News Blander… than Subway wholemeal rolls

Welcome to this debut edition of News Blander. Tonight’s bland topics include web browsers, blogging content management systems & false advertising.

Electronics manufacturer Kogan has imposed a tax on Internet Explorer 7 users who purchase through the company’s website. Why not go further and charge those who use Internet Explorer 8 as well? Just maybe after all these years, a monopolistic corporate giant like Microsoft is getting just desserts after infringing anti-competitive laws across the globe. Just for fun this entry was composed using Internet Explorer 8, and that mistake won’t happen again, rest assured!

Still on Information Technology, comprehensive research shows that WordPress is the clear platform of choice for the most popular blogs by a considerable margin. Analysis of the ranking reveals that 9 percent of hosted blogs (such as this one) use WordPress.

We shall close today’s News Blander with an astonishing discovery that Subway has been very bad, and the company’s chicken fillet submarine sandwich is indeed manufactured meat, rather than a fillet of chicken. When someone who has regularly frequented 24 hour Subways after nights on the amber avenue can realize this immediately upon consumption (this isn’t a reference to this writer, surely such boganesse depravity would never happen…) this is truly the shock of the decade, isn’t it?

Hungry Jack’s Tender Grill or the McDonald’s Seared Chicken burgers taste far better. So hungry right now…

Photograhy by Elisa Nobe.

You may enjoy this!

A 10 kilogram medicine ball was purchased a few weeks ago. It was purchased after watching this video which shows a Force USA Medicine Ball in use. The video is rather entertaining because of the destructive element. It’s a bit like watching The Block in reverse.

On a serious note, doing squats & lunges with these babies hurts like hell (indicating efficacy or perhaps simply poor fitness?) Either way it is exactly what Doctor D.Xing ordered. If you want to get fit, which happens to be what some friends are determined to do starting this week, please check out the inspirational Nerd Fitness blog on the right. Steve is an inspiration as his routines require no gym, no nothing.

Quick & dirty troposcatter TV reception: pt 2

Do it now. Please do not delay. On Tuesday, 5th June 2012 the analogue switch off along the country’s east coast continued. The recordings below captures all analogue channels during the transmission shut off. One enthusiast elaborates on the history:

Ten had been broadcasting in analog for 50 years in Canberra, both WIN and Prime7 had been in analog in the ACT for 23 years.

Fade to black: Illawarra, New South Wales

Fade to black: Canberra, Australian Capital Territory

The analogue switch off videos were originally posted on Mediaspy forum. Many thanks to these enthusiasts for sharing this footage.

Quick & dirty troposcatter TV reception: pt 1

Without spending a cent, one can receive fortuitous distant television broadcasts with existing equipment. Obviously more sophisticated equipment makes the task easier but that shouldn’t be a limiting factor.

This blogger has heard the excuse so many times, ‘I would love to put up a dedicated antenna but I cannot’. Get passionate and creative. Get inspired and achievements come easy. One enthusiast has even home brewed a highly effective antenna from disused antenna pieces.

WIN Sunshine Coast

ABC Sunshine Coast

Southern Cross 10 Sunshine Coast

SBS Sunshine Coast

BTQ7 Translator Sunshine Coast

Any old antenna. The one used to receive the above footage was for the wrong frequencies (i.e. a rooftop 15 element FM yagi). Being able to pointing it roughly towards the direction of the broadcast site is mandatory. Even better there might be a UHF antenna lying in the shed. Ask neighbours and relatives for assistance. If an existing or borrowed antenna is not an option, as a last resort, buy one delivered from $50.

Who needs a recorder? These videos were recorded on a Nokia E71 mobile phone.

Any non-muting television. A Sharp television manufactured in Malaysia in the 1990s was used above. These Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) sets will probably last forever! Being able to receive weak signals on a television without the TV tuner automatic muting (‘the blue screen’) is mandatory.

Bob Copeman of Melbourne, a long distance television enthusiast explains:

Always use televisions and radios with manual tuning, automatic search tuning usually misses the good signals… Never use equipment containing a mute. This will block most DX signals. Mutes are used on most expensive televisions, videos and hifi equipment, so the cheaper the better, unless one can obtain a good piece of equipment and have the mute switched off. A mute appears on television as a silent screen, either black or blue, when on a blank channel.

In theory, a high quality in-line signal preamplifier may offset or minimize the muting effect of a television receiver as the threshold level of a signal is lifted. Because a preamplifier might cost approximately $80 it may be simpler to spend that money on a secondhand television without muting.

This post has been divided into two entries to improve loading speed on slower connections, because embedded Flash video hogs resources like Clive & Gina do.

Digital newspaper vs the broadsheet

Author John Birmingham poses the question:

Can blogs replace some of the reportage and analysis done by the old metropolitan media? Of course they can. If you can choose which of the hundreds of millions of blogs currently available to follow.

Will the world stop turning, will the skies rain down fiery poison toads on us all if old-school newspapers just go away? No, probably not.

But something will be lost. After all, it wasn’t a blogger who broke the story of Craig Thomson and problems within the Health Services Union (although some bloggers are now pursuing it; I’d provide links except for the potential defamation costs at the other end of the click-through). It was a couple of Sydney Morning Herald journalists working the phones, wearing down shoe leather, chasing a story that powerful interests wanted to keep quiet.

The internet killed the newspaper. Fact. The only road ahead is for newspaper publishers (such as Fairfax and News Limited) to ask on-line readers to pay for high quality content. Up to a quarter of the journalists in a metropolitan newsroom will be sacked under the Fairfax newspapers restructure announced on Monday. Potentially 380 editorial jobs may disappear according to the ABC.

It is clear on-line readers can no longer expect high-quality content without incurring a cost. Major newspapers including The Australian and the Australian Financial Review have already turned to this model. Newspapers should not be scared of this model. John illustrates this best when he says:

…Media has always been hidden behind a paywall. Don’t think so? Try walking down to your nearest newsagent, picking up a paper or a magazine, and walking out without paying. See what happens.

Another random retro revolt… ARRR

This article originally appeared on the now-defunct dbrmuz blog.

Radio 1 has an excellent clip which examines the “humble cassette tape from it’s 60’s origins to the modern day cult revival”. One day the BBC’s (probably outsourced) IT or web design consultancy may get around to fixing it so it plays! And yes, I am using a proxy server to access it.

Be that as it may, Youtube comes to the rescue with some alternatives. These two videos examine the analogue compact cassette from 1963 onwards and the digital compact cassette from 1992 onwards.


Armchair propagation indication

Amateur radio operator Leigh Rainbird is using the marine ‘radar’ from ships as a propagation indicator. Leigh says that whilst the vessels’ transponder output is 12 watts, if high gain antennas and low loss coaxial feedline is used these signals get out extremely well.

In essence, the indicators provide real time indication of tropospheric ducting and high MUF sporadic E events.

This blogger has been using the indicators for approximately a week. The substantial variation in the 48 hour tracking distances on-line was positively correlated with tropo seen in the field. Above average conditions on the Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour & Byron Bay tracking stations were reported at the time of ducting between Taree and this receiving location.

The Hepburn forecasts are invaluable for forecasting tropo, but like any forecast the weather is certainly not guaranteed. Real time propagation indicators help to bridge the gap!

Sounds good? Leigh explains precisely how to do it on the forum of the VK Logger. Please read the instructions then have a play. Perhaps set up your very own AIS receiving station?

Favourite receiving stations


Port Macquarie

Byron Bay

Gold Coast

Further information


Zuckerberg as therapy

It’s an obvious question, surely many have pondered… Was the Mark Zuckerberg portrayed in the motion picture the Social Network suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder (Grandios Pathologic Narcissism) or Asperger’s Syndrome (Autism Spectrum)? The character was thieving & distinctly unlikeable which made for compelling viewing.

Clinical psychologist Joseph Burgo PhD has written on his blog:

From the opening scene with his girlfriend Erika, where he sneers at Boston University and condescendingly tells her he’ll give her the opportunity to mingle with people she wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to meet, to his disdain for the lawyers who question him, Zuckerberg behaves with consistent arrogance. He clearly feels himself to be above everyone in intelligence and entitled to treat other people in any way he sees fit. Contempt is the hallmark of his character.

Whilst the potential benefits of social networking are numerous, this blogger considers it is reasonable to surmise that Zuckerberg’s creation, Facebook might be used as a very fulfilling on-line vehicle for those with traits of narcissism.

Obviously the real-life Zuckerberg is not necessarily like the character portrayed in the movie. Yeah, right!

Columbia Pictures is owner of the copyright in the film the Social Network. Stills are solely provided for the purposes of research & education under the Fair Use provisions of the Copyright Act in this jurisdiction.

Log & love analogue before she blows

Because we are on borrowed time before the UHF switchoff, let’s enjoy some permanent analogue television broadcasting from Bald Knob at Maleny on the Sunshine Coast.

Signals were received at a distance of 62 kilometres from the broadcast site. Conditions were poor with wind gusts of 45 km/h and a minimum ambient temperature of 10 degrees inside the dwelling! Tropo TV comprehensively illustrates long distance tropospheric reception of the region. Clinton, please stop surfing (it’s winter) and come back into the hobby!

The antenna for the video reception below is cut for the wrong frequencies (i.e. a rooftop eight element FM yagi). Accordingly, DVB-T reception is not possible under normal circumstances.

Note the Sunshine Coast television broadcasts use directional antenna arrays facing the license area. There is a null towards the adjoining and overlapping capital city license area.

RTQ49 WIN Television

On 674.224 MHz, this analogue broadcast is pumping 60 kW towards the opposite direction! WIN Television Sunshine Coast has always been the 120 pound weakling of ”her co-sited peers’ due to co-channel interference, say local hard core enthusiasts.



Please view both the video and the snapshots as the content differs. Thanks!

TNQ46 Southern Cross Ten

On 653.224 MHz, Southern Cross is hammering 60 kW into the opposite direction!



As the name suggests, Southern Cross Austereo operates the station which enables cross promotion between the television station and the commercial radio operations.



The signal quality of this troposcatter is impressive. Sure, perhaps undesirable for watching football or other action sports. But one surmises (as a mere radio enthusiast) that the thrill is in the hunt of weak television signals, rather than consumption of the programming or entertainment.

ABQ2 Mt Coot-tha ABC1 Television

Now partake in a crystal clear local 200 kW signal on 64.25 MHz. Such wondrous beauty is provided merely for reference & benchmarking purposes!

BTQ52 Retransmission of Mt Coot-tha BTQ7

On 695.224 MHz, BTQ52 is actually simmering 30 kW of raw St Anger towards this direction. Notice the difference?

This is another fringe signal for reference & benchmarking purposes. Channel Seven has always been the strongest of the Sunshine Coast translators. The Bald Knob translators relay the Brisbane stations for Sunshine Coast viewers.

Effectively, viewers in this region get more programming choice than the city folk due to an extra three commercial channels. This is because of the aforementioned peculiarities in the license areas assigned by the regulator. Or it could be because of the notoriously stagnant nightlife in this region. More channels are required to provide a facade of an adequate quality of life to residents. But the unforgettable house parties make up for this!

Useless information

This section is for those who are obsessed with minutiae, which frankly is a spectacularly fun word that should be used more often.  No?

Footage recorded during:
The Voice, CSI: New York, Breakfast (featuring Weather Report) & Late News.

Tuner & recorder: LG 386D (Davros reviews this below)
Computer software: WinFF version 1.4.2 & Virtual Dub Mod version



Recorded in MPEG2 format
Video size 720 x 576
Average bitrate 7,750 Kbps (XP mode)

Transcoded to MPEG4 format
Video size 320 x 240
Average bitrate 1,800 Kbps (Default mode)

Radio Maroon: guaranteed biased rugby league coverage

Frequencies for tuning in on Wednesday night, June 13, 2012:


3KND 1503 kHz in Melbourne

Western Australia

Noongar Radio 100.9 MHz in Perth


4US 100.7 MHz in Rockhampton

4AAA Murri Country 98.9 MHz in Brisbane

4K1G 107.1 MHz in Townsville

MY105 105.9 MHz in Mackay

4UM 94.1 MHz Cherbourg

MOB FM 100.9 MHz in Mount Isa

BBM 98.7 MHz in Cairns

Northern Territory

Radio Larakia 94.5 MHz in Darwin

TEABBA FM Network (Top End Bush Broadcasting)
20 watts per site utilizing multiple frequencies

Information courtesy of News Limited, Radio Maroon’s official sponsor