Friday, June 01, 2007

A WildBlue Sign

WildBlue on the Highway - Photo courtesy of Michael T. Williamson

The Internet touches our lives in many ways, and over the last decade it has become ever more integrated with our daily activities. Here is yet another way, one that I had never thought about until I saw this photograph, which also fits in very well with the road geekiness of this blog.

This is a picture taken by Michael T. Williamson, who works for the same company as I, but who lives in the great state of Washington. Michael shot this interesting picture in a remote area in the southeastern part of that beautiful state. At first glance, we see a standard Variable Message Sign (VMS) installed along the highway. Upon closer inspection, there is a small satellite reflector antenna attached to the top right of the sign.

That antenna happens to be an installation for service from WildBlue, a satellite-based Internet service sold to customers in remote areas who cannot get other terrestrial broadband options such as cable or DSL. WildBlue is based in Greenwood Village, Colorado, a Denver suburb that is not far from where I live and work. As a matter of fact, my employer resells WildBlue service under a combined brand. Therefore, this picture was of double interest to me.

It is apparent that the sign's message must get updated over the Internet. It makes me wonder how long it will be before someone hacks into the signs and has them display a message not sanctioned by the Washington Department of Transportation. The photo also gives us a sense of direction. Since it has to point toward the southern sky, this view is looking primarily in a westward direction.

I also notice the guardrail between the sign and the highway's lanes of traffic. I guess they wanted to try to prevent a wayward car or truck from taking out this VMS (which is certainly not cheap to purchase or install).

This is a great catch, Michael. Thanks for letting me share it with other road geeks out there.

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