Belgacom needs to get its act together, or their digital TV will fail miserably.
Digital TV has arrived in Flanders, offered by your favourite ex-monopolistic telco. Sadly, it's a sorry mess.
For one thing, finding out how much it is going to cost you* to have digital TV on your screen is not as simple as surfing to a webpage. First you need a Belgacom ADSL connection. Price: 40 euro/month. You may get it installed for free if you sign up for 12 months, and maybe even get a modem for free if you sign up for 18 months.
Not immediately clear is if the modem you freely receive signing up for a longer duration is the modem NEEDED for Belgacom TV. One assumes you need a modem/router that reserves dedicated bandwitdh needed for the TV channel.
One hopes the bandwith required for TV content does not count as your ip bandwitdh, cos everything over your monthly quota is 1 euro/gigabyte. A few movies at MPEG-2 compression rates and you're over that, paying 5 euro a movie in bandwith costs alone. Belgacom also anticipates the question of people already having an ADSL connection: "Will watching TV degrade with my download speed?" Sadly, clicking that very link brings you not to the answer, but a general troubleshooting page. If you persist, you may find out that you'll need close to 90% of your adsl bandwidth to watch TV.
Say you manage to get hold of your Philips modem-router, the next part is renting a decoder with remote: 6 euro/month. From the manual, we glean that the decoder has following interfaces: two RJ45 (one needed to connect to the router), one (!) scart, two mini-din interfaces, two USB, one coax, what looks like audio out, one phonelike connector, and bluetooth or IR or some other wireless connection. Our guess is the default model has only capacity for a single tuner, so no taping and watching another channel. Clearly the 2nd RJ45 is not intended to daisy chain another decoder, at least for the moment, as you'll need one ADSL connection for each TV.
Having paid for the bandwidth AND decoder, there still is, in the immortal words of Holland's finest, "Geen bal op de TV" (f*ck-all on TV). How much is actual content gonna set you back?
Well, you get 35 channels for free funtil september 30th, and will pay an undetermined amount after that. If you signed up for a 12 or 18month ADSL contract, Belgacom will have you by your short hairs. Mind you, almost 40% of those channels are crappy French channels, with important Dutch or English channels missing.
Video on demand will set you back 2 to 6 euro for a movie, 8 euro fo a single football match. Prices for some football channels are also available:
All Foot : 25 EUR / month
Top Foot : 15 EUR / month
ViaCalcio: 15 EUR / month
Final Conclusion: wait for Belgacom to get their sh*t together before you get involved in this.
*: Navigation is cookie-based, so nu url's, you haver to surf and grope. Way to Go, Belgacom!
It's the JOOOOS.
Lebanon's pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud is disputing claims that Syria is behind recent assassinations in his country, and says investigators should focus on Islamic fundamentalists or Israel.
It must be those zionists! Cos. Uh. Baby Assad would NEVER dare pulling a stunt like this...
A car bomb has killed an anti-Syrian politician in Beirut, a day after opposition leader Saad Hariri's camp won Lebanon's parliamentary elections.
George Hawi, former secretary general of the Lebanese Communist Party, died instantly in Tuesday's blast, police said. It was the second slaying of an anti-Syrian figure this month.
"comparisons ... as tired as they're grotesque"
One measure of a civilized society is that words mean something: "Soviet" and "Nazi" and "Pol Pot" cannot equate to Guantanamo unless you've become utterly unmoored from reality. Spot the odd one out: 1) mass starvation; 2) gas chambers; 3) mountains of skulls; 4) lousy infidel pop music turned up to full volume. One of these is not the same as the others, and Durbin doesn't have the excuse that he's some airhead celeb or an Ivy League professor. He's the second-ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Don't they have an insanity clause? - Mark Steyn
"het grafdansen gaat gewoon door"
De mallotige ex-minister van Integratie Hilbrand Nawijn presenteert zich maandag in, hoe haal je het in je achterlijke hoofd, het voormalige Palazzo van Fortuyn samen met Vlaanderen’s rechterflank Filip Dewinter in een denktank, de Prins Willem van Oranje-stichting. Hoewel denktank? Deze twee opportunisten? Ik denk, om met Mat Herben te spreken, dat Pim dit niet echt gewild zou hebben. Die liet zijn brein nog wel eens ronddraaien. De politieke tuinkabouters Nawijn en De Winter moet je eigenlijk met een hengeltje in De Efteling zetten. - De Chileen
"Without burial at a crossroads with a stake through their heart these people will never die."
Blair has a chance offered to no British leader since the post-war settlement. He can lead Europe to a new trading framework and the limited political institutions needed to police it. British diplomacy is thrilling to the chase. But can the prime minister hack it? In the past, Blair has done war but not diplomacy. Neither in Washington nor in Brussels (let alone in Paris) has he shown real statesmanship. He flies a lot, smiles a lot and then gets clobbered. In Europe he has failed to outmanoeuvre even such relics of the old politics as Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schröder. He cannot bomb them or send in the Royal Marines. He cannot turn to his friend George W Bush for help. Now he is on his own. He must be a diplomat in spite of himself. - Simon Jenkins
"Dat is toch niet normaal."
Volgend jaar start de Ronde van Italië, de wielerwedstrijd, in Wallonië. De proloog wordt niet in Luik verreden, maar in het fantastische Seraing. Is dat het beeld dat je in de wereld wilt tonen van Wallonië? Daarna gaat het naar Perwez. Ooit al van gehoord? Dat dorpje is de thuisbasis van CDH-minister André Antoine. En dan is er natuurlijk ook de onvermijdelijke etappe Bergen-Charleroi, van de stad van Di Rupo naar die van Van Cauwenberghe. U ziet hoe een mooi economisch project voor Wallonië gebruikt wordt voor andere doeleinden. - Alain Destexhe
La-di-da, or make that samizdata:
[M]aybe you just plunged your hand generously into your own pocket, scooped out a chunk of change and handed it over with the (understandably) sincere intentions of doing just a little to help ease the plight of the unfortunate victims of [the tsunami] catastrophe.
If you did any of those things, well, you have certainly provided relief to some quarters:
Oxfam has had to pay £550,000 in customs duty to the Sri Lankan government for importing 25 four-wheel-drive vehicles to help victims of the tsunami, The Daily Telegraph has learned.The sum was levied by customs in Colombo which have refused to grant tax exemptions to non-governmental organisations working to repair damage caused by the giant Boxing Day wave.
The Indian-made Mahindra vehicles, essential to negotiate damaged roads and rough tracks, remained stuck in port at Colombo for almost a month as officials completed the small mountain of paperwork required to release them. Customs charged £2,750 "demurrage" for every day they stood idle.
So there we have it, good people. Kindly Westerners care more about the sodden, bedraggled, impoverished masses of Sri Lanka than their own government which has made a priority of cutting off its own pound (or several hundred thousands of pounds) of flesh first. And this is only the stuff that is being reported.
When God gave people brains, Geert Bourgeois was last in line.
Not in the line of people actually waiting for a brain to be handed out, mind you. No, Geert was waiting in another line: that of vaguely-Honecker looking effete and totally ineffectual despots queueing for heavy-rimmed spectacles to, alas, not much effect, as witnessed by our graphical element:
top: the real thing - bottom: a pale shadow.
The NVA singalong: sing with Staatsratsvorsitzender Geert:
De vaandels hoog!
De kiezers die het blok
De kiezers die het blok
De ether vrij!
En al het klootjesvolk
En al het klootjesvolk