Sunday, January 23, 2005
I'm currently using a Cisco router (1700 series with ADSL wic) and a Linksys WRT54GS for wireless connectivity.
I've upgraded the Linksys so it uses the Sveasoft firmware (currently Alchemey-6.0rc6) which is only available to Sveasoft subscribers (yes I paid my $20 annual subscription). They've done some nice additions to the bog standard Linksys code.
This shows how open source software works and can make money. Sveasoft make money from subscriptions and from "feature bounties" i.e. someone (or more than one person) on the forums paying one of the developers to add a feature. When the software is stable, they release it to the "public" and anyone can download it.
Linksys also win, as they can add the Sveasoft enhancements to their codebase, so take the features they want. This means bugs get fixed quickly and the product actually becomes more feature rich.
I believe the story goes that linksys didn't originally make their code open source, but had a few problems with the FSF as they based WRT series on a Linux codebase. After a fight they didn't just release the code, but also the complete toolchain so anyone with an x86 Linux system could build a .bin file which could then be uploaded to the router.
This is a win/win situation. Linksys sell WRT units, Sveasoft make some money AND Linksys get a base of developers adding features and fixing bugs which they can add back to their codebase.
Saturday, January 22, 2005
demon.net home page
Last week was a bad week. I wont go into specifics of why at this current time, but I was notified that my "job is at risk" which means my job is going to be made redundant at the end of Feb.
It's all been a bit of a shock, but these things happen.
I've been at Demon Internet since '94, but was officially employed in March '95 so that's almost 10 years to the day that I'll have been there.
I was part of the original group of people that had a meeting with Cliff Stanford and thought Internet could be successfull in the UK prior to anything actually having been decided. I was one of the founder members when it did launch in June 1992.
I also instigated the vPoP (virtual Point of Presence) which is where Demon bought backhaul from Energis who had local numbers throughout the UK and terminated them in a single data centre. This directly lead to the formation of the 0845 (non-geographic) number range which changed the face of Internet in the UK.
So I'm (potentially) looking for a new job.
My role at THUS (Scottish Telecom acquired Demon in March 1998 and floated as THUS in November 1999) has been "Head of Product Futures" where I've owned the Product Roadmap. I've also been involved in the regulatory side of things and am a media spokesperson - having written articles etc that have been published both in local and national press.
I would describe myself as a "fluffy geek". Though I have a good technical knowledge, I've not been directly involved with technology projects for a while.
So if anyone knows of any Internet/telco strategy type roles or wants someone who can explain technology to non-techie people, do get in contact.
Friday, January 14, 2005
KenRadio Broadcasting - Content
Sorry you have to register to view the site, but it's an article entitled 'Steve Jobs rules the world with "mini me"', which is about the launch of the new iPod shuffle and Mac mini.
The Mac mini is obviously Mr Job's 3rd incarnation of the Cube (NeXT Cube, Mac Cube now Mac mini) and it looks like this time he may have got it right. Instead of charging a premium, he's given it all the features you need in a base unit and at a sensible price.
It's the perfect box for a PC user who buys an iPod and realises they need to upgrade to run iTunes, why bother with a new PC just go for the Mac - use your existing keyboard/mouse/monitor.
The iPod shuffle will hit the solid state MP3 player market right in the belly with a punch to hurt. It may not be perfect (I'd want to screen, but they'll need an iPod shuffle2) but it will attract all those iPod wannabe's who cant quite afford an iPod mini.
Seems Crucial (the memory people) who had a memory upgrade for the mini yesterday morning, removed it yesterday afternoon, have put it back today (it uses standard PC2700 memory anyway) - about half the price of Apple's and you can sell the Apple DIMM (of course you also void warranty).
p.s. I've got an old NeXT slab, it needs a disk and memory and if anyone knows how to fit it out and get some software on it, do let me know.
Monday, January 10, 2005
Vonage - The Broadband Phone Company
Vonage have come to the UK, £9.99 per month (about $15.00) for the residential service which includes the Linksys ATA (analogue telephone adapter) which has two phone ports and a 3 port Ethernet switch.
You need an existing broadband connection, which could be cable or DSL. If it's DSL you're paying about £10 pm for the line rental and £20'ish pm for the ADSL. It all adds up. Vonage does give you the advantate of a 2nd line, but various CPS (carrier pre-select) services give you similar primary services for about the same price (i.e. about 10 quid per month all you can eat UK dialing).
Also most broadband in the UK is actually provided by BT Wholesale (about 4.1M BTW ADSL customers, maybe another 30,000 from local loop unbundlers). Most of this is consumer broadband, which is 512Kbits/s downstream and 256Kb/s upstream, but contended at 50:1. That means up to 50 people sharing your Internet bandwidth. Generally it's not that bad, and a lot of Internet protocols are bursty (BT's network statistically multiplexes the data streams) so most of the time people wont notice the contention too much. However voice traffic isn't bursty, it likes to have a clear network path where packets travel in sequence in nice equal time periods etc (i.e. consistent latency and jitter for the techies).
There's going to big consumer take-up of VoIP services, then a consumer backlash as no-one can currently guarantee any kind of QoS metrics and calls cut-out or pop and crackle.
When LLU eventually does take off, and DSL with QoS is offered, then VoB (voice over broadband) will stand a fighting chance.
Bungie.net : Games : Halo 2
Well what can I say ? I've NEVER been good at video games, well that's a complete misnomer, I've been completely pants at video games. Having worn contact lenses my eyes would dry out after 10 minutes of playing on a PC or even console. Even after I stopped wearing them, things weren't much better.
This weekend I plugged the Xbox into the plasma, and WOW. I actually completed the first section of the game, OK it took me most of the day and I was only on easy level, but hey it's a start. I had to re-adjust one of the control sticks (i.e. invert it) but actually enjoyed it and the graphics were stunning.
Halo2 is great fun.
Wednesday, January 05, 2005
In the UK "3" was the first to launch, they had a roaming agreement with O2, and for most of the country customers would pretty much use they O2 network. 3 launched a consumer service based on cheap price plans and giving away video content and video calls. They needed to do this as they were a new entrant and needed to get a customer base. They still haven't launched any data services (no Internet access through your 3 phone).
Meanwhile the GSM networks sat around and bid their time, building out networks and working out their best course of action.
3G licenses were NOT cheap (in the UK they paid about £5 billion EACH for the right to role out a network) and for that they have to meet certain license conditions like reach 60% of the population by 2010 (I think). The GSM networks have a slight advantage in that they have existings masts around the UK, but the technology is completely new and it's a completely new build of infrastructure.
3 of course being the newbie didn't have that luxury they had to start from scratch, so when 186K went under (a UK telecomms provider with some national network), they bought it allegedly for £1, but took on all their debt (which was a lot).
Vodafone and Orange launched their 3G services in the 2nd half of 2004, but only data services. Why, well a lack of decent handsets and businesses use data for connecting mobile staff, remote working etc and businesses will PAY for it.
Vodafone and Orange have since launched consumer services, but though available they're not vastly pushing it yet. Vodafone have already got an active base on Vodafone!Live and the 3G experience will just enhance this.
O2 are biding their time, they've just announced their going to use imode in the UK, 3G will be a good system to launch this on, hopefully they also ensure that they encourage content providers by having sensible revenue shares like NTT Docomo do in Japan (not like WAP on GPRS/GSM in the UK). Who knows what T-Mobile are up to.
When all the existing GSM network do launch 3G, the I'd guess the GSM networks are going to be used for cheap and cheerful consumer services (until the frequencies get re-allocated to 3G, which wont happen at least until 2010), and when this happens anyone basing a 3G network on cheap price plans is going to lose customers fast as consumers just want cheap calls and a no frills service. Unfortunately they don't have any network loyalty and with number portability they can even move their number with them.
I'll make a bet that one of the networks gives back it's license rather than pay the penalties for not meeting the conditions, and having shareholders revolt.
I've written about various topics like 3G (mobile), tablet PC's, ENUM, SMS, convergence and many more.
Ken Rutkowski does a daily tech-talk chat show, and I've appeared on it a couple of times.
You have to register to get to most of the content on the site, but there's some good stuff there, also join the newsletter (that also goes out everyday).
Tuesday, January 04, 2005
OpenLLU - Open Local Loop Unbundling
This is my personal gripe at the moment, unfortunately I don't think it will actually be solved.
This is a site I set-up explaining some of the issues of the process of local loop unbundling (LLU) in the UK. LLU is the process where ISPs and (what were) Telecomms companies can put their own equipment in British Telecomms digital local exchanges.
The companies going down this route are all fighting each other when they should be fighting BT. If everyone joined forces and pooled resources, they'd have a fighting chance to build out a braodband network that could compete with BT in terms of size (i.e. exchange penetration) and services.
In 2006 BT start to role out their 21st century network (21CN) which replaces the Public Switched Telephony Network (PSTN) with one based purely on IP, they hope to turn off the last PSTN line in 2009. If the new entrants got together and collaborated, they could have their own competing 21CN NOW.