Monday, March 17, 2008

New business models for citywide Wi-Fi

Minneapolis is quickly becoming the new poster child for the municipal Wi-Fi movement.

The city is expected to have the majority of its 59-square-mile network finished by the end of this month, and already experts are pointing to the nearly completed network as a model other cities should follow.

Halfway through 2007, EarthLink, which had been leading the charge with big contract wins to build and run networks in San Francisco, Houston, and Philadelphia, started unraveling its Wi-Fi strategy.

The rise and fall of the movement has been well-documented by the press. Many critics have said citywide Wi-Fi is dead. I'm inclined to believe the movement is still alive. But the business models used in future deployments will be very different than those the industry has seen from EarthLink and others that have failed to deploy successful Wi-Fi networks.

Muni Wi-Fi graphic


Currently, Minneapolis' approach seems to have the most legs. In this model, the city government and public-safety agencies act as anchor tenants guaranteeing the service provider, USI Wireless, a contract. In 2006, the city agreed to pay USI Wireless $1.25 million a year for 10 years to build and operate its network.

But USI Wireless is not relying entirely on the city to fund the network. The company is also offering service to residents and small businesses.

Having an anchor tenant, like the city, helps guarantee a hefty stream of revenue, but the residential consumer market also provides USI Wireless with an opportunity to grow its business and increase profits.

"For large to midsize cities, Minneapolis will become the standard model," said Craig Settles, an independent wireless-technology consultant.

Minneapolis city officials recognized the value of having a citywide Wi-Fi network. But during the planning stage, they were unwilling to front the money to build the network. So they looked for a company in the private sector to build and operate the network for them.

"From the beginning, we were focused on the institutional benefits of having a citywide Wi-Fi network," said Lynn Willenbring, CIO for Minneapolis. "But we recognized quickly that we could not create a viable business case for the network operator with just our business. The vendor needs to make a profit. So it's important for them to sell to residential and business users too."

The network asset already proved its worth last year. A portion of the newly constructed network had already been completed on August 1, 2007, when the I-35W Bridge collapsed, allowing the city to use Wi-Fi as part of its emergency response effort.

The network is also getting good response from consumers. So far, more than 8,000 residents have signed up for USI Wireless' service, which is being offered at three different speeds: 1-megabit-per-second downloads for $20 per month, 3 Mbps downloads for $30 per month, and 6 Mbps downloads for $35 per month. The service will compete with DSL service offered from Qwest Communications and cable modem service from Comcast.

How Minneapolis model differs
Minneapolis' model differs from that of other cities, which have been less successful in deploying citywide Wi-Fi. EarthLink, the biggest company in the municipal Wi-Fi market, won several high-profile contracts by focusing exclusively on offering residential service. The company also promised free access or reduced access in certain cities like Philadelphia and San Francisco to help bridge the digital divide.

EarthLink did not require city governments or agencies to become customers of its networks. Instead, EarthLink negotiated deals in which it would actually give away service to city agencies in exchange for using city-owned infrastructure like utility poles.

Tempe, Ariz., is another example of a city that did not buy network services, but instead expected to use the network free of charge in exchange for providing access to utility poles. Less than two years after its Wi-Fi network went live, the project is basically dead. Tempe contracted with a network operator called Kite Networks, a division of Richardson, Texas-based Gobility. At the end of 2007, the company cut off service, because it couldn't make any money.

A ComputerWorld article published last month quoted Dave Heck, CIO for the city of Tempe, blaming the failure of the network on Kite Networks for not marketing the service aggressively enough. At its peak, the company was only able to sign up 800 subscribers to the service in a city with 160,000 residents.

"Their rates have been half the cost of wired Internet services, and they could have gotten subscribers if they marketed it right, but they didn't market it well," he was quoted as saying in the article.

But if Tempe had agreed to become a customer of the network, maybe the service would have survived.

Philadelphia's network is nearly 80 percent built. But with EarthLink now out of the citywide Wi-Fi business, the project's future is uncertain. The city is unlikely to finish building the network with taxpayer dollars and it also won't likely run the network. Terry Phillis, CIO for Philadelphia, told the Associated Press earlier this month that selling the network would be the best thing for everyone. But Phillis acknowledged that finding a buyer wouldn't be easy.

But if Philadelphia revised its Wi-Fi contract and promised to buy a certain amount of services from the network provider, it could make the deal more palatable to potential buyers.

"If they aren't willing to support the network as a customer, then the whole thing falls apart," Settles said. "And they've missed a great opportunity."

The reason cities need to become customers of these networks is simple: Marketing services and selling them to residential customers is expensive. And broadband competition is fierce. Even though many communities would like to have a third provider to help drive down costs, it's difficult for a business to justify the cost of building a new network to be the low-priced competitor.

An anchor tenant, like a city, offers new entrants a guaranteed source of revenue to build their networks without being forced to spend huge amounts of capital right away to acquire residential customers. The more money a city spends with the network operator, the fewer residential customers it needs to make a profit.

DSL provider Covad Communications, which agreed earlier this month to get involved in the stalled Silicon Valley regional Wi-Fi network, sees government customers as important. But it also believes it can make money on Wi-Fi by offering a service it can extend to its existing customer base. The company is building a pilot network in San Carlos, Calif., to see if it could make money with the Wi-Fi service. Initially, it plans to target business customers first, but it sees municipalities and city agencies as potential customers as well.

Tale of a happy customer
"The municipal market is appealing to us," said Alan Howe, vice president of wireless strategy at Covad. "We won't be focusing on that market initially. But the city of San Carlos is already a customer, so it's nice to have one happy customer in the market."

Like other proposed Wi-Fi projects, the Silicon Valley network hit rough times in 2007. A lack of funding forced Azulstar, the start-up that was going to build and operate the network, to bow out of the project before it was even able to build out the two pilot networks.

The grand plan for the regional Wi-Fi network looked dead. But Cisco, which had been involved in the project from its earliest days, approached its customer Covad and persuaded the company to build a test network.

Covad sees citywide as a way to potentially expand its business. Today, the company wholesales DSL service and sells T1 and DSL service to businesses and some government agencies. It also offers fixed wireless broadband service using proprietary pre-WiMax technology that uses a combination of licensed and unlicensed spectrum. Wi-Fi would allow the company to expand its services to small and home-based businesses. It also would allow the company to provide mobile applications for its larger customers.

For now, the San Carlos project is simply a test. Howe wouldn't say whether the company plans to expand the network within San Carlos or to other cities in the region.

"It's really too soon to speculate on what will happen after the trial," Howe said. "There could be an opportunity to expand beyond the test site, assuming it makes sense for us from a business perspective. But we don't know yet what we will do."

Minneapolis and Covad's San Carlos project are still in their early days. So it's hard to say that they have found the secret to success in citywide Wi-Fi. But these projects should be watched closely. And if they do prove successful, I'm sure other cities will copy them.

"We're very proud that people are looking to our network as an example of a success story," Minneapolis' CIO Willenbring said. "When we started looking at this, we looked at what was going on in other cities to learn from their mistakes. And we crafted a business model that we think makes everyone a winner."

Labels: , , , , ,

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Tracing Photo

tracing from photo Full detailed tutorial on how to draw and trace people from a photo. Learn how to create realistic illustration with just simple gradient fill. No massive Gradient Mesh!

Version: Illustrator 9+

Download Source File

1. Place a photo

First place a photo in Layer 1 by File > Place or Copy & Paste from clip board. Double click on Layer 1 to change the Layer Options. Set Dim Images to: 30% and lock layer.

place photo

2. Start tracing

Make a new layer (Layer 2). Hold down Ctrl key and click on the eye icon of Layer 2 to view Layer 2 in Outline mode.

preview mode

Use the Pen Tool and start tracing the basic features of the girl. While you are tracing, there are couple shortcut keys you should know in order to work more faster.

These shortcuts are:

  • Ctrl+[ = Send Backward (This will send object back 1 step)
  • Ctrl+] = Bring Forward (This will bring object front 1 step)
  • Ctrl+Shift+[ = Send to Back (This will send object all the way to the back)
  • Ctrl+Shift+] = Bring to Front (This will bring object all the way to the front)
  • Ctrl+F = Paste in Front (This will paste object in front with same position)

basic outlines

3. Make shadow

Draw a new path as shown (top). Then Copy the base path of the face and Paste in Front. Select the copied base path and the new path, open your Pathfinder, Alt-click on Intersect shape areas.


Use the same technique from previous step and make all shadow paths for the overall illustration. You don’t have to get into the details yet, one simple shadow path of each part is good enough (ie. eye, lips, shirt, body, etc). Remember to use Ctrl+C for copy; and Ctrl+F to paste object in front. Trust me, this will save you a lot of time!

shadow paths

4. Fill in base color

Now fill in the base color for the face, eye, lips, and eyebrow.

base color

5. Shadow gradient

Fill the shadow path of the face with a Gradient (white-skin tone) and select Multiply for Blending Mode.


Select the other shadow paths and use the Eyedropper Tool to copy the gradient fill of the main shadow path.


For the lip and eye shadow, use the Eyedropper to copy the base fill and select Multiply Blending Mode.

6. Body

Use the same technique, copy the gradient fill for the body. Note you might to adjust the gradient of each shadow path to blend in with the overall illustration.


7. Hair

Pretty much the same, fill 1 path with the gradient, then use the Eyedropper Tool to copy the fill.


8. Shirt

Same technique as the previous steps.


9. Skirt

Fill the skirt with a blue gradient, then use the Eyedropper Tool to copy the fill for the shadow.


10. Hair details

Now you can add more details to the hair. Make shadow effect by adding Multiply paths. Add some highlights by using lighter gradient color. If you want, you can add more details to the clothes, lips, or add a cool tattoo on her body.



After you get used to this tracing technique, you can basically trace anything!


More Samples

Here are some samples that I traced from photo using the same technique.

illustration samples

Labels: , , , , , ,

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Text Fading Animation

Cool text fading animation in Flash

In this Macromedia Flash tutorial I will show you how to make a cool text fading animation effect. Acturlly I got inspired to do this effect from a movie, or from the introduction text of what actors was in the movie, they used this effect.

Start with a black background.
Now type in the text you like to add this effect to with white color.
Right click the text and press break apart one time to seperate the letters.

Photoshop Tutorial thumb picture

Now right click each letter and convert them to seperate movie clips

Select all the letters, right click and choose distrubute to layers.
Now in the layers panel delete the layer we started with, because its now empty.

Photoshop Tutorial thumb picture

Make a new keyframe at frame 5 and at frame 30, for all the layers.

Photoshop Tutorial thumb picture

In frame 30 move the text all the way to the right, out of the stage.
Between frame 5 and frame 30 for all layers, right click and create motion tween.

Photoshop Tutorial thumb picture

Now for all letters seperatly click at frame 5 and go to the properties panel and adjust the easing, for some letters set the easing to -100 and the rest at 100 and maybe one or two at 0.

Now the letters will not move at the same speed.

Photoshop Tutorial thumb picture

At frame 30 for each letter go to the properties panel and adjust the alpha to 20 percent.

Photoshop Tutorial thumb picture

And now we are done, I just added a rectangle shape with not fill color, converted it to a movie clip, animated it by scaling it and put down the alpha just a with the text effect.

Labels: , , , , ,


My Topsites List
Open Web Design
Back to top

Designed & Developed by
chris paragas