2x60: Thanks Given

Stuart Langridge, Jono Bacon, and Jeremy Garcia present Bad Voltage, in which we are very different on flights, Jono knows about the Bills, and:

  • [00:01:30] The .org registry has been sold to a private equity firm, and there is a whole lot of suspicion about how that deal went down. We'll unpack it a bit.
  • [00:15:00] Google release Stadia, their streaming gaming platform, to early adopters. Reception was... mixed. Here are some thoughts.
  • [00:33:30] Lex Luthor Elon Musk invents a low-poly truck. What's the market for the Cybertruck? Are we going to buy one?
  • [00:49:25] The launch of Disney+, and their market. Disney now own rather a lot of video -- their own films, but Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, Hulu, Touchstone -- and will this make Disney+ the thing that people buy instead of Netflix?

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No.  

The .org thing is definitely worrying, and when this goes through, it’s obviously not going to be the end of it, especially given the (mentioned) vanity TLDs. And there are alternative DNS roots, ranging from OpenNIC to Namecoin, but then you have a world (and already technically have a world) where example.biz or example.xxx routes to different servers if you’re using some crusty old AlterNIC DNS server versus an ICANN server versus eDNS. Unfortunately, you can’t break a monopoly by creating a market where consumers need to pay all the vendors for the same service.
The Cybertruck looks like it came out of a 1998 middle school notebook margin, but it seems to hit the notes I hear talked about by suburban contractors, so I’m guessing that this is targeting them.
The interesting thing in streaming seems to be less Disney+. My guess is that they don’t actually care about literal success, just because they’re pretty much a horizontal and now vertical monopoly. So, they could plausibly operate at a loss for decades just to drive everybody else out of business.
More interesting to me is how Netflix is always looking at raising prices while going out of its way to cancel its original shows prematurely, so it’s almost hard to imagine them surviving in the long term, especially while (as mentioned) the big content owners keep pulling out.
And it’s all well and good to complain about the absurd cost of paying for every streaming service, but it’s worth pointing out that we’ve always been told that de-bundling content was going to be more expensive to get everything. It is, but people can cut costs by only choosing what they definitely want to watch. It’s not a bad idea to run cost/benefit analyses on these services and kill anything that isn’t worth the money. For my own viewing habits, CBS All-Access and DC Universe have been great, HBO isn’t for me even though I’d like to see Watchmen, I can see myself getting into Disney+ and pulling the plug when I’ve exhausted the classic shows, and Netflix has just enough to keep me hooked, but is only one or two cancellations away from me cancelling when the back-catalog would be cheaper to buy as I go. But if anybody had the same outlook on the services, I’d be shocked.

Nice show! I really enjoyed @sil’s introduction to the low poly truck :slight_smile:

.org

Interestingly, I had seen this article about the dot org disaster in my feeds just before listening to your episode. If you live in the US, the author of the blog post recommends to:

  1. Write to the California and Virginia attorney general offices encouraging them to investigate the misbehavior of these three non-profits (ICANN, ISOC and PIR), which are incorporated in their respective states.
  2. File form 13909 with the IRS, encouraging them to review ICANN and ISOC’s non-profit status.

Stadia

Gaming industry giants are pushing really hard for streaming. It allows them to completely control their customers, to prevent people from selling their old video games as second hand and to make sure to keep their user base captive: when most of your games are on a gaming platform, you really don’t want to migrate to another. Moreover, by only pushing video frames to your customers, you ensure piracy is completely impossible.

That’s why a platform like Google is trying to get into this market, I believe.

I just think of this from the point of view of the video game historians. It’s going to become increasingly difficult to be able to retrieve the binaries of the game, yet alone to emulate them.

Disney+

I’m an anomaly in the game. I still hope someday it will be possible to just buy a film and be able to download a DRM-free video file that you can then host on your device(s) and play at your own leisure, with or without Internet access. That was done for e-books, that was done for music, why not for films?

I bought a Stadia, I decided that ÂŁ110 minus the cost of the Chomecast I was planning on buying any was worth the money to see what it is like.

Regarding the missing features, this is the easy part which they can get right later. I am really impressed that they seem to have cracked the hard part which is the Streaming bit. So far I have only run it on my 720p TV with the Chromecast and 1080p computer using the Chrome browser (it works with Chromium on Linux as well BTW) it looks great. I have not done any competitive multiplayer but the single player game I have played (Metro Exodus) worked really well.

Business model wise, I think the trick is the cost while the games are full price being able to run the game at the equivalent quality of a ÂŁ400/ÂŁ800 GPU on existing hardware is pretty compelling. While some gamers spend thousands on their stuff many play on a budget.

I picked up a 4K TV in the Black Friday sales which itself runs on Android, it doesn’t have Stadia built in yet but this likely to be included in a patch. When the free Stadia tier comes in the entry cost is going be really minimal for relatively high quality i.e. if you have any old PC or a Chromecast or an Android TV or a phone or a tablet and you a Gmail account, you already have Stadia.

Its main weakness I think is content, but it is early days and this can change with a few deals or acquisitions.

I really liked listening to this show. Good topics that made me think about some things. A few opinions:
Stadia:
This might be directed at older kids who envision themselves as gamers, can’t buy their own high-end hardware (or don’t want to figure it out), but can ask parents for a subscription.

Potato peeled truck:
I had no idea peelers were left or right handed, but whatever. I live in Montana and have always owned a truck. It’s used for hauling building supplies, a camper, boats, canoes, dogs, furniture…you get the idea. It’s a self sufficiency thing. We NEED high clearance 4wd to get out of the driveway in the winter. I’m not really interested in an electric vehicle because 1. that ones ugly 2. no topper for a roof rack 3. I can buy gas in the middle of Wyoming on a road trip. Also, you do realize that a majority of our baseline generation out here is coal right?

Disney +
We have two young sons who love Star Wars and Marvel. My wife likes the PBS app. We dropped Netflix because it didn’t have interesting content. We did get the Disney, Hulu, Espn+ bundle. It’s important to note that the ESPN+ that comes with this bundle is not ESPN as you might think. Seems like some college football and soccer (I’m in MT so that’s what they are called here). What’s cool about the Mandolorian is that my kids are learning to have something to look forward to and plan for instead of binging 13000 episodes of junk.

Good show all around, I really enjoyed it.
Dave

PS Sil made a Neuromancer reference a few shows back. I wouldn’t mind hearing a section on favorite books.

A big deal is made about the truck having stainless steel panels that one can hit a sledge hammer against. 301 Stainless is a high tinsel strength material, depending on the heat treating. But 3mm (11 gauge) steel sheet would do that also. It just baffles me that such heavy material would be used. It really isn’t necessary and degrades mileage. The way the bed is designed, it allows practical access from only the rear. Anyone using it for work would hate that. Very impractical. If a contractor would have several of these for his crew, what a nightmare to make sure they are all charged. Is he going to have a charger for each truck? What if someone forgets to plug it in at the end of the day? Is the contractor going to be happy to have his workers twiddling their thumbs for an hour while the thing charges? Just cannot see the practicality of these trucks. Not when time is money.

Did @jeremy mentioned Rolling Coal? I’m not sure why with the context. It is, at best, a very annoying practice. Some just love shooting the soot into a car they see with the window open.

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which I hope all die in a fire.

The new Watchmen series is fucking magnificient. As is The Mandalorian. And For All Mankind. There’s truly some great TV kicking about right now, but the fact that it’s mostly paywalled amongst various discrete providers is a pain in the arse, especially when one of them isn’t even available in the UK yet.

Twats.  

I don’t mind that the possibility exists, specifically because it has always been clear that putting all of our trust in ICANN (or anyone) is a recipe for disaster. Apart from monopoly pricing we’re going to see with .org, a good example is that their control of TLDs, in some ways, determines which countries are seen as legitimate. So, Taiwan has .tw, but Tibet isn’t on their map, which seems like a weird choice. By contrast, New Nations (to throw another one on the list) does support a .ti TLD. It seems like a good idea in principle, at least. There are probably some nice “alternate reality gaming” uses for the idea, too, now that I think about it.

The problem is that there’s no possible competition in the DNS space. You’re either the root that everybody in the world uses or you’re a nobody that’s at best irrelevant, but also potentially blocking your few users from legitimate content if your domains ever conflict, and that’s extremely bad.

It’s not that weird a choice. Taiwan is a nation state with its own ccTLD based on its ISO country code. The Tibet that is a defined area with its own government is the Tibetan SAR, which doesn’t have its own ISO country code, but does have a regional code under China (XZ), so Tibetan websites can be registered using the .xz.cn SLD, a la .co.uk.

Before anyone mentions Hong Kong being a Chinese SAR, but having its own ccTLD, well .hk was assigned in 1990, while HK was still a British Dependent Territory, and BDTs got their own ccTLDs. Same with Macau’s .mo, assigned in 1992 while Macau was still nominally a Portuguese overseas province.

There’s nothing technical stopping someone registering a gTLD, in the same way that Catalonia, an autonomous region of Spain, registered .cat. There just needs to be the funding (gTLDs are fucking expensive) and the political will (which in the face of China’s current attitude to Tibet would probably be the main blocker) to do it.

It does, but not all good ideas are implementable outside a blue sky, anything goes environment.

Also, the mechanics of supporting multiple roots would be insane. It’s like allowing different groups of people to use their own dialling codes. You then need a super-root to manage interoperability between roots, and you’re back to square one again.

Well, yeah, that’s the point of having one DNS root, so that you don’t have namespace collisions. This is a fundamental building block of the Internet. Fucking with it by forking it because you (not you personally, but the alt root operators) don’t like the way things are done isn’t the way to invoke sustainable change.

And that’s at least adjacent to my point. By having a DNS system that only allows for a single root before things start breaking, the monopolist has pretty serious input on what is and what is not legitimate sovereignty. It’s obviously not just TLDs, since maps have been an issue very recently, but it’s the subject at hand.

ICANN and IANA, and Jon Postel before them, generally just implemented ccTLDs using the well established ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 codes for countries. Tibet doesn’t have one. Have a go at ISO for that if you like.

Except, as you point out…

Not to mention that some non-countries do have ISO codes. So, there’s no passing the buck, here. ICANN is making the decisions as to who the world should see as independent and who shouldn’t all on its own.

Not sure what point you’re trying to make by referencing my citing Catalonia having a gTLD, which is not a ccTLD, which is what the alt-root you cited earlier trying to make two letter ccTLDs for geographic regions and groups of people, which is not what ccTLDs are for.

Can you tell me what non-countries have an ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 code? Catalonia doesn’t; it has an ISO 3166-2 code — EN-CT — used to codify a country’s subdivision, which is why it doesn’t have a ccTLD.

New Nations are trying to alt-root ccTLDs for the Tibet Autonomous Region (whose 3166-2 code is CN-XZ, as it’s not a country officially recognised by ISO or the UN), Tamil Eelam (which doesn’t exist as a formally recognised country), and two ethnic groups, who aren’t countries.

There’s literally nothing, other than money, and perhaps political pressure, stopping a kind benefactor stumping up the $185K required to establish a gTLD for any of those four entities. Subverting the existing global root, and the established ccTLD structure based on formal standards, isn’t the way to do things.

Antarctica comes immediately to mind.

Which is exactly my point. This isn’t about legitimacy. It’s about what ICANN decides is legitimate, based on whatever factors they choose to find interesting at any given time behind closed doors. If, tomorrow, they decide that Japan doesn’t exist, all your handwaving about the sanctity of ISO codes is irrelevant.

You’re going to need to draw my attention to where I said that was some ideal. I’ve pointed out that a monopoly is a problem. That you interpret this as a recommendation of policy is your problem, not mine, and I don’t see much need to continue this conversation on that basis.

Why was the intro/outro music so fast?

This ICANN, ISO garbage. Everyone knows the internet runs on magic.

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