So, last week I posted a piece over at Planet Green’s website on the changing nature of our landscape, thanks to the fact that the West is burning up. It’s now the second most “voted” on piece at Planet Green, just behind the life altering piece on Emeril’s tips for making “green gumbo”…
By Stearns | August 30, 2008
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I’m old enough to vaguely remember Walter Cronkite forty years ago showing us hand painted “NASA Simulation” video of the Apollo spacecraft maneuvering in space. There simply was no way to position a news camera outside the Lunar and Command Modules to get the shot.
Now we have computer generated movies and commercials. I’ve seen computer simulations of plane crashes and of presidential candidates. But yesterday morning was the first time I’d seen computer-generated pictures of human participants in breaking news. I’m not sure I approve of the concept altogether, but given it’s existence I do like the editorial decision to render the named humans in untextured solid red.
By Harold | August 28, 2008
So I will crow over this silly little mistake. The normally excellent Indecision2008 Blog has misidentified Senator Ben Cardin as the Senator from Maine in this blog post. He is, in fact, the Senator from Maryland.
This is important since Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, the Senators from Maine, (a) are women, (b) are Republicans, and (c) voted in favor of the FISA “compromise,” whereas Cardin voted against it. I shall leave it as an exercise to the reader which they think is the most important difference and whether either Cardin, Collins, or Snowe should feel offended that Indecision08 got them confused. Although I do agree with the main thrust of the blog entry that Ben Cardin is not nearly as sexy as Charlize Theron no matter what state he is from or his political party.
But in any event, I do think Indecision08 should run a correction.
(I promise to do real blogging again soon, just a bit busy at the moment.)
stay tuned . . .
By David | August 27, 2008
Perhaps you’ve been too busy trying to hold onto your mortgage to notice, but there’s been a fair amount of controversy over actor/director Ben Stiller’s comedy “Tropic Thunder”. Apparently some folks have an issue with use of the word “retards”- and the depiction of disabled people- in the film. Understandable…
By Harold | August 26, 2008
Because bloggers are so adowable. We can’t possibly be a threat to the status quo, right?
I like to think this LOL Cats picture sums up my attitude toward special interests.
By Harold | August 25, 2008
Well, my usual level of organization pays off.
Due to an annoying computer crash, I failed to get my application to get into Big Tent Denver. My pass as a speaker for Common Cause only covers me for tomorrow. My alternate arrangement has run into a bit of difficulty. And, of course, such is my fame among the progressive blogger community that no one here knows who the $@! I am or why they should care.
I had hoped to take Henry Cohen up on his offer to see the wireless microphones for the convention in action. Alas, the DNC convention is locked down like a drum, and Henry — despite massive efforts — could not get me in today to see the tech operations. The DNC and RNC conventions have got to be like the superbowl for wireless microphones, so this is also rather disappointing.
So I am sitting in a delightful bookstore/coffee house down the block from Big Tent, contemplating wandering over to the main convention to see if protesters are using sophisticated technologies to outwit security –or not. I will confess that despite news stories of tight security, I was able to drive past the convention center this morning no problem.
If all else fails, I will spend a pleasant day in Denver and can catch up on some other work and various blog things.
UPDATE: Thanks to the amazing work of Katie Flemming at Common Cause Colorodo, I am now inside with a pass.
Stay tuned . . . .
By Harold | August 22, 2008
The FCC has just released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking addressing the problem of wireless microphone operations in the 700 MHz Band and how it may screw up the introduction of new public safety and commercial wireless services. It basically proposes to adopt the recommendations we made to prohibit any future manufacture, sale or importation of wireless microphones that operate on the relevant 700 MHz frequencies, and prohibit operation on those bands after the DTV transition in February.
Along the way, the Commission asks for comment on our informal complaint and Petition for Rulemaking. Oh yes, and the NPRM also announced that the Enforcement Bureau has commenced an investigation into the wireless microphone manufacturers and their sales tactics.
I wish I could take all the credit for this one, but I really gotta hand it to Shure. I’m not saying that Shure’s insistence on dragging FCC engineers out to field testing so they could see first hand the blatant way in which Shure and others violate FCC rules, getting all their illegal customers to right into the FCC by the thousands and regale the FCC with tales of unauthorized use all over the country, and generally rubbing the FCC’s nose in the fact that Shure and the rest of the industry were engaged in widescale violation of the rules over and over and OVER again necessarily had anything to do with this. I will merely note that it is a happy coincidence of timing that the FCC commenced its investigation the Friday following the field testing, and immediately thereafter put our Petition out for comment attached to an item already in the works. No, it is no doubt my good looks and charm once again bending the FCC to my will.
To the extent the industry press has picked up on this, it has (surprise!) assigned credit for this to the great Google Overlords. Mind you, the same article also thinks that wireless microphones “produced little or no complaints because their signals have traditionally been programmed to avoid TV channels,” so this will tell you something about the accuracy of their analysis. (For those wondering, wireless microphones are dumb devices and the user selects the channel. It has no sensing equipment or database or any of the interference avoidance tech proposed for white space devices.)
I would also say that much as I would love to see this as a sign that the FCC supports opening up the white spaces for unlicensed use, I don’t. The NPRM is very carefully neutral on the subject, without any statements from Commissioners one way or another, and voted on circulation (meaning it is non-controversial). No, I think the Register pretty much got it right when they described this as “having sold off 700MHz to the highest bidders last year, the FCC now has a responsibility to clear the area before the new tenants move in.” The ball on white spaces, whether licensed, unlicensed, or not used at all is still very much up in the air.
Mind you, this certainly impacts the debate over the white spaces, and potentially removes a stumbling block by providing a road map on how to address the wireless microphone issue in a way that punishes spectrum scofflaws like Shure while protecting users like churches deceived by Shure’s sales tactics (and give parties an incentive to come to the table and do a deal over real interference concerns before the FCC bites their patooties off). And I think it is fair to say that we did help move the debate forward by providing the FCC with the pathway to making this possible. But I would say that all the Commissioners are still waiting for the field testing results to come in before making a final decision on the merits.
What is really critical here for the white spaces proceeding is that the broadcasters now have to make a very unpleasant choice. Do they embrace the radio pirates and forgive Shure for unleashing a million illegal transmitters all over “their” spectrum? Or do they stick to their usual guns and condemn any unauthorized use of the broadcast bands as unmitigated evil and warn that sanctioning a million new authorized users — with new General Wireless Microphone Users added every day — could utterly destroy broadcast television as we know it? Either way presents problems for broadcasters — with the added bonus of highlighting their blatant hypocrisy. Embracing the likes of Shure and unauthorized users undercuts all the hysteria broadcasters have so carefully cultivated, especially when they have always maintained that opening this spectrum to anyone new would destroy free over the air television. OTOH, siding with the FCC on enforcement against Shure and warning the FCC not to allow millions of transmitters operating at higher power and with fewer protections in the white spaces destroys their ability to use Broadway, the Grand Ole Opry, and all those megachurches as human shields.
Needless to say, the broadcasters have desperately sought to avoid saying anything on the subject and have tried to spin this to their advantage: “Gosh, moving wireless microphones off Channels 52-69 will sure make it harder to fit in all them white spaces devices,” claims David Donovan of the Association for Maximum Service Television, a trade association for TV broadcasters that has fought against any sharing of the white spaces.
The problem with this statement is that, according to the FCC, there are only 156 licensed wireless microphones authorized to operate on Channels 52-69. That’s not a heck of a lot of crowding. Unless, of course, MSTV plans to support our Petition for Rulemaking and support creation of a General Wireless Microphone Service licensed by rule and open to the general public.
Mind you I expect that MSTV, like the McCain campaign, will continue to get a free ride on this from an obsequious broadcast trade press and a tech press that cannot get past the Great Google Overlords. But they are going to have to file comments on this at some point. And I imagine that, as they come in to lobby against white spaces, the good folks at the Commission will want their opinion on this separate but related matter. I’ll certainly be interested in rading those Ex Partes.
Stay tuned . . .
By Harold | August 22, 2008
USA Today has a much more intelligent article (alas, from before the ranking s were published), especially this quote:
“What made me come back? Don’t be funny,” he says. “Everybody wants to come back to a reunion. That’s what Princeton’s made up of, people coming back to reunions.”
— Malcolm Wornock, Class of ’25.
Tune every heart and every voice,
bid every care withdraw;
Let all with one accord rejoice,
in praise of Old Nassau.
In praise of Old Nassau we sing,
Hurrah! hurrah! hurrah!
Our hearts will give while we shall live,
three cheers for Old Nassau.
When we have a First Lady whose an alumn they’ll change their tune (and no, the fact that he went to Harvard Law does not count).
Stay tuned . . . . .
Harold Feld, Class of ’89
By John | August 22, 2008
I just discovered that for about three months, maybe more, mail messages sent to webmaster @ $this-ahere-website and jsundman @ this-ahere-website, have been going directly into the bit recycling program. Those addresses should work now. In the very unlikely case that this pertains to you, please forgive, & if it’s still germane, resend.