Sand Dunes Dust Storm and Sun Rays (Black and White)

Sand Dunes Dust Storm and Sun Rays (Black and White)

Revisiting a 2016 folder… I don’t like the color one yet, so here’s black and white. I need to finish re-installing software & plug-ins on the computer I just built.

Posted by Jeff Sullivan (www.JeffSullivanPhotography.com) on 2020-02-14 17:33:17

Tagged: , Valley , National , Park , Death Valley , National Park , California , USA , landscape , nature , travel , photography , Canon , EOS , 5DMarkIII , road trip , photo , copyright , 2016 , Jeff , Sullivan , April , HDR , Photomatix , Death , black , white

28 New Thoughts About Montreal Tattoo Artists That Will Turn Your World Upside Down | montreal tattoo artists

28 New Thoughts About Montreal Tattoo Artists That Will Turn Your World Upside Down | montreal tattoo artists

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MONTREAL—Mighty Mouse has appear to save the Met.

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Montrealer Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts his aboriginal achievement as aloof the third music administrator in the Metropolitan Opera’s 135-year-old history aback he mounts the belvedere of the financially challenged aggregation Tuesday night in a new assembly of Verdi’s La Traviata by Tony Award-winning administrator Michael Mayer.

Some in the Met orchestra accept taken to calling the 5-foot-6-inch Montreal built-in by the affectionate animal appellation aboriginal bestowed by mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato.

“It has to do with the absurd bulk of activity and super-heroic disposition, captivated in a added bunched package,” she said in an email.

Rafael Kubelik lasted aloof six performances as the Met’s aboriginal music administrator in 1973, abandonment afterwards clashes over casting. James Levine started a 40-year administration in 1976 that lasted added than 2,300 performances; he was pushed out two years ago afterward a decade of crumbling bloom and accursed from his emeritus role aftermost March afterwards allegations of animal delinquency the Met begin to be credible.

The Met said in June 2016 that Nézet-Séguin would become music administrator for the 2020-21 season, again abashed up the calendar aftermost February.

“There’s a adolescent activity about him that’s actual sincere, and I anticipate that that brings article altered to the table,” said Sylvia Danburg Volpe, accessory arch additional violin.

Nézet-Séguin, 43, represents a generational change from the 75-year-old Levine, a agent in his prime but bedfast to administering from a automatic armchair aback 2013 due to aback injuries, his larboard arm broken by Parkinson’s disease.

Clarinetist Jessica Phillips, armchair of the Met’s orchestra committee, acquainted “in the aftermost 10 years we were larboard array of rudderless” and “it was aloof affectionate of a slow, abiding decline.” She encouraged Nézet-Séguin to move up the alpha of his tenure.

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A cartoon of him by Emmanuelle Ayrton was commissioned by the orchestra, which forth with Met accepted administrator Peter Gelb broiled Nézet-Séguin with albino afterwards a matinee of Wagner’s Parsifal aftermost winter.

“My consequence is that there is a accepted accompaniment of bliss about the house,” Gelb said.

Because of his about youth, Nézet-Séguin is added attainable and musicians are added relaxed.

“Jimmy was alarming and again like affectionate of terror-inspiring,” Phillips said. “Not that he was a dictator, but if you hadn’t formed with him for a continued aeon of time, you would be terrified. He would aloof assignment and assignment and work, and either you grew or you became actual afraid about aggregate that you were accomplishing because he would bother so much. I anticipate Jimmy would alone bother with the bodies he anticipation could abound from it.”

“I accomplished appealing continued ago that I accept activity levels a little aloft the boilerplate … but I accept no phenomenon secret,” Nézet-Séguin, 43, said recently, in a buzz account with The Canadian Press, aback asked how he juggles all his responsibilities. He has been music administrator of the Orchestre Metropolitain in Montreal aback 2000 and of the Philadelphia Orchestra aback the 2012-13 season. He was arch aqueduct of the Rotterdam Philharmonic from 2008-09 through aftermost season.

He becomes Met music administrator at a time aback admission sales accept counterbalanced at about 75 per cent of accommodation and 67 per cent of accessible box office. Levine focused on Verdi, Wagner, Mozart and Strauss but broadened the repertory. Nézet-Séguin wants to widen it alike more, accretion bizarre operas in the 4,000-capacity house.

“I feel that the orchestra is confused, not alone the orchestra, the abode is abashed at how to behave with the admeasurement of the auditorium,” he said. “I apprehend a bit too abundant about, oh it’s big here, accordingly this and that and that. I accept the box appointment and the seats issue. That is easy. But acoustically I consistently begin that actuality the admeasurement of voices, the aggregate of the voice, is not what reacts the best. What reacts best is absolutely the appropriate resonance of the voice.”

The Met hopes to present some stagings alfresco its home, accountable to abutment agreements, including Missy Mazzoli’s Breaking the Waves at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 2020.

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While Levine’s interactions with acceptance were concentrated to those on an aristocratic track, Nézet-Séguin is aperture the abode to academy groups. A chic from Queens abounding a Traviata orchestra rehearsal, and he answered questions after. A post-opera meet-and-greet is planned for the house’s new south access amplitude afterwards the additional Traviata achievement on Dec. 7.

His agreeable appulse already has been significant.

“It’s the aboriginal time that we had a aqueduct be able to acquaint the administrator what to do,” Phillips said. “It’s been the added way about for a actual continued time.”

Nézet-Séguin is an aborigine afterwards a driver’s licence, able-bodied and with a boom of a turtle captivation a billy on his appropriate shoulder. He has one assistant, Ben Spalter, additional his agency, Askonas Holt in London. Claudine Nezet, his mom, takes affliction to get his clothes and array to the appropriate city. His husband, Orchestre Metropolitain violist Pierre Tourville, tends to bodies Rodolfo, Melisande and Rafa (named afterwards Nadal) at home in Montreal but intends to move to the new two-bedroom accommodation — a six-minute airing from the Met — bodies Pelleas and Parsifal accept anesthetized on.

He got the orchestra’s absorption this abatement aback he allowable new genitalia for La Traviata to alter ones that some players had apparent up dating to the performances conducted by Carlos Kleiber in 1989. While Nézet-Séguin fabricated his Met admission on New Year’s Eve nine years ago in Bizet’s Carmen, the accord afflicted with the about-face from bedfellow aqueduct to music director.

“Whenever somebody visits, they affectionate of amusement you added like they’ve got you out on the aboriginal date. Now we’re affective in together,” Danburg Volpe said. “I can acquaint from what he says that he spent a lot of time in the abode alert to us in added performances. And so he’s affectionate of crafted a actual specific adaptation of how he wants things to apprehend in the house. And so, yes, I anticipate he wants us actuality richer. He does ask for vibrato a lot. He does appetite things a little bit longer.”

Nézet-Séguin puts it this way: “That is what we are consistently doing, demography works that were accounting a continued time ago and aggravating to go aback to the score, aback to the aboriginal argument and try to dust off the accumulated traditions. That doesn’t beggarly throwing the traditions abdicate but demography the time to check them.”

Some musicians who accept been with the orchestra for decades accept performed La Traviata so generally that they apperceive it by heart, which agency revisiting the account is decidedly absorbing for them. “It’s a adventitious to breach with routine, to stop arena on autopilot,” Nézet-Séguin said.

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Nézet-Séguin ’s affairs accommodate the aboriginal Met performances in French of Verdi’s Don Carlos in three years and Les vepres siciliennes (The Sicilian Vespers) in the Stefan Herheim staging from Covent Garden. He will conduct the Met premiere of Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking with DiDonato in 2020-21, aback he acceptable will advance six productions.

“I anticipate he will accompany with him his absurd activity and exuberance, captivated in a huge admiration to lift every achievement to its absolute potential,” DiDonato said. “He has a admirable way of accepting the artists about him to accord and to participate in a way area all of us accept a pale in the affection of what we are giving the audience. I additionally faculty in him a absolute adherence to the ability — there is no ego to attack through, no egoistic agenda. This will win the hearts of the musicians, the assemblage and the public.”

The ability will be aback home in Montreal Dec. 21 for a concert with the Orchestre Metropolitain. On Dec. 15, a alive achievement of his “La Traviata” for the Metropolitan Opera will be apparent in Cineplex theatres in Canada.

He calls it an “absolute priority” to advance acquaintance with his Canadian audience.

“I am Canadian. It’s abundant to accept important positions in the United States, which leads me to accept assertive aspects of American culture, but I abide a Montrealer,” he says.

“That is area I live, that is area my bodies live, that is area I abide to work, and that is area my accomplice works. Aback I’m not working, I appear to Montreal on weekends. So it is actual important.”

With files from The Canadian Press

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Posted by painterlegend on 2018-12-04 09:29:20

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Results are in on “Zenith City and Beyond” 500-Image CD-ROM by Jeff Lemke

Results are in on

If you enjoy pictures like the one shown on the cover of my latest project—taken at Duluth, MN. in 1966—then you’ll really enjoy my new Zenith City and Beyond 2016 digital image disc that’s available now. I announced this CD in October and made it available to subscribers for a small donation beginning on November 21st.

Positive vibes are already reaching my email INBOX, such as this one: "Just got my CD and absolutely love it! So many photos of places I have worked, brought back many memories. Thanks again for keeping Twin Ports Rail History alive." Vicki G.

As Vicki already discovered, my new CD contains 500 digital display images covering the Twin Ports of Duluth, Superior and surrounding communities—including the Mesabi Range. She used this link to find out much more information about this product before she made a small donation of just 4 cents an image!

Please check it out for yourself: conta.cc/2j3hGgI

My 2016 digital image disc is designed to be viewed digitally—perfect for viewing on your favorite digital device. And if you’re a historian like me then you’ll be happy to learn that you can use my images in a history presentation of your own, as long as they are not modified in any way. These aren’t just quick scans and copies like virtually every other history photo CD on the market today. Each of these images has been restored to remove the dust, fingerprints, film blemishes and scratches. Quality varies depending on the age and condition of the original, but overall—they look pretty darn good.

Content includes both color and black & white images that you can view on your computer through a CD-ROM drive or through your HDTV if connected to your computer network. No special software needed. Each image is its own file. Click through them one at a time or watch in slide show mode on your computer or HDTV. This is silent, no music or annoying beeps or clicks. It’s all about the photos, and each is made from an original film negative or positive.

Railroads include at minimum:

Burlington Northern Railroad
Chicago & North Western Railway
Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range Railway
Duluth & Northeastern Railroad
Duluth, Winnipeg & Pacific Railway
Great Northern Railway
Lake Superior Terminal & Transfer Railway
Northern Pacific Railway
Milwaukee Road
Soo Line

I’ve included many different industrial topics from around the area too. There are pictures taken from the air and high vantage points, shots of depots, buildings, bridges, trains, train cars, steam and diesel locomotives and details, boats, industries, ore docks, ore trains, ore cars, ore mines, signs, railroad men, interlocking towers, rail yards, roundhouses, and pretty much anything else you can imagine. The oldest image on the CD go back to 1889 while most were taken during the 1950s-1980s. Only a scant handful are more recent than 1980. So please consider making a donation today to help me do much more in 2017. There is a book in the works too so be sure that you are subscribed to my once-a-month e-Newsletter to receive those updates by email.

Thanks so much for your interest and very kind support.

Here’s that information link again: conta.cc/2hZ5Jr9

Cheers!

Posted by Twin Ports Rail History on 2016-11-26 15:16:51

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Cuba & US 2016 – Update 25/5/16 – Cuba legalises small and medium private businesses – BBC

Cuba & US 2016 - Update 25/5/16 - Cuba legalises small and medium private businesses - BBC

Why even Google can’t connect Cuba

Reports say Google intends to help wire Cuba and bring the island into the 21st century. But that’s not going to happen.

By – Mike Elgan
Computerworld | Apr 18, 2016 3:00 AM PT

When President Obama said in Havana last month that Google would be working to improve Internet access in Cuba, I wondered what Google might do in Cuba that other companies could not.Today, Cuba is an Internet desert where only 5% of trusted elites are allowed to have (slow dial-up) Internet connections at home, and a paltry 400,000 people access the Internet through sidewalk Wi-Fi hotspots. These hotspots have existed for only a year or so. Also, some 2.5 million Cubans have government-created email accounts, but no Web access.I spent a month in Cuba until last week, and I was there when the president spoke. I’m here to report that those government Wi-Fi hotspots are rare, slow and expensive. While in Cuba, my wife, son and I spent about $300 on Wi-Fi. In a country where the average wage ranges from $15 to $30 per month, connecting is a massive financial burden available only to a lucky minority with private businesses or generous relatives in Miami.
And this is why I think the possibilities of what Google might accomplish in Cuba are misunderstood.It’s not as if Cuba would have ubiquitous, affordable and fast Internet access if it just had the money or expertise to make it happen. The problem is that Cuba is a totalitarian Communist dictatorship.The outrageous price charged for Wi-Fi in Cuba can’t possibly reflect the cost of providing the service. The price is really a way to restrict greater freedom of information to those who benefit from the Cuban system.The strange Wi-Fi card system is also a tool of political control. In order to buy a card, you have to show your ID, and your information is entered into the system. Everything done online using a specific Wi-Fi card is associated with a specific person.The Cuban government allows people to run privately owned small hotels, called casas particulares, and small home restaurants, called paladares. The owners of these small businesses would love to provide their guests with Wi-Fi, but the Cuban government doesn’t allow it. Nor does it allow state-owned restaurants, bars and cafes to provide Wi-Fi.Google is connected to the global Internet through satellite networks. Cuba is connected to the Internet by an undersea fiber-optic cable that runs between the island and Venezuela. The cable was completed in 2011, and it existed as a "darknet" connection for two years before suddenly going online in 2013.So here’s the problem with Google as the solution: The Cuban government uses high prices and draconian laws to prevent the majority of Cubans from having any access to the Internet at all. The government actively prevents access as a matter of policy. It’s not a technical problem. It’s a political one.In other words, Cuba doesn’t need Google to provide hotspots. If the Cuban government allowed hotspots, Cubans would provide them.
Everyday Google tech is ‘Art’ in Cuba
While I was visiting Cuba, a permanent "exhibit" called Google+Kcho.MOR was on display at an art and cultural center in Havana that also promotes technology. Kcho (pronounced "KAW-cho") is the nickname of a brilliant, enterprising, prolific and self-promoting Cuban mixed-media artist named Alexis Leiva Machado. Kcho lives at the center, which he deliberately built in the traditionally poor Havana neighborhood of Romerillo, where he grew up. The M-O-R at the end of the exhibit’s name are the initials of the walled, multibuilding compound: Museo Orgánico Romerillo.I took a Cuban death-cab to the Museo Orgánico Romerillo. And, no, the cab wasn’t one of those awesome American classico beauties from the 1950s that you see in all the pictures of Cuba. The vehicle was a tiny, charmless Eastern European clunker from the 1970s with a top speed of about 45 mph, stripped on the inside of all paneling and lining (presumably by a fire, because everything was black inside) and held together by wire, tape, glue and optimism — and I swear the exhaust pipe was somewhere inside the car. (Oh, what this correspondent isn’t willing to do for his cherished readers.)The exhibit is an astonishing oddity to Cubans who have never traveled abroad, but it’s packed with oldish, cheap, everyday Google gear: 20 Chromebooks, Google Cardboard goggles powered by Nexus phones — and something that has never, ever existed anywhere in Cuba: free Wi-Fi.Of course, there’s no such thing as free Wi-Fi, especially in Cuba. Kcho reportedly pays the Cuban government some $900 per month for the access. The free Wi-Fi, which I saw scores of locals using with their phones, is really subsidized. The Cuban government still gets paid. (The password for the free Wi-Fi is abajoelbloqueo — which translates, roughly, to "down with the embargo.")The free Wi-Fi is the same slow, unreliable connection that a minority of Cubans elsewhere get to enjoy, minus the cost and the cards. The Chromebooks, on the other hand, offer a magic Google connection some 70 times faster than regular Cuban Wi-Fi. Only 20 people at a time can enjoy the fast-connection Chromebooks, and each for just one hour at a time. When I was there, every Chromebook was in use, and each user’s focus on the screen was total, as you can imagine.The "exhibit" also had Google Cardboard viewers. (I had read the center has 100 of them, but I saw only about a dozen.) To use them, you ask a guy working there, and he grabs a Nexus phone from a drawer and walks you through the process of launching the Cardboard app and starting it. Each Cardboard viewer has preloaded content — in my case I enjoyed a Photosphere of Tokyo.During the half hour I spent in the Google+Kcho.MOR space, nobody else tried Google Cardboard. And that makes sense. With no ability to create or explore Carboard content, it’s just a parlor trick to be enjoyed for a minute or two. I got the feeling that all the people there had "been there, done that" with Cardboard and resumed their obsession with Internet connectivity.It was, however, obvious that the two people helping us were used to minds being completely blown by the Google Cardboard and Chromebook experiences. I didn’t have the heart to mention that I’ve owned several pairs of Cardboard for two years and Chromebooks for three years.The Google+Kcho.MOR installation is called an "exhibit," but it’s not. In reality, it’s a co-marketing, co-branding effort.For the Kcho "brand," it’s a "gateway drug" to lure Cuba’s youth to the museum and get them excited about art, culture and the world of Kcho. Along with a cheap snack bar, the free Wi-Fi and the hour a day on the fastest laptops in Cuba successfully bring hundreds of Cuban kids to the center each day, and the Google+Kcho.MOR is the main event.For Google, it’s a massive branding effort. (Google declined to comment for this story.)Nobody was willing to talk about it, but it’s clear that Google is spreading some cash around here. There’s so much Google branding on everything in and on the Google+Kcho.MOR building, it looks like it could be at the Googleplex itself.Even elsewhere in the compound, the Google logo is everywhere. It’s in several outdoor spots where the free Wi-Fi is used, including all over the snack bar that serves coffee and soda.If you’re reading this, you probably live in a country awash in marketing, co-marketing and branding on every surface. But the ubiquity of Google branding at the entire Museo Orgánico Romerillo compound may be unique in Cuba. This is a country without a single Coca-Cola sign or billboard, zero ads anywhere for anything (other than political propaganda for the revolution and its leaders and ideals).During the month I spent in in Cuba, I saw exactly six major public consumer branding units, and all of them were at the Museo Orgánico Romerillo, and all of them were about Google (and Kcho). That makes Google by far the most heavily branded and marketed company in Cuba — in fact, the only one.As far as I can tell, Google is getting away with it only because Kcho is massively favored by the Castro regime and the marketing is all presented as "art" or in the promotion of art.
What Google is really accomplishing in Cuba
Google appears to have begun its entry into Cuba in June 2014, when its executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, visited Cuba after slamming the U.S. embargo in a Google+ post. The visit was not reported in Cuba at the time.Schmidt was accompanied on his trip by Brett Perlmutter, who was later appointed Cuba lead for Alphabet, Google’s parent company, as part of the Jigsaw organization, a "think tank" that actually initiates programs for making the world a better place, and was formerly known as "Google Ideas."In January 2015, Perlmutter, as well as Jigsaw’s deputy director, Scott Carpenter, toured Cuba together.One of their goals on that trip was to visit computer science students at the University of Information Science, as well as young Cuban Internet users. Another goal, it’s easy to guess, was to meet with cultural figures like Kcho, and also key figures in the Cuban government.Put another way, Google has been making friends and laying the groundwork for a future when the Cuban government allows greater and better Internet access.No, Google isn’t laying fiber, launching balloons or installing equipment all over Cuba. It’s not planning to sprinkle fast, free, magic Google Wi-Fi all over the island.The best Google can do for now is make friends and influence people.Cuba won’t join the rest of the world in ubiquitous Internet access until the Cuban government either becomes less repressive, or falls out of power. When that happens, Google, as the dominant and best-connected tech brand, will be ready.Until then, no amount of magic Google pixie dust can help the Cuban people.

Posted by Boaz Guttman בועז גוטמן ГУТМАН on 2016-05-25 16:36:21

Tagged: , Cuba , US , 2016

First US Carnival Cruise Arrival in Cuba

First US Carnival Cruise Arrival in Cuba

Why even Google can’t connect Cuba

Reports say Google intends to help wire Cuba and bring the island into the 21st century. But that’s not going to happen.

By – Mike Elgan
Computerworld | Apr 18, 2016 3:00 AM PT

When President Obama said in Havana last month that Google would be working to improve Internet access in Cuba, I wondered what Google might do in Cuba that other companies could not.Today, Cuba is an Internet desert where only 5% of trusted elites are allowed to have (slow dial-up) Internet connections at home, and a paltry 400,000 people access the Internet through sidewalk Wi-Fi hotspots. These hotspots have existed for only a year or so. Also, some 2.5 million Cubans have government-created email accounts, but no Web access.I spent a month in Cuba until last week, and I was there when the president spoke. I’m here to report that those government Wi-Fi hotspots are rare, slow and expensive. While in Cuba, my wife, son and I spent about $300 on Wi-Fi. In a country where the average wage ranges from $15 to $30 per month, connecting is a massive financial burden available only to a lucky minority with private businesses or generous relatives in Miami.
And this is why I think the possibilities of what Google might accomplish in Cuba are misunderstood.It’s not as if Cuba would have ubiquitous, affordable and fast Internet access if it just had the money or expertise to make it happen. The problem is that Cuba is a totalitarian Communist dictatorship.The outrageous price charged for Wi-Fi in Cuba can’t possibly reflect the cost of providing the service. The price is really a way to restrict greater freedom of information to those who benefit from the Cuban system.The strange Wi-Fi card system is also a tool of political control. In order to buy a card, you have to show your ID, and your information is entered into the system. Everything done online using a specific Wi-Fi card is associated with a specific person.The Cuban government allows people to run privately owned small hotels, called casas particulares, and small home restaurants, called paladares. The owners of these small businesses would love to provide their guests with Wi-Fi, but the Cuban government doesn’t allow it. Nor does it allow state-owned restaurants, bars and cafes to provide Wi-Fi.Google is connected to the global Internet through satellite networks. Cuba is connected to the Internet by an undersea fiber-optic cable that runs between the island and Venezuela. The cable was completed in 2011, and it existed as a "darknet" connection for two years before suddenly going online in 2013.So here’s the problem with Google as the solution: The Cuban government uses high prices and draconian laws to prevent the majority of Cubans from having any access to the Internet at all. The government actively prevents access as a matter of policy. It’s not a technical problem. It’s a political one.In other words, Cuba doesn’t need Google to provide hotspots. If the Cuban government allowed hotspots, Cubans would provide them.
Everyday Google tech is ‘Art’ in Cuba
While I was visiting Cuba, a permanent "exhibit" called Google+Kcho.MOR was on display at an art and cultural center in Havana that also promotes technology. Kcho (pronounced "KAW-cho") is the nickname of a brilliant, enterprising, prolific and self-promoting Cuban mixed-media artist named Alexis Leiva Machado. Kcho lives at the center, which he deliberately built in the traditionally poor Havana neighborhood of Romerillo, where he grew up. The M-O-R at the end of the exhibit’s name are the initials of the walled, multibuilding compound: Museo Orgánico Romerillo.I took a Cuban death-cab to the Museo Orgánico Romerillo. And, no, the cab wasn’t one of those awesome American classico beauties from the 1950s that you see in all the pictures of Cuba. The vehicle was a tiny, charmless Eastern European clunker from the 1970s with a top speed of about 45 mph, stripped on the inside of all paneling and lining (presumably by a fire, because everything was black inside) and held together by wire, tape, glue and optimism — and I swear the exhaust pipe was somewhere inside the car. (Oh, what this correspondent isn’t willing to do for his cherished readers.)The exhibit is an astonishing oddity to Cubans who have never traveled abroad, but it’s packed with oldish, cheap, everyday Google gear: 20 Chromebooks, Google Cardboard goggles powered by Nexus phones — and something that has never, ever existed anywhere in Cuba: free Wi-Fi.Of course, there’s no such thing as free Wi-Fi, especially in Cuba. Kcho reportedly pays the Cuban government some $900 per month for the access. The free Wi-Fi, which I saw scores of locals using with their phones, is really subsidized. The Cuban government still gets paid. (The password for the free Wi-Fi is abajoelbloqueo — which translates, roughly, to "down with the embargo.")The free Wi-Fi is the same slow, unreliable connection that a minority of Cubans elsewhere get to enjoy, minus the cost and the cards. The Chromebooks, on the other hand, offer a magic Google connection some 70 times faster than regular Cuban Wi-Fi. Only 20 people at a time can enjoy the fast-connection Chromebooks, and each for just one hour at a time. When I was there, every Chromebook was in use, and each user’s focus on the screen was total, as you can imagine.The "exhibit" also had Google Cardboard viewers. (I had read the center has 100 of them, but I saw only about a dozen.) To use them, you ask a guy working there, and he grabs a Nexus phone from a drawer and walks you through the process of launching the Cardboard app and starting it. Each Cardboard viewer has preloaded content — in my case I enjoyed a Photosphere of Tokyo.During the half hour I spent in the Google+Kcho.MOR space, nobody else tried Google Cardboard. And that makes sense. With no ability to create or explore Carboard content, it’s just a parlor trick to be enjoyed for a minute or two. I got the feeling that all the people there had "been there, done that" with Cardboard and resumed their obsession with Internet connectivity.It was, however, obvious that the two people helping us were used to minds being completely blown by the Google Cardboard and Chromebook experiences. I didn’t have the heart to mention that I’ve owned several pairs of Cardboard for two years and Chromebooks for three years.The Google+Kcho.MOR installation is called an "exhibit," but it’s not. In reality, it’s a co-marketing, co-branding effort.For the Kcho "brand," it’s a "gateway drug" to lure Cuba’s youth to the museum and get them excited about art, culture and the world of Kcho. Along with a cheap snack bar, the free Wi-Fi and the hour a day on the fastest laptops in Cuba successfully bring hundreds of Cuban kids to the center each day, and the Google+Kcho.MOR is the main event.For Google, it’s a massive branding effort. (Google declined to comment for this story.)Nobody was willing to talk about it, but it’s clear that Google is spreading some cash around here. There’s so much Google branding on everything in and on the Google+Kcho.MOR building, it looks like it could be at the Googleplex itself.Even elsewhere in the compound, the Google logo is everywhere. It’s in several outdoor spots where the free Wi-Fi is used, including all over the snack bar that serves coffee and soda.If you’re reading this, you probably live in a country awash in marketing, co-marketing and branding on every surface. But the ubiquity of Google branding at the entire Museo Orgánico Romerillo compound may be unique in Cuba. This is a country without a single Coca-Cola sign or billboard, zero ads anywhere for anything (other than political propaganda for the revolution and its leaders and ideals).During the month I spent in in Cuba, I saw exactly six major public consumer branding units, and all of them were at the Museo Orgánico Romerillo, and all of them were about Google (and Kcho). That makes Google by far the most heavily branded and marketed company in Cuba — in fact, the only one.As far as I can tell, Google is getting away with it only because Kcho is massively favored by the Castro regime and the marketing is all presented as "art" or in the promotion of art.
What Google is really accomplishing in Cuba
Google appears to have begun its entry into Cuba in June 2014, when its executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, visited Cuba after slamming the U.S. embargo in a Google+ post. The visit was not reported in Cuba at the time.Schmidt was accompanied on his trip by Brett Perlmutter, who was later appointed Cuba lead for Alphabet, Google’s parent company, as part of the Jigsaw organization, a "think tank" that actually initiates programs for making the world a better place, and was formerly known as "Google Ideas."In January 2015, Perlmutter, as well as Jigsaw’s deputy director, Scott Carpenter, toured Cuba together.One of their goals on that trip was to visit computer science students at the University of Information Science, as well as young Cuban Internet users. Another goal, it’s easy to guess, was to meet with cultural figures like Kcho, and also key figures in the Cuban government.Put another way, Google has been making friends and laying the groundwork for a future when the Cuban government allows greater and better Internet access.No, Google isn’t laying fiber, launching balloons or installing equipment all over Cuba. It’s not planning to sprinkle fast, free, magic Google Wi-Fi all over the island.The best Google can do for now is make friends and influence people.Cuba won’t join the rest of the world in ubiquitous Internet access until the Cuban government either becomes less repressive, or falls out of power. When that happens, Google, as the dominant and best-connected tech brand, will be ready.Until then, no amount of magic Google pixie dust can help the Cuban people.

Posted by Boaz Guttman בועז גוטמן ГУТМАН on 2016-05-25 21:56:26

Tagged: , Cuba , US , 2016

CNN : Carnival Cruise sails for Cuba

CNN : Carnival Cruise sails for Cuba

Why even Google can’t connect Cuba

Reports say Google intends to help wire Cuba and bring the island into the 21st century. But that’s not going to happen.

By – Mike Elgan
Computerworld | Apr 18, 2016 3:00 AM PT

When President Obama said in Havana last month that Google would be working to improve Internet access in Cuba, I wondered what Google might do in Cuba that other companies could not.Today, Cuba is an Internet desert where only 5% of trusted elites are allowed to have (slow dial-up) Internet connections at home, and a paltry 400,000 people access the Internet through sidewalk Wi-Fi hotspots. These hotspots have existed for only a year or so. Also, some 2.5 million Cubans have government-created email accounts, but no Web access.I spent a month in Cuba until last week, and I was there when the president spoke. I’m here to report that those government Wi-Fi hotspots are rare, slow and expensive. While in Cuba, my wife, son and I spent about $300 on Wi-Fi. In a country where the average wage ranges from $15 to $30 per month, connecting is a massive financial burden available only to a lucky minority with private businesses or generous relatives in Miami.
And this is why I think the possibilities of what Google might accomplish in Cuba are misunderstood.It’s not as if Cuba would have ubiquitous, affordable and fast Internet access if it just had the money or expertise to make it happen. The problem is that Cuba is a totalitarian Communist dictatorship.The outrageous price charged for Wi-Fi in Cuba can’t possibly reflect the cost of providing the service. The price is really a way to restrict greater freedom of information to those who benefit from the Cuban system.The strange Wi-Fi card system is also a tool of political control. In order to buy a card, you have to show your ID, and your information is entered into the system. Everything done online using a specific Wi-Fi card is associated with a specific person.The Cuban government allows people to run privately owned small hotels, called casas particulares, and small home restaurants, called paladares. The owners of these small businesses would love to provide their guests with Wi-Fi, but the Cuban government doesn’t allow it. Nor does it allow state-owned restaurants, bars and cafes to provide Wi-Fi.Google is connected to the global Internet through satellite networks. Cuba is connected to the Internet by an undersea fiber-optic cable that runs between the island and Venezuela. The cable was completed in 2011, and it existed as a "darknet" connection for two years before suddenly going online in 2013.So here’s the problem with Google as the solution: The Cuban government uses high prices and draconian laws to prevent the majority of Cubans from having any access to the Internet at all. The government actively prevents access as a matter of policy. It’s not a technical problem. It’s a political one.In other words, Cuba doesn’t need Google to provide hotspots. If the Cuban government allowed hotspots, Cubans would provide them.
Everyday Google tech is ‘Art’ in Cuba
While I was visiting Cuba, a permanent "exhibit" called Google+Kcho.MOR was on display at an art and cultural center in Havana that also promotes technology. Kcho (pronounced "KAW-cho") is the nickname of a brilliant, enterprising, prolific and self-promoting Cuban mixed-media artist named Alexis Leiva Machado. Kcho lives at the center, which he deliberately built in the traditionally poor Havana neighborhood of Romerillo, where he grew up. The M-O-R at the end of the exhibit’s name are the initials of the walled, multibuilding compound: Museo Orgánico Romerillo.I took a Cuban death-cab to the Museo Orgánico Romerillo. And, no, the cab wasn’t one of those awesome American classico beauties from the 1950s that you see in all the pictures of Cuba. The vehicle was a tiny, charmless Eastern European clunker from the 1970s with a top speed of about 45 mph, stripped on the inside of all paneling and lining (presumably by a fire, because everything was black inside) and held together by wire, tape, glue and optimism — and I swear the exhaust pipe was somewhere inside the car. (Oh, what this correspondent isn’t willing to do for his cherished readers.)The exhibit is an astonishing oddity to Cubans who have never traveled abroad, but it’s packed with oldish, cheap, everyday Google gear: 20 Chromebooks, Google Cardboard goggles powered by Nexus phones — and something that has never, ever existed anywhere in Cuba: free Wi-Fi.Of course, there’s no such thing as free Wi-Fi, especially in Cuba. Kcho reportedly pays the Cuban government some $900 per month for the access. The free Wi-Fi, which I saw scores of locals using with their phones, is really subsidized. The Cuban government still gets paid. (The password for the free Wi-Fi is abajoelbloqueo — which translates, roughly, to "down with the embargo.")The free Wi-Fi is the same slow, unreliable connection that a minority of Cubans elsewhere get to enjoy, minus the cost and the cards. The Chromebooks, on the other hand, offer a magic Google connection some 70 times faster than regular Cuban Wi-Fi. Only 20 people at a time can enjoy the fast-connection Chromebooks, and each for just one hour at a time. When I was there, every Chromebook was in use, and each user’s focus on the screen was total, as you can imagine.The "exhibit" also had Google Cardboard viewers. (I had read the center has 100 of them, but I saw only about a dozen.) To use them, you ask a guy working there, and he grabs a Nexus phone from a drawer and walks you through the process of launching the Cardboard app and starting it. Each Cardboard viewer has preloaded content — in my case I enjoyed a Photosphere of Tokyo.During the half hour I spent in the Google+Kcho.MOR space, nobody else tried Google Cardboard. And that makes sense. With no ability to create or explore Carboard content, it’s just a parlor trick to be enjoyed for a minute or two. I got the feeling that all the people there had "been there, done that" with Cardboard and resumed their obsession with Internet connectivity.It was, however, obvious that the two people helping us were used to minds being completely blown by the Google Cardboard and Chromebook experiences. I didn’t have the heart to mention that I’ve owned several pairs of Cardboard for two years and Chromebooks for three years.The Google+Kcho.MOR installation is called an "exhibit," but it’s not. In reality, it’s a co-marketing, co-branding effort.For the Kcho "brand," it’s a "gateway drug" to lure Cuba’s youth to the museum and get them excited about art, culture and the world of Kcho. Along with a cheap snack bar, the free Wi-Fi and the hour a day on the fastest laptops in Cuba successfully bring hundreds of Cuban kids to the center each day, and the Google+Kcho.MOR is the main event.For Google, it’s a massive branding effort. (Google declined to comment for this story.)Nobody was willing to talk about it, but it’s clear that Google is spreading some cash around here. There’s so much Google branding on everything in and on the Google+Kcho.MOR building, it looks like it could be at the Googleplex itself.Even elsewhere in the compound, the Google logo is everywhere. It’s in several outdoor spots where the free Wi-Fi is used, including all over the snack bar that serves coffee and soda.If you’re reading this, you probably live in a country awash in marketing, co-marketing and branding on every surface. But the ubiquity of Google branding at the entire Museo Orgánico Romerillo compound may be unique in Cuba. This is a country without a single Coca-Cola sign or billboard, zero ads anywhere for anything (other than political propaganda for the revolution and its leaders and ideals).During the month I spent in in Cuba, I saw exactly six major public consumer branding units, and all of them were at the Museo Orgánico Romerillo, and all of them were about Google (and Kcho). That makes Google by far the most heavily branded and marketed company in Cuba — in fact, the only one.As far as I can tell, Google is getting away with it only because Kcho is massively favored by the Castro regime and the marketing is all presented as "art" or in the promotion of art.
What Google is really accomplishing in Cuba
Google appears to have begun its entry into Cuba in June 2014, when its executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, visited Cuba after slamming the U.S. embargo in a Google+ post. The visit was not reported in Cuba at the time.Schmidt was accompanied on his trip by Brett Perlmutter, who was later appointed Cuba lead for Alphabet, Google’s parent company, as part of the Jigsaw organization, a "think tank" that actually initiates programs for making the world a better place, and was formerly known as "Google Ideas."In January 2015, Perlmutter, as well as Jigsaw’s deputy director, Scott Carpenter, toured Cuba together.One of their goals on that trip was to visit computer science students at the University of Information Science, as well as young Cuban Internet users. Another goal, it’s easy to guess, was to meet with cultural figures like Kcho, and also key figures in the Cuban government.Put another way, Google has been making friends and laying the groundwork for a future when the Cuban government allows greater and better Internet access.No, Google isn’t laying fiber, launching balloons or installing equipment all over Cuba. It’s not planning to sprinkle fast, free, magic Google Wi-Fi all over the island.The best Google can do for now is make friends and influence people.Cuba won’t join the rest of the world in ubiquitous Internet access until the Cuban government either becomes less repressive, or falls out of power. When that happens, Google, as the dominant and best-connected tech brand, will be ready.Until then, no amount of magic Google pixie dust can help the Cuban people.

Posted by Boaz Guttman בועז גוטמן ГУТМАН on 2016-05-25 21:52:50

Tagged: , Cuba , US , 2016

Cuba & US 2016 – Update 21/5/16 – Trinidad Night Waits for US – Trinidad – central Cuba – town in the province of Sancti Spíritus.Together with the nearby Valle de los Ingenios, one of UNESCOs World Heritage sites.Founded 23/12/1514

Cuba & US 2016 - Update 21/5/16 - Trinidad Night Waits for US - Trinidad - central Cuba - town in the province of Sancti Spíritus.Together with the nearby Valle de los Ingenios, one of UNESCOs World Heritage sites.Founded 23/12/1514

Why even Google can’t connect Cuba

Reports say Google intends to help wire Cuba and bring the island into the 21st century. But that’s not going to happen.

By – Mike Elgan
Computerworld | Apr 18, 2016 3:00 AM PT

When President Obama said in Havana last month that Google would be working to improve Internet access in Cuba, I wondered what Google might do in Cuba that other companies could not.Today, Cuba is an Internet desert where only 5% of trusted elites are allowed to have (slow dial-up) Internet connections at home, and a paltry 400,000 people access the Internet through sidewalk Wi-Fi hotspots. These hotspots have existed for only a year or so. Also, some 2.5 million Cubans have government-created email accounts, but no Web access.I spent a month in Cuba until last week, and I was there when the president spoke. I’m here to report that those government Wi-Fi hotspots are rare, slow and expensive. While in Cuba, my wife, son and I spent about $300 on Wi-Fi. In a country where the average wage ranges from $15 to $30 per month, connecting is a massive financial burden available only to a lucky minority with private businesses or generous relatives in Miami.
And this is why I think the possibilities of what Google might accomplish in Cuba are misunderstood.It’s not as if Cuba would have ubiquitous, affordable and fast Internet access if it just had the money or expertise to make it happen. The problem is that Cuba is a totalitarian Communist dictatorship.The outrageous price charged for Wi-Fi in Cuba can’t possibly reflect the cost of providing the service. The price is really a way to restrict greater freedom of information to those who benefit from the Cuban system.The strange Wi-Fi card system is also a tool of political control. In order to buy a card, you have to show your ID, and your information is entered into the system. Everything done online using a specific Wi-Fi card is associated with a specific person.The Cuban government allows people to run privately owned small hotels, called casas particulares, and small home restaurants, called paladares. The owners of these small businesses would love to provide their guests with Wi-Fi, but the Cuban government doesn’t allow it. Nor does it allow state-owned restaurants, bars and cafes to provide Wi-Fi.Google is connected to the global Internet through satellite networks. Cuba is connected to the Internet by an undersea fiber-optic cable that runs between the island and Venezuela. The cable was completed in 2011, and it existed as a "darknet" connection for two years before suddenly going online in 2013.So here’s the problem with Google as the solution: The Cuban government uses high prices and draconian laws to prevent the majority of Cubans from having any access to the Internet at all. The government actively prevents access as a matter of policy. It’s not a technical problem. It’s a political one.In other words, Cuba doesn’t need Google to provide hotspots. If the Cuban government allowed hotspots, Cubans would provide them.
Everyday Google tech is ‘Art’ in Cuba
While I was visiting Cuba, a permanent "exhibit" called Google+Kcho.MOR was on display at an art and cultural center in Havana that also promotes technology. Kcho (pronounced "KAW-cho") is the nickname of a brilliant, enterprising, prolific and self-promoting Cuban mixed-media artist named Alexis Leiva Machado. Kcho lives at the center, which he deliberately built in the traditionally poor Havana neighborhood of Romerillo, where he grew up. The M-O-R at the end of the exhibit’s name are the initials of the walled, multibuilding compound: Museo Orgánico Romerillo.I took a Cuban death-cab to the Museo Orgánico Romerillo. And, no, the cab wasn’t one of those awesome American classico beauties from the 1950s that you see in all the pictures of Cuba. The vehicle was a tiny, charmless Eastern European clunker from the 1970s with a top speed of about 45 mph, stripped on the inside of all paneling and lining (presumably by a fire, because everything was black inside) and held together by wire, tape, glue and optimism — and I swear the exhaust pipe was somewhere inside the car. (Oh, what this correspondent isn’t willing to do for his cherished readers.)The exhibit is an astonishing oddity to Cubans who have never traveled abroad, but it’s packed with oldish, cheap, everyday Google gear: 20 Chromebooks, Google Cardboard goggles powered by Nexus phones — and something that has never, ever existed anywhere in Cuba: free Wi-Fi.Of course, there’s no such thing as free Wi-Fi, especially in Cuba. Kcho reportedly pays the Cuban government some $900 per month for the access. The free Wi-Fi, which I saw scores of locals using with their phones, is really subsidized. The Cuban government still gets paid. (The password for the free Wi-Fi is abajoelbloqueo — which translates, roughly, to "down with the embargo.")The free Wi-Fi is the same slow, unreliable connection that a minority of Cubans elsewhere get to enjoy, minus the cost and the cards. The Chromebooks, on the other hand, offer a magic Google connection some 70 times faster than regular Cuban Wi-Fi. Only 20 people at a time can enjoy the fast-connection Chromebooks, and each for just one hour at a time. When I was there, every Chromebook was in use, and each user’s focus on the screen was total, as you can imagine.The "exhibit" also had Google Cardboard viewers. (I had read the center has 100 of them, but I saw only about a dozen.) To use them, you ask a guy working there, and he grabs a Nexus phone from a drawer and walks you through the process of launching the Cardboard app and starting it. Each Cardboard viewer has preloaded content — in my case I enjoyed a Photosphere of Tokyo.During the half hour I spent in the Google+Kcho.MOR space, nobody else tried Google Cardboard. And that makes sense. With no ability to create or explore Carboard content, it’s just a parlor trick to be enjoyed for a minute or two. I got the feeling that all the people there had "been there, done that" with Cardboard and resumed their obsession with Internet connectivity.It was, however, obvious that the two people helping us were used to minds being completely blown by the Google Cardboard and Chromebook experiences. I didn’t have the heart to mention that I’ve owned several pairs of Cardboard for two years and Chromebooks for three years.The Google+Kcho.MOR installation is called an "exhibit," but it’s not. In reality, it’s a co-marketing, co-branding effort.For the Kcho "brand," it’s a "gateway drug" to lure Cuba’s youth to the museum and get them excited about art, culture and the world of Kcho. Along with a cheap snack bar, the free Wi-Fi and the hour a day on the fastest laptops in Cuba successfully bring hundreds of Cuban kids to the center each day, and the Google+Kcho.MOR is the main event.For Google, it’s a massive branding effort. (Google declined to comment for this story.)Nobody was willing to talk about it, but it’s clear that Google is spreading some cash around here. There’s so much Google branding on everything in and on the Google+Kcho.MOR building, it looks like it could be at the Googleplex itself.Even elsewhere in the compound, the Google logo is everywhere. It’s in several outdoor spots where the free Wi-Fi is used, including all over the snack bar that serves coffee and soda.If you’re reading this, you probably live in a country awash in marketing, co-marketing and branding on every surface. But the ubiquity of Google branding at the entire Museo Orgánico Romerillo compound may be unique in Cuba. This is a country without a single Coca-Cola sign or billboard, zero ads anywhere for anything (other than political propaganda for the revolution and its leaders and ideals).During the month I spent in in Cuba, I saw exactly six major public consumer branding units, and all of them were at the Museo Orgánico Romerillo, and all of them were about Google (and Kcho). That makes Google by far the most heavily branded and marketed company in Cuba — in fact, the only one.As far as I can tell, Google is getting away with it only because Kcho is massively favored by the Castro regime and the marketing is all presented as "art" or in the promotion of art.
What Google is really accomplishing in Cuba
Google appears to have begun its entry into Cuba in June 2014, when its executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, visited Cuba after slamming the U.S. embargo in a Google+ post. The visit was not reported in Cuba at the time.Schmidt was accompanied on his trip by Brett Perlmutter, who was later appointed Cuba lead for Alphabet, Google’s parent company, as part of the Jigsaw organization, a "think tank" that actually initiates programs for making the world a better place, and was formerly known as "Google Ideas."In January 2015, Perlmutter, as well as Jigsaw’s deputy director, Scott Carpenter, toured Cuba together.One of their goals on that trip was to visit computer science students at the University of Information Science, as well as young Cuban Internet users. Another goal, it’s easy to guess, was to meet with cultural figures like Kcho, and also key figures in the Cuban government.Put another way, Google has been making friends and laying the groundwork for a future when the Cuban government allows greater and better Internet access.No, Google isn’t laying fiber, launching balloons or installing equipment all over Cuba. It’s not planning to sprinkle fast, free, magic Google Wi-Fi all over the island.The best Google can do for now is make friends and influence people.Cuba won’t join the rest of the world in ubiquitous Internet access until the Cuban government either becomes less repressive, or falls out of power. When that happens, Google, as the dominant and best-connected tech brand, will be ready.Until then, no amount of magic Google pixie dust can help the Cuban people.

Posted by Boaz Guttman בועז גוטמן ГУТМАН on 2016-05-21 22:20:45

Tagged: , Cuba , US , 2016

Cuba & US 2016 – Update 21/5/16 – Trinidad Night Waits for US – Trinidad – central Cuba – town in the province of Sancti Spíritus.Together with the nearby Valle de los Ingenios, one of UNESCOs World Heritage sites.Founded 23/12/1514

Cuba & US 2016 - Update 21/5/16 - Trinidad Night Waits for US - Trinidad - central Cuba - town in the province of Sancti Spíritus.Together with the nearby Valle de los Ingenios, one of UNESCOs World Heritage sites.Founded 23/12/1514

Why even Google can’t connect Cuba

Reports say Google intends to help wire Cuba and bring the island into the 21st century. But that’s not going to happen.

By – Mike Elgan
Computerworld | Apr 18, 2016 3:00 AM PT

When President Obama said in Havana last month that Google would be working to improve Internet access in Cuba, I wondered what Google might do in Cuba that other companies could not.Today, Cuba is an Internet desert where only 5% of trusted elites are allowed to have (slow dial-up) Internet connections at home, and a paltry 400,000 people access the Internet through sidewalk Wi-Fi hotspots. These hotspots have existed for only a year or so. Also, some 2.5 million Cubans have government-created email accounts, but no Web access.I spent a month in Cuba until last week, and I was there when the president spoke. I’m here to report that those government Wi-Fi hotspots are rare, slow and expensive. While in Cuba, my wife, son and I spent about $300 on Wi-Fi. In a country where the average wage ranges from $15 to $30 per month, connecting is a massive financial burden available only to a lucky minority with private businesses or generous relatives in Miami.
And this is why I think the possibilities of what Google might accomplish in Cuba are misunderstood.It’s not as if Cuba would have ubiquitous, affordable and fast Internet access if it just had the money or expertise to make it happen. The problem is that Cuba is a totalitarian Communist dictatorship.The outrageous price charged for Wi-Fi in Cuba can’t possibly reflect the cost of providing the service. The price is really a way to restrict greater freedom of information to those who benefit from the Cuban system.The strange Wi-Fi card system is also a tool of political control. In order to buy a card, you have to show your ID, and your information is entered into the system. Everything done online using a specific Wi-Fi card is associated with a specific person.The Cuban government allows people to run privately owned small hotels, called casas particulares, and small home restaurants, called paladares. The owners of these small businesses would love to provide their guests with Wi-Fi, but the Cuban government doesn’t allow it. Nor does it allow state-owned restaurants, bars and cafes to provide Wi-Fi.Google is connected to the global Internet through satellite networks. Cuba is connected to the Internet by an undersea fiber-optic cable that runs between the island and Venezuela. The cable was completed in 2011, and it existed as a "darknet" connection for two years before suddenly going online in 2013.So here’s the problem with Google as the solution: The Cuban government uses high prices and draconian laws to prevent the majority of Cubans from having any access to the Internet at all. The government actively prevents access as a matter of policy. It’s not a technical problem. It’s a political one.In other words, Cuba doesn’t need Google to provide hotspots. If the Cuban government allowed hotspots, Cubans would provide them.
Everyday Google tech is ‘Art’ in Cuba
While I was visiting Cuba, a permanent "exhibit" called Google+Kcho.MOR was on display at an art and cultural center in Havana that also promotes technology. Kcho (pronounced "KAW-cho") is the nickname of a brilliant, enterprising, prolific and self-promoting Cuban mixed-media artist named Alexis Leiva Machado. Kcho lives at the center, which he deliberately built in the traditionally poor Havana neighborhood of Romerillo, where he grew up. The M-O-R at the end of the exhibit’s name are the initials of the walled, multibuilding compound: Museo Orgánico Romerillo.I took a Cuban death-cab to the Museo Orgánico Romerillo. And, no, the cab wasn’t one of those awesome American classico beauties from the 1950s that you see in all the pictures of Cuba. The vehicle was a tiny, charmless Eastern European clunker from the 1970s with a top speed of about 45 mph, stripped on the inside of all paneling and lining (presumably by a fire, because everything was black inside) and held together by wire, tape, glue and optimism — and I swear the exhaust pipe was somewhere inside the car. (Oh, what this correspondent isn’t willing to do for his cherished readers.)The exhibit is an astonishing oddity to Cubans who have never traveled abroad, but it’s packed with oldish, cheap, everyday Google gear: 20 Chromebooks, Google Cardboard goggles powered by Nexus phones — and something that has never, ever existed anywhere in Cuba: free Wi-Fi.Of course, there’s no such thing as free Wi-Fi, especially in Cuba. Kcho reportedly pays the Cuban government some $900 per month for the access. The free Wi-Fi, which I saw scores of locals using with their phones, is really subsidized. The Cuban government still gets paid. (The password for the free Wi-Fi is abajoelbloqueo — which translates, roughly, to "down with the embargo.")The free Wi-Fi is the same slow, unreliable connection that a minority of Cubans elsewhere get to enjoy, minus the cost and the cards. The Chromebooks, on the other hand, offer a magic Google connection some 70 times faster than regular Cuban Wi-Fi. Only 20 people at a time can enjoy the fast-connection Chromebooks, and each for just one hour at a time. When I was there, every Chromebook was in use, and each user’s focus on the screen was total, as you can imagine.The "exhibit" also had Google Cardboard viewers. (I had read the center has 100 of them, but I saw only about a dozen.) To use them, you ask a guy working there, and he grabs a Nexus phone from a drawer and walks you through the process of launching the Cardboard app and starting it. Each Cardboard viewer has preloaded content — in my case I enjoyed a Photosphere of Tokyo.During the half hour I spent in the Google+Kcho.MOR space, nobody else tried Google Cardboard. And that makes sense. With no ability to create or explore Carboard content, it’s just a parlor trick to be enjoyed for a minute or two. I got the feeling that all the people there had "been there, done that" with Cardboard and resumed their obsession with Internet connectivity.It was, however, obvious that the two people helping us were used to minds being completely blown by the Google Cardboard and Chromebook experiences. I didn’t have the heart to mention that I’ve owned several pairs of Cardboard for two years and Chromebooks for three years.The Google+Kcho.MOR installation is called an "exhibit," but it’s not. In reality, it’s a co-marketing, co-branding effort.For the Kcho "brand," it’s a "gateway drug" to lure Cuba’s youth to the museum and get them excited about art, culture and the world of Kcho. Along with a cheap snack bar, the free Wi-Fi and the hour a day on the fastest laptops in Cuba successfully bring hundreds of Cuban kids to the center each day, and the Google+Kcho.MOR is the main event.For Google, it’s a massive branding effort. (Google declined to comment for this story.)Nobody was willing to talk about it, but it’s clear that Google is spreading some cash around here. There’s so much Google branding on everything in and on the Google+Kcho.MOR building, it looks like it could be at the Googleplex itself.Even elsewhere in the compound, the Google logo is everywhere. It’s in several outdoor spots where the free Wi-Fi is used, including all over the snack bar that serves coffee and soda.If you’re reading this, you probably live in a country awash in marketing, co-marketing and branding on every surface. But the ubiquity of Google branding at the entire Museo Orgánico Romerillo compound may be unique in Cuba. This is a country without a single Coca-Cola sign or billboard, zero ads anywhere for anything (other than political propaganda for the revolution and its leaders and ideals).During the month I spent in in Cuba, I saw exactly six major public consumer branding units, and all of them were at the Museo Orgánico Romerillo, and all of them were about Google (and Kcho). That makes Google by far the most heavily branded and marketed company in Cuba — in fact, the only one.As far as I can tell, Google is getting away with it only because Kcho is massively favored by the Castro regime and the marketing is all presented as "art" or in the promotion of art.
What Google is really accomplishing in Cuba
Google appears to have begun its entry into Cuba in June 2014, when its executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, visited Cuba after slamming the U.S. embargo in a Google+ post. The visit was not reported in Cuba at the time.Schmidt was accompanied on his trip by Brett Perlmutter, who was later appointed Cuba lead for Alphabet, Google’s parent company, as part of the Jigsaw organization, a "think tank" that actually initiates programs for making the world a better place, and was formerly known as "Google Ideas."In January 2015, Perlmutter, as well as Jigsaw’s deputy director, Scott Carpenter, toured Cuba together.One of their goals on that trip was to visit computer science students at the University of Information Science, as well as young Cuban Internet users. Another goal, it’s easy to guess, was to meet with cultural figures like Kcho, and also key figures in the Cuban government.Put another way, Google has been making friends and laying the groundwork for a future when the Cuban government allows greater and better Internet access.No, Google isn’t laying fiber, launching balloons or installing equipment all over Cuba. It’s not planning to sprinkle fast, free, magic Google Wi-Fi all over the island.The best Google can do for now is make friends and influence people.Cuba won’t join the rest of the world in ubiquitous Internet access until the Cuban government either becomes less repressive, or falls out of power. When that happens, Google, as the dominant and best-connected tech brand, will be ready.Until then, no amount of magic Google pixie dust can help the Cuban people.

Posted by Boaz Guttman בועז גוטמן ГУТМАН on 2016-05-21 22:29:01

Tagged: , Cuba , US , 2016

Cuba & US 2016 – Update 21/5/16 – Trinidad Night Waits for US – Trinidad – central Cuba – town in the province of Sancti Spíritus.Together with the nearby Valle de los Ingenios, one of UNESCOs World Heritage sites.Founded 23/12/1514

Cuba & US 2016 - Update 21/5/16 - Trinidad Night Waits for US - Trinidad - central Cuba - town in the province of Sancti Spíritus.Together with the nearby Valle de los Ingenios, one of UNESCOs World Heritage sites.Founded 23/12/1514

Why even Google can’t connect Cuba

Reports say Google intends to help wire Cuba and bring the island into the 21st century. But that’s not going to happen.

By – Mike Elgan
Computerworld | Apr 18, 2016 3:00 AM PT

When President Obama said in Havana last month that Google would be working to improve Internet access in Cuba, I wondered what Google might do in Cuba that other companies could not.Today, Cuba is an Internet desert where only 5% of trusted elites are allowed to have (slow dial-up) Internet connections at home, and a paltry 400,000 people access the Internet through sidewalk Wi-Fi hotspots. These hotspots have existed for only a year or so. Also, some 2.5 million Cubans have government-created email accounts, but no Web access.I spent a month in Cuba until last week, and I was there when the president spoke. I’m here to report that those government Wi-Fi hotspots are rare, slow and expensive. While in Cuba, my wife, son and I spent about $300 on Wi-Fi. In a country where the average wage ranges from $15 to $30 per month, connecting is a massive financial burden available only to a lucky minority with private businesses or generous relatives in Miami.
And this is why I think the possibilities of what Google might accomplish in Cuba are misunderstood.It’s not as if Cuba would have ubiquitous, affordable and fast Internet access if it just had the money or expertise to make it happen. The problem is that Cuba is a totalitarian Communist dictatorship.The outrageous price charged for Wi-Fi in Cuba can’t possibly reflect the cost of providing the service. The price is really a way to restrict greater freedom of information to those who benefit from the Cuban system.The strange Wi-Fi card system is also a tool of political control. In order to buy a card, you have to show your ID, and your information is entered into the system. Everything done online using a specific Wi-Fi card is associated with a specific person.The Cuban government allows people to run privately owned small hotels, called casas particulares, and small home restaurants, called paladares. The owners of these small businesses would love to provide their guests with Wi-Fi, but the Cuban government doesn’t allow it. Nor does it allow state-owned restaurants, bars and cafes to provide Wi-Fi.Google is connected to the global Internet through satellite networks. Cuba is connected to the Internet by an undersea fiber-optic cable that runs between the island and Venezuela. The cable was completed in 2011, and it existed as a "darknet" connection for two years before suddenly going online in 2013.So here’s the problem with Google as the solution: The Cuban government uses high prices and draconian laws to prevent the majority of Cubans from having any access to the Internet at all. The government actively prevents access as a matter of policy. It’s not a technical problem. It’s a political one.In other words, Cuba doesn’t need Google to provide hotspots. If the Cuban government allowed hotspots, Cubans would provide them.
Everyday Google tech is ‘Art’ in Cuba
While I was visiting Cuba, a permanent "exhibit" called Google+Kcho.MOR was on display at an art and cultural center in Havana that also promotes technology. Kcho (pronounced "KAW-cho") is the nickname of a brilliant, enterprising, prolific and self-promoting Cuban mixed-media artist named Alexis Leiva Machado. Kcho lives at the center, which he deliberately built in the traditionally poor Havana neighborhood of Romerillo, where he grew up. The M-O-R at the end of the exhibit’s name are the initials of the walled, multibuilding compound: Museo Orgánico Romerillo.I took a Cuban death-cab to the Museo Orgánico Romerillo. And, no, the cab wasn’t one of those awesome American classico beauties from the 1950s that you see in all the pictures of Cuba. The vehicle was a tiny, charmless Eastern European clunker from the 1970s with a top speed of about 45 mph, stripped on the inside of all paneling and lining (presumably by a fire, because everything was black inside) and held together by wire, tape, glue and optimism — and I swear the exhaust pipe was somewhere inside the car. (Oh, what this correspondent isn’t willing to do for his cherished readers.)The exhibit is an astonishing oddity to Cubans who have never traveled abroad, but it’s packed with oldish, cheap, everyday Google gear: 20 Chromebooks, Google Cardboard goggles powered by Nexus phones — and something that has never, ever existed anywhere in Cuba: free Wi-Fi.Of course, there’s no such thing as free Wi-Fi, especially in Cuba. Kcho reportedly pays the Cuban government some $900 per month for the access. The free Wi-Fi, which I saw scores of locals using with their phones, is really subsidized. The Cuban government still gets paid. (The password for the free Wi-Fi is abajoelbloqueo — which translates, roughly, to "down with the embargo.")The free Wi-Fi is the same slow, unreliable connection that a minority of Cubans elsewhere get to enjoy, minus the cost and the cards. The Chromebooks, on the other hand, offer a magic Google connection some 70 times faster than regular Cuban Wi-Fi. Only 20 people at a time can enjoy the fast-connection Chromebooks, and each for just one hour at a time. When I was there, every Chromebook was in use, and each user’s focus on the screen was total, as you can imagine.The "exhibit" also had Google Cardboard viewers. (I had read the center has 100 of them, but I saw only about a dozen.) To use them, you ask a guy working there, and he grabs a Nexus phone from a drawer and walks you through the process of launching the Cardboard app and starting it. Each Cardboard viewer has preloaded content — in my case I enjoyed a Photosphere of Tokyo.During the half hour I spent in the Google+Kcho.MOR space, nobody else tried Google Cardboard. And that makes sense. With no ability to create or explore Carboard content, it’s just a parlor trick to be enjoyed for a minute or two. I got the feeling that all the people there had "been there, done that" with Cardboard and resumed their obsession with Internet connectivity.It was, however, obvious that the two people helping us were used to minds being completely blown by the Google Cardboard and Chromebook experiences. I didn’t have the heart to mention that I’ve owned several pairs of Cardboard for two years and Chromebooks for three years.The Google+Kcho.MOR installation is called an "exhibit," but it’s not. In reality, it’s a co-marketing, co-branding effort.For the Kcho "brand," it’s a "gateway drug" to lure Cuba’s youth to the museum and get them excited about art, culture and the world of Kcho. Along with a cheap snack bar, the free Wi-Fi and the hour a day on the fastest laptops in Cuba successfully bring hundreds of Cuban kids to the center each day, and the Google+Kcho.MOR is the main event.For Google, it’s a massive branding effort. (Google declined to comment for this story.)Nobody was willing to talk about it, but it’s clear that Google is spreading some cash around here. There’s so much Google branding on everything in and on the Google+Kcho.MOR building, it looks like it could be at the Googleplex itself.Even elsewhere in the compound, the Google logo is everywhere. It’s in several outdoor spots where the free Wi-Fi is used, including all over the snack bar that serves coffee and soda.If you’re reading this, you probably live in a country awash in marketing, co-marketing and branding on every surface. But the ubiquity of Google branding at the entire Museo Orgánico Romerillo compound may be unique in Cuba. This is a country without a single Coca-Cola sign or billboard, zero ads anywhere for anything (other than political propaganda for the revolution and its leaders and ideals).During the month I spent in in Cuba, I saw exactly six major public consumer branding units, and all of them were at the Museo Orgánico Romerillo, and all of them were about Google (and Kcho). That makes Google by far the most heavily branded and marketed company in Cuba — in fact, the only one.As far as I can tell, Google is getting away with it only because Kcho is massively favored by the Castro regime and the marketing is all presented as "art" or in the promotion of art.
What Google is really accomplishing in Cuba
Google appears to have begun its entry into Cuba in June 2014, when its executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, visited Cuba after slamming the U.S. embargo in a Google+ post. The visit was not reported in Cuba at the time.Schmidt was accompanied on his trip by Brett Perlmutter, who was later appointed Cuba lead for Alphabet, Google’s parent company, as part of the Jigsaw organization, a "think tank" that actually initiates programs for making the world a better place, and was formerly known as "Google Ideas."In January 2015, Perlmutter, as well as Jigsaw’s deputy director, Scott Carpenter, toured Cuba together.One of their goals on that trip was to visit computer science students at the University of Information Science, as well as young Cuban Internet users. Another goal, it’s easy to guess, was to meet with cultural figures like Kcho, and also key figures in the Cuban government.Put another way, Google has been making friends and laying the groundwork for a future when the Cuban government allows greater and better Internet access.No, Google isn’t laying fiber, launching balloons or installing equipment all over Cuba. It’s not planning to sprinkle fast, free, magic Google Wi-Fi all over the island.The best Google can do for now is make friends and influence people.Cuba won’t join the rest of the world in ubiquitous Internet access until the Cuban government either becomes less repressive, or falls out of power. When that happens, Google, as the dominant and best-connected tech brand, will be ready.Until then, no amount of magic Google pixie dust can help the Cuban people.

Posted by Boaz Guttman בועז גוטמן ГУТМАН on 2016-05-21 22:20:45

Tagged: , Cuba , US , 2016