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The Internet

Dave Hughes' Campaign To Connect 6 Billion Brains 109

polarfleece writes "The Asociated Press has a fine story about Dave Hughes, one of my personal heros. For those of you who may never have heard of him, he is THE pioneer in the use of wireless networking for mass connectivity. His main website is at wireless.oldcolo.com." An anonymous reader also point to the profile of Hughes accompanying the article.
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Dave Hughes' Campaign To Connect 6 Billion Brains

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  • Hughes? (Score:1, Funny)

    by A1miras ( 595087 )
    Any relation to Howard?
  • But... (Score:4, Funny)

    by BrookHarty ( 9119 ) on Monday January 20, 2003 @01:40AM (#5117233) Homepage Journal
    Dave Hughes certainly doesn't look the part of a technology trailblazer. The burly, 74-year-old retired Army colonel could stuff a scrawny computer geek in his Stetson.

    But the real question... How is he at Counter-Strike!
    • Re:But... (Score:5, Funny)

      by Lord_Slepnir ( 585350 ) on Monday January 20, 2003 @01:53AM (#5117279) Journal
      But the real question... How is he at Counter-Strike!

      Probally not very good, but I still woudln't want to be next to him at a lan party

      From the computer speaker comes the thud of the GayWP
      Geek: HAHAHAHA I 0wnz0r3d j00!!!!!!
      Dave: I'm going to knife you for that
      Geek: You'll never get close enough to knife me, I have m4d AWP
      Dave: You're already close enough for me to knife you
      Geek: You're dead, and the games doesn't start for another...hey, what's that in your boot?
      Dave: (buries boot knife in geek's chest)
      Dave: n00b

    • Re:But... (Score:5, Informative)

      by BrookHarty ( 9119 ) on Monday January 20, 2003 @01:58AM (#5117298) Homepage Journal
      Well, its been 20 minutes, I was expecting more posts. I didnt know much about the guy, so after a quick google search. Found the Wales site that was mentioned in the article. http://www.arwain.net/arwain.htm [arwain.net] Pretty good site too, warchalking info and all. :)

      Also he was named one of the 100 most influential individuals in the Computer Age. Lots of article on his use of Spread spectrum, and demoing it at colleges across the USA.

      Sounds like a very interesting guy. At 74, doing all this work for schools across the world, he actually understand the need for the Internet and open information. (For his gathering of information, legal, etc...)
      • Re:But... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by BrookHarty ( 9119 ) on Monday January 20, 2003 @02:15AM (#5117340) Homepage Journal
        Found more info that was quite interesting, pissed me off.

        Hughes is lobbying for the FCC to increase the power to at least 5 watts, which would expand the service area to 50 to 70 miles. That would make a big difference in rural areas, he noted. The FCC staff originally recommended that the transmissions be allowed at up to 100 watts at any frequency above 75 mhz. The spread-spectrum technology allows practically unlimited transmissions without interference, Hughes said, but the objections of companies such as Motorola and Bell South helped to stunt those potentially visionary rules.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    He wants a solar-powered laptop to be buried with him when he dies, which will "analyze" and improve on his past writings and effectively act as him. What a crackpot!
  • He brought packet radio to the most remote places, Indian Reservations, etc.

    Or is that Johnny Internet-seed?
  • hmm (Score:5, Funny)

    by SHEENmaster ( 581283 ) <travis AT utk DOT edu> on Monday January 20, 2003 @01:47AM (#5117257) Homepage Journal
    "So he let troops paint tanks in psychedelic colors, drive them in road rallies and bring wives and girlfriends along as navigators. He stocked base hangouts with beer and go-go girls, encouraged black troops to stage Guerrilla Theater and brought in such diverse political speakers as Cesar Chavez and William F. Buckley."

    I wonder how "strongly encouraged" his retirement was......
    • What kind of picture is this to paint?

      With a long white goatee and stout body, Hughes resembles Orson Welles in his later days...

      He sometimes taught English classes at West Point with a parakeet perched on his shoulder...

      "He's a military man who says, 'I know where my hill is, and I'm going to take it,' and he didn't really care who got in the way."

      Arrrr, me hardies! 100 watts for all and a broadside at those worthless telcos!

      He's right, you know.

  • Whoa... (Score:5, Funny)

    by fruity1983 ( 561851 ) on Monday January 20, 2003 @01:52AM (#5117276)
    For a pioneer of mass connectivity, he sure does have a boring webpage.
    • Re:Whoa... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by evilviper ( 135110 )
      I hate to be the one to tell you this, but technical skills, and artistic skills are almost always mutually exclusive.

      It... is a problem. That's part of the reason why technical documentation is so (relatively) rare.
      • I hate to be the one to tell you this, but technical skills, and artistic skills are almost always mutually exclusive. That's part of the reason why technical documentation is so (relatively) rare.
        ...which explains why there are always significant holes in those really important configuration documents - they were written by someone who knows just enough to be dangerous, but not enough to know what the document will be used for.

        (remind me to stop contributing to the occasional documentation project...)
      • but technical skills, and artistic skills are almost always mutually exclusive.

        It... is a problem. That's part of the reason why technical documentation is so (relatively) rare.

        The multi-talented Leonardi da Vinci guys I've met are mostly in 3d graphics which needs both programming skill and an aesthetical sense.

        Hence, to get a better the talent pool for documentation writers -- outlaw development of 3D shoot 'em ups like FPS and all other 3D games!

      • Re:Whoa... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Error27 ( 100234 )
        That's such rubbish pop-psych you should be embarrassed. Most of the artists I know have very good computer skills.

      • I hate to be the one to tell you this, but shut the hell up.
  • by JHandey ( 635824 ) on Monday January 20, 2003 @01:55AM (#5117287)
    At first glance I thought it said "Collect" 6 billion brains...

    I thought /. was going to ask for donations.
  • by VoidEngineer ( 633446 ) on Monday January 20, 2003 @02:02AM (#5117311)
    Ah, the Internet of the 1970s! Takes me back to the cyberpunk heyday of writers like Gibson and Stephenson.

    Hughes is like some weird combination between the cowboy hackers of Neuromancer and Count Zero, and the dude who was pushing the hive mind project in Cryptonomicon.

    Any thoughts? Do you think that Gibson or Stephenson ran across Col. Dave Hughes, USA, Ret., in their research? Think the Cowboy Curser inspired any personalities in Cryptonomicon or SnowCrash? Neuromancer? Count Zero? Mona Lisa Overdrive?

    What's your opinion?
    • Although I don't read (I can I just choose not to) I do watch a flick or 2 and the first thing that popped into my head was Lain: Serial Experments. A bit long on the order of 6.5 hours, it was worth every minute. So put down your books for a sec and check it out.
  • by Nemus ( 639101 ) <astarchman@hotmail.com> on Monday January 20, 2003 @02:05AM (#5117315) Journal
    Every industry needs a dedicated, colorful, and sometimes frighteningly aggressive and determined character to give them flavor. This sounds like a cool dude.

    One does have to wonder though if connecting previously sheltered cultures, like Sherpas who rarely leave their home area, or small tribes in South America, will encourage them to join the rest of the world. If I had no previous contact with the outside world's mass culture, one look at the internet would scare the living hell outta me. Slashdot alone would convince me all ousiders should be killed on sight.

    • One does have to wonder though if connecting previously sheltered cultures, like Sherpas who rarely leave their home area, or small tribes in South America, will encourage them to join the rest of the world.

      According to my sociology-minor roommate when I was at university, that's literally what happens to small sheltered cultures. However, because they don't have any pricy exports, they end up changing from a functional non-technical culture into one that expends most of its efforts trying to get its hands on the trinkets they see Westerners with. The result is that their society is basically converted into a theme park for people with more money than them.
  • by Soko ( 17987 ) on Monday January 20, 2003 @02:16AM (#5117342) Homepage
    Someone once said to me, 'cultivate your own garden,'" Hughes says. "I said, I'm going to use a microprocessor as a hoe and a modem as a wheelbarrow."

    ...and if he happens to come upon /., he'll get plenty of fertilizer to assist in cultivation...

    Soko
  • "Someone once said to me, 'cultivate your own garden,'" Hughes says. "I said, I'm going to use a microprocessor as a hoe and a modem as a wheelbarrow."

    And use MS Windows as fertilizer?
  • by WIAKywbfatw ( 307557 ) on Monday January 20, 2003 @02:21AM (#5117356) Journal
    What we'd hear from some (in)famous brains of our time:

    George W. Bush's brain: I must remember to chew my pretzels. Bomb Iraq. I must remember to chew my pretzels. Bomb Iraq. I must remember to chew my pretzels. Bomb Iraq.

    Tony Blair's brain: I must do whatever Dubya says cos Dubya's a smart man and he obviously knows what he's doing. Now where's my leash?

    Saddam Hussein's brain: I didn't have anything to do with that attack. Why's George picking on me all of a sudden?

    Osama Bin Laden's brain: Boy, am I glad that George's forgotten about me!

    Bill Gates's brain: With all these wars to worry about I think the Government's forgotten about me. Time to pull out those plans for world domination again.

    Pamela Anderson's brain: Gee, My boobs are looking kinda small. Time to call the surgeon again.

    Britney Spear's brain: Damn that Christina's dirty. I wish I was.

    Justin Timberlake's brain: Damn, I wish I was Michael Jackson. I'd love to be in his shoes.

    Michael Jackson's brain: Damn, I wish I was with Justin Timberlake. I'd love to be in his trousers.

    Slashdot editor's brain: Hmmm, yet another duplicate story/obvious hoax/shameless plug for a "me too" product. Now where's that "post" button gone?
  • And here I was thinking it was a story about this guy [comedy.com.au]

  • We did something like that in college once, only it involved q-tips and a lot of damaged eardrums.
    Oh, and beer. Lots of beer.
  • by MichaelCrawford ( 610140 ) on Monday January 20, 2003 @04:09AM (#5117532) Homepage Journal
    While Colonel Hughes certainly deserves his status as a pioneer, based on my reading of the article, I don't think he was actually on the Internet in the 1970's.

    The reporter is apparently too young to remember that before the Internet was available to the public, there were things called "billboards".

    Billboards could be networked in the sense that you could send email or transfer files between them, but it was more like store and forward networking rather than a fully connected net like we have today.

    They mention that Colonel Hughes subscribed to The Source. That was a commercial billboard that was around before CompuServe. I guess it went out of business because CompuServe became more popular.

    I considered subscribing to the source when I bought an ASCII terminal and 1200 baud modem in 1983, but decided not to because it was exhorbitantly expensive, being charged by the minute of connection time. I couldn't afford that on my college student budget.

    The Source was really a big timesharing computer that lots of people logged into, not really a network at all.

    I'm pretty sure it took more than ten years for the Internet to have more than a hundred hosts.

    Colonel Hughes might have been able to access it if he was still in the military at the time, but it wasn't widely available even to the military.

    To illustrate how unavailable the Internet was back then - I got the money to buy that ASCII terminal by working as a summer research assistant for an astronomer at CalTech.

    The astronomy department was considering gettings its two VAXen connected to the ARPANet (it wasn't called the Internet yet). I don't mean "two main computers", I mean "two computers" - everyone used vt100 terminal to compute, and took turns at the extraordinarily expensive Grinnel image processing workstations, which had a 512 by 512 resolution and were the size of a refrigerator, mostly consisting of RAM.

    Anyway, a couple machine at Tech were already connected to the ARPANet, I believe just the Physics and Computer Science UNIX VAXen.

    After quite some heated debate within the department, it was decided that the expense of getting connected to the ARPANet just wasn't worth it. They felt it was a better use of the department's money to invest in research, instrumentation and traditional computing resources.

    For example, they bought a third VAX, an 11/750, that was smaller than the two 11/780's we had. It came with a newfangled GUI workstation (that I could never figure out how to use) that was also the subject of much debate, and set the department back $150,000.

    It could routinely support a couple dozen simultaneous terminal users. But I don't think it had the computing power of a 33 Mhz 80386 PC.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 20, 2003 @04:20AM (#5117550)
      The reporter is apparently too young to remember that before the Internet was available to the public, there were things called "billboards".

      I guess you're too young to remember also.

      They were called "Bulletin Board Systems," or BBSes.

      Sheesh, I feel old.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        Don't worry, it doesn't date you too much. I'm 19 and I also grew up on BBSes (proper plural?). I remember being blown away when I first connected to a BBS with RIP graphics, choosing your transfer protocol when downloading (zmodem of course) and those damn games. I was addicted to one in particular can't recall the name. Good times. :)
        • I still remember my old Compuserve ID, 72377,623. I got Compuserve around 1988 or so, when I was trying to become a Mac developer.

          I interviewed with Dave Johnson of Working Software, and he asked me if I was part of the Mac developer community.

          I replied that I didn't know any others, I was studying Mac programming very much in isolation.

          He told me to get a Compuserve account, so I did. It was still expensive, but I managed to afford it by that time because I was working as a programmer.

          For a long time I gave out my email address as 72377.623@compuserve.com.

          Sorry, I always called them billboards, even at the time.

        • Probably Tradewars or LoRD as those were among the most popular.
  • is right here

    http://www.west-point.org/academy/dgrad/Nominati on .html

  • The Church of Scientology plans to disconnect 6 billion brains.

  • Isn't this how all the weird/dangerous stuff in the anime Serial Experiments Lain got started? Cool.
  • Roger's Bar (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    This guy was also written up in Boardwatch - a magazine that started out covering the world of BBSing and tried to expand into Internet issues throughout the 90s.

    One thing from the old articles was a mention of something he had gotten installed at a local bar. They had a few booths, and one of them had a RJ-11 jack so he could plug in and dial out with his laptop.

    The bar is gone now, but he undoubtedly solves the problem with wireless technology instead.
    • BOARDWATCH, rip, was where I first read about Dave Hughes. The story included, among other things, his work putting wireless into some Indian reservation schools as wel as discussion of his NSF work, He clainms, and it may be true, that the way he got the NSF contracts to study wireless was because he was the only proposer! He has been doing a lot of work with remote, wirelss biosensing in Peurto Rico and Alaska and is one of the few non-industry tied people in the wireless game with real street cred.
  • Okay, first one to make a "beowulf cluster" joke gets this upside the head. You have been warned.
  • I used to be on the WELL back in the '80's, and Dave was on there too (of course - it was the premier online "community" at that time.)

    I remember during the revolt in the Phillipines, Dave came on the WELL and demonstrated how you could fax from your PC. The Chief of Staff of the Phillipine military was an acquaintance of Dave's from West Point, so Dave fired up his PC, crafted a congratulatory message, sent it through a gateway into the fax network, and got a response from the Phillipine military acknowledging receipt.

    Doesn't sound like much now, but this was in the mid-80's, when this sort of thing was not common.

    Dave is no crackpot...He's definitely an online pioneer.

  • Coffin + solar cell + 802.11 + owner's cadaver == the last word in case mods. Literally.

    "Hi, this is Dave Hughes. Wanna chat?"

    Um, not really.

    "Well could you at least brush the leaves off my solar cells? I'm losing power."

    Dude, you're the reason there's 6 BILLION people on this IRC server. I'm fucking stepping on your solar cells!

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