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Comment Glitchless streaming. (Score 3, Interesting) 158

Can you name one thing that your customers actually want that is actually being prevented by network neutrality regulations?

Glitchless streaming.

Streaming (things like audio, video, phone calls) requires relatively small and constant bandwidth (though compression adds variability) but isn't good at tolerating dropouts or variations in transit time. When it does get dropouts it's better to NOT send a retry correction (and have the retry packet risk delaying and/or forcing the drop of another packet).

TCP connections (things like big file transfers) error check and retry, fixing dropouts and errors so the data arrives intact, though with no guarantee exactly when. But they achieve high bandwidth and evenly divide the bandwidth at a bottleneck by deliberately speeding up until they super-saturate the bottleneck and force dropouts. The dropouts tell them they've hit the limit, so they slow down and track the bleeding edge.

Put them both on a link and treat the packets equally and TCP causes streaming to break up, stutter, etc. Overbuilding the net helps, but if the data to be tranferred is big enough TCP will ALWAYS saturate a link somewhere along the way.

Identify the traffic type and treat their packets differently - giving higher priority to stream packets (up to a limit, so applications can't gain by cheating, claiming to be a stream when they're not) - and then they play together just fine. Stream packets zip through, up to an allocation limit at some fraction of the available bandwidth, and TCP transfers evenly divide what's left - including the unused part of the streams' allocation.

But the tools for doing this also enable the ISPs to do other, not so good for customers, things. Provided they chose to do so, of course.

IMHO the bad behavior can be dealt with best, not by attempting to enforce "Network Neutrality" as a technical hack at an FCC regulation level, but as a consumer protection issue, by an agency like the FTC. Some high points:
  - Break up the vertical integration of ISPs into "content provider" conglomerates, so there's no incentive to penalize the packets of competitors to the mother-ship's services.
  - Treat things like throttling high-volume users and high-bandwidth services as consumer fraud: "You sold 'internet service'". Internet service doesn't work that way. Ditto "pay for better treatment of your packets" (but not "pay to sublet a fixed fraction of the pipe").
  - Extra scrutiny for possible monopolistic behavior anywhere there are less than four viable broadband competitors, making it impractical for customers to "vote with their feet".

Comment Re:Hell no (Score 1) 379

Programming isn't terribly complex.

Awesome that you think so! Now, program some realtime flight surface control software for a fly-by-wire jet and sleep well knowing that your program will never, ever, kill anyone... (Or, substitute any other safety critical software you can think of - and theres a lot!)

"Programming" (by which I really mean software engineering) is one of the most complex activities in existence...

Comment IQ and attention to detail are different things. (Score 1) 168

"How hard is to remember to unload your weapon before packing it?" I guess there's no I.Q. check for firearms purchases, maybe there should be.

IQ and attention to detail are different things.

Also: Even the best-trained, most reliable, gun user can have a lapse when in a hurry, as in when packing for a flight.

That's why firearms training stresses redundancy, with rules like "A gun is loaded as soon as you put it down and look away". Or "Don't point (even an "unloaded") gun at anything you don't want to destroy."

The phenomenon is referred to as "a visit from the Ammo Fairy". That entity is similar to the Tooth Fairy, but instead of leaving a coin under you pillow it leaves a round in your chamber. B-)

Comment I have read much of it, as I would an encyclopedia (Score 3, Interesting) 379

My wife and I each had a copy of the first three volumes when we married. Yes, there are female computer nerds. B-)

I first encountered it when assigned one of the volumes as a text back in 1971. Of course the class didn't consist of learning EVERYTHING in the volume. B-)

I use it from time to time - mainly as a reference book. Most recently this spring, when I needed a reference on a data structure (circular linked lists) for a paper. I've found it useful often when doing professional computer programming and hardware design (for instance, where the hardware has to support some software algorithm efficiently, or efficient algorithms in driver software allow hardware simplification).

I don't try to read it straight through. But when I need a algorithm for some job and it's not immediately obvious which is best, the first place I check is Knuth. He usually has a clear description of some darned good wheel that was already invented decades ago, analyzed to a fare-thee-well.

I only see him about once a year. He's still a sharp cookie.

Comment They let the ban on propagandizing citizens expire (Score 4, Informative) 324

Three and a half years ago the US government, under the Obama administration, let the ban on propagandizing US citizens expire - and immediately began writing and spreading "fake news".

From an FP article dated July 14, 2013:

U.S. Repeals Propaganda Ban, Spreads Government-Made News to Americans

For decades, a so-called anti-propaganda law prevented the U.S. governmentâ(TM)s mammoth broadcasting arm from delivering programming to American audiences. But on July 2, that came silently to an end with the implementation of a new reform passed in January. The result: an unleashing of thousands of hours per week of government-funded radio and TV programs for domestic U.S. consumption in a reform initially criticized as a green light for U.S. domestic propaganda efforts.

So the only thing new here is US citizens noticed one of the government's renewed, official, domestic propaganda operations.

Comment Re:Thoughtcrime (Score 1) 414

Look how well that worked out for drugs.

After prohibition of alcohol ended it took decades for per capita consumption of alcohol to reach previous levels. Public health improved in several respects.

Did Prohibition Really Work? Alcohol Prohibition as a Public Health Innovation

Locking people up for small amounts of marijuana sure destroyed demand for marijuana oh wait...

"Oh wait" indeed .....

Who’s Really in Prison for Marijuana?

The idea that our nation’s prisons are overflowing with otherwise lawabiding people convicted for nothing more than simple possession of marijuana is treated by many as conventional wisdom.

But this, in fact, is a myth—an illusion conjured and aggressively perpetuated by drug advocacy groups seeking to relax or abolish America’s marijuana laws. In reality, the vast majority of inmates in state and federal prison for marijuana have been found guilty of much more than simple possession. Some were convicted for drug trafficking, some for marijuana possession along with one or more other offenses. And many of those serving time for marijuana pled down to possession in order to avoid prosecution on much more serious charges.

In 1997, the year for which the most recent data are available, just 1.6 percent of the state inmate population were held for offenses involving only marijuana, and less than one percent of all state prisoners (0.7 percent) were incarcerated with marijuana possession as the only charge, according to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). An even smaller fraction of state prisoners in 1997 who were convicted just for marijuana possession were first time offenders (0.3 percent).

The numbers on the federal level tell a similar story. Out of all drug defendants sentenced in federal court for marijuana crimes in 2001, the overwhelming majority were convicted for trafficking, according to the U.S. Sentencing Commission. Only 2.3 percent—186 people—received sentences for simple possession, and of the 174 for whom sentencing information is known, just 63 actually served time behind bars.

Comment FTC, not FCC, is the correct agency. (Score 2) 191

Most of the harm from ISP misbehavior is the manifestation of one of two perverse-incentive situations:
  - integration of an ISP into a content-provider megacorp, leading to penalization of competitors or other perceived threats to the larger content-providing component.
  - an under-competitive market situation (monopoly, duopoly, other under-four-competitors) situation, allowing ISPs to provide less than they promised or less than what is expected of "internet service" without a "vote with their feet" option for customers.

Both of these are not internet-technology issues and both are things the FCC handles poorly, and which are outside its mandate. They're better handled by such agencies as the FTC and DOJ, under antitrust and consumer fraud models, than by the FCC.

With respect to the content-provider/ISP vertical integration issue: Trump has already come out opposing the ATT/ Time-Warner merger. Additionally, the mainstream media's pile-on against his campaign has left him with no love for the "content providers". I'd be willing to bet that he'd be all for antitrust action to split up the other ISP ("content transport") / news reporting ("content generation") partnerships under the rubric of "breaking up anticompetitive vertical integration". B-)

Comment Re:Well then... (Score 1) 590

Why didn't they start this years ago when Obama extended and expanded the Patriot Act?

Probably because:
  - Servers in the US have First Amendment protection
  - Servers in other countries have whatever protection - or restrictions - the other countries have.

In particular:
  - Moving certain data (such as encryption software) from the US to other countries may violate US export laws. (Backing up a server in the US to a server outside the US is more clearly an export than serving in the US something that was downloaded in the US.)
  - Storing certain data - such as personal information, NAZI propaganda, or criticism of various governments - may be illegal in various countries.

So setting up a backup in some other country was probably perceived as more risk than leaving the data solely in the US under Obama, while the perceived risk to the data under Trump may be enough to move the volunteers to take on the extra trouble .

(If Brewster hasn't commented on this by then, I'll try to remember to ask him the next time I see him. But that's probably most of a year away...)

Comment Re:Bigger worries then Unsolicited Junk Texts (Score 0) 555

Trump will soon have the power and authority to launch a Preemptive Nuclear Strike and you are worried about the misuse of the WEA's Text Messages?!

I wouldn't worry about that, there is no profit in nuclear war so no reason to do it unless absolutely necessary. Great concern trolling though.

Comment Re:In other news... (Score -1, Troll) 228

... People have a problem with separating fantasy from reality. What else is new?

FTFY

If these people were not willing to kill, maim ... and slaughter to support their fantasy, it would not be much of a problem.

Among the worst are the people trying to build a "heaven on earth," also known as a "worker's paradise." Oddly enough they tend to be atheists.

Submission + - New study shows marijuana users have low blood flow to the brain (eurekalert.org)

cold fjord writes: State level marijuana legalization efforts across the US have been gaining traction driven by the folk wisdom that marijuana is both a harmless recreational drug and a useful medical treatment for many aliments. However some cracks have appeared in that story with indications that marijuana use is associated with the development of mental disorders and the long term blunting of the brain's reward system of dopamine levels. A new study has found that marijuana appears to have a widespread effect on blood flow in the brain: "Published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, researchers using single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), a sophisticated imaging study that evaluates blood flow and activity patterns, demonstrated abnormally low blood flow in virtually every area of the brain studies in nearly 1,000 marijuana users compared to healthy controls, including areas known to be affected by Alzheimer's pathology such as the hippocampus. . . . According to Daniel Amen, M.D., ... "Our research demonstrates that marijuana can have significant negative effects on brain function. The media has given the general impression that marijuana is a safe recreational drug, this research directly challenges that notion. In another new study just released, researchers showed that marijuana use tripled the risk of psychosis. Caution is clearly in order.""

Comment Re:Valid (Score 1) 590

You sound a lot like the winner. Who's ranted against free speech, and freedom of the press. And that's just this week.

Priceless: That moment when the MSM realizes Trump just took a position advocated by Hillary Clinton in 2005

As the media freaks out over Donald Trump’s latest tweet, this one on criminalizing the burning of the American flag, here’s something you probably won’t read a lot about: Hillary Clinton agrees with the president-elect (or at least she used to):

Submission + - The Problem is Agendas In The Mainstream Media, Not 'Fake News" (thehill.com)

An anonymous reader writes: The 2016 election win by Donald Trump has resulted in many theories about how Trump won, and how the media missed his support. A prominent theory making the rounds in the media is that 'fake news' from fringe news sites, blogs, foreign government propaganda units, and other sources, is what helped push Trump over the top to win. Cathy Young, writing in The Hill, states that isn't the real problem. The real main problem is when the mainstream media reports the news filtered through an agenda, distorting some facts, ignoring others, and highlighting what supports their agenda. A recent example is the reporting that suggests Trump plans to create a "Muslim registry," implying that all Muslims in the US would have to register with the US government. But that isn't Trump's plan at all:

Trump may revive a program that was in place from 2001 to 2011; according to The Washington Post, that system “required people from countries deemed ‘higher risk’ to undergo interrogations and fingerprinting upon arrival” and, in some cases, “to follow a parole-like system by periodically checking in with local authorities.” Most of the countries identified as high-risk were majority-Muslim, and civil rights groups charged that the program targeted Muslims. But to call such a program a “Muslim registry” creates an essentially false impression — which is what many people were undoubtedly left with if they did not read the story carefully, or only saw the buzz about it in the social media.


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