Comcast Censors Customer Downloads

comcastcesnsorship Comcast is now apparently a censor of its customers.  It started out as a rumor among several of its customers.  Then concerted effort were made to attempt to determine if Comcast was actually censoring its customers.  As it turns out, it appears that they are.  They are not selectively censoring content, they are censoring bandwidth.

In particular they are censoring bandwidth as it is used with BitTorrent.  BitTorrent provides a peer-to-peer downloading service, and is popular these days with people that like to download movies or TV shows.  If the legality of these downloads is sometimes in question as the ownership of the content is dubious at best.

Regardless, it is unusual for an Internet service provider to censor its customers.  The test utilized to determine is Comcast was actually doing this activity, utilized a version of the King James Bible which is in the public domain and it's legal to download.  People rely on their Internet service providers to deliver them information.  In many ways this is similar to the reliance of people have on the postal service to deliver their mail.  The censorship by Comcast would be similar to the postmaster preventing some mail from making it into people's mailboxes based on the source of mail.

Receive a letter from the Vatican and you might get banned, receive a letter from Falwell University and it might be okay.  Regardless of who sends it to the post office would subjectively ban it in this analogy.  That is what Comcast seems to be doing with information that comes from BitTorrent, the service that they are slowing down.  They don't entirely blocked the information, they just slow down the download, which serves to put a speed bump on the bandwidth and frustrate people you're trying to get information off the Internet.

Ticking off the Right Tools for the Job

Yesterday, I had an interesting conversation with an Information 2.0 company, UmbriaListens. They specialize in figuring out what people are writing about on the internet. 

Not, individuals, but all people.

It almost sounds like something out of an Asimov book, but its not psychohistory as much as something akin to a precursor.  A means of sensing what is going on at a macro level across the internet.

How would a person employ such a Tool?

That is the question for such a technology.  Once you know what millions of people are writing about, what do you do with that information? 

Whenever, I'm confronted with tools and technologies that I lack the wisdom to employ, I revert to an analogy from an Eddie Murphy movie from the 80's that was not very popular.  It was a comedy about arms dealers (pre Iran Contra scandal).

In the movie, they talk about two rival warlords that spend millions on the latest fighter jets.  The warlords do not have any pilots or support systems capable of flying the jets, so they just roll the jets down hills at their enemies and crash them into things.

That's Not a good Utilization of Technology!

So when I run across a technology that I can't utilize (yet) I think of rolling jets down a hill.

That said, I can definitely envision a use for this technology, just like those warlords could envision their jets flying.  But thinking it so, does not make it so.

As an example, I read a watch article the other day that mentioned some watch tools.  This reminded me of my grandfather, who used to repair watches and cameras and lots of other things as well.  The point is that I could go to the local Hobby Lobby and pick up some watch hobby tools, but I could repair a watch or a clock any better than I could without those tools, regardless of the type of clock whether it was mechanical, digital or even atomic. (If it were programmed on a computer that might be a different story. . . )

Having the Right Tool for the Job is almost as important as Having the Wisdom to do the Job

Now, if you do have the right tools, odds are that you might be able to figure out the right methods, just like a non-plumber might figure out how to tighten a pipe with a pipe wrench, but probably could not tighten a pipe with a wood saw.

Having the wisdom of how to use the pipe wrench and when to stop applying pressure so that you do not strip the threads, is something slightly beyond trial and error, but at a level that is necessary to complete a job successfully.

How to Sell a Tool that You Cannot train a Customer to Use before you Sell it

So anyway, I was very interested in this tool, but I was in a Catch 22.  If I purchased the tool (informational report) I wouldn't know how to use it.  That would make the information about as useful as a pipe wrench. But my odds of success and my ability to realize a return on my investment would not be very good.

I would essentially need to pay for some training in using the tool.  Having the training would make it possible to use the tool correctly, but then I run into the final question.

Is the tool worthwhile at all?

At this point, I have the tool, I have the wisdom to use it, but its only with the combination of those two things can I realize if all of these things are really worthwhile.

I have to buy the tool and invest the time and money in the training in order to determine if I have the right tool in the first place. 

Back to my Watch Analogy. . . .

If I were repairing a cookoo clock, and I purchased a sledge hammer and bashed the cookoo into the clock and ruined the clock, I would learn that I had the wrong tool for the job.  I'd also be out a cookoo clock (in need of repair) and out the money for a sledge hammer.

If I purchase a small clock mallet, I might tap on the cookoo all day long and never get the peg into the clock just right either.  I could then keep buying mallets until I found the right one (assuming I didn't go to far and end up with a similar result to the sledge hammer.)

So in the age of the internet and Information 2.0, how can a company get the message across about how to use their tools and products, without giving the product away?  How can a buyer make a good buying decision without having the wisdom to use the information they buy effectively?

Goodbye TiVo - Going to miss you

I am waiting on hold right now to cancel my TiVo account.  I am in the middle of an extended temporary housing situation, and the TiVo is going in a box for a while as I am stuck with a crappy DVR from Dish right now.


I do plan on picking TiVo back up again in the future, but its not in the cards to keep it right now.  Besides, by the time I am ready to use TiVo again, my TiVo box will likely be outdated.  I suspect that I will probably be looking for an upgrade at that time and the old TiVo will head to the garage sale or maybe the kids room.

The 5 Month Pause

But TiVo surprised me with a smart 'save the account' counter offer.  They offered me a 5 month billing pause on the account.  No strings attached other than they don't have to lose a customer nor go through the expense of setting up and closing down an account.  I probably needed 7 months, but 5 months will at least get me closer.  Unlike a bank or something that might give a digital camera for signing up for a mortgage, when I don't need a digital camera.

So TiVo met me a little past halfway and provided a solution that I did need.

Kudos to TiVo

I'm not a terrorist, that's Just and iPod Burning in My Pocket

Ever since that fateful day when the Dell laptop burst into flames on camera, there has been an unofficial count down to the day when the first iPod would self combust.

Many people thought the idea of self combustion was just and urban legend, something that was not possible, especially in that most sacred of devices, the iPod.  The iPod is that rare device that comes along once every 100 years.  The type of device that turns an atheist into an idolatry fanatic worshipping at the altar of gizmo wording off the evil doer luddites trying to destroy the modern world as we know it.

But when your idol goes up in flames, you have to question just how safe your iGod is. 

Is your iGod a violent iGod or a benevolent iGod?

The person that had their frontside burst into flames from their pocket to their chest was very lucky.  They apparently were not seriously harmed (although the lawsuit will likely say otherwise and rabid iPod worshippers will probably issue death threats once the lawsuit kicks off.)  Regardless, this fire like the Thinkpad fire at LAX took place in an airport, this time at Atlanta's Hartsfield airport. 

The victim of a brimstone burning iPod remarkably was quoted as saying that if the TSA people had seen them while their clothing was smoking, pre iPod flames, the TSA folks would have probably jumped to the conclusion that it was not an iGod zealot smoking but a different type of zealotry that results in personal explosives.

Now this particular burning bush of an iPod was apparently over 2 years old so iPod defenders will easily be able to identify a number of reasons why a burning iPod is not Apple's fault, but instead is the fault of the owner, that obviously should have retired their Ipod and purchased a new one at least a year ago.

iPod's have taken over popular culture from Airport workers to Arizona luxury real estate professionals to students and parents and CEO's across the country and around the world.  Could we all be sitting on an iPod time bomb waiting to fizzle and flame out in a great ball of pocket fire?

PC World - Hot Tunes: Man Says Nano iPod Caught Fire in His Pocket


Top 10 Tech Web Tips

Apps and Games

Recent Electronics and Gadget Videos