Eventually, the internet WILL be censored

Congress, is yet again contemplating a cyber security bill, this time called CISPA.  This one has some worrisome privacy implications for the general internet user.  I recall, not too long ago, another such measure called SOPA/PIPA which created a huge uproar and was voted down.  For Congress and its corporate sponsors, this development was just a slight inconvenience when applying the “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,” legislative method.

Not mentioned in this particular bill is the internet kill switch, which exists now in one form or another, and the unofficial back doors into operating systems and routers.  Those things are in place but their use is not codified.  The internet can be monitored, user data can be stored indefinitely and it can be restricted or switched off at a moments notice.  That is the reality of the world we live in.

This is why a vibrant, independent radio broadcasting medium is important.  After doing some numbers crunching over the weekend, I came upon some pretty interesting data points:

  • Large and medium large (over 30 stations) group owners account for approximately 2,300 AM and FM stations
  • NPR affiliated stations number about 900
  • There are 4,736 AM, 6,603 commercial FM, 3,917 educational FM and 802 low power FM stations licensed as of March 31, 2013.
  • There are 77 AM and 178 FM (not counting translators) stations known to be silent

Therefore, approximately 3,200 of the 15,803 stations on the air are controlled by major corporate interests or media conglomerates, the remaining stations are owned by medium small groups (less than 30 stations) or individuals.  Those figures create an interesting situation when discussing the future of radio.  What does the majority of owners and listeners want?  Ask the market.

Time

The fourth dimension, at least in theory.  We keep track of time in a linear way, each second marking a particular point that will happen only once and never be revisited.  There will never be another 10:42:30.1 on April 17, 2013, for example.

Point in space and time
Point in space and time

Of course there are several ways to record the same time:

  • Coordinated Universal Time (UTC): Which is the time at the prime meridian, 0° Longitude.  From there, time zones span out to +12 or -12 UTC, meeting again at the International Date line.  In military parlance, UTC is known as Zulu because it is in timezone Z.
  • Local Time: In any given location, is determined when the sun is directly overhead (± sidereal correction) at noon.
  • Local Timezone:  One of twenty four arbitrary divisions where the sun may be directly overheard (± sidereal correction) somewhere within the division at noon.
  • Unix Timestamp:  The number of seconds that has transpired since 0000, January 1, 1970.  Unix time stamp 1366209730 equals 10:42:30, April 17, 2013.  In hex looks like 516F0260.  Used by all Unix/Linux variants.
  • GPS Time: UTC – LS (Leap Second) + 19 s.
  • ISO 8601 date/time: 2013-02-17T10:42Z
  • Julian Date: A continuous count of days and fractions of such since noon Universal Time on January 1, 4713 BCE.  April 17, 2013 10:42:30.1 equals 2456399.946193

One thing to note and mark your calendars: Unix (and variants) may have a problem on January 19, 2038 because of a 32 bit integer issue.  This is known as Y2038, and a smart man would start planning now.

Category 7 Cable

As data transfer technology progresses, so do cable types.  Category 6 UTP copper cable is commonly used today in ethernet installations where 1000BaseT (or gigabit ethernet) systems are required. Cat 6 cable has a certified bandwidth of 250 MHz (500 MHz for Cat6a). Category 6 cable is a newer version of Category 5 and 5e cable wherein the wire pairs are bonded together and there is a separator to keep each pair of wires the same distance apart and in the same relationship to each other.  The four twisted pairs in Cat 6 cable are also twisted within the overall cable jacket.

Category 7 cable is much different from its predecessors.  It has an overall shield and individual pairs are shielded:

Category 7, STP ethernet cable
Category 7, STP ethernet cable

Shields on individual pairs are required to reduce cross talk (FEXT, NEXT). It also requires special shielded connectors called GG45 plugs and jacks.  Pinouts and color codes are the same as gigabit ethernet (Category 5e and 6) however, Category 7 (ISO 11801 Class F) jacks and plugs also have to contacts on the corners of the connector or jack.  This allows better shielding.  A small switch in the jack senses when a category 7 type connector is inserted and switches to the corner contacts, thus keeping jacks and patch panels backwards compatible with Category 5/6 cables.

Category 7 GG45 connectors, jack and plug
Category 7 GG45 connectors, jack and plug

Category 7 cable is rated for 600 MHz bandwidth (1000 MHz for 7a) which translates to 10 GB ethernet.  This was previously the domain of fiber cable.  Copper cable has some advantages over fiber; lower propagation delays, requires less complicated equipment, copper is less expensive than fiber and more durable.  It is nice to have the flexibility to use copper cable on 10 GB ethernet for runs of 100 meters or less.  Longer runs still require fiber.

Category 7 and 7a cable looks remarkably similar to the older Belden multipair “computer cable” pressed into service as audio trunk cable seen so often in older studio installations.

Blown up surge suppressor module

This is a picture of a surge module taken from an LEA series type surge suppressor:

LEA MOV module destruction
LEA 600 volt MOV module

Looks like it took a pretty significant power hit, enough to explode several MOV’s.  This site is at the end of a long transmission line that stretches across an entire county.  Over the years, the station has made many complaints to the utility company about the quality of their power and the frequency of interruptions encountered at this transmitter site.  Occasionally, something will happen.  Often times it is the figurative shoulder shrug.

That is why we installed the surge suppressor.