I'm sure many readers of Maximum PC--this one included--have jumped onboard the Google DNS ship, lured either by promises of increased speed versus one's own DNS server or a simple fascination at anything Google does. Fair, at least with the latter. Because it would be erroneous to just switch over to an alternate DNS server without any kind of assessment that what you're doing is actually the best-case scenario for your home or office setup.
That said, it's important to first give props to Google for delivering a DNS service that appears to be free of any kind of takeovers or unexpected redirects. Just try hand-pounding your keyboard after clicking on your browser's address board, then hit enter. If the resulting "fasdfljsajdf.com" isn't actually a Web site, you'll notice how... nothing happens, save for the standard "what are you doing?" error page (depending on your browser of choice). That's a bit different than OpenDNS, which routes you over to one of its own landing pages--oddly, a rebranded version of Yahoo! search--that's stacked with advertising related to whatever it is you mistyped. Weak.
Redirects aside, it's important to know exactly what you're getting into when you start fussing around with going a step beyond your ISP's default DNS servers. Like a tangible product review, you should really assess what you're gaining and losing through the use of either OpenDNS or Google DNS from both a performance and features standpoint.
After the jump, I'll share my own personal results with using both Google DNS and OpenDNS, and show you exactly how you can figure out the best-case scenario for your own browsing needs!
Remember when Juliet told Romeo that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet? We suppose the opposite must also be true, and America Online, whether abbreviated AOL or Aol, is still, after all, America Online.
The ISP on Sunday previewed its new brand identity, which it describes as a simple, confident logotype. The full identity won't be fully unveiled until December 10, when AOL common stock begins trading on the NYSE.
"Our new identity is uniquely dynamic," said Tim Armstrong, CEO of Aol. "Our business is focused on creating world-class experiences for consumers and AOL is centered on creative and talented people -- employees, partners, and advertisers. We have a clear strategy that we are passionate about and we plan on standing behind the AOL brand we take the company into the next decade."
Judging by the all-caps used throughout the press release, the new Aol branding looks to apply only to the company's "ever changing" logos, which were developed by branding outfit Wolff Olins.
Have you heard? Comcast is raking in cash like no one’s business. The internet service provider reported today that their net earnings for the third quarter amounted to $944 million. That is a 22% increase year over year. Some of this comes from cost cutting, but Comcast has seen substantial subscriber increases as well.
Comcast saw a 2.7% decrease in the number of TV subscribers, but that was offset by large increases in internet and phone service. Overall internet subscribers grew 6.4% to 15.6 million, while voice accounts grew a staggering 20% to 7.3 million. Overall, Comcast’s customer base grew 3.4% to 46.8 million.
With these strong numbers, Comcast seems more able than ever to proceed with plans to acquire a stake in NBC. No new announcements have been made, but reports suggest that the ISP wants to move into the media space with a controlling interest in GE-owned NBC-Universal.
Yikes - it was discovered that a vulnerability in a Time Warner cable modem and WiFi router being used by 65,000 customers makes it possible for a hacker to remotely access the device's administrative menu and wreak havoc, To deal with the problem, Time Warner said it hopes to have updated firmware from the router manufacture to push out to customers soon.
"We were aware of the problem last week and have been working on it since," said Time Warner spokesman Alex Dudley.
"From within your own network, an intruder can eavesdrop on sensitive data being sent over the Internet and even worse, they can manipulate the DNS address to point trusted sites to malicious servers to perform man-in-the-middle attacks," Chen wrote on his blog. "Someone skilled enough can possibly even modify and install a new firmware onto the router, which can then automatically scan and infect other routers automatically."
Time Warner said it is working to find out if the same or a similar vulnerability also affects other models.
It was no surprise today when Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski gave a speech on Network Neutrality. In the speech, at the Brookings Institute, Genachowski suggested formalizing the FCC’s “principals” of neutral networks, making them official policy. The FCC Chair proposed two specific rules. The first would prevent ISPs from slowing any specific type of Internet traffic. This would, however, still allow for reasonable network management practices. The second rule would require ISPs to be completely transparent about what sort of network management practices they were using.
Network Neutrality has been of more mainstream interest since congressional hearings on the subject began a few years ago. Amidst all the talk of “a series of tubes’, very little got done. Now Genachowski is making his case in no uncertain terms. “I am convinced that there are few goals more essential in the communications landscape than preserving and maintaining an open and robust Internet,” said the FCC Chair. He went on to clarify that the proposed changes would also apply to wireless providers.
For their part, ISPs are almost universally against the changes. They claim that Net Neutrality requirements would prevent them from managing their networks. Genachowski attempted to assuage their fears, explaining that violations of the proposed rules would be handled individually. The FCC will begin seeking public input and feedback at its meeting in October. So, do you feel we need regulation to ensure a neutral Internet?
Australia’s Internet Industry Association (IIA) has released a new set of guidelines designed to limit the effect of malware infected computers. The non-mandatory code of conduct instructs ISPs to contact owners of infected PCs and provide advice to fix the problem. Failing that, the ISP may even cut service to the affected PC.
IIA spokesman, Stephen Conroy, points to a recent government program to get users to change their passwords as evidence that not enough is being done. "I think there's about two or three websites doing exactly the same thing and they all assume you've got to log on to the website. It's kind of like a web 1.0 style approach," said Conroy.
Many in government and industry welcome the proposed rules, but some worry about cost. Would ISPs actually be able to deal with the added costs of contacting users and walking them through a malware cleanup? Australian ISP iiNet said it would be happy to adhere to the new standards, if the process could be automated. So, would this policy help, or would droves of customers find themselves disconnected without explanation?
Congressman Eric Massa, who represents New York’s 29th district, is taking a stand against what he sees as an abusive industry: broadband providers. Having recently written a bill, which he plans to introduce to the U.S. House of Representatives, he’s hoping to give the Federal Trade Commission the authority to veto ISP data capping plans.
“Volume-based pricing is detrimental to our economy,” stated Representative Massa at a press conference. “I became aware of this issue when Rochester doctors said it would have a catastrophic impact. They rely on broadband for their professional work, and pricing would triple their bill. Volume usage charges for broadband Internet access that are substantially above cost in a market without sufficient competition constitute an unfair and unconscionable practice, as substantially above-cost pricing has anti-competitive and anti-consumer effects on Internet use.”
He also continued, stating that if we don’t remove data capping plans on ISPs, we could stunt the growth of online video, and potentially hurt “agricultural, medical, educational, environmental, library and nonprofit purposes” as well.
Representative Massa reportedly features tough competition from his colleagues, who support the ISPs and their lobbyists. Still, he remains vigilant.
So here's the deal: You don't want 101Mpbs broadband. And because you don't demand ultra high-speed internet, you're not the least bit impressed with Cablevision's recently announced Optimum Online Ultra, which will offer Long Island, New York residents uncapped 101Mpbs starting May 11 for $99 per month. Heck, if you cared at all about such high speeds, Verizon would have been offering a similar package two years ago, but you just don't.
Don't agree? Tell it to Eric Rabe, senior VP of Media Relations for Verizon, who posted a blog downplaying Cablevision's high-speed announcement. Rabe had some interesting things to say, essentially calling the service a sham.
"With today's technology, you don't have to break much of a sweat to deliver 100Mbps to a few customers," Rabe wrote. "But given the inherent limits of the cable platform, a cluster of bandwidth junkies living near each other could be a real problem. One estimate is that a single 101Mpbs customer would use some 60 perent of the capacity in a neighborhood. Other users? Outta luck."
Rabe went on to ask "How many customers have been storming the castle, asking for 101 megabits per second bandwidth?" Considering the lack of demand and scope, Rabe called Cablevision's announcement a "parlor trick."
And why stop at 100Mpbs? Rabe points out that Verizon's FiOS network has the capacity to deliver 400Mbps to a single home, along with the muscle to carry the load. It also has "plenty of room for more" upstream bandwidth than the 20Mbps it currently offers.
It wasn’t long ago that numerous tech news sources (including us) reported on Time Warner’s miniscule bandwidth caps, and it would seem that all this press caught the attention of some higher ups within the ISP.
Landel Hobbs, Time Warner Cable’s Chief Operating Officer, wrote a lengthy reply to those that had reported on the matter. “Some recent press reports about our four consumption based billing trials planned for later this year were premature and did not tell the full story,” he states. “With that said, we realize our communication to customers about these trials has been inadequate and we apologize for any frustration we caused. We’ve heard the passionate feedback and we’ve taken action to address our customers’ concerns.”
The post continues to paint a picture where the ISP is stuck in a situation where the growing demand of the Internet causes them to charge such enormous rates and cap users at such small amounts of bandwidth. The post divulges, “…at Time Warner Cable, consumption among our high-speed Internet subscribers is increasing by about 40% a year.”
Strangely enough, at a later point where Mr. Hobbs is dissecting the reasoning behind a very small, very cheap 1GB capped plan for $15 a month he mentions, “Our usage data show that about 30% of our customers use less than 1 GB per month.” Hm.
Self-contradictions aside, the reasoning behind capping the bandwidth does hold some water, it’s just unfortunate that they should come at such colossal prices. If you’re interested in reading the whole message, be sure to check it out here.
Some users of Netflix’s streaming service have groused about dwindling performance in recent times. The dip in performance has not only nettled users but also engendered speculation as to its cause. The most plausible conjecture is that video streams are being deliberately throttled by Netflix.
“Also, routing to different ISPs in the same region may be quite different, thus performance may also be quite different, even for neighbors, if they are connected to different ISPs. Moreover, congesting points can rise and fall with ISP configuration changes and other conditions,” Hunt wrote.