20030811 – wireless revisited

Thanks Mark, for your feedback on Wireless. Mark is a friend of mine I’ve known from back in the days of working at the University of Wisconsin – Madison’s Division of Information Technology Help Desk.

SparkyMark arrived on the scene with an extreme knowledge of the Mac OS. I remember him taking any Mac and tweaking it so it would run twice as fast and using less reources. Anyway, Mark’s got some good points on Wireless.

I guess the main reason I like opening my bandwidth, or at least some of my bandwidth, to a free wireless network, is to encourage the furthering of Open Community.

We used to talk in Madison about each block getting a T-1 or DSL connection and then splitting that up within that block so each house would have constantly-on Internet connectivity. This was what we called “Neighborhood Networking” (before Windows started using it in their interface). We’ve seen this happen in places like Ramona Street in San Francisco where the now-defunct cyborganic.com had their stronghold of hip-witted techno-pagan/pixel-visionaries during the 90’s.

The main attraction of setting up something like a cooperative network is it returns the control of the network back to the community, while at the same time encouraging peoples’ face-to-face interaction. This would then become a block-by-block Town Hall meeting. I guess I am still attracted to this sort of grass-roots networking.

I received my amateur radio license when I was 14. “KA2SGD” was my first call-sign. Those nights of staying up with the smell of heated capacitors and vacuum tubes (I grew up in the middle of the solid-state boom of the 70’s and 80’s but an entry-level transmitter and receiver (transceiver) was a little more than my newspaper-carrying fourteen-year-old self could afford) listening for weak signals in the static, or gabbing all night with my other friends, who had also earned their ham licenses. It was great having the ability to talk whenever reception conditions allowed, to virtually anyone who happened to be on that frequency.

The only down-side to this was the fact that you had to have a license to get on the air. And you had to have the equipment to get on the air, or at least access to it. And part of the equipment requirement is having space to have an antenna, which can sometimes be lengths of wire that span several hundred meters. I still love ham radio. Haven’t been on the air in a while. But my license is still current: “NZ0C”

However, now we’ve got this new-fangled thing on our hands called the Internet. And for a while, it seemed like everyone was going to eventually have free access to the Internet, where they could keep up with whatever they felt like. For instance, someone interested in getting more of an inside or in-depth scoop on the WMD fiasco currently playing out in the world today, would be hard-put to find anything on television or radio or even in print newspapers talking about the issue in all its gory detail (for instance, that the _resident mislead this nation into a war for weapons he knew damned well didn’t exist . . . at least not the way he made it sound). But more and more controlling interests are closing in on the last bits and pieces of the Internet that are not currently controlled by corporate interests.

One worrisome trend has been the erosion of our Rights here in the USA. The Patriot Act managed to make it a helluva lot easier for the government to monitor people, not just terrorists, but people who happen to express their dissent or are in disagreement with the power base. Just for the record, I worried about this sort of thing even during the Clinton Era. But I had no idea how bad things could get until Smirk and his Cabal of Cheap Labor Conservative (Neo-Feudal Plantationists) took control of this country.

Boycott the RIAAOf late, it seems the corporate greed-mongers get anything they want. At least the ones who contributed to the campaigns of the right people. The RIAA managed to issue a subpoena in a drive against an alleged illegal Internet file sharer. They essentially succeeded in getting the Internet Service Provider of one file sharer to hand over the doucments telling the identity of one alleged file sharer.

While this may seem OK at first, who’s next? Well, now the RIAA has issued numerous subpeonas to affect the same results for thousands of file sharers. Got MP3s on your hard drive? Be careful, be VERY careful.

However, imagine a world where information flows freely. A marketplace of ideas with a truly level-playing field. This is a world a lot of detractors of the Internet do not want you to imagine. They instead want you to have to pay them or their middlemen to get spoon fed the information they think is OK for you to consume.

When is the last time you were referred to as a citizen? Seems we’re almost always just thought of as consumers now.

So imagine a Folk_Internet. An Illegal Internet. A Truly ALTER-Net (I know this name is already taken). This IS coming into existence as we speak. People are linking up their wireless devices and they are creating their own bandwidth. And yes, at some point, they do have to connect into the Internet to talk to the rest of us.

The same could be said of packet radio when we used to “wormhole” back to the Internet from our radios. It has beens omething we’ve been able to do for years. And now the technology is becoming readily and inexpensively available.

No, the speeds simply don’t compare to wired Ethernet connections. But this is happening and it’s happening right now. And anything I can do to help it along, is an honor and a necessary step in our evolution toward a more open and honest society.

Irf you know of good WiFi sites, please send them my way. I am hoping to compile these and report back on what the best way to proceed, at least at the moment, in getting the Free-Net running well for the benefit of the PEOPLE.

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