Monthly Archives: November 2007

FaceBook Beacon Bulb Changed: Online Mall Changes Due to Users’ Privacy Concerns

minority_gap.jpg One problem with outfits like MySpace and Facebook is the same as that with shopping malls: they feel sort of like public space, but they’re not. They’re privately owned and operated, and you never know what the private cops are doing with their security camera information, or the stores are doing with all that purchase information. In the case of Facebook, when Facebook announced (to advertising executives, not to its own users) its Beacon system to provide its users information to companies for targetted ads, and that Coca-Cola, Sony, and Verizon had already signed up, Om Malik told Facebook’s users (and the Internet at large), and the users didn’t like it.

Facebook tried ignoring Malik, tried painting him as an elitist pundit, and finally announced users will be explicitly asked whether they want to publish the information that Beacon uses. Facebook didn’t do this until after got involved and turned it into a political issue. Malik is chortling over bringing about this Facebook about-face in only three weeks: from 7 to 29 November.

The moral here seems obvious, and twofold:

  1. Internet users do expect some modicum of privacy.
  2. An Internet company can’t announce something to somebody else that affects its users without the users finding out about it.


Verizon Unlocked by 2008?

padlock_unlocked.png Well, this is news:
Verizon Wireless today announced that by the end of 2008 it will “provide customers the option to use, on its nationwide wireless network, wireless devices, software and applications not offered by the company.” — Verizon Wireless To Open Its Network, Platform, GigaOm, by Om Malik, Tuesday, November 27, 2007 at 6:38 AM PT Comments (12)
Reacting to Google bidding for 700Mhz? Responding to customer demand? Of course, it says by the end of 2008, so Verizon will know who won the U.S. elections by then and could change its mind.

Om Malik follows up with some speculations and consequences, including you’ll have to pay full price for your phone. He didn’t mention that that might mean that Verizon is also reacting to the iPhone, which, while closed (in the U.S. at least, although unlocked in China) already has users paying full price, and plenty of users did.


PlusNet: Honest Prioritization

plusnetusage.gif Unlike Comcast and Cox, PlusNet in the U.K. says what it is doing:
The principles of PlusNet’s network management policies
  • To make sure that time-critical applications like VoIP and gaming are always prioritised
  • To protect interactive applications like web-browsing and VPN from non-time sensitive download traffic
  • To flex the network under demand to cope with normal peaks and troughs from day to day and month to month
  • To flex the network more gracefully than other ISPs in the event of unusual demands in traffic or disaster situations such as a network failure
  • To provide a service relative to the amount each customer pays in terms of usage and experience
  • Provides a ‘quality of service’ effect, meaning multiple applications running on the same line interact with each other effectively, and use of high demand protocols like Peer-to-Peer doesn’t swamp time-sensitive traffic such as online gaming or a VoIP call.
Traffic Prioritisation, PlusNet, accessed 26 Nov 2007
Interestingly, this list does not cite video as the most-favored application, instead it lists VoIP and gaming, which are participatory services. However, scan down to their table of types of traffic, and VoIP and gaming are Titanium, while video-on-demand is the highest level, Platinum. Continue reading

Clogged: Internet Demise Predicted, Again

nur03006.jpg I predict this prediction will be misused by the duopoly to lobby for more favoratism for the duopoly:
User demand for the Internet could outpace network capacity by 2010, according to a study released today by Nemertes Research. The study found that corporate and consumer Internet usage could surpass the Internet access infrastructure, specifically in North America, but also worldwide, within the next three to five years.

As Internet capabilities continue to expand and users strive to be constantly connected, usage of the Internet via the mobile phone, set-top boxes and gaming devices has exponentially increased thus limiting bandwidth capacity. This is due in large part to voice and bandwidth-intensive applications, including streaming and interactive video, peer-to-peer file transfer and music downloads and file sharing. According to ComScore, nearly 75% of U.S. Internet users watched an average of 158 minutes of online video in one month alone and viewed more than 8.3 billion video streams.

Internet could clog networks by 2010, study says, By Sarah Reedy, TelephoneOnline, Nov 19, 2007 1:03 PM

If I had a nickle for every time imminent demise of the Internet has been predicted. This has been going on since before the Internet even existed, and the results have been different than in this prediction. Continue reading

China: Unlocked iPhones

iphone_cn_settings.jpg Can’t get an unlocked iPhone inthe U.S.? Try China:
The iPhone is readily available in computer superstores in most large Chinese cities. In Beijing’s Zhong Guancun, a 15-story mall filled with technology vendors, almost all the stalls are stocked. Two weeks ago, the blogger of Too Many Resources for the iPhone asked several of these vendors whether they could sell him 100 iPhones. They all answered “No problem.”

China’s New ‘Love Craze’ — Black Market iPhones, By Aventurina King, Wired, 11.19.07 | 7:00 PM

These are unauthorized uninsured iPhones. Apparently they aren’t copies: they’re the real thing. The iPhone is manufactured in China, and these ones are shipped out and back through Hong Kong or eBay.

Meanwhile, back in the U.S. of A., you’re stuck with an iPhone that works only on AT&T’s network, while the FCC finagles a spectrum auction so lockin will continue and plans further media consolidation so you won’t know anything better.

Bruce Sterling sums it up:

(((China is the New America because, not only do they have sexy movies, they have iPhones that actually work and aren’t choked to death with legalistic BS IP consumer lock-in.)))

China: The New America (part II), By Bruce Sterling, Beyond the Beyond, November 20, 2007 | 7:44:11 AM


Cox Interrupts eDonkey: Same Technique as Comcast with BitTorrent

The same person to bust Comcast’s blocking of BitTorrent traffic was called upon to test Cox’s system, and sure enough, he concluded with “conclusive proof” that eDonkey was getting the same treatment.

First Comcast, Now Cox Busted ‘Managing’ Traffic by Jason Lee Miller,, Mon, 11/19/2007 – 10:51.

We asked regular user Robb Topolski, who was the first to discover Comcast’s traffic shaping practices, to take a look at Cox connectivity a little more closely.

According to Topolski, Cox is in fact using traffic shaping to degrade p2p traffic. In analyzing a user log, he has concluded that Cox is using traffic shaping hardware to send forged TCP/IP packets with the RST (reset) flag set — with the goal of disrupting eDonkey traffic. He’s been unable to tell precisely what hardware Cox is using, but he notes that the technique being used is very similar to Comcast’s treatment of BitTorrent.

Cox Also Disrupting P2P Traffic, Using the same forged packet method as Comcast, by Karl,, 03:35PM Thursday Nov 15 2007

The main difference between Comcast and Cox is that Cox says it’s doing it, for the good of the user, of course. Still, which users exactly asked for their ISP to fake TCP packets? And how long before Cox trips up some business users, Like Comcast stifling Lotus Notes?



apparatchik.jpg From London, it appears the emperor’s apparatchik has no clothes:
The commission, under Mr Martin, has turned US media policy into mere political theatre, while technology marches on apace, revolutionising media markets without any serious input from the regulators in the public debate about the implications.

Big Media control of the airwaves is simply not the threat to democracy and choice that it once was (in the days before cable or, for that matter, bloggers and MySpace). This is yesterday’s battle. It is time to move on to the tougher challenge: how to ensure that quality news survives the YouTube era.

New rules for yesterday’s problem, Editorial, Financial Times, Published: November 14 2007 19:15 | Last updated: November 14 2007 19:15

Well, the first step would be to ensure that people get to look at it, for example that they are able to view the Financial Times. Economic models would be good, too. Some traditional news media seem to be developing those.
But it is not clear how one troubled industry (newspapers) can be helped by grafting it on to another one (the broadcast media), when both have essentially the same problem: the internet is stealing their advertising revenues.
Well, the New York Times has discovered can make more money by advertising if they don’t charge for articles. And that didn’t involve merging with a TV station. With real ISP competition, somebody would also develop a real first-mile ISP business plan.


Decreasing Competition: Teletruth Documents FCC Harm to Wireline

Here are the main points:
  • 56% Drop in Competitive Local Exchange Carrier Lines: Loss of 10 Million Competitive Lines Since 2004 — and Falling.
  • Lack of Competitive Choices Led to Massive Local and Long Distance Price Increases; Billions in Investor Losses.
  • FCC’s Deregulation Picked Winners and Losers — The Duopoly — Creating Economic Harms to Wireline-Competition, Favoring Cable Companies.

DROP 10,330,000 lines -56%

Only 7.1% competitive lines.

Part One: Harm to Wireline Competition: Harm to Customers and Investors. TeleTruth, 15 November 2007

Many details are in the report. The bottom line is that there is no effective competition in wireline POTS in the U.S.


Obama’s CTO

obama3.jpg U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama says he will appoint a Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for the government, and he has specific tasks for this person, which go well beyond the current administration’s reactive defensive technology policies. For example:
He wants Cabinet officials, government executives and rulemaking agencies to hold meeting that are open to the public and transmitted with a live feed. The CTO’s mandate will be to ensure this happens. Specifically, Obama wants the public to be able to comment on the White House website for five days before legislation is signed.

Exclusive: Barack Obama to name a “Chief Technology Officer”, By Matt Marshall, VentureBeat, 13 November 2007

Well, that would be a bit different from the current FCC, which doesn’t even announce hearings on its own web pages. Continue reading

Pirates of the Duopoly: AT&T Plans Anti-Piracy Content-Recognition

attseal.jpg Yo ho:
Remember YouTube’s content filtering system? AT&T is mulling setting one up across its whole network. BusinessWeek’s reporting AT&T’s in talks with NBC Universal and Disney to possibly use content-recognition tech developed by Vobile—a company they’ve all invested in—to block pirated material from being sent to and fro along its network. Net Neuterality: AT&T Considering Scary, Content-Recognizing Anti-Piracy Filter for Entire Network, Gizmodo, by Matt Buchanan, 8 Nov 2007

Perhaps Disney, NBC, and AT&T have forgotten that Disney has made pirates very popular.

Meanwhile, it’s one thing for YouTube to do content filtering. It’s quite another for AT&T, as one of the duopoly of Internet access in most of the U.S., to do the same. You know, the same AT&T that censored Pearl Jam and other bands for expressing political views.

I wonder how big a backlash there will be when AT&T’s customers discover more false positives than fingerprints?