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Comcast Caps Atlanta [UPDATED]

Comcast Cares. Yeah, Right...

I live in the Atlanta metro area, and I’ve learned that this market is part of a Comcast trial. A trial in which all high speed Internet customers get a 300GB limit per calendar month.

Is 10GB per day generous?

A limit of 300GB per month is barely reasonable and far from generous. If my kids watch a few shows on Netflix, and I caption some videos for my work, then 10GB per day is confining. Suddenly, my peace of mind about using the Internet (which is already a significant portion of my monthly bills) is gone. I find myself wondering if I’m going to hit my limit on a daily basis. Talk about having a dark cloud over you while you try to enjoy a streaming movie from Netflix, Amazon, or iTunes.

Monitor. Monitor. Monitor.

So how do you monitor your Internet consumption? Comcast gives you three options. First, dig deep into the Customer portal on the Comcast Web site. It’s there. About three levels down. Second, you can sign up your cell phone to receive warnings via SMS. You can set warnings to fire off at certain usage intervals such as 80%, 90%, and 100%. Finding the Web page to sign up isn’t particularly easy, either. Third, you can download and install a meter app for your desktop computer. It uses Adobe Air. I don’t know about you, but I don’t trust Adobe Flash with all its security issues, so why would I want Air on my PC, too?

Get to Your Usage Cap Quickly!

My Comcast high speed Internet service is reasonably dependable and very fast. But rather than feeling like I can brag about it, I worry that it just means my family and I can hit that 300GB limit just that much faster.

Does Comcast really care? Or do they care more about keeping rates steady while increasing revenue through penalties?

UPDATED 19 Dec 2014

I encourage you to visit my toolkit for engaging elected officials so that they will consider reviewing Comcast’s and AT&T’s rules and fees on broadband Internet.

Work Around OneDrive’s 2 GB File Limit [UPDATED x 3]

OneDrive's 2 GB File Limit

Update #3: THIS TOPIC IS NOW MOOT. Microsoft has lifted the 2 GB file limit.

OneDrive is a terrific service, and it only got better when Office 365 began offering 1 TB of OneDrive storage to each of its subscribers. But if you work with very large files, then you’re going to get a nasty surprise: OneDrive has a 2 GB file limit.

I have a workaround that has limited appeal, but might work for you. It allows you to store those large files in OneDrive, but sharing them with others might not be all that convenient.

My workaround? 7-Zip.

It is a free file archive utility with a solid reputation, and it offers the ability to break (or split) large files into several smaller ones. When you double-click the first of a multiple-part archive, 7-Zip will reassemble everything for you.

For me, I want to store some CD disc images (ISO files) of some older Microsoft software. A few are well over 2 gigabytes. So 7-Zip to the rescue!

  1. Install 7-Zip.
  2. Open 7-Zip File Manager.
  3. Navigate to the folder in which the large file resides.
  4. Click once to highlight that large file.Select File and Add to Archive in 7-Zip
  5. Click the Add button on the top toolbar. The Add to Archive dialog box will appear.
  6. You’re probably fine to keep the default settings, but change Split to volumes, bytes: setting. 7-Zip allows you to choose from a few volume size. I went with 700MB – CD.Splitting the Volume
  7. Click OK.

The archive and volume splitting process will probably take a few minutes. After the process completes, be sure to store all the files together that make up the volume, and be sure they are in a place where OneDrive will sync them to the cloud. When you double-click the first file (with the .7z.001 extension), 7-Zip will expect all files to be in the same folder.

Note: If the file is already an archive file (Zip, 7z, RAR, etc.), then you might need to unarchive the archive and rearchive it using 7-Zip (if that makes sense).

Happy OneDriving!

UPDATE: If you’d like to share your opinion of OneDrive’s file size limit to Microsoft, then visit the Feedback site.

UPDATE #2 (Sept 2, 2014): Very good news! According to a couple of tweets from Paul Thurrott, Microsoft is increasing the file size limit and rolling it out in phases to OneDrive users.

How It Works: Getting Your Email on a Wireless Device

Recently, I’ve had to explain this concept to non-technical technology users. For techies, the concept is simple and obvious. For non-techies, the concept is muddled and confusing. So if you’re a techie, then consider sharing a link to this post with the non-techies you love.

Internet Connections

Understanding the Systems Involved

The most obvious is the wireless computer or wireless device. Next, there is the wireless router. Finally, there is the email service.

The Wireless Computer

For simplicity’s sake, I’ll focus on a wireless laptop, but the concept is very similar for mobile devices like smartphones and tablets.

The laptop will have a user account on it. The account might be (and should be) password-protected. Once you’ve logged into the computer, you can use applications on it to write a document or access the Web or email.

The Wireless Router (WiFi)

The term “WiFi” is thrown around a lot these days, and it means wireless fidelity. In simple terms, it means the ability to have a network connection without a wired connection. In the old days, having an Internet-connected laptop in the living room meant jumping rope with a network cable. Do-able, but not fun.

The wireless router might have (and really, really should have) a password (aka, passphrase) to allow a device to connect to its wireless network. Most of the time, the wireless laptop will remember the connection after connecting previously. This is a convenience feature, but it’s important to realize that the process occurs every time the computer wakes up and accesses services on the Internet.

A couple of related facts about the wireless router: First, the router probably has ports (or connections) to allow wired devices (like a desktop computer) to connect to the router using wired technology. These devices don’t use WiFi. Second, the router may also be combined modem and router device. This just means what used to take two devices, now just takes one. Modem technology simply translates the signals that go through a cable or phone connection into standard Internet network signals that computers can understand. This is not a critical concept to understand, but now you understand a bit more when techies start throwing these terms around.

Email Service

You’ve logged into your laptop, and it has logged into your wireless network. Now you can access the services available on the Internet. Most people like to check their email accounts. Email services are accounts that require their own username and password. Just like your computer. Just like your wireless router (even if it happens in the background for your convenience). You need to log into email with a separate and different username and password. Username and password is sometimes call your login credentials. For the sake of security, your email login for email really should be different than that used for your computer or wireless network.

Besides email accounts, you may also have accounts with Amazon, your bank, or perhaps a membership organization. The concept is basically the same.

Conclusion

This blog post is meant to explain basic concepts. I can’t provide meaningful steps to regain access to an account with a forgotten password. My hope is that understanding the separate – but interplaying – systems will help you isolate where the problem actually lies.