Elliott C. Back: Internet & Technology

Amazon.com Promoting Internet Explorer 8?

Posted in Amazon,Browsers,Microsoft by Elliott Back on April 17th, 2010.

I was browsing Amazon shopping for a random item when I came across the following advertisements promotion Internet Explorer 8 as the “optimized for Amazon” way to “click, shop, and browse.” Check out the following ads, which showed up for me when I was using the Chrome browser:

While Amazon no doubt has the right to promote whatever browser it prefers, allying itself with Microsoft’s Internet Explorer is the worst choice. Google Chrome is on the up-and-up, innovating a new faster web browsing experience, and capturing market share from Microsoft and Firefox. While Microsoft might be able to pay cash for coveted ads on Amazon’s massive web properties, Amazon, a company founded on Open Source software should be supporting and nurturing other open source technologies. Webkit might be the next renderer in it’s third-generation colour Kindle tablets–a technology that Google has heavily contributed to through its Chrome project. In the long run, Amazon would be better served promoting the open source software that powers its commercial success.

How To: Monitor Your Internet Bandwidth Usage

Posted in bit torrent,bittorrent,Computers & Technology,DSL,Internet,P2P by Elliott Back on July 17th, 2008.

Knowing how many gigabytes a month you’re using can be important if you have a metered internet connection, or your ISP measures your bandwidth and charges you if you go over. I know many Universities in the US have implemented bandwidth-overage charges (which students decry as unfair and stifling) to help combat bittorrent P2P filesharing, which will sap even a wide broadband connection. So, whatever your reason, you may want to see what applications are using bandwidth on your PC. The following instructions are for Windows XP / Vista.

The solution is to download and install NetLimiter 2 Monitor, a free application for bandwidth monitoring. If you like it, and want the ability to shape your internet traffic (limit the bandwidth used per application), you’ll need to pony up and buy the full version. Note that it uses the Win PCAP libraries to capture internet traffic, you may need to install them if you don’t already have them.


The main monitoring tab shows you how much you’ve uploaded and downloaded per application, in real time. For example, in my screenshot I refreshed the firefox tab I was working on, so you see Firefox using 99% of the activity. Steam, a gaming platform from Valve, is always chittering to their servers, so you see a .01 kbs from them.


The statistics tab is where it gets useful, telling me I’ve downloaded 95 GB this month, and uploaded 49 GB. You can also click on an application or time period and get detailed statistics across either of those dimensions. Fantastic!

Verizon FIOS High-speed Internet Review

Posted in DSL,Internet by Elliott Back on August 2nd, 2007.

Right now I’m having 15Mb / 2 Mb Verizon FIOS high-speed internet service installed. It’s $49 / mo but available in my new home in Staten Island. Time Warner’s road runner, which I had before, cost me the same after their 6 month introductory price expired, and only offered 7 Mbs down / 384Kbs up. They also had some service issues, occasional downtime, and once they “accidentally” physically disconnected my service.


FIOS is interesting, because it’s fiber optic high speed internet. This means they have to physically send people to your home to string fiber. The guys that are here now are nice, fairly professional guys. They strung black fiber down the hallway, drilled a hole in the upper corner of my studio room for the wire, and then strung and stapled the black wire around the room to where they’re going to connect it to their router-like endpoint. After that they just have to splice the wire they strung into the main system running into this building and I’ll have super fast internet.

Looking around the internet, all I see are glowing reviews:

  • “Well I finally had FIOs installed at my house, and let me tell you it is well worth the money!” [src]
  • DSL reports has 637 positive reviews to 22 negative, with six month rating of 85% [src]
  • “If you can get FIOS, its definitely worth the time and hassle to switch. Dealing with their 800 number can be frustrating, but the service quality is still good.” [src]
  • Macworld can’t shut up about how great it is, heh.

The bad reviews are hilariously empty of any real information or complaint, and read like bad trolls:

When it’s working, it’s nice … but right now my 14.4K modem over a noisy tin can string would have better throughput.

In a few minutes when it’s installed I’ll be able to run a speed test for you and let you know if FIOS can, in the short term, deliver the download speed it claims.

Update: It can. Not only does the NYC Speakeasy speed test report 10 Mb/s down and 1.8 Mb/s up, but a popular application like Azureus confirms that you can attain these speeds in real life. Don’t believe? Here’s the proof:


And that’s with a firewall turned on! Niiiice.

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