Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

We are sorry to see you leave - Beta is different and we value the time you took to try it out. Before you decide to go, please take a look at some value-adds for Beta and learn more about it. Thank you for reading Slashdot, and for making the site better!

Comments

top

After Complaints, AT&T Solidifies, Increases Data Limit

Geoff-with-a-G Re:Bandwidth Calculations (211 comments)

Until finally, they are throttling once you hit 100KB of bandwidth and they can advertise the world's fastest wireless network since no one can use it.

Yes, that is absolutely a realistic scenario, and definitely not alarmist exaggeration. Got a target date you expect this prediction to be falsifiable?

Meanwhile, on planet Earth where I live, the 95% figure has actually gotten bigger, and they're throttling people AFTER they hit 5%, not asymptotically approaching 5 GB.

more than 2 years ago
top

Obama Orders Federal Agencies To Digitize All Records

Geoff-with-a-G Re:seriously, how hard is this? (186 comments)

Google and it's users seem to be doing a pretty good job of utilizing free text to locate documents.

Or, to put it another way, the problem you're expecting each of these government DBAs to routinely solve required a 100 Billion dollar company which makes a point of hiring geniuses in order to tackle.

I don't think "but Google can do it!" is synonymous with "that problem isn't a big deal"

more than 2 years ago
top

What is Your position on Climate Change?

Geoff-with-a-G Re:My beliefs (695 comments)

This. I might have phrased "more convenient to stick our heads in the sand" a little differently, but This.
I would have voted for this if it was an option, and I wish it was prevalent enough to be acknowledged as one of the major views.
Sadly it doesn't have a catchy label yet like Alarmist or Denialist... Any ideas?

about 3 years ago
top

Netflix To Lose 1 Million Subscribers

Geoff-with-a-G Re:Streaming customers... (349 comments)

Right, I'm not disagreeing with your definition, just pointing out that it doesn't actually exist. I share your dream, but it remains a dream only.

more than 3 years ago
top

Netflix To Lose 1 Million Subscribers

Geoff-with-a-G Re:Streaming customers... (349 comments)

I'll probably end up canceling entirely and go back to waiting for a service to come along that does streaming right.

This is worth emphasizing. This isn't like when Microsoft does something bad and we all praise Apple or Linux. For most of the people complaining that Netflix isn't giving them what they want, there is no other company out there who is.

Know who the closest competitor is, providing unlimited streaming of HD content to your home with a huge selection? Your friendly neighborhood cable company. I'd wager they're charging you quite a bit more than $8/month, and don't let you play everything on demand without extra charges beyond that.

more than 3 years ago
top

Full Duplex Wireless Tech Could Double Bandwidth

Geoff-with-a-G Re:More than double? (60 comments)

Ahhh, indeed that's what I was afraid of, you still need CSMA with back-off times since the medium (the air) is still open to other transmitters. So essentially the "full duplex" here is just using one frequency for both directions at once, just the "double traffic" summarized by TFA. Thanks for the clarification.

And for what it's worth, I've always heard good things about Microsoft Research. It's when the researched ideas make their way (or fail to make their way) into finished products with price tags on them that the friction arises...

more than 3 years ago
top

Full Duplex Wireless Tech Could Double Bandwidth

Geoff-with-a-G More than double? (60 comments)

In wired Ethernet topologies, going full duplex yields significantly more than double the throughput, since you no longer have collisions, back-offs, and re-sends. The article doesn't elaborate whether their full-duplex wireless would still be multi-access (think WiFi, with many clients on the same AP and same channels) or if each frequency would be carved out for one client and the base-station (in which case you'd see the same gains you did on wired Ethernet).

M point is that while they cite "allow a doubling of network traffic", the reality is even better than that. Full duplex gets you more than double throughput, as well as improved jitter/latency since you no longer have to randomly re-transmit frames (or randomly wait to transmit, as with WiFi collision avoidance).

more than 3 years ago
top

Mr. President, There Is No (US) Engineer Shortage

Geoff-with-a-G Re:Shortage of engineering jobs, (580 comments)

If it really costs $13,800 to produce an iPad in a way that doesn't ruin the lives of workers

And by "ruin the lives", you mean improve the lives of those living badly? What do you imagine is the alternative for the poor unfortunate Foxconn worker who Apple employed, if he's not making iPads? Idyllic and prosperous farm life that he was stolen away from by cruel task-masters?

more than 3 years ago
top

Re: the debt deal reached Sunday night ...

Geoff-with-a-G Re:Common Sense, anyone? (788 comments)

I think we're making very similar points,essentially that the numeric "interest" up at the top is not some abstract trick of accountants to pay each other with the government's help. It's an actual representation of real value being created by and for the individuals in an economy. My angle on this is "Warren Buffet's 5% interest isn't a scam, it's 5% more people having food and houses". You angle seems to be "I imagine a model in which people stop building houses and growing food and the whole thing collapses and Warren Buffet can't keep getting his 5%". I don't exactly disagree, but most of your assertions are question begging.

"If it's not decoupled from zero-sum, then it's not really creation." Well yes, but it is decoupled from zero-sum, that's the whole point.
"If we model the whole thing as a box with inputs and outputs, you need infinite inputs to get infinite outputs". Well yes, but that's thermodynamics. It's essentially axiomatic, but it says more about your model than about the real life system you're modeling.

"Value" isn't finite - or I suppose everything in the universe is finite, but many things are so vast as to be orders of magnitude larger than we need for any practical purposes. If we define a system that values only gold, then yes, we're going to run out. If we change the system to value only oil, then yes, we're going to run out.

But again, the merit of the system here is that it values whatever humanity values, and that changes as humanity changes. If it were an argument, you'd accuse your opponent of moving the goal posts and scoff, but it's not an argument. It's life on Earth, and the goalposts are supposed to move.

If you look back at historic economic analysis like Malthus, there was a genuine concern that we were headed to a crash because of finite land and wood. In order to provide heat and energy we needed forests to provide wood, and in order to grow food we needed to cut down the forests and use the land, ergo we're doomed. But then we discovered oil. And fertilizers. And GM crops. And solar and wind and natural gas...

Again, he wasn't wrong that in an abstract way everything is finite, but his model - necessarily - didn't include things he didn't yet know about. Your model tries to reduce everything to "raw materials" and "labor". But not all "raw materials" are created equally, and many are renewable or recyclable, and new sources and new materials are continually discovered. If you narrow the model to focus on one thing at a time, then you'll find it to be dangerously finite, but society gets to adapt and change what it values. For example a vast amount of resources today are spent on entertainment. Surely you don't intend to tell me that's a scarce resource that our all-growth economy will deplete?

The same goes for labor itself. If you treat Labor as a big undifferentiated blob, it makes it easier to model, but if I created something that suddenly transformed 100 Million "unskilled laborers" into workers with PhD level education and 10 years of experience in some field, that would have actual economic value. Which is why people pay for those things. But in a "resources and labor" model, at best it makes the labor blob bigger.

more than 3 years ago
top

Re: the debt deal reached Sunday night ...

Geoff-with-a-G Re:Common Sense, anyone? (788 comments)

We're clearly in agreement regarding Laffer and "unchecked" capitalism, but your otherwise informed and well written post baffles me when I see this:

That's the magic. It comes from nowhere. It is "created" in some twisted sense of the word, but in a real sense, it is "inflated" out of the system. Money doesn't come from nowhere, so ultimately, it essentially devalues the actual labor that everyone else does, by a tiny fraction.

This is nonsense. Not an advanced understanding of the flaws of market capitalism, but rather like you skipped the very beginning chapters. It is not a zero sum system. If you have ten guys standing around, and you pay for a bunch of wood and tools and pay them to set off West and build a logging camp, you're not just shuffling money and resources around. When you sell the lumber and have more money than you started with, that profit didn't get "magically created from nowhere", nor did you devalue the economy at large. On the contrary, an economy which initially contained a chunk of lumber and tools now contains a working logging camp. Actual net value has been added.

On a micro-scale, this is intuitive and easy to understand, and the rates of growth (and risk) can be huge. People understand "investing" their time and "capital" into some venture which may succeed and pay off huge. When you start abstracting out "capital" as dollars instead of a pile of tools, and the labor of workers as more dollars and employment numbers, now it starts to look like numbers appearing from nowhere. Yes, inflation is a real thing, so is seigniorage. But the fact that these two things exist does not mean all growth is fiction or inflation.

Forget the currency for a minute and establish some concrete things of value. Gold? Gallons of milk? Houses? The economy of the United States contains more of these objects than it did last year. Actual value was "created". Not from thin air, but by investing capital and labor into productive enterprises (mining gold, milking cows, building houses, etc). The interest just abstracts this process. The debt holder invested that money somewhere, meaning that they put it to use, at some risk, in order to fuel productive enterprises.

Maybe it's not very intuitive, but when Warren Buffet stashed $200K in a savings account somewhere, the bank that was holding onto it and paying him 1% interest was loaning it out as a mortgage to someone and charging them 6% interest (both to profit the bank for this work and to compensate them for the risk of default). The home buyer in turn gave that $200K to the owner of the home (both compensating them for the land and allowing them to in turn pay the builders who built the house).

tl;dr - It may just look like Warren Buffet gets a free percent or two on his money, but really he's paying carpenters to build houses where people can live.

more than 3 years ago
top

Re: the debt deal reached Sunday night ...

Geoff-with-a-G Re:Common Sense, anyone? (788 comments)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deadweight_loss

It's fairly conventional economics, unless you're taking it so far as to say that cutting marginal rates increases revenues (the "Laffer" effect). Even that is essentially axiomatic, at a certain marginal rate. I'd happily grant that we're nowhere near said rate though.

"Unchecked capitalism" is hardly a good thing, but it certainly doesn't exist in the US. You can have an informed argument about whether we should remove a particular tax or regulation, whether we should add another particular tax or regulation, but we're hardly living in an un-taxed un-regulated anarcho-capitalist free market.

Lastly:

Evidence suggest they save most of it, and earn yet more money off of it by saving it in such a way that they earn the most interest and are taxed the least.

Where is it you imagine this "interest" comes from?

more than 3 years ago
top

US Senate Votes For Repeal of Ethanol Subsidies

Geoff-with-a-G Re:Subsidies and markets (395 comments)

The "trillions for bankers" weren't subsidies, they were loans. Said loans were already paid back, with interest.

The Ethanol subsidies aren't getting paid back, and they aren't all going to "farmers" (unless you count massive Ag companies like Cargill or ConAgra as "farmers"), and they aren't even an effective use of subsidy to fund alternative fuels. The real advocates for bio-fuels will tell you that sugar cane works better than corn, and switchgrass works better than cane.

Corn ethanol subidies were always a gift to the Ag companies, which were extra important due to the early position of Iowa in the presidential primaries.

more than 3 years ago
top

White House To Announce IT-Powered Smart Grid

Geoff-with-a-G Re:What this is really about (320 comments)

My understanding is that power usage could be remotely controlled in case of emergency.

And here on Slashdot, we all love giving the government (and utility companies) extra power and control over ourselves, which we trust them only to use responsibly in proper emergencies, right?

more than 3 years ago
top

White House To Announce IT-Powered Smart Grid

Geoff-with-a-G Grid capacity not the same as energy usage (320 comments)

When the load is lower (like at night) they turn down generation (stop using goal, gas, oil, etc) at various power plants. As the load rises, they turn those plants back up to meet that load. The fact that the grid isn't "at capacity" doesn't mean you're wasting energy, it means you're saving energy, by not burning as much fuel. The grid itself does have limits too, but not running it at those limits is like driving your truck around without loading it down to 100% of it's carrying capacity. That's not exactly waste.

Now that's not to say that there isn't energy wasted in the grid due to other factors like transmission, but a surplus of "grid capacity" is not the same thing as a surplus (or waste) of power.

more than 3 years ago
top

Why Doesn't 'Google Kids' Exist?

Geoff-with-a-G Re:well... (561 comments)

And when "Google Kids" fails to filter something you consider inappropriate (either because they don't share your views, or just due to the challenges and limitations of determining and filtering content automatically) then lawsuits and bad press ensues. Bad for the Google brand all around.

In general, Google's strategy seems to be focused on providing tons of really great free, best effort services. If Gmail fails to deliver your email one day, it's not like you can sue. If Google Maps gives you wrong directions, [shrug], use Mapquest. But if Google Kids started showing kids porn/violence/subversive material, I think there would be a fair amount of public outrage.

more than 3 years ago
top

How To Succeed In IT Without Really Trying

Geoff-with-a-G Context matters more than title or status (283 comments)

I've worked as contractor, then consultant, now employee, at different places. Even with my skills and motivation remaining the same, one thing I've noticed as an employee is that the company trusts and believes me less than it does consultants.

With three years of specific knowledge in the design, implementation, and support details of our actual network, I can tell them that solution X won't be a good fit for us and they'll ignore it. An IBM consultant can come in an do a week of interviews, two weeks of reading documentation, and tell them the same exact thing I did, but now they take it very seriously. It's not about skills or experience - four years ago I was that IBM consultant. It's about context.

They're paying me a moderate amount to work on whatever projects my supervisor assigns to me, and they'll keep on paying me that same moderate amount unless I do something really awful. They're paying the consultant(s) a huge amount specifically for the task of investigating this option and delivering a formal recommendation. They can document somewhere that "senior management engaged a highly regarded firm to evaluate the options and said firm provided the attached 75 page recommendation" - as opposed to "one of the guys from the network department told us our idea was dumb." Also, if they're paying $200/hour for advice, they'll take it more seriously than advice they're "getting for free" (obviously salaries aren't free, but there's no marginal dollar cost for additional work)

Similarly, not all employees are created equal, and again context matters. Being in a Profit Center rather than a Cost Center makes a huge difference. In a profit center, they want the best possible perceived quality, since that can translate into increased profits. In a cost center, they basically want people who are good enough not to screw anything up, but there's no point in spending extra on excellence.

Note that I said perceived quality. For both consultants and employees, Perceived Value is more important to your advancement and compensation than Actual Value. This leads to TFA's perception that having actual value doesn't matter, but it's not quite that simple. I still feel better about my job when I know I'm doing it well and providing value to the company, and that's a good thing. But if I don't help my management to see that, and some charismatic underachiever puts all his effort into appearing valuable, I won't be all that shocked when he gets promoted and I don't.

There's no easy rules about unions good/bad or consultants good/bad or working "hard" good/bad, it's the context that matters.

more than 3 years ago
top

Georgia Tech's ShaperProbe Detects ISP Traffic Manipulation

Geoff-with-a-G Re:ADVERTISED FEATURE of Time Warner and Comcast (113 comments)

This is true, and furthermore "shaping" is one of the nicer/friendlier methods of managing traffic contention.

The "my plan says 10 Meg I demand 10 Meg!" argument is simply not technically valid. If the ISP has 10G of upstream to a carrier and more than 1,000 customers, it's not physically possible for everyone to run unlimited 10 Mbps all the time. So now that there's a possibility of contention, the good/bad lies in how the provider limits you, not if.

Possibly the worst is usage caps. After transferring X GB of data they either up-charge you or knock your speed way down. You don't want this.
Next is free-for-all. This just means your traffic and everyone else's goes into a buffer, waiting to transmit across the congested link. As the buffer gets full, new packets tail-drop. Better than caps, but not much. Google "bufferbloat" to see some of the problems this creates, but the quick answer is that it's bad for VoIP/streaming and it actually worsens the congestion itself. AQM/WRED can mitigate this a bit, but it still loses valuable information by keeping all traffic undifferentiated.
Then there's policing. This just means that if your traffic exceeds a certain rate (let's say they limit your 10M to 8M) it's dropped immediately. Not as bad as it sounds, but TCP still would rather a packet be delayed for a few msec than dropped and retransmitted.
Lastly is shaping. This attempts to take your input and limit it to a slower output, just like policing, but instead of dropping your packets, now we delay them. If you transmit at 10M, we send your first 8M then wait a second before sending more. TCP windowing adjusts more gracefully and your connection just becomes a working 8M without so much delay and retransmission.

People get irritated at the idea that someone somewhere is doing something to their Internet traffic, but as contention/congestion management goes, this sort of shaping is actually one of the best options.

more than 3 years ago
top

Firefox 4 Released!

Geoff-with-a-G Re:FF 4 (554 comments)

And why optimize for the common case when you can optimize for "a guy in the SA forums" ?

more than 3 years ago
top

Got (Buffer) Bloat?

Geoff-with-a-G Re:Keeping big buffers but managing them better (121 comments)

I understand that QoS policies can be written neutral, my concern is that they won't be. Dismissing the actions of ISPs and carriers as "a market problem" doesn't really constitute useful policy. Similarly, ignoring all network hosts who aren't FLOSS apps written after 2011 is also not helpful.

The issues being examined in the bufferbloat discussions are not about whether there is a technically possible solution somewhere in the world (indeed, both ECN and AQM have been around for a while). The issues relate to providing a robust Internet which can be/is administered by a large and diverse group of self-interested organizations in such a way that it productively serves a vastly diverse population of clients. Ignoring the ISPs, carriers, and non-FLOSS users isn't solving the problem, it's ignoring the problem.

more than 3 years ago
top

Got (Buffer) Bloat?

Geoff-with-a-G Re:Keeping big buffers but managing them better (121 comments)

Indeed, when I referenced "net neutrality", I wasn't referring to the specific implementation by the FCC, but rather the concept itself. The actual language does include an exception for "reasonable network management", but many network neutrality proponents were (I think somewhat rightfully) concerned at the size and flexibility of such a loophole.

Several providers saw their networks being loaded up with bit-torrent, and believed that limiting that specific protocol would constitute "reasonable network management". Naturally, many readers of slashdot disagreed. Also as I mentioned in the previous comment, I believe a triple-play provider could plausibly concoct a "reasonable network management" policy that would favor their own traffic without referencing themselves specifically. Say that Comcast used a different UDP port range for their RTP/VoIP bearer than Vonage did. Or say that to avoid allowing users to overwhelm priority queues, they refused to mark VoIP based on ports, but rather required it be destined for "verified legitimate voice gateways" (ie those administered by or registered formally with the provider, thus preventing Skype direct calls and the like from being priority-queued).

I am of course speculating wildly, but my point is that these unintended consequences are conceivable and that proponents of absolute network neutrality should be aware of the trade-offs with QoS (and vice versa). Also that while "Net Neutrality is supposed to prevent these companies from taking unfair advantage of their position as network providers, not about making them worse network providers", history is littered with laws and corporate policies that were "supposed to" achieve all sorts of laudable goals, but instead lead to unexpected exploitation by self-interested parties. I have no perfect solution in mind; I'm simply trying to call attention to the trade-offs involved and warn of possible unintended consequences.

more than 3 years ago

Submissions

Geoff-with-a-G hasn't submitted any stories.

Journals

Geoff-with-a-G has no journal entries.

Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?