Wireless Waffle - A whole spectrum of radio related rubbish
Whack A Roaming Molesignal strength
Tuesday 20 June, 2017, 08:54 - Radio Randomness, Much Ado About Nothing
Posted by Administrator
The idea of the 'whack-a-mole' game is that each time a mole's head appears above the parapet, you clobber it with a hammer and push it back down, the goal being to keep the playing field clear of moles. But no matter how hard you hit a mole, there always seems to be another one willing to risk being whacked.

whack a roaming moleKeeping your mobile phone bill down is very similar to a game of whack-a-mole. Just as you think that one set of charges has been reduced, some new charges pop-up somewhere else. And so it is with the abolishment of roaming fees in Europe. No longer will you have to pay any more than your standard fees for using your standard call package when travelling within the 28 European Union Member States. Remember though, this only applies to calling and texting home, and to using data. If you want to make a call to the restaurant down the road whilst you are staying in France, this is still an international call from the UK. So which mole is sticking its head above the parapet now?

Prior to the abolition of roaming fees, several mobile operators offered roaming packages which were designed to help travellers keep down the cost of roaming. Take Vodafone as an example. For those travelling to the EU 28, it had a package called 'EuroTraveller' which allowed you to use your home allowances for GBP3 per day. There was a secondary package called 'WorldTraveller' which allowed you to use your home allowances for GBP5 per day in another 60 or so countries. Both of these packages were optional and you could opt in and out willy-nilly. So if you didn't want to use your packaged in full, but just wished to send one text message, you could opt out (ideally before you travelled) and just pay the 30p or so rate for a text instead of GBP3, meaning that low users and high users could select a deal that was best for them.

So as of June 15 when EU roaming is free, Vodafone has introduced two new packages, 'Roam-Free' and Roam-Further'. Roam-Free allows you to use your UK package in the EU28 plus a few non EU-countries such as Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey at no additional charge. Roam-Further allows you to use your UK package in a further 60 countries (largely the same as the previous WorldTraveller package excluding, for some reason, the United Arab Emirates) for GBP5 per day. expensive text messageSo it sounds the same, right? Wrong! The Roam-Further package is NOT optional. This means that if you travel to one of the 60 countries included in the list, such as Australia, Hong Kong, Thailand or the USA, and send a single text message to let someone back home know that you are OK, it will cost you GBP5. There is no way to opt-out of this package. So instead of costing 35p for that text, it will cost GBP5. And there's your new mole, peering out of its hole.

Just when you thought that roaming was going to be cheaper and easier, if you travel anywhere outside of the EU, the operators will now try and recoup their costs from you by charging more for roaming than they did before. Of course if you're a heavy user, not much has changed, but for most holidaymakers who just want to let someone back home know that they are OK, and use WiFi to upload their holiday snaps to Facebook, that little text has become a whole lot more expensive.
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Repairing Skin Laxity with Radio Wavessignal strength
Friday 30 September, 2016, 15:57 - Radio Randomness, Much Ado About Nothing
Posted by Administrator
kylie minogue red dressVarious media outlets reported that singer Kylie Minogue (and other famous television personalities) are using radio waves to get a facelift. At Wireless Waffle we like a good radio related story and if it involved Kylie then we are triply interested.

So what are the 'collagen waves' that the report claims are giving Ms Minogue her youthful look? It turns out that it is not strictly radio waves that are being used, but that very high frequency ultrasound is to blame. There are several articles online with titles such as: Reading these articles carefully it seems that the method of treament is:
to induce thermal damage to thus stimulate neocollagenesis in deep layers of the skin and subcutaneous tissue

So, effectively, the treatment causes damage to the various bits of the skin under the surface, presumably older bits, and the body then repairs the area, presumably with new bits. This is done by introducing:
a selective and controlled rise in tissue temperature.

Wireless Waffle decided to test the approach using similar equipment available in our test facilities using the following, scientifically accurate procedure:
  • First we took the only thing hanging around that needed an improvement in its 'skin laxity' this being a chicken thigh that was in the fridge destined for a nice casserole or being barbequed.
  • As we did not have 3 MHz ultrasound equipment available, we opted instead for the 2.4 GHz waves induced by our microwave oven.
  • It is also said that Ms Minogue uses Pond's cream to improve her skin tone. To replicate this, we coated the chicken thigh in a layer of mayonnaise.
  • As the areas surrounding the face will absorb some of the radio signal, we placed the chicken thigh on some cold, pre-cooked pasta and a few carrots and a piece of broccoli to simulate the neck and shoulders.
  • As the power levels used for the collagen wave treatment are claimed to be between 50 and 200 Watts, and as our microwave was 900 Watts, we set it to '10%' to simulate a 90 Watt collagen wave signal.
After 30 minutes of 'treatment' we concur with the studies which say that the sub-dermal tissue's temperature had been raised and that skin laxity is improved. Indeed the skin was tightened and nicely coloured, and the chicken thigh was plump and tender, and very tasty to boot.

collagen radio waves   ultrasound collagen waves
Before   After
It therefore seems very plausible that the reason Ms Minogue remains to tasty as she approaches her 50th birthday is due to the application of high power ultrasound radio-waves. Maybe others would like to replicate our experiment and report back on how tasty they were able to make their thighs.
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ITU spies new training opportunitiessignal strength
Thursday 4 June, 2015, 15:04 - Spectrum Management, Much Ado About Nothing
Posted by Administrator
Regular readers of Wireless Waffle will be aware that last year we discovered that, like many in the telecommunications industry, the ITU seemed to have a rather poor grasp of maths. Now it seems that their training academy has an equally poor grasp of English!

The ITU run a training academy (the 'ITU academy') which provides training in telecommunications, spectrum management and many other topics. The academy is made up of many contributors but is centrally co-ordinated through the ITU who advertise the available courses via their web-site. The academy is run by the development sector of the ITU (ITU-D) whereas the previously identified mathematical errors were part of the radiocommunications sector (ITU-R). One would hope, amongst all other things, that an organisation providing training would at least be able to string a sentence together, but it appears that even this small feat is beyond the capabilities of the poor (or should that read 'almost bankrupt'), old ITU.

So what is this glaring error? See for yourself (click the image for a larger version)...

itu academy for spies

The above screen-shot is taken directly from the front-page of the English version of the ITU Academy web-site. It appears that attending maths or English classes is not a requirement for a position at the Union.

Of course, there is another explanation for this spelling mistake, and that is that the ITU academy is now training spies in the art of surveillance. Maybe the ITU have figured out that more money can be made in assisting people who want to become the next generation of 'spooks' than in providing training courses on less popular topics such as licensing, frequency planning and numbering. After all, there are plenty of better qualified training providers who do a good job of delivering courses on these specialist topics.

So what will they do next? Provide funding for movies into spying...? Now there's an idea!

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How Not To Install A Satellite Dish (Part II)signal strength
Saturday 16 May, 2015, 15:38 - Satellites, Much Ado About Nothing
Posted by Administrator
In the last instalment of 'How Not To Install A Satellite Dish', we successfully installed and aligned a new satellite dish to point at 19.2 degrees East so as to be able to receive German language television (and a few French channels to boot). The next job was therefore to connect the new dish, and the old dish, to the satellite receiver so that the same receiver could be used to switch between the German channels and the English language channels received through the existing, and separate, dish pointing at 28.2 degrees East.

Thankfully this does not (should not!) require the fitting of an additional downlead from the dish to the receiver, oh no. A system called DiSEqC (apparently pronounced 'die-seck' though in reality it should be pronounced 'diss-equck') comes to the rescue. This allows the receiver to select from multiple dishes connected on the same cable by sending control signals along the cable. All that is required is that a suitable DiSEqC switch is installed at the satellite end, connected to both dishes, and to the cable from the receiver.

2 way sat switchA 2 way sat-switch was duly purchased and installed as per the instructions. Back at the receiver (a trusty Foxsat HDR - though the original model, not the new one being sold now on Amazon), the secret menu that allows access to funky multi-satellite functions was accessed (by going into the Setup menu, then pressing red, green, yellow, blue, green, yellow and then blue in that order - or 🌑🌑🌑🌑🌑🌑🌑). Selecting 'DiSEqC 1' from the pull-down menu duly yielded signals from the original 28.2E dish. However, none of the other four DiSEqC inputs yielded anything from the 19.2E dish. Swapping the feeds at the dish end meant that channels from the 19.2E dish could be found on 'DiSEqC 1' but no signals from the 28.2E dish could be found on any setting. Grrr...

4 way sat switchThe DiSEqC settings in the receiver had four channels (e.g. 1, 2, 3 and 4) but the switch only had two. Could this be the problem? Only one way to find out, and so a second switch, this time a 4 way sat-switch was bought (which oddly is cheaper than the 2 way switch at the time of writing!) The original (28.2E) dish was duly connected to input 1 on the switch and the new 19.2E dish was connected to input 2. And guess what - this time success. Now the receiver would find signals from both satellites on the appropriate DiSEqC settings on the receiver.

It is unclear whether this was due to the fact that the first switch was faulty, but as the 4-way switch is (currently) cheaper than the 2-way switch, then anyone attempting this exercise might like to consider just getting the 4-way device to start with and thereby circumventing the tedious hours of failure that might otherwise present themselves.

freesat foxsat menuAnd so now, by switching the Foxsat receiver out of 'Freesat' mode, it was possible to access a wide range of German channels (and the UK ones) but without the help of the Freesat programme guide. Switching back to Freesat mode returned the box to the standard Freesat channel line-up and the programme guide. But surely there must be a way to add the German channels to the Freesat channel menu so that there's no need to go faffing around with multicoloured buttons in the settings menu to switch between them? Actually, there is and at least that part of the job went relatively easily, so stay tuned to Wireless Waffle for Part III of 'How Not To Install A Satellite Dish'...
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