It’s rare that I plug a 3rd party product and even when I do, they are usually very close partners of Microsoft’s. With this product, I’m making an exception because it’s been so invaluable to me over the past 7+ years. (And also, the fact that the developers are from Lake Oswego, OR, the hometown of UCLA Bruin basketball center, Kevin Love, a man who should be nicknamed "Windex" for the way he cleans the glass at Pauley Pavillion… go Bruins!)
Anyway, the product is called Hagel Technologies "DUMeter 4.0". It’s a $24/workstation utility that hovers over your desktop and tells you what kind of bandwidth you’re seeing through your network adapter(s).
Dealing with multiple network adapters
Note that I said, "network adapter(s)". Most people have multiple network adapters. Take me for instance – This is what I’ve got:
- Wired 100Mb Ethernet adapter
- Wireless 802.11b/g Ethernet adapter
- Wired dial-up 54kbps Modem adapter
- Wireless Verizon EvDO Cellular Data modem
- Bluetooth Network Connection
DUMeter will present a single graphic and set of numbers of the total bandwidth going to and from your PC across all network connections. If you have Windows Vista, you could use the Network Utilization gadget however it only works with a a single adapter.
Working in Kb… and not in KB
So this is a personal preference of mine but I come from a background where all bandwidth was measured in KiloBITS… and not KiloBYTES. Call me old fashioned but the issue is similar to how some people are used to Celsius versus Fahrenheit. I grew up amongst 110bps and 300bps modems and my "sense" of bandwidth is attuned to bits not bytes.
Metrics & reporting around downloaded bytes
INHO This is primarily for people using Verizon’s EvDO cellular network. If you use Verizon’s EvDO data networking through a passthrough Windows Mobile phone using the $20/month "unlimited PDA networking services", you should know that you have a cap on how much downloaded data you can consume over 2 months.
The cap is something like 2GB every two months which might sound like a lot but if you’ve ever actually measured your data consumption, you know that simple web browsing and Outlook mail usage (much less SlingBox remote TV streaming) can consume 2GB VERY QUICKLY. And the consequences of going over that 2GB is having your data connection rights revoked – or being charged $65/month instead of the $20/month you were used to.
DUMeter can meter and report against how much bandwidth you’ve consumed on a given connection and more importantly, alert you the moment you may be exceeding your monthly limit.
Windows Vista Gadget Plug-in
And speaking of Windows Vista gadgets, this is the first version of DUMeter that comes with a Windows Vista gadget. Normally DUMeter hovers over all other desktop items and sit there are a small window however, now you can ‘plug it into the sidebar where it belongs’.
When you install it, it automatically puts a Gadget version of DUMeter into your collection of installed gadgets that you can manually add to your Sidebar. (See the snapshot of my Windows Vista Sidebar to the right. Notice the "light blue" graph that shows bandwidth.
(Hagel Technologies – If you’re reading this, you should know that this secretly is really the only reason I bought the upgrade from v3.5… and it’s also the reason I’m getting a ton of people onboard within Microsoft to buying a copy. Having a good quality bandwidth meter like DUMeter finally seamlessly integrated with my Windows Vista Sidebar was like scratching an itch that’s bothered me for more than a year. It was enough to get me to cough up the $30+ bucks for a family pack and I’m sure others will follow. It always bugged me that DUMeter never integrated with the sidebar… I guess it goes to show you that one should never underestimate the potential sales value of cosmetic changes!)
Family Pack Licensing! Yay!
Let me first say that I’m a staunch advocate of Intellectual Property rights. MP3 music trading networks and unauthorized digital movie distribution is every bit as illegal as software piracy. That being said, I’ve historically used my single license DUMeter on 3 machines in my home. I’m sorry but I saw no reason to pay $75 for 3 licenses of DUMeter, when I never actually have a running copy on any more than 1 machine. I don’t even keep the PC’s running simultaneously and the installations aren’t providing any value. I primarily only really need it running on only 1 machine but once in a blue moon need it on one of the other 2… and I don’t plan on uninstalling/reinstalling it between PCs.
But Hagel introduced family pack licensing: This I quickly and readily jumped on. It permits the usage of DUMeter on 5 machines in the home (not business) at a cost of $50 (or less with upgrade discounting). Now this is rationale I can deal with. It’s like car insurance: I own 3 cars. If I don’t drive my "Sunday driver" car much more than 2 days out of the week, why should I pay full insurance on it relative to my "Primary" vehicle.
RANT: Wouldn’t Family Pack licensing for Windows & Office be great?
BTW, one could argue that the same should apply to Windows & Office: Why should a home user (not a business user) buy 3 fully licensed copies of Windows Vista Home Premium and Office 2007 Standard when they only really use 1 copy at a time.
Folks – I couldn’t agree with you more. In fact, I think there a lot of reasonable people out there that would be more than happy to license Windows & Office in Family packs to legally and rightfully install it on all their home computers.
And while some might argue that people buy their licenses through OEMs when they buy their PCs, I would argue that upgrades to new operating systems are different. For people that have existing hardware or folks that bought Windows Vista Home Basic systems, people should be able to upgrade "in volume" for home use and get good discounts to upgrade all their home PCs to Windows Vista Home Premium… or Ultimate. (Note: There really should be no need to upgrade a person’s PC to Windows Vista Business since this is a HOME Family Pack upgrade and not a BUSINESS one.)