4. November 2010 02:37
In the middle of debugging some code on my Mac, I discovered that Comcast has done it again. Acted against the interests of its customers, that is. My Mac code, intended for an iPhone app, was "pinging" various web sites; I discovered that non-existent web sites showed up as actually present. At first I thought it was my app, so I kept trying to look for bugs. After a while, I brought up the Mac OS X "Networking" utility and found that virtually all non-existent web addresses were being redirected to address 22.214.171.124. Not only was this bogus node replying to pings, but it would act as a spurious web site by servicing HTTP requests over port 80!
In other words, Comcast has changed the way the internet behaves in order to push advertising. Of course, in their propaganda they claim that this is some sort of "service" to users to give them alternatives, but in reality it's just another intrusive and error-provoking means of earning revenue.
I later found that there is an option in my Comcast account to disable this unwanted "helper" service. I've turned it off, of course, and as yet I see no change in behavior. Maybe their expensive databases will take a week or two to propagate an update from my account to their overly clever DNS servers. Here is the explanatory the link at Comcast.
It's sort of like going into a restaurant and ordering sushi, only to find canned tuna on the plate and a note saying that you were given lower-quality food because it may be lower in mercury. The fundamental behavior of the internet is important and should be protected from the vagaries of oppressive marketing and the never-ending quest for yet another dollar.
Maybe I'm just too old for this crap.
Later note: I woke up this morning to find that their "opt out" feature actually works. At least they got that right. I'm dubious about all this, but at least I don't have to use it.
Update (10/2011): I just found that the "DNS Helper" service had been turned back on; I have no idea why. I went back to Comcast to change it again and discovered that it's very important to log in with your full Comcast email account name; otherwise, the "DNS Helper" option won't appear. It seems they want to make this very difficult.