NEWS AND VIEWS
          April 17, 2008

Mike and Laurel Kohl
S-9141 State Road 23
Plain, Wisconsin   53577-9612



April 17, 2008

Multiple signs of spring have appeared here in southern Wisconsin, accelerated by our first above 70-degree temperatures yesterday.  One would never believe that just over four weeks ago we had 18 inches on snow on the rooftop, and snowbanks taller than myself at the edge of the driveway.  It was a hard winter, and my 1994 Ford Taurus wagon has finally passed the point of no return.  The last straw was during March, when trying to open my driver's door after a substantial snowfall.  The underside of the adjoining quarter panel had shifted into a new shape, after the rust supporting it had crumbled.  This moved the quarter panel into a position that blocked the door from opening, and it stayed that way until after a crowbar was used to re-shape things.  Enough of this car!

A history lesson might be entertaining at this time.  I purchased this car ten years ago June 1st, to replace an aging rust bucket known as a Toyota Tercel.  That car had broken the 240,000 mile barrier.  This Ford Taurus wagon has now eclipsed 322,000 miles, on the original engine, which has been carefully maintained with a yearly treatment of Slick 50, which minimized normal wear and tear during the winter that happens with cold-weather startup.  I cannot say the same about the transmission, which has been rebuilt once by AAMCO, followed by two junkyard transmissions put into service to keep things going.  It might have something to do with the fact that hundreds of satellite antennas have been towed in a trailer behind this trusty Ford product, which was never designed for such abuse.  Coupled with going up and down a gravel driveway with a 50-foot vertical rise.  I could probably get another year's use of this car, but the toll in replacing failing parts would start to add up.  And leave me stranded somewhere when things such as the radiator fall to the ground due to a lack of support below.  It's been a faithful servant, but it is time to say goodbye.  I have already replaced it with an economical Dodge Dakota pickup of 1999 vintage, which should be better suited to tasks such as towing trailers.

It's mid-April, which would normally be the time to drive to Atlanta to another satellite trade show.  But last year seemed to mark the end of the industry as we used to know it,  with a planned October show in Reno never happening due to financial issues with the show's promoter.  April 2007 was the last time that Bob Cooper and I met in person, for a 20th anniversary reunion and going-away party in Atlanta, for those involved in the first wave of the home satellite industry.  This week has another milestone, with the April 15th issue of Bob's SATFACTS magazine being its last.  Bob has sort of "retired" from monthly magazine publishing, and will concentrate on the creation of other books and media, while he still has the ambition to do so.  Mr. Cooper turned 70 earlier in April, so a belated Happy Birthday!

In other news, Arthur C Clarke, officially known as "Sir Arthur", passed away in March at age 90, closing the books of another era.  He first envisioned the geostationary satellite arc we use, christened as the "Clarke belt", in a 1945 magazine article in Wireless World magazine.  This was highlighted in Bob Cooper's first issue of Coop's Satellite Digest magazine back in November 1979, and will have the distinction of being the news story of the month in the last issue of SatFacts (April 15, 2008).  

As we hinted in our March discussion, a national one-way satellite dialup Internet service that we are not ashamed to put our name on is very close to fruition.  There should be news in our May issue, which will appear a bit late (probably around May 25) due to previous commitments earlier in the month.

Skyvision's DSR-410 project is chugging along.  Some minor hiccups about mapping issues remain to be cleared, but these units should be ready for sale in a few days.  Drop us an Email if you want to purchase one, and we will let you know when they are ready to ship.  The new AMC-18 C-band platform at 105 West longitude should provide great signals over a huge area, stretching from Arctic regions to the northern tier of South American countries just above the equator.  Lower 48 users should plan on having a six-foot prime focus antenna with C-band LNBF.

Until next month,