Tag Archive | Internet access

Project Loon: Google’s Balloon-Based Internet Service Seems To Be Stalled In Sri Lanka.

by Anura Guruge


Occurred to me this morning that I really should do an update on how Google’s proposed balloon-based Internet Service, ‘Project Loon‘, was doing in Sri Lanka — given that they were supposed to start testing the service around March of this year.

So I Googled “Project Loon Sri Lanka”. NADA. Nothing since February 2016 — and I did a post on February 24, 2016. V. strange.

Then I Googled “Project Loon” and found these stories. Hhhmmm. Nothing totally disastrous but might explain the delay in Sri Lanka. Also appears that India has yet to give Google permission to try out their Helium balloons over that huge country.


projectloonstolen111

Click to access “PC Mag” story.


projectlooncrash

Click to access the U.K. “Daily Mail” article.


projectloonhealth11222

Click to access “Independent Australia” story.


Related posts:
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by Anura Guruge

Google’s Balloon-Based Internet Service — Project Loon — Gets Lift Off This Week In Sri Lanka.

by Anura Guruge


slloonfeb242016a

Click to access ‘ABC News’ coverage.


I first told you about this in August 2015.

Sri Lanka, with its fairly-roundish 25,300 square mile land mass, is believed to be the second country to be provided with this service by GoogleNew Zealand, another Island nation, having been the first in 2013.

Google will use 3 Helium filled balloons to provide this 3G speed Internet access service. It is, contrary to the initial rumors, NOT going to be FREE after the initial trials! Sri Lankan consumers will have to pay, something, to a local ISP who in turn will have to compensate Google. I guess that makes sense provided Google insists that prices are kept affordable by Sri Lankan standards.

The balloons arrived in Sri Lanka ‘under their own power’! They were floated across from South America. That is neat.


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by Anura Guruge

A Ventilated Shelf For The Linksys EA3500 And My History With Water-Cooled Computers.

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

Cisco Linksys EA3500

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by Anura Guruge


Prior related posts:
1/ Internet Bandwidth Issues With My TDS Broadband Access
Aug. 28, 2012.

2/ Unless It Is A Dire Emergency Get Your Networking Cables Online; Update On My Internet Bandwidth Woes – Getting 2nd TDS Line!
Aug. 30, 2012.
3/
TDS Highspeed (Fiber) Internet Access In Alton — It REALLY Was The D-Link Router!Sept. 9, 2012.

That my D-Link router was really screwing up my Internet access affected me deeply! It really bothered me and still does. That the problem could have been heat related upset me even more. Since our ‘office’ is in the attic of what is a 4-story colonial the heat rises. Yes, I use A/C much of the Summer as attested to by my electric bills. I pay more to cool this house than to heat it. When I had my main PC built in October 2009 cooling, in terms of fans and a good case, was the #1 priority. No, I will not contemplate liquid cooling for a PC, that is just overkill. [Around 1975, when working for IBM at Hursley, I had the privilege of working on the groundbreaking IBM S/370 Model 168. It was beyond state-of-the-art at that time. It was furthermore water-cooled! I loved that machine. At Hursley, then the largest IBM Lab. outside of the U.S., we ended up with a few of those. When we built the then very modern ‘D-Block’ they coupled the water-cooling heat exchanger of our 168s to the heating system of the building. A building heated by the heat generated by computers. This was around 1978. How cool.

I have to share this picture with you because it shows stuff that so many ‘young’ folks have never even heard of. See those TWO (2) big, black screens, with the big knobs underneath on the left. Those are MICROFICHE readers! Microfiche. Aaaah; talk about nostalgia. Microfiche was the iPad of the 1970s. In those days we learned how to use microfiche readers. So why TWO microfiche readers on a big computer. Basically to fix it when it went wrong. All of the listings of the Operating System, Utilities etc. were on microfiche. You read the code on the microfiche reader while debugging these computers. At Hursley where we were all Techies we would do this all the time. Usually as a team. Somebody calling out PSW readings, another at the microfiche reader trying to find the right chunk of code and others milling around …

The water-cooled IBM S/370 Model 168 which to me was the coolest of computers … I used to spend hours on these 168s.



Anyway back to cooling and routers.

The Linksys EA3500 is a work of art; a contemporary sculptor. No unsightly antennas and all the lights are at the back. 90% of the ventilation ducts are underneath and it is tilted so that there is room for air to circulate. Timothy Barker, the amazing TDS Tech, who fixed our Internet problems and installed the 2nd fiber line to the house said that many people use Linksys routers upside down so the ventilation holes are at the top.

The D-Link router had sat on my desk, behind my 2 monitors for 5 years. But, because of the way the phone jacks are located in this house, the 2nd fiber line was going to be on the other side of the room. So the Linksys could not be on my desk. Since Deanna has a surfeit of little tables and shelves on that side of the room I had assumed we could put it one of those. No way. Deanna wanted it out of the way. She wanted me to build a small shelf and mount it on the wall away from all her other stuff. If there is one thing I can do, that is to build shelves. 40 years of practice given that wherever I live, I am surrounded by books. The Linksys weighs less then 3 pounds. So there was no need for a ‘fancy’ shelf.

But, what I decided was to make it ventilated so as to mitigate future heat-related problems. So I drilled a lot of holes. I also mounted a piece of wood at the back so as to accentuate the routers tilt — again to increase the amount of circulation underneath the router. Also, of course, mounted it about 1″ ahead of the bracket (and I had to drill new holes in the metal brackets for that) so that we could run the cables to the router without problems. Oh, the little brass screws are my quick-and-dirty solution for making sure that the router won’t slide off the shelf. I, of late, use the screw approach often. Works and is easy. When I am really motivated I use embedded dowels, but that would have been too much for this little shelf.

One thing I overlooked. All the lights on the EA3500 are at the back! Most times, IF I want to see them, I can see them reflected off the wall — given that they are bright green. But, I will have to bring a small mirror up here. Anyway, IF you are going to build a shelf for a router think about ventilating it. Yes, for a fee I will build you one.

TDS Highspeed (Fiber) Internet Access In Alton — It REALLY Was The D-Link Router!

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

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by Anura Guruge


Prior related posts:
1/ Internet Bandwidth Issues With My TDS Broadband Access
Aug. 28, 2012.

2/ Unless It Is A Dire Emergency Get Your Networking Cables Online; Update On My Internet Bandwidth Woes – Getting 2nd TDS Line!
Aug. 30, 2012.

Cisco Linksys EA3500

I am humbled, amazed and at the same time rather pleased. It really was the router! The D-Link DIR-655 that promised so much. Wow. I am still in a daze about that.

I have had broadband, high speed Internet access for about 12 years and wireless networking in the house for about 11 years. Though it got me nothing, though I can take credit for convincing the prestigious ‘The Margate‘ to offer Wi-Fi in 2003, I was an Wi-Fi evangelist (as ever) ahead of my time. At home I tried to have the latest in Wi-Fi standards. So, I got the now de facto 802.11 n when it was still a draft standard and not supported on all devices. Hence my preference for D-Link. They liked bleeding-edge Wi-Fi technology too. Till last Thursday, September 6, 2012, I have only ever used (recommended and sold) D-Link routers. Whenever folks blamed Internet problems on my D-Link I was skeptical and until now they were always wrong.

When Union Tel. first installed my 10Mbps Fiber to the house we had, from day one, short, very annoying, Internet drops. We would lose the Internet for about 40 seconds then get it back. It would happen about 3 times a day. As you can imagine, for the first 48 hours Union Tel. consistently blamed it on the (then quite new) D-Link DIR-655. But, I stood by my D-Link pointing out that I had used it for 2 years with Metrocast and never had a problem. Union Tel. had installed the Fiber on a Friday. That was a mistake. They were in a hurry, both technicians having the afternoon off. Those two, quite old, were very nice BUT if I ever see them within 100 yards of my TDS equipment I will call the police. Yes, they admitted that 10Mbps Fiber was new to them.

It took until Tuesday for Union Tel. to belly up that THEY had an issue and it was not the poor, maligned D-Link DIR-655. They came and gave us a Static IP address (rather than us having to use DHCP). Problem solved immediately and forever. The problem is that TDS does not offer Static IP to residential customers. So I have ‘issues’ each time I talk to TDS. They get very confused.

This time around, the amazingly competent (ex-Marine) Tim Barker, proved to me that it was the D-Link. I had to agree. Bandwidth fluctuated through the router. So, given that Tim and TDS like Linksys I bought a good Linksys.

Wow. Wow. Wow. What a difference. I can’t believe that we suffered for this long because the D-Link was dying. That was a lesson for me.

No I did not try upgrading the D-Link software. The software was upgraded about 18 months ago. Though I can’t attest to it this felt to me (and to Tim) as hardware degradation — and I realized that the D-Link was running hot, in what is a hot room (though we do run A/C in this room most of the Summer). Not sure, but that the problems started soon after Teischan got a Wi-Fi Google Nexus 7 pad seems suspicious.

My biggest takeaway from this sad experience is the need to keep the router COOL. I am going to build a special, ventilated shelf for it today — BECAUSE tomorrow we, actually TDS, is moving everything around.

Yes, we are still getting a 2nd Fiber line so that we will have a total of 25Mps (about 18Mbps guaranteed) to the house. I am done with routers for my main, work computer. This computer is getting plugged in directly to the wall (though yes, there is still a TDS Fiber router on the garage wall). At least I will not have to contend for bandwidth with the kids and Deanna — and the kids suck up bandwidth with their videos and games. I will keep you updated after the cut-over tomorrow.



Suffice to say that over the last 15 days I have had a huge amount of interactions with TDS, by phone and in person. TDS tries so hard to please. They dropped the ball once but recovered quite well. The local support during that time, all done by Tim Barker, has been beyond exemplary. I used to be the Customer Support manager for ITT UK. So, I remember a few things about customer support. Tim reminds me of the best of the best that used to work for me.

Anyway, I have learned two things about TDS and their Internet Fiber service from a couple of Little Birds that shared the scoop with me. Yes, TDS has had service issues with their Fiber BUT they think they are beyond that now. But, something to me vigilant about.

The second, and more serious, is that TDS, in Central NH, is basically out of Fiber capacity! No, it is not a Finer Optic cable shortage. They have plenty. It is a Central Office equipment shortage. They have run out of ports to plug-in new Fiber customers. They jumped through hoops last week to get us our 2nd Fiber and we only got it because TDS likes us. They have plenty of Copper, but the bandwidth you can get on Copper decreases with distance from the C.O. So they relented and we are getting Fiber and the fact that I spent 40 minutes on the phone with TDS and dashed off 4 e-mails definitely was a factor. But a heads up to others. You might not be able to get Fiber from TDS for a year or more! It is a supplier issue going back to Union Tel. TDS basically has to swap out the old equipment at the C.O. and install new. That costs a lot of money and requires huge amounts of coordination — and we in central NH are but country bumpkins who wouldn’t notice drop in bandwidth (and are loath to pay for bandwidth).

Just read in ‘Popular Mechanics’ today — compared to many countries in the world we in the U.S. have relatively slow Internet access. That kills me. It should really bother YOU too.

Unless It Is A Dire Emergency Get Your Networking Cables Online; Update On My Internet Bandwidth Woes – Getting 2nd TDS Line!

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

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by Anura Guruge


Linksys EA3500 Dual Band N Router

TDS, on 4:58 pm (Eastern) on Tuesday, redeemed themselves, albeit after my 3rd call to them that day wanting to know why I was still waiting for a technician when I was promised one, the night before, by noon. Tim Barker, their local Internet guru, who I had met a year ago when he came to change my static IP-address, made an after hours call (at zero cost to me) at 6:30 pm. Tim is good. Time trouble shot the whole problem all the way from the external, on the garage wall, Fiber router all the way to my PC. Looks like it is my 5-year old, D-Link DIR-655 router. Usually I am beyond skeptical when people tell me that it is a router problem. This time it looked pretty conclusive though I am still not 100% convinced, especially after a little bird told me that TDS had had some major issues with their Fiber Internet service (but that I should have experienced those prior to last week).

Tim likes Linksys, though I have used D-Link wireless routers since 2002. I acquiesced to him, but made sure I got one of their higher end products (especially as I had a $20 off coupon) because I do know folks have had issues with the lower end Linksys products. Time was waxing lyrical about Cisco until I showed him my old Cisco employee badge from 1996! I know Cisco. Cisco’s irrepressible Executive VP of Marketing, in the mid-1990s, the man that put Cisco on the map (so to speak), Don Listwin wrote the Foreword for my third book. [I met Don, in a bar in D.C. during one of those gala, mid-1990s networking shows. I dropped a full glass of beer on his lap even before I shook his hand. He liked me ever since and jumped at the chance of writing the Forword when everybody said “Don’s too busy and important to waste time writing a blurb for you“!)

I have a habit of being able to think while I am asleep. I had trained myself to do that over 30 years. When I woke up the next day, my brain told me: ‘hey, look at getting a 2nd line so that YOU don’t have to EVER contend with router problems again’. Wow. I am a confirmed bandwidth junkie — really my only addiction. You know that old adage: ‘you can never be too rich or too thin‘. Well never having been even marginally rich I can’t attest to the first part, but I do know that you can be too thin — because I was, in 1983, when I, through dieting and exercise, reduced my weight from 210 to 135 pounds. I was skin and bones and looked like a skeleton with a translucent skin. But, I definitely stand by this adage: ‘I can never have enough bandwidth‘. This is not the first time I have opted to get two lines to the house. Many of you are probably too young to even have heard of ISDN, the broadband solution of the 1990s. It was incredibly, for the time, fast at 64Kbps. Yes, that was a ‘K’, for Kilo (meaning thousand), as opposed to today’s ‘M’, for Mega (meaning million). To get that in rural NH, Meredith to be precise, was brilliant. I knew I wanted more. I was, of course, in the networking field. Looked around and found what was called an ‘aggregating router’ — you could plug in 2 ISDN lines to it and get 128Kbps to the house. That is what I did.

I had thought about getting another aggregating router. But, opted for a different route. My main PC is getting plugged in directly into the wall, sans a router. So now I should get ALL of the download and upload bandwidth that TDS says I am getting. Yes, I will monitor it.

Putting the Linksys router on the other TDS broadband line. That will be mainly for Wi-Fi. I don’t use Wi-Fi. So that line and its bandwidth will be Deanna and the kids — and very occasionally for one of my backup machines and for Teischan’s Linux machine (which she now rarely uses after getting a Google Nexus 7 pad).

I will keep you posted on my TDS Internet bandwidth saga. Installation of the 2nd line and the switch-over is next week.  Since I use a static-IP address they will have to configure that on my PC. I have a feeling we will end up getting a static IP on the second line too.


All these changes got me thinking about cables. Ethernet LAN cables can get damaged. I have run into that. Though I don’t totally buy into the need of gold, jumbo cables for each and every application, after 30 years in networking I do know that there is a breakeven point in terms of a cable’s quality and its capacity (errors being the biggest culprit, slowing you down rather than crippling you). So I looked around for some new cables. I am not a cable junkie. Cables don’t excite me — other than the OLD, giant, 64 pin, bus-and-tag cables. That was my specialty; bus-and-tag cables. One of my longest standing clients was BusTech — where the ‘Bus’ referred to those bus-and-tag cables (from the 1960s)!

Wow, we now have Category 6 (Cat 6) cables for 100Gbps applications. Cat 5 is the standard for 10/100/1000 Mbps Ethernet. They have a Cat 5e for 1G. Cat 6, which is backward compatible with 5, is not expensive ONLINE. Plus they come in cool, bright colors like orange, red, green, violet etc. 7′ cable is $4.25 plus shipping.

Since I knew I was going to going past a BestBuy over the next few days, I thought that I would just swing by and get some cables. Just for the heck of it, I checked the BB prices. Wow. I knew BB tries to make some margins on cables. I did a few months at BB a few years ago as an Epson merchandiser. Great job. One of the best I had. Got to know BB, their procedures and quite a few of the staff (in Concord) quite well. I do not blame BB. They are working on thin margins. So they have to compensate somewhere and for that cables are perfect. If you just bought a printer you are going to want a cable, if you don’t already have one.

But, in this instance, with these Cat 6 cables I was amazed. I bought 3 cables, with shipping, for what I would have paid for 1 at BB! I went to Cables.com. I had used them a few years ago. They seem to be good. Plus, they accept PayPal. These days, unless I already have an account with the company, as I do with Amazon, eBay and TigerDirect, I will NOT buy online unless they accept PayPal. Two reasons: it is easier and safer. So that is my story. If you need cables try cables.com or Tiger(direct).com. Yes, TigerDirect is the old CircuitCity! They are good.

Internet Bandwidth Issues With My TDS Broadband Access

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

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by Anura Guruge




Normally my (supposedly) dedicated, 10Mbps to the house broadband internet access works flawlessly — just as a utility should. It is there, it is constant and it is stable. Since Friday I have been having a heck of a time. Around noon Saturday I had zero, yes ‘0’, upload bandwidth. So I couldn’t upload anything. Download bandwidth was down to about 3Mbps. It was slow.

It has been awfully erratic since then. Sometimes, as you can see from the above screen shot, I get the bandwidth I am paying for. Around those readings I am fine. Yes, I would LOVE more bandwidth. I will gladly pay more for more bandwidth. But, this another one of the travails of living in rural NH. We don’t get much choice and we don’t get much bandwidth. Oh, to have Verizon FiOS! Alas.

TDS claims to offer higher bandwidth, e.g., 25Mbps, in NH but every time I call they say ‘Ah! Not where YOU live’.

Right now I would be happy if I could just have constant bandwidth. Without bandwidth I am a fish without water. I can’t do anything on my computer. As I write I am waiting for a TDS technician to appear. I might have to call again.

I did not start off with TDS. 26 months ago, in June 2010, I signed up with our local Union Tel. for the new, dedicated, 10Mbps fiber to the house service. Sounded good and the price was very reasonable. Yes, it took them 6 days to get me a stable, reliable service — in the end they classed me a business account and gave me a dedicated IP address. Since then, until this Friday, things were good — during that time we only had one long, 12 hour, outage.

TDS bough Union Tel. shortly after I became a customer. For about a year that didn’t make a difference. Now it does. TDS telephone support really tries hard to please. But, they have NO CLUE and NO INFORMATION about my Internet service other than how much I have to pay. Yes, basically ALL they have on me and know about me is my billing information. They can’t even PING ‘their’ TDS router. Until this weekend that was OK. They didn’t have to do anything.

Now it is a problem. I am hoping they can fix this. Otherwise I am sunk, I am screwed.

I was a Metrocast cable and Internet customer for a long time, for over 11 years. I was one of their first Internet customers in the Lakes Region. Over that time I got very au fait with how their Internet access worked. 80% of the time I could troubleshoot the problem ahead of their tech. But, as with ALL utilities in Alton, Metrocast in Alton was not what it was in Gilford or Meredith. I do not know what it is with Alton but we are definitely the poor cousins. On this road with Metrocast, on a Saturday night, when most of those on the road were using their Metrocast cable, bandwidth would drop precipitously. Similar to what I am having with TDS today; difference being that I knew Metrocast cable was a shared access media while with TDS I am paying for a dedicated line to the C.O. in Barnestead.

Since June 2010 Metrocast has upgraded their service to Alton. They pulled some new Fibre and upgraded their network equipment. They now offer 25Mps download and 2Mbps upload. I just got off the phone after long, very productive, very pleasant chat with a Metrocast rep in Pennsylvania. He understands my issues. He himself has never used the 25 Mbps. He used the 12Mbps, albeit in PA. Yes, his bandwidth drops to 10Mbps on Friday and Saturday nights. That is about a 17% drop. If I get a 25% drop I will be down to 18Mbps. That will still be twice what I get, best case, with TDS. Yes, I will be paying more, but bandwidth, to me, is a necessity.

So, I might be going back to Metrocast. They are all set to send a tuck over here the next day. I also have a ‘magic’ name of a person to call to have it all expedited. Stay tuned. If you don’t see any new posts you will know that my Internet is down.

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