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Comment Why didn't it blow up in the heteros? (Score 4, Interesting) 251

Why didn't AIDS become as big in the hetero community -- or did it, and the media has never reported it that way? I know its a problem in Africa, but I'm most interested in the US.

Female-to-male spread harder? Lower frequency sex in heteros? Lower sex partner churn in heteros?

I came of age in the 1980s when AIDS was a big deal and frankly, almost never was it something I found my female partners to be concerned with. They worried about pregnancy, although even that was often not taken too seriously.

Comment How granular is "real time" and will TSA care? (Score 3, Interesting) 56

Will you literally be able to track your bag accurately through the airport or will it be generic "stations" like "ticketing, tram loading, tarmac, plane"?

Either way, I'm curious about what TSA thinks about this. In theory this gives parties with ill intent some kind of idea where bags go and when and could used for nefarious purposes.

On the up side, if your bag stalls it may be a sign you're being robbed or TSA is detailing the contents (or both!).

Comment Re:The few Web 1.0 Sites. (Score 2) 23

I agree with your sentiment, but not your conclusion. That is, Yahoo doesn't inspire disgust or outrage for me. I don't hate Yahoo the way I hate some companies. The feeling that Yahoo inspires in me is something more like, "meh." It's the site that was part of the early web, and then became one of those lame portals, along with such stellar inspirations of "meh" as AOL and MSN, that you might find some piece of semi-malware switched your homepage to.

However, I don't think that means the brand is worth salvaging, specifically because the brand inspires a sense of "meh". If I hear Google or Apple is about to introduce a brand new product, my expectation is that it's probably going to be something interesting. Even if Twitter announced that they'd be introducing a big change, I'd be curious and want to find out what it is. If Yahoo announces big changes coming, I expect that they're going to be shuffling around their existing semi-competent me-too products-- like maybe they're going to have a new theme for their portal, or their webmail will introduce "labels", or something similarly uninspired.

Maybe I'm wrong. I know people have a good association with Yahoo Finance. Do people still use Yahoo webmail or Yahoo Messenger? Is Yahoo Answers used for purposes other than trolling? Are there other services that are popular that I've just lost track of?

Also, and admittedly I'm just basing this on my own perceptions, but I don't think "Yahoo!" is a very good name for what they're trying to be. Sure, it's kind of fun, but it would be more appropriate branding for a Flash game website or something of that kind. If you'd never heard of the company and it were just being introduced today, I don't think "Yahoo!" would be considered a good choice for a web portal, news site, or a tech conglomerate. It's too playful and not serious enough. Verizon already owns AOL, and I think the name and branding for "AOL" is going to play better in this day and age, and I'm not sure it makes sense to maintain both brands.

On the other hand, it's not clear to me what Verizon wants from these purchases. It might be less about what companies like AOL and Yahoo can provide, and more about trying funnel the people using them as an ISP to content they own and control.

Comment Also phone service was fucking expensive (Score 1) 193

Back in the day phone lines were so much, you didn't get to have your own phone line. You had a "party line". What's that? That's where everyone in your area as the same phone line. One line, multiple houses. It would ring a different number of times to tell you who the call was for, and if you wanted to call out and someone else was using the line you had to wait. Also this meant everyone could listen in on your calls, of course. However, that was the only way phone was affordable for most people. That's not to mention the cost of long distance, which in the old days was anything off your local exchange.

And for all the bitching about Internet service, it does keep getting better, by a lot. When I first got connected to the 'net 14.4kbps was all I could get. Faster modems were out at the time, but that's all my ISP supported. As time has gone on, I've got a steady and fairly regular set of speed increases until now I have a 300mbit connection. About 21,000 times speed increase in around 21 years. Not too bad, overall. Price is in the same ballpark too. Currently I pay $100/month for that connection. Back in the day it was $20/month for Internet and about $25/month for a second phone line, I can't remember precisely. So about $70/month in today's dollars. For that price I'd have to step down to 150mbit Internet, if we wanted to keep all things far. Still 10,000x faster. Not really that bad for a couple decades, particularly compared to a lot of other, more mature technologies. My electric service sure isn't 10,000x as good as it was in the 90s.

So ya, fiber and gig or 10gig Internet hasn't come to everywhere yet. So what? It is getting rolled out, perhaps not as fast as we geeks would like, but it is still happening, and tech improvements are increasing bandwidth on copper formats as well. What we have now works well for most people, and the improvements we've seen are not insignificant.

Comment Contact the ISPs in your area (Score 1) 193

You can get fiber, if you are actually willing to pay. You just aren't willing to pay for it.

What I mean is they'll sell you a fiber connection, as fast as you'd like, but you'll have to pay the full costs. You pay what it takes to have the line run and installed, and then you pay the full rate for an unmetered dedicated connection and they'll do it. Real enterprise class service with a nice SLA and all that. Thing is, that is going to run 5 figured (maybe 6) on the install and 4 figures or more for the monthly. That's what it really costs, that's what actually running dedicated fiber costs and what dedicated bandwidth costs.

What you want is CHEAP fiber. You want them to roll out a PON network on their dollar, and then sell you can your neighbours access to share that bandwidth for a low price. That's fine to want, but demanding it as if they owe you is unreasonable. Particularly since for something like that to be economically feasible everyone needs to be willing to pay, not just you. If it is a shared network, with the costs not being paid upfront, then a bunch of people need to pay, and need to do so for a fair bit of time.

If you look in to it, you'll find more than a few people that have no fucks to give about fast Internet. any modern service is "fast enough" for them. You can't convince them to spend on higher speed connections. My parents are like that. They have 12mbit cable. They can buy at least 100mbit where they live, maybe more (I haven't checked lately). They just won't. They are happy with what they have. They've used faster Internet, when they visit me they get to use mine which is 300mbit, but they don't care. To them what they have is good enough and they would rather spend the money on other things.

So if you are really willing to pay, and I mean pay the actual installation, operation, and bandwidth costs for dedicated fiber line, you can have that. However if you aren't willing to, and I can't blame you if you aren't, you can't then demand that they should give you stuff for cheap.

Comment That last bit is the real trick (Score 1) 193

We are pretty good these days about keeping track of shit. Probably not as good as we should be, but still pretty good. However we have LOTS of old infrastructure. The documentation can be bad or non-existent. There's not an easy way to deal with, unfortunately, since it isn't like we can just open up an access panel and have a look at what's there. It'll continue to be a problem for a long time, perhaps forever.

Comment Re:of course the do! (Score 1) 77

Sort of. It wasn't that they didn't "want an expensive show", but that Farscape's time slot had a good enough lead-in (which I believe was SG1 at the time) that they could put something cheap and crappy into the time slot and still get decent ratings. Not necessarily great ratings, not even ratings as good as Farscape, but good enough that the savings in making a cheaper show would still make the time slot more profitable overall.

This is a fairly common thing. Let's say you have a popular half-hour sitcom at 8pm, and another popular one at 9pm. You might think that the smart thing is to put a 3rd popular show at 8:30, so that you'd really lock people in, but if you pay attention, that's not typically what happens. Instead they put a weaker show (or a new show they're trying out) into the 8:30 slot, since they know that being sandwiched between two popular shows will mean it gets pretty good ratings, even though it stinks. Basically, a lot of people will watch a crappy show because they're too lazy to change the channel.

So that was the rumor on what lead to the demise of Farscape. It was getting good enough ratings to make money, but SciFi thought the time slot had good enough shows around it that they could fill the slot with a cheap crappy show, and people would still watch it.

Even if that's not really what happened to Farscape (and who really knows?), the point remains that the way advertising and time slots work have an influence on the kinds of programs that are produced. As DVR and streaming services have become more common, some of those effects are probably becoming less pronounced. In a service like Netflix (where their original programs aren't aired on broadcast TV at all), these kinds of considerations shouldn't have any effect at all.

Comment And project Ara was doomed to failure? (Score 2) 102

It sure seems like some people would be into a modular phone, considering what they're willing to invest in cosmetic-only upgrades with no functional purpose.

Maybe the Ara project approached it wrong -- rather than looking at phone upgrades from a purely geek-centric perspective of specific hardware improvement modularity, maybe they should have considered the "trend" factor would be a driving force -- ie, people would be willing to buy modules that weren't really an upgrade, but instead were popular or had some other trend factor.

Comment Re:Laying cable (Score 1) 193

That seems high considering the local gas utility has been replacing gas lines in the neighborhood (largely built in the mid-50s), and I would imagine that active work on natural gas lines is more complicated than laying fiber -- ie, you can't disrupt gas service and you're dealing with a flammable and potentially explosive gas.

I would imagine that the equipment side of a fiber rollout would have a lot of costs as you would have all the expensive networking gear to deal with, but the actual directional drilling part wouldn't be as complex as a live natural gas distribution system.

Comment Re:Filter theory might be correct (Score 2) 906

Cooler heads? Kennedy blockaded Cuba, a direct military threat to the Soviet Union.

I think interdependence is a bigger reason it wouldn't happen. The major nuclear powers in the 1960s were largely self-sustaining, and wiping part of the map wouldn't have had much an impact. At worst we may have had some dependencies on third world countries for raw materials in some of the same sectors we had in WW II, like rubber

Now? Even a six month major disruption in economic activity would bring even the US to its knees as we can't make much of what we need at home, and its probably worse elsewhere. The US has the know-how (probably) to jump-start its manufacturing base given a 3-5 year strategic commitment to investment, but we would need to operate at WW II levels of rationing and economic intervention.

There's also the question of elite status -- the elites are in a powerful position in terms of economic status and political power, there's no telling what even a limited nuclear exchange would do to them. A handful may become more powerful, but it seems more likely that a large number would lose their status forever, either due to the economic disruption or due to outright nationalization of assets and the promotion of national security/military interests.

Comment Re:Spoofing? (Score 1) 75

I'm pretty sure nuclear plants aren't run by just one guy who logs in when he gets a pager message and then hits the "shut down plant" button.

There's an entire staff and it would take spoofing all of them and making the on site people not believe the actual plant control systems to take an action that would be "wrong".

Comment Re:Filter theory might be correct (Score 3, Insightful) 906

I don't think a global nuclear was is likely. I think it's more likely that a small state actor that has nuclear weapons ends up getting hit in a pre-emptive or punitive strike for credibly threatening or actually using one against the US or Russia in a single strike.

Should that happen, it seems unlikely that a major nuclear power would risk some kind of retaliation what would surely end up mutual destruction.

I also doubt that any small state actor, no matter how apparently crazy, would try to do so because you just can't fight and win a nuclear war with Russia, China or the US. The Iranians or the North Koreans simply lack the ability to hit a major player hard enough to prevent an overwhelming retaliatory strike that would be the end of the regime and knock back the country's development by at least 500 years.

If we didn't have a nuclear war in the early 1960s, we aren't having one now.

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