My dear friend Ola Ahlvarsson was world champion of kickboxing in 1997. During our last vacation in Jose Ignacio, Uruguay as you can see in this video Ola gave my son Tom his first training less on boxing. I used to think poorly of boxing and I still do when it gets rough but as training it seems to be safe and fun.

You can also watch this video in Youtube

FON is giving away 50 free eStarling WiFi picture frames to foneros who share their WiFi with the Community. Keep your La Fonera online, and on Valentine’s Day you’ll be eligible to win one of the WiFi Frames.

frame.jpegWhat I find very fonero about these frames is that your friend/loved ones can always feed pictures to you and you to them. If you share your WiFi with FON, you’ll have a chance to win a WiFi frame to share your photos!

The winners will be chosen randomly by an automatic system that on the 14th of February will classify those Foneras that had been kept online for the last thirty consecutive days.

FON will publish the winners’ names on from the 14th of February 2007. For more information check out the rules of the contest.

If you want to be sure to get one and you live in Spain or Germany, you can also buy the eStarling picture frame in our Fon Shop.

The eStarling WiFi picture frame allows you to:

  • Create a email address dedicated to sending pictures directly to your picture Frame, even from your cell phone!
  • Set up groups to instantly receive pictures from your friends and family’s email accounts and cell phones.
  • Create your own picture playlists.
  • Link the frame to your favorite photo album (Flickr, Picasa and others).

FON Facebook Status Updater is a new tool from FON labs that allows you to quickly and easily change your Facebook status directly from Google Talk. This tool, which is an idea of Nina Wiegand from Fon, makes updating your status much faster as it doesn’t require you to open a browser window and login to facebook, and even allows you to change your status using your mobile, wherever you are.

It works great on mobile phones using a Gtalk compatible client like Fring (for Symbian and Windows Mobile smartphones) or Nimbuzz (Java phones) or using the Google Talk application for BlackBerry.

facebook_gtalk.gifTo start updating your Facebook status from Gtalk you just have to follow these simple steps:

  1. Add to your Gtalk contact list
  2. Type help in the chat window to receive instructions
  3. Get your identification code clicking on the link in the message
  4. Type “identify facebook code” in the chat window
  5. Type your status message in the chat window
  6. Click on the link to authorize the application to update your Facebook status in the future (this will be asked you just the first time).

From now on you can just type your status message in a chat window with and your Facebook status will get immediately updated.

At FON labs we work on the development of new FON products (like the Fonera 2.0) and tools for FON users (FON Connection Manager, Fonspot), but we also develop useful tools like Gspace (use Gmail to access your files everywhere), FON Backup (sync one of your computer folders with your Gspace account), FON GS (convert long URLs into short, easy-to-remember URLs), FON Uploader (import your old emails to your Gmail account), FON Wit (Skype add on that performs word searches when you pass the cursor over an unknown term) and now

Wired has recently published an article by Bruce Schneier titled “Steal This Wi-Fi“. Schneier is CTO of BT Counterpane and a security and chriptography guru, he is the author of many succesful books on network security (Applied Cryptography, Secrets and Lies, Beyond Fear) and publishes Crypto-Gram, a free newsletter with over 130,000 readers.

In his article for Wired he states his reasons for leaving his WiFi connection open to anyone passing by his home: “providing internet access to guests is kind of like providing heat and electricity, or a hot cup of tea”. He then goes through all the risks leaving your WiFi open might involve, from network security to having the Recording Industry Association of America sue you for copyright infringement due to some guy using your connection for P2P. Another issue many people are concerned about is somebody using too much of their bandwith. According to Schneier most of these are not huge risks in themselves and, in any case, “security is always a trade-off”.

His final considerations are about FON, which developed “an interesting approach to this problem. Fon wireless access points have two wireless networks: a secure one for you, and an open one for everyone else.”

Schneier chose to share his WiFi and appreciates everybody who does the same. But while keeping your network open can indeed expose you to some risks, FON lets you share your WiFi in a safe way: the Fonera protects your private signal with WPA encryption, identifies and keeps track of who uses your connection and lets you choose how much of your bandwith to share with other foneros.

I come from one of the only countries in the world that has moved from the ranks of the developed world to the less developed world. Argentina´s GDP per capita was higher and better distributed when I was born in the 60s than now. And as recent as 2002 the country was in the ropes with nearly half of the population living below the poverty line, the largest default in human history (3 times the size of Enron) and enormous unemployment. Yet, declaring default and mostly not paying its foreign debt turned out to be an incredible blessing to the country which saw most credit disappear and now lives in a mostly cash, equity economy. Argentina has very little consumer credit, very little foreign debt, very little national debt, very little corporate debt and very little mortgage debt. In Argentina cash really is king as the other forms of payment are practically non existent. So as the world goes into a US promoted credit crunch Argentina finally finds itself in a lucky position which is that of mostly having no debt isolated from global financial problems. In a way it is interesting that USA has been going around the world promoting credit as the cure to all problems using the IMF and the World Bank as its flagships and now finds itself drowning in its own medicine .  In the meantimeformer failed states such as Argentina discover that a mostly equity economy it´s much better in times of financial crisis than the indebtedness that the US was predicating for decades.  Especially when the country while in an all cash diet has been growing at 9% for the last 5 years.

PS: due to my many activities I don´t have time to research this subject but if you are an economist I would be interested in cowriting a study on all equity economies as I would be interested in studying the subject in depth.  I believe that mostly equity economies are likely to outperform heavily indebted economies as the USA in the future.

Three years ago (maybe 4) I met Erik Wachtmeister, the founder of A Small World and heard about his idea to start the social site for the jet set. I liked it, I figured that great parties would come out of it but I immediately thought that something more interesting that getting jet setters in a web site would to get the smartest people in the world in a web site. And together with my friends Andrew McLaughlin (Chief Policy Officer of Google) and Joshua Ramo of Kissinger Associates we thought of starting A Smart World.  The concept was a social site for intellectuals, scientists, writers, professors or anyone who his peers would consider a “relevant, creative thinker”.  But the idea never got off the ground as we were all very busy with our own jobs and projects. But recently I came across examples of A Smart World in different formats. One is BigThink, the vlogging site for the “smart” (horribly designed btw). Another one is Culture Hub, Stan Stalnaker´s project (I ran into Stan at a party in Jose Ignacio, Uruguay this week).  Yet nobody seems to get it totally right.

Disclosure: I am on the board of trustees of the Clinton Foundation. Having said this I would like to comment on Obama´s recent rise in the polls. Personally I think USA and the world is more likely to be a better place with the Clintons back in power. If that means more of what we had in the 90s, if that means “nothing new” so be it.   As far as I am concerned the 90s were a period of mostly peace and prosperity. This decade instead has been a time of mostly war and economic bankruptcy. But as things go maybe we won´t have the Clintons back in power. We may get Obama instead. And that would be fine. I like most of what Obama stands for. But my fear is that Obama turns out to be a Carter. A well meaning yet ineffective President. Moreover I think that the Republicans are more likely to beat Obama than the Clintons. Presidential politics is less about Presidential power per se, which is only great in foreign affairs, and more about the ability of the President to convince Congress, Governors, Mayors and others to implement policies that can steer USA in the right direction. Hillary Clinton and the Clintons in general know how to do work with local politicians better than anyone to get things done. Obama mail fail at that.  But in any case the good news is that whoever wins, even McCain, will be better than George W Bush. In the meantime the whole Republican News machinery Fox included is behind Obama so we are likely to see more of him in weeks to come.

Still on a wonderful family vacation in Jose Ignacio, Uruguay I find out that Meraki has raised 20 million dollars to build a WiFi network with a Fon like system in San Francisco.  Meraki is imitating the Fon model with a twist and that is adding a repeater or meshing function that came out of MIT for its wifi stations.  At Fon we also have had a meshing function for a while but we see difficulty in extending meshing in developed countries (meshing is good where availability of connections is low).  Meshing is opposed by our partners, the telcos because one person buys a connection and many use it for free while at Fon the principle is that if you pay for your connection and donate you roam the world for free, but not that you do that if you don´t donate.  Fon is in any case very active in San Francisco and we have many Fonspots everywhere and what makes sense to me is that Fon and Meraki find a way to roam and collaborate.

We all make our promises and I made mine which was not to blog during this wonderful vacation in Jose Ignacio, Uruguay.  It was my children´s request.  And it did not only involve blogging but also being on the internet in general.  But I think that my kids will understand if I brake the promise just to thank my readers for your insightful comments and wish you all a very happy 2008!

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