The High-Tech Texan Blog

Wednesday, February 28, 2007 Getting Local

If you don't like the weather in Texas, wait a few minutes. Or just click over to the Weather Channel's website for their latest interactive map which is pretty cool.

The cable channel has partnered with Microsoft to offer detailed road maps combined with satellite imagery. Now users can zoom in to get a localized view of current weather conditions; all the way down to their neighborhood.

Here is a link to the Galleria area. Check out the sliding bar that controls the view of the weather, along with tools that let users pan around the map.

Hey look, I see my car. It needs a wash...where's the rain?!


Saturday, February 17, 2007

Which Free Email Service Is Best?

I get hundreds of emails each week and I usually glance at the domain name from which they were sent. A lot of people seem to be using free email services like Gmail, Yahoo and Windows Live Hotmail.

Windows Live Hotmail Beta is Microsoft's offering in the webmail revolution that began with the launch of Google's Gmail in 2004, which introduced significantly increased storage space and new interface designs using Ajax technology.

I probably have a dozen email accounts but only use a few of them. I do utilize these free services especially when I am signing up for an online newsletter or account. But not all email services are created equal.

A comparison of the three mentioned above shows differences in storage space, POP services, tagging and even RSS feeds. Personally I'm a Gmail guy due to the mass storage space and free forwarding. Like cars, burgers and sports teams, people seem to have their favorites for various reasons. Here is one list of top 10 free email services.

Give me a quick shout and let me know your fave. This will be the topic du jour Monday morning on my show so we can settle once and for all which one is best.


Thursday, February 15, 2007

As The WiFi Turns

Calls and emails continue to come in regarding citywide WiFi. Still a lot of questions from the public. Mainly:
  • How come it won't be free?
  • Will I need to get new gear to receive the signals?
  • How secure will it be?
  • If it's not as fast as DSL or cable then why do I need it?
  • Why is the city government getting involved in this?

All fair questions indeed and each is something that individual users need to determine if they should subscribe and use the service when launched. My top level thoughts continue to be that if you don't want to use it then don't use it. (Maybe I'm a bit biased since I live in Ft. Bend County)

And I continue to remind people that the city is involved as they can make deployment easier by providing access rights to light poles and buildings for the thousands of routers and base stations.

But unless an ISP is going to offer really cheap or free access (maybe, but probably not) there are other inexpensive options. AT&T offers DSL service for $14.95 (not their highest speed) and due to a clause with the Bell South merger that price will soon go down to $10 bucks in some areas.

Convergent Broadband, the company that didn't get the city contract, has been relatively quiet. Founder Don Jordan provided a gracious to quote to the Chronicle but his partner Mark Singleton opened up a bit to Chron reporter Alexis Grant.

Apparently he is disappointed with the city moving forward with an Atlanta-based company. But you've got to love his quote: "It is a slap in the face of all Houstonians to not use High-Tech Texans."

Just remember, AT&T is based in San Antonio.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

WiFi Podcast

In case anyone missed my interview this morning with the mayor, City CIO Richard Lewis and Earthlink Muni Networks prez Don Berryman, here is the link to the podcast. Click the Wed, Feb. 14th, download.

T-minus 27 months....

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Bigger Houston News? Beyonce SI Cover Girl

Hmmm...This may knock the WiFi announcement off the front pages.

Beyonce is the 2007 Sports Illustrated cover girl. She'll be on The Tonight Show Wednesday night.

Bootylicious indeed. H-Town just keeps on rolling.

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The WiFi Word Is Out

Just got back from the mayor's presser at City Hall where the "big secret" was revealed. Earthlink Municipal Networks was selected as the company to build the city's wireless network.

Mayor White elaborated on the details as specifically as he could:
  • The project is expected to take up to 27 months to complete

  • The next steps are for city council to approve the recommendation, sign a definitive agreement with Earhtlink and then a term sheet

  • Expected cost to Earthlink is initially $50 million

  • Approx. 95% of the city will have WiFi coverage

  • The price for subscribers depends on the individual ISP. Some ISPs who use Earthlink's access may charge nominally for this service while others could possibly offer it for free depending on their business model (i.e. ad supported)

I spent a few hours during the day providing comments to several media outlets - KTRH, Channel 11, Fox 26 and CW39. Also lined up a slew of guests for my radio program Wednesday. The lineup as of now has Mayor White calling in a the top of show before he begins his weekly city council meeting. City CIO Richard Lewis and Earthlink Executive VP Don Berryman will join me in studio to answer listener questions. Umesh Verma will call in later to talk about the Greater Houston Partnership's role and how businesses will be able to utilize the network's resources.

I'd be interested to chat with a Convergent Broadband representative to get their take on the selection process. Interestingly enough they learned they were not the chosen company from my blog and radio show Tuesday morning. (Note to Don Jordan and Mark Singleton, please drop me a line if you would like to comment).

Got a question about the project? Leave a comment below or call in Wednesday between 9a-10a at 713-212-KPRC.

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Houston, We Have Wireless (Sort Of)

As I buried the lead this morning on my show, Earthlink Municipal Networks has been chosen by the city of Houston to build out and manage a 600+ square mile wireless Internet network. Mayor White will officially make the announcement this afternoon at City Hall.

The mayor will be joining me at the top of my show Wednesday to discuss the selection process and next steps. Richard Lewis, the city's CIO, and a rep from Earthlink will also be in-studio to field questions from listeners.

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Monday, February 12, 2007

BREAKING NEWS v2.1...City One Step Closer To WiFi

It's been almost a year since the City of Houston announced an RFP to build out a wireless network. Last October negotiations began with two companies to finance and manage the system - Earthlink and Convergent Broadband.

A wireless network covering 600+ square miles of our city would qualify Houston as the world's largest WiFi network, that is if WiFi (802.11 standard) is the chosen technology. Yes, there could be more solutions to delivering non-wired connectivity.

Look for announcement next Monday (Tuesday at latest) on the company selected to spend tens of millions of dollars to create and manage the infrastructure. I will have reps from the City and the "winning" company on my radio program the entire hour the day after the announcement.

Stay tuned...

UPDATE: Press conference just called for Tuesday at 4pm at City Hall.

UPDATE 2: Just for the helluvit and background research...

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Worse Idea Ever?

Bacon is an unhealthy piece of meat and also a service for marketing and PR agencies. I don't eat it and I don't read it. Here's one reason why.

Recently Bacon's the agency sent an email out to its subscribers offering...wait for it...a DVD with all the Super bowl ads on it...for $500! Does Bacon's really think the PR industry, or anyone for that matter, hasn't heard of iFilm, Yahoo, AOL, YouTube, MySpace, Advertising Age, USA Today, the DVR or any of the thousands of other places Super Bowl commercial can be seen for...oh...$500 less than $500?

Apparently not as it seems to think there are people in this world that will cough up $500 for what everyone else can get for free. Whacked. Truly whacked.


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Huge V-Day Event, Monday February 12

It's time for another Downing Street Pub event and this one's a biggie. If you can't figure out what to get your sweetie for Valentine's Day then you have to show up this Monday, Feb. 12th.

Persona Day Spa will be on-hand to offer great spa packages. 80 minutes Stone Massages, manicures, pedicures along with chocolate and champagne. Masseuses will be at Downing Street Pub that evening for complimentary back and neck rubs. All while you are sipping free beverages! Get there early enough and I'll whip out some cigars from my personal locker.

Tell your friends. Win prizes. Get some KPRC gear. And walk out with a great V-Day gift she (or he) will never forget.

Party time runs from 5-7pm. Downing Street Pub is located on Kirby @ Westheimer, next to Taco Milagro.

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