|Ken Novak's Weblog
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Wednesday, September 22, 2004
VOIP in development:
Good review of VOIP progress from Brian King of Interaction. Among several cases noted was a national developing country provider: "Eguitel Communications in Guinea-Bissau, the only company in Africa with an unrestricted VOIP license, included CrystalVoice software as a key technology in their plan for rural telecenters. The company plans to buy software licenses to support 24 simultaneous phone conversations. CrystalVoice offers a broad range of approaches and prices and reportedly will help clients identify the optimal solution and best return on investment. Eguitel will deploy Pentium III computers and handsets that run from USB ports into the phone booths. The telecenters will be connected via an existing 11 megabyte, fixed-antenna microwave network. The company expects the investment to be amortized very quickly, through mostly in-country traffic." 11:24:36 PM
: Christopher Dickey reviews several sources who publicly predicted the current mess in Iraq (State Dept, Rice Uni, French diplomats, himself), and concludes: "I don't blame most of us Americans for being in denial; I can't blame people who pin their hopes on anybody who tells them it's all really OK. But somebody has got to face reality in the face of persistent lies and delusions. So here's the question looking ahead: What happens if those who refused to know such important things in the past continue to set our agenda for the future? " 11:09:17 PM
Even in eager Kosovo, nation-building stalls: Many subtle issues in nation-building. "five years after the world's first "humanitarian war," Kosovars say the promises of democracy and European integration now seem to be slipping further away, rather than getting any closer..
the West worried what message an independent Kosovo might send around the world: if you want independence, insurgency pays. .. So the UN opted for a familiar tack - kick-the-can diplomacy, as analysts describe it - putting off hard decisions until later. .. The UN has adopted a process it calls "standards before status," requiring Kosovo to meet satisfactory levels of democratic governance, rule of law, and multiethnic tolerance before beginning discussion of permanent status. Review of Kosovo's standards-before-status progress is slated for mid-2005. But the standards process is seen as an unreasonably high threshold for a war- ravaged region with little to no tradition of democracy .." 9:17:04 AM
IBM mulls blade desktops: "Blade desktops were pioneered by US company ClearCube, which sells racks of blades, each one containing a motherboard, processor, memory and hard disk. ClearCube's solution has a small user port sitting on each desk, to which as many as four monitors, plus a keyboard and mouse are connected, with a Category 5 Ethernet cable running back to the blade where all the work is done.
IBM already resells ClearCube hardware, but is now looking at the possibility of manufacturing its own as it looks for an ever larger market for its blade server infrastructure .. [one way] "would be to virtualise the whole blade centre and give a piece to everybody." Wandarugala said IBM is looking to VMWare for virtualisation software.
IBM was a relative latecomer to the blade market, but since its first launch has grabbed 44 percent of the market, according to analyst firm IDC. .. Last week, IBM and Intel announced that they have opened their BladeCentre specification, meaning that anyone can now make blades to fit in the company's chassis. However, development of the BladeCentre technology remains firmly in IBM and Intel hands; although the plug-in interfaces have been openly published, the chassis design remains closed, meaning that only IBM, Intel and their business partners will be able to sell them." 9:10:02 AM
BBC in Basra: How bad can things get? "the most worrying development of the August fighting was that none of Basra's 25,000 police officers came to the aid of the British soldiers. Some even helped the gunmen.
I met one of the senior civilian political advisors to the military command. Every time he came to Basra things seemed a "step change worse", he said. The best thing to happen, he went on, would be for a new Islamic government to be elected in January which would ask multi-national forces to leave. I don't think he was being facetious.
Elections do form part of the exit strategy, but not in this way. The hope is that national elections in January will produce a government with the authority and the legitimacy to face down the gunmen on its own. But in local elections in the British sector this week, turnout was just 15%. A government election with that much backing would be just one faction in the civil war which some American intelligence officials believe is brewing.
That is very much the worst case. But whatever happens, British officers no longer have any illusions that the southern corner of Iraq they run will be immune from the violence. " 8:59:18 AM
British-occupied port of Basra calm, but not truly stable
: "August was a bloody month in Basra. As militiamen loyal to radical cleric Muqtada al Sadr faced off against U.S. troops in Najaf, his forces in Basra launched coordinated attacks on British convoys, seized the old compound of Hussein's Baath Party and rained mortar shells and rockets on British bases. Three British soldiers were killed, one of them in a 21/2-hour battle in downtown Basra that resembled the movie Black Hawk Down,
British troops held back, choosing to nibble at the edges of militant strongholds rather than risk extensive civilian casualties. The restraint appears to have paid off. In late August, when Iraq's most revered Shiite religious leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali Husseini al Sistani, came to Basra, the fighting stopped immediately. There've been sporadic conflicts in the weeks since, but nothing to match the violence of August." 8:56:42 AM
Editors on the Future of Energy: A couple useful facts: "By 2007, there should be 22 hybrid car options in the U.S., and some of these will have the strong hybrid qualities", ie, "able to run around town at speeds of say 35 to 40 mph on electricity and not go to fuel unless it had to run at higher speeds for a long distance trip."
"In the U.S. now, three units of energy come from [natural] gas for every five from oil." 8:54:55 AM
Marines Bide Their Time In Insurgent-Held Fallujah
: Interesting dynamic reported inside the city: "In what may be the strongest sign of tension between residents and foreigners, the head of the Shura Council, Abdullah Janabi, who had invited foreigners to the city in April, issued a statement on Friday calling Zarqawi a "criminal."
"We don't need Zarqawi to defend our city," said Janabi, who sought to draw a distinction between what he called "Iraqi resistance fighters" and foreign fighters engaged in a campaign against Iraq's infrastructure, foreign civilians and Iraqi security forces. "The Iraqi resistance is something and the terrorism is something else. We don't kidnap journalists and we don't sabotage the oil pipelines and the electric power stations. We don't kill innocent Iraqis. We resist the occupation." Zarqawi's actions, Janabi said, have "harmed the resistance and made it lose the support of people."
Residents have reported skirmishes between residents and foreign fighters in recent weeks. The fighting has broken out after residents, fearful of airstrikes, have sought to evict foreigners from their neighborhoods, the residents said. " 7:40:14 AM