I want my free wifi!

Reading this slashdotted piece on how free wifi is advancing in Estonia made me think deep once again. Why the hell free wifi hasn’t become popular outside northern California … and Estonia?

The point is that wifi is not a business case. I figured this out in early 2001 when I was living and testing the first hotspots in San Francisco Bay Area. Go any coffee shop in the states and you’re most probably online. Many places are free. Starbucks via T-Mobile is one of the most expensive – around 5 euros for an hour or something like 30 per month. Typically you’d go for 20 per month.

In Finland, the mobile internet has been since 1995 or something the GSM (or GPRS for the name’s sake) modem speed. It’s a big joke. Because people don’t experience wireless net they don’t get it. If you haven’t ever watched TV you don’t need it.

Occasional free wifi in a city is a totally different experience from the current closed airport and hotel hotspots. I remember when I returned from California in the late 2001 with my wifi card installed. I found out the biggest operators had started wifi tests. I call them: in order to use any of them I’d have needed to subscribe something like hundred accounts to my big company. The situation hasn’t changed ever since! When do they get that wifi is first and foremost consumer technology?

Finally, my 5 cents. I tried to push free wifi in Finland to EFFI’s agenda in fall 2003. Unfortunately the whole idea has been somehow frozen to a draft stage. Maybe people aren’t interested in wifi after all?

Why video rentals suck

1. You don’t get but the last five years of Hollywood mainstream
2. You don’t get the hottest titles anyway cause someone was there before you
3. Even those hot titles had their world premier at least half a year ago
(4. If you happen to get the movie you want, It’ll be 4 euros – around 5 bucks – and five minutes of forced commercials, region lock, copy lock, and other devaluation)

My gut feeling is that CD is going to outlive DVD. Both of those medias will die soon, that’s clear, but CD will undoubtedly win. I still buy occasionally CDs although I get most of my aural pleasure from the radio (online and offline), various p2p software and iTunes. Why still CDs? The quality is great (same as the “original” in most cases) and the price for used and bargains about right. You also get enough usage-freedom when you own a CD (except the fucking “copyprotected” ones).

But I don’t buy DVDs anymore. And I won’t rent DVDs either, just because the renting system does not work. I re-experienced movie renting the last few weeks while we’ve had to live in a temporary apartment due to some renovation in our own. We have a DVD player in our temp place and the two main Finnish video rental chains just a one-minute walk from our door. So I tried them a couple of times and disappointed big time as you can read from above. Where the hell is iTunes for movies? Before we get anything like that, I urge anyone to try the latest p2p tricks before entering any movie rental shop in Helsinki.

Free licensing problems

There is little doubt that GNU General Public License (GPL) is not only the most used but also the most controversial Free Software license. While it gives users the freedom to use and study programs, it does not give them freedom to do whatever they want with derivative works. In fact, GPL is incombatible with many Open Source licenses.

Now MySQL has published a solution to GPL-incompatibility problems. Basically they have added an exception saying that code under GPL can be combined with code under any other Open Source compliant license. Technically speaking, MySQL users have an option to choose either a “plain GPL” or the amended, more Open Source friendly, version. Free Software Foundation currently classifies Free Software licenses according to their GPL compatibility, which in my opinion just confuses people. MySQL’s new policy is an example of an attempt to make information, and software in particular, available to all with no artificial (whether they be commercial or ideological) constraints.

First post

Finally got this thing flying… installing and configuring Movable Type took an hour, figuring out how it really works took a few more. This is actually my second post. The very first MySQL table is already history.

Note added in July 2005: I have changed my blogging software from Movable Type to WordPress and all these early posts from Movable Type are “hand-lifted” into WordPress – without changing a word.