December 29, 2007

House rejects Net neutrality rules

By Declan McCullagh,
Published on ZDNet News: Jun 9, 2006

The U.S. House of Representatives definitively rejected the concept of Net neutrality on Thursday, dealing a bitter blow to Internet companies like, eBay and Google that had engaged in a last-minute lobbying campaign to support it.

By a 269-152 vote that fell largely along party lines, the House Republican leadership mustered enough votes to reject a Democrat-backed amendment that would have enshrined stiff Net neutrality regulations into federal law and prevented broadband providers from treating some Internet sites differently from others.

Of the 421 House members who participated in the vote that took place around 6:30 p.m. PT, the vast majority of Net neutrality supporters were Democrats. Republicans represented most of the opposition.

The vote on the amendment (click for PDF) came after nearly a full day of debate on the topic, which prominent Democrats predicted would come to represent a turning point in the history of the Internet.

"The future Sergey Brins, the future Marc Andreessens, of Netscape and Google…are going to have to pay taxes" to broadband providers, said Rep. Ed Markey, the Massachusetts Democrat behind the Net neutrality amendment. This vote will change "the Internet for the rest of eternity," he warned.

Net neutrality's crowded field

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Bill number Lead sponsor(s) What it proposes Status
S.2360 Wyden (D) No two-tier Internet Still in Senate committee
S.2917 Snowe (R) and Dorgan (D) No two-tier Internet Just introduced
HR5417 Sensenbrenner (R) and Conyers (D) Antitrust extended to Net neutrality Awaiting House floor vote
HR5273 Markey (D) No two-tier Internet Still in House committee *
HR5252 Barton (R) and Rush (D) FCC can police complaints Net neutrality rejected
S.2686 Stevens (R) and Inouye (D) FCC will do a study Senate committee vote expected in June

* Republicans have defeated similar language twice as an amendment to a telecommunications bill

Source: CNET research

At issue is a lengthy measure called the Communications Opportunity, Promotion, and Enhancement (COPE) Act, which a House committee approved in April. Its Republican backers, along with broadband providers such as Verizon and AT&T, say it has sufficient Net neutrality protections for consumers, and more extensive rules would discourage investment in wiring American homes with higher-speed connections.

The concept of network neutrality, which generally means that all Internet sites must be treated equally, has drawn a list of high-profile backers, from actress Alyssa Milano to Vint Cerf, one of the technical pioneers of the Internet. It's also led to a political rift between big Internet companies such as Google and Yahoo that back it–and telecom companies that oppose what they view as onerous new federal regulations.

As the final House vote drew closer, lobbyists and CEOs from both sides began stepping up the pressure. eBay CEO Meg Whitman e-mailed more than a million members, urging them to support the concept, and Google CEO Eric Schmidt on Wednesday called on his company's users to follow suit.

Defenders of the COPE Act, largely Republicans, dismissed worries about Net neutrality as fear mongering.

"I want a vibrant Internet just like they do," said Rep. Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican. "Our disagreement is about how to achieve that. They say let the government dictate it…I urge my colleagues to reject government regulation of the Internet."

The debate over Net neutrality had become more complicated after earlier versions of the COPE Act appeared to alter antitrust laws–in a way that would have deprived the House Judiciary Committee of some of its influence.

But in a last-minute compromise designed to placate key Republicans, the House leadership permitted an amendment (click for PDF) from Smith that would preserve the House Judiciary Committee's influence–without adding extensive Net neutrality mandates. That amendment to COPE was approved.

While the debate over Net neutrality started over whether broadband providers could block certain Web sites, it has moved on to whether they should be permitted to create a "fast lane" that could be reserved for video or other specialized content.

Prohibiting that is "not a road we want to go down, but that's what the Markey amendment would do," said Rep. Marsha Blackburn, a Tennessee Republican. "The next thing is going to be having a secretary of Internet Access (in the federal government)."

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December 25, 2007

Complete Closure in Outlook

Do you know about the wonderful world of the F4 key? If anything at all, you probably at least already have knowledge of these two little tidbits:

  • Ctrl + F4 will close the file.

  • Alt + F4 will close the program.

I bet some of you have tried cialis vs generic cialis Ctrl + F4 in MS Outlook with an e-mail or appointment you had open, but got nowhere, right? Or, at least not where you hoped to be.

Did you figure you were just plain out of luck on that account?

I'm sure some of you did, but I've got some great news for you today!

In MS Outlook, it takes an Alt + F4 to close a currently open item.

It doesn't close the whole program, but it closes the message, calendar item, note, task or contact that is currently open.

Hit Alt + F4 again and Outlook will close completely.

So, remember, if you've got an item currently open in Outlook, it takes Alt + F4 twice to get complete closure!

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Speed Up Those Drives

If you didn't know, Windows Vista operates external hard drives that are connected via USB differently than internal drives. Write caching is disabled so that you can safely remove the drive at almost any time. This is a great feature for USB flash drives that are frequently inserted and removed from your computer. But, if you have a large hard drive in an external enclosure that you never disconnect from your computer, write caching is also disabled, which can decrease performance. So, let's change that around a little, shall we?!

Today, I'm cialis usa going to show you a tweak that will increase the performance of your external hard drive by turning the write cache back on, as well as, activating an advanced performance. Let’s get started!

1.) First, in Vista, right click on the Computer icon on your desktop and select Manage.

2.) Click on Device Manager from the side menu.

3.) Next, expand the Disk Drives option and locate your external drive from the list.

4.) Once you've found it, right click on the drive and select Properties.

5.) Under the Policies tab, select Optimize for Performance.

6.) Next, checkmark both the options of "Enable write caching on the disk" and "Enable advanced performance," as shown below:

7.) Hit OK and then restart your computer.

That's all you have to do. Now, go on and enjoy your increased performance!

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Calling On Other Worksheets

I'm sure you've all used cell references in your MS Excel formulas, right? You know, let's say you want to add cells A2 and A3 and write a formula to do this in another location. Maybe even something as simple as =A2 + A3.

These formulas are great and pretty easy to use, but let's say there's a piece of data from one worksheet that you need to bring to another. What do you do then?

If cialis trial pack there's a chance the number from the other worksheet could change, you don't want to simply copy the number into the new worksheet. A move like that would only cause you grief. Every time you make a change that altered the value, you'd have to remember to retype the new number on the second worksheet as well.

Forget it! That method isn't worth the trouble.

Let's face it, if you can't set your workbook up to run smoothly and keep updates you have to make to a minimum, you're just looking for some trouble. You'll inevitably overlook one of those repetitive updates and the data will be meaningless.

So, now what?

The solution I suggest is to use the cell locations from the other worksheets in the formula, just like you would if the cells were located all on the same sheet.

Okay, so it isn't exactly the same. There is a slight difference in the way you reference the cells, but once you understand the new references, it's smooth sailing from there.

Now that we know why we want to use references for cells from different worksheets, let's get busy with the how to!

We all know about the basic formula to add two cells from within the same worksheet where the formula will be used. Let's use the one from above as our example: =A2 + A3

Now, let's just say that instead of A2 and A3 from the current worksheet, you want to use A2 from Sheet2 and A3 from Sheet3 in the workbook.

The new formula (with the different sheet references) would look like this: =Sheet2!A2+Sheet3!A3

Your formula has to somehow tell Excel where to find the cells in the workbook and do it before the cell location with the sheet name and the exclamation point. (Without the extra clarification, the program simply uses the sheet with the formula).

After using a formula like that, you're relieved from any extra updating! If you change a number in either of those cells, the formula will automatically update using the new values.

This type of referencing works in any formula, but you have to be sure not to have any typos in the sheet name. Excel will not guess what you mean, because it only works very literally.

What's that? You don't like all the extra typing? You're more of a "clicker" when it comes to building your formulas?

No problem!

You already know you can click to a cell location to insert it into a formula and well, it works the same way here.

  • Start your formula with the equal sign.

  • Use the sheet tabs (or Ctrl + Page Up/Page Down) to move to another worksheet in the workbook.

  • Click on the cell(s) you need inserted into the formula.

  • At this point, do not click back to the sheet you're working on, just simply continue inserting the elements (cell locations and keystrokes) of your formula.

  • When you complete the formula, hit the Enter key.

You'll be returned to the sheet you started with and your formula will be in place and hopefully, working correctly.

Now that you know how, feel free to call on all the worksheets in the book!

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December 22, 2007

Ten Worst Telecom Moments of 2007

By Timothy Karr, Posted December 21, 2007.

It was a year of billion dollar greed for the largest telecommunications companies.

A few years ago, President Bush pledged that every corner of America would have high-speed Internet by 2007. Well, the year is drawing to a close, and millions of Americans still do not have access. The United States has dropped from fourth to 15th in the world in broadband penetration in the past five years — a result of a telco stranglehold on both broadband markets and broadband policy that puts their profits before innovation and the public good.

But that's not all. Even when Americans can get online, an open and neutral Internet is not guaranteed. In the past year, phone and cable companies have been throttling the free flow of information on the Internet and cell phones — giving us a harrowing glimpse of a world without Net Neutrality.

A review of the 10 Worst Telco Moments of 2007 (in no particular order):

1. White House Declares 'Mission Accomplished' for the Internet

"We have the most effective multiplatform broadband in the world," the Bush administration's top technologist, John Kneuer, told skeptical Web experts and the media in June, despite several international surveys that place the United States far behind countries in Asia and Europe.

Kneuer says the real problem is not bad policy, but faulty data in the surveys. While the Bush White House seemed over eager to declare broadband success, America's failing report card told a story of a larger systems breakdown. "Previous generations put a toaster in every home and a car in every driveway as signs of economic progress," Sen. John Kerry wrote in September. "To stay competitive, we should strive to do the same with nationwide broadband."

Let's hope our next president understands that ubiquitous broadband access needs to be more than a mirage.

2. Telcos Spy on Millions of Americans

For several years now, the nation's largest telecommunications companies have been spying on their own customers without a warrant. In the process, they delivered to the federal government the private records of millions of Americans. Their excuse — national security in the face of a known terrorist threat — holds little weight when one considers that they've been spying on us with the NSA well in advance of the September 11 attacks.

Now, they are pushing a bill — "Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act" — that would grant complicit phone companies retroactive amnesty from prosecution for violations of our civil liberties. While a few, brave senators have stood in the way of the bill and refused to let the telcos off the hook, the legislation still stands a good chance of getting through.

3. Comcast is Busted for Blocking BitTorrent

In October, an Associated Press investigation revealed that Comcast – technically a cableco – was secretly blocking peer-to-peer file sharing programs like BitTorrent and Gnutella. Comcast's blocking is a glaring violation of Net Neutrality.

BitTorrent is rapidly emerging as one of the most successful online platforms for the sharing of large files. Comcast has a natural incentive to keep customers watching movies and television shows through their system, not the Internet.. Despite the evidence, Comcast's David Cohen told Ars cialis to buy Technica that Comcast does not block access to file sharing applications and that their practice is just "content shaping." In response, members filed a petition urging the FCC to stop Comcast from blocking Internet traffic and fine them for their violations.

And what can you do if you find out that you've been blocked by Comcast? Switch to AT&T or Verizon and suffer with slow DSL speeds and their own draconian terms of service. Free Press has sifted through the agreements of several Internet and cell phone providers and found similar language that reserves their right to cut off users on a whim.

4. AT&T and Verizon Censor Free Speech

In September, Verizon Wireless blocked NARAL Pro-Choice America's efforts to send mobile text messages to its members. After a New York Times expose, the phone company reversed its policy, claiming it was a glitch.

A month earlier, during the live Lollapalooza webcast of a Pearl Jam concert, AT&T muted lead singer Eddie Vedder just as he launched into a lyric criticizing President Bush. AT&T launched its own bungled PR response after a flurry of criticism. But both companies refused to change internal policies which allowed them to censor in the future.

Their apologies aren't cutting it anymore. Censorship by AT&T and Verizon is further proof that these corporate giants simply cannot be left at the controls of Internet content. These same providers handed customer phone records over to the NSA without a subpoena and are now strong-arming Congress for retroactive immunity (see No. 2). And they want us to trust them with the Internet?

5. Caught Red-Handed, Telcos Change Their Tune

For some time, phone and cable companies and their shills and lobbyists had been spinning Net Neutrality as a "solution in search of a problem." But 2007 brought us a series of violations of Internet freedom which brought the "problem" into vivid relief for millions.

Undaunted, the shills quickly changed their tune, admitting that indeed some mistakes were made, but the telcos were merely implementing "reasonable network management" (aka content discrimination) to bring us the Internet that we all love and cherish. The moral of this story: Follow what the telcos do, not just what they say.

6. Media Insiders Suffer Telco-Vision

Don't always believe the purveyors of conventional wisdom in Washington media. Some of these pundits are so steeped in their own "knowledge" that they get stuck spinning in place when faced with evidence to the contrary. This was the case for a chosen few who in 2007 hunkered down behind their laptops to write commentaries to convince the world that Net Neutrality was dead and gone. The issue is a "fading memory," one crowed. It "barely raises a yawn" said another.

Their view of the world, however, rarely extends beyond the Potomac, where the Net Neutrality issue was leading the news and being vigorously debated along the campaign trail. Indeed, Net Neutrality emerged as the No. 1 issue that thousands of visitors to TechPresident selected to be answered by all the presidential candidates. So the next time an insider tells you that Net Neutrality is dead, I advise you to check his pulse instead. Then point out the more than 1.5 million Americans who are taking action to protect the free and open Internet.

7. The iPhone Gets Shackled

The introduction of the iPhone over the summer highlighted both the promise and the problems of America's wireless marketplace. On the one hand, it demonstrated the promises of a truly mobile Internet. On the other hand, the iPhone raised serious questions about the fact that most every mobile phone consumer is locked into a long-term contracts, using a phone that has been "crippled" by carriers, with significant penalties for switching to a new provider.

The iPhone was shackled to AT&T. The reason? We have allowed carriers to exert almost complete gatekeeper control over all devices, services and content in the wireless sector — a move that has left U.S. innovation generations behind other nations. Reviewing the state of the wireless market in America, New York Times blogger David Pogue called American carriers "calcified, conservative and way behind their European and Asian counterparts." Despite recent efforts to open devices, the lockdown of cell phones remains the dominant characteristic of most every user agreement in the country.

8. Bush's Justice Dept. Files Against Net Neutrality

In September, departing Attorney General Alberto Gonzales filed a brief with the Federal Communications Commission, urging the agency to oppose Net Neutrality. The DOJ stated that broadband companies like AT&T should be able to erect toll booths and filter traffic — upending the even playing field that has made the Web an unrivaled engine of democratic discourse and new ideas.

The DOJ move once again proved the point: Powerful corporate and government gatekeepers are working together to dismantle Internet freedoms and impose their will upon the Web. By moving against Net Neutrality, Gonzales was merely pulling last-minute favors for friends in high places. Soon thereafter, Free Press submitted a FOIA request to shed light on the DOJ's recent hit job against Net Neutrality and uncover whether industry lobbyists or White House politics had a hand in this unusual action. We're still waiting for a response.

9. FCC's Rosy Broadband Report Wilts Under Scrutiny

In February, the FCC released its biannual report on the U.S. broadband market. On the surface, the numbers sounded good. High-speed Internet lines increased by 26 percent during the first half of 2006, and broadband was reportedly available in 99 percent of all U.S. ZIP codes. But the broadband reality is much darker. According to Free Press Research Director Derek Turner, the FCC used an "absurd standard" to measure broadband — 200 kilobits per second. "That was barely fast enough to surf in 1999, but is far below what's needed to enjoy streaming video, VoIP, flash animation or other common Internet applications."

Indeed, speeds are much slower than what's available in the rest of the world. Half of all U.S. broadband connections are slower than 2.5 megabits per second — yet in countries like Japan and South Korea, they're rolling out 100 megabit services. And there's no real competition. 98 percent of high-speed residential lines in America are provided by incumbent cable or telecom companies. Using ZIP codes alone vastly overstates the availability and competition for broadband services. While the FCC's data has been widely debunked, the telco lobby crowed that the FCC had proven beyond a doubt that the American broadband marketplace was a haven of free-market competition — which leads us to our final "worst moment."

10. More Astroturf Sprouts Up, Speads Lies

Washington policymaking has spawned a cottage industry of phony front groups put in place by phone and cable companies eager to spread misinformation about anything that threatens their control over the network. Nowhere is this more evident than in their campaign to defeat open Internet initiatives.

Throughout the year, companies like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast have funneled millions of dollars toward "Astroturf" front groups such as the disingenuously named, Hands Off the Internet and The Future Faster. For example, Hands Off the Internet — which sounds like a citizens group to protect the Internet from gatekeepers — is actually a telco-backed lobbying group that spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on video PSAs and "grassrootsy" Web campaigns aimed at eliminating efforts to restore Net Neutrality protections and spread open access.

True to form, these front groups spent much of 2007 cranking out phony PR, mouthing telco taking points and casting doubt against any effort to ensure that the Internet is open, neutral and free of interference by gatekeepers. And these groups aren't going away soon. Expect to see them on our worst moments list at the end of 2008.

— Co-authored by Lynn Erskine


See more stories tagged with: net neutrality, internet, greed, telecommunications, 2007internet, greed, telecommunications, 2007internet, greed, telecommunications, 2007internet, greed, telecommunications, 2007internet, greed, telecommunications, 2007internet, greed, telecommunications, 2007, internet, greed, telecommunications, 2007

Timothy Karr is the author of MediaCitizen, a weblog about the future of America's media. He is the campaign director of Free Press. From September 2003 through February 2005, Karr was executive director of and Media for Democracy

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