Category Archives: Information Technology

IT; is the acquisition, processing, storage and dissemination of vocal, pictorial, textual and numerical information by a microelectronics-based combination of computing and telecommunications.

The Constant Hum of Net-Neutrality?

I’m reading a lot of the “voices of reason”, telling us their hope for a brighter, better, fairer, more economical, world-wide-web is through FCC regulation. If only we do this one little thing, ask our representative’s for more regulation. As a matter of principle, and all that is net-holy, we need to demand more regulations, we have to get more bureaucrats to control this nightmare of an Internet that soon can befall us, without extensive government guidance.

When someone makes an extraordinary claim, they should be obligated to demonstrate their claim is real.

cartoon-people-clappingNet neutrality The common perception of net neutrality is positive. It’s supposed to require Internet service providers to treat all on-line content the same. They can’t deliberately speed up or slow down traffic from specific websites, block sites, or applications, nor can they put their own content at an advantage over rivals.

The claim “The elimination of the FCC enforcing net neutrality will give big cable companies control over what we see and do on-line. If corporations get their way, they’ll allow widespread throttling, blocking, censorship, and extra fees.”

Net neutrality advocates portray a problem, then without proper examination of facts, they want the government to control the Internet. Their proposals lack the essential explanations of, over what time period a remedy should occur, the cost, or how their regulations are going to monitor and insure the problem(s) were fixed.

Meanwhile a host of complaints, which almost any service provider routinely responds, are cited as hypothetical problematic issues.  Except where criminal conduct has been involved, there are no examples of any Internet-service provider preventing its customers from viewing content on-line. Comcast attempted to “throttle” or slow down access to certain data packets a decade ago; they were blasted in the court of public opinion and soon relented.

beware-false-claims-2There’s an illusion that somehow government can control enterprise better than individual companies. Nowhere can such a claim be demonstrated by facts, yet many persist we need more, not less government intervention. There’s a disconnect on how speeds and feeds would be monitored for each type of Internet application and entertainment source.

Having been involved with data communications over 30 years and responsible for managing the speed as well as the perceptions of individual users, complaints are the daily norm. In many instances a problem stems from user perceptions, equipment malfunction, and purposeful attacks on companies and infrastructure through clever hacking.

One of the frequent claims by those advocating net neutrality are that service providers will raise rates without government regulation. I know for reasonable certainty two things will occur in regard to pricing.

  •  price increases and advertisement revenue claw back is already in the works.
  •  regulations, monitoring, and compliance with increased government regulations most certainly will increase the cost to the consumer.

Google has an 88 percent share of the search-engine market. Facebook has a 77 percent share of mobile social media. Amazon, controls 70 percent of e-book sales, how would government effectively manage their access and cost to use with additional regulation?

If anything, net neutrality is a lose-lose scenario. Access that we take for granted would invariably be slower because providers would have to be increasingly watchful of data flow. Throttling techniques, (packet shaping) would be necessitated. Costs to the end-user would increase.

Summary

The Internet is made up of billions of users, millions of individual pieces of equipment, passed through complex routing by thousands of companies. We’ve seen exponential growth since 1994. Video tape rentals were the usual source for on demand entertainment. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and even Google were created during this period. The flexibility, adaptability, and skills required to meet this growth were all done without government supervision. You can almost guarantee if the government had been supervising, we would be still using ISDN or dial-up, waiting for connection, and certainly not getting video on demand.

“When I took office, only high energy physicists
had ever heard of what is called the World Wide
Web… Now even my cat has its own page.”
Bill Clinton

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Why the Net Isn’t Neutral

server rackI understand, you want things to be fair. You’re all about fair play and equality. You’re even willing to wear a silly hat and carry a sign if necessary in the name of fairness. I get it and respect that.

When I read many posts making claims about net neutrality, I realize the masses can be so readily manipulated. It’s one of the reasons I’m glad I’ve learned to be more skeptical and willing to dig for information. It’s because so few people are willing and able to dig in for themselves, preferring to accept the most frequent regurgitations as fact.

No matter how many times I’ve neutralized the arguments about net neutrality, even some people who I regard as highly intelligent, accept the following as fact.

Without net neutrality we will lose these benefits:
(these claims are false but many believe it to be true)

  • education on-line
  • employment opportunities
  • social media access
  • on-line shopping
  • ticket buying
  • cat videos
  • our favorite porn
  • explosive or chemical devices (see this link)

Before 2015, there were no legal protections requiring net neutrality. Before 2015 Internet providers could charge different prices for different speeds. You wanted faster Internet, you paid a higher price. After 2015, when “net neutrality” laws were passed, Internet service providers are able to charge tier level prices. Faster Internet = higher pricing. Notice any difference before 2015 and after? There isn’t any.

Let me explain it another way. The whole idea behind net neutrality, is to keep data flowing freely. You want to be able to watch those on demand cat videos and Internet porn, or your favorite net-fix video. You believe it’s your right, but it really bothers you that a company has the audacity to charge you more if you use more data. How dare they!

If the objectives of the law were to insure we receive services on an equal basis, then why is it other “utilities” charge more for their services? Water companies charge more for greater consumption. Electric companies charge more for additional capacity & usage. What are we asking for data services that differs from other utilities?

If Internet service slows or is completely off-line, I call the provider. The problem is identified and the issue is resolved. Municipalities (local government), created a localized monopoly when they chose a single provider for a specified geographic area. This eliminated a market aspect of control and correction through competition. Rates and services improve with competition. Politicians with government regulations created the problems. They later identify & amplify the problems they started, and promote their willingness to fix if only we would elect them.

Dianne Feinstein speaking

To put it succinctly, if the government were to be put in charge of a desert, there would be a shortage of sand in a few years.


 

Operating Systems – Quick Update

brilliance controlIt’s time to get past the discussions on politics, religion, or anything else that you might find disagreeable. It’s time to put back on my favorite hat, Computer Tech. (click here for musical fanfare in background)

I have without hesitancy, been a big fan of Linux instead of Microsoft Windows. If you’re satisfied with Windows and don’t care to explore the other options available for mostly FREE, then please go back to watching cat videos… Make a cake then… if you don’t like cat videos.

I’m using a well-known and popular LINUX version, UBUNTU. All of the tools and programs I require are readily available using this operating system.

desktop_image_ubuntu

An image from my desktop using UBUNTU

If you have an older PC (more than 3 years old), you may find it a bit sluggish or you missed the free upgrade path from Windows XP, Vista, Win8, to Windows 10. If that’s the situation for you, I would like to suggest some alternatives.

Another reason(s) to run LINUX is for security, and finer control of user access to the computer system. If you run a business, this is especially important. I’m going to start with this recommendation of LINUX. RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) has been around for decades. They offer some of the best, secure, server solutions. There is also a free version of this, CENTOS. Obviously, free is good, but the better support and latest releases will be found in the paid versions.

CENTOS 7 desktop

Click on image for details

Let’s start on the ground floor.

If you’re someone not as familiar with trying a new operating system or concerned on negatively impacting your existing computer, I might suggest any of the following options.

  1. Go to this page and find out more.
  2. Check out the links I’ve provided (they’re underlined) to find out more.
  3. Contact me through this post. If you leave a contact email addy, I can respond.

There are a few beginning steps to take whenever you try something new, but believe me, trying LINUX is going to be a very easy step. I find ordering a disk online or buying a magazine from a book store which includes a disk, are easy ways to try a new flavor without having to install it. If you have a CD drive in your laptop or desktop, it’s a very simple process of inserting and trying the new operating system.

One of the latest installations I’ve done, are for my grandchildren. I installed Voyager. It started out as a derivative of XFCE but is now based on a simpler interface to UBUNTU. I had an older PC with a relatively small amount of memory and a slower processor.  It’s noticeably faster on Voyager than the original installed Microsoft Windows, and it automatically found and installed the wireless network connection.

voyager_linux_desktop

Voyager desktop image – click for more details

One of my favorites, which I use on my laptop PC is LINUX Mint. The user interface is much like a Windows PC with less opportunities to viruses and hacking. Even still, be sure to enable the firewall and an anti-virus program.

linux-mint-desktop

Linux Mint – Click on image for more information

Here’s a recap. I would recommend the following but this shouldn’t be considered the final word.

  • CENTOS – server distribution for small to medium sized business.
  • RHEL – get everything CENTOS offers plus the latest changes and support.
  • Voyager – If you’re just starting out and want to become familiar. It looks a lot like a MAC OS.
  • UBUNTU – my favorite to use and get all of the tools as well as good third party support.
  • Mint – Based on UBUNTU with an easy to learn user presentation. Some people prefer straight on UBUNTU while others like the friendlier interface of Mint. Either choice is great.

Check out the video below for another opinion.

Enjoy!