March 25, 2002
Tech-Note – 099
Established May 18, 1997
Sponsored by: Bloomfield & Associates
Thanks to our regulars and welcome to
the new folks.
From: Bill Hogan email@example.com
Larry wrote: "Now if we could just get
them interested in doing this in HD."
(Editor’s Note: Bill is right. Everything done in 24P these days is in High Definition. Broadcasters are using the SDTV version recorded from the monitor output of the tape achine which is 480i or have down sized it through Panasonics UFC – Universal Format Converter.)
By: Larry Bloomfield
The Tech-Notes Road Show trip is nearly finalized. We still need a sponsor or two more and Local Partners. If you are interested in when I will be visiting your neck of the woods or possibly participating, go to the Tech-Notes website: www.Tech-Notes.TV. Just below the Tech-Notes animated logo, it says to click here for the Tech-Notes Road Show. The rest is academic.
I’m not sure if we will be putting out another Tech-Note before NAB2002. If you are one of the few lucky ones who will be going to NAB2002, look us up at the Pixel Instruments booth #20744 on the second level of the Las Vegas Convention Center expansion. If you’d like to see exactly, there is a map on the Pixel Instruments website: www.Pixelinstruments.TV
Pixel Instruments will be showing a new device, their UMAT-1200 (it’s on their website too) which will allow a station to do many things including voiceovers in a digital bit stream and at what I’ve been told, a very affordable price.
Jim Mendrala will also be at NAB2002, but not at any one particular place. If you contact me, I can direct you to him. My Cell phone is (541) 999-1863 and I’ll have it with me.
By: Fred Lawrence
Safety in the workplace is of growing concern by insurers, facility owners, system designers, systems integrators, governmental agencies/construction inspectors and facility engineering managers.
Municipalities- such as Los Angeles, New York and Atlanta (among others) are requiring independent safety certification on all products installed in new construction/code-required remodeling. (UL-certification, CSI-certification and/or approved lab certification.) LA has a testing lab. Multimillion dollar new construction's certificates of occupancy have been held up, due to lack of television products' safety certification.
System Designers' liability insurance carriers are requiring designers to specify ONLY independently-safety-certified television products in their designed systems. Facility owners' liability insurance carriers are requiring contracted designers to specify products with independent-safety- certification. Some TV product manufacturers attain independent safety certification for some/all of their products/product lines; many TV product manufacturers do not attain independent safety certifications for their products. Attainment of independent safety certification is rather an expensive "overhead" to a product line, when rapidly-developing technology may soon replace the product line. It raises prices to those who independently certify and decreases their products' competitiveness against non-certified products from competing manufacturers. "Buyer beware" is often mentioned. Many manufacturers have designed their products to be powered by "UL-certified" power transformers ("bugs") to satisfy safety requirements, but PC boards burn up inside cages, due to poorly designed circuits/ boards.
TV engineering managers/staff would be well-advised to be aware of the need for independent safety certifications of their company/local jurisdiction/insurers when checking out the equipment at NAB and before they specify/purchase TV products. The specification is theirs.
With the move to digital and for other reasons, many facilities' “used” assets are being auctioned/sold. In this case, as with all purchases, new or used, the old Roman saying "Let the Buyer Beware" is equally applicable, because liability for safe is the responsibility of the buyer, not the manufacturer who sold the product to the original owner.
From: David Coursey ZDNN, http://www.zdnet.com/zdnn
Did you know that you should keep all your batteries in sets and never mix different types – like rechargeables and alkalines – in the same device? I didn't. Or not until I started researching batteries. Batteries are a commodity, yet they're so essential. They can be expensive, damage the environment, and ruin your day if they happen to run down at the wrong time.
I've also talked to battery experts, and interviewed some on a recent AnchorDesk radio program. As a result – and this has actually been a several month process for me – I've started thinking about batteries as more than just something to buy at the warehouse store and then throw away.
In a recent column, I offered a primer on the various types of batteries available now to fuel just about every gizmo in your life – cell phones, PDAs, portable music players, flashlights, you name it. In this column, I want to tell you about the regimen I've developed for dealing with batteries – a program of sorts based on several tenets and tips.
THE FIRST AND FOREMOST of these: Use rechargeable batteries whenever possible. The new NiMH (nickel-metal hydride) batteries provide more power than the NiCads (nickel-cadmium) they replace. NiCads are extremely toxic. Never throw them into the trash. By contrast, NiMHs are much easier on the environment. So along with making absolutely certain I recycle my old NiCads, I have bought a couple of dozen NiMH cells.
This may seem expensive, but the NiMHs replace the hundreds of alkaline cells I've been using. Yes, I still have some alkalines and plan to keep a stock for emergency use (they hold a charge in storage much longer than other battery types), but I have stopped buying throwaways for general use.
Another development that brought me to rechargeables has been the advent of reasonably inexpensive, fast chargers for NiMHs (and the evil NiCads). My previous chargers usually took eight to 15 hours to bring depleted cells up to a full charge. Now, there are plenty of one- and two-hour chargers.
This means I can, even in heavy use with some of my ham radio gear, recharge the NiMHs faster than I can use them up. To accomplish this, I have a couple of chargers, both of which operate off either AC power or a DC connection to a car's cigarette lighter.
ANOTHER TIP: Always keep batteries together in sets, when using them and when charging them. Each set should contain only one type, brand, and capacity of battery. This assures you will have batteries that perform the same – both in use and when charging. It's easiest to keep them together if you mark them, with a permanent marker, as a set. When it's time to trash the batteries, toss them as a set.
Do not mix different types of batteries in a single device. Why? Because voltages--even among cells of the same size--vary, as do capacities. While I have carried batteries loose in zipper bags, I've been trying to do better. At least with the expensive rechargeables, I put them in battery wallets I purchased for about $3 each at a camera store. The wallets help to keep sets together, give me a place to put the used rechargeables for transport back to the charger, protect the batteries, and keep them from bounding around and shorting out.
Are these batteries charged? Well, if the tips are up in the wallet, I know they are charged. And when I put discharged cells into the wallet, the tips go down. Most of the time, anyway.
MORE ON WHAT I USE: If I have a choice, I exclusively use NiMH cells, which I recharge in a Rayovac 1-hour charger that cost me $39.95. The portable case and DC cable--so I can recharge in my car--added $14.95. I use several different brands of NiMH cells. Consumer Reports likes Radio Shack's NiMH batteries the best, but I have yet to develop a strong brand preference.
If you can help it, don't pay more than $4 for a 1600mAh NiMH cell. This past weekend I bought a six-pack of Panasonic 1600mAh cells for about $13 at the local warehouse store. (In case you don't know, mAh stands for milliampere hour. It is a measure of the total energy a battery can deliver. The higher the mAh, the longer a battery's life. For example, AAA batteries hold about 1150 mAh, while D-cells contain about 15,000 mAh.)
Greenbatteries.com is an online vendor that offers a good variety of rechargeable batteries, chargers, related items (like cases), and informational pages. Their prices aren't the best I've seen, but you'd have to shop to find better, and they have everything you're likely to want in one place.
Finally, here are a couple of tips that aren't about rechargeables.
If you haven't visited Electric Fuel and seen its line of zinc-air batteries, you should. You may have seen these in stores with the words "Instant Power" on the package.
For less than $20, you get a zinc-air battery and a special cord to connect it to a specific device, like a cell phone, PDA, or digital camera. Normally, the battery is kept in a vacuum-sealed bag to prevent air from reaching it. This keeps the battery fresh for three years or until you are ready to use it.
When you need quick power, you open the bag, take out the cell, and attach the cord to the battery on one end and your device on the other. Then, like the sign says, you get "instant power."
THE CELL IS GOOD for multiple charges of the mobile device, making the $10- per-cell cost fairly reasonable--and the zinc-air cell can be resealed and used for up to three months after it's been opened.
This is the cell I keep--along with a couple of the cords for the devices I use (a StarTac phone and an iPaq handheld, usually)--in the glove compartment of my car. I also keep a second one in my briefcase. I've needed the Instant Power cell only once--when my phone died at CES--but it's already proven its worth. This would also be a great device to take camping, or on trips where you don't want to carry a bunch of recharging gear but need to keep several devices charged. I won't leave home without one.
I hope you've learned something from my exploration into the world of rechargeable batteries. I haven't even touched on the batteries that come with your computer, cell phone, and other devices, or how these batteries may evolve in the future. I will save that for another time, perhaps when I am once again feeling charged-up about my batteries.
Have any battery tips of your own? Which are your favorites? Which do you hate? How do you keep them charged up and ready to go? TalkBack to me.
The Federal Communications Commission’s reorganization, an endeavor that has taken more than a year to complete, will go into effect today, Monday, March 25.
As part of the effort, the FCC formed a new Media Bureau, which will be responsible for cable and DBS post-licensing policy, duties that were previously handled by the Cable Services Bureau. The Media Bureau also will develop, recommend and administer policy and licensing programs relating to electronic media, including broadcast television and radio.
Cable Services Bureau Chief Ken Ferree will serve as chief of the newly created bureau. Ferree named Deborah Klein as chief of staff of the Media Bureau. Klein will be responsible for overseeing all bureau operations.
Satellite-licensing will remain with the Satellite Division at the International Bureau. That bureau will increase its focus on satellite policy issues, as well as consolidate resources to handle licensing and rulemaking processes more efficiently as part of the restructuring.
Don Abelson will remain at the helm of the International Bureau.
With 37 days to May 1st, the transition to digital is still bogged down in the migration mud. Go to the Tech-Notes website at www.Tech-Notes.tv and click on “DTV Station Status - The Transition” for all the links to the FCC and NAB and see what’s going on.
By: Larry Bloomfield
I’m not naive enough to believe that the cable industry has taken heed to our Parting Shots a few issues back when we said that cable not carrying local DTV transmissions, including HDTV, is one of the industries greatest impediments in the transition to digital. Somebody got to them though. According to Cable World: “Comcast, in what is being viewed by some in Washington as a shrewd move; this year will begin offering digital high definition television in major markets in which it owns cable systems. In 2003, HDTV service will be unveiled in Washington and will include the signal of WETA, Washington's public TV station.”
There’s little doubt that the Comcast decision, in part, was to get some of the heat off them and to kiss up to Congress. Who cares! The point is that it’s a start. This will also shift the Congressional focus from the cable companies so the lawmakers can focus more on the broadcaster’s roll in all this migration business.
"It's kind of difficult to carry high-def signals when the broadcasters don't provide them," said Marc O. Smith, senior director of communications for the National Cable and Telecommunications Association. Smith added that as an industry "with signals and a willingness to negotiate carriage, it's in our best interest to deliver HDTV. This [Comcast's plan] is a pretty major step in the evolution. It's a large launch by an operator that could become the largest operation in the country with the merger of AT&T Broadband."
Charter Communications, Inc. has also announced that high-definition television (HDTV) programming will be made available to customers during the second quarter of this year in five markets: Alhambra/Pasadena and Glendale/Burbank, Calif.; University Park, Texas; South Miami, Fla.; and Birmingham, Ala. More markets, including Kalamazoo, Mich., and St. Louis, will be added during the third quarter.
Other cable companies are proceeding at their own pace. "We're big supporters of HDTV, and it's clear from this [Comcast's move] that it's working," said Michael Luftman, spokesman for Time Warner Cable, which he says is carrying at least some HDTV in all of its biggest operations. "I don't think that it would be possible for us to go any faster than we've been going in rolling out HDTV."
"As more high-definition televisions are purchased by our customers, we need to be responsive to their special needs," said John Pietri, senior vice president of Engineering. "HDTV technology provides an incredible viewing experience, and Charter's hybrid fiber-coax infrastructure, perhaps the most advanced in the industry, will provide high-definition television owners with the ultimate viewing experience."
There is little doubt that other cable operators will begin to make similar moves when they see viewers abandon the hard connect for Direct to Home services that have been carrying HDTV for several months. Both DirecTV and Dish Network offer quite a few hours of both entertainment and sports to those who have the proper configuration to receive their signals. ***********************************
According to SkyTrends three states now have over a million subscribers SkyTRENDS' year-end 2001 map detailing satellite TV, cable and TV households for every state is here, and the data shows that the dish is scoring big in a number of key regions.
As usual, Vermont led the nation in overall home satellite subscription penetration (more than 40 percent of Vermont's TV households get TV via a dish). The most populous states (California, Florida and Texas) recorded the largest numbers of new additions. Those three states each had more than 1 million satellite TV customers at the end of 2001, SkyTRENDS' data states.
In terms of growth during 2001, Hawaii, New Jersey, Washington D.C., California, Connecticut and Illinois all came out with more than 30 percent in gains.
By: Larry Bloomfield
Nine leading companies announced that they have jointly established the basic specifications for a next generation large capacity optical disc video recording format called "Blu-ray Disc". The Blu-ray Disc enables the recording, rewriting and play back of up to 27 gigabytes (GB) of data on a single sided single layer 12cm CD/DVD size disc using a 405nm blue-violet laser. The companies that established the basic specifications for the Blu- ray Disc are: Hitachi Ltd., LG Electronics Inc., Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., Pioneer Corporation, Royal Philips Electronics, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., Sharp Corporation, Sony Corporation, and Thomson Multimedia.
Just when this consortium of Japanese electronics manufacturers thought they had the answer to everyone’s disk storage issues, InPhase Technologies today announced that it will demonstrate the world's first holographic video recording system at the upcoming National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) convention in Las Vegas, April 8-11 The InPhase system, called Tapestry (TM), will demonstrate holographic read- write functions for broadcast-quality video. Holographic data storage is poised to become the next generation of optical storage, beyond DVD. InPhase will target the professional video industry as its initial vertical market, but you can bet your bottom dollar that there is a consumer market out there too. The Tapestry system will come to market in the fourth quarter of 2003, and will initially hold 100 GB of data, enough for 20 compressed feature-length films, or roughly 30 minutes of uncompressed high-definition video.
By Steve Effros
While it rarely gets mentioned in this way, the truth is that the pole attachment law adopted by Congress in 1976 was probably one of the most significant factors in cable television becoming what it is today. Without the decision by Congress to allow the FCC to set a reasonable rate formula for cable's use of utility poles, the costs and other impediments would have been so high that the cable infrastructure would have been very difficult to build.
Recent efforts by some utilities to get out from under the pole attachment rate formulas set by the federal government give you some idea of what we were facing back then. Power and telephone companies, which generally own the poles (either individually or jointly), have long been famous for either throwing numerous roadblocks in the way of cable operators using those poles (they see us as a potential competitor), or setting confiscatory, monopolistic rates since they knew that localities would not allow two sets of poles on every street. They were the only game in town.
This all started back in the '50s and '60s when some pole owners, particularly telephone companies, tried to force cable operators into "lease- back" agreements where the telephone company required that it build the system and then "lease" it to the cable operator. The Feds stopped that gambit, and the response was to charge exorbitant fees for the use of the poles and create myriad inspections, "make-ready" fees, and delays for the cable operator, who had no choice but to use those poles.
The cable industry went to Congress and said that if the government really wanted this new technology to flourish, something had to be done about the "squeeze" being put on operators by the utility pole owners. Congress responded by giving the FCC the responsibility for establishing a reasonable formula for the use of poles for cable service. That has been the law ever since. Pole rates have been between $4 and $8 per year based on that formula.
Then Internet service came along. The utility pole owners thought they saw a loophole. They said the pole attachment law only applied to cable service, not this new service, so as soon as an operator tried to offer it, they wanted to get out from under the federal pole attachment formula and charge anything they wanted. In some cases we were seeing proposed 600% increases. Some fees jumped to more than $50 per pole per year. Customers would have been hit with an extra $1.50 per month just for that increase! The utilities won in the lower court, the logic being that the pole attachment law only applied to cable service. But the Supreme Court last week said no, the pole attachment law was intended to give the FCC authority to control those pole rates, and that applied to all services offered. It was a big win for cable.
But there is still a gaping hole in this law. Municipally owned poles and those owned by "co-ops" are exempt. Their political muscle, particularly on rural members of Congress, got them that exemption. It makes no sense. Those same members of Congress complain about the "digital divide" between rural and urban service, yet in mostly rural areas they allow the utility pole owners to gouge the cable operator and retard telecommunications service to their constituents! There needs to be a change in that exemption, otherwise the logic of the pole attachment law and the concern over the rural "digital divide" will remain poles apart.
By Fred Lawrence
Univision Communications Inc., the parent company of the Hispanic television network, Univision and cable service Galavision recently a 24-hour general interest Spanish-language broadcast network nationwide. TeleFutura will offer America's fastest-growing television audience new choices currently not available in Spanish-language entertainment. By counter-programming traditional Spanish-language broadcast networks, TeleFutura will broadly appeal to Hispanics of all ages, further expanding the much sought after Spanish television viewing audience.
If anyone still doubts the importance of Spanish-language markets in the U.S., the U.S. With the Census Bureau lists 12.5 percent of the U.S. population as "Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin," and if John Malone, former AT&T boss, is putting up hefty chunks of money, can anyone doubt the potential here?
The Miami-based TeleFutura will initially broadcast to 42 stations (23 owned and operated stations and 19 affiliates) across 27 markets nationwide, reaching approximately 70% of Hispanic homes. Univision Communications' owned TeleFutura stations include:
New York/WFUT and WFTY
Miami- Ft. Lauderdale/WAMI
San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose/KFSF
Phoenix-Flagstaff/KFPH and KFPH-CA
Tucson- Douglas/KFTU and KTAZ-LP
Santa Barbara/KTSB-LP, K10OG, K21EX, K28FK, and K35ER-CA.
Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto/KEZT-CA and KEXT-CA
Austin/KBVO-LP, KHPB-LP, KHPG-LP, KHPX-LP, KHPL-LP, KHPZ-LP and KHPM-LP
Las Vegas/KELV-LP; Corpus Christi/ KCRP-CA
Monterey-Salinas/KDJT- CA; Hartford/WUTH-CA
Bakersfield/KMMB-LP and KSUV-LP
From: BRIAN LOWRY of the Los Angeles Times
A few years ago, some time after a corporate marriage made local AM news- radio stations KNX (1070) and KFWB (980) part of one big family, on-air promotion for the stations subtly changed. Sure, they still ran the usual "We're L.A.'s No. 1 news station" ads, but the nastier "We're No. 1, and the other guy stinks"-type spots quietly disappeared.
Such is the way of the sneaky world of media consolidation, where old- fashioned, bare-knuckled competition grudgingly gives way to attempted "synergy," as companies that bring us news, information and banal sitcoms keep getting bigger and more powerful, while simultaneously trying to use their various assets to prop up and support each other.
A few titans already control the majority of television programs you see as well as the channels over which they're delivered, and a recent federal court ruling will probably clear the way for further concentration of media ownership-particularly in regard to TV stations, aping the merger mania that has transformed radio.
It's equally clear that when this subject comes up, you can sense eyes glazing over and hands fumbling for the sports section or crossword puzzle-in part, one suspects, because you practically need physicist Stephen Hawking to explain how the regulations work. So with more shaking and merging to come, here's another, perhaps futile attempt to explain why people should care about this issue, and why a passing knowledge of who owns what is important not only to one's role as a TV viewer, but, without sounding too melodramatic, also as a citizen.
For starters, media consolidation will cost some of your friends and neighbors their jobs. In Los Angeles, three companies own or have pending agreements under which they will operate a pair of local TV stations-a situation known as a "duopoly"-with Fox parent News Corp. running KTTV (Channel 11) and KCOP (Channel 13), Viacom buying KCAL (Channel 9) to go with KCBS-TV (Channel 2), and NBC coupling KNBC-TV (Channel 4) with Spanish- language Telemundo's KVEA (Channel 52). (Editor’s Note: Telemundo also owns KWYH Channel 22 in Los Angeles See the story by Richard Lahti in the February issue of Broadcast Engineering.).
The driving force behind these deals-and there will be more like them if the current Federal Communications Commission behaves as expected-is the possibility of running stations more cost-effectively, which means phasing out overlapping staff. It also probably means less devotion to local programming and news, with many stations in smaller cities having already eliminated news operations.
This is occurring even though broadcast stations are allegedly obligated to serve "the public interest," a term with about as much relevance in the current regulatory environment as "buggy whip maintenance." Yet however quaint that goody-two-shoes phrase may sound, all it really means is that TV stations come to you over (and make lots of money from using) publicly licensed airwaves and, as a result, ought to give something back to the community other than televised freeway chases and reruns of "Just Shoot Me."
On a broader level, media companies are powerful and influential. The news and information they choose to convey helps set the political agenda, and the entertainment they distribute establishes trends ranging from hairstyles (although that Jennifer Aniston "Friends" thing is so yesterday) to fashion to women wanting to stretch the wrinkles out of their face like an old blouse.
In fact, one reason people don't generally care about media consolidation, suggests Jeff Chester, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Digital Democracy, is that television-the principal source of news for a majority of Americans-has devoted virtually no coverage to the issue.
"The principal messenger that informs the public has a conflict here and has not informed the public [as to] what is going on," said Chester, noting that the companies that control the industry's leading news outlets are the beneficiaries of deregulation.
Even newspapers, as a coalition of lobbyists out to preserve regulatory safeguards recently said, are now often conflicted when it comes to fulfilling their traditional watchdog role in policing other media, because many papers are owned by the same major media companies-including this one, whose corporate parent, the Tribune Co., also owns KTLA (Channel 5) and part of the WB network.
In some cities, newspapers and television stations are forming cooperative relationships to pool news-gathering resources, turning them into partners instead of competitors-a pattern that can and will probably exist under TV duopoly situations as well. Some newspapers have gone so far to avoid the appearance of conflict as ceasing to review programs on sister stations or even their rivals, though it's hard to see how that serves readers.
Despite the apparent glut of available options, then, it's possible that consumers will actually receive less choice, under a less competitive environment, with less diverse viewpoints-or at least less criticism and analysis of the programming they see.
Granted, it's hard for many to fathom how this can be a significant issue in a world that has room for individual channels devoted to gardening, food, golf and science fiction, plus three all-news cable networks-including one, Fox News Channel, that pointedly positions itself as a counterpoint to the others' perceived liberal bias.
Because so many channels pass through the same corporate funnel, however, the question of true diversity merits legitimate consideration.
Think of the cable box or satellite dish as a magazine, where there are dozens of separate stories but all ultimately pass through the same editor. That's not too far, really, from the situation in the media, where there are countless programs, channels and delivery methods but a mere handful of filters and copyright holders.
Finally, if for no other reason, the reshaping of the media landscape bears watching because all the corporate machinations, Washington power-brokering, multibillion-dollar deals and questions of conflict and eroding journalistic standards amount to quite a show, although most of you wonderful people in the dark-to quote the aging and addled star in "Sunset Blvd."-are sleeping through it.
Of course, that's good news for the media barons, who have investment bankers cheering from the wings, rooting for them to launch a splashy revival of "The Big Media Merger" follies. Media owners still need the patronage of consumers, too, to watch and embrace their programming, but they'll breathe a sigh of relief if this new big-budget revue proceeds just like the last one, without the public giving it so much as a second thought.
From: Des Chaskelson, SCRI International
Ron Burdett, CEO, Sunset Digital, Glendale, CA tells us: “The postproduction industry is beginning to settle down. HD is now a way of life. HD is the enabling technology for digital cinema, and unless we had raised the bar to the HD level, we would never have been able to see the kind of images that we are now seeing in digital cinema. We work pretty closely with manufacturers on so much of these new technologies that we always have a pretty good idea what you’re going to see. What you’re looking for at NAB is one of those young upstarts hidden away in the corner. We’re always looking in the corners or in the backrooms. We are going to be looking at a better version of 3:2 extraction. We have this monster in the U.S. that’s called 60 interlace. How do you get from 60I to 24P? That’s one of the greatest challenges. We have some boxes that do a great job of it, but a lot of work still needs to be done.”
Just a reminder: SCRI also has a new HDTV Overview Report available for $495 | $295 to SCRI's Insider Report Subscribers (http://www.scri.com/newscov.html). For more information and table of contents, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Larry Bloomfield
When is enough, too much or not enough? Before you try to answer, check out the New York Times article at the following website: http://www.nytimes.com/2002/03/14/technology/14PROT.html?todaysheadlines
When will it ever stop? There is no way any lawmaking group has ever successfully legislated morality. Piracy or copywrite infringement is a moral issue; it’s theft. All the laws made over all the centuries and millennia since man has walked this planet have never been able to stop people from stealing other people’s property, physical or intellectual. We see crime rates raise and fall as the morals of the citizenry raise and fall. So who is responsible for the morals of individuals? Certainly not the government, nor is it Hollywood.
I do not condone any form of theft, piracy or any other illegal activity, but when I lock the doors on my office or home, I trust that someone with the ability to circumvent my safeguards won’t apply their skills. Even if I were to reinforce door and put bars on the windows, if someone were of a mind to break in and steal me blind, there’s not much hope. One would think that when Hollywood puts their security measures into a DVD, VHS tape or music media, they have to expect, like any community, that someone’s house is going to get broken into.
If you were to listen to Hollywood, the alleged increase in piracy of music and motion pictures is in the process of making the very streets of tinsel- town as financially shaky as an 8 point 5 on the Richter scale. Bear in mind that this is coming from an industry that has just reported the highest capitol income in its entire history. Is this truly a quest for greater control or just pure lust for the almighty dollar spawn out of lust to get the very last cent?
Speaking to the issues of copyright protection, Steven P. Jobs, chief executive of Apple Computer said: "Unfortunately in many cases, fear is paralyzing Hollywood's ability to seize what I believe is an incredible opportunity." Continuing, "We at Apple believe most people want to be honest, and if offered reasonable choices, most people will choose to buy their content."
Signal theft is equally a problem, but you seldom hear any of these guys brought to justice. The following story will certainly helps me to understand why. I know a fellow in San Jose who recently purchased six “smart cards” for DirecTV satellite receiver boxes over the internet from a guy with the user nickname of “SATMAN” at an AOL address. The cards sold for a thousand dollars and were shipped from an address in White Bear Lake, MN.
Upon receipt, none of the cards worked. The San Jose fellow called the White Bear Lake purveyor of these illegal “smart cards” and said he either wanted his money back or “good” cards. He was told to send them back and they’d be replaced. Now the White Bear Lake guy has both the six non-working cards and the San Jose guy’s money.
I received a phone call from the San Jose guy and was asked to help him. I called the White Bear Lake police department detectives, told them the story and sent them copies of the shipping and other documents. It’s been over sixty days and nothing so far.
The real capper to all this is when I called DirecTV to inform them of this illegal operation. I got such a cavalier attitude the likes of which has not been seen since the knights of yore. In the several attempts to call DirecTV’s security people, I was never permitted to speak with anyone in that department, nor did anyone at the other end of the phone even seem remotely interested. Anyone have any ideas?
At this stage of the game, I don’t think the San Jose guy will ever see his money or the “smart cards” and if the White Bear Lake guy is smart, he’ll shut down shop and hope that he hasn’t sold any of his bad merchandise to members of the mafia.
Senator Ernest F. Hollings, Democrat of South Carolina and chairman of the Commerce Committee, says that without technological safeguards Hollywood may never offer the kind of high-quality programming for digital television and broadband Internet services that would generate consumer interest and, in turn, economic growth.
The question is: Is Hollywood asking or expecting too much? Silicon Valley veterans say it is not the responsibility of technology to enforce copyright law. Telling technology companies to build devices that prevent copyright infringement, they contend, is like telling automakers to build cars that cannot exceed the speed limit.
As technology improves, it offers more and better capability. There’s no questions that better and improved safeguards must go hand-in-hand, but to have to listed to, or read about the poor movie studios or direct-to-home satellite folks crying over lost revenues, no one in their respective camps should be the least bit surprised if they don’t get the highest degree of empathy when it comes to hearing about their problems.
Ultimately, technology executives say, the problem is a pragmatic one: it may simply be impossible to devise a copy-protection system that cannot be cracked.
What do you think about all of this?
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