Saturday ToDo: Stealth Programming for Kids (& You)

Ok, so it is late on Saturday for a Saturday Something ToDo posting. So sue me. 🙂 If you’ve got some kids in the youngster to adolescent range to entertain over the long Memorial Day weekend you might really want to give this one a try.

And it is a great one: A new addictive Educational Toy called Scratch. It lets kids (and adults who are young at heart) build nifty animations. You can draw your own characters with some included tools or import a photo to use as an avatar. Then put as many as you like on the same “stage” and animate them. If you like what you get you can always upload it and share.

Oh, did I mention? It’s a free download.

While all that is cool, the real secret is that it is all driven by a pretty complete programming language. (Don’t bother to tell the kids, they won’t be impressed) It’s a dead easy way for kids, or anyone, to really get a feel for programming and standard programming structures. And that, actually, is the point. (Again, no need to play this point up with the kids.) The program is the brainchild of Mitch Resnick and his “Lifelong Kindergarten” lab at the MIT Media Lab. It is an inheritor of other nifty software devices like logo, lego-logo, mindstorms robotics (also recommended) and squeak. They all focused on giving kids easy access to fundamental programming tools in a environment that made learning a natural product of activity rather than an exercise is abstraction and memorization.

I could try and explain how it works but it’d be much more effective for you to go to the BBC article and play the video found there. (You can read the excellent story too, but that is less immediately informative than the demonstration.)

Then travel to the Scratch website and poke around. If you’d really like to get a picture of the motivation behind Scratch then play the Real Media file that tries to explain the purpose of the program.

Download the program (OSX or Windows, Linux upcoming). I mentioned that it’s free, right?

Play. Give it to kids to play with. Sit back and watch them tinker a new little world into existence.

Obligatory bandwidth/philosophy plug: Being able to generate, trade, and interactively collaborate on making things–not just consuming them–is one of the best reasons to want real bandwidth. It’s our kids who will live in the promised land. We will only catch a glimpse of the world they will be able to create.

[Thanks to both the friend and the son-in-law who pointed me to this one over the last week.]


We are in the final days…of TV1.0. The signs are everywhere. Most recently, I received an invite (thanks to a sympathetic reader) to beta test Joost–a combo software client and web-based content library that allows the user to demonstrate for themselves that the old way of doing things is numbered.

TV1.0 is the familiar old broadcast model of one broadcaster sending to many, passive “receivers.” TV stations send their signal out and we sit and watch it. Defined by limited spectrum, there were only a few channels, shows appeared in their set time slot, for the defined number of minutes less the minutes devoted to the ubiquitous ads. Shows are designed to appeal to the broadest number of people and offend the fewest. Cable changed very little except that it gave you more channels. PBS introduced the idea of voluntary subscription support–but remains in other ways locked into the broadcast model as well.

There’s lots to hate about this model of video. (And I’ve been happy to jump in; see “Die TV. Die! Die! Die!” or “Why You Want Real Bandwidth”.) I’ve called the emerging model “DV” for Downloadable Video. The basic idea is that when bandwidth is no longer scarce (e.g. when we have fiber to the home) and we can download video to our hearts content, then the reasons for the old, annoying way of getting video will go away and new forms will emerge that cater to our obvious interest in watching shows whenever we want to, unlimited by advertiser-defined time slots, and uninterrupted by ads. Shows can be designed to appeal to the passionate viewer and world-wide, cheap, direct-to-consumer distribution can be counted on to provide an audience to support even the most specialized shows.

Joost plays in to this because it has become the most credible contender for long-show, commercially-produced content king. (YouTube has the short piece, self-produced end of the DV market pretty much sown up–and in some ways is even further into a DV1.0 world.) Joost first hit the news as the brainchild of the same guys who brought you the telephony-disrupting Skype and terrified the music and video businesses with Kazaa. The trick in all these enterprises was leveraging the unused bandwidth of customers using an idea described as peer-to-peer aka P2P. In return for the downloaded service you get you let the network use your spare uploading capacity.

Joost uses this technology as well and so holds down their main operating costs…but the real splash came when they began to sign up real, long-form content and supported it with in-video advertising. That gave them both content credibility and a visible business plan–something no similar competitor has. The jury is still out on whether long-form content has to be supported by advertising that is embedded in the download or whether, like YouTube, advertising can be on the supporting web page or whether, like iTunes, a pay-per-view model is possible.

Part of what is interesting about Joost is that they are setting up to be a very social site. They’ve got chat, you can invite friends, and there is an API for new widgets that could further extend the ability to hook into IP services and RSS feeds. This opens doors. Conceivably one could invite friends from all over the country to watch the same show or sporting event and chat online while it was playing. No doubt “clubs” will arise focused around particular shows and scheduled meetings. RSS will allow for further amalgamation and integration with other services and video feeds.

But the proof is in the pudding; or in this case, the viewing. I recently sat down, played around with the (very slick) interface and actually settled in to watch a commercial TV/now DV show. It played at full screen on my laptop–there was noticeable blockiness but no actual hesitations even though the feed was being relayed over my wifi. Cox had provided me access to the first real, commercial television show I’ve streamed down and watched in its entirety over the internet instead of watching it when it was scheduled to be on cable. It’s a sign. We’re in the final days of TV1.0.


(Like the idea and have found by clicking through that Joost is still in beta and requires an invite from a user? Happy days: GigaOm’s influential NewTeeVee blog has the pull to get a simple sign-in sheet for its readers. You can use it too.)

Incidently, there are other, less high-profile startups trying to do something similar. The Joost page on Wikipedia points to several. I’d particularly recommend the Democracy site and player.


I make a desultory effort on Saturdays to provide a link to something you can do–not merely read about. The Advocate this morning provides the perfect opportunity to highlight Wikipedia, the citizen-edited, online, encyclopedia. An article in this morning’s newspaper offers an overview of the project from the standpoint of South Louisiana authors of Wikipedia articles. They’ve done a great job cleaning up misconceptions about our region and making accurate information about their special areas of knowledge available to all.

The message for today is: So can you. We all have knowledge to share and Wikipedia provides a disciplined, peer-reviewed way to do so. After all, if you enjoy the knowledge available on the web it would seem fair to contribute to the wealth.

But first some background…. From the introductory paragraphs:

Louisianians contributing to Wikipedia, at, are helping to clear up misconceptions about often-stereotyped Louisiana culture.

“I thought the articles were lacking in accurate information, so I decided to revise them using source material I was familiar with,” said Shane K. Bernard, a Wikipedia contributor who has edited many of the articles about southern Louisiana.

The article goes on to interview Bernard and other regional writers.

The Wikipedia’s ambition is reminescent of the original French Encyclopedists. Their
EncyclopĂ©die is often viewed as the purest expression of Enlightenment ideals: they wanted to make available all of the world’s knowledge in a rational, accessible form—and in doing so invented a new literary form, the encyclopedia, and a new, collaborative review method of writing and editing works too large for any single person. They were clear about wanting to change the way that people think–and arguably their new device for ordering and validating vast amounts of information did much to make their model of the scientific attitude widespread among a newly literate public.

Wikipedia can be understood as the logical extension of the attitude and intents of the original EncyclopĂ©die in an era where the most accessible forms of knowledge and the most powerful collaborative tools are mediated, not by the printing press, but by the internet. What is interesting—and controversial—about the project is that it lets literally anyone contribute. Your work is screened for quality—by other contributors, but you are not screened for certifications. A local Swamp Pop enthusiast can change an entry last edited by a person holding a doctorate in musicology who wrote his dissertation on the roots of the genre. Of course, the professional will keep a close eye on the entry, editing it to make sure it remains accurate. Online discussions among the “wikipeidia community” iron out disagreements and the very public nature of the edits tends to push regular users to only make edits that they can easily defend. The traditions and values of the online community

The result has been (at least in my judgment) an astonishingly good, if not perfect encyclopedia with a breadth that could not be achieved in any other way. It stands as vindication of the idea that a large community can do very good and complex work relying only on self-organization and self-governance. There is no centralized “quality control” and yet it all works quite well.

But back to today’s idea: You can participant. If you do a lousy job you’ll get edited out. If you do a good one it’ll be kept—and you’ll know you’ve made a contribution.

If you’re interested in doing something like this review how the swamp pop entry got put together. It’s a nice little example. Click over to the current Swamp Pop page. Near the top of the page click on the tab that says “History.” This page allows you to compare any two versions of the article by clicking on the radio buttons to the left of each entry. Go to the bottom of the page and click on the date of the first “edit” {14 August 2004}. You’ll see a short “stub” entry. The current sophisticated version grew from that seed by small additions and corrections.

Take a look a the community portal. You’ll see that there are plenty of available tasks. You can become a community member by simply creating an account and doing something.

Have fun and contribute to the web!

TechSouth, Atlantic Engineering, and Fiber

LUS is bringing Jim Salter, CEO of Atlantic Engineering which was recently awarded the FTTH home design contract, to TechSouth according to an LUS media release. He’ll be available to answer questions about “products and services.” That’s actually a pretty big deal and its pretty nice that the opportunity is being offered to the public and not only reportorial types. Monday, May 7 at 1:30 p.m.

From the press release:

The City of Lafayette and Lafayette Utilities System will introduce the head of the engineering firm recently selected to spearhead the LUS Fiber-to-the-Home project at a press conference before the start of the TechSouth annual summit and exposition. James H. Salter, P.E., CEO of Atlantic Engineering Group, will be in Lafayette to introduce the leadership team on the fiber project, answer interested citizens’ questions about upcoming products and services and explain how Fiber-to-the-Home will enhance their lives.

The nationally recognized professional engineer from Atlantic Engineering will explain the fiber build-out process and the firm’s role in ensuring Lafayette residents and LUS customers have the latest and best technology and services when the LUS products become available in 18 months from the scheduled bond fund delivery in July 2007.

LUS at TechSouth

Heads up:

TechSouth sent out an email blast with nothing in it but the following LUS teaser:

(click for a larger image)

LUS and TechSouth are promoting LUS’ booth as a place to find out more about the fiber to the home project.

If you’ve got an interest (and who reading this blog doesn’t) you’d be well-served to visit LUS at TechSouth; it’s always interesting. Last year they quietly announced in a looping slide show what has turned out to be a cornerstone of the project: full peer-to-peer bandwidth between subscribers; aka intranet speeds. That item, which means that every subscriber will be able to communicate with every other subscriber at the full available speed of the intranet, is a huge plus for both the digital divide and the entrepreneurial hopes for the local project.

Expect to be able to glean interesting details by talking directly to the folks who’ll be running the project.

Oh, and hey: TechSouth is worth visiting for a myriad of other reasons. It’s about time for a post…..

Lagniappe: Bop on over to the TechSouth site and scroll to the bottom. There you’ll find an unexpected sight: LUS, Cox, and AT&T all lined up, and sharing a common banner… 🙂

Celebrate July 16

The anniversary of the July 16, 2005, community vote in support of the LUS fiber to the premises project should be celebrated in the community and by the community each year.

That day marked the culmination of one process and the beginning of another. The process that ended was an extended community discussion about Lafayette and the kind of future we want it to have.

Despite persistent campaigns of fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) waged by opponents of the LUS project, the plan won approval because citizens here came to view the fiber project as something consistent with Lafayette’s long-recognized desire to control its own destiny. It also won approval because proponents of the project were able to clearly identify the interests of the community as being separate from the interests of the corporations that opposed the project.

The fact that the project won by a 62-38 margin makes it easy to forget just how uncertain its prospects were when the the election on the project was first called. Remember, it was opponents who wanted the election. Those of us who favored the project were afraid that Cox and BellSouth (remember them?) would bury us with the dollars they could bring to their efforts to oppose the project.

I believe we won because, at the core of the campaign, proponents of the fiber project trusted the intelligence of the citizens of Lafayette to recognize their interests. We benefited greatly by the disdain for the community repeatedly displayed by opponents, but particularly BellSouth.

Now, after nearly two years of court fights, the project is moving forward. Bonds will be sold in a couple of months and money will be in hand to begin the work of building the network for which so many of us worked so long and hard to bring about.

So, with the last serious legal challenge dispensed with (sure would like to know who paid those attorneys for the plaintiffs in those suits!) and the project gaining momentum, the community should now move to a new phase on the project as well.

I believe we can do this by celebrating the anniversary of the fiber election by recognizing what we’ve accomplished and focusing on the new opportunities ahead. One way that we can do this is by bringing in a prominent speaker to inspire us to dream big about the possibilities that will open up to us as a result of every citizen having access to a fat pipe (100 megabits per second?) connection.

What kind of community can we grow here based on that kind of abundance? What kind of businesses can grow here based on the kind of bandwidth and connectivity that won’t be available in the vast majority of U.S. cities for decades to come? What does a community without a digital divide look and operate like? How much will our ability to educate ourselves and our children improve when access to information is a right, not a privilege?

One of the things the legal fight against the LUS project was designed to do, I believe, was to dampen enthusiasm for the project, as if the city’s commitment to using technology to differentiate itself as some kind of fad that would pass if opponents just dragged this out long enough.

They were wrong again.

The enthusiasm has not waned. Now that the project is moving forward, the time has come for the community to begin focusing on the opportunities that will soon be upon us.

Celebrate July 16!

Festival International

Festival International, et en anglais : Festival International Acadiana’s francophone world music festival. T’ain’t nothing like it. If you’re not from here you need to get yourself here. And if you’re from here you need to get yourself over there…..

So it is Festival time again and I’m taking a break from the fun. Just got back from listening to the Malvenas, catching a little distant Brazilian folk, watching grandkids play in the fountain, and mixing up Lebanese and Cajun for lunch. (Spicy Chicken Gyros and Crawfish Maque Choux — both recommended.)

About this time of year every year I’m moved to make a springtime expression of Lafayette’s thanks for the support we’ve has received from around the country and around the world. My server logs and emails, make it clear that our fiber conflict has attracted supporters from all over. The most appropriate expression of our thanks has always seemed to me to be to share with those folks that which makes the community worth fighting for.

So, before you go much further, click over to the KRVS website and catch the ongoing Festival International Stream which will be running all day today (Sat. 28th) and tomorrow (Sun. 29th). Get the music up in the background. Festival International is a great expression of what makes Lafayette and South Louisiana so unique. In a band which runs roughly south of I-10 (but further north near Lafayette) you’ll find a unique and uniquely open culture. Leavened with a healthy dose African traditions the gumbo of cultures here is classically creole–in the anthropological sense: it is an uneven mixture of cultures. The original settler culture here was not British but French and other cultures, including what we call “Americain,” are layered over that, not the other way around. Traditionalists remain amused by the American nervousness over things that can’t be changed in human nature and confused at why anyone would think they should supressed be instead of celebrated. One index of that attitude: While the rest of the country seems lost in an anxiety attack over immigrant culture, Lafayette invites the world particularly if they don’t speak English, to come on over and show us their stuff with the intent of adopting what we like best.

You’re not in Kansas, Toto.

There’s a nice, and growing collection of images and videos over at the Advertiser site that offer up a taste of the ambiance…. [Video index sans flash; images index sans flash]

Thanks all…local and not…here’s what we’ve been fighting for.

Learning & Teaching—and the Library

Here’s something that is a short, fun, watch but deserves a longer, contemplative, consideration.

It’s a roller coaster ride done in a classic Atari program. Go try it, noting the long, long rise at the end where you get to look down on the roller coaster below you.

Go on, this is fun and the rest won’t make sense unless you’ve actually tried it: YouTube – Real Estate Roller Coaster


OK, now the not-so-fun part. That is a video that maps the cost-adjusted price of housing stock since 1890. (Here’s what that looks like in a NYTimes graph–you’ll recognize the “ride.”) Before you cry “boring–the worst of social studies” let me hasten to say that while I do not find the content boring (after all I was a social studies teacher in another life–and own my home) that is not why I’ve posted this for your lazy Sunday consideration.

I’m more interested in the context of this blog in the very interesting fact that you can learn something from this video that you can’t learn in more standard ways. We learn most usefully from “experience.” Educators mean something pretty specific when they use that term and it doesn’t preclude learning that takes place in schools. It includes things like this video which give you the experience of change over time. This is pretty different from the all -at-once time-abstracted image you get from the graph.

Long story short: this is a fine learning/teaching tool.

What makes that interesting here is that it was made by a “regular person” using the cheapest of hardware and software to help folks understand something which is otherwise difficult to put across about a very special interest of his or her own. That sort of individually localized “production” of sophisticated material is new…and very encouraging.

If we want more of this sort of thing we should do a couple of things: 1) Supply big, cheap, upload bandwidth–so that people can do video uploads or serve a few videos effectively from their own server. 2) Provide access to sophisticated and flexible software…this video required mating graphs with a 3D game program.

We’ll soon enough have #1 covered in Lafayette, and with the amazing bandwidth that will make available, at least on the local intranet, we’ll have the potential to use increasing sophisticated programs located on the net that will help with #2. If we choose, we can buy access to amazingly sophisticated programs and offer fast access to them through a local “library” organization. The library here has some technically sophisticated folks; librarians caught on to the value of communications technology early. I see no reason that the Lafayette Public Library couldn’t offer such a “loan” program and occasional classes on the software. (They already offer more basic computer/net classes.)

It is worth really thinking about how we can set the stage for our community to have access to the creative tools they might need to create really interesting products.

An on-net software library might be an way to exploit the utility of our fast intranet and the power of the pooled resource of the community library for everyone’s benefit.

Competition, Market Penetration, and the Digital Divide

The International Herald Tribune carried a story not long ago that lead to a bout of reflection about LUS’ telecom utility. It made me wonder: is there a point where marketing and digital divide issues come together? Can serving the common good also be smart marketing?

The Tribune story recounts a situation emerging in France that bears watching here in Lafayette. The French Fiber to the Home market is in the midst of a major expansion and, at least in a few places, these new networks are competing with each other. That is, for the companies, a potential problem. Competing networks must gain a minimum number of paying subscribers per mile (or kilometer) in order to make back their investment. With only one network building itself up it is pretty easy to get the minimum number of subscribers… but with two it is twice as hard….and with three or more there simply may not be enough room in the market for all to survive.

The new entrants are betting that they’ll get a big enough market share to survive. There are only two basic strategies: 1) take established subscribers from the incumbents and 2) create new subscribers. A smart new competitor has a clear strategy for doing both.

In Lafayette
The situation in Lafayette bears a interesting resemblance to the one in France: In short order there will be three networks vying for subscribers in the wired telecommunications market. Cox is and AT&T is preparing to invade its opposite numbers’ monopoly market. LUS will come on the scene with a high-powered, low-cost alternative to both. It’s success will depend upon taking subscribers from the incumbents–and on creating new subscribers.

The basic strategy for taking subscribers from the old incumbents is straightforward: offer a better product for a cheaper price. LUS has made it abundantly clear that it intends to do just that–and with a home-town, voter-approved alternative it should do well on that score.

It isn’t so clear that LUS has a well thought-out strategy for creating new subscribers.

The French Response
French purveyors of high-speed internet are faced with a market in which only 60 percent of the country’s households have computers. Creating new subscribers will mean convincing folks that don’t have a computer that they ought to get one in addition to purchasing the service.

“If one-third of the people in a building do not own a computer and see no reason to get broadband, it becomes a serious financial issue,” Fogg said. “Some Internet companies have offered incentives for people to buy computers, but Neuf has taken it to the ultimate level in offering the computer themselves.”

Neuf (one of the triple-play video/phone/internet providers) is now offering a package called “easygate” which includes a Linux-based computer stocked with open source apps. It is, with inimitable french styling, a handsome box. Flicker user nitot’s caption accompanying the CCed image at left describes its functionality:

“A DSL modem plus a low-end PC in a single box, running Linux, Firefox and a few apps, leased to subscribers of the Neuf Internet broadband service. “

The idea is easy to abstract: reduce the hardware barrier to as little as possible. if a major impediment to selling your internet service is that a large portion of your potential customer base doesn’t want to buy your modem service because they don’t have a computer then put the computer in the modem and lease it along with the modem. They can try it without making a big-ticket computer buy. Neuf isn’t going the pure route, though. If you want to use it like a regular computer you’ll either have to supply the “peripherals” yourself or pony up separately for a monitor and a keyboard/mouse/video camera packages. (See the photo at the top.) To sweeten the pot the computer comes equiped with several specially skinned version of Linux (designed for differing levels of expertise) and an open source browser, word processor, and spreadsheet.

An all-in-one package—cheap and convenient. And designed to grow a new market segment devoted to its supplier, not just to battle for a group of established users who already have equipment and a provider.

With the coming era of convergence the basic impulse represented by the Neuf Easygate package could easily be extended. Settop DVR boxes are rapidly becoming the standard among digital cable customers. What you have with one of those babies is a hard-drive equiped computer with enough firepower to drive digital video—no mean feat. For a minimal amount more that same computer could be equiped with Linux, a bit more ram, another few cheap I/O interfaces and, presto changeo, you’ve got: ……a Tivo. That’s precisely what TiVo is and with several of the major cable companies having cut deals to put TiVo software on their boxes (including Cox (yes, our Cox) and Comcast) TiVo has already designed cable-box software.

TiVo’s settop box deals are proof of concept: you can marry a Linux computer and a settop box. The final step could be LUS’ to take. Why not liberate the computer side of that sort of box? With special software and the coming wave of new, digital TV’s the screen could be the TV and all you’d need in addition would be an inexpensive wireless keyboard and a the purchase of the internet subscription to be online. Putting your internet computer inside the settop box would sneak internet-capable computers into the maximum number of households possible and lower the barriers to entry to the bare minimum.

It’s hard to think of another strategy more likely to grow the market for LUS’ product–nor one more likely to bridge the digital divide.

Maybe smart marketing and pursuing the common good need not be too far apart.

FLASH! LUS Announces Plans

(Please note: this was first published on April 1st)

LUS has revealed its Fiber to the Home plans!! Daylight savings glitch apparently causes early release of press release.

After a press release dated tomorrow, Monday, 4/2, showed up in PR inboxes across the city calls to LUS and George Graham (from whose office the missive was mailed) confirm its authenticity. The surprise release gives an amazing amount of detail (7 loosely organized pages) about topics the local utility has always deemed “proprietary information.”

Said Huval:

Yes, It’s real…We just decided that since it has become extremely clear that FOI [Freedom of Information] requests that revealed these details were forthcoming we thought, what the heck; just release them. Besides most of this stuff is either obvious or nothing Cox or the phone company can do anything about anyway. Why not let the community know?

Huval declined to elaborate on what was meant by “extremely clear.”

Major points in the release:

  • The initial FTTH network will be gigabit (not 100 megs as previously discussed in the media.)
  • An 802.11n (N!) wireless network will be built alongside the fiber build. Service will be available as an independent purchase but “will be cheaper in the bundle.” “This,” the release says enigmatically, “will be the Digital Divide offering.” (Side note: deploying “N” implies that Tropos will be upgrading their equipment. Presumably LUS knows something we don’t.)
  • Probably associated with the wireless issue: “The CPE [Customer Premise Equipment] will equipped with a wireless node that can act as a repeater.” (I’m not sure I fully understand that but I think I like it.)
  • Confirmation of the widely reported Symmetric Bandwidth feature is given; uploads will as speedy as downloads, making webmasters ecstatic.
  • “Full Intranet Speeds” will be featured. —What Huval calls “peer to peer” speeds. Every customer, regardless of how much they are paying will be able to communicate at the full available speed of Lafayette’s network with any other customer who also has service—usually a large fraction of the gigabit limit. This is also called a “Digital Divide Feature.” (Now you have a reason to buy a new router to replace the 10/100 switch you bought in 2000!)
  • A kitchen sink philosophy prevails: the network will offer POTS (analog phone) and VOIP; Analog and digital cable over dedicated “colors” as well as a full range of IP-based video products. (Legacy services are said to be ” translated in the CPE?”) Three local companies plan to offer “video-enhanced” security products. Related?: “a high-level API for service interoperability will available to entrepreneurs.” (Again, I think I like that.)
  • And NO, they’re still not saying where the build will start. Says Huval: “That really is proprietary. Let ’em guess or sue.”

Extracted from the depths of the seven page, disjointed, pdf:
Video Product News:

  • LUS will purchase membership in both the the traditional small cable video purchasing coop and a similar, emerging, rural telco-oriented coop “insuring a unique range of products.” (As both a phone CLEC and a small, local cable company they apparently meet the membership requirements of both.)
  • An initial offering of nearly 500 cable channels plus “a similar number of IP ‘channel products'” accessible either through the bandwidth product or the cable product menu. (That latter is very interesting and not something I had anticipated.)
  • A discussion with TiVo is in the works for “field trials of a versatile” TiVo-based set top box with “embedded” desktop, browser, and email functions. (Since TiVo is basically a Linux computer, why not go all the way and just let folks use it? That would kill the digital divide computer issue right there.)

Phone News:

  • Video phones will be available from LUS, at no extra charge, when a VOIP plan is purchased due to a “special partnership” with Motorola. (?) It will not work with POTS plans. If your caller does not have video capacity you will be able to use it as a standard phone. (Let’s presume that you can turn off the camera. It’s a cool idea but I bet my wife isn’t the only one to object.)
  • Wifi interoperability is planned. (No mention of cellular interoperability…though that was discussed briefly at the Fiber Forum.)
  • If you take both phone and internet packages you’ll be able to download your voicemail as MP3s and have your email read to you on the phone. “Up to the limits of your tier’s personal space allotment.” What personal space allotment? That is the only place having some online storage a la Google is mentioned. ARRGGH! (The email <--> internet feature makes better sense if the internet component comes with email addresses and the concomitant web space and net interface–as does Cox and BellSouth’s product.)

Internet News:

  • What? You want more news than Gig intranet bandwidth and upload-download symmetry. Greedy you! OK….
  • LUS is planning on implementing IPv6. Mike tells me to be impressed. Consequently, I am.
  • The “Franchise Agreement” (Had forgotten about that? Me too.) will include support for AOC “similar to the current agreement with Cox” and “broadband capacity to support streaming IPTV and VOD functionality within the intranet” as well. (This sounds technical but will sustain AOC’s community functions as the cable model starts to atrophy.)


  • Interoperability: A lot of emphasis throughout the doc is placed on interoperability. The API issue cited near the beginning of this post is part of that as are features pointed out that flash incoming phone calls on the TV, Caller ID, remote login to video recording features, etc.
  • The part on the “Franchise Agreement” mentions support for “Digital Inclusion” (Digital Inclusion is the new “less divisive” phrase for Digital Divide issues. Feel free to roll your eyes.) However, I can’t decipher who will charged with doing this range of tasks.

All very, very interesting — as with any real information it raises more questions than it answers. Stay tuned…..I’m sure this will be even more interesting tomorrow.

To the PDF press release.
Advertiser short