Friday, August 26, 2011

Preparing for Hurricane Irene

This NASA video from the Space Station makes me hope and pray for those I know who are in Irene's path. Will radio play a role this time, I wonder?

Oh what a difference a few years makes

Coming up on the second anniversary of James Murdoch's famous blast at the BBC during the Edinburgh TV festival and the MacTaggart lecture. Rereading the first page is ironic enough. James looked rather uncomfortable then, reading from two autocue screens and trying to sound natural. Murdoch described UK broadcasting as "the Addams Family of world media", comparing it unfavourably with the industries in Germany, France and India and complaining about the "astonishing" burden of regulation placed on BSkyB, the pay-TV giant he was running at the time. The Media Guardian has luckily curated the whole lot, and the BBC's reply.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Heathkit - We're back - sort of

Heathkit say they're getting back into producing kits, although somehow I doubt these will be build-it-yourself shortwave radio and transmitter kits that I recall from they heyday of international sound broadcasting. They weren't that well known for state-of-the-art design though in the 1970's. I like their slogan though - REAL WORLD, HANDS-ON LEARNING FOR TOMORROW'S JOBS. I remember a company in California bought the rights to technical manuals a few years back, but I can't imagine they made much money from that. 

It's true that there seems to be little in the way of educational kits to interest the budding hardware engineer of tomorrow. Tip of the hat to Spanish telecoms engineer Jose V Gavila, who seems to have more where that photo came from.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Future of Libraries


Spent a fascinating afternoon in the Dutch Royal Library in the Hague. Like the British Library they keep one copy of most books, although in this case the book has to be in Dutch or about the Netherlands. It seems such a shame that this collection isn't connected to the vast audio and video archives in Hilversum, also financed by public money. This is crying out for a cross-media approach. They also seem to spend an enormous amount of money paying publishers for the rights to loan out a book. Never understood this myself. Isn't the library offering publishers a free archiving service? Do authors benefit somewhere? many questions.
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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

IBC Free Sale Extended

Are they being generous or is this a fire sale? Wonder if the extra two days will make much difference to the numbers. Personally, I don't think so. Those on holiday will be back next week.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Berlin Wall remembered

Today's definitely a day to be in Berlin and visit the Stasi Musuem in former East Berlin. It's the anniversary of the start of the building of the Berlin Wall. Boy, was that a bad idea. Great infographics in the MorgenPost It was eery to discover my own name in the files. Apparently because I was working for Western international broadcasters, I was a NATO agent.

Al Jazeera and the Arab awakening - Listening Post - Al Jazeera English

Al Jazeera and the Arab awakening - Listening Post - Al Jazeera English

Very interesting interview with Al Jazeera, Wadah Khanfar.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Explaining the collapse - and the growing anger in society

Rather worrying if the unrest in several European cities is linked to what Geoffrey West is talking about in this presentation. I fear he may be right. Why doesn't mainstream media do more to explain - and then in the form of intelligent debate with people like West instead of the pundits looking for publicity.

Why Cities Grow, Corporations Die and Life Gets Faster

Very interesting talk putting the growth of cities into perspective. Beautiful timelapse photo sequence at the start, with a brilliant, considered talk by Geoffrey West immediately afterwards. Grab a coffee and be both worried but also inspired.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Astra 1N Blasts Off

So the new Astra 1N satellite seems to be safely on it's way into orbit after a successful launch earlier today (0052 CET) from the French Guiana Space Centre on board an Ariane 5 ECA rocket. The satellite will distribute digital and HDTV services in Europe. It will first provide interim replacement capacity at 28.2 degrees east [serving the UK market]. Then it will be moved to 19.2 degrees east, where it will mainly serve the German, French and Spanish markets.

Astra 1N has 52 Ku-band transponders on board.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Transport of Delight - a personal discovery

Arrived too early for an appointment on a glorious day in Amsterdam. Since we haven't been blessed with this much sun in a long time, I took a stroll south of the former Olympic Stadium in the direction of some beautiful houseboats moored along the side of a small lake.

That's when I did a double-take. Wasn't that a Viennese tram stop by the side of what looked like a disused railway track? Yes, it definitely was. Stuck on a lamp-post nearby was a clue, in the form of a tram timetable for the Amsterdam Historic TramLine. It seems they have no less than 7 kms of track, most of it running through the Amsterdam Woods area in the South of Amsterdam and Amstelveen. They have vintage trams for various European cities, including ones I recognise from Vienna and Prague. Actually the website doesn't do anything like justice to what they have collected. And the site goes crazy if you try to select the English option. I guess the volunteers have better things to do - like running a tram service.

View Larger Map

They maintain a regular service throughout the summer and certain holidays. But the reason I have never discovered this before is simply that it's a Sunday only service and I have never been to that part of Amsterdam on a Sunday, except for the Labor Day weekend BBQ from the American Business Club. Must make a note to make a date - and take the camera. They charge 4 Euro for a round-trip or 10 Euro for a day-pass. That must be the best bargain in Amsterdam, bearing in mind parking in the city centre now costs a staggering 55 Euro a day. Google Streetview allows you follow the tracks from Amstelveen as it snakes northward and eventually into Amsterdam Haarlemermeer station. It seems that a few of the vintage vehicles also ride through the city centre on Line 20 on Sunday afternoons. They charge real money and give out real tickets. Which is a welcome relief to the new fangled RFID cards which are now used on all public transport.

CN Broadcasting - The Onion for Tech? FAIL

I started to get a most peculiar Newsletter from a company called China Broadcasting which claims to be my gateway into Chinese media. It's mainly reporting about telecoms and broadcast equipment, so I believe they got my name from the IBC Exhibition in Amsterdam. I think someone is trying to see whether they can made a trade magazine by using translation robots. Er, no you can't. May be they are trying the make the Onion out of tech news? I don't think that's the plan.

I just love some of the articles they come up with.

This example from June is a classic still on line, where we get a completely incomprehensible article.

"And whole the intersection of solution and provider, billows get up science and technology merge development of industry, have very deep understanding to the intersection of chip and technical autonomous innovation with the intersection of ground and broadcast and three network."

I can't imagine the original article in Mandarin was of much use.

I'd given up on them until another Newsletter arrived today. I was struck by the illustration of China Broadcasting Corporation article with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's exploding pizza logo. Had a Chinese company stolen the logo? Clicking through all the links in the Newsletter actually took me to different unrelated fail on content. And a quick use of the "untrustworthy" Google search engine, shows me that China Broadcasting Corporation doesn't use the CBC logo above, or anything resembling it. 

So, if this is the standard of their articles, imagine what they could do with your advertisement. Obviously a publication to avoid.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Weird to hear the Orfordness transmitter operated by Babcock in the UK relaying Dutch public broadcasting's Radio 1 channel. This is because of the problems affecting two FM towers in the Netherlands, both of which were affected by unrelated fires three week ago. Sound's to me like the feed is using two sets of audio compression, perhaps the increase the range while using lower power than the BBC used to use. I'm guessing 250 kW. Had it on in the car while travelling round the Netherlands today. Frankly, FM reception sounded a lot better than this muddy AM signal around The Hague, Rotterdam and Utrecht. Strong, but nothing more than an emergency. You'd think if it was important to Radio 1 audibility that they would be announcing it frequently on air. Er, no. Wonder how long it will last?

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Monday, August 01, 2011

Why is DAB+ said to be underperforming in Australia?

What were they expecting? Digital radio has been an evolution not a revolution everywhere. And always hybrid...not just DAB+ but a combination of platforms.