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Can the US Actually Cultivate Local Competition in Broadband?

bmajik Re:Can government solve government problems? (135 comments)

My ILEC is CenturyLink, a national company. The neighboring ILEC is actually a locally owned company that is much smaller and is providing much better service.

The point is, even if I wanted wired IP service from a competing ISP, that's not possible because the ILEC owns the copper to my property and the ILEC cannot provide L2 connectivity over its existing infrastructure, and has no plans to upgrade that infrastructure.

Meanwhile, a neighboring, locally owned ILEC is running FTTH to its rural customers...

I haven't spoken enough with the competing ILEC to know if they'd be able to finance their fiber buildout without capturing the revenue from voice and data service on top of their plant.

I don't understand your reference to my state. I agree that we shouldn't make laws for everyone based on the conditions in a particular place.

That's actually a great reason to limit FCC oversight, since it is a federal entity and makes rules that are national in scope...

about a month ago

Can the US Actually Cultivate Local Competition in Broadband?

bmajik Re:Can government solve government problems? (135 comments)

Why does Verizon have the right to saturate my property with 700mhz energy?

I didn't sell that to them.

If they want to shoot 700mhz energy across (and through!) my house, why don't they have to buy rights to that? If they are preventing me from being able to do anything in my own home with 700mhz because of their harmful emissions, why don't I have any recourse against them?

Nobody would let me park across the street from your house and shine lasers or even flashlights into your windows.

Why is Verizon given this same privilege, albeit in a section of non-visible spectrum?

The current RF energy governance framework we have in the US may not be appropriate. The spectrum licensees certainly benefit from legal protection from competition, and from legal usurpation of my property rights on a massive scale...

about a month ago

Can the US Actually Cultivate Local Competition in Broadband?

bmajik Re:Can government solve government problems? (135 comments)

I am near the edge of my ILEC's territory. If I wanted a different ILEC from a neighboring territory to be able to provide service at my address, I would need to petition for the two ILECs in question to agree to "hand me off" from the current ILEC to a different one.

This comes directly from the state public service commission in my state (North Dakota).

about a month ago

Can the US Actually Cultivate Local Competition in Broadband?

bmajik Can government solve government problems? (135 comments)

Legally, only one ILEC is allowed to run copper pairs to my property. They have no interested in upgrading their plant.

They have a protected monopoly.

In many jurisdictions, only one cable company can put coax in the ground.

They have a protected monopoly.

IP protections, like copyright, are a government protected monopoly.

Frequency allocations, overseen by the FCC, are a government protected monopoly.

Access Easements on private property for incumbent wire owners (e.g. the cable company can put a truck or a box on your property if they like) are a government grant of special privilege.

Given all of the government collusion with the current infrastructure, asking if government can address its own problems seems a bit silly. Of course it could. It could stop enabling all of the stuff it currently enables, for one.

If you try to factor the residential broadband problem into an OSI-type layer model, perhaps what makes sense is to limit vertical integration.

E.g. if there is physical plant, IP transit, content delivery, and content production, it would be problematic to allow, for instance, SONY, to own all 4 of those layers in some specific area.

Ideally there would be robust competition at each layer.

Another action the government could take would be to stop approving merger/consolidation deals that have the net effect of consolidating layers and/or markets in such a way that overall marketplace competition suffers.

In some communities, public utility ownership of layer 1 (physical plant) would make a lot of sense and would be voter supported. In others, it wouldn't, and wouldn't. Both models are worth trying.

As you go up the stack, there are lots of opportunities for different business models. Community owned IP transit? Why not? This is, in some regards, the case at current internet peering points. The members co-own the exchanges. It is in some respects like the agricultural co-ops that are so common in rural America - the land of rugged individualists.

People are, after all, not opposed to working in groups when they like the group and when the cooperation makes sense (as opposed to being coercive in nature)

about a month ago

President Obama Backs Regulation of Broadband As a Utility

bmajik Re:Go back to the pre 1984 AT&T model (706 comments)

I currently live on a farm 3.5 miles from the nearest town. The copper pair running to my property is so noisy that the phone company asks me if it always sounds so bad. It is actually provisioned out of a different town a bit further away. Of course it is not possible to get a DSL connection where I am. In fact, it is impossible to get any kind of wired broadband service where I am.

I have been making due with a Verizon LTE puck for the last year, and it is truly terrible. The key problem is that it is a metered connection; I pay for every byte that "allegedly" goes in or out of the box. I say allegedly because I know enough about tcpdump to suspect that Verizon is being a bit optimistic about my usage (and therefore, my bill). In addition to the high cost of a metered connection, the reliability is not very good.

So, I have taken it upon myself to build my own wireless link from the nearby town, where DSL service is available. I tested the p2p wireless link this weekend and it provided 25MBit of aggregate bandwidth -- more than the DSL service feeding it is actually providing.

In your world of government monopoly, do you think it would be easier or harder for me to have working and affordable un-metered broadband at my property?

Because while I had to build it my damn self, at least I was able/allowed to build it my damn self.

I buy my electricity and water from county-level rural cooperatives. It is clear that local, small scale operations can do an effective job of providing good services. I am amenable to the idea that perhaps last-mile infrastructure could be common carrier and community owned/operated.

I am a bit more hesitant to say that I want my choices dictated entirely by the machinery of government. I am currently in that situation and it is unpleasant.

about a month ago

President Obama Backs Regulation of Broadband As a Utility

bmajik Re:Why would anyone support this? (706 comments)

You should read this paper very carefully:


Also, Somalia currently has the cheapest and best cell phone service in Africa.

The "move to Somalia" argument is a pretty standard trope when having conversations about the proper size and scope of government. Of course, there are lots of reasons why overweight white software engineers from America wouldn't necessarily thrive in Somalia irrespective of what kind of government it did or didn't have, but that doesn't really seem to diminish how often the trope is pulled out, so let's try something else -- you know, actual data.

Rather than repeating an unsubstantiated bias, I encourage you to read the paper I linked.

I'll spoil it a little bit: The conclusion, of course, isn't that all governments are bad (that's a philosophical conjecture, not a testable hypothesis). It is, however, quite apparent that some governments are so bad that no government is actually preferable.

This is actually the case in Somalia.

Somalia may at some point transition to a government that is objectively better than their current situation, but their current arrangement is, as the paper argues, objectively better than their previously governed condition.

about a month ago

Stan Lee Media and Disney Battle For Ownership of Marvel Characters

bmajik Re:Background material: (152 comments)

The person in question was ultimately extradited to the US and convicted. The point was that the company turned shady very quickly.

about 2 months ago

Stan Lee Media and Disney Battle For Ownership of Marvel Characters

bmajik Background material: (152 comments)


Short Version: Stan Lee has had nothing to do with SLM for over a decade - since his former friend and co-founder fled to South America to avoid federal securities fraud prosecution.

SLM is currently a few leeches who have nothing to do with the comics industry are trying to sink their claws into the profits of the creative class.

I understand that creative people need money to work, and the entities that front that money are due a return on their investment.

That's not what's going on here.

about 2 months ago

Elon Musk Warns Against Unleashing Artificial Intelligence "Demon"

bmajik Re:So.... (583 comments)

I don't think people like Elon musk worry about being out of a job.

Industrial robots didn't unbolt themselves from the factory floors and go and kill the people that wanted to turn them off.

Because they couldn't. Because they couldn't have their own wills at all.

Mr. Musk is advising us to NOT create the kind of robots that could.

about 2 months ago

NPR: '80s Ads Are Responsible For the Lack of Women Coders

bmajik Re:Can we stop trying to come up with a reason? (786 comments)

That's not true, and you know it.

You avoided the question of where the goal posts are.

How have you determined that there is a problem?

When will you be convinced that the problem has been addressed?

about 2 months ago

NPR: '80s Ads Are Responsible For the Lack of Women Coders

bmajik Re:Can we stop trying to come up with a reason? (786 comments)

Actually, what I want people to come away with is that they should stop assuming equality of outcomes.

When there is evidence of negative behaviors causing undesirable outcomes in specific instances, acting to rememdy that is of course a reasonable thing to do.

My point is just that we should be specific and honest about the goal posts. If your goal post is "women should be represented at 50% within profession blah", that is a claim that requires a lot of unpacking and justification. We should automatically reject claims like this until sufficient argument and evidence is presented.

We shouldn't automatically expect a 50/50 split -- if for no other reason than because men and women are biologically different.

So if the claim is that some women who wish to be programmers aren't doing so because of undesirable social factor X, how do you know when you've "succeeded" ?

Is it when no more women complain? Is it when the gender ratio in the industry is 50/50? 55/45? 45/55?

And, to open an entirely different can of worms -- why is helping women get the job they want supposed to be anyone else's problem?

Or, suppose that there was a _social cost_ or an economic cost to achieving an (X/100-X) gender ratio in a specific industry? How would you decide if that cost was worth paying? Why is it your decision?

about 2 months ago

NPR: '80s Ads Are Responsible For the Lack of Women Coders

bmajik Re:Can we stop trying to come up with a reason? (786 comments)

Well, I'd say "fewer men should die" if I were going to make that statement.

It turns out, actually, that certain jobs are dangerous and unpleasant, and men seem to self-select for these jobs more often than do females.

There are a number of interesting possible explanations for this, but none of them are terribly surprising unless you've thought for most of your conscious life that the two genders are truly and completely identical, and any differences are only the result of social conditioning.

Of course, this is absurd.

Biologically, men are expendable and women are not. Biologically, the humans of today come from a narrower range of paternal ancestors, because human breeding was selective. Men who had power, prowess, ambition, and ruthlessness passed on their genes AND shaped the socities that men and women lived in.

In considering distributions of male size, strength, intelligence, and so on, the distributions are wider than when considering females. The smartest men appear to be much smarter than the smartest women; the dumbest men appear to be much dumber than the dumbest women.

Males simply have higher expressed variability.

Men need less sleep than women; men are not as attuned to empathy as are women; men engage in much riskier behavior than do women, and their neural reward and risk center works differently than it does in women.

You can continue to pretend that gender is a social construct, or that male and female distributions and outcomes should be identical, but here on the real world, they aren't and they won't be.

In the event that any public entity (e.g. a government) has a policy that would prevent an individual woman from doing some job merely on account of her being a woman, we should repeal that policy.

In the event that any private entity (e.g. a business) has a policy that would prevent an individual woman from doing some job merely on account of her being a woman, we should think that business owner is a jerk.

Individuals in a free society should be free to do as they like.

But what we should stop assuming is that men and women are interchangeable and will have broadly identical social preferences and outcomes.

They won't, and that's not because anything is standing in their way. They're just different.

By Nature.

about a month ago

NPR: '80s Ads Are Responsible For the Lack of Women Coders

bmajik Re:Can we stop trying to come up with a reason? (786 comments)

In your view, is it a problem that men are nearly 10x as likely as women to die on the job?

What systemic factors should we address so that the number of women dying in mine cave-ins rises to equal the number of men?

Oh, this isn't a priority for you? Why not?

about a month ago

Ask Slashdot: LTE Hotspot As Sole Cellular Connection?

bmajik Re:Don't (107 comments)

Good approach.

The difficulty with the Verizon hotspot is that it has an internal battery. It is designed to be used when not plugged in.

To power cycle it you have to unplug the wall-wart, then use the power button to power cycle it, then plug it back in.

Simply cutting power doesn't help :(

about a month ago

Ask Slashdot: LTE Hotspot As Sole Cellular Connection?

bmajik Re:Don't (107 comments)

Dial-up is functionally unusable in 2014. Hitting facebook.com pulls down several MB of data just to draw the page, load the JS, etc.

That said, my home phone line is so noisy even the phone company asks me if it always sounds so bad. They're not sure why the line is noisy. It just is. I don't think I'd be able to sustain a 56k connection.

Satellite also has monthly xfer limits -- that are much lower than Verizon. Most people that have had Satellite switch to LTE and don't switch back.

There is a WISP in the area but he is very busy, isn't very reliable, (e.g. blows off appointments, doesn't answer emails) and his tower is pretty far away and several forests block LOS between my place and his tower. To have any chance of using his tower I'd need to do some significant work -- more than I am doing to actually do my own custom backhaul.

Customers of his have told me that they have a few days of downtime a year while he has to go climb a tower and re-aim something. It sounds very shoe-stringy to me.

about 2 months ago

Ask Slashdot: LTE Hotspot As Sole Cellular Connection?

bmajik Re:Don't (107 comments)

Thanks. I've looked into the cradlepoint stuff a bit and if I thought I was permanently stuck with VZN, I would make additional hardware investments along those lines.

That said, even if it was perfectly reliable, my "plan" gives me 20GB of data a month for a family of 5, and I blow through that limit many months, and that involves no online gaming and no video streaming -- both things I used to enjoy doing.

So, I need to get an unmetered connection again, even if I could make the LTE connection perfectly reliable.

about 2 months ago

Ask Slashdot: LTE Hotspot As Sole Cellular Connection?

bmajik Don't (107 comments)

I've had a Verizon 4G LTE hotspot as my sole home internet for the last year. It is the only type of service available where I currently live.

It is expensive and unreliable.

I live in a rural area. I am using an external LTE antenna on the device. I can see that the LTE signal is moderate to good where I am; the problems I am having do not seem to be LTE signal related.

The device itself is about as reliable as other consumer level networking gear -- meaning you need to power cycle it now and then to make it start working again. It has a remote web admin interface, with no way to remotely reboot it. You have to physically touch the thing to power cycle it.

I don't know what's available where you are, but here, Verizon charges me for every byte that goes through that LTE connection, in both directions. I think they're overcharging me, but I have no realistic power to do anything about that, because they are Verizon and I am not. Overages are excessively expensive. My bill for last month was $250. We watch no streaming videos at my house -- not even youtube.

The device stops responding to pings from certain nodes on my internal network, causing all kinds of networking fun. DNS queries randomly fail during logical browsing sessions. I've investigated all of this thoroughly with tcpdump and other tools. This happens on clients of multiple types - OSX, WinRT, Windows, OpenBSD.

So near as I can tell, the box itself is just shit. There have been 2 or 3 firmware updates for it in the year that I've depended on it for my internet. None of them have improved the symptoms I describe.

It's a Pantech MHS291LVW

The entire time I've had it, I've been researching how to replace it with something that isn't Verizon. I'm nearly done with that plan; I'll be backhauling a nearby DSL service back to my site using a 3.5 mile p2p wireless link. I'm paying to upgrade the site infrastructure and wiring at both ends of the link. I am spending thousands of dollars to do this.

My neighbors also have Verizon LTE service. They have the VZN Home Broadband service, where Verizon will mount an antenna at your site and do the install themselves, and the CPE has 4 switched Ethernet ports in addition to WiFi. They haven't complained about the reliability as much, but the price is still too high.

You can only get that hardware from Verizon in my area if you agree to a 3 year contract. I didn't and won't ever agree to any contract with any US mobile operator, so, I couldn't get the VZN home broadband hardware, which may be more reliable than the Hotspot hardware.

They are not power users; they are a young family with ipads for their kids. They recently shared with me that they just had an $800 monthly bill.

If you have any wired broadband choice available to you, take it.

about 2 months ago

In UK, Internet Trolls Could Face Two Years In Jail

bmajik Re:Trolls are the lowest form of life. . . (489 comments)

I figure that trolling is one of the reasons for the US's 1st amendment.

Speech that upsets somebody for some reason is the only kind that somebody is going to try and restrict.

If you're not upsetting somebody, you're doing life wrong.

The UK is a lost country. It's a shame.

about 2 months ago

No More Lee-Enfield: Canada's Rangers To Get a Tech Upgrade

bmajik Re:May I suggest RTFA? (334 comments)

Disclaimer: I have no Enfield experience.

It turns out that patent encumberance isn't the only thing that makes something difficult to make.

Many older weapon designs were optimized for low volume manufacturing by skilled machinists, and required hand fitting by gunsmiths and armorers. That made sense when human labor was cheap and skilled.

The Garand and M14 receivers, for instance, are very complicated to build. The 1911 is also a much loved design, but most 1911s are either built to loose tolerances or require custom, per-example fitting.

Comparatively, the AKM receiver is bent sheet metal. Any workshop that can do basic metal work can build an AKM; the barrel is the only specialized part.

The M4/AR15/M16/AR10 family of receivers were designed post-aerospace industry, and are made to be mass produced by machining down aluminum forgings. I know multiple people who have completed their own AR15 receivers on CNC equipment.

The SIG handguns manufactured in the USA are taken from billet to serial number in a single machining center; no operator intervention required.

It turns out that it can be very difficult to re-create old things. Often, the original tooling is missing. The techniques used may no longer be taught nor widely practiced.

Comparatively, building a modern mass produced firearm is a matter of having the right CAD files.

about 2 months ago



Thousands of sites desroyed via HyperVM 0-day

bmajik bmajik writes  |  more than 5 years ago

bmajik writes "Sunday, A2B2, who runs VAServ and fsckvps had many of its customer Virtual Private Server (VPS) objects compromised and suffered widespread data loss. The exploit appears to have been based on the HyperVM / kloxo VPS management software that they used. On June 4, a massive list of bugs in kloxo was posted publicly, after what appears to be an attempt at responsible disclosure which met with total disinterest from the vendor, LXlabs. As the VPS management software allows commands to be run on each virtual guest, hundreds if not thousands of customer VPSs have had partial or complete data loss. Note that this was a fully-patched HyperVM installation. Anyone using HyperVM or kloxo is strongly encouraged to disable that software immediately. The crackers in question appear to be with a Chinese group called fag0.cn and have no clear motive apart from causing destruction. There is a long thread on webhostingtalk.com discussing the issue."
Link to Original Source

Microsoft's Interop Announcement

bmajik bmajik writes  |  more than 5 years ago

bmajik writes "Microsoft is making a big deal about its new interoperability initiative. The announcement of "principles" include data portability, increased support for standard data file formats, open protocols, open API access, and a list of which MS patents apply to which protocols, and the terms under which those patents may be licensed. Additionally, the announcement includes a covenenant not to sue creators and users of F/OSS software who make use of these open protocols. What do people make of this announcement? Does it change things?"



More reflections on geek relationships

bmajik bmajik writes  |  more than 4 years ago

This post got a lot of points and apparently a lot of traffic interest. An A.C. suggested that it was the first post they'd ever seen that should have been modded "+100", and _their_ post got modded up.

So now that I've gotten lots of people to read and think about what I wrote, and many who liked it, I'm going to diagree with part of it.

I think I was perhaps being too hard on AMD lady, and perhaps I was missing the focus of what she was talking about. My post deals a lot with _maintaining_ relationships and building them. But I think TFA was referring to _meeting_ geeks.. "catching" them if you will. And my post is potentially not relevant as a response to TFA.

There are some key points that I think still stand, but one thing that I want to revise or comment on a bit is when a woman takes an interest. The 1-liners or plausible topics of conversation postulated by the AMD lady didn't hit me because I am not that interested in PC video cards any more. So in the context of an advice blog to women about how to approach some easily-fits-in-a-box hypothetical geek, I rejected not only the premise but the specific lines used.

But then I got to thinking about my own history, and I remember a specifc time where I was at wedding reception or "couples baby shower" or some similar thing, and there was another woman there who had a real interest in cars and spirited driving. And so we chatted just breifly about it...I think she had heard that I was a car guy and so she approached me to talk about it.

Later that night I had to admit to my wife that it was troubling me just how _haunted_ I was with thoughts of this gal, because she approached me about an interest of mine, essentially out of nowhere, and it is an interest that women typically don't share -- certainly my wife doesn't. And so even though I was happily married, my thoughts that day kept returning to this woman. It was a few minutes of conversation and it was at least 8 years ago. Yet i still remember the experience and how i felt about it.

So there is certainly something to the idea of "snaring" a guy by letting him know you share his interests. I think the parts of my post that suggest you need to be authentic, legitimately interested, and so on all still apply. But I wouldn't want someone to read what I had written and come away with the idea that approaching a guy about his interests would be detrimental.

(As an aside, a great friend of mine, who is also a go-fast junkie, ended up having a very serious relationship with a younger girl who was _also_ a driver. And it turned ugly. Sometimes, shared passions/interests/hobbies make better introductions than they do compatible mates. I bet there is some interesting literature on competitiveness/etc dynamics within relationships where each party has some similar jobs/hobbies/interests/whatever).


What do you do with hardware you can't give up?

bmajik bmajik writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Growing up, I was a big fan of workstation class machines. This persisted all through highschool and college, and for a while, a bit afterwards.

For instance, I left highschool with a Sparc IPX and a Sparc 10, but no car. Goofy priorities, I guess. When I was in school I picked up an SGI I^2 High Impact. I outfitted my SS10 with dual SunVideo cards, a dual-proc upgrade, a couple different framebuffers (TGX, ZX, etc).

The Math Department of my school auctioned its entire remaining inventory of NeXT workstations -- which I bought in its entirety. In addition, I picked up a color Turbo, an NCD X-Terminal, a few VT100 clones, etc.

Now, I've moved a lot since then. I sold my SS IPX to get some other hardware. I gave my SGI machine to a friend that had never used SGIs or IRIX before. I sold my Color Turbo to a guy who might make better use of it. The X-term ended up with a friend I think.

I divested half of my NeXT lab -- including the monitors -- to people that wanted to play with them. I have 3 non-functioning 030 cubes left, and with a sheet of plain glass, they make up one of my coffee tables. I also have my SS10, which I cannot let myself get rid of because of all the money I dumped into it.

I've made my peace with using the remaining NeXT cubes as furnture. I'm not sure what to do with the SS10 - it uses a lot of power, it's very loud, and I can't think of much interesting to do with it. It's utterly worthless on ebay.

I think I still have my Apple ][+ somewhere. It's the machine I learned to program on.... :)

What do you do with old computers that are "special", but that you don't have a computing need for?


The standard argument against an ABM know-it-all

bmajik bmajik writes  |  more than 9 years ago

I read a lot of funny comments about "MS should do this", "MS is stupid", "those people are idiots", "this is the obvious thing to do", etc.

Here's my standard response:

1) We (MS employees) don't know everything

2) Some of us are pretty smart

3) If the "obvious" answer you are parrating were both obvious _and_ satisfactory, wouldn't some of the smart people already have suggested it?

3a)We can safely conclude that your answer is either
3a-1) novel and non-obvious
3a-2) utterly unworkable for reasons that you may never know
3a-3) unattractive for a variety of reasons, which, again, you may never know

4) In the event you can fix whatever large problem you're describing about microsoft (from the tone of your post, it seems that you think you can, i.e. you make a lot of really basic suggestions (which further suggests that we're idiots for not doing the obvious things you point out), please, please come work for us. We want more smart people. We want people that can solve all of the problems we have. If you could solve just the _one_ problem you described to the satisfaction of all relevant parties, and then accomplish nothing else, we'd pay you any realistic amount of money you'd want. Seriously. I don't have the pull to authorize that sort of thing, but Bill and Steve have personally hired people straight out of college.

We suck, you know it, and in just a few sentences you've described completely how to fix it. Problem is, if your suggestions had never occured to us to begin with, what are the odds that you telling us is all the help we need ? It's downright inhumane of you to not help us get better by coming to work for us and showing all of us how wrong we've been and how we've been missing it the whole time.

The ball is squarely in your court.


welcome to the midwest

bmajik bmajik writes  |  more than 10 years ago

moving from redmond to uh.. North dakota is a bit of a change :)

See, I bought an old BMW a few years back because I liked the first one I had in college. (i bought that one because it was cheap and fast)I bought my wife a VW because almost nobody makes station wagons with a manual gearbox besides VW. And When i moved out here i needed a winter car, so i bought an old used Audi.

So, thats 3 german cars. My wife and I contribute roughly 50% of the imported car market for ND, as near as I can tell.

Who buys all these craptacular american cars that are usually fleet vehicles or rental cars in the rest of the world ? I mean, Civics and Camry's aren't even common out here - those are cheaper AND more reliable than this junk..

Also, if you live in a place that is regularly below freezing, and gets lots of snow.. please buy snow tires for your lame pickup truck. That way you wont spin your rear tires all the way across the intersection at 2mph.

One nice thing though. The house we just bought out here cost us half of what our house in Redmond cost. Screw property prices out there. It's just ridiculous.


friends, foes, freaks, fans

bmajik bmajik writes  |  more than 11 years ago

want to see something funny ? look at the "fans" info for "John Carmack". His fans list could be like an HTML renderer perf benchmark :)

Now look at John's "Friends"

Now, look at John's "Freaks". Who are these people that insist they hate John Carmack ? Why would you hate John Carmack ?


If you read this..

bmajik bmajik writes  |  more than 12 years ago

Reply with the following info:

What made you look at my user info page ?

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