Tag Archives: Robert X. Cringely

Wi-Fi For The Masses

I’ve been working on a story about Wi-Fi for the masses in Asia (it will be appearing in this week’s Far Eastern Economic Review; I’ll post a snippet when it comes online), looking at how Wi-Fi is opening up all sorts of opportunities to leap over the traditional problems of the rural and urban poor in this part of the world: A lack of basic infrastructure, such as roads and phone lines. It’s a great topic with some inspring characters turning talk into action.

As a follow-up, here’s an interesting piece from Robert X. Cringely, who last week pointed out that with an all-in-one router costing about $70 you could become your neighbourhood’s own wireless ISP. This week Robert chronicles (via Applied Abstractions) the things that have happened since he wrote the piece. Those include at least one guy who has, since the article apppeared, followed Robert’s advice and is running an ISP in San Francisco. Good stuff, but it was just the start.

Moments later,” Robert goes on,  ”the Chinese called, and that’s when it became clear to me that this wireless stuff is simply ideal for a high-density, low-income urban culture like that found in China. Throw a wireless router in every Chinese Internet café and you’d bring phone service and Internet to hundreds of thousands of people practically overnight. Add a little mesh networking as described last week, and the number of people served could be increased by an order of magnitude.”

Indeed. There’s a lot of people out there who don’t have computers and don’t have Internet connections. Wi-Fi is the best news for them in years.

Update: Microsoft Deny Bursting

 Here’s Microsoft’s take on the Burst.com case I mentioned in a previous posting. Would the correct version please stand up? In a nutshell it comes down to the question: did Microsoft deliberately erase weeks of emails from all servers and backups related to the case?
 
Winnet.mag quotes a Microsoft spokesman as denying that a judge ordered Microsoft to turn over “missing emails” and said that Burst.com’s account of that part of the trial is inaccurate and groundless. “Their fundamental premise, that there were missing emails from a specific period of time, is simply wrong. [At the hearing, we] discussed a routine discovery issue arising from the fact that not every email sent or received gets saved. [The judge] simply directed us to do a more thorough search of our backup files to search for any emails that, as a matter of business routine, were not saved elsewhere.” This is either spin out of control, or Robert X. Cringely’s version is wrong.

News: Have Microsoft Done It Again?

 An excellent, and damning, article by Robert X. Cringely on Microsoft shenanigans, this time in court over a lawsuit with Burst.com. Read the whole thing: In short, Microsoft appear to have been caught deleting emails that could be evidence. The judge has ordered Microsoft to produce the missing messages.
 
 
Here’s Robert’s conclusion: “What happens next with Microsoft and Burst is interesting. In a few weeks, Microsoft will either find the messages or not. If they do find the messages and produce them, whatever is in those messages becomes part of the case. If they don’t find the messages and the case goes to trial, the judge will tell the jury that Microsoft deliberately withheld and destroyed evidence. Juries are generally unimpressed by such behavior.”
 
From here it looks like Microsoft not playing by the rules to sideline a tiny competitor anxious to sell up. This does not sound unusual. Watch this space. Or more correctly, this space.
 

News: Worms and Blackouts

 Conspiracy theorists reckon the big power blackout in the U.S. Northeast and part of Canada may have been caused by the Blaster worm. Here’s Robert X. Cringely from InfoWorld: “Many plants on the grid run a Windows-based SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) system that receives remote commands through the same RPC (Remote Procedure Call) protocol exploited by MSBlaster. Among other things, SCADA systems control the amount of energy each plant produces.”