Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Smart Grid Call For Papers

Just another note with regards to the call for papers, don't worry about the deadline listed, if you have any interesting ideas apply on the website or contact me directly.

As long as there is room on a panel I won't turn anyone away who has interesting ideas to share at the conference.


Friday, September 18, 2009

Call for Papers, Smart Grid Summit

Copying this from Jon's blog:

Seems like our inaugural Smart Grid Summit was just yesterday, but we're already in planning mode for the sequel, which takes place in Miami, January 20-22, 2010.

I've been remiss about getting the word out for speakers here, so I'm telling you right now that we do have a Call for Papers out there, and you're welcome to submit ideas for presentations or topics. For basic guidance, here's a range of topics we're thinking about:

- Industry Standards and Interoperability
- Emerging Smart Home Applications
- Demand Response
- Home Energy Management
- Utility Success Stories
- Grid Security, Privacy and Resilience
- Regulatory Issues
- Wireless Broadband Opportunities in the Smart Home
- Wireless/WiMAX Opportunities for Utilities
- Smart Grid Startup Showcase
- VC/Investor Perspectives
- Emerging Business Models for Utilities
- Monetizing the Grid
- VC/Investor Perspectives
- Emerging Business Models for Utilities
- The Green Grid
- The Clean Grid
- Best Practices ? Global Perspectives
- What Utilities Can Learn from Telcos
- What Utilities Can Learn from Software Providers
- Broadband Stimulus Strategies
- Smart Grid Crystal Ball Outlook
- Smart Grid Startup Showcase
- A Smart Grid for Distributed Generation
- Electric Cars and the Grid
- Energy Storage and the Grid
- Social Networking and Energy Awareness

We won't be able to do all of these, but at least you'll get an idea of what we have in mind. You can access the basic submission form and more details here and by all means, drop me a line if you have any questions.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Smart Grid Summit

To share some news; after some brain storming and back channel discussions with some really far sighted people who are architecting what will be considered one of the major communications infrastructures of the past 200 years, it became clear to both Jon Arnold and I that it's not only time but, in fact, crucial for a meeting of the minds between key thought leaders from the energy, communications and IT industries. We are arranging a conference later this summer in Los Angeles with some truly brilliant people and hope that the visions they will share with each other will help solidify what the concept of a smart grid really entails and refine their viewpoints on the key decisions that have to be made in this space. Our focus will be conversations around grid interoperability, home energy management and home interoperability and, looking at it from the other direction, how a smart utility can change the communications industry.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Home Jinni & TV

I found Shelly Palmer's article "The Real Time Future of Television" to be quite interesting and I recommend anyone who is interested in the future of the media & entertainment industry to follow his blog. The enabling platforms for what he labels the "Data-based Digital Television Solution" are being developed by companies such as Ericsson, Dilithium, and my own, Home Jinni Inc..

Speaking for Home Jinni, we are using the same building blocks that fire the VoIP revolution to bring
Unified Communications to the television. similar to the picture Shelly painted; media will be delivered as a bundle of individually controllable streams, but still act as one cohesive unit. Furthermore, these building blocks will make television an individual user experience and pervasive; the media will no longer be delivered to a fixed location, but rather the platform will deliver tailored content to the individual and any device capable of playback which the user has presence on. One last thing I would like to say about Home Jinni, in specific, is that we are not building an IPTV platform for MSOs and other incumbant carriers. Rather we are building a platform which we hope, among other things, will redefine the role of television networks and distribution models. Probably, this is one major difference between us and the mentioned competitors.

Our vision is that of a platform which enables what Shellly talks about as the
Tom Sawyer Paint The Fence Paradigm.” The SIPifcation of media, an open API for meta-data together with what we believe to be our special "secret sauce" will enable a whole new commercial ecosystem and a new definition for the media distribution chain. We hope that our platform will play it's part in democratizing television while maintaining the role and rights of the "higher links" and enabling a whole new class of Internet based service providers who will be competitive with traditional television service operators.

It seems that being excited with television and the connected home is common with many other people who come from the grass roots of open source telephony., we're seeing a big wave coming from a mile away and we just know from our experiences that this one will break into a wild ride.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Connectivity Week 2009

I was one of the panelists discussing the home energy ecosystem at connectivity week 2009

Here is the link to my slides:

This was a great conference, I learned so much about the north american smart grid infrastructure and energy business. Looking forward to next year and I recommend anyone interested in learning more about the possibilities emerging from both the energy management and building control markets to attend this next year.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Summer Jobs at Gulf Pearl

Summer break is coming soon and we at Gulf Pearl are interested in meeting motivated and industrious students who want to expand their skills and challenge themselves.

For any students interested in a rewarding summer job, areas you will gain experience in are:

  • Working effectively in a team
  • Following good software design
  • Understanding the importance of usability
  • Building applications for highly constrained embedded systems
  • Learning the importance of wireless mesh technologies in emerging consumer electronics
  • The amazing squirrel programing language and Adobe Flex/Actionscript.

Apart from your creativity, thoroughness and diligence in delivering quality work, the only technical qualifications we are looking for are:

  • that you are a student who has completed second year computer science, electrical engineering or a related subject with good standing(if you consider yourself a good programmer apply regardless of your area of study) .
  • Competent with the Linux shell and development environments including version control and agile team tools.
  • Demonstrated competence with an MVC web framework.
  • If you are interested in working on the user interface aspects of our projects then experience with GUI development and software patterns using any of Java, Objective-C, C++ or most preferably Adobe Flex would be required.
Please send resumes to and pass this info on to anyone that you think might be interested.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Magic Hardware is Open for Business

I'm happy to announce that Magic Hardware, Gulf Pearl Ltd.'s store for wireless home automation and IP based surveillance equipment is open for business. The site still needs some finishing touches; namely a professional layout, credit card processing and integration with our eBay store. Our target date for finishing these is May 5th. However, we are ready to take orders manually so take a look at our brochure. We're confident that including shipping costs our pricing is the most reasonable for Canada. Until late summer we will limit sales through our online store to Canada.

Magic Hardware is part of a larger venture of ours covering the markets of physical security information management (PSIM) and home automation for the masses. We believe the right company can bring these technologies to mass market and we want to give a shot at making this happen. We hope to share our accomplishments and the technology we are developing this summer, until then I recommend reading my Home Services series of articles. They will give you a good overview of some aspects of the market.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Next Gen Plumbing

Reading the 4ward project website: . Considering #4ward & #OpenFlow looks like networking might be interesting again.

In addition to my above tweet, with regards to 4ward, every technical executive in the telecoms industry should get why network virtualization is important but NetInf is something that looks quite exciting and novel. If I understand correctly, it has the potential to really impact the Semantic Web as well as the Web of Things. With regards to OpenFlow, if I was a technology executive or product manager in charge of enterprise routing at Cisco, I wouldn't let this slide of my radar. The seperation and centralized clustering of the control plane is how things should have always been. Maybe one day I will write more on why OpenFlow excites me and for similar reasons why I consider P2PSIP to be a bad idea.  


Friday, February 13, 2009

Google's Powermeter

This is a pretty exciting Google project I've come across:

Google has built a web application that queries and displays your electric usage directly from your utility. You can view this from any Internet connected location via a web browser and it can evolve to to do much more than just monitor your usage to include, for example, control.

Google's new initiative shows a glimpse of where we are heading. It's not just your homes power system which is becoming communications enabled, we are on the brink of a new horizon; a horizon enabled by homes where virtually every device and appliance will be mashable and universally controllable. In the coming weeks, I'll be writing a series of articles for TMCNET which describe what the connected digital home is all about, the emerging mass market for home automation, smart power and why every service provider should be excited.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


I've just returned from a business trip in New York and I had the lucky chance of being able to attend Jeff's new conference, SoCComm. This was a very different conference than VON or any other communications technology conference I've attended. I assumed that it would be a typical conference where entrepreneurs, CEOs, CTOs and the like gather to talk about how wonderful their new technologies are, give pitches on how they will disrupt markets and so on. But SoCComm was actually the exact opposite. It wasn't a showcase of social media technologies, but instead it was a gathering of the users; users that successfully reached the masses though new media, or as we concluded at SoCComm, "now media". These people were an actual emerging market enabled by new technologies and for me listening to their stories was much more valuable than a gathering of technology entrepreneurs pitching ideas, because it gave me new ideas on where to take the technology.

More often than not disruptive technologies are tools used in ways and for reasons that was never intended, they are unexpected solutions to problems we didn't even know existed. I'm not going to go into the details, but this is the hint I saw of what SoCComm has the potential of maturing into. If you're an entrepreneur or executive in the communications technology space, do yourself a favour, come to SoCComm this summer and instead of speaking and pitching, just listen.

Here is a pic of Skyline I took from a place close to a friends condo in Brooklyn from my IPhone.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Tools To Determine If Your Bandwidth Is Being Throttled

As a former start-up VoIP service provider, I'm glad there are a couple of 800 pound gorillas in our court as well, at least for now:

If anyone reading this works at a second tier VoIP network, make sure you pass this link along to your tech staff.

It's still to early to tell if in the long run the major software as a service providers like Google will end up being on the side of a tiered Internet or continue to defend an open Internet. There are points of benefit for them on both sides. I know most of you know the reasons why Google has a defensive stance for a free Internet, but on the flip side, for Google to sign QoS contracts and co-locate with all the major tier-1 providers could potentially be a minor tax write off, for a start-up with a new brilliant method for sorting search results, it could be a huge hurdle for going to market and making a real business based on revenue instead of acquisition.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Retiring CRTC and FCC Blogs

Sorry guys, again, scraping info from websites that post new releases in unpredictable ways is pretty hard, I have retired the CRTC and FCC blog.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

FCC Blog, One More Shot

From the about a dozen emails I received asking that I keep the FCC blog going, I've decided to give it another shot. Lets hope Monday it works out. Please send me a note if you find anything wrong with it or if you want me to change it's formatting.

Shidan Gouran

Thursday, January 15, 2009


I don't understand why so many government sites fail to provide some sort of feed to their daily bulletins. What I am venting about in specific are the Canadian CRTC and FCC sites, every day I have to go to the website and when I reach the content, usually it isn't even HTML but a Word or PDF file. So finally today I decided to do something about it and wrote a little app that scrapes their daily releases and displays the information in blogger so I can just add the feeds to my reader.

The CRTC site specially dissapoints me because someone who developed the site had the common sense of using Dublin Core in the meta tags or are using a CMS which obviously makes it easy to make available machine readable content.

I wrote this system using Python, Beautiful Soup and Google's App. Engine, I will allow comments on both and if there is demand will switch to a PLIGG instance instead of blogger.

As a legal note, I make absolutely no claims or warranties that this application actually works or the following blogs display accurate data from the CRTC or FCC's site.

Here they are:

for the CRTC:
for the FCC:

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

CES Keynote with Steve Ballmer

Everyone (disclaimer, most my industry friends are hard core Linux zealots) told me that this years keynote address from Steve Ballmer would be a boring non-event as Microsoft wouldn't have anything new and interesting in the pipeline to talk about. That statement couldn't have been further from the truth.

Don't get me wrong, there was a lot of baseless marketing hype, a good example was their demo of a semantic web application. They used in specific the example of a medical atlas which was built as a semantic mashup. What Steve and his staff failed to mention is that the hard part of this application is the countless hours the domain experts in academia and the biomedical industry are putting into defining these semantic ontologies and vocabularies and thus making these publicly accessible resources a reality, not Microsofts API for consuming this data, there is very little value in what they have done in this space and it was a shame they showed it off so much without giving proper credits to the people that are truly making this technology a reality.

And there were also a number of been there done that demos which made my eyes roll, like the Microsoft Surface and multi-touch demos. I think after two years, we get the idea.

But there were a couple of announcements that will keep me up tonight (It's actually the jet lag and all these neon lights which I can't block out). These weren't necessarily technical in the pure sense but were really interesting business and product line developments. I'll only write about one in specific tonight.

It was Ballmers announcement that the Microsoft subsidiary Tellme has partnered with Ford in having it's voice driven directory services integrated into Ford cars. Why is this important? because Tellme is a hosted service. This means that Microsoft has moved beyond it's in-car voice driven Sync technology which follows Microsofts traditional business model to include a hosted service over what surely has to be a built in mobile link in every car. So in effect, Microsoft has become an MVNO, the largest MVNO network in North America and by all means as far as coverage goes the largest wireless carrier in North America. Sure, it's limited to one application but whats to stop them from offering a full mobile PBX that works on every major American network? They've taken the first step and taken the precedence with the carriers. I'd like to hear your comments on this.

Something else to mention, I was quite disappointed that Ballmer did not jump around like a jonesing crackhead.

Friday, January 2, 2009

VPN Magic

I recently came across this new startup. Now these guys are offering lifetime VPN services on a 10Gb unmetered virtual pipe for the amazing promotional price of $29. Before starting Jazinga, me and a friend who was one of the people responsible for turning the interconnection facilities at 151 Front street in Toronto, Canada into the premier data hotel it is, had a vision for a similar business, and in specific targeting bittorrent users. So we built a prototype but in the end decided that it was not the right time for such a venture because of the belief we had, and still do, that there is absolutely no way you can sell a 1Mb blended, unmetered virtual pipe (they claim 10Gb!) for less than $90 a year. With the extra costs of support, it became evident to us that it would be no better than reselling DSL with value added VPN services.

In fairness, the fee of $29 is a promotion, but unless their general claim of a "one time low fee" means at least $1500, personally, I would rather trust my money with Madoff.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

VoIP Was Never Alive

Alec Saunders article: 2008: "The Year that VoIP died" has made quite a bit of stir over the last few days so I thought I'd add my own commentary to the pot.

Let me first start by saying that VoIP as a revolutionary business model never existed to die.

Lets take a few steps back and remember where it all started. People either don't know or tend to forget that the Internet was created for one purpose. It was created for secure non centralized and in fact peer to peer voice communications, this was proposed all the way back in the early 60's. It was to be the phone system of the military and the huge advantage would be no physical or logical central point of control open to attack by the "enemy". So lets not forget that on it's first birthday, the Internet was all about VoIP and almost everything that has happened since in the world of VoIP (Voice and Video over IP) has been a very predictable and linear evolution. VoIP as an industry and technology has been about making the technology better incrementally and not a revolution, well almost everything, we will come back to this later after we remind ourselves what was revolutionary about the Internet.

By the mid 70's virtually all major research centers whether military, industrial or academic were connected to the Internet on an international level. And because of it's OPEN nature, the researchers were for all practical purposes allowed to use the network for whatever they chose to or could imagine, within the limits of the technology. Because of this important step it was easy for this group to turn the Internet from a voice network into a Galactic Network of globally interconnected computers through which anyone could run programs and access files located anywhere in the "cloud" and this led to one true revolution which nobody expected, that of the web, which is undergoing it's own predictable evolution.

So what was that one thing about VoIP which has been revolutionary? Simply a social and political oversight. As this network motivated by an open and non commercial design due to it's research and military use kept growing and evolving very unpredictably into commercial and mass society, no one was thinking (or those that were stayed very quiet) about the fact that a network capable of carrying voice with no central control negated the need for tariffs, the revolution was that VoIP arbitrage became a reality and this has led to the clear and reasonable prediction that voice will die as a commodity. So to distill my point, yes, VoIP arbitrage was a very exciting and disruptive revolution, but as Alec points out, we have been there and done that and after roughly a decade the excitement is dying out over this revolutionary segment of the telecoms industry. This has nothing to do with VoIP dying out or its quiet evolution. We are being introduced to VoIP products and services all the time that have the potential to make the world better and different than it was yesterday. Whether it's a new conferencing platform that ties in to social networks easily with an easy to use interface, a high definition video phone carrier which reminds us of the Jetsons or a PBX aiming to be so simple to manage that consumers can own and control their own telephony, these are incremental changes that bring us closer to the world that was predicted by the first Netizens 50 or so years ago.

A couple of final notes, we say the hype and business of VoIP arbitrage is dying out, but remember or realize, the worlds biggest IP network will not necessarily be the Internet, it just might be a closed network dominated by cellular carriers. Also there is no guarantee that the Internet itself will remain open as currently is the case. If a tiered Internet becomes a reality then the commodity market of Voice/Video and information packets/minutes will continue to a lively topic ;)


Happy New Years everyone and wish you all the best. I'm attending the CES show in Las Vegas this year and will post any interesting insights or products I run across next week so stay tuned.