General Exception

In the Spam Crosshairs

We’re in the crosshairs of a very aggressive comment spammer. Last night, I noticed we had 800+ spam comments in our comment spam queue, which had accumulated in a week or so. I’ve set up a bunch of WordPress plugins to spot fake comments and filter them out.  Usually, we get less than 5 spams in a busy spam week, and many weeks it’s 0. I cleared it out only to find 90 more spams in the spam folder this morning.

Of those nearly 1000 spams, precisely 1 made it through the spam filters and showed up attached to a post. So, that a success rate of 0.01%. I think that pretty much qualifies as an epic fail on the spammer’s part.

Read More »

Posted in General Exception | Tagged | 1 Comment (Comments closed)

Tales of the Sausage Factory

My Handy Guide To The May 15 FCC Meeting: What The Heck Is An Open FCC Mtg And How Does It Work?

Even before Chairman Tom Wheeler proposed to issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on possible new net neutrality rules to replace the ones vacated by the D.C. Cir. the May 15 Open Meeting of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) promised to be one of the more important meetings in recent memory.  As a result, it has become one of the more contentious in recent memory as well.

 

In addition to the net neutrality NPRM, we have an Order deciding key issues for the upcoming incentive auction (aka the 600 MHz auction, aka that really complicated thing where we pay broadcasters to get off spectrum they got for free by simultaneously selling it to wireless companies for mobile broadband). This mega item has two fairly important side pieces from my perspective: the future of unlicensed use in the TV broadcast bands (aka the TV white spaces (TVWS) aka “super wifi” aka “engineers will never be allowed to name anything ever again”) and possible limits on how much spectrum any one company can acquire (aka the “no piggies rule” aka spectrum aggregation policies aka “lawyers are not allowed to name anything ever again either”). The TVWS item has its own satellite proceeding about wireless microphones and coexistence between wireless mics and unlicensed use in an ever shrinking broadcast band.

 

So for those of you first timers, and those of you who have gone so long without a contentious FCC meeting you’ve forgotten how it’s done, I’ve prepared this helpful guide on “what is an open FCC meeting and how does it work.”

 

Mechanics of the meeting below . . .

Read More »

Posted in Life In The Sausage Factory, Series of Tubes, Spectrum, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Tales of the Sausage Factory

Tom Wheeler and the Defining Question of Network Neutrality

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler caused quite a stir last week when he circulated a new Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on network neutrality. As reported by the press, the proposed rule moves away from generally prohibiting wireline broadband providers from offering “paid prioritization” (aka Internet “fast lanes”) to explicitly permitting wireline providers to offer paid prioritization subject to conditions designed to guard against anti-competitive and anti-consumer conduct.

 

Needless to say, this pleased just about nobody. Supporters of network neutrality regard paid prioritization as intrinsically anti-competitive and anti-consumer by making the Internet experience dependent on the ‘commercially reasonable’ deals of the network provider rather than the choice of the subscriber. By contrast, opponents of net neutrality oppose any limitations on what ISPs can do as “regulating the internet.” To employ a crude analogy, network neutrality supporters see Wheeler’s proposal as roughly the equivalent of teaching the rhythm method in sex ed, while opponents are outraged that Wheeler would teach anything other than pure abstinence.

 

What Wheeler has done here is to frame the defining question of network neutrality. The upcoming Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) gives those of us who believe that paid prioritization is the opposite of net neutrality and an Open Internet the opportunity to make the case. Even more importantly, Wheeler has now confirmed that the May 15 NPRM will ask whether the FCC needs to reclassify broadband as a Title II “telecommunications service” so that the FCC will have sufficient authority to create real and effective network neutrality rules. (You can see Wheeler’s blog post setting out his proposed approach here, and his aggressive speech in the veritable heart of enemy territory — the 2104 Cable Show in Los Angeles) here.)

Read More »

Posted in Series of Tubes, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment (Comments closed)

My Thoughts Exactly

Wetmachine has a new baby sister! And so does Acts of the Apostles!

Well, what I mean is, I’ve finally set up JohnSundman.com as a place to discuss, promote, wax ecstatic about, and, mainly, Real Soon Now, sell direct to you, dear friends, my hackertastic philosopho-literary tales of the technopotheosis. It’s not nearly as nice as it soon will be, but on the other hand it does exist, which is (as my pal Gary Gray will attest) something.

TOO-ALSO, my ancient chef-d’oeuvre Acts of the Apostles has been cloned, and the new instance has thereafter been given an oil change, face lift, new transmission and a stern talking to and rechristened Biogigital: A Novel of Overmind Emergent. For the next month you can get it (ebook only, DRM-Free) from Unglue.it. So please do check it out.

Posted in General, infotainment, My Thoughts Exactly, Writing | Comments closed

Tales of the Sausage Factory

Appreciation: Professor Robert B. Seidman RIP: 1920-2014

On April 3, 2014, the world lost a true giant of the public interest. Professor Robert B. Seidman, of Boston University law school died of heart attack in his home in Milton, MA at age 94. With him was his wife of more than 65 years, co-author, co-professor, and all around partner in every sense of the word, Professor Ann Seidman. You can read a far too abbreviated obituary here, see his CV here, and a list of publications here.  None of these, of course, come even vaguely close to capturing Bob’s importance in the world generally, or in my life personally.

I’ll insert this video here where Bob and Ann explain their work. I try to put some of what Bob did and what he taught me below  . . .


http://youtu.be/iTc5f8Qv-o8

 

Read More »

Posted in General, International, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Comments closed

Tales of the Sausage Factory

Transcript of Wheeler’s full Statement At FCC Meeting

Because no one else has posted it anywhere, I have transcribed below the relevant portion of Wheeler’s responses to questions at the March 31 FCC Press Conference following the meeting.

Read More »

Posted in Life In The Sausage Factory, Series of Tubes, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Comments closed

Tales of the Sausage Factory

My Insanely Long Field Guide To Understanding FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler Statement On Peering.

At the press conference following the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) March 31 Open Meeting, Chairman Tom Wheeler made the following observation:

 

“Interconnection is part of the Network Compact.” Peering “is just a $3.50 word for interconnection.”

 

Wheeler followed up this statement by explaining that there was a difference between “network neutrality” and the “open internet” on one hand and “interconnection” as the ‘path to the Internet’ on the other hand. While government has a critical role in monitoring peering/interconnection to protect the values of the Network Compact, it isn’t a network neutrality issue. You can see Wheeler’s full statement here (Start at 144:45 – 147:23 has unrelated stuff in middle).

 

After the meeting, the FCC released a separate statement that they really mean it when they say that they aren’t going to do peering as part of the Net Neutrality rules. While Brendan Sasso at National Journal gets points for noticing that “the FCC could decide to enact separate regulations on the issue or force Comcast to accept new rules in order to receive permission to buy Time Warner Cable,” most folks I’ve read in the press have broadly interpreted this as indicating the FCC will not look into the Comcast/Netflix dispute or complaints by Cogent and Level 3 about large edge-providers squeezing them for higher interconnection fees.

 

Personally, I think most people are totally misreading this. Wheeler’s statements make it look more likely to me that the FCC will start looking closely at the Internet peering market, not less likely, especially as part of the Comcast/TWC deal. Indeed, Comcast’s Chief Lobbyist David Cohen, who ranks in my book as one of the absolutely smartest and most effective telecom lobbyists ever, has already started backing away from earlier statements that regulators would ignore peering issues and that he expects them to look at the Comcast/Netflix deal. (Unsurprisingly, Cohen also said he expects regulators to find no problems with the deal and called Netflix CEO Reed Hasting’s arguments that this eviscerated net neutrality “hogwash.”)

 

Below, I will rant at considerable length that (a) Wheeler is right, this is not a “network neutrality” issue, but the same goddam interconnection issue that we have struggled with for more than a hundred years in every networked industry from railroads to electricity to broadband; (b) The FCC needs to actually look at this and study it and understand how the market works before it makes any decisions on what to do; and, (c) While Wheeler is not saying in any way, shape or form he actually plans to do anything before he has real information on which to base a decision, he is signaling — for anyone actually paying attention — that he is, in fact, going to actually look at this as part of his overall transition of the agency around his “Fourth Network Revolution” and “Network Compact” ideas.

 

 

While this last would seem pretty basic and obvious, it represents a significant change in policy from the previous insistence that IP magic pixie dust obscures all things Internet and makes them invisible to the FCC. Whether I agree with what Wheeler ultimately does or not — and I have no idea what he might ultimately do here, he could decide the market is competitive and working just fine — I don’t believe Wheeler is going to go around with his eyes and ears covered blathering about the magic nature of the Internet. I think Wheeler is actually going to check under the hood and see what actually makes the damn thing tick — and Comcast is just the company to help him do it.

 

Much ranting below . . .

Read More »

Posted in Life In The Sausage Factory, Media Ownership, Series of Tubes, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment (Comments closed)

Tales of the Sausage Factory

Phone Number Stability And The Neustar-Telcordia Fight, Why The NANC Meeting Makes Me Nervous.

[Unrelated Wetmachine Update: We now have email alerts back. You can also follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook. Never miss another extremely dense, wonky telecom blog post again! We now return to our actual content.]

I confess I have become something of a nervous Nellie about telephone numbers.

 

Boring, humdrum, 10-digit numbers that sit at the base of the telephone system. Most of us never think about how they work. But we rely on them for a Hell of a lot. Contrary to popular belief, what defines the “public switched network” (PSTN) is not a particular technology or means of transmission, but the use of phone numbers in the North American Numbering Plan (NANP) (47 C.F.R. 20.3).

 

Which is why I worry about the upcoming meeting of the North American Numbering Council (NANC) on Thursday. Folks expect that the NANC will address the the current fight between Neustar and Telcordia (now owned by Erickson) to become (or remain) the Local Number Portability Administrator (LNPA) when the current contract with Neustar runs out in 2015. While no one without a financial stake in the outcome (outside a handful of wonks obsessed with phone numbers) has followed this much, the possibility that we may create a destabilizing tug of war around the maintenance of phone numbers during the IP Transition gives me serious tummy queasies when I think about it.

 

At the same time, I recognize that any delay ends up favoring the current incumbent LNPA (Neustar) and that as a pro-competition guy I would like to see Telcordia give Neustar a run for the money and not get subjected to endless delays.

 

But . . . . tummy queasies! Possible meltdown of the phone system and stuff.

 

Details below . . .

 

Read More »

Posted in Series of Tubes, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Comments closed

General Exception

Email Updates Are Back!

So, not only do we have working RSS feeds (which is pretty surprising, since I didn’t know I fixed them… I guess I must have been sleep admin’ing again…) we also have the ability to send out email alerts for new posts!

To get Wetmachine email:

  • If you are already logged into a Wetmachine account (or you’ve logged in using Twitter, Facebook, or other popular social media sites), just go on over to your Profile page and click the Subscribe2 link (or just use this direct link). From here, you can choose which posts will be emailed to you, and what format they are in.
  • If you have an account and you’re not logged in, go here to fix that.
  • Don’t have an account? Register for one or log in using a social media account.
  • Don’t want all of this account nonsense? Just use the link in the right-hand column (or this link right here ) to just enter your email address. You’ll get alerts for all posts on Wetmachine, and you’ll just get them in plain text.
  • Is even that too invasive? Don’t trust us with your email address? Well… uh… we have the RSS feeds.

Note that we won’t try to reinstate people who used to get email updates before. Many of these addresses are probably no longer valid. Plus, we prefer to have you opt-in again rather than potentially annoying you all with unwanted mail.

Posted in General Exception | Comments closed

Tales of the Sausage Factory

Our RSS Feed Is Back!

A number of folks have asked me for awhile what happened to our RSS feed. I recognize that because we post infrequently here (damn you, life, for getting in the way of my blogging!) having an RSS feed really helps people to know when we’ve added something.

The answer is that Wetmachine is kept going on the technical side by the voluntary efforts of Gary Gray and John Sundman. Because of various problems, we needed to migrate Wetmachine awhile ago from one hosting company to another and make various other changes. As a result, the RSS plug in we were using broke. Making sure the site actually worked and stayed up and running took priority over finding a new RSS plug in, and it took Gary awhile to find a plug in that would work with the new site.

In any event, thanks to Gary’s hard work, you can now once again ensure that you will never miss another article by following the side bar on the right down to the RSS button. Please do. Also, you can follow us on Facebook and Twitter, because Lord knows you can now follow individual air molecules on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Stay tuned . . . .

 

 

 

 

Posted in General, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Comments closed
  • John Sundman’s Books

    Acts of the Apostles

    Acts of the Apostles

    A thriller about nanomachines, neurobiology, Gulf War Syndrome, and a Silcon Valley messiah.

    "...a book infused with a sensibility that you don't normally expect a 'hard science fiction' novel to have: real emotions, real heartbreak and a real sense of the craziness at the core of the human condition."

    —Andrew Leonard, Salon.com

    Buy or Download

    Cheap Complex Devices

    Cheap Complex Devices

    An anthology of the winners of the inaugural Hofstadter Prize for Machine-Written Narrative, with a preface by the editor and an introduction by the Hofstadter Prize Committee

    "Cheap Complex Devices is astonishing, on just about every level a book can be astonishing."

    —Rusty Foster, Kuro5hin.org

    Buy or Download

    The Pains

    The Pains

    In Freemerica, where Orwell's 1984 is fused with Ronald Reagan's 1984, a young monk tries to save the world from disintegration.

    "All three of Sundman's books are somewhere between excellent and brilliant. ... The Pains touches upon the key issues of our time: it is a book which is philosophical to the point of being mystical."

    —Michael Allen, Grumpy Old Bookman

    Buy or Read Online

    Creation Science

    Creation Science

    conspiracy, duplicity, double-crosses, dispensational Christian fascism, misunderstandings, confusions, car crashes, megalomaniacal villains (in and out of government), explosions, gunplay, Russian Mafias, neuroscience, coincidence, mysterious islands not far from Cape Cod, information theory, love, regret, remorse, nostalgia and sex.

    Published by late spring 2010, if not sooner. Pre-orders much appreciated.

    Pre-order Now

  • Connect With Us

    Follow Wetmachine on Twitter!

    Email Updates

    Subscribe with just your email address To get updates for all Wetmachine posts. Want more control? Log in using your Wetmachine account (or with your Facebook, Twitter, or other social media account), or register for a Wetmachine account.

Username
Password

If you do not have an account: Register