Photo of worker adjusting a wireless access point.

Worker adjusting the wireless access point outside my window.

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Friday, March 30, 2007
WiMAX on the Horizon in Minneapolis
During the buildup to the Minneapolis wireless build-out, future wireless technologies were often mentioned and WiMAX was among them—the idea being that Minneapolis was positioning itself to take advantage of new developments. Details like the fact that Sprint owns the WiMAX spectrum in Minneapolis, were not mentioned.

Sprint just announced that it is gearing up to rollout a WiMAX network in a dozen or so cities in 2008. Minneapolis is in the mix. Motorola will build our network.

WiMAX is last-mile internet access technology, just like Wi-Fi. If you have one in a well-served area, you probably won't need the other. Sprint plans on integrating it's cellphone offerings with broadband internet services.

WiMAX is new though and Wi-Fi is well-embedded in our computing ecosystem with most new laptops ready to connect. WiMAX does has the advantage of a protected spectrum which means much less interference as compared to Wi-Fi. So WiMAX should be much more reliable than Wi-Fi, at least right now.

From the standpoint that competition is good, this is good news. Sprint conceivably will provide another way for me to get to the Internet really fast (WiMAX is generally considered higher speed than Wi-Fi).

But Minneapolis may not be able to take advantage of the competition as it is locked into a contract (10-years, I think) with USI Wireless for all sorts of services. This could see the City paying above market rates, especially since WiMAX is better suited for the type of public service mobile applications that Minneapolis has described as saving residents lots of money.

It will probably be 2009 before we have any definite answers here. Stay tuned.

GigaOM on Sprint's Lil WiMAX Details.

August 2007 Sprint press release with WiMAX details.

Sunday, March 25, 2007
Jeremy Iggers update
Jeremy Iggers recently left the Star Tribune and has been named executive director of Twin Cities Media Alliance, the parent organization of TC Daily Planet. And he's blogging!

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Yochai "Wealth of Networks" Benkler at F2C
I still have not blogged about my time in DC at the F2C conference (I do have a draft under production but will it ever see the light of day?). Tonight I found Yochai Benkler's keynote from the conference available. It's worth a listen. Watch the video stream or grab the podcast. Includes a panel discussion. And Howard Levy on the harp.

Yochai's book, The Wealth of Networks, is also available (free!) on the Web.

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International Summit for Community Wireless Networks
The Champaign-Urbana Community Wireless Network (CUWiN) and the Center for Community Informatics (CCI) will host the International Summit for Community Wireless Networks from May 18-20, 2007 at Loyola College in Columbia, Maryland.

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Minnebar Two
Minnesota's second Minnebar Unconference will take place April 21 in St. Paul's Lowertown at the Railroader Building, 235 E. Sixth St. Sign up at the wiki.

We were crowded last year at Catalyst Studio (thank you Catalyst!). The Railroader has more room and two floors.

No audience or presenters at an unconference, just participants and discussion leaders. List sessions you're interested in both leading and attending at the wiki.

Watch for an April 20 icebreaker. Last year it was at Acadia and it gets my vote for this year too.

Check out the Minnebar06 archive.

via Ben

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Saturday, March 24, 2007
The Newspaper Struggle
Over at David Strom's Web Informant, David Hakala writes an intriguing piece about newspapers, online and off.

Newspapers will never get IT right

That title is his conclusion. Newspapers don't get IT—as in "Information Technology"— right and, they don't get it, meaning the news delivery business right. They are shackled to old concepts like selling the news as it ages and advertising. Right: I want to pay money for old news in their archives. If anything I might pay for current news if they were the only outlet.

And no matter what Bill Gates says, advertising as we currently know it is going to die. I think it will be a pretty messy death and we will all have to suffer through some really irritating histrionics but throwing ads out mindlessly, even to something you've identified as your target group, won't be sustained under the new Internet regime where I will manage my vendors the way I like.

David does a wonderful job of deconstructing the online newspaper presence and make sure to read the comments.

Bonus: Project VRM site.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007
Desperately Seeking Broadband
I'm trying to find reasonably-priced broadband access for a close friend in Santa Fe, NM who is having some health problems and not up to the task of waiting on hold and then waiting some more. Qwest has DSL service for $31.95 (monthly) but they are at full capacity in the area where she lives. She can get on a waiting list. Comcast wants about $60 per month (current special will get her six months for $51.95). Basic cable + Internet is $69.95. That's pricey broadband and she will likely keep dial-up for now.

That may be all of her choices. I think I'm going to try calling the city gov in Santa Fe and see if they know of any other possibilities.

Stumbled on a related article at Doc Searls' Blog.

Tragedy of the Comcast
There is nothing wrong with cable and phone companies making money by providing services. There is something wrong with cable and phone companies treating the Net as a secondary or tertiary service when in fact it is a fundamental public utility.

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Conversations & Policy at Policy Soup
Nice read at David Curle's Minn Policy Soup about a recent talk by David Lankes. Links to Lankes' audio and slides too.

"Documents, the things that we have been conditioned to think of as "information," are really only weak echoes of the conversations that created them."

Ooh. I like that quote.

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Hillary 1984
Internet Campaign 2008:  User-generated campaign mashup videos.

Huffington Post reveals creator.

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Sunday, March 18, 2007
Tax Day jumps to April 17
I just found out that taxes aren't due this year until April 17. Read why over at the Don't Mess With Taxes blog .

Minnesota Tax Day is also April 17 but that may not apply for all states.

Saturday, March 17, 2007
Digital Inclusion: EarthLink brings access to homeless in Chicago
Wi-Fi Planet reports that Earthlink will provide a small computer lab, Wi-Fi access and a laser printer to 17 homeless shelters in Chicago. Partners include Blackwell Consulting Services, Computers for Schools, and Chicago Public Schools' Homeless Education Department. One installation has opened.

Chicago is currently considering responses to an RFP for municipal wireless. Earthlink is a strong contender.


Friday, March 16, 2007
Placeblogging day at PF Hyper
Check the comments for this post where Lisa Williams (PlaceBlog, H2otown) drops by and promises to give up jargonese for Lent and then I found this VC blog (A VC by Fred Wilson) discussing the placeblogging idea as a "fundable opportunity."

(And check out Fred's music posts [especially if you're a Neil Young fan].)

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Sunderland the winner in UK Digital Challenge
The UK held a Digital Challenge and 79 councils submitted ideas for how technology could take on the issues of social exclusion. Nine finalists received £2m ($3.9m USD) to finance their plans and Sunderland, the winner of the Challenge, received £3.5m ($6.8m USD).

David Wilcox has an excellent report here, including a video interview with some of the Sunderland (City Council?) folk.

BBC story here.

Sunderland has been in the top seven Intelligent Communities for the past five years (this is unprecedented). The story of how Sunderland rose from the ruins of the industrial age to be a leader of the information age is fascinating. In 1994, Sunderland was in the bottom 10% of Britain's "depressed districts." Then in the period 2002 to 2004, 72% of new jobs in the North England region were in Sunderland even though only 11% of the North population lives there. Stunning!

Sadly, no US cities made the 2007 Intelligent Communities list.

As we move forward with digital inclusion efforts in my home city, Minneapolis, MN USA, I wonder if our name could grace that list in 2008?

Hyperlocal placeblogging citizen media siting in Northeast Minneapolis
Garrick calls it hyperlocal on his latest First Crack podcast where he chats with Dan Haugen, founder of the new (est. Nov. 2006) (The) Northeast Beat blog. But that's so 20th century. For the 21st C we have: Placeblogging.

Terminology aside, it's a good interview that covers citizen media issues and specifically Dan's background and his hopes for Northeast Beat where he's just added a couple of wikis for event listings and publishing community meeting reports.

I will nominate Dan's feed to be included in the new Minneapolis Wi-Fi Portal (aka "walled garden"), currently under discussion. The goal is to have hyperlocal journalism sources (oops, placeblogs) that would be tied to an area. So in Northeast Minneapolis, Northeast Beat's feed would appear in the portal. The portal itself would be available to anyone with Wi-Fi connectivity — you don't need an Internet Service account.

So Dan, please change your current feed so it displays full posts and not just a paragraph. This is of convenience for those of us who like to read everything in one place and it may be a requirement of the portal to prevent linking out to the larger Web.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Broadband missing in much of rural Idaho
Sharon Fisher writes about lack of broadband access in Idaho.

Wireless in Minneapolis
The new Wi-Fi mesh in Minneapolis is slowly making its way across the city. I live in the pilot area so I've had a chance to play with it since July. My access ended recently as USI Wireless (the new US Internet entity for the wireless deployment) began selling accounts in the pilot area.

If you are in the Seward Neighborhood area (around 24th Ave. S. & Franklin), you can check out the USI "Minneapolis Portal" login page. Check for USI Wireless where your network SSIDs are listed. Load a new browser page (or restart the browser in some instances) and you should be at the portal where you can pay $9.95 for a day of wireless browsing (or $3.95 for 15 minutes - yikes!). (I don't know if you can actually pay-&-browse yet but the technology is there.)

If you live in the Seward area, you can also subscribe to the system for $14.95/month (1-3Mbps) or $24.95/month (3-6Mbps). The subscription service is in place as they sent out a mailing a while back.

A comfortable place for wireless exploration would be the 2nd Moon Coffee Shop at 2225 East Franklin Avenue. You should be able to see the USI Wireless network there and you can browse the Web via the free wireless at 2nd Moon if you don't want to pay USI for some browsing time.

Here is a map of the Wi-Fi access points in the Seward Neighborhood. As far as I know, this is the only accurate map. The one the City released last year was pre-deployment of the antennas and is almost completely off.

The downtown Minneapolis area is supposed to have access soon or maybe it's there already. Anyone downtown seeing the network?

The Official Minneapolis Wi-Fi Portal Page has all sorts of links to City information. I don't think any of the links work yet. Eventually, this page will serve as a Walled (or Civic) Garden, allowing anyone with a Wi-Fi connection free access to City and neighborhood information. What will be available in the Garden is under discussion and if you have ideas, please let me know as I'm on the committee that is working on this. (Comments are always best to keep a discussion going but if you're shy, email me at pfhyper [@] gmail DOT com.)

One idea put forth by Michael Maranda, a community activist out of Chicago, is that all .gov, .edu, and .org should be made available. His reasoning is that this will serve as a free access system for low income users who can't afford a monthly fee. It will also be a somewhat "safe" Internet to allow Net Newbies to get their feet wet.

(Please don't bring up the "free Internet for all" discussion. I agree with that but it ain't going to happen here in the near future. The best we can do is increase our garden space as much as possible.)

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Google Home Glitches
My personalized Google home page is experiencing some technical difficulties as is my wife's. Some of the feeds - Word for the Day, for example - aren't loading properly. Word is in really tiny text, smaller than any of the other feeds. Feed headings don't load at all in some instances, leaving a blank space. Or, they load but the link to the source is broken. Very odd.

A browser reload fixes it all. Are the G servers getting overloaded? Maybe resources have shifted to the new Google Doc pay service leaving the rest of us suffering.

Anyone else having problems?


New Phish Discovered
I have not seen this scam before.

Hello Pal,

I hope my email meets you well. I am in need of your assistance. My name
is Sgt James Clayton. I am a military attache with the Engineering unit
here in Ba'qubah Iraq for the United States.

Awaiting your urgent response.

Your Buddy.
Sgt James Clayton

God Bless America!!!!!!

What do you bet that Sgt. Clayton has found some gold? Likely once belonging to Saddam H.

This is a nice piece of social engineering. No long and boring details that most of the phishing schemes include. That added touch of patriotism is masterful. It leaves me wondering and I'm tempted to request more information.

Don't worry though. I never mess with this stuff unless I'm assured a minimum of $20M.

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Sunday, March 11, 2007
Back to Blogging
I took a brief hiatus from blogging rather unintentionally as various tasks piled up and blogging seemed a guilty pleasure with homework, taxes, and a graduate school application staring me down.
  1. Homework. I am enrolled in a graduate class at the University of Minnesota Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs. The class is Leadership for the Common Good and taught by Gary DeCramer.
  2. Grad School. I am applying for graduate school at the HHH Institute in the Master of Public Affairs program.
  3. Taxes. What can I say. You gotta do 'em. I gotta do 'em. Some of us (me) have S-Corps or other types of business entities that require filing by March 15 which is four days away. Aack.
I also attended the F2C: Freedom to Connect conference earlier this week which was two intensive days of Internet policy talk. More on this later.

The class I'm taking is excellent and daunting. We explore leadership theory in a shared-power world. It takes a very critical view of old top-down hierarchical structures and emphasizes that leaders are everywhere. The authors of the text, Leadership for the Common Good: Tackling Public Problems in a Shared-Power World, Barbara C. Crosby and John M. Bryson, both teach at Humphrey and both have lectured to our class.

Of course, I had to add a blog component and the Gary, the teacher, was very supportive even though he had never blogged. (His first post was "My fingers are trembling.") In fact, Gary decided to use blogging as a team leadership exercise. We divided into small groups and came up with recommendations relating to blogging policy for Fall Semester, 2007. I've posted some of the recommendations at the LCG blog. The one that every group came up with was privacy: posts should only be viewed by class members.

I'm doing a multi-author blog via the U of M UThink system. This is built on Movable Type and U would think there would be a rich text editor but damn, there isn't. You bold something and there's the raw code. The UThink Wiki lists an add-on editor called Xinha Here! (a Firefox plug-in) but this requires installation, possibly downloading Firefox, and the final interface is not the best as it overlays an editor on the text box in Movable Type. (The official Xinha site lists a version for IE. Maybe that would work?)

The grad school move is one I've been thinking about for two years. I work at the U of M so tuition is paid by the Regents Scholarship. I got stuck on the GRE requirement. The MPA at Humphrey does not require the GRE.

My long-term goal is to work on Internet and telcommunications policy. Maybe I would work in a nonprofit environment; maybe in government. Eventually, I want to teach—maybe at Humphrey.

The grad school application itself is a large task in itself. A statement, recommendations, a 10-year resume, all have to be completed by April 1. No fooling.

Daily Bugle: Captain America Assassinated
Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, was assassinated on the steps of the Federal Courthouse. On the Media has a report . Colbert too.

Haven't read Cap since I was a boy but he was one of my favorite super heroes. From the Bugle:

Rogers, a veteran of World War II, thought lost during the close of those hostilities, returned to action decades later and was instrumental in the early days of the Avengers. He had been at the forefront of American superheroics until recently when he openly and violently opposed the U.S. government's Superhero Registration Act. As Captain America, Rogers battled pro-Registration forces last week in Manhattan until surrendering himself to S.H.I.E.L.D. custody. He was on his way to his arraignment when he was struck down earlier today.

Hmm. Seems to me that Cap should have teamed up with X-Men who are always at odds with our government but generally have good hearts (well except Magneto and his friends).


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