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Recommended Reading: The Master Switch By Tim Wu

the master switch-200A few weeks ago I finished reading “The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires” by MIT Professor and outspoken network neutrality advocate Tim Wu. Professor Wu starts with a historical examination of various industries that he considers to be “information industries.” This starts with the telegraph, telephone, movies, radio and television before moving onward to consider the internet.

In each case he traces the evolution of the business, key innovations, notable rivalries, competitive pressures, corporate alliances and government involvement. Each little tale is entertaining and informative on its own, revealing something of the great men and companies of an earlier era.

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Streaming vs Screaming Media: USB 3.0 Tries My Patience

Clarity Monitor-220 Preface: This is a wee bit off topic, but I haven’t ranted in a while, and you may find it worthwhile in the end.

For many months I’ve been toying with the idea of using streaming video as an alternative to some of the training and demonstration activities that haunt me in my working life. Historically, sending staff and gear to some distant location was the primary means of selling the gear, or post-sale, conducting end-user training.

In the past year one of our more experienced sales staff has found that demonstration given by remote means can be very effective. Initially this was merely his response to having limited access to my time, but it’s also become a way for him to get ad hoc demo’s accomplished on very short notice.

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Revisiting Steve Song & The Village Telco

Village-Telco-Logo-200You may recall that some time ago we had Steve Song appear as a guest on a VUC call. At that time he was working for the Shuttleworth Foundation coordinating the Village Telco project.

The Village Telco project developed a low-cost hardware device intended to help deploy telephony to underserved parts of Africa. This device, called a Mesh Potato, is essentially a wifi access point with a built-in analog terminal adapter. Groups of Mesh Potatoes form a wifi mesh network. This supports the sharing of voice & internet resources at extremely low-cost compared to commercial solutions.

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Wrestling With a Definition Of “The Cloud”

For much of the past year I find that I’ve been struggling with putting some definition on “The Cloud.” This thought process began way back on November 5, 2010 when I hosted a VUC call that was a panel discussion intended to consider “The Cloud” in its many facets. That call featured a number of guests, each of whom had specific experience with cloud infrastructure, applications and services. Since that time I’ve been pondering what was said, and further, the evolving public perception of “The Cloud.”

cloud-comm-summit-4-logoSo it was that while attending ITExpo earlier in the month I found myself spending much of my time there in the sessions that comprised the CloudComm Summit 4. During those sessions I had the opportunity to pose some of my questions to the assembled experts. In some cases their answers were enlightening, in other cases they seemed to be puzzled about the very nature of the questions. Even so, all of this has helped to crystallize my own personal definition of The Cloud.

One of Microsoft’s more recent marketing programs made considerable mention of “reaching for the cloud,” presumably with respect to some common end-user applications. I can’t help but feel that such public representations are less than helpful, perhaps even a little misleading.

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The Fastmac USocket Revisited

FastMac-USocketSome time ago at Engadget there was a post reporting that Fastmac was about to start shipping their much delayed USocket. The USocket combines a normal wall electrical outlet with a DC power supply that feeds a pair of standard USB ports. Further, each port provides enough current to charge even heavy loads like Apple’s iPad.

I though that this device sounded like a great idea so I visited the companies web site and ordered four. That would let me put one at each night stand in the bedroom, one in my office and another in our TV room.

Near the end of January I placed the order then waited for delivery. In fact, I forgot about the order. When in mid-May I finally remembered that I had placed the order I filed a trouble report with Fastmac to inquire about its status.

The company literally never responded to my trouble report. Instead, they simply shipped the order. I did receive an email notice that the order had been both billed and shipped. Given their behavior I doubt that I’ll ever buy anything from them again.

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Telecom Continuity Strategies in the Cloud Era: SOHO Edition

As you likely heard on April 27th Northern Alabama suffered a spate of violent storms, including a number of large tornados. Many thousands of people were impacted, including long term loss of power and network connectivity. Digium was amongst the many, many businesses impacted by the events of the day.

I must commend Danny Windam, CEO of Digium, for making excellent use of the corporate blog to keep the Asterisk community informed about the companies operational status. Some time having elapsed since the unfortunate events of that day Digium has since returned to normal operations.

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