Thursday, March 31, 2011

Words are worse than Sticks and Stones

We're still dealing with the aftermath of Phoebe Prince's suicide in South Hadley, Massachusetts. From my perspective as a resident of the town, sadly it's turned into a legal back and now with the memory of what Phoebe experienced slowly fading.

Something has brought some of those memories back though. Not too far from us in Westport, Conn on March 14 Alye Pollack, an eighth-grader at Bedford Middle School, uploaded a video to YouTube titled Words are worse than Sticks and Stones. Here's her 2 minute and 58 second video.

According to, Bedford Middle school ranks 7th of 258 Connecticut public middle schools. Some of the comments posted on YouTube are even more disturbing than the video.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Communications Workers of America Position on AT&T, T-Mobile Merger

Communications Workers of America (CWA) Policy Analyst Debbie Goldman was interviewed last week on C-SPAN. In the interview she discusses the CWA Union perspective on what AT&T's acquisition of T-Mobile means for cell phone consumers and for workers. Here's the 5 minute and 28 second video.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Internet Pioneer Paul Baron

Back before the Internet, there was something called the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET). ARPANET was the world's first packet switched network, created by a group from MIT and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) of the United States Department of Defense.

Because the Department of Defense was originally involved in the design, many falsely think that ARPANET was started to create a network that would survive a nuclear attack. It was originally designed for researchers - who were far away from resources - to access high performance computers. Later on in the project, ARPANET work focused on redundancy and survivability in the event of a large scale attack on the United States.

One of the key developers for ARPANET was an engineer named Paul Baron. Here's a few quotes pulled from a New York Times piece about Paul:

In the early 1960s, while working at the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, Calif., Mr. Baran outlined the fundamentals for packaging data into discrete bundles, which he called “message blocks.” The bundles are then sent on various paths around a network and reassembled at their destination. Such a plan is known as “packet switching.”

Mr. Baran’s idea was to build a distributed communications network, less vulnerable to attack or disruption than conventional networks. In a series of technical papers published in the 1960s he suggested that networks be designed with redundant routes so that if a particular path failed or was destroyed, messages could still be delivered through another.

Mr. Baran’s invention was so far ahead of its time that in the mid-1960s, when he approached AT&T with the idea to build his proposed network, the company insisted it would not work and refused. 
 Here's more from the New York Times piece: 
Paul Baran was born on April 29, 1926, in Grodno, Poland. His parents moved to the United States in 1928, and Mr. Baran grew up in Philadelphia. His father was a grocer, and as a boy, Paul delivered orders to customers in a small red wagon. 
He attended the Drexel Institute of Technology, which later became Drexel University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1949.
He went on to complete is Masters Degree in Electrical Engineering at UCLA in 1959. In 1959 he also joined the computer science department at RAND, a nonprofit global policy think tank first formed to offer research and analysis to the United States armed forces. In 1968, Baron left RAND to co-found a nonprofit research organization that specialized in long-tern technology forecasting called  the Institute for the Future. Along the way he also started seven companies.

Google vice-president, colleague and longtime friend Vinton Cerf had a nice quote about Paul in that New York Times piece:
Paul wasn’t afraid to go in directions counter to what everyone else thought was the right or only thing to do, AT&T repeatedly said his idea wouldn’t work, and wouldn’t participate in the Arpanet project,
Paul passed away Saturday at home in Palo Alto - he was 84.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Verizon, Terremark and Academic ICT Programs

Over the past few days the $39 billion AT&T / T-Mobile deal has been getting a lot of press. There's another deal that happened last month for a little less money - $1.4 billion - that has the potential for significant impact over the next few years. The purchase of Terremark by Verizon.

Terremark provides collocation in the Internet cloud - basically space, power and a secure place for a company's infrastructure and value adds by offering managed services to their customers - what is commonly referred to as IaaS or Infrastructure as a Service. There are significant advantages to IaaS for a customer - no worries about redundancy, backups, updates and 24/7 support are just a few.

Verizon already has a cloud business along with AT&T and Qwest so there's been some speculation on this deal - is is a good or a bad move for Verizon? Long term I think it is a good one as the company continues to rapidly shift away from legacy landline-based voice delivery systems. It's a move for Verizon to get further "into the cloud", controlling both infrastructure and the customer connections (wireless, fiber, copper - the "pipes"!) connected to the infrastructure.

Cloud based services will continue to expand, especially as connected devices become smaller, faster, more portable, and more ubiquitous. In the education world we need to think about how this is going to impact our courses, curriculum, programs and students as we prepare people for the modern workplace.

If you are an educator, you should be taking a close look at a couple of industry programs that are relatively new (especially to the community college world) from EMC and VMWare.

The EMC Academic Alliance with a focus on storage linked here

The VMWare IT Academy Program with a focus on virtualization linked here
Both programs are excellent and offer access to the latest technology, high quality curriculum, courses that can be integrated into existing curriculum, course paths that lead to certification, and faculty development opportunities.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Bill Gates TED Talk on State Budgets - Critical for Kids and Our Future

This is a pretty interesting TED talk by Bill Gates. He discusses state budgets - as he says - big money with very little scrutiny and how swinging education budget cuts are impacting the education of our kids. It's 10 minutes and 16 seconds and worth a listen.

Monday, March 21, 2011

FCC Internet Access and Telephone Competition Reports Released

The Federal Communications Commission released a couple of reports today titled Internet Access Services and Local Telephone Competition.  Both  reports are based on data submitted by carriers every six months on FCC Form 477. Each report tracks Internet service subscribers using 72 different speed teir combinations along with the number of wireline, mobile and interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephone subscribers. These reports cover FCC data collected through June 30, 2010.

Highlights from the Internet Access Services report include the following:

  • 60% of connections were slower than the benchmark 4 megabits per second (Mbps)
    download speed identified by the FCC as the minimum bandwidth generally required to
    accommodate today’s uses: high-quality voice, data, graphics, and video. 
  • Growth of fixed broadband service appears to have flattened at 1% in the first half of 2010, to 82 million connections.
Highlights from the Local Telephone Competition report include the following:
  • Interconnected VoIP grew by 21% between June 2009 and June 2010.
  • Conventional switched access lines (i.e., traditional wireline telephone lines) decreased
    by 8% between June 2009 and June 2010.
  • 28% of all residential wireline connections were interconnected VoIP as of June 2010.
  • An estimated 77% of interconnected VoIP subscribers received service through a cable
  • The number of subscriptions to wireless phone service grew by 5% in the year.
 Both reports can be downloaded at

Last month, the FCC began to consider reforms to the Form 477 program, with concerns about the lag time time between data collection and reporting. As an example - we're just seeing reporting today on data that was collected the first six months of 2010.

You can comment on reforms here, using WC Docket No. 11-10. Initial comments are due on or before March 30. Reply comments are due on or before April 14.

E-book Sales Uptrend Continues

The Association of American Publishers (AAP) has released A January 2011 report on E-book net stats showing net sales increased by 115.8% vs January 2010 (from $32.4 Million to $69.9M). Here's more highlights from the report: 

  • Sales of Downloadable Audio Books also rose by 8.8% vs the previous year ($6.0M to $6.5M).
  • Total books sales on all platforms, in all categories, hit $805.7 Million for January. This was a slight drop from January 2010’s $821.5M sales (-1.9%).
  • Adult Hardcover category fell from $55.4M to $49.1M (-11.3%), Adult Paperback dropped from $104.2M to $83.6 (-19.7%) and Adult Mass Market declined from $56.4M to $39.0 (-30.9%)
  • In the Children’s/Young Adult category, Hardcover sales were $31.2M in January 2011 vs $31.8M in January 2010 (-1.9%) while Paperbacks were $25.4M, down 17.7% from $30.9M in January 2010.
  • Physical Audio Books sales were $7.3M vs $7.9M the previous year (-6.7%).
  • Sales of Religious Books grew by 5.6%, from $49.8M to $52.6M.
  • Sales in the Higher Education category were $382.0M for January 2011, a slight drop (-1.4%) from $387.6M the previous year. K-12 sales hit $82.6M for the month vs $97.0M for the previous year (-14.9%).
  • In Professional and Scholarly Books, sales grew 1.3%, from $51.2M to $51.8M. Sales of University Press Hardcovers were $3.9M in January 2011 vs $4.5M the previous year (-14.0%) while University Press Paperbacks were $6.2M vs $6.7M (-7.8%).
According to AAP, E-book sales have increased annually and significantly in all nine years of tracking the category. The increases continue to make sense as more and more of us have smart phones, tablets and other portable devices that can run various reader apps.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

AT&T Acquiring T-Mobile USA from Deutsche Telekom

Today, AT&T and Deutsche Telekom announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which AT&T will acquire T-Mobile USA from Deutsche Telekom in a cash-and-stock transaction currently valued at approximately $39 billion. The agreement has been approved by the Boards of Directors of both companies. Deutsche Telekom will have an ownership interest in AT&T of approximately 8 percent and a Deutsche Telekom representative will join the AT&T Board of Directors.

The acquisition is subject to regulatory approvals, a reverse breakup fee in certain circumstances, and other customary regulatory and other closing conditions. The transaction is expected to close in approximately 12 months and the government needs to approve the deal.

This is significant for a number of reasons listed in the announcement. Here's a couple that I believe are most significant:

  • Addresses wireless spectrum challenges facing AT&T, T-Mobile USA, their customers, and U.S. policymakers. AT&T’s mobile data traffic grew 8,000 percent over the past four years and by 2015 it is expected to be eight to 10 times what it was in 2010. Put another way, all of the mobile traffic volume AT&T carried during 2010 is estimated to be carried in just the first six to seven weeks of 2015. 

  • AT&T commits to a significant expansion of robust 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) deployment to 95 percent of the U.S. population to reach an additional 46.5 million Americans beyond current plans – including rural communities and small towns. This helps achieve the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and President Obama’s goals to connect “every part of America to the digital age.” T-Mobile USA does not have a clear path to delivering LTE.
    Spectrum and coverage - both critical as bandwidths and connected devices continue to grow at incredible rates.

    Just wondering....... will Verizon Wireless now make a bid for Sprint/Nextel?

    Saturday, March 12, 2011

    Simulation and Modeling in Technology Education (SMTE) Project

    This is a demo video for the Knowledge and Skills Builder level 3 - the "The R Value Snowshoe Relay Race" in the Survival Master game for STEM learning.

    You can follow along via the project website at

    Saturday, March 5, 2011

    IPv6 Tutorial with Sam Bowne Part 1 of 4

    In December at the Convergence Technology Center's Winter Retreat at Collin College in Frisco Texas, John had the chance to shoot an IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6) workshop given by Sam Bowne, from City College of San Francisco. Here's the 35 minute and 47 second Part 1 of the 4 part series.


    This video is also posted as a Podcast. You can watch as a stream and/or download the mp4 for this episode and others at

    And.... if you have iTunes installed you can listen to and subscribe to our podcasts by clicking here.

    Tuesday, March 1, 2011

    Simulation and Modeling in Technology Education (SMTE) Project

    This is a temporary video for the Knowledge and Skills Builder level 2E - the "Heat Flow Formula Challenge" in the Survival Master game for STEM learning. In this level, the learner advances through a "snowball assault" level by solving for unknown variables in the heat flow formula - arming their laser that they use to disable snowball firing turrets.

    You can f
    ollow along via the project website at