Net Neutrality – Oh Here We Go Again – FCC Please Keep Fighting!!

It’s been a long time since I wrote about this, and it’s unfortunate that I have to once again.

Today (Tuesday, January 14, 2014), a U.S. appeals court rejected federal rules that stated that Internet providers treat all web traffic equally. This once again raises the threat of broadband and mobile carriers charging content providers and internet companies for faster access to their websites and services.

“The Federal Communications Commission’s open Internet rules, also known as net neutrality rules, required Internet service providers to give consumers equal access to all lawful content without restrictions or varying charges.”

net neutrality image

If this isn’t appealed the providers will control the internet. They will have the ability tell us what sites we can visit and can’t visit. They will be able to force companies to pay an extra cost compared to the traffic they have to their sites on top of the monthly fee they already pay to be connected to the internet, which by the way is already based on how much traffic they use.

Let’s look at the scenario:

Currently internet providers:

  • Charge companies for an internet connection in which the fee is based on the amount of bandwidth
  • Charger consumers to access the internet and in turn to access companies that are being charged to be connected to the internet. Their fee is also based on the bandwidth

Without net neutrality internet providers could gouge companies and charge companies with popular more just because they are popular.

Internet providers like Verizon, Comcast, AT&T and others like to complain that they are being used unfairly because internet companies who are making money by using their services, so they should have the right to charge successful companies more money.

First, how is that unfair? You provide a service companies pay for it. It’s called trade.

Second, this would be equivalent to the electric companies saying, “Oh, you have a toaster from KitchenAid? They haven’t made a deal with us, so if you plug that in, we’re going to block the power to the toaster so it won’t work.”

Or the water company saying, “A roommate moved in with you? We’re going to have to charge you extra now. Never mind that you’ll be paying more because there will be two people using water and we charge for the amount you use.”

You see the pattern here?

Internet providers like Comcast, who already has a monopoly in many areas, have even more at stake. They are scared to death of companies like NetFlix because more people are cutting the Cable TV cord each day. They want to watch shows when they want to watch them. This takes money out of Comcast’s pockets. So instead of innovate to compete they want to block their competition.

“The largest providers on Tuesday pledged that they would not restrict how customers use the web.”

Do you believe them?

This is the second time that the rules have been struck down in court. The FCC could appeal it again and eventually it could end up in the Supreme Court. There is also another option. They could try to reclassify broadband providers and put them in the same category as traditional phone companies. They have resisted doing this because of strong opposition from Republicans and.. you guessed it.. broadband providers.

Take Action

This is where we come into play. It’s time again to take action. Call, write, Facebook, tweet, get in contact with your government representatives and let them know that this is unacceptable. Tell them that you want an Open Internet. Taking away Net Neutrality will drastically change the internet and give the power of who succeeds to the Internet providers.

Urge your congress men and women to push the FCC to make the appropriate changes and keep an OPEN INTERNET.

Read the original article about the court ruling.

DNS Issues With Network Solutions Causing Outages

networksolutionslogoNetwork Solutions, a registrar for domain names, is having some sort of outage today which is causing their DNS not to resolve. Anyone that has their domain registered with Network Solutions may be experiencing issues with access to their site. This is impacting some of our clients as well as many other sites across the internet.

What is DNS and why is this happening. DNS = Domain Name Server. Basically it is the listing that tells browsers like Internet Explorer or Firefox where the domain is located. Just image when you need to know what number to dial when you want to order a pizza, you would go to the phone book and look up Joe’s Pizza. Now imagine that for some reason half the pages were missing from the phone book, or you couldn’t find the phone book at all.  The Phone Book is the  DNS in this situation.

Bottom line if your domain name is registered through Network Solutions, and you are using their DNS Servers for your domain, your website and email may be down or intermittently available until the problem is resolved.

The company experienced a similar problem last July that they blamed on hacking, or a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack. With such an attack hackers direct thousands of computers to hit the website all at once, which then overwhelms the server.

“Unfortunately, cybercrime is a persistent threat in today’s world. Despite our best efforts, no one is immune–including large providers like Network Solutions,” the company said on Facebook.

I guess we will have to wait and see if this is the scenario this time.

Mercedes Ad – Great Use of Double Take Photography

This is a great use of double take photography.

The Mercedes Benz advertisement: A car that always looks fast. Even when it’s parked!

 

mercedes fast even in park

HootSuite Users Can Now Use HootSuite to Manage Their Google+ Pages

After asking and asking and well… asking again, HootSuite users can now use HootSuiite to manage their Google+ pages!

Hootsuite Google+ Header

HootSuite is an online dashboard that allows people manage multiple social media accounts as well as work with teams. When working with a team you can do such things as assign tweets to your team members, so the right person is replying. Among other things you can also schedule tweets, bulk schedule and upload files through the HootSuite platform.

Yesterday the company announced that after running beta testing it was going to allow all users, regardless of their account type, to manage their Google+ pages.

hootsuite love

Woohoo, or should we say Hoot Hoot to HootSuite for listening to their users and giving them the functionality they wanted.

Now how do you add your Google+ Page to Your HootSuite Dashboard?

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

It’s simple: Make sure you’re logged into your Google+ account. Then click on the owl icon on the top of the toolbar on the left side to access your profile. Then click on the Add A Social Network under My Social Networks. Click Connect with Google+ and Allow HootSuite to access your Google account. Then choose the pages you want to connect. That’s it, you’re done!

Awesome Google I/O Project Glass Demo

This was definitely a great product demo! A jump from a Zeppelin, mt. biking across a roof top with a jump, repelling down a building and mt. biking to the stage.  There was so much that could have gone wrong, but it went quite smoothly. Great work Sergey!

Do you think you’ll buy Google Glasses?

Dear Congress: Reform Copyright Law, Stop Piracy, Don’t Break Internet

By now I hope you have already heard something about the bills that the US government is discussing: SOPA and PIPA. A very basic description is that the laws would give the government free reign to shutdown, seize domains and websites from sites that they deem to be breaking copyright laws. There is also a portion of the bill that could potential take down sites that link to them.

They are also talking about ways to essentially block foreign domains. A lot of this would be done by messing with DNS settings. DNS stands for Domain Name Servers. The DNS hold the master records of where things are located on the internet. It’s like the master list of addresses that the post office has.

So, search engines, forums and even if someone posts a link on your blog. Boom! You could be shut down.  This would break the internet. Moreover, it wouldn’t stop pirates. The sites/people that are really dedicated to pirating will simply change their address and set up a new site, while legitimate companies will suffer because of something they can’t control.

Something that is not very surprising, some of the major supporters come from the music and movie industry. The real problem is they are still running on an outdated system. Many of the music/movie companies would rather that the internet just went away rather than adapt their business model, which is based on limited distribution, charging high premiums and paying a fraction of the profits to the artists. Wake up and adapt! Stop trying to kill the internet.

Recently a number of companies wrote to congress explaining how SOPA and PIPA will not stop piracy that the laws would “pose a serious risk to our industry’s continued track record of innovation and job-creation.” Here’s a list of some of the companies and a link to the letter: AOL, EBay, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Mozilla, Twitter, Yahoo and Zynga

Watch the video to learn more.

PROTECT IP / SOPA Breaks The Internet from Fight for the Future on Vimeo.

Today a number of popular sites are going black to protest including: Wikipedia, Google Censors logo.
Why The Web Is Going Dark Over SOPA & PIPA

What can you do to help? Sign the petition to stop SOPA/PIPA and call or write your congress representative.

 

 

Is Google Walling Out the Rest of the Internet to Make Their Search Better?

In the last few months we’ve seen a number of changes released by the search powerhouse Google. The updates are coming at a fast and furious pace. Today’s addition as well as one of their previous changes have been doing more than raise a few eyebrows. There is sure to be more talk about anti-trust issue.

Let’s start with the older change that took place in October of 2011. Without much fanfare Google started withholding keyword data for organic search. The way that they are doing it is if a searcher is logged into their Google account and performs a search on Google.com, this data (i.e keywords) is now not passed through so that site owners can see what that visitor search for before landing on their site. It now simply says [not set]. There has been much speculation if this was just a money making move to promote their premium analytics platform. But guess what there was another surprise for us today and this is what I believe the real reason they are withholding data: Enter “Search Plus.”

Search plus is an update to how Google’s search engine works, making it more social. Here are the basics.

  1. Personal Results, which enable you to find information just for you, such as Google+ photos and posts—both your own and those shared specifically with you, that only you will be able to see on your results page; 
  2. Profiles in Search, both in autocomplete and results, which enable you to immediately find people you’re close to or might be interested in following; and, 
  3. People and Pages, which help you find people profiles and Google+ pages related to a specific topic or area of interest, and enable you to follow them with just a few clicks. Because behind most every query is a community.

At first glance this may sound great, I can use Google to find all the info I want to find from the people I care about. It’s also obviously a shot at Facebook and Twitter. But, if you read into it a bit more, it may seem kind of scary and this is where the anti-trust suits will really focus.

Of course the social aspects are going to come from Google’s own Google+: Not Facebook, not Twitter. (Just as a disclaimer Google has tried for years to get access to Facebook and actually collaborated with Twitter, but Facebook wouldn’t allow it and Twitter didn’t renew their deal.) Does this give preferential treatment to Google products and sites? That seems pretty obvious.

To do this Google needed to created a way to secure search data so that people’s private data isn’t out there in the public.

When it comes to security and privacy, we set a high bar for Search plus Your World. Since some of the information you’ll now find in search results, including Google+ posts and private photos, is already secured by SSL encryption on Google+, we have decided that the results page should also have the same level of security and privacy protection.

If we put the two changes together: Google withholding data from marketers and site owners and the new “Search Plus” it might sound pretty scary to Google’s competition, but unfortunately the encryption and the preferential treatment is something they have to do if they want to compete in the social arena.  What I don’t get though is with all the programming wizardry they have, why can’t they figure out how to pass the keyword data to website owners when someone clicks on a link even on an encrypted results page? Either way this creates walls between Google’s platform and the rest of the internet.

What do you think?

Is Crowdsourcing as Smart as We Hope?

Yesterday, I came across an interesting Peta Pixel: Why You Shouldn’t Give Too Much Weight Too Anonymous Online Critics, and it got me thinking.

Briefly, here’s what what the the post was about:

In 2006 a guy name André Rabelo submitted the photo below to group called DeleteMe!, where members of the group vote on photos to rate their quality. The photo was quickly voted down. The kicker was, it was a photo taken by a famous photographer named Henri Cartier-Bresson from 1932, which was sold at an auction in 2008 for $265,000.

But wait.. I thought this group said it was not good??

What André did is essentially an exercise in Crowdsourcing, which is group problem solving and is often done online. It can be used in areas such as software development, mining, research and as well as translation.

My question: Is the key here that they were “anonymous” voters, or is crowd sourcing not as intelligent as we hope? Or is crowdsourcing really the ultimate test of quality? What do you think?

Amazon Web Services Goes Down and Takes a Multitude of Sites With It

Amazon Webservices LogoEarly this morning Amazon Web Services started experiencing a problem in one of their data centers in Virginia. Amazon Web Services is a cloud computing service from Amazon.com. Many online platforms and services use Amazon’s service to host data for their online applications. It’s been reported that the outages were caused by a networking event. The issue is with their Elastic Block Storage or EBS. EBS is used for block level storage that is used in Amazon EC2 instances. Here’s a statement from Amazon:

“A networking event early this morning triggered a large amount of re-mirroring of EBS volumes in US-EAST-1,”

“This re-mirroring created a shortage of capacity in one of the US-EAST-1 Availability Zones, which impacted new EBS volume creation as well as the pace with which we could re-mirror and recover affected EBS volumes. Additionally, one of our internal control planes for EBS has become inundated such that it’s difficult to create new EBS volumes and EBS backed instances.”

“We are working as quickly as possible to add capacity to that one Availability Zone to speed up the re-mirroring, and working to restore the control plane issue,” Amazon continued. “We’re starting to see progress on these efforts, but are not there yet. We will continue to provide updates when we have them.”

There are a variety of services being disrupted. Here are a few where I’ve experienced outages or limited availability:

Hootsuite
Foursquare
Reddit
Quora

If you know of any others please add them in the comments.

April Fools’ Day – Internet Filled with Spoofs

It seems everyone is getting in on the April Fools’ Day action today. Youtube posted black-and-white videos said to be from 1911. Huffington Post put up a fake pay wall on their site. Hulu published a pixely 1990’s looking redesign. Google played with the “helvetica” font. Even serious sights like LinkedIn was in on the action. Did you play any April Fools’ Day jokes?

Check out the people LinkedIn thinks I might know.
linkedIn April Fools' Day

Hulu’s 1990’s Dial-up age redesign.
Hulu's April Fools' Day redesign