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US Viewers Using Proxies To Watch BBC Olympic Coverage

thpr Re:Finally (373 comments)

As an American, I can say living close to the Canadian border is really useful during the Olympics, so I don't have to struggle to get good coverage. CTV is so much better than NBC.

about 2 years ago

Verizon LTE Can Use the Monthly Data Allotment In 32 Minutes

thpr Re:Where the choke point really is (273 comments)

Cellular networks do not share the same frequency limitations as radio. In radio, a single frequency will be used to cover a range of 100 miles or so. This is a natural range, so that you can cross a city and continue to listen to the same station. However, you will eventually lose the station. Cellular networks are fundamentally different, in that you can regularly jump between towers (changing frequencies, as it happens) and still maintain the phone call. It's possible to drive vast distances and maintain a single phone call, while using many, many towers in the process.

The whole reason it's called a "cellular" network is because they are "cells" - one for each tower (give or take multiple carriers sharing a tower). These cells overlap, and operate in different parts of the frequency spectrum. The important point about understanding this "cell" nature is that there is no reason a cell in rural Kansas has to be the same size as a cell in downtown NYC. In fact, they generally aren't the same. That's related to why they previously prohibited (and how they now can technologically allow) cell phones on planes - there is a "femtocell" placed on the plane so that cell phones use their minimum power. The use of higher power levels can cause an overlap of a flying cell phone with multiple distant cells (using the same frequency) on the ground... and cause a whole chain of confusion (for a system effectively designed to be 2-dimensional).

You make it out like additional bandwidth (in the form of more parallel downloads) is not an economic problem. Additional bandwidth has a cost: More tower density (or at least more radio antenna if you can mount on existing buildings) using smaller cells, and that's absolutely an economic problem. (It's also a permitting problem, and in suburban areas likely a ditch-digging problem, both of which are likely worse than buying the equipment)

A few other notes:

You need to calculate 3X/Y, not X/Y, as 4G Cell towers will likely use Tri-sectored directional antenna. It's widely deployed in 3G environments, and is basically a requirement in any dense area (and also facilitates cellular 911 location when more accurate location isn't available)

There are also additional technologies that could be deployed that change the rules of spectrum usage. MIMO comes to mind. (The major problem of MIMO is much like other things in the cellular world, in that signal reflections (and interference in general) are somewhat of a royal pain and the resulting demand of processing power makes the basestations and phones infeasible to deploy at this time.)

Net is that smaller cell sizes and using additional technologies could absolutely reduce congestion, but the expense in doing so is enormous. It doesn't really change why the cap needs to exist at some level (they are up against wall, even if a financial loss wall rather than a physics wall), but we're nowhere near the fundamental laws of physics.

more than 3 years ago

Google Earth Adds 3-D Trees

thpr Re:Yippie. (95 comments)

Have you ever tried to generate the view of what a proposed communications tower would look from your back yard? I have. While Google Earth was useful, It took me a lot of time modeling tree heights from pictures, GPS coordinates (of photo locations) and pacing.

I don't know if their algorithm/data takes in account height, but if it does, or if they add it (and it wouldn't be hard at this point), it would be ENORMOUSLY useful in my opinion. It gives resources to the population to get an accurate rendition that isn't limited to the two or three (very carefully chosen) views that have to be provided by the owning company in the permitting process.

more than 3 years ago

SpaceX Gets First Private FAA Space Reentry License

thpr Re:A license? (108 comments)

Yeah, except... nobody owns space by international treaty anyway. So if a satellite malfunctions (or a space ship collides with one), legally it's like international waters.

Articles VI and VII of The Treaty disagree.

Which - for reference - is different from the law of the sea.

more than 3 years ago

200 Students Admit Cheating After Professor's Online Rant

thpr Re:There is no such thing as cheating (693 comments)

There is no such thing as cheating, only getting creative with your sources. The real world, whatever your career will be, relies on the same behavior that is punished in school that they call "cheating."

The students agreed to a certain limits when they enrolled in the school, and committed that they would NOT cheat. That should be sufficient to impose punishment if those limits are unreasonably breached.

The behavior that is being discouraged is not sharing work. The behavior that is being punished is unreasonably breaching an agreement. The real world also has that type of limit. Most companies have some form of code of conduct. Part of that is likely to avoid breaking laws.

As a specific example from the 'real world', look at what SAP did with Oracle's code. It would be a breach of section 1 of SAP's Employee Code of Conduct. Seems that creativity will result in something between $40 million and $1.6 billion in punishment. That's not creativity, it's illegal.

The fact that the limits may be at different points (one set by a student's contract with the school, the other set by law) doesn't mean they shouldn't be enforced as written.

more than 3 years ago

One In Eight To Cut Cable and Satellite TV In 2010

thpr Re:NHL did it for me. (502 comments)

The rules are at the bottom of this section

These rules happen to be one of the main reasons I still have cable. The Stanley Cup playoffs are nationally televised, thus blacked out online.

more than 3 years ago

Amazon Caves To Publishers On eBook Pricing

thpr Re:I agree (236 comments)

I agree the GP is wrong that the Constitution is not relevant. In fact, I think it is still highly relevant to the issue

The thing is that copyright in its current form is a social contract - you are provided a temporary monopoly in exchange for producing that thing... with the underlying principle and power being "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;". (emphasis added)

If I am prevented from EVER copying an item (and remember that DRM has NO provision to provide an end to its protection), then I ask a more fundamental question: Given the social contract and the power provided to Congress in the Constitution, should an item that is protected with DRM actually be protected by copyright? If they want to take away the return of that item to the public domain, then shouldn't they have to give up some of the protection?

The fact is, the Constitution hasn't been fundamentally broken, but DRM changes the equation, because it impacts the underlying social contract in copyright. Congress and the courts haven't caught up to that tradeoff (which isn't a surprise, as the law generally lags technology by years or decades), and may not until something released solely with DRM enters the public domain (by which point the solution may be to legalize the breaking of such decades old [and computationally irrelevant] DRM)

more than 4 years ago

Growing Power Gap Could Force Smartphone Tradeoffs

thpr Re:Why do I need so many batteries? (246 comments)

This (almost) all exists today, if you're willing to buy the components required. (Almost depends on who built your camera)

Kensington will sell you cell phone connectors that will allow you to charge a cell phone from a laptop or other USB power source. It also has a portable battery that can provide an additional charge for your cell phone. Or step up to a fully universal laptop battery if you want to power that netbook

Some cameras can also be charged from USB, allowing you to use the Kensington portable battery or your netbook. Google to find out if yours can be charged that way.

There are at least half a dozen systems to charge a laptop (or in your case, a netbook) from solar power, effectively making it your portable power station, using solar power as the source.

more than 5 years ago

All Humans Are Mutants, Say Scientists

thpr Re:Weird Headline (309 comments)

Wow, over a runtime of 204 years, the DNA copying process has an accuracy of 99.99988%, or an error rate of only 0.00012%.

While I agree that the level of change is reasonably slow, I think you've taken the conclusion a bit too far in inferring the observed rate of change matches transcription accuracy.

The reason I would be cautious about extending observed mutation rate to infer transcription accuracy is that there is likely to be significant selection bias, similar to how "old furniture" always appears to be great quality (because anything that isn't great quality is in a landfill). Any fatal mutations would never progress and therefore can't be detected by this method. Thus, the 0.00012% is a (very) loose lower bound on the transcription error rate.

To follow your computer analogy, it's like saying a program running for 204 years only produces a wrong answer 0.00012% of the time *that it produces an answer*. What you may be missing is the 50% (making up a number) of the time that it dumped stack because a bounds check failed due to an error.

more than 5 years ago

How Microsoft Has Changed Without Bill Gates

thpr Re:How soon we forget (493 comments)


What did they invent?

OLE (1990) was an extension of Microsoft's Dynamic Data Exchange, introduced in 1987. CORBA was 1991. CORBA standardized (and made more flexible) the types of transactions Microsoft defined in DDE/OLE.

I seem to recall that tabbed browsing took years to make it into IE.

I have not - and will never make - the assertion that Microsoft innovates well or consistently. Microsoft frequently is not an innovator, but rather is chasing others. My point was on tabbed spreadsheets. "Microsoft has yet to innovate anything, ever." is a strong (and IMHO incorrect) statement.

On-the-fly spell checking in word processor

Trivial leveraging of improved processor speeds does not equal innovation, but nice try ;-)

It is innovation. It provides benefit to the end user that reduces the amount of effort a user has to make in checking a document. It may seem trivial in hindsight (many innovations are), but it was innovative when introduced.

more than 5 years ago

How Microsoft Has Changed Without Bill Gates

thpr Re:How soon we forget (493 comments)

This is where business and technology meet, because I think you're confusing invention and innovation.
People often refer to the inventors of technology and fret that they are not sufficiently recognized for their invention. (e.g. Xerox PARC on the GUI). What matters to users, however, is not the idea or the invention, but the successful application of that idea or invention. (e.g. Apple Macintosh)
This distinction between invention and innovation is why you will see companies refer to "innovation" as a key area where they need to spend effort. Ideas are a dime a dozen. Innovation refers to an invention that is successfully applied.
In that sense, Microsoft was an "innovator" in many areas because it was often the first to successfully apply a technology.

I challenge anyone to cite an innovation from M$

XBox Live (more generally a console w/ services and playability across the Internet)
Tabbed Spreadsheet
Pivot Tables in Spreadsheets
On-the-fly spell checking in word processor

All first successful applications by Microsoft.

more than 5 years ago

Russia To Save Its ISS Modules

thpr Re:Survivorship bias (280 comments)

Better pieces have Mortise/Tenon or dado.

Actually, it's not even that simple. Most "high" quality furniture is still only about mid-range IMHO and subject to weaknesses in design. Ethan Allen and others who "mass produce" furniture - even "high quality" furniture will use jigs that result in shortcomings in the final structure. DerekLyons is correct. While they use a dovetail joint on corners, their half-blind dovetails tend to be rounded on the inside, and not completely square. Look at the half-blind illustration and then look at how it's done with a jig. Note in picture 5 how the insides of the pins are taken out with the use of a jig. That makes it harder for the glue to grip and makes the joint weaker in the long run.

Really good furniture only needs glue to secure it for long periods of time (if at all). Screws are typically used to hold on the top, in order to allow the wood to expand/contract with different moisture levels and avoid cracking. I have a desk & filing cabinet I built by hand and the glue is a formality. I could sit on them before they were glued and they didn't budge.

more than 5 years ago

A Layman's Guide To Bandwidth Pricing

thpr Re:NYT quote is a bit unfair ... (203 comments)

My water company is the town government, so the bill is sparse in the amount of detail it provides. My sewer charges are based on the number of gallons of water used. The sewer capital charge when building a home is based on the legal number of bedrooms (rooms with closets) in the home (I know this because I have a "study" that I didn't turn into a bedroom :) )... not sure what the capital charges on the water side of things is based on.

more than 5 years ago

A Layman's Guide To Bandwidth Pricing

thpr Re:NYT quote is a bit unfair ... (203 comments)

It is actually different from other utilities - the electric company doesn't cap how much electricity you use...

Citation needed. I say that because I believe they DO limit how much electricity you use. Here's the proof: I'm on a residential rate, E01, to be exact. I can't exceed 5kW load under that rate, nor can I exceed 7600kWh per month consecutively while remaining on that rate.

more than 5 years ago

CSIRO Wins Wi-Fi Settlement From HP

thpr Re:what, no fruit? (125 comments)

Any other big names I'm overlooking?

I wouldn't think anything special about Apple being missing given that IBM/Lenovo (depending on how the suit would hit based on time of filing), Sony, Cisco/Linksys are missing. A host of others would be potential targets, too.

more than 5 years ago

Update — No DRM In New iPod Shuffle

thpr Re:Why all the fuss? (264 comments)

- It isn't standards compliant. When standards disintegrate the consumer pays.

So the only innovation that should be allowed is innovation qualified through IEEE or another standards body? This way, we immediately have a race to the bottom on price? How would any company ever make money?

- It promotes vendor lock in.

So what? If you bought an SLR, you understood the consequences of the connection between the camera body and the lens - or you should have. Where is the limit? Would you propose that GM, Honda, and Toyota all be forced to use the same air filters and fuel filters? What about speedometers and engines? At what point do we accept competition is about solutions and not about making every component in a solution interchangeable?

People buy things that are "locked-in" because they work. If this weren't true, then almost no corporation would have purchased an IP phone system. While there are base standards (SIP), just about every vendor has proprietary extensions that ensure you can actually perform many valuable functions a modern phone system should be able to perform. Note that this does mean the single-source vendor can charge higher prices for additional equipment (i.e. phones), but any company that installs them presumably is saving money vs. their original phone system. So while it's "locked-in", it's still a savings to the purchaser. Decisions are a series of trade-offs, and others will not make the same trade-offs that you make.

When a market leader pulls this crap, others do too and pretty soon all the MP3 players you can buy have this "feature".

...and if that happens, I suspect you'll find it turns into a standard. Lots of things start out proprietary and migrate to standards in order to assist both the manufacturers and consumers. What are now WiFi, HTML, SIP, and many other protocols followed this path. It only makes sense to standardize if the demand and volumes justify standardization.

That's nice. They get what they want. What about those that do care about the headphones? What about those who can't use ear buds due to hearing or ear problems?

Then they have product requirements that will lead them to investigate and purchase a different music player. Apple produces a product for a specific segment of the market, they are not required to serve other segments (e.g. those that do care about the headphones)

more than 5 years ago

Update — No DRM In New iPod Shuffle

thpr Re:Places Apple still have DRM. (264 comments)

So how is waiting any different except ...

It's different because anyone who is willing to do that exploration and failure would be considered an early adopter, and not part of the mass market. You cannot successfully sell cheap consumer electronics to only the early adopters.

This is a prisoner's dilemma for manufacturers of hardware that might be "made for X". If any manufacturer performs the qualification, the non-"made for X" product will likely be more expensive. (Yes, I meant "non-", and this is counter-intuitive to some people)

This is all about unit volumes. While it's interesting to target a high-technology crowd with a product, it is *not* the mass-market. The mass-market will flock to the pre-qualified item (even at what would initially be a slightly higher price), and drive unit volumes on the qualified part to the point where manufacturing efficiencies would actually make the qualified item cheaper in the long run.

more than 5 years ago


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