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Comment: Slashdot LOVES cell phone tracking (Score 1) 168

by evilviper (#48215365) Attached to: Austin Airport Tracks Cell Phones To Measure Security Line Wait

I don't know what it is, but slashdot editors just LOVE the hell out of cell phone tracking. I mean, there has probably been a story or two on the subject before now:

Everyone go out and find all the cell phone tracking stories you can, and submit every one to /. They love it when you do that!

Comment: Re:backup for 911 (Score 1) 115

by evilviper (#48215259) Attached to: Software Glitch Caused 911 Outage For 11 Million People

What are the odds your family isn't all on a single cellular carrier, making you unable to take advantage of such redundancy?

Verizon and Sprint are compatible, while AT&T and T-Mobile are compatible. And with them all switching to LTE, it's likely they will all be mutually compatible in a few more years, when manufacturers start selling multi-band LTE phones.

Most every post-paid cellular plan includes voice roaming. Even if you're not paying for roaming normally, when you dial 911, all restrictions are dropped, and your cell will connect to any available tower from any provider that it can.

Comment: Re:backup for 911 (Score 1) 115

by evilviper (#48210307) Attached to: Software Glitch Caused 911 Outage For 11 Million People

In FIOS areas, it's no longer possible to get a POTS landline. You can get a phone service over FIOS, but it's subject to wall-power being available, and you're using the same E-911 system as normal VoIP or cell phone services, anyhow. It's the FCC that's to blame for me not having a landline.

Also, there's no reason cellular 911 service shouldn't be ultra-reliable. There are 4 different nationwide carriers in the US. What are the odds that all 4 of them will have ALL their overlapping cell towers in an area knocked-out? That does happen, today, but ONLY because the FCC pussied-out on requiring them to have backup generators in each cell tower, and lets them just keep a few backup batteries in there for short power outages.

And if some event damages the fiber-optic line to my house, there's no chance I'm fixing it... At least with a cell phone I have the option of climbing onto higher-ground and trying to get a signal from a more remote tower, or even just SMS texting emergency services (coming real-soon-now) and hoping.

With ad-hoc WiFi in cell phones, people may soon be able to self-assemble into their own wireless network that spans whole cities, after a disaster knocks-out all other local service. Try that with your land-line.

Comment: Re:The end for me (Score 1) 937

by evilviper (#47930673) Attached to: Why Atheists Need Captain Kirk

...scratch that. SoylentNews turns out to be just as bad as /. in this regard. They posted this same damn story, too, and the head of the site has stated they don't want to be a tech site at all.

Instead, my last hope rests with pipedot, which is much more like an old-fashioned /. with a focus on sci/tech instead of flamebait crap. Hell, the sci/tech stories even get more comments on pipedot than they do on SoylentNews, which says a lot about the community.

Comment: Re:Multi-family units (Score 1) 80

by evilviper (#47898859) Attached to: L.A. TV Stations Free Up Some Spectrum For Wireless Broadband

an apartment where she does share the building with up to 15 other families.

That doesn't preclude installing an antenna, it just reduces your options. Multi-floor apartment balconies and/or windows usually get pretty good TV reception. If previous occupants had DBS dishes mounted, you can stick an antenna on that J-channel. And landlords are usually reasonable. You can always ask for permission to install an antenna, explaining the non-destructive mounting option (chimney straps, non-penetrating root mount, etc.) you'd like to use, and promise it'll be less unsightly than what you'll do if they refuse.

Comment: Re:Of course they don't need the full spectrum (Score 1) 80

by evilviper (#47897537) Attached to: L.A. TV Stations Free Up Some Spectrum For Wireless Broadband

Speaking of technical, it was only recently you can easily find actual frequencies used by TV stations (needed if you are using UHF wireless mics). After the DTV transition, I could not find actual frequencies used which drove me nuts because those that say it is same as NTSC are wrong

Umm, has had that info forever.

I linked to the FCC's DTV transition plan in my journal about OTA TV in 2007:

"FCC DTV tentative frequency assigments"

If you're talking about the center frequency, that's a very simple conversion. The Linux DVB package contains two text files listing center frequencies:


ATSC eg.:
A 57028615 8VSB
A 63028615 8VSB
A 69028615 8VSB
A 79028615 8VSB
A 85028615 8VSB

Comment: Re:Sharing channel == worse picture quality (Score 1) 80

by evilviper (#47897499) Attached to: L.A. TV Stations Free Up Some Spectrum For Wireless Broadband

Sadly, even if we move to picocells, the antennas will still need to be "visible" and will still have some "size" to them due to the frequencies they need to handle.

Actually, wavelength at 800Mhz is only about 1ft (~30cm), so that's practical to hide. Hell, you could disguise it as a chimney or some other roof penetration.

My plan would be to mount them on telephone poles wherever available. There, they could just use business-class cable/DSL/FIOS service as the backhaul. Maybe that possibility would encourage Verizon to expand their FIOS deployment, since the big money is in cellular. AT&T's U-Verse fiber network could support it, too. Sprint/T-Mobile would be at a disadvantage, but maybe deals with local cable companies would help both sides compete. After all, where you need several picocells is right where there are already large populations, and already have wired options installed.

With that plan, cellular data could actually be both faster and cheaper than wired internet access.

Comment: Re:Sharing channel == worse picture quality (Score 1) 80

by evilviper (#47897427) Attached to: L.A. TV Stations Free Up Some Spectrum For Wireless Broadband

I certainly don't need the mod points, but it's damn sad to see the ass-backwards moderation on this story.

This factually incorrect nonsense is +5:

While my correction actually got modded down:

Similarly with this thread, I'm clearly the only one who has provided information specific to the situation, and my comments get ignored, while generalized rants with terrible info are +5.

It's a crushing disappointment to see just what /. has turned into... I can only hope SoylentNews does better.

Comment: Re:They also use considerably higher frequencies. (Score 0) 80

by evilviper (#47891577) Attached to: L.A. TV Stations Free Up Some Spectrum For Wireless Broadband

VHF frequencies tended to flow around obstructions. UHF frequencies tended to be more "line of sight".

Lower frequencies cast a much longer shadow behind obstacles, where higher frequencies will fill-in the area more immediately behind the obstacle. People might be most familiar with AM radio fading out when driving under a bridge, while FM radio does not.

The flip side of that, which you're talking about, is that lower frequencies will lose less of their power over long distances, diffracting around the curvature of the earth, than higher frequencies.

However, that's largely compensated for by UHF broadcast and consumer receive antennas having much higher "gain" than VHF, as well as the FCC accounting for the difference and allowing UHF broadcasters to crank-up their broadcast power accordingly.

In theory, it's possible to receive VHF stations further away. In practice, you'll have a hell of a time picking up either VHF or UHF more than 50 miles away, and it gets pretty expensive after that (unless you're blessed with ideal terrain).

In my case, with some effort, I can pickup both VHF and UHF stations from 130 miles away, and the UHF stations happen to be stronger than the VHF stations.

Comment: Re:Sharing channel == worse picture quality (Score 1) 80

by evilviper (#47891199) Attached to: L.A. TV Stations Free Up Some Spectrum For Wireless Broadband

So two stations that were previously using 6 MHz bandwidth each, will now share one channel, presumably using 3 MHz each.... and so each will have a 50% drop in picture quality. How is this a good thing for the consumer?

Answer: Because NOTHING you've said has a shred of truth. You might try looking-up KCET and KLCS before ignorantly spouting off next time...

KLCS has been operating on a waiver... They've never been broadcasting any HD channels, but just 4 SD channels. KCET has one HD 720p channel, and 3 SD subs. The two can pretty easily fit in the 19Mbps bandwidth of a single 6MHz carrier, without degrading quality at all. In addition, both could stand to drop some of those sub-channels...

KCET's NHK channel largely duplicates KSCI's carriage of several hours of NHK programming per day, as well as both KCET and KLCS carrying a half hour segments of NHK on their main channels, several times a day. Incidentally, KSCI has been operating with 9-10 SD subchannels in their single 6MHz channel for years, now.

Answer #2: PBS in the greater Los Angeles area is a complete fucking mess.

Before KCET dropped their PBS affiliation (an idiotic move, but that's another topic), they were just one of 5 PBS stations available in the greater LA area: KCET, KLCS, KOCE, KVCR, KPBS (and likely others). Now they're down to a mere 4, which is still frankly 2 or 3 too many. All of which are broadcasting almost the same content as each other, often at or near each others' time-slots. Each covers their own smaller footprint, with their own smaller niche, getting a fraction of the public donations during their pledge drives. Whereas one single PBS broadcaster in could cover a larger area, get a bigger chunk of viewers, get a bigger chunk of the donations, and improve their programming, accordingly.

KCET should just up and die, already. They dropped their PBS affiliation in a dispute over money, complaining they were paying out half their income to get PBS programming. Since then, their income has dropped by far more than half, because they no longer have any content most anyone wants to watch. They're only delaying the inevitable by selling off their assets; first their large and empty TV studio, and now their transmitter.

It's kind-of a good move for KLCS OTA TV viewers in SoCal, because KCET had invested in building several digital repeaters, to provide a very strong signal in areas where it is difficult or expensive to get Los Angeles area broadcasts. A sadly worthless move once they dropped their PBS affiliation and nobody watched their channel anymore, but getting KLCS on there would deliver PBS content again, and get some use out of it.

The FCC's "repacking" is a dammed cluster-fuck, screwing over OTA viewers (whose numbers are currently RISING after the digital transition made OTA far more viable). By reducing viewing options, and/or pushing broadcasters into less viable channels (eg. VHF-lo) where their broadcast footprint will be reduced, they're starting to destroy the system they've slowly and painfully built-up over the past 75 years. This just for the benefit of cell-phone companies, who would rather throw more money at buying-up the public's available spectrum (at very cheap, fire-sale prices), rather than investing in picocell sites with smaller horizons and much higher frequency reuse. But the one small advantage it offers is the chance for sick and failing TV broadcasters to cash-out in a cash-positive way.

A language that doesn't have everything is actually easier to program in than some that do. -- Dennis M. Ritchie