August 13, 2007The Washington Post reports that Blackle, a website by Australia-based Heap Media, is trying to "help make a difference" through a black version of Google, the top search engine. This was prompted by a blogger who calculated that switching to Google to a black background could save 3,000 megawatt-hours every year.
The Post doesn't tell you that you only save power by using Blackle if you're viewing Google on an old CRT monitor. If you own an LCD, be aware that its back-lights is powered up to full whenever...
August 9, 2007Introducing CEI's weekly technology series A Series of Tubes. Cord Blomquist and Richard Morrison take a look behind the weekly headlines in tech and show you how the innovation of Silicon Valley is often bested by the idiocy of Washington. In this week's episode:
- Google defends its right to purchase DoubleClick while it asks the FCC to rig the 700Mhz auction so that others can't purchase what they want.
- Senators Stevens and Inouye want to filter the internet.
- Can your cell phone get a virus?
- Adobe is attacked for making it easy to make copies.
- The NSA continues...
August 7, 2007USA Today reports that most are unaware of the dangers facing them at public Wi-Fi hotspots, which brought to mind an interesting question about municipal Wi-Fi. What incentive is there for municipalities to provide encryption and other security technologies?
The article mentions that AT&T and T-Mobile are the largest providers of free Wi-Fi hookups in the country and although the Wi-Fi itself is unsecured, both companies encourage the use of freely provided encryption software. The incentives for both companies seem fairly obvious. If people are going to be Wi-Fi users they need to feel safe and encryption technology is a way to do this. Customers stay safe and continue to use the service, making AT&T, T-Mobile and other providers money.
Do municipal setups have...
July 30, 2007Openness--in our culture filled with feel-goodery and self congratulation openness is seen as a good thing--a trait that any liberal and modern person should hope to have. But is openness always the best policy?
Google sure thinks so. It's advocating that the 700 Mhz spectrum--soon to be freed up by the transition to digital TV--should be auctioned with openness in mind. Eric Schmidt, Google's CEO, has asked FCC Chairman Martin to limit the auction to models that would include open applications, open devices, open services, and open networks.
Sounds great doesn't it? After all, other open things in the political world are good. Open government, open hearings--both good. But would we want open phone conversations or open...
July 30, 2007Google's Policy Blog today makes a succinct argument for why its purchase of DoubleClick should be approved. While I find their reasoning compelling and logical--in fact, I don't think any justification should be necessary--I find it hard to be sympathetic to a plea for fairness when Google is asking DC to stack the deck in its favor on other issues.
Example: Google has issued an ultimatum to the FCC, asking it to offer up the 700 Mhz spectrum--the radio waves that will be free when TVs switch over to digital in 2009--with conditions attached. These conditions make all potential bidders conform to Google's business model.
What other example in history do we have of a company actually demanding strings be attached to an FCC auction such as this? If anyone can think of such an example I...
July 12, 2007My letter to the Washington Post regarding Michael Gerson's "Where the Avatars Roam," which appeared in the Post last week:
Michael Gerson's July 6 piece "Where the Avatars Roam" shows that his understanding of libertarianism isn't nearly as deep as his understanding of online games.
Mr. Gerson describes Second Life as "large-scale experiment in libertarianism," citing the game's lack of community structure and long-term consequences. He describes this "libertarian" world as one in which there is not human nature, only human choices.
This doesn't describe a libertarian world, but one of fantasy. Libertarianism, as envisioned by the founding fathers or Friedrich Hayek, is predicated on an understanding of the world that's...
July 11, 2007Wired magazine's Scott Gilbertson summarized the FTC net neutrality report by quipping, "Wait and see if it all goes south and then maybe consider doing something to fix it."
This is a false analogy. Certainly it's a good idea to fix something that's bound to break, but is net neutrality really like giving the car an oil change? It would be if we had reason to believe that we were racing toward the net equivalent of engine lock-up, but the evidence for such a scenario just doesn't add up. What evidence do we have? For more than a decade a net with many levels of access and many corresponding prices has meant more investment and a boon for all consumers.
"If it ain't broke don't fix it," doesn't apply either. The internet not only isn't broken, it's growing at incredible speeds and bringing the rest of...
June 29, 2007Fred Smith, the president of CEI, was featured in today's Wall Street Journal in a letter to the editor responding to Robert Barro's commentary on Bill Gates ("Bill Gates's Charitable Vistas," editorial page, June 19).
In the piece Fred argues that wealth creation is much more affective at reducing poverty than philanthropy, especially in the case of Mr. Gates:
Traditional philanthropy is collective, tribal, even. The donor feels noble; paternalism reigns; poverty is perpetuated. Extending the institutions of economic liberty -- even to the limited degree that this has occurred in China and India -- has done more good than would have been achieved had Mr. Gates liquidated Microsoft and shipped all that money to Africa.
Though some might disagree that Bill...
June 28, 2007In a new report, Broadband Connectivity Competition Policy, the FTC routed the empty arguments of the "net neutrality" crowd, marking a significant victory for those who believe in competition and freedom on the net.
Robert Kahn, the inventor of the TCP/IP protocol has referred to "net neutrality" as nothing more than a regulatory slogan. In a piece in The Register Kahn is quoted as saying "I am totally opposed to mandating that nothing interesting can happen inside the net."
What kind of interesting stuff "inside the net" is Kahn referring to? One example is managing traffic, called packet prioritizing, so that emails and websites are brought from servers to our displays quickly. This does mean that peer-to-peer...
June 18, 2007One of my favorite tech sites, Bit-Tech.net, commented today on a story by the Telegraph entitled "The wooden computer that adds up to zero." The story claims that PC World has produced a wood and aluminum PC that's "Carbon Zero."
Richard Swinburne of Bit-Tech.net has a great commentary on this, especially the idea that simply removing fans will cut the carbon footprint of a PC! Cutting fans will only make a minimal impact, of course, and the savings in electricity don't warrant buying this over-price marketing ploy.
Those advocating a carbon-neutral lifestyle should be offended by these false claims, but it's likely that PC World will be hailed for its efforts in cleaning up e-waste.