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This is the TBTF Log, the place where I report important breaking news in the most timely way possible.

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2001-02-22

7:34:57 PM
  • Wireless ISP warned. The FCC has issued a warning to a nationwide ISP to stop interfering with amateur radio use of a frequency in the Part 15 (unlicensed) spectrum. FCC Part 15 rules place on the users of unlicensed spectrum the burden of assuring that they don't interfere with other such users. The 2.4 GHz band being used by Darwin Networks for 802.11b service overlaps frequencies licensed for use by amateur radio operators. This FCC action may signal the agency's seriousness about enforcing its rules favoring licenced over unlicensed uses if the spectrum.

    Spread-spectrum technology, as implemented in the 802.11b standard, trades off bandwidth to achieve greater robustness against interference. Most off-the-shelf 802.11b equipment (for example PCMCIA cards) is designed so that interference with other users sharing the same spectrum should be minimal at its rated power output. A geek of my acquaintence saw the report of the FCC's action and guessed what Darwin Networks may have been doing to cause noticable interferance in the 2.4 GHz band. He speculates that the ISP may have been boosting the output of their 802.11b equipment -- say from 0.1 or 0.25 Watts to 1 Watt -- in an attempt to increase the signal/noise ratio and so to push more bits per second.

    The FCC action was filed on 2001-02-08 and Darwin Networks had 10 days to respond, so the whole matter may by now have been concluded amicably. But the action could be the tip of a very large iceberg looming in the path of the unlicensed wireless industry.

    This news came across Dave Farber's IP mailing list.


2001-02-19

6:26:01 PM
3:39:52 PM KnowNow
  • KnowNow makes another high-profile hire. As I noted last week, the secretive company, which has been getting permeable of late, was Slashdotted 10 days ago when Wilfredo Sanchez noted in his Advogato diary that he had left Apple's Darwin project to join KnowNow. Now the company has picked up another visible player, Matt Haughey, inventor of Metafilter and most recently at Pyra working on Blogger. His blog entry for 2001-02-14 says

    Today was my first day at KnowNow, and since the company has slipped behind a transmeta-esque veil of secrecy, the most popular IM message I get these days is "so what does KnowNow actually do?" I'm under NDA, so I can't say, but Dan Gilmor attended the O'Reilly P2P conference and spilled some of the beans in his column today. So there, now you know. Quit askin' me already.

    Thanks to an anonymouse for the tip.

2:40:04 PM
  • Weather stations on an iceberg. A number of massive icebergs broke free of the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica last March. Scientists studying these icebergs have installed three separate weather stations on one of them, a 90-by-20-mile behemoth designated B-15A. Here is a satellite portrait of B15-A taken last Thursday. (I found it on this page at the University of Wisconsin, which loads 13 such photos totalling around 2MB.) The automated weather stations were delivered by helicopter. They are expected to last up to 5 years in the harsh conditions 150 feet above the the Antarctic sea. Each station has a GPS receiver and sensors to measure wind velocity and direction, relative humidity, surface temperature, and barometric pressure. This BBC story doesn't say so explicitly, but the stations seem to upload their data periodically to a satellite.
10:28:16 AM
  • When is system administration hacking? The law of unintended consequences has struck two owners of an Indian Web-hosting business. They spent six days in jail and face up to three years in prison because they shut off the Web site of a customer they claim had not paid his bill. The customer had them charged with the crime of hacking under a new Indian law.

    Rediff.com has the story here. The owner of Go2NextJob.com went to the police after the site's host, Softweb Solutions Inc., replaced its front page with a nonpayment notice. The police arrested Softweb's two owners and charged them with hacking under India's tough new IT Act, 2000, which has been in effect since last August.

    The IT Act was motivated by the need to recognize the validity of electronic signatures and transactions. But the act contains some provisions that opponents complained unnecessarily broaden police powers. According to Rediff, here is how section 66 of the bill defines hacking:

    Whoever with the intent to cause or knowing that he is likely to cause wrongful loss or damage to the public or any person destroys or deletes or alters any information residing in a computer resource or diminishes its value or utility or affects it injuriously by any means, commit[s] hacking.

    Thus a simple dispute over nonpayment for services, the kind that is resolved every day with the exchange of a few lawyerly letters, was immediately escalated to a felony charge under India's new IT law.

    Thanks to Shashvat Sinha for word on this story.


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