* Posts by Charles 9

4350 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

FCC says cities should be free to run decent ISPs. And Republicans can't stand it

Charles 9
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Re: Capitalism is direct democracy.

They might if accepting the contributor pisses off enough voters that the legislator loses his/her seat. Money's one thing, but it's second to power.

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Charles 9
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Re: [Not directed at anyone here]

" it DOESN'T MATTER what bills you pass to undo this, the President owns your ass!"

Unless the Republicans find a way to cajole or blackmail enough Democrats to side with them on an override. OR they attach the proviso to a must-sign bill such as a debt ceiling increase or (like yesterday) a DHS funding bill. If they can achieve the former (odds are slim; if they tried, the Democrats would likely counter), then Obama's powerless. Achieving the latter would put him in a bind, especially if the bill is time-sensitive: he must either sign the bill with the rider or veto it and cause a shutdown which the GOP will harp about.

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Charles 9
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"In principle, the threat to the free market is that municipalities will operate the local ISP at a loss, subsidizing it with tax revenues and precluding or destroying competition by private sector companies."

Can not a conglomerate or other large firm be able to perform similar chicanery by using excess revenues from captive markets to offset any losses due to predatory pricing in competitive markets? That's a big problem upstarts have against incumbents: the incumbents can leverage their size to smother the competition.

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Charles 9
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Re: They should compromise

Maybe not in ISPs, but I'll give you two concrete examples of the state taking an industry away from the private sector: Police and Firefighting. The reason for both industries were the same: private enterprise found it more lucrative to turn them into protection rackets ("Shame what could happen to your business, eh...?")

IOW, there are somethings for which money is NOT the best angle. When it isn't, then it's a possible thing for the state to run because the state isn't as concerned about money as private enterprise. And the "overhead" we lose becomes the price we pay for, say, a guaranteed minimum level of service.

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Charles 9
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Re: They should compromise

If the Tea Party really had its way they'd disband ALL federal facilities, including the military, and have everything done privately by uber-rich megacorps.

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MELTDOWN: Samsung, Sony not-so-smart TVs go titsup for TWO days

Charles 9
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Re: Storm in a teacup!

Actually, it's closer to all or nothing than you think. If it ain't one thing recording you, it's another, and you have no control over what happens in public streets where it's a free-for-all. Heck, thanks to satellites and aerial photography, they can even take multiple pictures (including infrared) of a mountain retreat miles from any electricity. So no, retreating to the mountains is becoming less viable of an option.

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Charles 9
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Re: Samsung Ignorant Arrogance

I've tried WD Live, but its format support isn't up to snuff and its upscaler is the pits. I'd be more inclined to use one of those newer Pi' 2s to install Kodi (I tried it with the original B, but even with 2.1A backing it up it couldn't seem to remain stable; perhaps the stronger 2 can better handle it).

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XenData’s storage Jurassic Park: PC tape backup is BAAAAACK

Charles 9
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Re: I wonder how that works from a technical standpoint

How did CD-R drives cope with finicky and slow (in the early days) spinning rust? Many turned to internal buffers to provide a cushion against slow spots. I'm sure a USB tape drive can pack a few megs of RAM as a buffer.

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Charles 9
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In the late 90's, QIC-based tape drives were actually within reach in the consumer sphere. I once had a Travan TR-3 drive from a brand called Eagle. For their day, they could hold a decent amount of data, and some clever folks found ways to extend the capacity with oversized cartridges. Shame tape niched into pretty much an enterprise-only affair (which this new device does nothing to fix).

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Charles 9
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Re: Great product, sort of a shame about the price

I have some concern over medium-term longevity, so I'll be interested to see how BDXL M-disc measures up. A reliable medium of size good for about 10 years would probably solve a number of archiving problems at the consumer end.

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Why does the NSA's boss care so much about backdoors when he can just steal all our encryption keys?

Charles 9
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Re: Next week's news:

Two counterpoints:

a) If you note my icon, I was playing Devil's Advocate. Playing along with the hypothetical scenario.

b) As recent open-source snafus have shown, open-source is no panacea. And as Stuxnet has noted, not everyone at the TLA agencies are stupid (it's not everyday someone can design a malware that can jump an air gap in a high-security setting). If someone were really clever, they can hide the malware code in plain sight, perhaps by (1) breaking the whole works down into a gestalt of tine little pieces scattered all over the code and (2) disguising each piece as an innocuous if not serious feature.

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Charles 9
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Re: Next week's news:

Nope. They actually went after the WebKit engine (which Opera is now based on...not to mention Chrome and others) first.

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Google's Softcard hookup: Never mind Apple Pay ... it's about beating the networks

Charles 9
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Re: No thanks...

Most PIN pads being installed today at least have the capability, even if it's turned off. It's up to the retailers, and they seem to be uniting on their own front that may be strong enough to resist even Apple.

BTW, speaking of Secure Elements, what of Host Card Emulation?

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FCC Republicans slam brakes on net neutrality, but this wagon ain't slowing

Charles 9
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Re: IT IS BROKE

"American consumers pay more for internet access (and slower access at that) than virtually any industrialized and many non-industrialized countries."

The thing about Internet access is that it costs money to lay down cable. Therefore, geography matters. In case you haven't noticed, the US not only has hundreds of millions of people but is also pretty damn big: near the top of the list in terms of sheer land area. Off the top of my head, only Canada and Russia are bigger, and I don't hold their internet standards as paragons of quality, either.

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Charles 9
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Re: @Herby -- When will they understand...

"Really? I suppose that's why gasoline prices tend to fluctuate at gas/petrol stations that are across the street from each other, and never go up or down in unison...uhhh, wait a minute...."

That's mostly down to "gentlemen's agreements" between gas stations that sit on corners of the same intersection. Otherwise, you end up with one loss leading incident turning into a price war which can ruin ALL the gas stations.

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Charles 9
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Re: When will they understand...

"Also, the notion that 'if one company is bad, they'll be forced to back down when all their customers leave for competitors' doesn't really hold up when you look at historical precedents."

Just remember: competition can't be expected with cartel behavior.

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Charles 9
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I think the main reason they won't make the text public is that, should it be made public, the GOP lawmakers will find SOMETHING in the text that will give them enough gristle to either (a) invoke some part of the Telecommunications Act that DOESN'T require a presidential signature or (b) pass it along to big Telecom so they can start suing in in half the Federal Circuit Courts, thus giving precedence to get the vote blocked indefinitely. Once the vote takes place, momentum favors the FCC instead because Congress then can't overrule the FCC without a full Act: requiring Obama's signature, plus even if the telecoms sue, the odds of an injunction are now unlikely unless there is a full ruling which isn't a certainty since the FCC can easily argue (especially thanks to VoIP) that the Internet can and must be treated like a telephone company.

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Charles 9
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Re: "Let’s leave the power where it belongs - with the American people.

Didn't airlines like Southwest and JetBlue get their start by being "no-frills" airlines?

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SSL-busting adware: US cyber-plod open fire on Comodo's PrivDog

Charles 9
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Re: If I were a layman

You just hit a HARD problem in computer security. It basically boils down to a question of "Who can you trust?" Because the first rule to having ANY form of trust system (chain, web, et al) is the need to trust someone or something; IOW, someone has to play the role of Trent. Only problem is, given sufficient resources, Mallory (or Gene) can impersonate anyone: including Trent. So ask yourself, "What now?"

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'Utterly unusable' MS Word dumped by SciFi author Charles Stross

Charles 9
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Re: I'm a big fan of WPS Office

The article and several comments note that if your editor is in the cage, you basically have no choice but to climb in.

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Charles 9
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Re: a writer sticking with WordPerfect

Moreover, Wordstar for DOS. No GUI for him. In fact, the system IIRC even has floppy drives on it.

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Smartphones merge into homogeneous mass as 'flagship fatigue' bites

Charles 9
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Re: Still some improvements worth having with a new handset for some!

"-3 day battery life (good for relieving me of battery anxiety)"

This may clash with one of your other requests:

"-fits in my child-like hand more easily than the last one but the screen's still big enough"

The only ways, physically, for the screen to be the same size yet fit your hand better are to (1) reduce the bezel and (2) thin the phone out, but (2) means you can't put in the big battery you really need to have a 3-day practical working life.

"-easier to read in sunlight than the last (though still utter pants compared to paper)"

Again, a tradeoff. A display that's good for transmissive light (ie. backlight) is generally bad for reflective light (ie. sunlight). While inroads into this are being made, there have generally been tradeoffs. The closest we've come to is Qualcomm's Mirasol display, as seen (albeit very briefly) in the Toq smartwatch (Where is Mirasol now?), but even that trades off night visibility to an extent.

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Charles 9
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Re: Sounds like a good idea

Hmm...wonder what happens if you remove it, and REPLACE it with a solid block of epoxy? NOW how are they gonna replace it without bricking the phone in trying to remove the epoxy?

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Charles 9
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Re: Obvious

Same here. A $20 premium per month when the phone I was getting at the time was $500. Basically a wash. Plus, since I was on a postpaid plan, I got to enjoy features you won't see in a prepaid plan such as WiFi Calling and Visual Voicemail.

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HAWKING ALERT: Leave planet Earth, find a new home. Stupid humans

Charles 9
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Re: he's right

But no one wants to be the among the 9/10 getting the shaft, doing it gradually is too slow, and many cultures still place great emphasis on children, especially when it comes to children caring for the elderly. How does an aging populace continue to live comfortably without enough children? And note, seniors tend to be active voters (they have nothing else to do), so telling them they can just go somewhere and die is a nonstarter.

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Why IP telephony is about more than just saving money

Charles 9
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Re: VOIPity VOIP VOIP

Dealing with power failure is simple; the phone companies do it: attach it to a backup supply.

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Linux 3.19 released for your computing pleasure

Charles 9
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Trouble is that a device driver by necessity has to go to the metal (as they are by definition the interface between the software and the hardware). Least privilege in this case IS the kernel, which should be the only thing able to go to the metal. This is why device drivers have always been a sticking point regardless of the OS.

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For pity's sake, you FOOL! DON'T UPGRADE it will make it WORSE

Charles 9
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Re: Alternative Technology

Cheaper to use a mechanical pencil. And since they're recommended in many areas, refill leads are everywhere.

But that poses the issue of what if you need to transmit it electronically in a non-graphical format?

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Charles 9
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Re: bébé

Makes me wonder how compositing works when you head east where you start getting even more accent characters like circles, umlauts, and all those letters with attachments.

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Linux clockpocalypse in 2038 is looming and there's no 'serious plan'

Charles 9
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Re: So basically...

Any device that doesn't require an absolute date simply needs to be coded to be aware of a rollover and recalculate time differences accordingly. A pretty simple yet sane way to check is if the new time has the high bit nut the old time doesn't (assuming they're signed, the new time is now negative). Unless the device literally has to consider time intervals of over 34 years, it should be safe to assume this is a rollover case, which you can still solve with an adjusted calculation.

It only gets complicated when a device must know the absolute time for clock or logging purposes AND relies on it being exactly four bytes long for alignment purposes (such as for disk I/O).

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Charles 9
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Re: filesystem time on a Window box filesystem

In any event, FAT16/32/exFAT should be good for the rest of the 21st century. Its date format is good until 2107 but is only certified to 2099. Since FAT32 gets cumbersome beyond 100GB, which we're already approaching for USB sticks and SD, and exFAT is patent-encumbered, I suspect they'll be superseded well within 85 years. ext4 is good until 2500+, by which time a successor is expected.

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Charles 9
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Re: I will be retired

Tell the bean counters, "Lose a little now, or possibly lose a lot later."

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Charles 9
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Perhaps an alternative would be to separate days and portions of days into two separate 32-bit values, perhaps not as a realtime clock value but perhaps for storage within a filesystem. Say use the absolute Lilian Day as the day variable (its epoch is the day the Gregorian Calendar went into effect: 15 Oct 1582). That gives it four billion days to work with and room to add one or two placeholder values for invalid, unknown, or indeterminate dates. With a signed 32-bit value for time of day, you can still be precise to within 1/10,000 of a second which should be sufficient for most purposes (unless one can point out a general-purpose reason for nanosecond filesystem precision) AND still have room for the odd leap second (by separating day from daypart, leap seconds become easy to insert without trashing the rest of the calendar) while holding the negatives for specialized or placeholder time values.

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Charles 9
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Change may be a constant in IT, but change is discouraged in many other industries, especially heavy industry and embedded systems where the operative phrase is, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Indeed, when IT mixes with other industries like manufacturing, there tends to be culture clashes: for example, software meant to last years controlling hardware meant to last decades.

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Charles 9
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Re: The problem is in applications

I don't think consoles kept a real-time clock until around the 5th Generation (the PSX generation) excepting the Neo-Geo, which was based on arcade boards (some arcade boards kept a clock for recordkeeping purposes).

As for FAT, it's luckier than ext2/3 because of its datestamp format (time is not an issue, it uses two bytes for time-in-day, which is enough to cover an entire day; its only catch is that it's only precise to within two seconds). It dedicates 7 bits to the year and uses 1980 as the epoch. Meaning it won't run afoul of calendar overflow until the end of the year 2107. Beyond that, it will probably be easier to have any VM still emulating an old DOS like this to pretend it's an earlier year.

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Your hard drives were RIDDLED with NSA SPYWARE for YEARS

Charles 9
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Re: As far as the hacking a hard drive's firmware goes...

That's assuming you can boot from USB. Many older systems lack the capacity, and newer ones with EFI may have the ability locked out. I speak from experience.

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Charles 9
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Re: Let us not forget....

Then what are the Russians and Chinese? Chop suey?

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Charles 9
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Re: Wait

If it's not decrypted on the HDD, then it's being done somewhere on the motherboard, and the snoops have ways in there, too. And if you try to avoid them, you just get nailed by another snoop.

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Charles 9
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Re: but the '...w.dll'

It's the Don't Trust Anything Closed-Source attitude. The thought is that any apparent security aid is really a super secret secret backdoor.

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Free Windows 10 could mean the END for Microsoft and the PC biz

Charles 9
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Re: Free OS upgrades - Yawn.

I'll grant you LibreOffice. I use that myself...on Windows since I've found my recent experience on Xubuntu to be rather buggy and incomplete. And no, Steam on Linux still has a ways to go to catch up with the Windows library. Even now, Valve's not insisting that any new entrants have a Mac and Linux version (many are STILL coming out Windows-ONLY, which tells me they lack the pull and the devs still lack the motivation).

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Windows 10 to give passwords the finger and dangle dongles

Charles 9
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Re: eventually...

Even if it's true for more people than you think? If people are constantly looking for alternatives to passwords, there must be a reason behind it. The most likely one: information overload, as in we have to memorize so many passwords that not even the xkcd method can save us from the limits of our brains. Let's face it. Some people just have bad memories, so how can they go about a society like ours where one needs to be able to recall a complicated (something more than a single dictionary word is too complicated for them) password at will without access to any other device or mnemonic?

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HTTP/2 spec gets green light: Faster web or needless complexity?

Charles 9
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"Of course, they can mix up the adverts with legitimate images, but at that point why are you even visiting that website?"

Because it's a niche website that serves exclusive content like old/obscure device drivers from companies that no longer exist or specific genres of media that are off the mainstream. This happens a lot more often than you think. Either that or the Ad-Blocker-Blockers that detect ABP and deny you access until you turn it off, TIOLI.

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Charles 9
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But like I said the proxy offers the big advantage (especially these days) in that it's practically unblockable (block the ad, block the content). I mean, how many of us keep doubleclick on a NoScript Untrusted List or the like. I would think Doubleclick would take a delay if it meant actually getting through. I'm surprised there hasn't been this kind of proxy arranged already on a "must-provide" basis if the webmaster expects any kind of compensation.

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Mozilla's Flash-killer 'Shumway' appears in Firefox nightlies

Charles 9
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Re: >Scylla and Charybdis

"Keep Javascript where it belongs - heavily sandboxed and untrusted."

Recall that one of Java's selling points was the sandbox memory model. Until someone developed the sandbox escape exploit...

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'Net neutrality will turn the internet communist – and make Iran's day'

Charles 9
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Re: The Internet turning Communist?

What if Congress attaches the bill to something that must pass, like a debt ceiling increase? Now if Obama vetoes it, he risks shutting down the government (which the Tea Party would croon about) because Congress could keep making it part and parcel.

"What the monopoly ISP's really, really want is Metered Billing, or Usage Based Billing."

They don't need Congress to do that, but the trouble is that flat fees are too much of a temptation for customers. Look at what happened in the mobile sphere. AT&T and Verizon stubbornly meter their data lines. Then Sprint and T-Mobile start offering unrestricted (I suspect within reason) data lines and they attract defectors (it's one reason I'm still with T-Mobile: that and they use SIMs unlike Sprint).

The primary reason Comcast and the others don't meter yet is because they're afraid some upstart will come along, get around their exclusivity agreements (or convince the municipalities to break them) and attract defectors. It may not sound plausible until you realize one of those potential disruptors is Google, who are courting cities one by one to open up in the name of delicious fiber optics. Not even Comcast would be willing to go 12 rounds with them; it'd be Pyrrhic victory at best case. What they're hoping the FCC will do is block Google; the FCC is the only entity with the power to block the likes of Google. Thing is, last I heard, the FCC is taking a pass on this specific matter.

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Data retention: It seems BORING ... until your TV SPIES ON YOU

Charles 9
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Re: There's a simple rule of thumb

"This issue has to be resolved outside the technical domain, it's a legal issue, what companies are authorized to collect, and how to ensure your able to opt-out, or, far better - to opt-in."

And unfortunately, the legal side is against us. The government want to do the Big Brother thing, and anyone who's against it never gets an honest chance to rise to power. Worse comes to worse, they could decide if they lose everyone loses...

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Charles 9
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Re: "Or is it a very devious arrangement"

"So what?!? What's preventing anyone setting up another wireless router that connects to the "official" one and creates its own, second wireless network applying a firewall to it - then you just connect everything to the second network and ignore the first?!?"

Knowing the countries in question, probably availability of third-party routers. If your ONLY source of Internet equipment is the cableco cartel...

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Critical 0-days in open source? The problem isn't code, it's CASH

Charles 9
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Re: Failure of the value proposition

It had always been my experience that the terms "price" and "cost" are reversed compared to how you use them. As in the true cost, the "opportunity cost" of something is more than just the buying price of the item. You mentioned the support and everything else involved, not to mention the fact you're using this versus an alternative system.

I will agree on the essence of the article, though, that no matter how much you slice it, you need someone to read your code to find those bugs, and since these people need to put bread on the table, cost/benefit analysis is against FOSS unless FOSS can sweeten the deal. Perhaps one of the big stumbling blocks is that very word "Free": as noted frequently here, so ambiguous as to perhaps evoke the wrong image in potential consumers (too much beer, you could say). Perhaps the FOSS movement would be wise to try to change their name to reflect a more precise term behind their cause.

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DARPA's 'Cortical Modem' will plug straight into your BRAIN

Charles 9
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Re: What It Would Be Most Good For

They're actually working on that but from a different angle IIRC. I recall such an approach is better suited to the blindED than to those BORN blind as the latter may lack the nerves to stimulate.

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BBC: SOD the scientific consensus! Look OUT! MEGA TSUNAMI is coming

Charles 9
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Re: So a meteor didn't wipe out the dinosaurs

The several that spring to mind were all land impacts. And the one that did in the dinosaurs, last I checked, ended up near the Gulf of Mexico, closer to the Pacific than the Atlantic but not actually in either body.

That said, I'm surprised the discussion did not mention mega-tsunamis induced by a large meteor impact in the ocean. It's definitely plausible if extremely unlikely. There's also the possibility of hypercanes with an oceanic impact.

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