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+ - Cuba connecting universities with fiber

lpress writes: Two Cuban universities have fiber links and fiber connections will be available to all Cuban universities in January 2016. One of the currently connected universities is in the west, near Havana (satellite ground station) and one in the east, near the undersea cable landing. Are these the early stages of a fiber backbone? Cuba will use Chinese equipment for DSL to the home and Wifi access points. I wonder if Chinese equipment is being used in these fiber links. If so, how is Cuba paying for it and what, if anything, are they giving up? Oh — and where does that leave US vendors?

+ - SpaceX and OneWeb -- same goal, different technology and strategy

lpress writes: OneWeb has announced that Airbus will manufacture their Internet-connectivity satellites and told us more about their plans and progress. Both OneWeb and their competitor SpaceX have the same goal — global Internet connectivity and backhaul using satellite constellations, but their technologies and organizational strategies are different. SpaceX will use many more satellites than OneWeb, but they will be smaller, shorter-lived, cheaper and orbit at a lower altitude. They are also keeping more of the effort in-house. This is competitive capitalism at its best — let's hope both succeed.

+ - Cuba forms a CS professional society -- it's no ACM

lpress writes: The formation of the Unión de Informáticos de Cuba (UIC) was announced at a Havana conference and a 7,500 person teleconference (no mean feat in Cuba). My first reaction was "cool — like a Cuban ACM," but there are signfificant differences between ACM and UIC. For example, one must apply to the Ministry of Communication to be accepted into the UIC and the application form asks about membership in political organizations like the Communist Party or Young Communists League along with technical qualifications. A CS degree is required (sorry Bill Gates). UIC members must be Cuban, while ACM has chapters in 57 nations. ACM has student chapters, but they are less needed in Cuba, which has over 600 youth computer clubs where kids take classes and play games and promising students are tracked and channeled into technical schools.

+ - SpaceX applies to test Internet service satellites

lpress writes: Elon Musk's SpaceX and Greg Wyler's OneWeb both hope to provide global Interent access using constellations of low-Earth orbit satellites. Neither company plans to be in operation for several years, but Musk's SpaceX is ready to test two satellites. They have applied for permission to launch two satellites that will orbit at 625 km. They will use them to test two types of terminal at each of three West Coast ground stations.

+ - Will the nascent Cuban startup community thrive?

lpress writes: The Cuban startup community has some things going for it, including well educated users, hackers and developers and a resourceful, cooperative culture. That's the good news, but obstacles include nearly nonexistent Internet connectivity, a lack of capital and business experience and a bureaucratic government that may favor state enterprises. Let's hope the community takes off.
 

+ - Get to know Elon Musk -- 3 cool videos

lpress writes: I have my classes watch three Elon Musk videos — an interview by Sal Khan of the Khan Academy, Musk introducing his planned satellite constellation for global Internet connectivity and his introduction of Tesla Energy. The videos show his goals and motivation, his role as an open-source catalyst rather than an industrialist and his skill as a speaker.

+ - How about getting some Cuban apps into our online stores

lpress writes: A second delegation from Google is in Cuba and they have visited two important technical universities and some of Cuba's Youth Computer Clubs. The US government is now allowing us to import goods produced by Cuban entrepreneurs, Might we soon be seeing Cuban apps in the Google Play store or the stores of Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, and anyone else selling software online?

+ - Google & Facebook report on developing nation connectivity at MWC

lpress writes: Sundar Pichai of Google and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg reported on their efforts to connect the 3-4 billion people who are still off line. Google's Project Loon is making progress — their Internet service balloons are now staying up for about 6 months and delivering up to 10 mbps. They have also deployed an 800 km fiber backbone in Kampala, Uganda and plan to do the same in "many more" African cities. Facebook's cell-phone connectivity project, Internet.org, is already offering basic Internet services (not full Internet connectivity) in six nations. For example, they provide cell-phone access to Facebook and 37 other Web sites in India. Their Connectivity Lab is also working on long-range projects.

+ - Will Cubans be exporting software and software services?

lpress writes: In an effort to support Cuba's nascent private sector, the Treasury Department announced on Friday that Americans can now import goods and services produced by “independent Cuban entrepreneurs.” Will the Cuban government allow that? Cuba is a communist nation, but they have a list of 201 job categories in which self-employment is permitted. Most of those jobs are goofy things like magician and pedal-taxi driver, but one is not – computer programmer. Will the Castro regime let private individuals and organizations export software and software services to the United States and the rest of the world?

Comment: Re:Satellite not needed (Score 1) 115 115

They still have some international satellite connectivity in addition to the undersea cable, but the real need is not for international connectivity but domestic access. In the short run, satellite and terrestrial wireless could make a big difference at low cost if the Cuban government were willing.

+ - Cuba says the Internet now a priority -- is it?

lpress writes: Cuba first connected to the Internet in 1996 through a Sprint link funded by the US National Science Foundation. A year later the Cuban government decided to contain and control it. Now they say the Internet is a priority. If so, they need a long run plan, but they can get started with low cost interim measures. There is virtually no modern infrastructure on the island, but they could aggressively deploy satellite technology at little cost and, where phone lines could support it, install DSL equipment. With liberalized licensing, US companies could supply service and equipment — the ball is in the Cuban court.

+ - A survey of RAND's contributions to computer science

lpress writes: RAND Corporation was formed after World War II to do research and development for the Air Force. Perhaps the first "think tank," RAND was instrumental in many computer science developments. They did important early work on communication satellites, artificial intelligence and operations research and RAND's JOHNNIAC was one of the first stored program (Von Neumann architecture) research computers. IPL, the first list processing language, the SIMSCRIPT simulation programming language and JOSS, one of the first interactive time-sharing systems, were developed at RAND. The RAND tablet was the great grandfather of the iPad and its graphical input language (GRAIL) featured object-oriented drawing and character recognition. Paul Baran's work on the design and feasibility of large, distributed, packet-switched networks was RAND's most important theoretical work — leading to the ARPANET.

In 1957, RAND spun off its research division, creating the System Development Corporation (SDC) to build the SAGE air-defense system. SAGE was the first computer network and a huge project that trained most of the system programmers in the US. Those programmers invented many programming and project management techniques and went on to productive careers. SDC also developed the most advanced time-sharing and software development system of its time, which was used in dozens of man-machine research projects.

At the source of every error which is blamed on the computer you will find at least two human errors, including the error of blaming it on the computer.

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