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February 4, 2004 4:37 AM

When a judge last year ruled that P2P apps couldn't be outlawed due to the fact that they have valid non-copyright-infringing uses, he made the right call. I'm sure we can all agree on that, and I have an example of how P2P networks could be leveraged in such a way (to my benefit no less).

access-music has made a batch of loops available for use in GarageBand, but of course, the low price and hordes of wannaba musicians made the download popular. That of course was a bandwidth drain and access-music pulled the download. They should have just put the thing on the various P2P networks and called it a day.

For what it's worth, the file name of the loops collection is "AccessVirusLoops.dmg" which I'll be looking for tonight via Limewire.

January 21, 2004 11:08 AM

After the debacle of getting my broadband thru a fixed wireless provider, I have decided to take the plunge and sign up for cable based internet service from Adelphia (a name I do not trust). Adelphia is my only other choice when it comes to broadband connectivity in my neighborhood (which is a fiber based community by the way, so DSL is not gunna happen due to it being copper based).

A large community down the street from me is served by Adelphia and has historically suffered serious reliability and speed issues. That didn't fill me with confidence, but, when you're a crack smoker and you gotta get your bit fix, you'll dance with the devil. The 12 intro rate of $26/month was a major factor in the decision where I was paying triple that price for unreliable service. So taking the plunge wasn't too hard to do.

Of course the install didn't go very well. I have some networking experience and I know what a high pass filter is and what collision domains are, but still I had to have a couple of Adelphia techs come out and fiddle with my gear (it turns out the green box in the backyard needed some tweaks). Since then, I have yet to have an outage of any kind, but in the evenings the connection is dog ass slow where the fixed wireless solution was consistent in it's rate of thruput (when it was working).

I don't think I have EVER had an outage on my phone line (other than outages due to east coast black outs, hurricanes or Nor'Easters). Why is residential broadband so unreliable?

October 15, 2003 3:43 AM

There is no doubt at all that the Microsoft patent on custom web pages is being discussed all over the web today. I also have no doubt that there are precious few people out there who even know about this sort of issue and that it is an issue. At stake is a patent awarded to the most aggressively carnivorous business is the world, and a VERY common procedure for delivering web content.

If you read the patent, and I did, and you are a web developer, like me, you'll probably see a lot of procedures described that seem familiar. If you didn't read the patent info yet, take a look at the abstract...

User-selected customization information for a network (e.g., HTML) document is stored at a server with reference to user identifying information that uniquely identifies the user. Whenever the user navigates back to the network address of the HTML document, the user is identified automatically and receives a customized HTML document formed in accordance with the customization information.
This basically says that Microsoft owns a patent on any functionality on a web site where a user fills in a form and then gets back a page that has information customized based on the parameters of what was submitted over the network. Have you ever written a CGI? If so, you probably set up a scenario described by this patent.

There's an ironic/annoying twist to this. The patent explicitly mentions HTML as the display encoding language, and I can't find mention of other encoding types mentioned in the patent. So, one might think that a Flash based, network enabled application is the way to avoid a patent violation, right? Sure, but if that's supposed to appear in a web browser, you have to deal with the Eolas patent. If you think you can use XSLT and CSS instead, step back a second and check out the CSS patent disclosure page at the W3C.

July 11, 2003 10:00 AM

Here's the good idea...

A serious national broadband policy -- designed to bring 10 to 100 megabits of information per second to every home -- would be as crucial an economic-development and infrastructure tool as the roads of the previous century, Reed Hundt said at the Supernova technology conference in suburban Washington on Tuesday. Hundt served as FCC chairman during the first Clinton administration and is currently a senior adviser to consulting firm McKinsey & Co
Here's where it goes horribly wrong...
Hundt is arguing that broadband should be subsidized by federal taxpayers to the tune of $20 a month per household for as long as it takes to build the system.
I mean, puhleeze. I can't imagine that the Republicans would want to keep this money in the coffers it's supposed to be in (and instead move it into war machine funding or tax breaks for my bosses) and I know the Democrats would be salivating over the opportunity to spend this money on healthcare for my grandparents (who vote).

If anyone believes for one second that every American in the country should be paying a tax that only goes to service those who have computers, then you are an idiot. We already have plenty of those types of taxes, and many of them are for more socially responsible or benevolent.

Now, don't get me wrong, if there were 10 megabits flowing to any household that wanted it, the national infrastructure would be stronger, smarter and more capable. I've argued before that there are potential business plans out there that can only thrive on widespread broadband penetration. Economic development would accelerate with 10 megabits going to every home.

I don't trust a bureaucracy to do this right, it has to come from the business community, and I think wireless access is the answer.

June 11, 2003 9:54 AM

A very good point about cell phone number portability was made at winterspeak recently...

The FCC has ruled that cell phone users can take their numbers with them when they change service. Is this a victory for consumers? It is in the sense that the phone company owned the number before and they do now, so the transfer of wealth is now going to go from the phone company to the consumer, not the other way around. But I also anticipate more expensive and draconian upfront service agreements--if phone companies can't lock customers in as much (and they were never much good at this) they're going to try and get more of their money upfront.
Could it be argued though that the competition for new subscribers that goes on today will simply be applied to those who currently have cell service? After all, I am pretty much not the target of any cell phone adverts right now. If Verizon, Sprint PCS, T-mobile, AT&T and Cingular suddenly all want my business, wouldn't they attempt to appeal to me somehow?

Of course they would. But, if the current state of the industry is to offer long term contracts for lower monthly bills to NEW subscribers (even when the subscriber gets locked into the service by leveraging the number lock) then why would they not do that with those with service plans? What would stop them from doing that when people can come and go while keeping that one killer feature?

I suppose you'd have to tempt the subscriber with money, in the form of savings or perhaps in the form of contract buyouts, just like credit cards or car sales. "If you come over to us, and agree to a 2 year contract, we'll pay x amount of dollars towards your contract cancellation fee."

I'd have to guess that there would be at least a drop in monthly fees.

March 20, 2003 3:47 AM

The New York times reports about Intel's new Centrino chip, and make the point that Intel seems to think wireless networking is their idea. We nerds know Apple and Linksys were on that boat years ago (and now Linksys is being bought by Cisco), but more importantly we have this...

Although Pentium M chips are making their debut at speeds from 900 megahertz to 1.6 gigahertz, they're faster than previous mobile Pentium chips even in the 2.4-gigahertz range. For years, many consumers have assumed that more megahertz is always better, unaware that megahertz comparisons among different chip families are meaningless. It will be fascinating to see Intel, which for years has benefited from the Megahertz Myth, suddenly put into the position of having to dispel it.
Still though, my G4 running at 550 mhz is butt ass slow. I've got wireless access at the office though, with technology that's about ayear old, and includes zero Centrinos, so that's pretty cool.

February 26, 2003 1:11 AM

Amazon, and more specifically, Jeff Bezos has a new patent under his belt that, in the simplest of terms is...
A method and system for conducting an electronic discussion relating to a topic.
When I first heard that from a friend of mine, I thought the blogosphere was the target, and that Daypop might have a new number one item. Well, as of this moment, it's not the number one item at Daypop, and the blogosphere is going to be ok, because...
What is claimed is:
1. A method in a computer system of a non-participant for starting a discussion relating to an item offered for sale...
So, as long as I don't ever offer an item for sale as a blog posting, I'll be ok? That still seems overly simplistic, doesn't it... After all, I'm just one person, and I don't have any significant sales thruput (read: none at all).

My guess is that Epinions is the one that needs to be nervous about this. The vagueness of "discussion relating to an item offered for sale" blankets the Epinions business model (even if they don't sell the stuff themselves, the discussion is related to a product for sale).

I'm amazed that Amazon can patent things like this, or more to the point, that the US Patent Office allows it to happen. The last patent that seemed absurd was one click ordering that Apple actually licensed, which no doubt is making my Macintosh habit more expensive. [via Slashdot]

February 11, 2003 4:56 AM

Well, if this doesn't beat the band. Kentucky (!) has...

passed a mandate stating that all new housing units funded more than 50 percent by the KHC (Kentucky Housing Corp) must be equipped with access to high-speed Internet service.
What the hell?!?!

I live in a dot com community of about 5000 homes (apartments, townhouses, single family homes and big ass houses on the Golf Course) that is unable to get any broadband of any kind (no cable, no DSL). Also, we're 4 miles away from AOL, WorldCom and a Verizon CO, making the situation unbelievable to anyone I tell at work. I get laughed at! So now, Cletus is gunna have the fat bit pipe, and I'm not? Unbelievable.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm happy for Cletus, because he needs the help more than I do. The digital divide is growing my friends, growing really f'ing quick where things like RSS are news to the other geeks I know. Imagine a world where constant digital interconnectedness is not your daily experience. Imagine not immediately knowing that Kottke has a cold.

January 27, 2003 9:57 AM

Regarding peer to peer music sharing, Winterspeak notes...

1) Programming matters. Gary Curtis, for FullAudio said that their server stats showed an initial flurry of downloading when a new subscriber signed up, which then petered out after a few weeks. It turns out that having to know what content you want is a drawback of P2P networks. This certainly matches my experience filesharing -- I initially download lots of stuff, but then run out of inspiration.
And this is where a reputation system comes in and why record labels are so important. I know that music coming from Warp records is not only going to be of a certain style, but is going to be better than most other music coming from that genre. Knowing that, I will automatically buy or listen to something with the Warp label on it. Chances are that FullAudio, as mentioned above, could benefit from offering suggestions to subscribers based on their purchasing/listening habits. does this in their space.

I listen to a lot of music, to the tune of 6+ hours a day. Almost all of the new music I listen to comes from one reputation database, Usenet. There's a news group dedicated to electronic music (a 10 year obsession now) on Usenet that has an uncommonly GOOD signal to noise ratio. Almost anything mentioned there = me listening to it, and the feed seems limitless, so my consumption continues.

Also worth mentioning as a good place to find good electronic music is Radio@AOL. Who ever is the music director for the Ambient station knows their stuff, and the app always tells you what you are listening too. Consistently good music from the same source builds that source's reputation, but maintaining that is tough. Just turn on the radio and you will hear what I mean.

Do I read music reviews? Not anymore. Zappa said writing about music is like dancing about marshmallows, and while I think that's an idiotic thing to say, it's true. Music reviews always fail to tell me if the music is any good based on my tastes, and everyone is to afraid to say what the music sounds like. Instead, words like 'sublime' and 'mind bendingly' get thrown around like chips at a Craps table (and lost their value just as fast).

I want a music site modeled after where tons of categorical meta-data (eg, 'sounds like Boards of Canada') is attached to music releases of all kinds. Those who write good reviews devoid of marshmallow superlatives get rated up and make their recommendations more valuable. Hire some professional and well regarded DJ's to be music directors of their chosen genres and you've got some good rep mojo driving subs and downloads.

You can't just bake a pie and expect it to sell, you gotta let people know it's there and that it tastes good.

January 15, 2003 12:46 PM

Warchalking, as a method of finding and revealing (semi)public access WiFi networks, may indeed be unnecessary one day, but I'll wager that here in the US, it will take a while and be a process.

I live in a nice neighborhood, in an affluent community in Northern Virginia, surrounded by other dotcommers and tech workers. Starbucks is pretty close by, as is Home Depot, the firehouse, and a little company called AOL. There is so much fiber in the hill in front of my home that I fear the day that it's lit up the hill will explode and we'll all go blind from the bright light (fiber geeks: I know fibre doesn't leak light, I'm making a joke). A T-1 can be installed at my home from $600/month, however NO OTHER FORM OF BROADBAND IS AVAILABLE. Crazy.

Verizon is testing a fixed, non-line-of-site wireless system in my area. The transmitters are said to be very much like the large flat PCS/cellular antennas spread across the country. Seeing as there are only a few of them in existence, they can't be as cheap as a PCS antenna. So, consider your cell phone and its reception capabilities, especially if you live in the Suburban/rural borderlands. Not always perfect right?

Now, imagine the cost of outfitting every cell tower in the nation with fixed wireless antenna. This won't happen over night, even if Verizon's trials go very well. The holes in the WiFi blanket will outnumber the coverage areas for years to come, making Warchalking more useful than less useful for a good long time.

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