Torrents under siege

Firstly, thanks to Anakha56 of PCF for bringing this to my attention. He posted links to these two articles, on how one service provider in the States is interfering with P2P traffic.

For those of you too lazy to click the links, here’s some excerpts:

Comcast has been “caught” blocking BitTorrent traffic in some areas, according to tests performed by the Associated Press. The news organization claims to have confirmed that Comcast is blocking—or at least seriously slowing down—BitTorrent transfers, regardless of whether the content is legal or not. If true, Comcast’s actions have serious implications for sharing information online, and by proxy, Net Neutrality.

In two out of its three tests, the downloads were blocked altogether, while in the remaining test, the download started after a 10-minute delay.

AP believes that the reason for the block and delay was due to reset packets being sent back from what claimed to be other torrent users—including the AP’s second computer. “However, the traffic analyzer software running on each computer showed that neither computer actually sent the packets,” wrote the AP, indicating that the packets were sent by a mysterious middle party. Further, the AP says that when it performed traffic analysis on another computer torrenting files over Time Warner Cable, over half of the reset packets came from the addresses of Comcast subscribers. This is curious, since Comcast’s 12.4 million subscribers only make up about 20 percent of US broadband subscribers.

Comcast’s actions also have implications for net neutrality. But that’s no secret, as Comcast has been among the plethora of ISPs that regularly oppose net neutrality legislation. The ISPs like to argue that, by allowing all Internet traffic to pass through the pipes equally, they could lose money because of overall network slowdowns. But customers pay for broadband service for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is so that they can get full, high-speed access to the content of their choice.”Initial investigations suggest that Comcast is interfering with some subset of protocols, rather than interfering equally with TCP/IP traffic generally,” the EFF’s study says. “We have seen definite interference by injection of RST packets into certain classes of BitTorrent and Gnutella TCP sessions.”

“Initial investigations suggest that Comcast is interfering with some subset of protocols, rather than interfering equally with TCP/IP traffic generally,” the EFF’s study says. “We have seen definite interference by injection of RST packets into certain classes of BitTorrent and Gnutella TCP sessions.”

Comcast has been extremely secretive about the scope and extent of its traffic management activity. The company provided instructions to its employees specifying how they should respond to consumer questions about P2P interference. Employees were informed that discussing the specifics of Comcast’s P2P blocking with anyone outside of the company would lead to termination.

You get the idea.

Now, what I’m interested in is whether Telkom does the same thing. Here’s the tool with which to find out, and here’s the guide on how to go about using said tool. I’ll run some tests over the weekend, but they probably won’t turn up much as I have an unshaped SAIX line. Then again, if unshaped SAIX is being affected as well, can I ask for my money back? 😛

A door closes

I finally made a decision that I really should have made a few months ago – the decision to leave the FRAG LAN core admin team. Due to the fact that most of my free time and financial resources these days is going towards my part-time studies, I felt that I could no longer contribute to the team, and the others on the team felt the same way. I believe that my decision to step down was the best thing for both myself and for the event itself.

Initially, I was going to leave completely; however, I’ve been asked to continue looking after the website – I suppose that the only real reason for this is that I’m the only one on the team who knows Joomla and phpBB 3 inside out. I’ve agreed to this, but I won’t be doing this indefinitely. Ideally, I’d like to train someone up on the FRAG website, and eventually be in the position to say “it’s yours now; do with it as you please”. I’m teaching one of the team members how Joomla works, and another how phpBB 3 works – neither of them are particularly challenging if you’re willing to learn.

I’m currently negotiating with the remaining core team as to them buying out the assets that I contributed towards the event (a server and some networking stuff). I have been given the opportunity to buy back into the event when I want to; however, I doubt that I’ll take this up. Firstly, I probably won’t be in a position to do this for at least another year, maybe more. Secondly, by the time I’m in a position to do so, I probably would have decided to move on. Thirdly (and this is totally personal), I may not even be gaming for much longer, given my growing discontent with Windows and the fact that the latest editions of Ubuntu are looking very, very tempting…

In a way, I’m sorry I had to stop this, particularly as I was one of the people who got the event rolling in the first place. At least I’ll now be able to concentrate on the things that need concentrating on.

Calling the Cape Town crew…

I’ll be having a holiday with my family down in Cape Town in January – leaving Durban on the 5th, and getting back on the 23rd. Little sister is off to start her second year at UCT Medical School, so we thought that we’d have a nice long family holiday down there.

This is something that I’m really looking forward to, given my love of the place. I was there for a holiday in 1994, then spent a year there while at UCT myself in 2003. I’ll probably end up moving there one day, although that day is still years off. Firstly, I need enough work experience for a senior developer position, secondly I need to complete my part-time studies (around June next year if all goes well), thirdly I need a car and fourthly I need cash in the back – and I’m currently lacking in all four departments, although they will all come with time. (Then of course, there’s the worrying consideration of Jacob Zuma becoming South Africa’s next president that may throw a spanner in the works of my future plans – but let’s not go there.)

Anyway, I’m planning on what to do with myself while I’m down there for all of two weeks (plus two days getting there and two days getting back – we have a habit of making the road trips part of the holiday, which I consider to be a Good and Fun Thing). I’m trying to organise a movie evening at Cavendish with part of the PCF crew – Jeff (silv3rback on PCF) is helping out here. Then, just before we leave, I celebrate my 23rd birthday on January 21st, and I’m told by my sister that if you go to the Table Mountain cableway on your birthday and bring proof of your date of birth, you get a free trip, so that’s that sorted out as well. Other than that, I don’t have much planned. Yet. I obviously would like to meet up with as much people that I know down there as possible – old UCT mates, old school friends that are down there now, and former Durbanites that have taken the trek down there (jerith, that means you). If you’re interested in any reunions or meetups, you know where to get hold of me – comments, forums, e-mail, IRC, GTalk, MSN, Facebook, yadda yadda.

Home sweet home

I’ve moved the blog over to now (its previous home was Blogger). WordPress conveniently allows one to import posts from Blogger, so everything that was on the old blog is now on this one.

All new blog posts will be posted here from now on, so I suggest updating your bookmarks/RSS feeds/whatever. The old blog will remain for a few months to give everyone a chance to update everything, however nothing new will be posted there.

Cool modding site

My word, I’ve neglected this blog for a while…

Anyway. Ettienne, one of my friends, has started up his own website dedicated to computer modding. You can find it here. If you’re even remotely interested in modding, I STRONGLY suggest that you pay a visit. His own project logs alone are well worth it.

Right, I will now write “I will not neglect this blog” 100 times on the blackboard…