Posts from January 2010.
Bored at lunch and sketched this out…
“Son, we live in a world that has firewalls, and those firewalls have to be administered by people with a clue. Who’s gonna do it? You? I have a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom. You weep for your Internet access, and you curse the security admins. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. That the firewall rule set, while convoluted and not perfect, probably saved data. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves data. You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that firewall, you need me on that firewall. We use words like “high availability”, “cloud”, “ISO 27001 compliance.” We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as marketing fodder. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who surfs and e-mails under the blanket of the very security that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way, Otherwise, I suggest you install an IDS console, and stand a post. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you are entitled to.”
“Did you block Facebook access from the company?”
“I did the job I…”
“Did you block Facebook access from the company?“
“You’re Goddamned right I did!“
So, a quick post about two things:
1st, I did a presentation to the Boston Chapter of the Association of Government Accountants for their monthly meeting as part of my day job. I’d like to think I did fairly well and there certainly was a fair amount of discussion afterward. In case any of them find their way here in an attempt to find my slide decks, I am happy to oblige:
2nd, I have been selected to speak at QuaghogCon in Providence, RI the weekend of April 24th and 25th. I’ll be departing from my usual “Information Security” speaking groove and instead will be evangelizing Amateur Radio. Sadly, this means I’ll be missing out on B-Sides Boston, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles. Registration is open now and I’ve heard rumors that attendance will be capped at 150, so even if you don’t want to hear me speak, buy a ticket; there are going to be some awesome presentations.
Mark, K6HX recently asked what people are thinking regarding the “looming spectrum crisis” and the various “spectrum inventory” acts that are currently winding their way through Congress. Mark and I seem to be more or less in agreement regarding what may be around the corner:
When we say that our “ham radio political leaders” should remain vigilant against possible spectrum reallocation, I think that we are shifting the responsibility (and in the future, likely the blame) to them, when the responsibility really lies with us. We as radio amateurs are simply not doing enough to justify our use of UHF+ spectrum. When we rely on political action committees to justify our use of this valuable public resource, we should be working hard to provide them with every possible justification that they can use. It isn’t Congress who is placing these frequencies in peril: it is our own inactivity which does so. If we lose 1.2GHz, or 220Mhz, or any of our other allocations, it will be because we frankly aren’t using them enough. If I thought that these frequencies could be effectively used to give Internet broadband to millions of underserved Americans, I’d have to say “take those frequencies, we will miss them, but we had our chance with them”.
Mark hits the nail right on the head with this statement. If we lose any bands it’s our own fault for lack of activity on them. While I don’t think 70cm (think PAVE PAWS) and below are in danger, everything else is fair game, and this includes my beloved 33cm. I am very much a “life begins at 50MHz” kind of amateur and I wish we would see more use of the GHz bands, especially 12cm (2.4GHz) but I realize that most Hams hardly venture above 148MHz, and 95% of the experimentation in the community is below 30MHz. What does this mean when the Feds come knocking on the ARRL’s door asking for spectrum?
Amateur Radio, in its current state, cannot justify the spectrum it’s given. Period. Full Stop. No amount of wharrgarbling about public service or what kind of value we provide is going to change that. Go ahead and read the ARRL’s Frequency Allocation page and ask yourself how many bands you’ve used in the past week, month, or year. Heck, even go back five years. I bet that most of you have never gone above 2M. Anthony, K3NG, takes an even more dower view in the comments section which I have a hard time disagreeing with:
Even if we would start using these bands more, I’m not sure that would be enough to keep them from being reallocated, even if we could get 50% of our active amateurs on them. If we calculate how many bits/hertz are currently being used in our spectrum versus what would be used if reallocated, and perhaps even take it a step further to model the geographical aspects and frequency reuse, it’s hard to objectively argue against mobile wireless use of these bands. Unfortunately we’re not going to be able to depend on the classic defense based on emcomm use or experimentation; the potential public benefit is just too great…
So, the question is, what can we do? I think we have two options, both of which, if they happen, will cause lamentations the like we have never seen across QRZ and eHam.
#1 Roll over – This is obvious. We lose, they win their spectrum, and we’re further sidelined into obscurity. While I don’t think this will happen and I’m sure that many of you agree, there is a distinct chance that the FCC will make a power grab for the “greater good” and legislate some of our bands out of existence without giving us a second look. Why? Because the amount of people served by expanded wireless service is pretty much a “no brainer” kind of decision. Since everyone on the federal level is hopping on the “broadband for everyone” bandwagon, passing off this kind of action will easily pass the “public approval” sniff test.
#2 Play lets make a deal – We play the cards we’ve been given and we proactively start making plans to give up bands and if we see the writing on the wall, we proactively approach the FCC with options. While, yes, you are correct, this approach did not work out well for Neville Chamberlain (Please note, I am *not* comparing the FCC to Hitler) we might be able to salvage concessions that guarantee the future of the hobby and bands. Give up 1.25M, 23cm, and 3300-3500 MHz for a law or something to guarantee the rest of our spectrum? I’d be OK with that.
These are not going to be easy decisions that are forthcoming if the Feds start scrounging for spectrum. I am pretty sure we’re going to lose any battle that comes to it. I think we as a hobby need to start figuring out what we are going to do now rather then run around like chickens with our heads cut off when the tax man cometh.
The other obvious part to this is that we should also start pushing the use of more of our spectrum. Why am I not seeing the ARRL start pushing for simple 2.4GHz data projects? With the demise of packet radio beyond APRS and the HUGE FREAKING SWATH OF IPv4 ADDRESS SPACE we have why don’t we see a organized effort for creating low cost homebrew builds? Instead, the ARRL is focusing on 40M while the HSMM page is so old it has dust on it. Way to go ARRL.