June 29, 2021

The World Reacts to Possible UFOs

Actual story in The Wall Street Journal:

"UFO Report Says ‘Unidentified Aerial Phenomena’ Defy Worldly Explanation

"Propulsion and technology in some cases exceed present-day scientific knowledge, U.S. officials say"

Anticipated world reaction:

Fox News: This is the entirely foreseeable result of the welcome mat Biden has extended to aliens.

CNN: Another toxic legacy of the Trump administration’s ant-science policy surfaces to challenge the new administration.

@realdonaldtrump (if he were allowed to tweet): Now we can see who helped Sleepy Joe steal the election.

Washington Post: Anonymous sources confirm that aliens are here only to witness Jeff Bezos’ historic space flight.

Elon Musk: Their technology is braindead.

Pres. Biden: We are proposing another $5 trillion in spending to prevent panic.

Mitch McConnell: Maintaining the filibuster will prevent panic.

Dr. Fauci: I would have informed Americans of this risk earlier but I was afraid they’d stop wearing masks.

World Health Organization: There is no evidence that there is a risk of airborne contagion. We are seeking permission from the visitors to investigate further.

OAC: The very term “alien” is degrading and another example of toxic white masculinity.

The New York Times: A scientific consensus is emerging that POOW (People of Other Worlds) have been attracted by the buildup of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere.

Proud Boys: The Jewish conspiracy is galatic (sic).

Antifa: Disarm the police.

Andrew Cuomo: Despite allegations to the contrary, I wouldn’t touch them with a ten-foot pole.

Spokewoman for Israeli Defense Forces: The IDF will respond overwhelmingly to any provocation.

Iranian Ayatollah: The American and Israeli butchers must be made to pay a steep price.

Pres. Putin: The chemists of the KGB have prepared an antidote.

Anonymous hacker: NOTICE TO ALIENS: DO NOT TURN OFF YOUR COMPUTER. YOUR ROUTE HOME HAS BEEN ENCRYTED. IMMEDIATE PAYMENT IN BITCOIN IS REQUIRED.

June 16, 2021

Another Free Way to Tell if Starlink Broadband Will Work at Your Location

Also a good way to find out where you want to move your dish if you have problems.

StarlinkglobeIf you don’t have cable or fiber to your home and you don’t think you’ll be getting either one of them soon, Starlink from SpaceX may be your next best option. Starlink uses low earth orbit satellites (LEOs) which don’t have the latency problems which make the previous generation of satellite service from Hughes and others unusable for today’s essentials like Zoom. Starlink is plenty good for a family with multiple people learning from home, working from home, and streaming videos.

But if you’re in the northern hemisphere, Starlink needs a view of the northern sky; in the southern hemisphere it looks south. Currently, to provide service without interruption, it needs to see a swath of northern sky about 100 degrees wide and from 25 degrees to almost 90 degrees above the horizon. It is very sensitive to even thin tree limbs which block part of this view. Although the dish itself only moves as part of setup, it uses electronic tracking beams which lock on to satellites as they zip past in the swath of sky it can look at. Zip is not an exaggeration. The satellites circle the earth every ninety minutes; the satellite serving you now will be serving someone in South Africa 45 minutes from now.

The snapshot above is captured from the website https://satellitemap.space/# which projects the positions of Starlink satellites in real time.  Red ones are in the night sky; streaks are newly launched satellites not yet moved into place.  

Zooming in on the web picture gives you a picture like the one below. To be useful, you want to set up your house instead of mine as the green dot.

My house starlink

The five red lines going roughly north from my house show that, right this minute, any one of six satellites could be providing me with service. It’s anyone’s guess which one my dish is actually tracking. If you were looking at the real website, you’d see the white dots and the lines move. The two rows of white text associated with each satellite are the two most important. elev (elevation) is many degrees above the horizon the satellite appears from my house. Az (azimuth) is the direction from my house to the satellite. Notice there is no red line from my dish to the STARLINK-1139 at the far left; it hasn’t yet entered the dish’s field of view. Similarly STARLINK-2360 in the lower right is invisible to the dish.

If you stare at the moving display long enough (it is addictive), you’ll get a pretty good idea of whether Starlink is going to work for you. If there is any significant amount of time when there are no satellites eligible to serve your house, Starlink probably won’t take an order from you. There are parts of the world including the US which are not yet well-covered even though there are already about 1400 satellites launched. If there is nowhere you can put the dish where the arc swept by the red lines is always visible from 25 degrees above the horizon to almost straight up, then you are not currently a good candidate for Starlink. If you already have Starlink and the app is showing you that there are interference problems, the moving chart will help you pinpoint them and find a better location for the dush.

BTW, this cool website is not from Starlink or endorsed by Starlink; it doesn’t do tracking cookies; it doesn’t have ads; and it’s free. Good programmers like to do this kind of stuff.

Unfortunately, even if Starlink looks like a good fit, there is a backlog and you probably won’t get the equipment for three to six months after your order. SpaceX is gating deliveries to protect service quality; capacity is increased by the launch of about 60 new satellites each month and by adding new ground stations to bring the signal back to earth like the ones in Beekman, NY (active) and Lunenburg, VT (not yet active) in the picture above. There are also areas where Starlink service is simply not available yet pending a critical mass of orders in the area. You order at http://www.starlink.com with a refundable $99 deposit; but it is possible your order will be not be taken for one of the reasons listed. When your order is ready for shipment, you’ll be billed for the remainder of the $499 equipment charge plus taxes and shipping. Service is then $99/month; no contract and no data caps. You can return the equipment for 30 days for any reason or no reason.

If you like numbers, here are my measurements of Starlink performance: latency (roughly the time between when you click on something and you get a response from some server somewhere) is usually between 35-50 milliseconds, plenty fast. Download speed varies but is usually between 150 and 250 Megabits per seconds (Mbps) and upload between 15 and 35Mbps lately.

You can learn how to use the free app to check for obstacles before ordering at: How to Find Out Free If Starlink Will Work at Your House.

Related posts are at:

Vermont Starlink FAQs

Starlink or Your Local WISP for Broadband Service

Starlink Broadband Access: Game-Changer for Rural Broadband

Now Available – Worldwide and Local Current Starlink Performance

 

June 10, 2021

Amazon Sidewalk Should be Kicked to the Curb

It may already be sharing your Internet connection AND your data.

Amazon Sidewalk went live in millions of homes today, June 9. If you have a late model Echo or an Amazon Ring device, Sidewalk can now use your internet connection for other people’s data and send your data through other people’s internet connections unless you already knew about this intrusion and turned it off.

Somehow none of the copious emails I get from Amazon mentioned this.

What is Sidewalk?

Sidewalk is a clever technology which has quietly been built into Echo devices since 2018 and into all Ring devices. Part of it is a radio which uses neither Bluetooth nor WiFi but can communicate with similar radios up to a half mile away. A similar technology is used in smart electric meters.

The rest is technology which uses the WiFi connection you set up for your Amazon device to send data the radio has received from your neighbors and to send some of your data to your neighbors for transmission over their internet connections.  Sidewalk is a mesh network of connected devices which can use any internet connection in the mesh for any device in the mesh. For technical reasons, it can currently only transfer relatively small amounts of data.

A list of devices with Sidewalk enabled is here as well as information on becoming a Sidewalk developer.

Why is Sidewalk?

An article in The Washington Post quotes an email from Manolo Arana, Amazon’s general manager of Sidewalk:

“We live in an increasingly connected world where customers want their devices to stay connected. We built Sidewalk to improve customers’ experiences with their devices and to benefit their communities.”

Reasons we would want Sidewalk, he said, include continuing to receive motion alerts from Ring security cameras when they lose WiFi or extending the range of smart lights. Later this month, Amazon is also adding Bluetooth lost-item tracker Tile and smart lock maker Level to the Sidewalk network. And it is partnering with CareBand, a maker of wearable sensors for people with dementia, on a pilot test including indoor and outdoor tracking and a help button.

(BTW, kudos to The Post, which is owned by Jeff Bezos, but recommends turning Sidewalk off).

At its best, Sidewalk is backup for your security system if your own or a neighbor’s Internet connection goes down. It lets Tiles work outside the range of Bluetooth and lets other devices work outside the range of your WiFi. It does extend the internet of things and can be an alternative to using expensive cellular connections for devices with small data requirements.

What’s wrong with Sidewalk?

  1. Security. Even though Amazon has a good record in avoiding cyber-attacks (so far) and security people more knowledgeable than me say the Sidewalk encryption scheme is robust, anything that can be hacked will be hacked. Amazon says Sidewalk will be built into 3d party devices; each one of them is a potential Trojan Horse. Do you want data from your security system on an unmanaged mesh network? Amazon didn’t ask you before turning the service on.
  2. Bandwidth sharing. If there are data caps on your home internet connection or it is some form of miserable DSL with little bandwidth to spare, do you want to use some of that bandwidth to support your neighbors’ devices? Amazon didn’t ask you before turning the service on.
  3. Possible violations of your ISP’s terms of service. Some ISPs are quoted as saying that we signed agreements that we would only use our connections for our own data, not that of our neighbors. You probably didn’t read the terms of service (ToS) any more closely than I did. I don’t take this one too seriously. If I forward an email or upload a big file that someone gave me on a thumb drive, am I violating the ToS? But Amazon didn’t ask if I wanted to fight with my ISP.
  4. Amazon didn’t ask before turning the service on! It’s obvious why: for the mesh to work, many homes must have it enabled. Most people wouldn’t bother to enable it, especially since there may not be an immediate benefit to them. Communication services need critical mass. Amazon has a critical mass of devices installed. It didn’t want to give that advantage away, so it just turned the service on without either asking or even a massive publicity campaign about benefits and possible drawbacks and how to opt out.

How do I turn Sidewalk off? (from the NYTImes which likes it but thinks it should’ve been optin)

Echo device owners, open your Alexa app on your smartphone.

  1. Look for the sandwich menu (three lines), labeled More, at the bottom right of the dashboard and tap it.
  2. Select Settings.
  3. Select Account Settings.
  4. Select Amazon Sidewalk. Use the slider to choose Disabled.

Ring device owners should follow these instructions.

  1. Open the Ring app.
  2. Go to the sandwich menu (three lines) in the upper left of the dashboard.
  3. Select Control Center.
  4. Select Amazon Sidewalk. Use the slider to choose Disabled.
  5. When prompted, tap Confirm to indicate that you wish to disable Sidewalk.

Note: If your Alexa is too old to have Sidewalk radios, you won’t see the Sidewalk option in the app.

June 02, 2021

Should Vaccination be Required for Medical Professionals?

“Thank you [name deleted] for your thoughtful post. Although I disagree with you, I 100% support YOUR right to choose to wear a mask and to receive the COVID-19 shot if you so desire. That said, there are many of us who choose not to receive any of the COVID-19 shots nor wear masks in situations where it is not required.” - Bradley Rauch, Stowe Chiropractic/Vermont Functional Neurology  in Stowe Front Porch Forum.

The woman whose name I redacted said that, although she is fully vaccinated, she intends to keep wearing a mask in town and in stores and that she suspects that those who have refused to get vaccinated are also refusing to wear masks.

Dr. Rauch has every right to express his opinion about the Covid-19 vaccine just as he has campaigned against childhood vaccination. He is doing us a favor by letting us know both that his medical judgment is faulty and that it is riskier to be treated by him than by vaccinated professionals.

Should Dr.Rauch be allowed to practice medicine?

I don’t think so. Early in the pandemic medical professionals were given preference for vaccination both in recognition of the risks they were taking and the danger that they would become super-spreaders. Doctors, nurses, and other medical staff remain more likely to get infected than others because they come in contact with sick people and are more likely to spread infection than others because sick patients are vulnerable.

Covid vaccination should be a requirement for those in health care who have patient contact. That requirement would mean that Dr, Rauch would not be allowed to practice unless and until he is vaccinated.

I’m NOT saying that Rauch should be barred from practice because he speaks against vaccination; he has a right to free speech even if that speech is unpopular. He and other medical professionals who refuse vaccination should be barred from practice because their refusal to be vaccinated makes them a danger to their patients.

See also: Perpetrator of Fraudulent Vaccine Scare Speaking in Stowe

May 24, 2021

Unmasked – Now It’s Up to Us

We wore masks to protect other people because they had no way to protect themselves – especially those whose jobs serving us made them vulnerable. Now almost all 12s and up can protect themselves with a vaccination. We are now responsible, again, for own safety. That’s a good thing.

Just saw the first sign at a supermarket which said “You must wear a mask if you’re not vaccinated [emphasis mine]”. Do I think everyone going maskless was vaccinated? No, there’s an unfortunate selfish correlation between those who refused to wear masks and those who refuse to get vaccinated. Am I going to wear a mask because of the unmasked unvaccinated? No. I’m vaccinated. I’m no more likely to spread Covid than all the other diseases in the world, most of which I’m not vaccinated against.

Right now the unvaccinated are taking a risk with their own lives. Unfairly the final vaccine holdouts will be parasites on the partial herd immunity achieved by the rest of us getting vaccinated and will be danger to those who can’t get vaccinated or have weak immune systems and provide a breeding ground for new variants which could be vaccine resistant. We may still need to make vaccination compulsory.

I was glad to wear a mask when it was needed. Intend to make a habit of masking up if I go out with sniffles in the future. It was absurd that masks became a political symbol, although less than complete candor from the CDC and yes, even from Dr. Fauci, as well as Trumpian mask-scorn had something to do with that. In hindsight, the evidence that masks were unneeded outdoors should have been released earlier and probably would have increased compliance indoors. Continuing to wear a mask after vaccination or outdoors is like keeping a Trump 2020 sticker on your car – not that the same people do both.

I’m glad to see smiles again.

May 10, 2021

Broadband Equity Isn’t Happening in Vermont This Year

Why did Progressive Senator Pearson lead the opposition?

You’d think Progressives would be all in for a plan to use a fraction of federal Rescue funds to assure that every Vermont family regardless of income or location had a chance to get connected immediately to the broadband service they need to participate in the post-pandemic world. You’d be wrong!

You’d think a plan to provide outreach, technical help, training, and subsidies when required to families whose children have to go to the McD parking lot to do their homework and who have to go to the emergency room rather than see a teledoc would sail through a legislature with a huge Democrat majority despite conservative concern that a temporary subsidy program would become permanent. You’d be wrong!

You’d think that the administration of Phil Scott, which has done a great job of leading the state through the pandemic, would seize the opportunity to lead a crucial aspect of pandemic recovery. You’d be wrong! The administration was largely AWOL on this issue.

Why is the Vermont General Assembly on the verge of allocating $150 million of Rescue funds to yet-to-be-defined broadband construction projects which, at best, won’t be completed for five years, but refusing to allocate even $5 million to low-income Vermonters who could be brought online immediately? Why are they refusing to require that projects built with state and federal funds include low-income programs so that they can be accessible by all? Frankly, I don’t know.

Sen. Chris Pearson (P/D-Chittenden) and Sen. Ruth Hardy (D-Addison) led the opposition in the Senate Finance Committee to a proposal called the “Digital Equity and Affordability Program” introduced by Sen. Randy Brock (R-Franklin), which included a Broadband Corps to help an estimated 50,000+ eligible families find providers they can connect to immediately and get access to existing and new subsidies. According to VT Digger,

“By helping private providers offer subsidized service, the state would divert customers away from the CUDS [Communications Union Districts] and toward the companies that historically have avoided building out in rural areas, Pearson said.

“’The problem is that that could easily undermine the CUD model, which is essential if we’re going to get broadband to the outskirts, to the very far end of the dirt road, and you can’t undermine their business model, so it’s a real balance,’ Pearson said.”

The CUDs were established by the legislature several years ago as vehicles for municipal cooperation to provide broadband access in parts of Vermont which lack usable internet because it has been unprofitable to serve them with traditional technology. The private sector had not solved this problem. The idea was that the CUDs would borrow money at favorable municipal rates and, since they had no shareholders to satisfy, would be able to provide service and repay their loans. The model was EC Fiber, which already provides fiber service in rural parts of 23 towns in Vermont.

The CUDs were preparing plans and meant to follow EC Fiber’s lead and borrow money commercially. But, all of a sudden, we have a deluge of federal funds from CARES and ARPA legislation. There is probably more to come from the Biden infrastructure proposal. The Governor proposed $250 million and the legislature is currently allocating $150 million largely to finance the long-delayed buildout; both advocate funneling almost all of the money through the CUDs.

Whether it is wise to immediately commit all the marbles to well-meaning volunteer organizations with no track record and little relevant expertise is another subject for another post. Let’s assume for now that CUDs are the way to go for broadband buildout and go back to Sen. Pearson’s absurd claim that helping people get online now with ISPs already serving their neighborhood will undermine the “business” plan of the CUDs.

About 60% of Vermont families, including most in Pearson’s Chittenden County, live in areas served by Comcast which already has a $10/month low-income plan (50Mbps down, 5Mbps up, no data cap) with no signup charges and free equipment. No subsidy money would have gone through these families to Comcast under Brock’s proposal but the Broadband Corp would have encouraged and helped eligible families to sign up for it. Since these areas are certainly not “unserved”, they are not in need of CUD buildout. A state-sponsored survey shows that only 10% of eligible families take advantage of this program. Hard to see how getting these families online now at an affordable price hurts the CUDs but apparently Pearson thinks it would.

Another 25% of Vermont families live in areas where there is adequate broadband service but it is too expensive for some. This includes the territory served by EC Fiber which costs $140 to install and $72/month for minimum acceptable service. This area is also served by wireless ISPs, small telcos and cable companies. Under Brock’s proposal installation and equipment charges and all but $25 of monthly charges would have been subsidized for a limited time. Families in these areas would have been able to get online with one of the providers before the next school year begins.

The CUDs do intend to overbuild at least the parts of this area where there is not fiber available to each residence. Even though the need is not desperate in these areas, the CUDs say, anything but fiber is unacceptable and they need the income from these areas to subsidize their buildout to even more thinly served areas. EC Fiber is in some of this area and would benefit from new signups with this subsidy; they have no formal low-income program of their own although they have been generous on an informal basis. The rest of the CUDs offer no service today and so families who sign up in “their territories” would be signing up with Vermont companies like Cloud Alliance, Stowe Cable, and GlobalNet.

Sen. Pearson’s stated fear is that these customers won’t switch to CUD service when and if it’s available. Better to leave them without service, he says, than risk hurting the business plans of the CUDs. On WCAX he said “You’re undermining their ability to get to the last house. You’re effectively subsidizing these private companies to cherry-pick customers along the way.” Cherry picking?? EC Fiber has no formal affordable plan. Only about 35% of the families to whom their service is physically available actually buy it – presumably affordability is an issue for many of them. CUD testimony before the legislature (which may not be representative of all CUDs) was that, even with the flood of federal capital, CUDs will not be able to offer low-income plans. The families Sen. Brock proposed giving subsidies to can’t possibly be part of the CUD business plan since the CUDs say they can’t offer them service they can afford. Nothing in this subsidy plan would have hurt the CUDs ability to sell to those who can afford their service.

The final 15% of Vermont families live where there is no traditional broadband access good enough for the post-pandemic families. The CUDs are frank that they can’t possibly reach the end of these roads for five more years. Affluent Vermonters (and new urban refugees) in remote areas are ordering service from Starlink, the first of a new generation of low earth orbit satellite (LEOS) service providers who provide more than adequate service optimized for remote areas. 5G cell service will probably also be available in part of these areas soon. In this case Sen. Pearson is saying that low-income people should patiently wait five years for CUD service, which they probably won’t be able to afford when it gets to them. The statement is simply elitist and inhumane. It’s also economic nonsense. Even affluent Vermonters choosing Starlink are no threat to the CUDs, assuming the CUDs can offer them a better product or a better service when they finally reach them. Starlink has no contract commitment so customers are free to switch.

It is now all but certain that the legislature will deliberately refuse the opportunity to help unconnected low-income Vermont families thrive in a post-pandemic world which requires the ability to work from home, study from home, and take advantage of telemedicine. It’s ironic as well as tragic that this failure is based on a perceived need to advance the “business plan” of non-profits formed to remedy the failure of for-profit companies to provide broadband to the unserved.

[Bitterness alert: Mary and I have been working on an effort called Broadband Equity NOW! to convince the executive and legislative branches to seize this unique opportunity to close the broadband gap in Vermont immediately with short-term measures and set the stage for long-term affordability. We had lots of help from many caring people of all political persuasions and are disappointed that we failed and that the broadband gap, instead of being bridged, is growing into a broadband gulch.  We are also appalled that opponents of these proposals claimed that we were funded by Elon Musk (founder of Starlink) or some other commercial entity.]

May 06, 2021

General Assembly Refusing to Spend Any RESCUE Money on Broadband Affordabilty

More today on WDEV

The Vermont General Assembly is on the verge of squandering an enormous opportunity to get all Vermonters regardless of location or income online now with the high quality broadband they need to thrive in the post-pandemic world. The greatest obstacle to a family accessing adequate broadband in Vermont is affordability. So far the legislature has declined to address either short or long term affordability while allocating $150 million of federal Rescue money for broadband buildout. There are literally only a few days left for the legislature to remedy this grave mistake.

I'll be on WDEV (96.1 FM, 550 AM) in VT with Bill Sayre at 11AM today (May 6, 2021) discussing this impending failure by our state government and the last chances to remedy it. Streaming at https://wdevradio.com/stream/. It's a callin so you can question and opine as well.

May 03, 2021

More Unlimited Data is an Oxymoron

It started with having to upgrade my “unlimited” plan to increase the data limit. We’re on the road, and the WiFi at Wisconsin State Fair RV Park is almost but not quite good enough for serious Zooms (about 1.5 Mbps up and down with phenomenally good latency). Zooming using my Verizon Wireless (VZW) MiFi hotspot is high quality but burns many precious bits.

I only wanted to increase the “unlimited” limits for the hotspot but the VZW website wouldn’t do that without also putting our phones, which aren’t using too much data, on new, more expensive plans for a total $40/mo increase. I clicked CHAT. The transcript below is verbatim, REALLY.

Verizon

Hey . I'm the Verizon Digital Assistant. Ask me a question! If I can't help, I can connect you with a live chat agent.

Please note that we may monitor or retain this chat.

You can also start with one of these popular topics:

    • View your bill
    • Make a payment
    • Manage my account
    • View data usage
    • View My Plan

Me I need to speak to an agent.

Verizon One moment, and I'll get someone who can help you.

We received your message and we'll connect you with the next available agent.

The estimated wait time is a minute or less. Please keep in mind in order to hold your place in the agent queue you will need to keep this chat window active otherwise your session could be ended.

Verizon Agent

Hi there! Welcome to Verizon messaging team. I am more than glad to assist you today. How may I help you?

Me I want more data for my mifi device but dont need more for the phones. how can I just select unlimited plus for that device and leave the others as is? 

Verizon Agent

Oh, thank you so much for reaching us about this. I'll be more than happy to assist you with that.

[ 5 min delay]

Verizon Agent

Allow me to pull up your account first so that I can assist you further and with whom do I have the pleasure of speaking?

Me Tom Evslin

Verizon Agent

Hi Tom, Very nice to meet you

[7 min]

Verizon Agent

I have now the account pulled up and currently checking on it with regard to your concern.

Verizon Agent

Tom, I do have here the best offer that you can choose. I highly suggest our Do More Unlimited [sic] Plan not for all of the device, it's just for the device you are using. We can go ahead and discuss it.

Me what r the details? Thank you

Verizon Agent

You are most welcome.

[10 min]

Verizon Agent

Let me send you a link for your reference so that you can check it more detailed.

Me ok

Verizon Agent

One moment

[8 min]

Verizon Agent

Thank you for your patience. I have tried to process to change a new plan for your request, However, it wont allow to continue the process since it prompt me to select the plan change to all of the lines associated. The good thing of that is you can pay more less of the charges that you are paying right now.

Me what will be the difference in monthly charges and in data allowance?

Verizon Agent

Great question. Let me check on it. [Like he/she/they didn’t think I’d ask]

[10 min]

Verizon Agent

Hi thank you for your patience. I will be sending you a sample qoute of the plan that i am referring to. To what email address I can send? 

Me: [redacted]

[5 min. good thing I’m multitasking too]

Verizon Agent

Thank you so much. one moment, I will be sending now.

Verizon Agent

Please let me know if you receive

Me: i did receive it. You told me it would be less. In fact it is $40 more. Nothing in what you sent me says what I am getting for that $40

Verizon Agent

Let me check another plan. One moment please.

[15 min]

Me this is a long moment. r u still there?

Icon

 

Not Delivered

No further communication from VZW. Not a happy camper, I did upgrade. When we get home, we’ll get a new carrier.

But their time is almost up.

1) I expect that I’ll at least be able to pay for zoomable wifi by the night in most places a year from now.

Tvdish2) Elon Musk promised that I’ll be able to take my Starlink dish with me by the end of the year like this camper is doing with his satellite TV.

Elon also implied there’ll even be a version (I’m sure it’ll be a new dish) that will work in trucks and RVs while in motion. I’m not going to need much cellular data.

April 29, 2021

Jailbreak

BetaBitVermont coated our rented RV in ice to prevent our departure. No way. We’ve been quarantined. We’re double vaxxed and timed out. We were outta there as soon as the RV extension thawed enough for it to retract. Did feel very bad about Ben, our faithful Covid dog; but he’s with our dog-person house sitter and has playdates lined up.

Crossing the NY State line was a big deal; haven’t left Vermont for 14 months. Driving an underpowered vehicle with small tires and rudimentary suspension takes getting used to.

Medriving

First night was too cold to put water in the RV so we stayed in a hotel; another 14-month first. Whoops; couldn’t sign on to Marriott wifi on my computer even though Mary could sign on with hers. Why? Because I took my own advice. Specified that my computer MUST always use the Cloudflare DNS specifically to protect myself against rogue DNS servers while travelling (this isn’t a nerd post so don’t worry if this sounds like gobbledygook). Turns out at least Marriott and probably other venues use their own DNS server to get you signed in. Had to undo my protection to go back on the road.

Second night Niagara, NY. Hooking up the water and electric only took five minutes to my delight. Furnace worked. The Falls themselves, which we’d only seen before from the air, were spectacular. We only wore our masks indoors and in crowds; most people did the same.

Marybridal

Travel for me has always been about communication ever since I used to take a wallplate off to connect my 1200 baud modem to the phone line. The WiFi at KOA (Campgrounds of America) was good enough for Zoom but email started bouncing back because various spam filters didn’t like the IP address of the RV park. Who knows what evil hackers parked here before us. Had to use my Verizon MiFi device to create a hotspot.

Cooking toast in the stove top set off the smoke detector even with fans on and the windows open; so I redeployed it to the sock drawer. Emptying the black water and grey water tanks into a foul pipe in the ground not as bad as I thought it might be. But still a few drips. Yuck (picture deleted).

It’s good to be back on the road.

April 21, 2021

Testimony Today on a Rescue Program for Vermont Families Who Can't Afford Broadband

The VT House Committee on Energy and Technology will be taking testimony on broadband subsidies today (4/21) starting a 9AM streamable live or later from https://www.youtube.com/.../UClq5iwB1tbE.../featured.
 
Their original broadband bill, H360, did not have subsidies but they may well be added in the Senate , and so I think the committee is wisely preparing itself on this subject. I'll be testifying in favor of emergency low-income subsidies to get all Vermont families across broadband gulch followed by a long-term program of requiring ISPs that accept Rescue funding for building networks to offer low-income plans on those networks.
 
This plan also includes a Broadband Corps, whose development is already underway, to make sure families know what service and aid is available to them, assure that they do get hooked up, and provide basic computer literacy.
 
My testimony will be probably start at around 10AM.
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