Personal Network Architecture

(this was started ~2002, lots has changed)

How will I communicate (receive/read and send/publish information, Instant Messaging, voice, etc.)? Where (and in how many places) will that data be stored? What pieces of hardware will I use for these activities? Will agents filter, flag, and sort my incoming info (of course)? Where will that software run? Who will I be paying for connectivity, data storage, application processing?

How will people initiate requests for real-time (or at least prompt) interaction with me (voice, Instant Messaging, high-priority EMail)? How will I route these requests to different media in realtime ("I don't want to talk to that person, send them to Voice Mail", "I don't want to IM with that person, send their message to email (and let them know it went there)")? On what bases would I make such decisions, what initial info do I need? What are the social proxies?

What is acceptable use of my company's time, hardware, bandwith, etc.?

Some keywords and concepts: P2P, Web Services, Radio Userland, DotNet, FireWalls, Presence Detection, GroupWare, Information Appliance, Business Models For Information, Information Sharing Processes.

I have a pretty serious DeskTop PC at the office. But (a) I don't like the idea of running a personal Desktop Web Server (or any other kinda server) on it, (b) it's behind a firewall and we use NAT, so it would be a pain to hit it from outside, (c) I like to turn it off on occasion.

I used to have a DeskTop at home, but finally bought a Lap Top when my desktop had become obsolete. I didn't really have the space to clog up with extra furniture. (When I had a desktop I always wished that energy-saving settings worked better so I could keep it Always On, and that (pre-Cable Modem) my net connection was Always On).

I have Cable Modem access at home, with a WiFi hub so I can use my Lap Top anywhere in the house. Which is necessary because the Cable Modem hub is in the bedroom, and I want to be able to use the Lap Top when Jihi is sleeping. There's also StarBucks a block away from home (and another one across the street from my office).

I have a handheld PDA

  • use to be a Palm V. Then.... I have an external keyboard for it; I hate Graffiti. I Data Synch to MsOutlook at the office. If I want to edit Wiki pages, I copy contents to an MsOutlook note, then synch to the Palm, etc. (the joys of Structured Text). But I'd rather edit Wiki live. I've always been tempted by the Omni Sky, but didn't want to pay the extra charge. I'd love WiFi support for my handheld, and to be able to use the same services as for my laptop. (Then add cellphone support: I'd be happy to just use a HeadSet. Hey, how about VoIP via WiFi?) Would always-on handheld connectivity making synching to the desktop irrelevant? Nah, because of latency. But maybe there would be smarter WiFi based synching which we could think of more like caching.

  • then had a Handspring Treo 90. Now I always have a keyboard, don't need the external one. Not using MsOutlook anymore. Rarely even use Palm Desktop. Unfortunately this means I don't write Memo notes much anymore.

  • Sharp Zaurus since Apr2005. Use Wiki On Zaurus for notes, Q Topia for PIM. Do very little Data Synch which is foolish.

  • Then Nokia N810.

  • Then Android Nexus One. (Later used side-by-side with Archos70.)

I've always been intrigued by the large form-factor WinCE ClamShell machines: pretty light, Instant-On (relatively), with full-size keyboard and screen. These are less flexible than a Lap Top, but with good wireless connectivity, the weight, battery, and Instant-On benefits will keep it a nice option, unless Lap Top becomes more competitive in those areas.

John Robb thinks that a WearablePC (Always OnYou) will become more relevant than a PDA in the future. At least for us digerati.

I have a Cell Phone.

  • (Was: It's an old Panasonic, but it's fine. I don't really like the tiny ones: at that point I'd like to build it into my handheld and use a Blue Tooth HeadSet.)

  • in 2006 - still staying low-end, but have entry-level Sam Sung

  • in 2010 switched to Nexus One - Mobile.

So should code to filter info for me be running on a closeted Home Server, or on a Hosted Server? Either way, will the software be based on a "full" Application Server, or something lighter? Anything intended to be available to outsiders raises Server Monitoring issues.

Apr2004: hmm, I wonder what a WebApp like Google's GMail does for people's thinking in this area?

Dec'2004 - need to upgrade/change my Lap Top, Cell Phone, and maybe PDA.

Lap Top:

  • issues with current system - 5-yr-old Sony Vaio!

    • battery shot, so putting it to sleep doesn't work if I unplug it for a couple days, resulting in long reboot time

    • slow downloads esp over WiFi

    • slow if I want to run a local Zope server for development

    • only 386MB RAM

    • only 8GB drive

  • other considerations:

    • even though I don't carry it around much, I really feel like I want a very light one. I don't know if that's some kind of Industrial Design snobbishness or what...

    • tempted by TabletPC form-factor...

    • probably stick with MsWindows since I use it at work, like having Tortoise CVS, etc. (though may install LinuxOS on my old Lap Top)

Cell Phone/service:

  • had non-GSM ATT, and seem to get crummy coverage in NYC.

  • would like flexible plan for when The Wife occasionally travels ("turn on cheap international rate plan"?)

  • in 2006 switched to Verizon. Wife has World Phone which is a pain in the butt.


  • feel like I need a device that can give me SSH access to my servers when I'm away from home/office/Lap Top

    • hmm, key problem is that Internet Cafe machines don't have SSH clients. But maybe run WorkSpot from there?

    • probably shouldn't worry too much about data rates, since won't do that much of this

    • but Cell Phone smells like horrible screen/keyboard for this (even though I know that some Cell Phone-s have SSH software).

    • PDA connected to Cell Phone for rare data use? still hate the TelCo industry, so biased toward cheap/simple phone connected to richer/Open device

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