Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Last End of Summer Haircut?

It’s that time of year in the academic world - stuck in limbo between summer work and the start of the fall semester. Good time to get some of the things I’ve had on my to-do list done like...... get my annual back to school haircut.

Well..... yesterday afternoon I went and the news was not good. I’ve been fighting the hair loss battle and it looks like the fight is just about over. The woman who cuts my hair gave me some bad news. That little patch of hair in front is getting smaller and smaller. It's not coming back.

My hair has served me well for the past 53 years but wondering now - could this be it? Is it time? Should I just get it over with and start buzzing it? Was yesterday my last "back to school" haircut?

It's not looking good.

We'll see what's left next time.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

New Pew Internet Study: Home Broadband 2010

On August 11, as part of the Pew Internet and American Life Project, the Pew Research Center published a new study titled Home Broadband 2010. According to the report, findings are based on data from telephone interviews conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International between April 29 and May 30, 2010, among a sample of 2,252 adults ages 18 and older, including 744 reached on a cell phone. Interviews were conducted in English.

Here’s some report highlights:

  • Two-thirds of American adults (66%) now have a broadband internet connection at home, a figure that is little changed from the 63% with a high-speed home connection at a similar point in 2009.
  • Most demographic groups experienced flat-to-modest broadband adoption growth over the last year. The notable exception to this trend came among African-Americans, who experienced 22% year-over-year broadband adoption growth.
    • In 2009 65% of whites and 46% of African-Americans were broadband users (a 19-point gap)
    • In 2010 67% of whites and 56% of African-Americans are broadband users (an 11-point gap)
  • By a 53%-41% margin, Americans say they do not believe that the spread of affordable broadband should be a major government priority.
  • Non-internet users are less likely than current users to say the government should place a high priority on the spread of high-speed connections.
  • A fifth of American adults (21%) do not use the internet. Many non-users think online content is not relevant to their lives and they are not confident they could use computers and navigate the web on their own.
This Pew report is concise, packed with good information and easy to read. You can download a PDF version here.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Back From 2.5 Weeks Of Vacation

I've been trying to get caught up on email over the weekend and hope to get a post up here tomorrow. Lots has been happing in the IT and Communications areas over the past few weeks while I was spending most of the time being a beach bum in Clearwater Beach, Florida.

The Gulf of Mexico was beautiful.

It will be nice to get back to the office tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Verizon, Google, the FCC and Real Net Neutrality?

So far Internet policy has stuck to something called net neutrality where no Internet content is favored over any other Internet content. This may be changing though. Last week a number of sources, including the New York Times, reported Verizon and Google were nearing an agreement that could allow Verizon to speed some online content to Internet users more quickly if the content’s creators are willing to pay for the privilege. Here’s more from the same New York Times piece:

The charges could be paid by companies, like YouTube, owned by Google, for example, to Verizon, one of the nation’s leading Internet service providers, to ensure that its content received priority as it made its way to consumers. The agreement could eventually lead to higher charges for Internet users.

Many (including myself) believe big companies paying providers to give their traffic priority would stifle innovative small companies...... the kind of company Google was not that long ago. Others argued (also including myself) that - if carriers can start charging companies to prioritize their traffic - how long will it be before residential customers end up billed in similar ways?

You may ask - as a regulating agency - where has the FCC, with it’s commitment to “transparency” been? Well..... it turns out the FCC has been meeting behind closed doors for the past few months with the big carriers on network neutrality.

Much of last week seemed to be damage control for Verizon, Google and the FCC. The FCC announced they were canceling their closed door carrier meetings and we saw postings like this from Verizon Policy blogger David Fish:

The NYT article regarding conversations between Google and Verizon is mistaken. It fundamentally misunderstands our purpose. As we said in our earlier FCC filing, our goal is an Internet policy framework that ensures openness and accountability, and incorporates specific FCC authority, while maintaining investment and innovation. To suggest this is a business arrangement between our companies is entirely incorrect.

Yesterday, Google and Verizon held a press conference announcing a Verizon-Google Legislative Framework Proposal. Here’s a piece from the Consumer Protections part of the proposal:

A broadband Internet access service provider would be prohibited from preventing users of its broadband Internet access service from--

(1) sending and receiving lawful content of their choice;

(2) running lawful applications and using lawful services of their choice; and

(3) connecting their choice of legal devices that do not harm the service, facilitate theft of service, or harm other users of the service.

The Wireless Broadband piece of yesterdays Verizon-Google proposal is also interesting:

Because of the unique technical and operational characteristics of wireless networks, and the competitive and still-developing nature of wireless broadband services, only the transparency principle would apply to wireless broadband at this time. The U.S. Government Accountability Office would report to Congress annually on the continued development and robustness of wireless broadband Internet access services.

The backlash continues. Here’s commentary after the Verizon-Google press conference from Karl Bode at DSL Reports:

Nothing said today (Monday) changes the fact that this policy framework is very much focused on creating a weak, self-regulatory policy system filled with loopholes instead of real neutrality consumer protections.

As the regulating agency, the FCC needs to step it up and get control of this.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Pay Phones - 25 Cent Local Calls

As I travel around I usually have my eyes open for pay phones and when I do find one I usually end up taking a picture since we're seeing fewer and fewer of them. Here's a shot of a pay phone carcass I walked by in Orlando last week.

I've had a cell phone for at least 15 years now and cannot remember the last time I used one of these.