Tech at Night: This is why we need the NSA

On September 7, 2014, in General, by Neil Stevens
Tech at Night

We need the NSA. I know the new hotness is following after Rand Paul’s inane blathering, and finding reasons to complain about the NSA. But rather than old and busted, the NSA is actually an important thing to have and to defend.

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Tech at Night: Your phone calls and texts were never secure.

On September 4, 2014, in General, by Neil Stevens
Tech at Night

Sometimes, we forget just how little privacy we have against a determined attacker. So often we rely just on the fact that we believe our communications are of so little importance, that nobody will take the effort to try to snoop on us.

So once in a while we get concerned, when we hear about some sort of mass snooping, that means no extra effort has to be engaged to read our own individual, personal data. Then we want to assign blame, as though this mass snooping caused our lack of privacy.

We need to fix this muddled thinking and understand the limits of our privacy.

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Tech at Night: Don’t Break the Net

On August 31, 2014, in General, by Neil Stevens
Tech at Night

Don’t break the net by imposing a new, radical regulatory scheme. Internet access should not be a public utility. It has nothing to do with Net Neutrality. It would kill investment and expansion of high speed services to more people. More regulations hurt the little guy more than the big guy. Regulations hinder competition. Fast lanes become more likely. Netflix is just playing games to get a competitive advantage just like every other lobbying business. And once this gets in, FCC will go all out, the same way it always does.

This is a good site, covering a number of myths about the proposed Title II Reclassification, a dramatic step the radicals are pushing for the FCC to do, basically overturning a key concept of the bipartisan Telecommunications Act, and re-regulating the Internet as a phone service. It’s a terrible idea.

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Tech at Night: E-Cigarettes and the WHO Cargo Cult

On August 28, 2014, in General, by Neil Stevens
Tech at Night

Richard Feynman liked to tell the story of an island in Melanesia that had an allied airbase during World War II. Cargo planes would regularly land during the war, bringing supply that the locals were amazed at, and were appreciative to have. However when the war was over, the cargo planes stopped coming, and the troops left.

So what the locals did was to do their best to dress up like the allied soldiers, and go through the motions that they observed happening when a cargo plane would land. This became known as the cargo cult, as they believed that by taking these actions, they could summon a cargo plane bringing its bounty.

Feynman liked to compare bad science with the cargo cults: all dressed up, going through he motions, and missing the point entirely.

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Tech at Night

Anarchy is back. The last time anarchy was a noticeable political movement in the world, bomb throwing anarchists were killing heads of state and government leaders, as part of their scheme to take the whole system down, and impose socialist rule. Of course they claimed socialist rule didn’t really count as rule, because ideology.

Well, these days world leaders are much better protected, so instead the anarchists are going after websites and just trying to disrupt, particularly online. We must be mindful of this, create cybersecurity policies that let government and industry share information (through bills like CISA), and make sure to investigate and prosecute these crimes.

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Tech at Night

Even as Democrats get desperate that they’re losing the public debate on Net Neutrality, the ideological extreme left is trying to merge Net Neutrality and a second, separate debate. They want FCC unilaterally to redefine ISPs not as information services, but as common carriers like phone companies, which are covered under Title II of the Communications Act. They want to move ISPs to a much heavier regulatory scheme. They want to regulate the Internet.

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Tech at Night: Thursday Morning Leftist Insanity Edition

On August 21, 2014, in General, by Neil Stevens
Tech at Night

Public Knowledge, one of the extreme leftists organizations pushing for socialized Internet, with Net Neutrality as the latest wedge to grow government, has been at this a while. Their former President, Gigi Sohn, even left to go work at the FCC to fight for extremism from within. And now we find out just how extreme they are.

Harold Feld, their Senior Vice President and Legal Director, has decided publicly to make fun of critics of the plan they support for government regulation of the Internet, Title II Reclassification of Internet services as … suddenly no longer information services for some reason. He decided to bring up ebola, even as right now people are actually dying of it, and it’s a fear people are actually having right now. Alinskyite tactics here, folks. Just push emotional buttons rather than engage on the issues.

Tech at Night: Monday roundup

On August 19, 2014, in General, by Neil Stevens
Tech at Night

Yeah, I was all set to do a regular Tech at Night tonight. Honest. Really. But something came up, and I haven’t even started putting words to WordPress until 2:55 am as I write this. I’m sorry.

On the plus side, I reached my goal in a hobby. I beat Zelda 2 in under 19 minutes, just 4 and a half seconds off of the world record. I’ll keep trying for the record but cutting my best time from 19:13 to 18:57 made me very happy tonight, and I had a lot of video processing work to do to publish the run.

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Tech at Night

This is going to be quick tonight, but I have an important point to make. Our wired Internet is a lot better than critics make it out to be in this country, when you adjust for population density. Naturally no matter how good it is, we still want it to improve over time. If we want that to happen, we need to create incentives for investment.

And it’s basic economics: If you want to incentivize ISPs to increase your data rates, then you want to give them an economic incentive to get you as many bits as possible: It’s time to return to metered Internet access. Pay for what you use.

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Tech at Night

So after Republicans went ahead and avoided major Retransmission Consent reform in the satellite TV reauthorization bill, it turns out the Senate is going to take its own stab at reform.

You see, right now the way that local broadcasters and local cable companies make deals is governed by a set of government mandates called the Retransmission Consent framework. This framework heavily favors broadcasters, on purpose, as an attempt to pick winners and losers in government.

So barring a free market option, we have to decide whether the new option is more or less distorting of the market. I think I support the LOCAL CHOICE plan by Jay Rockefeller and John Thune.

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