Nah, I don't really wanna talk about the temporary ban imposed on Sat-ND by the EU Commission's Office of Silly Newsletters. Neither will I comment on jokes with explicit sexual contents anymore. You disappointed me, really, but I can take that <g>
Hey, all you Roman Catholics: if you want some REAL smut including incest, men who (like the hyper-wise King Solomon) have 700 wives and 300 concubines, adultery, hills of foreskin, people who "eat their own dung and drink their own piss," [KI 18:27, IS 36:12 (KJV)] -- just read the Holy Bible (Old Testament) instead! Yes, it's all there.
Loads of gratuitous violence, too. 1SA 18:27: David murders 200 Philistines, then cuts off their foreskins. There's even some cannibalism! KI 6:29 "So we cooked my son and ate him. The next day I said to her, 'Give up your son so we may eat him,' but she had hidden him." Too bad! Maybe he would have even tasted even better? Yummy! Crunchy children. Barbecue your sons, all you Christians, but don't forget to add some curry!
So all you
dirty perverts out there, believe in GOD, Jesus
and the holy something!
Join the Roman Catholic Church today!
They understand your needs. There's a tiny exception, though. Male homosexuals need not apply as the OT decrees that they are to be put to death (LE 20:13; female homosexuality is not considered in the OT.)
Note that modern bible translations may have been bowdlerised, but already the King James Version says "stones" when the original text reads "testicles."
Oops... I got carried away a bit. So sorry. However, if you want more details, I'll set up a Bible section within this so-called newsletter. Better not ask for it, it's too disgusting.
Let me draw your attention to today's LAW & ORDER section instead. It contains two contributions by readers reacting on my recent comments about DVB in particular and copyright issues in general. While the first one adds some details about DVB zone codes (and how to work around them :-), the second one is a comment that at first glimpse deals with DVB as well. You will at closer scrutiny discover that it's not only me who thinks that all the digital revolution nonsense is more or less just about selling you the the same old stuff over and over again.
by I R Baboon
No go for two Iridiums in China. I R not confuse with five Iridiums in USA.
Heap wind? No. Heap vapor? No. Bad weather! Maybe weather better Friday. Try again then. Funny little figures read 0922 UTC. I R not know what means.
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News agency Itar-Tass reported that Russia's strategic rocket forces launched a satellite into Earth orbit for the Defence Ministry.
The satellite Kosmos-2350 was put into what looks a geostationary transfer orbit by a rocket of the Proton class from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. There are contradicting reports, but an orbit with an apogee of almost 36,000 kilometers is rather unlikely to be a circular low-Earth orbit as my favourite news agency claimed.
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As reported by my good old friend Quentin J Esrom in his Serious and Sensible Satellite News, Hughes Global Services (HGS) is currently trying to put the ill-fated Asiasat 3 into a geosynchronous orbit with the help of a moon-flyby.
There's not much to add to that story expect the URLs where you can get more information. First of all, Hughes Global Services has a Web site at http://www.hughesglobal.com/.
Secondly, you can find out about the current status of the mission on Analytical Graphics Inc.'s Web site at http://www.stk.com/asiasat3/. Why there?
To prepare for the mission, HGS has been using Analytical Graphics' STK/Navigator software, which has been instrumental in planning the series of manoeuvres that will "swing the spacecraft around the moon and move it into a more practical plane." There are quite a few nice pictures there, and you can even check the satellite's current position.
By the way: AGI said in a statement that "The software enabled Hughes engineers to determine the fuel burns needed to boost the satellite's apogee and allow it to perform the swing-by."
Compare that to what Ronald V. Swanson, HGS president, said in a press release: "Because this has never been done before, we don't know exactly how much propellant we'll use. We've made our best estimates, based on 35 years of building and operating satellites, as well as on computer models, but there are no guarantees."
(Thanks to Marcello Berengo Gardin for the URLs.)
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The European Space Agency ESA in a press release warned computer users from what it called the Sunspot Bug. The ESA/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) can't prevent that but forecast dangerous coronal mass ejections.
Good news first: ESA and NASA have decided to extend the SOHO mission to 2003. This means that SOHO, having observed the sun in its quietest state in 1996, will also see it at its most tumultuous, when the count of dark sunspots on the sun's face rises to a maximum around the year 2000. There's an eleven-year solar cycle that determines the sun's activity, which affects all kinds of electrical and electronic equipment on Earth.
During the last sunspot maximum, in 1989-91, solar storms caused power failures in Canada and Sweden and destroyed or damaged several satellites. Some computers crashed as a result of impacts by solar particles. Since then the human species has become more dependent upon satellites and computers, and advanced microchips are more vulnerable to the sun's electromagnetic effects and particles.
To the Millennium Bug, a problem involving software in the transition to the year 2000, one must add the physical threat of the sunspot bug, ESA said in a press release. However, the Millennium bug is really no problem for 99.9 percent of modern software, and it remains to be seen whether computers in a metal casing will suffer problems. On the other hand, many other modern gadgets use microprocessors and memory chips, including TV sets, satellite receivers, mobile phones, etc. They're usually not shielded.
How SOHO can help
SOHO is the world's chief watchdog for the sun. From a special vantage point 1.5 million kilometres out in space, where the sun never sets, the spacecraft observes solar activity for 24 hours a day. Its images go to the regional warning centres of the International Space Environment Service, which alert engineers responsible for power systems, spacecraft and other technological systems to impending effects on the Earth's environment.
SOHO also performs some 'fundamental' research and has in the meantime come up with quite a few surprises:
Steady wind speeds of 15 kilometres per second and gusts ten times faster (which means 500,000 kilometres per hour) occur in newly-found solar tornadoes.
Magnetic waves heat up the sun's atmosphere which reaches temperatures of millions of degrees C, compared with less than 6000 degrees at the sun's visible surface.
SOHO instruments found sub-surface 'jet streams' of super-hot gas which can be thought of as rivers inside the sun. They may play a role in the sun's 11-year cycle of sunspot activity.
It was also discovered that interstellar atoms that become charged and accelerated in encounters with the solar wind--some 'tennis' with hydrogen atoms. Even a helium breeze from outer space has been detected.
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In a movie to be released on May 8, the NBC-Microsoft joint venture will make be featured--as a station that withholds important news. Unlike CNN, MSNBC seems to have no problems with that.
Okay, it's yet another Spielberg movie, and it's about a comet approaching the Earth. [How exciting, never seen any movie on that subject before, ha ha.] It's more or less about a White House reporter who uncovers a secret contingency plan but agrees to withhold the story at the president's request.
Let's face it: they probably would all be doing that for the sake of 'national security.' However, CNN didn't want to be depicted that way, and that's how MSNBC got the role. CNN spokesman Steve Haworth said the network's new review committee turned down the request because it was an "inappropriate vehicle for CNN to be involved in," adding "that's not how we would cover the news."
The CNN committee was set up after the network had been critisised for allowing its reporters and anchors to appear in "The Lost World: Jurassic Park" and other films. While MSNBC only said it wouldn't allow their reporters to appear in movies, the major U.S. networks ABC, CBS and NBC said they won't lend their network names to fictional newscasts.
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by Giuseppe Salza
The problem with DVD lies in the fact that there are 6 zones:
Zone 1 -- North America
Zone 2 -- Europe, Japan, South Africa and the Middle East
Zone 3 -- Hong Kong and the Far East
Zone 4 -- Australia and the Pacific, South America, Caribbean
Zone 5 -- Russia, Africa, India
Zone 6 -- China
It works like this: DVD players read the regional code of the disc. If the code is different from theirs, they will refuse to play the disc. The only exception: the discs coded "Zone All". In Europe, the first batch of DVD discs has been released earlier this month. In France, Italy or Benelux there are already some 40 titles available, all of them Zone 2 (as the players). European players don't work with U.S. discs, but they do play Japanese DVDs, provided your TV likes NTSC. [How many Europeans speak Japanese?--Ed.]
The general assumption of insiders is that Regional Coding is a hypocritical system set in place to provide some kind of pro-forma "official" protection. In practice, many many shops in Europe currently ship modified players that are able to play all zones (also called "dezoned" players.) Debating whether this is legal or not is besides the purpose of this post. The fact remains that--as those involved say--modifying a DVD isn't apparently much harder than, say, devising a gizmo which allows Sony's PlayStation to play imported games.
I've read that breaking the protection on first generation DVD players was very easy. The current second generation models are reported to be a bit tougher, but not too much. In fact, some of those have already been dezoned. Besides, many shops say that they can circumvent Macrovision protection for a price.
Fact is that, if you go to the Virgin Megastore on the Champs-Elysées right now, you'll find plenty of Zone 1 films on DVD. Their policy: "we only sell titles which aren't officially released in Europe on DVD yet". Even if you live in a small town, you won't have trouble finding a shop which sells by mail-order zone 1 discs or U.S. players, and modified all-zone European models. My impression is that Regional Coding is only there as a sort of measure to prevent parallel imports from exceeding a certain share. People who don't want too much hassle can stick with official Zone 2 DVDs. Movie buffs and true fans won't have any problems to access all the 6 zones.
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by Chris Billington
Anti-copying measures aimed at consumers are more related to making the consumer pay multiple times for the same material on different media and in different territories than preventing copyright abuse.
Very few people are going to make 'high-quality' digital copies and give or sell them to their friends, in quantities that would materially affect the revenues of the copyright owners (usually not the original producers, of course, but people who have paid for the rights and now want to squeeze maximum cash out of them).
These guys won't be happy until we have to pay a fee via smartcard every time we listen to or view their 'classic' material. It's only a matter of time before radio sets with smartcard slots appear...
The real hole in the argument is shown when the activities of organised commercial pirates are considered. Here in Hong Kong, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ICAC) just arrested a senior Customs official in an operation simultaneous with a customs raid on a pirate VCD 'factory'. A whole production line of brand-new high-tech equipment was seised--including a 'stamper' machine that is used for putting on copy protection, 'country' [or 'zone'] protection and other codes, and a DVD authoring system/pressing plant.
Several million pirate VCDs were seised. The production capacity of the factory is 1.2 million copies a day... This is just one factory, in the rural New Territories of Hong Kong--China itself is dotted with them too. Let's say there are 100 just for the China market. For consumer copy-protection to have an equivalent effect, 120 million consumers in China would have to be making copies at the rate of one a day. The argument is analogous to that for free trade versus protection and tariffs.
If the material was priced at a reasonable level, everyone who wanted one could afford a copy at a price they wanted to pay, and the pirates and copiers would have no reason to exist. The artificially-raised prices of this recycled material imposed by the new 'copyright owners' (it's called 'leveraging the back catalogue') lead to copying, i.e. smuggling.
What worries the MBA-toting media execs is that they are closing the stable door after the horse has long gone. They are attempting to raise prices by retrospectively limiting supply of a good that was formerly available for much less (e.g. 'free to air' TV and radio). There is so little quality new material on offer that in order to meet their business plans 90% of their catalogue is recycled, so millions of copies already exist 'out there'. Ironically, since consumers of pirate material are the least choosy about quality, the argument that consumer copy protection is now necessary because digital technology makes 'perfect' copies possible (DVD? Perfect??) is weak.
Apparently the bootleg VCD's of 'Titanic' now available just about everywhere in Asia were made by pointing a video camera at the screen in the cinema, and come complete with popcorn-munching, coke-burping and farting sound effects...
Have you noticed how much more consumers of 'digital media' are paying for the same level of 'leisure entertainment' than they did 15 years ago--but half of it is the same stuff they were consuming then? Yet they're still paying advertising costs in their supermarket basket, or their TV licence to the state channels. Funny that...!
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Chris Billington also drew my attention to yet another rather odd digital disc activity: pay per view discs.
It sounds rather sensible in the first place. Instead of going to a video shop, renting a video cassette and having to bring it back next Monday, you buy a disc the size of a CD for less than US$5. Inserted to a special player, it will allow you to watch a movie for 48 hours after having inserted the disc for the first time. The system is called Digital Video Express, or Divx for short.
Divx-equipped players will play all standard DVD discs, but the lower-cost Divx rental discs cannot be played on standard DVD players. The system seems to have an advantage over renting video cassettes: The consumer owns the disc and is therefore never required to return it, eliminating all late fees. On the other hand, this is of course a waste of valuable resources (unless Divx also offers some disc recycling. They probably don't, but neither does AOL, methinks.)
The viewing period can be extended, and for many titles, consumers will be able, through the player, to convert a disc to unlimited viewing for a one-time fee.
However, some say that "When you currently purchase a video, laser disc, or open DVD, that disc is yours. You can watch it over and over and over again as many times as you want (or your family can tolerate). You can also watch it today, tomorrow, next week, or even next year! Divx discs expire after two days!"
True, but at US$5 it's much cheaper than any video you actually buy. There's no real difference to any rental video, expect that the two-day period starts whenever you want it, and that you don't have to return the medium. Still, you can convert it to a real DVD anytime you want to. In this case, I don't really know what the fuss is all about (except that I don't like the thought wasting resources, but maybe some hackerz may turn up with a method to convert Divx discs into working DVDs.)
The main resistance, of course, seems to come from video rental shops who are afraid their profits might fold as with the Divx model the money goes to Digital Video Express instead--especially when customers decide to extend their viewing time or even buy the disc.
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by Glenn Flaherty
Late one night, a burglar broke into a house that he thought was empty. He tiptoed through the living room but suddenly he froze in his tracks when he heard a loud voice say: "Jesus is watching you."
Silence returned to the house, so the burglar crept forward again. "Jesus is watching you," the voice boomed again. The burglar stopped dead again. He was frightened. Frantically, he looked all around. In a dark corner, he spotted a bird cage and in the cage was a parrot.
He asked the parrot: "Was that you who said Jesus is watching me?" "Yes", said the parrot. The burglar breathed a sigh of relief, then he asked the parrot: "What's your name?" "Clarence," said the bird. "That's a dumb name for a parrot," sneered the burglar.
"What idiot named you Clarence?" The parrot said, "The same idiot who named the Rottweiler Jesus."
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