This site is a personal blog and article site for Bob and Angeliki, it doesn’t attempt to document our lives but aims to be a vent for thoughts and information.
I (Bob) was formerly a lecturer before being tempted back to industry, but I like to offer my assistance to anyone who has an interesting question. So if you have some challenges, if you want my opinion then please contact me and I will consider publishing a response. I would also like to offer consultancy on a commercial basis if you are venturing into areas where I might be useful. Students are welcome to pose me questions related to their studies, although I don’t expect to be doing your work for you and I will be unlikely to provide references sufficient to make my words truly authoritative.
On the BBC Internet Blog, Andy Quested has discussed the various issues around the addition of a test signal to BBC HD. It makes for very interesting reading, well worth it for anyone wanting to better understand their television and get a better picture.
I actually emailed Andy about one part of his article:
“The audio is actually two blocks of wood being banged once a second – nothing to beat the real thing!“
I emailed him to say that in college one of my much respected lecturers (Morgan Jones) proposed using a spark gap as a syncronisation source. Few things in nature are more instant than a spark and the correlation between the light and the light is absolute (subject to the speed of sound, etc).
His response was that he would look at it but he also raised another issue, how do you deal with the fact that an audio compression system based on the psycho-acoustic model might ignore such a short spike of audio? Frankly I don’t know, I am not sure I know enough about compression systems, but it seems worth a look.
“Have there ever been or are there any “Pirate” satellite TV transmissions?”
So I answered and I thought I would share my response here:
It is not always required to have a license to broadcast in your target country, usually only the country broadcast from (this can be used to avoid local broadcast laws for advertising). In my past I have seen rouge transmissions, but they have usually not been pirate TV but illicit communications. More common is illegal jamming of transmissions as a result of political differences between nations, but again this more affects telecommunications than broadcast TV.
While it is possible to broadcast without permission, a satellite operator would rather jam an illicit signal rather than permit it to profit from transmission time which is not paid for. The simplest way to jam a signal is to put up a carrier spike through the offending transmission to prevent reception. It is possible to geographically locate a rogue transmission, but the resources required to do so are great and the timescales required are unpleasant. Satellite owners do not allocate such resources lightly because it would cause a great deal of disruption to their infrastructure. Usually jamming a rogue signal is enough to discourage illicit transmissions, this can be done cheaply and effectively.
Rather annoyed this morning, I had to make up some Cat-5e cables, not a big thing but something I don’t enjoy. That wasn’t the problem however, I came to crimp them and found that someone in the office has bent the die on my Rolson RJ-45 ratchet crimp tool. I leave my tools at the office partly out of convenience and partly because they keep them out of the way at home. I accept the visiting engineers use them occasionally, however it is very rude that I find them around the office and now I find one broken.
In Euan Semples recent blog post he talked about the digital divide as it has been on the news of late. I was thinking about it and I don’t think the issue is really rural vs city, infact I think cities are probably logically the places where the digital divide can be much more of a problem. Looking at the statistics I note that Glasgow has the worst broadband take-up in the country, is this because of relative education levels and poverty? In general in the UK rural communities are not poor like they are in other countries. A few weeks ago I was in Greece staying in a small village in the hills and by most economic measures I was in a poor village (however I have rarely seen a happier and more at-peace group of people), I don’t think anyone there would have owned a computer. That is in contrast to the UK rural communities I have seen over the years, most farmers have computers and local schools are increasingly well connected. The real technology divide is about poverty, education and social excusion; frankly it has nothing even to do with the internet, it is about society in general. This connectivity issue is more of a measure of society than the other way around.
Also Euan posted about disinterest in traditional politics plus how traditional politics and activism is being replaced by new ‘community’ action. These communities need not be local but they are increasingly powerful. It is interesting to see the number of online campaigns that get significant results. I’m very apolitical because I’ve long felt that no politician can be trusted and even those with the best intentions can be side-lined/sabotaged by other peoples efforts. All this despite my fathers political efforts.
One of my former students has emailed me with some questions about an assignment. So to be fair I will publish my answers for all to see in this blog. You can select more to see the questions and answers, I also would love to have more questions on this subject in the comments…