Installing Ubuntu on an Acer revo – Low-end HTPC

IMG_20110130_115534.jpgI’m installing Ubuntu 10.10 to an Acer Revo (R1600) today. I’m thinking Ubuntu will perform better as a HTPC operating system than Windows 7. Ubuntu tends to have less overhead. Meaning, performs better on slower hardware.

IMG_20110130_115927.jpgThe Acer Revo is a Nettop PC. It features an Atom N230 single core hyper-threaded CPU running at 1.6 GHz. The performance is similar to the old Pentium M Centrino processors. The Revo has a trick up its sleeve, dedicated graphics (or GPU). There’s an Nvidia ION chipset on board that handles Audio, video and some chipset interconnects. The Nvidia ION in the Revo is similar to the Geforce 8400 chipset from Nvidia. Between the CPU and GPU, the system should playback 720p video. Also depending on the encoding of the video it may handle 1080p.

On the software front, I’m using Ubuntu 10.10 and Boxee. Ubuntu is a GNU/Linux Distribution created by Canonical. Boxee is a Media Center style media manager based on XBMC. Ubuntu provides a fantastic base operating system. I don’t have to worry too much about hardware support or configuring it, as Canonical has done a lot of it for me. Boxee is the same way, it’s ready to go right after install. Most of the needed video and audio decoders are included in the package. Ubuntu and Boxee are a great match-up and did I mention their free?

More to come!






Google is upset with me…

I’m testing out some queries for my google alerts. Looks like I have poked the badger with a spoon.

The error reads: “Our systems have detected unusual traffic from your computer network. Please try your request again later…”
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Stop and think it through – Broadstripe tech fails to do so

Broadstripe tech calls customer to see if he’s home but the customer’s VoIP line is down. This is entertaining to me, looking in from the outside. A Broadstripe customer’s internet connection has been down for a couple days. A Broadstripe tech was to stop by and replace the cable modem. Turns out the tech called the house and didn’t get an answer. The tech assumed no one was home and continued to his next call. Well, the customer has VoIP with Broadstripe. VoIP cannot function without an internet connection… That is the very reason why the Broadstripe tech was sent out.

Another unhappy Broadstripe customer

In Reed’s blog post he explains some common complaints with Broadstripe in the Seattle area. In summary, poor speeds, network issues and questionable business practices.

What’s really cool about Reed’s experience is that is was very similar to mine. Though a difference is the cancellation procedure. When I initially canceled my service, they honored my request over the phone compared to Reed needing to fax in his request.

I compared Clear with Broadstripe for about a month. My experience was different with my comparison. I saw poor performance with high bandwidth applications on Clear. In contrast, Broadstripe could handle my needs a little better.

Reed, if you get a chance to see this post, please take at my others about Broadstripe and Clear. I think you will identify with my issues of choosing the lesser of two evils. Also, please check UPTUN. UPTUN is working to improve the situation in the Broadstripe served areas. Lastly, send a link to your post to the Broadstripe Twitter account, @earningstripes. You’ll maybe surprised at how receptive they are to your experience.

Some more general resources for Seattle folks:

Muni Networks
Seattle Gov’s Cable Office

Clearwire throttling consumer customers?

According to a thread over at the ClearWire forums, yes.

Engadget broke the ClearWire story today (Sept. 29th).

From my personal experience, yes Clear performs traffic shaping. I should have gathered data while I experimented with the throttling issue. The bandwidth issues I saw with Clear were throttling Bit Torrent traffic directly. This was easily mitigated by enabling forced encryption on the Torrents.

Clear users are seeing the throttling put into place when they exceed 7-10GB transferred in a month. However, I did not see throttling when I exceeded 10GBs. Total bandwidth usage cap seems to be a new issue.

Bandwidth throttling maybe a serious issue for Clear users. For example Comcast has a soft cap of 250GBs a month. This is more than enough for any user, even heavy bandwidth users. The Clear cap is too small for the modern household.

Sys-admins at Facebook handled the outage like professionals

Today, Facebook experienced a two and half hour outage. For sites of this size, it’s a very big issue to be unavailable. An outage translates to lost revenue, a tarnished brand and customer ill will. However, the Sys-Admins mitigated the ramifications of the outage with grace and tact.

The Facebook admins first took responsibility for the outage. Their statement took full responsibility without conditions. Second, the Admins explained the root cause of the issue in enough detail for the average tech savvy person to follow. Finally they laid out their solution in terms everyone could understand. The statement handled everyones concerns in an excellent way.

Read the full statement regarding the outage today.

@Clear your marketing opt out page sucks, so I added you to the spam filter

Partner name? What is that supposed to mean? How about embedding the recipient email address in the opt-out links within your marketing emails? I get the impression you want to make opt-out difficult. It’s similar to your TOS. There’s no opt-out when you sign up for service. This is one of the reasons why a discontinued service.

Your opt-out page is why you are now on my “spammers” list.

Broadstripe Spies on its Customers?

According to another blogger, Broadstripe spies on its customers. The evidence is interesting but not conclusive.

A key point the blogger makes is traffic being routed through the Washington DC area. The blogger concludes the government must be watching you. Washington DC is the center of our government but not the center for our international or domestic intelligence.

If the Government is spying on you, likely they would do it in non-detectable ways. Most likely mirroring traffic as close to your home as possible. Also possibly, where your cable connection terminates to fiber.

From what I can tell in my own testing is Broadstripe’s network is poorly managed. They have markets all over the nation and probably try to consolidate their access to backbones in order to save money.

Comcast did this for many years in my market. For example, when I was with Comcast for the first couple years my traffic exited the Comcast network in San Francisco. This adds latency to the connection and thus slows it down. It’s reasonable to think that this is what is happening with Broadstripe today.

Odds are, they are not spying on their customers any more than any other provider.

We know they use deep packet inspection to throttle P2P traffic. Something Comcast, qwest and all the others do. We know they gather viewing data via set top boxes (gold mine for advertisers).

So what should we do? Consider the information you want to keep out of their hands. You don’t want them to know your browsing habbits? Use TOR Project. Don’t want them to know what you are using Bittorrent for? Disable DHT and enforce encryption.

Our service providers are spying on us. It’s a fact of our modern digital lives. We can control what information they get. For more information on how to protect your privacy, check out the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s: Surveillance Self Defense project.

Further reading about Broadstripe’s alleged spying