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All posts tagged "internet"

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Bell Canada Readies To Welcome Speedy Customers

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 02:00 PM

"In a joint letter to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, dated Monday, regulatory officials at Bell Canada and Bell Aliant indicate the companies will stop implementing the controversial traffic shaping practice in March."

It looks like Christmas has come to customers of Bell who look for unbridled speed. For many years now, Bell Canada (among other ISPs in Canada) has throttled the speed of its customers who use P2P technologies during certain times of the day. Simply put, if you use something that uses P2P (with certain exceptions) at 8:00pm in the evening, expect your connection speed to slow to a crawl. Bell reasoned that P2P was disruptive to their networks and added congestion that affected its other customers. That will soon no longer be the case! Upgrades to their network could definitely be part of the reason for the change of heart, but it is also quite possibly that they realize that money can be made from data hungry customers. While the throttle will disappear, their data caps will not be, and act as a ceiling on what you can do each month. If you want to stream one more movie, or read one more webpage, it will cost you.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Enjoy Your Cap! There are Children Starving with Much Worse Caps in the World!

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 03:00 PM

"It goes without saying that America’s Internet infrastructure (and pricing models) can vary wildly from those found in the rest of the world. But let’s not end the comparison with just a throwaway statement like that: How do American ISPs fare against their cross-cultural brethren? Does it get much worse than this… or better?"

Data caps are becoming far more commonplace and will probably remain for a long time to come. With each ISP setting up their own limits, it is expected that comparisons be made between different ISPs and even different countries. While it is interesting to see the limits imposed in different areas of the world, I do not see it as any reason to be relieved, or frustrated about what the limits are in one's own country. With the increasing utility and prevasiveness of the Internet, I think that Internet access should be seen as a basic utility and made available to everyone for as low a cost as possible.

Going beyond the standard usefulness of having Internet access, from accessing and paying your bills online to research about what your city is doing, many companies impose data caps that I find are quite low for what they offer, and can hamper innovation. I also strongly suspect that some caps are in place to protect other forms of revenue, such as cable or satellite television. Regardless, I think that pushing for larger data caps is a good idea. While you may not see a need for it now, it can open up new possibilties that can make life that much more improved in the future. Imagine if the Internet for everyone was still stuck at dial-up speeds!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

High Fibre: A Mini Documentary on High-Speed Internet Access

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Articles & Resources" @ 10:33 AM

"The United States is where the Internet was born. But we're falling behind in the race to the online future. Most of us go online these days using a service that's called broadband - faster than old-fashioned dial-up, and always on. But broadband service in the U.S. lags behind a dozen or more industrialized countries - and we're doing worse every year. Need to Know correspondent Rick Karr traveled to the U.K. and the Netherlands - with support from the Ford Foundation and in collaboration with the website Engadget - to find out how these two countries have jumped ahead of us online. This is a story about capitalism, competition, dynamism and innovation in what is arguably the most important industry of the 21st century. Old-fashioned American values, right? Then why are we being left so far behind?"

It's a little sad when I think about the leadership role North America had when it came to wired Internet access, and how that has been eclipsed by other countries putting more money into infrastructure. I remember having fast, always-on Internet via a cable modem in 1995...yet if I stop and look at what I have today from that cable modem, and what I'm paying for it, it doesn't seem like 16 years of progress has been put into that technology. Watch the documentary - it's worth it.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Keeping an Eye on Your Bits and Bytes

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 02:00 PM

"Bandwidth caps are all the rage these days, in North America and around the world. We're talking about the notorious ceilings on how much broadband data you can use before your ISP starts charging you extra, or slowing down your connection, or shaping your traffic use (eg, blocking your access to certain applications)."

So your ISP has told you that you are now on the meter. No more all-you-can-eat buffet for you! Now that the unlimited ride is over, you have to wonder just how much do you use. Lucky for you, your ISP has graciously decided to provide a website that allows you to track your usage. For those of you networking geeks out there, be aware that what your router tracks, and what your ISP tracks may not always match exactly and you can only hope their tool is reasonably accurate. The unfortunately truth is that with caps becoming more commonplace, as tech of your household, you now have one more duty placed upon your shoulders, especially if your data cap is low, or your overage fees are high, or both! Welcome to the NEW Internet!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

And When The Cloud Breaks, Your Data Will Fall...

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Talk" @ 08:00 AM

It's all about The Cloud these days - your data, you entertainment, your everything - stored on a service that you can access with any online connection. The benefits are many, but what you don't always hear about are the down-sides of everything being cloud-based. What if you get locked out of your account? I've heard of more than a few people that get locked out of their Gmail account or who can't access their Gmail calendar. It happens to Hotmail and Yahoo users as well. What if the company hosting your information deletes it, either accidentally or not, or goes out of business? That's not an uncommon problem. In terms of uptime most cloud services are fairly robust, when things go wrong, they can really ruin your day. Read more...

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Canada is the Most Web-Addicted Nation: No Way Eh?

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home News" @ 01:30 PM

"The measurement company comScore reported Canada has the highest penetration of Internet access, with around 68% of Canadians routinely surfing online, against 62% in France and Britain. Close behind is 60% of Germans going online and, south of the border, 59% of Americans. The laggards are Italians, where only 36% of the population goes online, according to comScore."

Above: Yeah, that's my kid, and yeah, this post is just an excuse to show you all how adorable he was when this photo was taken at the beginning of 2010.

We're #1! We're #1! I have to admit I'm a bit surprised by this - I didn't think Canada was any more Web-addicted than other Western nations. Maybe it's because significant portions of our population live in areas that, for half the year, get a wee bit cold [as I look outside to a foot of snow and -18 Celsius temperatures]. The fact that 51% of our population is on Facebook is quite staggering - has there ever been a singular service that has had such massive penetration into a society?

Of course, we're still sucking wind when it comes to Internet access speeds and we're paying too much for it to make matters worse. I was excited to have an Internet connection at 50mbps down and 3mbps up, even if it cost me $97/month...until a friend in New York told me he has 30mbps down and 30mbps up for about $60 per month. Gah!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Net Neutrality And You!

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 11:00 AM

"The Federal Communications Commission is releasing the details of its new net neutrality Order in stages. Although the FCC's new ban on "unreasonable discrimination" for wired ISPs allows certain kinds of traffic discrimination (not all bits need be equal), the agency made clear after today's meeting that "paid prioritization" deals with Internet companies are unlikely to be allowed."

If you have read any technology related news site for the past few years, you probably have heard of the term "Net Neutrality." It is supposed to be one of the founding concepts of the Internets but everyone appears to have their own concept of what it actually means and what it should mean where applied to our burgeoning digital landscape. It is important to pay attention to what is happening since this can directly affect what services you get on the Internet. Aside from the potential for limiting innovation, it can lead towards favoured services, or even more costly services. And what gets decided in the United States is likely to affect other countries, even if they do not adopt similar policies.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Cut the Cord: Living in a Wireless World

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 03:30 PM

"What if all you needed to do was pick up a wireless modem and plug it in to the wall? Clear, the company behind Sprint’s 4G WiMax network, actually offers a $44.99 unlimited 4G home Internet plan today with a special home modem that doubles as an 802.11n router. And even though neither company offers a 4G plan designed for home users, the speed of T-Mobile’s 4G HSPA+ network and Verizon’s brand new 4G LTE network could make them home or small business options now or in the future."

Wireless Internet access in North America has seen an explosion of late. Gone are the days of poker 2G or even 2.5G connections where it takes longer to load up a webpage than it does to pass a bill through Congress. Granted, some areas in North America have access to Internet speeds in the double digits to transfer speeds, many still plod along with DSL and older Cable Internet connections. Wireless connections seem to have reached that level and in some ways even exceed those speeds. Laptop Magazine's test should be taken with a grain of salt though, as it can vary wildly from region to region, but going wireless is possible without any real sacrifice in the quality of conneciton that you get.

However, I think to truly take off, a few things do need to change. It is still more expensive to go fully wireless through a 3G or 4G connection, and the data caps are a lot lower. One thing that I am waiting to see is the bonding of multiple 3G/4G data connections into one plan. Up in the cold barren of Canada, Rogers does offer some plans where you can share certain devices, but it is not all inclusive. I have a 6GB bucket, which is adequate for a lot of use, however, it all has to go through my smartphone. As hard working as my Android is, I'd like to be able to split that bucket between my smartphone, a USB stick, a netbook with built in 4G and maybe a home router.

Has anyone already made the transition? Any suggestions you would make to those considering going wireless only? What challenges did you face? What quests did you have to undertake to reach the holy grail of cable free Internet?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Checking On Your Internet Connection Capabilities

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 04:00 PM

"Glasnost tests work by measuring and comparing the performance of different application flows between your host and our measurement servers. The tests can detect traffic shaping in both upstream and downstream directions separately. The tests can also detect whether application flows are shaped based on their port numbers or their packets' payload."

Hooray! It looks like I have a truly unfettered Internet connection! Actually, I am satisfied to see that result as the method in which I have my Internet should guarantee an untouched pipe to the Interwebs. Most consumer Internet connections in Canada do suffer from rate limiting at certain times of the day. ISPs do it to help manage the huge increase in the demand for bandwidth on their networks, though some claim that certain rate limiting also allows them to position some of their other services, such as Video on Demand, more attractive. The Glasnost tests look like they can be quite thorough for telling you just what you are getting, but it is unlikely that if your Internet connection is restricted in any form, that you will be able to do anything about it.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

How Does Your Country Rate In The Race For Speed

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 03:00 PM

"This list of countries ranges from China at number 1 with 420 million Internet users, and Denmark at number 50 with 4.75 million Internet users. We’ve included this ranking within parenthesis next to each country in the charts below for those who want to know."

There are so many ways you can interpret the data provided by Akamai. One thing that does surprise me is that every so often, you hear about how certain places like Japan or South Korea have access to extremely high speeds like 100Mbit/s or faster yet the country averages are far below those speeds. Even in my home country of Canada, where we are seeing ISPs offer well over 10Mbit/s, the average is well below at 4.73Mbit/s. The report does not say what the average contracted speed is compared to what was actually delivered, only speeds achieved, and you will note that some countries do have people using speeds under 256Kbit/s, probably something along the lines of dial-up connections! It can sometimes be easy to forget where we have been; I only vaguely remember the waits I had to endure with ISDN, let alone dial-up speeds. Fortunately, I seem to be sitting at about the average speed for my country, with my actual coming very close to my contracted speed. What about you? Do you subscribe to anything faster? Is it worth it? Do you find you often get the speeds you have paid for?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Qwiki: Is This The Future of Information Consumption?

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home News" @ 02:30 PM

This is a really interesting tech demo - who knows how much of it is smoke and mirrors, but if it's real, working technology, I can see some very interesting applications for this.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Forget Web 2.0, behold Cloud 2!

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 10:00 AM

"The future of our industry now looks totally different than the past. It looks like a sheet of paper, and it’s called the iPad. It’s not about typing or clicking; it’s about touching. It’s not about text, or even animation, it’s about video. It’s not about a local disk, or even a desktop, it’s about the cloud. It’s not about pulling information; it’s about push."

Predictions about the future, or near future are always fun. Marc Benioff's analysis about where the future of the Internet is heading has some interesting points, and as CEO of, a company that has survived a lot of changes, including the original dot com bust. To put things in a nutshell, it seems that he is talking about the shift of the Internet from a tool of work, to a tool of consumption. Sure, we all have had fun with the Internet over the years, from the Hampster Dance to Keyboard Cat but social websites like Facebook and platforms like the iPad have created a new opportunity that is much more consumer focused. I liken it to the difference in how we recorded shows. Way back, when we just got electricity, programming VCRs meant using a cryptic menu system where we used sacred remote controls to say when and which channel we wanted to record. No, it no longer feels like programming, but just saying, I want to record all the new episodes of this show, and the magic box does the rest. Oddly, while touch is touted as a large part of this, I wonder if there is room for gestures and voice to play a part. Touch is certainly natural, but the next logical step if with motions and talking to your devices.

Tags: internet, cloud

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

MaximumPC Offers a Primer on Routers

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 02:00 PM

"Forming an invisible barrier between you and the net, routers drop incoming packets that you weren’t expecting, and is much less vulnerable to exploits that would seek to poke holes in your defenses. A good router not only drops incoming packets, but it also refuses to acknowledge that an active connection even exists. This simple, but powerful difference between routers, and many software firewalls, provides that extra bit of security that can mean the difference between a virus poking around on your machine, or moving on."

Routers are pretty commonplace these days to the point where I cannot think of a single person I know that does not use a router. Even most broadband providers (at least in Canada) are bundling routers with their Internet service. While many people think of routers are plug and play, there is a great deal one can do with a router to make it more effective. MaximumPC takes the time to explain several critical functions of routers and offers several tips to make your router more effective. Most of the suggestions are common sense, and to the technogeek in us, are pretty simple, but the guide does offer a lot of good suggestions to those who are less technically inclined including what I consider the most important aspect, wireless security. The only part I do not see them talking about, which I think should be a consideration as broadband speeds have been increasing, is that older routers, especially those 5 years and older, may not be capable of taking full advantage of the speeds provided by your ISP. Still, if you know someone who wants to learn how to manage their home network, this is a good place to start.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Internet in Canada a Wasteland

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 09:00 PM

"This growing list of backwards policies is already creating a sense of digital isolation: Canadians can’t stream the videos Americans stream, download the files Americans download, remix the media Americans remix, or tweet the way Americans tweet. With the election of Barack Obama, digital culture in the U.S. hit a tipping point, where a robust online public sphere proved itself capable of changing the world. Meanwhile, here in Canada we’re approaching our own tipping point, where a series of ignorances and capitulations threaten to turn our country into a digital ghetto."

Living in Canada, the digital climate has a direct impact on me and my concerns echo a lot of what Jesse Brown has posted. Internet access, both wired and wireless, in Canada is relatively expensive and slower than our friends south of the border. This in combintion with a growing effort on DRM restrictions makes Canada a less inviting atmosphere for innovation. One case in point mentioned in the article is Twitter recently shutting down outbound SMS messages in Canada. Canadians, well, anyone, needs to make an effort to make sure that their country strives to keep its Internet access as cheap and open as possible. With the impact that a pervasive Internet can have on our lives, it's worth that effort.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sony's AM/FM/HD Radio: Music for the Holidays

Posted by Richard OKane in "Digital Home Articles & Resources" @ 07:00 PM

"You want one of these and you might not realize it yet. Want to know why? Because it just might be the best ever made. I'm talking about Sony's XDR-F1HD AM/FM/HD Radio tuner. This is a radio tuner. That means you have to plug it into a hi-fi or home theater setup to listen. It receives local AM and FM stations as well as all the new HD channels. HD is the new digital method for U.S. broadcasters to deliver over-the-airwaves audio and data in addition to their analog signal. If radio stations choose to broadcast in HD, they can add one, two or more digital channels on the same frequency as their analog station."

Those of you who read my introductory post know that I am a big fan of Sirius XM. Satellite radio is the cure for the remote areas of Canada. From what I've read, HD radio sounds great and provides commercial-free music, so why bother paying for satellite radio, right? How do you make a profit running commercial-free music with no subscription base? That's a separate discussion, but you can't debate the price on this radio: $100 or less [Affiliate].

Tags: radio, hd, internet

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Time Warner to Test Usage-Based Internet Billing

Posted by Jeremy Charette in "Digital Home News" @ 08:00 PM

"Time Warner Cable will conduct a billing test in Beaumont (Texas) to see if it can reduce “network congestions” by making heavy users pay more than light users. Time Warner describes the situation like this: heavy users are 5% of the customers, but use 50% of the bandwidth. I think that Time Warner Cable is trying to improve its 6.84% profit margin rather than solving a “network congestion” problem that few customers, if any, complain about. What is not clear to me is what would happen to the “light users”. Will they be billed on usage as well – or would they stay on a flat-fee plan? As a consumer, I think that if Time Warner wants to use a pay-per-usage (or pay per Gigabytes) billing, every account should be subject to it, so that people who use little bandwidth can save."

Scary. What about customers who use VOIP phone services? Or online gaming such as Xbox Live? Or download songs from iTunes? I see a lopsided profit-driven pricing model like the one that Ubergizmo is suggesting, in which 95% of users pay the regular flat rate fee, and the 5% of "heavy users" pay extra per GB. Of course Time Warner could just adjust the bandwidth "cap" depending on how much profit they need to make each month. Sounds like the ISP makes more money while the consumer gets screwed.

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