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Sunday, January 9, 2011

AT&T Launches 4G, or does it?

AT&T has the fastest network in America, but not if you believe advertising for "4G" networks. The reason is AT&T runs on HSPA-Plus, the system used in much of the world, a faster base system than the technology used by other carriers, who add artificial speed to their system and label it 4G. The truth is none of the carriers come close to AT&T, which resisted the 4G title because by international standards no system in the United States comes close to the speed required for the "fourth Generation" label.

Now AT&T has given up on educating customers why they are the "fastest network in America" and will simply call their network "4G" because of its speed, not its technology.

AT&;T with its iPhone or competing phones using G3 service are far faster than alleged G4's because of the type of band broadcast used, coming in at 15 to 17 megabits per second. Verizon is second at a maximum speed of 12, with T-mobile at 8 and Spring/Nextel crawls at 6.

The International Telecommunications Union requires 100 Megabits per second to carry the labels G4 or "high speed".

In the loose world of American marketing and sales, the term "high speed" has been bastardized down to  6 to 15 megabits per second, while the wold standard is ten times as high at 100.

The Wall Street Journal has this video on the throwing of the marketing switch:

The following is from the first page of today's Marketplace section in the Wall Street Journal:

AT&T Inc. flipped a switch and turned on its 4G wireless network Wednesday. The switch, however, was in the company's marketing department.

By relabeling its existing 3G network, the country's second-largest wireless carrier joined the noisy fray over so-called fourth-generation wireless technology, which promises mobile Internet speeds so fast that huge files can be downloaded in minutes and streaming video can be watched without the interruptions of earlier-generation technologies.

As recently as September, AT&T executives had referred to the company's current network, which runs on a technology it calls HSPA-plus, as 3G. But AT&T has subtly shifted its marketing message since then, now proclaiming "the nation's fastest mobile broadband network" instead of the fastest 3G network.
The 4G network claim is already prominent on its consumer website and will be affixed to new phones being rolled out for its network this year.
AT&T also said it will spend more aggressively to complete an even more advanced network technology called Long-Term Evolution by the end of 2013, a year ahead of its previous target. Customers won't see improvement in their services until 2012.

Sunday Morning News and Views, Part IV: Slow down...

Technically the new decade began a few days ago, January 1, 2011. While we celebrated the Millennium on January 1, 2000, the real mark of 1,000 years was January 1, 2011. So why are we in such a rush to move forward and mark time a full year ahead of schedule?

Americans loved their pets. A 2006 conservative estimate reported over 72.1 million dogs, 81.9 million cats and 12.5 million birds living in our households. The numbers are said to have grown almost exponentially since then, although there is no way of knowing yet what impact the Great Recession had on man's best friends.

The world is changing faster than ever before. It is not your imagination. Mass and world wide media, the internationalization of commerce, manufacturing and communication, and world wide the largest generation in history (many of whom are without work or any vision of a clear future) have created an impatient world where action is expected now, results expected rapidly and dissatisfaction finds fertile soil. Rapid shifts in politics, a need to lay blame, disappearing boarders, and a desire for fast simplistic explanations rather then the patience to study the real roots of any given situation have already led to wars, terrorism, unstable governments and shifting alliances.

What can be done to promote stability and reasoned change in an immediate gratification world, one full of talking heads, pundits, waring factions and ideologically opposed extremes?

For a week, or at least a few days, the US finds itself slowing down, Consumer Electronics and other engines of capitalism taking a back seat to shock, introspective examination and religious faith. Not from some religious holiday, but from a shared mass media amplified national tragedy.

A political cease fire this week in Washington, in respect for the events yesterday in Arizona, but politics never stops.

We are all tired of politics, and of the speculation in light of today's news.

We have long been in a continuous election cycle, something political science and sociology experts have said leads to polarity and inaction. From the moment you are elected to office you must begin your reelection campaign. raising money and making sure you are in the mind of voters in a positive way. Those on the "outside" who wish to run for office started fundraising before Novembers election, or at least those who wished to have the now astronomical amounts needed to win national, statewide or state legislative seats. Is it possible for the common man or woman to win?

12 Republicans are building war chest, collecting armies to hit the streets and the airwaves in an effort to become the Republican nomination for President and the prize of taking on Barack Obama, whom Republicans are sure can be become a one term only president. While he has backed off on his statement, the Speaker of the House used a commitment to do anything he can to make Obama  a one term president, a call to arms for all Republicans to block any Democratic legislation, agenda and to do as they promised, overturn all the progress of the most active congress since the Great Depression.

Hits and misses: Products debuted at CES over the decades

From the Las Vegas Sun
One challenge of swimming the vast ocean of consumer electronics products on display at the Las Vegas Convention Center is to determine which are the trophy catches and what is just seaweed.

History has shown that the International Consumer Electronics Show is about killer apps and gotta-have-it gadgets as well as disappointments that missed the mark.

This year’s show is no different.

Will the 2011 show be the one remembered years from now as the one that tablet computers really took off after consumers camped out to buy the first available iPads? Or will the public say, “Why do I need a tablet computer? I already have a laptop, a netbook and a smart phone?”

Will it be remembered for the mystery surrounding Microsoft’s failure to debut Windows 8? For the millions who don’t even have Windows 7 yet, let’s hope not. Is this the year that 3-D television goes mainstream? Or will the public say, “I already have a 53-inch television in my house. Besides, I hate those stupid glasses.”

And what about those smart TVs? It’s hard enough to follow the plot line of “Lost” without having a barrage of Internet interaction at the same time.

With the 2011 show closing its doors today, here are some of the hits and misses, of CES past:

Click here for a look at past and current hits and miss CES introductions.

Sunday Morning News and Views, Part III

On this date in history, January 9, 1776, the pro-Independence pamphlet "Common Sense" was published by Thomas Pain, who moved to America from Britain only two years before. He continued with a series of pamphlets titled the "American Crisis" which began "these are the times that try men's souls."  He later moved back to England, then worked for liberty in France. At the age of 79 he died in America, with only six people attending his funeral.

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid says he doesn't think top Republican Mitch McConnell is serious when he says his No. 1 goal is to make Barack Obama a one-term president. Reid, D-Nev., says he believes McConnell, R-Ky., is more concerned with the economy, immigration and other problems facing the country. McConnell has drawn criticism from Democrats for saying that denying Obama a second term is his chief priority. Reid says that if Republicans have made defeating Obama's re-election bid the focus of the next two years, then "that's a bad place to place your cards."

Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid also dismissed the tea party as short-lived, saying it will "disappear" once the economy gets better. In an interview with NBC's "Meet the Press" Reid said the movement will no longer exist when the economy improves - and he says the economy is getting better every day.

24 hour news and the politicking of every action and issue, with commentators, ratings oriented TV experts and radio talk host, a pervasive conservative reinforcement of only one point of view and the constant bombardment of hate and distrust toward the Federal Government, necessary taxes, any form of Democratic reform and even the nature of Americans who use social services or depend on public schools, has impacted America. As has the Supreme Courts decision undoing 120 years of campaign reform and its impact on our most recent elections, with hundreds of millions of dollars spent to vilify Democrats in targeted districts, including the district of Congresswoman  Gabrielle Giffords.

Yesterdays shooting in Arizona has impacted the US Government. The Speaker of House says that "an attack on one is an attack on all." He then suspended all House business for the week, including a vote on repealing health care reform. The head of the FBI is taking personal command on the ground in Arizona, with the "suspect" in FBI custody, here he has invoked the 5th and is no longer talking to officers. Homeland Security is working with local and FBI officers in the followup to yesterdays mass murder. It is being treated an a assassination attempt on a member of Congress and the murder of a Federal Judge. Arizona's role, for now, is to work to solve the murder and attempted murder of an estimated 17 to 20 shooting victims (leaving 6 dead, with some reports of 7, and at least 4 in critical condition this morning).

A somber-looking Nancy Pelosi led a moment of silence during a planned event in San Francisco over the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona. Speaking at the annual District Community New Year's Celebration at the Delancey Street Foundation, the San Francisco Democrat described Giffords as a "brilliant and patriotic American."

New Jersey enacted an Anti-Bullying law this week, requiring schools to do anti-bullying counseling, have enforcement officers and take actions as needed. "Bullying" is becoming pandemic and has had increasingly tragic implications at the middle school and high school levels.

Past and likely future Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is on a fact-finding trip to Afghanistan and the Middle East.The former Massachusetts governor arrived Sunday in Kabul for a meeting with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai. Romney will also "train Afghans and share with local leaders his views on issues of leadership, public service, economic opportunity and democratic participation." Romney is then proceeding to Israel to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jordan to meet with King Abdullah II. The week long trip is Romney's second to the U.S. war zone. He visited Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan in 2006, ahead of his first campaign for president in 2008.The former businessman is seen as having strength on economic issues heading into a possible 2012 race, but still relatively little experience in foreign policy.

Iceland has summoned the U.S. ambassador to a meeting as top officials express concern over the U.S. criminal investigation into WikiLeaks - a probe that has included a demand to see the private details of an Icelandic lawmaker's Twitter feed. A court order unsealed this week revealed that American authorities had gone to court to seek data from Twitter about WikiLeaks, its associates, and its alleged source, Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning. Among those targeted was lawmaker Birgitta Jonsdottir, a one-time WikiLeaks collaborator also known for her work on Iceland's media initiative, which aims to turn the tiny North Atlantic nation into a free speech haven.
Pope Benedict XVI baptized 21 newborns in an intimate ceremony in the Sistine Chapel on Sunday that marked the end of the Christmas season. Standing under Michelangelo's magnificent "Last Judgment" fresco, the pope poured water on the foreheads of 13 baby boys and eight baby girls. Some babies screamed, other squirmed, some slept through it. Benedict prayed for their "life and health so they can grow and mature in the faith." He said that, in an ever-changing society without firm cultural references, it has become more difficult to educate children in the faith, and urged parishes and parents to cooperate. The babies - aged between four weeks and four months are all children of Vatican employees. The annual ceremony is held the first Sunday after the Jan. 6

Toyota says it's investing an initial $50 million on a new facility aimed at reducing the number of
traffic injuries and deaths in the U.S. The Collaborative Safety Research Center will be based at the
Toyota Technical Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It will research and develop ways to enhance safety involving the vehicle, driver and traffic environment. Center director Chuck Gulash says the center will work with leading universities, hospitals, research institutions and federal agencies. Charter partners are the University of Michigan, Virginia Tech and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.Gulash says the initiative, expected to start within a month, is part of the commitment that Toyota President Akio Toyoda made last year to Congress and the American people to take a leadership role in developing advanced safety technology.


James Eitrheim, a man who inspired talent and careers

A dedicated high school teacher who launched careers in every field, but mostly in live theatre, film, television, dance and the arts. His students included performers who are well known from the voice of Homer Simpson to Robin Hood's love, a New York City Prema Ballerina to soap opera star, from LA and Chicago to New York and London, Paris and even China. His students also became high school and college teachers, passing on his passion, a National Board Member of SAG (yours truly), award winning newscasters and political leaders.
James Eitrhiem wasone of four theater instructors at my very active high school theatre department and served as department chair. His passion helped Oak Park-River Forest High School in Illinois graduate future award winning entertainment professionals, teachers, and well rounded citizens.

He is in the hospital at the Mayo Clinic. If you know "Mr. Eitrheim" please send him a kind word using the service below...

-Art Lynch

If you would like to keep up with Jim's health status please visit his Caring Bridge site:

Sunday Morning News and Views, Part II

More than ten million tablet computers, mostly iPads, were sold in 2010. Next year that number is expected to more than double. For business blackberry will have a leg up, as it's smaller tablet has many of Apple's features but "tethers" wireless to your blackberry phone. The Android tablet has a built in keyboard (meaning it weighs more and is wider than an iPad).

"Superfast" 4G networks are 6 to 10 times faster than 3G, if all 3 G's were equal. AT&T 3G (being relabeled 4G) is 30% faster than Verizon 4G and 70% faster than Spring 4G. Confusing. Phone carriers and manufacturers are counting on that and Americans "need" for the latest, fastest, smartest, best....

Microsoft used CES to launch "remote-less" Internet and TV control using their motion sensor technology, and to take on Google and Mac in just about every venue where they compete. The software giant did not claim to be best, or even better, but to be consumer and user friendly and the users choice. 

TNT and USA are going very well by offering solid fun entertainment, well produced and the way networks use to operate for well targeted niche markets. Others like Sci Fi and AMC may have lost their niche target by diversifying, but for AMC "Mad Men" really hit its mark. Now comes word that "Mad Men" may move to NBC. "Paid" networks like HBO and Showtime have the advantage of multiple income sources and therefor can gamble more on content. With only margin niche target marketing (mostly late night), the "premium networks" spend more on quality programming, filling the rest of their air time from their library of motion pictures and previous specials or programming.

In Northern Sudan the mood is darker than in the south. A secession vote will result in the loss of large oil revenues, a foil group (Christians and others) to blame for problems and their pride in the nation of Sudan. It looks almost certain that voters in the south will gain the 60% of registered voters needed to launch a new nation in southern Sudan.

The Glock semi-automatic handgun with extended clip used in Saturday's mass murder and assassination attempt was purchased legally in November, shortly after the elections, from a Tuscon gun store.Police say the 22 year old shooter is "mentally unstable." Renewed calls to impose and strengthen the Brady Law, an originally Republican legislature controlling hand gun sales.

"When people do that, they gotta realize that there are consequences, " said Congresswoman Giffords, who was vocal on the dangers of the cross hairs approach of Sarah Palin, of negative campaign advertising and the use of anger and hatred to rally voters rather than facts, reason and true discourse.  Now she is in critical condition. Her shooter may or may not have reacted to the advertising, because, as the county sheriff put it, he is "unhinged". Many of those who died were here staffers, friends and neighbors. Some of those wounded remain in critical condition.

NPR's Scott Simon used his melodic voice and reading for a special tribute to Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Go to Weekend Edition Sunday to listen to Simon and what he has to say.

Republican leadership has postponed all legislative action for at least a week because of the shooting. So the "repeal" of "Obamacare" will have to wait a week, a largely symbolic move as any Republican rushed legislation is likely to be defeated in the Democratic majority Senate, or vetoed by the president.

9 year old Christina Green was celebrating her election to her student council by going to the community meeting with her congresswoman. She lost her life, as did a 76 year old man, a Federal Judge and at least two others.

Sunday Morning News and Views, Part I

This is the weekend of the annual Moby Dick Marathon at the whaling museum in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Pippin Ross reports 200 readers took turns yesterday reading the book aloud to a rapt audience.

One hundred and forty years ago, January 10th, 1861, Florida became the third state to secede from the Union, after South Carolina and Mississippi. A divide in perspective and how history is taught remains in the Sunshine state despite the large number of Yankee transplants who call the state home.

The world may have a new country in a few weeks, the 54th for Africa and the first since a pact that there would be no new nations. Voters are voting in large numbers in Southern Sudan, and will over the next week. 60% of registered voters (not just 60% of those voting) must vote for separation from the north. The south is rich in oil, which currently is piped through the north for distribution primarily to Europe.The South is made up of Christians and other groups who have been the subject of violent attacks and discrimination since the Sudan was created. The north is primarily Arab. The attacks have been from other African nations over recent decades more than from their fellow Sudanese, and have been violent at times.

Meanwhile most of Northern Africa is in a warning zone for all French citizens, as military rescue attempts to recover kidnapped French citizens in the Sahara failed.

In North Korea the assumed successor to the dictator put on an opera concert in English last night and was, according to European reviewers, quite good. Guest artist from other nations, including some that are not friendly with North Korea, joined in the concert.

In London the arts scene is vibrating to the sounds of an Norwegian musician who carved his own instruments out of ice, creating very melodic percussion sounds.

Yesterdays shooting in Arizona was third on BBC coverage, with conflicting numbers of six and seven dead. Reports on injuries range from 13 to 17. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords remains in critical condition. The 9 year old girl who died was there as a reward for winning a seat on here student council. It is thought that the Federal Judge who died was there unannounced as a friend of the Congresswomen. Police are now looking for a man in his 40's or 50's who is said to have dropped of the shooter and may have been involved in other ways.

Giffords may be one of the last remaining moderates on either side in Congress, which became even more polarized between right and left in this last election. Republicans painted her as a flaming liberal despite her overall voting record.

Lots of knee jerk reactions to the shootings on both sides. Republicans and others are angry or at least upset that so much coverage has focused on the strong negative and even hateful advertising against the Congresswoman, including ads with targets over her face and the use of a Target on the now removed Sarah Palin's Facebook site. Even the county sheriff credits the bitter, hateful and polarized politics in the district. For those who do not live in a contested district, the hatred and volume of negative ads in the district eclipsed even the anti- Harry Reid attacks in Nevada. It was and is an environment those living outside these districts may not understand, because they were not exposed to it.As a media scholar there are conflicting views on violence and hatred in the media, including in advertising, but most experts agree that advertising works and a very large number of voters were influenced by ads more than reason or research. An unstable person could easily be influenced in ways that those who are health may not be. The shooter was exposed to major anti-Congress, anti-big government hate advertising and rhetoric. Giffords barely won against a Tea Party Republican, but at this point there is no news on motive or if anything but the suspects spoken and written disrespect and lack of trust for the government was involved.

The shooter had an extended rapid fire magazine on his weapon.

Federal Judge John Roll was among six people killed in a shooting at a public political gathering Saturday at a supermarket parking lot. Judge Roll presided over some key immigration cases, including one in which undocumented immigrants filed a civil lawsuit against an Arizona rancher. Roll shopped at the supermarket where he was shot., and is reported to be a friend of the Congresswoman. He was active in the Boy's club, a conservative but not a politician. In 1994 he struck down part of the Brady Bill that required background checks on gun purchases.He was active in Operation Streamline, a controversial court that speeds up prosecution or extradition against illegal immigrants. He says he has not view on the policy, but is carrying out Federal law and mandates.

The story, as might be expected, is dominating American media coverage this morning.
Freedom fighter or terrorist? Tomorrow in El Paso, Texas, Luis Posada Carriles goes on trial in federal court on charges related to a 1997 hotel bombing in Havana that killed an Italian tourist. The 82-year old Posada is a staunch anti-Castro militant embraced as a hero by Miami's Cuban exile community.

State employee unions have been a major political powerhouse in California. They were the financial force behind Jerry Brown's successful bid for governor. But now, state workers are wondering if Brown will be friend or foe as he tackles a 28-billion dollar state budget deficit. It's a situation comparable to another big state's dilemma -- New York, where newly elected Governor Andrew Cuomo proposes a one year pay freeze for state workers as part of his emergency plan to get New York on stable ground. Unions, which helped American raise above endentured

Former Senator Bob Dole has been released from Walter Reid Hospital. At 87 he has been in and out of the hospital and is in ill health.

Moktada al-Sadr offered a brief speech to followers Saturday, following his return to Iraq from Iran, where he had lived in a self-imposed exile. He told thousands of supporters U.S. troops need to be gone by 2012. The fiery cleric also said support for the current government could continue -- provided it addresses basic needs. He spoke more as a politician than the with the flaming anti-American and anti-Iraqi government rhetoric he once used. He no longer says "death to America" but rather "Say no to America." His support is mostly in the Sheite South.