Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×

Comment Glitchless streaming. (Score 3, Interesting) 139

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: This works for me (Score 1) 373

The dumbing down of the snowflake, "lets protest everything" generation makes it easier for them to push that

Which generation is that? There are very few people protesting anything. The millennial generation I'm assuming you're talking about mainly protests with clicks on facebook. Gen-Xers seem generally too busy worrying about having massive debt to ever retire. Boomers conversely seem ready to riot if their taxes don't go down yearly AND if anyone does anything to reduce their government benefits, but I never see them actually take to the streets.

Seriously, who are you talking about? Black lives matter protests? Yeah, they're protesting being shot. That's hardly "protest everything."

Occupy whatever protests? That was, what, a few dozen people of the millennial and gen-x for a few weeks.

Dakota access pipeline? Again, small group protesting a very specific activity that would endanger the climate, hardly "everything."

You talk about sensationalist bullshit, but you seem to have swallowed some of it if you believe protests, rather than apathy, dominate any generation.

As far as "dumbing down" look up the flynn effect.

Comment Apple told is they do! (Score 2) 282

Seriously, that seems to be the extent of the logic some of the manufacturers use. Apple has/had an obsession with thin, Apple did well, therefore we need to have an obsession with thin.

Personally, I say fuck that. Phones have gotten anywhere from thin enough to too thin. I had a Note 3 for a few years, which I was completely fine with in terms of thickness. However I recently got an LG G5 which is just slightly thicker, and I actually like it better. The slight extra thickness, combined with rounded edged, makes it really comfortable to hold. Of all the smartphones I've had it fits in my hand the very best. I think they've got it pretty close to perfect in therms of thickness.

Oh and it manages to have a removable battery, headphone jack, and SD card so that's nice as well.

I get annoyed with the worship of the cult of thin. I understand the interest back in the day, I had an early Windows CE smartphone which was a massive brick and ya, I wanted something smaller. However we have gotten to the point where they are plenty thin enough and going thinner is less ergonomic, not more.

Comment Re:Experts? (Score 2) 81

But it is a big company changing something that we took for granted in the 1990's. There has to be a motive behind it that is meant to screw with us.

Granted I remember back in the good old days of the 1990's where printers were setup with a static outside address. And when there was that LPR buffer overflow hack there were hundreds of wasted pages from people trying to hack the printer in hope it was an old unix server with the LPR flaw in it.

Comment Re:That can't be right (Score 1) 529

Food happens to be a relatable tangible good. I've had trouble with people claiming things like Netflix or cellular communication aren't "making things" and that the US doesn't "make things" because anything that's not concrete isn't real. If people are going to point at an increase in medical care, high-speed internet availability, and personal entertainment services and call that "not really making anything" to argue that the economy is failing and the US has collapsed, I'm going to have to start pointing at things that people can actually relate to.

Things like food.

By the by, I like my phone, and I like my 200Mbit/s Internet; but poor people need food and shelter first and foremost, and their ability to survive (and the general ability of a population to expand) kind of relies on their ability to eat. I encourage you to try not eating for one month and tell me how it goes.

Comment Re:That can't be right (Score 1) 529

Uh, that rebuttle isn't so obvious. Food prices continue to be extremely low because population doesn't expand to drive prices up. The moment scarcity starts to set in, unemployment starts going up, poverty starts increasing, and we get more poor people and fewer middle- and upper-class. Do you see that happening around you?

My argument is that population expands to fit abundance. Do you see population rapidly expanding to consume all of our employment opportunities? What if I told you that the labor force would slow its expansion during high unemployment? What if that actually happened from 2008 to 2012? What if the population somewhat dipped during that time?

You haven't provided any argument that says that expanding beyond our means would not cause population to slow its growth, while I have shown good reasoning that it does and demonstrated the effect actually occurring during times when poverty (and thus individual access to means) has increased.

Comment Re:That can't be right (Score 1) 529

You don't know that. There are many companies that operate on a tight profit margin

UH, I said that maximized competition can't push prices down below actual costs. If your business spends $1,000 and charges the customer $500, it goes out of business. That is a 100% guarantee. That's not a "tight profit margin"; that's a loss.

Maximized competition and whatever else can't push prices down below actual costs. If you charge customers less than you spend to produce goods, you go out of business. If a hospital is spending $63,000 to provide care and charging $58,000 for that care, it goes out of business. Period.

Comment Re:That can't be right (Score 1) 529

Again, you're focused on insurance market competition and not on healthcare competition.

The insurance market is selling insurance to individuals.

The healthcare market is selling healthcare to patients.

The interaction between healthcare and insurance is that patients are less-accessible to healthcare providers if those providers don't provide rates to those patients which are competitive with the rates other providers provide; and that insurers engage in group negotiation on behalf of the insured.

That means healthcare providers are competing for patients when they negotiate with the insurance providers. The patients are paying healthcare providers to act as effective negotiators for them, and backing them with their patronage. If the healthcare providers don't negotiate a good deal with the consumer via their elected arbiter (insurer), then the consumer goes to someone who did negotiate a good deal with them; and we call those people who negotiate deals "in-network providers".

They also have very little reason to worry about competition since health markets tend to be very regional

So what? Nearly half of all providers are out of my care network. They're excluded from my healthcare options because they cost me three to ten times as much. If the hospitals, doctors, psychiatrists, and pharmacies wanted my business, they should have signed on with CareFirst's BlueChoice PPO network and CVS Caremark's Pharmacy Benefits Manager. I've got out-of-network providers charging me $1,079 for things my insurance won't cover, at all; my in-network providers have negotiated a rate of $101, refuse to cover it, and so I have to pay the whole $101 out-of-pocket. Guess who I go to for doctor's services, prescriptions, and drugs?

ACA has guaranteed their profit to be capped to a percentage of premiums

That's actually a constant, and it doesn't much matter if you don't have customers. Let's take a look before the ACA.

A great many insurance companies have operated as NPOs for decades. Healthcare Services Corporation is a customer-owned for-profit insurance company--the same way a Credit Union is a customer-owned bank--with 15 million customers. CareFirst Blue Cross formed as non-profit in the 1930s, and considered (but didn't go through with) converting to a for-profit entity in 2001. Most Blue Cross and Blue Shield association members are NPOs or customer cooperatives.

Because of the NPO status of most insurers, they operate largely on carry-over and can't distribute profits in giant bursts to board members. Essentially, NPOs pay no taxes on profits; and the IRS may revoke your 501(c)(3) status if you generate too much profit and don't spend it in pursuit of your NPO-eligible business activity. For an insurer, that means you have to spend your profits maximizing the effectiveness of your insurance.

For example: CareFirst's CEO, Chett Burrell, got $2.5 million in salary and incentive pay in 2013; in 2014, CareFirst had an $865 million surplus, which prompted the city of DC to investigate whether CareFirst DC had a compelling need to float that much cash. In 2015, CareFirst was ordered to spend $268 million of this surplus to pay for public health services in DC, Maryland, and Virginia, including wellness programs, free clinics, public vaccination programs, and so forth. If CareFirst doesn't reduce its excess holdings or simply starts liquidating them via $13 million dollar executive bonuses each year, the IRS can revoke their 501(c)(3) status and make them pay 40% of their profits (that means $350 million of that $865 million) in taxes.

How does that tie profits to premiums?

In this situation, as you observe, CareFirst's profits are reliant on their premiums: if they have higher costs, they can charge higher premiums; and if they have to charge higher premiums, they have to carry over a larger surplus to cover for risk. Adverse risk events would easily take down an insurer who didn't carry over enough money to pay for sudden, unplanned costs; the size of those events scales with the size of costs, meaning rendering the same services at half the cost allows you to secure yourself with half as big a bank account in reserve.

Thus, as you point out, bigger premiums means you can carry over more money, taking more profits, and paying bigger executive bonuses without drawing IRS scrutiny. You still can't pay dividends--unless you're a customer-owned cooperative, in which case you can pay dividends to your customers (including yourself).

The other side of this is you need customers in the first place.

ACA or not, "a percentage of your premiums" only matters if you actually manage to charge premiums. If your customers go on the exchange and see your shit-level plan for $800/month and a silver-level plan for $235/month, they're going to buy the silver-level plan. Insurers have an incentive to draw customers so they can keep a percentage of those premiums as profit.

The only way to get those premium prices down is to get costs down. To get costs down, you must get the healthcare providers to lower their prices. Healthcare providers can lower prices until margins make a sustainable profit, but no lower; to get lower, they must lower costs, which means medical devices, drug costs, and the efficiency of treatments (labor time spent) must go down. Turning a 27-hour surgery with 6 weeks of in-patient care and 4 months of follow-up into a 35-minute outpatient procedure really cuts down the amount of wages paid to doctors, nurses, and staff. We pretty much spend all of our time researching medical technology to cut those costs back in that way; less-traumatic surgery tends to go hand-in-hand with fewer complications and greater patient outcomes.

You can only disconnect competition from the healthcare insurance market by ignoring half of the stuff actually going on. You have to ignore insurance customers, or you have to ignore healthcare providers. If you include customers, insurers, and providers, you can only identify a highly-competitive market.

Comment Re:and tomorrow (Score 1) 221

The problem is some radical views are helpful to society. They are often considered radical because it is demanding a change to a problem that is failed to be recognized. However with "Fake News" we are getting people radicalized over issues that do not exist.
Like that nut who recently shot up the sandwich shop, because fake news made it seem like they were doing human trafficking from those Evil Democrats.
Other than blind censoring where the radicalized people just discuss off the grid, and build up their anger from not feeling the ability to speak their believes. I would like to find some way to flag truthfulness of stories. So we can get a good idea on the nature of the story.
Opinions-Unvalidated: some guys rant of the day without any valid facts to back it up.
Opinions-Validated: some guys rant with with valid facts to back it up
Opinions-Untrue: some guys rants with facts shown false
Parodies: Meant as a joke or exaggeration of an event for entertainment purposes.
News - Unvalidated: News from facts that cannot be validated
News - Breaking: News with facts that are incomplete and open to change
News - Validated: News with validated facts
News - Untrue: News with facts shown false

If we can fairly classify such articles where people can trust them. And properly educate people to realize the difference.

The article about the sandwich shop seems like a parody to me, trying to pinpoint the perception of Clinton's untrustworthy nature.

Comment Re:Provide this at the state level (Score 1) 265

Probably not. However there is a problem that wealth in states isn't equally distributed per individual and per area. So while some States may have sufficient funding from its own tax income for such programs, other states do not. I would much rather see a lot of our federal taxes go to money to the states without strings attached. So yes the New York City citizen may be funding services for Arkansas for a service they may not agree with. It puts what is done and not done back to the states, where the individual citizen has more political power to control and say that I do or don't want that.

Every State has a different culture and needs. When the federal government Right leaning or Left leaning, push out these initiatives undoubtedly some states are going to be getting the short end of the stick because such policy doesn't match that state's culture and priorities.

Cities to operate need a large infrastructure to operate so government support is needed to keep all the gears rolling. Rural areas need less minute infrastructure but their sparsity requires them to try to solve the last mile problem. Where they find that it may be easier for them to do it themselves.

The problem with today's politics on the federal level is they all talk about the idea that all states are equal and need the same things to operate. But things are different.

Here is a simple example.
To survive in the Northern US you will need heating. If you don't have heating during a harsh winter you could die. In the southern portions of the US Heating is something you can for the most part go without for your home. You may have a few cold days where you can bundle up, but home heating is a luxury item. However in that region AC is far more important, while up North it is a luxury item.

Comment The problem is (Score 1) 112

None of that makes alternate media any better. There's nothing wrong with pointing out the problems media has. Indeed it is healthy and necessary as the only way we can hope to improve it is to point out the problems and demand that they be improved upon.

The issue is that is not what many of the people who call themselves skeptical of the media are doing. Rather they seem to be taking the view that MSM is bad so that means whatever alternate media site they read is good and accurate all the time. They'll be critical of CNN or the New York Times often to an unreasonable degree, but then accept without question or analysis things from Brietbart or Infowars.

That is completely silly, of course. The idea that because a site is not "mainstream" they must do a good job reporting is bunk. Being "alternate" is no guarantee of any sort of journalistic standards, or any process to try and combat bias. On the contrary, many explicitly have a viewpoint they are pushing, to try and capture a certain part of the market.

That really is why most people like them, and dislike more mainstream sites. It isn't that they are actually critically evaluating the news's failures, rather it is they disagree with what they are saying. So they find another site that says things they agree with, and they decide that means they must be telling the truth. They aren't actually doing any critical analysis, just trying to find places that say things they agree with.

It is like a person who is skeptical of a diagnosis from a doctor, but will unquestioningly accept the diagnosis of a homeopath.

Comment Re:What about stop making stuff super thin? (Score 1) 272

I feel like the "tech mobile consumer electronics" industry as a whole is so far up each other's assholes they haven't bothered to ask normal people if they want phones that are thinner. Every time I search for an upcoming phone to see if I should buy it (about every 2 years) all I can find are articles written by people who sound like they masturbate using the newest version of the iphone while thinking about how many more pixels next month's iphone might have.

Asking anyone I know IRL what phone they have "Uh, I think an iphone? No wait, it's the other one."

Do they do focus groups for this shit? If so, is entirely composed of whatever type of human being is addicted to really minor improvements in phones?

Slashdot Top Deals

The rich get rich, and the poor get poorer. The haves get more, the have-nots die.