General networking
Data network connectivity developments, networking business news, and related computing items.

Ken Novak's Weblog


daily link  Saturday, January 31, 2004


Sensors of the World, Unite!: Good intro to this topic, quoting an Alun Anderson Economist article, and providing other references.  "Another information revolution is emerging, driven by billions of tiny and intelligent sensors able to self-organize into scalable and fault-tolerant networks. Taken individually, these sensors have small brains, but using billions of them is an entirely other story."  10:53:57 PM  permalink  


daily link  Friday, January 30, 2004


INTERNALMEMOS.COM - Internet's largest collection of corporate memos and internal communication: Amazing site.  In case you were ever tempted to put something in writing that you didn't want the world (and Google) to find...  10:39:37 PM  permalink  


daily link  Wednesday, January 28, 2004


Reuters | Latest Financial News / Full News Coverage: "Dutch firm Philips Electronics said on Monday it was preparing to mass-produce a slim, book-sized display panel onto which consumers could download newspapers and magazines -- then roll up and put away. The 5-inch display, which can show detailed images, can be rolled up into a pen-sized holder. .. Philips said it had created the displays using electronics circuits made of plastics, which power a monochrome display created with technology from E Ink, a privately-held U.S. company from Cambridge, Massachusetts. "We can produce this in batches. It's no longer a research project. We're going to build a pilot line that should be ready in 2005 to make one million displays a year," a spokesman at Philips Research said. Europe's largest maker of consumer electronics and lighting has already shown prototypes of a glass-based E Ink display which will be in the shops later this year. That sort of screen, used in pocket computers, can cost tens of dollars apiece."  E-Ink has been under development for years. It requires much less power than LCD panels and works better outdoors or using ambient light, so it's likely to have wide application where power is short.  Black and white only for now.  12:38:08 PM  permalink  


daily link  Sunday, January 25, 2004


Best Western hotels to install free high-speed Internet chainwide: "Best Western International Inc. will offer free high-speed Internet in all 2,300 of its hotels in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean, its chief executive said Friday.  "It's the No. 1 amenity requested by virtually everyone, especially businesspeople, said Tom Higgins, CEO and president of the Phoenix-based hotel chain. "High-speed Internet for free is going to be where it's at."

Only about 10 to 15% of Best Western hotels currently have high-speed access, but Higgins said it will be available chainwide by September.  "Come Sept. 1, when you see a Best Western sign, you'll know they have it. That's the comfort we want to provide for the traveling public," he said.

In each of the hotels, at least 15% of the guest rooms and public areas will have high-speed Internet access. The company will also make wireless cards available at the front desk for guests who are in rooms without hard wiring.  Additionally, the hotel's corporate office will make a toll-free number available around-the-clock for guests who have difficulty connecting to the Internet.

Higgins predicts that other hotels will also be forced to offer free service eventually because travelers have become so dependent on e-mail and Internet services. "Everybody is going to be here. It's just a matter of how soon they're going to get there," he said. "

  11:30:50 PM  permalink  


daily link  Friday, January 23, 2004


Micro-Sized Hard Drives: "Colorado-based Cornice has introduced a 1-inch, 2GB drive it calls a "storage element." Several consumer electronics manufacturers already use Cornice's previous-generation storage elements, including PortalPlayer, SigmaTel, and Texas Instruments.  The new 2GB model is aimed at portable video, multimedia, and GPS applications, and has a unit price of $70 in quantities of 100,000.  Like the previous Cornice drives, the 2GB contains fewer parts than many comparable products.."  They expect to  increase in capacity at a rate of about 50 percent per year.  Toshiba and Hitachi also have .85 and 1 inch drives with 1-4 Gb.  8:26:59 AM  permalink  


daily link  Wednesday, January 21, 2004


A CIO talks about IT governance: "You may share my initial lack of appreciation for governance. Over time, I've come to understand that a significant portion of a CIO's job involves standardization, training and certification, and management through policy, notifications, audits, and approvals. These may not be as sexy as building the next big system, but they ultimately are what will determine whether the large IT organization succeeds or fails. "  Windley's blog is a good source for CIO info.  12:22:21 PM  permalink  


daily link  Monday, January 19, 2004


Quiz: Is Your Project at Risk for Disaster?: " three business school professors describe a continuum of risk onto which they say every project falls. Take this quiz, created by Baseline, to find out what risks your project faces"  11:43:16 PM  permalink  


daily link  Sunday, January 18, 2004


Internet Users in China Number Nearly 80 Million; there were only 620,000 Chinese Internet users in 1997.  These numbers are from the China Internet Network Information Center. Pew says the US has 126 m users; other put Japan at 100m.  A Frost & Sullivan analyst thinks the China figure is reasonable, and the Chinese market has the potential to displace both Japan and the United States, which are reaching their limits in terms of possible new users.  "If you are looking at a 10- to 15-year time frame, I would say China and India are probably going to account for half of all Internet usage in the world."  11:20:49 PM  permalink  


daily link  Saturday, January 17, 2004


Due Diligence: Great commentary on Silicon Valley: "The Next Big Thing is a narrative we lay on top of the events after they happen, when we make our myths of the FairChildren, Steve and Steve, and kids from Cham-bana who changed the world. Heros, villains, goats, motives, plot points, morals of the story. All a mirage, induced by survivorship bias.

The Next Big Thing sneaks up from behind while you're trying to do your work, kicks your ass, walks over you, and either rifles your pockets or drops gold into your hands. If it's gold, they write a story about it one day. The others you never hear about, unless you live here and know them personally Galahad knew what he was looking for, we don't. Anyone tells you different, you're talking to a liar."  His own history, including Apple, Kalieda, and Compuserve, illustrates the point.

  10:57:18 PM  permalink  

Why Multimedia Publishing is a Crock: A 1991 piece from an Apple engineer on why "multimedia" would fail and networks would win.  Funny reading both the good (salience vs production values) and  bad now: "Where would such a network come from? While the current Internet is a harbinger, it’s too hard to use, is tied to desktop machinery, and has the wrong economic structure. One of the requirements for progress is more bandwidth, which enables users to send higher volumes of information in shorter periods of time. The proposed NREN (National Research and Education Network) high-bandwidth backbone (powerful computers connected by high-speed communications lines) has the problem of being overtly subsidized and controlled by government, which is unlikely to lead to a market structure — and it seems unwise to entrust the bureaucrats that gave us NASA and DOE with the potential core of an information society."  10:50:28 PM  permalink  

Cell Phone Cameras Share Blotchy Moments: "Tens of millions of these less-than perfect pictures were snapped and e-mailed from cell phones in the US during 2003, the first full year such services were available. News organizations are publishing cell photos from their readers to help cover stories. And an untold number of mobile phone snapshots are being posted daily to "moblogs," a visual form of the online journals better known as Web logs, or blogs. ..

Of the roughly 75 million camera phones shipped worldwide in 2003, only 6 million went to the United States, compared with more than 35 million to Japan, according to Strategy Analytics Ltd., a British consulting firm. Likewise, North America accounted for just 1.7 million of the world's 24 million "active" users of camera phones, compared with a combined 21.6 million in Japan and South Korea. ..

Though one- and two-megapixel camera phones like those available overseas are expected here this year, none of the handsets now sold in the United States offer better than 0.3 megapixels, less than a third of the resolution of the lowest-end standalone digital camera. ..

To share picture messages with other cell phone users [rather than email or moblogs], those people must all be signed up with the same wireless service. Rival carriers have not reached any deals to interconnect their services."

  10:25:38 PM  permalink  


daily link  Friday, January 16, 2004


WhyFi already getting built in Santa Rosa: More on Cringely's WhyFi self-organizing romaing network:  "Dane Jasper, who runs Sonic.net in Santa Rosa, is doing that by urging his broadband users to build and share their own hotspots that can be used solely by other Sonic.net broadband users. The carrot used by Dane to encourage participation is both free service, like WhyFi, and some revenue sharing applied to the DSL userâ019s monthly bill. Sonic has downtown Santa Rosa completely covered without spending up front for anything. He gets it. ..

There are still nine dialup Internet users in the U.S. for every user with broadband access.. Now imagine Cantennas all over a city –- paying customers for WhyFi service at $9.95 per month?"

  8:41:30 AM  permalink  

Cantenna WiFi Booster Antenna: "Boost your wireless signal (802.11b g), or connect to other wireless networks in your neighborhood. Only $19.95"  8:39:24 AM  permalink  


daily link  Thursday, January 15, 2004


Gadget Jacket Charged by the Sun: Cool vest or jacket with many internal pockets, and add-on solar cells for recharging the devices: "the jacket has integrated solar panels that charge cell phones, PDAs, Game Boys, MP3 players and most any other mobile device its wearer slides into its multitude of interior pockets."  The SCOTTeVEST site claims the Secret Service uses them.  11:16:55 AM  permalink  

NCT Group, Inc. - Articles: Review of modem-oriented data compression packages from Propel.com, Artera.com or Proxyconn.com.  9:43:23 AM  permalink  


daily link  Wednesday, January 14, 2004


Tapping the Grid: Search for Life in the Universe:  Interview with David Anderson, leader of SETI@Home, now "the world's largest virtual supercomputer. .. Since its public launch in May 1999, computer owners in more than 226 countries have chipped in. [The United Nations only includes 191, and nearly two-thirds are developing countries, with few spare computers laying around unused]. .. Since then, SETI@home has performed 1.6 million years of computer processing time. After four and half years, this computing capacity continues to double every year. " Lately it processes over 2000 years of CPU time per day. 

"An often overlooked aspect of their network approach is seldom mentioned--its apparent human efficiency. .. The team manages to sustain about 0.1% of the world's total computing capacity, with as few as six programmers and system administrators." 

The leader, David Anderson, was interviewed: "United Devices and similar companies (most notably Entropia) found that there wasn't a business in reselling public computer time. There aren't enough paying customers for it - pharmaceutical companies, for example, aren't interested because of security concerns - and it's hard to convince people to volunteer their computers for profit-making activities. So these companies have switched to the "corporate intranet" market - letting technology companies use their own desktop PCs for their own R&D computing."

  10:51:02 PM  permalink  

BOINC: "BOINC is a software platform for distributed [grid] computing using volunteer computer resources." SETI is beginning to adopt it.  It is cross-platform and usable for a variety of computing tasks.  10:48:00 PM  permalink  


daily link  Monday, January 12, 2004


ZIP-LINQ Retractable Cables and Retractable Cable Accessories: Cables for charging gizmos in many way, including from a laptop's USB ports.  Cuts the need for multiple adaptors.  9:54:03 PM  permalink  

Creative Commons: Useful site for selecting appropriate lisencing for created material (e.g., requiring attribution, no derivative works, but otherwise open to noncommercial use).  9:32:23 PM  permalink  

Microsoft Bows to Pressure, Extends Support for Older Windows Versions: "Microsoft Corp. on Monday capitulated to customer pressure and announced that it would now continue extended support for Windows 98, Windows 98 Second Edition and for Windows Millennium Edition (ME) until June 30, 2006. Microsoft recently said that support for Windows 98 and 98 SE would be phased out this Friday—January 16, while support for Windows Me was due to stop on December 31, 2004. ..

During this time, Microsoft will continue to offer paid phone support and will continue to review any critical security issues and take appropriate steps. ..

According to officials, Microsoft also wanted to bring Windows 98 SE into compliance with the company's current lifecycle policy for new products, which provides for support for seven years instead of the original four. "

  9:15:58 PM  permalink  

Yahoo, NewsGator Extend RSS Aggregation: "research shows that consumer dependence on the Web browser has diminished significantly. A recent study from Nielsen//NetRatings found that three out of every four home and work Internet users -- a full 76 percent -- access the Internet using a non-browser based Internet application like RSS aggregators, media players, Instant Messaging and P2P applications."  5:32:02 PM  permalink  

More casual VOIP: "We leave Skype running in the background when Matt's online in Helsinki and I'm in London. It's an easy, casual way to keep someone present when they're not. You hear the rhythms of their typing, occasional laughs or sighs or mutterings, and you can break into conversation when you feel like it. You can have conversational spurts, rather than one big download. It's casual, background conversation rather than a focused IM exchange or time-pressured telephone call."  5:29:05 PM  permalink  

Entering CasualSpace... John Perry Barlow gets a different VOIP experience: "Joi and I were typing at each other over the Net using Apple's iChat AV. I've never liked Internet chat. I don't like having to type that fast. So, at a certain point, I asked him whether he'd used the audio capacities that are built into iChat AV. I hadn't. A moment later we were conversing by voice through our computers. Despite the fact that Joi is presently in his country house outside of Tokyo and I'm at my condo in Salt Lake, it sounded like he was in the room with me. There was no discernible latency or loss of fidelity.

For awhile, we talked as though we were on the phone.. The really interesting shift occurred as we drifted back to what we'd been doing before we started chatting, leaving the audio channel open as we'd did so. We could hear each other typing. One of my daughters entered the room and spoke to me. Joi heard her and said hello. They had a brief conversation; .. I could hear the sounds of construction going on in his house. .. For a long time, it was as though we were working in the same room, each of us alone with his endeavors and yet... together. Though half a world away.

This feels significant to me. Even over shorter distances, people rarely think of phone calls as being so casually cheap that one would simply leave the connection open for ambient telepresence and occasional conversation. To create shared spaces that span the planet, and to do so whenever you feel like it, and to leave them unpurposefully in place for hours, is not something people have done very often before. The next step is to make those shared spaces larger, so that multiple people can inhabit the same auditory zone, entering and leaving it as though it were a coffee house. This will change the way people live.

Big deal, you think. You can do this with conference calls now. But you don't. Conference calls are expensive and unstable. The sound quality usually sucks if you're using a speaker phone. I think this is different. It certainly felt different to me. I had the same shiver of the New that I got years ago the first time I ever used telnet and realized that I could get a hard disks to spin in any number of computers thousands of miles away just by entering a few keystrokes. "

  5:23:09 PM  permalink  

Tim Berners-Lee to get OBE: "Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web and director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), will be made a Knight Commander, Order of the British Empire (KBE) by Queen Elizabeth. This was announced earlier today by Buckingham Palace as part of the 2004 New Year's Honours list. The rank of Knight Commander is the second most senior rank of the Order of the British Empire, one of the Orders of Chivalry awarded. Berners-Lee, 48, a British citizen who lives in the United States, is being knighted in recognition of his "services to the global development of the Internet" through the invention of the World Wide Web."  3:19:41 PM  permalink  


daily link  Friday, January 09, 2004


Cringely's WhyFi: How to get to 1m hotspots -- the same architecture as the "grid networking" idea I was promoting in 2002: "First we need to encourage what are essentially noncommercial hotspots and we do that not by revenue sharing but by providing free equipment. Anyone who wants to start a hotspot gets a free WiFi access point and a free WiFi client card for a notebook or other computer [with] slightly different firmware. This firmware establishes for the hotspot owner a DMZ in which the public traffic is contained [to what is not used by the hotspot owner], as well as a RADIUS function required for network authorization. The WhyFi card also contains different firmware that establishes similar DMZ and RADIUS functions though in this case they operate in an ad hoc network around your notebook or dektop.

Your incentive to operate a WhyFi hotspot is free service for you when you leave home. The hardware and software are free. There is no performance hit. And your WhyFi card gives you free unlimited access to the entire network through MAC address filtering. So while you don't make any money from the WhyFi network it also doesn't cost you anything to belong. " Money is made from subscribers who don't have a hotspot.   Will ISP's resist sharing of their connections?  Some will, but some already don't, and they will be the ones that will ultimately thrive.

  2:41:47 PM  permalink  


daily link  Thursday, January 08, 2004


Intel, HP chiefs warn that U.S. needs to improve research, education: "Craig Barrett, head of Santa Clara chipmaker Intel Corp., declared that the world had arrived at a rare "strategic inflection point" where nearly half its population -- living in China, India and Russia -- had been integrated into the global market economy, many of them highly educated workers "who can do just about any job in the world." "We're talking about 3 billion people," Barrett said, more than 10 times the U.S. population. "The U.S. has a very simple choice to make. We have to decide if we're going to be competitive with these markets." ..

Barrett insisted that Intel was "still making massive investments in the U.S.," but he noted that jobs at these new facilities require two years of college "just to walk in the door. The infrastructure and education requirements of those jobs is forever increasing."

[HP's] Fiorina warned the United States risked losing its lead in high-end products as well. "It's interesting to me that so many people talk about China or India or Russia as being a source of low-cost labor," Fiorina said. "Truthfully, over the long term, the greater threat is the source of well-educated labor. And if you look at the number of college-educated students that China graduates every year, it's close to 40 million. The law of large numbers is fairly compelling."

Fiorina and Barrett said the United States must make a strategic choice to increase its competitiveness before it wakes up one day and finds it's too late. They outlined a list of objectives, including a doubling of federal spending on basic research in U.S. universities. Barrett derided Washington's decision to spend as much as $40 billion a year on farm subsidies and just $5 billion on basic research in the physical sciences. "I have a real degree of difficulty with the fact that we are spending some five to eight times as much on the industry of the 19th century than we are on the industry of the 21st century," Barrett said.

The executives also urged a national broadband policy to allow more homes and businesses to quickly take advantage of high-speed data networks, much as Japan and Korea have done. They also called for dramatic improvements in K-12 education in the United States, saying schools act more to block budding math and science students than to foster them. "

Average programmer salaries were compared in the article as

  • US: $60,000 - $80,000
  • Canada:  $28,174
  • China:  $8,952
  • India:  $5,880 - $11,000
  2:43:04 PM  permalink  

Wi-fi and the future of wireless: Good, well-informed intro to wifi hot spot markets.  Excerpts:

  • Some 20 percent of homes broadband now have WLANs too.
  • Limousines are offering wi-fi service for customers on the go
  • Cerritos, Calif., a Los Angeles suburb, plans to become one big wi-fi hotspot by placing transmitters all over the town of 51,000 residents.
  • Even the question of powering up unplugged devices is solvable. [MIT's David]Reed sees a time when they could operate "parasitically by living off the radio waves of things that happen to be plugged into the wall."
  • Others envision wi-fi transmitters embedded in every power strip in an office, making a whole company one big hotspot.

  11:13:02 AM  permalink  


daily link  Wednesday, January 07, 2004


PicoPoint: "PicoPoint provides complete back-office solutions for Wireless ISPs (WISPs). GateKeeper, PicoPoint’s state-of-the art management platform, provides 24/7 back-office services for WISPs, but also for Property Chains that wish to act as a WISP themselves. The professional back-office services for WISPs are complemented by partnerships with industry leaders to provide a complete wireless broadband access solution. Through PicoPoint's global partnerships with Mobile Network Operators and ISPs, usage on Hotspots is guaranteed.  PicoPoint is one of the founding members of the Global Broadband Internet Access (GBIA) network"  5:11:10 PM  permalink  

GBIA - Global Broadband Internet Access: "GBIA represents worlds’ largest international roaming network of independent Public WLAN providers. Through roaming, users can get connected at Public WLAN Hotspots using account information provided by their service provider as the basis for authentication. Charging for the service can be integrated into their regular bill, simplifying administration and delivering an experience equal to using the mobile phone on a different network: it just works." Their current network providers include Surf & Sip, the Dutch PTT, and hotspots in odd places like Poland, Tanzania, and Kuwait.  Current total about 1900.  5:06:54 PM  permalink  


daily link  Friday, January 02, 2004


Boost for rural UK broadband: "Just before Christmas, the Department of Trade and Industry said it would let internet service providers and community groups use the 5.8Ghz Band C spectrum. .. The Ministry of Defence had resisted opening up the spectrum because it has radar systems operating in Band C of the 5GHz part of the spectrum.

As from 5 January, groups can apply for licences to use the radio frequency from the new communications regulator, Ofcom. The fees have been kept deliberately low, with a cost of £1 per net terminal, subject to a minimum of annual charge of £50. "

  9:31:23 AM  permalink  

Copyright 2005 © Ken Novak.
Last update: 11/24/2005; 11:30:35 PM.
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