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Comment Glitchless streaming. (Score 3, Interesting) 158

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 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 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.

Comment "Person of the Year" isn't "Best ..." (Score 1) 145

Thanks TIME ... for lowering the bar even further, human garbage all over the world can now realistically aspire to be your man of the year.

Time's "Person of the Year" isn't "BEST Person of the Year". It's "MOST INFLUENTIAL ON THE WORLD Person of the Year". That's why people like Castro get it.

Time has pointed this out LOTS of times.

IMHO Assange is a good candidate for THIS year. Trump did a lot of shaking things up, too - but mainly by being elected. As with Obama's Nobel Peace Prize, it's a bit early. I'm sure he'll have more effect on the world once he's ACTUALLY BEEN INAUGURATED and has been yanking the levers of power for most of a year.

Comment Re:You misunderstand the point of it. (Score 1) 1429

urban/rural split.

The focus on this is a laughable anachronism.

Which just goes to show how provincial you are.

Take a look at the continental-states-by-county maps from the recent election. Notice that the blue counties are, almost without exception, the sites of large cities or suburbs, while the red counties are primarily rural.

Obviously, it is you who misunderstand it: Alexander Hamilton described the framers' view of how electors would be chosen, "A small number of persons, selected by their fellow-citizens from the general mass, will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated [tasks]."

From my favorite historian: "Whatever Alexander Hamilton's reasons for doing anything probably had little to do with anyone else's view. ... He was pretty much a sworn enemy of Jefferson, Madison, and anyone else who was in favor of the rights of the common person." He was also the primary, and outspoken, opponent of the Bill of Rights.

Comment You misunderstand the point of it. (Score 1) 1429

[The electoral college would be operating exactly] as it was intended: giving the electors the ability to prevent a moronic populist from ascending to the presidency is arguably precisely the entire point of the electoral college.

You misunderstand the purposes of the electoral college. They are:
  1. To limit the opportunity for corruption to swing the presidential election
  2. To steer a middle ground between "One Man One Vote" (which would let some single-digit number of high-population states control the presidency, leaving the rest of the states unrepresented in the executive branch) and "One State One Vote" (which would do much the same but with the high-population states and their masses of citizens as the unrepresented ones).

It still does both.

2. is the part you always hear about, and which leads to the occasional "minority president" in a close race and/or one with an urban/rural split. It's working exactly as intended, keeping New York, California, and .

1. may not be working in the WAY it was intended, but the system still accomplishes it. The electoral college serves as a firewall, limiting election fraud by a corrupt political machine (such as Tammany Hall or Daily's Chicago) to no more than their state's electors. If the presidency were determined by a popular vote, ONE corrupt machine could fake up a massive margin and swing any close election.

Remember the Florida recount in the Bush-Gore 2000 election? If the presidency were decided by the POPULAR vote you'd have to recount the WHOLE COUNTRY in such a situation.

If the use of electors, rather than straight tabulation of votes, ever reflected an elitist intent to provide an opportunity to override the will of the population, that has long since been obsoleted by the mechanism of their selection. They are chosen by the candidates' parties or the candidate himself, and the positions are usually a reward for especially faithful service. So don't hold your breath waiting for a wash of "unfaithful electors" to swing this election to Hillary.

Comment You missed the point. (Score 3, Informative) 137

Try that with real science journals and see how far you get.

You missed the point.

If you read even the SUMMARY of TFA, above, you'll see that the POINT was that the fake-journal operations are buying up REAL journals, with real reputations, and converting them into more pay-for-play fakes. (Their customers will no doubt be willing to pay even more for placement in a respected journal, before its reputation collapses.)

Comment Re:So... (Score 5, Informative) 1321

It's the various academicians that still can't believe Trump won because, "nobody I know voted for Trump".

This is a case of:
  - A security researcher using the close election and hand-wringing over possible cheating to try to institutionalize actually CHECKING the paper audit trails against the tabulated results, before discarding the paper.
  - And calling for candidates who lost close elections (on either side) to ask for a recount - because that's the only way to get it to happen in THIS election before the paper ballots ARE discarded, after the deadline which is JUST DAYS AWAY.
  - Then the mainstream media (in "nobody I know voted for Trump" mode because they don't TALK to anybody outside their echo chamber) trying to spin that into "academics say Hillary lost due to vote-rigging".)

Read TFA: He explicitly says he thinks it's unlikely Hillary lost due to rigging, that the unexpected trump win was due to massively defective polls.

Disclaimer: I've met Halderman. He's a top-notch computer security researcher (and teacher of such in academia) and a cool head.

Comment Re:Sounds Nice (Score 2) 41

Service is poor. No web bill payment...

A rural WISP, serving a handful of customers and not part of a chain, is a small operation. A "Mom-and-POP" if you will. ("POP" = "Point of Presence", the term of art for the site to which the customers are connected.)

Such operations don't have enough revenue to do fancy web design and e-commerce systems. The may be one or a handful of people, some or even all part time, maybe not even the "day job" for the principals. They may even be a hobbiest or some other Net-lover-or-needer who got fed up with the big ISPs ignoring their little rural area (and the downsides of satellite ISPs), brought in a high-speed line, and set up a WISP to offload some of the bandwidth and costs. They are doing well if they're able to keep the net up to their customers.

This is what the Internet was like in the early days, before the telecoms and cable companies got involved. Enjoy!

Comment Re:Karma (Score 2) 393

The trees get their water from precipitation, either directly as rainfall or from later snow melt.

And the water in the rainfall came from the humidity in the air (which was then "squeegied out" by the mountains forcing the air upward).

But much of the water in the air came from the imported irrigation water, evaporated by transpiration in irrigated plants (and a bit from wet surfaces). Very little of the water imported to west-of-the-Sierras ends up in the Pacific Ocean or refilling overpumped underground aquifers, nearly all ends up in the air, blowing toward the mountains, to fall as rain or snow.

This is good, because the water off the coast of California is mostly the Alaska Current. It's cold, so it doesn't humidify the air much. (Swimming in it will kill you in 15 to 30 minutes. The dewpoint in Silicon Valley, when the wind isn't coming from the land, runs around 50F.) Indeed, much of the humidity coming from the ocean is the result of the imported water that DID make it to the Pacific - arriving substantially warmer that what was already out there.

So, though the mountain trees get their water from rain, snow, or fog, the rain, snow, or fog gets ITS water largely from the imported irrigation water.

Comment Not ENTIRELY silly. (Score 1) 393

Scientists blame five-plus years of drought on the increasing tree deaths

Next up: lung cancer causes smoking!

It's not entirely silly written backward like that. Trees transpire a lot of water from the ground into the air, where it later falls as rain downwind (or uphill, where it can then fall as rain (or snow, becoming snowpack) and feed rivers that flow back upwind, to repeat the cycle.)

Not enough to account for the drought, though. But nonzero nonetheless. B-)

Also, grass would do it far more than trees. (Grass evaporates six times as much water per acre as a lake surface - or swimming pools.)

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