Category Archives: internet

The upside to Google Books

Knowledge sharing is a foundation to a strong society and economy. For that reason, I think it is very impressive and wonderful that libraries and companies have teamed up to share books digitally.* For example, while researching the philosophical underpinnings of public trust in our democracy, I stumbled across Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, Volume 2, hosted by Google Books. His Democracy in America series is a classic work and important for its early study of American democracy and society.

The book is also available in ebook format and other digital formats at a number of different web sites.

All digital formats have their pluses and minuses. Including book scans is wonderful because it is generally more readable than plain text formatting and does not require a specialized machine that costs $100 or more. Of course, I prefer paper to digital books but the downside to paper is the inability to quickly and easily search. 🙂

* Note, I am talking specifically about books in the public domain, and to some extent orphaned works. Despite the obvious flaws to our copyright system, copyrights are valuable to society to encourage and reward creativity.

Text messaging charges are all a sham!

Do you pay for text messages? If so, you are being scammed.

via Digital Domain – What Carriers Arenâ??t Eager to Tell You About Texting –

Perhaps the costs for the wireless portion at either end are high â?? spectrum is finite, after all, and carriers pay dearly for the rights to use it. But text messages are not just tiny; they are also free riders, tucked into whatâ??s called a control channel, space reserved for operation of the wireless network.

Thatâ??s why a message is so limited in length: it must not exceed the length of the message used for internal communication between tower and handset to set up a call. The channel uses space whether or not a text message is inserted.

Professor Keshav said that once a carrier invests in the centralized storage equipment â?? storing a terabyte now costs only $100 and is dropping â?? and the staff to maintain it, its costs are basically covered. â??Operating costs are relatively insensitive to volume,â? he said. â??It doesnâ??t cost the carrier much more to transmit a hundred million messages than a million.â?

Configuring Modem and Router for AT&T DSL

I found out tonight that my DSL problems are related to the default configurations for my DSL modem and router, which are not set properly for use with the AT&T DSL network.

Not once did AT&T tech support, in all of the calls I had with them during the past week, tell me that there are settings specific to the AT&T network that need to be set on both the modem and router. Its customer service representatives, both Tier 1 and Tier 2, knew: 1) I had a new DSL modem (because my old one crapped out last week); 2) the brand and model of the DSL modem (D-Link DSL-2320B); and 3) that I was able to get to some web sites but most others timed out (Google worked fine but Yahoo! didn’t).

In addition, traceroutes all made it look like the AT&T network was the culprit, but it wasn’t (at least not directly). What’s more, VPN to my work network cleared up any of my issues which made it look even more likely my problems were related to some bad switch or router in the central office or some regional switching facilities.

Here are configurations for the AT&T DSL network, based on the old SBC network. I’m not sure if the old Ameritech, SNET, or BellSouth network configurations are the same.

DSL Modem:

VPI: 0

VCI: 35

Protocol: PPPoE (PPP over Ethernet)

Note: If you have a D-Link DSL-2320B DSL modem, uncheck the “DSL auto-connect” box and click the next button to configure manually.


MTU: manual

[MTU] size: 1492

To think, it would have cost AT&T much less money to educate its reps that connection problems reported by customers who are using new modems (or routers) could have something to do with incorrect default settings and to provide those settings. What’s more, AT&T does not even list the configuration settings for DSL modems in its help site specifically created to tell customers how to set up a DSL modem.

I hope this helps at least one other person and that you do not go grey or lose all your hair attempting to get helpful information from AT&T. If only AT&T had real competition. This only strengthens my support for a layered regulatory framework for communications services, to replace a silo regulatory framework.

Why customers do not like AT&T

1) I got this screen while seeking help from AT&T this evening for a poor DSL experience.


The telephone number this screen says I can call “24 hours a day, 7 days a week for further assistance” operates close to regular business hours.

2) I cannot use AT&T’s self-help systems because its systems do not recognize my account number. I have naked DSL and the systems aren’t built for account numbers that are not legit telephone numbers. It has been this way since I got the service. Otherwise I might have been able to check if there are local outages.

3) My DSL service has been going up and down. When up, I can only see certain web sites (Google, CNN, Westlaw, Santa Clara University, Stanford, Univ. of Michigan, AT&T, my blog) I cannot see Yahoo! or other Yahoo! web sites, MSNBC, LA Times, and most other news web sites. It is not my computer because I can use Google WiFi to reach all of those web sites with no issue. Sadly, free Google WiFi is more dependable than the AT&T DSL service I pay for.

4) When I finally reached someone, via an instant message client, I was sent a link that I’m glad I couldn’t see at the time: I can get to but not

The rep ultimately told me to move my DSL modem away from anything that might cause interference and if that does not work to call the AT&T line repair team.

“The following are a few of the possible causes of Electromagnetic Interference on a DSL line: Halogen desk lamps near the DSL modem or telephone line, especially those with dimmers Any electrical dimmer switch Electronic devices, such as stereo speakers, PC speakers, televisions, monitors, microwave ovens, etc. Routing the telephone line parallel to an AC power cord for more than a few inches Electronic insect electrocution devices (bug zappers) Low quality 900MHz cordless telephones Any other emitter of high frequency electromagnetic radiation Placement of DSL equipment directly on a carpeted surface.”

I do not think that’s my problem. Still can’t get to certain web sites.

Dislike is probably an understatement.

Update: I pulled out my work computer and connected to its network through VPN. My work computer has none of the problems I’m having with my personal computers. They are sitting side-by-side, connected to the Internet through the same router. My work computer loads pages with blazing fast speed including all of those that I cannot access at all with my home computer. I’m afraid the lines might melt with that kind of speed. My work computer is brought down to earth when I disconnect it from VPN.  🙁

Update #2: Turns out my new dsl modem is configured improperly, but AT&T’s Customer Service reps and help site were mum on the subject of configuring it. Read more about it on Configuring a Modem and Router for AT&T DSL.


I took a few minutes here and there over the past week to do some house keeping on this blog.

1) Open ID: This blog now uses Open ID. Since most people have Yahoo! Accounts (Y! Mail, Flickr, Y! Groups, etc.) I set the default to

Open ID is an open standard that lets you use one account to log in across the web. Many web sites are starting to use it and the big guns (Y!, G, MS) have put their weight behind it.

If you choose to use Open ID through your Y! account, then the most important thing for you to do is to set your security image. That way you know you are on the Y! site when you give your password. Make sure it is something unique to you. I use my wife’s beautiful face on one computer and a very cool and unique photo of a flower on another.

Login with your Open ID today. (creates an account on my site)

2) Comments: I didn’t realize you needed an account to leave comments. I have since opened up comments to anyone. All you need to do is give your nickname (such as ‘db’) and an email address. Only your nickname is publicly available. Your email is confidential and available to only the admins for this blog (me and my wife).


3) Random Stuff: I also made some other random updates to the interface and how the page looks, now use tags, and include My Blog Log.

the man in the ten gallon hat

My wife sums up events surrounding my company this way: If you were a small time farmer having a tough time making a living in the 1930’s on a hot Texas prairie and a man in a ten gallon hat offers a big bag of cash for your land that seems too good to be true, close the door on him. You know there’s oil under those dusty fields.

As Y! shareholders, we donâ??t think the board should accept Microsoft’s offer. The deal undervalues the company. Yang and Decker took over mid-2007 and you cannot expect them to make an immediate, direct impact so soon. Hollywood is gone; Silicon Valley is back. Think of Yahoo! as an aircraft carrier trying to make a turn; it will do so slowly. More importantly, the fundamentals are strong, the company is profitable, and most recently met its numbers, even if overshadowed by the company down the road (which missed its numbers last quarter). Tech companies can and do make comebacks. Apple is a prime example. They were not cool until Steve Jobs returned and they started innovating again.

In addition, we do not want Microsoft shares if it is making such a power play for a company that will not fit well within its company. Consider the difference in philosophy regarding open source software.

Note: Before you get out of control, this is only a comment on behalf of our family, not for my employer – I don’t have enough information to ever comment on its behalf. I really do know nothing.

Video: What a downsized office does in France

AOL decided to downsize and close its office in France. The recently downsized staff made this video as an au revoir and thank you for AOL’s years long commitment to its staff. 😉 I’ve heard, but not confirmed, that the staff received a year’s severance which is required by French law.

Update: The lyrics of the song are a mix of French and English. You can get the original lyrics, as well as an English translation.

It is amazing they were able to take it in one long sequence. That shows they probably put some work into preparing for the video. They don’t dress or look all that differently from the Silicon Valley crowd.

It was only a matter of time

It was only a matter of time before the credit crunch and mortgage foreclosure mania became fodder for spammers and joined the likes of Ci@lis, V!@gra, and Peni$ enlargements in the inbox of wary readers. I received this email this evening:

—– Original Message —-
From: John Cummuta <John_Cummuta@****.com>
To: ****
Sent: Wednesday, January 23, 2008 3:16:55 PM
Subject: A unique way out of debt

Your Debts Could Make You Rich!

Your debts disappear (even your house is paid off) in 5-7 years, and you retire debt-free… using nothing more than the money you’re currently earning plus one of today’s best-kept secrets: Does my story sound too familiar?I should’ve seen it, because each day I dressed myself in clothes paid for by credit cards, walked on financed carpet in our mortgaged house, and drove a leased car.

But even when the company I worked for went under and I found myself scrambling to keep from losing the house, cars, furniture, and our good name, I still didn’t see it. Then, a couple of days later, when I was forced to sell my gold Corvette and my wife’s Olds Regency, it hit me: I was a prisoner of debt.

As long as I owed people money, they owned me! At that moment, I made myself a promise: “I will never be this vulnerable again!” I had to find a way out of debt. And that’s exactly what I did. But in the process, I developed a unique method that transforms debt into wealth. So much wealth, that almost anyone who uses it can be a millionaire by the time he or she retires. And best of all … you can accumulate your $1 million nest egg using nothing more than the money you’re currently earning.

And it’s easy: One year after I explained my method to Jan and Jerrel Herron (both in their 50s), their credit cards and two cars were paid off. In the second year, they paid off the mortgage. Then they showed my method to their 32-year-old twin sons. One son quickly paid off his house. The other paid his off one year later.

The same happened to Ruth DeHaven of Santee, CA: “We were over $125,000 in debt. Today, just 3 years later, we are completely debt-free, including no mortgage on our house, and my husband and I have just retir ed at at age 55.”

And Dale Prull, from San Jose, CA, says, “After only 8 months all my credit cards were paid off. Ten months later my car was paid off. The value of my home is over $400,000 and will be paid off in 3 years and 4 months. Following your plan, I’ll retire 12 years later with almost $1 million.”

Over half a million people have used my method, and now it’s your turn.

Stop being a prisoner of debt today! Discover how good it feels to wake up each morning knowing you own your car, house, and everything you have, and you don’t owe a penny to anyone. No more bills in the mailbox.

My method transforms your debt into wealth – growing to $1 million – using nothing more than the money you’re currently earning. Thanks to the best-kept secret of the investment industry, you’re in control of your life: free, financially independent – enjoying peace of mind, knowing your family is safe and you’re set for life!

See how it works today.

John Cummuta

P.S. Don’t make another payment on your home, car, or credit card until you hear the truth of today’s 5 biggest rip-offs – from some of America’s largest, most-trusted names. Stop making others rich, while they keep you poor – a prisoner of debt. Break free today … and transform your debt into wealth.

This is a commercial message from ********. To stop receiving commercial messages promoting John Cummuta and **********, please visit http://www.************.com/remove/ You may also email your unsubscribe request to remove@************.com or mail your request with a copy of this original email to: *********, 2710 Thomas Ave. Suite 334, Cheyenne, WY 82001.

*********.com Compliance:
You are subscribed with the email address ******** We respect your privacy. In our effort to keep up with good business practices, we now offer two ways To unsubscribe from our email lists
If you do not wish to receive any more emails from
*********.com read below:
To Unsubscribe on the web Click Here! and follow the instructions. or write us to the address below with a written request.
Once we have received your submission, you will be removed automatically from our subscribers list.
If you feel that you have received this message in error You may contact us at at ******** or at our mailling address.
mailing address for *********.com:
*********.com Customer Care
5314 16th avenue
Suite 442
Brooklyn NY 11204

Some sap who is down on their luck will respond to this email and the avalanche will begin. This scammer is preying on desperate people. I expect the FTC will continue to do its job and look the other way.

Do you Google!?

During one of my classes this semester, the professor expounded on some of the characters from a case and suggested that a student might want to search the web to verify a factoid. One of my classmates in front of me quickly raised their hand and said “I’ll google it.” That classmate then opened up their My Yahoo! page, entered their search term, and quickly came back with the answer.

Stories like this probably scare the hell out of Google‘s attorneys. Enough so that they posted to the Google Blog back in October asking people not to use Google as a verb. It is also a good reason why Wall Street shouldn’t throw the towel in for Yahoo! just yet.

BTW: That isn’t the first time or the first person I’ve seen say they googled something while using Y! Search.

New trend: parents more active in regulating children’s media consumption |

The Christian Science Monitor reported on a Census Bureau report issued on Wednesday. It appears parents are more active in regulating their children’s media consumption.

US kids get new trend: more active parents |

Among other things, parents are reading more to their children and placing more restrictions on their television viewing than they did 10 years earlier. Nine percent more children are taking classes outside school, and 5 percent fewer 12- to 17-year-olds had to repeat a grade.”It appears parents are more involved with their kids than they were 10 years ago,” says Jane Dye, a family demographer with the US Census Bureau who helped compile the data, which was based on the 2004 Survey of Income and Program Participation.

The news may seem startling to those accustomed to headlines about kids glued to the TV, but experts say the Census data confirm a trend of more protective, involved parenting that has been going on for some time.

If so, I’m glad to see this happening. When I (eventually) have children, I intend to keep them away from the TV and computer as much as possible. That includes video games. On the menu are grass, legos, coloring books, and worms (think, fishing;). I know, I know, it is hard to make this commitment so far out in the future when I haven’t had to deal with a child, dinner, and homework all at the same time. But I mean it. It will be difficult, but I think my wife and I can work things out with a little team work.

Google WiFi v. AT&T Pro DSL

I’ve been testing out Google WiFi over the past few months. I even invested in a WiFi modem to pull the signal into my humble abode. Google WiFi is surprisingly comparable to the speeds AT&T Pro DSL gives. If only it were more reliable (but that’s another issue for another day).

DSL Reports: Google WiFi

DSL Reports: AT&T

And yes, I canceled my AT&T subscription. No more phone line. No more DSL. No more $1.25/mo. to remain out of the phone book. No more AT&T knowing it was overcharging but doing it anyway even though it intended to refund the following month, for now at least. And if I ever get my way, the last mile will be provided by a true common carrier, independent company, or municipal utility. Now that would provide competition.  😉

Comcast to FCC: Network neutrality is DEAD

Comcast has decided to make its case against network neutrality by hindering bit torrent downloads. The problem with its policy is that the debate is far from over and this move will anger customers who are likely to have other options for broadband.

Comcast blocks some Internet traffic – Yahoo News

NEW YORK – Comcast Corp. actively interferes with attempts by some of its high-speed Internet subscribers to share files online, a move that runs counter to the tradition of treating all types of Net traffic equally.

The interference, which The Associated Press confirmed through nationwide tests, is the most drastic example yet of data discrimination by a U.S. Internet service provider. It involves company computers masquerading as those of its users.

Not to mention, Comcast’s moves are underhanded and deceitful.

Comcast’s technology kicks in, though not consistently, when one BitTorrent user attempts to share a complete file with another user.

Each PC gets a message invisible to the user that looks like it comes from the other computer, telling it to stop communicating. But neither message originated from the other computer â?? it comes from Comcast. If it were a telephone conversation, it would be like the operator breaking into the conversation, telling each talker in the voice of the other: “Sorry, I have to hang up. Good bye.”

By spoofing (pretending to be another computer), Comcast is undermining the credibility of its network. Its behavior resembles that of a Chinese ISP, doing its part to maintain the Great Firewall of China, rather than an American ISP (or am I giving Comcast too much credit?). Comcast is also strengthening arguments for the FCC to label it a common carrier so it doesn’t interfere with the network traffic of its customers. Ultimately, the FCC needs to step up and slap Comcast for its spoofing, which is absolutely not in the public interest.

If Comcast wishes to limit the amount of bandwidth used by its customers, it should cap download speed and total bandwidth available for X time period. It then needs to appropriately set expectations by communicating such limits with customers and providing tools for customers to monitor their usage. The last thing it should be doing is filtering or interfering with traffic based on application type, destination, recipient, etc.

A note about Bit Torrent. It is a file sharing tool that, although used for illicit purposes, does have legitimate uses. For example, Silkroad Online, a free massively-multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), is distributed using BitTorrent. To get the game, you download a 865 MB file. Normally, you would download the game from a single server. That server would be limited by the number of simultaneous connections it has available. For sake of argument, let’s say it has 100 available connections. If 200 people try to download the same file, the first 100 will take all those connection slots. The other 100 users attempting to connect will get an error message to that effect. Each person will need to wait for a slot to free up before they can download the game. Because it takes a long time (one or two hours) for each person to completely download such a large file, those second 100 people will be waiting for quite a long time before they can begin their downloads. Making the game available as a BitTorrent distributes the game more efficiently and limits those error messages game users receive. Instead of setting up several servers to handle traffic for those few people, the company can set up a few seed computers and distribute its game to many more (theoretically, at least).