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Comment Re:As soon as you're invited to visit, I agree (na (Score 1) 165

Perhaps the government has no right to search X, for any X, but they DO have the right to say "no you can't come in", or impose any conditions they feel are proper before granting entry.

False equivalency. You have the right to exclude others from your home because you own your home. Your rights of ownership are founded, ultimately, in the homesteading of previously unowned land though the labor of an original owner, plus an unbroken chain of voluntary contracts passing the rights to that land from its original owner to you. The government, by contrast, has no such legitimate claim to ownership of the entire country, and consequently does not have the right to exclude anyone from entering.

On the other hand, it would be wrong for me to block your entry into your *own* house... Unlike people who wish to visit, peope have a right to enter their own home.

Anyone with the right to enter their own home also has the right to invite others to enter. It would be wrong for you to block the entry of my invited guests into my house.

Once you're in the US (and while your outside the US), your rights as a human being should be fully respected.

Inside, outside, or in transition, your rights as a human being should always be respected.

Comment Re:Why is income equality necessarily good? (Score 1) 373

Bill Gates is only going to buy so many TVs, cars, and houses. Doubling his wealth is not going to change his spending habits.

It won't change his personal consumption habits, no. Instead he would spend the extra wealth on capital investments, which improve the efficiency of production and allow vast numbers of other people to buy more TVs, cars, and houses at lower prices.

Consumption is important, of course, but all economic progress comes from the part of our income which we don't immediately spend on short-lived consumer goods.

You're also conflating wealth with money. They aren't the same thing. Bill Gates has a lot of wealth, but most of it isn't in the form of money. Instead, he owns shares in various investments. Even if it were, people would simply switch to an alternate form of currency long before the symptoms you're attributing to "wealth concentration" became apparent.

There is one factor which could have the effect you're referring to, but it only occurs in non-free markets. It is not always the case that more capital investment equals lower prices; over-investment can create a situation where the prices necessary to cover the cost of the capital are above the optimal point on the supply & demand curve. Imagine, for example, that you can sell 10,000 of a certain widget per year at an optimal price point of $10 each, and that your cost per widget is $8 (for $20k profit). If you rent a machine for $50,000/year you can lower production costs (excluding the rent) to $5 each. Under normal circumstances this would be an uneconomical investment, since the rent would raise the overall cost to $10 per widget, eliminating your profit. (Raising the price is not an option since that would reduce both the quality sold and overall revenues.) However, if a regulation were introduced requiring the use of this machine it would change the parameters: now the optimal price point (for widgets produced with this machine) is perhaps 8,000 units at $18, and you only make $14,000 in profit while 2,000 potential customers do without widgets. The same argument can be applied if the machine instead comes with a tax-funded subsidy rather than a mandate. With the subsidy included, the real cost per widget is still $18, but the buyer only sees $10 at the point of sale and the remaining $8 is spread among all the taxpayers—reducing the money they have left over to spend on widgets and other goods. Any market intervention (regulation, tax, subsidy, monetary policy, etc.) which either rewards or punishes capital investment, and thus shifts the allocation of resources away from the optimal balance, reduces the efficiency of the market and the purchasing power of the average citizen.

Comment Re:There are a few specific things they do (Score 1) 373

But earning 4 times the national average is clearly not equal.

You're leaving out half the story here. If two people given similar opportunities make different choices, and as a result one of them ends up earning four times as much as the other, that isn't inequality. They each had an equal chance at earning that income; one took advantage of that opportunity and the other did not. The thing we should be striving for is equal opportunity, not equality of outcome. It is only natural that someone who takes the long view and makes difficult choices should end up better off than someone else in the same circumstances who focuses only on the present.

On the subject of inherited wealth, this applies just as much to families as it does to individuals. True, the recipient of the inheritance has been granted an unearned opportunity which others lacked. (Unearned by the recipient, that is—the parent earned the right to make that gift.) Taking the larger view, however, any family with even a small amount of discretionary income has the option of saving and investing and passing those investments down to the next generation, following a long-term strategy which will eventually result in a sizeable inheritance. This demonstrates how different choices at the family level over the course of multiple generations can produce unequal outcomes from equal opportunities.

Our choices make all the difference, not just for ourselves but for our descendents as well, and that is exactly as it should be. The inequality we should be concerned about is inequality under the law, and especially the variety of legal inequality which results in property earned by one individual or family being unjustly seized and granted instead to some other individual or group. This is an attempt to force equal outcomes by perversely punishing those who make better choices.

Comment Re:infrastructure (Score 1) 40

I'm sure it will make sense to plenty of non-google engineers.

Unless those non-Google engineers have already heard of ftp, scp, rsync, etc.

The only real problem with sharing on home connections involves NAT, ISP ToS, etc: being findable and connectable. Rent a VPS and install OpenVPN on it, have your home fileserver connect to it, and it's solved.

Comment Re:Can Uber really make money at this? (Score 1) 88

Does it really make sense economically for Uber to get 100% of the cost of a ride this way but having to spend money to buy main, maintain and insure cars?

If you hypothesize that robot drivers can really do the job sufficiently well, the conclusion is an extremely strong and obvious yes. Taxis, limo services, etc are already viable business models even when you have all those same expenses plus a driver to pay. Remove the driver expense and it only gets more viable.

Or is this another sign of a company that doesn't know what it is doing, perhaps most recently suggested by the recent charges of sexism and sexual harassment?

It's possible they don't know what they're doing, but this certainly isn't a sign. It all comes down to whether or not you think robots perform as well as humans, and this story merely works from the conclusion that they can; it doesn't show any strengths or weaknesses of the premise itself.

Comment Re:Astroturfing Trolls (Score 1) 890

Comparing men and women in the same job is not the end of the story. There is also the fact that fewer men are in the higher paying management jobs because those jobs aren't being offered to men. Women with the same amount of experience and talent move up the corporate ladder; men don't.

Comment Re:Tools and movements (Score 1) 216

There is a pretty easy middle ground: multiple signatures per identity. You could then have authority(s) vouching for your identity, plus other people too. This makes it much easier to catch a defector. "Hey, how come the Turkish intelligence service (a CA that almost everyone trusts on the web) just signed this guy's brand new key, but Verisign hasn't?" (or better: "how come the federal CA and this guy's state CA disagree?")

Comment Re:Theoretically (Score 2) 172

I hope you don't count "You can't dump toxic sludge from your factory into the local river" as "ridiculous."

The enforcement of property rights is not regulation. You have every right to use your own property as you please, but others have exactly the same right—implying that you do not have the right to use their property without their permission. If you dispose of your pollutants in such a way that they end up harming others' property, including but not limited to their bodies, then you have infringed on their property rights and owe the victims redress. This is not some arbitrary regulation regarding how you may use your own property, but rather the natural consequence of others' rights to determine the use of their property.

As a term of art in political discussions, the term "regulation" refers to a restriction above and beyond simply respecting the property rights of others. Some regulations are indeed "ridiculous", but most are simply wrong, a product of politicians making a nuisance of themselves in situations where they have no standing to interfere.

Comment Re:I don't mean to go all 'Papierin, mein herr,' b (Score 2) 626

The Fourth Amendment bans only "unreasonable searches and seizures". The exception considers searches at the border to be "reasonable".

That's only half of the story. The 4th Amendment also says that no warrants shall be issued (in plain language: no permission shall be granted to perform a search or seizure) "but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." The so-called "Border Search Exception" manufactured by the courts out of thin air is an unconstitutional warrant. There is no probable cause, no supporting Oath or affirmation, and no particular description of the place to be searched or the person or things to be seized. Ergo, there is no constitutional authority to issue a warrant, which would be the only legal basis to perform any search or to seize any property.

Probable cause—or in other words a reasonable, and evidence-based, expectation that a particular search will turn up evidence of illegal activity sufficient to retroactively justify the search—is the only thing that makes a search "reasonable". If the majority of these searches do not uncover evidence of illegal activity then there is no probable cause and they are de facto unreasonable.

Comment Re:Tools and movements (Score 1) 216

You simply can't have people not do "anything extra" while also being resistance to MitM. Part of HTTPS' success story is that it's easy enough to set up, but at the cost of being extremely vulnerable (by PGP standards) to MitM. So to anyone who knows how it works, it's "insecure" but people actually bother to use it, so it's about a trillion times more secure against totally passive attacks, than plaintext is. Thus, on average for all persons, the web is more secure than email.

PGP email needs some kind of "lame" mode (where people have keys but they're not carefully certified, maybe just signed by a robot CA), but easy enough that passive attacks are defeated. And it needs to be compatible with doing things right, so that people-who-care and people-who-don't-care get combined into the same network-effect.

The only problem with that, should be webmail. People would have to do something that compromises the secret key (either upload it to server, or make it available to javascript) and that would make it harder for anyone to ever transition from don't-care to care. We really need to wipe webmail off the planet; it offers nothing and costs a lot. And that's not going to happen, is it? :(

Comment Re:Floppy disks drilling & punching holes (Score 1) 611

For us cash strapped kids, cutting holes into single sided floppy disks was the only option, shortsighted or not.

No, there was one other, though it did require spending a little money. You go to Radio Shack and buy a switch/button/whatever. (Many to choose from.) Open up your 1541 (which is probably permanently semi-open anyway, from all the times you need to re-align the head), cut the wirse to the optical sensor which detects the hole, drill a hole in the front of the 1541's case, mount the switch into there, connect the sensor's wires to the switch....

BTW, whole discussion is Slashdot trolling old people into admitting they're old people.

Comment Re:What about... (Score 1) 186

Well, it isn't 'nothing.' It costs money to develop ideas and art.

And they're welcome to charge for the development and initial publication of those ideas and works of art. The part that costs "nothing" is making and distributing copies—and yet that's what they charge for now. You're not paying for an idea or work of art to be developed, you're paying for permission to make a copy of an idea or artwork which already exists. (Or you're paying someone else to make the copy for you, since they won't grant you permission to do it yourself.) What you are paying for comes at zero cost to the patent or copyright holder. If you made said copy without their permission they would not be harmed in any way—in terms of cost to the patent or copyright holder, infringement has exactly the same effect as if you never became aware of the work in the first place. Either way, they neither gain nor lose anything as a result of your actions. It is absurd to punish someone for infringement when simply ignoring the work causes exactly as much harm to the patent or copyright holder and yet goes unpunished.

Comment and for pete's sake, MTU!!! (Score 2) 325

A lot of times, bad MTU settings are the problem with a sat link. The problem is simply stated: GRE tunnels are common on such links, and a GRE tunnel will encapsulate each packet and add a 16 byte header. Since the modems usually only permit a 1500 byte MTU, this means the maximum packet size you can get through the GRE tunnel will be 1484 bytes long, inclusive of header. If someone sends out a packet that is maximum size for a 1500 byte MTU, and sets the DF (Don't Fragment) bit, when the packet hits this GRE tunnel it will be dropped. This happens frequently with bad SSL implementations.

This is only one version of MTU problems with sat links. There are others.

Comment Tips for Dan Luu (Score 2) 325

The problem with a satellite connection is not precisely related to latency but rather to jitter, the large differences in latency from one packet to the next. This happens as a result of rain fade, or a poorly engineered link to your transponder on the bird, or a variety of other more infrequent issues.

You can (and should) up your TCP timeout values from the default 3 seconds on a satellite connection, and adjust the http keep-alive timeout, etc, but a lot of times this just means you wait longer to be told when the connection fails.

The solution is a combination of caching, compression, and a performance enhancing proxy or PEP. The PEP does TCP spoofing, basically faking the acknowledgements to speed up the transmission of packets. Compression is similar to the MNP5/v.42bis stuff from modem days applied to a satellite connection. Caching is basically Squid. A lot of PEPs combine all three functions into one - Riverbed is a really good example, though i've worked with pretty much every vendor and they all do the same stuff, with differences in ease of use and efficency.

Implement the timeout fixes, implement a good PEP with all three of the ingredients noted, and make sure the connection is dialed in well with a good shot (line of sight) without physical impediments like trees, buildings, and most importantly microwave interference, and you should have a fairly reliable internet connection. You will still take hits, but you can look at the front of the satellite modem and see that is happening if it's an iDirect or something similar.

Bottom line though is that unless you are taking hits, you should be able to set up downloads of a lot of images and never see a timeout.

- someone who has spent a lot of time doing this (and living off sat connections) in awful places in the world

Comment Re: I thought not all US carriers use LTE (Score 1) 105

I _think_ T-Mobile is planning to drop 2G GSM

It's AT&T that's shutting down EDGE (aka "2G") service in the near future (it may have already happened, as the link says "by the end of 2016"). T-Mobile, OTOH, has committed to keeping its EDGE service going through at least 2020, ostensibly to support gadgets with cellular-data connections that aren't easily updated to newer standards.

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