Tuesday, April 22, 2008

AT&T "will not block or degrade [Internet] traffic."

At the metaswitch forum, AT&T VP Joe Weinman was asked about whether AT&T would block internet traffic that they disagreed with. He said: "AT&T is a common carrier. We will not block or degrade traffic."

Is high-definition video really needed?

Is high-definition video really important? Of course, it's important to the vendors of video gear. They don't want you to be satisfied with normal TV-type video.

Most people I know have watched something on Youtube, which gives lower quality than a VHS VCR tape. Everybody I know has watched and enjoyed movies on VHS video tape. VHS is much lower quality than ordinary TV; the bandwidth available to color is pretty low. Everybody I know has enjoyed Television programs. TV quality is much lower than standard DVD.

But HD video is better than a standard DVD. Is it really that great?

The only people who seem to be really excited about it are network folks and storage folks who like to use it to motivate spending on networks and storage. Oh, and the folks at Best Buy who sell display devices like it too.

I'm listening to Joe Weinman of AT&T. He's the "VP Strategic Solutions". He's talking about HD videoconferencing.

He actually did bring up one potential use I *can* imagine: HD videoconferencing with displays in the walls. This is the same as the "Office of the Future" idea espoused in the CS department at UNC-CH.

I'd really like to be able to share a view of my desk with my co-workers or a client. It'd need to be high-def enough to he readable.

On the other hand, would it be almost as good just to share my screen?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Right this way to the "sterile area" of the New Orleans Airport

At the New Orleans Airport, baggage carousel 14, there's a door to the "sterile" or "secure" area of the airport. The baggage-handling employees seem to be using it. It has signs about swiping ID badges.

But there's no apparent ID badge reader on the door. Employees seem to be able to walk right through with no ID. Huh.

Review of "Getting to 'We'", CACM April 2008

Denning and Yaholkovsky wrote a typical not-very-technical CACM article. But it has some interest:

Hierarchy of Working Together. They make these distinctions:

-- Information Sharing (blog, chat, file servers)

-- Coordination: "regulating elements and players for harmonious action" (internet protocols, auction systems)

-- Cooperation: "playing together under the same...rules (including...competition)" (wiki, multiplayer games)

-- Collaboration: "creating solutions...through...synergistic interactions" (Appreciative Inquiry, Brainstorming)

Blegh: "synergistic". Is this biology, or just vague busineeze?

In one trial, students were made to work together on a "wicked problem" involving the environment and security. Their first solution was to "delegate up" to an "infrastructure czar" with some authoritarian power. The teacher rejected this plan, and made students try again.

In the second try, they proposed a competition system, involving referenda, debates, campaigning, and voting. This too was rejected.

Finally the students "collaborated", and developed plans that accounted for concerns of several parties. Punchline: collaboration comes by failure of other plans.

Collboration sequence:

1 Declare the question or issue.

2 Connect: members get together, and explain concerns.

3 Listen to each other.

4 Develop a "we"; i.e. Take ownership of each other's concerns to find answers to all concerns.

5 Create proposals.