Saturday, December 28, 2013

drive-a-bout update- Wyoming drive through and Billings, MT landing

I landed in Billings, MT. last night.  Dark and cold.

The drive through Wyoming was desolate.  That is one EMPTY state.  But the landscape was amazing.  From almost alien to wide open and desolate to rocky mountain beauty.  This is the first time I've gone past Cheyenne (to the North) and it's all true:  It's the backdrop of an old Hollywood western, for hour after hour at 75mph.  The beauty (and sense of being alone) is extreme and, in many places, the wind never stops (I've read Wyoming has one of the highest per capita suicide rates in the nation, largely due to the non stop wind).  I can see why some of the most rugged and self sufficient folks might want to choose Wyoming as home.  If you live here, and you want to be, you're very much alone.

Today:  Not sure if I'll head North, again, or swing West.  Not feeling the draw to the East today.  I may seek out local hackerspaces as I go.  We'll see.

Drive-a-bouts (the Amercian version of a Walk-a-bout)

I'm off on another drive-a-bout.

I started doing these about 20ish years ago.

Just get into a (reasonably well stocked up) car and go.  No direction, no destination, no plan, no timeline.

The original idea came from the Australian concept of a walk-a-bout.  Only, being a lazy American, I didn't do it on foot, I did it by car.

So off on another I go.  It's a been a few years, but I'm due.

Oddly, this isn't 'something a retired person' does (as one of my younger coharts suggested).  It's really something everyone should do, the younger the better.

Outfit your car with just enough sleeping gear to spend the night in it if you need to.  If it's summer, bring camping gear.  Also have enough cash to rent a hotel in any city you happen to land in (I've ended up in NYC, New Orleans, LA, Chicago, a vast array of smaller cities and towns and villages and a few totally out of the way trailer parks and hidden enclaves).

You'd be amazed what you find.  If you take your time, and talk to people as you go, strike up conversations, ask them what's interesting around these parts, let them show you if they're so inclined, you'd find there's a magical quality to both the people in this country, and the land we all live in and often take for granted.

I've been all over the world.  I've seen some truly beautiful places, but, there's still something particularly striking and alluring to me about America, my own country.  It's people, it's land and resources, it's, is still astounding.

Everyone should take a few days, or weeks, and just wander around it, at least once in their lives.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Simple Stuff...

Really simple stuff, actually.  Yea.. we've all heard it.  We also forget and the occasional reminder doesn't hurt one little bit.

Some excellent advice on just living from Brad Feld regarding not falling into a depression (and what to do about it):

"The first is the 80/20 rule. When running Feld Technologies in my 20s, I remember reading a book about consulting that said a great consultant spent 20% of their time on “overhead” and 80% of their time on substantive work for their clients. I always tried to keep the 80/20 rule in mind – as long as I was only spending 20% of my time on bullshit, nonsense, things I wasn’t interested in, and repetitive stuff that I didn’t really have to do, I was fine. However, this time around, I’d somehow gotten the ratios flipped – I was spending only 20% of my time on the stimulating stuff and 80% of my time on stuff I viewed as unimportant. Much of it fell into the repetitive category, rather than the bullshit category, but nonetheless I was only stimulated by about 20% of the stuff I was doing. This led to a deep boredom that I didn’t realize, because I was so incredibly busy, and tired, from the scope and amount of stuff I was doing. While the 20/80 problem was the start, the real root cause was the boredom, which I simply didn’t realize and wasn’t acknowledging." 

I do something similar, it's more of a 50% rule.  If I'm not having fun at least 50% of the time, I'm not doing the right stuff.

I'm wondering if modifying that to 80% isn't a bad idea.

More on it in Brad's archives here:

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Use of the word "Hacker"

Apparently, the US Legal System hasn't kept up with the use of words in the English language over the last Ten years.

From the blog Digital Bond:

Call Yourself A Hacker, Lose Your 4th Amendment Rights

It seems all you have to do is saying something like this:  “We like hacking things and we don’t want to stop”  on your website, and a court can decide you don't deserve your Constitutional 4th Amendment Rights protecting you from unreasonable searches and seizures.

Read the article and decide for yourself, but, this tells me using the word hacker in my little world of hackerspaces just got a lot more tenuous.  And that's sad.

We use this word because it fits what we do.  We hack things up by taking them apart and putting them back together in different, often better, forms.  We hack together something new out of nothing.  We hack our way into something that's broken or dead or no longer useful and fix it, bring it back to life and make it useful again; often with a new purpose.

Telling us that using the word hacker can cause a suspension of constitutional rights and protections, is just nuts.

So, now I'm thinking we should consider renaming our local hackerspace.

From this:

TinkerMill, The Longmont Hackerspace


TinkerMill, NOT Longmont's Hackerspace, but something else, like, close, but NOT a Hackerspace.  Really.


I'm starting the lean toward creatorspace.  I like makerspace, but the Make Magazine folks (i.e. O'Reilly Publishing) have made it clear that they own that name (maker, makerfaire, etc. etc.).  I'm pretty sure any place calling itself a Makerspace is going to have to, eventually, pay the Make Magazine guys a royalty fee.

So, as an alternative to Hackerspace, maybe Creatorspace is the way to go.  I know NASA calls their hackerspace "Creatorspace".  Maybe it's generic enough that all of us can start using that phrase to describe what our hackerspaces really are without opening ourselves to the risk of a 4th Amendment Rights suspension.

I can't even believe I'm writing about this, frankly.  Our legal system could use a good dose of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) training.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Starting a Hackerspace or Makerspace - some specifics

Lately, a bunch of people have been asking me about hackerspaces and makerspaces (same thing, different feel to the words, go with whatever you prefer).

I guess it's because I was a member of Denver's hackerspace (denhac) and on it's board of directors.  I also started the Longmont Hackerspace (TinkerMill) in the spring of 2013 and have learned a bit about the current state of hackerspaces, getting them started and running them.  This post is about starting the basics of how to start one with some specifics and some examples.  I may do more on running them in the future, but for now.. just get started.

A bit of background:

There was a time, 5-6 years ago, when it was hard to get people to understand what a hackerspace was.  That time is no more.  It's significantly easier to start a hackerspace today than it was even a year ago.

The two things that have changed are awareness of what a hackerspace/makerspace is, and tools for gathering like minded folks to help get it going, fund it and run it.

There's a kind of movement happening not just in the US, but globally.  You could call it Do It Yourself (DIY) or hacking, or making.  It's all the same.  People want to take control of their lives and their surroundings more.  They don't want an off the shelf from a large conglomerate retailer.  They want to make their own.  They also want to learn about how things work, and how things work together.  Mixing technology with art and with business and civic awareness.  Delving deep into education, both primary and adult.  A hackerspace is a sharing of tools and knowledge as well as a place of collaboration that every city in America (really, the world) should have available to it.  And every city should encourage and foster this for no other reason than new business formation and better educational levels for it's citizens.

How to start a hackerspace / makerspace:

It's substantially simpler than you might believe.  Don't overthink it, just do it.

1) Go to and create an account.  Set up your first meetup and call it [name of city/town] Hackerspace Meetup (or if you prefer Makerspace Meetup).  Meetup is a truly wonderful service and worth every cent they charge for it's use.

2) See how many people show up for the meetup.  It it's 4 or more, you have enough interest in your town to create a hackerspace/makerspace.

3) Have weekly planning meetings.  Leaders and truly interested folks will emerge.  This is your initial leadership team (and likely, the bulk of your first Board of Directors).  Once the leaders emerge, you're ready to start collecting money (membership dues) to pay for rent/utilities on a space.

4) Set up the rules.  You'll need by-laws (keep it simple) and you'll need paperwork that covers the various legal and liability issues of setting up a hackerspace.  Don't do this from scratch, it's already been done:  Copy other hackerspaces work.  When we created TinkerMill, we copied several different hackerspaces documents.  The basics you'll need are:

a) By-Laws.  These are the rules by which the group operates.
b) Memebership Agreement.  This includes everything needed to ensure members are covered and liability is addressed.

That's all the paperwork you need to run your operation, to start.

5) Figure out the money.  You'll need two kinds of money initially, startup money to pay for two things:  Ongoing costs (Rent & Utilities, to start) and Startup Costs (depost, liability insurance, 1st months rent, some chairs, maybe).  That's really all you need to start.  Most of the tools and other equipment in the first 6 month or so will come from your membership.  The way to raise this money, initially, is simple:  Founder donations and Membership Dues.

a) Founder donations.  Ask for a significant, but doable amount, to be a named Founder (say $300).  Payable whenever they can do it ($50 mo over 6 months, $25 mo over a year, whatever they can do).  Have them sign a pledge to do it.   This gives you capital to pay the upfront expenses of finding and occupying a hackerspace.

b) Member dues.  Pick a number that fits your location.  TinkerMill in Longmont, CO. has four levels:  Student/starving hacker ($25 mo); Regular Membership ($50 mo) Family Membership ($75 mo). and Organization (a group of people) membership ($100 mo).  Your mileage may vary.  NYC Resister, for instance, has a $115 mo Regular membership fee.  If your rents are high, your membership fees go up (and vice versa).

There's more you can do here, such as charge a 'desk fee' for a dedicated desk that members can use to startup a company, or as a place they can set up and longer term dedicated project space.  Don't worry too much about that at the beginning though.  It's a problem you'll be happy to have down the road.

6) Find a space.  Go for light industrial, low cost.  Try for cement floors and a space for a classroom/meeting room.  We found 2000 SF is a good starting size, although more is better and less can be doable, especially in higher cost markets (NYC Resister in NY started with 800 SF).

Once you've gotten enough people to throw in Founder donations and Membership dues to rent the space and get your startup costs in order, you now have a hackerspace / makerspace.

7) Fill it with chairs, tables technology, art and tools.  Your membership will donate pretty much everything you need.  Just ask them.  You'd be amazed what people have sitting around unused in their basements/garages/storage units.  You will find, within 3 months, you're turning away donations due to space limitations.  All the rest of it will come together from your members (websites, blogs, etc.).

Trust your membership.  They'll figure out quickly what it is the space should be used for and they'll make it happen.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

A Colorado Hackerspace Council?

I'm wondering if it's time to put together a statewide Hackerspace Council of sorts.

We've got at least 5 hackerspaces in the front range (3 in place, 2 forming), all reasonably close to each other.

TinkerMill in Longmont
Solid State Depot in Boulder
Denhac in North Denver
The Concoctory in South Denver
Loveland Creativespace in Loveland

What if we all talked to each other and pooled our resources?  Made it possible to share spaces (someone from Denver's in Boulder for the day and could use a table and internet access to work from: drop by SSD!  Or if someone from Boulder's in Longmont for the day and needs a 3D printer for a couple of hours, drop by TinkerMill!  That kind of thing).

I wonder if it's time for that?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Longmont Friends of Fiber (Gigabit Fiber, that is)

Live in Longmont, CO USA?

Want 1000MB up and 1000MB down  internet access for $49.95 mo?

Want every home and business in town wired up for the 21st century?

Join us in making sure we get the bond issue we need to make it happen.




Thursday, June 20, 2013

eWorld is Dead. Long Live eWorld.

eWorld:  A long long ago project in an Apple galaxy far far away.

Got a call from a writer a month or so ago writing a story on eWorld, the last big project I worked on at Apple back in the 90's.  It's a pretty good write up.  Worth a read if you want to know a little about a tiny corner of the beginning of the internet.  The author (Rob LeFebvre) talked to me as well as several of the key folks that originally started with the eWorld project (Cleo, Peter, Trevor, Chris and Jenna... all great folks) to get the real story, almost 20 years after the fact.

Looking at the artwork from way back then, it's still beautiful to my jaded eye.

It's a shame Apple didn't 'get it' back then.  Peter (our GM/VP) tried so hard to get the (various) CEO's to understand.  I think we went through 3 during the lifespan of the project, which wasn't all that long.  A sad time at Apple. 

But, the time I did spend there were some of the most rewarding and interesting of my working life.  Only doing my own startup companies and now delving into the world of Hackerspaces and how they fit into a rapid 'learning' society of makers, DIYers and creatives types of all stripes is as good as those long ago Apple days.

His title nails it.  eWorld IS dead.. long live eWorld.  And thanks again to all my colleagues from back then.  You'll always be some of the most creative, intelligent and downright fun group of folks I've ever known.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Longmont Hackerspace

So, I'm going to take a shot at starting up a hackerspace in Longmont, CO.

First meeting isThursday night this week.  7pm.  See the link above for details (If you live around here.. come on down!).

Longmont:  It's a very interesting town.  About 90,000 people.  Great school system with a special STEM program (6 grade schools, 3 middle schools and 1 high school...).  They start teaching the kids how to program computers, in the 'feeder' grade schools, at 6 years old.

It has a ton of greenway bike paths.

It has a gigabit network buildout in process.  The city council here just gave the go ahead to build out a city owned (municipal) gigabit fiber network.  Think:  Google Fiber level connectivity to every home and business, but, from a not for profit city that will never raise prices (just speeds).  The city also sponsored a City Hackathon in April (first ever... went great). They're well on their way to turning the city itself into an open data platform.

Oh yea.. it owns it's own power company already (Longmont Power and Communications.. i.e. LPC) that provides power, water, sewer and trash service.  All at 30% lower costs than the for profit services in the other cities, and the most reliable electrical grid (historically) of any town in the state.

There's a bunch of high tech companies here as well.  Microsoft has one of the worlds most advanced datacenters (running all of BING maps) in Longmont.  Seagate's got a plant here along with an R&D division working on building cloud software into hard disks and SSD devices.  Digital Globe already feeds all the satellite images you see today on Google Maps (and many others).  Amgen (Biotech) has an R&D plant and factory here.  Western Digital has an R&D group here.  Boulder County (where Longmont lives) has Boulder in it... tons of startups.  And, MANY of the highly educated people that can't afford the stupid high real estate prices of Boulder, work there, but live in Longmont.

And, houses here are (compared to most places) cheap.  An average 1500SF house goes for under $200K.

So.. interesting town.  Kind of a high tech center with a great quality of life that's been kept a secret.

I'll bet we can get us pretty darned sweet Hackerspace set up here in Longmont.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Longmont Hackathon and Open Datasets

Developers, Hackers and Designers Sign up here:

Longmont's Civic Hackathon ( will be firing up next weekend, April, 12th, 13th and 14th at Skyline Highschool in Longmont, CO. and the city just put up more Open Data Sets and and API's that developers and dev teams can take advantage of.

Cities and their information sets are supposed to be open to their residents but, that doesn't always happen to the level it really should.

Hackathons help change that.  We've seen larger cities like New York, Denver, Chicago, Austin and Oakland put on civic hackathons for a few years now, and that's really helped to open these city data sets and turn the cites more into Open Data Platforms for it's residents and it's businesses.

What's exciting to me is when a smaller city like Longmont (Pop. approx 88K) takes the initiative and puts on a civic hackathon.  It's not as common to see and, for that reason alone, needs to be encouraged even more.

Colorado has a very cool initiative called Open Colorado (  The guys over at GISuser blog thought so too when they wrote this up about Longmont's Hackathon:

In April an awesome community hackathon event is taking place in Longmont CO and being hosted at Skyline High School (Longmont Hackathon) – I love the idea of doing this at a school – the perfect community venue! The City is involved in the planning, they have an official Twitter account @hackLongmont and also a facebook page at

We need developers and designers to make it happen though.  The more the merrier and it's going to be a excellent event mixed with local business, the high school computer teams, the city technical folks, and many others.

The Longmont Gigabit Network is even making an appearance (there's a fiber connection with 1000MB up and down data speeds running into Skyline High School, where the Hackathon is taking place).  For those that didn't know: Longmont is building out it's own Municipal Fiber Network for it's residents and citizens (one of only a very few cities in America doing this).  If you live or work in Longmont, in the near future, you'll have access to some of the fastest and cheapest internet service on the planet.  Get a taste of it at this hackathon.

You don't have to be a professional developer; if you just dabble in writing code, we'd love to have you join us.  If you design things, join us and take a shot at figuring out the layout of a phone app, creating it's look and feel and work with some developers to make a prototype of it real.  The idea is to engage the community and come up with great ideas that can make our city (or any other city, it's all OpenSource) a better place to live.  All are welcome.

Sign up today:

Sunday, February 10, 2013

What's it take to create a hackerspace?

Hacker Space Brussels (HSBXL)

So, in case you haven't figured it out, I'm really getting into this hackerspace area.  I'm a member of denhac ( and on it's board of directors.

I'm working with my town to try and get them to create a municipally sponsored hackerspace (which I'm calling a makerspace because the word hacker, still, makes some of the more conservative types cringe).

I'm trying to figure out how this can fit into a communities educational system, it's local businesses, it's civic structure and the overall infrastructure of the town it exists in.  And it should exist in every single town.

At first, some people thought hackerspaces where just a fad.


This is a major societal trend.  It's related to community, education, the high cost/debt created by and questionable value of college, the end of unions (and the end of things like guilds and apprenticeships), the desire by many people to start their own businesses and needing a place to prototype concepts into products (software, hardware, whateverware) and it's a place where students and elder/experts come together.

It feeds our need, as humans, to create, to learn and to teach.

First, watch this video (seriously, watch the whole thing; he's a true geek so keep that in mind.  He nails what a hackerspace is, embodies the enthusiasm of it and defines nicely where we're going with them).

All done?  Good.

He seems a bit out there doesn't he.  This guy reminds me of all the guys that started the personal computer revolution.  All of them.  These are the types of people it takes to create large shifts in how society works.  These are the people that can (and have) literally, changed the world.

OK, get time to get started.

Now, get a group of 4-5 people together and start meeting on Tuesday nights (why?  Because, that's when all the hackerspaces have open house night, it's random, but you have to pick a night so it might as well be when everyone else is doing the same thing).  No agenda needed other than all 4-5 need to have watched the above video.  This little group of founders will figure it out.

Find a space to rent.  It'll need at a minimum a workshop, a classroom and a kitchen (like) area.  A lounge, computer room and office would be good, but not required.  It should be as nice as it can be, but at the same time, as cheap as it can be.  It needs as much internet bandwidth as you can get.  It can be smallish at say 1000 SF, or largish at 5000 SF.  Our space at denhac (3D render of the space below) is in the middle of that range.

Start accumulating tools that can be shared among the community (see below for a good hackerspace tool list).

Decide what it costs to have a membership.  This can be anywhere from free (you've got a sponsor or rich member willing to cover costs) to $150+ a month (as an example, one for profit hackerspace type space called TechShop operate this way).  I'd suggest a tiered membership with something for students (say, $10-25 a month), regular members ($50 a mo) to a 'patron' type membership (people that want to give more to support the space) of $100-250 or more a month.

Apply for 501c3 status.  Most other hackerspace have done it already and have been approved.  This is NOT required to get started, it's a nice to have and makes it easier to get donations.

Make very simple rules.  I like the one and only rule the hackerspace the video speaker helped found made:

Be excellent to each other.

That's it.  No more needed to get started.

Open your doors.

It really doesn't need to be more complicated than that.  A community will form.

Thats it.  Now get to it.


Here's denhacs floor layout (thanks to Matt Yoder):

It's about 2500 SF.  It has a large garage door (front right)- wanna pull in a truck?  You could; cement floors on the first level (perfect for shop gear, etc.).  A computer/server room (front left).  A lounge area with couches and tables (middle left).  A utility room. A Bathroom (unisex).  Classroom (back 1/3 of space) and a sort of loft area above that perfect for work stations (electronics, 3D printer, radio/recording station, It's workspace.. basically all the less messy stuff that would require a cement floor goes upstairs).

List of tools to consider (but not limited to) for a hackerspace (thanks to

  • Bench space
  • Clamps / vice 
  • Screw drivers  
  • Saws
    • Woodwork 
    • Metalwork
  • Hammers
    • Metalwork
    • Woodwork
  • Files 
    • Woodwork
    • Metalwork

Machining and Power Tools:

  • Band Saw
  • Laser Cutter
  • drill press
  • CNC router
  • 3D Printer
  • water cutter
  • Routing
  • Welder
    • A basic arc stick iron/steel welder + sticks + auto dimming welding mask to contribute 
  • Angle Grinder
  • Industrial Vacuum Cleaner
  • Domestic Vacuum Cleaner 
  • Disc sander
  • Hot glue gun
  • Air compressor 
  • Plastic injection moulding rig
  • Engraver
  • Jigsaw
  • Sandblaster
  • Orbital Sander 


  • CRO
  • Digital Osc
  • Logic Analyser
  • Hot Air Soldering Station
  • Bench Power Supply
  • Multimeter
  • Solderi
  • Solder Stations  
  • Rework station
  • Microscope
  • Spectrum analyser to 6GHz
  • Prototype PCB cutter
  • SMD soldering equipment
  • Eeprom programmer
  • Components
  • signal generator
  • Frequency Counter 
  • PCB etching gear
  • UV Exposure box & photo resist developer
  • Video camera 
  • Colour TV 
  • SMD oven


  • Internet
  • Water
  • Power
  • Gas


  • Programming setups (various languages)
  • Private Cloud setup (VM's and related services for members)
  • Server (file server/web server/proxy) 
  • Laser Printer
  • Projector
  • Motion capture rig
  • Wifi 

Mundane Misc:

  • Badge maker
  • White boards
  • Power extension cables 
  • Work lights 
  • Storage systems
  • Lockers
  • A sofa bed
  • Speakers (even cheap ones, for playing music) (@predakanga;
  • Amp 
  • A water feature for the foyer
    • Copper waterlilly I made while back with pump & base


  • Coffee/Caffeinated Drink
  • A fridge for Red Bull/Mother(the new one)
    • The space has a fridge, it will require decontamination...
  • Stove
  • Kettle  
  • Microwave (if it's wanted/needed - Big)


  • Lectures and experts in Arduino 
  • Reference books
    • Cocoa programming book
    • Many "Gingery" Series books on furnace/metalworking
    • Several PIC/Micro books, electronic theory books 
    • Several Airbrushing and painting technique books
  • Magazine subscriptions - e.g. make and Circuit Cellar
    • most issues of make plus new ones as they come out 
  • Bookshelf for communal books and magazines
    • 5x7 foot bookshelves
  • Magazine holders


  • Silk-screening supplies and "wet area" (to conduct silkscreening) + vacuum frame (~24x40 inch silkscreen)
  • Letterpress equipment and engraving machine
  • Vinyl cutter
  • Sewing machine

Art Material

  • Airbrush & small compressor 
  • Paints
    • Acrylic 
  • Photographic Lights

Loan Kits:

  • Different microcontroller  
  • SBC prototyping 'kits'
  • Library of dev kits


  • Perspex/Acrylic and plexiglass
  • Thermoplastic (HIPS) offcuts 
  • Woodworking tools + wood store
  • Pigments
  • Assorted square/rectangular steel tubing 


  • Hoist
  • Engine crane(s)
  • Dyno


  • First aid kit
  • Fire blankets
  • Smoke detectors
    • As fitted in the space, require new batteries, and wiring into the space.

Performance / Film Making:

  • Blue screen
  • Stock of standard clamps / bar extensions
  • Cheap dimmer racks waiting for the lighting desk you bring with you
  • Electric piano keyboard


  • Change counting machine (surely we could make one)
  • Two cash boxes (helps for managing floats, excess cash, running simultaneous events)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Gigabit Cities. How?

I commend Julius Genachowski, Chairman of the FCC.  He wants to see a 'Gigabit City' (1000 MB internet connections to homes and businesses) in each of the 50 US states, by 2015.

But there are two big stumbling blocks in the way.  First, how does this get paid for?  Is the federal government going to help jump start this by providing infrastructure funding to help?

Apparently not.  At least, there are no plans for it at present.

Second, how do you get around all the laws being passed nationally that make it illegal for a municipality to install a gigabit network for it's citizens?  I live in Colorado and we have a law like that here that Comcast and it's friends paid off some state politicians to put into place.  The premise was 'government shouldn't compete with business'.  It makes it illegal for a municipality to put in place a Gigabit Network without first having a special election and getting the majority of the population to vote in building the network.  Comcast then comes in, funds an astroturf group, and scares the hell out of the population with BS stories about raised taxes and failed efforts by other cities to scare the population into voting against putting in a data network utility.  Sadly, many of these 'failed efforts' stories are true.  Why?  Comcast made them fail by going into these cities, cutting prices to below what the cost was for the city to build and fund the network, and ensure things like municipal bond issues designed to pay for a city owned high speed data utility would fail.

When business provides the least possible service for the most possible money, and kills off anything that might compete with it, that's not doing your economy, or your citizens, any favors.  Data networks are no longer just another business service. They are an essential utility service.  I don't want to trust that to just one company per city.  I'd like some competition, even if it's the city itself providing it.

These companies need to either embrace the opportunity and build out ahead of what they say demand is, or get out of the way.  Currently they're not embracing anything, and they are not getting out of the way (they are actively blocking it at every opportunity).

There needs to be a change at the federal level outlawing these 'cities can't play' laws keeping them out of building data networks like the Gigabit Cities our FCC chairman (and many others, myself included) want.  This is something the FCC can do now:  Campaign for a change to these stifling laws being put in place through private lobbyists, state by state, paid for by Comcast, ATT, Verizon and all the other usual suspects.

If our government really wants to jump start America's ability to compete and innovate, building super high speed data network utilities is one of THE best ways it can do that.  The prescription is simple:

1) Provide real federal funding to municipalities to build out gigabit fiber to the curb for homes and businesses. Treat it just like building out highways for our cars.
2) Repeal (and make impossible to enact) these truly stupid laws that keep cities from building their own data network utilities.

It's really pretty simple.  All you have to do is help pay for it and tell Comcast and friends to get out of the way.

The result will be an incredible jump in the vibrancy of our economy (local, state and national) and you'll see an explosion in the expansion of knowledge and the ability of our workforce to do things no other workforce in the world can come close to.

Give people the infrastructure and they'll build on top of it.  They'll build products, services, companies, institutions and communities you can't even imagine today.