I don’t get to spend as much time as I’d like on the Collaborative for Croquet, but I’m still pleased with progress on our software. A lot of people are trying it out from all around the world (ain’t the Internet grand?), and it’s standing up pretty well. Time to clarify expectations. (The punchline at the end is that you have use the latest version.)
By Stearns | March 28, 2007
Last week, Qwaq announced Forums, its enterprise conferencing product.
And yesterday, Impara announced an English language and free trial version of Plopp, its kid’s sketching product.
By Harold | March 27, 2007
My good friends at Future of Music Coalition (FMC) launched a major campaign today for net neutrality. Called “Rock the Net” (a name whose lameness caused some modest embarsement at the begining of the call, but sometimes you gotta grab that cliche by the horns so you can trample the wolves while swimming from the sharks), the campaign brings together major music groups to raise awareness of the net neutrality issue and press for network neutrality legislation (such as the Dorgan-Snowe bill pending in the Senate).
Why do musicians care about network neutrality? And who are Future of Music anyway? See below….
By Harold | March 23, 2007
Everyone interested in economics and how it impacts policy should watch this video clip of Yoram Baum explaining Mankiw’s ten principles of economics.
I laughed so hard, my pump was totally primed! — John Maynard Keynes
What is the sound of one invisible hand clapping, the market after watching Yoram Baum — Adam Smith
By Harold | March 21, 2007
Every now and then, I take a break from the delightful and snarky world of blogging to dash off the odd researched piece for an academic journal. This is always an annoying and painstaking process, because academic journals want footnotes not just the occassional link. They also dislike articles that use terms like “incumbent whankers.”
Still, the effort (when I can find the time for it) is usually worth it — at least from my perspective. You can judge for yourself by following the link to the Commlaw Conspectus website and downloading From Third Class Citizen to First Among Equals: Rethinking the Place of Unlicensed Spectrum in the FCC Hierarchy.
For those unsure if its worth slogging through 39 pages of lawyer writing, here’s a summary. The FCC has a basic hierarchy of licensed spectrum, licensed by rule (family radio service and a few other things), and unlicensed spectrum. From a wireless perspective, the FCC exists for licensed spectrum, has a few oddball things licensed by rule, and has a few slivers of space open for unlicensed spectrum. Unlicensed spectrum is the “third class citizen,” required to shut off if it causes the least interference to licensed services while accepting any interference that comes its way. When the FCC allocates spectrum rights, it does everything possible for licensed services while looking with askance at the free-wheeling unlicensed poor relation. As a result, licensed services get choice spectrum and unlicensed services get the leavings — and that on sufferance.
In my article, I argue that the First Amendment calls for standing this on its head. Licensing of spectrum came about because old technology couldn’t handle everyone using this all at once we call this the “scarcity rationale,” because the need to license spectrum to avoid interference made licenses ‘scarce’). But because the FCC must give the approval for any new technologies, the technology to eliminate scarcity (and thus eliminate the need for exclusive licensing) will never come about. This circular reasoning offends the First Amendment. Accordingly, when the FCC considers whether to permit unlicensed uses, it should need to justify its decisions under a higher Constitutional standard than it does in other licensing cases (“intermediate scrutiny” rather than “rational basis” for all you legal types out there).
Besides, I argue, it’s also better policy.
While I hardly expect the FCC and the federal courts to read my piece and exclaim: “At last! What perfect wisdom! What fools we have been!” I do hope this helps advance the debate some. As with everyone else who publishes in a field where the debate has simmered for a few years, I argue for a “third way” between licensing and commons. Rather than eliminating exclusive licensing altogether, or proposing we split the spectrum down the middle, I propose allowing a gradual evolution in technology and until exclusive licensing will gradually wither away, with perhaps a handful of truly sensitive services still licensed exclusively.
Of course, if that happened, your cell phone bill would drop like a rock, ubiquitous wireless broadband would become too cheap to meter, and television and radio conglomerates would lose their precious monopolies on the airwaves. So don’t hold your breath.
Stay tuned . . .
By Stearns | March 20, 2007
It seems that the RIAA going around scaring children again.
By John | March 20, 2007
We are extremely pleased and proud to announce that OpenLaszlo 4.0 is now available. This is the first official release of the new multi-runtime edition of OpenLaszlo, complete with a native browser DHTML (“ajax”) runtime, a heavily revamped Flash (7, 8, 9) runtime, and much more. With OpenLaszlo 4.0, you can compile source LZX applications for any supported target with a single mouse click.
OpenLaszlo 4.0 is available from http://www.openlaszlo.org/download
In addition to literally hundreds of improvements to all aspects of the platform software and documentation, we have added new features, such as support for streaming media. The documentation tools have been re-implemented in order to to make them easier to maintain and also to give us more possibilities for arranging and accessing the data in the Reference Manual. Eventually, this will allow us to provide better cross-referencing, better indexing, more user control over presentation of information, and more options for printing and displaying the documentation.
We have put a lot of effort into improving our open source processes. The tools we use to build, test, and analyze OpenLaszlo have matured significantly with OL4. We have changed to using Subversion, for source control, in order to enable a more open development process. The build is now based on ant 1.6.5, rather than ant 1.5. We have created a new testing tool, lztest, for automated testing, to complement lzunit, our tool for application- and component-level testing. We have created a suite of benchmarks and benchmark analysis tools. By any criterion, this is the most ambitious and significant release in the history of OpenLaszlo.
The OpenLaszlo project aspires to be truly open and inclusive. Raju Bitter, our OpenLaszlo community manager, is on board to answer questions, streamline processes, and generally make it easier for you to play a vital part in this platform’s success.
Post questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or to the OpenLaszlo Forum. Please report bugs, especially regressions from OpenLaszlo 3.x, to our bug database.
OpenLaszlo 4.0 is the culmination of a project that began more than a year ago, and it embodies the contributions of dozens of community members from around the world. Thank you, and congratulations to all of us!
We are pleased to offer our customers whatever services they want, as long as they don't help competitors . . . .
By Harold | March 16, 2007
As some of you may have heard, carriers Cingular, Qwest and possibly other carriers are refusing to allow their subscribers to call freeconferencecall.com. Expect a number of other services to suffer similar fates — barring regulatory action or other legal steps.
What’s going on? It’s actually not a net neutrality issue (although as Bitchslappin Blog points out, it does serve as a rather nasty reminder of what is likely to happen in a non-neutral network). The issue here stems from a rather complex bit of regulatory arbitrage that I don’t fully understand myself. The facts here remain very murky, and I have no idea of the carriers are legally entitled to block these calls. (although my gut feeling based on my very surface understanding of the applicable law and the available facts is a qualified no — How’s that for legal caveats and wishy-washitude!) But if you’d like my speculaton on what I think is going on here, and why it’s likely to go on, read below….
By Stearns | March 13, 2007
There has been private, academic, commercial and non-profit Croquet development for a while now. Much has been internal and proprietary (and even military) and so the general public has not had a chance to see it. Less than two months ago, we cobbled up an open sample application.
Meanwhile, the folks at Qwaq have been working hard in stealth mode, building a sophisticated application and aiming to be the first clearly commercial Croquet play. Read more.
By Harold | March 12, 2007
I’m back from a vacation in Israel to discover an amazing economic analysis of network neutrality posted by my good buddies at Consumers Union on hearusnow.org. Written by University of Florida Economists Hsing Cheng, Subhajoyti Bhandyopadhya and Hong Guo, Net Neutrality: A Policy Perspective applies game theory to the network neutrality debate. They conclude that abandoning network neutrality would create a disincentive for broadband network providers to build fatter pipes.
If this analysis seems familiar, it’s because I wrote something similar (but without the fancy math) about a year ago. As always, I get warm fuzzies whenever economists confirm my Econ 101 “gut check.”
Of course, these guys being real economists (as opposed to undergrad posseurs like yours truly) have a bit more to say on the subject and use lots of fancy math that I will not try to reproduce. But I offer some brief plain language explanation (including what I think are the brilliant points in the analysis) below….