netcurmudgeon (netcurmudgeon) wrote,

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Meetings, and things that are wrong, but in a good way

For me, today was dominated by a nearly three hour meeting on the City's public WiFi project. There was a half hour plus "pre game huddle" with our fellow City folks, then over two hours with IBM -- our elected vendor to pull the whole thing off. As my entire morning bled away into noon, I realized a couple of things.

First, my part in all this -- coordinating the wireless network buildout -- is really only about one fifth of the project. The community outreach, training, and low-cost PC component takes up two fifths, and the "find a business model that will allow us to break-even while still providing basic service for free" component definitely gets two fifths. All in all, I'd say I have the easiest 20% of the project -- it's just technology.

Second, the money angle is still the biggest problem. The City has money for a two-neighborhood pilot, but nothing more. We have, eh, a smidge over a tenth of what we would need to do the whole thing. The chances of us nailing up the pilot and then not getting any farther are about 9:1 at this point, IMO. OTOH, money is not my problem. As stated above, I just have to worry about the hardware. OMG! 802.11A/B/G WLAN Squee! <sigh>


In order to diffuse some of the post-meeting toxicity, I spent an hour or so poking around with the wireless gear we have in storage (waiting to go into elementary schools currently under renovation). There is something pleasingly wrong about this.

You see, we bought a bunch of Nortel "Adaptive Wireless" gear this summer. It was made for Nortel by a company called Airespace. Cisco bought Airespace out from under Nortel and is now selling the Airespace product as their own. After a long evaluation I decided to go Cisco and stick with the Airespace system rather than accept Nortel's latest wireless joint venture (Trapeze). But what to do with all of this Nortel-branded equipment? Well, it's all just Airespace gear with light gray paint, and the Cisco stuff is just Airespace with beige paint. So, I now have Nortel-branded hardware running Cisco software, so that it will talk with the new Cisco-branded hardware that we're buying for other new schools. Which, leads to the odd sight of a piece of hardware that boots up with NORTEL (in big ASCII block letters) on the screen and then presents you with (Cisco Controller) > as the command prompt.

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