Translator Crusades: D.C. Update

Things are in a somewhat strange state of flux at the FCC regarding the controversy involving speculation and trafficking in FM translator stations, at the expense of spectrum for more LPFM outlets. On March 18 the FCC released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) which seeks to expand the LPFM service; it also included a six-month freeze on the processing of any more translator applications from the flood dumped on the agency in 2003. However, the rulemaking itself has yet to be formally published in the Federal Register.

Publication in the Register is an important step in the regulatory process. Typically, agencies do not start the clock on a regulatory proceeding until it has been formally published in the Register. In this case, it would formally start the FCC’s comment and reply-comment period, which is supposed to run for up to 45 days following Register publication. Read More

Seeking Spectrum’s Historical Picture

An interesting research project has fallen into my lap from a professor with whom I had a pretty cool class last semester. He seeks “historical visualizations” of spectrum, with an emphasis on how spectrum has been represented in the context of policy debates.

Quoth Christian Sandvig, “Here is a topic where people argue all the time about whether the spectrum is ‘full’ or ’empty’ (and about interference, whether things are ‘near’ or ‘far’, etc.) and yet the visual conventions that convey ‘fullness’ or ’emptiness’ or ‘nearness’ — how maps and diagrams and charts are made, with what shapes, at what scale — seems to be subject to a lot of cavalier manipulation.”

My task is to explore how this has occurred throughout policy-history, with deviation into related areas allowed if the graphics are compelling enough. It’s a somewhat daunting assignment because I can see getting lost in the hunt.

Pirate-Buster Patented DNA Database Search

A trivial postscript to the saga of Knoxville’s First Amendment Radio, whose demise in 2004 was attributed in large part to David Icove: ultra-cop, righteous ham, and, apparently, mad scientist. In the months leading up to the bust, a team (of which Icove was a part) received a patent on a “parallel data processing architecture” designed to make DNA database searches fast and easy.

In a biometricheavy War on Terror™, there’s obvious potential in such proprietary knowledge.