NEWS AND VIEWS October 1, 2008
Mike and Laurel Kohl
S-9141 State Road 23
Plain, Wisconsin 53577-9612
October 1, 2008
Would you believe? (Starting a conversation like Maxwell Smart used to??) I actually got started on an updated News & Views segment before the middle of September, but got interrupted, and have been extremely busy with lots of distractions besides what's going wrong in the world and on television. Last chapter we were in the middle of the Beijing Olympics. It was a very exciting event, with some spectacular performances, and most of us were probably wrung out by the time they ended on August 24th. We hardly got to breathe, and the political season started immediately. Not just here, but even Canada called an election, with their results due about 3 weeks before Americans get to cast their ballots. And we're already tired of listening to both. But September brought the beginning of the new TV season, and now there is even less free time to deal with, if you are a conspicuous consumer of things coming from the "devil's eyeball".
Wow, I haven't heard that word used since it was uttered by some Jehovah's Witnesses about 20 years ago, and it just entered my mind. And the output of those TV sets has gotten much better and much worse since that conversation...in all extremes. Perhaps the past few days of headlines give one to thoughts of the apocalypse. We are now sitting in the middle of a contentious election and a meltdown of the stock market and possibly our financial system. Tensions are escalating around the world, with reactions from the events in outlying areas of Russia and Georgia from mid-August. Politicians are saying stupid things, and some unbelievable alliances are taking place. If you have high speed Internet and a satellite system, it doesn't get much better than this! The world is at your fingertips, and though you might want to run away from the headlines after a while, most have to admit that it is compelling television...and we're not talking scripted network series TV.
Let's start and re-cap the news of the past two months. We have been sitting under the radar awaiting news of a court decision involving DISH Network and companies manufacturing Free To Air satellite receivers. Three cases have been building between DISH and the makers of Viewsat, Coolsat, and Pansat receivers. DISH Network's lawyers used court issued subpoenas to force many satellite dealers to turn over names of retail customers of MPEG-2 satellite receivers. Coolsat's parent company (Freetech) managed to contact the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) in California's Bay Area, who challenged the necessity of DISH Network getting such information. This request was first heard on September 15th, and a decision was made public yesterday. The judge determined that DISH Network had over-reached in their request for information, on the basis of many privacy issues, outlined in intricate detail in an eight page argument by EFF. While it does not end litigation, it does set a precedent for the first time, that there are limits in what companies can do in an attempt to fight piracy of their signals. Hopefully this decision will point things in the right direction to preserve the ability of honest law-abiding citizens to use satellite equipment for legitimate reception of non-subscription digital signals. What they were asking, in thinly veiled attempts to harass innocent consumers with no connection to the piracy of DISH Network signals, could be likened to someone suing the makers of Betty Crocker Brownie Mix and demanding its sale be outlawed, because some people might add hashish to their brownies. Betty Crocker would take a dim view of the rest of their customers having to go without their excellent food product because there are people out there adding illegal substances to their baking mix. Satellite technology is a broad area, with multitudes of legitimate consumer uses that do not involve a subscription. DISH Network had better get used to the idea that they have a flawed security system that needs to be fixed. DirecTV was successful in dealing with similar issues, and now no longer has the piracy problem that plagued them for years. Signals simply need to be properly secured, people need to pay for subscription television when it is delivered, and the court system should not be used as a hammer to involve innocent bystanders that happen to be using a similar (but not modified) product to legitimately receive other signals. Go after the criminals, but leave the rest of us alone! While it may be common legal practice to sacrifice a few dolphins when dragging the oceans with a large net, that does not make it right. I encourage anyone that is concerned with the abuse of the legal system to contact Charlie Ergen (the man at the top of the DISH Network totem pole) and let him know that his lawyers need to be reigned in. Pissing off innocent consumers is no way to attract positive public relations. DISH is having a bad year with legal and financial issues, and it would behoove them to take a serious look at their overall public image before any other negative news becomes the center of headlines.
Public Television (PBS) is taking steps this week to move their primary Ku-band delivery system over to a new satellite at 125 West, AMC-21. Signals will continue to be simulcast on 87 West, AMC-3, until the latter part of November. We expect stronger signal levels over a wider geographical range, and there is the promise of a second PBS-HD feed, for the Pacific time zone. Audio will be in Dolby Digital AC-3 5.1 format, so you will either need to consider an HD receiver such as the Pansat 9200-HD with built-in AC-3 audio decoding and HD reception, or get a component stereo audio receiver with a Dolby digital processor, which can accept digital outputs from certain standard definition MPEG-2 digital receivers (we suggest the Traxis DBS-3500 and Pansat 2700, 3500SD, and 250SM). The Traxis unit uses both a "coaxial" output using a single RCA audio cable, as well as an Optical cable connection. The Pansat receivers use the optical method. Global Communications is putting together packages with appropriate satellite receivers (some preprogrammed, such as the Traxis DBS-3500) and an audio receiver with speakers. Those that have not updated their home audio system in decades, and are fortunate enough to not be into hard financial times yet, might consider such as system. It would give you the ability to process digital audio from such diverse sources as DVD players, satellite receivers as mentioned above, XM and Sirius satellite receivers, as well as local FM radio reception. Not to mention the ability to connect audio from cable television and subscription satellite television receivers. Audio has never sounded better, and there has never been as many sources of sound at your disposal. Need we also mention the resources of the Internet, and streaming audio?
There is beginning to be a shortage of DSR-920 and DSR-922 "4DTV" receivers; Motorola has not made any new units for some time, and is not supporting the product as in the past. If you have a working unit of either type, and would like to sell it, please drop us an Email. A major U.S. supplier would like to acquire and renew such units so that they can be sold again in the consumer retail marketplace at a reasonable price.
A supply of 50 x 50 inch
Non-Penetrating Roof Mount bases has also got our attention, and is being
paired with some low cost 36-inch offset dish inventory that we
have. Imagine centering a 90 cm dish, and having the ability to
attach 2, 3 or 4 more antennas to the same common platform for
installation on a deck or other flat ground location, without having to
permanently attach to the building, or pour any cement. You just add
lumber, and bolt it or sheet-metal screw the wood to the 50 x 50 inch
metal grid, and build upon it. One can add a few cement cinder
blocks or half blocks for more ballast, but it is often not
necessary. Our starter system (for pickup only) involves one 90 cm
antenna with T-mount base and a 50 x 50 inch NPRM grid and single output
JSC-321 Ku-band LNBF. 129.00...pickup here. We could ship
these, but it would take some serious strapping and possibly excessive
freight charges due to the size of these items. There is a way, but
unless you ordered more than one unit, it might not be economical sensible
to freight across the country.
Until next time,