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Comment: Re:C'mon. The tubes analogy really is a good one. (Score 1) 110

by Hotawa Hawk-eye (#47406661) Attached to: YouTube Issuing "Report Cards" On Carriers' Streaming Speeds

The "information superhighway" analogy isn't perfect, but I think it is close enough to correct to be a useful analogy while being familiar enough for laymen to understand.

You can think of the Internet like our system of roads. There are major interstate highways; these are the backbone of the Internet, with many lanes of bandwidth. Smaller highways connect to the major interstates; these are run by your ISPs. Even smaller roads lead from those smaller highways to your home. When you send an email or type the address of a website into your browser, that message is broken into small pieces (say small enough to fit in a motorcyclist's pocket) that are carried along the roads, highways, and interstates to the destination of the email or the computer that hosts that website. If one of those small pieces gets lost, the destination computer sends a message back asking the sending computer to send another copy of that piece.

At the interchanges between the interstate and the smaller highways and the smaller highways and roads, there are stop lights, yield signs, signs describing how to get to certain destinations, and other traffic control mechanisms. As a road becomes saturated with messages on motorcycles, the "highway patrol" will tell messengers to wait their turn before proceeding onto the road, or to take a detour to another less congested road. By detouring messages to different roads, messages can still get through even if one road is busy, damaged, or blocked by censorship.

The principle of "network neutrality" or "net neutrality" is that all the motorcycle messengers on a road are treated the same. But some ISPs have noticed a lot of messengers wearing the Netflix logo on their jackets traveling their highways, and so want to restrict how many Netflix messengers travel on their highways for free at the same time. [While I use Netflix in this explanation, this could also affect other companies that send lots of messengers along the Internet.] Their plan for "fast lanes" is to set up a toll booth on their highways, and if too many Netflix messengers want to go through at once they'll have those messengers wait in line. Alternately, Netflix could pay them to set up an "EZ-Pass" lane to the highway; if Netflix is willing to pay a higher toll, the ISP will let those messengers pass through the tolls more quickly. Opponents of the "fast lane" plan worry that if an ISP has many EZ-Pass lanes for various companies, it will result in messengers whose companies DON'T have EZ-Pass (like small start-ups that can't affect the EZ-Pass) being stuck at the tolls for a long time while their competitors' messengers fly through unslowed.

Another possible solution to the problem of congestion on the Internet would be for companies to make the interstates, highways, and roads broader so they can carry more traffic. In the real world, we can't always expand roads with more lanes because of existing buildings lining them or other constraints. In the Internet, those land-availability constraints don't really apply (though there are a few other constraints.) However, one constraint that exists both for real-world roads and for Internet roads is that expanding roads with more lanes costs money.

Comment: Re:Incoming international flights (Score 1) 685

One example: a person flying from India to a destination A in the US has a short stopover in a different US city B. Are they going to be rescreened before boarding the flight from B to A? Maybe, maybe not. [Let's say someone breaches security and forces EVERYONE to be rescreened.] If they had to run from the gate where their flight from India to B landed to make their connection from B to A, they may have a dead battery (India to the US is a pretty decently long trip, I've heard) and may have had no opportunity to recharge it.

Comment: Re:Interesting... (Score 4, Informative) 119

by Hotawa Hawk-eye (#47350923) Attached to: Boston Trying Out Solar-Powered "Smart Benches" In Parks

From the article, "City officials said the first units in Boston will be funded by Cisco Systems, a leader in development of smart city solutions, at no cost to the city."

As for why Boston got them first, rather than other cities around the country, my guess would be because they're a local product. "The high-tech benches were invented by MIT Media Lab spinoff Changing Environments, a Verizon Innovation Program."

Comment: Who's to say we're not being watched now? (Score 2) 686

by Hotawa Hawk-eye (#47218783) Attached to: Aliens and the Fermi Paradox

Before diplomats from one country meet with diplomats from another country on Earth, they study everything they can about the situation and their counterparts. What if aliens are monitoring our communications to learn more about us -- what we do, why we do it, what we believe, how we're likely to respond to different scenarios, etc.? No one says that even if aliens came to Earth the first thing they'd do is find some schlub and say "Take me to your leader." Nor is it unlikely that a race capable of crossing the void between stars could hide from us, say by looking like a comet or asteroid.

Comment: Re:but (Score 4, Insightful) 191

So John Smith files suit against MegaCorp Inc. (with a legitimate claim) but MegaCorp's army of lawyers buries Smith in motion after motion, draining his coffers dry. When he loses (because he doesn't have enough money left to continue) he's on the hook for the millions of dollars in expenses MegaCorp's army of accountants can somehow link to the case.

There needs to be some protection for this situation, but there also needs to be consequences for "spaghetti suing" -- filing lawsuits against anyone and everyone and seeing which ones get settled and which ones stick. Maybe a superlinear increase in the cost to file suits based on the number of suits you've filed? If you want to file suit in a given issue against two or three people, you're not going to pay much extra, but if you want to sue a hundred people separately you're going to pay through the nose. [And you're not allowed to "lump together" people without showing a good reason to lump them together.]

Comment: Re:Physical interdiction of trucks? (Score 1) 207

by Hotawa Hawk-eye (#47129455) Attached to: UPS Denies Helping the NSA 'Interdict' Packages

Why interdict the trucks? The requirements to be a UPS driver are likely much lower than the requirements to be an NSA agent. Have an agent get hired by UPS as a driver, then have that driver "specially handle" packages headed to certain locations. Unless the package is a rush delivery, is a recipient really going to notice that it took an extra couple hours or even an extra day to travel between Cisco's manufacturing or shipping location and their home or office?

Then just because one UPS employee knows that the NSA intercepted packages (because they did it themselves) wouldn't mean the UPS organization as a whole knows that the NSA intercepted packages. UPS could truthfully state that the organization had no knowledge of such an activity.

Comment: Re:Use confiscated drugs (Score 1) 483

If we need to execute criminals, how about using carbon monoxide? 12,800 parts per million is listed as causing unconsciousness in a couple breaths and death in a couple minutes. We know it can kill (plenty of accidents with blocked exhaust vents as well as suicides) and it's plentiful/easy to obtain.

Comment: Re:Surprised Assange has no idea what censorship i (Score 1) 241

The NSA mission is to use intelligence to find threats to the United States Interests. They see the threat of not getting intelligence more dangerous then the privacy of others. If they were pro-privacy organization then they wouldn't be able to function, as their jobs is to get secrets. Now if you see this, you realize that other then vilifying the NSA, you need to take a step back and work with their bosses to come up new regulations to prevent them from going too far.

Not only do we need to come up with new regulations, we need a way to hold the NSA to those limits, a system of checks and balances if you will.

No, I do not consider the FISA courts to be an adequate system of checks and balances on the NSA. Imagine a baseball game where one of the team's managers was allowed to pull the umpire into their dugout to dispute a call in secret, and when that happened the call invariably went their way, but the other team was not allowed to do the same or even listen in on the discussion. I think there's be quite a few managers from the other teams getting ejected from games for arguing with the umpires over the unfairness of this policy.

Comment: Re:Less choice? (Score 1) 286

If the ISPs aren't going to upgrade the infrastructure even though there's been discussion about internet access being either a civil right or a human right, the government could (should?) take the infrastructure under eminent domain and upgrade it themselves, then provide access through that public infrastructure.

Comment: Re:Misdirection. (Score 4, Insightful) 196

United States military spending is the highest in the world (higher than the countries in positions 2 through 9 COMBINED, and some of those countries are our staunch allies.) If you cut out our allies France, United Kingdom, and Germany we outspend the other 11 on the list on that Wikipedia page combined. Who are we afraid is going to invade us? Who are we planning to invade?

If we wanted to cut our spending to the point where we're outspending China and Russia combined by 50% (at which point our spending would exceed the combined military budgets of China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and France) we could drop a little over 226 billion dollars. That's not a small chunk of money.

A large number of installed systems work by fiat. That is, they work by being declared to work. -- Anatol Holt

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