Random thoughts.... [Tech Edition]

93Flareside

Döner Kebab enthusiast
DONOR
Joined
Jul 20, 2009
Messages
19,098
Location
42 miles outside of Chicago
Car(s)
‘18 VW Golf GTI, '87 Mercury Colony Park
95% certainty it's just lint. Take a toothpick and poke around in there, you'll be surprised how much fluff it collects from sitting in a pocket for a while. Don't worry, nothing in there can break from a wooden toothpick or similar instrument - use some force and get into the back corners properly. Lightning ports are notorious for this, I clean mine every 1-2 months and it's noticeable every time.

I did that, didn’t fix the issue. :(
 

Matt2000

An Unfortunate Discovery
DONOR
Joined
Feb 17, 2006
Messages
15,358
Location
Left a bit, no right a bit, just there. England.
Car(s)
2020 Tesla Model 3, 1990 Discovery 1 Bobtail
I use a camera air blower or if you have access to an air line even better, just made sure it won't blow oil in there. Not that I ever have to blow out USB ports with these magnetic adapters I keep mentioning. I should damn well be on the payroll now.
 

93Flareside

Döner Kebab enthusiast
DONOR
Joined
Jul 20, 2009
Messages
19,098
Location
42 miles outside of Chicago
Car(s)
‘18 VW Golf GTI, '87 Mercury Colony Park
Yeah, my compressor has a drier on it so in theory, no moisture should get through. I can try blowing out the jack, but this is starting to feel similar to how my SE started to work toward the end of its life.
 

Tram

Ring, ring!
DONOR
Joined
Mar 1, 2019
Messages
515
Location
Croatia
My phone's gonna turn two years old tomorrow and the headphones I got with it got really, really silent. It's a pair of Huawei CW33 USB-C earbuds.

They used to be good when they were new, but now I can barely hear them on max volume while I'm in a train. I tried cleaning them with Q-tips, toothpicks and alcohol, but that didn't help. Therefore I think it's time for a new pair.

I've been looking into getting another pair of these, which can be done for some 10€, but I'm not sure about it. I did get a USB-C to 3.5mm adaptor with the phone as well, so I can use any headphones I want.

Is there any benefit of going for USB-C headphones over 3.5mm ones that I'd use with an adaptor? I know there's a benfit of the 3.5mm ones in sense that I can use them with other devices.

Ideally, I'd like something equally good or better sounding, equally portable (most of the time I'm using them I do so while on train) and with a microphone and an answering button.

Any inexpensive ideas?
 

Matt2000

An Unfortunate Discovery
DONOR
Joined
Feb 17, 2006
Messages
15,358
Location
Left a bit, no right a bit, just there. England.
Car(s)
2020 Tesla Model 3, 1990 Discovery 1 Bobtail
As far as I'm aware the USB-C connector just carries the analogue audio and passes it through the adapter, so any headphones that already have the connector are just cutting out the middle-man. The audio will still be the same.

I looked up the earbuds and I personally find that design awful so finding something better should be possible, I'll leave that to others as I've only deal with Bluetooth Sony headsets in the last 8 years or something. :p
 

Perc

Very Odd Looking Vehicular Object
Joined
Mar 31, 2008
Messages
5,295
Location
Finland
Car(s)
Insignia CT 4x4 CDTI Biturbo
Why are apps and cloud services made by "old" companies almost always complete crap?

For example, the Mitsubishi Electric split AC I just set up... well, the cloud part of it, anyway. The indoor unit has wi-fi and comes with an app that looks and behaves like it's in early beta. It does the job, but it could be so much better. It's as if the people in charge don't understand what "cloud" actually is, so they just give the project to the CEO's nephew to develop in a weekend with a budget of €5. According to wikipedia, Mitsubishi Electric has a yearly revenue of 14 billion USD.

At the same time I installed a surveillance camera by Ring, a fairly young company that just got bought by Amazon a while back. The app is well polished and stable and very easy to use. The hardware is excellent too, but that's beside the point.
 

93Flareside

Döner Kebab enthusiast
DONOR
Joined
Jul 20, 2009
Messages
19,098
Location
42 miles outside of Chicago
Car(s)
‘18 VW Golf GTI, '87 Mercury Colony Park
Why are apps and cloud services made by "old" companies almost always complete crap?

For example, the Mitsubishi Electric split AC I just set up... well, the cloud part of it, anyway. The indoor unit has wi-fi and comes with an app that looks and behaves like it's in early beta. It does the job, but it could be so much better. It's as if the people in charge don't understand what "cloud" actually is, so they just give the project to the CEO's nephew to develop in a weekend with a budget of €5. According to wikipedia, Mitsubishi Electric has a yearly revenue of 14 billion USD.

At the same time I installed a surveillance camera by Ring, a fairly young company that just got bought by Amazon a while back. The app is well polished and stable and very easy to use. The hardware is excellent too, but that's beside the point.

I think it comes down to who's willing to pay what, where these developers are going, and what the executives of each company want.
 

gaasc

Desperately looking for a title
DONOR
Joined
Apr 26, 2008
Messages
8,938
Location
Honduras
Car(s)
3 of them
So about that Ring camera...

Not an EU concern yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if Amazon is also shopping around that service on Europe
 

Perc

Very Odd Looking Vehicular Object
Joined
Mar 31, 2008
Messages
5,295
Location
Finland
Car(s)
Insignia CT 4x4 CDTI Biturbo
So about that Ring camera...

Not an EU concern yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if Amazon is also shopping around that service on Europe

Its on an island, accessible by boat or snowmobile depending on season. The place has been in the family for four generations and nothing out of the ordinary has happened there ever. So I’m not too worried 😄
 

Matt2000

An Unfortunate Discovery
DONOR
Joined
Feb 17, 2006
Messages
15,358
Location
Left a bit, no right a bit, just there. England.
Car(s)
2020 Tesla Model 3, 1990 Discovery 1 Bobtail
Having a big session of synchronising my cloud photo storage for the old idea of storing things in multiple places, I find this really quite relaxing. Including required Mac VM for ordering albums on iCloud because they didn't bother to add this simple feature to the browser version.

Screenshot (177).png


Also I think I'm making good use of the unlimited photo storage that I get with Prime membership.

1590360908619.png
 

Matt2000

An Unfortunate Discovery
DONOR
Joined
Feb 17, 2006
Messages
15,358
Location
Left a bit, no right a bit, just there. England.
Car(s)
2020 Tesla Model 3, 1990 Discovery 1 Bobtail
Anyone know of a device that straight up amplifies the audio of an HDMI signal? The audio level of the Tivo box I have hooked up is pretty low for some reason and I've had enough of cranking the volume up every time I switch over to it.

Not looking for anything to extract the audio, just a little black box to amplify it and send it on its way. I can't find anything that does this, not even DIY kits.
 

GRtak

Forum Addict
Joined
Sep 6, 2008
Messages
21,130
Location
Michigan USA
https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy...tire-neighborhoods-to-punish-any-heavy-users/

Cox slows Internet speeds in entire neighborhoods to punish any heavy users

Cox warns customers to lower usage, imposes 10Mbps upload limit on “gigabit” plan.

Cox Communications is lowering Internet upload speeds in entire neighborhoods to stop what it considers "excessive usage," in a decision that punishes both heavy Internet users and their neighbors.


Cox, a cable company with about 5.2 million broadband customers in the United States, has been sending notices to some heavy Internet users warning them to use less data and notifying them of neighborhood-wide speed decreases. In the case we will describe in this article, a gigabit customer who was paying $50 extra per month for unlimited data was flagged by Cox because he was using 8TB to 12TB a month.


Cox responded by lowering the upload speeds on the gigabit-download plan from 35Mbps to 10Mbps for the customer's whole neighborhood. Cox confirmed to Ars that it has imposed neighborhood-wide slowdowns in multiple neighborhoods in cases like this one but didn't say how many excessive users are enough to trigger a speed decrease.



Mike, a Cox customer from Gainesville, Florida, pays $150 a month, including $100 for 1Gbps download speeds and 35Mbps upload speeds, and another $50 for "unlimited data" so that he can go over Cox's 1TB data cap. Mike told Ars via email that most of his 8TB+ monthly use consists of scheduled device backups and "data sharing via various (encrypted) information-sharing protocols," such as peer-to-peer networks, between 1am and 8am. (We agreed to publish Mike's first name only but reviewed his bills and confirmed the basic details of his account with Cox.)


Generally speaking, data usage for most households declines significantly during those 1am-8am overnight hours, so a robustly built broadband network should be able to handle the traffic. In any case, Mike couldn't use more than 35Mbps for uploads at any given time because that's the limit Cox always imposed on its gigabit-download cable plan. Mike said his household's daytime and evening use is more like a typical Internet user's, with work-from-home activities during the day and streaming video in high-definition during the evening.


Mike also said his level of Internet usage has been roughly the same for the past four years that he's been using Cox—but it was only in mid-May that the company flagged him for excessive use. This may suggest that Cox is struggling to handle pandemic-level broadband traffic, but Cox says that the vast majority of its network is "performing very well."


Cox provided a little more detail after this story published, saying that the neighborhood-wide slowdowns and disconnection threats sent to individual customers "are two separate initiatives that could cross over in some cases."

“Scheduled for termination”

First, Mike got three calls from Cox including one that left a voicemail saying, "we need to speak with you regarding your Internet usage. Your home is using an extraordinarily high amount of Internet data and adjustments need to be made immediately." The voicemail warned that your "Internet will be scheduled for termination" unless usage reductions are "made within five days," according to Mike.


Mike explained how he responded:


Since I work from home, I naturally was very concerned they would pull the plug on me and I'd be unable to work. Immediately calling the number [provided in the voicemail], I was funneled directly to a department for "questions about your recent Internet speed changes," and spoke with a representative there. He went on to explain that their network is overburdened and since I was an above-average user, I was being targeted to lower my usage or else have my account terminated... I tried to explain that my usage is not out of the ordinary for me. My day-time bandwidth usage is paltry (most of my bandwidth consumption is scheduled from 1am-8am), and that Cox should have been upgrading their infrastructure instead of oversubscribing nodes and pocketing the record revenue. I was told if I did not make a substantial decrease in my upload data usage, my service would be terminated.

Comments in a Reddit thread last month confirm that Mike isn't the only Cox customer being warned to cut upload speeds in order to avoid being kicked off the network. Cox didn't tell Mike exactly how much data he'd have to shave off his monthly usage. There was "no magic number or threshold, just an arbitrary amount of decrease, a Cox-deemed 'good effort,'" or his service would be cut off, he said.


Shortly after that phone call, Mike received an email from Cox with the subject line, "Alert: Action required to continue your Internet service." Mike provided Ars with a copy of the email.


"We've recently tried getting in touch with you about your service—your account has been identified as using an extremely high level of bandwidth, which is causing a negative impact on our network and our other customers across your neighborhood," the email said. Mike's "extraordinarily high" upload usage "is negatively impacting Internet service of other customers, which is a violation of our Acceptable Use Policy, the email said. The policy contains a broad prohibition on transmitting amounts of data large enough to disrupt the network, but it doesn't specify an amount.


The real kicker is that Cox's email to Mike said that everyone in his neighborhood will get lower upload speeds until July 15:


During these unprecedented times, many people are working and schooling from home, and maintaining connectivity is important. We are working to provide a positive Internet experience for everyone, so we've adjusted our Gigablast upload speeds in your neighborhood from 35Mbps to 10Mbps, now through July 15, 2020. Your download speeds have not changed.

Cox's email doesn't specifically state that Mike's usage spurred the decision to impose a neighborhood-wide slowdown, but this is apparently only happening in a small percentage of neighborhoods where Cox has seen heavier use than elsewhere in its network.

Questions for Cox

This raises several questions that we asked Cox. We asked the cable company why its network is "unable to handle Mike's uploads in the middle of the night" and whether it has "considered adding capacity to its network instead of forcing unlimited-data customers to use less data." We asked Cox how much data, specifically, customers who pay for unlimited data are actually allowed to use, and "Why isn't Mike allowed to use unlimited data when he is paying for the highest speeds and paying extra for unlimited data?"


We also asked why Cox is imposing slowdowns throughout entire neighborhoods instead of only on the people allegedly violating the Acceptable Use Policy and whether the slowdowns are imposed even when only a single customer in a neighborhood is flagged for excessive usage. We also asked how many people in Mike's neighborhood are affected by the upload-speed decrease and whether they will get discounts to reflect their reduced service.


Cox didn't provide as much detail as we were looking for, but it confirmed the neighborhood-wide speed decreases, saying it has "identified a small number of neighborhoods where performance can be improved for all customers in the neighborhood by temporarily increasing or maintaining download speeds and changing upload speeds for some of our service tiers."


Cox defended the temporary 10Mbps upload speed for its gigabit-download plan, saying that "10Mbps is plenty of speed for the vast majority of customers to continue their regular activity and have a positive experience." Of course, customers paying extra for Cox's fastest plan and unlimited data are more likely to be outliers who do need high upstream bandwidth. Unlike fiber-to-the-home service, in which ISPs offer symmetrical upstream and downstream speeds, cable service generally has much lower uploads than downloads. Cox offers symmetrical gigabit speeds in some areas where it has deployed fiber directly to homes but provides slower upload speeds on its cable network. Cable users may eventually get symmetrical upload and download speeds from an upgrade to DOCSIS, the Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification.


A Cox webpage that was updated on April 30 says that the gigabit plan's upload speeds are now "10Mbps in limited areas to support consistent service across customers during periods of sustained increased Internet usage."


The now-repealed net neutrality rules likely wouldn't have prevented this kind of data slowdown, as the slowdown would presumably fall under an exception for "reasonable network management." But the Obama-era system in which ISPs were regulated as common carriers gave more rights to consumers to complain about unreasonable rates and practices, perhaps giving extra impetus to ISPs to upgrade their networks instead of limiting their users. Cox is a private company and thus doesn't report network-upgrade spending publicly, but major ISPs such as Comcast, AT&T, and Charter have reduced network spending since the FCC repealed its net neutrality rules and common-carrier regulation. (Update: Harold Feld, senior VP of consumer-advocacy group Public Knowledge, says that "Cox's going after unspecified 'excess uploaders' would probably have violated the enhanced disclosure rules under the 2015 net neutrality order.")


Cox told Ars that it "will continue to work with anyone who is violating our Acceptable Use Policy with excessive use to help ensure everyone can have a positive Internet experience."

Cox says network “performing very well”

Cox told Ars its "network is performing very well overall" during the pandemic, and that out of 28,000 neighborhood nodes across the US, 98 to 99 percent "are performing with adequate capacity even with the tremendous level of increased peak usage." If Cox's 5.2 million paying broadband customers are spread equally across nodes, each node would serve about 185 households.


Cox said that it always "keep a close eye at the individual node level to make sure we don't approach any congestion thresholds and need to make any adjustments. Similar to our normal process, if we see the network reach or exceed utilization thresholds we will accelerate network upgrade plans in the impacted areas. This could include splitting nodes, pulling additional fiber, equipment swaps and/or core network changes, all of which add capacity to the area."


But those measures apparently aren't enough to handle users like Mike, Cox said:


In some instances a number of excessive users, like the customer you referenced, are causing congestion problems in a small number of neighborhoods by utilizing over 100-200 times more upstream bandwidth than the average household. This type of excessive usage is negatively impacting the service of other customers, which is a violation of our Acceptable Use Policy. It is not our desire to terminate anyone's service, but we may need to address excessive usage out of fairness to the rest of our customers, especially during this time when households are even more dependent on a good Internet experience...
In the case of the customer you mentioned, we have communicated with him about our concerns and it appears he has made adjustments to his usage to operate within our Acceptable Use Policy.

Mike confirmed to Ars that he has lowered his use by limiting overnight upload speeds to 400kbps, "so that it is always throttled." His usage in the 2.5 weeks since May 22 is 2.1TB, putting him well below his usual monthly pace.

Pandemic spurs extra broadband use

Broadband networks have mostly held up well during the pandemic. Cable-lobby group NCTA, which represents Cox and other cable companies, says that "networks are engineered to provide superior performance throughout the day" and that "provider-backbone networks have significant capacity and show no signs of congestion." Since March 1, NCTA says that peak upstream traffic has risen 26.2 percent and peak download traffic has risen 9.1 percent.


Cox told us that "a small percentage of nodes... were approaching congestion levels prior to" the pandemic, and that "the dramatically increased use in those neighborhoods has pushed [them] beyond the threshold where performance will be impacted. These speed adjustments are temporary while we try to keep as many people as possible connected during the crisis."


Mike said he suspects Cox is limiting upload speeds "because their network can't handle the increase of residential live video conference streaming" that has happened during the pandemic. Recently, Mike said he has been seeing upload speeds of only 4Mbps to 5Mbps.

Coming soon: A price increase

Mike's bill is currently lower than usual because Cox, like other ISPs, is providing unlimited data to all customers during the pandemic. The waiver of the $50 monthly unlimited-data charge temporarily knocked his bill down to $100, and Cox provided a further $20 discount on his latest bill. Mike's bill doesn't explain the reason for the $20 credit, but it could be because of the new upload data limit.


But Cox is already signaling that Mike is in for a price increase in the near future. Today, Mike told Ars that "I just got an alert after logging in that my one-year introduction rate is now over, so I'll be paying $175 a month for 'unlimited' data once the current data-overage exceptions expire. Yay."



Doesn't sound like an unlimited plan to me.
 

argatoga

Can't Start His Wank
Joined
Oct 4, 2005
Messages
18,201
Location
Seattle
Car(s)
'13 Moto Guzzi V7, '08 Pontiac Solstice GXP
My 2013 MacBook Pro's latest attempt at suicide was foiled by me again. It took 4 hours, but with the help of some fishing line, fifty gallons of rubbing alcohol, and toe nail clippers I was able to install a new battery.
 

argatoga

Can't Start His Wank
Joined
Oct 4, 2005
Messages
18,201
Location
Seattle
Car(s)
'13 Moto Guzzi V7, '08 Pontiac Solstice GXP
Anyone know of a device that straight up amplifies the audio of an HDMI signal? The audio level of the Tivo box I have hooked up is pretty low for some reason and I've had enough of cranking the volume up every time I switch over to it.

Not looking for anything to extract the audio, just a little black box to amplify it and send it on its way. I can't find anything that does this, not even DIY kits.

The sane choice would be an amp with presets per input, but I'd advocate for wasting a month or two of your life with some Frankenstein Raspberry Pi project.
 

GRtak

Forum Addict
Joined
Sep 6, 2008
Messages
21,130
Location
Michigan USA
 

GRtak

Forum Addict
Joined
Sep 6, 2008
Messages
21,130
Location
Michigan USA
Is that a toaster cover?
 

93Flareside

Döner Kebab enthusiast
DONOR
Joined
Jul 20, 2009
Messages
19,098
Location
42 miles outside of Chicago
Car(s)
‘18 VW Golf GTI, '87 Mercury Colony Park
I suppose it could be used for one but it's actually the dust bag from a 1990s handheld vacuum cleaner. I'll get a picture of the thing once it's back together.

The US made vacuum cleaners post cold war? We really do suck.
 
Top