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Comment Re:A turd by any other name (Score 2) 317

                Go, tell the Spartans, thou who passest by,
                That here obedient to their laws we lie.

                Stranger, go tell the men of Lacedaemon
                That we, who lie here, did as we were ordered.

                Stranger, bring the message to the Spartans that here
                We remain, obedient to their orders.

                Oh foreigner, tell the Lacedaemonians
                That here we lie, obeying those words.

Comment Re:The US doesn't need to be taught (Score 1) 80

I cannot speak to Canadian regulations, but down in the US it would be very hard for one wireless carrier to "wipe out the competition", since the FCC auctions for wireless bandwidth were specifically set up so that there were two winners for each service area. It was a design goal that there be competition.


Cell phone service is hardly a monopoly in any sense of the word, neither is streaming video service. What it actually was was a company saying "I can provide this to you cheaper because of vertical integration". Vertical integration is how many companies cut costs, and it doesn't create a monopoly.

When you can get fiber-grade bandwidth and comparable monthly data volumes from wireless at a competitive price let me know. Otherwise, this is a red-herring because you're comparing apples (wireless) with oranges (wired broadband).

Sure the provider video services don't add to peering costs, but the video customers still use a large portion of the bandwidth on the provider's shared infrastructure, from the last mile to the provider's data centre. Those costs (capital financing for equipment and fiber deployment, operations, maintenance) are being disproportionately paid for by the other customers who don't get a sweetheart deal on bandwidth, and that will be the same in the USA as well.

Comment Re:The US doesn't need to be taught (Score 2) 80

No, I expected the telecom company to simply start treating the data fairly. And several of the mobile companies did just that.

I bet the people who used to have unlimited streaming of telecom-provided feeds are just all warm and fuzzy that they now have a cap.

Well, since the traditional behaviour of telecoms is that, once they've eliminated the competition, they raise their prices and rent-seek, if the telecoms had been allowed to wipe out the competition then those "unlimited" plans would have suddenly become a lot more expensive. And that is a very real risk because content is licensed per country, so that as, let's say, Netflix's user base dwindled, it would lose economies of scale in licensing content to its Canadian customer base and have a harder time providing a competitive catalog. The Canadian Netflix already has a significantly smaller selection than the US service because the Canadian audience is smaller, limiting its licence purchasing power.

To also address your point about the users of the unlimited service being sad, their unlimited service was effectively a (substantial) discount, subsidised by every other user of the same common infrastructure. That was in effect very much a parallel to abusing monopoly power in market to obtain monopoly power in another, although the monopoly power actually was monopoly in one segment (cable vs. ADSL) of the consumer data services market.

It provides an incentive to the mobile companies to raise their caps.

So your answer should have been "Yes, I expect the companies to lift their caps." What good is incentive to do so if you don't expect them to do so in return? And how does this help the former unlimited-data user who was consuming only telecom streams -- he's still wound up with a cap, and he's now going to have to worry about paying extra.

Yep, he's lost the (ephermeral) benefits that he was obtaining at the expense of every other user of the common infrastructure, and which he would have paid for in higher subscription fees as soon as the telco was satisfied their service was sufficently dominant to present high barriers to entry for any potential competitors. Because they've proved over and over again that that is exactly the kind of market they like - one where they can command margins that you wouldn't get in a competitive market.

It may have no impact, but at least all services are on an equal playing field.

Why shouldn't services that cost less to provide cost less to the consumer, even if it's just a little bit less? All services are not equal cost.

Because the service cost difference in entertainment media is negligible. What the telcos were doing was subsidising the bandwidth cost of their media content users and spreading the cost to all their other users, who often didn't have alternative ISP choices.

Comment Re:Why is he worried (Score 1) 583

Yep, and sadly with an increasing amount of citizens in the USA who believe that government is becoming too secular and want more religious involvement in politics, it's pretty easy to see what segment of the population he's appealing to. But why would he do this when he needs a certain amount of AI for achieving some of his goals? Maybe he wants to hobble his competition to give himself a chance to get a headstart, build up a good patent war chest and corner the market for a couple of decades. Or maybe he's been talking to Bill Joy too much.

The thing is that over the past 8 years, while we've still been doubling semiconductor density, we haven't been seeing the same level of power and speed increase from feature shrinks that we were benefiting from previously. That has significant implications for past projections of computing capacity used to predict the cross-over point for human-level AI.

Comment Re:The language in the old west (Score 1) 387

If someone in the old West walked up to your face and says hes going to rape your wife and kill you, why WOULDN'T you shoot them?

Well, just at a wild guess, if he's not a complete moron then he's probably already got you covered with a gun and will shoot you as soon as you look like you're reaching for a weapon.

Comment Re:So what you're telling me (Score 1) 146

Reset questions - how to turn a semi-effective security system into something that can be hacked by anybody (even Matthew Broderick :-) ) willing to do simple research into your background using publicly-available information. Usually added by systems where the owner doesn't want to hire enough trusted staff to help with password reset.

Most of the time you're better off putting random noise in there that can't be guessed to disable the functionality. It gets really annoying when 2 or 3 typo'd attempts force you to answer those questions, rather than using an exponentially increasing delay timer.

Comment Re: Yeah ... but ... it's true. (Score 1) 267

Yeah, I misread his post. Never mind my parent post as it's inanely wrong.

It could be that they are deliberately depreciating their assets faster, but it's more likely that the increased SG&A costs are due to costs in ramping up their sales network beyond California. There will be significant startup costs in building out all those Tesla sales centers (not to mention fighting court battles and lobbying over their legality due to laws favouring dealerships). If they rent the sales locations (and if the Vancouver location on Robson is a typical location, then they must be renting) then many of the setup costs are going to be SG&A or CAPEX with a very short depreciation lifetime compared to property or production line equipment (which means large but short-term depreciation expenses in SG&A). The recurring rental costs will be SG&A too. However those costs can still be substantial to project the luxury image they want for the Model S, and they can opt to move to less pricey locations after a few years, once they've established mind-share through road presence thanks to early adopters.

Tesla don't have the benefit that Toyota had with its pre-existing network of dealerships when it launched the Prius. The Sales Centers are an attempt to establish a national sales presence on the cheap, but building even that is expensive. They say that it normally takes over a year for a restaurant to build up a clientele and become profitable. It shouldn't be surprising that car companies take an even longer investment, because people tend to be pretty conservative when it comes to buying durable goods like cars. Targetting for the niche upscale luxury market, where image is a major factor and can be obtained through some high-profile early adopters, is an interesting strategy for keeping their costs low during the slow process of gaining widespread mindshare. It's still an incredibly long and expensive process but we should be seeing the SG&A expenses plateau as their NA and European sales networks get established. It looks like they've got pretty good coverage now for the large city markets where the Model S can be sold, but they will need to add another bunch of locations in smaller markets as they ramp up to sell the more affordable model 3.

Comment Re: Yeah ... but ... it's true. (Score 1) 267

Maybe he can read income statements just fine.

Depreciation is the devaluing of Assets (usually to represent wear and tear, obsolescence, and so on). What the GP is talking about are Capital Expenditures. Now as you add to your asset base, your depreciation will increase, but only by the same percentage increase that your capex adds to the assets of the company.

From wikipedia: "An ongoing question for the accounting of any company is whether certain expenses should be capitalized or expensed. Costs which are expensed in a particular month simply appear on the financial statement as a cost incurred that month. Costs that are capitalized, however, are amortized or depreciated over multiple years. Capitalized expenditures show up on the balance sheet."

Maybe you should learn how to read balance sheets?

Comment Re:Competition is good. (Score 1) 211

I went through a couple of iterations of that post and hemmed and hawed about which way to go on the efficiency front, because there are pros and cons. As 0123456 points out, if you're trying to put things into orbit cheaply, a simpler and less efficient design can bring about big cost savings. On the other hand, as you point out, efficiency is really important if you want more delta-v to reach higher orbits.

Nasa was probably very focused on engine efficiency for two reasons 1) if you want to reach escape velocity for planetary missions, heck even geo-synch, then you need more efficient engines or more stages [with more chances one will fail] and 2) the US Armed Forces had a big hand in the design envelope of NASA launch equipment - most notably in the winged design of the shuttle to allow for high speed re-entry maneuvers - and the military wants efficiency because high delta-v is necessary to outrun/outfight hostiles.

Use of the shuttle for U.S. launches was mandated because the military wanted the private sector to help subsidize the super-expensive shuttle launch infrastructure. As competition from Ariane and Russia made that less viable to the point that the policy had to be abandoned, then US competition opened up for providing vehicles that better matched commercial needs, rather than military ones. It had nothing to do with public vs. private sector efficiency and everything to do with military requirements being imposed on all launches (including the majority of launches that had no need for those "requirements") and established players playing politics for legislative capture under the guise of national security.

Which is yet another reason why you should always be really suspicious whenever someone uses national security as rationale for black budgets and secrecy. It's really easy to abuse national security as a pretext for covering nefarious activities.

Comment Re:No miracles (Score 1) 211

When you're throwing engines away every time, and they make up a large fraction of the cost of a launch, a low-cost engine that burns 10% more fuel can be a massive win.

That depends on what orbit you're trying to reach and how much delta-V it requires. If you're trying to launch commercial satellites into low earth orbit or replenish the ISS (also in LEO), then you can throw fuel at the problem. When you try to reach geo-synch or past it, then efficiency is a must.

What SpaceX have done so far is pick the low to medium-height hanging fruit. Good for them. What's their capability for launching good sized comm-satellites into geo-synch? or Voyager/Galileo type interplanetary probes?

Comment Re:Competition is good. (Score 4, Insightful) 211

As someone pointed out, the physics of building rocket engines hasn't significantly changed in the last 60 years. That's why the F1 engine is still the most powerful rocket we've ever designed. What has changed are manufacturing techniques like sintering laser 3D printing techniques and computer modeling to allow us to build F1 engines that are slightly more powerful and a lot cheaper than what was built for Apollo. And yet somehow we don't build them. Why? Because there's no demand for it.

There has been a lot of demand for faster, more agile, and more fuel efficient aviation - from combat aircraft for wars to civil aviation in the face of rising fuel prices. That pressure isn't as significant for the launch market because: a) there are only so many safe, useful orbits for satellites where they aren't going to interfere with eachother (in terms of signal transmission - which is what many are used for) and a lot of them are already in use; b) fuel costs are a small portion of launch costs.

So the moral of the story is a) development happens according to demand and changing requirements/conditions and b) supply-side economics is BS - consumption is limited by demand.

Comment Re:If anyone actually cared... (Score 1) 710

Yeah but with laser sintering 3D printing, it becomes much easier to build parts on demand. So I think it will take some time, but the parts distribution problem will be solved soon. Not only that but you could buy the planned-obsolescence object take it apart and scan the parts, and replace them with longer-lasting parts as they break down from wear-and-tear. The only question is, if you've bought a patent-protected part and it breaks down because it was made cheaply, can you manufacture your own replacement because you have purchased the original (poorly-made) part, implying a patent licence for that part (and potential replacements) in that machine. What you need is a legislative change to allow that, which is likely to be the tough part because everybody with entrenched interests will fight it.

Comment Re:Or, we could just be playing a game (Score 1) 212

Exactly. Note that there is a scientific study that indicates this appears to be the case with trolls in Internet commenting systems. So it's not exactly a big leap of faith to expect that PvP adherents, displaying similar aggressive behaviour for the "fun" of being aggressive and controlling, have similar tendencies. The big question, as the AC above indicates, is whether trolling, PvP, and violent video games act as an outlet for those urges and help control them or whether they feed and exacerbate them.

A decade ago, I had fun playing Quake III Arena death matches with other members of the development team, and I'm anti-sadistic, not at all Machiavellian, and pretty average when it comes to psychopathic behaviour. It was pretty easy to discern between the game and real life and treat it as an entertaining sport. So I think that even with the more realistic graphics in contemporary games, it's quite possible for normal people to make that distinction. The real question is whether psychopaths would prefer not to make that distinction, pretend the game is real, and in doing so aggravate their condition?

Mass and serial killers often have a history of serious animal abuse, which later escalates into even more serious human-oriented behaviour. So while enjoying bullying through virtualized violence in video games likely isn't a sufficient condition for the escalation of psychopathic behaviour to physical violence, it may prove to be a useful warning sign or even a catalyst in conjunction with other factors. Another significant factor for instance maybe whether the community of enthusiasts tends to and reinforces a distancing, demeaning, psychopathic attitude towards other players and "newbs", or maintains a more sportive approach. The recent Isla Vista shooting by the former PUA and PUAhate adherent Elliot Rodger seems to indicate this is a good candidate for a co-factor.

Comment Re:Russia (Score 1) 417

That's already the case in summer and it's only going to get worse with Climate Change. Having to switch between water, ice, water, land for your supply lines for 1/3 of the year isn't really good for transporting large quantities of supplies (or you can run ships from port to port around what's left of the shrinking ice cap during those months). As you pointed out, the "permafrost" now thaws during the summer, and that is going to cause an issue for heavy transports in supply lines once they hit the mainland. I suppose the oil companies may build a service road if they wind up needing to build a pipeline North because they don't get permission to go in any of the other populated directions. If that existed then the Russians could use it.

For all the issues with Siberian permafrost, there is still a railway that goes across it (the Trans-Siberian), and you can move a lot of materiel on that. It was, after all, a major supply line for allied hardware being sent to Russia to help take on the Germans in WWII. There's no reason why that couldn't be used to send a lot of stuff in the other direction. The major issue is that it would be pretty easy to bomb with modern airplanes and cruise missiles, however I would think that would go double for any supply route and depots on the Arctic ice cap.

If Russia invaded Canada, then the NATO defence pact would come into effect, so they may as well go through Alaska and take control of the oil fields there while they're at it. But as someone else pointed out there isn't much road infrastructure across Alaska so it would be easier to just go around it and debark in Hyder.

To do two things at once is to do neither. -- Publilius Syrus