Where’s This Guy Been?

No blocking. If a consumer requests access to a website or service, and the content is legal, your ISP should not be permitted to block it. That way, every player — not just those commercially affiliated with an ISP — gets a fair shot at your business.

No throttling. Nor should ISPs be able to intentionally slow down some content or speed up others — through a process often called “throttling” — based on the type of service or your ISP’s preferences.

Increased transparency. The connection between consumers and ISPs — the so-called “last mile” — is not the only place some sites might get special treatment. So, I am also asking the FCC to make full use of the transparency authorities the court recently upheld, and if necessary to apply net neutrality rules to points of interconnection between the ISP and the rest of the Internet.

No paid prioritization. Simply put: No service should be stuck in a “slow lane” because it does not pay a fee. That kind of gatekeeping would undermine the level playing field essential to the Internet’s growth. So, as I have before, I am asking for an explicit ban on paid prioritization and any other restriction that has a similar effect.

So, I guess it takes getting your ass kicked in the mid-term elections and realizing you’ve got nothing to lose to go out and fight for the things you campaigned on.

Better late than never.

In need of disruption …

Posts will likely be short for a while. We’re in the process of buying a house and moving. Hooray!


However, over the past 3 months, while house hunting, open housing, making offers, accepting offers, and everything else that goes into the process, nothing has been more clear to me than the fact that the process of buying and selling a home needs to be massively disrupted.

When making what is likely the biggest purchase you’ll have made to that point, you basically see a house for 30 minutes in as optimal a situation as possible. You have to go through agents on both sides because, well, why would you be able to act on your own? That would be cutting out the middle man. The hilarious part of it all is that the least expensive part of the entire thing are the lawyers, who basically have the whole thing covered and end up costing pennies out of the whole process.

Companies like Redfin, Trulia, and Zillow are helping with connecting buyers and sellers, but really, they’re now just full of buyer’s agents and seller’s agents. It’s a market where it’s very hard to actually find the real person on the other side. That probably works fine when the market is hopping, but if/when the market comes down, the loads of agents just hanging around the market and acting as gatekeepers will get churned out and replaced by either a) nothing, or b) real, value added agents.

During this process, there are lots of places where I’d happily pay someone to solve a problem with skills I don’t have (a mortgage, legal documents, moving). Those services seem to be priced appropriately. The real estate agent side of things is a place where the price you pay seems to dwarf the services rendered. The interwebs have a tendency to solve that problem over time. I expect that by the next time I buy a home, it’ll be a very different experience.


Post-Script: I did some googling around to see if I’m the only one who feels this way. I’m clearly not. This post resonated so strongly with me. I heard nearly every one of those canards during our buying process.


Post-Post-Script: Our agent was quite nice, and I don’t think doing anything that was deceptive or misleading. It’s really just a case where the goals of the real estate agent are not aligned with the goals of the buyers/sellers. They don’t get paid for their time, just for the sale. Like car dealers, the folks working the floor of your local Home Depot, or the folks calling you to offer you some new phone service, they make money when you buy something. And they don’t, when you don’t.

Because what could go wrong?

Depressing article from the Times this week …

Under Dodd-Frank, the general rule was to be that if a lender wanted to securitize mortgages, that lender had to keep at least 5 percent of the risk. There was an exception. The lender didn’t need to retain any risk in mortgages deemed to be supersafe. Those mortgages were to be known as Qualified Residential Mortgages, or Q.R.M., in the jargon that promptly developed.

In 2011, when the regulators first proposed rules to carry out the risk-retention law, the idea was that there would be a two-tier mortgage market. Mortgages deemed to be Q.R.M. would be characterized by substantial down payments that would minimize the risk of default, while the other tier would include riskier mortgages — although still safer than some of the ridiculous mortgages that characterized the boom — and could be securitized only if those responsible for either the loans or the securitizations kept some of the risk.

But when the final rule was adopted this week, that idea was dropped.

“The loophole has eaten the rule, and there is no residential mortgage risk retention,” said Barney Frank, the
former chairman of the House Financial Services Committee and the Frank in Dodd-Frank.

Because what could go wrong if banks take on a bunch of risky mortgages that eventually go belly up?

Fixing the Ruby Error “Symbol not found: _SSLv2_client_method (LoadError)”

I was doing some work on my computer this weekend and when running a ruby script, I got a whole stack trace, with the main error being:

Symbol not found: _SSLv2_client_method (LoadError)

I use rbenv and build my own rubies, so that I don’t have to muck about with the system ruby (and gems). It should have occurred to me that after the POODLE SSL flaw, Apple would have patched (at least partially) the SSL libraries.

After a bit of Googling, Stack Overflow to the rescue. I needed to simply rebuild ruby, which would build it against the updated SSL libs.

On rbenv, if you have ruby-build installed, that’s as simple as:

rbenv install 2.1.2

GamerGate: Angry White (Young) Men

If you’re curious about GamerGate at all, which its proponents would have you believe is about getting truth in gaming journalism, go read this amazing Deadspin article.

As is often the case, GamerGate is really about a minority of angry white men (in this case, they tend to be teens to twenties) who are mad that somehow talking about sexism is akin to violating “men’s rights”. (As if being born a white man wasn’t already about as big an advantage in the world as is humanly possible.)

It’s so incredibly disheartening and so incredibly infuriating. There are a billion good things about the internet and anonymity, but the bad things are rapidly eroding any value that anonymity brings. When you get the chat log talking about whether or not driving someone to suicide is the right PR move, you’ll realize how bad people can get when hiding behind an anonymous screen name.

The whole thing is an amalgamation of everything that is awful right now. Sexism, anonymous online threats, the media reporting both sides of a story as having equal truth/value. The tide may be turning in a positive direction, though. The recent abuse handed out over Twitter to a local (and prominent) game developer may have caused enough of a stir that the media might actually a) pay attention, and b) not treat both sides as equivalent.

A few well place prosecutions and this whole sordid issue may be in the past.