Comcast to stop throttling BitTorrent

Comcast has changed its method of throttling bandwitch from targeting apps to just targeting high network traffic. This new “protocol-agnostic” will temporarily throttle heavy users if their area of the network is experiencing heavy traffic. “customers’ accounts must exceed a certain percentage of their upstream or downstream (both currently set at 70%) bandwidth for longer than a certain period of time, currently set at fifteen minutes.”

Here’s more information on the change as well as their FAQ.

10 reasons why you should use Mozy for your computer backups

Mozy Backups
There are a lot of backup services out there on the internet so I thought I’d do a quick writeup of my favorite. Here are 10 reasons why you should use Mozy Unlimited Backup for your computer backups.

  1. Ease of use – Their software is easy to setup. After the inital setup, there is zero effort required by you for your backups to function. If you do need to restore a single file, it’s easy: just browse to it in your backup list and restore it. If you need to restore all of your files, you can grab a zip file of all your files from their website.
  2. Cost – If you have less than 2GB of files to backup, the service is free. From 2GB and up, the service is $4.95/month. That’s right, for $4.95/month, you can backup unlimited files (on a single computer.)
  3. Cross platform – Works on both Windows and Mac (and I heard they’ll have a Linux version someday, but I’m not getting my hopes up.)
  4. Security – All communication is done over SSL (just like your banking websites.) In addition to that, your files are encrypted prior to being sent over the internet (and are stored encrypted.) If you’re extra paranoid like me, you can even use your own key to encrypt the files. But beware if you use your own key it will be required to restore files – even Mozy won’t be able to help you restore files without your key.
  5. Past file versions – Let’s say you butchered some changes to a file and wanted to get back the version you had 3 days ago. With Mozy you can do that!
  6. Doesn’t slow down your computer – The resources used by Mozy are small and you can custom configure them even further so that it will run when your computer is idle. I prefer to schedule backups to run in the middle of the night so they can use all of my internet bandwidth to get the backups done quickly (I leave my computers on all the time.)
  7. Block-level incremental backups – Don’t doze off at the techno-jargon. This is particularly useful if you are backing up your huge Outlook .pst file (or any larges file that you may have.) Any time you receive an email, that huge file is modified. Other online backup services will require that the entire file be uploaded during a backup. With Mozy only the changes to the file are uploaded, thus decreasing backup time and bandwidth usage.
  8. Durable company – Mozy is owned by a very large data storage company (EMC is worth approx.$20B.) They’re not going away any time soon.
  9. Your hard drive is going to die – When it comes to hard drives, failure isn’t a matter of if, but when. That external hard drive you’re using for backups right now is going to fail. If your house burns down, it will die a horrible death at the same time as the hard drive in your computer. You need your data backed up offsite.
  10. My mother uses it – She’s been using it for over a year now, and if Mozy is good enough for her, isn’t it good enough for you?

Getting Yammer to work with IM on Google Apps for your domain

Our company uses Yammer so everyone can stay in touch and post status updates easily. One problem we’ve had is that the IM component wouldn’t work with our google talk accounts (we use Google Apps for our domain.) I discovered here that all we needed were some additional entries in DNS.
After following that doc, our settings for that service are as follows (trimmed for readability):

$ dig SRV _xmpp-server._tcp.familylink.com.
...
;; ANSWER SECTION:
_xmpp-server._tcp.familylink.com. 600 IN SRV    5 0 5269 xmpp-server.l.google.com.
_xmpp-server._tcp.familylink.com. 600 IN SRV    20 0 5269 xmpp-server1.l.google.com.
_xmpp-server._tcp.familylink.com. 600 IN SRV    20 0 5269 xmpp-server2.l.google.com.
_xmpp-server._tcp.familylink.com. 600 IN SRV    20 0 5269 xmpp-server3.l.google.com.
_xmpp-server._tcp.familylink.com. 600 IN SRV    20 0 5269 xmpp-server4.l.google.com.
...

$ dig SRV _jabber._tcp.familylink.com.
...
;; ANSWER SECTION:
_jabber._tcp.familylink.com. 600 IN     SRV     5 0 5269 xmpp-server.l.google.com.
_jabber._tcp.familylink.com. 600 IN     SRV     20 0 5269 xmpp-server1.l.google.com.
_jabber._tcp.familylink.com. 600 IN     SRV     20 0 5269 xmpp-server2.l.google.com.
_jabber._tcp.familylink.com. 600 IN     SRV     20 0 5269 xmpp-server3.l.google.com.
_jabber._tcp.familylink.com. 600 IN     SRV     20 0 5269 xmpp-server4.l.google.com.
...

After making those changes, I was able to go into my yammer account and add my google talk account like normal. I assume the same thing will work with Twitter, if you use a google apps account for that (assuming IM is working on Twitter, which it hasn’t for months for me.)

It’s an easy fix for Yammer with your Google Apps account. I’m also in the process of setting up yammer for my family’s domain so we can stay in touch more easily. I think the thing I love most about Yammer is that I can send/receive updates from my phone.

Keep an eye out for some upcoming blog posts about ways to stay connected with your family (hint: Yammer is one of them)

Free Online Budgeting with Quicken Online!

Quicken just announced that Quicken Online is now free. It was previously just $2.99 month and was worth every penny. Now you have no excuse to not start budgeting online.
For $0.00/month, you get:

  • automatic transaction download from your bank/credit card accounts
  • bill reminders and alerts (I like to have alerts setup so I’m notified if any transactions come through over a certain dollar amount)
  • mobile access to your current account information through any internet enabled phone
  • and more…

They say they have some cool new features in the works (to be released at the end of this month.) I’ve been using it for about a year now and really like its simplicity and accuracy. Now I really like its price.

Check it out!

iFolder on Kubuntu Gutsy (7.10)

Snowy RocksI’ve been using iFolder for a few years now and am now in the process of switching my desktop from SuSE 10.1 to Kubuntu Gutsy. I was a little saddened that I couldn’t find a native ifolder package for ubuntu, so I had to compile it myself.

I found these instructions and my own are almost identical. I found a few things that I had to do differently.

  1. Install dependencies – These are the dependencies I found were required.
    sudo apt-get install libmono-dev mono-xsp mono-gmcs libflaim-dev libflaim4.1 liblog4net1.2-cil build-essential automake libxml2 libxml2-dev libtool gtk-sharp2 gnome-sharp2 arch-buildpackage gtk-sharp libeel2-2 subversion gettext libstdc++5 libgtk2.0-dev
  2. Make a directory for all the source code (I used ifolder-src in my home dir.)
  3. Download the source code – from within your new directory, run:
    svn co https://forgesvn1.novell.com/svn/ifolder/branches/ifolder_3_4_sled10sp1/ifolder
    svn co https://forgesvn1.novell.com/svn/simias/branches/ifolder_3_4_sled10sp1/simias
  4. Build Simias – I like the idea of putting all this custom compiled stuff into one location (to make cleanup easier if necessary.)
    cd simias
    ./autogen.sh --prefix=/opt/ifolder
    make
    sudo make install
  5. Prep to build iFolder – There are a few things you need to do to get ready
    cd ../ifolder
    edit src/LinuxClient/application/iFolderApplication.cs and change “TrayIcon” to “Egg.TrayIcon” on (or near) lines 68 and 144.
    add a symlink for the arch command
    sudo ln -s /usr/bin/setarch /bin/arch
    cp /usr/share/gettext/config.rpath .
  6. Build and install iFolder
    ./autogen.sh --prefix=/opt/ifolder
    make
    sudo make install

Done!
iFolder can now be run with this command /opt/ifolder/bin/ifolder
If you want to make pretty link to the application on your desktop, you can use the iFolder image found here: /opt/ifolder/share/ifolder3/images/ifolder128.png

One Laptop per Child

OLPC systemDo you want to buy a cool laptop for less than $400? This thing is durable, easy to use and can be charged with a hand crank or solar panel (it also looks kinda cute.)

The One Laptop per Child project is one that has interested me for a while. Not only have they worked hard to make these laptops inexpensive and durable, but they run Linux and are easy to use!

There is a ton of stuff that is cool about how these laptops can interact with each other. They seem to be ideal for any classroom environment. Currently, they have a special “Give One. Get One.” program running. Between now and November 26, you can donate $399 to the program ($200 of which is tax-deductible) and they will send you a laptop as well as send one laptop to help children in a developing country. As an added bonus, “For all U.S. donors who participate in the Give One Get One program, T-Mobile is offering one year of complimentary HotSpot access” (normally $39.99/mo.)

Gmail news – Storage increase and IMAP

RivetsTwo big things in the news about Gmail…

  1. Storage Increase
  2. IMAP support

Gmail Storage Increase
It looks like there’s been a slight jump in the amount of email you can have in Gmail. Reports are that the limit was somewhere below 3GB earlier this month, and now it’s at 4379 MB for me.

IMAP access to Gmail
This is one thing I’ve been waiting for for a long time. It isn’t currently an option for my account, but I’m told it will be soon. They’re rolling out IMAP to everyone. What is IMAP? Well, it lets you access your email and the entire directory structure (which I assume will be your filter structure in Gmail) from a client application, like Thunderbird, Outlook or VersaMail(palm.) This is especially helpful if you have multiple computers that you use to access email, such as at home and work.
I assume it will even allow you to upload email to Gmail too, since you can normally just drag and drop email into your IMAP folders. I’m excited to test it out!

It’s official, Comcast is messing with your internet traffic

This is interesting timing for this article to come out about Comcast blocking traffic.

Comcast is messing with TCP handshakes

Just yesterday, one of my clients contacting me saying that everyone in their office couldn’t get email. I manage the server which hosts their email. I quickly checked my email to see if it worked for me (it did.)
Eventually in the troubleshooting process, I had them hit the website which resides on the same server. No dice. I have quick access to 2 other systems which use Comcast, so I logged in and tried connecting. One worked, one didn’t. I also got reports of some sites not working from other people on Comcast connections yesterday.

In analyzing the problem, I found that connections weren’t being established from these “problem” locations. The filtering was happening with the handshake. A 3 step handshake goes like this:

  1. Computer1: “Hello, Computer2 are you there?”
  2. Computer2: “I’m here. Computer1 are you there?”
  3. Computer1: “I’m here.”

Then things start to run over the connection. Here is a more technical description of TCP connections. Yesterday I watched the network traffic coming and going from my server and found that Comcast was filtering step 2 so that the first reply never got back. What a bunch of jerks.

I’m guessing that the cause of this is that their peer-to-peer filtering monster that went out of control and started blocking legitimate traffic (I don’t run any P2P software on any of my networks.)

I signed up for an Internet connection, not a Comcast-filtered Internet connection. I wish I had other options where I live. I’m rooting for Utopia and will research my ISP options thoroughly if we ever move to a different house.

“This computer has not been authorized…”

For a while now, I’ve been getting this error when I try to put music on my mp3 player from Rhapsody: “This computer has not been authorized to play Rhapsody subscription tracks. To authorize, select My Account -> Authroize Computer from the Rhapsody menu.”

I would do what it said and keep getting that message every time.
Continue reading “This computer has not been authorized…”