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32 Cities Want To Challenge Big Telecom, Build Their Own Gigabit Networks

tricorn Re:and the cities are... (175 comments)

Champaign and Urbana are the same system, working also with the University of Illinois.

They have the core network in place, City, schools, some businesses, and some under-served neighborhoods (using a federal grant), but progress in connecting other neighborhoods has been very slow. They're now working with another area company to install neighborhoods, but no good indication of how fast it will go. They've made some commitments, but only if enough houses in each neighborhood sign up.

The biggest problem I've seen is getting a competent company to do the work, and keeping people informed. I'm still hopeful, I want to get away from AT&T. The City/University group has been turned into a non-profit, and they've pledged that the network will be open to ISPs on an equal basis (though I assume that the company building out the home connections will get a chunk of any revenue for some time until they've recouped their investment).

about 1 month ago
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Ask Slashdot: Software Issue Tracking Transparency - Good Or Bad?

tricorn Re:Sanitizing comments, trolls, first to market (159 comments)

Yeah, I really like the idea of setting up a bug tracking system for your competitor that all their customers can contibute to.

One of the biggest turn-offs to me is a company that doesn't have any good way to report bugs or to request changes. The ideal company for me would be one where every bug or suggestion either generates a new tracking entry or is assigned to an existing one, and that tracking ID is sent to me as a response.

Now I can see what's happening with an issue that affects me, I can provide further details when I see that no one else has pointed something out (or not create redundant reports when they have) - such a system should have a "me too" capability for tracking how many people have that issue without them all needing to take up support time by reporting it. It doesn't need to show all the developer notes on progress or specifics about internals, but it really isn't that hard to give a status update that's useful to the customer, or an explanation of why something isn't going to be done, work-arounds, etc.

Make it easy for your customer to find out the issues and you won't have as much of a problem with wild rumors and complaints and mobs with pitchforks.

Yes, security-related issues should be redacted. No big deal.

Shouldn't be any problem to restrict it to customers who request it, at least for non-consumer-based products, as long as there's a simple process for a prospect to be given access as well, but I really don't think it's worth the hassle of keeping access restricted. It would be interesting to see the sales/marketing response after seeing how mnay of their sales are contingent upon getting access to the bug tracking system.

about 2 months ago
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New "Crescent Bay" VR Headset Revealed and Demo'd At Oculus Connect

tricorn Avegant Glyph (65 comments)

I'm really looking forward to seeing how the Rift and the Glyph compare. They both seem to be converging from different sides to be very similar, but with the delivery tech being quite different. I'm excited about the form factor of the Glyph and the emphasis on audio. The video doesn't have the resolution of the Rift yet, but it sounds like it is still very good.

It would be really interesting to see innovations from both put together. I really like the idea of using micro-mirror arrays to create the virtual image, and I really like that the Glyph can be used without corrective lenses.

If the two companies could have merged and joined the best of both, that would have been really excellent.

about 2 months ago
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Enraged Verizon FiOS Customer Seemingly Demonstrates Netflix Throttling

tricorn Re:Could be a different route involved for the VPN (398 comments)

It's not like it's a surprise that there's a lot of Netflix traffic. I could forgive an ISP for not having the connections in place to handle that amount of traffic if all of a sudden it sprang up, but they should be able to handle it by now.

Customers are paying for that level of service. If most of their traffic is coming from Netflix, that's because THAT'S what's driving their customers to pay more for higher speed service. That means that they're getting more money, but most of the capacity increase for their network can be concentrated on serving the Netflix traffic. That's probably less expensive than building out the capacity to handle all those high-bandwidth customers spreading it around more.

about 4 months ago
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Enraged Verizon FiOS Customer Seemingly Demonstrates Netflix Throttling

tricorn Re:Could be a different route involved for the VPN (398 comments)

It would actually be fairly easy to show that it isn't traffic-analysis throttling going on - set up a server somewhere that you can get a 5Mbps stream going, and that also can get 3Mbps to Netflix, then use an un-encrypted port forward. Given that Verizon and Level3 have both shown that it's a bottleneck at their interconnect point, I'd expect that method to get you a full speed Netflix stream with no problem.

Now, that wouldn't necessarily be a real solution - the route you're getting would probably also be overwhelmed by the traffic if a large number of people were all routing traffic through it. What it does show is that Verizon needs to fix the bottleneck. That's what they're being paid for by their customers. The providers Netflix is using can handle the load, and they clearly have no incentive to not build out their networks in whatever way is needed to handle it properly.

If 90% of Verizon's traffic ends up coming from Netflix, so what? That means they only need 10% of their network for everything else. Their customers are already paying to receive that data, why should Netflix pay again?

The people talking about "unbalanced data flows" are missing the point. It wouldn't make things better if Netflix changed the protocol to require that customers send them as much data as they receive. Bits aren't a resource, nor are they toxic waste, the country won't start to tilt if Netflix sends too many bits in one direction without accepting the same number in return.

If that's the way it worked, then Netflix could simply set up a Cloud backup service.

about 4 months ago
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Exhibit On Real Johnny Appleseed To Hit the Road

tricorn Re:He was anti GMO (71 comments)

My parents have an apple tree growing in the front that has apples that don't brown at all. They taste pretty good as well, and don't seem to have much of a problem with insects. I have no idea if the tree was grown from ra andom seed from an apple or what its lineage is, I don't think it's been grafted. Does that mean it's potentially worth something?

BTW, regarding the article - that's Urbana, Ohio. There's more than one Urbana (e.g. Urbana, Illinois, with the University of Illinois, not Urbana University). That confused me briefly!

about 4 months ago
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Sons of Anarchy Creator On Google Copyright Anarchy

tricorn Not a minute or dime? (381 comments)

Google contributes quite a bit, just because its software doesn't mean it's not creative.

I'd be willing to bet that he uses free software all the time. Why doesn't he think that's a worthwhile contribution?

about 8 months ago
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"Microsoft Killed My Pappy"

tricorn Re: Change (742 comments)

You forgot Jony Ives and iOS7. He did fairly well with some earlier stuff, but ugh.

about 9 months ago
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"Microsoft Killed My Pappy"

tricorn Re:Change (742 comments)

You're comparing Microsoft Windows to iOS? Why aren't you comparing Windows to OSX?

How locked down was Zune, how locked down is RT, how is it that the PC platform is becoming more locked down than Apple hardware?

We'd be in much better shape in a world where PPC and Alpha desktop computers were competing with ARM for marketshare, with OF still a relevant standard (rather than just having remnants left behind in the Linux kernel), rather than the total hash that's x86, BIOS, MBR, EFI.

The Apple partition map presaged GPT, OF (which Apple embraced) presaged EFI, all of it quite open. A large part of OSX is open source, and the documentation of everything is superb (I remember when the big criticism of MacOS was that you needed THREE VOLUMES of documentation to cover everything! I still have the phonebook version).

Yeah, iOS and iTunes is not very open, I'll give you that.

about 9 months ago
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"Microsoft Killed My Pappy"

tricorn Re:Change (742 comments)

I don't like Microsoft, and I haven't liked them since I saw the price they wanted for their sort program for CP/M.

I will also never forgive Bill Gates for using a backslash as a path separator. Every time I hear someone speak a URL, saying "forward slash" I wince.

Microsoft did so many things that have set back the state of computing. Sure, maybe someone else would have screwed things up just as much, maybe even more, but in this world it's Microsoft's fault.

When the Morris worm was the big news, and the cost estimates were flying, I made the observation that MS had caused MUCH more economic damage, and they did it ON PURPOSE!

about 9 months ago
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Ugly Trends Threaten Aviation Industry

tricorn Re:Rules rules rules (473 comments)

Man, I take issue with about 90% of what you say. Yes, there are people who are all rules, but I haven't found them more likely to be in an accident, mostly because they spend so much time worrying about the rules they hardly ever fly. What I did find was that people who didn't take flying seriously were the ones more likely to have problems, regardless of their attitude towards being a stickler for the rules. Now, I knew quite a few of the "old fart" pilots, they were great pilots. They also knew their limits, they knew the rules, and they didn't do stupid things. They weren't good because they ignored the rules, they were able to get away with ignoring SOME of the rules because they understood exactly what the rules were for and when you could bend them. You fly a haphazard traffic pattern with them, though, you'd get your ear chewed off.

My experience with FAA regulations is that most of them are more about common sense than blind obedience to stupid rules. If you read between the lines, most of them say "you can kill yourself, just don't kill anyone else, please." Many of the rest are about protocols, how you and other pilots can co-exist in the same airspace. That's as of 9/11, I pretty much stopped around then when stupid security regulations started coming out, so maybe things have changed.

The most dangerous people are yahoos who think the rules are dumb, they're better than the average pilot, they can get away with it, so why should they bother. People who say "flying is easy, any monkey can do it" tend to be like that. Yeah, the mechanics of flying are pretty straightforward, and most people can learn to do it, however I found that people who took longer to learn tended to be the ones that had the highest flying skills eventually.

If your instructor wasn't constantly testing your situational awareness, asking you what you'd do if something unexpected happened, either you had a poor instructor or you weren't paying attention. That's at least half of what your training is about.

If your plan of action if your elevator gets stuck is to ask your front seat passenger to climb into the back seat - well, I don't think you've really thought it through very well. You're either going to be in an uncontrollable spin well before he gets his seat belt unbuckled or the airplane is controllable and the last thing you want to do is push your CG backwards with limited elevator control. Fail.

about 9 months ago
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Ugly Trends Threaten Aviation Industry

tricorn Liability (473 comments)

I'm an airplane pilot and glider instructor, I donated my time to the local glider club. I stopped instructing in part because I was concerned about the liability if a student should be in an accident and someone was hurt. Paying for hefty liability insurance wasn't really practical for me, especially as I wasn't getting any income from it. I pretty much gave the whole thing up shortly after 9/11 when the security regulations started to become too intrusive. It was also becoming too expensive, even for gliders, especially as insurance and gas costs increased.

I've trained many students who went on to become pilots, some became airplane pilots from their exposure to aviation in gliders, some became instructors (a few of whom I trained to be instructors). Without instructors, you don't get student pilots. Without student pilots, you don't get new pilots, or new instructors.

about 9 months ago
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US Requirement For Software Dev Certification Raises Questions

tricorn Re:Proof! (228 comments)

I remember working on a product produced by a company that proudly trumpeted their Six Sigma certifications. Had a problem with a board that was sold with the explicit feature of being able to do read-modify-write bus cycles on shared memory (each board had a section of on-board memory that could be shared with the other boards across multibus).

Unfortunately, it turned out that the target board would get memory corrupted when you did that (interfered with refresh cycles, I believe it was). Once I figured out that was happening, I contacted the company.

Six Sigma is all about repeatable and documented processes. Well, they documented it all right. They documented that they had no idea what was wrong, that the person who had designed the hardware had retired, and that they had no one there who was qualified to even understand what I was talking about. I guess since the problem with the board was repeatable, that justified their Six Sigma level! They continued selling that board, with the same claim of capability, for several more years.

Ever since then I've had little respect for that type of certification - worried more about the proper process than about the actual results.

about a year ago
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New Ford Mustang May Have Electronic "Burnout" Button

tricorn Um, why? (290 comments)

I guess I'm underwhelmed. I never realized people were that into destroying tires.

about a year ago
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No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service — and No Google Glass, Either

tricorn Re:just leave (845 comments)

What makes you think that Google Glass is always recording video, much less sending it somewhere? Even if you record video, it's saved where you want it, not sent automatically to Google.

Most people agree that it should have a clear indicator light that shows when it's recording anything, not sure if they added that in the newer version.

about a year ago
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No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service — and No Google Glass, Either

tricorn Re:Not a Glass fan but (845 comments)

It probably won't be too long before head-mounted displays like Google Glass are common as the normal interface you use for your personal wearable computer, currently masquerading as a smart phone. "Augmented Reality" is just one application for such an interface. It will be used for playing music, videos, using the Web, showing you where you are and what's around you; a camera watching you type on a virtual keyboard will be an input method, perhaps along with something like subvocalization pickups.

I don't even own a cell phone, much less Google Glass, but I can see a time when I'd use such an interface (it just isn't good enough yet for me to care). I wouldn't have a problem with a policy that says "please don't wear your head-mounted display in here", but I think it's sort of stupid to have such a rule and not also say "please leave your cell phone turned off and put away" as well. Anything you can do with a Google Glass you can do with a cell phone, you can certainly take videos without it being obvious.

It's a strange idea that the primary purpose for having Google Glass is to take videos of everything you're doing and immediately upload it for everyone to see.

about a year ago
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Elevation Plays a Role In Memory Error Rates

tricorn Re:Of course elevation affects memory (190 comments)

An altimeter in an airplane is normally adjusted to show altitude above sea level (although above a certain height, it's set to assume a standard sea level pressure rather than what the current weather is producing). The two terms have very similar meanings, although I think elevation is more often used to refer to a fixed location.

about a year ago
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Re: Daylight Saving Time, I would most like

tricorn Re:Get up early if you want (462 comments)

There's nothing sacred about current business hours, who cares what the clock shows at sunset? Sun rises earlier in the summer? So what? Get up with the sun, or get up at some arbitrary clock time, the body doesn't care whether it's 6am or 10am (and neither do cows).

1 year,15 days
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Re: Daylight Saving Time, I would most like

tricorn Re:This (462 comments)

There's no reason you couldn't have summer hours and winter hours for businesses, schools, transportation, etc.

Once everything's automated, it won't matter that much anyway, do things on your own schedule.

1 year,15 days
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A Math Test That's Rotten To the Common Core

tricorn Re:How hard can that possibly be? (663 comments)

No, you didn't read that. Not sure what's wrong with your reading comprehension, perhaps it's the way you were taught.

The big problem with teaching by rote memorization is that the student often ends up with no idea how to use what they've memorized. Perhaps for some people, memorizing facts, then learning how to apply them, works, but it isn't an optimal method. You would have learned fine if you were taught the concepts, THEN drilled on your times tables.

My experience in teaching is as a flight instructor. It's rather practical, and we have very high-stakes tests. I don't get people to memorize stall speed, best glide speed, etc, before they even understand what they are.

In any case, the "obvious" part was referring to an adult looking at the test, trying to figure out what it's testing without having been exposed to the actual lessons. What's being taught is how to take apart a specific problem and figure out how to solve it, by looking at "the whole" and "the part you know", which is a perfectly reasonable way of looking at subtraction problems. However, the test question is poorly written.

1 year,17 days

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Preservation of PLATO

tricorn tricorn writes  |  more than 10 years ago

Anyone who is interested in participating in rebuilding some of the community that was PLATO, whether it be from CERL, the various CDC systems, FSU, Hawaii, South Africa or Europe, the NovaNET system, or anyone who is interested in seeing what existed on-line over 30 years ago, should check out cyber1.org for more information.

The PLATO system, developed at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign at the Computer-Based Education Research Laboratory, and eventually marketed by Control Data Corporation, was a pioneer in many ways. Designed as a Computer-Based Education delivery system, it became much more. Although there are still running production systems derived from the original PLATO, there has been concern that this treasure might be lost to neglect. In the interest of preservation, we've been able to secure non-commercial rights from VCampus, the company that now owns CYBIS, one of the branches that the code has taken via CDC. The system is running already, and we plan to open access within a month or two.

One of the earliest time-shared computer systems (only Dartmouth's BASIC time-shared system has a credible claim for precedence), PLATO grew a culture and community second to none that has had far-ranging effects ever since. Many things we take for granted today were influenced by developments at CERL. E-mail, newsgroups, "chat", on-line multi-player interactive gaming, multiple networked systems, and even the plasma screen were all available on PLATO while the ARPANET was still in its infancy.

Thanks go to VCampus and Nat Kannan for allowing us to run the CYBIS software, Craig Burson for doing the dirty work of actually tracking down and collecting the code for us, Syntegra for allowing us to run early versions of NOS, Tom Hunter and the Controlfreaks gang for all the work that went in to getting the Cyber emulator running, Paul Koning for getting the CYBIS code running, and Mike Cochran for the drive to put it all together.

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