Very Important Home Repairs – Attic Ventilation

A well running attic is critical for your home’s comfort… and to prevent water damage!  If your home was built circa mid-1980s it is likely that all your attics are broken (unless someone fixed them already). My father, a building inspector, tells me this was because it was fashionable to blow in insulation in the 70’s/80’s but no baffles were pre-installed to keep the soffits from being blocked. This is an inexpensive repair and well worth the effort. Check that soffits are not blocked and that there are gable vents. An active vent may indicate a work-around as all you need is inactive vents if the soffits are not blocked. What happens if your attic is broken? Interior is extremely hot in hot weather, extremely cold in cold weather. Air conditioners work overtime. Ice dams occur. You will get water damage (with mold & rotting wood) at extremely cold temperatures (-30C / -22F) due to the temperature differentials (ask me how I know).

Is LTE *the* killer wireless technology?

Great article about LTE: with respect to being THE technology for mobile broadband (smartphones and tablets). Alex Wanda posits that LTE may replace all other radio technologies. I agree it might for the near term do so from a Major Telco player perspective. However, from hard to reach rural locations where the population density does not support a major player serving the market, I disagree. In these instances, enterprise networks demand service level agreements that either an existing LTE service cannot meet or the LTE service simply does not exist. And a business that is not a telecommunications company does not consider telecommunications an asset but a utility enabling their business. So they will not want to make the considerably larger investment for LTE hardware and spectrum. For businesses with rural assets something that makes more sense is a mix of backhaul technologies (TDD wireless, FDD wireless, unlicensed & licensed, wired – copper, fiber) and a mix of last mile technologies (wired – copper, fiber & WiFi) that provide SLAs and mobile broadband to their workforce. And push-to-talk still rules the day in terms of reach and propagation characteristics that enable it to access hard to reach areas – it’s still the communications method of choice for first responders. There just isn’t a silver bullet.

Clean Water and Change Management

Years of trying to deliver clean water to the developing world teaches us (again) how hard it is for humans to change. It can be as extreme as dying rather than changing. Seem incredulous? Try the podcast.  “The difference between what we are doing and what we are capable of doing would solve most of the world’s problems.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Power is the most common cause of outages

Good infographic on data center downtime. What should strike you right away is the most common cause of outages is power. Also of note is that of the 7 causes, only 1 was IT equipment failure (e.g. networks, servers). This aligns to what I’ve seen with Oil & Gas field networks. The best two techniques for managing power issues is to add network redundancy and ensure qualified electrical engineers correctly design the network power sources.

Administrative medical errors are the 3rd leading cause of death in the USA

Medical errors (administrative errors) are the 3rd leading cause of death in the USA, trailing only to heart disease and cancer. My own experience confirms this. My cancer diagnosis was handled badly leading to a two year insurance battle. During a 26 hour hospital emergency visit I recall catching at least 3 administrative errors. I choose my doctor now based on their administrative staff.

Real Estate – The Emerging Market Tower Industry

The majority of effective broadband rural last mile is terrestrial wireless and that means communications towers are really important. The tower “real estate” industry is complicated – follow the link to see TowerXchange’s Value Chain illustration. What is this emerging real estate industry? Instead of people as tenants, the tenants are radios. The top 3 tower companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange collectively own, lease, manage 95,000 towers and are worth $69 Billion. One of these top 3 companies, SBA, has moved into Canada.

Value Chain:

Tower Design:

Podcast: The Last Mile

An NPR Planet Money podcast on the last mile – I’m excited because this is essentially what I do; I’m a rural last mile Telecommunications Consultant. There is definitely no easy answer to the challenge of the last mile in North America but one thing we enjoy now vs a decade ago is that technology is not the problem. This is a leadership/governance issue. Copper is over, single mode fiber is the cable that should be installed now. But what must be overcome is culture and there needs to be an incentive to do it. PS. Rural vs urban are different but I want to keep this post short 🙂

Goodbye Moore’s Law

Move over Moore, it’s Cooper’s turn to shine! Moore’s Law and CPUs have enjoyed a wild ride but the S-curve states that all good things come to an end. However, Cooper’s law (or the law of Spectral Efficiency) continues to enjoy momentum. That is, data transactions will double over the same area of radio spectrum every 30 months. If you’re in Telecom you already know this maxim: build, rebuild and build again. And it’s been going since 1895!

Podcast: Why Economists Hate Gifts

Why do Economists hate gifts so much? Gift giving isn’t efficient, but what is worse, most times it does not meet the overlying goal which is to create a more meaningful relationship.

The Indicator podcast explored this theme in their episode “The Efficient Christmas: Why Economists Hate Gifts” . And they discuss that what is clear about gifts is that people don’t like getting random unthoughtful gifts. It’s worse than getting no gift. But how do you know what to get? Enter the wish list: “… [A]cademic research gathered by Francesca Gino and Francis Flynn [shows that] people receiving the gifts loved getting gifts off their wishlist.”

During the interview Tim Harford accurately and pessimistically explains Christmas like so:

“The economy exists to serve us. …[I]f a big chunk of the economy is devoted to people running around in cramped conditions under a lot of stress, working really hard to buy each other stuff they don’t actually want [then] we’re better off without that part of the economy.”

A good podcast where they teach children (7th Grade) about measuring efficiency (economic happiness):