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In 1999, I was exploring this new, amazing thing: the world wide web. I wasn’t an active participant in any social areas like Slashdot nor was I a gamer. Instead, I mostly kept to myself, fascinated as I was with how this world wide web thing worked. You see, growing up, if my toys had any screws on them, I would inevitably find the appropriate tiny screwdriver and open them up. I was consistently disappointed that there was little for me to do other than replace the plastic cover I had removed.



In a discussion about today’s SOPA hearing was a quote from Darrell Issa:

I object to this bill in its current form because I believe it fails to use existing tools and does a worse job than those existing tools at solving this problem.


Immigration, Education, Bandwidth

I appreciate Thomas Friedman’s optimistic outlook after he attended the 2010 Intel Science Talent Search:

“If we can just get a few things right — immigration, education standards, bandwidth, fiscal policy — maybe we’ll be O.K.”

Polluting the Internet

So, here’s how you do it: you analyze what people are searching for online (e.g. “what’s the best lure for muskie fishing?”). Then you analyze how crowded the ad space is for that search by examining how many companies are paying for the ads to appear for the combination of these words: muskie+fishing+lure. You repeat this process many times and select the searches that are likely to be most profitable over a long period of time.


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When Information Overwhelms Facts

SquareTrade, a company that sells warranties for consumer electronics and appliances, recently published a summary of the failure rates of notebooks/netbooks (n=30,000). This study was then disseminated by large technology websites: Jeff Smykil at Ars Technica, Electronista Staff, Vladislav Savov at Engadget, and Danny Allen at Gizmodo.


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Conversational Qualifiers

I read a single sentence today which struck me as an expression of an idea that is not usually written out. First, a bit of an introduction: I frequently search out conversations online that are carried on by thoughtful, considerate people. I can tell you from experience, you will not find such comments at the following places: Engadget (or any site owned by Weblogs, Inc.), Gizmodo, any site that is part of a “blogging network”, any newspaper website (these are particularly bad), ESPN, corporate blogs, and on and on. As such, I still use these websites for information, but I consciously force myself to avoid the comments — they’ll bring nothing but strife.


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Wikipedia Statistics

Whilst doing a bit of research for a project, I took the time to look through Wikipedia Statistics — the results were staggering. Consider this: Wikipedia averages 40 thousand (40 000) requests per second. Thus, in 3 seconds, Wikipedia receives more requests than tumbledry has in the past 5 years.


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Internet Stats

Dan, of Dan’s Data (naturally), wrote a really informative article, called The Great Apathetic Revolution. It’s about this ridiculous situation: it is illegal to back-up copies of DVDs, games, etc. that you have legally purchased. Further down the article is a great set of facts describing the internet:


Monopolies Suck

A short piece in which I continually widen the scope of the issues addressed.

The fact that I have precisely one choice for high speed internet in the capital city of Minnesota irks me to no end. For someone who will return to higher education and is currently freelancing doing webdesign, high speed internet is a need, not a want. So, I must pay what Comcast asks, and I have no other choice. As I said in the title, this sucks. Could it get any worse? I’m stuck as a customer of a coercive monopoly so… of course it could get worse. Read on.


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Art & the Redeeming Web of the Internet

Originally intended to be simply a link, this little piece has evolved into an account of a typical internet browsing pattern of mine… which has somehow been incorporated with an attempt at art commentary. Here it is:

A microcosm of my web-browsing experience reveals my natural curiosity about many things. You see, I browsed from kottke.org to I Did Not Know That Yesterday! via random clicking. At this (quite interesting, actually) website, I saw a post about the real estate value of Central Park in New York (for the curious, it is over 528 billion dollars). I then looked up Central Park on Google Maps, and noticed that one building interrupted the park’s solid green border. That building is the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I then visited the Wikipedia page about the Met in order to learn when such a building had managed to negotiate with the city of New York to build on the precious grounds of Central Park (turns out it opened at its current location in the year 1880). After this, I began reading about the museum’s deaccessioning policy, intended to allow the museum to acquire “world class” art objects.


Modem Debugging

Here’s some great advice on how to make sure your broadband internet connection is working properly:

For example, if you buy your own modem, NEVER say “I need my new modem INSTALLED.” Say “I need my new modem PROVISIONED”. 95% of the support people will know right away what you need and won’t bother asking you about Windows and you’ll be online 15 minutes later.

Know how to get to the status page of your modem (usually [] but may vary depending on model). Know that your downstream signal needs to be between -10 and +10 dBmV. Know that your downstream SNR should be above 33. Know that your upstream power should be between +30 and +50 dBmV. When my signal dropped because of a splice in the line gone bad, I didn’t tell Comcast “my internet don’t work”, I told them, “my downstream power is -16, which is out-of-spec, I need a tech to take a look at this”. I had a tech out the very next morning and was back online by the afternoon.


Alone in a Crowd

You may have all read the mainstream media blip two years back about an extensive thread on a message board simply called “i am lonely will anyone speak to me.” In fact, over three years after it’s creation, you can still read the thousands and thousands of responses to one person’s plea for a human connection. The stark reality is that three years ago, many of the most active citizens of the internet were technologically minded, shy individuals. So, from this preponderance of socially awkward people, there was bound to come a post like this, with a corresponding outpouring of responses. Naturally, as the demographics of the internet have evolved, the responses have also diversified. However, the central point remains: the cold online world still feels lonely to many people. A 2004 article in the New Yorker, called, “Hello, Loneliness” put forth a good summary:


The French Connections

Behind the pay-wall at the New York Times, Paul Krugman writes about the sad state of United States broadband internet.

Even more striking is the fact that our “high speed” connections are painfully slow by other countries’ standards. According to the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, French broadband connections are, on average, more than three times as fast as ours. Japanese connections are a dozen times faster. Oh, and access is much cheaper in both countries than it is here.


Fun, useful, cool looking internet speed test

Fun, useful, cool looking internet speed test - Check out the US speeds under the “countries” tab. US: 4661 kb/s down & 880 kb/s up. Compare to the number one ranked Japan 9358 kb/s down and 3241 kb/s up!

That makes Japan’s download speeds over twice as fast as US speeds, and upload speed almost 4 times as fast. This means the average Japanese computer user could download a YouTube video in half the time, and upload a video in a quarter the time their American counterpart would spend. The United States really has taken a backseat to other countries in this speed race. Oh, and don’t give me the “well, they’re a small country so they can quickly roll out high speed to many people” thing, because numbers 2 and 3 on this fastest internet list are Sweden and Latvia — hardly known for their population density.

Why the Internet Is Threatened aka

Why the Internet Is Threatened aka - Ok, stay with me on this one: in this link, Tim Berners-Lee (commonly known as the inventor of the internet), writes an article about why the Internet as we know it is threatened. The problem, in my inadequate nutshell, is this: companies in the US are tending to put preference to one type of traffic over another, which could eventually extend to, say, Comcast making your connection to Barnes and Noble Booksellers’ website much faster than Amazon in exchange for payment from Barnes and Noble. This is a serious problem as it undermines the nature of the Internet.