May 21, 2002

Webcasting copyright licensing rules rejected!

Wow, this is an interesting turn. The Librarian of Congress rejected the findings of the CARP arbitration panel.

The Librarian of Congress now has until June 20, 2002 to issue his final recommendation. This should be thought of as a victory, because the CARP pricing scheme would have effectively killed Internet Radio. However, things are still up in the air, because this is only a rejection of CARP's report, and does not detail the new pricing scheme that the Librarian will accept.

Posted by dsifry at 8:46 AM | View blog reactions

May 20, 2002

Microsoft: We can't release code because of National Security

Yet another reason why infrastructure should be as open as possible, eWeek goes over last week's Microsoft's testimony where Microsoft VP Jim Allchin tried to explain to the court that Microsoft should be allowed to keep certain APIs secret because they are so vulnerable that disclosing them would constitute a threat to National Security, incluiding issues in its digital rights management systems, and an enterprise system called Message Queueing. To quote from the article:

When pressed for further details, Allchin said he did not want to offer specifics because Microsoft is trying to work on its reputation regarding security. "The fact that I even mentioned the Message Queuing thing bothers me," he said.

The mind boggles. So Microsoft's screw-up will be an acceptable defense to keep its protocols secret? Wow. If this isn't one of the mist Alice-in-wonderland turns in recent memory, I can't think of many better ones. Perhaps it would only be stranger if the judge actually bought the argument, I suppose.

It's as if asprin could actually be turned into poison if it was taken while a particular high-pitched tone was sounded, but the asprin manufacturers used the fact that asprin is a part of the Army's standard medical kit, and that if they had to disclose the frequency of the sound, it would put our military at risk. Rather than just FIXING THE PROBLEM, of course.

Posted by dsifry at 5:55 PM | View blog reactions

May 13, 2002

And another group plans to offer free roaming has just announced their existence. Started by a pair of German CS graduate students, they say it is not just another database of open APs. Rather, they are working on an authentication system based on NoCatAuth (sound familiar yet?) that will allow for free roaming across registered hotspots. A first Java-applet based client is done and they are working on integrating it into NoCatAuth. Rock on, guys.
Posted by dsifry at 1:31 PM | View blog reactions

Building Community Wireless Networks Slides

Rob Flickenger's slides from the O'Reilly Emerging Technologies Conference are now available online. Gives a good discussion on how NoCat Authentication works.
Posted by dsifry at 1:16 PM | View blog reactions

NoCat team proposes handing out the 10.x network for a "Virtual Public Network"

Cory Doctorow, blogging from the O'Reilly Emerging Technologies Conference, notes that the NoCat folks are proposing to hand out slices of the 10.*.*.* network-space to people who operate radios that use NoCatAuth.

Interesting idea - but there are a few problems:

(1) You've got a limited IP Address space. (2) No one considers you the authority, so others are going to use the space as well. (3) How do you deal with rogues? (4) It is going to require a huge VPN - or at least IP-in-IP tunnelling system to allow for routing between nodes in the private space over the public internet, along with all the routing headaches associated. These are not small problems.

It is an interesting idea, though, akin to Sputnik's roaming capabilities - by placing authentication databases at a number of centralized points, Sputnik already provides this free roaming capability, without the need for tunnelling or dedicated IP space. We're solving somewhat different problems - Sputnik for example, is not built to give each wireless user his own unique IP address; rather it is allocated from the pool that each Gateway delivers, and therefore some of the whiz-bang routing features of the NoCat proposal aren't implemented. However, at the same time, the smaller problem set allows us to avoid the big problems mentioned above.

Posted by dsifry at 1:09 PM | Comments (1) | View blog reactions

May 12, 2002

The "tragedy" of the radio spectrum commons?

Glenn Fleishman posts a great commentary on the recent discussion about the "tragedy of the commons" of the 2.4 GHz space. Given some comments on the matter by Dewayne Hendricks, member of the FCC Technology Adisory Council and chairman of the FCC's Spectrum Management Working Group. Definitely worth a read - Glenn points out the real issues involved, the technology limitations, and the industry standards coming out designed to promote shared use of the spectrum.

This is an interesting thought experiment - will the success of the 2.4GHz spectrum (and any other unlicensed spectrum) fail due to its own success? Will illegal amplifiers turn the spectrum into another Citizen's Band? Even without illegal amps, is it doomed to failure because the density of devices will increase too quickly?

I don't think so. But it does remain an open question - how much is enough? In other words, as 802.11h and other standards that help to reduce interference become more popular, at what density of spectrum do even those methods fail? Surely there is a transmission power and density for which the specrtum becomes unusable. The question is, can technological advances outpace the bandwidth needs of the public? As more bandwidth is available over the airwaves, whether by spectrum allocation, frequency increases, or new standards for interoperable devices, at what point will the spectrum be rendered effectively unusable? To what extent is legislation or regulation needed here?

Maybe the answer lies in the fact that the unlicensed spectrum (2.4GHz, used by 802.11b and others, and 5.3GHz, used by 802.11a), while unlincensed, IS NOT UNREGULATED. Among other things, all devices have to follow FCC Part 15 rules, which means that they must be approved by the FCC before the manufacturers can offer them for sale. Perhaps the key to saving the commons is to ensure that these devices are interoperable and, well, for the lack of a better term, polite to other users of the spectrum.

Of course, this would be an extension to the FCC's regulatory capacity - essentially asking it to endorse certain protocols at a layer above the radio. However, I think that by focusing on protocols rather than products, it (a) does not act anti-competitively, and (b) promotes the public good (remember, WE own the airwaves!) by enabling more functionality and usability of the spectrum we use. And if we are smart, we can agree to a level of interference protection that all higher level radio protocols can use, allowing for even greater flexibility.

Think of it as a new layer, sitting between layers 1 and 2 of the network stack - the new layer would provide for interference detection, channel switching, and possibly even automated changes in the spread spectrum algorithms to make sure that different devices, running different higher-level protocols, would automatically detect each other and not interfere with each other.

Posted by dsifry at 2:50 PM | Comments (2) | View blog reactions

May 10, 2002

OpenOffice 1.0 for Linux - not bad!

I've been playing with the latest OpenOffice (which has just gone to 1.0) and I must say that it is pretty darn good, giving me no problem with common documents, both .doc and .xls files. Yes, it is a hefty program, weighing in at about 60MB, but it works pretty well.

You can download it from the main site or there are debian binaries available by putting the following in your /etc/apt/sources.list:

deb unstable main contrib

and then doing "apt-get install". Kudos to the OpenOffice team.

Posted by dsifry at 12:40 PM | Comments (1) | View blog reactions

Good Technology announces wireless e-mail service on Blackberry

The company is backed by Kleiner Perkins and Benchmark Capital, whose partners John Doerr and Bruce Dunlevie are on the board. Good had raised $6 million in its first round raised in May 2000 and $53.5 million in several tranches between November 2000 and July 2001, none of which were disclosed at the time.

Good Technology's wireless e-mail service functions on Blackberry devices as well as Good Technology's own G-100 devices, which the company plans to release later this summer.

What's cool about this? Its server software sits in your NOC and talks to your exchange server. It gives you up-to-date email/calendar/to-dos in real-time. So if your assistant schedules you for a last minute meeting while you're on the road, the device alerts you on the fly.

Posted by dsifry at 10:33 AM | View blog reactions

May 7, 2002

McDonald's serves WLAN broadband in Japan

The Register reports today on a that McDonalds will offer 802.11-based broadband at their resaurants in Japan. The service could cost as little as $12.50 a month, according to Reuters. This will be a venture undertaken by Softbank and McDonalds.
Posted by dsifry at 9:24 AM | View blog reactions

UWB Chipset Developer Wisair Closes $4.3 Million Series A

Wisair, a developer of ultrawide band (UWB) chipsets for wireless communications, announced the closing of $4.3 million in a first round of financing. [From Venturewire]
Posted by dsifry at 9:14 AM | View blog reactions

Transat Technologies Raises $6 Million Series A

Transat Technologies, a developer of software that enables laptop and PDA users to be authenticated and billed from their GSM cellular phone accounts for access to high-speed public and private 802.11 wireless LANs, said it closed its Series A round of funding with $6 million. [ From Venturewire]
Posted by dsifry at 9:12 AM | View blog reactions

Vocera closes $12M Series C round

Vocera Communications, a developer of wireless communications applications, is expected to announce that it has raised $12 million in Series C funding. These are the folks who were showing off the Star Trek-like communicator at Wireless Ventures last week.
Posted by dsifry at 9:10 AM | View blog reactions

May 6, 2002

New Sputnik Community Gateway 1.1 released!

802.11b Networking News reported it first - and Slashdot followed up. Yes, that's right, the new Sputnik Community Gateway has been formally released. The most important new features are:
  • PCI card support
  • PLX card support
  • Linux kernel 2.4.18 (latest and greatest)
  • Enhanced autoconfig of 802.11b card drivers
  • Support for the latest PCMCIA cards based on both the Intersil PRISM 2 and PRISM 2.5 chipsets
  • Smaller ISO image (was 49 MB, now 30 MB)
Understandably, support for PCI/PLX cards has been the most requested feature. We worked with Jouni Malinen to get some bugs in the PCI/PLX Linux drivers fixed and he really came through. We've seen significantly improved bandwidth figures when using the PCI cards - on the order of a 20-30% improvement over the PCMCIA cards. Now people can create APs using just about any old hardware, including those 486 doorstops piled up in basements across the land.

This release also coincides with a major website update that reflects our changed focus on building enterprise products. We are not going to charge for the Sputnik Network, ever. We hope that community networks will use the Network as an easy way to roam, and developers will use it to test out their Sputnik apps.

We're still working on the Enterprise gateway, which has a whole bunch of other cool features, including the robust backend management console, rogue AP detection, and more. Expect that release this summer.

Posted by dsifry at 5:50 PM | Comments (2) | View blog reactions

802.11b for your TiVo

This is very high on the coolness factor - An 802.11b wireless card for the TiVo. I remember when Tridge and the folks put out some of the first ethernet cards for the Tivo and showing off the streaming video over a network at LinuxWorld, but this takes it to a whole new level. I want one for the house. Now if I only had time to actually install it if I had it... Thanks to Rasmus for the link.
Posted by dsifry at 11:33 AM | Comments (2) | View blog reactions

Nokia, IBM release new "pretty" 802.11b AP for Public WLANs

Designed specifically to be asthetically pleasing, the new Nokia A036 Access Point has been released. More interesting is that Nokia claims the AP can be remotely software-upgraded to the 802.1x, 802.11i/TKIP, and 802.11f IEEE standards from the network management center as standards become finalized.

They also claim that due to its new design, it will reduce rollout costs by 25% because of its integrated antennas, quick mounting mechanisms, and power-over-Ethernet (PoE) support.

Posted by dsifry at 9:03 AM | Comments (1) | View blog reactions

May 5, 2002

While we're on the topic of Scams...

Pixelon, described in an Industry Standard article had it all - a bizarre founder, cult-like atmosphere, and spent $16M (out of a recently funded $20M) on a launch party in Las Vegas featuring bands like The Dixie Chicks and The Who.
Posted by dsifry at 4:04 PM | Comments (2) | View blog reactions

Magic Box: An amazing hoax story

The Jacksonville Times-Union has a very interesting series starting today going over one of the most incredible scams of the dot com era. Worth a read.
Posted by dsifry at 3:54 PM | View blog reactions

PC Magazine does 2 mega-reviews of wireless devices

PC Magazine reviews 2G/2.5G devices and 802.11 devices.

Worth a read - it is a good overview of the state of the art, and while it isn't exactly chock full of details, it is a pretty big topic to cover, and the PC Magazine folks have clearly done a lot of research.

Posted by dsifry at 7:32 AM | View blog reactions

May 4, 2002

Dave LaDuke on CBS Marketwatch

Here's a direct URL for RealPlayer access to CBS MarketWatch's story on WiFi. Good job, Dave!
Posted by dsifry at 5:15 PM | View blog reactions

Steven Vaughn-Nichols reviews the Sputnik Gateway 1.0

Yeah, I had no idea, just happened to catch it on NewsForge today. The long and short - a positive review!

Work on Vertigo continues.

Posted by dsifry at 5:13 PM | View blog reactions

Best Buy closes wireless registers

Whoa - well, this is the first in what is assured to be a flurry of wireless security articles . It is only a matter of time until a major company is hacked via their open 802.11 network.
Posted by dsifry at 5:13 PM | View blog reactions

Chip makers question need to redraw 802.11 map

An article in Comm Times on the work being done by chip companies to ensure interoperability and seamless handoff between RF and 802.11 chipsets
Posted by dsifry at 5:12 PM | View blog reactions

May 2, 2002

Steve DeWitt quits Sun, Vivek Mehra becomes VP and GM of Cobalt Group

Part of the wake of Zander's retirement announcement, the Register zooms in on Sun's Linux strategy. Good news for Vivek, he's a good guy.
Posted by dsifry at 9:33 AM | Comments (1) | View blog reactions

Joltage Networks Names Nicholas Negroponte to Board

From VentureWire:

NEW YORK -- Joltage, which provides Wi-Fi software to businesses such as cafes or health clubs that then offer wireless Internet access to their customers, said it appointed new investor Nicholas Negroponte to its board of directors.

Read the full story.

Posted by dsifry at 8:18 AM | View blog reactions

May 1, 2002

Ed Zander announces retirement

Hmm, Sun is losing lots of execs lately.
Posted by dsifry at 12:06 PM | View blog reactions

Woodside Networks completes their Series B

>From The Daily Deal:

Wireless networking systems developer Woodside Networks Inc. of Palo Alto, Calif. said Tuesday that it has raised an additional $4 million from Nokia Venture Partners, following a $20 million second round of funding announced in February. The venture firm joins Sevin Rosen Funds and Accel Partners as backers of Woodside Networks, which has raised $32 million to date. A developer of wireless local area networks, Woodside Networks maintains an office in Breukelen, The Netherlands, in addition to its headquarters in Palo Alto.

Posted by dsifry at 11:07 AM | View blog reactions

Test of Blogit

Test of the new email-to-blog script I just wrote, called blogit.
Posted by dsifry at 10:23 AM | View blog reactions

Alan Reiter notes Glenn's Blog on us

Alan Reiter wrote about us again in his blog today:

Sputnik info: Yesterday I wrote, very briefly, about Sputnik. If you want to learn more about Sputnik, check out Glenn Fleishman's 802.11b Networking News entry about Sputnik. Glenn says: "Based on what I've seen, they may set a new high-water mark for creating configuration tools that work, and that average human beings can understand."

Posted by dsifry at 9:58 AM | View blog reactions

Mesh Networks to offer software-based 802.11 repeater?

Hmmm, interesting. According to Alan Reiter's weblog which he's been updating from the Technologic Partners Conference, Mesh Networks is beta testing a low-cost repeater-router for extending the range of 802.11. Basically, the MeshNetworks software creates a, well, mesh network, for your existing WiFi system.

Hmmm, I wonder if this is possible without breaking the 802.11 standard - In other words, I can see you turning a PC into a black-box repeater, but I don't see how they could turn it into a repeater AND still allow you to use the box as a wireless node on the network. Perhaps I'm missing something, or perhaps we will all need to download some client software (that'll be windoze only, of course). Still, it is an intriguing idea - they are looking at an embedded product with MSRP of $60.

Actually, as I read Reiter's post more carefully (pardon me, I still haven't had my morning coffee), it looks like Mesh Networks is trying to do something like what we've done - turn a PC with broadband connectivity and a WiFi card into a Mesh Networks AP. Well, if that's the case, just go and download our code, it's free and available today...

Something to keep an eye on.

Posted by dsifry at 8:22 AM | View blog reactions