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FTC Sues AT&T For Throttling 'Unlimited' Data Plan Customers Up To 90%

rbrander All based on a false-to-fact payment model (173 comments)

The *expenses* that any utility has providing services fall into three broad categories:

1) One time costs of putting in infrastructure - or at least they appear one-time for any human lifetime, as lots of pipes (and even copper phone wires from the 30s) outlast people. But everything needs replaced eventually on some "lifecyle" of 20-120 years. These costs are handled by large banks loaning money over long periods so that it becomes a yearly cost that can be broken down per subscriber, or reasonably apportioned to subscribers by usage category (you vs Netflix, they pay thousands of times more).

2) Yearly fixed costs. They have to employ X guys to keep the lines strung through snowstorms, whether your line falls or not. Again, this breaks down to a monthly bill per subscriber and regulators can routinely agree how much you vs netflix pays, based on whether your "category" is 1-500 GB/month or 500-5000 or >5000.

3) Costs that are exactly proportional to usage. The actual cost of water per gallon, once all the pipes and plants are paid for; the actual cost of electricity per kWh, after all wires are bought and maintained. And there can be complexities here with utilities that have "rush hours" where using power when they're maxed reequires buying more expensive power - these can be addressed with "peak time surcharges" if needed.

With power especially, these are routinely broken out so that you don't pay $0.11 per kWh - you pay $20/month plus $0.07 per kWh. That's only fair. Any kind of pro-rating means some subscribers subsidize others.

With internet, every single ISP tries to blend all their costs into one monthly charge, and so you have $50/month and $80/month and $120/month "plans" with caps. It's all hogwash. THere should be ONE formula. And from the Netflix corporate filings, we know the Big Secret: data in bulk is now transmitted for barely 2 cents per GB.

So, your $50 plan should be a $48 plan, plus a nickel per GB - that's still giving them a vast profit per GB transmitted, but nobody will care as few use more than 100GB per month.

If they were regulated into breaking out fixed costs vs per-GB costs, all this crap with "data caps" and throttling would go away. No caps, because you pay per GB and they want you to buy more. No throttling for the same reason.

Even DISCUSSING the notion of a "cap" or a "throttling" is buying into their model of pricing, which is good for them and not for you. Don't do it.

2 days ago
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Will Fiber-To-the-Home Create a New Digital Divide?

rbrander Re:Why South Korea and Japan can do it and USA can (291 comments)

What the other replies said to this guy about average vs local density is perfectly correct. But even in low density areas, this is STRICTLY an upfront capital issue. Only the original install costs much more. The increased service delivery cost once you have the larger amount of fiber per customer installed is barely worth discussing except for the accountants who finally figure out that the US suburbs should be paying 1.87 cents per GB rather than 1.74...it would be those kinds of numbers.

The article says it plainly: in dense apartment areas, $280 per install; US housing, $2200. But really, what's $2200? A one-time investment that pays off over what, 40 years? The copper lines to my house date to 1954, the TV cable to 1973. The asset lifespan exceeds the 40 year max that even a large utility can get to pay down an investment. So even with interest (which these days is tiny, by the way, but lets use 4%), it's about $100/year added to your bill to pay off your install, unless you want to pay up front.

God, it's such a crap argument in so many ways - so unworthy of a nation that was among the first to bring in electricity and then phone and then cable, the last especially to provide so much less utility (57 channels and nuthin' on...) than Internet...but it comes up every time. That 57 channel TV cable was DONE, jack, between about 1970 when I first heard talk of it, and 1980 when everybody had switched to it. Here we are 20 years after everybody started wanting on the Internet, and virtually no new lines strung, they're still using the 1930s phone wires and the 1970s TV cables that were already paid for...but charging you like they had.

The people making these excuses for them are among the robbed, and they should just stop.

about a week ago
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Ask Slashdot: Good Hosting Service For a Parody Site?

rbrander The ISP that supported Boing Boing over a notice (115 comments)

From the story about "Ralph Lauren Opens a Store in the Uncanny Valley":

However, Ralph Lauren's marketing arm and its law firm don't see it that way. According to them, this is an "infringing image," and they thoughtfully took the time to send a DMCA takedown notice to our awesome ISP, Canada's Priority Colo. One of the things that makes Priority Colo so awesome is that they don't automatically act on DMCA takedowns. Instead, they pass them on to us and we talk about whether they pass the giggle-test.

This one doesn't.

about two weeks ago
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Pentagon Reportedly Hushed Up Chemical Weapons Finds In Iraq

rbrander Re:So confused (376 comments)

"The war resumed". Ah, the old "1441 excuse" that the war was authorized by the security council under 1441 a dozen-odd years earlier. Except Powell attempted to make the case about WMDs before the security council and was turned down. That *invalidates* the 1441 excuse, as a later ruling supercedes the earlier. You don't get to say, "well, there's no evidence but we know in our hearts there's WMDs" on your own.
So the "war" (UN police action) did *not* resume with a coalition of 35 nations with authorization. It was just a unilateral decision to invade.
It's fashionable to ignore the UN as a worthless/toothless/corrupt/your-insult-here, but you can't actually ignore that there's a treaty (the UN Charter is a treaty) that's US law under the constitution, and signers agreed not to cross other nation's borders with force without security council authorization...that's actually the article under which the whole 1441 resolution was based! Saddam was held to it by 35 nations.

about two weeks ago
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Positive Ebola Test In Second Texas Health Worker

rbrander Re:But flights from West Africa are OK? (463 comments)

"One of the best?" Meaning, there's a good hospital or two there somewhere that they send you if you have some rare cancer? Great. But the fact is, Texas is 33rd in health spending out of 50. They've cut and cut and cut. The US has on a national basis, mostly in the last 10 years, but red states of course more than most.

about two weeks ago
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Wind Power Is Cheaper Than Coal, Leaked Report Shows

rbrander Re:Too bad... (610 comments)

> the costs of actual treatment but thats already paid by taxes. ...which does not make the overall cost to society zero. Indeed, that's the point of studies like these, to add in the costs on which the one alternative is free-riding. Medical costs like that, and yes, environmental costs...which can be clearly established in many cases, particularly coal-mining. Examination of dropping property values near mining sites is just the clearest one.

about two weeks ago
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Bill Gates Wants To Remake the Way History Is Taught. Should We Let Him?

rbrander Re:So long as it is consential (363 comments)

Please don't apply that belief to ASTM standards for wiring. Poor states would have 50 house fires per day.

It's funny, nobody suggests applying "local standards" to other professions. Yes, each state may have their own certification for accountants and engineers and so on, but the *standards and practices* are much more widespread. Nobody shops around for the doctor that meets local standards for appendectomies.

I don't crap on people who believe this stuff, but MY private belief is that they want to ensure that money from wealthier school districts never leaks over into poorer ones.

about 2 months ago
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Oregon Sues Oracle For "Abysmal" Healthcare Website

rbrander Re:Because they could't sue the Government (212 comments)

I've got a hunch you typed that statement by hitting these keys:

F1 in Congress that passed the law to begin with.

about 2 months ago
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Is Storage Necessary For Renewable Energy?

rbrander Re:Expert?? (442 comments)

No, not Heinlein. Very old joke, it may even pre-date Heinlein.

about 2 months ago
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The Benefits of Inequality

rbrander Gwynne Dyer went over this in a column (254 comments)

...about how the West is not really special about democracy:

http://www.straight.com/news/g...

Writing about your original, even pre-homo-sapiens hunter-gatherer groups, who had democracy since we had language:

They were all very little societies: rarely more than 50 adults (who had all known one another all their lives). On the rare occasions when they had to make a major decision, they would actually sit around and debate it until they reached a consensus. Direct democracy, if you like.

People have been running their affairs that way ever since we developed language, which was almost certainly before we were even anatomically modern human beings. So 99.9 percent of our history, say. That is who we are, and how we prefer to behave unless some enormous obstacle gets in our way.

The enormous obstacle was civilization. All hunting-and-gathering societies were essentially egalitarian. The mass societies that we call civilizations arose less than 10,000 years ago, thanks to the invention of agriculture. Until very recently all of them, without exception, were tyrannies, pyramids of power and privilege in which the few decided and the many obeyed. What happened?

A mass society, thousands, then millions strong, confers immense advantages on its members. Within a few thousand years the little hunting-and-gathering groups were pushed out of the good lands everywhere. By the time the first anthropologists appeared to study them, they were on their last legs, and none now survive in their original form. But we know why the societies that replaced them were all tyrannies.

The mass societies had many more decisions to make, and no way of making them in the old, egalitarian way. Their huge numbers made any attempt at discussing the question as equals impossible, so the only ones that survived and flourished were the ones that became brutal hierarchies. Tyranny was the solution to what was essentially a communications problem.

...and notes that tyrannies have been going downward ever since printing, much less twitter.

about 3 months ago
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The Benefits of Inequality

rbrander Re:Can't leave (254 comments)

That's what I loved about Heinlein. One time he'd write that, the next time, 'The Moon is a Harsh Mistress', which is very libertarian. He just posited that the Moon exiles would all just get along and not form into bloods and crips. He really loved thought experiments even when he clearly knew they contained a big assumption; shame so many mistook things like "Starship Troopers" as his serious proposal for government. He wrote a whole essay once about all the other fun ways to restrict franchise: "Why not just \women? Men had their day. Or better yet, why not just mothers? The only humans with an inarguable stake in the future." (quote is approximate.)

about 3 months ago
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William Binney: NSA Records and Stores 80% of All US Audio Calls

rbrander Re:Uh (278 comments)

Keeping in mind they can't possibly have humans listening to all that, the only way to flag human-worthy content is voice recognition and transcription to plain text files. If you keep voice only on the 0.1% that are "likely" to be interesting, and simply voice-recognize the rest after a month and compress the plain text, the storage problem drops by orders of magnitude.

about 4 months ago
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OpenSSL To Undergo Security Audit, Gets Cash For 2 Developers

rbrander "Audit"? Try massive rewrite. (132 comments)

The comments from the folks who started LibreSSL at a meeting of the Calgary Unix Users Group the other night were beyond scathing. Bob Beck's first slide shows Laura Dern in Jurassic Park, up to her elbows in stegasaurus dung, as a metaphor for what the first skim of the code felt like. It's a hopelessly overpatched mess of spaghetti code and #IFNDEF mazes that nobody can really maintain. Their fork has already tossed out tens of thousands of lines of code and started again. (Another slide shows the line from Aliens: "Nuke it from orbit. It's the only way to be sure").

If not a from-scratch rewrite, think of a home reno where you have to strip it to the frame and put up new drywalls.
And this situation was allowed to grow by the current bunch that manage OpenSSL; they're only doing this at all because one of the hundreds of time-bombs in the code finally went off, and anybody who's looked it knows how many hundreds more there are. For shame.

There's a link to the slides from the libressl.org site, which is very minimal, as they say "We're too busy deleting code to make web pages".

It was just a very sobering presentation. To think we let so much depend on a pile of cruft.

about 5 months ago
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Declining LG's New Ad-friendly Privacy Policy Removes Features From Smart TVs

rbrander Accept no computer you don't control (221 comments)

I was glad to grab my LG TV - because it was the last one at Best Buy that wasn't a "smart" TV, no internet connectivity at all. Just a monitor.

I really hate my $129 media player that adds 20 new for-pay services every time it updates....also LG, but I am so getting rid of it when I pull the $ together for a little computer I'll build on FLOSS from scratch, and that'll be the only thing with any smarts in my media life. Not a privacy fanatic, but it all just makes me uncomfortable and suspicious.

about 5 months ago
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Declining LG's New Ad-friendly Privacy Policy Removes Features From Smart TVs

rbrander Re:LG in decline? (221 comments)

With a little luck they'll be called "the declining LG" ever after.

about 5 months ago
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Australian Exploration Company Believes It May Have Found MH370 Wreckage

rbrander Re:Does it make me a bad person... (293 comments)

That's not consistent with the statement (not one you made; your post is internally consistent) that "America is a center-right nation" - a statement that gets broad agreement from all news outlets, I think. Certainly Fox reminds its viewers of that fact (or claim) whenever the R party has a bad day at the polls, and you can find the sentiment in CNN and MSNBC reportage (and many papers) as well.

If America is a "centre-right nation" - certainly it has a Gini number (measure of inequality) out of step with the rest of the developed West, a military budget that stands out as way different, and tax structures on high incomes that are different -- then reportage that most American news outlets would describe as "left leaning" would be "dead centre" in (almost all) other Western developed nations....which have a total population comfortably in excess of America's.

I mention other nations because the original post praised the BBC; this also clarifies the one respondent's complaint that the BBC is hardly "left leaning" but takes pains to be neutral. (I *can* get BBC here in Canada, where I would also say that the CBC, CTV, and Global networks here would all be described as "left leaning coverage" by most Americans...but we don't see it that way. I saw Paul Krugman worked over politely but very critically by a panel of three commentators on the BBC, who were all pretty skeptical of his negative views on Austerity; he gave as good as he got, but nobody would call it a lefty spin session.)

And I have to add that the almost universally recognized as "right-leaning" channel, Fox News, describes itself, not as right-leaning, but as Fair and Balanced - with pretty explicit statements by many of their staff that ALL other outlets are left-leaning so they have to step in an provide a truly factual, neutral viewpoint to serve the public better...but in a few cases (Jon Stewart I think?) their staff have been gotcha'd in conversation stating that they really are quite right-leaning...as a necessary counter-balance, of course, to all that leftism on every other channel.

Some other posters here seem to be attempting a discrimination between "leaning" as in editorial statements and as in their choice of WHAT topics to cover, purely factually. That is, you can be strictly factual about stories of "voter fraud" or "racist comments by old white men", while giving what many would call extreme amounts of airtime to a given topic, given its impact on the world.

I'm sure many would call me "left leaning" for stating my opinion that the "Democracy Now" program by Amy Goodman et all is pretty good at sticking to facts - it's their list of topic choices that differs from most other media. It's hard to call the Annenberg School for Communications a biased source, they're very highly respected (and the Annenberg's were the Reagan's best friends), and their dean remarked: "She's not an editorialist. She sticks to the facts... She provides points of view that make you think, and she comes at it by saying: 'Who are we not hearing from in the traditional media?"

I would say that BOTH editorial positions and choice of topics are both ways to lean; and indeed the news-topic way of leaning is more insidious than outright opinion, because people have their guard up more when opinion is clearly rather than implicitly the source of the content.

about 6 months ago
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Male Scent Molecules May Be Compromising Biomedical Research

rbrander Male odor could explain a lot (274 comments)

...like why women don't enter scientific fields...

about 6 months ago
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White House Worried About Discrimination Through Analytics

rbrander Re:Crossing a Line is Easy for Some (231 comments)

You mean like Afghans who sold out rivals (often relatives) to the USA, to become some of the longest-serving Guantanamo captives? Yeah, that happens. Has for centuries in any regime that takes people away upon suspicion. That's what's wrong, not the information-gathering system; why you don't circumvent the protections of due process. I'm not sure what's new about this particular complaint system.

about 6 months ago

Submissions

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NSA building yottabyte data centre

rbrander rbrander writes  |  more than 3 years ago

rbrander writes "James Bamford, author of "The Puzzle Palace" and NSA-watching journalist for many decades, notes in a recent article in Politico that the NSA is building a $2B, 1-million-sq.ft. data centre in Utah expected to eventually hold one "Yottabyte" of data.

In contrast to previous NSA focus on foreigners, the bulk of it will probably be data about Americans."

Link to Original Source
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US Army Unveils New $35,000 "Rifle"

rbrander rbrander writes  |  more than 3 years ago

rbrander (73222) writes "Don't call it a "rifle", call it the "XM25 Counter Defilade Target Engagement System" and get your $35,000 worth. Much more than a projector of high-speed lead, this device hurls small grenades that automatically detonate in mid-flight with 1-metre accuracy over nearly 800m. The vital field feature is the ability to explode 1m behind the wall you just lazed, the one with the enemy hiding behind it."
Link to Original Source
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Israeli army developing robotic snake for recon

rbrander rbrander writes  |  more than 5 years ago

rbrander (73222) writes "The IDF has released a video showing their new development, a robotic snake with a camera for a head. The camo-covered tube can wriggle through the smallest of openings and tunnels to feed back a continuous video to a field laptop."
Link to Original Source
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City of Vancouver, Canada adopts open standards

rbrander rbrander writes  |  more than 5 years ago

rbrander writes "Vancouver, Canada's third-largest city, has adopted a policy of "open standards, interfaces and formats" for all public data. They will also consider open-source software on an even footing with proprietary for all new software purchases. Fifteen of the fifteen people who signed up to speak to city council on the topic spoke in favour. Their only criticism was "can't you do more?" with one advocating that FOSS software be given preference, not equal footing."
Link to Original Source
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US Strong-Armed Canada to Have DMCA

rbrander rbrander writes  |  more than 6 years ago

rbrander (73222) writes "Canadian copyright watchdog Michael Geist has written the story of How the U.S. got its Canadian copyright bill". The arm-twisting was pretty up-front: "Canadian officials arrived ready to talk about a series of economic concerns but were quickly rebuffed by their U.S. counterparts, who indicated that progress on other issues would depend upon action on the copyright file." ... "the USTR...made veiled threats about 'thickening the border' between Canada and the U.S. if Canada refused to put copyright reform on the legislative agenda.""
Link to Original Source
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MPAA chases uploads, ignores open sales of DVD-Rs?

rbrander rbrander writes  |  about 7 years ago

rbrander writes "Go to TVBoxSet.com and find a remarkable sales site for box sets of TV shows — including not only surprisingly cheap deals, but offerings not found elsewhere, such as all ten seasons of "JAG" in a box set, when the production company is only up to season 4 so far. Oddly enough, they are all described as "region free".

Then Google "tvboxset" and find every link below the first is to a complaint or news website complaining of the scam. Add "gazette" to the query and be quickly taken to this story in the Montreal Gazette ...which states that those who do get a product shipped find it to be a DVD-R apparently recorded off the air.

The really odd thing? They're still in business! The Montreal Gazette story is six weeks old. Now what's in it for the content industry to beat up private citizens with $220,000 judgements or scrambling to get DeCSS sites shut down within hours, while corporate scammers openly sell pirate DVDs for months on end, unopposed?"

Link to Original Source

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