Photo of worker adjusting a wireless access point.

Worker adjusting the wireless access point outside my window.

Featured Tag: Wireless

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Monday, February 27, 2006
MuniWireless: Greg Richardson and Jim Baller launch podcast series
Reported at MuniWireless: Podcasts dedicated to communities "that are deploying broadband technology to enhance economic development, educational and occupational opportunity, digital equity, public safety and homeland security, environmental protection,government efficiency, cultural enrichment, and quality of life."

MuniWireless: Greg Richardson and Jim Baller launch podcast series

Subscribe to the podcasts here:
So far there is just a welcome message. The real thing - an interview with Esme Vos, founder of the MuniWireless site - will appear March 7.

Wireless for Boston - The Boston Globe
Editorial at the Boston Globe on the need for that city to go wireless.
And there is room for cities and companies to coexist. Cities may provide entry-level Internet access, but anyone who wants bells and whistles, such as the capacity to download large video files, would probably turn to a private provider. It's easy to imagine city service becoming a feeder for private companies. Having a private partner makes sense because it means cities would not have to take on the work of maintaining equipment and solving technical problems.
Yes. Give us low-cost basic access to the Internet and charge for faster access to download videos or even watch TV via the Web.

Wireless for Boston - The Boston Globe

MPR: Kiki Smith: A Gathering
Friday night M. and I went to the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, MN) for the Kiki Smith preview party. Some free food and (not free) wine. Lots of folks milling around. The show is a retrospective covering 25 years of Smith's career.

Minnesota Public Radio has a Flash file with slides of some of the work and some commentary by a local artist and critic. Worth a look.

MPR: Kiki Smith: A Gathering tags:

Saturday, February 25, 2006
Dead Cool or Who is Preston Reed?
It's Saturday morning, seven-ish a.m CST in Minneapolis, MN USA, where yesterday, the city council voted in a major muni wifi initiative (check here for more about that). M. had to split for some early morning bell ringing at the local Vipassana joint. I'm blogging in bed, 12-inch Powerbook on the breakfast tray M. bought me for Christmas. The boy (who generally stays over with grandma and grandpa either Friday or Saturday) is sleeping next to me so I have this time for the blog before we move on to something bionicle. I'm listening to Preston Reed, a guitarist extraordinaire, who lives somewhere in the British Isles. Catch some of his tunes here.

Before I woke up this morning, I had never heard of Preston Reed. I wanted to catch up on Hugh Macleod's Gaping Void posts and the first post was Preston Reed is Bogging (sic). I read the current post, read a previous post on Reed, listened to three of Reed's compositions, found another young guitarist heavily influenced by Reed, and then fell to writing my own post about the whole mess.

Reed is a known quantity as a guitarist even though I had never heard of him. He is more acoustic than electric and adds percussion to the mix -- pounding on the guitar and/or strings in various creative ways as he strums and picks. You can file this as jazz but there are echoes and tones of other genres: blues, rock, and classical come to mind.

He was on a major label at one time but decided to go indie and market himself by touring and distributing over the Net. He and Hugh Macleod are friends and Mr. Macleod Hugh told Reed "Blog, Preston" and so he is.

(I'm going to the familiar "Hugh" in referring to Hugh Macleod here although I've never met the man. Using "Macleod" seems to journalistic and the NY Times convention of "Mr. Macleod" just started sounding dumb. I'm at least familiar in regularly reading his blog and
having discussed him here before.)

Preston Reed is a microbrand and Hugh is all about promoting global microbrands via the Net (and blogs specifically). His is one variation of my dream job, living in "a small cottage in the English boonies" and working globally consulting blogging and marketing for several interesting microbrands (a Saville Row tailor and a South African Winery to name two - read his blog to see what it's all about). (Personally, I'd choose a cabin north of Duluth, Minnesota.) This is the freedom of the Internet, really, that not only frees us as individuals to work for anyone anywhere but also frees us from spending significant portions of our lives commuting. Maybe not Utopia but certainly a system that lends itself to less stress and is more environmentally friendly.

My dream is to approach this space in some way for myself. But as Hugh says "Keep your day job." If your dream isn't strong enough to sustain you as you continue to work at your current employment, then it's not a big enough dream. I'm lucky to be reasonably happy with my day job and its interface with my technology interests. (I manage the Web technologies for the University of Minnesota Cancer Center.)

Slightly shifing gears, back to some music and specifically Kaki King. I found her when I searched for Reed's work at iTunes (some of it is there). Terry Gross's name popped up so I googled "Terry Gross Preston Reed" and somehow ended up with Liane Hansen interviewing "Kaki King: Queen of Acoustic Guitar." If you like Reed, she's definitely worth a listen (music and video at the interview site).

And Kaki says this about Reed:
Preston Reed is someone who I followed and really basically ripped off in terms of all this stuff, but he's generous with his talent. So that's good. tags:

gapingvoid: the magic middle
The 'magic middle' is the exciting place to be if you're a blogger. It's cool. It's bad. The A-List is the Establishment and will transform to Big Media because it's too caught up with the money.

I've simplified these things a bit. Read Hugh's post.

gapingvoid: the magic middle

Gaping Void Reappears in My Blogosphere
Gaping Void has returned. No idea where the problem really existed that blocked my reception last night but that's really no different than when any major utility breaks down. If I can't call you on the phone, is it my phone or your phone or some cellular disorder or a satellite malfunction? tags:

Friday, February 24, 2006
Gaping and Gladwell
Gaping Void has disappeared (the feed still shows in Bloglines for now). Linking says "The account has been suspended Either the domain has been overused, or the reseller ran out of resources." Wow. I better be careful not to overuse my domain.

To fill the void left by Gaping, Malcolm Gladwell, author of Blink and Tipping Point and a writer for the New Yorker, is blogging.

Bloglines Revamped
Whoa! Trying to sort and file in Bloglines this evening and something was different. Where was the sort link? Damn.

After some investigation, I found some instructions at the bottom of the feed column (in Edit mode) about selecting (one-click) and so I selected then pondered the pretty yellow box, then pressed and dragged and lo and behold you can manually drag your folders and feeds around. Plus you can drop feeds on the folders.

Thank you Bloglines!

(Just checked their blog and I could have learned about the new features there. Oh well, always fun to discover these things yourself.) tags:

Neutrality and municipalities
In January, Grand Rapids, Mich., issued a request for proposals (RFP) for a privately owned and operated wireless network that would be used to offer citywide broadband. Included in the RFP was a neutrality clause that read, "The network shall be open to multiple service providers and content providers on a fair and equal basis."
I would like to see that neutrality clause applied to muni wireless in Minneapolis.

New US legislation would let wireless networks use empty TV channels
New proposed legislation to allow "white spaces" (unallocated bandwidth) to be used for unlicensed wireless networks.


Muni Wi-Fi: Minneapolis City Council Agenda
Agenda item from today's Minneapolis City Council Meeting (item 10 here). Also note item 26 here which is from Tuesday's (Feb 21 meeting) which adds the "Community Benefits Agreement" and directs staff to provide more information on public engagement in the process and whatever studies were conducted to decide on the current model.

[Update: The following item passed today with a vote of 11 to 1. Cam Gordon, lone Green on the Council, voted against the action.]

Here's today's item:

Minneapolis Wireless Broadband Initiative:

Sent forward without recommendation the following: a) Approve amended Business Case, prior to pursuing a private-public partnership to procure Broadband Data Access Services to support the City's internal data communications requirements and provide affordable broadband internet services to City residents and businesses;

b) Authorize proper City officers to implement the pilot phase of the Broadband IP Data Access Services program with the two RFP finalists, Earthlink and U.S. Internet; and

c) Authorize proper City officers to negotiate a contract for Broadband IP Data Access Services with one or both of the RFP finalists and to return to Council for final approval.

d) Approve staff directives; incorporate in any contract for Broadband IP Data Access Services a "Community Benefits Agreement"; and develop a community engagement plan to be received and filed by the Committee.

Muni Wi-Fi: Letter to the City Council
Email sent to members of the Minneapolis City Council. Meeting is at 9:30 a.m. (CST). I won't be in attendance.


My name is Peter Fleck. I'm a Minneapolis resident and live in Ward 2.

I support the plan to provide a wireless mesh for Minneapolis. I think it will provide great benefits for education and for businesses.

I personally believe that public ownership would be the best way to go. I see the Internet as a public commons for sharing ideas and I am nervous in ceding that control over to a private enterprise. At the end of the day, Earthlink and US Internet must take care of their shareholders by making a profit. Nothing evil about that; it's just the nature of the beast.

I know I'm late to this party and there could be a vote today (Friday). I'm not sure what sort of debate can continue after that vote but I would at least like to see Minneapolis get a deal equal or better than the Philadelphia deal. One key piece is the selling of bandwidth to other ISPs at a reasonable rate to promote competition.

I've included the latest update I could find on what's going on in Philadelphia. This is from the Philadelphia Wireless site ( - latest update link at the bottom of the page).

I've also been writing about this issue on my blog.

[Link to blog but you're already here]

Thank you.

Wireless Philadelphia WI-FI Project Update
December 2005

1) Wireless Philadelphia has selected EarthLink to build and manage a 135 square mile city wide wireless broadband network which will make high speed (1Mb upstream and downstream) Internet access available to residents, businesses and institutions throughout the entire City and County of Philadelphia.

2) Under Earthlink's proposal, no city tax dollars will be used to fund the building of WiFi infrastructure.

3) Wireless Philadelphia is partnering with EarthLink in an unprecedented public / private partnership to provide wireless broadband access to enhance economic development in neighborhoods, help overcome the digital divide, and improve quality of life for all Philadelphians.

4) EarthLink will fund, build and manage the wireless network, and will provide Wireless Philadelphia with revenue sharing fees to help support the Wireless Philadelphia Non Profit Corporation and to help fund digital inclusion programs.

5) Wireless Philadelphia will promote digital inclusion by providing free training and computers up to 10,000 families; working with local nonprofits and faith-based organizations; and working with local banks to provide low or no cost computer loans.

6) Wireless Philadelphia and EarthLink have reached agreement on the major business terms of the project and are working to complete a definitive agreement by end of 2005.

7) A Street Light Pole Attachment Agreement will be introduced into City Council for review and approval the end of January 2006.

8) After City Council approval, EarthLink will begin the project by constructing a 15 square mile area proof of concept area in approximately March 2006. Upon completion of the testing in the proof of concept phase, EarthLink will begin deploying the remainder of the city with a target completion date about twelve months following a successful pilot.

9) It is intended that the Wi-Fi network will provide the following benefits to the community in Philadelphia:

- Inexpensive, high speed Internet Access
- Open Access for multiple, competing service providers
- Roaming capabilities available to providers of hotspot access
- Free access in some City parks and public spaces
- Daily / Weekly access for occasional users and visitors
- Small Business access and wireless T-1 alternative

10) Retail rates on the network are intended to be around $20.00 a month for access.

11) EarthLink will help Wireless Philadelphia promote digital inclusion, by offering certain qualifying Philadelphia residents discounted low cost access to the Internet, at prices around $10 per month.

12) Open Access means that wholesale broadband access will be available at reasonable rates to qualified ISP's, allowing them to sell and deliver their own wireless broadband products, and providing more choices for residents and businesses.

13) Occasional use access will be available to any visitor to the City for a competitive daily and weekly rate.

14) EarthLink will offer business products using the network, like T-1 replacement, at competitive rates allowing small business access that in many cases is too expensive today.

15) This partnership expands the City of Philadelphia's leadership position of using wireless technology to meet the needs of its residents and enhancing Philadelphia's progressive visitor, tourism and business climate.

Thursday, February 23, 2006
Wireless Philadelphia Update
Update: Philadelphia and Earthlink contract goes to city council for approval (dated January 30, 2006).
Also a December update (pdf) with more details at the Wireless Philadelphia site.

How similar is this to the Minneapolis plan? I like that Earthlink will be reselling bandwidth to ISPs.

Is Public Wireless a Good Investment for Minneapolis?
As previously mentioned in my last post...

Becca Vargo Dagget of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance has written a report entitled "Is A Publicly Owned Minneapolis Information Network A Wise Public Investment?". Her prediction is that investing in a public wireless network could result in a payback with in 7.9 years with a 12.5% return on investment.

She says that the city has not shared any similar analyisis. It certainly looks like it would be a good idea for Minneapolis to build this thing themselves. Along with a good return, internet connection sales to residents would occur in a much more competitive atmosphere.

Get the Dagget report here. (pdf)

Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Who Should Control Public Wireless in Minneapolis?
Aaron Neumann writes about the coming Minneapolis Wi-Fi network in the February edition of Southside Pride. Judging from the title, you can see where his sentiments lie: Rybak's Great Giveaway: The Selling Out of Public Wi-Fi.

I knew Minneapolis had put out an RFP for a WiFi network and had wished for more public involvement but I haven't paid much attention. Neumann's piece brought the issue into focus for me and from the sound of it, the city needs to do more research before ceding control to either Earthlink or U.S. Internet, the finalists in the process. In particular, could we create a public/private mix more akin to Philadelphia's system?

R.T. Rybak, mayor of Minneapolis, has an editorial in the St. Paul Pioneer Press stating why the current wireless plan is really great and he mentions Philadelphia in a way that makes it seem they switched from public to private with their plan. Neumann, in Pride, has a different take on what Philadelphia is doing and recommends that approach for Minneapolis.

I'm a public commons kind of guy which means I would support a publicly owned wireless commons but Minneapolis, according to Neumann, can't afford the $25 million or so it would cost to build. But if Neumann's piece is accurate, there was not enough due diligence involved in this whole process. Minneapolis needs to take a step back and consider other alternatives. My city council person, Cam Gordon, is of the same mind and I'll be contacting him. I will update here as I find out more.

If anyone has a good link to a mainstream media story on the Philly wireless system, I'd appreciate it. (All links are well and good, of course. Some people just feel better reading it out of the NY Times.)

Linking around...
Neumann mentions a report available at The New Rules Project entitled Is A Publicly Owned Information Network for Minneapolis a Wise Public Investment? (PDF). New Rules also has a resource page, Wireless (and Wired) Minneapolis.

In googling around, I found this piece at Daily Review (California San Francisco bay area), Industry proposes ban on free wi-fi Internet access. Quote:
telephone industry official Tuesday urged Congress to bar
government-run wireless Internet services such as the one being
considered by Fremont and other Bay Area cities, saying they compete
unfairly with private companies and stifle innovation.

Couple of points. 1. The Telephone Industry spends lots of money talking to Congress and pushing out ads explaining why public control is bad. That money could be spent on innovation, research, and creating wider Internet access. 2. The Telephone Industry's record for innovation, at least in the Internet arena, is pretty bad. Public groups have had to drag them to the table to provide better access in major urban areas. Minneapolis itself suffered from a DSL redlining by our major carrier (now Qwest, probably US West back then). (I know I should back up these assertions but I don't have time right now. Consider me a trusted authority right now and I'll get back to you.)

Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Dick Droid Vanishes
The robot known as Philip K Dick is missing. Read more.

via William Gibson's Blog.
say roy. tags:

Friday, February 10, 2006
New iPod and Case Problem
I got a video ipod for Christmas. I love it. It's my first portable music player. Mostly I listen to podcasts and watch TV. (I'm downloading Law and Order's first season from iTunes.)

Also purchased a Marware Sportsuit Convertible case system which I really like. Provides an armband and a belt clip and there are other accessories you can purchase. The basic case is neoprene. But it's gunking up my iPod! Here's the email I sent to Marware support.
I purchased a Sportsuit Convertible for the video iPod on Jan. 16.
The case is leaving a strip of sticky residue on the left side and top
of the iPod. seems to be a flaw at the point where the plastic
screen meets the neoprene. I can feel a stickiness when I press my
finger in that spot.
I sent that out on Jan. 31 and so far, no response. I'd like them to send me a new case as this basically looks like a flaw since the gunk is in one area.

If anyone else has had this problem, please let me know. tags:

Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Profile of Sharon in New Yorker
Jan. 25 & 30 New Yorker has an excellent profile of Arik Sharon by Ari Shavit. Sharit had unprecedented access over several years starting in 1999. (Print version only.) tags:

Is President Bush Going to Far with Wiretaps?
I caught portions of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the NSA wiretapping on Monday when Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was questioned. The senators do not seem happy with the President and question the legality of what he has authorized. Both the Democrat and Republican senators were critical.

There are big questions about limiting surveillance to foreign calls only. They are harvesting the entire feed supposedly, but ignoring any calls that stay within the US. We are supposed to trust them on this.

VP Cheney meanwhile, warns us that this investigation stuff could alert Al Qaeda to some of our spy methods thus endangering us all. Yes, we should trust them.

We live in troubled times. How much privacy and how many freedoms are we willing to give up to keep terrorists away?

In terms of trust, the Executive Branch (not just this administration but any administration) is the least trustworthy because it is a group of like-minded people with a similar agenda. And reports indicate that President Bush's administration is more like-minded than most.

Story at Washington Post. tags:

Today's Favorite Blog
My favorite blog read of late is Hugh Macleod's gapingvoid and I find the How to Be Creative post inspirational but not in a sappy way. tags:

I'm trying to blog and nuthin' happens.

If anyone knows where the Stooges original sound bite resides on the Net, please let me know.

Monday, February 06, 2006
Jim White at the Turf Club
Jim White will be at the Turf Club in St. Paul (MN) on Feb 9. I found him in David Byrne's playlist at David Byrne Radio (yes, that David Byrne) where he puts together a monthly playlist. White records for Byrne's Luaka Bop label.

The first song I heard by Jim White was "If Jesus Drove a Motor Home."
If Jesus drove a motor home, and he come to your town, would you try to talk to him? Would you follow him around? Honking horns at the drive thru. Double-parking at the mall. Midnight at the Waffle House — Jesus eating eggs with ya’ll.
From the album "Drill a hole in the substrate and tell me what you see." And look over here for a video and the song.

More White songs at the High Road Touring site: Static on the Radio, Bluebird, Combing My Hair. All three, in both music and lyrics, are just like awesome for lack of some better word.

Mr. White will open for the Handsome Family, husband and wife duo that tell stories in the Country Music genre. Check here and here for more on the Handsomes including some streaming music. tags:

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