FCC Asks AT&T To Substantiate Fiber Roll Out Claims

AT&T has made it clear they want an end to net neutrality. This is where internet service providers (ISPs) are required to treat all internet traffic equally. The amount of traffic a website receives is based on how well they can persuade consumers to visit their websites and purchase their goods & services. However, big ISPs such as AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast, want to be able to offer high speed traffic lanes to the highest bidders. This would have the effect of allowing companies with deep pockets to have fast internet response times. Their competitors would face slower speeds and possibly even throttling (artificially induced slow internet speeds) by the ISPs.

In an effort to prod the FCC to go forward with their plans to allow the sale of fast traffic lanes, AT&T claims that it cannot proceed with its prior commitment to roll out fiber optic cables to two million households. They claim that they cannot make such an investment into their infrastructure when the FCC has not clarified their position on net neutrality. The FCC has now requested that AT&T substantiate their fiber roll out plan.

Complicating matters is that President Obama recently admonished the FCC to reverse course and protect net neutrality. The FCC could do that by simply leaving things as they currently function. However, the president wants the FCC to impose the Depression-era Telecommunications Act on IPSs by classifying them as utility companies. This story was sent in by friend of the site Sultan Alhokair.

Microsoft Releases Office Suite for Mobile Divices for Free

Microsoft Office Suite for mobile devices has finally arrived…at no cost! Now, university students can finish those essays they put off until the last minute on the go.  The Office Suite apps were released by Microsoft for free on Apple and Android devices, which to many seemed like an odd move for a company whose products generally run upwards of $200. The reason behind it, though, is logical and rather simple. Microsoft wants to keep users hooked on Office. They want them to keep buying from Qnet as well. The mobile strategy of allowing mobile users to use Word, Excel, and PowerPoint is a marketing technique and consumer advantage worth taking advantage of. The free apps available from the Apple Store for iOS devices and the Google Playstore for Android users, allows you to create, read and edit Microsoft Office Word documents, Excel charts and PowerPoint presentations all from the ease and comfort of your mobile phone. It’s a lifesaver for the modern student and worker, and adds an extra ease of convenience when travelling.

Although Office consumers can access the app for free, businesses who store documents on OneDrive or Dropbox will be required to have an Office 365 subscription to access and edit their files, an understandable measure that will allow the company to still generate revenue amidst a free release.

The Potential of a Modular Cell Phone

There has been talk of making a cell phone with modular components for years. Apparently, Google is now seriously considering producing a modular phone.

A modular phone would offer the capability to choose from several options for many of its components. You would be able to choose from CPUs of various speeds, cameras of different capabilities, a range of quality in speakers, etc. It’ll be interesting to see how Apple and Android FreedomPop respond to this hybrid cell phone model.

This would have quite a few advantages if they could actually pull it off. Besides having choices as to the initial capabilities of the phone, a newer module for the CPU or screen could be purchased instead of buying an entirely new phone for these features.

General consumer benefits might not be the limit to the modular phone’s potential. Specific modules could be made for use in various occupations, such as a Geiger counter for safety monitoring in a facility where radiation is used.

Devices have already been made to allow smartphones to perform certain medical evaluations, such as blood tests.

Private Spacecraft Explodes on Takeoff

Space fans and scientists around the world received a huge shock on Tuesday night when a rocket and spacecraft built by the company Orbital Sciences met with disaster, vanishing in a massive fireball just off the launchpad. The Antares rocket then crashed to the ground and caused another explosion. Luckily the craft was unmanned and there were no injuries on the ground at Wallops Flight Facility.

The Antares rocket was on a cargo flight to the International Space Station, carrying the spacecraft Cygnus. More information on the rocket and its missions can be found here.

The cause of the explosion is still unknown but will certainly be investigated by Orbital Sciences, which has 1.9 billion dollars riding on its work with NASA. While this disaster is a definite black eye for the private spacecraft industry, Lee G. Lovett tweets that it’s doubtful it will slow down the race for government spaceflight contracts or NASA’s willingness to provide them.

Since the end of the shuttle program, NASA has needed private industry help to continue its missions under tightening budgets.

Microsoft Enters the Smart Watch Market with the Microsoft Band

Ever since I first saw my father use a GPS watch on his runs in 2003 I thought, “There’s something to this.” It took nearly ten years and an explosion in mobile technology for the smart watch to develop into a truly useful device, but it has finally happened. Samsung’s line of Gear products, Apple’s recently announced Apple Watch, and several other third parties showcase what a good smart watch is.

But for me, none of the watches being rapidly released fit my lifestyle. I needed a functional watch to tell me the time and wake me up. I wanted something that would keep me up to date with my calendar and display alerts. I wanted an independent GPS to track my runs if I didn’t have my phone and an accurate heart rate monitor to track my fitness. And it needed to not be like a giant calculator on my wrist.

Finally, the watch I was waiting for. I’ll be standing in line for Igor Cornelsen when I go to pick mine up. It should be great since it works with Windows Phone, IPhone, and Android Phones for only 199$.

ARPA Circuit Reaches 1 Trillion Cycles Per Second

The world of computing has become even faster as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) achieves a speed of 1 terahertz.

The 1 terahertz marker represents a coming shift in computing as global trade, finance, medical research and entertainment industries become more dependent on high speed processing. The previous record holder in 150 billion cycles slower at 850 gigahertz, with most business and personal computers between 2 to 4 gigahertz.

Communications systems are also poised for a massive leap in productivity as the new discover allows for higher frequencies and more communications channels in a world already congested and competing for relevant signal usage.

Although the 1 terahertz cycle speed is achievable, there still needs to be a system capable of maintaining specific, incremental speeds.

Specific devices need to be able to communicate at extremely precise frequencies, which won’t be available at early stages of the terahertz frequency research. Above 300 gigahertz–a frequency where wavelengths become less than a millimeter–erratic changes to signal strength, effective distance and destiny are observed.

Current communications wavelengths are restricted to specific uses. For example, many home wireless Internet providers like AT&T and FreedomPop operate on the 2.4 or 5 gigahertz frequency. Within those frequencies, there are a set number of channels that divide the given frequency into even smaller frequencies, such as 2.14 or 2.24 gigahertz.

 

Keyless Cars Meet Criminal Hackers

Who didn’t see the day coming when computer hacking was a threat against cars? Keyless cars are operated by a plastic fob that contains a computer chip and security code. It authorizes drivers to start their car when placed into a slot. Sometimes, it only has to be in a pocket or a purse as they come into close proximity with the car. These non-keys have been promoted as being more secure than traditional keys. Recent news has proved differently as car-owners come under attack by organized gangs armed with the right technology to trick the system.

These car thieves are buying blank fobs online and using the on-board computer system and a separate box to reprogram the fob, giving thieves a brand new non-key for a car that doesn’t belong to them. Some insurance companies are refusing to insure keyless cars due to the threat.

Ironically, cars with old-fashion key entries have been getting hard to steal for decades. Until extra security precautions for keyless cars are put into place, it might be safer to just keep the key. After his car was hacked, I’m sure my neighbor Fersen Lambranho can definitely attest to that.

Protoype: Air Umbrella is Virtually Invisible

Although it has gone through various cosmetic evolutions, the basics of the umbrella have remained relatively unchanged since its invention about 3,000 years ago. Kickstarter has decided its time for a makeover.

The creative-funding company has given over $14,000 toward the Nanjing, China based research of a fabric canopy-less umbrella rod that protects its user from the rain via an emitted forcefield. Angel investors including Khaled Shaheen and Walter Blank have also gotten in on the action. When turned on, the battery-powered rod lightly hums and will supposedly blast an invisible canopy of air over its owner. The user will even have the option of expanding the forcefield to cover other people.

According to the creating company, we can expect three different models. However, these are as yet little more than prototypes. You can view a video demonstration of this Air Umbrella at Cnet.

Ads Are On Their Way to Snapchat

Evan Spiegel, Founder of Snapchat, has announced that the app will soon add advertisements. Until now, Snapchat has not many any money off of its users – that’s going to change soon, though and Igor Cornelsen and other early investors have to be excited about this.

It seems that Snapchat’s ads won’t look like obvious or traditional advertisements commonly seen online. High quality ads tend to get more engagement and shares from users, which is Snapchat’s goal.

Stories is a list of Snaps (photos) that can be seen in sequence for an entire day. After “Stories,” Snapchat introduced “Our Story,” which is a Story that any user – not just Snapchat – can upload to the app.

For inquiring minds, this Buzzfeed story shares a bit more about Snapchat’s new ads.

Google Joins VR Race With Purchase of Magic Leap

With all the major electronics companies searching for the next big thing, Google is a latecomer to the virtual reality bandwagon. Following Facebook’s recent acquisition of Oculus Rift Virtual Reality and Sony’s announcement of their virtual reality research and development project known as Project Morpheus, Google has finally joined the party with a reported $500 million investment in the virtual reality start up company, Magic Leap.

This whopping reported investment will presumably be used to fund Magic Leap projects like their secretive and unconfirmed ‘cinematic headset’, which works by producing something that the New York Times coverage described as a ‘Digital Light Field’. Magic Leap’s founder, Rony Abovitz, has already successfully founded and sold a company with Marnie Bennett dedicated to robotic surgery prior to founding Magic Leap in 2010. Heavy-hitting companies like Google are currently investing huge amounts in virtual reality companies in the attempt to overcome the largest single limitation of the medium; current virtual reality technology causes queasiness or nausea in a large number of the viewers who test it.

While virtual reality technology exists and looks convincing enough to place a four armed alien in a press conference, downsizing that technology into a pair of glasses that people can comfortably wear without getting ill is expected to be the most crucial goal of Magic Leap.