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TELECOM Digest Sun, 13 Nov 2005 18:15:00 EST Volume 24 : Issue 517 Inside This Issue: Editor: Patrick A. Townson Getting the 411 on 911 Service (Aoife M. McEvoy) Moving Your Phone Number to VOIP (PC World RSS Feed) Expedia Pricing Error Irks Several Users (Kyle Peterson) Spinners and Bloggers: Political Communication in Digital Age (M Solomon) And the Emmy for Best Actor on iPods Goes to ... (Monty Solomon) For 'CSI,' Press A1 (Monty Solomon) Comcast, Verizon Wage Licensing War/Towns in Cable Crossfire (M Solomon) Crunching Metadata/What Google Print Tells Us About Books (Monty Solomon) Most Viewers are in Dark About Digital Television (Monty Solomon) NYC Taxis Prepare to go Wireless With a Backseat Upgrade (Monty Solomon) Re: MIT's 5ESS: (was: NNO Central Office Codes) (Tony P.) Re: MIT's 5ESS: (was: NN0 Central Office Codes) (Garrett Wollman) Re: Can You Still Build a PC For Less? (Thomas A. Horsley) Re: "Soft Dial Tone" on Unused Lines (Michael Chance) Re: Replacement for Siemens Gigaset (CharlesH) Re: If You Want to Get Away From ICANN Oversight; Registrars (Dave Garland) Re: Infone to Shut Down (DevilsPGD) Online Small-Scale POSTAL Mailing Firms? (AES) Telecom and VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) Digest for the Internet. All contents here are copyrighted by Patrick Townson and the individual writers/correspondents. Articles may be used in other journals or newsgroups, provided the writer's name and the Digest are included in the fair use quote. By using -any name or email address- included herein for -any- reason other than responding to an article herein, you agree to pay a hundred dollars to the recipients of the email. =========================== Addresses herein are not to be added to any mailing list, nor to be sold or given away without explicit written consent. Chain letters, viruses, porn, spam, and miscellaneous junk are definitely unwelcome. We must fight spam for the same reason we fight crime: not because we are naive enough to believe that we will ever stamp it out, but because we do not want the kind of world that results when no one stands against crime. Geoffrey Welsh =========================== See the bottom of this issue for subscription and archive details and the name of our lawyer; other stuff of interest. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- From: Aoife M. McEvoy <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Getting the 411 on 911 Service Date: Sat, 12 Nov 2005 17:40:39 -0600 Net Phone Zone Senior Editor Aoife M. McEvoy explores the exciting new world of Internet telephony, from hardware and services to government policy. The 411 on 911 Access to 911 emergency services is one of the most controversial issues in VoIP today. Here's what it's all about -- and what it means for you. I hope I never have to dial 911. I hope you never have to, either. However, in emergency situations, you'd like to know that the first phone you grab -- no matter where you are -- allows you to dial 911 without any problems. In the case of a traditional landline phone, in which the phone number is tied to a physical location, you're hooked up to the national 911 network. When you dial 911, your call is automatically routed to emergency response personnel at your local PSAP (Public Service Answering Point or Public Safety Answering Point). In most areas of the country (exceptions include remote parts of Alaska), the dispatcher who picks up your call also sees your phone number and street address pop up on screen. This "location technology" is known as Enhanced 911 or E911. When it comes to Voice-over-IP phone services, though, it's a very different (and scary) story. For one thing, your VoIP phone number does not have to correlate with the area where you live. As long as the area code is available, Jane Doe in San Francisco, for instance, can sign up for a Miami Beach-based area code. These so-called nomadic or out-of-region phone numbers can wreak havoc with the 911 system; the last thing you'd want is for your emergency call in California to get routed to the east coast. Also, 911 dialing on a VoIP service is not usually set up by default. To make it happen, you need to register your street address with your VoIP provider. This involves filling out a form on the company's site. Right now, if you dial 911 using a service such as Primus Telecommunications' Lingo, which doesn't offer E911, you're tapping into a workaround for emergency service: Your call goes to an administrative telephone line at the PSAP in your area, which is more like a switchboard of sorts. The operator or receptionist who picks up your call may or may not be a trained emergency agent; this operator cannot see your street address, and may not even see your number, so you have to relay this information verbally -- wasting precious, precious time. (Let's not even think about an emergency situation in which you can't speak.) Based on the information you provide, the operator then handles the dispatch portion by contacting the appropriate public service agency, such as the fire department, the police, and so on. After normal business hours, the situation can be even more troubling: Depending on where you live, your 911 call may end up at the switchboard or an answering machine at your local sheriff's office. And you know the drill: "Thank you for calling. Our offices are now closed. If this is an emergency, please hang up and dial 911." With Verizon's VoiceWing plan, for example, which offers limited 911 access, the company clearly states that in some areas of the country, your 911 call may simply not go through. Of the ten VoIP companies I looked at -- most of them offering nationwide service -- only America Online and 8x8 offer E911 service -- meaning that when subscribers dial 911, their phone number and physical address appear on the screen of the operator answering the call. AOL offers E911 for free, but 8x8 charges you for the privilege: $10 to activate E911 service and a $1.50 monthly fee. With AT&T's CallVantage VoIP service, you might get E911 at no charge, but this depends on where you live; otherwise, you will have access to the typical 911 workaround. Vonage, meanwhile, has rolled out a free trial version of E911 service for customers in Rhode Island. All this is about to change thanks to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission's recent approval of regulations that require all VoIP providers to offer E911 service by the end of the year. Once the new rules are published in the Federal Register, which should happen by mid-July, VoIP providers will have 120 days to deliver the goods, so VoIP customers should have E911 available by October or November. For more details, read "FCC Requires VoIP Providers to Offer E911 Service." Behind the Scenes The FCC's mandate is great news for VoIP users -- peace of mind, at last. You may already know about some of the tragedies that have unfolded as a result of VoIP's 911 shortcomings. In these terrible life-or-death situations, people were unable to dial 911 from their home phones. Instead they were forced to rush out to neighbors' houses to make the calls. And in the case of an emergency involving an infant girl in Deltona, Florida, it was too late. In my opinion, the FCC's action is long overdue. Sure, the new requirements will help prevent future tragedies, but it's a shame that families had to suffer because of VoIP's known failings before something was done. These limitations have been well documented for quite a while. While most of us rejoice about the FCC's action, VoIP players have their work cut out for them. Because VoIP calls are not routed through the conventional phone system, service providers need to find a way to connect calls to the national 911 network, which is controlled by the local telephone companies around the country, including BellSouth, Qwest, SBC, and Verizon. So how are VoIP providers going to comply with the FCC's mandate? In the case of the bigger companies with VoIP offerings, like Verizon and AT&T, it's not such a tall order: These companies already have infrastructures in place. Other VoIP companies will choose to work with the local phone companies, competing communications carriers like Level 3 Communications, or third-party systems such as Intrado. For example, Level 3 provides the behind-the-scenes infrastructure for 8x8 and AOL that enables the two companies to offer E911 capability (among other services) to their customers. In the past, as far as I can tell, some of the Baby Bells have been reluctant to allow VoIP companies -- essentially direct competitors -- access to their infrastructures. That's changing, bit by bit. For example, Vonage recently bought access to BellSouth's, SBC's, and Verizon's networks. And SunRocket got a head start on planning for E911 by working with competitors of the Baby Bells, including Global Crossing, for instance, to obtain access to local 911 infrastructures. Whether VoIP providers work with local phone companies or competitors to link to the 911 infrastructures, there is potential for trouble -- which isn't good news for consumers. "The difficulty would be in the integration between the VoIP providers' systems and these [infrastructure] links, and the testing to make sure that it all works as expected," says John Muleta, former chief of the FCC's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau and currently group co-chairman at Venable Communications. Of course, such testing will be critical before E911 is rolled out -- one huge thing that VoIP providers will face as they brace themselves for the FCC's deadline. Muleta knows firsthand about these things: During his tenure at the FCC, Muleta was responsible for ensuring that wireless carriers offer 911 services. The FCC requires the Baby Bells to grant 911 system access to direct landline competitors -- companies such as Global Crossing or Level 3, for example -- but does not require the Baby Bells to offer similar access to VoIP providers; nor does it put any limits on what they can charge for such access. So essentially, the FCC is making demands on the VoIP companies to get their E911 act together, but isn't giving them any assistance. Consequently, complying with the FCC's ruling is likely to be a huge financial undertaking for any VoIP company, and it's possible that some of the smaller providers will disappear -- or services that are in development now may not see the light of day. The New Ruling and You As of this writing, the compliance deadline is several months away. Only a handful of companies I contacted had details on their E911 rollout plans; most of them indicated that they would not charge for the service. 8x8 said that it will probably continue to charge its Packet8 subscribers, but the company did not have specifics at this point. BroadVoice expects to implement 911 in stages across its coverage area, and it hopes to meet or beat the FCC's deadline. The company is currently testing E911 services in some areas. And BroadVoice reports that it will have to charge customers for E911, when the time comes. Brooke Schulz, senior vice president of communications and government affairs at Vonage, says that the company hopes to have E911 available to the majority of its customers by the end of the year--as long as it has the necessary access to the Baby Bells' 911 systems. "If our current agreements with Verizon, SBC, and BellSouth fall apart, we will need to seek regulatory help in gaining access to those networks," adds Schulz. In addition to E911 availability in Rhode Island, Vonage plans to roll out the service in New York City in July. 8x8 expects to have 90 percent of its customers covered by the end of the year. SunRocket is ahead of the rest of the pack. The company says that it plans to provide E911 service to customers in its territories within 30 days of the FCC's original ruling -- it isn't waiting for the actual publication date. The company also says that it no longer sells any VoIP numbers that cannot be mapped to a physical address. In addition, SunRocket will stop offering nomadic numbers, reports spokesperson Brian Lustig. Once your VoIP provider offers E911, as with the workaround 911 process, it's not something that happens automatically. You will still need to activate the service by registering your street address with your VoIP provider. If you move or if you take your VoIP hardware with you to a temporary location, you need to go to the company's site and update your street address. Later this month, Vonage plans to offer new customers the chance to turn on 911 service while they're signing up for a calling plan. Currently, 911 activation is a separate thing; you have to turn it on after you've signed up for service. If you already have a VoIP service and are anxious about the lack of proper 911 service, the October-November deadline for compliance with the FCC's new regulations may certainly feel like a long way off. If you still have a landline up and running, then at least you have a backup phone system. If your VoIP phone is your only fixed line, there are a couple of things you can do to help prepare yourself for a worst-case scenario: a.. Make sure that your VoIP provider has your current street address. b.. Find the phone numbers for your local police department, fire department, and hospital emergency room, and program them into your VoIP phone (if feasible) and your cell phone. Better yet, set them as speed dial numbers if your phone has this function. E911 for VoIP services is all very well, but remember that if you're in the middle of a power outage or your broadband connection goes on the blink, you can't dial 911 or any other phone number. Period. To get around the power loss, you can plug your telephony adapter and broadband modem and/or router into a universal power supply -- and that will keep the juice going for a little while. But if your DSL or cable service fails, you're seriously out of luck. That's often enough of a reason to cling to a landline service and your old analog phone. Copyright 2005 PC World. NOTE: For more telecom/internet/networking/computer news from the daily media, check out our feature 'Telecom Digest Extra' each day at http://telecom-digest.org/td-extra/more-news.html . Hundreds of new articles daily. *** FAIR USE NOTICE. This message contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. This Internet discussion group is making it available without profit to group members who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information in their efforts to advance the understanding of literary, educational, political, and economic issues, for non-profit research and educational purposes only. I believe that this constitutes a 'fair use' of the copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Law. If you wish to use this copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use,' you must obtain permission from the copyright owner, in this instance, PC World. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml ------------------------------ From: PC World Communications RSS Feed <email@example.com> Subject: Moving to VOIP But Keeping Same Phone Number Date: Sat, 12 Nov 2005 17:41:35 -0600 PC World Changing cell phone companies? You can keep your number. Changing local phone companies? Same deal. Switching over to Internet phone service? Well ... Over the last several years, consumers have become accustomed to retaining control of their phone numbers -- specifically, being able to transfer them when switching cellular or local landline services. But the situation is less clear for relatively new Voice-over-IP services. The Federal Communications Commission has yet to decide whether and how number portability -- be it to or from a landline service, a cell phone service, or another VoIP service -- and other telecom regulations should apply to VoIP. Meanwhile, some of those consumers who venture into the brave new world of Internet phone service are discovering that even when no one challenges their right to hold on to a phone number that they've had for years, red tape can make implementing a transfer much more time-consuming than they expected. Jerry Gerlach, technology director for the town of Biddeford, Maine, says that while he's happy with his Vonage VoIP service, he was frustrated that it took more than four months for Vonage to transfer his phone number of 13 years from his previous VoIP provider, Time Warner. (Time Warner took only a few hours to get the number from Gerlach's landline service in 2001.) Gerlach says that he became "fairly aggressive" after two months, going so far as to track down a Vonage vice president's e-mail address and to file an online complaint with the FCC. He says a Vonage official finally told him the problem was the company's lack of a number-transfer agreement with Time Warner. (A Vonage spokesperson said the company doesn't comment on these agreements.) Why are transfers so problematic? Stand-alone VoIP firms such as Vonage must partner with traditional landline carriers to give customers any phone number -- new or existing. To transfer an existing number, a VoIP company must also possess an interconnection agreement, which spells out how a transfer will be handled, with the phone company that has been servicing the number. Then the VoIP company's landline partner can arrange the transfer. The customer is usually not even aware of these arrangements, but they can seriously prolong the transfer process. Sound complicated? It is. "It's a complex industry," says AT&T CallVantage spokesperson Gary Morgenstern. Even AT&T, which can offer its VoIP customers phone numbers from its own huge pool, is limited in its ability to provide number portability. The company still lacks the interconnection agreements necessary to transfer cell phone numbers, Morgenstern says. The good news is that if the agreements are already in place, transferring your phone number to VoIP service can be speedy and smooth. For instance, two other Vonage customers, Dan Bahr of Bellport, New York, and John Painter of Lewiston, Maine, both say that their transfers took less than the 20 days Vonage estimated for the process. However, both men transferred their phone numbers from Verizon, which has an agreement with Vonage. If you're thinking of taking the Internet-phone plunge and you want to retain your current number, you can do a few things to help smooth the transition. For starters, contact your prospective VoIP service (see our September review, " Net Phones Grow Up ," for suggestions) and ask whether it has an agreement with your current phone company. If it doesn't, you might want to wait until it does -- or shop around for a different company that has an agreement. Also, be very careful when filling out any forms: Even making a simple mistake like transposing two letters in the name of your street could stop the whole process and force you to start from scratch. Copyright 2005 PC World Communications, Inc. All rights reserved NOTE: For more telecom/internet/networking/computer news from the daily media, check out our feature 'Telecom Digest Extra' each day at http://telecom-digest.org/td-extra/more-news.html . Hundreds of new articles daily. *** FAIR USE NOTICE. This message contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. This Internet discussion group is making it available without profit to group members who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information in their efforts to advance the understanding of literary, educational, political, and economic issues, for non-profit research and educational purposes only. I believe that this constitutes a 'fair use' of the copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Law. If you wish to use this copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use,' you must obtain permission from the copyright owner, in this instance, PC World Communications, Inc. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml ------------------------------ From: Kyle Peterson <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Expedia Hotel Pricing Error Irks Some Travelers Date: Sat, 12 Nov 2005 19:01:57 -0600 By Kyle Peterson Online travel agency Expedia.com said a glitch last week allowed some travelers to book hotel stays in Japan at stunningly low prices and that only some of these reservations would be honored. Expedia.com, run by Expedia Inc., posted incorrect prices for two Hilton International hotels in Japan. Some customers reported prices as low as $2 a night. The agency blamed the mix-up on an "isolated processing incident" at Hilton. A hotel spokeswoman described it as a "technical glitch" on Hilton's side. Expedia said on Friday that Hilton would honor some of these bookings and that other customers would get a $250 coupon for a package trip to Japan. The company also said it notified some customers offering to confirm the original booking at the correct price or cancel the booking with a full refund. Randall Besta, who had booked stays for 11 nights in Tokyo and Osaka next year, said that option was unacceptable. The 43-year-old Toronto marketing consultant had already booked flights for himself and a friend to Tokyo. He said he has received confirmation from Hilton saying the rate would be honored but that Expedia told him the rate was incorrect. Besta said he would think twice before booking on Expedia again. "If they come clean on this, then yes," said Besta, who booked his rooms for $3.48 a night. Expedia said that bookings for this month would be honored at the quoted price. But later bookings would be canceled at Hilton's request. The exception is for package deals booked on Expedia. Those also will be honored. Expedia said it was offering customers who booked rooms at the wrong rate a $250 coupon for a package trip to Japan booked prior to December 31, 2005. Travel must be completed by December 31, 2006. Bill Scannell, who plans to fly with his family to Osaka, Japan, next year, said Expedia agreed to honor his booking after he called several times to complain. "You can't weasel out of something like this," said Scannell, a 41-year-old publicist in Washington. "With travel you make plans. You buy tickets. I've been busy mapping out frequent fliers to get my family there." He said he had been considered legal action if his September 7-20, 2006, reservation at a Hilton in Osaka was not kept at the price he was promised. Scannell booked the room on November 4 for a total of $46.57. Expedia later told him the correct figure was $2,079.57. Expedia said one reason it was canceling the bookings was to prevent people from reselling the cheap bookings to travelers at higher prices. Expedia bookings are nontransferable. Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited. NOTE: For more telecom/internet/networking/computer news from the daily media, check out our feature 'Telecom Digest Extra' each day at http://telecom-digest.org/td-extra/more-news.html . Hundreds of new articles daily. ------------------------------ Date: Sun, 13 Nov 2005 10:52:15 -0500 From: Monty Solomon <email@example.com> Subject: Spinners and Bloggers: Political Communications in Digital Age Abstract For decades, perhaps for as long as independent newspapers have existed, political operatives have used "spin" to shape the way the news media respond to candidates and their policies. Spin can be understood as a kind of top-down power that depends on the social network linking political leaders and the news media. Some have argued that weblogs or blogs have emerged in recent years to disrupt this culture of spin. They see blogging as a grassroots movement that also tries to shape or control public perceptions of important events and issues. Others have claimed that the blogosphere has merely enhanced the influence of traditional interest groups, giving ideologues of the left and the right even more power to "spin" the world as they wish to see it. How can we understand the interplay between spin and blogs? How do each shape, some would say manipulate public opinion? How are each subject to abuse? Is the culture of spin and blogging contributing to the polarization of American political discourse? http://web.mit.edu/comm-forum/forums/spinners_bloggers.htm http://web.mit.edu/smcs/commforum/mit-comm-forum-20oct2005-16k.ram ------------------------------ Date: Sun, 13 Nov 2005 11:31:06 -0500 From: Monty Solomon <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: And the Emmy for Best Actor on iPods Goes to ... By LAURA M. HOLSON LOS ANGELES, Nov. 11 - The newest award in broadcasting excellence gives new meaning to the line Gloria Swanson made famous in "Sunset Boulevard": "I am big. It's the pictures that got small." The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, best known for handing out the Daytime Emmy Awards, is expected to announce on Tuesday that it has created an award category to recognize original video content for computers, cellphones and other hand-held devices, like the video iPod and PlayStation Portable. The category is to have its debut at the academy's next Sports Emmys presentation, and ultimately be added as a category for other Emmy presentations as well, including those for news and documentary, business and financial reporting and daytime television. The category will not be included in the prime-time Emmy Awards, which are overseen by a sister organization. The academy already hands out a technical achievement award for new media. But this will be the first time the group has recognized original content for cellphones and other devices, which have gained some acceptance among media-hungry consumers. Already several studios are experimenting with creating serials for mobile phones, many derived from programs already shown on television. The academy hopes the new category will draw attention to a rapidly growing business that is expected to expand even more as consumers, largely teenagers, adopt new technology quickly. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/11/technology/11emmy.html?ex=1289365200&en=aa8fc522cba9d24a&ei=5090 ------------------------------ Date: Sun, 13 Nov 2005 11:53:15 -0500 From: Monty Solomon <email@example.com> Subject: For 'CSI,' Press A1 By RICHARD SIKLOS and GERALDINE FABRIKANT Don't touch that dial. A video-on-demand venture that CBS announced this week was just one part of an urgent plan by the nation's most watched television network to prove to investors that a media company built around broadcast television has legs in the digital world. Most radically, Leslie Moonves, the chairman of CBS, is also pursuing a strategy that is sure to stir up cable and satellite operators: pushing to charge them for access to CBS, as they do for cable networks like TBS and USA Networks. He is also creating spin-off channels and expanding the network's presence on the Internet. On Tuesday, CBS and the Comcast Corporation, the nation's largest cable operator, unveiled a plan to sell reruns of four top CBS shows -- including "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" and "Survivor" -- within hours of their broadcast. The shows will cost 99 cents each, and will be available in areas where CBS owns TV stations and Comcast provides digital cable. The deal bears some similarity to recent agreements NBC and ABC have struck with DirecTV and Apple Computer. All are meant to adapt the business model of a broadcast television network to changing technologies and viewer habits, and find additional ways to be paid, beyond the advertising that has been broadcasting's sole source of revenue. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/12/business/media/12television.html?ex=1289451600&en=d3f5a48dda50055d&ei=5088 ------------------------------ From: Monty Solomon <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Comcast, Verizon Wage Licensing War / Towns Caught in Cable Crossfire Date: Sun, 13 Nov 2005 14:52:54 -0500 By Keith Reed, Globe Staff | October 30, 2005 Comcast Corp. wants to make sure Verizon Communications Inc. hears its message: The cable giant is not about to cede its prized turf to the phone company quietly. Comcast earlier this month sent letters to about 20 municipalities in Massachusetts warning them it expects Verizon to be held to the same terms spelled out in its contract with those communities. Verizon is getting into the lucrative cable business and could pose to a big threat to Comcast if its service gains a foothold. In one letter, a copy of which was obtained by the Globe, Comcast reminded Winchester's board of selectmen of a clause in its cable license that guarantees a 'level playing field' with a newer competitor; that is, Verizon or any other competitors' licenses should be similar, if not identical, to Comcast's, or Comcast would be put at a disadvantage. Already one Massachusetts community has inked different terms with Verizon. Early this month, Woburn granted Verizon a cable license but gave the phone company an escape clause that the city does not have in its contract with Comcast. The cable company worries that the Woburn deal will set a precedent that will allow communities to negotiate all manner of special deals with Verizon. Comcast spokeswoman Shawn Feddeman said the letter to the other Massachusetts communities reinforces 'our expectation that any new provider seeking a video license should operate under the same set of rules as Comcast.' Comcast acknowledged that it cannot stop Verizon from becoming a competitor. Moreover, communities generally cannot refuse to license any new cable competitor unless they have some compelling reason. But Woburn gave Verizon a clause allowing the phone company to pull out after three years if it decides it doesn't have enough video customers. Comcast has complained that the clause is unfair because its licenses don't include the same escape provision. Mayor John Curran acknowledged Woburn's other licensed cable firms -- Comcast and RCN -- don't have such a clause, but said it isn't a big deal. http://www.boston.com/business/technology/articles/2005/10/30/ comcast_verizon_wage_a_licensing_war/ http://tinyurl.com/anfp8 ------------------------------ Date: Sun, 13 Nov 2005 16:20:05 -0500 From: Monty Solomon <email@example.com> Subject: Crunching Metadata/What Google Print Tells us About Future of Books By David Weinberger IN RECENT MONTHS, we've heard that Google is digitizing the libraries of several major universities and making the text searchable through its Google Print search engine-bringing cries of copyright infringement from publishers and author groups. Meanwhile, Microsoft says it will provide online access to 100,000 books in the British Library, and Amazon, which already sells digital versions of books, will soon sell individual chapters, too. But despite the present focus on who owns the digitized content of books, the more critical battle for readers will be over how we manage the information about that content-information that's known technically as metadata. We've been managing book metadata basically the same way since Callimachus cataloged the 400,000 scrolls in the Alexandrian Library at the turn of the third century BC. Callimachus listed the library's contents on scrolls, Medieval librarians used ledgers, and we use card catalogs, now mostly electronic. But until information started moving online, the basic strategy has been the same: Arrange the books one way on the shelves, physically separate the metadata from them, and arrange the metadata in convenient ways. This technique works so well for organizing physical books that we've long overlooked its basic limitation: Because books and their metadata have, until recently, been physical objects, we've had to pick one and only one way to order them in defined, stable ways. When Melvil Dewey introduced the Dewey decimal classification system in 1876, it was an advance because it shelved books by topic, making the library's floor plan into a browsable representation of the order of knowledge itself. But no one classification can represent everyone's way of organizing the world. You may file a field guide to the birds under natural history, while someone else files it under great examples of the illustrative art and I file it under good eating. The digital world makes it possible for the first time to escape this limitation. Publishers, libraries, even readers can potentially create as many classification schemes as we want. But to do this, we'll need two things. http://www.boston.com/business/technology/articles/2005/11/13/crunching_the_metadata/ ------------------------------ Date: Sun, 13 Nov 2005 16:37:59 -0500 From: Monty Solomon <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Most Viewers Are in the Dark About the Future of Digital TV By Bruce Mohl, Globe Staff As the nation prepares to make the leap to digital television, Congress is trying to decide how many billions of dollars it's going to spend to make sure no TV viewer gets left behind. Unbeknownst to most Americans, TV stations across America currently broadcast shows in both digital and analog formats. Roughly three years from now, Congress intends to shut off the analog signals and complete the transition to digital TV, which offers the potential for much sharper pictures, more programming options, and interactive services. But not everyone is ready to make the jump. Americans own an estimated 70 million TV sets that rely on free over-the-air analog signals. Without converter boxes that are expected to cost $60 apiece, those sets will go dark when the analog signals are shut off. Those converter boxes will add up. So here's the billion-dollar question: Is this government-mandated transition to digital TV the equivalent of an eminent domain taking? By shutting off the analog signals, is the government required to pay for the converter boxes that will allow analog TVs to keep working? The House has proposed paying a portion of the cost, setting aside $830 million to subsidize the purchase of converter boxes, plus another $160 million to administer the subsidy program. The Senate is willing to go further, budgeting nearly $3 billion for subsidies and administrative expenses. The branches are trying to reconcile their numbers. http://www.boston.com/business/globe/articles/2005/11/13/most_viewers_are_in_the_dark_about_the_future_of_digital_tv/ ------------------------------ Date: Sun, 13 Nov 2005 16:42:44 -0500 From: Monty Solomon <email@example.com> Subject: NYC Taxis Prepare to go Wireless, With a Back-Seat Upgrade By Lisa Kassenaar, Bloomberg News NEW YORK -- For those who hate battling for a taxi on a crowded New York corner and then fumbling for the fare, relief may be just around the corner. The city's 12,766 yellow cabs are scheduled to get wireless connections next year that will track drivers and help alert them to waiting customers. Riders will be able to pay by credit card, to check flight data, or to buy movie tickets. The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, after gathering ideas from 70 companies, such as Bank of America Corp. and Sprint Nextel Corp., may announce this month the companies selected to add the services. "This will bring a dinosaur industry into the 21st century," said Michael Levine, owner of Ronart Leasing Corp., a taxi company based in Queens that has 350 cars, and that Levine's grandfather started in 1937. "It's about time something happened." Yellow cabs, the only taxis in the biggest US city allowed to pick up people who flag them down, carry 238 million passengers a year and bring in about $1.5 billion. In Manhattan, where people in three of four households do not own a car, cabs carry babies home from hospitals, move furniture, and shuffle visitors between appointments. The link from taxis to cellular networks and satellites would follow last year's 26 percent fare increase, the city's first in eight years, to increase the average driver's pay to more than $12 an hour. http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2005/11/13/nyc_taxis_prepare_to_go_wireless_with_a_back_seat_upgrade/ ------------------------------ From: Tony P. <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Re: MIT's 5ESS: (was: NN0 Central Office Codes) Organization: Ace Tomato and Cement Co. Date: Sun, 13 Nov 2005 16:12:44 -0500 In article <email@example.com>, firstname.lastname@example.org says: > In article <email@example.com>, Joe Morris > <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote: >> Thread drift question: how common are successful hacking (old >> definition of the word "hack") attempts against MIT's 5ESS? > I've never heard of one, although that doesn't necessarily mean > anything, since I don't know the people who manage it. According to > the first hit on Google, it's located in E19, with extensions in 24 > and NW12 (i.e., the usual places for network gear). I have no idea > where in E19 it is, or how well-secured those locations are -- but > phone blocks are exposed in a whole bunch of locations that are > probably easier to access. There's also the additional challenge that > many lines, particularly "class A" lines with unlimited access, are > ISDN lines using the AT&T proprietary BRI signalling to communicate > with 7506 desk phones. But telephone equipment is ancient history; > who would want to mess with that when there are *computers* around?! I'm not sure but don't most AT&T switches have INAD ports built into them? AT&T's method of security is a prominent notice that unauthorized access is illegal. Not to mention that newer gear (or updated for that matter) has IP access. And actually the 5E probably has some serious horsepower and there are still those who might want to phreak it. The 7506 -- I'm not familiar with that model so I googled. Looks very much like a 7406 except the speaker, mute, etc. buttons are in the wrong place. ------------------------------ From: email@example.com (Garrett Wollman) Subject: Re: MIT's 5ESS: (was: NN0 Central Office Codes) Date: Sat, 12 Nov 2005 20:58:39 UTC Organization: MIT Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Laboratory In article <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Diamond Dave <dmine45.NOSPAM@yahoo.DOTcom> wrote: > Most are probably worrying about hacking the campus computer system to > change their grades. We're talking about hacking, not cracking; if I were an MIT student rather than a mere employee, those would be fighting words. (Although an MIT lifer might well be amused at your reference to "the campus computer system" -- the last time you could say "*the* campus computer system" would have been fifty years ago at least. Forrester et al invented core memory in 1949 and I don't think there's been a moment since the early '50s when there have not been multiple computers on campus. I don't know anything about the systems that store private student information -- that's about as far from my job as you can get -- but I do know that the Institute takes its FERPA responsibilities seriously.) Garrett A. Wollman | As the Constitution endures, persons in every email@example.com | generation can invoke its principles in their own Opinions not those | search for greater freedom. of MIT or CSAIL. | - A. Kennedy, Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003) ------------------------------ Subject: Re: Can You Still Build a PC For Less? From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Thomas A. Horsley) Organization: AT&T Worldnet Date: Sat, 12 Nov 2005 21:19:53 GMT > The fact is, without cannibalizing half of your current PC's parts, you > can't touch Dell when it comes to building a cheap PC. But for me, this has always been the whole point. I don't need a new keyboard and mouse and speakers and case and new copies of all the software. I've got all that on my old dead system -- that's why I'm upgrading -- the old one died (I don't include disk drives in the list because they are usually the main component that dies and gives me an excuse to convince myself it is time for an upgrade :-). >>==>> The *Best* political site <URL:http://www.vote-smart.org/> >>==+ email: Tom.Horsley@worldnet.att.net icbm: Delray Beach, FL | <URL:http://home.att.net/~Tom.Horsley> Free Software and Politics <<==+ ------------------------------ From: Michael Chance <email@example.com> Subject: Re: "Soft Dial Tone" on Unused Lines Organization: SBC http://yahoo.sbc.com Date: Sat, 12 Nov 2005 22:46:38 GMT In article <firstname.lastname@example.org>, email@example.com says: > Some other posters mentioned that an unused land phone line may still > offer dial tone to provide for emergency 911 service. Is this a > recent offering? It's actually relatively old. "Soft Dial Tone" (also known as "Quick Dial Tone") was trialed by most of the RBOCs back in the early 1990s (I think that it was a Telcordia/Bell Labs brainstorm), but was mostly abandoned due to the need for dedicated facilities (a completely connected line for every address served) and TNs (SDT/QDT is essentially a non-billed, restrictive voice type of service). It also proved very cumbersome to maintain, usually requiring two service orders (one for the customer, one for the SDT/QDT service) for every new connect and disconnect. The historical telco provisioning models don't have lines available for every possible address, since not all of them will have paying customers 100% of the time, so they play the percentages and only have lines available for the normal load of customers. SDT/QDT requires 100% connected lines all the time, and a TN assigned to every one of them, with a large percentage that will be non-paying facilities that still have to be maintained as if there were someone paying for it. In the SBC territories that I'm familiar with, the Midwest region (nee' Ameritech) it was completely abandoned, and is not currently offered. In the Southwest region (nee' Southwestern Bell), it was also mostly abandoned, except for Texas, where there is a similar product known as Service Ready Drop is sold as part of the SmartMoves package for rental property owners and developers. However, when a live customer disconnects, it is not automatically re-installed, the way SDT/QDT is intended to work - the SmartMoves customer has to call in to have it re- established. It is also not available in SBC territory in Nevada (nee' Nevada Bell). The one exception is California (nee Pacific Bell/Pacific Telesys). The California PUC has not only mandated QDT, it's actually written into CA law. QDT must be provisioned at all residential addresses "where technologies and facilities permit" (meaning that it's not currently available everywhere), and it is a mostly automated process of moving from QDT to customer voice and back again. As with most things the PUC's definition of "where technologies and facilities permit" (which includes TN availability as well as central office and outside line configurations) and SBC's tend to be very different, and occassionally causes some disputes about whether it can be offered in a given area or not. I'd love to hear what the other RBOCs (Verizon, BellSouth, Qwest/USWest) experiences with SDT/QDT were/have been, as well as if any of the independents have experimented with it or are currently offering it. Michael Chance ------------------------------ From: CharlesH <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Re: Replacement for Siemens Gigaset Organization: SBC http://yahoo.sbc.com Date: Sun, 13 Nov 2005 02:52:29 GMT Thor Lancelot Simon wrote: > I would stay away from the 900Mhz phones for a few reasons. First, > the only multi-line phones available in 900Mhz are notoriously > unreliable. Second, eavesdropping on many 900Mhz phones, even modern > ones, is trivial. How does one eavesdrop on a Digital Spread Spectrum (DSS) 900MHz cordless phone? I would have thought that with the spreading code being changed every time the phone is put into the base, they would be essentially uncrackable, like CDMA cell phones. ------------------------------ From: Dave Garland <email@example.com> Subject: Re: If You Would Like to Get Away From ICANN Oversight and Registrars Date: Sun, 13 Nov 2005 01:29:50 -0600 Organization: Wizard Information It was a dark and stormy night when Patrick Townson <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote: > or DHS International http://www.dhs.org where you can register domains in > the name of your choice in the 'n3.net' top level and a few other top > levels. ".net" is the "top" level. > or SMARTDOTS http://smartdots.com where you can register domains in the name > of your choice in the top level '.tc' I think that they actually own about 25 domains such as "at.tc" and "net.tc", and offer subdomains. I have a few sub-subdomains there myself, though I'm converting them to .com since Google doesn't seem to index them. ".tc" is the national top-level domain for the Turks & Calicos Islands. [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: You are correct; it is '.net' and not 'n3.net' which is the top level. 'n3' is one underneath it. I thank you for telling me the geographic location of '.tc' and I believe that '.tf' is somewhere in the southern part of the Indian Ocean. I do not know where '.tt' is located, nor '.tv' although the latter is used by many television stations/networks in the USA for their web sites. I think the way Google gets around to indexing those is if you have approval for (and install script) on your pages there using Ad Sense. As soon as Google gets a call for ads on pages there, they also index those pages. I do know that _identical_ pages referenced via (for example) '.us.tf' or '.net.tf' get different Google ads than when the same pages are called via '.com' or '.org'. You'll see this in action if you request 'telecom-digest.us.tf' instead of 'telecom-digest.org'. I think the hassle is you are in the USA, not in Turks & Calicos, so you see (mostly) the index intended for USA viewers; I'll wager if you were in T&C you would get a somehat different index also, but I am not positve on that. How do you like being able to self-service register your sites on '.tc'? No fees, no registrar, no validation of any kind required. That's the part I think I like best about all my sites there. You register a site, no propogation required; it is immediatly available, that _instant_. PAT] ------------------------------ From: DevilsPGD <email@example.com> Subject: Re: Infone to Shut Down Date: Sun, 13 Nov 2005 03:17:28 -0700 Organization: Disorganized In message <firstname.lastname@example.org> J Kelly <email@example.com> wrote: > On Fri, 11 Nov 2005 00:17:06 -0700, DevilsPGD <firstname.lastname@example.org> > wrote: >> In message <email@example.com> J Kelly >> <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote: >>> I remember a couple years back some posts about Infone, the Metro One >>> "teleconcierge" service. I got an email today from Infone telling me >>> their service will be closing up shop on 12/31/05. I used it a few >>> times and was quite pleased with the service. I hate to see it go, >>> but I guess they only managed to attract about 83,000 subs after >>> spending $70 million to promote the service. Not a real money maker. >> I signed up, but I never bothered to use it, I've just never made a >> 411 call either. The rest of their features looked interesting, but >> not all that useful since it wouldn't save much time. >> Sure I could call Infone and have them make a reservation for me, but >> I could just call and do it myself in the same amount of time. > So true. I used them a handful of times from my cell mainly because > it was cheaper than using US Cellular's 411 which costs "only" $1.50. > USCC makes it out like they are doing me a favor by only charging a > buck fifty. Yeah. If I ever had the need to call 411 I'd have called Infone, but I simply haven't used 411 since I signed up with Infone. [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: The best directory information service I know of is the one the Digest sponsors. And it is the least expensive also: Directory Assistance just 65 cents for one or two inquiries, charged to your credit card. It is _real time_ from a telco-associated service bureau. The way it works is that you register a few phone numbers you will most always use to get your directory assistance. Then you are assigned an 800 number to use. When you call that 800 number the ANI is captured; the 65 cent charge is placed on your credit card (usually, several accumulated calls, around a month's worth are charged at one time) and you are patched through to an operator at the telco service bureau to get the desired information. 65 cents is a very good rate! Try it for a few calls and see if you like it. There are no deposits required, nor any minimum number of calls required. If you like it, the program your phone system to take all calls dialed to '411' or '555-1212' and translate them into the 800 number you are assigned to use. If you don't like it, then quit using it. PAT] ------------------------------ From: AES <email@example.com> Subject: Online Small-Scale POSTAL Mailing Firms? Date: Sun, 13 Nov 2005 09:25:37 -0800 Organization: Stanford University Posting this query to these two groups because I suspect some of their readers may have the answer at their fingertips: An organization I'm involved with has a medium-size email distribution list (say 800 names) it uses for announcements and alerts sent at random times. There's a small residual set of hold-outs (maybe 50 names) who don't have or won't get email and want these messages postal-mailed to them. Are there online services that will accept a message, a few instructions, and a small list of names and addresses online; print, stuff, stamp, and mail the message to this list of names using some low-end automated machinery; and bill the organization online -- at low cost? ------------------------------ TELECOM Digest is an electronic journal devoted mostly to telecomm- unications topics. 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Go to http://www.thehungersite.com Copyright 2004 ICB, Inc. and TELECOM Digest. All rights reserved. Our attorney is Bill Levant, of Blue Bell, PA. ************************ --------------------------------------------------------------- Finally, the Digest is funded by gifts from generous readers such as yourself who provide funding in amounts deemed appropriate. Your help is important and appreciated. A suggested donation of fifty dollars per year per reader is considered appropriate. See our address above. Please make at least a single donation to cover the cost of processing your name to the mailing list. All opinions expressed herein are deemed to be those of the author. Any organizations listed are for identification purposes only and messages should not be considered any official expression by the organization. End of TELECOM Digest V24 #517 ******************************