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Comment: No, but yes (Score 3, Interesting) 135

by pmontra (#48396659) Attached to: Can the US Actually Cultivate Local Competition in Broadband?

Due to a well known law of headlines I'd reply No, but if you copy Europe the answer will be Yes. In this case Europe has the advantage of a fragmented market. Different countries, different languages, different operators and different regulations led to competition. No pan-European monopolist.

I don't know if this is widespread (I think it is) but where I live (Italy) unbundling is mandatory and we have new operators using the cables of the former monopolist. In some areas the former monopolist is using the cables of newer companies. There are at least three different fiber networks, unfortunately not particularly fast. 100 Mb/s download and 10 Mb/s upload is the norm for fiber (ADSL goes up to 20 or 30 Mbps with the usual caveats of that technology). I got the feeling that the operators agreed to settle on that and save some money. Fiber was at 10/10 Mb/s 14 years ago. Competiion is never enough.

So, I don't recommend breaking up the US and switching to lots of different languages :-) but maybe you might break down your monopolists, create operators at state level and force unbundling. I read what happened to the Baby Bells and it seems that it worked well for a while. Do it again and by 2020 you'll evaluate what happened and adapt the legislation.

Comment: Re:Desparate Microsoft pulls a "Sun Microsystems" (Score 1) 524

by pmontra (#48369097) Attached to: Microsoft To Open Source<nobr> <wbr></nobr>.NET and Take It Cross-Platform

Maybe not too little, but yes, it's too late. They should have embraced and estinguished the other platforms when they had a virtual monopoly on both the desktop and the server. In the late 90s it was common to write Java web applications and make them run on Windows NT 3.51 and 4.0. Enterprises were comfortable with Windows and were wary of Linux (unproven technology). It took over in the 2000s.

About being it too little: are they going to port Visual Studio to OS X and Linux?

Comment: Won't watch (Score 1) 242

by pmontra (#48366753) Attached to: HBO Developing Asimov's Foundation Series As TV Show

I read the Dune books when I was a kid and loved them. I watched the Dune movie and regretted it. Damage being done, I watched the Dune 3 episode serial years later and that was bearable but I learnt not to watch movies based on books I loved. Their images will prevail on my imagined faces and worlds and this is not good. Furthermore they can hardly improve on something that I already considered very good.

That's why I didn't watch the Lord of the Rings, or The Hobbit, or Ender's Game and probably many other movies.

However I watched Bladerunner way before knowing it was taken from a book. I was too young to know about Philip Dick yet. Years later I read the book and was positively amazed about the duality between the book and the movie. Still don't know which one is better but they can coexist because of the differences. For sure the movie's images are stronger the the book's ones in my mind.

Comment: Re:More factors to normalise out. (Score 2) 217

by pmontra (#48318485) Attached to: The Effect of Programming Language On Software Quality

There are only a few ten of thousand cars in the world that have to solve a win-the-race problem. Most of cars must solve the problem go-buying-something-at-the-shopping-center. An Honda Civic wins that race easily against an Indy Car especially if you buy a week's worth of stuff.

Computer analogy: programs written in not so efficient languages can win races to delivery and keep their business alive. An example: GitHub.

Comment: Re:So what's the problem with that? (Score 1) 179

by pmontra (#48102833) Attached to: Eric Schmidt: Anxiety Over US Spying Will "Break the Internet"

Obviously that data center would be virtual. My point was: why should we jail data in a country if any agency from around the world can still crack into it over the Internet? To make that measure effective we must prevent people from connecting to a data center in another county, service owners included. They must fly there or hire somebody living there. The service will be partitioned by country with no exchange of data whatsoever. Feasible but costly for Google, impossible for any small startup. A consequence: want to send email from the USA to somebody in Germany. Sorry, no route to host. Want to post to /. from Germany? Sorry, no route to host unless /. has a German site which you won't be able to reach from the USA. That's what I call to "break the Internet". Disclaimer: I don't like that future and I'm not advocating it.

Actually Google and the other big companies might even like it because it will destroy competition from below. They won't mind creating branch offices around the world with local data centers (and code distribution by planes) if it's the only way to keep doing business.

Comment: Re:So what's the problem with that? (Score 1) 179

by pmontra (#48102255) Attached to: Eric Schmidt: Anxiety Over US Spying Will "Break the Internet"

I'm afraid it's a problem for all of us. I quote TFA:

If a two-person startup had to build a data center in Germany just to serve customers there, it would never get off the ground, he said.

That won't prevent NSA (or anybody else) from breaching into that data center from the Internet and keep spying. The only thing that would force them to actually send operatives in Germany is to literally break the Internet. So you won't be able to get to Germany from the USA and vice versa. No connection, not even like international phone calls used to be 50 years ago.

Google could adapt, the two person startup will be limited to the country they live into. Maybe if they are in Germany they'll be able to access the whole EU.

Do I believe we will get to this? I don't, but some countries might do it. Actually, there are already countries that reduce their citizens' access the the global Internet. Spying can be an excuse to cut it off completely.

Comment: Re:The water wars are coming (Score 1) 151

by pmontra (#48038267) Attached to: Aral Sea Basin Almost Completely Dry

Before evaporating away most of that water is going into cotton fields in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, diverted from the Amu Darya river into a network of channels. Turkmens are also building lakes in the desert. The latest news I found about that are here.

As someone already wrote in a comment here, "too many meatbags on the planet", water can't be left alone.

Comment: Re:Are you exposing customers? (Score 1) 159

by pmontra (#48014251) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Software Issue Tracking Transparency - Good Or Bad?

You have more than a point. The second one is that your competitors will get a good list of your customers and they'll target them, which is probably not what you want. Granted, most companies have a customers list on their web site but not so detailed to include contact names and email addresses.

Maybe the bug tracker must be somewhat anonymized: expose names but not emails and don't allow signatures.

Comment: Re:Sanitizing comments, trolls, first to market (Score 2) 159

by pmontra (#48014225) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Software Issue Tracking Transparency - Good Or Bad?

Yes, having long standing bugs unfixed in public is bad PR and who points a finger at them is not necessarily a troll. They are pointing to a truth. If a company has a public bug tracker it must be prepared to explain the reasons for any won't fix. Furthermore I suggest that at least the first answer to any new bug is NOT left to developers. Developers should help in the triage phase but leave customer management personnel deal with customers. Let developers in only later on or find some developer who is good at dealing with customers. Sometimes one wrong word can alienate a whole bunch of customers. Don't risk that.

Anyway a public bug tracker is not only a liability but also a weapon against competitors. Your marketing team can start addressing customers along these lines: "OK, we've got 1,000 bugs and 100 open ones but that's all we have and you can see what's going on, our estimate of when they'll be fixed and decide if any of those bugs is a show stopper for you. Compare this with our Competitor X. How can you know how many bugs they have on their internal bug tracker? Do they have a bug tracker? Do they have any show stopper waiting for you in their code? Are they going to fix it? Can you trust their word when they don't release public information about the state of their product?"

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not "Eureka!" (I found it!) but "That's funny ..." -- Isaac Asimov