Hacking Cybiko

CYBIKO is a wireless voice and text communicator designed for teens. You can pick one up for under $50. It plays MP-3s, has hundreds of programs and can chat wirelessly with 1 or 100 of your friends. It might be fun to play with.

The Cybiko broadcasts on 30 digital channels over frequencies between 902 and 928 MHz with a range of up to 300 feet. You can also play multiplayer wireless games, send/receive pictures, text files and emails or connect to your PC to send your emails and other information to anyone on the Internet.

What could you do with a programable $50 radio? Perhaps 5-6 radios could link together as interactive switches, remote controls, music syntesizers/triggers or something. I don’t know.

Over 700 games are available at DevCybiko.com. Other hobby sites include Cybiko Apps, Cybla, Devrs, DevCybiko and others.

The original Cybiko Classic Operation System (v1.2) had 256KB of RAM. In the V1.3 Classic the memory is divided into 2 segments : 512KB of RAM and 512KB or Flash RAM. Only about 300KB is available for the user. The memory is supposed to be upgradeable to 16MB, but this number is different depending on the published source.

The Cybiko Xtreme boasts 1MB of RAM and 1MB or Flash RAM. With an additional 500KB of ROM, the Xtreme weighs in at 2.5MB of memory.

The Cybiko’s display is 160 x 100 pixels 4-color gray scale LCD. Its Microprocessor is a 32-bit 11-MHz processor manufactured by Hitachi. The Xtreme has a 22-MHz processor. It’s rugged and uses hardly any juice.

Wi-Fi Bus

A bus with a webcam and “3G” delivers internet to remote areas in the UK. While we don’t have 3G in the United States, we’ve got something just as good – Wi-Fi.

Portland’s Mt Hood Cable Grant has money to spend. Let’s help them.

Say, $15K for an outfitted bus, live cameras, and a Wi-Fi link to Winfield Wireless. Then add $10K for drive-up training and hands-on demos, and another $5K for maintenance.

Partners could include Intel, the Arts Commission, City Repair, Free Geek, Portland Fire Department, Portland Cable Access, Schools, Libraries, Portland Green Map, Eco Trust, Neighborhood Associations, AARP and the History Center to name a few.

Portland’s Ethos (right) does a similar thing around the city. They drive their Firetruck and London bus to schools. Since many schools have dropped music classes, Ethos can supply kids with hands-on workshops.

Used firetrucks are easy to find. Check out usedfiretrucks.com and Firetec or E-Bay.

Personal Telco’s Satellite Truck was picked up for a song ($500) from a local television station and came with a pneumatic 30 foot mast. Of course, expenses like insurance and other incidentals boosted up the cost (paid for by Nigel Ballard bless his heart). PTP and Winfield teamed to provide Internet access for a science fiction convention at Jansen Beach (15 miles north of Portland). Winfield’s wireless backbone can extend 15 miles or more.

The First 46,000 Miles can be tricky.

City Repair’s T-Horse (above) demonstrates how a space can be transformed into a place. Unwired.

Gordon Bell’s project, MyLifeBits, scans his books and family photos. Retrieving any memory from one’s life is becoming practical.

One mission; map areas of interest around each neighborhood. Neighborhood residents get hands-on while creating a resource for the whole community. Oral histories could be recorded and Geo Coded via Lat/Long in URLs or Blog Mapper, then available in the “blogosphere” from any web browser or on a CD/DVD. Portland Maps (or anyone) could use it. Cityblogs and Blockblogs – created at no cost – could establish long-term resource hubs. Content run by and for local people, could link to the larger community. Local news and features could be syndicated by topic and location and feature sections for classified ads and birthdays that month.

Portland’s Burning Man contingent could supply entertainment. After all Matt Peterson did create the first real community network with the BM Wi-Fi net (back in 1943, I believe). And that Eugene band, Rubberneck.

It would not be a “product”, run and edited by the library. It uses the interests and expertise of the community. Anyone could participate in creating the database and anyone could access it. Guidelines would be established for information collection and sharing using this public resource. An academic component would compare neighborhoods with and without “connectedness”.

The end product would be a geo-coded, audio/visual “tour” with elements of history and community integrated into a map interface.

FatPort + Intel

FatPort, a leading provider of wireless high- speed Internet access in Canada is working with Intel to market hot spots in hotels, airports, coffee shops, entertainment complexes, and other public places. The program coincides with the upcoming March introduction of Intel’s Centrino for notebook PCs that feature built-in wireless.

FatPort and Intel are conducting engineering testing or verification of the Intel Centrino mobile technology on FatPort’s network. The two companies are also collaborating on a new signage program that will inform users when they are in a FatPort FatZone that has been tested to work together with Intel Centrino mobile technology. A regional marketing and advertising campaign is planned.

The installation of FatPort hot spots is complete in 42 FatZones primarily in Vancouver and Western Canada. Many other locations will be wirelessly accessible by the end of the year.

FatPort’s solid-state access point ($525), uses a 300MHz fan-less i386 processor with 128MB RAM, and a 32 MB Compact Flash with CompactBSD pre-installed.

Hot spot competitor Pronto Networks (Pdf specs) has a similar solid state box using an x86 processor, 64MB RAM and 16 MB Compact Flash. They have received investments from Intel Capital and plan to use Navini’s S-CDMA for wireless “first mile” backbone connectivity.

Boingo also teams with Pronto along with other hot spot providers for billing services. Boingo’s hardware partners include Colubris, Nomadix and Vernier which provide solutions that embed a Wi-Fi interoperable access point, integrated firewall and router. Boingo supplies both a W-ISP in a Box and a Hot Spot in a Box (a $695 Colubris CN3000 pre-configured with Boingo’s communication tools for billing and AAA). No official announcement from Boingo on any cross-promotional venture with Intel.

Intel, of course, is planning the mother of all hot spot networks with IBM and AT&T. Cometa Networks should begin their roll out later this year.

ADSL2 Plugfest

DSL Forum, a consortium of nearly 200 companies, and the University of New Hampshire’s InterOperability Laboratory, sponsored a multi-vendor ADSL2 “plugfest” interoperability event earlier this month.

ADSL2 (ITU G.992.3), is a new DSL standard approved in August 2002 by the ITU. It provides line diagnostics, power management, and faster speeds. The industry standard setting bodies are currently finalizing ADSL2+, which builds upon ADSL2 by expanding the bandwidth to approximately 2 MHz and increasing achievable data rates to more than 20 Mbps. ADSL2 and ADSL2+ gear will interoperate with existing ADSL equipment.

Seven ADSL silicon vendors participated in the DSL Forum-sponsored interoperability plugfest, which was based on the DSL Forum’s internal Proposed Draft 013, a test suite designed to ensure interoperability.

A second plugfest for ADSL2 chipsets is scheduled for the week of June 23, 2003 at UNH-IOL. Future plugfests are planned this summer to test extensions to ADSL2, such as ADSL2+ which should provide downstream data rates of 25M bit/sec on phone lines as long as 5,000 feet.

Equipment supporting ADSL2 and ADSL2+ is expected to become available this year.

Spectrum Conference

The Spectrum Policy Conference, at the Stanford Law School will feature FCC Chairman Michael Powell, renowned economist Harold Demsetz, and Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Alex Kozinski.

Spectrum policy is undergoing a fundamental reorientation in the United States and elsewhere. Do governmentally-allocated spectrum rights inhibit innovation and competition? What form of spectrum management should replace the existing system? Stay tuned.

The Spectrum Conference will be webcast live on March 1st and streamed permanently by the Linux Public Broadcasting Network.

Playstation2 Goes Grid

Sony’s Playstation 2 and I.B.M. will use Butterfly.net for grid computing for gamers reports the Washington Post . They plan to unveil it at the annual Game Developer’s Conference in San Jose next week.

The Butterfly Grid will use IBM’s Dual Xeon Blade Servers running Linux. The concept cuts costs for game developers and allows on-line games to involve hundreds of thousands of simulateous players.

When the grid determines there are too many players connected to a particular server, it automatically reconfigures the underutilized blades to support the most popular game-play and seamlessly transfers players to those blades.

“This expands our developer community and user base exponentially,” said Butterfly.net chief executive David Levine. “Now we’re just part of the whole Sony economy, and they’ve shipped 50 million PS2s.”

“We’ve enjoyed very rapid progress and outstanding performance while developing and testing VibeForce on the Butterfly Grid,” said Curt Benefield, Chief Executive Officer of Sherman3D, a video game developer with offices in Malaysia and the United States. “The Grid has allowed us to build the bulk of our game logic, our motion models and our artificial intelligence systems with familiar tools and standard interfaces. Our engineers can get close to the metal on the client, the servers and over the network to bring the action-backed, richly-rewarding console experience online.”

The Butterfly Grid is hosted by IBM and powered by IBM Dual Xeon Blade Servers running Linux, IBM’s WebSphere and DB2 software. They are working with the Global Grid Forum to ensure that video games are developed according to publicly available specifications.

About 50 million Playstation 2s will be in homes by the end of the year and 17% of all computer-owning households do some online gaming. VibeForce plans to charge $9 a month.

Unlike Microsoft’s Xbox Live, in which Microsoft runs the central hub for all online games (near Redmond), Sony does not serve as the gatekeeper for the PlayStation 2 Grid. Instead, individual game developers register with Butterfly, and receive a software development kit. To reach the grid, the model depends on service providers, who use Butterfly’s XML-based Game Configuration Specification to extend the grid out to the edge of the network.

Butterfly CEO David Levine believes that service providers will evolve to become like cable MSOs, which offer packages of games to subscribers much like the MSOs offer premium cable channels.

Video games are already big business. They racked up $9.4 billion in revenues last year, outgunning Hollywood’s box office take of $8.1 billion by a cool billion dollars.

Dailywireless stories on game grids include Grid Becomes Self-Aware, Multi-Player Frontier, The Pittock Internet Exchange, The West Coast Grid and Korean Gaming.