My lawyers are still working on the joke Patrick sent me. Good news is that at least they don't really consider it pornographic. In the meantime, Vittoria Ripa di Meana reports about somebody else who's been knockin' on heaven's door lately.
Bill Gates dies and goes to the Pearly Gates (sic) where he meets St Peter, who says he will show Bill heaven and hell and will offer him the choice. Bill goes down to hell and sees a tropical island with people having a great time in the sun. Then, he goes to heaven and sees just a dull collection of clouds.
Not surprisingly, Bill chooses hell.
A week later, St Peter visits Bill in hell and finds him chained up in a dungeon, beaten up and starving. "What happened, St Peter?" Bill groans. "This wasn't what you showed me the first time..."
"Oh sorry, Bill," says St Peter, "That was just the demo..."
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Hughes Space and Communications Co. will launch its 50th HS 376 satellite next week Thursday when an Ariane rocket will put BSAT-1b in orbit, the second of two satellites built by Hughes for Broadcasting Satellite System Corporation of Tokyo (B-SAT).
The satellite will be an in-orbit backup to BSAT-1a at 110° E, which was launched almost exactly a year ago. The satellites provide home entertainment broadcasting services to B-SAT's more than 10 million customers. The 48-minute launch window for the spin-stabilised HS 376 spacecraft is scheduled to open at 7:53 p.m. on Tuesday, April 28 (2253 UTC) at the European Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana.
The two satellites will provide four-channel viewing capabilities to homes with small, low-cost receiver dishes. Services available include NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corp.), WOWOW (Japan Satellite Broadcasting Inc.) and others.
Like BSAT-1a, BSAT-1b carries four active and four spare high-power transponders in Ku-band, using 106-watt travelling wave tube amplifiers. The contracted life of each is 10 years.
The live broadcast transmission will in North America be carried on Galaxy IV transponder No. 14. Enthusiasts in Europe will probably know which French Telecom satellite transmits Ariane launches; I unfortunately don't.
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Together with BSAT-1b, the Arab world's first broadcast satellite will be launched on behalf of the state-run Egyptian Satellite Co.
The satellite, for unknown reasons called Nilesat 101, is due to transmit Egyptian television and radio programmes over a range from North Africa to the Persian Gulf. Egypt has spent more than US$158 million for the satellite built by Matra Marconi Space, a backup satellite and two ground stations in Egypt as well as for the launch. Philippe Berterottiere, director of marketing for Arianespace, was quoted as saying "We expect them to talk about a second satellite quite soon."
Egypt Satellite Co. officials were quoted as saying that the operating company has already rented out spare channels to the ART Arabic-language network and the Showtime Group and is expected to sign a contract soon with Libyan Television. Much of the programming on the 21 channels reserved for Egypt will come from the modern Media Production City that the government has built outside Cairo.
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In addition to the Globalstar launch planned today, Boeing will also attempt the launch of five Iridium satellites aboard a Delta 2 from Vandenberg AFB on April 26 during a "simultaneous" window that opens at 7:14:21 p.m. ET.
That's probably something like April 27, 0014 UTC. Coverage is planned to be on Telstar 5/12.9050 GHz, transponder 12 vertical polarity, beginning at 6:45 p.m.
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GlobeCast North America (GNA) announced that it has acquired an additional 36 MHz of digital high-power C-band capacity on New Skies Satellites' Intelsat 806, the new hot bird offering a range of coverage from Europe to Latin America beginning May 15.
The new digital capacity is located on transponder 12B and can offer up to six channels using Scientific-Atlanta's PowerVu digital video compression system. GNA gained 36 MHz of similar capacity on adjacent transponder 12A with its acquisition of Hero Productions, a full-service international teleport and television production facility in Miami. Both leases are for 10 years.
GlobeCast North America, a subsidiary of France Telecom said in a press release that it was is the leading U.S.-based provider of domestic and global transmission services for video, audio and broadcast data applications. It also said that it was "Official Telecommunications Operator of the 1998 World Cup" although probably not many readers in North America will know what it's all about.
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Long-time readers will remember this so-called newsletter's coverage of the progress of Sky Station International. In short, this is a project that will use floating platforms hovering in the stratosphere to provide urban areas with Internet access.
Crazy? Not really. Sky Station International Inc. announced in a press release the official launch of its global industrial team with the signing of an agreement with Aerospatiale SNI of France for Phase B design and development of Sky Station International's platforms. The team also includes
Alenia Spazio/Finmeccanica of Italy as the primary payload developer;
Dornier Satellitensysteme GmbH in Germany -- a corporate unit of Daimler-Benz Aerospace -- as the supplier for several critical subsystems;
Comsat Laboratories of Maryland/USA as communications network integrator;
Thomson-CSF Communications of France as gateway earth station manufacturer and payload sub-contractor;
United Solar Systems Corp. of Michigan/USA as supplier of lightweight photovoltaic modules;
and Stanford Telecom of California/USA as one of the contractors for user terminals.
All of these companies' efforts will be co-ordinated by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which will provide end-to-end system integration. The entire project is valued at US$2.5 billion for a world-wide broadband infrastructure via Sky Station International's stratospheric platforms.
How it works
Sky Station International has pioneered technology enabling a solar powered lighter-than-air platform to remain stationary in the stratosphere. A telecommunications system onboard each Sky Station stratospheric platform delivers high-speed wireless communications (T-1 and E-1) directly to millions of subscribers within its 1,000 kilometer diameter footprint. Sky Station International's stratospheric telecommunications system is scheduled for launch in 2001 [earlier, it was expected to take up operations in 2000] with the deployment of platforms 21 kilometers above each of the world's major metropolitan areas. World-wide regulatory approval for the use of stratospheric platforms was granted by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in November 1997 and by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) earlier that year. National authorities have already filed registrations with the ITU for over 50 Sky Station platforms which will utilise frequencies around 47 GHz.
May I repeat something I wrote about a year ago: As always when extremely high frequencies are used, one has to be concerned about the influence of the local weather on the transmission quality -- no matter whether geostationary satellites, low Earth orbit satellites or floating platforms in the stratosphere are being used. What's known to us as "weather" takes place in significantly less heights (10 kilometres at most.)
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Maybe I should have selected the following press release as today's Joke Du Jour. I most certainly won't comment it. Or just a bit.
Christian radio in the Caribbean takes an historic step forward on April 26 when international Christian broadcaster Trans World Radio (TWR) launches its much-anticipated Caribbean Gospel Network (CGN).
English broadcasts currently aired by TWR from Bonaire and heard on a select group of islands will now be available by satellite downlink to other Gospel radio stations scattered throughout the entire region. This unique network will help "connect" the Christian community spread out in the Caribbean and will assist local radio stations to reach even more people with the Good News of Jesus Christ and to strengthen the Church. ...
Christian leaders applaud this state-of-the-art satellite phase. "I endorse the Caribbean Gospel Network," says the Reverend Gerry A. Seale, executive secretary of the Evangelical Association of the Caribbean, "because we can utilise existing technology to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to connect with each other, to learn about each other and, at long last, to have that sense of cohesion in the Body of Christ that we've never had before."
The Reverend Lambert Mills, president of the Caribbean Baptist Fellowship, adds: "There are so many needs in our region, and we have a lot of people who still need to hear the life-saving, life-transforming message of the Lord. ..."
[Amen. My body is also quite cohesive. When I just look at a chocolate cream cake I gain weight immediately. Wicked! Anyway, having been offering this so-called newsletter in English for some two years now, my life has sufficiently been transformed, believe you me ;-]
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The U.K. Department of Trade and Industry will progressively lift restrictions on British Telecommunications PLC and other public telecommunications operators that prevent them from offering national broadcast entertainment.
They will be allowed to provide nation-wide broadcasting services from January 1, 2001, lifting the current restriction a year earlier than expected, the Government announced today. Telecommunications operators should also immediately have the option to compete in providing broadcast entertainment to the 17% of U.K. homes currently outside cable franchise areas.
BT welcomed the Department of Trade's decision. It said customers of the new multimedia services will "reap the same benefits of competition as telecommunications customers." BT's U.K. Group Managing Director Bill Cockburn [interesting name... ouch! I'm so sorry for that rather discriminating and derogatory comment, especially as I know that last name is for obvious reasons usually pronounced "Coeburn", but I just couldn't control myself] also pointed out that broadcast services delivered over the Internet wouldn't be considered as a breach of the current restrictions.
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Good news: the end of the ill-fated digital TV for the blind in Germany may be near. Dieter Hahn, Managing Director of Bavarian media mogul Leo Kirch's KirchGroup reportedly said that unless the European Commission gave its blessing to the merger of its ailing digital TV company DF1 with Bertelsmann's Premiere, it would be the end of DF1. Let's hope so, and let's hope the same for Premiere.
Apart from that, my favourite news agency today found pleasure in spreading around statements as nonsensical as paranoiac by a certain Daniel Zimmermann, who calls himself director general of the Association of Commercial Television in Europe (ACT,) in favour of the planned digital de-facto monopoly in Germany.
That news agency was just for once accurate enough, however, to state that ACT represents 21 commercial television companies in Europe and that its president currently is Kirch's general manager, Jan Moito. Nudge nudge, wink wink.
By the way: the Sat-ND Good Taste Patrol, which strongly supports U.S.TV channels in Europe, has recently banned statements such as this made by Mr Zimmermann: "The mere fact DGIV [the EU Commission's competition directorate] wants two operators [in Germany] plays into the hands of the Americans." So the f--k what? That's called free market economy or *eek!* competition and is usually considered quite beneficial for consumers. Programming will undoubtedly be better than what Leo Kirch offers right now, and hopefully available at lower subscription fees.
More Zimmermannian soap bubbles
"The situation in Germany shows well that it is unclear whether there is room for one or two operators." -- I think it is more than unclear whether there's room for just a single digital pay-TV bouquet.
"What is wrong about having one group only in Germany during a transitory phase?" -- Can you believe this? An official of the Association of Commercial Television in Europe, whose members over the past few decades have been trying to break up public or state broadcasters' monopolies, asks for just that -- a monopoly that even, upon being successful, will self-destruct? You might as well believe in the man in the moon or watch the skies for Superman. How do they think they can get along with bullshit like that?
Even better: Zimmermann called on European governments to subsidise set-top boxes or even new TV sets, a demand which can only be called impertinent at best. If those digital guys want to recycle their stone-age b/w movies, let them pay for it themselves. There is no automatism whatsoever to the effect that digital TV will become a standard means of distribution all over the world.
On the contrary, let's just hope consumers will consign that dubious "innovation" to this so-called newsletter's very own proverbial dustbin of history, just as they did with D2-MAC, analogue video disks, the Digital Compact Cassette, BDB squariels, or the Beta video cassette system, to name just a few of the industry's or even governments' vain attempts to dictate upon consumers' preferences.
Consumers in Germany obviously do not want digital pay-TV. DF1's subscriber record is living proof of that, and that's why Mr Zimmermann finally resorts to calling for the government. How humiliating must it be for those pitiful, pathetic commercial broadcasters, who in the past have called themselves "free," to now have the nerve to call for government subsidies. In other words, they want tax payers' money for NOTHING. And that's your money and my money which will just enable them to better exploit the broadcasting rights they already own, not to offer a single second of new, innovative programming.
All that hypocrisy just makes me wanna puke my guts out. Get da f--k out you greedy morons!
Err... now dat wuz a good ol' rant&rave, I'm as mad as hell and I won't taik it anymowa Sat-ND style comment, wuznit? Just becuz it's national Beer Day in Germany today. Cheers!
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An international group of computer hackers who successfully broke into the telecommunications backbone of the U.S. military said they had also stolen key software programmes from NASA.
The group, which calls itself the "Masters of Downloading" or MOD, said its members broke into the system through the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, and gathered sufficient information to effectively disable any "intruder alert" system the agency's computers might have.
NASA reportedly had no immediate comment on the group's claims, although one official who had seen a list of the software allegedly stolen said "it doesn't look too alarming."
MOD announced earlier it had broken into another sensitive site, the Pentagon's Defense Information Systems Network (DISN) and stolen enough information to "take control" of military satellites such as the Global Positioning System (GPS) and other systems.
The U.S. Defense Department confirmed the intrusion had taken place but officials said the application downloaded was for management and records-keeping rather than anything that could perform a control function.
We'll see. MOD said it might consider selling the information to international terrorist groups or foreign governments, so maybe we're in for a bit of fun.
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