SiliconFilter

Google-Backed Measurement Lab to Distribute Free Routers for Broadband Testing

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Measurement Lab is a Google-backed project that brings together industry and academic researchers who are interested in measuring broadband speed, doing network diagnostics and researching how ISPs throttle and block certain applications and services. The project launched in 2009 and has since released a number of tools for measuring your Internet connection. Now, with the BISMark (the Broadband Internet Service BenchMARK) project, Measurement Lab is taking its efforts one step further by distributing a large number of free routers to users all across the country. Currently, the project gathers data every time a user runs a test on its website. This new project, however, will give researchers a better idea of how networks perform, as the measurements are done at the router level and hence shielded from problems on a user’s computer and home network setup.

The project is led by Georgia Tech and the University of Napoli, but the organization is also working with broadband measurement company SamKnows and the FCC. SamKnows, of course, already has a network of routers installed all across the U.S. and UK (I’ve been using one for the last 9 months or so), making the company an ideal partner for this project.

The routers will then run tests throughout the day. These tests measure latency, packet loss, jitter, throughput, and network capacity. The results will be available for researchers, but the users themselves will also get access to a dashboard where they can take a look at their own data.

Apply

To apply for a free router and to become part of the project, just fill out this form here. The primary router used in this test will be a NetGear WNDR3700. Advanced users with an OpenWRT-capable router can also download the software package themselves and install it on their own routers.



3:28 pm


U.S. Transportation Secretary: “There’s Absolutely No Reason for Any Person to Download Their Facebook Into the Car”

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Cars are becoming increasingly connected and there can be little doubt that this opens drivers up to all kinds of new distractions. Some new cars can now check your Facebook account and read updates out aloud. Others connect you to your personalized music stations on Pandora or let you browse through your locally stored music collection through one of the many little screens that now grace many cars instead of the traditional analog dials. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, however, thinks that all of these electronics are just too distracting and, according to the Wall Street Journal, is pressuring car manufacturers to minimize “gadgetry in new cars.” Indeed, LaHood told the Wall Street Journal that “there’s absolutely no reason for any person to download their Facebook into the car. It’s not necessary.”

While it would be easy to brand LaHood as a Luddite who doesn’t want people to “download their Facebook,” there can be little doubt that the car manufacturers haven’t yet figured out a way to smoothly integrate all of these new bells and whistles into the regular driving experience. Ford’s SYNC, for example, only allows drivers to access certain functions through voice control while the car is moving. These systems can be frustrating, however, as even the best voice recognition is still prone to making errors – which will likely distract the driver even more.

Given the long development cycles in the car industry, it will take a bit before we get advanced Internet-connected in-car infotainment systems that feel as integrated into the driving experience as today’s basic car radios. It’s not about Facebook, though.

There is no reason why a status update from Facebook that’s automatically streamed to your car should be any more distracting than listening to a morning zoo radio program. The car industry, sadly, hasn’t quite figured out how to do this, yet.



3:42 pm