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+ - FCC warned not to take actions a Republican-led FCC would dislike->

Submitted by tlhIngan
tlhIngan (30335) writes "Municipal broadband is in the news again — this time Chief of Staff Matthew Berry, speaking at the National Conference of State Legislatures, has endorsed states' right to ban municipal broadband networks and warned the (Democrat-led) FCC to not do anything that a future Republican led FCC would dislike. The argument is that municipal broadband discourages private investment in broadband communications, that taxpayer-funded projects are barriers to future infrastructure investment."
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Comment: Re:The song says (Score 1) 27

by tlhIngan (#47723245) Attached to: How Game Developers Turn Kickstarter Failure Into Success

But the fact that 7200 games failed to hit their goal doesn't mean anything by itself. Maybe they were horrible at "selling" their idea, or had unrealistic financial goals, or kickstarted too soon, etc.

Or too ambitious.

I participated in two projects that had four kickstarters - two failed, two succeeded. Each project had one failed (the first one) and one success, on the same project.

The difference was easy - the failed ones were too ambitious - too much pie in the sky and too broad a scope. So when they failed, the went away, thought things through, then a few months later, they re-launched with a narrower scope, more focused product, etc.

They simply took the reasons for failure to heart, redesigned things around, tried to cut back on what they were offering and narrowed things down to the point where they could ask for less money (you're far more likely to succeed if you only need a couple hundred thousand than a million), make timelines more realistic, focus the presentation on more specifics and give a general "yes, we can do it" sense of realism.

And to be honest, 1-in-4 success is fairly high, I've seen fairly terrible Kickstarters that amount to "look at what I programmed in a day! Give me money!"

Comment: Re:Bad Study (Score 1) 496

by tlhIngan (#47721299) Attached to: Study: Ad-Free Internet Would Cost Everyone $230-a-Year

A good study would provide a description of what the internet would look like without ads. My intuition is that I'd be just fine with the only content available being content that did not seek a revenue stream. I thought the internet was better back then anyway.

It's also a pointless study because it's never going to happen. I'd guess the only reason it was done is to support the idea that ad blockers and no script are "bad". Oh wait it was conducted by an ad platform.

It's basically a study that shows how much revenue per user a web site can get.

It's also completely impractical because when you add in the costs of actually transacting, it'll far outweigh the $230 a year. I mean, even if everyone basically replaced their ads with paid content gateways, just managing all the payments and such will easily add quite a bit to it. I visit a webpage once, the page gets 1 cent for the visit, but to process that payment would add another 50 cents to that mix.

I visit /. daily and perhaps it generates $20/year, which is easy to manage subscription wise since transactions would just add a few more cents on top of that.

Then there's the whole payment system thing. You think each website can manage their own payment scheme? Think of the ripe opportunities for hacking and downloading the payment databases. Companies with interests in keeping private data private can't do it. Imagine Joe Schmoe with a blog - is he going to care that someone downloads his database?

I'm not so sure about a "good internet" back then - having used it since 1995, I can say until the .com boom, researching wasn't all that much different - you still headed to the library to use books and encyclopaedias (no Wikipedia), if you needed to download a driver you had to write (longhand) to the company and they'd send you a disk for $5 and return postage (and wait a couple of weeks), etc.

Comment: Re:The memo you are about to see (Score 1) 158

by tlhIngan (#47721199) Attached to: Calif. Court Rules Businesses Must Reimburse Cell Phone Bills

Which is the whole point. The company gives explicit instructions that personal cell phones are not to be used or authorized. You have to find something alternative (pay phone, calling card, tin cans...). Now if you happen to still use your personal cell phone for a call, you're breaking policy. They won't know [wink wink] that you're using your personal cell phone for convenience unless you happen to try to get reimbursed for it. And if you try, well, that results in some type of reprimand/discipline since you violated company policy.

And the flip side is, it means if you're off the clock, you're not obligated to answer or make phone calls even if they schedule the meeting.

Because if you have to drive to a payphone (not unusual these days) then that incurs business mileage and time. And hey, those things are reimbursable now.

So if the business is too cheap to pay for that part of your expenses, then the flip side is if they need to make an off-hours call, participation is now completely optional

My dad was talking to their IT guys about BYOD and all that. His conclusion is he'd rather bring two phones than use a non-reimbursed personal phone. Or to use his work phone for personal (local) calls so the only thing it ends up costing is airtime. (It doesn't really matter that he went over - his business:home usage of that phone was like 99:1 or so and he consistently did hundreds of minutes every month).

Comment: Re:Sad we need to think about this, but we do. (Score 1) 285

Except that Apple did it on the encouragement of government, and it requires you to both have Find your IPhone turned on (i.e., you can disable the kill switch) and you to log into iCloud to actually do it.

Apple's kill switch consists of nothing more than two things - blocking operations that allow resale of the phone without a password, and allowing the ability to remote kill it.

The first prevents anyone from reloading the OS, disabling the use of the key, etc. without the appropriate account and password. This includes the option of clicking "Restore" in iTunes, using DFU mode (in an attempt to bypass this). This already limits the resale value because if you screw up the iPhone, you can't restore it - the instant you do, it'll demand the original iCloud account and password. If you put in a passcode where it wipes itself, the guy ends up with a brick - you can't restore it after not getting in.

The second lets you accelerate the process because if you click "wipe iPhone" it wipes the phone and it requires restoration. Which requires the password.

Hell, Apple should decouple the need for iCloud/Find my iPhone from this so you can have local protection only without a remote kill ability.

Comment: Re:Something in this? (Score 1) 104

by tlhIngan (#47716035) Attached to: Do Readers Absorb Less On Kindles Than On Paper? Not Necessarily

I think the problem isn't the kindle, it's what the kindle provides.

When you read a book, you pretty much read A book, because you generally only carried one instead of dozens as physical carrying capacity was a limited resource.

But with kindle, you can carry dozens of ebooks, and be in the middle of many of them at the same time. If anything, that leads to mass confusion from trying to keep all the plots straight.

If I kept reading one book at a time (I read on my iPad using iBooks, btw) I get the story just fine. But when I jump around a half dozen books, it gets confusing quick.

Comment: Re:Logged in to email? (Score 3, Informative) 115

by tlhIngan (#47714771) Attached to: 51% of Computer Users Share Passwords

Ah. I could have sworn that when I set up proper locking mechanisms on the phone that there wasn't any option to call. I just tried it again, though, and there is an "Emergency Call" text. For a test, I tried using my cell phone to call my work number and it said that this number wasn't an emergency number. My next question would be how would I specify certain emergency numbers? (This way, if my child has my phone and needs to call a relative that they know the number of, they can without having to know my unlock code and thus having full access to the phone.)

You can't.

The emergency call is for calling emergency numbers. It's a small list - 911, 999, 111, 122, etc. In fact, I think on modern cellphones, you can call ANY emergency number and it'll connect you to emergency services. So in North America, if you dial 999 (Europe emergency) you will connect with 911 automatically - the phone interprets the number as emergency and basically does a emergency dial (it's a special control code so the tower will kick someone off if it needs to in order to connect you).

It's not a huge list of numbers, and it's coded into the software as it has to recognize if you're calling emergency services and to place it as a high-priority call on the network.

And no, it doesn't include your relatives number - that's not the intent. The intent is to be able to make a call to emergency services regardless of lock screen status, service status, etc. (It's how those used cellphone charities work - they collect deactivated cellphones for people so they have a way to get to emergency services).

Comment: Re:How the Patent System Destroys Innovation (Score 2) 96

by tlhIngan (#47712391) Attached to: How Patent Trolls Destroy Innovation

Fixed that for you.

"Patent trolls" is a propaganda term. It implies that there's a right and wrong way to own patents. In reality it's just that: Owning patents. Patents are a monopoly on ideas. That's the problem.

Except there is nothing new. History repeats itself - we've been through these patent litigation storms for hundreds of years now. Probably amongst the earliest was the sewing machine where there were so many patents, and plenty of overlapping ones that it was impossible to make a sewing machine at all because there were just too many patents.

So Singer basically bought up all the patents - through force if necessary. And then they started licensing it to maufacturers to make sewing machines. If you had a patent, the consortium would basically crush you. (Effectively one of the first patent pools).

It repeats again for the automobile as well - so many innovations in such a short period of time that patent lawsuits were being filed all over the place.

And sure, it's computers this time around, but the tune's been the same for hundreds of years. And I'm certain there's been plenty of other patent wars.

And I won't say it stifles innovation - patents enhance innovations by getting people to be creative and work around them. I mean, if Apple's rounded corner patent didn't exist, Android would just be another iOS clone in the end. Instead, Google saw what they need to avoid it (it's a design patent, so ALL aspects must be copied) and realized as long as they don't have a grid of icons with a static bottom part, they're golden. Hence the app launcher and home screen (with widgets, getting rid of the grid of icons).

And stuff like patent pools also arose, because if you can't have something, people will actually try to find ways around that. Patents blocking the manufacture of sewing machines? Well, demand's there for the things, so there has to be a way around the current problem. Innovation!

If we didn't have it, we'd rapidly converge on uniformity as everyone just copies everyone else so in the end it's all identical in the end (because copying is faster cheaper easier than innovating).

Comment: Re:Photographic law precedence (Score 1) 195

by tlhIngan (#47706089) Attached to: Phoenix Introduces Draft Ordinance To Criminalize Certain Drone Uses

Perhaps empowering people to enforce for themselves: "to interfere with or damage a drone operating over your property or engaged in warrantless surveillence of your propertry, shall be a violation punishable by up to $1 for each occurence". Make it legal by making it illegal. Sort of a cheap drone-hunting license.

Except most creeper drones won't fly over your property - they'll really be "cameras on really really really tall ladders looking down". So your law wouldn't work because they'd fly around your property.

Comment: Re:The obvious /. question... (Score 4, Informative) 214

by tlhIngan (#47706033) Attached to: New HP Laptop Would Mean Windows at Chromebook Prices

Unfortunately, you're assuming they will adhere directly to the spec. I happen to have first hand experience at dealing with HP's horrible firmware and can say this will be among the most locked down PCs you can possibly own. Like putting in your own network card, 3G modem, or anything else? Not without HP's blessing you can't. Good at modifying a BIOS? Hope you can break their RSA 2048 bit lock they put in place...

it's not the spec, actually. Manufacturers are free to not give you the option of allowing non-secure boot or storing your own keys.

However, if you want to put a Designed for Microsoft Windows sticker on your laptop to show it's well, capable of running Windows, you MUST have the option. It's a requirement to have the Windows certification.

Comment: Re:Still... (Score 4, Informative) 190

by tlhIngan (#47703853) Attached to: C++14 Is Set In Stone

...using c. Although I do like to comment thusly, and so prefer a compiler that understands at least basic c++: // comment

I like to stay as close to the metal as I can get. I'd use assembler, but many of my projects are cross platform, so c it is.

End of Line terminated comments ("//") actually are in the C spec as part of C99. And while it did take GCC a little while for that to be accepted in C mode, most other commercial compilers accepted them just fine. (C++ is not completely compatible with C, mind you, unlike Obj-C which is fully C compatible. This can cause issues if you try to compile C code using a C++ compiler rather than a C/C++ compiler)

Now, one interesting thing in C++14 is binary literals (using "0b" a la "0x" for hex). That seems handy, though it would be more appropriate to be in C than C++ as C generally needs that sort of specification. Though, annoyingly, they didn't seem to allow use of something like _ to break long literals up into human-readable groups. I mean, a 32-bit string of bits is already hard enough to visually see, allowing the use of something like "_" in the string to help arbitrarily break up and group long constants would be helpful. (Even in hex it would be useful when doing 64-bit values).

E.g., would you rather try to see which bit is set in a string like "0b001011010011011101011100" or have it broken up like "0b0010_1101_0011_0111_0101_1100" or "0b00101101_00110111_01011100". If it's a bit field, you may even want "0b001011_010011011_01_0_111_0_0" if breaking it into fields has meaning.

Such a small change to help readability...

Comment: Re:So I'm confused... (Score 4, Informative) 69

by tlhIngan (#47703751) Attached to: Iceland's Seismic Activity: A Repeat Show for Atmospheric Ash?

In fact, by the end of the last event, I believe it has been established that those ash clouds do not harm the air planes, and you can just fly through them without worry (Airplane companies' CEOs got together to do a fly-through to inspire confidence). Anyone got more detail on that?

Actually, more to the point, that the ash cloud has dissipated so there's less of a threat. Because this was at the end of it and air traffic had been shut down for over a week and a half, so people were skeptical that things have changed so much that you couldn't fly yesterday, but you can today. (Plus, airline finances are such that if you're not flying them, you're losing money, so the CEOs were really desperate to get moving again and stem the losses).

Volcanic ash is still nasty stuff - it erodes surfaces and glasses up in engines, which causes them to fail. In fact we didn't know about ash clouds until the late 1970s when a 747 was barely able to land in Indonesia after all of its engines failed and won't restart (until the engines cooled to the point the glassed ash broke off AND they were below the ash cloud and could restore limited power). And on landing, they realized they couldn't see out the front windshield because the ash was like sandpaper to it.

The CEO show was basically to say that there wasn't enough ash to down your plane anymore and that it was safe to travel again. (Though I'm sure they probably called for extra inspections because of buildup could cause a failure later on down the line).

There is worldwide monitoring of ash clouds and all that because of that accident because it's still harmful. It doesn't happen TOO often that air travel has be diverted because of volcanic activity, but it's still something pilots avoid.

Comment: Re:I'm not so sure.... (Score 1) 167

by tlhIngan (#47703683) Attached to: Why Chinese Hackers Would Want US Hospital Patient Data

Yes, the summary's idea that one could get a heart transplant with faked records is baloney. But there are a lot of simpler health care interactions which are easier to get with faked records, such as basic prescriptions. And it's not much harder to monetize, you do it the same way you do credit cards. Those marketplaces are well established for both CC info and health info, in many cases they are the same place.

It only works for so long - insurance has dealt with this fraud for ages now too - they get curious as to why you're taking two conflicting drugs, or why your prescription has suddenly doubled instead of getting a double-strength version, etc.

Yeah, you're not likely to get caught if you're just charging one bottle of antibiotics to it, but at $50, you'd be repeatedly using it and insurance would start making inquiries.

Doubly so if some drugs suddenly show up without a corresponding medical record - e.g., heart medication even though your doctor hasn't found a heart condition or explicitly mentioned treatment. (And really, the only reason would be to charge expensive drugs to it that often have corresponding medical conditions).

As for insurance companies buying the data up for data collection purposes - they really don't have to. First, it's not exactly legal, and second, they have far more legal ways to get all that information and more and can be had far easier too.

Comment: Re:Good for music, movies and ebooks (Score 1) 82

I might be ok with this for certain books if ebooks were substantially cheaper. Currently even for books I don't want to keep
it's cheaper to buy the book, read it, and resell it on amazon. If a $20 paper book gives the author $7 of royalties then at
a maximum an ebook should be priced at about $7.50 but because you can't turn around and resell that ebook it should
probably be priced closer to $3 or less. If ebooks actually started being priced at a rental price then it would make alot more
sense to buy ebooks. I still prefer paper books and most of the times the paperback and used copies are cheaper than
the ebooks even before you include resell value and alot of that goes to shipping. I would love to see 30 day rental fees for
ebooks be priced at or below the paperback/used book price instead of ebooks being priced at 70% of the hardback price.
It makes no sense that I can get a NEW physical paperback book SHIPPED to me cheaper than I can buy the electronic version.

What makes you think a traditional author deserves that much money off an ebook? Neverminding the 30% cut Amazon takes in self-publishing?

In the traditional print model (the one most authors do with publishers), the ONLY THING the author delivers the publisher is a block of text. That's all they're contracted to provide.

From there, a gaggle of other people work to transform that block of text into a book. Someone needs to do the cover art, another needs to go through and at least try to fix the most egregious errors (this back-and-forth with the author takes the longest as the editor will catch an error, and they need to confirm with the author that it's really an error and not deliberate), then revise, edit, consult, etc. Once that's done, Other things is that the publisher needs ISBNs, someone to do a table of contents, an index (if necessary), rework illustrations (with the illustrator - or the author because they have no qualms about submitting a 160x160 pixel image for a full page illustration) as well as securing rights to use third party images (photos, illustrations, etc) that the author may have included. And all the other stuff in a book including author bio and other front and back matter.

And then, someone has to go and take that final work, and lay it out on the page (real or electronic) - ensuring graphics, text, photos, etc are all properly laid out together, scaled properly, and that it looks good - that dark image you included may end up as a black square on e-readers, for example as they have a limited palette. And make sure chapter headings and all that other stuff are properly inserted, and linked and everything is in its place.

And somehow, you think the author who gets $7 out of a $30 book deserves to get it all when the ebook is priced $7.50? After Amazon's cut, that's $5 and the author would probably get $3 tops because those other guys behind the work don't work for free.

In fact, the editing process is such that the cost of printing, shipping, warehousing, distribution is really only around 10% of the retail cost.

So of a $30 hardcover, the publisher gets $20. And they probably need to price it at $27 to make up for the 30% cut at the electronic store (Amazon, Apple, Google, Kobo, whatever, and 30% is on the LOW side! Amazon "makes deals" at 30%, showing their real take is often far higher (30% being forced by Apple's flat-rate plan)).

Maybe $25 to make it a nice number since there's $3 in savings due to not having to actually print/ship/distribute/warehouse/handle returns.

Comment: Re:Not much of a fix (Score 2) 101

by tlhIngan (#47695501) Attached to: ICANN Offers Fix For Domain Name Collisions

I fail to see how this proposed behavior solves anything. Most software out there was written to assume that if you get back an address DNS resolution worked, if there was a problem you get back something like NXDOMAIN. Lots of apps are not going to report any problems if they get back, there are going to sit and wait for the connection to time out or depending on how the system is configured report connection refused. Leaving the user with no way to know the name was wrong.

It should be connection refused for most client systems. Because is smack dab in 127/8 space - aka localhost space where all connections inside of 127/8 are supposed to resolve to itself, despite the actual IP used. For the few that have actual services in use (FTP, HTTP, etc), it's going to lead to a confusing mess.

Another megabytes the dust.