Calamari Or Pig Rectum

This could just be some sort of urban legend however NPR’s This American Life is claiming some pork producer may be selling “pork bung”, the rectum of a pig as artificial calamari. Granted, it’s in sausage and most likely other highly processed pork. Some more discussion on CHOW about the product itself.

Update: Slate has some pretty good reporting that suggests this story is bogus and it’s not true. If it’s in hot dogs or other things you eat, that’s a whole other story.

China’s Broadband Strategy

I mentioned just a few days ago how the lack of affordable high-speed bandwidth is problematic to growth in the United States. China is now making a major push to bring Fiber To The Home (FTTH) to 150M families in the next few years. China has the means and willpower to do it. Imagine if China becomes to information what they have become to manufacturing. The US Needs to figure out its broadband strategy.

Latest on Apophis

As far back as 2004 I mentioned the asteroid Apophis. Most recently in 2009. Now in 2013 it’s back in the news. It’s bigger (“1,066 foot (325 meters), with a margin of error of ±49 feet (±15 meters)”), and will pass closer than the orbits of some geostationary satellites. Possibly even taking a few out on its flyby.

Curious what we’ll learn in the next few years as astronomers gather more data and crunch more numbers.

Thinkpad Decline

There is an interesting piece by Cyrus Sanati on the Lenovo (previously IBM) Thinkpad.

In my opinion, Lenovo already damaged the Thinkpad reputation. It’s build quality dropped almost immediately. The T43 wasn’t nearly as well built as the extremely T42. The T42 was a work of art with properly fitting everything. My T43 had been reliable, it still works, however it was never of the same quality as the T42 or A31. The plastic never perfectly aligned, slight gap between the optical media bay, the optical media drive tray flexes way more than it should. The T50 series was even worse and flexed despite “improvements”. Small things, but they matter.

The reason why Thinkpads still have a reputation is because they have no real competition. Apple has top notch build quality, but it’s not a PC. Sony is the nearest competitor, and it’s not really in the enterprise space, and isn’t quite up to par with the Thinkpad still. The Thinkpad wins just by beating it’s notably poor competition.

If someone figures out how to reproduce Apple’s build quality, Lenovo is in deep trouble. Until then, they will continue to do just fine. If Lenovo wants to protect itself, they should start competing with Apple in terms of quality, not aesthetics or consumer features.

Glow In The Dark Streets

Wired has an interesting article on the use of glow in the dark paint on roadways. It seems like an ingenious way to cut power consumption for street lights. I’m not entirely sure I really get the point of the temperature sensitive warnings though. The road getting icy when cold is generally common sense. It seems like it would be better if cars were just required to display outside temperature and perhaps have an audible alarm when it drops below freezing. The cost of this in a modern car would be relatively low as the electronics needed are all cheap. The added benefit would be both a visible (dashboard light) and audible (tone) warning.

Simple ideas can change things.

On Hold

I’ve spent a few hours of the last few days on hold waiting for customer support representatives (CSR). It’s a task that drives everyone nuts. Services like GetHuman.com are pretty useful, but still hardly a solution.

A few companies now have “call me back” functionality where they will essentially just call you back when the CSR is available rather than make you wait on the line. It strikes me as strange that more companies don’t rush to implement this ASAP. For starters given most of these numbers are 800 numbers, they are footing the phone bill. They also need to have the capacity to have all these calls on hold for sometimes an hour. These costs can’t be trivial. I would think a system that keeps customers happier and reduces your telecom needs would be a win/win. I’m also betting some patent prevents this from being an easy to implement solution.

This is why when given the choice I prefer the online chat option. I can work with it in the background. It’s quiet, not disruptive and much more pleasant.

Microsoft’s R&D

PCWorld has a pretty interesting story on Microsoft’s R&D efforts. While Microsoft is viewed as an old technology company they aren’t done innovating. In many ways they remind me of AT&T in the Bell Labs days. It’s very possible some of the best research of the day is being done there, and we quite possibly won’t realize it for years to come, and will do so in some derived way.

The research and innovation methods of companies is always interesting. Big companies who invest big bucks with little guarantee of a payoff are the most interesting. We rarely hear/see much about them though.

Slowly Moving The Web To HTTPS

The EFF has a pretty good post on the move to make HTTPS closer to the new normal on the web. It’s hardly normal yet, but it’s improving. Already some of the bigger sites on the internet like Google, Facebook and Twitter are serving up HTTPS for almost everything. They do it for security as well as performance (SPDY).

In the longer run (few years from now) I wouldn’t be surprised if the majority of web traffic starts moving over HTTPS. This will not be well accepted by many institutions including all governments, but it’s certainly better for people, especially those in nations who restrict speech and rights the most. We’ll also see a lot of legislation to only use encryption methods with known vulnerabilities and back doors. I wouldn’t even be surprised if some countries try and break the web by using alternate means of encryption similar to what South Korea did years ago. Obviously fighting this is going to prove important.