Wise Guys on WHO Radio - January 2, 2016
Please note: These show notes may be in various stages of completion -- ranging from brainstormed notes through to well-polished monologues. Please excuse anything that may seem rough around the edges, as it may only be a first draft of a thought and not be fully representative of what was said on the air.
In the news this week
Launched by the local independent ISP on Christmas Day to a pair of communities with a total of about 6000 people
Reuters may have triggered the announcement by pursuing a story that suggested that the Chinese government had intercepted the data of some users, though Microsoft says it doesn't have firm evidence that it was, in fact, a Chinese government incident. But they do say that "We will now notify you if we believe your account has been targeted or compromised by an individual or group working on behalf of a nation state." Here's an interesting corollary question: What about groups like ISIS/ISIL/QSIL/Daesh, that have many of the trappings of nation-statehood but no formal recognition? As always, the use of strong passwords and two-factor authentication is recommended practice for anyone.
The bug definitely caused its share of confusion going into the end of 2015. It was probably due to a Unix date calculation bug.
Make sure to have a battery-powered radio and a fully-charged cell phone at the ready all spring
Who knew there was still upside to be gained?
The FCC leaked pictures
Predictions for 2016
Breakthrough of the year
- The thing we need most and the one that would do the most good for humanity would be a big leap forward in energy storage. We're getting better and better at generating it efficiently (MidAmerican Energy is on track to get most of its energy from renewables in the immediate future), but storing it cheaply and reliably is the new problem. Fixing that makes renewable energy reliable enough to use for base load generation, it makes electric cars possible, and it allows us to start getting an energy infrastructure in place for parts of the world whose development is completely stymied by the lack of power.
Underrated development of the year
- The brand-new ban on microbeads just signed into law says those plastic bits have to be gone from products sold in the US by 2017. Here's the rub: Microbeads are only part of the problem. Nanoparticles and lots of other things much too small to be screened or treated out of wastewater are going to continue finding their way into places we don't want them, and until they are broadly recognized as threats to public health, we aren't going to do enough about them. The ban may kick-start the conversation.
Next big moves from...
- Apple: In-home catchall AV device
- Smartphone adoption by the end of the year: 85%. 68% have them now.
- Surprises to come:
Digital video predictions
- Netflix and Hulu will have a head-to-head battle in 2016; Netflix will remain the big dog, but Hulu will probably announce at least two really big series that will make it hard for people to resist
- This may be more wishful thinking than prediction, but Netflix may begin to figure out that if they're going to drop an entire series on the Internet at once (like "House of Cards" or "The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"), then maybe they'll need to start doing two seasons a year. 12 months is a long, long time to wait. It also keeps them from being able to respond to feedback as they would with a conventional scripted program that's recorded only a few months in advance (or days, as in the case of "South Park").
- There are two big technology-related breakthroughs that we need urgently.
- One is cheap DNA sequencing. The price is falling fast (it has plunged to about $1000 per genome as of October), and we may be within striking distance of when that's going to be a reality for everyone. Knowing the things to which we are predisposed (especially chronic or fatal conditions) can help us to start surveillance and preventative therapies early enough to make a difference. A lot of people will say that they don't want to know that they're likely to get something like cancer or Alzheimer's. Nonsense. As one who has had cancer, I can tell you directly: I want to know if I need to be looking for it again.
- The other big breakthrough we need is quick and cheap blood testing. A company called Theranos made a huge splash promising to deliver exactly that, but they've had to backtrack on their claims and it's hurt their credibility. Not everything is genetic, and routine blood tests should be in use all the time to give us early indications of things that could be doing us harm before we notice (or admit) that we have symptoms.
Three really big questions
- What will actually make people's lives better this year?
- What should the law act upon before the year ends?
- Self-driving cars
- What's going to remain out of reach this coming year?
Your role in cyberwar
Street-smart social media
Gadget of the week
You ought to follow...
Dispatches from the flying-car future
Brian's Big Picture
Politics of technology
- What should someone do to "sanitize" their online presence before applying for jobs?
In memory of Steve Bailey
One of our past (and occasionally current) producers of this show passed away this week. We fondly remember Steve Bailey.
Listen again on-demand
- Podcast of this episode - segment 1 (gigabit broadband access arrives in West Liberty and West Branch)
- Podcast of this episode - segment 2 (Microsoft will start warning users it thinks are being hacked by government)
- Podcast of this episode - segment 3 (setting up a portable office)
- Podcast of this episode - segment 4 (using office applications from the cloud)
- Podcast of this episode - segment 5 (a ban on microbeads and why it's a bigger story than you think)
- Podcast of this episode - segment 6 (DNA sequencing will be revolutionary)
- Podcast of this episode - segment 7 (the next energy revolution)
- Podcast of this episode - segment 8 (making your online presence squeaky-clean for a job search)