Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Net Neutrality Day of Action →

Many websites are taking part in today’s Net Neutrality Day of Action campaign in an effort to make clear the need for retention of neutrality rules to Congress and the FCC.

If you don’t know about Net Neutrality, please read my explainer, ‘Net Neutrality and You’. The Internet is something everyone should care to protect, regardless of your political affiliation.

Head over to Battle for the Net (linked) and tell the government to butt out.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Monday, July 3, 2017

U.S. denies visas for Afghanistan’s all-girl robotics team →

Amanda Erickson for The Washington Post:

For months, a team of six teenage girls has been scrambling to build a ball-sorting robot that will compete in an international competition. Other teams received their raw materials in March. But the box sent from America had been held up for months amid concerns about terrorism. So the young engineers improvised, building motorized machines from household materials.

I’m sure the hold up was a total coincidence.

To participate, the girls from the city of Herat in western Afghanistan needed permission to travel to the United States. So, after they convinced their parents to let them go, they made the 500-mile journey to the U.S. Embassy in Kabul to apply for their visas. They did this twice, even though that location was targeted by a deadly truck bomb.

Their determination to compete is inspiring and really puts things into perspective. I’ve never had to worry about a deadly truck bomb in order to do something I’m passionate about.

FIRST Global president and former congressman Joe Sestak was disappointed by the news and frustrated that the “extraordinarily brave young women” won’t be able to travel to the United States and instead will have to watch their robot compete via Skype. Teams from Iraq, Iran and Sudan will be at the competition.

The State Department should be ashamed for singling out the Afghanistan team. It’s an injustice for these girls to sit this out. More par for the course…

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Modern device repairability or: How I learned to stop worrying and love fixed components

Microsoft’s Surface Laptop was eviscerated (literally and figuratively) during the iFixit tear down. Of note, the Alcantara fabric that outlines the keyboard has no conceivable way to be removed without damaging the product and there are no screws that allow access to the innards. Their verdict was as follows:

The Surface Laptop is not a laptop. It’s a glue-filled monstrosity. There is nothing about it that is upgradable or long-lasting, and it literally can’t be opened without destroying it. (Show us the procedure, Microsoft, we’d love to be wrong.)

Harsh words, but it’s still a laptop, given its form factor. John Gruber pointed out the similarity to Apple products–namely the AirPods, saying:

Apple’s AirPods got a 0/10 from iFixit. That just goes to show how little correlation there is between iFixit’s concept of repairability and whether a product is good or not. I consider AirPods to be Apple’s best new product in years.

I think the argument here is that a product can perform well and have a great experience no matter how repairable it is. It could also be a piece of crap. In other words, repairability does not a good product make. I often view iFixit’s concerns about this topic to be a bit heavy-handed, but then I remember they are in the business of selling tools for that very purpose.

This does beg the question… in this day and age, with miniaturization and precision engineering, what is a reasonable expectation for repairability?

Read on

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Walt Mossberg's last column: The Disappearing Computer →

Walt Mossberg, legendary tech columnist, has written his last article. Walt is The Godfather of personal technology columns, since his first in the Wall Street Journal in October of 1991. This last column describes what he sees coming in the next 10-20 years, and how amazing it’s going to be.

Walt will definitely be missed, but I’m sure we’ll still see him around now and then.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Despite public concerns, the FCC will begin repealing Net Neutrality regulations

Save the Internet

Credit: Joseph Gruber License

Yesterday, the FCC voted to begin rolling back Net Neutrality regulations that classified Internet Service Providers as common carriers (utilities) under Title II of the Telecommunications Act back in 2015.

This simply cannot stand for the good of all Americans, and it comes after thousand of comments were left on the FCC’s website against repealing the rules. In case you missed it, my Net Neutrality post goes into more details about the concept as a whole.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai (a former Verizon lawyer, by the way) has frequently said “The Internet was not broken in 2015,” but he is completely missing the point. Net Neutrality exists to protect the internet, not fix anything that’s wrong with it. Read on to find out what’s next.

Read on

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Tesla Reveals Solar Roof Pricing →

Tesla Solar Roof tiles

Tom Randall for Bloomberg:

Tesla will begin with production of two of the four styles it unveiled in October: a smooth glass and a textured glass tile. 1 Roofing a 2,000 square-foot home in New York state—with 40 percent coverage of active solar tiles and battery backup for night-time use—would cost about $50,000 after federal tax credits and generate $64,000 in energy over 30 years, according to Tesla’s website calculator.

If you haven’t heard about Tesla’s Solar Roof (and tiles), you really should check them out. They’re made with tempered glass and claimed to be three times stronger than standard roofing tiles. Tesla continues to be the Apple of the car/energy industry, with this blend of design and engineering.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Net Neutrality and You

Save the Internet

Credit: Joseph Gruber License

You’ve probably heard the term “Net Neutrality” before, but what is it, really? It’s a highly important topic that should be on everyone’s radar, because it affects us all. It should be a non-partisan issue, but President Trump has already repealed FCC privacy rules, in addition to the GOP passing legislation to allow the sale of private Internet data. Now, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently announced plans to roll back regulations that classify Internet Service Providers (ISPs) as utilities. Read on for a breakdown of Net Neutrality and what we can do to fight for it.

Read on