Friday, April 29, 2005


Adventures in Sustaining Technology

A technology does not have to be "disruptive" to destroy major players in its field.

For example, my Toyota Camry is definitely a better mousetrap. (Note that when GM reported losing over US$1 billion the other day, while most of the mainstream press parroted GMs whining about health care costs and pension obligations, the Financial Times observed, "Rotten cars, not high costs, are driving GM to ruin.")

Another favorite of mine: 3M's NexCare waterproof bandages. They're a complete rethinking of the Band-Aid concept. I don't think I'll willingly buy another Band-Aid again. (J&J'd better do more than put a Band-Aid on their product line if they want to stay in this game.)

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Wednesday, April 27, 2005


Kudos to Apple's Service Organization!

On my last road trip my Mac Powerbook G4's CD drive gave up. This was particularly distressing, as my travels included a memorable afternoon with Howard a-f*king-mazing harmonica player Levy, who plied me with his latest CDs, for which I had no player.

I called Applecare; their shipping box was waiting for my return. As soon as I got home for a few days, I sent my Powerbook in. That was Monday. Today is Wednesday, and it's baaaack! Good as new. (Well, almost; 'least the CD drive works!)

I also owe a debt of thanks to my friend Sean McCue, another excellent musician, who introduced me to Carbon Copy Cloner, a painless backup system for the Mac, which let me run on my Mac Mini and my Firelite drive for the two days my Powerbook was visiting Memphis. (Note: Sean now recommends Deja Vu, another Mac backup system, which I will implement asap.)

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Tuesday, April 26, 2005


Martin shakes up FCC "five or six levels deep"

Doug Mohoney writes in VON Magazine's weekly e-newsletter:
Newly appointed Federal Communications Chairman (FCC) Chairman Kevin Martin is conducting a significant housecleaning at the agency, according to industry sources from the wireless and wireline worlds. "He's going five or six levels deep," said one gentleman, noting that in recent years most former chairmen had only brought in new staff "one or two levels" from the top. Other sources confirmed the shakeup at the agency.

"It's unusual," said another. "When [Former FCC Chairman] Powell came in, he moved around a minimum number of positions." It is traditional for an incoming Chairman to bring in his own upper staff and advisors and to sometimes move around position heads, but the sources indicated the personnel shakeup at the FCC goes far beyond what has taken place in recent history. To outside observers, it is not clear yet what type of personnel are being brought in to fill in positions or how the new personnel will affect current and future decision-making at the agency.
I wonder if he's cleaning house to help technology advance. You think?

Monday, April 25, 2005


What's wrong with this picture?

You know the "puzzle" pictures where the cow has three legs and the shadow of the tree falls towards the sun.

Today's version: TV makes you smarter and email makes you dumber. WTF?!?

Thursday, April 14, 2005


Community policing, not.

As I raptly watched the fiber being pulled down my street, one of the cops there to direct traffic brusquely told me, "Move along. We're working here." Huh? I was out of everybody's way. I had waited to cross the street for a momentary halt in the cable pullery. I was well off the street on town park land. I reminded him that I was a citizen, a taxpayer, that was my house right there, and that he worked for me.

Imagine, I go all over the world extolling FTTH, then when the fiber actually comes down my street, some self-important bully with a badge objects when I watch. The nerve!

Even if I weren't a fiber fanatic, as a citizen I should be able to watch what goes on in my neighborhood from a reasonable distance.

Later, another cop gave me crap for standing in my next-door neighbor's driveway; I gave him a look that said, "so arrest me for trespassing," and he backed off. I am going to have to talk to our elected town officials about our police problem.


The day fiber came to my neighborhood!

Amazing what you can see by looking! Yesterday out my window a woman in the bucket of a bucket truck was pulling a black cable about the diameter of a finger. I rushed outside to watch. The bucket was raised to the bottom tier of the wires that ran down my street. The truck drove along at a fast walk, pulling the cable. It took her (and her driver) just a few minutes to pull maybe 200 hundred meters over a dozen poles and through half a dozen trees.

"Is that fiber?" I asked. "Yes," she said. "Is this the Verizon FIOS project?" Yes. I watched in fascination.

When the truck disappeared around the corner, I walked down to the other end of the pull; the workers there showed me the cable, a 144-fiber Sumitomo cable marked 18,858 feet, 18,860 feet, 18,862 feet. They said it would terminate at a box at the corner of Berge and Orchard. They didn't know much about the overall network architecture. They said the cable would carry phone service, Internet and TV. "TV will come later." They thought service would begin in a few months. "Sign me up!" I said.

Now the bucket truck was coming back the other way. The woman in the bucket was running a machine with a rotating thing inside that lashed the new cable to an old one with metal piano-wire-like stuff. Every time she'd come to a pole or a bump in the cable, she'd take the lasher off, lash it by hand and set up the lasher on the other side. It was skilled, busy work; she was good at it and fast too.

Four cops were standing around, assigned to direct traffic around the project. Then there was the bucket truck driver and me. Six guys standing around, one woman working her butt off. I had to laugh.

An hour later the installation crew and the cops were gone, and I was back at work. The fiber was on the poles.

Verizon's FIOS is likely to be a mixed blessing. Reportedly FIOS will start at 2 megabits per second, pretty good, maybe equivalent to Cablevision's speed, but probably not a huge improvement. On the one hand I am happy that Verizon will one-up Continental Cablevision, a company that recently blocked me from using the email provider of my choice. On the other hand, I am leery that once FIOS is established, Verizon will abandon its common carrier heritage, and start tying verticalized services to its infrastructure, and start blocking ports to prevent me from using the VOIP carrier and email provider I want. (The Supreme Court's Brand X decision will be a critical determiner here!) Also, when the next increment in speed comes due, Verizon's passive optical network (PON) architecture will fall behind; it will not be easy to upgrade.

The history of the American West is divided into two eras, Before the Wire and after. Barbed wire ended the era of the free range. After the Wire everything changed; ranches and roads appeared. grazing rights and ownership disputes sprang up. But the very day after they unrolled a strand and stapled it to a few fence posts, the change mustn't have seemed all that profound. I wonder if yesterday wasn't that kind of day.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005


The Internet Dividend

Micah Sifry got much of what I tried to say in my opening remarks. However, let the record show that the phrase, "Internet Dividend" was an ad lib -- I wrote down about 90% of the words I used; that phrase wasn't there. It just slipped out when I was talking about the trillion dollar a year global tel-economy. Now that I've stumbled upon it, I think maybe its a keeper.


More on Vint Cerf's speech at F2C: Freedom to Connect

Alex Goldman writing for ISP Planet says

Vint Cerf's Wednesday evening speech at the Freedom to Connect dinner concerned where the Internet should go in the future. Having designed TCP/IP, the protocol that ties it all together, he is the person to ask about the Internet's future.

"My initial job was getting IP on everything," Cerf said. That's been done by now. IP is on every device from the smallest handheld to the largest supercomputer.

"Now we need IP under everything," he added. By this he meant . . .
continue reading here.


More perspectives on F2C: Freedom to Connect

Susan Crawford posted her not immediately digestible remarks at F2C here; I sure didn't get it at first hearing, but as F2C organizer I was probably the worst listener in the room. A couple more readings and I might have something to say about them. Dan Gillmor seems deep in thought on her talk too.

Sara Wedeman gives her most excellent Philadelphia citizen's perspective to the Philadelphia Wireless story here.

Steve Smith gives his deeply considered F2C impressions here.

Tim Denton gives his notes on Vint Cerf's masterful after dinner speech (one of the few F2C events we did not webcast), here. Tim asks others to share their notes; I second that.

Finally Judith Meskill commented waaaay back in February,
David hosts the best gatherings of the greatest minds (often with bodies and souls in tow) particularly in this area of the future of connectivity . . . David Isenberg’s driving passion to connect people on connectivity issues continues to manifest the most stunning array of creativity inspiring gatherings! Our ability to continue our adventures in social software and social networking relies on our ability to connect.
I usually notice ego stroking like this much sooner . . .

Friday, April 01, 2005


F2C: Freedom to Connect: Read all about it!

Fast Company's Heath Row has done an Amazing. Job. of "confblogging" F2C. Here's his F2C index page. Heath Row is the King of Conference Blogging. The boy does goooood work.

David Weinberger blogged F2C here, here, here, here, here, here and here -- without testing all these links I've probably missed a couple. This post is his best. (Like me, David Weinberger suffers from adult partial attention order.)

Martin Geddes hasn't written squat about F2C, but read his stuff anyway.

Here's a brilliant picture of John Perry Barlow at F2C by Reverend AKMA. Clearly AKMA has been taking too many psychedelic drugs (or praying too fervently). In another post, AKMA backhandedly (but politely) reminds me that I promised him a Keynote, but then put him on a panel. I admit it, I threw him a major curveball, but I'm from the school of it-is-better-to-ask-forgiveness-later-than-permission-beforehand, and who better to ask forgiveness of than a Blogger Of The Cloth?

There's LOTS and LOTS more HERE, thanks to Technorati tags.

Oh, yeah, Vint Cerf gave the best speech I've ever heard him give. Vint and Oprah in 2008!

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