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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Fake FEMA press conference

Posted By on Sat, Oct 27, 2007 at 11:44 AM

I don't have any witty analysis. I just want to make sure that people hear about this creepy, underhanded Totalitarian tactic that thankfully failed.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Social Media, Vermont News

Posted By on Fri, Oct 26, 2007 at 11:51 AM

Two brief updates today. Sorry I'm not more prolific. I'm up to my eyeballs in a major project that we'll be unveiling in the not-too-distant future.

First thing — check out the article on Champlain prof. Elaine Young in today's Burlington Free Press. And look — they even embedded a link to her blog in the article. Nice.

Second thing — I got a notice today that WCAX is following my Twitter feed. Smart! Apparently, our local TV station has a Twitter feed of their own. They won't find out much by following mine, though. I don't update very often.

I thought about setting up a Twitter feed for Seven Days, but I haven't, because we really only have a batch of new content on Wednesdays. Anybody think I should do it anyway?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

More on Tim Nulty's Resignation from Burlington Telecom

Posted By on Tue, Oct 23, 2007 at 1:23 PM

Our news editor, Patrick Ripley, made some phone calls yesterday to find out more about Tim Nulty's departure from Burlington Telecom. Here's the story that will appear in tomorrow's newspaper (and online):

Opportunity Knocking . . . Elsewhere?
Head of Burlington Telecom steps down

by Patrick Ripley

BURLINGTON — Is the City of Burlington thinking big enough about its telecommunications business? Not according to the longtime and soon-to-be-former head of Burlington Telecom.
       BT General Manager Tim Nulty handed Mayor Bob Kiss his resignation Monday morning, opting to accept a job with ValleyNet. That White River Junction-based nonprofit communications group is dedicated to providing community-based information resources similar to the fiber-optic infrastructure BT provides. Nulty says he is accepting a “significant” cut in pay to go to ValleyNet. His last day on the job at BT is November 21.
       Based on BT’s initial success — 2200 subscribers, a $2.7 million annual revenue and rapid growth rate — Nulty says BT is poised to expand into, and earn revenue from, other communities. But he’s encountered resistance from Mayor Kiss, he says, citing “nervousness” and “political pushback.” Kiss decided earlier this month to hold off on BT’s growth outside Burlington. Nulty doesn’t want to wait around and let the opportunity pass. The municipally owned network is “the first, it’s the best, it’s the biggest, but it’s not the only game in town,” he warns.
       The mayor insists the city is still considering BT’s expansion, just not yet. He says he would like to see more Burlington households enrolled in the program before committing to growth outside the city limits — BT is still in the process of building infrastructure in Burlington. “I think everything is in place for Burlington to be a success story,” suggests Kiss. “As we get closer to our goals, we will share the hub with other communities . . . I think that’s a prudent process.”
       BT Marketing Sales and Customer Service Manager Richard Donnelly notes that municipal government processes can sometimes be at odds with entrepreneurial ventures. “Burlington [Telecom] certainly could expand,” says Donnelly. “Now it’s time to explore that, and I don’t think that work should stop [just] because Tim has moved to an organization that is ready to do that tomorrow.”
       For his part, Nulty is sure “other flowers are going to bloom” soon, as he puts it, and even more sure he’s going to be there to smell the roses, whether the City of Burlington gets a whiff or not.

Alt-weeklies protest Arizona officials' abuse of power

Posted By on Tue, Oct 23, 2007 at 1:03 PM

Yikes! This post doesn't have much to do with the 802, but if you support governmental transparency and the freedom of the press, I think you'll find it interesting.

Below is a press release from the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, our trade association. Apparently one of our members, the Phoenix New Times , pissed off a county sheriff a few years back. In the course of an investigation into some suspicious real estate deals, they put his home address on their website. The sheriff's home address is available elsewhere online, but he convinced a political ally to investigate the paper anyway, and last week, the Phoenix New Times founders were arrested.

A bunch of AAN members — including Seven Days — are showing solidarity with the Phoenix New Times by linking to all of these places where you can find this guy's home address online.

Here's the press release from AAN:

Member papers of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies (AAN) this weekare providing links on their websites that direct their readers to the manyplaces on the internet where the home address of Maricopa County Sheriff JoeArpaio is listed.

AAN papers are doing so to show solidarity with the Phoenix New Times, whichwas threatened with felony prosecution for publishing Sheriff Arpaio'saddress on its website in 2004. After an adjoining jurisdiction declined topress charges, Arpaio's political ally, Maricopa County Attorney AndrewThomas, convened a grand jury to "investigate" charges the paper broke thelaw when it published Sheriff Arpaio's address.

Last week, Phoenix New Times' founders Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin werearrested and jailed after the paper published a story about the grand juryand subpoenas they had received that demanded detailed internet records ofany person who had visited the newspaper's website since 2004, as well asall notes and records from any reporter who had written about the sheriff inthe preceding three years.

After Larkin and Lacey were arrested an outpouring of shock and angeraccompanied widespread media coverage of the case. The response created agroundswell of support for New Times. The charges were dropped less than 24hours later after Thomas admitted that his office had made "seriousmissteps" in the case.

"The actions of Mr. Thomas and Sheriff Arpaio in this case are beyondoutrageous," said AAN executive director Richard Karpel. "They abused theiroffices by engaging in Gestapo-like tactics designed to silence a newspaperthat has been highly critical of them in the past."

Added AAN First Amendment Chair Tim Redmond, executive editor of the SanFrancisco Bay Guardian: "Our association and its members won't tolerate thissort of attack on the right of a member paper to publish information that isand ought to be public record."

"This was a victory for the First Amendment, the constitution and for ourreaders right to read our newspaper without the government spying uponthem," said Larkin and Lacey in a joint statement. "As the federal pressshield legislation moves from the House to the Senate, we hope people willremember what happened to reporters, editors and readers in Phoenix."

Phoenix New Times has published dozens of stories critical of both Thomasand Arpaio. In fact, the paper maintains an archive on its website of itscoverage of Arpaio since he was elected sheriff in 1992.

New Times published Arpaio's home address in a story arguing that he abuseda state law that allows law enforcement officials to keep their addressesfrom being made public. New Times said Arpaio used the law to hide nearly $1million in cash real-estate transactions.

Thomas convened a grand jury to investigate the case even though Arpaio'shome address was then and continues to be easily accessible on a number ofother websites, including the Maricopa County Recorder's official website(see first link below):

recorder.maricopa.gov/CampaignFinance/CampFinDocsSelect.aspx?CandidateId=970003&FileYear=2004 (click "2004 Financial Disclosure Statement" forPDF)






Arpaio continues to resist New Times' request for information relating tohis real estate holdings.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Tim Nulty Resigning from Burlington Telecom

Posted By on Mon, Oct 22, 2007 at 10:44 AM

I was away in Chicago for a wedding on Saturday, and when I got back, I had an email in my inbox from Burlington Telecom director Tim Nulty. I wrote an extensive story about Nulty a couple years ago, back when BT was getting off the ground. I was surprised to hear that he's leaving.

I passed this news along to our news editor, but figured I'd also post it on my blog. We haven't spoken with anyone at BT yet, and will post more as the story develops. For now, here's an excerpt from Nulty's letter of resignation:

I am hereby tendering my resignation as General Manager of Burlington Telecom.  To ensure a smooth transition, the effective date will be 30 days hence, or November 21, 2007.

The reasons for my decision are three:

a)  BT is now a strong, mature institution which is financially, technically and operationally capable of completing its mission with respect to the City of Burlington.  It is, as you know, cash-flow positive for operations (a major milestone for high-tech start-ups) with over 2200 subscribers and approximately $2.7 mln in annual revenue.  Further, it is adding between 40 – 50 subscribers and over $50,000 of annual revenue each week.  By the beginning of 2008  the main network “build-out” will be complete with approximately 93% of Burlington homes passed and plans in motion for the remaining “bits and pieces”.  In short, BT is firmly on track to reach its goal of universal service and overall positive cash flow (i.e. “profitability”) by the end of 2008.  While no road is entirely smooth in so dynamic a business as BT’s, I see no roadblocks or potholes ahead that the existing professional team cannot handle in stride.  Thus, for this final push to the finish line, my contribution is not essential.  The existing team is fully capable of completing the final lap successfully without me—provided they are allowed to do the job unimpeded and without interference.    Given these facts, I feel I can leave BT with pride in a job well done and a clear conscience that I am leaving an institution fully able to look after itself.

b)  The BT project has demonstrated the viability and desirability of publicly owned, universal, open-access fiber-to-the-premise telecommunications networks.  Such networks are the “electronic public roads” of the future and proving their feasibility is a major contribution to our society.  Having established this important principle, I would like to spend the remainder of my working life building other such networks elsewhere in Vermont where they are needed.

c)  I have concluded that Burlington Telecom, as a pure City Department, is not an optimal platform from which to do this.  This is not a criticism—merely a statement of fact.   City Departments are ill suited to provide complex, entrepreneurial services to other towns many miles away.  That is simply not what they are created, structured or empowered to do.   

In conclusion, I wish to say how much I have enjoyed working on this project.  I certainly never imagined when I “retired” to Vermont in 2001 that such a move would initiate one of the most satisfying and rewarding periods in a long working life which has had many rewarding and satisfying periods!!  I am very proud of the network, the institution and the team that we have built and I believe that it will be a major positive factor in the economic and cultural life of Burlington for (at least) the entire century to come.   

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

LouTube Nation

Posted By on Wed, Oct 17, 2007 at 7:07 PM

Last week, I posted a clever YouTube video about the Davis Center at UVM. I actually ended up doing some research on it, and learned that it was filmed by a senior political science/film and TV studies major, Louis Armistead.

I chatted with Lou a bit last week, and ended up writing about him and his video in my "Web Page" column in the newspaper. I also talked with Pat Brown, the Director of Student Life and the Davis Center, who called Lou's video "one person’s opinion, and sort of a tongue-in-cheek approach to some feelings about the Davis Center.”

Brown didn't seem to think it was as funny as I did. Can't blame him, though, really.

The Davis Center video is actually one of many that Lou has made during his career at UVM. I ended up watching most of them on his YouTube channel, which he calls "LouTubeNation." I think my favorite is probably "Full Dorm," a parody of the opening credits of "Full House."

Good work, Lou! I'll definitely be checking back for more (though not until I return from my long weekend in Chicago!).

Monday, October 15, 2007

Which Dyke To Watch Out For are you?

Posted By on Mon, Oct 15, 2007 at 10:45 AM

I'm a long-time fan of Bolton resident Alison Bechdel's comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For, (I'm also Alison's former assistant). I read her blog regularly, and just came across this clever quiz. Which Dyke are you?

You don't actually have to be gay to take the test. In fact, it has very little to do with being gay. And I have to say, it's pretty much accurate. I've always thought I was more Stuart than Mo. And like Clarice, my hairstyle has not changed much in a decade...

Which Dyke to Watch Out For Are You?
created with QuizFarm.com
You scored as Clarice

You are Clarice, a driven, liberal, workaholic lawyer. The Bush Administration has caused you a lot of anxiety lately. You have orders to cut one volunteer commitment and spend more time playing GTA3 with your son Raffi.















Friday, October 12, 2007

Even Better Vermont YouTube of the Day

Posted By on Fri, Oct 12, 2007 at 12:22 PM

This may be the best one yet. A UVM student's satirical report from the new Davis Student Center. Thanks, Richard!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Clever Email Bounce Message

Posted By on Fri, Oct 5, 2007 at 12:14 PM

Our email newsletter, Notes on the Weekend (NOW) goes out every Thursday. As soon as it goes, I get all the automated replies telling me who's on vacation, who's out of the office this week, etc.

This week, I got a bunch of identical messages from UVM accounts. I suspect that the university just canceled email accounts for a bunch of their alumni. Whatever the reason, all of the automated replies contained the same clever little poem:

My account was here, but now is not.
Your message, lost, the words forgot.
To contact me now,
I hope you know how,
Otherwise, contact me you will not.

Translation: This account has been closed and all mail is being rejected.

I was bummed to see that we lost a couple dozen newsletter subscribers, but this made me smile.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

I found a new vlog

Posted By on Tue, Oct 2, 2007 at 12:35 PM

It's made by Raymond, a Scottish guy who lives in Port Henry, New York. The first episode is a bit long, but he's funny. And he has a lot of pets. A dog, four cats, some fish, a lizard and some hermit crabs. Here's his channel page.

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