Dramatically Lower Bandwidth Cap

OMG, it’s been six months since I posted. Too, too busy.

I got this in the mail this week:

The cards says:

Dear EarthLink Internet Cable Service Powered by Comcast customer:

Effective July 1, 2010 the terms of service for the EarthLink Internet Cable Service Powered by Comcast service will be changed to include a 250 gigabyte monthey data usage cap for all EarthLink Internet Cable Service Powered by Comcast customers. Monthy data usage is the amount of data (for example, photos and videos) that you send, receive, download and upload during a month. It is our experience that the majority of cusomers never come close go using 250 gigabytes of data in a month.

To assist you, we created a web page specifically to answer your questions concerning this new policy. Please refer to the page listed below for more information and thank you for being an EarthLink Internet Cable Service Powered by Comcast customer.

http://support.earthlink.net/comcast250

This is bullshit ridiculous. There was already a per-month data cap. It was the speed I pay for times the seconds in the month. With a 10Mbps connection and about 2,629,743 seconds in a month, that’s about a (natural) 2,500 gigabyte cap.

I should be able to use every advertised bit in the 10 Mbps that was advertised — every single second of the day, not just some times during the day. If that means you restrict the advertised speed, then that’s fair, but you’re advertised bandwidth is currently deceptive: it’s about 10 Mbps — except you’re not allowed to actually go that fast.

What should I do — divide the month into seconds and put my own bandwidth limiter on my router, so I don’t hit the cap? Again, bullshit ridiculous.

Also, if “the majority of customers never come close go using 250 gigabytes of data in a month” then why is a cap even needed? Sounds like a shitload whole lot of customers aren’t using all the product for which they’re paying.

Backup Software

I want backup software that does incremental backups at the file level. It might waste more space, but it would be easier to retrieve lost files. It should make a folder for each date-time (YYYYMMDD-HHMMSS) it finds a changed file (continuous backup). It should just store complete files (not a single giant backup file). It should probably also have an XML log / registry in the root of the backups to air a Backup Browser in showing a reconstituted view.

I could then look at the drive and see a \BackUps folder in the root of the drive for all my backuos, a \C folder for files on the C:\ drive, and then \YYYYMMDD-HHMMSS folders for each backup. I could then dig into \BackUps\C\YYYYMMDD-HHMMSS\ or \BackUps\D\YYYYMMDD-HHMMSS\ (D:\ drive, etc.) and fish out any file I needed without using backup software to retrieve the file.

Anyone could then build a Backup Browser (open source or proprietary) to let the backup be browsed reassembled since only the first backup would have all the files. it could look like Time machine’s restore function, or it could look like a Fonder/Explorer window with a date control to look at the file system state on a given date-time. But even without the Backup Browser, you could still get the files.

Windows 7 Backup and Restore (built in backup), Acronis True Image Home 2010, and Rebit, discussed in “Managing Backup: Three Software Solutions Compared : Backup Done Right – Review Tom’s Hardware“, all seem like good options, but if I understand correctly, all require software to look at the files.

If backup software used my standard scheme for storing backups, it would still be helpful to have software to look at the backups in a more meaningful way, but it would not be required — the files would just be there on the drive.

If you want your backup encrypted (which is a weird idea to me, since retrieving the data — the whole point of a backup — could be hampered by encryption), then it would be okay for it to work in the TrueCrypt way. Files are still accessed at the root of a drive, but that drive is an encrypted container somewhere else. Better yet, it could be an encrypted partition. Just make sure the OS and user transparently see it as unencrypted.

VMWare could be so cool

I’ve now paid for VMWare Fusion 2 and for an upgrade to 3. It seems the upgrade added a few minor new features. It mostly seemed like bug fixes (like making Windows 7 work properly).

Two big bugs that haven’t been fixed are the problem that Ubuntu’s visual effects won’t work, and when you mouse down to a hidden OS X Dock, it won’t pop up when you’re running full screen.

iPhone Features (leftovers)

In my iPhone Features Sunday, post on February 22nd, 2009, I gave a list of my top choices. I have to say, I think that they’re past the point of pushing normal users to jailbreak their iPhones. I have no need to jailbreak, but I do like that there’s a way to make sure my hardware is really mine. (The fact that Apple controls which software I’m even allowed to install is just not right.)

Before I get to the leftover features that I still didn’t get, I have something to gripe about. I’m happy to hear that MMS will be included in my unlimited messaging — I’ll finally get closer to my money’s worth (AT&T’s Text Messages Cost $1,310 per Megabyte). I am more than unhappy about AT&T sitting around trying to decide how much to charge me per month to turn on a feature that’s built into the iPhone: tethering. I already pay for data. It’s unlimited, but it’s also capped at 5GB per month (which is a whole matter altogether). If I want to route that data through my phone and to my notebook, then I should just be able to do it.

This leads to the leftover features I still want:

Taxes

I think that we’d end up with a healthier economy if we’d simplify the tax code to just one law.

It should simply be:
For any sale by an American (or American Company), the local government gets X percent, the state government gets X percent, and the federal government gets X percent.

That way the burden of taxes is only on the seller. Income and property (and all other forms of) taxes would go away.

If we wanted to protect our industries, we could still use tariffs for foreign sales, so people wouldn’t be encouraged to just buy foreign.

We’d need a force of people (maybe just use the IRS income tax force) to monitor businesses, and leave it up to individuals to be honest (or audited). The biggest sellers would be easiest to monitor, and would bring in the most tax revenue.

This would encourage saving money because keeping money wouldn’t be taxed. No one would loose their farms or houses from taxes any more. It would encourage bartering (though, if that caught on too much, especially between corporations, maybe bartering would be taxed, too). Giving money would not be taxed because whenever that gift was spent, it would then be taxed.

It would take adjusting to create new routes for money to arrive at the programs currently funded by taxes, but after that was ironed out once, it would be a cleaner, easier to monitor system.

Black & Decker GH1000 GrassHogXP [updated 1/1/2009]

My yard is larger than an average suburban yard. I tried a gas powered weed wacker (line trimmer), but it was overkill. I just got the Black & Decker GH1000, and it works quite well, considering it’s one of the most miserable kinds of tools to use. I followed consumer reports’s suggestion, and though CS doesn’t test enough products, this time it worked out for me.

I may have spoken too soon. My neighbor gave me his old GrassHogXP “for spare parts” because he said the electric motor died. He mentioned that this wasn’t his first to die. Two months later, mine died too. According to Amazon, it has a 2-year warranty. I’ll post after I find out how that goes.

Edit 1/22: The replacement was super easy, and the second one is still working fine.

iPhone Features

I recently got an iPhone and I have found that there are many features at iPhone Features (petitions) that I would really like. The great part is all you need to provide is your Name, City, and Country — Email Address and Comments are optional.

Here are some of my top choices:

If Apple doesn’t want people jailbreaking their iPhones, then they need to hurry up and implement some of these features.

We are keeping Netflix Profiles!

(note: This is the 2nd time Netflix has listened to its customers to reverse a decision, and the FAQ has not yet been updated)

At 16:13 CDT I was pleased to receive this in my email:

We Are Keeping Netflix Profiles

Dear Zakhar,

You spoke, and we listened. We are keeping Profiles. Thank you for all the calls and emails telling us how important Profiles are.

We are sorry for any inconvenience we may have caused. We hope the next time you hear from us we will delight, and not disappoint, you.

-Your friends at Netflix

Here’s a link to the post on the Neflix blog about keeping profiles (via digg).

Save and Save As

I really can’t stand software that makes me save all the time.  I like the Save As… feature, but mostly so I can set a bookmark of revision (or to make sure I have a revert avenue after any layout or file corruption).  I love how Jeff Johnson describes Save:

One concept that developers often add to software conceptual models despite the fact that it doesn’t exist in most actual task domains is an explicit action for saving the results of the user’s work. When a person writes or draws on a physical piece of paper, there is no need for the person to do anything to save his orher work. Computer software has been addingSave actions to software conceptual models for so long that frequent computer users now consider it to be natural to most task domains. It isn’t.

Software developers add Save actions to conceptual models partly because doing so gives users a way to back out of changes they have made since the last Save. However, the ability to back out of changes could also be provided in other way, such as (1) making all changes reversible, or (2) automatically creating backup versions of users’ data. This is in fact how most computer file managers operate: when users move data files and folders from place to place, they do not have to save their changes. Users back out of changes by simply reversing the operations. Why are file managers designed differently than, say, most document editors? Tradition and habit, nothing more.