Net neutrality is dead, but it probably doesn’t matter


powellLast week the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia shot holes in the U.S. Federal Communications Commission’s version of net neutrality saying the Commission was wrong not in trying to regulate Internet Service Providers but in trying to regulate them as Common Carriers, that is as telephone utilities. The FCC can’t have it both ways, said the Court, and so the Feds get to try all over again. Or will they? I think events are moving so quickly that by the time this particular argument is worked out all the players will have changed and the whole argument may be moot.

If you read the court’s near-unanimous decision they leave the […]

Privacy is dead and here’s how


My friend Dave Taht, who battles bufferbloat for us all, pointed me today to a document from the Wireless Internet Service Provider Association. It’s the WISPA CALEA Compliance Guide, which details most of the rules that wireless ISPs are required to follow by CALEA — the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act of 1994. These rules, variants of which apply to all telcos and to ISPs of all kinds (not just wireless), say what those companies are required to do to comply with the law. More directly, it specifies how they can be required to intercept customer communications and relay that content to law enforcement agencies.

Read it if you have a moment. The document, which is […]

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    LagBuster makes online games play faster — even Call of Duty

LagBuster makes online games play faster — even Call of Duty

This was intended to be an update column on bufferbloat, a problem mentioned in my January 2011 predictions that is messing with our enjoyment of bad movies on NetFlix and other streaming video services. There’s good news about bufferbloat but that will have to wait a day or so because this column is about something completely different — LagBuster. If you are a serious gamer you need LagBuster.

The difference between bufferbloat and lag is that bufferbloat is mainly downstream (video server to you) while lag is mainly upstream (you to the game server). Bufferbloat is caused by large memory buffers in devices like routers and in applications like media players messing […]

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    What hath Bob wrought? Looking back at Cringely's 2011 predictions

What hath Bob wrought? Looking back at Cringely's 2011 predictions

Uh-oh, it’s almost time for my annual technology predictions but, as usual, I will begin by taking a look at my predictions from a year ago, which I fear were pretty dismal. Why I’m the only pundit to voluntarily go through this agony I don’t know, but a cursory look shows that I missed with several predictions that I still believe will happen but my timing was off.  Still, wrong is wrong.

In a rare bit of SEO-centrism last year I spread my predictions — right and wrong — over several columns.  This year might take more than one as well, because I have a few doozies. But first let’s look at how I did the […]

2011 prediction #10: Apple buys Time Warner Cable

My last prediction laid out a pretty aggressive 2011 computing strategy for Apple.  But it is just that — a computing strategy — not a media strategy, and Steve Jobs is clearly the most important media mogul on the planet right now, and maybe the most fragile.  This latter point is important, because Steve sees himself as having both a unique mission and a frail constitution.  He can’t wait to get things done, which is why the next couple years will be probably the most important in Apple’s history.

Who needs a 1,000,000 square foot data center? That’s big enough, I calculate, to support 800 million simultaneous users.  Who the heck needs a facility like that?  […]