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Comments from Frankston, Reed, and Friends

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

BobF at 12:42 PM [url]:

Theft of Service?

After getting my latest online bill notification I found myself looking at the Comcast site and not ATTBI (ATT Broadband). I started out with Continental Cablevision at 1.5mbps down and 384kbps. I now find that ATTBI has throttled me to 256kbps up speed and Comcast shows their offering to be 128kbps. As a consolation prize Comcast is offering me 3.5mbps down and 385kbps for $99 vs. $50 month (though my original charge was $40/month).The Comcast site showed no sign of online support and when I finally found a phone number (under support for their telephone service) it was answered "ATTBI". The ATTBI support people say that the ATTBI online support will shift to Comcast at some point so I don't want to be entirely unfair though the URL doesn't work yet.

My real source of anger and frustration comes from today's Boston Globe which touts the new services Comcast will roll out. I call it the Hobson plan after the great Mr. Hobson who offered a choice of lame horses. Comcast (and others) prefer to call it Video on Demand. The idea is that I get my own downstream path and get to choose any content I want. Well, any as long as it's from the choices they select.

It's bad enough that the FCC has continued to grant these self-proclaimed monopolies an exemption from anti-trust. But what is the justification for granting them an exemption from the first amendment? Why can't I choose to use the connectivity to reach the sources of my choice via an IP connection? Given that there is supposedly a glut in backbone capacity, then once I'm past the constraints of the first mile what justification is there for continuing to hold my connection hostage?

The ratio of speeds to vs. from my house has gone from 5:1 to 10:1 while there appears to be increased capacity which is being used to give me more television and less ability to participate and contribute. And the quality of support is being drastically reduced.

It does seem as if I am being given freedom from choice. I don't think this is by intent so much as ignorance. The stories of the natural monopoly coupled with a naive belief that giving us 500 channels is the same as real choice seem to resonate more than the notion of giving us a voice.

The owner of the wire (or fiber) has the ability and incentive to exercise control. If we weren't restricted by the wire things should be much better. The spectrum legacy creates a rationale for restricting speech in what would otherwise be a very open medium.

Monday, February 17, 2003

DanB at 5:36 PM [url]:

Product shown at Demo 2003

I just saw the on-stage demo of a really cool product at Demo 2003: Mok3 abacus from Mok3, Inc. It's an "...image editing tool to rapidly and interactively create photorealistic 3D scenes from 2D images...Rather than develop 3D models from scratch, actual photographs of the scene are used and transformed using an array of tools that introduce depth into the scene and its constituent components." From the quick demo, it looks like you draw on interesting edges on a displayed 2D photo to let the program know where horizontal turns to vertical, etc. The demo was spectacular. The webpage seems to explain it well, and there are sample videos of using the 3D models on the web site. Looking at the web site "about page", much to my surprise and delight, it's a spinoff of MIT's Laboratory for Computer Science -- where Bob, David, and I met.

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