I biked into downtown D.C. this afternoon–my first time there since March–and was pleased to see how protesters have turned the wall now surrounding the White House compound into a canvas for protest signs.
The Arabic-language news channel had me on for almost an hour to discuss allegations that Facebook has gone out of its way to silence Palestinian advocates. That’s not a subject I’ve researched in detail, so I stuck to talking about the times I’ve seen Facebook enforce its rules unevenly in the U.S., where its mistakes should be a lot more obvious. A few days later, the Guardian reported a disturbing pattern of Facebook deleting the accounts of Tunisian democracy advocates.
My research for this column on buying a cable modem instead of paying an ever-escalating rent (in Comcast’s case, it’s gone from $8 a month in 2016 to $14 today) included firsthand experience, in the form of my buying my in-laws a modem last summer. I posted a complete writeup of my notes from that exercise for Patreon readers last Sunday.
Among the 100-plus comments and 40 or so e-mails I’ve received since this piece went up Monday morning, the most common queries addressed Internet services that don’t involve any cable-television infrastructure.
Am I going to write back to all of these readers to explain that they’ll see my column is properly framed once they understand some first principles about telecom? No.
Many normal people just don’t classify their home Internet service by which regulated local monopoly began building out its infrastructure decades ago or how how high its wires go on a utility pole. The problem isn’t that some think of their phone and cable companies as functional equivalents, it’s that too many others can’t because only their cable operator delivers both television and high-speed broadband.
Besides, AT&T’s policies about U-verse hardware are interesting enough–especially compared to Verizon’s–to justify a follow-up column. Look for that this weekend.
Spending the first half of the week out of town for SXSW put more of a dent in my schedule than I realized–as you can see from the unusually late time I’m posting this. Seriously, where did the second half of the week go?
I pretty much had to focus my writeup of the conference on the remote interviews of Julian Assange and Edward Snowden–both outspoken critics of the surveillance state, both beset by glitches with their Internet-video links. It’s crazy to think that a year ago, almost nobody at SXSW had any idea of what the NSA had been up to; the mood in Austin seemed a lot cheerier about the prospects of technology back then.
A reader had bought a cable modem after reading my recommendation to do so last August. Then Comcast said she couldn’t use her purchase. And things got really weird. A reader has since complained that the column left him “totally confused” about whether he can buy a modem on Comcast’s approved-devices list and have it work; I’m going to have to tell him he has correctly read a confusing situation.