Monday, May 31, 2004

Dutch Connection in Amsterdam

Live in Amsterdam?

Then you might be interested in a brainstorming group called Dutch Connection.

What was that music?

This link lets you find the music used in UK commercials..

MIT Media Lab launching consumer electronics push

The new initiative is aimed at injecting media technology from the fabled Media Lab into the mainstream of the consumer electronics market. The deal will augment MIT's sponsor program and is aimed at giving small- and medium-sized companies access to technology across a wide spectrum of emerging media technologies. [Tomalak's Realm]

Radio in developing countries, post WSIS Geneva

Interesting arguments here in this brochure from the PANOS branch in London. PANOS is an NGO specializing in radio for developing countries.

French broadcast concession ends in fiasco

Story buried? Back in January the Argentine government revoked Thales Spectrum's US$500 million concession to run Argentina's radio spectrum for broadcast TV, radio and other services after the French defense electronics company allegedly failed to meet 75% of the contract obligations. The task for regulating the airwaves will revert to the state. The deal goes back to 1997 when Argentina was one of the first countries in the world to privatise spectrum management. The contract was for 15 years. Wonder why it took them so long to discover 75% was wrong?? And why has it gone soooo quiet?

Gillian's Notes

Fascinating.....before they disappear.

10 Reasons not to shop on line

With all the hype at the coming of web commerce, web sales still pale in comparison to bricks-and-mortar, and for good reason. Commercial websites are still, in the main, scary, difficult, and undependable.

Responsibility for many e-commerce problems lies with designers. Responsibility for others lies with engineers, marketers, managers, and executives who are willing to accept mediocrity or worse.

I’m confident these companies' sales outcomes reflect the poor quality of their sites. I’m amazed that their sales divisions continue to put up with it, but perhaps, with so many bad examples out there, they think their companies are doing the best they can. They aren't.

Click the headlines for more from this interesting article....

Paranormal Shortwave Listeners

Beware of guys with radios tuning the (increasingly) empty spaces between 3 & 30 MHz, looking for voices from the dead. Dead boring may be? No, these guys are serious, even though they don't own a spelling checker.

Shortwave Radar Expands

Interesting to see the Australians/New Zealanders are putting such an effort into an environmental radar. The antennas looks serious!

The Tasman International Geospace Environment Radar (Radar) is a dual HF radar system with overlapping foot-prints designed to map ionospheric motions by detecting ionospheric scatter. The first radar was set up on Bruny Island, Tasmania at the end of 1999 and development of the second radar to be placed near Invercargill, NZ, has begun. TIGER is part of the Super Dual Auroral Radar Network (SuperDARN) which currently consists of 15 radars deployed in the northern and southern hemispheres.

WTOP's Fantastic Jumble Sale

Following the link, I discovered that one of the great AM stations in Washington DC has a transmitter site clinging on to the past.

Those are serious transcription turntables..... I'm sure some museum would find those useful at some stage. I'm sure a lot more stations have treasures hiding out at the transmitter site. What are those engineers doing all day?

Supernova 2004

I've seen Kevin Werbach speak at a conference in Amsterdam and was impressed.

Check this out

Radio spectrum may be one of the most tightly regulated resources of all time. From cellphones to police scanners, from TV sets to garage-door openers, virtually every wireless device depends on access to the radio frequency wireless spectrum. But access to spectrum has been chronically limited ever since RF transmissions were first regulated in the early 20th century. Now that's all about to change. New technologies that use spectrum more efficiently and more cooperatively, unleashed by regulatory reforms, may soon overcome the spectrum shortage.


Best book on Afghanistan

Edward Giradet has put one of the best references on Afghanistan. If you want to understand what's going on there, it beats the other stuff by miles. I have no connection with Edward, just read the book that's all. Highly recommended.

Aussies Pull Broadband out of Air

Denizens down under can now get a wireless service with a range much greater than Wi-Fi and speeds much faster than cellular. If the service takes off in Australia, it could spread to other parts of the world. Patrick Gray reports from Sydney. [Wired News]

Internet on the mobile? Not in Holland

Figures released in the annual reports of the Dutch phone companies like KPN the Dutch branch of Vodafone indicates the data services are still only a fraction of the turnover, despite heavy ad campaigns. In 2003, KPN reported the turnover in the dataservices was just 192 million Euro, compared to 135 million the previous year. The total turnover is 2.3 billion. KPN has made a lot of noise about the fact that it put nearly 900,000 i-mode handsets into the market, but most people just use them for SMS services - perhaps because not enough shop assistants can demo what the phone can do?

Vodafone has a similar story. 165 million turnover (120 in 2002) in data services, largest proportion was also SMS. Total market in the Netherlands for mobile phones was 5.4 billion Euro, 14% more than 2002. In a country of 16 million, there seem to be 13,1 million mobile phones. German T-mobile grew the fastest in the Netherlands, with a 15.1% share in 2003. Source: Dutch press bureau ANP

WiMax will be a major competitor to broadcasters....

Alcatel and Intel® recently announced a strategic alliance for the definition, the standardization, the development, the integration and the marketing of WiMAX end to end solutions. This alliance will deliver solutions by second half 2005.

WiMAX can be deployed in emerging markets and developed countries, both in urban and rural areas. It offers either broadband access where DSL cannot reach customers for technical or economical reasons, a last-mile alternative for competitive operators with a combined voice and broadband access offer, or nomadic access complementary to GSM / EDGE, Wi-Fi and 3G.

One of the many topics of discussion at SuperNova 2004 which I plan to attend.

Summertime Blues.....

Sometimes a piece of equipment seems to last longer than the manual....which is silly if you want to try and reporgramme something like a clock in a radio. It seems offers lots of manuals for$3 plus shipping/handling. And is a good source for ham radio manuals, all free of charge (as a PDF file).

Any other great sources I'm missing?

Future of newspapers and their websites

Excellent essay in the On Line Journalism review. Written by Vin Crosbie....

The bad case of bronchitis suffered by Chang Bunker probably didn't alarm his brother Eng, despite their being conjoined at the chest. Born in the kingdom of Siam in 1811, the 63-year-old brothers -- who inspired the term "Siamese twins" -- had retired as farmers to Mount Airy, North Carolina, after decades touring the world as curiosities and freaks. They had lived a vigorous life despite their conjoined bodies, and Eng reportedly felt in good health that night.

So, Eng was quite surprised when, awaking the next morning and seeing Chang had died, he suddenly realized that his brother's death was also his own. Despite his apparent good health, Eng died within hours of his brother because of their dependency.

Of course, newspapers online and newsprint editions aren't Siamese twins: The newsprint editions can exist without the online editions -- but online editions can't exist without newsprint editions. Ten years into the era of publishing via the Internet, online editions still depend almost totally upon newsprint editions for content and financial support.

BBC News Off-Line?

The success of Britain's most popular news site comes at a price. And because the bill is paid with U.K. television license fees, the site is now under fire from competitors and under scrutiny by the government for possible abuse of market dominance. The consequences could be severe... click the headline link.

Hoodlum Welding Masks

Can you imagine if your guys in the technical department started wearing these......

US ads get a clean up -big time...

US radio stations will be editing out the bum in al"bum" at this rate. In this case the pendulum has swung completely from couldn't care less what they say on the radio to the complete opposite. Won't happen in the movie theatres, though

MIAMI ( -- Anheuser-Busch, which had been criticized for airing raunchy commercials during the Super Bowl, will alter the content of its ads to be more in line with changing public feelings about broadcast indecency, the company's president told a meeting of the American Association of Advertising Agencies today

Give us 375 bucks, we'll give you the world....or at least part of it

In the US, a new 3-volume Encyclopedia of Radio has just been published. It contains a number of ground-breaking essays and research never seen before, trying to provide a reliable reference work on the history of radio from day one to now. It took the authors 5 years. Bit expensive for the individual, but something to ask for at the local library.....

Eye Spy

Simon Perry told me about the eyetoy for the Playstation 2. I'm surprised that didn't catch on. I'm really surprised Sony hasn't done more on-line games. X-Box live is way ahead in this respect.

From Sony, a Hand-Held Entertainment Center. LOS ANGELES, May 12 - In moving to extend its reach into the lucrative mobile-gaming arena with the introduction of the PlayStation Portable, Sony is emphasizing what makes its hand-held the un-Game Boy. By Michel Marriott. [New York Times: Technology]

Word Confidential

This is a pretty useful's about what a Microsoft Word document is really keeping tabs on. Basically all the changes made by the last 10 authors.

Useful to know, especially if you are tempted to take a document template and modify it slightly for a new client. Your new client can get a lot more than you bargained for.

Woody's Office Watch contains some frightening data about all the metadat that travels with a typical Word document. The newsletter is free. It is advertising sponsored, but seems to take a strongly independent view from the vendors. Is not published as often as it used to be, but still worth signing up.

Here's an extract...


Man, if Microsoft can't get it right, how can you? The folks in Redmond continue to post documents with all sorts of internal details on their Web site. While I haven't found any earth-shattering anti-trust-busting bits of "metadata", the stuff I have found leaves me wondering if anybody can get it right.

We're going to show you just how easy it is to publish Word documents with information you might not want others to see. We'll do that by taking examples from Microsoft itself. Having shown how even the supposed Word experts can get trapped, in future issues Woody's Watch (WOW and WOW-MM) we'll show you and Microsoft how to publish just the document and no more.

In WOW-MM 4.15, I talked about two documents with embarrassing embedded data. One contributed to the downfall of one of England's most influential politicians. The other exposed a Microsoft dirty trick.

A WOW-MM reader pointed me to an entire collection of documents posted by one state's Supreme Court. I didn't see anything particularly damning in the documents, but they're strewn with names and email addresses of clerks, law firms, and individuals; file locations, server names, and so on - a few hours' worth of harvesting could lead to a credible blueprint of sections of this Supreme Court's word processing system.

Worth noting: few (if any) US federal agencies - from all branches of government - post Word documents on the Web any more. Everything from the White House to the CIA to the US Supreme Court appears to be in PDF. Bravo.

AT&T researcher Simon Byers has a report on the hidden data problems facing the Word-using world today - all 400,000,000 of us. You can download it at here. One part of his conclusion really hits home:

"...typical behavior patterns of Word users and the default settings of the Word program leads to an uncomfortable state of affairs for Word users concerned about information security."

This isn't strictly a voyeuristic exercise. When you leave dribs and drabs of information floating around on the Web, there's no telling how it can be used. I would guess that a dedicated cretin with a fast Internet connection could come up with a working roadmap to parts of Microsoft's development and marketing networks, just by looking at the flotsam and jetsam buried in readily available documents - documents posted on Microsoft's own Web site.

To recap, if you use Word 97 or 2000, Word maintains a detailed log of who has edited the document, and where it was located when it was opened - and there's nothing you can do about it.

If you use Outlook 2002 (the version in Office XP), and you send a document by attaching it to an email message, Outlook brands the document with the email address, name, and a number that can be traced to the PC that was used to send the file (although you need access to the PC to nail it for sure). It also brands the document with the subject of the email message that carried the file.

If you explicitly tell Word 2002 to remove personally identifiable information (Tools | Options | Security, check the box marked Remove Personal Information From File Properties on Save, and uncheck the box marked Store Random Number to Improve Merge Accuracy), and you send the document with Outlook 2002, Outlook still sticks the number that can be traced to your PC inside the file. Woody talked about that number - the _AdHocReviewCycleID - in here .

I'm very happy to report that Outlook 2003 seems to be doing it right. Finally. Telling Word 2003 to remove personally identifiable information is sufficient, in a default installation of Outlook 2003, to keep any personal info from being "branded" onto a doc when it's sent attached to a message.

Microsoft's Knowledge Base talks about the kinds of data that can be squirreled away in Word documents, and gives some tips for removing that data (when it's possible). But the simple fact is that most people, most of the time, don't bother.

Word 97 discussion:

Word 2000 discussion:
Word 2002 (Office XP) discussion:

Keystroke Trap

These kind of devices are pretty scary too....just check the back of your PC. Now would

Now the e-mails.....Zimbabwe is in such a mess

E-mail controls loom in Zimbabwe.

Internet service providers query a move by the Mugabe government to gain access to private e-mails. [BBC News | Technology | UK Edition]

Bush in 30 Seconds....

Did you see the Polygraph ad with George Bush on this site? Very clever.

Oh Oh, the Olympics...

Lets face it....these Olympics are turning into a political and organisational diasaster - real fun and games!European tax rules threaten coverage of Athens Olympics

Television broadcasters in many countries outside the European Union may have to cut back their coverage of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games if the Greek government does not agree to provide refunds of Value Added Tax (VAT). In previous years, host countries have refunded VAT paid on services and facilities connected with the production of Olympics coverage on the grounds that the broadcast signals were being ‘exported’.

But Greece has still not confirmed commitments that it will refund VAT paid on transmission charges, and has so far refused to consider refunds on services such as hotel charges for broadcasters' staff. Despite the enormous promotional benefits that Greece will receive overseas,VAT refunds are guaranteed this time only to broadcasters which have a registered corporate entity in the EU. This means that large broadcasting organisations in some of the wealthier countries outside of the EU will be able to claim refunds, but ‘poorer’ broadcasters which do not have corporate entities in Europe will have to pay the tax.

The Secretary-General of the Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU), David Astley, said the soaring Euro and the refusal to refund VAT payments was unfairly slugging his members. The ABU represents more than 100 national broadcasters in 52 countries. It represents more than 25 Olympic territories and its members have a combined viewership of 3.7 billion people. “Collectively our members are investing hundreds of millions of Euros to bring images of the Olympics, and the most famous of all host cities, to the biggest television audience in the world," he said.

“Greece, and its people, will benefit enormously, and for a long time afterwards, from the positive coverage that will be transmitted by our TV stations. But most of our members do not have offices in Europe, so they will have to pay this extra tax which will not be incurred by the wealthier broadcasters”.

Mr Astley said it was probable that many Asian countries that would have otherwise provided extensive transmissions of Athens and the Olympic events would have to cut back on their coverage to meet this added cost.

The Secretary-General of the North American Broadcasters Association, Michael McEwen, said the issue did not affect his members as they had corporate entities in Europe. “However, the VAT charges place an unfair burden on many of the world’s other broadcasters and may inhibit both the coverage and the quality of that coverage for national audiences. The host country has a responsibility to recognize this and level the playing field for all rights holders in the fine tradition of the Olympic Spirit”.

UK reviews effectiveness of Public Service Broadcasting

UK Parliament has asked Ofcom, the communications regulator, to review the effectiveness of public service television broadcasting and to report on how it can be maintained and strengthened. This is the first phase of the review. It sets out initial conclusions about the effectiveness of broadcasting on the main terrestrial TV channels, and some initial views on how to maintain and strengthen the quality of public service broadcasting in a changing market. Interesting work

Fit this description?


Persons holding the position of BROADCAST ENGINEER are expected to possess the following skills and perform the duties listed herein:

Data processing systems management. Purchasing and operation of telephone and office systems. A complete understanding of thermostats, their use, and the ability to create good analogies so non-techs can understand them. You must also be able to move heavy objects - especially fire proof file cabinets, safes, cases of promotional prizes, and boxes of computer paper.

Must have knowledge of computer programming, drafting, building codes, landscape maintenance, pneumatics, hydraulics, accounting, and general office procedures, meteorology, and graphics design. Novell 3.X and 4.X, Windows server, Windows 2000, Windows XP knowledge.


Woodworking and carpentry. Metal working and fabrication. Audio/visual equipment setup and repair, including overhead projectors, screens, and LCD computer panels. Machine tool setup and operation. Printed circuit board layout, fabrication and repair. Firefighting. Microwave theory and practice. Acoustics design and construction. Ability to develop and execute promotional events on short notice. Spot and promotion production techniques. Television and telephone repair. Lawn care. Experience in 2-way communications theory and practice. Diesel generator set knowledge.

Board operator and air talent. Multi-track live mixdown. Complete knowledge of building construction, electrical codes, OSHA regulations and fire codes. Automotive electrical systems repair. Analog, digital, and microprocessor design and repair. Gas station attendant. Shoe repair.

Cellular telephone theory and repair. Backup news director. Headphone re-re-re-repair. Office machine maintenance, repair, and unjamming. Dish washer detergent acquisition. Photocopy analysis. Clock and watch repair.

First aid, including minor surgical experience. Office furniture purchasing, repair and moving. Image scanning and touchup. Coat hook installation and repair. Eyeglass maintenance and repair. Locksmithing skills. Automotive repair. Internet page design, mail routing, mail server, FAX server, and HTML programming. Database maintenance, knowledge of Ami-Pro, Approach, Freelance Graphics, Microsoft Office, Word, Access, Excel, Front Page, Lotus 123, Marketron, First Rate, Fox Pro, Arbitron Maximi$er, and Strata, CBSI, ENCO, Autiovault, Exchange, Netscape, Internet Explorer, PKZIP, Alphie Jr, Adobe Photoshop, Digital Camera operation.

Satellite downlink installation, operation and repair. Photography and videography, and video editing, including camera repair. May be called upon for news and traffic reporting, production, and other cross training. Pest control. Voice over talent. Plumbing and flood control. Counseling, scouting, budgeting, and financial experience required. Installation, operation and maintenance of kitchen appliances. Invisible fence repair and installation. Garage door opener maintenance, repair, and installation.

Air conditioning technician. Personal computer repair. Sink strainer repair, city map repair, fountain pen repair, piano repair, coffee pot technician, appliance purchase decision maker, staff policing. Experience required as a food service technician, electronic keychain repair engineer, repairing revolving emergency lights, palm pilot repair, bird removal, removing gum from keys, and banking/monetary exchange, chauffeur, map maker.

Furniture construction, trash collection and removal, building and grounds maintenance. Concrete technician.

You must be able to work evenings, weekends, and holidays, and expect to wear a pager and/or cell phone EVERYWHERE, all the time, 24/7. You must be able to work 24 hours per day.

To Quiet a Whirring Computer, Fight Noise With Noise. The constant drone of a computer cooling fan can be annoying. But tiny microphones and loudspeakers point the way toward quieter computers. By Anne Eisenberg. [New York Times: Technology]

Japanese viewers upset over DTV taping restrictions

In harbinger of what’s to come in the United States, Japanese TV viewers are expressing outrage over measures implemented by NHK and private TV broadcasters to control the taping of digital television programs.

On April 5, NHK and the National Association of Commercial Broadcasters in Japan began airing their programs with a special broadcast flag that allows only a single copy of the program to be made. Because programs that have been copied once cannot be duplicated or edited digitally, editing the programs via a PC has become impossible.

In addition, the broadcasters’ move has made it necessary for viewers to insert a special user identification card, known as a B-CAS card, into their digital TV sets to watch programs.

These duplication controls are being applied to digital TV programs aired by both digital terrestrial and satellite broadcasters.

In the week after the measure was implemented, the Japan Times reported that NHK and private broadcasters have received more than 15,000 inquiries and complaints about the scheme. Many viewers say they have been deprived of their editing freedoms.

With the Olympic Games in Athens coming up, mass retailers of home electronic appliances are stepping up their sales pitches for large-screen digital TVs.

Hot-selling flat-screen TVs are priced at 300,000 yen or higher; the main buyers of these models are older people.

The anti-copying controls have been adopted to protect broadcast copyrights, an NHK official said, adding, “easy violation of copyright would make movie and music copyright holders reluctant to provide their works and prompt actors and singers to refuse to appear on TV.”

The posts and telecommunications ministry plans to terminate analog terrestrial and satellite broadcasting and have companies switch to digital broadcasting completely by 2011.