Friday, June 12, 2009

Update on US Government Broadband Development Initiative

Some of you have been asking me about the $7.6 billion stimulus package. Here, is a short update.

Based on the phone conversation I had with the Department of Agriculture representative, there will be information available by the end of June on the program requirements, eligibility, and how to apply. She suggested to check the recovery web site.

In addition, the Department of Commerce has published a report on May 18th including the deadlines listed in the table below.

Department of Commerce Broadband Grant Deadline
Issuance of Notice of Funds Availability -- Broadband Inventory Mapping Early Summer 2009
Issuance of Notice of Funds Availability--General Early Summer 2009
Outreach and Grant Guidance Workshops Summer 2009
Submission of Grant Applications July 2009 – September 2009
Initial Grant Awards Fourth Quarter 2009
Second and Third Notices of Funds Availability--General 2010
Completion of Grant Awards September 30, 2010
Broadband Map Posted to Website February 17, 2011
Substantial Completion of all Grant Projects September 30, 2012

Based on the information I have collected from the public hearings held by the Department of Commerce, the fund will be primarily invested on the development of broadband communication in the unserved and under-served areas. The fund is not going to be allocated for research.

open developers are touring

If you are interested in developing web 2.0 or embedded devices applications, Stack Overflow developers' day , or as they call it DevDay, may be a good networking venue for you.

The DevDay is touring across the United States in Oct 2009. They are going to have several day long events in Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Austin, Boston and Washington DC. In every city they will have about six speakers talking about
* Android

* Objective C and iPhone development

* Google App Engine

* Python

* jQuery


* FogBugz 7.0
* Mercurial and Distributed Version Control

For more information check out the coordinator weblog. The event webpage has the list of some of the speakers.

Stackoverflow is a web site where software developers can ask their questions and contribute by answering the posted questions. It has a user-friendly interface as well as features that separate it from other forums I have seen. It had 3.5 million unique visitors per month- only 6 months after being launched. The large number of visitors encouraged the founders to think of ways to bring the developers together in real life. The October tour is their first effort to facilitate face-to-face interactions between the visitors of their web site.

Embedded Wireless Devices: an interactive webinar

My original plan for today's post was to report the Embedded Wireless Devices: An Interactive Executive Summit webinar. However, I changed my mind, as I learned that is available on demand. I am going to describe the webinar shortly and refer the interested readers to its website.

The webinar was held on Tuesday June 9th. Executives from 12 major companies in the field of Wireless Communications participated in it. They elaborated on the strategies of their respective companies with regard to embedded wireless devices. The participating companies were Ericson, AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobil, Sprint, Clearwire, Panasonic, Best Buy, Qualcomm, Jasper Wireless, Intertek, and Accenture.

For me, attending a webinar by itself was a very interesting experience. From the main page of the webinar you could choose to go to either the conference floor or the exhibition floor. On the exhibition floor you could chat with the representatives of the companies. Also you could chat with other participants who were at the same booth on the exhibition floor. At any point you could see the list of other attendance who were online. For more details please check out the Embedded Wireless Devices web page.

Friday, June 5, 2009

future TV remote control

This is the third post on a series discussing broadband penetration. If you are interested, please check out the first and second posts on this series as well. Previously, I discussed using TV as a means for connecting to the Internet. Now the question is how would you like to interact with the TV. Can we add more buttons to the TV remote control? Or do we need more innovative designs for the user interface?

The first remote control came to the market in 1957. It utilized ultrasound technology, had four buttons and was called space command. One of the buttons was for turning the TV on and off. Two other buttons were for changing channel. The fourth button is described in the 1957 commercial of the device as “the one that shuts off the sound of long, annoying commercials while the picture remains on the screen”. It took more than 20 years for the industry to come up with an infrared version of the device that did not get on your dogs nerves.

Today you can find a variety of universal remote controls with sleek and ergonomic designs. They have color displays and soft keys. Some models work with AA batteries but more sophisticated models are rechargeable. One of the most advanced universal remote controls commercially available today is the Logitec’s Harmony 1100 which was exhibited in 2009 Consumer Electronic Show (CES). It has a touch screen and the capability to control 15 devices at a time! It can be programmed to work even as the remote control for you xBox. It costs more than $500, yet it is just another remote control. If the future Internet TV is going to be something between today’s TV and a PC, it needs a controller that allows higher level of interactivity.

There are a variety of paths for the evolution of TV remote controls. The science fiction solution, in my opinion, is what Hitachi has demonstrated in the 2009 CES: just move your hand in the air to control the TV! If this is hard to believe remember how Nintendo Wii has become popular with its unique interface. Remote control manufacturers can also integrate more familiar ways of interacting with the applications running on the TV. Remember Atari? Your remote control can have a miniature joystick to navigate you through your TV screen. Some of you may be happy with my desired miniature joystick, but don’t you wish that the market will become competitive enough to nourish a variety of innovative designs?

edited by Behnam Analui