Not Really a Blog

February 16, 2012

Hanoi, crossing the street

Filed under: ¿Pero qué coño?, Hanoi, Places, Travel, Vietnam — Tags: , , , — jesus @ 06:14

If you guys have been to Vietnam, you’ll know that traffic is chaotic and that there doesn’t seem to exist any kind of traffic rule.

Well, the rule for crossing the street among the millions of scooters passing by is just walk, at a steady pace and don’t stop. They’ll see you and they’ll avoid you. Sounds scary, but it’s easier than it looks like.

An example:

April 15, 2010

Social Engineering at Work

Filed under: ¿Pero qué coño?, Fun, Life — Tags: , — jesus @ 19:39

I’ve never had social engineering done at me, but recently there was this guy who phone me by directly calling MX Telecom‘s number. He said he was calling from DHL and that he had a package to be delivered for me. He wanted the name of two other people who would sign the delivery report in case I was not there. I complied and later a colleague told me that this is most likely a recruiter collecting names from the companies. Aha!

So, I had another call yesterday and this time I was quicker to react. The conversation went like this:

Hi, Could I speak to Jesús?

On the phone.

Hi, I’m a promoter who is organising an event at the O2 Arena for Playboy Magazine.

Playboy?

Yeah, the adult magazine, have you ever heard of it?

Barely, go on.

Well, they are organising this event for IT professionals and they wanted as many IT professionals to attend this event. I’ve got 6 tickets so if you could give me 5 names I’ll send them to you guys.

Sure, jot down please:

Juan Perez and Joseph Garcia, they are americans and have just arrived to the company.

Oh, sure. Is there any lady there who would like to attend?

To a playboy event? Yeah, I know of one: Ana Botieso, a nice Spanish girl.

is that all?

Yup, thanks a lot, I’m really looking forward to having those tickets.

No problems bye.

bye.

All of this while my mates at work were looking at me and giggling. Obviously the two first names were made up. The girl’s name stands for “An Erect Penis” in Spanish if you put it all together.

So you know, guys, if you ever receive such a suspicious call, you can be playful and have a bit of fun. You never know if you are going to get a call from one of these dicks.

October 17, 2009

Reload a page in Safari. How difficult it can be?

Filed under: ¿Pero qué coño?, Mac — Tags: , — jesus @ 02:32

I have been really annoyed for a while trying to find the reload button in Safari 4 under Mac. I just didn’t find it, but it seems I was completely blind and they’ve placed it in a place where you wouldn’t expect it. Just the right hand side of the address bar. What genius though it would be a good idea to change from where everyone assumes it is?

Yes, I know Cmd-R. It’s just that… Arg…

June 21, 2006

Extreme Temperatures

Filed under: Random — Tags: , — jesus @ 04:14

It seems that Seville holds the record for extreme maximum temperature in Europe. I found out accidentally reading the wikipedia. As sometimes the wikipedia is regarded as not being trustworthy (as anyone can change it), I wanted to look for an official website and found one at the National Climatic Data Center (from the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration ) in which it is confirmed.

But, as some might think that the 19th century is too far away, have a look at this graph from 2003 in Seville . But, if you are amazed by the maximum temperature, have a look at the minimum at 02:00. By the way, those temperatures were measured in the shade.

temperature in Seville - Aug 2003

Note: If the link above does not work, try this one at flickr

Note2: Thinking of going to Seville? Better avoid July and August.

February 1, 2006

Background briefing on FON

Filed under: Random — Tags: , , — jesus @ 19:40

Some days
ago I posted that I was writing a report for one of my courses at the University of Sussex. I chose to research on FON. The aim of this paper is to show a factual description of how this company is using technology in its business model, nothing more, nothing less :-)

Enjoy

Introduction

FON is a recently created start-up company in Spain, founded by Martin Varsavsky, an Argentine entrepreneur, founder of many companies in the last 20 years, five of which have become very successful.

He founded his first company in 1984 while he was studying a BA in New York. He also holds a MA in International Affairs and a MA in Business Administration from Columbia University. His successful companies include:

  • Urban Capital
    A real state company based in New York City by which he became a successful entrepreneur and won part of his fortune. Raised about 12 million dollars.
  • Medicorp Sciences
    A biotechnology company Martin Varsavsky started with Cesar Milstein, winner of the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Doctor Claudio Cuello.
    Although it was not a great success, it was not a failure either. They were among the first to create AIDS and Cancer products of various kinds.
  • Viatel
    Founded in 1991, Viatel is a now a specialist provider of high quality communication services to businesses and carriers.

     

    The original idea behind Viatel was to use the cheapest-at-that-time (70%) telephone rates in the USA to make calls to and from other countries using a call-back method. This method would revolutionize the way phone calls were made around the world.

    After this, Viatel created the first pan European fibre optic network.

  • Jazztel
    Jazztel, a telephone company that became the largest CLEC (competitive local exchange carrier, a telephone company that competes with an incumbent local exchange carrier) and is now the second largest publicly traded telecom in Spain, which is worth 400 million euros in the Madrid Stock Exchange.
  • Ya.com
    Ya.com is the second largest Internet content company in Spain. It was founded in 1999 with an initial investment of 38 million dollars and was sold to T-Online, a subsidiary of Deutsche Telecom in 2000 for 550 million euros.

FON is a company that is trying to make up a Wifi world in which every single user who has access to broadband would share their broadband connection to allow any other person to use it and get connected to the Internet and, also, make profit out of it.

How It Works

What FON is trying to do is what Skype is doing, but in terms of Wifi, creating a shared network. Basically, it wants every user to convert their Wifi router into a FON router, by which it would share a portion of its bandwidth to create a FON network, what would be called a Hot Spot.

A hot spot is a place in which access to the Internet is offered under a pay-as-you-go rate through a wireless connection. This is usually found in cafés, airports, stations, etc.

This is supposed to be done by upgrading the firmware’s software of the wifi router to a version created specially by FON. By doing this, the router would become an internet Hot Spot allowing anyone near-by to get connected to the internet in different ways. The router would share part of its bandwidth to outside users depending on how the owner of the hot spot configures the router:

  • Linus: The user sets up their router so it becomes a hot spot. The user receives in return, permission to use any FON enabled hot spot to get connected to the internet for free.
  • Bill: The user sets up their router so it becomes a hot spot. What the user receives in return is a part (50%) of the profit generated by the use of a hot spot. Hot spots can then be accessed by Linus users for free and other users who would pay for it.

These other users are what FON call aliens. People who need to access the internet at some point if they are in the range of one of these FON hot spots. These payments can be done thanks to the software installed in FON enabled routers.

Right now FON does not have this payment method ready, but they promise it would be finished by March 2006.

What FON is using

FON is about technology. It surely could not exist without technology. It relies on some different technologies (i.e. broadband internet connection, Wifi, linux, etc.) that are commodities right now. Technologies we would not have thought of being inexpensive some years ago.

First of all, broadband is the preferred Internet connection. Price reductions has allowed mainstream adoption and Internet connection speeds of 512Kbps, 1Mbps or even more are common these days at a reasonable price. These speeds are more than enough for the average Internet user, which browses the Internet, do some shopping, read emails, etc., unless high demanding tasks are required. Dial-up connections seem like something from the past.

Wi-Fi (Wireless Fidelity) is the buzzword used to group almost all wireless technologies used these days. Wifi has been a revolution. It allows the so-called ubiquitous computing allowing anyone, any gadget, to be connected to the net. It has also made network deployment much more inexpensive and easier due to the lack of cables, which is a couple of the reasons why this technology has been widely adopted by consumers as well as companies. Although the wireless technology lays some concerns about security that we are not going to discuss in this document, it is a fact that it has helped widespread Internet connections. There are many cases of towns offering free wireless access to the Internet these days to any inhabitant that wishes to. There is even some extensive research being done on how wireless can be deployed safely and effectively in planes, to allow passengers to remain connected in long haul flights.

The operating system GNU/Linux has also been revolutionary, introducing free and open source movement in our lives. There are many technical reasons as well as philosophical reasons why the free and open source movement is improving the computing world that we are not going to see here. The main point is that FON leverages the use of free and open source to pursue its objective: creating a global wifi network.

The idea behind FON is that they want to control, up to a degree, the software that governs wifi routers. A wifi router is basically a device that provides a wireless signal and allows other devices to connect to it. It also routes all packets coming from all these devices appropriately, be it the Internet or the local network. Depending on the vendor, there are a variety of features available to the end user, such as extra security, statistics or a user-friendly configuration menu, which lets the owner or administrator configure it to suit their needs. Usually, the software these devices operate under (their operating system) is fixed in a firmware memory at factory and the user is not given any possibility to modify it. But Linksys, a company owned by Cisco, produced a wi-fi router whose operating system was based on GNU/Linux. In order to comply with the General Public License (GPL) under which Linux was released, Linksys published all the source files used to control the device. This not only allowed anyone to be able to understand how it all worked, but it also allowed third parties to modify the sources and come up with a different version of the firmware, even improving it. Linksys has benefited from this as sales of these devices have risen quite significantly.

FON uses all of the aforementioned technologies to offer a customised version of the firmware of these devices, or even sell new devices with the firmware loaded, so users need only plug them into their network. By doing this they become FON Internet hot spots joining their network and benefiting in one-way or another.

Revenues would come, apparently, from potential users of these hot spots, probably in the long term, if enough hot spots are deployed and they seem attractive to users as to be willing to pay for it. Other methods would include advertising and the use of other auxiliary products. One of these is the WifiFon, a wifi enabled phone that would be able to join any wireless connection to the Internet and make cheap calls using VoIP, just like the way Skype is making its profit. So far this option is only advertised on FON´s website, but there are no rates published or options for buying this device.

As a new feature, FON now features a brother website based on the excellent Google maps website to create custom maps showing hot spots near you. This is another example of how FON is leveraging technology, in this case one provided by a third party, to gain some advantages over competitors, at this point non-existent.

Technology in this company

It is obvious that this company bases all its value on technology. The continuous reduction of broadband connections fosters widespread use of the Internet among citizens. Wireless is still the state of the art in innovations. It is still being developed as many new protocols, speeds and features are being created right now. The possibilities of these new devices and the way they could be used remain hard to imagine. The operating system GNU/Linux created by a, then, Finnish student in 1991, has also fostered a new way in which we can conceive business. Not only that, it now allows anyone of us with the appropriate technical skills to do custom modifications to the software running in commodity devices such as wifi routers, VCRs, etc. All these things were very difficult to imagine some years ago.

Others companies are well aware of this and are trying to take advantage of all these technologies as not to lose track. Google is one example of such companies. For example, they are trying to deploy a wifi network in San Francisco. In fact, there are even rumours spreading that Google is interested in investing in FON.

Nevertheless there are some concerns about FON and the way it becomes profitable. One major drawback is ISP and Phone Companies that have special policies that forbid their clients from reselling their bandwidth. There are also some other concerns regarding security. Wifi networks are not a good example of security for many technical reasons. It seems that relaying the control of consumers’ routers to a private company has raised some voices against this project.

Conclusion

Whether this company may be profitable or not is still unknown. There are many questions that remain unanswered and there are a variety of opinions on what this company is trying to do. Some argue that the world tends to make free wireless access while others see this as a challenging opportunity for a company to set up a new business model.

January 29, 2006

About FON

Filed under: Internet, Random, Sussex University — Tags: , — jesus @ 21:00

As part of my studies in my e-business
course at the University of Sussex, I have been asked to write a report of a company that is somehow involved with e-business (e-commerce, use of technology to become more profitable or efficient, etc.).

So, I have decided that I am going to do some research on FON, a company created by Martin Varsavsky who is famous for founding Jazztel and Ya.com, one of the biggest phone companies and ISP in Spain.

FON idea is to profit from creating a network of wireless users around the world, called the p2p of wifi.

My task is, first of all, writing a background briefing report about the company, and afterwards an investment recomendation based on my research and study of the subject.

I chose this company because I have a friend who is working there and because I think it is interesting to see if FON’s business model is profitable or not. By the way, I have no access to internal sources as Teo (hi Teo!!) is quite secretive about it (I think because of NDAs).
Anyway, I’ll post more about it in the near future, I guess. Stay tuned.

January 11, 2006

On XML and Java

Filed under: Programming, Random — Tags: , — jesus @ 20:40

As part of an
assignment
for a course at Sussex University I have to create a Servlet to run a small application, one to deal with a wedding list. It involves quite a few technologies, including XML, javascript, CSS and JAVA.So far I am not specially happy with the course as I haven’t enjoyed it as much as I thought initially.

I think it is because there are so many technologies considered in such a short period of time, but I think that Java itself made me feel very uncomfortable from the very beginning (As an example, I found the Java DOM API to be quite awkward to use). Anyway.

But I must admit that I have learned some topics I was not proficient in, such as javascript, css and XML.

Probably I would feel much better doing these things in a scripting language such as python or ruby, or even perl…

So far I am not specially happy with the course as I haven’t enjoyed it as much as I thought initially.

June 6, 2005

Apple and Intel Get Married

Filed under: Mac, Random — Tags: , , — jesus @ 21:06

apple and intel

So, they finally are moving to intel. Amazing…

I guess now there are millions of mac users completely upset

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