Down to the wire in Indiana

The press has not generally covered the fight in Indiana over their telecom dereg bill, known in the Indiana Senate as SB 245. What coverage there has been has primarily focused on deregulating phone rates or elimination of local franchising of video offerings (i.e., the new telco video products will not need local franchsies). Few stories have observed that Chapter 35 of SB 245, as drafted, would hamstring the ability of local governments to either provide broadband services directly or do so through partnerships with others.

The version of SB 245 that passed the Senate included minor modifications to Chapter 35. In the Indiana House of Representatives, the House eliminated both Chapter 35 and the state franchising provisions. The bill has now gone back to the Senate.

I want to urge folks in Indiana, and elsewhere if you do business in Indiana or otherwise have a connection to the state, to make your views known to the Senate. In I hope people and organizations will tell the Indiana State senators that anything that impedes the flexibility of localities to create effective broadband strategies, such as Chapter 35, cannot be good for the people of Indiana.

I have included a draft letter below. Please feel free to print out or in any other way use it to help stop Chapter 35 of SB 245.

This is also a good time for me to stress that, as usual, I speak only on behalf of myself and not my employer or Wetmachine.

Stay tuned . . . .

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Too geeky even for Wetmachine

For all you progressive’s who remember the TV Show Babylon 5, I wrote this on my LJ.

Back in the mid-1990s, it amused me no end to see know-it-alls pound on [series creator] J. Michael Straczinsky for the ridiculous idea that the government could shift from democratic to essentially a military dictatorship in so short a time, simply by leveraging the fear of “alien influences” assaulting our “way of life.” “Ho ho ho,” they laughed. “That trick may work on others, but it couldn’t happen in a real democracy like the U.S. I mean, if the President started to intrude on people’s rights and civil liberties, started locking them up and holding them for years without pressing charges, or started spying on his own people, no one would sit still for it! He’d be out on his ear when everyone rose up in protest.”

Sadly, I think JMS may end up with the last laugh, although I doubt he will find saying “told ya so” much comfort.

What the $#@! is the “Public” Internet

So here I am, at one of these DC discussion fests between “stakeholders” on “network neutrality.” Net neutrality is what we talk about post Brand X . It means the provider can’t mess with the packets (other than to screen malware or engage in network management). Needless to say, the incumbent wireline providers are not happy with this thought, while all the time proclaiming they will never, ever mess with content.

So what incumbents float instead is the concept of providing “enhanced service” to those with content who will pay extra to be given “priority” to the broadband provider’s subscribers. (“Hey, nice packets you got there. Be a shame if anything . . . happened to them on the way to the customer. But good news. We’re here to offer you a ‘premium’ service that gaurantees you speedy delivery! I suppose I shouldn’t mention this, but your competitor has already signed up . . .”)

This is being justified, in part, as offering premium service on the “private internet” as opposed to the “public interent.”

What the #$@! is a “public internet?” Unless there is some remnant of the NSF backbone out there, or we’re talking about the government funded root servers, there is no such thing as a “public” internet and never was. “The Internet” (back when everyone always used to capitalize it) is a “network of networks” which, since the mid-1990s, have been private networks.

So why are wireline incumbents pushing the “public internet” meme? See below . . .

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The War on the Consumer: Congress to Pass Secret DRM Law?

I guess I’ll make this into a reoccurring feature, since everyone seemed to like the last one I did, and it seems we have no end of stupidity from media companies and their hired hands.

So, let’s see what the media companies have been shopping for in Washington. I bet there’s a lot of post-Holidays sales of legislation going on…

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Register here to claim your phony “freedom”

The registered traveler program, in which people surrender a bit of themselves into the maw of the Overmind in exchange for some bogus promise of “security” is so obviously bad that I’m not going to belabor it here. Here’s an artilcle that pricks the surface of why this program is stupid and dangerous — and asks the question, how long will it remain “voluntary”?

One of the things that’s always puzzled me about the Transportaion Security Agency is why people — good guys and bad guys alike, evidently– consider mass transportation the default target for attack. If bad guys started blowing up shopping malls would we then have to create a Shopping Security Agency and have our retninas scanned before being allowed to shop?

Like John Gilmore, I think that the TSA has a lot more to do with conditioning people to surrender privacy and freedom of movement to The Authorities than it does with increasing our safety. I distrust, emphatically distrust, the TSA and all its ilk, but I’m willing to admit that there may be some benefit derived from it to counterbalance the incipient totalitarianism it presages and prepares the way for, like John the Baptist making smooth the way for the One Who Was to Come. But as for the Registered Traveler program in particular, I say it’s spinach, and I say the hell with it.

Touchability Cues

When I wrote “Touchability,” it had already been a while since a buddy had shown me a haptic mouse he was working on. For example, you could feel an actual bump when the mouse enters and leaves an object (a real version of what developers sometimes call rollover). Force feedback was such an obviously good thing that I didn’t even mention then the cool stuff that’s now happening in this area.

As much as I think physical touchability is good, I want to be clear that I want to make Croquet applications be emotionally touchable, too. I want to capture what it is that makes things seem (be?) real. Even without physical force feedback, it should still be fun to fondle stuff because of active visual and aural responses and good 3D design.

To be sure, I’d love to add to the effect with more sensory stimulus. There are huge possibilities, and I hope folks will explore them. This stuff is cool. There’s someone working on stereo display for Croquet. Others working on large screens in public spaces. I don’t doubt that we’ll see Croquet on small or cheap devices. There’s plenty of room for innovation.

Strange Fruit Heartbreaker

OK I’ll admit that I watch football, NFL (USian) football sometimes, especially now these recent years when my local team the Patriots, also known as the Massachusetts Liberals, have been kicking ass left right and central (and also teams from Texas, such as the Houston Halliburtons and the Dallas Swaggering Ignorami, have generally sucked–an extra bonus).

So I have not been able to avoid noticing that the Rolling Stones will be playing the half-time extravaganza at the SuperDuperBowl this year, because during other NFL games on TV, approximately every three bleeping minutes there’s another “Rolling Stones at SuperDuperBowl” commercial. Which their playing this gig is not a bad thing in itself, I guess, since although the Rolling Stones have indeed intermittently been over the last several decades just what they claimed to be, that is, The Greatest RockaRoll Band inna World, they’ve never been celebrated for their good taste, so why shouldn’t they highlight the world’s largest annual celebration of the aesthetic of kitsch?

But the use of their song “Heartbreaker” to market the SuperDuperBowl is deeply sad and offensive to me. And I don’t mean in the way Led Zep selling Cadillacs or the Who selling whatever, or even Bob Dylan selling investment portfolio management, for the love of Christ, with “The Times They Are A-Changing” is sad and offensive. It’s more as if Billie Holiday were to have used her song Strange Fruit to market Fruit Loops cereal or strawberry Pop Tarts.

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Do we really need to regulate space travel?

The FAA has released proposed rules for space travel. They are fairly extensive. And they worry me. I believe that continued U.S. leadership in the global economy depends on expanding commercial space industries, especially human space flight. The regulatory regime proposed is not one designed to get the commercial space industry off the ground.

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