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President Obama Proposes Strong FCC Net-Neutraility Laws

While we don’t often comment on politics, earlier today, president Obama laid forth a proposal to the Federal Communications Commission to enact the toughest Open Net-Neutrality laws possible.  His commentary that the Internet should remain unregulated with respect to control of content access is the first real proposal for such openness from his administration.

Obama’s detailed proposal came through an open letter to the people on Whitehouse.gov and is as follows:

An open Internet is essential to the American economy, and increasingly to our very way of life. By lowering the cost of launching a new idea, igniting new political movements, and bringing communities closer together, it has been one of the most significant democratizing influences the world has ever known.

“Net neutrality” has been built into the fabric of the Internet since its creation — but it is also a principle that we cannot take for granted. We cannot allow Internet service providers (ISPs) to restrict the best access or to pick winners and losers in the online marketplace for services and ideas. That is why today, I am asking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to answer the call of almost 4 million public comments, and implement the strongest possible rules to protect net neutrality.

When I was a candidate for this office, I made clear my commitment to a free and open Internet, and my commitment remains as strong as ever. Four years ago, the FCC tried to implement rules that would protect net neutrality with little to no impact on the telecommunications companies that make important investments in our economy. After the rules were challenged, the court reviewing the rules agreed with the FCC that net neutrality was essential for preserving an environment that encourages new investment in the network, new online services and content, and everything else that makes up the Internet as we now know it. Unfortunately, the court ultimately struck down the rules — not because it disagreed with the need to protect net neutrality, but because it believed the FCC had taken the wrong legal approach.

The FCC is an independent agency, and ultimately this decision is theirs alone. I believe the FCC should create a new set of rules protecting net neutrality and ensuring that neither the cable company nor the phone company will be able to act as a gatekeeper, restricting what you can do or see online. The rules I am asking for are simple, common-sense steps that reflect the Internet you and I use every day, and that some ISPs already observe. These bright-line rules include:

  • No blocking. If a consumer requests access to a website or service, and the content is legal, your ISP should not be permitted to block it. That way, every player — not just those commercially affiliated with an ISP — gets a fair shot at your business.
  • No throttling. Nor should ISPs be able to intentionally slow down some content or speed up others — through a process often called “throttling” — based on the type of service or your ISP’s preferences.
  • Increased transparency. The connection between consumers and ISPs — the so-called “last mile” — is not the only place some sites might get special treatment. So, I am also asking the FCC to make full use of the transparency authorities the court recently upheld, and if necessary to apply net neutrality rules to points of interconnection between the ISP and the rest of the Internet.
  • No paid prioritization. Simply put: No service should be stuck in a “slow lane” because it does not pay a fee. That kind of gatekeeping would undermine the level playing field essential to the Internet’s growth. So, as I have before, I am asking for an explicit ban on paid prioritization and any other restriction that has a similar effect.

If carefully designed, these rules should not create any undue burden for ISPs, and can have clear, monitored exceptions for reasonable network management and for specialized services such as dedicated, mission-critical networks serving a hospital. But combined, these rules mean everything for preserving the Internet’s openness.

The rules also have to reflect the way people use the Internet today, which increasingly means on a mobile device. I believe the FCC should make these rules fully applicable to mobile broadband as well, while recognizing the special challenges that come with managing wireless networks.

To be current, these rules must also build on the lessons of the past. For almost a century, our law has recognized that companies who connect you to the world have special obligations not to exploit the monopoly they enjoy over access in and out of your home or business. That is why a phone call from a customer of one phone company can reliably reach a customer of a different one, and why you will not be penalized solely for calling someone who is using another provider. It is common sense that the same philosophy should guide any service that is based on the transmission of information — whether a phone call, or a packet of data.

So the time has come for the FCC to recognize that broadband service is of the same importance and must carry the same obligations as so many of the other vital services do. To do that, I believe the FCC should reclassify consumer broadband service under Title II of the Telecommunications Act — while at the same time forbearing from rate regulation and other provisions less relevant to broadband services. This is a basic acknowledgment of the services ISPs provide to American homes and businesses, and the straightforward obligations necessary to ensure the network works for everyone — not just one or two companies.

Investment in wired and wireless networks has supported jobs and made America the center of a vibrant ecosystem of digital devices, apps, and platforms that fuel growth and expand opportunity. Importantly, network investment remained strong under the previous net neutrality regime, before it was struck down by the court; in fact, the court agreed that protecting net neutrality helps foster more investment and innovation. If the FCC appropriately forbears from the Title II regulations that are not needed to implement the principles above — principles that most ISPs have followed for years — it will help ensure new rules are consistent with incentives for further investment in the infrastructure of the Internet.

The Internet has been one of the greatest gifts our economy — and our society — has ever known. The FCC was chartered to promote competition, innovation, and investment in our networks. In service of that mission, there is no higher calling than protecting an open, accessible, and free Internet. I thank the Commissioners for having served this cause with distinction and integrity, and I respectfully ask them to adopt the policies I have outlined here, to preserve this technology’s promise for today, and future generations to come.

While the FCC has come out in opposition of what the president proposed, the president’s words carry quite a bit of weight with those in the Net-Neutraility realm and the fact that over 4,000,000 signatures were garnered in the run-up to the announcement, shows that the president also has the backing of a good number of those Americans who use the Internet in their daily lives.

Lode Runner Creator Douglas E. Smith Has Passed Away

screenshot_0_Lode Runner (alt) (Disk 1 of 2)_0

The developer of one of the most popular platform games of the early 1980’s has passed away.  Lode Runner was an overnight success for Douglas E. Smith and had heavy competition from several publishers after he submitted the game for evaluation.   The game originally was developed on the Apple II and became so popular that it has appeared on many of the later gamin platforms.

screenshot_0_Lode Runner (alt) (Disk 1 of 2)_1

His latest incarnations of the Lode Runner game were being published through Tozai Games.

Nishida Radio releases photo of Prototype HDMI Card for Apple IIe

HDMI

Nishida Radio has released a photo of a prototype HDMI card for the Apple IIe that they have been working on.  Proprietor, Koichi Nishida mentioned in a short conversation yesterday that he will be creating the //c version of the HDMi card first.

The popularity of Nishida’s previous cards has meant that stock has been dificult for him to maintain as most of the cards sell as quickly as he is able to assemble them.  The HDMI cards will likely attain similar status with many vintage Apple Computer fans wanting to use modern monitors with their older hardware.

iOS 7.1 released with visual tweaks and CarPlay

iOS 7.1

Apple iOS 7.1

Apple has released the first update to iOS 7 since last September to the general public after a long beta test period. This update includes fixes for the TouchID fingerprint system, a fix for the home screen crashing issue, as well as the new feature for automobiles: CarPlay. Apple calls CarPlay “a better way to use iPhone while driving.” The system is only available on select new cars for 2014.

iPhone 4 users will enjoy improved responsiveness and performance with this iOS update.

Access the Software update area of your iDevice to update to this new version.

Visit the Apple iOS 7 site for more

Apple trademarks its Stores to deter copycats

Sam Shead from ZDNet writes that the USPTO has granted Apple a trademark to its stores in order to cut down on copycats.

Mr. Shead states,

The approval was granted more than two years after the company first filed the application to trademark its stores in May 2010.

Apple has requested that no store be allowed to replicate various features, including “a clear glass storefront surrounded by a panelled facade” or an “oblong table with stools… set below video screens flush mounted on the back wall”.

 

Apple’s motivation for the trademark comes in part from a fake Apple store in China that made widespread news coverage in 2011 for selling Apple products under the familiar white Apple logo, in a building designed to look just like Apple’s many retail stores.

Of course, since the trademark is only filed with the United States Government, this filing cannot be exercised against persons in foreign countries misusing the trademark.

Source

Stable version of JACE – Apple II emulator – Released

Java Apple II emulator author Brendan Robert was quite understandably pleased to announce that his JACE emulator has reached a new milestone.

Said Mr. Robert:

This is the first major release, bringing this emulator within a hair of my original vision for what I wanted it to be: it is a complete recreation of the computer I had growing up. (yaaaaaay!) There are a few bugs left to fix, but the only people in this world that claim software is ever complete are sales people. In spite of its flaws it’s ready to get some heavy use: I took the BETA label off the sourceforge page.

# Several timing and deadlock fixes, this not only spells more stable but also a lot more efficient in some cases.

# AE RamFactor card implemented and working. You will need to install the AE Ram Expander for Appleworks to see the extra storage.
*There is an additional option to max out the speed of the emulator when the ramfactor is in use. This means that any applications using Ram for cache or extra storage will speed up dramatically.

# Mockingboard works perfectly with Ultima 5.
*AE Phasor support has been implemented, but it isn’t working right just yet. For now, just use Mockingboard mode.
*Note: Only use ONE mockingboard. Using more than one will cause the timing issues and sound horrible.
*You can use a mockingboard at the same time as a Passport MIDI card. It has a strange syncopated sound to it. it does reveal, however, that the mockingboard playback is pitch-perfect. :-)

# Visual UI completely overhauled: Now fullscreen is possible (press F9)
*Pressing F8 while in fullscreen will toggle aspect-constrained or stretched displays.

# Indicator icons now appear for:
*Disk II activity
*Mass storage activity
*Mouse activation
*SSC activity
*RamFactor activity

Visit the JACE Web site

JACE is free open-source software, licensed under the LGPL. It emulates an Apple IIe with 128K of RAM and an 80 columns card. It supports a disk drive, joysticks, Super Serial Card, AE RamFactor, mass storage, and many other features.

The emulator is compatible with all major computer operating systems.

 

WikiLeaks Recovers from Massive DDoS Attack

The infamous “top-secret” document-leaking web site WikiLeaks recovered just Monday from what appeared to be a massive, week-long DDoS attack from thousands of distinct IP addresses.

The group took assistance from security and performance firm Cloudfare in order to handle the extra capacity needed to withstand the attack– over 10 gigabits per second.

A posting on the site states:

“The bandwidth used is so huge it is impossible to filter without specialized hardware, however… the DDoS is not simple bulk UDP or ICMP packet flooding, so most hardware filters won’t work either. The range of IPs used is huge. Whoever is running it controls thousands of machines or is able to simulate them.”

The attack targeted most all of the WikiLeaks infrastructure, including its auxiliary sites and donations system.

WikiLeaks administrators believe that the attack involved the Domain Name System, remarking:

We believe that the attack method is a so called “DNS amplification
attack.” Broadly speaking, this attack makes use of open DNS servers where attackers send a small request to the fast DNS servers then amplify the request, the request has now increased somewhat in size and is sent to the server of wikileaks-press.org. If an attacker then exploits hundreds of thousands of open DNS resolvers and sends millions of requests to each of them, the attack becomes quite powerful. We only have a small uplink to our server, the size of all these requests was 100,000 times the size of our uplink.

A group calling itself “Anti Leaks” has claimed credit for the DDoS attack.

Google Chrome Browser Now Available for iPhone and iPad

Google, Inc announced today that it has developed an iPhone and iPad compatible version of its popular Chrome web browser. The browser, which is available now in the App Store, offers many of the same features from the desktop version of Chrome, including synchronization across devices of bookmarks and tabs, as well as private “incognito” browsing.

Google Chrome currently has over 310 million active users. The announcement was made on the second day of the Google I/O conference in San Francisco.

Apple ][ Scans Makes Guide to your Apple III Available

Apple ][ Scans has completed scanning the entire Obsorne / McGraw Hill Guide to Your Apple /// available on their website. According to Apple ][ Scans Curator, Mike Maginnis, the original scan had “the first two chapters of this book and made it available online.  It had some great notes from Dave Ottalini inserted in the PDF, but for whatever reason, it wasn’t the whole thing.  This new scan is the complete book and is higher quality than the first one, but doesn’t contain Dave’s excellent notes, so don’t delete that other PDF.”

The guide covers many aspects of using the Apple /// computer and is a good place to start if you are trying to use an Apple /// emulation package.  The entire book has been completely re-scanned and is now available in PDF format from the site at:

http://www.apple2scans.net/apple-iii/the-osbornemcgraw-hill-guide-to-your-apple/

DIY antenna for TV tuner cards and new generation TVs

A couple of months ago I posted an article about a “home made” antenna I made from plans on the internet. A couple of days ago I completed an antenna with a different design I also found on the internet. Last night I held a demo of it for some friends (including a couple of retired TV/RADAR/HAM professionals. They were fairly impressed with the results and sensitivity. Considering the darned thing was made of wood and mostly wire coat hangers it would be hard not to be impressed.

Here is some information on the design I was using… http://www.digitalhome.ca/ota/superantenna/ There have been some improvements since then… http://www.jedsoft.org/fun/antennas/dtv/gh.html However I chose to build the older version because there was less work involved.

The performance outdoors was fairly impressive. The design was for UHF only. While aiming it toward the center of town where most of the transmitters are located, it was able to pick up all four of the UHF stations in town. After a friend of mine suggested pointing it toward one of the VHF transmitters we all got the idea to see if we could get the two VHF stations as well. Sure enough with some careful aiming we were able to get both of the VHF stations. For one station we had to lift the antenna a couple of metres off the ground but  that was to be expected when the transmitter is slightly farther away. Had I not left the remote for the TV at home we could have tried for a couple of North Dakota stations.

The demonstration took place on the other side of the city from where I live. This afternoon I tried it in the back yard. The UHF stations were clear but there was trouble with the VHF stations even when aiming at the transmitters. Even trying the American stations there was no signal. Given the back yard is surrounded on three sides by stucco buildings, and there are no transmitters on the fourth side, I suppose the difference in performance is reasonable. Indoor performance wasn’t anything to write home about. In the basement only three UHF stations were visible.

I have a picture of what it looks like. I chose the location because things are highly visible. Ignore the power cables coming out of the power bar.

SBGH antenna

Single Bay Gray-Hoverman antenna

Here is a short list of what people will need to get digital broadcast TV.

  1. A broadcast source (a TV station).
  2. An antenna (like the design I wrote about – rabbit ears don’t cut it any more).
  3. A TV
  4. A digital receiver (new generation TVs have this built in as do new TV tuner cards).

Here is some technical info for people to keep in mind.

  • For the most part broadcast TV is line of sight.
  • Buildings with a lot of metal (like a mesh for stucco) tend to decrease signal strength.
  • Outdoor antennas are better than indoor.
  • The higher up an antenna is located the more stations it can “see”.
  • Directional antennas (like this one) should be pointed toward the broadcast tower for the best results.
  • Digital TVs are fine with weak signals up to the point where not enough information makes its way to the TV.
  • Night time reception is better than day time reception.
  • TV stations over the horizon may occasionally be seen by the antenna but this phenomenon is not consistent.
  • The further away the TV station is the weaker the signal.
  • The quality of the antenna construction is very important.

My next antenna project will be to build one of the newer versions of the antenna. I’ll need some serious help to do a good job. Fortunately I know a few people. ;-)