Photo of worker adjusting a wireless access point.

Worker adjusting the wireless access point outside my window.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Is a public access wireless network on the horizon?
Wired looks at the upcoming spectrum auctions where new group Frontline is proposing to build a public access network that would double as a national public safety network if necessary. Public access would allow anyone to lease it without restrictions (competition!) and allow any conceivable device to connect.

The spectrum itself is low frequency UHF (TV has to vacate it) and provides much better coverage and range than current Wi-Fi spectrum. This means networks can be built cheaper because of fewer access points. Rural areas could benefit significantly.

Of course the incumbents see heavy-handed government regulations at play here that could harm what they see as the current competitive climate of maybe three choices in major urban areas and no choices but satellite in rural areas. They would like to keep all this spectrum for themselves.

This could be the last spectrum auction in a while, at least for wireless spectrum.

Read the article: It's Silicon Valley vs. Telcos in Battle for Wireless Spectrum

Monday, May 28, 2007
Wireless in Philadelphia Again
Maybe spring has something to do with it but wireless is heating up again in both Philadelphia and Minneapolis. I suppose not much work can be accomplished in either city in the winter.

WPVI-ABC news in Philadelphia has an excellent story on the state of wireless to the east. Philadelphia will have a low-income rate of $9.95. Nothing like that yet in Minneapolis.

Also worth noting is a 3 Mbps download rate (1 Mbps up). Minneapolis is two-tiered: 1-3 Mbps or 3-6 Mbps for $19.95 or $29.95.

via MuniWireless...

Wireless: College Connection in Philadelphia. What are we doing?
Drexel University to Offer Students, Faculty and Staff Access to EarthLink’s Wi-Fi Networks

PHILADELPHIA--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Drexel University and EarthLink (NASDAQ:ELNK) reached a first-of-its-kind agreement between a major university and wireless network service provider to extend the boundaries of Drexel’s Dragonfly wireless network for students, faculty and staff to access university resources and services or browse the Internet over EarthLink’s Wi-Fi networks, Drexel President Constantine Papadakis announced today.

As I read the story, students, staff, and faculty will be able to extend their college wireless access to the new Philadelphia wireless network. I would guess that Drexel paid something for this service. I wish they had clarified this.

The access is "for a limited time each month." It also extends to Earthlink's wireless networks in other cities.

Are we pursuing anything like this in Minneapolis? I know that the University of Minnesota is preparing to upgrade the entire campus wireless network. I believe either an RFI or RFP has been issued. This sort of arrangement for students, staff, and faculty would be excellent. (Disclosure: I am a U of MN employee.)

While I'm talking about the U of MN and wireless, I recently found that the U is selling wireless access on campus. I would like to see them provide free access. It would be a great community service and I don't think they will see droves of urban digerati flocking to campus especially since most of the nearby coffee shops have free wireless.

via MuniWireless

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Philadelphia Wireless Update
Web buzz this weekend as Philadelphia approves Earthlink's 15-square-mile proof-of-concept network and Earthlink is going to begin build-out of the 135-sq.-mile system that is scheduled for completion in the third quarter of 2007.

As in Minneapolis, Earthlink is building and managing the Wi-Fi system and will share revenues with Wireless Philadelphia, a non-profit created by the city to fund digital divide/inclusion projects.

Earthlink is offering limited-time promotional rates of $6.95/month for 1 Mbps service and $9.95 for 3 Mbps service (with a 1 Mbps upload speed—why not symmetrical)? The rates will stay in place for the first six months and then go to $19.95 and $21.95 respectively.

US Internet's Minneapolis rates are much higher. There is a current deal of $14.95/month for 1 to 3 Mbps service and $24.95/month for 3 to 6 Mbps service. This will last until the network is finished. After that, basic 1 Mbps service will cost $19.95 and the higher speed will go to $29.95. US Internet does provide symmetrical connections for downloading and uploading. Personally, I'd choose the slower upload speed and lower price in Philadelphia for the 3 Mbps service.

Earthlink has the right idea for getting community buy-in to the service. At $6.95/month, I would definitely try out the wireless system while keeping my current DSL. That's harder to justify at $14.95/month—over twice the Eathlink-Philadelphia rate. Plus my expectations for customer support would be somewhat tempered at $6.95.

Current customer support and network reports are not good here in Minneapolis. Roy, my friend down the block, bought in early here in pilot project land. There were connectivity problems immediately that were finally resolved but now they are upgrading the network and he can't really rely on his connection at all. I would hope they offer him a free month of service for the problems.

My own customer service issue is with an email I sent on May 15 asking about the number of log-ins available with a single account. So far, I've heard nothing back.

LAN News


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Blog search tools II
See 5/26 post too.

The Rollyo searchroll doesn't do a good job with its embedded advertising and it's difficult to tell the ads from the results.

I switched to my good friend Google and so far, it looks pretty good. Ads? Yes. But we are all accustomed to the Google ad concept so that makes their search tool more usable. (Non-profits, schools, and government can turn off the ads.)

Besides creating a search engine for a blog or site, you can access your personal search engine(s) via Google.

Much more control over the look-and-feel and you can specify keywords for tuning your search results. There are also a few advanced features: context, annotations, and refinements. (Sorry, I'm not taking the time to even dig into them right now. You'll have to go look yourself.)

I have invites to the Google Co-op world where these personalized search engines exist. Drop me a line if you need one.

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Must See! 10,000 Things Little Shop of Horrors
Those of you following along saw me rave about Ten Thousand Things theater last fall when they opened their season with The Merchant of Venice. They followed that up with Lorca's Blood Wedding in March and they've just opened the musical Little Shop of Horrors. Yes. A musical. They do them well.

The actors on the stage at a TTT production are the same ones you see at the Guthrie, Jeune Lune, and the other hot venues in the Twin Cities. The difference is the sets (virtually none), the script—pared down to the basics because they often perform for groups that haven't seen much theater, and the lighting—whatever the room lighting happens to be. The groups they perform for are prison inmates, the homeless, and the disabled.

They do a bunch of free performances at the social venues that they serve so there really is no excuse to miss them. You do need reservations. Check the schedule. (Sorry, they won't let you check out the prison shows but you can see them free at places like St. Stephen's Community Center and the Dorothy Day Center.)

They also have paid performances in Minneapolis on June 15-17 and 22-24. Tickets are $20.

Check the 10,000 Things site.

Bonus Link. American Theater article on 10,000 Things.

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Saturday, May 26, 2007
Blog search tools
I had a Technorati widget over there on the right for searching my blog but it wasn't working. In fact, a direct search on my blog at Technorati also failed. Don't have any idea why.

So I now have a Rollyo widget over there on the right. It generates a confusing array of results along with a bunch of ads that look suspiciously like results. I am not amused.

Stay tuned. I suppose Google must have something I can use here.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007
Apple to release new MBPs?
I start my new position at University of Minnesota Extension (Family Development) on June 11, the week of Apples Worldwide Developers Conference. I think my MacBook Pro order is in process and now Endgadget reports that Apple will release their next gen MBPs at WWDC. They have irrefutable evidence, as is always the case with rumors.

Even if this is fact, I doubt I would be able to have one in my hands before August (although I could attempt some string-pulling with the U's Apple rep). I'll keep what I'm getting.

And hey Pete, what about this new position. Yes, I'm transitioning from the U of MN Cancer Center over to Extension Services but my job description won't change much except it will be more Web and more my Web shop to keep tuned.

I do switch campuses and will be over in St. Paul rather than Minneapolis.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Dark Side of Municipal Wireless
AP (via Yahoo) gives us the dark side of municipal wireless looking at potential failures throughout the US.

Cities struggle with wireless Internet

This is laced with hooie. Most of it is very circumstantial evidence that municipal wireless probably won't work. It's really too early to tell.

They focus most of their analysis on Lompoc, CA which is building a publicly-owned system. Lompoc only recently discovered that the wireless signal can't penetrate stucco with it's embedded wire mesh. They should have called US Internet here in Minneapolis-- they knew and that's why their bandwidth is only guaranteed with a repeater to strengthen the signal both ways. The device will cost $80 and can be rented for $5/month. Lots cheaper than the $150 for such a device mentioned in the article.

Here's a quote:

Because systems are just coming online, it's premature to say how many or which ones will fail under current operating plans, but the early signs are troubling.

It's premature but let's look at every single problem we can find with these deployments to make it sound bad. They focus on publicly-owned systems.

Minneapolis doesn't get mentioned (as usual). Maybe it's because our deployment seems to be going smoothly.

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Monday, May 14, 2007
Minneapolis Wireless: City plans for portal rollout
Last week at the City of Minneapolis Committee of the Whole: Wireless, Portal, and Community Engagement.

Download the presentation (pdf, 850K).

Michael Maranda discusses community portal ideas and ownership.

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Sunday, May 13, 2007
Anaheim Muni Wifi by Earthlink
Business Week has an article about the Earthlink Wi-Fi build-out in Anaheim. I remember that they got this contract right around the time when they were demonstrating their pilot network in North Minneapolis before Minneapolis had chosen a vendor.

Earthlink is providing internal antennas/modems for free in Anaheim. Monthly cost is slightly higher -- $21.95 compared to $19.95 -- but some of that is probably local cost of living with Anaheim on the high end.

The article is critical of municipal Wi-Fi, wondering whether the for-profit deployments can ever sustain themselves financially. From the article:

But EarthLink and other providers have struggled with low subscriber response and reliability problems, and entrenched telecom and cable giants are fighting back with alternative technologies. The question is whether municipal Wi-Fi will ever pay off, or if this grand plan to offer broadband to the masses is headed for the dustbin of history.

According to the article, Novarum, a wireless consultant, found that the Earthlinkd network was only connecting about 72% of the time. (Earthlink states that where deployed, they have at least 90% connectivity.)

So what's going to happen if a company much smaller than Earthlink deploys a municipal wireless network in a major Midwest city and discovers that their projections were in error and they are losing money?

Municipal Wi-Fi: A Failure To Communicate

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Time Magazine opens its archives
Time Magazine has opened its archives back to 1923. Here's the May 7, 1945 issue with Hitler on the cover.

via Doc Searls.

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Monday, May 07, 2007
Minneapolis wireless portal needs content guidelines
[Update: Garrick starts a conversation. Plus higher res version of the Wi-Fi portal.]

The portal pages for the Minneapolis muni wireless system are becoming a reality. This has been called the "walled garden" in the past and some new terminology out of Chicago has referred to it as a "civic garden."

The portal will be available free of charge if you can connect to a wireless node. You won't need an account. On one level, this will provide information to visitors. On another level, it's free internet for those who can't afford it.

So what should be in the garden?

I'm a member of the portal committee where we will soon (next week) be working on policies for the content of the portal and walled garden.

I'm soliciting ideas.

For those curious, here's the current USIW portal in the 'active' areas (the original pilot project area). As far as I know, you can actively sign up for an account if you can get to this page. There's a 24-hour rate for $9.95 or a 15 min. rate of $3.95. Tags:
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Sunday, May 06, 2007
Wireless Minneapolis: Seward & DT to go wireless
Article at Star Tribune site posted May 4:

The new Minneapolis Wi-Fi Internet access service begins May 11 in 2 square miles including the Seward neighborhood. Service begins downtown the week of May 21.

Check my last post for a look at the current wireless purchase/log-in page. The article says the cost will be $19.95 but the portal log-in says $14.95. So will the $19.95 be for new customers or are they going to raise everyone's rate?

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007
I, Google
Google Personalized Home Pages have a new name: iGoogle. PC World's Techlog talks about it here. Yes, it says iGoogle (lower case "i") right at the top of my personalized home page instead of Google.

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