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Comment: Welcome to the free market (Score 1) 199

by jd (#47762443) Attached to: Comcast Tells Government That Its Data Caps Aren't Actually "Data Caps"

Where providers are free to gouge and customers are free to... well... complain on Slashdot, but that's about it.

It's only actually free when there's freedom. Freedom to choose between genuinely different providers is a start. If they go to the same tier 2 provider, then the that will define the prices and services, so isn't a choice at all. If they ARE the tier 2, then they're the ultimate source of services and pricetag for all the tier 3s out there.

But there has to be more, since bandwidth throttling dictates bandwidth availability downstream. You can't sell what isn't there - unless you're Time-Warner or Comcast, of course. Try that with a physical product ("It'll cost you $elebenty, payable now, no refund, and if it doesn't do what we claim, that's not a lemon, that's the fault of some unidentified someone doing something somewhere somehow and we'd rather screw you than bother them"). So, freedom to know what you're actually buying and freedom to use statuary rights to obtain that product or a refund.

This is actually one reason I'm a little unhappy with free software. It has been telling vendors that it's ok to not provide what is offered. Not so much by actually doing that - free software has been, in general, superb about being up-front about what it can and cannot do, known defects and limitations, etc. More by saying in the license that the producer is entitled to lie through his teeth without consequence. A quick look at Oracle's conduct shows that vendors have paid very close attention to that clause.

Free Software relies on there being a viable alternative, that users can go elsewhere if dissatisfied. The resilience to fixing bugs in GCC and GLibC, in present and prior administrations, demonstrate that when viable alternatives are scant, such software is too complex to fork or replace unless it gets really, really bad. Which it has occasionally done.

When it comes to cable companies, it's infinitely worse. You're not in a position to run fibre from your home to an alternative tier 2 in another State. Partly because of expense, partly because laws governing interstate activities make it impossible for private individuals, and partly because the cable companies would raise all hell, three quarters of bloody murder and a dash of pint of high water to stop you. Which would not be hard for them, all they need to do is to persuade the tier 2 provider to not sell the capacity. If that failed, they could keep you tied up in knots with the FCC over whether you were an unlicensed telecom operator or not. Mind you, some of you might like knots. I dunno. If all else failed, they could SWAT the people running the cable, get you listed for suspected terrorist ties, or just repeatedly run a backhoe through your cable until you got the message.

You have no choice. You have no freedom. The cable operators have been redefining "monopoly" and "telecommunications" to whatever serves their purpose, not yours, and on multiple occasions. They have been free to do so because everyone likes simplified services and nobody in the States is going to vehemently oppose the "market at work". Even when it clearly doesn't. Not until it is far, far too late to stop things happening.

And we're way past it being too far. It was too far when telecos started replacing copper for fibre at select spots. Supposedly to improve service (which never improved). The reality was that DSL companies competing with the teleco all went out of business where this happened. No great surprise, you can't run DSL over fibre and everyone knew it. It was too late when telephonic "service of last resort" stopped being mandatory in many States. It was too late when ADSL was all private users could buy, SDSL was only sold to select businesses.

It was too late when rival multistate networks got bought up by the Big Telecos with not a murmur from anyone.

It was not because these were fatal in themselves, it's because people had become too stupid and too utterly dependent on being spoonfed by corporate giants (who are far less efficient than any big government ever thought of being, except at defrauding customers). The time for people to learn to think had passed. There wasn't anything left to think about. There were no examples to learn from. All that was left was a self-inflicted oblivion.

It's as if a hundred billion endpoints all screamed out and then fell silent.

And no Consumer Jedi to notice or care.

Comment: CDR yes, SRM no (Score 1) 118

by WalksOnDirt (#47762339) Attached to: Climate Scientist Pioneer Talks About the Furture of Geoengineering

I don't see any problems with carbon dioxide removal, aside from potential local environmental problems. The methods include reforestation, adding iron to the ocean and grinding up serpentine.

Solar radiation management, like adding sulfates to the air, has lots of global environmental effects, and it doesn't do anything about acidification of the oceans.

It's best to consider these separately.

Comment: Re:Can we get a tape drive to back this up? (Score 1) 181

by WalksOnDirt (#47762295) Attached to: Seagate Ships First 8 Terabyte Hard Drive

Tapes has a crapload of drawbacks, write speed, read speed, the fact it's sequential (random access is painful) but it remains popular because you can drop it, smash it, submerge and then freeze it and all you have to do is roll the tape into a new case.

Maybe they have fixed it, but I heard some old stories about dropping tapes corrupting them.

Comment: Re:Not surprising (Score 1) 437

by Jeremi (#47761167) Attached to: California DMV Told Google Cars Still Need Steering Wheels

There are plenty of not so time critical scenarios where some sort of manual override is needed and those aren't going to go away even when we trust the software to do all the driving

No worries -- to handle those scenarios, we'll download the app and steer the car using our phone. Bluetooth FTW!

Comment: Re:Hmmm ... (Score 1) 187

by Jeremi (#47756671) Attached to: $75K Prosthetic Arm Is Bricked When Paired iPod Is Stolen

Between companies using 10 year old Linux kernels, to having unpatchable systems, or just having really bad understandings of security, I've come to conclude this is the norm.

... and a hacked prosthetic arm is the worst possible kind of security breach -- the hackers could literally hold your neck for ransom.

Comment: Re:Bets on first use (Score 2) 223

by Jeremi (#47756487) Attached to: California Passes Law Mandating Smartphone Kill Switch

Besides, weren't there apps that do this that folks could purchase of their own free will?

There are, but the feature doesn't work as a theft deterrent unless almost everybody has it. If only a few people have it, thieves will steal phones anyway, because the likelihood is they can resell most of the phones they steal. If/when we get to the point where almost all phones auto-brick after they are stolen, cell-phone thieves will lose their profit incentive and move on to something else.

The Internet

Net Neutrality Is 'Marxist,' According To a Koch-Backed Astroturf Group 433

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the toll-road-ahead dept.
Jason Koebler (3528235) writes American Commitment, a conservative group with strong ties to the Koch brothers has been bombarding inboxes with emails filled with disinformation and fearmongering in an attempt to start a "grassroots" campaign to kill net neutrality — at one point suggesting that "Marxists" think that preserving net neutrality is a good idea. American Commitment president Phil Kerpen suggests that reclassifying the internet as a public utility is the "first step in the fight to destroy American capitalism altogether" and says that the FCC is plotting a "federal Internet takeover," a move that "sounds more like a story coming out of China or Russia."

Comment: The footage doesn't matter. (Score 1) 296

by jd (#47752663) Attached to: Put A Red Cross PSA In Front Of the ISIS Beheading Video

The publicity is everything to the terrorists. Censorship is, in some ways, even better for them, as rumours (which they can start) can make unseen footage far worse than reality and the Streisand Effect works just fine, bringing people into discussions.

No, this isn't something you can fix in the middle. You have to fix the users, instead. You have to damp down emotional responses and increase rational duscussion. There is no terrorism without fear, there are no causes without fear.

Eliminating the instinct (it's not an emotion, it's baser than that) of fear us impossible - and probably unwise if possible. But damping it, and raising calm rationality, is possible.

And it will not only make video nasties unimportant, it will make the terrorists who make them an endangered species.

You can't fight terror with blinkers or peril-sensitive sunglasses, or even with weapins. Because terror is in the mind, be it their mind or yours. And to fight in your mind the ghoulies and ghosties and things that go bump in the night, a warplane is a very messy, expensive and stupid solution. You can only fight mind with mind.

Comment: Re:My opinion on the matter. (Score 2) 749

by jd (#47752559) Attached to: Choose Your Side On the Linux Divide

Skepticism != Cynicism.

When the distinction becomes blurred, you no longer have skepticism.

All things should be questioned. That doesn't mean forever.

All things should be subject to scrutiny. That doesn't mean wasting cycles.

Once an issue is settled, it's settled until new data brings it back into question.

Things should be fixed before they break, not after, but only with something verifiably better. If it's not verified, it's not better.

Enough of the common sense that you yung 'uns lack. Back to the boot process.

The original boot process was never great. A very limited range of states, temperamental scripts, poorly documented behaviours, wide variation in precise behaviour between implementations, potential vulnerabilities, ghastly completion time, horrible dependencies, etc.

This has been replaced with an alternative that is new, shiny and creates exactly the same problems but in a completely new way.

A pox on both your houses.

Still, six is better than the two runlevels offered by Windows, which are even slower, even less stable and even less secure. What's worse than pox. I know, Ebola on Windows.

The lot of you are a disgrace. All three systems are less designed than congealed. And the Unix man pages were written by Vogons. Drunk Vogons. Practicing poetry whilst smashing snails with hammers.

Comment: lol (Score 1) 749

by IamTheRealMike (#47750827) Attached to: Choose Your Side On the Linux Divide

I don't use Linux anymore and couldn't care less about systemd - if it helps drag desktop Linux further out of the UNIX stone age then I'm all for it - but this article is the most pathetic attempt to seem neutral I've encountered all day.

It indicates that no matter how reasonable a change may seem, if enough established and learned folks disagree with the change, then perhaps it bears further inspection before going to production. Clearly, that hasn't happened with systemd.

The "established, learned old guard" are the main reason Linux has gained a reputation for being hard to use. They're the reason that basic things like hardware drivers constantly break and the only reliable way to get the latest version of an app is to compile the source code. If the old guard are upset about systemd, that probably means it's a good thing.

Comment: Re:Storm in a teacup (Score 2) 73

If you remember a little device from 2007 called iPhone - it introduced a "novel" idea: Let's find out where we are based on the nearby cell towers

Minor correction. This technique was not introduced by the iPhone. Google Maps was doing this on Nokia/SonyEricsson J2ME candybar phones for years beforehand. When Apple licensed Google Maps they got access to the same technology. As far as I know Google invented this, although it's one of those ideas that's obvious enough to anyone who explores the problem that I'm not sure "invent" is a useful word to deploy.

At work, the authority of a person is inversely proportional to the number of pens that person is carrying.