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

allquixotic PHEVs will be better til at least 2030 (389 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.

4 days 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 two weeks 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 two weeks 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 a month 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 a month 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 a month and a half 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 2 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 2 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 2 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 2 months ago

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

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

Your entire post is based on the fallacy that each bit I transmit costs them money. This is simply not true.

Fact 1: Major ISPs such as Verizon have peering agreements with other Tier 1 and Tier 2 ISPs that run in the millions of dollars, for terabits per second of bandwidth.

Fact 2: Even the heaviest mobile data users are a drop in the bucket, in terms of bandwidth usage, compared to a typical FiOS customer. Even DSL customers likely use more, because there's no cap, so they can happily stream 7 Mbps of movies 18 hours a day.

Fact 3: Population density is finite, and does not increase to infinity. Also, in the US, population density in all but a very small number of places (so-called "cities") is much lower than in densely populated areas of other countries. So even if your argument is that "without people like you, they could put more customers on their towers", it doesn't hold water because there are only so many people within the service area of a tower. If at any point that tower isn't saturated, that is called "waste" -- where there was a potential for bandwidth to be used during a given time slot, but it lay fallow for that period. Most towers outside of major gathering places, such as sports stadiums, have vast periods where they are not saturated, and are usually only mildly saturated even during peak hours. I can substantiate this because I have observed LTE throughput many times at different locations over a period of years, in areas where there's good signal strength, and I can count on one hand the number of times where I've seen oddly reduced throughput (that's not throttling; that's the tower physically being unable to give you the bandwidth you request because more throughput is being requested than is actually available). That includes going into two major East Coast cities several dozen times and testing the waters on the bandwidth while I'm there.

Fact 4: The maximum useful tower density is finite, because microwave radiation experiences gradual signal loss by traveling through the medium of the air, and by spreading out (diffusing) as it travels. The further it travels, the more loss there is. That's why you can't point a USB WiFi stick in the general direction of the UK from somewhere like New York and get a good signal from a Starbucks in London. The point is that many LTE towers, being at a distance of 10 to 15 miles apart from one another, are already near the limit of where they start experiencing too much signal loss due to distance. So basically Verizon has deployed the towers as far apart as physically possible, yet they are dragging their feet on deploying more towers to handle more capacity. There is an enormous amount of potential for the expansion of capacity that is simply not being used.

Consider this: if Verizon has an unmetered peering agreement with another Tier 1, which is not at 100% utilization, and the tower I'm connected to is not at 100% utilization, the only cost I am incurring upon Verizon by transmitting my data is the electricity to pass my packets from the tower through the network. It's very, very close to being free, and several orders of magnitude less than $10 per GB, which is the going rate for capped data overages.

All I'm doing is using the existing infrastructure more efficiently by not having it sit idle.

IF the utilization increases to the point where the tower is saturated, which is moderated by Fact 3 and easily relieved by deploying towers as suggested by Fact 4, then the tower will already -- by the necessities of physics -- "throttle" me, in the sense that I won't get the full throughput that I could be getting if the tower were not saturated. Isn't that enough? Why is it necessary to then further punish users with additional reductions? Just use a fair queue algorithm like the Linux kernel's scheduler. It's not rocket science.

It seems like you're saying Verizon won't mind losing my business because they make more per gigabyte off of you, but the fact stands that I incur very little cost to their business, since I know for a fact that my local tower is only occasionally saturated, and I only occasionally visit places where the tower is likely to be saturated. But why would they want to willingly forego all that money, when they're already making more than is reasonable? By your own admission, they make twice as much off of me than from you -- but using 10x as much data doesn't mean I'm costing them 10 times as much. To think so is a fallacy.

I think they just want to stamp out the social/cultural trait of people thinking that they SHOULD have "unlimited", by effectively killing off its availability. I strongly suspect that this step is the first on the road towards outright getting rid of unlimited data plans. But that is a completely artificial, human-imposed limitation that is placed there to maximize corporate profits at the expense of the public good. To accept this, and think this is "OK", is to blind yourself to the fact that, rather than offer the best service possible, what the ISPs want to do is offer the minimum service that won't cause an armed revolution, while the C-level executives reap record-setting bonuses.

about 2 months ago

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

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

Man, it must be nice to live in an area where Verizon doesn't have a monopoly over your choice of wire-line internet service, and then only offers you 7 Mbps ADSL that drops out when it rains.

Also, it's a *smartphone*, not a cellphone. We're not talking about sending 5 GB in text messages, here. Just having your phone on and connected to 4G will use up at least a few gigabytes per month downloading incessant updates to the **built-in apps** (most of which can't be disabled on many phones without voiding your warranty). If you actually wanted to, I don't know, download an app of your choice (or TWO?!) from the Play Store, and then actually use the latest version of that app, you're done. Cooked. 5 GB and beyond.

Chrome is 30+ MB. Verizon's own "My Verizon" app is something like 11 MB. Samsung has hundreds of megs of apps installed, and some of them update twice a week. Updates have to re-download the entire program, even resources that don't change, so you end up blowing through tons of data that way.

This type of thinking is wrong-headed. The question shouldn't be "what are you doing that takes 5 GB per month". The question should be "why haven't cellular data providers figured out a way to offer more than 5 GB per month at a reasonable price in the past decade". After all, Verizon argued that considering ISPs to be subject to Title II regulations would severely hinder innovation. By implication, by them being a Title I carrier, they've been innovating as fast as humanly possible. A decade of serious "innovation" in the wireless data space and we're still looking at exactly the same caps? Oh, excuse me, the $105/month plan is for a whopping 15 GB. That's enough for about five Netflix movies per month, assuming you disable all app updates.

You also don't seem to grok the raw convenience factor of tethering. Let's say you're on a bus, in your car, on a train, at a remote work location, whatever -- you're somewhere, and you either don't have the password to get access to the wireless network, or it's down, or there just ISN'T one. Well, you really need to do this one thing, see, and... if you HAD a phone that had unlimited data and 4G, you could just whip it out, turn on the hotspot, connect up your ultrabook, and away you go. But you don't, so you don't understand what you're missing. You just sigh and go "oh well, I'll drive back home and do it then" or something like that. Wasted potential.

Unlimited data (plus tethering) really creates a demand for it once you are exposed to it, just like Apple created a demand for high-res touchscreen mobile devices with the advent of the iPad and iPhone. It's understandable that the vast majority of the population can't comprehend why this would be useful, because the window during which unlimited data was available was very small (only a few years), and then it closed again.

Oh, there is one last "minor" thing that having unlimited data plus tethering enables you to do. It means that you no longer depend on your local monopoly to bring a high-speed fiber/coax/ethernet ISP to your house. Maybe they did a study and considered that your neighbors are luddites, and so you aren't worthy of their service. Well, if you don't have a cellular option, you're SOL. If you DO have a cellular option, it can be perfectly viable replacement for carriers' refusal to roll out their service to your *entire* town. I'm looking at you, FiOS. Gee, the company that advertises FiOS has an awfully similar name to the company that's turning the screws on unlimited data plans now. I wonder why that is.

P.S.: For those of you who say that "there's only so much spectrum", you are really missing the point. The point is this: given a certain number of users per square mile; the spectral efficiency of a protocol; the desired upstream/downstream targets for each user; and a spectrum width (in Hz), it is possible to calculate a finite number for the minimum tower density required to support each of the users in that area with truly unlimited data. Unlimited as in, they can use hundreds of gigabytes (or how ever much is considered "a lot" in your computing era of choice) and not negatively impact the network. All you have to do is solve for X, where X is the broadcast radius, in meters, of each tower; then build your tower network accordingly. Right now, the "X" that Verizon is using is an order of magnitude LARGER (wider radius) than it needs to be. In many areas, there's only a single tower covering between 5 and 15 square MILES. There is absolutely no reason why more towers can't be built. A lot more, even. Many of the communities that want high-end broadband rolled out to them would probably be just as willing to fund the deployment of more towers, in exchange for unlimited data, as they would be to fund the rollout of fiber to the premises. And the speed is actually quite good: at off-peak times, I can pull down about as much speed as the lowest available FiOS plan. Over LTE. Not too shabby.

The problem is that Verizon, and the other carriers, are unwilling to spend money on more towers. They already have towers that have existed since the days before cellular data was a thing, and there was only voice. They want to keep using those same towers forever, and not build any new ones. It looks good for the bottom line when their cash on hand doesn't go down because they're spending money for the future.

Cellular data has the POTENTIAL to be a fully adequate replacement for wired internet, especially in areas where it would traditionally be too costly to bury fiber/ethernet/coax through less-densely populated neighborhoods. But, as usual, they're not selling what we're buying. $10 per GB? Get lost.

about 2 months ago

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

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

I'm definitely meeting all the conditions required to be throttled. I'm going to wait until October to see what the impact is for me. Whether or not I stay with Verizon will depend on the severity of the throttling, and how frequently the tower where I live suffers from saturation.

As long as I get at least EvDO speeds (over LTE, for the lower ping and IPv6), I'll probably stay with Verizon and continue my existing usage pattern. I use about 70 to 150 GB per month. I tether with the (legitimate) mobile hotspot feature, enabled by paying an extra $30/mo. I don't have a wireline Internet connection because Comcast is unreliable and doesn't care to fix it, and Verizon, despite telling me in 2007 that we could get FiOS in a matter of weeks, is still only offering us 7 Mbps ADSL.

I usually do most of my downloading/uploading at off-peak hours, anyway. I'm fine with firing off a 25 GB download on Steam at 11 PM and letting it run through the night. It's unlikely to be throttled at that time, because the tower won't be saturated. The population density where I live is strictly suburban (full-size houses, not town homes), so I don't think it'll be saturated very often.

If the throttling gives me so little bandwidth that I can't even stream 720p H264, I'm outta there. Might have to move to an area that has decent wireline service. But I can tell you for certain that it won't be Verizon or any company related to it in any way. Once I decide that Verizon has put the last straw on me, I am not going to spend another penny on that company for the rest of my life, and will go out of my way to ensure that nobody I know spends a penny on them, or at least make them seriously reevaluate their choice of service provider, for both cellular and wireline service.

Verizon's taking a real risk with this. If the throttling is only 50-60% of the normal speed, I probably won't even notice, since my bandwidth needs during prime time are usually modest (720p streaming video might be the MOST I ask for, and in many cases I'll just be surfing the web or coding). If the throttling is 90-95% of the potential throughput, they will convert a long-time advocate (since the Windows Mobile early EvDO days) into a bitter enemy, spewing vitriol and anti-Verizon word of mouth everywhere I go for the rest of my life. Are they prepared to live with that consequence?

Oh, and they'll lose my $700 cash infusion that I supply them approximately yearly when I pay full retail to upgrade my phone. Hope they can live without that, too.

Oh, and my $200/month (family-wide) cellular bill.

Oh, plus the fact that I've successfully convinced tens of people in the past, who already have a suitable wireline connection at home, to subscribe to Verizon limited data plans because they actually do offer more data for less money than their competitors, and the service reliability and availability is second to none.

Dear Verizon: if you're reading this, you better go easy on the throttling. If you don't, look to lose about $10,000 per month in revenue by the time I get done canceling my service and talking to my connections about Verizon and they start pulling the plug. I'm a very convincing and influential person. People follow my lead, especially when it comes to technology. I wonder how many other people like me out there are souring to your business by your anti-consumer practices. Are you really OK with staring into the abyss? Is it really your goal to force people who've loved your company for over a decade to do an about-face and tear you down?

All because you couldn't deploy a few more towers, because cost cutting and the bottom line. That type of reasoning is a plague that needs to be rooted out and eradicated, starting with deporting the MBAs who come up with this shit.

about 2 months ago

Laser Eye Surgery, Revisited 10 Years Later

allquixotic Re: Astronomy, and general poor night-time resu (550 comments)

"Getting dilated" means they put drops in your eyes that temporarily increase the amount of dilation of your pupils, beyond the level of dilation that they are naturally at (which changes based on the intensity of the light in your environment). Normally your pupils will not be very dilated in a well-lit room, or with the doctor's flashlight shining right in your eye, or in a more natural setting, when the sun is out. When the pupil is not dilated, it isn't letting very much light through your eye -- most of it is blocked, to prevent sensory overload.

Without the pupil dilation mechanism, you would either be completely blind by dusk, or the sun would be so bright that you'd be unable to bear it (imagine natural sunlight being 10x brighter than normal; enough to be painful). Animals that adapted the pupil dilation mechanism could presumably be more adaptable to more extreme levels of light and dark, allowing them to evade predators and catch prey in more diverse ranges of illumination. This is necessary because of the classic problem with ANY sensor: if you make your sensor extremely sensitive to even tiny changes in the signal (i.e. illumination), you'll be able to see well in the dark, but the light of the sun would be so extreme as to throw all of your sensor's readings completely off the chart, thus you get "overloaded" and you can't process that amount of illumination. If you make your sensor extremely insensitive to changes in the signal, you'll be OK in the daytime, but once the sun drops below the horizon, your eyes are useless for hunting or evading predators. The pupil gives us the best of both worlds and allows us to develop a sensor that's moderately sensitive, and can give us very clear and detailed imaging capability at a huge range of illumination levels, ranging from moonlight to full sunlight on a clear day at noon.

Once the pupil is dilated, a trained ophthalmologist (a true eye doctor, not just an optometrist, which is the eye equivalent of a Nurse Practitioner in general medicine) can use special equipment to look inside your eye. They test for things such as glaucoma, cataracts, astigmatism, detached retina, and possibly other diseases or abnormalities of the eye.

Many other senses have something that functions equivalently to the pupil, by the way. The tensor tympani in the ear regulates how sensitive you are to sound. If a very loud, sudden sound occurs, like a gunshot or an explosion, the tympani can prevent hearing damage if it reacts fast enough, or at least reduce the amount of hearing damage. The difference is that the tympany is usually completely relaxed in the environments most of us live in, as if your pupil were entirely dilated all the time. That's why in a quiet house you can hear very faint sounds, but if you stand right next to a train as it goes roaring by, and then try to talk to someone mere seconds after it has passed and the sound level has dropped off, you'll still have trouble conversing with that person at an "inside voice" level of speech volume.

about 2 months ago

What percentage of your media consumption is streamed?

allquixotic First Vost (152 comments)

Looks like a slow day on the /. polls... first vote and first post!

My only question is, does offline saved copies of Spotify playlists count? I mean it's definitely "streamed" in the sense that I can't tote around the same cache files and play them on any device -- they're encrypted and not in a standard format, and have to be re-keyed or something every so often to make sure you keep current with your subscription -- but since I listen to much of the same music repeatedly, I don't actually stream (in the sense of active downloading) very much of my music. It just sits on the 128 GB microSD card of my phone and gets recalled every once in a while.

about 2 months ago

Laser Eye Surgery, Revisited 10 Years Later

allquixotic People think you're smart if you have glasses (550 comments)

As trite as it sounds, it's true: in a professional context, if you wear glasses, your opinion will tend to be valued more. I've seen it both with male and female coworkers of many different races: in meetings, large and small, the folks who wear glasses can almost trivially get everyone to quiet down and listen when they open their mouth. A few words starting with "in my opinion" and everyone else is nodding their heads in agreement.

It's a subconscious thing that still pervades society due to the stigma of glasses-wearers being especially intelligent "book worms" (or now "computer geeks", I guess), but it's still a way to get a leg up in your career. I wore contacts for years, starting late in high school and up through part of college. Group discussions were miserable; I would speak, then get shouted down, and a few minutes later someone with glasses would meekly restate my suggestion and the group would dutifully follow along.

You may THINK that you don't treat glasses-wearers specially, but I can tell you from experience, if there were 100 people reading this message, at least 50 of you would subconsciously be more likely to accept analyses, opinions or facts if they are stated by someone wearing glasses. It doesn't matter if you're male or female, young or old, black, white, yellow, orange, Martian, transgendered, religious, atheist, whatever -- these attributes may also have an effect on the (positive or negative) biases your coworkers may place on you, BUT, if you wear glasses, you will, almost without fail, receive a "benefit of the doubt" when it comes to knowing WTF you're talking about (assuming that no one in the room has readily-available evidence that incontrovertibly contradicts your statements).

I wear glasses, and they only come off when I go to sleep at night.

about 2 months ago

Verizon Boosts FiOS Uploads To Match Downloads

allquixotic Re:What about extending FIOS to us DSL users? (234 comments)

Verizon Wireless got sued, and lost, a couple years ago for falsely advertising "Unlimited" data plans that were capped at 5 GB. They were court ordered to either remove the "Unlimited" language from their advertisements and provide a figure for the actual cap, or to make "Unlimited" plans truly "Unlimited" with no stipulations. The only stipulation they're allowed to make is that you aren't guaranteed your maximum theoretical downstream if the tower's saturated.

Basically, if the tower I'm connected to is not saturated and my signal strength is sufficient, I'm technically allowed to simultaneously download and upload as much data as I can use 24/7, and Verizon is court-ordered not to do a damn thing about it. If the tower is physically saturated, meaning all the available spectrum is occupied during the period of time I'm using it, then the band time-slots are "fairly" scheduled among the customers, where "fair" is in the computer science sense of fair (think of cgroups and Completely Fair Queue scheduling in the Linux kernel).

The court didn't order them to implement a fair queue algorithm, but they are also prohibited from artificially traffic-shaping customers of their 700 MHz LTE band (such as me), and fair queue scheduling is the most optimal way currently known for maximizing the use of a saturated resource, so they would be stupid to do something sub-optimal. The limitation on throttling comes from the license that they signed off on as part of the conditions they had to satisfy in order to purchase a license for the restricted 700 MHz spectrum that the majority of their LTE network runs on.

I'm currently sitting in a tiny little loophole in the cellular data plan world, where I have fantastic speed and coverage, great reception, virtually unlimited data, about 1/3 to 1/4 of FiOS speed (symmetrical), and paying less than some people pay for 15 GB data plans, while using many times more, because I'm grandfathered. The only downside is that I sometimes to have to pay full retail for a phone upgrade, but I'm more than willing to do that.

The thing that incenses me is that my situation SHOULD NOT HAVE TO BE a loophole! This should be the norm. It should be as common to be in my situation as it currently is to have, say, typical 50/10 cable with a 250 GB cap. We need to give the wireless carriers a huge legal or regulatory push, so hopefully one day my kids won't even realize how lucky they are to be able to sign up for an unlimited data plan and take it for granted.

And before you say "there's only so much spectrum" -- that's complete nonsense. There are tons of things we can do, with both current and near-future technology, to provide more than enough bandwidth to give everyone unlimited data, at least so that the cellular network can drive as much bandwidth as the cable network does today. You can: Increase tower density; increase spectral efficiency of the protocol; switch to millimeter band; retire antiquated and extremely low spectral efficiency radio protocols, reallocate them a much smaller band with a more efficient protocol and reclaim the rest of the spectrum for cellular data; and so on.

Carriers want you to think that what we have now is right up against the limitations of physics and that unlimited is impossible, so that you won't demand something that'll cost them an arm and a leg in capital to roll out. Besides, they're quite glad to charge you $120/month for 15 GB of data.

about 2 months ago

Verizon's Offer: Let Us Track You, Get Free Stuff

allquixotic Why Not? (75 comments)

I'm a Verizon Wireless customer, and I'm probably going to sign up for this. Why? Because I very strongly suspect that, even if I choose to "opt out", they are still going to harvest the same data, or very close to the same type of data, and use it for marketing purposes. So now that they've graciously offered to provide me some financial incentive for it, I'm likely to eat it up. I will make a point not to go out of my way to do things I wouldn't normally do, or buy things I don't really need, but if a coupon or discount code comes up for something that I need anyway, that's money in my pocket.

This is a rather interesting business model that has only been exploited a few times thus far. I remember getting in-game credit (which is basically cash, since you'd have to pay money for that credit otherwise) in Star Trek Online by taking surveys. Most of the surveys wanted personal info. If it got TOO personal, I closed the survey. That excluded me from some "high-value" surveys, obviously, but a few were fairly benign or just wanted me to click through and read some webpages, and I got compensated in return.

When you think about it, the vast majority of advertising and market research trades privacy for a direct service. For instance, Google advertisements trade some privacy for the service of having free email with a ton of storage, and the best search engine in the world. But this new Verizon campaign is more or less trading privacy ... for money. Money in the consumer's pocket. That's pretty new to me.

I guess I don't have a real beef with my "privacy" being "invaded" as long as the data doesn't wind up singling me out as an individual. If they just want to observe trends, then whatever -- go for it. If I start getting an elevated level of text messages, pop-ups on my phone, knocks on the door, phone calls or emails with solicitations that I did not request, then I will fight that tooth and nail until the people doing it are class-actioned out of business.

about 2 months ago

How the Internet of Things Could Aid Disaster Response

allquixotic Power outages... and semantics (60 comments)

"Power outages". Think about that for a moment. In a disaster, there's no power. No power, and your "internet of things" is a bunch of fragile physical objects that are even less useful for bludgeoning looters over the head with than your grandfather's 5 pound flashlight with a lead-acid battery in it.

Sure, batteries last for a little while, but many of the "Internet of Things" devices aside from smartphones and tablets don't have any batteries; they just run off the mains. And if you need help beyond 8 or 10 hours after the initial loss of power, you're out of luck.

That's why I always keep my smartphone and a backup battery on my person. A smartphone that's water-resistant and in a durable case like an Otterbox Defender is actually a viable means of communication (as well as other resources; you could put an Army Survival Guide on it, use it as a flashlight, blare a loud horn to alert rescuers, and so on). If it's durable (and thus likely to survive the initial event that makes your situation a disaster), and either comes with a very long-lasting battery or you have a spare battery, ideally enough to last for a week (with the screen on min. brightness and powered off unless you have an immediate need for it), it'd be infinitely more generally useful than any "Internet of Things" device.

Then again, people throw around such general and semantically vague terms these days that I don't even know if TFA is including smartphones in "Internet of Things". Just like I don't know if my VPS is technically part of "the cloud". Back in the day we just called things what they were: my smartphone was a smartphone, and my server was a server (virtual or not, doesn't make a huge difference). Now they're both part of some wishy-washy, gooey, free-associative vague term like "Internet of Things" or "the Cloud". Depending on who you ask, anyway.

about 2 months ago

The Secret Government Rulebook For Labeling You a Terrorist

allquixotic Slashdot Users (242 comments)

Soon enough (if not already), they will have "reasonable suspicion" to add all Slashdot users to the list.

about 2 months ago


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