Wireless Mic Follow Up: Turns Out Public Safety Did Get There First

One may logically ask, if I am right about the wireless microphones being such a big problem for public safety, why haven’t the public safety folks complained to the FCC about this?

Answer: turns out they have. But, the public safety folks being quiet and unassuming, failed to make themselves heard.

Allow me to change that. The National Public Safety Telecommunications Council, a federation of public safety associations, sent a letter to Chairman Martin asking that the FCC address the problem of wireless microphones back on June 30, 2008. i.e., about two weeks before I filed. While I wish I could claim that it was the NPSTC letter that inspired me, I had no idea it was out there until today. My conversations with the public safety guys were all informal and off the record. Still, as always when folks remind me I’m not an engineer (or an economist, or technologist, or any of the other topics on which I chose to share my humble layperson’s opinion), I am rather pleased to find a bunch of actual engineers that agree with me.

Mind you, the NPSTC letter asks the FCC to go a heck of a lot further than I have. NPSTC wants wireless microphones kicked out of the entire 700 MHz band. I, OTOH, think lots of folks can productively use the broadcast white spaces. Still, I do feel compelled to point out that wireless microphones do not have nearly the level of intelligence/sophistication being discussed for interference avoidance for the white spaces devices at issue in 04-186. Perhaps we should require wireless microphones to rely on sensing as well, or require that they consult an online database for possible new users in the band, or require them to acknowledge some sort of “permissive beacon.” Perhaps public safety entities like NPSTC should administer the database or beacon, and we should require wireless microphone users to pay for these services.

I mean, after all, we wouldn’t want to let these devices run around loose, would we? Think of the terrible interference that might cause. Unless these devices can meet the same rigorous standards that Shure and others seek to impose on unlicensed devices in 04-186, I don’t see how we can ask NPSTC to abide by circumstances that they feel place our public safety at risk.

Stay tuned . . . .

Sex and the SimCity?

I had been working with an engineer from a large multi-national company. I had never met or conversed with this engineer except by email, but I understood from her name that she was female.

Having been married for 17 years to an MIT graduate, I like to think I have some appreciation of how women engineers behave and how they should be treated.

In the course of our work, this engineer created an avatar, and she commented on how it looked like her. Her model was based on a typical digital content industry product. Few people other than my wife look like these figures – Barbie dolls on steroids. By what turned out to be an accident of technology, this model arrived on my desktop stark naked – no clothes and no hair. But it was highly detailed, and artfully done.

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Caveat Hacktor

I just saw the delightful high-quality site on core computer algorithms Hacker’s Delight. I was startled by the following notice about the corresponding book:

“After the first printing, an errata file was started. The publisher did not incorporate this into the second printing. For the third printing, he made all the corrections known up to that point in time. For the fourth and fifth printings, the publisher subcontracted the production work, and accidentally gave the subcontractor the files for the first printing. The sixth printing corrects all the errors known up to when it was printed (November 2006). Therefore, the best copy to obtain is the sixth printing, and the second best is the third printing.”

Good grief. This is the kind of thing that makes airplanes fall out of the sky — or my bank say “oops.” As an engineer, I have long been aware of how much stuff out there is truly not designed, transcribed, or built correctly, but this little example gives a nice compact summary to my unvoiced horrified sputtering. I wonder if more direct and immediate Internet technology (like Wikipedia and maybe Sophie) will help.