Category: web & software

Mid-Hudson Cable Continues To Be a Rip Off

Mid-Hudson Cable continues to provide substandard internet services here. I have written of this earlier. Last summer I suckered up for the “up to 10 MB/sec” service for an extra $5 per month. Recently I updated my test results over this time span. The average download speed (all results based on 130 tests from August 2011 through today) is 5.9 MB/sec; the average upload speed is .43 MB/sec. The ping time average is 160 milliseconds.

So, in the strange world of Mid-Hudson Cable 5.9 equals “up to 10 MB/sec”. One does not need a calculator to see that there is a 40% shortfall here.

You can download the spreadsheet here to check out the data

Internet Service in Hudson and the Surrounding Area – more about Mid-Hudson Cable

Mid Hudson Cable Internet OfferThis offer from Mid-Hudson Cable showed up today in a bank statement from The Bank of Greene County. Mid-Hudson always gets my attention but almost never for good reasons. This ad is a continuation of their finger in your eye approach to customers. Note that it offers “DOUBLE” and “TRIPLE” your speed for Internet service without ever mentioning what it is that they are doubling or tripling. This is simply a further progression in making it hard to find out what exactly you are paying for or even what it is they are promising to provide.

If you pop over to their website you can find this (my screen grab from today with added red arrow), that says that the regular residential service package provides “5 meg”. From other advertising I know that this is likely to mean 5 MegaBits/second (MB/sec) a meaningful identifier.

Here is the rub. In almost two years of experience with Mid-Hudson I have never experienced this level of service nor the 10 MB/s for which I am now paying in an effort to get my service level up to something useful. In fact, after hundreds of measurements over the last year, I can tell you with some assurance that “5 meg” really means 3.8 meg. And, if you use the Internet services during the peak hours of late afternoon and into the evening, the service level is significantly lower.

Mid-Hudson Cable screen grab 05232011

All of this has led me to think that Hudson and Columbia County needs an Internet Service Provider that is serious about both providing service to everyone and at world competitive levels of service. I had thought that perhaps when the contract between the City of Hudson and Mid-Hudson comes up for renewal that we could put some real teeth in a new contract. Yesterday CCSCoop published this story, “Mid-Hudson Cable Gets Icy Reception in Greenville” that included the following: “

The non-exclusive contract between the town and Mid-Hudson is for “video” service only, meaning for cable television and not internet service, explained Pat Johnson, senior municipal consultant with the state Public Service Commission (PSC).

“I think you are all here for the wrong reason,” Johnson told residents, emphasizing that by state law the cable agreement cannot include conditions for internet even though Mid-Hudson provides both.”

So this appears to leave us in a situation in which Mid-Hudson has a de facto monopoly on high speed internet service in the county (Verizon only offers DSL service which is, for technological reasons, limited to below 1 MB/sec service levels) without any regulatory or contractual leverage.

Bloated Files at Conde Nast

Once the New Yorker came to it’s senses about offering subscribers access to the iPad digital version as part of their print subscription I downloaded the New Yorker app. After suffering through the klutzy registration process I settled in to see what it looked like to read one of my favorite magazines on an iPad.

When I clicked on the download button I saw that the file was 117 MB. This is big enough for a short movie! What are they doing at Conde Nast? Are they sending me the PDF that they send to the printers? Even on my relatively fast cable Internet connection downloading a file this size is several minutes. Today, I downloaded the Wired Magazine app only to discover that the free issue was 320 MB!

Unless I am grievously in error it is hard to understand how apps dedicated to delivering magazines to iPads could possibly require this much data to fill such a small screen.

Curious in Hudson.

Mid-Hudson Cable and Internet Service in Hudson

Last week a story appeared in the Register Star, “Mid-Hudson turns down $3.5M in stimulus money“. This followed by two days Sam Pratt, always at the ready with in depth commentary, who wrote about the continuing failures of Mid-Hudson and the troubled life of a wannabe rural internet user in his blog posting, “MH Cable: Not tapping that grant after all“. Mid-Hudson Cable always gets a rise here. I posted the following comment at Sam’s article:

I sympathize with the troubles of those just beyond the reach of high speed Internet. Clearly bringing high speed access to everyone in the county is an important issue. However, the troubles of Mid-Hudson as an Internet provider go beyond their sluggishness at extending service.

I live right on Warren St, in the middle of MH’s most densely populated area, and their service level has been poor. They have never lived up to their advertised speeds. When we had 5 MB/s service it never ran better than 4 and the average over hundreds of data points was 3.6. I had technicians come to investigate. They pronounced my equipment to be up to snuff and left commenting “The advertising says ‘up to 5 MB/S’, it never gets there.”

Since I use the Internet for both my business coaching and web development work I felt compelled to cough up $5 more a month to get the 10 MB/S service. Now I get 7 MB/S until the evening when it slows down, as it did before, when all the other users come on line.

I believe that the contract between the city and MH is ending in 2013. Time to get ready to fight for some real service level standards that can be enforced. Or, let’s find another provider.

Mid-Hudson Cable continues to practice misleading, deceptive advertising practices with its pitch of “blazing speeds” upto 5 MB/S. The upto is Mid-Hudson’s bit of clever marketing. They never have delivered  close to that level of service.

A Suite of Plugins to Enhance Your Web Reading Pleasures

The other day I posted information about Readability, a great bookmarklet that strips away unwanted web garbage and presents text is a very reader friendly style. Since then I have come on two more web services that aid those interested in finding and reading some of the more interesting stuff on the web. The first, Instapaper,  adds to the ease of bookmarking interesting web material for later review. The second, LONGREADS, is a growing database of pieces on the web that are longer than the sound bite format that now dominates the spare real estate of web screens and the even sparer attention spans that seem to predominate these days. I have now put these three together on my web browsers and on my iPod Touch. These are my suite of web reading tools.

Instapaper screen grab

Instapaper provides you with a tool to bookmark interesting web material that you would like to review later. Unlike bookmarking material in your browser, these bookmarks live in the Web cloud and therefore are accessible to you on whatever device you happen to be using. As you bump into interesting material ion the web you simply click on the “Read Later” button in your Bookmarks bar to save it. Later when you are ready for some serious reading you bop on over to your Instapaper page and there are all of your items. Instapaper allows you to organize these in folders and also download in various formats for reading on Kindles, iPads, and so on.   See the screen grab to the left for a flavor, then go to Instapaper to set up your account and download the bookmarklets to install in your favorite web browsers.

OK. Now its time to make the reading experience more pleasant and productive. This is where Readability fits in.

I stumbled on this wonderful tool and want to share it. One of the frustrations of the Web is the enormous clutter of many web pages. This seems especially true of the magazine and newspaper style sites which feel compelled to have blizzards of sidebars, advertisements, and all sorts of other junk. Worst of all are the sites where there are moving Flash animations constantly distracting your eye from the content you might be trying to read.

Along comes this great bookmarklet. Readability from ARC90. Rather than use a lot of words, here are a before and after screen grab. You can guess which is which. Go to Readability and copy the bookmarklet to your browser tool bars. Then, try it out on this posting and see how much easier it is to read in text automatically sized to your needs and without the two sidebars present here.

Web page before using Readability bookmarkletReadability-afterLONGREADS is a site that catalogs longer articles available on the web. You can search by length and keywords. It is a perfect closer  to this suite of tools devoted to improving reading on the web.

Making the Web More Readable – the Readability Project at ARC90

I stumbled on this wonderful tool and want to share it. One of the frustrations of the Web is the enormous clutter of many web pages. This seems especially tru of the magazine and newspaper style sites which feel compelled to have blizzards of sidebars, advertisements, and all sorts of other junk. Worst of all are the sites where there are moving Flash animations constantly distratcing your eye from the content you might be trying to read.

Along comes this great bookmarklet. Readability from ARC90. Rather than use a lot of words, here are a before and after screen grab. You can guess which is which.

Web page before using Readability bookmarkletWeb page after using Readability bookmarklet

Internet Service, the New York Times and Choice in the World of Mono-Duo-poly Capitalism

What Planet is the Times Orbiting?

Today’s New York Times editorial page included a piece titled “How Fast Is Your Broadband?“. It provides a reasonable review of the sad performance of the Internet service providers in the US. It is widely known that Internet service providers like Comcast, Time-Warner and locally Mid-Hudson Cable chronically provide significantly less than their advertising claims. Here in Hudson, NY Mid-Hudson claims “blazing speeds” of 5 MB/sec (download). Repeated measurements, now numbering over 280 in the last six months prove that they provide speeds 30% less than this mark. Service technicians from M-H have acknowledged that this is the typical service they provide.

Worse is that the latency frequently reaches 2 seconds instead of being under the 100 milliseconds that is commonly accepted as OK latency on the Internet.. This means that after your click your mouse on a link in a browser, you can literally count “1 Mississippi 2 Mississippi” before you get any response to your query. This latency disables common communications tools like VOIP telephone services and audio and video services via Skype or Google.