FACT: The movie "Paris, Texas" was banned in the city of Paris, Texas, shortly after its box office release.
DirecTV and Thomson Consumer Electronics recently demonstrated satellite-delivered HDTV programming planned for the fall of 1998. The companies said it was the first satellite transmission ever of HDTV program material.
Well, maybe in the U.S.; to my knowledge there have been other satellite-based HDTV transmissions in other countries. I just don't feel like checking that, but I'm pretty sure.
The RCA 61-inch projection TV set used in the demonstration is expected to have an entry retail price of around US$7,000, said James E. Meyer, COO and Executive Vice President, Thomson Consumer Electronics.
Thomson announced plans for a more active position in digital television that includes additional HDTV receivers and HDTV product support for the broadcasting industry, supplying HDTV encoders to broadcasters and other distributors of programming. The encoders will be available in late summer of this year.
"The joint announcement by DirecTV and Thomson will put HDTV programming in 48 states simultaneously, and open the way for national demonstrations of the new technology at participating dealers. It will be an opportunity to turn every dealer sales floor into an HDTV movie theatre," Meyer said.
USELESS FACT: Gay men who successfully joined the British Navy used to be called "reverse malingerers."
In yesterday's Sat-ND, we were discussing the question whether 1997 was the warmest year so far or rather the coldest. This is a satellite topic, by the way, as satellites collect many of the data that scientists then have to interpret.
And they do it quite differently. Thomas Karl, a senior scientist with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, still thinks it was the warmest year. The data on which his research team based its report includes readings from a greater variety of altitudes, locations, and years than the figures cited by the Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP) which said is was the coldest year.
However, Karl said that his team examined land- and ocean-based readings that go back as far as 1900, and land-based readings that date from 1880. SEPP, on the other hand, used only satellite-collected data since 1979.
Anyway: I hope NOAA is right because I just can't stand cold weather.
USELESS FACT: John Paul Getty, once the richest man in the world, had a payphone in his mansion.
On of the recent Useless Facts was that "'Polish' is the only word in the English language that when capitalised is changed from a noun or a verb to a nationality [which is an adjective, I guess.]"
P Gillingwater sent me these:
Welsh (to "welsh" on a bet)
Yank (to "yank" your chain.... :-)
Okay, "finish" misses an n, and I'm strict with that; "welsh" is derogatory; and "Yank" ("Yankee") is understood differently in British and American English. That's at least what the Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary of Current English says. Does anybody have any more?
USELESS FACT: Neutering a cat extends its life span by two or three years.
Commenting, or rather: not commenting on a "strategic alliance" of International Christian broadcasters Back to the Bible (BTTB) and Trans World Radio (TWR), I noted that "all this is so silly I just can't comment it without running the risk of simply laughing myself to death."
Lasse Lasanen asked me "Exactly what is so silly? Christian faith? You laugh at me because I an a Christian? You laugh at all my fellow-Christians? Why?
"Personal Christian faith is not just an ideology. It is a new life far better than a life without Jesus. Spreading this message over the airwaves is the best possible use of RF bandwidth. In satellites as well as over SW, MW or any frequency band."
I'd prefer hard core porn channels all over, actually, even on radio! Make love, not war and Christians (and other religions as well, of course) have in the past centuries proven that they're rather inclined to make war than love. I dare say that religious wars over the past 2000 years or so have killed more people than anything else and they still do! Judging from their criminal record, i.e. eradicating whole nations from the face of this Earth, some religions (which I am not going to name) actually should have been banned as terrorist organisations centuries ago.
You see, this is the problem I have with religion in general. Personally, I couldn't care less if you "believe in God above or watch the skies for Superman" [Joe Jackson.] Believe in a broomstick, if that makes you feel better. My suggestion, by the way, is that you should believe in yourself.
Many religions unfortunately claim they're universal, though, and that means they have to go out and convert the heathen. That's where the trouble starts, because this is not what I'd call showing tolerance and respect, even if they use peaceful means to spread their "good news" instead of slaughtering unbelievers as in earlier times.
I agree with you: this is nothing to laugh about [in my remark, I was just referring to the pretentious language of that press release.] All this is instead something to be deeply worried about.
USELESS FACT: 25 percent of Americans believe in ghosts. 10 percent claim to have seen one.
Copyright 1998 by Peter C. Klanowski, pck@LyNet.De. All rights reserved.
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