Entries Tagged 'Internet' ↓

Letter to Congressman Regarding Net Neutrality

I’ve been entertained lately by Fox news and some other reading on net-neutrality.  So much so, in fact, I felt obliged to write my Congressman John Hall, who is in district 19 here in NY.  The last letter I wrote to him was begging him not to vote for Bush’s money for the banks bill that Congress really had no time to review.  He went ahead and voted for it anyway, which was disappointing.  Alas, I digress.  Here is the letter I sent him:

“It is imperative for the future success of our country that you form stringent opposition to Sen. John McCain’s proposals against net neutrality. Net neutrality is making the infrastructure neutral, meaning data is data no matter who put it on the wire.

Forcing people (or allowing) payment in return for priority on the national grid is absurd, and will only serve to keep and strengthen the basic oligopoly that stands to weaken and destroy our country.
Separating the infrastructure from the content providers is paramount to quality, affordable prices, and universal access to services. It is time we catch up to the rest of the world on this issue. We have gone from 4th to 15th in broadband penetration due to the policies of the last administration, and cannot afford to slip backwards any longer (even though we are still declining.) Please read the Berkman Broadband Study (Harvard University) here: http://www.fcc.gov/stage/pdf/Berkman_Center_Broadband_Study_13Oct09.pdf which was presented to the FCC for a better understanding of what the government policies across the globe have accomplished as compared to ours here in the United States. It is very well researched and makes it very obvious where Mr. McCain gets his money. They spend less, and their country gets more. The trend is not in our favor, and will only get worse if we keep or strengthen the current policies in place today.

Don’t let us down!

I try to stay informed the best I can on this issue, and hopefully when it comes time to vote, we can see some real change.  Here is the response I received from Congressman Hall:

Thank you for contacting me about “net neutrality.”  I appreciate hearing your thoughts on this issue.

Over the last decade, the Internet has grown and evolved at a rapid pace. People now shop online for clothes, cars and even groceries. People can buy music and movies and download them immediately. They can also send photos and home movies to friends and family all over the world.  The development of the Internet has revolutionized the way people communicate, innovate, and do business all over the world.

I believe that much of the Internet’s ability to spur innovation and change is rooted in the ability of individuals to enjoy equal access to a wide array of sites and services.  There is significant concern that this principle, known as “net neutrality,” could be undermined by 2005 decisions by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)and the U.S. Supreme Court that broadband Internet service is an information service as opposed to a telecommunications service, and therefore not subject to the more stringent regulations that govern telecommunications services.  Specifically, questions have been raised about whether or not telecommunications providers will be able to create a “two-tiered” internet that will allow individuals to connect to provider-owned or favored sites and services more quickly than those run by competitors or small businesses and groups that cannot afford to pay for high-speed preference.

I am concerned that compromising the principle of net neutrality would undermine the fundamental principle of open access that has fueled the growth of the Internet, and could hurt consumer choice, discriminate against sites involved in public discourse or espousing political views, and disadvantage small businesses.

I will be sure to keep your thoughts in mind as Congress considers this issue. Please feel free to contact my office whenever I might be of assistance to you.

What I am particularly concerned with, is this quote:

“the fundamental principle of open access that has fueled the growth of the Internet, and could hurt consumer choice, discriminate against sites involved in public discourse or espousing political views, and disadvantage small businesses.”

The rest of the world has been putting in place legislation that truly affords open access to the backbone, whereas our legislation has not.

If you managed to read this long-winded post (and maybe even that Harvard study linked up top in my letter), tell me what you think.

How do you feel about net neutrality?

If you care about a free and fast internet…

Berkman Broadband Study
Please visit the above link and read their pdf, a worldwide broadband review for the FCC. It outlines why the infrastructure of the United States is outdated and ultimately fails us as a society.  There aren’t enough providers because the companies who laid out the infrastructure (on our dime) also control who gets to use it, even though we heavily subsidized their implementation as taxpayers.  This Harvard study seeks to inform our government what has worked worldwide to advance other countries telecommunications policies, and why they are “winning” a technology race.

I think the only thing to get the average person in this country to get up and voice their opinion is to be scared about being behind.  If this research doesn’t wake you up and get you to vote for a better future, nothing will. Here’s to hope about getting rid of the terrible oligopolies in the US, and to a brighter future (with faster internet :D .)

Please read this and exercise your voice to the FCC about it.  People who install cable shouldn’t have the final say in who gets to use it, as they are given heavy subsidies and grants to install it.  They should be broken up into separate businesses and made to compete, like everyone else has to do.

E-Mail and Optimum Online — Updated With Response From OOL

[Looking for iPhone settings and Optimum Online?  Click here.  ]

[Looking for POP/SMTP settings?  Incoming and Outgoing Servers are both:  mail.optonline.net.  Scroll down for the outgoing settings.]

Update: Here it is, response straight from Optimum:

Thank you for contacting Optimum Online regarding your question about email. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you and will be happy to assist.  I do apologize, apart from normal unencrypted POP/SMTP there is no SSL option at this time to encrypt your connections.”

Sorry guys, that’s it.  Nothing about any if/when they might include it, or any hint of a plan to include it at all.  Unfortunate.  [/Update]

I get a lot of hits on my post here about the iPhone Mail and Optimum Online, so I figured I’d write a post on regular old computer mail as well.

The problem basically is that Optimum doesn’t allow SSL connections to their servers, either outgoing or incoming. They only allow secure log-in to their servers through HTTPS port 443 on their Optimum Webmail Portal.  I currently have a question in to them about using SSL with third party applications and am awaiting a response.  You see, on 1xRTT or 2G EDGE, it is still quite fast to download e-mails through your phone.  But in order to pass encrypted information, you would need to access your e-mail through your phone’s browser of choice (Safari on the iPhone, in my case.)

This problem extends to your mail application regardless of operating system.  I will show you how to set up an email address using Optimum Online through Mail on OS X.

Mail, helpful application it wants to be, will automatically check your connection settings when you type in your name and email address.  Poor Mail, though, fails miserably at connecting via SSL, and asks you if you’s like to continue, or setup your account manually.

So, to start setting up your e-mail (if you don’t yet have one setup through OOL, you can do so here) first open Mail.  Then open preferences with ⌘-, (holding ⌘ and pressing comma.)

Mail Preferences

Mail Preferences

This brings you to your account page, where you will begin setting up your new account.  I am using Mail on Snow Leopard, but the steps to follow are similar enough in Leopard and Tiger for you to follow along. Click on the “Accounts” tab in the top of the window, which brings you to this screen:

Accounts Pane

Accounts Pane

Once there, click on the “+” button to add your new account.  Mail will ask you for your Full Name, User Name, and Password, and then try to automatically set you up with the correct servers:

Add Account Screen

Add Account Screen

Click continue, and Mail will tell you it cannot connect securely to the servers:

Mail Password Security Warning

Mail Password Security Warning

Click “Setup Manually” so you can adjust the account settings, and begin sending and receiving your mail.  Using Optimum, you are going to setup a POP mailbox, and both your incoming and outgoing mail servers are mail.optonline.net :

Incoming Settings

Incoming Settings

Click continue, and then you want to disable the SSL by unchecking the “Use Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)” check box, but still have “Authentication” set to “Password”:

Uncheck SSL

Uncheck SSL

Click Continue, and you will be brought to the outgoing server section.  Enter a description for the server, which is something you will use to identify it in Mail.  It has no other significance.  Check the box that says “Use only this server”, as well as “Use Authentication”.  Enter in your username without the “@optonline” or “@optimum” ending, as well as your password:

Outgoing Setup

Outgoing Setup

You will then be told, once again, Mail cannot connect securely to the server.  Again, click “Setup Manually”, which takes you to here:

Outgoing Security

Outgoing Security

Leave these settings intact, and click “Continue”.  You will be shown an Account Summary screen, and both incoming and outgoing mail should say SSL off.  Be sure the “Take Account Online” box at the bottom is checked, and click “Create”.

I am waiting to hear back from Optimum about a different port or setting allowing SSL connections via third party mail clients, and hopefully I just couldn’t find the correct port to use.  If not, here’s to hoping they are working on getting SSL enabled soon!

Downloading and Installing Applications on OS X

If you are a new Mac user, switching from Windows, or just new to computers in general, you may not know there is something a little bit different in the way you install programs on Mac OS X.
Many people I know run into trouble installing applications they download from the internet, simply because they are not used to dropping an application into the “Applications” folder from a mounted virtual disk. My brother had 4 copies of Google Earth downloaded, none installed, and wondered why it was “reset” every time he tried to run it. So, for those of you out there trying to figure out why you cannot just drag the icon into the dock and run it at will, here is a tutorial made just for you.

First, download your application. In OS X, on Safari, the default location for your downloads is in your “Downloads” folder, located inside your “Home” folder. To access this location, find “Finder” on the left hand side of your dock (by default.) It looks like this:

Finder

Finder

When you click on the icon in the dock it will open a new Finder window.  You can accomplish this same task by holding down ⌘ and hitting N, or “Command-N”. Be sure it says “Finder” by the  in the menu bar, upper left hand corner of your screen.  You should see something similar to this:

New Finder Window

New Finder Window

I am currently running OS 10.6.1, Snow Leopard, but the above ⌘-N works throughout OS X.  Also, I have already clicked on the “Home” folder (looks like a house) and the Downloads folder inside of Home.  That is why they are highlighted in blue.  If you do not have this view enabled, it may look like this:

Cover Flow View in Finder

Cover Flow View in Finder

You can see the top center of the window shows my Home Folder, meaning this is the directory you are currently located in.  You can use your arrow keys to navigate down the list shown in the bottom half of the window until you get to the “Downloads” folder.  Hitting enter, however, will not get you into that folder.  You can use ⌘-Down Arrow to go into the folder, or you can use ⌘-Right Arrow to open the folder’s contents and display it in the list.  As a matter of fact, when you select any file and want to open it, using ⌘-Dn (I’ll list command-down arrow like ⌘-Dn from now on) will work.  You can also hit spacebar to see a QuickView of the file.  Yet, I digress.

So, now that you are in your “Downloads” folder, you can find the file you have recently downloaded.  I will use Google Earth as my example here:

Google Earth Download Page

Google Earth Download Page

When you click the “Agree and Download” button, you see a new “Downloads” window open, and the file begin to transfer to your computer:

File Transfer In Progress

File Transfer In Progress

After the file transfer completes, a bunch of stuff happens.  First, OS X verifies the disk image is not corrupted, and then it will mount.  A file with “dmg” after the period means “Disk Image”, which basically means it is just like a CD or DVD you would put into your drive.  If you had a physical disk and stuck it in your DVD drive, it would show up on your desktop, and you could click on it.  Same goes for .dmg files, but you don’t need the physical disk:

Google Earth Downloaded and "Mounted"

Google Earth Downloaded and "Mounted"

The download automatically verifies, and “mounts” on your desktop, just like you had a Google Earth CD and put it in your drive.  The white thing above the disk name on my desktop there is the icon for a virtual disk, or some USB drives as well.

You can also see the actual Google Earth application in the window titled Google Earth and the virtual disk picture just to the left of it.  If you close that window, the disk stays mounted on your desktop.  What you want to do now is actually install the program by dragging it to somewhere on your computer.  This is done simply by holding down the left mouse button (trackpad button, or sometimes your only mouse button) and moving it off of the window it is currently in.

I recommend always installing programs into your “Applications” folder, to keep everything nice and tidy.  Open a new “Finder” window, and below your home folder it says “Applications”. Click on the link, and it will open your “Applications” folder to the right hand side:

Installing into Applications Folder

Installing into Applications Folder

One thing to note here is above the “Applications” link, there is the Google Earth disk image with an Eject symbol next to it.  More on that in a second, first let’s install Google Earth. Get your two windows side-by-side on your desktop, and drag the Google Earth application from it’s current window and drop it on the list in the “Applications” window.  Before you let go of the mouse button, be sure there is a little green “+” sign, letting you know the file you are moving is going to be copied into this location.  If you see it, go ahead and drop it in there:

Side-by-Side

Side-by-Side

Look for the + Sign :)

Look for the + Sign :)

Now that you have installed and application, you can unmount the disk image.  First, close the window titled “GoogleEarth-Mac”.  Next you can either click the eject button next to the GoogleEarth disk in the “Applications” window you still have open, or you can click once on the disk image on your desktop to highlight it.  You can then drag it to the trash can in the dock (with turns into a big Eject button), or you can use the keyboard shortcut ⌘-E (command-e for  ”e”-ject.)

Lastly, if you want to back up your GoogleEarthMac.dmg file, you can do so.  You can leave it in your “Downloads” folder, or you can delete it.  To delete it, navigate back to your “Downloads” folder, in your home directory, and highlight the .dmg file:

Highlight the File in Finder

Highlight the File in Finder

To send it to the Trash, simply drag it there and let go, or hit ⌘-Delete.

That’s all there is to installing an application on OS X.  Once you can effortlessly find your way around the windows, installing is as easy as drag and drop!