Saturday, August 30, 2008

Comcast Caps it off

The latest round of news and announcements from Comcast make me glad once more that I left their service last spring. With the announcement of a bandwidth cap of 250Gig per month to kick in on Oct 1, they clinched the deal for me for the foreseeable future. I had to stand up and cheer out loud as I was reading Om Malik's series of rants on the topic. I agree with Om that one of the biggest philosophical problems is that there is no good way for end users to easily see and track their usage. It is ethically wrong to tell people they will be penalized for over usage of something they can not measure. Comcast, ( and TimeWarner and anyone else considering Metered Internet) if you are going to start billng this way, you need to have an application that I can either log into on the internet ( but don't charge that against my bandwidth...)or else an application that shows up on a channel on my DVR box so I can sit there and watch the bits and bytes stream by in real time.
I think that Om has the right ideas in this blog entry, but he is dancing around the issue. Let's just come right out and say it. The only reason cable companies are metering or limiting bandwidth is to limit their competition.
In a household that includes two teenagers and two almost adolescent boys, a household where I work from home and VPN to work, a household where my fiance is often logged into multiple servers at work over night it does not take long for the bandwidth to start piling up. In addition to computers, we have a Roku box, a wii, and a home media server. We have DSs and PSPs that connect to the internet and my next cell phone will almost certainly be chosen to include the ability to broadcast over wifi. Even my HP printer occasionally talks over the internet. I hit a handful of devices that are on OM's list of devices that can spell trouble for bandwidth, and a few that he forgot to mention. ( I warned you that he went on a bit of a rant, didn't I- and "Go OM" is all I have to say about that)

The effect of metering bandwidth will be the same as long distance dial-up numbers were back in the days of dial-up networking only. Companies quickly learned that end users were not going to pay long distance charges for the convenience of the internet. It was not until they worked to expand 800 and local numbers that people started jumping on the wire in larger numbers. Once more people were online, the technology began to be seen as a real market, innovation flourished and we got animation, flash, audio, video and real time interactivity. As soon as people start being more careful about where they go and what they download, new projects on the internet will be more carefully considered and maybe even abandoned before they are started. If you had told me back in 1995 that I would be sitting here blogging with TitanAE streaming to my browser in a pop-out window, I would have laughed at you. It is significant that Hulu required a critical mass of people with high speed bandwidth to be able to float the business model. What new and currently unimaginable technologies will never see the light of day because of the competition for bandwidth?

Although the war for your money and attention may be in the entertainment market, it will have impact in other places. What will these bandwidth caps mean for the new MS Online service offering ( how many excel files do I have to read and stream over the internet to pop my cap?), for Google's push into the enterprise market space, for the newly proposed and marketed "cloud computing" models ( then again, maybe that is a benefit...). Just as businesses and schools start to explore the use of High Performance Computing and "over the wire" CAD and animation tools, Comcast and others are looking to limit the amount of data they can push.

Thinking of online storage services as a business model ( either as a provider or a consumer)? Once your bandwidth gets capped, this will be one of the first services to come crashing down. I have 5 computers I back up regularly. Their weekly backups range from 30-80 gig each. If I were doing this into the cloud, I would be over my cap before two weeks finished.

The list of potential side deaths and inhibitions gets longer every time I think about it, what other businesses or technologies do you see heading for the dead pool when cable broadband users are all capped?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Neil On the Moth

I have long been a fan of The Moth Podcast. I love the true life tales and confessions from people both known and unknown to me and the hilarious insights into human nature.
Life has, however, recently been a bit busy, and I had about a month's worth of podcasts to catch up on. I had some time to listen while canning this weekend and did a bit of a catchup session. You can almost imagine my fangirl squee when I discovered that one of the podcasts from earlier this month was Neil Gaimon telling a story about getting left in a train station when he was about 16. Not only is this a story fitting of the typical hilarity levels of a Moth story, it explains why he seems so unflappably cool through all sorts of situations....
If you love Neil, this is a must listen. If you have never checked out the Moth podcast and enjoy modern story telling, this is a good place to start.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Amazon Rocks it

I continue to be enamored with the amazon MP3 store. The music is all DRM free, their downloader automatically loads it into iTunes for me ( which I shouldn't love, but honestly? I do), and the prices are generally lower than the iTunes store. This morning I was poking around and found the kicker that makes me completely infatuated. They have over the top offerings of free music. You have to poke around a little to find, it.. but not too much. Every music service out there offers free music ( heck, on AmieStreet it all starts for free). But right now, Amazon has over 3,000 free songs. That is not a decimal shifted typo-- 3,000!!. And it is not all new breaking bands that are badly produced. I just spent 10 minutes out there and downloaded 150 songs. I got Lena Horne, Benny Goodman, and Billie Holiday. There is even Ted Nugent, Hermans Hermits, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, and the Bee Gees (ok, admit it, you would not BUY the BeeGees, but you would listen to it if you could get it for free.. you know you would)
I have not even started to wade through all 3,000+ songs currently available, so go and muddle through and leave a comment with a gem that you found, so I can download it too.

Friday, August 22, 2008


I picked tomatoes over lunch on TwitPic

It is the time of year when the harvest of vegies makes you feel like you could eat forever and still have food. It has been weeks since I have been to the grocery, but it is only today when I finally feel like I need to go pick up some bread and milk and odds and ends.

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

As I write this, the roma tomatoes are on the stove, simmering into a mess that will become tomatoe/spaghetti sauce and the rest of the tomatoes await canning tomorrow. Some will get canned plain, but some will become cilantro tomatoes for a summer delight later when the snow is piled high.

Tomorrow will be a busy day, there is swiss chard and kale to pick and freeze, pickles to be made and late summer seeds to be sown... now all we need is just a bit of rain...

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Sister Blog time

Because the Gencon KickassKickoff party is getting so close, I am spending the majority of my time working on that blog. Expect postings over here to be few and far between until After Aug 18-- but please go check out the action over at the KAKO site!!