Future trends

Spit will be worse than spam

Spit (Spam over internet telephony) may be worse than spam, according to this article. As more and more businesses and people make the switch to VoIP telephone services like Vonage, the spammers are gearing up for the mother of all dinnertime sales call efforts. But wherease the Do Not Call list mandated by Congress managed to get those annoying POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) sales calls under control, Spit will be coming from servers in China, Nigeria, and other lawless areas of the globe, beyond the reach of U.S regulators.

Telehealth will support community broadband, lower health costs

Telehealth services are the sleeper when putting together a business model for community broadband projects. Telehealth services, which will be focused primarily towards the elderly but will also provide additional mobility and freedom for those with chronic health conditions, will have a substantial positive impact on the financial health of a community or municipal open services, open access broadband network.

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Is Google Health healthy?

Google has announced its long promised Google Health service, which stores your medical and drug records on Google servers. You get to set your own userid and password, and Google makes a big deal about the high level of security on their servers. But I don't think the biggest privacy concern is from hackers--I think Google CAN keep the servers secure.

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Knowledge Democracy:

Fuel surcharges as a hidden cost of doing business

Look for "fuel surcharges" to rapidly increase the cost of certain kinds of services. Our last Fedex bill included a $10 fuel surcharge on top of the normal $48 delivery charge for a single package. It's hard to imagine, given the volume of packages that Fedex handles, that every package now requires a 20% surcharge.

All your email is spam

A new study indicates that 92% of all email sent in the first quarter of 2008 was spam. In other words, all of us, users and service providers alike, are spending a fortune to haul worthless and contemptible spam traffic across the Internet.

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Is YouTube the new TV?

Recently, when we have had people over to house for dinner or when at someone else's home, I notice that a common topic of discussion is what is showing on YouTube. Everyone has a story about some usually goofy thing they saw recently on the video site. Anecdotally, several people have shared that they often just spend a little time in the evening goofing off on YouTube. This is usually followed by the admission they don't turn on the TV much anymore.

iPhone is an open, multi-service network

With the announcement of the iPhone Software Development Kit (SDK) which allows software developers to write native applications for the iPhone, Apple has also changed another set of rules for the game.

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Apple iPhone SDK rocks phone world

Apple unveiled the long promised SDK (Software Development Kit) for the iphone, along with serious support for business enterprise applications and services, including Cisco VPN (Virtual Private Network) support and Microsoft Active Sync support. The latter is needed to make the iPhone work fully with businesses using Entourage and other Microsoft business applications. The SDK allows developers to write and distribute iPhone native software applications, including games.

The perfect storm for satellite radio

According to this report, the merger of XM and Sirius has stalled, a year after the deal was first announced. It is a perfect storm because you have a combination of FCC confusion, Congressional confusion, silly prices paid for on-air talent, and a bad business model.

Digital photo frames hold more than pictures

Those digital photo frames that are becoming popular hold more than pictures. Millions of them apparently come pre-loaded with a potent virus designed to thwart computer anti-virus programs. The virus is spread from the frame to a computer when the frame is plugged into a USB port.

The virus is difficult to remove, and the article recommends plugging a suspect picture frame into a Linux or Macintosh first to see what is stored in the frame memory (and then deleting it).

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Have we forgotten about the phone?

I continue to be amazed that we seem to be abandoning the phone, which continues to be highly reliable, in favor of email, which is much less reliable.

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Cellphone use disturbs sleep

A carefully designed study of cellphone use indicates that using cellphones within an hour of bedtime disrupts sleep patterns, causing fatigue and other symptoms. The double blind study ensured that participants did not know if they were exposed to cellphone radiation or not, so the results appear to be worth careful consideration. The article found that teens with cellphones were often using the devices just before going to sleep, setting up a long term pattern of restless sleep and chronic fatigue.

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Too connected?

I had just finished up a meeting at a community interested in investing in telecom infrastructure, and before I left the building, I decided to take advantage of the local WiFi to send an email to someone who had been at the meeting but had already left; I wanted to confirm a follow up meeting.

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HD video hits the Web

HD quality streaming video has arrived on the Web. Pajamas Media, a conservative news blog, has posted HD quality video interviews with three of the Republican candidates. The large screen format requires a minimum bandwidth of 1.5 megabits (the equivalent of a T1 connection), compared to the 200-300 kilobits that a YouTube video might try to use.

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Is Blu-ray the new VHS?

This decade's format battle, largely ignored by everyone except the entertainment industry and unmarried nerds with lots of disposable income, has been the fight between the two HD disc formats--HD DVD and Blu-ray. In the past year, the movie studios have been releasing some movies in one format, the other, or both. Normal people have not been interested in buying movies in formats that could disappear in a year or two, so sales have been tepid.

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2007--The Year of Too Much Information

I have been on the 'net since the late 1970s. In the seventies, what passed for the 'net was small groups of bulletin board systems, with the amazing FreeNet and the later FidoNet cobbling together small groups of mostly local users.

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Doom and gloom for 18% growth

There are numerous news reports on the "awful" sales figures coming on from online vendors--it looks like "only" 18% growth for the Christmas season, compared to last year's 27% growth.

Eighteen percent growth is pretty good by any measure, since most retailers would say a good year is one that averages 4-5% growth. Any other business in America would be delirious with 18% growth, but somehow the news media wants to spin this as the world coming to an end.

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Pay phones slowly fade away

AT&T has announced it is dumping all its payphones. The "new" AT&T says they don't make any money. Payphone use has been declining dramatically as the use of cellphones has risen. Oddly enough, Verizon claims it still makes money from pay phones.

Even stranger: AT&T had more payphones in 1902 than it does today.

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Rural America: 40% less costly

Here is an article about how Northrop Grumman is moving jobs to small towns and cities. The company reports that labor savings can be more than 40%--a substantial amount that pays off year after year, and more than covers the initial cost of moving facilities. One of the locations cited is the small Virginia town of Lebanon. Lebanon is a small town located deep in the heart of the Blue Ridge mountains, a good 30 minute drive from the interstate.

Will the Internet run out of capacity?

Here is yet another article proclaiming that the Internet will run out of bandwidth in two years. This article is not all that different than articles I read in 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003, and 2005. I would have to check, but I bet many of them were written around this time of year--the holiday season. Vendors save new product announcements for after the New Year, local projects slow down, and for the next six weeks or so, there is not a lot of technology news.

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