August 25, 2008

A “White Space” Proponent Profiled [8:08 am]

Sharing Unused Airwaves (pdf)

An engineer, Mark A. McHenry litters his speech with dizzying terms like gigahertz and cognitive radio. But on one topic in the national news he is plain-spoken: the claim by the broadcast networks, the NBCs and CBSs of the world, that a new technology to provide Internet service over the air will interfere with TV viewing.

“They’re wrong,” says McHenry, the chief executive of Shared Spectrum, a Vienna technology company.

[...] “The prototype tests up to this point have consistently shown failure,” said Dennis Wharton, a spokesman for the National Association of Broadcasters. “That doesn’t give us a whole lot of comfort when there’s a potential of thousands or millions of these devices operating without any protection to ensure that our broadcasters are able to get clear picture to our viewers.”

McHenry disagrees. But he also chides the tech giants who are pushing for access to white spaces for not asking for a strong enough signal to make a real difference in rural areas and across long distances. Others find merit in that argument.

“The truth of the matter is, if this were a straight engineering consideration, you could do substantially higher than” what’s being asked for, said Ed Thomas, a former FCC official helping the alliance of tech companies. “This is a political situation as well as the question as to what is comfortable for the FCC.”

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Messing With Developer Infrastructure Conventions [7:49 am]

Problems on the horizon for the iPhone development community? Assuming, that is, they get to form one? IPhone software developers stifled under Apple’s gag order (pdf)

By creating games and other programs for the iPhone, software developers hoped to find millions of new customers. But they didn’t expect to feel muzzled.

The software development kit that Apple Inc. distributed to programmers bound them to not discuss the process of creating programs for the iPhone. Companies typically waive such legal restrictions once the product in question launches, but Apple didn’t. And it won’t say why.

As a result, iPhone developers — and businesses that cater to them — say they are prohibited from asking technical questions or sharing tips anywhere in public. On Apple’s official support website, moderators remind visitors that they are bound by the nondisclosure agreement and should mind what they say or ask.

Conference organizers are trying to figure out how to plan sessions for iPhone software developers when they’re not allowed to talk about iPhone software. Book publishers are sitting on how-to manuals, afraid that if they ship them Apple will sue.

And software developers are forced to make applications for the iPhone in an information vacuum, without the help of a developer community that is used to openly sharing tricks of the trade. [...]

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Ben Stein on Connected Culture [7:32 am]

Everybody’s Business - Connected, Yes, but Hermetically Sealed

[T]he airplane lands. Cellphones and P.D.A.’s snap into action. Long rows of lights light up on tiny little screens. These are people we absolutely have to talk to. Voice messages pour in, telling of children who got speeding tickets, of margin calls, of jobs offered and lost. The bonds of obligation, like handcuffs, are clapped back onto our wrists, and we shuffle off to the servitude of our jobs and our mundane tasks. A circuit is completed: the passengers who were human beings a few moments earlier become part of an immense, all-engulfing machine of communication and control. Human flesh and spirit become plastic and electronic machinery.

What if we didn’t have cellphones or P.D.A.’s? We would still have duties and families and bosses, but they would not be at our heels, yipping at us constantly, barking at us to do this or that or worry about this or that. We would have some moat of time and space around ourselves. Not now.

[...] Will we ever throw away the chains that go “ping” in our pocket? Or have we irrevocably become machines ourselves?

Related: Textwalkers: Do They Need A Heads-Up? (pdf)

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