No Neuts in CA

This is heartwarming and inspirational:

Television viewers will ultimately wind up with one-stop shopping for video, phone and Internet services, under legislation approved by the state Senate that would open the video-services market to telephone companies.

No matter what happens with Stevens and Barton this year, those of is in California are cool.

I heard a debate of this bill on the radio with my old nemesis Lenny Goldberg arguing against it, pretty pathetically in fact. Lenny was reduced to arguing that cell phones aren’t real phones and similar rot. The man is shameless, but hardworking. No matter what your cause, he’ll shill for you: public employee unions, higher taxes, alimony, child support extraction, re-regulation of utilities, whatever, he’s there as long as you can pay the freight.

Free Software Communists

I used to spend a lot of time in the Indian state of Kerala, so this article in Salon by Andrew Leonard caught my eye:

Richard Stallman must be sleeping well this week. Eight years ago, I accompanied the free software pioneer on a visit to the Bill Gates-funded computer science building on the Stanford campus. To get in we had to pass through an entrance that sported the Microsoft founder’s name engraved on high. Stallman gave Bill the finger, and then tried to convince some passersby that they should likewise flip Bill off. They looked at him like he was crazy.

Crazy like a fox. This week, the New York Times reported that the Communist state government of Kerala, India, “is campaigning to eliminate Microsoft from use in public institutions.” The government wants state-funded entities, such as public schools, to switch to free software, such as Linux-based operating systems. And guess what? Richard Stallman was very much involved.

Stallman has been pushing free software in India for years. In 2001 he chose Kerala as the headquarters for the Indian affiliate of the Free Software Foundation, the nonprofit he founded to promote software that users can freely copy and modify. Not long after the socialist Left Democratic Front won control of Kerala’s state assembly in May 2006, he was back, lobbying the government with his trademark indefatigability. A few weeks ago, the government banned Coca-Cola and Pepsi, on the grounds that an environmental watchdog had found high levels of pesticides in the products. Now it’s tackling Microsoft.
Continue reading “Free Software Communists”

Gigabit networking for the consumer

Here it comes, a broadband technology that can move bits at a gigabit per second. And it’s all done without any wires:

On a bus fitted out specially for the occasion in Jeju this week, Samsung demonstrated a new version of 4G technology transferring data at speeds of 100Mbit/s.

The bus was moving at 60kmph – which you rarely see in real life – but it was proof enough, the Korean giant boasted, as the demonstration included handover between cells. 1Gbit/s is 50 times faster than the current Mobile WiMAX specification, 802.16e. At walking pace, the demonstration moved bits at 1GB/s.

What was that about a cable/telco duopoly? Sorry, but technology marches on and today’s reality is tomorrow’s history.

How commmon is International blockage?

Technological Musings says:

British Telecom makes sure that no other VoIP service can work on their network by blocking commonly used ports.

Is this true? I know that Korea Telecom does this, but I’d never heard this before. The blog contains a number of errors, such as this one: “There are a lot of ISPs in the US, who make sure that Vonage doesnt work on their network,” so I don’t want to take this unsourced claim at face value.

A Tube Full of News

Doc Searls is puzzling over new ways to do old things on the Internet, prompted by Dave Winer’s river of news concept:

“River of news” usefully combines three metaphorial frames: place, transport and publishing. Using all three, it proposes an approach to publishing that respects the fact that more and more people are going to want to get fresh newsy information on handheld Web devices.

The River of News metaphor not only speaks a new kind of sense to the NYTimes and BBCs of the world. It speaks to a new blog sensibility as well. I’m starting to think about how I might want to change my blog to be more Webphone-friendly. Can I live without all the junk on the left and right margins, for example? (Probably. They’re worse than useless to readers with Treos and Blackberries.) Alternatively, should I have a special feed just for Webphones?

Whatever the answers, I’m not thinking about my blog, or what it does, as a “site”. Meanwhile, that’s how most big publishers think about what they do on the Web. That’s why their sites are often so chock full of… stuff. They’re all about being sticky and holding your eyeballs inside the sitewalls. That might be fine on a computer screen, which is big and placelike in the sense that it usually isn’t moving around when you’re using it. But a Blackberry or a Treo or a Nokia 770 is different. It’s mobile. It’s going somewhere. You use it in a much different way.

This is an interesting concept, but it’s too much like old wine in new bottles for me. The World Wide Web, the TCP/IP protocol suite, and the personal computer are dead, in the sense that they’re tapped-out for innovation and have been passed-by as new technologies of mobile communication mature. The Web has never been much more than an easier way to access archives of stored information than its precursors Archie and Gopher. The TCP/IP suite assumes that devices never move, and desktop PC don’t know how to move.

But people, you see, do move. So the electronic devices that mean the most to us these days are the ones that either move with us or enable themselves to be accessed wherever we are.

That pretty much means that content is less important than communication, web sites that serve up static page are less valuable than feeds that give us updates to topics of interest (valuable idea), and modes of communication that depend on our being in a set location – like old-fashioned phone numbers and e-mail accounts – are less important than those that know how to reach us wherever we are.

The “river of news” is a crude first step toward realizing that our communication and networking needs changed about 10 years ago, but better late than never. If only the name didn’t remind me of the great Fugs song, Wide Wide River.

PS – Why is it that every idea that comes along with the promise to take us to a better world is invariably wrapped-up in attacks on the cluelessness of the establishment? That kind of stuff bores the hell out of me, even in the cases where it’s actually true. If you have a great new idea, it stands on its own. Don’t worry about the NY Times or the BBC, they’ll come to see your brilliance in the due course of things, if you have any. Just lay out your plan and go do it.

Speaking of Cults…

The reaction of the Apple faithful to the disclosure of a security hole in the design of Apple OSX was amazing. A couple of guys figured out that you could trick OSX into executing some foreign code with root privilege by sending a malformed packet to a third-party wireless LAN card. The guys – David Maynor and Johnny Ellch – have been viciously attacked by the Kool-Aid drinking Apple faithful:

I was absolutely shocked when I ran across these stories on Digg. I had personally video interviewed Maynor and his partner Jon “Johnny Cache” Ellch and these two gentlemen were very honest and straightforward. But as soon as I read the stories, the stench began to rise. Maynor and SecureWorks had been telling the truth the entire time and they had falsified nothing. The only falsification going on was the stories themselves! Not only did Dalrymple and Chartier and others like them not follow the most basic of journalism principles to at least check with the source, they apparently didn’t even bother looking at the original video of David Manor released by SecureWorks.

The Faithful claim Maynor and Ellch alleged something they didn’t allege, and are therefore out to get Apple.

The saga continues on George Ou’s ZDNet blog today. It seems to me that the flaw the dudes found depends on bad behavior from both the driver and the OS, and if it exists on one vendor’s product, it certainly can exist on others as well. So Apple and its faithful should simply fix the problem and stop smearing people.

Is that too much to ask?

Firestorm coming

The Forbes article Don’t Marry Career Women is going to get some people excited:

Guys: A word of advice. Marry pretty women or ugly ones. Short ones or tall ones. Blondes or brunettes. Just, whatever you do, don’t marry a woman with a career.

Why? Because if many social scientists are to be believed, you run a higher risk of having a rocky marriage. While everyone knows that marriage can be stressful, recent studies have found professional women are more likely to get divorced, more likely to cheat, less likely to have children, and, if they do have kids, they are more likely to be unhappy about it. A recent study in Social Forces, a research journal, found that women–even those with a “feminist” outlook–are happier when their husband is the primary breadwinner.

Better don your flak jacket, Michael Noer, you’s spoken the unspeakable.

See it in pictures here and see the blogospheric reaction here.

Welcome to the neutral net

We pointed out the other day that net neutrality fiends want public ownership of the Internet access network. Here’s a report from Broadband News on what that looks like:

Culver City, California was the first Los Angeles municipality to offer the public a free all-access Wi-Fi network. They’re also the first to ban all porn and p2p from that network, according to an announcement made yesterday. The city says they’ve added Audible Magic’s CopySense Network Appliance to filter illegal and “problematic content” from their network.

Be careful what you ask for, kids, you just might get it.

H/T Techdirt.

Net Neutrality is Intelligent Design for the Left

Traditional values are under attack. The old ways are in decline, people insist on more freedom of choice than their grandparents had. The received wisdom about the very structure and organization of our world has been taken apart by science, and the only way to put it back together is to use the language of science to prop it up. So obscure terms and concepts enter public discourse with new meanings, and a alternative history is created. Fear runs rampant, men of science are assaulted for their moral bankruptcy, and an alternative science is injected into the schools.

While this paragraph clearly fits the “intelligent design” attack on the biological sciences in general and evolution by natural selection in particular, it also applies to “network neutrality”, the idea that only the government can be trusted to dictate policies embedded in Internet access networks. One of the most stark presentations of this viewpoint was written by Jeff Chester for the left’s holiest organ, The Nation magazine:

Absent net neutrality and other safeguards…[b]roadband connections would be governed by ever-vigilant network software engaged in “traffic policing” to insure each user couldn’t exceed the “granted resources” supervised by “admission control” technologies. Mechanisms are being put in place so our monopoly providers can “differentiate charging in real time for a wide range of applications and events.” Among the services that can form the basis of new revenues, notes Alcatel, is online content related to “community, forums, Internet access, information, news, find your way (navigation), marketing push, and health monitoring.”

Missing from the current legislative debate on communications is how the plans of cable and phone companies threaten civic participation, the free flow of information and meaningful competition. (ed: emphasis added)

Note the use of the terms in scare quotes, traffic policing, granted resources, and admission control. These are technical terms that come from the world of network engineering, and we can sure Chester doesn’t use them because he wishes to illuminate their importance in the engineering context. He doesn’t bother to define or explain, but takes it as given that any such words can only be destructive to “civic participation.”

The juxtaposition of network engineering language with social policy language is deceptive and inane. It’s like arguing that an electrical grid that provides alternating current to the home is responsible for politicians who flip-flop between positions depending on what audience they’re addressing. There’s a superficial similarity, indeed, but that’s where the connection ends.

We use admission control and policing on WiFi networks with something called WiFi multi-media (WMM) so that telephone calls and live video streams can happily coexist with web surfing on the same wireless network. Wireless networks don’t have unlimited bandwidth, so we have to use some finesse to provide a satisfactory experience to as many people as possible over a common network channel. Network engineering doesn’t do this in order to stifle democracy and curb “the free flow of information;” on the contrary, enabling as many people as possible to use the network as they wish to use it has the effect of enhancing free information flow. When we use “admission control” and its related priority system on a WiFi network, we can handle four times as many phone conversations as could without them. Doesn’t a phone call to a politician count as “civic participation” any more?

Have we now come to a state where the aesthetics of engineering language guide public policy more than the effects of engineering practice? I hope not, but we’re getting closer.

Chester admits that he wants to government to own Internet access networks, or failing that, that it should control them:

That means we would become owners of the “last mile” of fiber wire, the key link to the emerging broadband world. For about $17 a month, over ten years, the high-speed connections coming to our homes would be ours–not in perpetual hock to phone or cable monopolists.

Chester says, in essence, that the government is more likely to control the Internet in such a way that the public can engage in criticism of government actions and policies than anyone else. I see no empirical evidence that would encourage me to accept this article of faith, and plenty that argue for its rejection.

In our recent experience, we got to see head-to-head competition between a highly-regulated DSL service and a minimally-regulated Internet access system using cable TV systems, and the less-regulated option emerged as the clear technical winner.

Chester uses the language of science to urge us to ignore experimental data, and that’s as fundamentally unscientific and irrational as it gets.

For extra bonus points, his Center for Democracy and Technology minion Mike Godwin urges network neutrality regulation on the premise that the New York city taxi system is a transportation utopia. That’s just silly, and Matt Sherman explains why.