Friday, May 22
Today’s Wall Street Journal has a fascinating article on an ongoing effort to use Google Earth in order to explore and document North Korea. The project’s leader is a George Mason doctoral candidate named Curtis Melvin. Reports the Journal:
Mr. Melvin is at the center of a dozen or so citizen snoops who have spent the past two years filling in the blanks on the map of one of the world’s most secretive countries. Seeking clues in photos, news reports and eyewitness accounts, they affix labels to North Korean structures and landscapes captured by Google Earth, an online service that stitches satellite pictures into a virtual globe. The result is an annotated North Korea of rocket-launch sites, prison camps and elite palaces on white-sand beaches.
“It’s democratized intelligence,” says Mr. Melvin.
Check out the full article.
Recovery.org has updated its timeline for the federal broadband stimulus, and Geoff Daily at App-Rising isn’t entirely happy with the news:
Was hoping I wouldn’t have to say this, but I think so far the broadband stimulus is doing more harm than good.
There are two primary reasons for this.
The first is that from a policy perspective there’s a whole lot more discussion going on about how to distribute these limited BTOP dollars than there are conversations about how to craft a national broadband strategy. Given that we have less than a year to create and come to a consensus around that strategy, we can’t afford to have the stimulus distract us from pushing this larger dialog forward.
The second, and much bigger concern, is that as things currently stand the stimulus is doing more to slow down deployment than speed it up. I’ve now heard from multiple people of projects that could already be deploying but instead are waiting to see if they can leverage stimulus dollars to help fund their projects.
For a national broadband strategy to be successful, there needs to be a demand for high-speed Internet. And, as Broadband Census reports, spurring that demand may begin in the country’s libraries:
Speaking at a forum at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, Don Means, the co-founder and principal of Digital Village Associates, outlined his proposal to extend high-speed connectivity to all 16,500 libraries in the country.
Titled “Fiber to the Library: Next Generation Broadband for Next Generation Libraries,” the event was an upbeat assessment of the benefits of ensuring fiber-class connectivity to libraries.
Bringing fiber to the libraries, besides being the quickest, cheapest way to provide next generation broadband to next generation libraries, is also a good idea because it gives people experience with fiber-speed internet, Means said.
Via GigaOm, it seems Amazon Web Services—- the company’s popular “cloud” storage service—has turned to the United States Postal service due to painfully slow Internet pipes:
Werner Vogels, Amazon’s CTO, explains in a blog posting that it would take up to 13 days to sling a terabyte of data across a 10 Mbps network, which is pretty darn slow. So Amazon is offering customers the chance to store their data on an external device, ship it via post, and Amazon will load it into S3. I outlined this problem of needing fat pipes to transfer our increasing loads of data back in April, but was hoping that instead of using FedEx, we’d have faster networks. Interestingly, Vogels doesn’t think our networks will keep up with our data generation — a feeling common also in the supercomputing and cloud storage world.
If cloud computing is indeed the future…well, it seems the future is a ways away.
Thursday, May 21
After the astronauts on the International Space Station finished up their communications with Space Shuttle Atlantis yesterday, the crew on the Space Station did something that no other astronaut has ever done before - drank recycled urine and sweat.
To boldly go indeed…
Broadband Census points to a recent interview with Acting Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Copps on C-Span. During it, Copps reiterated the FCC’s commitment to a national broadband strategy.
While a number of airlines continue to experiment with in-flight WiFi service, Virgin America is moving all-in. From a company press release:
Virgin America, the California-based carrier, announced that as of today it is the first and only airline to offer Gogo® In-flight Internet service on every flight. As of today, guests on any of Virgin America’s 100 daily flights have the option to surf the Web, check e-mail, or log on to their corporate VPN – all from the comfort of their seats at 37,000 feet.
To mark the occasion, Virgin will be conducting a special air-to-ground Skype session with none other than Oprah Winfrey.
(* Apologies for the cheesy headline.)
While TV still rules America’s video viewing habits, YouTube is no slouch when it comes to content. In fact, as TechCrunch reports, it’s so big that every minute more than 20 hours of video is uploaded to the site. Marvels TechCrunch:
Think about that for a minute. In that minute, nearly a days worth of footage will have been uploaded. And the pace is quickening. Back in 2007, shortly after Google bought the service, it was 6 hours of footage being uploaded every minute. As recently as January of this year, that number had grown to 15 hours, according to the YouTube blog. Now it’s 20 — soon it will be 24. That’s insane.
The New York Times “Bits” blog reports on new data about worldwide broadband access provided by the Economic Cooperation and Development, which finds that Denmark leads the charge when it comes to access for its citizens.
As for the U.S., we rank squarely in the middle, sandwiched between Germany and Australia. Poor Mexico, meanwhile, brings up the rear, ranking below Turkey and even the Slovak Republic.
Check out the OECD’s full report.
Via Ars Technica comes the latest results from Nielsen on American viewing habits. For online and mobile video, the news is good:
About 131 million people are watching an average of three hours of video per month via the Internet, according to Nielsen’s data. That’s up from 116 million watching a monthly average of two hours this same time last year. Additionally, about 13 million mobile phone subscribers—up 52 percent from nearly 9 million last year—report watching an average of 3.5 hours of video a month on a mobile phone (time measurements are not available from Q1 last year).
But while online viewing is up, it turns out traditional TV has nothing to worry about—at least not yet:
But those increases pale in comparison to television, which Americans watch more than ever, averaging about 153.5 hours in front of the boob tube in a month. “Television is still the dominant choice for Americans who watch video,” according to Nielsen’s report. “Almost 99 percent of the video watched in the US is still done on television.” You can see how the amount of TV watched by Americans dwarfs the small amount viewed online and the even smaller amount viewed via a mobile phone in the chart below.