Gongol.com Archives: 2016 Weekly Archives
Brian Gongol

March 27, 2016

News An interesting meditation on the modern rat race

One thing that may be happening without sufficient attention is that the forces that cause the white-collar classes to work exceptional numbers of hours and to spend much of their free time in activities that also pass as career networking may also be the forces that serve to pull apart important civic organizations. It seems hard to find people with valuable skills who have the time and inclination to support civic institutions with their time and talents -- especially if they're spending time doing things like toting kids around to league sports.

Computers and the Internet Chinese tech giant thinks it can predict when crowds will turn dangerous

The government authorities probably don't mind if Baidu keeps up this kind of work

Computers and the Internet Apple cuts prices on iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watch

They're still higher than comparable products in the same class, but the company certainly appears to be trying to get more consumers in the door of the Apple ecosystem. The iPhone SE clocks in at $399, the new iPad Pro 9.7" costs $599, and the entry-level Apple Watch is now $299.

Humor and Good News "Scientists slowly reintroducing small group of normal, well-adjusted humans into society"

The Onion lands another smashing satire. It's just close enough to reality to be disturbing.

Computers and the Internet Nintendo wants its own social network to catch on

Miitomo involves "Mii" avatars who go out and live a virtual life for you, "interacting" with those of your friends

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March 26, 2016

News Wrong-way driver crashes into police transport on I-80

Two police officers, one prisoner, and the opposing driver were all killed

Business and Finance Low oil prices are making the near-circumnavigation of Africa cheaper than the Suez Canal

Canal passage fees are higher than the cost for extra fuel in some cases

Computers and the Internet Microsoft introduces $22,000, 84" touchscreen TV

A little bigger than the Surface

Computers and the Internet Study: Adults ages 19 to 32 use social media for 61 minutes a day

What in the world is that time displacing? It's not all just "found" time that was otherwise spent in line at the grocery store -- it's coming from the time budget for something else. And the authors found that high levels of use were correlated with symptoms of depression. Correlation isn't necessarily causation, but it is a relationship that is cause for concern and further analysis.

Computers and the Internet Microsoft doesn't want to buy Yahoo, but...

...the company might help some other party to buy it out. Microsoft apparently makes decent money from its partnership with Yahoo and doesn't want to kill a productive arrangement.

Broadcasting Netflix now throttles video to Verizon and AT&T wireless networks

As long as data limits remain both low and in effect, video streaming over wireless networks is going to be a source of conflict. This is (probably) just a short-term ploy by Netflix, but one that may be enough to tweak some of the wireless carriers into raising data limits. It certainly isn't leading to good feelings.

March 25, 2016

The United States of America Speaker Paul Ryan as the unity candidate for the GOP?

He's needed -- badly -- as the Speaker of the House, virtually no mater who gets elected in 2016, and it's hard to think of anyone better to fill his current role

Computers and the Internet Microsoft releases chat bot and everything goes off the rails

We can't have nice things, in part, because people can't seem to resist digital vandalism. Microsoft tried to launch "Tay", but unfortunately it would appear that exposing it to social media only turned it into an idiot.

Computers and the Internet Build an Alexa device with Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi is a super-cheap computer processor, and Amazon is giving out instructions to make something of it

Health Husband and wife each get cancer twice -- at the same time

Stunningly terrible misfortune

Computers and the Internet Intel is going to start foot-dragging on Moore's Law

The perpetually high rate of improvement in chip power is going to ease back a bit

March 24, 2016

Computers and the Internet Secretary Hillary Clinton knew her e-mail server arrangement was problematic

An FOIA request by a group hostile to her finds emails from February 2009 that appear to acknowledge her recognition that her BlackBerry and e-mail use were going to raise questions

News TV station takes on local newspaper directly in Cincinnati

If physically getting the news on a dead tree is no longer a defining characteristic for a news organization, then the rivalry could severely disrupt the classic monopoly model enjoyed by major metropolitan newspapers

Computers and the Internet Apple rolls out iPhone SE

Arriving in stores next week (3/31), it shares a chip with the iPhone 6S, has a 12-megapixel camera, and is in a relatively compact 4" size. $400 for the 16 Gb entry-level edition.

Computers and the Internet Activist group tries takeover of Yahoo board of directors

Starboard Value LP is launching a proxy fight. With just 1.7% of the company's stock, they don't have enough to call the shots, but in their letter to shareholders, they indict the current board and management for failing to turn around the company operationally or get it sold.

Business and Finance Rockefeller interests sell the last of their Exxon stock

Very few family businesses survive intact, it would seem

March 23, 2016

Threats and Hazards A not-insignificant number of Americans are trying to get a functional illiterate elected President

Donald Trump's session with the editorial board of the Washington Post is a stunning example of word salad. It's understandable that lots of people are angry at the political system, but working for his election is like trying to get Ronald McDonald hired as the executive chef at a French restaurant because you don't like their pastries.

Agriculture Iowa corn yields by county

Corn is one of Iowa's greatest products

Broadcasting The "most interesting man in the world" is retiring

Only the actor. Dos Equis is planning to reboot the campaign.

Humor and Good News Nebraska's new license plates

Once you see what's wrong, you won't be able to un-see it

Broadcasting Strong-man tactics on the local political scale

TV reporter gets kicked out of city hall for asking uncomfortable questions

March 22, 2016

News Macro-scale factors making voters angry worldwide

The middle classes are feeling discontent

Aviation News Army and Marine Corps argue that budget cuts are causing fatal crashes

Marine commandant: "[W]e don't have enough airplanes to meet the training requirements for the entire force"

Science and Technology Toyota says automatic brakes will be standard by 2017

Well ahead of the voluntary mutual pact to have them on all new US cars by 2022

Broadcasting Starve the clown of attention and he withers

The symbiosis between Donald Trump and the news media is very bad for civilization, even if it's "good" TV

Computers and the Internet EFF argues that there's no room for compromise on data encryption

The privacy-rights group argues there's no alternative to the mathematics of absolutism when it comes to encryption

March 21, 2016

News Fun fact: Countries with short election cycles are just in perpetual campaign mode

It doesn't matter if the cycle is only 15 weeks long; the campaign process is continuous

Business and Finance A catalog of Donald Trump's business failures

He is more hype-man than legitimate business success

Health Work may be more dangerous than previously thought

OSHA changed measurement and reporting requirements and it turns out more people are getting hurt on the job than the old data suggested

Computers and the Internet Apple announces a new iPhone

But no real revolutions at the latest product launch

Humor and Good News Good kid, bad kid, future economist

Honestly? Raising the future economist may be the best move of all.