Category Archives: Internet

The Information Tollway, With Demand-Based Pricing

I could have sworn we nearly had a revolution not even two years ago because the information delivery services we’ve tied ourselves to thought they could meter our internet consumption habits. Has everyone forgot how Comcast throttled Netflix until they coughed up millions of dollars? Are American memories so short that they can’t even remember what happened in recent history? SOPAPIPA? Is the average American really that clueless they can’t remember?

Trump’s plans through his designated stooge, Ajit Pai, are for a return to the days where essential services can be withheld from the American people in the name of profit. What is next? Will they poison our water in the name of profit? Oh, wait, that’s already happened under Republican leadership and was only ferreted out when the stink of bad water got so bad the president himself got wind of it. It’s going to happen again if we don’t wise up to the threat that the Orange Hate-Monkey (OHM) represents.

 The FCC under the OHM’s direction intends to go against the will of the majority of the American people, and the informed technologists, on the subject of the necessity of information to the proper functioning of democratic government. I’m not sure why I’m surprised, it’s been profit over sense since day one for the OHM. He’s not going to change now just because he’s transparently defying the will of the people.


Net Neutrality: Done Deal, Open Question

Ah Nick Gillespie. A cherished source of much misinformation in my past years as a libertarian. How to explain to you Nick just how dominated by polemic you are? I’m not sure why On The Media thought that his was the voice to go to, the voice to promote the OHM’s internet agenda. Aside from the fact that he is a vocal critic of everything government, the way a proper libertarian propagandist would be, he has little to no experience doing anything aside from being an apologist for capitalism’s excesses. In all the years I’ve read his work, he solidly comes down on the side of the corporate donors who generously fund his monthly rag.

I would offer a quote from Nick Gillespie’s blog article on Reason magazine, if there was anything quote-worthy about it. That article and the interview Reason conducted with Ajit Pai seems to be the justification of having him speak for the pro-OHM policy side of the open internet argument, but I don’t accept any of his conclusions since he offers not one shred of evidence showing that Net Neutrality rules have in any way limited the internet aside from acknowledging that providing a service as essential as the internet means that the provision needs to be available everywhere in the US equally to all citizens.

If I were to hazard a counter-argument (and since you are reading this, I have) I think I would say that libertarianism as a philosophy is absent any relevance to the information delivery service that is the internet. The proof of libertarianism’s irrelevance to the subject is that the Electronic Frontier Foundation is opposed to everything that Nick Gillespie says on the subject of Net Neutrality and they are also at heart a libertarian organization.

I want to make one thing perfectly clear here. I am not shy about demanding the government secure the internet against all threats, including government oversight of internet content. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) should be strapped down by regulations which prevent them from doing anything other than provide access to the information. They should not under any condition be content manufacturers, as so many of them currently are. Failure to enforce this ban on content creation by the providers leads inevitably to things like Comcast’s shakedown of Netflix, and the permanent throttling of competitors in the near future if the new rules are allowed to go through. Their promises to not throttle their competitors in the online world are worth every bit as much as the OHM’s promise that Mexico would pay for the border wall; as in, not worth a thing and probably indicative of the complete opposite in reality.

The ISP’s make and are still making bucket loads of money in the internet world. What they don’t want is to be forced to provide service to areas that are not profitable for them, something that President Obama’s FCC rules on Net Neutrality and Title 2 designation forces on the ISPs. The same kinds of rules that made telephones and electricity things that are available throughout the US. Regulations that require the provision of services to all households in the country whether provision of those services is profitable or not.

I don’t think I can put too fine a point on this argument. This is the future of democracy in the world that we are talking about. The internet is the new library, newspaper, radio and television rolled into one. It is possibly even a replacement for the postal service itself, aside from the delivery of physical goods to locations, a job capably done by other private sources. The internet has to be available to everyone everywhere all the time or it will fail to do its job. What these new proposed rules portend is that information will be made available only to the wealthy, with the rural areas of America left rotting without infrastructure they have every right to expect the government to provide.

An information tollway with demand-based pricing. That most libertarian of libertarian ideas, paying for access to work, shelter food and clothing up front by making everyone pay for the roads they are forced to use just to satisfy basic needs. It was a libertarian idea first, this lame brained scheme to make everyone pay for freeways by turning them into tollways. Here in Austin, we are saddled with several of these bullshit toll roads. There is no way to get from here to there without paying a fee if the road didn’t exist before the tollway was created. This leaves several new developments unreachable without paying a toll, a painful fact that new homeowners will discover only after they buy their houses and learn local routes to and from work. To and from the supermarket.

This is what they propose for the internet. None but the wealthy may pass. Everyone else, get in line.



Tim Berners-Lee on the current proposals from the FCC,

I want an internet where content businesses grow according to their quality, not their ability to pay to ride in the fast lane. I want an internet where ideas spread because they’re inspiring, not because they chime with the views of telecoms executives. I want an internet where consumers decide what succeeds online, and where ISPs focus on providing the best connectivity.

If that’s the internet you want — act now. Not tomorrow, not next week. Now.

 The link in that snippet goes to battleforthenet.com, an online petition and protest organization designed specifically to stop these new FCC rules dead in their tracks. If you want to preserve the promise of an open internet, then I suggest you click on that link and do what you can to help them. Now is the time to act to save the internet from the OHM and his henchmen. 

Stuck in Mobile Interface Hell

Mobile apps are so kludgy. Why is it apparently impossible to make a mobile app that can produce content that can dance and sing like  desktop applications do? The Tumblr app will not let blog posts tap the power of the social web by drawing content from other websites and displaying it as it does on the desktop/browser interface.

At least I can access the code with the Tumblr app. The Blogger app cannot give me access to HTML code at all as far as I can tell. Don’t get me started on how the Facebook app can’t let go of content, even when you tell it twice to let go.

Yes, view in browser. No, I mean a real browser. No, I mean Chrome!

Why do I have to argue with Facebook programming on my own phone? The Blogger app can’t find my photos. Tumblr can’t multi-media code unless you can do it all from memory (I can’t) and the Facebook app? Zuckerberg isn’t getting the blogging part of my soul. He already has too much of the rest of it.

This is hell. I want my desktop back. Now please.

Jean-Luc Picard programming binary code from memory
into Data’s severed head in Time’s Arrow (Part 2).
I cannot program on this level, but I do know people who can.

Hooray for ISP & cable provider choice!

I’ve never been happier than I am right now, to not be a Time Warner subscriber.


To: Grandecom
Subject: Thank you!

Just got word that Time Warner is about to stick it to the local customer base (http://www.businessinsider.com/time-warner-cable-putting-more-bandwidth-hogs-on-a-diet-2009-4)

I’d like to take this time to thank Grande for NOT doing this to it’s subscribers, and to suggest that this should be your marketing focus for the foreseeable future. (My wife is once again offering her services to Grande if they need help with this…) 40 gb a month is a ridiculously low ‘maximum’ cap on usage. They should be run through the ringer for this action.

So, thank you, thank you, thank you. I look forward to seeing Grande’s gain in market share in the near future.

Sincerely,
R. Anthony Steele

Connect America = Control of the Internet

It’s not making much news, but Hillary Clinton has a proposal that should have all of us running away from her in abject terror.

No, it’s not the completely predictable proposal to force us all to pay for health insurance (that’s a yawner, from where I’m sitting) it’s the story being reported in this AP news story:

Presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton on Wednesday called for a national broadband Internet system and permanent research tax credits…
“The nation that invented the Internet is now ranked about 25th in access to it,” Clinton said in her latest speech directed at the middle class appeals.
Called “Connect America,” Clinton’s broadband network would give businesses incentives to go into underserved areas, support state- and local-based initiatives and change the Federal Communication Commission rules to more accurately measure Internet access.

Can we say FCC as a national internet service provider (ISP)? If a federal agency is given authority over the internet, can there be any doubt that they will become the ultimate ISP, and govern the internet as they govern television and radio broadcast. Even beyond that, rules changes allowing FCC regulation of the internet will give the FCC regulation of cable television as well.

Let’s imagine, shall we, that the self same government agency that has so famously declared certain words as unspeakable over the airwaves, and certain body parts as unviewable on television, can now determine what will or will not be acceptable on the internet.

Obviously there will be no more porn (and no more porn channels on pay-per-view, either) but that’s just the start. How about access to information on sex education? How about medical journals? And why stop there? How about an internet ‘fairness doctrine’. Political forums would be subject to requirements concerning equal times on the forum for dissenting views, or be faced with closure.

But that’s also only the surface. This is where the real money is. Access to all materials that have ‘cloudy’ licensing issues will be blocked. Peer to peer will be history. Torrents a thing of the past. If you want music or movies, software or whatever, you will have to go to the license holders and pay whatever price they ask. No more testing on the QT to make sure the product will work for you, not unless you can find someone with a duplicatible hard copy. No more catching that missed episode of you favorite TV show by accessing a torrent file.

“Follow the money” the saying goes, and I think I can spot where the money is coming from, and where it will be going, if Hillary gets her wish on this issue. Forget socialized medicine; we’re talking basic information access here.

But that’s also just the tip of the iceberg. Putting the gov’t in charge of internet access puts us in the same category as China; where anything the gov’t doesn’t approve of will be blocked. It opens up the door to a 1984 type scenario where information and history are completely malleable, where truth is whatever those in charge deem it to be at any given moment (we have always been at war with Eastasia…) because they can simply dictate that the records be changed, and there won’t even be the gaping holes in the photographs next to Stalin to point out that something is missing.

Is anyone still so naive as to think that once the camel’s nose is under the tent that the whole camel won’t shortly follow? That giving the gov’t the ability to provide access to the internet won’t eventually lead to active control of content? It’s happening now everywhere the gov’t is involved; the internet will be no different, and is already no different in places where internet access is provided at gov’t expense; the attempts to control content in libraries are a shining example of this.

We should run screaming from suggestions such as the one floated by Ms. Clinton. Better yet, we should vow never to listen to (much less elect) someone with such a shaky notion of what real freedom is.

Retailing Widgets

Ran across this entry over at the Digital Money Blog. It seems that Internet retailing over in Britain is taking off faster than it is here in the US. His reason seems plausible:

In the US, if you want to buy a widget then you stop off at the widget shop, park right outside, nip in and get your widget from someone who wants to sell you one and then go. In the UK, if you want to buy a widget then you’ve got to find somewhere to park (and get charged a fortune for it), walk miles to the widget shop and then be ignored by the bored teenage assistant who, in any case, knows nothing about widgets.

While I agree about the ease of the process of shopping in the US, the “bored teenage assistant” in the US is generally just as clueless (albeit nicer about it) as the ones in the UK, I’m certain.

When the wife and I walk into the local electronics stores to buy boards for the computers or whatever ‘widget’ we need this week, she inevitably ends up correcting a salesman who is trying to make a sale to another customer. If I didn’t have her with me, I wouldn’t trust a one of them to be able to help me find what I wanted.

The reason I still make the trek to the local “Power Center”…

[Shopping malls and strip centers are so last century. Power Centers are even dated now. The latest thing? Multi-use shopping/office/residential complexes. When those start taking over the landscape, I think I’ll stay home]

Is that age old need to touch whatever it is I’m looking for, before I buy it; and that I generally need whatever it is right now, not a week from now. I buy a lot of stuff online, when I’ve planned ahead and I’m making purchases in advance.

When planning fails, or the widget just breaks, the ease of the process gets me out in the car. That, and getting to watch the wife make some teenage assistant’s life a momentary hell.