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Wi-fi on steroids

 by John Moe // Posted: 09/13/10 12:02 PM

The FCC is set to approve use of unlicensed bandwidth for wireless use. Turns out there’s all this room on the spectrum and it can be used to make super powerful wi-fi networks that can cover entire university campuses. Or entire hotels.

The unused bands of spectrum were generated by the conversion of television signals from analog to digital. Because digital transmission uses a smaller slice of spectrum, more “white space” was freed up around each broadcast signal. It is those white spaces that the F.C.C. is now seeking to put to use. The new airwaves are particularly attractive because television signals are low-frequency waves, meaning they can travel farther, go more easily through walls, trees and other obstructions, and provide more reliable connections.

Testing is already under way in Wilmington, NC and Claudville, VA.

But, some people aren’t happy about this. Like Dolly Parton and the National Association of Broadcasters. They want the FCC to make special rules that would prevent TV interference and keep some spectrum reserved for wireless microphones.

Comments | Filed Under: policy  science  mobile  

Microsoft used as tool of repression by Russian government

 by John Moe // Posted: 09/13/10 12:02 PM

A New York Times article got plenty of buzz in tech circles over the weekend. It’s about how the Russian government is using the construct of the Microsoft license agreement to crack down and silence dissenters and activist groups. What happens is the authorities will raid an office or organizing location under the premises of making sure that all copies of Windows are licensed. Then they take the computers belonging to those groups, on which is all their organizing information. Lawyers for Microsoft have said they support the government’s efforts, saying it’s necessary to stop software piracy. But now the company is backtracking, saying they’re concerned about the situation and vow to have closer oversight of legal issues in Russia.

Comments | Filed Under: world  law  privacy  

Phil Davison and the speech that made him famous

 by John Moe // Posted: 09/13/10 10:03 AM

Also, I called him “Paul” on the show. Sorry. Phil.

Comments | Filed Under: Social media  Entertainment  

YouTube Instant

 by John Moe // Posted: 09/10/10 12:24 PM

Yesterday we told you about YouTube Time Machine. Today is another doohickeyization of The Tube. It’s not an official YouTube/Google product but some industrious geeks have created a video version of the Google Instant feature. Just go here, start typing in a word, and you get the most popular search result for the most likely word you’ve formed so far.

I typed in “to” and soon had a Tom & Jerry cartoon showing up. It’s completely pointless and a fun way to spend 10 minutes or so. It goes a lot slower than Google Instant because videos take way longer to load than search results. But still: neato.

Comments | Filed Under: youtube  web  Web Culture  

Google exec says Android not ready for tablets

 by John Moe // Posted: 09/10/10 12:14 PM

This is an under-the-radar story that seems to matter quite a bit. Hugo Barra, director of products for mobile at Google says that the Android operating system as it currently stands is built more for phones than the robust needs of a tablet computer. Essentially, any tablet running Froyo (the latest Android version) would display and run like a huge phone. While newer versions of Android are in the works, there is also a slew of Android tablets being rushed to market to compete with the iPad. So when they get here will they all be as ugly as the director of mobile at Google says they will be?

Comments | Filed Under: mobile  google  android  

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today's show

What will we do with all this "white space"?

09/26/10 11:15 AM

There’s a vote coming up this week in Washington that will have a big impact on how you use the internet, what’s available to you, how much faster you’ll be able to get things online. On Thursday, the FCC is expected to open up unused parts of the broadcast spectrum, a lot of people call it “white space”. This is space that was positioned to be something of a buffer between television stations but such padding is proving less essential since the conversion to digital TV.

On today’s show, we talk to Glenn Fleishman from Wi-Fi Networking News and The Economist about how the spectrum works and what kind of new space we’re talking about. We also check in with Tim Wu from Columbia Law School about the companies that will look to use the space and what it all might mean for you and me as internet consumers.

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