2502 West Colorado Ave., Suite 203 · Colorado Springs, CO 80904 ·
Voice 719.636.2040 · Fax 719.528.5869 ·Wireless Web http://wireless.oldcolo.com
Progress Report 3
April 14th, 1996
Much has transpired since my last written report.
Lots of bad, and some good operational news. And nothing but good news for getting our hands on the latest radios to test.
Severe weather in the San Luis Valley - very high winds that endangered members of our team on several occasions, and which tore the central mast from its moorings at the Carver House in Alamosa - set us back.
And, improbable as it sounds, United Parcel Service managed to lose, for 6 weeks, a critical shipment of one of our special routers between Colorado and California. It finally showed up after we made a $1,100 claim. But it set programming back.
One of our team members has had a serious health problem which precluded his travelling until he improved.
Problems with upgraded Free Wave radios, the ones we were depending on for use in the San Luis Valley, caused further delays. Free Wave changed the code in their radios, which caused ones we were depending upon to relay 115kbs signals from Alamosa, through Monte Vista, to Center School not to operate in the relay mode. Free Wave, which promised fixes to the code, which could be installed over an RS232 cable, has not come through yet. (April 10th). As a consequence we have been forced to change plans again on how to get a signal the 22 miles to Center from Alamosa, direct, and not relayed.
However Bob Buaas has been able to reconfigure Free Wave radios for mounting on the outside masts in the San Luis Valley, and these reconfigured radios are in the hands of Dewayne.
Dewayne Hendricks has been able to test the Free Wave radios before deployment between two sites in the Bay area of California, reporting 25 mile performance.
Other problems occured at the Alamosa POP, where, through the commercial Internet Provider Rocky Mountain Internet, we were relying on three business lines to link our special routers, configured by Dewayne Hendricks, to each other for process control, and for at least a 56kb additional line capacity from Colorado Springs to carry our traffic.
Suffice it to say that the failure of an RMII Portmaster at the POP, which did not get remedied until mid March, and the inability of RMII-US West to get the phone lines installed and reliable (they went out repeatedly), and their inability to get the second 56kbs dedicated line operational in a stable mode, until early April precluded us even from getting the teacher-course, modem calling established until early April, well into their 48 hour course which will end at the end of the School Year in May for all 4 schools.
Meanwhile, however, limited local testing of radios occured, and finally, this last week, the link between Alamosa, both modem process control by land line, and by wireless, 14 miles to Monte Vista Middle School, checked out. The special routers between Alamosa and Monte vista are operating in a dual TCP/IP - compressed 28.8 modem, and 115kbs wireless mode. A failed power supply has to be replaced, but all the pieces were in place by April 13th, including the necessity to assist the staff at Monte Vista in configuring properly for Netscape as well as standard IP services all their 25 workstations.
The link to Center is being worked on, but now that their internal LAN is operational, with assigned IP addresses necessary for connection to the outside configured, the special router, as a process link is expected to completed this week.
San Luis Centennial School will have to wait, probably until May, before being connected wireless.
Mitchell High School, in Colorado Springs, finally got their own LAN and network operating, so teachers there have been able to use both modem access, and internal Internet access to the net, to pursue the course, and master the workstation tools they will be expected to use in the classroom.
The Teachers Course, exercising the installed multi-media equipment on school workstations - first by dial up modem to RMII, then by TCP/IP continuous land line (router to router connections) and finally to wireless TCP/IP - has been proceeding at its own educational pace. The 20 teachers, as well as the 4 school techs required a great deal of technical coaching to learn to use e-mail, maillists, attached graphical files to e-mail in Mime compliant form while taking the course, which they also have discovered to be rather rigerous and demanding, while they also are actively teaching. Once again, the truth has been re-learned, that it takes a long time for schools which are getting 'onto the Internet' by any means, wired or wireless, to learn the basics of telecommunications.
The effort in this Project to combine the progressive 'learning' of technology, in pace with the math and science course which must use the technologies and techniques, remains an open question as to whether that is the best method. But, as experienced by the US West MAST Math Science teachers course which has been running the last two years, it is clear that the emphasis on 'technology' rather than the 'math' has not permitted the teachers to learn much about how to learn, or teach, math online.
Several releases of Beta Software finally permits us to use production software for the remainder of the tests. White Pine only released their Color CuSeeMe for Windows in early April. And the Mac version is not done yet. We will use both, probably in the fall, to test the wireless links abilty to support Video Conferencing and white board sessions for education.
I will be conducting some short range thruput tests with this version of CuSeeMe and Metricom Richochet wireless modems.
Mustang Software also released, only on April 1st, their NT BBS package, which we have been counting on to be an online, centralized 'classroom' - to avoid the necessity of having individual commerical accounts for all teachers in the test course. For even if that is marginally feasible for teachers at a school, it is not conceivable that schools can or will afford individual commercial accounts on Internet services for networked education. Thus the 'BBS' not only for this test project, but as a model for the schools, all of whom are running NT servers for their lans and as links to the Internet through our wireless connections. This software is now installed on wireless.oldcolo.com and can be reached by telneting to that service.
The Web Pages by Netgrafx, containing the reports on this Project are operational on the project NT. It can be accessed at http://wireless.oldcolo.com
Good news has been received in that two important wireless system companies have agreed to loan the Project their latest radios to include in the test.
Tetherless Access has shipped three of their latest models, together with peripheral equipment, to us, for use where we can best test them. We already have clearance from both Rocky Mountain Internet, on the top floor of a downtown Colorado Springs office building, to connect a base radio there, and feed it directly into their POP. So we can put another one at our Old Colorado City premises, 3 miles away, and relay to a Junior High School. Which link we will use for those radios remain to be determined however, based on our success in the Valley with Free Waves.
The most recent good news is that Solectek company, has agreed, after several meetings, to loan us three of their just FCC approved (6 March) Airlan/Router 200E radios - which operate in the 2.4 GHz ISM Bands 25 miles, at a claimed 2mbs, (or higher than T-1) speeds. We tentatively planned to use these radios between Mitchell High School and District 11's POP. Which will require relaying because of the lack of line of sight access.
So while a whole series of natural and man made delays have put our project off the original timetable, I see no reason why we cannot achieve our original test goals during this Project. It will probably necessitate an NSF approved extension of the Project from 30 Sept to 15 December, and the slippage of some classroom tests until the fall semester. But technical tests of the thruput of radios installed at all four schools can be expected to be completed during the summer.