Comcast protests broadband stimulus grant applications

Comcast protests broadband stimulus grant applications - FierceTelecom
David Cohen, Comcast's executive vice president, claims that since the U.S. Broadband stimulus funding program was designated to bring broadband services to areas where service is not available, targeting areas where it already provides service could 'violate eligibility rules.'
Of course, "provides service" is a term that Comcast defines to mean one access point somewhere in the vicinity, not actual "service" that is available to all.

You Can't See My House From Here: And I'm okay with that

Having written several posts in the past about Google Street View, including one featuring the house in which I was born, I thought I would post a Street View picture of where I live now:

Cobb Hill on Google Street View

As you can see--or rather, not see--the Google Street View camera vehicle did not get very close. In fact, it drove along the state highway near us, but that was it. Street View does not extend to the county road on which our 'official' address is located. And I'm okay with that.

I remain ambiguous about Street View in light of it's potential for abuse as a scouting tool by burglars and perverts. This has been widely discussed, particularly in the context of English cities where the narrowness of streets can put the Google camera very close to living room windows. But past discussions have focused on urban street views. Now Google is photographing rural roads, adding a new dimension to the potential for abuse.

It is no secret that farmers and ranchers don't always store their tractors and trailers in barns. In fact, putting all the equipment away at the end of every day, or every time you left the homestead to go to town, well that would be hugely unproductive, not to mention being a major pain in the butt. It's also common knowledge that some farms are located close to, sometimes bifurcated by, state and county highways, as seen here on Street View.

But common knowledge and specific knowledge are two different things; keeping them apart may keep some light-fingered city types from pillaging trusting country dwellers. Now Google Street View is bringing them together. Who knows who is surfing the hinterlands looking for easy targets?

Please Read Before You Decide to Rely on Satellite Internet: Caveat Emptor, Googlius Checkum

In other words, Google the service you are considering. Consider the level of satisfaction indicated in these results from searching the word HughesNet and the word sux:

hughesnet sux - Google Search Shared via AddThis

And don't expect satellite Internet service to get any better. Service tends to go in cycles as the system becomes overcrowded with subscribers after a sales drive and special offers. New capacity is then added, which improves service for a while, then a news sales drive leads to declining service, and so on.

If you are considering buying residential property in a rural area and need Internet connectivity make sure the property has access to wired Internet access or reliable WiFi/WiMax wireless Internet. Do NOT buy into the false notion that you can get by with satellite service. The limitations and frustrations are just not worth it.

Seismic Stuff: Practical Electric Flight Takes Off (from China)

I wanted to point out a great article in this month's edition of Sport Aviation, the EAA magazine.

That would be EAA as in Experimental Aircraft Association.

Simply titled "Electric Flight," this article is the first description that I have read of practical electric flight, not as a concept, but as a reality, with an objective test pilot at the controls. Taking off and landing on battery power.

Just to be clear, the actual plane you see in the picture is capable of taking two people aloft for several hours with no fossil fuel, just batteries, with a recharging cost of about $3 per hour! Future developments could well produce versions that are capable of flying cross-country (in stages) just like any other Light Sport Aircraft, but without many of the pre-flight checks required by petroleum powered aircraft (e.g. there are no oil/air/fuel filters to check). And this is not the opinion of some electric vehicle nut. The author of this article, Dave Morss is a very practical test pilot with 25 years experience. He was clearly impressed by the plane, the Yuneec e430, and the team that created it. Consider these two quotes:
As for dependability, this may be the first plane I’ve tested that could fly nonstop, except for battery changes, for three days right out of the box (literally) with no squawks.
Nobody told them they couldn’t build an airplane in three months, so they just did it. It’s refreshing to work with a team with no limits. They’re relentless. They’re ingenious. And they’re determined to make electric flight a reality.
What makes this aircraft so seismic is not just the realization of practical, comfortable electric flight that can be mass produced--an enormous thing in itself--but also the fact that the team making it happen is from China. If anyone needed convincing that Chinese are serious competitors in both innovation as well as production, this is it.

(Unfortunately, I have not found the article posted in any public location on the web but I will keep looking and post a link if I find one.)

A Tale of Intrigue & DNS: See HughesNet “blocking” my blog, now on YouTube

I have just uploaded my "HughesNet DNS Fail" video to YouTube but you can watch it right here. To be honest it is not my most polished video work, but I think it gets the job done. I have another one in the works that might be more effective. The plot goes like this: At times when HughesNet refuses to show me my own blog--yes, this very blog that you are reading--I can reach it via my iPhone over the AT&T Edge network. One of these days I am going to get really calm and centered and call HughesNet support with iPhone in hand and try to explain the flaw in their DNS ways one more time before I call in the sharks.

Genetic Hemochromatosis or Haemochromatosis? Neither one is good news

I did not know, until someone commented yesterday on an earlier post about genetic hemochromatosis, that the English spell it haemochromatosis. So I thought I would create this post to let other people know, and to link the hemo posts together (if you click on that link it will take you to a menu of the blog posts here that are about Genetic Hemochromatosis or Haemochromatosis).

In case you are new to this blog, genetic hemochromatosis or haemochromatosis is a condition in which the victim's body does not handle excess iron very well, resulting in long term and potentially fatal organ damage (liver, heart, kidneys, adrenal glands, pituitary, thyroid, etc.). Sometimes called iron overload disease, it is technically a condition and not a disease, but it can be pretty bloody miserable if you have it, whatever you call it.

A stunning percentage of doctors know less about this disease than you can read on this blog, and a surprising number of doctors and victims don't know about the Celtic genetic connection of the condition, which you can read about in the other posts and the links I have put there.

Finally, this blog is not devoted to iron overload, it is my personal blog about anything that interests or concerns me. Because my life partner of nearly 25 years has this condition, iron overload concerns me. I would like to help other people know more about it (if my partner's condition had been diagnosed sooner, she would not have been so badly disabled by it).

Most Worst Recession: Most worst copy editing?

ap-logoYesterday, I was stunned to read an Associated Press story that cited "more evidence that the most worst recession since the 1930s was losing its grip on the global economy." Here's one example of the story.

I was stunned, not by the idea that the recession might be ending, but by the lack of copy editing. Since when did the AP give up on correcting egregious errors like "most worst" anything? I have a lot of respect for the AP and I sure as heck don't want to annoy them by pointing out their flaws. If you've done any work in PR you know that AP stories frequently get repeated in hundreds of newspapers and on thousands of sites all over the Internet. Getting your product or company mentioned in an AP story is a PR milestone.

But it's this mass replication that worries me when it comes to declining standards in copy editing. Right now a Google search for "most worst recession" returns over 51,000 hits and I'm betting most of those hits are that AP article. How long before students routinely refer to the current recession as the most worst?

Way to Aim Low: US Telcos Embrace Mediocrity and Low Standards

Read it and weep for the glory that was once America...

"US telcos have hit on a clever idea to provide universal broadband to every US citizen - they're calling on the government to define broadband as anything over 768 Kbps downstream and 200 Kbps upstream." TG Daily - US Telcos call for lower broadband speeds

Just to be clear on how utterly absurd and abysmal this is, American phone and cable companies are openly embracing a broadband standard of well under one Mbps, repeat, less than 1 Mbps. Compare this to:

Japan : 92.8 Mbps
Korea: 80.8 Mbps
France: 51 Mbps

That's right, Korea's idea of broadband is something 80 times better than what America's telcos have in mind for us. Way to go AT&T, Verizon, Comcast. Way to show our kids that aiming high is no longer the American way. Once the envy of the world, American telcos have officially embraced a "whatever" attitude to excellence.

First it was the American car makers giving up to the likes of Japan, Korea, and France. Now it's the telcos. They are so reluctant to do their duty and provide proper broadband to rural homes and businesses they are prepared to throw in the towel and admit they can't match the performance of their foreign counterparts.

Before anyone comments that "duty" has nothing to do with free enterprise, ask yourself whose roads and rivers and airspace it is that these companies use to conduct their business? Their business model relies on the use of resources owned by Americans as a whole, their duty is to serve Americans as a whole, and they know it.

For those with strong stomachs and citizens who promise they have taken their blood pressure meds, there are more absurdist remarks and patronizing quotes from the telcos in this Reuters article.

p.s. Before anyone comments that France is not a powerhouse in automobiles I should point out that the French car company Renault owns 44% of Nissan (making Nissan/Renault bigger than Ford, i.e. makes more vehicles than Ford) so it is the world's 4th largest, while the French PSA Peugeot Citroën automaker is 7th.

Coffee, French Toast, and Stagecoach WiFi

This is not really a technology post. It is more like a techie-related signpost, pointing first to great coffee and French toast at Stagecoach Coffee in Cooperstown (which has free WiFi). Check out the iPhone snapshot for mouth-watering details.

The second pointer is to a YouTube video that is somewhat techie, and which I uploaded from the very same Stagecoach. The video is about problems with DNS and HughesNet Satellite Internet service.

Great But Could Be Greater: BRAMMO Enertia Powercycle

[Stop Press: Updated Price Closer to $7,000 after Federal tax credit! Way to go Brammo]

So, it now looks like you can now buy a real electric motorbike, for immediate delivery. This is the BRAMMO Enertia Powercycle. It is described by the maker, BRAMMO, as:
"the perfect commuter vehicle for the environmentally conscious visionary. Classic styling joined with the latest technology!"
I think it does look pretty cool, if you go for the industrial gray seen here, rather than the symbolic green. But I also think BRAMMO is doing several things wrong, starting with a six letter name that is all caps. I mean BMW and GMC yes, but it's Honda, not HONDA. Unfortunately, merely switching to lower-case cannot save the actual product name: Enertia. What is that? A lifeless lump? Something that has run out of gas? I know it's green so maybe they meant e-nurture, like nurturing the environment by going electric. Whatever, that name has got to go. If I was lucky enough to have one of these bikes (and in many ways I do want one of these bikes) I would be scratching the name be off there in a flash. Come to think of it, the Brammo Flash is way better than the BRAMMO Enertia.

But I won't be getting one of these bikes, not at $12,000!!! That's right, that's the cost of this device, apparently set that way to make sure film stars and rich people are the only "environmentally conscious visionaries" seen astride this product. To put this in perspective, you can buy two decent low-emission, gas-powered motorbikes for that. Heck, get a 2009 Honda CRF230M for $4,750 and you can brag about getting 90 miles to the gallon, maybe not as green as an e-bike, but a pretty small footprint nonetheless. Are green bragging rights really worth $7K! Shoot, you could buy the Honda and give the $7K to Greenpeace.

[Note: 70 days after I posted this, the price was cut to $7,995 which means the effective price, after Federal Tax Credit = $7,195, and the Brammo is now a serious contender for commuters and street bikers.]

Nope, this is not the way the world shifts to e-vehicles. I am seriously looking at getting a motorbike to use instead of a car when I make my daily run to the post office (which I make because the post office won't deliver to our house). But even if I won the lottery tomorrow it would be hard to justify paying 2X the going price for decent motorbike just to be seen on a BRAMMO Enertia.