The upside to Google Books

Knowledge sharing is a foundation to a strong society and economy. For that reason, I think it is very impressive and wonderful that libraries and companies have teamed up to share books digitally.* For example, while researching the philosophical underpinnings of public trust in our democracy, I stumbled across Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, Volume 2, hosted by Google Books. His Democracy in America series is a classic work and important for its early study of American democracy and society.

The book is also available in ebook format and other digital formats at a number of different web sites.

All digital formats have their pluses and minuses. Including book scans is wonderful because it is generally more readable than plain text formatting and does not require a specialized machine that costs $100 or more. Of course, I prefer paper to digital books but the downside to paper is the inability to quickly and easily search. 🙂

* Note, I am talking specifically about books in the public domain, and to some extent orphaned works. Despite the obvious flaws to our copyright system, copyrights are valuable to society to encourage and reward creativity.

Text messaging charges are all a sham!

Do you pay for text messages? If so, you are being scammed.

via Digital Domain – What Carriers Arenâ??t Eager to Tell You About Texting – NYTimes.com.

Perhaps the costs for the wireless portion at either end are high â?? spectrum is finite, after all, and carriers pay dearly for the rights to use it. But text messages are not just tiny; they are also free riders, tucked into whatâ??s called a control channel, space reserved for operation of the wireless network.

Thatâ??s why a message is so limited in length: it must not exceed the length of the message used for internal communication between tower and handset to set up a call. The channel uses space whether or not a text message is inserted.

Professor Keshav said that once a carrier invests in the centralized storage equipment â?? storing a terabyte now costs only $100 and is dropping â?? and the staff to maintain it, its costs are basically covered. â??Operating costs are relatively insensitive to volume,â? he said. â??It doesnâ??t cost the carrier much more to transmit a hundred million messages than a million.â?

Configuring Modem and Router for AT&T DSL

I found out tonight that my DSL problems are related to the default configurations for my DSL modem and router, which are not set properly for use with the AT&T DSL network.

Not once did AT&T tech support, in all of the calls I had with them during the past week, tell me that there are settings specific to the AT&T network that need to be set on both the modem and router. Its customer service representatives, both Tier 1 and Tier 2, knew: 1) I had a new DSL modem (because my old one crapped out last week); 2) the brand and model of the DSL modem (D-Link DSL-2320B); and 3) that I was able to get to some web sites but most others timed out (Google worked fine but Yahoo! didn’t).

In addition, traceroutes all made it look like the AT&T network was the culprit, but it wasn’t (at least not directly). What’s more, VPN to my work network cleared up any of my issues which made it look even more likely my problems were related to some bad switch or router in the central office or some regional switching facilities.

Here are configurations for the AT&T DSL network, based on the old SBC network. I’m not sure if the old Ameritech, SNET, or BellSouth network configurations are the same.

DSL Modem:

VPI: 0

VCI: 35

Protocol: PPPoE (PPP over Ethernet)

Note: If you have a D-Link DSL-2320B DSL modem, uncheck the “DSL auto-connect” box and click the next button to configure manually.

Router:

MTU: manual

[MTU] size: 1492

To think, it would have cost AT&T much less money to educate its reps that connection problems reported by customers who are using new modems (or routers) could have something to do with incorrect default settings and to provide those settings. What’s more, AT&T does not even list the configuration settings for DSL modems in its help site specifically created to tell customers how to set up a DSL modem.

I hope this helps at least one other person and that you do not go grey or lose all your hair attempting to get helpful information from AT&T. If only AT&T had real competition. This only strengthens my support for a layered regulatory framework for communications services, to replace a silo regulatory framework.

Why customers do not like AT&T

1) I got this screen while seeking help from AT&T this evening for a poor DSL experience.

[flickr]photo:2857894843[/flickr]

The telephone number this screen says I can call “24 hours a day, 7 days a week for further assistance” operates close to regular business hours.

2) I cannot use AT&T’s self-help systems because its systems do not recognize my account number. I have naked DSL and the systems aren’t built for account numbers that are not legit telephone numbers. It has been this way since I got the service. Otherwise I might have been able to check if there are local outages.

3) My DSL service has been going up and down. When up, I can only see certain web sites (Google, CNN, Westlaw, Santa Clara University, Stanford, Univ. of Michigan, AT&T, my blog) I cannot see Yahoo! or other Yahoo! web sites, MSNBC, LA Times, and most other news web sites. It is not my computer because I can use Google WiFi to reach all of those web sites with no issue. Sadly, free Google WiFi is more dependable than the AT&T DSL service I pay for.

4) When I finally reached someone, via an instant message client, I was sent a link that I’m glad I couldn’t see at the time: http://helpme.att.net/article.php?item=1. I can get to att.com but not att.net.

The rep ultimately told me to move my DSL modem away from anything that might cause interference and if that does not work to call the AT&T line repair team.

“The following are a few of the possible causes of Electromagnetic Interference on a DSL line: Halogen desk lamps near the DSL modem or telephone line, especially those with dimmers Any electrical dimmer switch Electronic devices, such as stereo speakers, PC speakers, televisions, monitors, microwave ovens, etc. Routing the telephone line parallel to an AC power cord for more than a few inches Electronic insect electrocution devices (bug zappers) Low quality 900MHz cordless telephones Any other emitter of high frequency electromagnetic radiation Placement of DSL equipment directly on a carpeted surface.”

I do not think that’s my problem. Still can’t get to certain web sites.

Dislike is probably an understatement.

Update: I pulled out my work computer and connected to its network through VPN. My work computer has none of the problems I’m having with my personal computers. They are sitting side-by-side, connected to the Internet through the same router. My work computer loads pages with blazing fast speed including all of those that I cannot access at all with my home computer. I’m afraid the lines might melt with that kind of speed. My work computer is brought down to earth when I disconnect it from VPN.  🙁

Update #2: Turns out my new dsl modem is configured improperly, but AT&T’s Customer Service reps and help site were mum on the subject of configuring it. Read more about it on Configuring a Modem and Router for AT&T DSL.

Housekeeping

I took a few minutes here and there over the past week to do some house keeping on this blog.

1) Open ID: This blog now uses Open ID. Since most people have Yahoo! Accounts (Y! Mail, Flickr, Y! Groups, etc.) I set the default to yahoo.com.

Open ID is an open standard that lets you use one account to log in across the web. Many web sites are starting to use it and the big guns (Y!, G, MS) have put their weight behind it.

If you choose to use Open ID through your Y! account, then the most important thing for you to do is to set your security image. That way you know you are on the Y! site when you give your password. Make sure it is something unique to you. I use my wife’s beautiful face on one computer and a very cool and unique photo of a flower on another.

Login with your Open ID today. (creates an account on my site)

2) Comments: I didn’t realize you needed an account to leave comments. I have since opened up comments to anyone. All you need to do is give your nickname (such as ‘db’) and an email address. Only your nickname is publicly available. Your email is confidential and available to only the admins for this blog (me and my wife).

 

3) Random Stuff: I also made some other random updates to the interface and how the page looks, now use tags, and include My Blog Log.

the man in the ten gallon hat

My wife sums up events surrounding my company this way: If you were a small time farmer having a tough time making a living in the 1930’s on a hot Texas prairie and a man in a ten gallon hat offers a big bag of cash for your land that seems too good to be true, close the door on him. You know there’s oil under those dusty fields.

As Y! shareholders, we donâ??t think the board should accept Microsoft’s offer. The deal undervalues the company. Yang and Decker took over mid-2007 and you cannot expect them to make an immediate, direct impact so soon. Hollywood is gone; Silicon Valley is back. Think of Yahoo! as an aircraft carrier trying to make a turn; it will do so slowly. More importantly, the fundamentals are strong, the company is profitable, and most recently met its numbers, even if overshadowed by the company down the road (which missed its numbers last quarter). Tech companies can and do make comebacks. Apple is a prime example. They were not cool until Steve Jobs returned and they started innovating again.

In addition, we do not want Microsoft shares if it is making such a power play for a company that will not fit well within its company. Consider the difference in philosophy regarding open source software.

Note: Before you get out of control, this is only a comment on behalf of our family, not for my employer – I don’t have enough information to ever comment on its behalf. I really do know nothing.

Video: What a downsized office does in France

AOL decided to downsize and close its office in France. The recently downsized staff made this video as an au revoir and thank you for AOL’s years long commitment to its staff. 😉 I’ve heard, but not confirmed, that the staff received a year’s severance which is required by French law.

Update: The lyrics of the song are a mix of French and English. You can get the original lyrics, as well as an English translation.

It is amazing they were able to take it in one long sequence. That shows they probably put some work into preparing for the video. They don’t dress or look all that differently from the Silicon Valley crowd.