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Comments

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The Reporter's Fifth Amendment Paradox

JSBiff Re:The Stupid. It Burns (452 comments)

I'd say the smart thing to do in that case is just testify. Then, if they TRY to prosecute you, you just point out that you were compelled to give testimony which incriminates you, which violated your 5th amendment right, and therefor, the testimony is inadmissible as evidence.

Although, to rebut my own argument: it's often more complicated than that - because you might not want them to know you ever used drugs to begin with, because once they know that, they might start investigating you, and once they start investigating you, they might find evidence to convict you completely separately from the inadmissable testimony, and if you hadn't testified to begin with, maybe they wouldn't be looking.

about a year ago
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The Reporter's Fifth Amendment Paradox

JSBiff Clarification of analogy (452 comments)

I made a sort of incomplete statement of analogy above. I meant to write,

"How is refusing to testify against a murder or rapist, for example, and different, than hiding. . ."

about a year ago
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The Reporter's Fifth Amendment Paradox

JSBiff Refusing to testify makes you an accomplice? (452 comments)

It seems to me that those who protect the guilty are colluding to obstruct justice, and prevent the prosecution of a crime.

How is refusing to testify, any different, than hiding a murderer or rapist in your basement? It would seem like you are attempting to shield them from justice. What am I missing?

However, the catch-22 in that argument, is that if they haven't been convicted yet, how can we say you are protecting a criminal? We cant, so. . . I think someone should be able to refuse to testify, and not *immediately* be guilty of a crime merely for not testifying, but if the other person is later found guilty and convicted, and the prosecutor has solid evidence you knew and refused to testify, then you should be able to be prosecuted separately for obstruction or some similar charge.

about a year ago
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What's the Best RSS Reader Not Named Google Reader?

JSBiff oldreader melting down (287 comments)

So, the old reader seems to be having problems with the sudden influx of refugees. I was able to login, but import is currently disabled, so I can't import all my feeds from G Reader yet. Hopefully they'll find some way to scale up to the new demand, soon.

about a year ago
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NASA Restarts Plutonium Production

JSBiff Re:UN Sanctions Against the US (139 comments)

Wait, so you don't see any difference between a government lead by a bunch of religious extremists who put dogma before facts, human welfare and compassion, and. . . Iran? Wait. . . maybe the US shouldn't have nukes. . .

about a year ago
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NASA Restarts Plutonium Production

JSBiff Wrong plutonium (139 comments)

The isotope of PU used by NASA is not the type you make bombs from. I guess you could freak people out by spreading some radioactive material with a 'dirty bomb' - but basically, dirty bombs are a psychological weapon more than an actual hazard - they get people to panic and hurt themselves. They don't do much or any direct damage.

They type NASA uses won't fission (which is what you need for a nuclear mushroom-cloud, city destroying type explosion). It only decays, and as it decays, it produces a lot of heat and radiation (which, in a spacecraft, gets converted to heat also). NASA uses the heat to create electric power using a device called an RTG - Radioisotope thermal generator, which directly converts heat to electricity without any turbines (although, much less efficiently than a steam or gas turbine, but that's not a big concern for NASA).

about a year ago
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Islamist Hackers Shut Down Egyptology Research Journal

JSBiff Re:We could start by ending the double standard. . (564 comments)

We are talking about one particular method here. I have no problem with people helping others to get around censorship and get communications. On the other hand, *attacking* others to deny them free speech (e.g. taking down their website), I can essentially almost never agree with.

about a year and a half ago
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Islamist Hackers Shut Down Egyptology Research Journal

JSBiff Re:We could start by ending the double standard. . (564 comments)

Fair point, about the punishments compared to other crimes. Perhaps you are even right about their actually being no double standard, but it has appeared to me that in the tech community, there is some amount of approval for some of the actions of Anonymous and similar groups.

about a year and a half ago
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Islamist Hackers Shut Down Egyptology Research Journal

JSBiff Re:We could start by ending the double standard. . (564 comments)

Yes, that's true that many people condemn Anonymous for shutting down websites, but my point is, there's enough people that hold them up as some sort of 'heroes', that as a society, we send a bit of a mixed message about what's appropriate, even if it *is* illegal.

about a year and a half ago
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Islamist Hackers Shut Down Egyptology Research Journal

JSBiff We could start by ending the double standard. . . (564 comments)

Perhaps it would send a clearer message if we stopped celebrating some groups for hacking and DOS's websites of people, governments or companies we don't like?

After all, if it's ok for Anonymous to harass websites who don't conform to "our" cultural preferences, then I suppose it's ok for anyone to harass any website they don't agree with. . .

about a year and a half ago
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Fukushima's Fallout of Fear

JSBiff And not being allowed to return home (124 comments)

In many parts of the evacuated zone, the "contamination" is so small and insignificant that health experts have stated that people could safely return home. However, the government of Japan, instead of trying to educate people about the true risks (or lack thereof) decided they were going to keep the area empty until it could all be "cleaned up" at enormous expense.

So, the public is left with the impression that the government must know it's too dangerous to return, so it must be, right? So, they are depressed that a nuclear accident evicted them from their family home (which may have belonged to the family for generations - in Japan, a home staying in the family for very long periods of time is not uncommon) and they won't be able to return in their lifetime.

The government should just let people return to the very low contamination areas, which ARE SAFE for human habitation, educate them about the risks, and let them get on with their lives.

about a year and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: Should Scientists Build a New Particle Collider In Japan?

JSBiff I have the answer! (292 comments)

I thought about it, and I've come to a definite conclusion. . .

I don't know bupkus about linear accelerators, so I'll let the scientists and engineers who DO KNOW figure it out.

about a year and a half ago
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New Call For Turing Pardon

JSBiff Re:Pardon Turing, convict us? (231 comments)

Honestly, it depends on how the laws are written that legalize a former crime. It's perfectly possible (and I suspect this may be part of the Washington and Colorado initiatives, though I haven't checked) for a new law to state that a former law is repealed, and also that any prior convictions under the previous law shall be vacated.

about a year and a half ago
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Solar Panels For Every Home?

JSBiff Re:Irony of "affordable" German solar panels (735 comments)

According to multiple sources I checked, the feed-in tariff for solar power is around 22 cents per kWh. That might only be 3% higher than other power sources in Germany, since Germany imports a lot of expensive gas and stuff, but that's still an expensive power source.

about a year and a half ago
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Solar Panels For Every Home?

JSBiff Re:Irony of "affordable" German solar panels (735 comments)

Here in the States, all nuclear power plants are required to put a certain amount of the revenue for each kWh sold into a decommissioning fund. I've heard it comes to around a penny per kWh (which isn't a large increase in power rates, by any means).

The thing about nuclear power plants is they produce epically large amounts of power, over a long period of time, and the fuel costs are close to zero on a per-kWh basis. So, even though a plant might cost Billions to build, and another Billion or two to decomission, it's still cost effective.

Here in the States, one of the utilities called The Southern Company is building a new two-reactor NPP at the Vogtle Power Station site. It's estimated to cost $14Bn. Nuclear plants typically seem to get cost overruns, and this is a first-of-it's kind design (well, first in the US anyhow; the AP-1000 reactor). So, let's say it runs to $18Bn and another $2Bn for decommissioning and fuel disposal, for $20Bn total cost (maybe it'll be a little more, maybe a little less; you can argue with the accuracy of my numbers, but this should get us to a reasonable approximation of the actual figures within say 5 or 10%).

The AP-1000 is rated at 1117MW per reactor output (in the future, this may be able to be retrofit to higher output; that has commonly happened at other NPP's, but we'll assume constant power output over the life of the plant).

So, assuming a 60 year life for the reactors and 90% Capacity Factor, how many kWh would each reactor potentially be able to generate and sell?

1117MW * 1000 KW per MW * 24 hours per day * 365.25 days per year * 60 years * .9 capacity factor = 528,747,588,000 kWh.

That is a LOT of kiloWatt-hours. So, assuming a market price of around 5 cents per kiloWatt-hours, how much total revenue is that?

528,747,588,000 * .05 = $26,437,379,400

That's $6Bn per reactor of gross profit. Of course, there's fuel costs, insurance costs, operation and maintenance costs, which could really add up to a few Bn (particularly if there's any very expensive maintenance that has to be done in the future, such as being faced by San Onofre or Crystal River nuclear plants).

Still, that's affordable energy - much more so than solar power or wind.

about a year and a half ago
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Solar Panels For Every Home?

JSBiff Re:Irony of "affordable" German solar panels (735 comments)

Most of the "cost" of a nuclear accident is largely imaginary. What do I mean? The Government of Japan has convinced people that it's not safe to return to their homes and businesses in the areas around Fukushima. The science indicates that the levels are so low in the vast majority of the area, it *is* safe for people to go back, live their lives, and they'll be fine. However, when there's a small release of material from a nuclear plant that spreads over a very wide area, we say that all the property owners have to be evacuated and compensated for the property.

I'm sorry, but I don't accept that imaginary damages make nuclear power too expensive. If people had a rational, realistic knowledge of the real risks (or lack thereof) of living in the "Evacuation Zone".

Yes, there will definitely be some very real costs associated to cleanup - but the bulk of the "cost" apportioned to Fukushima are going to be imaginary damages for compensating people for their perfectly find and safe property.

about a year and a half ago
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Solar Panels For Every Home?

JSBiff Irony of "affordable" German solar panels (735 comments)

"In the case of my parents' house (southern Germany, pretty high electricity prices of ~0.25 Euros/kWh), I think a small photovoltaic installation might amortize itself within a few years."

So, the solar panels are cost effective because the cost of electricity is high. The next logical question is, why is German electricity so expensive?

In large part, because of Solar power feed-in tariffs which German utilities are required to pay people who generate surplus solar power with their power panels (so, yeah, it's cheaper to buy your own solar power, than buy solar power from someone else's roof or solar farm, and pay a middle man to markup the power and transmit it).

If they had planned to build a few more nuclear plants a decade or two ago, instead of planning to shut down their existing nuclear plants in a few years, they'd likely have cheaper power by now.

But, yes, if cheap power isn't available from the grid, then you may as well generate your own expensive electricity instead of buying someone else's expensive electricity. Grids make sense only when the power the grid can provide you is cheaper than making your own, or you can get it in quantities larger than you can produce with reasonably priced equipment of your own.

about a year and a half ago
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Playstation Controller Runs Syrian Rebel Tank

JSBiff They're gonna get pwned. . . (232 comments)

. . . by the guys using a mouse and keyboard. Everyone knows the accuracy and response time of an optical mouse is an order of magnitude greater than a d-stick.

about a year and a half ago
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Hackers Stole Information From IAEA Servers

JSBiff That's only partly true. . . (55 comments)

"considering the "waste" of power plants is what you put in bombs."

Not in general - spent nuclear fuel from a reactor that's been running for 18 months has a lot of fision products and decay products which make worthless for use in weapons. If you really want to create weapons grade plutonium, you put fuel slugs in the reactor and only run the reactor for something like 30 days, then pull the fuel out - you breed enough plutonium to extract, while not producing much of the "junk" which ruins it for weapons use. But, you can't breed much in 30 days. So, you need to do this over and over and over, then take all that fuel, run it through a PUREX type reprocessing plant to seperate the Plutonium, and enrich the PU up to 90%+ purity.

Because of this, no nation has EVER made bombs from spent nuclear fuel - they use dedicated-purpose reactors for making bomb material. Now, on the other hand, *enrichment* facilities are of great concern, because if you can enrich uranium to 5%, you can enrich it to 99%, and make a Uranium bomb. But, for a uranium bomb, you don't need a reactor at all.

about a year and a half ago
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Hackers Stole Information From IAEA Servers

JSBiff What is the nature of the data they stole? (55 comments)

As far as I know, IAEA is energy focused, not weapons, and so wouldn't keep things like CAD files for nuclear weapons or parts on its server. From the article, it sounds like it was information stolen about people who've worked with/for IAEA?

about a year and a half ago

Submissions

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MIT Study: Prolonged Low-level Radiation Damage Heals

JSBiff JSBiff writes  |  more than 2 years ago

JSBiff (87824) writes "A new study from MIT scientists suggests that the guidelines governments use to determine when to evacuate people following a nuclear accident may be too conservative.

The study, led by Bevin Engelward and Jacquelyn Yanch and published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, found that when mice were exposed to radiation doses about 400 times greater than background levels for five weeks, no DNA damage could be detected."

Link to Original Source
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NOAA Study: Radiation from Fukushima very dilluted, seafood safe

JSBiff JSBiff writes  |  more than 2 years ago

JSBiff (87824) writes "Ars Technica is reporting on a study by NOAA scientists who surveyed the ocean near Fukushima, which concludes that while a lot of radioactivity was released into the water, as would be expected, it dilluted out to levels that pose little risk to wildlife or humans, and that the seafood is safe to eat.

Perhaps we needn't worry so much about "millions of gallons of radioactive water" being released into the ocean, like it's a major environmental disaster, as it's really not — the ocean is many orders of magnitude larger than any accidental release of radiation which might happen from a nuclear plant."

Link to Original Source
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Berkeley Research Suggests Low Radiation Damage Do

JSBiff JSBiff writes  |  more than 2 years ago

JSBiff (87824) writes "Breast Cancer researches at the Berkeley National Lab will be publishing a study, in which they, "have found evidence to suggest that for low dose levels of ionizing radiation, cancer risks may not be directly proportional to dose. This contradicts the standard model for predicting biological damage from ionizing radiation – the linear-no-threshold hypothesis or LNT – which holds that risk is directly proportional to dose at all levels of irradiation."

The evidence grows that low-level radiation should not be viewed as a threat to public health."
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Japan re-opens some towns near Fukushima

JSBiff JSBiff writes  |  more than 2 years ago

JSBiff (87824) writes "Bloomberg, among others, is reporting that the Japanese govt has partially lifted the evacuation order, allowing residents to return to 5 towns previously in the evacuation zone. Additionally, a key milestone has been reached in achieving a full "cold shutdown" of the damaged reactors — the temperature of all three reactors has dropped below 100 deg. C.

It's a shame that they were unable to return home for 6 months, and for people who lived closer to the plant, they might never be allowed to return home. Now the question is, will residents actually *want* to return, other than to maybe retrieve stuff they left behind?"

Link to Original Source
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NRC Study lowers hazard estimate for Nuke Plants

JSBiff JSBiff writes  |  more than 2 years ago

JSBiff writes "With the incident at Fukushima causing much renewed concern about the risks of nuclear power this year, the New York Times reports that The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has released the preliminary version of a report due out in April 2012, based upon new science about the behavior of Cesium-137, which finds that the public health hazards of nuclear accidents at the types or reactor designs currently in common use, are lower than previously thought, based upon older, outdated scientific knowledge."
Link to Original Source
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Arstechnica.com infected by malware?

JSBiff JSBiff writes  |  about 4 years ago

JSBiff (87824) writes "Like probably many slashdotters, I regularly visit the sci/tech news site arstechnica.com. Upon visiting tonight, every page loaded causes the AVG Antivirus software on my PC to alert me that a javascript file being loaded by the site is infected. Readers may want to avoid browsing Arstechnica until they have the problem sorted."
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MySQL Engineer's Son Needs Marrow Transplant

JSBiff JSBiff writes  |  more than 5 years ago

JSBiff (87824) writes "As I was browsing around the MySQL.com website tonight, looking for the MySQL Community edition download link, I saw that MySQL was requesting donations to help the son of one their support engineers.

"Donations are requested to help Andrii Nikitin, a MySQL support engineer in Ukraine, provide for his son Ivan who requires a bone marrow transplant operation. The cost of this operation is expected to be between €150,000 — €250,000 ($235,000 — $400,000). Please help us provide Ivan a chance to live.""

Journals

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A NAT, DHCP & DNS Based approach to IPv6 transition

JSBiff JSBiff writes  |  more than 5 years ago

I came across an interesting article by D. J. Bernstein about the IPv6 Mess. In the article, Bernstein raises several interoperability challenges for organizations who would be interested in migrating to IPv6, which potentially make it expensive and difficult to begin deploying IPv6 on the Internet alongside of IPv4.

Read More for a discussion of how I think some of these problems might be resolved.

The basic problem is that hosts configured with only IPv4 cannot talk to other hosts using only IPv6, and hosts running only IPv6 cannot talk to hosts running only IPv4. Because of this, all servers continue to need to use IPv4 in addition to IPv6, and so do all end-users. If you are using IPv4 anyhow, there never comes a point where you can transition to IPv6-only. In order for a transition to be possible at all, we need the ability for interoperability between the two protocols.

I have been wondering, is there any reason why a router/gateway device at the 'border' between an end-user, corporate, or ISP network could not act as a bi-directional 'bridge' between IPv4 and IPv6? That is, a device which accomplishes 2 basic functions: it maps IPv6 public addresses to IPv4 addresses (either public or private addresses, as appropriate), and it supports DNS queries which treat IPv6 numeric addresses as DNS domain names (maybe something where you replace colons with periods, replace the double-colon shorthand-notation with a special placeholder, like .xx., and perhaps put a special tld at the end, e.g. 2002:abcd:efgh:0001::1 becomes 2002.abcd.ef01.0001.xx.1.ip6 [are there currently any RFCs for a representation of an IPv6 address as a DNS name?]).

This system would be based on a sort of NAT, and a cooperating IPv4 DNS and DHCP server.

In typical usage, currently, NAT devices have a one-to-many relationship with the hosts inside the NAT. That is, typically, the NAT router has 1 public IP address, and multiple internal addresses. Is there any reason why a NAT server couldn't do many-to-many mapping?

When an IPv4 device connects to the network and makes a DHCP request, it would be given a version 4 address, IPv4 default gateway address, and IPv4 DNS Server address(es) as in normal DHCP usage currently. The DHCP server would register the newly leased IPv4 address with the NAT gateway, which would create an IPv6 corresponding address. The IPv6 address would serve as the main address for the IPv4 device behind the NAT, for any hosts on the Internet which use IPv6. So, now, the IPv4 'legacy' device can receive in-bound IPv6 connections, with the necessary translation between IPv6 and IPv4 being done by the gateway, so that the IPv4 device doesn't even know it's talking to an IPv6 peer, and vice-versa.

The cool trick here, for outbound connections, is that the NAT device could, I think, create mappings in the other direction too:

Consider some scenarios:

1) You have legacy devices (like a Tivo, Cell phone w/ Wifi, XBox/Playstation/Wii, etc) or applications (and so you need to configure your PC with IPv4 for the legacy app) which are not IPv6 compatible, but your network/ISP and the Internet at large has migrated to IPv6. The device or application uses DNS to resolve a name to an IP address (that is, in this scenario, no literal IPv4 address is trying to be resolved, but just a 'normal' dns entry like slashdot.org, or possibly one of the .ip6 entries as described above). Is there a way to allow the legacy devices or applications to still function?

      In this situation, my idea is that the following would occur: The IPv4 request is made to the DNS Server, but the DNS Server only is able to get an AAAA record for the server (which is for IPv6 addresses), but no A record (for IPv4 address). The DNS Server then makes a request to the the NAT to map the IPv6 external address to an IPv4 address internally. The NAT that sets up such a mapping using private network addresses which are not reserved by local policy for internal hosts (that is, maybe for your internal hosts, you are using 192.168.*.*, which leaves 10.*.*.* unused, and so available for this 'mapping'), so for example, the NAT adds an entry in the NAT tables that 10.0.1.14 maps to the IPv6 address 1234:abcd:ef01:1111::5 (NOTE that the IPv6 address might be for an external host *or* an internal host which is using IPv6 inside the LAN).

      The NAT then replies back to the DNS Server to use 10.0.1.14 for that IPv6 entry, which replies back to the legacy device with the mapped internal address of 10.0.1.14, and the DNS Server caches the IPv4 address for future lookups (temporarily; such caching should expire after some time if that DNS entry has not been referenced, and the NAT should also expire the mapping after the same amount of time, so that a different IPv6 host can be mapped to that private IP address).

      So, now the legacy device(s) attempts to open a connection to the server using the IP address it got back from DNS, which is the 10.0.1.14 address. The gateway device sees that the connection is for one of the 'mapped' addresses, and does the necessary NAT and routing to move the traffic back-and-forth between the IPv4 device, and the IPv6 device. This all happens *completely transparently* to the IPv6 host and the internal IPv4 host.

2) Similar to the above scenario, except no DNS query is performed; the app or device instead tries to connect to a hard-coded IPv4 address:

      In this scenario, if the hard-coded IPv4 address is for another IPv4 device which isn't on the local network, then perhaps the gateway could map the IPv4 address (as long as it isn't one of the non-routable address blocks) to an IPv6 address which embeds the IPv4 address.

      I've heard of something called 6to4 which is a way of carrying IPv6 traffic over the IPv4 Internet without using an explicit tunnel, which used a similar concept of embedding an IPv4 address into an IPv6 address. I don't see why a similar approach couldn't be used for allowing IPv6 hosts and gateways to connect to IPv4 hosts across the backbone. The packets would be carried as far as necessary as IPv6 packets, then translated back into IPv4 packets by a gateway server somewhere, when it transitions from the 6Bone to an IPv4 network.

3) You have legacy devices inside your network (maybe servers), which need to receive in-bound connections from an external IPv6 host.

      Since the legacy device's internal IPv4 address was mapped to a public IPv6 address when it received a DHCP lease, external hosts can make a connection to the public IPv6 address, and the gateway does the necessary NAT to pass the traffic to the internal IPv4 address, transparently to both the external and internal host.

      In conclusion, it seems to me that a strategy like what I've described should, I think, make it possible to allow the 'core' of the Internet (backbones and ISPs) to begin upgrading to IPv6 without breaking IPv4 devices. Then, you can begin upgrading 'edge' networks. Is there any reason why this wouldn't work, or wouldn't work well? Are people already doing this, and I'm just not aware of it (I tried googling information for IPv4 to IPv6 transition, and didn't see anything like this, though my research was only brief, and definitely not exhaustive)?

        Note: This all might sound pretty complicated, but I think that something like this could be included in 'home broadband' gateway devices from companies like linksys/cicso, d-link, netgear, etc, already configured for users so that it 'just works'. I think such routers could take care of this automatically. It might not even be necessary for users to install such a device at home - this 'bridging', it seems to me, could probably be done by ISPs.

    The only limitation I can think of at the moment, is that the ISPs would need to make sure they didn't try to service too many users with one gateway - because of the fact that you would be mapping IPv6 addresses to private addresses like 10.x.x.x, you are limited to how many mappings can be maintained by any given gateway at any given time, but I think that as long as you don't have a large number of users, there's enough normally unused addresses in 10.x.x.x and 192.168.*.* to allow for mapping a large number of IPv6 to IPv4 addresses. Even though the Internet needs Billions of addresses, I think it likely that a small set of users will only ever be connecting to a few thousand or tens of thousands of those hosts at any given time, so the approx 16.7 million private addresses in the 10.*.*.* network should, in most cases, be sufficient, I think.

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