May 16

Yeah

Yeah, this is about how good I was at picking up hints when I was younger.

My brain just doesn’t operate that way. I can’t speak for everyone, but in my experience a lot of men’s brains don’t, especially those who are attempting not to be presumptuous of women’s consent. (Which is a good thing to do and to be, I might add, before any of the “poor reading comprehension” tribe comes out of the woodwork.)

So it’s a bit of a no-win situation: either you have to somehow magically know these social cues (that no one teaches you), but if you fail at doing so then you are either made fun of or demonized.

I know, I know, it makes me a terrible person and so so evil, but I had and have sympathy for the Elevatorgate guy because when I ask someone if they want coffee, I mean, “Would you like some coffee?” Though I never would’ve asked anyone in an elevator. That I think he was wrong about, completely.

It wasn’t until years (years!) later that I figured out that a female friend of mine wasn’t just coming around to “listen to music.”

She was probably equally confused about why I never even attempted to kiss her or anything.

It was because I had no fucking clue. None.

And there is no way to win even talking about this, because doing so makes me a “nice guy” or a potential rapist, but ask me if I give a fuck.

Answer: no. No I do not.

I don’t think men’s problems or concerns should be at the top of anyone’s lists of problems to solve. But pretending that the world can be mended by fixing only one set or side of problems is just daft, and wrong.

May 15

How?

It would take me roughly 5-10 minutes to type this sentence on my phone.

How is it even possible to type so quickly on a phone?

On my old Blackberry, I could’ve maybe done that sentence in 45 seconds or so, but on the new phones with no real keyboards, typing is very very slow for me and always will be.

(Note: I can type 90-120 wpm on a regular computer keyboard, and am a touch typist.)

May 15

Piketty

I haven’t said much about Piketty’s Capital because I haven’t read the book, and probably don’t intend to.

The r > g hypothesis is almost certainly true, as Piketty is just expanding on research done by other scholars that I have read.

What’s more interesting to me is that r > g seems to me to actually create the conditions for its destruction (inequality leading to eventual war, etc.)

I’d like to see more research on that. I would definitely read that.

May 15

Data

Right now, Comcast has a 300GB data cap in many places. It’s also planning to roll data caps out everywhere.

The word is that the cap will eventually rise to 500GB per month. Seems generous, right?

Not really. 4K video is coming. (Actually, it’s already here. Netflix streams some items in 4K already.)

Doing some basic math, a 4K video stream will eat 20 to 30 GB an hour

Say you have three family members or roommates who stream 5 movies a month each – not an unreasonable amount. (I have known people who watch 20-40 movies a month.)

So three people watching five 4K movies a month on Netflix == 750GB+. More than 250GB over the data cap set by Comcast. And that’s assuming they do nothing else at all with their connections. No online backups (which consume massive amounts of bandwidth). No web browsing. No connecting to work. No transferring photos. No YouTube. Etc.

If for some reason you think that 4K is some futuristic technology that no one will ever use – well, I remember when the same thing was being said about 1080p not all that long ago.

And now everyone nearly has a 1080p capable TV or monitor.

Comcast’s data caps are ridiculously low, and in fact should not exist at all. In my opinion, data caps are just as large a threat to the internet as “fast lanes” and should be opposed everywhere they crop up.

May 14

Another thing

Data caps.

ISPs claim these are enforced to prevent their networks from getting overloaded. But they actually do nothing to prevent network overloading at all.

The reason is that invariably networks get over-utilized at peak times. Even if everyone has a 50GB data cap, if people decide they all want to watch Netflix at 7PM, then the network is overloaded even if not one single person goes over their cap ever. You’d have to make the caps pretty damn small to make this not the case (probably 2GB or less with as oversubscribed as the ISPs have allowed their networks to get), to encourage people just not to use their connections at all.

Bandwidth is fundamentally different than water, or even electric service. The ISPs want to compare it to these things, but it’s nothing like either of them. You can’t save a bucket of bandwidth and use it later. And there is no “bandwidth plant” producing bandwidth as there is with electricity.

These analogies are designed to make you believe there is a shortage of capacity, when in reality there is an abundance and it is getting cheaper all the time.

But don’t believe me (even though I have 15 years of first-hand experience with it), look at the numbers themselves.

TWC’s revenues from Internet access have soared in the last few years, surging from $2.7 billion in 2006 to $4.5 billion in 2009. Customer numbers have grown, too, from 7.6 million in 2007 to 8.9 million in 2009.

But this growth doesn’t translate into higher bandwidth costs for the company; in fact, bandwidth costs have dropped. TWC spent $164 million on data contracts in 2007, but only $132 million in 2009.

And that’s from 2010. Bandwidth costs since then have done nothing but drop by about the same percentage amount.

Bandwidth caps are designed for two purposes.

The first is just to rake in more money for the ISP however possible.

The second is to eliminate competition by creating “bandwidth anxiety” by people worrying that they might go over and thus not watching or downloading something, and instead nudging them to decide to watch it on the cable provider’s un-capped network.

Bandwidth caps do not help with network capacity. No matter what the ISPs claim or tell you, they just don’t. And bandwidth is not like water or electricity. Nothing at all like them in any meaningful way. Allowing those analogies to dominate the conversation allows the ISPs to win.

Which they will anyway, but I guess I am all about fighting the long defeat.

May 13

Banded wrongness

Reading people write about something that they know little about but who don’t realize how little they know is always painful.

I’m not going to talk about all of these “points” – who has the time – but I’ll hit a few of the major ones.

Here’s the problem: ISPs like Comcast and Time Warner want to charge additional fees to companies like Netflix and Google that use a lot of bandwidth.

This is not how it works. Netflix and Google only send traffic to an ISP when that ISPs customer requests it (which Kevin later states, but seems not to understand what that means fully). The only reason any bits at all flow from Google or Netflix to Comcast is because someone on Comcast’s network clicked on or opened a Google page or visited Netflix.

Comcast’s customers have already paid for this bandwidth when they purchased a certain amount of connectivity a month from Comcast. This is not some revolutionary change. This is how the internet is designed and is how it has always worked. Again, as some people seem to miss this point, Comcast’s customers have already paid for this bandwidth, and on their end, Netflix has already paid for it, too.

Kevin’s misapprehensions and incomprehension shows how effective ISP propaganda has been that a relatively smart person like him has been so misled and deluded about basic facts.

This isn’t a matter of opinion. There are no opinions here. This is just history, and network engineering.

The obvious solution here is also an old one: since end users are the ones requesting the bits, charge them for bandwidth.

The end users are already getting charged – in fact overcharged – for bandwidth. Most now have onerous bandwidth caps, too. This is already happening. Does Kevin think users should be charged more for bandwidth than they currently are, when cable company profits are already at record highs and US users are charged far more for less bandwidth than most other countries in the world?

Not very progressive, really.

The rest of the piece isn’t very good, either, but also isn’t very quotable. However it seems to labor under the delusion that there is some shortage of bandwidth in the US. There is not. This is just an attempt to eliminate competition from Netflix and to squeeze out more profits however possible.

In reality with some very small ISP upgrades, in almost all cases less than a few hundred thousand dollars for millions of customers, all of these Netflix bandwidth “problems” would magically vanish. Just as when Netflix was extorted by Comcast and the streaming speeds suddenly improved. Trust me, no one was running cable down the street in the middle of the night. All Comcast did was turn up another port on a router somewhere.

Again, I am always shocked at how effective propaganda is. This is another example of it. Kevin doesn’t really understand how the internet works, what the issues are, or what is already occurring, or any of the technology at all.

The corporations have screamed loudly and long enough that even someone relatively on top of things and aware of the issues to some extent is nearly completely operating in the framework that ISPs wish him to. The same is true of most of the commenters on the post. There are so uninformed or poorly informed that it is almost physically painful to read their drivel.

There truly is no hope, really.

May 05

Scumbags

What I can’t understand about the actions of the senior crew of the Korean ferry involved in the recent disaster is that they had to know that what they did would be visible to the entire world.

I can understand people doing despicable things in private. I don’t condone, of course, but I understand.

But doing something in public, where people will be talking about how loathsome you are in a hundred years?

That I just can’t make sense of at all.

May 05

Tech

I don’t think I would’ve gotten into tech, if I were starting out today.

Too much is being taken away, removed to make it idiot-proof.

When I started, I could say, “I wonder if I can….?” And then try it. No DRM, no missing features, nothing taken away.

Today, you can’t really ask that question, because the answer is “no.” No, you can’t try it, can’t get to it, can’t access it.

The example I’m thinking of at the moment is the terrible idea that Google is experimenting with of removing the URL from Chrome. This of course truly has nothing at all to do with security and helping the user, but instead is all about attempting to go back to the old AOL keywords concept; in other words, another way for them to seize more control of the internet if they can.

Anyway, even if you believe Google’s excuses for this “feature,” there is no way to idiot-proof a computer, not a computer with any power, anyway. This commenter says it nicely.

Unless it’s in red, has a klaxon attached to it and flashes enough to give you a seizure either the majority or a very large minority of your users will ignore it.

I’ve worked with regular users for over 15 years now. This is true. Most do not understand anything of what they are looking at when they use a machine, nor do they even understand why they should understand something.

Attempting to take away all features that a power user relies on will not help the regular user. It will only hurt the power user.

I’d say general purpose computers are too complex for about 85% of people, and always will be. Let’s just leave it that way.

Those who don’t need a real computer can use a tablet. Much easier than crippling every piece of useful software in the world.