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Satellite EVERYTHING!

 
 
Reply Sat 10 May, 2003 09:14 am
I notice that in other countries (have checked out Sweden and the UK), satellite service which includes internet, TV and radio is readily available. Not here. Internet, yes; internet and TV, sort of; all three, fugeddabahtit. Or have you found a service for rural areas which works for you?
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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 1,908 • Replies: 11
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sat 10 May, 2003 09:31 am
Well, you get that in Germany as well.


May I add this quote from a German, teaching now in the USA, to line up some more differences between Europe and the USA:
Quote:
"It is well known that the US is the most heavily technologized society; if you count TVs, phones, microwaves, cellular phones, pagers, cars or personal computers per person, you'll find that the numbers are far higher than in Germany, or most every other country for that matter. Clearly, they are also world leaders in many technologies, such as military applications, space exploration, biotech, software and computer chips
...
This is not the full story however. I am constantly amazed about the poor quality and backwardedness of many technologies routinely employed in the US. Sometimes I think that while Germans tend to tolerate outrageous prices without complaint, Americans tolerate substandard quality. Here are some examples, I keep discovering more every day:

Cellular phones in the US have operated for a very long time using an ancient analog protocol, while pretty much all other countries in the world adopted digital standards several years earlier. To get complete nationwide coverage, it is still necessary to use analog in the US, and it's trivial to listen in on these cellular conversations since they are not scrambled in any way (there is a whole underground scene of eavesdroppers who exchange tapes of the juiciest conversations they were able to capture), and it's also easy to place cellular calls on someone else's bill.
The banking system is archaic. It appears as if banks are not electronically connected at all (even though they are). It is not possible to instruct your bank to pay your rent every month directly into the landlord's account (the usual method in Germany). Every month, you have to write out a check, send it physically to your landlord, who carries it physically to his bank, which sends it physically back to your bank in order to get the money. Banks tell you to keep your account number secret, but it is openly printed on every check, along with your name and address. Some banks now offer "bill paying services"; this only means that *they* will mail the check to your landlord instead. Another new system, heralded as a huge achievement, is "Direct Deposit" or "Automatic Payment". It allows to make regular payments such as salary, insurance or utility payments directly without checks. It does not work between private accounts and it takes about 2 months to set up. (In Germany, it takes no time to set up a plan like that; you instruct your bank and then it works.)
Many US banks now offer "Internet banking" and claim to be on the technological forefront. All you can do with these services is move money from your checking account into your savings account and back, check your balance and find out which checks have cleared.
Merchants in the US accept checks, which of course can be trivially abused; German merchants only accept secured checks.
You will actually see Americans write out checks at super market checkout counters, and many people set aside an afternoon every month for "balancing their checkbook" and "paying the bills", two activities that nobody has even heard of in Germany.
In Germany, checks are not used to pay bills. You simply instruct your bank to transfer the money into the payee's account on a regular basis, or give permission to the payee to suck the money out of your account.
US ATM cards work in German ATM machines while US ATM machines could not accept German cards until recently. However: the US ATM system is much more secure since the PIN is checked online with the issuing bank; German ATM cards encode the PIN on the card with a globally valid key so that offline operation of ATMs is possible.
Digital ISDN telephone lines have been available to every German household for some 5 years. In the US, service started much later, some local telephone companies still don't offer them, and it's generally poorly supported where available. Far from being a well-defined standard, ISDN in North America consists of a zoo of slightly incompatible protocol variations. The analog phone system still uses tone dialing which for a long time made it possible to dial for free from every public phone with a $2 phone dialer. Plans for such dialers were readily available on the internet.
Online services and network computers: "Bildschirmtext" in Germany and "Minitel" in France have been accessible by everyone for at least 15 years. Both use dial-up telephone connections to browse material on central servers and allow individuals to publish material on these servers. Bildschirmtext displays the pages on the TV (optionally on a PC) while Minitel uses a proprietary little terminal with keyboard, something that would be called "network computer" these days. Bildschirmtext was never a big success because of the high connection fees and the start up costs for the device; Minitel was a winner because the terminals were given away for free to everyone. Services of comparable quality and breadth have come into existence in the US only about 5 years ago. Videotext, a textual information service broadcast together with the TV signal, is common in Germany and all over Europe but does not exist in the US.
Videotext, a free text based information system (news, weather, stock prices, sport results, TV schedules) broadcast along with the TV signal, is common in Europe and doesn't exist in the US.
Comparison USA <> Germany
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fishin
 
  1  
Reply Sat 10 May, 2003 10:16 am
I think that authors points may be a few years old Walter. I have had my bank transfer my rent from my account to my landlords for years and pay some of my bills electronically as well. I know several people that pay all their bills electronically.

Tartarin - Have you looked into DirecWay??? They provide all 3 (Sat. DirecTV, DirecPC Internet access and XM Sat. Radio). I have no idea what the pricing is. I'd guess it's pretty steep.
http://www.direcpc.com/
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sat 10 May, 2003 10:23 am
It's one year old, fishin.

I know just a few older seniors (80+), who don't pay their bills electronically (common here since more than ten years) - and most do it like me: from the computer at home :wink:
0 Replies
 
Tartarin
 
  1  
Reply Sat 10 May, 2003 10:46 am
Right on, Walter!! I lived in rural Spain for over twenty years and kept thinking, Wow, when I get back to the States, everything is going to seem so EFFICIENT and MODERN! I was wrong. Because I was astounded at the inefficiency and backwardness and tended to mouth off about it, I was asked by a regional US Postmaster to give a seminar in How to run the local PO more efficiently (I'm not kidding!) and was invited to join a management consultancy (I'm not kidding!). I was later hired by a state agency to work on their info system. I did so but only part time because actually I'm an ... artist... who mostly ran a little farm in rural Spain. So yes, we are behind the times here if a dumkopf like me can outguess the system. One of the reasons I posted this query is to see if anyone agrees with me that our lack of good infotech may be quite deliberate.

Fishin' -- Yes, thanks. I know DirecWay -- In fact am on Direct TV. They are not well thought of, at least in this area. Also they LIMIT which stations/broadcasts you can see (actually, the limiting is done by the large corporations who want to sell only "packages'). They also have XM, the Fox of satellite radio; I want Sirius, which, though not perfect, has better coverage and I'll be getting their new portable system when it comes out in June or so. But one of the problems is getting precisely what you want integrated into one system. You can get HBO, but only if you subscribe to.... etc. etc. My DirectTV provider is giving me what I wanted, but under the table. I was so disgusted with the cr*p I was getting that I called them to disconnect. At that point I was asked to hold for their (I'm not kidding) "loyalty coordinator"!! I spoke with her candidly about why I was cutting service, and it was she who offered me what I now have: no networks, no channels with commercials, only the major movie channels (HBO, MAX etc.)

PS -- They're ahead of us in Canada, too. I haven't checked lately on Mexico, but when I last checked (maybe three years ago) their internet services matched and exceeded ours. They also have spectacular weather satellite service which JUST covers my border area and is very useful when it comes to anticipating dangerous weather systems. And that's another whole story, NOAA...

I pay my bills electronically. Exception: Verizon. Verizon has a really stunningly bad system in which they regularly change passwords and then "forget" to tell you. I went back to check and stamp.

Ah, the land of the free, the home of the conned.
0 Replies
 
New Haven
 
  1  
Reply Sat 10 May, 2003 11:01 am
We're so technological, 50% of the poplulation is over weight.

More technology>less work>less sweat> more FAT!
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sat 10 May, 2003 11:02 am
Not to be misunderstood:

paying electronically means for me/us: the bill is paid at the same moment from my (local) bank account (not Visa or similar!) - either at the cashier or via my computer.
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New Haven
 
  1  
Reply Sat 10 May, 2003 11:10 am
Do you have trouble with hackers gaining access to your bank account?
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sat 10 May, 2003 11:26 am
Not at all, this is impossible due to treble security checks/pin numbers. (keeping my fingers crossed, but this is really unknown until today)
0 Replies
 
Tartarin
 
  1  
Reply Sat 10 May, 2003 02:23 pm
Walter -- I have a credit card number registered with online merchants and with monthly bills I pay online. So far, so good... But, because the banks are not as secure here, I don't give access to my account to anyone. (My sister did, and a cartel in Florida leaked I believe it was $5,000 from her brokerage account.) I had a problem with PayPal, the transfer agent used by many on EBay, and simply made it known that I wouldn't by from someone who used PayPal.

I watched that nicely-done movie the other night about Frank Abagnale, the guy who ripped off countless companies and people with forged checks -- a lesson we all could use about bank routing numbers and the ease with which accounts can be plundered.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sat 10 May, 2003 03:10 pm
Well, let me explain, how it works here:

you go to your bank's website, there to "my bank account".
You have to note your account number and a five cypher secret number (all in 128-Bit SSL/Server Gated Cryptography).
To transfer money, you have to use additionally another number ('TAN') from a list, which is owned (and known) exclusively by you.


However, before you can all this, it must be activated by your bank.
0 Replies
 
Tartarin
 
  1  
Reply Sat 10 May, 2003 03:26 pm
I don't know the bank system here, Walter, but I'm wary of it!
0 Replies
 
 

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