News archive November 2011 - Koos van den Hout

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2011-11-30 (#)
Prachtige 'gepersonaliseerde' spam naar een beheersaccount:
Hallo, usenet.
Wij vestigen uw aandacht op het feit dat u een onbetaalde rekening hebben.
Ik denk dat usenet wel meer onbetaalde rekeningen heeft. Maar de rekening heeft na uitpakken de bestandsnaam CommercialInfo.Doc____________________________________________________________________.exe dus daar geloof ik weinig van.

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2011-11-29 (#)
All the reading and thinking about DAB+ made me interested in doing DAB service scans like I scan DVB-T services. The DAB+ radio I bought does not show technical details of the found services. Something which can be hooked up to the linux laptop would be best: I could use an existing scan application to get the details I want and bring it along to interesting places (such as the very south of the Netherlands).

At the moment the Terratec Noxon DAB stick looks quite promising and cheap (less than 30 euros). But, no linux driver at the moment, although some work is being done: both someone on the linux kernel mailing list reports some progress and USB-Tuner für Digitalradio DAB+ (und DVB-T) - mentions a reply from the Frauenhofer institute that a Linux driver is being worked on: ich kann Ihnen aber versichern, dass hier gewerkelt wird und es in Zukunft Linux als auch Mac Unterstützung geben wird.

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2011-11-28 (#)
Like in July, attempts to reach Jawwal telecom mobile numbers in Palestina via an asterisk server. But this time with incoming audio, I hear kids in the background and some talking. Very garbled: lots of packet loss on the line and the audio clips. So somebody got a bit of a disappointment when this route for free calls wasn't working out.

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2011-11-27 (#)
Wardriving results 26 September - 27 November: 2529 new networks with GPS locations. Wardriving uncharted or less charted parts of the city delivers a lot more networks at the moment than bringing the wardrivebox along on trips over mostly known roads. I took the wardrivebox along on a trip to Den Haag today but it seems that city is almost completely covered by quite active wardrivers. wardrive map Den Haag.

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2011-11-27 (#)
The Dutch public broadcasters have chosen clearly to invest in a DAB+ future but the Dutch commercial broadcasters are mainly concerned with not losing listeners. The association of Dutch commercial broadcasters predicts FM radio will be active for at least the next 20 years.

I guess this is a result of commercial broadcasters being in it for the money: big changes like DAB+ are only interesting to them when there is clearly a business case for it. A higher number of services is not necessarily a good thing: it dilutes the advertising market.

There is an upside for the commercial broadcasters: coverage on DAB+ will be easier eventually. But in those 20 years there will be overlapping coverage between FM and DAB+, and the first time a commercial radio station will advertise having better reception in a region via DAB+ is a long way away. DAB+ radios being standard in cars will help: drivetime radio is very important to commercial broadcasters.

Source article (in Dutch) 'Uitzenden via FM nog twintig jaar - Broadcastmagazine.
More (in Dutch) "DAB had 8 jaar geleden al moeten zijn gestart" - Radio.NL

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2011-11-25 (#)
Tried to upgrade the firmware on the pure one mini dab radio I bought a while ago. I needed a number of tips from PURE One Mini (War: Promo-DAB-Radios vom BR?) - Radioforum. It came with the 5.0_EU firmware, and I tried the 5.1_UK firmware first because I didn't see the 5.1_EU firmware via the english route on the pure support website. The above forum discussion links to the right version in german, which does have the 5.1_EU version. Next the 5.0_EU firmware didn't communicate with the radio. It took a bit of fiddling in windows to install the right usb driver from the 5.1_EU upgrader. After that the USB driver worked and allowed me to do the upgrade.

So my own misunderstandig of versions caused most of the problems, but now I am quite curious whether I get this right:
  • UK version supports DAB
  • EU version supports DAB and DAB+
  • FR version supports DAB and DMB-A
DMB-A and DAB+ both have licensing, so I can imagine Pure selecting the right software for the right part of the world.

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2011-11-25 (#)
Lots of sites reporting that the Dutch public broadcasters (NPO, Nederlandse Publieke Omroep) have chosen for DAB+ and want a 97% coverage of the country by 2017. Plans include 20 DAB+ radio stations and up to 3 T-DMB video channels.

The fact that a switch to DAB+ is planned isn't new. The equipment was replaced at the beginning of this year to allow a switch to DAB+, according to Nieuw DAB-systeem voor Publieke Omroepen ( Dutch. The planned amount of services is news.

Original publication: The Netherlands Public Broadcaster (NPO) commits to DAB+ - World DMB forum (pdf format).

Reports at

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2011-11-25 (#)
Recently when showing some pictures on the pictures site Koos van den Hout I noticed that the browser Safari on the iPad actually uses the exif tag orientation. So pictures I took in rotated mode were rotated again by the browser. And the iPad is a bit too smart in this matter: trying to rotate the iPad 90 degrees makes the orientation sensor 'compensate' for this, so the pictures were still sideways.

Solution: clean out the orientation tags after rotating the pictures. And while looking at the exiftool script to do that, I had a look at the other tags in my pictures and noticed a load of information I'm not really wanting to share, such as the camera serial number. A sample of what I wanted was easily found at Removing "sensitive" meta data using ExifTool - underscan and I adopted this for my own scripts.

At the same time I did some updates to the copyright-statement text part so I can for example add a creative commons license statement or no text at all.

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2011-11-23 (#)
Recently we had to move our computer science server-room. Which was a project in itself, but as part of the move we had to move the 'time lab' to a different location because there is no antenna access in the new server-room.

That was the harder project. A new location had to be found, the antenna set up there, power and network made available. Antenna cabling wasn't the easiest part: N-connectors are hard to get right. As part of the move the IP of the public ntp server changed too: the load of requests has a noticeable influence on firewall performance. It's now behind a simpler firewall which does not attempt to keep state on ntp requests.

It's now up and running again, serving the correct time. Part of the NTP Pool, at the moment peaking at 445 requests per second.

If I ever need to use N-connectors for a transmitting antenna where actual power will cross the wires I will get help to get it connected to the cable. Getting that right is hard!

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2011-11-22 (May the excessive force be with you! I like this one.)
Google+Koos van den Hout : May the excessive force be with you! I like this one.
2011-11-21 (#)
Now we have a child growing up, children's television is also something to look at. The program for young children in the Netherlands is Sesamstraat, the Dutch version of sesame street. But it's scheduled at times that we are still on our way home. The solution: connect the dvb-t stick to the server and record there, to be played on the netgear mediaplayer. I first looked at the linux video disc recorder and MythTv but both are a bit too much everything and the kitchen sink for just regularly recording a tv program to be played somewhere else. There are options for Headless VDR mode but as stated the software is optimized for tunerdevices and playing in one box, like a settop box with harddisk recorder.

I asked a bit around and got a good tip from Matt McLeod: a simple script around dvbstream to fetch the video and audio pid from the dvb stream and save the result. Originally dvbstream is designed to take dvbstreams and put them on a (multicast) network, but it can also save to file. I changed the script to use the right settings for the Dutch programs, and it works and the result plays nicely on the netgear eva mediaplayer. My version:

%nets = (
                'NL1', '-qam 64 -cr 1_2 -gi 4 -bw 8 -tm 8 -f 706000',
                'NL2', '-qam 64 -cr 1_2 -gi 4 -bw 8 -tm 8 -f 706000',
                'NL3', '-qam 64 -cr 1_2 -gi 4 -bw 8 -tm 8 -f 706000',

%pids = (
                'NL1-sd', '7011 7012',
                'NL2-sd', '7021 7022' ,
                'NL3-sd', '7031 7032',

$net = shift @ARGV;
$time = shift @ARGV;
$filename = shift @ARGV;
$type = "sd";

#print "$time, $net, $type\n";

$cmd = "dvbstream " . $nets{"$net"} . " -n $time -ps -o " . $pids{"$net-$type"};

system qq($cmd > "$filename");

A 2 minute testrun gave me a 42 megabyte file. If I have it correct, this is a program stream with the video and audio in mpeg-2 format. Which explains why it's quite big for the quality and amount of time recorded. If I want to keep stuff for longer, conversion to better formats will have to be done.

Update: It works as a VCR with a unix commandline interface:
koos@greenblatt:~$ at 17:25
warning: commands will be executed using /bin/sh
at> cd /scratch/sesamstraat
at> ~/webvcr/ NL1 900 NL1-2011-11-22-sesamstraat.mpg
job 73 at Tue Nov 22 17:25:00 2011

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2011-11-14 (#)
Strong words from Lauren Weinstein: The Coming Fascist Internet.
But with the fullness of time, the phone companies, cable companies, governments, and politicians galore came to most intensely pay attention to the Internet, as did the entertainment industry behemoths and a broad range of other "intellectual property" interests.

Their individual concerns actually vary widely at the detailed level, but in a broader context their goals are very much singular in focus.

They want to control the Internet. They want to control it utterly, completely, in every technologically possible detail (and it seems in various technically impossible ways as well).
Strong words, and quite USA-centric, but developments to keep an eye on. I don't always agree with his opinions, but this one about commercial and political pressure to restrict the openness of Internet to further those commercial and political goals is something I want to point people at.

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2011-11-12 Playing copier
For the first time since we acquired a HP scanjet 3970 I tried to use it as a copier to avoid walking over to the supermarket and use the (bad) copiers there.

The 'copy' mode in xsane resulted in nothing happening with the laserjet 4050 printer. Next thing I tried was scanning to a .png and printing that from the gimp, but the result was that the printer was still processing the print job after more than an hour.

The solution was to install gimp-gutenprint. First I tried printing to the Epson Color 760 which printed instantly but took a while to finish the page. I had a look in the available drivers and gimp-gutenprint has native support for the HP laserjet 4050. Using this driver resulted in something in the right resolution coming out of the printer within half a minute of submitting the print job. I remembered from earlier attempts that configuring gimp-gutenprint might be a lot of work but since it was all configured in the home directories it still knew the right setup and it was easy to get working again.

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2011-11-06 (#)
Scanned DVB-T and '35 cm pirates' at the same time: no new results on either band. I tried the log-periodical antenna I built myself in horizontal polarisation, just a very faint signal in the wireless headset part of the TV channel in westerly direction but no radio stations.

When you look at the antennas in use like the ones show on the MayhemFM! website, it is imaginable I am not simply going to receive something unless a transmitter in the same region gets active.

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2011-11-04 (#)
Het werk aan het knooppunt Burgemeester de Withstraat / Dorpsstraat / Kapelseweg in de Bilt duurde van april 2011 tot zeker tijdens onze zomervakantie (in september 2011). Deze week zag ik al weer borden 'mijn slechtste fietspad'. Dat hebben ze vlot voor elkaar gekregen. Het tunneltje daar staat al tijden op die lijst: het is van zichzelf al smal en officieel is het ook nog een fietspad en een voetpad.

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2011-11-04 (#)
Interesting article from the Harvard Law and Policy Review volume 5-2: The Communications Crisis in America - Susan P. Crawford (pdf) about the current state of high-speed data transport to American consumers.

One quote:
The industry is poised to reap the central reward for geographical clustering, upgrades, and de facto monopoly presence - unconstrained pricing ability and an unmatched high-speed communications service in a marketplace where consumers are agitating for higherspeed communications and the cable companies are making north of 90% margins on their data services.
Found via Telecom Digest.

A very interesting read, making a valid point about the move towards IP based services and at the same time very little competition in high-speed last-mile access in the US with interesting connections between access providers and entertainment producers / distributors.

The Dutch market is somewhat better for as far as I know: most places with cable will have competition for 10 mbit downstream and faster Internet access, and regulators in this country are keeping a close eye on things.

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2011-11-02 (#)
Met de 'verbetering' van het regionale aanbod van Ziggo zijn we L1-TV kwijt.

Voor de grap eens uitgerekend hoe hoog een antenne moet zijn om kans te maken het 'dichtsbijzijnde' dvb-t signaal met L1-TV te ontvangen: 223 meter. De afstand tot de zendmast in Venlo is 110 kilometer (afstand uitgerekend met behulp van Google maps distance calculator), de zender zit op 143 meter boven NAP (volgens Overzicht dvb-t zenders Digitenne -, dus dan is wegens de kromming van de aarde er pas line-of-sight op 223 meter hoogte (uitgerekend met VHF/UHF TV Line of Sight Calculator).

Ik denk dat we er wel komen met de livestream van L1-TV via de website, voor die ene keer in de zoveel tijd dat we het ook echt willen zien.

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IPv6 check

Running test...
, reachable as PGP encrypted e-mail preferred. PGP key 5BA9 368B E6F3 34E4 local copy PGP key 5BA9 368B E6F3 34E4 via keyservers

Meningen zijn die van mezelf, wat ik schrijf is beschermd door auteursrecht. Sommige publicaties bevatten een expliciete vermelding dat ze ongevraagd gedeeld mogen worden.
My opinions are my own, what I write is protected by copyrights. Some publications contain an explicit license statement which allows sharing without asking permission.
Other webprojects: Camp Wireless, wireless Internet access at campsites, The Virtual Bookcase, book reviews
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