Wednesday, August 31, 2005


Leadership in time of disaster

What were the words to, "My Pet Goat" again?

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Quote of Note: Captain Rob Callahan

“Imagine your worst nightmare and quadruple that times 100."

Slidell, Louisiana, police captain Rob Callahan on the results of Hurricane Katrina. [link]

My hat is off to the Wikipedians covering this disaster; awesome job!

More great coverage [breaking news] from the New Orleans Times Picayune.

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Sunday, August 28, 2005


Classics in my book

There are some musical works that I keep coming back to. Time and again, I get this deep, profound visceral appreciation when I hear them. I say to myself, "It is so good to hear you, my old friend."

Here are a few of this summer's re-discoveries:

1) Waltz of the Whippoorwill by Joe Weed and friends (including David Grisman and Todd Phillips). Each of 11 bird songs is taken as a theme and developed. Surprising every time, in its modest way. If you don't have this in your collection, do yourself a favor.

2) "Dark Star," from Live Dead (The Grateful Dead). Sam Whitmore re-plays this magical piece on Closet Deadhead #50. He calls it, "The most seminal piece of Grateful Dead music there is," and I tend to agree. Close behind, though, is Anthem of the Sun, and the second piece of CDH #50 is related: it is an amazing live performance, much cleaned up and digitally enhanced, of "Caution: Don't Stop on the Tracks" featuring Pigpen's harp and early, exploratory proto-Jerry guitar.

3) The six Bach Cello Suites, played by Savely Schuster, engineered and produced by my good friend Dick Campbell; a deeply emotional reading matched by chewy, rich production. Makes Yo-Yo Ma's attempt at this music sound machine-like in comparison.

4) Perpetual Motion by Bela Fleck. Musical polymath Edgar Meyer pushes newgrass banjo master Fleck to new heights. Fleck takes on some amazingly difficult classical pieces, accompanied by other world masters of the violin, guitar, cello, etc. The result has moments that take my breath away, even after twenty-some listenings.

There are other great works of this caliber, to be sure, but these are the four highlights of this summer's listening so far.

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Saturday, August 27, 2005


Turn the other cheek

"We want to sell gasoline and heating fuel directly to poor communities in the United States,"
Hugo Chavez, democratically elected president of Venezuela, in response to assassination threat by extremist fundamentalist theocrat. Link.

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Friday, August 26, 2005


Not-Best is OK: Supreme Court in Brand X

A comment by Frank (not sure which Frank) [Updata: Frank Muto, Co-founder of the Washington Bureau for ISP Advocacy] on a previous post on the Brand X decision says,
Show me where in the [Supreme Court] opinion, they gave the FCC any authority above and beyond the scope of the Telco Act?
We can argue about whether, "above and beyond" is the best operative phrase, but the decision says that a lower court must defer to a federal agency's interpretation of law, "even if it differs from what the court believes to be the best interpretation," as long as the law leaves some, "room for agency discretion."

To me, this means that if the law says that, "One is a bun and two is a shoe," this non-best interpretation part of the Brand X Decision means that an agency can say that since it is possible to tie a bun to your foot with shoelaces, it can be a shoe.

The Telecom Act defines:
(41) INFORMATION SERVICE- The term `information service'
means the offering of a capability for generating, acquiring,
storing, transforming, processing, retrieving, utilizing, or
making available information via telecommunications, and
includes electronic publishing, but does not include any use of
any such capability for the management, control, or operation
of a telecommunications system or the management of a
telecommunications service.

`telecommunications service' means the offering of
telecommunications for a fee directly to the public, or to such
classes of users as to be effectively available directly to the
public, regardless of the facilities used.'.

To me, the best interpretation would have cable modem service fitting the definition of "Telecommunications Services," such a definition would take cognizance of the twin facts that (a) cable modems are dumb connections offered for a fee directly to the public, and (b) the capability for generating, acquiring, storing, transforming, processing, retrieving, utilizing, or making available information" is done in intelligent devices at the edge of the network that are connected by a dumb telecommunications service "regardless of facilities used."

Brand X allows the FCC to adopt a non-best interpretation of the law. This ipso facto lets them call cable model service what they want to call it because the law does have "room for agency discretion."

Myself, if there were clearly a best interpretation, as there is in this case, I would want to hold that the agency to that best interpretation. For years, the Supreme Court has been in the business of deciding the best interpretation of the law. Now, it seems, they're giving it up.

Is this going above and beyond the Telecom Act of 1996? Dunno. But I don't think it is best; it is not even very good.

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer; I assume that legal documents like Supreme Court decisions have understandable meaning anyway.

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Thursday, August 25, 2005


Comcast: Predatory Pricing or Good Ol' Competition?

In Utah, if you live in a UTOPIA (muni FTTH) city, you can get 10 megabit symmetrical Internet service for $40 a month. Or you can get Comcast Internet service for $29.95. If you don't live in a UTOPIA city, Comcast Internet costs $45.95 a month. One thing is sure; Comcast can afford to lose money longer than UTOPIA. Link. Linky thanks to Jim Baller.

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Two cool press releases

Most PR spam is just as detestable as the other kind. I don't think I've ever blogged a press release before now. But now two press releases so cool as to renew my skeptical belief in intelligent synchronicity have crossed my screen within a few minutes of each other.

The first announces that Global IP Sound is behind Google Talk! Of course. Global IP Sound's technology is behind Skype and just about every other great VOIP implementation. GIPS got the specifics of doing voice over the Internet right, that is, as yet another application on an unmanaged, end-to-end, stupid network. Congrats again to Gary Hermansen and (former Bell Labs colleague) Bas Kleijn!!! I've written about Global IP Sound before. Dan Gillmor also wrote it up in the Mercury News in 2004 -- (article not found :-( but see here).

The second announces, Car PC Hacks from O'Reilly. Way cool.
Clever, detailed hacks include:
-Install a PC or Mac computer that will power on and off just like the car stereo--and won't drain the car battery
-Move an entire audio collection to the car and navigate playlists with a remote control or touch screen
-Install a PC-based in-car navigation system that is cheaper, faster, and more usable than the factory-supplied setup in new cars
-Plug into the car's built-in computer and find out what the "check engine light" is really saying
-Enjoy wireless networking and accessing the Internet from the car
-Listen to email, news, and RSS feeds while driving
-Run a TiVo-like radio broadcast recorder so favorite shows are always ready and waiting
-Use a game console as a small, quiet, and affordable in-car computer (and even offering one to every passenger!)
I've asked for a review copy. Don't tell Tim, but if O'Reilly doesn't send me one, I think I'll actually buy this book.

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Broadband Leadership: it's up to the FCC now

Tim Wu points out that the Brand X decision puts the broadband leadership ball squarely in the FCC's court. He says,
The upshot of [the Brand X] decision is that the [Supreme C]ourt has given the FCC the authority, whether or not it was what Congress intended, to try to get the United States out of its embarrassing broadband slump. Whether the FCC manages to succeed is another question altogether.
Really. Now both cable and DSL are deregulated, as is fiber to the home. Network unbundling rules, which required the ILECs to cooperate with competitors (hence were unworkable or required jackboot enforcement), have been weakened or eliminated. The incumbents have a much less uncertain investment climate. What more does the FCC want? (Or the telcos and cablecos, for that matter?) It should be full speed ahead.
I am willing to be convinced by the data. Tom Sugrue (T-mobile's VP Govt Affairs) puts two important stakes in the ground when he says,
“If we come back here [to Aspen] next summer and the auction [of the advanced wireless services spectrum] has taken place, and there’s a DTV transition hard date, I’ll give [the Bush Administration] an A-plus."

I'd add at least one more big thing: If the 2006 ITU statistics show that U.S. broadband penetration has started to climb, that is, if the U.S. ranks above 16th.

Then I'd like to see non-discriminatory network access and usage codified as law and regulation -- an innovator's bill of rights.

BIG UPDATE: Dave Burstein's DSL Prime today (8/25) says that broadband adds for 2005Q2 are down 33%. Meanwhile, European BB growth is accelerating. Martin and Gallagher needs to pedal harder to meet Bushco2007!

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The Broadband Debate: A User's Guide

The more I read Tim Wu, the more I like what I read. I think my friends at the Progress and Freedom Foundation, the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Cato Institute might even agree! For example, in the abstract of his article, "The Broadband Debate: A User's Guide," he writes:
For simplicity sakes I divide the argument to a debate between the openists and the deregulationists . . . I fault the openists for being too prone to favor regulation without making clear the connection between ends and means. For example, too few openists have asked the degree to which the structural open access remedies pushed by independent service providers actually promote the openists' vision. Meanwhile, I fault the deregulationists two reasons. First, the deregulationists have overlooked the fact that limiting government, as they desire, sometimes requires government action. Remedies like network neutrality, for reasons I suggest, may be as important for control of government as it is of industry. I also fault the deregulationists for an exaggerated faith in industry decision-making . . . This is a particularly serious problem given an industry with a recent track record of terrible judgment and even outright fraud.
Deregulations and openists, while divided along many lines, share a common faith in innovation as the basis of economic growth. Both sides, in short, worship Joseph Schumpeter and his ideas of competitive, capitalistic innovation . . . I argue that neither deregulationists or openists should have reason to oppose Network Neutrality rules that create rights in users to use the applications or equipment of their choice.
Very smart stuff!

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Wednesday, August 24, 2005


Quote of Note: Michael Gallagher

“We have a national policy -- the President said it, so it is policy."

Michael Gallagher, Head of NTIA, on the Bush "Universal affordable
broadband for everybody by 2007" policy. Link.

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What I did on my summer vacation

(I was part of the adult supervision.)

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Tuesday, August 23, 2005


Delightfully dyspeptic?

I've been called a lot of things, but this one is, uh, hard to stomach(?)

Ray Gifford wrote in the Progress and Freedom Foundation blog (Aug 8 -- how I miss this?):
Chairman Martin is getting some over-the-top negative reviews on his DSL order and its supposed hedging on the 'net neutrality' principles. "Open Internet" advocates like Susan Crawford, the delightfully dyspeptic David S. Isenberg and Joho the blog have a cautiously pessimistic take on the 'net neutrality' principles the Chairman announced.
At least I'm in good company.

Gifford and I are in violent agreement on this:
general [network neutrality] principles without actual application of those principles to a concrete situation are of little use.
and this:
Before we invite any regulator into specifying what broadband providers can offer to their customers, we had better be very sure before-the-fact of the harm we are trying to prevent.
But Gifford says
To date, we have little evidence of such harm, and the specific instances of port-blocking have been remedied.
This is hogwash. Port 25 blocking is rampant, and often coupled with crippled SMTP services from the originating ISP. Other ports are blocked as well, and some providers, e.g., Clearwire, which Gifford cites but ignores, still block third party voip applications. And other service providers reportedly are blocking other ports. The harm is demonstrably there.

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Saturday, August 20, 2005


Foo Camp, Bar Camp, Do Camp -- an Earth Day for Geeks

Tim O'Reilly hosts a Friends of O'Reilly (FOO) Camp . . . I think this is its third year. It's going on, now. David Weinberger seems to be having a great time there! I wasn't invited, so (invoking Groucho's ghost) it MUST be a GREAT event :-).

Actually, Tim O gives this talk where he asks the coolest geeks he knows, "Who's the coolest geeks you know?" Then he asks those people, "Who's the coolest geeks you know?" And eventually, he comes up with what he calls, "The Alpha Geeks." It seems to me that these are the people who get invited to FOO. It seems a bit . . . uh . . . clever for Tim to position himself at the head of the Coolerati, but he does good and does well doing it. There have been worse business models, much, much worse.

(On the other hand, people's opinion of whether or not you're cool might only be tangentially related to the weight or originality of their work.)

Here's the big rub: not everybody is invited. A bunch of folks, including my friend Ross Mayfield, and others I know less well, have started Bar Camp for "the rest of us." Excellent. Even Tim O likes the idea.

Nivi says,
Why don't we create a model to propagate FooCamp throughout the world so that their are simultaneous Foo/BarCamps worldwide? In Boston, Palo Alto, Tehran, Moscow, Bombay, and Baghdad. He suggests we call it Do Camp!
Nivi's suggestion is the coolest suggestion I've heard! I'm in!

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Friday, August 19, 2005


Faith-based election results

Eighteen far-fetched things you'd have to believe to have faith that Bushco actually won the 2004 election, a hard-nosed statistical study. Thanks, Jock!

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Thursday, August 18, 2005


Breaking News: CBC Reporter Abandoned in War Zone

Sue Braiden risks her CBC job to write about her colleague Adrienne Arsenault -- she asks us to blog this and, if we're Canadian, to contact our Members of Parliament.

Apparently Arsenault was covering the Gaza situation yesterday while a labor dispute between CBC and its reporters raged back home. She filed this report (server trouble? See Google Cache of story here) only to find her credit card cancelled and her cell phone shut off . . . in a war zone. Apparently nobody from the CBC even bothered to check on her safety.

Back here in the relative safety of North America, Sue Braiden writes:
This not only flies in the face of everything I've believed about the basic decency of Canadians, but makes me sick to my stomach when I think about being part of this particular media machine.
Memo to CBC: If you think your labor problems are big today, wait until mainstram media loses its last shreds of credibility with the public, thanks to actions like this.


The Four 'Net Freedoms in Chairman Powell's Own Words

When I wrote this recent blog posting, I had to search to find a statement of the Four Internet Freedoms in former FCC Chairman Powell's own words. I found it in this speech (.pdf) delivered to the Silicon Flatirons Symposium on The Digital Broadband Migration, February 8, 2004.

Here's the relevant part of that speech, verbatim, unedited.

Freedom to Access Content. First, consumers should have access to their choice of legal content. Consumers have come to expect to be able to go where they want on high-speed connections, and those who have migrated from dial-up would presumably object to paying a premium for broadband if certain content were blocked. Thus, I challenge all facets of the industry to commit to allowing consumers to reach the content of their choice. I recognize that network operators have a legitimate need to manage their networks and ensure a quality experience, thus reasonable limits sometimes must be placed in service contracts. Such restraints, however, should be clearly spelled out and should be as minimal as necessary.

Freedom to Use Applications. Second, consumers should be able to run applications of their choice. As with access to content, consumers have come to expect that they can generally run whatever applications they want. Again, such applications are critical to continuing the digital broadband migration because they can drive the demand that fuels deployment. Applications developers must remain confident that their products will continue to work without interference from other companies. No one can know for sure which “killer” applications will emerge to drive deployment of the next generation high-speed technologies. Thus, I challenge all facets of the industry to let the market work and allow consumers to run applications unless they exceed service plan limitations or harm the provider’s network.

Freedom to Attach Personal Devices. Third, consumers should be permitted to attach any devices they choose to the connection in their homes. Because devices give consumers more choice, value and personalization with respect to how they use their high-speed connections, they are critical to the future of broadband. Thus, I challenge all facets of the industry to permit consumers to attach any devices they choose to their broadband connection, so long as the devices operate within service plan limitations and do not harm the provider’s network or enable theft of service.

Freedom to Obtain Service Plan Information. Fourth, consumers should receive meaningful information regarding their service plans. Simply put, such information is necessary to ensure that the market is working. Providers have every right to offer a variety of service tiers with varying bandwidth and feature options. Consumers need to know about these choices as well as whether and how their service plans protect them against spam, spyware and other potential invasions of privacy.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2005


TRACS Report, no relation to TRAC

A press release about The TRACS Report crossed my screen just now. It said, in part
The TRACS Report can best be described as a combination of Consumer Reports and J.D. Powers . . .
I've been TRACking TRAC, the Telecommunications Research and Action Center, which has been exposed by New Networks Institute and others as an astroturf affiliate of Issue Dynamics, a Washington, DC, lobbying and PR firm specializing in orchestrating pseudo-grassroots campaigns.

I was mightily curious whether The TRACS Report was a TRAC initiative, so I called the number and spoke to Craig O'Neil, the Carrier Relations Director of The TRACS Report. From our conversation, it seems that The TRACS Report is what it appears to be, and there is no relation to TRAC. The TRACS Report folks seem to be making an honest attempt to do market research on carrier performance -- something we all need -- see, for example, their website Clearly they are just getting started, and they have a long way to go -- see for example, their Massachusetts carrier survey.

The one thing I find a bit . . . unusual . . . is that this market research firm didn't even do enough market research to figure out that their name could be confused with another established telecom organization of dubious reputation.

Will they change their name before their brand equity gets tangled up in the TRAC legacy? If they don't, what will that tell their customers about their market research acumen?

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Monday, August 15, 2005



Item 10 here says:
France Telecom will auction 44 WiMAX licenses in October, 2006. Each region will be issued two licenses to ensure enough competition.

Don't people realize that "unlicensed," not the prefix "Wi" was the key success factor of Wi-Fi?

Whenever people ask me, "What do I think about WiMAX?" I begin by saying that WiMax comes in two flavors, licensed and unlicensed . . .

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Friday, August 12, 2005


The incredible shrinking Bell Labs

A rumor from a reliable source, a former Bell Labs colleague, says that Laboratory 1127, the birthplace of unix and the former home of Thompson, Ritchie, Kernighan, Korn and company, will be re-organized out of existence. Sad, but hardly unexpected.

Updata indicates that Korn was in 1126 (me, I can't even remember my last org number)

Even more updata: Check out the list of distinguished 1127 alums! Thanks, Steve!

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Quote of Note: Antonin Scalia

. . . it would be odd to say that a car dealer is in the business of selling steel or carpets because the cars he sells include both steel frames and carpeting. Nor does the water company sell hydrogen, nor the pet store water (though dogs and cats are largely water at the molecular level). But what is sometimes true is not, as the Court seems to assume, always true. There are instances in which it is ridiculous to deny that one part of a joint offering is being offered merely because it is not offered on a " 'stand-alone' " basis.

If, for example, I call up a pizzeria and ask whether they offer delivery, both common sense and common "usage," would prevent them from answering: "No, we do not offer delivery--but if you order a pizza from us, we'll bake it for you and then bring it to your house." The logical response to this would be something on the order of, "so, you do offer delivery." But our pizza-man may continue to deny the obvious and explain, paraphrasing the FCC and the Court: "No, even though we bring the pizza to your house, we are not actually 'offering' you delivery, because the delivery that we provide to our end users is 'part and parcel' of our pizzeria-pizza-at-home service and is 'integral to its other capabilities.' " Any reasonable customer would conclude at that point that his interlocutor was either crazy or following some too-clever-by-half legal advice.

In short, for the inputs of a finished service to qualify as the objects of an "offer" (as that term is reasonably understood), it is perhaps a sufficient, but surely not a necessary, condition that the seller offer separately "each discrete input that is necessary to providing ... a finished service," ante, at 19. The pet store may have a policy of selling puppies only with leashes, but any customer will say that it does offer puppies--because a leashed puppy is still a puppy, even though it is not offered on a "stand-alone" basis.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, dissenting in the Brand X decision, explaining the majority decision's "mighty labors" upholding the FCC classification of cable modem service as an "information service" and not a "telecommunications service."

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Thursday, August 11, 2005


Climate: bad news on positive feedback

Climate scientists are most concerned about positive feedback systems. For example, a rise in polar temperatures melts the icecaps, which changes a "white body" that reflects heat into a "black body" that absorbs it, which, in turn, further increases the polar temperature. Another example: sea water holds more dissolved CO2 when it is cold; as it warms, it releases CO2 into the atmosphere, which increases the greenhouse effect.

Today another piece of positive feedback bad news has hit the headlines:
Western Siberia is heating up faster than anywhere else in the world, having experienced a rise of some 3C in the past 40 years. Scientists are particularly concerned about the permafrost, because as it thaws, it reveals bare ground which warms up more quickly than ice and snow, and so accelerates the rate at which the permafrost thaws.

Siberia's peat bogs have been producing methane since they formed at the end of the last ice age, but most of the gas had been trapped in the permafrost. According to Larry Smith, a hydrologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, the west Siberian peat bog could hold some 70bn tonnes of methane, a quarter of all of the methane stored in the ground around the world.

The permafrost is likely to take many decades at least to thaw, so the methane locked within it will not be released into the atmosphere in one burst, said Stephen Sitch, a climate scientist at the Met Office's Hadley Centre in Exeter.

But calculations by Dr Sitch and his colleagues show that even if methane seeped from the permafrost over the next 100 years, it would add around 700m tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere each year, roughly the same amount that is released annually from the world's wetlands and agriculture.

It would effectively double atmospheric levels of the gas, leading to a 10% to 25% increase in global warming, he said.

Thanks to Earl Mardle for picking this up!

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Wednesday, August 10, 2005


Climate Change: The Scientific Evidence

Christopher Lydon's Open Source Radio Show today (podcast available) is on The Politics of Climate Change.

But first, the science (.pdf), from John Holdren, the co-chair of the National Commission on Energy Policy, a Professor of Science, Technology and Public Policy at Harvard's JFK School of Government, and the Director of the Woods Hole Research Center (a few excerpts):
2004 was the 4th hottest year in the 140+ years of thermometer records
2003 was 3rd hottest
2002 was 2nd hottest
2001 was 5th hottest
1998 the hottest
Recent studies of glaciers, boreholes, corals all indicate we’re in the warmest period in 1000+ years.
Newest climate models match observations with much-improved fidelity (in both temporal and spatial patterns of change) when “driven” by known anthropogenic & natural forcings. (The excellent “fit” between observations & predicted consequences of the measured increases in greenhouse gases is a “fingerprint” -- proving beyond reasonable doubt that anthropogenic GHG are the principal culprit behind observed climate change.)
Parallel efforts in modeling, statistical analysis of observations, and study of past climates have led to strengthened consensus that “sensitivity” to a CO2 doubling is ~3 degrees Centigrade. (The last refuge of “contrarians” (the idea that human disruption, though real, will be small) is vanishing.)
and evidence is growing rapidly that increasing greenhouse gases (mostly CO2) is contributing to
• deadly heat-waves
• increased intensity of major storms
• increased frequency & intensity of droughts
• increased frequency of great floods
• impacts on species ranges & behavior
• increased frequency & extent of wildfires
• greater adverse than beneficial impacts on agricultural productivity
I can't believe that some of my friends, otherwise intelligent people who seemed to get the major impact of the Internet revolution, still think that Global Climate Change is some kind of liberal plot. From corresponding with two of them, I have collected evidence that they probably don't understand the scientific process. I invite such people to read Holdren's presentation (.pdf) carefully, to track the references and try to understand where the assertions come from. I'm sure they're capable, if they will only put their minds to it.

UPDATE: Jamais Cascio writes to point to, "How do we know that CO2 increase comes from human consumption?" Nice piece, Jamais!

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The Carriers should buy Skype

When I first heard the rumor that Rupert Murdoch was trying to buy Skype for $3 Billion, I couldn't believe that Rupert would risk pissing off the carriers that carry his TV empire's content. The rumor, *days* old, is now Officially Dead.

However, Om Malik has now discovered that Skype has hired Morgan Stanley to find an aquisitor. (Good shoe leather, Om!) Om thinks that Skype still values itself north of $1 Billion.

Suggestion: The telcos, cellcos and cablecos should kick in and buy Skype, then hire somebody to run it badly enough that computer-to-computer voice gets a rep for poor quality, insecurity and unreliability. Deliberately create some high visibility faux pas. Give FUD a raison d'etre. Get Skype's customers screaming for revenge and regulation. Go bankrupt with an Enronic bang. It'd be a billion well spent.

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Tuesday, August 09, 2005


FCC: Federal Control of Consumers?

Susan Crawford exclaims,
. . . consumers (not creators!)
And Jock Gill notes
. . . to relegate citizens to the status of simple consumers, is to attack the very foundation of our experiment in democracy. Democracy can only be kept alive if we citizens are engaged daily in its production.
How much longer before it becomes what Bob Frankston calls the Federal Speech Commission?

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FCC: Everything Not Permitted is Forbidden!

If you're not completely discouraged yet, Susan Crawford reminds us,
Like the Coast Guard, the FCC will someday be part of DHS . . . We are racing towards a new controlled online future, and the network providers will be implementing packet inspection technologies that will make blocking all unapproved activities a reality.

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Bush energy bill: "Bye-bye municipal utilities"

As I warned in June (see Attacks on Muni Nets? Fuggedaboudit. Attacks on Muni Everything), the Energy Bill has repealed the Public Utilities Holding Company Act, PUHCA. The net-net is that now, if a municipal utility is in the face of a private entity with means, the private entity can buy it.

More surely than Brand X, more surely than the Martin FCC, More surely than The Ensign BICCA Bill and The Pete Sessions SBC Bill, the repeal of PUHCA will discourage, prevent and destroy municipal networks.

Story here, a nice analysis by Jamais Cascio here. Thanks, Rahul!

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Sunday, August 07, 2005


Fat Wasteband, Broadband's Evil Twin

Fred Goldstein has written a most amusing piece. Among other things, it deconstructs arguments that Roderick Randall (my evil twin) has been making for several years. Re-mix Randall repeatedly calls for "The Fall of the Stupid Network." Goldstein writes:
What we now think of as broadband Internet service might not be widely available much longer in the United States! A combination of greed and politics is leading to a situation where the Internet is being replaced by a different vision of "broadband", one in which a service provider -- the owner of the physical wire -- makes the decisions about what kind of content one can see, and what applications one is allowed to run. It's a bit more like cable TV, but on your computer. There are channels to choose from, but users are merely consumers of content, which is metered out for a price. And what should we call it? It's a fat pipe but the bandwidth is wasted, so "fat wasteband" seems perhaps more appropriate than just plain "broadband".
In March, 2005, a venture capitalist, Roderick Randall of Vesbridge Partners, gave a conference keynote speech called Don't Get Skyped. The conference described itself after the fact like this: "The 21st Century Communications World Forum delivered on its name by offering attendees a bold vision of the technologies and customer needs driving change in telecom carrier networks." What a bold vision he offered! He laid out this fat wasteband message as only a true believer can.

Skype, in his world -- and Randall was addressing an audience of telephone carriers and their supporters -- is seen as the archetypal enemy. It is a free Internet application that competes with paid telephone services. Such chutzpah! How dare they! . . .
Worth reading!


How Martin's FCC is different from Powell's

The difference between the Powell FCC and the Martin FCC (.doc, .pdf) is clear in the re-statement of The Four Internet Freedoms issued Friday! Also see Martin's statement (.doc, .pdf) and, for example, this article on Powell's Four Internet Freedoms.

Powell: Freedom to access content.
Martin: Consumers are entitled to access the lawful Internet content of their choice.

Powell: Freedom to run applications.
Martin: Consumers are entitled to run applications and services of their choice, subject to the needs of law enforcement;

Powell: Freedom to attach devices.
Martin: Consumers are entitled to connect their choice of legal devices that do not harm the network.

Powell: Freedom to obtain service plan information.
Martin: Consumers are entitled to competition among network providers, application and service providers, and content providers.
And the Martin FCC adds an important footnote:
All of these principles are subject to reasonable network management.
To Powell, the Internet carries freedoms.
To Martin, the Internet provides not freedoms, but rather "entitlements" to "consumers." See Kevin (heart) Consumers.

To Powell, the freedoms are general.
To Martin, there's an unspoken bias whereby non-consumers are subject to different entitlements.

To Powell, the freedoms are absolute.
To Martin, the presumption is that illegal uses are likely; law enforcement trumps "consumer" "entitlement" in all cases.

To Powell, service plan information should exist in the disinfecting light of day.
To Martin, "consumers" need not bother their pretty little heads about service plan information; as long as there's "competition" (defined as one or more "competitors"(?)), all's right with the world.

Oh, and to Martin, there's a gathering danger that "consumer" "entitlements" might "harm the network" or depart from "reasonable network management."

Susan Crawford provides her usual incisive analysis here.

I'm scared.

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When Pigs Wi-Fi

Nicholas Kristof, writing in today's New York Times, says,
New York and other leading cities should be embarrassed that Morrow and Umatilla Counties in eastern Oregon are far ahead of them in providing high-speed Internet coverage to residents, schools and law enforcement officers - even though all of Morrow County doesn't even have a single traffic light.
. . . Kim Puzey, the general manager of the Port of Umatilla on the Columbia River here [says] "We'd like people to say, 'If they can do it out in the boondocks with a small population, that model can be applied to highly complex areas,' " he said.
Indeed, we need to envision broadband Internet access as just another utility, like electricity or water. Often the best way to provide that will be to blanket a region with Wi-Fi coverage to create wireless computer networks, rather than running D.S.L., cable or fiber-optic lines to every home.
Portland and Philadelphia won't have [planned Wi-Fi] systems in place until next year. Meanwhile, the system in eastern Oregon covers a larger geographic area, is free for consumers and has been up and running for more than a year and a half.
Sigh. This is becoming an old story. But with the FCC going backwards, and even denying that the U.S. is falling behind, it looks like we'll be fighting this tired old battle for more years to come.

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Friday, August 05, 2005


Quote of Note: Kevin Bankston

"The things you Google for define you."

Kevin Bankston, EFF Attorney, quoted here.

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Thursday, August 04, 2005


How to eat sushi

Also the history of sushi, some good sushi restaurants, etc. in five blog entries (so far) by Noriko Takiguchi. I've been eating sushi for years, but there's way more for me to learn! For example,
The history of sushi goes back as long as to B.C.400 in South East Asia, where people used uncooked rice to marinate raw fish for preservation purposes. Fish was sprinkled with salt and buried in rice. Rice’s fermentation helped fish last long, and provided a rare source of protein at that time. Only fish was served and rice was thrown away . . . When this kind of preserved fish came north to Japan around 8th century, people started eating both the fish and the rice.
you should proceed from plainer to richer tastes . . . you might want to start with some white fish like bream, red snapper or flatfish, then try what is called “fish with shiny skin” like mackerel, sardine, halfbeak, and dark colored meat fish like bonito, tuna and salmon. You then proceed to squid, octopus and shellfish. Closer to the end, you might want to add sea urchin, salmon roe or some cooked fish like eel or conger that come with thick sauce. To finish, some people order rolled sushi wrapped in fragrant nori (the black sea weed) or even tamago (omelet) as almost like a dessert . . . this order allows your tongue to taste every piece delicately.
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Watch for more.

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Quote of Note: John St. Julien

"Our strategy at the largest level was to keep the focus on two things: one, the nature of the incumbents' campaign, and two, the positive vision of what building our own network could do for Lafayette . . . [Cox Cable and Bell South's] campaign was all about inducing fear, uncertainty and doubt. They didn't have to put forward anything positive and didn't try. The incumbent coalition could just gin up all sorts of new things to worry about from wireless, to hurricanes, to Hawaii, to 'in lieu of taxes,' to bond language ... the number was potentially endless. And since the point was not to substantiate each charge -- they couldn't and didn't try -- but to make the voter a little afraid and confused, all they had to do was continue to come up with new things to distort."

John St. Julien, of Lafayette Coming Together" on Lafayette's recent muni fiber victory. Quoted in this quite detailed article. Thanks to Baller Herbst for the link.

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Rummy learns "war profiteering" from Brown & Root in Viet Nam

Here's the claim I referred to earlier from Christopher Lydon's Open Source program called "Show Us the Money" on financial mismanagement of U.S. tax dollars in Iraq.

Thanks to Carl for pointing out that the passage in question (in this .mp3 file) begins at 37:54.

The speaker is Pratap Chaterjee, Managing Editor of Corpwatch and author of Iraq, Inc.

" . . . in early May of 1966, Donald Rumsfeld went to Viet Nam to inspect exactly the same kind of overspending by a company called Brown and Root, now part of Haliburton, for the amount of money they spent. He came back and said, "This cannot be characterized as anything but war profiteering," and he pointed to the president of the time, Lyndon B. Johnson, and the fact that Lyndon B. Johnson was getting money from Brown and Root, $23,000 for the president's fund.

So what's really curious is that this has happened before. The same man went to an American war in Southeast Asia and he came back and replicated that methodology here. Either he has a very bad memory, or it was something a little more deliberate. I don't know, I am just a journalist."

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Wednesday, August 03, 2005


Thomas Friedman on Andrew Rasiej campaign

Check out Friedman's column in this morning's NY Times!
I began thinking about [under-performing U.S. networks] after watching the Japanese use cellphones and laptops to get on the Internet from speeding bullet trains and subways deep underground. But the last straw was when I couldn't get cellphone service while visiting I.B.M.'s headquarters in Armonk, N.Y.
A new generation of politicians is waking up to this issue. For instance, Andrew Rasiej is running in New York City's Democratic primary for public advocate on a platform calling for wireless (Wi-Fi) and cellphone Internet access from every home, business and school in the city . . . Mr. Rasiej argues that we can't trust the telecom companies to make sure that everyone is connected because new technologies, like free Internet telephony, threaten their business models . . . Message: In U.S. politics, the party that most quickly absorbs the latest technology often dominates. F.D.R. dominated radio and the fireside chat; J.F.K., televised debates; Republicans, direct mail and then talk radio, and now Karl Rove's networked voter databases.
Importantly, Rasiej speaks of open-source-style peer production:
"One elected official by himself can't solve the problems of eight million people," Mr. Rasiej argued, "but eight million people networked together can solve one city's problems. They can spot and offer solutions better and faster than any bureaucrat. ... The party that stakes out this new frontier will be the majority party in the 21st century. And the Democrats better understand something - their base right now is the most disconnected from the network."
I have been a close observer of Rasiej's campaign. I've donated money and given advice on tech policy. Rasiej is NOT batting 1.000! But at least he's on *our* team . . .

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Tuesday, August 02, 2005


Top 25 Country Albums of All Time (?)

A pretty good list. "No rock or pop . . . no bluegrass or Western Swing."

The first three are
1. Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison
2. Wrecking Ball by Emmy Lou Harris
3. Red Headed Stranger by Willie Nelson

The truly trad will object to the absence of Loretta Lynn, George Jones and Hank Williams, but these omissions are remedied in a "15 Essential Anthologies" supplement.

Still others might object that Gram Parsons and Townes van Zandt come before Dolly Parton and Merle Travis. I, myself, don't especially think Hank W Junior deserves a spot in the top 25. So it's subjective, not perfect by a long shot . . . just pretty good.

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Monday, August 01, 2005


More Evidence for Apple DRM Rumors

Back in June I published some evidence that the real reason that Apple was switching to Intel chips was Intel's hardware DRM machinery. Now Cory Doctorow has more evidence of Apple's garden walling. He writes,
The Trusted Computing people say that they intend on Trusted Computing being used to stop the unauthorized distribution of music, but none of them has ever refuted the Darknet paper, where several of Trusted Computing's inventors explain that Trusted Computing isn't fit to this purpose.

The point of Trusted Computing is to make it hard -- impossible, if you believe the snake-oil salesmen from the Trusted Computing world -- to open a document in a player other than the one that wrote it in the first place

Do you distrust "trusted computing" as much as I do?

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