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Alaska Beat

Wi-Fi pioneer's memoir talks about radio in Alaska Bush

  • Author: Craig Medred
  • Updated: September 27, 2016
  • Published November 28, 2011

Wired magazine's "Geek Dad" has posted a review of a new book by wireless computer data transmission pioneer and well-known Alaska telecommunications figure Alex Hills.

Hills's new book, a non-technical technology memoir of sorts, "Wi-Fi and the Bad Boys of Radio," apparently spends a good deal of time recounting the time Hills spent in rural Alaska.

The reviewer notes that his favorite parts of the book happen when Hills recounts his time working at Kotzebue's public radio station, KOTZ, and engaging in various efforts to increase rural Alaska communications infrastructure.

The importance of radio to rural Alaskans apparently comes through loud and clear to the reviewer, who notes the book does "a great job of helping you understand just how important communication is between the small towns… and how difficult it can be to setup and maintain."

Personal and cultural uses of radio in rural Alaska also made an impression to the reviewer. "But it's the personal uses of the station, the Eskimo Stories that were passed along by elders and the old-time radio shows (such as The Shadow and Lone Ranger serials) that really offer up a vivid image of the value of talk, of communication between people scattered across great distances," he notes.

But don't read expecting to learn about rebels, the review cautions. The "Bad Boys" in the title is a term referring to various problems that can affect radio transmissions, things like shadowing, reflection, refraction, scattering, and diffraction -- all of which challenged Hills during his time in Alaska and reappeared when he was working on the team that developed the technology that became today's Wi-Fi.

Read much more, here.

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