Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Life Caching

Trendwatching is a great free Newsletter looking at trends. It comes highly recommended. The latest trend turns out to be Life Caching....

Thanks to the onslaught of new technologies and tools, from blogging software to memory sticks to high definition camera phones with lots of storage space and other 'life capturing and storing devices', an almost biblical flood of 'personal content' is being collected, and waiting to be stored to allow for ongoing trips down memory lane.

TRENDWATCHING.COM has dubbed this emerging mega trend 'LIFE CACHING': collecting, storing and displaying one's entire life, for private use, or for friends, family, even the entire world to peruse. The LIFE CACHING trend owes much to bloggers: ever since writing and publishing one's diary has become as easy as typing in, millions of people have taken to digitally indexing their thoughts, rants and God knows what else; all online, disclosing the virtual caches of their daily lives, exciting or boring. Next came moblogging, connecting camera phones to online diaries, allowing not only for more visuals to be added to blogs, but also for real-time, on the go postings of experiences and events. And that's still just the beginning.

Why do we think this trend is ready to take off? Well, the necessary enablers are now all in place: required hardware and software are ubiquitious, there's ample availability of affordable storage space, blogging mentality is hitting the masses, and some of the major 'new economy' brands are getting in on the game, promising mass LIFE CACHING products at mass prices. We're talking Nokia, Microsoft, Google, Apple, Samsung and many more. All of this is putting in place an infrastructure for LIFE CACHING that will soon have GENERATION C and 'Generation Digital' caching every second of their existence.

A brief, random selection of some of the latest LIFE CACHING initiatives, to get you going:

• Nokia just launched its Lifeblog service: software that automatically arranges all messages, images, notes, videos and sound clips that consumers capture with their mobile phones, starting with the Nokia 6620 Imaging Phone, which comes with a 1.1 megapixel camera.*

Nokia's Lifeblog software runs on a PC: when a phone is connected to the machine, it will download all the content stored on the handset. It then populates a timeline with the information, arranging it chronologically, (with tags annotating when and where something was done, with help from codes that uniquely identify cell phone base stations). A full version of the software package costs approximately EUR 30/USD 37. (Source: BBC).

• In true LIFE CACHING fashion, Samsung's current "Show Your World" US ad campaign urges camera phone users to record their daily lives and turn them into movies. In one of the first commercials, a perky actress shoots her way through a love story, a rain storm, flambĂ©ed meals, a fashion show, a boardwalk game arcade, a hip night spot and a hotel balcony overlooking the Empire State Building. In Samsung's own words: "the most vibrant way to capture and share life experiences with family and friends." (Source: AdRants.) Expect the camera phone to become the centerpiece of LIFE CACHING around the globe.

• Microsoft's SenseCam is a badge-sized wearable camera that captures up to 2000 VGA images per day onto 128Mbyte FLASH memory. In addition, sensor data such as movement, light level and temperature is recorded every second. This is similar to an aircraft "Black Box" accident recorder but miniaturised for the human body. The SenseCam is part of Microsoft's LifeBits program, an experiment in lifetime storage.

• With Google's Gmail setting new standards for massive free storage of email messages, files and everything else, expect free online storage to become the new craze for millions of consumers engaging in LIFE CACHING. In Google's own words: "Don't throw anything away: 1,000 megabytes of free storage so you'll never need to delete another message." Other email services like Hotmail, Yahoo and Rediff are already following suit, piling up the extra hundreds of megabytes. TRENDWATCHING.COM expects services like Gmail to morph into the digital equivalent of self storage spaces now found in most big cities.

• Even more on storage. One of the lifelines of LIFE CACHING: from Malaysia to Hong Kong, key cord memory sticks and mini-MP3 players are the new Asian fashion accessory: with sticks storing up to 1 GB of content, consumers can (and do!) wear their entire 'digital life files' around their neck, from music to movies to documents to photos to presentations. It's LIFE CACHING going mobile: with sticks, MP3 players and camera phones boasting increased storage capacities, functionality, and quality, consumers will soon be able to show, play and share their entire LIFE with whomever, wherever.

• And last but not least, let's not forget Apple's mega-popular iPod: a new version in the works may contain up to 50 Gigabyte of storage space, which means even the biggest music fanatics will be able to forever build, store and carry their entire life collection of music (and soon video and data?), in a device the size of a pack of cigarettes.

Basically, LIFE CACHING is what happens after you've figured out how to provide your customers with an experience. More...

Luxemborg based for Itunes

Things are hotting up in Luxembourg. Already well known as a financial centre and the leading upload point for many of Europe's Satellite Digital Radio and TV services, Luxembourg is fast becoming a hub for locating a company's European e-Commerce operations.

There is a financial incentive. Recent EU regulations call for B2C operators to collect European Sales tax, or Value Added Tax, on sales of products and services delivered over the
Internet to European end users. As Luxembourg has the lowest level of VAT of
the 25 EU members, it is the logical choice for US companies to set up in
Europe. Microsoft Corp, Skype and Time Warner's America Online unit recently
announced plans to run their European operations from Luxembourg. And now
Apple iTunes has established a company here.

AOL Wins Patent for IM TV

Now this is interesting for researchers. It is a potentially powerful application. Although AOL won't go into details, the patent describes the gist of the new technology: When an AOL user pops up her buddy list, it would show what TV shows her friends are currently watching. Click a link, and her TV would change to that channel. "This enables friends to exchange messages that include links to a particular network or TV show," the patent says. Very intriguing.

In Holland, I notice kids saying "Tot MSN" instead of "Tot Ziens" and the notion of sharing TV experiences isn't that crazy. Worrying for "linear" programme makers though.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Dirty Bomb Distraction

The biggest danger from radiological weapons is the misplaced panic that they would cause, at least according to Richard A. Muller in an article last week (June 23rd). I see that CNN is again talking about "possible threats during 4th July" again.

Terrorists might attack the U.S. homeland again this summer, the Justice Department and the FBI warned last month. The same day, the Department of Energy announced a $450 million plan to counter terrorist nuclear weapons and dirty bombs. And shortly afterwards, the Justice Department released some details about Jose Padilla, the one-time street thug who had received extensive al Qaeda training and had hoped to explode a dirty bomb in the United States.

But according to the Justice Department announcement, al Qaeda had doubted that Padilla’s proposal to build a dirty bomb was practical. They directed him instead to blow up two apartment buildings using natural gas. They apparently felt that such an action would have a greater chance of spreading death and destruction than would a radiological weapon.

Al Qaeda was right. Perhaps that should scare you. Al Qaeda appears to understand the limitations of these devices better than do many government leaders, newspapers, and even many scientists.

Our experience with radiological weapons—the fancier name for dirty bombs—is limited. They do not require a chain reaction like fission or fusion weapons, but instead use ordinary explosives to spread pre-existing radioactive material. Saddam Hussein reportedly tested such a weapon in 1987, but abandoned the effort when he saw how poorly it worked. In 1995, Chechen rebels buried dynamite and a small amount of the radioactive isotope cesium-137 in Moscow’s Ismailovsky park. They then told a TV station where to dig it up. Perhaps they recognized the truth: that the bomb’s news value could be greater if it were discovered before it went off. For such weapons, the psychological impact can be greater than the limited harm they are likely to cause.

WFMT charges for Internet streams

This Chicago classical music station also distributes Radio Netherlands jazz material. Looks like they are really going to test if people are willing to pay for Internet audio feeds (my guess is only the really dedicated few).

After enjoying WFMT-FM (98.7) via their cable television systems for 25 years, thousands of listeners from coast to coast soon won't be hearing the classical music station anymore.

Due to the proverbial "circumstances beyond their control" -- in this case, a unilateral decision by Tribune Co. to drop the audio service next month from its cable superstation feed -- WFMT bosses are scrambling for a substitute method of distribution.

Starting in early July, the station will begin streaming its signal online on a paid-subscription basis. It is expected to cost $60 a year for WFMT Fine Arts Circle members and $100 a year for non-members.

Some insiders are dubious about creation of a pay-stream service, citing few successful broadcast models for such a system. But without a national presence, WFMT stands to lose much of its listenership, clients and revenue.

Listeners interested in the new service are invited to write to:

WiMAX 'Overhyped,' But Arriving On Schedule

This interesting article from Ted Shelton, IP Inferno

CHICAGO -- Dr. Mohammad S. Shakouri, the chair of the marketing working group for the WiMAX Forum, is worried that WiMAX has been overhyped.

"This isn't our doing, it is the marketplace getting excited before the technology is ready," said Shakouri, the assistant vice president for business development at WiMAX equipment vendor Alvarion. Shakouri, interviewed at the Supercomm show here Tuesday, worries that WiMAX may suffer the same fate as Bluetooth.

"It (Bluetooth) is a great technology, but the expectations were so high there was disappointment." For the WiMAX Forum, he said, "managing the hype and executing over the next few years are our biggest problems." The WiMAX Forum, a marketing organization created to promote the various flavors of the 802.16 standard, has more than 100 members, including big names like Intel, Fujitsu, Alcatel and AT&T, as well as providers like Qwest, British Telecom and France Telecom.

Despite concerns about the technology being overly promoted, Shakouri is pleased at WiMAX's progress. He said Tuesday's announcement that Motorola is joining the WiMAX Forum will be joined by more big-name announcements. "Samsung, Lucent, and Nortel -- at least two of these three will definitely be on board soon," Shakouri said.

Shakorui said there are two timelines important for understanding when the marketplace will actually have WiMAX products -- the schedule for standards approval, and when real products will be available. On the standards side, 802.16a was the initial standard and is for fixed broadband wireless. This was published back at the beginning of 2004. The next two standards are "d" and "e" -- with "d" WiMAX adds portability and with "e" mobility. The 802.16d standard has been approved and will be published by mid-July. The 802.16e standard is expected to be approved by the end of Q1 2005 and published in mid-2005.

On implementations, the WiMAX Forum expects to provide WiMAX certification for the first devices, with interoperability between manufacturers, by mid-2005. In the meantime, there are a set of vendors providing "pre-WiMAX" products.

Such products are helpful to early adopters who are already running trials to gain expertise and ready themselves for full rollouts. Europe is leading the overall market, with British Telecom and France Telecom already trialing pre-WiMAX equipment. Shakouri expects that there will be a few Asian service providers in trials within the next three to four months.

While Europe and Asia are leading the charge into WiMAX, the U.S. will be a laggard. This is primarily an issue with spectrum availability, since some of the applicable WiMAX sprectrum is used for military applications in America, while control and availability in other areas of the wireless spectrum remains uncertain. Shakouri expects that it will be late 2005 before WiMAX installations start appearing in the U.S.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Comdex Dead?

Comdex is dead - Long live the Consumer Electronics Fair - I guess

MediaLive International, Inc. today announced that COMDEX® Las Vegas 2004 has been postponed in order to reshape the event with the cooperation of information technology (IT) industry leaders. COMDEX® 2004 had been scheduled to open November 14, 2004, in Las Vegas. The company has established a COMDEX Advisory Board representing the IT industry's foremost companies to determine how COMDEX® can best meet the future needs of the industry.

Dutch Meet Up

Interesting to see how Dutch speakers worldwide seem to be organising themselves....a major event in a few days time.

Friday, June 25, 2004

DRM Receiver Update

Not all that impressed with the Mayah DRM 2010 shortwave portable radio. It only runs on mains power and that is highly polluted with compter gunk. May be it was deliberate, but the power unit only came with a 220 v power supply. Bought another one at Frys which was supposed to be quiet and stablized - it is. So, only chance to test the set will be when I get my hotel room with a balcony.

So, I believe in the system...just not in this early receiver.

Superb Supernova

Spent a few days zooming up and down Silicon Valley, mainly just observing things. There is a clearly a buzz back in the valley and some interesting projects are starting to roll out. A lot is under wraps...I didn't have to sign a non-disclosure but it was made clear that if I ever wanted more info, then watch but don't talk. Bought Clinton's book on CD.. I want to hear him read his own stuff. talks so far from Kevin Werbach, CEO, Supernova Group and Thomas W. Malone, Professor, MIT Sloan School of Management. He's a great speaker and insightful as to where business is going. Ray Ozzie, CEO, Groove Networks Inc talked a lot about the networks they are building for the military in Iraq and the problems of integrating the various services. In the break out sessions in the afternoon
Greg Reinacker, CEO, Newsgator, Tara Lemmey, LENS Ventures and John Robb, Global Guerillas were the best speakers I saw. More later, when I can get access to the network again...lots of viruses around this sunny Friday morning.

Monday, June 21, 2004

In Search of Luggage

What does BA stand for? Baggage Answering-machine? Baggage Astray? I think so, as I arrived in San Francisco without my suitcase. Flight to here was re-routed via Denver which was enjoying some terrible thunderstorms on Friday. "Do not worry, teams of people are working on your re-booking" was the story in Heathrow as I moved from terminal 4 to Terminal 1 and back again. (The initial BA flight from Amsterdam was delayed by 2 hours because there was one to many suitcases on board). Arrived 7 hours late in SFO to find no-one from BA. United helped me out in the end. BA baggage wanted a 10 figure baggage number (my baggage had an 8 figure label) before they would even answer the phone - absolutely useless. United has a voice response system called Steve, who found my baggage by Sunday morning. I thought Air France was bad - but discovered BA is worse.

But it did give an excuse to wander round Frys in Palo Alto - in theory I was looking for a battery charger. I see that large screen TVs are being pushed as High Definition - when in fact they are only HD ready. No-one could demo me a HD picture. US is indeed way ahead when it comes to useful Wi-Fi gadgets, but seems to have given up already on Bluetooth (probably too slow). The hotel (in fact all the hotels) have free Wireless ADSL access. No wonder they get cross when hotels in Amsterdam want to charge you 40 dollars A DAY to get a similar service.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Broadband Wifi Growth In Latin America

"We expect wireless-enabled POS terminals to become more mainstream over the next several years, particularly when the solution is delivered with the right partners," said Bill Nichols, Verifone's marketing director for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Since emerging from the fringe "Free Network Movement" early in the new millennium, Wi-Fi wireless networking technology, also known as 802.11, has moved rapidly into the mainstream. The technology has gathered many adherents involved in one aspect or another of e-commerce, from network equipment suppliers and e-payment service providers to traditional online merchants.
With their ease of installation, low cost and high performance, wireless networks now are adding users and advocates in Latin America and other developing markets around the world.

Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, the title of "world's first Wi-Fi-linked e-payments network" is claimed by The Mall of San Marino in Guayaquil, Ecuador. To create this network, which supports physical and online retail sales and management for the Mall's 250-plus merchants, U.S.-based e-payments equipment and services provider Verifone joined with wireless network equipment supplier D-Link's South American subsidiary and local payments processor MediaNet.

The Mall's Wi-Fi project team was able to eliminate merchants' multiple dial-up phone lines and Internet access points. Instead, the team limited the number of access lines to one or two per merchant site on average -- one primary and one backup -- by using IP-based Wi-Fi and wired Ethernet LANs to network Verifone's Omni3750 multimodal network access point-of-sale terminals within stores.
Not only did this cut merchants' long-distance phone charges, but the online wireless network and systems platform provided 24-7 availability. It also improved payment processing speeds and the transfer of data to merchants' management centers by up to 350 percent, or an average four seconds per transaction, according to project team participants.

"We expect wireless-enabled POS terminals to become more mainstream over the next several years, particularly when the solution is delivered with the right partners," said Bill Nichols, Verifone's marketing director for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Linking the World

Further south, D-Link South America recently completed the first phase of a satellite-based wireless networking project that has, for the first time, brought affordable Internet access and telecommunications services to the small, isolated pueblo of Cora Cora in the south of Chile's Ayacucho province.

More from ecommerce times

Sirius Survives... Just

Sirius stock survives a critical report yesterday morning from Wachovia Securities.
The Wall Street firm predicts Sirius will have to raise additional capital by 2006 and says it's "unlikely" to hit its goal of free cash flow breakeven - with 2 million subscribers - by the end of 2005. But the Sirius stock price withstands the bad news.

In the meantime XM Radio has already passed the 2 million mark. Interesting to see that in Silicon Valley, at least, Sirius seems to have a higher profile. I thought some of their packaging was misleading though. There is a 99 dollar home radio in the special offer bin at Frys, one of the California's leading electronics outlets. But the box says only in very small print that you will need a holder and dish, not included in the price. I guess some people were disappointed on Father's Day.

Digital Radio AntiPiracy

This from John Borland Staff Writer, CNET

June 16, 2004, 5:30 PM PDT

Consumer groups, electronics companies and record labels squared off Wednesday in the first full public airing of proposals for antipiracy protections for digital radio networks.
Digital radio, which transforms traditional over-the-air broadcasts into the same kind of bits and bytes used in Internet transmissions, promises to boost the audio quality of FM signals to that of a CD. But it also holds out the promise of transforming radio listening in the same way that TiVo hard drive-based recorders have changed TV--by providing powerful recording and playback options.

The new medium has attracted the attention of the Federal Communications Commission, which recently began a proceeding that could end up laying out content protection rules and other regulations for it.

On Wednesday, the Recording Industry Association of America asked the FCC for new antipiracy protections that would prevent listeners from archiving songs without paying for them--and from trading recorded songs online. The RIAA and musicians' trade groups are worried that consumers might one day forgo buying albums or songs from iTunes-like services in favor of recording CD-quality songs off digital radio services.

"We know this (technology) will be attractive to consumers," RIAA Chief Executive Officer Mitch Bainwol said. "For us, it's the challenge that peer-to-peer introduces but made more complex by the fact that there are no viruses, there is no spyware or other file-sharing (problems)."

The debate is shaping up to resemble the earlier discussion around digital television technology, which similarly had movie studios worried that their products would be recorded and traded online. Both debates have pitted powerful forces against each other in Washington, D.C., and have given content companies a key role in helping shape the future of a nascent technological medium.

In digital radio, the RIAA would like to see music transmissions encrypted so that only authorized receivers that follow content protection rules could play the songs. It would also like to see a "flag" inserted in a song's data stream to prevent any recordings made from being transmitted online.

Those ideas have drawn deep opposition from consumer groups and electronics companies, which say the FCC has no congressional mandate to impose content protection on radio broadcasts of any kind.

"Interfering with radio broadcasters' shift to digital broadcasting would choke off advancement and modernization," Gary Shapiro, president of the Consumer Electronics Association, said in a statement released Wednesday. "Not only is that un-American, it's totally without merit."

Consumer groups echoed Shapiro's opposition to the RIAA's proposals.

"No one at the Recording Industry Association of America or the FCC has demonstrated any need whatsoever for content protection on a service that doesn't exist in the U.S.," said Gigi Sohn, co-founder of Public Knowledge, a copyright campaign group that is working with Consumers Union and the Consumer Federation of America on the issue. "The recording industry is trying to fool the FCC into regulating home taping of radio, which is protected by law."

The first round of comments on the digital radio issues had a deadline of Wednesday for submission to the FCC. Another round of comments is due on July 16.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Blackout hits major Web sites

This from CNET explains difficulty with some e-mails over the last few hours. Thanks to Lou Josephs for the tip.

June 15, 2004, 11:20 AM PT

A domain name outage Tuesday morning left many popular Web sites such as Yahoo, Google, and temporarily inaccessible, according to a Web research company.

For just more than two hours--from 5:30 a.m. to 7:45 a.m. PDT--many of the world's most popular sites suffered from widespread outages, according to Keynote Systems, which compiles statistics related to Web surfing. On a typical day, the top 40 sites measured by Keynote rarely dip below 99 percent availability. On Tuesday, however, Keynote saw availability drop to 81 percent.

Keynote said the site blackouts stemmed from an outage suffered by Akamai Technologies' domain name server system, which translates word-based URLs into numeric Web addresses to link surfers to company sites.

Though Keynote did not have solid confirmation of the source of the issue, one executive there speculated that Akamai may have suffered a denial-of-service attack. DoS attacks flood a company's servers with millions of simultaneous requests for data. The attacks often overwhelm and shut down servers.

"I know folks who built Akamai's infrastructure, and they are really sharp people," Lloyd Taylor, vice president of technology at Keynote, said in an interview. "While it's possible that there was internal failure, I think it's a low possibility."

An Akamai representative did not return calls requesting comment.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Spectrum Opens Up in the US

Internet Policy weblog just carried this significant piece of news...

Jeffrey Silva wrote for RCR Wireless News on 10 June: "The [US] Federal Communications Commission today opened a huge swath of spectrum for wireless broadband services, creating incentives for businesses to invest in a third digital pipe to homes and businesses across the country... Nearly 200 MegaHertz in the 2.5 GHz band will become available for wireless broadband services. By revamping the 2.5 GHz band, it is now technically feasible and financially attractive to deploy wireless broadband systems [in the United States].... The FCC set a three-year transition period for [existing licensees in the 2.495 - 2.690 GHz band] to adapt to new rule changes, and established guidelines for negotiations among stakeholders. At the same time, the commission launched a new inquiry to study whether other mechanisms—including auctions—can be employed to maximize use of 2.5 GHz frequencies."

Additional details from Roy Mark at "The new rules restructure the band currently used by Multipoint Distribution Services (MDS) - commercial operators who send data and video programming - and Instructional Television Fixed Services (ITFS) used by schools and other educational entities... In addition, the FCC renamed the MDS service the Broadband Radio Service (BRS)... 'The magnitude of today's ruling is apparent when one considers that this band is double the spectrum that sparked the Wi-Fi explosion at 2.4GHz and equivalent to the entire spectrum devoted to terrestrial mobile wireless services,' FCC Chairman Michael Powell said."

Click here for the FCC news release about this decision...which came on the same day that the FCC unveiled their Internet history website.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Wireless Wifi Wireless

I'm watching this UK company to see when they release their WiFi radio on the market. Hope they don't go the same way of the Kerbango set or the (useless) Philips Streamium radio. But I see the photos are changing and someone has made a mock-up of the set in a kitchen.

Wonder what it sounds like.....

Digitale Radio Mondiale Schedule Data

I'll be testing out this new Mayah DRM 2010 shortwave portable radio during a trip to the USA. In theory, I should have "FM quality" of European stations like BBC and Radio Netherlands while driving around the West Coast.

Radio Academy Festival Birmingham

Also looks to be a great conference in the UK for radio fans.

SuperNova Blog

Supernova starts in around 10 days time. Looks to be a very interesting event. Hope also to visit a few radio and TV stations that have gone the HDTV TV route.

Ideas? Use the comments section

Friday, June 11, 2004

Doing their own thing

Chinese working on their own HD TV system, other operating systems...and now their own DBS satellites...

Paris, June 11, 2004 - Alcatel announced today that it signed a contract with China Satellite Communication Corporation (ChinaSat) to design and produce a new-generation communications satellite, Chinasat 9. This direct broadcasting satellite will enable ChinaSat to be the first state-owned Chinese company to provide satellite broadcast services in China.

The contract was signed this morning in the presence of the Chinese Vice Prime Minister in charge of the Economy, Zeng Peiyan; the French Prime Minister, Jean-Pierre Raffarin; the President of ChinaSat, Zhang Hainan; the CEO of Alcatel, Serge Tchuruk; and the CEO of Alcatel Space, Pascale Sourisse.

The Chinasat 9 satellite, based on the Spacebus 4000 C1 platform, will be fitted with 22 active Ku-band transponders for broadcast satellite services (BSS), including eighteen 36-MHz and four 54-MHz channels. Chinasat 9 will weigh about 4,500 kilograms at liftoff and offer life power of about 11 kW. Positioned at 92.2 degrees East (or 134 degrees East), it will offer a design life of more than 15 years.

This satellite will be launched by a Chinese Long March rocket. Alcatel Space will be in charge of the launch campaign, orbital positioning, in-orbit tests and delivery of a satellite simulator.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Quote of the Day

"The brain is a wonderful organ. It starts working the moment you get up in the morning and does not stop until you get into the office" (R. Frost)

Empty Second Hand Hard Drives?

Earlier this spring, Peter Larsson, CEO of data-security firm Pointsec Mobile Technologies, ordered 100 hard drives from e-Bay to see if there was any data on the drives that could be read: Data on 70 of the drives was readable.
“With some of them it was quite apparent that there was information that shouldn't be available,” he said in an interview Wednesday. In one case, he paid $10 for a hard drive that contained extremely sensitive information on one of Europe's largest financial groups--information on customer databases, payroll records, login codes, and passwords.

It all began last fall, Larsson said, when he visited O'Hare Airport, in Chicago, and Denver International Airport, as well as Heathrow and Gatwick, in the U. K. He asked officials if he could examine abandoned and lost laptops that were for sale at auction. Like all prospective bidders, he was able to examine several laptops and found that, without exception, the data was easy to read

Click title for the rest of the story from Techweb

Airport Wi-Fi Mutual Interference Problems

Just went to a Wi-Fi conference in Amsterdam. No way could I get onto the Wi-fi connections with all the Bluetooth interference off the booths.

This interesting article via the internetpolicy blog from a Wall Street Journal article by Amy Schatz, via the Benton Foundation's Communications-Related Headlines:

"A tragedy of the commons, of sorts, is taking place inside America's airports as competing Wi-Fi networks are interfering with each other. Since Wi-Fi signals have a radius of 300 feet or less and interference problems tend to be localized, the FCC hasn't regulated them. But in some cases the systems used by carriers to track baggage have been blasted out by systems used by other parties to provide other services. Airport management has stepped in, insisting that airlines get permission before installing their own systems so the terminal managers can prevent problems with signal interference. Others are asking airlines to make sure that they limit their Wi-Fi signals to within the boundaries of allotted space in the airport -- a request many airlines consider unreasonable. Some airports are taking the notion of managing Wi-Fi a step further: They are installing their own networks. But some airlines fume that airports don't have the legal authority to ration the airwaves. They also worry that their own multimillion-dollar systems could be jeopardized: If an airline's Wi-Fi hardware isn't compatible with an airport-installed network, the carrier would have to buy a whole new system. So what do you do? Turn to the regulators, of course. The FCC is being asked to step in and decide whether or not landlords -- airports in this case -- have the right to restrict the use of unlicensed frequencies."

China: websites with streaming video need broadcast license reports today that "China has stipulated a set of rules on broadcasting DV (digital video) productions via TV stations, cinemas, film festivals or exhibitions, and the Internet, in a bid to step up regulation of their content, according to the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television. China has seen a rapid popularization of mini-DV cameras in recent years and DV productions made by some organizations and individuals have become a source of audiovisual programs for TV stations and Internet websites, said a circular issued by the administration recently... [A] small portion of DV productions are obscure and negative in theme and content, with some of them sent overseas for exhibition. 'That has caused a bad effect,' the circular said.

"The administration therefore demanded all DV productions be approved before being broadcast on TV stations, in cinemas, and on the Internet... 'Those violating relevant regulations or lacking taste and having incorrect themes are forbidden to be broadcast and spread,' the administration said. 'Those concerning religion, nationality, and sensitive subjects must seek advice and get approval from the local government departments concerned before being broadcast, it said. 'Those productions whose content is questionable or may cause negative effect on society are forbidden to be broadcast.' ...Internet websites must obtain a license for releasing audiovisual programs before broadcasting DV productions..."


Wednesday, June 09, 2004

UNICEF Winners

I was one of the judges on this competition. A lot of the stuff was indeed very creative and inspiring. Luckily, they have not fallen into the terrible trap facing many western broadcasters - routine.

UNICEF and OneWorld Radio announce the winners of "Children's Lives, Children's Voices", their annual competition for the best radio produced by, for, and with children. Children from the Democratic Republic of Congo and children from El Salvador are the big winners, with children from Afghanistan and Burundi running a close second place.

Listen to the winners and to all the entries at the OneWorld Radio site.

There were two categories in the competition: features up to 5 minutes long and spots up to 60 seconds long.

The winner in the features category is Sisi Watoto (We, The Children), by
Search for Common Ground in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Presented by children aged 16 and 17, the programme gives a voice to Congo's children affected by war in that nation.

The runner-up in the features category is Shahrak Atfal (Children's City), by
Internews Afghanistan. Produced by children aged 7 to 13, it is set in an
ideal imagined city, and features an interactive radio, an invisible parrot,
and a flying carpet.

The winner in the spots category is a radio campaign by Radio UPA in El
Salvador. It covers six basic children's rights: education, participation,
environment, the right to be heard, not to be abused, and access to HIV/AIDS

The runner-up in the spots category is a call for peace from Studio Ijambo in Burundi. It was produced with primary school children in Bujumbura during a time of high tension prior to the handover of power from a Tutsi President to a Hutu President.

Besides entries from the winners, the contest brought entries from countries on every continent including: South Africa, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Indonesia, Venezuela, Ukraine, Colombia, Germany, Mali, Peru, Australia, Mexico, Belize, Mongolia, Benin, Togo, Burkina Faso, United States.

Small is beautiful

This kind of development is good news for those who want to put digital radio on the air....

PORTLAND, Ore. — A four-year skunk works effort at the University of Rhode Island in Kingston has cut the size of an antenna by as much as one-third for any frequency from the KHz to the GHz range.

Using conventional components the four-part antenna design cancels out normal inductive loading, thereby linearizing the energy radiation along its mast and enabling the smaller size.

"The DLM [distributed load monopole] antenna is based on a lot of things that currently exist," said the researcher who invented the smaller antenna, Robert Vincent of the university's physics department, "but I've been able to put a combination of them together to create a revolutionary way of building antennas. It uses basically a helix plus a load coil."

The patent-pending design could transform every antenna-from the GHz models for cell phones to the giant, KHz AM antennas that stud the high ground of metropolitan areas-Vincent said.

For cellphones, for example, Vincent said he has a completely planar design that is less than a third the size of today's cellphone antennas. And those 300-foot tall antennas for the 900-KHz AM band that dominate skylines would have to be only 80 feet high, with no compromise in performance, using Vincent's design, he said.

"With my technique, I reduce the inductive loading that is normally required to resonate the antenna by as much as 75 percent . . . by utilizing the distributed capacitance around the antenna," he explained.

"I looked at all the different approaches used to make antennas smaller, and there seemed to be good and bad aspects" to each, Vincent said. "A helix antenna is normally known to be a core radiator, because the current profile drops off rapidly; they are just an inductor, and inductance does not like to see changes in current, so it's going to buck that.

"What I found was that for any smaller antenna, if you place a load coil in the middle you can normalize and make the current through the helix unity; that is, you can maximize it and linearize it," he added.

Vincent has verified designs from 1.8 MHz to 200 MHz by measuring and characterizing the behavior of his DLM antenna compared with a normal quarter-wave antenna of the same frequency. He found that many of the disadvantages of traditional antennas were not problems for the much lighter inductive loading in a DLM.

To check his theory, Vincent analyzed and compared the current profiles, output power and a score of other standard tests for measuring antenna performance. All measurements were in reference to comparative measurements made on a quarter-wave vertical antenna for the same frequency, on the same ground system and same power input.

"I was able to increase the current profile of the antenna over a quarter-wave by as much as two to 2.5 times," said Vincent.

"The technology is completely scalable: Take the component values and divide them by two, and you get twice the frequency; take all the component values and multiply them by two, and you are at half the frequency," said Vincent.

Vincent said he is moving up into the GHz bands for use with cellphones and radio-frequency ID equipment. A problem in the past has been that as components are downsized, they become too small to utilize standard antenna materials. At 1 GHz, for example, the helix is only eight-thousandths of an inch in diameter and requires more than 100 turns of wire.

"So I came up with a new way of developing a helix for high frequencies that is a fully planar design; it's a two-dimensional helix," said Vincent.

With the new helix design, Vincent has built a prototype 7-GHz antenna that he claims is indistinguishable from a quarter-wave antenna in all but its size. "Because the new design is completely planar, we could crank these out using thin-film technologies," Vincent said.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Venus Transit Day

Got up early because today, Venus - the Earth's sister planet - passes in front of the Sun as seen from the Earth. This very rare event (no living person has ever seen one!) lasts about 6 hours and will be visible from most of Europe, Africa and Asia.

It will most certainly generate unprecedented attention from the media and the public, not just in these areas, but all over the world.

This website link above describes the VT-2004 project that is related to this celestial event and which aims at transforming curiosity into knowledge and interest in science through a broad set of actions.

Nice movie from Colby here

Wanadoo Nothing

There is a new BroadbandNetwork in Holland which has done deals with (amongst others) Wanadoo. I spent far too much of last month trying to get a BBNed connection working on Wanadoo ADSL Direct. Of course, you still need a phone connected to the standard KPN network. However, KPN would sell me a modem but wouldn't help with installation (don't know the settings for the modem). But at least they knew what settings were wrong. The Wanadoo helpdesk was truly the worst experience I have ever had in 25 years in the business - know nothing, never answer e-mails, and do nothing to solve problems....all this while they charge you 10 cents a minute and take 20 minutes to answer the phone! They come across as a bunch of kids with order forms. In the end, the modem site had the software I was looking for - so it turned out to be a " B & Q" solution - do it yourself.

I wonder if any of the executives at Wanadoo have spent a day at their helpdesk call centre. I doubt it.

Sony Effectively Quits PDA Business

Looks to me as though the Palm platform is dead unless it can do a MUCH better sales job getting into the Smartphone business. I was amazed at how obtuse Handspring were in getting ahead of Sony Ericsson with their TREO line of Smartphones. I was an early adopter - had the black and white Treo which lasted less than a day between battery charges. Was there a way I could upgrade to a better model later? Not in Europe - "sorry Sir, we don't offer special prices to upgrade existing users". Sorry Palm, you won't be around in 3 years. Incredible! Apple fell into the same trap when it switched lines from Apple II to the Macintosh. Should have offered a special deal to existing users to go with the new line of computers. But no, if you were an existing user, you had a legacy problem. Almost killed Apple in the Netherlands.

Now the story (link in the headline above)

In the face of declining overall sales of handheld devices, Sony said on June 1st 2004 that it is backing out of the handheld business in the United States. The company said in a statement that it will not release any new models of its Palm OS-based Clie handhelds in the U.S., although it will continue to release new models in Japan.

"Sony is reassessing the direction of the conventional PDA market, and Sony will not introduce any new Sony Clie handheld models in the United States this fall," the company said in a statement. However, the company did say that it will continue to develop consumer devices with wireless capabilities and that it will also collaborate with Sony Ericsson, the mobile phone company it co-owns with Ericsson. It provided no details about that collaboration, however.

Many recent market studies have pointed to declining sales of handhelds and a corresponding increase in sales of smartphones and other wireless mobile devices. Sony and its Clie line of handhelds were the second-largest user of the Palm platform after devices developed by palmOne.

Monday, June 07, 2004

Progress on broadcasters' treaty

Your stuff is still going to be ripped off the web whether you like or not.....

Representatives of nine broadcasting associations from around the world have just met in Geneva to assess the progress that is being made towards their goal of an international treaty to protect broadcasters' rights to be concluded under the auspices of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

Speaking after the meeting Moira Burnett of the European Broadcasting Union
said: "There is now a fair chance that WIPO will call a Diplomatic Conference in 2005 on the basis that further work on the protection of webcasters will be postponed until after the broadcasters' treaty has been adopted."

Starting today government experts at WIPO will be meeting in Geneva to consider a consolidated text which brings together the proposals made by individual governments over the last six years. It will be for governments to decide when the stage has been reached at which the date for a Diplomatic Conference should be set. The question of inclusion of protection for webcasters has found virtually no support from governments, which would prefer to give priority to broadcasters' rights at this stage and to consider webcaster issues later on.

The nine broadcasting associations referred to are the Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU), Association of Commercial Broadcasters in Europe (ACT), Arab States Broadcasting Union (ASBU), European Broadcasting Union (EBU), North American National Broadcasters Association (NABA), National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), Union of National Radio and Television Organizations of Africa (URTNA), National Association of Commercial Broadcasters in Japan (NAB-Japan), Televisa, Mexico.

DirecTV to dump Spaceway?

Inside Satellite's 'Comment' page in the last issue spoke about the challenges that Europe's broadband suppliers are facing in getting economical high-speed services onto satellite. Now it seems that Rupert Murdoch is having the same thoughts over DirecTV's 'Spaceway' project. Spaceway was DirecTV's former owner Hughes' spectacular set of highly-sophisticated Ka-Band orbital assets designed to supply America's rural heartland with high-speed broadband-oversatellite.

If so, quite a few people in the US are going to have trouble getting broadband to middle America. Cable is out of the question and ADSL impractical.

Good newsletter, by the way, recommended.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

The Resonance of Listening

Colby Stuart writes some great things, like on why we often listen but don't hear. Check out her blog in Amsterdam

Sound resonates in our very being. As the sound reverberates in our bones, in our mind, and in our soul, it reaches an acoustical alchemy that resonates within the source of our Being. Our ears are tuned to hear these sounds, ready to prickle as the invisible waves pound an emotional path to unexpected destinations.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Crisis Zones & Media Trust

Good article in today's International Herald Tribune by the founder of Media Action International, now defunct because of some rather short sighted thinking in Switzerland. The author is Edward Girardet, a journalist who has reported on conflict and humanitarian situations worldwide for more than 25 years.

CESSY, France. The millions of people caught up in disaster every year, whether refugees from Bosnia and Chechnya or war-torn populations in Congo, Liberia and Sudan, need immediate information in order to survive. They need to know where there is food aid, where to find shelter, where land mines are a danger.
That's why, six years ago, I and other journalists founded a nonprofit organization called Media Action International, which undertook media projects, like radio broadcasts with news about relief efforts, aimed at helping people get information so they could rebuild their lives after disasters and war. Media Action couldn't get enough financing to stay in operation, and so it is now winding down. But the need to get information to refugees remains.
One of the first things people need, even before receiving food or medical relief, is reliable information on their situation: how to keep their children healthy in dusty refugee camps, how to avoid dangerous zones, how to trace lost relatives. Often, too, populations are perplexed by the sudden influx of aid agencies, or can't understand why the military forces that only yesterday were bombing their country are now acting as peacekeepers.
Unfortunately, many donor countries and organizations don't seem to agree. They are willing to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on emergency food, shelter and medical supplies, but refuse to help aid recipients receive the information they need to cope. In some ways, that is understandable: after all, it is far easier to talk about distributing 300 tons of food or medical aid than about ensuring access to credible and independent information.
Other donors simply find it difficult to see how information fits into their missions. Is it humanitarian? Or is it part of development, education or human rights? While some governments, like the British and Dutch, have clearly understood the need, others have not. Many fail to grasp that information touches on all these domains.
Thus, for many donors, information is simply not a priority. Or it is something to be controlled, like the U.S. Agency for International Development's policy of channeling financing for information in Iraq, Afghanistan and West Africa through front organizations that have nothing to do with the news media.
Like Media Action International, other nongovernment media organizations - Fondation Hirondelle, Institute for War and Peace Reporting, Internews and Search for Common Ground - are all having difficulty convincing donors to let them serve as communications bridges between the international community and populations in crisis. Likewise, there is an urgent need for more conventional reporting of humanitarian crises and wars worldwide.
One option being proposed by several journalists is the creation of an independent media trust fund financed by governments, foundations, business and news organizations. Headed by news media and aid professionals, this would make grants to nongovernment organizations as well as journalists seeking to undertake public information initiatives, like television documentaries, to highlight critical issues.
Such a fund would help fill the gap for important information in crises. It would also go a long way toward recognizing the importance of information as a need - and a human right.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

The end of static passwords?

As more Web sites demand passwords, scammers are getting more clever about stealing them. Hence the need for such "passwords-plus" systems.

To access her bank account online, Marie Jubran opens a Web browser and types in her Swedish national ID number along with a four-digit password.

For additional security, she then pulls out a card that has 50 scratch-off codes. Jubran uses the codes, one by one, each time she logs on or performs a transaction. Her bank, Nordea PLC, automatically sends a new card when she's about to run out.

Scandinavian countries are among the leaders as many online businesses abandon static passwords in favor of so-called two-factor authentication.

Information Kiosks in every Indian village by 2007 - a myth or reality?

OneWorld South Asia and MS Swaminathan Research Foundation are hosting an online discussion over the next six weeks. The major themes for this email and web-based discussion are: Scalability, Sustainability and Collaboration. The Sectoral focus within each of these themes would be on Education, Health and Livelihoods.

A summary of the discussions would be shared at two separate national workshops on technology and policy issues on the ICT4D initiatives. These workshops are tentatively scheduled to be held in Delhi, towards the end of June and early July 2004. This is an open debate, so any one can join. The organisers would specially like to invite groups, individuals and organizations, policy planners and practitioners interested in technology, ICT and development issues to join in these discussions.

Joining this discussion list is easy!

Just send a blank e-mail message to:

On successful sign-up, you will receive an email giving you a password and other relevant details.

Completing the Revolution: The Challenge of Rural Telephony in Africa

A new report from Panos questions whether mobile services can become cheap enough to meet rural needs, whether new technologies are making traditional fixed-line infrastructures obsolete, and whether the level of rural phone use will ever be enough to provide a profitable market for private providers or will substantial subsidy be needed to ensure rural services?

In the midst of the current enthusiasm for ‘ICTs for development’, it is often forgotten that most rural Africans do not yet even have access to telephones. Initiatives such as the World Summit on the Information Society aspire to bridge the digital divide in order to reduce poverty and achieve the Millennium Development Goals, but this aim risks being undermined if basic telephone connectivity is not first made available.

In most of rural Africa, there is only one telephone for every thousand people. It is true that the number of phones in Africa has risen enormously in the past decade, especially since liberalisation, but most of the new telephones are mobiles, and they are mostly in cities. For rural people, buying and using a mobile phone is very expensive – a single call can cost as much as half the daily wage of an agricultural worker.

Will mobile services become cheap enough to meet rural needs? Are satellite and other new technologies making traditional fixed-line infrastructures obsolete? Will the level of rural phone use ever be enough to provide a profitable market for private providers, or will substantial subsidy be needed to ensure rural services? These and other questions should be much more widely debated.

At present, the lack of rural connections is often hidden behind impressive overall figures for the growth of telephony. Important development Initiatives such as NEPAD and the World Summit on the Information Society focus on internet-based ICTs, and where they mention telephony at all it is in general terms. This report, based on case studies from Burkina Faso, Senegal, Uganda and Zambia, argues that policy-makers should pay more attention to the challenge of providing telephones to rural people in Africa. If they do not, the development benefits of the information revolution will by-pass many of the world’s poorest people.

I don't think most NGO's realise the power of linking phone systems with local community broadcasters as a way of empowering communities. PANOS is one of the few exceptions.