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English health experts are warning that over-use of the Blackberry for texting can lead to thumb pain.
Seriously. (My daughter failed to identify this anime nanny, but it's Hisu, Princess Allura's nanny on Voltron: Defender of the Universe. I was surprised, too -- I thought she had the cast list memorized.)
Fortunately, we have some other unofficial health warnings, from the home office:
Nicholas Negroponte is getting all sorts of attention for his plan to sell Linux PCs to the developing world at $100/each. (The picture is from the EnGadget story.)
Negroponte might respond he's bringing poor people the full world of the World Wide Web with his cheap box, but if it's the Web you want you need connectivity, not just a box, and getting to fiber in Niger is a little more difficult than getting to it from, say, Atlanta. (Or Abidjan for that matter.)
But there is one more big problem with this "great futurist's" vision.
It's practically here already.
Has Microsoft, and its ecosystem, built planned obsolescence into PCs so as to force upgrades?
I know this is tinfoil hat territory, but hear me out. (The tinfoil hat on the left is being modeled by Elizabeth Kramer of Pleasantville, NY, daughter of the blogger Kathlyn Kramer.)
In theory the MTBF (Mean Time Before Failure) of all PC hardware extends not years but decades. There is no theoretical reason for an old machine to stop working, and refuse repair.
Yet that's just what is happening here.
It started a year ago. My 6 year old Windows 98 machine started acting up, refusing to boot, and Scandisk just wouldn't complete. A big part of the problem, I concluded, was the Norton security system I had installed.
But PCs were cheap so I changed it out. I got me a new Windows XP set-up for about half the price I'd paid for the original box back in 1998, and felt like I'd gotten off cheap.
Texas Instruments is using only 40-bit cryptography on the RFID chips it sells for car locks, RFID tags, and things like toll booth passes.
There are caveats. You have to get a few inches from the car you want to steal to get the code. Then you have to spend time breaking the code and making your own key, which only lets you hotwire the vehicle. But the whole thing can be done in an hour, the students said, and the required technology could easily be put into a device the size of an iPod.
What does this mean?
This is the kind of story that warms the cockles, and hopefully makes today's Friday dog blogging feature make some sense. (Dogs are colorblind.)
It goes by the name of the Eyeborg (Adam's an inventor, not a marketer). It takes a picture of the scene with a digital camera, then translates the colors to sound with a computer program.
Best of all, the first one cost under $100 (well 50 pounds) to make.
But here's the really cool part.
Script Kiddie Jeffrey Parsons, who adapted the Blaster Worm to go after Microsoft's Windows update site, was sentenced to 18 months in a low security prison.
Prosecutors had asked for about three years.
Alan Reiter reports that Nokia will put cameras of at least 1 megapixel in fully half the phones it ships this year.
If the last several months proves anything, it is that there are many ways to grow in the cellular business. (Birthdaycraftsandsupplies.com offers a fine selection of Pinatas. Ask them to bring back the dollar sign one to the right. Don't you agree it looks cool?)
Assuming SBC does swallow AT&T (no doubt for less than BellSouth was offering earlier) would provide important lessons. (The image is from FreeBSD developer Greg Lehey, and was originally produced in 2002.)
First and foremost, it would be the murder of a great company by the government. It was government that broke up AT&T in the 1980s, and it was government that made AT&T non-competitive in our time.
Second, of course, it means that business tributes to the U.S. government are even more important than previously imagined. If the government can murder the nation's largest company (albeit over time and in chunks) it means no company is safe from a rapacious government, regardless of party. (Is is coincidence that AT&T was forced to divest during the Reagan Administration, and killed under Bush II? Check the campaign contribution files for the answer to that one.)
But wait, there are more lessons.
Word that mobile phone makers (and some networks) want to embed WiFi and VOIP into phones brings up a crucial point about the VOIP market, and about how technology works in general.
There are two major threads of VOIP software out there. Most, like Vonage, work along a standard. Then there's one who doesn't.
But that one is Skype.
Guess which of these two "standards" leads?
Skype. By a bunch. This puts another twist into the whole discussion of VOIP, and VOIP-cellular in general. Because there are multiple models to choose from:
NOTE: This is part of a continuing online novel. Here is the Table of Contents.
The America Diaspora is a sequel to The Chinese Century.
One big difference between IBM and Microsoft today is that, while both are filled with "high bandwidth" people, those at IBM seem to have a greater creative freedom.
This presses all kinds of buttons for me. I'm a Wolfram fan. I like open source (and IBM is still rumored to be working on an open source JDK). I like music. I love the link between science and art. And the idea of an engineer learning to play music (or tap dance) is also attractive. Something else to think about is how Reiners pushed most of his links into a resources sub-head at the bottom of the story.
Now where does this take us?
The Elliott Wave people ask, "Is the Greater Fool Era Ending?"
Here is proof. Strategy Analytics has recently published another of those truly loony market studies, this one claiming that mobile phone operators will lose $12 billion from broadband wireless over the next several years.
It's nonsense because its premise is false, namely that those profits are out there to lose.
Yes, it's possible that if WiFi and WiMax didn't exist that all broadband revenues would go to cellular. It's also true that if freeways didn't exist all inter-city traffic would be by railroad. But that does not mean I impute a loss of billions to the railroads.
In the U.S., the only excuse for regulating TV content is based on spectrum scarcity. Spectrum is scarce, it's licensed, and because of that there is a public interest test, which the agency sometimes uses to crack down on content.
Absent the excuse of spectrum scarcity, the only grounds for regulating TV content are based on the First Amendment. (The Hayes Office, which kept movies chaste for decades, was private regulation, not public.) This is not an absolute. Any conservative will tell you "obscenity is not protected," citing chapter and verse, calling in Ashcroft's Dogs of War.
The point is this is not the case outside the U.S. In England, for instance, TV content is regulated because, well, it's powerful. Thus dangerous. And so Oftel, the U.K's new "super-regulator," is sniffing around regulating the Internet.
Fortunately some there have a Clue.
Gary Wolf has a piece at Wired which had me shaking my head for some time.
Several folks have pointed me to it. It's an imagined memo, dated three years into the future, after Linus Torvalds has supposedly gone to work for Mr. Bill Gates.
The idea behind the imagined memo, something I've written about extensively recently over at ZDNet's Open Source, is based upon building a Linux desktop suite. Wolf's point, apparently, is that Microsoft moving to Windows isn't that far-fetched, that Steve Ballmer doesn't get it, and that Gates has the imagination to listen to the market rather than the yes-men in Redmond.
Well, yeah. But so what? Ain't gonna happen.
It seems that Barlow was recently jolted by a random Skype phone call from Vietnam. He got to know the caller well because she shared a wireless broadband connection with some neighbors. Thus he was able to talk with her, see her work, see her photos, to learn all about her, without leaving his desk in New York. Then he got a similar call from China, and later one from Australia.
Here's the bottom line:
One doesn't get random phone calls from Viet Nam or China, or at least one never could before.Skype changes all that. Now anybody can talk to anybody, anywhere. At zero cost. This changes everything. When we can talk, really talk, to one another, we can connect at the heart.
And there's more after the break.
Earthlink is teaming with SK Telecom of Korea to offer mobile phone service using the Verizon and Sprint networks.
By Always-On, of course, he doesn't mean what we mean here. He's talking about background programs that run whenever the computer is being used, such as security programs.
Coffee compares these programs to your staff. They're going around your PC doing their thing, and that's useful. But if employees aren't prepared to be interrupted by a higher-priority task, if they won't take direction in other words, you fire them.
Software programs don't always work that way. They have their own schedules to keep, and giga of hertz to go before they sleep. And giga of hertz to go before they sleep.
It's a good point. If programs are living in your memory they should be well-mannered. But I'd like to extend that point.
I wrote this for the GreaterDemocracyblog, but I'm also posting it here, because I can.
The software you have on your PC determines what you can do with it. The software a campaign or political movement uses reflects what it can do.
The biggest mistake Howard Dean made in his 2004 campaign wasnt his attacks on Gephardt, and it wasnt the scream. It was his softwares failure to scale the intimacy, to give the 1 millionth, or 10 millionth, campaign participant the same features, and the same sense of belonging, given the 10th and 100th.
Throughout the campaign, and even to this day, Dean and his Democracy for America have relied on Movable Type as their interface with supporters. MT is a good product, but its interactivity is limited. You enter an item on the blog, and comments flow from it in a straight line.
There may be a simple, quick, easy, and cheap answer to any problems from alleged mobile phone radiation.
Dr. Lawrie Challis says a simple ferrite bead, as small as 1 cm. in diameter, would do the trick, cutting radiation to the head down to almost nothing.
Of course, implementing the solution would be to admit to a problem. Admitting the problem would open up immense liability.
Thus does the cure become its own worst enemy.
I happened upon a sad case recently, a man named Jeff V. Merkey. (The image is from ScienceaGoGo, a great site for science lovers of all ages. The article is about how stress can be good for you.)
Merkey was once chief scientist at Novell, so hes not dumb. But hes also, well, a bit unusual.
From what I have seen I'd say hes paranoid (but I'm not a psychiatrist, and I didn't sleep in a Holiday Inn Express last night). He sees enemies everywhere (including on this blog), and always shoots his mouth off before asking questions.
He also has a rather cramped, and to my mind paranoid, view of copyright. (This is something I have real experience writing about.) He allegedly tried to hide his own work from his employer, Novell, leading to a 1997 lawsuit and a 1998 settlement. (That's public record.)
He hasnt changed. My story was his claim that all of Linux is dirty, filled with copyrighted material, and that the only way to protect it is with a clean version (that he writes) and a new license (that hes having written). To make everything crystal clear (to his mind) he wants the Cherokee Nation to oversee the licensing scheme. (He says he's a Cherokee.)
The significance of WiFi-cellular roaming doesn't lie in cutting voice costs. (The picture, by the way, comes from Novinky, a Czech online magazine, a story about DSL.)
The significance of WiFi-cellular roaming lies in Always On applications.
Think about it. Cellular channels are relatively low in bandwidth, WiFi channels are high in bandwidth.
Now, you're wearing an application, like a heart monitor. When you're at home, or in your office, this thing can be generating, and immediately disgorging, tons and tons of data, detailed stuff that may be fun for your doctor to analyze later.
I have talked about this before, but now everyone else is talking, too. So we will, again. (The picture, by the way, is of a single-chip radio from two years ago, a "mote" from Cal Berkeley. The link is very worthwhile.)
What does it mean for TI to make, and Nokia to sell, a complete cellular phone on a single chip? For one thing, it means phones can be one-chip cheap.
Right, cheap as chips.
The Administration has begun its campaign against Iran through infiltration (which it denies) and by trying to cut Iran's arguments off the Internet. (Picture from CNN.)
This is an immense favor, both to Iran and to the neighboring Arab world. It forces Iran to seek alternate Internet server access for its arguments, and it will. Maybe these will be in Bahrain or Dubai (I'm guessing the former). Maybe they will be in the Ukraine. Or Russia. Or China.
Two new Symbian (Nokia etc.) phone viruses, Gavno.a and b, masquerade as patches and render phones completely useless. Meanwhile an IM virus, Bropia.a, downloads a Trojan to infected Windows Messenger and MSN Messenger clients, which includes a keylogger and a IM spam (or SPIM) program.
A "blogger" named "Oscar" has dozens of blogs on Blogger, which seem to have no purpose other than to to churn out spam. (Like the image? It's from Rhetorica, which was talking at the time about comment spam.)
Blogger does have some fine features for the spammer. You can set it to e-mail everyone on a list whenever the blog is updated. So if you're a "master spammer" all the little spammers get the updated script simultaneously.
New entries also act as "RSS spam," as in this example, "Oscar's" cell phone "blog."
Google, which owns Blogger, is either blind or willfully complicit to what's going on here. (I'm guessing blind. It's a big virtual world out there, and Google does try to get things right.)
The more significant point is that what's going on is the systematic destruction of RSS as a medium for conveying thought. Already it's becoming impossible to maintain a "keyword" RSS feed. By that I mean that if I tell Newsgator, "send me everything on cellular," I'm going to get a lot of junk, not just from Oscar, but from direct sales sites, resume sites, and "wrap" sites, which place their ads around other sites' content and broadcast it via RSS. (What I need, Newsgator, is a way to create keyword-searches while at the same time blacklisting specific URLs -- then I wouldn't be able to write items like this one.)
But that is not all, oh no, that is not all. Because wherever crooks go unmolested, honest businesses are going to follow.
In all the great sci-fi written about Saturn's moon Titan, no one (to my knowledge) imagined a world where liquid methane carves the land as water does here. (The NASA image comes from Resa.Net.)
But that's just what Europe's Huygens probe has shown us.
It's a flammable world, but a beautiful one.
Here's the "money quote" from mission director Jean-Pierre Lebreton. "There are truly remarkable processes at work on Titan's surface and in the atmosphere of Titan which are very, very similar to those occurring on Earth."
Which leads to some nasty environmental speculation.
I've been re-reading the last in Harry Turtledove's Worldwar series, called Homeward Bound, and I'm once again struck by the similarities between the U.S. military in Iraq and the Lizards of the story.
The Lizards (not to give the story away) invade Earth i 1942, at the height of World War II. They have the weapons of 2000, Earth has what it had. The overall theme of the piece (which has now run into its seventh 500-page book) is human ingenuity vs. reliance on technology.
I don't know what they're thinking with this latest battle robot. (The picture, which I'm confident betrays no military secrets, is from the BBC.) But I'm pretty certain we're going to have some captured, disabled electronically and then grabbed under covering fire. The wireless link between the operator and the bot is the weak link.
And what happens then?
Guillaume Tena of Harvard is being threatened with the charms of a French jail cell for having written-up a list of flaws in a French anti-viral product three years ago.
Tegam International, which makes something called Viguard, called Tena a "terrorist" after he published his analysis of their product in March 2002 and a French court is apparently dumb enough to take the claim seriously.
Now, Tena's no angel. Tegam says he was once a virus writer himself, credited with (among other things) Happy99, the first e-mail virus. But, they admit, he went straight and is now on the side of the angels. (This assumes, of course, that there are angels at Harvard.)
UPDATE: Tena writes to say that reports he's a virus writer are false, that they were started by Tegem and picked up by the media without questioning it. "Cite a credible source if you have one," Tena writes. "This article is now on the web for eternity. Please do something about it."
I have no independent source, other than press reports, to indicate Tena has so much as a parking ticket to his name. Absent evidence, I shouldn't spread rumors, so this is being reposted with my apologies.
So why should angels (or Yalies) support him?
In response to concerns over Verizon's cuting-off e-mail service from Europe, which we reported on here, the world finally got a response yesterday.
It was pure nonsense. Totally non-responsive. PR cow-excrement. They changed the issue from cutting customers off from Europe to the anti-spam problem, pulled some standard boilerplate off a shelf, and they think we'll eat it.
Those who like to read such things should click below. All I'll say is they just don't get it. Or, as Alice Kehoe told Dave Farber's list, "Ah yes, a carefully formulated and rational plan of action ... right up there with, 'if I shut my eyes, Mama can't see me taking these chocolates.'"
NOTE: This is the beginning of a continuing online novel. Here is the Table of Contents.
This is an 802.11 base station put in by a crook aiming to steal your cookies, and your money.
I don't want to minimize the potential threat. The scam is pretty easy to install. Just put in your own log-on screen in front of all access and throw all the malware you want in return -- a keylogger, or a program that grabs saved password files from the browser. It could work.
But not for long. Here's how you can keep yourself from being victimized, and how the cops (if they have half a brain) can catch this creative garbage in-the-act:
The last pigeon messaging station in the world, in Cuttack, Orissa, India, is closing, a victim of cell phones and e-mail.
Toshiba's much-hyped Ubiquitous Viewer may be the most over-rated story of the year.
The software basically allows a cellular phone client to take over a remote PC. Sounds great. But it requires a broadband cellular connection (which few phones have), or Bluetooth (in which case why not just sit down at the PC).
Assuming it does work, and it does get used, it's like the story of the dog that chased the car and finally caught it. What's the dog going to do now?
Yet there are some lessons here:
To the State Department.
Brazil isn't going to open source because they hate Windows, or Gates. They're going toward open source for rational, even reasonable reasons. With open source, Brazilians control their own code base. With Windows, Gates does.
Attention CitiCorp shareholders. Your company is burning money, wasting it to no purpose other than stupidity and selfishness.
Click below to read all about it.
Last year, while working as an (eventually unpaid) analyst, I told some Intel executives they needed to embrace a "platform" strategy for their product.
My call was ignored. The junior executives I was writing for could afford to do that. I was just an analyst.
What does it mean?
I have been singing the good news about Moore's Law for many years now. It spurs productivity, it spreads knowledge, it increases the rate of change across the board, etc. etc.
But there is a dark side to all this that most who write on technology don't talk about. (The image is from Youngstown State University in Ohio.)
That's what I call Moore's Inverse Law of Labor.
Simply put, Moore's Law makes large productivity gains absolutely necessary. To compete in a Moore's Law world, you have to continually replace people with technology, and move folks' time into more productive tasks, or they fall behind.
This is true for individuals, for business, for government, for nations. It has very profound implications for all of us.
Let's think about some of them:
Over the last few weeks I've read a lot of commentary about the recent mobile phone health scares.
Much of it follows the industry line. Even on blogs, the tone seems dismissive. Case not proven, nothing to see here, move on.
But that's the wrong attitude to take. (The ostrich came from a financial planning site.) It's ignorant on how easy it would be to address valid concerns, and even improve the product at the same time.
What seems to matter is the power of the wave hitting your head, the distance between sensitive tissue and high frequency waves, and the duration of exposure. Stick a high-powered microwave brick next to an ear for 10 years or more, it seems, and something's going to fry.
But Moore's Law of Radios shows we don't need that much power. We're better off without it. Frequencies are used most efficiently when you have a lot of very low-power devices -- this lets you put more traffic in less space.
As I've said before, separating the handset from the headset can also work wonders, not just from a health standpoint but from a user interface standpoint. A close friend of mine has had a Bluetooth headset on his ear for some weeks, and now he's hot to replace his phone with something that has more functionality, more expense, that's more like a PDA. This should be good news for the industry.
But by sticking our heads in the sand, by dismissing reports of health effects out of hand, rather than addressing what we can now, the industry is setting itself up for a nasty fall, and many unhappy jury returns.
But here's what is worse.
Intel has apparently decided the market opportunity for Wi-Max as a backhaul to 802.11 is too small for its taste, and thus a "mobile WiMax" aimed at displacing 3G mobile networks is necessary.
Uh, necessary for who?
Necessary for Intel to get out its WiMax investment, maybe. But a mobile DSL replacement faces some enormous hurdles:
Mobiledia reports Siemens will announce the closure of its mobile phone unit on January 27 if it doesn't find a buyer by then.
Does your cell phone help you pick up attractive women? (Or men?)
Well, it might if you subscribed to Dodgeball, a social service for mobiles whose founders, Dennis Crowley and Alex Rainert, talked to our own Russell Shaw (right) recently.
The idea is that you and your friends subscribe to Dodgeball, then text your location to one another at night, so you can get together. (And if they have friends with them, and those friends are attractive, voila!)
Absolut Vodka sponsored a "nightlife channel" on the service last year, like a traditional media buy, so Dodgeball members could associate the brand as a "friend." (Beats having an AA sponsor, I guess.) Now they're looking to make more money from things like Premium SMS and applications.
Same thing, really. In discussing this with Motorola spokesman Paul Alfieri recently, once thing was crystal clear.
They get it.
A few quick corrections to our most recent post on the MS1000. You can build applications that run in flash on the device, that don't depend on the PC. The device is wide-open to applications through its OSGI-based Linux software core.
Now, you want to make some money?
It's that simple.
Google has a huge amount of data, spread over many international locations. And there are many people in, say, France, who might want to query data held elsewhere, say, in the U.S.
As Google's translation services grow, this becomes more likely.
Google's telecommunications bills must already be extraordinary, in order to handle this traffic.
If Google had its own dark fiber network, it could light that fiber and drive those costs to the ground.
Then the fiber would be open to other applications, such as:
Verizon, the second-largest phone network in the U.S., and the second-largest wireless operator, has decided it will no longer offer Internet service.
The question is what the Internet and its users will do in response (if anything).
The company's decision was made public this week in the form of a unilateral halt to all deliveries of e-mail from Europe by default based on a claim this is an anti-spam measure.
The claim is laughable since far more spam traffic moves from the U.S. to Europe than the other way around, thanks to real European statutes requiring opt-in and the U.S. CAN-SPAM Act, which legalized many types of spam.
But there is a larger point.
An Internet Service Provider, by definition, provides service to the entire Internet. This is usually put in the fine print of Internet service contracts. Will Verizon now modify its contracts, or simply ignore them?
UCLA scientists have linked rat muscle cells to silicon chips creating self-powered robots.
Take a picture of a painting and get an audio recording, through your phone, all about it. Take a picture of a restaurant and get a review.
I recently wrote in high praise of Motorola for the MS1000, calling them The Kings of Always On.
The following does not detract from that call. Motorola has come closer to building an Always On platform (as I envision one) than anyone else.
But there are still a few things they could easily add:
Samsung is getting a little ahead of itself.
And what do they get for all this effort? Profits for the quarter were actually down, with the phone and flat panel units taking the blame.
What's wrong with this picture?
One of the dumbest things a company can do is pay big bucks for a domain name. (That's CSpan's flower, by the way.)
What does eBay mean? What does Amazon mean? For that matter, what does Google mean? They mean what they have become. There was no intrinsic value to the name when it was purchased.
So why should picturephone.com be worth $1 million? There's no good reason. The fact that the company which owned the name changed its name so as to sell-on the old name is proof of this.
Panix.Com has apparently had its domain hijacked.
Panix, a 16-year old ISP in New York, told its users that ownership of the domain was apparently moved to Australia, the DNS records were moved to the United Kingdom, and its e-mail was directed to Canada.
This should be a matter for criminal prosecution.
Some journalists are bloggers, but not all bloggers are journalists.
A blogger is a journalist if they act like a journalist. When anyone researches a story and broadcasts the results on a blog they are a journalist.
When a blogger doesn't identify their role, you should treat them as a journalist until they indicate otherwise. Don't tell them something you don't expect to see published. Give them all the information you would any other journalist.
Journalism, in other words, is a process. It's not defined by a paycheck. It's defined by what you do. UPDATE: A new Gallup poll shows that only 5% rate journalists "very high" in honesty. Would bloggers do worse?
All this is prelude to reporting a contretemps Slate reported about The Wall Street Journal. Apparently when Dean campaign chairman Joe Trippi and aide Zephyr Teachout first approached bloggers MyDD and DailyKos in 2003 it "was explicitly to buy their airtime" in the words of Ms. Teachout (right and above, the one without the hat).
The bloggers weren't told this. Markos Moulitas (Kos) and Jerome Armstrong (MyDD) thought they were being treated as consultants, and consulted. Neither wrote anything on their blogs to disqualify the work as journalism.
Click below to see the rest of the story.
I'm delighted to welcome a new sponsor to Mooreslore -- Earthlink Wireless.
I have a long relationship with Earthlink. I covered their CEO, Garry Betty, as far back as the late 1980s, when he was with Hayes Microcomputer. I have used Earthlink DSL service for years. I followed the rise of Mindspring in Atlanta, and their former CEO, Charles Brewer, is now building Glenwood Park, an an award-winning development near my home.
Earthlink moved to Atlanta after the original company, which was based in California, merged with Mindspring and named its CEO, Atlantan Betty, as its leader. (I wanted them to rename the whole thing MindLink, but I'm over it.)
Check them out.
The Bee Watcher-Watcher watched the Bee Watcher.
He didnt watch well. So another Hawtch-Hawtcher
had to come in as a Watch-Watcher-Watcher!
And today all the Hawtchers who live in Hawtch-Hawtch
are watching on Watch-Watcher-Watchering-Watch,
Watch-Watching the Watcher whos watching that bee.
Youre not a Hawtch-Watcher. Youre lucky, you see!!!
Dr. Seuss's "Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?" is as subversive now as it ever was, and always finds a new context.
Today the context lies in the proliferation of cameras, which seem to be watching us, all the time, and whether our "privacy" means we should turn them off.
With every Hawtch-Hawtcher out watching each other, does privacy really exist?
The answer may surprise you.
NOTE: This is the beginning of a continuing online novel. Here is the Table of Contents.
What about security? How do you stay safe?
Where's the best place to learn the art of network security?
My guess is it's an online gambling site.
Most such sites are based in either the UK, the Caribbean or Australia. Because of U.S. legal pressure they were already in the forefront of isolating traffic geographically, at the ISP level. Also because of U.S. pressure, they are frequently on their own when it comes to defending their business interests. (UK police, however, are apparently cooperative.)
All this means that, if you're into security, this is an opportunity.
A Gallup survey of fliers shows 68% want the ban on cell phone use in the air to stay, despite the lack of valid safety concerns.
Count me among them.
Stan Gibson feels Gartner's acquisition of the Meta Group is an anti-trust problem.
Consulting is not like other businesses. There is always ease of entry. (I'm available -- just write. And I'm very good.)
But the fact is that the technology consulting business is shrinking. Technology is getting easier to understand. Demand is down.
Meta couldn't keep up so they got out for what they could get. Good for them.
This is big stuff, a real "killer app." I lost my best teacher ever, Dick Schwarzlose, to a heart attack last year, an attack that could have at least been treated had his doctor known it was coming.
Hundreds of thousands of men and women die each year from sudden heart attacks which are not detected, but most of these people were known to be at risk based on factors like their blood pressure and cholesterol levels. (Heck, I'm at risk for those reasons.)
If this solution can be productized and delivered with, say, the client monitor and communications hidden inside an Under Armour shirt (wicks away the sweat and looks wicked cool), then many lives can be saved, and many middle-aged men can look marvelous at the same time.
Sometime in the distant, distant past, an animal like my dog Blackie apparently ate some other animals like the chickens we used to keep in the backyard, and it was good.
Proof comes in the form of some fossils from China, which indicate that our common attitude of the mammal-dinosaur relationship (mouse-like things hiding in the nooks and crannies of the dinosaur world) needs some major revision.
I may catch a lot of flak for using the word tsunami in that headline. (Innocent restauranteurs in South Africa are already catching such flak.)
But I use it deliberately. I know over 150,000 people died in the tragedy. I do not minimize it. But if the electromagnetic waves from mobile phones are as dangerous to health as recent studies indicate, then how many preventable deaths are we looking at some years down the road, from brain cancer? Given the enormous numbers of phones out there today, and the incredible use being made of them, I'd say 150,000 potential deaths is a rather low estimate. Assuming, that is, that the danger is as bad as alarmists are saying.
Note that I use the word preventable. Because a few product changes, in a market where most people keep their equipment for barely a year, means all this potential damage is, indeed preventable.
STB announced the MPB 4000, a rechargeable battery for mobiles phones with a display showing how much power it has.
This is Stratton Sclavos.
Sclavos has made a career of buying high and selling low. He bought Network Solutions at the peak of the bubble, and sold it for a fraction of its value. He personally tried to corrupt the DNS with his idiotic SiteFinder "service."
Why he is still occupying a seat of power instead of a cardboard box on the street is beyond me. On merit that's what he deserves. Few people have destroyed more equity in their careers, few have been poorer public stewards of resources. Yet there seems no movement in that direction.
Along with all their other implications, the mass adoption of mobile phones represents the first step in the single-chip era.
If you look inside the guts of your phone you are unlikely to find a big honking circuit board. (The circuit board illustration is from Sciencetechnologyresources.com.) Instead you will find one, two or three single chips performing major functions in an integrated way.
This is happening across-the-board in technology. We've gone from circuit boards in the 1980s to modules in the 1990s, to single chips. Just as early IBM PC add-in board producers created "multi-function cards" to assure a price worthy of retail distribution 20 years ago, so chip makers today put multiple functions on many chips, creating entire systems no bigger than a finger-nail.
Spammers and phishers have responded to increased law enforcement by launching a program of terrorism.
Declan's point is that it's available. Critics point out that it's slow, expensive, and more people have it in other countries than here.
The question they're all asking is, how can the situation be improved.
The correct answer is one word.
Microsoft has finally stirred to life in the digital music arena.
Microsoft is usually a day late and a dollar short when it comes to innovation. But it brings so many OEMs and software developers to the party that it usually overwhelms its opponent. Microsoft was a half-decade or more behind Apple in GUI development during the 1980s, but today it has over 90% of the market, and Apple has about 3%.
We can argue the why of that later. Frankly, given the size of Microsoft Research I find it remarkable that the company finds itself in the same situation it did when Gates and Jobs (and I) were all so green together. The point is that Gates once again has Jobs in his sights, and the question is whether he will succeed in toppling the iPod.
The Six Apart-LiveJournal merger is not a roll-up.
Roll-ups happen when there is an established way to make money at something. No one has really found a way to make a reliable dollar from blogging.
Not that people aren't trying. There are tons of new blogging programs out there, tons of new file types to blog, tons of new blogs (of course) and tons of new paradigms.
It's an industry in the process of discovering itself.
Here's the short-form. Roll-ups are about money. Without money, mergers are about people.
From reading the statements of the principals, this merger is what I call a "team-building" exercise. The VCs behind Six Apart (the company that owns Movable Type) are trying to build a winning team. That's one of them over there to the left, Joi Ito.
Let me explain.
The latest airport fad is the mobile phone parking lot, where those picking up passengers can hang out, free, and wait for a call so they don't loiter close to the gates.
Thanks to The Common Scold (aka Monica Bay) for the heads-up.
Motorola has launched a very Clued-in strategy to push Always-On applications.
The idea is that you sync the phone to your home using a verison of the old Palm cradle, then control home automation applications remotely using the phone.
This is clever in many different ways:
The triumph of liberty in the 20th century was basically a technological triumph. It was Moore's Law that did it. Moore's Law, and all its antecedents, changed the rules of the economic game, of the power game, and the balance between rulers and the ruled.
Moore's Law, the idea that things get better-and-better faster-and-faster, means that trained minds are the key to economic growth. Willing hands, the key to economic growth in the industrial age, matter far less than they did. Chains may keep trained hands working. They don't do so well with trained minds.
In America the result, as Dr. Richard Florida (left) wrote, was the rise of a new "Creative Class" that could dominate societies and drive economic growth. These were people, accused of wealth and guilty of education, whose values were intellectual and meritocratic, and (perhaps most important) were capable of economic satiation. Creative people have, on the whole, risen through Maslow's "hierarchy of needs," and are in search of self-actualization, not food or even luxury.
Sometimes big news turns out to be small.
Sometimes small news turns out to be very big.
Here's an example of the latter. It's word that MPEG-LA has combined all the DRM patents for mobile phones and begun offering them at $1/phone (plus a cut of all revenue). The patents are all endorsed as industry standards by the mis-named Open Mobile Alliance (because its proceedings are about as open as a grand jury).
As with all such news, there's good news here and bad news.
A few years ago Jackson, Mississippi was the center of the telecom universe.
That's because it was the home of Canadian-born Bernard Ebbers . He married a Mississippi girl, Linda Pigott. On such chances does history turn.
Ebbers launched a long distance outfit called LDDS in the early 1980s and turned it into a classic "roll-up," buying other companies (usually for stock) and managing to the numbers.
Eventually he named his monstrosity Worldcom.
The result was the MCI scandal.
Roll-ups usually end this way.
I don't mind the copyright industries making their arguments.
I do mind their hiding their sponsorship of it. And I also mind their forcing this on kids, claiming that industry propaganda is "education."
Security problems have been found with versions of all Mozilla products, including the Firefox browser and Thunderbird e-mail client.
The problems to not affect the latest builds of any of these products, so users are advised to update.
Industry Brains has begun selling ads inside RSS feeds of publishers stories, starting with CMP Media. The Business Software Association is among the early buyers.
NOTE: This is the beginning of a continuing online novel. Here is the Table of Contents.
But before I collapse let me hit a few high points.
Im sure you read the big news, about the contract we won for the Virgin Tsunami Warning Network. Of course it wasnt written as a contract, but a donation.
Thats Branson genius in action.
Yeah, I met him. At the press conference announcing the UNs acceptance of Virgin Mavericks donation, over at the Technikon. He smiled a little broader when he saw my badge. It read, Dana Blankenhorn, VM.co.za, JoBurg.
Youll never believe what he said then. So this is the famous Dana Blankenhorn Ive heard about.
Over at Many-2-Many we have a fascinating post, called Fukuyama's Penguin, speculating on why Chinese isn't better-represented in online contributions.
This got me to singing:
Many too many have stood where I stand
Many more will stand here too,
Why isn't there more Chinese here? There are many reasons:
And so millions-upon-millions of people are now on their way to that something else. You and I cannot imagine the lives they live, just off the 15th century, coming upon the 19th and seeing all around them the 21st.
There's a quote from my online novel The Chinese Century that is relevant here. It's an an imagined speech from Jiang Zemin, given near the top of Shanghai's Oriental Pearl Tower. NOTE: The following quote is fictional:
What cholesterol seems to do is set in motion the creation of a protein, called C-reactive protein, that in turn creates systemic inflammation. Everything's revved up to deal with cholesterol (or some other threat), but this in turn leads to long-term weakness that results in death.
So next time you get your blood checked, have them look for how much of this protein is in there. The good news is the same statin drugs that drop cholesterol also work here.
Oh, and put down that doughnut.
For the last year I've been harping here on the subject of Always On.
The idea is that you have a wireless network based on a scalable, robust operating system that can power real, extensible applications for home automation, security, medical monitoring, home inventory, and more.
As I wrote I often came back to Motorola and its CEO, Ed Zander. They would be the perfect outfit to do this, I wrote.
Little did I know (until now) but they did. A year ago.
It's called the MS1000.
The product was introduced at last year's CES, and re-introduced at various vertical market shows during the year. It's based on Linux, responds to OSGi standards, and creates an 802.11g network on which applications can then be built.
At this year's CES show, Motorola is pushing a home security solution based on the device, with 10 new peripherals like cameras and motion sensors that can be easily set-up with the network in place, along with a service offering called ShellGenie.
Previously the company bought Premise, which has been involved in IP-based home control since 1999, and pushed a version of the same thing called the Media Station for moving entertainment around the home.
What should Motorola do now? Well, the platform is pretty dependent on having a home PC. The MS1000 could use space for slots so needed programs could be added as program modules. They need to look at medical and home inventory markets, not just entertainment and security.
But they've made an excellent start. And from here on out everyone else is playing catch-up.
Oh, and one more thing...
Andrew Orlowski overstates the case a little. Storage is not the new chips.
But the humble hard drive, the spinning aluminum platter called a "Winchester" by some of us old-timers, now dominates the storage scene. And the father of that technology was Al Shugart.
This era is Shugart's Revenge. (Buy his new book here.)
This is something of a surprise to some futurists. After all, optical storage is really cool. Imagine getting a half-gig, or several gig, or dozens of gig on the same CD form factor, and usually backward-compatible at that?
What was unexpected with hard drives was that they would become hardened and mobile. We were used to thinking of them as being fairly unwieldy and fragile, hidden away on our desktops, requiring that we treat our laptops like human newborns.
But they did become sturdy, and tiny, and thus mobile. Now they can go anywhere you go. And in the case of some products, like the iPod, they literally define the category (although you can also make an iPod with flash memory).
There's one other point to make about this golden age of storage.
The most dangerous word in telecommunications today is bundling. (This is the kind of bundling we're talking about by the way, the kind represented by this shrinkwrap machine, from the good people at Pierce Packaging Equipment.)
All the carriers are doing it, more and more. The cable company wants to bundle Internet service for you. The phone company wants to bundle mobile service, Internet, and maybe a dish (so you won't need the cable company).
The deals go by names like "triple play," and it's getting worse, as Time Warner aims to become a Sprint re-seller simply so it can offer a "quadruple play" of phone, Internet, cable and mobile. BellSouth already offers something like this, and SBC wants to add TiVo-like services to its bundle.
What can be wrong with this, especially when they're offering a bargain price on the bundle? (Some are, while others are just stressing the "convenience" of having one bill.)
At CES mobile phones (cellular to you and me) are no longer certain what they want to be.
Are they cameras? Are they PDAs? Are they going to be expandable? Will they be for games, for instant messaging, for fashion, what?
Normally, after a show like CES, the market would make those decisions. Some products would sell well, others would sell poorly, and next year we'd see copycats of the former, then scratch our heads trying to remember the latter.
Not in this case.
In a great little piece about Kodak's coming WiFi camera, the EasyShare One, Glenn Fleischman delivers a Clue about T-Mobile's coming strategy.
As a struggling artist I'm always on the look-out for new ways to make money. (That's Paul and Stan of the Housemartins singing for their supper in 1984, from an Australian fan's site.)
Once I had a Web site and made it run, made it race against time. That was in the 1990s. Since the new millenium dawned, I've been in buddy-can-you-spare-a-dime mode.
I can laugh about it since my sainted spouse has a good job and shows no signs of leaving (she likes my cooking). But it would be good for the old ego to be something other than a kept man, y'know? (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)
I've tried many things. I was a highly-respected market analyst for a time but the firm turned out the be a scam that took a year of my pay off to Chapter 7 of the bankruptcy code, opening again under a new name. I've done some columns, I've had some freelance gigs, and Corante has gotten me some scratch working for ZDNet.
For most bloggers the choices are stark. They can get a few quid from Google AdSense, they can try BlogAds, they can stick Amazon affiliate links everywhere of put out a begging bowl. It's all busking.
You want to know the latest? I'm gonna make you click for it.
That's what I would do in his shoes.
If you haven't heard, Apple Computer Corp. gave DePlume's little site the best diploma a journalist could get the other day -- a lawsuit. Rival journalists put up a headline that Apple was "running out of patience with rumour mill web sites."
But if these are just rumors, if there is no truth to them, why the legal paper? Hmmmm? Who needs to file papers to squelch lies? (And we'll know the truth one way or another in a week or two anyway.)
So what's Apple up to? According to ThinkSecret:
When UTStarcom announced it had a "WiFi Phone" (right) no one noticed.
Now that Vonage says it's putting its name on the thing, the carrier world is up in arms.
As usual the press is being plain silly. This is not a threat to mobile carriers because WiFi, as yet, offers no real mobility. And that's just not likely to happen because most WiFi connections are not networked.
Om Malik reports that Six Apart, which owns Movable Type, will buy LiveJournal later this month, giving Six Apart 6.5 million users.
Leslie Cauley of USA Today has a cogent story today on something I've written about for ages, the Bells' continuing efforts to keep you from getting broadband. (The image is called Cracked Glass Bell. It's a 1998 digital print by artist Stephen Linhart.)
For a decade now the Bells have been using the promise of fiber to keep other competitors from serving an underserved market. As Cauley notes Americans pay more for less bandwidth than people in other industrial countries.
Cauley's story covers the entire struggle very quickly, making it a good primer for those who haven't heard my lecture. And Cauley helps readers understand the key to breaking the Bell bottleneck -- competition.
Let's look briefly at all the competitors the Bells have stopped (without delivering anything worthwhile) over the last several years:
Not all of them, obviously.
This was a once-in-a-lifetime event, a 9.0 quake (and remember the Richter scale is logarathmic) close to land that shifted the seabed 10 feet, displacing megatons of water in a wave that spread outward at 500 kph.
Banda Aceh was too close to the epicenter to use a warning, even if it came as the quake happened. (The quake hit the town, too, so there actually was a warning of a sort.) But the resort town of Phuket in Thailand could have gotten maybe 15 minutes warning, long enough for most swimmers to reach high ground, and Sri Lanka could have gotten even more warning. (It's what happened there that seems most tragic, since they barely felt the quake and could have have had over an hour's warning of the wave.)
The key to giving warning isn't having a seismometer. You can build a good seismometer for $34 that will could have detected the Sumatra quake from your living room.
Chris Davies offers a fine dissent on open source spectrum today.
If you look at his example it even looks compelling.
There are problems with power management, with computing requirements, and with wave attenuation in the open spectrum idea. But the problem isn't inherent in the spectrum proposal of Kevin Werbach (left), and the solution isn't to sell spectrum to the highest bidder. That doesn't really deal with the problem.
The problem is two words: real estate.
On the whole, yes. (And that's him on the right, yeah.)
The evolution of mobile devices is going to center on the phone. WiFi is not a competitor, but a complementary technology. Most of what we'll need, we have.
But the word missing from this excellent piece is -- application.
The big problem with Russell's vision is that, if everything's based on the present networks and the present devices, the future is controlled by carriers. And carriers are stupid (even when their networks are not).
So things won't evolve that way.
This reads like a contradiction in terms, doesn't it?
Blogging is instant publishing. Part of the idea is that you're getting a raw feed.
But in fact most blogs are edited. Because most blogs are produced with words.
You don't need Microsoft Word to edit a blog. I am editing this in the blogging window. But for most people, coherence requires a bit of editing. You need to step back, put things in a proper order for the reader, and link what you've gotten so it makes sense as a story told, rather than a story experienced.
You can see this clearly when you see the liveblog of an event. Last year's conventions are a bad example. Because the stage happenings were broadcast there was no need to type what was said and put it out. Bloggers reverted to their normal role there of looking for "inside" stories, and wound up as near-clones of their "big media" counterparts, only without as many sources. They edited on-the-fly to create coherence.
What does this say about other types of blogging, using bigger files like audio (audblogging), mobile phones (moblogging) or video (vidblogging).
Today marks the end of my first Insta-novel, The Chinese Century.
It's been a trip.
Some 26 companies have joined to begin the process of bringing a faster successor to coming 3G mobile networks to market. The new network would have "true" broadband speeds.
NOTE: This Table of Contents will be continually updated as new chapters are placed online.
NOTE: This is the conclusion of a continuing online novel. Here is the Table of Contents.
For some time interest in Buckminsterfullerene, the unique form of carbon created at my alma mater, has focused on Buckytubes, not Buckyballs.
A Buckyball is a single carbon-60 molecule, shaped like a tiny soccer ball. If you don't cut off the ends, and instead extend the shape into a tube, you have a molecule of almost limitless size, and with enormous strength. A space elevator, as I conceive it, is basically a circled Buckytube that reaches from a point at the Equator to geosynchronous orbit, so that a cab coming up one way is matched by one going down.
But in the short run that's science fiction. There is a lot of proof-of-concept work to do before you can really go after the money, and there we're talking of billions-and-billions.
What Buckminsterfullerene needs, more than anything, is a profitable market that will spur further development.
And now it has found one.
My mom (the Tillie of the headline) has been near-blind since the late 1970s. It has been, in some ways, a blessing, giving her new friends, new perspective, and a more positive attitude toward life.
But it's still near-blindness. So I'm always on the look-out for new gadgets she might use to live more freely.
And here's one. (The image is from a release at 3G.co.uk.) From Korea, it's a Samsung "helper phone." Keep the 5 key depressed (it's the one in the middle, so easy to find) and you'll get operator assistance with difficult calling tasks.
As regular readers here know, I'm a big Stephen Wolfram fan.
Wolfram is a genius. His ideas for using the real power of computing for science are first-rate. His Mathematica program is a vital tool. He has succeeded as both a scientist and entrepreneur, a trick I've only seen pulled off one other time, by architect-developer John Portman.
But just as Portman eventually over-reached, with his One Peachtree Center (right), so has Wolfram, I'm afraid, now that I've gotten his A New Kind of Science.
NOTE: For those who don't remember, Portman had to hock everything to build his One Peachtree masterpiece. Tom Wolfe fictionalized it but as with Citizen Kane the truth may have been even a bit better.
Wolfram's problem was he didn't hire a ghost writer. His book is brilliant, but it's terribly overwritten. He doesn't know how to put a period at the end of a sentence. He writes on a college level where high school would do.
For those of you who miss Steve Stroh, have no fear. He's just gone back on his own, the way he likes it.
You'll find him regularly at Broadband Wireless Internet Access news. Thanks to his experience here he's an even better, faster reporter than he was before.
Good luck, Steve...and stay in touch.
With Sprint's pending acquisition of Nextel I'm already hearing about T-Mobile needing to sell out and leave the marketplace so we can have a nice little oligopoly, everyone guaranteed profits and customers guaranteed nothing. (It's the American way.)
But T-Mobile isn't in nearly as much trouble as the idiots think. Their marketing puts rivals to shame. They've hired Catherine Zeta-Jones as spokeswoman and successfully pushed the Sidekick-II in celebrity-filled ads that star rapper Snoop Dogg. (I couldn't find a picture of Snoop for you -- is that so wrong?) They're letting gadget makers lead, but making sure their own brand still gets top-billing. It's the best of both worlds.
Gadgets and marketing make a good start. (The Sidekick ads feature its data applications, giving them a leg-up on the market's future growth.) What else can T-Mobile do that's clever?
NOTE: This is part of a continuing online novel. Here is the Table of Contents.
Reuters today discusses this in terms of New Mexico, home to two Intel plants outside Albuquerque that make Pentium chips. But the problem is industrywide and worldwide. It's baked into the system. The fact is that etching chips requires the use of caustic chemicals that pollute the air and water.
What can be done about it?
NOTE: This is part of a continuing online novel. Here is the Table of Contents.
When my lovely wife took her present job, many years ago, she said she was happy to be working with programs that actually did something.
She works in transaction processing. Back then each time her program ran her company made a nickel. It's a service business.
The point today is she was way ahead of her time. Still is. Let me explain.