MapMania Goes Crazy


You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension – a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You’ve just crossed over into the Twilight Zone.

Google Map Mania continues to go crazy.

  • Virender Ajmani’s Google News mashup lets you search local news by zipcode and has added restaurant and movie theater locations to the map.
  • Frappr lets you create a personalized Google Map (with photos and friends) and see where everyone in your group is. Great for clubs, coworkers and families, and you can let others put stuff on your map as well.
  • MapChatter.com lets you find people looking to chat while Hot People by Zip Code may go further
  • Platial.com is a free mashup that lets you easily make your own clickable city map. It’s similar to HousingMaps.com which maps Craigs List. Platial makes it easy to add your own photos (even media files). Francisco-based Wayfaring.com and communitywalk.com, have a similar service but Portland-based Platial is “primarily personal stories.
  • Open Source Panorama Software allows you to add 360 degree panoramas on every corner in your neighborhood and oral history in every window.
  • ShakinDave.com gives you a glimpse into the future. Using a camera mounted on his glasses, Dave Rheingold broadcasts live from the streets of New York and shows you in live time what he’s seeing. He pipes his personal video AND audio to his website so you can tune into the action. He uses a Tablet PC (Motion Computing) with EVDO card, Video glasses, Microphone, USB analog-to-digital video capture board and a GPS receiver.
  • ComVu enables 2-way live video webcasting from PocketPC phones like Sprint’s 6700. ComVu is working with Modeo, a mobile tv broadcaster, to provide millions of citizen reporters with the ability to broadcast breaking news live to a global television audience. ComVu can send live Windows Media from a camera phone to a Modeo-enabled device.
  • Google SketchUp is a free, easy-to-learn 3D modeling program that enables you to build a world in 3D. Once you’ve built your models, you can place them in Google Earth (also free).

I just came back from a concert series that featured Portland music and composers from 1880-1923 (MP-3). Musicians played vintage instruments and told stories. Vintage instruments from the Auroa Colony Museum created music that resembled the soundtrack to Ken Burn’s Civil War (flash clip). The National Music Museum was also featured on Prairie Home Companion this week (audio).

A clickable map using vintage music and historic photos with oral history might enhance a “city cloud”. The cost is low. The Library of Congress has a great collection of music but the talent may be right in your own backyard. Gold is everywhere.

And you don’t need any money. Audacity is a free sound editor while FreeSound aims to release sound clips under the Creative Commons license. Microsoft’s free Photostory application is dead simple to use and enables professional pans and zooms on stills, automatically. It can output high quality streaming content to PDAs & portable players.

The real world is a virtual museum.

Portland’s Radical History Bike Tour, WPA stories, WW II at Home, Civil Defense Films, Great Floods, Native American Heritage, Immigration, and Wisdom of the Elders can be mapped to The Cloud. Make your own history. Music sets the mood.

Silicon Valley & New York Clouds


An ambitious plan to blanket Silicon Valley with wireless broadband is expected to dwarf San Francisco’s municipal Wi-Fi initiative, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

The proposed project (RFP) will unite cities in Santa Clara, San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties and stretch over 1,500 square miles when completed. Officials envision a primarily outdoor network that will benefit government workers, mobile corporate employees, residents and visitors in the greater Silicon Valley area. No public money will be used.

A coalition comprised of Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network, the San Mateo County Telecommunications Authority and Intel raised about $60,000 and issued a request for proposal this week.

The Task Force believes it will enable business development, improve government services, include applications for public safety and emergency response, and fill in gaps to affordable broadband services. The RFP prefers an “open network model” that is privately owned and operated but provides access to multiple service providers.

Wireless Silicon Valley is a project of Smart Valley, an initiative of Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network (pdf).

Formed in 2004, the Wireless Silicon Valley Task Force consists of the Information Technology managers and economic development managers at most of the cities and counties in Silicon Valley. In 2005, the San Mateo County Telecommunications Authority joined the Task Force, bringing with it all of the cities in San Mateo County.

Wireless Silicon Valley contracted with Intel Solution Services to provide assistance with the development of a Request for Proposal (RFP) for wireless services to cover all of Silicon Valley. The consulting team conducted a survey of the participating cities and counties to gather information on their expectations and requirements.

Jointventure.org has The Vision paper (pdf) and the Request For Proposals.

San Francisco politicians and the ACLU have asked the city to rethink its Wi-Fi deal with Google and Earthlink. San Francisco Supervisor Jake McGoldrick is concerned about how much actual public input there will be with the deal. Privacy advocates are raising concerns about Google’s plans to cover San Francisco with free WiFi, calling the company’s proposal to track users’ locations a potential gold mine of information for law enforcement and private litigators.

Google plans to use geographic data to match users with advertising so that they would see marketing messages from neighborhood businesses such as pizza parlors, cafes and book stores.

Suffolk County in New York is planning a 900 square mile wireless system to provide free WiFi to its 1.5 million residents. It would be one of the largest government-sponsored wireless networks in the nation, reports the NY Times.

The system would allow anyone, anywhere in the county to access the network, and would also be available to visitors, businesses, government agencies, institutions and groups. The county plans to issue a proposal for bidders in December, with a selection made by spring 2007.

“People could connect to the Internet anytime, any place,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, who proposed the plan. A private company selected by the county would build the system at no cost to taxpayers and finance it by selling Internet advertising or by charging a fee.

802.11w: More Security


Get ready for yet another security standard coming down the pike — 802.11w.

The highly secure IEEE 802.11i standard patched the holes in the original Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) specification by introducing new cryptographic algorithms, now used in WiFi Protected Access (WPA) and WPA 2. It’s standard issue in most current WiFi gear and can encrypt data end-to-end.

Now, the 802.11w task group, reports TechWorld, is looking at extending that same protection beyond data to management frames, which perform core operations on a network.

With the new drafts of 802.11r (fast handoff and roaming), 802.11k (radio resource management) and 802.11v (wireless network management), it was determined that highly sensitive information about wireless networks is being exchanged in these non-secure frames and was vulnerable to attack.

802.11w proposes to extend 802.11i to cover these frames.

IEEE started work on this proposal early in 2005, and an official draft is expected to be ratified in the first half of 2008. 802.11w will require changes to the firmware of clients and access points. It should not require hardware changes, however, and thus might be available as a software-only upgrade to many types of hardware.

Three 802.11w provides protection in three categories.

  • The first is for unicast management frames, or frames between one access point and one client. It reports network topology and modifying client behavior. Unprotected unicast management frames provide a powerful arsenal to an attacker, who can discover the layout of the network, pinpoint the location of devices and mount far more successful denial-of-service (DOS) attacks against a network. 802.11w extends existing data encryption algorithms to the unicast management frames.
  • The second method is for generic broadcast management frames. These frames are less common and typically are used to adjust radio frequency properties or start measurements, rather than report sensitive information. Thus, 802.11w proposes to protect only against forgeries, and not provide confidentiality.
  • The third method is for deauthentication and disassociation frames. By using a pair of related one-time keys, one secret in an access point and one for a client, the client can determine if the deauthentication is valid.

By protecting the contents of most frames from eavesdropping, and of certain crucial frames from forging, 802.11w will stop the information leakage and reduce some basic DOS attacks, explains TechWorld.

Oh dear, what WILL the IEEE do after 802.11z?

Cloud for Windy City



Chicago will soon solicit proposals for a WiFi Cloud, reports MuniWireless. Chicago’s Chief Information Officer Chris O’Brien said last week that the city will invite technology companies to submit proposals. O’Brien told aldermen that citywide installation would mean about 7,500 small antennas on light poles about every two blocks. He also estimated the cost of networking the city at $18.5 million.

The City will post a draft of the RFP at in the beginning of May, 2006, prior to final issuance of the RFP. According to their website:

“The City of Chicago has developed an initiative to make affordable broadband services available throughout the City. The City intends to issue an RFP in late Spring, 2006 to solicit proposals from private sector companies for the financing, installation and management of a Wireless Broadband Network for the City of Chicago.

Chicago is not seeking to create a municipally-owned utility, says Chicago’s chief information officer, Chris O’Brien (left) It will not own the network, nor will it maintain, operate, upgrade or support the customers who use it.

Of course there are wireless services already serving Chicago.

JiWire estimates the city ranks No. 3 nationally behind San Francisco and New York for Wi-Fi hot spots–locales like coffee shops. JiWire said Chicago has more than 500 Wi-Fi hot spots in Starbucks and other places, and more than 50 are free.

For businesses, TowerStream provides high-speed Internet access from its Point-of-Presence (PoP) on top of the 1,100-foot Aon Center (formerly the Standard Oil Building) in downtown Chicago.

TowerStream established a Wireless Ring over the city, allowing businesses within a 10-mile radius of the PoP to receive high-speed access. In addition to Chicago, TowerStream currently serves over 600 businesses in Boston, New York City and Providence/Newport.

Last July, the Chicago City Council’s Wireless Task Force met for the first time to begin soliciting public input on a proposed $18 million plan to construct a wireless broadband network. The Task Force has held several public meetings to consider technical, cost and public policy issues.

Whether Chicago’s wireless broadband network will end up serving the entire City or whether it will supplement the City’s existing Wi-Fi network already serving 79 Chicago Public Library locations are open questions at the moment.

Of course, Verizon Wireless, Sprint and Cingular offer high speed data over cellular in Chicago. They, along with phone and cable ISPs, may put up a fight. It’s happened before.

Nearly five years ago the city devised a plan called CivicNet that was intended to spread broadband service, explains the WCN blog. The city issued a proposal that would include getting connections to all city schools, libraries, police stations and more.

Vendors responded with several interesting proposals, but after a scorched earth advertising campaign by incumbants, CivicNet was never pursued.

This time it could be different. Motorola, home to Canopy (last mile), MOTOwi4 (Mobile WiMAX), Mobile Mesh (for public service) and Orthogon backhaul is headquartered in Chicago’s backyard.

One of these days Motorola may have to decide whether to buy or dump Tropos, their partner in many successful bids. No doubt, Moto’s got a MOTOwi4 Tropos killer in development. It could be just a matter of price or timing. Not that we’ve heard anything (we haven’t).

Qualcomm to WiMAX: See You in Court



Qualcomm has signed a licensing agreement for broadband wireless patents, the company said Thursday. The deal covers OFDM/OFDMA, reports Nancy Gohring, and indicates that Qualcomm’s purchase of Flarion was not so much from the technology but from Flarion’s intellectual property, especially around Mobile WiMAX technology.

Qualcomm acquired Flarion earlier this year. Some vendors and observers like Steve Sanders wonder if Qualcomm, had acquired IP crucial to WiMax.

“Qualcomm and Flarion settled for $1.8 million despite disagreement with the DOJ contention [taking control of Flarion prior to the sale closing]. What grabbed me the most about this was that the allegation that Qualcomm didn’t intend to commercialize Flarion’s technology in its present form. But if Qualcomm is not wanting to leverage Flarion’s gear “as is” what does it want to do with it…

Flarion was on a path to mobility (via 802.20). Now it appears that Qualcomm is on a path to the courthouse.

But Mobile WiMAX (802.16e-2005), actually evolved from WiBro which adopted technology developed by Adaptix and its predecessor Broadstorm.

Soma Networks paid Qualcomm an undisclosed sum for the rights to use Qualcomm’s intellectual property in a new mobile WiMax platform. Gohring reports:

The announcement is essentially a statement from Qualcomm that it plans to enforce its patents, said Caroline Gabriel, an analyst with Rethink Research. “It did not need to announce this since licensing deals are usually confidential, so I think it’s certainly a public challenge to the WiMax players,” she said.

Alvarion Ltd., one of the largest broadband wireless vendors in the market, has not been contacted by Qualcomm regarding its WiMax products, said Rudy Leser, vice president of strategy and marketing for Alvarion. He said Alvarion has spoken with other industry leaders including Intel Corp. and they believe that Qualcomm’s patents aren’t relevant to the WiMax standards.

WiMax vendors fear Qualcomm licenses will increase the cost of WiMAX gear.

Of course Intel has lawyers, too.

MIMO USB



Belkin has a new MIMO USB Network Adapter. It sports a cradle that the smaller USB section plugs into. You can use the Belkin adapter for your desktop or remove the smaller and more compact adapter from the cradle and stick it in your notebook.

The adapter (right) is compatible with 802.11g as well as 802.11b. Wireless encryption standards are supported such as WPA, WPA2 as well as both 64 and 128 bit WEP. The adapter can connect to USB 1, 1.1 and 2.0 ports and provide up to 1000 feet of wireless coverage.

Belkin likes Airgo chips for MIMO which means it probably won’t be compatible with the final 802.11n standard when it’s ready.

Still, it might work for a fast or long range solution (especially if you put it in the focus of a DirecTV reflector). The product retails for $79.99. Of course you need to match it with a Belkin MIMO AP for best results (it will fall back to 802.11b/g)

But you might wait. Other “draft 802.11n” products, using chips from Broadcom, Atheros or Marvell seem more likely to conform to the “official” 802.11n standard. At least that’s what they say.

Airgos will need a new chipset to conform. You might get lucky with a software upgrade using the chips below. No guarantees, though.