My friend Adam over at Arthur’s Seat has announced the first annual Clerihew competition. Please click through for full details, but the bottom line is a 4-line poem with two rhyming couplets. Entries to be accepted through 20 December.
This will be fun! Diane, you know what you need to do …
Tim Worstall has a very entertaining post on a UK patent application. For those of you who, like me, thrive on dry British wit, do make sure to click through to the .pdf of the deputy patent examiner’s response to this particular application, which appears to be a wooly attempt to claim prior art for the use of 0s and 1s in binary computing language.
Last week Mike wrote this depressing post about the potentially pathetic fate of BPL at the hands of the regulatory focus on cost recovery. In the comments to the post the topic of interference came up; in particular, shortwave radio operators have expressed concern that the data transmissions over power lines will interfere with shortwave radio frequencies in the vicinity. This PC World article from January 2004 summarizes the postions in question. This Wired article from February 2003 introduces the technology. This May 2004 Digital Journal article suggests that even when such interference can occur, it is avoidable:
Progress Energy, working with a consultant company, has been able to identify such problems and solve them by notching, that is modifying the frequencies so as not to create interference.
“Given a situation where interference does occur to somebody who has a legitimate claim and has a legitimate interference concern and has experienced, quote-unquote, harmful interference, can this be mitigated around that particular frequency? That is what the company we have been working with here has been able to do, that is, notch out and get away from those bands when, indeed, that situation does occur,” said Matt Oja.
But the question of radio frequency interference is so pressing that the FCC spent much of the past year investigating the claims of interference and the existence of technologies that can minimize or eliminate such interference. The consequence of this examination was a set of rules for adopting BPL in mid-October 2004. The press release addresses the issue of interference:
[T]he Commission recognized the significant concerns of some licensed radio service users regarding the potential of Access BPL systems to cause interference to their operations. The Commission stated that its intention in adopting the Part 15 rule changes was to ensure that Access BPL operations do not become a source of harmful interference to licensed radio services. Based on extensive research and analyses, as well as experience, it concluded that the interference concerns of licensed radio users can be adequately addressed and that Access BPL systems will be able to operate successfully on an unlicensed, non-interference basis under the Part 15 model. The rule changes in the Order establish specific technical and administrative requirements for Access BPL equipment and operators to ensure that interference does not occur and, should it occur, to provide for a timely resolution of that harmful interference without disruption of service to Access BPL subscribers. The Order also sets forth procedures to measure the radio frequency (RF) energy emitted by Access BPL equipment.
The rule refers to Access BPL technology, which according to this primer is
a new technology to carry broadband Internet traffic over medium voltage power lines. BPL modems that electric utilities and their service partners can install on the electric distribution network also are available now. Medium voltage power lines are the electric lines that you see at the top of electric utility poles beside the roadways in areas that do not have underground electric service. Typically there are three electric lines (called phases A, B and C), each carrying several thousand volts. One phase is usually enough to power the houses on a residential street, two or even three phases can be joined together to power the big electric motors in an industrial or commercial area. (You also may see a fourth wire that is the ground wire.)
Note also that BPL provides a powerful technology for achieving a couple of objectives near and dear to the hearts of the folks here at KP. As articulated in a joint statement from Chairman Mike Powell of the FCC and Chairman Pat Wood III of the FERC,
Access BPL may help provide additional power supply system communications and control capabilities to improve reliability and efficiency. Such capabilities include “self-healing” network capabilities; improved security from physical and cyber threats; facilitating use of distributed generation; customer and utility control of appliances and equipment energy use; improved load management and electric grid utilization; and such applications as automated meter reading, extension of supervisory control and data acquisition functions to the end user level, outage detection, and equipment performance monitoring … [T]hese services should be allowed to develop according to market demands with minimal regulation.
Hear hear. I will explore these last issues in a subsequent post, after my grading is done.
Yesterday the KP Spouse and I got the tree (a 6′ blue spruce, yum!), decorated it, baked and cooked, and went for a lovely long walk. The first part of our walk took us down Clark Street, past Wrigley Field. Here it was, December 5, temperature in the 40s, and what do we see on the northeast corner of Clark and Waveland?
The large stand of the vendor who usually occupies that corner during the season, selling Cubs sportswear and other paraphenalia. Sosa t-shirts, t-shirts saying “we’ve got Wood”, cute little women’s t-shirts with the little cub and the C, and so on. In December.
Why? Because it’s three weeks before Christmas! More specifically, do you think that most Cubs fans are thinking in September, “gee, I have to remember to get that t-shirt for my dad for Christmas”? Probably not.
What’s in this business model for the vendor? During the season they obviously make the lion’s share of their profits, but during the month before Christmas they can add to their profits (and reduce their inventory carrying costs) by throwing their tables out there and grabbing some business from the Christmas present crowd.
Part of what makes this holiday sales strategy profitable is the presence of many (and I mean many) sports bars on Clark Street. Sundays are big football game days for these bars, so not surprisingly when we walked by at 2:30 many of the bars were crowded. I would not be surprised if they were also almost as crowded on Saturday for college ball. We saw two people walk by who had purchased items from the vendor, and a couple of people lurking and browsing when we went by.
Then by 4:15 when we came back, they were gone. Until next weekend … I should have checked to see if they price the same as during the season. Maybe I’ll go do some research next weekend!
Thanks to all of you delightful and wonderful readers who have submitted comments in the past few days. My apologies for being slow in approving them. I was out giving a talk at West Virginia University on Friday, and spent the weekend doing holiday house prep, tree, etc.
Of course, if you want your comments to post immediately, you can get a TypeKey account through Movable Type.
More later, have some work to get done this morning …