Net Neutrality in the Senate

The Senate will be discussing it’s own version of the telecommunications reform act, which passed through the House last week.

The bill in the Senate differs slightly from the bill that passed the House. The Senate version currently has the FCC doing a study to determine if network operators are deliberately manipulating traffic crossing their networks.
This bill would leave it up to the FCC to enforce their own feeling on the matter, which would likely result in lengthy legal cases lasting years and costing the taxpayer even more money.

That aside, I’m not entirely sure I trust the FCC to be on the consumers side. Many times in the past they’ve shown they can be pretty unfair to organisations if they feel like it.
It may be interesting to note, that the FCC doesn’t have to provide much justification on its rulings when it decided for or against a case.


The House is lost, on to the Senate

A little late, but an update as promised.

The COPE act did indeed pass the House, and the net-neutrality amendment was defeated.

The short of the story is, that several representatives argued that a neutral Internet would pass too much of the cost of building tomorrow’s networks to consumers.

Here’s what I would like to know:
The telecoms companies already charge their corporate customers  like Google and Yahoo, based how much bandwidth they use. If they use on average 50Mbit/s, they pay for that. If they use on average 25Mbit/sec, they pay less.

These costs were determined by the telecoms companies. They already know how much money they need from their customers in order to build these new faster networks.
Smart business owners understand that a part of their profits need to be applied to the upkeep of their establishment. Telecoms companies are no different!
AT&T alone expects to save $600m to $800m because of the merger with SBC late in 2005. Their first quarter profits were also up significantly compared to the first quarter of 2005. They also added over half a million new broadband customers, increasing profits there over 14%.

Since the start of 2003, AT&T’s stock price has remained at a fairly steady ~$26 average price. During this whole time AT&T has been constantly upgrading its infrastructure, so where has this sudden panic over upgrade costs come from?

Think of it this way: When you bought a top-of-the-line computer 5 years ago it could have cost you $2000. A top-of-the-line computer today would also cost you about the same. The same is true of most things, including the cost of building a faster network. The costs AT&T, Verizon and Comcast talk of are actually the cost they would have to invest in their networks anyway as part of their projected growth.
So you can see why a lot of this seems suspicious.

More this weekend…

Net Neutrality update

Tonight the House voted on the Communications Opportunity, Promotion and Enhancement (COPE) Act of 2006. This Act would create franchises of regions which were previously monopolised by cable companies. The bill would allow telecoms companies to much more easily sell cable programming to customers over their IP networks, for consumers to watch on their computers.

Attached to this was the amendment for network-neutrality that I spoke of in my last post. Unfortuantely while the Act was passed, but the network-neutrality amendment was defeated 269-152.

At the moment the next move is unclear to me, but I will find out in the morning and give an update. Please continue to get in touch with your representatives from , under the “Act Now” link.

Net Neutrality

This isn’t a widely read blog (yet), but I’m hoping that someone will read this and get the word out as best as they can.
In a few days, a bill will be presented in the House of Representatives, which could have quite serious and lasting repercussions on the Internet.
The bill has been lobbied by all of the major telecoms companies in the US as something they need to help them grow into the future.

In short, they are demanding to be allowed to charge companies like Google, Yahoo, YouTube, MySpace, and anyone else out there who offers multimedia content to their users to pay extra for it to keep the same quality of service that exists today. If a company such as YouTube does not cough up, people visiting their site will quickly find that they cannot access the videos easily at all. And even when they do, the content will take much much longer to download. If you think this isn’t bad, try watching some of these videos on dial-up for a week.
The argument put forward by the various companies, is that such multimedia content uses up a lot of bandwidth on their networks, networks which the telecoms companies built. They also argue that in order to continue growing, such that the Internet doesn’t become a large congested network, they need to invest in making faster networks and for that they feel the people using the networks most should pay up.

This seems reasonable until you realise there are a few problems with the stated arguments:

  1. Companies like Google, Yahoo, YouTube, etc already pay the telecoms providers a whole lot of money to be able to connect to the Internet. They may not pay AT&T, Verizon, et al directly, but they do pay their ISP, who in turn pays AT&T, Verizon, Comcast..
  2. The customers of said telecoms companies who have broadband also pay a monthly fee for their Internet access, and often pay quite a lot of money for this (my own bill is over $75 a month).
  3. The networks that were built by the telecoms companies, were heavily subsidised by US taxpayers. The companies now wany to take the subsidised networks and start making much more money from them, again at the cost of the taxpayer.

For many years now we’ve lived in a “neutral” internet – everyone had equal access and everyone was treated equally. Someone with a small DSL connection could host their own web server and it would be given equal preference compared to a large company.

This is not a partisan issue. Many members of Congress from both parties agree that network neutrality as it stands today is best of the Internet. It is how the internet has grown and how it should be allowed to grow, as a free-market. However, many are still undecided.
Please visit and contact your representative, and tell them that you disagree with the proposed bill.
You can also visit and express your voice there.
Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, today put out an open letter to all users of Google on this matter. You can read it here:

The Graduate

The Graduate (1967, Dustin Hoffman) is indeed a classic movie.
Parts of it were often used in other shows as a tribute to its greatness, The Simpsons even went so far as to spoof the entire final scene in an episode with Grandpa and Mrs Bouvier in Mrs Bouvier’s Lover.

Having said all of this, I had not seen the movie in full until tonight, and I have to say that it left me with quite an uneasy feeling. The depiction of selfishness in the character of Mrs Robinson, and the lengths to which she would go to hold onto the only morsel of her life she has control over is overwhelming.

Her actions illustrate a burning desire in each of us to hold on to some amount of normalcy in our lives, while Dustin Hoffman’s character is fighting the same inner turmoil in order to achieve what he needs to be able to live his life to its fullest potential.

It is quite an interesting film which shows two entirely different people both fighting the same side of the coiln in very different ways.

I do feel that a lot of the problems shown in the film seem to stem from the forced social we are required to enter into.
Times have changed since 1967, and in some parts of the world a single pregnant woman isn’t living with a stigma anymore.

Though it does make us think about the other issues we commit ourselves to without thought..

Chav handbag

A friend of mine was on a bus in London recently, when a woman sat down opposite him and proceeded to empty and re-organise her handbag after emptying it on the seat. This is what she took out:

  • A packet of cigarettes
  • A white thong
  • A packet of 3 condoms (extra large)
  • A makeup case with a mirror
  • A mobile phone
  • A tube of zovirax
  • Lipstick
  • A pair of England socks
  • A packet of 3 condoms (small)
  • An oyster card
  • A purse
  • A packet of 12 condoms (regular, extra strength)
  • A pair of navy blue knickers
  • A tube of lubricant
  • A pocket-pack of tissues
  • A pair of latex gloves
  • Eyeliner
  • An England (St George’s cross) vibrator
  • Another packet of cigarettes
  • 3 packs of chewing gum (one of which was nicotine gum)
  • A screwdriver
  • A mirror
  • A toothbrush
  • A selection of business cards (the top one was a taxi company)
  • House keys
  • 2 AA batteries


Best Day Ever

Today has definitely been the best day after the birth of my son:

  • We found a place to move to in Idaho
  • We’re going to get DSL
  • My phone bill was reduced by 25% per month
  • I got Half-Life and CounterStrike working under WINE
  • I had the best game of poker in my life, one game lasted 4 hrs 30 mins with a $240 pot for the winner, I came in second so broke even but it was incredible – I laid the smack down on three pretty awesome players

I really don’t think it gets much better than that. Thank you, and good night!

Shortening URLs in Mailman

Mailman is a great mailing list manager, and tonight I learnt how to implement my own functions.
Contrary to the FAQ, there is actually a really good way to extend the functionality of Mailman and it’s quite easy too.

Mailman uses python scripts called handlers, which are kept in mailman/Mailman/Handlers/. Each script contains a method (def, function, whatever you want to call it) called “process” which is automatically passed three arguments.

Basically in here you can do anything you would in a normal python script. The ‘msg’ variable that is actually an instance of a class which contains all of the message data (headers, body, and much other data). Once you’re done, put your new script in the above directory and add it to the GLOBAL_PIPELINE list in mailman/Mailman/ (this file gets default from, copy anything you need from and put it in
If you’re interested in doing any hacking of messages, look at in the above directory. I was able to make a very simple but effective URL shortener. Every message sent to my mailing lists now gets saved to a database and a new shorter URL is put after the original. If anyone would like to see the code, let me know 🙂

twisted.web and Method Not Allowed

Today I was developing a little application using Python’s Twisted framework. Everything was going as well as could be expected until I tried to POST some data to the application.

“Method Not Allowed
Your browser approached me (at /) with the method “POST”. I only allow the methods here.”

Googling for the answer, I found suggestions to add the following line to my application:
allowedMethods = (‘GET’, ‘POST’)
Unfortunately that doesn’t work by itself.

exarkun on said my application was probably missing a render_POST method, which was correct. The problem was fixed by adding:
render_POST = render_GET
after my render_GET() method.

Rolling over

And I missed it by one day!
Brandy just said to me about the baby:

“Okay so i spoke too soon  he saw something on the bed he liked while i was changing his diaper, put both arms towards it, you could see his tummy flex & over he went   cracked me up!”

He is 5 weeks 5 days old today.

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