Saturday, January 17, 2009

I'm moving.

After a template change messed up this blogs layout I have decided it is time for a move to Wordpress.

This blog will stay up until the wordpress blog is fully active at which stage I will delete it and setup a re-direct.
Thank you for your attention!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

What did Twitter do for you in 2008?

Like many others that I know I have become a heavy Twitter user in 2008. Honesty requires me to say that I like the structured discussions on Jaiku more but Twitter wins out due to user density.
My twitter use is almost 24/7 and spans my professional & private life. I spew comments, thoughts, observations and questions into the Twitterverse.
There are a lot of ongoing discussions on what Twitters business model is. In my opinion nobody knows and most of us are still feeling our way in the unknown darkness of micro-blogging. For the moment Twitters value is best measured by individual benefits.
So what does it do for me? Does Twitter actually have any real benefit for me?
The best way to measure this is to list what it has added to my day-to-day life & work:

- I have connected to a lot of people that I either never met or never would have met if it wasn't for Twitter.
- I have engaged directly with people that I otherwise would not have had a chance to speak to. Forget 6 degrees of separation, Twitter creates a universe of 1 degree of separation or less.
- Because of one of my Twitter contacts I am now the owner of a horse (with another one to follow). yes, that's right, a real life, non-virtual benefit!
- I have used Twitter as a tool to directly engage with end-users of one of AirAppz's service and have seen others do the same.
- Twitter has made me aware of breaking news long before the traditional media has caught on.
- Twitter DM's have taken over from email as my preferred method of contacting (or pinging) a contact. Replies are much faster.
- And off course I have taken part or followed lots & lots of excellent discussions or exchanges of opinion on Twitter.

Off course there is lots more but the above highlights the most important benefits twitter has had for me.
I would love to hear what benefits Twitter has had to you so please post a comment!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Wifi in hospitals.

Throughout the last few years I have sat in quite a few meetings discussing public wifi access in hospitals. I have also read quite a few reports on this subject. Still there are very few hospitals offering public wifi access to their patients and if they do it is limited to recreation rooms or the likes.
I do not see why. Patients are generally "forcibly" tied the to hospital location. Having Internet access will go a long way to making their stay more enjoyable and productive.
I find it especially lacking that children's' wards do not have this type of access.
I am at the point now where I will install wifi in the first (Irish) children's hospital ward to contact me. For Free!
Yes, they will have to provide their own Internet connectivity but I will supply, install and configure the wifi part at no costs.
So if you work in a children's hospital ward or know someone who does please point them at this post and tell them to contact me.

Update: While I have so far not been contacted by any hospitals I have had some interesting chats about my "initiative" with a few people. While my idea in itself is good and helpfull it would be great if there would be some way of getting a complete "package" together consisting of wifi connectivity, laptops, video conferencing hardware etc. So here's a callout to anyone who can has any contact that work with any of the laptop manufacturers or distributors as well as suppliers of video conferencing facilities etc. Please send them a link to this post or tell them to contact me.
And if you don't have any contacts in those areas you can still help by generating publicity; forward a link to here to your friends, write about it on your blog or Twitter about it!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Happy Christmas!

Inspired by Pat Phelan's generosity I've decided to also get in the Christmas spirit and give away a Christmas gift.
I'm giving away two Buffalo Technology WHR-G54S wifi routers. Not only can you win one for yourself but I will also give one to a primary school of your choice. Schools are generally very badly served in the IT area and this would be a good way to help them a bit.
Now while this router is a great piece of kit in itself we've improved it by flashing the router with DD-WRT firmware.
This firmware gives the router a shot of steroids by greatly enhancing the capabilities:
* 13 languages
* 802.1x Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP)
* Access Restrictions
* Ad Hoc
* Afterburner
* Client Isolation Mode
* Client Mode (supports multiple connected clients)
* DHCP Forwarder (udhcp)
* DHCP Server (udhcp or Dnsmasq)
* DNS Forwarder (Dnsmasq)
* Dynamic DNS (DynDNS, easyDNS, FreeDNS, No-IP, TZO, ZoneEdit, custom, and
* Hotspot Portal (Sputnik Agent ,Chillispot)
* IPv6
* MMC/SD Card Support (hardware modification required)
* ntop Remote Statistic (ntop)
* OpenVPN Client & Server (only in -vpn build of the firmware)
* Port Triggering
* Port Forwarding
* PPTP VPN Server & Client
* QoS Bandwidth Management
* QoS L7 Packet Classifier (l7-filter)
* RFlow
* Routing (BIRD)
* Samba FS Automount
* Syslog
* Rx Antenna
* Tx Antenna
* Show Status of Wireless Clients and WDS with System Uptime/Processor
* Site Survey
* SSH server & client (dropbear)
* Startup, Firewall, and Shutdown scripts (startup script)
* Static DHCP
* Style (Changeable GUI; v.23)
* Supports New Devices (WRT54G V3, V3.1, V4, V5 and WRT54GS V2.1, V3, V4)
* Telnet server & client
* Transmit Power Adjustment (0-251mW, default is 28mW, 100mW is safe)
* UPnP
* WOL (Wake On Lan) (WOL)
* WDS Connection Watchdog
* WDS Repeater Mode
* Wireless MAC Address Cloning
* Wireless MAC Filter
* WMM (Wi-Fi MultiMedia)
* WPA over WDS
* WPA2
* Xbox Kaid (Kai Engine)

Anyway, just post a comment on this post and I will randomly pick one comment next week.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

LeWeb: another disconnected conference...

All the net & web heads of the world seem to have gathered at "Le Web" 09 in Paris. While I think that conferences like this are great for people to meet in realtime and for start-ups to showcase their products I am again disgusted by the reports coming from Paris on the disfunctional wifi at the conference.
Feedback through Twitter indicates that the wifi is more down than up. This is not the first time as the wifi at last years events was innitially just as bad. It is also not the only technology conference with lacking connectivity. TechCrunch had similar problems and it seems to be the norm that working wifi is more a sporadic luxury than an essential service at most conferences.

As a someone who has been working as a wifi provider for nearly 10 years now this disgusts me. It is not rocket science! What's needed is for someone knowledgeable to carry out a site survey and to use the results of this to work out a radio-plan. Take in consideration all possible sources of interference, the network load (i.e. amount of bandwidth needed) and make sure that you implement correct channel management and you should be OK. Coverage area and number of users can just be plugged into this matrix as it is scaleable.
Provide a number off VLAN's for the different access groups (attendees, conference staff, press etc.) and don't forget to add redundancy.
Yes, you need to do some prior planning and preparation but so do all others areas of organising conferences.

What is also amazing is the amounts of money alledgedly paid out for this. Rumour has it that the sum off 100k(euro) changed hands for this years Le Web wifi connectivity. Has anyone ever looked at what this really costs or is it just sponsors money wasted?

I have offered our services to the organisers of these events via Twitter and other channels before (without any feedback) and will do it again. We can provide working wifi at any event at a cost well below the one mentioned above. I will also provide a guarantee that it will work. On top of that I will talk to anyone organising an event and explain to them what to look out for when organising wifi connectivity.

Really people, crappy wifi at a technology event is just a very poor show.....

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

802.11n: Is it alphabet soup?

One of my favorite wireless blogs is "The Ruckus Room" written by Ruckus Wireless's PR guy.
Today he has written a good piece about the problems with the 802.11n standard:
"The biggest problem with 802.11n systems today is lack of consistency of performance. There's no getting around it.

Under certain conditions 802.11n devices yield tremendous performance gains over older .11g/.11a systems (and these are the numbers vendors typically quote), but under a wide variety of conditions that are typically encountered in real world deployments their performance suffers.

Inconsistent performance of .11n is one of the huge unspoken problems in the Wi-Fi industry. No one wants to talk about it since most vendors don’t have adequate means to address the problem."

Read more here.

Flipping the finger to VC money.

Even though it seems that every and all start-ups are chasing the VC dollar it seems that there are good reasons NOT to do so.
Tom Foremski lists 7 reasons not to go looking for VC money and why it makes sense not to do so:

-If you start by selling your concept to potential prospects (rather than stock to VCs), you will either end up with initial customers or a conviction that your idea won't work. Why raise money and then find out which one it will be?

-Raising money takes time away from understanding your market and potential customers. Often more time than it would take to just go sell something to a customer. Let your customers fund your business through product orders.

-Adding VCs to the mix early gives you an additional set of masters you must serve in addition to your customers. It is always hard to serve two masters, especially in a startup.

-With no money you can't make a fatal mistake. This is a blessing. Without VC money, you are forced to figure out how to extract funds from your customers for value you deliver. Ultimately that is the only thing that really matters.

-Money removes spending discipline. If you have the money you will spend it - whether you have figured out your business model and market or not. -Raising VC money determines your exit strategy. You will either sell the business or take it public. What if you end up with a very profitable, modest sized business that you want to just run? That is no longer an option once you raise VC money.

-You sell your precious equity very dearly before you have a proven business model. This is the worst time to raise money from a valuation perspective. I know this is a contrarian view. And some of you are saying that might be fine for a small company.

-Don't forget Dell, HP, Microsoft all originally started without VC funding; you can build a big business with bootstrapping and without VC money.

I can't say I disagree completely with him...

Friday, December 05, 2008

I won't eat my hat (but I might just look up a few recipes...)

I have been openly critical of Enterprise Ireland in the past. However I had a meeting with my EI development advisor last week that was a breath of fresh air.
We sat down and he went trough my business with a fine tooth comb. No punches were pulled and we had a very frank exchange of views.
He pointed out where they could offer me support and how.
He told me how I could (and should) improve the business etc.
In short he did exactly what I would expect from an EI development advisor to do.
I have a feeling that our working relationship will improve greatly!

Codes of practice, slow broadband and fast 3G...

OFCOM has drafted a voluntary Code of Practice for ISP's. This is an excellent innitiative in my opinion and something that we could do with in Ireland. It's mainstay is that ISP's have to communicate clearer to their customers what speeds they will actually be getting for their money. Currently most, if not all, ISP's juggle theoretical speeds to dazzle customers but apart from business users nobody is really getting the speeds advertised. The Code of Practice states:
1. headline or advertised speed - This is the speed that ISPs use to describe the packages that they offer to consumers. They are often described as ‘up to’ speeds but these are often only a guide as to the speed an ISP can provide and at what price.
2. access line speed - This refers to the maximum speed of the data connection between the broadband modem and the local exchange or cable head end. This constitutes the maximum speed a consumer will be able to experience.
3. actual throughput speed - This is the actual speed that a consumer experiences at a particular time when they are connected to the internet. This figure is often dependent on factors such as the ISP’s network, its traffic shaping and management policy, the number of subscribers sharing the network at the same time and the number of people accessing a particular website.
4. average throughput speed – This is an average of actual throughput speed for each different broadband product offered by an ISP.

There's a lot more worth reading. I suggest that you download an copy and email it to your ISP's customer service desk. One fault in the Code is that it only applies to fixed line broadband providers. I think that a similar code for Wireless ISP's is even more needed. The business practices in this part of the industry need even more "streamlining".

Another interesting read is PCMag's survey of broadband speeds in the USA. It gives a good overview of what speeds are being delivered by the different "broadband" technologies:
"In the modern world of Internet service, two things go without saying: Fiber optic service is dramatically faster, and satellite service is substantially slower. Our results support these shocking statements. Among satellite services, including industry leader HughesNet and competitors like WildBlue, SurfSpeeds averaged just 145 kilobits per second (Kbps). Taken as a whole, DSL and cable connections were more than five times as fast. And fiber optic connections, including the well-publicized Verizon FiOS and lesser-known regional carriers like Utah's Mstar and New Mexico's CityLink Fiber, were 152 percent faster than that." However the most surprising bit is that the fastest provider is Surfspeeds with an average speed of just 724 Kbps. Not exactly broadband is it now?!
Anyway, go read the article, it puts everything into perspective.

Lastly here's an blog post about 3G speeds generated in an almost lab environment. Maximum speeds reached where of 5.76 MBit/s. The test were performed on the Hanover exibition ground, where both T-Mobile and Vodafone have upgraded their 3G network and their base station backhaul to support these speeds. It again illustrates the difference between theoretical and actual speeds.

Blog Archive