California Broadband Task Force reports

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger commissioned the California Broadband Task Force (CBTF) to “remove barriers to broadband access, identify opportunities for increased broadband adoption, and enable the creation and deployment of new advanced communication technologies.”  The Taskforce just published it’s report, saying that better, faster and more available broadband capabilities would propel economic growth for the most populous U.S. state, where 96 percent of households already have access to basic high-speed communications. They suggest the state consider issuing bonds to pay for the broadband build out. Continue reading


viasatEutelsat French satellite operator Eutelsat SA and U.S. equipment provider ViaSat Inc. have formed a partnership intended to make Internet access via satellite more competitive. The goal is to deliver faster, more flexible and less expensive broadband connections than those typically provided by existing satellite or ground-based rivals on both sides of the Atlantic. Continue reading

IPv6 finally coming to root DNS servers

The current IPv4 protocol used on the Internet is running out of the addresses needed to accommodate the growing number of users online.

The American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN), the organization responsible for giving out IP addresses in North America, says that 19 percent of the IPv4 addresses are still available, while 68 percent have been allocated and 13 percent are “unavailable,” whatever that could mean. There are 4.3 billion IPv4 addresses, or 2^32. IPv6 has 2^128 addresses, or 16 billion-billion.

There have been efforts to get more mileage out of IPv4 by using tricks like conversions to IPv6 or using duplicate IPv4 addresses within a firewall. This has helped extend the lifespan of IPv4 but it only prolonged the inevitable.

Until now the biggest obstacle to IPv6 has been the fact that IPv6 address information is not included in most of the root DNS servers that power the Internet. DNS (Domain Name Service) is the Internet service that translates domain names such into the numeric IP (Internet Protocol) addresses such as that are actually used to connect computers on the Internet.

Starting on February 4th, at least one of those adoption barriers will be addressed as records for IPv6 addresses are added to four of the key root DNS servers. The inclusion of the IPv6 records could make the adoption and operation of IPv6 a more viable option for network operators.

Former CTO of the OLTP project describes challenges to providing connectivity in developing nations

In an interview with ACM Queue, Mary Lou Jepsen, former CTO of the One Laptop Per Child (OLTP) project describes some of the technical challenges to providing Internet connectivity in developing nations:

The whole machine is a different class of computing environment, and it’s aimed at a different set of users. You can’t get there by taking a classic office productivity laptop and cost-reducing it.

It’s pretty hot in much of the developing world, so we’ve designed a laptop that can take extreme heat …. half the kids in the world don’t have electricity at home. Half the kids. Eighty percent of the schools that we’re going into don’t have electricity. So we had to design a laptop that was also the infrastructure. It has mesh networking …. solar repeaters and active antennas …. If one laptop in a village is connected to the Internet, they all are.

There’s truly so little power in the developing world. If a school is wired, it tends to be on a generator, and there’s one 60-watt light bulb per classroom. Generators make really weird power. Usually what comes out of the wall in most countries is 50 or 60 hertz, or somewhere in between. With generators, the frequency of the AC power can go down to 35 hertz. We therefore had to do really interesting power conditioning on the AC adapter. The laptop itself can take between negative 32 volts to 40 volts, and work well with anything from 11 to 18 volts. You can plug a car battery into it. You can plug a solar panel into it. A hand crank can produce enough energy to power the battery for some time, as can a bicycle or a windmill. India has this cow-dung system that creates methane that drives a generator. Even that will work.

Via Slashdot

Mozilla Labs starts new project for deeper integration with online services

Chris Beard of Mozilla Labs announced a new project for “deeper integration of the browser with online services.” The goals include:

  • provide a basic set of optional Mozilla-hosted online services
  • ensure that it is easy for people to set up their own services with freely available open standards-based tools
  • provide users with the ability to fully control and customize their online experience, including whether and how their data should be shared with their family, their friends, and third-parties
  • respect individual privacy (e.g. client-side encryption by default with the ability to delegate access rights)
  • leverage existing open standards and propose new ones as needed
  • build a extensible architecture like Firefox

This is an exciting and very necessary development for Mozilla. As personal data storage is moved from the desktop to the Net, client-side encryption is essential for privacy and security. It is inevitable that the companies offering web apps will suffer a shakeout and some will fold. And security breaches are a fact of online life.

I’m looking forward to integrating this into the ISubuntu project.