Elemental Evil: Session 10

In the previous session the group had attacked Feathergale Spire, the first stronghold of the elemental evil cult of air. There they had killed the lord of the tower, his guest Glasstaff (a mage they had been chasing since several sessions before) and three knights, before escaping from the top of the tower with magical para-glider suits. While having escaped unseen, the attack hadn’t gone unnoticed. So while they were at breakfast the next morning in the tavern in Red Larch, a local poultry merchant came in telling the news: “Bandits” had attacked Featherscale Spire, and the survivors of the Feathergale Society had decided to quit the tower, leaving only a single guardian behind. The merchant was quite distraught over the news, as he had had a nice business selling provisions to the tower, which now needed much less of them.

Feigning concern the group then went to the tower, this time ringing the bell at the front door. As chance would have it, the sole guardian of the tower was Savra, a young noble, who knew Theren from Waterdeep. Being a novice of the cult and a bit naive and trusting towards somebody she knew, Savra told the group that “the prophetess” aka Aerisi Kalinoth (the lady on the cover of the Princes of the Apocalypse book) had come and taken the rest of the Feathergale Society with her through the magical portal into the temple below. Asking about the door the group learned that the cults knew there were 4 keys to open the portal, but as nobody had all 4 keys that was not the usual way to open it; instead the prophetess opens the door with the help of her magical spear. Savra has no means to contact the prophetess or the rest of the Feathergale Society, and was told to wait in the tower. While Theren was chatting with Savra, other group members searched the tower, but of course everything of value or incriminating had been removed.

From there the group moved towards the Dessarin River, with the idea to move north from there and find Rivergard Keep, the suspected stronghold of the elemental evil cult of water. Near the river they came upon a scene where a group of water cultists was harassing a bear, with the bear curiously shouting for help in common. A fight ensued in which the group slew the cultists and rescued the druid/bear. The rescued druid, Varigo, was very grateful and gave them his most prized possession, the Talking Bear Statuette, a magical item allowing a druid in wild shape to talk and even cast 1 spell per transformation. [DM’s note: Our druid needed a boost due to the weird power curve of the moon druid compared to other classes, which results him being powerful at level 2, but not growing in power much until level 6, while everybody else surpasses him at level 5. It also solves the stupid problem that moon druids sometimes would like to remain in animal shape between fights, but would then be excluded from discussing plans with the rest of the group.] Varigo also told the group that he was on the way to Scarlet Moon Hall to witness the Rite of the Wicker Giant, a ritual that is supposed to restore nature’s balance in the troubled region.

The next day the group reached Rivergard Keep. The keep was well guarded, with patrols on the walls. So after some discussion on how to approach the group decided to climb the wall during the night under cover of a silence spell. They killed the wall guard, and then entered through a door into the second floor of the keep. There they managed to kill 6 crushing wave reavers (the elite soldiers of the keep) without raising an alarm. Having thus successfully infiltrated the keep, we stopped the session there, to continue in the new year.

On a personal note, the player of the paladin was absent, so my wife played her character. That was the first time my wife played a real role-playing game. I don’t think she will play frequently, but it is nice that she now knows a bit better what we are doing when we play.

Where to buy the best phones of 2017

We’ve now crowned the winner of our best Android phone of 2017 award, and you can view all the results at the previous link. After testing the handsets in various categories, the best phone honor went to the Huawei Mate 10 Pro, while you guys voted for the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 as your favorite of the past 12 months. 

If you aren’t the proud owner of one of these handsets yet, there’s just enough time to pick one up before the end of the holiday season. We’ve rounded up the best deals we can currently find on the phones from our list and laid it all out for you below. Devices are listed in alphabetical order based on manufacturer, with links to where you can each handset underneath. Enjoy. 

BlackBerry KEYone Black Edition

Given that it’s a limited edition device, that isn’t officially sold in the US, the BlackBerry KEYone isn’t easy to get hold of at a low-cost price. It did get a reduction in Canada when it was first released, a 24-hour flash sale offering $100 CAD savings, but you’ll be lucky to find it for much less than $700 now. That’s the current asking price on Amazon, though top-rated eBay seller never-msrp has it at even cheaper. 

never-msrp is usually an eBayer to be cautious of because it sells many international unlocked models that come without a US warranty. As that’s the same circumstances as on Amazon, though — just at a much better price — it’s worth taking a look at. 

Buy Now: Blackberry Keyone 64 GB – $545.99
Buy Now: BlackBerry Keyone black edition 64 GB – $699

Google Pixel 2 XL

The Google Pixel 2 XL arrived with its fair share of problems, but a few OTAs later and it’s back in action as one of the finest phones available right now. Currently, it’s on sale at the official Google Store with savings of around $75 until December 31 — and it looks like that is the only place you’ll get such a price.

What’s more, you can make use of Google’s trade-in program to give up your current device for an even better deal; check out the two storage variants at the Google Store via the buttons below. 

Buy now: Google Pixel 2 XL 64 GB – $774
Buy Now: Google Pixel 2 XL 128 GB – $874

Huawei Mate 10 Pro

The Huawei Mate 10 Pro is our phone of the year, but it’s another handset that you can’t officially get in the US. That’s set to change early next year, with more information to be unveiled at CES 2018, but in the meantime, your best bet will be to get it through Amazon. You’d be taking your chances with third-party sellers on international devices without warranty, but if you’re okay with that, the Mocha Brown variant at $844.99 is the best deal you’re likely to get right now.

Buy Now: Huawei Mate 10 Pro 128 GB – $844.99

LG V30

The LG V20 saw plenty of deals in its time, so you’d expect the same to happen in time with the latest LG flagship, the V30. Though it was the subject of a flash sale but a week ago, it’s back at $799 or more at most retailers now or more, and with most of the major carriers. We’ll keep our eyes peeled on this one, but until another deal pops up you can check out the cloud silver variant on AT&T at the button below.

Buy Now: LG V30 64 GB – $799

Lenovo Moto Z2 Force

No other Moto Z2 Force deal comes close to what T-Mobile is offering, serving up the recent Lenovo flagship for $435 (the handset is still upwards of $600 in many corners of the internet). If that doesn’t float your boat. you can get it for $11.00 per month on a Sprint Flex 18-month contract, down from $33 per month, which ain’t bad savings either. 

Buy Now: Moto Z2 Force 64 GB – $435
Buy Now: Lenovo Moto Z2 Force 64 GB – $11 per month

Nokia 8

The Nokia 8 is another smartphone which isn’t officially supported in the US, but you can pick it up warranty-less and for GSM networks (like AT&T and T-Mobile) at Amazon for $480. It’s available in all four color variants at, though Tempered Blue is the least expensive, and Amazon undercuts the prices of a number of other resellers who are charging a bomb for it.

Buy Now: Nokia 8 64 GB – $479.43

OnePlus 5T

OnePlus tends to discount its accessories rather than its hardware, which is why it avoided the Black Friday shenanigans last month. Thus, the best offer for the OnePlus 5T is still directly from OnePlus — coming in at $499 and $559 for the 64 GB and 128 GB models respectively.

That being said, if you’re a student, OnePlus does provide 10% discount on any order, including those on the OnePlus 5T: full details here.

Buy Now: OnePlus 5T 64 GB – $499
Buy Now: OnePlus 5T 128 GB – $559

Razer Phone

The Razer Phone landed this year and the company hit the ground running. While its camera is substandard, its display, audio and performance capabilities are well above average, and it doesn’t look half bad, either. 

It’s a brand new phone and will cost you $699 from the official Razer store, however, as we noted yesterday, you can get it with a Leviathan Mini Bluetooth speaker worth $180 if you order by the end of today (December 19): just use the promo code PHLVLUP at the checkout when you’re ordering the phone.

Buy Now: Razer Phone 64 GB – $699

Samsung Galaxy Note 8

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 was the fan favorite handset of 2017, and it was a runner-up in our own tests. It’s been seen for around $949 since launch and still costs that in most places. You can pick it for a fair discount eBay right now without warranty, but considering the last Note’s troubles, I’d hesitate to recommend it without some kind of protection.

You can get the Note 8 for up to $400 off with Samsung’s official trade-in offer (which you can find via Samsung.com at the first link below) while Amazon has it available for a slightly lower price at $919 (Midnight Black color only).

Buy Now: Samsung Galaxy Note 8 64 GB – $950
Buy Now: Samsung Galaxy Note 8 64 GB – $919.42

Sony Xperia XZ1

There were probably fewer words written about the Xperia XZ1 online than there should have been. It might not have had the trendy bezel-less design of other flagships, but it’s still an excellent phone. Most places are holding firm with a $599 price tag at the moment, but this is already $100 less than what the XZ1 was introduced for; check it out on Amazon underneath.

Buy Now: Sony Xperia XZ1 64 GB – $597.90

Have you seen any better deals than what’s on our list? Let us know what they are in the comments.

Invisible Flying Wizards

In one of my campaigns in one future session the group will come upon a castle. The gates are locked, there are guards on the battlements. Thus there is a challenge to the group to overcome: How do they get into the castle? Now this sounds like classic situation for Dungeons & Dragons. However through most of the history of D&D this was more of a headache for DMs if their group was at least level 5: Wizards had spells like Fly and Invisibility, and that made “sneaking into the castle to open the back door” boring instead of a challenge. So why would I put it in one of my adventures? Because 5th edition cleverly solved the invisible flying wizard problem!

Many of the spells in 5th edition are now using concentration, a new concept. If you want to fly, you can cast the Fly spell, but you will need to concentrate on it. Not only does that mean that if you are hit by an arrow, you have to do a concentration check or fall to the ground; it also means that you can only concentrate on one spell at once. Flying, yes, invisibility, yes, but not both at the same time. Thus the Rogue, who *can* be simultaneously stealthy and climbing walls, isn’t put out of a job by the invisible flying Wizard any more.

Having said that, for some classes the concentration concept is overused and ends up making their spellcasting overly weak. A prime example is the paladin, who has very few non-concentration spells, at least at lower to mid-level. Spells like the level 1 smites really shouldn’t be concentration, as they are already not very powerful and concentration means they don’t work with more important spells like Bless or Compelled Duel. For the Warlock the fact that Hex is a concentration spell and the very staple of his existence, makes any other concentration spell nearly useless.

So, yes, concentration is a useful new concept. But I think it is currently applied to too many spells and could be better balanced.

An alternative explanation for Harvey

As a scientist I do believe in man-made global warming. So do the governments and the majority of citizens of every country in the world, except for Syria, Nicaragua, and the USA. The science says that global warming is likely to increase the occurrence and effect of catastrophic weather events. In particular an increase in the power of hurricanes and the amount of rain they carry has been predicted by the models years ago. Nobody is saying that hurricane Harvey is man-made, as hurricanes already existed long before man burning fossil fuel. But the fact that Harvey brought more rain than ever before observed on the American continent (the National Weather Service needed to add new colors to an expanded rain scale to map it) fits rather well with the predictions. So of course the US climate change deniers, first and foremost the Trump administration, react somewhat miffed if asked about climate change right now.

So I was thinking that one should keep an open mind and respect the believes of those who do not trust science. And I came up with an alternative explanation for Harvey which doesn’t rely on science or an assumption of man-made climate change: Hurricane Harvey was an act of God, or more precisely the wrath of God. God sent Harvey to express his displeasure with the vain and godless Trump administration. Which is why he sent the hurricane to deeply Republican Texas, and not to Democratic California. In his mercy, God intended Harvey as a stern warning. If the USA doesn’t get rid of Trump he will send further punishment, like heavenly fire (in the form of North Korean nukes). Repent now and kick Trump out, before it is too late!

I hope this inclusive multi-cultural approach makes my less scientific and more religious readers happy. 🙂

Life is Pay2Win

I was listening to some well-known YouTubers complaining about lootboxes in new games like Star Wars Battlefront II or Shadow of War and pointing out in painstaking detail how getting this or that bonus unbalances the game in favor of people who buy lootboxes. However they appeared to be totally okay with other people getting the exactly same bonuses by grinding the game for many, many hours. And that annoyed me. Wouldn’t we be much better off if our multiplayer PvP games would be perfectly balanced and the outcome only determined by skill? If you can get bonuses that make you much stronger than another player, why would it matter whether you got them by playing the game for endless hours or by using your credit card? It appeared to me as if some hardcore gamers are quite okay with a game being unfair, as long as that unfairness favors them and their kind.

The only advantage playing a game for longer should be the skill you acquire by practice. Any other bonus you get from grinding is in fact a historical and economical anomaly. The practice will certainly disappear over the coming decade, because it simply isn’t in the interest of game companies to keep doing so. Companies don’t *want* players that use a lot of their bandwidth but give them no money. The only free players they want is those that they are still trying to persuade to cough up some cash.

Fact is that life itself is Pay2Win. In a consumer society, the more money you have, the more luxury you can afford. The whole “American Dream” idea is built around the concept that money is the yardstick for success in life, and that by working hard on pursuits that actually earn you money or improve your chances to earn money later, you are leading a better life. Even the people who would like wealth to be redistributed don’t complain about the fact that more money buys you a better car or the best seats in the theater. So why exactly should video games be exempt from that?

Games went from being fair and balanced to being unfair based on time spent. Now they are moving from there to being unfair based on money spent. People complaining about that on YouTube or various internet forums isn’t going to change that, because millions of people will buy those new games with their new unfairness. Because for millions of people the new unfairness is actually an improvement over the old unfairness. Gaming has become a mass market for the general population, and in the general population there are more people who can afford to spend $100 than there are people who can afford to spend 100 hours. Calling for that to be rolled back to the previous state of unfairness doesn’t even have the benefit of being moral, the moral situation would be games that don’t give you any advantages from neither time nor money.

Samsung Galaxy A8 and A8 Plus announced: Sleek, selfie-focused mid-rangers

Samsung just announced its new mid-range phones, the Galaxy A8 (2018) and Galaxy A8 Plus (2018).

Replacing the 2017 Galaxy A lineup, the Galaxy A8 and Galaxy A8 Plus feature attractive specs and a design that is inspired by the Galaxy S series. The coolest feature is the dual front cameras, which feature f 1.9 lenses and portrait mode.

A simpler naming scheme

In recent years, Samsung has released several popular phones in the mid range as part of the A series. The naming convention for these devices – Galaxy A3, Galaxy A5 and Galaxy A7 – conflicted with the way Samsung names its most important devices, the Galaxy S and Galaxy Note series.

With the 2018 generation, Samsung has renamed the Galaxy A5 to Galaxy A8 (2018) and the Galaxy A7 to Galaxy A8 Plus (2018).

We don’t know for now what happened to the Galaxy A3. Did Samsung kill it? Will it be folded in the Galaxy J series?

Front-facing dual cameras

The Galaxy A8 and A8 Plus are the first Samsung phones with dual front cameras. These mid-rangers beat out the flagships to the punch, though dual front cameras have been a fixture on mid-range phones from other manufacturers.

The cameras feature f 1.9 lenses – basically, the lower the number the better – so they should give your selfie nice background blurs.

One of the cameras is 16MP, and the other one 8MP. Samsung says you can switch between them to get the type of shot you like, which makes it sound like they have different widths of angle.

Portrait modes are all the rage, and the Galaxy A8 and Galaxy A8 Plus are jumping on the bandwagon. You can take selfies and adjust the amount of blur in the background, before and after taking the image – this feature is called Live Focus and we’ve seen it before on the rear dual camera of the Galaxy Note 8.

You also get stickers and a beauty mode to spice up your self-portraits.

Familiar design, competent specs

The new Galaxy A8 (2018) and Galaxy A8 Plus (2018) look a lot like Samsung’s 2017 devices, mixing a smooth glass back with a metallic chassis and the 18.5:9 display form factor.

They are available in black, orchid grey, gold and blue.

The Galaxy A8 features a 5.6-inch Full HD+ (“+” denoting it’s an 18.5:9 panel), while the A8 Plus goes up to 6 inches, but keeps the same resolution.

The two phones share most of the key specs, including the cameras (16 MP PDAF f 1.7 on the back), an octa-core processor, 4GB of RAM, and 32/64GB of storage.

The smaller A8 features a 3,000 mAh battery. The A8 Plus gets an excellent 3,500 mAh – that’s the same as the much pricier Galaxy S8 Plus.

Both phones feature fingerprint sensors (placed below the rear camera), USB Type-C, Samsung Pay (with MST, so you can use them on older points of sale), and IP68 water and dust resistance.

Comparing the Galaxy A8 to the current generation

Compared to the 2017 Galaxy A5 and Galaxy A7, the Galaxy A8 (2018) and Galaxy A8 Plus (2018) offer updated designs that follow the Galaxy S series (much smaller bezels, fingerprint sensor is now on the back), as well as improvements to the processor, RAM and memory.

The biggest new feature is the dual front camera. The screens are also larger, though the actual size of the phone is almost unchanged. That’s probably why the battery capacity remained roughly the same.

Samsung Galaxy A8 and A8 Plus price and availability

You will be able to buy the Galaxy A8 (2018) and Galaxy A8 Plus (2018) starting from January. That’s the only detail that Samsung has revealed so far, but we expect to learn more at CES Las Vegas, when we’ll also go our hands on these two phones.

If the price of previous phones in the A series is any indication, the new A8 and A8 Plus will cost in the $350-$450 range, depending on the market.

Thoughts on the new Galaxy A8 (2018) and Galaxy A8 Plus (2018)?

Learn the Bootstrap Grid in 15 Minutes : BootStrap – ResponSive Designing

Bootstrap grid system

Bootstrap is a free and open-source front-end web framework for designing websites and web applications. Unlike many web frameworks, it concerns itself with front-end development only. Anybody who knows HTML, CSS and a bit of Java Script can learn Bootstrap in no time. Responsive page layout is the layout which can change and adapt depending on the screen size of the device the user is on.

The grid consists of rows and columns. This allows us to freely position elements vertically and horizontally. Rows are block level. This means, that when we create a row, it takes up the entire width of the element it is in. You can think of rows as new lines in your layout. The horizontal alignment in the grid is done via columns. Only columns can be the direct children of a row and all content should go inside them. Placing content directly within a row will break the layout.
        
Syntax for the Bootstrap grid system:


<div class="row">


<div class="col-md-12">Content Goes Here</div>

</div>      
Rows are divided horizontally into 12 equal parts. When we place a column inside a row, we have to specify the number of parts it is going to take up. 
        
This is done by using special class .col-md-NUMBER , here Number can be 1 to 12 depending on the width of the element getting placed in that column.

components of the grid system
 
In the class name .col-md-NUMBER  md stands for medium display size. To make the page responsive we use different classes because bootstrap uses the screen resolution and dpi into account when deciding which classes are active. This is a powerful way how to control how layouts render on different devices. 


classes used in bootstrap


To make it responsive according to screen size we use :


<div class="row"> <div class="col-xs-12 col-md-6"><p> To learn Angular JS and BootStrap visit http://monster.suvenconsultants.com/#section-angularJs-Bootsrtap . </p></div>


<div class="col-xs-12 col-md-6">Content</div>

output for the code where desktop will show elements horizontally and in mobile it will view vertical



Clearfix :
In some scenarios, when a column has much more content and a bigger height then the ones after it, the layout will break. The columns will all pile up under each other, instead of moving to the next line as they should. To make the page look perfectly aligned we use clearifix.

syntax to use clearfix:

<div class="row">
<div class="col-xs-6 tall-column">A column much taller than the rest.</div>
<div class="col-xs-6"></div>
<div class="clearfix"></div>
<div class="col-xs-6"></div>
</div>

even if the height is different next element will display on the next row


Offsets :
By default, columns stick to each other without leaving any space, floating to the left. Any excess space remaining in that row stays empty on the right. to leave space on the left side we use offsets
classes used in offsets


Example for offsets:

<div class="container">
<div class="row">
<div class="col-xs-5 col-xs-offset-4">col-xs-5 col-xs-offset-4</div>
<div class="col-xs-9 col-xs-offset-2">col-xs-9 col-xs-offset-2</div>
<div class="col-xs-6 col-xs-offset-1">col-xs-6 col-xs-offset-1</div>
<div class="col-xs-4 col-xs-offset-1">col-xs-4 col-xs-offset-1</div>
<div class="col-xs-11 col-xs-offset-1">col-xs-11 col-xs-offset-1</div>
<div class="col-xs-10">col-xs-10</div>
<div class="col-xs-7">col-xs-7</div> </div>
<div class="row"> <div class="col-xs-5">col-xs-5</div> </div>
<div class="row">
<div class="col-xs-7">col-xs-7</div>
<div class="col-xs-10">col-xs-10</div>
<div class="col-xs-11 col-xs-offset-1">col-xs-11 col-xs-offset-1</div>
<div class="col-xs-11 col-xs-offset-1">col-xs-11 col-xs-offset-1</div>
<div class="col-xs-9 col-xs-offset-2">col-xs-9 col-xs-offset-2</div>
<div class="col-xs-5 col-xs-offset-4">col-xs-5 col-xs-offset-4</div>
</div> </div>


   


offset will keep the blank space on left side


To make it more clear:


CONCLUSION:
Great job! You now know the most important part of the Bootstrap framework, and you’re ready to build your next responsive design. Interested in learning bootstrap ?  . 

Mobile games growing up

The #1 on the iOS app charts this week is Fortnite, despite the fact that the game only runs if you got an invite from Epic. The pull is that except for the control scheme the game is equivalent to the PC / console version. Likewise Civilization VI exists in a mobile version equivalent to the PC game, and Final Fantasy XV on mobile is also rather close to the console version. Meanwhile PC and console games are getting closer to mobile standards regarding their business models, if you consider lootboxes.

There appears to be a huge demand to play AAA games on the go. It is one of the explanations frequently cited to explain the huge success of the Nintendo Switch console, in spite of obvious battery life problems of the concept. But the Nintendo Switch as a mobile device at least still has the same JoyCon controllers, which works a lot better than just a touch screen for some games. I wouldn’t be surprised if we would see alternative controllers that can be connected to Android and iOS mobile gaming platforms in the future.

There are still some issues to resolve on the way. Civilization VI is $60 on Steam, but there are various deals to get it much cheaper; I personally paid $12 as part of a Humble Bundle Monthly. On iOS Civilization VI costs $65, and the best deal ever was the introductory half price. With the PC version having more options in the form of DLC, as well as user-made mods from the Steam Workshop, paying more for the somewhat less mobile version doesn’t look attractive. Final Fantasy XV is better, the Steam version costs $50, while the “pocket” mobile version is $20, and you can try for free or just buy some of the chapters if you want. As much as people might like the idea of mobile AAA games, the full price of a console game is very high compared to the usual price level of mobile games.

However the main attraction of high-priced AAA games is that they tend to be “pay once, play forever”. Some companies believe that when porting games to a mobile platform, they should rather use the business models of mobile games, sometimes to a rather exploitative extent. The Sims Mobile is only playable in short bursts, until you run out of energy; then you either need to wait for hours for the energy to restore itself, or spend real money to advance with prices that make the highly expensive The Sims DLC look cheap (The Sims 4 isn’t on Steam. The Sims 3 from 2009 is, and still has $550 worth of DLCs listed.)

Part of the reason that mobile platforms are catching up to the PC is that the period of fast development of PC graphics appears to be over. My 3-year old graphics card (Geforce GTX 970) in my 4-year old computer is still playing every game at good frame rates. I used to have to change PCs every 2 years to keep up. And as Final Fantasy XV pocket edition shows, you can downgrade graphics for mobile platforms and customers won’t care all that much, as long as the gameplay is good.

In summary, I do believe that there is a trend towards more AAA games on mobile platforms. And as long as that happens at reasonable prices, I’m all for it.

Unbelievable Censorship: Trump Bans CDC from Using These 7 Words

The forbidden words include “vulnerable,” “diversity,” and “science-based.”

Donald Trump’s administration has reportedly banned the Center for Disease Control from using seven words and phrases, including “science-based” and “transgender,” in documents it is working on for next year’s budget.

 

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FCC officially repeals net neutrality rules: what now?

Huffington Post

Net neutrality is officially dead, but what does that mean for Internet users in the US and beyond? Will it ever come back? Read on to find out.

Editor’s Pick

Brief background

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months, you’ve probably heard a thing or two about net neutrality, an ongoing debate in the US. Net neutrality required service providers to treat every content equally: no throttling, blocking, or providing preferential treatment for additional fee. These rules were one of the Obama-era FCC’s signature achievements, but with Ajit Pai in charge, a former Verizon employee, and two other Republicans, the organization’s stance on net neutrality has changed drastically. The FCC wanted to get rid of net neutrality altogether and undo the classification of ISPs as Title II common carriers, and that’s precisely what they voted to do on December 14.

December 14 vote

As expected, the FCC voted 3-2 to repeal these landmark regulations just few days ago, the organization claiming that “the Internet wasn’t broken in 2015.” Pai commented, “We were not living in some digital dystopia. The main problem consumers have with the Internet is not and has never been that their Internet provider is blocking content. It’s been that they don’t have access at all.”

The two Democrat commissioners who dissented echoed the sentiments of net neutrality advocates: Jessica Rosenworcel says that the FCC’s “rash decision” gives Internet providers permission to “discriminate and manipulate your internet traffic.” Mignon Clyburn delivered a powerful and impassioned defense, claiming that the FCC’s vote was “particularly damning… for marginalized groups, like communities of color, that rely on platforms like the internet to communicate.”

Legal challenges?

Let’s first examine the legal implications, and the bottom line is that there will be lawsuits with a lot of interveners, challenging the FCC’s vote. Public interest groups like Free Press and Public Knowledge have already declared that they will challenge the repeal in court; the New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said he and other attorneys general from more than 15 states will file a legal challenge in the coming days.

These legal claims are likely to rely on the Administrative Procedures Act, which prohibits federal agencies from acting in a “capricious” manner, going back and forth on decisions with changes in political administration. However, as Wired points out, “As capricious as the current FCC’s about-face may seem, legal experts say the challenges won’t be a slam-dunk case. Federal agencies are allowed to change their minds about previous regulations, so long as they adequately explain their reasoning.” The onus is on the claimants to show that the FCC’s decision is a capricious one, which is going to be difficult to prove.

It’s going to be difficult to prove that the repeal was a capricious decision.

Net neutrality advocates may also point out that while the FCC claims that 7.5 million comments it received during the public review period were spam, created by bots, it is refusing to help investigations into what happened. It’s unlikely to have much weight, unfortunately.

Will average users feel the change?

Yes and no. It’s unlikely that Internet users in the US will be impacted – either positively or negatively ­– by the repeal overnight. As AT&T’s senior executive VP Bob Quinn points out, the Internet will “continue to work tomorrow just as it always has.” In fact, many service providers like AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon have promised not to block or throttle content. For now. The catch here is that their stance may change in the future, and even if it doesn’t and they continue to stay away from blocking or throttling content, they may still create fast lanes for their own services or for those who pay a premium.

Indeed, what we are likely to see in the future is an expanded form of zero-rating where service providers exempt certain streaming services from data counts. Carriers have been doing this even under net neutrality rules were (though the legal validity of this practice was called into question multiple times); without net neutrality rules, there is nothing even remotely getting in the way of these carriers from providing preferential treatment to its own streaming services.

Further, contrary to Pai’s statement that the Internet wasn’t broken even before 2015, and contrary to his supporters who claim that carriers won’t dare throttle or block content in fear of public backlash, the long-term effects of the FCC’s vote could be devastating. Comcast throttling BitTorrent connections, AT&T blocking voice-call services like Skype and FaceTime, or Netflix paying additional fees to Verizon are the sorts of behavior that we saw prior to net neutrality rules and there’s no reason why they wouldn’t return now that net neutrality rules have been repealed.

Comcast throttling BitTorrent or AT&T blocking FaceTime are the sorts of behavior that we saw prior to net neutrality rules.

Ultimately, the FCC’s decision gives significant leeway to ISPs: they may one day decide to block certain apps and websites, slow down content provided by competitors, bury relevant but unpaid search results, etc. Consumers in the US may end up having to choose Internet packages like TV channels, similar to what we see in some European countries. The most popular websites like Google, Amazon, and Netflix may one day be dispersed and inconveniently grouped into separate, overpriced packages. Want Google as well as Netflix? Pay up!

What about those outside the US?

Of course, given that the FCC is a US organization, its decision to repeal net neutrality rules won’t have a direct impact on other countries and users in other countries. However, if your country does have legislation similar to net neutrality rules, you might want to keep an eye on the political side of things. Policy decisions made in the US usually have a far-reaching indirect effect on neighboring countries, Anglophone countries, and countries that have special ties with the US.

Even if your country has made it clear that it wants to uphold net neutrality rules or the equivalent legislation, there may be financial factors to consider. If companies like Netflix or Spotify are adversely affected by the FCC’s decision in the US and are forced to pay more by ISPs, they will most likely increase monthly subscription fees for users in the US as well as for users outside the US.

What can you do?

Unfortunately, for those of you who are in support of net neutrality rules, there isn’t much to be done right now. Over the next few months, we will see legal battles between public interest groups and attorneys general and the FCC; we will see heated political debates; we will see predictions from both sides – those who are in favor and those who are not. Only time will tell if net neutrality rules were indeed preventing the arrival of cyber-dystopia or if they were simply an obstacle to corporate profit and further investment.