Welcome to the Old Internet, Again. – Richard Bettridge – Medium

Welcome to the Old Internet, Again.


This year I started collecting vintage computers. It all started when I was gifted a Macintosh LC 575 in fantastic shape. I ordered a network card from ebay and fitted it into the Mac.

Once I had network connectivity I realized I really couldn’t do a whole lot with it.

I was hoping to check out archived websites from the 90’s using the Internet Archive: Wayback Machine.

However the Wayback Machine injects modern javascript into these archived sites. This will break things on old browsers that have no concept of some of the words and syntax used in modern JS.

So, with my web development background I decided to read up on the Wayback Machine’s API and devise a way to turn their content into something that can be consumed on old systems.

Some all nighters over a weekend later I had a prototype of what would now be called The Old Net.

The Old Net
Welcome to the Old Internet Again!theoldnet.com

I would have preferred The Old Web as I feel that would more accurately describe what it is, but that domain was being sat on for a cool $2500.

Along the way my collection grew from just the Macintosh to two original iMacs (the fruity coloured kind), an IBM PS/1 486, and a not-so-vintage Pentium 4 system.

Having this fun filled collection at my disposal I was very determined to keep investing time into The Old Net. As I started to add features, and as I started to use the system, I realized that it was evolving from something that simply acted as the Wayback Machine for old browsers. It was really starting to feel like I was surfing the old web.

Additionally it was starting to become something that was just as good and fun to use on modern systems.

I built up the homepage and manually curated links of great sites. I brought memorable graphics to the forefront. Built a working guest book (please sign it). Invested into better tooling to increase the chance of a site rendering properly or at the least being debuggable. I improved the performance of the site by standing up an image and document cache.

At this point I decided it was time to release it into the wild and let people in the Vintage PC communities know about it. It was well received and much appreciated.

From there I started to record search terms so that I could show most popular and most recent sites. Hey it’s almost like I’m building a primitive search engine at this point.

It was then when it started to come together. I was discovering things that I would have never thought to type into the address bar. I was able to get a sense of what other people longing for nostalgia thought were their go-to sites.

This is where it deviated greatly from the experience on the Wayback machine. On the Wayback machine you have to know what you are looking for, and there is effort to search, get a response, find a particular snapshot, view it, repeat. What I created significantly removed the obstacles and time taken to complete that cycle.

It stopped feeling like you were loading up archived documents and started feeling like you were clicking around the internet you fondly remember.

At this point the site was in good shape, you could go to a domain, search for sites by a fuzzy query, get a list of popular sites, etc.

But much of the content from my childhood that made the old internet great wasn’t .com’s. It was homepages.

Homepages were a wonderful part of the old web. An endless variety of sites made by all sorts of people. Many people who really didn’t know how to use a computer, and in-spite of that, figured out how to use one well enough to slap some HTML down and upload to an FTP.

Home pages aren’t so easy to find in the Archives. They’re there, but all of the search tools of the past simply do not work anymore. Do you remember webrings? They’re broken. Anything /cgi-bin/? Forget about it. There’s no longer any servers to handle your request.

I realized I could write a parser that would determine if a page that a user was going to was a geocities homepage, and if so it would be tagged and displayed in a specific section of http://theoldnet.com.

Now, all of the lost geocities sites have the potential to be rediscovered and never lost again. This made me very happy and I hope people take advantage of it.

The original goal of the project was to support old browsers and it was brought to my attention by someone on Reddit that I did not support the very oldest browsers.

These browsers have no concept of the “Host” header and they break entirely thanks to the Content-Type header (text/html) being hijacked to also include the character set (text/html; charset=UTF8). I had to put in some work but I got the ;charset=UTF8 removed and I got my server to handle the missing Host header.

The project now worked in Netscape 0.9 and Mosaic 2.5

The entire project has been fun and novel. But I think it’s not as superficial as that. I think I’ve started to discover something that we’ve been deeply missing in the new internet. I talk about this briefly on my homepage http://theoldnet.com/~rich/. It is a semi-serious/semi-being-silly rant. I think there’s at least one good point buried in there.

The timing of this project has been fortunate because on March 12th it is the 30th anniversary of the web. I would love everyone to be able to use my project to relive some of those early days. Though the Wayback Machine doesn’t have archives of the very first days of the internet, it does have the mid 90’s which is when I believe most people of that era first became aquatinted with what the internet was. #Web30 #ForTheWeb #90sInternet

Why Not Use Third-party Dell SFP Transceivers for Your Dell Switches?

As a giant in IT technology, Dell’s products have been warmly welcomed by many Ethernet users over the years. From low-end Dell N1500, N3000 and N4000 series to the advanced Dell Z-Series, Dell provides a range of switch products for smaller enterprises and large campus networks. As basic and indispensable fiber optic components in fiber optic communication, SFP transceiver module plays a prominent role in optical transmission. This article will discuss what kind of third-party Dell SFP transceivers are compatible with Dell switches and which fiber optic transceiver manufacturer is the most reliable.

Dell SFP Transceivers

Dell divided their switches series as: web-managed switches, managed campus switches, modular chassis switches, data center switches, M-Series blade switches, Fibre Channel SAN switches, and high-performance computing switches. Dell puts emphasis on 1G/10G/40G switches. And thus, they manufactured a number of SFP transceiver modules, SFP+ modules, QSFP+ transceivers and DAC cables. Dell SFP transceiver delivers fiber connectivity to extend the range of your network. Dell 1000Base-SX, 1000Base-LX, 1000Base-ZX, 1000Base-Bidi, 1000Base-T are designed for SFP ports on Dell switches to support 1G Ethernet transmission.

The Dell networking 1000BASE-SX SFP transceiver module provides 1GbE connectivity up to 550 m. This hot-pluggable transceiver with SFP (Small Form Factor Pluggable) footprint features a duplex LC connector. Additionally, it provides a unique enhanced digital diagnostic monitoring interface, which allows real-time access to device operating parameters such as transceiver temperature, laser bias current, transmitted optical power, received optical power, and transceiver supply voltage.

Third-party Dell SFP Transceivers for Dell Switches

In addition to Dell original SFP transceivers, there are many third-party vendors who produce Dell compatible SFP transceivers, such as cablesandkits, C2G, FS.COM. Just take FS.COM as an example, our Dell SFP Transceivers are designed and tested to be fully compatible in all Dell switches, networking, and data center product lines and applications. We offer a wide variety of Dell SFP transceivers compatible for Dell switches, such as Dell Networking SFP-1G-LX 850nm (multimode), Dell Networking SFP-1G-LX 1310nm (singlemode), Dell PowerConnect 1000BASE-EX SFP 1550nm (singlemode), Dell Force10 Networks 1000BASE-SX SFP 850nm (multimode), and etc.

Comparison Between Dell and FS.COM Dell SFP Transceivers

There are so many third-party transceiver manufacturers providing compatible Dell SFP transceivers modules for Dell switches. But which fiber transceiver supplier should you choose? The answer is FS.COM. Now let’s see why FS.COM is more advantageous by comparing Dell with FS.COM Dell SFP.

— SFP Transceiver Module Category

The alternative Dell SFP transceivers are limited at Dell 1000Base-SX, 1000Base-LX, 1000Base-ZX, 1000Base-Bidi, 1000Base-T. You can rarely find 1G SFP transceiver modules on their official website. FS.COM provides a wide range of Dell SFP transceivers. Like being mentioned, Dell switches support some fiber transceivers from third-party fiber optic transceiver manufacturers. FS.COM offers many Dell compatible SFP transceivers, Dell networking compatible 1000BASE-T SFP copper transceiver, Dell PowerConnect compatible 1000BASE-SX SFP transceiver, Dell Force10 Networks compatible 1000BASE-ZX SFP transceivers, and etc, which can meet your various requirements for Dell switches.

— Fiber Transceiver Quality

Optical fiber transceiver attaches great importance to every brand, retails and customers. Reputation always comes first. Some manufacturers, however, produce SFP transceiver modules with low cost to attract more buyers and make profit. But their Dell SFP compatibility cannot be guaranteed. For FS.COM, we have switches from Cisco, Dell, Extreme, Juniper and other famous brands in our test center. Every fiber transceiver offered by FS.COM before shipping has to go through strict test to assure 100% compatibility and high performance.

— Fiber Transceiver Price

In addition to fiber transceiver quality, fiber transceiver price is another vital factor before you buy optical fiber transceivers. Comparing Dell SFP transceivers’ price of FS.COM with that of other fiber optic transceiver manufacturers, it is obvious that FS.COM has more advantages. That is one of the reasons why FS.COM wins popularity among customers. You can check the following table about price discrepancy between original Dell SFP transceiver and FS.COM Dell compatible SFP transceiver.


If you need Dell SFP transceivers for your Dell switch, you can buy it from both Dell and third-party vendors. How to choose a reliable supplier from so many third-party Dell compatible fiber transceiver manufacturers? Before buying fiber optical transceiver, the quality, compatibility, price, shipping, after-sales service should be considered. As one of well-known third-party fiber optic transceiver manufacturers, FS.COM is suggested to be a good choice for Dell SFP transceiver.

Roundtable: Net Neutrality

If you’ve spent any amount of time surfing the internet in the last few weeks (and I’m sure you have), odds are you’ve seen the words “net neutrality” at least a few times.

Tomorrow, Ajit Pai, the current Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), will be leading a vote that will put an end to the FCC’s current net neutrality regulations. Those regulations, passed by a 3–2 vote in 2015, impose strict net neutrality rules, including prohibitions on site and app blocking, speed throttling, and paid fast lanes.

If voting follows party lines on December 14, it’s very likely that the current net neutrality regulations will be repealed. Without these rules in place, internet providers will have an opportunity to charge their customers more while providing less.

Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democratic commissioner on the FCC who helped originally pass these regulations says that repealing net neutrality “hands broadband providers the power to decide what voices to amplify, which sites we can visit, what connections we can make, and what communities we create. It throttles access, stalls opportunity, and censors content.”

Our Thoughts

The internet is supposed to be this great equalizer — allowing knowledge and experiences to reach a broader audience. The unfortunate truth is, however, that it isn’t as ubiquitous as we think. Some places have poor to no internet coverage and many households don’t have the luxury of affording the window into the world that the web provides. If net neutrality is repealed, we’re not just cranking the dial back from 100% access, but rather from a level of access that is already geographically and socioeconomically limited. Why should the gap be widened even further? Social networks can grant social capital. Streaming services expose viewers to art and education. There shouldn’t be a (bigger) price tag on the things that grant people access to social inclusion and mobility.

— Cassy Gibson, UX Designer

Even though we spend 90% of our time looking at cats and cat memes, there is something incredibly important about the free dissemination of information. Treating all information and sources of information equally is part of an open democracy, and is the only way we can continue to flourish. This vote threatens that openness, and deeply puts citizens at odds with those who wish to strictly control the flow of information.

— Colin Miller, Project Manager

Telecoms are natural monopolies: the fixed costs of stringing up cable/fiber to every home in the country are too great for any startup to overcome. This phenomenon insulates companies like Comcast/Verizon/AT&T from any true marketplace competition. Utilities are also natural monopolies: it wouldn’t make any economic sense for the next Zuckerberg to string up a bunch of power lines trying to disrupt your local power company. Now, imagine the world if utilities were not regulated monopolies. Imagine if PG&E could team up with Chevrolet to charge you more to power a Tesla than a Chevy Volt. Or if the water company could trickle-flow your generic off-brand shower head and reserve high water flow for premium Moen shower heads because Moen can afford the kickbacks. This is the dystopian future we’re up against.

— Colin Regan, Director of Tech

I think Net Neutrality is essential for small, dynamic businesses looking to make a major push to the forefront of their industries. Many of our clients are startups or growing midmarket businesses, and without the proper channels to market their brands, the fight to attract users and gain brand recognition becomes increasingly difficult. This limits the potential for new ideas to flow and stagnates a once ripe market for innovation.

— Chase Adams, Business Analyst

Here we are again addressing a backwards policy change aimed at enriching companies who are choosing not to compete directly in tomorrow’s economy. Americans spend more money for slower internet speeds than the rest of the developed world, despite the fact that we built it in the first place. A Net Neutrality repeal will kill the tech industry and unseat America as the head of digital and technological innovation.

As a whole, our wages have remained fairly stagnant. If Net Neutrality is repealed, we will pay to pay watch Netflix, and eventually we may stop paying to watch Netflix. Eventually, we may stop paying to scroll instagram, and other companies responsible for leading technology development. Those on the low end of the income spectrum will be the first to lose out on information or ideas that may influence a rise in their economic status. Eventually, we will only be fed information which Internet Service Providers (ISPs) allow us to have. It’s no coincidence that the current chairman of the FCC was a Verizon lawyer and is a fan of this repeal. This policy only benefits ISP’s. Our future is at stake, and this is a direct attack on the knowledge economy.

— Geoff Brummett, UI Designer

For me, one of the scarier things about repealing net neutrality is limiting access to a service that is already fairly expensive, and how that would affect low income families. For some, paying $60+ a month for internet service is a limitation as is. So, when I think about what would happen when prices rise and the access to information dwindles, I worry about those who’s opportunities will shrink with it.

— Keenan Cronyn, Marketing Associate

What You Can Do To Help

Yes, the possibility of a Net Neutrality repeal is frightening, and yes, it’s not an easy fight to win. Before the vote tomorrow, you can do your part by joining the “The Battle for the Net”.

This site provides an easy method to contact Congress and also provides various resources to further your education on the topic.

PSA: To All Black Aspiring Entrepreneurs

Times are changing.

Momentum is shifting.

We are now finding our stride in the race to success through entrepreneurship. African American small business owners in the United States have grown dramatically by 400% in just one year between 2017–2018. We were always known for being present in the sports and entertainment industries but we are starting to diversify and make our mark in other fields which is important in our journey to becoming a dominant force in the United States. A growing ecosystem of investment funds, conferences and startup accelerators are fueling black business ownership and it will continue to grow at a rapid rate as more successful companies are created.

One industry that we are starting to excel in where I see tremendous potential in is the technology field. The internet has dominated the world and is now the breeding ground for high growth and high valued startups. What makes the internet ecosystem so explosive is the fact that there is a low barrier to entry. This presents a big opportunity for young black entrepreneurs to take advantage of a growing and changing ecosystem. We can see this through programs like Code2040, Google’s “Made with Code”, and Black Girls Code who are providing minorities with the resources to learn such a valuable skill such as coding/programming. I believe that all young African Americans growing up should learn how to code because it makes you instantly valuable to companies and even in your own ventures. Not only coding, but actually understanding technology at a high level and being able to predict trends will put us at the forefront of innovation.

The internet is such an interesting place that allows for anyone from any race, gender, or socioeconomic status to build their ideas and put them out for distribution and participation. It is easy to see the ecosystem and believe that there is no room for innovation since everybody is trying to build their own app or make the next best technology to solve problems. One of the biggest issues I have seen in Silicon Valley, the global center for high technology and innovation, is the lack of human centered business design and business functions. Every app or product that comes out looking for massive funding claims to solve problems that aren’t actually problems or they build a product/platform without the sense of community in mind. This is a gap that I believe we as up and coming African American entrepreneurs can contribute to the already massive tech ecosystem.

Learning how to build and execute our ideas while finding real world problems to solve will further increase our dominance in business and bring in more capital to the community. This will mint new Venture Capitalists and Angel Investors who are of Color to support those with amazing ideas that can change the world. Business and Technology are two fields that are intermingled and should be of top priority to master in order to build value in our community. We should also focus on infiltrating environments that are not diverse and dominate using the skills that we have acquired through our own communities and representing ourselves.

I believe that we are approaching the Golden Age for Blacks in America! Don’t get me wrong, I am not ignorant to the systemic issues that we are facing as a community but when I say Golden Age, I am referring to the mindset that we have come to develop over the years. More African Americans are looking for ownership rather than just being consumers. Athletes want to start businesses and own teams, rappers want to own their masters and start labels, and young African Americans have dreams of being entrepreneurs. The time has come for more of us to step up to the plate and excel in our chosen fields and entrepreneurship is here for all!

Let’s build and excel together! ✌🏿

The AMSR Craze: the New Online Phenomenon – The Startup – Medium

AMSR is a term we often see on youtube those days. In fact it is a phenomenon that has been going on for a few years, but the oldest article mentioning it dates 2015.

Today you have so many AMSR accounts with hundreds of thousands subscribers generating millions of views for single post. While not a consumer of those videos myself, I thought the psychology behind it to be very interesting.

AMSR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. While similar experiences where recorded through the ages in literary descriptions(“the soothing sounds of nature”), for the past few years it has become an internet phenomenon. It was originally born accidentally with how-to-do videos such as ironing a shirt, or Bob Ross’s The Joy of Painting series and such.

How to iron a shirt like a Japanese man

AMSR is described as tingling skin sensation that generally starts on the scalp, moving to the neck and the spine/upper spine to the extremities. People use it to relax and/or to fall asleep. It is generated through an audio stimuli. Some people experience it and some people don’t. But the goal remains the same: relaxation and anxiety remedy.

Bob Ross — The Joy of Painting

There are many ways AMSR can be triggered with a lot of different sounds. That is why there are so many AMSR videos out there, and so many YouTube accounts with AMSR in the name. It can be the soothing and satisfying sound of ice breaking, or crackling fire. But more and more online account are now offering different things. Most have in common looking straight at the camera, and talking or whispering to the viewer, in a very smooth and relaxing voice or no talking, just a shot cutting the head of the host, where the viewer only see what the host is doing with her hands.

All the sounds you hear are recorded in a closed miked and binaural fashion. Which means the microphone is set very very close to the subject allowing enhanced details. So someone talking/whispering that close, sounds like someone is standing right next to your ear. The binaural mics are set in a way not only to reproduce a 3D space, but also the distance separating the two human ears. Somehow it can feel like a very intimate experience.

The AMSRist, as they are called, can also play with the mic, touching, tapping it with the fingers or with an accessory for enhanced triggers. Some AMSRist are also using key words or expressions to induce relaxation, whispering for instance relax or you did your best. Some do more of a role-play type, impersonating a situation, such as being at the hair-dresser.

Gentle Whispering ASMR, one of the popular AMSR accounts with 1.6 million subscribers

Taking a step back, all those triggers give one thing: extra, personalised attention. In a world where the youngest generations spend more and more time on their connected device, at a time where we are supposed to be more connected than ever, the opposite is also true. Social depravation non only shortens lifespan, but also takes away our social skills. People do not know how to interact in society anymore. Research shows people are more lonely than ever before. In 2018, the UK even appointed a minister of loneliness. Our social behavior changing our on social set of skills in turn change how we consume online, and therefore is very hard to predict where we are heading. For those interested, I did compile a series of newly released books here on that topic, which are very interesting reads.

Photo by Tom The Photographer on Unsplash

By being loners, the younger generations still crave for that basic human attention. Enters AMSR. In a way, it is very much a sound therapy. Technology and modern online habits might format societal culture and behaviours, but cannot change basic physical attention and needs. People take it where they can find it. AMSR does just that — virtually.

Regional Differences in Recovery from Venezuela’s Electricity Outage

Venezuela’s national electricity grid is on the way to recover from the outages in the previous days, but there are large regional differences in recovery speed.

In the afternoon and early evening of March 7th, Venezuela’s national electricity grid experienced a nationwide outage.

The IP Observatory has been monitoring Venezuela’s Internet since early February and has provided real-time insights of the power outages that hit the nation.

Figure 1 shows the development of the Venezuela’s Internet connectivity over the recent days. The the outages reached a low on early March 8th, with a nationwide connectivity rate of only 5.6%. After a short period of recovery, a second outage hit the country, dropping the connectivity rate again to 6.6% on March 9th.

Since then, the country’s Internet has been on a slow, but steady path of recovery, reaching 72.5% internet connectivity on March 12th.

Figure 1. Venezuela’s Nationwide Internet Connectivity.

Regional Disparities in Venezuela’s Internet Recovery

The IP-Observatory’s monitoring technology, allows us to extract information about the local recovery patterns of 15 Venezuelan municipios. Taking a deeper dive into the data, reveals large regional differences in the speed of recovery of Venezuela’s Internet.

Figure 2 shows the Internet connectivity for 15 municipios, ordered from lowest to highest recovery level, the long-run average serving as index of 100. Range: 46.9 to 87.7%

Figure 2. Internet Connectivity at the Municipio Level

Three municipios, Urdaneta, Girardot, and Libertador, seem to be lacking behind the rest of the nation (see Figure 3). In particular, Urdaneta (Miranda) shows low and falling connectivity: our last reading 26.3% (title %s are mean over last four hours).

Figure 3. Internet recovery in the three municipios with he slowest recovery rate

Check out the data dash board on the IP Observatory’s Venezuela page for real-time updates and publicly available data.

The Time-saving Gift of the Analog

Sunday. Rushing out the door to the grocery store with my six year old, a trip to be avoided at all costs, but it wasn’t an option since we had people coming for dinner in a few hours and needed to get the goods for the pumpkin pie now or never.

We also, it occurred to me as I stood there with keys in hand and imploring my son to “focus. Socks and shoes. Please focus,” needed to serve some food that wasn’t plain noodles with olive oil and salt. I had promised “pasta,” but it had fully escaped me until then that their palates might well be more sophisticated than an energetic, particular, six year old’s.

As the socks were rounding the toes and heading toward the arches and heels, I panicked over what sort of pasta dish I could serve. I had no go-to’s, and the unending expanse of the Internet’s recipe offerings seemed daunting in the seconds available to assemble an appropriate shopping list. An Internet search would yield such a rich trove of options, but it would take minutes upon minutes to determine the right dish.

And then I remembered that I owned a few cookbooks.

Fearing a delay on my part could lead to distraction on my son’s part and push back our departure significantly, I hastily paged through the few cookbooks I had that weren’t intended for little mouths. Happily, The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook sat on my shelf from my time in the Berkshires. I was delighted to discover it featured a pasta dish with many items I already had on hand. I wrote down the ones we’d need to shop for — bacon, onion and rosemary, as well as Brussel sprouts in lieu of cabbage— and off we went.

Photo by Keenan Loo on Unsplash

It was a bit of an object lesson of the power of the analog. For all of the time-saving touts of the digital age, it is often hardly that. We are presented with too much information, entertainment, and products, and thus we must sort through them all. It is a cognitive dissonance that while this plethora of options creates a degree of “more freedom and autonomy, we don’t seem to be benefiting from it psychologically,” as Barry Schwartz wrote in The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less. What’s more, there must be a finitism to it all. Disruptive products and services are more often interruptive; giving us too much of one thing has to take away from somewhere else. And in the case of information, that often means time.

There is a conspicuous lot of information on the Web. There are 2.75 million pasta recipes online, according to Google. Two million blog posts are published in a single day. Amazon alone offers at least 200 million products for sale at any given time and there are at least 35,000 movies to choose from on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and HBO. That is way too much.

This isn’t just a value judgment; excessive choice taxes the brain. When we are presented with something on which to make a decision, the prefrontal cortex revs up the area that deals with higher-level reasoning. But we don’t look at a set of things and make a single decision from among them; our brains take in each item and determine where it falls on a scale of risk versus reward, then we go on to the next and do the same again. Do that 10–20 times, the number of links on a typical Google search results screen, and your brain is whirring at a clipped pace. Do that 40 times to choose from the “Trending” shows and movies presented on Netflix’s main screen, and you have one hard-working prefrontal cortex. Layer in your current emotional state, and things get a bit more complex; if you’re depressed, none of the choices activate the “reward” notion, and on and on you go in search of that good feeling.

“Time spent” is my ideal code for making a selection. The restaurants that offer a small menu are my preference; give me fewer decisions to make so that I can pick my head up and enjoy the moment. I once spent what seemed to me to be an inordinate amount of time waiting for a friend to read through every item on the menu at Maryann’s in Chelsea in the late Nineties. I suddenly blurted out, “It’s not your last meal!” (To which a friend later noted, “How could you have been so sure?”)

The Internet sometimes gives us fewer choices, its algorithms sorting through our history of decisions to present us with the information, entertainment and items for purchase it thinks we might like. But not often. Or, not without also giving us a glance at the other (typically closely related) options, off to the side or lower down on the page. And off we go down that rabbit hole, not to be seen again for a period of time.

Give me a book shelf, a clothing rack, a movie theater with only so many screens. In our era of endless choice, we can find ourselves disappointed if these spaces fail to turn up just the right book, top or film. But what a high bar we set! And technology sets it for us. Let’s try turning away from our phones and getting some perspective.

Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

The dinner turned out great. Our friends Mary and Ty arrived at the appointed hour, just as the pumpkin pie was cooling and all ingredients for the main dish were prepped and ready to be whipped up and served. They brought a stunning flower arrangement that reminded us all of Christmas. My son put on holiday music beginning with the Chipmunks’ versions, giving in eventually to requests for some more standard voices. The dish was delicious and plenty. The evening was capped by a unique, inspired dance performance by my son to Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” and “Beat It.”

I now have the first item on my list of main-course go-to’s and a discerning appreciation for the power of recipe books. I am prepared and ready for anything. Anyone free to come Sunday for dinner?

Should we be worried about net neutrality?

If you’re an American with access to the internet, you’ve probably seen the term “net neutrality” thrown around repeatedly in the news.

So you’re probably wondering what it is and why it’s being brought up again and again.

If you want the Wikipedia definition net neutrality is “the principle that internet service providers must treat all data on the internet the same, and not discriminate or charge differently by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or method of communication.”

In a nutshell, net neutrality means that the internet service providers (ISP) have to treat all online content equally. Net neutrality makes it illegal for companies like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon to block or slow down specific content, or create something like a paid fast lanes where websites have to pay extra to even reach customers. The purpose of rules is to prevent big companies to make sites extremely slow to force people buy more expensive plans or to prevent a cable company to block a website because it competes with their own. Net neutrality helps keep the internet at an equal playing field between the people and the large corporations. If net neutrality is taken away from the people, say goodbye to the internet as we know it. The internet could look more like a cable subscription service with complex and expensive bundles of pre-packed web access. There are only a few large corporations that control the internet, so people won’t have many options to choose from. So on top of paying your monthly internet bill, you’ll have a separate bill with lots of packages grouping similar sites in one. Companies will be able to do this, because people won’t have much of a choice. Either sign up and pay or never use the internet again. Without net neutrality, companies can charge websites a fast lane fee, which will make it extremely difficult for new start-ups to compete with established companies that have the revenue to spend to get ahead.

The loss of net neutrality isn’t just going to affect the people who view the internet but anything that uses data. The loss of net neutrality will also mean a cap on the amount of data you can use a month. This will affect anyone who plays a video game. Some games use data just to download, butwith a cap on how much you can use, you may use a chunk of your allowance in just one download, not even playing the game which would require more data usage. On a more academic scale, imagine how hard it will be to write a paper or do research if you haven’t paid for every single site. Think about low income children will have less access to information in an educational setting, with the Trump administration threatening to cut billions from education and public libraries, institutions will not be able to pay for top tier website bundles.

Why it’s in the news again is because on December 14, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will vote on whether it wants to roll back Obama-era rules governing net neutrality regulations that were won by information activists in 2015. Thanks to the recent presidential election, republicans now run the FCC, and they want to do things their way.

After being elected, President Trump elected Ajit Pai as the FCC chairman. Ajit Pai was a top lawyer for the cable, phone and internet company Verizon. It’s been speculated that Pai could be taking large kick backs in order to vote against net neutrality.

Ajit Pai

Even with majority of the American people against the lifting against net neutrality, the FCC isn’t under any obligation to follow what the people want, or even what the president wants. 300 millions Americans can be affected by a decision made by just five people.

Obama has spoken out about net neutrality, and recently made a video to explain and educate the general public. “We cannot allow internet service providers (ISPs) to restrict the best access or to pick winners and losers in the online marketplace for services and ideas,” Obama said in an accompanying statement. “That is why today, I am asking the Federal Communications Commission to answer the call of almost 4 million public comments, and implement the strongest possible rules to protect net neutrality.”

So what countries are without net neutrality?

Portugal is a perfect example of how website bundles work under laws without net neutrality. With no net neutrality, internet providers are starting to split the net into packages, like how the United States would expect if the FCC votes against net neutrality.

In Guatemala mobile plans are take the most advantage of the users. Cell phone users will try and beat they system by buying multiple SM cards for their phones, and switching them out when they want to use different sites and to use more data per month. “Many people will have two SIM cards there because on one SIM card they can access WhatsApp for free, and on another SIM card you access Facebook for free,” said Renata Avila, a senior adviser at the Web Foundation.

Alright, so we see how other countries deal, but what does that mean for the us?

The short answer is, no one really knows.

Don’t hang your head in defeat just yet, there is good news. Current net neutrality rules have an overwhelming bipartisan support. Across the country, no matter on political party, Americans strongly support the idea that ISP should treat all content equally. If the FCC were to vote against net neutrality, this will probably trigger a long legal battle that will go up to the Supreme Court.

Insights & Infographic from +7,300 #CSWeek2017 Tweets, People-Paid Media, Facebook Algorithm Hacks, Ideo Meritocratic Thinking & Happy Mashujaa Day

The Letter N is a special weekly bulletin published by Mark Kaigwa and the team at Nendo. Get it before anyone else including exclusive invites, discounts and insights. You’ll join +1500 leaders who get an ‘uncommon sense’ view on African technology, media and the internet. Sign up here.

Greetings in Tigrinya, of the Tigray people of Northern Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Customer Service Week 2017, a global celebration of customers initiated in Kenya by the Institute for Customer Experience (ICX Kenya), ran from the 2nd to the 6th of October. Given our involvement in online customer experience training, we were interested in how companies and customers viewed the week.

Nendo acquired and analysed 7,369 tweets generated over the week. We took note of how brands and employees went out of their way to delight and appreciate their customers online. #CSWeek2017 stayed among the top 10 trending topics on Twitter, despite Kenya’s prevailing political climate.

In our new infographic, we share our observations, including:

  1. Analysis of earned and owned media

Those that were ranked top in our study were Liquid Telecom, KCB Group, Huduma Kenya and Kenya Airways. While the hugely popular #TweetLikeKCB challenge put KCB at the top of the chart for brands with the most customer responses to their activities during the week.

We also monitored the conversations and it’s safe to say that customers were not fooled. They consistently spotted brand inconsistencies, unreasonable service delivery and unscalable tactics, making sure brands were called out for them.

Speaking of Twitter, I’m intrigued by how big Twitter Moments is, relative to large publishers. It has 92M monthly active users. If you look at it side-by-side with other publishers, this means it probably has a captive audience that’s larger than CNN, the New York Times, or even the Washington Post. Yet surprisingly few people know it by name.

There are some great points about why Moments disappoints and how Twitter can improve it. I hope they pick up, the way they have with pronouncements this week to combat hate speech. The same way Kenya eventually got local trending topics and they ‘turned on’ other African countries, my hope is that they will eventually ‘turn on’ Moments for this part of the world.

Other than that, here’s some more knowledge for you in our usual tasting menu of links:

What to Sip (< 30 sec Read)

Readers are individuals, not the atomic components of a marketing strategy.

This article on a successful membership-driven business model for news is one of the more inspiring things I’ve read. The 12 principles for in-depth, ad-free journalism sound like a utopia, but De Correspondent is proving, so far, that heaven is a place on earth.

What’s so profound to me is that if a news media outlet is member-funded, their entire worldview can afford to be radically different. It is a very provocative article that challenged the way I see news, media and our attention-deficit landscape. If interests align a new way and we vote not just with our eyes and time, but with our wallets — the amazing thinking and possibilities enchant me.

As an interesting note, each of their 30+ journalists has a personal newsletter to draw in readers and they make (approx) $6 million per year, which I’m in awe of.

What to Nibble (<5 min Read)

When your cluelessness about African geography becomes a viral marketing campaign is an analysis of a brilliant campaign by ONE.org. You might have come across it in the last few weeks. It was created to shed light on the plight of women in countries where education is not considered important for girls. South Sudan, Central African Republic, Niger, Chad, Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Liberia, Ethiopia, and Afghanistan are listed as the ten hardest places for women to get an education.

Six days into the campaign, more than 1.5 million people have completed the quiz, and 340,000 people have signed the petition following it. According to ONE.org, women in these countries spend only two years of their lives in school on average.

For-purpose campaigns like this, delivered with a simple, yet captivating call-to-action on a digital asset like their landing page caught my eye. Transformative digital thinking we can learn from in an age where we could end up rather cynical about technology and social media.

What to Bite (<20 min Read)

If you’re still depending on Facebook fans for organic traffic to your content, you know that your reach is declining at an alarming rate. You’ll have likely watched my video on how to use Facebook to convert new customers and reactivate existing ones. Organic reach, however, could be a problem if you’re on a tight budget. It can be even worse if you’ve put in a lot of effort to build up a sizeable following on Facebook.

Neil Patel’s look at Facebook Algorithm hacks to bring your reach back from the dead is a good place to restore your faith. His tactics, including posting more video, taking advantage of the platform’s ‘Invite to Like’ button and focusing on quality over quantity are great tips. (I even mentioned this in greater detail in my YouTube video on why the content calendar is “dead”.)

I’ve had another podcast-filled week with some intriguing thoughts still lingering that I’m going to go on and share. This week it was listening to Shane Parrish interview Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge-fund. His ideas for an ideo-meritocracy and ‘tough love’ in the workplace and on teams are brilliant. He has a TED talkif you prefer to catch the shorter version. Listen to Ray & Shane or view the blog post with the background and details

And lastly, one of the more profound listens of this year for me is this interview with Esther Perel on the state of relationships, twisted and transformed by our connected age. Do you know what simmering, icing and ghosting are? If you haven’t come across these terms (or experienced them), here’s a quick definition:

➡️ Simmering is when you’re the other person’s plan B.
Icing is when someone behaves very cool towards you. Responses come sporadically and will be more generic than specific.
Ghosting is the worst of them all. They stop responding to calls, texts, or online messages.

The lies we tell ourselves and others such as “I didn’t see your text” had me taking pause, in the middle of my drive and traffic. I hope it provokes thought this long weekend, too. I’m particularly notorious with WhatsApp and it made me rethink that.

Happy Mashujaa Day and enjoy the long weekend for those in Kenya. It’s been a short week here in Nairobi, but I still recommend unplugging those devices.

You can always write me or hit reply for us to speak about whatever’s on your mind, whether inspired by this newsletter or something else.

Enjoyed reading The Letter N? Did anything stand out to you? I’d love to hear from you and I’d appreciate if you gave us a clap below and shared with someone you know would be better for it. We’re on hand to answer comments or hear your perspective on the topics above.

Present at the 2018 Fiber Connect

Can you believe that the 2018 Fiber Connect is already around the corner?

Thousands of fiber broadband professionals and industry leaders will meet in Nashville this June 4–8, 2018 for the 2018 Fiber Connect, the unmissable annual conference from the Fiber Broadband Association.

As we prepare to amplify insight and expertise from across the industry, we want to make sure that your companies get the chance to join the conversation and be heard.

Through 11:59 PM Central October 23, 2017, we are accepting proposals to present on the following topics:

  • Business
  • Engineering
  • Operations
  • Fiber Broadband Starter Kit (including Community Toolkit content)

We have listed out several subtopics for each of those presentation topics on our website. Take a look and find the best fit for you and your company.

Fiber Connect sessions come in a variety of formats to best fit each presenter’s material and to provide an interesting, engaging, and stimulating experience for everyone. Your presentation can be any one of the following formats:

  • Breakout Session (60 minutes) — Focused presentation with a maximum of one or two presenters.
  • Quick Tips (30 minutes) — Energetic, quick-hit learning focused on a key theme, concept, process, or case study.
  • Expo Theater Presentation (30 minutes) — Lively, interactive presentations on the Expo Hall floor.

Be sure to submit your proposal by October 23, 2017 by 11:59 PM Central. If your proposal is accepted, you will be notified by November 30, 2017. You are welcome to email our conference staff at speakers@fiberbroadband.org if you have any questions.

We can’t wait to read your proposals and to see you at the 2018 Fiber Connect! With your top-notch presentations, the 2018 Fiber Connect in Nashville might just be the best Fiber Connect yet.