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Showing posts from 2008

The Wall Street Journal, Net Neutrality, and the Devil in the Details

I was a bit stunned to read this article in the Wall Street Journal today about the defenders of Net Neutrality backing down. The story was picked up and parroted by multiple other sources ( CIO Insight , and InformationWeek , to name just two) without critical examination. Some companies, like Microsoft, have openly dropped their active support of Net Neutrality, though the details in the WSJ article don't point to any open violation of it, or activism against it. But Google? The "Don't Be Evil" company? Not hardly. If you wish to read Google's prompt denial of the claims in the WSJ, check here .  The Journal also spears Lawrence Lessig, Obama advisor, and Net Neutrality advocate, saying: Stanford's Mr. Lessig, for one, has softened his opposition to variable service tiers. At a conference, he argued that carriers won't become kingmakers so long as the faster service at a higher price is available to anyone willing to pay it." Mr. Lessig also

The Illusion of a Green Auto Market

I keep hearing people proclaim the lack of foresight on the part of the Big Three in making more fuel efficient cars to meet market demand. While this is, in part, true, it is not a prescription for saving them. Retooling to make more fuel efficient cars isn't going to drive up demand for Big Three autos. In fact, demand doesn't need to be driven up! Just look at the numbers . GM is outselling Toyota worldwide. Ford is outselling Nissan and Honda. So if the Big three are outselling the rest of the world, how are they going bankrupt? The reason that Detroit has focussed on making pickups and SUVs is that it was the only place they were profitable per unit. Their operating costs are just so much higher than the Japanese, and the smaller, cheaper cars lose the profit margins necessary to keep the Detroit companies afloat. Take a look at the graph on this page . So where do those operating costs come from? Here are places to look: 1) Union wages and benefits: GM's cost pe

Deficit Spending - The American Way

Deficit Spending - The American Way! I apologize for the sparse posting lately. I've been obsessing more about the economy and politics than my usual tech/social networking fare. When we get over this credit freeze, we're still going to see a recession. We should expect it, and in some sense, hope for it. Few politicians are talking about what got us into this mess. The desire to put more people into houses, regardless of their ability to afford it, via Fannie and Freddie, caused an unsustainable housing boom. Banks, happy to ride this wave of good fortune with money that wasn't really theirs, were completely complicit with this doctoring of the free market. Our inability as private citizens to delay gratification until we could actually afford it, has become all too common. The economy will not right itself until the prices in the housing market come down to their real market value. Real people will lose real money on this. Nothing has been said by our leadership on

The New Democracy

The New Democracy Back in march, I talked about how the internet will change democracy , by fundamentally changing the way we get our news, and how we share it with each other. There are indications that this election is starting to see those effects already. Previously, I suggested that, in the future, "Electoral success depends on motivating people, not donors, because people can't be swayed by an increasingly irrelevant broadcast media". Sen. Obama is burning money at almost 2:1 over Sen. McCain, yet McCain's seen a decent enough boost since the pick of Gov. Palin to break even. Granted, a lot of this is due to the sensationalist coverage of her in the broadcast media, but that coverage comes as a result of the media scrambling (and sometimes clumsily so) for details on someone they thought was an unknown. So why have I been hearing about Sarah Palin, potential VP pick, since before she had her 5th child? Because I keep my eye on the conservative blogs. I'

MMO Gaming: (Not So) Wasted Time

In my last post, I highlighted what the terms Social Media and Web 2.0 really refer to, as well as some mild predictions of what is to be produced by this new means of media consumption. (I promise that the next time I am compelled to write a treatise of this length, I'll bust it up into smaller posts.) I ran across this link on LifeHacker, talking about where the time to be a participant in this new media will come from. This is a question I've faced many times from people . "Where do you get the time to read everything you do?" or "How can you spend all that time playing MMO games?". Clay Shirky does a much better job detailing it than I could here. His presentation also touches on many of the nuances of what Social Media is, so it's worth checking out, as is his book _Here Comes Everybody_ . So did I waste all this time on building and selling blasters in Star Wars Galaxies, or raiding dungeons in World of Warcraft? Not entirely. Here's so

On Social Media: What is Web 2.0, and What Does It Mean?

I dislike industry buzzwords, and how quickly they get usurped by those who don't fully comprehend them. "Web 2.0" is a buzzword that has been being tossed around ever since O'Reilly and MediaLive International coined the term to isolate who survived the bursting of the dot-com bubble and why. Yet most people are still unclear on the concept, at best. "Web 2.0" doesn't refer to a platform, a particular set of tools, a programming interface, or even really a design methodology. It is an emergent effect, flowing naturally from the how the Internet works. It's only coming to light recently because, with the dot-com bust, we've separated the wheat from the chaff. As the speed of networks rise and the price of storage falls, the emergent behaviors are simply more evident than they were a decade ago. Universal Mccann International refers to this emergent trend with a better distinction, "Social Media", and defines it as "Online applicati

Phoenician ASCII

All communication, since the dawn of language, starts as synchronous communication, and tends towards the asynchronous. Oral histories disappear from cultures once writing and literacy is common enough to allow it. Orders delivered though synchronous communication (verbal conversation) can run a tribe but not an empire. Voicemail, e-mail, and text messages replace phone calls and face-to-face meetings. Having to be in the same place at the same time, let's face it, is inconvenient. Some 3500 years ago, in one of the great and shining moments of human achievement (cue the monolith from 2001), the Phoenicians reprogrammed the human mind. In the beginning, distinct sounds represented distinct thoughts. Words were the fundamental atomic nature of communication. I say "horse", and the idea of the equine quadruped pops into your head. (Computer scientists still honor this tradition when talking about PC architecture. The smallest chunk of memory that can be addressed is refer

The Campaign of the Future

--Looking Back on 2008 in Shame-- First, with all the flack that's going around about the Democratic Primary slugfest, here's what I'd like to see. I'd like to see all the super-delegates get together and say, in one resounding voice, the following: 1) "We love this primary fight. We hope it goes all the way to the convention. We want every opinion voiced and every voter heard. We will not supress democracy for the sake of appearing to have a clear winner, or triumphant champion. Politics is a fierce business, and sometimes it is less-than-pretty, but to have such a strong field competing against each other is a sign of the strength of our party." 2) "BUT.... If you two can't play nice, talk about real issues, and show some respect for each other and your party, we're going to immediately grant all of our super-votes to the candidate who *doesn't* stoop to name calling. So help me God, I'll turn this convention around and take you all b

Reconciling Net Neutrality with the Free Market

Politically, I like to think that I'm nothing if not "philosophically consistent". (This, by the way, is probably why I have a hang-up when it comes to both major parties). But I've been wrestling with myself over Net Neutrality. I'm sure you've heard next to nothing on this issue from our presidential hopefuls, so here's a brief recap. The Internet protocol was originally specified that all traffic was to be forwarded on a "best-effort per packet basis." This means that, on the Internet, a packet of data is a packet of data, and all intermediate hosts (the stops along the way between the data's sender and it's receiver) were to attempt to deliver it without any prejudice to it's content. For a very long time, this was a non-issue. It simply meant that you could not pick which sources or destinations got preference from you. In the 25 years since the writing of this protocol, something happened that nobody had forseen. Computers and

Forays into Second Life

As the resident gaming geek at the office, I've been asked to look into Second Life and other Virtual Worlds, and help evaluate their potential for our use. They sent me to a conference on Libraries, Education, and Museums in Second Life yesterday. I use a tool called BlogHUD to document my journeys inside Second Life. Check it out here:

The Tinker's Toolbox: Part II

As promised, here are some essential applications and software I lean on, not just to get work done, but to make my Linux machine really feel like "home". -----iGoogle----- iGoogle has become an absolute essential for me. When you're on as many different machines as I am in a given day, it's nice to have everything follow you around. I am a heavy user of Goggle Documents for all my spreadsheets and word processor files. I'm addicted to Google Reader for my RSS feeds. A brief aside on RSS: RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. When done right, it is a godsend for information junkies. In short, your RSS reader grabs simple XML code for the pages you have subscribed to, and the posts to these syndication feeds are piped directly to your computer. Imagine a tickertape for your most commonly viewed websites. My RSS feed is like a perpetually updated custom newspaper for me. It should be noted that RSS feeds are only as good as their author

The Tinker's Toolbox

I'm going to start this blog off at it's natural beginning. A few posts on the assembly of my arsenal of toys, trinkets, and 007-esque gadgets that I use regularly to get my myriad of jobs done. The software, hardware, and toys that I list here are as unique to me as any mechanic's toolbox is. There's always more than one way to skin the cat, but these are my weapons-of-choice. First up, the laptop. The box. The deck. The one essential workspace of the Network Engineer. If I were a bank-robber, this is where I keep my shotguns and ski-masks. I'm a long-time Linux tinkerer, but it's only recently that I've really used it to bear the brunt of my technical heavy lifting. Ubuntu's 7.10 distribution (Gutsy Gibbon), is the first distro that I feel is robust enough for me to dive in with both feet, and completely abandon Windows. Now, I have a long-time habit of documenting new computer setups and configurations as I perform them. I can't tell the numbe