Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Will U.S. Continue Broadband Slide Under Obama?

Since 2001, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States has moved from fourth in the world to fifteenth in broadband penetration. Not exactly bragging rights. Lot's of us have been out advocating for broadband reform and a new definition of broadband. Congress is working to determine what speed broadband should be defined as, whether taxpayer money should be invested in areas that do not have broadband access and whether existing slower networks should be subsidized for upgrades.Here's a summary from an article in today's Wall Street Journal:

Large cable operators are seeking to increase the FCC's definition of broadband download speed to about five megabits per second, about 6½ times as fast as the current definition, according to people familiar with the situation. Internet-service providers building out "unserved" regions, where service of that speed isn't available, would be given the full benefit of tax incentives or grants.

The big cable providers also want to target "underserved" areas, where there is only one broadband provider or the service isn't widely available. In those markets, companies would get incentives to build out next-generation services. The download speed that would qualify as next-generation would likely be in the range of 40 to 50 megabits per second, people involved in the discussions say.

I'm loving this right now but.... the smaller telcos don't like it - how come? Here's more from the Journal:

The cable plan would disadvantage phone companies, especially smaller ones whose digital-subscriber-line services are slower than cable modems. The Independent Telephone and Telecommunications Alliance, which represents midsize phone companies, is pushing for a slower broadband standard, in the range of 1.5 to three megabits per second. Curt Stamp, the group's president, says the federal largesse should be used to subsidize carrier investments in rural areas rather than to finance upgrades to their existing networks.

I've written in the past here frequently about our lack of a competitive broadband policy in this country. So..... cable companies pushing for higher speed broadband definitions and wanting to target "underserved" areas at speeds up to 50 megabits per second. Smaller telecos pushing for a new broadband definition that is about half of what the cable companies want. Here's a little more from the Wall Street Journal:

The Telecommunications Industry Association, which represents equipment makers, is pushing for a $25 billion grant program for Internet service providers. Under another proposal that is being discussed, grants could go to state and municipal authorities, which would build high-speed networks and then open them up to competing service providers. That would likely meet with considerable resistance from large carriers like Verizon Communications Inc., which have challenged attempts by local governments to build and operate their own wireless or high-speed fiber networks.

Cable companies, smaller telcos, big telcos and equipment manufacturers all lobbying and every day we continue to fall further behind the rest of the world. Obama will have his hands full trying to turn this one around - his transition team declined comment to the Journal.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

10 Random Thoughts On 12-24-08

Here's my thoughts for this week:

  1. Will 2009 be the last year of the mechanical hard drive ?
  2. Every year is some sort of a milestone but 2009 will be special - my 30 year college (UMass Amherst ) graduation anniversary and my oldest graduating from high school - time flies doesn't it?
  3. How long will it be before we are calling ADSL legacy technology?
  4. Still no word from Obama on who his FCC chairman will be.
  5. Let's see - a Patriots win combined with either a Miami or Baltimore loss means playoffs for New England.
  6. Will 2009 be the year of Android?
  7. Have you tried Chrome yet? You should.
  8. Can we crawl out of this economic meltdown? We always have and I believe we always will.
  9. My heart and prayers go out to a colleague and family who lost their 12 year old this past fall.
  10. Happy Holidays - wishing lots of enjoyment with family and friends.
  11. Number 11 because it is Christmas Eve - if you do nothing else today.... read Tom Friedman's December 23 NYT Column Time to Reboot America
Have fun. Take time. Be safe.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Digital TV: Goodbye Analog Snow, Hello Digital Losses

We don't have long to go until over-the-air analog television bites the dust, replaced with digital signaling on February 18. Watching televison the "old-fashioned" way (without cable) brings back fond memories of the aerial antenna on top of my parents house. I remember my Dad climbing up on the roof to move the antenna so we could watch Boston Bruins hockey games more clearly. It only took a few trips to the roof before we had one of those fancy motorized antennas with a controller on top of the set - no more roof climbing to redirect an antenna with one of those - just a twist of a dial......

Most of us have come a long way since those antenna days but there are still many in this country who watch television over-the-air. Realizing this, Congress did get out in front of the digital conversion a year and a half or so ago and starting offering $40 coupons (see www.dtv2009.gov ) consumers can use towards the purchase of a digital set top conversion box. Basically these boxes take the digital signal from the air and convert it to an analog signal that an analog TV can use.

Moving to digital has a lot of advantages including a 3:1 channel ratio - you'll have three digital channels for the equivalent of one single analog channel. It also frees up spectrum for new wireless communications services.

There are also some disadvantages though - most analog sets have 4:3 ratio screens while most digital programming is broadcast in wide screen format. This means analog set owners are going to see letterboxing - black bands at the top and bottom of screens. I think the biggest complaint though will be from those who live in areas where broadcast signals are weak.

Let's take a close look. Back when we were watching those Bruins hockey games we expected a snowy picture - if you're not sure what a snowy picture is - here's an 18 second analog transmission video I just shot:

A fuzzy/snowy picture with good audio - it's watchable and it is also listenable. Analog signals fade gracefully (as someone much smarter that me once said whose name I cannot remember). As signals get weaker the picture snows up but is still watchable. The audio is commonly good with weak audio signals - in fact you typically lose the picture before you lose the audio.

Digital transmissions are another story. Weaker signals will cause the picture to randomly lose pixels along with random pieces of audio. Here's a 20 second digital transmission video I just shot showing pixel and audio loss.

Pixel lose is scattered and occurs throughout the video and, if you missed it, audio is momentarily lost at around 5 seconds. Annoying and just about impossible for me to watch for more than a few minutes..... I'm changing the channel!

Over the air digital television is being pitched by many as a go-no-go service, with people saying you will either get the channel or you won't. From what I've seen this is not the case - there is an in between that is not very pleasant - those digital signals do not fade gracefully!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Getting Ready For The Snow

We're expecting a big snow storm today in Massachusetts. The college is closed so I'm home doing some work. I'm always amazed at how quiet the woods are right before a big storm - no birds chirping or flying around. Squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks - not sure where they are but probably just about where I am right now..... Stocked up at the grocery store this morning and looking forward to a nice meal this evening. Stove is full and kicking out some nice heat..... everything has slowed down..... it feels good.

Think I'd miss this if I moved someplace where it did not snow.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Some Interesting Facebook Statistics

Facebook keeps track of some interesting information on their statistics page:

  • More than 140 million active users
  • More than half of Facebook users are outside of college
  • The fastest growing demographic is those 25 years old and older
  • Average user has 100 friends on the site
  • 2.6 billion minutes are spent on Facebook each day (worldwide)
  • More than 13 million users update their statuses at least once each day
  • More than 2.5 million users become fans of Pages each day
  • More than 700 million photos uploaded to the site each month
  • More than 4 million videos uploaded each month
  • More than 15 million pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photos, etc.) shared each month
  • More than 2 million events created each month
  • More than 19 million active user groups exist on the site
  • More than 35 translations available on the site, with more than 60 in development
  • More than 70% of Facebook users are outside the United States
  • More than 660,000 developers and entrepreneurs from more than 180 countries
  • More than 52,000 applications currently available on Facebook Platform
  • 140 new applications added per day
  • More than 95% of Facebook members have used at least one application built on Facebook Platform
(Note: data from 12-18-08)

At current pace, Facebook is growing at around 600,000 users per day.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

10 Random Thoughts On 12-17-08

There's a Springfield, MA newspaper sports reporter by the name of Gary Brown who writes a weekly column titled "Hitting To All Fields". In the column he lists his random thoughts for the past week. I've always enjoyed Gary's writing and they say imitation is the best form of flattery..... If this format works - it may become a regular Wednesday thing for me:

Wondering who Obama will select as Kevin Martin's FCC chair replacement.

WHAT.... no Steve Jobs at MacWorld 2009 ?

And double WHAT.... no more Apple at MacWorld after 2009 ?

Wondering how those Walmart iPhones will sell.

Some are saying (myself included) broadband access is a human right. Others disagree.

Been hearing the term "social shopping" used this holiday season as if it is something new. Isn't it what we've always referred to as "word of mouth"?

Can the Patriots pull the playoffs off in the next couple of weeks?

It's been a disgusting political and financial week in our country - the rest of the world must be laughing pretty hard at us.

The Feb 18 Analog to Digital Mandated TV Conversion is looking like it might get messy for people who are still watching over-the-air. I'll be writing more on this soon.

Early this morning my blog passed the 100,000 visitor mark for 2008!!!

Happy Holidays and thanks for reading!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Your Web Privacy At Risk? Will You Be Phormed?

British Telecom has been testing an interesting product from a company called Phorm . Phorm is not a household name yet but it could rapidly become one. Here's a piece from Phorm's Wikipedia entry:

Phorm, formerly known as 121Media, is a digital technology company based in London, New York, and Moscow. The company drew attention when it announced it was in talks with several United KingdomISPs to deliver targeted advertising based on user browsing habits by using deep packet inspection. It is one of several companies developing behavioral targeting advertising systems, seeking deals with ISPs to enable them to analyse customers' websurfing habits in order to deliver targeted advertising
to them.

Phorm claims the product in trial, called Webwise, is designed to make the internet safer and more relevant to internet users. Webwise is offered free of charge to participating ISP partner customers and includes relevant advertising features and enhanced protection against online fraud. Webwise works by giving users a unique identification. User browser habits are observed and then ads are targeted based on user browsing habits. The company says that all collected information is completely anonymous and Phorm (along with anyone else) will never be aware of any users identity or what that individual users has browsed.

Will British Telecom move forward now that the trial is complete? Here's a quote from a ZDNet piece:

"The trial has now concluded and achieved its primary objective of testing all the elements necessary for a larger deployment, including the serving of small volumes of targeting advertising," said the company in a statement on Monday. "There will now be a period of joint analysis of the results. Following successful completion of analysis of both the trial results and of any changes required for expansion, BT's expectation is to move towards deployment."

Some in Europe are fighting - anti-Phorm campaigner Alexander Hanff is quoted in theZDNet piece:

"There's still pressure from the [European Commission] and the public that may mean BT doesn't deploy the system," said Hanff, who added that the Crown Prosecution Service is still considering whether to launch a prosecution against BT over two previous trials.

I pay for Internet access in my home and do not believe anyone should have access to my surfing habits except those I give it to. This stuff scares me.

For updates watch Hanff's blog linked here.

Friday, December 12, 2008

2009 - Lots of Bandwidth?

Yesterday, Comcast announced 50Mbps service in Baltimore, Chicago, Atlanta, and Fort Wayne, Indiana. The service is being offerred over upgraded DOCSIS 3.0 tiers and will initially cover only parts of the listed cities.

The company is offering two new residential tiers:

  • Extreme 50, offering up to 50 Mbps of downstream speed and up to 10 Mbps of upstream speed at $139.95/month.
  • Ultra, offering up to 22 Mbps of downstream speed and up to 5 Mbps of upstream speed at $62.95/month.
And two new business class tiers:
  • Deluxe, offering 50 Mbps / 10 Mbps tier for $189.95/month, which includes a full suite of features and support.
  • Premium, offering speeds up to 22 Mbps / 5 Mbps for only $99.95/month.
The company says they will complete upgrading these cities early next year and will continue to roll out high bandwidth (what Comcast is calling wideband ) services at a rapid pace.

With the cable companies rolling out these tier levels we should see the telcos (Verizon and AT&T especially) respond pretty quickly. If you are fortunate enough to live or work in an area where there is this kind of broadband competition 2009 should be a nice year - you'll be seeing some very nice service offerings as the cable companies and telcos go after your business.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Will Verizon Offer A Fiber To The Node Product In 2009?

Yesterday, AT&T president and chief executive of telecom operations John Stankey announced the company was on track to add its one millionth U-Verse TV subscriber sometime next week. Stankey also announced plans to make the service available to 17 million homes by the end of 2009. AT&T's U-verse Fiber To The Node (FTTN) implementation involves running fiber out to a neighborhood node and then completing the connection over a copper connection to provide voice, video and data services.

AT&T has spent considerably to develop FTTN technology and along the way has had a few false starts. Launched in 2006, Project Lightspeed (as U-verse was first called) was a $4.6 billion investment aimed to reach 19 million homes in 13 US states by 2008 using a combination of fiber optic and copper network technologies.

FTTN relies heavily on set-top box techology - you can't get the same amount of bandwidth out of a piece of copper that you can out of a piece of fiber. Bandwidth limitations are made up for using caching. Early boxes had low end 386-based processors and limited memory and storage capacity. Trials in Europe were not favorable and the company had to go back to the drawing board a few times. Costs rose - in May 2007 AT&T announced the capital expenditure of Project Lightspeed would increase from $4.6B to $6.5B and the number of homes passed would decrease to 18 million; down a million homes.

Fast forward to today - the company hung in there with the technology it looks like the bugs have been worked and they've got it scaling!

Around the same time in 2006 and in technical competition (not market since the telcom footprints do not overlap) Verizon decided to go with a Fiber To The Home (FTTH) implementation - what we know as FiOS. FiOS runs an optical fiber directly to a subscribers home to deliver voice, video and data services and I've seen total Verizon investment estimates for the product anywhere between $18 and $23 billion. Initial Verizon plans were to pass 3 million homes per year starting in 2006 until they reached approximately 60 percent of their 2006 customer footprint. Estimates have changed slightly with the Verizon sell-off of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont to Fairpoint Communications but you get the idea.

Why only 60% of the Verizon customer footprint? It's too expensive to run fiber to every home. I'm a perfect example - I live in a rural small town in Western Massachusetts. My house is on a private 1.5 mile road with copper from Verizon buried down the road along with another 300 plus feet buried under my driveway. There are only 7 homes on my road, all with at least 150 feet of buried copper between the road and the house. I'm guessing but I would say my neighborhood is pretty low on the FiOS list. As an alternative, Verizon is offering me ADSL but..... I'd like a little more data bandwidth and what about video services - you can't do that over ADSL.

My only real option - cable service from Comcast (which I love and probably not give up even if I had a choice). Verizon does not have a voice/video/data product they can even try to sell me unless I go with a Verizon/DirecTV option and put a satellite dish on my house. I don't really want to do that.

Back in June of this year I wrote an entry titled Will Verizon Put More Gas In The Fiber Engine? In that piece I questioned whether Verizon was considering FTTN technology to reach out into the more difficult areas and better compete with the cable companies and their aggressive DOCSIS 3.0 rollout plans. With this recent announcement by AT&T showing FTTN technology works and scales I don't see how Verizon can ignore an FTTN option in neighborhoods like mine.

I'm gonna stick my neck out on this one with my first prediction for 2009 - Verizon will announce an FTTN product sometime next year.

Don't Limit Access to Higher Education

My college president has written an excellent op-ed piece in BusinessWest, a Western Massachusetts news magazine. The piece discusses the critical importance of funding for public higher education and particularly for community colleges, in light of our current Massachusetts state budget crisis. Here the piece:

President of Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) in Springfield, MA

By most accounts, we are now entering the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Nationally, the signs abound: the loss of home value, the meltdown in the stock market, the rise in unemployment, collapse of the credit markets, and a record $1 trillion federal deficit.

As these dramatic changes reverberate through the economy, a college education becomes ever-more important to secure a decent paying job and enter a stable career; studies show the link between higher levels of educational attainment and higher average salaries. Furthermore, certain associate degrees such as those in nursing, allied health, computer science, and manufacturing, pay much greater dividends because jobs in these fields are in high demand.

In this environment, individuals are facing hard choices about where to commit to spend their money. Where to go to college and how to pay for higher education ranks among a family’s most important decisions.

One may choose between public and private colleges, with elite private colleges now costing — without room and board — upwards of $40,000 per year. Within the public sector, there are three options: university campuses, state colleges, and community colleges. In Massachusetts, average student charges per year without room and board for these three segments are:

  • $9,585 for the four UMass campuses;
  • $6,400 for the nine state colleges; and
  • $3,862 for the state’s 15 community colleges.
Since community colleges are the least expensive, they are becoming more and more popular as a way to stretch a family’s and student’s limited resources. And people are flocking to these local colleges. Fall 2008 figures show community colleges now dominate enrollment in the state with 89,000 students, compared with 46,928 at the four university campuses, and a total of 37,509 at the nine state college campuses.

This fall, community colleges statewide had an enrollment increase that averaged 5.3%, the largest jump of any segment. Although the Commonwealth’s community colleges offer only the first two years of a baccalaureate degree and a number of two-year career programs, the quality of instruction is superb. Consider that community colleges are teaching institutions with a focus on undergraduate students. Faculty are hired because of their knowledge and their ability to teach, not for research skills.

Springfield Technical Community College, for example, offers 60-plus career programs in business, health professions, computer science, and engineering technology. In addition, the college has a robust liberal arts curriculum leading to transfer to baccalaureate colleges throughout New England. Local private colleges — AIC, Elms, Bay Path, Western New England, and Springfield College — court STCC graduates through agreements that provide guaranteed scholarships for students with good grades.

Many STCC students also transfer to the public institutions, most notably UMass Amherst and Westfield State College.

So, for those worried about the economy and the future, community colleges continue to be the best deal in the state.

However, the current state budget deficit now threatens the accessibility and affordability of public higher education just when Massachusetts residents most need it.

Community colleges are the most lean and efficient segment of higher education, educating more students with less funding. They enroll more than half of public higher-education students, yet receive approximately one-quarter of state funding. Consequently, it will be more difficult for these institutions to absorb major funding cuts without affecting the quality of the education and resources so important to students and to our economic future.

Education is the economic driver for our state, producing the skilled and knowledgeable employees needed by business, schools, and industry — particularly the health care industry.

While cutting funding for education will save money in the very short term, it will represent a far greater loss for our citizens and our state.

Ira Rubenzahl is president of Springfield Technical Community College.

This article first appeared in BusinessWest Magazine, Springfield, Massachusetts and is directly linked here.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Some Interesting Wireless Device Development Platforms

Last month the Rutberg & Co. Wireless Industry Newsletter asked the question Will 2009 be the year of the mobile app? I've been watching the different mobile development platforms fairly closely because these applications offer some great teaching and learning potential in our classrooms and some excellent business opportunities for our entrepreneurial students. The Rutberg newsletter lists four different device platforms:

Most developers consider the iPhone SDK king right now - Apple currently provides the richest development environment along with marketing and the App store where developers can sell their applications.

Googles entry involves the Open Handset Alliance, a group of more than 30 technology and mobile companies that developed Android.

Ovi was launched in late summer 2007 by Nokia as a "personal dashboard" for Nokia smartphones.
The company has launched the BlackBerry Developer Zone with resources and information for developers.

Each site offers the equivalent of an SDK along with other developer tools, white papers, forums, videos, etc. The Rutberg newsletter says it well - Apple pioneered the offerings of a compelling data experience to customers, a useful development environment for developers, and a meaningful business model for constituents throughout the ecosystem. Android is furthering the industry shifts through greater levels of openness and broader levels of industry involvement. Ovi and Blackberry are right there in the mix too.

If you currently teach computer programming you should take a close look at each of these development platforms.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Ethernet To The Home Over Fiber - A PON Alternative?

Passive Optical Networks (PONs) have been getting a lot of attention here in the United States as companies like Verizon move to deliver voice, video and data services over optical fiber to homes. Mike Q and I even did a podcast detailing Verizon's Fiber to the Home (FTTH) PON configuration last May. In the United States we seem to believe PON technology is the best way to deliver signals over fiber to residences. This is not the case in Europe though. Lightwave.com has just posted a very interesting piece titled Active Ethernet FTTH offers PON alternative.

According to Lightwave.com,
hundreds of networks around the world—and particularly in Europe—use Ethernet switches to deliver high-speed voice, data, and video services to single-family homes and apartment complexes. One of the reasons, according to Lightwave, it has not caught on is because proponents of the technology have not come up with a universal name for the technology. One name that has taken limited hold is Active Ethernet, which clearly differentiates itself from passive PON technology. This term works for some but not others - according to Lightwave.com, not all implementations place the switches in the field; the Ethernet equipment can reside in the central office (CO), with a fiber running directly from the CO to each subscriber.

As a result, some companies, like Alcatel-Lucent use the term Active Ethernet to describe implementations where there are Ethernet switches in the field and Point-to-Point to describe an implementation that is directly connected over fiber without switches in the field. Other companies are using other terms - Cisco just uses Ethernet FTTH for all Ethernet over fiber configurations.

I've always been a fan of Ethernet and have believed most connections would eventually become Ethernet. It scales well and is easy to implement, configure and maintain.What's likely hurt it most in this country as a long distance option are switch power needs in the field for active implementations and the cost of direct connecting a piece of fiber from a home directly to a switch in the CO. For these reasons I suspect companies like Verizon have gone with a PON delivery configuration. But, is this only temporary? Cost differences between Ethernet and PON actually shrink as bandwidth per subscriber increases - here's more from the Lightwave.com piece:

Bandwidth levels of 20 Mbits/sec and greater generally require that the number of splits per PON shrink. This translates into more fibers in the field and more ports in the CO to service the same number of subscribers, making PON infrastructures look more like point-to-point when it comes to fibers deployed and CO ports.

Here's an interesting quote from Ian Hood, senior marketing manager at Cisco:

"What I see in the marketplace is that providers are putting in PON for I'll call it the low end of the market—best effort, small customers, small businesses, the less than 15 Mbits per customer kind of speeds. For their high-value customers and some of their businesses, they're going with an Ethernet solution, be it building-oriented or dedicated from the CO to get beyond the 25-Mbit realm. So you're seeing a hybrid approach basically in a lot of the new large city deployments."

Will PONs go the route of DSL in the United States and be looked back on some day as a temporary technology? Perhaps - the one big advantage Ethernet currently has over PON is it has the potential to deliver the highest potential bandwidth per subscriber. Here's another quote from Hood:

"If we can get the optics costs down and embed them along with the multiplexer into our Ethernet switches, then you can go beyond 100 megabits to gigabits to whatever you can run on a lambda at that kind of cost for the next evolution of speed."

Which technology will eventually dominate? Will another alternative to PON and Ethernet come along that is superior to both? Time will tell. Be sure to read the entire Lightwave.com piece linked here.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Digital Youth Research: Living and Learning with New Media

A couple weeks ago the latest study from Digital Youth Research titled Living and Learning with New Media: Summary of Findings from the Digital Youth Project was released. The study is the result of a three-year year collaborative project funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. As part of the study, research on how kids use digital media in their everyday lives was done at the University of Southern California and University of California, Berkeley. Over a three-year period, researchers interviewed more than 800 youth and young adults and conducted over 5000 hours of online observation.

If you’ve been around young people recently the results should be no big surprise to you - here’s a quote from the study:

They found that social network and video-sharing sites, online games, and gadgets such as iPods and mobile phones are now fixtures of youth culture. The research shows that today’s youth may be coming of age and struggling for autonomy and identity amid new worlds for communication, friendship, play, and self-expression.

There are a couple of major study findings:

Youth use online media to extend friendships and interests.

Kids are using online networks to extend the friendships that they navigate in the familiar contexts of school, religious organizations, sports, and other local activities. They can be “always on,” in constant contact with their friends through private communications like instant messaging or mobile phones, as well as in public ways through social network sites such as MySpace and Facebook.

Youth engage in peer-based, self-directed learning online.

In both friendship-driven and interest-driven online activity, youth create and navigate new forms of expression and rules for social behavior. By exploring new interests, tinkering, and “messing around” with new forms of media, they acquire various forms of technical and media literacy.

The report implications, along with how we can take advantage of them in our classrooms, are very interesting. They include:

Adults should facilitate young people’s engagement with digital media.

Contrary to adult perceptions, while hanging out online, youth are picking up basic social and technical skills they need to fully participate in contemporary society. Erecting barriers to participation deprives teens of access to these forms of learning.

Given the diversity of digital media, it is problematic to develop a standardized set of benchmarks against which to measure young people’s technical and new media literacy.

Friendship-driven and interest-driven online participation have very different kinds of social connotations. For example, whereas friendship-driven activities center upon peer culture, adult participation is more welcomed in the latter more “geeky” forms of learning. In addition, the content, behavior, and skills that youth value are highly variable depending on with which social groups they associate.

In interest-driven participation, adults have an important role to play.

Youth using new media often learn from their peers, not teachers or adults. Yet adults can still have tremendous influence in setting learning goals, particularly on the interest-driven side where adult hobbyists function as role models and more experienced peers.

To stay relevant in the 21st century, education institutions need to keep pace with the rapid changes introduced by digital media.

Youths’ participation in this networked world suggests new ways of thinking about the role of education.

The authors ask the following questions:

What would it mean to really exploit the potential of the learning opportunities available through online resources and networks?

What would it mean to reach beyond traditional education and civic institutions and enlist the help of others in young people’s learning?

And finally:

Rather than assuming that education is primarily about preparing for jobs and careers, they question what it would mean to think of it as a process guiding youths’ participation in public life more generally.

Let’s say you are a novice and want to give this stuff a try. People often ask me where to start. Here’s my short answer:
  1. Sign up for Facebook at www.facebook.com - it’s free.
  2. Once you sign up search for people you know – it’s easy and you will find some. Old college roommates, professors, childhood friends, etc. You will likely also find most of your students.
  3. Select some of the people you find and request their friendship in Facebook. Be sure to selec some experience users. Request my friendship if you want - just search my email address: gordonfsnyder@gmail.com
  4. Watch what your Facebook friends do. Facebook is a great content aggregator . You’ll see things like embedded YouTube videos, Twitter posts, blog entries, pictures, etc. Be sure to check your page at least once a day to start with.
  5. Build your Facebook page and start aggregating your own content – watch and learn from your Facebook friends.
If you are an educator, the study results are a must read. Powerful stuff that we can all take advantage of – inside and outside the classroom. Here’s how you can access the study results:

Two page summary linked

Study white paper linked

In addition a book based on the study is forthcoming from MIT Press titled Hanging Out, Messing Around, Geeking Out: Living and Learning with New Media. You can get more information on the book

Sunday, November 30, 2008

What Information Technology Services Do College Students Want?

The EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research (ECARS) has an excellent research study out titled The ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2008. ECARS mission is to foster better decision making by conducting and disseminating research and analysis about the role and implications of information technology in higher education. ECAR systematically addresses many of the challenges brought more sharply into focus by information technologies (IT).

Here's the study abstract:

This 2008 ECAR research study is a longitudinal extension of the 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007 ECAR studies of students and information technology. The study is based on quantitative data from a spring 2008 survey of 27,317 freshmen and seniors at 90 four-year institutions and eight two-year institutions; student focus groups that included input from 75 students at four institutions; and analysis of qualitative data from 5,877 written responses to open-ended questions. In addition to studying student ownership, experience, behaviors, preferences, and skills with respect to information technologies, the 2008 study also includes a special focus on student participation in social networking sites.

Key findings in the study focus on:
  • Mobility: Laptops and Internet-Capable Cell Phones
  • Computer and Internet Activities
  • IT Skills and Internet Literacy
  • IT in Courses
  • Instructor Use of IT in Courses
  • The Impact of IT in Courses
  • The Digital Divide
  • Social Networking Sites
The study does an excellent job describing how students are using information technology and more importantly what student information technology expectations are. Here's a few highlights I've summarized from the study:
  • Students expect IT services to be available when they need them.
  • Students actively use multiple modes of IT to communicate, socialize and stay connected with others.
  • Students perceive themselves as net savvy and choose mobile technologies and the use of visual media.
  • Students take advantage of web 2.0 technologies to express themselves in various ways on the Internet.
  • Students prefer learning environments where IT services are balanced with other learning activities including face-to-face interactivity with faculty and other students in the classroom.
I mark this one as a must read if you are involved in any way with higher ed instruction. ECARS has an excellent site dedicated to the study linked here.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

I'll be taking a couple of days off but before signing-off I wanted to pass along a Littleton, Colorado story you may have been following over the past couple of days....

According to an examiner.com story, at this time last year, Monique White and her husband Doug were living in a tiny motel room and looking for work, pining for the Thanksgivings of her childhood when dozens gathered for the holiday feast. The Whites had lost their long haul trucking business, Doug was working a temporary construction job and Monique was looking for a job. Topping it all off - on Thanksgiving day last year the window in their hotel room blew out and the room filled with snow.

Things improved a bit for the Whites this past year - Monique and Doug admit they are scraping by but both now have regular jobs and they've purchased a small town home in Littleton. Remembering last year Monique decided to post a two sentence ad on Craigslist, inviting less fortunate people over to their home for Thanksgiving dinner. Monique figured she may get a few responses..... she ended up getting hundreds. Some simply said thank you and others took her up on her offer. Here's more from the examiner:

....dozens replied. People laid off work. People with no family. People ashamed to bring their children to a charity Thanksgiving dinner at a soup kitchen.

Monique ended up with 32 requests to come over for dinner and others pitched in. According to the examiner White's boss heard what she was doing and said he'd pay for the food. A local hotel is bringing over tables and chairs. A professional magician in the area replied and offered to come perform for the kids. National media outlets have shuffled through the Whites' modest town house writing about the unusual offer.

The Whites will be making and serving four turkeys and six pumpkin pies this year. They say this may become a Thanksgiving tradition in their home.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Online Learning Report - Keeping Pace

Last month John Watson, Butch Gemin and Jennifer Ryan from Evergreen Consulting Associates released an interesting report titled Keeping Pace with K-12 Online Learning 2008. The report takes a look at K-12 online programs in the United States. Here's some highlights:
  • State-led programs and initiatives continue to be an important online learning option for students in many states.
  • As of fall 2008, 34 states offer state-led programs or initiatives that are designed, in most cases, to work with existing school districts to supplement course offerings for students.
  • Full-time online schools are a second common online learning option:
    • As of fall 2008 there are 21 states that have these types of schools.
    • They are often charter schools, although there are also some non-charter, district-run programs that are available to students across the state.
Most state-led programs are:
  • High school level, with some middle school,
  • Supplemental—providing one or more courses to students enrolled elsewhere, and
  • Funded primarily by separate state appropriations rather than the per-pupil funding formula.
Examples of state-led programs (which provide full courses, teachers, and student support) include:
  • The Florida Virtual School
  • The Illinois Virtual High School
  • The Michigan Virtual School
  • The Idaho Digital Learning Academy
  • The Georgia Virtual School
  • The Kentucky Virtual Schools, and
  • The Missouri Virtual Instruction Program.
Examples of state-led initiatives, which provide online resources, or serve as a central clearinghouse for online courses, include:
  • The Washington Digital Learning Commons
  • The Wyoming Switchboard Network
  • The Texas Virtual School Network, and
  • The Oregon Virtual School District.
The report is long (165 pages!) but a very interesting read. You can download a PDF of the full report here.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Broadband Growth In U.S. - 1.3 Million New Q3 2008 Customers

Leichtman Research Group, Inc. (LRG) has just published a short report that looks at the twenty largest telco and cable companies in the United States. These twenty companies represent 66.7 million (94% of U.S. market) customers. Here's a breakdown of some of the information in the report:

  • Cable companies have 36.5 million broadband subscribers.
  • Telephone companies have 30.2 million broadband subscribers.
  • The top cable companies added over 870,000 subscribers, representing 67% of the net broadband additions for the quarter versus the top telephone companies.
  • Overall, broadband additions in 3Q 2008 amounted to 61% of those in 3Q 2007 – with cable having 82% as many additions as a year ago, and Telcos 40.
  • The top cable broadband providers have a 55% share of the overall market, with a 6.3 million subscriber advantage over the top telephone companies.
Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman is quoted in the report:

Over the past two quarters the top cable providers accounted for 71% of the net broadband additions, adding over 900,000 more broadband subscribers than the top telcos. Cable’s recent success compared to the telcos should not necessarily be interpreted as consumers suddenly choosing cable’s speed advantage over that of the telcos' DSL service. It is more a function of the telcos' shift in focus towards higher value subscribers while cable has been consistent in marketing broadband as part of its nearly ubiquitously available Triple Play bundles.

The report includes a very nice chart that breaks down subscriber numbers for all 20 of the companies. You can view the online version and download a PDF here.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Green IT: The Next Big Thing

Wikipedia defines Green Computing as the study and practice of using computing resources efficiently. Modern IT systems rely upon a complicated mix of people, networks and hardware; as such, a green computing initiative must be systemic in nature, and address increasingly sophisticated problems. Elements of such as solution may comprise items such as end user satisfaction, management restructuring, regulatory compliance, disposal of electronic waste, telecommuting, virtualization of server resources, energy use, thin client solutions, and return on investment (ROI).

On Friday (November 14, 2008) I attended a Green IT (Information Technology) Summit in Plano, Texas. The Summit was held as part of the North Texas Regional Community College Technology Forum and was hosted by Collin College and the National Science Foundation funded Convergence Technology Center (CTC). The CTC is headquartered at Collin College in Frisco, Texas and has worked since 2004 to meet the growing regional need for skilled specialists in the area of convergence technology. The Center has done considerable work in the areas of curriculum development, professional development for high school and community college faculty, outreach to under-served populations, and mentoring colleges in the rapidly developing convergence technology field.

The CTC is currently expanding on this work to include “Green IT" and is developing online/hybrid curriculum, methods for under-represented polulation recruitment and retention, and the scaling of a Mentored College program to broaden the dissemination of convergence related degrees and certificates to an increased number of colleges around the country.

CTCpartners include El Centro College (El Centro), Dallas County Community College District; and the University of North Texas, Denton. In addition to its partners, the CTC is mentoring City College of San Francisco (CA), Orange Coast College (CA), Guilford Technical Community College (NC), Ohlone College (CA), Santa Ana College (CA) and Fox Valley Technical College (WI). Mentoring work has included:
  • Helping to build and refine advisory councils
  • Validating IT and IT related regional skills
  • Creating certificates and degrees using CTC defined curriculum as basis for new courses, and
  • Creating and implementing CT certificates
The Green IT Summit included a panel of IT industry executives discussing what Green IT is, what the workforce needs are and why it is so important. Technical sessions were focused on delivering distance education using new tools (Second Life, You Tube, Podcasting and other Web 2.0 based technologies) that our younger digital native students expect to find in modern classrooms.

EDS Fellow Charles E. Bess gave an excellent presentation at the conference titled The Greening of IT. Charles discussed where he and other EDS Fellows see Green IT going. To give you a taste - here's a piece from a seven part Green IT series on the EDS Next Big Thing Blog:

Economics are starting to play a major role, with the soaring costs of energy, penalties for e-waste, carbon credit trading and fiscal reporting moving these items on to the board agendas. Societal and environmental concerns are getting more media attention, and consumers are "voting with their wallets" to pay premiums for green products and
services. Political and legal issues are driving politicians and regulators to enact legislation to cap greenhouse gas emissions and set standards for IT equipment. Technology is also driving the demand for more and more information accessible through an exploding number of end user devices which creates increased demand for direct and indirect (e.g. battery chargers) energy consumption.

This past year I've had the opportunity to visit a number of colleges and have been encouraged by the numbers of science and math focused students that are interested specifically in Environmental Technology and Engineering. When I ask these students why they are so interested the answer (it's obvious if you have had the chance to talk with a high school student recently) is commonly centered around their desire to "fix" things like global warming, energy consumption and pollution. Green IT has not hit most of their radar screens yet but it will.

If you are at an academic institution looking to re-invigorate your IT and IT related programs, Green IT is something you should consider. The Convergence Technology Center is currently accepting applications from institutions that wish to become a mentored college. Ann Beheler, Helen Sullivan and Ann Blackman are doing excellent work and this is a great way to get started. You can get more information on the mentor program by clicking here.

You can see pictures I took at the Green IT Summit last Friday on my flickr page.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Marshall Goldsmith on Change

Marshall Goldsmith has a new book out titled What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. He also had a short piece in the August 25, 2008 edition of Business Week Magazine titled We’re All Entrepreneurs – Advice for the young that transcends age.

Marshall discusses the current time of uncertainty and, if we are going to be successful, how we all need to think and work like entrepreneurs. In the Business Week piece he gives the following advice to young people who are just entering the workplace:

  • It is tough out there and only going to get tougher.
  • Forget about (job) security.
  • Like it or not, even if you start out with a large corporation, you are going to be an entrepreneur.
  • Make peace with this reality and your life is going to be a lot better.
He also discusses how the West originally believed globalization would create a world where we would market our products to a worldwide audience and, in turn, buy products from other parts of the world for less money. Well, those things have happened. Now we are realizing that globalization also means people from all over the world are competing for our jobs. Here's more from Marshall's Business Week piece:

In many of the top engineering and science programs, almost no one has English as their first language - and yet they speak it fluently: That’s global competition.

Marshall goes on:

In an era of uncertainty, nothing can be taken for granted. Young people are going to have to develop skills and talents that make them globally competitive. And they are going to have to keep upgrading and changing their skills and talents to fit the needs of an ever-changing marketplace.

Goldsmith’s book is a recommended read and also available in electronic form as an audio book. There is also a Kindle version. You can check him out on the web at http://www.marshallgoldsmithlibrary.com

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Conversation with Pierre Thiry and James Jones from MPICT

The Mid-Pacific Information and Communications Technologies (MPICT) Center is a recently funded National Science Foundation (NSF) Advanced Technological Education (ATE) Regional Center hosted by City College of San Francisco (CCSF). MPICT's mission is to coordinate, promote and improve the quality and availability of ICT education in a region consisting of Northern California, Northern Nevada, Southern Oregon, Hawaii and the Pacific Territories. Current Regional Partners include: Ohlone College , Santa Rosa Junior College , Cabrillo College and Foothill College.

We've had a great relationship with Pierre, James and CCSF and were fortunate to get them on camera to talk about MPICT at the 2008 SAME-TEC Conference.

MPICT is off to a great start under the leadership and direction of Pierre and James. Contact them for more information at www.mpict.org


We have several interviews from SAME-TEC posted and you can get them different ways:

YouTube: Watch our YouTube Channel at: http://www.youtube.com/user/NatCtrTelecomTech

and Downloading: View streaming videos and download content using your web browser at: http://nctt.org/podcast

: If you have iTunes installed you can watch and listen to this one, watch and listen to others, and subscribe to our video and audio podcasts by following this link.

We're planning and looking forward to next years conference. Watch here, our center websites and SAME-TEC.ORG for 2009 Conference information and updates.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Microblogging Study Released

You're reading this so you may have noticed my Twitter feed over in the left column. Wikipedia defines Twitter as a free social networking and micro-blogging service that allows its users to send and read other users' updates (otherwise known as tweets), which are text-based posts of up to 140 characters in length.

One of my favorite "tweeters" is Laura Filton, Principal and Founder of Pistachio Consulting. According to her website, Laura Fitton is one of the first prominent “microbloggers,” with roughly 8,400 readers on Twitter. She specializes in connecting people to new ideas and innovations using all the tools of (what Laura calls) microsharing. Here's more from her site:

Brands and businesses are flocking to Twitter. Internal “enterprise 2.0″ microsharing can make your company run better. But most companies have little or no clear idea of how these tools really work, what they could accomplish or how to do so. At best, many efforts are shots in the dark. At worst, they’re squandering time, resources, opportunity and brand equity.

Laura recently released a report titled Enterprise Microsharing Tools Comparison - Nineteen Applications to Revolutionize Employee Effectiveness. In the report, she takes a look at 19 different microblogging applications and how they are being used for things like HR, Marketing and Sales, R&D, Innovation, Customer relations, etc. You can get online and PDF versions and more information on the report here: http://pistachioconsulting.com/services/research/.

You can find and follow Laura (@pistachio) on Twitter here: http://twitter.com/pistachio.

I don't tweet anywhere near as much as Laura but you can also find and follow me (@gsnyder) on Twitter here: http://twitter.com/gsnyder

Monday, November 10, 2008

OECD Statistics: U.S. Broadband Penetration Rate Still Low

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has released their June 2008 international broadband statistics. Here are some of the highlights:

The upgrade to fibre-based connections continues in the OECD. Fibre subscriptions comprise 9% of all broadband connections in the OECD (up from 8% in December 2007).

Fibre overtakes DSL/Cable in Korea and Japan and now accounts for 45% of all Japanese broadband subscriptions and 39% in Korea. Korea’s fibre penetration alone (12.2 per 100 inhabitants) is higher than total broadband penetration in 5 OECD countries.

The number of broadband subscribers in the OECD reached 251 million by June 2008, an increase of 14% from June 2007. This growth increased broadband penetration rates to 21.3 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants, up from 20% in December 2007.

Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, Sweden, Korea and Finland lead the OECD with broadband penetration well above the OECD average, each surpassing the 30 subscribers per 100 inhabitants threshold.

The strongest per-capita subscriber growth over the year was in Luxembourg and Germany. Each country added more than 5 subscribers per 100 inhabitants during the past year. On average, the OECD area increased 2.7 subscribers per 100 inhabitants over the year.

The United States is the largest broadband market in the OECD with 75 million subscribers. US broadband subscribers consistently represent 30% of all broadband connections in the OECD.

Even though the United States has the largest broadband market, our penetration rate continues to be low with a ranking of 15th in the world.

Find all international statistics on the OECD Broadband Portal linked here http://www.oecd.org/sti/ict/broadband

Sunday, November 9, 2008

WPA - Give It A Crack [Podcast Recorded Today]

German graduate students Erik Tews and Martin Beck have discovered an exploitable hole in WPA, a popular wireless encryption protocol. This week, Tews will present a paper on the topic at the PacSec conference in Tokyo. In this 32 minute and 50 second podcast Mike Qaissaunee and I discuss wireless network security and the newly discovered WPA hole.

Here's a list of questions asked during the podcast:

Where is the information for this podcast coming from?

Why is this important?

So, we've now got a security issue with WPA encryption! Before we get to WPA - can you give us a little background on wireless encryption?

So, the first attempt was WEP. Most devices still support it - why should we not use it?

So, that's not good. What did the IEEE do?

What else did the 802.11i group do - what was the second solution?

So, let me make sure I understand. Older wireless devices can be updated to support WPA which includes TKIP. Now, I've heard of WPA2 - what is that?

So, the new products support both but old products only support WPA. I think I've got it! What did Tews and Beck actually crack?

So the problem is with old devices that only support WPA and TKIP and not WPA and AES?

What is the problem with TKIP?

Now, didn't WEP use checksums this way?

The ars technica piece mentioned short packets are ideal - especially ARP broadcasts. Why?

Let me see if I understand, an attacker sniffs a packet, makes minor
modifications to affect the checksum, and checks the results by sending
the packet back to the access point.

So it is not something we should be worried about?

What can we do to protect our networks?

Can you describe rekeying?

Now, I've heard of this - you need to be careful. You don't want to enable rapid rekeying unless ALL of your clients support IEEE 802.1x and an authentication method (e.g. EAP-TLS) that supports key distribution.

So, let's get to the point here - WPA really is not broken?

Here's how you can get the answers:

To read show notes and listen to Mike Q and my 32 minute and 50 second podcast (Sept 2006) titled WPA - Give It A Crack , click here.

Listen to it directly in your web browser by clicking here.

If you have iTunes installed you can subscribe to our podcasts by clicking here.


Podcast Reference from ars technica: Battered, but not broken: understanding the WPA crack

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Learning From Some Really Impressive People

This week I gave a presentation in Bloomington, Minnesota at the Investigative Science and Law Enforcement Technology Initiative (ISLET) Criminal Justice Summit. ISLET, led by Principal Investigator Dr Carol Mathews from Century College, is a project funded by the National Science Foundation. Here’s some detail from the ISLET project website:

The ISLET Project has been initiated to equip peace officers with a better awareness and understanding of the scientific foundation underlying the various investigative sciences and technologies.

Through changes to the degree programs, the initiative provides today's law enforcement officer:
  • More focused investigative awareness
  • A mapping of learning objectives for investigation and chain of custody for evidence across the community
  • A comprehensive perspective of current law enforcement technological trends and expectations
  • Meeting the role/identity challenges as first line of defense, first responder, one who protects and serves the community.
Many of the attendees were practicing law enforcement people and many were wearing their badges and their guns. Lacking any criminal justice experience I did not know what to expect. Session topics included forensics, gang identification, terrorism, cyber-crime and homeland security. I was so impressed with what I heard and saw - the different ways IT and communications technologies are being used are extremely complex and technical. If you think law enforcement is a low tech field, you need to take a closer look.

I also had the opportunity to make some new friends and listen to some real “cop” stories. Thursday evening I spent a few hours with a number of law enforcement people including three sworn police officers – Rick, a police chief from a town in Minnesota; Lee, an officer from one of the larger cities in Minnesota; and Vanessa a community college criminal justice faculty member who recently came off duty as a patrol officer in a large Massachusetts city. Between the three of them I’m guessing there is between 60 and 70 years of combined duty. Listening to their stories and seeing their dedication, awareness and conviction to their work was something I won't forget. We also had more than a few laughs.

Some fascinating presentations, technology applications, stories and conversation with extremely dedicated and responsible people that put their lives on the line every day for all of us.

To learn more about the ISLET project:
  • Summary- an abstract of the project's purpose
  • Goals - the overall project goals
  • STEM Core - Science and Technology improvements are at the core of the initiative's purpose

Friday, November 7, 2008

Physics and My Blog in the Tampa Tribune

Blogjam cartoonist Greg Williams, who works for The Tampa Tribune and TBO.com, has taken a blog I wrote titled A Helicopter Parent at 30,000 Feet and produced it as a comic. Greg does some fun stuff with content based on contributions from readers, bloggers, and established writers and performers.

Here's the comic - you can click the image to see a high resolution version:
The online version is linked here and there's also a direct link. The comic will appear in print today in the entertainment section of Tampa Tribune.


Thursday, November 6, 2008

Vermont + Fairpoint = WiMax

Mike Q sent along a link from Information Week titled WiMax Coming To Remote Regions Of Vermont. The article describes how FairPoint, Nortel, and Airspan Networks are investing in building out the 3.65 GHZ spectrum to help spur the use of fixed WiMax in many regions of Vermont.

I've written here in the past about Verizon's sale earlier this year of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont networks to Fairpoint Communications. I've also written about a successful WiMAX implementation in Alaska and questioned the use of WiMax in rural areas to close the broadband divide.

Here's a couple of quotes from the Information Week article:

Nortel and Airspan Networks reported this week that they will supply 802.16d WiMax equipment for the Vermont deployment, which, because it will operate in the 3.65 GHz band, is unlicensed and relatively inexpensive. Scott Wickware, general manager of Nortel, said he believes the Vermont rollout is the largest 3.65 GHz WiMax scheduled for installation to date.

Noting that it is less expensive to use wireless in many regions, Nortel said the FCC's decision last year to approve the use of the 3.65 GHZ spectrum is helping spur the use of fixed WiMax in many regions that previously weren't able to obtain broadband technology.

The article quotes range of a few miles with up to 10 miles where signals have little or no interference and have no obstructions. Transmission bandwidths are quoted ranging from 1 Mbps to as much as 5 Mbps in some cases.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Minnesota Criminal Investigation Fall Summit Presentation

I gave a presentation on Podcasting today to a group of college faculty, administrators and law enforcement office at the Criminal Investigation Fall Summit ISLET (Investigative Sciences for Law Enforcement Technologies) in Bloomington, Minnesota.

The ISLET Initiative is an NSF funded project undertaken by Century College and its collaborators to deepen the science and technology skills of licensed Law Enforcement personnel. Here's an overview from the ISLET website:

With ever more sophisticated terrorism a threat to our nation's security, Century College has undertaken an effort to directly counter the increasing risk by arming law enforcement students and currently licensed professionals with updated scientific, technical, and investigative education and skills. The project is educating law enforcement personnel more deeply in investigative sciences and technologies, and to establish a regional source for curriculum planning, course development and delivery, faculty training, and information dissemination. Curriculum supporting a new two-year degree, new certifications, new continuing education modules, as well as articulation agreements with four-year institutions will be developed. Close collaboration with stakeholders, including the Peace Officers Standards & Training (POST) board will ensure new materials remainrelevant and in compliance with new and existing licensing

Here's the presentation posted on SlideShare:

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: criminal foundation)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

China and TOM-Skype Podcast Recorded Today

Today, Mike Qaissaunee and I recorded a podcast on TOM-Skype. Last month I blogged about a report titled BREACHING TRUST: An analysis of surveillance and security practices on China’s TOM-Skype platform. The report was published on Oct 1, 2008 Nart Villeneuve and the Information Warfare Monitor. Villeneuve is CTO of psiphon inc and the psiphon research fellow at the Citizen Lab, Munk Centre for International Studies, University of Toronto. In this 25 minute and 21 second podcast we discuss the report, confidentiality and security issues with TOM-Skype, the Chinese version of Skype.

Here's a list of questions asked during the podcast:

Can you tell us a little more about this report?

How about some background on Skype in China?

How about some details from the report?

You said these are publically accessible servers - can others besides the Chinese access these servers?

Can you review the major findings from the report?

What kinds of questions has the report raised?

How does the report say the sensorship actually works?

How about some detail on those servers?

The report claims it may be possbile to map users social networks using the logged information. Can you explain?

How has Skype responded?

Here's how you can get the answers:

To read show notes and listen to Mike Q and my 25 minute and 21 second podcast (Sept 2006) titled China and TOM-Skype, click here.

Listen to it directly in your web browser by clicking here.

If you have iTunes installed you can subscribe to our podcasts by clicking here.