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Comment: Re:What are the practical results of this? (Score 1) 376

by dgatwood (#48934455) Attached to: FCC Officially Approves Change In the Definition of Broadband

Union contributions are, more or less, under the control of the people who are in the unions, and if you don't agree with a union's political agenda, you have a legal right to withhold that portion of your dues, so your portion of that contribution is 100% under your control.

Corporate contributions, by contrast, are entirely under the control of its board of directors. As a shareholder or normal employee of that corporation, you have no control over your portion of the contribution. Corporate contributions represent a concentration of power in the hands of a few individuals, which makes them fundamentally different.

Comment: Re:U-verse (Score 1) 376

by dgatwood (#48933789) Attached to: FCC Officially Approves Change In the Definition of Broadband

Real-world LTE speeds only qualify as broadband if you're very close to the tower. By the time you get into two-bar territory (where their LTE network is "available"), you'll be lucky to get EDGE speeds, and at one bar, you'll be lucky to get any data at all. Yet technically, LTE is available in all those places. That's the problem with wireless; the speed falls off a cliff as distance increases.

Comment: Re:Power Costs (Score 1) 242

In a curiously ironic twist, the hardware designed to protect consumer-grade disks from damage ends up destroying them. As I understand it, a number of fairly recent consumer drives exhibit a higher than normal failure rate because the heads break off of the arms when they collide with the park ramp. This is, at least in part, a consequence of making the arms smaller and lighter to improve seek times.

Comment: Re:Lot's of bad ideas here... (Score 1) 250

by dgatwood (#48919389) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best Medium For Personal Archive?

At more than 8 cents per gigabyte, archival DVDs are horribly expensive. You could cycle your backups across three hard drives for about the same amount of money, and then you have three backups instead of one.

Not to mention... have you ever tried backing up your 4 TB hard drive onto a spindle of 1,000 DVDs? Have you ever seen a spindle of 1,000 DVDs? It's slightly taller than an average person. Yes, if you don't have much data, you can do what you're proposing, but....

Hard drives are really the only viable backup medium unless you have a big enough collection of data for tape drives to make sense—maybe Blu-Ray, but only if you don't have more than about a 100-disc spindle worth of data (2.5 or 5 TB) to back up (and really, most people lose interest at more like ten or fifteen discs).

Comment: Re:Pair of external HD's (Score 1) 250

by dgatwood (#48919305) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best Medium For Personal Archive?

I think the point was that after you clone your backup drive to a new one, you can reuse the drive to replace or expand your main system drive, whereas once you burn an optical disc, "reburning" means throwing away the old plastic (or keeping an extra copy around). This effectively makes optical media a lot more expensive than magnetic media.

Comment: Roswell (Score 1) 476

by dgatwood (#48908127) Attached to: Best 1990s Sci-fi show?

Admittedly, Roswell barely qualifies as 1990s, because it began in 1999, but it was one of the better sci-fi shows I've seen. Among other things, it turned the genre on its head by being told from the perspective of aliens, in the present day, on Earth. It had a lot of things going against it, of course, with network politics being the big one, and season two strayed awfully far into X-Files territory, but it had good writing, good acting, and much like Stargate, it didn't take itself too seriously, somehow managing just the right blend of humor, romance, dramatic tension, etc. And in spite of the main characters being teenagers, it managed to almost entirely avoid the usual teen drama that you'd expect to clog up such a series.

My favorite funny moment had to be when Jonathan Frakes (playing himself) told one of the alien teenagers that he just didn't make a believable alien. And my favorite episode was the Christmas special; it was almost pure character development, did nothing to drive the plot, but it was a breathtaking tear-jerker that gave a lot of insight into the main characters' personalities.

If you haven't seen Roswell, it's worth a look.

Comment: Re:The solution is obvious (Score 1) 577

But do realize, that was an outlier and is atypical of what Apple does.

No, it isn't atypical, at least for early-generation Apple products. The average support period for Apple is about three years, and there are a fair number of products that got less than that (mostly early models). For example, here's the time between the release date and last supported update of some other first-generation and second-generation Apple iOS devices:

  • Original Apple TV: 3 years, 1 month, and 1 day
  • Original iPhone: 2 years, 7 months, and 4 days
  • iPhone 3G: two years, four months, 11 days

The support period tends to vary based in part on how many of the devices are out there in active use, and in part on how badly underpowered the hardware was to begin with. So later products in a given line are likely to have longer support periods than earlier products.

Comment: Re:life in the U.S. (Score 1) 255

by dgatwood (#48906531) Attached to: Verizon, Cable Lobby Oppose Spec-Bump For Broadband Definition

Actually, the telcos in Europa are preparing to roll out G.fast, which makes telcos again competive with Cable.

Not really. We hit the bandwidth limits of a single twisted pair a long time ago. For G.fast to be usable, the phone company has to replace your phone line with fiber to within just a few hundred feet of your home. For it to reach maximum speeds, you need fiber within just 230 feet. In effect, this means that if the phone company replaces all of their copper with fiber, G.fast lets them skip the cost of running the fiber from the pole outside your house into your house, for now. That's about it.

If your community has no fiber, G.fast won't even connect unless you're within BB gun range of your central office or DSL-capable remote terminal.

Comment: Re:Defective by design. (Score 1) 215

by dgatwood (#48896661) Attached to: China Cuts Off Some VPNs

They're well defined now. AFAIK, they were nonstandard when initially proposed. Every time someone wants to deviate from accepted standards, there should be a darn good reason why, and I'm just not seeing any reasonable justification for creating a whole separate transport-layer protocol for something that basically behaves like a normal, connected stream.

And it isn't just explicit blocking that's a problem. Firewalls and NAT often make life miserable for users even when those firewalls aren't trying to block the VPNs. That's why as far as I'm concerned, if you're passing traffic, you should use TCP if you need the data to be robust and reliable, UDP if delayed delivery would make the data worthless, and ICMP for the usual network management purposes. IMO, everything else is anathema. :-)

A mathematician is a device for turning coffee into theorems. -- P. Erdos

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