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Comments

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Snowden Queries Putin On Live TV Regarding Russian Internet Surveillance

schnell Re:Useful Idiot (353 comments)

US media is controlled primarily by 3 people

Who are these three people?

each work closely with the US government for what to show, when to show it, and how to frame stories

I'm pretty sure that is not true. Do you really think Fox News calls up the White House to ask them how President Obama would like their broadcast today to go? Do you think the Washington Post does?

yesterday
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Bidding At FCC TV Spectrum Auction May Be Restricted For Large Carriers

schnell Re:Government picking favorites (87 comments)

Well, to begin with, if the big players want that bandwidth they'll just buy whoever buys it. Problem solved.

What if Sprint or T-Mobile buy that spectrum? AT&T already tried to buy T-Mobile and was shot down by the DOJ, so it's silly to think that the big two could buy either T-Mo or Sprint in order to get that spectrum. With set-asides, T-Mobile and Sprint are in effect having their cost of doing business being subsidized by taxpayers, which - depending on your view of competition in cellular - may or may not be worth your taxpayer dollar.

yesterday
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Bidding At FCC TV Spectrum Auction May Be Restricted For Large Carriers

schnell Re:Sale or lease? (87 comments)

Why isnt it for lease? Why arent the carriers paying something per year for the use of the spectrum?

Technically, it is a more like a very long term lease rather than a perpetual sale. Ultimately, those frequencies are still under the discretion of the FCC to allocate or revoke subject to certain conditions.

To answer your question about why carriers don't "rent" it annually, it's because there is an ecosystem around those frequencies that require huge multi-year investments. Let's say that you're carrier X and you just bought the rights to the LTE "C Block" frequencies. You need to buy hundreds of millions of dollars worth of LTE equipment that runs is the C Block, site your towers to match the RF propagation characteristics of that particular frequency band, have all your smartphone vendors that you commit to buy XXX millions of units from have their devices support that spectrum block, etc. etc. Every radio band that you add to a piece of tower equipment costs money, and adding additional bands to phones takes up motherboard space and adds extra costs, so on both sides there is a monetary cost to supporting additional spectrum bands.

If you could lose that spectrum next year to another bidder - you have literally spent hundreds of millions of $$$ on equipment and devices that are worthless to you - or, worse - are only worthwhile to customers who will use the network of your competitor who just bought that spectrum. If carriers could not lock up spectrum blocks long term, the uncertainty would mean that they would pay far, far less for it, so the government would extract far less money from them for that spectrum. So "selling" the spectrum under long-term leases means more $$$ for the government vs. trying to "rent" it year-to-year.

yesterday
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Bidding At FCC TV Spectrum Auction May Be Restricted For Large Carriers

schnell Re:at&t wasn't welcome anyway (87 comments)

instead of wannabe monopolists that have spectrum to spare

Here's the problem: the more customers you have, the more spectrum you need. If you have lots of spectrum today and continue to grow, then you will need more tomorrow. If Verizon and AT&T had more and enough to spare, do you think they would be lining up to shell out $X billions of dollars for this instead of improving next quarter's profits? Given Slashdot's consensus that all corporations are obsessed with short term returns, why would the mega-carriers be shelling out huge sums of cash that could otherwise be pocketed by shareholders or executives if they didn't actually need it?

The true situation is that all carriers, big or small, can use more spectrum to increase their LTE spectral efficiencies and decrease cost per bit/customer and increase capacity. It's an interesting quandary for the FCC. AT&T and Verizon can and will pay more for the spectrum to be auctioned. That means US taxpayers get more money, which is what is supposed to happen when the government is selling public airwaves. If the government reserves some of that spectrum for smaller carriers, it fosters competition at the cost of getting paid less for that spectrum than (by market demands) it should have - in effect, subsidizing the operations of these smaller carriers at the expense of taxpayers. Do you as a taxpayer want to in effect provide free profits to Sprint or T-Mobile's shareholders - even if you don't use those carriers - because you think it's good that they are around to provide more competition? That's the fascinating question that makes this debate interesting since it has no objectively correct answer: where is the right balance between taxpayer duty and fostering competition?

yesterday
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Ask Slashdot: What Good Print Media Is Left?

schnell Re:Better question (280 comments)

Then how are you informed about what is happening in technology, in world affairs, in your local area or anything else if there are no good media?

yesterday
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The GNOME Foundation Is Running Out of Money

schnell Re:Funny (686 comments)

This has nothing to do with the Executive Director. I am a board member.

Finally, a commenter who may have some insight... if it wasn't anything to do with the ex-Executive Director, what was the cause or causes? How did things get to where they are today?

4 days ago
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Michael Bloomberg: You Can't Teach a Coal Miner To Code

schnell Re:Right! (578 comments)

A 50 year old coal miner should have been able to see at age 20 that the industry was fragile and in decline

I think there are degrees to this. If you wanted to get into typewriter repair in the 1980s, you were pretty clearly an idiot. But if you were getting into US auto manufacturing in 1965, with a sweet "for life" union job at high wages, at the time that seemed like a really safe bet - with no way to predict where that industry would be just 20 years later, let alone 40 at the end of your career.

If they were the kind of people who had the discipline and motivation to train for other jobs they wouldn't be stuck in the dead end job they have

I think that's a misperception common among white collar workers, that any blue collar job that was phased out was always a "dead end" job. For several decades in the US, there was a reasonable expectation that you could get a job in a steel mill, auto manufacturing plant, coal mine or whatever and you would be paid a living wage that increased ever so slightly each year with your seniority and you would eventually retire with a pension because you never contributed to an actual retirement savings plan. For my parents' generation - as amazing as it sounds to me - this was actually a workable plan for many people. In retrospect: mmanufacturing union wages have been WAY too high, economically speaking, for half a century; and defined benefit pensions have always been more or less a ponzu scheme. So, sadly, it was just a matter of time until those blue collar industries busted and shed their "living wage" blue collar jobs en masse. But, honestly, what high school graduate decades ago was supposed to figure that out when even leading economists hadn't?

It's easy to laugh at the dopes who were the last enrollees at buggy whip manufacturing school after the fact. It's not so easy to see it decades in advance when you were choosing your profession.

about a week ago
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Michael Bloomberg: You Can't Teach a Coal Miner To Code

schnell Re:Right! (578 comments)

The problem is that we have many millions of people with NO useful skills

I think it's a little more accurate to say that we have millions of people with skills that were marketable when they started working but over their career lifetime those skills no longer became useful. I really do feel bad for these people because they didn't do anything "wrong" - the economy shifted under their feet and the profession that they expected to spend their lives in just happened to disappear. Imagine if tomorrow programming or IT became obsoleted - would you really want to start over from scratch in some other industry that you don't understand (or even like), especially if you're an old fogey like me? That's the harsh reality of what people have to do, but it doesn't make it any less painful.

It's also not quite fair to say they are "mostly untrainable" but there is definitely a limited subset of things that you can be retrained for with a high school education and a professional lifetime spent in blue collar jobs. The US economy - like that of most advanced industrial nations - has shifted over the last several decades to outsourcing blue collar jobs and increasingly retaining onshore only "knowledge worker" and white collar roles. And many of these people are not educationally (or potentially mentally) suited to the jobs that are still here, which puts a premium on figuring out "what are the still extant jobs that they can be retrained for?" To Bloomberg's point, that is a hard question and the technology industry is not a panacea.

about a week ago
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Nat Geo Writer: Science Is Running Out of "Great" Things To Discover

schnell Re:Level of public funding ? (291 comments)

If this is all he's got, I wouldn't even call him a science journalist. He's more like an op-ed columnist/author.

John Horgan is not a Fox News flat-earth Jebusite shill, he's an actual science reporter. I don't know the guy personally, but having read his book before, I know he respects and enjoys science. He just has a viewpoint that while "technology" (applied science) has a great runway of decades or centuries in front of it, pure basic research science may have run out of paradigm-shifting fundamental discoveries.

Agree with it or not, I think Horgan is valuable to science (and hence controversial in a good way) because he is not denying science or the scientific method, but instead saying that "science works so well that we have actually answered all the really big questions that we can currently answer." Science requires healthy skepticism, and I think that is what Horgan is providing with his critique not of science itself but of whether its golden days are in the past. Again, agree or disagree, I think it's fare for an interesting intellectual discussion.

about a week ago
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Nat Geo Writer: Science Is Running Out of "Great" Things To Discover

schnell Re:Level of public funding ? (291 comments)

Anyone here think that the computer science revolution is anywhere close to being finished?

Horgan differentiates between "science" and "technology" which is defined as "applied science." Horgan argues that "technology" will continue advancing at a torrid pace for a long time to come. Even things like sustainable fusion reactors would be "technology" rather than "science" since it's an application of the principles of fusion previously discovered. It's his thesis though that pure, fundamental "science" has run out of true game-changing, paradigm-shift type discoveries.

Again, I am not supporting or disclaiming Horgan's thesis, but I am suggesting that it is an interesting topic worthy of discussion.

about a week ago
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Nat Geo Writer: Science Is Running Out of "Great" Things To Discover

schnell Re:Level of public funding ? (291 comments)

I think this might have to do with the level of basic science funding (of course I don"t have any figures to back that)

That's not John Horgan's point. He is, by the way, a very controversial figure in science journalism (in a good way). Back in 1997, he wrote a fascinating book called The End of Science, the thesis of which was pretty much the same as this article. It examined a number of different sciences and reviewed the accumulated evidence that there were no more major league breakthroughs (a la relativity, quantum mechanics, the unraveling of the DNA double helix) to be found, and scientists henceforward would largely be fleshing out and clarifying the implications of the big discoveries of the past.

Scientists of all stripes, of course, immediately decried the book - if that belief gained traction it would kill the climate for future funding as well as killing most interest among future scientists from entering the field. But regardless of your perspective, it was a great book since it raised some interesting questions for discussion, and it's very very worth reading if you have any interest in science.

Long story short, Horgan's thesis isn't "oh noes we aren't funding basic research," it's more along the lines of "there is just nothing as huge to discover left, no matter how much money you pour onto it. That doesn't mean science isn't useful but you have to adjust your expectations not to expect any more great revolutions like have happened regularly from the 17th century through the 20th centuries." Many Slashdotters will reject that argument out of hand, but Horgan has done his homework enough that it's a compelling read and worth considering his point even if you disagree with it.

about a week ago
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Why There Are So Few ISP Start-Ups In the U.S.

schnell Re:Ah, Crony-Capitalism! (223 comments)

Under Bush Jr. and Colin Powell's son appointed to head the FCC this was all rolled back. No more independent telco companies, no more independent ISPs.

Yes and no. There are still plenty of CLEC (Competitive Local Exchange Carriers)/independent ISPs out there. But their prominence has been diminished, partly because of the FCC and partly not.

The bad thing the FCC did was to exempt fiber or cable systems from line-sharing requirements. CLECs were chartered under the idea that "the copper TDM PSTN has been around forever, it's paid off, so the ILECs who maintain that copper infrastructure should have to wholesale it at reasonable rates." But the ILECs and big cable companies said (not unreasonably, BTW), in effect, "well, it will cost us $billions to roll out all-new fiber or coax infrastructure to every customer (a la FiOS) so you can't expect us to wholesale that out to other people because it will make the time for us to recoup the investment so long that we just won't bother." The FCC said, "Okay, we accept that logic, so non-TDM/copper infrastructure doesn't have to be shared." The problem was that you could be competitive as an ISP providing DSL over copper, but once higher-speed cable and fiber Internet service speeds badly outstripped DSL, there was just no market demand for DSL. So the market window for CLECs to provide competitive services if they didn't want to spend the money to roll out their own pipes gradually dried up."

The flip side, though, is that many of those CLECs were bubble companies at best, having been set up to exploit an assumed (in the late '90s, anyway) neverending surge in demand for home phone/fax lines, DSL subscriptions, etc. Many were poorly capitalized bubble-fed "me too" companies that had little chance of long term success ... and furthermore the recent "cord-cutting" trend in favor of mobiles would have killed off most of those guys anyway. There is, by the way, plenty of ability in the US to set up a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) using the cellular carriers' infrastructure and be your own cellular provider, which partly fulfills the CLEC vision.

So it's partly the government, and partly the CLEC/independent ISPs themselves. There are many still around, but usually because they have found a comfortable niche in an underserved geographic area where that business is sustainable instead of, for example, trying to go head to head with Verizon in the big cities.

about two weeks ago
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Federal Bill Would Criminalize Revenge Porn Websites

schnell Re:Freedom of Speech? (328 comments)

you don't actually have to do anything, if you decide something is incompatible with the US Constitution.

Not trying to be obtuse but I don't understand this. If I decide that the Income Tax is incompatible with the constitution, am I no longer liable to pay it?

Very interested because if the answer is "yes" then I need to e-mail my accountant before April 15.

about two weeks ago
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Federal Bill Would Criminalize Revenge Porn Websites

schnell Re:Freedom of Speech? (328 comments)

The problem here has nothing to do with whether or not we should condemn the concept of "revenge" porn, but rather, whether a website should bear liability for content posted by a third party.

Excellent point, but one that has been generally tested in the past under the DMCA "Safe Harbor" provisions. Generally speaking, this issue has only come to light in situations where a website was hosting copyright-infringing content posted by a user. The Safe Harbor provisions basically said "you aren't responsible for manually screening all content on your website, but if a user posts infringing material and the copyright owner sends you a 'DMCA takedown notice' then you must act swiftly to remove it." Obviously this process has been abused badly many times by content owners, but it has been the general model for websites: "you, website owner, aren't liable for user-posted content - but if someone tells you it's illegal, you have to quickly get rid of it."

Revenge porn, however, falls into a different category that necessitates a different legal approach. If you take a nude picture of someone with their knowledge - albeit with their understanding that you would not share it - and you post it online, you as the photographer own the copyright to it. So copyright infringement is no longer the issue, and whether a website has a responsibility to take it down is more of a gray area under current law which is copyright-driven.

I think all this is not aimed at legitimate user content-driven websites that inadvertently host "revenge porn" but rather to the sites that specifically traffic in it. According to some of the stories I have read, the business model of several of these sites basically amounted to blackmail wherein they posted the pics from users for free and hosted banner ads for viewers but most of their cash came from charging the women pictured therein $200+ a pop to remove them.

So while on a philosophical level it poses an interesting "slippery slope" argument, on a practical level I don't think it's aimed at "unknowing infringers" as the DMCA would put it, but rather at the sites which knowingly post it as part of their model and/or sites which are told about it but refuse to take it down. It's a fair argument to say that the implication is bad for its chilling effects, but in real world terms I don't think this is likely to be abused and will actually help real people.

about two weeks ago
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Russian GLONASS Down For 12 Hours

schnell Re:Warning Shot (148 comments)

If you dont think this is intentional then you are nuts

Of course it's intentional but not for the reason you think. The reason that Detroit, Trenton and (at least previously) DC were/are cesspools is because of the evil force known as democracy. The residents of those cities and states voted for crap politicians who drove their respective areas into the ground economically. Nobody from outside imposed Marion Barry or Kwame Kilpatrick onto their cities, and nobody had to nefariously conspire to make them suck, they did that perfectly well on their own. Externalities can hurt a city or state, but to get it into Detroit territory you have to actively keep making it worse on your own - and the residents of those areas have nobody but their own votes to thank for it.

Seriously... not EVERYTHING is a gubmint conspiracy. Sometimes it's just stupid people electing terrible leaders, and that's the downside of democracy that comes along with all the other good stuff. Ask the people of Venezuela how electing people who promise free goodies works out in the long run.

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: Experiences With Free To Air Satellite TV?

schnell Re:Big Ugly Dishes (219 comments)

I think people here (and throughout this thread) are conflating a few different things when they say "free TV." The following explanation is an oversimplification, but anyway...

In the US, back in the '70s and '80s, there was "free" satellite TV. The reason that it was free, though, is that you weren't supposed to have it. Big TV networks, HBO, ESPN, all those guys used analog C-band satellite transmissions to distribute their content to local TV affiliates and early cable TV providers. People discovered that if you bought your own analog C-band dish (the big 6+ footers) you could tap into those transmissions and watch them for free, and a cottage industry sprung up around getting people hooked into this feed. Note that it wasn't like "pay" satellite TV today where you point your dish at one satellite that gives you all the channels you subscribe to - you actually had to point your dish at different satellites to get different content feeds.

The content providers got upset about this and migrated to digital delivery, which could be encrypted. You could still buy de-scrambler gear for your home dish (not so legally) but for most people it was enough of a PITA that they just moved over to a paid cable TV service (whose reaches were growing in leaps and bounds then) or to one of the emerging paid satellite TV services, which sprang up to meet precisely this need. You still have DISH and DirecTV as the two main US paid satellite TV providers today, and they use higher frequencies than C-band (Ku or Ka) which enable those nice little .75m dishes you see everywhere today.

Elsewhere in the world, "Free To Air" TV has always had much more content. In my very limited experience, it's either state-funded TV like the BBC, or it's some other party that buys transponder space on a satellite and says "Okay, here it is for whoever wants to watch it." When travelling internationally I occasionally see ads for FTA TV, but it always seems to be creepy Phillipine megachurches or Al Jazeera wannabes that just can't get their content distributed any other way. Your mileage, of course, may vary.

about two weeks ago
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Are DVDs Inconvenient On Purpose?

schnell Re: tldr (490 comments)

This stuff can't be integrated into the likes of iTunes because of the DMCA

Maybe it's not legal, but I have kept myself happily entertained on many a plane flight by getting a TV season on DVD from Netflix => rip with Handbrake => import to iTunes => attach my iPad to the computer and sync videos. I'm also able to show all those ripped movies/TV shows that I imported to iTunes on my TV via the Apple TV that grabs them seamlessly via iTunes Home Sharing. Very convenient as far as I'm concerned.

about three weeks ago
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AT&T Exec Calls Netflix "Arrogant" For Expecting Net Neutrality

schnell Re:but it *is* a net neutrality issue (466 comments)

In the old, old days (get off my lawn!) if you were a small ISP or web host you would just factor into your cost of doing business that you would buy transit from a Tier 1 ISP (MCI, UUNet, Sprint, AGIS[!]) who would deliver all your traffic to the rest of the Internet.

If you were cheap, you'd buy transit from a Tier 2 or Tier 3 provider who did the same thing - your customers would suffer longer latency but you'd save money. Those Tier 2/3 ISPs were paying the Tier 1s, et cetera, and factored that into their own costs.The Tier 1 ISPs recouped their network investment in part by the fees they collected from direct customers and indirect customers under those Tier 2/3 ISPs. When you moved up in the world, you bought transit from multiple Tier 1 ISPs to cut out the middlemen and get your traffic to the rest of the Internet faster.

Cogent has been trying forever to "jump the line" and get Tier 1 free peering, and it hasn't worked out so well for them. You either peer settlement-free (truly "peer") or you don't, and pay for it. There's no option, unfortunately, for differential payment. (BGP is BGP, and it would take a lot of work to try to DiffServ or partially bill for that.)

Netflix is suffering from the same desire Cogent and legions of Tier 2/3 ISPs have always had - to get free peering. It ain't gonna happen, but the only difference is that Netflix is trying to make this a Net Neutrality argument given their importance in the content consumption ecosystem. I'm not saying they're wrong, but it is a well worn argument that runs counter to the history of the Internet.

about three weeks ago
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AT&T Exec Calls Netflix "Arrogant" For Expecting Net Neutrality

schnell Re:It's not arrogant, it's correct. (466 comments)

why can't providers like Netflix do the same and appeal to the customers directly, show them other options for bandwidth elsewhere (if available), provide numbers of the ISP, etc.?

They certainly could and that's an interesting idea for a model. If ISPs could differentiate themselves on the quality of their Netflix connection, then it would be economically smart for them to do so.

Unfortunately, for the most part in the US "real" competition among broadband ISPs only exists in technologies covered under the 1996 Telecom Act. Under that Act, the incumbent telco is required to provide CLECs fair access for DSL or other copper-based technologies but not for fiber.

That makes some sense given that the telco is incurring a very high cost to build out the infrastructure, dig and put that fiber in, probably $5K+ per household given my somewhat wild guesses. (I recall that figure coming from a Verizon 10K filing a while back detailing why they were cutting back on FiOS rollouts, but I'm too lazy to look it up.) That means it takes an unacceptably long time to pay back at $50/month for Internet access, and far far longer if you are reselling fiber access to other ISPs and only collecting $10/month or so). Cable access is franchised at the city/county level so you only have one option. Satellite Internet provides choice among multiple providers but it's still satellite Internet, so the laws of physics guarantee you crappy latency and the economics of satellite guarantee you a low upload speed.

So I think your idea is great and ISPs differentiating themselves by the quality of content access would be a good market driver. Unfortunately, in the US at least, most consumers can only choose between one cable Internet provider, one fiber provider (if they have that) and multiple DSL over copper providers (which offer far smaller data rates than fiber or cable) - not enough to make the competition meaningful. Google Fiber et. al. may show up to make things more interesting, but honestly any new fiber/broadband run to the home with all-new physical plant is such an expensive proposition that I wouldn't expect to see much penetration anytime soon. Google itself is slow-rolling its Fiber To The Home buildout to select areas where the municipal government is in effect willing to subsidize it (their cross-country dark fiber buildouts do nothing to help the last mile) so that should tell you something about the hard economic realities of the situation.

about three weeks ago
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AT&T Exec Calls Netflix "Arrogant" For Expecting Net Neutrality

schnell Re:It's not arrogant, it's correct. (466 comments)

NetFlix using a Tier 3 provider would resell AT&T, who would charge the Tier 3 provider for bandwidth, which would essentially charge NetFlix for bandwidth

Kinda sorta. Here's the problem which makes the situation a little more nuanced than it appears at first. Think of this more like one of those occasional disputes you see where "DirecTV stops carrying ESPN because ESPN jacked up their rates" or something like that. One side wants to pay less, the other side wants to charge more, and it's tough to easily pick out who the good guys and bad guys are in that kind of situation.

Netflix buys most of their bandwidth from Cogent. Cogent has historically been the Wal-Mart of bandwidth - they sell dirt cheap but scrimp on quality to do it. The Tier 1 ISPs have said to Cogent, in effect, "you are not our peer. You will buy bandwidth from us rather than getting it for free," and Cogent doesn't want to pay. That constrains the bandwidth between Cogent and the Tier 1s (which Cogent is definitely not).

Netflix has only gotten involved because, as Cogent's #1 customer, they are feeling the pinch of Cogent's bandwidth crunch. Remember, Cogent is no stranger to peering disputes. The Tier 1s have said to Netflix, in essence, "we aren't upgrading our bandwidth to Cogent for free, and if you want your customers to have better performance you can connect to us directly instead of going through Cogent. Oh, and by the way, you're a content provider (albeit a huge one) and not our ISP peer so don't expect to get it for free, either."

It may sound like a Net Neutrality issue, but settlement-free peering vs. purchased transit has been a contentious issue since the mid-'90s if not before, and it has always been sorted out among the ISPs rather than being regulated by the government. Peering and its market dynamics have always been one of the most sensitive topics among ISPs, but it has almost always been dealt with inside the industry without exposing its gory details to the public - just like how you rarely hear about those "cableco vs. content network" disputes even though those negotiations are always going on... you only hear about it when the crap really hits the fan.

It's a perpetual issue that pits the Tier 1s vs. the Tier 2/3s, and always will be: the smaller ISPs want free peering of course, and the bigger ones don't want to give it away. The Tier 1s argue that they have to pay for a much larger network infrastructure than the Tier 2/3s so they are in effect subsidizing the networks of the smaller ISPs if they peer for free; the Tier 2/3s argue that they shouldn't have to pay to connect to other networks when the end result is (theoretically) better service for everyone.

It is a dangerous and very slippery slope to cast peering as a "Net Neutrality" issue because it invites the government to stick its nose into a topic that the world's ISPs have quietly managed among themselves for many years. "Settlement-free peering for all" sounds good at first blush but creates a dangerous precedent potentially for content providers to be considered as networks. What if CNN.com decides it doesn't want to pay for bandwidth anymore and wants all the ISPs to peer with it as a network for free? What happens when bobshardwarestoreintuscaloosa.com makes the same request? Where do you draw the line? Why should any business pay for transit bandwidth when it is providing content that users want to see? You could theoretically see the whole cost of the Internet flip onto the consumer ISPs if you follow the model to its furthest conclusion.

Another side note - it's not entirely true that "subscribers pay for their Internet, and content providers pay for their hosting." Larger ISPs factor in the revenue of paid transit to their business model - and they *always* have, since the earliest days of the commercial Internet - so that is in effect subsidizing your home Internet connection. And if that goes away and consumers really do end up paying for all of that Internet connection, that cost will probably be passed on to the consumer, just like when your cable bill goes up because ESPN wants more money for its content.

Not saying either side is entirely right or wrong, but just that it is complicated enough to warrant a deeper view - and not necessarily something you want the government to get involved in "solving."

about three weeks ago

Submissions

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Ask Slashdot: What Online News Is Worth Paying For?

schnell schnell writes  |  about 2 months ago

schnell (163007) writes "The increasing prevalence of online news paywalls and "nag walls" (e.g. you can only read so many articles per month) has forced me to divide those websites into two categories: those that offer content that is unique or good enough to pay for vs. those that don't. Examples of the former for me included The Economist and Foreign Policy, while other previous favorite sites The New York Times and even my hometown Seattle Times have lost my online readership entirely. I also have a secret third category — sites that don't currently pay/nag wall, but I would pay for if I had to — Ars Technica and Long Form come to mind. What news/aggregation sites are other Slashdotters out there willing to pay for, and why? What sites that don't charge today would you pay for if you had to? Or, knowing this crowd, are the majority just opposed to paying for any web news content on principle?"
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It Pays To Be Pretty

schnell schnell writes  |  about 4 months ago

schnell (163007) writes "A new study from the University of Illinois in Chicago has quantified how being physically attractive is correlated with being rated as "intelligent" or "promising" and earning higher pay in the workplace, not just in adulthood but as far back as high school. It may not be as simple as rewarding people who are pretty to look at, as one of the study's authors noted that it may be more a result of "early successes and confidence boosters may create a self-fulfilling prophecy in which the attractive high school students end up being more successful in adulthood." Being attractive is also associated with some risks, since "more attractive teens also were more likely to drink heavily and have more sexual partners.""
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Stuxnet's "Secret Twin" Was Even More Damaging and Better Hidden

schnell schnell writes  |  about 5 months ago

schnell (163007) writes "Cyberdefense analyst Ralph Langner reports the results of a lengthy investigation into Stuxnet in Foreign Affairs, revealing that the Stuxnet we know was only the later and more obvious part of a sophisticated cyber attack on Iran's nuclear enrichment program. Two years before the release of the better-known Stuxnet variant, an original version was launched with a more subtle and stealthy mission — wearing down centrifuges gradually through improper overuse. While it couldn't spread itself as easily as the later Stuxnet, it was deliberately designed to degrade centrifuges slowly and remain invisible. The author also speculates that the discovery of the later Stuxnet version was actually beneficial to the US, since if another country was outed first as having engaged in cyberwarfare, it would seem a "Pearl Harbor" that made the US look weak in terms of its cyberwar capabilities."
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How Blockbuster Could Have Owned Netflix

schnell schnell writes  |  about 5 months ago

schnell (163007) writes "Your age probably determines whether you think of Blockbuster Video as a fond memory or a dinosaur predestined for extinction. While the last Blockbuster rental at the last remaining Blockbuster video store took place last week, Variety retells a now-classic story of how Blockbuster could have bought Netflix for a song, but didn't because it failed to take the new DVD-by-mail and video streaming markets seriously. Who is next to join Blockbuster, Polaroid, Borders and Best Buy on the ash heap of superseded retail business models?"
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How BlackBerry Blew It

schnell schnell writes  |  about 7 months ago

schnell (163007) writes "The Globe and Mail is running a fascinating in-depth report on how BlackBerry went from the world leader in smartphones to a company on the brink of collapse. It paints a picture of a company with deep engineering talent but hamstrung by arrogance, indecision, slowness to embrace change, and a lack of internal accountability. From the story: "'The problem wasn’t that we stopped listening to customers,' said one former RIM insider. 'We believed we knew better what customers needed long term than they did.'""
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The Techie General Who Made the NSA What It Is Today

schnell schnell writes  |  about 7 months ago

schnell (163007) writes "Foreign Policy magazine is running a fascinating portrait of Gen. Keith Alexander, the "techie general" who leads both the NSA and US Cyber Command. It paints a picture of a leader with both a career-long background of SIGINT engineering skills and exceptional political savvy, expanding the NSA's scope to fulfill his "big data" vision and its ability to map far-flung connections into a picture of intelligent threat analysis. While some of the anonymous intelligence officials quoted in the story call into question the results of Alexander's big data approach (including impressive-looking "contact maps" for suspected terrorists that included unrelated points like pizza shops), Alexander's techie vision for the NSA has transformed its mission into one of potentially much greater usefulness ... but also one with the potential for much greater abuse."
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"Into Darkness" Really the Worst "Star Trek" Movie Ever?

schnell schnell writes  |  about 7 months ago

schnell (163007) writes "Despite maintaining an 87% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the Star Trek faithful at a recent convention have spoken and rated "Star Trek Into Darkness" the worst movie in the franchise. So bad, in fact, that it came in 13th in a list of 12 Star Trek films — the extra slot coming because 1999's brilliant Galaxy Quest was considered in the voting. But was the movie really that bad? Simon Pegg thinks not and has a f-bomb to share with its critics, but how about you?"
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Snowden Masqueraded As Top Officials To Mine NSA's Deepest Secrets

schnell schnell writes  |  about 8 months ago

schnell (163007) writes "As government investigators continue to try to figure out just how much data whistleblower Edward Snowden had access to, MSNBC is reporting that Snowden used his sysadmin privileges to assume the user profiles of top NSA officials in order to gain access to the most sensitive files. His sysadmin privileges also enabled him to do something other NSA users can't — download classified files from NSAnet onto a thumb drive. “Every day, they are learning how brilliant [Snowden] was,” said a former U.S. official with knowledge of the case. “This is why you don’t hire brilliant people for jobs like this. You hire smart people. Brilliant people get you in trouble.”"
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Area 51 No Longer (Officially) a Secret

schnell schnell writes  |  about 8 months ago

schnell (163007) writes "The first-ever declassified story of Area 51's origin is now available, thanks to a Freedom of Information Act filed years ago by George Washington University's National Security Archive. The (only lightly redacted) document is actually primarily a history of the U-2 and A-12 ("Oxcart") spy plane programs from the Cold War, but is remarkable for being the first-ever official unclassified acknowledgement of the Area 51's purpose and its role in the program. Interesting tidbits include that the U-2 program was kicked off with a CIA check mailed personally to Lockheed Skunk Works chief Kelly Johnson for $1.25M; a U-2 was launched off an aircraft carrier to spy on French nuclear tests; and the U-2 delivery program itself was actually done under budget, a rarity for secret government programs then or now."
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The paradox of Julian Assange and Wikileaks

schnell schnell writes  |  about a year ago

schnell writes "The New Statesman is publishing a new in-depth article that examines in detail the seemingly paradoxical nature of Wikileaks' brave mission of public transparency with the private opaqueness of Julian Assange's leadership. On one hand, Wikileaks created "a transparency mechanism to hold governments and corporations to account" when nobody else could or would. On the other hand, Wikileaks itself was "guilty of the same obfuscation and misinformation as those it sought to expose, while its supporters are expected to follow, unquestioningly, in blinkered, cultish devotion." If Wikileaks performs a public service exposing the secrets of others but censors its own secrets, does it really matter? Or are the ethics of the organization and its leader inseparable?"
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WW2 carrier pigeon's code may never be broken

schnell schnell writes  |  about a year ago

schnell writes "Earlier this month, a man cleaning out his fireplace in Surrey, England, found a 70-year-old carrier pigeon skeleton with a coded message strapped to its leg. Pigeons were widely used by the Allies in WW2 to carry messages between Britain and the continent, but since the message is short (27 five-character groups) and because the cipher books used at the time should all have been destroyed, it's unlikely modern cryptographers will ever be able to unravel its sender, intended recipient or message contents. “Without access to the relevant code books and details of any additional encryption used, it will remain impossible to decrypt,” a [GCHQ] spokesman said... might this become another 21st century challenge for amateur cryptographers like the Beale ciphers?"
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Are socially shared photos free?

schnell schnell writes  |  more than 2 years ago

schnell writes "Stefanie Gordon took a now-famous photo of Space Shuttle Endeavour out the window of her airplane seat and tweeted it to friends. By the time she was leaving the airport, she was barraged with media requests. The photo has been viewed nearly one million times on hundreds of websites, but Stephanie was paid for the photo by only five news organizations. Stephanie doesn't feel slighted, but a professional news photographer would have been paid many times what Stephanie received. In today's climate, are amateur photos shared on Twitter or Facebook basically free for all websites to use? Is re-tweeting or re-sharing automatically fair use?"
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Can apps really damage a cellular network?

schnell schnell writes  |  more than 3 years ago

schnell writes "In recent FCC filings, T-Mobile described how the behavior of one Android IM app nearly brought their cellular data network to a breakdown in one city. Even more interesting, the US carrier describes how just the 300,000 unlocked iPhones on their network caused massive spikes in data usage. T-Mobile is using these anecdotes as evidence that mobile carriers shuold be able to retain control over the applications and devices on their network to ensure quality of service for all users. Do they have a point?"
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Major GTA IV bug leaves PS3 users in a lurch

schnell schnell writes  |  more than 5 years ago

schnell writes "So it turns out that the PS3 version of Grand Theft Auto IV was shipped before being adequately tested. Upon starting my saved game tonight GTA froze up during gameplay. Even following the online suggestions that I uninstall the game and delete my saved games didn't fix the problem. Then I discovered that I wasn't alone with this issue. It seems this bug was initially discovered on the 60 GB (hardware backwards-compatible) PS3 but is also being seen on other models. I have already bought the game so Rockstar has my money — I just want them to step up to the plate and fix this so I can play the game I spent $60 for!"
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