Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Cyberbullies Update - Criminal Action Against Students Suspected of Bullying Pheobe Prince

I first wrote about the suicide of 15 year-old Phoebe Prince in my little New England town of South Hadley, MA on February 1 in a post titled Cyberbullies. I know this terrible story has hit national and local news around the world - if you haven't seen details - here's an update from a local article at

Northwestern District Attorney Elizabeth D. Scheibel Monday announced the indictments of six teenagers accused of having bullied Phoebe so severely September through January that she hanged herself Jan. 14.

The district attorney also said she has taken out complaints in Hampshire-Franklin Juvenile Court against three female juveniles in the matter.

Charges in the indictments range from statutory rape to stalking and civil rights violations in the harassment of Phoebe, a resident of Ireland who moved to town in the fall and enrolled in South Hadley High School as a ninth grader.

On Monday, District Attorney Scheibel provided an account of Phoebe’s final hours:

On the last day of her life, Phoebe N. Prince was harassed in the South Hadley High School library during lunch period, harassed in the school hallway as the final bell rang and harassed as she walked home along Newton Street.

The 15-year-old sophomore finally made it home to 356 Newton St. and, sometime between 2:48 and 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 14, ended more than four months of relentless bullying by hanging herself in the stairwell leading to her family’s second-floor apartment. She was still wearing the clothes she wore to school.

Pheobe's little sister found her hanging in that stairwell when she came home from school.

Here's more from Scheibel:

Three individuals – a male and two females – were involved in assaultive behavior against Prince on that last day, motivated by the group’s displeasure with Phoebe’s brief dating relationship with the male student.

Amid the details of names and charges, Scheibel painted a scenario in which Prince went through daily hell at school for months while most of the student body, along with some faculty and administrators, knew what was happening but failed to act.

The investigation revealed relentless activity directed toward Phoebe, designed to humiliate her and to make it impossible for her to remain at school.

The bullying, for her, became intolerable.

Amazingly - according to Scheibel - Facebook and Craigslist have been little help:

A significant obstacle and delay for investigators in this case has been the inexplicable lack of cooperation from Internet service providers.... in particular, Facebook and Craigslist.

There are also still some very serious (non-criminal according to the DA) issues to be dealt with by this town including the faculty and administrators who are alleged to have known what was happening to Phoebe but failed to act.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Will Verizon Finally Announce a Fiber To The Node Product?

The New York Times ran an Associated Press article a few days ago titled Verizon winds down expensive FiOS expansion. Here's a couple of interesting quotes from the piece:

.... Verizon is nearing the end of its program to replace copper phone lines with optical fibers that provide much higher Internet speeds and TV service. Its focus is now on completing the network in the communities where it's already secured ''franchises,'' the rights to sell TV service that rivals cable, said spokeswoman Heather Wilner.

That means Verizon will continue to pull fiber to homes in Washington, D.C., New York City and Philadelphia -- projects that will take years to complete -- but leaves such major cities as Baltimore and downtown Boston without FiOS.

Here's more:

Verizon doesn't appear to have ruled out further FiOS expansion, but doesn't have any plans, either. The economics apparently are not attractive enough: TV service carries fairly low margins compared to Verizon's phone business, according to analyst Craig Moffett at Sanford Bernstein.

And some more:

The recruitment of new FiOS TV subscribers slowed last year. In the fourth quarter, it added 153,000 subscribers, little more than half of the number it added in the same period the year before.

At the end of last year, Verizon had 2.86 million FiOS TV subscribers and 3.43 million FiOS Internet subscribers (most households take both).

Wiring a neighborhood for FiOS costs Verizon about $750 per home. Actually connecting a home to the network costs another $600.

The total cost from 2004 to 2010 was budgeted at $23 billion by Verizon.

In 2004 FiOS seemed like a smart technical decision for Verizon. At the time AT&T was trialing a Fiber To The Node (FTTN) product (now called U-verse) and were having technical difficulties getting it to work. Over the past few years though FTTN bugs have been worked out and both AT&T and Qwest have launched successful implementations.

Back in late 2008 I posted the following question in a blog post Will Verizon Offer A Fiber To The Node Product In 2009?. I stuck my neck out then and said Verizon would in 2009. I was wrong then but I'm thinking I may have missed it by a year. So....... I'm now predicting Verizon will be offering a FTTN product sometime in 2010.

The only other competitive option the company has right now to get into areas not already served by FiOS is 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) wireless service based. This could bypass land-line delivery completely....... but....... can LTE handle the load?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

U.S. Needs More Cyber Security Training and Education

Richard Marshall, director of global cyber-security management at the Department of Homeland Security made some interesting comments yesterday at the FOSE government IT show in Washington, DC. FOSE is a conference focused on cyber-security issues facing the public sector and what it means for protection against threats, cloud computing and new open government directives.

Here's a few quotes Marshall made at the conference taken from a post over at

Working in concert with the government, the private sector has made significant strides in improving software security and ferreting out vulnerabilities in the supply chain, but the flow of cyber-security experts graduating from the nation's universities with advanced degrees remains anemic.

One of the most important steps policymakers can take is to nourish the education and training of a new crop of security expert.

No matter how successful we are in those two elements, we are going to fail if we don't invest more money, time, attention and rewards to educate the workforce. That's our legacy-to-be.

"The IT industry provides a one trillion -- with a 'T' -- dollar contribution to the U.S. gross domestic product. If you're looking for a metric for cyber-security, money is a good metric.

And my favorite quote from the piece which I'll probably catch some flack for posting:

Look at all the great football and basketball programs. They're all on scholarships. They're not playing for fun -- they're playing for money. We need to do the same thing with our computer science students.

Nicely said.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Network Security – With a Little Help from Our Friends Podcast

A couple of days ago Mike Qaissaunee and I had the chance to talk with Dr Sam Bowne, Professor of Computer Networking and Information Technology at City College of San Francisco. Mike and I have known Sam since 2004. He's one of the best in the country - a tremendous classroom instructor who brings his extensive expertise and passion for networking and network security to his students and his colleagues. Sam is also generous with his knowledge, making his lectures and classroom materials available to anyone who wants to learn. In what we hope will be a recurring role, Sam joined us in a podcast to share his thoughts on security and provide us with a snapshot of the latest and greatest developments in the field of network security.

Here's some of the questions Sam answers:

  1. Sam, you have a BS and a PhD in Physics – how did you end up in networking and security?
  2. You’ve been at CCSF since 2000 – what classes do you teach?
  3. Ethical hacking? Sounds like an oxymoron – what do you mean by ethical hacking?
  4. I know you’ve taken some of your students to DEFCON in Las Vegas. This conference of hackers is probably unlike anything our listeners have ever attended. Could you tell us a little about it?
  5. Are most of the attendees self-taught or do they attend formal classes?
  6. In terms of recent developments (threats, security solutions, and research), what’s been on your radar screen lately?
  7. Sam, how do you keep up with all of this information?
  8. What about your own skills and knowledge? How do you keep these up-to-date?
  9. If a student is interested in learning more about networking – in particular securing a network, how would you advise them to get started? What sort of characteristics – in a student – would make them a good candidate for this type of work?
  10. Now for something from a chat session with a student:
  • my twitter account was hacked :( -- maybe i should hop on that security course just for some personal safety
  • do you, yourself actually keep different passwords for everything?
  • i'm freaked out and want to differentiate all my passwords
  • but, that's crazy!
What advice can you give my student?

Sam's class content, email and lots of other great stuff can be found at Check him out - one of the best!

Here's how to listen:

To access show notes and audio of our 28 minute audio podcast with Sam titled Network Security – With a Little Help from Our Friends 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.

Monday, March 22, 2010

FCC Broadband Plan - Will Mobile Save Us?

Last week I was off on vacation relaxing and pretty much shut down. While I was away, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) released the National Broadband Plan, a 376-page document summarized in the six goals listed below:

Goal 1: At least 100 million U.S. homes should have affordable access to actual download speeds of at least 100 megabits per second and actual upload speeds of at least 50 megabits per second.
Goal 2: The United States should lead the world in mobile innovation, with the fastest and most extensive wireless networks of any nation.
Goal 3: Every American should have affordable access to robust broadband service, and the means and skills to subscribe if they so choose.
Goal 4: Every community should have affordable access to at least 1 Gbps broadband service to anchor institutions such as schools, hospitals and government buildings.
Goal 5: To ensure the safety of Americans, every first responder should have access to a nationwide public safety wireless network.
Goal 6: To ensure that America leads in the clean energy economy, every American should be able to use broadband to track and manage their real-time energy consumption.

Good stuff - but - can it happen? Here's an interesting quote from an interview Ars Technica did with FCC broadband advisor Blair Levin. The interview was done a few weeks before the national plan was released. Levin's commenting on regulator/industry relationships and the reaction to policy, comparing the U.S. to more broadband-successful countries (like South Korea):

You.... have a different relationship between.... regulators and the industry. In those countries, when a regulator says to do something, what happens is that within a very reasonable, short timeframe, those things are done. What happens in the United States is that, when a regulator says something—I'm not complaining about it; I'm just pointing out reality—it's challenged in the courts and you have a time lag. So that, I think, is an important consideration.

Like Blair Levin, I see the potential for significant land-line connectivity progress in our country getting buried in legal black holes. There may be some hope though - Goal 2 and mobile connectivity may end up saving us in a couple of ways:

First - we're looking at the roll-out of fourth generation technologies (LTE and WiMax) by the major wireless providers over the next couple of years. Wireless broadband will soon become a competitive option to land-line services and available in areas where there is currently not a land-line service available.
Second - and maybe more significant - wireless broadband competition may discourage land-line provider court challenges, removing those time lags Levin refers to.

You can download the full FCC National Broadband Plan here and you can watch progress at

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Reader Question Podcast: Emerging Broadband Technologies With A Wireless Focus

A colleague of Mike Qaissaunee and I - Mark at the MATEC Networks NSF Center in Arizona - recently asked some interesting questions in an email:

I was reading this PC Magazine article on why Apple stayed with AT&T (not happy about that since AT&T really stinks in Phoenix on coverage – if I remember correctly, one of the worst coverages and signals here. In fact, Sprint is really the only company that works well by the mountains (where I live and work). But the article stated:

CDMA, the way Verizon and Sprint are doing it, is a dead end. Apple hates dead-end technologies. They look forward, not back. Remember how they got rid of floppy disks earlier than any other PC manufacturer? The current CDMA technology that Sprint and Verizon use still has some years of life left on it, but it's not where wireless is heading.

Ok, so CDMA is dead. But what is 4G? And is all 4G using GSM? Sprint is starting to advertise here of their 4G network. I know 4G is faster. But where is wireless going? Is Sprint’s 4G the same as all the other’s 4G.

Ok, so hopefully this is a blog topic for you, but if not, I think you for the time on your answers. Oh yeah, any idea when AT&T would go to 4G?

Mark from Arizona

Before Mike and I tried to answer Mark's questions we thought it would be a good idea to take a look first at where we’ve been over the past 20 years or so with a follow-up podcast on 4G technologies.

Here's how to listen:

To access show notes and audio of our 25 minute and 44 second audio podcast titled Emerging Broadband Technologies With A Wireless Focus 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.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Has Mobile Voice Reached Saturation?

ABI Research has a new report out titled Mobile Subscriber ARPU, Voice, Messaging, and Data Traffic Forecasts. The report forecasts global, regional and country-level analysis into end-user level benchmarks quantifying the purchasing and usage habits of mobile cellular customers. It tracks ARPU, usage, and traffic for carriers in more than 27 markets on a quarterly basis.

Here's some interesting data from the report:

  • Mobile end-user ARPUs (average revenue per user) dropped between 6% to 9% globally, year-over-year in 3Q-2009, compared to 3Q-2008.
  • India, the world’s second-largest market in terms of subscribers, saw ARPUs dropping more than 10% YoY in the same period, as new operators and the introduction of per-second billing put heavy downward pressure on voice revenues.
  • In Europe the ARPU contraction was in the range of -5 to -8%, with Austria seeing a contraction of more than 9%.
  • Globally, the growth in Minutes of Use has also peaked, and is expected to grow at a CAGR of only 1.4% between 2009 and 2015. Much of this growth is driven by developing markets in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

Even though the ARPU is currently declining, ABI estimates it is likely to flatten out in developed markets in Europe and North America as mobile data revenue increasingly replaces falling voice revenue. ABI analyst Bhavya Khanna is quoted in the report, saying:

Mobile data traffic has exploded in the past two years, and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 40% from 2009-2015. Operators can cash in on this demand by enlarging their mobile broadband coverage, thus increasing their user-base. This has started to happen in developed markets such as the UK and US, where mobile Internet service revenues have grown over 12% and 8% YoY respectively.

It's time to stop calling these devices "phones"!

You can get more information on the ABI Research report here.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Leveraging Virtual Worlds with Karl Kapp

We had the honor of having Dr Karl Kapp keynote the second day of the Winter 2010 ICT Educator Conference held the first week of January in San Francisco. Karl is a professor of Instructional Technology, author, speaker and expert on the convergence of learning, technology and business. His background teaching e-learning classes, knowledge of adult learning theory and experience training CEOs and front line staff provides him with a unique perspective on organizational learning.

Karl teaches graduate-level courses on topics of virtual learning worlds, e-learning applications and the business of e-learning at Bloomsburg University and consults with Fortune 500 organizations on implementing virtual learning worlds and learning technologies. He is author of four books including, Gadgets, Games and Gizmos for Learning and Learning in 3D: Adding a New Dimension to Enterprise Learning and Collaboration, co-authored with Tony O'Driscoll.

Karl's keynote was delivered at the beautiful San Francisco Microsoft facility (Thanks Microsoft!) and titled Leveraging Virtual Worlds, Web 2.0 and Smart Phones for Educational Excellence. Here's a description of the presentation:

Are your classroom interactions designed to teach the new breed of learner - a learner raised on a steady diet of video games, electronic gadgets, and the Smartphones? Wondering how to integrate new technologies into your classroom? Can't imagine why anyone would want video games and Twitter in the classroom? Learn how the consumer-based gadgets, games and web widgets are changing community college education forever. The influence of games, virtual worlds and Web 2.0 on learning preferences, expectations and collaboration is just now becoming visible and is profoundly impacting community colleges. Learn how to leverage this technology for educational excellence. See examples of virtual worlds teaching science, iPods teaching basic chemistry, simulations teaching aircraft testing, and gadgets increasing student interactions in the classroom.

Click the image below to watch and listen to Karl's presentation - it is excellent.
Want to see more of Karl - check out his blog at

Here's other ways to watch and listen:

To access show notes and audio of Karl Kapp's 45 minute and 50 second video podcast titled Leveraging Virtual Worlds, Web 2.0 and Smart Phones for Educational Excellence with Karl Kapp 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.