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Ethiopia restricts internet access amidst new protests

Reports indicate that authorities in Ethiopia have restricted access to social media in the wake of renewed clashes that have led to deaths in the Oromia region.

A popular news portal, Addis Standard, said access to regular internet was impossible in the affected areas which included the capital, Addis Ababa.

According to the portal, the restriction “came amidst increasing reports of student protests in various university campuses against the killing of a student in Adigrat Univ at least 15 civilians in Chelenko.

Access is however possible via the use of Virtual Private Networks (VPN) connections. More often than not when internet cuts are imposed, people are advised to switch to VPNs for access.

VPNs are basically network setup for use by a limited number of individuals, such as employees of a company and are often encrypted for security.

It is not the first time the country has resorted to internet cuts for political reasons. But the most recent case was in June this year, when access was cut during a national examination.

The move was defended at the time by authorities as a means of securing the integrity of the Grade 10 and 12 university entrance examinations.

“The shutdown is aimed at preventing a repeat of leaks that occurred last year,” one Mohammed Seid, public relations director of Ethiopia’s Office for Government Communications Affairs, told Reuters.

The recent protests have been blamed partly on federal forces and a paramilitary unit of the neighbouring Ethiopian-Somali regional state, the Liyu Police.

The government has in the past accused activists of abusing social media to spread inciting material that has often led to anti-government protests. The government in August this year lifted a state of emergency imposed in October 2016 to quell similar protests in the Oromia and Amhara regions.

NSD to provide students with home access to technology, internet

Students may soon have the ability to check out Chromebooks and Wi-Fi hotspots and use them at home free of charge through a new program for Title 1 schools in the Newhall School District.

Called the “NSD Home Connect Program,” the initiative is expected to be reviewed and discussed during the district’s Governing Board meeting Tuesday.

This program aims to eliminate a digital divide or “Homework Gap” between students with adequate, home Internet access and students with no internet access.

According to the Newhall District, this Homework Gap most significantly impacts low-income students and jeopardizes their performance in school.

By offering Chromebooks and Wi-Fi hotspots to students in the district’s five Title 1 schools—McGrath, Newhall, Old Orchard, Peachland and Wiley Canyon—the district is working to decrease this achievement gap with students in fourth grade to sixth grade.

“In the Newhall School District, our goal through the ‘NSD Home Connect Program’ is provide support to our students and families by providing them home access via a ‘smart spot’ and Chromebook that students in grades 4-6 can check out from their school for a designated period of time,” the agenda item read.

In addition, the Kajeet SmartSpot Wi-Fi device will provide students with “safe, education-only” Internet access that does not allow them to open any entertainment, adult or inappropriate content.

The devices from the district are also expected to be scheduled so students cannot use them between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.

In total, the district is expected to purchase 210 Chromebooks and 210 Smartspots, or Wi-Fi hotspots, for the five schools.  Each school is expected to receive a different amount of devices with 50 at McGrath, 45 at Newhall, 30 at Old Orchard, 35 at Peachland and 40 at Wiley Canyon.

Altogether the devices are expected to cost a total of $110,325.32, which will be paid for from the district’s Title 1 Supplemental Educational Services (SES) budget.

Student Emails

The Newhall School District is also considering providing all students in fourth grade to sixth grade with access to their own NSD Gmail account.

According to the district, this decision is necessary so students can access all of the resources on their Chromebooks.  It also has been requested by the NSD Technology Committee for the past two years so students can collaborate and be prepared for their futures in the William S. Hart Union High School District.

During Tuesday’s meeting, the Governing Board is expected to review a revised board policy and exhibit on the Student Use of Technology that address the student email accounts and clarifies the student use of technology.

According to this policy, students can access their account from anywhere once they have an internet connection.  These student emails will be used to communicate reminders and course content and ask questions related to class work.

However, students will not be able to send emails to parent accounts or anyone outside of the Newhall District domain.

In addition, the policy addresses an Acceptable Use Agreement students and parents are expected to sign before a student receives their own email address.

MainOne, Tizeti, Facebook expand internet access in Lagos Mainland

MainOne and Tizeti today announced the completion of a joint development project with Facebook to enable the expansion of internet services in Lagos.

The partnership will leverage MainOne’s fiber connectivity, Tizeti’s twenty brand-new solar-powered towers, and Facebook’s Express Wi-Fi.

As a result of this project, internet services will be more accessible across Lagos Mainland including Ajao Estate, Surulere, Ikeja, Omole, Magodo, Gbagada, Oworonshoki, Bariga, Anthony Village, Ogudu, Ojota, Ketu and Alapere.

Speaking on the partnership, Chief Executive Officer, Tizeti, Kendall Ananyi, said, “Access to fast and reliable unlimited Wi-Fi connectivity has been a problem for most Nigerian residential customers and small businesses for too long. This partnership aims to demonstrate a sustainable and cost-effective solution to the under-served areas of Lagos State through our solar-powered, always-on Wi-Fi towers, and robust internet bandwidth from MainOne.”

Tizeti has built and will operate the solar-powered Wi-Fi Towers across Lagos while MainOne will provide multiple Gbps internet bandwidth to the outdoor towers via a mix of fiber-optic and microwave backhaul connections. This internet service will be delivered to end users via Wi-Fi, including via Express Wi-Fi hotspots deployed by Tizeti in Lagos. This partnership supports the three partners’ shared goal of connecting more people to high quality internet services in the most cost-effective way.

MainOne’s Chief Executive Officer, Ms. Funke Opeke, lauded Tizeti and Facebook’s commitment to improving the quality and lowering costs of Internet services in Lagos. Commenting on the partnership, she added “This project leverages our Internet capacity, investment in terrestrial fiber-optic infrastructure and points of presence for service delivery across Lagos State. We’re committed to improving the quality of access and accelerating the digital transformation of small businesses.”

Ibrahima Ba, Facebook Connectivity Programs, said, “We are committed to working with partners across Africa and elsewhere to support connectivity initiatives and develop better internet infrastructure in communities that lack reliable and affordable access.”

 



Despite falling prices, cost of internet access remains out of reach for billions

By Emeka Aginam

New research just released by Alliance for Affordable Internet , A4AI, has showed that  broadband affordability is improving across the globe, though  the cost to connect remains out of reach for many  in the developing world, including Nigeria.

A4AI is the world’s broadest technology sector coalition working to reduce the cost of internet access to enable universal, affordable access for all.

257b9_1x1.trans Despite falling prices, cost of internet access remains out of reach for billions

257b9_1x1.trans Despite falling prices, cost of internet access remains out of reach for billions

While the Nigerian telecommunication regulatory authority, the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, is making  efforts to  meeting the 2018 broadband penetration target of 30 per cent, according to the study, 1GB costs Nigerian citizens an average of 1.5% of monthly income, an improvement on data from a year prior where 1GB cost around 6% of average monthly income.

However, high levels of income inequality in Nigeria, according to AAI study suggested that even at this seemingly affordable price, many may still not be able to afford to connect.

In Ghana, the study further suggest that 1GB costs citizens around 4% of average monthly income — an increase on cost figures from the previous year.

The data released by the A4AI examined the cost of mobile data plans across 59 low- and middle-income countries and finds that while prices are declining on the whole, only a third of the assessed countries have affordable internet.

While affordability is improving globally, just 19 countries have affordable internet (i.e., where 1GB of mobile prepaid data is available for 2% or less of average monthly income). No regional average meets this affordability target.

The Asia-Pacific region, A4AI   the study has  the most affordable prices  across the 17 countries in the region surveyed for the study, 1GB of mobile prepaid data costs citizens 2.5% of their average (monthly) income.

“The cost of data remains highest in Africa  across the 27 African countries surveyed, 1GB costs citizens 9.3% of income, on average; Africa did, however, experience the most significant cost reductions of any region  with an average drop of 3.2 percentage points”, the research explained.

 

 



Intel Chip Flaw Enables Malware to Gain Full Access to Computer Assets

Today’s topics include the revelation that a flaw in Intel processors allows undetectable malware; Google blocking Amazon Fire TV and Echo Show users from accessing YouTube; Apple Pay Cash allowing person-to-person payment capabilities from Apple devices; and HP and Asus offering “Always Connected PCs” that run Windows 10 on Arm-based processors.

A flaw in Intel processors allows malware to reside undetectable on nearly any recent Intel-based computer manufactured since at least 2015, researchers from Positive Technologies revealed Dec. 6 at Black Hat Europe.

The malware, which is located inside a processor’s Management Engine, has access to everything on or passing through the computer, regardless of encryption or other protective technologies.

The Management Engine embedded in each Intel processor starts running when the computer starts up and keeps running as long as there’s power to the processor, allowing the malware to siphon off data when a computer is in use.

Once the malware gets inside the Management Engine, it’s impossible to remove and nearly undetectable. Intel has published an alert regarding this vulnerability, and has published a tool to determine a processor’s level of vulnerability.

Starting Jan. 1, Google will block people using Amazon’s Fire TV digital media player from directly accessing and viewing YouTube videos. This is the latest incident in an escalating business battle between the two companies.

Google is already blocking YouTube access on Echo Show, Amazon’s new smart speaker with an integrated display. The reason for these moves, according to a Google spokesman, is that “Amazon doesn’t carry Google products like Chromecast and Google Home, doesn’t make Prime Video available for Google Cast users, and last month stopped selling some of Nest’s latest products.”

The spokesman said Google hopes the companies “can reach an agreement to resolve these issues soon.” An Amazon spokesman did not comment on his company’s treatment of Google’s products, but expressed disapproval of Google’s plans and said they are working on resolving the issue.

Announced Dec. 5, Apple Pay Cash features have been added to Apple Pay, enabling iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch users to send or receive money directly to and from other users.

With the new service, Apple now puts its full payment services on par with competitors like Venmo, Square Cash, PayPal and Google Wallet, which already allow person-to-person money transfers in the United States.

With Apple Pay Cash, users will be able to send direct payments to others right from an iMessage on their Apple devices, where they are already communicating with friends.

Apple device users can also use Apple Pay Cash to send gifts, securely split restaurant and household bills, and make secure purchases in stores.

Hewlett Packard and Asus announced on Dec. 5 the completion of “Always Connected PCs” that run Windows 10 on Arm-based processors.

Always Connected PCs are a device class outfitted with mobile chips, long-lasting battery life and cellular connectivity options that alleviate the need to hunt down WiFi networks while on the road.

Microsoft Vice President Terry Myerson said of the PCs, “The screen is instantly on whenever I pick up the device. I never have to wait for it to wake up—it’s just on.” In the spring of 2018, HP will ship the Envy x2, powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chip and bundled with Windows 10 S, although buyers will be able to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro.

Asus, meanwhile, is billing its new NovaGo convertible laptop as the “world’s first Gigabit LTE laptop,” a 13.3-inch Windows 10 S device that features a Qualcomm X16 LTE modem for brisk downloads over compatible networks.

Thanks for watching. Follow the links on this page to learn more about the stories mentioned in this broadcast. And check back every weekday for another Daily Tech Briefing from eWEEK.com.

Changes with internet access possible

Imagine scrolling through Facebook only to come across a video that can’t be played because internet service providers require customers to pay extra for video streaming.

This and more could become reality as the Federal Communications Commission considers rescinding a 2015 regulatory decision.

Websites and streaming services that users have become accustomed to having access to could be placed behind an additional paywall or slowed down.
Gina Elias, Illinois Valley Community College computer networking instructor and program coordinator, said net neutrality rules that ensure fair access of the internet are widely discussed in her classes. But others may be excluded from the conversation because of complicated technical jargon.

What is net neutrality?
Net neutrality rules keep internet access consistent for all users.

Internet service providers, such as ATT and Mediacom, currently fall under the FCC’s Title II designation for common carriers such as electricity or landline telephone service.

“They just carry the message, that is all,” Elias said. “They can’t filter who you call or how much electricity. That’s the way ISPs should run under net neutrality.”

Elias said ISPs would prefer to negotiate with websites the same way cable or satellite television providers determine the prices to offer channels and networks to subscribers.

Higher price to do business in the ‘fast lane’
Elias said the ISPs hope to tap into additional income by prioritizing certain businesses, thus creating what’s widely described as a “fast lane” or “slow lane.”
Any person or business that owns a website negotiates only with its host and server. Without net neutrality, the ISPs would be able to negotiate with any website to make it available to the ISP’s customers. In other words, Mediacom could charge Amazon to be available to its internet customers.

Smaller or startup businesses may have a harder time standing out if they’re unable to pay absorbent fees that would be less of an expense for larger businesses.

“It hurts entrepreneurship,” Elias said. “I think it limits your ability to have diverse products to choose from because you’re obviously going to use the product that’s going to be faster.”

Under present rules, ISPs can regulate customers’ upload and download speeds, but cannot limit which sites customers visit or how those sites perform.

The change would allow an ISP to block access to certain sites or charge those sites different to operate at certain speeds. Verizon, which owns Yahoo!, could charge its customers a premium to use Google for searches or streaming video. Or Comcast could make Netflix stream at much slower speeds than its own video on demand service.

Internet access could resemble cable packages
ISPs also would no longer be required to offer complete internet access to all. Elias said they could offer “packages” similar to cable plans wherein basic access would only involve internet access and email while higher-cost packages could include streaming movies or specific social networks.

“It’s sort of like the more you use it the more you might pay or the more services you use the more you might pay,” Elias said.

She also used a cellular phone plan comparison wherein users are limited to a certain amount of data but can purchase more if they go over their allotment.
Companies such as Netflix already pay for increased bandwidth to companies like Comcast, meaning both the business and the customer would effectively be paying their ISP for the same service.

Theoretically, an internet user who just uses the internet to surf the web could find themselves with a lower bill, but Elias said that person may not realize what their needs are until coming across a video on a website that they’re unable to watch because they don’t have the right package.

Digital divide could widen
This could put internet users on uneven ground with certain people being able to access specific content on the internet that others can’t. Elias said this would especially be seen in the education field.

She teaches classes in labs at IVCC that involve online examples, but students could need to pay higher costs for access to the right internet plan to access that information, which would be in addition to general tuition. This disconnect between what sort of access students have can also be seen in grade schools and high schools as web tools have been integrated into education at all levels.
“If that isn’t available to everyone because they can’t afford it then I think that’s a shame,” Elias said.

Streator High School Superintendent Matt Seaton said students utilize Google Chromebooks and a variety of web-based tools such as Google Chrome.
Seaton said the school is aware of the conversations being had regarding net neutrality but is uncertain as to how it would affect the curriculum.
Part of that is because no one is quite sure what internet use will look like if these regulations are removed.

“It’s like a worm in your computer,” said Streator Public Library Director Cindy Maxwell. “Until it’s activated you don’t know how bad it’s going to be.”
Maxwell said the digital divide is already a barrier the library hopes to bridge by offering free internet access to students and residents who may not have it at home.

Some are taking timed tests and Maxwell worries if the library is unable to afford the highest quality internet connection it may lead to an impact on their grades.
“The brick and mortar concept of education has changed. Especially being in a rural location if they can’t afford housing and school and are looking for alternatives to advance their education,” Maxwell said. “It becomes a snowball effect.”

Maxwell said the library sometimes sees over 600 internet users a month and questions what would happen if the internet speeds were to drop or certain resources were unavailable.

“It’s heavy on my mind,” Maxwell said. “I think about it and the chokehold that could be created.”

The library offers a wide variety of online books and resources that may be more difficult to access.

Additionally, she’s concerned about how the change will affect day-to-day operations at the library the same way it may impact other businesses. Simple tasks such as ordering materials online may become more difficult with lagging load times. Businesses also may select materials based on which websites load faster.

Maxwell said all she can do is reach out to state representatives and share her concerns.

So why do it?
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has expressed interest in reducing regulations on the internet.

In a statement last month Pai stated a decision made in 2015, when Pai was only a commissioner at the FCC, to reclassify broadband as a common carrier under Title II was “a mistake” and fewer regulations could lead to ISPs investing in building and expanding their broadband networks.

“Under my proposal, the federal government will stop micromanaging the internet,” Pai stated. “Instead, the FCC would simply require internet service providers to be transparent about their practices so that consumers can buy the service plan that’s best for them and entrepreneurs and other small businesses can have the technical information they need to innovate.”

Companies such as Comcast have stated they would not throttle or block legal content, but ultimately customers will only have the company’s word as the rules that previously ensured that statement would be discarded.

The company previously had a statement on their website’s net neutrality page in 2014 that stated they would also not prioritize internet traffic or create paid fast lanes, but this item has since been removed.

“I try to figure out what the advantage is and I only see the advantage being to the ISP,” Elias said. “It classifies the ISP into a different category and maybe the advantage is to customize what you actually use but in the countries that have tried to do that the people are not happy with the end results.”

It’s a conversation that continues to grow as the FCC looms closer to its vote on Thursday, Dec. 14.

Those in support of net neutrality have been reaching out to their congressmen and signing up for online grassroots movements such as battleforthenet.com.
The discussion can be a complex one to have given the content, but for others the answer is easy.

“My opinion is, it’s not broke so why do we fix it?” Elias said.

Kinzinger: Vital that internet remains open
The Times reached out to U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Channahon, for a phone interview.

His office instead sent the Times the following statement: “I believe it is vital that the Internet remains open and vibrant, and will work to ensure it remains accessible and unrestricted for the next generation. Congress and the FCC should work together to accomplish the goals of an open Internet, without imposing old regulations that stifle innovation. Working together on the future of the Internet, we must work to prohibit blocking lawful content, throttling Internet traffic and paid prioritization, and increase the transparency in the network management practices of broadband providers.”

The Times asked his office to clarify his stance on net neutrality and whether he has worked with other members of Congress in either retaining or changing the current rules, but did not receive a reply.

The House of Representatives passed one of Kinzinger’s bills in April 2016 that prohibits the FCC from regulating rates charged for broadband internet access. The bill also limits the FCC’s power, which includes its authority over protecting net neutrality. It has not passed the Senate.

Kinzinger was also recently named vice chairman of the subcommittee on digital commerce and consumer protection.

OpenSecrets.org released a list of every member of Congress and ranked them by the contributions received from ATT, Verizon and Comcast. Kinzinger ranked at number 48 out of the 435 members of the House of Representatives, with number 1 being the candidate with the most contributions.

The grassroots website battleforthenet.com has Kinzinger listed as “Team Cable” rather than “Team Internet.”

Changes with internet access possible

Imagine scrolling through Facebook only to come across a video that can’t be played because internet service providers require customers to pay extra for video streaming.

This and more could become reality as the Federal Communications Commission considers rescinding a 2015 regulatory decision.

Websites and streaming services that users have become accustomed to having access to could be placed behind an additional paywall or slowed down.
Gina Elias, Illinois Valley Community College computer networking instructor and program coordinator, said net neutrality rules that ensure fair access of the internet are widely discussed in her classes. But others may be excluded from the conversation because of complicated technical jargon.

What is net neutrality?
Net neutrality rules keep internet access consistent for all users.

Internet service providers, such as ATT and Mediacom, currently fall under the FCC’s Title II designation for common carriers such as electricity or landline telephone service.

“They just carry the message, that is all,” Elias said. “They can’t filter who you call or how much electricity. That’s the way ISPs should run under net neutrality.”

Elias said ISPs would prefer to negotiate with websites the same way cable or satellite television providers determine the prices to offer channels and networks to subscribers.

Higher price to do business in the ‘fast lane’
Elias said the ISPs hope to tap into additional income by prioritizing certain businesses, thus creating what’s widely described as a “fast lane” or “slow lane.”
Any person or business that owns a website negotiates only with its host and server. Without net neutrality, the ISPs would be able to negotiate with any website to make it available to the ISP’s customers. In other words, Mediacom could charge Amazon to be available to its internet customers.

Smaller or startup businesses may have a harder time standing out if they’re unable to pay absorbent fees that would be less of an expense for larger businesses.

“It hurts entrepreneurship,” Elias said. “I think it limits your ability to have diverse products to choose from because you’re obviously going to use the product that’s going to be faster.”

Under present rules, ISPs can regulate customers’ upload and download speeds, but cannot limit which sites customers visit or how those sites perform.

The change would allow an ISP to block access to certain sites or charge those sites different to operate at certain speeds. Verizon, which owns Yahoo!, could charge its customers a premium to use Google for searches or streaming video. Or Comcast could make Netflix stream at much slower speeds than its own video on demand service.

Internet access could resemble cable packages
ISPs also would no longer be required to offer complete internet access to all. Elias said they could offer “packages” similar to cable plans wherein basic access would only involve internet access and email while higher-cost packages could include streaming movies or specific social networks.

“It’s sort of like the more you use it the more you might pay or the more services you use the more you might pay,” Elias said.

She also used a cellular phone plan comparison wherein users are limited to a certain amount of data but can purchase more if they go over their allotment.
Companies such as Netflix already pay for increased bandwidth to companies like Comcast, meaning both the business and the customer would effectively be paying their ISP for the same service.

Theoretically, an internet user who just uses the internet to surf the web could find themselves with a lower bill, but Elias said that person may not realize what their needs are until coming across a video on a website that they’re unable to watch because they don’t have the right package.

Digital divide could widen
This could put internet users on uneven ground with certain people being able to access specific content on the internet that others can’t. Elias said this would especially be seen in the education field.

She teaches classes in labs at IVCC that involve online examples, but students could need to pay higher costs for access to the right internet plan to access that information, which would be in addition to general tuition. This disconnect between what sort of access students have can also be seen in grade schools and high schools as web tools have been integrated into education at all levels.
“If that isn’t available to everyone because they can’t afford it then I think that’s a shame,” Elias said.

Streator High School Superintendent Matt Seaton said students utilize Google Chromebooks and a variety of web-based tools such as Google Chrome.
Seaton said the school is aware of the conversations being had regarding net neutrality but is uncertain as to how it would affect the curriculum.
Part of that is because no one is quite sure what internet use will look like if these regulations are removed.

“It’s like a worm in your computer,” said Streator Public Library Director Cindy Maxwell. “Until it’s activated you don’t know how bad it’s going to be.”
Maxwell said the digital divide is already a barrier the library hopes to bridge by offering free internet access to students and residents who may not have it at home.

Some are taking timed tests and Maxwell worries if the library is unable to afford the highest quality internet connection it may lead to an impact on their grades.
“The brick and mortar concept of education has changed. Especially being in a rural location if they can’t afford housing and school and are looking for alternatives to advance their education,” Maxwell said. “It becomes a snowball effect.”

Maxwell said the library sometimes sees over 600 internet users a month and questions what would happen if the internet speeds were to drop or certain resources were unavailable.

“It’s heavy on my mind,” Maxwell said. “I think about it and the chokehold that could be created.”

The library offers a wide variety of online books and resources that may be more difficult to access.

Additionally, she’s concerned about how the change will affect day-to-day operations at the library the same way it may impact other businesses. Simple tasks such as ordering materials online may become more difficult with lagging load times. Businesses also may select materials based on which websites load faster.

Maxwell said all she can do is reach out to state representatives and share her concerns.

So why do it?
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has expressed interest in reducing regulations on the internet.

In a statement last month Pai stated a decision made in 2015, when Pai was only a commissioner at the FCC, to reclassify broadband as a common carrier under Title II was “a mistake” and fewer regulations could lead to ISPs investing in building and expanding their broadband networks.

“Under my proposal, the federal government will stop micromanaging the internet,” Pai stated. “Instead, the FCC would simply require internet service providers to be transparent about their practices so that consumers can buy the service plan that’s best for them and entrepreneurs and other small businesses can have the technical information they need to innovate.”

Companies such as Comcast have stated they would not throttle or block legal content, but ultimately customers will only have the company’s word as the rules that previously ensured that statement would be discarded.

The company previously had a statement on their website’s net neutrality page in 2014 that stated they would also not prioritize internet traffic or create paid fast lanes, but this item has since been removed.

“I try to figure out what the advantage is and I only see the advantage being to the ISP,” Elias said. “It classifies the ISP into a different category and maybe the advantage is to customize what you actually use but in the countries that have tried to do that the people are not happy with the end results.”

It’s a conversation that continues to grow as the FCC looms closer to its vote on Thursday, Dec. 14.

Those in support of net neutrality have been reaching out to their congressmen and signing up for online grassroots movements such as battleforthenet.com.
The discussion can be a complex one to have given the content, but for others the answer is easy.

“My opinion is, it’s not broke so why do we fix it?” Elias said.

Kinzinger: Vital that internet remains open
The Times reached out to U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Channahon, for a phone interview.

His office instead sent the Times the following statement: “I believe it is vital that the Internet remains open and vibrant, and will work to ensure it remains accessible and unrestricted for the next generation. Congress and the FCC should work together to accomplish the goals of an open Internet, without imposing old regulations that stifle innovation. Working together on the future of the Internet, we must work to prohibit blocking lawful content, throttling Internet traffic and paid prioritization, and increase the transparency in the network management practices of broadband providers.”

The Times asked his office to clarify his stance on net neutrality and whether he has worked with other members of Congress in either retaining or changing the current rules, but did not receive a reply.

The House of Representatives passed one of Kinzinger’s bills in April 2016 that prohibits the FCC from regulating rates charged for broadband internet access. The bill also limits the FCC’s power, which includes its authority over protecting net neutrality. It has not passed the Senate.

Kinzinger was also recently named vice chairman of the subcommittee on digital commerce and consumer protection.

OpenSecrets.org released a list of every member of Congress and ranked them by the contributions received from ATT, Verizon and Comcast. Kinzinger ranked at number 48 out of the 435 members of the House of Representatives, with number 1 being the candidate with the most contributions.

The grassroots website battleforthenet.com has Kinzinger listed as “Team Cable” rather than “Team Internet.”

Install and use Teamviewer 13 for GNU/Linux remote access and support

I have a friend who is about as skilled with computers as I am with nano-technological engineering. That’s a thing, right? Anyway, every month or two, he asks me to ‘fix his computer’ which usually means cleaning junk, malware, and uninstalling anything he shouldn’t have installed. Often, I do this from my computer at home, sometimes from within my GNU/Linux partition.

Teamviewer is a program that essentially lets the user remote control another PC. Teamviewer is also available for mobile devices, which can be incredibly handy for remotely accessing your/others machine from your cellphone. I have ‘fixed’ his computer many times, while on the bus or in a car (as a passenger) thanks to the ability to connect via my cellphone.

Teamviewer is available in most repositories, but can also be downloaded from the Teamviewer downloads page, as of right now Teamviewer 13 is the stable version for GNU/Linux.

You find installation instructions on the TeamViewer Community portal if you need help with that. On most systems, all you have to do is double-click on the downloaded file, or right-click on it and select the “Open With Package Manager” option to do so.

As far as requirements are concerned, TeamViewer runs on 32-bit, 64-bit and ARM devices, and supports Ubuntu (and derivates), Debian, RedHat, CentOS, Fedora, and SUSE officially

TeamViewer for Linux

Once Teamviewer has been installed, accessing a remote machine is incredibly simple; in this article we will just use the basic connection features, but unattended access and other more complicated features are also available.

First, you / the owner of the remote machine, needs to give you the ‘Partner ID’ for the remote machine, and the password. Simply enter the ID number into the appropriate box, followed by the password when requested, and voila, you will shortly later be in total control of the remote machine!

The user who owns the machine that is being remote-controlled, has the ability to end the session at anytime, lock the remote user, etc, in order to help preserve security and prevent someone from doing things they would prefer not done.

You’ll note that there is usually some performance issues on the computer that is remotely accessing the other machine, so using Teamviewer for things like remote-gaming isn’t really feasible. However, navigation of the file system, program installation/management, web browsing, etc, are all quite easily done.

Security wise, all data sent between machines is highly encrypted using RSA 2048 public/private key exchange, AES (256 bit) session encryption from end to end, which is the standard encryption used in most things nowadays; so no need to worry about sensitive information being sniffed or procured in transit, making Teamviewer safe to use for business needs as well.

Teamviewer is free for personal use, so feel free to give it a try if you are unfamiliar with it, or if you too have that one friend who always needs help with their computer.

Now you: Do you use remote access tools? Like what, and for what? Let’s hear about it in the comments!

Rep targets flooding, internet access ahead of 2018 session

GOSHEN — A state representative intends to address flooding issues in Noble County and beyond during the upcoming 2018 legislative session.

Rep. David Ober (R-Albion) said he will work on a bill aimed at expanding the responsibilities and powers of the St. Joseph River Basin Commission for better handling and prevention of flooding problems like those experienced throughout his district last spring.

“It will probably be the most important to me personally that I’ll work on this session,” Ober said Tuesday during an interview with The Goshen News.

“Earlier this year in May, after all the rain we had, the West Lakes chain in northern Noble County was hit with some terrible flooding. So I’ll have a bill that would expand some of what the St. Joe River Basin can do so they can start working on some flood-control projects in their basin, to help alleviate some of those problems.”

Ober said the commission currently focuses most of its efforts on water-quality projects. With the bill, he hopes to usher in enhanced expertise and spur long-term planning efforts related to flooding within the organization.

“I’m hoping that that too also gives the local folks I work with a willing partner to start securing funding sources and technical expertise for projects that they’d like to do within the watershed to alleviate some of these problems,” he said.

As the chairman of the House Committee on Utilities, Energy and Telecommunications, Ober said he will “keep chipping away” at a problem encountered by many Hoosiers — limited broadband internet access and a lack of sufficient bandwidth.

“I think that will be at the top of my list for quite some time,” he added.

REVISITING 2017 ISSUES

Ober mentioned the net metering discussion that surrounded last year’s Senate Bill 309, signed into law in May by Gov. Eric Holcomb.

Under the law, users of alternative energy sources such as solar panels and wind turbines will receive the highest rate of reimbursement for their excess energy for 30 years if systems are installed by the end of 2017.

Installers of solar or wind systems during the next five years will receive the maximum rate for up to 15 years. Those who install the systems after 2022 will receive a lower rate, in addition to a premium of 25 percent.

“So some schools around the state have opted to build out renewable systems, whether that’s solar or wind, and that’s helped to offset some of their utility costs,” he said. “There’s a bill I’m working on that I’ll file for next session that would open up a window for schools to be able to do some of these projects and still participate under the net metering program for an extended period of time. It will basically give them an extra five-year window beyond the existing horizon, so that they can get financing and so these projects will pay off in the long run.”

Additionally, Ober said he intends to revisit the issue of small-cell antennas being placed in local right-of-ways.

“That’s technology that will be coming online here over the next several years in preparation for 5G service, so we need to adjust some of our laws so that technology can come in,” he said.

LOOMING CHALLENGES

When asked what he believes the largest problems are facing Indiana in 2018, Ober quickly referenced the workforce condition.

“That’s kind of an annual discussion that we have is how do we build a workforce for our jobs that we’d like to attract here, but also to support the jobs that are already here,” he said. “… I suspect that that’s a statewide issue we’ll continue to tackle.”

Without offering any specific strategy, he said the opioid epidemic will also drive Legislature talks.

“We’ll have proposals that we’ll put forward that we’ll be able to vote on,” he said.

Geoff Lesar can be reached at geoff.lesar@goshennews.com or 574-533-2151, ext. 307.

New mega-deal shows how health insurers are taking over your access to medical care

The nation’s largest insurer, UnitedHealth Group, announced Wednesday that it would buy a network of 300 primary care and specialist clinics from dialysis giant DaVita for $4.9 billion, in the latest deal reshaping the business of health insurance.

The deal, which does not include DaVita’s main kidney-care business, comes days after CVS Health agreed to buy health insurer Aetna for $69 billion. Both acquisitions reflect strategies to try to own major entry points into health care, whether it is primary care doctors or pharmacists, so that insurers can better coordinate care, keep people healthy and hopefully control rising costs.

“If you think about what Aetna and United are trying to do, basically they’re trying to own the quarterback of care,” said Brian Tanquilut, an equity analyst at investment firm Jefferies. “At the end of the day, the beauty of owning these practices is you have greater control over a person’s whole health-care picture.”

Each strategy is slightly different. United’s business segment, Optum, will acquire DaVita Medical Group, which includes 300 clinics that provide primary and specialist care, as well as urgent care centers and half a dozen surgery care centers. Those clinics serve 1.7 million patients each year in California, Colorado, Florida, Nevada, New Mexico and Washington. The acquisition – set to close next year – will expand the company’s move into clinics and surgical care centers.

DxO’s detachable One camera is available now for Android for $499 through an early access program

It’s been a long time coming, but Android users can finally get their hands on a USB-C version of DxO’s detachable smartphone camera — sort of. DxO isn’t doing an “official” launch of the Android camera just yet, but if you’d like to get in on the action early, you can sign up for the company’s “Early Access pack” for $499 over at the DxO website, according to Android Central.

That $499 gets you the USB-C version of the DxO One that was designed for Android phones a few months ago, along with a rugged Outdoor Shell access to DxO’s PhotoLab software. It’s the same price that the original DxO One for iOS runs for, which doesn’t make this a bad deal either.

The only caveat is that DxO is only listing a few phones that will support the camera for now: the HTC U11, Huawei Mate 9, Huawei P10, LG G9, :G V20, Moto Z, Nexus 5X, Nokia 8, Nubia Z11 mini, Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017), Samsung Note 8, Samsung S8, and Huawei Honor 9. There is an “other” field to submit phones not on that list, like the Google Pixel 2 XL, but it’s not clear whether or not the camera has been optimized to work with them yet.


b406d_Screen_Shot_2017_11_30_at_3.50.02_PM DxO's detachable One camera is available now for Android for $499 through an early access program

According to the company, the Android version of the camera already has “most features currently available in the iOS version,” with things like time lapses and Facebook Live broadcasts planned for future updates.

Apps Might Have Too Much Access to Face ID Data on iPhone X

5d894_iphone-x-face-id-640x353 Apps Might Have Too Much Access to Face ID Data on iPhone X

The new iPhone X comes with a fancy sensor array capable of scanning and recognizing your face. It’s all part of the new Face ID system, which replaces Touch ID on Apple’s most expensive iPhone yet. The early response to Face ID has been mostly positive, and it does seem to be hard to fool. However, some privacy advocates have expressed concern over how much access apps have to Face ID. It could actually be kind of a privacy nightmare.

The key to Face ID is in the iPhone X’s conspicuous screen notch, that patch of bezel that intrudes upon the otherwise edge-to-edge display. That’s where Apple has integrated its True Depth camera system. Using a network of 30,000 infrared dots, True Depth builds a highly accurate map of your face, allowing it to recognize you immediately. Apple also developed some fun extras with the True Depth camera like Animojis, live animated emoji based on your facial expressions.

Like Touch ID data, your Face ID biometrics aren’t stored online or provided to apps directly. However, apps do have access to some less sensitive Face ID data for features like Animojis. This could end up being a much greater privacy concern than the standard front-facing cameras on other phones.

Third-party apps get access to the 3D wireframe data from the iPhone X True Depth camera system. That means they can track the real-time movements of your mouth, eyes, and even subtle changes in facial expression. That’s what makes Animojis so weirdly compelling for iPhone X users — they look alive. There’s nothing stopping app developers from taking that data and storing it on a server, which offers vastly more data than a regular photo.

5d894_iphone-x-face-id-640x353 Apps Might Have Too Much Access to Face ID Data on iPhone X

Security analysts worry that apps could use this 3D data to gather more information about a user’s vital statistics in a few seconds. You might think you’re just playing with a fun new Animoji, but the app might actually be reading your mood, tracking your expressions, and even identifying your gender and race. Those are all potentially valuable stats for advertisers.

After being informed of this potential privacy headache, Apple moved to require apps that use Face ID must have a privacy policy. As Apple itself well knows, no one reads those. Until we know how developers will make use of 3D face data, you might want to be wary of apps optimized for the iPhone X’s True Depth tech.

Sheryl Sandberg says we need equal access to computer science education


6ffb7_sandberg Sheryl Sandberg says we need equal access to computer science education

At today’s Computer Science Education Week kickoff, the theme was women in coding. In the U.S., just 18 percent of computer science college graduates are women. Hence why tech leaders like Microsoft’s Peggy Johnson, Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and YouTube’s Susan Wojcicki took to the stage at the College of San Mateo to discuss the importance of getting young girls involved in technology.

Wojcicki described how she was introduced to computer science by luck. As a history and literature major in college, Wojcicki decided to take a computer science class during her senior year.

“It was amazing to me that this one class really changed my life,” Wojcicki said. But it was by chance that she took that class, she said.

“In today’s world where technology is changing every single thing we do, it shouldn’t be about a matter of luck,” Wojcicki said.

Later in the morning, Sandberg noted how there is unequal access in the field of computer science. She referenced the statistic that just 15 percent of people majoring in computer science are black or Latinx.

“We also have to think about not just getting the usual suspects into this field but getting everyone into this field,” Sandberg said. “What we need is equal access to computer science education.”

Earlier today, Code.org announced $12 million in new funding to help improve access to computer science education. A number of states, school districts and organizations also announced new pledges and funding to increase computer science education initiatives.

Those who made the pledge include Florida Governor Rick Scott, who made a $15 million investment to increase opportunities for middle and high school students, and California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, who launched a Computer Science for California campaign to bring CS education to all students in California by 2025.

“What is core to being a technologist is that we believe that the future will be better than the past,” Sandberg said. “Not perfect. Not that technology will solve every problem. Not that technology doesn’t cause some of the problems,” but the belief that technology can lift people out of poverty and bring people closer together.

Featured Image: TechCrunch/MRD

Internet access: Congress must intervene

Small business owners, how do you feel about your website being blocked or slowed because bigger companies are paying internet providers more than you are? Consumers, how do you feel about having internet providers decide which content you are able to access based on who is lining their wallets? If this feels like an infringement on your consumer rights and a giant blow to free speech, we are definitely on the same page. And yet, the Federal Communications Commission has unveiled a plan that would let all of the above happen by repealing what is called net neutrality regulation.

If you’re unfamiliar with the phrase, net neutrality is the phrase to describe consumer protections by the FCC that allow you, the consumer, to be in charge of your internet experience. It prohibits internet providers such as ATT, Verizon or Comcast from speeding up, slowing down or blocking content from you. In this instance, regulation is really a fancy word for protection. Net neutrality protects consumers from having content dictated to them by big telecom companies.

Do you trust your internet provider to be in charge of information that gets filtered to you? What about the information that gets filtered to students? The internet has become a part of the daily lives of nearly all Americans, and it is heavily integrated into our education system. We use the internet to fact check current events and news stories, research diverse and unfiltered information, and form our own opinions. But what if the FCC goes through with its intended repeal? A key aspect of our current net neutrality laws is that they prevent internet providers from censoring certain websites or content with which they disagree.

Removing these laws would open up the internet to all kinds of censorship, from stifling innovation (such as in2007-09 when ATT tried to block access to Skype for iPhone users) to internet providers filtering content and only showing you what big businesses pay them to show you. Or worse, only showing you content that one political party wants you to see.

This issue affects every consumer in this country, but it also affects businesses. The invention of the internet went a long way in opening up new avenues for small businesses to succeed. Without net neutrality, small businesses and start-ups will suffer. When I started my consulting business, the first thing I did was create a website and spread the word on social media. I chose to do that because it is effective and extremely low cost.

But with this new plan, internet companies could decide that unless I can afford to pay high fees for premium services, they will slow down my loading speeds or even block content on my site completely. While proponents of repealing net neutrality say that was government overreach, I would push back on that: Isn’t one of the roles of government to protect Americans? To protect consumers?

In an interview by The Nation, former FCC Commissioner Michael Copps said, “There can be no truly open internet without net neutrality. To believe otherwise is to be captive to special interest power brokers or to an old and discredited ideology that thinks monopoly and not government oversight best serves the nation.”

Fair and equal access to information on the internet is the only way to avoid that happening, and a service as vital as internet access shouldn’t be up to the latest whim of the current administration (whether that be Republican or Democrat). We need Congress to take this important topic on and stand up for the rights of American consumers and small businesses. We must enact legislation that would provide long-term stability and direction for internet services.

Courtney Tritch is a candidate for the Democratic nomination for Indiana’s 3rd District congressional seat.

German Government Demands ‘Backdoor’ Access to Phones, Computer, Cars

The German government wants to force tech firms and car manufacturers to hand security services hidden digital access to private cars, computers, phones, and more.

Germany’s Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière has drafted a proposal for the interior minister conference next week, in which he calls for “the legal duty for third parties to allow for secret surveillance”.

According to Redaktions Netzwerk Deutschland (RND), the proposal would “dramatically extend” the state’s powers to spy on its citizens.

It is becoming increasingly difficult for security services to break into digital devices over time, as technology advances and ever more sophisticated security systems to protect privacy are added to devices.

Some electric keys for modern cars are now so advanced they can notify the owner when the vehicle is merely shaken.

The interior minister wants to be able to disable this feature when the state thinks it is justified to interfere with a private car as part of a criminal investigation.

However, the law could potentially go much further, critics warn.

Mr. de Maizière also wants the security services to have the ability to spy on any device connected to the internet and is demanding tech companies give the state “backdoor” access to tablets and computers and smart TVs.

“The Interior Minister’s plans sound like an Orwellian nightmare. Soon all flats in Germany will be equipped with devices which are potential wiretaps,” Konstantin von Notz, deputy faction leader of the Green Party, told Der Spiegel.

“We need to think really hard about the fact that we are a country with two dictatorships in its recent history,” he added.

“Do we want to live in a land where there is no privacy and where the state can interfere wherever it is technologically possible?” he asked.

The draft law is “a frontal attack on the digital and physical security of all citizens”, Frank Rieger, spokesman for the Chaos Computer Club (CCC) told netzpolitik.org.

“Access to the IT system of a car means danger to life and limb – It is a literal kill switch,” he added.

DxO One Camera for Android is Now Available in an ‘Early Access’ Program ($499)

The primary reason why smartphone enthusiasts know about DxO Labs is because it’s the company behind DxOMark, the popular smartphone camera reviewing website. It isn’t the only service DxO Labs offers, though. The company now also has DxO One, a camera attachment for the iPhone, and has their own image editing software too.

033ff_DxO-One-Android DxO One Camera for Android is Now Available in an 'Early Access' Program ($499)

In October, DxO Labs announced that the DxO One would be coming soon for Android, two and a half years after its release for the iPhone in June 2015. It has a 20MP 1-inch sensor (similar to the Sony RX100 series) with a f/1.8 max aperture.

The DxO One is pocketable because it doesn’t have a primary display of its own. Instead, it has a small onboard OLED display and it relies on a smartphone’s display for the viewfinder in order to frame photos. The Android version connects to smartphones via the USB Type-C port. The primary reason it can take better photos than most smartphones is because it has a larger sensor with 1-inch sensor size, compared to smartphone sensors, which range in size from 1/2.3-inch to 1/3.1-inch. It supports RAW photography via Super RAW, and records up to 4x slow motion video.

Now, DxO Labs has announced that the One camera is now available in an ‘Early Access’ program for $499. The $499 price includes the camera, a waterproof case for submerging the camera attachment up to 45-meters, and DxO Photolab – the company’s image processing software. Normally, the case and DxO Photolab have price tags of $59.90 and $199 respectively.

Users can head to DxO’s website and enter their email and phone model to order the DxO One camera. Strangely, the DxO One will support only a limited list of smartphones for now, instead of supporting every Android smartphone with a USB-C port. The current list of supported phones includes the HTC U11, Huawei Mate 9, Huawei P10, LG G6, LG V20, Moto Z, Nexus 5X, Nokia 8, Nubia Z11 mini, Samsung Galaxy A5 2017, Samsung Note 8, Samsung Galaxy S8 and Huawei Honor 9. If users have any other smartphone, they can select “other” and then specify their brand of phone.

The Android version of the DxO One will have full image and video capture capabilities out-of-the-box, but it won’t have support for Facebook live streaming and time-lapse right away. DxO Labs says that it will add the aforementioned features and more in the coming months.


Source: DxO LabsVia: Android Central

Half of South Carolina’s rural ‘Promise Zone’ doesn’t have Internet access. It has a plan to get it.

BARNWELL — She passed it long after the industrial fringe of Columbia, driving on a route that slices through cotton fields and timber stands on its way toward the Savannah River.

She was in one of the poorest corners of the state, and as she zipped through one of the only towns on Highway 3, she found a massive challenge that’s weighing on this region’s efforts to lift itself up: A dead zone.

Her email went dark, and for just a moment, one of the most powerful decisionmakers in the telecommunications industry was face-to-face with a reality that marks daily life in the southern tip of South Carolina.

The dead zone encountered by Mignon Clyburn — one of five Federal Communications Commission members — isn’t all that unusual in rural counties like Barnwell. But spotty cellphone coverage is only the beginning of the telecom problems in the Lowcountry Promise Zone, a six-county region that reaches from Barnwell to Walterboro.

Two in five residents can’t buy broadband Internet because the infrastructure doesn’t exist. Even more say they can’t afford the service available to them because it costs too much, in a region with higher-than-average poverty and unemployment.

That adds up to a stark picture of Internet access in rural South Carolina, according to a report released Monday: A majority of homes don’t have broadband connections. Tens of thousands of people are cut off from the infrastructure of the modern economy.

Leaders fear the disconnect will have lasting effects that could leave the region behind. They see a problem with implications for their residents’ health, education and economic opportunity. Their concerns echo through rural corners of the country from coast to coast.

But unlike most places, they have a plan. Clyburn was on her way to hear about it.

It was Cyber Monday, a day that represents how deep the Internet has burrowed its way into American life. Yet all around the room, documentation highlighted just how deep the digital divide had grown.

Maps showing where broadband providers face no competition. Maps showing where Internet access is slow or nonexistent. Maps showing where the federal government is shoveling money to provide it.

They pointed out large swaths of the region with limited access, population centers that were cut off and huge areas governed by virtual monopolies. To Jim Stritzinger, the man who drew up the maps, they showed something else.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do in South Carolina,” Stritzinger told a room of a few dozen politicians, telecom executives and community activists. “We’re here to get after it.”


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Jim Stritzinger, director of Connect South Carolina, stands beside maps outlining where broadband is available in rural Colleton and Bamberg counties. Service is generally spotty outside main towns. Thad Moore/Staff 


By Thad Moore
tmoore@postandcourier.com

Stritzinger is the director of Connect South Carolina, an organization that documents Internet gaps and comes up with ideas to patch them. He was speaking to a room with interests far bigger than broadband access.

The group meets each month in Barnwell to talk through the big-picture problems facing the region — poor health, high poverty, struggling schools. They were assembled three years ago when the Obama administration designated this corner of South Carolina as a “promise zone,” with an offer of extra federal assistance.

Their goals are far-reaching: They want more emergency rooms, more teachers and more affordable housing. They want better infrastructure to increase their chances at luring big employers. They want to reduce poverty and lift the region’s economy.

In broadband access, they see an opportunity to catch up — a chance to “leapfrog” years of limited investment, says Clyburn, who grew up in Charleston. It could connect patients with specialists across the state, give students another way to learn after school and help residents find new jobs. It would be one less stumbling block when a company looks at moving in.

But it’s an opportunity that won’t come easy. It’s hard to make the economics of broadband expansion work when miles of fiber only connect a few customers.

“We knew at this juncture it would be most difficult,” Clyburn said in an interview with The Post and Courier. “The business case is more difficult to be made in areas where there are more cotton plants or corn stalks than people. The investment’s not going to organically flow.”

The FCC is spending tens of millions of dollars to subsidize Internet access in rural parts of the Palmetto State, but federal money alone won’t close the gaps, says Clyburn, a Democratic appointee who’s now the agency’s longest-serving commissioner.

Telecom companies like ATT and CenturyLink are getting $16 million a year to connect South Carolina’s countryside. They have another three years to reach nearly 50,000 homes and businesses here.

“What we are enabling is a very necessary epicenter of opportunities,” Clyburn said. “It is very much that seed that must be in place for the rest of these opportunities to grow.”

But, she warns, it isn’t everything.


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Mignon Clyburn of South Carolina is the longest-serving member of the Federal Communications Commission. Thad Moore/Staff

And anyway, Stritzinger says, the region doesn’t have time to wait for slow work of infrastructure development — for towers to rise and cables to be buried.

Not with children coming home from school without Internet access. Not with patients who already need better access to medical care.

That’s why Stritzinger says he’s focused on short-term fixes — building a “bridge to the future,” he calls it.

He wants to use existing afterschool programs to set up “homework hotspots” for students to study with Internet access. He wants to focus hard on connecting doctors’ offices and setting up telehealth centers. He wants to promote underused programs that subsidize broadband connections for poor families.

They also strike at a key goal of his broadband plan — to demonstrate the value of a good Internet connection and drum up more interest in buying one. Without community buy-in, he says, it won’t do any good to advocate for more infrastructure.

“Beating the drum on that and getting people to sign up — I mean, the best way to encourage the installation of more stuff is to get the stuff that has been installed used,” Stritzinger says. “That’s the thing that’s most likely to inspire the providers to build more.”

And local governments want providers to build more. They can’t do it on their own — state law blocks towns from developing their own broadband networks — but they can dangle a low-cost incentive in front of telecom companies: Water towers.

Stritzinger’s idea is to map every tall structure in the Promise Zone — water tanks, radio transmitters, phone towers. He thinks they hold the key to connecting rural South Carolina.

From the right vantage point, telecom companies could beam Internet service to homes miles away, rather than lay fiber. The idea is to take a page from satellite Internet, but with broadband beamed from water towers instead of space.


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Barnwell County is one of six counties along the Savannah River designated as a federal “promise zone” that receives special status for grants. The region hopes to use water towers to expand its broadband infrastructure. File/Wade Spees/Staff


Wade Spees

The technology, known as fixed wireless, is becoming increasingly common in South Carolina. Dallas-based ATT is using FCC subsidies to install new transmitters on its towers. It fired up Internet service last week in parts of Bamberg and Barnwell counties.

The possibility has picked up momentum in towns like Estill, where about 2,000 residents have no access to high-speed Internet. It’s one of the largest communities in the Promise Zone that lacks broadband.

Mayor Corrin Bowers says the slow service in his town means he spends extra time waiting to download data from his farm equipment. It means his wife, a teacher, sometimes stays up late because it takes so long to research her lesson plans. It means her students have to give up play time to finish their homework.

So Estill officials have started thinking about leasing space atop their water towers to Internet providers, hoping they might unlock better service. Bowers says he wants to get a project in motion next year.

He’s not alone. Half an hour away, the lack of a broadband connection at Hampton County’s industrial park has made it awkward to pitch businesses on moving in, county administrator Rose Dobson-Elliott says. The “absolutely horrible” cell service gives it away every time, she says.

Dobson-Elliott was sitting in Barnwell when the Promise Zone’s Internet plan was laid out — water towers and all. She had a similar project in mind: The county is looking at building an above-ground tank for its industrial park, and she says she’d like to fit it with transmitters.

“That would help that area — not just for the businesses, but for our citizens out there as well,” Dobson-Elliott says. “That’s an area of our county where we definitely need it.”

And if they get it, one more dead zone would be wiped from the map.

Total Access Computers Serves Adams’ Tech Needs

Dan and Andrew Maynard, owners of Total Access Computers, have moved their growing business to Hoosac Street in Adams.

ADAMS, Mass. — Dan and Andrew Maynard, owners of Total Access Computers, on 16 Hoosac St., want to be your friendly neighborhood tech experts.

The Maynards have one mission: to help people navigate the often-confusing waters of an ever-changing tech world.

“We like to help people, and we don’t just fix your computer and send you on your way,” Dan Maynard said. “We show you how to keep it clean and running properly because it is the right thing to do.”

He started the business in the early 2000s in North Adams and it has been growing ever since.

“I put together a business plan, went in a with a few other people, started a little company and was doing sales and repairs,” Maynard said. “I wanted to do something, and I like helping people.”  

The Adams native said he eventually brought his business to his hometown on Columbia Street, where it continued to grow, triggering another move to the much more pedestrian friendly Hoosac Street.

Andrew Maynard said they are currently renovating the shop that almost resembles a lounge with couches and chairs where the brothers can sit down with customers and help them get their devices back up and running. 

Dan, as he tinkered with a customer’s cell phone, said they can fix anything that has to do with computers.

“Anything computer related. Computers, TVs, networking,” he said. “Quite an array of things. Sales and service, we enjoy educating a helping people.”

Andrew said this charge to educate can also be seen on their Facebook page, where they keep followers abreast of online threats and the battle for net neutrality.

“We want to give people a heads up especially with net neutrality coming up,” he said. “That is a serious issue.”

The Maynards service both PC and Mac computers as well as mobile devices. They will also upgrade and optimize your computer, install hardware and software and anything else that daunts the less computer savvy.  

Andrew said the most frequent service they provide in town is cleaning up computers

“We see a lot of infections,” he said. “People can bring down their computers and we will just straighten them out.”

Dan added they get a lot of return customers as he handed over the cell phone he was working on to its owner who admitted he was one of those returning customers.

Dan said they pride themselves on affordable service, quick turnaround time and are available for immediate onsite or remote support.

Quoting the shop’s website: “We know how important your computer is to you, it’s a lifeline to the world, access to vast amounts of information, it provides hours of entertainment and so much more. That is why we offer fast turnaround, to get you back on track.”

A complete list of their services can be found on their website.

Tags: computers,   

Serious MacOS Bug Allows Anyone to Access Your Computer With a Blank Password

Your health issues might be mundane, but that’s no reason to be boring. Give your complaints some interesting heft with these fancy medical terms for commonplace problems.

1. Limb falling asleep

That numb feeling that you wake to when you’ve slept on your arm wrong is obdormition. It is followed by a pricking, tingling sensation called paresthesia.

2. Ice cream headache

Sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia. Say it five times fast to warm up your mouth and relieve the brain freeze.

3. Muscle twitch

If you ever feel the sudden flutter under your skin from a small bundle of muscle fibers spontaneously contracting, you can say you’re experiencing fasciculation (from fasciculus, “little bundle”).

4. Corn

That callus on your foot may be soft, in which case it’s a heloma molle. If it’s hard, it’s a heloma durum.

5. Tongue bump

One tiny, swollen taste bud looks like no big deal in the mirror, but feels distractingly humongous in your mouth. It has a big name to match that big feeling: transient lingual papillitis.

6. Ingrown toenail

If you want to go Greek, it’s onychocryptosis (“hidden nail”), but if you prefer Latin, stick with unguis incarnatus (“nail in flesh”).

7. Canker sores

Aphthous stomatitis. Hard to say even without canker sores.

8. Cheek biting

You know how sometimes you bite the inside of your cheek by accident, and then you get that little ridge of tissue that sticks out so that you end up biting it again and again? That’s morsicatio buccarum, baby.

9. Getting the wind knocked out of you

This feels bad, but doesn’t last very long. Just a transient diaphragmatic spasm.

10. Hiccup

The more rhythmic diaphragm action of the hiccup is a synchronous diaphragmatic flutter.

11. Sneeze

Why sneeze when you can sternutate?

12. Eye Floaters

What are those little transparent threads you can see floating across your eyeball when you pay close attention? Just muscae volitantes (“flying flies”) the name for the little bits of protein or other material in the jelly inside your eye.

13. Bed wetting

If you wet the bed at night it’s nocturnal enuresis. If you have accidents during the day it’s diurnal enuresis.

14. Fainting

If you faint at the sight of blood or upon hearing some shocking news, it’s probably vasovagal syncope, an automatic response mediated by the vagus nerve. Tightly laced corsets only make it worse.

15. Dizzy from standing up fast

If a dizzy, head rush feeling is brought on by standing up too fast, it’s orthostatic hypotension.

16. Growling stomach

All that rumbling and gurgling in the stomach and guts goes by the name borborygmi.

17. Goose bumps

The Latin horrere originally referred to bristling, or hair standing on end, a sense captured by the word for goose bumps, horripilation.

18. Nose running from eating spicy food

When you’re sniffling while you’re spooning in that spicy soup, you’ve got gustatory rhinitis.

19. Joints making noise

All that popping, creaking, and cracking of joints when you get out of bed in the morning goes by the name of crepitus, from the Latin for “rattle, crack.” The word decrepit goes back to the same root.

20. Shin splints

People aren’t very impressed by shin splints, but they might be impressed by medial tibial stress syndrome.

21. Hangover

Overdid it last night? Just explain to your boss that you’ve got a bit of veisalgia. This fancy word for hangover was coined in a 2000 paper in a medical journal. It combines the Norwegian word kveis (“uneasiness following debauchery”) with the Greek word for pain.

Verizon plans to offer wireless home internet access starting next year — and it could shake up the broadband market

  • Verizon will start offering wireless home broadband service in three to five cities in late 2018.
  • The company will deliver the service using 5G networking technology, the next-generation wireless standard.
  • Home wireless internet service like Verizon’s could increase competition, potentially leading to better pricing and performance.

You already go online via the cell phone companies’ wireless networks when you’re on your phone and away from home. Now Verizon wants you to get your house connected to the internet wirelessly too.

On Wednesday, the telecommunications giant announced it will start offering wireless home internet service in a handful of markets in late 2018. Verizon will offer the service using so-called 5G networking technology, a wireless standard that’s still in development but promises both faster speeds and less congestion than current 4G networks can deliver.

“This is a landmark announcement for customers and investors who have been waiting for the 5G future to become a reality,” Hans Vestberg, Verizon’s chief technology officer, said in a statement.

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Verizon offered few details about the new service

Verizon plans to launch its new service in three to five cities, starting with Sacramento, California. It didn’t say in which other cities it would offer the service, how much the service would cost, or how fast users would be able to access the internet, saying only that it would provide more details “at a later date.”

The company also didn’t discuss exactly how it would deliver the service to customers’ homes. However, its concept resembles that of internet startup Starry.

To get broadband access, Starry customers place outside their homes an antenna that communicates via 5G with nearby cellular towers. The antenna delivers those signal to a combination modem and Wi-Fi router inside users’ homes.

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The company already has some competition in the wireless home broadband market

ATT and Google’s parent company Alphabet have also been testing their own wireless home internet services since 2016. Those also use 5G.

Wireless home internet service has potentially big benefits for consumers. Consumers typically have their choice of just one or two wired broadband providers. By contrast, they usually have far more choices when it comes to wireless providers. So, assuming wireless internet access can offer similar speed and reliability in the home as wired connections, it could bring with it more competition, which could lead to better prices and improved performance.

And adding wireless service to an area is typically less costly and less of a production than digging up streets or getting access to utility poles to string wires. That could allow wireless home internet providers to introduce service faster and more quickly expand it to additional customers.

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There are still some challenges ahead for 5G home internet service

However, to be truly comparable with wired service, 5G wireless service will have to overcome several obstacles. Traditionally, wired services have offered faster speeds than wireless ones and frequently cost significantly less.

And the 5G technology itself could have some potential challenges. Cell towers transmitting 5G signals generally have less range than those sending 4G LTE ones. As a result, wireless provides will likely need to install many more 5G cell towers to deliver strong signals.

Meanwhile, the type of signals 5G uses don’t do a very good job of penetrating obstacles. Indeed, objects as thin as leaves can weaken 5G signals, the Wall Street Journal reported.




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