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The Internet Hardware Hacking Social Networks Twitter Build

How the Raspberry Pi Can Automatically Tweet Complaints About Your Slow Internet (ibtimes.co.uk) 154

An anonymous reader writes: Contacting your internet provider to complain about slow browsing speeds is a tiresome chore which none of us enjoy, but one man has found a solution. He has configured a Raspberry Pi computer to automatically tweet a complaint to Comcast when his internet falls below 50Mbps, well below the 150Mbps he pays for. Wouldn't it be nice if ISPs wrote a rebate check each month to reflect the percentage of their promised throughput that was actually available?
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How the Raspberry Pi Can Automatically Tweet Complaints About Your Slow Internet

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 02, 2016 @06:10AM (#51420013)

    This Raspberry Pi device has to have something really special inside! I am shocked.

    • Well, to be fair... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Dr. Manhattan ( 29720 ) <sorceror171&gmail,com> on Tuesday February 02, 2016 @09:07AM (#51420455) Homepage
      ...having an inexpensive, low-power, general-purpose machine around to automate some tasks is actually rather nice. I've got a Pi plus a USB drive as a bittorrent server/client hung up on the wall in my basement. My wife's little website/email account is set to forward to gmail, and that's how she accesses it. But the emails build up and can hit the storage limit. So, presto, a little command-line POP3 client and a cron job later, the account never fills up again.

      Certainly there's nothing special about a Raspberry Pi for such purposes, but they are common and inexpensive. I just wish that Pi Zeros were actually available. I've got some old webcams I'd love to turn into security cameras...

    • This could have been done with a beaglebone or million other similar boards. A more impressive story would have been if he did this on his home router.
      • What's to say he couldn't? A pfSense router has monitoring tools built in to track performance. You could easily wrote a minutely cron job to poll the last few values and fire off an email/tweet/whatever to the provider and all that would be needed is a little shell scripting.
  • by SeaFox ( 739806 ) on Tuesday February 02, 2016 @06:13AM (#51420021)

    Wouldn't it be nice if ISPs wrote a rebate check each month to reflect the percentage of their promised throughput that was actually available?

    I'd like a pony, too.

    #stupidstory #shouldstayinfirehose #thankstimmy

    • I'm not sure I would use a Raspberry Pi to do this myself tbh - when I was using one as a DLNA server, ethernet throughput was horrific even on a 100MBit switch, so much so that I moved the whole set to something else. Wasnt that specific board or OS either.

      Can't trust the results when you can't trust the device producing the results imho.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I'm not sure I would use a Raspberry Pi to do this myself tbh - when I was using one as a DLNA server, ethernet throughput was horrific even on a 100MBit switch, so much so that I moved the whole set to something else.

        If I remember right all of the ports on the Raspi (except for the GPIO pins) go through USB 2 connections, and even then I get the impression it doesn't come anywhere near the usual throughput for USB 2. This is why people regularly recommend against using the Pi for things like a home-made NAS: it's not just that you can't connect a HDD directly through SATA, even if you connect through USB file transfer speeds are poor.

      • by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Tuesday February 02, 2016 @06:45AM (#51420107) Journal
        For a simple speed test the Raspberry Pi might well suffice. I'd be interested in this Internet monitor if it could perform a few more checks. We offer WiFi in a few of our rental properties, and it's frustrating when the tenants complain about intermittent connectivity issues or slowness: by the time I get to the property, the problems have of course magically disappeared. Besides I don't want to get up at all hours to go and check the equipment. Would be great to have a Raspberry Pi monitoring the WiFi and wired connections and performance, logging the results.
        • Would be great to have a Raspberry Pi monitoring the WiFi and wired connections and performance, logging the results.

          Attach an ESP-01 to the Raspberry Pi. Write all your WiFi test code on the ESP. Access it through the serial interface. The stock firmware might actually suffice, since it does WiFi stuff with AT commands. The ESP is $2.

          • by paiute ( 550198 )
            New product opportunity?
          • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

            Why?

            Just use the ESP-01 with NodeMCU and let it do the whole job on it's own. no need for anything else attached to it except power Works great for a tiny $7.00 (with power supply) wifi canary.

            When the public wifi goes offline or has a problem getting out, it then connects to the private lan and then issues the email to tech support.

            • Why?
              Just use the ESP-01 with NodeMCU and let it do the whole job on it's own.

              Because you need both wired and wireless interfaces in order to be able to report a failure on one using the other interface.

              You could probably hook up one of the little Arduino ethernet interfaces to the ESP. It wouldn't save you much, though.

              • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

                No you dont.

                Two wireless networks work perfectly, and 99% of the places that needs that kind of monitoring has 2 networks. hell I have 2 wireless networks at my house. Plus it could always use my wifi tether on my phone that is always active.

        • For a simple speed test the Raspberry Pi might well suffice. I'd be interested in this Internet monitor if it could perform a few more checks. We offer WiFi in a few of our rental properties, and it's frustrating when the tenants complain about intermittent connectivity issues or slowness: by the time I get to the property, the problems have of course magically disappeared. Besides I don't want to get up at all hours to go and check the equipment. Would be great to have a Raspberry Pi monitoring the WiFi and wired connections and performance, logging the results.

          I think you could make nagios do that.

        • For the issue you speak of, I would look into possible other microwave sources, such as the microwave. It is possible that the shielding on the microwave is failing, or that you may need to move the AP in relation to the kitchen or any other microwave source.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo AT world3 DOT net> on Tuesday February 02, 2016 @09:24AM (#51420531) Homepage

        I've noticed that some ISPs sometimes cheat on these tests anyway. For example, my connection sometimes benchmarks at 150Mb/sec down, but actually there is massive packet loss on some protocols (e.g. VPN, seems basically anything UDP related is screwed except for DNS) and downloads never get anywhere near.

        I'm sure my ISP would call it traffic management, and it just so happens that speedtest.net servers are heavily optimized for throughput and low ping times.

      • I also experienced crawl speeds on the Pi. I do have a high- speed connection so that wasn't the limiting factor. I haven't tried the Pi2 yet. Perhaps it surfs faster.
    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Sounds reasonable to me. I'm supposed to get 150Mb, but end up with barely 20Mb many evenings. There is a 20Mb package they offer for a fraction of what I'm paying. Seems fair that if that's all they can deliver that's all I'm paying.

      When I pay someone to wash my car and wax it, if they run out of wax I'm not paying for the waxing. If they don't think it's worth keeping so much wax around then okay, but they can't charge me for it when they run out.

      • No, your ISP only promised you *up to* that speed.

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          As it happens, the UK regulator is considering my suggestion. Their system would require that the customer is getting consistently low speeds, and is mainly aimed at people who are suffering from low ADSL sync rates rather than network congestion.

        • by Bengie ( 1121981 )
          Mine didn't. Not only do they not use the term "up to", but they explicitly point that out and claim you will always get 100% of your bandwidth *within their network and to their peers and trunk. $45/m for 100/100 and currently 14ms from Chicago. Used to be 6ms until Level 3 changed routes. uhggg. fml
      • by Jawnn ( 445279 )

        Sounds reasonable to me. I'm supposed to get 150Mb, but end up with barely 20Mb many evenings. There is a 20Mb package they offer for a fraction of what I'm paying. Seems fair that if that's all they can deliver that's all I'm paying.

        When I pay someone to wash my car and wax it, if they run out of wax I'm not paying for the waxing. If they don't think it's worth keeping so much wax around then okay, but they can't charge me for it when they run out.

        Look harder. The typical ISP business model is built around the words "up" and "to", as in "...up to 150Mbps..." The don't sell a guaranteed service level to their low-end customers, and residential customers are all low-end. Want to end this "injustice"? Elect representatives who will look out for your interests, not those of the telecom industry, by enacting real regulation.

  • Wouldn't it be nice if ISPs wrote a rebate check each month to reflect the percentage of their promised throughput that was actually available?

    You must be new here....

    • Re:Oblig (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MPBoulton ( 3865641 ) on Tuesday February 02, 2016 @06:32AM (#51420063)

      You must be new here....

      Doesn't this miss the point? ISP's will carry on with this sort of behaviour if everyone just lies down and takes it.

      The regulators should of course be doing more, but this sounds like a very useful way to at least increase the hassle the ISP must go through to provide less than a third of their advertised speed.

      • Well, Most ISP specify the speed as "up to", which means that slow speeds are not a breach of contract.
      • Except ISPs only advertise an *up to* speed. Nowhere does any ISP so you can get maximum bandwidth 24/7.

        • by arth1 ( 260657 )

          Except ISPs only advertise an *up to* speed. Nowhere does any ISP so you can get maximum bandwidth 24/7.

          This is not true. Many do sell services with a CIR (committed information rate). Of course, you pay more, but it's available.
          Even if it's a low 1500 kbps CIR, that may be far better than a 50 Mbps line that's really 0-50 Mbps if you need to run consistent services.

          • by KGIII ( 973947 )

            Yup. We used to have a contract with our ISP. They provided minimal speeds as per our agreement and repaired uptime per our agreement. Failure for them to actually maintain the minimal speed and uptime meant they got penalties. Some of those penalties were actually significantly more than we actually paid them. Assuming a reasonably optimal physical location, you can get a whole bunch of different contracts or even have a lawyer write one for you.

            An outage of any significant duration would have cost us quit

  • Wouldn't it be nice if ISPs wrote a rebate check each month to reflect the percentage of their promised throughput that was actually available?

    I'm sure what they promise in the fine print is to do their best to try and deliver you atleast some fraction of the advertised bandwidth some of the time.

    • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

      I'm sure what they promise in the fine print is to do their best to try and deliver you atleast some fraction of the advertised bandwidth some of the time.

      For the most part yep. There may be a minimum required speed in some places, but overall there isn't anything in law that actually says that they "have to" unlike the old dial-up days, where phone lines had to maintain a minimum of 2400 baud, then 9600 baud and later 14.4k. The law is way behind on this stuff, then again the law was way behind roughly 12 years in the case of dial-up when the minimum requirements were introduced into either law/consumer protection codes/industry requirement codes/etc. Giv

      • There was never a law that modems had to work. More or less min speeds. Where'd you get that from?

        • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

          There was never a law that modems had to work. More or less min speeds. Where'd you get that from?

          Here in Canada, the CRTC and Industry Canada required a minimum of 9600 baud on telephone lines from all of the providers of POTS. There was also a few states(I remember Indiana had a law on the books), that also required 9600 baud to be a minimum attainable speed. In the case for Canada, it was because the government had moved a lot of stuff over to dial-up services for their service offices. I'd have to dig up the actual regulations and laws though, I haven't looked at them in over 20 years.

      • I'm surprised I've not seen anyone mention that this is the reason they are capping accounts, they can manage high speed transfers but have to many subscribers to be able to maintain the traffic. In order to create a smoke screen for their failure to provide the product they already sold you they start capping accounts hoping not everyone will try to use it all at once.

  • How does the raspberry Pi know it's not just the servers being slow.

    And if it works, can I have a windows version for my VPN provider PrivateVPN, who suck when it comes to slow downs and strangling torrent uploads.

  • Advertised Speed (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MadX ( 99132 ) on Tuesday February 02, 2016 @06:33AM (#51420067)

    Not too sure about the rest of the world, but in South Africa the adverts in fine print say "UP TO (x)Mbps".

    So if your service is slower, it still falls into their accepted limits ...

    • by DewDude ( 537374 )
      Pretty much every ISP advertises "UP TO" in the fine print. The problem is, people ignore that and think because the ISP gives them 150mbps in the contract that they are guaranteed that speed.
  • 1) Automatically measure browsing speed for each web link published on Slashdot.
    2) send compliant letter to ISP asking for refund.
    3) ???
    4) Profit!
  • by NormalVisual ( 565491 ) on Tuesday February 02, 2016 @06:59AM (#51420131)
    Wouldn't it be nice if ISPs wrote a rebate check each month to reflect the percentage of their promised throughput that was actually available?

    They do if you want to negotiate a SLA that guarantees it, but that tends to be kinda expensive for the average residential customer. Otherwise you get best-effort.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Still, care should be taken that best effort does not start to mean promise 100mbps and deliver 1mbps. At least the speed should be theoretically possible. An ISP here was providing 25mbps contracts, but the used wireless modem only had 10mbps ethernet interface(!!). This is not a home wifi router, the actual internet was delivered over a wireless link with an antenna on your roof.

      • by DewDude ( 537374 )
        This is a huge media conglomerate that has a legalized monopoly in 99% of the places it operates. You think they care? For many people, it's Comcast or nothing...and they know this. You can tell because you will see cheaper prices in areas with competition than you will in areas without competition.

        When you're the only game in town, people will take what you give them regardless of what they demand because they have 0 alternatives.
    • by Rob Riggs ( 6418 )

      negotiate a SLA == Consumer Protection Laws.

      However, the telecom industry has done a bang-up job of bribing your negotiating team. So, good luck, America!

  • Oh, my, it's not even routing. The script just tries a speedtest service without concern for whatever else might be competing with the Pi for transfer.

    The usefulness and appropriateness of complaining like this can be debated, but when he connects to a big torrent and his Pi starts complaining that Comcast is being slow - well, that's just an asshole move.

    • Oh, my, it's not even routing. The script just tries a speedtest service without concern for whatever else might be competing with the Pi for transfer.

      The usefulness and appropriateness of complaining like this can be debated, but when he connects to a big torrent and his Pi starts complaining that Comcast is being slow - well, that's just an asshole move.

      Yeah, it seems pretty pointless/lame. Using a speed test at all for this is kinda sketchy. A better implementation would watch for signs of network congestion (retransmits, etc) and look at the bandwidth consumption at that time, preferably checking that there are multiple congested destinations. (To try to avoid blaming the ISP for a problem on the remote side.)

  • Next, the ISPs will develop a Raspberry PI device that can automatically do nothing in response to the flood of these automated tweets...and the cycle continues...
    • by DewDude ( 537374 )

      Next, the ISPs will develop a Raspberry PI device that can automatically do nothing in response to the flood of these automated tweets...and the cycle continues...

      ISP's already have something that does this. It's called Customer Service.

    • i've got one that will already do this! mainly due to the fact that it hosed the SD card and no longer boots...
  • If you approach the arbitrary/BS monthly cap, you get an automated message. Good job turning that around on them.
  • You don't need to start stories with "how..." or "why..." or worse still "ten reason why you must ..."
  • Unless the device knows what bandwidth utilization is like on the connection, this is nearly useless. The measurement needs to be done at the router or egress port level or for all the raspberry pi knows, there a dozen other devices on the network segment using 90% of the bandwidth for torrents, netflix, etc.
  • Will do no good. "Speeds are not guaranteed" and pushing 150mbps, down DOCSIS, with an entire neighborhood using the same DOCSIS frequencies...you're NOT going to get the 150mbps you pay for. Not to mention speedtests download so little data it's not an accurate picture.

    You should use some simple RF science to figure out why you'll never get those speeds on a reliable basis. Last I looked; they weren't even giving more than 200mbps total on each node

    Maybe that's changed; but the real problem is you're on
    • DOCSIS 3.1 supports up to 10Gbps/1Gbps....and I'm sure they're not using that.

      • by DewDude ( 537374 )
        It's not about how much bandwidth DOCSIS supports; but how many channels on the cable they devote to it. They would be lucky if they were getting 150mbps of bandwidth per node out.

        Cable is a total waste of bandwidth. You're already cramming 4 or 5 HD channels in a 6MHZ QAM channel; every On-Demand stream eats up QAM...the more they crap they add, the smaller the pipe becomes.

        If more people realized that; they'd stop buying Comcast's BS.
        • DOCSIS 3.0 on 4 channels is pretty standard. That's why 150Mbps per node. Even if it is serviced by fiber, it's limited to 150Mbps without more channels dedicated.

          Cable is trying to get around bandwidth limitations by moving to switched digital video [wikipedia.org]. That way, you've only got one channel per tuner sent across the wire. And if two neighbors are watching the same channel, that only requires one stream. That leaves a LOT of open channels to add into a DOCSIS 3.0 configuration.

    • with an entire neighborhood using the same DOCSIS frequencies

      And the important thing to note here is that because of how the bandwidth is shared in a neighborhood, by constantly hitting the speed test servers this whiner is slowing things down for his neighbors.

      • by DewDude ( 537374 )
        Exactly. And the speedtest servers *may* have enough priority to give a good result. This would not be the first time an ISP was prioritizing speedtest connections to make themselves look good.
  • Wouldn't it be nice if ISPs wrote a rebate check each month to reflect the percentage of their promised throughput that was actually available?

    ...people actually understood what their ISP sold them?

    The only thing guaranteed is the connection speed between your router and the cable company head office - buying a 150 Mb/sec data plan from your cable company doesn't guarantee you'll get data from a remote server anywhere near 150 Mb/sec. The actual speed of a connection to a remote web server depends on the v

  • Having had two consumer WiFi routers crap out in the last 4 years (start dropping packets like crazy), I wonder how he differentiates with issues on his network or on Comcast's when running this speed test. Even something as simple as the cat yanking on the network cable could affect the results.

  • Rewrite the code in Lua (which is usually already installed) or install python if you have the room. https://wiki.openwrt.org/doc/s... [openwrt.org]

    Not that I'd recommend participating in such pestering campaigns, mostly due to a lot of ISPs having some form of "no speed guarantee" clause in their contract.

    (The article is really more about selling the Raspberry Pi than it is about ISP accountability, and it uses the most (actionable) emotional hook that people have about technology, access speeds.)

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