Sat, 22 December 2007
Mike Intro: December 19. 2007: Broadband the AT&T and Qwest Way
In this podcast we discuss AT&T and Qwests Fiber to the Node projects.
Mike: Gordon, can you give us a little background on what AT&T is doing?
Lightspeed was announced as a 6 billion dollar project by AT&T in
June 2004 and involves running optical fiber out to a remote terminal,
or node and providing the last portion of the connection over copper
wire. The project was ambitious from the start with initial plans to
reach close to 19 million homes by the end of 2008. AT&T has given
the product the name U-verse
and at the TelcoTV conference last October, VP of converged services
at AT&T Labs Research Peter Hill gave the keynote address featuring
the product. Here's a few quotes from an October 26 CED Magazine post:
Mike: How is it selling?
roll out of its IPTV video services has been slower than it originally
anticipated, but with more than 126,000 current subscribers, the
company feels as though it’s on the right track. AT&T started the
year with 3,000 video subscribers, then grew that base to 16,000 and
60,000, respectively, in the first and second quarters.
past the point of last year where the question was, ‘Will IPTV
scale?’,? said Peter Hill, VP of converged services at AT&T Labs
Research, during the first keynote address Wednesday morning at
TelcoTV. “You can’t get to that number (126,000 subscribers) without
significant flow through and automation. We do have a competitive
service and we can do it to scale.?
There's always been concerns about bandwidth, especially when compated
to products like the Verizon Fiber to the Home, or FiOS project. How is
AT&T doing with U-verse?
Bandwidth has been a major concern, with Hill commenting on the H.264 compression standard
“The encoding rates for H.264 have come down faster than we projected,? Hill said. “We’ll be able to do more channels in the same amount of bandwidth.?Mike: What other services will be available?
says the company will be adding home DVRs that allow satellite set-top
boxes to show video downloaded to the DVR box. Hill also said the
company will be adding to the current 30 high-definition channels next
year along with photo-sharing and a Voice over IP (VoIP) service.
Here's more interesting quotes from the CED Magazine piece:
cable executives have said there is no compelling reason to move to an
IP infrastructure to deliver video services, Hill contends that IPTV is
“very different from cable and satellite? because the nature of IP
allows for easier integration among services while also allowing it to
take advantage of Internet partners such as Amazon.......
of those features is “Cinema Center? that allows movies to be purchased
from Amazon with one click. The movie portal content would be dynamic
and would allow subscribers to view trailers prior to making their
“We don’t have to create this stuff in IP because it reaches out to Web devices and incorporates them into IPTV,? Hill said.
demonstrated how an iPhone could be used to remotely program a home TV
and how multiple cameras at live events could be selected by the
viewer. He also demonstrated a feature that used an i-Phone to remotely
configure channel favorites on a home TV. The application would give
four different i-Phone users the ability to program their favorite
shows on their household TVs. Also discussed was a Web cam feature that
would let viewers in different locations view a live performance of a
sporting event or dance concert based on IP technology that uses
switched digital video.
Mike: I know they had problems with the original set top box - any updates?
Also, according to CED Magazine:
During the question-and-answer segment, Hill said AT&T would continue to rely on the Motorola set-top box with the Sigma Designs processor as its main workhorse, although it’s also working with Scientific Atlanta on a box with the same signature.
Hill expected new set-top boxes with second-generation chipsets from Sigma and Broadcom to be available in 2009.
The U-verse product website
Subscribers: 126,000 U-verse TV and Internet subscribers in service (as of end of 3Q07)
Homes Passed: Approximately 5.5 million living units (as of end of 3Q07)
Deployment: Plans to pass approximately 8 million living units by the end of 2007Another interesting roll out to watch in 2008.
Schedule: AT&T expects to reach nearly 18 million households as part of its initial deployment by the end of 2008. Mike: Speaking about FTTN - I know you recently blogged on Qwest and FTTN effort. Can you give us an update?
Qwest is based in Denver and provides services to 14 states in the western part of the U.S.
Earlier this week, Broadband Reports
posted an interesting summary of a conference call with new (he started
in August) Qwest CEO Ed Mueller. Here's a summary from the Broadband
Qwest will spend $300 million over the next two years to bring 20Mbps VDSL to around 1.5 million customers.
- $70-100 million will be spent on FTTN this year and another $200 million next year.
Qwest hopes to see a FTTN/VDSL penetration rate of 40% by 2010. Upgrades are going to cost the company around $175 per home. Qwest will focus on portions of around twenty un-mentioned markets.
The Denver Post
also published an article yesterday outlining the call and indicated the company will not focus on IP video delivery, stating "the $300 million fiber-to-the-node project is not intended as a deployment of IPTV."
Qwest currently has a video agreement with DirectTV
and it looks like that agreement will stay in place.
The Post article gave a little more detail on deployment, stating the rollout "will focus on 20 markets with the project, 10 of its largest and 10 others."
Also according to the article, Qwest has started to upgrade their network in Denver and Colorado Springs.
generation VDSL (Very High Speed Digital Subscriber Line), referred to
as VDSL2, provides up to 100Mbps over standard copper telephone wires.
These will be exciting products to watch in 2008.
Direct download: FTTN_FINAL.mp3
-- posted at: 10:22am EDT
Sun, 9 December 2007
Mike Intro: Earlier this fall we
discussed DOCSIS 3.0 and how the cable companies will use this
technology to deliver high bandwidth services to consumers. In this
podcast we discuss the implementation and technologies the traditional
telephone companies are using to deliver-high bandwidth voice, video
and data services.
I know you are very familiar with Verizon and the companies FiOS fiber
to the home ((FTTH) product. How is the project coming along?
FiOS is Verizon's Fiber to the Home (FTTH), also
know as Fiber to the Premise (FTTP) product offering. The service
provides high-bandwidth data, voice and video services. The company has
posted some interesting data on their policy blog for the third quarter of 2007. Here's a summary:
Fiber Implementation: Source: http://www.verizon.com/fiberoptics
is currently available in parts of 16 states: California, Connecticut,
Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New
Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia
At the end of September 2007, Verizon had passed about 8.5 million homes and businesses – installing more than 457 million feet of fiber in parts of 16 states.
Verizon expects to continue passing some 3 million premises annually through 2010,
when the company expects to have passed about 18 million homes, or over half the homes
Verizon will begin boosting speeds and capabilities on its all-fiber network when it begins
deploying advanced G-PON electronics in 2007. This technology can increase
downstream broadband speeds by up to four times, and upstream speeds by eight times.
Verizon is investing nearly $23 billion in the FiOS project, between 2004 and 2010.
Mike: How about broadband products?
Broadband Products: Source: http://www22.verizon.com/Content/ConsumerFiOS/
Mike: What about video?
Video: Source: http://www.verizonfios.com/tv
Mike: What's happening with bandwidth over fiber?
On November 19, Verizon announced they have completed a 100 Gbps optical
communications test between Tampa and Miami, FL. The two cities are 312
miles apart. Here's a couple of quotes from the press release:
has successfully concluded the industry's first field test of 100
gigabits per second (Gbps) optical transmission, on a live, in-service
312-mile (504 kilometer) network route between Tampa, Fla., and Miami.
test, which utilized a live video feed from Verizon's national FiOS TV
network as the "payload," was successfully completed Friday (Nov. 16).
The 100 Gbps transmission was conducted on a Verizon Business ultra
long-haul optical system carrying other live traffic at 10 Gbps. The
test demonstrated that by deploying advanced electronics, an existing
network system can easily and quickly be upgraded to 100Gbps.
The test was done using existing fiber that had been installed for 10
Gbps service. Here's a couple more quotes from the press release:
other trials that used 10 separate 10 Gbps wavelengths to carry 100
Gbps, the Verizon test utilized a 100 Gbps signal on a single
wavelength, demonstrating Verizon's drive to promote "true" 100 Gbps in
a serial fashion on just one transmission wavelength.
equipment in the company's 40 Gbps trial in June 2004, the 100 Gbps
equipment used in the field trial was implemented with a "plug and
play" approach. This is a key objective for future commercial
implementation, and means the technology was used without any changes
to the fiber, amplifiers and other embedded equipment.
Amazing bandwidth obtained using existing fiber - the trial only swapped electronics using, according to the press release, Alcatel-Lucent's 1625 LambdaXtreme Transport system
Mike: Will companies continue to deliver assymetrical services?
On October 22, Verizon announced
20 Mbps symmetrical FIOs service in parts of New York, New Jersey and
Connecticut for as low as $64.99 a month. There are two things that I
find exciting about this offering. First - it's great to see the
bandwidths continue to go up. I feel this is just the start and we'll
see bandwidths of over 100 Mbps within the next two years in selected
areas as the telcos, like Verizon
, go head-to-head with the cable companies like Comcast
. If you are lucky enough to live in an area where FIOS is available you re in for a real treat regarding bandwidth.
second exciting thing I see here is a shift to symmetrical services.
Mike: Could you explain what a symmetrical service is and how it differ from what we're used to?
Broadband products to date, including FIOS, ADSL and cable modem, have
always been asymmetrical - the "A" in ADSL is even short for
asymmetrical! Asymmetrical services provide more downstream bandwidth
than upstream bandwidth. It's been a way for the providers to "cheat" a
bit based on traditional Internet usage. Consider the way you
traditionally surf the web - you enter a small amount of information in
the address bar and hit enter. The address you type ends up going to a
DNS (Domain Name Service) server and is looked up. The DNS server sends
back the IP address of the site you want and your browser is directed
to that site location. The site server then sends your browser the site
contents you want to see.
Think about it - in the traditional
model - a little information gets sent upstream and lots of information
comes back downstream. Recognizing these patterns the providers have
designed their networks to provide a little upstream bandwidth and lots
of downstream bandwidth. Well...... all this has changed with this new
FIOS offering from Verizon. Here's a quote from a Verizon press release
new symmetric service is a smart response to the changing usage
patterns of high-speed Internet subscribers," said Vince Vittore,
senior analyst with Yankee Group. "We believe that as user-generated
content continues to expand and telecommuting increases in popularity,
upstream speed will become just as important as downstream for all
users."Mike: Thanks Gordon. We'll take a look at Fiber To The Node (FTTN) technologies next week.
Direct download: FTTH_Final.mp3
-- posted at: 8:57pm EDT
Fri, 30 November 2007
I've had a bad case of Bronchitis and have had voice problems. It has not stopped me from blogging at www.nctt.org/blog but has causes some delays in podcasting. I am getting better (almost) and we hope to get back on our recording schedule sometime next week.
We apologize for the delay.
-- posted at: 5:33am EDT
Mon, 5 November 2007
this podcast we discuss new Apple, Microsoft and Google products and
services including Leopard, Vista, the iPhone and Google IMAP support.
Gordon: Mike, this past week Apple announced it had sold 2 million copies in the first weekend (last weekend).
You've got Leopard and have it installed - what are your impressions?
Leopard is the sixth major release of Mac OS X and is packed with more
than 300 new features.
"Early indications are that Leopard will be a huge hit with
said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO. "Leopard's innovative features are
getting great reviews and making more people than ever think about
switching to the Mac."
Leopard has many key innovations including the Time Machine, "an
effortless way to automatically back up everything on a Mac; a
redesigned Finder that lets users quickly browse and share files
between multiple Macs*; Quick Look, a new way to instantly see files
without opening an application; Spaces, an intuitive new feature used
to create groups of applications and instantly switch between them; a
brand new desktop with Stacks, a new way to easily access files from
the Dock; and major enhancements to Mail and iChat(R)."
Apple Inc.'s (AAPL) fourth-quarter net income improved to $904
or $1.01 a share, from a year-earlier profit of $542 million, or 62
cents a share.
Gordon: So - the company is doing pretty good?
Among the quarter's highlights were sales of 2.16 million Macintosh PCs and 1.11 million
iPhones. Apple had the most amazing launch of the all new iPhone, and
this holiday season could be a blockbuster for the iPhone and Apple
revenues. The latest iPod Touch could also rake in huge sales.
Gordon: How's Microsoft doing?
On October 25, 2007, Microsoft reported 27% revenue growth (over last
year) on sales of $13.76 billion for the quarter ended September 30,
2007, and the "fastest first quarter since 1999".
"This fiscal year is off to an outstanding start with the fastest
revenue growth of any first quarter since 1999," said Chris Liddell,
chief financial officer at Microsoft in the press release. "Operating
income growth of over 30% also reflects our ability to translate
revenue into profits while making strategic investments for the
Microsoft's businesses of Client, Microsoft Business Division, and
Server and Tools grew combined revenue in excess of 20%, and
experienced robust demand for Windows Vista, the 2007 Microsoft Office
system, Windows Server, and SQL Server.
"Customer demand for Windows Vista this quarter continued to build
with double-digit growth in multi-year agreements by businesses and with
the vast majority of consumers purchasing premium editions," said Kevin
Johnson, president of the Platform and Services Division at Microsoft.
During the quarter, Microsoft's two consumer focused divisions passed
milestones with the successful close of the company's largest ever
acquisition, aQuantive, and Halo 3 achieving the biggest entertainment
launch day in history. (Halo 3 launch eclipsed all previous video
games and movie launches)
Mike: Gordon, you just bought an iPhone - how about your impressions?
1. Easy setup
2. iTunes - easy
3. IMAP Google email - very nice
4. Google calendar - very nice
5. Address book/SIM card conversion very simple.
Gordon: Any recommendations on anything I should look at/setup today?
Direct download: Apple_Microsoft_Google_FIN.mp3
-- posted at: 3:53am EDT
Mon, 29 October 2007
Title: The Next Generation Cable Network: DOCSIS 3.0
first DOCSIS standard, short for Data Over Cable Service Interface
Specifications, standard was released by the company Cable Labs in
1997. In this podcast we take a look at the history of these
standards and discuss DOCSIS 3.0 – the emerging standard in the
Gordon, can you give us a brief history of the first DOCSIS
– just covers up to 2.0
What are “tiered services??
services is business jargon for providing a service (such as telecom
connectivity or cable channel service) according to separate,
incrementally distinct quality and pay levels, or "tiers."
We’re seeing this term used a lot recently in political debate
regarding “net neutrality?.
Can you tell us a little more about DOCSIS 3.0?
– in a nutshell it’s bigger, better, faster… It’s
a needed response to products from competitors like Verizon with FIOs
FTTH product and AT&T with the FTTN Lightspeed product. It’s
triple play broadband – voice video and data.
Much higher bandwidth through channel bonding
Starts at 160 Mbps Downstream, 60 Mbps Upstream and goes up from
TI just rolled out their Puma 5 chip set a couple of weeks ago for
cable modems. The chipset supports new DOCSIS 3.0 features, such as
channel bonding, enable ultra high
downstream bandwidth rates of at least 160 Mbps in the residential data
and voice services configuration and 320 Mbps in video and business
services configuration. In addition Puma 5 also supports greater
quality of service with IPv6 and security
with Advanced Encryption Standard (AES).
Multiple 6 MHz (or 8 MHz) channels are bound, treating them logically
IPv6 for advanced networking capabilities
Expanded address space (2128 or 3.4 dodecillion)
How will IPv6 be rolled out?
a lot of speculation now but it looks like it will be in to phases.
John T. Chapman and Shalabh Goel from Cisco Systems have an
interesting piece we’ve got linked in the shownotes
initial deployment phase allows the cable operator to set up an IPv6
control and management plane for managing the cable modems, set-top
boxes, and multimedia terminal adapters (MTAs) with a cost-effective
upgrade. In a subsequent deployment phase, cable operators can offer
IPv6 directly to the home network. Many new devices are already IPv6
capable, and cable operators could soon be running the largest IPV6
networks in the world.?
What are some other key features of DOCSIS 3.0?
key related DOCSIS 3.0 features, which may be migrated over time,
security, including advanced encryption standard (AES), security
provisioning and theft of service features;
upstream frequency range extension to 85 MHz and a downstream
frequency extension to 1 GHz that allows an operator to add existing
capacity with plant upgrades at a later date;
plant diagnostic features, including a cable modem diagnostic log,
enhanced signal quality monitoring, extension of IP data record
(IPDR) usage and capacity management.
How about the commercial services?
3.0 specifications define two technologies for business services over
DOCSIS: layer 2 virtual private networks (VPNs) and T-1 circuit
users will be able to videoconference from their PCs and PDAs and tap
into corporate networks through VPNs; residential customers will
subscribe to video-on-demand (VOD) and IP telephony services with low
latency and minimum packet loss; and users everywhere will be able to
upload and download files at much greater broadband speeds.
When will it be available?
demo’ed 150 Mbps at the May 14, 2007 Cable Show in Las Vegas.
Associated Press described a demo in which a 30-second, 300MB
television commercial was downloaded in a few seconds, while a
standard cable modem took 16 minutes?.
downloaded, in less than four minutes, was the full 32-volume
Encyclopedia Britannica 2007 and Merriam-Webster’s visual
dictionary. With a standard cable modem, that download would have
taken three hours and 12 minutes (dialup would have taken 2 weeks)?.
is currently trialing this in the Boston area. In one trial, the
cable operator will set up an IP video headend to experiment with
carrying voice, video and data over a single IP connection?.
planned converged-services trial will take place in a system that
serves 50,000 homes, and will include an IP-video headend and DOCSIS
3.0 STBs, as well as the Slingbox from Sling Media, dual mode
WiFi-cellular handsets and mobile phones capable of playing video.?
to Chapman and Goel: The industry consensus is that fully compliant
DOCSIS 3.0 CMTS* implementations will be available in 2008 to 2009.
Many cable operators will require the most critical DOCSIS 3.0
features, such as downstream channel bonding and IPv6, far earlier.
To meet this demand, many vendors’ CMTS products now include
early implementations of such a subset of DOCSIS 3.0 features.
CMTS: A cable modem termination system or CMTS is equipment typically
found in a cable company's headend, or at cable company hubsite and
is used to provide high speed data services, such as cable internet
or Voice over IP, to cable subscribers.
order to provide these high speed data services, a cable company will
connect its headend to the Internet via very high capacity data
links, also known as a circuit (canonical form of telecommunication
circuit), to a network service provider. On the subscriber side of
the headend, the CMTS enables the communication with subscribers'
cable modems. Different CMTSs are capable of serving different cable
modem population sizes - ranging from 4,000 cable modems to 150,000
or more. A given headend may have between half a dozen to a dozen or
more CMTSs to service the cable modem population served by that
way to think of a CMTS is to imagine a router with Ethernet
interfaces (connections) on one side and coax RF interfaces on the
other side. The RF/coax interfaces carry RF signals to and from the
subscriber's cable modem. (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CMTS
Direct download: DOCSIS_FINAL.mp3
-- posted at: 8:46am EDT
Sun, 16 September 2007
Title: Sept 16, 2007 - Micro-blogging
Intro: You may
be thinking about starting a blog but feel you don't have the time or
maybe won't know what to write about. You may already have a blog and
are looking for ways to provide interesting content in real time.
Micro-blogging may be a great solution. In this session we discuss
micro-blogging and take a look at a few of the many free micro-blogging
Mike: Gordon, I know you've really got into micro-blogging recently - could you describe what it is?Wikipedia
defines micro-blogging as:"a form of blogging that allows users to write brief text updates (usually less than 200 characters)
and publish them, either to be viewed by anyone or by a restricted
group which can be chosen by the user. These messages can be submitted
by a variety of means, including text messaging, instant messaging, email, MP3 or the web."
I think we've both developed a recent addiction to micro-blogging. Your
recently wrote a blog describing Twitter, Jaiku and Pownce. Many are
calling these social networks, or micro-blogs. Can you describe what
In Twitter and
Jaiku you provide information about your thoughts, activities and/or
whereabouts. Some users update so often, that it's almost like
real-time updates. Pownce works similarly, but allows users to easily
share links, files and events. Twitter is still the most popular of the
three, but Pownce - by invitation only
- seems to be gaining quickly. I'm not sure I understand the attraction
of these sites - maybe it's generational, but they're very popular and
seem to be addictive.Gordon: You wrote about a real-world use of Twitter by the Los Angeles Fire Department.
Can you tell us about that?
Members of the fire department provide real-time updates (known as tweets) of LAFD
activities and operations. Anyone interested can subscribe or follow
this Twitter. Imagine the uses at a college or university - we could
provide updates on availability of writing or math labs or even our
testing center. We could also provide registration information in
real-time, such as number of seats, new sections, cancellations etc. To
think of it, you could also use these tools to manage your office hours
- in real-time!Mike: You've been tweeting on Twitter frequently. What kind of content are you posting?
find myself doing a lot of web surfing and I like to tweet the links
I'm reading for future reference. I had been tagging using digg (I
still do) but have found Twitter to be a little easier to use. I've
also got my Twitter micro-blog displayed on my full blog page. I like
tagging using Twitter because my tags are easier for others to find. If
you watch what I tag - I'm frequently tagging something one day and
then writing a full blog on it the next. I find this a very easy method.
Mike: How are you posting to twitter? Are you using any browser plugins or add-ons?
I've been using a Firefox add-on called Twitterbar. It's linked on the mozilla site - here's the download link: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/4664
It's from Tony Farndon (tones) at http://spatialviews.com
mozilla: The twitterbar extension allows you to post to twitter from
addressbar. A small unobtrusive grey icon sits to the right of your
addressbar, clicking on it will post your tweet, mouseover will tell
you how many characters you have left. You can also post by typing '
--post' or hit the grey arrow when visiting a webpage to carry out a
URL tweet (i.e it adds 'Currently Browsing: ' in front of the url).
Options for the extension include safe/secure mode, open twitter in new
tab after posting and the ability to change the URL tweet 'Currently
There are a number of other plugins/add-ons. Mashable.com has a great post titled 8 Awesome Firefox Plugins for Twitter
Mike: Have you started posting using your cell phone yet?
Not yet. You can receive updates from those
you're following (or just some people) on your phone and you can send
updates using text messaging. Twitter doesn't charge anything for this,
but you want to make sure you have a text messaging plan with your
cellular carrier. You can shut text messages from Twitter off at anytime by
replying with "off"
(and back on by sending "on"). And you can even specify
that it turn off automatically at night.
addition you can tweet from you instant messenger client. Right now
Twitter supports AIM, GTalk, Jabber, .Mac and LiveJournal.Gordon:
Mike - how about some of the others. You sent me an invite for Pownce
which I signed up for but have not spent a lot of time with. How does
Pownce was co-founded by Kevin Rose - the 30-year
old brains behind hugely successful news/social networking site digg.com
Digg allows user to post links to interesting news or websites and
other users to either "digg" or "bury" the article. Stories with the
most diggs rise to the top, while others disappear - it's a great way
to let the community filter news.
From NY Times article linkd in my blog: With Pownce You can send text messages to individual friends or groups of friends
on Pownce as well as post microblogs, or short announcements, to the
larger Pownce community. This function is very similar to messaging
services like Twitter or Jaiku, and is found on social networks like
Facebook and MySpace
(although Pownce’s messages cannot, at least for now, be sent to mobile
phones). You can also send your friends links, invitations to events,
or files like photos, music or videos. Of course, you can already do
that on a multitude of file-sharing Web sites. It is the combination of
private messaging and file-sharing that makes Pownce so novel.Gordon: Jaiku - can you tell us about that?
From Wikipedia: Jaiku.com is a social networking
service comparable to Twitter
. Jaiku was founded in July, 2006 by Jyri Engeström and Petteri Koponen from Finland
Mike: Are there any others?
recently published a piece called 10 Micro-Blogging Tools Compared
Let's run down the list as quoted in the Read/WriteWeb piece.
Tumblr is a very clean, slick micro-blogging platform. Its focus is on
simplicity and elegance. Similar to Pownce, users can share a variety
of things, including text, photos, quotes, links, chats, or even videos.MySay is what it says. Instead of text updates, users call MySay and say how they are doing today. Then, friends or family can listen via phone, e-mail, or the web.Hictu is a service for video microbloggers. A webcam and a mouse-click are
all that is needed to create a videopost. This streamlined solution
saves time and effort for traditional vloggers.Moodmill is a way to express your mood or current state of being. A sliding
scale facilitates this process, while a quick text update completes the
personalized service.Frazr is also very similar to Twitter. The main difference is one of
language. Frazr is focused primarily on the French and German markets.IRateMyDay allows you the ability to (yes, you guessed it) rate your day on a
scale of 'Worst' to 'Great'. Users can also provide a short text update
to accompany the rating.
Emotionr is a way to gauge your happiness on a scale of 1-10 (decimals
included). As the name touts, it is a way to express and share your
emotions and feelings with those around you.
Completely off topic - rumor has it Google Presently will be coming out this week!
Also discuss the gPhone and Robert Cringley's blog on Google.
Direct download: Micro_blogging_FINAL.mp3
-- posted at: 11:32am EDT
Sun, 9 September 2007
Intro: On Wednesday, September
5, Apple announced a new product, the iPod touch. In this podcast we take a look at the itouch.
Gordon, the itouch is not available yet - you've done a little research
- if you had to describe the device in a few words how would you
The iPod touch is
basically an iPhone without the phone. It comes in two storage sizes
– there is a 8 Gigabyte version for $299 and a 16 Gigabyte
version for $399. I’ve written about the iPhone and storage
capacity in the past - as a rough guideline, 1 Gigabyte of storage
space will hold approximately 250 songs or 45 minutes of video.
iPhone requires a 2 year AT&T contract while the iPod touch idoes not
require any cellular contracts. You buy it and use it as you would a
Gordon: Mike - the products appear to be similar and you have an iPhone - can you describe wireless connectivity?
In addition to allowing
you to listen to music and watch video the iPod touch has built in
wireless WiFi functionality and can be used for Internet access in
any area where there is WiFi availability. Places that provide free
WiFi access include most college campuses, libraries, some coffee
shops, restaurants, etc. Many of you probably have WiFi in your homes
now, with services provided by companies like Verizon and Comcast
Gordon: How about web browsing?
The iPod touch has a similar 3.5-inch widescreen display that the iPhone has
allowing you to surf the web, watch videos, TV shows and view photos. The iPod touch’s screen appears to be of a slightly higher quality than the iPhone, with 163 pixels per inch to the iPhone’s 160 pixels per inch.
For web browsing, and
like the iPhone, it comes with the Safari web browser. If you have
not had a chance to “surf? the web with an iPhone (or
iPod touch) the next time you are in the mall stop in the Apple store
and give it a try with one of the display models. I think you will be
Mike: I know you are impressed with the user interface - can you describe?
If you currently own an
iPod you are familiar with the click wheel interface that you use to
select, play, fast forward, etc. The iPod touch does not have a click
wheel, it has the same multi-touch screen interface as the iPhone. It
does not take long to get used to the multi-touch interface. You can
do all the things you can do with the click wheel and also use simple
hand motions like pinching, flicking and flipping to do things like
zoom in on websites, scroll though music lists and flip through album
covers. Once I tried multi-touch I was hooked.
Gordon: How about some differences when compared to the iPhone?
- There is no email client on the iPod Touch
- There is no Maps application on the iPod Touch
- There are no Stocks or Weather widgets on the iPod Touch
- There is no built-in camera for the iPod Touch
- There are no Blutooth capabilities for the iPod Touch
- The iPod Touch has a differently styled “Dock,? with a reflective
surface — akin to the Dock that will debut with Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard)
- While the iPod Touch is sleeping, the user can tap the home button
twice to bring up touch controls on the screen — a feature the iPhone
- The iPod Touch has a separate Contacts app — it’s built into the Phone application on the iPhone
- The iPod Touch has separate Video and Music apps, whereas the iPhone has a single “iPod? app that contains these functions
- There is apparently (and obviously) no microphone on the iPod
Touch, though it will be interesting to see if such audio-in
capabilities could be enabled via a third-party device.
- The iPod touch’s headphone jack is on the bottom of the device
- The iPod touch lacks a built-in external speaker
Mike: And how about iTunes - any news on where Apple is going with it?
Also if you own an iPod
you are familiar with the process of purchasing songs and video from
the iTunes store. The songs are purchased from the store using your
computer. The iPod is then connected to your computer with a cable
and the purchases are downloaded to the iPod. When the downloads are
complete you disconnect the cable and can now listen to and watch the
music and videos you purchased on your iPod. I’ve always found
this process cumbersome but it looks like it will get easier soon.
Later this month Apple plans to launch a Wi-Fi version of the iTunes
store. This means you will be able to purchase and download music
directly from the iTunes music store using an iPhone or iPod touch.
You will be able to find what you’re looking for, preview it,
buy it and download it directly to the to either of these devices. If
you own a classic iPod (with a click wheel) you will still have to
use the computer and cable to make purchases and downloads.
Direct download: iPod_touch_FINAL.mp3
-- posted at: 2:07pm EDT
Mon, 3 September 2007
Business and Industry continues to implement Web 2.0 technologies to
make things run faster and more efficiently. In this podcast we discuss
the use of these technologies by various corporations.
Gordon: Mike - you've been doing some reading and poking around in this
area over the summer - can you give us a list of some of your favorite
Mike: I've been reading Wikinomics by by Don Tapscott
(Author), Anthony D. Williams
Gordon: Mike - can you give any info on specific companies implementing these technologies?
By J. Nicholas Hoover
Jun 23, 2007 12:02 AM (From the June 25, 2007 issue)
Business technology execs at the Enterprise 2.0 conference
in Boston June 18-21 to explore integrating Web 2.0 technologies into
their enterprises. A.G. Lafley, CEO of Procter & Gamble, is pushing
improved internal and external collaboration primarily to develop new
products faster. Leading this effort is Joe Schueller, innovation
manager in P&G's Global Business Services. Schueller makes an
interesting observation that email is the biggest barrier to employee
use of more interactive and effective tools.
As a sender of an e-mail, I control the agenda of everyone around me.
E-mailers decide who has permission to read a message, and the Reply To
All button ensures that peripheral participants will be prompted long
after they have lost all interest. Blogs, in contrast, beg for comments
from those most interested.
P&G provides a study of how Enterprise 2.0
will take shape given the scope of its project and the way it draws on
tools from startups as well as big-name vendors.
Video from conference - Open/Download MP4
PPT from conference - Open/Download PPT
Gordon: What kinds of tools and applications are they using?
Mike: Starting in 2005, P&G began a Microsoft-centric collaboration initiative, with
unified communications, and
Web conferencing; and
content management and collaboration.
About 80,000 employees use Microsoft IM, and 20,000 have moved to
Outlook. P&G has a few SharePoint sites running, and the major
rollout started in August.
Now moving to offer employees a more diverse toolset.
Gordon: Are they doing any blogging?
Mike: Movable Type blogging software, which employees have used to create hundreds of blogs, including ones
by the VP of design
by the public relations department on how to discuss company issues externally; and
by Schueller, read mostly by IT folks.
Gordon: How about social networking?
Mike: Plans to launch social networking
intended to make it easier to find people with needed expertise.
Gordon: Have they tried any of the integrated
platforms? For example, the first one that comes to my mind is
Microsoft's Community Server - a product that integrates many of the
Web 2.0 based tools into a single platform.
Mike: Companies are finding monolithic solutions/platforms from
big players like Microsoft and IBM inadequate, even as they add support
for blogs, wikis, and calendar sharing, instead their focus is on
modular, flexible solutions and even the openness to IT also needs to
learn how to incorporate tools employees bring in themselves, he says.
Gordon: How about enterprise search - Google has their appliance - how is that working?
search - such as Google's search appliance - is another tool companies
are using to find and share information - unfortunately, P&G has
found this sort of keyword-based search limited. The solution - sharing
bookmarks and tagging articles, pages, and documents with descriptive
words, using a product from Connectbeam
that works with Google's search appliance - integrating tags and bookmarks with Google search results.
Gordon: What else are they doing with their web portal?
Mike: Additionally, their Web portal is being redesigned to include news and business RSS
feeds and allow employees to personalize the portal - future plans
include the ability to suggest feeds for employees based on their roles
and their Web history.
Gordon: We know on the
academic side it can be a hard sell to some employees who are pretty
fixed in their ways. How are big companies encouraging their employees
to use these applications?
Mike: The challenge -
getting people to use these tools, that many view as extra work -
employees who see anything other than e-mail as an addition to their
workloads. The approach is to try to integrate these tools into
employees existing workflow, with the goal of simplifying the process.
Gordon: P&G is one big company! Are there others moving in the same direction?
is not alone - others jumping on the Enterprise 2.0 bandwagon include
Bank of America, Boeing, the Central Intelligence Agency, FedEx, Morgan
Stanley, and Pfizer. As part of an initiative called Intranet 2.0,
Motorola has 4,400 blogs, 4,200 wiki pages, and 2,600 people actively
doing content tagging and social bookmarking.
Motorola employees also can more easily find people with experience in specific areas using social networking software
from Visible Path or checking author pages on wikis. "It actually lets
people see new relationships--to see maps of what smart people and like
people have done," says Toby Redshaw, Motorola's VP in charge of
Enterprise 2.0 technologies. The result is that the company is building
knowledge centers around particular problems and products.
That's the end goal for Schueller--that
employees and partners searching for information on the intranet,
creating profiles, tagging documents, and sharing bookmarks make the
content more valuable.
Direct download: Enterprise2_0_Sept_3_2007.mp3
-- posted at: 7:59pm EDT
Mon, 6 August 2007
You may think Google and Yahoo have a lock on search but it may be time
to starting thinking a little differently. In this podcast we take a
look at some niche search sites.
Mike: Gordon, we love Google products and services - is there a the problem?
may be Google does too good of a job! Have you ever tried Google
searching on a persons name? A simple Google search on my first and
last name gives over 1.9 million results!
three companies control almost 90% of online search:
50% of all searches are done using Google
25% on Yahoo
over 13% using Microsoft
are some problems though – these search engines primarily give
results based on the number of sites linking to a page and the
prominence of search terms on a page. Because they work this way
there is room for niche.
this kind of lock on search it would be almost impossible for a
startup to launch a successful general search product - right?
- it would be almost impossible but we are seeing some acrivirt in the
niche areas. Areas like travel and finance are niches that have already
been filled but today there seems to be some room in the
people search area.
Mike: Are there companies in this market we should be looking at?
of the startups to watch is Spock at www.spock.com.
Spock is scheduled for their public launch the first week of August.
Among other places on the web, Spock scans social networking websites
like Facebook and LinkedIn. Search results give summary information
(age, address, etc) about the person along with a list of website links
that refer to the person.
to Spock 30% of the 7 billion searches done on the web every month
are related to individuals. Spock says about half of those searches
concern celebrities with the other half including business and
personal lookups. According to Spock, a common problem that we face
is that there are many people with the same name. Given that, how do
we distinguish a document about Michael Jackson the singer from
Michael Jackson the football player?
billions of documents and people on the web, we need to identify and
cluster web documents accurately to the people they are related to.
Mapping these named entities from documents to the correct person is
what Spock is all about and they’re coming at the problem in an
Mike: I've looked at Spock - what is the Spock Challenge?
launched what they call the Spock Challenge – more formally
referred to as the SPOCK Entity Resolution Problem linked here:
you go to the site you can download a couple of data sets – one
called a training set (approx 25,000 documents) and the other called
a test set (approx 75,000 documents).
with the document sets they include a set of target names. You assume
that each document contains only one of the target names (even though
most documents contain many names). The challenge is to partition all
the documents relevant to a target name by their referent.
Mike: When does the contest begin and end?
It has already begun on 4/16/07. It will end on 11/16/07. On
11/16/07, Spock will run the final round of the competition and announce
Here are the dates off the website:
4/16 Registration started
5/1- 8/15 Proposal submissions accepted
7/1 Leader board live
11/1 Finalists announced
11/16 Final round at Spock, winner announced
Mike: What languages and tools be used?
You can use any language and any non-commercial libraries, tools
and data to develop the solution. There is one catch - the winner grants Spock
non-exclusive right to use the software and data. As an FYI, much of Google is actualy written in Python with the Search Engine Core written in C++. Python provied scripting
support for the search engine. and some apps like google code are done
in pythonMike: Can you give us and example of how this works?
From their website: Consider
the following two documents with the target name "Michael
Jackson - The King of Pop or Wacko Jacko?
Jackson statistics - pro-football-reference.com
referents of these articles are the pop star and football player,
respectively. They’ve also included the ground truth for the
training set so you have something to compare against.
you're done training, you can run your algorithm on the test set and
submit your results on this site. Spock will provide instant feedback
in the form of a percentage rank score. This way you can see how you stack up against the
they provide you with a lot of well constructed data, and the ground
truth about that data. “Ground truth? data is real
results and you use this information to validate your search
data is documents about people, and the challenge is to determine all
the unique people described in the data set. This data can be your
training set. Once you have got your basic algorithm working against
the training set, they let you further tune your code by running it
against a second test data set and give you instant accuracy feedback
in the form of a score. The score depends on how many correct unique
people you can identify in the data. This way you can continue to
refine your work, and see how you are doing, and how well others are
This looks like a great academic challenge. At
the end of the contest time, you submit your code, a 3 page
description of your approach, pre-built binary executables that can
run in isolation on Spock servers, and your results (the “Software
Entry?). Spock will select the finalists based upon
submissions, and fly the finalists to visit the judges. The winner
will win $50,000, 2nd place wins $5000 and 3rd place wins $2000.
Mike: How doe people enter?
may enter the Contest by registering online at
. You may register as an individual or as a team. During the
registration process, you must provide your name, your age, your
email address, and the country you are from. If you are entering on
behalf of an organization, a school or a company, you must identify
its name. If you are registering as a team, you must provide the same
information for each member of your team as well as the identity of a
team leader. You will also provide a name for your team or for
yourself by which you or your team will be known to other
participants in the Contest. Spock may change the name if it feels
the name you select is not appropriate for any reason.
Mike: What are the differences between the Spock Challenge and the Netflix Challenge? From Netflix website: The Netflix Prize (http://www.netflixprize.com ) seeks to substantially improve the accuracy of predictions
about how much someone is going to love a movie based on their movie
preferences. Improve it enough and you win one (or more) Prizes.
Netflix Prize improves Netflix ability to connect people to the movies they love.
Netflix provides you with a lot of anonymous rating data,
and a prediction
accuracy bar that is 10% better than what Cinematch can do on the same
training data set. (Accuracy is a measurement of how closely predicted
ratings of movies match subsequent actual ratings.) If you develop a
system that Netflix judges beats that bar on the qualifying test set
provide, you get serious money and the bragging rights. But (and you
knew there would be a catch, right?) only if you share your method with
Netflix and describe to the world how you did it and why it works.
In addition to the Grand Prize, we’re also offering a $50,000
Progress Prize each year the contest runs. It goes to the team whose
system we judge shows the most improvement over the previous year’s
best accuracy bar on the same qualifying test set. No improvement, no
prize. And like the Grand Prize, to win you’ll need to share your
method with us and describe it for the world.
The Netflix contest started October 2, 2006 and continues through at least October 2, 2011.
So..... back to your question - The Netflix Challenge will run another 4 years; Spock Challenge has
every intention to give out the grand prize to a team with a reasonable
solution at the end of the 6 months.
Netflix Chellenge sets an absolute standard for winning the grand
prize; Spock Challenge intends to award to the best reasonable solution.
Mike: How about some other companies?
– www.wink.com Similar
to Spock – launched a few months ago. Claim that Wink People
Search now searches over two hundred million people profiles.
Searches people across numerous social networks including MySpace,
LinkedIn, Friendster, Bebo, Live Spaces, Yahoo!360, Xanga, Twitter
and more. Also included in the results are Web sources such as
Wikipedia and IMDB with more coming all the time.
– www.zoominfo.com Specializes
in executive searches. Claim 37,131,140 People and 3,518,329
Companies indexed. You can currently search on three categories –
people, jobs and companies.
Searchwikia - http://search.wikia.com Jimmy Wales and his open-source search protocol and human collaboration project. From Press release:
"Last week Wikia acquired Grub, the original visionary
distributed search project, from LookSmart and released
it under an open source license for the first time in four years. Grub
operates under a model of users donating their personal computing
resources towards a common goal, and is available today for download
and testing at: http://www.grub.org/ .
Grub, now open source, is designed with modularity so that
developers can quickly and easily extend and add functionality,
improving the quality and performance of the entire system. By
combining Grub, which is building a massive, distributed
user-contributed processing network, with the power of a wiki to form
social consensus, the open source Search Wikia project has taken the
next major step towards a future where search is open and transparent".
Direct download: niche_search_FINAL.mp3
-- posted at: 6:36pm EDT
Mon, 23 July 2007
In this show we take a look at some previous blog postings.
Thanks to all that attended and special thanks to our presenters and Juniper
Networks and Apple as sponsors.
There have been a couple of interesting
product upgrades/releases over the past few days.
The first is
application that allows Skype to run on the iPhone and other mobile
The second is the release of Skype on the
N800 Internet tablet. The small hand-held
device connects to available Wi-Fi networks that we're all finding just about
News quote from
"We will see more Skype and similar free Wi-Fi
phone services moving into mobile devices in the U.S. and Europe, he said,
although Europe could adopt it more quickly. However, he said he expects to
see "mobile operators put up as many roadblocks as they can" in both
Both of these products allow free Skype voice
calls from anywhere to anywhere with Wi-Fi access.
Computing recently published a piece evaluating 6 Skype Alternatives
Each alternative adds enhanced features that
Skype currelty does not
offer. Here's the list:
Central - This product allows you to
select one phone number and link up to six phone numbers you enter into your
user profile. For example, you can set your Grand Central account to ring both
your office phone and your cell phone. The one you pick up is the one that
connects the call.
Each of these products offer features and functionality beyond current Skype
offerings - it will be very interesting to see what
Google does with Grand
Grand Central was acquired by Google a few days ago
(Mike Q was the
first to tip me off) and is currently taking number reservations on their
TalkPlus is sort of the opposite of Grand Central - it allows you to have
several phone numbers that all ring to one phone. TalkPlus is inexpensive but
not free. They currently offer number in 32 different countries and especially
looks like a great product if someone has relatives in other parts of the
Jajah - I've
blogged on Jajah in the past - see link
provides a paid service that allows calls to be routed to landline/cell to
landline/cell in many parts of the world without long distance fees. Here's
how it works: Let's say I'm a Jajah customer and I want to call my brother who
is living in London. I log into my Jajah account at jajah.com, enter my
brother's landline or cell number and my landline or cell number. Jajah makes
the connection and rings my phone and then my brothers phone over connections
that are local to each of us.
Talkster's paid service provides calls from phones to to voice-enabled
instant-messaging services like GoogleTalk and Yahoo IM. One of the neat
things about Talkster is that it allows you to see your friends presence
(whether or not they are on IM) using you mobile phone browser.
Jangl - Jangl is a
currently free service (even for international calls) that works similar to
Jajah - it connects phone network end-points. The difference is Jangl does not
require that you know the number you want to call. Jangl uses semi-permanent
phone numbers and allows people to call you that don't know your permanent
Jaxtr - Jaxtr is
similar to Jangl with a flashier user interface. It is also currently a free
service for domestic and international calls. Both Jangl and Jaxtr's anonymity
features cater to the "social networker" market.
Now Skype is not without competion,
T-Mobile HotSpot @Home service For $10 a month, on top of your regular
plan, you can eliminate the problem of poor wireless coverage in your home and
make unlimited calls without using voice-plan minutes. All it takes is a
broadband connection, a Wi-Fi network, and one of two Wi-Fi-ready handsets
sold by T-Mobile. T-Mobile's product is based
on Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) - we'll have to do a separate podcast
on this technology.
There’s been some recent
about Verizon and
product installation. FIOS is a fiber optic network service that
delivers voice, video and data services. You may also see it referred to
as a Fiber to the Premises (FTTP) or Fiber to the Home (FTTH) service that
Verizon is selling and installing in select markets in 16 different
Most who have the service installed are extremely happy with the bandwidth
and cost when compared to lower bandwidth DSL and Cable Modem services.
The product has become so popular that it is even being used as a selling
point by real estate agents when marketing homes.
A few are complaining though. It appears Verizon, when installing the FIOS
service, is cutting out the existing copper lines leaving the customer
with only one option – fiber and FIOS. There are a couple of good reasons
from a business perspective for Verizon to do this. The first is the
existing copper wiring is old and requires a significant amount of
maintenance – Verizon spends hundreds of millions of dollars a year just
maintaining the existing “copper plant? and it makes sense to remove it
when it is replaced. The second reason is the
Act of 1996 which requires the telephone companies (like Verizon)
share their existing copper lines with competitors. There is no current
legal requirement for Verizon to share new fiber optic lines with anyone.
In fairness to Verizon, there is a three step notification process for
people who sign up for the FIOS service. According to the
Herald Tribune, customers are told by the Verizon sales person, it is
indicated in the sales contract and the customer is told by the technician
that the copper will be cut out. Currently, Verizon is publicly stating
they will replace removed copper if a FIOS customer wished to revert back
to copper service.
Also according to the International Herald Tribune, Verizon has filed more
than 100 notices with the
Communications Commission to retire portions of copper throughout its
I can understand the customer concerns about lack of choice and some
technical issues like battery back-up and also Verizon’s concerns about
having to maintain two separate networks.
Reporter has reported that
make an investment of $100 million in the development of casual games.
Casual games are games that are typically played for a few minutes at a
time - examples include puzzle and card games. This announcement was made
Kids and Family Group President Cyma Zarghami at the
Casual Connect Gaming
Conference yesterday in Seattle. Zarghami is quoted:
"Particularly in the kids' space, with
more than 86% of kids 8 to 14 gaming online, we see great momentum for
online casual gaming,"
Also, according to The Reporter:
"Included in the Nickelodeon initiative is
myNoggin, a preschool educational game in the form of a subscription
service; an expansion of the Nicktropolis multiplayer games franchise;
Nick Gaming Club, Nickelodeon's first subscription offering featuring
multiplayer games with 3-D avatars;
a casual gaming site geared toward female teens; and the transformation of
to NeoStudios, a property centering on the creation of new online virtual
In addition, the
Game Association (CGA) has released some preliminary data from their
Casual Games 2007 Report. Here's a few preliminary data highlights from a
The number of games being submitted to major online portals has doubled
over the past two years, suggesting an increase in new publishers
developing more titles.
In 2006 the most popular casual games were Mystery Case Files, Diner Dash,
Cake Mania, Bejeweled and Slingo.
Women still make up the majority (74%) of all paying players online with
men now represent about half of the much-larger non-paying player
The number of games being submitted to major online portals has doubled
over the past two years, suggesting an increase in new publishers
developing more titles.
The rapid growth of the casual games market has prompted companies to
create games for more audiences and also for more platforms, including the
Internet, PC and Macintosh computers, Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo DS, Wii
and even mobile phones and PDAs.
The full CGA report will be released in the fall - if you are interested
in receiving a copy watch the CGA website at
or send an email to
Direct download: July_21_FINAL.mp3
-- posted at: 3:23pm EDT