Access to the internet, on average, is less expensive than it was a few years ago, although there are notable exceptions. The fierce competition among providers served to put a virtual ceiling on rates to access a virtual world. Now, however, in tougher economic times providers are trying to come up with ways to maximize revenues, and use-based fees are becoming popular with ISP’s.
There are times when internet access needs to provide more than basic functions, as when privacy and security concerns are at a premium, and these features can cost dearly. Other places where internet access is expensive are in countries where internet service is extremely limited and/or controlled by monopolies, government or private.
- Instant Gratification – If I was a wealthy recluse who wanted to watch what I want when I want and how I want to, I might plunk down a grand for a personalized connection. Pirates with money can access movies and other downloads if they know where to look.
- Specialized Service – You and/or your company may have special requirements regarding your internet connection. Companies like Vaxxine may have the solution for your needs. Http://web.vaxxine.com/access/special/
- Privacy – There are many instances in the corporate world, as well as on the personal front, when additional privacy and security are needed for internet service. http://techcrunch.com/2011/06/28/keene-on-michael-fertik-why-people-will-pat-for-privacy/
- Turkmenistan – In Turkmenistan, the cheapest rate for monthly internet service (2GB at 64kbps) runs about $43.00, but providers are swamped, and service is extremely poor except at night. Unlimited service is available for a measly $7,000/month.
- Mini-Bar Included? – Don’t spend all your souvenir money until you finish dealing with your internet fees at this hostelry: http://emetrics.wordpress.com/2009/03/14/worlds-most-expensive-internet-access/
- Ethiopia – In a country where monthly internet access runs more than 2000% greater than the average monthly income, only 2% of the population is online.
- Shuttle Pilots – Shuttle pilots and astronauts use an intranet rather than the internet, although they can remotely operate earth-based computers to get online.
- How do you Spell R-O-U-T-E-R? – Hotel internet charges can be astronomical, particularly if you require service for more than one device. Two people with three devices each can rack up $100/day charges for the net. A portable wi-fi router and an ethernet connection may solve this problem.
- Canada – Metered usage is coming into play for Canadian internet users, and rates can absolutely skyrocket for those with multiple devices and for those who now use a lot of bandwidth.
- Aussies on the Road – Recent studies have shown that, as a group, Australian business travelers are not willing to spend any extra money to ensure their hotel practices “green” technology, but they are willing to pay extra for internet service.
Most of the cases where dramatically expensive internet access is encountered, include some out-of-the-ordinary circumstances.
The homecoming football game and the corresponding dance are still fall traditions for most high schools. School pride is at a fever pitch and activities fill the days prior to the game to keep the momentum going. With most every high school student using facebook to communicate their current thoughts, whereabouts and announcements, you’ll find a lot of similar status updates showing up during homecoming week.
- “He finally asked me!” - For most of the girls, homecoming is all about the dance. The football game is important, of course, but it is their date for the dance that has them dreaming and hoping several weeks ahead of time. When ‘Mr. Right’ finally gets up the courage to actually ask her, she’s sure to announce it to all her friends via her facebook status update.
- “In a relationship” - At this age, kids are in and out of ‘relationships’ quicker than a blink of the eye, and when the homecoming dance is on the calendar, you’ll find many new status updates that say “in a relationship”. Many of those status updates regarding their relationship status will change within a week after the homecoming dance, so don’t take it too seriously.
- “@ THE GAME” - Letting everyone know ‘where’ you are at has become pretty popular for any facebook status, so you’re sure to see plenty of these as kids (and parents) arrive at the field and get settled into the stands.
- “Go! (Mascot)” - You’re bound to see the team mascot being mentioned in facebook updates during homecoming week. Eagles, Bears, Bulldogs and Wildcats will all be cheered on to victory by their respective fans.
- “Go! (School colors)” - If it isn’t the mascot listed in the status, it may the school colors. Black and gold were my high school colors. I’m sure you could name yours off pretty quickly too.
- “Go! (School name)” - In small towns the high school usually has the same name as the town, but many high schools will have their own name that is being touted above their rival.
- “Check out my dress!” - Between the game and the dance, you’ll see a few of these as girls upload pictures of them in their finery. If it’s not the dress, then it may be “my hair”.
- “(School Name) Rocks!” - You may see a few status updates like this prior to the actual game, but you’ll definitely seem some after the game by the kids if the home team wins the game.
- “@ the Parade” – This is another ‘where am I’ status update. Homecoming isn’t just a game and a dance, after all, at least not in most small towns. It is also an excuse for a parade and good practice for the marching band.
- “Touch Down!” - Hopefully, there’ll be plenty of these updates going on during the game. Generally, you’ll get a few of them at least for the first touch down of the game by the home team.
Keep your eye out for these types of status updates. When you see them popping up on facebook, you can be sure it’s homecoming season for the high school students that you are friends with there.
Shopping for an e-mail service is akin to shopping for detergent at SuperDuperMart: a mile aisle with 5,000 products that don’t differ very much. The little differences, however, are what make the BIG difference, and e-mail shopping is the same way. Gmail might be termed “new and improved”, to the point where someone who feels trapped in a Hotmail or Comcast account might wish to consider a change. Some of the more salient advantages of gmail are listed below.
- Speed – Gmail loads quickly, and sends and receives at a good rate, a definite plus if rapid back-and-forth communications are necessary. In addition, threaded conversations are boiled down to a single line on the Inbox page, and a single click will take the user to the entire thread.
- Capacity – Seven gigabytes of storage are available for free, which can help if a user needs to hold on to e-mails for a long time before deleting them.
- Cost – This is a “free” service, though there are add-ons available for a price, and most people will only need the free components.
- Spam – Some people like Spam, the tinned meat product, but nobody likes the spam a computer can cook-up, and gmail has effective filters to stop most spam.
- Availability – Devised to work with all browsers and operating systems, gmail is a Post Office Protocol 3 (POP3), which means it is a completely online system, and can be accessed anywhere that has Internet service.
- HTTPS – Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, or HTTPS, is a security measure whereby the user is provided with encrypted and authenticated communications, particularly valuable if you need to access your account from a public location.
- Chat – Instant chat is available, as well as voice and video chat features, and everything can be added to your iGoogle.
- Search – Need to find a message? The search function on gmail enables users to track that message down instantly.
- Have gmail Will Travel – Travelers will like the ability to access their e-mail anywhere from a phone, which allows for more complete communications than a service like Twitter.
- Multi-task – Another nice feature of gmail is that the user cannot only have multiple accounts but can also manage them simultaneously on a single page. This is great for any household where members want their own account, and also works well when users may need to separate business mail from personal mail.
Just as Hotmail seemed to be a leader of the innovative pack a few years ago, today gmail is forging to the front with its performance and multiplicity of applications.
Downloading the latest hit song can be as easy as pressing a button. With no investment necessary, any song or movie or even program can be found on person to person file sharing networks such as Limewire, Frostwire or BitTorrent. But is this downloading of free stuff really free? What does it cost us in the long run?
- Copyrights – Historically, copyright laws have protected intellectual property, such as music. A copyright is a form of legal protection provided to the authors of original works of authorship, whether books, music, film or other creative works. Its aim is to allow authors, musicians, directors, etc., (and the companies that back them and distribute their work) to profit from their creativity and so encourage them and others to produce other works in future.
- Stealing – When ‘free’ stuff is downloaded, you are actually stealing that persons/groups intellectual property. Trading MP3s is just like stealing a CD from a store. MP3s may not be tangible, but they can be stolen. This means that you can be fined, sued, and even go to jail.
- Sharing – There are certain rights protected for the purchasers of copyrighted music, such as the right to make unlimited copies for their personal use and the right to share what they buy with their friends and family. But how far do these rights go? If one person purchases a song legally, do they then have the right to distribute that song to an unlimited amount of people? If that person shares a legally purchased song with you, without you having to pay anything, is the copy you have still legal? No. Sharing is like borrowing, you have to give it back. Keeping something someone else gave you, even if they paid for it, is still stealing.
- Viruses – Nearly all the music that is shared and downloaded is highly commercial. Free file-sharing sites often transmit viruses and ad-ware. Legal online file-sharing services exist at fair prices and are much safer. Pirated software can carry viruses or may not function at all. Plus, unlicensed users do not receive quality documentation and are not entitled to receive technical support or product upgrades, patches, or updates.
- Prices – Online free file-downloads have damaged legitimate sales. The media industry might have to compensate for a lack of sales by raising prices of goods; which means more stealing, which means higher prices. See the cycle? Plus the cost of fighting off the piracy has to come from somewhere, right?
- Quality – Unregulated file-sharing could reduce the appeal and quality of related industries. Software piracy stifles innovation. The cost of combating software piracy, plus lost revenues, could be spent on research and development to benefit users. That means that quality suffers. If you have no money to get better equipment, fresh people with new ideas, then how can the quality improve? Answer: it can’t.
- Effort – Musicians and music companies spend significant time and energy creating and promoting new music. It seems unfair that, after all this hard work, the product of their efforts is subject to a free-for-all with no obvious flow of money back to the producers. What’s the incentive of putting forth all that effort if you don’t reap any benefits?
- Global Economy – Illegal distribution of software affects the worldwide economy. “With an estimated 36% piracy rate globally, the economic effects are significant.” In 2001, according to the Business Software Alliance, piracy cost the global economy over $13 billion U.S. dollars in lost tax revenues that would benefit local communities. Hundreds of thousands of jobs in software and related industries were also lost.
There you have it. Piracy hurts the producers and the consumers. It stifles creativity and promotes lawsuits. So the next time the urge strikes you to get the newest song or movie, please take the time and money to actually purchase it. You’ll be thankful in the long run.
Have you ever wondered why you needed to give your information to a website? What do they do with that information? Is it safe? To help you in answering those questions, here are ten tips on internet safety and how to keep your personal information… personal.
- Aw, come on, do I have to? – No, you don’t. Most companies do not need everything they ask for. The mandatory items are usually marked with an asterisk, so fill those out ONLY. And don’t be afraid to fake it, they’ll never know the difference and you’ll be safer. Never give personal information to companies that you don’t absolutely have to.
- Age of Aquarius- An exception to this rule is the year you were born. While you can fake the month and day of your birthday, many companies use the year of your birth to allow access to certain services, and they are often required to do this by law. For this reason, it’s best to go ahead and put in your correct birth year when signing up.
- Sealed with an https – Only send valued personal details to a website that is secure. The link (URL) to a secure website begins https://. If the site doesn’t say that, then don’t send them any sensitive information.
- I solemnly swear that I’m up to no good - Verify the security certificate used by a secure website. It won’t do any good to trust a website if their security is expired or outdated. Yes, this does happen, even with big companies, so check it out. Some web browsers do this for you automatically- read the warning boxes and steer clear.
- I seem to have lost my phone number, can I borrow yours? – Check that there is a physical address for contact – this may help if there is a dispute. If there isn’t any way to contact them, then stay away. What business doesn’t want to hear from customers? That’s right, a BAD business. Find somewhere else.
- Swear you won’t tell anyone? – If there is a website privacy notice, check how the website uses and shares information about you. You know- that fine print you check off without actually reading. Yeah, take a look one day and see what you find. You’d be shocked with the privacy you are waving by clicking ‘continue’.
- Pinky promise? – Only share personal information with websites you know you can trust. So, you’ve done numbers 3-6 and you feel okay about the site. Think one more time before you click. Do you trust the site? Is there a Better Business Bureau tag on it? Do your friends and co-workers use it? Still okay… then, by all means, continue.
- But why? – Because I said so is not a valid reason. Always think about who you are giving information to and why they would need it. Don’t be afraid to ask. This applies even to sites you trust. Why would you want to give your hairstylist your social security number? You trust them with your hair, but not that. Why is it any different online?
- You’re special – Ah, the government. A whole other ball of wax- you can’t fudge on their forms. Make sure that your computer is secure and then start cutting through the red tape. Any time you are on a government website the URL should end with “.gov”. Make sure the site is real before you input any information. And good luck, you’re going to need it.
- Don’t take data from strangers – When dealing with computer systems that aren’t your own, never handle data or documents that you wouldn’t want left behind unprotected. Why? Because some systems record everything you do- from credit card numbers to addresses. Don’t take the chance.
Think of the internet this way- you’re in a singles bar and everyone wants to hang out with you. How do you decide who gets your number and who gets the boot? Be even more selective online. Don’t talk to strangers- especially strange ones. If your friend introduces you, still take the time to check them out. And whatever you do, don’t talk about yourself too much; you know what a turn-off that is!