@TechCrunch article – Internet Bandwidth a time-based issue and not a capacity issue

TechCrunch has a great post about the impact of bandwidth caps for Internet use. The post, which links to an expensive report is available here: 

The Internet Capacity problem is just like the electric energy problem. In the UK customers could install a meter for cheap rate power to charge up storage radiators. 

These ran overnight when there was plenty of power available and then gave out heat during the day. As pointed out in the Techcrunch article, we need to deal with the peak capacity issue and simple bandwidth caps exacerbate rather than alleviate the problem. 

If “cheap rate” bandwidth became popular it might trigger some interesting developments. Imagine an “Internet Storage Radiator” that could go on to the Internet each evening when bandwidth was plentiful and download and cache popular content. This could be based on the browsing patterns of the people typically using the family or small business network. Then with some intelligent proxy serving the pre-loaded content could be served from the “Storage Radiator” with the live Internet connection only being used for real-time content.

With the falling cost of compute power and storage this type of service could be an affordable option. Imagine if the storage radiator would refresh your video queue amd download and store likely new content which would then be available on demand – without taxing the your network connection. This could be an interesting proposition for Netflix since they currently represent probably around 30% of peak time Internet usage. 

Netflix could turn the tide of bad sentiment for their brand through caching

Imagine if Netflix offered a low cost storage hub that you could attach to your network router that cached popular content and offered this in conjunction with a low cost “cached movie plan”. This could be refreshed overnight based upon a member’s queue selections. This could reduce/redistribute network demand and reduce peak demand on their architecture and content delivery network. They might even negotiate more favorable transmission charges with ISPs for this off-peak content transmission.

I can see how Netflix could easily implement the use of this cached content.

There are plenty of opportunities for innovation in this space. We can come up with better solutions that address the real problem – peak hour demand versus network capacity

My #RainbowButton Initiative presentation ( http://2.healthca.mp/s3cylR ) to Baltimore Tech Breakfast this morning

Today I was at the Baltimore Tech Breakfast (11.30.2011). 

I was presenting the work that Alan Viars and I have done since we won a prize at the Health 2.0 Developer’s Challenge in San Francisco.

Rainbow Button aims to build a market place for the donation of health data under the consumer’s control.

Baltimore Tech Breakfast – Presenting #RainbowButton Initiaitive

The regular Baltimore Tech Breakfast took place today at the Emerging Technology Center in Canton, Baltimore. The event is growing in popularity. A strong turnout today (Nov 30, 2011)

The show and tell session kicked off with Bullhorn (@bullhornmobile).  A free iPhone / Android App.

Allow people to ask and answer questions locally. 

The app was launched at the Baltimore Grand Prix. People downloading the app at the event were using it to ask questions relevant to the event. Like where is the best happy hour, where is the best view of the race.

The app can be branded. The team is looking at applications for Universities. e.g. Ask a question on campus.

Voting and Game Mechanics are being built in to the app for the next iteration (end of 2011).


PowerHouse Webcasting

– Live Web Casting (including video)
– Live Management tool (multiple producers)
– Archive/Synchronizer (sync audio and slides)

Impressive cross platform secure webcasting tool

This seems to bring together a number of tools:
– YouTube
– CoveritLive
– Slideshare/Slidecast
– Livestream/UStream

Aiming at corporate clients. 

– On demand (bandwidth based charging)
– Live (subscription – per user)
– Portal

Currently in private Alpha development.

– Consumers don’t need to download any components/drivers. Content producers do need to download.

Q&A – How do we find talent?

– Local Tech Events
– Employee referrals (smart people tend to know smart people)
– Craigslist (cheap and a lot of techies seem to check out craigslist)
– Make yourself interesting by sharing a lot. The good people will find you.
– LinkedIn

“Development is a creative discipline rather than an engineering discipline – technologies come and go”

“The act of building improves the ability to build”

If you outsource overseas – eg. via odesk then be very specific in your request.
Have a series of related questions ready to ask that are relevant to your project. This helps to ensure the response is not just an automated response.

Develop a relationship. Test with short simple projects.

@mikearrington – Inspiring Lifestyle change – Being Less Fat ?? Uncrunched

Liz Welch at Inc. Magazine interviewed me in 2010 as part of her regular ???The Way I Work??? series. I had just moved to Seattle as part of my overall goal of (occasionally) detaching myself Silicon Valley.

In the article I talk about my erratic sleep patterns and my overall weight gain ??? some 50 pounds since I started TechCrunch in 2005.

In the year since I visited a sleep center and began focusing on getting enough sleep at regular hours. After a year of that my life has changed dramatically for the better. But the weight just kept creeping up. In the late summer 2011 I was a good 70 pounds heavier than I was when I started TechCrunch. And probably 90 pounds over my ideal weight.

Basically, I???m fat.

Being fat sucks. I???m not talking about the way I look. I???ve always been fairly comfortable in my own skin. But there are a whole bevy of health issues that fat people have to deal with. You don???t live as long as you should, and your quality of life is diminished substantially.

I???m trying to take control of this issue in my own way, and for the last several weeks I???ve been experimenting with a complete shift in lifestyle. So far, so good. And since a lot of people in our world deal are dealing with weight gain and health issues resulting from sitting in front of a computer for 16 hours a day, I thought I???d share.

The lightbulb went off in my head as I was reading Neal Stephenson???s new book Reamde (buy it here). In the book a character works at his computer from a treadmill, stationary bike or elliptical machine.

That prompted me to research ???treadmill desks??? and read about people???s experiences with them. Some people can???t stick with it, but a lot do. And the benefits are staggering. You???ll burn an extra 150 calories or so per hour. Most people say that they???re significantly more alert during the day, and they sleep much better at night.

So I jumped in. I elected not to buy a $5,000 unit (there are a couple out there), and building one myself seemed like too much trouble. Instead I bought a ???TrekDesk??? on Amazon and a cheap treadmill. I???ve been walking at 1.5 mph for 7-8 hours a day on average over the last few weeks. Some days I???m logging over 15 miles walking.

That???s not all though. I???m also using a Withings wifi scale to track my weight, and I???ve shared it with friends so they can keep an eye on it. The scale itself works great. The software is terrible but it does the job.

The final product I???m using is a Jawbone Up device. It???s a pedometer (very handy), it tracks sleep and it has a vibrating alarm feature to wake me up ??? much like the Lark device that I love so much. The only complaint I have about the Jawbone Up is that it doesn???t track steps very well on a treadmill with my hands up at a keyboard. But from what I can tell all pedometers seem to have this problem.

Things are just getting started. But the fact that I???m sleeping properly and have revamped my diet with my doctor, combined with actually walking miles and miles a day, has already had a profoundly positive effect on me.

I???ll update in a couple of months with any progress. If all goes well, in a year or two my body may have forgiven me for the TechCrunch years. We???ll see.

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Inspiring post from @MikeArrington about how he has changed his lifestyle in order to be healthier and lose excess weight.

We are rooting for you Mike!

Education-Specific HTML to Be Submitted to Search Engines Soon

The LRMI 0.5 spec lets publishers communicate in a page’s HTML things like the competencies taught, the competencies required, the type of educational materials and the typical age range of intended users for anything educational published online. Time required for completion, degree of interactivity and a small number of other ways of describing educational content are included in the spec.

Active participants working to figure out how to construct LRMI and how to integrate it into Schema.org include people from small non-profits like open curriculum community Curriki, corporate education technology giant Pearson, international information standards group Dublin Core and intellectual property law group Creative Commons, among others.

Participants debate on the official mailing list over new terminology, balancing concerns like coherence with Schema.org, ease of input by people who will enter metadata to go with resources being published online and specificity gained or lost by the way that metadata fields are named and framed.

While some semantic technologies are able to assert categorization from the top down, whether content publishers participate or not, it seems likely that the kind of data that will be communicated in LRMI will require informed participation by the producers of the content themselves. Requiring participation in categorization could pose a challenge to hopes the spec will gain meaningful adoption.

The LRMI effort doesn’t seem well-known yet outside its own ranks, either; the official website has almost no inbound links indexed by Google yet and none of the education technology blogs we track here at ReadWriteWeb have mentioned LRMI yet. The project was just announced last month though and in the education market, a month isn’t a very long time.

LRMI isn’t alone though, either. Nathan Angell, a Board Director at the collaborative open education software community Sakai Foundation and a Product Manager at rSmart, calls LRMI “another welcome intervention in growing list of data specifications for education.”

“These days we have access to an unbelievable number of learning resources–both open and proprietary–but it’s still hard to find the right ones, quality resources, suited to your needs, when you need them.

“For example, in the Sakai community, we have built a new platform–the Open Academic Environment–that helps people create and tag learning materials, and most importantly, share them openly by default.

“With the LRMI specification, we can help people tag their materials with exactly the right information that will make them easy for others to find and use…and even better, we can augment the suggested content widgets we already have in place to discover resources in the moment that match the very specific needs of a particular educator or student.”

Angell, who isn’t associated with LRMI in particular, sees data specifications like this as potential game changers. Those suggested content widgets are really shorthand for computation that can begin at a higher level of abstraction if the hard work of content categorization and description has already been done in a standardized way. That means education technology providers, search engines and others don’t have to invest time and energy into understanding educational resources online – they can begin with a pre-existing understanding of that content and then offer higher-level features and services on top of already-organized information.

“LRMI helps set the stage for the hive mind that will help our children’s children learn faster and better than we ever thought possible,” Angel says. “In comparison, school today will look like drawing pictures in the dirt with a stick.”

HealthCare needs to think this way too. Work with the major search engines to introduce a metadata standard for health information.

Baltimore Wordpress Meetup Group – Custom Post Types/Advanced Custom Fields

I am at the Baltimore WordPress Meetup Group. The topic is Custom Post Type and Advanced Custom Fields.

Here is the intro for the session:

Create your own edit screens. Choose from multiple field types. Learn straightforward API functions for use in your themes. Attach custom fields to custom post types. Yay! CMS* made easy. (*CMS= Content Management System). Presenter: Marjorie Roswell

Standard Post Types:

– Posts 
– Pages
– Media
– Revisions
– Navigation Menu Items

Custom Post types allow you to extend these basic post types to meet your own needs.

Advanced Custom Fields:

Create a field group before creating custom fields for the group. Otherwise they may not save.

Display custom fields:

– Custom Post Type Archives handles by theme’s archive.php
– Override this for particular post type in archive-{post-type}.php

Two key entries from the API are used to build a print layout for the archive view. These are:

<?php  get_field(‘{field name}’)  : ?>
<?php the-field(‘{field description}’) : ?>