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James Wester
"Enjoy every sandwich" -- Warren Zevon
"Enjoy every sandwich" -- Warren Zevon

James's posts

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Sharing this not because I think it's particularly clever. I don't think it even works within the confines of a comic. Sharing it only because it seems both vapid and pompous. ("Public Service Announcement?" Drawing a stick figure is a service?)

Yes, it is your right to "show someone the door." Or boycott. Or yell. Or ban. And no one has to listen to anything. The Universe has made the tips of our fingers the perfect size to fit into our ears to shut out sound. If that's your reaction to stuff you don't want to hear, avail yourself of it, by all means. 

And then go draw some stick figures. 

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The "Sharing Economy" involves a lot of non-sharers.

From Kickstarter's TOS:
Kickstarter does not guarantee projects or investigate a creator's ability to complete their project. On Kickstarter, backers (you!) ultimately decide the validity and worthiness of a project by whether they decide to fund it.

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It's not about bubbles and bulbs

A good piece (made better by a quote from me!). There's so much more than Mt. Gox and bubbles. There are some very interesting use cases for an open source, open ledger. I started paying attention to Bitcoin because smart people were paying attention to Bitcoin and I wanted to know why. I'm not suggesting I'm smart, but I am saying that if you're interested at all in what Bitcoin is about -- beyond the discussions of value or even currency -- then read this. It's worth the time. 

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Happy Little Clouds Matter

This is for +Loren Feldman 

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I hate those stupid Facebook quizzes. So here's mine. 

Don't bother answering any questions. The result is always the same.

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Well done.

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Kudos to +Noah Friedman. Short, well-written discussion on what's going on with Net Neutrality. Key graf:

(N)either Comcast nor any other regional provider I'm aware of has ever threatened to deprioritize or block specific businesses for their own gain, or solicit bids to do it on any other business' behalf.
Net Neutrality

I am seeing so much misinformation across my circles lately about the issue of net neutrality.  It's frustrating that everyone is so confused about the facts around an issue that everyone actually agrees on including, I might add, the ISPs that everyone is currently railing against.

Let's start with the recent court decision striking down the FCC's new regulations.

First of all, this doesn't "open the door" for anything.  There never was any door.  The Internet has been unregulated since the day the NSF backbone was decommissioned in the early 90s and the american backbone handed over to private entities.

The FCC attempted to impose new rules and was told it couldn't do it that way.  Why did the court do this?  Net neutrality seems like a good idea, right?

Well for starters, the FCC itself specifically exempted broadband operators from common carrier requirements in the past.  Now they want to regulate them as if they were a common carrier without declaring them as such.  The court provided the correct guidance to the FCC here: make up your mind.  Do not create another regulatory regime when an existing one will suffice.

Fair enough.  Now there is a call to re-declare broadband providers as common carriers.

Is that a good idea?  I don't know.  We've never needed it before, and what's changed?  As far as I can tell, absolutely nothing.  (If you ask me, I would sooner lift the regional monopoly protections that "last-mile" ISPs enjoy in most places around the country.  I'm pretty happy with my Comcast cable internet service—I'm a business subscriber—but I'm sure they would try even harder if I had any other alternative where I live.  Let's start with removing some of the government oversight we already have that limits consumer choices before we impose even more regulatory burden on the system.  Let's see if that works for a while, maybe?)

As for the most oft-cited example of impending non-neutrality I read about: the spar between Comcast and Netflix.  Here's some brief context:

Comcast and Netflix are competing media providers, but their disagreement last year nothing to do with that.  The problem wasn't directly between Comcast and Netflix at all.  It was a problem between Comcast and Level3, another backbone ISP with whom they have a "peering agreement", i.e. an agreement to carry a roughly equal balance of each others' customers traffic without complex negotiation of fees, quotas, and bandwidth caps.  That's the stuff they normally negotiate with their actual customers, including you and me.

Those peering agreements are absolutely vital to the smooth operation of the internet, and they have been negotiated and maintained in good faith ever since the aforementioned retirement of the NSFnet.

Because Netflix had pipes directly to Level3, but not to Comcast, and Netflix generates so much traffic, it means that Comcast was carrying substantially more traffic on behalf of Level3's customer (Netflix) than Level3 was carrying on behalf of theirs.  This threatens their peering agreement, and means that Comcast and Level3 must negotiate a non-equitable transfer agreement (bad for the stability of the internet overall) and/or raise fees of their own customers.  Neither is a good outcome for end users, although I'd say the higher customer fees are preferable to a fractured internet.

Here's what should have happened: Netflix should have negotiated pipes directly with Comcast to relieve transit point load, since so many of their customers are Comcast customers.  It not only would improve the service for Netflix's comcast customers, but it would provide additional redundancy.  Almost all big companies have multiple pipes to the internet through different ISPs just to avoid a single ISP's intermittent service problems, if not to provide better latency and throughput to their customers scattered throughout the internet.

This is the way the internet has always operated.  Netflix was solely at fault here for not playing by the widely accepted rules, and they were the ones risking its stability.

In summary, neither Comcast nor any other regional provider I'm aware of has ever threatened to deprioritize or block specific businesses for their own gain, or solicit bids to do it on any other business' behalf.

And since that's the heart of Net Neutrality, I think there's been more cry of the sky falling than is warranted here.  What we need is more comprehension of how the Internet already works, not a fix for something that isn't broken.

Update Point of correction (thanks +Ron Echeverri): Netflix doesn't operate its own pipes for content delivery.  Amazon manages that process on their behalf by deploying CDN caching proxies, but they are not balanced across the major ISPs.  There is a  technical solution to this problem but whose responsibility that is ultimately depends on the specifics of private contracts; I don't have any idea.

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Some interesting predictions here. 

After discussions this week with people into bitcoin, along with some discussions regarding prediction no. 7, I've decided to opt out of debates with people who see bitcoin, or digital currencies at least, as a "scam' or a "bubble." Life's too short. 
There was a lot of speculation and excitement about Bitcoin in 2013. A good way to start 2014 is with a list of predictions for Bitcoin. These predictions are based on growth patterns of similar networks, the traction in various ecosystem activities last year, and conversations with various Bitcoin enthusiasts.

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Brooklyn Bridge

I don't post pics very often. I'll let the bad photographers I know post their stuff instead. But I had a second to walk on the Brooklyn Bridge yesterday going to a meeting and snapped this one. 

A lot of fog in the city yesterday so the bridge just kind of floated into the sky. It was very pretty. I couldn't quite capture what it was like to just float in the fog once both sides were obscured. (I tried to do a panoramic shot but it didn't come out right.)

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The Google-is -always -wrong-Crowd

I've admitted to being an unabashed Google fan, which isn't to say I think everything they do is good. (I miss you, Google Reader.) But some day, if Google cures cancer, Mashable will post something about how Google is screwing it up.

This big problem that Mashable is complaining about here was solved in 30 seconds. I fixed it after Google sent me an email explaining how to turn it off. Yup, that's pretty dastardly of them: sending me an email explaining in detail the feature they've added and then telling me how to opt out. EVIL!
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