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Comment Re:Warranty Support? (Score 2) 180

So... if that is possible, why would any company choose to acquire the debts and obligations of the company they are purchasing?

Because oftentimes they are buying a functioning business and they must. The secured creditors must release their security interests, the unsecured creditors can file suit and argue that there is successor liability, etc.

The situation is entirely different when the business is failing. Sure, you can't fraudulently sell assets for less than their reasonable value, carve up lines of business in odd ways to separate the revenue-generating portion of the line from the obligations of the line, etc. But you can sell off profitable lines of business for their value, or sell off assets for their value, while keeping the obligations and satisfying those that you can. That's exactly what happens in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy -- functioning parts and things that can be salvaged are sold so that they remain productive assets for someone, with the proceeds going to offset the debts. Since the cash, proceeds, and value of any remaining assets are usually less than the sum of the debts and obligations, there losses are allocated amongst the creditors. And customers are just a different, unsecured class of creditor.

Pebble will end up in bankruptcy, sooner rather than later. Lawyers for the creditors will look at what happened in a period before the bankruptcy to see if there is any way to recover additional funds, but so long as the transactions were reasonable, they won't be undone.

Comment Re:Warranty Support? (Score 3, Informative) 180

My understanding is that selling off all your assets right before entering bankruptcy is a reason to have those sales reversed by the courts.

No, a fraudulent sale is a reason to have sales unwound by the courts. If you have an arms-length transaction with a willing buyer at a reasonable price, you haven't done anything that a bankruptcy court wouldn't oversee and approve in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

The company is done. Even in bankruptcy (which is likely coming), those assets would be sold, the obligations left with the defunct company and discharged, and the cash doled out first to the secured creditors, then (if any is left) to others. There's a rather complex hierarchy of priority, and who gets what amount of cents on the dollar is frequently negotiated, but customers are essentially unsecured creditors and very low in the priority scheme.

In short, you're not going to be able to force someone who only is interested in buying IP to also take on order, warranty, and support obligations for the product.

Comment Glitchless streaming. (Score 3, Interesting) 157

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:Students are income tax exempt, too (Score 3, Informative) 157

Students are income tax exempt, too.

So, very, very wrong.

Internship income is earned income as surely as work income is earned income. You may be confusing this alleged student exemption with an exemption for dependents who earn less than the amount of the standard deduction in a year (currently $6300). Which these interns would blow past in the first month.

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:Amazon's responsibility (Score 1) 120

In the UK under UK consumer law, Amazon is responsible for all of these items, whether or not they are sold and fulfilled by Amazon or a third party - Amazon handle the sale and payment, so Amazon are the ones responsible for the sale. This is different to Ebay as Ebay do not handle the payment and you would find it very hard to buy from Ebay themselves.

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:Congress has passed a law... (Score 1) 154

If the Republicans want to rubber stamp a clown cabinet, so be it. Should be a fun four years.

Cabinet is just some of the President's direct reports. No big deal. He can just wait until the next Senate recess and make recess appointments. Meanwhile, he can talk to anybody he wants WITHOUT a confirmation, and if congress leaves open a cabinet post with special powers, he can just wield them directly, himself, until it's filled. That means he can either rubber-stamp the UNofficial advisor's advice, or substitute his own decisions. That's more power for him than even having the Senate confirm a puppet (who might turn out to be Pinnochio and go his own way on something).

What IS a big deal is appointment of federal judges, federal appellate judges, and Supreme Court justices. The Ds applied the "nuclear option" to the first two, so expect the Rs to follow suit - and extend it to the third if the Ds get in the way.

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