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GOP congressman introduces bill to reinstate net neutrality rules

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In a much-anticipated effort to reinstate net neutrality provisions, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) introduced a bill today that would codify free internet regulations into law. Titled The 21st Century Internet Act, the measure would institute the basic outlines of the Federal Communication Commission’s 2015 Open Internet order, which banned the throttling and blocking of content as well as harmful paid prioritization practices. In an even more surprising move, however, the Republican congressman has signed on to a Democrat-led effort to reinstate the net neutrality rules that the FCC voted to repeal late last year.

Last December, when the FCC called a vote to repeal net neutrality, Coffman was the first Republican to ask the commission to...

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mrobold
1 day ago
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Orange County, California
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The chickens come home to roost, by Scott Sumner

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I don’t know anything about roosting chickens, but I do know a bit about trade theory. Over the past 200 years, debates about trade have occurred on two levels. Academics insist that unilateral free trade is the best options. However the “very serious people” (VSP) who conduct real world trade negotiations act as if open markets are a “concession”. They act as if we were doing other countries a favor by letting them export goods to our market. They view the academic perspective as hopelessly idealistic, even as the VSPs have worked hard to gradually move the world toward the same goal of freer trade, one agreement at a time.

Today it looks like the VSPs who believe in globalization made a big mistake, and that the idealistic approach of unilaterally moving toward freer trade was the better strategy. The VSP approach opened the door to protectionist populists, and Donald Trump walked through.  Protectionists are using the “concessions” myth as an excuse to impose higher tariffs. Other countries then face a difficult choice. If they give in to pressure from Trump, it would just encourage him to make even more demands.

It’s normally the case that one is better off standing up to a bully. When one does so, bullies tend to back off. But it’s not easy to do this without making the problem even worse, without triggering an international trade war.

If countries had done like Singapore and Hong Kong, and adopted a unilateral policy of free trade, then they would not face this quandary. In that case, if the US wants to shoot itself in the foot with trade barriers, it’s free to do so. No point in compounding the problem by also shooting yourself in the foot. Unfortunately, the international trade negotiation establishment is deeply invested in the “concessions” view of trade, and this creates some difficult game theory problems.  If they do the “right thing” (cut tariffs) they look weak and make the populists even more popular.

Sometimes the most idealistic approach is also the most pragmatic.

PS.  As an analogy, I have argued that we should rely 100% on monetary policy to stabilize demand, and not at all on fiscal policy.  This view is widely seen as impractical.  But now the Trump administration and Congress have raised spending and cut taxes to the point where a viable countercyclical fiscal policy is almost impossible.  And yet we never built the sort of robust monetary regime that could provide a stable path for expected NGDP.  So what happens if there is another 2008?

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mrobold
3 days ago
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Orange County, California
freeAgent
4 days ago
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Los Angeles, CA
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In open offices, workers chat 70% less, are less productive, and email more

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Enlarge / Looks like someone has a case of the Mondays. (credit: Getty | Ian Nicholson)

Tearing down walls and cubicles in offices may actually build up more barriers to productivity and collaboration, according to a new study.

Employees at two Fortune 500 multinational companies saw face-to-face interaction time drop by about 70 percent, the use of email increase between 22 percent and 56 percent, and productivity slip after their traditional office spaces were converted to open floor plans—that is, ones without walls or cubicles that ostensibly create barriers to interaction. The findings, published recently in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, suggest that removing physical dividers may, in fact, make it harder for employers to foster collaboration and collective intelligence among their employees.

Many companies have waged a so-called “war on walls” to try to create such vibrant workspaces, the authors Ethan Bernstein and Stephen Turban of Harvard wrote. But, “what they often get—as captured by a steady stream of news articles professing the death of the open office—is an open expanse of proximal employees choosing to isolate themselves as best they can (e.g. by wearing large headphones) while appearing to be as busy as possible (since everyone can see them).”

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mrobold
5 days ago
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THIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIISSS

Except, is it really email? It seems to me that Slack becomes the engine of never ending distraction.
Orange County, California
MotherHydra
18 hours ago
I am “that person” that is never in the channel. Fuck Slack it’s nigh worthless for productivity and, to my sensibilities, akin to information overload. Luckily I’m in a position to say fuck slack and work turns a blind eye.
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3 public comments
MotherHydra
18 hours ago
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I’ve witnessed this firsthand and completely agree. How to make people defensive and inward-turning, chapter 1.
Space City, USA
JayM
5 days ago
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Yeah... but the real estate savings!! Just look at all that money saved! Now we can pack in more folks to do the same amount of work as before! ;)
Atlanta, GA
dnorman
5 days ago
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so much, this. our new open environment office area has killed collaboration and organic conversation. big headphones. LED "busy" lights. SSSSSHHHH! (except for the BLAH BLAH loud people passing through from their offices…)
Calgary

Thai official: Elon Musk’s submarine “not practical for this mission”

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Enlarge / Elon Musk posted this photo of the cave to his Twitter feed. (credit: Elon Musk)

On Tuesday, divers in Thailand completed the rescue of all 12 boys and their coach trapped in a flooded cave. And they did it without the aid of a tiny "submarine" that Elon Musk developed for possible use in the rescue mission.

Musk had a team of SpaceX engineers working feverishly over the weekend to construct the device. Thai officials began the rescue operation before Musk's team had completed his work. But Musk decided to complete the device anyway and personally flew to Thailand to deliver it to the rescue site.

According to The Guardian, when Musk arrived with his device, Thai officials made it clear that it wasn't needed. "Although his technology is good and sophisticated it’s not practical for this mission," said Narongsak Osatanakorn, the head of the joint command center coordinating the rescue effort. At that point, Thai officials had already finished rescuing at least eight of the 12 boys, and were already planning the third and final rescue mission.

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mrobold
9 days ago
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What? A publicity stunt wasn't a practical option for actual life saving? I am shocked!
Orange County, California
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A Pure PostgreSQL Document Database API

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One of the great things about PostgreSQL is its support for JSON document storage. I’ve written about it quite a few times, and here I am writing about it once again! I think it’s probably the most underrated feature of PostgreSQL, and for a simple reason: the API is a bit clunky.

With a little work, however, that can be changed.

A Typical Document Database API

There are a few things I’d like to see supported right “out of the box”, so to speak:

  • Creation of a document table on the fly
  • Support for upsert
  • A simple CRUD scenario
  • A find routine that matches on document criteria
  • Support for grouping/mapping/reducing
  • Support for full-text search

Seems reasonable, doesn’t it? This kind of thing is basic for MongoDB, CouchDB, and RethinkDB… aside from full-text search, which isn’t supported. I’ve implemented these things in code before, with MassiveJS, Moebius and lately, MassiveRB. I do this for fun, mostly, but also because I use these things in production and I really like the document abstraction.

Why Would You Do This To Lovely, Relational PostgreSQL?

It’s a good question. If you pick Postgres it’s likely you want to go with the relational model. If you want a document system, you’ll probably go with MongoDB or something similar. The crazy thing is: PostgreSQL is unreal fast/scalable with document storage. Have a Google and see what others have come to know: Postgres document storage is crazy good. The only problem is the API, which we’ve already discussed. We’re here to figure out why you would do such a thing.

The simple reason is design/development time speed (among other things). Ditch migrations altogether and just store things as documents. When you’re ready, move into a relational model you feel good about. This is exactly what I did with the last 3 projects I worked on and it was amazingly helpful.

First Pass at a Pure PostgreSQL API

A few months ago I spent the weekend putting together a set of functions that extend PostgreSQL and embrace document storage using the API specification above. The first thing I did was to create a schema to keep all of the bits together in one place:

drop schema if exists dox cascade;
create schema dox;

Yes, I decided to call it dox because… just because. The next thing was to create a save routine, the CRUD bits, and to implement full-text indexing. Rather than walk you through all of the code, you can just have a look at it right here.

It’s not a “true” extension written in C or anything; just a set of PostgreSQL functions written in PLPGSQL. To use it, you invoke the functions directly:

select * from dox.save(table => 'customers', doc => '[wad of json]');

The “fat arrow” syntax you see here is using the named argument syntax for PostgreSQL functions, which (to me) makes things much more readable than positional arguments. The save function will create the customers table for you on the fly if it doesn’t exist and save the JSON you pass to it.

Your document will be indexed using GIN indexing, which means you can run queries like this incredibly efficiently:

select * from dox.find_one(collection => 'customers', term => '{"name": "Jill"}');
select * from dox.find(collection => 'customers', term => '{"company": "Red:4"}');

The queries above are flexing the containment and existence operators, which in turn use the GIN index on your document table. You get all of the lovely speed of PostgreSQL with a bit of a nicer API.

Full Text Search

One thing that other systems don’t have which PostgreSQL has built in is full-text indexing. This means you can do fuzzy searches on simple terms with an index rather than a full table scan, which will make your DBA quite happy.

There’s nothing you need to do to enable this, aside from following a simple convention. Every document table comes with a tsvector search field:

create table customers(
  id serial primary key not null,
  body jsonb not null,
  search tsvector, --this one here
  created_at timestamptz not null default now(),
  updated_at timestamptz not null default now()
);

When you save a document with a “descriptive key”, it will automatically get dropped into the tsvector search field and indexed:

-- the save function
search text[] = array['name','email','first','first_name','last','last_name','description','title','city','state','address','street', 'company']

You can, of course, change any of this. I thought about putting these terms in a table for lookup but decided that was too slow. It’s simple enough to change this text[] to have the terms you want.

To use it, all you need to do is call it:

select * from dox.search(collection => 'customers', term => 'jill');

Is This Production Ready?

Sure – it’s just SQL and PostgreSQL. I’ve been using it and haven’t had any issues, but your data/data needs are different than mine and you might find some areas for improvement. If you fork/download the repo, you’ll see a test.sh file, which you just need to load using source ./test.sh and it will run, assuming you have PostgreSQL installed locally with admin rights.

Or, as I’m a fan of doing, just run make test, which will use the Makefile in the project.

Would I Use This Over Mongo, Couch, Database X?

Hell yes. I am a giant PostgreSQL fan and I love the idea that I can “flip relational” at any time. I love the idea that I can do a simple select * from dox.get(1) and I’ll know it’s using a primary key index. I super love the full text indexing too.

How Do I Install It?

As I mentioned, there’s a Makefile in the root of the project. If you run make, it will concatenate the .sql files into a build.sql file. You can then run psql to load that into your database:

psql -d my_db -f ./scripts/build.sql

Questions? Issues?

If you’re up for having a look and want to ask questions, go for it. Mostly: play around and see what kind of performance gain you get when you go with PostgreSQL!

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mrobold
12 days ago
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Orange County, California
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Net neutrality makes comeback in California; lawmakers agree to strict rules

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Enlarge / California State Capitol building in Sacramento. (credit: Getty Images | joe chan photography)

A California net neutrality bill that could impose the toughest rules in the country is being resurrected.

The bill was approved in its strongest form by the California Senate, but it was then gutted by the State Assembly's Communications Committee, which approved the bill only after eliminating provisions opposed by AT&T and cable lobbyists. Bill author Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) has been negotiating with Communications Committee Chairman Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) and other lawmakers since then, and he announced the results today.

Wiener said the agreement with Santiago and other lawmakers resulted in "legislation implementing the strongest net neutrality protections in the nation."

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mrobold
13 days ago
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Orange County, California
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