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Comment Not how you build a network (Score 1) 126

While this is an interesting variant, it faces the same problem that vehicle-2-vehicle communication based on the DSRC and 802.11p protocols does.

Nobody has ever, as far as I know, built a network technology where you must network with random strangers you encounter out in the physical world. You can't build that because there is no value to the first people to install the tech, no value even to the first million in a country with 250 million cars like the USA. The odds of any 2 given cars being able to talk is one in 62,000 at that point. How can you sell a tech that provides no value to the first millions of customers? Even with the legal mandate they are hoping for, it will take decades before there is wide deployment of the 2013 designed technology that is then very obsolete.

I explained this in more detail in my series on V2V at

Comment YMMV (Score 1) 561

YMMV indeed. Turns out half of these transit systems you talk about in the USA don't do so well on the passenger miles per gallon. The average is the same as cars (which get 35 pmpg) and not as good as hybrid cars or electric cars.

Outside of a few cities, these systems also take a lot longer to get where you're going, don't go where you're going, and don't run at night or much at mid-day. At rush hour you may not get a seat (they're efficient then, but lose all that with the non rush hour empty vehicles)

Big sedans are not that efficient, but private transportation can be very efficient, much more efficient than typical public transit. It can be lighter per person, it doesn't start and stop all the time, and it only goes directly from A to B, not out to C first to change trains.

Comment Re:Profoundly? (Score 1) 561

Yes, very profoundly.

Look at the numbers: 1.2 million people killed every year in traffic accidents, many millions more maimed or otherwise injured.

230 billion dollars per year cost of accidents in the USA (NHTSA)

50 billion hours spent driving every year in the USA (3 trillion miles.)

25% of greenhouse gases and many other pollutants emitted by cars. (Why robotic cars would seriously reduce that number is quite involved but it's possibe.)
Making serious dents in these is pretty profound.


Nearby Star Forecast To Skirt Solar System 135

PipianJ writes "A recent preprint posted on arXiv by Vadim Bobylev presents some startling new numbers about a future close pass of one of our stellar neighbors. Based on studies of the Hipparcos catalog, Bobylev suggests that the nearby orange dwarf Gliese 710 has an 86% chance of skirting the outer bounds of the Solar System and the hypothesized Oort Cloud in the next 1.5 million years. As the Oort Cloud is thought to be the source of many long-period comets, the gravitational effects of Gliese's passing could send a shower of comets into the inner Solar System, threatening Earth. This news about Gliese 710 isn't exactly new, but it's one of the first times the probability of this near-miss has been quantified."

Comment Do not go out for this show in North America (Score 2, Informative) 87

There's been a lot of press on this shower, and I think it's been very misleading. The predictions say there will be no special show in North America. The special show (only mildly special) will be only visible in Asia, at 21:40 UT and about an hour around that. Only if it is after midnight at 22 UT is it worth looking for this shower. Outside of that, ie. in NA, you will see a quite mild show, the kind you can see every year from several showers including the Perseids which take place on warm August nights.

This one has a new moon, which is indeed what you want for a shower but that is all it has. Expect to see one meteor every few minutes if you are doing well.

Even the Asian shower will be minor compared to the big showers of 98-02. And they were minor compared to the mega-storm of 1966. This will be nothing like that. Meteor showers can be fun, but I fear all the press on this one will disappoint people for being misled.

Comment What about the electricity? (Score 4, Informative) 227

Such a RAID is for an always-on server. Expect about 8 watts per drive after power supply inefficiencies. So 12 drives, around 100 watts. So 870 kwh in a year.

On California Tier 3 pricing at 31 cents/kwh, 12 drives costs $270 of electricity per year, or around $800 in the 3 year lifetime of the drives.

In other words, about the same price as the drives themselves. Do the 2TB drives draw more power than the 1TB? I have not looked. If they are similar, then 6x2TB plus 3 years of 50 watts is actually the same price as 12x1TB plus 3 years of 100 watts, but I don't think they are exactly the same power.

My real point is, that when doing the cost of a RAID like this, you do need to consider the electricity. Add 30% to the cost of the electricity for cooling if this is to have AC, at least in many areas. And the cost of the electricity for the RAID controller etc. These factors would also be considered in comparison to a SSD, though of course 10TB of SSD is still too expensive.

Comment Re:This should have come from someone else (Score 1) 94

Again, I would be interested to hear other people's definitions. The 90s are often referred to as the dot-com era now, and to me (regardless of whether ClariNet fits or not) this always was meant to refer to the explosion of companies (some real, some vapour) which arose to do business on the internet. The existing companies who simply started using the internet are not, as far as I can tell, what people refer to when they talk about this. Even though Microsoft and Apple might well be doing far more business on the internet than any upstart, they were not "dot-coms," precisely because they were not upstarts. The excitement of the dot-com era was about "Here's this new way to make a company, with better and cheaper ways to reach customers" that allowed small and brand new companies to rise to prominence quickly.

This is not to say that there was not a lot of excitement and talk about how existing companies would make use of the internet to grow or change their business. But there was, and is, a difference between that and the companies that used the internet to create their business. And you may not consider the difference between the two types of internet business to be all that significant, and thus not view ClariNet's position as possibly the earliest of the 2nd type as having any significance in the story.

It may seem like more self-promotion, but back in the early 90s the view was quite different. Back then every new internet book talked about the company, and the VCs were knocking on our doors rather than the other way around. It was exciting, but I incorrectly judged it to be overhyped, being too close to things. I think it's fair to claim it had a position of significance.

But mostly the anniversary showed up on my calendar and I thought it was time to write the story.

Comment Re:No, he's not. (Score 1) 94

UUNET certainly counts, and has a section in the article. I simply divide early net business into two categories -- selling the pipes themselves (which uunet is a pioneer in) and using them. There had to be dot-net companies before there could be dot-com companies. Even before uunet there were companies selling equipment for internet connection as a business, and there were the mostly non-profit regionals selling internet access to schools and labs. UUNet (version 2, the for-profit one) sold pipes and dial-up connections without the AUP on them, paving the way for dot-com companies to arise.

Comment Re:This should have come from someone else (Score 1) 94

No, I would certainly agree that a business created for e-Mail would be a dot-com. Or for FTP. I believe the term, in common usage, means the companies that sprang up to use the internet. That would apply to any of the protocols. It would not simply mean a company that used e-mail in its business, as that's every company (and was the majority of companies on the net back then, whether they admitted it or not.) Every company is not a "dot com," now or then.

Which company or companies are you suggesting were founded to use internet E-mail as their business platform?

The reason I concluded there were none, both back then when I tracked this keenly, and now, in retrospect, is that this would have violated the AUP, unless the company sold only products in support of research and education. This doesn't mean they could not have existed, but they would have to have been semi-underground. ClariNet got around that by using the NSFNet to feed research and educational customers, and then having them feed local commercial customers USENET style. Once the data had arrived at the lab or school over the backbone, the NSF had no problem if it was copied on a regional network not funded by NSF. With email, this was more difficult. Not that people din't ignore that, but I am interested to know who you refer to.

Comment Re:First, Brad? What about J. T. Toys? (Score 1) 94

Amazon is certainly a dot-com. It was created for the internet, it sells only over the internet.

What do you think it means to be a "dot-com?" I would be interested in other definitions. I discuss the most obvious ones (just having a domain in the .com TLD) or doing some business over the internet (which goes back to BBN) but I would be interested in your alternate definition.

Comment Re:Phone subsidies hurt many things (Score 1) 789

Well, often the phone is sold by a cell phone store, so this is not always true. But my impression is they don't turn that much of a profit on the phones -- I mean technically they sell them below cost.

However, there is clearly a number where the carrier makes the same amount of money by giving you a discount for your 2 year, no-subsidized-phone contract as subsidizing your phone for the contract. Perhaps it's not a discount of $200, perhaps it is less. Whatever it is, that would be good.

But of course it also gives the carrier control. And it makes the handset vendors beholden to the carriers because you can't sell a handset if the carrier won't put it on the subsidy list, so you take out features etc.

The iPhone turned that around a bit, with Apple dictating some things to AT&T, but caving in on others as well.

Comment Phone subsidies hurt many things (Score 1) 789

The U.S. market is dominated by subsidized phones. Get $200 off a phone, agree to a contract (2 years in US, 3 in Canada) where you pay back a lot more than the $200 credit you were given. From a business standpoint, of course they are not going to subsidize you faster, at least not as a rule.

However, this system has hurt the phone market. It creates higher margins in cell phone retailing (that's why you see so many cell phone stores everywhere) and for handset vendors, but it also requires that phones have annoying subsidy locks that stop you from going easily to other carriers, or putting in other SIMs when overseas -- enabling huge roaming charges.

It would be better if you could say, "Look, instead of $200 off a phone, if I bring my own phone, will you give me $10/month off my plan if I commit to 2 years?" Costs the carrier the same, approximately.

Then we would get more competition in handsets, and less carrier control of handsets too.

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