Geekly Update - 17 September 2015

Category: Tech-News

What's bigger than an elephant, and plays PacMan? What will inmates in Spokane be doing with their free tablet computers? What city has the fastest Internet? And why does the Tesla guy want to drop a few nukes on Mars? Get answers to these burning questions, and the scoop on the latest tech news, in this edition of the Geekly Update. It's guaranteed to make you 146% smarter. Read, think and comment!

The AskBobRankin Geekly Update

Think your Internet’s slow? NASA’s New Horizons space probe is just starting an enormous dump of data it collected during its close encounter with the planet Pluto. It will take a year to download at 1 to 4 kilobits per second. (That's ten times SLOWER than a dialup Internet connection.)

On the flipside, 10 GIGAbit-per-second Internet access is coming to Salisbury, NC. Courtesy of Google? Nope. Verizon? Nope. Comcast? Please. Nope, the city government is implementing the fastest municipal network in the nation. (That's about 250,000 times FASTER than dialup.)

An arcade game machine that’s taller than an adult African elephant has made it into the Guinness Book of Records. It features 200 classic games, lots of flashing lights, and requires climbing a set of stairs to reach the controls. Jason Camberis, a network engineer from Chicago, says he designed and fabricated the oversized machine to bring joy into a world filled with bad news.
Geekly Update 09-17-2015

The Asus RT-AC5300U router looks like something police throw across a road to stop fleeing cars, but the 8-antenna gadget provides up to three separate WiFi networks, each capable of 1 to 2 Gbps throughput. It includes embedded FTP and SAMBA file servers, and a DLNA media server. (Just in case you wanted to embed a little SAMBA, or serve up some delicious DLNA.)

Amazon Prime customers can now download certain videos and watch them offline on iOS and Android devices. No word if such content disappears once a Prime membership expires.

Spokane (WA) County Jail inmates will soon be getting tablets courtesy of Global Tel Link. Inmates will be able to phone relatives using prepaid phone cards, order items from the commissary, and file grievance complaints via the strictly locked-down devices. “They won’t be getting on Facebook,” says jail command John McGrath. Of course not... they'll be too busy hacking into McGrath's email.

From the "Why Didn't I Think of That?" Department: In order to colonize Mars, we’d have to make the Red Planet more Earth-like. Tesla founder Elon Musk suggests two methods: pump greenhouse gases into Mars’ atmosphere, or drop nuclear bombs on Mars’ poles.

Polaroid (yes, it’s still around) announced a new Polaroid SNAP digital camera that instantly prints 2x3 inch copies of snapshots using inkless paper technology. It will be available in Q4 for $99.

The Justice Dept. now requires the FBI and other federal agents to obtain search warrants before using “stingray” devices that scoop up data from every cell phone in their vicinity, not just legitimate targets. The feds must also stop lying to judges about the technology they plan to use in search warrant applications. Or, else!

Watch for $50 Amazon Kindle Fire tablets during the holiday season. Amazon also plans to launch a 10-inch tablet soon.

Canon has developed an “insane” 250 Megapixel image sensor small enough to fit in a DSLR camera. Intended for ultra-high resolution measurement and “specialized surveillance and crime prevention tools,” it can read the letters on an airplane from a distance of 11 miles. So behave yourselves, drone pilots.

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Most recent comments on "Geekly Update - 17 September 2015"

Posted by:

Jay, Texas
17 Sep 2015

You say "(That's ten times SLOWER than a dialup Internet connection.)"
I see this type of quantification used frequently and I want to know what it means. I can comprehend something being 10 times faster because times is a method of increasing a quantity. What I can't comprehend is something being any number of times smaller or slower. I can comprehend something being one tenth as fast or one tenth of the size of something else. But ten times smaller or slower does not compute in my mind and I wish all writers especially science writers would stop using those kinds of phrases when comparing quantities because I have no way of knowing what they are saying.

EDITOR'S NOTE: I'm sure you do know what I meant, and you're being pedantic. If Train A is moving at 100 mph, and Train B is moving at 10 mph, then Train B is ten times slower. Multiplying by 0.1 is the same as dividing by 10. I could say that "Train B is an order of magnitude slower" or "Train B is moving at one-tenth the speed" but I think all of those forms are equally obvious.

Posted by:

17 Sep 2015

Since there are not many replies, I will add my 2cents here:
I don't have an issue with "10 times less" but I do have to do a 'double' look when the simple math gets into the percentages (%). In this specific case, would this (100 versus 10) be 90% less? Or in the case of 100 versus 200; would that be 50% more?
Similarly, I also get confoozled when "percent difference" (delta %) is used and especially when percentage figures magically turn into 'points'!
I have never been a gambling person but when talk turns into "odds", I don't even want to be in the same room.

Posted by:

17 Sep 2015

We can order a 7" fire now for $49.99 with free shipping. Buy 5 and get one free.

Posted by:

William Bright
18 Sep 2015

I live 20 mile away from Salisbury, 4 miles from Winston Salem, so I guess that counts me out. My choice is Time Warner or AT&T U-verse. I use Time Warners Extreme internet connection.

Posted by:

18 Sep 2015

Imagine.. a camera that spits out an instant picture. How novel.....50 years ago. Nothing new here.

Posted by:

Jay, Texas
18 Sep 2015

Perhaps I am being pedantic as you claim. But I am sure that you have no way of knowing if I understand what you mean when you say "ten times slower".
Just after I posted my original comment, as I hurried to prepare to leave for a commitment, I realized that I should have qualified what I said by saying that multiplication by any number greater than 1 always results in a larger number and that multiplying by a fraction results in a smaller number. Unfortunately, I did not have time to correct my omission.
While it is true that multiplying by 0.1 results in a number that is one tenth of the size of the number multiplied by 0.1, I contend that it is not ten times less than the original number, it is one tenth of the original number. Furthermore, I recognize that saying "one tenth of" is not nearly as dramatic and does not produce the visceral response that saying "ten times less" produces. I propose to you that that is the crux of the matter; being dramatic or might I even say hyperbolic makes better copy than being precise. When it comes down to it I suppose that is what I actually object to, that the members of the media have become so accustomed to being dramatic that they choose drama at every opportunity.

Posted by:

18 Sep 2015

I agree 100% with Jay, 10 times slower is not accurate, one-tenth the speed is accurate. Sloppy English should not be used when the correct English is readily available and completely devoid of any confusion!!!!

Posted by:

18 Sep 2015

I agree 100% with Jay, 10 times slower is not accurate, one-tenth the speed is accurate. Sloppy English should not be used when the correct English is readily available and completely devoid of any confusion!!!!

Posted by:

21 Sep 2015

As always a very informative compilation for your Geekly Update.
Thank you!

Posted by:

The 146%
23 Sep 2015

After reading all these comments, I think I'm now 146% dumber than I was when I first started reading this article.

Posted by:

24 Sep 2015

I knew what you meant Bob and I like your writing style. It's obvious to me you're very good at math and the choice to write 10 times smaller was a good one. Great responses from Jay showing us how smart he is proves that. Jay is an excellent writer as well. I would subscribe to his newsletter if he had one. Lol!

Posted by:

19 Oct 2015

I was at first surprised that anyone would comment on the "ten time SLOWER" phrase, but then I noticed the title of the article, and it all made sense.

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