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Comment: Questions, suggestions... (Score 1) 185

by jbroom (#47140919) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Taking a New Tack On Net Neutrality?

Could you clarify a little what is currently happening? Based on some of the comments it seems that everyone has a different idea of what is CURRENTLY going on:
-The take I have is that you're saying that for now you've just been asked to EXPLORE POSSIBILITIES (ie, it's free unfestered access for now).
-I'm also a little confused regarding the court order blockages at the request of various copyright holders. Can you give examples of what is being done, how, why, when...? (refrain from giving names to protect the guil^H^H^H^Hinnocent copyright holders for fear of backlash).
-You indicate aprox 15k apartments across America. How are you giving access? Are these large residential complexes with a centralized large "pipe" to the 'net at each location and you have some sort of equivalent to a corporate campus-type distribution network? Do you have regular residential-grade ADSL modem things and they are individual apartments? A mixture of each? Can you give some insight?

As for the "lets charge the commercial service providers to access our network", it's very much the same argument that the larger ISPs want to use to justify elimination of net-neutrality, and giving better/speedier access to those providers that pay. From a PERSONAL view, I can't see why an ISP shouldn't have the RIGHT to decide which services it throttles or which it prioritizes, however I DO see it as an opportunity for ISP's to differentiate themselves from others "hey, come to us, we will make sure you have equal access to everything as opposed to ISP-non-neutral which makes it succky-slow for you to access google-youtube".
Those ISP's wanting to throttle/speed up depending who pays them more are (in my view) shooting themselves in the foot if they actually do it. It would only really work if they ALL do it, but if it's ALL of them, then they could be collectively accused of collusion or market-fixing...

Even if your management "says" that they are trying to get some money for it because they are providing it for free, they currently are NOT. If they are charging a fixed price which includes rent, taxes, water, electricity, laundry-room facilities, pool, library, parking-lot etc.... then the rent is paying for the total of all of those services. Internet access is a small part of that, but it IS a part. Management should figure out what their cost is and factor that into their calculations. Trying to sell access to your students for internet service providers wouldn't get big bucks in any case... You may get a bigger chunk trying to sell (for junk snail-mail advertising) the whole list/address of students updated on a regular basis (more bang for your buck!) than actually having to implement the limitations that you seem to imply (hard to do a complete BLOCKAGE of places like amazon -as you say- without suffering severe backlash, and clients either getting alternative providers, or converting your service in irrelevant).

Comment: Different views should NOT be treated equally (Score 2) 667

by jbroom (#46551443) Attached to: Creationists Demand Equal Airtime With 'Cosmos'

The problem we have is that "political correctness" is too entrenched in the Creationism vs Evolution battle, and that PC-ness dictates "everything/everyone should be treated equally and fairly". All fine for "fairness" (how to define it is another matter), but ideas/opinions are NOT people, and thus do not have some sort of right...
Let me give an example which exagerates the point:
Lets say that I have this belief that 2+2 = 5, and this differs from mainstream thought that 2+2=4 (except where pentium processors are involved where it is 3.9997, but that's a different matter).
I start complaining that my opinion/theory/belief/religion (how you want to define the credence of 2+2=5 is perhaps the crux) is NOT being given equal time in maths classes across the country.
Am I justified in demanding equal time?
Perhaps it is justified to teach it as an alternative school of philosophy (supposing that philosophy classes typically talk about different schools of thought, and they will present those most widely seen -if of course my 2+2=5 gains traction), however, to teach it in a MATHS class where we are talking about mathematical proofs, or at most teaching theories that have not been MATHEMATICALLY deemed unlikely, would probably be .... crazy?
In the same way, evolution is science. creationism is religion. Trying to push creationism into the realm of science, would demand applying the scientific method to it, the same as trying to push 2+2=5ism into maths would demand applying mathematical principals into it.
We're talking about science. You may not like it, but the world works on science (as opposed to praying on religion).
Equal time for kooky opinions vs science fact is not fair. Just in the same way that flat-earth believers should not be given same time as round-world (or irregular sphericalists if you prefer).
Creationism is far-fetched and sustained by belief, which is very close to being the definition of religion. If you want to bring it into the realm of science, then we get to the point of extraordinary claims demand extraordinary proof... Once we get that, then we can start talking about shifting mainstream. Meanwhile, keep it in literal-reading bible schools of thought, which is where it belongs.
All the above is very opinionated. My opinion.

Comment: Telefonica known for "caching" (Score 1) 251

by jbroom (#44665345) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Diagnose Traffic Throttling and Work Around It?

For what it's worth, Telefónica is notorious for doing LOTS of testing different ways of throttling, caching, blocking, accelerating etc... (and not being that "great" at it)
The general INTENT is not "omg, they want to block me from doing things!!!", but rather they are trying to save/optimize on bandwidth. As far as I know, they have at times been known to block SOME traffic they consider "voice" as it comes in conflict with their main business line, but mostly this has been tried and then stopped as it generated more headaches than cash.
With all the caching/accelerating, etc, a LOT of times they mess up with ICMP packs which handle testing MTU, in conjunction with changing the actual MTU of the links, the result of this is that your kit sends larger blocks than the links can handle and then they get mashed/munged during fragmentation/reassembly. And the consequence of that is that a lot of "real" packets don't get through (often the ones on or around the *perceived* MTU limit), so your data then behaves as if it was working on a VERY lossy link (imagine around 40%+ packet loss...). You won't see problems with a regular ping, but you may if you check with ping sizes around the MTU limit.
At other times, as Telefónica is trying to optimize using DPI (deep packet inspection) to check what protocol is being used, they may not correctly recognize your traffic and thus munge it in someway. Effectively acting as a throttle, but not because they actually "want" to throttle.
What can you do about it? Not much, because all of this is handled by the inner sanctum of the tech-priests and they don't communicate with mere mortals such as tech support of commercial reps, there's no way to get through...
With a regular residential grade link, the attitude from Telefonica is "take it or leave it as-is, we don't care, this is what we give". In general they are valid for the purpose, but if you want business grade quality AND the possibility of complaining (and being heard), you need to get a business grade link (ie ditch Speedy and get info-internet at 5x the price with 1/4 the speed).
It's nice to WANT to notch it up to "they are throttling me" or "NSA is spying on me" and any other conspiracy theory, but once you mention Telefonica it's more a case of "Do not attribute to malice that which can be explained by incompetence".
(and yes, NSA is probably spying on you ANYWAY...).
The above come from a lot of experience with different telco's, a lot of contact with people inside telefonica and seeing how telefonica operates in quite a few countries (including Spain and Peru). Just take it as face value, I'm not trying to prove a point. If it helps great... if not, well, good luck with other venues...
My $0.02

Software

Preserving Virtual Worlds 122

Posted by Soulskill
from the how-will-they-play-starcon-2-in-2150 dept.
The Opposable Thumbs blog has an interview with Jerome McDonough of the University of Illinois, who is involved with the Preserving Virtual Worlds project. The goal of the project is to recognize video games as cultural artifacts and to make sure they're accessible by future generations. Here McDonough talks about some of the technical difficulties in doing so: "Take, for example, Star Raiders on the Atari 2600. If you're going to preserve this, you've got a couple of problems. The first is that it is on a cartridge that is designed to work on a particular system that is no longer manufactured. And as long as you've got a hardware dependency there, you're really not going to be able to preserve this material very long. What we have been looking at is how feasible is it for things that fundamentally all have some level of hardware dependency there — even Doom has dependencies on DLLs with an operating system, and on particular chipsets and architectures for playing. How do you take that and turn it into something that isn't as dependent on a particular physical piece of hardware. And to do that, you need information about that platform. You need technical specifications that allow you to basically reproduce a virtualization that may enable you to run the software in its original form in the future. So what we're trying to do is preserve not only the games, but preserve the knowledge that you would need to create a virtualization platform to play the game."
Businesses

Best Places To Work In IT 2010 205

Posted by kdawson
from the wish-you-were-here dept.
CWmike writes "These top-rated IT workplaces combine choice benefits with hot technologies and on-target training. Computerworld's 17th annual report highlights the employers firing on all cylinders. The Employer Scorecard ranks IT firms based on best benefits, retention, training, diversity, and career development. Also read what IT staffs have to say about job satisfaction. How's your workplace, IT folk?" Read below for a quick look at the top 10 IT workplaces according to this survey.
Science

Israeli Scientists Freeze Water By Warming It 165

Posted by timothy
from the you-must-become-the-frozen-water dept.
ccktech writes "As reported by NPR and Chemistry world, the journal Science has a paper by David Ehre, Etay Lavert, Meir Lahav, and Igor Lubomirsky [note: abstract online; payment required to read the full paper] of Israel's Weizmann Institute, who have figured out a way to freeze pure water by warming it up. The trick is that pure water has different freezing points depending on the electrical charge of the surface it resides on. They found out that a negatively charged surface causes water to freeze at a lower temperature than a positively charged surface. By putting water on the pyroelectric material Lithium Tantalate, which has a negative charge when cooler but a positive change when warmer; water would remain a liquid down to -17 degrees C., and then freeze when the substrate and water were warmed up and the charge changed to positive, where water freezes at -7 degrees C."

Comment: Give us more information (Score 1) 180

by jbroom (#29764463) Attached to: Affordably Aggregating ISP Connections?

What exactly are you trying to achieve?
Some scenarios:
A) remote to central with 2 ISP's at remote with "cheap regular" DSL type connection going to central where there is a "big fat pipe" (multihomed?)
A.1) a one of for a single remote .2) something repeatable for multiple remotes
B) remote to central with 2 ISP's as A) and with (same?) 2 ISP's at central (also B.1 & B.2) as above).

Do we have any fixed public IP addresses anywhere in the equation (or is this out of budget too)?
In all cases in which direction is the data flowing mainly?
Also, what is the purpose mainly here? Getting higher speed? Higher redundancy? Less latency (hah!) ?
> The hardware solutions I've found are expensive for a small business
Can you define expensive, what type of price is out of it (both for hardware and for links)?

I would GUESS that the end result needed is to connect LAN-1 to LAN-2 , so it doesn't HAVE to "look" as a single channel for the routers involved, just that the paths
aggregate and are redundant... But a bit more information would be appreciated!

Comment: This is only part of the equation. (Score 2, Interesting) 198

by jbroom (#28805329) Attached to: East Africa Gets High-Speed Internet Access Via Undersea Cable

All the East coast of Africa has up to now been severeley lacking in possibilities of connectivity, and has had to make do with satellite links which are high latency and expensive (a DEDICATED satlink of 1Mb up and 1Mb down is in the ballpark range of around $10,000 per month, yes ten-THOUSAND per MONTH).
The West coast has had the SAT-3 cable for a while (2001), with a total capacity of 120Gbit/s (according to Wikipedia). Most of that lands and gets used up in SouthAfrica and in Nigeria. South Africa is in a decent situation because they have a country-wide distribution network that lets them hand off the network to most places. In Nigeria, however, try getting a connection on the SAT-3 outside of Lagos...
The problem throughout Africa is not only that of lack of backbone country-to-internet connectivity, but actually that of a decent distribution network within the country itself.
It's of little use to land a multi-gig cable at a certain place if then you don't have the infrastructure to re-distribute it. Maybe a chicken and egg situation... No backbone, so no point in building local distribution. No local distribution, so no point in building a backbone...
Nigeria is arguably the 2nd most developed country in Africa (After S.A.), and if you want a link outside of Lagos, your best bet is to go for a satlink. In fact, even INSIDE of Lagos, ISP's use sat-link bandwidth because of the instabilities of using Nitel to get to the SAT-3 landing station. So, if the 2nd most developed country has had a sub-link for 8 yrs and can't get the signal distributed, how long do you think it's going to take for this new cable to actually start making waves?
I'm betting it's mainly going to be used in the short term for South Africa (will drop prices for them!), and for the rest of the countries will serve to carry voice from the main hubs of the cellphone operators...
So to give an idea of how things happen in lesser developed countries:
-In Congo Democratic Republic, cellphone coverage is getting to be quite extensive (at least in the population centers), but if you make a phone call from Goma (eastern border) to the capital Kinshassa, your call goes over a satlink (no city to city connection). Even worse, if you call a friend/colleague also in Goma, but who happens to use a different operator, your call may actually make TWO hops: first sat-hop back to Kinshassa, then handed from one operator to the other, and then back over another sat-hop to Goma...
Think about it.

Patents

Touchpad Patent Holder Tsera Sues Just About Everyone 168

Posted by timothy
from the how-about-a-first-known-infringement-filing-deadline-link dept.
eldavojohn writes "Okay, well, maybe not everyone but more than twenty companies (including Apple, Qualcomm, Motorola and Microsoft) are being sued for a generic patent that reads: 'Apparatus and methods for controlling a portable electronic device, such as an MP3 player; portable radio, voice recorder, or portable CD player are disclosed. A touchpad is mounted on the housing of the device, and a user enters commands by tracing patterns with his finger on a surface of the touchpad. No immediate visual feedback is provided as a command pattern is traced, and the user does not need to view the device to enter commands.' Sounds like their may be a few companies using that technology. The suit was filed on July 15th in the favoritest place ever to file patent claim lawsuits: Texas Eastern District Court. It's a pretty classic patent troll; they've been holding this patent since 2003 and they just noticed now that everyone and his dog are using touchpads to control portable electronic devices."

Comment: Lots of variables... (Score 2, Insightful) 315

by jbroom (#26664449) Attached to: When To Consider Taking Shares In an IT Company?

There is no automatic "yeah this is great" or "nah, this is crap" answer. All those advising one way or another directly are jumping the gun like crazy.
Your big question 'should I stay or should I go now?' only has one answer: 'it depends'.
I've been in similar situations before and in some cases taken shares, in others preferred to take more wages, in others left.
From what you state, the company is "a small IT consulting firm" and you are "a key resource". I think the important information that you're telling us is that the company is SMALL (5-10 people tops?) and that you are one of the key guys.
If taking 10% is equivalent to now considering you as a partner with a say, then now you have "clout" and will be regarded maybe in a different way.
Obviously you want to place a "value" on these shares. Does the company make a profit each year that they turn around and share with the partners? If so, how much has that been... If instead, all they do is adjust top salaries to what company makes (as happens with a lot of companies), then no dividends are paid out. In this case, does your also get adjuested? At what level? If you are made an equal partner on consideration (even if not on shares), will your salary now be on equal par to the others?. Being a "small company" probably means that it will stay privately owned, and never be sold, as such, your 10% probably won't ever have a decent "sale" value, so that part will not be worth much (if anything), unless the company has a declared monetary value, and thus the 10% can actually be redeemed for something... but for that you'd want guarantees in writing that it would be possible to sell at some point in the future.
A downside to "being a partner" is also that often now your guarantee of salary goes to the pits. I'll explain. As a "grunt" worker, you expect your salary as the company isn't yours. The owners generally (if they care at all about their employees), will first pay employee salaries before paying themselves. As an "owner", if hard times hit, you may find yourself with a salary that although on paper your still getting it, in reality you get what is left over... (anything missing considered to be "owed" to you by company, to be paid when [if?] things improve... after all, it "doesn't matter as it's your company after all!!!"].
You also mention that "I was ready to quit for consulting". So, you want to quit this small consulting company and go set up one yourself of your own? Well, if you are one of the key resources, maybe you are better off with your own company than having 10% of one shared with another 90%...
As mentioned above, it all depends... Conditions being special to your particular company, what the outlook is, what consideration you get for your shares, how that affects salary, if the value of shares is actually tangible down the road, etc. Impossible to tell without knowing more, but at least those are the things you should be factoring in to see if you want it or not.
Oh, and of course, the first question of all "are you comfortable with the company?" If not, then your choice is clear in any case.
$0.02

The University of California Statistics Department; where mean is normal, and deviation standard.

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