30 Years of the Digest ... founded August 21, 1981
The Telecom Digest for November 3, 2011
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Date: Wed, 2 Nov 2011 13:08:19 -0400 (EDT) From: Randall Webmail <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com. Subject: Re: Air Raid sirens Message-ID: <1165817817.543388.1320253699636.JavaMail.firstname.lastname@example.org> > Every Wednesday at noon for decades the city would sound the sirens > briefly as a test. In Louisville and near Owensboro, Kentucky, the sirens are tested on Tuesdays at noon; seems like once a month, though perhaps it's weekly and I just don't notice it often. (The sirens are sounded to warn of imminent tornadoes, which happen here sometimes).
Date: Wed, 02 Nov 2011 16:55:47 -0500 From: Frank Stearns <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org. Subject: Re: Air Raid sirens Message-ID: <ZradnRGDD7X-ISzTnZ2dnUVZ_uOdnZ2d@posted.palinacquisition> Randall Webmail <email@example.com> writes: >> Every Wednesday at noon for decades the city would sound the sirens >> briefly as a test. >In Louisville and near Owensboro, Kentucky, the sirens are tested on >Tuesdays at noon; seems like once a month, though perhaps it's weekly >and I just don't notice it often. (The sirens are sounded to warn of >imminent tornadoes, which happen here sometimes). In the early 1960s in my old home town of Spokane, the sirens went off one afternoon well away from the assigned test day and time (Wednesdays at noon). Scared the beejezus out of 150,000 people, as there was a large contingient of nuclear-armed B-52s at Fairchild AFB 15 miles away. Everyone assumed this was a prime target. (Decades later it was revealed that the Soviets had assigned many megatons to Fairchild in multiple strikes.) To activate the siren system, the operator at city hall had to simultaneously press and hold two buttons with two hands. Turns out that one of the buttons had an unrecognized fault such it was already in the "on" position. All it took was a press of the other button to start the system. And that's what the cleaning crew did as they dusted and moved things around, setting either a coffee cup or binder on the second button. That was rather feeble systems engineering from several points of view; I don't remember what was done next. But it was quite the story for several weeks. -- .
Date: Wed, 2 Nov 2011 18:41:24 -0700 (PDT) From: HAncock4 <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com. Subject: Re: Air Raid sirens Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org> On Nov 2, 1:08 pm, Randall Webmail <rvh40.remove-t...@and-this- too.insightbb.com> wrote: > (The sirens are sounded to warn of > imminent tornadoes, which happen here sometimes). I forgot that torando warnings still use sirens to alert people. Another application is near nuclear power plants to warn of plant trouble. When a new power plant was built in my region there were arguments over the sirens. One contingent was nervous about a plant accident and wanted the loudest sirens possible. The other contingent didn't appreciate the very loud sirens being tested regularly. I don't know how it was resolved, but in the area near the plant one can see the big sirens mounted on poles. As an aside, Bell Labs did a lot of research in sirens during WW II for air raid defense purposes. They wanted to develop warnings loud enough to be heard within buildings of the city. Apparently they were successful. I've heard (unconfirmed) some sirens were so powerful that hearing damage resulted. I've learned that my community uses telephone alerts to warn of impending disasters, like floods or bad drinking water. Bell Labs researched this back in the 1960s but found that the technology wasn't yet practical--they envisioned ringing everyone's phone at the same time which would require a lot of ringing power. Because our phone exchanges do not follow municipal boundaries, I get alerts for nearby towns that don't apply to me and vice versa. (I've mentioned before my own complex uses telephone alerts for all sorts of things--some legitimate emergencies, but other trivial things like announcing a pool picnic. They've since cut back on the trivial stuff since they learned the charge for such announcements isn't trivial and sending out a paper leaflet is 1/10 the cost.)
Date: Wed, 2 Nov 2011 14:46:11 -0400 From: "Geoffrey Welsh" <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org. Subject: Re: 60 hz as a time standard Message-ID: <d3bb5$4eb18f26$adcea0d7$2422@PRIMUS.CA> Garrett Wollman wrote: > You probably saw an episode of the PBS series "History Detectives". > The plan was not to alter the power line frequency, but to superimpose > an RF signal on the line that would activate an alarm that was plugged > into a household outlet. The device worked, but the plan did not, [...] It worked? Surely an RF signal would not pass a transformer designed to work optimally around 60 Hz? Or should "RF" be interpreted liberally here?
Date: Wed, 2 Nov 2011 08:08:33 -0700 (PDT) From: "email@example.com" <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com. Subject: Re: 60 hz as a time standard Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org> On Nov 1, 9:29 pm, HAncock4 <withh...@invalid.telecom-digest.org> wrote: > > I have no idea if the sirens still exist or are tested, or when they > were discontinued. I suspect that the demise of the Soviet Union and > the end of the cold-war inspired the demise of the old civil defense > program, as well as an aging system. > > ob telephone: Small town telephone directories would list the > firechief's home number as the number to call in case of fire. This brings back several memories. Our small town had a light bulb hung across the main street that served as the "cop light." The bulb was connected to a switch inside the 2nd-floor manual central office. When a call came in to the operator for the police, if they were unable to find the cop, they'd turn on the light, and the cop would call in for the message. After the CO was automated, the light was triggered by a call to an answering machine. The volunteer fire department was called by a siren on a pole (it doubled as the air raid siren, with a different warble). When a person called the fire department number, the siren would sound until the call was answered on one of several "fire phones" located in the homes of several fire department members (and in the fire house). They would take the call, go to the fire house, and write the call location on a blackboard before taking out one of the fire trucks with the people who had arrived. Latecomers would take out a second truck when they got there. Many of the old air raid sirens are still there, I believe. I think many of them double for use as hurricane or tsunami warning sirens. Daryl Gibson
Date: Wed, 2 Nov 2011 16:55:27 +0000 (UTC) From: email@example.com (Michael Moroney) To: firstname.lastname@example.org. Subject: Re: DC vs. AC grids in NYC Message-ID: <email@example.com> Thad Floryan <firstname.lastname@example.org> writes: > "If (they) wanted to honor someone and keep CPS, the > obvious choice would be Charles Proteus Steinmetz." ... >FWIW, Steinmetz fostered the use of AC power along with Tesla. FWIW2, Steinmetz designed the Mechanicville hydroelectric plant I mentioned.
Date: Wed, 02 Nov 2011 10:42:45 -0400 From: Curt Bramblett <CurtBramblett@cfl.rr.com> To: email@example.com. Subject: Re: 60 hz as a time standard Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org> I understand that WNYC television (City of New York) used to switch the transmitter to 50-Hz to communicate directly to police precinct houses and other City government sites. The regular audience just saw hash while the police got a lineup or shift training or whatever needed to come from headquarters. This system was used in the 1950s but I'm not sure how much later. ***** Moderator's Note ***** Kurt, no offense, but I don't think that's possible. For one thing, encrypted TV transmissions weren't allowed until well into the 80's, and only then with special FCC authority. For another, it's very hard to change the "video chain" that goes from camera to transmitter without affecting everything that connects to it, so that would mean special monitors, video switchers, etc. If you have more definite info, I'd really like to see it. Bill Horne Moderator
Date: Wed, 2 Nov 2011 13:53:49 -0700 (PDT) From: HAncock4 <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org. Subject: Re: Telegraph turns 150 Message-ID: <email@example.com> On Oct 24, 11:02 am, HAncock4 <withh...@invalid.telecom-digest.org> wrote: > Monday marks the 150th anniversary of the completion of the > transcontinental telegraph. From sea to sea, it electronically knitted > together a nation that was simultaneously tearing itself apart, North > and South, in the Civil War. Today's Internet is a direct descendant of the telegraph. In 1940, Western Union telegraph lines were used to carry data communications, that is, machine-to-machine information for data processing operations. Processing was done by converting punched card to telegraph paper tape, transmission, and conversion back to punched card. As time went on, the machines were improved to include error correction and other controls. Telegraph lines of that time were slow, but relatively cheap compared to telephone lines. A very interesting IBM publication on bitsavers describes the pioneering efforts of data communications from 1940-1960 with various application examples and hardware descriptions. (Moderator note: this is a large file!) http://www.bitsavers.org/pdf/ibm/datacomm/TR00.767_IBM_TeleProcessing_1940-1960_Dec60.pdf As previously mentioned, the archives of this newsgroup contains the Western Union Technical Review, and many issues are concerned with data transmission. http://massis.lcs.mit.edu/telecom-archives/archives/technical/western-union-tech-review/
Date: Wed, 02 Nov 2011 17:09:45 -0500 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Robert Bonomi) To: email@example.com. Subject: Re: Telephony on TV Message-ID: <2fOdnTRtaLg0IizTnZ2dnUVZ_u-dnZ2d@posted.nuvoxcommunications> In article <firstname.lastname@example.org>, HAncock4 <email@example.com> wrote: >On Nov 1, 5:52 pm, David Clayton <dcstarbox-use...@yahoo.com.au> >wrote: >> I just finished watching an old TV show on DVD where the telephone network >> was the prime factor in the show. It was the use of a company "Tie Line" >> between San Francisco to Hawaii that gave away the killer: > >Could you elaborate how that happened? > >I don't think tie-line traffic was billed at that time--the point of a >tie-line was to provide free communication between two PBXs and >billing equipment cost money in that era. "Not exactly." A 'tie line' was a (usually) telco-supplied 'permanent' voice-grade point-to- point circuit between two locations. There was a non-trivial one-time 'installation' charge, and a MRC based on mileage. Just like for an OPX, or FX service. Tie lines were typically installed between locations where there was 'enough' traffic between those sites to justify the 'fixed' cost of the permanent link -- because it was less than the cost that would be incurred in toll calls. I've got a vague memory that the 'tie' in the name was actually an acronym for something.
Date: Wed, 2 Nov 2011 18:26:34 -0700 (PDT) From: HAncock4 <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com. Subject: Re: Telephony on TV Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org> On Nov 2, 6:09 pm, bon...@host122.r-bonomi.com (Robert Bonomi) wrote: > >I don't think tie-line traffic was billed at that time--the point of a > >tie-line was to provide free communication between two PBXs and > >billing equipment cost money in that era. > > "Not exactly." > > A 'tie line' was a (usually) telco-supplied 'permanent' voice-grade > point-to- point circuit between two locations. There was a > non-trivial one-time 'installation' charge, and a MRC based on > mileage. Just like for an OPX,or FX service. Tie lines were > typically installed between locations where there was 'enough' > traffic between those sites to justify the 'fixed' cost of the > permanent link -- because it was less than the cost that would be > incurred in toll calls. Yes, of course there were initial and monthly fixed costs, but I do not think there were variable costs of usage once the tie-line was up and running; so no records of tie line usage were normally kept (other than special reasons). Given that, and the general state of PBX technology of that era, I don't think there was a way a dialed call could've been easily traced, especially after the fact (if that's what they did.) I think in TV/movies they took a lot of liberties on the concept of 'tracing a call'. In Three Days of the Condor, they showed a CIA office where supposedly a map came up on a screen showing the location of an originated call. If the originating exchange had ANI (and not all did in 1976) that kind of technology was theorectically possible, but it would require a sizable mainframe to handle the database and the digitization of geographic information not often done back then, plus some nice hardware to select the map panel and display it. As an aside, they looked like Hagstrom street maps on the display. Hagstrom was a long time top map maker for the NYC area. Speaking of movies, in North by Northwest a page request for a phone call was a key element in the plot. Also, the telephone was used in a number of scenes. In one, two spies are talking to each other while in a bank of pay phones. IIRC, Cary Grant asked a hotel operator to trace a call just received, but since it was a manual call the operator likely would've remember the source. Of course, in a big hotel like that there were probably several operators handling a high volume a traffic, and remembering a specific call wasn't a sure thing.
Date: Wed, 2 Nov 2011 16:30:04 -0600 From: email@example.com To: firstname.lastname@example.org. Subject: Standard Telephone Wire Message-ID: <email@example.com> Can anyone recommend an outlet that still sells standard telephone wire? I am looking for a one thousand foot roll of plenum four conductor (or more) and I may need it fast. Everyone I call wants to sell me CAT-3 or CAT-5E which is more expensive. Regards, Fred
Date: Wed, 2 Nov 2011 18:30:39 -0700 (PDT) From: HAncock4 <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com. Subject: Re: Standard Telephone Wire Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org> On Nov 2, 6:30 pm, fatkinson.remove-t...@and-this-too.mishmash.com wrote: > Can anyone recommend an outlet that still sells standard telephone > wire? Just off the top of my head, maybe a chain like Radio Shack or Home Depot? Maybe a sales outlet of Avaya? There's a company that specializes in the second-hand market, but maybe they'll have what you need: http://www.phonecoinc.com/
Date: Wed, 2 Nov 2011 17:20:53 -0700 From: email@example.com (Dave Platt) To: firstname.lastname@example.org. Subject: Re: Standard Telephone Wire Message-ID: <email@example.com> > Can anyone recommend an outlet that still sells standard telephone wire? > > I am looking for a one thousand foot roll of plenum four conductor >(or more) and I may need it fast. > Everyone I call wants to sell me CAT-3 or CAT-5E which is more >expensive. > Regards, Google "Telephone station cable". Googling for "plenum station wire" turned up a couple of possibilities: http://www.allwaytech.com http://www.pacificcabling.com http://www.surplusmaster.com/prods/telephone/wire.htm No idea about price... Surplusmaster says that they have several spools of 1000' in stock (a couple of different types). -- Dave Platt <firstname.lastname@example.org> AE6EO Friends of Jade Warrior home page: http://www.radagast.org/jade-warrior I do not wish to receive unsolicited commercial email, and I will boycott any company which has the gall to send me such ads!
Date: Wed, 02 Nov 2011 17:46:29 -0500 From: email@example.com (Robert Bonomi) To: firstname.lastname@example.org. Subject: Re: Telephony on TV Message-ID: <CvCdnd_B4NPYVSzTnZ2dnUVZ_q6dnZ2d@posted.nuvoxcommunications> In article <email@example.com>, David Clayton <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote: > >I wonder if there are many other examples on TV or cinema of reasonably >obscure telephone technology being used in such an important manner in a >plot line? Not particularly 'obscure', but the movie "Sorry, Wrong Number" had the telephone as a central plot element. It also figured prominently in "Dial M for Murder". There are many instances where a "party-line" figured conspicuously into the plot. There's a Rock Hudson/Doris Day movie -- the name of it escapes me at the moment -- that revolves around two people being forced to share a party- line because private lines were in extremely short supply. There are at least two 'Columbo' episodes where observation of the indicator lamps on a 1A2 desk set are instrumental in the solution of the case. Also, a "Banacek' episode where a dial-up computer modem connection is an essential part of the solution to the 'mystery'. There's an 'Hawaii Five-0' episode, where 'remote message retrieval' (somewhat exotic technology for -that- time -- the lab guy has to explain, and demo, to McGarrett how it's possible/done) from an answering machine is a plot element. And, of course, there are the games Robert Redford plays with the phone system in 'Three Days of the Condor'. Especially the bamboozling of the CIA's 'tracer' system. There are, also, "who knows how many" shows that involve 'tracing' phone calls,
Date: Wed, 2 Nov 2011 23:13:21 -0400 From: Monty Solomon <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org. Subject: Uber: a car service you summon with a mobile app Message-ID: <email@example.com> Test-riding Uber, the populist car service you summon with a mobile app By Scott Kirsner, Globe Columnist October 18, 2011 San Francisco-based Uber is planning to launch its transportation service in Boston this Thursday. They already operate in New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Chicago, and they've been pilot-testing it here over the past few weeks. I used the app this afternoon to travel from Kendall Square to Brookline in a semi-swanky black Mercury Grand Marquis. Uber is a way to summon a town car using an app on your mobile phone. For livery drivers, it's a way to fill in extra work at times when they might otherwise be sitting around. And for consumers, it's a way to get a ride in a car that's more spacious and better-maintained than your typical cab. And the Uber app also provides better information about when exactly you'll be picked up. Here's how it worked for me... ... http://www.boston.com/business/technology/innoeco/2011/10/test-riding_uber_the_populist.html
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