Mar 30, 2011

Mar - 23 2011 | By

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Paul referred listeners to the notes from the last show and recapped a couple of items.
– AT&T will be capping the DSL usage because of the huge amount of traffic on the internet, especially video from Netflix.
– Adam from Smarter Broadband was again invited to be on a future show.

Glenn brought up Bernie's phone call from the last show. Glenn said he did some speed testing of Digital Path and found that the rate varied widely depending on the time of day. At 7pm Monday it was at about 8%; at 2am Tuesday he was getting a speed approaching that of dialup.

He was using speedtest.phonepower.com that measures not only speed but also the quality of your connection.
Glenn speculated that Digital Path may be paying less to its provider for the late night hours so they can buy more bandwidth during the day — but this was just speculation. On Tuesday at about 3pm he was getting 90% and was able to download at 4 megabits/sec even though he was paying for up to 3 megabits/sec. He said he'd continue to collect more speed data.

Paul said that AT&T, when their caps go into effect, will notify their users using the sbcglobal, att.net or pacbell mail accounts you get with their service, so keep an eye on those mailboxes — many people tend to ignore them.

When the guys help people setup new email accounts, they encourage the use of one of more popular web based services rather than the one from the provider because if you change providers the email address will no longer be valid. Online services like Yahoo, Gmail or Hotmail will give you a longer lasting address.

Also mentioned in the last show, Glenn reminded people to be aware of overextending the use of their voice or data cell phone plans. The phone companies are not yet required to notify you when you're getting close to or are over your limit, so it's your responsibility to keep track. In the case of AT&T, any notification you get may go to the email address they have provided — another reason not to ignore that mailbox.

Paul said that Gmail allows you to add a POP account that will pull in mail from that account. You can set it up to retrieve mail from the previously mentioned sbcglobal or att.net mailboxes and read it along with the rest of your Gmail.

Glenn questioned Paul about setting up Gmail to use the IMAP protocol <more about IMAP> so it will pull in mail from other mailboxes and retain them on the Gmail server.
– Gmail gives you 7.5 gigabytes of mail storage and any mail it pulls in from other accounts are marked as coming from a external location.
– To set it up, go to the upper right of the Gmail page and click on 'Settings' and under 'General settings' you'll see the POP & IMAP options. Paul recommended using IMAP.
– If you use the Thunderbird mail program, it will detect IMAP automatically if you have it turned on. But you have to tell Gmail to use it.
– For more info do a google search for the words: gmail imap.
<more about POP & IMAP in the Aug 25, 2008 show>

Jeff called to say he did some research on the AT&T bandwidth throttling. He said AT&T provides a link in email notifications to its users that leads to a graph of their usage statistics.
He also said he found a Nevada County site that "discussed servers & websites" <& presumably issues regarding internet speed>
– He said AT&T may be throttling usage because they are acquiring a cable company and want people to view content over cable rather than the internet.
– The Nevada County website also said the monthly limit is reached by watching regular video for just 3 hours a day. And if you're watching high def, you'll reach the cap with just 1.5 hours a day.
– AT&T Uverse provides movies on-demand, but the piggyback providers will be booted from the Uverse cable, Jeff said. Paul called them 2nd tier providers.

The disclaimer:
The thoughts and opinions and the words spoken are those of this speaker and not necessarily those of KVMR, its staff, broadcasters or board of directors.

Paul recalled a great site he'd found years ago called internettrafficreport.com which shows the worldwide "index of connectivity" — the speed and reliability of major hosts like Telus US.

KVMR has 2 separate internet feeds — Comcast and AT&T. And there's a device called a dual WAN router, which they haven't configured yet, that takes both feeds and combines them for distribution to various devices (like computers) at the station. Comcast provides 15 megabits/sec & AT&T 5 megabits/sec. That gives a bigger bandwidth and provides redundancy in case one source goes down.

Talk turned to battery backups or UPS. Their purpose is to provide power long enough to allow you to properly shut down your computer. A smart UPS will tell the computer to shut down and, in the process, do an orderly closing of running programs. And the software that comes with it will give you interesting usage statistics. Paul recommended smart UPSs over regular ones.

Glenn said that after a power outage he disconnects his appliances, And after it comes back on he plugs them back in one at a time so "that the whole system doesn't get hit with an instant spike".

Paul talked about backup generators.
– They don't produce a clean alternating current, but anything from a square wave to a lumpy sine wave.
– This poor alternating current can cause problems with a UPS — the UPS may cut itself from the generator and start drawing on the battery.
– Better generators will state that they're suitable "for computers and things like that".
– Older generators, under a big load, can vary from the standard 60 cycles and cause brownouts. Unplugging an inductive load <consisting of coils of wire like a motor> from them can make the cause a spike.

Dennis called. He used to work for Southern Pacific railroad back in the 80s. He worked on a team that laid plastic conduits, for carrying fiber optic cables, that went to many cities in the US. The cables eventually ended up in the hands of Quest Communications. His point is that there's a huge amount of bandwidth — 8 4-inch tubes each holding over 1000 fiber optic cables.

Also mentioned on the last show, Paul reminded people that KVMR now has podcasts. You can listen to many shows at anytime, not just during the broadcast. Find the link on the main KVMR page or directly here.

Don called about generators. He recently got a Yamaha 2800 inverter style generator. He said it's important to get an inverter style if you're going to run electronic equipment on it. It isolates the output of the alternator, that's hooked to the motor, from the actual AC output so the motor speed can vary somewhat and you still have a stable output.
The Yamaha has an economy mode where the motor speed comes down when there's no load, thus saving fuel. If you then put a big load on it, the power will lag until the motor regains speed; but working at full speed it had no problems.
Don said he bought the Yamaha used for $800. There was speculation that a new one would be in the $1300 to $1500 range.

Paul stated that during a brownout equipment can over heat because cooling fans can slow down and lose effectiveness. Don added that, in a motor, when the voltage goes down the amperage goes up, resulting in resistive heating.

Art called wanting to know how to get the content in his address book into a Word document on his Mac.
– Try going into the address book application and look for 'export' in the 'file' menu. Art said he had no success with that.
– Paul googled 'export mac address book' and found Export Address Book 1.5.3 It can export to comma separated (CSV), tab separated and html table formats. The html table is probably the most useful for pasting into a Word doc.

Paul often goes to download.com for utilities such as the address book exporter. Their search facility allows you to narrow the search to your type of computer. Paul said he's never seen software at download.com that had a virus — "these things are, to some extent, tested".
Glenn added that at download.com you'll see a lot of ads and you'll need to scroll down the page to see your search results.

Charlie called about Craigslist. He wanted to know how to search across multiple geographic locations — if you don't mind traveling to retrieve your purchase.
– Use 'site:' in a google search to restrict it to the craigslist domain. E.g. if you want to search for an RV, enter RV site:craigslist.com. But remember, Google scans the web periodically and the results may not be the latest Craiglist ads.
– Listeners were asked to call in with other suggestions.
– Later in the show, Paul found the site crazedlist.org that might do what he wanted. You'll have to change your browser setting to turn off referrers.

A caller thought that the site quince.com would do the desired Craigslist search but Paul checked and it doesn't. The caller thought the name might be only similar to quince.com.

The same Caller also said he has Toshiba laptop that's just recently started booting up in Dos while beeping an error code. It would ask which operating system to start up in, with Vista the only choice. He would choose Vista but then the password prompt would come up with a password already filled in. He'd put in his true password and continue as normal.
– Listen to the pattern of the beep code and ask Toshiba what it means.

Listeners were advised that the next Zentech show is April 13.

Last updated: 9:13 PM 3/30/2011