Bell backtracks on UBB, a bit

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UBB is Dead. Long Live UBB.  This sounds mostly positive, although not as far as the people who want low-cost flat-rate unlimited internet would like.  The rate of $200/TB ($0.2/GB) sounds a lot more appealing (and revealing) than the rates Bell has suggested previously, which was $2/GB.

As I’m sure you can imagine, given my recent posts on the subject here and here, this comment on the article above drove me nuts:

“Why do they insist on billing for the amount of data you transfer? Don’t they pay only for the throughput capacity of their connections?”

They insist on billing for it because it’s not a free, unlimited, resource!   These same people should start lobbying government for low-cost fixed-rate unlimited water and electricity too.  If I take one extra drop of water, that should cost basically nothing, right?  Therefore, can’t I take as much as I want for nothing?  Sounds dumb when you use that argument on something like water or electricity, but for some reason not when some people discuss data transfer.

I happened to post a reply on that first link above:

“Data transfer is not free. There is a significant difference in the costs for infrastructure, monitoring and upkeep for a data center that can handle transfers of 100 TB/day versus 1 TB/day, above and beyond just the bigger pipe. The cost to transfer one extra byte is typically considered to be zero, but that’s actually false – it’s so small we round it to zero. But, that incorrectly leads people to assume that any number of extra bytes costs an extra zero, which is false.”

Beach Fossils

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I’ve been listening to the Beach Fossils a lot since their self-titled album came out about a year ago.  It’s definitely one of the best albums I’ve heard in years.  This Pitchfork review sums it up, and has a link to listen to the song Youth (one of the best on the album).

Anyways, the real reason I’m posting this is because I ran across a funny comment on this video of them playing at SXSW 2010:

“god i hate hipsters but i fucking love their music”


Why do people think data transfer is free?


In this article on the politics of UBB, I saw this quote from the Liberal party:

“We fundamentally disagree with the Commission’s description of the Internet as analogous to a utility or the provision of electricity or water. Electricity and water are both limited resources. The transfer of electricity and water are limited both by supply of the good and size of the pipe. Data over the Internet however, is unlimited. While the size of the pipe may be constrained, the amount of data is not. A more appropriate analogy is a highway, in this case an information highway.”

The only thing that’s worse about people who don’t know about technology trying to talk like they do is people who don’t know about technology trying to set policy on it.

Even looking at their supposed analogy – a highway – this is still ridiculous.  It costs significantly more to run and maintain an 8-lane highway that handles 1 million cars a day compared to 1 thousand, right?  Maintenance costs, policing, monitoring, etc.  It’s not free to add more cars once the road is built.  The cost to add one more car can probably be considered to be zero (which isn’t exactly true – we’re rounding it to zero), which I think is why people incorrectly assume you can add any number of cars for free.

The same is true for data transmission.  The infrastructure and costs associated with increasing data capacity at a data center aren’t just the fixed cost of adding more lines.  Hardware needs upgraded and maintenance and monitoring all go up.  Again, transferring 1 more byte is free.  Transferring 100 more terabytes isn’t free.

I still think some form of UBB is fine and inevitable (almost all of us already have it) but the rates are way too high, especially those proposed by the CRTC to charge resellers.  They proposed charging $2/GB and I’m sure it doesn’t cost Bell anywhere close to that to move a GB, all costs considered.

Plant-based plastics starting to take off for bottling

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Pepsi bottles: no more plastic – the title is a bit misleading, as they’re just testing this.

Anyways, this sounds interesting, but I’m also somewhat curious on the overall cost/benefit of this. We’ve heard that using Ethanol for fuel has ended up causing food shortages around the world, so what about using plant material for plastic? The article notes that they may be using plant-based wastes, and if so I assume that’s good.

Marriage, really?

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I like this:

Unlimited downloads would make digital music more appealing

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I’ve written about my concerns with purchasing music digitally a few times before.  Basically, my concern is that by purchasing the right to download a track only once or a limited number of times, your usage right are severely limited.  It’s almost like leasing something rather than buying, since apparently you haven’t bought the rights to use the content.  (Let’s not even get into how horrible the ebook industry is – same limited rights but they still charge as much as the physical book.  At least music is cheaper.)

This finally looks like some good news: Apple Negotiating Unlimited Usage of Music Downloads.  I’d be more likely to purchase music digitally if this goes through.  The fear of Apple going out of business and me losing my music, before having a chance to make sure I have it all backed up, would be pretty small.

I’m sure this is a step towards Apple’s attempt to move iTunes into the “cloud”.

Bill Murray interview by Howard Stern

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I’ve posted about Bill Murray here before and I just ran across this: Bill Murray Talks on Howard Stern Show.

I could care less about most celebrities, but there are a few really interesting people, like Bill Murray, that I like hearing about.  I think it’s mostly because he’s interesting for reasons other than being famous, or at least not just that, because he does seem to use his fame to do odd/quirky things.