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Comment Re:Terraforming teaser at the end? (Score 2) 159

Sure. But it will do so over the course of many thousands to millions of years, allowing plenty of time for "booster shots" of atmosphere. If we can create it in the first place, maintenance is probably a much easier task.

Even among naturally preserved atmospheres, there are other techniques for generating a magnetosphere should we decide to create one. Venus for example has no magnetic core, and is subjected to a *much* stronger solar wind, yet manages to hold on to it's atmosphere thanks to an induced magnetosphere generated within its ionosphere. Whether a similar process could be induced on Mars, I don't know, but it's proof that there's more than one way to generate a magnetosphere.

Comment Re:You can buy it that way (T3), makes you unhappy (Score 1) 212

Indeed. An explanation I recently came up with for caps, is that they shouldn't actually be measured in "MB", but rather in "MB/s * s" = "bandwidth used * time it's used for". You're not buying bandwidth, you're renting it by the second*. That you just downloaded 1GB of data is irrelevant to your ISP, they'd charge you just as much for downloading a single byte one billion times. (ignoring overhead issues)

Yes, technically the units simplify to the same thing, but like torque and energy, just because the units are the same, doesn't mean the things being measured are actually conceptually the same.

* Well, except that with data caps, instead of paying for actual usage, you're paying for a giant block of far more usage than you're likely to need, so that you don't have to worry about exceeding that limit and being cut off or hit with ridiculous overage charges. Which is arguably a total racket, but for whatever reason there actually seem to be a lot of people who object to the idea of being charged for their actual usage.

Comment Re:Wot? (Score 1) 79

The *roofing* is indeed much cheaper, but don't forget the cost of labor. Even with solar the cost of installation often exceeds the cost of the panels themselves.

Besides, if you're looking at financing a new roof + solar installation, even if it ended up shaving off only 10% it would make things that much more attractive.

And I seem to recall that Solar City offers something like "pay nothing up front and less than your current electric bill" financing options for standard solar panels. If you could get a new roof out of the deal as well...

Comment World isn't ready for a open source Siri (Score 0) 185

Do you not realize that Siri must utilize a significant backend resource at the other end of a data connection to be effective, and that the backend requires substantial resources to operate and maintain? Siri is not some standalone app you download and forget. An open source equivalent would not be free, and would require a Kickstart and guaranteed subscriptions to be feasible. I don't think the world is quite ready for such a thing yet, not in a country populated by people willing to vote for either Trump or Clinton.

Comment Re:It's the cost of the labor, stupid (Score 1) 146

I really dislike the savings as an income tax deduction. Not only is the savings deferred for up to a year, but the only way you'll ever receive it is by meticulously documenting everything. This savings is tacked-onto the process, in other words, instead of being an integral part of it. I don't believe that can succeed long term.

Comment Re:It's the cost of the labor, stupid (Score 1) 146

I really dislike the savings as an income tax deduction. Not only is the savings deferred for up to a year, but the only way you'll ever receive it is by meticulously documenting everything. This savings is tacked-onto the process, in other words, instead of being an integral part of it. I don't believe that can succeed long term.

Submission + - Bill Gates: Voter Opposition to Globalization is 'A Huge Concern' 1

theodp writes: GeekWire reports that the groundswell of populist opposition to open markets and collaboration among countries is "a huge concern" to Bill Gates. "Globalization has had these huge benefits of speeding up innovation and causing product prices to be far lower than they would be otherwise," argued Gates. "But the fact that people, net, see it as a bad thing — and that a vote like the Brexit vote or some other votes are a move to 'Hey, we don’t like change, we want to set back the clock, we want to be more local in our thinking' — that’s a huge concern." Commenters didn't exactly see eye-to-eye with the world's richest man.

Comment It's the cost of the labor, stupid (Score 3, Insightful) 146

I doubt this will be a compelling incentive if the cost of repair labor in Sweden is comparable to that in the United States. People don't repair things because (a) many are deliberately designed not to be easily reparable and (b) the labor cost of the "experts" is disproportionate to the value of having it repaired. Shaving a little bit off the sales tax of the bill is not going to offset the disproportionate cost of the alleged expertise.

Comment Re:Wot? (Score 1) 79

True. However, solar panels are already sturdy and weather proof all on their own, and get used for leaky carport and pavilion roofs, they're simply not designed to interlock in a weathertight fashion. It certainly seems possible that you could add the ability to interlock the already-weatherproof solar panels more cheaply than you could put a weatherproof roof underneath them.

Basically you wouldn't be eliminating the cost of the panels, you'd be eliminating the cost of the roof underneath them. As for aesthetics, I imagine it would be relatively cheap to make a normal roof panel that *looked* enough like a solar panel for cosmetic purposes.

Comment Re:Using bandwidth (Score 1) 222

You are correct, the megabytes are not consumed. The bandwidth though (MB/s of possible transmission speed) certainly is - it's an instantaneous resource - in this second, there's only so many megabytes that can pass through a single network link (be it a cell tower, fiber a optic cable, or whatever). And used or not, that data-transmitting capacity will be forever gone after the second is over. You can't use yesterday's unused bandwidth to transfer data today.

Peer to peer file sharing is inapplicable - it's a wonderful technology to allow data transfer loads to be distributed across multiple network links instead of all being bottle-necked by the source's single uplink, but if all of your nodes (including the source) are connected to the same wi-fi access point, you won't see any benefit. (peer to peer *networking* is a completely different concept, and not related to the topic at hand)

I think the issue is being confused because we're dealing with coincidentally identical units. Consider the physics example of energy(Joules) and torque(Nm). Basically unrelated concepts, and yet both have the same fundamental units, 1 J = 1kg (m/s)^2 = 1 Nm, they're simply written differently to avoid accidental confusion.

Similarly, we have two different concepts:
Data quantity, measured in MB
bandwidth consumption, measured in (MB/s of transmission speed) * (number of seconds it's used). = (MB/s)*s = MB

When a network provider charges you for 1000MB/s*s they are NOT charging you for the data you download, they're renting you the bandwidth you're using: Use 10MB/s of bandwidth for 100 seconds, and you've consumed 1000MB/s*s of bandwidth. That you've downloaded 1000MB of data is irrelevant to them, they'd charge you the same amount if you had consumed the bandwidth just sending a single byte back and forth a billion times.

As an alternative, they could charge you by the minute, just as they do with voice calls. But that would mean that if the network was congested, so that you were only getting 1MB/s, then it would cost you 10x as much to download the same file, because it would take 10x as long. That would certainly discourage using the network when it's congested, but I really doubt many customers would be happy with that arrangement.

Submission + - How Iran Is Building Its Censorship-Friendly Domestic Internet (

mirandakatz writes: In 2011, Iran announced its intent to strength its control over information through a "halal Internet"—a network cleansed of immorality and disconnected from the global Internet. Last month, Hassan Rouhani's administration announced that the first phase of the project was complete. So what exactly is a "halal," national internet, and where does censorship come into play? At Backchannel, Collin Anderson offers up a deep dive into the complex politics of the Iranian internet.

Comment Re:Makes more sense (Score 1) 222

Not really - because the reality is that demand *is* elastic, and if you build out the network to provide 10x the bandwidth, you're going to have to charge 10x as much for access to support it. If your demand truly is inelasitic - real-time control systems, high-speed stock-trading, etc, then those costs are worth it and you buy dedicated access, but for most people they'd much rather pay 1/10th the price and just avoid video-streaming and other bandwidth-intensive uses during peak hours.

You're free to do the same - guaranteed minimum bandwidths are generally listed in the fine print of your contract - if your demand is truly inelastic, then go find the package with the guaranteed minimum bandwidth you need, and pay the huge premium to get it. That's is *literally* what inelastic demand means - that no matter how much you charge, customers will buy roughly the same amount.

Beyond that, it's all about how exactly you sell and shape your bandwidth usage. I see three basic billing options:
1) Dedicated bandwidth - as I pointed out above, that can get *really* expensive, for something most people aren't using most of the time.
2) Usage billing - basically how other utilities operate: you pay a fixed connection fee plus a per-MB charge, possibly with a premium for on-peak usage and/or a discounted rate for the lowest demand periods
3) Access billing - you pay a fixed amount to be able to use a portion of whatever bandwidth happens to be available at the moment. Tiered pricing could come in the form of maximum bandwidth limits, and/or congestion priority (e.g. pay 3x as much, get 3x the bandwidth of normal customers during peak hours), but there isn't really any convenient way to discourage on-peak consumption with this model.

And then there's caps, which are sort of the bastard offspring of usage billing - you buy far more usage than you plan to ever actually use, or expect to occasionally be hit with throttling, overage fees, or cuttoffs. Traffic-shaping is still possible by over/under-counting data during on/off-peak hours, but the effects are likely to be muted since most people will have a substantial amount of "head room" in their plan.

Personally, I'd like to see caps die a fiery death, but assuming traffic shaping is a desirable thing, that basically means paying by the megabyte instead

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