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Comment: Re:What I find astonishing... (Score 1) 501

by StringBlade (#29707517) Attached to: Why AT&T Should Dump the iPhone's Unlimited Data Plan

While it's tempting to think that one only uses some small percentage X of their monthly (theoretic) capacity, the concept of downgrading to save money would almost certainly be met with disappointment.

Unless you're paying by the MB (which is something of the antithesis of these comments) then you're paying by bandwidth (i.e. speed). Let's say you pay for 20 Mbps download but only use your computer 5 days out of the month for 2 hours each day. It seems like you're not using your connection to its full capacity and you're wasting your money so you decide to downgrade to 5 Mbps. (I'm assuming here we aren't talking about data limits.)

The user experience at 5 Mbps will be significantly different than that of one at 20 Mbps especially for certain activities such as watching streaming HDTV.

The fact that you don't use your connection frequently is immaterial to what you are paying for. You are paying for a fast connection when you use the Internet regardless of how frequently that is. So downgrading to save money only works if you're talking strictly about data usage and not access speed.

Unfortunately, many cable companies and ISPs inseparably merge the twto - data limit and speed - with higher speeds equating to higher limits (if they are imposed). If people could choose their connection speed separate from their data cap, and if standard data caps were reasonable for the time (meaning they increase as the average use increases), and if overage fees were reasonably priced (for example, charging an extra $1 for every 10GB over the cap or charging a pro-rated rate for the time spent in the "next data tier"), then we might have a chance at acceptable data and speed tiers.

Sadly this is probably too complex for Joe the Plumber and certainly more than the ISPs want to deal with so I don't expect to see anything like it any time soon.

Comment: Re:He makes one excellent and crucial point (Score 1) 427

by StringBlade (#28419489) Attached to: State of Sound Development On Linux Not So Sorry After All

Linux does a miserable job at audio with multiple sound cards. For many years I've had two sound cards: one on-board and one add-in card. To this day Linux randomly assigns the sound card order upon boot so it's a crap-shoot to get the sound card you want as the default card without manual configuration.

I've tried setting the default in Ubuntu but that never seems to take hold. The only way to get the same sound card as the default (aside from running a script on boot that calls 'asoundconf set-default-card 1' is to edit the alsa-base.conf file in modprobe.d/ and explicitly set the index of the card I want to 0 and the rest to -2.

To me this level of configuration detail is unacceptable. In Windows if I have two sound cards and the wrong one is chosen as default, I simply open the sound options, select the sound card I want as default and I never get bothered by it again. Why can't it be that simple in Linux regardless of whether we're using OSS, ALSA, or PulseAudio?

Comment: Re:By saying that he proves his former point (Score 1) 427

by StringBlade (#28419421) Attached to: State of Sound Development On Linux Not So Sorry After All

Pulse is great as long as you're not interested in connecting S/PDIF or optical digital audio connections, then it just fails completely. I've never successfully gotten PulseAudio to work with S/PDIF out to my receiver and everything I've read suggests it's not really ready to handle AC3 and DTS passthrough. ALSA on the other hand does it just perfectly and I find myself disabling PulseAudio on all my MythTV frontend machines and just going with ALSA.

What was wrong with ALSA again? Are we trying to solve a problem with PulseAudio that is only perceived and not really a problem? Yes, some applications are old and use OSS. Yes some applications go it alone and write their own audio drivers. By and large however, ALSA is left to handle the audio and instead of throwing a wrapper around all the sound, why not just let evolution and survival of the fittest take place. If that happens I'm sure PulseAudio will fade away and ALSA will remain the strongest and most common contender.

Comment: Re:Sounds like an idiotic idea (Score 1) 439

by StringBlade (#28376529) Attached to: Bill Ready To Ban ISP Caps In the US
They're not really going after the producers of traffic, just the consumers of traffic. Many traffic-generating sites do indeed pay for the bandwidth they use...just ask Slashdot how much they have to pay for their bandwidth costs. The costs gets skewed when you start thinking about Google and Yahoo and Amazon. Clearly they generate so much traffic that they must pay an extremely low rate for their bandwidth or they could not possibly be profitable.

Comment: Should .com get special treatment? (Score 1, Offtopic) 37

by StringBlade (#28233287) Attached to: Court Case Against VeriSign, .Com Monopoly Revived

I'm not a fan of VeriSign by any means, but aren't there several organizations in charge of TLDs? VeriSign does not control the .org TLD, nor (I believe) does it control the .co.uk TLD. So this is very much about treating .com special perhaps because it's the most popular and common. However, if VeriSign (or any granted monopoly) abuses their power, then they need to lose the privilege immediately, not when their term is up.

What is a bit more curious to me is why ICANN is still primarily U.S.-controlled. Why isn't it an international organization with bidding across nations for the privilege of being the .com (or any highly-sought TLD) operator.

ICANN should be international (because the Internet has become international), and TLD monopolies should still be allowed to exist (for logistical reasons), but those monopolies are subject to periodic review and loss if there is evidence of abuse brought before ICANN.

The other option of course is to assume that .com is U.S. only and VeriSign should be subject to U.S. anti-trust laws based on its practices alone -- no ICANN or other international involvement in this.

Comment: Re:What It Is... Is Gouging (Score 1) 382

by StringBlade (#27606465) Attached to: Time Warner Transfer Caps May Inspire Fair-Price Legislation

In some states, notably New York, TWC and others are required by law to open up their networks to competing vendors at a reasonable price. That is why Rochester, NY even has Earthlink as a provider on Time Warner's network.

Verizon is non that market because Frontier is the incumbent phone company and it would be very difficult to wrest market share from them (though Time Warner's done a pretty good job with Digital Phone). There is no law preventing Verizon from entering the Rochester market; it's simply not feasible for them to do so.

While states and local governments may not have much power, the customer always does. TV and Internet are not (generally) essential to live for a residential customer. Rochester, NY and other proved that today when Time Warner backed off their plans to expand their consumption-based "test" in four new markets. They haven't given up, but the customer backlash -- not the government alone -- was enough to tip the scales.

Comment: Re:And that's the problem - they don't understand (Score 1) 479

by StringBlade (#27568381) Attached to: Time Warner To Offer Unlimited Bandwidth For $150
Stopthecap.com has a lot of good resources for who to contact but the short list is:
  1. Time Warner - tell them what you think
  2. Mayor Duffy - this concerns his city's economy
  3. Your Congress[wo]man
  4. Gov. Patterson
  5. Senators Schumer and Gillibrand

Not all of these people will be able or willing to do anything, but spreading awareness is how word gets out and pressure is put on Time Warner to stop this nonsense.

Comment: Here's the catch... (Score 1) 382

by StringBlade (#27568303) Attached to: Time Warner Transfer Caps May Inspire Fair-Price Legislation

Currently (in at least one market) "unlimited" usage is provided for $50 at 15Mbps down / 1Mpbs up. The new plan makes that same scenario impossible (they don't offer 15Mbps down). The closest you come to it is $150 for 10Mbps down / 1Mbps up @ $75/month + $75/month max overage charge.

That's a 300% rate increase in one go. I don't think people would be quite so upset if the increase were reasonable. Judging by their 2008 SEC Annual Report when considering the High-Speed Data costs and revenues, 300% isn't anywhere in the same zip code as "reasonable."

Comment: Re:Up next (Score 1) 382

by StringBlade (#27568041) Attached to: Time Warner Transfer Caps May Inspire Fair-Price Legislation

Not to rain on your parade, but have you looked at Time Warner's SEC Annual Report for 2007 and 2008? Each year they state their costs to maintain the network decrease by as much as 12%.

In theory the costs a lot to invest and maintain infrastructure. Indeed, that is what TWC is whining about now only their own Annual Report does not bear that complaint out. Additionally, those upgrades are amortized costs that can be taken over a long period of time. The increase in price is not proportionate to simply cover the cost of infrastructure as they claim. And finally industry analysts have suggested that cable companies can actually upgrade their hardware to DOCSIS 3.0 compliant hardware as the cost of business without increasing their customer's costs and still see profits close to what they have now.

Comment: Re:What It Is... Is Gouging (Score 1) 382

by StringBlade (#27568017) Attached to: Time Warner Transfer Caps May Inspire Fair-Price Legislation

If it's one company with no competition and the prices are disproportionate to most other places, then it's an effective monopoly and they are price gouging (charging an excessive amount to a captive market).

If there are multiple companies, but all the rates are inflated disproportionately to most other places then it's collusion and price gouging.

The main reason Internet would be more expensive from one location to another would be state taxes and regulations and to some degree the state of the network roll-out in that area. But if the cost of service for two locations in the same state are wildly different, then something is afoot.

Comment: Re:Wheres the friking backlash? (Score 1) 479

by StringBlade (#27536113) Attached to: Time Warner To Offer Unlimited Bandwidth For $150

A good portion of the backlash can be found at stopthecap.com particularly in the comments of each article.

Additionally the local news in Rochester, NY is bringing it up with some regularly and it's more or less inescapable to hear about if you live around here.

Time Warner has already seen a lot of people canceling many if not all of their services in protest and many more angry calls -- I do not envy their customer support staff. I've written and told them outright that if the caps go in place I will cancel their service at a major downgrade to my access simply so they will not get my money until the caps are removed completely.

Almost anything derogatory you could say about today's software design would be accurate. -- K.E. Iverson

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