Ann Arbor Area Business Monthly
Small Business and the Internet
By Mike Gould
Something different this time out: I usually do a “gifts for geeks” column or somesuch in December, but this year and last has been such a roller coaster, tech-wise, I thought I would look back and update you on some issues I have covered in the last couple of years.
Networking in Da UP, Eh?
This refers to a poem I wrote back in 2009 (URL below), wherein I bemoaned the lack of connectivity during our annual autumn color tour of the Upper Peninsula. Back then, all I had was a G3 iPhone, and connections were few and far between.
This year we went to McLain State Park on the shores of Lake Superior in the Keweenaw Peninsula, and found things much improved. At least, my buddy Wayne’s experience improved: he has a Verizon iPhone G4, and was able to phone home, check his email, and surf the web, all while listening to the surf beating against the beach below our campsite. My AT&T iPhone G4 was still severely Internet-challenged in camp, and connections were spotty as we traveled about. I have been pretty happy with my AT&T jobbie at home and around the state in the Lower Peninsula, but AT&T has their work cut out for them north of the bridge.
We aren’t exactly roughing it in camp; we sleep in tents but sit around the campfire in nice folding loungers and eat gourmet food. But having the ‘net in camp means we are not completely on vacation – email abounds and Wayne found his iPhone in my wife Salli’s hands more often than not so she could keep up with football scores, etc. We also learned of Steve Jobs’ death at breakfast, which dampened things a bit.
We also enjoyed WiFi in the B&Bs we visited, and were able to use our iPads in various out of the way diners and restaurants.
My AT&T VOIP repeater continues to get me out of my dead zone. My iPhone refused to work in this neck of the woods until my AT&T buddies set me up with a MicroCell, and it has been very reliable. The main hassle is that visitors can’t connect to it unless they have an AT&T phone and I do some fiddling with the setup online. Hasn’t been a big problem so far.
Retiring is Tiring
As I reported in a couple of articles a while back, I have been retired from the UM for a year and a half now, and am busier than ever. Macs continue to need tinkering, photos need to be taken, websites need updating, and I’m still cranking out this article every month. And now my laser lightshow biz is cranking up, so I’m spending a lot of time in my workshop. We have some other big projects coming up, so stay tuned. I seem to be a small businessman with five businesses now. Yow.
And those insanely dangerous blue lasers I wrote about? Well, um… I have three up and running now in our graphics projectors. They look great; bright, small, colorful, and we are very, very, very careful with them. Don’t try this at home – we are professionals.
Bugs On A Mac
A few more Mac viruses have been reported in the wild since I wrote that article, but I haven’t seen any sign of them. Flash vulnerabilities continue to show up on both platforms, but Apple has deprecated Flash, refusing to support it on their mobile platforms. Deprecated means “This is bad – don’t use it!”, and Adobe has recently thrown in the towel, saying they will cease the development of Flash on mobile gizmos and encouraging developers to switch to HTML 5, which is the new language of the WWW which supports a variety of cool new animation and other features. More on this later next year.
And people are reporting security problems with Apple’s new Lion OS, with some rogue processes escaping the sandboxes I wrote about back in June. The usual: Apple and Microsoft put out new mojo, hackers mess with it, discover vulnerabilities, A & M fix them - lather, rinse, repeat.
We lost out to Kansas City to be the poster child for Google Fiber. As you may recall, Google was to roll out a free fiber-based “last mile” of zippy-quick high speed Internet connectivity to one winning community in the US. Google announced the winner in March of 2011, and it wasn’t us. Google’s announcement:
“In selecting a city, our goal was to find a location where we could build efficiently, make an impact on the community and develop relationships with local government and community organizations. We’ve found this in Kansas City. We’ll be working closely with local organizations including the Kauffman Foundation, KCNext and the University of Kansas Medical Center to help develop the gigabit applications of the future.”
We are down but not out: Google announced that they are “looking closely at ways to bring ultra high-speed Internet to other cities across the country.” Let’s hope that the Kansas City experiment is a big success and they eventually show up here, big spools of fiber in hand, to goose up our connectivity. Only seems right, as we (well, the University of Michigan) were instrumental in getting Internet 2 up and running.
UP connectivity: http://mondodyne.com/b2b/smbiznet.141.shtml
A2 Fiber: http://mondodyne.com/b2b/smbiznet.146.shtml
Blue lasers: http://mondodyne.com/b2b/smbiznet.150.shtml
Mac Viruses: http://mondodyne.com/b2b/smbiznet.160.shtml
Mike Gould was a mouse wrangler for the U of M for 20 years, runs the MondoDyne Web Works/Macintosh Training/Digital Photography mega-mall, builds laser display devices, performs with the Illuminatus 2.2 Lightshow, and welcomes comments addressed to email@example.com.