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The road less traveled: How Google does Streetview for the world's oceans | GigaOM Earth Tech News

The road less traveled: How Google does Streetview for the world's oceans | GigaOM Earth Tech News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Turtles have homes too, and Google wants to show us how they live: Google Ocean Program manager Jenifer Austin Foulkes and Unterwater Earth founder Richard Vevers gave a fascinating talk Thursday about the company’s Underwater Streetview project, showing how divers use special cameras and explaining why the project is so important.

 

Google launched Streetview for the world’s oceans in cooperation with Underwater Earth the at the end of last year, and has mapped a total of six sites so far, including the Great Barrier Reef in Australia as well as reefs in Hawaii and the Philippines. Vevers explained that his organization’s Catlin Seaview Survey has been using divers carrying custom-made cameras that shoot photos every three seconds, with divers being able to cover about two kilometers during every expedition.

 

That’s slow — maybe too slow. The world’s coral reefs are receding quickly, which has been one of the main motivations behind the project. “We set up our project to reveal the reefs of the world,” Vevers said, adding: “People don’t want to protect anything they can’t see.”

 

However, Verers said showing off the beauty of coral reefs to the world is only “half the story.” The project has also been working on image recognition technologies, with the goal of mapping species and giving scientists around the world access to new material to work with.

 

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Maritime Cryptology at the Crossroads | Maritime-Executive.com

Maritime Cryptology at the Crossroads | Maritime-Executive.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

After more than a decade of land war and a desire to rebalance to Asia, America’s navy finds itself smaller, and in many ways weaker in certain respects. One area that should be of great concern is the current practice and future of maritime cryptology (the science of coding and decoding secret messages).


Cryptology at sea was proven decisive during World War II, beginning with the battle at Midway and the breaking of the Japanese naval code “JN25.” Equally important was the allied program that cracked the German Enigma machines, “Ultra,” especially those used by the German Navy. Winston Churchill famously remarked to King George VI that, “It was thanks to Ultra that we won the war.”


Throughout the ensuring Cold War until the fall of the Berlin Wall, naval cryptology played a vital role in meeting national and tactical intelligence requirements. America gained deep insight and understanding of Soviet and Warsaw Pact allied naval operations and was able to obtain priceless strategic intelligence through collection missions operated by the U.S. Navy. The end of the Cold War, ensuing strategic drift and drawdown was shattered by the terrorist attack of 9/11, yet even in the midst of a worldwide “Global War on Terror,” the pressure remained to cut the naval force. Today, the navy is at its smallest point since World War I. 


For the navy to conduct its maritime cryptology mission, it must have presence in the littorals, especially in key strategic areas of the Western Pacific, Indian Ocean and Arabian Gulf and the Mediterranean and elsewhere. A smaller navy with fewer platforms means the navy is not always where it needs to be and when it needs to be there.


The hope was that through force shaping, automation and remote operations, maritime cryptology could continue to thrive in an ever more complex electromagnetic (EM) environment. Adversarial communications have become far more challenging to detect, exploit and prosecute. The Radio Frequency (RF) environment of today is incredibly complex, with tactical, strategic and data communication links operating in all areas of the spectrum and often at frequencies with a very low probability to intercept. Modern encryption techniques have evolved from mechanical electronics to the use of quantum mechanics.

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WA: Seattle utility wants $17,500 refund after failure to scrub negative search results | Ars Technica

WA: Seattle utility wants $17,500 refund after failure to scrub negative search results | Ars Technica | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The project was concocted by the CEO’s chief of staff, Sephir Hamilton. In an interview with Ars, Hamilton said that the agency may even file a lawsuit to enforce this refund.


"We're leaving our options open,” he said. “I hope that they'll see that what we signed up for was not the service that they delivered. We were sold one bill of goods and we were given another.”


Documents received by Ars via a public records request show that City Light was particularly concerned about a 2008 Seattle Weekly story critical of Carrasco.


The piece said that he was "a short, slight Texan, Carrasco has brought a certain kind of cowboy justice to City Light, unsurprising, perhaps, from someone who earned the nickname 'Jorge Fiasco' while city manager in Austin, Texas, the first of three jobs he was ousted from before landing here." (Here are Carrasco's specific quibbles with that piece.)


Brand.com "enhances online branding and clears negatives by blanketing search results with positive content" in an attempt to counteract unwanted search engine results. City Light signed a contract with the company in October 2013 and extended it in February 2014. The contracts authorized payments of up to $47,500.


E-mails obtained by Ars show that a Brand.com campaign manager researched how to get the Seattle Weekly piece de-indexed from Google search results in the United States. Carrasco himself even asked Hamilton—who in turn, asked Brand.com—if the new European Union “right to be forgotten” ruling could be applied to getting rid of this pesky story. (It could not.)


Brand.com's work doesn't appear to have borne much fruit; the article still remains the number four hit on Google when searching for Carrasco’s name. For this lack of results, City Light spent $17,500 with Brand.com—and it does not intend to pay any more.


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University Research Parks: Hubs of Innovation | Site Selection Online

University Research Parks: Hubs of Innovation | Site Selection Online | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

A vigorous, modern economic system requires a thriving marketplace. It also requires researchers who are committed to advancing knowledge, knowledge that in turn furthers innovation, yielding both new approaches to old problems, and new products and services for the economy — often both at once.


A small laboratory at the Arkansas Research and Technology Park, in Fayetteville, has been manipulating the dreaded E. coli strain of bacteria to effectively neutralize it, so that it will no longer pose a threat. So useful is this lifesaving project, says the scientist overseeing it, that it has been fast-tracked, a textbook case of science and technology making immediate, important, and meaningful contributions to daily life.


That laboratory is one of the constituent parts of the hundreds of university-related research parks worldwide, whose flagship organization is the Association of University Research Parks. Notes the National Research Council, “Research parks are seen increasingly around the world as a means to create dynamic clusters that accelerate economic growth and international competitiveness.”


The NRC goes on to note that university research parks are a proven tool for creating cutting-edge high-tech companies, to say nothing of thousands of new jobs. They are hubs of what the Brookings Institution, in a 2014 report, has called “innovation districts,” defined as “geographic areas where leading-edge anchor institutions and companies cluster and connect with start-ups, business incubators, and accelerators.” These innovation districts are popping up all over the country — and in forward-looking cities around the world, from Seoul to Berlin to Toronto.


University research parks are not only global in their scope, but are also highly specialized and localized. They provide a solution to a problem in the marketplace: They are a “third place” where the triple helix of industry, academia, and government can comfortably meet. Harnessing investments in research and education and promoting university, industry and government collaboration, university research parks are communities of innovation, in short, and are thus powerful economic engines within their home communities — and far beyond them.


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Waiting for Dark: Inside Two Anarchists’ Quest for Untraceable Money | Threat Level | WIRED

Waiting for Dark: Inside Two Anarchists’ Quest for Untraceable Money | Threat Level | WIRED | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Amir Taaki and Cody Wilson are cruising north through Texas on Interstate 35 in the 4:30 am predawn darkness. One of the headlights on the aging BMW Wilson’s driving is burned out, and he’s wearing sunglasses. “They’re prescription,” he says drily.


It’s May Day, every anarchist’s favorite holiday, and the two 26-year-olds have marked the occasion by releasing a piece of software that represents their best attempt so far to undermine every government in the world. A call from a lawyer friend has reminded them that creative US prosecutors might hit them with conspiracy or other charges. So they’ve decided to skip town.


Half an hour earlier, they pulled out of Wilson’s apartment in Austin and began the long nighttime drive to Dallas, where Wilson has booked Taaki a last-minute flight to Barcelona. Taaki has friends there living in a squat in an abandoned police station. Wilson himself plans to lay low in his hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas. A 29-year-old Canadian friend, cryptographer Peter Todd, is riding along in the back seat.


Not far into the drive, I see Wilson fiddling with something near the gearshift, and he explains that he’s just removed the battery from his cell phone to prevent its being used by police to track him.


In the passenger seat, Taaki, who doesn’t even own a working cell phone, just laughs. The diminutive Iranian-Brit sports a black mustache and what can properly be described only as a mullet. He seems to be treating his sudden escape from the US as an exciting adventure. But Wilson, a square-jawed southerner with a trim beard, displays something closer to paranoia. “What are the chances we’ll make it through the next three hours without being pulled over by the cops?” he asks. No response.


Concerns about the police are justified for Wilson and Taaki, who have dedicated their careers to building some of the most controversial software ever offered to the public. Wilson gained notoriety last year as the creator of the world’s first fully 3D-printable gun, a set of CAD files known as the Liberator that anyone can download and print in the privacy of their home to create a working, lethal firearm. Taaki and his collaborators recently unveiled a prototype for a decentralized online marketplace, known as DarkMarket, that’s designed to be impervious to shutdown by the feds.


The programming provocation they released a few hours ago is called Dark Wallet, a piece of software designed to allow untraceable, anonymous online payments using the cryptocurrency bitcoin. Taaki and Wilson see in bitcoin’s stateless transactions the potential for a new economy that fulfills the crypto-anarchist dream of truly uncontrollable money.


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US Judge Not Impressed By Ross Ulbricht's 'But Bitcoin Isn't Money' Defense | Techdirt.com

US Judge Not Impressed By Ross Ulbricht's 'But Bitcoin Isn't Money' Defense | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Ross "Dread Pirate Roberts" Ulbricht's attorneys had recently seized on some debate within the US government over whether or not Bitcoin was actually money to try to sneak through a loophole to get out of the money laundering charges against him.


As you may recall, the IRS recently declared that virtual currency was more akin to equity/property than money. And Ulbricht's lawyers hoped that distinction might help. It did not. The judge clearly wasn't buying it:


[T]he defendant alleges that he cannot have engaged in money laundering because all transactions occurred through the use of Bitcoin and thus there was therefore no legally cognizable "financial transaction." The Court disagrees. Bitcoins carry value - that is their purpose and function - and act as a medium of exchange. Bitcoins may be exchanged for legal tender, be it U.S. dollars, Euros, or some other currency. Accordingly, this argument fails.


Later in the ruling, the judge goes even further:


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Obtained Emails Show NSA Officials Knew In Advance Of GCHQ's Plans To Destroy The Guardian's Computers | Techdirt.com

Obtained Emails Show NSA Officials Knew In Advance Of GCHQ's Plans To Destroy The Guardian's Computers | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Last year, in a move simultaneously symbolic, thuggish and completely futile, GCHQ officials forced The Guardian to destroy computers "containing" Snowden documents. The fact that the documents were also housed elsewhere (including at two American newspapers) mattered little. The point was simple: we can get to you. In the service of "national security," the GCHQ came down on the journalistic entity with something straight out of the Running A Dictatorship For Fun And Profit handbook. Exact words deployed: "You've had your debate. There's no need to write more."

NSA officials notably refused to comment on the GCHQ's actions, perhaps hoping critics would view the silence as disapproval or, at the very least, pointedly not condoning the hardware destruction. The White House publicly condemned the destruction, stating that it was "hard to imagine" this sort of thing happening domestically. That was just the PR front, apparently. Documents obtained by the AP show that NSA officials and administration staff were not only notified in advance of the GCHQ's plans, but also offered their support of this action.


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Chattanooga Will Join Support for Local Authority | community broadband networks

Chattanooga Will Join Support for Local Authority | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Since January, when the DC Circuit Court of Appeals suggested the FCC has the authority to preempt state anit-muni laws, local communities have publicly supported the notion. Chattanooga's Electric Power Board (EPB) will join those communities when it petitions the FCC to preempt similar laws in Tennessee, reports The Center for Public Integrity.


Danna Bailey, vice president of corporate communication at EPB recently told The Center:


“We continue to receive requests for broadband service from nearby communities to serve them,” Bailey said. “We believe cities and counties should have the right to choose the infrastructure they need to support their economies.”


Chattanooga, one of the publicly owned networks that have inspired FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, has proved itself as a strong economic development tool. According to the article:


"A day after his meeting with Berke, Wheeler wrote in his blog, “I believe that it is in the best interests of consumers and competition that the FCC exercises its power to pre-empt state laws that ban or restrict competition from community broadband. Given the opportunity, we will do so.”


A number of other communities with municipal networks, or in the process of deploying them, have passed Resolutions that support the FCC:


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If TPP Is So Important, Why Are Those It's Supposed To 'Help' Fighting Against It? | Techdirt.com

If TPP Is So Important, Why Are Those It's Supposed To 'Help' Fighting Against It? | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The USTR's position on trade agreements is incredibly antiquated. It acts as if it's an extension of "American business" and seems to believe that the only ones fighting against its various trade agreements, like the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Pact (TTIP) are these meddling "public interest" groups, which don't understand the importance of big business.


It's why the USTR recently created a special "public interest" committee to pretend that it was listening to criticism while shunting them off to their own little corner to be ignored.

But the real problem is that the USTR doesn't pay much attention to actual innovative business: entrepreneurs and startups that are doing much of the important work today that will be important for the future.


Instead, they tend to only listen to the last generation of companies: the legacy players and behemoths who are looking to protect themselves against competition and innovation.


So it was great to see during this week's TPP negotiations (though held in even more secrecy than usual) the EFF presented negotiators with two important letters about different aspects of the TPP, signed by the organizations that the USTR would like to pretend its helping -- and yet those organizations are not at all happy about it.

The first letter, signed by dozens of internet and technology companies, warns about dangerous intermediary liability concerns based on the leaked draft of the TPP's intellectual property section.


We were among those that signed this letter. We'd prefer to comment on the actual draft of what's in the document, but the USTR still keeps that as a closely held secret (unless you happen to be an RIAA lobbyist, then you have full access).


The second letter comes from a large group of libraries, public archives, authors and educators, decrying the possibility of copyright term extension being enabled by the TPP. It's hard to argue that librarians and public archivists are "freetards" and "digital anarchists." These are folks who are legitimately concerned about the impact of excessive copyright on knowledge.


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Kickstarter, Etsy And Dwolla All Speak Out On Net Neutrality And Why The FCC's Plan Is Dangerous To Innovation | Techdirt.com

Kickstarter, Etsy And Dwolla All Speak Out On Net Neutrality And Why The FCC's Plan Is Dangerous To Innovation | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

During this open comment period for the FCC's proposed rulemaking on net neutrality, it's been great to see hundreds of thousands of comments go in to the FCC on the matter.


It's also been fantastic to see that a number of innovative startups have decided to speak out on how important an open and free internet is for being able to build their businesses, to innovate and to compete on the modern internet. They also point out that the current plan from Commissioner Tom Wheeler would put that all at risk.


Here are three interesting ones worth mentioning.

First up, is Kickstarter. CEO/co-founder Yancey Strickler wrote a great opinion piece for the Washington Post along with a blog post highlighting the company's actual FCC filing, which is similar to the WaPo piece. Here's just a bit of it, but gives you a sense of why this is so important:


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The Fifth Surveillance: Corporate Spying On Non-Profits | Techdirt.com

The Fifth Surveillance: Corporate Spying On Non-Profits | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In the age of innocence that was brought to an end by Edward Snowden's revelations, we broadly knew of three kinds of surveillance: the classic kind, by countries against other countries; the industrial kind, by companies against companies; and -- the most recent addition -- the Google/Facebook kind, carried out by companies against their customers. Snowden made us aware that countries also carried out large-scale surveillance against huge numbers of their own citizens, the vast majority of whom had done nothing to warrant that invasion of their privacy. But there's a fifth kind of surveillance that has largely escaped notice, even though it represents a serious danger for democracy and freedom: spying carried out by companies against non-profit organizations whose work threatens their profits in some way.


A new report called "Spooky Business" (pdf), from the Essential Information organization (founded by Ralph Nader in 1982), throws some much-needed light on this murky world:


The corporate capacity for espionage has skyrocketed in recent years. Most major companies now have a chief corporate security officer tasked with assessing and mitigating "threats" of all sorts -- including from nonprofit organizations. And there is now a surfeit of private investigations firms willing and able to conduct sophisticated spying operations against nonprofits.


As the study reveals, this kind of activity is now commonplace:


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Film Distributor, Copyright Enforcement Company Join Forces To Kick Creative Commons-Licensed Film Off YouTube | Techdirt.com

Film Distributor, Copyright Enforcement Company Join Forces To Kick Creative Commons-Licensed Film Off YouTube | Techdirt.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Infringement takedown notices: can't live with them, rights holders won't let your service live without them. YouTube once again is the flashpoint, with a Creative Commons-licensed film being taken down in response to a takedown notice. The Aaron Swartz documentary, "The Internet's Own Boy," was briefly knocked offline by a bogus copyright claim (that it was likely an error doesn't make it any less bogus) filed by Remove Your Media, LLC.

Brian Knappenberger, the director and producer of the film (which is also available through paid streaming services, along with other non-paid outlets like the Internet Archive), confirmed that no one on his side of the film had anything to do with it.


"It wasn't done by us," Knappenberger told the Daily Dot. "I'm trying to figure out [who issued the claim]."


The Daily Dot contacted Remove Your Media, which refused to offer any insight on this bogus copyright claim.


A representative for Remove Your Media, Eric Greene, refused to name the client who hired him for the takedown, though he noted it was "a distributor outside the U.S."


Greene then deployed the most unfortunate excuse anyone can offer post-World War II.


"We were just following orders," Greene said.


Apparently, the documentary's foreign distributor confused CC-licensing with regular old copyright, if it even bothered to check on the film's US distribution rights before it issued the notice. (The Internet Archive's upload is one of the few places foreign viewers won't run into a "Sorry, but this content is not available in your country" message.)


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TabiMouse app turns iPhone into a mouse for the iPad | GizMag.com

TabiMouse app turns iPhone into a mouse for the iPad | GizMag.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

You've got an iPhone and an iPad, but you don't have a mouse to use with the iPad ... or do you? Actually, Tabitop's new TabiMouse app converts an iPhone into a Bluetooth iPad-friendly mouse. The only catch is, you have to be willing to use your iPad as a PC.


The TabiMouse app is free, and allows the screen of an iPhone to function as a laptop-style trackpad. You tap the phone's glass with either one or two fingers to select between left and right mouse clicks, then simply slide your finger(s) around to correspondingly move the cursor on the iPad's display. It's also possible to scroll, zoom in or out, and drag and drop.


TabiMouse is intended for use with the Tabitop iPad app, however, which effectively turns the tablet into a cloud-based PC. Users can run full versions of Windows-based programs, on either a Windows 7 or 8 platform. Subscription prices for the service start at US$3.99 a month, which includes 35 GB of online data storage.

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Content Is King, But It Won’t Be For Long: Analyst | Deadline.com

Content Is King, But It Won’t Be For Long: Analyst | Deadline.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

This won’t go over well with the media moguls hobnobbing at the Allen & Co retreat in Sun Valley. But it’s the thesis behind the “neutral” rating that Barclays Capital’s Kannan Venkateshwar assigns to Big Media in his smart new 100-plus-page inaugural report on the industry.


The major players – CBS, Discovery, Time Warner, Fox, Viacom, and Disney — make most of their profits from television. And although revenues in the field have grown over the last five years, “the source of this growth in most cases (with a few notable exceptions) has been through price inflation and an increase in the advertising inventory rather than a more sustainable growth in ratings,” he says.


That spells trouble as Netflix, Amazon and others also produce content for the Web, and pay TV distributors including Comcast and DirecTV strike merger deals that make them stronger. They focus on shows and search engines — not networks and schedules. And as they forge stronger ties with subscribers, “traditional media companies get pushed further back into the value chain, further away from a direct relationship with the consumer.”


Can mergers help content creators maintain the upper hand? Not if they combine with each other, Venkateshwar says. He recognizes that “some content providers over the longer term will likely have to consolidate to get the scale advantage vis a vis the distributors” when they negotiate fees.


But many production costs are fixed; big companies don’t pay substantially less than small ones do to produce shows. The best remedy, the analyst says, is for content creators to sell out to distributors so both sides can benefit from the growth of video on demand.


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What a quarter-century of Internet growth looks like, underwater | WashPost.com

What a quarter-century of Internet growth looks like, underwater | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

As folks in the industry like to say, the Internet is a network of networks. To help get Web traffic from here to Britain or China, you need lots of companies with lots of money to build lots of wires to carry that data. And all those fiber optic cables run across the ocean floor, where they have to survive cold, currents, pressure and the occasional snagging by passing vessels or damage by earthquake.


Since 1989, the world has built 5.3 million miles' worth of underwater cabling. By 2017, we're expected to have completed nearly 850 separate cables across the globe. Two of these are partly owned by some of the biggest Internet companies in the world, Facebook and Google. The marketing firm Builtvisible took all this public data and turned it into an interactive map (not to mention a, well, deep history of underwater Internet cables). Here's what 25 years of Internet development looks like, in 1 GIF. (And here, by the way, is how you fix a damaged underwater cable.)


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Don't cry for Box and Dropbox: Amazon's real targets are Google and Microsoft | GigaOM Tech News

Don't cry for Box and Dropbox: Amazon's real targets are Google and Microsoft | GigaOM Tech News | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

It’s fair to ask how Amazon Web Services’ new Zocalo service will affect Box and Dropbox, but I’m not certain AWS had them in mind while building its new file-sharing service. Those two companies have been around for quite a while, they have their use cases, and they’ve survived numerous challenges big and small over the years. They’ll very likely survive Zocalo, too.


I think Amazon has its eyes firmly set on Google and Microsoft, its two biggest rivals in the fight to own cloud computing. They won’t say it publicly, but I think all three of these companies view each individual customer as a zero-sum game, and AWS has realized that its huge lead in the cloud infrastructure business doesn’t apply across the board. The cloud is about platforms, and AWS’s platform is incomplete.


Servers? Check. Storage? Check. Databases? Check. File-sharing? Uh, …


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FCC Approves Controversial $2 Billion School Wi-Fi Plan | Re/Code.net

FCC Approves Controversial $2 Billion School Wi-Fi Plan | Re/Code.net | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Schools will soon be able to apply for grants from a $2 billion fund to help pay for Wi-Fi networks in schools under a plan approved Friday by federal regulators.


The Federal Communications Commission voted to set aside funds for Wi-Fi services over the objections of some schools and teachers unions, which wanted the agency to do much more. The National PTA and teachers unions wanted the FCC to increase the size of the so-called E-Rate fund to help cover the costs of Internet access to more schools. Demand has grown as more schools have tried to improve their Internet access, but funding hasn’t kept pace, they noted.


“Because of what we do today, 10 million kids will be connected next year who otherwise wouldn’t. That’s something to be proud of,” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said Friday.


Although the agency is setting aside up to $2 billion for Wi-Fi networks to be spent over the next two years, it assumes — but doesn’t guarantee — funding for those networks in future years. It also didn’t propose increasing the size of the program, although it asked for comments on doing that. Wheeler said it would “be a mistake to simply add money to a program that was set in the 20th century,” but the agency should continue looking at broader funding issues.


“I hope that going forward we will have the courage to fix this,” Democratic FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said, regarding the limited funding available for schools and libraries. “I hope going forward we will be bold. Because this is not just a matter of getting schools and libraries connected — it’s a matter of our global competitiveness.”


The FCC said the cost of the program would be covered by unused funds and administrative cost-cutting. After internal discussion, the agency decided to continue to prioritize requests for Internet access to schools over requests for Wi-Fi.


The E-Rate program is part of the Universal Service Fund, a government subsidy program funded by a monthly fee on phone bills. It is mostly used to help cover the costs of providing telecommunications services in rural areas. The fund was started in 1996 and has grown over the years, even though E-Rate funding was capped at $2.25 billion annually 16 years ago and hasn’t been adjusted for inflation.


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Why Google's Waze Is Trading User Data With Local Governments | Forbes.com

Why Google's Waze Is Trading User Data With Local Governments | Forbes.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In Rio de Janeiro most eyes are on the final, nail-biting matches of the World Cup. Over in the command center of the city’s department of transport though, they’re on a different set of screens altogether.


Planners there are watching the aggregated data feeds of thousands of smartphones being walked or driven around a city, thanks to two popular travel apps, Waze and Moovit.


The goal is traffic management, and it involves swapping data for data. More cities are lining up to get access, and while the data the apps are sharing is all anonymous for now, identifying details could get more specific if cities like what they see, and people become more comfortable with being monitored through their smartphones in return for incentives.

Rio is the first city in the world to collect real-time data both from drivers who use the Waze navigation app and pedestrians who use the public-transportation app Moovit, giving it an unprecedented view on thousands of moving points across the sprawling city. Rio is also talking to the popular cycling app Strava to start monitoring how cyclists are moving around the city too.

All three apps are popular, consumer services which, in the last few months, have found a new way to make their crowdsourced data useful to someone other than advertisers. While consumers use Waze and Moovit to get around, both companies are flipping the use case and turning those millions of users into a network of sensors that municipalities can tap into for a better view on traffic and hazards. Local governments can also use these apps as a channel to send alerts.

On an average day in June, Rio’s transport planners could get an aggregated view of 110,000 drivers (half a million over the course of the month), and see nearly 60,000 incidents being reported each day – everything from built-up traffic, to hazards on the road, Waze says. Till now they’ve been relying on road cameras and other basic transport-department information.


What may be especially tantalizing for planners is the super-accurate read Waze gets on exactly where drivers are going, by pinging their phones’ GPS once every second. The app can tell how fast a driver is moving and even get a complete record of their driving history, according to Waze spokesperson Julie Mossler. (UPDATE: Since this story was first published Waze has asked to clarify that it separates users’ names and their 30-day driving info. The driving history is categorized under an alias.)


This passively-tracked data “is not something we share,” she adds. Waze, which Google  bought last year for $1.3 billion, can turn the data spigots on and off through its application programing interface (API).


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The FCC is overhauling how it subsidizes WiFi for schools and libraries | WashPost.com

The FCC is overhauling how it subsidizes WiFi for schools and libraries | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Regulators have just approved a big package of federal aid for schools and libraries so that they can upgrade their WiFi networks, as part of a larger effort to modernize the way educators connect their charges to the Web.


In a 3-2 vote along party lines Friday, the FCC greenlit a plan to spend $2 billion over the next two years on subsidies for internal networks. The move also begins a process to phase out some subsidies under the federal program, known as E-Rate, for services and equipment that are on the decline, such as pagers and dial-up Internet service.


"No responsible business would stick with an IT plan developed in 1998," said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. "We owe the same rigorous self-examination to our schools and libraries."


The original plan called for spending $5 billion on WiFi over five years, in line with a push by the Obama administration to bring next-gen broadband and WiFi to 99 percent of students over the same period. Those funds would have partly come from savings as a result of transitioning away from supporting legacy technologies.


The proposal would also have eliminated an existing requirement that E-Rate funds be spent first on broadband services before being applied to WiFi. In past years, the cost of broadband service meant that money was rarely left over for upgrading WiFi connections.


But the FCC's proposal was ultimately scaled back late Thursday amid Republican objections that the E-Rate program can't afford the changes. The final proposal's two-year, $2 billion commitment accounts for the money the FCC has already set aside for WiFi upgrades, but it does not commit the FCC to funding WiFi upgrades at that same rate for the following three years.


Earlier this week, talks broke down between the commission's Democrats, some of whom want the program dramatically expanded, and its Republicans, who've warned that the $5 billion-over-five-years plan would eat into funding for broadband subsidies.


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No, Aereo isn’t really claiming to be a true cable company | WashPost.com

No, Aereo isn’t really claiming to be a true cable company | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

In an effort to survive, Aereo's throwing everything against the wall and hoping something — anything — sticks. Its latest tactic? To embrace the Supreme Court decision that effectively killed its existing business model, and to work within the confines of the ruling to arrive at an alternative that won't land the company in court again.


Aereo is now conceding that it is a cable company after all, after having argued the opposite point before the Supreme Court. If you'll recall, the Court didn't find Aereo's initial testimony very persuasive. It ruled in a 6-3 vote that by pulling TV signals out of the air and streaming them over the Internet, Aereo was effectively broadcasting in a "public performance" of content that it should be paying for.


The company now says it's willing to pay those licensing fees — but to the Copyright Office, rather than to the broadcasters who were suing Aereo in the first place. In short, Aereo is trying to thread a very small needle: It wants to say it's just enough of a cable company that it qualifies for the benefits that come along with it (more on that shortly) but not so much of a cable company that it needs to pay expensive retransmission fees required of other cable companies.


Problem is, the path forward for Aereo here is deeply uncertain, and its argument almost sure to fail.


The key to understanding why has to do with a legal distinction that'll sound silly to almost any consumer.


"Aereo wants to be a cable company for copyright purposes, but not for communications law purposes," said Brent Skorup, a telecom policy scholar at George Mason University's Mercatus Center.


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Netflix CEO Q&A: Picking a fight with the Internet service providers | WashPost.com

Netflix CEO Q&A: Picking a fight with the Internet service providers | WashPost.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Reed Hastings recently stood before new employees packed into the company’s campus movie theater, pulled a gray hair from his head and held it up for all to see. A single fiber optic strand, as thin as that hair, could carry massive amounts of data — the equivalent of all of Netflix’s global video traffic at any given time, he marveled.


The co-founder of Netflix has been thinking much more about broadband providers these days, with his company spearheading a lobbying effort to get federal regulators to monitor how Internet service providers charge Web firms like his to move data around the Internet.

It’s a risky effort. Netflix, which gobbles up one-third of bandwidth during peak hours, doesn't think companies like theirs should pay extra to place its servers closer to the networks of Comcast and Verizon.


The issue reveals Netflix at an important turning point. It won kudos with television critics, nominated for 31 Emmys on Thursday. But it’s making enemies out of the companies it relies on most — the cable and telecom firms providing all those lightning-fast Internet connections as thin as his hair.


The following is an edited transcript of a recent interview in the “Hawaii Five-O” conference room at the company’s headquarters. Hastings had just returned from watching the U.S. play against Germany in an early World Cup 2014 match.


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NM: Santa Fe Ready to Improve Local Internet Choice | community broadband networks

NM: Santa Fe Ready to Improve Local Internet Choice | community broadband networks | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

The City of Santa Fe, NM is taking first steps to improve the community's Internet choice, quality, and availability. Recently, the City announced that it has chosen a partner for a middle mile investment and will move forward with the $1 million fiber deployment project.


CenturyLink and Comcast serve Santa Fe, home to approximately 70,000 people. Residents and businesses both complain about slow speeds and relatively high costs. Residents pay $50 per month for average speeds of 5 Mbps while nearby Albuquerque pays the same price for 10 Mbps, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican.


CenturyLink owns the sole fiber hut connecting the community with the Internet. The company also owns the line bringing access to the web to downtown, giving it control over data transmittal in the city. A city press release, reprinted at SantaFe.com in May 2013 described the problem:


"Every home and most businesses already have two physical routes to the Internet: A telephone line and a television cable...But in spite of this abundance of pathways, there is a crucial missing link in the infrastructure, an enduring legacy of the former telephone monopoly. This missing link spans from the central telephone office to a location about two miles away where several fiber optic cables emerge from the ground after traversing many miles of road, railroad and countryside from remote junctions across the state. Absent this two-mile link, local providers have only one way to connect to the outside world, and must pay a steep toll on the data transmitted over it."


The City recently announced that it would work with local ISP Cyber Mesa to build an independent line from downtown to CenturyLink's fiber hut. The City hopes the line will introduce much needed competition, encouraging better service and prices.


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Jury gives full defense verdict to Apple, swats down $511M patent demand | Ars Technica

Jury gives full defense verdict to Apple, swats down $511M patent demand | Ars Technica | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Following a two-week trial in San Jose, California, a jury reached a verdict (PDF) Friday afternoon finding that Apple doesn't infringe a patent own by Emblaze, an Israeli company that sued Apple back in 2010.


While the outcome is a clear victory for Apple, the jury declined to invalidate US Patent No. 6,389,473, titled "Network Media Streaming," which Emblaze said was infringed by Apple's HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) protocol. That protocol has been built into Apple products, including iPhones and iPads, since iOS 3.0 was released in 2009.


Emblaze accused several HLS-powered streams in Apple devices, including streaming video used by ABC News, ESPN, and sports services like the Professional Golf Association, Major League Baseball, and National Football League. The company also accused Apple Keynotes and the iTunes Festival. The jury didn't find any of the services infringed.


During trial, Emblaze's lawyers argued that it should get $511 million for Apple's infringement, for the period up to June 2013.


Emblaze used this same patent to sue Microsoft in 2012, and that case continues to move forward in the same court. An Emblaze official didn't respond to a request for comment via e-mail.


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UTA: 'There They Go Again' | Lewis K. Billings, former Mayor of Provo | UtahPolicy.com

UTA: 'There They Go Again' | Lewis K. Billings, former Mayor of Provo | UtahPolicy.com | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

As 11 Utah cities weigh the important decision of whether to continue negotiations with Macquarie Capital regarding the UTOPIA Network, the Utah Taxpayers Association (UTA) has aggressively stepped up to once again cry foul and to vociferously criticize almost every aspect of the proposal.


While it is the Association’s right to do what they are doing and to act as a “straw-man” with the appearance of an independent voice, those involved in the debate and discussion have the right to know that the Association is acting once again, on behalf of their large telecommunications company members who see UTOPIA as a competitive threat and who would really like to see UTOPIA disbanded.


If the UTA really represented the taxpayers of Utah in this discussion and not just a few of their special interest members, they would be stepping up to offer careful and critical commentary as well as suggestions that only an organization with their exceptional skill-set and expertise can advance.  But no, now and in many other instances, they are using their powerful voice to really say the things a few of their well-heeled members, who consider UTOPIA to be a competitive threat, want them to say.


For years and years, the Association has prided itself on its ability to look into matters in almost every community in the State.  For the most part, those communities have graciously and openly provided the Association with whatever information they have requested. 


Perhaps it is now time for the Association to reciprocate. It is time for the Association to open its books.  How many membership, sponsorship and other dollars have come to the Association from telecommunications companies in the last ten years?

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Wireless Calls to 911 May Not Send Location Information | PublicKnowledge.org

Wireless Calls to 911 May Not Send Location Information | PublicKnowledge.org | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

Reports surfaced today that as many as 90% of wireless calls to 911 in D.C. don’t automatically provide public safety answering points with the caller’s specific location. Just to state the obvious: this is shocking, and dangerous. While sometimes a person calling 911 will be able to tell the dispatcher her location, there are many situations when that’s not possible, like the person who is too injured to give clear instructions, the caller who is hiding and needs to talk as little as possible, or the child who only knows he’s at Grandma’s house.


As if this wasn’t concerning enough, when we combine this news with the recent National Center for Health Statistics report that 41% of U.S. households depend solely on wireless voice service, the prospect of losing location accuracy in the move to wireless technologies takes on new proportions. Although the growth rate of wireless-only households was actually lower than in years past, millions of people are still relying on wireless service as their only tool to basic voice service, including 911.


When we look deeper into those numbers, we also realize that the people depending on wireless-only service are disproportionately likely to be low-income (56% of adults living in poverty), members of racial or ethnic minorities (53% of Hispanic adults and 42% of African-American adults), or young (66% of adults age 25-29). If we don’t demand the same public safety guarantees in wireless technology that we have come to expect from landline phones, we’ll only be adding to the burdens of underrepresented communities.


More broadly, the transition of many from landline to wireless service is only one facet of several changes we call the “phone network transition.” The issues we’re seeing now with 911 location accuracy strike at the heart of the debate around our expectations for new technologies as our basic communications services move to IP-based technology, fiber or wireless infrastructure, or some combination.


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James Carlini Review | The Internet of Things: QNX Seminar | Internet of Things Journal

James Carlini Review | The Internet of Things: QNX Seminar | Internet of Things Journal | Surfing the Broadband Bit Stream | Scoop.it

This is a summary of a QNX webinar that was just presented on July 10, 2014 by BlackBerry (BBRY) and QNX.


This was an anticipated seminar because many people are looking for answers to questions they have about the big buzzword, the Internet of Things (IoT). They also want to know what role does the cloud-based product QNX play within this environment?


The QNX webinar gave a good overview of what the QNX product was and how it fit into the overall business market. They are operating system agnostic, which means they can work with any device, not just one type of Operating System. They have multi-OS adaptability.


They want to be totally inclusive of all devices and use one platform to manage everything. They have focused on end-to-end security, which is a huge issue across many industries as well as many applications.


They focused on the core principles which have to be architected into any platform upfront, especially if it is addressing a massive-scale application:


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