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The Outdoor Shoot-Out That Did Not Occur

Today Cisco made an announcement about a very large Wi-Fi Mesh network that is going to be deployed by SingTel and the InfoCom authority of Singapore http://newsroom.cisco.com/dlls/global/asiapac/news/2006/pr_11-29.html?CMP=AFC-001&vs_f=News@Cisco:%20News%20Releases&vs_p=News@Cisco:%20News%20Releases&vs_k=1Rather than reflect on the news, I would like to fast foward 3 years and try to tackle a burning question in the marketplace today: will outdoor Wi-Fi canablize cellular services.My personal belief is absolutely not. We are increasingly moving into an era where the issue the issue is not Cellular or Wi-Fi, but Cellular and Wi-Fi. Fast forward 3 years, and it will be Cellular and Wi-Fi and WiMAX. As devices become smarter, able to move seamless across differ RF and Wired network networks, increasingly being able to deliver seamless, un-interrupted services, we will see these services coexist.Much of the investment going into public, unlicensed services are predicated upon a range of new users for data services. Over time, voice is likely to come as well. Client technology will improve and also contribute to supporting latency sensitive applications.The interesting issue, is that the spectrum, interference, reliability and operations issues are common across these networks. There are benefits and pitfalls of operating at different frequencies (e.g., higher frequency, smaller cell size) as well as if the spectrum is shared or dedicated. To wit, much of the hype around WiMAX is around whether unlicensed WiMAX will take off. For many of the applications being discussed, licensed WiMAX makes more sense. Wi-Fi, to wit, was concieved for a busy environment where users must live with interference within the efforts to share the spectrum established by the standard.One of the myths during the early Internet era was would it kill television. It turned out people consumed more media, not less. Cable is killing network television. It is about choice..What do you think readers? As Mark Twain noted: “Plain question and plain answer make the shortest road out of most perplexities.”

Leaves Falling, Turkey, One Man’s Quest for the Boys of Summer

Here in the U.S. we are easing toward the Thanksgiving Holiday, a traditional meal and gathering at the close of Harvest season. In the Livermore valley, the grape leaves are gold, red and brown, shriveing into to the relatively mild season that passes for winter here in Northern California. U.S. traditions peg the Thanksgiiving holiday to a meal held in 1621 by the Wampanoag and the Pilgrims who settled in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Perhaps a mythic event, it represents the best of what we believe in our nation: that we can share the land, share in our nation’s bounty and respect our neighbors, no matter what color, creed or religous belief they hold.For me, however, Thanksgiving time has one flaw: it the holiday that celebrates the football game (including the backyard football game of my extended family). Now, don’t get me wrong, I love football, but I always wondered why we did not play babeball on Thanksgiving. Baseball is America’s “past-time,” and when Abraham Lincoln declared thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1863 baseball was a well known AMERICAN sport with established teams and rules. An even older sport, football was played in various forms apparently since 600 A.D., with a strong thread running through the British Isles.In addition to my baseball yearnings for Thanksgiving, another great American (and our boss) John Chambers marked a breakthrough event for sports and technology fans, everywhere, with the announcement of Cisco field. In the next few years, the Oakland As will be moving south to Fremont to take residence in what I can only imagine will be the most technologically sophisticated ballpark/stadium in the world. It was a rich table of sport and technology he laid not only for Silicon Valley, but all of the world.The 34,000-seat Cisco Field will feature a wireless network on which fans can use handheld devices to watch instant replays, order food and beverages, communicate with friends, and keep score. Fans will be able to buy tickets online, receive their ticket as a file on a smartphone to show at the gate, and visit kiosks inside the stadium to upgrade their seats. Stadium employees will use other handheld communicators that use radio-frequency identity (RFID) technology to locate and talk to each other.”This is about how we take America’s favorite pastime and enable it for where the future will be,” Chambers at the announcement, accompanied by A’s owner Lewis Wolff, Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig and others. He added that as many as 80 technology applications have been considered for the stadium.Completion of the new stadium, near Cisco’s San Jose headquarters, may be three to five years away. Cisco is also weighing which technology companies it will will partner with to develop the platform for Cisco Field. Similar Cisco technology is deployed at Busch Stadium, the home field of WORLD SERIES CHAMPION baseball’s St. Louis Cardinals in St. Louis, Missouri. http://stlouis.cardinals.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/index.jsp?c_id=stlTechnology, especially wireless technology, is permeating and influencing every aspect of our lives. In John Chambers’ words “consumers are embracing technology in their work and home environments, more now than ever before, and we believe that technology can have a major impact on the fan experience at ballparks as well. Today, there is a certain expectation from fans that new athletic facilities have cutting-edge technology. Cisco and the A’s will be setting new standards in terms of the field and the surrounding village…we can leverage both entertainment and sports to showcase the value of the network to enhance the fan experience.”Now, pass the gravy and stuffing. This thanksgiving we can celebrate, sport, family, community and technology together here in the Bay area.

ROI for Wireless — is it obvious?

Like many people I want to spruce up the house with some new paint when the holidays approach. I had my eye on some”fine European paint” but my husband thinks Benjamin Moore is good enough. I showed him the ROI from the fine paint brochure (better quality paint = improved wear = put it off another year) but he wasn’t convinced. So that got me thinking, are ROI models still relevant in the information age? To this day, manufacturing relies on detailed calculations of the process and materials to understand the impact of investments. An ROI model for an investment mobile access to information, I would suggest is equally compelling, not because it will exactly quantify the delta, but because it demonstrates the scope of the impact. For example, the business impact of using wireless in your manager’s office during the inevitable interruption is certainly positive to you as an individual employee. An ROI model can capture the impact to the organization which can add up. Is the skepticism on ROI models because, like cheap paint, they do not stand up well to the test of time? If you consider the idea of an ROI model for a successful IT investment, say for example, email, it’s a slam dunk. But was it so simple at the time, or did an ROI model provide a useful framework?

In RF Veritas: Wine, Wireless and “Lovers’ Cups”

Recently, I read an article where a Boston Back Bay seafood restaurant’s guests were getting a kick out of the”Wine Skipper”: 12-inch touch screen device with Wi-Fi enabled that is used in conjunction with a hard copy of the restaurant’s wine list. http://www.celebrate-wine.com/50226711/computer_picks_your_wine.phpThe system’s high-speed connection to the internet allows users to access not only the websites of every winery on the list, but also reviews, descriptions and pairing suggestions for every label. The goal was to informationalize the wine selection process for patrons, table-side, including reviews of boutique wineries, including some in my neck of the woods, the Livermore Valley of Northern California. More significantly, it can make any wine layperson sound like Robert Parker through a few taps on a screen.This story made me remember some other “wine and wireless” experiences I have had or noted over the past few years.Although not technically a real-time wireless service, in 2000, Wine.Com launched a channel on the AvantGo Mobile Internet Service. This provided users with a platform to purchase wine during wired or wireless synchronization. It started modestly with several dozen wines from around the world and included tasting notes from noted experts (now, how do I get a job like this). At the time, then Wine.Com CEO Bill Newlands noted this application as an example of how”cutting-edge technology can change the 4,000 year-old wine business.” A few years afterwards, one vineyard owner, Don King, used wireless sensors to coax 30,000 plants to grow grapes of exactly the right color, size and sweetness to produce great ice wine and other fine vintages…with the help of judicious watering, a knowledge of the age-old art of viniculture. The electronic sensors were linked together in a wireless network using an Intel-based TinyOS and TinyDB, allowing the multiple sensing devices to monitor grape micro climates and help determine irrigation and frost patterns. Around the same time, in Washington, D.C., Schneiders of Capitol Hill pioneered the world’s first wireless wine shop with a Phoenix, Ariz.-based restaurant industry interface. TasteNtalk provided the technology to allowe the inventory from Schneider’s 7,500-square-foot wine cellar to be available for buyers with Web-enabled wireless phones. The service has subsequently morphed into a more general online wireless service for restaurant ordering.Last year the IntelliScanner Corporation introduced the Wine Collector 150, a personal handheld barcode scanner with included wine management software for Mac OS X and Windows. By simply scanning the retail bar code found on a bottle of the wine with the USB or Bluetooth wireless IntelliScanner barcode reader, the system then downloads the name, varietal, winery, country, type, color, and region, in a computer database. The technology offering provides: -- Personal wine inventory management:- Access to a 62,000 wine databaseAnd finally, earlier this year, two researchers at the MIT Media Lab have developed a set of Wi-Fi Wine glases that incorporate a variety of coloured LEDs, liquid sensors and wireless (GPRS or Wi-Fi) links into a pair of glass tumblers allowing long-distance sweethearts to share some intimacy with vino even when they are not together in the same room or even the same continent. http://web.media.mit.edu/~jackylee/cups.htm When either person picks up the one of the so-called “lovers’ cups,”red LEDs on their partner’s glass glow gently. And when either puts the glass to their lips, sensors make white LEDs on the rim of the other glass glow brightly, so you can tell when your other half takes a sip. I don’t know about you, but wireless and wine makes me feel warm all over (and that has little to do with the fact that 2.4Ghz is the same frequency as a microwave oven). Time to meander over to the cellar.

Can You Find Me Now?

RFID is in the news again -this time it’s the US government requirement of certain countries to provide citizens with RFID-enabled passports. And of course with it comes the inevitable cries that this creates incredible privacy violations. The concern is that with RFID technology, individuals and their very personal information can be tracked very precisely. While I applaud those that are trying to ensure that our personal information is safe through tight security standards (we don’t need to live through WEP applied to our personal information), tracking someone via the RFID chip in their passport seems a bit ludicrous -I’ll say, even a bit 24-like. Read More »