Feedback, November 2008

Flying the not-so-friendly skies

In response to your October editorial, “IBC was great, minus the travel,” you hit it right on the mark. I have been flying for approximately 40 years and see the progressive deterioration of simple creature comforts on commercial travel.

I raised three wonderful children and am often shocked to witness how modern parents simply do not teach respect and proper public behavior to their children. There were many times when strangers went out of their way to compliment my wife and me on the outstanding behavior of our children while in restaurants or other public venues.

That said, I doubt that any amount of public complaining will change things, nor will we ever see the day when there is an adults-only seating section on an airline. My preference, when I can justify the almost $6 per gallon of avgas price, is to use private aircraft, where there is always an adult-only seating section. While there are no trips to the galley or restroom, it sure beats the security lines, waiting periods and lack of legroom seating. Unfortunately, it is a heck of a long trip to Europe.

Oh well, thank goodness for the Bose noise-cancelling headphones!
Lanny Nass

Back to the future

Dear editor:

In Anthony Gargano's “Back to the future” article in your August issue, he states:

“The first cable television system is usually recognized as the system built in Astoria, OR, in 1949 by appliance dealer Ed Parsons. Ed wanted to sell television sets but found that a bit challenging because Astoria didn't receive any signals. That's hard to imagine in this era of hundreds upon hundreds of channels to select from over cable, satellite and telco fiber. Back then, off-air was the only option, and there were less than 100 television stations in the United States.

Ed, armed with an FM receiver to tune TV audio, explored the surrounding countryside to find a place where he could receive a signal. When he did, he strung some cable from that spot to his newly sold receivers, thereby giving birth to CATV.”

I believe this is incorrect. Service Electric Cablevision was started in 1948 by John Walson in Mahanoy City, PA. He has been nationally recognized as being the founder of the first cable operating system. However, there are a few other individuals who argue the fact that they started cable years later. Mr. Walson, the founder, was the first.
Sam Lesante, Jr.
Sam-Son Productions
Hazleton, PA

Anthony Gargano responds:

Many thanks for your comment, Sam. Actually, truth be known, I started out my career working on what broadcasters would have then referred to as the “dark side” — the cable television industry. My first job was working for Milt Shapp in 1964 at Jerrold Electronics, one of the pioneering equipment suppliers to the cable industry. Jerrold was eventually acquired by General Instrument, which itself was subsequently acquired by Motorola.

Through working at Jerrold, I had the pleasure of knowing Johnny Walson. He was a character and a really great guy. And yes, he always laid claim to building the first cable system. To this day, the claims of who really built that first system remain unresolved, and attribution of that honor varies by institution or publication.

For my article, I cited Ed Parsons as being the first because the National Cable Television Center and Museum in Denver, now called simply The Cable Center, attributes that honor to him. But knowing the differing opinions as to whom the honor belongs, I was careful to use the term “usually recognized.”

By the way, Milt liked to claim that he built the first real cable television system!

Great stuff, Sam. Thanks for reading.

ATSC standards

Dear editor:

Regarding the September Transition to Digital column, “DTV multichannel transmission,” the MGT and the STT are essential. If the first is not correctly constructed, a receiver cannot locate the other tables. The STT contents are critical because sending the wrong time will impact any DVR tuning based on event start times and may impact receivers' ability to actually use the EITs. Also, because there is a time accuracy requirement, allowing the clock to drift in the PSIP generator equipment can result in a violation of FCC rules.

The PSIP contains the listed structure for the virtual channel, not the program. Second, the video stream descriptor (which is carried in the PMT for each program) does not contain bit rate or aspect ratio information.

While the major channels in the TVCT (in the United States) can be 2-99, the total number of subchannels that can be signaled is more than 100,000. Early experiments to assign subchannels dynamically caused consumer confusion and few broadcasters to alter the lineup during the day.

The IS disbanded some years ago. Its public findings can be found in the IS Findings subsection under Standards on the ATSC Web page.
Art Allison

Aldo Cugnini responds:

Art, thanks for making those important points. As a key contributor to the ATSC standards, your comments should always garner deference. Standards are, by necessity, written in very terse and (hopefully) exact language, and efforts to generate short abstracts are challenging to the rest of us.

Bit rate and aspect ratio are, of course, carried in the video sequence header, and my final point was intended to generate involvement in the general activities of ATSC.

Test Your Knowledge!

See the Freezeframe question of the month on page 4.