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