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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Multicasting - The element prior to 2003 that should be added to the Internet History course

I think the course should include multicasting on the Internet. Multicasting is delivering content from a single sender to multiple receivers. It is similar to broadcast, but does not incur broadcast's overhead or router limitations. The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) are negotiating Multicast protocols. And are advocating a broadcast system that keeps IP traffic to minimum on the ISP's network, no matter how many users are connected. Multicast is for live, scheduled broadcasts only.

Searching for coelacanths

I was involved in a small team that pioneered live streaming broadcasting in South Africa in 2001. I worked with very clever entrepreneurial start-ups and and a team of online mavericks at a traditional newspaper publishing company Avusa Media, then known as Johnnic Communications.

In one of our early video streaming experiments we agreed to live-stream a deep dive looking for coelacanths at Sodwana Bay on the Summit TV website. The team included Geoff Cohen, now CEO of and Jonathan Banks, Digital Product Manager BDFM, owners of Summit TV. With a network of routers and a significant amount of buffering we had an audience of about 10 people who suffered the event streamed across a 64bit line.

“Due to the bandwidth constraints of the connectivity, combined with the poor video compression available at the time, the user experience was very poor. The size of the data made the infrastructure required to have the capacity to make it a viable commercial product impractically expensive to implement." – Jonathan Banks.

We completely ignored the user experience and forged on with our streaming innovations. The business at the time was under pressure as the regulatory financial reporting required by companies listed on the stock exchange was going digital and the newspaper business was at risk of losing significant print revenues. We eventually developed a patchwork solution packaged into a product for Summit TV. We were streaming analyst presentations of company financial results live online. These services were eventually restricted to a talking head with a slide presentation. Very similar in fact to the lectures we have experienced during this Internet History, Technology and Security course with Dr Chuck.

All broadcasts were packaged with PowerPoint displayed alongside the webcasting player. These were offered to dial-up and broadband users. There was an opportunity for the analysts to ask questions using an instant messaging technology. And in time the option of audio or video broadcasts were offered. Audio broadcasts incorporated a photo of the speaker and an audio stream alongside the PowerPoint slides. There was also the option of real-time or delayed broadcasts. Delayed broadcasts would have less viewer demand and users would arguably have a better experience. There were also several storage hosting options.

"While technically feasible it was practically implausible to scale to commercial volumes required for both a great customer experience and an opportunity to monetise meaningfully." - Geoff Cohen. The service never gained popularity.

The experience in South Africa has not changed much since our heady days of innovation. Private ADSL lines are still limited to 384kbps but we are hopeful that these will all be upgraded later this year to 1mbps as our local telco Telkom improves its infrastructure.

Just a little bit of Internet History and in South Africa we are still living it.


We share - How money influenced the path of innovation on the Internet - Extra Credit Assignment 1

We share.

Sharing is how the Internet started and no millennial user could imagine it otherwise. We have also come to expect to share it for free. The Internet has challenged our economic model from inception and we have to thank the 1000s of academic inventors who through their collaborative creativity contributed to making this free Internet service available to over 2.2 billion people worldwide in 2011 (Internet World Stats 2011). These scientists and engineers cleverly manipulated getting $15m from the US government to develop the NSFNet in 1986. Ironically while the Internet was funded by the US government, this is one institution that would like, above all, to remove net neutrality (Cleland 2011).

The NSFNet early version of the Internet connected six NSF funded academic supercomputer sites and enabling academics to share documents over a 56kbps dial-up line. Later the TCP/IP layered network model was invented and data was transported between servers in packet filled windows across a network of routers. Again through collaboration the standards adopted by the Internet regulatory body Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) ensure that no single vendor is able to gain advantage by commercialisation of the Internet infrastructure.
Combine this foundation of a free infrastructure with the effect of Moore's Law on the cost of storage and the hardware devices that make the Internet possible and you have a network that runs very cheaply. The resultant dramatic reductions in the costs of distribution and production have had a massive effect on barriers to entry for many business models. As a result of this almost every sector of industry has been challenged by disruptive start-ups offering competitive services and products for free. Content and advertising have become commoditised by free news websites, including user generated content sites and free classified advertising sites. Even high-end software technology has been affected as these services move into the cloud. Books can also be included. The book "Free - The Future of a Radical Price" that discusses this free economy, was available at launch for free as an e-book or can be downloaded from the Internet as a free audiobook (Anderson 2009).

I wonder if those academics realised that the impact of their collaborative invention would ultimately lead to the revolutionary change we have seen the Internet bring about on the world. The collaborative nature of their invention has sparked a culture of collaborative creativity that spans across continents making our world more democratic, productive and creative (Leadbeater 2008). We now live in a world where we have people using the immediacy of social networks to communicate with each other in time of social change or protest. And while the use of social media was used as a rallying tool in the Arab Spring we must also look at the effect this same collaborative connectivity has had on consumerism. If we use the example of Netflix who lost over 800 000 customers and two thirds of its market value when a social media backlash to their price increase resulted in thousands and thousands of blog posts and tweets from customers (Bienhoff 2012). Companies are now required to engage in conversations with their customers and that voice has to be sensitive to their customer's emotion and their influence in the collaborative framework of the modern Internet.

The Internet is free. Free as in beer and free as in freedom. It started that way and so, we hope, it will stay and continue to facilitate our global sharing of freedom and democracy.


Internet World Stats. (2011, December 31). Internet Usage Statistics -The Internet Big Picture - World Internet Users and Population Stats. [Data file] Retrieved from Cleland, S (2011, July 11). The Politics of Regulating the Internet. Forbes. Retrieved from Anderson, C (2009). Free: The Future of a Radical Price. London: Random House Business Books Leadbeater, C (2008). We-Think: Mass innovation, not mass production. London: Profile Books Bienoff, M (2012, May 10). Welcome to the social media revolution. BBC. Retrieved from

Friday, September 28, 2012

How the Internet started: The people and technology - Peer assignment 1

Please forgive the indulgence. I wrote three mini essays as part of a University of Michigan course Internet History, Security and Technology I took recently. I am publishing all three as examples of my writing

The Internet was developed by several academics over several decades in several universities. It was originally a network primarily used for file sharing by researchers and governments. The first of these networks is widely considered to be developed by Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) which had roots from Vanavar Bush’s Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) [1] and was created as a result of the USSR’s success at launching Sputnik in 1957, the first artificial satellite. A decade later the Defence Department funded a four month study that developed the ARPANET.[2]

CharlesM Herzfeld, a director of DARPA, was responsible for the decision to create ARPANET [3]. Joseph C R Licklider was hired in 1962. Licklider and his successor, Ivan Sutherland, worked on how people and computers would be mutually interdependent [4]. Licklider imagined the personal computer and Sutherland worked on a a program called Sketchpad which instead of using a computer with a keyboard graphic design could be done with a a light-pen. This was the beginning of graphical user interface (GUI) [5].

Larry Roberts, Paul Baran, Leonard Kleinrock were responsible for packet switching which was the backbone of the ARPANET network and made queuing of the data packets possible. But it was the creation of the Ethernet by Robert Metcalfe in 1973 and the development of TCP/IP protocol in 1974 that truly made the Internet possible.[6]


Monday, March 5, 2012

Trudon Intranet Blog 1Dec2008

Monday, December 1st, 2008
By Sue-Ann Grant
People were laughing at me a month ago. My sport teams were, just about, all losers. I have been an Orlando Pirates fan for as long as I can remember. And when I moved to London in the 80s and I had to choose a religion. Yes friends that is how serious soccer is there. The pub I spent a lot of my misspent youth in was a Spurs pub whereas the one around the corner was an Arsenal pub. And I am sure you all know that these two clubs are mortal enemies although their stadiums are in walking distance of each other. So in the interests of world peace I became a Spurs fan in 1985.

Bafana Bafana is obviously my team - aren’t they everybody’s? I am Proudly South African y’know. In 1996 I remember sitting in a pub full of miners in Harmony, Free State watching us win the CAF African Cup of Nations. It was amazing. The atmosphere was totally electric. And what a nail biting game that was and how glorious was it when we won?

I am also a huge cricket fan and support two teams South Africa and Sri Lanka. Loyalty does become a bit confused when they play each other but I am usually happy for the best side to win. It is like watching your children compete in a race. I try not to pick sides.

I am afraid I am not much of a rugby watcher but if I did and would have to choose between Stormers (my childhood home) or Cats/Lions – forgive my ignorance – where I now make my home and it would probably be the latter as it makes sense to support your local team.

Apart from cricket you could say I have chosen losing sides so imagine my delight when Pirates started winning and even beat arch rivals Kaiser Chiefs. I wanted to pull my shirt over my head and run with arms outstretched around my living room in sheer delight. Spurs have had a good start to the year and Bafana Bafana won four games in a row. Are they in time for 2010? I hope so but no matter what my head is totally lifted up now. Try and laugh about my team choices now why don’t you.

I am fiercely loyal to my teams. I support them in good times and bad because I know no matter how bad it gets they will turn it around. And I get to have the most wonderful times watching them getting their mojo back. So I thought I should tell you, just in case you don’t already know, I am in love with Rudi Krol…he’s my man.

Trudon Intranet Blog 14Apr2009

Bambelela - By Sue-Ann Grant
Tuesday, April 14th, 2009
My first Sales Managers Conference at the beginning of this month concluded with me joining a few of our managers on the roller coaster rides. They were pretty fierce. As were the rides! Included in, but not limited to, this brave little group were, Lettie Shakihira, Lyronne Burgess, Bradley Stevens, Colin Bullock and Primrose Kapa, who hopped on the thrilling Golden Loop, which travels from 0 - 100 k’s in 3 seconds, and the awesome Anaconda, Africa’s biggest and most exciting inverted roller coaster, suspended in mid air with feet dangling, flicked up at 90 degree angles, and then whoooooosh the sky’s the limit. Sjoe!

It all reminded me of another roller coaster ride which many of you were on: the C19 2008 canvass. I joined Trudon in August 2008 and on the 22nd we rolled out the C19 canvass. It didn’t really kick-off because prior budgeting from the 1st April start was print canvass based, with monthly targets. Switching to billing targets overnight was relatively easy for me, because it’s familiar, yet for some managers the change was more painful, with the inevitable bugs, glitches and teething problems that needed to be resolved. The plain fact is that monthly targeting cannot work in an online environment and, in any case, meeting monthly targets didn’t necessarily equal meeting annual targets, it all depended on how many months you had left in the year. This roller coaster system of budgeting is only for the very brave. And if you look at my ride partners at Gold Reef City it will come as no surprise that Cape Town was the best performing region in the 2008 C19 canvass (118%), followed by Central (110%), and in third place Durban (104%). Well done Cape Town for a brilliant canvass!

But it’s April again, the start of the 2009 C19 canvass, and this is why it’s going to be the best one ever:

The 87% target achievement in 2008 was due to inconsistent measuring in the first six months. This year our targets are very clear, and we have reports to track them. Site traffic has increased by 71%, which means more leads for our clients. With the 2010 infrastructure development, South Africa will finally have the fast, unlimited broadband already standard in Europe and America. No waiting for YouTube videos to buffer. Download movies in half the time. Watch TV online. Stream radio from anywhere in the world. Have less jerky webcam conversations when Skyping friends and family abroad. Cool, or what?

More importantly, our clients, mainly SMEs, will abandon dial-up for uncapped wireless networks, each adding an average 20 people online. Starting to click? Internet access mushrooms. More and more clients NEED online exposure. Our site traffic grows exponentially.

You see, we’re getting smarter. There’s a mountain of opportunity in this year’s C19 canvass. It’s up to us to make it real, to be open to the possibilities around us, to brave this new frontier and conquer it.

Excited? I am. Hop on and hold tight. Bambelela!

Trudon Intranet Blog 10Nov2008

Sales Bzzt! Who inspires us?
Monday, November 10th, 2008
By Sue-Ann Grant
My idols, in general, are entrepreneurs. My first was Anita Roddick. I wanted to be just like her in the 80s. She had this wonderful concept making people beautiful and helping developing communities.

The Body Shop was one of the first companies to be serious about being green. Working on behalf of numerous causes — the rain forest, debt relief for developing countries, indigenous farmers in developing nations, whales, voting rights, anti-sexism and anti-ageism, to name a few — Ms. Roddick believed that businesses could be run ethically, with what she called “moral leadership,” and still turn a profit. She opened a shop with a modest loan in 1976, her first, in Brighton. Body Shop became a huge brand with over 2,000 shops in over 50 countries. And was sold for a small fortune to L’Oreal. Not bad for a little shop selling just a handful of creams and hair-care products. This is what excites me about entrepreneurs. They have huge dreams and they are not scared to turn them into realities.

Personal qualities common in successful entrepreneurs are:
• motivation to achieve - In almost every case, successful entrepreneurs are individuals who are highly motivated to achieve.
• the habit of hard work - starting a company is hard work. In his excellent book, Winners, published by Holt, Rinehart and Wilson, Carter Henderson quotes Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari game company and Pizza Time Theater, as saying it all comes down to one critical ingredient, “Getting off your ass and doing something.” Entrepreneurs are almost always very hard workers.
• nonconformity - entrepreneurs tend to be independent souls.
• strong leadership - starting a new company can be a harrowing experience full of uncertainty and risk. Successfully bringing a small organisation through these trying periods requires a lot of leadership skills.
• street smarts - I do not know quite how to put this. Shrewd or sharp might be a better word. Call it common sense, instinct, whatever you want. Successful entrepreneurs seem to have intuitive good judgment when making complex business decisions.

Which has got me wondering how many budding entrepreneurs there are at TDS? And how do I get to know them? I mean is there anyone who dreams of owning their own beauty shop? I would love to have a manicure at lunchtime or maybe a shoulder massage in the comfort of my office. Wouldn’t that be great?

I did my own baking when I brought cakes in for my birthday. It is certainly not my forte but I love home baking and would have liked to outsource it. So are there any bakers at TDS? As long as you are not thinking of setting up your own directory services I would love to know what skills are available at TDS. And keep my spend in the family so to speak.

Trudon Intranet Blog 22Oct2008

Sales Bzzt! Issue 3 - What inspires you?
Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008
By Sue-Ann Grant
What is inspiration? What inspires people? For everyone it is different. It could be a set of chords played on a guitar, the laughter of a child, the acknowledgement of colleagues and acquaintances, awards and rewards, the success of others, the punishment, the humiliation and sometimes the failure. What matters is that we need to identify whether positive reinforcement (praises, awards, incentives, recognitions, pats on the back, etc,) or negative reinforcement (punishments, rebukes, humiliation and failures, etc.) motivate us.

If we are motivated through positive reinforcement then we tend to repeat whatever it was that got us the recognition and reward. People who are inspired into action by positive reinforcement like to be surrounded by people with the same attitude, these people contribute to teams that strive for successes always. Their charisma makes those they are in contact with work with the same zeal and vigour and results in similar passions. The more achievements and triumphs that are celebrated the more those around are inspired. Competitive spirit amongst colleagues is encouraged.

If we are inspired by negative reinforcement we become obstinate and last moment doers. We wait until we are told to pull up our socks before we get moving. We can still achieve but often think “why bother”? We might also be jealous of others’ accomplishments. We revel in negativity and we are not usually team players preferring to do our own thing. But conversely we are normally the most vocal person in the group.

What triggers us is important in our self reflection. Experience has shown that people acknowledging others’ successes are far more effective in sales environments than those waiting for something negative to happen to make them work.
The message seems clear ― inspire others and you yourself will be inspired.

So with that in mind I have a confession. Nothing has ever inspired me to go to gym. A year ago I was inspired to give up smoking and kick a 60-a-day smoking habit that I had had for over 20 years. I acquired 15 kilograms in my valiant effort which I now want to lose. If I take my own advice I need to inspire a whole bunch of people to go to gym which will in turn inspire me to enrol as my enthusiasm builds.

So ― anyone for gym?

Trudon Intranet Blog 6Oct2008

Sales Bzzt! - The Good News!
Monday, October 6th, 2008
By Sue-Ann Grant
Tjoe! It has been a challenging few weeks. All that political uncertainty, the crash of the US banks, the strain on our local financial markets and our own challenges at TDS. Ja! Tell us about it I hear you all saying. The commission system had a complete breakdown and IT have been working on it furiously to get commission statements out. The company takes this very seriously and has given a firm undertaking to resolve it as soon as humanly possible and will adjust any and all discrepancies.

Likewise the switching over to the C19 National Canvass has experienced some teething problems. We have an action group that meets twice weekly on it and we hope to have all outstanding reporting ready by the end of the week. The long term objective makes sense. We need to be geared to sell in this dynamic market 24/7/365 and keep our competitive edge.

It is important at times like these that we hold on to our optimism and keep a positive outlook and keep our focus on our end goals. Let nobody and nothing take us down hey? Scientific research has confirmed what we know is common sense - optimism is an excellent predictor of good health, long life, success, and a high happiness quotient.

And you know what? September has actually been a very good month:
• The Online Team is over target by 34%. A sterling effort and pizza is on its way!
• Jeanine Ihlenveldt in Durban sold the biggest ever online contract at R124, 608 per month for 12 months. Fantastic!
• Group wide the IYP sales performance was only 8% behind target which is significantly better than the year to date tracking of 24% below target.
• The print figures have also been great this month we sold R45, 9 million at just under a 18% increase. A round of applause please!
Let’s keep this momentum going.

And outside of TDS we had more good things happening:
• Bafana Bafana beat Malawi 3-0 – Well done okes! We are very proud of you.
• The petrol price came down – could not have come at a better time, hey?
• Our financial markets held up rather well – and that has made me proud as punch.
• There was a peaceful new political dispensation in Zimbabwe – let’s hope it holds.
• The weather has been great and rain has been predicted – yay! That means summer is here….well, almost, hey?
• Our new democracy works. We can depose presidents appoint new ones and carry on…business unusual.
All of this goes to show that we can do anything if we put our minds to it even when the odds are against us and the groundswell of opinion is negative. Let’s get reinvigorated and keep on moving towards our positive future and put all negativity behind us. Turn our back on it. Believe in our company values and ensure that each one of us walks the talk. No exceptions. And let’s pull everyone along with us and let it gain momentum.

Our own personal optimism and positivity is something we each have direct control over. Becoming more optimistic will have benefits for us not only at work but in our personal lives too. That is actually where we are likely to experience the most benefit from having a positive outlook. And the good news is that we can actually teach ourselves to increase our levels of optimism.

Follow these links for some self help guides: -
• First, measure how optimistic or pessimistic you currently are with the “Optimism Test” on the Authentic Happiness website - you need to register (free) and then find the test on the Questionnaires page
• Then read a few of the many articles on the Internet on the subject - if you tend to be a pessimist, get going with “How To Be Optimistic” on the wikiHow website And wherever you are now on the optimism scale, find out how to move up it - start off with a look at the summaries and reviews of the book “Learned Optimism” by psychologist Martin Seligman
• Finally, if you’re getting a bit tired of all the doom and gloom in our local media (you can’t blame them really - bad news sells!), cheer up with a visit and read all about “South Africa: The Good News”.
Enjoy October! I am going to.
Remember to send your stories for the next installment to me (Sue)

Parts of this blog first appeared in LawDotNews, and are reproduced here with permission of DotNews and Bernard Tanner & Associates Attorneys.

Trudon Intranet Blog 22Sep2008

Sales Bzzt! What is it? It’s the brand spanking new sales blog.
Monday, September 22nd, 2008
By Sue Grant
Bzzt! Does it mean the buzz on the sales floor?….oh yes! Could it mean the same is Psst? Yes absolutely! We will reveal the inner secrets (we have a few and I hear they all come out at the end of a canvass).
Or could it mean an electric shock wherever it is needed? Hey if the shoe fits wear it we say. Don’t you agree? And of course it will also mean sales business – sales reporting straight from the horses mouths on what’s happening on the CO1 canvass and elsewhere on our sales globe. And there will be no whips involved, we promise.
Future Sales Bzzt!’s will be about you and your sales world. And we want to hear everything! We want to hear all your funny stories and the poignant ones too. Especially from those selling in Country….we know that’s where the best stories come from.
We want to share the laughter and the tears. We will be there for each other to celebrate and also through difficult times and this week our thoughts and prayer’s have been with Marlon.
One of our challenges in sales this last week was that we have had no figures for IYP and TYP sales for over 21 days. Strategic Sales were running commissions and the systems were slow. Sound familiar TDSers? IT were checking electronic figures against billing. Finance was reconciling reporting to billed figures. Strategic Sales was checking their reports against both so all hands were on deck to solve the problem. Reports are being tested and the system should now be okay.
In sales business the big news is the online team and their recent success. The entire team are on target for September and cracked their targets for last week by an average of 119%! A great effort and we look forward to many, many more weeks like that.