Burning Man 2007

Since 1999, Eugene’s Embassy camp and Tachyon have brought Internet access to Burning Man.

Now everyone’s doing it. Reporter Scott Beale has been receiving information directly from the event via email, IM, IRC, the photos, video, blog posts, Twitter and live webcam as well as the stream from Burning Man Information Radio.

Beale explains how to access Burning Man 2007 through the internet. Websites like Justin.tv, Ustream.tv and Kyte.tv may also attempt to lifecast from Burning Man. Here are some nice photos and a report.

Last year Current.tv beamed back clips from a satellite truck and covered the burning in a 1-hour live multicam show. This year, there’s a live Burn WEBCAST and video clips on Building Black Rock City, The Last Temple, Piano Trebuchet, The Dept of Mutant Vehicles, Big Rig Jig (below) and lots more.

America’s biggest counterculture jamboree is also a $10 million business. Here’s Burning Man 2007 in Google Earth, Burning Man from 5 years ago, the 2007 live Burn WEBCAST and The Future; Hope and Fear.

The first outdoor municipal WiFi network was (arguably) Matt Peterson’s PlayaNet which provided wireless connectivity to Burning Man in 2001.

Matt Peterson and his friends, including Tim Pozar and others, took their Wi-Fi field experience back to San Francisco and started the Bay Area Wireless Users Group. BAWUG’s PlayaNET Archives, beginning in April of 2000, contain the genesis of grass-roots community networks.

I remember writing a feature article about the phenomena in January, 2001. PlayaNET, BAWUG and other grassroots organizations (like PersonalTelco) showed that WiFi networking could deliver practical outdoor service. They in turn spawned the commercial municipal Wi-Fi movement, which began to take off in 2004-2005.

Gigapixel Man

Rock’em, roll’em, rammin’, jammin’ — 60 Minute Man

Government Computer News has an interesting interview with Google technologist Michael Jones (video). Jones was formerly chief technology officer at Keyhole, the company that developed the technology used in Google Earth, was director of advanced graphics at SGI and helped build the Gigapixel Camera. He oversees Google Earth, Google Maps and the company’s local search service.

GCN: Google recently launched a street-level video-recording project for major cities, StreetView. What is this about?

JONES: We’ve been doing research for two years now on ways of capturing street-level imagery. We have high-resolution imagery captured at the street level. If you use our product and fly to San Francisco, say, and turn on the street views in Google Maps, then you put the icon there anywhere you like and you can zoom in and see the window on the restaurant. You see what time they are opened. You can see if they are closed for summer. You can go to a parking sign and see what time parking is allowed.

GCN: What technologies are you using to capture, manage and deploy these images online?

JONES: It involves many servers, which people have estimated to be tens of thousands. It is involves many data centers around the world to reduce latency to each user. It involves redundancy so the data is always online. So, basically, it is a matter of scale and configuration and software.

Something else that goes on is that the sources of imagery are changing. Ten years ago, if you wanted a high-resolution picture of Moscow, you would need to work for the Central Intelligence Agency. Now you can buy it from 20 different sources, including [those in] Moscow, France, India or China. So this idea of seeing Earth from space is no longer a military secret topic. They’re like postcards from Europe.

GCN: Google recently handed over its geographic markup language, KML (Keyhole Markup Language), to the Open Geospatial Consortium to ratify as a standard. People have been calling for KML to become an open standard for a while — is this a response to their requests?

JONES: The idea is that OGC is going to be building an OGC standard version of KML and that’s going to be a further checkmark for people who are concerned about compliance with the International Standards Organization and other standards body compliance. There isn’t anything other than KML; it’s the de facto standard. But having it be the standard is fine with us. We’ve agreed to surrender patent rights to let people implement that properly. We’ve done a lot of work to build a conformance suite and orientation guides and references.

GCN: We’ve been watching the volunteer work going with GeoRSS (RSS feeds with latitude and longitude coordinates). Do you see a use for this technology?

JONES: I think GeoRSS (wikipedia) is fabulous. We’re totally supportive of that. The only issue — and it’s not a problem — is that RSS is a very simple mechanism. It says here’s a fact and there’s a Web page that holds the information about that. It’s not the actual page itself. It doesn’t really have enough information to, say, draw a line around the toxic spill. You can imagine the questions that a program like Google Earth is going to need answered to draw the scene properly. We support GeoRSS and support KML, but we’d like a richer discourse, like a word processor where you could change the font.

Sometimes tools are built for special-purpose government use, where they are not as easy to use. A military radio is not as easy to use as a cell phone. So what is happening is some of these formerly arcane and esoteric technologies are things all children use as part of their homework. So the result is [that] they get a lot of polishing from commercial companies, such as Google.

So it is becoming normal to look for things [through a computer interface based on a] globe. That was not normal before we introduced it. It was an only-government type of thing.

A lot of things are changing to put rich information into people’s hands, like YouTube, where you can search for video. Well, government has a lot of video, and they don’t have a way to share. It’s the same basic problem: How do you find a needle in the haystack?

I don’t think wanting to know what things mean is a consumer activity. It’s a universal activity. It applies as much to a 911 call center as it does to looking for a hotel in Austria. It’s the same mechanism.

FCC Hangs Up Free M2Z Service

I’m all hung up, Vicki — Thomas Crown Affair

The Federal Communications Commission appears poised later today to reject M2Z Networks’ plan to offer free nationwide broadband service on the 2155-2175 MHz band, reports RCR News. The move could prompt a court challenge, says RCR. M2Z promises to deliver free (384kbps) service and $20-$30 (3Mbps) service to 95% of the nation within ten years.

M2Z, co-founded by former FCC wireless chief John Muleta, promised to return to the U.S Treasury 5% of gross revenues, if given a 15-year license on the spectrum. The Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials, the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the International Association of Fire Chiefs have added their support for M2Z this week by submitting a joint letter to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin.

Earlier this month M2Z threatened to sue the FCC to force action on the plan, which has been pending before the agency for more than a year.

If the FCC approves M2Z’s proposal, it will have to answer to AT&T and Verizon lawyers, on one side, as well as the Public Interest Spectrum Coalition, which is made up of Free Press, Media Access Project and Consumers Union, opponents of telecom incumbents, on the other.

The incumbents don’t want “free” competition. PISC wants more open access, no filtering of web content and more unlicensed spectrum available for communities and end users (pdf). Phil Weiser a professor of telecom law in the University of Colorado at Boulder, explains why the 700MHz spectrum is so valuable (MP-3).

UPDATE: The FCC rejected M2Z’s proposal on Friday (pdf) to use the 2155-2175 MHz frequencies.

The plan isn’t in the public interest, said the FCC’s order (pdf), because it would let the closely held company use airwaves without bidding against other carriers. The agency also rejected a similar proposal by NetFreeUS LLC, a unit of Brooklyn-based Speedus Corp. NetfreeUS would coordinate third-party lessees who would own and operate wireless access points. Initially, no lessee would be authorized to operate more than fifty WAPs.

The FCC will consider other ways of allocating the unused airwaves as part of a broader rulemaking effort, said FCC Chairman Kevin Martin (pdf). Copps’ statement and Adelstein’s statement (pdfs), generally agreed with the denial and encouraged alternative public approaches.

M2Z had a good idea. Free internet access via COFDMA. But asking the FCC to give the company unilateral access to the band (without a competitive bidding process) was probably asking too much.

Not to confuse the issue, but when Joe Kuran of Washington County Emergency Management discovered that the FCC’s liberalized rules for Nextel caused interference on 800 MHz first responder radio frequencies, a plan was hatched to move Nextel out of that band. Nextel is now consolidating everything into one block of 800 MHz and one block of 1.9GHz frequencies. Nextel agreed to give the Treasury $4.8 billion (for no additional spectrum), less $2.5 billion for their estimated moving costs.

Under the Consensus Plan, Nextel would write a check — some $850 million — to the government, which would provide public service agencies with free use of Nextel’s old frequencies, and move Nextel-Sprint to new slots in the 800MHz and 1.9 Ghz band. But the vast majority of public-safety licensees have not even reached a rebanding agreement with Sprint Nextel, says MRT Magazine. Some 25 months into the 36-month schedule, 800 MHz rebanding is months late, and tied up with red tape.

The 1.9GHz band is currently used by television broadcasters for live microwave links. So Nextel agreed to pay all costs associated with corporate media’s “rebanding of 2 GHz“. Broadcasters pay nothing for their new gear or microwave frequencies — not to mention their new DTV television frequencies.

How fair is that? Why should taxpayers subsidize “news” coverage of car chases?

Related DailyWireless articles include; M2Z: Free Internet Now!, Opening Up 2155-2175 for MuniFi?, The OTHER Public Safety Band, Broadband Wireless — Hello Goodbye, Statewide/Nationwide Wireless Broadband, National Broadband: Fee & Free, The AWS & 700MHz Dance, and FCC Rules on 700MHz: Limited Open Access, No Wholesale Requirement.

Solar Man

Make Magazine describes Steve Paine’s solar-powered bike tour, along the Rhein River.

His Solar-UMPC.com blog describes powering Ultra Mobile PCs through solar and natural energy sources. He’s blogging with a Samsung Q1b UMPC (Ultra-Mobile PC) and portable solar gear. Here’s his gear and project photos.

The original plan was to cycle during the day with the solar panel across the back of the bike however, a 25W panel is too big to lay in a useful, efficient position across the back of the bike so either I suffer with 50% energy loss or I stop when the sun shines. I’m using RoboGeo to generate a live route map.

I’m using the following gear (mostly bought from my home country, Germany).

The International Human Powered Vehicle Association is always up to something interesting, including Human-powered flight.

On 23 August 1977 the Gossamer Condor 2, piloted by Bryan Allen (right), flew the first figure-of-eight, a distance of 2,172 metres winning the first Kremer prize. It was built by Dr Paul B. MacCready who passed away this week. He was the founder of AeroVironment and the inventor of the first practical flying machine powered by a human being.

Other DailyWireless solar stories include; Solis Solar Powered Hotspots, Solar Powered WiMAX & WiFi, Wireless Camera Adapters, Minneapolis Bridge Collapse & Emergency Communications, Minnesota Solar WiFi, Park City: Solar WiFi, Solar Powered Solstice, Webcasting Concerts, TurtleNet, Meshing Tibet and Solar RoofNet Wiki.

Size Matters

Size matters, according to Wireless Week. Market researcher Gartner estimates smartphone sales grew 50% last year, to 72.9 million units, and forecasts there will be 450 million smartphones shipped globally by 2010 with Instant Messaging the de facto tool for Voice, Video and Text chat by the end of 2011.

Another study, by Berg Insight, predicts 113 million smartphones will be sold this year, reaching 365 million in 2012. Smartphones will account for 22% of all handsets sold globally in 2012, more than twice their current market share.

Usability experts from Perceptive Science evaluated four smartphones for ease of navigation, look and feel, usability and ergonomics. The handsets were the BlackBerry 8800, Palm Treo, Nokia E62, HTC Touch and Motorola Q. Palm and Nokia are among Perceptive Sciences’ clients.

Screen size matters, says Thomas Thornton, a senior research scientist at Perceptive Sciences, because as the screen size increases, so does the space to display content. Thornton developed a metric showing the ratio of the screen size to the device size to rate smartphones on how users will perceive the interface. The Apple iPhone came out on top because its 3.5-inch (diagonal) takes up most of the handset’s hardware.

The best-rated from a usability standpoint was the Palm Treo 700wx, which runs Windows Mobile 5 on the Verizon Wireless and Sprint networks. The Treo has a touchscreen, although not as large as the iPhone, and is easy to customize and navigate, he says.

Thornton says work with a variety of focus groups on smartphones shows users want a relatively large screen, and also want a touchscreen. One of the advantages of a touchscreen like the iPhone is that users who want large buttons, albeit virtual ones, can change the size when they are displayed on a touchscreen.

There are 12.3 million mobile social networkers in the US and Europe, says M:Metrics, with MySpace and Facebook the top two social networking sites accessed via mobile in both the US. and UK.

MuniFi: Not Dead Yet

King of Swamp Castle: One day, lad, all this will be yours.
Prince Herbert: What, the curtains?
Search for the Holy Grail

S.F. citywide Wi-Fi plan fizzles, blares the Chronicle today and City Disconnecting from Wi-Fi Vision shouts the Chicago Tribune. After a euphoric two years for municipal wireless, it’s time to smell the coffee. Glenn Fleishman of WiFiNetNews wrote Reality Bites in the Economist today. It’s funny how all the pundits, including MuniWireless now claim they saw this coming long ago.

They didn’t.

The only one who accurately predicted the (hopefully temporary) downturn for municipal wireless was John C. Dvorak who said Muni WiFi Will Die in a Market Watch column, 30 November, 2005.

Meanwhile, Fleishman gets his facts wrong in the Economist:

EarthLink and MetroFi have responded by asking city governments to act as “anchor tenants” and agree to spend a guaranteed sum on the service. Minneapolis and Portland, Oregon, accepted such contracts from the beginning; their Wi-Fi schemes are proceeding relatively smoothly.

Not so. As Corey Pein accurately states in his critical Unwired and Unloved story this week in Willamette Week:

Business Week reported earlier this month that MetroFi was pushing Portland to subscribe to its network. Kleier [Logan Kleier, Portland’s wi-fi manager], says that about six months ago, the company asked him to buy more network subscriptions than the city “could possibly afford.”

“We said our contract didn’t have any commitments. And that was the end of that discussion,” Kleier says.

Rumor has it that the power supply in SkyPilot access points is a root cause of many failures. Hopefully, everyone will work together and successfully address issues as they develop — calmly and reasonably.

Everyone wants free WiFi to work.

It’s a great idea whose time has come — especially as WiFi gets integrated into more devices like the iPhone. Working together, operators, governments and users can create practical and equitable solutions. Finger pointing just creates rancor. I’m probably just as guilty of it as anyone.

Muni Wi-Fi: “The End of the Beginning”, says Ron Sege President and CEO Tropos Networks.

Related DailyWireless articles on municipal wireless include; Houston Gets it’s Money Back from Earthlink, Earthlink Restructures, MuniFi Holds Breath, New York’s 750 sq mile Cloud, Connecting the Nation, Municipal WiFi — Under a Cloud?, List of US Cities with Wi-Fi, SF WiFi Goes to Voters, Portland MetroFi + Microsoft Ads, JiWire + MetroFi = Location-based Ads, Portland Chooses MetroFi for 134 Mile Cloud, National Broadband Wireless Projects, The World’s Largest WiFi Cloud, State-wide Wireless Broadband Access, South Carolina Statewide Wireless, Vermont Statewide Wireless, Rhode Island Statewide Wireless, Wireless SiValley: Mix & Match, Ten Cities Under Colorado Cloud, Washington’s 1500mi Cloud, Sacramento Regional Cloud, Cloud for Silicon Valley, Intelligent Communities of the Year, St. Louis County Cloud, Airspan WiMAXes Australia, Singapore Cloud, Intelligent Nation, Portland Cloud Workshop, and FCC Rules on 700MHz: Limited Open Access, No Wholesale Requirement.