Your ISP: "Sunlight is the best disinfectant"
January 29, 2009 7:10 AM   Subscribe

Wanna test if your ISP (or company or university) is blocking or throttling BitTorrent traffic? Want some tools to diagnose network problems in your "last mile" connection? Google to the rescue: M-Lab! Predictably, with the recent announcement and publicity, the servers are now getting hammered. So post this? You can help: Host a Glasnost server (tests for BitTorrent). *Results so far. Coming soon are apps to "Determine whether an ISP is giving some traffic a lower priority than other traffic" and "Determine whether an ISP is degrading the performance of a certain subset of users, applications, or destinations". Power to the People, bay-bee!
posted by spock (58 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
Quote: "With companies such as Comcast (which prompted an FCC investigation) and Cox Communications prioritizing network traffic, this is good news for consumers and consumer advocacy groups. M-Labs could be a valuable research to help detect bandwidth throttling and let people confirm that they are truly getting what they are paying for."
posted by spock at 7:11 AM on January 29, 2009


The program is also aimed at researchers.
posted by spock at 7:16 AM on January 29, 2009


Man, is that site ever getting hammered.
posted by tybeet at 7:19 AM on January 29, 2009


Network Mirror
posted by jckll at 7:21 AM on January 29, 2009


Doesn't switching your Torrent software to encrypted mode mitigate most of the throttling?

If your ISP is throttling encrypted traffic arbitrarily, I'd consider that a huge misrepresentation of the service they are selling.
posted by Dark Messiah at 7:23 AM on January 29, 2009


I work for a rural ISP. Although we do have a policy which technically requires a customer to tell us if they plan on running a server (torrent clients are also servers), we don't block any traffic. Doing RIAA/DMCA takedown notices is no fun, but we're required by law to notify a customer if the copyright owner informs us of a possible violation.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:27 AM on January 29, 2009


Doesn't switching your Torrent software to encrypted mode mitigate most of the throttling? If your ISP is throttling encrypted traffic arbitrarily, I'd consider that a huge misrepresentation of the service they are selling.

I'm not an expert, but considering the different ways in which throttling can occur: it's kind of a yes and a no. For example, deep-packet inspection techniques used by Bell would be thrown off by encryption, however Cox uses a different method which prioritizes particular protocols/services over others (i.e. HTTP, VOIP) calling it "time-sensitive throttling", and the latter I would think would be impervious to evading by merely encrypting said protocol.
posted by tybeet at 7:30 AM on January 29, 2009


Dark Messiah, i'm pretty sure there are heuristics for guessing if encrypted traffic is bit torrent traffic or not. (Encryption isn't a fix for people being throttled by Bell here in Toronto, for example.) I use ml/ppp to get around throttling.
posted by chunking express at 7:31 AM on January 29, 2009


I am currently using an ISP in germany ( that would be Versatel ) that is doing the most blatant bit torrent blocking I have seen to date: the moment I start dowloading a torrent - any torrent - my connection speed drops to something lower than what I remember from my 14.4k dialup days. half of all web connections instantly time out. they outright block limewire and acquisition and apparently tor as well.

I have no idea how to fix this, so fire away with ideas.
posted by krautland at 7:37 AM on January 29, 2009


If your ISP is throttling encrypted traffic arbitrarily, I'd consider that a huge misrepresentation of the service they are selling.

They don't seem to give a crap, though. Was it Verizon who was recently found to be throttling other VOIP providers, but not their own (via FIOS)?
posted by inigo2 at 7:38 AM on January 29, 2009


That makes sense, encryption seemed to fix my issues since I am on Rogers. Thanks for the clarifications.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who finds it insulting that they assume Torrents = evil activity. Especially as torrents become more and more commonplace as a means of distributing downloadable content.
posted by Dark Messiah at 7:38 AM on January 29, 2009


Yes, Dark Messiah. It is like assuming that a CD or DVD Burner can only be used for illegal activities. As always, the problem is not with the tool, it is with the use of that tool.
posted by spock at 7:56 AM on January 29, 2009


I have no idea how to fix this, so fire away with ideas

Switch to a different provider.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:56 AM on January 29, 2009


Some say that BitTorrent could be an ISP’s best friend.
posted by spock at 7:58 AM on January 29, 2009


I have no idea how to fix this, so fire away with ideas.

I had a post recently on some methods, which may prove successful even in Germany. If your provider supports MLPPP then definitely getting a Tomato firmware router would be your best bet, though.
posted by tybeet at 8:00 AM on January 29, 2009


Switch to a different provider.

Only have one high speed option where I live.
posted by inigo2 at 8:02 AM on January 29, 2009


Wait, Google is getting HAMMERED? Can't they just create a thousands more servers out of thin air with the snap of a finger?
posted by darkripper at 8:05 AM on January 29, 2009


As a reminder, some people think google's position on net neutrality is not all sunshine and butterflies. Essentially, net neutrality is google's defence against ISPs who would like a cut of their advertising revenue, and could extract it by, for example, charging premium rates for youtube traffic.

Turning this into a common cause is either capitalism at its best, where wider interests are served by one company's desire for profit, or google manipulating the gullible public to safeguard their bottom line, depending on your point of view.
posted by ghost of a past number at 8:07 AM on January 29, 2009


The two are not mutually exclusive.
posted by spock at 8:08 AM on January 29, 2009


The two are not mutually exclusive.

Shouldn't they be? Isn't "neutrality" supposedly an end in itself (rather than a means justifying other ends)? I understand where you're going... but the real question, of course, is what the greater motive is: the neutrality, or the buck.
posted by tybeet at 8:16 AM on January 29, 2009


In related news, Eircom customers in Ireland can be banned under a new three strikes rule agreed with the major record labels.
posted by minifigs at 8:23 AM on January 29, 2009


Yes, Dark Messiah. It is like assuming that a CD or DVD Burner can only be used for illegal activities. As always, the problem is not with the tool, it is with the use of that tool.

Thanks for reminding me about the tax on recordable media I have to pay.... Considering the only thing I burn these days is music made by myself and my brother... Yeah, I wish more people (in power) understood these concepts.
posted by Dark Messiah at 8:29 AM on January 29, 2009


I wish more people (in power) understood these concepts.

Ah to be young and naive again.
posted by DU at 8:47 AM on January 29, 2009


As a reminder, some people think google's position on net neutrality is not all sunshine and butterflies.
These people present one-sided arguments that are clearly motivated by their anti-Google agenda rather than a genuine interest in the issue, or interest in the good of the public.

The argument "Google benefits from this, so it is therefore only good for Google, stop being so gullible" should not even be repeated unless you want to insult the intelligence of your readers.
posted by Llama-Lime at 8:47 AM on January 29, 2009


I don't know if my provider supports MLPPP and given that I am not on the account they'll probably won't talk to me at the service hotline. anyone know how I can test this out before flashing my belkin?

I quite like the idea of just using a different torrent program than azureus that handles all the behind-the-scenes stuff like utorrent apparently does but am unaware of a osx product.
posted by krautland at 8:52 AM on January 29, 2009


Google benefits from Net Neutrality, but so does everyone else who doesn't have a government granted monopoly (or duopoly) local wiring. So what?
posted by delmoi at 8:53 AM on January 29, 2009


Ah to be young and naive again.

I said 'wish'. I'm well aware that if wishes were fishes my plate would be full. That said, defeatism accomplishes nothing.
posted by Dark Messiah at 9:12 AM on January 29, 2009


Azureus easily handles all this stuff. (Start at their level 4 and only go to 5 if you really need it.)

I said 'wish'. I'm well aware that if wishes were fishes my plate would be full. That said, defeatism accomplishes nothing.


Nah, you're still naive. The people in power understand these and many other concepts very well. They just don't have the same goals and motivations as you. The RIAA, MPAA, etc. are the ones who pay the bills and hand out the perqs while all they need out of you is a vote for Obama or Palin in 2012.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:55 AM on January 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


Not being defeatist. I'm just noting that the problem isn't ignorance, the problem is corporate control of the legislative process. You can definitely meet your objective but you need the right means. Education of legislators won't get you anywhere. You need to break the lobbyist stranglehold.
posted by DU at 9:57 AM on January 29, 2009


The argument "Google benefits from this, so it is therefore only good for Google, stop being so gullible" should not even be repeated unless you want to insult the intelligence of your readers.

I'm sorry if anyone's intelligence was insulted --- if this was my intention, I would have put some more effort into it.
posted by ghost of a past number at 10:06 AM on January 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oops, I didn't quite intend that. I didn't have my morning coffee, was unnecessarily dickish, I offer my apologies.
posted by Llama-Lime at 10:34 AM on January 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


Nah, you're still naive.

Sure, whatever you say. Clearly I am naive for thinking that politicians aren't on the bleeding edge of technology. Believe what you wish... They don't understand it (for the most part) because they don't have to. Why else would we have idiots putting for laughable notions like "we must be able to identify everyone on the Internet". Yeah, good luck with that.

BTW - had you read my posts, you'd understand I won't be voting for anyone in 2012... Seeing as how I'm, you know, Canadian.
posted by Dark Messiah at 10:46 AM on January 29, 2009


Generic you, meaning "the average person."
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 10:51 AM on January 29, 2009


Have you ever considered that they don't understand the technology (*cough* it's a series of tubes! *cough*) AND will bow to lobbyists as well, because their people can summon up the powers of techno-babble to support their cause?

Not all politicians are evil you know, a lot of them are ignorant or simply misinformed.
posted by Dark Messiah at 10:56 AM on January 29, 2009


misinformed

Right. By lobbyists.
posted by DU at 11:05 AM on January 29, 2009


"Ah to be young and naive again."

I thought the generational cock-measuring thread was the one with the Bush photos.
posted by caution live frogs at 11:13 AM on January 29, 2009


ghost of a past number: As a reminder, some people think google's position on net neutrality is not all sunshine and butterflies.

And some people think The Register is not serious journalism. Ted Dziuba, specifically, is a ranty troll: here's his post on Google Chrome, for instance.
posted by Pronoiac at 11:13 AM on January 29, 2009


Ranty Troll would make an excellent MeFi username.
posted by spock at 11:34 AM on January 29, 2009


Ted Dziuba is fucking hilarious.
posted by chunking express at 11:38 AM on January 29, 2009


Don't forget his Ted Dziuba's blog: uncov.

A nice, tall, refreshing glass of haterade.
posted by amuseDetachment at 12:20 PM on January 29, 2009


M-Lab = bookmarked. Thanks for this.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:22 PM on January 29, 2009


I'll bite, and concede that The Register is not above some trolling to generate pageviews --- Dziuba's last column for example was particularly weak. You probably have solid arguments against the content of the article though, which I would like to read if you care to explain them. In fact, I can't see your problem with the Chrome post, other that you may not like the style, but I don't think we need the derail.
posted by ghost of a past number at 12:25 PM on January 29, 2009


Also, isn't Azureus bloaty as hell?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:30 PM on January 29, 2009


Also, isn't Azureus bloaty as hell?

It`s programmed in java, which is terribly inefficient in terms of resources, as compared to C or C++ - on newer systems the performance drop is probably negligible if important at all. However, Azureus has a +1 for aesthetic and user-friendliness. Just don`t get the horrible excuse for an upgrade called Vuze.
posted by tybeet at 1:04 PM on January 29, 2009


That's what I thought, tybeet.

Yeah, I'll stick to Transmission.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:06 PM on January 29, 2009


Transmission is nice, but on my Leopard box it leaks memory till eventually the whole system crashes and dies. At least the later version do. I usually run an older build, and try out new ones to see if they have stopped with the slow death.

Still, Transmission is wicked nice.
posted by chunking express at 1:16 PM on January 29, 2009


I'm using version 1.33, if that helps. Haven't had a problem. The hottest it's run is like eight megs, and that's after having set maximum peers to 3000 per torrent.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:24 PM on January 29, 2009


Weird. I haven't had any memory leaks running the latest versions of Transmission at the default settings. µTorrent for Mac is in beta right now, you could always give it a try.
posted by Thoughtcrime at 1:40 PM on January 29, 2009


What's wrong with Vuze?
posted by dejah420 at 2:39 PM on January 29, 2009


ghost of a past number - He's aiming at writing entertainment, not news or education. I just wouldn't take his word seriously on anything at all, & citing him as an authority on anything just strikes me as asking for pain.

About his Chrome article: Ever heard about Google OS?
posted by Pronoiac at 2:51 PM on January 29, 2009


It's an obscure bug by the looks of things. My computer hasn't crapped out with the latest build, so that's promising.
posted by chunking express at 3:25 PM on January 29, 2009


If you think your ISP is choking you to death, and you happen to live near St. Louis, Missouri, you're in luck.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:24 PM on January 29, 2009


I just wouldn't take his word seriously on anything at all, & citing him as an authority on anything just strikes me as asking for pain.

OK then, let's forget about this Dziuba guy. Tell me why this is wrong:

The net neutrality dispute is, among other things, a dispute between companies that provide content, like google, and companies that provide the pipes, i.e. ISPs. ISPs would like distribution to be more expensive, and would like to be able to go after the people with money. Content providers do not like that for obvious reasons. Companies like Google are smart enough to support the pro-neutrality side, as people will support free speech but don't care to take sides in a corporate dispute about who pays for what.

About his Chrome article: Ever heard about Google OS?

I'm not sure what you are referring to --- Google's internal linux flavor or the rumor that Google is going to enter the OS market with a SaaS model running on top of the web browser. I think they have said they will not be distributing the former, and I'd be surprised if they could pull of the latter.
posted by ghost of a past number at 10:46 PM on January 29, 2009


Net neutrality is a thorny issue. I think you're ascribing motivations that aren't quite accurate. I can't really go into this right now.

About Google OS - I meant the latter. It's been rumored for ages, & a browser would be an important piece. Read the Chrome article with that in mind, & it's like he's aggressively, combatively ignorant of any larger picture.
posted by Pronoiac at 2:37 PM on January 30, 2009


I'll agree that there are better things to do on a Sunday than discuss net neutrality, so let's just leave it here.

A final note on the Google OS thing: I'm sure they employ people way smarter than me, but writing a faster browser is almost trivial compared to the other parts of the puzzle for something like this to happen. The user doesn't even see most of the stuff the OS does, and they can't be done in a browser anyway. Thin clients are a part of the technology circle of reincarnation, and have been the next big thing quite a few times in the past. Theorizing about a Google OS from Chrome in this light doesn't make much sense, unless you are in the hype business, which is what the article is saying, in an admittedly mocking tone.
posted by ghost of a past number at 4:28 PM on January 30, 2009


The superiority of my position can be easily seen from the fact that it has been posted from the future.
posted by ghost of a past number at 11:07 PM on January 30, 2009




It`s programmed in java, which is terribly inefficient in terms of resources, as compared to C or C++ - on newer systems the performance drop is probably negligible if important at all. However, Azureus has a +1 for aesthetic and user-friendliness. Just don`t get the horrible excuse for an upgrade called Vuze.


You do know that Vuze has an option to run the old UI, yes?
posted by juv3nal at 3:38 AM on February 1, 2009


Hmm, not like anyone will see this at this much-later date, but if you're just a touch smarter than the average bear (and I'm not, but somehow I got this to run) you can use muTorrent's alpha build of their UDP P2P client, available here. There is no current method for ISP's to throttle UDP, but give the bastards time...
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 8:55 PM on February 10, 2009


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