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Google Adds USB Security Keys To 2-Factor Authentication Options

allquixotic Re:USB Device Recommendation (119 comments)

I have a Yubikey NEO. The U2F device they're selling now is the same form factor so I would assume it will work. It's a hardy little device -- it frequently clanks up against my other keys, but it still works in both USB and NFC modes. Not sure if the U2F model supports NFC, though. You'd have to check.

Still, good build quality. And there's no battery; the unit has no moving parts (completely discrete); so they can be expected to last a very long time. Basically the limiting factor is how much damage you will accidentally do to the physical housing of the chip and/or the USB connector by dragging it with you everywhere. So far that amount is "0" for mine as far as I can detect.

2 days ago

Ask Slashdot: LTE Hotspot As Sole Cellular Connection?

allquixotic Just use the keyboard...! (105 comments)

The keyboard?! How quaint!

In all seriousness: if you don't have an unlimited data plan, you're probably going to blow your data allowance, unless by some miracle you've found a provider that values 1 GB of LTE at an order of magnitude (or more) less than $10 per GB.

If you had an unlimited data plan, you would ideally be able to use the Hotspot feature that's built into nearly every smartphone these days, and forego the hotspot. On Verizon it's an extra $30/mo for hotspot tethering on a stock firmware for phones that aren't rooted, but totally worth it for the benefit you get. This is my primary (only) Internet connection. You could make yours the same if you had unlimited data. It's not new or far-fetched at all.

In fact, if the carriers *did* reduce the amortized cost of 1 GB of data transfer on LTE by a factor of 10 or more, I'd be willing to bet that we would see many millions of people signing up for *limited* data plans on the order of 100 - 150 GB and tethering through their phones or using a hotspot as their primary internet connection. Right now it's simply too much money to get "limited" data plans -- on Verizon XLTE with the MORE plan, you can get like 100 GB for $700/month. It's still way too much money for too little data. Until and unless the prices become somewhat reasonable, so it "only" costs you $2 to watch that Netflix video instead of $20, we will mostly see unlimited data plans as the only users of LTE as their primary connection.

2 days ago

Belkin Router Owners Suffering Massive Outages

allquixotic Re:One rule comes to mind... (191 comments)

My complaint is less about absolute cost than comparative cost.

The mid-grade model of Intel NUC, Core i3, is going to ring up a bill close to $450 USD once you've purchased the core NUC unit plus all necessary parts under the hood. For that, you get USB 3.0, a dual-core processor with hyperthreading that runs circles around any router's, and dual-band 2x2 802.11ac.

To get a device that's labeled as a router or gateway or router+gateway that has comparative specs, just in terms of I/O throughput and total wifi bandwidth (nevermind computation power, since that doesn't come into play very much), you have to venture into "enterprise-grade" equipment, which is intentionally overpriced to be "as expensive as the market can bear" (and corporations can bear a lot). You'll easily spend $1500 to $2000. The only benefit is that you'll hopefully get a nice and stodgy, well-tested but very utilitarian web interface that lets you customize everything you could possibly want. Is a web interface worth $1000 or more? I don't really think so.

My next project is to stick some really nice antennae on a NUC and build a router based on Debian with better everything -- and cheaper -- than the enterprisey routers, while being much more featureful and customizable than a consumer router. Heck, I am tempted to put X and a lightweight desktop on it, so it can be used as a web browser in a pinch (like when you bork your main desktop's OS).

about two weeks ago

Belkin Router Owners Suffering Massive Outages

allquixotic Re:One rule comes to mind... (191 comments)

It's very hard to find affordable routers, with the latest-gen tech (802.11ac, USB 3.0, etc) which support flashing and have decent driver support on Linux or *WRT, though. Many routers have such anemic SoCs that they barely run with the built-in firmware, let alone something custom that isn't hand-optimized for the device.

I'm close to resigning to the fact that every router I have going forward is gonna have to be an Intel NUC. Even a Celery processor is many times faster than those MIPS pieces of crap they ship in most routers that cost under $1000.

about two weeks ago

Lennart Poettering: Open Source Community "Quite a Sick Place To Be In"

allquixotic Re: Critics should take positive action (993 comments)

Please stop linking to that website. I have taken in all the information on it, and yet I find systemd to be significantly easier to use than almost every other init system except Solaris' SMF (which has significant tradeoffs compared to systemd, so I'd consider it neither better nor worse). In both the RHEL7 and Debian Testing implementations, I find my system easier to diagnose, and I find it easier to set up new services when installing stuff (both from the package manager and from source).

I use GNU/Linux both as a desktop/laptop distro and for (headless) dedicated servers, and systemd has never once stood in the way of me getting shit done. In fact, it is better at that than any other init system I've ever used, and I distro shopped for a decade before I started to settle on Debian and CentOS as my main two (I also tried out all three main BSD variants -- Free, Open and Net -- and OpenSolaris).

Most of the criticisms on that site are completely immaterial to me because they're either philosophical, or the typical crybabying of "what about BSD?????". Well, now even the BSD folks can shut up, because uselessd is bcoming an actually useful piece of software that hopefully will maintain some degree of compatibility with systemd, as far as the integration points to systemd that other packages have to support. This should at least fix upstream GNOME3 on BSD.

The few valid technical arguments go along the lines of, "there are too many GNUisms in the code". Compiler and libc compatibility matters, so I can get behind that. But really, if you solely use GNU/Linux like I do, (and it's not even a "Red Hat" thing anymore with so many distros on the uptake), it's hard to consider this a priority. I'm glad that some people do, and have created uselessd as a result. Uselessd is the opposite of a parody, in my opinion: it's a confirmation that systemd is fundamentally useful and innovative; is here to stay; and is so useful that people want to implement at least some pieces of it on other OSes. More power to them!

Hopefully the uselessd developers will take their project in a direction that is pragmatic, resulting in a better overall init system. If they pull it off, the systemd developers might consider merging their work upstream, which is the ultimate compliment -- this happened with gcc, and now the gcc community is one big happy family. Mostly. Or at least a lot happier than before.

The work they're doing on uselessd is infinity percent better and more constructive than all you imbeciles sitting around complaining about something being "forced down your throat". FOSS, where forced obsolescence doesn't exist and licenses are free as in beer, and you talk about things being *forced* upon you? Fuck me. Go live in an actually oppressive society for a decade or so, and THEN you'll know the true definition of having something forced upon you. Everyone who thinks there is any sort of enforcement going on about using systemd needs to live in North Korea until they actually understand the words that come out of their own mouths.

about two weeks ago

Lennart Poettering: Open Source Community "Quite a Sick Place To Be In"

allquixotic Re:Who? (993 comments)

Yeah, and dmix is as compatible with most ALSA apps (even before pulseaudio came along) as a minnow and an oak tree trying to get it on with each other.

It's not great.

about two weeks ago

Lennart Poettering: Open Source Community "Quite a Sick Place To Be In"

allquixotic Re: Critics should take positive action (993 comments)

[citation needed]

This sounds like more bandwagoning just because it's fun to hate something.

about two weeks ago

Lennart Poettering: Open Source Community "Quite a Sick Place To Be In"

allquixotic Re:Who? (993 comments)

He's the developer of Avahi, Pulseaudio, and Systemd, most prominently. These components are standard middleware (userspace programs, usually that run in the background, which provide useful services to make a Linux distro more useful than just providing a terminal). The first two were accepted mostly uncontroversially; I mean, pulseaudio did have some pushback, but systemd has had orders of magnitude more pushback than pulseaudio. Now that the most popular distros ship systemd by default, people who don't like it are railing against both the program and its author(s).

People need to get a life.

about two weeks ago

Ask Slashdot: Is It Worth Being Grandfathered On Verizon's Unlimited Data Plan?

allquixotic Yes, since they won't bring me FiOS (209 comments)

Addendum to what I said here --

My main beef is that Verizon won't bring FiOS to my neighborhood. No amount of little people money (i.e., short of offering to bribe them with several million dollars) is going to convince them to bring FiOS to my suburban neighborhood. There's FiOS 1/8th of a mile down the road; in fact, my community is surrounded by people who have FiOS. But Verizon stopped expanding FiOS, and Comcast hasn't installed replacement copper cables in our area despite us being their customer for a decade and complaining about it on a bi-weekly basis.

So the copper sucks (it's unreliable); the ADSL sucks (the speeds are just too slow, AND it's unreliable); and the amount of money it would take to move Verizon to install FiOS simply isn't available.

Sprint in my area is extremely marginal. I'd have to find a Yagi LTE antenna and point it exactly in the direction of the tower -- and then I'd only have LTE through the house's wifi, but if I were out and about in town, I probably wouldn't have any data. The tower is several miles away and just barely registers as a signal at all, but usually we get no data. So I returned my Sprint device after trying this for several days.

What's left? Well, either live in the 20th century without access to the global economy; or use Verizon Wireless LTE. Verizon's refusal to expand FiOS has left me with no options.

Moving is not an option due to the immense cost of housing. Our house is paid off, and we spend the money we'd be paying on a mortgage, on other things. We would have to severely curtail online spending, luxury spending, penny pinch on utility use, etc. if we were to move. Having a paid-off house in a world where everything is expensive and everyone is living beyond their means, is the difference between being able to afford stuff and always being broke.

Unlimited data on LTE is really a lifesaver. But it's ultimately Verizon Wireless' parent company, Verizon, that is to blame for any undue congestion we may cause by using a combined 200 GB or so per month of LTE data. It's their greedy refusal to expand FiOS to neighborhoods that might take more than a few years to make ROI, despite receiving vast amounts of public funding that were earmarked for FiOS, then turning around and spending that money on LTE instead.

Hey. If they want to offer me a great service, at a great price, and live within the restrictions the FCC has placed on the airwaves, they can kindly shut up. Verizon Wireless has no right to complain about my usage of their service. I am acting entirely within the ToS and the law. I value that service and will continue to use it as long as they offer it. If they ever stop offering it, I'll have to see about bribing Comcast to replace the damaged copper that gives us about 50% uptime on a modern cable modem.

I am hopeful that, in the future, the spectral efficiency and tower density improvements can converge together sufficiently that Verizon will be able to offer a legitimate unlimited data plan to NEW customers, eliminating the fear that us grandfathered folks might soon be put out to pasture. If that's a pipe dream, then they better show up at the end of my street with a reel of fiber, or I'm going to see about taking public action to get my neighborhood some actually decent access to the 21st century economy.

The greatest tragedy of a capitalistic society is when nobody's selling what you're buying. Such wasted potential. Let's hope it doesn't come to that.

about three weeks ago

Verizon Wireless Caves To FCC Pressure, Says It Won't Throttle 4G Users

allquixotic Thanks Wheeler (46 comments)

While I still dislike most of the political rhetoric coming out of Verizon and Verizon Wireless, I have to concede that this is a huge benefit for me personally. I'm an unlimited 4G customer who uses my phone as my primary Internet connection (I pay an extra $30/month for the privilege of "legally" tethering via the built-in Mobile Hotspot app that comes standard with Android; the app is disabled if you don't pay up).

It's plenty fast enough for my needs, even when the network is congested. It's a perfectly viable primary Internet connection, with native IPv6, and can be shared with desktops, laptops, smart devices, tablets, and other phones using 802.11ac, Bluetooth, or USB RNDIS.

I'm perfectly fine with being temporarily slowed down if the tower I'm on is congested. All they have to do is use a fair queue algorithm, not too dissimilar to what the Linux kernel's I/O scheduler does. But what was being proposed was to single out unlimited data users who use more than a certain amount of data, and slow them down artificially even more than everyone else.

I think this brought me back from the brink of having to face the prospect of getting ADSL or cable again. The problem with these services, in my area at least, is that every time we've ever tried them, they prove to have about a 50% uptime. That is to say, they're very intermittently available. They may not go down for 2 weeks at a stretch every month, but you'll certainly experience 10, 20, or 30 different 2 or 3 minute dropout periods during the course of a single day; sometimes the dropouts are longer, and sometimes there are more or less of them. I experience nothing of the sort with LTE.

While it would take the construction of many more towers in suburban and urban areas to be able to offer *every* customer unlimited data on LTE (or even to increase the typical monthly cap from around 2 GB to around 200 GB), and some people think that it would require the construction of "too many" towers, I'm still glad that this decision benefits me.

I'm certainly not going to become a Verizon Wireless booster, singing their praises on high; but this gives me a little respite from the endless barrage of anti-consumer laws and corporate practices that have been coming down the pipe lately.

A little bit of sanity goes a long way, in this case. For me and thousands of others who still have unlimited data.

about three weeks ago

Is the Tesla Model 3 Actually Going To Cost $50,000?

allquixotic PHEVs will be better til at least 2030 (393 comments)

Unless there is some enormous revolution in battery technology that makes state-of-the-art Lithium Ion / Lithium Polymer batteries look as antiquated as lead-acid, AND is cheaply and easily mass-manufactured, Plug-in Hybrids (PHEVs) are going to be a better option for most people through the 2010s and 2020s.

The reason is simple: When the range of your vehicle can be measured in a few hundred miles, you are going to need to refuel or recharge quite often. Problem is, the only place you can guarantee the availability of charging apparatus (and the permission to use it) is on your own personal property. If you're very very lucky, you might be able to secure access to this at your place of employment -- but if you switch jobs, all bets are off.

Since gasoline stations are omnipresent almost anywhere in the civilized world, not only in the U.S. but worldwide, having your vehicle ultimately rely on gasoline as a "fall-back" or "range extender" means that you could, in a pinch, get in your car that's out of battery juice and has 1 gallon of gas in the tank; go to the nearest refueling station; fill up; drive several hundred miles; and repeat that several times to get from one end of the country to the other. You'd only spend a total of about 30 minutes refueling throughout your long journey.

So a PHEV can be relied upon to have "virtually unlimited range" (assuming you have unlimited money to pay for the gas) if you have a sudden, pressing need to go a long distance. You cannot rely upon a pure EV because you have no idea where you'll be able to find a recharging station, and even if you do, assuming it's compatible, it will take at least 45 minutes to an hour to get a good charge going (until EV batteries are based on supercaps or something that can recharge in seconds, but that's yet to be commercialized, much less mass-manufactured).

200 miles isn't a lot. Back and forth to work; run some errands; drive across part of a mid-Atlantic state to visit a relative; and you've driven 200 miles. Better hope grandma can bring out a long extension cord to charge up your car on the 120V overnight (assuming the current draw doesn't pop her 1970s-era circuit breaker faster than an electric lawnmower will).

I want to see more PHEVs with a range long enough for your ordinary commute on pure EV, but with a range extender (basically a gasoline-powered electric generator) that can give you range competitive with traditional gasoline vehicles. The nice thing about PHEVs is that you can make the battery a little bit smaller than the enormous ones Tesla needs for a 200-mile EV, which cuts down the cost into the 30k range quite easily. Tack on a medium-sized government subsidy and you're looking at sub-30k prices for a vehicle that might only use gasoline weekly or bi-weekly if the driver can fit their round trip commute in on the EV.

This is possible TODAY. To avoid the appearance of a shill I am deliberately not mentioning any manufacturers or vehicle models. But I really don't think people will be able to buy pure EVs until there is an Earth-shattering revolution in battery technology that would enable 1000+ mile range OR near-instantaneous charging; and even then, we'll need to build up a near-omnipresent charging infrastructure before you'll see very much adoption.

Meanwhile, with PHEVs, smart owners can continue to demand that the infrastructure for EV charging will build up, while still having a fallback if absolutely needed. The fallback of gasoline gets about half the MPG (i.e., costs twice as much) as using electricity produced on the grid, so drivers have a financial motivation to ask their workplace, local convenience stores and gas stations, etc. to have advanced high-speed chargers. This demand and the resultant market response will help build up the infrastructure WHILE we are getting our ducks in a row to prepare for the full-on EV revolution. Therefore, we avoid the chicken and egg problem by phasing in the demand, and we don't inconvenience consumers in the near term by allowing them to fall back on 20th century fuel so they can get to where they're going.

I want a full EV future as much as most people do; I think virtually everyone agrees we have to stop using fossil fuels. The first step is to reduce our dependency on them for transportation, followed shortly by eliminating our dependency on them for transportation. Then we can continue to phase in higher and higher percentages of renewables into the electricity grid, without asking anyone to buy a new car to take advantage of the improved grid, since electricity from any source is compatible with all electrical vehicles by design.

Baby steps, guys. It'll happen. I severely doubt Tesla's introduction of a 200 mi EV in the 2010s is going to make a dent, though, as much as I wish it would. Affordable PHEVs will drive the demand to build the infrastructure that will then, in another decade or so, make the 200 mi EVs feasible for most people.

about a month ago

Verizon Working On a La Carte Internet TV Service

allquixotic Re:Missing the point (108 comments)

What the fuck is wrong with *you*? Breaking the law is not a solution to social problems. It's a great way to land yourself in jail, where your "personal sanctity" will be mercilessly abused by homicidal men who actually *belong* in jail. Breaking the law just further validates the rhetoric being slung by the elite. Suddenly anyone who doesn't want to pay their $130 is a criminal, or a terrorist.

The solution is to make your voice heard. Join the Mayday SuperPAC. Write to your congress critters. Support the few companies out there that are offering content with sane licensing models, such as DRM-free, using open formats, "watch anywhere". You have to inflict positive change upon the system, which antagonizes and hurts the evil parts of it. Once they feel the burn, they start speaking out even more loudly in favor of their own positions, and their rhetoric can then be exposed to reason and it can be shown how ridiculous it is. If you instead choose to break the law, you are actively helping them dig in their heels, because now they can rally the ignorant public against a "rising threat"; they spin piracy as a common enemy of both the consumer and The Man, and use this as lube to get the public to agree to let them fuck them harder.

Pirating may appear to be the "best" short-term, self-interested solution to the problem of watching what you want without paying outlandish prices, but it creates a backswing that will hurt *every* consumer, whether they pirate or not, and helps ensure that the greedy actors who have put us in the position we're in now, will continue to wield enormous power over our society's decision-making systems.

Don't do it.

about a month ago

Hewlett-Packard Pleads Guilty To Bribing Officials in Russia, Poland, and Mexico

allquixotic Soo.... (110 comments)

Since corporations are people too, when can it be placed on the public record that Hewlett-Packard has been officially incarcerated?

about a month ago

Students From States With Faster Internet Tend To Have Higher Test Scores

allquixotic Follow The Money (175 comments)

You can stop at "more $". That's the real reason why students in MA do better than students in MS.

Not money that's used to buy kids iPads or Surfaces, mind you. Money that's spent to modernize schools built in the 1960s, or tear them down entirely and put up new ones. Money that's spent to pay teachers more, and attract better teaching talent. Money that's spent on the community and infrastructure to make teachers want to live there.

Also, it's much more profitable for the private companies that "public" education relies on these days, when they have a higher density of students in schools. It's simply not practical to have as many students in a school in rural MS as it is in a school in urban MA. The urbanites get better educations because the private companies that do fund raisers, home and school internet connectivity, buses, general contracting on the buildings, etc. are making more money when they have more students in one place. It's the same reason why Verizon rolled out FiOS to the top 30% most densely populated suburbs and left the rest in the dark.

You can't trust private corporations to do anything other than act in their own self interest. The public sector as originally conceived was supposed to fill in the gaps, working under the assumption that all human citizens of the great USA deserve the same opportunity to have access to high quality education and thus high quality jobs. But such an assumption requires you to accept that each human being is meritorious of their own moral standing, just by virtue of the fact that they exist and are living and breathing. Corporations aren't people, and they don't assign any moral standing to anything except their bottom line.

We wanted nice things and we got exactly what we wanted. But you see, if you're not living in urban America, you aren't worthy of moral concern because you aren't worth enough money to our corporate benefactors.

The message is awfully clear. If you want a chance to prosper in today's economy, jam yourself in a tiny apartment and bleat through the herd of thousands through the doors of your local well-funded school. Welcome to The Haves Caste, USA, citizen. You are entity number 126,438,921.

about 2 months ago

Groundwork Laid For Superfast Broadband Over Copper

allquixotic Re:Fibre optic is almost her (93 comments)

What world do you live in? I want some of what you're smoking. Fiber isn't "gaining traction"; major players in the fiber market, such as Verizon, are sitting on their hands, intentionally stopping their deployments. If you don't have Fiber today where you live, don't hold your breath for getting it any time in the future, unless there is a major regulatory upheaval that ousts the lobbyists from having a stranglehold over the organizations in government that are supposed to be regulating them.

Assholes. Verizon pocketed millions in public funding; spent it on executive bonuses and the rollout of their overpriced and extremely restrictive LTE that you can hardly use unless you're grandfathered unlimited; while talking out of both sides of their mouth that they are simultaneously a Title II carrier when it benefits them, and a Title I carrier when that benefits them more. Meanwhile they only paid token lip service to the folks who are actually demanding a fiber rollout, by serving about 20% of the customers that they currently offer ADSL to. And rather than at least upgrading their ADSL to something a wee bit faster than 7 Mbps, such as VDSL2, they've left the remaining 80% of their customers completely in the dark, stuck with an internet connection whose speed would be acceptable in about 2002.

Maybe things are better where you live, but I know Australia's telecoms are behaving the same way as Verizon and AT&T in the US. Fast access to the Internet is an on-ramp to the modern global economy; those without are basically living in the 20th century. And the term "fast" constantly changes; the bar is being raised year over year by increasingly large software downloads and media sizes. You can't simply sit on your laurels and reap the profits of the previous decade's investment; you have to constantly upgrade. But in many of the supposedly first-world countries with supposedly advanced industrial economies, lobbyists and lawyers have hamstrung the country's potential to participate in the global economy by making consumers' internet access options all but worthless. Fiber to the premises is a fantasy for the vast majority of the people on the planet, both those in industrialized countries and those in developing nations (though for different reasons). Hell, even 20 Mbps VDSL is a pipe dream for many people.

about 2 months ago

Mozilla Dumps Info of 76,000 Developers To Public Web Server

allquixotic Re:What the fuck has happened to Mozilla?! (80 comments)

Where do you get the "75%+" number that people hate the UX changes? For what it's worth, I've used Firefox for years as my primary browser; I've used Chrome and IE only as necessary to test websites (or to use websites that are so poorly coded that they don't work with Firefox), and when I upgraded to FF 29 with the new UI, it took me about 15 minutes to get acclimated.

I keep hearing people lump the FF UI redesign in with things like GNOME 3 and the Windows 8 start screen. But it's nothing like them; nothing at all. The problem with those UIs is that they are trying to design a single UI that works both on tablets and desktops. That was never a design goal of the new Firefox UI. Do you see enormous pastel-colored buttons? Do you see common browser functionality that FORCES you to use mouse gestures like "swiping" to take basic actions? No -- none of that. They moved the tab bar to the top, bundled the menus into a much more streamlined and sensible layout (with the ability to fall back to the old menu style, to boot), and changed the style of the tab bar to save on vertical real estate. Big fucking deal. If anything, I find it easier and more natural to use Firefox with the enhancements -- and this is with a traditional keyboard and mouse on a dual-screen desktop.

I love it how people always think that "75%+" of the people agree with them, just because they hold a strong opinion on a topic. I'll be the first to admit I have no idea how many people feel the same way as I do about the UI redesign, but I don't think it is the primary reason for Firefox's decreasing market share (Chrome's perceived speed as well as it being preinstalled on many Lenovo and Dell systems out of the box, probably have more to do with it). I certainly won't claim that "75%+" of the people love the new UI, though. I don't have to pull numbers out of my ass to prop up my argument.

about 3 months ago

Verizon Now Throttling Top 'Unlimited' Subscribers On 4G LTE

allquixotic Re:In the long run, yes. Why I don't host spammers (274 comments)

Your example assumes (incorrectly) two things which are untrue of the wireless industry, and there is absolutely no sign that it will ever change:

1. In order for your example to apply to the wireless industry, the wireless industry would have to NOT collude on policies and prices between vendors. If you think there is no collusion going on, you only have to look at the changes in policy and price that have happened over the past 5 years between AT&T and Verizon, and between T-Mo and Sprint. One vendor moves; the other quietly follows 3-6 months later so as not to look suspicious. Vendor collusion is real and it's a serious hamper on competition. In general, the moves being made are all anti-consumer, and rather than differentiate as a statement of "hey, we're not evil like them!", the carriers instead opt to reduce their service quality *down* to their competitor's new standard. The bar keeps lowering, not raising. It's the exact polar opposite of the downward pressure you describe.

For instance, compare: AT&T stops unlimited plans; then Verizon stops unlimited plans. AT&T disallows tethering on unlimited; then Verizon disallows tethering on unlimited. AT&T throttles; then Verizon throttles. Even within the limited data landscape, the only thing remotely reasonable that has happened in the last decade is that the price per GB when paid upfront has dropped from about $10 per GB to about $7.5 per GB, on average. That's not a large decrease. And overages have gone UP from $10/GB to $15/GB. Surcharges and other miscellaneous "fees" have also climbed in both number and amount, while the ToSes continue to become more and more hand-wavey about stating exactly what amount of your personal data they are going to keep private, and what they're going to sell to advertisers to make a quick buck.

2. In order for your example to apply to the wireless industry, the wireless industry would have to have actual competition. As it stands, even the carriers that advertise unlimited come with deal-breaking provisos on their plans (such as throttling and tethering restrictions), making them no better than the ones that outwardly advertise limits. The two big carriers -- Verizon and AT&T -- have similar network buildouts and availability; it's just that some areas are better served by one carrier than the other. Prices are similar; the available phones and tablets are similar; tower density is similar; and so on.

The hosting industry has TONS of competition, as I am well aware. In my opinion it is a shining example of a tech industry that has reached that sweet spot where the free, unregulated market truly and honestly works for it, and no regulation is needed, because there are so many different firms offering different competitive advantages that you can browse the internet for a whole week and still not decide on a hosting provider, because there are so many differences between them. Which version of PHP do they run? Do they limit the amount of traffic? Do they cater only to hosting professionals (like your company)? Do they offer rack hosting, cloud hosting, VPSes, dedicated servers, lease-to-own, shared hosting, pay-as-you-go cloud (AWS), cloud-based storage, colocation....? Not to mention there are so many different geographic areas to pick from, and each one has its own smattering of Tier1 ISPs available for the backhaul, all of them offering insanely low prices (I've seen unmetered 100 Mbps on servers priced at $100 - $200 per month now, which was unheard of 5 years ago).

You're basically comparing THE IDEAL technology-related industry that fits like a glove with the unregulated free market approach, to the antithesis of that in the wireless industry.

Imagine if the hosting industry consisted of 95% of people paying $7000/month for a Core 2 Quad in a Softlayer datacenter; and if you didn't go with Softlayer, your other choice would be to pay $7000/month for a Core 2 Quad with slightly different clock speed in a Rackspace datacenter. Imagine if those were your only two choices, and the competitors were in the noise and had deal-breaking problems like "only available in China" or "only AMD processors from 2004". Imagine if Softlayer and Rackspace convinced government to make it ILLEGAL to start up a datacenter not owned by them in the continental US. Now you are starting to get a picture of what the ISP industry is like in terms you are more familiar with.

Still interested in what's good for Verizon?

about 3 months ago

Verizon Now Throttling Top 'Unlimited' Subscribers On 4G LTE

allquixotic Re:1,000 of you is expensive (274 comments)

So, your "logic" is that it costs them less per customer if people would just use less data? That is basically a tautology; it is neither surprising nor meaningful.

The fact is, data usage is trending upwards at a fast pace, as well it should. I use 75 - 150 GB per month on 100% legal, above-board purposes, without wasting any of that data on frivolous "re-downloads" or anything of the sort (I only download games once through Steam, then copy them on the LAN to my other devices; other people aren't so responsible). The vast majority of that data is tied to financial transactions where I have paid (either through advertising, subscription, or direct per-content payments) for the delivery of the data.

The problem with the current situation is:

1. It doesn't cost them nearly as much as they're charging on a per-GB level on the limited plans for the transfer of the data, AFTER you subtract out their up-front costs;
2. I guarantee you (I will bet you any amount of money) that AFTER they have already run the service long enough to get their return on up-front costs *AND THEN SOME*, they will not lower prices at all; if anything, they will continue to INCREASE prices;
3. They are using public funding -- my tax payer dollars -- to help fund their up-front costs, and then double-charging me as a paying customer by paying for their up-front costs as part of the charge of the per-GB that flows through their network.

It would be like me paying $20,000 for a car -- up-front -- and then paying an additional $20,000 amortized over 5-6 years in added costs to the price of gasoline, and then continuing to pay at that rate long after I've paid off my car two, three, four times.

Except the car market doesn't work that way, because Chevy doesn't sell me my gas.

I'm fine with Verizon making a profit; I'm even fine with them making large ROI on their LTE towers. But do they *really* need to continue to bill people *as if* they are outlaying expenditures at an incredibly high rate, when in fact they are planning to rest on their laurels and soak up the profits long after they've made ROI?

My last beef with your post is that you spent half your post describing how Verizon could make a lot more money and how it would be good for THEM. To be perfectly honest, I couldn't give a flying fuck what's good for Verizon. I have absolutely no self-interested reason to value the self-interest of a large corporation that is extremely profitable already.

The self-interest tug of war between corporations and consumers is always ongoing, with one side making headway and the other losing out, and back and forth. Right now Verizon has pulled on their side so hard that consumers have fallen in the mud pit, and they continue to drag us along the muddy ground to celebrate their victory. The combined forces of regulatory capture, anti-competitive business practices, industry collusion, monopoly/duopoly, vendor lock-in, and price gouging, have made the wireless industry way more "valuable" (in terms of profit margins and raw revenue) than it should be. Having an uber-valuable corporation sounds mighty enticing to the capitalists here, but you have to remember that they are doing this at the consumer's expense. It doesn't HAVE to be this way. If you think it does, you are drinking their kool-aid. They've got you hook, line and sinker.

about 3 months ago

Verizon Now Throttling Top 'Unlimited' Subscribers On 4G LTE

allquixotic Re:what the hell are you doing on your cellphone (274 comments)

"The amount of data they are carrying on wireless today is far greater than the amount they were carrying in 2004 by over an order of magnitude. You are simply dead wrong about this. The retail caps were mostly meaningless when it was EVDO. It is because LTE is so much better that they matter."

I didn't claim that the carriers carry the same amount of data as they did in 2004. I claimed that the caps are the same. This is a fact. I remember the 5 GB cap on their "limited unlimited" plan when I first started using Verizon BroadbandAccess. Today on Verizon Wireless' website, the most data you can buy is 100 GB per month (which, let's be honest, is peanuts in 2014 for any Internet-connected service provider aside from cellular data) -- and for that you have to pay $750 per month. That works out to a rate of $7.5 per gigabyte. If you go over 100 GB, the rate is, exasperatingly, DOUBLE that, at $15 per gigabyte. That rate of $15 per gigabyte is HIGHER than it was in 2003 when I got my first Windows Mobile smartphone!

What I claimed, and what is correct and NOT "simply dead wrong", is that the value that the carriers place on transferring 1 GB of data over cellular data networks is valued somewhere in the ballpark of $10 per GB. In the best case, it's valued at 25% less (for your first 100 GB). In the worst case, it's valued at 50% more (for data overages). The failure here is that, while just about every other service in the world that has anything to do with computing has steadily reduced the price per unit of measurement -- price per FLOPS, price per GB of storage, price per GB of wireline data, price per GB of RAM, etc -- cellular data has remained stagnant. That's not innovation. In fact, it looks like inflation will continue to drive the price per GB of cellular data higher and higher as time goes on.

The fact that they are carrying an order of magnitude more traffic just means that more and more people are jumping on the cellular data bandwagon and using their 5 GB per month. If the carriers can't keep up with the demand, they should simply stop selling new plans, not oversubscribe their network to increasingly higher levels of saturation and then raise the price as demand keeps increasing. If too many people try to bring their kids into one pediatrician's office, to the point where they are totally booked for months, does the pediatrician raise the price of an office visit by 50%? No. He stops accepting new patients, OR he brings new doctors into his practice. It's really that simple.

"No you aren't. If you are using that much data buy a business plan. Verizon (or dozens of other carriers) will be happy to sell you as much ethernet landline bandwidth as you want you just have to pay for it."

A business plan of *what*, exactly? I went on Verizon's website and looked up the available business plans at my address. Oh, look, I can't get Business FiOS, but they can offer me overpriced ADSL at up to a whopping 7 Mbps! AFK while I go sign up for that. /sarc

The fact is, if such and such a service isn't available at your address, saying "I'm a business!" isn't going to magically make the carriers fall over you to bring service to you. If the wires aren't in the ground, they're not going to dig up the street just because you declared yourself a Sole Proprietorship. And if they do, it's going to cost more than your mortgage. Also, I'm not using "that" much data -- 75 to 120 GB is in the range of what content consumers (as well as content creators) would want to use in a month, for at least the past 10 years. Ever hear of video? How about downloading 3 GB OS images? Yeah. The whole internet isn't made of gzipped plain text and HTML. Apparently VZW thinks it is, though.

"That's just not true. Verizon has done tremendous network expansion. Read their earnings reports."

I read their earnings reports. I saw record profits that far outstrip their expenditures. For a public utility that acts as a force multiplier for entire industries of the economy that depend on them, we simply can't allow them to operate under normal unregulated free market rules. As loudly as they will cry crocodile tears at the prospect, we simply have to regulate them, and yes, cut down their profit-making potential a bit, in order to usher in an enormous boost to the rest of the economy. Content creators, advertisers, online goods retailers like Amazon and Valve, etc. are chomping at the bit to sell reasonably-priced goods to consumers that are chomping at the bit to purchase them. But the carriers are acting as a bottleneck, preventing this potential from being realized, unless you're among the fortunate few who've gotten FiOS or higher-speed cable.

History is repeating itself. This is exactly like the electric appliance revolution. What if, when washing machines, dish washers, electric fans, A/C, etc. were new, the electric companies decided that, in order to maximize profits, they would keep increasing electricity costs as much as they like as demand increases, and not expand their capacity? Well, for a number of years, we saw that happen, until it stopped in the 70s due to policy changes. Since the 70s, electricity demand has continued to increase along an exponential curve, but the price hasn't. If the price had continued on the exponential trajectory it was on, we'd all be paying twice our salaries in electricity bills today just to keep the house at a comfortable 85 Fahrenheit on a hot summer day and wash the dishes. Running desktop computers would be out of the question. Bitcoin could not exist. And so on. To put it simply, we'd be living in the dark ages -- figuratively AND literally.

"No it does not have the potential. Doubling the usage between now and 2017 is going to cost the carriers about $100b. Replacing wired all together would be trillions. Who is going to pay for that?"

Where are you getting these air numbers? ... Anyway, never mind that. I'll concede that it would be uneconomical to completely replace all wired-to-the-premises connections with cellular data. In fact, I had never really claimed that. If you had read my original post, I qualified my statement with " especially in areas where it would traditionally be too costly to bury fiber/ethernet/coax through less-densely populated neighborhoods". If you had cared to read my statement charitably, instead of latching on to the extreme example of replacing ALL wireline service, you would have considered the cost of replacing wireline service to less densely populated areas. By that I mean primarily suburbs and exurbs, commuter towns, but also rural areas.

According to PBS -- -- 52% of the US population lives in the suburbs in 2000. I bet that number has increased, but never mind; let's assume it's just 52%. According to Verizon, it's too expensive to roll out FiOS to every last mile within the entire area in which they currently have deployed ADSL. That's because the number of subscribers they get per mile of fiber is too low for them to get ROI in the timeframe they consider acceptable. Fine; I still think they're douchebags for doing that while taking public funding for their limited rollout, but whatever. But where is our replacement? What is the alternative? I certainly think that for these cases, if you increased the tower density in these specific areas where they consider it uneconomical to roll out FiOS, you could provide enough spectrum to allow for unlimited data. This is factoring in, of course, that not every single customer who subscribes to unlimited data is going to fully utilize their connection 24/7 -- in fact, most people won't utilize it hardly at all MOST of the time. You just have to find that happy medium number, and then offer the subscription. It's really not that hard -- it's been done in the past for other types of service.

Either that, or reduce the price per gigabyte on limited plans by a factor of 10 or more. I could probably (begrudgingly) stomach paying $2 to watch a Netflix movie, or $3 to download a SQL Server ISO. But it's way too much to be paying $20 or $30 or more for that kind of download. Especially when, most times, the *content itself* is also very expensive.

Right now, speeds faster than DSL are only available to a fraction of suburban customers. There must be at least 25% of the total US population whose fastest available option is either DSL, or -- if available -- LTE. In the northeast, only about 30% of people who are in Verizon's DSL service area (read: they have a monopoly) are able to get FiOS. What about the other 70%? Well, if you ask Verizon, they're more than welcome to pay $750/month on LTE to download the same data that their neighbors a mile down the road are paying $120/month for on FiOS, just because they happen to have fewer people in their area. They're really not offering a solution except "move", which is a huge, life-changing event that is neither easy nor cheap nor necessarily possible unless you're 25, single, and living on your own.

about 3 months ago

Verizon Now Throttling Top 'Unlimited' Subscribers On 4G LTE

allquixotic Re:I'm affected by this, and... (274 comments)

Not at all, yet, but I may have to if Verizon keeps pulling bait and switch tactics on its users every few years.

I should've let them rot with AT&T, who has been leading Verizon by the hand down the road of anti-consumer practices, with Verizon following their lead after 6 months or so. Oh, wait...

Maybe I should've let them get throttled with Sprint, after using -- what is it, 2 or 5 GB? -- on their "unlimited" plan. Oh, wait...

Or maybe I should've let them get no service at all with T-Mobile, which serves approximately 3 square inches of land with their vast LTE network. Oh, wait...

Crap, out of options.

about 3 months ago


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