Flutterby™! : Why ask Why?

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Why ask Why?

2003-11-24 19:31:32.570344+00 by meuon 14 comments

I've been asked a LOT on why I sold my half of Chattanooga Online to Deb. It just got reinforced by Comcast. In 10 minutes I got cable TV hooked up, and 3mb down, 280k up (tested several times). $19.95 for the first 3 months, $46/mth afterwards for the 'net and modem and $8 (or more for more channels) for TV. - On another list Dan and I are on, we've been talking about 'net archeology.. and in 1993, Dan and Debbie both screamed when I got 128kbps from Sprint for almost $3k per month. Bandwidth has become the commodity utility item we geeks had hoped and worked for. As I've been looking at finding a place to call 'home' for both myself and GeekLabs, I've been pleasantly suprised that getting bandwidth to even remote places has not been a problem. In fact, some of the remote mom and pop comunities have really done a great job (Kudos Ringgold Telephone and Trenton Telephone). This leaves the big question dangling that we are all wondering: What is the next big leap for us technophiles?

[ related topics: Technology and Culture broadband Coyote Grits Television Heinlein Chattanooga Phreaking ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: Why ask Why? made: 2003-11-24 20:01:04.051045+00 by: Dan Lyke

Yep, I've had a few issues with Comcast recently, and in light of your getting out of COL wanted to look at my other hosting options. IDSL has come down to the place where I can afford it, but I'm weighing the kickass cable bandwidth versus static IP thing, and right now the cable bandwidth is winning.

And I think it's actually a good deal to lease the modem, I've had one go bad on me so far, and a few other subscribers are seeing similar failure rates.

As for what's next... I don't know. What gave the personal computer and the internet such a big boost is that hobbiests saw the potential where the big companies didn't. I remember trying to explain why I didn't care about "circuits" to a telephone rep back in '90 or '91, and he was trying to figure out why I was more interested in the ISDN D channel. That lack of clue gave those of us who knew what to do with packet switching an opportunity to get in there.

But it also helped that there was a huge hobbiest market. Kids who'd experienced Usenet[Wiki] at school, the large FidoNet[Wiki] and similar base.

Unfortunately, I don't see that sort of hobby thing happening right now. Perhaps somewhat in robotics, but mostly when I go to gatherings of alleged hobbiests everyone's interested in how to make money. If it were that easy, if we didn't have to put in years of unpaid R&D, Microsoft[Wiki] or IBM[Wiki] would have already done it.

So I don't know, but if you find the people playing with some technology for the joy of diddling about with it, tell me.

#Comment Re: Why ask Why? made: 2003-11-24 23:08:38.237949+00 by: meuon

Dan, as usual, a brilliant insight and summary. Maybe that's why I have an interest in bad techno music, synths and such, it's fun and it's diddling with technology. And it can make women dance.. :) - Robots are fun, but have evolved into fancy remote controled toys, not intelligent automatons. For the holidays: I want to "master" perl and DBI-ish stuff.. It's boring, but I need a basic toolkit that I can make a living off of, and boring custom database applications pay. Or at least I hope they still do.

#Comment Re: Why ask Why? made: 2003-11-25 01:01:08.932493+00 by: Dan Lyke

Wait a moment, I have it: Making robot women dance with bad techno music!

Uhhhh... Okay... Maybe not.

#Comment Re: Why ask Why? made: 2003-11-25 10:20:33.513621+00 by: meuon

Ok.. That comment calls for: ROFLMAO!!

#Comment Re: Why ask Why? made: 2003-11-25 17:40:00.264367+00 by: Dan Lyke

Oh yeah, re: "Dan and Debbie both screamed when I got 128kbps from Sprint for almost $3k per month." I just figured I'd add for context that there was another few thou in installation fees, but "It's okay, I [meaning Meuon] got net 60 terms, so we've got two months to figure out how to pay for it."

#Comment Re: Why ask Why? made: 2003-11-25 19:11:35.413315+00 by: meuon

And to add to the perspective: One of the arguments between me and the 'guys' and Deb lately was xDSL. They wanted to resell BellSouth xDSL (and make almost no margin, yet commit to BS for over $5k per month of charges) and I did not.

Funny, in a way that is what I did today: network 4 computers, fixed some phone system wiring and install their Business aDSL system. They got 'no install charge' from BellSouth, $49 per month for 1.5mb down 384k up. Tested at bandwidthplace.com at 1.2mb down and 305k up. Not shabby at all. And the install package they sent had extra filters, cables, hardware and a ROUTER/Firewall.

I made my lunch money today. Guess I can't go on unemployement eh?

#Comment Re: Why ask Why? made: 2003-11-25 19:34:53.040594+00 by: Dan Lyke

A lot of companies have gone bust trying to resell xDSL. Why should anyone but the geeks who know the details buy from an indie rather than the giant, especially since there's going to be a lot of finger pointing if your bandwidth and your physical connection don't come from the same place?

I'd love to get a Speakeasy connection out here because I know the difference between their TOS and SBC's (I'm just not sure I'm willing to trade bandwith from my Comcast connection for that, since I can only get iDSL out here). But I know there's no way any of my neighbors would have a clue about the differences.

#Comment Re: Why ask Why? made: 2003-11-25 20:26:09.286698+00 by: aiworks

Why isn't the next big thing for local ISPs wireless access? Looking at COL, I would think they would be perfectly positioned to take advantage of the Chattanooga downtown explosion with new condos going up everywhere and tons of small businesses.

Are there economic issues that don't make sense?

I know that one would need to: -get big bandwidth to that side of town -deploy a bunch of hardware (802.11x MANs with meshed deployments) -talk people into letting you plant devices off of their signs (which grandfather laws allow and I would think you could do by trading free access).

I know that realistically a small business would need to deploy antennas and an access point of their own, but that's what SBA loans are for (and you could get involved in the process to help make that easy).

Between UnumProvident, BC/BS, and Cigna, there's something around 2000+ IT workers and "connected professionals" in that area. Cell phone companies broker deals to get access to employees under the guise of an employee perk, why not wireless access so that you can be in touch at lunch or work from the park?

I would think that the market would easily bear $29 month for this and somewhere between 500-1000 subscribers after a ramp up period.

Seems like there's a real opportunity to do something that people would want to get behind as uniquely Chattanoogan.

#Comment Re: Why ask Why? made: 2003-11-25 21:12:31.677262+00 by: Dan Lyke

Some variant of Sprint[Wiki] has tried and failed at fixed wireless out here, and while I'd love to see it work I don't see how to make it practical. Condos are a bad market because you have to mount antennas outside, $40/month to the cable company or phone company versus haggling with the condo association, you know where that goes. Line of sight is an issue. And Mike has a lot of experience with the subtleties of fixed wireless hardware in direct sunlight and high winds and the like.

And I'm not sure what the current state of Chattanooga MetroNet[Wiki] is, but that project promised to bring fiber to at least the buildings owned by cronies of the mayor in the downtown region.

I think the real issue is that just like cell phone prices, the cost of wired bandwidth is only going to go down, and there's only room for a few large players in a commodity market. When we started COL way back then I figured we had 5 years. That it's taken 10 for the big guys to catch on just blows me away.

If I were in the ISP business right now, I think I'd try to build a low cost set of premium services for traveling users. Partner it with some software for windows that would allow SSH tunnelling of SMTP[Wiki], IMAP[Wiki], POP[Wiki] and web browsing. I can't tell you how many times I've heard "It sucks that I can't send email while I'm on the road", how many complaints I've heard that could be fixed with POP-before-SMTP, and especially with the advent of free wireless networks everywhere encryption is going to become an issue. But it'd have to be cheap, and you'd have to build a system so that you could deploy it for lots of users with little work.

#Comment Re: Why ask Why? made: 2003-11-26 05:29:06.927+00 by: Dan Lyke

Okay, to take that last idea a little further: There's going to be need for web services. This is something that Mark Andreesen got when he did LoudCloud (now Opsware) even if the execution wasn't in the right place. Offshored IT departments can't or won't give the net services necessary to move quickly, right now I see a situation where we need off-hours trans-Pacific data transfer, and because of politics what we need is a trusted third party that can have data movement scheduled to and from. There'll be room in some of those markets for things that those of us with colo servers think is trivial, but that IT and company policy make too onerous to implement quickly.

But not much room...

#Comment Re: Why ask Why? made: 2003-11-26 13:06:24.589871+00 by: meuon

There are so many commercial wireless Wide-Area WiFi networks in town the spectrum is used up, and because of the topology, most suck. Luckily, there are plenty of open hot spots, and non-intentional hot spots :).

As for sending/receiving e-mail on the road, Auth-SMTP works very nicely. And yes, you can do both POP and SMTP encrypted now.. works well.

#Comment Re: Why ask Why? made: 2003-11-26 15:44:33.763585+00 by: Dan Lyke

Yep, but most IT departments and ISPs haven't (won't?) set it up. Or at least that's the case with most of the bitching I hear... I do need to set up encrypted SMTP, right now I'm just using SSH tunnelling.

#Comment Re: Why ask Why? made: 2003-11-27 06:56:33.341077+00 by: Shawn

Event without Auth-SMTP, the POP spec has included sending (with authorization) for years. Nobody implements it though.

#Comment Re: Why ask Why? made: 2003-11-27 10:38:31.700799+00 by: meuon

Courier is a phenomenal mail server. Does it all well, once you figure out how to compile it for YOUR uses. :) Gotta read ALL of the docs for the gems that make it easier.