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March 2009

Comment Spam Round 16

Typepad's Control Panel on E90

FOR NEARLY SIX YEARS and approaching 5000 posts, I've had continuing success when combatting spammers who visit my blog every day. At least 1000 spammers get blocked by Six Apart countermeasuers every day. I can see all those who comment (see above) by flicking open my Nokia E90. I have walked away from my blog for entire weeks without worrying about spam hitting it because Typepad sends me an email to my mobile phone whenever someone makes a comment. I can set up my phone to behave like a Blackberry and let the mail push directly onto the phone like a text message. This means I know within five minutes when someone makes a comment. If I don't like a spammy comment, I can delete the comment with two clicks of my phone's messaging system. This effective countermeasure worked well until today when a spam report came with a hyperlink to an iframe. Something about the structure of the link on the phone's email system contributed to the phone's messaging center freezing up. That's not good.

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Personal ICT Will Decline

August TabletopTALK AROUND IRELAND currently involves how people will cut back in recessionary times. In my position, sitting next to a lot of connected people, I believe I will see fewer people "wearing their ICTs" as they make careful choices and prune back their expenses. The first thing I expect to notice is the diversity of ring tones will change as teens buy a smaller amount of things through their phones. At the upper end of the mobile phone species, both O2 and Vodafone will report a dramatic slowing of new accounts during the next three years. Customer loyalty schemes will take on even greater importance as a result.

I don't expect to see a drop in the number of earbuds walking Irish streets because once you figure out how to rip and carry your playlists, you'll bring your stuff along for the ride. It makes a lot of sense to listen to your stuff whenever you wish and when you can buy fewer tracks, you'll find the dusty parts of your collection to compensate. I'm planning to convert some old phones into MP3 players by using some of the gear in the photo at right.

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Powering the Information Age

Braddock WalkWHENEVER I'M INSIDE the Beltway (the 50 mile blast radius of the White House that incorporates the path I'm walking at left), I know I'm driving where more than 50% of all internet traffic in the US flows. By 2012, Dominion Power estimates that 10% of all electricity it sends to northern Virginia will be used by data centres. In the US, data centre power doubled between 2000 and 2006 and this kind of demand should double again by 2011. Conversations with my data centre brothers brings the issue of brownouts directly to the forefront. Ireland would be well below major contenders as a host for foreign direct investment if local authorities could not guarantee high levels of uninterrupted power. In the years after the current recession, power-hungry industrial parks will need to have their own substations and some will need their own (dirty) generators. On a related note, I wonder if I could recharge an Electric Mini for its annual commute schedule on the same amount of power used to power the servers in the South Tipperary County Council, one of the nodes in my weekday commute schedule.

Sent mail2blog from my Nokia E90 using free wifi services with O2-Typepad at Shannon Airport, Ireland.


Sunday Qik News from Boingo NYC

Sunday Qik Tech Report 29 Mar 09USING AN AUTO-DISCOVERED Boingo hotspot while we took a coffee break in Starbucks, I fired off a Qik news report with just a few items from New York papers, including Obama's live internet video chat [1], the slowdown in production of green tech by Chinese manufacturers [2], Google's Connect Ads [3], and Sony's touchscreen e-book reader [4]. The Obama online meeting resulted in a commitment from the President that he would not legalise and then tax marijuana. I wonder if he'll grow the tax base through some other kind of innovative measure. These four short items are a simple test of Boingo's pricing structure as well as a test of the Nokia E90 working under low light conditions. We should have used a brighter table for our Qik video momemt.

1. Sheryl Gay Stolberg -- "Obama makes history in Live Internet Video Chat" in the National section of the New York Times, 27 Mar 09.

2. Page One Story -- "Slowdown in China's Factories Stymies Entrepreneurs", Wall Street Journal, 27 Mar 09.

3. Jessica Vascellaro -- "Google Aims to Connect Ads for TV, YouTube" in the Technology section of the Wall Street Journal, 27 March 2009.

4. Sony's e-book readers now connect with 500,000 free titles from Google's trawl of the public domain.

Direct link to Qik video:


Thoughts about Mobile Data on Holiday

BEFORE LEAVING FOR a week-long visit to see my ailing mother in the States, I thought it would be prudent to earmark the cost of our airfare as the amount I would spend on accessing the internet while away from Ireland. It looks like that has proven to be a prudent gesture because we are on target to spending just under EUR 700 for the aggregate of data roaming with O2-Ireland, hotel internet access with Lodgenet and sporadic usage with Boingo.

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Power Walk to Sony Reader

Sony PRS700EVERY TIME WE VISIT NYC, I make a power walk to the Sony Center, 550 Madison Avenue, to chat with people who understand the beauty of small yet powerful convergent electronic equipment. Sony stuff works the longest and interconnects the easiest with other products in both the consumer electronics and mobile phone sectors. Part of my focus on my most recent walk through the shop involved the least expensive items (some bags, memory cards, digital frames and the Sony Reader) because I don't have a fat wallet anymore. I like the Sony PRS-700 Reader because it works just like the advertisements say. Its ultraportable form factor fits into my coat pocket, plays my MP3 tracks, shows my photo collections and gives me a tabletop and zoomable view of Acrobat files stored on Moodle, our virtual learning environment. The only thing separating me from purchasing one on the spot (a $300 cash price in NYC) was the cost of accommodation in New York City. We spent more for a nice room--one with a great view--and that meant curtailing my purchases of electronic gadgets. But the PRS-700 is definitely on my Christmas wishlist.

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No Entrepreneurs, No Recovery

Around the TableWHILE AWAY IN THE STATES, I updated my phone's calendar with a scheduled item for the first Thursday of the month--it's OpenCoffee in Limerick and it's an event that puts me in direct chat with more entrepreneurs than any other event in Ireland. The next few events will be difficult to attend because of end-of-semester requirements but I've annotated them nonetheless. When we take students, like those at the left, we point out the message of Carl Schramm, present of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Schramm watches the number of new businesses being formed--typically 700,000 a year in the States. According to the New York Times business section, it's doubtful that the American number will reach half that amount in 2009. Almost all new U.S. jobs created come from firms less than five years old. The same data hold true in Ireland. No entrepreneurs, no recovery.


Yellow-Carded by O2

EUR 498 to O2MY DATA ADDICTION has resulted in O2-Ireland throttling my packet services during my Stateside trip. I got a text that read, "We have restricted your internet usage from your phone due to high data charges. Please call free phone 1909 to discuss these further." There's more at left that probably means I have spent more than EUR 100 in mobile data charges for each of the seven days of our trip to New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware. I wish O2 could text me in hundred euro increments but I also know I should routinely ask my network the amount of my current charges. I can hear the sniggering already from well-read Irish bloggers, some who have accompanied me on trips to Italy, England and Germany where I rang up more than €350 a day on several occasions. It will really hurt if my data charges are north of €2000 for a one-week period. Check my Qikstream for my "Roaming Data Report" on 28 March 2009 if you want to hear the painful cries of mobile data extortion as I explain how data addiction while truly mobile can cost you more per day than a four-star hotel room.

Sent mail2blog using Lodgenet wifi in the Affinia Manhattan Hotel, 371 7th Avenue, New York, NY 10001.


Visiting NYC

FlatironTHERE'S SIMPLY NOT ENOUGH TIME to do all the things we want to do in NYC, mainly because we've discovered some interesting suggestions from nycgo and #nyc on Twitter, listening to the fedoras in front of the Affinia Manhattan hotel, and following our referrers to this weblog who come looking for ideas while walking in New York City. So I'm logging some ideas below for the next trip, in a blog post that pushes references to NYC above the century mark on my blog.

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From Years Ago in a Different Place

MOM'S AILING HEALTH beckoned us back to my birthplace and between sessions with my mother I dug through 29 cubic feet of remnants, uncovering items from years ago. I was in different places since leaving Lancaster County in the 70s but some very intriguing items fell out on the floor while I tried to sort through memories. I tossed some of the things outside on the grass, wondering if any readers want to guess how they could have resulted in my first court appearance. I found leather-bound books--more than 10 stone of them--some from Jeppesen with original flight plans of supersonic runs over Oklahoma and Kansas. A few of my weather-torn maps could tell stories of the irradiated Pacific. Nondescript working notes offer a glimpse at the post-Cold War KGB operatives who literally bugged me while I was caught in a counterintelligence sting. I'm burning a lot of these items because I don't want to explain why I have them. Moreover, I need to cauterise some lost moments forever. Sometimes bill quite nicely.

Sent mail2blog using T-Mobile Typepad service along Route 741 in Pennsylvania.