Saturday, July 30, 2011

Internet.. an inherent right?

Displaying the real uses of the internet, but mostly unrelated to this post.
Two Lumps Comic = awesome.
So the other day, I was going through my Google Reader and came across an article about a person who had lost their internet for 1 year because they exceeded Comcast's bandwidth limit (link here).  If you don't want to click the link, here's a summary of what they said.

Comcast has a limit of 250 GB/month.  For 3 months in a row, this person exceeded their limit, due to their use of the Cloud (for those of you living under a rock, its is like the Internet's closet that everyone puts their crap in, and you can access it from anywhere, which is what makes it so appealing).  This guy apparently loves music and uploads all of his music to the Cloud.  He is also a photographer and he shoots in really high settings, then uploads his photos to the Cloud.

Well, all his uploading/downloading/general internet usage exceeded Comcast's limits 3x so the idiot guy got his internet turned off for a year, because he thought the limit only applied to his downloads, not his uploads AND his downloads.  Pretty shitty, not gonna argue that.  He argued that since Comcast is the only internet provider in his area (Seattle), this leaves him with no speedy or legal internet alternatives (although I'm pretty sure he could find some disks if he looks hard enough, I kid, I kid... kinda).  Also, pretty shitty, agreed.  Due to the Comcast internet monopoly in the area, he started the process of escalating the issue, he wrote the linked blog post and sent it up the communication world chain, including the FCC, Public Knowledge organization, city of Seattle's Mayer's Officer, and his city council rep.

So it was an interesting read.  Then it got super interesting when I read this:
"My opinion on all this is simple. The ability to access broadband internet is a right, and should be defined as an essential utility. Just as you're surprised when you flick a light switch and the light doesn't come on so are you surprised when the internet goes away in your house. The internet is used for communication, entertainment, business - an entire panopoly of humor endevours. Just as there are protections to keep water and electricity flowing to your house, so should the internet be protected."  (link)

Really?  Arrogant "civilized" people piss me off.  He argued that Finland had passed a law making internet available for everyone and that the UN says broadband is a basic human right.  That's funny.

Don't get me wrong.  I'm so "plugged in", its sometimes painful.  When I can't get FB to load I get irritable, and I watched Teh Bear have the exact same reactions that I normally have while he was here when he couldn't access FB.  I have never thought that internet was a basic right.  Basic rights are food and water.  Things that making living possible.  Things that will kill you if you don't have them.  The writer argued that many things today are electronic only, meaning you have to have the internet in some places to get food stamps, distance-ed (university) classes, and VoIP services.  

I'm going to argue that if you need food stamps, then you probably don't have the money to pay for broadband internet to begin with.  If you are taking distance-ed classes, those are also pretty expensive (been there, done that).  And have you heard of POTS?  Plain old telephone system (yes you just got Navy-ed).  Apparently, that worked out for over 100 years.

I've lived in places (GTMO), where internet was a luxury.  A $60 a month for "high-speed" that was actually around 28ish KB/sec.  The guy in the article?  He had 15 MB/sec speed internet.  Let me break that down for you.  I had dial-up speed internet they charged me $60 for, and that was the only available option.  He had super high speed internet, which they probably charged him a similar amount for, or even if he paid more for the service, the point is that internet is optional.

He doesn't have to store all his music and large ass photo files on the internet (Cloud).  

BTW, I'm definitely a hypocrite writing this because due to a data size limit, I won't use Flickr.  They have a 300MB/month upload limit.  I found this out only because I was trying to find a place to store Go Karts photos. Beoler, our briefer/assigned crew member, shot all the photos (with my camera) while we were racing go karts around the track.  He asked that I send him the photos and gave him his email.  Well, I, too, am a photographer (or at least I like to call myself that), and I shoot in super high resolution so none of my files are small either.  I had deleted the bad photos (kudos to the guy for shooting high speed objects in low light, and not all of them turning out badly, because I'm sure I wouldn't have been as awesome).

Point of all that: internet is NOT a basic right.  Its a very nice convenience.  I'm sure that the people of Sudan are worried that if their neighbor decides to kill them that they didn't get to check their FB first.  In Bahrain, I'm lucky if businesses have a FB page dedicated to their business, much less an actual website.  Most of the world isn't on the internet kick yet.  

I feel like as Americans sometimes we get blindsided by our own lives.  We can't see past our own conveniences.  I know I'm guilty of this.  When I left for GTMO all I wanted was a real Starbuck's Double Chocolaty Chip Frappachino, then it was sushi, then it was a Texas Roadhouse steak, always it was real high speed internet.  In Bahrain, I have Starbuck's, sushi, and steak options.  I have the convenience of mostly high speed (mostly rerouted through monitoring sites) internet.  GTMO felt like living in a 3rd world country to me, mostly because I've never lived in a 3rd world country to know what its really like, but to feel legitimate want for things made it not America for me.  Granted, Cuba is actually considered a 3rd world country, but that's not the point.

Unrelated, but kinda related due to it's internet-ness.

Teh Bear had been in the air for almost 18 hours (when I wrote this), which meant that most of his journey home was complete.   But I was stalking the flight status pages, hoping that all his flights were leaving on time, not that I could tell if he was on those flights.

Because I'm now the only one in my shop with a car (such a sad story for Mr. Curly Sweatervest :( ), I make my fair share of airport runs for people going on/coming off leave.  Apparently, leaving the island of Bahrain is a desirable thing for people to do, ha.  I've become well acquainted with airline flight status pages.

United does most of the flights that I've seen so far (from America to Bahrain) and their flight status page is pretty simple.  
It tells you when the flight delayed, in air, landed, etc.  Pretty sure this updates in RT too.
 This is Gulf Air's flight status page, which is who Teh Bear flew out of Bahrain.  Only updated every 15 minutes, which was super annoying.
The circled area didn't populate until at least an hour to an hour and a half after the plane had arrived.  I had the check the Heathrow airport site to see that the flight had arrived, which was super frustrating after sitting on this page for hours refreshing.
 While in Heathrow, Teh Bear got on his to America connector, which was Continental.  So far the most awesome flight status page evar.
The plane actually moved across the line for an estimate real time position.  If I wouldn't have refreshed the page you could have actually seen where the plane was still over the water.  They also give you the status of the flight and list out the amenities for the 757 the passengers are on.  Continental, you win.


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