Planet Foo

December 19, 2009

Geoff Huston

A Tale of Two Protocols: IPv4, IPv6, MTUs and Fragmentation

I have seen a number of commentaries and presentations in recent times that claim that IPv6 is identical to IPv4 in every respect except one: namely more addresses. But there is one more rather critical difference, and that is the deliberate change in the IPv6 with respect to MTU handling and packet fragmentation, and this relatively minor change in IPv6 has some really quite critical implications. In this article I'd like to illustrate some of the implications of this change with respect to the IPv6 treatment of packet fragmentation by taking an in-depth look at the IPv6 packet flows and why and how this change to packet fragmentation management can cause service-level disruption.

December 19, 2009 08:25 PM

April 06, 2009


2009-04-06: Sinfest

Tatsuya Ishida

by Tatsuya Ishida

by by me at April 06, 2009 10:00 PM

Jeremy Zawodny Link Blog

Commodore 64 Hardware Laptop

Commodore 64 Hardware Laptop: that is awesome on several levels!

April 06, 2009 09:00 PM


UK OFCOM - Regulation of VoIP Services

&lt;p&gt;I have to apologize, this is a bit late, but I was on vacation. UK Ofcom released on 29 March 2007 the &lt;a href=""&gt;Regulation of VoIP Services &lt;/a&gt;(Statement and publication of statutory notifications under section 48(1) of the Communications Act 2003 modifying General Conditions 14 and 18). A summary can be retrieved from &lt;a href=""&gt;Ofcoms webpage&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;The ruling lays out a code of conduct with which VoIP providers must adhere. It does not take immediate steps to require emergency service (999) access. Instead, Ofcom plans to take another look at this area later this year and consult on whether, and how, emergency services calls access might be made a mandatory requirement in the VoIP world.&lt;/p&gt;&lt;p&gt;In addressing those objectives, Ofcom made the following two main regulatory proposals in its 2006 consultation:&lt;/p&gt;&lt;ul&gt;&lt;li&gt;to modify General Condition(-3-) 14 (“GC 14”) requiring providers of Public Electronic Communication Services (to the extent it comprises the conveyance of speech, music or sounds) to comply with a code of practice (i.e. the Code on the provision by Service Providers of consumer information to Domestic and Small Business Customers for the provision of Services (“the Code”); and&lt;/li&gt;&lt;li&gt;to modify the definition of a ‘Publicly Available Telephone Service’ (“PATS”) for the purposes of General Condition 18 (“GC 18”) so that only services available to the public for originating and receiving national and international calls and access to emergency services through a normal telephone number have the right to number portability under GC 18, with the only exception of Public Electronic Communications Services for only receiving calls.&lt;/li&gt;&lt;/ul&gt;&lt;p&gt;&lt;em&gt;Remark: The last bullet is Ofcom's trick to get out of the circular definition of PATS by declaring number portability a right and not an obligation ;-) IMO, since number portability is a no-brainer with VoIP and ENUM, this should not be linked. &lt;/em&gt;&lt;/p&gt;&lt;p&gt;In addition, the 2006 consultation set out a number of additional measures that are relevant to the application of the General Conditions of Entitlement (“GCs”) to providers of VoIP services, including:&lt;/p&gt;&lt;ul&gt;&lt;li&gt;the discontinuance of Ofcom’s interim forbearance policy as set out in the 2004 consultation. This policy meant that Ofcom would forbear from enforcing obligations in the GCs applying to providers of PATS, so as to reduce any potential disincentive for VoIP providers offering access to emergency services to their customers;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/li&gt;&lt;li&gt;the withdrawal of the Essential Requirement Guidelines (and instead applying the ‘reasonably practicable’ test set out in General Condition 3 (“GC 3”) on a case-by-case basis); and&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/li&gt;&lt;li&gt;the publication of draft guidance on the application of PATS obligations in the GCs to VoIP service providers to ensure that they meet their obligations. &lt;/li&gt;&lt;/ul&gt;&lt;p&gt;The framework also explains Ofcom's current thinking on other VoIP related issues including naked DSL, net neutrality, approach to regulation of nomadic services and the European Framework Review.&lt;/p&gt;&lt;p&gt;Specifically, the new code of practice requires VoIP providers to make clear:&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;- whether or not the service includes access to emergency services;&lt;br /&gt;- the extent to which the service depends on the user's home power supply;&lt;br /&gt;- whether directory assistance, directory listings, access to the operator or the itemization of calls are available; and&lt;br /&gt;- whether consumers will be able to keep their telephone number if they choose to switch providers at a later date. &lt;/p&gt;&lt;p&gt;&lt;em&gt;Remark: This is ok, I just wonder if the second bullet is now also required for mobile phones.&lt;/em&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;If consumers choose to take up a service that does not offer access to emergency services or which depends on an external power supply, the code also requires VoIP providers to:&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;- secure the customer's positive acknowledgement of this at point of sale (by checking a box, for example);&lt;br /&gt;- label the capability of the service, either in the form of a physical label for equipment or via information on the computer screen; and&lt;br /&gt;- play an announcement each time a call to emergency services is attempted, reminding the caller that access is unavailable.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Recognizing that VoIP services have the potential to offer significant new benefits to consumers, including more competition and choice, lower prices and new services such as second lines and nomadic services, my first read suggests to me that Ofcom tried to strike a workable balance between promoting innovation and protecting traditional social goods. &lt;/p&gt;&lt;p&gt;&lt;em&gt;By and large, I prefer Ofcoms's approach to VoIP to what I have seen in many other countries.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/em&gt;&lt;/p&gt;</content>

by Richard at April 06, 2009 08:04 PM

Five Busy Weeks

The last 5 weeks have been very busy.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;It started with an ETSI TISPAN WG4 meeting in Darmstadt 27. February to 2. March. WG4 is dealing with Numbering/Naming and Address Resolution in NGN.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;This was followed by the &lt;a href=";SearchResult=http%3a%2f%2fw&lt;/a"&gt;"IIR ENUM Conference in London&lt;/a&gt;, UK on 6.-7. March.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;The speakers where the ususal suspects: Tony Holmes, Ronan Lupton, Kim Fullbrook, Penn Pfautz, Andy Reid, Richard Shockey, Paul Rosbotham, John Wilkinson, Robert Schischka, Karen Mulberry, Martin Hoffman, Gary Richenaker and myself.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;The presentation from Paul Rosbotham (C&amp;W) was very interesting, because he explained the future ideas in UK about Number Portability. Here it fits that Andy Reid (BT) said in his presentation one should look forwards and not backwards. I hope that this proposal on NP is not the last word. My presentation can be found &lt;a href=""&gt;here&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;The next week I was in Budapest speaking at the &lt;a href=""&gt;VIB Conference Global VoIP Strategies&lt;/a&gt;, 13.-14 March. I was speaking about VoIP Interconnection and my presentation is &lt;a href=""&gt;here&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;From 19.-23. March, I was in Prague at the IETF#68.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;The ENUM WG is nearing its end and will be closing down soon. The Infrastructure ENUM drafts are ready and may be sent over to ITU-T with a liaison statement, so god and the IESG will. What is required still is a method to create Enumservices without WG involvement.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;SPEERMINT is working on use-cases for VoIP and IM. Afterwards the WG will create requirements and then maybe an interconnect architecture.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;From 26.-30. March I was again at ETSI TISPAN 13bis, this time in Sophia Antipolis. The meeting produced again over 500 temporary documents.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;WG4 is slowly sorting out their documents, creating an umbrella document on Numbering/naming Address Resolution (NAR), pointing to the three main functions (each contained in a separate detailed document):&lt;br /&gt;&lt;p&gt;-processing of dialled digits to target names (major problem: handling of non-E.164 numbers)&lt;br /&gt;-target name to address translation (e.g. ENUM, LoST, ..)&lt;br /&gt;-route determination (finding a route from a SIP-URI) &lt;/p&gt;&lt;p&gt;TISPAN is slowly discovering that they need some kind of NNI and some means to interconnect.&lt;/p&gt;&lt;p&gt;Now I am finally enjoying my easter vacation ;-)&lt;/p&gt;</content>

by Richard at April 06, 2009 08:04 PM

Americans are NOT stupid

See &lt;a href=""&gt;here&lt;/a&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;No comment.</content>

by Richard at April 06, 2009 08:04 PM

One week of vacation: sailing in Greece

After the &lt;a href=""&gt;conference in Berlin &lt;/a&gt;I spent a week sailing in the Cyclades in Greece. I was invited by Rupert Nagler, member of the management board of &lt;a href=""&gt;IPA&lt;/a&gt; (the owner of &lt;a href=""&gt;;/a&gt;) to join him for one week on his boat &lt;a href=""&gt;Sea of Joy&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;We arrived on Saturday, the 9th of June in Athens, the boat was moored in Marina Zea. On Sunday we left for Kithnos. Our trip continued to Syros, Myconos, Kea, Poros and ended on Friday in Marina Zea again. This was really a very nice and relaxing week.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;a onblur="try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}" href=""&gt;&lt;img style="margin: 0px auto 10px; display: block; text-align: center; cursor: pointer;" src="" alt="" id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5083244738993194450" border="0" /&gt;&lt;/a&gt;&lt;br /&gt;The Sea of Joy in Syros.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;The route we sailed can be &lt;a href=""&gt;downloaded&lt;/a&gt; for Google Earth.</content>

by Richard at April 06, 2009 08:04 PM

+353 Irish ENUM Registry opens today

Some things may take a while, some may take even longer. At March 22, 2006 (14 month ago) I posted: &lt;a href=""&gt;Irish-Austrian Consortium Provides ENUM Services in Ireland&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;span style="font-style: italic;"&gt;The Irish Commision for Communication Regulation (&lt;/span&gt;&lt;a style="font-style: italic;" href=""&gt;ComReg&lt;/a&gt;&lt;span style="font-style: italic;"&gt;) announced today &lt;/span&gt;&lt;a style="font-style: italic;" href=";nid=102304"&gt;officially&lt;/a&gt;&lt;span style="font-style: italic;"&gt; that an &lt;/span&gt;&lt;strong style="font-style: italic;"&gt;Irish-Austrian Consortium wins competition for the provision of ENUM services in Ireland&lt;/strong&gt;&lt;span style="font-style: italic;"&gt;.&lt;/span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;December 19, 2006 &lt;a href=""&gt;I wondered&lt;/a&gt; what was going on and see, instantly they re-acted and immediately afterwards ENUM went into commercial service in Ireland:&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;a href=""&gt;IENUM&lt;/a&gt;, the Irish ENUM Registry opened service today. Some snippets from &lt;a href=""&gt;the news:&lt;/a&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;I&lt;span style="font-style: italic;"&gt;ENUM Limited, a 70% subsidiary of the IE Domain Registry (IEDR), today announced the availability of user ENUM (Electronic Numbering) services for telephone number holders in Ireland.&lt;/span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;span style="font-style: italic;"&gt;Ireland is now the seventh country to announce the availability of ENUM services. IENUM Limited was selected as the Tier 1 ENUM registry following the first international commercial tender process. The IEDR's partner in the IENUM consortium is Internet Privatstiftung Austria (IPA), the Austrian organisation which operates the .at domain name and provided the first commercial ENUM registry service in the world.&lt;/span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;span style="font-style: italic;"&gt;ENUM domains can now be registered at &lt;/span&gt;&lt;a style="font-style: italic;" href=""&gt;;/a&gt;&lt;span style="font-style: italic;"&gt; for Geographic telephone numbers (eg 01 or 045 etc), Mobile phone numbers, '076' Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) numbers, and '0700' Personal Number Service numbers. The cost of an ENUM domain is 1 euro per month plus a validation fee, currently 25 euro payable on first registration, and 5 euro on revalidation.&lt;/span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;.....&lt;br /&gt;&lt;p style="font-style: italic;"&gt;ComReg's Chairperson, Mike Byrne, said: ComReg is encouraged to see the emergence of ENUM as a full commercial service in Ireland today. ENUM has the potential to be a key enabler of advanced IP-based services. ComReg has been to the fore in encouraging the development of ENUM in Ireland and we are pleased to welcome the opening of IENUM's service which we see as an innovative and potentially valuable new communications facility for Irish consumers.&lt;/p&gt;BTW, next week I will be chairing the &lt;a href=""&gt;ENUM and VoIP Peering Forum 2007&lt;/a&gt; in Berlin, and Mike Byrne will speak about ENUM from a Regulators Perspective. The two day conference will feature also other very interesting speakers:&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Carsten Schiefner (DT, RIPE and Denic), Andrzej Bartosiewicz (NASK), John Horrocks (ETSI), Kim Fullbrook (O2 UK, GSMA), Robert Schischka (, Thomas de Haan (Ministry of Economic Affairs, NL), Chan-Ki Park (NIDA, Korea), Rodrigue Ullens (Voxbone), Xavier Casajoana (VozTelecom), Wilhelm Wimmreuter, Pieter Nooren (TNO, NL), Tony Holmes (BT, ENUM UK, ETSI), Ondrej Filip (CZ.NIC) and last, but not least Richard Shockey (Neustar, IETF ENUM).&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;On Monday afternoon, Adrian Georgescu (AG Projects) will lead a half-day interactive workshop on sucessfull business model for ENUM.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;p&gt;My presentation can be retrieved from &lt;a href=""&gt;here&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/p&gt;</content>

by Richard at April 06, 2009 08:04 PM

IMS R4? - When is an IMS not an IMS?

Mobile Operators are currently implementing 3GPP Release 4 - some vendors call this also IMS Release 4. Interestingly IMS was introduced in 3GPP in Release 5 and improved in R6 and now in R7, which will be frozen in June 2007. ETSI TISPAN has finished R1 last year and is currently working on R2. Since they now will merge with 3GPP, R2 may never be finished as such and the first complete IMS will be 3GPP R8 frozen somewhere in 2009 and deployed in 2011. This will approx. also be the time when IMS mobile handsets finally will be widely available.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;So what may happen? Some service providers will implement SIP servers and their customers will live happy with them and the available user equipment for the next 4 years.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Others will implement expensive "IMS" R4 (softswitches), spend much money again to upgrade to R5, R6, R7 and R8. Since no mobile equipment is available, this will mostly be fixed line operators doing PSTN replacement - i.e. investing into a shrinking market.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;More about IMS R4 see Brough Turner &lt;a href=""&gt;"Lessons learned implementing IMS"&lt;/a&gt; (short) and the full story &lt;a href=""&gt;here&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;His takeaway:&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;strong&gt;&lt;em&gt;Operators await 3GPP Release 7. At least anecdotally, several operators have suggested that 3GPP Release 7 is the first complete, stable, and consistent version they will fully deploy&lt;/em&gt;.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/strong&gt;&lt;br /&gt;He is not saying what operators - I assume he means mobile operators (talking about R7).&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Some fixed operators are not waiting - they are planning to deploy the incomplete ETSI TISPAN R1.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;strong&gt;One could believe the whole IMS idea is a plot by the mobile operators to kill the wireline operators completely&lt;/strong&gt;.</content>

by Richard at April 06, 2009 08:04 PM

PEI (Pigeon Enabled Internet) is FASTER then ADSL

From &lt;a href=""&gt;Ami Ben-Bassat's Blog&lt;/a&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;This is a bit old, but still good&lt;br /&gt;&lt;span style="font-weight: bold;"&gt;&lt;br /&gt;A New Israeli test confirms: PEI (Pigeon Enabled Internet) is FASTER then ADSL&lt;/span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;"Never underestimate a pigeon carrying a memory card, hovering above your head, ready to download"-yossi vardi&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Will B2P (Back to Pigeons) save an &lt;a href=""&gt;endangered&lt;/a&gt; technology? On Friday, March 12, 2004, a group of several dozen Internet addicts from Israel and abroad, gathered in the large grass field of the &lt;a href=""&gt;OHALO&lt;/a&gt; Center near the Sea of Galilee. The purpose of the gathering was to try and improve Wi-Fly - pigeon-empowered wireless internet and to confront this technology against ADSL. The participants sent 3 homing pigeons to 100 km distance, each carrying 20-22 tiny memory cards containing 1.3 GB, amounting in total of 4 GB of data.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;the full story &lt;a href=""&gt;is here&lt;/a&gt;.</content>

by Richard at April 06, 2009 08:04 PM

Apple iPhone Day

Today is the day Apple iPhone launches. &lt;a href=""&gt;Thousands queue up to buy&lt;/a&gt;. Ok, if you have enough market power, this is how you launch new products - be it the new Harry Potter or a gadget. You simply need the 5% idiots who want everything immediately and for any price to finance the remaining 95%.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;The Apple iPhone is really looking nice, but will it succeed?&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Michael Robertson from &lt;a href=""&gt;Gizmo&lt;/a&gt; and &lt;a href=""&gt;Sipphone&lt;/a&gt; has an interesting comparison of the 1-button Apple iPhone and the 51-button Nokia E61: &lt;a href=""&gt;Battle of the Buttons&lt;/a&gt;. Since I also have a Nokia E61, this is very interesting for me.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;In most points the E61 is better, and I agree what he is saying about the major flaw of the E61: configuring and accessing a WiFi-hotspot is a pain ... but if you have done it, it is fine.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;And I also fully agree with his conclusion:&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;span style="font-size:130%;"&gt;&lt;span style="font-weight: bold; font-style: italic;"&gt;"...If your software needs are exactly what Steve Jobs and AT&amp;T dictate and if you don't mind AT&amp;amp;T's hand in your wallet, then fine."&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;span style="font-size:100%;"&gt;We will see how this works in Europe.&lt;/span&gt;&lt;span style="font-weight: bold; font-style: italic;"&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/span&gt;</content>

by Richard at April 06, 2009 08:04 PM

Wedding of Kathi on 20.07.2007

I proudly announce that on Friday, the 20. 07. 2007 my oldest daughter Katharina married Mario Reitl in Hietzing, Vienna, Austria.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;a onblur="try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}" href=""&gt;&lt;img style="margin: 0px auto 10px; display: block; text-align: center; cursor: pointer;" src="" alt="" id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5091524731426057250" border="0" /&gt;&lt;/a&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Next day, on Saturday, the church wedding took place in Hausleiten, Lower Austria&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;a onblur="try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}" href=""&gt;&lt;img style="margin: 0px auto 10px; display: block; text-align: center; cursor: pointer;" src="" alt="" id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5091525255412067378" border="0" /&gt;&lt;/a&gt;&lt;br /&gt;The new and happy couple after the wedding.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;a onblur="try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}" href=""&gt;&lt;img style="margin: 0px auto 10px; display: block; text-align: center; cursor: pointer;" src="" alt="" id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5091525594714483778" border="0" /&gt;&lt;/a&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Congratulations.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;More pictures can be seen at &lt;a href=""&gt;Slide.&lt;/a&gt;</content>

by Richard at April 06, 2009 08:04 PM

Sigbritt, 75, has world's fastest broadband

From &lt;a href=""&gt;The Local&lt;/a&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;A 75 year old woman from &lt;a href="" class="nodec"&gt;Karlstad&lt;/a&gt; in central Sweden has been thrust into the IT history books - with the world's fastest internet connection.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Sigbritt Löthberg's home has been supplied with a &lt;span style="font-weight: bold;"&gt;blistering 40 Gigabits per second&lt;/span&gt; connection, many thousands of times faster than the average residential link and the first time ever that a home user has experienced such a high speed.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;But Sigbritt, who had never had a computer until now, is no ordinary 75 year old. She is the mother of Swedish internet legend Peter Löthberg who, along with Karlstad Stadsnät, the local council's network arm, has arranged the connection.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;"This is more than just a demonstration," said network boss Hafsteinn Jonsson.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;"As a network owner we're trying to persuade internet operators to invest in faster connections. And Peter Löthberg wanted to show how you can build a low price, high capacity line over long distances," he told The Local.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Sigbritt will now be able to enjoy 1,500 high definition HDTV channels simultaneously. Or, if there is nothing worth watching there, she will be able to download a full high definition DVD in just two seconds.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;The secret behind Sigbritt's ultra-fast connection is a new modulation technique which allows data to be transferred directly between two routers up to 2,000 kilometres apart, with no intermediary transponders.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;According to Karlstad Stadsnät the distance is, in theory, unlimited - there is no data loss as long as the fibre is in place.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;"I want to show that there are other methods than the old fashioned ways such as copper wires and radio, which lack the possibilities that fibre has," said Peter Löthberg, who now works at Cisco.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Cisco contributed to the project but the point, said Hafsteinn Jonsson, is that fibre technology makes such high speed connections technically and commercially viable.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;span style="font-weight: bold;"&gt; "The most difficult part of the whole project was installing Windows on Sigbritt's PC," said Jonsson.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;span style="font-style: italic;"&gt;What I always say - FTTH is the ultimate solution &lt;/span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;span style="font-style: italic;"&gt;(as a first step I dropped Windows and moved to MAC OS X)&lt;/span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;span style="font-style: italic;"&gt;and maybe I also get this speed when I am 75.&lt;/span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;span style="font-weight: bold;"&gt;&lt;/span&gt;</content>

by Richard at April 06, 2009 08:04 PM

Skype goes Mobile

&lt;a href=""&gt;BusinessWeek &lt;/a&gt;had an article yesterday about &lt;a href=""&gt;Skype Goes Mobile&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;There is strangely no mention of WiFi, but 3 has a spare 3G network lying around. So what we have now is the iPhone with no 3G, the mysterious &lt;a href=""&gt;gPhone &lt;/a&gt;and now the "White Phone" with iSkoot, (and maybe 3GPP IMS VoIP in 3 years).&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;span style="font-style: italic; font-weight: bold;"&gt;Skype's new cell phone will deliver mobile access to its service. The beleaguered carrier hopes to jump-start revenues overseas&lt;/span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;span style="font-style: italic;"&gt;by Bruce Meyerson &lt;/span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;span style="font-style: italic;"&gt;Bit by bit, big names in the computing world are barging into the cell-phone business. First came Apple's game-changing iPhone. Next came word that Google is creating its own software platform for a new breed of cell phones. Now Skype, which popularized free and cheap phone calls over the Internet, is set to launch a customized cell phone developed jointly with 3 Mobile, a wireless carrier in Europe, Asia, and Australia. &lt;/span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;span style="font-style: italic; font-weight: bold;"&gt;Code-named the "white phone," the Skype handset will be introduced by late October in Britain, Italy, Hong Kong, and Australia, and will reach 3's other five markets later, BusinessWeek has learned. There are no immediate plans to bring the device to North America, though the companies may try to license it to other carriers or sell versions straight to consumers for them to use on other networks. &lt;/span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;span style="font-style: italic;"&gt;Connecting with Skype Buddies&lt;/span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;span style="font-style: italic;"&gt;What may be most striking about the device is that it's being pushed by a mobile carrier at a time when most of the wireless industry is anxiously fighting to preserve its business model against a siege of new technologies and players. The major wireless carriers are fearful of upstart technologies that are slashing once-robust revenue streams from traditional home and office telephones, so they've made it impossible to use Internet phone services on most of their phones. &lt;/span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;span style="font-style: italic;"&gt;Indeed, Vonage (VG) and other providers of VoIP technology will have signed up more than 15 million U.S. homes and businesses by yearend, generating nearly $5 billion of revenue for 2007, says research firm TeleGeography. But on cell phones, VoIP is hard to find. "There are a lot of reasons why mobile VoIP has not yet taken off—and they differ by region," says Stephan Beckert, a TeleGeography analyst. "In the U.S., a key reason is that mobile operators are deliberately trying to keep their customers from being able to use it." &lt;/span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;span style="font-style: italic;"&gt;&lt;span style="font-weight: bold;"&gt;The Skype cell phone, developed with a software outfit named iSkoot, is equipped with multimedia capabilities and high-speed data for mobile Web browsing.&lt;/span&gt; But its most prominent feature is a big button right above the regular keypad to activate Skype's popular service for long-distance and international calls. A press on that button triggers an iSkoot-developed application that brings up a list of a user's Skype "buddies" and regular phone contacts. A click on any entry in that list dials the call. &lt;/span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;S&lt;span style="font-style: italic;"&gt;kype's Challenge: Turning Appeal into Profits&lt;/span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;span style="font-style: italic;"&gt;Skype is betting that easy mobile access to its service could spur more overseas call traffic, a revenue-producing business where growth has slumped sharply. Though Skype boasts 246 million accounts, only about one-quarter to one-third of those customers are thought to be regular users, and the vast majority of their calls are free. &lt;span style="font-weight: bold;"&gt;Skype has struggled to turn its popularity into profits since it was acquired two years ago by eBay, which recently acknowledged it overpaid by $1.4 billion for the business (BusinessWeek, 10/1/07). &lt;/span&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;span style="font-style: italic; font-weight: bold;"&gt;Calls on the Skype cell phone will cost the same as on a computer or Skype cordless phone: free when speaking to other Skype users, pennies per minute when users dial regular phone numbers in most countries. 3 Mobile, owned by Hong Kong's Hutchison Whampoa (HUWHY) , won't charge extra to use the Skype feature. But customers will need to spend a certain amount per month for other services, such as regular mobile calls, ringtones, or text messaging. &lt;/span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;span style="font-style: italic;"&gt;A cheap international connection could prove to be a potent draw for wireless users. Currently, few mobile phone subscribers are willing to pay the quarters and dollars per minute charged by cellular companies for international calls. That means 3 Mobile is putting little international revenue at risk by moving to the Skype model. Another intriguing twist: Since eBay owns the online payment service PayPal, success with the Skype phone could provide a springboard for using a cell phone or other handheld device to pay for items, as if it's a charge or debit card. That's been an elusive goal for the wireless industry except in a handful of countries such as Japan and Korea. &lt;/span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;span style="font-style: italic;"&gt;A Tough Sell with Carriers&lt;/span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;span style="font-style: italic;"&gt;But even if it widens the path being carved by Apple and Google, the Skype phone is really more of a back-to-basics concept. The iPhone adds sleek Web browsing and the simplicity of an iPod music player to a phone. The gPhone (BusinessWeek, 9/13/07) seeks to bring Google's expertise, finding information and showing related ads, to a mobile handset. By contrast, the Skype phone is first and foremost about plain old phone calls. &lt;/span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;span style="font-style: italic;"&gt;Whatever the nature of these new services and phones, Apple, Skype, and even handset makers like Nokia (NOK) have found that it's difficult to get them into consumers' hands without the aid of mobile carriers—and their cooperation is rare. In the case of Internet calling, the industry's uneasiness has been especially palpable. &lt;/span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;span style="font-style: italic;"&gt;&lt;span style="font-weight: bold;"&gt;Mobile carriers such as AT&amp;amp;T specifically prohibit VoIP on their phones in their terms of service.&lt;/span&gt; Verizon and Sprint Nextel have battered Vonage with patent infringement suits (BusinessWeek, 9/27/07) that may have as much to do with nudging the Internet phone company toward bankruptcy as protecting their intellectual property. And earlier this year, one of the top U.S. cellular companies put a last-minute kibosh on a plan by iSkoot to announce that its Skype application worked on some of that carrier's handsets. The carrier told iSkoot it was still determining its policy toward not only Skype, but VoIP in general. &lt;/span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;span style="font-style: italic;"&gt;The arrival of the Skype phone is but the latest sign of evolution in wireless, and counter measures by the cellular carriers a ready reminder that there won't be a revolution any time soon. &lt;/span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;span style="font-style: italic;"&gt;Meyerson is Deputy Technology Editor for &lt;/span&gt;</content>

by Richard at April 06, 2009 08:04 PM

Vacation in Canada

As I already mentioned in my last post, I visited the IETF in Chicago in July. In the meantime, my wife, Michael, Raffael and Julia flew over to Canada and visited Quebec. The newly wed couple did their honeymoon on the Bahamas. I joined them after the IETF in Ottawa. Mario and Katharina also came to Ottawa after they stay in the Bahamas.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;With our Canadian friends we did a canoeing trip in Algonquin Park and Barron Canyon. We stayed another week in Ottawa to join the wedding of Emil and Meghan.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;The picture albums of Kathi's wedding and our time in Canada is available at my &lt;a href=""&gt;Web Gallery&lt;/a&gt;.</content>

by Richard at April 06, 2009 08:04 PM

AT&T Video Share

After the &lt;a href=""&gt;wedding&lt;/a&gt; of my daughter last Saturday our family dispersed all over the world. The young couple flew on Monday to the Bahamas for honeymoon, the rest of the family on Wednesday to Montreal, and I travelled already on Sunday to Chicago to participate at the &lt;a href=""&gt;IETF#69&lt;/a&gt;. The idea is that we all will re-unite in Ottawa, ON on Sunday.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;In the Palmer Hilton I get USA Today delivered each morning and today I found an interesting article: "Phones let you reach out and show someone - New AT&amp;T Video Share devices send live video".&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;My first thought was that AT&amp;amp;T finally invented video telephony, or re-invented it, because video-telephony was demonstrated first by Herbert Eugene Ives in New York 1930, the first commercial service was between Berlin and Leipzig 1936, and then re-invented by AT&amp;T as Picturephone in the early 1960.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;But at a second glimpse it is more Push to Video. During a voice conversation you may add a one-way video stream to show the other side where you are - provided you have 3G UMTS/HSPDA coverage (EDGE does not work), and both parties have a special phone (Samsung 717, 727 or a LG CU500).&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;The bottom line in USA Today:&lt;br /&gt;&lt;a href=""&gt;AT&amp;amp;T Video Share&lt;/a&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Requires Video share phone and 3G network access: monthly plans start at $5 for 25 minutes&lt;br /&gt;Pro: Lets you view live video stream over your cell phone while continuing a voice conversation. Simple operation.&lt;br /&gt;Con: One-way video. Video quality is mediocre and sound is poor. Expensive service.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;I want to add an additional Con: the problem is still unsolved what you do if you call your wife, and tell her you are still busy in a late meeting and she wants you to turn your video on.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;BTW: I have since four years a 3G videophone (both ways), tried it out once and never used it again.</content>

by Richard at April 06, 2009 08:04 PM

Tim Wu: Yes, Google is trying to take over the world

&lt;a href=""&gt;&lt;span style="font-weight: bold;"&gt;Yes, Google is trying to take over the world&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/a&gt;&lt;br /&gt;NEXT STEP: TAKE OUT MA BELL&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;By Tim Wu&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Excellent post, I have nothing to add</content>

by Richard at April 06, 2009 08:04 PM

The Day the Routers Died ...

&lt;a href=""&gt;The Day the Routers Died ...&lt;/a&gt; from the RIPE NCC #55 Meeting.</content>

by Richard at April 06, 2009 08:04 PM

Nominet awarded the contract to run UK ENUM +44

T&lt;a href=""&gt;he Tier 1 registry for UK ENUM was awarded to Nominet &lt;/a&gt;by the UK ENUM Consortium (UKEC), a limited company set up with the recognition of the BERR (formerly the DTI) to administer the UK ENUM top level domain.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;As I can remember UK was the first country to get an ITU-T approved ENUM delegation for a trial (May 16th, 2002). It is really interesting what one can trial for more then 5 years.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Anyway, congratulations.</content>

by Richard at April 06, 2009 08:04 PM

A Bargain - iPhone for $1477

&lt;span style="font-size:130%;"&gt;&lt;a href=""&gt;&lt;span style="font-weight: bold;"&gt;T-Mobile Offers iPhone Without Contract&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/a&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Associated Press 11.21.07, 7:18 AM ET&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;span style="font-style: italic;"&gt;BERLIN - Deutsche Telekom AG's mobile unit said Wednesday it would offer Apple Inc.'s iPhone without a contract to comply with a court injunction issued after a competitor challenged its exclusive lock on the handset.&lt;/span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;span style="font-style: italic;"&gt;T-Mobile will start selling the phone for 999 euros ($1,477) immediately as well as continuing to offer it for the discounted 399 euros ($590) in combination with a two-year contract, the company said in a press release.&lt;/span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Who would buy this except some idiots?&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Interestingly this offer is valid only for a limited time - is it getting cheaper afterwards or even more expensive?&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/span&gt;</content>

by Richard at April 06, 2009 08:04 PM

Weihnachten 2007

&lt;a onblur="try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}" href=""&gt;&lt;img style="margin: 0pt 10px 10px 0pt; float: left; cursor: pointer;" src="" alt="" id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5147637706102891762" border="0" /&gt;&lt;/a&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;span style="font-weight: bold;"&gt;A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year&lt;/span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;the Stastny Family</content>

by Richard at April 06, 2009 08:04 PM

Verizon Wireless opens its network

&lt;span class="primaryHeadline"&gt;In a press release today - &lt;a href=""&gt;Verizon Wireless To Introduce ‘Any Apps, Any Device’ Option For Customers In 2008&lt;/a&gt; - Verizon promises to open up its network, saying that the &lt;!-- END NEWS RELEASE TITLE --&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;span style="font-style: italic;"&gt;New Open Development Initiative Will Accelerate Innovation and Growth.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;strong style="font-style: italic;"&gt;"BASKING RIDGE, NJ&lt;/strong&gt;&lt;span style="font-style: italic;"&gt; — Verizon Wireless today announced that it will provide customers the option to use, on its nationwide wireless network, wireless devices, software and applications &lt;span style="font-weight: bold;"&gt;not offered by the company.&lt;/span&gt; Verizon Wireless plans to have this new choice available to customers throughout the country by the end of 2008.&lt;/span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;span style="font-style: italic;"&gt;In early 2008, the company will publish the technical standards the development community will need to design products to interface with the Verizon Wireless network. Any device that meets the minimum technical standard will be activated on the network. Devices will be tested and &lt;span style="font-weight: bold;"&gt;approved&lt;/span&gt; &lt;/span&gt;(aha)&lt;span style="font-style: italic;"&gt; in a $20 million state-of-the-art testing lab which received an additional investment this year to gear up for the anticipated new demand. &lt;span style="font-weight: bold;"&gt;Any application the customer chooses will be allowed on these devices.&lt;/span&gt; &lt;/span&gt;&lt;p style="font-style: italic;"&gt;This new option goes beyond just a change in the design, delivery, purchase, and provisioning of wireless devices and applications. &lt;/p&gt;&lt;p style="font-style: italic;"&gt;“This is a transformation point in the 20-year history of mass market wireless devices – one which we believe will set the table for the next level of innovation and growth,” said Lowell McAdam, Verizon Wireless president and chief executive officer. “Verizon Wireless is not changing our successful retail model, but rather&lt;span style="font-weight: bold;"&gt; adding an additional retail option &lt;/span&gt;for customers looking for a different wireless experience.” &lt;/p&gt;&lt;p style="font-style: italic;"&gt;Verizon Wireless will continue to provide a full-service offering, from retail stores where customers can shop, to 24/7 customer service and technical support, to an easy-to-use handset interface and optimized software applications. &lt;/p&gt;&lt;p style="font-style: italic;"&gt;While most Verizon Wireless customers prefer the convenience of full service, the company is listening through today’s announcement to a small but growing number of customers who want another choice without full service. &lt;/p&gt;&lt;p style="font-style: italic;"&gt;&lt;span style="font-weight: bold;"&gt;Both full-service and “bring-your-own” customers will have the advantage of using America’s most reliable network.&lt;/span&gt; &lt;/p&gt;&lt;p style="font-style: italic;"&gt;Following publication of technical standards, Verizon Wireless will host a conference &lt;span style="font-weight: bold;"&gt;to explain the standards&lt;/span&gt; and get input from the development community on how to achieve the company’s goals for network performance while making it easy for them to deliver devices." &lt;/p&gt;The highlighted parts are added by me.&lt;br /&gt;This an interesting move on Verizons part. What could be the reasons. Fred Goldstein sees three things behind it:&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;1&lt;span style="font-style: italic;"&gt;) They have spent the past seven years trying to whittle down the number of competitors to the point where they could maintain strong cartel control. The magic number is probably "three". Powell and Martin failed to deliver -- T-Mobile didn't roll over dead, and upstarts like Metro and Leap kept showing up. T-Mobile is taking a more open position in the US and Sprint's moving that way too. ATT Mobile has the iPhone for a short-term halo effect. So Verizon recognized the way the wind was blowing.&lt;/span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;span style="font-style: italic;"&gt;2) Bring-your-own phones cost them $0 in subsidies, a lot less than they pay when you buy the phone from them with the usual&lt;/span&gt;&lt;span style="font-style: italic;"&gt; contract. So this really helps their bottom line. The unsubsidized price of phones has fallen to a level where a significant number of buyers is willing to pay full fare (again, see iPhone). This makes Verizons network attractive to those very profitable customers.&lt;/span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;span style="font-style: italic;"&gt;3) The timing is critical here -- the Short Form deadline for joining the 700 MHz auction is next Monday. The big C block license has this as a rule. Verizon really doesn't want a big new player (Google) to win the license. But in order to bid on it, they have to accept these terms for that one license. It's easier to just accept them for all licenses, rather than confuse matters, especially in light of the other two big reasons. So Verizon is likely to bid on the C block, in order to bank it and keep competitors from using it to really disrupt things.&lt;/span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;p style="font-style: italic;"&gt;&lt;br /&gt; &lt;/p&gt;</content>

by Richard at April 06, 2009 08:04 PM


As my son &lt;a href=""&gt;Michael already mentioned&lt;/a&gt;, I was hospitalized with double pneumonia based on legionella pneumonia, together with liver, kidney and some other minor problems. First of all I want to thank everybody all over the world who cared and sent me good wishes.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;We returned from Cuba on monday, February 18th and I started to feel sick on February 21nd. On February 25th I went to the doctor and got some antibiotica, which basically did not improve the issue. Friday, February 29th my wife decided to call the ambulance and I was delivered to the hospital. As I was told later it took until saturday morning to make all the tests and I was responding normally, but I can only remember up to the time until I entered the emergency ambulance car.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;On saturday, March 1st, they decided to put me into intensive care at the nephrology station and artificial deep sleep. I was on kidney dialysis the whole time. My daughter Kathi told me afterwards that I was connected to about some 20 tubes and wires, from dialysis, oxygen, food to uretic outlets.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;On friday, March 7th, they tried to wake me up again. What I can remember is that I saw Kathi and my wife only black-and-white, could somehow understand what they said, but could not speak comprehensive back myself. The next day I could speak back and saw them in color, the first improvement. For two other days I was put to the dialysis on and off.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;My readings were improving every day now, but my next problem was that I was completely de-mobilized - I could not even sit up. So they had to start to re-mobilize me slowly - on March 12th I left the bed the first time to stand up - held by two men - for 1 minute, still connected to a lot of tubes.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;March 13th I was transferred from intensive care back to the normal hospital. The first day I was still unable to leave the bed on my own, but this also improved quickly. The next thing I discovered was that I had lost 10 kg and this was of course one of my mobility problems, because the majority I lost was not fat but muscles. Anyway, I started first with the 3 steps to the toilet and wash-room, take the food not in be, but at the table and then to walk up and down the aisle.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;The 3rd week I had to do a lot of checks, such as blood tests, lung tests, thorax x-ray and finally a gastroscopy to find out that I had some gastoenteritis and also some fungi in the gullet - I assume from taking all this medication.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Finally it was decided to release me just in time for Easter on friday, March 21st from hospital, but they will keep an eye on me. Next wednesday I am ordered back already to the nephrology ambulance of the hospital and later the day they will do an echocardiography. So they will keep me on the long line for some time.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;So I want to thank the medical and non-medical staff in the hospital, they did an excellent job, and again everybody who cared and sent me good wishes, either direct or via my family.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;And last but not least my wife and all of my children who really cared about me and visited me every day two or three times.</content>

by Richard at April 06, 2009 08:04 PM

Cuba and Varadero

I wanted to write a bit about my impressions in Cuba, but my son Michael did a much better&lt;br /&gt;job on his &lt;a href=""&gt;blog Mahalanobis.&lt;/a&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;In addition I added some pictures on the &lt;a href=""&gt;Mac Web Gallery&lt;/a&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;since I am currently sick I can only provide limited input</content>

by Richard at April 06, 2009 08:04 PM


Today was my last working day - although I am already on vacation for 3 month. Currently I am in for a treatment in a health resort - or as we say on a cure - in Moorbad Neydharting in Upper Austria. Not that I am sick, but it is paid for by the state pension fund, and if it does not help, at least it does not harm.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;In addition, I am needing new strength and fitness anyway for my retirement activities. - I will keep you informed. Our next plans are to go to Cuba (Havana and Varadero) from the 7th of February to the 18th. We want since a long time to see Cuba before Fidel Castro retires or dies.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;I will report afterwards.</content>

by Richard at April 06, 2009 08:04 PM

Cubas Options for the Future

As I said in my previous post, the geriatric (and partially dead) trinity in Cuba - Che, Fidel and Raul - is finally coming to an end. They understood to serve the longings of the left wing western postwar and prosperity generations very efficient and let them forget the increasingly fatal situation in Cuba.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;In Cuba itself they managed to overcome the so-called &lt;a href=""&gt;special period&lt;/a&gt; and opened up the country very selectively for tourism by creating basically two markets, one in &lt;a href=""&gt;national pesos &lt;/a&gt;and one in &lt;a href=""&gt;convertible pesos.&lt;/a&gt; This causes Cubans being employed in tourism and related occupations to earn much more than &lt;span style="font-weight: bold;"&gt;engineers, medical and educational staff&lt;/span&gt;, also causing doctors to move (to be a doctor you must not be stupid) and now carry luggage for tourists.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;But the Cuban system has, by all critics, also interesting and sympathetic traits and one could also learn from the mistakes made elsewhere, e.g. in Russia and Yugoslavia. What Cuba needs is critical solitarity and help - not necessarily for the government, but for the population.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Cuba has 3 options (if we forget the 4th "north-korean" way)&lt;br /&gt;&lt;ol&gt;&lt;li&gt;The "chinese" model i.e. through partial introduction of a capitalist economy to keep the status quo of the existing government. Because of the deadbeat economy this seems not possible as it it is with the big power China. Also the touristic earnings and the economic and political power of potential allies - in this case Venezuela and Iran - seems not to be sufficient.&lt;/li&gt;&lt;li&gt;The american "turnaraound" i.e. that the Cubans from Miami - the "Cuban Mafia" - are taking over the power under US disguise. This would mean the introduction of an alibi-democracy in conjunction with revanchism and looting economy. This could be worse than Batista.&lt;/li&gt;&lt;li&gt;The only way out - beside a broad latin american solidarity - is an approach to Europe. Cuba has here already with Spain a strong solicitor. Europe could act as intermediary for negotiations with a (new) US government and lobby for the abolishment of the US embargo in exchange for reforms.&lt;/li&gt;&lt;/ol&gt;&lt;br /&gt;However, Cuba hold out against 50 years of US embargo, done by a superpower on the other side of good and evil. This alone will earn Cuba an honorable entry in the Guiness Book of Records. But now it is time of a rethinking.</content>

by Richard at April 06, 2009 08:04 PM

Cuban Economy: Status Quo

Up to 1990 the Cuban economy was heavily subsidised by the &lt;a href=""&gt;Soviet Union&lt;/a&gt; and the &lt;a href=""&gt;Comecon &lt;/a&gt;(Eastern Block) - basically sugar for fuel.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990, Cuba enters the so-called &lt;a href=""&gt;Special Period&lt;/a&gt;:&lt;br /&gt;&lt;blockquote style="font-style: italic;"&gt;When the &lt;a href="" title="Soviet Union"&gt;Soviet Union&lt;/a&gt; collapsed in 1990, the impact on the &lt;a href="" title="Economy of Cuba"&gt;Cuban economy&lt;/a&gt; was devastating. &lt;a href="" title="Cuba"&gt;Cuba&lt;/a&gt; lost approximately 80% of its imports, 80% of its exports and its Gross Domestic Product dropped by 34%. Along with food and medicines that were imported, half of the oil it used came from the USSR and all oil imports trickled to a mere 10% of previous amounts. Before this, Cuba had been re-exporting any Soviet oil it did not consume to other nations for profit (becoming Cuba's second largest export product before 1990). Once Soviet imports fell, Cuba faced a net deficit of oil, resulting in a need to reduce domestic consumption by 20% over the course of two years. The effect was felt immediately; dependent on fossil fuels to operate, transportation, industrial and agricultural systems were paralyzed. There were extensive losses of productivity in both Cuban agriculture — which was dominated by modern industrial tractors, combines, and harvesters, all of which required oil to run — and in Cuban industrial capacity.&lt;/blockquote&gt;The period radically transformed Cuban society and the economy, as it necessitated the successful introduction of sustainable agriculture, decreased use of automobiles, and overhauled industry, health, and diet countrywide.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;In most countries, social programs are the first things to get cut during times of economic hardship. Before the &lt;strong class="selflink"&gt;Special Period&lt;/strong&gt;, &lt;a href="" title="Cuba"&gt;Cuba&lt;/a&gt; had three Universities and tuition costs were covered by the government. During this crisis, education continued to be tuition-free and to assist in reducing the cost of transportation, additional universities were opened bringing the number to fifty, spread throughout various municipalities. &lt;p&gt;&lt;a href="" title="Cuba"&gt;Cuba&lt;/a&gt;’s focus on prevention and health has earned the small nation a world-wide reputation and teams of doctors have been sent throughout the globe to train and assist particularly during natural disasters. &lt;a href="" title="Cuba"&gt;Cuba&lt;/a&gt; has only 2% of the total population of &lt;a href="" title="Latin America"&gt;Latin America&lt;/a&gt; but has 12% of all its doctors. Of special note is the fact that 60% of the doctors in &lt;a href="" title="Cuba"&gt;Cuba&lt;/a&gt; are women. The practice still continues where each community has a doctor that is assigned to it and lives in that area. Even during the &lt;strong class="selflink"&gt;Special Period&lt;/strong&gt;, medical care continued to be subsidized by the state.&lt;/p&gt;&lt;blockquote style="font-style: italic;"&gt;Note by author: A lot of discussions even now ends with these arguments, as &lt;a href=""&gt;Michael already said&lt;/a&gt; " ... so the people I talked with were actually quite happy with their situation ("We don't earn much, but as opposed to other countries education and health care is for free!" ) and couldn't see that people in developed countries who are considered as dirt poor have a way higher living standard ..."&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;BTW, what does "health care is free" really mean? As I told you in my previous post, I was now 3 weeks in the hospital, 2 weeks of this in intensive care. And I have to pay not one Eurocent, so it was for free. Of course I have to pay for health insurance in Austria about 5.1 % of my income (in pension). And I am not going into more details of the Austrian health system here.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/blockquote&gt;&lt;br /&gt;As the country began to recover more visibly from the shock of the implosion of their economic underpinning, Castro gradually told the Cuban people that this "Special Period" was over; that it had succeeded in generally maintaining the long life expectancies and health statistics of the nation — figures roughly equivalent to those enjoyed in the United States — and that the country was therefore (relatively) prosperous once again. &lt;p&gt;Cubans suffered a great deal during the decade referred to as the Special Period and are still living under a lower standard than they were before 1991. This period forced Cuba to change from a nation of consumers--dependent on external oil sources--to a more sustainable economy based on meeting basic needs and conservation. Despite the fact that Cuba is a poor country (the average annual gross domestic product is $3,500), and may not be viewed as “successful” by Western standards, the average life span is higher than in the U.S. and the infant mortality rate is lower than the US. Their literacy rate is higher and their citizens have free medical and educational opportunities.&lt;/p&gt;Policies were drawn up to satisfy the growing tourist markets of Canada and Europe with an aim to replace Cuba's reliance on the sugar industry and gain much needed foreign currency rapidly. A new Ministry of Tourism was created in 1994, and the Cuban state invested heavily in tourist facilities. Between 1990 and 2000, more than $3.5 billion was invested in the tourist industry. The number of rooms available to international tourists grew from 12,000 to 35,000, and the country received a total of 10 million visitors over that period. By 1995 the industry had surpassed sugar as Cuba's chief earner. &lt;p&gt;Today, Cuba welcomes travelers from around the world, and especially Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, France , but also Argentina, Chile and Mexico. In recent years, more than 600,000 Canadians, 200,000 British, and 114,000 Germans have visited Cuba annually. Each year, thousands of Americans visit Cuba, even though the official U.S. trade policy usually does not permit travel there. According to TIME Magazine (May 11, 2007), 20,000 to 30,000 Americans illegally travel to Cuba every year (in my opinion even more). Americans usually reach Cuba via flights from Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver or Cancun. Cuban immigration officers do not stamp U.S. passports so Americans can keep their private visits, private.&lt;/p&gt;&lt;p&gt;Foreign investment in the Cuban tourism sector has increased steadily since the tourism drive. This has been made possible due to constitutional changes to Cuba's socialist &lt;a href="" class="mw-redirect" title="Command economy"&gt;command economy&lt;/a&gt;, to allow for the recognition of foreign held capital.&lt;/p&gt; By the late 1990s, twenty five joint foreign and domestic venture companies were working within Cuba's tourist industry. Foreign investors and hoteliers from market based economies have found that Cuba's centralized economy and bureaucracy has created particular staffing issues and higher costs then normal. An additional factor cited by foreign investors is the degree of state involvement at the executive level, which is far higher than average.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Here we have to mention now the two Cuban currencies: the &lt;a href=""&gt;Peso &lt;/a&gt;or national peso (where the Cubans are making their living on and the &lt;a href=""&gt;Convertible Peso &lt;/a&gt;(CUC$), which is the money for the tourists.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;p&gt;From 1993 until 2004, the Cuban currency was split between the &lt;a href="" title="Cuban peso"&gt;Cuban peso&lt;/a&gt; (the currency Cuban citizens are paid in and used for staples and non-luxury items) and the U.S. dollar in combination with the convertible peso, which was used for tourism and for luxury items.&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p&gt;On November 8, 2004, the Cuban government withdrew the U.S. dollar from circulation citing the need to retaliate against further U.S. &lt;a href="" title="Helms-Burton Act"&gt;sanctions&lt;/a&gt;. After a grace period ending on November 14, 2004, a 10% surcharge began to be imposed when converting U.S. dollars into convertible pesos. The change was announced some weeks beforehand and was extended by the aforementioned grace period (it has been claimed this was because the amounts of US dollars being exchanged were more than anticipated). This measure helped the Cuban government collect much needed hard currency.&lt;/p&gt;In the joint ventures mentioned above, the salary of the Cubans is paid by the foreign company to the Cuban state in CUC$ and then given to the workers by the Cuban state in national pesos. But of course this not 100% and you should especially consider the &lt;span style="font-weight: bold;"&gt;tips&lt;/span&gt;. E.g. in the hotel Varadero, although &lt;span style="font-weight: bold;"&gt;all inclusive&lt;/span&gt;, some people gave 1 CUC$ tip per drink.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Two parallel economies and societies quickly emerged, their demarcation line was represented by access to the CUC$. Those having access to CUC$ through contact with the lucrative tourist industry suddenly found themselves at a distinct financial advantage over &lt;span style="font-weight: bold;"&gt;professional, medical, educational, industrial and agricultural workers.&lt;/span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Bar staff, hotel receptionists and taxi drivers became the coveted occupations in urban Cuba, and by 2006, permission to operate a private taxi cab service could cost up to $500 in bribes. Musicians have also found a radical shift in their economic status. El Nuevo Herald reported that the 400 CUC$ a month one band percussionist receives in tips performing to tourists in &lt;a href="" title="Old Havana"&gt;Old Havana&lt;/a&gt; is more than 30 times what he would receive from the Cuban government for the same work.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;So a lot of the famous educational and medical staff in Cuba is now working in hotels carrying luggage for tourists.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;How long can Cuba sustain this two parallel economies and what are the options in the future? I will try to do this in my next post.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;I did also not talk about the political impacts in Cuba since 1990, the development of the trinity - Che Guevara as Jesus Crist Superstar Fidel Castro as godfather now in pension and the country lead by the holy ghost Raul.</content>

by Richard at April 06, 2009 08:04 PM

Raul Casto allows mobile phones for Cubans

The first signs of opening: Raul Castro removed the ban of mobile phones for all private Cubans - I did not know that this was not allowed at all. Already this Tuesday he removed the ban of selling PCs, TV-sets and Video recording devices to private Cubans.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;The drawback: the tariffs have to be paid in &lt;a href=""&gt;convertible pesos&lt;/a&gt;: activation CUC$ 120, a minute in Cuba CUC$ 0.5, a minute outside Cuba from 3 CUC$ upwards.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;span style="font-weight: bold;"&gt;To put this in relation, one should know that the monthly earnings in Cuba is 400 &lt;/span&gt;&lt;a style="font-weight: bold;" href=""&gt;national pesos,&lt;/a&gt;&lt;span style="font-weight: bold;"&gt; which is about CUC$ 17.&lt;/span&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;So again only people in contact with tourists may be able to afford this, and not the doctors and teachers.</content>

by Richard at April 06, 2009 08:04 PM


Virtual afternoon tea - 3rd December

&lt;div style="float: left; margin-left: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px;"&gt;&lt;a href="" title="photo sharing"&gt;&lt;img src="" alt="" style="border: solid 2px #000000;" /&gt;&lt;/a&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt; &lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;Apologies for the lack of structured posts, but I've got to focus on topping up the Christmas Club account... &lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;Here's another snapshot from the inner circle of hell - the &lt;a href=""&gt;iTraxx&lt;/a&gt; Europe Crossover moving above 1000. Without going into the tedious details, this is a proxy for the perceived creditworthiness of a basket of 50 sub-investment grade companies, which is reshuffled every six months. As we're talking here about spreads on credit default swaps, the higher the number, the uglier the picture - and 1,000 is a very high number. But the equity market is having a quiet rally...&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;A friend alerts me to a chilling montage of videos of &lt;a href=""&gt;Peter Schiff&lt;/a&gt; - it's quite edifying in hindsight to see the derision with which his predictions were received at the time, though it's all common knowledge today. I particularly like the commentator who touts Merrill Lynch at $76... &lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;div&gt;Currently working on a report on how telco assets can be best utilized in advertising and marketing, I happened to stumble across this &lt;a href=""&gt;little snippet&lt;/a&gt; of AT&amp;amp;T thinking outside the call-box. It's not particularly relevant to what I'm working on, but I found it oddly refreshing.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;Seeing Carlyle's &lt;a href=""&gt;Hawaiian black eye&lt;/a&gt; brings to mind a conversation I had recently with a friend in the more mainstream telecom consulting world, who intimated that he is seeing more interest from PE backers of telco/cable assets. My reading, and only my reading, was that the backers are now expecting to be running these companies for &lt;a href=";amp;source=web&amp;amp;ct=res&amp;amp;cd=2&amp;amp;;amp;ei=drs2SdyyNYnj-Qal9Yy6CA&amp;amp;usg=AFQjCNH_uypeJKO0gMbEi_Kn5tNlMtTKBw&amp;amp;sig2=Qic6CPKUwxCVR4FnNg75PQ"&gt;longer&lt;/a&gt; than they originally thought, which I think is a safe assumption.&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div class="blogger-post-footer"&gt;&lt;img width='1' height='1' src=''/&gt;&lt;/div&gt;</content>

by James Enck at April 06, 2009 08:01 PM

Virtual bedtime story - 10th December

Apologies for the dearth of posts, I have been otherwise engaged. Anyway, as you prepare for your slumber, here are a few of the interesting things which I have happened to notice through the fog:&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;Oh, to be in Switzerland, now that &lt;a href=""&gt;fiber has come&lt;/a&gt;...&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;The EC welcomes &lt;a href=""&gt;EC2&lt;/a&gt;...&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;The mother of all &lt;a href=""&gt;self-destruction&lt;/a&gt;. I continue to be in disbelief that anyone could have expected to get away with deception on this scale. Even more quizzical is the choice of name for the property venture. As far as I know, &lt;a href=""&gt;Kandahar&lt;/a&gt; is an inhospitable place where interlopers typically get blown to bits. Actually, maybe the name is appropriate.&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;How to serve advertising to people who are &lt;a href=""&gt;hellbent on avoiding&lt;/a&gt; it. &lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;Do you believe in reincarnation? &lt;a href=""&gt;I do&lt;/a&gt;. &lt;/div&gt;&lt;div class="blogger-post-footer"&gt;&lt;img width='1' height='1' src=''/&gt;&lt;/div&gt;</content>

by James Enck at April 06, 2009 08:01 PM

Only 21 more shopping days left!

&lt;div style="float: right; margin-left: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px;"&gt;&lt;a href="" title="photo sharing"&gt;&lt;img src="" alt="" style="border: solid 2px #000000;" /&gt;&lt;/a&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;span style="font-size: 0.9em; margin-top: 0px;"&gt;&lt;a href=""&gt;Recessionary Christmas &lt;/a&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Originally uploaded by &lt;a href=""&gt;jimiinc&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/div&gt;From the latest Equifax consumer survey: &lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;"Following the Bank of England rate cut at the beginning of the month, 10% of those who responded to the Equifax survey said they planned to use the savings on their mortgage to pay off other debts and 11% planned to put the saving towards day to day living expenses. 4% said they planned to put the saving made on their mortgage back into their own savings. However, only 2 respondents planned to use the extra cash for Christmas gifts and celebrations."&lt;br clear="all" /&gt;&lt;div class="blogger-post-footer"&gt;&lt;img width='1' height='1' src=''/&gt;&lt;/div&gt;</content>

by James Enck at April 06, 2009 08:01 PM

FTTP = Fiber to the People

I've been suffering blogger's block recently, partly just busy with other things, and partly desperately in search of some positive news to restore a sense of Christmas cheer. I just got a press release (not yet on the site) from my friends at &lt;a href=""&gt;City Telecom&lt;/a&gt; in Hong Kong, alerting me to the fact that the company is going to sponsor 25Mbps service for two years for 1,000 underprivileged families with school-age kids. Thinking about some of the appalling telco PR &lt;a href=";amp;id=646"&gt;fumbles&lt;/a&gt; of the past, I'd just like to say well done folks, this is how it's done. Merry FTTX-mas!&lt;div class="blogger-post-footer"&gt;&lt;img width='1' height='1' src=''/&gt;&lt;/div&gt;</content>

by James Enck at April 06, 2009 08:01 PM

Friday shock and awe, again

Well, it's a grey and dismal Friday afternoon in London, and the shelves are most definitely &lt;a href=""&gt;half empty&lt;/a&gt;. No shortage of surprising, shocking and ridiculous news, so why not dive straight in?&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;Too bad Nortel's not an American company, because then it might have a decent crack at some &lt;a href=""&gt;TARP funds&lt;/a&gt;. Perhaps an emergency merger of the US and Canada can be arranged over the weekend to allow this - hey, rules were meant to be bent. &lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;Alcalu says, "I ain't going out like that," and brandishes its Web 2.0 credentials, threatening to escalate to &lt;a href="!ut/p/kcxml/04_Sj9SPykssy0xPLMnMz0vM0Y_QjzKLd4x3tXDUL8h2VAQAURh_Yw!!?LMSG_CABINET=Docs_and_Resource_Ctr&amp;amp;LMSG_CONTENT_FILE=News_Releases_2008/News_Article_001375.xml"&gt;Web 3.0 if necessary&lt;/a&gt;. Oh, and they're going to fire, sorry, I guess that's "de-friend" in Web 2.0 parlance, 6,000 people just in case. I hope this Web x.0 escalation meme doesn't catch on, because if Cisco gets onboard, we could very soon find ourselves stuck right in the middle of Web 9.0 by next weekend, and Huawei will always promise 10x more Web x.0 for half the price. It's a slippery slope. &lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;(Meanwhile Ben Verwaayen has issued a &lt;a href="!ut/p/kcxml/04_Sj9SPykssy0xPLMnMz0vM0Y_QjzKLd4x3tXDUL8h2VAQAURh_Yw!!?LMSG_CABINET=Docs_and_Resource_Ctr&amp;amp;LMSG_CONTENT_FILE=News_Releases_2008/News_Article_001367.xml"&gt;friend request and superpoke&lt;/a&gt; to &lt;a href=""&gt;Gabrielle Gauthey&lt;/a&gt; of ARCEP. All joking aside, she was gracious enough to give me a private meeting at her office back in 2007, and I found her to be hugely impressive. To say she is well-regarded and connected is an epic understatement, and if Lucatel is in search of people of substance, they would struggle to do better.)&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;Different day, same old &lt;a href=";amp;p=irol-newsArticle&amp;amp;ID=1235549&amp;amp;highlight="&gt;cable stress&lt;/a&gt;. Will we see the formation of &lt;a href=""&gt;CARP&lt;/a&gt;?&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;Nobody can lose $50bn like "&lt;a href=";amp;sid=a8S7tFK0wZYg&amp;amp;refer=home"&gt;The Ponz&lt;/a&gt;." &lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;I guess I could keep going, but it's Friday for God's sake, there's got to be some good news somewhere, and indeed I have precisely two items:&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;ul&gt;&lt;li&gt;In a time of eroding corporate earnings, &lt;a href=""&gt;Netia&lt;/a&gt; in Poland has today &lt;a href=",list,1882.html"&gt;increased guidance&lt;/a&gt; for the year, which means more cash.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/li&gt;&lt;li&gt;My friend Thomas Anglero at &lt;a href=""&gt;WiHood&lt;/a&gt; gave me an exclusive demo of the alpha version of WiHood Mobile. I can't really say any more, but I was extremely impressed. No doubt all will be revealed in due course. &lt;br /&gt;&lt;/li&gt;&lt;/ul&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;Now, go home and have a good weekend. &lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div class="blogger-post-footer"&gt;&lt;img width='1' height='1' src=''/&gt;&lt;/div&gt;</content>

by James Enck at April 06, 2009 08:01 PM

Back in action, mostly

A belated happy new year to all mega-uber value readers. Still trying to locate my brain through a jet-lag fog, but normal posting should resume soon. I'll spare you the typical "2009 predictions" post, because my view is that all bets are off for this year, apart from rising corporate defaults and human misery, which are dead certs. Working through a mountain of email today, I came across a couple of items on companies near the top of Santa's naughty list in 2008, so I will content myself with these for now:&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;According to &lt;a href=""&gt;this article&lt;/a&gt;, &lt;a href=""&gt;Phorm&lt;/a&gt; (a company which has succeeded in inspiring a jaw-droppingly unique level of negative press and public &lt;a href=""&gt;disdain&lt;/a&gt;) is apparently considering financial incentives to secure user acceptance. I wrote something recently wherein I speculated that this might be one approach, but one which is at odds with the company's business model, which is based on share of incremental ad revenue with ISP and channel partners. I'm not sure I really understand what's going on here, if anything. I think a company like Phorm really only has one incentive to attract users, and that is the promise of greater relevance in ad content, though I think consumers are far from comfortable with this proposition at present. Perhaps advertising fatigue has not reached the critical level yet. &lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;Elsewhere, &lt;a href=""&gt;Sandvine&lt;/a&gt;, the people who brought you the great Comcast Controversy, have started off the year with &lt;a href=""&gt;six major customer wins&lt;/a&gt;, though I'm not really sure what constitutes a "tier 1" DSL operator in Japan, where DSL is in terminal decline. If anyone has any ideas about who the European mystery company is, please let me know.&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;Finally, I've been commissioned to write a report for a major international organization, on the topic of broadband's role in stimulating and enabling innovation. This is a very broad remit, and I have lots of ideas, but I'd be very interested to hear yours, no matter how unusual.  &lt;/div&gt;&lt;div class="blogger-post-footer"&gt;&lt;img width='1' height='1' src=''/&gt;&lt;/div&gt;</content>

by James Enck at April 06, 2009 08:01 PM

Season's Greetings

Happy Holidays and best wishes for 2009 (though, if we're honest, I think we all know it's going to suck, barring some intervention from a benevolent advanced alien race)! EuroTelcoblog will be embarking on its 2008 North American Roadshow from 27th December, which in practice means an extended engagement in Memphis, Tennessee, with minimal to nil posting. I know of one amazing story which may break during my absence, so if I miss it, I miss it - but it's a good one. Anyway, back in service on 7th January. All the best until then. God bless us, every one! &lt;div class="blogger-post-footer"&gt;&lt;img width='1' height='1' src=''/&gt;&lt;/div&gt;</content>

by James Enck at April 06, 2009 08:01 PM

Streaming tears of joy

I'm very busy at the moment. However, in the wake of yesterday's historic events on Capitol Hill, the geek wannabe in me just couldn't help stopping to take note of some of the impressive statistics coming out of the likes of &lt;a href=""&gt;Akamai&lt;/a&gt; and &lt;a href=""&gt;Limelight&lt;/a&gt;, as well as the associated &lt;a href=""&gt;thread&lt;/a&gt; on the NANOG list. Now, back to building my own future...&lt;div class="blogger-post-footer"&gt;&lt;img width='1' height='1' src=''/&gt;&lt;/div&gt;</content>

by James Enck at April 06, 2009 08:01 PM

Virtual late lunch, 14 January 2009

Much to catch up on, but first, a moment of silence for &lt;a href=""&gt;Nortel&lt;/a&gt;. The 2009 fun and games have officially begun. &lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;For the datacenter lover in you, Digital Realty Trust had another set of encouraging &lt;a href=";amp;p=irol-newsArticle&amp;amp;ID=1243888&amp;amp;highlight="&gt;numbers&lt;/a&gt; yesterday, and the stock had a nice bounce, though the appalling US retail sales numbers and fallout from Nortel are taking their toll today.&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;Then again, look on the bright side, looks like PCs and game consoles are going to get &lt;a href=";amp;p=irol-newsArticle&amp;amp;ID=1243952&amp;amp;highlight="&gt;even cheaper&lt;/a&gt;!&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;Disdain for fund-of-fund managers is the &lt;a href=""&gt;new black&lt;/a&gt;, and Telenor is &lt;a href=""&gt;draped&lt;/a&gt; in it from head to toe.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;If you live in the EU and have been putting off that plasma TV purchase, time may be &lt;a href=""&gt;running out&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;Very interesting &lt;a href=""&gt;report&lt;/a&gt; on the smart grid and its potential contribution to fiscal stimulus. This is discussed in an upcoming Telco 2.0 post, so I'll just point to it for now. &lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;On a purely personal point, I continue to be amazed at the power of this web thingie to connect and reconnect people. A couple of days ago, I received, totally out of the blue, a bunch of old &lt;a href=""&gt;photos&lt;/a&gt; from a group of &lt;a href=""&gt;schoolmates&lt;/a&gt; I haven't seen since or communicated with since 1974, when we moved to Memphis. We are now emailing and Facebooking one another and exchanging stories. In true Woody Allen &lt;a href=""&gt;fashion&lt;/a&gt;, it seems that no one has ended up doing what I expected them to do back when we were kids, including myself. And it turns out that a nice, unassuming kid I often played with has ended up as a pretty well-known &lt;a href=""&gt;writer&lt;/a&gt; it would seem. It's all delightful stuff, and highlights that without this awesome &lt;a href=""&gt;series of tubes&lt;/a&gt;, we would probably all be in the dark about how life turned out for us. Now there is a Facebook group and even some talk of an attempt at a reunion. &lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;Back to 2009, FTSE -4.4%, S&amp;amp;P -3%. Ho hum...&lt;/div&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div class="blogger-post-footer"&gt;&lt;img width='1' height='1' src=''/&gt;&lt;/div&gt;</content>

by James Enck at April 06, 2009 08:01 PM

Broadband bombshells

A couple of mega-uber value readers have pointed me towards a couple of interesting reports hot off the presses:&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;OFCOM's &lt;a href=""&gt;survey&lt;/a&gt; of broadband speed and performance characteristics, carried out by the awesome &lt;a href=""&gt;SamKnows&lt;/a&gt;, looks like the most comprehensive study of its type ever produced, and I look forward to reading it.&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;Likewise, OPTA has released an interesting-looking &lt;a href=""&gt;report&lt;/a&gt; (and &lt;a href=""&gt;spreadsheet&lt;/a&gt;) commissioned from AnalysysMason comparing costs of various scenarios for fiber deployment in the Netherlands. I have only scanned it very quickly, but if I'm interpreting the cost comparisons correctly, it would seem to point to a significant cost disadvantage for sub-loop unbundling. &lt;/div&gt;&lt;div class="blogger-post-footer"&gt;&lt;img width='1' height='1' src=''/&gt;&lt;/div&gt;</content>

by James Enck at April 06, 2009 08:01 PM

And now for something completely insane...

Thanks to a newly-crowned Palladium Club mega-uber value reader, check out this exceptionally detailed &lt;a href=""&gt;pictorial essay&lt;/a&gt; on domestic fiber installation in Japan. &lt;div class="blogger-post-footer"&gt;&lt;img width='1' height='1' src=''/&gt;&lt;/div&gt;</content>

by James Enck at April 06, 2009 08:01 PM

Thursday bummer

I spent today in the West End, beavering away on the project, but my concentration was frequently broken by the torrent of bad news filling the wires today. First &lt;a href=""&gt;BT&lt;/a&gt; (oh dear), then &lt;a href=";amp;p=irol-newsArticle&amp;amp;ID=1247071&amp;amp;highlight="&gt;Nokia&lt;/a&gt;, which ended the day in the Minus 10 Club, nicely matching its 2009 industry outlook. Then came &lt;a href=""&gt;Microsoft&lt;/a&gt;, and then Freescale announced it has &lt;a href=";amp;p=irol-newsArticle&amp;amp;ID=1247224&amp;amp;highlight="&gt;drawn&lt;/a&gt; part of its revolver, which didn't seem to inspire huge confidence. Overall, a hideous day for news, but thankfully not entirely devoid of &lt;a href=""&gt;comedy&lt;/a&gt;. As I've always said, when the sun shines out your backside, it's advisable to rest said &lt;span style="font-style: italic;"&gt;derriere&lt;/span&gt; on a $44,000 chair.&lt;div class="blogger-post-footer"&gt;&lt;img width='1' height='1' src=''/&gt;&lt;/div&gt;</content>

by James Enck at April 06, 2009 08:01 PM

Watch your back

Happy Friday. If you're finished reading your copy of the &lt;span class="Apple-style-span" style="font-style: italic;"&gt;Financial Times&lt;/span&gt;, whatever you do, don't give it to a friend or colleague - you might find yourself on the wrong end of a &lt;a href=""&gt;lawsuit&lt;/a&gt;... Silly me, it looks like dramatically different rules apply between the physical and virtual worlds, to cover identical content. The disclaimer in my physical copy of the paper only talks about copying, not about sharing. Still, this sort of thing is good news for IP lawyers, or at least those who haven't moved over into bankruptcy practice, where all the real fun is. Not that IP lawyers have any shortage of career options, at least not in the US, where government &lt;a href=""&gt;beckons&lt;/a&gt; for some. It's intriguing to think about what's going on inside an administration apparently &lt;a href=""&gt;committed&lt;/a&gt; to universal availability of broadband and net neutrality (whatever that really means), but with a legal team like &lt;a href=""&gt;this&lt;/a&gt; on the bench. How do you spell change?&lt;div class="blogger-post-footer"&gt;&lt;img width='1' height='1' src=''/&gt;&lt;/div&gt;</content>

by James Enck at April 06, 2009 08:01 PM

Taking the fiber challenge

It's not often that I copy and paste an entire press release, but it's not on the site yet, so here goes. This is another very clever (though not entirely unexpected) move by KPN, which is a nice incumbent validation of point-to-point fiber and more generally of open networks. And one has to assume that this is very unwelcome news for UPC, which still derives around 15% of EBITDA (at a nice margin) in the Dutch market, centered on Amsterdam. &lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;span class="Apple-style-span" style="border-collapse: collapse; font-family: arial; font-size: 13px; "&gt;&lt;p&gt;&lt;b&gt;&lt;span style="font-family:Arial;font-size:85%;"&gt;&lt;span lang="EN-US" style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: Arial; font-weight: bold; "&gt;KPN participates in fiber roll-out in Amsterdam&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/b&gt;&lt;/p&gt;&lt;p&gt;&lt;span style="font-family:Arial;font-size:85%;"&gt;&lt;span lang="EN-US" style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: Arial; "&gt;KPN announces that it will participate in the fiber network roll-out in Amsterdam through its Reggefiber joint venture. For this purpose, the Reggefiber joint venture takes a majority stake in Glasvezelnet Amsterdam (GNA), an existing joint venture with the municipality of Amsterdam and several housing corporations. The Reggefiber joint venture does not require additional cash contributions from KPN for increasing its stake.&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/p&gt;&lt;p&gt;&lt;span style="font-family:Arial;font-size:85%;"&gt;&lt;span lang="EN-US" style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: Arial; "&gt;In the coming years, GNA will be responsible for a further and gradual fiber network roll-out based on Fiber-to-the-Home (FttH). During the first stage, it intends to realize some 100,000 homes passed on FttH in the next years. KPN intends to offer services on this network.&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/p&gt;&lt;p&gt;&lt;span style="font-family:Arial;font-size:85%;"&gt;&lt;span lang="EN-US" style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: Arial; "&gt;For KPN, participation in GNA via the Reggefiber joint venture is a next step following the establishment of a joint venture with fiber construction company Reggefiber in 2008. This joint venture is focused on the roll-out of FttH networks in the Netherlands and the company will roll out the Amsterdam network as well. Just like Reggefiber’s other fiber networks, the network in Amsterdam will be opened up to KPN and other service providers.&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/p&gt;&lt;p&gt;&lt;span style="font-family:Arial;font-size:85%;"&gt;&lt;span lang="EN-US" style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: Arial; "&gt;KPN&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;span style="font-family:Arial;font-size:85%;"&gt;&lt;span lang="EN-US" style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: Arial; "&gt; is currently involved in pilots in ten cities for fiber, five of them with FttH. In the second half of 2009, the results of the pilots will be used to determine the speed and direction of a possible further fiber roll-out. After delivering the first 100,000 connections in Amsterdam, it will be assessed if and how a further roll-out in Amsterdam would be appropriate.&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/p&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;span class="Apple-style-span" style="border-collapse: collapse; font-family: Arial; font-size: 13px; "&gt;The proposed joint venture is subject to approval from the competition authorities.&lt;/span&gt; &lt;/div&gt;&lt;div class="blogger-post-footer"&gt;&lt;img width='1' height='1' src=''/&gt;&lt;/div&gt;</content>

by James Enck at April 06, 2009 08:01 PM

Snowy Sunday

Tomorrow may be Stormy Monday (at least that's what &lt;a href=""&gt;they call it&lt;/a&gt;), but this evening we are having heavy snow in London, which is quite surprising given that snow has been rationed here since 1943. &lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;I have been very quiet of late, largely because my focus has been on setting up &lt;a href=""&gt;the new fund&lt;/a&gt;. So most of my time in the past couple of weeks has been absorbed in working on the pipeline, doing &lt;a href=""&gt;some writing&lt;/a&gt;, and taking in the sheer immensity of the problems facing the market. Without saying too much, I think it's sufficient to note that we are seeing some situations (admittedly not in telecom) which are stunning in the rapidity of their deterioration, and we are also seeing some pieces of capital structures trading which don't trade in normal circumstances - suggesting that there may be a further unwinding of positions (possibly under duress) taking place.&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;On top of these sorts of capital market-centric indications of what's going wrong, there is &lt;a href=""&gt;plenty&lt;/a&gt; of other evidence in &lt;a href=""&gt;support&lt;/a&gt; of the view that we are in for many nasty new surprises. Which makes it surprising to me to read that 33% of respondents to a survey on distressed investing &lt;a href=""&gt;seem to think&lt;/a&gt; that the bottom is upon us now. &lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;I disagree, and the moment of epiphany for me last week was reading that NBC's final unsold Super Bowl commercial slot went to a &lt;a href=""&gt;glorified pawn broker&lt;/a&gt;. Super Bowl ad slots have historically been a showcase for global consumer brands to make their most memorable statements for the year ahead. During the boom/bubble era of extravagance, the easy-going zeitgeist was reflected in the ads - now we have an interloper in the form of a company serving people feeling frightened and vulnerable enough to sell their gold for cash, despite the fact that the "smart money" is actually &lt;a href=";amp;sid=aDq40efnf8nM"&gt;doing the opposite&lt;/a&gt;. &lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;I was also somewhat taken aback (though, in retrospect, I'm not sure why) by a release from Equifax (not yet on the &lt;a href=""&gt;site&lt;/a&gt; at this writing) suggesting that a large proportion of UK respondents have at most a one-month financial cushion in the event of redundancy. It's not pretty, and thus I don't buy all this talk of a second-half recovery, because I think the stress in the system, at the small business and personal level, is perhaps more negative than many are taking into account at present. And none of this seems to take into account the specter of &lt;a href=""&gt;new nationalism&lt;/a&gt; and grassroots anti-globalization, which has never been a particularly positive force.&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;I am worried, but what the hell, it's a new week ahead. No doubt there will be worse and more ridiculous to come.&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;If you're finding it hard to get to sleep, here's some recommended reading material:&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;ul&gt;&lt;li&gt;Monash University Australia - &lt;a href=""&gt;three&lt;/a&gt; &lt;a href=""&gt;winning&lt;/a&gt; &lt;a href=""&gt;papers&lt;/a&gt; on broadband and the environment;&lt;/li&gt;&lt;li&gt;Interesting &lt;a href=";amp;page_number=1&amp;amp;image_number=1"&gt;photo essay&lt;/a&gt; on FTTH/FTTN in rural Texas&lt;/li&gt;&lt;/ul&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;I will endeavour to post more frequently!&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div class="blogger-post-footer"&gt;&lt;img width='1' height='1' src=''/&gt;&lt;/div&gt;</content>

by James Enck at April 06, 2009 08:01 PM

Fiber, schmiber

In the wake of the Copenhagen fiber love-in last week, a multi-platinum mega-uber value reader alerts me to a &lt;a href=""&gt;review&lt;/a&gt; of the event published by &lt;a href=""&gt;NLkabel&lt;/a&gt;, the cable trade association previously known as VECAI. My Dutch isn't what it used to be, but my source tells me that the main conclusions are - wait for it - that there are no new services for fiber, that the social and economic benefits are unquantified, and that the main driver of fiber deployment to date has been the competitive dynamic in markets where it has occurred.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;I'm more intrigued by the choice of images in the report. Look at the photo on page 2 - don't you think that the attitude of the woman's shoulders betrays an underlying depression, because fiber events are boring and the whole endeavour is ultimately pointless and doomed? Or the picture on page 3 of the man looking wistfully into the middle distance from his perch at an empty display stand, wishing he'd had the foresight to train as a CATV installation technician - instead of becoming a lonely FTTH-loving loser... Or the two photos at the bottom of page 3, which definitively prove that a) video looks blurry over fiber, and b) fiber dudes are misfits who look like they come from the ranks of a ZZ Top tribute band.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;It's subtle stuff...&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Meanwhile, if you, like me, are skeptical that we will see any meaningful deployment of fiber in the UK before the ending of &lt;a href=""&gt;this song&lt;/a&gt;, then you probably won't be any more encouraged after reading &lt;a href=""&gt;this news snippet&lt;/a&gt;. I have often heard it said (and indeed have said it myself) that BT is a gargantuan pension fund with a small telco attached, but this really brings things into perspective, or as Spinal Tap would say, &lt;a href=""&gt;too much perspective&lt;/a&gt;. Should the worst happen, what do you suppose the government's appetite for a £30bn fiber deployment could be once it has absorbed BT and crystallized its financial obligation under the &lt;a href=""&gt;Crown Guarantee&lt;/a&gt;?&lt;div class="blogger-post-footer"&gt;&lt;img width='1' height='1' src=''/&gt;&lt;/div&gt;</content>

by James Enck at April 06, 2009 08:01 PM

Distracted 2.0

Well, mega-uber value readers, it looks like I'm failing miserably in my intention to post more frequently. It just happens that I'm preoccupied with pre-launch preparations, investor meetings, and the like. Very exciting stuff, and I promise to share what I can in due course.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Greetings to all my erstwhile fiber geek friends whom I'm missing this week in &lt;a href=""&gt;Copenhagen&lt;/a&gt;. This is the first conference I've missed in four years, so please don't have too much fun without me, though in Copenhagen in February, that may not be too much of an ask...&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;However bad it might be in Copenhagen (disclaimer: actually it is a wonderful city - I'm just jealous), at least there's more fun to be had than in some corridors of power in Brussels, where it appears that a cat-fight may be developing between Ms. Reding and "Nickel" Neelie Kroes. Dutch version is &lt;a href=""&gt;here&lt;/a&gt;, Google translated English &lt;a href=";amp;hl=en&amp;amp;ie=UTF-8&amp;amp;;amp;sl=nl&amp;amp;tl=en&amp;amp;history_state0="&gt;here&lt;/a&gt;. I have no real insight into the implied allegations contained here, but no doubt if there is any substance to them, then it is pretty explosive stuff.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;In any event, given that I have little to say, and that any market commentary from me would be mostly negative, I thought it might be best to focus on the ridiculous, for a change. So, here goes.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Firstly, via the NANOG list, check out this amazing gallery of &lt;a href=""&gt;cabling nightmares&lt;/a&gt;. Words fail me.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Secondly, I recently stumbled across this bizarre &lt;a href=""&gt;collection&lt;/a&gt; of lovingly-crafted Dictionaraoke tracks. AC/DC fans click &lt;a href=""&gt;here&lt;/a&gt;, Black Sabbath fans &lt;a href=""&gt;here&lt;/a&gt;, Beatles fans &lt;a href=""&gt;here&lt;/a&gt;, Smiths fans &lt;a href=""&gt;here&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Lastly, I have rarely laughed so hard that I both cried and choked at the same time, but this piece of video from the incomparable geniuses at The Onion takes the prize. If you're easily offended by strong language, or are a member of the Sony legal team, you should skip it. For everyone else, and for anyone who has ever struggled with the installation of a piece of consumer electronic paraphernalia (Sony or otherwise), take a deep breath and &lt;a href=""&gt;enjoy&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;div class="blogger-post-footer"&gt;&lt;img width='1' height='1' src=''/&gt;&lt;/div&gt;</content>

by James Enck at April 06, 2009 08:01 PM

Not there, but definitely not square

I unfortunately missed eComm again this year, though I remain optimistic that I will make the trek one day. Looks like my friend Martin Geddes was also unable to attend, but sent an impressive video talk, which is definitely worth your time.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;embed src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="352" height="294" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"&gt;&lt;/embed&gt;&lt;div class="blogger-post-footer"&gt;&lt;img width='1' height='1' src=''/&gt;&lt;/div&gt;</content>

by James Enck at April 06, 2009 08:01 PM

A modest proposal

I have a candidate for a new question on the "&lt;a href=""&gt;Life in the UK&lt;/a&gt;" test:&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;"Identify the defining characteristic essential to survival in the UK."&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;The answer, among the multiple choice options, is, "An enduring and inexhaustible capacity for absorbing &lt;a href=""&gt;disappointment&lt;/a&gt;."&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div class="blogger-post-footer"&gt;&lt;img width='1' height='1' src=''/&gt;&lt;/div&gt;</content>

by James Enck at April 06, 2009 08:01 PM

Starless and Bible black

It's bad to feel that each sporadic new post on this humble bloglet requires an apology for the yawning gap since the last. But I fortunately have a good excuse, having been stranded in Africa for the past week. I write this from a net cafe in Freetown - &lt;a href=""&gt;please send money&lt;/a&gt;, and also the PIN to your bank account and credit cards if possible. &lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;Sadly, this is not true. I have been absorbed in start-up activities - investor presentations, brainstorming with my wonderful colleagues, work on the pipeline, meetings with external partners, and generally absorbing the astonishingly &lt;a href=""&gt;black&lt;/a&gt; &lt;a href=""&gt;newsflow&lt;/a&gt; which &lt;a href=";amp;sid=a0znhdA6SHZA"&gt;overwhelms&lt;/a&gt; us all (thus the pretentious title of this post - &lt;a href=""&gt;King Crimson&lt;/a&gt;, yes, but I had in mind the description of night in the opening line of the original source, &lt;span class="Apple-style-span" style="font-style: italic;"&gt;&lt;a href=""&gt;Under Milk Wood&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/span&gt;). Pretentious it may be, but I think it fits, as we are in an economic night both starless (as in no star to steer by), and Bible black, because there are &lt;a href=""&gt;none more black&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;If you can detach yourself from the fear and anxiety permeating the world at the moment, it's actually quite exhilarating to think that we, the human race, are in totally uncharted economic waters, though the climate change campaigners would yawn and rightly say that we've been there for years - it's only when there's an abstraction like money at stake that people sit up and take notice. &lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;For anyone born in the West after 1945, up to now, no matter how bad things were at home, the truly bad stuff always happened elsewhere. Globalization, however, is &lt;a href=""&gt;one hell of a leveller&lt;/a&gt;. How we handle the current crisis will define how we see ourselves as a civilization for decades to come, and indeed whether there actually are decades to come as a civilization. &lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;So far, I'm not encouraged. Seeing Ben Bernanke yesterday being &lt;a href=""&gt;interrogated&lt;/a&gt; by a group of Senators whom I would describe collectively as relatively ill-informed and inarticulate at best (one stumbled several times over the word "chaos", which he apparently encountered unprepared in the statement written by his aides, which he was obviously reading for the first time during the hearing) really drove home how little policy-makers seem to grasp the mechanics of the capital markets and banking world - yet they seem all-too-eager to prescribe remedies and feel-good soundbites. &lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;I also had the dubious pleasure yesterday of reading a note from Bob Janjuah of RBS, who is glumly entertaining to read. Cutting to the chase, he's talking about a 4% contraction in G7 GDP in 2009, followed by 0% in 2010, S&amp;amp;P 500 at 550 (vs. 765, where it closed today), multiple credit rating downgrades for "solid" investment grade credits, etc. I would add that the market still doesn't seem as worried at present as it should be about company pension blackholes, nor does anyone really know where a huge amount of senior corporate debt on the balance sheets of banks is actually marked - my guess is unrealistically high. &lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;And I had a fascinating meeting today with someone in the restructuring space, who made the interesting observation that the severity of the current downturn may eradicate the relatively rational, consensual niceties which surrounded restructurings in the previous downturn, in favor of more aggressive, irrational behavior and litigation. Good news for bankruptcy lawyers, but I'm not entirely sure what existing investors or other stakeholders can make of all this.    &lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;So what does this mean to the average geek? Apple-obsession, gadget-porn, Google-worship/bashing, et al, are nice pastimes, but sadly they don't count for much in the very difficult meatspace we all occupy now. I have written previously about the defensiveness of telecom and the &lt;a href=""&gt;potential for meaningful reinvention&lt;/a&gt; arising from the current nightmare, but reading it again today, nearly six months on, it seems a bit contentious. I also produced a &lt;a href=""&gt;piece&lt;/a&gt; a few months ago, which was fundamentally satire, but underpinned by a genuine concern that this problem could end up being much more serious than anyone was willing to admit at the time. &lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;Between the two pieces, given the evidence to date, I would now have to clearly fall on the side of the latter. In other words, while I firmly would like to believe that mobile and broadband are fundamentally services which should easily displace other forms of discretionary spending under "normal" conditions of duress, what remains highly uncertain is the denominator - i.e., how much consumers will have to spend in the first place. Or, indeed, how many "consumers" there actually will be out there a year from now, and how they are captured and retained. Over to you telecom - good night and good luck.&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div class="blogger-post-footer"&gt;&lt;img width='1' height='1' src=''/&gt;&lt;/div&gt;</content>

by James Enck at April 06, 2009 08:01 PM

Greetings from Hong Kong

This jet lag is a mo-fo, but &lt;a href=""&gt;what a place&lt;/a&gt;! Looking forward to catching up with my friends from HKBN this evening. Meanwhile, their ad campaign continues to deliver hilarious, but pointed, messages.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;object width="425" height="344"&gt;&lt;param name="movie" value=";amp;hl=en&amp;amp;fs=1"&gt;&lt;param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"&gt;&lt;param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"&gt;&lt;embed src=";amp;hl=en&amp;amp;fs=1" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"&gt;&lt;/embed&gt;&lt;/object&gt;&lt;div class="blogger-post-footer"&gt;&lt;img width='1' height='1' src=''/&gt;&lt;/div&gt;</content>

by James Enck at April 06, 2009 08:01 PM

Let's peel that onion

On Thursday night, I had the pleasure of attending a presentation and discussion with the team from &lt;a href=""&gt;SamKnows&lt;/a&gt;, hosted by the &lt;a href=""&gt;Broadband Stakeholder Group&lt;/a&gt;. In case you weren't aware of it, it's the SamKnows database which powers availability checkers on broadband consumer comparison sites and some of the sites of individual ISPs in the UK. The discussion mainly focused on the outcome of its study of broadband speeds which form the basis for &lt;a href=""&gt;OFCOM's recent report&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;This involved installing &lt;a href=";amp;sourceid=chrome&amp;amp;q=wrt54g&amp;amp;um=1&amp;amp;ie=UTF-8&amp;amp;sa=N&amp;amp;hl=en&amp;amp;tab=wi"&gt;Linksys WRT54G&lt;/a&gt; routers between the routers and modems of over 2,000 volunteer panel members. Each Linksys router was modified with a client which would run a pre-scheduled routine of diagnostic tests on a number of performance indicators at times when the panelists' networks were judged to be idle, and report this data back to home base for analysis.&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;The results, as seen in the OFCOM report, show a wide range of variation in maximum and average speeds beyond what could be attributed solely to loop length (pages 30 - 32). Possible explanations include everything from poor customer network configuration and wiring problems, to contention, throttling, and insuffucient backhaul provisioning.&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;Some of the causes could probably be inferred from the data collected by the Linksys devices, but the mandate from OFCOM was to focus on speed. I find this ironic, in that I have heard members of the OFCOM consumer panel advocating incorporating other KPIs, such as latency, in ISP performance claims and marketing.&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;Sadly, there was no discussion of individual ISP performance in the session, despite the fact that SamKnows obviously has a high level of insight in this regard. My reading was that OFCOM is keen to avoid this sort of disclosure, because it might somehow distort the market.&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;I'm intrigued by how the outputs from SamKnows' data could be married with data from other sources, such as the &lt;a href=""&gt;Measurement Lab&lt;/a&gt;, Akamai, Level3, and the &lt;a href=""&gt;Internet Storm Center&lt;/a&gt;, to build a better-rounded real-time picture of what is actually driving the quality of the customer experience. I'm sure a number of telcos and broadband service providers wouldn't want to subject themselves to that sort of scrutiny for obvious reasons.&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;On the other hand, if exposed to the end user community, it could also be a powerful marketing and customer care tool. Transparency of performance claims, backed up by hard evidence from a number of sources, would be a great selling point, and if customers have some visibility on what's behind their service problems, presumably they will be less inclined to bombard call centers, especially if they can see that the problem likely lies either in their own CPE/network, or on the other side of the local access network.&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;Anyway, the thing that really excited me was that the SamKnows team clearly wants to expand their study methodology beyond the UK. I can think of a number of readers of this humble bloglet in various markets around Europe and elsewhere who would make great local partners, so don't be shy.&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div class="blogger-post-footer"&gt;&lt;img width='1' height='1' src=''/&gt;&lt;/div&gt;</content>

by James Enck at April 06, 2009 08:01 PM

Time for a new term?

&lt;span class="Apple-style-span" style="font-size: small;"&gt;I've been struggling to keep my head above water, which is a suitably vague explanation for the dearth of posts recently. One project I've been working on has me pondering broadband in the broadest sense. There's certainly no shortage of data to ponder, what with the newly released &lt;/span&gt;&lt;a href=";amp;solcheck=1&amp;amp;"&gt;&lt;span class="Apple-style-span" style="font-size: small;"&gt;Akamai report&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/a&gt;&lt;span class="Apple-style-span" style="font-size: small;"&gt;, and last week's &lt;/span&gt;&lt;a href=""&gt;&lt;span class="Apple-style-span" style="font-size: small;"&gt;WEF Networked Readiness report&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/a&gt;&lt;span class="Apple-style-span" style="font-size: small;"&gt; and updated analysis from &lt;/span&gt;&lt;a href=""&gt;&lt;span class="Apple-style-span" style="font-size: small;"&gt;Point Topic&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/a&gt;&lt;span class="Apple-style-span" style="font-size: small;"&gt;. &lt;/span&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;span class="Apple-style-span" style="font-size: small;"&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;span class="Apple-style-span" style="font-size: small;"&gt;One thing I have been thinking about is the long-term viability of the word "broadband." As SamKnows has &lt;/span&gt;&lt;a href=""&gt;&lt;span class="Apple-style-span" style="font-size: small;"&gt;demonstrated&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/a&gt;&lt;span class="Apple-style-span" style="font-size: small;"&gt; in the UK, one man's "broadband" is another man's "dial-up" in practice. When we talk about a global average access speed of 1.5Mbps, as observed by Akamai, we're clearly a long, long way from ubiquitous broadband Nirvana for all. Still, it's faster than dial-up, so technically it's broadband. However, when I see Korea with an average speed of 15Mbps, 69% of all connections at more than 5Mbps, and 94% of all connections at more than 2Mbps, the term seems to be almost meaningless. &lt;/span&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;span class="Apple-style-span" style="font-size: small;"&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;span class="Apple-style-span" style="font-size: small;"&gt;"Broadband", as with terms to describe other previous technology innovations, such as the "horseless carriage" and "wireless telegraphy", currently seems to be defined more by what it isn't, rather than what it is. In a market like Korea, where virtually no narrowband exists anymore, what does broadband mean, exactly? Connected, basically. And more broadly, when a single term can be used in various markets to indicate a range of &gt;256kbps to 1Gbps and above, isn't it essentially a nonsense? And don't even get me started on the asymmetrical vs. symmetrical connection issue. &lt;/span&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;span class="Apple-style-span" style="font-size: small;"&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;span class="Apple-style-span" style="font-size: small;"&gt;The video industry has been extremely successful in carving out a brand identity for HD as separate from SD TV - no one would claim that an analogue broadcast and 1080p are the same experience, though both are broadly defined as TV (okay, I know there's been a lot of marketing fudge in practice, but the standards say either it's HD or it ain't). My sense is that we need to start looking for a new term (or terms) to use in place of "broadband", both because it doesn't mean much today, and is likely to mean even less in future. &lt;/span&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;span class="Apple-style-span" style="font-size: small;"&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;span class="Apple-style-span" style="font-size: small;"&gt;Anyway, I'd be curious to hear any suggestions out there as to long-term alternative descriptors. Now it's time to crank up my &lt;/span&gt;&lt;a href=""&gt;&lt;span class="Apple-style-span" style="font-size: small;"&gt;broadband&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/a&gt;&lt;span class="Apple-style-span" style="font-size: small;"&gt;, get on the &lt;/span&gt;&lt;a href=""&gt;&lt;span class="Apple-style-span" style="font-size: small;"&gt;Infobahn&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/a&gt;&lt;span class="Apple-style-span" style="font-size: small;"&gt; and download some "&lt;/span&gt;&lt;a href=""&gt;&lt;span class="Apple-style-span" style="font-size: small;"&gt;talkies&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/a&gt;&lt;span class="Apple-style-span" style="font-size: small;"&gt;".  &lt;/span&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div class="blogger-post-footer"&gt;&lt;img width='1' height='1' src=''/&gt;&lt;/div&gt;</content>

by James Enck at April 06, 2009 08:01 PM

The pipe giveth, and the pipe taketh away

&lt;a href=""&gt;My last rant&lt;/a&gt; consciously avoided the symmetrical/asymmetrical connection issue, mainly because it raises my blood pressure to dangerous levels. But the tireless Om has written a &lt;a href=""&gt;nice piece&lt;/a&gt; on the issue, and I would like to share the pain. &lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;I'm on a &lt;a href=""&gt;Virgin Media&lt;/a&gt; 10Mbps package, with which I'm very happy on the whole. It is very reliable, and I often get my nominal download speed, and quizzically sometimes higher. I guess it doesn't hurt that if I scan the neighborhood for Wi-Fi routers, I get a lot of BT and Sky SSIDs, suggesting that the contention levels on my node may be low because DSL seems to have won battle for the block. &lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;In any event, the nominal upload speed on my package is 512kbps, making for a 20:1 asymmetry between download and upload. I have a &lt;a href=""&gt;JungleDisk&lt;/a&gt; account, and it's a great service, but my quick and dirty calculation is that my music collection, as it stands now, would take 22 days to back up to the cloud. &lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/div&gt;&lt;div&gt;That's painful enough to convince me not to even try, but perhaps I should, because this situation will only worsen as the asymmetry gap widens. Virgin's new 50Mbps package has an upload of 1.5Mbps, or an asymmetry of 33:1. So the consumer has a vastly enhanced capacity to acquire content, but backing it up via the wonder of cloud storage becomes disproportionately more painful, because the rate at which content can be acquired expands faster and in greater increments than the upload. &lt;/div&gt;&lt;div class="blogger-post-footer"&gt;&lt;img width='1' height='1' src=''/&gt;&lt;/div&gt;</content>

by James Enck at April 06, 2009 08:01 PM

Take the U.S. broadband census, wherever you are

One of the email discussion lists I subscribe to has seen some coverage of &lt;a href=""&gt;this site&lt;/a&gt;, which claims to be collecting data on US broadband speeds, to what end I know not. Based on what I've seen, I only hope that the data they harvest is not employed in any sort of lobbying or policy-making initiatives. Here's why.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;a href=""&gt;Initially&lt;/a&gt; it makes some credible-sounding statements about the role of broadband in American society:&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;"&lt;span class="Apple-style-span" style="font-style: italic;"&gt;More and more Americans depend on high-speed internet service for education, commerce and entertainment. Broadband is the gateway to the information superhighway&lt;/span&gt;."&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Hey, 10 bonus points for using "information superhighway" from the get-go!&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;It continues:&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;"&lt;span class="Apple-style-span" style="font-style: italic;"&gt; is dedicated to providing the most comprehensive public and transparent collection of data about local broadband speeds, prices, availability, reliability and competition. You can help us fill the broadband data gap by Taking the Broadband Census&lt;/span&gt;."&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Sounds good, happy to help. How else can I &lt;a href=""&gt;get involved&lt;/a&gt;? Maybe I should join the research committee, after all:&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;"&lt;span class="Apple-style-span" style="font-style: italic;"&gt;The Research Committee will help the Broadband Census' efforts to map out broadband availability, speed, competition and price in an empirically sound fashio&lt;/span&gt;n."&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;I like what I'm hearing. So, feeling patriotic, and in the spirit of courteous driving on the information superhighway, I took the test - twice, once claiming to be a Comcast customer, once as an AT&amp;amp;T customer (selecting "fiber" just for laughs). Here are my results:&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;p style="font-style: italic;"&gt;Thank you for taking the Broadband Census. Your input is appreciated. It will help educate broadband consumers all over the country.&lt;/p&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;p style="font-style: italic;"&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Promised Downstream Speeds:&lt;/strong&gt; NA&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p style="font-style: italic;"&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Actual Downstream Speeds:&lt;/strong&gt; 3.75299 Mbps&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p style="font-style: italic;"&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Promised Upstream Speeds:&lt;/strong&gt; NA&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p style="font-style: italic;"&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Actual Upstream Speeds:&lt;/strong&gt; 0.444 Mbps&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p style="font-style: italic;"&gt;Go to your ZIP code: &lt;a href=""&gt;38117&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p style="font-style: italic;"&gt;Go to your provider's page: &lt;a href=""&gt;Comcast&lt;/a&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/p&gt;&lt;p style="font-style: italic;"&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/p&gt;&lt;p style="font-style: italic;"&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Promised Downstream Speeds:&lt;/strong&gt; NA&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p style="font-style: italic;"&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Actual Downstream Speeds:&lt;/strong&gt; 4.33679 Mbps&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p style="font-style: italic;"&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Promised Upstream Speeds:&lt;/strong&gt; NA&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p style="font-style: italic;"&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Actual Upstream Speeds:&lt;/strong&gt; 0.476 Mbps&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p style="font-style: italic;"&gt;Go to your ZIP code: &lt;a href=""&gt;38117&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p style="font-style: italic;"&gt;Go to your provider's page: &lt;a href=""&gt;AT&amp;amp;T&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p&gt;&lt;p&gt;It looks like the data might go straight onto the site with no mediation. I checked out the &lt;a href=""&gt;38117 ZIP code page&lt;/a&gt; after my test, and there was only one result from an AT&amp;amp;T user, who had given the service four stars - the rating I gave it in my second test. I have to assume this was my response. I could repeat the test to confirm, but I'm getting bored now.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/p&gt;&lt;p&gt;There are huge problems here. I am in the UK, which is where I took part in the U.S. "census". As the speed test requires no identity assertion, and clearly does not exclude non-US IP addresses from taking part, I would assume that anyone can submit as many bogus entries as they want to, from anywhere in the world. Not that I would ever suggest or endorse such behavior...&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/p&gt;&lt;p&gt;UPDATE: Despite what I initially wrote and pathetic as it may seem, I actually did subsequently go back and take the test for a third time, claiming to be an AT&amp;amp;T subscriber again, but this time giving the service only one star. At this writing, the 38117 ZIP code page contains only two ratings for AT&amp;amp;T - a four star, and a one star, leading me to the inescapable conclusion that both of these results were generated by my bogus entries, taken at face value, despite coming from a legacy &lt;a href=""&gt;;/a&gt; IP address, which various free analytics tools clearly identify as being based in London. A for intentions, F for execution.&lt;/p&gt;&lt;p&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/p&gt;&lt;div class="blogger-post-footer"&gt;&lt;img width='1' height='1' src=''/&gt;&lt;/div&gt;</content>

by James Enck at April 06, 2009 08:00 PM

The Register

Next iPhone to make you a film editor?

Video secrets of the lost .pngs

Rumors of new iPhone capabilities are coming hot and heavy, and we're still two months away from the device's rumored release window.…

Whitepaper - Email as Evidence

April 06, 2009 07:41 PM

Phd Comics

04/06/09 PHD comic: 'If TV Science was more like REAL Science'

Piled Higher & Deeper by Jorge Cham
title: "If TV Science was more like REAL Science" - originally published 4/6/2009

For the latest news in PHD Comics, CLICK HERE!

April 06, 2009 07:40 PM


Perth Intl/Belmo, AUSTRALIA Weather :: 19C Fair

fairFair 19°C

Wind Speed:
16 KMH
Wind Direction:
ENE (070°)
1021 mb
Heat Index:
Wind Chill:
11 km

April 06, 2009 07:30 PM


Firefox 3.6 Will Focus on Desktop Web Apps, Speed, and No-Restart Extension Installation [Beta Beat]

Firefox 3.5 isn't set to release until June, but that doesn't mean Mozilla isn't already looking ahead to the next release. Weblog Mozilla Links reports that Firefox 3.6 is already in the works, and the developers are focusing on performance, extension installation that doesn't require a restart (god-send!), improved file-uploading (à la the previously mentioned Dragdropupload extension), and an option to convert web applications to desktop apps. We've seen the last feature in Google Chrome, and the functionality has been available for some time via Prism, but integration seems like a good idea if they want to keep up with the Chromeses. Got any features you'd kill to see in Firefox 3.6? Let's hear it in the comments.

by Adam Pash at April 06, 2009 07:30 PM

The Register

VMware wheels and deals on server virtualization

Guaranteed savings or services are free

The low-hanging fruit for server virtualization - customers who already knew they needed it on their x64 iron whether the economy was in good shape or bad - must be starting to dry up as the competition among virtualization-hypervisor providers heats up.…

Whitepaper - Accelerating virtualised environments

April 06, 2009 07:14 PM


Use the Snowflake Method to Whittle Down Debt [Debt]

If you're looking to shave down your debt, the "snowflake" method helps you relentlessly whittle your debt away with prioritized micro-payments. Photo by active metabolite.

What is snowflaking? First a point of reference. "Snowballing" is a popular method of paying off debt championed by financial adviser Dave Ramsey, where the payments from debts you've finished paying off are rolling into the payments for the next debt on your list, creating an ever-growing pool of money to rapidly pay down debt. Many people have found the snowball method effective at helping them get out from overwhelming debt and get a handle on their personal finances.

The snowflake method is a twist on the snowball method of debt repayment. In addition to ranking and downhill-paying your debts, you use micro-payments to accelerate the pay off. Every time you score a little extra money from anywhere—selling something on Craigslist, extra money from a side job, quarterly bonus at work, money left over in your budget at the end of the month—you immediately pay a little extra on the debt at the top of your list.

The debt snowflake method serves both a psychological and financial purpose. On the mental level, it encourages you to always be looking out for extra money and opportunities to pay down your debt and, by extension, curb expenses that prevent you from doing so. On the financial side of things, it makes sure that money freely floating outside your budget gets put to use immediately, and the frequent payments decrease the penalizing interest amounts. For more information about debt snowflaking, check out the full article below, and if you use debt snowflaking or a variation on it, make sure to tell us the pros and cons in the comments.

by Jason Fitzpatrick at April 06, 2009 07:00 PM

Boost Your Willpower by Brushing Your Teeth Wrong-handed [Mind Hacks]

Four months in, your New Year's Resolutions can be tough to keep up with. It might be time you employ a simple mind hack to re-up your willpower.

Photo by Yogi.

According to a study by Case Western Reserve University, small changes in habits (like brushing your teeth with the opposite hand) increases your stamina for focusing on tasks. We've seen this tip in various willpower-related posts before—like when the New York Times told us we could boost our willpower by eating the right foods—but we've never featured this simple mind hack. As Lifehacker AU points out, even if the toothbrush switch doesn't actually help your willpower, it couldn't hurt your dental health, as you may reach parts of your mouth you've been ignoring with your regular brushing technique. Everybody wins!

by Adam Pash at April 06, 2009 06:30 PM

The Register

PS3 back to haunt Wii in Japan

Zombies and Yakuza deliver March blow

New titles from Capcom and Sega helped Sony's Playstation 3 outsell the Nintendo Wii in Japan for the first time in 16 months, according Japanese magazine publisher Enterbrain.…

Whitepaper - Business intelligence for the mid-market

April 06, 2009 06:05 PM


Image Resizer Powertoy Clone Resizes Pictures Easily [Downloads]

Windows only: The Image Resizer Powertoy Clone adds an option to the Windows explorer context menu for quickly resizing pictures—without opening an image editor.

Using the utility couldn't be simpler—just right-click one or more pictures, select Resize Pictures, choose the resolution you want to resize the images to, and the newly resized images will show up alongside the originals—making this a very handy tool for quickly resizing images to share over email or instant message.

If this sounds familiar, it's because the utility is a clone of the previously mentioned Image Resizer Powertoy—but that one only worked on Windows XP, and only for 32-bit, but this one is both Vista and 64-bit friendly for your image resizing tasks.

The Image Resizer tool is both free and open source, available for Windows only. For more, check out the previously mentioned Bulk Image Resizer, or take a look at the top five image editing tools. Thanks, syndprod!

by The How-To Geek at April 06, 2009 06:00 PM

The Register

Cisco takes comfort in misery of others

Firesale buying spree is on

Cisco Systems is to go on a shopping spree, accelerating its company-acquisition efforts at a time when the Meltdown has depressed equity values worldwide.…

Whitepaper - Business intelligence for the mid-market

April 06, 2009 05:38 PM


ImHonest Labels Offer Advanced Lost and Found [Lost And Found]

ImHonest is a lost-and-found service with a clever spin on returning your valuables with a little incentive.

Photo by Paul Stamatiou.

To get this out of the way from the start: ImHonest isn't necessarily more effective than just dropping your own homemade labels on your gadgets and hoping that whoever finds your stuff does the right thing. What it does provide is some advanced recovery options. The service works like this:

You purchase ImHonest labels from the ImHonest web site ($15 for six labels) and place a label on every item you want to register with the lost-and-found service. Then you head to the web site and register each device and the unique ID code so ImHonest knows what device corresponds to which ID.

In the event that you lose your ImHonest registered gadget and some honest chap happens to come across it, they'll see the label with the reward incentive*, call up the number, and receive instructions for dropping off your gear at the nearest UPS store. ImHonest will email you asking you if you've lost the item that's being reported as lost, you confirm, and UPS magically sends the item back to your doorstep. (Don't get too excited—you're still paying the shipping.)

ImHonest seems like a solid service, though as I said above, it's not necessarily all that much more effective than your own homespun labels—or even your digitally signed portable media. If you've already got a solid method for getting your lost gear back from an honest stranger, let's hear it in the comments.

*Incidentally, the reward for your honest: Free labels from ImHonest. I think I'd be a little annoyed.

by Adam Pash at April 06, 2009 05:30 PM

The Register

Open-source .NET gets AJAX polish

Components punch

The open-source implementation of Microsoft's .NET development framework is getting some AJAX spit and polish from interface specialist Telerik.…

Whitepaper - The reference guide to data centre automation

April 06, 2009 05:23 PM

Jeremy Zawodny

Sponsor Our Ride For Diabetes (Tour de Cure 2009)

In early May, Kathleen and I will be participating it the Tour de Cure 2009, a bike ride to raise awareness and money for Diabetes. Craigslist (my employer) is sponsoring a team that we'll both be riding on. Collectively, our team is trying to raise $75,000 during this years ride.

If you have a few bucks to spare for a good cause, please consider sponsoring me or sponsoring my wife (or both!). It's for a very good cause.

We're both riding the 25 mile course and would love even a $1/mile contribution. As a bonus, Craigslist is matching all our donations. So if you donate $25, your contribution becomes $50 thanks to the company's generosity.

Here are links for a bit more information:

You can visit either of our pages to pledge on-line. And if you're interested in riding, visit our team page.

Thanks for any support you can offer!


April 06, 2009 05:10 PM


Sponsors: One Book A Day II

Our first One Book A Day week was so well-received that we're doing it again this week. Every day for seven days, starting today, will be sponsored by a different author or publisher, featuring a different book. We try to have something for everyone, so you'll see fiction and nonfiction in a variety of genres. And if you miss a day, no worries. The banners will remain above the comic strips in our archive for a full four weeks.

Posted by Bill on 4/6/2009 9:29:00 AM

April 06, 2009 05:03 PM

Unshelved strip for Monday, April 06, 2009

Our Sponsor
Unshelved comic strip for Monday, April 06, 2009

April 06, 2009 05:03 PM

The Register

Research spies holes in Fortune 1000 wireless nets

Frequency hopping. It's not a security protocol

Overlooked design weaknesses in a widely used type of wireless network are seriously jeopardizing the network security of the retailers and manufacturers that rely on them, a security expert has determined.…

Whitepaper - The reference guide to data centre automation

April 06, 2009 05:02 PM


Create a Faux Fisheye Effect in Photoshop [Photoshop Tip]

Fisheye lenses can create some pretty novel images, but buying one can break the bank. Check out this tutorial for mimicking the fisheye lens effect on the cheap using Photoshop.

For the unfamiliar, a fisheye lens is a lens with an extremely wide angle of view. For comparison, fisheye lenses have an angle of view of 180 degrees, but the fixed 50mm lens, a staple of basic photography, has only a 46-degree angle of view. Because of the huge angle of view, fisheye lens have a significant amount of distortion—normally a bad thing, but also an artistic result for some shots, and one of the reasons people use them in styled photos and videos.

Why recreate the effect in Photoshop instead of just using a fisheye lens? A fisheye lens for a DSLR from a no-name company will run you more than $300, and easily $700 and up from a respectable company. Unless you have a huge passion for fisheye photography or a pressing business need to take wide-angle, that kind of expenditure is outside the scope of most photography hobbyists.

Helen Bradley's tutorial on software fisheye effects requires just Photoshop, or the GIMP, and the patience to translate the steps to suit your photos. In most cases, you'll need multiple pictures of a single scene to replicate the wide angle of view you get with a fish eye lens. Using Photoshop, you stick the photos together, clean up the edges, and then use the distortion filters to bend the photo to your fisheye-loving will. For more details and a step by step walk through, check out the link below.

by Jason Fitzpatrick at April 06, 2009 05:00 PM

Jeremy Zawodny Link Blog

Message Queue Evaluation Notes

Message Queue Evaluation Notes: interesting stuff from the second life crew

April 06, 2009 04:46 PM


Install iTunes Without the Extra Bloat [Annoyances]

iPod-love's got you stuck with iTunes, but you'd prefer to cut down on the extra bloat iTunes requires on your hard drive? Here's how to install iTunes without QuickTime, Bonjour, or that pesky iTunesHelper.

Weblog gHacks points us toward a custom installer for iTunes 8 that installs iTunes only, leaving the bloat at the door. Since QuickTime is a requirement for playing media in iTunes, you'll still need to install QuickTime Alternative (one of our superior alternatives to crappy Windows software) and the QuickTime Alternative iTunes Compatability Add-on. (Note: The compatibility add-on claims to be for version 2.7 of QuickTime alternative, so you may want to stick with the 2.7 version instead of the current QuickTime Alternative 2.8.)

Before installing iTunes sans QuickTime and all the other bloat, you'll need to install each piece of software in this order: Install the lightweight QuickTime Alternative then the iTunes Compatibility Add-on, and finally, you're ready for iTunes on its own.

If your iPod is really the only component that keeps you tethered to iTunes, you've actually got plenty of options for adding music and movies to your iPod from any computer, including one of our favorite portable options, the previously mentioned Floola.

I had trouble getting this to work in my tests because my system already had a full iTunes install and I wasn't having much luck getting QuickTime proper to let go of my system, so if you give it a try, let's hear how it works for you in the comments.

by Adam Pash at April 06, 2009 04:30 PM

The Register

<cite>Wolverine</cite> leak claims first victim?

Fox News columnist reportedly up for chop

A journalist got himself into serious hot water over the weekend after he published a review of an illegally downloaded copy of X-Men Origins: Wolverine ahead of its 1 May release.…

Whitepaper - Accelerating virtualised environments

April 06, 2009 04:17 PM

3PAR F-class jumps into Clariion competition

Quad controller vs high-end dual controller arrays

Enterprise storage array supplier 3PAR has introduced a downsized T-Class system, the F-Class, to take on high-end dual controller modular storage arrays in enterprise data centres.…

Whitepaper - The reference guide to data centre automation

April 06, 2009 04:02 PM


Productivity Script Reminds You to Spend Time Wisely [Ubergeek]

Reader Robert writes in with his own excellent and ubergeeky method of staying productive—a script that pops up a reminder every so often asking whether you are spending your time wisely.

Once the script has been launched, it will ask you every 20 minutes to consider how you are spending your time, and ask you whether you want to continue—answering yes will start the timer over, otherwise the script will exit. At first glance it may sound annoying, but after using this script for a few hours I've already caught myself doing "research" on Wikipedia and goofing off on IM—this reminder is an excellent tool to keep you focused on productivity.

To install the script for your own use, open up notepad and create a new *.vbs file, and then paste in the following code. To launch the script, all you need to do is double-click on the file.

' Written by Robert Matusky ~~
' 2009-04-05

minutes = 20
seconds = minutes * 60
milliseconds = seconds * 1000

userContinue = msgBox ("Consider if this is really how I need to be spending my time. Continue?", vbYesNo + vbSystemModal )
yesVal = 6
if userContinue = yesVal then
Wscript.sleep milliseconds
end if
loop While userContinue = yesVal

Robert advises to create a shortcut to the file in your Windows startup programs folder so you won't forget to launch it. You can easily customize the message or change the reminder time to something other than 20 minutes—I gave my script a more stern and personalized warning. Great job, Robert!

Got your own ubergeeky, hacked together, and totally awesome productivity tricks? We'd love to hear about them! Send an email to tips [at] with "ubergeek" in the subject line, and we may just feature them here. For more, check out how to email yourself reminders from Launchy, or add a Gmail-like archive button to Outlook.

by The How-To Geek at April 06, 2009 04:00 PM

Tom Keating

Tweefind a new rank-based twitter search

tweefind-logo.jpgFellow VoIP blogger Luca has launched a new endeavor called Tweefind, which is a rank-based twitter search engine rather than a simply timeline search on keywords.

Luca explains:

How is the Tweerank calculated? Behind the scenes there is a sophisticated algorithm which analyzes how users use Twitter and calculates their rank accordingly. The rank is obtained taking into account a certain number of different parameters in a certain timeframe:

Luca explains that a twitter user's ranking can change daily, depending on how much they use twitter, and other variables. It's an interesting model. Read his post for more details.

I just tried it out on various keywords, including voip, skype, iPhone, and others. It's pretty fast. It must preload several pages of search results, because when I click the paginate/next page button at the bottom, it instantly loads. It appears to max out at 7 pages of results, so that may explain why it loads so fast.

Interestingly, there is no submit or 'Go' button to submit your search. You simply hit enter to submit. Still for people that are not keyboard-centric or don't know you can simply hit 'enter', a submit button would be nice.

It's too early to tell if I'll use this regularly, but I'll have to bookmark tweefind and try it out over the next few weeks to see how well it works vs. my usually twitter searching.

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  • TrackBacks |
    Tweefind a new rank-based twitter search
    Fellow VoIP blogger Luca has launched a new endeavor called Tweefind, which is a rank-based twitter search engine rather than a simply timeline search on keywords.

    Luca explains:

    How is the Tweerank calculated? Behind the scenes there is a sophisticated algorithm which analyzes how users use Twitter and calculates their rank accordingly. The rank is obtained taking into account a certain number of different parameters in a certain timeframe:

    • # followers
    • # following
    • # of tweets
    • # of RT he/she receives
    • # of replies
    • # of distinct users who reply
    • # of distinct users who retweet
    • # of RT he/she makes
    • # of links the user shares
    • much more...

    Luca explains that a twitter user's ranking can change daily, depending on how much they use twitter, and other variables. It's an interesting model. Read his post for more details.

    I just tried it out on various keywords, including voip, skype, iPhone, and others. It's pretty fast. It must preload several pages of search results, because when I click the paginate/next page button at the bottom, it instantly loads. It appears to max out at 7 pages of results, so that may explain why it loads so fast.

    Interestingly, there is no submit or 'Go' button to submit your search. You simply hit enter to submit. Still for people that are not keyboard-centric or don't know you can simply hit 'enter', a submit button would be nice.

    It's too early to tell if I'll use this regularly, but I'll have to bookmark tweefind and try it out over the next few weeks to see how well it works vs. my usually twitter searching.
    var disqus_url = ''; var disqus_title = document.getElementById('disqus_post_title').innerHTML; var disqus_message = document.getElementById('disqus_post_message').innerHTML; View the entire comment thread.

    April 06, 2009 03:48 PM

    The Register

    No FreeRunner follow-up, says OpenMoko

    Cuts staff, turns focus on secret Plan B

    OpenMoko, the company behind the open source FreeRunner handset, is giving up on creating a new version in favour of fixing the old one and working on a new secret project.…

    Whitepaper - Accelerating virtualised environments

    April 06, 2009 03:13 PM

    Swedes mash Japanese pop pineapple

    Malmö video shoot ends in human piña colada

    We're obliged to all of you who follow El Reg's world-beating improbable Swedish news for pointing us in the direction of the shock case of the Japanese pop pineapple who was over the weekend beaten and relieved of 20,000 kronor (£1,680-ish or ¥252,167) worth of camera kit.…

    Whitepaper - Business intelligence for the mid-market

    April 06, 2009 03:07 PM

    Sun shares sink as IBM deal breaks down

    Board splits into Schwartz and McNealy factions

    One quick way to make a few bucks this morning, if you happened to read the IT press over the weekend, is to short sell shares in Sun Microsystems, now that the rumoured acquisition of Sun by rival IBM seems to be unravelling.…

    Whitepaper - A practical guide to disaster recovery planning

    April 06, 2009 03:06 PM

    Next-gen iPhone to gain FM transmitter tech

    Courtesy of same chip that'll provide 802.11n Wi-Fi

    Will the next iPhone have built-in Griffin iTrip-style FM transmission tech? It certainly appears so - and 802.11n Wi-Fi into the bargain.…

    April 06, 2009 03:02 PM


    Rob Corddry on Getting Things Done as an Actor [Getting Things Done]

    Rob Corddry is probably the only actor you know who's down with Inbox Zero, Getting Things Done, and OmniFocus. He's also a pretty funny and honest interview. Read on for a look into his productivity-obsessed mind.

    Corddry grew up with his brother and fellow comedian Nate Corddry in Weymouth, Mass. He planned to study journalism at University of Massachussetts at Amherst, but found himself pulled into the theater program. After graduating, he did the hard-luck actor thing in New York City, but eventually made regular, paid appearances with acting troupes and the Upright Citizens Brigade improv group. The Daily Show eventually noticed his UCB work, asked him to audition, and he became a familiar, absurd presence on the fake news segment.

    Since leaving to pursue other acting work, Corddry's starred in a short-lived Fox series, The Winner; done character work in comedies like Old School and other Will Ferrell projects, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Arrested Development, and too many other places to mention; took a dramatic turn as Press Secretary Ari Fleischer in Oliver Stone's W., and currently writes, directs, and stars in The WB's web series Childrens' Hospital.

    Corddry was kind enough to let us trade emails with him and explain how his lives as both an actor and a productivity-minded geek meet up (or don't).

    Lifehacker: So, how much sarcasm was there in your interview with Geek magazine, where you said you loved life hacks and corporate efficiency culture? Can you have a heightened sense of irony and sarcasm and still get something out of, say, Upgrade Your Life or Getting Things Done?

    Rob Corddry: It only comes off like sarcasm because I'm so inarticulate. I was introduced to about two years ago and I have since become a GTD devotee, an "Inbox Zero" fanatic and an efficiency geek. I had no idea you people were even out there before. Previously, I would get all of my DIY suggestions from Real Simple magazine, which is not embarrassing at all. There's your sarcasm.

    At the time I gave that interview I was a little more into productivity for it's own sake. I loved playing with all of these applications and making lists and organizing shit. I've always been a "lists person" so it appealed to me but, at the time, I was being productive about productivity. Luckily I was in the middle of a writer's strike and had the time because it was definitely a worthwhile journey. Since giving that interview, I have learned to apply these corporate practices to my less-than-corporate lifestyle. I now understand that the most successful businesses are the most creative ones and that all of this productivity porn exists to serve that elusive "perfect idea", which is what my business (at least the writing and producing part) is all about, so all of this crap is suddenly relevant to me.

    You know who wants you to believe that you can't have a heightened sense of irony and still be organized? Messy ironists.

    Lifehacker: How does productivity tweaking fit into your schedule? We're assuming it's as random and hectic as any entertainment figure's day is.

    Rob Corddry: I like GTD because if I keep up with it and constantly tweak it to fit my particular career it truly creates a "mind like water" environment. I really do find that I have more ideas than before, and it's taught me that a truly prolific person is one that has many different ideas brewing at many different stages at all times. The randomness of my job is one of the most interesting things about it but that randomness feels less chaotic if I have all of that disparate clutter out of my head and categorized. And I think most people in entertainment would like you "regs" to feel like their days are hectic. Mostly it's boring.

    Lifehacker: What kind of tools, computer or otherwise, do you use to manage your time, connect to your fans, maintain an "internet presence" (love/hate that word).

    Rob Corddry: Mostly I use Omnifocus, which I discovered on your site. Like most tech geeks I have a system, my iCal, mail, Omnifocus and iPhone are all working together so that my time is managed appropriately. I don't know if I do have an "internet presence". I've been toying with getting a website or blog and I've gone so far as to buy all the relevant domains (except Check it out. Quite a mystery) but so far I've been happy with Twitter. It's the perfect joke-writing medium. If you need more than 140 characters then it's not worth it. And I read all of my replies. My fans are as annoying as I am.

    It's worth mentioning Chris Hardwick here. He's a tech-savvy comedian who has the ideal internet presence. I wish I was him. I might murder him and dress in his skin.

    Lifehacker: It definitely seems like you've got a work ethic, or at least seek out a lot of different work. So feel free to explain to us why film and TV talent are always late to the set. Is it a West coast, time-is-a-fluid-concept thing, or something else entirely?

    Rob Corddry: I'm ALWAYS on time. I would rather be called racist than compulsively late. I have a friend who is a very prominent producer/screenwriter and he is always late. I am convinced that it's a power thing with him. Another friend of mine is a multi-millionaire entrepreneur/businessman and he is also consistently late and flat out admits it's a power thing. I'm not really sure I understand the dynamic but I guess there is some power in having an entire room of people waiting on you. But yes, there is such a thing as West coast time. And the New York minute. I think Cyndi Lauper said it best when she said "Time after Time". Wait, what were we talking about... ?

    Lifehacker: You're the one-man band on the web series Children's Hospital for The WB—writing, starring, directing. How did that come about?

    Rob Corddry: It was, literally, GTD at work. I had the available brain-real-estate to make a connection or two and for an idea to present itself. I'm not saying CH is the "perfect idea" but it's a really good one, simple and easy to get: Grey's Anatomy in a Children's Hospital. That's less than 140 characters. I bet it took 141 characters to describe Nim's Island (I'm just assuming that's a terrible movie).

    Lifehacker: It's hard to pigeonhole you, looking at your CV—Ari Fleischer in W, romantic comedies, some light Nickelodeon stuff, and occasional returns to The Daily Show (see clip below). What are you looking for in a role?

    Rob Corddry: My stock answer to this is "I just want to do cool stuff". But I would be lying if I told you there wasn't at least a little strategy there. The less I'm pigeon-holed the more opportunities I will have. But there's probably some danger in being a little too undefined, right? I don't know. I think the real danger is in thinking about that stuff too much. I just want to do cool stuff.

    The Daily Show With Jon Stewart M - Th 11p / 10c
    Unemployment Report

    Lifehacker: What drives you nuts about technology, the web, or, uh, blogs?

    Rob Corddry: Well, on the internet, everyone truly is a critic. There's a guy who follows me on Twitter who critiques my every word and he is FICKLE. I find myself caring about what this one shut-in thinks. I hate the fact that he's probably going to read this and use it against me.

    I used to read comments about movies I've done and stuff but that will drive you nuts. I've learned that there is as much value in a criticism as there is in a compliment, that is to say, little.

    In terms of technology? Cut and Fucking paste was not something I enjoyed waiting two years for. And how about iPhone tethering?! I mean, can't we all get along!

    And what the balls is port-forwarding? I just want to set up my Slingbox.

    And how hard is it to sync a goddamn documents folder over three computers?! Is it really that hard? And don't you dare link to a bunch of solutions "after the jump". I will come through this screen right now and punch you in your happiness! Once I get a fully synced cloud of documents that actually works? I'm gonna make it rain...

    by Kevin Purdy at April 06, 2009 03:00 PM

    The Register

    Microsoft's Live Search to morph into Bing?

    Joins Kumo on runners and riders list

    Microsoft has trademarked “Bing” and registered .com and .net domain names, in a move that some are surmising could point to the new moniker for the company's Live Search brand.…

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    April 06, 2009 02:38 PM


    Healthy Menu Options Trick Your Mind into Ordering Fries [Diet]

    Why You Can't Trust Your Mind with Your Diet, Chapter 42: Researchers have found that college students were three times as likely to order French fries as a side-order if they had the option of salad.

    Photo by alisdair.

    Sounds strange, until you think about how your deep-down desires for the worst possible food play against your sense of self-satisfaction. Here's how the study, soon to be released in the Journal of Consumer Research, played out:

    ... College students were given one of two menus. One menu featured French fries, chicken nuggets and a baked potato; the other included those same items as well as a salad. The French fries, widely perceived as the least healthful option, were three times as popular with students selecting from the menu that had the salad as they were with the other group.

    One researcher suggests that once you see the salad, realize it's better for you and know that it's an option, your inner sense of self-satisfaction is triggered, and then ... you let yourself order fries, just because you were oh-so-smart enough to think about the salad, if only fleetingly.

    Or, at least, that's what's implied. Nobody could say for certain why this happens, but it's noted that those participants with the highest degrees of self-control, as measured by a standard test, were the weakest when it came to the potatoes-for-arugula switch-eroo. Need some tech-minded reinforcement against your mind's dirty menu tricks? Try our free tools for New Year's resolutions, which work all year 'round, and the similarly free list of fitness and diet program trackers.

    by Kevin Purdy at April 06, 2009 02:00 PM

    NanoCrowd Suggests Your Next Movie Based on Keyword Groups [Recommendations]

    It happens to the best of us. Confronted with the vastness of modern media, the hundreds of thousands of possible choices, you throw your hands in the air and say "What to watch?"

    Nanocrowd is a crowd-sourced movie selection tool. Similar to previously reviewed TasteKid, you give Nanocrowd the title of a movie you've already watched and enjoyed. Nanocrowd then suggests six NanoGenres, groupings of three key words related to the movie. I searched for Big Fish as seen in the screenshot above and selected the grouping of "Fantasy, Wondrous, Surreal" as my NanoGenre. Did NanoCrowd succeed at suggesting movies I'd enjoy?

    Its number one pick was The City of Lost Children a relatively obscure French movie released in 1995 that happens to be one of my favorite movies of all time. The rest of the 30 or so suggested movies were split evenly between movies I'd already seen—NanoCrowd has no way of knowing that of course—and movies I hadn't. Almost every movie listed I'd already seen, I'd watch again. If you give NanoCrowd a whirl, sound off in the comments below and tell us how accurate or inaccurate you find it.

    by Jason Fitzpatrick at April 06, 2009 01:30 PM

    The Register

    Old worm learns new Conficker tricks

    Collaborators or copycats?

    Proving imitation in the sincerest form of flattery, even in the world of malware creation, VXers have adapted a four-year old worm to exploit the vulnerability used by the Conficker superworm.…

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    April 06, 2009 01:25 PM

    Lawrence Lessig

    highly recommended: Fred on the President's gift to the Queen

    Fred von Lohmann has a fantastic essay on the complexity in knowing whether the President's gift to the Queen violated the law.

    Does anyone doubt it is time to begin a formal and serious discussion about how best to craft a copyright law for the 21st century? Does anyone think such a law should yield such ambiguity to such a simple question?

    April 06, 2009 01:00 PM


    SliderDock Puts Application Launchers in a Desktop Ring [Downloads]

    Windows only: Looking for a different kind of application launcher for your Windows desktop? SliderDock puts your app icons in an easy-sliding ring instead of a bottom-hugging dock, and can be customized to fit any theme.

    Unlike other popular Windows alternatives to the taskbar, like the previously mentioned (and popular) RocketDock or ObjectDock, SliderDock offers a kind of pop-on, jump-out functionality. That is, if you only want to use SliderDock for a certain subset of apps or file locations, you can hide it with a custom keyboard shortcut.

    The basic view is a ring on your desktop, one that doesn't require 3D hardware to move smoothly, and you can drag and drop icons to add or switch positions. You spin the ring with your mouse wheel or keyboard shortcuts, and can customize both of those keys, and most of SliderDock's look, from the options menus.

    Here's a quick video look at SliderDock in action:

    SliderDock is a free download for Windows systems only; requires the .NET 3.5 framework to run.

    by Kevin Purdy at April 06, 2009 01:00 PM

    The Register

    DARPA: Give us solar cells you can use to build stuff

    Robotic 'Power Skin' would also be Power Bone™

    US military brainiacs have notified the boffinry community that they need a new miracle material called "Power Skin", which would "harvest" energy from its surroundings and also be strong enough to make robots out of.…

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    April 06, 2009 12:58 PM

    Terry Pratchett cuts ribbon on Treacle Mine Road

    Somerset town honours Discworld

    Sir Terry Pratchett yesterday dropped in on a new Somerset housing estate where two roads have been named in honour of his Discworld novels.…

    Whitepaper - Email as Evidence

    April 06, 2009 12:39 PM

    Keeping up with the Zetta Joneses

    Store primary data in Zetta's cloud

    Start-up Zetta is offering cloud storage services for mid-sized enterprise's primary unstructured data. It provides multi-drive, multi-node and multi-component redundancy to counteract perceptions of cloud unreliability.…

    Whitepaper - Business intelligence for the mid-market

    April 06, 2009 12:37 PM


    LiveSlices Customizes IE8's Web Slices for Gmail and Other Sites [Webapps]

    If you're keen on Internet Explorer 8 but haven't quite gotten into the auto-updating "Web Slices," the LiveSlices site makes it super easy to track Gmail, RSS, Twitter and other feeds from a drop-down menu button.

    Normally, a web developer has to create a custom "Web Slice" for IE8 users, which basically creates a stylized RSS feed that can be glimpsed at from a drop-down item in the bookmarks toolbar or menu. LiveSlices saves Gmail, Twitter, Flickr, and most any site with an RSS feed the trouble by creating simple-to-install Web Slices for them. In some cases, like Gmail and Twitter, you'll have to provide your login credentials; LiveSlice's privacy policy simply states that your username and password is the only thing that will be transferred to a third party, like Google, to log in and grab Web Slice feed data.

    If you're using Internet Explorer 8 and want an alternative means of keeping up on your social updates, news sites, or your Gmail messages, LiveSlices looks like a worthwhile browse. You can install its Web Slices without registering, but signing up lets you save your slice settings across browsers.

    by Kevin Purdy at April 06, 2009 12:30 PM

    The Register

    BT does Italian Job on London traffic lights

    Boring contractors thrust 35,000 offline

    BT is still working to restore access to thousands of people and businesses in east London left offline when a tunnel borer cut through fibre cables and copper wire. The problem is also preventing Transport for London from managing its traffic lights.…

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    April 06, 2009 12:13 PM

    Crucial N125 64GB SSD netbook upgrade

    Expand your little laptop's storage capacity

    Review The de facto standard for netbook storage might now have become the hard disk, but that still leaves rather a lot of machines out there with solid-state drives, some fast, some slow, all low capacity, at least when compared to HDDs.…

    April 06, 2009 12:08 PM

    Symbian Foundation: A brand that wants to share and talk

    Holistic ecosystem awareness with crayons

    LogoWatch Holistic brand reconceptualisation has come to Symbian, or more accurately The Symbian Foundation, as the administrative rump of the British mobile software company is now known. Symbian still licenses Symbian OS, but since it has no engineers (1,000-odd development staff have joined new owner Nokia), Symbian was in need of a new look. Cue the joss sticks and the whalesong.…

    Whitepaper - The reference guide to data centre automation

    April 06, 2009 11:59 AM

    BBC goes live... over Wi-Fi

    Live TV airs for smartphones

    No telly in your office? No problem, because the BBC has launched a live TV service for smartphones.…

    Whitepaper - Accelerating virtualised environments

    April 06, 2009 11:54 AM

    Touchy Google wraps protective arm around Chrome EULA

    Rejects Slashdotter's musings as 'FUD'

    Google has clarified Chrome’s universal licensing terms after a user argued that the firm could limit an individual’s web browsing based on the content he or she viewed.…

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    April 06, 2009 11:41 AM

    Vatican researcher claims Templars worshipped Turin Shroud

    Pope's newspaper scoops Dan Brown for Easter

    The Vatican has pulled off its customary Holy Week stunt of outdoing The Da Vinci Code by publishing an article which claims the Knights Templar were the custodians of the Shroud of Turin for 100 years, and were accused of heresy for their pains.…

    Whitepaper - The reference guide to data centre automation

    April 06, 2009 11:39 AM

    Profs: Sex with oldies or youngsters will give you the clap

    Stay within 5 yrs of own age to avoid Cupid's measles

    In a finding sure to send ripples of fear through the showbiz world, profs in Florida have disclosed that having sex with people who are much older or younger than you increases your chances of catching a Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD).…

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    April 06, 2009 11:29 AM

    UK transport minister's website pwned

    Wrong kind of hats on the line

    The website of junior transport minister Paul Clarke was hacked over the weekend by apparently motiveless mischief-makers.…

    Whitepaper - Accelerating virtualised environments

    April 06, 2009 11:28 AM

    Dixons cuts off Norse to right base

    No word on cash rumours

    Dixons shares jumped nearly 12 per cent today on news that it has started cutting its Nordic stores and is considering a rights issue to speed the rest of the restructure.…

    April 06, 2009 11:22 AM


    PIM Hackers Boost Akonadi Into The Future

    This weekend the A-Team (Akonadi, not Amarok) gathered in KDAB's office in the heart of Berlin to push the Akonadi PIM storage database to the next level.

    On Friday afternoon, after everybody arrived, the meeting started with a series of presentations to get everybody on the same page with respect to progress in various parts of Akonadi.

    read more

    by sebas at April 06, 2009 11:14 AM


    Gordon Ramsay Demonstrates the Perfect Scrambled Egg Breakfast [Cooking]

    It's a two-for-one clip—proof that celebri-chef Gordon Ramsay isn't just a Fox-funded scream machine, and a four-minute demonstration of how to make rich, fluffy scrambled eggs on a non-rushed morning.

    Apologies for posting this right after the weekend is over, but Ramsay points out two bits of egg-cooking kitchen science worth noting:

    Whether or not you use Ramsay suggested additions of butter and crème fraîche to create a richer, smoother egg to drop onto oil-drizzled sourdough, his egg technique is worth a quick study. The star of Hell's Kitchen (both the instructional British and vein-bulging U.S. versions) says he tests out every fresh-faced chef in his kitchens by having them make scrambled eggs, and we tend to believe him.

    Care to counterpoint Ramsay's technique with your own Perfect Scrambled Egg recipe? By all means, drop it off in the comments.

    by Kevin Purdy at April 06, 2009 11:00 AM

    The Register

    WAN optimisation: the experts' view

    Advice and debate to improve business performance

    Regcast Clear some space in your diary for 2pm BST (9am EST) on 21 April, as The Register's expert panel tackle WAN optimisation in our next live and interactive Regcast.…

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    April 06, 2009 10:55 AM

    A Geeks Guide<sub>2</sub> ...Hacking

    40% off

    Reg Bookshop Geeks Guide 2 from Register BooksElectronic vandalism, government espionage, ITU hideouts, luminous hairstyles and the coolest body piercings; the Hollywood portrayal of the hacking scene is one we are all familiar with. However this common portrayal often skips the fact that hacking is an art – indeed it is the fine art of creative problem solving.…

    Whitepaper - Business intelligence for the mid-market

    April 06, 2009 10:46 AM

    SNIA embraces NAS and FCoE

    Ethernet bunk-up

    The SNIA (Storage Networking Industry Association) is bringing NAS (Network-Attached Storage) networking into its mainstream activities by expanding its IP Storage Forum into the Ethernet Storage Forum (ESF).…

    Whitepaper - Business intelligence for the mid-market

    April 06, 2009 10:31 AM

    MPs battle to save great British pub

    Death by taxation and cheap supermarket booze

    A cross-party alliance of over 200 MPs has joined a British Beer and Pub Association campaign to save the traditional British boozer from oblivion.…

    Whitepaper - Business intelligence for the mid-market

    April 06, 2009 10:17 AM

    Unannounced BlackBerry trio show up online

    Onyx, Magnum and Driftwood

    Specifications for three previously unannounced BlackBerry handsets have emerged online.…

    Whitepaper - Business intelligence for the mid-market

    April 06, 2009 10:12 AM

    Xiotech Emprise takes PowerNAPs

    Forty winks for 'street fight'

    Xiotech has added spin-down to its Emprise ISE storage arrays to save power.…

    Whitepaper - Email as Evidence

    April 06, 2009 10:10 AM

    Seth Godin

    What does better mean?

    &lt;p&gt;Are zippers better?&lt;/p&gt;&lt;p&gt;For years, I always wore jeans with a zipper. After all, zippers are better. They're faster and easier and they do what they're told. What an amazing invention! How did we survive without zippers?&lt;/p&gt;&lt;p&gt;Last year, just for kicks, I bought a pair of jeans with a button fly. Middle age crisis, I guess.&lt;/p&gt;&lt;p&gt;Now, that's all I wear. Buttons are better.&lt;/p&gt;&lt;p&gt;How can buttons be better? They're archaic. They take a long time. They're difficult.&lt;/p&gt;&lt;p&gt;Except that I like the way they look. And since I like them better, they are better.&lt;/p&gt;&lt;p&gt;This is a hard lesson for marketers, particularly technical marketers, to learn. You don't get to decide what's better. I do.&lt;/p&gt;&lt;p&gt;If you look at the decisions you've made about features, benefits, pricing, timing, hiring, etc., how many of them are obviously 'better' from your point of view, and how many people might disagree? There are very few markets where majority rule is the best way to grow.&lt;/p&gt;&lt;div class="feedflare"&gt; &lt;a href=""&gt;&lt;img src="" border="0"&gt;&lt;/img&gt;&lt;/a&gt; &lt;a href=""&gt;&lt;img src="" border="0"&gt;&lt;/img&gt;&lt;/a&gt; &lt;a href=""&gt;&lt;img src="" border="0"&gt;&lt;/img&gt;&lt;/a&gt; &lt;a href=""&gt;&lt;img src="" border="0"&gt;&lt;/img&gt;&lt;/a&gt; &lt;a href=""&gt;&lt;img src="" border="0"&gt;&lt;/img&gt;&lt;/a&gt; &lt;a href=""&gt;&lt;img src="" border="0"&gt;&lt;/img&gt;&lt;/a&gt; &lt;a href=""&gt;&lt;img src="" border="0"&gt;&lt;/img&gt;&lt;/a&gt; &lt;/div&gt;&lt;img src="" height="1" width="1"/&gt;</content>

    by Seth Godin at April 06, 2009 10:04 AM

    The Register

    EMC gets social to push storage

    LinkedIn, Facebook manipulated by heartless megacorp

    EMC's marketing department has had an epiphany - the PR efforts for its April 14th virtual event include a heavy dash of social networking.…

    Whitepaper - Business intelligence for the mid-market

    April 06, 2009 09:35 AM

    Pure Flip Mino HD pocket hi-def camcorder

    The YouTuber's favourite goes HD at last

    Review The pocket-sized Flip camcorder was one of the top tech toys of summer 2008, and it spawned a host of equally diminutive copycat products – not to mention our own compact camcorder round-up. The secret of the Flip’s success lay in its sheer simplicity. Unlike most digital cameras and camcorders, which are festooned with buttons and menus settings, the Flip just had one big button for recording video clips, and two additional buttons for playing and deleting files.…

    April 06, 2009 09:33 AM

    Boffins develop sight-free touchscreen phone dialler

    Make calls without looking at the screen

    Two Google engineers have answered Stevie Wonder’s recent plea for touchscreen phones to become more accessible to the blind and developed a sight-free phone dialling application for the Android platform.…

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    April 06, 2009 09:30 AM

    Drunk Swedish pastor woos Christians online

    'You look like a bearded lady'

    A Church of Sweden pastor faces possible expulsion from the ministry after drunkenly hitting a Christian online dating website and wooing women with chat-up lines such as "You look like a bearded lady".…

    Whitepaper - A practical guide to disaster recovery planning

    April 06, 2009 09:02 AM

    Failed Nork rocket bits straddle Japan

    Pyongyang claims of 'singing sat' success dismissed

    North Korea, as expected, launched a large multi-stage rocket at the weekend. Parts of the stack fell on either side of Japan. Pyongyang claims that a satellite was put into orbit: Japanese and US air-defence commanders have stated this is untrue.…

    Whitepaper - The reference guide to data centre automation

    April 06, 2009 09:01 AM

    Irish Blood Transfusion Service endorses <em>Dracula</em>

    Dublin book initiative with added Type O

    We're delighted to report that the Irish Blood Transfusion Service is giving its full support to Dublin's "One City, One Book" - an annual initiative "designed to encourage everyone in the city to read the same book during the month of April each year".…

    Whitepaper - Business intelligence for the mid-market

    April 06, 2009 08:56 AM

    Olympic cock-up knocks East London off Internet

    Diggers virtually level East End

    Businesses and customers in East London were still without internet and phone service this morning after Olympic contractors dug through a fibre optic cable.…

    Whitepaper - A practical guide to disaster recovery planning

    April 06, 2009 08:55 AM

    Jeremy Zawodny Link Blog

    FML: I put my AIM status on my Current iTunes song. It also does it for videos I don&#39;t know. I&#39;ve...

    FML: I put my AIM status on my Current iTunes song. It also does it for videos I don't know. I've...: excellent!

    April 06, 2009 08:23 AM


    Unshelved News: Two Sick Cartoonists

    We'd been looking forward to Emerald City Comic Con, Gene and I. Not only is it a great show that gets better every year, put on by one of our best friends, filled with cartoonists that we love and admire, but it's right in our backyard. That means it's easy and dirt cheap to exhibit at. No air travel. No hotels. No mailing merchandise. Just show up.

    And so of course Gene and I were sick as dogs this weekend.

    Jana did a great job minding the booth by herself for the second year in a row (in 2008 Gene and I were in the Northeast doing back-to-back speaking engagements) but as you can imagine we sell many more books when we, the actual creators, are there promoting our own work.

    Both of us managed to make in for an hour or so, pale and coughing, to take our kids shopping. And yes, I did get an awesome replica Star Trek communicator and phaser (with removable hand phaser) for myself. But what I really wanted to do was to be meeting our fans and selling our stuff. And that just didn't happen.

    If you came by looking for us and missed out, our immune systems send apologies for not being up for the job. Next year for sure.

    Posted by Bill on 4/6/2009 12:20:00 AM

    April 06, 2009 08:03 AM

    Jeff Waugh

    Slow motion sneeze as scare campaign art

    Awesome new ad from the South Australian Government that combines artfully executed slow motion video with some of the tell-tale signs of scare campaign advertising tactics…

    “There’s a lot of competition to get attention so you need to have a very stark message, a sharp message, and I think this ad, in a very short amount of time, gets the message across in a very graphic way.”

    – SA Health Minister, John Hill

    Click here to view the embedded video.

    by Jeff Waugh at April 06, 2009 07:17 AM

    The Register

    Workplace dispute laws change today

    Got beef?

    The way workplace disputes are handled will change from Monday. The Government's scrapping of the statutory grievance and disciplinary procedures is just one of the law changes that will come into effect on 6th April.…

    Whitepaper - The reference guide to data centre automation

    April 06, 2009 07:02 AM