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

Ken Novak's Weblog


daily link  Monday, February 28, 2005


iPod Radio and Skype:  "This post provides a "how to" on creating a personal iPod Radio that you can use in your Skype calls or simply leave running for your friends to call. The implications are disruptive, and the "ease of use" likely to further Skype's adoption when solutions are available for effectively using Skype as a broadcast service. It's perfect for low volume delivery of recorded messages off websites. Perhaps another zone for convergence between music, media and voice?"  see also SkypeCasting: How to Record Skype Conversations  

This builds on Skype's low latency, its high quality (if higher-bandwidth) codecs, and its ability to run in several instances on a single desktop.  It's not just VOIP telephony, and beats streaming technology in having fast call setup and no server (being peer-to-peer). IP telephony seemed to me to be economically important but not functionally important, unless it could enable new functions.  Up to now, making your own conference calls, keeping a line open for long periods, or integrating with other collaboration tools were valuable, but relatively minor, new functions.  Skype's approach of adding high quality audio was intriguing ("the medium is the massage").  With recorded apps and closed user groups, we have SOIP, Sound over IP, with many apps, such as:

  • personal or party-sized radio
  • low-volume simulcast of events (I'd happily pay $5 to hear the music from my favorite jazz club when I can't make it; and I'd like to listen in on community or political meetings when I can't be there)
  • recorded announcements (school reports, ski reports)
  • intercom/surveillance:  listen in on microphones anywhere
  • PA systems:  make an announcement from your PC, or PDA
  • personal online dictation or transcription

Especially interesting is the ease of access from a telephone.  Motorola is adding Skype to mobile phone handsets, and third parties can give a public phone number address to an SOIP destination.  So any service you make on a PC can be accessed from phones, as well.  Carriers may now reuse the phone numbers that used to connect to modems and faxes, and can carry calls from conventional phones into the new applications.

As noted by former BT CTO Peter Cochrane, unbundled VOIP like Skype has become as practical for road warriors as modems did in the 90s, and the results may not be pretty for the phone carriers.  New applications may soften the blow a little.

  9:11:01 AM  permalink  


daily link  Friday, February 25, 2005


The Intimate Planet: Skype brings live conversations with strangers from around the world to John Perry Barlow.  He gets calls from a Vietnamese and a Chinese student practicing English, an Australian joking around; unmediated, no government minders, no commercial message (at least for now).  The free arrival of random voices, like meeting strangers on a train, carries a shock.  Like the first exposures to email and the web, the world comes even closer.  11:02:29 PM  permalink  


daily link  Thursday, February 17, 2005


O'Reilly: Open Source Paradigm Shift:  A restatement of Tim's thesis of the last few years.  Some points I want to remember: "My premise is that free and open source developers are in much the same position today that IBM was in 1981 when it changed the rules of the computer industry, but failed to understand the consequences of the change, allowing others to reap the benefits. Most existing proprietary software vendors are no better off, playing by the old rules while the new rules are reshaping the industry around them.

I have a simple test that I use in my talks to see if my audience of computer industry professionals is thinking with the old paradigm or the new. "How many of you use Linux?" I ask. Depending on the venue, 20-80% of the audience might raise its hands. "How many of you use Google?" Every hand in the room goes up. And the light begins to dawn. Every one of them uses Google's massive complex of 100,000 Linux servers, but they were blinded to the answer by a mindset in which "the software you use" is defined as the software running on the computer in front of you. Most of the "killer apps" of the Internet, applications used by hundreds of millions of people, run on Linux or FreeBSD. But the operating system, as formerly defined, is to these applications only a component of a larger system. Their true platform is the Internet. ..

Sites such as Google, Amazon, and salesforce.com provide the most serious challenge to the traditional understanding of free and open source software. Here are applications built on top of Linux, but they are fiercely proprietary. What's more, even when using and modifying software distributed under the most restrictive of free software licenses, the GPL, these sites are not constrained by any of its provisions, all of which are conditioned on the old paradigm. The GPL's protections are triggered by the act of software distribution, yet web-based application vendors never distribute any software: it is simply performed on the Internet's global stage, delivered as a service rather than as a packaged software application. ..

And the opportunities are not merely up the stack. There are huge proprietary opportunities hidden inside the system. .. We saw this pattern in the PC market with most PCs now bearing the brand "Intel Inside"; the Internet could just as easily be branded "Cisco Inside". ..

[On open source style collaboration as a generator of value:] those that have built large development communities have done so because they have a modular architecture that allows easy participation by independent or loosely coordinated developers. The use of Perl, for example, exploded along with CPAN, the Comprehensive Perl Archive Network, and Perl's module system, which allowed anyone to enhance the language with specialized functions, and make them available to other users. ..

an observation originally made by Clay Shirky in a talk .. entitled "Listening to Napster." There are three ways to build a large database, said Clay. The first, demonstrated by Yahoo!, is to pay people to do it. The second, inspired by lessons from the open source community, is to get volunteers to perform the same task. The Open Directory Project, an open source Yahoo! competitor, is the result. (Wikipedia provides another example.) But Napster demonstrates a third way. Because Napster set its defaults to automatically share any music that was downloaded, every user automatically helped to build the value of the shared database. .."

  12:09:29 PM  permalink  


daily link  Wednesday, February 16, 2005


FM radio from your PC: "PCI MAX 2005 is a computer card that will .. change your PC into a FM radio station. You will be able to play your audio files (CD, wav, MP3, real audio etc.) from your PC through radio waves directly to your household radio receiver in the next room, in the living room, across your yard, in whole block of flats....or for the entire village/small city. .. The included software (also available at the link below for a quick DL) lets you set the frequency and the output power. "  Discussion of alternative products on technocrat.net.  9:45:46 AM  permalink  


daily link  Saturday, February 12, 2005


dorkbot-sf: A local chapter of the international network of dorkbot groups, "people doing strange things with electricity."  Just in the last month in SF:  cool wierd constructions of robots, dystopian security systems, and real life laminar design tools for anyone to build the object they model in 3d in their computer.  Spime builders international.  (Thanks for the tip, Scott!)

  9:54:52 AM  permalink  


daily link  Monday, February 07, 2005


Sun Grid: $1/cpu-hour, with storage at $1/GB/month.  Maybe they have a future after all :)  12:12:32 AM  permalink  


daily link  Sunday, February 06, 2005


NexTag:  Interesting comparison shopping site, esp for used and refurb computer gear.  They show graphs of the price over the last few years, kinda like stocks except the slope is always sharply down... for example, an Acer Notebook.

  10:26:34 AM  permalink  


daily link  Saturday, February 05, 2005


Phone Scoop - database of cell phone specs & features: Nifty search & compare by carrier and many attributes of phones.  11:08:28 PM  permalink  

Copyright 2005 © Ken Novak.
Last update: 11/24/2005; 11:35:57 PM.
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