Mandatory Internet Filter

It seems our government is ignoring all the advice the contrary and public opinion and aiming to introduce mandatory filtering with the legislation coming before parliament later next year. Of course they are hiding behind the child pornography issue but many people don’t realise that much more will be blocked.

The Google blog covered this in a reasonable article here. Well worth your time to read it if you are concerned about basic rights in this country.

Fedora, Mobile Broadband and Conky

It was over 12 months ago that I blogged about using my Optus mobile broadband with Fedora. I’ve noticed there have been a few searches on that subject recently so I thought it was about time I updated.

With Fedora 11

When I first plugged the 3g modem in it generated a SELinux error and I had to set SELinux to permissive to get it working. That is no longer the case with Fedora 11. Nor does it load the modem as an usb drive. It is recognised as a modem and Network Manager just handles it.

I must add that this seems to apply only to Fedora. I have tried it in Mandriva and Ubuntu derivatives like Gos and only Mint has worked.

This will improve in Fedora 12 with a new feature that will automatically set up the requirements for each provider. Looks like a great feature for those who need to change the default settings.

Working with Conky

Conky is a very useful system monitor. I have often thought of doing a post on Conky but in the interim I’ll just talk about monitoring the Mobile Broadband.

When I first  set up the Mobile Broadband I couldn’t get Conky to report on it. I tried “dmesg | grep usb” and it reported that the modem was using ttyUSB0, ttyUSB1 and ttyUSB2. However none of these would report any activity. Searching around I found that these were redirecting to ppp0. I can’t remember where I found this but it has been consistent across multiple Fedora versions and computers. I can now see the current activity on the Internet connection.

If it is useful here is the code I added to my .conkyrc to get it working

${color0}INTERNET $color(${addr ppp0}) ${color0}${hr 2}$color
${color1}Down:$color  ${downspeed ppp0} KB/s${alignr}${color1}Up:$color ${upspeed ppp0} KB/s
${downspeedgraph ppp0 25,120 color1 color2} ${alignr}${upspeedgraph ppp0 25,120 color1 color2}$color
${color1}Downloaded: $color${totaldown ppp0} $alignr ${color1}Uploaded: $color${totalup ppp0}

Hope that helps.

Another Firefox Gadget

Since I wrote the last post I have added a new gadget that seems pretty useful. It is aimed at Australian Firefox (and other Mozilla browsers) users and others who have download limits on their internet connection. It provides a quick check of the current usage using the data from your ISP. It adds a meter into your toolbar. Hovering the mouse over the meter shows more info.   I found out about on my friend Snowy’s site here. More information and it can be downloaded here.

Wireless Broadband Update

After my last post I lodged a formal complaint via email with Optus. They are supposed to answer within so many hour, 72 I think, but they haven’t. However I must say there has been quite an improvement. I rarely get a drop out at the moment and the speed is much better. I can watch You Tube again! (As an aside isn’t HD on You Tube a great improvement?).
I’m still a little peeved that I haven’t received a formal reply but as long as the system is working I can’t be too upset.

Wireless Broadband Failure

I posted sometime ago about setting up my 3G modem in Fedora. I have a Hauwei E169 modem which I got from Optus. I had no problem setting it up and getting online, it just worked.

Unfortunately the same can’t be said for the Optus 3G network. I had heard reports of it being overloaded and it seems that is the case. To be fair when it works it work well but that is less than 50% of the time. It is not unusual to have it drop out and then need to reconnect several times while checking mail or the Fedora forums. It wasn’t always like this though, when I first got it it was great.

Thinking it may be a Fedora / Linux problem I plugged it in to a XP box today to give it a run. I hadn’t used that computer for a while and so decided to install Firefox 3. The download took quite a few minutes, 15 at least. I watched the speed in the Optus software and it rarely got up to 50 Kb/s often under 20. It also sat at zero for some time on several occasions although the Optus software didn’t show it as having no signal. It did finally drop out while I was trying to update the extensions I had installed. I couldn’t get it to reconnect.

When I contacted support they were helpful but wanted to treat it like a setup problem and were unwilling to admit the problems is with their system.

My conclusions are it runs faster under Fedora when it runs. The service is probably overloaded and getting worse. Linux’s NetworkManager is more likely to show it as having no signal. My advice to anyone thinking of getting Optus 3G is don’t bother.

Aussie Broadband Survey

Whirlpool are running their annual Broadband survey on the state of Australian Broadband. I have filled out the forms and it only took a few minutes. They quote 10 minutes as the usual time but it didn’t seem that long.

I would recommend everyone using Broadband in Australia to complete the survey and help make Whirlpool’s figures accurate. It is at Whirlpool Survey.

Conroy Bans Over 10,000 Sites

The list keeps growing, Senator Conroy has now admitted he will ban over 10,000 sites. Originally he claimed the sites would be limited to those listed by ACMA as illegal but now he has added ten times more sites, that he calls unwanted, to the list. Is this just the start of his real plans? See here for more details.

Stand up for your rights, click on the No Clean Feed link on the top left of this page.

The End of the Internet in Australia?

The Australian government is intending to join a list of the world’s most disreputable governments such as China, Cuba and Iran by censoring the internet. It will set itself up as the sole authority on what Australians can access. But it will also refuse to disclose what it is blocking and why. The few reports that have reached the general media have talked of child porn and other illegal sites but already a staffer in the office of the Minister responsible for this has tried to block reports on So where will it end?

See here and follow the links for more info.
See also Nocleanfeed.