Google has agreed to settle a gender discrimination suit brought by employees. Congratulations to the plaintiffs, suing your employer is a difficult and stressful thing. But while the $118M headline looks big it works out to only $7600 per employee, less after the lawyers' generous cut. The harm was "the company paid female employees approximately $16,794 less per year". It's hardly restoring equity.

I faced a similar tiny settlement amount in the 2010 antitrust suit when it was found that Google, Adobe, Apple, Intel, Intuit, Pixar, Lucasfilm, and eBay were all colluding to not hire each others' employees to illegally suppress wages. The first settlement "my lawyers" agreed to was so low that the judge threw out the agreement saying they should do better. The final amount was still just a few thousand dollars for each employee.

I was mad enough I wrote a tart letter to the court when I opted out of the settlement.

I am unimpressed with my nominated attorneys. The fact that Judge Koh ruled the original settlement was “below the range of reasonableness” suggests my attorneys are poor negotiators and have not represented the plaintiffs effectively. ... I’m irritated that they cannot even do class members the courtesy of answering email.

As an unnamed class member I had nothing really to do with the suit, so this letter was my only personal involvement. At least when Gilardi & Co saw this letter to the judge they finally answered my email.

Class action lawsuits are the American way of resolving harm to groups of ordinary people. I understand why the lawyers are well paid for them. But they're seldom a good tool for monetary equity. There is value in getting the company to admit to its bad behavior and make changes.

  2022-06-12 15:06 Z

Starlink is oversold in North America. I've had the service since March 2021 and it's mostly great. But every evening it slows down. On bad nights I can't watch a single 1080p video stream reliably. Over half of Starlink customers report problems. Starlink's speed test app now admits "the network may be affected by slower speeds during busy hours". As if that were OK.

Overselling capacity is a common problem with American ISPs. More customers means more revenue and if customers get a crappy experience? Too bad, there's no regulation to stop them. Starlink has a serious financial challenge so of course they have an incentive to oversell. And service quality is likely to keep getting worse. Their user growth is accelerating and the new RV service means literally anyone can buy a dish now without waiting (albeit at a lower service tier.) They are adding capacity but their growth plan hinges on the troubled Starship launch vehicle.

Customers were promised better. Starlink was advertised as offering 100-200Mbps and 20ms latency; their legalese description promises 50-250Mbps / 20-40ms. My reality is speeds drop to 10-20Mbps every evening. Upload speeds are tiny, often well below 5Mbps. 20ms latency is a fantasy; 50ms is typical. And capacity is highly variable minute by minute, a technical challenge for rate limiting protocols.

The US government is giving Starlink $900M to sell rural Americans 100Mbps download / 20Mbps upload. But Starlink is delivering just a tenth of that download speed during peak hours and nowhere near that upload speed ever. I hope the FCC RDOF contract includes measured performance targets.

I am still grateful for Starlink, it's significantly better than anything else I can get in Grass Valley, CA. But they're making a business decision that's bad for customers. It's a reminder of how important it is to have Internet competition. Investing in wired infrastructure is as important as ever.

  2022-06-09 15:22 Z