Friday, March 6, 2015

Bioware, PVP this about explains it

Net Neutrality and me.

So many people barking about the FCC, Net Neutrality and the Internet Freedom Act that makes it impossible to tell what is really going on.

Very few people read the regulations in their entirety (including myself) except for ISP's, their lawyers and the people that wrote them.

Some of us read enough to know that the FCC's regulations may (some day) fundamentally change how we as consumers get and use the Internet especially those services that use a lot of bandwidth ( NetFlix, Hulu,etc... )

Another portion of people have read the 5 page document highlighting the 300sum pages which does a fair job (found here )

Most of the population that are barking on this only go what the others are saying and is often just not true.

First the ISPs complaint.

They should be able to manage and use their network that they laid down and spent enormous amounts of money on how they choose.  If that means charging Netflix and extra 10% for their bloated videos that is saturating the network at peak times then that should be fine.  If that means blocking malicious packets from entering its network and protecting its users that should be fine.  If it means  slowing down Netflix during peak times so that the rest of its users can check their email in a reasonable fashion that should be fine.

That is not totally unreasonable.  companies like Comcast and Verizon spent Billions on Billions of us dollars to build the network they have and also spend billions to maintain it.  They might be very profitable companies but they also need to stay that way in order to provide and upgrade services in the future.

The Consumer complaint.

Pretty much boils down we want what we pay for.  We don't want to pay more for Netflix because Comcast wants to charge Netflix a little more for their data.  We want to get the things we want on the service we pay for and not have to worry it will be blocked.  Not really unreasonable.

What the highlight document says

  • ISP's cannot charge content providers extra for higher priority data.
  • ISP's cannot "UNREASONABLY" slow data based on its type 
  • ISPs cannot block access to any legal and non-harmful data.
  • ISP's still CAN prioritize data in order to maintain their network.
  • ISPs must be more transparent on what they are blocking and prioritizing.
  • And of course Title II.

For example.  During peak times Comcast can still slow down video feeds to make sure other services work properly.  Pretty much which ever service Comcast feels is more important they can give a higher priority.  Email, basic web access for example will get a high priority.  While Netflix may get a lower priority.   BUT instead of just complaining about it, you will know this is the case before hand because you will get to see what is going on because Comcast must be more transparent.  Then you can 'switch' providers if you so choose.

What does Title II mean for ISPs?
Well it is only a partial Title II, I don't work for the FCC and I am not a lawyer but it seems the FCC did not put some things from Title II in these regulations.

  • No new taxes on broadband
  • No new fees to ISP
  • No restrictions on pricing.
  • Does not add Broadband to the Universal Service Fund

  • Provides fair and better access to poles
  • Protections for consumers for discrimination or disabilities
  • Provides a forum to handle complaints
  • Expands the Universal Service Fund so it can eventually apply to broadband and that fund will not be paid into by the ISP at this time.  ( So where does the funds for this expansion come from? )

So other than Title II the average consumer will not notice a real difference now.  Your Comcast and Netflix bill probably will not go down. ( Rule of Acquisition number 1 : Once you have their money never give it back ).  Once it is fought through the courts and eventually the ISP lose you may see some increased buffering until technology catches up (Netflix becoming for efficient for example)

Sooner or later we will also see ISPs selling plans with limited amount of transfer similar to mobile data plans.  This would be for those users who just use facebook check email and such.    You may also see more cable companies offering their own Netflix type service so to keep the high usage traffic internal

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Unbricking a Surface Pro 3

I ran into a problem this week where we had a group of Surface Pro 3's that needed to be prepared for our network.  By mistake one of our staff (*cough* me) tried our normal image on the device and in the attempt to recover the staff member (me again) ended up turning the surface pro into an expensive paper weight.

All I was able to get the thing to do was power on to a BIOS screen.  Apparently in the process of "fixing" it I deleted or corrupted the partitions (including the recovery partition).

While looking for a recovery image, Microsoft's support site.. well it is garbage and would not allow me to download the recovery image.  On top of that their contact information either is not accurate or just does not work.

Eventually I realized.. I got 12 of these things here.  (all but 2 setup correctly) why don't I just create an image from that recovery drive.  Turns out Windows 8.x on the Surface Pros has built in utilities to create a USB Image from that partition! SWEET!

I ran the utility, rebooted in recovery mode did the full reset and in the next hour I was back to factory specs.

Later this week I will update this post with a link to download the image.  It is rather large and i'll need to find a place to put it.

To create the image I used the USB Image Tool from Alex's coding playground but I think you should be able to just copy the files over to a FAT32 formatted 8GB+ USB Drive.

To boot to the USB Recovery menu:

  1. Turn off power to the Surface Pro.
  2. Insert your USB Recovery drive
  3. Push and Hold Volume down.
  4. Tap the Power button to Turn the Surface Pro
  5. Once the 'Surface' logo (just the word Surface) displays on the screen.  Let go of the Volume down button.
  6. Follow the on screen instructions for a full Reset

Again Link for USB Recovery image should be available sometime this week.

I hope this helps someone.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Travis Snider Trade.

Travis Snider was traded to the Orioles for a pair of lefty pitching prospects.  I was immediately upset with this trade and here is why.

One thing the Pirates farm system is known for is depth including their pitching.  Adding two pitchers who won't be even to AAA for years seemed pointless when they could probably get similar from the Draft.  Especially when both of the guys have concerns from control to off the field.

After last years performance Travis Snider is a starter on many teams.  In fact he will probably be starting in Baltimore.  With out Travis there is no backup to Polanco should he fail to produce at the MLB level until mid summer when the Pirates consider bringing up new minor league players.

So my big problem.. why such low return for such a good player?  Turns out, it may not be such a low return and I need to #STFD.

The Pirates pitching depth is pretty good, however there are few lefties in the mix.  Adding two that have decent upside regardless of the concerns is not a horrible thing.  We know the Pirates have been great in recent years with taking problems and warping them in to advantages with a few exceptions of course.  If they can take the worst starting pitcher in the MLB and turn him into a an above average player (Edison) they should be able to mold tools in younger players as well.

Travis Snider did have good numbers last year.  Saved many bases with his defensive awareness gunning it to second keeping runners at first.  Not the best range but made up for it with his awareness and good arm.    The problem is that he only did it one year, expecting Travis to come out hit .300 and 35 HRs is a long shot but to see him come out .260 with 20 HRS will probably happen with the at bats.  I don't think we've see his total potential yet and is definitely a player that needs more at bats.

Travis was not going to see those at bats in Pittsburgh unless Polanco falls apart and Pittsburgh had one too many left handed bats.  Clearly Travis was going to be blocked from playing and was a Trade canidate.

The move gives two players with good upside in 4-5 years in a needed position (lefty pitchers) frees up right field for Polanco to get all the time he needs to adjust to MLB pitching and saves a few bucks ( I think around 1.5M? ).    It isn't a horrible trade off but it all comes down to Polanco as long as he isn't BAD then it is not a horrible trade and anything the pitchers do is bonus.  But if Polanco falls apart then this is going to be a long summer.