Happy 4th!

I hope you guys have fun! As for me, I’ll be riding in the Firecracker 100K ride in Cary. Be sure to say hi if you’re there, OK? I’ll be the guy with the bike. Regular programming resumes Monday.




There are three “bike to the ballpark” events remaining this summer

This summer GoTriangle, Great Outdoor Provision Company, and the Bulls are presenting a monthly “bike to the ballpark” promotion designed to appeal to cyclists.

I went to one bike to the park game last year (and we went to the first one this year on May 18) and I feel like it’s a pretty neat promotion for people who like to get around by bike. The “deal” is that the first 200 people to show up on bikes get free bike valet parking and a “goodie bag” with some trinkets (lights, coupons, water bottles etc) in addition to the option to buy $10 tickets to the game. The tickets are the “cheap seats” out behind right field, which can get a lot of sun – so bring your sunscreen if you decide to take advantage of them.

All of this year’s events are for Sunday 5:05 p.m. games. The next one is this Sunday:

Sunday, June 8th; Game starts at 5:05pm

Sunday, July 6th; Game starts at 5:05pm

Sunday, August 17th; Game starts at 5:05pm

Past experience tells me attendance can vary; we went to the August game last year and the valet parking was slammed with a long wait time. For the May game this year we just walked up to the gate and had no wait at all. You might want to show up just a bit early to be on the safe side.

Program note!

Hey, don’t worry, I’m still around! But I’ve been too busy to blog this week, and there hasn’t been much news anyway. I’ll have something for you next week, I promise.

In the meantime, why not peruse the archives? Did you know that there’s a whole web site devoted to crashes into the Gregson St. train bridge? And what about that whole possum drop thing, anyway?

Monuts makes list of 21 best donut shops in the country, is awesome

Monuts started out several years ago with a tricycle based storefront, catering such prominent events as my neighborhood association’s meetings.

It’s hard to believe that their retail location on Parrish St. has only been around since last spring. Since then, they’ve kind of gone gangbusters, expanding staff and hours to the point that they’re now open 7 days a week for breakfast and lunch.

Monuts has really worked its way into my own routine, and I try to stop by at least once a week after dropping the kid off at school (protip for anybody stalking me: just look for that guy with the Burley bike trailer hanging out near Monuts). I’m partial to their constantly changing bagel sandwich specials, and I’ve never had one I didn’t like.

You can probably guess that I like Monuts a whole heck of a lot. I’m apparently not the only one, and their spot on the Thrillist list is well deserved.

So, a well earned congratulations to Lindsay, Rob, and all the staff at Monuts. Keep doin’ what you do!

First Art of Cool jazz festival kicks off this Friday

Art of Cool first landed on my radar last summer, when they launched a Kickstarter project to fund a brand new jazz festival in Durham. That project was successfully funded, and the organizers have spent the last 6 months getting things in order for the inaugural event.

The official schedule has been posted, and it’s an extensive list of performers spread across several downtown venues. The first event starts at 4:00 p.m. Friday, with the final show wrapping up at 1:00 a.m. Sunday morning.

Many of the events require that you pay for tickets (or have passes, e.g. for Kickstarter backers), but there are several free shows at Durham Central Park on Friday evening and Full Frame Theatre on Saturday as well, so even cheapskates have reason to show up.

Here’s a jpeg with the full lineup:

Police shut down Chapel Hill St. and Duke St. due to suspicious package

Uh oh guys, watch out:

The Durham Police Department and the bomb unit from the Durham County Sheriff’s Office are investigating a report of a suspicious package

Hmm, a suspicious package near the bus station! What could it be? It sure must be a major threat for the bomb squad to enter the scene…

HAHA APRIL FOOLS SUCKERS! Turns out it was just luggage. You know, from the bus station probably.

From the H-S’s Wes Platt:

All-clear given at NC Mutual Life building. Bag apparently left by transit passenger. Does not pose obvious threat.

Now I’m no expert, but I imagine that luggage gets left around the bus station kind of often. What exactly triggered the Zero Dark Thirty action on this one? Was it ticking? Covered in wires and hot dogs? Did it say “BOMB” on it?

RST “Fiber” doesn’t seem to be bringing fiber to residential customers

You may have seen some recent articles about a Shelby-based company called RST Fiber, which promises to bring their “fiber” Internet services to the Raleigh area. Did you notice anything weird, though? Oh, right: they’re not actually running fiber to houses:

Instead of running cables to each home and business, RST will use wireless transmitters for the “last mile” between its network and individual customers.

The press release was well timed to piggyback off of the Google Fiber announcement (a huge kudos to their PR team for that), and as a result it seems like a lot of media outlets have buried the lede. This doesn’t appear to be much like Google Fiber; at first blush it sounds much closer to the now defunct Clear, and the basic idea would be that you have an RF uplink from your home to… something… which is in turn connected to RST’s fiber network.

Their claim is that this “last mile” link – between their fiber and their customers via some kind of radio – can support “up to” gigabit speeds.

Some notable wireless technologies support “up to” gigabit speeds on paper. There’s LTE (aka “4G”) – the current standard used by mobile networks in the US. What else? How about WiMAX, the technology formerly behind Clear.

Is RST selling a solution based on common mobile network technology? It’s unclear to me. My initial guess was that they were simply an MVNO piggybacking off of AT&T or Verizon’s existing networks, selling their own RST-branded devices to consumers while leasing all the other infrastructure. That seems incorrect, however, since they claim to be laying their own fiber:

RST Fiber, based in Cleveland County, has spent tens of millions of dollars to lease and lay 3,100 miles of fiber optics across North Carolina, according to chief executive Dan Limerick.

Well, if they are building a network of their own, and they want to use 4g for the “last mile”… they need them some spectrum. Who has spectrum in Wake County? I asked the FCC about this, and there was no RST on my search results.

So… what exactly are they doing? Without spectrum, their options for RF tech are severely limited; perhaps their press release provides some hints:

We’re also deploying carrier-class, cutting-edge WiFi capable of delivering one-gigabit symmetrical wireless service network-wide.

Ah, so 802.11ac (5GHz “Wi-Fi”) technically meets the “up to a gigabit” requirement… but only over fairly short distances. To use 802.11ac effectively, they would need access points very close to all of their customers. There’s a blog post that claims that this is, in fact, the technology they are using, but… up to 2 miles for 802.11ac? I’m incredibly skeptical of that range, even assuming external, directional antennae for each customer.

On that blog post, somebody posting under the name of RST CEO Dan Limerick made the following claims about the service’s future:

We will be running middle miles of fiber off of our backbone over the entire network when servicing business and commercial accounts and will service the last mile with a combination of carrier class WiFi and FTTP. Our plans are to service virtually all of the enterprise customers with a fiber connection directly to the customer, not WiFi.

Bolding mine. And regarding residential deployments:

We will be offering FTTH as our lateral builds expand off of our backbone for a reasonable installation charge.

So, they have plans to service enterprise customers with fiber… and FTTH (the “H” stands for “home”) at some point as their “lateral builds expand“… but “carrier class WiFi” seems to be the near term solution for some (if not all) initial residential users.

So the tldr here is: since they seem to be using WiFi for the last mile, RST Fiber’s product is simply not comparable to Google Fiber. Maybe it will become comparable at some point, and maybe it will still beat the garbage service from Time Warner, but just because they used the word “fiber” in all their PR speak doesn’t mean that fiber is what you’ll get if you go sign up.

Caveat emptor.

James Beard Award semi-finalists announced, Durham well represented

The South’s “tastiest town” has a solid showing this year, with four James Beard nominees in the running:

  1. Giorgios Bakatsias is up for “Outstanding Restauranteur.” Bakatsias may be best known for a restaurant that no longer exists (former Ninth St. landmark George’s Garage), but he’s built an empire of well regarded eateries including Durham’s Parizade, the Nasher cafe, Vin Rouge, and Local 22. He also owns several restaurants elsewhere in NC, and has hinted that something new is in the works.
  2. Phoebe Lawless of Scratch is competing for Outstanding Pastry Chef.
  3. Scott Howell of Nana‘s is up for Best Chef in the Southeast.
  4. Matt Kelly of Vin Rouge (a Bakatsias restaurant as mentioned above) and Mateo [ed: my personal favorite place to eat in Durham right now] is also up for Best Chef in the Southeast.

Winners will be announced March 19 – good luck folks!

durham.io will be operating on a two hour delay

Due to snowmageddon, all durham.io staff are advised to stay off the roads. Instead, please enjoy those delicious milk sandwiches that everybody seems to crave when Greg Fishel whispers the s word.

In less made up news, all schools are closed tomorrow, and even Duke is shutting down its bus service at 11 p.m. tonight. Classes are off until at least 10 a.m. tomorrow.

Here’s a picture of snow. Enjoy!