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BitTorrent traffic is no different from email traffic

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 29-Jan-2008 08:29

There's something in the air with Slingshot indicating they are planning to shape "manage" peer-to-peer traffic within its network and through to connected networks.

Peer-to-peer (or P2P) is a technology that allows large files such as video and music to be distributed over the network in a very efficient way, with computers sharing pieces of files from different users - or peers.

This is different from a centralised model, because it doesn't need the central server to be always available, and it's faster because it does not consume the total upstream bandwidth from a single central server at once.

Software companies are increasingly using P2P technology to distribute their software and patches, usually in the ISO format, which is a single file image of a DVD or CD contents.

Peer-to-peer traffic is also successfully used for voice-over-IP (VoIP) for example, with Skype being a prime example.

But ISPs don't like P2P. For one because they claim it overloads their network due to the exponential increase in traffic.

So those ISPs try all they can to "manage" or reduce the available bandwidth for P2P applications using special hardware and software that analyses the packets flowing through their networks and throttling the speed.

This is all good if the ISPs provided "unlimited" network traffic in New Zealand. But not many plans offer this option, and most charge users for a limited amount of traffic every month.

What you as a user does with that limited amount is your problem. If you use 50GB with email, or 50GB browsing the web, or 50GB downloading large files it doesn't matter. It is still 50GB.

Now it appears Slingshot wants to go and limit what everyone can do with their Internet connections. The news came in an article on Stuff (ISPs try to turn torrent) and people are confused and not happy with this:

The junior telco [CallPlus] has invested in Cisco equipment that will let it "throttle" the bandwidth available for BitTorrent traffic, sources say.

It is estimated that 60 to 90 per cent of all Internet traffic is now made up of videos, TV shows, music and software that is stored on people's PCs and shared around the world using peer-to-peer services, of which BitTorrent - with 160 million registered users - is the most popular.

CallPlus chief executive Martin Wylie says the company is "always trying to manage the experience of all customers as best we can".

But Mr Moore says the growing popularity of peer-to-peer services has eroded the experience of web browsing for many people over the past two years and ISPs should not be afraid to say they are taking action.

When email was first "liberated" to the masses no one predicted the uptake it would have. And today billions of messages are exchanged every year, and most are spam. ISPs are battling this problem, but they had to increase their infrastructure to cope of the messages. It's natural of their business.

The same goes with P2P. It's just another tool, like email, and it is responsible for most of the traffic on the Internet now, it seems. So it's up to the ISPs to improve their infrastructure to provide the service users want - not to restrict them.

Again, if someone pays for a plan with 50 GB a month, then it is up to me how I use it. The ISPs is going to receive the monthly payment for these 50 GB regardless of kind of traffic - email, web, ftp, newsgroups, P2P.

From the same article:

Mark Rushworth, chief executive of Vodafone-owned ISP ihug, says peer-to-peer services were once the preserve of tech-savvy Internet users but new services such as LimeWire that are easier to use have encouraged take-up by the mass-market.

"Peer-to-peer and people embracing video makes it harder for ISPs to have flat-rate `all you can eat' plans."

If ISPs are serious about providing a service they should charge for it accordingly. A real, unlimited, all you can eat, plan is available from Actrix. It costs $596/month - and I hear it's worth it.

If someone wants something cheaper they should find a plan that allows a base usage and then the purchase of additional data blocks. Two examples of this kind of plan is the Xnet Fusion plan that allows users to buy additional allowance at $1.02 per GB, or th Slingshot Extreme, which provides 6 GB to start with and then users can purchase data blocks - up to blocks of $40 per 50 GB.

But again, these are paid for and should not be limited. Bits are bits and if they are part of an email, web page or anything else it doesn't change their nature.

ISPS shouldn't limit in any way how users put those data blocks to use, regardless of those being additional to a plan or part of an "unlimited" plan. ISPs shouldn't call "unlimited" a plan if they have no intention to offer unlimited utilisation.

If they were driven to offer "unlimited" plans at cheap prices and have no intention on following on their promise, well, they didn't plan well, did they?

How to select a PDA (humour)

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 27-Jan-2008 09:44

This video shows how you select an appropriate PDA for your use:

Mobile numbers are gigantic compared to PCs

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 25-Jan-2008 20:58

Last week I posted a news item on Geekzone, "Worldwide PC market grows 14% in 2007". And it just happens that both Sony Ericsson and Nokia have released their 2007 reports and the numbers are staggering.

In the PC market report, Gartner tells us 271.2 million PC were sold in 2007. HP was the number one company with 18% of the worldwide market, followed by Dell (14.3%), Acer (8.9%), Lenovo (7.4%) and Toshiba (4%). The research firm counted desk-based PCs, mobile PCs and X86 servers.

Then I looked at the mobile phone industry numbers. Nokia alone reports 1.14 billion units. Sony Ericsson sold about 100 million handsets. Apple alone sold 4 million of its just release Apple iPhone, compared with about 10 million computers sold by Toshiba around the world.

Now we are not talking about other manufacturers such as Sagem, Samsung, Sanyo, Kyocera, HTC, etc...

It puts the whole "content distribution" problem in another level, doesn't it?

Geekzone planned outage

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 25-Jan-2008 20:29

Geekzone will be down to allow us to have an additional HDD and a CD/DVD drive replacement installed. This means all forums, blogs, and the news section.

The service will be unavailable Tuesday, 29 January 2008 from 11am for 30 minutes. Check this link for other timezones.

The new HDD will allow us to create a mirror and increase the site availability in case of a drive failure.

Internet peering and local content cost

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 25-Jan-2008 12:28

I was going through the InternetNZ mailing list today and noticed a couple of comments submited to the Internet Peering report from December 2007.

This is the Executive Summary from this report:

2. Executive Summary
2.1. Findings and Investigations

2.1.1. In March 2007, InternetNZ formed an external group (the Group) to investigate industry solutions around issues of Internet peering and local data interconnection, and hereby presents its findings.

2.1.2. Differences in what is meant by the word “peering” and emotive responses flowing from historical events can be overcome by defining as far as possible what peering means, or by referring instead to local data interconnection where possible.

2.1.3. The cost of transit appears to be high within New Zealand relative to that in comparable countries around the world. This would appear to be a significant driver of dissatisfaction around issues of interconnection, and many such issues might evaporate if the cost of transit were to reduce substantially.

2.1.4. The availability of complete and reliable traffic statistics for the Internet both within New Zealand and in and out of New Zealand appears to be impossible to obtain. Many sources have partial information, but these partial sources are often misleading and are responsible for creating much misinformation about what is actually happening in the Internet.

2.1.5. Take-up and delivery of rich media content is hampered on two levels. From the content provider’s perspective high national transit cost leads to hosting of content offshore and from a consumer’s perspective, lack of differentiation between national and international traffic charges limits the volume of rich content that consumers can access at reasonable cost.

2.1.6. There is no recognition that local traffic is cheaper to deliver than national traffic or international traffic. This may change if a local data interconnect proposal that Telecom is proposing to the market is successful. Success for that proposal would lead to a different peering model that would enable New Zealand consumers to react positively to the emergence of rich media content, and which we would expect would be supported by telecommunications firms and ISPs.

Now read one of the items in the comments submitted from Vodafone:

5. Consumer Pricing Strategies
The report suggests consumer pricing strategies that differentiate between national and international traffic might encourage a greater take-up of New Zealand-sourced content. Do you agree?

No. ISPs have done this in the past and it made no discernable difference. The cost of international content is approximately double that of national and that is not enough difference to lead to a real change in behaviour. This challenge is firmly in the hands of producers of local content.

And this is what TelstraClear has to say:

It is not clear how the creation of separatep ricing for local and intemational traffic would benefit end users, or how it could be effectively implemented.

Back to some comments from Vodafone:

2. Cost of Transit
International benchmarking suggests the cost of transit is relatively high in New Zealand. Do you agree? Specifically, is there a market failure or evidence of SMP (significant market power) with regard to the cost of transit? Should government conduct an investigation regarding the price of transit? And finally should Government regulate the price of transit?

Yes the cost is high, primarily due to lack of competition. Much of whatever competition that exists is regionally localised. However, we do not see a need to regulate price and do not see the need for an investigation unless it is done with a solution in mind, such as public investment into areas where competition is lacking.

3. The state of networking - lack of reliable data
The report highlights the difficulty in having any informed debate about the state
of networking in relation to local, national and international data interconnection in New Zealand, without access to reliable Internet traffic data and statistics.

Do you support the need for an initiative that would collect and make available on an aggregated basis, New Zealand Internet traffic flows and volumes? If so who should collect that data? Specifically; the Telecommunication Carrier’s Forum, Commerce Commission, Ministry of Economic Development, InternetNZ, or other?

Vodafone/Ihug does not see this as a high priority. If such information was collected it should be kept confidential with only high level aggregate data made public. We don’t have a strong preference for which organisation would do this but note the Commerce Commission has responsibility under the Telecommunications Act for reporting on the performance of the telecommunications market. Any such information flow could perhaps be facilitated by the TCF Information Reporting working party.

The peering report is 84 pages long, so I suggest you have a read and draw your own conclusions.

Linux is actually Windows - preposterous otherwise

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 22-Jan-2008 07:33

This is just too funny... Someone posted this on ZDNET:

Are you saying that this linux can run on a computer without windows underneath it, at all ? As in, without a boot disk, without any drivers, and without any services ?

That sounds preposterous to me.

If it were true (and I doubt it), then companies would be selling computers without a windows. This clearly is not happening, so there must be some error in your calculations. I hope you realise that windows is more than just Office ? Its a whole system that runs the computer from start to finish, and that is a very difficult thing to acheive. A lot of people dont realise this.

Microsoft just spent $9 billion and many years to create Vista, so it does not sound reasonable that some new alternative could just snap into existence overnight like that. It would take billions of dollars and a massive effort to achieve. IBM tried, and spent a huge amount of money developing OS/2 but could never keep up with Windows. Apple tried to create their own system for years, but finally gave up recently and moved to Intel and Microsoft.

Its just not possible that a freeware like the Linux could be extended to the point where it runs the entire computer fron start to finish, without using some of the more critical parts of windows. Not possible.

The original actually is here, where you can find other "gems" of knowledge:

Hey, I’m new here. A while ago I tried to talk to a bunch of people on another board and they were telling me Linux is not a Windows program. I’m here to prove them wrong.

Linux will have to find a way to work under Vista from here on, since it wont be able to rely on XP being readily available anymore.

Linux may seem like a good alternative to Office, but all that is happening in linux is that the windows interface is cleverly hidden away. It still needs the drivers and software services in order to run, and in most cases - that happens WITHOUT a valid windows licence.

This is just plain piracy.

Another probable reason for the failure to install is because your machine was running too fast - linux works best on machines around the 1GHz mark, and would be very unstable running on a 3GHz machine.

If this is linkbait, he succeeded brilliantly. Otherwise I would say someone forgot to take the meds...

Features I would like to see on Windows Media Center and content

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 21-Jan-2008 13:46

In my previous blog I described how I put Windows Media Center on my Mac mini, and what plugins I am using. In this post I will just expand the previous topic with some of my requests for on-line content and interface features.

As a large screen, entertainment-oriented user interface, Windows Media Center is really good. It is intuitive and it works well from the distance you will probably have in your lounge.

But my first "must have" is an EJECT option in the UI. This new option would actually eject media inserted in an optical drive. Hw innovative!

As described before the Mac mini doesn't have an EJECT button, and neither does the Microsoft Media Center remote control. And there isn't an EJECT option in the Media Center interface either. 

Lucky the plugin MyMovies has an EJECT option. But this should be there, just after "Watch DVD".

Next is the content itself. While having a plugin such as Yougle allows you to watch YouTube, MSN Soapbox and Apple Quicktime movie trailers, I realy want movie rental downloads in New Zealand.

And I don't mean something that uses a browser, but an actual Media Center interface (better if the service offers APIs so others can create plugins for other software and devices) that would allow me to browse the catalogue, rent and download the movie directly from Media Center without having to ever see a web browser.

Then comes the infrastructure. People who are fortunate to live in a cable modem serviced area with speeds of 10 Mbps or more or even ADSL2+ should have no problems in downloading a full length movie in just under one hour.

But providers should make sure the servers aren't in Australia or somewhere else.

They should be here in New Zealand for fast delivery. And the ISPs should help fostering this by for example not charging traffic to these specific servers or charging a fraction only as "local traffic" - like TelstraClear used to do in the old days.

Then it's on-line TV. I don't like to have another box for cable TV. I don't want to have a sattelite dish on the roof. I want an all IP solution. Providers, deliver IPTV now and integrate with Media Center. TVNZ, you can enhance TVNZ On Demand to provide this. Make it come to my lounge. I don't want in the browser!

Again, make an API available so that people can develop plugins for other devices or software. And make sure you have XML feeds with your programming guide.

Microsoft could and should help too by creating incentives for local companies to invest in the media industry.

And again Microsoft, where's the damn EJECT button in the remote control?

Windows Media Center on an Apple Mac mini

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 21-Jan-2008 12:36

After moving our digital media collection to the Windows Home Server, my plan involved using some sort of a networked digital media player to be able to stream this content inside the house - mainly to our lounge.

This is nothing new here because we already have a Squeezebox, but that works with music only.

I found references to some interesting products - the Popcorn Media Tank for example - that included music, photos and video, but I wanted something easy to use, with wireless LAN support - and most importantly something that didn't look like an IT departement had landed in our lounge.

So I thought of using Windows Media Center, based on Windows Vista Ultimate.

Just one problem though and that is most of the PC cases are either too big, or noisy because of the fan requirements, too costly when part of a completely new PC, or simply plain ugly.

So I thought I should look at the temple of modern computing design, Apple. And I ended up settling on a Mac mini. Mind you this is not the first Mac in this house of Windows. But this is a special one, because it is the first computer in the lounge (except for laptops sometimes).

The best thing about the Mac mini is certainly the size and design. It doesn't look like a computer and it's not much bigger than a paperback. I choose the smallest one with 1.83 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 1 GB RAM and 80 GB HDD - no need for large storage because everything is on the Windows Home Server.

So I ordered this on-line from the Apple Store and had it delivered next day (sorry DSE, but your sales guy in Featherston St missed a sale by being dumb and not allowing the one you had there to be transferred to my local store in Johnsonville).

Anyway, I was really impressed with the small box delivered to my door. I opened it and in less than ten minutes of the initial Mac OS configuration I was running Bootcamp and installing Windows Vista on this machine.

Windows Vista installed really fast and all the drivers were delivered with the Mac OS DVD that comes with this box. I installed Avast antivirus, Daemon-Tools and configured the box to use Windows Vsta as the default OS.

Basically if it runs on Windows Vista it will work on this hardware - including ReadyBoost.

The next thing was the installation of a few Media Center plugins and the first three were MyMovies, Yougle and Media Center RSS Reader.

Yougle allows you to play social media content from sites such as YouTube, MSN Soapbox and others - including Apple Quicktime trailers! The Media Center RSS Reader is obvious.

But the most important plugin was MyMovies. It allows you to create a database of the movies you own and then cross-reference movies, actors, directors, etc on the big screen. You can find a biography and then check all the movies you own where that actor worked. It will also automatically load the movie for you before playing. And it solves a big problem too...

You see, I installed LogMeIn so I could manage ths box from my laptop because it does not have a keyboard and mouse - only the Microsoft MCE Remote Control. But there's no EJECT button in this remote control and there's no EJECT button on the Mac mini either! MyMovies solves this problem because it lists the movies in your database and the movie currently in the DVD drive - including an EJECT option.

Overall I am really happy with this setup and even over wireless LAN it can play DVDs streaming from the Windows Home Server with no problems at all.

UPDATE: Just to be complete, I've posted a couple of features I'd like to see to enrich the Media Center experience...

TelstraClear 25 Mbps service delayed - no surprise there

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 21-Jan-2008 08:30

Just over a month ago I asked in my blog where was the 25 Mbps upgrade TCL promised for December 2007.

Not to my surprise we did not get any official comment neither on the blog itself or in the Geekzone forums where there's a TelstraClear account which they could use to let people know things.

Today I found out on Stuff that the upgrade is not coming until mid 2008 for Wellington:

TelstraClear expects to offer 25 megabit per second broadband connections to customers of its Wellington cable network by mid-year.

The lightning-fast 25Mbps plans should be available in Christchurch next month, says spokesman Chris Mirams.

TelstraClear had originally promised the faster broadband plans last year. Mr Mirams says the upgrade was held up by the availability of equipment that has only recently become available, and which arrived in New Zealand shortly after Christmas.

Palm releases Windows Mobile 6 update for Treo 750v New Zealand

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 18-Jan-2008 09:41


It took sometime but it's here now: Windows Mobile 6 update for Treo 750v Vodafone New Zealand.

I don't know why it took so long but this is a must have update for your Palm Treo 750v (New Zealand only!). I haven't tested it yet (a friend is using my Treo 750v at the moment), but I am told it provides improved Calendar management, Voice Commande over Bluetooth, USB cable charging and the much expected HSDPA update!

You can only download it once and you must be running a Vodafone-branded Windows Mobile on your Palm to update it.

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Mauricio Freitas
New Zealand

I live in New Zealand and my interests include mobile devices, good books, movies and food of course! 

I'm the Geekzone admin. On Geekzone we publish news, reviews and articles on technology topics. The site also has some busy forums. Also worth visiting is TravelTalk NZ, a community for travelers!

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If you want to contact me, please use this page or email me Note this email is not for technical support. I don't give technical support. You can use our Geekzone Forums for community discussions on technical issues.

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