My Thoughts Exactly

Such a Deal!

Hey Friends! How’d you like to support a struggling genius AND get a great deal on an excellent book (or two)? Today and tomorrow I’m offering my astounding novels at astounding discounts. If you dig Wetmachine, now would be a good time to show it, for once again the wolves are at the door. And if you just dig a good price on a good book, that works too.

The books in question are my Acts of the Apostles, a well regarded nanotech thriller, ostensibly about Gulf War Syndrome, which I wrote between 1995 and 1999 and published in 1999. Normally this goes for $15, but how does $5 sound, including shipping in North America? I’m offering the same deal on my Cheap Complex Devices and pre-orders of The Pains.

And of course, donations in support of the site (or any individual blogger: Me, Harold, Gary or Howard) are also always welcome.

Below the fold, more about these wonderful books, along with simple instructions for cashing in on these great, nay, scandalously great, deals.

Read More »

Posted in My Thoughts Exactly, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments (Comments closed)

Tales of the Sausage Factory

Telcos Find Link Between Google, Net Neutrality, and Al Qeda

As others have chronicled, the people who brought you “Net Neutrality Is In Its Last Throes” and “Deregulated Telecoms Will Be Greeted As Liberators” have now launched a new campaign based on the highly successful tools of this administration and the conservative noise machine generally. This is perhaps unsurprising given the paucity of arguments the anti-net neutrality folks have at this point.

The fear of Google is attractive. Any huge entity attracts concern, and rightly so. I’m pleased that Google has “don’t be evil” as a credo, and that by and large it has done a good job sticking to that. But they are a large corporation like any other, and if they become convinced that something contrary to the public interest is in their best financial interest, I know which way to bet. For this reason, you find a number of perfectly reasonable folks, such as industry observer Robert Cringley (whose push for local ownership of infrastructure hardly makes him a telco or cable enthusiast) is now worried that Google has accumulated a sufficient mass of resources to take over the internet the same way Microsoft took over the desk top.

Please note that this has nothing to do with network neutrality. In fact, if Google really did have an evil plan to leverage its network assets and services to dminate the internet, thelast they would want would be network neutrality. Network neutrality means treating everyone equal, so if Google became the uber-Tier 1 carrier — what Cringley alleges is Google’s ultimate plan — the last thing Google would want would be a requirement to carry everyone’s traffic equally. It would be like Microsoft fighting to keep its monopoly by making the GNU GPL mandatory for all desktop operating systems.

But, as the current Administration has discovered, we don’t need logic. We just need a big old cloud of anxiety and the power of repetition. If you fear Iran and its nuclear ambitions, you must support a surge in Iraq , because Iran supports U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, and Iran has nuclear ambitions. If you fear Google invading your privacy or dominating net applications, you must fear network neutrality, because Google supports network neutrality and they’re big and scary. Network neutrality is a plot by Google to take over the internet, because Google wants to take over the internet and they like network neutrality. And did we mention they’re big and scary? Biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigggggggg and scaaaaarrrrrrryyyyy!!!! And they like network neutrality. So Network neutrality is scary and bad, like Google, but without the “I’m feeling lucky!” button.

Mind you, you can find plenty of examples of this kind of logic in the mainstream media. You can see this amazing (as always) clip of Stephen Colbert demonstrating how the mainstream media uses this technique on Barack Obama. In a world where the mainstream media apparently believes that voters will make their decision on whether his middle name is Hossein or whether his “business casual look” is too much like Iranian President and fashion plate Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, we can expect the cable cos and telcos to push the link between Google, net neutrality, and Al Qeda

I’ve been at Media Access Project snce 1999. Long enough to remember when America Online and the telcos supported not just network neutrality, but “open access” (letting ISP resell broadband capacity). A fair number of folks accused open access supporters of being AOL shills or tools of the telcos. But after AOL merged with Time Warner, and Michael “deregulate them all and God will know his own” Powell took over the FCC, the companies that had backed open access switched sides. But the public interest community, including MAP, kept fighting the same fight (which has now morphed into the ‘net neutrality’ fight) long after the industry folks switched sides or dropped out.

As I have said many times before, citizen movements must stay citizen driven. Corporations will act in their best interest. They will spend money if they think it will help them earn more money. But that’s as far as they go.

You can’t get a million people or more in this overworked, busy 24/7 world to fight for something — in the face of a continued barrage of advertising, push-polling and the pervasive corrosive cynicism that you can never hope to win in our corrupt political system against the corporate powers that be — unless they believe in it. And you can’t get people to believe in it — especially in the face of the barrage of misinformation — unless there is really something to it. Especially when we are talking about a geeky technical policy issue that no one outside Washington ever heard of a year ago.

So yeah, Google supports network neutrality, and for their own reasons. But chosing to support or not support a cause because Google does is about as stupid as deciding whether or not to vote for Obama because both he and Ahmadinejad hate ties.

For the record, I hate ties too, and I support network neutrality. Just like Obama supports network neutrality. So I guess I must have links to Ahmadinejad. Hopefully, this will not scare away too many readers. But for those unafraid of the frightenng link between network neutrality, me, Barack Obama, and Ahmadinejad,

Stay tuned . . . .

Posted in Series of Tubes, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments (Comments closed)

Tales of the Sausage Factory

Freedom 2 Connect Returns to Silver Spring

I am a big fan of David Isenberg generally, and of his annual F2C: Freedom to Connect conference in particular. It pains me no end that I am going to miss it this year because I will be in Israel. But I urge anyone interested in the big policy issues around connectivity to attend.

Why? Because David has a genius for bringing together smart people of the higest caliber, who will be involved in these policy debates from every angle. And unlike an industry trade conference, or even a meeting of all my friends at something like the National Conference on Media Reform, no one gets a free ride. Despite David’s personal interest in preserving net neutrality, no punches get pulled in the back and forth. The issues get discussed and debated in an atmosphere conducive to genuine audience participation — rather than the usual dog and pony show.

It helps that the conference site is not your standard hotel ballroom or convention center. The conference takes place at the American Film Institute HQ in Silver Spring, MD (about half a mile from my home, an inducement that does not apply to everyone). David also has the delightful innovation of including a musician to provide music for transitions and breaks. While that may sound unconventional and weird, it works very well without getting all new age-y and stuff. The AFI’s physical lay out encourages socializing dring the breaks, and the large theater is quite comfortable. Also, at the previous conferences, Dewayne Hendricks has provided reliable wireless.

So click through to the F2C Website and scope out the program.

Stay tuned . . . .

Posted in General, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Tagged , , | Comments closed

Tales of the Sausage Factory

VDC — Video VOIP

I confess I hadn’t heard of VDC: Virtual Video Cable until they filed a program access complaint. Of course, since the vast majority of people probably hadn’t heard about that either (or even know what a “program access complaint” is), I imagine I remain in the distinct minority.

VDC bills itself as a purely broadband-based cable-like service. I compare it to “video VOIP” (or voice-over-IP for the five readers unfamiliar with the acronym). In theory, a service like VDC could provide real competition to cable by letting you get an actual cable service (as opposed to video clips like YouTube or random episodes from iTunes or from some streaming site) — just like VOIP allows a company like Vonage or Sunrocket to offer voice if you have a broadband connection so you can discontinue phone service, saving a bundle (assuming your broadband provider does not make you buy a bundled service or interere with your VOIP packets).

So it is unsurprising that when a possible competitor like VDC emerges, cable uses its market power to try to squash it like a bug. In this case, cable companies have resurected one of the old reliable tricks from their early days: deny the would-be competitor needed programming. Here, Time Warner has refused to enter into negotiations to make CNN available to VDC. (We can expect that if this doesn’t do the trick, cable cos will move to the new fangled tricks — mess with the packets.)

But VDC has a few weapons in its arsenal. It has invoked a provision of the 1992 Cable Act called the “program access rule” that Congress passed to force cable operators to make programming available to would-be competitors like Direct Broadcast Satellite (DBS) providers. VDC has only two problems:

1) The complaint is being handled by the FCC’s usual cable enforcement staff which, as I have observed previously, does not exactly move on “internet time.”

2) The program access rules stop working (“sunset”) this October. So even if staff resolve the complaint in something approaching reasonable time, it may not do much good.

So is video VOIP dead before it even starts? Not necessarily. For a full explanation of what’s going on and how you (yes, you) can help make video VOIP a reality, see below . . . .

Read More »

Posted in Cable, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments (Comments closed)

General Exception

Yes, they'll probably wipe us all out… but they look cool!

An industrial designer has taken a shot at designing some nanobots: http://www.coroflot.com/public/individual_file.asp?portfolio_id=337714&individual_id=124392&sort_by=1&

These are apparently going to be used in a film, and are (for now) just 3D rendered images. Not sure how realistic these really are… but they really do have that sleek semi-consumer electronic, quasi dangerous look about them. Sorta like a cross between the Terminator and a Robosapien.

Posted in General, General Exception | Tagged | 1 Comment (Comments closed)

Tales of the Sausage Factory

I was wrong, Second Life Does Teach People (Or, At Any Rate, the IP Mafia) Valuable Lessons for Reality

As regular readers may recall, I have had sharp words for those who can’t tell the difference between MMORGs such as “Second Life” and reality. Nor do I stand alone. Industry Reporter Clay Shirky over at Corante wrote this article a few weeks ago describing how the business press generally appears to have fallen into some sort of Second Life worshipping trance. So it may surprise some to see me lauding Linden Labs’ latest innovation as a fantastic contribution with the potential to make the real world a better place and teach those who need it a valuable lesson in life.

I refer to what the always clever folks at Good Morning Silicon Valley dubbed a “proceed and persevere” letter (the opposite of the “cease and desist” letter). What happened, and why I hope it catches on, below . . . .

Read More »

Posted in General, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments (Comments closed)

Inventing the Future

“Turn me on dead man” (The Beatles)

The Collaborative for Croquet should be good to go, again. Get the new download.

We’ve lengthened the fuse on self-destructing deleted stuff and improved the error logging, and have not seen further “no such object” errors. (Except for one person who was using an older version. This beta release doesn’t check your version, but I could tell from the error report that it was something we fixed two versions ago.)

Also, the Macintosh VM that was included in the last download had gotten miscopied somewhere along the chain. Testing the new .zip confirms that it works on Mac and Windows. (Linux folks will have to test on their own.)

Anyway, this beta version still doesn’t have anything to reset itself if someone does manage to crash things, so if it takes longer than a minute or two to connect, let us know.

Posted in Inventing the Future, KAT | Tagged | 1 Comment (Comments closed)

Inventing the Future

Computers suck. Film at 11.

There’s something wrong with what the Collaborative .zip file did to the Mac VM. Needs a new one this weekend. Stand by…

Posted in Inventing the Future, KAT | Tagged | Comments closed

Inventing the Future

“Well, no one told me about her… She's not there…” (The Zombies)

Getting nothing but a red screen at CroquetCollaborative.org? Here’s why.

Croquet keeps track of everything ever created, so that anyone can tell each object to do stuff. Most of the demo applications in the current SDK keep track as long as they are running. That creates a problem for our KidsFirst Application Toolkit demo,
and its public space at the Collaborative for Croquet. The public space is meant to be a long-lived environment, in which you can come and create (or destroy) stuff and rearrange it, and come back later to see things as you left them (perhaps evolved by someone else).

So we resort to a very old programming technique. And if you’re a developer, we need your help!

Read More »

Posted in Inventing the Future, KAT | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments (Comments closed)

Inventing the Future

The Collaborative For Croquet

We’ve got a bunch of Croquet stuff going on. We have the KidsFirst project in early education. There are a few folks who would like to work with the KidsFirst project as educators, academics, etc., but who need an entity to work with. We also have a fairly traditional open-source development project for the software used by KidsFirst, called the KAT: KidsFirst Application Toolkit.

And we REALY, REALLY, REALLY want a place that people can just connect to and try Croquet. To interact with others through Croquet. To come back another day and have some hope of finding the same 3d world, evolved though it may be, but still maybe having some of the same things that had been put there in the previous visit. A little open-source 3D-direction-manipulation real-time collaborative place on the Internet.

And so we have formed “The Collaborative For Croquet”.

Check it out at: CroquetCollaborative.org.

Posted in CroquetCollaborative, Inventing the Future | Tagged , , , , | Comments closed
  • Support Net Neutrality!

    The Internet Strikes Back

  • Connect With Us

    Follow Wetmachine on Twitter!

    Email Updates

    Subscribe with just your email address To get updates for all Wetmachine posts. Want more control? Log in using your Wetmachine account (or with your Facebook, Twitter, or other social media account), or register for a Wetmachine account.

Username
Password

If you do not have an account: Register