Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Wideband - It's Not Just Broadband Anymore

On April 3, Comcast launched its first Data Over Cable Service Interface Specifications (DOCSIS) 3.0 service roll-out in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul (Twin Cities) region. The company is currently offering up to 50 Megabits per second (Mbps) downloads and 5 Mbps uploads for $149.95 per month to residents and businesses in the region. Here's a quote from a Comcast press release:

“This announcement marks the beginning of the evolution from broadband to wideband,” said Mitch Bowling, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Comcast High-Speed Internet, Comcast Cable. “Wideband is the future and it’s coming fast. We believe wideband will usher-in a new era of speed and Internet innovation for today’s digital consumers.”

The use of the term "wideband" is interesting here because (in the way it is being used by Comcast) it represents a combination of higher bandwidth along with the types of converged services higher bandwidths allow. As video, high-speed Internet and digital phone services converge we'll start to see services converge and cross devices - the same Comcast press release mentions future applications like Universal Caller ID to the TV and PC, viewable voice mail and the ability to program DVRs remotely.

These applications are just a hint of things to come as downstream and upstream bandwidths continue to rise, prices per Mbps drop and application developers take advantage. Perhaps wideband provides a better description of where we're going.

For more on DOCSIS 3.0:

Read Show Notes and listen to Mike Q and my 34 minute technical Podcast titled The Next Generation Cable Network: DOCSIS 3.0 linked here.
Listen directly in your web browser by clicking here.
Podcasts also free on iTunes.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Microsoft Computer Online Forensic Evidence Extractor (COFEE)

An article today in the Seattle Times describes a forensic device Microsoft started distributing last June to over 2000 officers in 15 countries. The device, referred to as a COFEE (Computer Online Forensic Evidence Extractor) is a USB thumb-drive loaded with software used in forensic investigations. According to the Seattle Times article:

The device contains 150 commands that can dramatically cut the time it takes to gather digital evidence, which is becoming more important in real-world crime, as well as cybercrime. It can decrypt passwords and analyze a computer's Internet activity, as well as data stored in the computer.

It also eliminates the need to seize a computer itself, which typically involves disconnecting from a network, turning off the power and potentially losing data. Instead, the investigator can scan for evidence on site.

Microsoft COFEEs have been distributed to over 2000 officers in 15 countries including Poland, the Philippines, Germany, New Zealand and the United States.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Second Generation 3G iPhone To Be Released June 9?

PC World reported we can expect the "first of an impressive wave of new products" announced at the Apple Conference June 9-13 in San Francisco. Rumor has it one of those new products will be the second generation iPhone which will incorporate 3G technology.

I wrote last November about 3G technologies, AT&T's 3G build-out, and the iPhone:

3G technologies provide approximately 144 Kilo-bits per second (Kbps) to around 2.4 Mega-bits per second (Mbps) to mobile devices like cell phones and non-mobile devices like computers. For AT&T, 3G is a significant upgrade from the current EDGE network which, according to PCWorld, averages around 109 Kbps.

First generation iPhones run on the AT&T EDGE network. Here's more from the November blog entry:

EDGE is commonly referred to as "2.5G" or "2.75G" (between 2nd and 3rd generation) and has been the source of a lot of discussion with regards to the iPhone. Many questioned Apple's decision to go with AT&T/EDGE and have debated why Apple did not go with a 3G option for the iPhone. Steve Jobs has always said the decision to go with EDGE instead of 3G (on the first generation iPhone) was based on battery life.

According to PC World and Shaw Wu, an analyst with American Technology Research , Apple will not stop making the "2.5G" model but will upgrade the case and drop the price to between US$299 and $349, compared to the current $399.

Apple is also expected to announce an updated Mac laptop and new iPod versions.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Skyfire: Mobile Web Browsing For Your Cell Phone

I've become fairly dependent on using my iPhone to browse the web for directions, weather reports, restaurant look-ups, random web browsing, etc. The only thing that I find a little frustrating about browsing on the iPhone is the lack of Java support which will change this summer. Sun Microsystems has said they will release a Java Virtual Machine (JVM) for the iPhone OS, based on the Java Platform, Micro Edition.

What if you can't afford an iPhone, don't want one, are locked into a long term cellular contract, don't have AT&T Cellular service available in your area, etc, etc? You're pretty much stuck browsing the web using a mobile browser that's not very user friendly. A product called Skyfire should change that.

SkyfireLabs is a Mountain View, CA start-up (April 2006) that - according to their website - is creating a free, downloadable mobile web browser that makes browsing on your phone exactly like browsing on your PC. Now, you can use the web from your mobile phone with unprecedented speed and simplicity.

The Skyfire
browser supports full audio, video, images, dynamic Flash content, advanced Ajax, Java...... pretty much everything you can access from you PC..... on a Windows Mobile 5 or 6 phone as long as you are in the U.S. Here's a short video demonstrating the browser.

Availability for the second round is pending - according to the company blog:

At this point, we do not have a firm date for the launch of Beta 2. However, we know it will be sometime in Summer 2008. We can tell you with certainty that it will be worth the wait as we have many exciting new features in the works. For those of you in Beta 2, you will be notified by email as soon as we launch Beta 2. You will be invited to download Skyfire on a first signed up, first invited basis starting with sign-ups on March 2.

You can sign up for the second private round (Beta 2) of Skyfire here. If you do not have a Windows Mobile phone or live outside the U.S., you can still sign up and the company will let you know when there is a version for your phone or country.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Amazon Kindle First Impressions Podcast

Mike Q and I recorded "The Amazon Kindle First Impressions" last night. Below are the show note questions. You can listen directly by turning up your speakers and clicking here.

If you have iTunes installed you can get this one, listen to others, and subscribe to our podcasts by following this link. If you don't have iTunes and want to listen to other podcasts and read full sets of shownotes using your web browser, turn up your speakers and click here.

Intro and Show Questions

: Amazon launched the Kindle in the United States in November 2007. Demand for the Kindle has been high with long waiting lists. We finally got our hands on one and review the Kindle in this podcast.


Can you give us some basic specs on the Kindle?

What about external storage, battery life and ports or connectors?

Can you give us a quick overview on the Kindle controls - How do you use it?

How do you navigate?

How does the ruler work?

What's Whispernet?

How do you get content on the Kindle?

Can you get content from other sources?

What file formats does the kindle support?

Are there other ways to read pdf's?

Can you view pictures?

What else can you do?

I'm always reading things and making notes to include in blogs or other documents - is there a way to do this?

Is content on the kindle search-able?

How does the dictionary work?

What are some of the experimental extras - does it allow web browsing??

I've heard about a question ask and answer feature - can you describe that?

Can you play music on it?

Any other observations?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Community Colleges: Preparing Workforce

Last week, on April 16, I had the opportunity to attend Community College Day at the National Science Foundation (NSF). The NSF hosts this annual event in acknowledgment of the importance of community colleges to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education and the STEM "pipeline" to the workforce.

Each year the NSF invites a featured speaker with a community college background and Uri Treisman, professor of mathematics and executive director of the Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Texas at Austin, was invited last week. The Chronicle of Higher Education has an excellent writeup of Uri's keynote speach linked here.

Uri was studying landscape design and employed as a campus gardener at Los Angeles City College in the 1970's , when he stumbled upon a Calculus course lecture. The course instructor allowed Uri to sit in on the course during his lunch break. Uri changed his major and, as a math professor, has dedicated much of his professional life to helping minority students succeed in math courses.

There are tens of thousands of community college success stories like this - if you are not familiar with community colleges - here's some interesting stats from the American Association of Community Colleges website:

Number and Type of Colleges:
Total: 1,195
Public: 987

Independent: 177

Tribal: 31

Total: 11.5 million
Enrolled full time: 41%

Enrolled part time: 59%

Selected Demographics:
Average age: 29
Women: 60%

Men: 40%

Minorities: 35%

First generation to attend college: 39%

Single parents: 17%

Community College Students Constitute the Following Percentages of Undergraduates:
All U.S. undergraduates: 46%
First-time freshmen: 41%

Native American: 55%

Asian/Pacific Islander: 46%

Black: 46%

Hispanic: 55%

Employment Status:
Full-time students employed full time: 27%
Full-time students employed part time: 50%

Part-time students employed full time: 50%

Part-time students employed part time: 33%

What do I see when I take a quick look at these?

Almost half of all undergraduate students in the U.S. are community college students... Interpretation: If you are an employer, almost half of the people you hire with college experience will have attended a community college.

Almost 60% of current community college students attend college part time... Interpretation: They are likely working and paying their own way through school. As a result, they have a good understanding of commitment and know what it is like to work hard.

Many community college students work at least part time while going to college... Interpretation: They multi-task very well, juggling work, school, family, etc.

Many community college students are older, with an average age of 29... Interpretation: Community college students in general are more mature because they are older. Younger community college students are also typically more mature because they have been around older students in the classroom.

If your business is in the market for well prepared, hard working, intelligent, mature and committed people that can hit the ground running - don't forget your local community colleges.

To locate community colleges in your area, use the
AACC Community College Finder Site linked here.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Fairpoint Communications April 17 Investor Call Update

Last week I wrote about the April 17 Fairpoint Communications Investor call that was help last Thursday. The call was a long one, lasting 107 minutes (!). I've listened to it, looked at the slides, etc - here's the major technology and integration highlights I got from the call.

With the Verizon Northern States (Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont) acquisition, the company currently:

- Is the 8th largest local telephone company in the U.S.
- Operates in 18 states
- Serves 1,616,171 Voice Access Lines
- Serves 290,577 Broadband Lines that represent approximately an 18% penetration

Broadband penetration rates are currently low compared to peers and the company admits this. FairPoint penetration is 18% while peer average is 25%.

Fairpoint believes the
increased size, economies of scale and extensive network are expected to improve cost structure and enhance product capabilities and sees opportunities for revenue in four areas:

- Increased broadband availability and IP based services
- Buildout of IP / MPLS networks will support new services
- Broadband addressability will be expanded from 68% of access lines to over 90% within five years

- New product bundles
- The IP / MPLS network upgrade will provide flexible business platforms

- Increased focus on local sales and marketing
- New local and experienced sales force of 50 employees being deployed
- Significant DSL build-out will increase availability to all customers

- Strong focus on business segment

I've listed on only some of the technology components and integration issues here - there is also a lot of good business & financial information for investors and Fairpoint employees.

You can download the full set of slides, listen to the audio presentation, and watch the webcast for detail information. All content can be accessed here.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Randy Pausch: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams

"We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand" - Randy Pausch

Maybe you've heard of Randy Pausch - he's a 47 year old Carnegie Mellon Computer Science Professor and founder of the Alice software project. In September 2006, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and on September 18, 2007, after learning the cancer had spread, Randy gave his last lecture at Carnegie Mellon, titled "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams".

According to his Wikipedia entry, the talk was modeled after an ongoing series of lectures where top academics are asked to think deeply about what matters to them, and then give a hypothetical "final talk," i.e., "what wisdom would you try to impart to the world if you knew it was your last chance?"

I've linked the video below where Randy discusses his childhood dreams, enabling the dreams of others and lessons learned. It's 76 minutes long and worth every single second of watching.

In addition to this video, maybe you caught the Diane Sawyer piece on ABC News last week. Also, Carnegie Mellon has put up a site on Randy's lecture here and Randy has just completed a book based on the lecture.

Randy is still alive and writing about his experience fighting pancreatic cancer here.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Fairpoint Teleconference on Purchase of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont on Thursday

Fairpoint Communications will be hosting a teleconference on Thursday, April 17, 2008 at 10:00 a.m. ET to discuss the Company's recently completed transaction in which FairPoint acquired Verizon Communications' landline and certain related operations in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.

Scheduled for the call from Fairpoint:

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Gene Johnson
President, Peter Nixon
Chief Financial Officer, John Crowley

According to a Fairpoint press release posted on Fox Business, a slide presentation will be made publicly available prior to the conference call in the "Presentations" section of their Investor Relations page linked here. This morning (Sunday, 4/13/08) the presentation had not been posted yet. The press release also says the call will allow ample time for a Q&A session.

Here's the live call in information:

Lines open at 9:50 a.m. on Thursday, April 17, 2008
Call in number: (888) 253-4456 (US/Canada) or (706) 643-3201 (international)
Request the FairPoint Communications call or Conference ID# 4335773

The teleconference will be recorded and made available if you cannot make the live call. Here's the replay information:

Number: (800) 642-1687
Confirmation code 43357737
Recording Availability: Thursday, April 17, 2008 at approximately 1:00 p.m. ET through Thursday, May 15, 2008 at 11:59 p.m.

In addition, an online Webcast replay will be available beginning at 1:00 p.m. ET on April 17, 2008 and will remain available for one year.

If you've been following my writing you know I have great concerns about the availability of broadband services in rural parts of the United States. This will be an interesting teleconference - I'll be listening and writing about it here.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Fiber Deployment Status in the U.S.

The FTTH Council has released an interesting report detailing broadband and fiber to the home deployment in the U.S. Here's some key information points from the report:

Current Status of U.S. Internet Use:

22% No Internet
17% Dial-up Only

61% Broadband (based on the 200 Kbps FCC broadband definition)

Fiber to the Home is being used for services such as television, Internet, telephone, security, and meter reading. Here's March 2008 U.S. data from the report:

11,763,000 FTTH Homes Passed
10,082,065 FTTH Homes Marketed
2,912,500 Homes Connected

Even though coverage is expanding, it is not evenly distributed:

In the U.S. in areas covered by Verizon or Tier 3 ILECS (representing about 1/3 of homes) 5.8% of homes are directly connected with fiber.
In the U.S. in areas covered by AT&T, Qwest or Tier 2 ILECS (representing about 2/3 of homes) 0.6% of homes are directly connected with fiber.

In North America Outside of the U.S., only 0.1% of homes are connected with fiber.

Regarding television (March 2008 data):

8,061,620 homes have been offered television over fiber 1,641,000 homes are currently subscribed to television over fiber

Higher speed data service have yet to be offered widely by providers (March 2008 data):

Only 17,021 homes offered 100Mbps Internet

The FTTH Council has been a strong advocate for 100 Mbps services, urging legislators and regulators to adopt a “100 Megabit Nation” policy and reduce barriers to next-generation broadband deployment.

The overall customer take rates are increasing in areas where FTTH services are being offered and providers are offering a variety of delivery technologies.

The biggest concern of some, including myself, is uneven distribution and the potential creation of a "broadband divide" with broadband "haves" and "have nots" in the U.S.

There is an excellent 32 page presentation from the FTTH Council titled North American FTTH/FTTP Deployment Status in PDF format linked here.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Unified Communications: Changing the Way We Work and Learn

It's been more than a couple of days since my last post - I was in Philadelphia for the American Association of Community Colleges Annual Convention. Great convention and always so good to reconnect with community college friends from around the country. We had a large National Science Foundation ATE Center contingency there with representation from 14 Centers along with the National Science Foundation.

At the conference, there was a lot of conversation about Web 2.0 applications and how they can be used in the classroom and workplace. I found myself often indirectly referring to an excellent Marketwire post titled
IBM Predicts Five Future Trends That Will Drive Unified Communications

The post lists five future trends predicted by IBM Lotus General Manager Mike Rhodin in his VoiceCon 2008 Conference keynote address. Here's what Rhodin says will increase demand for the fast-growing unified communications market and reshape the way businesses and workers communicate and collaborate worldwide:

1) The Virtual Workplace will become the rule. No need to leave the office. Just bring it along. Desk phones and desktop computers will gradually disappear, replaced by mobile devices, including laptops, that take on traditional office capabilities. Social networking tools and virtual world meeting experiences will simulate the feeling on being there in-person. Work models will be changed by expanded globalization and green business initiatives that reduce travel and encourage work at home.

2) Instant Messaging and other real-time collaboration tools will become the norm, bypassing e-mail. Just as e-mail became a business necessity, a new generation of workers has a new expectation for instant messaging (IM) as the preferred method of business interaction. This will fuel more rapid adoption of unified communications as traditional IM becomes the core extension point for multi-modal communications.

3) Beyond Phone Calls to Collaborative Business Processes. Companies will go beyond the initial capabilities of IM, like click-to-call and online presence, to deep integration with business processes and line-of-business applications, where they can realize the greatest benefit.

4) Interoperability and Open Standards will tear down proprietary walls across business and public domains. Corporate demand for interoperability and maturing of industry standards will force unified communications providers to embrace interoperability. Converged, aggregated, and rich presence will allow businesses and individuals to better find and reach the appropriate resources, removing inefficiencies from business processes and daily lives.

5) New meeting models will emerge. Hang up on routine, calendared conference calls. The definition of "meetings" will radically transform and become increasingly adhoc and instantaneous based on context and need. 3-D virtual world and gaming technologies will significantly influence online corporate meeting experiences to deliver more life-like experiences demanded by the next generation workers who will operate more efficiently in this familiar environment.

It's happening - this is where work is going and we must keep pace in our classrooms to properly prepare our students.

You can watch Mike Rhodin's keynote by clicking here and get more information on what he and the IBM Lotus group are doing at

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) Details Podcast

Mike Q and I recorded "
The Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) Details Podcast" last night. Below are the partial show notes. You can listen directly by turning up your speakers and clicking here.
If you have iTunes installed you can get this one, listen to others, and subscribe to our podcasts by following this link.
If you don't have iTunes and want to listen to other podcasts and read full sets of shownotes using your web browser, turn up your speakers and click here.

Partial Shownotes

Intro: Two weeks ago we gave an overview of IPv6. This week we take a look at some of the technical details for this protocol.

Mike: Gordon, a couple of weeks ago we discussed Ipv6 - can you give us a quick review - what's the difference between IPv4 and IPv6?
The most obvious distinguishing feature of IPv6 is its use of much larger addresses.......

Mike: It's not just to have more addresses though, is it?

It is important to remember that the decision to make the IPv6 address 128 bits in length was not so that every square inch of the Earth could have 4.3x10
20 addresses......

Mike: Is there a specific RFC for IPv6?

The IPv6 addressing architecture is described in
RFC 2373.....

Mike: I know there is some basic terminology associated with IPv6. Can you describe Nodes and Interfaces as they apply to IPv6?
node is any device that implements IPv6.......

Mike: How about some more IPv6 terminology - can you discuss Links, Neighbors, Link MTUs, and Link Layer Addresses?
link is the medium over which IPv6 is carried......

Mike: Can you give a brief ouline in address syntax?

For IPv6, the 128-bit address is divided along 16-bit boundaries.......

Mike: I know there are lost of zeros in IPv6 addresses - can you discribe zero compression notation?

Some types of addresses contain long sequences of zeros......

Mike: IPv4 addresses use subnet masks - do IPv6 addresses?
No - a subnet mask is not used for IPv6. Something called prefix length notation is supported.......

Mike: I know there are three basic types of IPv6 addresses - can you give a brief description of each?

– packet sent to a particular interface.......

Mike: What about broadcasting?
RFC 2373 does not define a broadcast address......

Mike: What about special addresses?

The following are special IPv6 addresses......

Mike: How is DNS handled?
Enhancements to the Domain Name System (DNS) for IPv6 are described in RFC 1886..... a

Mike: Can you discuss transition from IPv4 to IPv6?

Mechanisms for transitioning from IPv4 to IPv6 are defined in
RFC 1933.....

Mike: we've only touched on some of the IPv6 details - where can people get more information?
I'm hoping to run a session at our summer conference July 28 - 31 in Austin, TX - we've currently got faculty fellowships available to cover the cost of the conference. See for details.

References - Content for this academic podcast from Microsoft sources:

All Linked Documents at Microsoft Internet Protocol Version 6 (note: excellent and free online resources):

Understanding IPv6, Joseph Davies, Microsoft Press, 2002 ISBN: 0-7356-1245-5
Sample Chapter at:

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Can You Name a Living Scientist?

The April 7 issue of Business Week has an interesting piece in the BTW section titled Science? What's Science? The piece discusses a recent poll of 1,304 U.S. adults by Harris Interactive.

Here's some detail as reported by Business Week:

When the adults were asked to name the most influential roll models for today's youth:

31% picked entertainers (3% named Britney Spears)
19% named an athlete
0% picked a scientist

When asked to name a living scientist only 11% could with the most mentions going to Stephen Hawking. Business Week believes - because a Hawking character recently appeared on an episode of
The Simpsons - it may have helped.

3 of 4 adults admitted they do not have a good understanding of science but they would like their kids to do better.

8 of 10 adults believe science is not receiving the attention it deserves in school.

The Business Week piece comments this poll may explain why U.S. high schoolers ranked 16th out of 30 countries on standardized science exams.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Google Docs Goes Offline

Google Docs is one of my favorite Google applications - I use daily to write things like this blog. One big disadvantage is you need to be connected to the Internet to use it. Well - that has changed.

According to the Official Google Blog, posted yesterday...... starting today and over the coming weeks we're rolling out offline editing access to word processing documents to Google Docs users. You no longer need an Internet connection when inspiration strikes. Whether you're working on an airplane or in a cafe, you can automatically access all your docs on your own computer.

Here's a video from Google demonstrating how it works:

I'm actually now looking forward to my next flight!