In Case You Missed It, Netflix DID Betray The Trust Of Net Neutrality Supporters

Recently Netflix drew the ire of the incumbent cable and broadband industry by admitting that the deteriorated service experienced by customers of certain ISPs actually came from their end, with the noble goal of helping folks not blow through data caps.  Like many supporters of Net Neutrality, I was taken aback by Netflix going to bat for consumers in the war against nickel-and-diming ISPs here in America, yet stomping on consumer choice via this little scheme of theirs.  I was thinking of ending my long-running Netflix subscription after several years, but for now I’ll check out Fuller House while mulling the possibility of dumping this service for good.

Despite The Consumerist running damage control on Netflix’s behalf, there is some betrayal that has taken place here with supporters of Net Neutrality.  Despite Netflix being an optional service versus a mandatory ISP, the whole point of Net Neutrality was that consumers should have their experiences online affected only by network conditions such as congestion, or issues that would have happened anyways.  Essentially despite many opponents of “net neutrality” supposedly supporting free markets, Net Neutrality essentially sets an electronics free market for web traffic as the standard for how things are run online.

Even if done for pro-consumer reasons, Netflix’s actions betray that very idea that we choose how we want to experience online content, with network limits caused by our activity being the only potential issue.  The entire Net Neutrality debate began because of the possibility of service providers screwing with our experiences behind our back, arbitrarily, and perhaps offering us the option of paying an “extra little fee” for them to start doing their job again.

The past 5 years, however, have shown that Netflix is not to be trusted.  The first and principal betrayal of consumer trust happened in 2011 when CEO Reed Hastings decided to split Netflix from being an all-in-one service into separate subscriptions for discs versus streaming.  Big surprise – the disc business has tanked since then and the streaming catalog has dwindled too.  Time and again you’ll feel like watching something on Netflix, go looking for it, and find out that you can subscribe to DVDs to actually see it, or pay a little more for Blu Ray.  Whether you think paying at least the equivalent of a World Of Warcraft subscription for a service that once was less than $10/month is worth it is up to you, but should be plainly obvious here that it probably isn’t, especially as their catalog continues to shrink.  😛

Netflix continues to not take hints from sites like YouTube, with even basic things like the ability to change quality while watching on the fly still not being part of the Netflix UI even though I called this out among other things back in 2012!!!  So they’re worried about bandwidth caps, yet you still have to back out of what you’re watching and go to your account settings pages just to change quality settings instead of just seeing what it looks like as you watch?!!

Netflix is a dog with fleas.  It was revolutionary at one point.  These days, however, Netflix is just waiting to essentially turn into an online equivalent of a TV channel with their recent hyper-obsession with original programming.  Despite their brand recognition, I see no future for the service as anything distinct from what it once sought to compete with.

This makes me wonder just when Google is going to get serious with YouTube Red.  Forget screwy ideas like scaring PewDiePie.  YouTube has the brand recognition, infrastructure, and most importantly – UI.  It could kill Netflix movie streaming if it offered a subscription option of its existing a la carte movie rentals option.  Seriously, what are they waiting for?  Amazon Prime is already making Netflix look a little dated these days.  Imagine YouTube having something resembling Netflix streaming for X dollars per month in lieu of the a la carte rentals they already have available on the site.

Netflix continues to exist on borrowed time.  I loathe but sadly look forward to the day when we’ll hear about a “Netflix channel” in a cable package, because I know it’s coming.  Let this current deterioration of service and emphasis on original content continue, and I’m sure within 5 years tops the “Netflix” of the 2020s will bear little if any resemblance to what we’ve known them for in this past decade.

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From Sissy To Suckup – “Change We Can Believe In” At The FCC =(

President Obama has made me ashamed to live in this country, as opposed to a more tech-friendly country like South Korea.  Julius Genachowski was an embarrassment to the whole idea of government regulatory agencies during his tenure at the FCC, constantly sucking up to our crooked telecommunications giants and overseeing ridiculous assaults on Net Neutrality as well as the NBC Comcast merger that got me to refer to former commissioner Meredith Atwell Baker as Meredith Turncoat Baker after she helped hammer through the merger then took a cushy lobbying job at Comcast.  Well apparently the revolving door swings both ways.  A former industry lobbyist is now Obama’s main man to head up the embarrassing tech-unfriendly joke known as the FCC.

http://stopthecap.com/2013/04/30/change-we-can-believe-in-cablewireless-industry-lobbyist-will-now-head-fcc/

http://stopthecap.com/2013/04/22/future-fcc-chairman-tom-wheelers-fruit-doesnt-fall-far-from-big-telecoms-tree/

This is why perhaps term limits for presidents isn’t such a good idea and should be repealed.  The whole lame duck thing basically gives two-term presidents the leeway to do whatever since they’re on their way out no matter what.  Actually now that I think of it, every single lame duck president in my lifetime has done something that landed some serious egg on their face.  Ronald Reagan had the Iran Contra scandal, Bill Clinton had the sex scandals that got the US presidency made fun of all over the place (plus the Digital Millennium Copyright Act was passed under his watch in Term 2), and now we have this.  At a time when rich politicians routinely thumb their nose at the American people and dismiss us as mere simpletons who “can’t get past our cynicism” they continue giving people more things to be cynical about!!!

Seriously, we’re lucky some of the high-profile violent crimes right now can be tied to mental illness or terrorism from overseas.  Wait until people start snapping en masse and we have something like Greece or London in some of our major cities.  We’ve been out of the recession for years, the economy has been improving for years, plus Corporate Profits After Tax came roaring back not long after the financial crisis (continuing its meteoric ascent in Q1-2013), yet the job market is still a complete disaster.  Millions suffer needlessly in this country while the people floating on top run away with what’s left of this country.  But it’s the peons of America that need to “get over their cynicism.”

I’m ashamed to be an American.  Meanwhile while we can’t properly wire up this country or provide decent broadband to our people the Republic Of Korea is the most wired country in the world (plus you can technically say that their citizens are “ROKers”  🙂 ), and Samsung, one of my favorite companies out there, does more sales than many of its Japanese competitors….. combined.  Watching stuff from organizations like Arirang News, basically their CNN over there, minus the speculation-as-news nonsense like what CNN has recently been embarrassed with, you can see footage on their YouTube channel of things like people surfing the web on their smartphones in subways underground.  😛  Meanwhile, AT&T gets lampooned for their horrendous cell service in our major cities.  :-\

This lobbyist-as-FCC-chief nonsense isn’t going to improve things any.  Makes me wonder if the land of the free and home of the brave has just given up on life with how the people in Washington keep selling us out, along with our science, technology, innovation, jobs, future, etc.  =(

Sellouts!!! All Of Them!!!

…and another former TechTV geek has caved.  A few years ago I was listening to Leo Laporte’s Tech Guy show/podcast/”netcast” as he calls it and noticed quite ironically that he talked about being all pro-consumer and hated by certain tech conference organizers and tech companies for being too “pro-consumer” but then was far too soft on AT&T and the various shenanigans that ISPs pull on people these days.  Well now it looks like I can add Patrick Norton to this list.  >:-(

Seriously?  Encouraging people to just play along with Tele-Con ISP monopolists’ whimsical fantasies?  Has Revision 3 really sunk that low?  Oh yeah, I’m totally going to fork over more money I don’t have to get “business-class” internet a.k.a. less-artificially-restricted Internet service that uses the exact same infrastructure in many cases despite all the “waaaaaaaaaaaaaah congestion” crap the industry wails about.  Shameless little shills.

You know, when all this tech podcasting stuff started all those years ago, all of these RSS-downloadable shows and even the UndoTV network back in the day were supposed to be a reaction to Big Media having shuttered the one and only Tech-centered TV channel that brought us such awesome shows as The Screen Savers.  Now it looks like after years of growth of this “alternative TV network” that they’ve become the very thing they once stood against.  It’s like that movie I saw years ago where middle-aged school administrators at either some school or college had some line about how back in the 60s they stood against “The Man” now they are “The Man.”  😛

I mean, I used to be able to watch Tekzilla in HD on demand thanks to my RSS program, but then AT&T hopped on the capwagon.  Oopsie doopsie.  Crappy SD YouTube videos for me from this point forward.  😛

These sellouts don’t even know just how much this very thing they’re being all nice about damages their own livelihood.  Anyhoo, for geek coverage of America’s Broadband Kerfuffle that actually calls a spade a spade, just go to StopTheCap.Com instead.  😛  Have a nice day.  😛

Sissychowski’s Going Away – FINALLY!!!

From FreePress, apparently FCC chairman Julius Genachowski is calling it a career there.  Hmmm….  Wonder if he’s going to do the revolving door thing and end up as a telecom lobbyist.  😛

http://www.freepress.net/press-release/103103/fcc-chairman-genachowski-step-down

http://business.time.com/2013/03/22/fcc-chairman-julius-genachowski-stepping-down-after-contentious-term-reports/

This day couldn’t have come soon enough.  This guy is an embarrassment to the world of technology.  A complete and total bobble-headed blubber-spined shill for the runaway telecommunications companies that have hijacked American broadband and sunk us in the world rankings for infrastructure, bang-for-buck, and quality of service.

The Sissychowski Era as I should probably call it saw horrendously watered-down laws about Net Neutrality all-but destroy the concept in our government, allowing ISPs to suck every last nickel and dime out of people’s nearly-empty pockets during the Great Recession and jacking up the price of broadband even as ISPs’ costs of delivering it plummeted.  This also was the era where Meredith Turncoat Baker took the offensive in ramming through the NBC-Comcast-Universal merger then stepped down to become a mucho-lobbyist at Comcast.  Revolving door anyone?  😛

This pathetic excuse for an FCC under Genachowski has been one of the big reasons why I haven’t taken the Obama Administration seriously on hardly anything, along with Steven “$8/Gallon Gas By Any Means Necessary” Chu at the Department of Energy.  Now that both are on their way out let’s just hope that the successors have some actual gray matter in their heads that they’ll actually want to use to actually do their jobs well, instead of stuff like the FCC chair kissing up to the regulated and attending posh get-together parties….errr…. industry conferences.  😛

Today, American Broadband continues to languish and become unaffordable, while companies nickel-and-dime people with either bundle nonsense or smartphone kerfuffles, at least when they’re not trying to gain the legal precedent and authorization to abandon things like DSL, reliable wired phone networks and broadband, etc.  The new FCC chairman should be nothing short of a hardliner on these issues.  If the Obama Administration can find someone who fits that role, I might actually have some respect for this administration for the first time ever.

It’s not like the Democrats can’t do it either.  They found a way to send Senator Elizabeth Warren to the Beltway.  Now we just need someone like that in charge of the FCC so consumers can at least pretend to appreciate regulatory agencies instead of having lawmakers sabotage and de-fund them then have Libertarian attack dogs jump all over what’s left going, “See?  Government sucks at everything!!!  Just shrink the government!!!”  😛

The American Consumer has put up with the whole Tele-Con thing long enough.  Hopefully the President appoints someone that people can actually respect this time around instead of setting Washington up for more revolving-door scandals.  One can only hope.  It’d be nice to see some sanity restored to the oversight of this foundational technology of the Information Age.

For more stories on this type of stuff, I recommend StopTheCap.com.  🙂

Regarding The Passing Of Aaron Swartz

As a testament of how much my job has been running me into the ground over the past several months, my recent appearance on Out Of Continues Episode 59, as much of a technical mess as it was, was where I found out about what happened to Aaron Swartz, a very passionate technologist and outspoken advocate for internet and information freedom who took his own life earlier this month.  I never really ran in too many of his types of circles techwise, but the minute I found out about his ties to RSS, that was something to tip my hat about.  RSS, or Really Simple Syndication, was one of those things that revolutionized the Internet by allowing for so many things that have made the Internet into a successful form of mainstream entertainment, such as podcasting, vidcasting, blogging, etc., to work.

For those who aren’t all that geeky, what RSS does (and this blog has an RSS feed) is allow you to use an RSS reader to subscribe to stuff, which flips the traditional model of the World Wide Web in reverse and makes things much easier.  In the early days of the web, you had to know what you wanted and know where to look to find the information you were looking for, usually accompanied with a ton of long page loads because things were via dialup back then.  🙂  I vividly remember those bad old days of trying to look online for stuff on my high school library’s clunky old computer with its 28.8k modem (not even 56k lol) that kept cutting me off with no message whatsoever so suddenly my Netscape Navigator web browser would just stop working (yeah – that long ago lol) and I’d think the Internet had broke.  😀

Search engines such as Google helped change that a bit but you still had to know what to search for, so the process still began with you, plus you had to know how to Google really well to get decent results.  RSS on the other hand finished that switch by allowing people to subscribe to stuff online and then have the option of having stuff delivered to them instead of having to go look for it every single time, so with news for example if I really liked XYZ News reports I could subscribe to their RSS and see the stories every time I opened my RSS reader instead of having to constantly go to their website and see if there were any new stories.

This alone gives me reason to tip my hat to the late Mr. Swartz, but his defense of internet and information freedom only multiply that several times over.  He was a big defender of things like Net Neutrality, opponent of things like SOPA and PIPA with their “chew the meat spit the bones” style of combining internet-crushing regulation with noble-sounding ideas like protecting US trade secrets.  So what happened to him?  Here’s Hak.5’s report on it.

What we had here was grey area on both sides.  Was what Aaron did with JSTOR right?  Was what the government did in response the right thing to do?   Depends on who you are in both cases.  One thing that I hope everyone can agree on though is that there is a war on to crush the freedom of information even in this so-called “Information Age.”  Our schools are infected with these philosophies and worldviews today that discourage critical thinking and thinking for oneself and even the concept of objective information, rights/wrongs, etc., instead focusing far too much on people’s subjective internal feelings and expression, until of course someone breaks a law and gets arrested, at which point their own feelings on whether certain “wrong stuff” is right goes completely out the window.  😛  We have legions of people, including politicians and other people who can vote on things, who don’t think for themself and can’t even debate a simple point.  Meanwhile also in society today are legions of lobbyists, other politicians, people with money, etc., who seek to take advantage of the aforementioned folks who don’t think for themselves or can’t articulate a point in civil debate to twist things in their favor.  …and in the middle of this?  Information – and its freedom – constantly in the crossfire.

I mentioned on Out Of Continues that if the state of internet and information freedom contributed to Swartz’s suicide I can see why.  Broadband, after a decade of progress going from dialup to broadband and limited to unlimited access is now under siege from power-hungry and money-hungry interests all over the place who want to limit what information can be seen online while squeezing every last penny out of people’s already near-empty pockets.  It’s almost like these people want this decade to undo the last decade or two and bring us back to the bad old days.  Will anyone stop them?  Depends on how many people out there know what’s really going on versus the bobbleheads who don’t think for themselves who get fleeced and patronized by the people causing all of these problems.  In any event though, with how things are today, if Swartz was in any way further depressed by this sort of stuff it’s rather easy to see why.

The only hope that any geek can have right now is that this man’s death won’t be in vain, and that the discussion of the old saying, “Information longs to be free” will fire up even more following these events.  =(

Out Of Continues Episode 59 – A Comcastic Exercise In Utter Frustration

My latest appearance on Out Of Continues was quite a mess indeed.  I probably owe some people an apology for this.  😛

From the very beginning, this podcast was a blooper reel waiting to happen (interestingly enough, outtakes were omitted from the final show recording  :-P).  Not long into the show, Stafa mentions, “Take two!” because it really was take two for us.  We recorded the first few minutes or so before his Comcrap cut the Skype call (at least the first time) then found out the hard way that the recording software screwed up too (d’oh!), then wound up doing a mulligan and managed to hammer out the show in-between disconnects, though not without Comcrap and Skype making me sound like a complete and utter moron by lagging me out at precisely the worst times and killing a lot of my points in the process.  Quite a Comcastic experience indeed!  😛  (Assuming of course that AT&T in my neck of the woods didn’t contribute too much to this mess, though interestingly enough I’ve found over the years that AT&T Connecticut actually does a decent job around here in terms of service and uptime even with “legacy” rural area DSL.)  Ahhh North American Fraudband.  Maybe our telecommunications market should be opened up to overseas competition so some Korean ISPs can come over here and show our Telecom Overlords how REAL internet service is done.  😛

Then there’s the title, which was supposed to be “Used Games Or Cheap Games?” questioning whether what we gamers call “The War On Used Games” was really simply our war for cheap games driven by selfishness on our part, but because this was a continuation of our discussion on said war on used games, that wound up as the title, so voila two episodes with the same name in the RSS feed that might make folks go, “Say What?” or maybe even think Stafa was doing a “Best Of”/Re-run episode here.  😛  Ultimately though, that didn’t matter because Stafa had so much news that the “main discussion” and news commentary wound up being roughly equal in terms of time and amount discussed, so this show ended up being more like one of my podcasts.  😀  Of course, the news segment didn’t happen without him doing a classic S-blooper where if you say a word ending in S before a word that starts with S it sounds confusing (in this case, listeners might have thought “several news segments” sounded like “several new segments” and thought we were radically changing up the show format lol).  It’s one of those stupid things you don’t notice when recording until you play it back afterwards, then realize why studios have producers to let the hosts know when this happens on the spot so they can address it, putting us amateurs doing this stuff on our own at a disadvantage.  😛

I’d say though that more than anything that we did, it was the ISP issues that shot this show in the foot.  Stafa mentioned to me earlier that he’s been having these kinds of disconnect problems on a regular basis lately, and I’ve noticed this same kind of thing in previous shows where I’ve Skyped in and lag basically killed my points by lagging me out at precisely the right times to make me sound like a moron, and this is with AUDIO ONLY.  We weren’t trying to do any kind of fancy video thing or Google+ hangout here, so it’s not like these networks couldn’t handle the bandwidth (for comparison and hard numbers, online radio stations are usually only 8-10 kb per second after initial buffering when you first start streaming).

This, my friends, is why I’m so regularly enraged/depressed at the whole Tele-Con problem with broadband here on this continent.  When in the year 2013 doing a simple audio recording over the Internet is as much of an ordeal over broadband as it would’ve been over dialup 15 years ago, something’s dreadfully wrong with the state of this technology and society/government’s handling of it.  (Oh yeah.  I went there.  Our dysfunctional-at-least-in-terms-of-broadband FCC isn’t getting off the hook.)  Hey speaking of fraudband, I wonder what’s new on Stop The Cap! these days?

Stop The Cap! – Cable Industry That Makes 90%+ Margin On Broadband Now Says Caps Are About “Fairness”

…yeah.  =(  The saga continues…  =(