June 11, 2008

Is this the end of our internet?

Filed under: law, News, politics — Tags: , , , , , — skeptisys @ 12:35 pm

media ownership corporate

Time Warner Cable has announced that, as an ISP, it has begun charging for total bandwidth used, starting in Beaumont, Texas.  This is an effort to destroy competing video and audio companies like Netflix, Itunes, and youtube.  Time Warner cable sells tv, movie, and radio stations through their digital cable service and have found competing internet companies able to provide cheaper and more extensive services than Time Warner.  Instead of reducing their prices to compete, they found a way to use their monopoly to charge a surcharge on higher bandwidth internet services, Time Warner has found a creative way to use their area monopoly to increase the price of their competitors.  This latest act may stop new innovative technologies from being developed.

People are encouraged to contact their government representatives, and representative hopefuls like Obama, to help end this latest action of illegal and unfair trade practices.

By using their influence on government officials, companies like Time Warner and Verizon have already caused American internet access quality and quantity to become very poor, as measured by speed and cost compared to the rest of the world.  In the past, Time Warner has used their influence to avoid paying taxes at all, on their billions of dollars in income.

Even though internet access in America is already relatively expensive, ISPs are beginning this new vile attack on their users to drain even more money, in addition to crushing any competition.  Time Warner has introduced an additional cost for content, in addition to speed. If this is successful, you will pay for content either by type or by size.

This decision will affect almost all internet users in a negative way.  I will not be able to list all ways here, but want to touch upon as many as I can.

1.  Argument of ‘bandwidth shortage’ is false.  Time Warner argues that we are running out of bandwidth because some people are using too much.  However, when too many large files are transferred at once, the transfers are placed in a queue, slowing down the connection.  The speed returns during off peak times.  If we were currently at or near the peak usage (as argued), we would see remarkably slow connection.  We aren’t close to that period yet, and if and when we do – Americans have already paid mightily in taxes that went to ISPs for ‘innovation’.

2. The bandwidth limit is unreasonably low. Time Warner lists between 5GB and 40 GB as the maximum total allowable monthly internet transfer before a $1 per GB additional charge is levied.  At the current purchased rate, that total can be reached within only a few hours.  At 20mb/s, the 40 GB limit will be reached in less than 4 hours (limit also includes upload).  These limits do not match what the companies have been advertising and selling to us for years.  Time Warner admits only 5% even come close to using the bandwidth they paid for.  When I checked my internet connection, I was surprised how much bandwidth my software updates, email, and other ‘idle time’ automatic activities were taking up.

3. Users can’t control the limit of bandwidth used. Much of the email received is unsolicited containing unpredictable file sizes.  The content of websites (flash, streaming audio and video) can’t always be controlled by the user.  Spyware and adware takes up bandwidth and has been used by the American government, including by ISPs – that can neither be controlled nor detected by the average user.  Software now tends to have automatic downloads and update checks.  These also take up bandwidth.

4. Main uses of the internet will become too expensive. Here are some types of internet services that will need to be avoided by the user, unless they want to go over their limit: Youtube, Netflix, and all streaming video.  Sites with pictures or digital images, or unknown content.  Email is unpredictable (people always send photos of family members and friends) – I’ll wait until next month to check email.  Ecards and cute cat photos will be risky.  Movie trailers – no more.  Software updates?  Um, no thanks – mail me a new CD.

5. Computers will be more insecure. “I will not spend my money downloading necessary OS or antivirus updates.  Maybe next month when the kids are at camp.”

6. People will hesitate to start or test new technology. Youtube or Skype would never have started if this limitation was in place.  Neither would peer to peer.  Streaming games would never have made their mark.  Many new technologies rely on high bandwidth to start, and this will prevent them from taking hold.

7. Artists and nonprofits or small companies threatened: People who create their own pictures, photos, movies, or music rely on high bandwidth transfering technology like email, peer to peer, or streaming sites like youtube.  Nonprofit websites designed for discussions of art or politics can be destroyed by this action.  I would not be surprised if the RIAA and MPAA were supporting this decision.

8. Free speech will be curtailed.  The internet allows for people to express themselves freely.  If companies are unable to distribute free blogs, these voices will be stifled.  Mass communication helps people find out the problems around the world that need attention, like earthquake victims, out of control police, or if Time Warner is trying to destroy your rights.

9. Future of few affording new technologies.  Technology has and will continue to increase file sizes and bandwidth needed as more realistic images and video becomes available.

10. Science and other intellectual/medical content compromised. Real time information is vital for medical and scientific information, but the transfer of ECG images and other test results take up tremendous bandwidth, as do the various databases.  Contractors in this area will be hit very hard, resulting in a downturn of the medical and scientific industry.

11. No working from home.  Working from home saves expensive gas, and saves the company resources.  This will make it more expensive to work from home, and transfer files back and forth, or use some virtual desktop application.  People may not be able to join long net meetings from home.

Graph at top from Democratic Underground:  Also from their site:

“Time Warner is the largest media conglomerate in the world, with holdings including: CNN, the CW (a joint venture with CBS), HBO, Cinemax, Cartoon Network, TBS, TNT, America Online, MapQuest, Moviefone, Netscape, Warner Bros. Pictures, Castle Rock, and New Line Cinema, over 150 magazines such as Time, Cooking Light, Marie Claire and People.

Time Warner services 17.9% of all cable subscribers, gaining 3.5 million subscribers from its joint acquisition of Adelphia with Comcast. Time Warner now has 14.4 million cable customers (plus 1.5 million held in partnership with Comcast).”

April 23, 2008

New York Knicks have opportunity to fill their need for a new head basketball coach, and restore image

Filed under: News, Sports — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — skeptisys @ 10:20 am

Knicks team Phil Jackson Clyde Glide Frazier

The New York Knicks finally removed Isiah Thomas as their head coach and President after 4.5 years of dreadfully embarrassing performance.  They now have an excellent opportunity to recover the good image they once owned, and that opportunity is to hire a woman head basketball coach, like Tennessee’s Pat Summitt, to coach their team.

Knicks fan first amendment constitution ejected fire isiah sign

For those of us that recall the prestige of the Knicks from the 1970’s, Isiah’s reign was the most destructive.  It is no accident that intellectual artists like Woody Allen and Spike Lee are Knickerbocker fans, as the old image encompassed dignity, intellectualism, togetherness, and spiritualism.  The Knicks of that time won with high level intellectual discussions from the likes of Bill Bradley and Phil Jackson about politics, philosophy, and deep books.  Walt ‘Clyde’ Frazier had an air of smooth yet flashy dignity in the way he dressed and spoke.  The team’s coach, Red Holzman, was a quiet dignified man, who rode the train home after games, and drank a glass of tea with his wife before he went to bed.  Those Knicks teams won because they played together selflessly, for the good of the team, without losing their love of each other and individualism.

Those days are gone, and the Isiah reign gave the Knicks an image of shame, sexism, and racism.  Not only did Isiah’s teams lose, but they also sacrificed the future to do so – by adding large long-term contracts.  Isiah was sued and found guilty of sexual discrimination, in a trial that revealed apparent rampant sexist corruption in MSG.   Isiah, in deposition, claimed that it is less offensive when a Black man calls a woman a ‘bitch’.

Stephon Marbury sex scandel limo Knicks

The Knicks fans, obviously bitter about the state of the team, demanded Isiah be removed from his position.  Instead, Isiah was given a new long term contract and the fans were attacked by Knicks representatives.  Fans were abused by the team for posting signs of ‘Fire Isiah’.  Right now, the Knicks have a horrible image that they need to address with more than just an attempt to improve the team’s won/loss record. It will take tremendous effort to bring back their image, but I think it can be done.

The best and only way for the Knicks to retrieve their image would be to hire a top female head coach, like Pat Summitt from Tennessee.  Here are the benefits to such a move:

  1. The Knicks will go from appearing as the most sexist team, to the team working hardest and most honestly for woman’s rights
  2. All women, and men like me, who are intolerant of sexism will be able to root for the Knicks.
  3. Woman will finally be able to get their reasonable chance to move into the NBA
  4. Even the most sexist Knicks fans will stay Knicks fans, if they were stubborn enough to remain through Isiah’s reign.
  5. If the players do not want to play for a woman (not an issue IMO), these current ones are expendable.
  6. David Stern claims to want to expand the NBA market.  Let’s see how serious he is.
  7. The NBA and MSG’s market and profit will increase tremendously.  This decision will make money and dollars, to put it in crude business terms.
  8. No doubt the press of hiring the first female basketball coach will make people forget Isiah’s horrible actions very quickly.
  9. There is absolutely NO reason why a female cannot coach as well as a man.  If one of the best female coaches is chosen, the Knicks could have a real find.
  10. Pat Summitt and any other top level female coach would presumably jump at the chance to help their sport and gender in such a way

I see no downside to such an action for the Knicks or the NBA.  If the Knicks do not move in this direction, but instead hire someone like Mark Jackson or some old coach, they are not serious about winning back the fans – and they deserve to continue to be boo’d, boycotted and criticized.  In fact, it would underscore their blatant sexist behavior.

Jim Dolan and Donnie Walsh – do the right thing for your company, shareholders, the people, and for the fans, hire Pat Summitt to be your next head coach.  It is the only way.

Pat Summitt women head coach University of Tennessee

Walt clyde glide frazier style

Update: The Knicks GM Donnie Walsh was asked about Pat Summitt as new head coach, if she contacted him: “would she stand a realistic chance of actually getting the job?

“No,” he said without elaborating”

Edited to correct spelling of Red Holzman.  Also note: Although there are references to Walt Frazier’s nickname ‘Clyde the Glide’, he was commonly referred to as simply ‘Clyde’ during his playing career.  Text has been updated to reflect the more commonly used nickname.  (thanks to anonymous reader who pointed these out in a different forum)

March 4, 2008

Verizon not concerned with Identity Theft

Filed under: Consume, News — Tags: , , , , , , — skeptisys @ 10:47 am


Identity theft has affected tens of millions of people and cost many billions of dollars, according to many sources including the U.S. Dept of Justine.  Verizon’s new Acceptable Use Policy (that takes effect today) creates concern for those seeking to protect themselves and their private personal information, such as social security numbers, bank information, and passwords, from such identity thefts.

Verizon, who has admitted to breaking federal law in order to illegally share citizens’ personal private data, has a new policy that states that they have the right to share your online information with any 3rd party.  The policy makes no mention of any attempt to keep your delicate information private.  Users expect their ISP to keep all their internet activities private, and to permanently delete them ASAP to further guarantee security.

Verizon attempts to force users to not hide their real information, thereby further opening people to identity theft.  The policy states that “you may NOT… use a false name while using the Service”.  (Verizon’s use of all caps for ‘not’)

Billions of dollars have been lost to identity theft.  Verizon appears not to take your information or money seriously, and is willing to potentially open themselves to very large liability as a result.

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