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Apple Posts $18B Quarterly Profit, the Highest By Any Company, Ever

almitydave Re: Good job! (506 comments)

On aggregate, I'm a very ethical person.

yesterday
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Verizon, Cable Lobby Oppose Spec-Bump For Broadband Definition

almitydave Re:life in the U.S. (255 comments)

...the point of changing the definition is so that the cable companies can't point to your plan and call it the "Extra super good internet plan."

And why can't they? If the FCC changes the definition of broadband so the cable companies can't call it "broadband", then renaming it "Extra super good internet" is exactly the sort of thing they'll do. They'll just use some non-technical marketing language to describe it.

The point is essentially a technicality: Raise the definition so that most typical plans don't count as broadband. Which makes it harder for the telcos to justify charging broadband prices for sub-broadband service. Which, hopefully, will either reduce prices for the low end of things so that more people can access it, or encourage the companies to upgrade their infrastructure to support the new speeds.

I don't see how it would have that effect without price controls. Since there's no standardized technical definition for "broadband" as it relates internet connection speeds, it's a meaningless term. The problem is that the way the FCC is using the term to measure ISP deployment progress is based on a moving target. From TFA:

The Telecommunications Act of 1996 said that advanced telecommunications capability must “enable users to originate and receive high-quality voice, data, graphics, and video telecommunications using any technology.” Wheeler’s proposed annual report says the 4/1 definition adopted in 2010 “is inadequate for evaluating whether broadband capable of supporting today’s high-quality voice, data, graphics, and video is being deployed to all Americans in a timely way.”

Well, of course it's inadequate, because those things have become more demanding of bandwidth, because as more people have higher-speed internet access, sites and services take advantage of this fact and offer products that require it. Netflix video streaming started in what, 2007? HD videos on YouTube didn't roll out until 2009. I don't think playing word games by redefining terms will help anything.

If you want to make federal dollars dependent on a deployment/upgrade schedule, then make a schedule. Say "99% of users must have access at minimum down/up speeds of X/Y in 5/10/15/20 years", doubling the X & Y every 5 years (or whatever). Don't say "well yesterday 4 Mbps was broadband, but today Netflix offers 2160p 3D video, so we're going redefine our standard to whatever Netflix's top offering requires." (Yes, I know that's not exactly what they're doing, but it's close).

I'm no shill of the providers here - I think the effective monopolies have resulted in a great deal of harm to consumer choice and product quality - but this particular proposed action of the FCC strikes me as silly. Reclassifying them as common carriers and Congress banning anti-competitive laws that prohibit municipal broadband would go a great deal further toward fixing the problem IMHO. If you want internet to be a utility, treat it like a utility. If you want it to benefit from free market forces, make sure customers have real choices among competing products.

3 days ago
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Elon Musk Plans To Build Hyperloop Test Track

almitydave I have some concerns about this project... (165 comments)

1) I would imagine this train would be quite loud.
2) How strong will the track have to be? Is there a chance it could bend?
3) So many primary roads are in a terrible state of disrepair, with cracks and potholes.
4) How will this program benefit those of us who lack a college education or proper hygiene?
5) Was Elon Musk sent here by the devil?
6) The ring came off my pudding can!

about two weeks ago
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Beware Headlines Saying Chocolate Is Good For You

almitydave Placebo (224 comments)

What about the placebo effect? Eating dark chocolate makes me happy, and if I believe it's good for me, isn't it likely to have some health benefits due to this?

Plus, if I do all the things that they say will make me live longer - avoid sugar, avoid fat, get off the couch, drink my own piss - what's the point? Living longer won't be worth it if I can't do any of the things worth living for.

At least scientists have shown (possibly NSFW) that looking at breasts is good for your heart.

about three weeks ago
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Toyota Opens Patents On Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology

almitydave At Toyota... (124 comments)

At Toyota, we believe that when good ideas are shared, great things can happen

So I take it they're not going to open their patents on gas pedal design?

about three weeks ago
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Space Policy Guru John Logsdon Has Good News and Bad News On NASA Funding

almitydave Overstatement (78 comments)

American astronauts will not return to the moon, not to mention go to Mars, in the foreseeable future.

...if we rely completely on NASA-managed, government-funded space exploration, that is. I don't think it's fair to limit our vision to the public option, important though it may be.

I foresee a future of space exploration funded by the super-rich, because it's cool and they can, but also organizations with a speculative interest. I'm thinking of asteroid mining - robotic at first, but if an asteroid is captured and brought near earth, manned operations will probably take place at some point.

Looking back at the earlier days of Earth exploration, specifically "new world" and Antarctic, there were no guarantees of success or even survival; and while Columbus was state-funded, the mission was of a primarily commercial interest. Shackleton's and Scott's, however, were primarily for exploration - scientific curiosity. As long as we have people like Elon Musk, there's a chance for manned exploration. Even a high-risk manned mission to Mars would have plenty of willing volunteers, as long as there was a chance of safe return (I do think it would at least have to be planned to be round-trip).

about three weeks ago
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The Magic of Pallets

almitydave Employee of the Century (250 comments)

And the award for Best Employee of the 20th Century goes to...

This inanimate wooden pallet!

about a month ago
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MIT Removes Online Physics Lectures and Courses By Walter Lewin

almitydave Re:Sexual Harassment shouldn't cost us knowledge (416 comments)

He absolutely has the right to tell them what they should do. Presumably, MIT was making these educational materials available for the purpose of furthering the common good. Removing them does nothing to serve the common good, thus MIT is acting against its own goals (as we perceive them), which, logically speaking, is total bullshit.

It's a sound argument, and doesn't presuppose any special rights or privileges - merely the ability to analyze the purpose and effects of others' actions. Capacity for moral judgment + societal cost/benefit analysis + free speech rights = the right to tell others what they should do. We do this all the time: the US shouldn't invade Iraq, Microsoft shouldn't abuse its monopoly, the MPAA/RIAA shouldn't sue old ladies whose grandkid downloaded a song, that racist pastor shouldn't be racist, etc. etc. It's called advocacy.

about a month and a half ago
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MIT Removes Online Physics Lectures and Courses By Walter Lewin

almitydave Re:Sexual Harassment shouldn't cost us knowledge (416 comments)

You don't own the content. You might have access to it under a CC license, but you don't own it. If MIT wants to take it down, that's their right. The fact that you think you should have some say in the matter is bullshit.

He's not making a rights- or privilege-based argument, he's saying MIT should choose a different course of action that will better serve the greater good.

Side note: I see this happen a lot - someone conflates the argument "entity X should do Y" with "entity X should be made to do Y". Read arguments carefully.

about a month and a half ago
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Australian Target Stores Ban GTA V For Depictions of Violence Against Women

almitydave Re:Removed after Initial sales spike (310 comments)

I mean, I played THROUGH gta V and .. well. I don't remember where killing some bitches happened. is it that you can go to the strip club and shoot people there? or on the street? like you can shoot the men there as well?

I think they're talking about the "pick up a prostitute to regain health, and then run her over afterward to get your money back" game mechanic that's existed since GTA 3. I assume said mechanic still exists in GTA 5 (which I haven't gotten around to playing).

I can see how that somewhat misrepresents reality...

Indeed - prostitutes are a communist plot to contaminate the purity of our essence by depriving us of our precious bodily fluids. Like fluoridating the water.

about 2 months ago
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Montana Lawmakers Propose 85 Mph Speed Limit On Interstates

almitydave Re:The real question is . . . (525 comments)

When moving across country (California to Florida) in 2005, I averaged 32 MPG for two consecutive tanks of gas (calculated by actual gas used at time of fill up) while driving through AZ and NM. Cruising speed was 85. Car was a '99 Grand Am (170hp 3.4L V6), EPA highway rating was 30 MPG. There was probably a tailwind.

More recently, while returning to Chicago from vacation in Colorado, I managed to average 30 MPG for a single continuous 400-mile nonstop leg while averaging 76 MPH. This car is a '05 Pontiac G6 (200hp 3.5L V6), rated at 28 MPG highway by the EPA.

Obviously, both these trips are idealized - fill up, accelerate directly to cruising speed, maintain until next fuel stop - so not representative of how the EPA tests highway mileage. Typically the G6 gets 25-28 on the highway (yes, these GM engines are woefully inefficient). Now, I know the plural of anecdote is not data, but the fact is it's possible for cars to achieve mileage better than the EPA ratings - depending on lots of things including traffic, power curve, gearing, wind, etc.

about 2 months ago
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Former HP CEO Carly Fiorina Considering US Presidential Run

almitydave Re:Can Iowa handle a circus that large? (433 comments)

Gah, I can't believe you mentioned the words dream ticket and Palin in the same sentence.

Well, he didn't specify what type of dream. There are lots of possibilities.

about 2 months ago
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Hacker Threatened With 44 Felony Charges Escapes With Misdemeanor

almitydave Re:He still plead guilty to something ... (219 comments)

In a democracy (or representative republic), ultimately the buck stops with the voters. Prosecutors aren't kings, they answer to somebody who answers to somebody (who answers to somebody...) who answers to you, the voter.

Find out who in your municipality or jurisdiction has to power to appoint or censure prosecutors, and if they're doing a bad job, then complain, vote against them, start a public campaign; hell, run for office yourself if you have to.

The American system of government requires a populace that pays attention and holds their leaders accountable (clichéd, but true), and a press that responsibly covers the things that matter so voters are informed. Like the other cynics here, I believe that parts of this system are damaged; however I don't think they're beyond repair. People will always care about justice, and when things get bad enough, change happens.

about 2 months ago
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Hacker Threatened With 44 Felony Charges Escapes With Misdemeanor

almitydave Re:He still plead guilty to something ... (219 comments)

Well, sure, there are plenty of public servants who are motivated by a desire to, you know, serve the public, but they don't make headlines or get famous so you don't hear about them much. They could very well be (and probably do) constitute the vast majority.

about 2 months ago
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Sony To Offer Partial Refunds For PS Vita

almitydave Re:PS4 next (60 comments)

It runs a customized AMD x86-64 APU based on their desktop processors (including Radeon GPU), so no, not Intel-manufactured hardware; but compare this to past consoles with specialized processors. I would imagine this makes cross-platform development somewhat easier.

about 2 months ago
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Polyphonic Overtone Singing Explained Visually With Spectrograms

almitydave Re:Reminds me of Tuvan throat singing (51 comments)

I was fortunate enough to hear Kongar-ol Ondar and some other Tuvan singers perform live about a decade ago. It was a special experience. I heard about Tuvan throat singing from my parents, who were huge Richard Feynman fans and learned about it from him.

about 2 months ago
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Sony To Take On Netflix With Playstation Vue

almitydave Re:De facto a la carte cable (130 comments)

I didn't include the cost of internet, since for me personally, that part would be the same either way; others may have a choice of ISP (Comcast/DSL/FiOS/Google). Perhaps you're suggesting that Comcast will raise their internet access prices, and that may in fact happen; but it's hard to factor into a services comparison like this. It's worth noting that Comcast gives a ~$20 "discount" on their internet access for also subscribing to digital cable, so that would need to be added as well. And at $10/mo for modem rental, it makes a lot of sense to buy your own - it will pay for itself in fairly short order.

about 2 months ago
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Sony To Take On Netflix With Playstation Vue

almitydave De facto a la carte cable (130 comments)

I welcome another streaming service. Why? Because it increases the alternative options for cable customers. Consider:
Netflix ($9) + Hulu Plus ($8) + Amazon Prime ($8.25) + Sony ("competitive") = ~$35
Comcast's Digital Preferred (where I live): $86 (not counting taxes) + $10 HD fee + $8 DVR fee = $104

There's some overlap with the streaming services, but each one offers something a little different, and customers can get a pretty broad selection. Combine with ad-hoc Redbox rentals for hardware viewing of recent releases and the upcoming HBO Go offerings, digital cable television as a value proposition becomes less and less appealing for many customers.

The single biggest draw for cable IMHO is live sports - and ESPN currently offers a similar deal to what HBO is moving away from. I think as internet streaming reaches critical mass, content providers like ESPN may decide that their exclusive contracts with cable companies are a liability. Another important issue is advertising dollars - cable-company provided DVRs allow viewers to skip commercials, whereas live streaming doesn't currently allow that, so commercials on streaming video may start to look more lucrative than on TV.

about 2 months ago

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