Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?
DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 Internet speed test! ×

Comment Re:Sunk costs=inertia (Score 1) 360

I have several thoughts in response here.

1. Look at the reasons why wind and solar have seen increased adoption in recent years. I think you'll see two key factors. First we see increasing tax benefits and subsidies for clean energy. Second, you'll see a lot of this activity kicked off around '06 or '07, when natural gas and oil prices were soaring to record highs. Both of these are clear indications that wind and solar still struggle to be economic, even at the margins.

2. Keep in mind TFA is not talking about on a US only scale, but a global one. Increases in wind capacity in the US are completely dwarfed by the number or coal plants being brought online in China on a nearly weekly basis. In terms of green / fossil fuel ratio, I think we're more likely to be actually moving backwards on a global scale.

I'm not opposed to clean energy. But the authors of TFA article have their head in the clouds.

Comment "barriers" (Score 1) 360

There are no technological or economic barriers to converting the entire world to clean, renewable energy sources

I didn't read any further than this. If there aren't any economic barriers, then why does it need any sort of public backing or support. If wind and solar actually were an economic alternative to things like coal, then power companies would be switching without any other sort of incentive, simply to save money.

Now, one could certainly make the argument (though he doesn't) that fossil fuels produce negative externalities to society, and correcting for that clean energy is actually more economic in the long run for us all. However, correcting for market failures at a national political level is definitely a "barrier" in my mind, and even more so if he thinks we can expand this to a global scale.

Comment Re:HP WebOS long term success or failure (Score 1) 148

The Android lead might be on a foundation of sand, however. Nearly every Android user I meet likes their 'droid, a few dislike it, and none love it. This is a distinct contrast with Blackberry and Apple, most of whose customers profess to love their phone (with the notable exception of folks using Blackberry touch screen devices).


2 years ago my wife and I both had iPhone 3Gs, but couldn't stand using AT&T. We switched to Verizon when Motorola launched the Droid. For over a year I was content with mine, but she hated hers with a passion. We ordered her an iPhone 4 the day the pre-orders went up. After two days of playing around with it myself and remembering just how much more polished of an experience iOS is, I ordered one for myself too. It's unlikely either of us will try something else within the next two years or so.

Comment Re:webOS devices that won't sell (Score 1) 148

I think that there's still a niche in in this market for something that's more polished than Android, but more open than iOS. None of these devices are going to be barn burners out of the gate, but if HP can establish itself there first, with time and patience I think they could grow to a genuine contender in this market space

Comment Re:Pitchforks (Score 1) 853

The list of market manipulations of the market is endless.

Most of them, at least most of the effective ones, are also illegal, as they should be.

If that was supposed to be an argument for why we shouldn't oppose entrenched interests manipulating markets through government regulation, I find it unconvincing.

If anything I think it backs up my original point, market failures necessitate corrective action by the government in order to foster efficient competitive markets.

Now, that corrective action could as often be removing existing regulation (eg: allowing open access to larger portions of the wireless spectrum) as it is adding new regulation. But I find the premise that today's telcom environment should essentially remain the satus quo pretty shaky, to say the least.

Comment Re:Pitchforks (Score 1) 853

Ok, I see what you're saying there. In principle, I agree with you here. Like I said before, I'm not opposed to large corporations simply because they are large corporations, nor because they are profitable.

What I oppose is when these companies use their size and resources to distort, what would otherwise be, efficient market outcomes through our legal and political process. In the case of net neutrality, it's companies manipulating regulators so that they benefit from government mandated limitations on competition, like a utility would, but without any of the restrictions on growth or anti-competitive behavior that utilities are usually subject to.

Comment Re:Pitchforks (Score 1) 853

What do you mean "giant corporation thing"? Can you expand on that? I don't oppose all large corporations. I would argue that much of the anger against companies like Walmart and Enron is very misplaced.

What I do oppose is corporations that exert an influence on our political and legal process that is disproportionate to their role in our society and economy (eg: Tyson foods, Comcast, and various members of the RIAA/MPAA). They use our legal process to distort their respective portions of our economy away from the competitive, positive-sum, mutually beneficial markets they should be, and towards entrenched, zero-sum games that disproportionately benefit themselves.

Comment Re:Pitchforks (Score 1) 853

I think we'll have to agree to disagree. I'd say in today's society, corporations might as well be superhuman. The laws are stacked in their favor. And the longer they remain that way, the more influence these companies have over stacking them even more in their favor.

It's one of the classic failings of free market economics, recognized as far back as Adam Smith. Once it becomes more profitable for companies to influence laws in their favor than it is for them to invest in their product, every assumption we have about market economics goes out the door.

Net neutrality was supposed to be a step to balancing a system that was already stacked in favor of entrenched companies, and they've managed to turn into essentially the exact opposite of that.

Comment Re:Pitchforks (Score 1) 853

Bravery has nothing to do with it. The telcom and cable inustries are incredibly insular markets with massive barriers to entry. In the case of ground lines, most municipalities only grant rights of way to the local telco and cable co. It's actually illegal in most major population centers for the "little guy" to lay a network. In the case of wireless spectrum, the government only distributes spectrum at public auctions. In the most recent auction (for the 700mhz band), Verizon won most of the spectrum by spending nearly $10 billion. Not much room for the little guy there either. Make no mistake, these are not competitive markets. And the entrenched companies that operate in these markets will spend ungodly amounts of money influencing our political process to make sure that they stay that way.

Comment Re:Is it really so outrageous? (Score 2) 853

It took me a minute to find the whole in your argument, as your reasoning seems solid on the surface. But there is a hole there. You say

Government doesn't exist to protect the rights of the citizens who are consuming over those who are producing.

Which is mostly true. But neither does government exist to protect rights of producers over consumers, or over other producers for that matter, which is what's happening here. You see the telcos and cable cos have been awarded exclusive rights to wireless spectrum and rights of ways for ground infrastructure by the US government. These are not open and free markets that they deal in. Even if you had the capital to start a telco, you can't simply start broadcasting on the 700mhz spectrum, that belongs to Verizon. Nor can you simply lay fiber optic cable throughout a city, even if you offer to compensate that landowners.

These rights are awarded to the telcos at the exclusion of all other citizens. They are given preference by the law to operate their business with minimal competition from outsiders. What most here argue is that there must be some regulation to balance this. Otherwise you get an inneficient, uncompetitive market that only benefits the providers and not the rest of the citizenship. And the regulation that most propose is that telcos, while they remain free to structure their pricing for networks however they wish, should be required to treat all data passing over that network the same.

That is the very crux of net neutrality. And it's what millions have been pushing for for years. The supposed "net neutrality" bill here essentially lacks that central requirement. That's what everyone is upset about.

Comment Can someone give me some details please (Score 1) 853

While TFA does a lot of ranting and raving about the upcoming regulation, it doesn't actually give any details about what's in the regulation. One of the linked articles does a bit better, telling you what the bill lacks (seemingly any restrictions on paid prioritization, which makes me wonder how you can actually call it a "net neutrality" bill at all), but doesn't say anything about what the bill does include.

Can someone please tell me what's actually in this bill?

Comment Re:The TSA is Ineffective (Score 1) 554

Here's an interesting thought experiment. Through their ridiculous policies, the TSA serves as a disincentive for travelers to fly. It stands to reason then that the TSA is at least somewhat responsible for increased automobile travel within the US. Automobile travel has a significantly higher fatality rate, per mile traveled, than air travel (roughly double). Therefore the TSA would be responsible for an unknown, but almost certainly non-zero, number of increased traffic fatalities since its inception.

It would be very interesting to know just what that number is, and how it compares to lives lost in terrorist attacks on passenger aircraft. Furthermore, it would be interesting to look at the returns to scale. Presumably, TSA policies have decreasing returns to scale, in terms of how much safer they make passengers compared to the amount of hassle they impose on them. So, at the margin, each new TSA policy would provide less safety to aircraft passengers, and push more passengers to auto travel, than the policy before it.

Slashdot Top Deals

The trouble with opportunity is that it always comes disguised as hard work. -- Herbert V. Prochnow