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This article claims that Netflix's (sic?) licensing fees are going to go from $180 million in 2010 to $2 billion in 2012. It was in the face of this impending tidal-wave that Netflix hiked its prices. Customers may have been shocked, but in hindsight it seems inevitable: this famous article from December of last year cites Time Warner's CEO saying exactly the same thing - that NetFlix was only competitive because of its unbelievable deal with Starz and once that deal expired NetFlix was screwed. And he said them becoming a major player in broadcasting was the equivalent of the Albanian army taking over the world - a quote that people immediately jumped on like it was the equivalent of Michael Dell saying Apple should be broken up in 1997. Except that right now it would seem the guy was onto something.
I think NetFlix are/were an innovative and exciting company and I wish them all the best. But I don't know if they're going to be around in 5 or 10 years, for the simple fact that the competition has caught up and can throw much more weight around when it comes to licensing content. At the end of the day, it might turn out that licensing made NetFlix, and will ultimately break it. Maybe I'm wrong - maybe they will be able to continue to out-innovate the competition, or sign some sweet-heart content deal that saves them. But I don't think I'll be investing in NetFlix at the moment.
I replaced it with a $100 desktop i bought from the recycling depot and run an FTP and subsonic on it for hosting music. I find this much more effective than the pogoplug was, although maybe if I'd had more patience I could have gotten it to work better. It also allowed me to install tversity to stream movies to my play station. They aren't FOSS, but they are free and I'm very happy with subsonic and tversity so far.
I think you'd be surprised how much regulation in the North American oil and gas industry is administered by the companies themselves. Yes the government is involved, but no one knows the impacts of oil and gas development better than oil and gas companies, so the problems are often identified and corresponding solutions and best practices developed by the industry itself, not the government.
That they use explosive charges is a bit of a red herring. The charges are used to shoot slugs of metal through the casing and rock near the well bore in order for the frac fluid to enter the formation, the slugs travel a few feet into the rock at best. They're used in all oil and gas wells that have casing that needs to be produced through and aren't by themselves blamed for much. The frac fluid may include exotic proprietary chemicals like foaming agents to better carry proppant, or may just be water. Proppant is the sand they pump down with the fluid to enter the fractures made and then hold them open once the pressure is removed. That they need to do this illuminates why it's unlikely that a fracture is reaching from the Marcellus to the water zones: if sand isn't pushed into the crack, the fracture will close up and not allow flow even a few feet from the well. It is extremely hard to imagine that a fracture could reach thousands of feet above and be held open, without proppant, after the pressure is removed. Crappy cement jobs causing communication between zones, on the other hand, are well known to the industry.
The number of problem wells is relatively small, probably much less than 1%, but because there are so many of these wells being drilled dramatic incidents start adding up. Maybe in their rush, service companies are getting sloppier with their cementing jobs, but I haven't heard any evidence of this. I don't really know the best response to the problems. America needs energy, and gas is a very attractive way of generating it, far better than coal. Plus the shale gas industry brings money to regions that can really use it at the moment. But on the other hand, people's drinking water keeps exploding. Hopefully the problems can be brought under control and the massage resource that is shale gas can be exploited to its potential.
In the short term, I see no way to justify the trillions of dollars required to become a "space faring civilization" while so much of the human population is having trouble keeping body and soul together. Once we have stabilized our population, sorted our nations states out politically to at least provide basic necessities and freedoms to the bulk of people and eliminate the threat of war hanging over so many heads, then I think we, as a species, are ready to start approaching such transcendental goals as colonizing other worlds.
Humans haven't been around that long in the big scheme of things. Our relatively short lifespans make us impatient and eager to expand quickly. But any meaningful off-world colonization will be the work of generations and will probably not see significant returns for centuries (I'm talking about inter-stellar colonization being the ultimate goal, the only type that I think is really worth a damn in the overall scheme). In my opinion, it makes no sense to bite off such a huge challenge when we live in such a precipitous situation at home. So by all means, lets continue to send probes to assess the universe. But human exploration is almost certain to be a less effective use of money, and is favourable only from a PR/political perspective.
The reason for Khan's success is that he is a good teacher, he's a smart guy that knows a lot about a broad range of subjects and he has made putting these lessons on the internet his full time job. This post sounds to me like saying the Beatles were a bunch of hacks because people were putting songs on wax cylinders 70 years before. It's not about the medium, it's about the content, and smart as PLATO's designers were, I highly doubt they were as good at teaching as Kahn is.
I understand a lot of people want to dump on Bill Gates here. But even if you don't like his teaching style, it's hard not to respect Salman Kahn. If you don't like his lessons, don't watch them. But I think it's obvious that he has helped a lot of people learn some pretty challenging material.