Friday, December 30, 2005


New Tropical Storm Forms on December 30

MIAMI, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- Tropical Storm Zeta, the 27th named storm of the year, formed Friday [today! DI] in the eastern Atlantic.

What happens if another new storm forms next week? Will it be part of the 2005 season or 2006? How much longer until "Hurricane Season" is 12 months long?

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Thursday, December 29, 2005


W hears from his Higher Father

By permission of Ben Smith, the talented toonist. Thanks Ben!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005


A list of Google's Acquisitions

Here's a long list of companies Google has acquired from Android to Zipdash. And the same blogger lists the companies acquired by Yahoo. Both have useful snippets of press releases and abstracts of key patents. Note: I do not know this blogger, but these posts look usefully accurate and observant.

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Monday, December 26, 2005


Cache as Cash Can

I'm in Adelphia territory for the holidays. This morning it took 14 seconds for to load. Funny, it only took the New York Times about three seconds. To better understand what gives here, I timed the following web pages from <CR> to the first screen of text: -- 4 sec -- 11 sec -- 8 sec -- 7 sec -- 9 sec -- 10 sec

Then, a few minutes later, I did it again: -- 1 sec -- 1 sec -- 4 sec -- 1 sec -- 3 sec -- 1 sec

For comparison
New York Times -- 3 sec
Boston Globe -- 3 sec
Newsweek -- 4 sec
Christian Science Monitor -- 5 sec
Mercury News -- 2 sec

So recency helps. So does popularity (i.e., somebody else's recency). It is a stupid cache, and as readers of know, stupidity is good. But what if caching were based on some other more "intelligent" criterion, like, for example, suppose latency were the inverse of how much Ed Whitacre got paid? Then how would we feel if, say, always took 14 sec to load?

Too many of us are stuck on a network neutrality argument that centers around the Googles and Yahoos and Amazons. But when the network neutrality tub is emptied, the big fish will survive. It'll be us little babies that get sucked down the drain.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2005


Pictures of NYC during transit strike

In New York City today it was downright pleasant, providing you didn't need to use your car or the subway . . .

These are the avenues at 43rd Street near Grand Central Station, with four shopping days until Christmas.


Big Telecom News Today!

Wow! Joe Nacchio was indicted on 42 counts of insider trading, telecom bill honcho Chairman Joe Barton had a heart attack and NTIA head Michael Gallagher is leaving the Bush Commerce Department for private industry. This is the busiest telecom news day since eBay bought Skype and Vint Cerf took a job at Google way back in September.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2005


Quote of Note: George W. Bush

“I don’t give a goddamn. I’m the President and the Commander-in-Chief. Do it my way.”
[source] [more detail]

It's not often that there are two quotes of note from the same person in the same day, but Commander-in-Chief Bush has earned the honor.

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Quote of Note: George W. Bush

“Stop throwing the Constitution in my face, it’s just a goddamned piece of paper!”

George W. Bush, President of the United States of America, to Republican Congressional leaders, quoted here.

Here's the Presidential Oath of Office:
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.
If "preserve, protect and defend . . . to the best of my ability" means that "it's just a goddamned piece of paper," then the Presidency of the United States is just a goddamned job that needs a new goddamned person doing it.

A bit more detail from the article:
GOP leaders told Bush that his hardcore push to renew the more onerous provisions of the act could further alienate conservatives still mad at the President from his botched attempt to nominate White House Counsel Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court.

“I don’t give a goddamn,” Bush retorted. “I’m the President and the Commander-in-Chief. Do it my way.”

“Mr. President,” one aide in the meeting said. “There is a valid case that the provisions in this law undermine the Constitution.”

“Stop throwing the Constitution in my face,” Bush screamed back. “It’s just a goddamned piece of paper!”

I’ve talked to three people present for the meeting that day and they all confirm that the President of the United States called the Constitution “a goddamned piece of paper.”

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Monday, December 12, 2005


What a Network Neutrality Rule Wants

Network Neutrality, that is, a network that just delivers the packets, stupid, with no cognizance of what app, device, or end-user generated them, is an public good that gives rise to much innovation, value creation and economic growth at the application layer. It is the single greatest factor in the success of the current Internet.

But a Network Neutrality rule, even a strong one, can fail. Here's my thinking:

1. The carriers have huge incentives to discriminate, as a ground-breaking paper, entitled Towards an Economic Framework for Network Neutrality Regulation, by Barbara van Schewick clearly shows. One major finding is that a carrier does not need to be a monopoly to reap clear benefits from discrimination; carriers can benefit from discriminating even in a competitive market.

2. Anybody who says that there's no need for Network Neutrality because the carriers have no intention to discriminate is ignoring the carriers' huge incentives to discriminate. Please, Mr. Fox, guard my hen house; I know your intentions are pure. [Link]

3. No mealy-mouthed language. Any Network Neutrality rule must be iron-clad, with no possibility of misinterpretation. Because carriers will try to misinterpret it. Because they will have economic incentives to do so.

4. The punishment must fit the crime. Network Neutrality rules are not in the carriers' best interests. They put carriers in a self-competitive situation, that is, in a situation where following the rule is not in their self-interest. Therefore, if carriers stand to make billions by violating Network Neutrality, then the punishment must be in the tens of billions.

5. Physical network development is still a problem. Under Network Neutrality and competition, unless we find a way around the Paradox of the Best Network, carriers do lose incentive to build according to the latest technology. We need to solve this problem by confronting it squarely, by dis-entangling the network development issue from the network neutrality issue.

Network Neutrality is a clear case of public good versus private benefit. That's what regulation is for. In this case, competition will not replace regulation. We don't need any old Network Neutrality rule. We need a network neutrality rule that is (a) clear, (b) strongly enforceable, and (c) incents physical network development. Anything less is bound to fail.

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Tuesday, December 06, 2005


My so-called humanity

I'd rather be killed than tortured. Think about it. (If you can . . . ) Imagine you're held in shackles in an uncomfortable position in a cold room all night long, aching beyond tears, shivering to the bone, scared out of your wits, with ear-splitting unfamiliar music pounding you, pissing and shitting on yourself, only to have somebody dressed in a hood kick you, burn you with cigarettes and insult you in the morning. No. Kill me first.

There's an episode of "Six Feet Under" that captures the feeling of total degradation that torture must induce. The only difference is that, at first the victim is a willing accomplice. And, of course, it is prettied up for TV.

Exercising empathy is really difficult. Denial is so much easier. You keep your so-called humanity intact. But sometimes I imagine what being tortured must feel like. They're torturing people with my tax dollars. Cruel and unusual, for sure. Innocent? Guilty? It does not matter.

This, by Dana Priest in the Washington Post, makes me cringe. Worse. It has kept me upset, unable to think, since I read it:
Members of the [U.S. CIA's] Rendition Group follow a simple but standard procedure: Dressed head to toe in black, including masks, they blindfold and cut the clothes off their new captives, then administer an enema and sleeping drugs. They outfit detainees in a diaper and jumpsuit for what can be a day-long trip. Their destinations: either a detention facility operated by cooperative countries in the Middle East and Central Asia, including Afghanistan, or one of the CIA's own covert prisons . . .
Among those released from Guantanamo is Mamdouh Habib, an Egyptian-born Australian citizen, apprehended by a CIA team in Pakistan in October 2001, then sent to Egypt for interrogation, according to court papers. He has alleged that he was burned by cigarettes, given electric shocks and beaten by Egyptian captors. After six months, he was flown to Guantanamo Bay and let go earlier this year without being charged.
Masri [a CIA detainee later released as innocent] said his cell in Afghanistan was cold, dirty and in a cellar, with no light and one dirty cover for warmth. The first night he said he was kicked and beaten and warned by an interrogator: "You are here in a country where no one knows about you, in a country where there is no law. If you die, we will bury you, and no one will know."

My hat is off to Dana Priest and other courageous reporters working on this story. I will be uncomfortable with my country until it brings the criminals responsible for these acts to justice. All of them.

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Monday, December 05, 2005


How Skype might help bring Network Neutrality

Mitch Shapiro, writing in IP Democracy, says
. . . there may be a scenario in which Skype [. . . could increase] public awareness of the network neutrality issue . . . In this scenario, call quality problems experienced by Skype users could [be blamed] on pipe-owners seeking to limit customer choice and unfairly hobble competitors.
Hmmm! Interesting. But all the standard disclaimers still apply. Shapiro goes on
. . . in the age of blogs and electronic word of mouth, PR muscle isn’t as overwhelming an advantage as it used to be (though control of the pipes may remain so). And, as Sony’s recent debacle suggests, if clumsily executed in the face of expanding consumer outrage, a corporate PR defense can actually make things worse.
We can do our part by expressing our outrage when they're outrageous. Early. And often.

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Saturday, December 03, 2005


Why I call myself a Prosultant(sm)

Pro is the opposite of Con. When I left AT&T I vowed never to call myself a Consutant.

Tom Evslin articulately captures what I, too, observed at AT&T, albeit from the shorter end of the stick:
“Don’t cross THEM,” a friendly fellow officer advised me on my first day at AT&T. “THEY’ll ruin your career.” . . . THEY called meetings; THEY facilitated meetings; THEY assigned followup; THEY designed Board meetings and presented to the Board; THEY often called for more of their own kind as reinforcements. And THEY could wreck your career.

THEY were the consultants.

AT&T had already discovered outsourcing when Bangalore was still a sleepy village and the streets of Shanghai were clogged with rickshaws. AT&T outsourced thinking.

AT&T outsourced thinking to THEM – the consultants.


THEY were on all sides of every major strategic decision and every minor tactical decision AT&T made. No idea could be advanced unless it was consultant-vetted. Warring senior executives each had their own phalanxes of consultants drawn up to advance their agendas (whose agendas? the consultants or the executives? impossible to tell).

John Walter’s nine month career as AT&T President and COO wasn’t a happy one. But he did ban THEM! All of THEM!

If you're still mystified by this, read the rest of Evslin's rant.

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BellSouth: Priority Service is not Discrimination

Fresh on the heels of SBC/AT&T CEO Ed Whitacre's comment that Google, MSN and Vonage want to, "use my pipes free, but I ain't going to let them . . . these people who use these pipes [have] to pay," BellSouth has copped a similar attitude. The Washington Post reports that BellSouth CTO William L. Smith thinks that BellSouth
. . . should be able, for example, to charge Yahoo Inc. for the opportunity to have its search site load faster than that of Google Inc.
Illustrating how generic Network Neutrality language might be is-ised out of existence, Smith
. . . was quick to say that Internet service providers should not be able to block or discriminate against Web content or services by degrading their performance . . . Rather, he said, a pay-for-performance marketplace should be allowed to develop on top of a baseline service level that all content providers would enjoy.
This is simply marketing language. Companies implementing price discrimination find that if they frame it as boosting prices, customers (and reporters) react negatively. But if they talk about a sale, everybody loves them. So Smith speaks of boosting performance rather than degrading it.

Discrimination is discrimination! Both SBC and BellSouth have announced they will discriminate! This is a wake-up call. Any Freedom to Connect language in the next telecom act WILL NEED TEETH.

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