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You have the right to be wrong: Digital Voices 08/09/2012

Maybe I’ve been writing about TV technology for too long, but two things bug me: dish snobbery and people who don’t want to pay the TV Licence fee.

Sky-style dishes are compact and discrete, while Digital Switchover has seen a proliferation of large, ugly high-gain antennas that aren’t even required in many cases, post-switchover. Given the choice, a compact dish wins every time.

As for Licence Fee haters, I find it hard to believe there’s nothing for them on seven TV channels and dozens of radio stations, that isn’t worth £2.80 a week. Not to mention maintaining a collegiate alternative to commercial broadcasting organisations, an incredibly innovative R&D department, training aspiring engineers and producers, supporting new on-screen and writing talent, and ensuring there are free TV options in a digital age, which has forced commercial TV platforms to innovate and invest. I think it’s a bargain.

They’re right up there with people who proudly declare “I don’t watch TV”, as though disconnecting yourself from the most important communications medium since the printing press gives you the right to comment on anything that’s happened since 1945.

Still, they’re both hot-button issues for commenters on both sides of the arguments, even those who can now be confident that they are wrong. Welcome to Digital Voices for the week ending September 8, 2012.

Fugly TV aerial not liked

Don’t be a dish snob of the week: 4G will wipe out Freeview in 1.9 million homes, confirms Ed Vaizey

The fear of being forced onto Freesat by interference from 4G mobile phone signals has brought out a surprising number of latent ‘dish snobs’ who can’t bear the thought of a small, black dish on their home.

Like us, Grimbart is confused by this, when many homes are adorned by ugly high gain Freeview antennas:

“I live in John Mann’s constituency, and in large parts of it Freeview is a very poor signal, demanding large antennas and signal amplifiers (which are very prone to extraneous signal pickup).

“I changed over to Freesat a while ago and have never regretted it. My dish is only about 10ft off the ground on the back wall of my house, and services two HD televisions.

“For the life of me I cannot understand why chimneys sprout multi element antennas, RF amplifiers and very low loss coaxial feed cable (all costly gear), when a small dish will more than suffice not far from the ground.

“Of course a Freesat tuner has to be inside the TV set, most top quality HD TVs have this integral anyway. A dish does not have to be in view in most cases, and do you not consider a spidery Yagi antenna (for that is what a TV antenna is) ugly?” 

Good answer of the week: BT calls in the marines to fix undersea fibre link hit by cable thieves

There are two great things about this comment: it demonstrates how much knowledge is out there, in the aether, if you just wait; and we fervently hope that there really is someone called Terry Towelling. But who knows, maybe he just owns a towelling business.

Terry responded to Andrian Mctiernan’s suggestion that satellite connections would remove any risk of ne’er-do-wells trying to steal copper communications cables (or in this case, fibre cables they mistook for copper).

The flaw in Adrian’s thinking, as Terry points out: “There is a latency inherent with satellite communications (up/down), which would make the solution unpalatable for a good deal of people.”

Pointless high speed connection of the week: Jersey superfast fibre broadband rollout: 1Gbps for all by 2016

Gigabit internet connections are the new black in broadband delivery, and Jersey Telecom is aiming to wire up the Channel Islands with 1Gbps fibre broadband by 2016 (except for Sark, which is connected via a series of pneumatic tubes).

But as Stephen points out, a high speed connection isn’t much use with a standard usage limit of just 50GB per month:

“Either those connections are going to be vastly under-used, or they will hit the usage caps very quickly. At 1Gbps, you could reach 50GB in 7 minutes. Or to put it another way, you can use your line at full speed for 13 seconds a day.

“Of course neither scenario is realistic but they illustrate a growing chasm between speed available and ability to use that speed. Why aren’t usage caps rising in line with line speeds?”

Off-message BBC hate of the week: Virgin Media pulls David Tennant Doctor Who ads

The TV Licence: it costs 40p per day, but that doesn’t stop it being the number one tax hate for die-hard anti-state libertarians.

And so, commenting on a story about the BBC asking Virgin Media not to use one of their brands to advertise its services, without asking permission in advance, Anthony Hayden felt compelled to say:

“BBC Just want’s your money or anyone’s. They don’t really care about advertising. why advertise when you can make EVERY ONE pay for BBC even if you don’t want it or need it. Hell they even think they own your Mobile phone just because you can get BBC on it. and again wether or not you want it.”

Nothing to fear but fear itself: UK Government web snooping laws ‘China and Iran’-like

What is terror? Fear of being killed while you go about your daily life, or fear that your government is more interested in knowing everything about your daily life than stopping terrorists?

It’s a trick question. They’re both correct answers, but today many people feel that the latter is a more clear and present danger than the former. Commenters like miksa668 and arthur didsbury, who feel that terrorism has just become a wedge to drive through greater daily surveillance.

miksa668 wrote: “Looks like the terrorists have won. They wanted to create enough fear to destroy our civil liberties, and that’s exactly what has happened. This is a dark day for Britain. The government should fear the people, not the other way around. People who exchange freedom for security, deserve neither.”

OK, he didn’t write the last bit. We’re pretty sure that was Benjamin Franklin.

Commenter arthur disbury put it more succinctly: “The terrorists won after 9/11 and 7/7. Their friends are in charge of Westminster and doing well, thank you very much!!!”