Critical Distance Weblog
Jonathan Marks at large....



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  31 May 2004

Last Post?


No, this weblog is just being transferred to  effectively immediately. I can't update this weblog while I am on the move. Shame, but time to move on to a place where it is possible.

Jonathan Marks

10:02:55 PM    comment []

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.

8:31:57 PM    comment []

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]
8:25:34 PM    comment []

E-mail controls loom in Zimbabwe.

When will Mugabe's reign of terror end?

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

8:24:39 PM    comment []

CIO: The Virtues of Chitchat. Michael Schrage. Different organizations have the opportunity--I would now say the obligation--to explore how best to marry this medium of expression with the insatiable need for better managing communication, coordination and collaboration with IT and its clients. [Tomalak's Realm]
8:23:39 PM    comment []

Wanted Broadcast Engineer

Fit the 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.


8:20:05 PM    comment []

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

8:46:33 AM    comment []

  22 May 2004

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”.

11:10:25 AM    comment []

  14 May 2004

Word Confidential.....
This is a pretty useful's about what a Microsoft document is really keeping tabs on;
These kind of devices are pretty scary too....just check the back of your PC. Now would do.

Illuminating Blacked-Out Words. Researchers at a conference in Switzerland have demonstrated computer-based techniques that can identify blacked-out words and phrases in confidential documents. By John Markoff. [New York Times: Technology]

9:22:32 PM    comment []

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]

9:18:47 PM    comment []

Bush in 30 Seconds....

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

Polygraphs Don't Give True Story. Researchers have yet to develop a foolproof technology to determine whether a person is telling the truth. That hasn't stopped interrogators from relying on their old, flawed standby: the polygraph. By Noah Shachtman. [Wired News]

9:15:09 PM    comment []

  15 April 2004

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 a Moral Majority take-over. Wonder what will happen in the movie theatres?


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 

8:55:01 PM    comment []

  10 April 2004

Circuit Benders Unlock the Long Riffs in Short-Circuits. In the art of circuit bending, electronic devices - usually toys - are manipulated so they can produce new and unusual sounds. By Matthew Mirapaul. [New York Times: Technology]
6:02:53 PM    comment []

Block That Ringtone!. Ever wish you could silence all cellphones within earshot? That is the goal of a number of new products but wireless companies and regulators say it might not be legal. By Sam Lubell. [New York Times: Technology]
6:01:28 PM    comment []

In Google We Trust? When the Subject Is E-Mail, Maybe Not. Google, the search-engine leader, has announced plans to offer a free Web-based e-mail service. But many potential subscribers have reservations. By Katie Hafner. [New York Times: Technology]
6:00:14 PM    comment []

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.....

9:50:13 AM    comment []

  29 March 2004

Hoodlum Welding Masks

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


9:30:16 AM    comment []

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

Good analysis at

9:17:30 AM    comment []

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.


9:14:59 AM    comment []

  28 March 2004

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?

9:24:22 PM    comment []

  26 March 2004

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

Alcatel and Intel® today 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.

11:00:41 AM    comment []

  24 March 2004

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,  was het afgelopen jaar flink in de weer met internetdiensten voor het with a 15.1% share in 2003. Source: Dutch press bureau ANP

3:12:39 PM    comment []

Reallocation of U.S. Radio Spectrum Would Mean Changes for Broadcasters

Mar. 22--Reallocating radio spectrum to satisfy America's wireless Internet appetite could raise fears about signal interference, whether real or spurious.

Four years ago, after the Federal Communications Commission tried to expand FM radio spectrum use by hundreds of new low-power community stations, Congress overruled the regulators by passing a broadcaster-supported law.

An engineering study ordered by Congress, released last month, supported the FCC's contention that low-power stations posed little or no interference threat to commercial FM broadcasters.

But when, or if, Congress will restore the low-power station initiative is uncertain.

The FCC's smart radio initiative pits incumbent broadcasters against cell phone carriers and high-tech firms like Intel and Microsoft that want more spectrum for high-speed data.

A major problem is that even those who strongly advocate opening up more of the airwaves to data traffic disagree vehemently on strategy.

Some insist that the FCC should open new swaths of unlicensed spectrum where any and all users could deploy equipment without worrying about licenses. This is how cordless phones and Wi-Fi equipment work today.

Others suggest that current FCC license holders be allowed to lease out part of their spectrum. That would give broadcasters a financial incentive to embrace smart radio.

Vanu Bose predicts that smart radios eventually will create a giant commodity market in spectrum.

"I can envision a time when carriers that need more spectrum will just buy it on a spot market with very little effort," said Bose, founder of Vanu Inc., a Boston-area firm that makes smart radios for the military and the cell phone industry.

Reselling spectrum raises opposition from many smart radio advocates who contend that it needlessly provides unearned profits to broadcasters with public money. "Essentially it's a bribe to license holders," said Michael Calabrese, director of the New America Foundation's spectrum policy office. "Why should the public have to give away what they already own and then pay to buy it back?"

Such infighting may enable broadcasters to delay spectrum reform for several years, said Thomas Hazlett, a senior fellow with the Manhattan Institute.

"I favor paying the TV stations to go away so we could take their spectrum and do something productive with it," said Hazlett. "But I don't expect the FCC to take any meaningful action."


7:11:38 AM    comment []

  21 March 2004

Showcase for future of mobiles. The opening of the Cebit technology fair has offered hints about third-generation phone services. [BBC News | Technology | UK Edition] Vodaphone in Holland is already selling PC cards for 3G.....much too expensive for serious use at present.
7:17:27 AM    comment []

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Last update: 31/05/2004; 22:05:26.

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