Exploring the impact of broadband and technology on our lives, our businesses, and our communities.

Happy birthday, iPod!

The iPod is ten years old, and in that short time, the concept of a multi-function device that fits in your pocket has transformed the way we work and play--not necessarily always for the better. There were other pocket size music devices before the iPod, but Apple provided easy to use software (iTunes) with an easy to use interface on the iPod itself that lent itself to rapid and easy browsing of your music library.

The original iPod had a 5 Gig hard drive--an actual rotating device, that was replaced in just a few years with solid state hard drives with no moving parts and much lower power consumption for longer battery life. The iPod led directly to the iPhone, which has largely rendered stand along music players obsolete--Apple only offers one iPod model now--the iPod Touch.

Here is the first commercial for the iPod.

The decline of the West: cellphone airbags

In a sure sign of decline, the city of Salzburg, Austria is putting airbags on lamp posts on city streets because so many people were bumping into them while looking down at their cellphones.

Yes, it is a publicity stunt to raise awareness of the problem of "smartphone zombie," but even having to use that phrase is an sad indictment of our culture, in which we are so obsessed with our technology that we can't walk down the street without bumping into something.

Death of TV: Part LXXIX: Google drops TV

Google Fiber has announced that it is dropping TV packages from its content offerings in Louisville and San Antonio. The wide range of content available from OTT services like Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Netflix, Hulu, and other services makes the traditional cable/satellite TV packages seem quaint by comparison.

iPhone 8, iPhone X, Apple TV, and LTE, cellular

Apple announced new iPhones yesterday. Faster, brighter displays, and better cameras. Ho hum.

What interested me was the Apple TV announcement--the new Apple TV supports 4K video, which uses FOUR TIMES more bandwidth than HD video. Apple continues to improve the user experience with its products, but many Internet services are not going to be able to deliver 4K streaming video, or at best, only one stream at a time. Meanwhile, the average household has more than ten Internet-connected devices, and that is going to keep growing.

T-Mobile is not happy with iPhone X because it does not support T-Mobile's new LTE frequencies.

In the race to try to squeeze more bandwidth out of wireless radio systems, more frequencies are being used, which means device manufacturers like Apple and Samsung have to build more radio technology into their devices, which means more weight, poorer battery life, and less space for other stuff.

What phone do I use? I'm still completely happy with a three year old iPhone 5S. Fits in my pocket, has long battery life, and rings every time someone calls me. I don't need much more than that.

Eldo Telecom: Rural copper won't be replaced by small cells

Eldo Telecom points to an article that suggests that small cell cellular access points won't be the cure-all for rural residents.

Technology News:

The emerging Space Economy

It's been a long time since I wrote anything about the Space Economy. I was, perhaps, overly optimistic about the timing, but lately all the signs are that the private sector now has sufficiently mature payload to space technology to completely change the nature of space research and business.

SpaceX seems well ahead of competitors, with two launches in a just a few days, and both times, the first stage booster returned successfully to the launch pad.

In other developments, Virgin Galactic is apparently nearing final development of its near space tourism offering. Bigelow Aerospace, an early entrant, has signed a contract to supply NASA with inflatable space habitats. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin round trip space vehicle continues advanced testing, and NASA and the European Space Agency continue to pursue their own plans.

Space really is starting to look like the final frontier.

Google will stop reading your email

In a win for personal privacy, Google has announced that the company will no longer read the email of their personal Gmail account users.

Google has been scanning Gmail email to identify what kind of ads to place in Web browsers for its users.

Although a lawsuit seems to have pushed them to do this, my guess is that it is no longer necessary. They are probably getting better, more accurate information by simply vacuuming every Web site you visit. I've never had a Gmail account and don't use Google for search, but within a few seconds of doing some online shopping/searching, the ads I see in my browser change to the product(s) I was shopping for.

Technology News:

Knowledge Democracy:

Death of TV: Part LXXVIII: More churn in the TV space

YouTube (part of Google) has launched a streaming TV service, making the whole video on demand space an even more confusing array of services and options, which include Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Roku, offerings directly from some of the alphabet networks, and many others. But competition is a wonderful thing. As buyers of entertainment, we have a wide array of choices that most of us never dreamed of fifteen years ago, and the growth of the Game of Thrones-style miniseries is producing some really good TV, although the term "TV" is really an anachronism these days.

As more and more homes cut the cord to the traditional cable TV package, the importance of having a high performance fiber connection will only increase.

Knowledge Democracy:

The tragic state of the telecom industry

This article has a lot of inside baseball and makes for dense reading, but the bottom line is that telecom industry has learned nothing in the past twenty years.

The article discusses how the cellular carriers are in a race to build more fiber to cell towers, and in doing so are putting price pressure on the independent fiber carriers large and small.

One way to understand this is to go back to the roads analogy. Verizon wants to build private (fiber) roads to all its cell towers. AT&T wants to build a fully duplicated set of (fiber) roads to its cell towers. Sprint wants to build private (fiber) roads to its cell towers. And so on.

If local governments recognized that fiber is just another form of roads, they could build a shared (fiber) road system past ALL cell towers and reap some very interesting revenue.

Technology News:

The Xerox nightmare

Design Nine has a tiny service contract for an old Xerox printer. I had a billing question about a late fee that was assessed for the first time in more than twelve years. I wasted more than forty minutes on the phone with various Xerox reps, none of whom were helpful. Of the forty minutes on the phone, I spent about twenty-five minutes on hold, and I had to call three different numbers and had to talk to four different people.

None of them spoke English as a first language, and none of them were authorized to do anything but apologize for their inability to do anything. If I had a nickle for every time one of them said, "I apologize" I could have paid off the late fee. They had to keep apologizing because they literally could not do anything but apologize.

Xerox makes good printers, and we just did buy one to replace the one going off contract, but Xerox apparently does not care that we've spent thousands and thousands of dollars with them for more than a decade.

Technology News:

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