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  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 30, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , internet   

    Has Cuba opened the internet for all? 

    Has Cuba opened the internet?

    Here in America, many of us are glued to our screens for most of the day. Whether it’s for work, entertainment, or talking with friends we’re accessing the internet as if it was some magical unlimited resource. We even use it in remote places that in previous generations had trouble getting electrical or phone services. Now, imagine being only a few miles away from one of the world’s more cosmopolitan areas and only being able to use the internet for at most a couple of hours a day and you can only use it in certain areas that aren’t necessarily convenient to get to. That’s how the country of Cuba has been using its limited access to the internet.

    Yesterday, the Cuban government announced that it would be lifting the restrictions on having private wifi networks. The law is scheduled to take effect on July 29th. Previously, Cuban citizens could only access the internet in public wifi hotspots set up by the government that were usually in parks or on street corners. In order to use these hotspots, people would need to buy access cards that allows someone to use the internet for an hour for a fee. The current fee sits at $1 an hour.

    However, this doesn’t mean that Cuban citizens will start enjoying the internet the same way that we do. There is only one internet service provider in the country and it’s run by the Cuban government. In order to be able to use wifi in your home, you would still need to set up an antenna to access the public hotspots for your home router to access and would still need to buy the hourly access cards. While this isn’t the biggest leap forward for internet users in the Caribbean nation it is at least a step in the right direction.

     
  • Geebo 9:15 am on April 28, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , internet   

    Google’s new data center aims to make internet a better experience for Cubans 

    Google's new data center aims to make internet a better experience for Cubans

    Google recently announced they have opened a data center in Cuba, being the first American company to do so. Cuba’s internet is incredibly slow compared to other Western nations. Cuba receives its internet through an underground cable provided by the government of Venezuela. The distance between the countries is roughly 1300 miles. This would roughly be the equivalent of someone living in New York having an internet service provider whose only servers were in Dallas. While Google’s new data center won’t speed up current Cuban internet, it will make some content easier to access.

    Google’s servers in Cuba will fetch information through the existing Venezuelan cable but will then store it on their servers. This will make it much easier and a little faster for Cuban internet users to access popular or viral content.

    What hasn’t been discussed is how Google is going to get along with the Cuban government. While advances in freedom have been made in Cuba in recent years, it’s still not the most democratic country in the world. Cuba’s internet is still heavily regulated by the government. Google pulled out of China after the Chinese government made incessant censorship demands. Will the Cuban government ask the same of Google and if so, will Google abandon their Cuban project if the Cuban government pressures them into acting against the people?

     
  • Geebo 10:59 am on December 30, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , internet   

    Select Cuban citizens to get home internet 

    Select Cuban citizens to get home internet

    When we’re at home we just expect the internet to work. We expect to get on our tablets or laptops or phones and check our various daily messages with no delay. We use it to stream our entertainment and play video games. When the internet stops working we go into panic mode like the Apocalypse just happened. We restart the modem, the router and every connected device. When that doesn’t work we dread having to call customer service for fear of them telling us they’ll send out a technician in a few days which we consider the worst case scenario. All because we can’t post pictures of our lunch on social media. Now imagine living in Cuba where you can only get your internet at certain public hotspots for a substantial fee. Could you handle it? Probably not.

    This is how the people of Cuba have had to access internet for many years now. Now, with the decades long US embargo finally lifted, 2000 select citizens will be receiving home internet in downtown Havana. Due to the embargo, Cuba claims that they were unable to provide internet infrastructure until recently.

    This leads to two questions. First off, just because people will be receiving home internet will the government be heavily monitoring or censoring the Cuban net? Just because the embargo has been lifted and Fidel Castro is gone doesn’t mean that Cuba has become a haven of democracy. The second question is, will more internet access to Cubans start leading to a democratic Cuba? With being so close to the US and the fact that even the greatest national firewalls can be bypassed will this lead to Cubans using their new internet to organize democratic movements? That remains to be seen but it is a definite possibility.

    Now keep that in mind the next time you want to see what the latest Kardashian has posted on Instagram.

     
  • Geebo 12:37 pm on November 14, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: internet, , representation, Shereef Bishay   

    Democracy 2.0: Please share this video 

    Democracy 2.0: Please share this video

    Rather than getting on YouTube and simply complaining about the outcome of the election, tech influencer Shereef Bishay has come up with a plan that he feels will not only give everyday citizens direct representation in congress but our opinions will actually matter. In his YouTube video entitled ‘Upgrading our democracy’ Mr. Bishay refers to democracy as an operating system that is in desperate need of an upgrade.

    In his plan Mr. Bishay suggests there should be a web portal where we vote on the issues facing congress today that go straight to our representatives. However, if we don’t want to vote on every issue we can give our votes to proxies who can vote on our behalf. The example that Mr. Bishay gives is that you can give your vote to the Sierra Club if you care about environmental issues.

    The problem is that our current representation are more beholden to lobbyists and special interest groups rather than their constituents and can vote on issues any way they see fit. Mr Bishay has a suggestion for that as well. He believes that there should be an internet candidate to congress who should be legally bound to vote as the way the constituents he or she represents have voted. He suggests we should have these internet candidates in all congressional races until all the old guard is removed and the new system is patched, as he calls it.

    He does into more detail in his video below and would like to see his video shared on Facebook at least 1000 times before he puts in money himself then starts a Kickstarter campaign to get the ball rolling. Please watch the reasonably short video in its entirety.

    Are there flaws in Mr. Bishay’s plan, of course there are. There are flaws in almost any plan, and there are definitely too many flaws in the way today’s political system works. We’ve been using the same form of representation for over 200 years and our technology has vastly surpassed that system. Isn’t it time to bring the two on par?

    Please share Mr. Bishay’s video today.

     
  • Geebo 9:57 am on October 11, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Free Basics, internet   

    What is Facebook’s ‘Free Basics’ and why is it controversial? 

    What is Facebook's 'Free Basics' and why is it controversial?

    In a move that may seem philanthropic Facebook has plans to bring its Free Basics internet service to the US. Free Basics is a plan to bring free but limited internet to rural and poorer areas. Facebook sees it as a way to be able to bring much-needed access to government and health services to low-income families. Facebook tried to bring this service to India, however the service was largely rejected because of what Facebook limited the service to.

    Opponents see Free Basics as another way of Facebook trying to keep its users in their walled garden. Facebook has an alleged reputation of trying to keep its users on Facebook without going to other websites or apps. Since Facebook just happens to be one of the services offered in their Free Basics that fear may not be unjustified.

    However, Facebook has almost become a public service with its safe notifications when natural disasters or major tragedies occur. In that maybe a limited internet is better than no internet at all.

     
  • Geebo 5:08 pm on October 6, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Google Fiber, internet, Webpass   

    Is Google Fiber coming to your home? 

    Is Google Fiber coming to your home?

    If you’ve never heard of Google Fiber, it’s Google’s internet service that is supposed to be the fastest in the U.S. It’s only been rolled out to select cities like Austin, Texas, and Kansas City, Missouri. One of the good things about Google Fiber is not only does it give consumers another choice for internet service, but it also causes the established ISPs to step up their game. This usually can mean a drop in price and higher speeds from the entrenched ISPs.

    Recently, Google bought a company called Webpass. Webpass was an internet service provider that would use a type of wireless signal to beam internet to apartment buildings. The only cable they’d have to install would be the ones from the rooftop receiver to the apartments in the building.

    Now, Google has plans to combine the two technologies to provide internet to a wider consumer base. This plan could accelerate Google’s plan to bring its Fiber coverage to the country at large. Since it launched Google Fiber has been relatively slow to roll out, only covering a handful of cities. This is great news for consumers as it may cause companies like AT&T, Comcast, Cox, and Verizon to improve their services and it would also threaten the duopolies or in some cases monopolies that ISPs have in some communities.

     
  • Geebo 10:02 am on September 15, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: internet, , web kiosks   

    NYC to revise position on web kiosks 

    NYC to revise position on web kiosks

    New York City’s free web kiosks are a great idea, in theory. Instead they’ve become the textbook definition of ‘the best laid plans’. The kiosks, first introduced to the Big Apple in February, were installed in the places of old phone booths, have 911 and 311 capabilities, can be used as a free wi-fi hotspot, and have web enabled touch screens. As is with most free gifts given to the public, the kiosks were abused.

    The kiosks have led to people camping out at the kiosks all hours of the day, which has led to drugs, noise complaints and other nuisances that have concerned business owners and residents. While the kiosk touchscreens had filters to prevent from explicit sites from being displayed, it didn’t take long for some users to circumvent the filters. This led to explicit content being shown on the kiosks at all times of the day to any passer-by.

    Because of these abuses the city is disabling the touchscreens’ web access. While offering free web access to natives and tourists is a fantastic idea, but as with most great ideas the city leaders didn’t consider one thing, people are the greatest variable in any equation. Or as to put it in internet terms, ‘this is why we can’t have nice things.’

     
  • Geebo 12:59 pm on August 24, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , internet   

    Is the internet as free as it should be? 

    Is the internet as free as it should be?

    The first webpage

    Yesterday was celebrated as the 25th anniversary of the internet. While that date may be in question, WIRED has published a great article on whether or not the web has lived up to its promise.

    WIRED supposes that the internet was intended to give everyone in the world a voice and not just a select few who have the resources to shout their voice over everyone else. While mostly everyone on the internet has an opportunity to voice their opinion and stories, we are still beholden to a chosen few gatekeepers. For example, if you want to be any kind of content creator you have to follow Google’s ever-changing rules to receive higher rankings in their ubiquitous search engine. Facebook has created a walled garden determined to keep its users within their website. If you want to get people to view your content, it’s almost a requirement that you have to promote your work on Facebook. Want to use Twitter or Snapchat to share your internet voice? You’ll still have to abide by their terms of service and you could lose your voice at their whim.

    While the idea of an internet that is totally free is a great idea the reality is that without some of these gatekeepers the web would be a disorganized mess. Prior to the advent of Google, searching on the web was far from an exact science and finding what you wanted was often a time-consuming chore. While Facebook may be keeping their users in their gates at least you can go and share your voice where mostly every one can see it. Without this kind of organization the web would just be a chaotic mess and may have only been a passing fad.

     
  • Geebo 4:03 pm on August 8, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , internet, ,   

    Comcast wants to charge for privacy 

    Comcast wants to charge for privacy

    If there’s one inherent truth to the internet it’s that someone is selling your data. I’m not talking about malicious hackers selling your personal information to identity thieves, but the Facebooks and Googles who sell your browsing habits to advertisers. They do this, they say, in order to show you advertising tailored more to your likes. Now, one of the country’s largest internet providers wants to charge you extra to not sell your data.

    Comcast has petitioned the FCC to allow ISPs to charge their customers extra for not selling their browsing habits. If Comcast had its way the ISPs could charge you an extra fee to not sell your data to advertisers. That sounds a lot like a protection racket from an old black and white gangster movie with Comcast playing the heavy that says “That’s some real nice privacy you’ve got here. It’d be a shame if something happened to it.”

    What’s worse is that Comcast acts like they’re doing customers a favor…

    Comcast said in its filing that “such a prohibition would harm consumers by, among other things, depriving them of lower-priced offerings, and as FTC Commissioner [Maureen] Ohlhausen points out, ‘such a ban may prohibit ad-supported broadband services and thereby eliminate a way to increase broadband adoption.’

    What’s really depriving consumers of lower-priced offerings for broadband is the lack of competition between ISPs. In most markets you can either choose the cable company or the phone company for internet service. A duopoly doesn’t encourage much competition and without competition prices not only stagnate, but they tend to rise because who else are you going to use? If you’ve ever been in an area that offers the upstart Google Fiber you’ll see the incumbent providers start slashing their prices in order to compete.

    So instead of trying to extort customers over their privacy, maybe the ISPs should start offering better services in order to make more money.

     
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