Photo of worker adjusting a wireless access point.

Worker adjusting the wireless access point outside my window.

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Sunday, April 30, 2006
NEIL YOUNG - Living With War
[Update. September 2, 2006. New link for online listening. Scroll down center column to the album cover -- it's under there.]

A blog for Neil Young's new album, Living with War.

NEIL YOUNG - Living With War

Hear the album online here. tags:

Om Malik at GigaOM : � Save The Internet. Why? And For Whom?
Om Malik wonders where the big Web companies are in the struggle to save the Net.

GigaOM : Save The Internet. Why? And For Whom?

via Technology Evangelist

Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Daily Kos: We Need You to Save the Internet!
Good post about network neutrality.

via Technology Evangelist

Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Photo: Road to Hotan

road to hotan
Originally uploaded by themexican.
Photo discovery for this evening by The Mexican and taken in Xinjiang, China.

From the photographer:
This was a small market village about an hour out of Hotan on the Kashgar road. The man had the saddest eyes. I just managed one snap before he went away. tags:

Disintermediation Rocks!
I find this raw barely-disintermediated journalism (we talk on the
phone this afternoon, it’s on the Web in hours) a little shocking still.
That's Tim Bray at Ongoing talking about David Berlind interviewing him today in a post entitled Real-Time Journalism. Berlind's blog post is here with a link to the podcast of his interview with Tim.

Berlind's post is geekily interesting and food for thoughts about an open environment for RSS and Atom. But I'm blogging (a few hours after Tim's post) because I love the disintermediation and the transparency of the Berlind piece that quotes Tim and gives you full context with the mp3 podcast. How can anyone not get that this is the likely future of journalism? tags:

Sunday, April 23, 2006 — National Coalition Launches Monday
Preview of Launches Monday.

via Technology Evangelist, a short video on net neutrality.

Saturday, April 22, 2006
Neighborhood Soup?
Welcome to Neighborhood Soup, a fortifying medley of news, stories and sounds from the urban grid. It's the news from your city neighborhood.
That's what it says on the 'About Us' page over The neighborhoods seem to be in Minneapolis, MN US. But who are these people? A whois on the domain brings me to Domains by Proxy, where you can keep your registration info safe from the prying eyes of spammers. I can't find any contact email addresses.

I did discover that the domain - - was created on March 16, 2006.

It looks and sounds like a citizens journalism site. Note the links down the left side: neighborhoods, crime alerts, Minneapolis weather and parks, and M.C.A.D. What? That's the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and it's the only academic institution listed. I think it's a clue as to ownership of the site. MCAD student(s)?

Over by the search box, 'neighborhood soup' is displayed and each letter is a link. I thought it was hidden advertising at first but the links range from BBC news to a photo of the Minneapolis skyline, to a photo (at Flickr) of construction of the new wing at the Minneapolis Institute of Art (adjacent to MCAD).

Couple of notes to the author(s) if they should happen to find me:
  1. The title of your feed is 'Joomla Powered Site.' Oops.
  2. You don't have a discovery meta tag to light up the Firefox RSS indicator in the address bar (and to allow easy subscribing with Bloglines.
  3. The link on the 'n' of your linking letters is broken.
Ah ha!
I originally linked to this site via the E-Democracy Minneapolis Issues forum and I was finally able to dig up the post that announced it:
It's an unofficial bit of experimentation by a handful of Star Tribune writers who would prefer not to cede monopoly status over Minneapolis news to our friend Craig Cox...
Craig Cox is managing editor at Twin Cities Daily Planet.

So we have journalists anonymously blogging. Why not identify yourselves, folks. I think there's a credibility issue here.

And why the MCAD link? tags:

"How Municipal WiFi Works" at Howstuffworks
Here is a primer on muni Wi-Fi. Looks thourough and well-written although I've only skimmed it so far.

MuniWireless » Openness as Public Policy
via MuniWireless.

A business- and university-led public policy group has issued a downloadable 72-page report examining open standards, open source software, and "open innovation." The report concludes that openness should be promoted as a matter of public policy, in order to foster innovation and economic growth in the U.S. and world economies.

Thursday, April 20, 2006
Minneapolis Wireless: Notes on the Digital Inclusion Roundtable
April 11, 2006

Next meeting should be April 25, 5:30 p.m. at Alliance for Metropolitan Stability (2525 E. Franklin #200) but check the Digital Access site for updates.

(Some background info about the roundtable here. My posts on Minneapolis wireless here. Yahoo discussion of Minneapolis wireless/broadband here.)

Purpose of the roundtable is to discuss the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) that will be negotiated with the vendor contract. "Community Benefits" is usually defined as ways to breach the Digital Divide.

Not many turned out for this one. I think the count is a dozen, give or take. Mahi, the Alliance's Americorps member, was the only female. Someone mentioned that the free pizza might be more of a draw for men than women.

New Task Force. The big news was the creation of a Digital Inclusion Task Force that Catherine Settanni, the C-CAN director. I've got highlights of the announcement following with my comments.
The City has asked me to convene a Digital Inclusion Task Force, made up of 15-20 representatives from education, libraries, government, non-profits, local employers and foundations. We will have 6 meetings over the next 4 months. The objective is to outline a Community Technology Agenda for the City, (a vision for where we, as a City, want to be), then, based on this vision, review and prioritize CBA recommendations from task force participants, AMS/CCAN roundtables, Council Members, and other interested parties. The Task Force will then make final recommendations to the negotiating team concerning CBA items, and issue a report for Council Members and the Mayor documenting both the process and the outcome of this work.
It's a good idea to have a technology agenda or plan for a big city and I guess for Minneapolis, this is better late than never. (I'd think you'd really want that agenda in place to help with shaping an RFP for muni wireless. Oh well.) At least education and libraries are on the list of participants. They seem to be missing in the current community benefits discussion.

I can't find any mention of the task force at the City of Mpls site. Nothing at the Star Tribune site either. I will bring it up at tonight's City Roundtable for muni wireless (see this post).

In the same message, Catherine S. states that "contract negotiations begin in earnest in June, with final vendor selection in July" so the 4-month task force time frame pushes the meetings beyond the date of the vendor selection. Will the contracts also be signed? Doesn't the CBA need to be in place before the vendor is selected and the contracts signed? Hmm.

I don't want to be paranoid but I'm not sure how the Task Force fits with the our current round table discussions. This thought was also expressed by a few others at the table. We may be invited to present our recommendations to the Task Force in May.

Pilot Project Update. Earthlink is mounting radios on city-owned poles. There is an issue on whether Wi-Fi will be available for public consumption during the pilot. Will try to ask about this at tonight's meeting.

CBA Issues. Network neutrality is an issue with several of us (myself included) wanting to see a statement of neutrality somehow incorporated into the CBA. For me, it's more philosophical but it would also keep The Vendor from charging extra for services like video or limiting video offerings to only what's "approved," meaning what The Vendor collects fees for. We're also linking a fair wholesale price of accounts to other ISPs as part of the neutrality issue.

Content and Sites. The agreement will include some language about localization of system start pages, or links to community sites, or web hosting, or web-building training.

I posted a suggestion to the mpls-broadband list:

Web content has been on the table at the meetings. I believe the CBA
can be used to enhance a neighborhood publishing system that includes
and encourages publishing by all residents.

Request a server(s) to be maintained by the Vendor. The Vendor would
maintain hardware and the OS (updates, security, patches, etc.).
Remote terminal access would be provided for Web content development.

Construct a robust, open source, collaborative web publishing system
utilizing blogs and wikis and whatever other collaborative software
might be desired. Train both neighborhood groups and residents in
using the system. Investigate the possibilities of citizen journalism,
possibly in collaboration with TC Daily Planet.

Encourage community content and sharing of all types (podcasts, video,
photos). Seek collaboration with other communities in the US and

This is one reason symmetrical connection rates are so important. The
practice of high-speed for downloads and relatively low-speed for
uploads implies that what you give me is more important than what I
give you. That's not true any more, if it ever was.
I think The Vendor would find it easy to provide the server and maintain it. Others were worried about content ownership on The Vendor's server and possible security issues for The Vendor. We will discuss this again next week.

We didn't get to privacy concerns. Here's my take on it:
For standard residential and business accounts, no sharing of any
personal information period, without permission from customer. Any
sharing is opt-in, not opt-out. Vendor could provide low-cost accounts
that do allow some sharing of personal data (clearly spelled out) and
ads (sort of a Google type of scenario).

For free wi-fi in the commons (parks, mall, etc.), data could be
collected for some purposes but it's got to be clearly explained to
Following is the edited CBA draft that we were working from at the meeting.

CBA Draft
April 11, 2006

Access Issues: Requirements
  1. Lowest cost basic consumer rates, in the range of $9-$21/mo.
  2. Minimum of 1-5MBPS consumer service over 100% of city addresses
  3. Free 60 day service, to test drive the system.
  4. Must be easy for residents to both sign up for and cancel subscription.
  5. Subsidized accounts for up to 7,000 low-income city residents, qualifications to be determined by Digital Inclusion advisory board (see #6 below)
  6. Subsidized or free accounts for all registered 501c3 non-profit organizations ($19.95/mo- at higher bandwidth, 5-10 mbps)
  7. Free Zones: free 5-10 MBPS service to community technology centers, City parks and City libraries inside the Empowerment Zone boundaries
  8. Digital Inclusion Investment; $250K up-front to fund a “Minneapolis Digital Inclusion Fund”. This fund will be managed by a community foundation, with a diverse advisory board of representatives from the City, the Vendor, small businesses, and local Non-Profit organizations. Funds will support one full-time Digital Inclusion program officer, and provide support for focus groups, constituent outreach and education efforts during the network build-out phase (year one). Board will also oversee revenues from monthly surcharge (see below) and oversee/allocate mini-grants for demonstration and tech literacy projects.
  9. Monthly surcharge on all accounts, (2% On all business and consumer accounts), to continue funding the Digital Inclusion Fund.

*Earthlink agreed to provide 5% of their revenue to purchase

    10,000 computers

  1. $75K annual support for the AmeriCorps Community Technology Empowerment Program (CTEP), placing 15 full-time AmeriCorps members in Minneapolis CTC, libraries and NPO agencies to build technology literacy capacity and programming (=$5000.00 each member) Funds could come from Digital Inclusion Fund after year 2.
  2. Priority funding considerations will be give for assisting communities of color, new immigrants, and Native American Communities.
  3. Participation in Digital Inclusion Advisory Board by 1 company representative at the most and 1 city representative at the most. The remaining members will be from the community.

Content Issues: Requirements

  1. In-kind support for designing localized “start page” templates, content author/publisher training, and website hosting.
  2. Initial or network login page information should be available to anyone who can find and choose this network: no login or access permissions needed to view the following “walled garden” content (available in multilingual, A/V forms as needed).
    • Critical Public Health & Safety Information- Bulletins
    • Notice of Public Meetings, City and Neighborhood, NRP, etc.
    • How to sign up for an account
    • How to qualify for a subsidized account
    • School closings notices
    • Snow Emergency Information
    • Critical Street Closures, detours
    • Police, Fire and Safety numbers, 311 Directory?
    • Other critical information (?)
  1. For all paid subscriptions guarantee network neutrality
Other Requirements
  1. Local preference in hiring regarding wiring and installation crews and support center staff (vendor).
  2. Subsidized CPE hardware to consumers and small businesses
  3. Vendor would allow businesses to share their signal with surrounding area via Hot Zones.
  4. 25 free standing, full service Internet Kiosks located in public buildings, airports, libraries, etc; (illustrating visitor, public health and other relevant information on start screens, depending on location).
  5. Create Partnership with specific hardware companies to provide lowest cost WIFI cards, hardware upgrades and replacement laptops to qualifying consumers, small businesses, and Non Profit Organizations.

Minneapolis Wireless: Community Meeting Tonight
For public feedback on municipal wireless in Mineapolis.

Business and Community Roundtable
Date: Thursday, April 20th
Time: 6-8pm
Location: Eastside Neighborhood Services
1700 2nd St NE Minneapolis, MN

Saturday, April 15, 2006
Disney's Web TV
Goodness. Disney is going to web broadcast.
Top ABC shows such as "Commander in Chief" and "Alias," along with
"Lost" and "Desperate Housewives," will be available on the Web at in May and June, starting the day after they are first
broadcast, the network said. They will only be available to users with
a U.S. Internet address to protect foreign broadcasting rights.

All except Alias are available at the ITunes store for $1.99/each, less with one of the pass deals.

What about commercials?
Viewers will be able to pause and move between "chapters" in an episode, but not skip ads that are technically embedded.
Oh. Can I fast-forward?

How long before a friendly hacker figures out how to grab the video stream, 'technically un-embed' the ads, and distribute again. Could be interesting. Hope nobody gets hurt.

Would you work on the Death Star?
Dialogue from the movie Clerks (which I have not seen yet but this sure makes it sound interesting).

via Tim Bray's Ongoing tags:

Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Broadband: We're Number 12! We're Number 12.
We're number 12 and it's maybe not something to cheer about.

MuniWireless reports on recent OECD (Office for Economic Co-operation and Development) data that shows the US 12th in number of broadband subscribers per 100 inhabitants. We stand at 16.8 (per 100 inhabitants). Iceland leads at 26.7; Korea has 25.4. Canada is eighth. See the chart here:

In 'household penetration,' the US ranks 16th (sorry no time to back up that number this morning) but I still can't quite grok how that number is determined. I like this 'per 100' figure much more. It's easy to understand and allows for comparisons across nations.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin would like us to believe that low population density in the US accounts for the lag but Leila Abboud, in a Wall Street Journal article (behind the paywall) notes that Iceland, Norway, and Sweden all have lower densities and more per captita subscribers. (Read the Muni post for more on the WSJ article.)

One reason for the increase in broadband subscribers in countries like Iceland is "governments forcing incumbents to open up their networks to other service providers." This is an important issue in Minneapolis and one that is under discussion as we struggle with preparing a Community Benefits Agreement that will be part of our municipal wireless contract.

Sunday, April 09, 2006
Community Wireless: Getting to the Community
Lisa Yeo (A Blog of Her Own) posts from the National Summit for Community Wireless Networks.

How to Put the Community in your CWN

Some good stuff here about getting the community involved in your wireless network including some actual projects that are going on in the US and Canada.

Saturday, April 08, 2006
BusinessWeek: AT&T-BellSouth: Bad for Competitiveness?
An interview with Charles H. Ferguson, author of The Broadband Problem: Anatomy of a Market Failure and a Policy Dilemma. He discusses the AT&T-BellSouth merger and the broadband bottleneck in the US.

AT&T-BellSouth: Bad for Competitiveness?

Here's a teaser:
Why is broadband deployment so crucial to U.S. competitiveness?
Broadband service is already the major bottleneck to technological progress in the IT sector. In many situations, it dominates the total cost of application deployment. If you ask what will determine the penetration level and deployment of very high quality video conferencing, it's not the cost of the computers. If you amortize a computer over four years and compare it to the cost of the T-1 line, you'll discover the T-1 is 80% of the lifecycle cost.

So the cost that the U.S. economy is paying for stagnant [broadband] price performance over the last decade is quite dramatic. You can argue that this is costing us a percent a year in productivity and in GDP growth.

And there are serious energy and homeland security impacts as well. Think of the importance of having access to broadband services if there were ever a truly significant oil shortage? Or if there was a serious terrorist attack, or something that required large-scale quarantines or caused part of the transportation system to be shut down. Broadband services would be quite important.

A Deeper Understanding of Net Neutrality
Sascha Meinrath at Muni-wireless has an overview of a paper he and Victor Pickard are preparing that "will synthesize existing commons-based models to create a more expansive standard of net neutrality that is conducive to Internet openness." Besides open access, they will consider "the broader contours of Internet architecture, including software, hardware, wireless infrastructure, economics, and open protocols and standards."

I take this to mean incorporating Free and Open Source Software (FOSS: Linux, Apache, MySQL, Perl and PHP) into the formula. It makes sense because this sort of Net infrastructure will encourage an open philosophy. The FOSS community is about sharing and collaboration and access at the source level.

From the overview:
Frequently referred to as a commons-based approach to the management of communications systems, this model emphasizes cooperation and innovation as opposed to privatization and enclosure.
I hope this comes out soon as Minneapolis could use some guidance as we approach a major muni wireless system.


Library Discussion
Several years ago, my local public library was open on Sunday and most evenings. Now, hours have been seriously reduced due to budget issues. Check here for the hours and you'll see that most of the community libraries are open only 32 hours per week and many are not open on Saturday. Not much for evening hours either.

There is something serioiusly wrong here. I think libraries should be open 24/7. It's especially critical in the Twin Cities where we have a large immigrant population.

So here's my chance (and yours) to discuss the problem with the Friends of the Library. They are holding two open discussions.

Linden Hills Community Library
Thursday, April 20, 6:30 - 8:00 pm
2900 West 43rd Street, Minneapolis

Nokomis Community Library
Tuesday, April 25, 6:30 - 8:00 pm
5100 34th Ave. S., Minneapolis

Thursday, April 06, 2006
Earthlink's the One in SF (and Google)
Earthlink and Google win the San Francisco muni wi-fi project. More discussion at tech.memeorandum.
EarthLink envisions charging roughly $20 per month for the ability to surf the Web at speeds four to five times faster than Google's free service, expected to be financed with a heavy dose of ads.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006
ASL Documentary: By Hand and Heart
Minnesota Stories has a trailer for Christina Sweet's documentary By Hand and Heart: The Poetry of American Sign Language", a "a work-in-progress about the visual poetry of a non-word-based language" and it specifically focuses on ASL poetry.

M., the wife and ASL interpreter, gives it a two-thumbs up. We are looking forward to the final release. Comments are running heavily in favor of the piece also.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Originally uploaded by pfhyper.
Here he is. Lots of hair. I am now blessed with three grandsons. tags:

New Boy Arrives Today
My lovely daughter, Hallie, had her third child today, a beautiful baby boy. She is well, the boy is well, and Papa has tears of joy. tags:

Monday, April 03, 2006
Social Event Organizing lets you list and organize events - all free. It's one Yahoo's latest purchases. Also has feeds for the stuff you're interested in.

I just listed the upcoming Wireless Minneapolis community meetings there. I'm hoping to draw in some of the more Web 2.0ish folks. Twin Cities listing is here.

Minneapolis Wireless: There is a Mailing List
Dave Garland has started a mailing list to serve as a working group for discussing the Community Benefits Agreement must be drafted for the vendor contract. C-CAN, CTEP, Alliance for Metropolitan Stability are also holding public meetings every other week. See here.

Join Dave's list.

My Minneapolis Wi-Fi Posts .

A Day in the Life of Cam Gordon
Reporter Cyn Collins of The Bridge follows Cam Gordon around for the day. Cam is the only Green on the Minneapolis City Council.

Link. tags:

Insightful Comment on US Education
Heart of the City for Sunday, April 2. tags:

Sunday, April 02, 2006
Wireless Minneapolis: Community Informational Sessions Finally
The City of Minneapolis is finally seeking feedback from the community-at-large about what community benefits should be negotiated with the chosen wireless vendor.

The schedule:

6-8 p.m., Tuesday, April 4
Plymouth Congregational Church, 1900 Nicollet Ave. S.

6-8 p.m., Thursday, April 20
Eastside Neighborhood Services, 1700 2nd St. N.E.

6-8 p.m., Wednesday, May 3
Waite House, 2529 13th Ave. S.

According to the site, more meetings are being planned. I found out about the meetings via the C-CAN announcement list. It would be nice if the City had sent out an announcement as they have a sign-up page "to receive regular e-mail updates."

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