Norway will say goodbye to FM radio in 2017

Looks like Norway will become the first country in the world to completely phase out FM radio over the next two years, in favor of digital audio broadcasting. The cost savings is pretty significant, according to a press release issued: “The cost of transmitting national radio channels through the FM- network is eight times higher than with the DAB-network”.

The DAB model is really interesting, surprisingly (to me) as of this writing, 43 countries use this as a communications medium.

Digital audio isn’t a new technology, I’m pretty familiar with its use in two way communications, specifically trunked radio systems going digital for encryption purposes. This usually results in many more transmission sites, poor/choppy audio and a myriad of complaints from those using the system if it isn’t done right. But that’s here in the states where there’s a limited number of frequency ranges available for use, with the higher frequencies unable to reach long distances without repeaters all over the place.

I’m really interested in how the spectrum is going to be handled in Norway, if they’ll be using low frequency terrestrial transmitters, or multiple higher frequency sites. I’m sure some of the information is out there…my inner-geek has been awoken, need to learn more about this.

Under the sea (submarine cables)

Screen Shot 2015-04-17 at 11.55.36 PMIf you’ve ever wondered how data gets from one continent to another on a terrestrial level, the Submarine Cable Maps site is a pretty good roadmap. They gather data from TeleGeography and compile it into a very useful format, using Google Maps to display loads of information about the line, who owns it, the bandwidth, etc.

Wondering how those communication lines are dropped down to the bottom of ocean? The Discovery Channel did a pretty decent documentary on it here:

TE SubCom also has a pretty interesting video on how they tackle undersea lines (a bit of PR in this video, but the explanation of the methodology makes up for it).

So the next time you visit a site hosted in another country, think of the folks that helped to make that happen, and the amount of work it took.

National Park Week

National-Park-Service-logoLooking for something to do this weekend? Tomorrow marks the opening weekend of National Park Week and to celebrate, the Park Service is offering free admission April 18th and 19th to 128 Parks that usually require an admission fee or annual pass. There should be something in your area, so be sure to take advantage of it!

The Mediterranean Fenceline

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On a rocky beach in North Africa, a chain-link fence juts out into the Mediterranean Sea.

This is one of Africa’s two land borders with Europe, at two Spanish cities on the African continent. Ceuta and Melilla are Spanish soil — and thus part of the European Union — separated from the rest of Europe by the Mediterranean, and separated from the rest of Africa by huge fences.

A look into the lives of the tens of thousands that try to flee to Europe through Africa each year. In the US, when someone says Immigration, we automatically think of our neighbors to the south. But the picture is much larger, and not without good reason. Take a moment out of your day, kick up your feet and have a quick read (or listen).

Also, if you’d like to explore Melilla (the focal point of this article), check out the city along with its massive fenceline here in Google Maps.

Facebook the bike courier

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In a strange turn of events, a Brooklyn Judge is allowing a woman who’s having trouble locating her husband, to serve him with divorce papers via Facebook. Sending legal documents electronically isn’t really a new concept, but through social media? And especially Facebook?

Personally, I think we give Facebook too much personal information about ourselves. And they use it in a lot of weird ways. They’ll probably end up rolling this out as a new relationship status: “In litigation“, or a paid service similar to their dollar messaging service.

So be careful checking those Facebook messages, who knows what could be coming next. Might be an eviction notice, or Jury Duty. ;)