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Rural Internet Broadband sufffers from Intelsat-7 failure

The Intelsat-7 satellite, in Clarke orbit over the equator hovering at 129 degrees west, failed Sunday due to an 'electrical fault', leaving about 20,000 customers out of service. If you know someone who used a StarBand satellite rig for broadband Internet in the boonies, well, they're down for the count and on dial-up now. You can track this issue and alt.satellite.starband on USENET.

Slashdotter Pundit Roblimo Talks Linux Wednesday

Slashdot is a massively anarchic and rather nerd-centric institution, part of the Open Source Technology Group, funded by IT industry heavyweights.

Well, one of their Linux gurus, Robin Miller AKA 'Roblimo', a prolific tech writer, will be in a Washington Post on-line interview Wednesday at 10 AM Pacific, 1PM Eastern.

He will be talking about his new book, Point and Click Linux, which includes a CD intended for anyone, even the proverbial Aunt Minnie, to get started with the free, reliable and secure alternative to Microsoft Windows.

If you have any interest in Linux, this on-line discussion and the links above would be worth your time.


Bubba the Bomb-Blowing-Up 'Bot Goes to Iraq

I recall reading earlier this year about GIs using R/C controllers to safely jam or pre-detonate IEDs (improvised explosive devices) in Iraq. Now, Slashdot posted an article on a 1.1 kilobuck Improvised Anti-Explosive Device, based on an off-the-shelf R/C truck.
During the summer of 2004 Tackle Design co-founder and principle Jonathan Kuniholm was called to serve in Iraq as Platoon Commander in the Marine's 4th Combat Engineer Battalion.

Jonathan and Howard's goal was to build a low-cost remote reconnaissance device that could provide close-up video of possible explosives, allowing the platoon to increase their vigilance in protecting themselves and civilians from danger while reducing the
number false alarms requiring EOD support. In addition to reconnaissance they also wanted to provide the possibility of safely delivering an explosive charge to detonate and disarm explosives in circumstances where required to do so.

Not only anti-IED, but anti-spendy too, when compared to the standard UXB equipment. As a taxpayes, I say Kewl.


HD TV tips

I posted this over on the Oregonian's Tech forum on 11/28/04, and then decided it needed expansion.

1. Craigslist's electronics section can be an excellent source for used HDTV gear, as videophiles will be trading up and selling their old gear. You can look on eBay and Froogle to get an idea of prices for comparable gear and what used equipment's market price is.

2. You can get HDTV
a) off the air with an antenna
b) with cable (Comcast, et al.)
c) with a dish (DirecTV and DISH network). Some of their receivers may not work with off-air or have all the features available for off-air use - so check carefully).

3. Sets (whether tube, projection, LCD or plasma) often do not have the receiver built in. Make sure you get a receiver in whatever you buy.

4. Recording: There are Tivos and Tivo-like PVRs & DVRs to record HDTV, and you can get a DVHS (Digital VHS) recorder to give you the ability to record and keep or record and watch later. However, HDTV requires a *lot* more storage capacity, so HDTV DVRs record much less time when saving HDTV than when saving analog TV shows.

5. There are multiple modes of HD TV transmission, but 720p is the best looking, followed by 1080i. Other modes look no better, IMHO, than good analog TV.

6. Here are three Washington Post articles on HD TV you may find useful:
Guide to HDTV

HDTV somewhat explained

Transcript of an on-line chat with the reporter

And, remember; it's only television.


Fireproofing Your Tower's Coax

Here, a publicly-spirited ham (and isn't that redundant?) shows the flammability of some kinds of coax, and how to reduce or eliminate the risk.

Twelve kilobucks later, stupidity found no excuse for jamming ham radio

The FCC has fined Portland Taxicab $12,000 for operating on frequencies without FCC authorization, transmission of spurious emissions resulting in harmful interference to an amateur radio station, lame excuses and general stupdity. Nice to know the FCC occasionally does something useful to keep the airwaves clean.


Gmail! Gmail!

Gmail! Gmail!

Yes, Google has POP3 access to Gmail now. They're rolling it out slowly over the next two weeks.

If you have Gmail, log in to your account., click 'Settings' at the top of any Gmail page, then look for 'Forwarding and POP' in the orange 'Mail Settings' box. If you have 'Forwarding' only, you're not invited yet.

No, I don't have an invite, yet. I'm just getting ready to roll when they do give me POP3 access, and looking for SSL (aka STARTTLS) compatible clients for my Palm Tungsten dub-ya.

When I have more invites, I will post them to the local Craigslist.

Of course, some e-mail marketers are concerned it will be easier to filter out their commercial messages. Oh, shucky-darn.

So, M$ drops free POP3 Hotmail access, Yahoo charges $20/yr. for it, and Gmail gives it away. Who loves ya, baby?

And, one wonders whether the 'accidental' terabyte of storage some Gmail users have discovered was an accident in the lab, or if it's a revelation of Google's next great thing. Hmm.


Dumb Law for Smart Guns

I sure would hate to be a cop in Jersey after smart guns make their appearance. You gotta know that version 1.0 will be a little scary.. will they work after mud, dirt and blood clog the sensors? Will there be a brisk market in gun sensor jammers? Not to mention the first schmo who gets charged for murder on the basis that his gun was hacked.

Somehow, I doubt the crooks' guns will be fully standards-compliant.