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Comment Re:I feel for them (Score 1) 266

Imagine data packets were physical packages, if we had "shipping neutrality" all shippers would have to treat all packages as equal, and not be able to offer improved services like next-day delivery at a premium - does that make sense? How, exactly is "net neutrality" any different, because it's data packets?

Because data packets aren't at all like physical packages. Reasoning by analogy fails hard when talking about communication services. The marginal cost of transmitting a data packet is zero. That's $0.00. Nothing. This is not true of any other service. But with a communications network, once the wires are pulled and the routers installed and configured, powering them costs the same regardless of how much or how little traffic is flowing through them. No other service behaves this way, so attempts to compare them are doomed to failure.

To specifically address your tortured, twisted, broken analogy, I expect my ISP to continue working the way it always has, with next millisecond delivery of each and every packet. Internet service performance has always been and will always be expected to be hard up against the limits of switching speeds and the speed of light. The only thing that ISPs who are fighting net neutrality want to do is to degrade their service unless you pay extra. Exactly the opposite of offering next-day delivery at a premium. We already have next-millisecond delivery. There is nowhere to go but down.

BTW, when does a company stop being a "start-up"? Some of the companies list in the /. summary have been "startups" for several years.

When the FCC chairman is parroting their talking points, they're no longer a startup.

Comment Re:Why the fuck would he care? (Score 1) 266

I think you'd find a lot of the liberals and progressives you like to blame for everything would be happy to revisit the idea of net neutrality and whether it's still necessary.

As someone who vociferously supports net neutrality and wants jackbooted thugs enforcing it, I would still want it to be the law of the land, and still want bloodthirsty enforcement, even if there were at least four choices of broadband providers. (Four is the minimum number of substitutable competitors required to actually produce competitive behavior.)

Why? Because history has shown that every time a natural monopoly is involved, the market naturally trends toward a monopoly provider. That's kind of the definition. So it may start with four (or forty) providers, but eventually there won't be even four anymore. If internet service wasn't obviously a natural monopoly through analysis of other factors, it should be blindingly obvious that it is a natural monopoly because of the historical and ongoing consolidation toward one sole provider in any region. Charter bought Time Warner Cable for $55 billion last year[1]. It is incontrovertible fact that the number of ISPs in the US is declining, not growing. Long term, this will always be true, so net neutrality is absolutely required, regardless of the number of providers available at any given moment.

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[1] This after going through a Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2009 where they ditched $8 billion in debt. The ability to go from bankruptcy to an acquisition that massive in just seven years is additional evidence of monopoly status.

Comment Re:Speaking of delays... (Score 1) 103

Could you remind me how many people SpaceX has killed?

One, so far. Details are scarce, but it did not involve a rocket or rocket test.

Virgin Galactic has killed three. Boeing and Lockheed between them have killed about a dozen. I can't be bothered to add them all up, but in reference to other posts on this story, one of Boeing's accidents involved the accidental ignition by static electricity of a solid rocket booster for the Delta third stage, which killed three and injured eight others. Those damned things are dangerous even on the ground.

Comment Encryption? (Score 1) 49

According to the Justice Department, he forged email addresses, invoices, and corporate stamps in order to impersonate a large Asian-based manufacturer with whom the tech firms regularly did business.

Of all the companies in the world, I expected Google to have established some method of identification of their suppliers more secure than email addresses, invoice formats, and corporate stamps. PGP is now 26 years old, and the algorithms it implemented are older yet. It's really really time for businesses to start using those algorithms, if not PGP itself.

I'm envisioning a system where, during the meeting when a contract is signed, the principals exchange public keys, maybe going so far as printing them out as QR codes that are included beneath the signatures on the signature page. It takes a fairly dense QR code to represent 4096 bits with any redundancy, but there is a standard that can accommodate it.. These keys are specific to the contract; no reason to create a One True Corporate key, that if compromised, all is lost. Generating keys is cheap and easy, so make new ones at some convenient level of granularity. Per contract is best, per relationship is tolerable, per division is less good but might work, per organization should be avoided, but maybe if you're a small business it's ok. Store the private keys on one of those tamper-resistant secure storage thingies with a USB interface. (Google already uses those things internally. Why weren't they using them for invoices?)

When invoicing, sign the invoice with the correct private key. The system should preferably also encrypt with that private key, and encrypt with the recipient's public key already on file. This prevents interception of invoices in transit, and also makes it extremely clear to the recipient's Accounts Payable department whether or not an invoice is legitimate. If it won't decrypt, Accounts Payable won't try to be helpful and pay the invoice anyway, since all they'll see is guck. Maybe allow signing only, but it should be buried deep in the options, and default to off.

What needs to be done, which as far as I know is missing, is software integration to make this process as frictionless and foolproof as possible. PGP (and gpg) have email client integration, but last I looked, it worked only indifferently well, and wasn't available in all clients. What's missing, and what really needs to exist, is integration with accounting software. The relevant public keys should be on file inside the accounting software, and plugins should be written to know what to do with them, be it GnuCash, Peachtree Accounting, Quicken, or (heaven help you) SAP. The private keys (locked with a pass phrase) should be carried on the secure storage physical device by the authorized signer, and plugged in and unlocked only when that person is actually submitting invoices.

This is where I see a business opportunity. In order to be accepted, the system must be ubiquitous, reliable, and as unintrusive as possible. That means writing, testing, and seriously grinding the rough edges off of plugins, helpers, and apps to support every version of every OS, every version of every accounting package, and every device. This requires dozens of individual pieces of software, and integration work with existing code that is only barely friendly at best, and outright hostile at worst. A customer should be able to buy into the system and get whatever they need to work with the systems and software they already use, be it a small business running a seven year old version of Peachtree on Macs to a billion dollar behemoth with a tailored SAP Solution(TM)(R)(May God Have Mercy On Your Soul). When two small business owners meet in a bar to sign a ten thousand dollar contract, their smart phones should have apps that can offer up appropriate QR codes, and take pictures of them, to be funneled into the accounting software when they get home. (Etiquette suggests that the invoicer should present her QR code first, followed by the invoicee, but of course the software works either way.) When two CEOs meet in a boardroom with an army of VPS, lawyers, and administrative assistants to sign a $100 billion contract, a whole series of keys should be exchanged for the various billing amounts and contract stages involved in the deal, with on the spot verifications quickly generated and checked.

To make all this work, I think a business is required. Open source vendors are pretty bad at removing rough edges, and rough edges simply aren't acceptable. Being widely accepted enough that a network affect kicks in requires reasonably low price points, an in-house customer service department that can do much better than follow a script, and a fairly large number of software engineers who have the unenviable task of writing plugin code for abandoned APIs from hostile vendors.

I also think it can't be done by one of the usual suspects. The IBM Solution(TM)(R)(All Is Lost) would cost 1 MEEELLION dollars and only work on alternate Tuesdays after you light the black candles and sacrifice a chicken. The SAP Solution(TM)(R)(Doom Is At Hand) would cost 1 BEEELLION dollars and require you to sacrifice a goat. The Microsoft Solution(TM)(R)(Many Eyes) would only work with Windows 10 and www.o365financials.com (Ha. That's an actual thing. Who knew.) and would delete the day's transactions every time the unstoppable auto-update kicked in. The Google Solution(TM)(R)(Super Slick) would work magnificently well as long as you use Gmail and Hangouts, then be abandoned and shut down after two years.

So who wants to fund my startup? I think the business case is a lot more compelling than a fucking $600 juicer.

Comment Re:Post-Apocalypse Shelter (Score 1) 119

Rich folks like this guy have the funds to build nice post-apocalyptic shelters; Mr Brin appears to think having an aerial shelter would be best, and I think it's a clever way to get away from the zombie hordes, nuclear mutants, etc.

I'll only be worried if he also acquires a fluffy white cat.

Though the opening cinematic of Starcraft: Broodwar comes to mind...

Comment Re:Add "engineering" to the list (Score 1) 725

Oregon prohibits drivers from pumping their own gas as only state licensed Gas Station Engineers have received the proper education and certification to properly perform such a complex task. You can only imagine the carnage that would result if lay people would refill their own vehicles.

Obviously only properly qualified and certified persons should be handling fluids with extremely flammable vapors that can cause massive explosions if mixed with sufficient air, fluids known to the state of California to cause cancer. The carnage were it otherwise is indeed unthinkable.

Comment Re:what drives this huge cost? (Score 1) 358

I have a hard time figuring out why companies insist on having their office in a place that requires them to pay salaries 4x the national average.

I have a hard time figuring out why companies insist on having their office in a place that would require 4x the national average for parity, but still pay only 2x the national average. The last time a company in the Bay Area approached me, I got on Zillow and told them I'd need $325,000/year to maintain my standard of living. They thanked me for my input.

Comment Re:Fake news (Score 1) 473

The massive amount of used solar panels is a huge environmental disaster in the making and the materials that they are made from are very rare, making photovoltaic nonsustainable.

Uhm, what? By weight, solar panels are mostly silicon (for the cells themselves and for the sheet of tempered glass on top of them) and aluminum (for the frame). The dopants in the cells that make them semiconductors are phosphorus and boron. There are negligible amounts of other elements in them for wiring and such. So in other words, the vast majority of a solar panel is made of the second and third most common elements in Earth's crust. Only oxygen is more common. The materials are not rare. They're common as dirt. Literally.

Comment Re:I ran the numbers on solar (Score 1) 473

Solar city proposed three different systems for my house. None made financial sense.

The payback was always somewhere in the ballpark of 20 years!

Uh, the system actually has a payback period. As opposed to paying your electric bill, which you will otherwise do for the rest of your life, and have not one farthing in assets to show for it in the end.

From what I hear, yes, Solar City's prices are outrageous. Solar panels cost around $1/watt, retail. A 7 KW system should cost you around $7000 for the panels, $1000 for an inverter, and a few thousand in installation. Somehow, installation is always more than that. Getting your electrician's license is cheaper, including the coursework. That'll have to change before solar can become more widespread.

Comment Re:Compact, Transportable Energy (Score 1) 473

Gasoline is one of the most compact and highly useful energy sources available. Coal is also compact and highly useful.

Sun and wind are not. They are a pain to store...

My lawnmower uses a battery pack that stores half a kilowatt hour, enough to mow my entire lawn with power left over. I can carry it around with one hand, safely store it in my kitchen if I so desire[1], and it doesn't stink or dribble corrosive fluids. Sure, that's about an eighth of a pound of coal. But you can only extract that much energy from coal if you have a gigantic boiler being fed powdered coal on a conveyor belt at outrageous speeds, putting steam through a turbine the size of my house. If I wanted to burn an eight of a pound of coal myself to mow my lawn, well, I can't. It's physically impossible. If I want power from the battery, I just plug it in.

...huge losses during transport...

I charge that battery pack from the grid, which averages 5% loss. Your idea of "huge" is weird, and applies equally to coal or nuclear generated power.

...not evenly distributive. Forever the pipe dream of the ideological.

Now you're just spamming word salad. What?

Let me help you with that. In not too many more years, I will have photovoltaic panels on my roof connected to a battery bank in my basement about the size of a washing machine. That will eliminate nearly all of the 5% transmission losses and eliminate my need for grid distribution period. Pipe dream? No. Off the shelf hardware available today which will cost me less than the price of a new car.

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[1] I don't. I store it in my basement, which is both dangerous and illegal to do with gasoline, and simply unthinkable with coal. What a mess.

Comment Re:Storage? (Score 1) 473

Where do you get the power to run the (undoubtedly huge and multiple) pumps?

From wind and solar generators that are operating while the wind is blowing and the sun is shining? Did you not read the question, which was how to store large amounts of energy because "most renewable sources aren't 'uniform'"? Do try to keep up.

Yes, this requires construction of an overcapacity of wind and solar. Guess what. Coal is also built with overcapacity. So is nuclear. So is natural gas. The grid is always built with excess capacity, in any country where the grid is run by competent engineers. A grid with more wind and solar sources may require a little more overcapacity to be built, but it's not an outrageous amount. Much less than 100%, according to the engineers studying the problem. And yes, power company engineers are studying the problem. Who do you think owns all those new megawatt windmills?

Comment Re:Unintended consequences (Score 1) 517

The problem still remains that "over-abundance" will only apply to labor. It won't apply to capacity nor to raw resources.

When robots make robots, it applies to capacity. And we already have a super-abundance of resources. Just yesterday Slashdot ran the story about Apple requiring recyclers to literally shred iPhones. If that's not resource abundance, I don't know what is.

The only thing the Earth does not necessarily have is a super-abundance of real estate. There is definitely an upper limit there as to how much space a person can exclusively occupy. But if you've ever been in Montana, you'd know that we're a long long way from hitting that particular limit.

And remember that Marxism was always more than merely an economic theory, but was fundamentally a socio-political theory. It was innovative in that it viewed economics as the very core, but it proposed a good deal more than simply "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs", and involved revolution, dictatorship and what really does amount to a sort of single party state (because, after all, who needs more than one political movement when Marxism is perfect).

Not really. It's an economic system. One proposed path to get there was revolution, dictatorship-by-committee, and a single party state. That path obviously failed. There is another path, and we in the West are already on it, despite the efforts of Thatcherites to dismantle it.

Still, this persistent urge to conflate economic systems with political systems really needs to stop. It is possible to have a communist representative democracy, a communist dictatorship, a communist theocracy, or a communist anarchy, just as it's possible to have a capitalist representative democracy, a capitalist dictatorship, a capitalist theocracy, or a capitalist anarchy. They're different words for a reason. The fact that the handful of (premature) attempts at communism were associated with violent revolution and dictatorship is an accident of history, not an absolute requirement.

In the face of actual super-abundance, there is no allocation committee. That position of power doesn't exist. When raw materials are acquired, transported, and refined by autonomous machines, when components are fabricated and transported by autonomous machines, when products are assembled and transported by autonomous machines, you can have whatever you want (and have room for), and there isn't anyone deciding whether or not you should be allowed to have it.

If we tried to just establish such a system today, of course it would fail. None of the prerequisites apply. The autonomous machines don't exist. Yet. They're getting closer every year. Mines in Australia already use autonomous dump trucks. And if it happens too quickly, yes, there will be examples of pathological behavior. But when it has happened, so gradually that people barely noticed, the vast majority of the world will only order one toaster from Freemazon.

Comment Re:Unintended consequences (Score 1) 517

One measure point is: how much money does the administration safe, buy not checking and observing regulations, but simply handing out the money.

Except as a sibling post of mine pointed out, that's not what Ontario is doing. They're means testing the hell out of it. The income is reduced $1 for every $2 earned.

The next interesting thing is to see what the receivers of the money are actually doing. Getting a part time job, trying education they can pay themselves instead of useless forced education by the administration etc. p.p. Moving house, not moving house, being more healthy or spending more on booze ...

People behave radically differently when they think they have an indefinite source of income vs an income with a concrete end date. My example of graduate school precisely echoes what you said: "education that can pay themselves instead of useless forced education". There are other examples much less salubrious. Politicians come to mind. Having a definite end date to their public salaries drives all kinds of unsavory behavior.[1]

Those differences are so extreme that any UBI "pilot" with an end date isn't UBI at all. UBI has no end date, by definition. A system with an end date, especially one so close, is just a short term grant system. It is nothing like a UBI. And we already know what limited grants do, because there are a lot of them available.

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[1] Something worth considering. Our political systems might improve with a UBI. The current choice is between poverty and being reelected, a lot of the time. If the choice is less extreme, politicians might behave a little better.

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