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Worker adjusting the wireless access point outside my window.

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Saturday, May 30, 2009
Minneapolis Unwired: Dead zones & IOUs (plus a Wi-Fi in the parks update)
Steve Alexander has a report on the Minneapolis Wi-Fi deployment at the Star Tribune. Judging from the dates on the comments, I think it's from May 26 but there's no dateline on the story.

The gist is that it's not done which is also the ongoing mantra. "It's always something" as Gilda would say. Prospect Park is still a "challenge" area and there are others around the metro--a total of three square miles still unwired. The park issue I reported on before seems to be resolved and a contract is in place with a bit of money changing hands from US Internet to the Park Board. (Read details over at the eDemocracy Forum).

The City of Minneapolis is using only $50,000 worth of services but paying $1.25 million per year. The article says the money carries over (an IOU so to speak) so supposedly we will get full value eventually. Some reasons we aren't getting full value now are because the network needs to actually be complete before Police and Fire will mess with it and because some City departments are slow in adopting the service.

Alexander talks about using the network to track video from a police car going 80mph. I would love to know how that is possible. I don't think the current network, in areas where it is fully implemented, allows you to smoothly travel from node to node in a car without losing the connection some of the time. So do we have a "special" high-speed backend network for police and fire? I know there is a "public safety" channel or something but if it's still in the Wi-Fi range, it would be subject to all kinds of interference.

US Internet meanwhile says they now have 14,000 subscribers. Those numbers should eventually translate to cash infusions in the City's Digital Inclusion Fund with a minimum of 5% of net pretax income. The fund has $100,000 left of the initial $500,000 from US Internet. The fund and the money are part of the Community Benefits Agreement in the contract. I'm on the Digital Inclusion Fund Committee and so far we have not heard when we will receive more money and we have postponed this years grant-making cycle.

We are still the muni-wi-fi poster child of the world. It's working here because the City of Minneapolis signed on as anchor tenant and is paying a hefty fee to support a network. However, unless the City starts to get its money's worth of services soon, we may have rethink this poster child status.

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Saturday, December 15, 2007
An incinerator by any other name...
Update: Excellent coverage of the meeting at TC Daily Planet (by Dan Gordon).

Update: MPR has a story. Published before the meeting took place last night. If you went to the meeting, please comment!

There is a burner/incinerator/biomass convertor coming to my neighborhood (really close anyway).
The City of Minneapolis has tentatively agreed to sell land at 2850 20th Avenue South -- the former location of the South Transfer Station -- to a private, for-profit enterprise that plans to build an incinerator to generate electrical power and steam heat.
Midtown Minneapolis Incinerator Information: Midtown Incinerator Information
Here is what Dan Cooke has to say about Biomass Convertors:
Burners are 19th Century technology. There is nothing particularly new or novel about a "biomass" burner -- it's still an incincerator and to the extent it burns materials that release toxins it will make us sick. The State of Delaware, in recognition of these problems, has enacted a statewide ban on incinerator construction within THREE MILES of any residence, church, hospital or school. If you live in the area bounded by Harriet and Calhoun, the airport, the St. Paul border and downtown Mpls, you are well-within this radius. Midtown EcoEnergy Project: Seward Neighbors Forum: E-Democracy.Org Forums
(Read the rest of Dan's post at the forum link where he mentions conflict of interest issues between CouncilMember Lisa Goodman and Michael Krause, a key figure at Kandiyohi, the group proposing the project.)

There is a public meeting hosted by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) on Dec. 13 at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 2730 E. 31st St., 6–8:30 p.m. MPCA will give information about and receive public comment on a draft air permit for Kandiyohi Development’s proposed Midtown Eco Energy MEE) project.

More info at Twin Cities Daily Planet

Official Midtown Eco Energy site

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Thursday, August 09, 2007
Music censor of the day: AT&T
Update: David Isenberg talks about AT&T and censorship.

AT&T says that it was simply a mistake that their content monitor cut a bit from Pearl Jam's performance of "Daughter" during the Lollapalooza webcast last Sunday. The fact that the lines discussed George Bush had nothing to do with it:
George Bush, leave this world alone.

George Bush find yourself another home.
In the world of Bush criticism, this is tame. No obscenities, for example. But AT&T, (in a fit of patriotism?) decided it was too much for the audience. And not even their audience. They are protecting all citizens that might want to listen to the webcast whether AT&T customers or not.

Read Pearl Jam's take on it.

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007
There's a spectrum auction around the bend and maybe we'll get lucky
The FCC will be auctioning off old TV spectrum in 2008 and they are hard at work today creating a set of rules for the auction. Past spectrum auctions are dominated by really big companies with lots of money (and lobbyists) and this auction will be no different except there's a new kid on the block named Google. And Google thinks the FCC should require openness:
  1. Open applications: consumers should be able to download and utilize any software applications, content, or services they desire;
  2. Open devices: consumers should be able to utilize a handheld communications device with whatever wireless network they prefer;
  3. Open services: third parties (resellers) should be able to acquire wireless services from a 700 MHz licensee on a wholesale basis, based on reasonably nondiscriminatory commercial terms; and
  4. Open networks: third parties (like internet service providers) should be able to interconnect at a technically feasible point in a 700 MHz licensee's wireless network.
Read the full post at the Google Policy Blog.

Yesterday the FCC voted to require 1 and 2. Sad not to have 3 which would have really opened up the spectrum but any openness is welcome. Of course, enforcement of the openness will be another issue.

Washington Post has a good article about the whole situation, Susan Crawford reports on the decision, and Paul Kapustka at GigaOm has a good summary of what happened yesterday.

Given that AT&T is happy about the decision (see the Kapustka link), it may be (as Susan Crawford feels) unenforceable.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Is MySpace safe now, Grandpa?
With the 29,000 sex offenders banished from MySpace, is it safe now? Well yes, just don't let the kids outside and avoid family gatherings.

Stephanie Booth at Climb to the Stars has a really good post that we should all read and then we can ignore the main-stream-media yowling inspired by US state attorney generals. (Thanks to danah boyd for pointing me there and read her stuff too.)

This issue intertwines with both net neutrality and digital inclusion. You can bet the fear of sex offenders will serve the purposes of the telco-cable incumbents who can then offer to protect us if we let them control the Net so they can ensure family-friendly content. And the internet-sex-fear mantra permeating the popular media space will strengthen parent's resolve to keep that Internet stuff out of the house cause it's too dangerous.

Yes, the Web poses danger to kids and they need to be responsible. But the research shows that they're at more risk off the Net than on.

I peed behind a tree in a park once. In some states that's enough to get me sex offender status. Will MySpace ask me to leave now?

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Twittering Senator Durbin
Twittering Senator Durbin's conversation at the OpenLeft blog. (But the real thing is more interesting.)

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Senator Durbin live blogs broadband policy
Tonight and the rest of the week, Illinois Senator Richard Durbin will be engaging in conversations at the OpenLeft blog about US broadband policy starting at 6 p.m. CST (that's tonight's time check the schedule for other nights). Check here for details and instructions on getting an account.

Here's a summary of each night's discussions:

Day 1, Tuesday July 24, will feature a live-blog with the Senator
where we'll be looking to lay out the big picture: how should we
think about broadband policy? How should we be looking at it
differently? What should the key principles for a national broadband
strategy be? It's a big-picture night and an opportunity for folks to
say what they're concerned about, as well as how they think the
Internet (and broadband overall) should operate in the future.

Day 2, Wednesday July 25, will focus on net neutrality and other 'how
the Web works' issues, but indeed, net neutrality will take center
stage. Organizers are hoping we find new frames, new insights, and
new directions for this debate.

Day 3, Thursday, July 26, is going to be about municipal
infrastructure with an emphasis on the use of the public airwaves to
provide broadband. We'll talk iPhone politics, spectrum auctions, and
discuss models for municipal broadband and their implications.

Day 4, Friday, July 27, is going to be more about practicalities in
regards to the provision of infrastructure itself: public/private
partnerships, projects like UTOPIA and Fiber for the Future, Connect
Kentucky, and USF/USDA reform.

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Saturday, July 14, 2007
Do you know where your Princess Phone is?
David Weinberger has written a lovely essay about liberating the Internet. (This is not a net neutrality piece although he does mention that.)

Main point:
Let's not watch the AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, and the rest of the incumbent gang upgrade our Internet to Cable TV 2.0 (with some slight variations).

Call your congressperson today and convince them "...that our economy, democracy and culture are too important to leave in the hands of companies that have demonstrated their willingness to lie to continue in their position of power. The Internet belongs to us as surely as the airwaves do."

Delamination Now! or How to keep the Internet from going
the way of the Princess Phone

Couple of quotes to whet your appetite...
Who could blame the incumbent carriers? They came into this with a business model that served them well for decades. And changing their business model isn't like changing their minds. Their business model is a vast technical infrastructure that cost of billions of dollars to build. It's an organizational structure that brings a comfortable living to tens of thousands of people ... and outrageous livings to a handful of senior executives. It's a political structure staffed by hundreds of lobbyists who have become bosom buddies with People of Influence. The business model is embodied in skyscrapers financed by its own profits.

Our democracy flourishes when all ideas can get an equal hearing. The carriers would rather double dip, charging you to connect to the Net, and charging the popular sites for connecting to their users. The result: Big, rich sites will pay to work better than those offering ideas and services out of the mainstream. Big voices will pay to sound better than our voices.
That last point about double dipping is the really insidious part of this business, at least in my opinion. Aunt Peggy up in Coleraine, Minnesota won't even know what's going on behind the curtain. The "Big, rich sites" will fill her screen really fast and the backwater sites (like mine) will be very slow in downloading. Where do you think she will spend her time, all other things being equal?

Bonus Links!

Susan Crawford blogs David's essay and adds some other links of note.

David Weinberger discusses his new book Everything is Miscellaneous with Phil Windley on Technometria.

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Friday, July 13, 2007
Internet radio won't be here Monday
Update. Long live Internet radio.

In what could be seen as one of the first major shifts towards corporatizing the Internet, the Copyright Royalty Board will begin imposing onerous fees on Internet radio stations beginning Sunday.

Shaken Internet Radio Stations Face Specter of New Fees Sunday -

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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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Sunday, April 22, 2007
McCain singing Beachboys
So Senator McCain sang a slightly modified version of Barbara Ann ("Bomb Iran") by the Beachboys and is going to pull it out of context and start an ad campaign. See the video here.

The Internet gives us the remarkable opportunity to follow politicians and report on every butt scratching behavior. I do believe we need to be vigilant of racist and sexist statements but we've got to allow some leeway for humor and jokes, even some that could be judged bad taste.

Read Dave Weinberger's take on this at Huffington

I'm getting political again. Must be something in the air.

via Dave Winer.

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Friday, April 06, 2007
Josh Breitbart's keys to healthy process
Joshua Breitbart has posted his testimony to the New York City Broadband Advisory Committee. He lists some keys to a healthy process for city's seeking a broadband solution:
Actually, use this recipe for any type of policy initiative. Stir well and let simmer until you don't need the particular policy any longer.

So far here in Minneapolis, we don't rate highly in relation to these points. The process has been relatively closed.

via wrythings.

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Sunday, March 25, 2007
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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Thursday, March 22, 2007
Hillary 1984
Internet Campaign 2008:  User-generated campaign mashup videos.

Huffington Post reveals creator.

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