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Comment: Current ISP Pricing is Fundamentally Broken (Score 1) 229

It's not a popular idea on Slashdot, but a lot of the problems with sponsored data, Net Neutrality, and data caps could be alleviated by switching to a pay-per-usage plan.

The text below is something I posted on Slashdot a while ago that makes the case for pay-per-usage or per-KB plans.

The product that the ISPs are providing is network connectivity and downloads. Under the current system, the business (ISP) attempts to limit the amount of product (downloads) that the customer can purchase. When a business tries to limit how much of their product you can purchase, it should be an indication that the pricing model is broken.

Using a straight pay-per-KB plan would benefit most customers. If your wireless provider doesn't offer service in your area, they don't get paid. Currently, it's in AT&T's best interest to offer the bare minimum connection speeds and coverage just to keep people from changing wireless providers. If a pay-per-KB plan were in place, AT&T would be forced to upgrade their network before they would be paid. It would be in the ISPs' best interest to provide the fastest and most complete coverage. It would also benefit the wireless provider to encourage tethering and VoIP, which are currently restricted in many plans.

The issue of net neutrality could also be solved with a pay-per-KB plan. All packets would be delivered without filtering as quickly as possible to their destinations, regardless of content. If the ISP wants to recoup costs, let them negotiate cost-offsets from the service providers. I, as a consumer, prefer Google over Bing. But, if Microsoft agreed to pay for half of my traffic to Bing, I'd consider switching. The traffic would be delivered at the same speed regardless of the source/destination; it would just cost the consumer less money.

Even as someone who streams a fair amount of video and music, I'd still prefer a pay-per-KB plan. It would certainly give my ISP an incentive to offer me faster download speeds. With a pay-per-KB plan, you could have automated notifications that let you know when your bill hits certain dollar amounts. For instance, my Internet budget is $100 per month, so I'd like a notification when my bill hits $80 so that I know I need to start conserving bandwidth for the remainder of the month.

Also, on months that I travel or decide to read a book instead of watch Netflix movies, I'd like to pay less. The current pricing system does not allow that. If you're not worried about going over the monthly data cap limit because you don't use anywhere near the limit, you're paying too much for your monthly ISP subscription.

I think most people pay for electricity by how much they consume. That's certainly the way it has been everywhere I've lived. While I do try to conserve energy, I don't count the seconds every time I turn on the lights. If I need the lights on or want to watch TV, I do it without thinking about how much I'm paying per second for the energy costs. The Internet could be the same way.

Comment: Re:Simple (Score 1) 530

by wchatam (#36499898) Attached to: Will Capped Data Plans Kill the Cloud?

I take your point about electricity being so cheap you don't worry about switching a light on. I suppose if internet access were that cheap it might be okay, but it would have to be about 1000th of current price per KB most ISPs want to charge.

You're absolutely right. Everything I've said falls apart if the ISPs are allowed to rape us on the per-KB charge. And, based on their track records, they're probably going to charge an insanely high rate (at least in the US, I can't speak for ISPs in other countries). The rates for text messages is a clear example. For less than 200 bytes of data each, text messages should essentially be free, but the wireless providers charge a ridiculous premium for them. I don't know why I would expect them to behave any differently on a per-KB charge for Internet, especially for home ISPs where the consumers are frequently forced into a government approved duopoly.

I guess I should be careful what I ask for because I might get it. The ISPs will start charging a per-KB rate, but the rate is so high that people start counting the characters in their emails or, even worse, revert back to porn magazines. Hell, T-Mobile is already offering a pay-per-MB plan, and it's $2 per MB. If I use a gig of traffic each month, which is not unreasonable even on a cell phone, I'm facing a $2,000 bill.

Comment: Re:Simple (Score 1) 530

by wchatam (#36499276) Attached to: Will Capped Data Plans Kill the Cloud?

If there is one easy way to damage all internet based business and innovation it is to make the internet more expensive and discourage people from using it as much as they do now.

I completely agree. I just think that a pay-per-KB rate would make the Internet cheaper for a lot of people.

I think most people pay for electricity by how much they consume. That's certainly the way it has been everywhere I've lived. While I do try to conserve energy, I don't count the seconds every time I turn on the lights. If I need the lights on or want to watch TV, I do it without thinking about how much I'm paying per second for the energy costs. The Internet could be the same way.

Comment: Re:Simple (Score 1) 530

by wchatam (#36498392) Attached to: Will Capped Data Plans Kill the Cloud?
Well, you seem to be touching on something that's important - when people have to pay for everything they do online, they'll start having to make a decision as to whether that download is worth the money. You'll start seeing a lot less torrents and open access points.

Unfortunately, you're being forced to return to the days of watching the clock or bandwidth counter even without going to a pay-per-KB plan. The article is about capped data plans, which means that you're going to need to monitor your usage each month to avoid overage fees. With a pay-per-KB plan, you could have automated notifications that let you know when your bill hits certain dollar amounts. For instance, my Internet budget is $100 per month, so I'd like a notification when my bill hits $80 so that I know I need to start conserving bandwidth for the remainder of the month.

Also, on months that I travel or decide to read a book instead of watch Netflix movies, I'd like to pay less. The current pricing system does not allow that. If you're not worried about going over the monthly data cap limit because you don't use anywhere near the limit, you're paying too much for your monthly ISP subscription.

Comment: Re:Simple (Score 2) 530

by wchatam (#36494594) Attached to: Will Capped Data Plans Kill the Cloud?
I think this is a good idea, and I don't understand the negativity associated with paying per MB. I'd actually prefer a single per MB rate over the tier, but either would be better than the current system.

The product that the ISPs are providing is network connectivity and downloads. Under the current system, the business (ISP) attempts to limit the amount of product (downloads) that the customer can purchase. That should be the first indication that the current pricing model is broken.

Using a straight pay-per-KB plan would benefit most customers. If your wireless provider doesn't offer service in your area, they don't get paid. Currently, it's in AT&T's best interest to offer the bare minimum connection speeds and coverage just to keep people from changing wireless providers. If a pay-per-KB plan were in place, AT&T would not get away with this and would be forced to upgrade their network. It would be in the ISPs' best interest to provide the fastest and most complete coverage. It would also benefit the wireless provider to encourage tethering and VoIP, which are limited based on the current pricing system.

The issue of net neutrality could also be solved with a pay-per-KB plan. All packets would be delivered without filtering as quickly as possible to their destinations, regardless of content. If the ISP wants to recoup costs, let them negotiate cost-offsets from the service providers. I, as a consumer, prefer Google over Bing. But, if Microsoft agreed to pay for half of my traffic to Bing, I'd consider switching. The traffic would be delivered at the same speed regardless of the source/destination; it would just cost the consumer less money.

Even as someone who streams a fair amount of video and music, I'd still prefer a pay-per-KB plan. It would certainly give my ISP an incentive to offer me faster download speeds.

Comment: Re:Real life rarely makes a good game... (Score 1) 84

by pete-classic (#30474824) Attached to: <em>Heavy Rain</em> Previews Show Promise

Most games sacrifice story telling in favor of action. And that's generally a good approach.

Iif you're going to make a game that is fundamentally about the story, then you need a fully realized first act. The first act in most games consists of as little as a blurb in the manual, or, at best, a two minute (skippable) cut-scene. Assuming that this game (story) runs over ten hours, spending an hour establishing the characters doesn't seem at all excessive to me.

-Peter

Comment: Re:What OS? (Score 1) 152

by obijuanvaldez (#30474724) Attached to: Autonomous Intelligent Botnets Bouncing Back
So, did you read the linked article, like, at all?

With most Windows installs the Admin account is the default logon and most users don't know what risks they're taking because of it. *

* - bold emphasis mine
In the article, which dates to the introduction of Vista and carries through 7, you might find the section entitled "Built-in Administrator Account is Disabled by Default on New Installations" to be of some interest. Now once you look into that, another section that may be helpful is "All Subsequent User Accounts are Created as Standard Users." Now while the users may not be aware of UAC, the section "UAC is Enabled by Default" might also provide some insight for you. By reading further into "Access Token Changes" you'll discover that even when logged in as a built-in Administrator, applications still run with a filtered, i.e. limited access, security token by default.

Seriously, I understand that User Account Control is not necessarily without it it's flaws and detractors. Namely, amny users find it nagging and a general PITA. But to contend that Windows has no such mechanism is either being dishonest or really to not know what you are talking about.

Comment: Re:Good Read. (Score 2, Insightful) 124

by hey! (#30474562) Attached to: Computer Scientist Looks At ICBM Security

For better or worse they've kept the peace.

So far.

When making projections for the success of this strategy it's important to remember how successful it *has* to be. On the issue of *using* nuclear weapons as opposed to be *having the ability to threaten* with them, it has to be 100% effective for a very, very long time before we can take the inevitable first failure and say, "well, on balance it was worth it."

We're making gross simplifications when we say that nuclear weapons helped us "keep the peace". It's too much to reduce the last sixty years of history to The Bomb. It was a huge part of that history, but not the only thing going on. That's the advantage of having *lived* that history as opposed to having *read* about it. What you get in history class is a neat, boiled down summation of a very messy and complicated process.

There were other things going on that probably were prerequisites to the general success of Mutually Assured Destruction as a peace keeping strategy. We can't be entirely sure which ones were critical; or if it weren't some kind of critical aggregation of circumstances.

What I worry about his the human ability to adapt to any situation. The prospect of nuclear holocaust was novel. Now it's not any longer. I'm not sure all the players who are pursuing The Bomb are all that horrified by the prospect of using it. Regional players may count on knocking out their rivals before they can become unassailable -- that's what drove the big arms race between the US and the USSR, but sooner or later somebody will get the upper hand against their bitter enemy.

And once the human race survives it's first war in which most of the damage was done by nuclear weapons (unlike WW2 in which The Bomb was an exclamation point at the end), it'll be much more ready to accept another one.

What is worth doing is worth the trouble of asking somebody to do.

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