This Year's Rebate....
Fred Baumgartner, SBE Chapter 48
This entire article is a digression, so you may skip to the last paragraph without losing a thing...
Ah, so you've elected to read the whole story... For those of you who have served in some capacity with the SBE, you are aware that from nearly the beginnings of the organization, the SBE has issued a "Chapter Rebate" to local chapters. This is a service on the part of the SBE National organization, providing some small percentage of the yearly dues to provide subsistence level funding for the local chapters. Nothing to get too excited about, but enough to cover postage for meeting announcements. Local chapters face a larger logistical challenge raising funds compared to the National office with their fancy membership forms, rosters, credit card machines, and all. For as long as anyone can remember, Bill Harris has kept the books and initiated the fund raisings as required. For several years, Bill would appear at meetings wearing sackcloth and carrying a tin cup. Tough business keeping us solvent.
On the SMPTE side, the National Office has provided for some funding to the local chapters on the basis of submitting a budget and bills for mailings, and the near legendary slush funding referred to as "chair rental." Donna Zingelman keeps this together on the SMPTE side.
Over the years, each postal increase proved to be a nearly fatal financial disaster. One of the benefits of operating the local SMPTE and SBE together is to get better efficiency for meetings and notices. Most of our budgets go for postage, printing, and food. On occasion a lawyer, computer, software or something weird comes along.
With the advent of the Web letter, our printing and mailing costs have decreased faster than the USPS could raise their rates. Unless House Bill 202 (a famous hoax wherein the Government taxes the Internet) gets passed, our local chapter is probably in a stable period finance wise.
Some will remember that in the late 80s, SBE national faced the "will we grow or stagnate?" question. Many chapters returned their rebates in those years before the last dues increase, which allowed the SBE to hire a professional administrator, and increase member services. So here we are in 2002, and we have a rebate check of $900, and our reserve is adequate for the first time in human memory.
Well, before we blow it all on beer, it happens that the Ennes foundation can use our help. Ennes stepped in to help with the engineers following 9-11... and has received unbelievable support (over a quarter of a million dollars). In the meantime, the traditional support for the scholarship and educational fund has taken a back seat, as you might imagine. If you're not familiar with the Ennes foundation, the story is simple. Harold Ennes wrote textbooks for broadcast engineers, and upon his passing, a foundation was set up to continue his educational work. The Ennes Foundation is separate from the SBE, though the SBE provides lots of "free" support to keep the foundation legal, and administer the fund. So Ennes money passes essentially free of administrative costs. Ennes often supports efforts that start as SBE projects. For example, Ennes occasionally underwrites SBE books, road shows and programs. If the endeavor succeeds, most pay Ennes back, and every now and then add to the fund. Ennes also provides scholarships, typically three a year, to college students entering broadcast engineering. Note this specifically excludes communications, production, talent, journalism and speech folks... no screwdriver, no scholarship.
To make a long story short... We'd propose that this year, we donate $1000 to the Ennes foundation. I think we're grateful to be in a position where we can do that as a group. We'll take a final vote at the picnic...
Encoda Systems Going For Global
This article was first published in Front Range TechBiz, and appears here with permission. A subscription for Front Range Techbiz is free by clicking on www.frtechbiz.com.
o Company name: Encoda Systems Inc.
o Location: Encoda is based in Denver, with offices in Colorado Springs, New York, New Jersey, Tennessee, Michigan, Toronto, Montreal, the United Kingdom, France, Australia and Hong Kong.
o Describe your business: We provide comprehensive technology solutions for electronic media markets (broadcast television, cable, DBS, radio, streaming media, advertising agencies, media buyers and national sales reps).
o Top executive: Donald Doctor, CEO.
o When founded: In August 2000, Encoda was created by combining the operations of Columbine JDS Systems, Enterprise Systems, CCMS and Drake Automation/DAL. Some of those companies were founded during the 1970s.
o How long at present location? Columbine JDS moved to downtown Denver from Golden in December 1997. The other entities that make up Encoda have remained in their existing locations.
o How did you choose your present location? Downtown Denver offered a larger resource pool for high-tech job seekers, was more convenient to the airport, and provided more dining and entertainment options for visiting clients and prospects than the Golden location.
o Number of employees when founded: It varies by each of the former companies.
o Current number of employees: 830 (550 in Colorado).
o How did you get your first funding? The sources vary by each of the former companies.
o Describe your company's culture in a sentence: Encoda is transforming itself from a diverse mix of small, privately owned entrepreneurial companies into one global company that is dynamic and adaptive to the changing needs of its customers and the marketplace.
o How did the company choose its name? Encoda is derived from the first two letters of each of the former major companies: ENterprise, COlumbine JDS and Drake Automation Ltd.
o What nonwork-related achievement is your company most proud of? A variety of community service projects, coordinated by the FOCUS Committee (Friends of the Community United in Support). Projects range from building houses with Habitat for Humanity to building trails with the National Forest Service. Other projects: Colorado AIDS Walk, Maxfund, House of Joy, Stand up for Kids, The Foundation for Child and Family, Metro Care Ring, American Heart Association, Wilderness on Wheels, American Red Cross, and Avon 3-Day (Breast Cancer Research).
o What TV sitcom does your office most resemble? "Dilbert."
o What is the most embarrassing moment your company has had? Having the Denver Fire Department take away the toaster on Floor 41 because it set off too many fire alarms. No more toasted bagels.
o What are the most popular amenities you offer employees? RTD passes for Denver employees.
o Cite an unusual fact that few people outside the company know about: A majority of television stations in the United States use one of Encoda's systems to run their broadcast operation.
o Favorite Colorado ski area: Winter Park.
o Best thing about doing business in Colorado: The quality of life that Colorado offers - its climate, beauty, parks, night life, friendly people and diverse work force - all make it a great place to do business.
XM Satellite Radio - Hot Topic, Ouch!
By Mike Wenglar, Director of Engineering, KVUE TV
I have written many articles for the TAB's Chief Engineers section in the past and have received favorable as well as unfavorable comments regarding the articles. Last month's article on satellite radio and my discussion regarding XM Satellite Radio was my record on mostly unfavorable comments. I heard from mostly radio folks and a few television folks, vendors, XM listeners as well saying I don't know what I am talking about and more. Some of these comments came from broadcasters and vendors I know across the state, but I promised to keep quite who they are, but I was surprised! I never dreamed that I would step on toes at with something 23,000 miles above Austin! Maybe I trusted the person I counted on to give me a report on what he thought about the system he installed in his car. Yes, I have listened to it, but maybe not as much as I should have...according to a couple of critics. I didn't think it would look right for two grown men to sit in a parked car in a driveway and listen to the radio for hours at a time!
Being a person that likes to make sure I'm up on a subject before I talk or become critical, I coughed up $299 and bought an XM receiver made by Sony, the packaged unit that is suppose to go between the house and car. But when I got the unit, it said on the box, "use at home with the optional home kit". Looks like I would have to spend a lot of time in the driveway doing my research, which I did. The antenna is an interesting device for the cable emerging from the antenna resembles a long zip cord, but really is two parallel RG174 cables with SMB connectors marked "Ter" and "Sat" that plug into the back of the palm sized receiver. The unit came with the usual cigarette lighter adapter for power and a cassette adapter to get the audio into an existing car cassette player plus a lot of "sticky" backed tape for mounting in an automobile. This was a snap, so I threw it in the car that first day and got their "barker" channel as the cable guys call it. Hey, this thing worked with the satellite receiver antenna on the seat of the car. They really don't talk about it much, but XM have to compliment their Geo satellites (Rock and Roll) with good old terrestrial repeater transmitters, usually of a very high power and a different frequency because of the hills and tall buildings that block satellite reception. This was evident when I connected the receiver to the antenna, because "Ter" was the terrestrial antenna and "Sat" was the satellite antenna section.
After getting board with XM's barker channel, I got on the Internet to check out subscription information (www.xmradio.com). The monthly fee is $9.99 with a $9.99 one-time activation fee. They debit your credit card, but the only options are billing to your credit card quarterly, semi-annually or annually. Being a little skeptical, I signed up for just the quarterly deal. But be careful, this is a perpetual billing unless cancelled in advance. Channel 0 on the receiver gives you the receiver ID they will need to activate your radio. This took about 24 hours and then.... 170 channels of stuff! Not anything like activating that first crystal set! You got to love technology.
I know I said last month that the stations were "cookie cutter", but when I spent a couple of evenings in the driveway, I guess I can take that back. Though the neighbors think a maybe a little weird, or maybe had a fight with the wife, but my driveway listening consisted of mostly channels 4, 5, and 6 which is music from the 40's, 50's and 60's. I jocked 60's music for four years, I guess the 60's channel was my favorite. The 50's and 60's stations have jingles like radio use to do back when and some interesting jocks. Kind of brought back memories. I did like the Artist and the song titles when the song was playing on the receiver's screen. That's a nice touch! Terrestrial broadcasters can do this too, but...There are no commercials that I heard, but I know that will have to happen for them to survive. By the way, they will begin doing Audience Measurements in the spring of this year. There are some Super Stations like WSIX, KISS, MTV Radio, and VH1 to mention a few. News radio such as USA Today, CNN Headline News, The Weather Channel, CNBC, ABC News and Talk and CNNfn to mention a few. Sports, yes that is present with NASCAR Radio, Fox Sports Radio, CNN/Sports Illustrated and ESPN Radio. These mostly have commercials.
When not in the driveway, I would listen to and from work, running errands all over Austin. There are areas in Austin where I lost the signal for minutes at a time. Some areas, which are consistent, is the area around 35th street near Seton Hospital and areas north, RR 620 around the 3M plant to mention a few. There are others, but mostly short outages. There is no noise when you loose the signal, the receiver merely mutes and then returns when the signal comes back, much like digital TV, good sound or no sound. I have played with the antenna connections, removing one then other and in every case the signal I received in my auto is off of terrestrial repeater, not the satellite.
Now for my scientific research on who listens to music the most, kids, mostly High School kids. I show the receiver to my youngest daughter Amanda, who thought it was "cool", she played with it for a while (in the driveway of course) and now wants one. However, she told me that there were only a few channels that were of interest to her. She was disappointed that there was no "Big Band" channel, and I forgot to mention there is no Polka channel for this Bohemian! She also told some of her friends at school about this technology and they all agreed, that this was a car thing and not something they would want to mess with at home because of the outdoor antenna, but mostly the cost of the radio and the monthly charge. That's a lot of money for a kid on an allowance. This quote most likely rules out getting one for her car too, "Why do this when we can get MP3's free off the Internet". Ah, I have heard this before, the MP3 craze! Have you seen the technology for this stuff? Hours and hours of music in something the size of the old walkman....that's another article.
The other think I have to question is the thing that is presently on a lot of minds and receives a lot of press and that is Homeland security and local threat warnings and the like. Will the satellite broadcaster have to participate in EAS at some point? If the goal of EAS is to warn the public of imminent danger and if a listener is listening to satellite radio, instead of their local broadcaster, will they end up in Kansas with Toto?
I am trying to look at this technology objectively, but the survival of XM is still questionable in my mind as when I saw the press release say that XM satellite radio raised $154.0 million by a public offering of 13,387,000 shares of its Class A Common Stock at $11.50 per share. As I mentioned in the article last month, I have to wonder about the amount of debt they must be in dabbling in this new technology. This money is expected to fund the company's operations into the latter half of the first quarter of 2003. I have also read that their subscriptions are beyond what they had expected last year, so guess that is a plus. I wonder how many will keep their subscription after the newness wears off. Like I said last month, time will tell if this enterprise will survive.
I hope this article somewhat clears the air regarding XM Satellite Radio. I think it is neat and offers a lot of variety, but I too will not use it as a household item, for I too think it is an automobile thing. I will play with it for the quarter and give it a fair chance. After that, I may have a used satellite radio for sale!
I think that the radio broadcaster has many challenges today to survive in the future because of these types of new emerging technologies that dilute the listening audience as well as take away dollars from the advertising pool. I think the smaller stations will however be less affected by this technology because of the community ties these stations typically have. We are going to have to think of different ways of doing radio that will attract and keep the terrestrial audience. We need to start thinking differently and not do things like we use to. It is becoming a consumer oriented, fast paced, instant entertainment, instant news hungry, push a button and gadgeted world and the terrestrial broadcaster who can figure out how to use this to their advantage will survive and profit.
FCC Postpones Auctions
By Tom Smith, SBE Chapter 24
The FCC Postponed Auction No.31, which consists of the frequencies of 747-762 MHz and 777-792 MHz in the upper 700 MHz band, which correspond to TV channels 60-62 and 65-67. The FCC plans to conduct the auction starting January 14, 2003. The FCC will still conduct Auction No. 44 for the lower 700 MHz band, which is TV channels 52-59 and covers 698-746 MHz, starting on June 19, 2002. Auction No. 31 was to start on June 19th also. Bills have been introduced in both the House and the Senate for indefinite delay of both auctions. There is fear that the auctions would bring in amounts less than Congress believes the spectrum is worth due to the uncertainty of when the DTV transition would be completed.
From FCC Press Releases (www.fcc.gov).
Amateur Radio News
By Tom Weeden, WJ9H
o The FCC has amended its rules to promote the introduction of new digital transmission technologies for high-speed wireless communications. The action came May 16 in a Second Report & Order in ET Docket 99-231, Amendment of Part 15 of the Commission's Rules Regarding Spread Spectrum Devices.
Specifically, the Commission has modified Part 15 of its rules to permit new digital transmission technologies to operate in the 902-928 MHz, 2400-2483.5 MHz and 5725-5850 MHz bands under the current rules for spread spectrum systems. All three segments incorporate amateur radio allocations, but the changes are not expected to affect amateur operations in those bands.
Part 15 rules now permit spread spectrum systems to operate on an unlicensed basis. FCC rules offer no protection to unlicensed Part 15 devices from amateur radio operations that might interfere, and Part 15 devices must not cause interference to licensed operations.
o A case of strange interference involving a power company and an AM broadcast station has been substantially resolved. In January, the FCC wrote Cincinnati AM radio station WLW and Cinergy Corp, the electric utility serving the region to help resolve the unusual and longstanding interference situation that was affecting local amateurs. Apparently spurious signals associated with WLW transmissions had been monitored over a wide area and frequency range and were severely affecting some amateur bands.
The investigation focused on utility towers carrying 345-kV lines in the vicinity of the WLW broadcast tower. Jay Adrick, K8CJY, a member of the amateur team involved in tracking down the problem, said that the primary problem seemed to stem from so-called static lines on the towers, which do not carry electrical power.
The static lines were not sufficiently RF-bonded to the tower structure but loosely fitted into a hanging bracket. "At 60 Hz, it's a reasonable ground. At RF, it's a non-linear junction," he said. The result was something that sounded a bit like a spark gap modulated by WLW's audio being re-radiated by the static wires acting as a huge antenna. Ohio ARRL Section Manager Joe Phillips, K8QOE, said the local amateurs brought the matter to the FCC's attention after working with WLW and Cinergy for almost two years to pin down the cause of the spurious signals.
(Excerpts from "The ARRL Letter" and the www.arrl.org web site)
Dish (Echostar) - Direct TV Merger
By Roy Trumbull
When mergers take place that require government approval, documents are posted that give a rare view into an otherwise private world. The FCC has a trove of such documents on its web site concerning the DBS merger.
Dish Network has 6 million subscribers and Direct TV has 10.3 million. According to the financial pages, the ripe fruit has already been shaken from the tree. Signing up new subscribers for the merged system will be costly.
The primary sixty one page document with all the signatures is a fine example of how lawyers can observe the formalities and still say nothing. There are many promises but they all lack specifics. The engineering exhibit is a bit more forthcoming.
The mega-headache is that the set top boxes for the two systems aren't compatible. Many of Echostar's birds have low power transponders. The high powered ones most used across the US are at 110 and 119 degrees WL. To get local programming from Dish Network requires an additional dish pointed at either 61.5 or 148 degrees WL. Fewer than 5% of their subscribers have installed a second receive dish.
Direct TV's customers are pointed at 101 degrees WL. A few have a dish that covers both 101 and 119 degrees WL. Even fewer customers are equipped to also receive 110 degrees WL. It appears that Direct TV has more useful transponders that are high power than does Echostar. The two systems have a programming overlap of 300 channels. Presumably those channels will be freed up for local into local or pay-per-view. It's not enough channels to accommodate all the potential local into local channels.
Both systems are launching spot beam birds that reuse the same frequencies in 5 to 7 ground footprints. That appears to be the preferred method for accomplishing local into local channels. I don't know what the energy budget is to maintain such precise coverage. National programming will utilize transponders at one orbital location while local and regional programming will come from another. Thus the dual antenna will be the norm for the future.
Based upon my contact with over 6000 viewers back when satellite waivers were required, I found that the average viewer just wanted to get network programming and had no loyalty or interest in local television. It remains to be seen how many DBS customers will install the second dish.
The present capacity for SDTV channels is 500 for Dish and 460 for Direct TV assuming a 10:1 compression ratio. Post merger it is projected that the local stations in at least one metro market in each state will be carried. Up to 12 channels total will be reserved for HDTV. Both Echostar and Direct TV have offered Internet access but so far less than 1% of their subscribers have opted to use it.
Left out of the news headlines is the fact that Direct TV / Hughes owns 81% of PanAmSat and it will be part of the surviving company.
Presently the only way a viewer in a defined metro market can watch network programming is through his local network affiliate. "Local into local" makes the affiliate available in some local markets via DBS.
A person outside a major market who represents that he can't receive the local affiliate can be granted a waiver to receive a "national" feed of the network. Such feeds come from one of the major cities. Most prized on the west coast are eastern time zone network feeds that push the schedule up by 3 hours.
Many small market affiliates aren't available via local into local and thus must either grant waiver requests or fight a losing battle against their viewers. I believe the rather dubious legal protection provided for the local affiliates under the Satellite Home Viewing Act (SHIVA) as being a pen stroke away from vanishing.
Under the post merger plan, the viewer's will require two dishes to get their networks (local affiliates) and national programming. Since viewers will rebel and write to their congressmen and DBS firms will most likely contribute to their reelection campaigns, I've already cut to the chase and written off local TV via DBS.
One of the major concerns for the future is what happens when the public becomes aware of HDTV? I recall the time at NAB when I was in the HD exhibit area for over an hour and then had to go back to the main hall to meet someone in the Sony booth. The SDTV on the monitors looked awful. Should the public develop a taste for HD, neither cable nor DBS has anywhere near the capacity to carry more that a few HD channels.
Cable pushes what they call digital cable. Digital cable is merely a way to compress from 8 to 12 SDTV signals into the space normally occupied by one uncompressed TV signal. If HD signals were in the 720P format, the most they could put in a one channel space would be two channels. For 1080i they can get only one channel of HD per channel.
As more bandwidth is required for HD, many of the marginal cable-only channels will disappear and there will be a major lobbying effort to permit cable systems to drop over-the-air channels that aren't significantly viewed.
Landmark Bill Could Provide Amateurs Relief From Restrictive Covenants
by Dane E. Ericksen N6AJY
A bill introduced in Congress May 14 could provide relief to amateurs prevented by private deed covenants, conditions, and restrictions-CC&Rs-from installing outdoor antennas. Rep Steve Israel (D-NY) has introduced the "Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Consistency Act." The measure is aimed at preventing private land-use rules from "unreasonably interfering with" the installation and use of "appropriate antenna structures" for amateurs. Rep Greg Walden, WB7OCE (R-OR)-the only Amateur Radio operator in Congress-and Rep Pete Sessions (R-TX) have signed on as original cosponsors.
The measure contains but one sentence: "For purposes of the Federal Communications Commission's regulation relating to station antenna structures in the Amateur Radio Service (47 CFR 97.15), any private land use rules applicable to such structures shall be treated as a state or local regulation and shall be subject to the same requirements and limitations as a state or local regulation." The bill, which does not yet have a number, is expected to be assigned to the Telecommunications and Internet Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
After the ARRL ran into a brick wall trying to convince the FCC to include CC&Rs under the limited federal preemption known as PRB-1, the League's Board of Directors agreed to pursue a congressional remedy. ARRL President Jim Haynie W5JBP and other League officials met with Israel, Walden, Sessions and others on Capitol Hill earlier this year to discuss the prospect of such a bill and how it should be worded. With the proposal now in the legislative hopper, Haynie says the "really hard work" is up to the amateur community, League members or not. "It becomes important for all of us to write your member of congress, call your member of congress, and voice your support," Haynie said. "This will have to be a grassroots effort, and we're going to pull out all the stops."
Israel, whose father, Howard, is K2JCC, said in a statement read into the Congressional Record that his bill seeks to ensure the continued viability of a volunteer public service resource. "My bill would provide Amateur Radio licensees with the ability to negotiate reasonable accommodation provisions with homeowners' associations," Israel said, "just as they do now with governmental land-use regulators, to ensure that our nation is not left with areas devoid of the public safety services amateurs can provide."
Visit the US House of Representatives "Write Your Representative Service" Web page http://www.house.gov/writerep/ for information on how to contact your representative. ARRL requests those contacting members of Congress to copy ARRL on their correspondence-via e-mail to email@example.com or via US Mail to CC&R Bill, ARRL, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111. Please include your name and address on all correspondence.
FCC Creates A Spectrum Policy Task Force
By Tom Smith
FCC Chairman Michael Powell has formed a Spectrum Policy Task Force and issued a public notice seeking comment from the public on spectrum policy. The task force consists of senior staff from FCC Bureaus and Offices and will be headed by Dr. Paul Kolodzy, Senior Spectrum Policy Adviser of the Office of Engineering and Technology. The Deputy Director of the Task Force is Lauren M. Van Wazer, Special Counsel to the Chief of the Office of Engineering and Technology. Dr. Michael Marcus, Associate Deputy of the Office of Engineering and Technology will serve as Senior Technical Advisor, and Maureen C. McLaughlin, Office of General Counsel will serve as Special Counsel to the Task Force. The task force will be guided by a steering committee composed of the Chiefs of the Bureaus and Offices of the FCC.
As part of the creation of this Task Force, the FCC has issued a notice which outlines the tentative work plan for creating the final report and seeks comment from the public. The timeline starts with the issuing of the Public Notice on June 6th. Comments are due on July 8th and reply comments are due on July 23rd. The Task Force will conduct a number of workshops between July and August of this year. The Report is due by October 2002.
Comments are sought from all interested parties including industry, government, consumers and academia. The FCC listed five different categories of questions to guide the discussion. Comments are not limited to these five categories and the FCC would like to hear other comments that relate to spectrum issues. The five categories that the FCC has suggested are: (1) Market-oriented Allocation and Assignment Policies; (2) Interference Protection; (3) Spectral Efficiency; (4) Public Safety Communications, and (5) International Issues. Each of the categories has questions on a number of approaches the FCC is interested in.
Under the Market-oriented Allocation and Assignment Policies, the FCC is asking for information on how to allocate spectrum on a more flexible basis so that it can be put to its best and highest value use. The first question asks what policy and rule changes are needed to convert from the present allocation system to a market-oriented system.
The second question consists of a number of parts and includes how much flexibility should users have with their licensed spectrum, and should licenses for particular sites (broadcasting, private land mobile) be converted to geographic areas like cellular or PCS licenses. The question asks how spectrum not currently licensed by geographic areas can be reassigned by auction or other means. Comment is sought on the efficiencies of each licensing model, certainty and size of transaction costs, and how interference rights should be handled. The third question asks if spectrum policy should be different for congested urban areas than for less congested rural areas.
Question four asks how market based spectrum allocation and assignment would affect public safety and service users.
Questions five and six ask about allocating more spectrum for unlicensed devices and changes in experimental, developmental, and demonstration licenses.
The category on Interference Protection is just what it says. The FCC asks what interference is acceptable and if there should be rules concerning receiver standards.
The category Spectral Efficiency asks how to require users to use the spectrum with the highest amount of use per allocation. Suggestions on usage, the use of fees for spectrum usage, and receiver standards are some of the questions asked in this category.
In the category of Public Safety Communications, the commission asked how dependable communications can be ensured for public safety and how much spectrum should be available for public safety. The Commission asks how spectrum could be shared among agencies to maximize usage.
The final category is International Issues. How should international spectrum agreements affect US policy and how can coordination with our neighbors, Canada and Mexico, be improved are the questions asked in this category.
The docket number is ET Docket No. 02-135 and the notice is on the FCC Home Page in the headlines. The notice looks like a press release and is seven pages long which is very short for this type of document. The FCC also has a Task Force website at www.fcc.gov/SPTE. The FCC has created a very important and large task to be completed in a very short time.
From FCC Press Releases (www.fcc.gov)
I have received several e-mails commenting on the "True testimonial" that I cited last month in this column. Some of you think you know whose it is-One thing is for sure... it's not mine! You should see the bite marks... and our dog died several years ago. However, I did get some interest built up as several of you requested the certification applications. I hope that you are considering signing up for the next testing cycle in the fall. What was that?
"Those that can do... & Those that can't...." or is it "Those that are certified can... & Those that aren't, can't, shouldn't & won't" Be a true believer-sign-up today.
To raise the professional status of broadcast engineers by providing standards of professional competence in the practice of broadcasting engineering. To recognize those individuals who, by fulfilling the requirements of knowledge, experience, responsibility and conduct, meet those standards of professional competence. To encourage broadcast engineers to continue their professional development.
Certificaton For 2002-2003
The SBE National Certification Committee has announced exam session dates for 2002-03. Check the list below for the exam period that is best for you. For more information about SBE Certification, contact Chapter Certification Chair Fred Baumgartner firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact Linda Godby, Certification Director at the SBE National Office at (317) 846-9000 or LGodby@sbe.org.
Nominations Sought For SBE Fellow Candidates
Nominations for SBE Fellow are now being accepted by the Fellowship Committee. To be elected a Fellow of the Society, a member must have rendered conspicuous service or be recognized as having made valuable contributions to the advancement of broadcast engineering or its allied professions. A nomination for Fellow must be in writing, include a biography of the candidate and be endorsed by five voting members in good standing. The Fellowship Committee makes recommendations to the Board of Directors, which votes on the nominees. Send your nominations to: Sandy Sandberg, CPBE, Chairman, SBE Fellowship Committee, 9807 Edgecove Drive, Dallas, TX, 75238 -1535. For more information, contact Sandy at email@example.com. Deadline for nominations is July 1.
This Month's Trivia
Thanks to Chapter 124, Portland
So, how 'bout a bit of trivia, as we approach the lazy summer months?
Where in the "U.S." can you find AM stations using 9 kHz spacing? Yes Martha, there ARE a handful of K's and W's that broadcast from frequencies such as 585, 612, and 648 kHz. At the risk of sounding like a Parade Magazine columnist - you'll find the answers below!
So, in answer to the trivia question about 9 kHz-spaced AM stations on U.S. soil: The stations are located on Guam and American Samoa, in the Western Pacific. Both K and W call signs are used.
SBE Resume Service Available On-Line
The SBE Resume Service has recently gone online! With increased visibility and ease of use, the Resume Service, in its new format, will be the perfect companion to JobsOnline for both SBE members searching for new positions and potential employers searching for the right candidates. SBE members will complete a questionnaire and send the national office copies of their resumes. To guard the confidentiality of our members, anonymous "resume profiles" will be constructed from the information provided in the member questionnaire. The resume profile will be comprised of the position a candidate is seeking, his or her experience in different broadcast areas and management; education credentials; desired market size; language skills and preferred location of employment. Each profile will be assigned an identification number that prospective employers will use to make requests, and members can use to monitor their posting. Individual profiles will be posted for six months, unless a member requests to either be removed or have his or her term extended. Employers interested in one or more candidate profiles can contact the national office, and for a small fee, receive copies of the resumes for the candidates they want.
Only SBE Members in good standing may submit resumes to the Resume Service. There is no charge to do so. A Member Questionnaire can be downloaded from the SBE website or requested from the national office. Any broadcast-related employer may request complete resumes from the Resume Service for a fee of $35, payable in advance, by company check or credit card. All Resume Service queries should be sent to the attention of Membership Services Director Angel D. Bates at firstname.lastname@example.org, (317) 846-9000, fax (317) 846-9120 or Society of Broadcast Engineers, 9247 North Meridian Street, Suite 305, Indianapolis, IN 46260.
Frequency Coordination & Other Stuff
by Everett E. Helm W7EEH CPBE
FCC EXPANDS ELIGIBILITY FOR CABLE TELEVISION RELAY SERVICE TO ALL MULTICHANNEL VIDEO PROGRAMMING DISTRIBUTORS
The FCC has adopted a Report and Order that expanded eligibility for licenses in the Cable Television Relay Service (CARS) to all Multichannel Video Programming Distributors. Now, Private Cable Operators (PCOs), Direct Broadcast Satellite Operators (DBS), Open Video Systems (OVS), and others who provide multiple channels of video programming can join Cable Television Systems and Wireless Cable Systems (MDS, MMDS) in using CARS microwave frequencies to support their video programming distribution.
This action will seek to enhance opportunities for additional competition to incumbent cable operators. It will increase the number of frequencies available to more MVPDs and treat all MVPDs equally for access to microwave frequencies. Thus, all MVPDs will have the opportunity to use CARS frequencies to support their delivery of video services in a balanced competitive environment. While the Commission reaffirmed that the predominant use of CARS should be video transmission, it also reserved the opportunity to examine in other proceedings the flexible use of the CARS bands and the expansion of eligibility for these frequencies. Franchised cable systems and other eligible services use the 12 GHz and 18 GHz CARS bands for microwave relays pursuant to Part 78 of the Commission's Rules. CARS is principally a video transmission service used for intermediate links in a distribution network. CARS stations relay signals for and supply program material to cable television systems and other eligible entities using point-to-point and point-to-multipoint transmissions. These relay stations enable cable systems and other CARS licensees to transmit television broadcast and low power television and related audio signals, AM and FM broadcast stations, and cablecasting from one point (e.g., on one side of a river or mountain) to another point (e.g., the other side of the river or mountain) or many points ("multipoint") via microwave.
MORE ON CARS BAND INTRUSION:
Paragraph 46 of the May 21, 2002, Report & Order to CS Docket 99-250 imposes a new frequency coordination requirement to coordinate according to Section 101.103(d) of the Private Operational Fixed Service (POFS) rules. What is unclear from the R&O is whether this new Part 101 style coordination requirement applies just to Part 78 CARS stations, or also to 13 GHz Part 74 TV BAS stations. The rulemaking opened up 13,200-13,250 MHz to CARS, but on a secondary basis to TV Pickups: from Paragraph 24 of the R&O: "...that is, CARS stations must accept interference from and not cause interference to existing and future BAS users." So how can a plethora of new CARS links to small apartment complexes possibly guarantee that they won't step on a TV Pickup operating in the previously reserved 13,200-13,250 portion of the 13 GHz TV BAS band? Paragraph 24 goes on to state "Secondary status notwithstanding, we do not anticipate that CARS users in the 12.20 to 13.25 GHz sub-band will experience loss of service due to preemption by a new primary user as there are solutions, both technical and non-technical, that will enable sharing of the frequencies. This action should afford adequate protection for BAS ENG while providing more efficient use of spectrum." Gee, I wish the Commission would have been more specific on what these "solutions" might be; perhaps "Monte Carlo" statistical modeling of where TV Pickup stations might operate in the future, like MM Docket 97-217 claims to do for two-way, cellularized, customer premises equipment (CPE) upstream transmitters in the 2,500-2,586 MHz "wireless cable" band? The imposition of Part 101 frequency coordination requirements first for 7 GHz TV BAS stations in the vicinity of MSS feeder downlinks sharing the 7 GHz TV BAS band (ET Docket 98-142) and now for 13 GHz CARS stations certainly seems to be telegraphing which way the Part 101 frequency coordination issue will go for the still pending ET Docket 01-75 rulemaking (Review & Updating of the Part 74 BAS Rules). Life continues to get more complicated for Part 74 TV BAS users.
Featuring News, Rumors and Views
One thing that you are constantly reminded of when writing a column like this is the length of time between when you write it and it finally gets in print. I am sitting here in what I call the 'ham shack' on May 5th... knowing that you will not be reading this until June. So how do you keep from feeling like a jerk by writing about things that sound like 'old stuff' in the mind of the reader? With that being said...
Right now the wind is blowing and the snow is falling in the mountains... there is fresh snow at Snoqualmie and THIS is the opening of boating season....What's with this? This past winter has been really rough at West Tiger, in fact: from the amount of damage done to the forest, ice shields etc., it's been the worst I've experienced since the winter of '87/'88 (back in the last century). The number of trees broken off about 20 feet up is testimony that it was rough (and noisy) up there! Meanwhile at Cougar, where the power normally goes off with regularity, it was pretty calm... go figure. Now its repair time. The mountain top site put some pretty heavy stresses on things. The Entercom tower on West Tiger, for example, was erected back in 1988. Recent testing has shown the galvanizing on the South side of the tower is as thick as on the North side. I recently took a coatings company engineer up there and he said that the tower looks like it's being sand blasted. Really what's going on is the thing is being winter blasted. Entercom will be investing considerably this year just to make sure the structure will last for more winters.
By the time you read this new EAS rules will have gone into effect... meaning that you now have up to 60 minutes to relay those RMTs and the modulation level you have been running for EAS tone is now legal (assuming it's over 50%). Upgrading your equipment will be pretty easy if you own a Sage or Burk, as they will be offering a software download... if you have TFT, it will cost about 100 Bucks for new firmware. I sincerely hope that you will all get this done ASAP. It won't be too long before one of the NEW event codes will be put to use around here. The CAE will be the code that's used to spread the word about abducted children via a program called AMBER that's spreading across the country. There will be more on that one to come.
EAS continues to be a big part of what I am involved with.... Also, by the time you read this I will have been to Kansas City to put on another one of my now famous EAS sessions (June 7th). In this case I am being invited by the KC Chapter of SBE. I have also accepted an invitation to attend the Boise SBE Chapter for a chat on EAS. The invitation comes from former area engineer Rick Kemp.
The FCC continues to do their part to raise the awareness of EAS by paying close attention to compliance issues. Frankly, I find it hard to believe that stations are still found to be in non-compliance. For example: A station in New Roads, LA. was fined $11,000 for not installing EAS equipment. They complained to the FCC that they could not afford to pay the fine. The Commish looked at their tax returns and agreed and reduced the fine to $2000. I could never understand the mentality of some station managers/owners when faced with the choice... chose to risk paying a fine than do what is right... even when doing it correctly could cost less! Guess I'm just not into gambling. Another hefty fine hit KACD in Thousand Oaks, CA. Some of this was for violations of antenna structure marking and lighting.
Here's one that needs-to-be-watched..... In a news release from May 7th... I quote, "Wireless Telecommunications Bureau seek comment on petition for declaratory ruling that amendments of Anne Arundel County, Md zoning ordinance are preempted as impermissible regulation of radio frequency interference reserved exclusively to the FCC". Broadcasters had better keep and eye on how this plays out. For a long time many of us have 'thought' that interference is exclusively an FCC domain, while many local governments have sought to 'get involved'.
Did you catch any of the 75th celebration activity on NBC? One item caught the ears of many that have been in this business for a while. The promo states something to the effect that NBC is celebrating 75 years of great TV. 75 Years, hmmm? Wonder just what kind of TV NBC was using back then? I have the feeling that those that wrote and delivered that item don't have a clue. It's interesting that when you talk to some younger folks they seem to have the idea that what they accept as normal has been here FOREVER. Some are stunned when you tell them that TV has not always been in color.
Are you ready for the Personal People Meter? Arbritron just finished a bunch of testing of these devices in Philly. If you have not been following this, it works roughly like this... Radio and TV stations in the market transmit codes embedded within their audio. The device, looking much like a pager is worn by the viewer/listener. At night they put the thing in a docking station that looks like a pager charger that, during the night, calls home to report what its wearer has been watching/listening to for the previous day. It just could be that Arbitron and Neilson will be deciding shortly whether or not the old radio diaries or specially wired TV sets will become a thing of the past. Certainly the TV "overnights" would become a thing of the past. Suddenly Car Radios and Internet use could become part of the mix. A very powerful tool in our industry may just be around the corner.
Talking about flying time... In June of 1983 we saw Docket 80-90 create a revolution in FM Radio. And if you are an old timer... it was June of 1948 that LP records were introduced (and the term Album was still used). Also in the same year those funny little records with the 'big hole'-the 45-was introduced and RCA was selling little plastic changers for them that would plug into the 'phono-input' of your radio using what became known as an RCA Plug.
In a surprise to me... the FCC recently adopted a NPRM re. Amateur Radio spectrum. First is an allocation: 135.7 to 137.8 kHz.... yes LOW frequencies. A new HF Band from 5250 to 5400 (between the existing 80 and 40 meter band) and elevation of 2400 to 2402 from secondary to PRIMARY status.
Saw an interesting item in an insert in the Sunday paper consisting of a camera/mic and transmitter and a receiver/monitor. The use shown was a mother in the kitchen watching over her child in a crib in the bedroom. Monochrome video, sound and wireless... and all for under 100 Bucks! Who would have thought we'd ever see that day. Might be some 'other' uses for this, besides watching your driveway or front door.
A company that has considerable presence in our area, Viacom, had some interesting stats in their annual report. In 2001 the firm that owns Channel 11 and five radio stations in Seattle saw their revenues increase 16% of $23.22 BILLION. The first ¼ of this year saw the giant post a net loss of $1.11 billion... Now that's some serious money. Viacom appears to be growing TV Duopolies and plans on having created their 8th this year with the addition of another TV station in L.A. This will make 35 stations. On the radio side, their Infinity division has 186 stations in 41 markets. Viacom, of course owns CBS, MTV, UPN and a host of other businesses.
Did you follow the flap over the Redmond cell tower disguised as a tree? Not sure how this ended up... but I do recall seeing some pretty creative efforts to hide these things around the country... in fact I did see an RF tree somewhere. Let's hope that these local governments don't start thinking 'broadcast' with these rules. Let's see... Queen Anne... 500 foot cedars, Capital... 500 foot Doug Firs... SURE! In Redmond the cell operators were fighting back and suing the city.
The mini-disc was the medium that was supposed to take the place of the casssssssete tape has pretty much failed to do so... with the exception of professional use, the MD is pretty well an unknown. Now a new format has made the scene. Toshiba and Samsung have joined a Boulder, Colorado company called Dataplay with a new disc based format. This time the media looks like a 1 inch diameter CD housed in a plastic cartridge. Already BMG, EMI and others have announced they will put their music on them. Anyone wanna make bets?
Sirius continues to ramp up their satellite radio system. According to an April 5th news release they are now operating in 18 states. They plan on being up nation-wide by July 1. It will be very interesting to see how they do against XM that obviously has quite a head start. As of April 1, XM said that they had over 75,000 subscribers. XM has a goal of 350,000 by the end of '02. With all the car makers making announcements that they will OFFER satellite radio systems, etc., etc., it appears that this medium has a lot going for it. The BIG question is what will happen when the novelty wears off. Will people still, a year later, want to pay for the service? Certainly there are many whose need is filled, those that drive across the country, etc., are discovering that only satellite radio can fill the bill. Will there be enough long-term business to justify TWO companies? That's the big question.
Meanwhile Ibiquity announced that they have raised $45 million with the recent addition of Susquehanna Radio. Fourteen of the largest US Broadcasters now own a portion of the effort. This Fall's NAB Radio and SBE show here in Seattle promise to be an IBOC event, especially with this market slated to be one of the first to offer IBOC. In the background let me just say that there are some interesting things going on.... stay tuned.
Have you marked your calendars yet for this Fall's NAB Radio show? The trip will be a short one as the show returns to the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle. Keynote speaker on Sept 13th will be Bill O'Reilly. Now if you are wondering why a Cable TV guy would be a speaker at a radio event... you might have missed the fact that this fellow has generated sky-high ratings on the Fox Cable channel and has recently started a RADIO program distributed by Westwood One that's being aired here in Seattle on KNWX.
Remember the May 1 DTV Deadline.... 300 TV stations have met the date and 800 have asked for an extension. Hmmm. SBE is involved in trying to help roll out DTV with a publication in the works that will answer many of the questions that consumers and retailers have about things like the 'black-magic' called ANTENNAS. Hollywood is not exactly helping matters. Just like with digital audio recording where the recording industry is fearful that consumers will be able to make copies that are just as good as the first generation... makers of programs have the same fear. Those who have been served well by our copyright laws are scrambling... and once again DTV is running into more bumps in the road. The future of DTV with its high resolution pictures appears to be in the hands of many with low resolution minds.
UWB. Some new alphabet soup to remember. This stands for Ultra Wide Band. The proponents of this transmission system are thinking about a wide range of applications. For more information check out FCC R&O #98-153. If you are thinking about printing out this for later digestion... better load the printer... it runs 118 pages!
The FCC has been busy in the Big Apple. They recently shut down a Pirate Radio station which was operating on 87.9 in Brooklyn. I recall that was a popular frequency in this area... I still check it once in a while to see if anyone else has decided that the first amendment was their ticket to the airwaves.
According to an AP story on April 21st, a new Japanese computer is now the fastest in the world. The NEC Earth Simulator is as large as four tennis courts and works at a speed of 35,600 gigaflops. In the event that you do not speak gigaflop... A gigaflop is equal to a billion floating-point operations per second. Last year an old IBM machine crawled along at 7,226 gigaflops.
For those waiting for summer, remember it starts shortly after the downpour on the 4th of July.
Take care and be good to each other... see ya next month between these yellow sheets.
Clay Freinwald, K7CR, CPBE
The End User
Everyone knows that if you want to be the first one on your block with any product that's just been introduced, you're going to pay a premium for that privilege. It's called being an "early adopter". The best thing about early adopters (for those of us without a Paul Allen-sized bankroll) is that their money pays the development costs, allowing us "later adopters" to buy into recent technologies for less. A good example of this is the gaming system price reductions announced last month. When these systems were first released, many lined up for hours just to get one (and some promptly sold them on eBay for twice what they paid for it). Now, the prices have been cut by one-third, and may go lower.
Another recent example is the plummeting pricing of 802.11b wireless networking hardware. I've wanted to add wireless capability to my home network for some time now, but at $200+ for an access point and $100+ for wireless network cards, it was out of my available budget. Now that the faster 802.11a wireless hardware is on the market, manufacturers are trying to clear out their older 802.11b hardware, and the prices have plummeted. I picked up a brand new SMC Barricade Wireless Access Point/DSL-Cable router for just $80- originally priced at $250 just a few months ago. 802.11b PC Cards and PCI adapters can be found for as little as $40. That's just a little higher than costs for traditional wired Ethernet hardware! And the freedom wireless networking provides is fantastic. So if you've thought about "going wireless", now is a good time to get great deals on the hardware. Use the tech message boards (Techbargains, Anandtech, etc.) to keep an eye out for the best deals.
While we're on the subject of wireless networking.... You may know that there are efforts by grass-roots organizations to set up no-charge neighborhood 802.11b wireless Internet access. In the Puget Sound, SeattleWireless.net is the home to regional wireless networks stretching from Everett to Portland, with the vast majority in the central Seattle area. All you need to access the Internet is to install an 802.11b network card in your computer, and be within range of one of the network's wireless access points. SeattleWireless is planning a Wireless Field Day for June, with a number of activities planned, including (according to their site), possibly creating a cross-Lake Washington wireless relay. Pretty cool stuff! If you're interested in learning more, check out http://www.seattlewireless.net.
AT&T Broadband cable Internet customers have received a couple of increases...one technical, the other monetary. Downloads are still capped at 1.5 Mb/sec, but the upload speed cap for most Puget Sound users have been "unofficially" doubled to 256 kb/sec. We say "unofficially" because it appears only northwest AT&T Broadband customers have received the speed increase. Maybe the Northwest is a testing ground for new AT&T Broadband features? I'm curious what's next.
The other increase: AT&T Broadband raised pricing for their residential Internet service...almost 20% more for users that own their cable modems. Rates are unchanged if you lease a modem and had more than one AT&T Broadband product. Interestingly, about a week after the new rates were announced, AT&T then decided to distribute discount coupons that effectively postpone that substantial increase until January 1, 2003. It's unclear what motivated AT&T to distribute the discounts...but customer feedback probably was a factor.
The Compaq-HP merger closed last month, and it didn't take long for "the new HP" to start axing product lines. Within a week of the merger closing, the Compaq printer line was discontinued. Many Compaq printers were OEM versions of Lexmark models, so it made sense to take the business away from a major competitor. It's my guess that not many will miss buying Compaq printers.
That's it for this month. Questions, suggestions or comments? Send 'em to email@example.com. Till next month...all the best!
The above comments and opinions are those of Rich Petschke.They are not the opinion of the Society of Broadcast Engineers, Inc., or Seattle Chapter 16, Inc.
A few Zen Thoughts For Those Who Take Life Too Seriously
Save the whales. Collect the whole set.
A day without sunshine is like, night.
I just got lost in thought. It was unfamiliar territory.
I feel like I'm diagonally parked in a parallel universe.
Honk if you love peace and quiet.
Remember, half the people you know are below average.
The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.
Monday is an awful way to spend 1/7 of your week.
A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
Change is inevitable, except from vending machines.
If you think nobody cares, try missing a couple of payments.
When everything is coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.
What happens if you get scared half to death twice?
Why do psychics have to ask you for your name?
Inside every older person is a younger person wondering what the heck happened.
From Clay Freinwald
And now it's time to move beyond broadcasting and into the realm of life lessons. The following could be thought of as a bunch of sage advice or perhaps bumper stickers on old vehicles driven by even older people....
Ambition is a poor excuse for not having enough sense to be lazy.
A diplomat is someone who can tell you to go to hell and make you feel happy to be on your way.
Diplomacy is the art of having someone do it your way.
Animal testing is a terrible idea; they get all nervous and give the wrong answers.
A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.
A conclusion is simply the best place to go when you get tired of thinking.
A closed mouth gathers no feet.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a cash advance.
A king's castle is his home.
A penny saved, in this day, is ridiculous.
Humour - Thanks to Houston SBE Chapter 105
The cruise ship magician has been doing his routines every night for two years now. The audiences appreciate him, and they change over often enough that he doesn't have to worry too much about new tricks. However, there is a parrot who sits in the back row and watches him night after night. Finally the parrot figures out how the tricks are done and starts giving it away for the audience. When the magician makes a bouquet of flowers disappear, the parrot squawks, "Behind his back! It's behind his back!" This infuriates the magician, but he can't just kill the parrot because it belongs to the captain.
One day, the ship springs a leak and sinks. The magician manages to swim to a plank of wood floating by and grabs on. Low and behold, the parrot is sitting on the other end. They just stare at each other as they drift and drift. They drift for three days and still don't speak. On the morning of the fourth day, the parrot looks over at the magician and says: "OK, I give up. Where did you hide the ship?"
Marveling at a certain employee's ability to sell toothbrushes, the head of the sales department decided to follow him around one day. He soon observed this particular salesman choose a busy street corner on which to set up an array of toothbrushes and a small bowl of brownish stuff surrounded by chips. The salesman would then select a likely customer and announce, "Good morning! We're introducing Nifty Chip Dip-would you like a free sample?"
Tasting the dip, the bystander would invariably spit it out in disgust and howl, "It tastes like mud!" "It is," the salesman would inform them calmly. "Care to buy a toothbrush?"
Did you hear about the new restaurant that just opened up on the moon? Good food, but no atmosphere.
The exercise during history class one day was for each of the students to list whom they considered to be the 11 greatest Americans. After half-an-hour, everyone had turned in their papers except Irwin, who was still scratching his head and thinking furiously. "What's up?" asked the teacher. "Can't you come up with 11 great Americans?" "I've got all but one," the student explained hastily. "It's the quarterback I can't decide on."
Top 10 - From Fred Baumgartner
It's been a long time since I've seen anything true on the internet...
The top ten signs that your co-worker is a computer hacker:
10. You ticked him off once and your next phone bill was $20,000.
9. He's won the Publisher's Clearing House sweepstakes three years running.
8. When asked for his phone number, he gives it in hex.
7. Seems strangely calm whenever the office LAN goes down.
6. Somehow he/she gets HBO on his PC at work.
5. Mumbled, "Oh, puh-leeez" 95 times during the movie "The Net"
4. Massive RRSP contribution made in half-cent increments.
3. Video dating profile lists "public-key encryption" among turn-ons
2. When his computer starts up, you hear, "Good Morning, Mr. President."
1. You hear him murmur, "Let's see you use that Visa card now, jerk."
Actual comments from US travel agents...
I had someone ask for an aisle seat so that her hair wouldn't get messed up by being near the window.
A client called in inquiring about a package to Hawaii. After I went over all the costs in detail with her, she asked, "Would it be cheaper to fly to California and then take the train to Hawaii?"
A man called, furious about a Florida package we did. I asked what was wrong with the vacation in Orlando. He said he was expecting an ocean-view room. I tried to explain that is not possible, since Orlando is in the middle of the state. He replied, "Don't lie to me. I looked on the map and Florida is a very thin state."
A woman called and asked: "Do airlines put your physical description on your bag so they know whose luggage belongs to whom?" I said, "No, why do you ask?" She replied, "Well, when I checked in with the airline, they put a tag on my luggage that said FAT, and I'm overweight. Is there any connection?" After putting her on hold for a minute, while I looked into it, I came back and explained that the city code for Fresno is FAT, and that the airline was just putting a destination tag on her luggage.
I just got off the phone with a man who asked, "How do I know which plane to get on?" I asked him what exactly he meant, to which he replied, "I was told my flight number is 823, but none of these darn planes have numbers on them."
A woman called and said, "I need to fly to Pepsi-Cola on one of those computer planes." I asked if she meant to fly to Pensacola on a commuter plane. She said, "Yeah, whatever."
Garneth M. Harris
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