2008 September (4)

Browse Month: September 2008

FiOS vs Cable Internet: A War For Your Wallet

ISP Speeds The battle rages on – every day when I happen to turn on the TV I see more and more commercials for Optimum TriplePlay, that includes cable TV, internet and phone services. Less then a month ago I’ve seen just as many commercials about Verizon FiOS – again, same old three – TV, phone and internet services in one package.

While the speed issue has been addressed many times, there’s one big problem (availability) and a few small ones (which service plan to choose and why). With Optimum Internet there’s only one level of service and a Boost addition to it, that speeds things up a little and allows you to use ports for HTTP, FTP and SMTP services. Which means you can have yourself a web server and finally can use your web site’s send e-mail capability.

So what’s the story with FiOS? The guy ain’t so good. Any level of consumer-grade internet service will keep your HTTP, FTP and SMTP ports locked up, so even if you are paying $139.99 per month for the top 50/20 plan with one-year contract AND add premium features (in case you need any), you still can’t put your web page up from your home server and you still can’t send an e-mail from your own domain. Sorry, but FiOS doesn’t seem to like geeks, nerds and small business owners (I count myself as all three to some degree).

The resolution? Business-grade packages. The same level of service: 50/20 with one-year commitment and dynamic IP will set you off for $239/month. If you have never heard of DynDNS and want static IP – your monthly bill will be $279/month. However, you can bring it down back to $239 if you slave yourself to another year of commitment. Oh, and did I mention the cumbersome installation process that includes burying the cable to your business’ location, special box installed in electric closet, special wiring, UPS installation and responsibility to replace a battery in it from time to time?

There’s little argument that premium services should cost extra, and the extra $100 for 10x the speed of cable alone is a decent price. However, the real business justifiable reason why one would want to have business FiOS at home-based business is the unlocking of ports for web, FTP and e-mail services, since the speeds are the same for consumer and business packages. So essentially the difference between these packages lies in locking these important services. Which Verizon will happily unlock for you for an extra $100 per month. You can rent another managed server for less than that!

Now, let me brag a little about why would Verizon want to do that. Perhaps the rationale is to force business owners to pay more (bad idea given the current state of economy, they probably won’t). Or maybe Verizon executives think that spammers won’t run their e-mail sending tools from cheaper FiOS (those times are so over, no concious spammer spams from home computer, no matter how fast the connection is). Of course, I don’t know the correct answer. What I do realize, though, is that as a small business owner I will very much bide my time before switching to FiOS now. Here’s why: I am paying $169/month for cable TV and internet service. It is not as fast as FiOS, but

  • I can send e-mails to my clients directly from my server/domain name and not use someone else’s SMTP service which I don’t know anything about
  • I can use web server occasionally when I need to put together a mock-up real quick. Although with running multiple hosting platforms I rarely do that, the “but I can” argument is still valid.
  • I have full access to home FTP and I do backup all accounts daily to home FTP in addition to remote server. So if I need that config file from yesterday’s backup – I don’t have to download the whole gigabyte of the backup from remote backup server.
  • I can stream music from home/home server without worrying about someone else having access to my music and me getting spanked by evil RIAA for that.
  • I use HTTHost on my home server to dodge direct use of POP/SMTP from remote location, including firewalled job places. Yes, I still use POP instead of IMAP because I like my e-mail to be accessible when I am offline and with 3 years and 4 GB of e-mail history it’s the fastest way.

So, for pretty much all intends and purposes (except for heavy online gaming, which I don’t do) my existing cable internet hookup has more functionality and costs a lot less than FiOS, making it therefore a much better business and personal tool than overpriced FiOS.

Hacking WordPress theme – External URL in title still works

At least once a week I get an e-mail about the WP theme hack I posted in January. Most of the people ask how to make the hack work in WP 2.5 and 2.6.

Here’s the simple answer – if you didn’t touch your theme (I didn’t) and if you have just upgraded the WordPress installation itself – then the hack should still work. The original post with instructions is here.

The proof is this post – look at the title and take note that link in the title leads to the main blog page, not to the post itself.

If something actually did went wrong, check the following:

  1. Your theme’s functions.php file or whatever the name of the file with theme’s functions is. It should still contain the code from the original post.
  2. Your theme’s index.php file or whatever the main index template file name is. It should have the original hack as outlined in the original post.
  3. Custom field – the new URL must be in the value field, whereas the custom field name should be url1 or whatever you made it to be.

Let me know if the damn thing is acting up again.

Google Chrome Is On The Scene

 

This Blog in Google Chrome
This Blog in Google Chrome

So the Google got themselves a powerful ally. Aside from heavily sponsoring Firefox Google has now created another entity of its own.

Not to bash Google in any way, but the product (even though it’s beta) seems scarce of features. My personal annoyances follow, but in general – I am overly satisfied with the way this new browser works. The speed alone can make up for half of the list below…

– I want to see is the status bar. Aha! It only shows up when needed – i.e. when you mouse over the link or during the page load process. Neat, but a little… unexpected.

– I want to block that annoying advertising. Please, give me my AdBlock! Now! I mean it!

– I am Firefox addict, so right-clicking on the link and choosing SECOND option must open new tab. I explicitly trained myself to avoid first option – to open link in a new window, I want my links in new tabs. Please, let me switch these options.

– Flock is a foul creature, a bastard son of Firefox and social media that no one wants to deal with. Please don’t use it’s annoying yellow information bars on top – I get enough of those in IE 7.

– I really miss all the progress bars… Even from “teh dialup times” those bars were entertaining – for all those moments when I was patiently waiting for page to load. My cable connection isn’t directly hooked into Tier 1 Premium Bandwidth provider, so I get to wait sometimes. Please, give me back my nostalgic piece of history…

– It’s 2008 for crying out loud. Why do I still have to go into settings and change default encoding from Western ISO-8859-1 to Unicode UTF-8 ? Is there any specific reason for it or the whole world just started speaking Engish exclusively?

– Last, but not least. Could you possibly change that annoying blue-and-white color scheme? No, green and white would be even more annoying.

There are couple of more issues I probably missed from the first glance, but overall I have a feeling that this is a very robust product with plenty of features to follow. It may look scarce on features, but doesn’t Google’s own first page look the same?

P.S. This post has been created in Google Chrome… 🙂