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Shunting the FCC To the Slow Lane

Restil There might be some confusion. (194 comments)

Please let me know if I'm wrong, as it's certainly possible. What the proposal allows for is that say Netflix, or Youtube, or any other content provider that would utilize a lot of bandwidth, would be allowed to purchase direct physical lines to individual large ISPs for that ISP's customers instead of sending data over the Internet backbone. The end result would be a faster connection for that provider and those end users, for ultimately less cost.

So what we're dealing with here is a content provider that adds extra bandwidth to the Internet (albeit for a specific purpose), and pays for it, for the intended purpose of saving money for all parties involved while improving the end customer experience. Can someone please tell me why this is a problem? Or am I reading it incorrectly?

I do agree that from a technical point of view, the provider is purchasing a higher tier connection from the ISP for an improvement in throughput, but this in no way impacts any other service. I can envision the standard net neutrality argument that would allow an ISP to possibly extort a content provider, although I can't imagine why they would ever want to do so, considering peering agreements favor the consumer of data. Even so, tweaking the rules to disallow the restriction of data would make more sense than forbidding a willing provider to selectively choose to improve the experience for a specific group of customers above and beyond what is currently possible through the Internet for the same cost.

about 4 months ago
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Equipment Failure May Cut Kepler Mission Short

Restil Re:Karma (76 comments)

To be fair, NASA already "burned" quite a bit of karma on previous Mars missions. It just seems like the last few have been exceptionally successful in comparison.

about a year ago
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Is Buying an Extended Warranty Ever a Good Idea?

Restil It depends, but probably not. (329 comments)

A warranty is insurance against the replacement cost of a product. Every consumer product has a lifespan, either the time it will take before it fails, or the time it will take until it's no longer of any value to you. You probably won't be using the same computer 10 years from now. Your fridge will probably last 15. Other household appliances, maybe 15-20 years. At some point they're going to break or become obsolete. Researching the products you purchase, either the specific product or the quality control history of the company that produced it should give you an indication of how long the product will last before it needs repairs or replacement, and how much it's going to cost over its lifetime to maintain.

Now, how much does that warranty cost? Chances are good it's going to cost somewhere around 20% of the purchase price of the product. This is only a good deal if the product is EXPECTED to break within the next 5 years. Note that it won't protect against obsolescence, only replacement/repair of the original product. Of course, the next question is, why would you WANT to purchase a product that is expected to fail in less than 5 years? Therefore, if the product doesn't need the warranty, you shouldn't buy the warranty. If it DOES need the warranty, you shouldn't buy the product.

So what happens if that new TV dies 2 years in. You're out the money, right? Well, yes, there is a statistical chance that some consumer products are going to fail before their average expected lifespan. It happens. However, it's a low chance, and if you purchase 20 different products of relatively equal value, 1 of them might die before their time. So purchase 20 gadgets worth $500 each one of which breaks halfway through its lifespan, then out of $10000 worth of purchases, you lose $250. Extended warranties on all of those products would have cost you $2000, and the warranty period is still unlikely to cover the whole expected lifespan of the product. You could just as easily purchase your own "extended warranty" by putting 10% of the value of the product into savings at the time of purchase, and over the lifetime of all of your products you can expect to use maybe half of it.

Warranties start to make sense (maybe) when you're purchasing a single large purchase, with large repair expenses and pseudo warranty savings with other consumer products won't be sufficient to make up for it. Something like a car or purchase of similar magnitude. Again, if you purchase 20 cars at a time (probably only if you're a business), warranties probably no longer make sense as repair costs over ALL of the vehicles is likely to be less than the price of all of the extended warranties.

So, in summary, for something really expensive, yes. For anything reasonably less, no.

-Restil

about a year ago
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Did an Unnamed MIT Student Save Apollo 13?

Restil Umm.. (258 comments)

While I'm certain that an MIT student could/would have come up with the slingshot idea, in all fairness, there weren't really many different ways to get the spacecraft back to Earth. Either turn around, which uses a lot of fuel, but possibly get back sooner, or use the moon's gravity to turn around, which uses less, but might take longer. Third option would be to speed up, still use the moon, and achieve the same effect. I'm pretty sure at the point that they were deciding what to do, NASA had pretty much every employee awake and on the job. It's a bit presumptuous to assume that none of them came up with the slingshot idea on their own, considering going into an orbit of the moon was part of the initial plan of the mission in the first place.

What I CAN see happening though, is considering the time crunch the engineers were under to figure out what to do and implement that plan before the astronauts died, is that the student submitted the idea immediately, it got added to the list of ideas, and he was given attribution as a result of being the first one to voice it (even though hundreds of others probably had the same idea). The student wasn't really responsible for saving the mission, he just got first post.

-Restil

more than 2 years ago
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Neuroscience May Cure Videogames Industry's Obsession With Guns

Restil Re:Lame (254 comments)

Violence in Ultima 4 was selective. You had to kill all of the evil creatures you engaged with. If you fled from a battle with them, you lost points for valor. However, you had to avoid killing all of the non-evil creatures (rats, snakes, etc) or you would lose points for sacrifice. Violence was mandatory, it was just specific.

-Restil

more than 2 years ago
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Facebook, Zuckerberg Sued Over IPO

Restil Re:So that's really why he gave up his citizenship (445 comments)

It depends on the state, but generally whatever you have before the marriage, you can keep afterwards. The issue gets a bit murky though when you're dealing with stocks. First off, any dividends earned after the marriage are community property, and typically any increase in the value of his stock (if he sells it while they're married), can also be considered community property, and possibly even if he DOESN'T ever sell it, she might get some of the shares the value of which would match the increase at the time of the divorce. The issue gets even murkier if there's dividend re-investment going on, since now the stock purchased with dividends IS community property, while the rest isn't.

It's better to just not get a divorce. If that isn't an option, it's a much better choice to just not get married in the first place.

-Restil

more than 2 years ago
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MS Will Remove OEM 'Crapware' For $99

Restil Re:We do it at our store for $65 plus tax. (474 comments)

Considering the apparent use for that cert is the professional re-installation of the operating system, perhaps that's enough.

-Restil

more than 2 years ago
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Some Hotspot Operators Secretly Intercept, Insert Ads In Web Pages

Restil Re:I'm sure he agreed to this in the TOS. (273 comments)

At some point, it's not really worth the trouble. I can see the reasoning behind trying to make an extra buck off the customer, but in the end, they need the customer or nothing else matters, so anything that involves making the customer's stay an uncomfortable one is going to make them a non-customer in the future. Anytime you screw around with a webpage, you're greatly increasing the chances that the page will not display properly. It's hard enough as it is to code a page so that it works identically with all browsers. Inserting an ad might not be too difficult, but cherrypicking out content from them is going to be considerably more complicated.

-Restil

more than 2 years ago
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Some Hotspot Operators Secretly Intercept, Insert Ads In Web Pages

Restil Re:without the knowledge of the site visitor (273 comments)

Spam made email an undesirable option for a lot of people when alternatives existed. So if you used to use email, you still do. If you used instant messaging before you used email, you probably never saw the need for it.

-Restil

more than 2 years ago
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Some Hotspot Operators Secretly Intercept, Insert Ads In Web Pages

Restil Re:without the knowledge of the site visitor (273 comments)

My isp gives me a page saying "Your bill is late" when for some reason the automated charge didn't go through. Click ok on that page and I'm back online again... at least for several days when they put up a more permanent message, but it gives me time to figure out what went wrong with the process. However, that's the only
attempt I've seen at hijacking the internet connection by my ISP. Not that they don't suck in a variety of other ways.....

-Restil

more than 2 years ago
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Some Hotspot Operators Secretly Intercept, Insert Ads In Web Pages

Restil Re:HTTP Policies (273 comments)

While they couldn't insert code into an encrypted session, they COULD perform a man in the middle attack and accomplish the same thing, provided the user decided to override the certificate warning (which I'm guessing most people would). A more secure solution would be to do all the browsing over a ssh tunnel. That too could be intercepted, but it's less likely, and ssh will catch such an attempt provided the tunnel was first initiated over a trusted connection, so at least you'd be able to avoid using the service if you know it's going to be insecure.

What's ironic is the fact that the cheap hotels that are out in the middle of nowhere have great, highspeed, well covered wifi with mostly unrestricted or completely unrestricted hotspots (most of the time, all you have to do is agree to a clickthrough agreement, and you're good to go). But go to a big hotel in the city for a convention or something and they want to charge $15 a day for it. I'd just grown accustomed to tethering my cellphone in those instances since I got higher speeds from that than I did from the hotel wifi.

-Restil

more than 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: Shortcuts To a High Tech House

Restil Re:Nest & Tankless heater (281 comments)

I have a gas water heater, and during the summer months, when the heater is the only appliance using gas, the consumption part of my gas bill is somewhere between $5-10 a month. It would take multiple decades to justify the purchase of a tankless water heater, at least for me. Also, if the heating element of the heater breaks for some reason, like mine did a couple years back, the tank will still hold at least lukewarm water for a day or two before it's used up, giving you time to get it fixed before taking iced showers.

-Restil

more than 2 years ago
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The Fallout From a Flickr DMCA Takedown

Restil Why are you asking us? (170 comments)

Shouldn't you be asking Flickr? Yes, there SHOULD be a way to restore it, assuming Flickr designed their system to account for that possibility. Of course, if the company policy when responding to DMCA requests is to simply delete the image and all associated references (including comments), then that is their policy and something you may wish to consider when posting something there in the first place. If anything, this should entice hosting companies to amend their user policy to include what happens in situations like this. Add a few more lines to a very long document that nobody ever reads anyway. Ultimately, if you want control over content you think belongs to you, then you need to host it yourself and not rely on other sites to do it for you.

-Restil

more than 2 years ago
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AT&T Caps Netflix Streaming Costs At $68K/Yr

Restil Re:So when did... (433 comments)

That's the same excuse I see all the time. And it's a meaningless excuse. Subsidies are paid by the government to compel a company to provide goods and services according to certain guidelines, which the company might not or will not do on its own. For instance, a phone company might determine that there is no financial incentive to provide service in markets that are excessively rural, or providing such services in those areas would require compensation from the customers that is too excessive to be considered reasonable. So the government pays them to be sure they provide service to those remote areas even though it's not cost effective for the company. They might even agree to pay that subsidy indefinitely so the phone company continues to provide service to those remote areas at reasonable prices. So now you come along and claim that their infrastructure was partially funded by the government, and you're right. But that doesn't matter. If the government instead agrees to pay AT&T to build a wireless phone network capable of handling 24/7 netflix streaming for 100% of their customers at the same time, all the time, then yes, I would agree with you. But that's not what the subsidies were for, and therefore AT&T has no obligation to provide endless services for all customers at an unreasonably low charge just because money once changed hands for an unrelated reason.

-Restil

more than 2 years ago
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Amazon To Collect Indiana Sales Tax In 2014

Restil Re:Taxes (413 comments)

Well, I don't know about Indiana, but here where I live my local central appraisal district has appraised my house for about 3 times what I purchased it for (a foreclosure that sat on the market for 9 months before I found it, and despite all the talk about home values plummeting madly during the most recent recession, apparently someone forgot to tell the taxing authority, since my value certainly didn't drop any, and I'm guessing it didn't for anyone else either. So don't let that 1% fool you. There are other ways around THAT particular roadblock.

-Restil

more than 2 years ago
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Paypal Orders Buyer of Violin To Destroy It For a Refund

Restil Re:Sounds Like a Hoax Right Up Until You Read the (362 comments)

First problem, where are you going to get a $5 violin that isn't broken beyond repair?

If you DO find one, it's likely going to be a discarded piece of "junk" in an estate sale, and unless it's severely damaged (light damage, scratches, cracks, etc can actually add legitimacy) it's going to be worth a lot more than you paid for it, which means fraud would be difficult to ascertain.

If you can find a violin for $5 that's worth 1000x more, why not just sell it legitimately and avoid the legal complications?

-Restil

more than 2 years ago
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World's Worst PR Guy Gives His Side

Restil Re:Still continues to be an asshole (576 comments)

That's what he SAYS... And we all know that he NEVER exaggerates or distorts his facts in any way. It's quite likely that any clients who were already uninvolved in this mess would like to remain uninvolved and aren't likely going to be sending out press releases that they've had a "reorganization" of their "marketing team". I'm sure that once the dust settles there will be several more of his clients who will decide to change their strategy in such a way that it no longer involves him without making a scene about it.

-Restil

more than 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: Protecting Tech Gear From Smash-and-Grab Theft?

Restil Same thing you've always done (514 comments)

Keep all valuable looking objects out of view, covered up. Avoid places where thefts are likely. Lock your doors. And in the case that doesn't work, insurance and backups.

-Restil

more than 2 years ago
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Are You Better At Math Than a 4th (or 10th) Grader?

Restil If you don't use it, you'll probably forget it. (845 comments)

I'm guessing the school board member in question hasn't used anything more complicated than basic arithmetic for a few decades now. However, I've managed to use at least most of the high school math I've learned in one form or another over the years. If I wasn't using it, I was tutoring someone, so at least most of the information was kept fresh. What I couldn't recall off the top of my head I was able to look up, study it for 30 seconds, and crank it off like I had never forgotten it.

However, if you want me to speak or read French, I won't be able to do so, even though I was at least moderately ok at it once upon a time. And don't even begin to ask me about biology or history, even though I did pretty well in those subjects back when I took them. It's possible to maintain all of that information if you want to, but it takes time, and unless you want to be a professional student or teacher, there's not much point in doing so unless you find it enjoyable, and most people don't.

-Restil

more than 2 years ago
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PC Makers Run Short of Popular Drives

Restil Re:What do they expect? (353 comments)

It's not worth it. The industry turns over every couple years anyway. This will just turn out to be little more than an unexpected re-tooling operation and will present, at most, a minor annoyance for the industry for a few months. In the meantime, remaining facilities that were unaffected by the disasters will scramble to increase production to pick up the slack and within a few months, things should be back to normal. The cost to insure against minor annoyances such as this aren't worth the overhead cost that would be added to each product sold, and we probably wouldn't accept them if they were. We would rather have to face the possibility of having an inconvenient bump in system prices for a few months out of every 20 years, rather than pay significantly more all the time just to insure that prices remain stable during disasters. The best part about this is that consumers can easily adapt to a HD shortage. Those that REALLY need them will pay for them, but everyone else can always make do with what they've got for a while, even a couple years if need be.

This will probably have a much larger impact on a company like Google who purchase a LARGE amount of HDs all the time, and rely on the ability to constantly increase storage capacity. Will be interesting to see what happens there.

-Restil

more than 2 years ago

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