Month: September 2009
What if you could remember everything? Total Recall and e-memory Revolution are coming
To commemorate their new book – Total Recall– the Computer History museum recently hosted a lecture and "fireside chat" on the subject of eMemory and its ability to reshape our lives. This article is an account of that lecture and discussion, as well as a personal perspective on the subject matter.
For many years, Microsoft Researchers Gordon Bell (x-DEC VP) and Jim Gemmell have been exploring ways to record and easily access every moment in a person’s life, i.e. the proverbial trail of data that people leave behind. Since 1998, Gordon Bell- the principal researcher at the Microsoft Research Silicon Valley Campus- has digitally archived every aspect of his life. Conversations, phone calls, photos, CDs, articles, home videos, e-mail — every piece of data Bell has created or consumed has been squirreled away into a database. In effect, he has offloaded the past 11 years of his life into a comprehensive electronic memory bank. This effort was the genesis of the MyLifeBits project at Microsoft Research.
Mr. Bell’s decade-long data dump has convinced Bell that the frailty of bio-memory — what everyone else has to work with — is about to become a thing of the past. He claims we are about to usher in an era where your every moment is recorded. Will we be able to find the signal (important and relevent information) through the noise (of extraneous recorded information)? That remains to be seen.
Advances in digital storage, digital recording and digital search are converging in a synergistic way to enable the e-memory revolution, according to the authors. People are already awash in a sea of information. If they are not already overloaded with files, papers, books, periodicals, etc they will soon be. Already portions of our lives are digitally captured every day. From the constant stream of e-mail to the GPS-stamped pictures we take on our Smartphones, pieces of ourselves are being stored on Facebook or YouTube or massive portable hard drives. How to make sense of it all?
The key to unlocking e-memory’s transformative power lies in harnessing mountains of recorded data to find the subject matter of interest. For example, Mr. Bell, who has a heart condition, tracks his weight daily and monitors the data pumped out by his pacemaker to get a changing snapshot of his well-being. The recorded information could be used to create a picture of one’s overall health. The ability to data mine our past would enable us to chart how much exercise we have been doing now in comparison with what we did four years ago. Such graphic tools and related tables could aid in medical diagnosis, treatment of diseases and ailments, and preventive health care – potentially a very useful tool for physicians and patients.
But what of the potential downsides when bio-memory shifts to bits and bytes? A hint of Big Brother lurks behind the notion that every aspect of life is recorded and stored, the authors say. What if the stored information falls into the wrong hands? How can the information be protected? How can the legitimate user be authenticated? What about backup in case of fire, earthquake or terrorist attack? Many unresolved questions arise. Among them are: access authentication, storage server robustness, file formats, security, client to server upstream and downstream bandwidth requirements, categorizing and cataloging stored information, memory search algorithms and retrieval strategies.
”What we’re doing is not really aimed at putting your whole life on Facebook or MySpace or wherever,” Bell said. “This is a memory aid and a recording aid, something you utilize at a personal level.”
But there’s another danger (besides the privacy issue) with such a personal memory aid; we could get so caught up in our own memories that we quit living in the present. Already, many of us reminisce about the "good old days." Could many of us with access to e-memory live in the past?
While the e-memory revolution might be inevetible, as the authors claim, the privacy, security, and technical implementation issues might delay its onset for longer than most might expect. Caveat emptor.
CLEAR 4G WiMAX Innovation Network is Now Open for Developers in Silicon Valley
In an exclusive article, Clearwire details logistics, goals and objectives for the "4G" CLEAR Developer’s Network in Silicon Valley. Largest 4G WiMAX "sandbox" for developers covers more than 20 square miles in Santa Clara, Mountain View and Palo Alto, California.
At the September 17th Telecom Council Carrier Connections conference, Clearwire’s Allen Flanagan provided an overview and short video on the company’s "4G" mobile WiMAX Innovation Network – a pre-commercial network for mobile WiMAX application development and testing in Silicon Valley. The network went live only two days prior -on September 15th. The development focus was said to be "4G" Mobile Applications. These will be described later in this article.
The CLEAR developer network is a precursor to commercial service planned for the San Francisco Bay Area1 in 2010. It will cover more than 20 square miles in Santa Clara, Mountain View and parts of downtown Palo Alto, California. The current coverage footprint includes the local campuses of Intel and Google, two founding Innovation Network supporters who have also commenced their own internal 4G application development programs. Cisco’s campus will receive coverage in the coming months as the network expands. Clearwire will update the coverage area maps over time
After reviewing terms and conditions, qualified software application developers that live or work in Silicon Valley can register for free mobile WiMAX service, as long as they buy or own a Clearwire approved terminal (see list below). Bright House, Comcast, Sprint, and Time Warner Cable will join Cisco, Intel and Google in support of Clearwire’s mobile WiMAX application development initiative. All those companies except Cisco are strategic investors in Clearwire. The first four plan to resell the CLEAR service, so they have a lot to gain. All of the participants will aid in promoting the program and have deployed their own respective development resources into the network (e.g. RAN equipment, IP NGN systems, devices, software, etc).
Infrastructure providers include: Motorola, Samsung, Huawei (these three vendors supply RAN equipment), and Cisco (Core IP NGN Network).
Editor’s Note: Allen could not confirm that all of these infrastructure vendors would be involved in the Innovation Network instance.
Components, modules and applications were said to be available from: Intel, Google, Cisco, and Beceem (chip set). Netbooks with embedded mobile WiMAX interfaces are available from Lenovo, Dell, Toshiba, Samsung, and Fujitsu for use in the program. The new Samsung Mondi MID handheld is also supported on the Innovation Network.
Editors Note: only the mobile devices listed are eligible for use on the CLEAR Innovation network. Home modems and CLEAR VOIP products and service are not available on the Innovation Network.
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Making Broadband Access Available and Affordable for all in the US- Interview with SCU Law Professor Allen Hammond
Professor Allen Hammond, Director of the Broadband Institute of California, offers a perspective on the importance of broadband access and a prescription for making it available and affordable for all U.S. residents. Recommendations for Digital Inclusion, U.S. Broadband Policy, a national wireless network, funding and measurement tools are also included in this interview.
Most of us take broadband Internet access for granted. We watch videos, play music, multi-media games, upload and download large files without even thinking about it. But not everyone in the U.S. is that fortunate. A large number of the U.S. population lives in rural or “underserved” areas where broadband access is not available. Many low income, inner city residents can’t afford cable or DSL based broadband access. And municipal wireless networks that were promised to provide such access for cities and counties have been delayed or cancelled.
Those without affordable access to broadband are at a competitive disadvantage; they are at risk of being marginalized and left behind, as more and more mandatory services migrate to the broadband Internet. Today, most skilled jobs require PC and web based interfacing skills, which are more likely to be learned by those that have broadband Internet access. Government services (such as Unemployment and Disability claims), education and training (including webinars), health care, travel information, and banking are offered on-line and have become pervasive on the web. But without broadband access, these services are not conveniently or easily available. What if you’re bank branch office has been recently closed and you’re told to do most of your banking on-line? What if you’re applying for a job that requires web surfing, quick access to information, uploading or downloading .ppt or zip files from web sites? Not good if you don’t have broadband Internet access or related skills. Those that don’t will be left behind.
Professor Hammond firmly believes that “Broadband access is a civil rights issue.” It should not matter if one lives in a sparsely populated or rural area, an inner city, or a suburb. Rich or poor shouldn’t matter either. Broadband access should be made available to all that want it at affordable rates.
What’s Digital Inclusion and Why Is It Important?
The Wired for Wireless? Summary Report1 uses the term “Digital Inclusion” to denote the ability of everyone to have access to broadband and the related information technology. Specifically it states: “Digital Inclusion means that everyone — regardless of who they are or where they live — can participate in and take advantage of the economic, educational, health, and civic opportunities afforded by broadband and related information technology.
More than just access to the Internet, Digital Inclusion means that all stakeholders are engaged in the planning and implementation of technology systems; that all potential users can access the technology and know how to use it; and that with these technologies come more services, increased information, and greater community access. As digital technology is increasingly used for educational, employment, health, commercial, and informational purposes, Digital Inclusion is critical for full engagement, participation, and opportunity in the social, economic, and civic life of society.”
The report found that “wireless networks are effectively supporting government operations and services. Wireless technology is being used for a large range of government tasks: traffic light control, meter reading, data transport from regional offices to headquarters, video surveillance, communication between emergency vehicles, and much more. These projects have proven successful when jurisdictions commit funding toward the deployment and maintenance of the network. Project research indicates that many local governments in California pursued or are pursuing a wireless network in order to bring broadband access to underserved communities. In most of these cases, the wireless networks were intended to enhance or fill in gaps left by existing deployment.” However, the deployment of most of those CA municipal wireless networks, e.g. Wireless Silicon Valley, San Francisco, Fresno, etc have gone into hibernation status or they’re just plain dead.
U.S. Government Broadband Stimulus and Plan
The U.S. is one of the few developed countries that does not have a national broadband plan and up till this year, has done little to accelerate or drive broadband deployment. The federal government has taken the position that broadband Internet is the job of the private sector. This is in sharp contrast to the public sector build out of roads, highways and bridges.
On February 17th, 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act) became law. This was the government’s first step to making broadband more available in the U.S. In particular, the Act allocated $7.2 billion in grant and loan funds for broadband build-outs.
The complete article can be read at: http://viodi.com/2009/09/18/affordable-broadband/
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ComSoc SCV Oct 14th meeting: Intel’s Vision for the Future of Wireless Communications + supporting articles/ commentary
Wednesday October 14th, 2009, 6:00 – 8:00PM
National Semiconductor, Building E, Conference Room, 2900 Semiconductor Dr, Santa Clara, CA 95051
Intel’s Vision for the Future of Wireless Communications
Siavash Alamouti, CTO, Intel’s Mobile Wireless Group
Siavash Alamouti is an Intel Fellow in the Mobility Group and Chief Technology Officer for the Mobile Wireless Group of Intel. In this role, he is responsible for all wireless standards with a product roadmap at Intel. This includes the WiMAX Forum, IEEE 802.16, 3GPP, OMA, WiFi Alliance, IEEE 802.11,etc. He is also known as the technical champion of WiMAX technology at Intel.
Alamouti is recognized by the IEEE Communications Society as the author of one of the best 57 papers in the last 50 years of the Society’s history. He is most well known for the invention of "the Alamouti code" which is included in a number of wireless standards. Siavash holds over 20 patents in the areas of wireless communications and wireless systems design. He has authored many publications and technical reports in the last decade for the IEEE Communications Society and other organizations that have reached professional audiences both nationally and internationally.
In addition to standards, Intel’s Mobile Wireless Group undertakes research projects that are targeted at investigating new applications and use models enable by wireless technologies. One example is My WiFi -which enables high speed peer-to-peer communications between devices using WiFi and future technologies such as WiGig (an industry study group that is likely to be proposed to IEEE 802.11) that promises to provide multi Gbps wireless communications using 60 GHz unlicensed band.
Siavash Alamouti, CTO, Intel’s Mobile Wireless Group, will share his vision for wireless communications in the future and describe various ongoing research projects in wireless communications at Intel. He will talk about the next generation Mobile WiMAX (also known as WiMAX 2.0) based on the emerging IEEE 802.16m standard and a candidate for IMT-Advanced, and will also discuss Intel’s vision for the evolution of WLAN and WPAN technologies.
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Is WiMAX in India ready to take off or be Dead on Arrival?
India’s 3G and WiMAX spectrum auctions are planned to commence this year paving the way for Mobile Internet and Fixed Broadband Wireless Access.
India’s IT/ Telecommunications Minister, Andimuthu Raja, has stated that the government will start the auction of licenses for high-speed wireless services within the next three months. Many feared that the long delayed auctions might not start until sometime in 2010, so this could be good news. In November 2008, India’s Telecommunications ministry picked NM Rothschild & Sons Ltd. as the independent auctioneer to help it sell the permits and aimed to complete the process by early 2009, but that never happened.
The auction to operate 3G mobile-phone services and fixed wireless broadband (WiMAX) services will earn India about 250 billion rupees (US$5.1B), Raja said. The starting price for each slot of 3G spectrum is 35 billion Indian Rupees (US$716M), lower than the (US$827M) price previously signaled by the government but higher than the original (US$413M) price suggested. "Since the number of slots are only four, the auction price will be more," Raja said.
Three available blocks of spectrum in the 2.3 and 2.5GHz band will be auctioned separately for fixed broadband wireless access services. The so called "WiMAX auction" will be held after the 3G auctions are completed and are expected to follow a similar process. The government ministers also set a base price of 17.5 billion rupees for permits to operate fixed broadband wireless (WiMAX) services.
As noted above, the 3G and WiMAX spectrum auctions had been scheduled to take place in January this year, but were subject to repeated delays that have allowed government controlled operators BSNL and MTNL to deploy 3G services ahead of privately owned rival carriers. Those operators had already received licenses for one of the five blocks of spectrum to be allocated for wireless broadband (more in the next section of this article).
It was hoped that early auctions of 3G and WiMAX licenses would result in a growing market for mobile Internet in India, which has much potential and promise. India is now the second largest wireless market in the world, but almost all of it comes from cellular voice and SMS (rather than from wireless Internet access). India’s cellular operators added 11.59 million subscribers in May, taking the country’s total to 415.25 million, according to the latest figures from Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).
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