Every page in CategoryPhilosophy (except CategoryPhilosophy), on a single page for easy reading. In no particular order (ie, MoinMoin order..)


CoOp - the idea that several people can get together, pool their resources, and have something really special that is much greater than what they could accomplish on their own.

  • Share 1 lawnmower(push, of course!), Compound miter saw, and set of Craftsman hammers
  • Tear down fences in the backyards of a city block of houses, and have a community backyard - 1 toolshed, 1 swingsets, 2 hot tubs, 1 big-badass garden
  • Have a fat virtual pipe delivered to one location and divided up between several members

--- DanRichardson

Feel free to comment on this idea as it relates to wireless broadband sharing at CostSharing


[CategoryPhilosophy] [CategoryGlossary]


The PersonalTelco network has a philosophy of no commercial usage. However we are still in the process of thrashing out exactly what this means. Please note that this is not attempting control access to/from the internet (that's controlled by the IspWirelessPolicies) but rather what the WirelessCloud is used for (once it exists!). Also this is not intended to be a comprehisive document on exactly what may and may not be done but rather to determine the spirit of what is acceptable so we can make future decisons on a consistant case by case basis.

AdamShand's suggestion is that all commercial usage should be allowed except for explicit, for profit, resale of the network. This means you may charge for services and do commercial work on the network but you may not charge for access to the network.

Please add refinements, objections and thoughts below.

  • One potential problem is a node which hog bandwidth (say a porn server).
    • My suggestion would be to have it's neighbors cut it off as abusive. -- AdamShand

  • I agree with the realtive simplicity of your idea Adam. It promotes the free use and community spirit. That is important. While also making sure that someone doesn't latch onto the network for commercial reselling of the bandwidth. AaronBaer



ForFree - the side of the debate that wants to pay $49.95 / month for Cable modem or DSL and give network access to anyone walking by their house just because it's cool.



One issue that repeatedly comes up when talking about CommunityNetworking is "Why can't I get paid for doing this?". Here is my break down of the issues involved and why taking money for providing community network access is a bad thing.

I see community networking as an extension of the ideals of the FreeSoftware movement (note that this is a little different from the ideals of the OpenSource movement but we will ignore those differences for now). There are many people who are very knowledgeable about computers and networks and who strongly support the FreeSoftware movement. However, because they are not programmers they have been unable to contribute. CommunityNetworking is a way that system and network administrators can contribute to the FreeSoftware community using the skills we are best at: building and scaling networks.

Here is the question. If we are going to build a Community Network, what is wrong with putting up a CaptivePortal system which allows people, for a nominal fee, to gain access to the network? This will allow node operators to recover their costs and so potentially provide a better service. Right? No, I do not think so, and here is a list of reasons why I believe charging money is a bad idea:

  1. By charging money to access a network you are reselling your broadband access. If you have residential pricing then this almost certainly puts in breach of your terms of service to which you agreed.
  2. By charging money, even a small amount, your customers now have a reasonable expectation of service. Do you really want to return early from your vacation (or visit to the bar) to fix your broken node?
  3. By charging money you have a responsibility to promptly and responsibly deal with any billing issues that may arise. Do you want to deal with processing credit card transactions, returning money etc in your spare time?
  4. Money corrupts ideals. As soon as money is charged people will become jealous that one node operator is more successful than they are. If it is done strictly for love of the project then hopefully such problems will stay in the background.

What about fund raising in general, are there reasonable alternatives? Sure there's no reason that the organization can't raise money or accept donations, but these need to be given with the understanding that they aren't in exchange for service and will be used to improve or promote the network in general. Here are some ideas of what might be useful ways to raise awareness and funds for your group:

  1. Straight up, just ask your members to contribute. Getting contributions sent to a PayPal account seems to work fairly well for us. Another option might be Amazon's honor system.

  2. Make t-shirts and stickers and sell them to people for a reasonable profit.
  3. Hold a traditional fund raise. Provide beer and food and ask for a donation for access.

A good analogy is to think of it as a public library, only instead of loaning books we loan bandwidth. So another way of looking at it would be to ask how you would feel if the library started charging money to check out books, under the premise that with the money they could get more books? While this isn't an unreasonable suggestion, it's not what libraries are about, libraries are about public access to a resource. The same holds for community networks.

-- AdamShand

See also WhatIsFreedom?

Also, let's not confuse ForFree Vs. ForProfit and ForSecurity Vs. NoSecurity.

I happen to be in the ForSecurity camp - and think that like Wiki (which I DON'T love yet!), it's a tool to allow access, but still retain the ability to boot abusers, limit bandwidth, etc.

Another take on the Free Vs. Profit thing - what about a CoOp node? My ultimate goal is to get a T1-level line into my house ($300/month - 1 Mbit EarthLink SDSL), and parcel that out to others in the immediate node that are willing to help fund it - cheaper than DSL & Much faster. Match that up with a CaptivePortal that allows free loading ..er, non-members to get 64k, 128k, 30 minute, 60 minute blocks, and you might have a viable solution.

If it's under the CoOp auspices you aren't technically reselling the service - you are just adding computers to your personal network that happen to be wireless. Kinda like roommates paying 1/2 the electricity bill each month - your roommate just happens to live across the street in this case!

Ok, so it sounds like a bunch of CapitalistBS, but it's just an extension of my goal to get a Community CoOp started - where you share tools, backyards, and yes, even bandwidth! -- DanRichardson

  • See CostSharing --AndrewWoods

    I have no objection to this scenario so long as it's cost sharing. If you want to get together with friends, family, neighbors etc and split capital expenses and/or share monthly recurring charges that's great, however the network should remain open and free to the public (though you could guarantee bandwidth to financial contributors as a way of rewarding them). -- AdamShand

    • It's not unreasonable to prevent access from non-contributors to the CoOp. After all, it's a CoOp. If you want in, you help split the costs. This is much like a library, except instead of being a publicly enforced tax, it's a privately volunteered fee, and usually the more people who join, the cheaper things become. But if you want to be a CoOp, you have to register or else it's a business. Registration isn't evil. It gives protection to those who run the CoOp, and prevents things like income tax from paying much attention. Also, you may also elect other members of the CoOp to maintain the system when you are on vacation, something you couldn't reasonably do if you acted like a bandwidth reseller. -- SunirShah

    You watch your logs don't you Sunir? Welcome to the PTP Wiki. :-) Anyway, my stance has never been that charging money is wrong, but rather that it's not what CommunityNetworking is about. I have moments of indecision but that's my stance right now. -- AdamShand

I only restarted watching logs this month. I stopped for a few months. It's bad that I did that because I'm supposed to be tracking wiki growth. This shouldn't be surprising considering I have a link to ExternalReferals on SunirShah (and that's why it's there--cf. OpenProcess).

For what it's worth, lately, freenet.carleton.ca (the Mother Eve freenet server) has been mailing its membership with donation request forms that make it appear as if the member must pay. This is because freenet is seriously underfunded, especially now that most of Ottawa has cable broadband running to the home.

CommunityNetworking is an admirable goal, but it's not necessarily practical. But there are other solutions. You can have variable pay rates depending on the income range of the participants. You could also work on the honor system if you are upfront about why you need this, and you are mercilessly strict if people are caught lying. This is how the W3C funds itself. Companies like IBM pay upwards around $50 000USD a year, whereas open source projects are invited in for free. -- SunirShah

Community Networks are either willings and without demand supported by thier Community or they die. In the Portland area the PTP has laid it out such that the node owners foot the bill with some of it being covered by grants, donations and good will. With over 100 nodes it seems to be working. So the end user has a truly FREE as in cost connectivity. This is no longer speculation but a few years of action. -- TomhHiggins



ForProfit - the side of the debate that wants to pay $49.95 / month for Cable modem or DSL and resell it to 10 people nearby for $20 / month and line their fat wallets with much-needed insulative lining.

  • Actually so long as the wireless network remains open to the public I don't really object to this, my main concern is people that want to charge $X/hour for access and not allow the public at random access. -- Adam.

I can think of a few possible businesses one could set up in a large wireless network, without denying public random access.

  • Provide live coverage of events (concerts, lectures, bands playing at clubs, awards dinners) with web cams and microphones. This service would be paid for by the event organizers. If the event coverage chewed up a lot of bandwidth, the organizers would be charged for that too -- that approaches a slippery slope of encroaching on the access available to non-paying network users.
  • On-air yellow pages: A mobile user has a wireless PDA with GPS in it. He contacts a database, gives his lat/long, and asks for nearby Thai restaurants. The minimum information about a restaurant would be the location, name, and a few keywords (Thai, restaurant). If they pay for advertising, they could list a menu or a pointer to a newspaper review. Similar things for other businesses.

  • Sell, install and maintain equipment for organizations. I was thinking that for long hops (city-to-city) you'd want microwave dishes on poles or towers. This might be too expensive for an individual, but a club or group might pool funds and hire somebody to put a dish up. -- WillWare



ForSecurity the side of the debate that wants to set up a Wireless network in the community and then put large (virtual) deadbolts on it and just give keys out to a select few people in the club.

See the CaptivePortal page.



Different people have different ideas of what they'd like to accomplish with PersonalTelco. Here we list some of our ideas and why we're committed to this.

Lonnie Wormley

Below are links to some interesting articles about radio (the original wireless network). I've seen enough corporate take over in my years on this planet. I'm not knocking big business, I work for one, and I do not march in May Day parades. I voted for Regan, Bush, Clinton, Gore so I consider my self politically confused.

I did not care about whales or smog. Church bombings bothered me and so did Vietnam, but I never protested.

So what gets me off my butt to go to PTP meetings and keeps me at my computer doing logos and trying to make wireless work? Crappy segregated music on radio stations and Computerized play list with commercial readers for DJs. Why should I have to be tethered to a desk to have decent music. Did we take a technological step forward but two steps backwards culturally? PTP should distinguish itself not as a bunch of technical folks who can do it, but a bunch of technical folks that can do it with style and common sense. We have to weave the technology into the human fabric (hey what about a antenna on a Borg Cube for a T-Shirt) so that it serves us and not the other way around.

I want to buy as many antennas and servers as I can to restore the art of weaving music the way it should be done, by a human from your heart.

Here is a link to a Good DJ.

Wonder why your local FM stations suck so fiercely? Check out this article from the zine Salon dated April 23, 2001.




First used by DanRichardson (that I know of) and this page just needs to exist. Someone now needs to figure out what the hell it actually means. :) -- AdamShand

Perhaps it follows from the democratization of technology provided by the PC. We are in the process of democratizing access to the internet after a period of control by a few large organizations. -- AlfWatt



As more and more people deploy community network nodes a question that is being asked is "What information should I log as people use my access point". This is a tricky question to answer because there are several important angles to consider.

Below is a message sent to the NycWireless mailing list where AdamShand talks a little bit about his experience. It should be refactored into this page properly.

my personal recommendation (based on the practices of all of the isp's i have worked for) is to keep comprehensive logs for a finite amount of time for debugging purposes. after that, only maintain statistical records (mrtg type records which doesn't correlate data to people).

how long you think you should keep data is up to you. isp's normally do it for about a month, which is long enough that you should have all the debugging info you might need, but unlikely that a search warrent will be presented in that time. in our scenario i would think somewhere between a couple days and a week would be reasonable.

as a side note for the archives ... i/we am not advocating that we allow people to break the law, or even faciliate them breaking the law. we are working in the best interests of our "customers" (maybe members would be a better word?) to help make sure that their privacy and freedom are preserved.




NoSecurity - the side of the debate that wants to set up a Wireless network in the community and open the proverbial BarnDoors for anyone to join in the coffee shop surfin' fun.

Well, with a wiki, you can use databases to rollback what others have done (in terms of damage) fairly easily (in theory). With networks, what's the equivalent? Once the damage is done (hogged bandwidth, say), you can't undo it - you can try to ban that person, but they can fake a new MAC address. I'm really warming to the idea of a 2- or 3-tiered system

  1. Paid users
  2. Trusted unpaid users
  3. Public at large

You can give full access to 1 & 2, and have an always-on, always-available network for 3. You'd limit their "time on in 24 hours" or bandwidth to 64k - this way, they can do only-so-much damage in a single session, but you let them do whatever they want. Think of it like the bumper car ride - everyone can bump you, you can only bump so many people because you're big & don't perform well, and you can not do much damage since you are slow. -- DanRichardson

  • I agree in part. I agree to the basic trust model, what I suspect I'll take issue with is the implementation. Paid users will pretty much be geographically fixed users, they'll be your neighbors. This is easy to control, you give them a static IP give them a generous and guaranteed chunk of bandwidth and they are good to go. The public at large should be unauthenticated and allowed to connect at random, you would restrict the amount of bandwidth that they can use and run an application like an ActivePortal to restrict the amount of "badness" that they can accomplish from your network. Trusted unpaid users though is gonna be a sticky issue. How do you assign trust? The only real way that I can think of is with usernames and passwords, and I'm fairly against this. In order to implement useful authentication you would now have to maintain a user database, possibly a centralized user database (if you want to trust other nodes trusted users) this has the potential to become an administration nightmare. -- AdamShand



We are always looking to make your experience using the Personal Telco nodes easier. If you have problems and don't see the answer to your question below, please add your question to the list below and somebody will answer it soon.

Happy surfing.

General Questions

  1. Q: Is this really a free internet site? Can I use it as much as I want?
    A: You bet! This is a community wireless network provided to the public free of charge. Please remember that someone else is paying for the bandwidth so you can use it for free. Be respectful.

  2. Q: Why do you give away free wireless internet?
    A: That's a bigger question then we have space for here. You might try browsing the website for some insight into what it's all about, especially the [CategoryPhilosophy philosophy section]. The short answer: we think it's fun, and a great way for geeks and local businesses to interact with the community they live in.

Trouble Shooting

  1. Q: Why am I having problems with my email?
    A: You should only be having problems with sending email. See the next question for details.

  2. Q: Why can't I send email from some nodes?
    A: Most of the high profile public nodes (see NodeMap) have port 25 blocked. This means that you can not send email. The reason we do this is to prevent spam, it would be too easy for spammers to abuse the public internet access offered to spam even more people. The best solution is to use a free web based mail service like Mail2Web or MollyMail to send and receive your mail. We are actively working on solutions which will allow you to send your email, but will stop the spammers from abusing the system.

  3. Q: I can't get access with my Palm Pilot, what's going on?
    A: (Note: This is off the top of my head, if someone knows more details please help). Unfortunately this is a limitation of most browsers for palm pilots. Almost all of them do their web browsing via a proxy (which does some magic to format their pages for the small palm screen), and since the proxy isn't available before you authenticate it just can't work. Unfortunately there isn't anything we can do to make this work right now. However there is a free palm web browser which doesn't require a proxy called EudoraWeb. If it works for you please let us know so we can pass on the information to other PalmPilot users. 11/2003 With the release of the Tungsten C a few months back and with the Sandisks Wifi SDIO card many Palm can now fully enjoy the fruits of connectivity without conduits, proxies or clipping software.

  4. Q: I can't get access with my Pocket PC, is this caused by the same limitation with a Palm re the proxy?
    A: No, I have used our nodes with PocketPC 2000, and PocketPC 2002 on an iPaq. What is the problem you are having? Are you getting our splash screen? Does it have a login button on it?

  5. Q: When trying to access the web via the Pioneer Square node on PPC2000, there was no Login Button. Didn't get a chance to try with another web browser (which I believe was suggested). Recently purchased a PPC20002 with Wi-Fi built in and tried it for a few minutes. It didn't seem to want to get an IP from the node. But then, it doesn't at home with my SMC WAP either.
    A: I posted the previous question some months ago and just thought I would pass along the answer I discovered through trial and error: You may have to soft-reset your PDA to have it "get" an IP. Touchy.
    A2: On http://www.tucows.com, you can download the freeware vxIPConfig program for your PocketPC PDA which allows you to refresh DHCP. -- TedSeeber

  6. Q: When connect to a Personal Telco node my DNS settings are overwritten.
    A: Most likely you are running a Unix if you are having this problem. What's happening is that your DHCP client is overwriting your /etc/resolv.conf file with the settings most appropriate for the node you connected to. The best way to fix this problem is to enable DHCP everywhere you go and just let it overwrite your settings with the most appropriate settings wherever you are. If you don't like that then most clients have a setting which tell it not to do this. With pump you can tell it to leave your resolv.conf alone by running it like this (where eth0 should be replaced by whatever your ethernet/wireless interface is): # pump --no-dns -i eth0

New Questions

  1. Q: Does PersonalTelco have a news server if I want to cruise newsgroups?
    A: The PTPnet currently does not run its own newserver, though several nodes might have access to such via the ISPS they are using. Please ask the node admin for further details. Another solution is to use Google Groups, which covers many usenet groups plus deep archives of them to search. At some future time PTPnet might include local groups and feeds from outside groups, but as of Nov 2004 this is not even on the todo list.

  2. Q: I was initially able to access the WiFi at Costello's Travel Cafe, but now can't. I am using OSX on a Mac. The first time I got on the internet, I used it for a half hour or so without any problem. Does it have anything to do with my computer going to sleep and then waking up and trying to re-access? Others in the cafe can browse just fine. My Airport finds the www.personaltelco.net, but when I try to access it, a message says that I am unable to access it right now. What's going on?
    A: There typically is a 5 minute time-out in place on most of the nodes. If your laptop is idle for >=5 minutes, you'll have to open a browser and re-authorize by clicking on the 'I agree' button again. -- OhReally / NeedsUpdate? What's the time-out now? Is it the same on all the nodes? DanRasmussen

Please feel free to ask questions here. You can edit the page by clicking on the Edit link at the top of the page.

How can I get my node added to the "Hot Spots" page? We've got one set up at Boyd's Coffee on 11th and Flanders. It's free and open during store hours. http://www.boydscoffee.com -- What was this about? -- DanRasmussen

How can I connect to my company's Checkpoint VPN?

Can I request a certain TCP/IP port be opened on a few individual nodes? If so who should the request be sent to?



A collision of the Internet Book Mobile ( http://www.archive.org/texts/bookmobile.php ), the PersonalTelco Project , ProjectGutenberg and the spirit of PublicDomain works.

Project Team

Lead: TomHiggins


Installations which would serve up PublicDomain works up over wireless and cat5 connections with a few key sites offering printing services. These can act as repeater nodes or as machines hanging off already installed nodes.

Low cost and low maintainence computers with as few moving parts would be the best solution though that may not always be what can be afforded.

The main focus of these installations would be to serve up PublicDomain works. Secondary benefits include increased PTP wireless coverage, a potential place of community-centric information, and more.


Equipment Needs

Funds Needs



Just cause it's fun rather then it being relevant to PersonalTelco .... Everygeek has their favorite Sci/Fi books and authors. Free free to chat about whatever seems interesting., especially if they are predicting community wireless :-)

Bruce Sterling

One of the early gods of cyberpunk, these days he largely spends his time being a technological pundit and trying to do cool stuff. He earlier work (pre-early ninties) was cutting edge, political, relevant etc. IMHO his writing has lost his edge a bit these days and is mostly going over old ideas in more details without a whole lot new to say. His also has lots of short stories which are really good. Favorites are The Bicycle Repair Man and Maneki Neko. -- AdamShand

  • Involution Ocean (0441372066) - Great, but a first book not overly profound, mostly just fun.

  • The Artificial Kid (188886916X) - The first half is great, the second half spirals down into bizarness.

  • Schismatrix (0441003702)- My all time favoite Sci/Fi boook.

  • The Hacker Crackdown (055356370X)- A non-fiction book about the hacker crackdown by the feds in the 80's. Documentary style and no longer as relevant, at the time it was a hugely important book.

  • The Difference Engine (055329461X) - An amazingly cool idea (what if the Victorians had developed an information age basic on the Babbage engine). Unfortunately it's mostly written by William Gibson and suffers accordingly :-)

  • Islands in the Net (0877959528) - Good but a little more wordy and less intense then past books. A great view into a world controlled by corporations (but not the normal dark cyberpunk view).

  • Heavy Weather (055357292X)- His last really good book. Has precursors to his Viridian thinking.

    • I thought Zeitgeist and Distraction were both really cool, but not as idea dense as his previous stuff. more for sterling's excellent dialog and style. --AndrewWoods

    • I want to be the main character in Distraction, I loved that guy -- GeneMerrill

Neal Stephenson

The current cyberpunk god. Writes great, but typically long, books that are also pretty technical and accurate. Often his books desperatly need an editor to whack out a couple hundred pages but are good enough that they survived that flaw.

  • Oh come now, Cryptonomicon was the only book that really fits that description... -- GeneMerrill

  • The Big U - A first book and it shows. It's been out of print for a long time because Neal hated it and it was worth hundreded of dollars on Ebay. It was recently re-released (he decided that it was worse that people were paying obscene prices for it then to make more copies of it) so you can find it in book stores cheap. For those of us that had a copy off Ebay this really sucks.

  • Zodiac - Great, fun and fast paced. It bills itself as an ecological thriller, despite that it's a fun read.

  • Snow Crash - The book that put him on the map. Great ideas, great story, well worth reading.

  • The Diamond Age - Amazing ideas and thoughts about culture and nano-technology. However I thought it wasn't as well written and gets a little lost towards the end.

  • Cryptonomicon -- Long, overly long, in fact really needed about 300 pages removed from it, but still good. Basically it's like a geek soap opera, so if you're into geek stuff (especially WWII and crypto) it's pretty damn cool.

William Gibson

Acknowledged as one of (if not "the") originators of cyberpunk. Personally I think he has kickass ideas which are ruing by his absolutely dry and boring writing style. But that's just me :-) -- AdamShand

  • Neuromancer- I know I should read it, but I can just never stomach it. I've never made it more then half way through.

    • You might like the bridge trilogy (virtual light, idoru, all tomorrow's parties) a bit more, but some people have a problem with the holographic pop icon character. It's a little more coherent and makes a bit more sense than the sprawl stories.

    • I've tried to read them as well, without any more luck. There is something about his writing style that just rubs me the wrong way. -- Adam.
    • How about his short stories? Burning Chrome has many gems and his prose is a little easier to take in small doses. I admit it took me a couple times to get thru Neuro (I skipped to Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive then came back to it) but once I did, I loved it. -- GeneMerrill

Personally, I think cyberpunk as a genre is mostly dead, but the works of its writers are still extremely important. well, for SF, anyway. Sterling had a zine back in the 80s, that basically cast the cyberpunk-led groundswell against the old hackish space opera crap. He makes a good point. The battle continues. --AndrewWoods

Hell yes important, and I don't fathom how it can be called dry. Do you want a smoking electric orgasm in every paragraph? Not a healthy nervous system could take that. In context, Gibson is a major shift; just because you live after it (we're all a bit post-human) don't discount what it took to conceptualize it. Definitely see the documentary NoMapsForTheseTerritories. --JerrittCollord

Vernor Vinge

Mostly recognized in cypher/cyberpunk circles for his novella, True Names (0312862075) Amazon:. Published 3 years before Neuromancer, TN establishes several important concepts, like immersive virtual reality, the importance of anonymity, the dangers and consequences of excessive governmental power, etc. etc. It was out of print for quite a long time, and was recently collected along with a bunch of essays by the likes of Marvin Minsky, Tim May, Chip Morningstar, and Eric S. Raymond. I have a copy floating around somewhere, if anybody wants to borrow it. He's also a promulgator of the technological singularity, and his other books are above-average hard SF space stories.

  • Vinge's most widely read other books (and deservedly so) are A Fire Upon the Deep and A Deepness in the Sky, Hugo award winners for best novel of 1993 and 2000, respectively. Fresh stuff - his "Zones of Thought" universe is very satisfyingly different from the mainstream, and a refreshing discovery if you've not read him before --CatonGates

    Wow, I just found this which references Vinge's "True Names" book. Makes me want to read it. -- AdamShand

Greg Egan

Greg Egan is a worthless hack. Permutation City is the worst possible attempt to cash in on the cyberpunk trend. ugh.

  • Greg Egan can be pretty OK. YMMV :) --CatonGates

  • I have to agree with Caton. While I wouldn't put Egan up with the "greats", I wouldn't call him a hack either. -- AdamShand

Greg Bear

The other greg's written some good stuff, Eon (and its sequels), Blood Music, and Slant, first among them. Slant's his most cyberpunkish book that i've read.

Melissa Scott

SF Writer that happens to deal with gender/sexuality issues in an intelligent way. Personal favorite is Trouble and her Friends, though it's been a while since I've read it.

Philip K. Dick

Take a troubled childhood (death of his twin sister at a month old, foster parents, etc), add a generous helping of amphetamine addiction and a heaping tablespoon of paranoia and you have the best sf author of all time: Philip K. Dick. His changing writing styles and exploration of the very nature of reality expose a true creative genius.

Movies based on Dick's work: Blade Runner (yay!), Total Recall (boo, hiss!) and Minority Report (yay!). Others?

  • Impostor, although I haven't seen it. -Drew.

If you're new to Philip K. Dick, start with these:

  • Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep - Blade Runner was based on this book and while the movie is excellent, the book has a totally different feel.

    • I thought it was interesting the differences between the movie and the book. To me it seemed that the fundamental premise of the movie was that if a robot was "human" in all measurable ways why wasn't it "human". Yet the book dealt with the much more challenging issues of fathoming exactly what "humanity" was and seemed to take the stance that no matter how life like, a robot could never be "human". -- AdamShand

  • Ubik - Psychological thriller where time moves backwards.

  • The Main In The High Castle - Takes place in America occupied by Axis forces. A true mind bender (but then again this can be said for all of his work). Won a Hugo in '63.

  • Flow My Tears The Policeman Said - a celebrity loses his identity in a futuristic police state built on paranoia, suspicion and deceit.

  • A Scanner Darkly - My favorite. An undercover narcotics agent, anonymous to his superiors, is assigned to surveill his false identity. This, as you'd expect, is a bit of a mindjob. A movie's in the works, with Richard Linklater (the guy that did "waking life" - the only possible person that could do this right, other than terry gilliam) directing.

You think you've read all of his works? Think again. He's got 36 novels and 5 short story collections. And his short stories contain some of his best work. Read every single one of them. The movies based on his work have sparked recent interest in Dick and many of his works have been re-released. Previously unpublished material has been collected and published in The Shifting Realities of Philip K. Dick: Selected Literary and Philosophical Writings, and there are also collections of his letters which are mostly out of print but findable at used booksellers.

If you need to be jarred out of your comfortable little world, and don't mind walking around in a haze for the better part of a week while your mind processes a new way of looking at reality, PKD is just what the doctor (in this case a mad scientist) ordered. -- GeneMerrill

Orson Scott Card

His Alvin Maker series is excellent, Memory of Earth is pretty good too... but Ender's Game is by far his most popular book, and a book devoured by many an elementary school pre-geek. Also check out Lost Boys (sorry, no vampires) for a touching piece of fiction with autobiographical roots. -- GeneMerrill

Octavia Butler

She's not on most geek's sf radar, but Wild Seed is one of my favorite books of all time, and contains the best first chapter in speculative fiction. I dare you to pick this book up in a library or bookstore and put it down after reading even the first paragraph.

Her collection of short stories, Blood Child, is not to be missed. You'll remember some of these stories for the rest of your life. I think I've read all of her novels, but if anyone knows of any rare or early works let me know. (I thought I'd read all of Stephenson's books until Adam told me about The Big U)

She is among the rare sf authors who combine idea and character. Her novels argue for the need of our race to take to the stars, and to take more care both with our planet and the people that live on it; but mostly her work explores what it means to be human. -- GeneMerrill



Wiki's lack of HardSecurity has meant that they have developed a slightly different notion of security which they call SoftSecurity. It is designed to protect the system while interferring as little as possible with the under users ability to participate.

Below is a message from AdamShand to the MailingList discussing why he thinks it's important for CommunityNetworks to adopt this philosophy. It needs to be cleaned up and refactored into something a little more coherant. In the mean time it's better then nothing :-)

> Can access to an AP be restricted by MAC address?

not all ap's support this feature but many do. however it's not not very good authentication because it's trivial to spoof a mac address. in fact i've been told that the old lucent drivers for windows actually have a box where the user can type in whatever they like for their mac address.

{{{> If so couldn't a person "sign up" for access via a web site > where they enter their MAC address (or the website somehow reads > it). We would then have a database of MAC address and all of > the APs could be updated via a script to allow the new user access. > > I'm not sure if this follows the discussion but it would be a type > of authentication.}}}

it certainly would be a type of authentication. here's where i will rant though. :-)

wiki's have a notion of SoftSecurity. the basic idea is that where security can't make a differnece, it shouldn't. further that as much as possible security should be behind the scene and influence the user as little as possible.

it takes a while for the true import of this to sink in but once it does it's pretty profound (at least it was for me coming from *very* security conscious environments).

so, lets examine this idea. the first premise is that you are building an *OPEN* network, and that you want people who you don't know (and inherently can't trust) to be able to easily access it. now if you want to be able to authenticate users you have to allow them to create accounts some how, you have two options:

  • users can self provision accounts in realtime (like an account on slashdot or whatever).
  • users have to register via some trust mechanism which makes them "known" (eg. someone sponsors them, you take a credit card, make them come to a meeting etc).

if you do the second one then you you do indeed by yourself some increased security (or at least auditability). if nothing else you have a chance of tracking down their physical presence and kicking their ass or calling the cops. however you've just made your network *MUCH* less open. if you do credit card checks you exclude children and some adults, if you do adress or sponsor checks you exclude the random well intentioned traveler how just happens to be passing by and wants to check their email for 30 minutes.

if you do the first one, then you give the appearance of security (they have an account you can disable) but there is absolutely nothing to stop them from signing up with anohter account 5 minutes after you disable the first one.

so ... given that. we made the decision long ago to deliberatly leave the network open and to trust people. we are developing the idea of NetworkSoftSecurity and are working on ways to stop users from being "bad" and protect node operators liability without interferring with the end users experience or buying ourselves management hassle.

i really need to put this up on the wiki somewhere so i stop writing it over and over :-)




Overview of wiki categories, started by -- DanRasmussen Some stuff here could be deleted and other stuff ought to be updated

  1. CategoryAdvisoryBoard - only 9 items. possibly a reasonable category, if we can keep it up to date

  2. CategoryBeWitched - old. historical/updatable/deletable?

  3. CategoryCategory - useful

  4. CategoryCommunity

  5. CategoryDamnYouKeegan - haha, great use of category concept

  6. CategoryDocumentation - great stuff, much of which could be more useful if updated!

  7. CategoryDunWireless - obsolete, do something about this

  8. CategoryEducation

  9. CategoryEmpty - obsolete, empty, delete

  10. CategoryExample - stale, but maybe ok

  11. CategoryFormerNode - -- DanRasmussen suspects there are more former nodes than listed here

  12. CategoryGlossary

  13. CategoryGoogle - Only 3 pages. -- DanRasmussen doubtful as to whether Google deserves its own category.

  14. CategoryHardware

  15. CategoryHomepage - homepages of every PTP volunteer ever. Wish it made some distinction between current and non. 167 items!

  16. CategoryLegal - legal information

  17. CategoryMan - "Metropolitan Area Network"

  18. CategoryMeetingNotes

  19. CategoryNetwork

  20. CategoryNoCat

  21. CategoryNode - WOW, huge list! Perhaps huge to the point of irrelevancy, even.

  22. CategoryNodeBehindNat - obsolete (?)

  23. CategoryNodeDetails

  24. CategoryNuCab - Links to 3 pages! NewCloneArmyBox, NuCab and https://personaltelco.net/wiki/CurrentNucabInfrastructure . Likely obsolete, but probably historically interesting. Delete this category.

  25. CategoryPersonalTelco - HUGE category. Revisit later.

  26. CategoryPersonalTelcoSpecialInterestGroup

  27. CategoryPhilosophy - interesting, could use update

  28. CategoryPlayDay - would be cool if we still did these. That's technically what SkyPilotDay was, no?

  29. CategoryPortland - could use update

  30. CategoryPresentation - mostly CategoryHistorical at this point

  31. CategoryPropaganda -

  32. CategorySig - note that none of these are currently operational. But maybe a good idea to keep around. They probably *should* be operational..

    1. PublicRelations - empty!

    2. NonTechnical - obsolete/boring. Wonder if title turns off "non-technical" volunteers...

    3. AccessPointSig - this page is pretty technical looking. Useful though. But probably better to update the Handbook...

    4. UserNodeSig - empty!

  33. CategorySkyPilot - only three pages here, but still relevant, hopefully? Or delete..

  34. CategorySoftware - lots of content, come back later

  35. CategoryTeeShirt - I'm guessing this is deletable!

  36. CategoryTemplate - useful info pertaining to MoinMoin usage. But don't know if "Template" deserves its own category for our purposes - probably CategoryWiki does just fine..

  37. CategoryUnknown - empty/useless/obsolete

  38. CategoryVendor - empty/useless/obsolete

  39. CategoryVoip - I wish this category had more current, and more, information. It's a great application for PersonalTelco's technology!

  40. CategoryWeekly - Be useful if this were reverse sorted to show more recent meetings first!

  41. CategoryWifiBox - There is some interesting (historical) info in this category, and lots of obsolete crap that links to missing pages...

  42. CategoryWiki - useful


Below is AdamShand's response to repeated questions by journalists asking various versions of the question "So since you guys are sharing bandwidth, doesn't that piss off the ISP's?". The short answer is "It shouldn't piss off the ISP's if they have any vision.", the longer version is below.

  • ISP's sell "unlimited" bandwidth connections to residential consumers.
  • This is a marketing lie (and has been since unlimited dial-up accounts first appeared). ISP's can't afford to let you use all your bandwidth (or stay on a modem line 24x7) because the way they make money is by over subscribing their resources.
  • Over subscribing (within reason) is a totally legit method of building out network infrastructure.
  • Because it's a competitive disadvantage to offer "metered" internet access (which is really what ISP's want to sell) they are trying to enforce EULA (end user license agreement) style restrictions similar to those in place in the software industry.
  • They'd like us to not actually be buying bandwidth, but rather buying the right (ie. a license) to use a certain percentage of our bandwidth so long as we abide by their restrictions (no resale, no home network, no wireless, no sharing, no servers ... whatever).
  • This is bullshit. What I want to purchase with my X dollars a month is bandwidth, not a license which permits me to use the bandwidth delivered to my house under certain conditions.
  • As a group we are researching ISP's usage agreements (see IspWirelessPolicies), and speaking to ISP's representatives, until we find the ones that are willing to sell us what we want to buy (Easy Street, in Portland, seems to be willing and interested in working with us).

  • We are happy to abide by reasonable terms of service and pay more when our usage increases.
  • In the mean time, so long as the over all bandwidth usage of my DSL connection doesn't change significantly because I'm sharing it, I believe that it's NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS what I do with MY BANDWIDTH.
  • If ISP's believe that they have the right to dictate how I use what I purchase they better be prepared to re-word their access agreements and accept the possible loss of business and poor PR that may result.

We believe that the above philosphy allows us to stick within both the letter and the spirit of the law as well as leave us in a good position to honestly work with local ISP's to find a mutually benificial arrangement.


  • Interesting quote from an MSNBC article. It quotes Michael Powell who is the chairman of the FCC. -- AdamShand

    • "Traditional broadband providers cry foul when users take their cable modem or DSL connections and beam them to friends, family and passsers-by through Wi-Fi networks. "It constitutes a theft of service per our user agreement," says AT&T Broadband's Sarah Eder. But at least one very important observer doesn't buy that. "I don't think it's stealing by any definition of law at the moment," says FCC chairman Michael Powell. "The truth is, it's an unintended use."

[CategoryPhilosophy] [CategoryPropaganda]


Recently there has been much talk about exactly how, and to what, Community Networks should provide access. One thing that most people agree on is that getting money involved makes things more complicated, but there's no real agreement as to at what point this becomes bad. This has been discussed on the MailingLists and at ForFreeVsForProfit. Here are some thoughts on what we could accomplish and some of the problems there may be.

Our AcceptableUse agreement should be a translation of the GNU General Public License. We can't directly use the GPL because the issues involved are different but an agreement which takes the spirit of the GPL and translates it into a pertinent document would be ideal. In effect we are creating the beginnings of a FreeNetworkFoundation.

  • We say we want it to be free, but what exactly does free mean? Free as in no money? Free as in freedom?
  • If we want it to be free (as in freedom) what does that mean? Any one can use it? There's no sign up barrier? No one is monitoring or restricting your traffic?
  • In the minds of many people free equals worthless, and a perception of worthless means that it's not valued and thus not looked after (see TheTragedyOfTheCommons).

  • What if membership costs something but doesn't cost money, is this still free enough? Maybe you have to put up a node? Maybe you have to come to a meeting? What else?
  • With FreeSoftware it doesn't cost you anything for another person to use your software, with CommunityNetworking every byte that someone sends is a byte that someone else potentially can't.

  • There are no economies of scale. With FreeSoftware more eyes means more bugs found etc, with CommunityNetworking all it means is more users to support and less bandwidth for everyone.

In my opinion, being free means that anybody can join without having to use particular hardware or software or paying anybody money. There are protocols that must be followed and agreements that must be kept, but they should be as easy to follow. "We use IP and a router must not intentionally misroute packets." This means the network will not be secure, which means you should something like ssh, ssl, or VPN. People are free to use this network to make money. In particular, ISPs will probably sell you access to the internet for a small fee, and we don't mind them using the free network as their connection to their customers as long as they follow the rules of the group about routing packets inside the city.

There are economies of scale. As more nodes join the group, there become more paths through the system and more total bandwidth. Bandwidth inside the network is what counts. If we need more bandwidth to the internet, people will need to buy more from the ISPs. -- RalphJohnson

Just for the record I know that there are many OpenSource fans that loath the GPL because of it's viral licensing. I like the viral licensing and I think that the arguments that the GPL is "less free" is basically FUD, it's like arguing that the USA is "less free" because of the first amendment. Freedom comes from the enforcement of a few carefully selected laws, not from the removal of all laws. -- AdamShand

I am very attracted to the free speech aspect of this and have been thinking about how to retain freedom if free speech on the wired Internet goes away (DMCA, SSSCA, Hollings mischief). The weakness of the wired Internet in this regard is that the thick pipes are single points of failure in the hands of small numbers of easily identified organizations. I started to think about grassroots thick pipes a little bit in a Usenet thread. Would it make sense to put microwave dishes on tops of poles or towers? Is that unreasonably expensive? -- WillWare

  • I browsed your Usenet thread, good stuff. There is an AdhocRouting protocol called GRID (By RTM of Internet Worm fame) which does use latitude and longitude as part of the routing metric. I think the the people who responded to you hadn't done a lot of thinking about the nature of an adhoc wireless network. Their comments were very true when dealing with a traditional network (distance between nodes isn't a good metric for routing on a wired internet). However given that wireless, especially LineOfSite protocols like 802.11b, is inherently geograhpicly based I think that using lat/long as part of the metric makes a lot of sense. There are other metrics that make sense in a wireless network as well like paying more attention to packet loss (because packet loss represents a bad wireless link) or even better paying attention directly to wireless stats on attached interfaces (like noise level and signal strenght stats).

    All of this is part of why I think it's crucial that we find or build LinuxAccessPoints so that we can take advantage of everything that the hardware offers us rather then being tied into the offerings of a commercial AccessPoint (which tend to be consumer oriented and thus not very flexible).

    You might be interested in poking around the MetaNet and MappingSoftware pages. I think cordinating all of this information we get from nodes, users, the CaptivePortal etc is going to be essential to building a community of any size. -- AdamShand

A new category of T.A.Z. (Temporary Autonomous Zone)...


--- Anon


PhilosophyOnePage (last edited 2012-03-31 12:18:09 by DanRasmussen)