Gongol.com Archives: June 2014

Brian Gongol

June 16, 2014

Computers and the Internet A formula for success in 2014
Time with books > time with Facebook. Facebook claims that the average user spends almost 20 minutes per day with their site. At an average reading pace of about 300 words per minute, that would equate to reading between 2.1 and 2.2 million words per year. A novel aimed at adults is usually in the neighborhood of 100,000 words. So anyone who spends equal time with books as with Facebook can expect to read 20 books a year or more. Make those the right kinds of books, and you're talking about some serious potential for personal development.

Business and Finance A backwards understanding of "work" isn't helping American workers

Health Self-repairing teeth could be available in three years
Stimulating minerals to aggregate at the site of damage could allow teeth to be rebuilt without fillings

Weather and Disasters We need more weather radar installations
Of all the things on which we could choose to spend Federal tax dollars, additional weather radar sites should be near the top of the list. Tonight's severe weather struck in several places where the nearest Nexrad is 100 miles away, which means there's very little effective coverage anywhere close to the ground...in other words, where the real dangerous action is. In Iowa, Mason City, Waterloo, Storm Lake, and Ottumwa all get peripheral coverage at best. Very few things make better sense for public expenditure than tools to help the National Weather Service detect and warn about severe weather that affects everybody, even in less-densely-populated areas. They're probably too polite at the NWS to ask for the funds, but the need is self-evident.

Health Whooping cough is at "epidemic" proportions in California
Yes, whooping cough. That thoroughly preventable disease. But since there's a vocal and self-encouraging anti-vaccination movement afoot, people's lives are being put at risk. Two infants have already died. Immunization works.

Business and Finance Ikea makes the ill-advised choice to go after its most enthusiastic consumers
People who "hack" Ikea products to do new and unusual things have been told to stop calling themselves "Ikea hackers". It's one thing to protect your brand...it's quite another to slap the people who adore your brand with threats.

News Russia cuts off natural gas to Ukraine
This should surprise exactly nobody. Gazprom says Ukraine is on a cash-and-carry basis, and is rumbling that the EU might not get what it expects if the gas has to travel through Ukraine. The EU gets about 15% of its natural gas via that route, but a marginal 15% in the middle of a cold streak in winter could be back-breaking. Virtually all wars and international disputes come down to matters of resources and how far opposing parties are willing to go to get them. This one doesn't have the makings of a situation that ends well.

Computers and the Internet Digital files can rot
It's called "bitrot" -- the process by which digital files, susceptible to the chance failures of physical components in a computer storage system, become unreadable due to the loss of individual bits and bytes. And it can claim entire files...and does. That's why good backup procedures are a must. (That advice, by the way, applies to Federal agencies like the IRS, which had a faulty system for backing up email and computer files that, coincidentally enough, led to the loss of two years' worth of emails to and from Lois Lerner, who's the subject of a Congressional investigation over whether some groups were scrutinized differently than others when they applied for tax-exempt status.)

Water News When you work across the street from a party-bus company

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