My Thoughts Exactly

Some painful things & a request

When I announced The Pains on April 18th of this year I said that I was going to try to do an update every two weeks or so. There has not been an update since.

I apologize. Sometimes the real world just gets in the way. I also promised to ship copies of the printed book “this summer”, and I still intend to hold to that promise, by which I mean that the books will ship before September 23nd or so. Yes, I’ll be cutting it close, but I’ll do it somehow.

See, the story is written, but it’s written longhand in my notebooks. I just have to find time to type it up, proofread, format, etc. Getting it online is the hardest part, just typing it up. From there to formatting for printing is not such big deal. When I did “Cheap Complex Devices” it only took nine days from when I gave my files to the printer to when the books were in the mail to paying customers. So I’m not too worried about the endgame.

I won’t make all kinds of excuses for the delay (not many of you have been paying attention) but I gots to tell you, it has been one hell of a spring around my house. One hell of a spring.

So my request is twofold: (1) If you’re waiting for the next installment of The Pains, especially if you have already pre-ordered a copy, please continue to be patient. An update is coming soon; hopefully I’ll get three or four chapters up over the 4th of July holiday break and (2) if you have ever had any inclination to pre-order the pains, or to buy a copy of my other books “Acts of the Apostles” and “Cheap Complex Devices”, or just to throw a few dollars towards the general support of Wetmachine, now might be a good time to do some clicking. A few dollars would come in handy right about now. And besides, every copy I sell of Acts or CCD is that much more closet space in my not-overly-large house!

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

My stint as featured blogger at Public Knowledge

For the next week, I’ll be doing a stint as the “featured blogger” on Public Knowledge’s policy blog. As regular readers will know, I’ve often applauded PK as one of the key organizations fighting against expansion of intellectual property rights at the expense of the public, and critical in working to expand the intellectual commons. I’ll still try to post here as well. But I may just point people to PK.

For example, click here to see my update on the Adelphia transaction.

Stay tuned . . . .

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Inventing the Future

Doonesbury goes to MIT

The choice of which school would turn out to accept cartoon character Alex Doonesbury was decided by on-line poll. Heh. Those other schools never had a chance.

13,6-1,’86 IHTFP

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Inventing the Future

KISS

It is being reported that the guys at Smallthought have gotten some funding for their DabbleDB product. That’s cool.

I like the core capability: multiple-view, spreadsheet-like shared-Web access to arbitrary user-created databases. That is, server-side Web2.0 plus Group Forming Network math, as applied to databases. Built on Smalltalk.

I also think this is a nice example of building a small and simple downmarket application, and then using modest revenues to build features to head upmarket on top of your core capability. (Christensen, Moore, etc.) The eventual target presumably being Oracle’s PeopleSoft.

I’m surprised that they they took as much money as they did this early. I think this is good, but not a change-the-world killer app. Lots of folks can do this. (Laszlo (where John works) and Curl (where John and I used to work) should approach stuff this way rather than chasing the enterprise from the start.) Maybe Web-Winter is thawing?

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Inventing the Future

Steven Wright, Where Are You?

Does anyone else think it’s odd that today, Warren Buffett made the biggest private gift in history, and he gave it to… Bill Gates?

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

The Joker in the Stevens Deck — Section 1004

In the dead of night, just before the latest draft of the Stevens bill came out, a helpful Telco lobbyist inserted a little provision to stack the deck in the case of judicial review. Section 1004 of the Stevens draft now places exclusive jurisdiction for all decisions by the FCC in the D.C. Circuit. This includes not just network neutrality, but media ownership, CALEA, wireless issues, anything.

Why would anyone do that you ask? Because the D.C. Cir. is, without doubt, the most activist court in the land when it comes to pressing its vision of media and telecom policy. More than any other court, the D.C. Cir. can be credited with destroying hope of telecom competition in the United States by perpetually reversing and remanding the FCC’s efforts at rulemaking and enforcement until the FCC finally gave up and effectively deregulated. The D.C. Cir. is also responsible for vacating (eliminating by judicial fiat) the rule preventing cable companies from owning television stations where they have cable systems, and overturning much of the FCC’s cable and broadcast ownership limits. Finally, through the legal doctrine known as “standing”, the D.C. Crcuit has done its best to make it impossible for regular people to challenge FCC decisions or bring individual cases on antitrust grounds.

As a practical matter, the move privileges large companies that can afford to litigate in DC. If you are a small company somewhere else, upset about how FCC action impacts your life, you must now get a lawyer familiar with DC practice ad Petition for review here. Of course, the best (and most expensive) firms most likely have deals with your larger rivals, precluding them from taking the case.

So no wonder why the telco lobbyists want this provision. But why on Earth would anyone else? However, because it comes in at the end, while most of the action takes place elsewhere, it may slip by.

So certainly go to Save the Internet and follow the directions on how to call the Senate Commerce Committee and tell them you want real network neutrality. But don’t forget to tell them at the top of your lungs STRIP OUT SECTION 1004! DO NOT GIVE THE DC CIRCUIT EXCLUSIVE JURISDICTION OVER FCC RULES. You’ll be glad you did.

Stay tuned . . . .

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

Stevens Bill Score Card Pre-Mark Up

And what a mark up it will be! Senators have proposed hundreds of amendments (more than 250 at one point, but now down to something over a hundred as deals get done). Meanwhile, the Stevens Bill itself has undergone significant rewrite. You can find the final pre-mark up draft at Jim Baller’s site here. For comparison, you can read about the Democratic substitute here (and my brief summary of same here).

Below, a brief score card on some issues I singled out previously: Opening broadcast white spaces (still in, but facing a “poison pill” amendment from DeMint (R-SC)), program access (dropped by Stevens); Broadcast flag (sadly alive and well); Munibroadband (much improved, thanks in no small part to Jim Baller and the coalition of tech folks, muni orgs, and public interest folks put together by Jim Kohlenberger); and, of course, net neutrality (brought up to COPE levels, with some flavoring added to try to buy off the Christian conservatives).

Most importantly, the telcos have inserted a very nasty joker in the deck, known as “Section 1004.” This Section is designed to rig any post-legislation appeal by giving the D.C. Circuit exclusive jurisdiction over all things FCC. This would be a catastrophe not merely for network neutrality, but for media ownership and just about any other provision of law (and therefore merits a post of its own).

More details below . . . .

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

I am (temporarily) blacklisted by Comcast

Ever have one of those days when your paranoid fear seems to be happening. You know, like the guy behind you in the dark suit and mirror shades really seems to be following you?

Yesterday, just after the Senate Commerce Committee voted to delay debate on net neutrality and program access until next week, my emails to Comcast subscribers started bouncing. The bounce message informed me I was permanently blacklisted [i.e., blocked] as a “spam source.”

A nefarious plot to keep this terribly effective and persuasive advocate from reaching The People in time to effect the Commerce Committee vote? The first step in making me an “unperson?”

Probably not, given that it got straightened out reasonably quickly and — lets face it — would do Comcast more harm than good. But it was sufficiently unsettling that I have to ask again, even more strongly than before, why would we want to live in a world where Comcast or any other provider has no need to fix the problem, because we’ve eliminated all the rules?

Full story below . . . .

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

Yet Another Amazing Esme Conference Comes To a Close

Sorry to go dark for so long. As future posts will explain, it’s been a busy time and likely to get busier.

One thing keeping me busy has been my presence here at Esme’s latest conference on muniwireless broadband. In addition to time with the fabulous Esme herself a number of very cool people are also here.

The conference has morphed quite a bit since I attended the first one below. My brief reflections (and what it means for the muniwireless industry generally) below.

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Inventing the Future

Pardon my demo…

Sorry that I haven’t been writing. To busy coding. News soon. But a cute thing happend today that I have to share…

I was starting a demo of some Internet-accessible collaborative spaces, and someone else was there! Frank Wattenberg, a colleague at the US Military Academy was in the same space. I had to use the in-world communications facilities to ask him if he wouldn’t mind leaving for a little while.

I guess it was only a matter of time. Time and a lot of effort to get to the point where accidents like this can happen.

Hmmm. Frank’s been trying to find the time for some instruction on how do WAN Croquet. I think he’s figured it out!

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