Archive for the ‘Internet – Public Policy’ Category

Internet Speed Test | Speed Matters

Sigh…
And we have to pay as much or more than Cox and Charter Cable’s biggest pipe, and WAY more than Verizon ADSL (no matter what speed you get — except FiOS which will not be here till h*ll freezes over) to get that speed on Cellular Wireless and be limited monthly to a 5GB per month Cap. 😦

But at least it’s better than Dialup at 3.6kbps-4.4kbps, eh?

Which, until recently, was all there was until the Cell tower was upgraded/added around here.

Speed Test

How fast are you? Take the speed test to see how your connection measures up.

Our 2007 Speed Matters report was a great success. We received front page coverage in USA Today and in publications across the country. We helped launch statewide broadband projects in Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia. And the test results helped convice the Federal Communications Commission to change its definition of broadband so that they can collect data that is more meaningful – one of the major goals of our campaign.

Take the test today so that you are included in our 2008 report.

Learn more about the speed test.

High speed Internet brings entertainment home

High speed Internet brings entertainment home (speedmatters.org)

With the likes of NetFlix, Apple and others making movies available for download for rent and/or purchase, the digital divide seems to just be widening. I hope SpeedMatters is right … I hope this does expand what is considered true broadband … but more than that, I hope it wakes up telecoms and other broadband providers because as someone who doesn’t have a true broadband option, it’s really sad to see those of us who are still stuck in dialup and/or limited broadband abilities will not be able to take advantage of these new broadband to the computer or the TV offers.

In order to truly take advantage of these online entertainment options, consumers must be able to connect to truly high speed Internet. For many Americans, though, that’s is still not an option — yet another consequence of the digital divide.

One side benefit of this new flood of downloadable movie services is that it reemphasizes what true high speed Internet really is. As these movie services gain popularity, they may increase demand for high speed Internet and spur more extensive buildout. That way, entertainment uses of high speed Internet may mean that other important services — such as telemedicine, distance learning programs, and emergency communications — become available to more Americans.

One can only hope. I can’t even think about this option at home! I still have trouble bringing in many webpages!

Google, MSN Hotmail, AOL, Yahoo! Oh, My!!!

OK, so maybe the subject doesn’t mesh with the original “Lions, Tigers and Bears, Oh, My!” but hey, oh well. 😉 I said it just to say, you have to know that Google must have someone’s dander up! Can’t imagine who (1, 2, 3, 4, more) ?!

Granted, Google may not be fully living up to it’s ‘do no evil’ policy (certainly not as much as I’d like), but they are no where near the rest of the pack, yet (and hopefully won’t ever be!!).

Sheesh. Close all Google accounts? It took me a long time to even trust Google enough to even open an account of any kind, but I can tell you that even then, I trusted Google a heck of a lot more than I trusted MSN/Hotmail and dare we say, AOH…errr, AOL, or even Yahoo!?

Yahoo and MSN/Hotmail apparently keep your data ‘indefinitely.’ And we all know ‘indefinitely’ is longer than ‘2 years,’ right?

Granted 2 years is much longer than I think any company should be keeping personally identifiable data, but it’s no where near as long as till ‘hell freezes over,’ which is basically how I read ‘indefinitely.’

And you want to talk about privacy issues, what about credit card companies, stores, and banks, marketing companies, and the government for Pete’s sake! Or outsourced companies? They all have not only kept personally identifiable data, but didn’t secure it very well either! If Google is SO BAD that you should be closing all the accounts, then what should we be thinking about this Chronology of Data Breaches, huh?

Somebody needs to get some perspective, no?

Regarding Google’s accounts. Mainly the reason it took me a long time to trust Google for other things, where you sign in to make use of them, is that Google is my search engine of choice and I do not login to do searches and that’s an annoyance factor I wasn’t looking forward to. I don’t like to mix search engines and logins. That’s why it took me a long time to even THINK about getting a login for anything else that Google does.

And I still would NEVER use Google Desktop, and a few other items that cross the boundaries between the desktop and the Internet. But Google is doing some pretty awesome things and if they can secure them, it will be REALLY BIG!! Hmmm, maybe that’s really the problem, eh? 😉

But, come on! Garett Rogers said it best in his posting Close all Google accounts: Google doesn’t care about privacy:”

Clearly Google doesn’t care about privacy — excuse me while I download several months worth of “anonymous” search history from a company with better privacy practices than Google. (Please note the sarcasm)

NOTE: Don’t forget to hover over and check out each word’s link in Garrett’s statement above.

iTunes Plus – DRM Free!

I have not bought any music from the Big Four Labels except for a few used CDs from garage sales, and maybe a few from eMusic over the last 6 months, although I gravitate toward audio books, etc. and Independent Artists or Artists who are releasing music on non Big Four Labels.

However, I have broken my own boycott in order to send a message to the Big Four Labels.

I have just started buying from iTunes for the first time ever.
One might ask why since I can get good music from eMusic too. Of course I can and I do.

But EMI and Apple have done something wonderful! For the first time ever, a Big Four Label has made their music available in digital form without DRM.

I said I might do this back when Steve Jobs first announced it, but I kept vacillating over it. I really didn’t want to be a part of the RIAA feeding frenzy which is one of the main reasons I stopped buying in the first place back when they took down Napster because they refused to see reality and anyone with half a brain knew that turning normal average citizens into criminals was not good for this country.

They refused to see they needed to change with the times!

Well, now Steve Jobs and EMI have teamed up to do just that! EMI is changing with the times and they should be rewarded for their forward thinking, IMHO.

So, I finally decided to just did it. So, I signed up for iTunes yesterday, and bought my first EMI high bit rate songs from iTunes.

Yesterday, two songs – first a Paul McCartney song and a Pink Floyd song, then today I bought two more – a David Bowie song and a Beach Boys song.

I may not buy a song or two a day, but I thought it was a great start. But I may buy a few each month which will add up over time.

I will likely burn them to CD and rip them to mp3 for the hard drive but I want to make a point. I want iTunes and particularly EMI (the smallest but not the least! of the Big Four) to know that as a music lover, I truly appreciate what they are doing.

It’s not like it’s such a hard stretch to realize that it’s the best thing for their customers. They already provide CDs mainly without DRM (I don’t buy any music with DRM on it regardless of who it is). It’s the natural progression!

When they start treating their customers with respect, they will find that their customers will return. I know I have and it wasn’t easy to do. Napster’s been gone a very long time now…and I have boycotted all Big Four (at that time Big Five) Labels ever since.

I really hated what they were doing to this country.

Patents are bad enough, but copyright enforcement has gone absolutely nuts! And we have the greed of Mickey Mouse (Disney) and Sonny Bono to originally thank for all that, along with the stupidity of the DMCA’s excessive enforcement that is responsible for so many bad things, of course the RIAA, and a bunch of people who ‘think’ everyone wants to steal from them.

Thank you Steve Jobs, Apple and EMI (as well as all the EMI contracted Artists who have OK’d their music to be released DRM Free) for letting sanity finally return to at least one corner of the music industry.

I hope your shining light will give strength to the rest of the music industry to do what’s right by their customers.

After 8 years, still no Verizon DSL

Well, we just paid our Verizon phone bill, and as usual, I decided to check yet again to see if there is any change in DSL Broadband availability….you guessed it, NOPE! Still nothing after 8 years of checking and calling.

I posted our experience in this posting called “Rural America roadkill on the information superhighway” since we moved to this little town of Dendron in Virginia previously. Just letting everyone know that nothing has changed.

It’s as bad as the Ferry situation here. I called the free ferry number for VDOT’s Jamestown/Scotland Ferry, and left a message a few weeks ago, and they called back which was greatly appreciated. They said that even talks of a bridge to replace the ferry system between Jamestown and Scotland Wharf (which connects Surry County and the Williamsburg VA area where many Surry County residents work, BTW), are not even taking place any longer. It could be 25 years he said before there will be a bridge.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Dendron! But there is technology all around us … CLOSE! Yet no joy still for broadband access in Dendron! Sigh… This really sucks!

Rural America roadkill on the information superhighway

Dendron, Virginia appears to be one of the unsung parts of Verizon’s Rural America roadkill on the information superhighway.

For the last eight years, I have been calling and/or checking frequently to see when Dendron, Virginia will be welcomed by Verizon into their current broadband world — to no avail.

In the last few months, we tried to work up a deal with ATT/Alliance Data Com to maybe get some form of broadband in Dendron, Virginia. Jim Mathis was great and really tried to help. He was able to get a very good deal on a T1 to bring into Dendron, Virginia, but JimmyLee and I just could not afford to pay for it alone. He also checked DSL availability, but Verizon has not updated the CO (Central Office) in our area.

Years ago, Verizon took over GTE Land (my name for our dead zone area that used to be owned by GTE Phone service), but kept the old GTE Land customers separate from the rest of their Verizon service, presumably so they wouldn’t have to count our area as being left in the dirt with only dialup being available.

One day a couple years ago, I stopped to talk to the Verizon technician that was at the CO in our area and asked when we would be getting DSL/broadband in our area. He said dialup isn’t so bad. Right! Let him live with it day in and day out! Butthead! Sure it’s better than nothing, but so are alot of distasteful things in life.

Verizon also has a very bad policy in this area, even if you want to get two phone lines and aggregate them for dialup data to get 128kpbs, it’s not doable. You pay the same price or more for that second line! I called and that’s what they told me! Plus, you still have to pay for your dual-line ISP (Internet Service Provider) as well! That would put us at over $100/mo for less than ISDN since it would be analog and not digital.

ISDN is also out of sight due to the various ongoing charges that would make it even more expensive than the dual phone lines plus Internet access charges!

I have talked about this before, but Dendron is in a very unique dead zone!

Rt 31 that goes through the heart of Dendron also goes between Rt 10 in Surry and Rt 460 in Wakefield. Cox Cable a few years back brought Cable broadband to the Surry Schools, which turns the corner on Rt 31 just about 3 miles shy of Dendron.

In Wakefield/Sussex County, Charter Cable has been there for several years, just 6 miles away, and more recently Verizon brought DSL to Wakefield and backed it down Rt 31 to just about 3-4 miles down Rt 31 away from Dendron.

This effectively creates a dead zone out of Dendron. Dendron is the last town in Surry County off Rt 31 just before it hits Sussex County with three broadband carriers coming within 3-6 miles of Dendron and no closer! They are so close you can almost taste it! But no joy!

AlterNet‘s Steve Early has an article that Tweeny/Kurt sent me entitied Rural America Is Being Left off the Information Superhighway, which shows another side of Verizon’s geed — where they are trying to sell off small (unprofitable? or maintenance intensive?) areas to — not other large broadband carriers who might be able to help — but to small companies (in New England’s case noted in the article, FairPoint Communications) that has even less money due to their small size to upgrade/maintain the areas than Verizon has. All for a tax break!

At the end of the article, AlterNet reports,

CWA has launched a website, SpeedMatters.org, which publicizes telecom reform initiatives around the country and invites users to take a “speed test” — so they can check their own connections against world standards for high-speed access.

Using creative online networking, aggressive legal intervention in state regulatory proceedings, alliances with nonlabor groups and a legislative push for a broadband build-out that would benefit all Americans, telephone unionists hope to thwart the Verizon strategy, which amounts to “dump the lines, dump the customers,” according to CWA president Larry Cohen.

In Virginia, Cohen notes, Verizon just lost a bid to eliminate all state regulatory oversight over the sale of local telephone lines — thanks to union lobbying and a gubernatorial veto. In northern New England, where the tradition of pro-consumer regulation is much stronger, state governments need to go even further — and veto any sale.

Very interesting, huh?

I thought it was pretty funny when I went to SpeedMatters.org website noted above as the page takes forever to load on dialup! Guess they just want to show that speed does in fact matter — as those of us on dialup certainly know.

It’s pretty sad when other countries will go the extra mile to get some sort of broadband – in some cases the fastest broadband available – for their countries’ citizens, and the US sits on its ‘collective’ hands while Rural America becomes roadkill on the information superhighway.

Verizon it appears is giving Capitalism a bad name!

But it seems that all this does nothing to help further our cause for broadband here in Dendron which is just a tiny little town of less than 400 souls at the edge of the world, errr, Surry County, Virginia. Where, even Surry County’s initiative to help bring Wireless to Surry County (government funded) will not be available for some time as they are only in the discovery/planning stages from what I understand.

And the ONLY other alternative is Satellite! Which for those of us who do real time streaming and chatting — ON DIALUP mind you — and FTP for websites we work on, would not be a real option due to the well-known lag at the tune of $70/mo. for that half baked option.

So we sit here with only dialup at home and wait and wait for pages and email to come in — in frustration (and SpeedMatters.org is still loading!!) … sigh…


speedmatters

Then they wonder why people think advertising is dangerous…

Microsoft apologises for serving malware

Microsoft has apologized for serving malware via its websites and Windows Live Messenger software.

And it’s SystemDoctor 2006 … sheesh!

Course to be fair, this can happen to any company that uses third party affiliate advertising/banners. It’s a great idea, but very badly implemented in many cases, and you can find out so much about this from Ben Edelman’s website.

This is why I am very careful not to use any affiliate programs unless they are done by the actual software company plus I have to trust the company. Which means I currently am only making use of ONE affiliate program from Webroot (for Spy Sweeper – with the trial version offered to try before you buy) because they do their own affiliate handling. Like me, they obviously feel they can’t trust any third party affiliate program with their products. Smart move.

Also, many may remember that places like MySpace and Google Videos have been known to install malware on occasion — unintentionally but it has unfortunately happened. Just do a search on Google for malware and either MySpace or Google Videos, or any other social networking site for that matter or good cause sites even (remember things like Zango and others being installed by good cause sites?).

It’s nice to be able to make a few bucks from these types of things but because they have been abused repeatedly, I am just really skiddish about making use of any of them. Sad but true.

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