Archive for the ‘tech’ Category
Putting aside the particulars of Bitcoin, the potential it represents is absolutely a very big deal.
Bitcoin and the breakthrough it represents, broadly speaking, changes all that. For the first time something can be both digital and unique, without any real world representation. The particulars of Bitcoin and its hotly-debated value as a currency I think cloud this fact for many observers; the breakthrough I’m talking about in fact has nothing to do with currency, and could in theory be applied to all kinds of objects that can’t be duplicated, from stock certificates to property deeds to wills and more.
That’s not the case with Bitcoin though. Anticipating the amount of power that would be thrown at mining Bitcoin, Satashi Nakamoto built in a simple escalator that ensured new Bitcoin would be released about every 10 minutes no matter the amount of power being applied to mining/verification. This has effectively locked Bitcoin miners into a zero sum contest wherein greater and greater computing power serves only to steal opportunity from fellow miners; there is no corresponding increase in Bitcoin to be had.
[I remain unconvinced of Bitcoin as currency. But the uniqueness is interesting...]
Last year, Ars Technica gave three experts a 16,000-entry encrypted password file, and asked them to break as many as possible. The winner got 90% of them, the loser 62% — in a few hours. It’s the same sort of thing we saw in 2012, 2007, and earlier. If there’s any new news, it’s that this kind of thing is getting easier faster than people think.
[It's not going to get easier for a while...]
My brain almost exploded when I realized this. While 5G is a big leap in performance from existing 4G technology, it doesn’t provide any fundamentally new capabilities to us. Wireless power, though would be a total game-changer. What would the implications be?
- Consumer electronics that never need to be plugged in again – phones, tablets, laptops, televisions could all be powered wirelessly in the home and office.
- With transmission towers spaced every kilometer along major highways, electric cars would not need massive, expensive batteries. Everyone could afford a Tesla, and the demand for oil would drop.
- With transmitters on a few rooftops in a city, you could have drones and quadcopters delivering groceries and mail, again without heavy batteries that limit their flying time.
- You could build an electrical grid that’s a wireless mesh network, especially in developing countries, and have excess power from solar panels beamed to other locations which need it.
There are probably a slew of other ideas that I haven’t even considered – readers, please comment below!
[A potentially amazing new technology, even if all it allows is streaming of 4k programming. If Verizon wants to get involved in wireless over fiber (don't be fooled, they serve different needs) let's see them roll out some of this in an aggressive game changing way.]
Whatever amount Verizon did spend on FiOS — and obviously it was a not insignificant amount — would therefore appear to have come out of the standard construction budgets that were supposed to be used to upgrade the lines that most Americans are still using for their phone service: the Public Switched Telephone Networks, or PSTN. It would seem that customers, including seniors, low income families, minorities and municipalities have been funding the construction of a cable service through the hefty monthly fees they pay for a dialtone and ancillary services. In some states this is actually illegal.
If Verizon did actually spend $23 billion, then it appears to have come at the expense of the traditional maintenance and upgrades of the utility plant — and the PSTN got totally hosed. At the very least, prices for basic phone service should have been in steep decline as one of the major costs, construction, was dramatically lowered.
Instead, Verizon was also getting rate increases specifically to pay for FiOS. For instance, Verizon persuaded New York officials to increase rates for “fiber optic investments,” where the only service that could use the fiber optic service was Verizon’s FiOS.
For instance, when New York State Department of Public Service Commission Chairman Garry Brown announced the approval of a $1.95 a month rate hike for residential phone lines in 2009, he said “there are certain increases in Verizon’s costs that have to be recognized.” He explained: “This is especially important given the magnitude of the company’s capital investment program, including its massive deployment of fiber optics in New York. We encourage Verizon to make appropriate investments in New York, and these minor rate increases will allow those investments to continue.”
Of course the states weren’t told that everyone would be charged extra for a service that only some people were going to get. In New Jersey, for instance, Verizon made a firm commitment to rewire the entire state with fiber optics — capable of 45 Mbps in both directions. It was supposed to be 100 percent completed by 2010. Instead, Verizon claims to have “passed” 1.9 million homes, representing 57 percent of the households in its territories — but “passed” may or may not mean that they can actually get service.
What’s most damning to their argument is that they’ve all acted within common-carrier boundaries anyway for most of broadband’s existence, with very few exceptions, and they continue to make record profits, expand service (mostly), and increase speeds. Common-carrier regulation would simply prevent some very harmful “innovations” that the ISPs have, to date, never needed to remain profitable and keep expanding.
Don’t believe their bullshit. They’d be perfectly fine as common carriers. Almost nothing would change from the way they’ve always operated.
Great piece by Nilay Patel at The Verge:
American politicians love to stand on the edges of important
problems by insisting that the market will find a solution. And
that’s mostly right; we don’t need the government meddling in
places where smart companies can create their own answers. But you
can’t depend on the market to do anything when the market doesn’t
exist. “We can either have competition, which would solve a lot of
these problems, or we can have regulation,” says Aaron. “What
Comcast is trying is to have neither.” It’s insanity, and we keep
lying to ourselves about it. It’s time to start thinking about
ways to actually do something.
Netflix paying Comcast is the canary in the coal mine.
[Smack on. There's so much wrong with what's going lately (carriage wars) because these are the same companies that argue over these things with the television companies. And the other side of the equation is also unbalanced (how much we get charged for really poor access... (I expect us all to have Gigabit Internet)). I guess the only way forward is around these folks, and I'll bet based on what I've seen recently in network technology that it is possible.]
Source: Daring Fireball
Please read this piece by David Raphael.
Summary: They’re slowing down access to AWS. If you host your application there, your readers and users get lower performance. Their reason, presumably is that they want Amazon or Netflix to pay to get the performance back (Netflix runs on AWS).
This is an outgrowth of a recent court decision that says they can do this.
But they probably will re-think it if it gets them the bad name they deserve.
[Shameful. Where's gigabit Internet I can feel good about?]
I don’t know why anyone’s surprised. To be clear, for anyone who thinks Google is some benevolent, selfless entity handing out free services to everyone out of the goodness of its heart:
Google’s leadership, threatened by the attention and advertising relevance of Facebook, is betting the company on Google+ at all costs.
Google+ adoption and usage is not meeting their expectations. Facebook continues to dominate. It’s not working. They’re desperate.
Google will continue to sell out and potentially ruin its other properties to juice Google+ usage. These efforts haven’t worked very well: they juice the numbers just enough that Google will keep doing this, yet will keep needing to do more.
Making Google+ succeed at all costs means exactly that. All previous rules are out the window. Google will eventually violate every formerly held principle if it might help Google+.
You, the users, are just along for the ride. You’re just eyeballs. Body parts and ad-targeting data. Google doesn’t care about you at all. You’ve tolerated enough already that it’s pretty clear you’re not really going anywhere.
[And this is news how? even if the target of their promotion has changed. And BTW, while all us tech geeks take Google to task for this, believing, for some period of time anyway that Google was "different" from other corporate entities, I don't see that they're "worse" than other corporations form this perspective. Just not any better either. ]
For consumers, technology should get out of the way — it’s a means, not an end. Consumers don’t have the mindset or training of IT techies, they don’t have the time or focus to build a mental representation of a network of devices, their interactions and failure modes.
[Well that might be a bit extreme, but *I* am certainly not interested in setting up all that infrastructure. And I do want my devices to work, and slowly ever so slowly, things are creeping in that direction.]
Want to know why Chromebooks that “don’t do as much as my “laptop” picked up a bit this year? Want to know why iPads and the like are a growing segment? Because they cross the 80% line of what so many people do. No doubt some of us do all kinds of complicated things that require “more” in some sense. And maybe as networking continues to improve and “cloud” resources become less general and more tailored this to will change. But for now, Sure. You can’t run Pro Tools in the cloud etc.
That said, lots and lots of folks don’t do that stuff and can work perfectly comfortably with a web browser alone. Would I want to code in Github’s web interface only? Not at the moment. But I’ve already checked in changes when I was out and about and someone mentioned a bug or problem that I knew I could easily fix. The build system takes it most of the rest of the way, and another phone app completes the process. It’s a long way from impossible, and that’s just one example of something that we “assume” in many cases require heftier hardware. And sometimes it does. For now. Maybe.
But many of us do things that are simpler from an experience standpoint. If you use Amazon, Facebook, Google for mail or documents or spreadsheets, etc. there’ almost no need for something more complicated than the pads or the Chromebooks. And they’re far simpler to run each in their own way.
More often than not a simpler experience is a better experience and is the disruptive force that topples company after company in the tech field (and others as well).