Traffic Shaping

March 29, 2008

While reading through some articles this week I came across an interesting one involving Rogers’High Speed Internet customers, this week they have begun receiving letters notifying them that Rogers will be implementing new bandwidth caps and fees for all internet subscribers.

Basically this a is a form of traffic shaping. Well, what is traffic shaping? Traffic shaping, in simple terms, is a technique used by some internet service providers (ISP’s) to control the flow of information “traffic” through their networks. Rogers along with Sympatico(Bell) has installed bandwidth shaping technology in order to slow down the flood of traffic of its users, especially those that use filesharing programs like Bittorrent. Some analysts say that P2Pcustomers only take up about 10% of all users but they use up about 90% of the bandwidth, which is a considerable amount of bandwidth. This type of practice has been going on for several years now and is used to make the network more efficient, sort of like a traffic cop. These ISP’s  claim that they use this in order to maintain a consistent flow of information through its networks to maintain a high quality service for its customers.

While researching this topic, I read an article by a Globe and Mail journalist, Jack Kapica, see his article here. He has some very interesting thoughts on Rogers attempt to throttle and restrict the bandwidth use of its customers stating that “Rogers strategy is very short-sighted”.

This type of stratgey was attempted in the US by Comcast but US regulators the FCC, is currently investigating Comcasts’ practice of throttling upstream P2P traffic.  Apparently they have a limit to the amount of “unlimited” bandwidth. But they don’t disclose what the limit is. Here’s a video of one of the disgruntled customers with Comcast.

 The investigation is being carried out by an NY Attorney General who also investigated Verizon Wireless and found them guilty of  selling 5GB capped EVDO service as “unlimited.”Although traffic shaping can be used constructively, it can also be used in a more nefarious way. For example, in 2005, one Telephone company in the United States actually stopped all Vonage phone calls over its network by using a very blunt form of traffic shaping called Port blocking.

Debates rage over the ethics of traffic shaping, however, analysts universally agree that port blocking by Internet Service providers should be not be allowed.  When properly implemented, traffic shaping can make a network more efficient by acting as a bit of a traffic cop. The idea is to reserve bandwidth for critical applications such as internet browsers and email while restricting the usage of other more bandwidth intensive applications such a peer to peer file sharing applications.The result is a more equitable use of network resources that maintains the “quality of service” for the majority of users.
 It will be interesting to see if there is any backlash with Rogers new fee structure for their internet subscribers.

Tony

Every year countless Canadians fall victim to identity theft crimes, the number of victims may be somewhat small but the impact that it has on the individuals can be staggering. Not just the financial impact but the emotional impact it has as well.

The question that maybe on most of our minds is , what is identity theft? According to the RCMP, “Identity theft involves stealing, misrepresenting or hijacking the identity of another person or business and provides an effective means to commit other crimes.” The recent statistics from Phonebusters for 2006 are very disturbing.

2006

PROVINCES

VICTIMS

$ LOSS

ON

3353

$7,584,188.86

PQ

2040

$4,674,504.44

BC

1190

$2,035,365.27

AB

612

$1,439,474.29

MB

249

$151,860.16

SK

94

$61,192.28

NS

106

$155,039.49

NB

67

$92,396.07

NF

29

$30,107.04

UNKNOWN

12

$3,102.62

PE

11

$17,059.00

NT

7

$3,102.62

YK

7

$2,379.23

NU

1

$0

TOTALS

7778

$16,283,776.91

Identity theft is the crime of choice in today’s age or more importantly the information age. What are they stealing?

Identity thieves commit fraud and other crimes by assuming someone else’s identity. Personal information such as your name, date of birth, address, credit card, social insurance number and other identification can be used to steal money from your existing accounts, open other financial accounts, make purchases, or even obtain employment.

Here’s a very interesting video from CBC’S, The National.

http://www.cbc.ca/mrl3/23745/thenational/archive/identitytheft-011508.wmv</

But how do they get this private information? Here are some of the ways they obtain your personal information;
1. Dumpster Diving
2. Shoulder Surfing
3. Skimming
4. Phishing

In today’s society where information is giving very freely  to someone who asks you via phone, internet or whenever you purchase something in a store, they ask for some sort of personal information, regarding address, phone number, etc.

Here are some things that can be done to help revent identity theft;

  • Guard Your Personal Information
  • Don’t Leave Personal Information
  • Shred Personal Information
  • Keep Your Sin to Yourself
  • Protect Your Credit Card
  • Take All Receipts
  • Be Aware of Billing Cycles or Missing Mail
  • Cover Keypad Entry When Entering Pin Numbers
  • Use Difficult Passwords
  • Avoid Writing Down Passwords and PINS
  • Hang up and Telephone Solicitors
  • Check Your Credit Report

 Taking these precautions  will make it harder for criminals to steal your identity and prevent you from being a statistic.

Tony

Well, what a week for politics for our neighbour to the south, more specifically the state of New York. Just 18 months after being sworn in as the Governor of New York, the 27th largest state and the 3rd most populus in the United States, the “Eliot Ness of the 21st Century”, Eliot Spitzer has resigned has a result of his dealings with a prostitute. Under the “Mann Act” which states that it is illegal to knowingly transport women in interstate commerce for purposes of prostitution. Here is the press conference on Wednesday,

What is it with the American politicians and not being able to keep their pants on? We all know about Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky in the 90’s, there was potential Democrat presidential hopeful in 1988 Gary Hart who dropped out of the race due to his extramarital affair with model Donna Rice. I believe he told her not to “wreck my election”, she misunderstood him. The prostitiute that is the centre of this scandal is a 22 year old struggling blues singer, Ashley Alexandra Dupre,aka”Kristen”. She is a callgirl who worked out of the high priced Emperors Club VIP in New York.

The fact that Mr. Spitzer was using the services of a prostitute referred to as the oldest profession known to man, should not shock us. Society as a whole tend to hold entertainers, celebrities and athletes in very high regard and we think that the sun shines out of their you know what. We are very quick to place them on a pedestal and are shocked when they bring about their own demise. We have to learn that everyone puts their pants on one leg at a time and they are falliable like us all. The biggest difference is that they are paid exhorbitant amounts of money and are held in high regard by society. In return for this fame and fortune they give up the right to privacy and are constantly hounded by fans and media just waiting for them to fall. All of this attention, is it really needed?

Ex-Governor Eliot Spitzer now will fade into the black and live with the shame of disgracing himself, his constituents and more importantly his family. He was caught on a federal phone tap trying to arrange a meeting with “Kristen”, a $1000 a hour hooker. It is believed he has already paid for$80,000 worth of prostitutes from this call girl service. What made him different from other”johns”. The Mann Act is very seldom used, it has been used to charge celebrities like Charlie Chaplan,Chuck Berry and Charles Manson. The question that remains to be anwered is, Why do people who are held in such regard do these things? Ronald Weitzer, a professor of sociology at George Washington University states that,”They do it and have the money to do it and go to places like this because they assume, given the cost, they will get away with it.” With technology becoming more and more widely used even in the oldest profession, such things as text messaging have made streetwalking or standing on corners outdated.

Now that Mr. Spitzer’s political career has been derailed what does his career hold for him. Who knows? Isn’t it ironic that, Mr Spitzer seems to have been caught out by changes to banking regulations he helped implement that were aimed at increasing surveillance of suspicious money transfers in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Just goes to show you that no one is above the law, even those who have created the law.  Now that he has resigned this reminds me off the Hans Christan Andersen tale, ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes” and the claim that he has a new suit that makes him invisible. I bet that Eliot Spitzer wished he one of those suits right about now.

Tony

Obsolete Skills

February 20, 2008

A s I was sitting in front of my computer, anxiously awaiting the birth of our second child, who is due in less than 3 weeks. However, my wife feels that it will be at any moment. Our first daughter was born about 2.5 weeks before the due date and who am I do disbelieve my wife and that our next child will be early as well. I was reading through out required blogs and came upon Robert Scoble’s Obsolete Skills.  It got me to thinking that a lot of the things that I had done has a child and an adult, my children will never have to do or even know what they were. As I read, I realized that of the 11  he had compiled in his list, I had done 8 of them and the other 3 were being done when I was younger. Not to outdate the rest of the class I was born the year when the Amazin Mets won the World Series and the NHL only had 12 teams. I then started wracking my brain on other things that have become obsolete, here’s a list of the some that I have come up with;

1. Playing cool Atari games, like Pac-Man and Asteroids.

2. Looking up places in an atlas.

3. Using encyclopedias for reports.

4. Using a dictionary.

5. Learning multiplication tables.

6. Using mail order catalogues.

7. Banking with an actual teller.

8. Rewinding a cassette tape with the end of a pencil.

9. Using 35 mm film.

10. Using the word GOTO when programming.

After coming up with my list I went to the website Obsolete Skills and found there was a list that was compiled of obsolete technologies.

A lot of these I have never done and will never do, the question that remains is in 20 years time what things we currently do will become a part of this list. Cellphones? Fax Machines? Blogging? Who knows but I’m sure these new advances especially in technology will better our children’s lives, like they have helped to enhance our daily lives. Or have they?

Tony

Microsoft and Yahoo

February 1, 2008

I was just surfing the net and I came across an article stating that Microsoft has made an offer to buy Yahoo. It’s from Digital Home Canada. Heres’ what it says.

Microsoft today announced that it has made a proposal to Yahoo to buy the company for $44.6 billion dollars. Microsoft is offering Yahoo shareholders the equivalent of $31 a share in cash and Microsoft stock.

Yesterday at closing their stock(Yahoo) was valued at $19.18. But has a result of the announcement  Yahoo’s stock price his increased by almost 50%. Microsoft’s stock has decreased by 6%. Is this a good deal for Microsoft?  According to a writer from the Scripting News , they say,”Nahh. It’s like the dead leading the blind.” However, one of our required readers,Scoble, who coincidentally is an ex-employee of Microsoft, says this,

This gets Microsoft back into the Web game in a big way and puts a defense around Microsoft’s Office cash-generating-machine. I bet that some of Yahoo’s smartest engineers get moved over to the Office team to help build an online Office that’ll keep Google’s docs and spreadsheets from getting major marketshare inroads.

I agree with Dave Canvin’s post, this also has the potential to put some pressure on Google and may cause a “Web War”. We finally have two of the biggest heavyweights in the modern world possibly going toe-to-toe. What will happen next? Stay tuned, same Bat time, same Bat channel.

by

Tony Elliott

How much for Digital?

January 26, 2008

Another week has gone by and there is still little news, I guess its’s back to Seth’s blogspace and the talk about digital downloads. Currently there are a few businesses that provide movie downloads. Apple has just recently joined this venture along with  Netflix, Amazon’s Unbox and CinemaNow Inc. and Time Warner will also offer this service through HBO.

Although this type of service is growing rapidly ,there are some questions about the the time it requires to download the movies and how long you can view the movie. Right now it requires about one gigabyte of storage space and a fast internet connection, preferably a cable connection over DSL. Prices vary with each company but for the most part it costs about $3-$5 per movie. This price seems a little high considering they don’t have to pay for labour costs, advertising and the other costs associated with a retail store. I agree with Seth that offering them for free would not be the way to go for the industry, however offering them for a minimal charge would definately curb the desire for pirating. This was mentioned in Wattsy’s post earlier this week and I think he hit the preverbial nail on the head. Hollywood still has to make money from the movie industry. Therein lies the question is it better to charge less in hopes of attracting more customers or to charge more in hopes of making more profit? Quantity vs. Quality?

After reading through all the blogs this week, I was somewhat in a dilemma on what to respond to, There was very little in what interested me and the biggest news this week was Apple’s announcement of their new MacBook Air. But I think enough people have commented on this new innovation and although it seems like a great thing for Apple it appears that a lot of users will be dissappointed because of the lack of a ethernet port and no DVD drive in it. However, Seth’s blog on the shortage of digital coaches did somewhat catch my eye or at least 1 comment. He said, “Here are three things that are true:
1. Digital technology, especially computers and cell phones, can dramatically increase productivity.” Although this may be true, IMHO the use of computers and cell phones also can decrease productivity. Despite all these advances in technology and how fast we are able to achieve the results, we are still not able to process this information any faster or what to do it with all of this information. David Allen in his book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity says that”says CIOs should focus more on individual accountability and personal behavior, and less on technology.” I think that even though we have the ability to access information so quickly and almost everywhere, we still need to learn to unscramble all of this information and be able to make good decisions. Its still human nature for individuals at work to abuse the computer for their own personal use (Cyberslacking). This type of behaviour is costing businesses in the U.S. about $85 billion a year according to Websense Inc. in 2002. How much is this costing businesses today? Is this really more productive?

Tony Elliott