* Posts by Robb Topolski

27 posts • joined 15 Dec 2007

Ex-NebuAd staff target behavioural data via websites

Robb Topolski
Stop

Yeah, whatever.

NebuAd was formed (Phormed?) from the ashes of Claria and their spyware products. Now Insight Ready is formed from the ashes of NebuAd? Gee, why? To keep whatever remaining VC money out of the clutches of the lawsuits?

When NebuAd shut down, it said it was moving toward a more traditional model. Now here we have the former NebuAd in a more traditional model.

New company my butt.

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Quantum porn engine foiled by strawberries and muffins

Robb Topolski
Paris Hilton

Version 1.0 anybody?

My test drive of Cuil was mixed. There were a few missing results on conspicuous topics, but I'd give its ability to find relevant results an 80%. The presentation was pleasant. The execution was just "okay." I'd call it comparable to a lot of version 1.0 products I've used.

As far as creating a great place to work, it might sound like Cuil missed the point of keeping one foot on the floor, but when you're trying to luring the best from the best, you're going to have to outdo them in the perks department.

Maybe I'm missing the point, but it sounds like one superfluous expense was the CEO's strategist!

Paris -- because she's another superfluous expense.

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Sun may or may not be about to obliterate Oracle and Microsoft

Robb Topolski
Thumb Up

Now articles like this are what attracted me to theRegister in the first place

That was a great read, and the language made it funny and a bit intimate. I definitely relate.

I'm glad to see that theRegister still puts out stuff like this!

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Weird WEP bug strikes Centrino 2 Wi-Fi

Robb Topolski
Alert

The Good News and the Bad News

The Good News is that if that's the only bug, then Intel has done pretty good.

The Bad News is that, in Software Testing, the all zero's case is called a Boundary Condition and is a necessary test in any test effort. If there's one place no bug should be found it would be there. The fact a bug is found there makes me worry what else may have slipped through the cracks.

Robb Topolski

disclosure: I am a former Intel employee and a software testing professional. I hold Intel in high regard but I am not beholden to them. I speak for myself.

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FCC chief wants to throttle Comcast

Robb Topolski
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Comcast abused their power and the trust of Internet users.

When Comcast bought up large systems to become the largest Cable MSO, it did not buy the Internet. Comcast has no right to change how the Internet works -- not one byte of it.

How the world-wide Internet works is defined by all of us, through our participation and trust in the Internet Society and the Internet Engineering Task Force. To ensure interoperability and access for all, changes must be carefully deliberated and standardized there. The responsibility of operating the Internet in accordance with those standards is entrusted to companies providing access to it. It's not Comcast's job to change how the Internet works nor can it decide who or what gets preference upon it.

I haven't seen anything other than the press reports about something to be circulated around the FCC. I am hopeful that when the details are released that it serves to preserve and protect the Internet from those who would abuse their power and change it.

Robb Topolski

Hillsboro, Oregon

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NebuAd makes meal of opt-out cookie

Robb Topolski
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Two other Press Release items of Note

First, NebuAd does -not- say that its newer Opt-Out method will prevent the users data from being provided by the ISP. In fact, the only thing they will say is that it will "honor their opt-out choices in a more persistent manner." The perceived evil of NebuAd isn't the targeted ads, it isn't even NebuAd so much -- it's that an ISP is providing everything that I see and say to an untrusted 3rd party.

Second, NebuAd slipped in some other hard news. They said, "NebuAd previously eliminated the page-appended mechanism for pixel tag distribution, referred to in recent media reports." In other words, they're no longer piggybacking on www.google.com, www.yahoo.com, or www.msn.com in order to force-load the cookies that identify profiled users to their partner ad networks.

Robb Topolski

PS: Special thanks to TheRegister and Cade Metz who has done a great job covering this story!

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ISPs laud their data pimping services but refuse to use them

Robb Topolski
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Survey Says?!

April 4, 2008: "Front Porch collects detailed Web-use data from more than 100,000 U.S. customers through their service providers, Maxson said." -- 'Every Click You Make' By Peter Whoriskey; Washington Post at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/03/AR2008040304052_pf.html

July 7 2008: "Front Porch CEO Zach Britton also tells us that the system never went live." -- 'ISPs laud their data pimping services but refuse to use them' By Cade Metz; ElReg at http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/07/07/massillon_and_newwave_use_frontporch/

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Researcher: NebuAd forges Google data packets

Robb Topolski

@Solomon Grundy - Why Their Site is Sucky

Their site is sucky because you are blocking their domain. You probably have some kind of ad-blocking software installed. Therefore their images, css, js, and etc. can't do anything.

Good job you!!

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Virgin Media rubbishes P2P throttling rumours

Robb Topolski
Stop

Dear Author -- Newsgroups is Client-Server, not Peer-to-Peer in nature

Dear Author,

Please note that Usenet, NNTP "downloads" between readers and servers are not P2P.

P2P is much more network friendly than NNTP in that it divides its work across multiple paths, with some protocols (e.g. BitTorrent) avoiding congested paths while favoring those that are not. Like all client-server applications, NNTP will try to power its transfer through a congested route.

I still agree with the gist of the comments. While the best way to download heavy media files is via P2P, Internet users ought to be able to use the modes that they wish to use without any inspection or interference from their ISP or the transit providers.

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NebuAd looks to 'spyware' firm for recruits

Robb Topolski
Happy

Past Association

I've read the rumors -- they were usually blog replies. This is the first real documentation of it.

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Robb Topolski
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Another one to add to the list of high-level coincidences...

D. Reed Freeman, Jr is a partner of Kelley Drye & Warren and undersigned NebuAd CEO's FTC comments at www.ftc.gov/os/comments/behavioraladprinciples/080411nebuad.pdf -- and he was Chief Privacy Officer at Claria Corporation (see http://www.benedelman.org/news/010405-1.html).

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Google preps net neut dowser

Robb Topolski
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Commenters, How did Google earn a Bad Rap here?

The neat thing about this controversy is that it doesn't matter if you believe that Google is evil or if Google is good. If we have a neutral network, Google's motives are irrelevant.

As to the notion that a neutral network means that a customer has no choice as to the congestion-time prioritisation of his transmissions, that's simply horse-hockey. Nobody supporting Network Neutrality believes this. Network Neutrality means that the USER has the choice as to priority, not the NETWORK.

The "Type-of-Service" field has been in the IP header since the beginning. The end-hosts applications can (optionally) set it (customer chooses). The mid-network gateways can (optionally) obey it (network operator support).

The Founding Geeks created what we now call Network Neutrality by the way that they designed the network. The network is neutral because it doesn't know how to be otherwise.

It has flourished under that design!

Who is stupid enough to believe that the Internet Protocol as specified in the Internet Standards is somehow not supposed to be done on the Internet?

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FCC tells Comcast to unblock P2P

Robb Topolski
Happy

It's not Comcast's Internet

> "Hey, THIS is the service we're providing - take it or leave it"

By selling Internet Access, Comcast has agreed to use the Internet Standard protocols and practices that the open bodies that govern the Internet have defined.

These include the principles of non-discrimination, the use of TCP flags (including "RST") only by end-points, and the notion that interfering with the communications of others is abusive.

As for the cost of supporting and using iPlayer in the UK, I offer this: It is much less expensive for an ISP to distribute content WITHIN its network. If your ISP has 1,000 iPlayer viewers and none of them can use P2P, then 1,000 video streams have to cross the toll-road between your ISP and its transit provider. But if 25%-50% of that data can come from other some viewers within the ISP, then the ISP is spending less money by not having to purchase as much additional external bandwidth to handle the demand.

While the ISP has a problem dealing with a sudden crunch of demand in either case, with the help of P2P, his problems are cheaper.

You cannot throttle (or block) progress!

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Comcast proposes P2P 'bill of rights'

Robb Topolski
Unhappy

Users? We don't talk to our users!

Yesterday, Comcast Corporation and Pando Networks announced that they will lead the industry to create a "P2P Bill of Rights and Responsibilities" for users and ISPs. With an FCC hearing on Comcast's anti-peer-to-peer practices scheduled for later this week, this is hardly a surprise. Once again, Comcast makes another sweetheart-sounding deal, but at the wrong time, and with the wrong sweetheart.

It takes a special kind of arrogance for a company that sells Internet Access to team up with another company that sells Content Delivery and together decide what rights and responsibilities that the world's Internet users should have.

As in its earlier "deal" with BitTorrent, Inc., Comcast's announcement today doesn't change any of the facts it faces: in 2006, it assured Congress that network neutrality laws were not necessary, saying it would not "deny, delay, or degrade" its customers in order to deal with traffic congestion. Within a year it was caught secretly doing exactly that! Even after a long string of deceptive and deflective statements and tactics, Comcast continues to degrade their traffic today.

As was the case in the BitTorrent "deal," neither Comcast Corporation nor Pando Networks represents the millions of customers and other members of the Internet community who were impacted when Comcast secretly launched its anti-P2P attack.

Yesterday's announcement comes less than 48 hours from the US Federal Communication Committee's public hearing at Stanford University. There, the FCC is scheduled to hear from two panels of experts followed by two hours of public testimony on the Comcast incident specifically as well as similar industry practices in general.

And, to add insult to injury, Comcast proves once again that it doesn't care about its customers. It shut them out of the first public hearing, and now refuses to meet with them at the second one.

I'm tired of saying "Comcast is arrogant." Can I just say that they have king-sized balls?

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Robb Topolski
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@Mectron, re Bill of Rights, Online Privacy Rights

Hi Mectron:

You have the right idea. A bill of rights outlines the rights citizens ALREADY have, and protects them from the government from yielding its unbounded power over the people that they serve and regulate. I agree with you there.

As to #4 -- an IP address is not private, but communications coming from an IP address certainly might be intended to be private and that intention should be respected.

I would change your version #4 to say that -- with the exception of law enforcement executing a judge-signed warrant, or acting to the urgent prevention of imminent serious harm or death (attempted suicide, for example), the privacy of the users' identity and the content of his communications is the paramount consideration. (I'm not sure of the exact language to use, but my version is meant to give Internet users and their communications the same rights as telephone users and their communications).

The important thing is that ISPs should not be at odds with the interests of their customers and their communications. Currently, they are -- whether the motive be for profit, savings, or whatever. This cannot continue.

--Robb Topolski

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Comcast acquires BitTorrent for $53bn

Robb Topolski

Best line of the day!

"When we phoned Comcast for comment, a company spokesman denied that we existed."

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Everyone's a winner in the Comcast - BitTorrent detente

Robb Topolski

What Standard Practice was that?

--Quote--it's been standard practice for network operators to correct the TCP protocol's mistaken notion that fairness consists of the right to consume bandwidth in proportion to ones appetite by applying fair queuing at the entry to the first hop.--endQuote--

How, did network operators do this? What did they actually do? In so much as a "hop" represents a router, and routers don't know about TCP or port numbers, then don't they just get packets and handle packets in series? Isn't (non-weighted) "fairness" at the first hop more of a natural "First-in, First-routed" act?

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Robb Topolski

A correction, an explanation, and cautious optimism

CORRECTION:

I am not a peer-to-peer enthusiast. I am an enthusiast of historic films and music and I was trying to share them via peer-to-peer and I wondered why it didn't work. I'm also a protocol-and-networking guy, since the day when bitrates were so low I could practically decode them by ear. I do very little P2P.

EXPLANATION:

The "deal" is treacherous because Comcast has a long history of denials and deceptive answers.

BitTorrent Inc. is a competitor Vuze (who has an official complaint in front of the FCC on this matter) -- yet the "deal" could not have been better designed to make the public believe that Comcast had made peace with everyone. Look at the terms of the agreement -- is there anything that BitTorrent gains? Is there anything in it that Comcast couldn't have simply announced and implemented without BitTorrent, Inc.? Comcast used it as a pawn in its PR-recovery plan -- and it would have worked, too, if it wasn't for us meddling kids!

Comcast itself has committed to nothing except for "experimenting" with a protocol agnostic solution. They were already going to increase bandwidth in those markets by the end of the year (the upload speeds had to increase because increasing the download speeds with DOCSIS 3 creates more overhead on the upload side than today's uplink speeds would allow.).

Meanwhile, the P2P interference continues on. It's been over a year now for me. The AP reported it 6 months ago. And Comcast says it plans to continue it for another 9 months. This is not the behavior of admission or apology, this is the behavior of arrogance.

We should not let down our guard until we see something more than lip service.

CAUTIOUS OPTIMISM

If it comes to pass, and the implementation is what you describe it to be, I'm not sure that I object all too much. I'm very concerned as they describe today's interference as occurring only during peak times, when I see the interference 24/7/365. And if this is such the better solution, I'm somewhat concerned as to why they didn't do this in the first place. What detail am I missing now that caused them to avoid this solution two years ago?

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Comcast admits it can do the impossible

Robb Topolski
Stop

@Bennett -- I haven't flip-flopped on anything...

> Robb Topolski proposed this method

> in a comment to one of your previous

> [articles]. It's interesting that he's now

> flip-flopped and is calling it the end of the world.

The BitTorrent/Comcast "agreement" (scare-quotes intended) isn't worth the paper that it's NOT written on.

1. Comcast's string of deceptions shows that this is a company with a bad credibility rating.

2. BitTorrent, Inc. was not appointed by the FCC complainants, the millions of Comcast HSI customers, nor the users of the worldwide Internet to represent them.

3. Despite Comcast's repentant change-of-heart, they have granted themselves an additional 9 months to keep interfering with its users' choices of applications before (they claim) they will finally stop doing so. (It's only been 6 months since the AP article hit the wires.)

ASK YOURSELF THIS: Why did Comcast need any statement by BitTorrent Inc.? Couldn't Comcast do the right thing anyway?

BitTorrent's statements seem to indicate, "Yes." No changes to BitTorrent will be required for Comcast to switch to a less-abusive method. "There is no dependency on BitTorrent changing anything," Klinker said. (Page 4, paragraph 2, of the above article).

As for flip-flops, I am vacillating on whether I'd prefer Network Neutrality regulations or some kind of mandatory divestiture between Content Provider XYZ and Transit Provider XYZ. But since BitTorrent Inc. is out there making my decisions for me, what I think isn't going to matter very much.

Comcast wins the week for successfully pulling its ass out of the fire using nothing but its consistently deceptive PR machine. With BitTorrent Inc. being honorable mention -- whether they're a willing accomplice or a rape victim, I'm still not quite sure. And the jury is still out as to whether the FCC is smart enough to see through this charade.

Robb Topolski

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Cool Rules for the FCC: In the Lions's Den

Robb Topolski
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Revisionist History

Richard, you take the cake!

> The composition of the crowd wasn't apparent

> until Comcast VP David Cohen got an overly

> enthusiastic round of applause at the end of

> his prepared remarks, but pretty much only

> then.

The composition of the crowd included five busloads of disinterested people who Comcast paid to occupy seats, keep the opposition out, and clap when instructed. They didn't even do that very well as the applause was several seconds late.

> They didn't hiss and boo - unlike the

> free-speech-loving neutralitarians who

> replaced them.

I heard the entire meeting. There were about 4-5 spontaneous moments of applause during a presentation. Otherwise, the crowd politely held applause for everyone until after their presentation.

Robb Topolski

PS: I do, however, GIVE YOU SINCERE CREDIT for not delaying the meeting when the slides you brought weren't ready. I might have panicked and held things up trying to get them, but instead you kept things going.

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Robb Topolski
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Richard Bennett: Was incorrect, Still incorrect, Always incorrect

> BitTorrent [gets its performance boost] as a direct

> consequence of its scalability, by running dozens

> (or even hundreds) of TCP streams concurrently.

For each swarm, BitTorrent only uploads to 3-4 streams at any given time, out of somewhere around 40 streams that it establishes. The remaining streams are dormant and nearly silent. Using CATV-Internet, the low upload allocation given all customers normally permits no more than two or three active swarms at any given time. These fact breaks your next assumption ...

> The proliferation of streams gives BitTorrent

> immunity, at least partially, from the Internet's

> packet-drop-triggered congestion management system.

Given that you have set your readers up to believe that BitTorrent is actively exchanging data at a high rate of speed over dozens or hundreds of connections, your readers might accept your untested, unproven assumption as fact.

The truth is that anywhere from 3 to 12 of those streams will be actively uploading at any one time. The dozens (not hundreds) of other streams are quite silent and are not contributing to any congestion. The "packet-drop-triggered congestion management system," therefore, only needs to quell 3 to 12 streams and this works very effectively.

Evidence that this works can be found in the hundreds of daily posts on BitTorrent support boards from users who have mis-configured their clients and try to upload faster than their own modems can handle. Because of the "packet-drop-triggered congestion management system," they achieve poor upload AND DOWNLOAD speeds, owing to the fact that dropped outgoing ACK and REQUEST packets are causing delays and retransmissions.

> By contrast, most Internet traffic moving upstream on

> residential broadband networks comes from applications

> with no more than one stream active at a time.

This claim is not only unsubstantiated, it is incorrect in any manner that you might try to consider it.

If you are talking about "Most" as in surfing (http requests), then most internet traffic comes from web browsers -- often 2 simultaneous connections PER SERVER. Due to advertising, most pages are made up from resources on multiple servers. This comments page draws advertising, images, code, and content from five (5) servers. Loading this page opens 10, not one but 10, simultaneous streams making HTTP requests.

If "most" means the amount of upload traffic, then most of that comes from BitTorrent P2P. As I said above, this will consume 3-4 active streams per swarm, and someone would normally operate 1-3 swarms at a time.

These facts completely invalidate your argument, as any packet-drop-triggered congestion management would quell BitTorrent's 3-12 upload streams AT LEAST just as well as it would a web browser's approximately 10 upload streams.

You seriously need to stop spouting this defective argument . It is like an addiction. So any time you hear yourself saying "hundreds of connections," please snap a rubberband that you keep around your wrist until this unwanted habit goes away.

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Comcast pays Americans to oppose net neutrality

Robb Topolski
Stop

@Tiger re Competition

--Quote -- @Tiger--

There is no monopoly in the industry - in fact there has never been so much competitions - telcos, satellite, cable, and IPTV providers - the whole industry is under rapid change - even Apple competes in this space. Yet prices still go up.

--EndQuote--

And you just disproved your own assertion. Competition does not drive prices upward.

At my address, I have these wireline "Broadband" choices:

1. Comcast 6000/384 with an unknown bandwidth cap;

2. Verizon DSL 768/128 with no cap, at about half the price as Comcast

After that is Wireless:

3. VerizonWireless EDVO 384/384 with 5 GB monthly cap;

4. Satellite starting at 2x the price than any of the above.

That's not a healthy market where competition will level the playing field -- and I'm lucky to have the two wireline choices that I have.

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BitTorrent busts Comcast BitTorrent busting

Robb Topolski

@Richard Bennett, Re: WTF?

> You seem to believe that it's impossible

> to seed on the Comcast network

Nice try at a subject change. Go put words into someone else's mouth. I do not need your abuse. You've pulled this crap repeatedly. As I told you and George the last time we tried this -- it's pointless. You don't want to discuss and examine, you simply aim to "win" (whatever that means) by outlasting anyone who tries to converse with you about this.

In my neighborhood, using BitTorrent, what I've said was "39% of connections are terminated using the RST flag." And as I've told you both in private and public, I have no problems reaching my desired maximum upload speeds (usually around 16 kB/s - 20 kB/s). I've also told you and the public that I cannot upload at all on Gnutella.

http://www.dslreports.com/forum/r18323368-Comcast-is-using-Sandvine-to-manage-P2P-Connections

Richard, stop being an ass. I've tested this. I've published my results. It's observable and reproducible (and it subsequently has been independently reproduced by the AP and the EFF and finally even admitted by both Sandvine and Comcast itself). You're the only one left -- well, you and George Ou -- who seems to be in denial and deflection mode.

I'm done with you. I started with a fair amount of esteem for you, but I have none left. You've outlasted me, for whatever that is worth to you.

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Robb Topolski

@Richard Bennett, Re: Private Trackers

Well, you can ask Cade for verification should you doubt me, but I actually said during this interview -- practically verbatim -- the words that you thought I should say. I also mentioned that the very thought of 'private trackers' seemed antithetical to file sharing. While I have little use for private trackers, they are more popular than public ones. I did not mislead Cade at all. I said those things.

But neither you, nor I, nor Comcast are in the business of collecting royalties for copyright holders. Comcast's actions are network management to ensure a positive user experience, according to its response to the FCC. It doesn't mention copyright or piracy as any motivation. Neither Vuze, the Free Press, Comcast, or I seem to believe that copyright enforcement is relevant to this conversation. It is an issue that only seems to distract from the issue at hand. This is probably why (I'm guessing) that the subject of copyright does not appear in Cade's article -- it is a distraction from the issue.

The issue is whether Comcast's actions affect downloads -- and, yes, they do in exactly the ways I described.

But as for the talking KJV, while the text may be in the Public Domain, the recording is likely covered by an active mechanical copyright. I accidentally run into that myself, from time to time, with some of my downloads -- when the musical composition and arrangement are old enough to be in the Public Domain but the recorded performance is not. Again, it's not relevant and is an easy mistake to make. Mistakes are mistakes and have no nefarious intent -- I'm not accusing anybody of anything. In my case, when I figure it out, I delete the file and move on. (Since it's the Bible, maybe the performer/publisher intentionally avoided mechanically copyrighting the work -- so it might be okay after all.)

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Robb Topolski
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@Richard Bennett, Re: Gullible

"... I don't consider poor Robb Topolski's addle-brained theories 'facts.' ..."

Why, thank you! Now how about a little substance to your attack -- what theory of mine are you taking issue with?

"... If he wants to maintain high standing with the private trackers that

support piracy, he should do his seeding in the off hours when network

management is not in effect on Comcast's network. ..."

And precisely what time would that be, Richard? You see, I have run the tests around the clock, and I have monitored that the same rate of interference exists around the clock. It is not dependent upon network congestion.

I have also explained this to you on more than one occasion. Yet you seem bent on attacking me personally rather than exploring the facts or explaining the findings. After all of this time, one might begin to think that you have more of an interest in advancing an agenda than in finding the truth.

... "The new obfuscation scheme isn't going to work, it's simply

another nuisance that all the ISPs will have to deal with on the way

to metered pricing."

Generally, I agree with you that the obfuscation extension is -- if anything -- just another weapon in a cat-and-mouse war. However, I don't see Verizon running toward a metered plan, regardless. At least they know who their customers are.

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Robb Topolski
Gates Halo

@system Re: Doing everything we can

Regarding the new BitTorrent extension, I don't get it either. Their overall strategy has not been shared with me, but for the very reasons you have mentioned here -- both the effectiveness and the lifetime of this BitTorrent extension seem to be limited.

And maybe THAT's the plan. Every time one of these DPI devices needs an upgrade, the Cable-Internet companies bleed. Comcast and its CableLabs cohorts now have no choice but to pony up.

I suspect that the Cable-Internet industry has relied on DPI for so long to keep their bandwidth costs down, that to ditch it now would mean having to spend the time and unacceptable amounts of money to do the upgrades that DPI has enabled them to "delay." (heh, interesting word, isn't it).

So by upping the anti in the war for a neutral Internet, perhaps the BitTorrent people really only intend to show them that the industry has left itself vulnerable. By making a minor change on the users end, major outlays have to be made at the ISP end.

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Dismantling a Religion: The EFF's Faith-Based Internet

Robb Topolski
Stop

Far more experts disagree with Richard Bennett than agree with him...

Read through the comments on the NNSquad mailing list, the public statements of noted Internet founders and experts, and you'll see that Richard Bennett is in the minority on this matter.

Furthermore, when you attempt to discuss these facts with Richard (or his "Mini-Me" ZDNet columnist George Ou), they both resort to personal attacks rather than fact-based answers. They both intend to win by pure endurance what they cannot win based on the facts.

For all of Richard's years in the field, which I acknowledge and respect, his article and the several nearly-duplicate tomes that he has wrtten on the subject are riddled with factual errors and suppositions on his belief, and not on data. His belief is based on his often-mistaken understanding of BitTorrent specifically and the robustness of IP-based protocols in general. We need not list these errors again, because Richard believes he is correct despite any facts to the contrary. However, read the numerous comments to his past diatribes, and it becomes obvious that Richard doesn't read and consider when he can write and pontificate, instead.

There is nothing wrong with faith, Richard, until it is added to stubbornness.

--Robb Topolski

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