Quiet. Too quiet.

July 17, 2002

Halo announced for Windows and Macintosh

I still have a copy of the Halo video from its announcement at the 1999 Macworld Expo, and I remember the awe it inspired and the dread that fell over the Macintosh gaming community when Microsoft absorbed its developer and made rumblings about it being Xbox-only. Bungie promised an eventual Mac release, but who knew how much Microsoft was calling the shots?

Well, we have a partial answer. Halo will be coming out for the Mac, but not until 2003. To make it more ironic, the game which was first shown running on a Macintosh and was developed by one of the few major game design companies to emerge from the Macintosh community will need to be ported by a third party. Presumably, Bungie halted development for non-Xbox platforms after their purchase and now they don’t have time to port it themselves.

The question is, will anyone still care by 2003? #

The trouble with telecom

By happy coincidence, I recently ran across a bunch of telecom-related articles. (That’s short for “telecommunications”, the insider name for the phone industry.)

First, we have an interview with Robert McChesney, who argues that the deregulation of the telecom industry was poorly executed, leading to the current consolidation of utilities into mostly unregulated monopolies, which puts us in a worse position than back when AT&T dominated everything.

Meanwhile, a group disappointed with currently-available “broadband” offerings is discussing ways to provide Ethernet over the “first mile”, the part of the communications network which connects to your home or place of business. (I put “broadband” in quotes because it’s being used incorrectly to mean “high information rate”.) The fact is, even a T1 is only supports one eight the rate of a 10Base-T Ethernet connection (ie, the slow kind of Ethernet). In theory, this would allow high-throughput network access over current phone lines, but even if the technical issues work out it seems unlikely that the phone companies would implement it.

Lastly, we have an excellent argument for creating an Internet utility, complete with lots of background regarding previous network utilities (such as roads, water, electricity, mail, and phones), a description of what IP networks are and how they can be used, and what service the IP utility would offer (connectivity). Not too surprisingly, the proposed system is pretty much the same as the ideas I’ve had about how the perfect ISP—it’s far too useful an idea for no one else to have thought of it.

Rather than repeat the background and arguments, I’ll just describe it from a user’s perspective. For non-mobile access (to your house or business), you would purchase service from a local access provider. (This could be delivered over copper, coax, fiber, or wireless access; it’s all the same to .) This would get you the right to communicate with any node on the Internet via their gateway, as well as getting you a set of IP addresses for your own network. (We’ll assume IPv6 here, as it provides sufficient addressing for everyone who has ever lived and their imaginary friends.) Access providers might charge some tiny fee per byte sent, or they might have a series of flat rates that differ based on who gets priority when the system is congested.

Current Internet services are provided over IPv4, so gateways would be necessary for accessing the “legacy” Internet. As more users get IPv6 connectivity, service providers will begin offering their services over the newer protocol.

What sort of services would be available?

Wireless access adds a few wrinkles, but these can be worked out. In fact, cellular phones would likely be more useful in this world, although their user interface would need some changes once phone numbers become obsolete. Imagine having the same “number” for your home phone and your cell phone, or imagine your cell phone being able to act as your work phone and your home phone depending on context. Phone numbers are associated with phones, but IM handles are associated with people. Instead of getting in touch with Joe’s phone, you get in touch with Joe, wherever he is—or lets you know he is.

The beauty of IP is that anyone can provide these services (with some limits; obviously you can’t sell video programming without first having some video). That’s why the access providers need to provide common carriage and no bundled services, much as the old phone networks did. Will we ever see something like this? Maybe. I’m glossing over a lot of details here, and the system I’ve described is not compatible with current regulations regarding emergency calls (ie, 911), but these can be worked out. I’m hoping we get to see something like this eventually. (via Wes Felter) #