Read This

Josh Marshall at TPM has a post about a WP article on “network neutrality“. Go read it.

Done? Alright, now imagine that you dial the 1-800 number of your favorite mail order clothing company and it takes 400 rings before it connects. You give up long before that, grab the competitors catalog off the end table and call their 1-800 number. It connects without a full ring. Wow, the competitor must have much better service, right? Nope, they just paid your phone company a fee to be considered the “perferred” vendor over the other. (I know this isn’t feasible in how the phone system really works, but the analogy sounds good.)

This is essentially what the backbone Internet providers are proposing as a new revenue source, charging bigger customers for “preferred” status. The backbone providers claim that they don’t get any more money for higher bandwidth customers. If that’s true, the providers need to fix their funding model and charging structure, not start looking for new ways to suck more money from successful companies that happen to have large piles of market capitalization whose entire business models rely on quick site response times.

Or, swing all the way to the market forces side of the argument and say this is a cost of doing business and a free market economy establishing appropriate charges.


The last 2 days we’ve been upgrading our Banner shadow system to not quite the most recent version available. The accounting department has a support contract with RSM McGladrey, so we’ve had an onsite consultant and a technical consultant via a remote access.
Initially, the onsite consultant seemed to be nothing more than the guy with the phone number to the tech. The tech was excellent, though some of his MS SQL knowledge was limited to just what he needed to do the job, mostly GUI, little scripting. He was excellent and well prepared.
The onsite guy came into his own once we got the clients upgraded. He has real world experience using the software and the accounting techs were listening closely for tips.
Overall, excellent experience.

Youth tobacco possesion

A few of my friends in Hoopeston and I were just discussing this sometime in the last couple of months. Now the Champaign city council is considering an ordinance to make tobacco possesion by anyone 17 and under a violation with a $145 fine. There are some really quality, bickering quotes to be had. First up, the CU Smokefree Alliance:

The CU Smokefree Alliance, which has led the fight for a smoking ban in public places in Champaign-Urbana, also will not support the proposed ordinance, according to spokesman Matt Varble.
The alliance believes the proposal “is a bad idea whose time has not come,” Varble wrote in a news release.
“It appears that the mayor is simply pretending to be anti-tobacco in a way that blames our youth for tobacco problems when, in fact, the problem is citywide and spans beyond youth possession,” Varble said.
The best way for underage youths to learn not to smoke “is for adults to stop smoking in public places,” he said.
“A focus solely on youth possessing cigarettes says smoking is wrong for kids, but just fine once you reach 18 and beyond,” Varble wrote. “It’s not.”

A “bad idea whose time has not come”? Aren’t you just trying to reduce the overall number of smokers and hence the people that die of tobacco related causes? Or not.
Next up, a quote from a council member:

Council member Giraldo Rosales, who strongly supported a smoking ban in restaurants and bars, said he won’t support the mayor’s proposal.
“They bring out the health issue, but when we wanted to ban smoking in restaurants and bars, it wasn’t a health issue,” Rosales said.
“To me, we need a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance that includes restaurants and bars and youth … We’ve had no community input. For the mayor to come up with this is ridiculous.”

Why do we need an all encompassing, comprehensive ordinance that serves your political needs when this will probably do just about as much, if not more, to curb teen smoking as banning smoking in public places? Hit them in the pocketbooks and move on. Or, keep arguing to make it look like you are more anti-tobacco than the mayor when, here in the real world, you both know that neither one of these proposals will pass as is.

The details of our discussion are pretty hazy, but I’m fairly certain we agreed on a higher fine than that and some level of forced parent involvement in the process. Probably not perfect either, but we are just a group of friends chatting over dinner.

The Baby Owner’s Manual

My wife got me The Baby Owner’s Manual for a Christmas present. I have to agree with the commenters on Parent Hacks that it is an excellent book for geek parent to be. With chapter titles like “Crying: Troubleshooting the Baby’s Audio Cues” and “Feeding: Understanding the Baby’s Power Supply”, how can a book not be worth reading?
I will admit that it seems to have the same effect as most parenting classes: reinforcement of existing common sense. But there are some nuggets of knowledge that you might not find in other places. Also, the index uses terms that most geeks can relate to.