30 Years of the Digest ... founded August 21, 1981
The Telecom Digest for February 24, 2012
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Date: Wed, 22 Feb 2012 15:50:50 -0600 From: "John F. Morse" <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com. Subject: Re: Supermarket shop by mobile phone Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org> On Wed, 22 Feb 2012 00:21:55 -0500 tlvp wrote: > ***** Moderator's Note ***** > > I'd really like to know if Touch-Tone was intended to be used for IVR > access when it was on the drawing board. I always thought it was invented > in order to cut down on local cable costs, i.e., to make it possible to > use Voice Frequency repeaters and thinner wire. > > Bill Horne > Moderator That was my understanding. VF repeaters couldn't pass dial pulses. The DLL (Dial Long Line) equipment was not cheap. It occupied a rack unit or two. It used power. It created heat. Contacts got dirty. It was noisy. Solid-state sender conversion kits were not that expensive, and solved the problem for older COs, like the 1XB, and early 5XB. I wonder if they were available for SXS offices? Often money dictates upgrades. I remember one scheduled 2B ESS replacement for Bonner Springs, KS, a mostly rural town. It was instead used in a smaller suburb of Stanley, KS (now consumed by Overland Park, KS). The reasoning was because all the rich folks lived there, many who worked in high financial jobs in the big city, and the Bonner Springs farmers didn't need the features. What about the military, and their fourth column of priority buttons on telsets? Were these lines not locally switched, perhaps wired to Autovon as FX lines? That could get expensive, but fortunately only senior officers had such phones. Maybe they used a line concentrator? All of the Army and Air Force switches I worked on (up through 1968) were All Relay SXS, and some X-Y SXS. No Strowger SXS, with their inherent horizontal dust-collecting banks. -- John When a person has -- whether they knew it or not -- already rejected the Truth, by what means do they discern a lie? ***** Moderator's Note ***** Dirty and noisy: ah, the good old days! I thought Autovan was all four-wire: someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I heard that Autovan switches were, technically, tandems and that they switched all calls using separate transmit and receive paths. The four-column phones, BTW, were located in a lot of different places, not just on the desks of high-ranking officers. Bill Horne Moderator
Date: Wed, 22 Feb 2012 12:12:29 -0600 From: Dave Garland <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org. Subject: Re: Supermarket shop by mobile phone Message-ID: <4F45300D.email@example.com> On 2/21/2012 11:21 PM, tlvp wrote: > Ultimately, Ma Bell gave in, and just made everything both pulse and DTMF > dial responsive, at no extra monthly charge. > Actually, where I am Qwest introduced a change that "will save money for the vast majority of our customers". They went to a single rate that included DTMF and was less than what DTMF customers were paying, but more than what pulse customers were paying. From my POV, that meant that the "extra monthly charge" was no longer optional. Given that most phones of the day had "pulse/tone" switches, and that there was a Hayes-compatible command to have modems dial pulse, I never saw any reason to pay extra for tone.. if I needed tones for interaction, I flipped the switch on the side of the phone after dialing. My computer BBS worked with pulse just fine. Dave
Date: Wed, 22 Feb 2012 16:27:39 -0800 (PST) From: Wes Leatherock <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com. Subject: Re: credit cards, was: Supermarket shop by mobile phone Message-ID: <1329956859.21482.YahooMailClassic@web111722.mail.gq1.yahoo.com> --- On Tue, 2/21/12, danny burstein <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote: > However, the big time issue was that we had to check each card > against a very big pamphlet with very teensy type, that was updated > each week... If the sale was over fifty dollars, we also had to call > in to the card company for validation and get a ticket number. Along about that time I was the designated person to pay for a dinner for a company meeting. The amount was betwen $50 and $100. This was in the evening, and the credit card authorization center had closed for the day. The solution, which came to me and the restaurant about the same time, was to run two charges, each for less than $50, on two different credit cards I had, so neither charge was over the floor limit. That was in the days when they sent out credit cards willy nilly, without your asking for them. Wes Leatherock email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: Thu, 23 Feb 2012 01:14:22 -0500 From: Monty Solomon <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org. Subject: Apple, Google and Others in Agreement on App Privacy Message-ID: <email@example.com> Apple, Google and Others in Agreement on App Privacy By NICOLE PERLROTH and NICK BILTON FEBRUARY 22, 2012 California's attorney general, Kamala D. Harris, said on Wednesday that the state had reached an agreement with Amazon.com, Apple, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft and Research in Motion to strengthen privacy protections for smartphone owners who download mobile applications. The agreement will force developers to post conspicuous privacy policies detailing what personal information they plan to obtain and how they will use it. It also compels app store providers like Apple and Google to offer ways for users to report apps that do not comply. The attorney general's office said developers who did not abide by their own privacy policies would face prosecution under California's Unfair Competition Law and False Advertising Law. ... http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/22/california-attorney-general-reaches-deal-on-app-privacy/
Date: Thu, 23 Feb 2012 08:31:12 +1100 From: David Clayton <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com. Subject: Re: Supermarket shop by mobile phone Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org> > ***** Moderator's Note ***** > > I'd really like to know if Touch-Tone was intended to be used for IVR > access when it was on the drawing board. I always thought it was > invented in order to cut down on local cable costs, i.e., to make it > possible to use Voice Frequency repeaters and thinner wire. > > Bill Horne > Moderator Given the choice between an out of band signalling (dialling) system that depended on mechanical components versus an in-band system that was immensely less reliant on mechanical issues, as well as being far more popular with the users, I am not surprised it was adopted. AFAIK IVR came along well after DTMF was invented, and only became practical when the majority of handsets were DTMF and the cost of IVR equipment (which included the computing systems behind them) came down to a reasonable level. -- 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: Wed, 22 Feb 2012 09:42:37 -0800 (PST) From: HAncock4 <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org. Subject: Re: credit cards, was: Supermarket shop by mobile phone Message-ID: <email@example.com> On Feb 21, 8:58 pm, danny burstein <dan...@panix.com> wrote: > However, the big time issue was that we had to check each > card against a very big pamphlet with very teensy type, that > was updated each week... If the sale was over fifty dollars, > we also had to call in to the card company for validation and > get a ticket number. > > - In the late 1970s online terminals came into use at the > larger retail stores, and presumably the call centers. > And then, bit by bit, the time and effort got to be less > and less... The Bell System developed a product line of transaction telephones-- and a special network to support them--to handle the growing volume of credit card transactions. One aspect include the development of a new network, called the Transaction Network, which introduced a message switching service tailored to transaction-oriented applications. This would be faster and easier than using a dial-up, and cheaper than private-line services. The December 1978 issue of the BSTJ is devoted to this service. (I'm not sure how widely this service was utilized in the market place.) As per traditional Bell System practice, they thoroughly researched all facets of the application. This includes separate articles on: "Transaction Network Service", "Communication Network and Equipment", "Transaction Network Operational Programs", "Maintenance and Administration", "Polled Access Interface", "Dial Access Interface", "Customer Service Center Interface", "The Switched Network Transaction Telephone System", "Transaction Stations", "Physical Design Banks", and "Transaction Printer". see: http://www.alcatel-lucent.com/bstj/vol57-1978/bstj-vol57-issue10.html Also, it should be noted that the during the late 1960s and 1970s the line between computer functions and telecommunication functions began to blur. That is, when did processing cease being telecom (under the jurisdiction of the regulated common carriers) and become data processing (handled by customer owned computers)? A series of formal FCC Inquiries investigated those issues. In those days there were predictions of an upcoming war between IBM and AT&T as technology increased.
Date: Thu, 23 Feb 2012 02:10:28 -0500 From: Monty Solomon <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com. Subject: From Tunes to Tones, Apps Bridge the Gap Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org> >From Tunes to Tones, Apps Bridge the Gap By BOB TEDESCHI February 22, 2012 Not long ago, a ring tone was the only thing that people bothered to buy for their phone, and some users spent big money on their collections of jangly alerts. Now you can download one app for roughly the same price of one of those old ring tones, and turn your favorite songs into sweet-sounding tones. With a little work, or, for Apple users, more than a little work. A ring tone app is an especially useful thing for people who have grown tired of the limited selections on Androids and iPhones, but who don't want to pay $1 for a short clip of a pop song or of Al Pacino's character in "Scarface" screaming "Say hello to my little friend!" Those with an iPhone who choose to build their own ring tones should download Ringtone Studio Lite (free) or Ringer ($2), while Android phone users should consider Ringdroid and Ringtone Maker, which are both free. For iPhone owners, the process isn't nearly as easy as it is when you buy a new ring tone straight from the phone, where it downloads directly to your default ring tones. ... http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/23/technology/personaltech/from-tunes-to-tones-apps-bridge-the-gap.html
Date: Wed, 22 Feb 2012 20:48:50 -0500 From: Monty Solomon <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org. Subject: Google to Sell Heads-Up Display Glasses by Year's End Message-ID: <email@example.com> Google to Sell Heads-Up Display Glasses by Year's End By NICK BILTON FEBRUARY 21, 2012 People who constantly reach into a pocket to check a smartphone for bits of information will soon have another option: a pair of Google-made glasses that will be able to stream information to the wearer's eyeballs in real time. According to several Google employees familiar with the project who asked not to be named, the glasses will go on sale to the public by the end of the year. These people said they are expected "to cost around the price of current smartphones," or $250 to $600. The people familiar with the Google glasses said they would be Android-based, and will include a small screen that will sit a few inches from someone's eye. They will also have a 3G or 4G data connection and a number of sensors including motion and GPS. A Google spokesman declined to comment on the project. ... http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/21/google-to-sell-terminator-style-glasses-by-years-end/ ***** Moderator's Note ***** The article doesn't make it clear if the glasses will contain a "smart" phone or simply attach to one: either way, having them available in a reasonable price range will be a major advance. As I've said, I'm curious about ways that new technologies affect old ones, so I'm interested in knowing if the display optics can act as corrective lenses. If so, we're going to see a clash of titans: that would be the "killer app" that puts Opticians out of business. Bill Horne Moderator
Date: Thu, 23 Feb 2012 01:25:49 -0500 From: Monty Solomon <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com. Subject: Disruptions: And the Privacy Gaps Just Keep On Coming Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org> Disruptions: And the Privacy Gaps Just Keep On Coming By NICK BILTON FEBRUARY 19, 2012 SAN FRANCISCO - Another week. Another privacy debacle. This time, Apple is to blame. Yes, the company that has promoted itself as more private and secure than the other guys, with its stringent app approval process, has actually been handing out people's address books as if they were sausage samples on a toothpick at the supermarket. Next week there will be another privacy slip. And again the week after. Like the movie "Groundhog Day," where the day repeats itself. Where the day repeats itself. Where the day repeats ... you get the point. It might be Google, Amazon, Sony, Facebook or Apple, again. Or perhaps a small Silicon Valley start-up in such a rush to get its product out in the face of competition that it will focus more on designing the icon of its app, than ensuring users' privacy. Imagine if a bank paid more attention to the color of the carpet in its lobby than the type of safe it uses to store its customers' valuables. No one would want to store anything there, that's for sure. http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/19/disruptions-and-the-privacy-gaps-just-keep-on-coming/ ***** Moderator's Note ***** Um, no, I don't get the point. Groundhog Day is a metaphor for the process leading to maturity, and about how its protagonist is condemned to repeat the same cycle until he adapts, grows, and changes (as are we all ...). In like manner, the spread of "private" information from cellphones to commercial databases will, in time, lead to a more mature and more realistic view of both our society and of its people. Further, a bank is always going to pay more attention to the color of its carpet than to the type of safe it uses: the carpet is what the customers see, and the type of safe is dictated by the bank's insurance carrier, so any safe that satisfies the insurer will be perfectly adequate. Using a Nineteenth-century allegory for a Twenty-first century issue is disrespecful to his readers. Bill Horne Moderator
Date: Fri, 24 Feb 2012 08:21:15 +1100 From: David Clayton <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org. Subject: Re: Disruptions: And the Privacy Gaps Just Keep On Coming Message-ID: <email@example.com> ........ > Using a Nineteenth-century allegory for a Twenty-first century > issue is disrespecful to his readers. > > Bill Horne > Moderator Sort of reminds me of that totally inappropriate use of the term "Gridlock" when telcos were complaining about long-held modem calls congesting the PSTN network way back in the day. "Gridlock" means that everyone grinds to a halt, the modem issue meant that only new calls may have been affected but every existing call in the network was never, ever affected. Just another lazy media grab that eventually misleads people as well as devaluing the original meaning of the term. -- 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: Thu, 23 Feb 2012 02:24:22 -0500 From: Monty Solomon <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com. Subject: Monitoring Your Health With Mobile Devices Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org> Monitoring Your Health With Mobile Devices By PETER WAYNER February 22, 2012 Dr. Eric Topol is only half joking when he says the smartphone is the future of medicine - because most of his patients already seem "surgically connected" to one. But he says in all seriousness that the smartphone will be a sensor that will help people take better control of their health by tracking it with increasing precision. His book, "The Creative Destruction of Medicine," lays out his vision for how people will start running common medical tests, skipping office visits and sharing their data with people other than their physicians. Dr. Topol, a cardiologist at the Scripps Medical Institute in La Jolla, Calif., is already seeing signs of this as companies find ways to hook medical devices to the computing power of smartphones. Devices to measure blood pressure, monitor blood sugar, hear heartbeats and chart heart activity are already in the hands of patients. More are coming. ... http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/23/technology/personaltech/monitoring-your-health-with-mobile-devices.html
Date: Thu, 23 Feb 2012 14:02:57 -0800 (PST) From: HAncock4 <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org. Subject: Re: Supermarket shop by mobile phone Message-ID: <email@example.com> On Feb 22, 12:21 am, tlvp <mPiOsUcB.EtLlL...@att.net> wrote: > On Tue, 21 Feb 2012 15:13:07 -0500, Bill Horne wrote, of Touch-Tone phones: > > > ... weren't adopted as quickly as was hoped: I think local LEC > > customers didn't see the signalling capability as an advantage worth > > paying for ... > > "An extra 5 or 7 bucks a month to save 5 or 7 seconds of dialing time?" > folks thought, "Ya gotta be kidding!" I remember: I was one of them. In our area Touch Tone cost $1.50/month, regardless of the number of extensions. If a household made a lot of calls, Touch Tone was a nice convenience. In our area, it was more of a curiosity in the late 1960s, but by the mid 1970s it became very commonplace in middle- class neighborhoods. Also, in that time frame, plenty of people were willing to pay the extra $1/month for a premium set like a Princess or Trimline. [As one who still has some rotary phones, after being used to Touch Tone, it does get weary using rotary dials, especially when dialing ten digit numbers.] > And later, when it was learned that DTMF would save Ma Bell money as > compared with pulse dialing, folks thought, "You should pay us to > switch to DTMF, not the other way around!" And I was one of those, > too :-) . My cable company is advertising that they will gladly send me an on-line bill FREE in the interest of saving trees. Not mentioned is [that] they're the ones saving money from printing and postage of a hard copying mailing, or that faster notice improves their cash flow, yet they make it sound like they're doing the customer a favor. Businesses, be they public utility or competitive, always priced their servies on perceived value rather than actual cost. I don't think Trimlines or Princess sets cost that much more to manufacture, but they generated revenue. However, the Touch Tone sets did cost noticeably more to make due to the electronics, and the receivers in the central offices were very expensive, too (per the Bell Labs History 1925-1975). For step-by-step, which was about half of Bell System lines, Touch Tone was a negative. Per the history, early TT installations in step exchanges wore out the switches, and special arrangements had to be made. The PUCs liked premium telephone offerings since that revenue was used to offset the low price for bare bones phone service--per their goal of universal service. > Ultimately, Ma Bell gave in, and just made everything both pulse > and DTMF dial responsive, at no extra monthly charge. The elimination of a charge for DTMF came well after Divesture, about when ESS was universal. A note of observation, if I may: "Ma Bell" ceased to exist in 1983 when the old Bell System/AT&T was broken up through Divesture. The term came about, in part, because the pre-divesture phone company was one monothic entity, providing all equipment, local, and long distance calling, and dictated all policies and pricing. Subscribers had to rent equipment--they could not buy it. However, after divesture, everything changed. Subscribers buy their own equipment from anyone. They could choose their long distance carrier. Eventually they could even choose their local carrier, and many people today use their cable TV company for phone service. There were numerous companies in the telecom business, of which "AT&T" was one of many. > ***** Moderator's Note ***** > I'd really like to know if Touch-Tone was intended to be used for > IVR access when it was on the drawing board. I always thought it was > invented in order to cut down on local cable costs, i.e., to make it > possible to use Voice Frequency repeaters and thinner wire. Good question. I wonder if the "Bell Labs Record" would have the answer. But, going by the NYT reference, by 1964 they clearly had computer interface in mind. This is interesting in itself because most computers _in use_ in 1964 barely had the CPU and storage capacity to handle that kind of function; more powerful machines would be required. That is to say, in 1964 using a computer to provide telephone grocery shopping would be far too expensive to justify. But using it to support banking balance inquiries might be cost-justified. The March 1958 issue of BSTJ explores "Tone Ringing and Push Button Calling". The need developed as a result of the development of ESS--"for ESS, the relatively large currents and voltages that are associated with the signalling functions in existing telephones would present formidable design difficulities". Instead of the 90 volts used for ringing, ESS uses a single volt or a milliwatt. This way signals could be passed on the voice frequency band. Some other technical advantages were mentioned. They went into great detail about the design and theory of tone signalling at the telephone set. "Tone Ringing and Push Button Calling", March 1958 http://www.alcatel-lucent.com/bstj/vol37-1958/articles/bstj37-2-339.pdf I believe a secondary desire was to reduce the holding time of common control registers engaged when someone is dialing a call. The original TT phone keypads had only ten digits. I'm not sure when the *# keys were added. FWIW, circa 1970 when we got TT, one telephone set was 10 digit, the other was 12 digit. (P.S. Like the above poster, our family discontinued TT after about a year, feeling that the $1.50/month wasn't worth the convenience gained. But, some years later, my family was willing to pay it.) It is amazing reading newspaper articles and other literature about technology from 1964. They had so many ideas on the burner, many of which eventually came to be, though later than anticipated. The big factor in making all of it possible was the huge drop down in the cost of electronics, which made computers, terminals, and telecommuni- cations so much cheaper. For example, I shudder to think the cost per bit of a disk drive in service in 1964 as compared to today. Other early articles on Touch Tone: "Push Button Calling with a Two Group Voice Frequency Code", January 1960 http://www.alcatel-lucent.com/bstj/vol39-1960/articles/bstj39-1-235.pdf (This goes into extensive detail on how the frequencies were selected. A key factor was not having any signal that could be confused with speech so as to cause an accidental signal transmission.) "Human Factors Engineering Studies of the Design and Use of Pushbutton Telephone Sets", July 1960 http://www.alcatel-lucent.com/bstj/vol39-1960/articles/bstj39-4-995.pdf (This goes into extensive detail about how they designed the keypad based on human studies. They experimented with various key arrange- ments as well as pressure and travel [while] depressing the key. I wonder if designers of modern electronic equipment do as much research.) Western Union private line telephone service, WUTR, April 1964 http://massis.lcs.mit.edu/telecom-archives/archives/technical/western-union-tech-review/18-2/p065.htm (The push-button dial telephone set illustrated in this article does not use DTMF, but rather various combinations of polarity and current presence to indicate the digit dialed.)
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