Holidailies 2010

Postings during the 30 days of Holidailies 2010 (www.holidailies.org).

Safety Problems with Austin Parking Meter Proposal

The City of Austin currently runs parking meters until 5:30pm five days a week. There is a proposal to run them until midnight, and run them on Saturday. The City is conducting a survey where you can register your opinion: http://www.downtownaustinsurvey.com/

Extended meter hours makes sense. The people who use the parking ought to pay for it.

The proposal on the table, however, is deeply flawed. Asking people to fumble with their purse or wallet, street-side, in the dark, late at night is a stunningly bad idea. I'm surprised this proposal wasn't dismissed out of hand, due to safety considerations. Unless the City is willing to add lighting and video at every parking pay station, this plan should be rejected.

A better proposal would extend the hours to, say, 7:30pm, and add Saturdays. That would help share the cost of parking more fairly, without incurring a safety risk.

Some Wishes for a Cord-Cutting New Year

The other day I demoted my Netflix account from the pricey 3 discs-at-a-time with Blu-Ray option to the lowly one DVD but unlimited streaming plan -- to beat the impending Netflix price bump.

I did this not so much because of the additional three bucks a month Netflix wants, but due to the realization that the Netflix product has a really bad flaw that makes it a poor value. Thinking about it some more I realize there are so many ways our video options could be better. If we are going to see that "cord cutting" future, where more people switch their video viewing to options such as online streaming, I think some of these issues need to be addressed.

1. Yay on Netflix for offering a streaming-only option. Boo on Netflix for failing to adjust their physical artifact media programs to work the way people want them to. How many of you have a Netflix disc at home that's over a week old? A month? Three months? Yeah, I thought so.

Quick Impressions on FCC Open Internet Order

Last week, the FCC issued their new Open Internet rules. This process has been underway for over a year, and many people hoped it would lead to a strong framework for network neutrality.

We have a name for those kinds of people: optimistic fools.

Okay, that's harsh. And the optimism wasn't completely unfounded. The current President and Chair of the FCC both came into office saying they wanted to do network neutrality. Once there, however, that aspiration met the harsh reality of a regulatory apparatus captured by the communication providers.

The result isn't what anybody advocating network neutrality hoped for. But that doesn't mean that it's all bad.

The Good Bits

PATA is a PITA (and other thoughts on SSD)

A couple months ago I started gathering components to build myself a new workstation. One of the components I got to try is an Intel X25-V 40GB solid-state disk (SSD). That particular part has since been discontinued, but at that time it was $100. That's pretty pricey as compared to a conventional hard disk of the same size, but would be completely worth it if it provided the performance benefit I expected.

It performed as well as I hoped. I set it up with Kubuntu Linux 10.10, and was completely blown away by the speed-up in boot time.

As great as it was on the workstation, this device was just screaming to be put in a laptop. After all, my workstation gets booted once a season. I can cycle a laptop a dozen times in an afternoon.

The workstation project has been stuck on idle, but I've become increasingly enamored with the laptop idea.

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