Loon not loony

17/06/2013

Google Loon aims to bring balloon-powered internet to everyone.

A loon is a fool but this idea is far from loony.

A trial was launched in Canterbury last week.

The scheme involved using balloons, flying at twice the altitude of commercial aircraft, which beam wireless broadband at 3G-level bandwidth (the sort of internet speed most people get from their cellphone).

Around 30 balloons have been launched as part of the trial. Collectively, they will offer broadband to a 10,000 square kilometre area.

Google spokeswoman Annie Baxter says 50 Christchurch homes have been given antennas that let them pick up a wireless broadband signal when one of the balloons is within 20kim.

Entrepreneur Charles Nimmo became the first to connect.

Ms Baxter says Google is working with the Crown-owned Research and Education Advanced Network New Zealand (or Reannz) on broadband connectivity for the project. Reannz operates the high-speed $100 million Karen network used by universities and research institutes.

“Though we use similar frequencies as normal wi-fi, we have designed Loon to work using a specialized, non-standard radio protocol — that means our radios and antennas can only receive Loon signals and they filter out ground-based wi-fi. We have to do this to achieve high bandwidth over the long distances (20+ km) involved,” Ms Baxter tells NBR. . . .

This could well be a more effective and less expensive way for rural people to get reasonable internet connections.

Apropos of rural broadband, Telecommunications Users’ Association chief executive Paul Brislen says farmers should lay fibre cable themselves.

Mr Brislen told the Otago Daily Times this week there was no reason to wait for the big telecommunications companies to do the work.

”In some respects the telcos are the very last people you want to hire to deploy a network because they pack in so much cost.

”What you want to do is hire the guys with diggers and say: ‘If you dig me a trench I’ll just lay the fibre down’.”

Fibre-optic cable is needed to handle the high data rates of fast broadband and 4G (fourth generation) cellphone services.

Mr Brislen said a group of vineyard owners in the Nelson region had laid their own fibre optic 10 years ago and in Britain a low-cost scheme called B4RN taking fibre-optic to individual farms was ”going great guns”.

”These farmers are doing it for themselves. They got sick and tired of waiting for British Telecom to do it.” . . . 

Mr Brislen said the fibre-optic cable itself was ”really cheap”.

”It’s literally worthless because it’s just plastic.”

Mr Brislen said a cable run to farms or a community needed a ”tail-back” to one of dozens of ”points of presence” on the fibre network.

”So if you can reach one of those with your fibre, then build your own.

”As long as you have got consent to lay the thing, you are off and running.

”Farmers are much better at digging trenches than phone companies.”

Unless you’re on a main road or one that goes to a school it could be years before fibre gets to many rural properties, if it comes at all.

Laying the cable yourself or using the Loon could bring better broadband much sooner.


Google trumps Bing

06/01/2012

When I updated my PC a couple of months ago the bloke who did it installed Bing as the default search engine.

Nine times out of ten it didn’t give me what I was looking for and I ended up doing a Google search which almost always had a much higher success rate.

Another shortcoming with Bing for someone who types faster than she spells was that unlike Google it wouldn’t offer alternative spellings if a word I typed didn’t make sense.

I eventually gave up on Bing and made Google the default setting.


Topless with a top?

06/05/2011

Pippa Middleton, sister of and bridesmaid to, Kate Duchess of Cambridge is one of the top search terms for Google.

TV3’s report on this is headlined Pippa Middleton topless photo emerges.

The story makes no mention of that but there is a photo captioned: Pippa Middleton dances topless with a friend .

She might be dancing with someone and he could be a friend but she’s wearing a top which is firmly attached to her top.

Did whoever wrote the caption and headline not see the top or is this the sort of total disconnect between story and headline, caption and photo  to titilate which used to be the preserve of the sleazier tabloids?


September 4 in history

04/09/2009

On Spetmeber 4:

1863 the brig Delaware was wrecked soon after leaving Napier.

1884 Britian ended its policy of transporting criminals to Australia.

1937 Australian swimmer Dawn Fraser was born.

1956 the IBM 305 RAMAC computer was introduced. It was the first commercial computer to use magnetic disk storage.

IBM 305 at U.S. Army Red River Arsenal
Foreground: Two 350 disk drives. Background:380 console and 305 processing unit.

1988 1998 Google was founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin,

Sourced from NZ History Online and Wikipedia.


My computer needs an as-you-were command

12/03/2009

The $250,000 Turing Award, presented in recognition of work which makes computer programmes more reliable, secure and easier to use,  has been won by a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor.

Only the second woman to win the prize, Barbara Liskov was honoured Tuesday for pioneering new designs in computer languages that gird everyday digital applications.

“Her exceptional achievements have leapt from the halls of academia to transform daily life around the world,” MIT Provost L. Rafael Reif said. “Every time you exchange e-mail with a friend, check your bank statement online or run a Google search, you are riding the momentum of her research.”

 

 

I do at least some of that most days without understanding how I do it, and usually without the  appreciation due for being able to do it.

It’s not that long ago that we had to go to banks to do any transactions, faxes were regarded as technological marvels which would replace snail mail and there was nothing that even approached the ease of a Google search.

So thank you Prof Liskov for making that easier and if you’re looking for another challenge perhaps you could turn your mind to a function which would save a file when someone clicks no after being asked if she wants to save it.

I  did that with a 1000 word essay last week. Fortuantely I’d printed it so it wasn’t as inconvenient as it might have been, but the equivalent of the military as-you-were command for computers would help protect users like me from our own stupidity.


The New Zealand Week

16/02/2009

The New Zealand Week , an on-line review of national and international media, was launched last week.

 

Edited by Paul Corrigan, it summarises stories from New Zealand and overseas media on current events, politics, science and technology, people, business and consumer news, sport, art and literature, film and theatre and travel.

It looks classy, like a quality magazine with a clean, clear layout,  and it’s easy to navigate – you just click on the top corner of each page to get to the next one.

It aims to provide a one-stop catch up on what’s happened in the previous week and I think it succeeds.

Most people would have come across the major news stories already, but not the summary of views on them, and although I think I’m a news junkie it covered several stories which were new to me.

It credits all sources thought doesn’t link to them, however when I wanted to read more on a story I got to the original in a couple of clicks via Google.

My only criticism is that it doesn’t appear to have any archives which meant when I went back to read something I’d only skimmed in last week’s copy it was no longer available.

If you subscribe you’ll get an email every Friday morning with a link to the new edition.

Declaration of potential interest: Late last year I got a phone call asking if I’d be interested in contributing to The New Zealand Week. It was tempting because I liked what it was aiming to do but I didn’t want to commit to a weekly deadline so turned down the offer, however, we’re still discussing the possiblity of an occasional contribution.


Key Google-bombed

12/09/2008

John Key has joined George W Bush and Tony Blair as the target of a Google bomb.

It is an online phenomenon first seen in England at the start of the millennium. This week it reached New Zealand.

Type “clueless” into a New Zealand google search right now, hit ‘I feel lucky’ and you will be directed to John Key’s personal website.

Key has been given the dubious honour of being the first New Zealand politician to be google-bombed and a 22-year-old programmer from Parnell is responsible.

A google bomb is essentially a manipulation of the search engine to improve the rankings of particular webpages that ensures a site is at the top of the results for particular search phrases.

Some of the more famous google bombs are also expressions of political opinion – “liar” leading to Tony Blair, or “miserable failure” leading to the White House’s biography of George W Bush are two that made headlines around the world.

The election campaign is only three hours old and already it’s both silly and dirty. And the silliness and dirt is coming from Parnell – is that a hot bed of political activism?


Words will be on line

06/09/2008

The internet makes it much harder to deny what you’ve said because if it’s been published it can be found.

Google has just made it much easier with a new feature on its news search page which enables you to, for example, search news for Winston Peters  which gets you to this page  and from there you can go to a page like this:

The party intends to clarify some very simple issues giving rise to a misrepresentation in the public arena,” Peters said in a brief statement, without elaborating.
 
Sep 3, 2008  International Herald Tribune  (15 occurrences)
“I’ll talk to the Prime Minister about this later today with the concrete evidence that she will know that these allegations are vile, malevolent, malicious and wrong,” he said on Radio New Zealand. “I’m going to talk to the prime minister…
 
Aug 28, 2008  National Business Review  (20 occurrences)
“If they had the courtesy to talk to me, this matter would have been cleared up in a few minutes,” Peters said. “We will meet this investigation head on.”
 
Aug 28, 2008  AFP  (16 occurrences)
“I am prepared to wait on the court steps for them and if they don’t turn up they can go away for ever,” Mr Peters said.
 
Aug 27, 2008  National Business Review  (15 occurrences)
“I’m saying no,” Mr Peters said at the time.
 
Aug 6, 2008  Stuff.co.nz  (10 occurrences)
If staff had had the courtesy to talk to him, the matter “would have been cleared up in a few minutes”, the minister said. “They did not even have the courtesy to tell me about their decision – I heard it on the radio.”
 
Aug 28, 2008  New Zealand Herald  (20 occurrences)
Mr Peters described the announcement of a fraud investigation as “ridiculous in the extreme” and that the fraud office had not spoken to him.
 
Aug 28, 2008  Melbourne Herald Sun  (20 occurrences)
Peters described Hide’s complaint to police as “obsessive, compulsive, grandstanding behaviour” and a “waste of time”.
 
Sep 4, 2008  The Age  (7 occurrences)
“I’ve had a conversation this afternoon that tells me exactly what time this conversation happened, why it happened, who it happened with and what Mr Glenn said,” he told Parliament. “I know the dates and the times, and I’m going to be…
 
Aug 27, 2008  3 News NZ  (10 occurrences)
Peters described Hide’s complaint to police as “obessive, compulsive, grandstanding behavior” and a “waste of time.”
 
Sep 3, 2008  International Herald Tribune  (3 occurrences)
The party intends to clarify some very simple issues giving rise to a misrepresentation in the public arena,” Peters said in a brief statement, without elaborating.
Sep 3, 2008  International Herald Tribune  (15 occurrences)
“I’ll talk to the Prime Minister about this later today with the concrete evidence that she will know that these allegations are vile, malevolent, malicious and wrong,” he said on Radio New Zealand. “I’m going to talk to the prime minister…
Aug 28, 2008  National Business Review  (20 occurrences)
“If they had the courtesy to talk to me, this matter would have been cleared up in a few minutes,” Peters said. “We will meet this investigation head on.”
Aug 28, 2008  AFP  (16 occurrences)
“I am prepared to wait on the court steps for them and if they don’t turn up they can go away for ever,” Mr Peters said.
Aug 27, 2008  National Business Review  (15 occurrences)
“I’m saying no,” Mr Peters said at the time.
Aug 6, 2008  Stuff.co.nz  (10 occurrences)
If staff had had the courtesy to talk to him, the matter “would have been cleared up in a few minutes”, the minister said. “They did not even have the courtesy to tell me about their decision – I heard it on the radio.”
Aug 28, 2008  New Zealand Herald  (20 occurrences)
Mr Peters described the announcement of a fraud investigation as “ridiculous in the extreme” and that the fraud office had not spoken to him.
Aug 28, 2008  Melbourne Herald Sun  (20 occurrences)
Peters described Hide’s complaint to police as “obsessive, compulsive, grandstanding behaviour” and a “waste of time”.
Sep 4, 2008  The Age  (7 occurrences)
“I’ve had a conversation this afternoon that tells me exactly what time this conversation happened, why it happened, who it happened with and what Mr Glenn said,” he told Parliament. “I know the dates and the times, and I’m going to be…
Aug 27, 2008  3 News NZ  (10 occurrences)
Peters described Hide’s complaint to police as “obsessive, compulsive, grandstanding behavior” and a “waste of time.”
Sep 3, 2008  International Herald Tribune  (3 occurrences)

It might be amusing if it wasn’t for the seriousness of the issue and the damage it is doing to our international reputation for a lack of corruption.

Hat tip: Whaleoil


Quotable Chocolate

14/07/2008

One of the signs that I was beginnning to grow up was the relaisation that the thought of chocolate for breakfast no longer appealed.

However, while I don’t want to eat it early in the morning I’m still happy to read about it and after finding the story about Dunedin’s chocolate carnival about which I wrote earlier, a Google search for chocolate quotes led me to Virtual Chocolate.

 I particularly liked: 

  • Strength is the capacity to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands – and then eat just one of the pieces Judith Viorst
  • Exercise is a dirty word… Every time I hear it, I wash my mouth out with chocolate.
  • I don’t understand why so many “so called” chocolate lovers complain about the calories in chocolate, when all true chocoholics know that it is a vegetable. It comes from the cocoa bean, beans are veggies, ’nuff said.
  • Don’t wreck a sublime chocolate experience by feeling guilty. Chocolate isn’t like premarital sex. It will not make you pregnant. And it always feels good. Lora Brody,
  • “Las cosas claras y el chocolate espeso.” (Ideas should be clear and chocolate thick.) Spanish proverb

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