Friday, February 13, 2009

Bogus: The DTV Delay Becomes Reality...and Backfires...

Yesterday, the President signed the bill delaying the digital television transition from 17 February 2009 to 12 June 2009. You may recall my post from a couple of weeks ago talking about what a silly idea this would be.

Well, lo and behold, we're here. And I'm not just chuckling, I'm laughing my head off.

I know comparatively nothing about the stimulus plan. I understand little about many political issues deemed important to so many of us. But, I've been actively involved in the development of DTV here in the U.S. for the last dozen years, so I feel a little bit qualified to comment.

When I made my earlier post on 28 January, there were a few possible outcomes...
  • No delay of the DTV transition; having worked up to this for the last 22 years, sane heads would've realized that an extra four months would deliver little additional benefit
  • A delay of the DTV transition, with some portion of the stations planning to switch off on 2/17 taking advantage of the option to do so; this was a delicate trade-off between alienating advertisers & consumers versus having to throw an additional four months of money down the drain by continuing to simulcast
  • A delay of the DTV transition, with few or no stations turning off their analog transmissions prior to the revised deadline of 12 June
Honestly, I expected we'd get no delay. Folly, I know, but I was hoping against hope. Instead, we have yet another four months of foot-dragging--and we have nearly 700 stations planning to turn off their analog transmissions in the next week. True, most of the big market broadcasters will continue simulcasting through 6/12, but in those markets likely to be hit hardest by the lack of an analog signal, viewers will soon be out of luck.

Thus, on 2/17, many consumers in smaller markets will lose their analog signals due to the flawed economics of the four-month DTV delay, a 180-degree outcome from what the government thought they were championing. That's right--smaller market consumers will lose the most over the next four months, due to cessation of analog broadcast and a totally hosed coupon program.

That's what our legislators wasted so much time and effort for? Seriously?

Yeesh. As I suggested in my earlier post, Congress could've fixed the coupon program with emergency funding a couple of weeks ago, looked like heroes to the affected masses, and generally delivered a solid outcome. Instead, we're going to end up with stories of folks whose TVs go dark on 2/17, blaming the government for not doing enough.

Methinks they did too much.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Absolute Coolest Video I've Seen in Ages...

I can't think of a better way to introduce this video than by saying, just spend 4 1/2 minutes watching this, because it's freakin' cool. If you've already seen it, pass the link on--assuming you think it's cool, of course. And if you don't think so, I'm surprised you've stumbled in here.

Navy CIO Rob Carey just showed the video to the crowd during his keynote on building a cyber workforce, here at the Navy's CIO conference. I can't tell how many people were silent because they were absolutely transfixed (like I was) or because they just don't grok Web 2.0, but you could hear a pin drop while the video was playing.

Cool.

Friday, February 6, 2009

ShmooCon '09: Open Source UAVs

Ethan O'Toole and Matt Davis of 757Labs gave a very intriguing talk on an open source unmanned aerial vehicle platform today. Net-net, for about $1100 (not counting some of the foam parts and their time), they've designed an open source UAV. Yep, that's right--an open source UAV.

They've obviously given this a ton of thought--rotary versus fixed-wing versus payload versus computing platforms, and lots more. Here's the net-net--they've hacked together a Linksys NSLU2 core (running a 2.6 Linux kernel); GPRS/EDGE radios; GPS navigation modules; and a bunch of software, all with the goal of improving search & rescue and aerial photography (and more, but nothing Big Brother-ish). They're also adding an Analog Devices inertial measurement unit (for three-axis accelerometer and three-axis gyroscope user), although Ethan needs to get Linux running on the dev board.

And it's freakin' cool. A colleague of theirs is building a foam plane with a 12-foot wingspan, which will enable them to mount their gear, as well as provide a platform for nicely stable photography. Serious flyerage.

Needless to say, all of this will be remotely controllable. Picture an RC-plane. Make it big. Make it bad-ass. And do it for a fraction of the cost of what you think a UAV might cost.

Lots more here, at their site...

ShmooCon '09: The Srizbi Botnet

Julia Wolf of FireEye Labs just gave a fascinating talk deconstructing the Srizbi botnet, its domain registration algorithm, McColo itself, and a whole bunch more. She's planning to post her slides on FireEye's blog, but in the meantime, check out a few of these links for background...
UPDATED: Julia's slides are here.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Fifth-Largest Helping of Moose. Ever.

I know that a number of you will be attending ShmooCon this weekend. For those of you I've talked with who'll be there, I look forward to seeing you. For those of you I haven't who'll be there, in addition to between sessions, look for me on Friday night at the Podcasters' Meetup, then at the HacDC festivities late Friday night, and at the con party Saturday night.

And for those of you who won't be there...why not? Fear of Moose?