Gongol.com Archives: 2015 Weekly Archives
Brian Gongol

April 28, 2015

Computers and the Internet Google's new mobile phone service piggybacks on WiFi
When away from a wireless computer network, "Project Fi" switches over to Sprint or T-Mobile, which means much of Iowa is in weak service territory. But for those who want $20-a-month cell phone service plus a pay-as-you-go data plan (and who don't mind having to use a Nexus 6 to get it, Google may be offering an option. Generally, it looks a lot like an electric car: If you're the right kind of user in a particular place where the infrastructure is ready for it, then it may be a suitable choice -- but not really for most people.

Science and Technology The most ridiculous gadgets on the market

Computers and the Internet Russian hackers got access to emails from the President
The security breach revealed last year is now reported to have included Presidential emails. The bad guys don't have to penetrate the highly-secure system that protects the President's personal messages in order to get through to the messages of his associates, which gives them access to the same information without the effort. You're only as secure as the person receiving your messages. We should want Presidents who understand and use technology, but we also need to know the limits of our own policies to protect us.

Science and Technology NTSB says CTA train crashed at O'Hare because operator was sleep-deprived
33 people were injured in the March 2014 incident. The report says subways should have black boxes like airplanes and should have systems to automatically take over in case the human being at the controls is incapacitated or screws up. Cheap? No way -- costs would probably break into the tens of millions, just for Chicago. But technology ought to be helping us to live safer lives and taking stupid decisions (and mistakes) out of the hands of people who could hurt others.

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April 29, 2015

Computers and the Internet "Flipped" classrooms
Teachers are learning to post videos for kids to watch at home in lieu of homework, and to have the students do what used to be the homework in the classroom

Computers and the Internet Twitter's earnings slipped into the news early
And the news wasn't good, causing the stock to drop by about a quarter. The company lost $162 million in the first quarter and doesn't seem to expect profits this year.

Computers and the Internet CNN reporter leaves to go to work at Snapchat
Peter Hamby will be hired as "Head of News" in an effort to bring credibility to a feature intended to make Snapchat a little more like a broadcast and a little less focused on one-to-one exchanges. "Discover" is a new piece of Snapchat, introduced late in January, that features video and some written content from CNN, ESPN, Food Network, National Geographic, and other media partners.

News Measured in development years, poor countries could take 100 years to catch up with rich ones in education

Computers and the Internet Twitter's "Periscope" video-streaming tool has a leg up on the competition
Integration within Twitter probably gives it a key advantage over "Meerkat" -- but then, do people really demand that much live-streaming video after all?

April 30, 2015

News Saudi Arabia went through 5% of its foreign reserves in two months
A new ruler, a big bonus to government employees, and a big drop in oil prices all play roles.

News Obama Presidential library will go to Chicago
The University of Chicago, to be precise.

Computers and the Internet Microsoft announces much at its conference for developers
At "Build", the company announced that the upcoming Windows 10 will be built to handle apps originally programmed to work in Android and the Apple iOS with minimal conversion required -- basically, the company is saying it's no longer worth the fight to expect programmers to start with Windows in mind from scratch, so why not just assimilate the competition? The new operating system will also be designed so that a phone or tablet running Windows 10 could more or less serve as a portable computer with the capacity to plug into a large display and keyboard -- it will automatically adjust to the display you're using. And their new Internet browser will be called "Microsoft Edge", rather than the code name "Spartan" under which it was developed.

Business and Finance Nebraska minimum wage will rise to $9 an hour in 2016, but teens might get less
The legislature is considering a plan to set a lower minimum for teenagers in order to give them a shot at employment they might otherwise not get with a higher minimum.

Computers and the Internet Customers play tricks on self-service kiosks at McDonalds
One diner in Chicagoland came up with a $25, 4-lb. burger by adding everything he could to his order. The bigger story -- the arrival of self-service at fast-food restaurants in America -- should not go without notice. It ought to reduce errors and either allow restaurants to run with fewer staff members or put their existing staff levels to better use providing a higher level of customer service.

May 1, 2015

Agriculture Iowa farmers already see it coming: "[T]his year isn't going to be so good"
ISU Extension reports that prices for corn and soybeans are below break-even pricing -- farmers, on average, will lose money on both crops. And it's not going to help anything that 25% of Iowa's egg-laying hens have avian influenza and will probably have to be killed.

Weather and Disasters 1975 Omaha tornado represented via 2015 technology
Contemporary visualizations help put the history in context. An EF-4 tornado passing through a major urban area is a significant event.

Science and Technology Take a chart and turn it into a slopegraph

Iowa MidAmerican Energy plans another $1.5 billion in wind-energy generation
The company says that 57% of its retail electrical load will come from wind once the latest projects are completed. Related: How one of those turbines gets built.

Computers and the Internet Columnist: Microsoft may be on the verge of being hot
Windows 10 and everything that's coming with it may be enough to turn a lot of heads

Weather and Disasters Some context on Nepal's earthquake and the recovery

May 2, 2015

Business and Finance Notes from the 2015 Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting

Broadcasting Show notes - WHO Radio Wise Guys - May 2, 2015

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May 3, 2015

Broadcasting Show notes - Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - May 3, 2015