DTV NASCAR Campaign Off To Bumpy Start [Broadcasting and Cable]
In an effort to raise awareness about the transition to digital television, the FCC has decided to sponsor NASCAR driver David Gilliland's #38 Ford. The race car features the phrase "Is your TV ready for digital?" on the hood. The cost to taxpayers? $350,000!
In its first race, the #38 DTV Ford crashed into the wall at the Martinsville Speedway on Sunday, with 13 laps remaining in the race. Car and driver David Gilliland will be fine but just think about it; in a world where the Federal government is spending a trillion dollars to save the economy, how could the FCC write a check for $350,000 to paint a slogan on the side of a racecar?
Let's remember that over-the-air broadcasters, who are the beneficiaries of the digital transition, and cable operators, who have nothing to gain, each have provided hundreds of millions of dollars of free airtime to educate Americans about the ensuing change in television technology. Because of all the airtime given to the government for free, the public is well aware of the looming changes in February. What they're not sure of is what they need to do about it. And painting a slogan on a race car adds nothing to the educational process. You just have to read this blog to understand that consumers are confused about precisely how they are impacted by the transition.
At this point in time, the FCC doesn't need to spend taxpayers' dollars with slogans and signs that tell people what they already know -- that something is going to happen. They need to focus its efforts and dollars on educating consumers about what they need to do in order to keep watching television on February 17th.
Ars Technica has talked with an FCC spokesman about the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) request that the scheduled FCC vote on white spaces be delayed in favor of a public comment period on the FCC's technical report on the issue. The FCC spokesman says that the FCC is reviewing the NAB request, but this article characterizes the spokesman's remarks are reluctant on whether the request will be granted.
In the past, the FCC has granted a public comment period after the release of a controversial technical report.
Once again, what's the rush? This could be a serious mistake or it could be nothing. This issue should be vetted and understood fully before running the risk of interfering with many critical consumer services. Besides, with only a few months left before the digital transition, not to mention the change in administration, it seems prudent to focus on the one critical issue -- the digital transition -- and leave the long-term policy decisions to next year's Commission.
Beware the Digital Zombies [New York Times]
I thought this was an eye-opening report about the number of Internet-connected computers that have been hijacked to perform nefarious tasks as members of botnets. In the opening paragraphs the article describes a Microsoft engineer connecting a computer without protections from this online hijacking to the Internet. Within 30 seconds, the computer has been taken over and co-opted into a botnet.
Hackers use botnets for spamming and stealing financial information, among other things. But this article has some good news -- computer engineers and law enforcement are working to infiltrate botnets in an effort to shut them down.
We deal with this issue everyday. A very high percentage of people who are using enormous amounts of bandwidth are not even aware of it. Their computers are infected and they send out countless spam emails impacting everyone in their neighborhood because of how much bandwidth they're consuming. This is an issue that needs to be dealt with aggresivley from a technical and a law enforcement point of view. Wouldn't it be great to live in a world where spam simply didn't exist?
New Apple ads tweak Microsoft marketers [CNET News]
I love a good commerical! Have you seen the newest PC and Mac commercials from Apple? The latest ones remind me of the political commercials we're seeing during the election season. Apple is tweaking Microsoft again about their advertising campaign for Windows and their decision not to use the word Vista in the name of the next version of Windows.