Home Bandwidth Needs Projected to Increase, Hopefully Not to Accomodate Unsecured Webcams

A new study sponsored by network firm Ciena finds that growing demand for over the top (OTT) video will increase household bandwidth needs by 31%; current 2.9 Mbps peak hour average household usage is expected to increase to 7.3 Mbps. The impact is identified as arising out of streaming video that is unicast to multiple devices. A Ciena press release on the findings also list Ciena products that can address the anticipated growth. The firm will host a webinar on December 2 to explore the study and its findings. The findings, as reported, corroborate rural industry statements that video is driving broadband take-rates, and that bandwidth capacity to accommodate video remains a vital component of network planning and policy formulations.

Hopefully, increased demand will not arise from streaming of unsecured webcams. Read more

Bike Safety Technology

In the nation’s capital, where I live, bicycle usage is way up: in 2012, Washington, D.C., jumped ahead of San Francisco and Seattle for the America’s number three spot for bike commuting.  What’s also up: accidents and the inevitable friction between cyclists, drivers and pedestrians. Each group here in D.C. has a beef with the other group and much of it comes down to each group thinks the other has no regard for traffic laws or the safety of others. Myself, I think that bicyclists have an annoying habit of ignoring stop signs. But, I take great pains to watch carefully for cyclists, as I would feel pretty bad if I hit one (most of them anyway, more on that later).

When shopping online for a shed to store my bike in my backyard, I came across this: Hovding, an airbag for cyclists. It’s worn around your neck and looks like a thick scarf, but when it detects an impact, it deploys like a car airbag and protects your head and neck. It can distinguish between small impacts, like riding over rough terrain and an actual crash, to prevent false deployments. It costs about $500, but a Swedish insurance company says that it’s more effective than a traditional helmet. Read more

A Bump in the Road for Apple Pay?

Last week, I wrote about the Apple Pay, Apple’s new electronic payment technology that promised to bolster the security of vulnerable consumer financial data.

A few days later, the fledgling service took a hit when two major retailers officially announced that they would not be using Apple Pay: Rite Aid and CVS.

While neither officially issued a reason for their decision, it is widely known that both Rite Aid and CVS are part of a coalition of retailers working on the development of their own mobile payment system. The coalition—which also includes Walmart, Lowe’s, Best Buy and Dunkin’ Donuts—is known as the Merchant Customer Exchange, or MCX. Their mobile payment system, dubbed CurrentC, is scheduled for rollout sometime in 2015. Read more

Nintendo Planning a ‘Non-Wearable’ Sleep Sensor; Other Interesting ‘Wearables’ Tidbits

A recently released study found that 758 million smart “wearable” devices (e.g., Fitbit, the Apple Watch, etc.) will be sold worldwide over the next seven years. The study also found that it will take until 2020 for the sales of wearables to reach that of tablets.

Nintendo announced last week that it is working on a “Quality of Life” (QoL) device, something it has hinted at for months. It’s a sleep sensor, and Nintendo’s President took great pains to not only emphasize that it is not a “wearable” device, it is a “non” in five different ways: non-wearable, non-contact, non-operating, non-waiting and non-installation. All that really means is that there is no set-up involved, it does not need to touch your body, the results are instantaneous, and it operates without you really knowing it or having to do anything other than put to use the results. Read more

New Verizon Router Aims for Better Smart Home

The loss of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo last week has raised numerous questions regarding space exploration and so-called tourist space travel. Like many other complicated events, it seems to have found at least a momentary home among elevator conversations and talk radio. I am hardly expert or even novice enough to comment on the topic except to qualify any statement with a, “Based on what I understand . . .” This morning, I heard someone describe the design, in which the central fuselage is borne aloft by a “mother ship” as being similar to the Space Shuttle. Of course, the Space Shuttle was never taken to launch position aboard another craft; rather, the images of the Space Shuttle “piggyback” atop of a 747 reflected the use of modified aircraft to bring the Shuttle from landing sites back to Kennedy Space Center. In an elevator, that sort of misunderstanding can be harmless; in public policy, it can be disastrous.

A story I tell often concerns a meeting with federal staff about the need for wires in wireless networks. One staffer disagreed, arguing instead that wireless calls transmit from phone to tower to tower, along a line of towers, until the called party’s phone is nearby — at which time the call leaps from the tower into the phone. After several minutes of back and forth discussion, the government staffer relented and concluded, “I suppose we’ll just agree to disagree.” I am more than happy to disagree about many things, but this was a tough one to take. Read more

Fries, and a Fond Look Back at the Facebook Phone

There is a burger joint my neighborhood that has been around for about 20 years. When it opened, and for the next 15 or so years, it focused on a core menu — burgers, sandwiches, and hot dogs. If you wanted something exotic, you could order the fried chicken basket. But, for the most part, the menu was essentially some form of meat between bread, with an expansive selection of sides, including small fries, medium fries and large spicy fries (adventurous ones could also order a salad or mashed potatoes).

At some point in the last half-decade, the owners decided to expand their repertoire and added a Middle Eastern menu, which broke things wide open by offering spit-roasted, instead of broiled, meat on flat bread, instead of buns (low carb adherents can also order meat on a stick).

And then things got interesting. Came the Chinese menu, and a sushi counter. And then Mexican night. And honestly, all I want is my chili burger with fries. Maybe the steak sub, if I’m up to it. But, if I want Chinese, I’m going to the Chinese restaurant, not the sandwich shop that found a way to make rice with an orange-sauced chicken.

If you’re in the market for a new phone, you can now purchase an Amazon Fire for $1.00 (yes, one dollar) with a two-year contract from AT&T. If you’re not quite sure whether that’s a good deal, then consider that the same phone was listed at $199 (one hundred ninety-nine dollars) in July (yes, July 2014). That’s an awesome $198 discount in just under four months (or, approximately 99.497% off original list price). The Wall Street Journal reports that Amazon has $83 million worth of the devices in its warehouses. It seems an unusual turn of events for Amazon, whose stock performance over five years has been strong. After releasing the Kindle e-reader, one might have thought that a phone was the next big thing – recall that Amazon started as an online bookstore, and then expanded its offering to include everything from food and diapers to robotic gutter cleaners (yep, I saw this last year at CES and it is on my “buy” list – no more ladders for me). Read more

Online Harassment

I really enjoy the “comments” section of online articles (whether they be news, opinion, or even about sports). From the snarky comments, to the sometimes insightful debate in comment forums, and just hearing others’ views and responses that I would have never thought of, I enjoy and value it. I’m also a cynic when it comes to the propensities of my fellow man for being narrow-minded, so certain articles I know will generate nasty comments attract my attention. I personally have been the target of some very nasty comments posted in reply to things I have said on social media, but I found them kind of funny and even imaginative insults, and such an overreaction, that I just shrugged it off.

But, it can go much further. A recently released Pew Research study found that 73% of online users in the study have witnessed online harassment of others and 40% have themselves been harassed online. This includes not only nasty comments and name calling in comment forums and on social media, but threats of violence and stalking.

Some other interesting findings from the study: 66% of complaints of harassment from study participants came on social media, and 16% were tied to online gaming. Men were harassed more (44% to 37%) but the harassment against women seemed to be much more violent and threatening.

And, if you have never heard of the “Gamergate” controversy, then you have not seen the limits of online anger and harassment. The genesis is a group of gamers questioning the ethics of certain game creators and industry critics. It has morphed into threats, stalking, posting of victims home addresses and reported attempts at hacking the devices and bank accounts of those victims. The FBI is taking the threats seriously.

The funniest thing I came across when reading about this study: one commenter in an article discussing the study said that while 70% of people have witnessed someone being a jerk on the Internet, 100% of us have witnessed someone being a jerk in real life. True that.

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