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Comcast Confessions

Average Re:Such practices REDUCE profit and kill companies (234 comments)

Thanks for posting a link (your CATO one) from 1984. It's rare to get that kind of historical perspective on a site dedicated to modern technology issues.

While you were sleeping, Rip Van Winkle, exclusive local franchise agreements (the crux of that paper) were made illegal by the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

about 2 months ago

Comcast Confessions

Average Re:I wonder when... (234 comments)

They'd discover the same thing phone companies did in the 1990s. Direct calling your customers for an upsell is a good way to create a cancellation.

They'll discover no such thing. In the telephone wars era, you could nearly frictionlessly change your long distance provider (if not your last-mile provider, at first). Most people can't change their cable provider, because that's the only possible provider of internet (above 2Mbps anyway), so they can call you all day and you can fume all day, but one thing you won't do is cancel.

about 2 months ago

Netflix Reduces Physical-Disc Processing, Keeps Prices the Same

Average Netflix is really two companies (354 comments)

I agreed with the company split they tried to implement before.

For all the people who never or barely use the mail side, there are also tens of thousands of rural low-bandwidth customers. Virtually everyone I visit around my in-laws (rural South Dakota, only internet access is via cellular or satellite, either way capped at 3-5GB/month) gets red envelopes.

about 2 months ago

Selectively Reusing Bad Passwords Is Not a Bad Idea, Researchers Say

Average Re:Good since OpenID failed to take over (280 comments)

The thing is, I'm already having to use a password manager to keep track of my valuable passwords. With what, easily a dozen banking-ish relationships (cards, mortgage, retirement, etc) alone. That battle on complexity was lost long ago (ymmv).

Thus, if I've already resorted to a password manager for my valuable life, adding an entry to that vault for even the most trivial sites (and creating a random password) is easier than remembering a throwaway name/pass for even 30 seconds.

It's not that "you need a password manager to post to your local newspaper blog". You don't. It's that, if you're already using a password manager (and I can't imagine living without one now), using it for trivia is trivial.

about 2 months ago

Normal Humans Effectively Excluded From Developing Software

Average It's in what you do with it. (608 comments)

Follow any one stack of learning, "the Ruby way" or "the Drupal way" or "the JSP way", and you can create wonderful small-scale things that, while they might get mocked by the tech-weenie chorus, serve their function and make people happy.

Every hip language/framework/DB/deployment tool/bundler/markup language/food processor is designed to make your day better. Virtually all of them actually do just that (okay, a few will piss you off, but most are not intentionally evil).

The problem is supporting a world with 65 different technologies. It is indeed superhuman to expect someone to be a Groovy/Perl/Node.js/SASS/Hadoop/Puppet/XSLT/AWS/PCI-DSS/Postgres-tweaking/network-routing/desktop-supporting "web guy". (My current job wants that and much more, and, sorry, they don't actually have it in me. I hate faking it. I fake it.)

And, yet, much of the suit-wearing world doesn't understand that, and willfully doesn't want to figure that out. In 1998, they hired "a web guy". If they got successful, they hired five "web guys". Or 20. Those business-people are still looking for "web guys". People who are extreme generalists in "the web" in 2014 are either savants or on the hardcore burnout track.

about 2 months ago

Make a Date With Fraud

Average Re:selfies or it didn't happen (61 comments)

"Never trust" is an exaggeration. It's not a binary.

"Never trust anyone you meet at a party" is a very weak, nearly joking, version of 'never trust' Date them, but don't immediately trust them.

"Never trust some klatch of Ghanaian scammers who you've never actually met in person so much that you send them your entire life's savings and in fact go wildly into debt sending them more money" (as is the advice my uncle got repeatedly and ignored repeatedly) is a much stronger version of 'never trust'.

- can't fix stupid
-- but stupid eventually runs out of money (and credit)

about 3 months ago

Physical Media: Down, But Maybe Not Out

Average Re:Streaming still not an option in many places (116 comments)

Yep. I can name numerous friends and family in rural spots where internet is either Excede, Hughes, or 4G stick. Without exception, they all have a physical-disc NetFlix subscription.

about 3 months ago

Google Fiber: No Charge For Peering, No Fast Lanes

Average Because they compete (238 comments)

"So why does Netflix have to pay?"

Because Netflix competes with Comcast/TWC/AT&T's ka-ching buckets-of-money-spinning video distribution platforms. If Netflix gets popular enough, Comcast is reduced to a dumb internet pipe for $50 a month (profit of $5), not a primarily a video provider ($100+ bills, profits of $20+).

Which is the problem. If Comcast *were* an internet-tube provider (only), they'd generally be pro-peering. They might try to charge Netflix some (they like money), if the market would bear it, but mostly it's to their advantage to peer. However, most of the ISPs in the US are not pure-internet providers, so if Comcast video can use Comcast internet to hamstring Netflix, that's a natural reaction.

about 4 months ago

Are DVDs Inconvenient On Purpose?

Average Rural (490 comments)

Several other people have mentioned it, but there's a lot of off-decent-broadband people out there (get online via satellite or cell-stick). These rural households may only be 5-7% of the nation, but since you see red envelopes in *almost every* country house I'm ever in, it wouldn't surprise me if they make up 15-20% of Netflix's customer base.

about 6 months ago

AT&T Exec Calls Netflix "Arrogant" For Expecting Net Neutrality

Average Re:Reality (466 comments)

"A Federal law to make local monopoly franchises granted by government illegal would be a good start...".

Congress did that. In 1996. There is no local monopoly franchise in your local community. There is, de facto, an economic monopoly/weak duopoly. And in many cases, local governments are actively hostile to competition (because they make a lot from franchise fees from the incumbents and don't want prices to fall). But, what you're asking for? Happened. Is old enough to graduate high school this year.

about 6 months ago

AT&T Exec Calls Netflix "Arrogant" For Expecting Net Neutrality

Average Re:Start the supplanting already (466 comments)

Great and all. Marvelous.

The problem is, there's ALWAYS going to be "the next thing, it's in the lab now". Meanwhile, AT&T dutifully mails me a postcard each month inviting me to switch to the best thing they have to offer here. The exact same 1.5Mb ADSL they rolled out in late 1999 over JFK-era copper.

The SOTA will always keep going up. Nature of things. By the time we overbuild the top 100 metros (with two generations of improvement in the meantime), we'll presumably have off-the-shelf quantum networking components. Que sera sera. Or, if they don't do it, AT&T will be offering me 1.5Mb over copper in 2022. And increasing the chocolate, ahem bit ration to 50GB.

about 6 months ago

AT&T Exec Calls Netflix "Arrogant" For Expecting Net Neutrality

Average Re:Oh, the Copper-Squatters club. (466 comments)

Straight letter-of-the-law, there's no exclusive right to lay copper wires anywhere in the US. No franchise agreements since the Telecommunications Act of 1996 passed are allowed to be exclusive. This theoretically supercedes state, local, and even HOA/apartment management policy.

Now, again, the reality on the ground is very different. Cities can make it very easy for a competitor to come in. Or they can make it almost impossible (not allowing access rights similar to the incumbents, demanding almost-instant universal coverage (while AT&T offers U-Verse on some blocks and 768/128 ADSL in poorer neighborhoods and calls it 'universal coverage')). But, that's on your local and state governments to get over (but, remember, Comcast and AT&T spend a lot of money to keep those roadblocks coming). The Feds opened up the market years ago.

about 5 months ago

AT&T Exec Calls Netflix "Arrogant" For Expecting Net Neutrality

Average Start the supplanting already (466 comments)

Google Fiber, meet Netflix. Netflix, Google Fiber. Amazon Web Services, you in? Apple?

It's time to start more overbuilding. Yes, it's expensive. Yes, Comcast or whoever already has the lines and could bump up to 300Mb plans for $50 at almost no additional cost (making them hard to compete against). But, until you build (and build at a much faster rate than the current Google Fiber projects), this is only going to get worse. You're currently dependent on not just a quasi-monopolist monster, but a wounded and irrational monster (because their TV profits are hurting). You have to bypass them.

It's ugly, I know. There will be communities with roadblocks (overbuilding is supposedly legal everywhere since the Telecom Act of 1996, but reality isn't so pretty). Sad, but true. We'll end up bypassing those communities, too. In every community that welcomes you, BUILD. Fiber is nice, but if you have to go DOCSIS/HFC (fiber to the block/neighborhood) with a better upstream split frequency because of cost, build that... coax is under-rated. But build. You can train high school students to lay coax. You can leverage massive discounts for buying 30 million identical ONUs. Build. Please. For the good of the country and the internet.

about 5 months ago

Mozilla Is Investigating Why Dell Is Charging To Install Firefox

Average Re:Is that legal in the UK? (306 comments)

Any company that is large enough to have more than one person installing software is large enough to be pushing it out through SCCM or any of a half-dozen other solutions like it. If they aren't, they will be quickly replaced by companies who do employ such solutions. A whole SCCM setup, bare-metal up, is cheaper than even one year of one minimum-wage "next clicker".

about 7 months ago

Old cellphones, in my household ...

Average Re:Emergency use (171 comments)

Agree about Sprint's rural coverage being sad. But, for 911 purposes, you aren't helping much. Sprint and Verizon are both CDMA. If you call 911 from a Sprint phone (even a deactivated Virgin Mobile), it will use whatever CDMA network it can find (i.e., typically Verizon or Bell Canada). If you wanted an extra backup 911 phone, I'd suggest a deactivated GSM flip-phone, which would cover the rare instance where the only network is AT&T/T-Mobile/Rogers.

about 7 months ago

At my current workplace, I've outlasted ...

Average Probably should broaden my horizons... (177 comments)

Let's just say... I picked up my 3-digit Slashdot ID on the same floor that I work right now (some department re-organizations later). And I still work with several people that predate me.

Sadly, inflation-adjusted, I also still make about what I did in the 1990s.

about 8 months ago

How loud is your primary computer?

Average Re:no SSDs (371 comments)

32-64GB SSDs ($40-60 range) aren't killing me in my desktop, laptop, or HTPC. Your budget may vary. They boot really fast. I don't need any larger than that because all the big files are off in my basement's cloudland.

about 8 months ago

How loud is your primary computer?

Average Primary? (371 comments)

I hate living with noisy machines. My most powerful computer (running VMs, video-encoding jobs, RAID storage, and the like) is noisy like a Harley convention. It's also in a rack in my basement. Same basic scenario at work. The desktops/laptops/HTPC I actually interact with are all as SSD silent as I can make them.

about 8 months ago

Streaming and Cord-Cutting Take a Toll On the Pay-TV Industry

Average How long will antenna TV last? (261 comments)

It's nice to see a lot of people have rediscovered antenna TV. Since the digital changeover (and the recession), I've seen a good number of aerials sprout up in my neighborhood, something basically dead in the 90s.

The question is, how long can that last? The network affiliates are ever more addicted to their retransmission consent money from the pay-providers. Hell, Comcast owns NBC and the other main networks have heavy ties into the paid TV world. Several of the network executives have already threatened to go paid-only in light of the Aereo decision. There will be a lot more temptation to go dark when the FCC lets them reverse-auction 'their' spectrum to internet/mobile providers in a year or two. Besides that... people like me who watch antenna TV instead of paying for cable are either poor or cheapskates. In neither case, anyone's favorite target market demographic.

It will be a slow shutdown, with all the affiliate agreement model, NFL contracts, and the like. But I think that, in a decade, the free OTA world will pretty much be PBS and maybe a couple of infomercial channels.

about 9 months ago


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