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It seems we have science every day here, but even so.
Let's talk Titan.
Titan has been a favorite of science fiction writers for many years now, ever since we got to the Moon (finding it empty) and got satellites next to Mars (finding it nearly empty). It was far, far away, there were hints of water.
Just for fun, I found this list of Titan-themed SF. Some hightlights:
So what's the real story?
On the whole, the year's political advertising has been unusually permission-based.
If you're not interested in the race you can generally ignore it. Ads on general interest sites are generally discrete.
Spammers have used the candidates in phishing and malware plots, using polls or candidate's names. I've only gotten one political spam in the last few weeks that I can recall, and that from a group unaffiliated with either side but boosting GOP candidates (with false claims, I should add).
But does this go over the line? eWeek reports (through Political Wire) that a conservative lobbying group (and, eWeek notes but Taegan Goddard leaves out) the Democratic National Committee have both bought targeted streams on AOL's Instant Messenger, with ads playing inside the AIM windows of broadband users.
The question is, however, what have you been seeing?
It's smelling like a political campaign.
Linux this week is undergoing a full-on FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) attack.
Under our clothes we're all naked.
Really. All of us. Doesn't matter how you bundle up. Under your clothes there's nothing but skin.
Somehow this manages to shock teenagers, especially male ones. Remember all that sniggering over "x-ray sunglasses?" (Ladies, just think of your little brothers, or your friends' little brothers.)
Well now, they're real. Vodafone is shocked, shocked, that Japan's sexually-repressed boob-heads are buying the device, popping it on their camera phones, and, well, sniggering at the results.
Adolescence is the universal language.
I'm sure it was written before the Red Sox played St. Louis last night, because otherwise the author's fingers would have been shaking too much for the story to be as clear as it is.
But Robert Weisman, in his zeal to give props to a local vendor, falls down on his understanding of what Ember is doing and how Always-On applications must reach the market.
Ember, as regular readers of this blog know, uses Zigbee. Zigbee is a very low-power, relatively low-bandwidth technology. Zigbee, known the IEEE geeks as 802.15.4. may or not prove relevant as Always-On develops. For now its only proven applications are in factories, where it can be used to control things like oil refineries.
In other words, it's very expensive, and takes a very long time, to develop a Zigbee application, although the results can be very powerful for your bottom line.
Unfortunately that means Zigbee is not the "Internet of Things" Weisman touts it as. It could become that, but first it must clear some big challenges:
I spent 90 minutes at the local courthouse the other day, waiting on line to vote. For me the election is over.
So I hope you don't mind if I spend a few moments this morning theorizing about what happened, and why.
U.S. MMS interoperability is coming.
This is something people in other countries take for granted. You have a picture or audio file, you want to get it to someone who uses another network, you send it. They play it. No problem. (This particular image of MMS interoperability in action is from Russia.)
That's not the way it works here, where each network has its own technical standards, its own software standards, and its own bureaucratic gatekeepers.
Amazingly, this week's announcement is not the solution. It's an announcement that says folks are going to work toward a solution.
Yet they trumpet it like it's peace in our time. Amazing.
Michael Thomas launched a company some time ago to push the use of nanoelectronics in data storage. Hence its name: Colossal Storage Corp. (The image is from the company's Web site.)
Al Shugart is on his board, so you know these are serious storage folks.
For months he's been talking about 3.5 inch removable disks storing 10 Terabytes each. Blu-Ray disks, the most effective CD-type technology out there, can currently store, at most, 50 Gigabytes, so we're talking about improvements of nearly three orders of magnitude.
But it turns out the technology he's worked on can also be applied to displays.
When my wife first got her current job, as a programmer at a local transaction processor, she said she enjoyed it because her computer "actually does something."
Fact is that operating systems, by themselves, do nothing. They are a platform on which you build programs that actually do things.
This remains the biggest challenge faced by open source.
One big argument against "community policing" was that cops would "go native," favoring the interests of the neighbors over those of the law, and the force.
It's also a big sign held up against journalists. No dancing with wolves.
Stewart's Clue, named after Daily Show host Jon Stewart, holds that you can get away with truth if you say you're just trying to be funny.
An election with an incumbent is easier on voters. And hopefully this will encourage some of you to show up.
Because next Tuesday you all get to play Donald Trump.
Following publication of an interview with Linux Times, much attention is being paid to Linus Torvald's description of "Desktop Linux" as being alive and well.
Hurd, the GNU attempt to completely replace the Unix kernel, is Dead On Arrival.
As usual, Linus didn't play the Microsoft game and just assert it. He explained what he meant by that provocative statement:
Yesterday I described how Linux users were getting some of the "love" from hackers and malware enthusiasts Windows users have grown accustomed to. (And we're increasingly seeing real exploits of Linux flaws.)
In news that, as you can see, has spread from India to here in a great big hurry, we learn that Version 2.6 of the Linux kernel has a flaw that could be exploited to create a Denial of Service (DOS) attack against your system.
Now that I have your attention, we have some good news and some bad news:
Nokia's Preminet is a direct lift from Brew's business model. It solves a lot of problems, but leaves some intact.
The idea is to simplify how developers get their products certified, marketed, and paid for. All good. But there's one big problem that isn't addressed.
Here are some of the questions you might ask if you're a mobile phone user:
Intel is trying to buy a wireless Clue.
That's the story it's telling by investing in Craig McCaw's Clearwire.
The deal, announced at the CTIA's San Francisco conference, is that Clearwire will use Intel WiMax gear and, in exchange, Intel will invest in Clearwire. Essentially Clearwire gets the gear for stock.
Of course there's more to it than that.
Here's a tipping point for you.
U.S. spending on wireless services, per-household, now exceeds that on wired telephone services.
TNS Telecoms says that in the second quarter of 2004 30% of the telecomm dollar went to wireless, 29% to wired telephony. The average monthly budget for telecomm services stands at $158.88.
Where did the rest of the money go? Video and Internet services -- you know, the cable guy and your ISP.
SBC has taken another step in its plan to have Wi-Fi "embrace and extend" its monopoly.
The next step, assuming this deal brings in big bucks, is to extend the "bargain" to all Cingular customers.
Of course you are wondering, I'm certain, why the tone here sounds cynical?
Cingular's deal to buy AT&T Wireless is going through.
There will be some caveats. The Justice Department wants Cingular to sell assets in 16 markets. The FCC will add a few more.
But it's all over but the shouting. The official announcement should come at any time.
The Wi-Fi Alliance certified some dual-band Wi-Fi and cellular product, but also issued an interesting warning to unnamed vendors. (I'll name one -- Broadcom.)
The press release is specific. "The Wi-Fi Alliance will revoke the Wi-Fi certification of any product with claims of IEEE 802.11n capabilities if that product is proven to adversely impact the interoperability of other Wi-Fi CERTIFIED products."
But you may have already seen the loophole...
I'm going to begin working soon on a new blog about open source (a formal announcement will come in the fullness of time) but meanwhile here's an important point.
As Linux grows in popularity it is becoming heir to all the ills that plague Microsoft.
Exhibit A is a so-called e-mail from email@example.com, which claims to be an important update but is in fact a phishing scam. (Real Red Hat alerts come from firstname.lastname@example.org and carry digital security.)
Be careful out there. At minimum more careful than the average Windows user.
Everyone thinks they know Moore's Law. (At least everyone who reads this blog should.)
The number of circuits that can be drawn on a given piece of silicon doubles every 18 months or so. (And that's its author, Gordon Moore, to the left. Note the high forehead, a sure sign of fierce intelligence and handsomeness.)
Or, to put it Dana's way, things get better and better faster and faster.
But we also need to remind ourselves of Moore's Second Law, which follows directly from his first and which may (fortunately) apply only to silicon.
The cost of doubling circuit density increases in line with Moore's First Law. In other words, when you go from 1 billion circuits on a chip to 2 billion, the cost of developing the plant to produce that latter chip also doubles.
This is now starting to bite Intel.
Yahoo bought a second e-mail technology company. Speculation is they're going to roll out a competitor to Google's Gmail, one offering users more control over e-mail from multiple accounts.
That would be a good thing.
But there's a larger point to be made from all this, about how Google and Yahoo do business.
Better yet, it turns Jerry Van Dyke (pictured, from his show "My Mother the Car,") into Arthur C. Clarke.
I mean, really. An underpowered PC in your Hummer, with Bluetooth and a GPS receiver? Peter Wengert of Microsoft told News.Com about applications like finding cheap gas, because the GPS receiver would have your location.
But if you just look under the hood here, you're going to find something really cool.
American analysts are constantly trying to determine what will jump-start the mobile payments industry.
All sound good, but the killer app will automate the purchase of something everyone wants and uses, then give us the opportunity to expand that system into other areas, and into all sorts of price points. How about something like, say, parking.
I would much rather see Jeff Hawkins of Palm Computing fame making the future than commenting on it, but his past role in making it does make his comments more important.
Actually he has a whole book of comments coming out, called On Intelligence, and Amazon says it will be released Monday.
He talked to Business Week recently as part of his book promotion tour. Here is some of what I distilled. .
As a German-American I often ask myself, How did Hitler happen?
I'm thrilled to welcome our first major advertiser to Mooreslore -- Orb Networks.
Orb is a unique product that combines the best in Web, software, and mobile technology. You download the program, index all devices linked to your PC, and then get a Web client through which you can reach it all quickly and easily.
All sorts of devices can be indexed by Orb, including cameras and a DVR. You can then access the browser from any of those devices.
Everything together, instantly. Give Orb a try. It's free for two months. Let me know how much you like it.
Don't get me wrong. I love the idea behind TV-B-Gone, a tidy little invention that runs through hundreds of codes for shutting down sets remotely and, eventually, does just that.
The device fits on the end of a keychain and can be slipped back in the pocket after it's used. (Image from Gizmodo.)
God knows there have been many times when I've entered the locker room at my local YMCA, heard some unpleasant show blaring, and wished I had one.
But there is going to be trouble.
Camera phone makers today are trying to one-up one another in what I call the Megapixel Wars.
Now, how are we going to get these lovely pictures off these phones, what's it going to cost me, and what will the gimmick cost me in terms of camera features I can't get when the camera is stuck to a telephone?
I get it. You can put a very high resolution phone inside a camera. You can put that camera inside a phone. The question is, why do I want one?
These are real questions that real customers are going to ask. Are retailers prepared to answer them? Are they prepared to support these cameras?
I didn't think so.
Every former chairman of Intel becomes, by definition, an elder statesman. Gordon Moore and Andy Grove have done us proud.
Craig Barrett (pictured, from the News.Com story) aims to do equally well. And he's off to a fast start, as he told a recent Gartner conference what interests him:
"You would like to think that public leaders are statesmen and have the country's best interests at heart," Barrett said. "We spend $25 billion on agriculture subsidies a year. Yet we spend $5 billion a year on basic research and engineering. Do you think agriculture is the industry of the future? You would like your government leaders to stand up and say something about that. I would like them to stand up and say something about it."
Amen and godspeed, Doc.
Intel's move to slash laptop chip prices in time for Christmas means two things.
Intelligence comes from data collection and data analysis. With the Internet creating a gusher of data on everyone and everything, that last is becoming harder. (The Spy vs. Spy game shown is available at Amazon.com.)
Thus we have what Charles Cameron of the OJR today calls Open Source Intelligence. This has nothing to do with Linux. Instead it's the fact that, as Rep. Rob Simmons wrote in a recent OSS paper (warning, this link is to a large .RTF file read in Word):
as much as 80 percent of the intelligence required to support informed policy-making is available via open-source channels
What this means for our intelligence agencies is revolutionary.
The Age of Robotics is finally about to begin.
This is the conclusion of a United Nations study, whose census indicated there were 607,000 domestic robots in use at the end of 2003, 570,000 lawnmowers and 37,000 vacuum cleaners. (The illustration is from the adventures of Hubie and Bertie, two of the lesser-known Warner Brothers characters.)
But the prediction was pretty grand:
By the end of 2007, some 4.1 million domestic robots will likely be in use, the study said. Lawnmowers will still make up the majority, but sales of window-washing and pool-cleaning robots are also set to take off, it predicted.
In other words, general purpose "mechanical men" are still a long way off. We're building a host of small machines geared to specific tasks, something more of a Chuck Jones future than an Isaac Asimov one.
But that's OK too.
I'm a big Marlee Matlin fan. I really love her latest film, the highly-recommended What The Bleep Do We Know. (Image from Washington University of St. Louis, where you'll meet other deaf celebrities.)
But I can't call her to congratulate her because, as everyone knows, she's deaf.
Now this is not a huge problem. We have TDD phones. And the Internet remains very friendly to those who communicate with text. (I must admit I need to work on my signing.)
What does this have to do with the technology I cover? A lot, really. Marlee and I could text message one another if U.S. networks used the same underlying technology -- but they don't.
There's a lot of talk, around the world, about combining Wi-Fi and mobile on a single handset.
Hewlett-Packard is just one of many companies working on hardware that works on such converged networks.
But what about the networks these new devices will run on?
The Register has an interesting story today pointing toward an audacious strategy by two Bell companeis, SBC and BellSouth, to dominate the wireless future through their jointly-owned Cingular unit.
The strategy combines current efforts by SBC, AT&T Wireless and BellSouth's MMDS spectrum, which is close to the unlicensed 2.4 GHz 802.11 frequency range but was sold by the government in the 1990s, originally for wireless cable.
Here are the elements:
A study by the Dutch group Bits of Freedom indicates the method being used by copyright owners to police the Internet may be more vulnerable than a hanging chad. (Image from Wood, Ngo and Eisenberg, copyright attorneys.)
In the study, the group posted a non-copyrighted work on 10 Web sites. They created an imaginary society to claim copyright. They then sent "take-down" notices to the ISPs, using a free Hotmail account. Seven of the 10 took the sites down, most within hours.
Sounds good, right? Wrong.
While in Redmond early this year I learned a little secret.
If you want Bill Gates to take an idea seriously, you build four slides (don't worry if they're busy), stick them on one sheet of paper, and get that paper in front of him.
That's how Microsoft makes a decision, and if you think about it, it makes some sense. Is the proposal clear, is it clean, is it complete? Put it on just four slides and you can probably tell at a glance.
Well, that's kind of the idea behind the film TimeCode. Which is why I recommend it to Microsofties. (Send me your reviews.)
My take follows:
The big trend of the next year is going to be mobile phones entering the computing mainstream.
You've heard this before from me. But now the evidence is piling up. Following are just a few of the stories that hit my inbox over the last few days. Read them closely, and see if you don't agree with me:
Here's another way in which Moore's Law is taking us to amazing places.
It's here, from a company called ZCorp. in Burlington, Massachusetts.
But wait, there's more.
Philips has developed Always-On underwear.
The shorts monitor your heart and warn emergency services of a change in the heart rhythm. It can make this connection through a built-in GPS system with mobile phone. And for you ladies there's the Electric Bra (pictured).
This is similar to the MyHeart project, which is putting the sensors in shirts.
It's the kind of medical application of Always-On I've been looking to see for some time. But I've got a few problems with it:
Germany has begun requiring registration and taxation of all Internet users.
Ostensibly this is an extension of TV license fees, paid on behalf of state broadcasters ARD and ZDF, and enforced by a board called the GEZ.
Users must register all their PCs by the end of March, then pay about 17 Euros per month per unit, offset by proof they've registered TV sets and radios.
The government promises mobile phones will be next.
Anyone want to question again why Germany's vaunted technology prowess is drying up?
The folks at SBC (and T-Mobile) continue to make happy talk about linking Wi-Fi to mobile.
I think it's just that, talk. SBC thinks that, by grabbing commercial real estate for paid Wi-Fi it can negate the technology's big advantage. By claiming user benefits for it, the company may also pick up a bit of market share from Verizon Wireless.
But if you're just talking voice, the advantages of a Wi-Fi-mobile link are nonsense. And they're especially nonsensical for a phone company.
Part of me understands why churches and others would want to jam mobile phone signals. They want your attention, clear and undivided. (That's the old West End Church in Atlanta. Read more about it here.)
This is why, when my wife was on jury duty recently, the judge actually confiscated all the jurors' mobile phones. She was demanding peoples' attention.
Of course, there are lots of other ways in which people can ignore their preachers. They can play video games. They can read. They can nod off.
But there is another reason why I am certain this will be a short-term phenomenon...
The big news coming out of Intel's developer conference is they're abandoning Moore's Law.
Nothing could be further from the truth, of course. But that's how the SCCM (So-Called Computer Media) or (if you're conservative) the MCM (Mainstream Computer Media) has it. And if Intel were running for something (which it is, namely your money) it has some explaining to do.
Now you may call this nuanced, but it's just the straight facts. There's more to Moore's Law than clock speed. Truth to tell there is more to Moore's Law than chip count. Yes, that was the focus of Moore's 1964 article, but the man was writing about the challenges of his time, he wasn't trying to be Nostradamus. (If he were, he wouldn't have written so plainly.)
After 25 years of cable I'm finally getting a dish.
Comcast has been tossing me price increases for years, but the latest back-door price increase will send my bill way north of $60/month. If I were using cable broadband I might think differently, but...
So I went to the store, and I learned something about Moore's Law. It works. Mass production and better electronics means you can buy a dish and install it yourself for just $50. A version with a DVR (like a TiVo) on it costs just $50 more.
But there's a problem...
As we enter the home stretch (yay!) some more points about how technology is changing politics. (Images from the Presidential Market.)
The technology has been around for years. The commissioners are now patting themselves on the back, telling each other how pro-competitive they are.
No. They are not.
UPDATE: One more favor department. The FCC today also let phone companies keep competitors entirely out of "fiber-to-the-curb" systems, reversing years of previous precedent. Competition? Public interest? Pfah!
But back to the powerline decision.
Over at Wired, Adam Penenberg (left, by Richard Dean, from Penenberg's own site) complains that the FTC is doing nothing about click fraud, the false generation of clicks on ads meant to generate revenue on the advertisement without generating anything for the advertiser.
It's a big problem, a growing problem, but the answer doesn't lie in government. It lies in the medium, in free enterprise. In this case, it lies with Google.
Wireless broadband, defined under the 802.11 Wi-Fi and 802.16 Wi-Max standards, is at a crossroads.
Will it become ubiquitous or will it remain, as it was intended to be, a Local Area Networking technology? (That's a Wi-Fi LAN access point to the right.)
SBC sees Wi-Fi as a route toward dominance over its cellular competitors (like Verizon). It wants to combine its paid FreedomLink hotspots with its Cingular cellular service. (T-Mobile has the same idea.) But the actual cost of setting up a hotspot continues moving toward zero, and the financial value of a hotspot seems to be limited to a meal or a cup of coffee. Given a choice between free and paid hotspots, people will choose free.
WanderPort sees Wi-Fi as fill-in capacity, something you can put on a truck to deliver broadband where it's needed. Agere is moving away from stand-alone Wi-Fi toward Wi-Fi as a voice service, integrated with cellular into one seamless whole.
They've got one Clue right, but there are many steps yet to come before they come close to a profit. The price needs to come down (way down), the service area has to grow (roaming agreements) and (most important) sign-up must become virtually automatic. Until that happens this will be a money pit for anyone who gets into it.
There is a myth in the U.S. that innovation is mainly driven by a desire for money.
The big news that mobile phone waves can cause cancer (if the power is high enough, if you use it enough, if you consider a benign tumor as cancer) represents a huge opportunity for the mobile industry to improve itself. (Image from Apple, via Chaosmint.)
How? By replacing the phone in the ear with an earpiece, by placing the phone itself in a shirt pocket, coat or purse, by separating the interface from the device.
Once you do that you can add power to the device without compromising performance. You can add storage, you can add programs, you can make the thing anything the consumer wants. (Remember the consumer?)
After all the rumors about Google bringing out its own browser (Google FUD, who knew?) we finally found out what software the gnomes were creating over at Google Labs (where the future is being made today).
It's Google Desktop.
Google Desktop is an application (currently only for high-end Windows machines with 128 Mbytes of memory) that turns Google's search algorithms loose on your home PC.
It takes just a minute or two (on a broadband connection) to download it, and the installation takes care of itself. Then you need to wait several hours (you get to use your PC during this time) while Google Desktop indexes everythong you have.
But how does it work?
Corante is taking it to the next level. We're going to be doing more marketing, we're going through a redesign, and we hope to bring in advertisers who will keep this candy store operating.
Turns out our timing is pretty good. Whats New Online says blog advertising is efficient, powerful, and good for you, too.
Who am I to argue? Following the fold is what we in the journalism business call the "nut graph:"
Remember all that nonsense about cellular phones causing cancer?
Unlike previous scares, this is a real scientific study, funded by the industry, and conducted by an independent, scientific group. But before we all panic let's get a few facts straight, shall we?
A Swedish study finds an elevated risk of a benign tumor, called an acoustic neuroma, in people who have had analog cellular devices for at least 10 years.
Russell Beattie (pictured) thinks he's figured out what mobility needs.
Syncing. That is, we need to be able to synchronize what's on our mobile devices with what's on our home PC, our PDA, and the network as a whole.
He calls this the "killer app" for mobility.
Russell's article is long and recommended, but let me tell you what I think.
The big problem for 802.11 is backhaul, always backhaul. Even an 802.16 Wi-Max backhaul takes time to set up, especially if you're hundreds of miles away from a fiber and need multiple hops.
It's a trailer with a generator, a satellite dish, and an 802.11 access point. Drive it up to your location (say, a volcano), point the antenna toward your satellite backhaul, and everyone in the area can now get broadband Internet service from your location.
I deeply resent instant analysis of Presidential debates.
It's not a boxing match. No one has been, or ever will be, knocked out.
It's more like dueling experiences, that you need time to measure in your mind, as you would two CDs. It needs time to marinate, like ceviche or kimchee or sauerbraten. Your patience will be rewarded.
But if you want my own opinion...
There is something to be said for the concept of a career criminal.
That is, there are some people who just have a criminal mindset, who will always look to cheat people, or steal from them in some way, and jails exist to keep such people out of sight.
The business world has a variant, people who have what I call a "sucker mentality." That is, consumers are rubes, you don't have to provide them value for money, just get into their pockets, use their greed against them, or make them pay you to sell them. Suckers.
This is the attitude of Sanford Wallace. (The picture is from a 1997 interview.) In my opinion, allowing such people to call themselves "small businessmen" puts all business in disrepute.
My word for them is thieves.
Most major media companies today are trying to incorporate blogging into what they do.
They are finding it exceedingly difficult.
That's because good blogging comes from passion. It's spontaneous. The best media efforts I've seen so far have lived in one of three categories:
Personally I don't know why those who build Wi-Fi networks automatically think of voice as an application. Voice, after all, uses very little bandwidth.
But they do. And they're going to think of it a lot more, with news that Broadcom is releasing a voice chipset for Wi-Fi. (Pictured is a WiFi phone I found on a German site.)
This is important for two reasons:
The folks at eBay have made a basic mistake with Paypal. (Image from the BBC.)
They have treated it like a regular Internet company, and it's not.
It's a bank.
And online banking is very, very hard. The headline writers got a taste of this over the last week, when a software upgrade caused Paypal to hiccup mightily.
But the problem goes much deeper.
Earlier today I did a piece on plastic antennas. Apparently I missed what is taking place in batteries:
Fuel cells, high-power batteries, fiber batteries and other power technologies are about to transform mobile computing, essentially untethering it completely from the need to plug-in. This is according to Lawrence Dubois of SRI International.
(This battery recharger is available at 88-factory Discount Outlet.)
In today's world you go into a meeting room and hunt for a power plug if you're using a laptop. You worry about your PDA making it on a cross-country flight, and if you forget the re-charger cable for your mobile phone a long business trip is ruined.
That's going to change. Here's how:
It seems unnecessary, but 802.11n gear is already coming out. (Image from CompUSA.Com.)
Belkin has apparently jumped the gun this time, recognizing that those companies which used Broadcom chips to jump the 802.11g standard's finalization grabbed big chunks of the market, while those who waited for the standard to come final were left fighting for crumbs.
The 802.11n specification will allow wireless local networking speeds of 100 Mbps or more, and while that sounds cool remember that few people have backhauls running faster than 1.5 Mbps.
So far, nothing comparable is happening in the U.S.
The time has come to ask why.
You may think I credit Moore's Law with just about everything. Maybe I do.
But compute power makes many things possible. It accelerates the pace of all types of change. Even in materials science.
So here we have Integral Technologies and its conductive plastic ElectriPlast antenna. Plastic that conducts like metal means lighter conductors that can be molded into any shape. So we're talking about more than just antennas here.
To get signals past German jammers, Lamarr and composer George Antheil proposed that both ends of a call use synchronized piano rolls to hop among frequencies. The hopping would seem random to someone who didn't have the music, and the message would get through.
This turned out to be the most efficient way to send data over a given piece of spectrum. Replace the piano rolls with computers and the improvements are in line with Moore's Law. CDMA is based on this principle. So is Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM), which is used in 802.11g Wi-Fi.
Now Flarion is bring this to cellular and it's won the cooperation of Siemens in that effort. If they can sell systems to cellular carriers, it means you'll get something resembling true broadband speed on your mobile. And, as the power of mobiles increases, they will be part of the computer mainstream.
Thanks again, Hedy. (Loved you in Boom Town, playing a smart career woman rather than the bimbo the moguls preferred you as.)
At a recent Mobile conference in the United Kingdom David Wood (pictured), executive vice president for research at Symbian (a small kernel OS maker for mobiles) brought two slides that really show you what Moore's Law means.
NOTE: The above paragraph originally said the conference was in England, but Chris Potts corrected me. Also, the folks at Semacode deserve credit for extracting the slides and pointing them out to us.
First was a chart tracking the cost of making a smartphone over time, going back two years and forward six. (These are PDF files.) Despite the fact they're getting a lot better, they're also getting cheaper -- the bill of materials cost could be cut in half in four years.
How is this possible?
Outsourcing. It's not just for Americans.
Yonhap News reports that Korea's LG Electronics (old-timers remember it as Lucky Goldstar) is going to build its next mobile handset plant near New Delhi, in India.
In a previous life I did some work for Intel's mobile and wireless folks. One thing I learned is they were inherited from Motorola and are based in Chandler, Arizona, rather than in San Jose.
They're pretty easy to scam.
Rather than insisting on the Intel way, which is to define a robust, modular scalable standard that can handle multiple generations of product, these guys follow their competitors' rules. They essentially beg manufacturers to take their products, then trumpet the announcement like it's a big deal when, in fact, it's not. Just beause the maker of a mobile product decides they'll try your stuff doesn't mean they're committing to it -- they commit to what sells.
What are the true facts?
A new mobile phone called Baby Phat sports a pink case, a quilted texture, and .4 carats of real diamonds, all for $700.
Inside it's a Motorola i833 with service from Nextel. (Thanks to Dailygadget, which also had the picture, for the pick-up on this story.)
The designer is Kimora Lee Simmons (Mrs. Russell), and the phone itself will be available exclusively at Bloomingdale's, and at the designer's own Baby Phat store in New York. (Oh, and if you think that makes this just a New York thing, please note that Federated has transformed Bloomingdale's into its upscale nameplate nationwide.)
The idea is to add some bling-bling to your mobile thing.
The idea is not Pfat. It's dumb.
Mike McCue of Tellme was treated like a loser in Ben Charmy's article about this, but what he said bears repeating: "The people building Net phones are tinkering as if they were old phone companies."
More precisely, I think, they're acting like cellular companies.
Russell Shaw pointed me toward a resource I hadn't seen before, which apparently keeps my golden oldies.
Highbeam Research is a paid site that defines itself as doing "research" but a lot of its stuff comes from the online world. This is not to insult the company. A lot of it comes from the OLD online world.
In the latest (fourth) edition of its Digital Future study (on PDF), USC's Annenberg School has discovered that people who use and trust the Internet don't get as much of their news from TV.
Given that three-quarters of us are now online, for an average of over 12 hours per week, this is no longer trivial.
Let's get the quotes right:
In Japan an outfit called Searchteria (sorry, this is a kanji link) is launching a keyword-based ad service that will do for mobile phone ads what Google's AdSense does for ads on the Web. (The illustration is actually a map of Japan's energy grid, from Bucky Fuller.)
Nate, an American-turned-Australian, frets that they're doing that "in hopes of using the technology to fend off threats from others."
UPDATE: Nate insists he's not fretting. "I'm just linking to an article," he writes. "I'm not "fretting" anything."
OK. But someone'e fretting. Must be someone in Silicon Valley, then. It's full of fretful folk. Here's why there's no reason neither Nate nor I think you should fret:
One of the great things about Moore's Law is that it's multi-dimensional. It's not just that things get better-and-better, faster-and-faster. It's that you can create new revolutions by combining existing ones. (As in this example, from XTalk.)
Here's what I'm talking about. I call these combo chips. We're talking here of chips for mobile phones and set-top boxes that include Digital Signal Processors, thus enhancing the underlying product.
Send an SMS message to 46645 (that's GOOGL on your mobile keypad) and you'll get snippets of data from your local area. Full instructions are at http://sms.google.com and the current beta works only in the U.S.
This brain drain may be the most startling economic event of the last four years, and one of the most damaging in the long run.
Florida's original book, published in 2002, said that attracting creative, motivated professionals to a city was the key to economic growth. Such people are often accused of wealth and guilty of education. His Web site has a lot of background material, much of it in the form of attrractive charts.
Florida estimated there are about 38 million such people in the U.S. and said they are young, highly mobile, and attracted to exciting, tolerant places. A shortage of them can bury an economy over the long run.
The idea is that you click on one of several sound files and it appears you're where you said you would be, not where you actually are. Thus you can lie with impunity because the background noise backs you up. (Of course this won't work in the face of a photograph, but are you going to believe me or your lieing eyes?)
Thanks to Lance Knobel for the tip.
Does one of your credit cards carry the name of your college, a charitable group you support, or the name of your favorite sports team?
If so you are playing the "affinity marketing" game. Credit card companies like MBNA sign deals that give these affiliates tiny rake-offs on your charges, in exchange for using the affiliate's name to get your business.
John Naisbitt and a herd of library assistants basically looked at news stories from all over the world in order to divine underlying trends -- they extrapolated the recent past to describe the future.
He made a bundle.
The title of the piece is "Google With Judgement," a title suggested by McLean. What he does is monitor 7,000 political sources (probably everything with an RSS feed) in an attempt to catch trends before they start.
McLean is cagey on his specific methodology. He's trying to sell the process for big bucks to corporations that need to know what the market's thinking quickly enough to act on it. But it sounds like he's databased a bunch of feeds and learned to distill their meaning pretty accurately.
This is a political post that is non-political.
It's apparent that this Presidential race is close, and the result is riding on the debates.
This means all the money spent until now has not been decisive. It means people will listen to two men discuss the issues, and make a decision based on what they hear.
That's what democracy is about. So long as we get an open process, an honest debate, and a clear victory for one side or the other, I'm pretty happy. And I think you should be, too.
The wires are full of news that AT&T Wireless is opening a mobile music store.
It's a stunt.
For one thing, the only thing mobile about the store is the store. The product can only be downloaded to a PC. So what's the big deal -- they've made some store pages that you can access by phone? They have ordering through the phone?
If they're not selling a product for the phone it's not a breakthrough, it's a press release.
It's all part of a PR campaign to keep the AT&T Wireless name before the public so that, after Cingular finishes its acquisition of the company (probably early next year) they can then turn around and use the name to become a Sprint PCS re-seller.
And they talk about political reporters falling for spin...they've got nothing on the folks in our beat.
We get it that, with mobile area codes untethered to location, I may not know where you're really calling from.
But now I may not even know who you are, either.
From JIAHE comes a voice changing headset, which can actually change your voice from male to female, all off a set of controls hanging from the lanyard connecting the device from your ear to your phone.
JIAHE, by the way, is a district in China.
Hey, that's not the strangest cellular gimmick I've seen this week. Not even close. Hideto Tomabechi has a ringtone called "Rockmelon" which, he claims, can actually increase the size of a woman's breasts (without the woman actually having a baby).
If you ask me some Orientals are becoming awfully scrutable.
Finally, from Spain, something useful, a piece of software for Symbian phones (most of those made by Nokia and Ericsson, among others) that can magnify the text on the screen so you can actually read it. This is great. Now if we can get a screen I can see without squinting, that would be even better.
I'll bet you've been wondering to yourself, "Self, how can I keep up with Dana's great Mooreslore blog while I'm on the go?"
Well, Self (I can call you Self, sir or madam), we have just what you're looking for.
WinkSITE is an RSS reader for mobile phones (as well as PCs and PDAs) you can set up in three minutes, according to the company's Web site. Best of all, if you're using it as an individual, it's FREE.
So you need never again miss another episode of your favorite tech blogger (me) again.
Want to know more?
David Peskowitz over at The Feature wrote yesterday about how Always-On medical applications might be implanted in your skin.
He, however, was talking about a specific product. UbiMon, from UbiCare, a project of the Imperial College in London, is precisely the system I've described before, measuring heart function so that a "critical event" can be detected before it happens and kept from becoming a fatal event. (Image is from UbiCare.)
Over at The Feature, Mark Frauenfelder has an essay wondering whether mobile phones shouldn't have compasses. (Meanwhile, over at Woodshop.Com, Nils Alving produces wonderful wood inlays like this compass rose, which is Bubinga and Maple on Walnut and Cherry.)
Certainly phone compasses would be cheap to make. Much of Frauenfelder's story involves the technology that would be used to do it. And they would have a use, starting with making GPS more useful by telling you what direction you're headed into.
It's the commercial implications that have me scratching my head.
OK. We've got music players, we've got mobile phones, we've got game machines, we've got organizers.
They're all small, pocket sized. They all run different applications. They can't cross-over and run applications from any other category.
Question: Why? Why can't we have just one device that does all that, and maybe more?
Russell Beattie says a concept called Podcasting may be one step toward solving the problem.
Samsung will soon debut a five megapixel camera in one of its new mobile phones.
Problem is, what do you do with the file once you've got it?
The Moores Law improvements in mobile phone cameras are jumping far ahead of the networks used to move the files off them.
Already Asian operators are "locking down the phone," preventing the 2-3 megapixel cameras their phones contain from sending their stuff over their mobile network.
This is big news. And, for consumers, it's very scary indeed. My point today is it should be even more frightening for network operators.
There is a solution to the quandary operators now have over cameraphones.
Games can handle all the megahertz, megabytes and megapixels the coming camera phone technology can throw at them. And the network load from gaming can be quite modest since, in a role-playing game, you only transmit those bits necessary to describe changes in character or action.
This could also be the route Microsoft is looking for into the heart of the mobile market. Translating XBox games, even XBox online games, for a mobile platform could be very powerful.
Especially if simulations can be engineered that simulate the business conditions at work.
As it was at the Dawn of the Web, so it is today. Brands have a choice between posting their products with a carrier, putting it into distribution or going it alone.
MTV in the UK has decided on this last course and Mike Krisher has an analysis.
As more mobile phones run versions of Windows, as the Palm OS becomes more robust, and as hardware price-performance keeps improving in line with Moore's Law, mobile phones are pushing to become real computers. (Like the illustration? Buy it as a rug here. And it's on sale. Mooreslore looks out for you.)
But there's a downside.
Just as adults must accept more responsibility than kids, so a mobile phone that's a computer becomes vulnerable to the temptations of rogue code.
For those too innocent or too young to remember, the drummer in the movie "Spinal Tap" was always changing, while the rest of the band stayed the same.
Well, in an Administration noted for its stability, the Bush Administration has finally revealed who holds the drum kit -- it's the chief of cyberspace security.
What's next? (Image from the New York Times.)
There's a new search engine in town -- Clusty.
Clusty works by grouping similar references to a site and showing you the links to the left of your main results. In my case you see various aspects of my writing life on the left, and the most-popular links in the main table.
Will this give Google a run for its money? Can any search engine rise from the ashes and avoid selling-out to a larger rival? Time of course will tell.
Meanwhile, some other early observations:
The real problem with patent law is forum shopping.
Forum shopping is the only excuse I can come up for this, a decision in Rochester, New York saying Sun infringes on Kodak's patents with Java.
The claim in the patent is ridiculously overbroad. The idea that you patent one way for a program to request help of another and thus patent the whole concept is insane.
There is a reason why patent applications come with diagrams. That is you describe your mousetrap and that mousetrap is protected, but when someone builds a better mousetrap, even if they do it by improving on what you did, they get patent rights, too.
Only a hometown judge is going to disagree with the basic premise of patent law.
It's a problem I wish I had.
Internet old-timers are well-acquainted with the phrase "rushing to the rail." It happens when a Web site is deluged with traffic in the wake of a major news event. (Remember the Heavens Gate mess?) Sometimes the whole media decides you did something funny (Atom Films' "This Land").
The question is what do you do about it?
Here's something we need.
Think I'm kidding? Here's the entry form.
Good luck. And tell Mr. Spielberg I'm ready for my close-up.
In order to encourage the (then) nascent cellular industry 20 years ago Congress gave them the upper hand in any discussion of towers. (Here's an imaginative maker of towers, based in South Africa.)
I learned about this firsthand some years later when an AT&T representative told the Decatur, Georgia city council they wanted to put a tower near my house and there wasn't thing one we could do about it. The council members present reluctantly agreed.
So I piped up. There's a BellSouth training center across the street from this proposed tower, I noted. If they put up the tower it can be secured, it can be used for training, and you won't trash the neighborhood. That's where the tower wound up.