* Posts by Alchemi

8 publicly visible posts • joined 23 Apr 2013

FCC proudly wastes $90m getting data-capped, pricey satellite internet to tiny percentage of US population


To add a few notes here.

I'm a Viasat customer. When I moved to where I am now, I knew my options would be limited to terrestrial radio, satellite and maybe dialup. (ATT later argued that they don't provide landlines in my area despite the fact that I have three of their active demarcs on my property). Oh yeah, mobile broadband doesn't work because my cell signal is wretched.

Long story short, terrestrial radio doesn't work for me without something like a 75' mast, so I have Viasat. You rent their equipment. If their equipment fails, you're responsible for the cost of repairs, even if it's not your fault. After three months the promo price wears off and the cost increased by 50%/month. I'll see 60 Mbps at night and early mornings and a reported 4-6 Mbps upload speeds (no phone line for uplink). My latency has improved from > 600 ms to just under 600 ms in the last few months. I have a 60 GB soft cap and sometimes after my teenage son hits it my speeds are as low as 200k down (but still 3-5 Mbps up).

I don't have it because I want it. I have it because I need it. An IT guy without Internet?

All that said, there's fiber running on the poles just over 2000' feet north from my house. I'm pretty sure the neighborhood about 1.5 miles to my east has fiber to the node. There's a cell tower (which surely has a backbone) about one mile to my west and I have utility poles running along the backside of my property to the intersecting road with the fiber.

And I still have lousy cell and Satellite.

BOFH: The company survived the disaster recovery test. Just. The Director's car, however...


I had a counterpart at smaller community bank in the early 2000s tell me that a Sr VP came down to the datacenter on a Friday, mid-morning to test the "DR" capabilities as he understood them, without consulting any technical person. He flipped the master breaker for the datacenter and most systems went down immediately with the rest failing after a few minutes, them not having facility UPS. That was the last cycle that breaker could manager and they couldn't get it switched back on. It took about two hours for the electrician to get there and get that sorted back out, just enough time to be down for a lunch rush on a Friday. Good times were had by none.

Tinfoil-hat search engine DuckDuckGo gifts more options, dark theme and other toys for the 0.43%


Re: I'm not surprised

You say that, but it doesn't even have to be Google - remember some the (potential) issues with custom keyboards. But yeah, I still believe they're the nicest overlord we'll ever have. But the keyboard issue, malicious or 'simple' telemetry of reporting back all keystrokes, really isn't fair to say only happens on Androids.

I use DDG as my primary browser but I do use the !g quite often. I apparently run into obscure issues often enough that only google (or Bing) has crawled it.

Like a grotty data addict desperately jonesing for its next fix, Google just can't stop misbehaving


Multiple trains at large

The problem we see here, and for that matter, in a large number of other issues here in the US, is that the perceptions are different.

The fact is that Google is providing a service at no direct cost but is making money from your use of the service. Kind of like a free-to-trade broker, right?

The problem is that they know or want to know everything about you. They know where you sleep, where you work, who you talk to, what you search for, where you shop IRL. They once said that they wanted to be so ingrained that if you were out of milk and you were passing by a grocery store, they would remind you to get milk. I forget, did they get patient records in the UK? So maybe they know about your cancer and herpes too.

At one level, that's kinda cool. I mean, there's your personal secretary that can help schedule your *entire* life. For free. But they don't actually work for you. And we're not real sure what they're telling others. And if that treasure trove of data were ever breached, how do you think that'd go?

My grandmother and I were talking once about the government and surveillance after 9/11 and one of her responses was the typical 'if you don't have anything to hide, why would you worry'? In today's world, is there a truly private place you can go? Think about that. (Again, cool at one level but...) The problem is that there's no clear chain of custody once the data you generate goes to the cloud (most clouds really, not just Google), at a personal level. Anything you do from now to forever is out there and could bite you in the ass.

I still content that Google is the nicest overlord we'll ever have. (Full disclosure - I finally personally own an Android as about 2 months ago. Some of the things that have happened since then weird me out and I look forward to getting my replacement non-google phone)

Want an ethical smartphone? Fairphone 3 is on the way – but tiny market share suggests few care



Another potentially serious endeavor is Purism's Librem 5 (pre-prod, due out allegedly this quarter). I was really excited about Sailfish when it emerged having had a Nokia N9 (still my favorite phone) but was disappointed with how things panned out for the US side.

I do understand that it's a tough market though but it always amazed me how many people threw around the number of apps in whatever app store. Most are wrappers for a website. I don't want or need extra stuff whose only real purpose is extra telemetry.

It's all in the wrist: Your fitness tracker could be as much about data warfare as your welfare


I once worked for a big government contractor. Part of the health insurance was that if you tracked your steps and hit some goals, they would throw some money in a fund that would pay deductibles and such. I wore a little pedometer. At the end of the day I entered my steps by looking at the device then using the keyboard. Cool.

Have we already forgotten the following articles?



Is it necessary to have a third party track this information? Why can't we just have a pedometer and plug in the calculations ourselves?

Nest's bricking of Revolv serves as wake-up call to industry


This is why I don't trust third parties to process my data. Why does your fitbit need to send data up to be processed? Why do you need a third party to manage the cameras you have in your home and broadcast them back to you? Why does your thermostat need to talk to someone else to set the temp in your house. Why does facebook need your head motions?

I mean, I ask this knowing the answers. It's easy for the end user. The are hurdles that a vast majority of people aren't competent enough to handle setting up the technical side. But I'll pass on allowing more than background intrusions into my house. I still stand by the opinion that Google is the nicest overlord we'll ever know.

US Air Force beats off competition in NSA hacking fight


Civil Air Patrol Cadets

Since it's not mentioned, this is a picture of two Civil Air Patrol cadets, one a Sargent and the other a Lt. The CAP operates as an auxiliary to the US Air Force, usually working Search and Rescue and a number of other missions. Years ago when I was in, the technology was related to operation of radio equipment (direction finders, comms equipment).

No clue on the glove...