Comcast Year-End Report Card: D

Here are some points on why Comcast is doing so poorly these days.

  • Due to an undefined bandwidth cap, many users have been banned for a year.
  • Use of throttling on P2P traffic.
  • Increased monthly costs, yet no increase in bandwidth speeds.
  • Tech support is rude and not helpful.
  • They banned me without proper notice! I documented my experience here, here and here.

Update: I just noticed that their stock was recently at a 52 week low. Who would have guessed?

Engadget SF Reader Meetup

Wow, it was pretty crazy at the Engadget reader meetup today. For the first 200 people, a 4gb Sandisk Sansa Connect with WiFi was given, and for the next 250 people, a free Flickr Pro account was given. But by the time I got there, the line was around the corner!

And by the time I actually got into the conference room, it was fully packed, and out of food! Trying to navigate through the crowds to talk to vendors was hard, and I gave up after a while because I was starving. I found it funny that people were just camping around the empty food trays, waiting for the next batch to come out. As I left for food, I saw that someone modified the welcome sign.

Hopefully next time they will have a bigger room to host the event, and better food service. And I should remind myself that if I want a freebie, I need to stand in line two hours before it starts.

The rest of my pictures can be found on flickr.

EVDO Antenna Review

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At Defcon, I bought an EVDO antenna from one of the vendors for $30. The dealer stated that I could see up to 2x the upload and download speed. After doing tests in a few cities, I can say that the antenna does increase speed.

Here are the results from my tests:

  • Las Vegas – 44% increase in downloads, no change in uploads.
  • Dallas – 30% increase in downloads, and a 39% increase in uploads.
  • San Francisco – 60% increase in downloads, and a 44% increase in uploads.

While my tests didn’t result in doubling the speed, it did provide a decent boost. And because the antenna is relatively small, I take it everywhere now. Highly recommended for any EVDO equipped road warrior.

Update: EVDO City is selling a product that looks identical to the one I bought.

WordPress WordCamp

Today was day one of the WordCamp conference held at the Swedish American Hall in San Francisco, and close to four hundred users and developers of WordPress were present. I did notice there were several live bloggers, photographers, and twitterers in the group. Of the people I knew, James Keylim live blogged, and Scott Beale took pictures.

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Today’s talks focused on how to be a better blogger. The lineup was great, from John C. Dvorak and Om Malik to Lorelle VanFossen to Matt Cutts.

First up was Dan Kuykendall on podcasting. He is the author of the PodPress plugin, and works at NT Objectives as a web application pentration tester. As he was talking about how the plugin works, he mentioned that a demo site was setup so anyone could play with it. A few minutes later, I saw this post on the site.

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I wasn’t expecting a post like that to show up, but I thought it was somewhat funny. Dan even made a comment like ‘great, a web application penetration tester gets owned during his own talk’.

Other notable topics were ‘Blogs vs Journalism’, ‘Kicking Ass Content Connections’, and ‘Whitehat SEO tips for Bloggers’. Overall, the event was a blast to be at, as the speakers were excellent and I met a lot of interesting people.

Verizon EVDO RevA Review = Mobile Broadband is Here!

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I’ve been a Verizon EVDO customer for some time now, and now that the new RevA cards are out, I thought I’d compare the two. With the older Rev0 card, I got 300-500kb/s on average, and the fastest I saw was 1500kb/s. With the newest RevA card, I get 700-900kb/s on average, and the fastest I’ve seen so far is 2388kb/s! I got the RevA average speed from doing speed tests in San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Kansas City, and Washington DC.

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All we need now is some other carriers to join to create some competition so prices will go down. But for now, I am enjoying the fast speed while on the road.

Confirmed: Verizon “Unlimited” EVDO = 5GB

Last year I wrote about a user getting disconnected from Verizon’s “Unlimited” EVDO plan by using over 5GB of bandwidth in a month. That post can be found here, and I stated that another customer found the 5GB limit in a phone brochure. CyberNet recently reviewed the Terms of Service (TOS) and found that it is stated there as well. Here is an excerpt from CyberNet’s page, with the interesting items in bold:

Unlimited Data Plans and Features (such as NationalAccess, BroadbandAccess, Push to Talk, and certain VZEmail services) may ONLY be used with wireless devices for the following purposes: (i) Internet browsing; (ii) email; and (iii) intranet access (including access to corporate intranets, email, and individual productivity applications like customer relationship management, sales force, and field service automation). The Unlimited Data Plans and Features MAY NOT be used for any other purpose. Examples of prohibited uses include, without limitation, the following: (i) continuous uploading, downloading or streaming of audio or video programming or games; (ii) server devices or host computer applications, including, but not limited to, Web camera posts or broadcasts, automatic data feeds, automated machine–to–machine connections or peer–to–peer (P2P) file sharing; or (iii) as a substitute or backup for private lines or dedicated data connections. This means, by way of example only, that checking email, surfing the Internet, downloading legally acquired songs, and/or visiting corporate intranets is permitted, but downloading movies using P2P file sharing services and/or redirecting television signals for viewing on laptops is prohibited. A person engaged in prohibited uses, continuously for one hour, could typically use 100 to 200 MBs, or, if engaged in prohibited uses for 10 hours a day, 7 days a week, could use more than 5 GBs in a month.

For individual use only and not for resale. We reserve the right to protect our network from harm, which may impact legitimate data flows. We reserve the right to limit throughput or amount of data transferred, and to deny or terminate service, without notice, to anyone we believe is using an Unlimited Data Plan or Feature in any manner prohibited above or whose usage adversely impacts our network or service levels. Anyone using more than 5 GB per line in a given month is presumed to be using the service in a manner prohibited above, and we reserve the right to immediately terminate the service of any such person without notice. We also reserve the right to terminate service upon expiration of Customer Agreement term.

Slashdot and GottaBeMobile also picked up on this story and the posts can be found here and here. Warner Crocker at GottaBeMobile sarcastically tells Verizon that he is now a customer for life.

Verizon, I will be a customer for life. Life is defined as when the duration of my existence on this planet coincides with any point in your corporation’s existence where you choose to cease sneaky, misleading, and manipultive business practices in order to make a buck. I reserve the right to protect my self from serious financial ruin, which may result from serious cash flow issues caused by your willingness to unilaterally change our agreement, and the English Language, without proper notification, or upfront and proper information being presented at the point of sale or at any time during the life of our agreement.

These tactics really get me mad, and Verizon isn’t the only big company that are playing these games. How long will this go on until a class-action lawsuit is started against them? Or because they state all of this in the fine print, it is okay to deceive in marketing, and tell customers that they have “unlimited” service?