Category Archives: Personal

Loss of net neutrality? Ain’t gonna happen.

Anyone with half a brain, including the telcos, should quickly see that mucking with net neutrality is bad for business.

The graphic posted to Reddit that shows tiered web site access a la cable channels being the most (scarily) obvious. I’ll link to the graphic itself for convenience (but pardon for any broken links a few years from now):

Reddit-source speculative tiered access from Hell.

Let’s noodle around with the implications of that for a minute…

First, I have to wonder if this is a result, be it direct or otherwise, of privatization. The telephone system was basically built after World War II with the Rural Electrification Act. The telephone system, even though managed by commercial organizations, was still, at its core a public utility ultimately governed under FCC Title II. Broadband—which I define here as coax, fiber optic, ISDN, Verizon FiOS, Comcast, not phones—was not implemented by any such legislation near as I can tell. While the telcos may have gotten tax breaks and aid from the state and federal levels to help lay down cable, I don’t remember there being any legislation pushing out broadband to every part of the country for the Common Good. So, their network, their rules. Everyone needs to be taking notes on this if they aren’t already. But, at what point does a resource need to be so ubiquitous that it ought to fall under Title II? Take away the Internet wholesale out of the economy and what would happen next? Would the impact on the economy be dramatic enough to establish net neutrality in legislation even outside of Title II? I think these are fair questions.

Second, I can’t imagine that any company doing business on the web, in whole or in part, would be pleased in any way with the telcos holding court over what gets through simply because a customer can or cannot (or unwilling to) pay an extra amount on the bill. Even those websites that offer free services through advertising can’t be happy with this if all of a sudden there was even a sudden 10—nay, 5%—drop in ad revenue simply because their site is successful enough to be in a top tier. The forces of Google, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon combined would be too epic against Verizon, Comcast, Time Warner, Cox, and others of their ilk to even affordable to fight, not to mention every Chamber of Commerce in existence.

Third, I don’t see anything like the tiered pricing being manageable in any way. The domain space is massively huge; 112 million in .com alone. To throttle a list of even 1% of that is 1.12 million domains. There is not a workforce on this planet that can take on that task. The Reddit graphic lists less than 60. Granted, they are all heavy hitters, but then would the telcos then hire a sales staff to partner websites? How would such a deal be pitched to websites that is even remotely appealing? This has the same funky smell of those deals the NFL makes with cities where the city has to buy up any unsold tickets in the stadium the city built (and not even to avoid a broadcast blackout of the home game). Who would agree to such nonsense?

I can’t believe we’re even having this conversation, but I suppose we need to have it to reason out what is right and what is just pragmatically stupid. There are already some interesting responses that have come to light, notably those noted below, which are reporting tools of distributed/streamed video quality by ISP:

These are a great way to call attention to the issue of net neutrality in a way that has direct impact to the user. And away we go…

UPDATE: Just to be clear, none of this means that I think we shouldn’t bother fighting for net neutrality. I feel quite the contrary, actually, and that we should fight for it just so we don’t have the experience anything like tiered web access other than speed. The hit to the economy is just unreasonable. What I am trying to express here is that I don’t necessarily agree with the doomsayers that the Internet’s utility will be diminished to almost nothing. The telcos are already throttling certain traffic as the above noted websites imply, and the recent ruling does compel the telcos to reveal what kind of traffic throttling they will be utilizing. Net neutrality is important to everyone, but we are nowhere near “all is lost.”

The Federalist: The Death of Expertise

The death of expertise is a rejection not only of knowledge, but of the ways in which we gain knowledge and learn about things. Fundamentally, it’s a rejection of science and rationality, which are the foundations of Western civilization itself. Yes, I said “Western civilization”: that paternalistic, racist, ethnocentric approach to knowledge that created the nuclear bomb, the Edsel, and New Coke, but which also keeps diabetics alive, lands mammoth airliners in the dark, and writes documents like the Charter of the United Nations.
The Federalist: The Death of Expertise

About a year ago, I took a class that explored a number of issues related to this very topic, and I look forward to taking a similar class next year.

“And in truth, I’ve never known a man worth his salt who, in the long run, deep down in his heart, didn’t appreciate the grind, the discipline. The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather… a lack of will.”
Vince Lombardi

Ars Technica: Nintendo president hints at exploring smartphone gaming support

“We are thinking about a new business structure,” Iwata told the press, according to a Bloomberg News report. “Given the expansion of smart devices, we are naturally studying how smart devices can be used to grow the game-player business. It’s not as simple as enabling Mario to move on a smartphone.”

“We cannot continue a business without winning,” he continued. “We must take a skeptical approach [to] whether we can still simply make game players, offer them in the same way as in the past for 20,000 yen or 30,000 yen, and sell titles for a couple of thousand yen each.”
Ars Technica: Nintendo president hints at exploring smartphone gaming support

I’m willing to bet dollars to donuts that Nintendo has some skunkworks deep in the heart of headquarters where Mario, Zelda, and their colleagues are running freely on iOS and Android, if not also on desktops, waiting and figuring out the best way to roll it out. This would be just like the rumor I had read ages ago that Apple has most incarnations of Mac OS running on Intel chips the entire time they were manufacturing with PowerPC chips. To see the benefit of doing so is not hard.

If Zelda came to iOS I would snap that up in a second. My Wii has barely been touched since I started school, there have been three new consoles since I started, and I still have a long way to go. I really hope they are moving in this direction, though I can also understand the hesitancy of handing over 30% of revenue to Apple.

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumble puppy.
onthepathofknowledge.wordpress.com: Amusing ourselves to death

Two of my favorite books together in one. It’s like a literary peanut butter cup. I haven’t read this book, but I am going to add it to my list based on this quote alone.

Thanks, HP, for reminding me why I have gone paperless.

I would like to thank Hewlett-Packard and their LaserJet line of printers, particularly the M1217nfw, for reminding me why I have gone all but entirely paperless, leaving what little paper I utilize left as not being generated by myself.

I am not stupid but troubleshooting anything on this pile of plastic crap makes me feel that way. Trying to get their printer to work with Mac OS 10.9 Mavericks has been a pointless exercise in petty frustration. This used to be easy: download a zip file, unzip, install, plug in the printer, and boom! Printing. Instead, they wholly rely on Apple to distribute drivers—there is no direct link to an archive to be found anywhere; the printer’s internal webpage does a spectacular job confounding even the most advanced of browsers; none of the instructions on their support page actually matches reality. It’s almost as if the people writing the software, those writing the documentation, and those building the support pages don’t actually talk to each other. Nothing has ever worked as advertised with this printer. The only computer I can get to talk to this printer is a six year old MacBook, and that’s when it is plugged in via USB. I am better off having all my documents on my phone or tablet at this point. What a waste of money. Forget going paperless to be green; I’ll just go paperless out of spite.

UPDATE: After looking into this further, part of my problem appears to be that in trying to acquire the software for my work laptop I see that my company’s IT department redirects (nay, hijacks) the Software Update URL to an internal server. But this redirect is known to be buggy in Mavericks so the URL fails (in fact the address cannot be resolved at all so something else is going on. A support ticket has been submitted). I’m still trying to sort out how to get around this and just go direct to Apple, though it would appear that despite my resetting the URL in defaults, I will need to go to my IT department for a fix. But I don’t blame my IT department. My angst is still pointed to HP for not giving links to their drivers and instead simply telling people to go to Apple. Not giving people a back up plan is lame.

All I want to do is print two (2!) lousy pieces of paper, and here is one hell of a mess trying to do just that.