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Comment Re:And now, over to the speculators. (Score 1) 385

Day Trader Speculators: PANIC!

Average person on the street: Well great, guess we'll be seeing $5/gal gas shortly. Thank you Wikileaks, you could have at least waited until winter was over so I could actually afford to heat my house.

You ain't seen the 1/4 of it. There's a book - I haven't had the chance to read all of it - but just what to expect (real pain and serious problems plus a worsening of the infrastructure decay problems) when gasoline reaches $6 a gallon is interesting; you can guess what will initially happen when the first three words of this book's title comes true: $20 Per Gallon: How the Inevitable Rise in the Price of Gasoline Will Change Our Lives for the Better

Comment Re:Thank goodness for Canada (Score 2) 385

Saying Canada has all the oil we need is kind of like saying that the ocean has all the drinking water we need.

Well, it does, it just costs three times as much to desalinate seawater as to use freshwater to begin with. But I've never really understood the issue. We're talking $3 per 1,000 gallons instead of $1; if we tripled the price of water in the west, the only people who would notice are large users. But then again, I suspect that's the whole point, in that most of the cost of processing water is to handle industrial and agricultural uses; residential and urban commercial use of water is probably not that significant and usually not that price sensitive. When your water bill runs $20 every three months, if it's now $60, you groan and pay it, but it's usually not a huge hardship. When your water bill goes from $2000 a month to $6000, you might just notice. I had a running gag with a dear friend, our next door neighbor mentioning how the water company had to raise prices and now water was costing us $0.0016 per gallon instead of $0.0012. That means for a household using, say, 100 gallons of water a day, the bill was going up by $4 a month.

Oil sands have to be processed so much that it's unlikely that they'll ever be a substitute for the pure thing.

When the real thing costs twice or three times as much as oil sands, then they will. Cost can be a big impetus for change. A number of places have gone to Open Source because of the upgrade treadmill, the excessive costs for licensing of proprietary software, and the lack of BSA audits if you aren't infested by the Microsoft disease. (This is the obligatory Microsoft bashing quote that by law has to appear somewhere in a Slashdot thread.)

Comment Re:Thank goodness for Canada (Score 1) 385

The question, of course, is not how much oil Canada has, but how easy it is to extract and process.

I said this here in an AC posting because I didn't check that I was logged on, but it fits:

I read this years ago from some website that talked about "peak oil" and they didn't need Wikileaks to mention it; in fact it was interesting in that it might even have said basically the same thing, that Saudi Arabia is overstating its reserves by 40%. I'm not even an expert on oil, and in my own blog from more than three years ago, I wrote:

the amount of predicted reserves for some of the OPEC countries might simply be total fiction, accounting hocus-pocus where they count proven reserves as well as the net amount of oil that supposedly could be removed if all possible oil were obtainable. And as anyone who has ever tried to get the last drops of a milkshake by a straw out of a glass would realize, even I know that 100% recovery of all reserves isn't possible.

Maybe the question instead is, how soon does the U.S. decide Canada's oil is too valuable to let the Canucks keep it and propose some sort of arrangement where Canada becomes the next state or five states or something similar? If Quebec ever gets what it wants - what South Sudan just got, independence - I wouldn't be surprised to see something like a U.S./Canada merger.

The original Articles of Confederation, the founding document that was defacto replaced by the Constitution of the United States, gave Canada the automatic right to become a state if it wanted to.

Comment It's really non-transparency, not neutrality (Score 1) 341

If a company wants to say that there are limits on how you can use the service, or that certain services are not allowed, or the so-called unlimited Internet isn't and there are usage caps, then they should be required to be prominently disclosed such that the customer can know what will be restricted. It's the imposition of hidden rules, or of subtle throttling or packet interception or other unannounced service degradations that is the problem.

It's like some cell companies having really long-term contracts to lock customers in, with a high termination fee, then proposing to reduce the level of service, decrease the amount or quantity of services or raise prices despite the customer having a contract. But if the customer tries to change their contract or get out of it ...

Comment We don't change phone pricing by content of call (Score 1) 341

In the US, I understand both sender and receiver are charged for calls and texts on mobiles? So maybe there's a precedent for your telecoms providers double dipping.

Mobile phone service in the U.S. is moving toward unlimited usage per month and you can buy it that way. But in the case of cell service where you're charged for incoming and outgoing calls, you're charged the same rate no matter where in the world the call came from and outgoing calls anywhere in the U.S. (and possibly Canada) are charged at the same rate, whether it's local or long distance the rate is the same. I'm not charged extra to call a pizza place over calling an office nor is the pizza place charged extra because the pizza place sells something as part of the call and a call to an office doesn't. All traffic is treated the same and all traffic is charged that way, the quality or reason for the call doesn't affect its pricing.

Comment A simple argument against this (Score 1) 341

The simplest argument against this is the rules against landlocking. If I own a piece of property and yours surrounds mine, you are required to grant me enough of an easement to be able to get off of my property and onto public land. One property owner cannot force another to be left in a state to where their property is landlocked.

Another reason is the common carrier rule: anyone who operates a public conveyance must take all comers who can pay within the service area (and are not a threat to your business); if you are allowed to operate a taxicab company you can't refuse to accept passengers who are white or indian, black or Jewish. You can't also refuse to pick up an employee or the owner of a competitor.

Now, it might be arguable these are private companies who are operating private networks, the only problem being that a non-customer or even competitor has no power to make a private company give access to their facilities if the provider decides not to do so; consider what it took to allow Microsoft to permit competitive web browsers as part of the system (but you still at least have the option to install a different browser if you want). If an ISP decides you can't run certain traffic - P2P networks or competitive video feeds for example - you probably can't. Maybe if there is enough outrage the ISP will back down, but maybe they won't. Plus in some cases there is either no choice or the only choice is a cable company or phone company, and if one provides really bad service and the other restricts your choice (traffic throttling) or refuses you ability outright, you may be completely denied access.

It's one thing for a company deciding not to carry something on its network for its own account, and it's another for them to decide whether you can obtain access to someone else's network and leaving you landlocked and either unable to reach it or restricted in the ability to access it.

It's all about money, here. People are using more bandwidth to do more things, and they can't raise prices on a linear basis like they used to be able to do, e.g. if you take a 40-tier of TV channels it used to be that it cost twice as much as the 20-tier. Well, they can't do the same thing with Internet access, a 100 mb connection isn't going to be able to be priced at anything near 10x a 10mb connection. Which it shouldn't, the increase in cost does justify a somewhat higher price until cost recoupment of the more expensive equipment to increase capacity has occurred, but it doesn't justify a straight-line increase. But that is the way data and voice services were sold back in the 20th Century.

It used to be that a T1, (1.5 megabits/sec.) which I think was the equivalent of 24 voice-grade circuits (56 kilobits/sec each), and cost 24 times as much as a voice-grade circuit. Now, basically, for 24x a voice-grade circuit (call a voice circuit about $25, so that's about $600 a month), you can get not 24 times as much, but 10,000 times as much, or 1/2 gigabit/second. (Hurricane Electric, for example, will sell you an interconnect at their colocation facility for a grand a month for 1 gigabit internet).

The Internet providers are compaining they don't want '1930s regulatory controls' placed over the Internet, however they do want to be able to charge that way, by the bit, practically. They want to be able to restrict how you can use the Internet unless someone pays more for 'expedited service' or 'using our pipes to reach our customers' or 'using more of our bandwidth than we think they should unless they pay more' (even though it's within the customer's service limits) It's hypocracy, pure and simple.

Comment Re:riiiiight (Score 1) 341

Bullshit! If you want the Internet to become as bad as cable tv is these days then buy into this bogus horseshit idea this guy is peddling.

Just because you disagree with the idea does not necessarily even come close to arguing the idea is invalid. There are a number of various reasons I can give right off the top of my head that can be used to logically argue against the idea. All you can do is throw insults; your ad-hominem screed actually weakens your attempt to heap scorn upon the flawed premises of the argument and ironically are more likely to bolster the argument, e,g. "it must be a really good idea because all this proponent can do is say he doesn't like it, he can't provide an actual reason it's wrong."


When Rewriting an App Actually Makes Sense 289

vlangber writes "Joel Spolsky wrote a famous blog post back in 2000 called 'Things You Should Never Do, Part I,' where he wrote the following: '[T]he single worst strategic mistake that any software company can make: They decided to rewrite the code from scratch.' Here is a story about a software company that decided to rewrite their application from scratch, and their experiences from that process."

Comment Tell that to Richard Jewell (Score 1) 559

There's a choice quote at the end: 'Google CEO Eric Schmidt recently said Internet users shouldn't worry about privacy unless they have something to hide.'"

Perhaps we should ask Eric Schmidt for his ATM card number and pin. We all have things to hide. It's called privacy. More than that, it's necessary in a civilized society

When I hear someone say that you shouldn't be afraid to talk to the police unless you're guilty or that you shouldn't be afraid to let things known unless you're doing something wrong, or similar nonsense, I say, "tell that to Richard Jewell." In case you don't know, the late Richard Jewell was a security guard at the Atlanta Olympics who found a backpack bomb and got people out of the way and prevented certain injury to many people, possibly loss of life to some. In short, he did his job admirably. For which he got crucified by the press and the FBI, as rumors spread that the planted the device. He ended up suing a number of papers and got settlements. So for those that claim someone shouldn't be secretive or silent if they're not doing something wrong, I have a response for them.

On the subject, if you think talking to the police won't hurt you when you're innocent, spend 45 minutes watching these two videos, the first by a law professor and a police detective's rebuttal, who agrees with everything he said.

Comment Having low budgets helps improve development (Score 1) 238

Over and over again, the need to scrounge for resources has shown to improve the quality of the product, from people bootlegging resources from their company (see Tracy Kidder's The Soul of a New Machine about how an underfunded and overworked group developed Data General's Eclipse 32-bit VAX competitor), to the reports in In Search of Excellence how excellent companies encourage scrounging and "borrowing" time and resources to work on new ideas.

One writer in a book about the show told a story how the original 1966 TV show Star Trek had to develop a special effect and there was only enough money in the budget for something like $562.00, which, given what it costs to develop things in television, was I think 1/3 of what it could expect to cost, and the guy didn't think he could do it, but he figured out a way.

Over and over again, it's the companies that have to scrounge and figure way to do things cost effectively and work with low amounts of money, that, long term, figure out how to survive and grow. Creative companies do more with less; it's the ones who have "too much" money that get in trouble.

Comment There are much less expensive options (Score 1) 214

moving to a location where the cell signal is very poor [ ] looking at wireless extenders [ ] Sprint charges monthly, Verizon $250 up front, AT&T.... well they are AT&T...

I think they're trying to rip you off. Use Google's product lookup service Froogle and do a search for "cell phone booster". There are many types of signal extenders for cell phones from the $20 ones you stick on the battery - and I have no idea if they actually work or are about as useless as Headon - to inexpensive signal retransmitters that plug into the USB port for about $90, to standalone models for maybe $110 all the way to $190 devices and lots of choices.

Comment Re:Cell Phone Booster (Score 1) 214

Nope - you didn't extend your wireless connection far enough.
For the poster - just get another cheap wireless router and use it as a wireless access point. The dlink 615 works fine and will cost you $50.00

Wrong item; he needs a cell phone booster, not a wi-fi booster, and they're about $100 to $200.


Venezuela's Last Opposition TV Owner Arrested 433

WrongSizeGlass writes "AP is reporting the owner of Venezuela's only remaining TV channel that takes a critical line against President Hugo Chavez was arrested Thursday. 'Guillermo Zuloaga, owner of Globovision, was arrested on a warrant for remarks that were deemed "offensive" to the president,' Attorney General Luisa Ortega said. This comes on the heels of last week's story titled Venezuela's Chavez To Limit Internet Freedom."

Comment Re:OH, forgot the elephant in the room... (Score 1) 319

The U.S., from a national security perspective, does NOT want people to have cheap and easy access to space.

Robert A. Heinlein pointed this out back in the 1950s; any country that gets access to the moon has the capacity to control the earth.

it would only be a matter of time before someone loaded up one of those ships with as much ceramic coated rebar as the thing could carry.

There is an excellent book called Space Wars by Coumatos, Scott and Birnes, it's also available in the dollar stores (which is how I bought a copy) and explains the use of tungsten rods, dropped from space. No expensive or complicated ceramics, just high-melting-point metal rods, which can withstand the heat of falling through the atmosphere, but vaporize on impact, melting anything in their path for quite a distance, and leaving no fingerprints behind (no evidence) to indicate what country dropped it on them.

Comment Re:Playing to the voters (Score 1) 319

Whoever started this thread misspelled "voters". :)

A politician cannot get elected to the highest offices unless they prioritize getting (re-)elected over achieving meaningful progress... But we put them there... if they weren't drunken whoring bastards (never mind the fact that many of those we elect ARE drunken whoring bastards -- they just don't look like it because they have an army of PR staff).

Your quote reminds me of the story of the late Charlie Wilson, who, in essence, was a "drunken whoring bastard" but figured out how to get the funds - plus matching funds from other countries - to allow the Afghans to have the means to force the Soviets out of their country, To mis-quote from Schlock Mercenary, "Charlie Wilson was a drunken whoring bastard, but he was our drunken whoring bastard!" And despite all his faults, he won the war, and turned Afganistan into the Russians' Vietnam.

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