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Comment This really shouldn't be a surprise.... (Score 1) 90

We've known for decades about the effect that alcohol (one particular CNS depressant) has on brain development. It seems reasonable to assume that other CNS depressants would have the same effect to some degree, at least up to the point where brain cell division stops (several months after birth, IIRC).

Comment Re:Because... (Score 1) 325

So you're talking about a people getting a degree where the only career option is teaching others so they can seek the same degree?

Sort of, yes. The upper division courses tend to mostly benefit people in those majors/minors, and the lower division courses that are taken more broadly are frequently taught by adjunct instructors with only a master's degree, and tend to be taught by full professors only when they otherwise wouldn't have a full course load.

I can see only two realistic ways to move forward: either accept that the people teaching our young people will usually not have their PhD or push the accreditation boards to set limits on the percentage of classes that can be taught by adjunct faculty. With that said, if a doctorate were easier to get, it might save some doctoral programs from collapsing for lack of sufficient students to justify the staffing costs. So there's definitely a benefit from making the duration of those programs a bit more sane.

Comment Re:As someone who... (Score 1) 154

I buy stuff from Hong Kong on ebay all the time - you can get items shipped from there for $0.00 - $0.99 shipping and handling - sure it takes 7-10 days to show up, but if they can ship that package 1/2 way around the world for $0.99, why does it cost $7.99 - $10.99 to get the same package shipped from 2-3 states away?

Comment Re:Actually there is a name for this behavior (Score 1) 114

It's called empty promises. The primary purpose of this merger is not nor will it ever be to take care of the poor. It merely serves to unhook the approval process that would create an internet oligarchy.

Cheap internet for anybody is the last thing that these guys want.

Yes, it's one hell of a bribe (let's call it what it is), and I hope the FCC can see the statistics through the trees to call them on their bullshit.

I wouldn't call it a bribe. More like a distraction. They're trying to make a fundamentally invalid association between price and the harm caused by monopolies. Price is only part of the picture. Monopolies also reduce choice, and that's every bit as damaging to the public as extortionate pricing.

When Comcast owns the last mile for Internet service exclusively or nearly exclusively, they can set any terms that they want—caps, content filtering requirements, bans on servers, port blocks, etc.—and consumers just have to live within their dictates. Don't like it? Find another provider. What? There are no other providers? Oops.

And given that Comcast and Time Warner Cable both have a long history of such behavior, anyone who believes that the combined company won't result in even more rapid reductions in quality of service is, IMO, delusional.

Comment Re:Only on paper (Score 2) 213

Personally, I blame the MySQL team for nightmares like phpBB and vBulletin. After all, mysql_query is still available in the language, despite being at fault for a staggering percentage of PHP application security flaws. The PHP folks have at least finally deprecated it in 5.5, and theoretically it will go away in the future, though at this point it is so ingrained that when they do, most folks will just reimplement it using a template-based query, but with no template fields, and we'll be in the same boat as we are now.

In an ideal world, that function/method should never have existed in MySQL to begin with. But even if we accept that it was unavoidable, the function/method should have been removed from MySQL a decade ago, because even way back then, it was obvious how flawed an API it is. Had they done so, it wouldn't have continued to exist in the PHP bindings, because it wouldn't still have been in the library.

The rest of the security problems with PHP are, as far as I can tell, pretty much comparable to any other language—improper quoting of content for use in various aspects of HTML output, cross-site scripting bugs, etc.

BTW, if you want a PHP bulletin board that's more sane, check out JaxBoards, and grab my fork where I rewrote every single database call to use template-based queries. It's a fairly clean design that separates the presentation from the core to a significant degree, and whose database code is fairly straightforward. If you spot any security bugs that I haven't already fixed in my branch, let me know.

Comment Re:no (Score 1) 437

Easy fix : If the sound and pressure wave of a gunshot issues from a vehicle the vehicle auto stops and locks up until the cops arrive. No more drive by shootings allowed.

So when there's an explosion and fire inside the vehicle, everybody dies. Yes, this sounds like a great idea....

Better to notify the police and provide GPS coordinates of the vehicle on an ongoing basis from that point on.

Comment Re:Read his books (Score 4, Insightful) 405

A good editor is like having a glass of a fine wine, evening out the rough edges. A bad editor is like drinking too much and having a big hangover the next day.

The key to good editing is pointing out errors while retaining the author's voice. Unfortunately, lots of editors go way too far and think that they need to rewrite everything the way he or she would have written it. This tends to result in misery all around.

Comment Re:Nice sentiment but... (Score 2) 64

A state can provide broader rights than the Constitution, but not fewer. This is subject to the Gunwall analysis. The state legislature therefore can expand patent power, but not restrict it as it would be removing a federal right.

That's an easily solved problem, though. The state doesn't have to weaken the patents. They just have to tax the ill-gotten earnings at a 100% rate.

Comment Re:Its called a CDN (Score 1) 105

Why should Netflix have to pay for this? Comcast gets all the benefits. Their customers still get the Internet service that they are paying for, but Comcast doesn't have to pay for trunk lines. Netflix gets no benefit from the arrangement whatsoever other than not getting screwed by Comcast deliberately failing to provision adequate bandwidth for their own customers.

IMO, this is racketeering at its finest, and is no different than smashing somebody's store window, then coming by the next day and offering to protect them from future incidents. "It would be a shame if the connection to your servers weren't fast enough, and if your customers started watching movies on our Comcast video-on-demand service instead. You wouldn't want that to happen, would you? Pay us enough money and we'll 'protect' you from that." It's illegal, it's unethical, and Comcast should be broken up for their blatant and egregious monopoly abuse.

I was more tolerant of this sort of behavior a decade ago when streaming video was in its infancy, and when the ISPs weren't cable companies that offered a competing service. Now, it crosses the line into clear antitrust violations, and the only way to fix it is to break up all of the large cable monopolies at the local level into separate wire providers, ISPs, and cable content providers.

Comment Re:Look to the post office (Score 1) 105

In a properly functioning economy, Comcast would be forced to provide adequate service for Netflix. Therefore, arguably, Comcast should have to pay Netflix a premium for the cost of putting caching boxes on their network. Comcast gets the benefits of lowering their bandwidth bill while still providing their customers with a similar experience. Unfortunately, this does not occur in practice, for two reasons:

  • Comcast is a monopoly in most places that it serves, so customers don't have viable alternatives. That's the first thing that needs to be fixed.
  • Additionally, Comcast provides a competing service other than their Internet service, which means it is in their best interest to break Netflix while making their competing VOD service as reliable as possible. Combined with a monopoly, this is a recipe for abuse.

This conflict of interest between Comcast's ISP business and their cable business is fundamental and IMO cannot be fixed without breaking up Comcast into at least two separate corporations—one that provides their video on demand and cable services, and one that provides their Internet services. And because two corporations can't both own the lines, it should actually be broken up into three companies, one of which owns the lines and leases access to anyone who can pay. That one single breakup will fix nearly all of the network neutrality problems we're facing, and will result in much cheaper Internet service, too, as competitors gain leased access to those lines.

Of course, if you really want to improve things, mandate that the infrastructure company be operated as a pure nonprofit corporation.

Comment Re:I thought this was already possible.... (Score 1) 105

Cost. Both in time, staff, AND duplication of equipment.

If done properly, such a box can be entirely automated, choosing what to cache based on recent local usage patterns, and evicting older items when the disk fills up, based on an LRU or LFU scheme. The device can phone home every so often to verify that it is working properly, and can include a copy of its cache list. The main servers can then verify that the device has phoned home recently, and can check for I/O errors on the disk (and other errors logged by the caching daemon). In the event of unexpected errors or deafening silence, the main servers can then switch the DNS for that ISP so that their customers are directed to the main servers instead, and raise an exception so that a human being can ship the ISP a new box.

Once you've built up such an automated setup, the incremental cost to add another ISP is minimal, particularly compared with spending hundreds or thousands of dollars every month for a dedicated trunk line.

Comment Re:ya (Score 5, Insightful) 282

Either way, when it comes to no-cost peering, what's actually important is not the traffic direction, but rather that both parties send approximately the same amount of traffic through the other one to another network—that is to say, that both parties get approximately the same benefit out of the link.

Incidentally, this is why traditional ISPs like Comcast pay the backbone ISPs to carry their traffic, rather than being allowed to peer at no charge. They are essentially a leaf node in the graph, which means they benefit greatly from connecting to an upstream ISP, because such connections enable their customers to connect to the Internet. However, they don't provide any benefit to the upstream ISP, because the upstream ISP can't usefully route any traffic through Comcast to other ISPs.

The general rule is that backbone ISPs peer amongst themselves, but don't usually peer with traditional customer ISPs. Customer ISPs in the same region often peer with one other, because they're on the same level and can benefit from faster connectivity with one another and from having additional redundancy in their upstream connections. However, that peering only remains free so long as they route similar amounts of traffic over each other's upstream links. If the balance gets too skewed, they'll depeer each other.

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