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Comment: What about water meters? (Score 3, Insightful) 224

by gsarnold (#31648888) Attached to: Security Holes Found In "Smart" Meters

Anyone found any similar useful hacks with them newfangled radio water meters?

My city put 'em in last year and this dude comes out to the house to install it and I'm like, "...so this let you drive past the house and pick up the meter reading without coming to the side of the house, right?" And the dude is like, "No. This radios your water usage directly to the central office every twelve hours."

Every twelve hours.

I know slashdot makes you paranoid, but this bothers me. I simply cannot imagine how it could be useful to monitoring this frequently when they still bill my usage monthly. Plus, any dude with access to the database can hack together an SQL query to find out which houses have a total water usage under a gallon over the past three days and know who's not home.

Comment: Re:No Suprise here (Score 1) 215

by gsarnold (#30702676) Attached to: Court Unfriendly To FCC's Internet Slap At Comcast

You know what's missing? The mom and pop broadband market like we had with dialup in the 90's. We should do communications like we do roads.

We won't ever have actual competition in any of the broadband or communications markets because pulling physical cables is expensive and difficult. (Wireless *might* be an exception if it pans out...) There are permits, zoning rules, capacity/buildout planning and all kinds of "who really wants five cables from five different providers running into their house?!" issues that give communication markets exceptionally high natural barriers to entry. The problem is that all these services share a common cable that should be centralized.

If local government were to seize ownership and operation of the physical network layer -- the cabling and routing -- from the phone and cable companies under eminent domain, then any company that wanted to sell ISP, VOIP or TVIP service could do so by paying the city a simple access fee to use the public network infrastructure. We could stop wasting money running redundant cables to everyone's house, we could stop letting service providers leverage their networks to strongarm customers with unfair policies, and we could stop letting them use their existing regional monopolies to lock out competition and cherry pick their customers.

BONUS: Since the service providers would be freed of the burden of being a 'dumb wire' (I'm looking at you, TWC!), they could instead focus on providing stellar competitive services.

For those of you concerned about "government efficiency", consider that your city government could contract out the network management and maintenance if they didn't want to do it themselves; we just wouldn't let them sell ownership. Besides, this is exactly how we handle most of the other infrastructure we depend on anyway. Are roads that everyone uses really that big a problem? If we did roads the way we do data, you'd need to sign a five year contract and agree to have the roads around your house torn up and rebuilt to shop at Target instead of Walmart.

Comment: Re:One idea (Score 3, Interesting) 222

by gsarnold (#30360198) Attached to: FCC May Pry Open the Cable Set-Top Box

I agree that the FCC is not seeing the real problem here, but I have a better solution.

Video=Voice=Data. It's all bits. Barring (maybe) wireless we will not ever have actual competition in the current system because the market has a naturally high barrier to entry: the high cost and difficulty of pulling physical cables. (permits, zoning rules, capacity/buildout planning, "who really wants five cables from five different providers running into their house?!", etc...) That's why there is no mom and pop broadband market.

So, let's allow local government to seize ownership (eminent domain) and operation of the physical layer from the phone and cable companies, and lease access to anyone that wants to provide voice, video or data service. We stop running redundant cables, we stop letting service providers leverage their networks to strongarm their customers, and we stop letting them use their existing regional monopolies to lock out competition.

If we did roads the way we do data, you'd need to sign a five year contract and agree to have the roads around your house torn up and rebuilt to shop at Target instead of Walmart.

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." -- Albert Einstein

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