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The Telecom Digest for November 21, 2010
Volume 29 : Issue 314 : "text" Format

Messages in this Issue:

We're all hanging up the landline(David Clayton)
Re: US may disable all in-car mobile phones(David Clayton)
Re: History--computer based information operator terminal system (Hal Murray)
Re: History--computer based information operator terminal system (Neal McLain)
Re: Google TV, Usability Not Included(Neal McLain)
Elegy for the phone book(unknown)
Re: US may disable all in-car mobile phones(Richard)

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Date: Sat, 20 Nov 2010 17:44:36 +1100 From: David Clayton <dcstar@myrealbox.com> To: telecomdigestmoderator.remove-this@and-this-too.telecom-digest.org. Subject: We're all hanging up the landline Message-ID: <pan.2010.> http://www.theage.com.au/technology/technology-news/were-all-hanging-up-the-landline-20101118-17zfw.html We're all hanging up the landline Lucy Battersby November 19, 2010 THE number of people ditching fixed-line telephone services in favour of mobiles is larger than previously thought; just two-thirds of young Australians connect landlines when they move out of home. About 14 per cent of mobile-phone users no longer have a fixed-line telephone at home, says a survey of 18,000 people by the Australian Communications and Media Authority. This is bad news for Telstra, which owns and operates the copper wire telephone network and has experienced declining revenue from this high margin product line. Its revenue from fixed-line rental and call tariffs has declined from about $7 billion in 2006 to $5.8 billion last financial year. Of those choosing to keep their fixed telephone line, a third said it was convenient or cheaper than mobile, and just 13 per cent said it was because fixed lines offer better quality or more reliable service. About 7 per cent of respondents said they kept a fixed line for an internet connection. The number of fixed telephone lines has remained at 10.7 million since June 2000, but the number of mobile telephone connections has increased from 8 million to 24.2 million in the same period.
Date: Sat, 20 Nov 2010 17:55:35 +1100 From: David Clayton <dcstar@myrealbox.com> To: telecomdigestmoderator.remove-this@and-this-too.telecom-digest.org. Subject: Re: US may disable all in-car mobile phones Message-ID: <pan.2010.> ......... > FWIW, the best data regarding the dangers of cellphone use by drivers > came from Australia, which has a very good accident-investigation > program where they check if a driver was using a cellphone before a > crash. > > Bill Horne > Moderator There have been numerous cases of traffic deaths caused by people using phones highlighted in the media here, so the awareness seems pretty high and there is a bit of social stigma about using a phone while driving. Now there are also TV road safety campaigns specifically targeting mobile use while driving - in the past there have been good results with similar campaigns highlighting drink-driving (and now driving while under the influence of drugs) so hopefully the phone campaign will be as effective. http://www.tacsafety.com.au/jsp/content/NavigationController.do?areaID=13&tierID=1&navID=AEB30EF97F00000100136DA6C7B5DDD4&pageID=421 I almost got clobbered last year by some tool talking on his phone as he drove straight through a red light while I was on a pedestrian crossing, so I have a personal bias on this issue...... I still think anyone caught using a phone while driving should have the device smashed to bits before their eyes, but for some reason this punishment seems a little excessive to some (can't understand why, I'd let them have the SIM card first). ;-) -- Regards, David. David Clayton Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Knowledge is a measure of how many answers you have, intelligence is a measure of how many questions you have.
Date: Sat, 20 Nov 2010 03:02:12 -0600 From: hal-usenet@ip-64-139-1-69.sjc.megapath.net (Hal Murray) To: telecomdigestmoderator.remove-this@and-this-too.telecom-digest.org. Subject: Re: History--computer based information operator terminal system Message-ID: <TsudnTdfV8oJE3rRnZ2dnUVZ_oGdnZ2d@megapath.net> In article <cd519a85-1407-4931-999b-fc7b0dda7e13@h21g2000vbh.googlegroups.com>, Lisa or Jeff <hancock4@bbs.cpcn.com> writes: >A history article in the IBM Systems Magazine describes an IBM System/ >360-50 used to support an on-line lookup system for telephone >information operators. While the article is more about the computer >than the telephone operators, it is interesting none the less. > >for article please see: >http://www.ibmsystemsmag.com/mainframe/marchapril09/24886p1.aspx >(consists of three pages). I worked on that project. Boy does that bring back memories. Thanks for the reminder. (I still have my coffee cup from back then.) I was working for Computer Corporation of America in Cambridge MA. Today, we would call it a startup. There were 8-10 of us in the company. We had a data base system that ran on IBM 360s. That was long before SQL. Bell Labs was working on computerizing directory assistance. Somehow, one of our guys got in touch with one of their guys. We claimed that we could do the data base lookup in under a second. They were rightly skeptical, but after a lot of discussion and simulation, they funded us to do a serious prototype. We busted our tails for a couple of weeks and gave them a great demo at the IBM data center in Philadelphia. (It was the nearest place to Boston (Homdel?) where we could rent time on a 360 with 2260 terminals.) The demo worked well enough that we got a contract for the system out in Oakland that the above article describes. A big chunk of CCA moved to Oakland for several months. We were all young. I don't think anybody had kids so working long hours on a neat project was fun rather than disruptive to our life style. (Several wives/girlfriends came out for weekends. I got to Yosemite for a weekend in October. We had Half Dome to ourselves.) The project covered the whole 415 area code, 1.5 million listings. I think the breakdown was (roughly): 3/4 million residential 1/2 million business 1/4 million government Part of our job was to read the tapes that they sent to the printers for the phone books and extract the data to feed to our system. (The print tapes were full of quirks and special cases. I didn't work in that area.) They didn't have room for us or the computer in the main PacBell building in downtown Oakland so they rented the basement floor of an office building a few blocks away. We were connected to the main building by a pair of 56 KB lines. Being the phone company, they understood about backhoe fade. One line went out the back of the main building and the other went out the front. I think they didn't converge until they got to our building. One day, we got a tour of the normal directory assistance operation. There was a large room full of people. I'd guess 50 of them. Each operator was in a small booth with a row of phone books in front of her. When the operator said "What city please?", she really meant "What phone book?". I think the San Francisco directory assistance was shut down overnight and the calls forwarded over to Oakland. The phone books were reprinted monthly. It took about 10 of them to cover 415. The schedule was staggered so a new one arrived every few days. New listings and changes since the last version sent to the customers had a big dot next to them so they were easy to find. The walls of the booth had the numbers for popular restaurants and movie theaters. Think of it as a cache. The hit rate was impressive. I don't remember any solid numbers, but I'd guess 10-30%. There was also a small booklet with the changes since the phone books had been printed. I think it was updated nightly. It was 10 or 20 pages. At one end of the big room was a chalk board with today's screwups. If Joe's Pizza Parlor had a new phone and it got listed wrong or missed the cutoff and Joe called in to complain, his name and correct number would get up on that board where everybody could see it. I think the trial setup had 8 stations connected to our system. There was some sort of minicomputer at their end of the 56Kb lines. I remember grumbling that we had to do a lot of processing that should have been done at their end. Back then, I didn't understand project management. In hindsight, letting us do all the work was probably the right decision. The API/protocol was pretty simple. I think it was only an afternoon to get things off the ground. After that, all the changes were in our code so fixing/tweaking something didn't take any coordination, negotiation, or memos. Somebody just told us what to do and we did it. The goal was to deliver the first screen full of answers in under a second and have the answer be on that screen most of the time. The key idea is that the first 3 characters of the last name and the first 3 characters of the street name was enough information to get you down to a screen full most of the time. That's one seek for a hash table lookup, then another seek to get the first listing and a few more reads (maybe few short seeks) to get the other listings on that screen. 3 characters of first name and 3 characters of last name also gets you down to a single screen most of the time. After a preliminary test, we started over with 3+4 and 4+3 in order to get slightly better first-screen statistics. The data base also had middle names/initials, street numbers, city, and whatever. They were only used occasionally. WIL was the nasty case for names. That covered Wilson and Williams and probably a few other big clumps. Overall, I think Bell Labs and PacBell were happy with the results. We were at the right place at the right time. +--------------------------------------------------------------+ Less telcom related... The only name I remember from PacBell was Al Aramburu. He was a VP(?) in PacBell and also a supervisor for Marin County (north across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco). I think he was on loan to Bell Labs when they started working on this and he made the west coast arrangements for the experiment. >From CCA, Bill Mann, Bob Kittredge, Dave Long and I moved out to Oakland for several months. Dave Long stayed out there as our man on the scene for a few months after it was up and working and the rest of us returned to the east coast. (Apologies if I overlooked anybody.) PacBell provided an IBM 360/50 dedicated to this project. Until we got off the ground, it was available to us (CCA) for whatever we needed. It was an interesting example of throw-money-at-it for an experiment. We'll learn enough to make it worth while. I don't remember when I learned about Moore's law. This was obviously long before it hit popular culture, even if you restrict your sample set to geeks. PacBell obviously considered this to be an important project. We never had any foot-dragging type bureaucratic problems. I don't remember any names, but the guys/gals in the trenches supporting us were all good. +--------------------------------------------------------------+ Our system was one of the first 360/50s on the west coast with 384K (yes K) of memory. We weren't sure everything would work in 256K and BellLabs/PACBell didn't want to pay for 512K, so we tried 384K. The system had 3x 2314 disks, a few tape drives, and a printer and card reader. The 2314s had the dual channel option. Each 2314 had 9 drives, 8 could be online with the 9th was a spare. Each drive was 30 megabytes, 200 cylinders, 20 tracks per cylinder, 7294 bytes per track. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_2314#IBM_2314.2F2319 The whole 2314 was about 5 ft tall, 12 feet wide, and 3 or 4 feet deep. The I/O gear (tapes and disks) arrived long before the CPU. The IBM field service guys had plenty of time to play with their local diagnostics that ran on the CPU in the controller units. So the I/O gear was all tuned up long before the CPU arrived. A couple of days after I got there, the CPU came down the freight elevator. The IBM guys swarmed around it. After they got everything all setup, they pushed the Power-On button. The main breaker popped. Those guys worked on 360/50s all day long. They knew it inside and out. After a quick huddle they found the bug in the directions from the factory. The next try got off the ground. But it didn't get very far. One of the guys asked something like "Did we check for loose cards?". The response was several grumbles of "Not me.". They dumped power and started checking each individual plug in card. That involved opening the cover (air baffle) on each 8x10 inch section, and then tapping each card in there with the back of a screw driver to make sure it was properly seated. Several times, a card dropped out onto the floor when they opened the baffle/cover. I remember several cries of "Got another one!" when somebody found a card that wasn't well seated. After they reseated all the loose cards, the machine booted. I did the the SYSGEN that evening. I browsed the web a bit but didn't find a good picture. The main part of a 360/50 was a T as viewed from above. The console was on the bottom of the T. The CPU was the stem. The top bar was the memory. +--------------------------------------------------------------+ Odds and ends... The 360/50 was used by a lot of banks. Bankers are stingy. When they didn't have a serious problem to work on, the IBM field service guys used to hang out at our place. Aside from free coffee, we would give them occasional time on the system when it wasn't busy with real work. They would try their latest diagnostic software. (Bankers wouldn't give them the time of day, even at midnight.) I remember at least one interesting event due to new diagnostics finding a problem the old ones didn't, but I've forgotten the details. When the computer was busy, we got to sit around and swap lies. I remember making a wise ass comment about a big hammer on top of an IBM tool box. It sure didn't look like anything you wanted near a computer. The response was: "That's our door fitting tool." :) Our office manager had worked for PacBell in Nevada on a project that involved taking aerial pictures of all of their telephone poles. They contracted it out to somebody with an airplane and camera. They couldn't sell the pictures to recover some of their costs because they weren't tariffed for that. For the next round, they bought one set of pictures from the guy who took them with the understanding that he could/would sell them to other people. At one point, PacBell used a lot of IBM 7044s for their billing. They were getting another one, maybe just in case since IBM was shutting down that refurbishing line. The CPU fell off the fork lift that was taking it out of the plane. When it hit the ground, the whole frame was bent slightly. A quick phone call kept them from taking the refurbishing line apart so they could run that machine through again. -- These are my opinions, not necessarily my employer's. I hate spam.
Date: Sat, 20 Nov 2010 04:39:50 -0800 (PST) From: Neal McLain <nmclain@annsgarden.com> To: telecomdigestmoderator.remove-this@and-this-too.telecom-digest.org. Subject: Re: History--computer based information operator terminal system Message-ID: <c7e956ea-566d-4983-b1b7-7278f8b2ed80@s16g2000yqc.googlegroups.com> On Nov 19, 11:48 am, Lisa or Jeff <hanco...@bbs.cpcn.com> wrote: > On Nov 19, 12:04 am, Neal McLain <nmcl...@annsgarden.com> wrote: > > > > I think 11n today is used for test codes. Anyone have a list? > > > They don't exist. See comment about VSCs above. > > Thanks for the link references. > > What I was wondering about are test codes. For example, I believe > "113" initiates a ringback test. > > > At this point, I rise to defend my argument that digit 1 was not (and, > > insofar as possible, still is not) used as the first digit of a > > subscriber telephone number because "digit 1 cannot be distinguished > > from an accidental preliminary depression of the switchhook" (Miller, > > 1933), Wes's argument to the contrary notwithstanding. > > I'm a bit confused by your statement. According to the Bell Labs > history, the concern over accidental switchhook depression concerned > only deskstand (candle stick) phones. Once the number of such phones > declined in service (around the 1950s) it ceased to be an issue. > > Actually, I don't understand how an accidental 'one' impulse that > could happen. Perhaps when the user held the phone in one hand and > lifted the receiver with the other the hookswitch springs allowed a > "bounce" and thus a false one. Perhaps users 'flashed' the hookswitch > while waiting for a delayed dial tone and that sent out a false 'one' > when the dial tone finally came. Note that in old movies users often > flash the hookswitch "Operator! Operator!" even on dial phones. > Perhaps in manual days hookswitch flashing was routine. (On calls > served by cord PBXs or toll calls placed by an operator users were > instructed to flash to recall the operator well into the 1970s.) Or > perhaps it wasn't a problem at all but they thought it was at the > time. (When 7 digit dialing came out they introduced exchange names > because they said 7 digits were too many for people to remember, but > later they said that was wrong.) >>> I think 11n today is used for test codes. Anyone have a list? > >> They don't exist. See comment about VSCs above. > > Thanks for the link references. > > What I was wondering about are test codes. For example, I believe > "113" initiates a ringback test. That may have been the case with SxS switches. Today, 11X (and *X) indicate vertical service codes. There are many unassigned VSCs that default to error (or busy) tone. As it happens, the entire 113/*3 block is presently unassigned, "Reserved for expansion to 3-digit VSCs." See http://nanpa.com/number_resource_info/vsc_assignments.html >> At this point, I rise to defend my argument that digit 1 was >> not (and, insofar as possible, still is not) used as the >> first digit of a subscriber telephone number because "digit >> 1 cannot be distinguished from an accidental preliminary >> depression of the switchhook" (Miller, 1933), Wes's argument >> to the contrary notwithstanding. > > I'm a bit confused by your statement. According to the Bell > Labs history, the concern over accidental switchhook > depression concerned only deskstand (candle stick) phones. > Once the number of such phones declined in service (around > the 1950s) it ceased to be an issue. Perhaps it's no longer an issue. Perhaps Wes is right: it never happens in a million cases. I'm not saying it happens; I'm saying that the numbering assignments in use in the NANP today effectively prevent such a call from inadvertently reaching any other valid subscriber number. I'll be the first to admit that it wasn't originally designed this way. The entire North American Numbering Plan is a patchwork of workarounds designed to accommodate hundreds of existing incompatible numbering plans into something workable. By happy coincidence, the very fact that 1 and 0 weren't used in the candlestick days made them available for all the services added since. Thus: 1+1+ = Vertical Service Code 1+0+ = Carrier Access Code 1+N11 = N11 Code (some switches) 1+NXX+ = Intra-NANP dialed call 0+1+ = International dialing access 0+0+ = IXC operator from some coin phones 0+NXX+ = Intra-NANP credit-card/operator-assisted call And possibly others that I may have missed. Neal McLain
Date: Sat, 20 Nov 2010 04:49:47 -0800 (PST) From: Neal McLain <nmclain@annsgarden.com> To: telecomdigestmoderator.remove-this@and-this-too.telecom-digest.org. Subject: Re: Google TV, Usability Not Included Message-ID: <c69f6bc0-be01-4260-ad7e-a115987e611e@l17g2000yqe.googlegroups.com> On Nov 19, 3:18 pm, Monty Solomon <mo...@roscom.com> wrote: > Google TV, Usability Not Included > > By DAVID POGUE > November 17, 2010 > > Google Mail. Google Phone. Google Voice. Google News. > > Holy cow. Is there any corner of our lives where Google doesn't > want a toehold? > > Not anymore. It's here, just in time for the holidays: Google TV! [Moderator snip] > http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/18/technology/personaltech/18pogue.html I love Stuart Goldenberg's graphic, but I have to wonder: will we really be able to get Google TV with rabbit ears? http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2010/11/18/18pogue.html Neal McLain
Date: Sat, 20 Nov 2010 17:07:42 +0000 (UTC) From: Joseph Pine <josephpine@invalid.invalid> To: telecomdigestmoderator.remove-this@and-this-too.telecom-digest.org. Subject: Elegy for the phone book Message-ID: <Xns9E3671345ACEEnomailnomailorg@> Elegy for the phone book By Dennis O'Toole November 18, 2010 Since the late 1800s, the best way for a man to prove that he is worthy of the name has been to grip a phone book sideways and tear it in half. Women loved, and weaklings feared, those who could grasp a volume of the Chicago, Boston or San Francisco residential white pages and splice it like a napkin. For me and thousands of other mustachioed strongmen, tearing apart perfectly good phone books has been our way of life. It's one that will soon die out. Everyone looks up numbers online, phone companies say, so there is no reason to continue making the residential white pages. One after another, state governments have agreed. In just the past month, New York, Pennsylvania and Florida have decided to hang up the white pages. Later this month, Virginia state regulators may decide that white pages are no longer in service. Do my telephone metaphors frighten you? Good. They are meant to. The Marine Corps has made tearing apart a phone book the sole test for becoming one of the few, the proud. Green Beret candidates must tear apart six in less than 20 seconds. Navy Seals must do the same under water. History is replete with notable phone-book ripping incidents. John Dillinger broke out of a Crown Point, Ind., jail by tearing apart the bars of his cell. The bars, it later proved, had been made out of phone books. Wilt Chamberlain shocked the basketball world by ripping apart 100 in a single game. Neil Armstrong became the first man to tear apart a phone book on the moon. These are just a few examples. I could also cite Richard Nixon's famous "Checkers" speech where he fended off corruption allegations by putting his fist through the Dallas white pages. Or, how the Beatles wowed the Ed Sullivan audience with their hit song, "I Wanna Hold Your Hand (and Tear up Your Phone Book)." And who can forget Ronald Reagan standing in Berlin and declaring, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall like I will now tear apart this phone book!" Perhaps, in our decadent age of online communication and highly sugared, caffeinated malt liquor, a new test of manliness will emerge to replace wanton phone book destruction. One will have to. Because quite soon, life in a world without phone books will tear the hearts of real men in half. Dennis O'Toole is a writer and performer in Chicago. Copyright 2010, Chicago Tribune http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/ct-oped-1118-phone-20101118,0,1086412.story
Date: Sat, 20 Nov 2010 08:58:50 -0800 From: Richard <rng@richbonnie.com> To: telecomdigestmoderator.remove-this@and-this-too.telecom-digest.org. Subject: Re: US may disable all in-car mobile phones Message-ID: <scvfe6l6qhif9jj0cmg79744h9rv1av3kv@4ax.com> Some U.S. states which banned texting while driving have found that the accident rate caused by texting has increased. http://www.examiner.com/diversity-in-detroit/laws-prohibiting-texting-while-driving-increases-accident-rate-generation-view (From the article) The reason for the increase is thought to be the tendency of texting drivers to hide their phone while texting. This creates an even bigger distraction than was the case when the phone was in plain view, typically held on top of the steering wheel. By holding their phones in their laps while typing messages, the distracted motorist must take their eyes completely off the road.
TELECOM Digest is an electronic journal devoted mostly to telecom- munications topics. It is circulated anywhere there is email, in addition to Usenet, where it appears as the moderated newsgroup 'comp.dcom.telecom'. TELECOM Digest is a not-for-profit, mostly non-commercial educational service offered to the Internet by Bill Horne. All the contents of the Digest are compilation-copyrighted. You may reprint articles in some other media on an occasional basis, but please attribute my work and that of the original author. The Telecom Digest is moderated by Bill Horne. Contact information: Bill Horne Telecom Digest 43 Deerfield Road Sharon MA 02067-2301 781-784-7287 bill at horne dot net Subscribe: telecom-request@telecom-digest.org?body=subscribe telecom Unsubscribe: telecom-request@telecom-digest.org?body=unsubscribe telecom This Digest is the oldest continuing e-journal about telecomm- unications on the Internet, having been founded in August, 1981 and published continuously since then. Our archives are available for your review/research. We believe we are the oldest e-zine/mailing list on the internet in any category! URL information: http://telecom-digest.org Copyright (C) 2009 TELECOM Digest. All rights reserved. Our attorney is Bill Levant, of Blue Bell, PA. --------------------------------------------------------------- Finally, the Digest is funded by gifts from generous readers such as yourself who provide funding in amounts deemed appropriate. Your help is important and appreciated. A suggested donation of fifty dollars per year per reader is considered appropriate. See our address above. Please make at least a single donation to cover the cost of processing your name to the mailing list. All opinions expressed herein are deemed to be those of the author. Any organizations listed are for identification purposes only and messages should not be considered any official expression by the organization.
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