mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


Reading a John Dvorak article always makes me sad. Because he gets paid a bunch of money and gets to play with all kind of cool gadgets, even though his columns don't really make any sense.

Take this one on "killing Wi-Fi". Ironically, he complains about how A good portion of the public doesn't really know what wireless means, yet his column doesn't really clarify things at all.

He seems pissed off that Verizion's EVDO and Sprint's similar wireless broadband service are expensive, and don't really do anything that he needs them to do, and that he can't understand why the public so stupid that if given the choice between that service and free municipal Wi-Fi, they'd want the slower expensive service over the free faster service?

To me, that's comparing apples to oranges. First of all, there is no such thing as "free municiple wi-fi", just like there is no such thing as a free lunch. I mean, it's free to use, but taxpayers pay for it. I personally don't think that local governments should be getting involved in municiple wifi, but if voters in the area think that's a good use of their tax dollars, that's up to them. I do think that businesses providing free Wi-Fi, like Panera, is a good idea - when I moved and didn't have my network connection hooked up yet, I ate at the Panera around the corner from me a bunch of times just so I could check my email from my Macbook - everyone wins.

The thing is that EVDO and municiple WiFi serve different markets. WiFi hotspots are great for the casual browser - the college student who wants to check their email. But since not every city will have municiple wifi, and since it's not economical for them to go everywhere, they aren't a viable solution for someone who lives and dies by their network connection, like business travelers. The college I work for has a handful of EVDO cards that are used by people who travel a lot, including student athletes who can do homework from the bus to and from games. The beauty of EVDO is that you can get a signal pretty much anywhere you can get a cell signal. If you depend on your network connection to put food on your table, then $60 or so is a small price to pay for being able to save a multimillion dollar buisness deal.

He also can't understand why everyone is so excited about EVDO when the speeds are slower than broadband. True, but the beauty of EVDO isn't the speed (although it's way more usuable than previous attempts at cellular modems) but the fact that you can use it in a ton of places, and that it's wireless - unlike an 802.11a/b/g/n access point, which is going to be plugged into a wire at one end - which means their needs to be a pipe (or tube) somewhere nearby.

He also discusses internet-enabled cell phones, although I can't tell if he's for them or against them or just really pissed off. I have a web-enabled blackberry. I never use it, because it sucks at browsing the web. That's probably why a bunch of other people who have web-enabled cell phones don't use it - either because they don't want to pay extra for the service, or because the web experience kind of sucks on lots of portable devices.


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