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Ask Slashdot: When Is It Better To Modify the ERP vs. Interfacing It?

Mycroft-X Protip (209 comments)

When asking a detailed question about your employer, try not to include enough information that you can actually identify the company with a pretty good degree of confidence. If they find out who you are you might get a good rheeming out.

about three weeks ago

Verizon's Accidental Mea Culpa

Mycroft-X Help me understand (390 comments)

So maybe someone can explain this to me because I don't entirely get it.

Right now Level 3 doesn't pay Verizon any additional money for the data being sent its way (yes, requested by Verizon customers, but transport is usually paid by the shipper -- when I order a physical product I pay for shipping to the vendor, who pays the transporter).

The reason Level 3 doesn't pay any more is because they are using settlement-free links established to provide basic bi-directional communication between the two networks. Because of the way they are using them, these links (which are set up to provide balanced access) are saturated in one direction while only 30-60% utilized in the other direction.

The point made by both companies is that fixing the congestion is a simple matter of hooking up a couple ports (which would increase the utilization of Verizon's network).

Level 3 wants Verizon to agree to expand the settlement free ports to allow for the imbalance of traffic. Verizon says "our settlement free ports are sufficient for normal traffic, and if you want to avoid congestion for the additional traffic you are charging Netflix to carry then you're going to need to purchase additional ports and pay for that traffic."

Neither wants to budge and so they fight a PR war about it. Level 3 says "It's just a couple ports and a little cable" while disregarding the downstream impact on Verizon's network. Verizon says "Level 3 is taking undue advantage of our mutually beneficial arrangement and wants us to help them do it for free."

Is this accurate?

about a month ago

Time Warner Sells Telecom Business to Level 3

Mycroft-X NOT THE SAME COMPANY (38 comments)

Do a little checking -- TW Telecom (TWTC) is a completely separate, publicly traded company from Time Warner Cable (TWC) which is a completely separate (though historically linked) company from Time Warner Inc. (TWX).

about 2 months ago

House Majority Leader Defeated In Primary

Mycroft-X Re:Democrats voted (932 comments)

Agreed -- any citizen should be able to vote in any publicly funded election. If political parties want to organize their own private elections to determine who they will have run in a public election, then they are free to do so and limit voting to whomever they please. But if my tax dollars are paying for it, I want to be able to vote in it.

about 2 months ago

Killing Zombies In VR With the Latest Version of Project Holodeck At E3 2014

Mycroft-X Re:Clip vs magazine. (23 comments)

No they aren't you dimwit, your magazine is in your rifle and loaded by your clips. Magazines have springs. Clips do not.

about 2 months ago

Comcast-Time Warner Deal May Hinge On Low-Cost Internet Plan

Mycroft-X Already here? (114 comments)

Time Warner Cable already offers 2MBps service for $14.99 across its footprint.

It isn't hard to find, it's right next to all the other speed options on their web site.

Customers can buy their own modem from Best Buy or wherever or they can lease a TWC modem for $6 a month.

I have a feeling that most customers who need a $9.99 or $14.99 internet plan probably aren't going to front $300 for Google Fiber to be installed, or even own the place they would be paying for it to be installed in.

about 3 months ago

Police Departments Using Car Tracking Database Sworn To Secrecy

Mycroft-X Re:Not surprising (202 comments)

Could someone subpoena their data, if say they were charged with crime? Or as part of a civil suit? I would think not since they really aren't a part of the issue unless perhaps the cops used the data to locate someone or in an investigation, in which case this layman's view is the accused would have a right to see the data and challenge its use.

Yes, if it was relied on as evidence in court. However, it wouldn't be -- see "parallel construction."

Police, having determined something via illegal or inadmissible methods, use that information to know exactly where to look to back into an admissible method. It's the second one that gets introduced in court, the first tactic never sees the light of day (or public inquiry).

about 3 months ago

To Save the Internet We Need To Own the Means of Distribution

Mycroft-X Re:Wha? (338 comments)

Not confused -- they are owned by anyone with $50 who wants to own part of them. The version of "publicly owned" we're talking about just has a government using tax dollars to pay $50/person whether the people represented by that government want them to or not.

about 4 months ago

To Save the Internet We Need To Own the Means of Distribution

Mycroft-X Wha? (338 comments)

Let me get this straight --- you want to either nationalize or purchase (Verizon, Comcast, etc. are already publicly owned -- about $50 gets you a vote in what they do) the infrastructure so that governments can treat it like they treat roads?

You want them to be able to extend the network into new areas with the promise that once the infrastructure is paid for the higher rates they are charging those new areas will go away?

You want them to supposedly spend use fees on maintaining the infrastructure, but through slight of hand actually use it to pad underfunded pension programs?

You want your internet service to be as smooth and reliable as the average downtown public road?

about 4 months ago

Retired SCOTUS Justice Wants To 'Fix' the Second Amendment

Mycroft-X Re:Bad suggestion (1633 comments)

To a European, used to being able to walk down the street without being threatened by guns

Most places in America are exactly like this as well, and while there are a few that aren't, it isn't because of guns, it's because of the people who view you as a target and mean you harm. You wouldn't want to wander around their European equivalents either.

about 4 months ago

Retired SCOTUS Justice Wants To 'Fix' the Second Amendment

Mycroft-X Re:It's crap (1633 comments)

The US Military has spent ten years wearing out its combat troops trying to pacify a country the size of Texas, opposed by goat herders and drug smugglers. You think that a military that is fractured by domestic conflict would be able to control an area 14x as large if there was a widely distributed insurgency sparked by some egregious violation of the constitution? Dream on.

about 4 months ago

Retired SCOTUS Justice Wants To 'Fix' the Second Amendment

Mycroft-X Re:Militia, then vs now (1633 comments)

When the constitution was ratified, the militia was the only defense that the United States had, and all able bodied men were expected to be ready to serve.

Only because they had just kicked out the standing army that had been there 15 years prior to that.

The intent of the second amendment is to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity by ensuring that the descendants of the people who did so retain the ability to do so again.

The fact that we have a standing army again today does nothing to take away from that intent.

about 4 months ago

Netflix Gets What It Pays For: Comcast Streaming Speeds Skyrocket

Mycroft-X Re:A win? (328 comments)

Except your analogy is wrong. And it's why most people don't understand Net Neutrality. Netflix's packets don't weigh any more than Crackle's or Hulu's.

Just as a truck's molecules don't weigh any more than those which comprise a motorcycle, but in aggregate streaming video is a much greater contributor to network congestion than browsing a web site or accessing gopher. If you are saying that streaming video should be treated the same much the same way as all trucks pay the same toll, then I do agree with that.

There is no congestion at the moment Comcast is just exercising their right of non neutrality.

Well, unlike most internet service providers like AT&T, Verizon, or TWC they actually don't have that right -- they gave it up as part of the NBC Universal purchase and acquiring TWC will expand their required net neutrality over those customers as well.

Comcast approaches Netflix and tells them "You wouldn't want something bad to happen to your packets now would you? We can protect your packets from harm on our network if you just pay the protection fee." Netflix resists but finally caves and pays the fee. All of the sudden your video flies faster than you've ever seen it before but Comcast hasn't upgraded anything on their network.

Nice story. How about this:

Netflix pays InterCo, a backbone provider, for access to the internet, including Comcast's network. InterCo doesn't give a crap about Netflix's traffic or their customer experience -- InterCo doesn't serve end users -- and sees Netflix, which consumes 70% of internet traffic, as a network killer that negatively impacts their ability to sell mostly empty fat pipes to the rest of their customers. Comcast and InterCo have a peering arrangement where neither charges the other for access to their networks -- InterCo gets access to Comcast customers, Comcast gets access to the rest of the internet.

So Netflix says, "Why are we paying all this money to a company that doesn't even really want our traffic?" and so they go talk to Comcast directly about connecting directly to the Comcast network. They work out a deal, and now they don't need to pay as much to InterCo because it's only running traffic for non-Comcast customers, and they are able to give Comcast customers a much better, more controlled experience.

Who is losing out on this deal? InterCo gets to better manage their traffic. Netflix gets to better serve their customers, and Comcast gets to trumpet that Netflix is better on their service than it is on Verizon, AT&T, or other competitors.

about 4 months ago

Netflix Gets What It Pays For: Comcast Streaming Speeds Skyrocket

Mycroft-X Re:Consumers pay (328 comments)

From an engineer's point of view it's all baffling (Netflix and their customers are both paying for a certain amount of bandwidth)

You're paying your cable ISP for a certain amount of bandwidth from your home or business to their CMTS. Netflix is paying for a certain size pipe from their facility to their provider's data center. Everything beyond that (and, to a more controllable extent, before) is subject to capacity limitations that may or may not be within the control of your ISP.

If you think that buying 50Mb cable modem service guarantees you a 50Mb connection to every portion of the internet, or even a 50Mb connection between any two points that have a >50Mb connection to their own ISPs, then you must be a different kind of engineer than most on this site.

Netflix made a deal with Comcast that makes sure that ALL of the traffic between Netflix and Comcast customers is within the control of either Netflix or Comcast, which allows minimum standards to be set and adhered to.

about 4 months ago

Netflix Gets What It Pays For: Comcast Streaming Speeds Skyrocket

Mycroft-X Re:A win? (328 comments)

Yeah, that would be like all these other instances where differing rates depending on usage of a utility are acceptable:

1. Charge people with electric heat a lower electricity rate
2. Charge people buying food and clothing less or no sales tax
3. Charge large trucks higher tolls and registration fees than lighter vehicles
4. Charge more for diesel fuel if it's used to run a truck than if it's used to run a tractor

and probably a dozen more. With multi-gigabyte Netflix streams being the big trucks of the internet world, why doesn't it make sense to charge differently for their impact on network congestion, bandwidth utilization, etc. Netflix has basically paid Comcast to build a special lane on their highway that gives Netflix traffic priority.

about 4 months ago

Ultima Online Devs Building Player-Run MMORPG

Mycroft-X BTDT (75 comments)

So, it's like DikuMUD with graphics. I for one, welcome these ideas from 25 years ago! Combine that with Ultima VII-grade graphics and you have a winner in my book!

about 5 months ago

Why Is US Broadband So Slow?

Mycroft-X Re:Differentiate between channel and service. (513 comments)

If a town lies down dark fiber and then lets the end customer choose operator using that fiber, then it wouldn't be a big problem.

Except 95% of the bill would be what the operator has to pay the town to use the lines, so with 5% going to your fancy ISP email service, customer service (which is actually just "I don't know why it's slow, ask the town.") and billing is there really much "choice" to be had in this scenario?

about 6 months ago

Why Is US Broadband So Slow?

Mycroft-X Some facts on US Broadband/Cable buildouts (513 comments)

US Broadband is slow because that's the state of the infrastructure -- the infrastructure is very expensive to build out, and most of the country can't support a broadband build out.

It may surprise some, but the majority of the United States is not serviced by a cable television or internet system:

Why is an area not serviced? Because it's not cost effective to build there -- there aren't enough subscribers willing to pay enough money to make the build out financially reasonable for a private company.

So how about municipal broadband? Take the private company out of the picture and make internet a government service and it must get really cheap, right? Well, Bristol, Virginia is considered the most successful implementation of Municipal Broadband right now. This village of 17,000 people offers fiber optic connections to its residents for....roughly the same price as TWC or Comcast (for comparable speeds) and far far more expensive for 1GBps service ($320/mo) than Google offers.

This after using $26 million in grant money (so that's $1,541 per resident) to get the infrastructure in -- so it doesn't even have loans or bonds to service with its fees. This is the huge improvement offered by municipal broadband?

The facts are this:

1. Huge portions of the country cannot be cost effectively serviced by high speed internet access.
2. Any mandate to bring high speed internet access to those areas is going to be paid for by higher costs or higher taxes on those who do live in connected areas
3. Most large population centers do not have enough potential 1Gbps residential customers to make it cost effective to upgrade the equipment in those locations to support 1Gbps connection speeds -- businesses can already get those speeds and more but it is not inexpensive.
4. New entrants with deep pockets don't have to deal with replacing equipment that is still being used to pay for the debt taken out to install it in the first place, but they will. Verizon isn't expanding their FiOS network anymore, and everyone is trying to get an idea of whether Google is able to pull off the economics of their Fiber projects.
5. More options for internet service in a community mean lower market shares for the participants, which means lower revenue from the market, which means lower return on the installed assets required to offer service, which means either raising rates or exiting the market.

Here's an example: Lets say there are 100 people per day who want to fly from Harrisburg, PA to Scranton, PA. The smallest plane that a commercial airline can use to make this flight has seats 40 people and costs $10,000 plus $50 for each passenger to fly between the two cities.

Which is more efficient:

a. Ten airlines each offer one flight a day between these cities. On average, there are 10 passengers for each flight, so the flight costs $10,500 for each of the ten airlines. They spend a combined total of $105,000 per day and have combined capacity to serve 400 people, 4x as much as average demand. The airlines need to make a 5% profit margin on their flights, so with a cost per passenger of $1,050 ticket prices average $1,102.

b. Three airlines each offer one flight a day between these cities. On average, there are 33 passengers for each flight, so the flight costs $11,650 to operate for each of the three. They spend a combined total of $34,950 and have combined capacity to serve 120 people, 20% more than normal demand to allow for surges during holidays and such. With the same 5% profit margin on a cost per passenger of $353 ticket prices are $370.

Which of these offers the customer more choices? Which of these scenarios would you rather be in if you had to fly between these or similar cities? Which one of these is an overall more efficient use of resources, less environmentally taxing, etc?

Broadband buildouts are much the same way -- like an airline there are a lot of sunk costs regardless of subscription rates. Like an airline pricing needs to be set in order to achieve certain economic outcomes. Like an airline, if pricing and demand do not intersect for a given situation, there is no economic viability to that service.

about 6 months ago


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