I am not happy with the way Eskimo North has evolved, or for that matter the Internet in general. As with humanity in general, it's my belief that we have capacities that we haven't begun to tap. I'm going to go into a bit of my personal history here because it explains a bit about the strange person I am and why I feel the way I do about some things and particularly how that relates to Eskimo.
I as born in 1958, and raised by adoptive parents. My biological parents felt they were unable to support another child and gave me up for adoption and I was adopted four days after birth.
My earliest memory, and I know there are people who say the brain isn't developed enough to have memories at that age but this memory is vivid none the less and it's very visual and when I was younger I had a very strong visual memory. One of the things that made electronics a field that was easy for me is that I could look at a schematic and see it in my head after that. That ability peaked in my mid 20's.
My parents had a pet monkey, I think they called it a spider monkey, it was a small monkey of some sort; when they brought me home they had it in a cage in the laundry room. They got rid of it right after they brought me home at the advice of our doctor. My mother brought me down into the laundry room, and I can remember seeing this monkey in the cage defecate and it was like it had the runs and I remember an emotional feeling that it was gross but at the same time being unaware of my own state.
From that point, memories are mostly vague, but I can remember crawling around on the living room floor and trying to get up on the couch with the big people but I wasn't tall enough to get up on the cushions so I would pull myself up between the cushion and the supporting structure and my parents would get annoyed and put me back on the floor. I can remembering understanding what they said to me at that time but not knowing how to speak back and it being very frustrating.
After those early memories the next really big thing that impressed me was the Worlds Fair and the Seattle Center and in particular the Science Center. They didn't complete construction of everything in time for the fair so there were plywood walkways and other things setup, but science center itself was absolutely fascinating. I would have been not quite four years old at that time. I remember a section in the science center that had a circular moving carpet type of thing and they had to the right side a steam rocket, a rocket on a cable that lauched by sending steam out the exhaust, and on the left they had a wall with rear slide projectors projecting onto a frosted glass.
At the time, I didn't understand that of coarse, it was just magical full color pictures changing on the wall, the the way the light had that specular quality caused by the frosted glass, I don't know why but that just fascinated me. But that steam rocket, the idea that we humans could travel into space, perhaps to other planets, wow.
By the time I was in 4th grade, we had people walking on the moon. I can remember back then listening to the radio, KJR Seattle, channel 95 AM, when it was a pop music, what they used to call "top-40" station, a native American woman called and proclaimed that when we went to the moon it would mean bad things for us. At the time I felt concerned that maybe she was right, now it does seem like things have gone to hell in a hand basket, but I don't think it was the result of our walking on the moon so much as our attitude, that we weren't thankful for having been permitted to do so and for doing it not for the betterment of mankind, but rather out of a sense of competitions with the Soviets.
None the less, I felt that it was a great accomplishment, even if the motivation was wrong, and that if we continued we could have a truly great future ahead of us. But we didn't, we dropped that program and we've never really pursued a space program in earnest since that time.
I feel that we've got so much unrealized potential and I want to see this change. Obama gives me some hope because I have a sense that he, like myself, can see that there is much unrealized human potential and wants to see us realize some of that potential.
But ultimately, lately I've looked at what I've done, what have I done personally to make this happen and what can I do personally to make this happen, and I've come to the conclusions, not nearly enough, and a lot more.
I believe that I there are two little corners of the world where I can help more than I have; one area is that I've got quite a bit of electronics, computer, and telecommunications knowledge. If I can more effectively share that knowledge then I can help others contribute to positive change. But it's not just my knowledge, it's everybodies knowledge, I want to help people share what they know. I haven't used what I know effectively to those ends recently. Eskimo started out with a good sense of community but that has faded, and I really want to find ways to get that back and help people acquire skills that will help them communicate more effectively as well as skills that can help them in the modern labor market.
Sometimes just trying to survive gets in the way of living and that's happened both in my personal life and in Eskimo as a business. Businesses as a whole have nationalized or even globalized; and it was necessary in my view to do that in order to remain at all competitive; but on our scale that meant using national port wholesalers to provide dial-up and national or large regional backbone providers to back haul DSL circuit data, and that's resulting in some frustration because only a small percentage of those carriers really have the quality and customer service that I want to be able to provide.
Another thing that I have issues with is that high end telecommunications is only affordable by relatively high income folks, and that denies the advantage of those higher end services from people who really need all the advantages they can get. But the ability to provide these higher end services at lower cost is limited by our scale; we can't take advantage of the economies of scale that larger providers can.
Lastly, when I started this, it was fun. It's become decidedly less so as I've gotten older and I want to find ways to change that. Largely what made it fun early on was the social aspects and that life didn't depend upon it so it wasn't so critical.
So, I've given a great deal of thought to where I want to go with this and started in that direction. In order to try to reduce the cost of services, I've added some advertisements to our website; these help offset some of the costs but so far not enough, but there is potential for them to contribute more. In particular right now we have a number of domains going to the same web page. But Google only will index one domain if the content is substantially the same.
At the same time people have different preferences and we have some very diverse customer segments. So my thought is by taking the various domains we can make websites with different appeals. Some people like very simplistic site that just gives them what they need as directly as possible. They're the type that like to drive a car but don't want to work on the engine, they just want to get where they're trying to go.
So my thought is we'll gear one site towards that group, with web applications and products clearly displayed but without a lot of in-depth information unless you ask for it, a limited number of items to choose from.
Other people are much more technically oriented, and so we can make one of those sites more geared towards that group with in-depth technical descriptions and more items on the main page, many pointers to learning resources, etc.
There are people with dial-up or slow wireless access, and there are people with broadband access; so we can make a set of those pages more geared towards dial-up, text intensive, and sparse on glitz, and sites geared towards broadband users that exploit capabilities such as video, audio, more extensive graphics, for a more intense experience. I think there is a lot of potential for video and audio to teach and help people learn how to do various things here.
So creating separate sites that are specifically geared towards these different groups I think will help provide an interface any given person is most comfortable with, while also providing more exposure on the net, but then I want to find common ways to tie them together so people can interact no matter what site they are on. But that's something we're working on now on the websites here.
Then I also want to focus more on things which are products we create and control, as opposed to products that we are acting more as a reseller, and the hosting products are things we can create and control; and towards that end, I'm working on virtual servers so that people will be able to lease a server and have complete root access on that server so they can install and configure whatever software they want to within of coarse legal bounds and values. I don't want them to be used for spamming, spreading malware or scams, in short anything negative, so we will try to prevent that as much as possible. But it will be either Linux or BSD, modern versions, and that will make many things possible such as many e-commerce applications that aren't possible now.
It will also make things possible that wouldn't have been from a security standpoint by having the protections of virtualization to isolate one persons misbehaving application from others. In other words, it's an option where if you were to say put an e-commerce application on your server; if someone else had sniffing software on theirs, they wouldn't be able to see what's happening on yours. With everybody on one server, we can't allow root access or one person could access everyone else's programs and data, either to snoop or to damage; but this will allow capabilities while preventing that sort of abuse.
Lastly, it will provide a sandbox that can be used to help people learn about Linux and potentially other operating systems and computer languages. It will allow people to build kernels, play with parameters, reboot their virtual server; and if they toast it we can re-image and restore it and I think there is significant potential in this.
And then another area of interest, I want to explore streaming audio and video, and I am particularly interested in real time, the ability to actually broadcast in real time, over the net, radio was really my first interest and now I have a new ability to explore it on the Internet. So I hope to figure out how to do this and then to share that and make that available to others.
I really want to build a community again, and to that end, I want to build some sort of social networking capabilities. I've looked at a lot of other models on the Internet and although there are many aspects of them I like, none of them are what I feel are ideal. One of the biggest issues I have with existing services in this area are that they are almost universally slow and I think this is largely due to the use of high level tools programming tools that are too abstracted from the underlying hardware and thus implement their services extremely inefficiently, and many of these tools are commercial proprietary tools. I believe that something built from the ground up on an efficient open source platform using efficient open source tools could respond in a way that is much more pleasant and functional.
So the direction I'm trying to move towards is one in which our business focus will be on our own services that we can provide directly rather than on reselling though we will continue to do the latter in order to provide access capabilities that we can't directly provide on our scale. I plan on emphasizing services that can be incorporated in an electronic virtual community and that will contribute to that sense of community and help people communicate effectively and learn from each other. And I want to provide an environment that makes learning fun and helps people develop skills that they can employee in the modern job market.
I want to share more of what I know while I've still got enough brain cells left to record it and make it available, but I also want to provide a platform that encourages and helps others to do the same.
And I want to create an environment that will help others do the same. Right now this is a bit of a frustration. I write blogs on various topics and they are read by quite a few people, and I get much e-mail with things like, "This would be a good topic for your blog", and sometimes it's just spam but a lot of times it really is, but there isn't enough time in the say for me to relay all of it; it would be much better if people could just post directly themselves, and therein lies the value of forums like this.
This type of forum allows much of the same capabilities as a blog but it can be interactive; but so far I haven't had much success in convincing other people to interact but that's the goal.