Vermont Telephone Company’s gigabit internet service is live, half the price of Google Fiber

Remember how Google Fiber‘s recent announcement for planned service in Austin by 2014 spurred immediate competition from AT&T? It’s safe to say telcos in other areas have taken note about the gigabit speeds and roughly $70 montly pricing, too. According to a Wall Street Journal Digits blog post, Vermont Telephone Company is now offering gigabit-speed service to some of its customers for the crazy low stand-alone price of $35 bucks a month. To keep things in perspective, WSJ notes that roughly 600 folks are subscribed (out of VTel’s total base of about 17.5K) and that the company is essentially going to be analyzing whether the current pricing will remain for the long-term. With Google Fiber to continuing to expand, it’s certainly promising to see how superspeed internet is trickling across the US — and how easy it’s been looking on the wallet.

Source: engadget.

Bruce Lawson’s personal site  : Save bandwidth with webP – soon with fallback!

A long time ago, “responsive” didn’t mean “resize your browser window repeatedly while fellow designers orgasm until they resemble a moleskin atop a puddle”. It simply meant “Reacting quickly and positively”, meaning that the page loaded fast and you could interact with it immediately.

One way to do this is to reduce the weight of the page by serving images that have a smaller file-size, thereby consuming less bandwidth and taking less time to download a page. In the last year, web pages download approximately the same number of images, but their total size has increased from about 600K to 812K, making images about 60% of the total page size.

One way to reduce this amount is to encode images in a new(ish) format called webP. It’s developed by Google and is basically a still version of their webM video codec. Google says

WebP is a new image format that provides lossless and lossy compression for images on the web. WebP lossless images are 26% smaller in size compared to PNGs. WebP lossy images are 25-34% smaller in size compared to JPEG images at equivalent SSIM index. WebP supports lossless transparency (also known as alpha channel) with just 22% additional bytes. Transparency is also supported with lossy compression and typically provides 3x smaller file sizes compared to PNG when lossy compression is acceptable for the red/green/blue color channels.

Opera uses it precisely for this compression; it’s used in Opera Turbo, which can be enabled in Opera desktop, Opera Mobile and the Chromium-based Yandex browser. This transcodes images on-the-fly to webP before squirting them down the wire and, on slower connections, it’s still faster.

In tests, Yoav Weiss reported that “Using WebP would increase the savings to 61% of image data”.

WebP is currently supported only in Opera (Presto), Google Chrome, Yandex and Android Browser on Ice Cream Sandwich, which makes it difficult to deploy on the Web. new confidence about technologies in the VP8 video codec on which it’s based might make them feel better about it?)

However, there’s some handy new CSS coming to the rescue soon (when browser vendors implement it). We’ve long been able to specify CSS background images using background-image: url(foo.png);, but now say hello to CSS Image Values and Replaced Content Module Level 4′s Image Fallbacks, which uses this syntax:

background-image: image("wavy.webp", "wavy.png", "wavy.gif");

(Note image rather than url before the list of images.)

The spec says “Multiple ‘image -srcs’ can be given separated by commas, in which case the function represents the first image that’s not an invalid image.”

Simply: go through the list of images and grab the first you can use. If it 404s, continue going through the list until you find one you can use. Note that this isn’t supported anywhere yet, but I hope to see it soon.

Read more @ Bruce Lawson’s personal site.

Tell your Members of Congress How New Internet Taxes Will Impact You

The big internet tax is upon us. Nobody likes to pay taxes but this one in particular will do more harm than good we believe. eBay, PayPal and StubHub have come together to push back and we support them in their efforts.

Here is some of the information:

On March 22, the U.S. Congress supported legislation that could fast-track future passage of an Internet sales tax bill. Unfortunately, the debate did not highlight the impact of this proposal on consumers like you who shop with small businesses online to get great choices and value.

An Internet Sales Tax bill could greatly reduce selection and competitive prices by putting new tax burdens on small businesses. The bills proposed require very small businesses that use the Internet to collect sales taxes from out-of-state customers, increasing their cost of doing business and reducing their ability to compete with giant retail chains.


We hope that you will supports this effort as well and if you want to do so go to the Internet Taxes Alert – Step 1.

The world’s fastest human computer has died aged 83 | News | Geek.com

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Shakuntala Devi, known as the Human Computer, has died at the age of 83 following respiratory and then heart and kidney problems in a Bangalore hospital.

Her title of Human Computer was well earned as she was a child prodigy with phenomenal math skills. Shakuntala’s father noticed her math skills at age three when she could very easily memorize numbers to beat the card tricks she was shown. As her father was a trapeze artist in the circus, he had his daughter impressing the crowds with her super human calculations by age six, but it wasn’t until adulthood her gift was really demonstrated.

In 1977 she beat a computer at calculating the cube root of 188,132,517. Even more impressive is when she was asked for the 23rd root of 201 digit number. It took her 50 seconds to answer correctly, while a UNIVAC 1108 computer took 70 seconds to check she was right. I’m sure today’s computers would easily beat her, though.

Not surprisingly, Shakuntala also holds a Guinness World Record. In 1980 she was tasked with multiplying two 13-digit numbers randomly picked by members of the Computer Department of Imperial College, London. Those numbers were 7,686,369,774,870 and 2,465,099,745,779. She delivered the correct answer in just 28 seconds. She was also capable of telling you the day for any date in the last century almost instantly.

According to DC Shivdev, a trustee for the Shakuntala Devi Educational Foundation Public Trust, Shakuntala had clear and simple techniques she used to perform such math feats. She has written several booksthat try to help children with math and numbers, but her techniques have apparently yet to be used in education.

Source: Geek.com.

Girl Scouts Chapter Introduces Game Design Merit Badge

The Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles have introduced a Game Design merit badge to help encourage its members to get interested in a variety of science and technology fields.

Girl-Scouts

The L.A. Girl Scouts chapter partnered with the Women in Games International organization to create a curriculum for the patch. Girls will be required to program their games as well as design them, using software called Gamestar Mechanic.

The Boy Scouts of America introduced a Game Design merit badge last month, but it does not include the programming requirement.

The Girl Scouts’ version hasn’t been approved by the national organization yet, thus it is only available to Girl Scouts in the Los Angeles chapter. According to NBC News, it’s designed for girls in 4th to 6th grade.

The games industry has recently been more aware of the gender discrepancies in its ranks. A few months ago game creators took to hashtag #1reasonwhy to talk about reasons the industry doesn’t employ enough women, uncovering issues like sexism in some workplaces. A game design merit badge could certainly be one way to get more young women interested in programming and creating games as a career.

Girl Scouts Chapter Introduces Game Design Merit Badge.

Microsoft releases repair disk for botched KB 2823324 patch | Microsoft windows – InfoWorld

If your machine comes up with blue screens of death (BSODs) after installing Microsoft’s ill-fatedKB 2823324/MS13-036 patch, Microsoft has just made available a download that will get your system going again. The CD image is only designed to bring back PCs that absolutely cannot be booted because of KB 2823324. It does not function as a general-purpose Windows 7 System Repair Disk.

Microsoft advises that if you are able to boot your Windows 7 PC, you should remove the botched Black Tuesday patch manually.

If you can’t boot your computer, download the ISO file to any non-comatose PC. Right-click on the downloaded file and burn the ISO to a CD or USB. Then boot from the CD or USB. The KB 2823324 recovery routine proceeds automatically, with no intervention required.

Microsoft advises:

Customers who cannot successfully restart their systems after applying the 2823324 update can download this image to create a bootable DVD or USB drive with which they can boot their systems, uninstall security update 2823324, and return their systems to a normal operating state. Microsoft recommends using this ISO image only if customers cannot successfully restart their systems. Customers who can restart normally should not use this ISO image and should instead refer to Microsoft Knowledge Base Article 2839011 for instructions on how to uninstall security update 2823324.
Known Issues:
1) This will not run on old hardware (pre 2004) that does not support NX.
2) This will only run on Windows 7 32 bit installations.
3) It will not work if Bitlocker is enabled.

The ill-fated patch, which was part of this month’s Black Tuesday crop, started installing automatically on Win7 PCs nine days ago. Last Thursday, Microsoft pulled the patch, with a recommendation that the patch be removed manually.

Although the bad patch interfered with the operation of certain Kaspersky Antivirus packages, the major problems — including repeated BSODs — appeared in the Portuguese-language version of 32-bit Win7.

Source: InfoWorld.

VentureBeat: Google announces its third Google Fiber city: Provo, Utah (aka Silicon Slopes)

Just weeks after officially revealing that Google Fiber would expand into Austin, Tex., Google is announcing its third U.S. Fiber city — Provo, Utah.

Google Fiber offers download and upload speeds that are 100 times faster than the average consumer broadband Internet connection, and at a much cheaper price. The service launched in the Kansas City area back in July, which instantly prompted competing services from Time Warner Cable to boost their own offerings. The announcement of Google Fiber coming to Provo validates Google chairman Eric Schmidt’s  previously statement that this is not a side project for the company.

So why Provo? Google Fiber general manager Kevin Lo explains:

“Utah is already home to hundreds of tech companies and startups, and many of them are based in Provo. In fact, the Provo area ranks second in the nation in patent growth, and is consistently ranked as one of the top places to live and do business in the U.S. We believe the future of the Internet will be built on gigabit speeds, and we’re sure the businesses and residents of Provo already have some good ideas for what they’d build with a gig”

Read more at VentureBeat

CNET: Former Apple Maps lead finds home at Facebook, report says

facebook-mark-zuckerberg

Richard Wiliamson, who led the Apple Maps initiative, is now providing direction for Facebook’s mobile projects, according to Bloomberg.

The rebuffed lead behind Apple Maps landed at the social network sometime in the past few weeks and is a manager within the company’s mobile ranks, two people with knowledge of the hire told Bloomberg.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

richard-williamson-fired

Williamson, previously the senior director of iOS platform services at Apple, was reportedly fired late last year from the company where he had worked for more than 10 years. The ousting came a few months after the Cupertino, Calif., company shipped a subpar Maps application that disappointed, and often misdirected, consumers. The debacle, which compelled Apple CEO Tim Cook to issue a public apology, also was linked to the forced exit of iOS software chief Scott Forstall.

At least six former Apple software and hardware engineers have moved to Facebook, according to previous reports, likely to help the company develop Home for Android — and possibly even iOS.

Source: CNET

Engadget: HBO and Cinemax come to Google Fiber, cable companies shaking in their boots

4-16-2013googlefiberhbo

Google Fiber has a lot going for it, both as an ISP and a pay-TV platform. There was was one gaping hole in the service though: no HBO. Lets be honest with ourselves, its the big geeks that are looking to hop on that 1Gbps service first. And what do geeks love almost as much as blazing-fast Google-branded internet? Game of Thrones. Now Kansas City (and soon Austin) based nerds will be able to watch Joffrey become an even bigger monster live, rather than wait for some torrent site to get an illegal copy of it up (or, if they’re smart, mooch off of someone’s HBO GO account). Alongside HBO, Google Fiber has also added Cinemax: Home Box Office’s less cool sibling. The branded families of channels are both available today for $20 a month or $10 a month respectively. Or, if you’re a real premium TV fan, you can get both, plus STARZ and Showtime for $40 a month. Hit up the source for a few more details.

Source: Engadget

Xen Moving To The Linux Foundation | TechCrunch

The Xen project celebrates its 10th anniversary this week. It’s also moving to a new home at The Linux Foundation as a Collaborative Project. Just like the Linux kernel, Xen enjoys contributions from a variety of different companies, so a vendor-neutral organization to host development and collaboration is a big win for the project.

Although KVM has garnered a lot of attention lately, Xen is still more widely deployed and used. After all, it serves as the underpinnings for all of Amazon Web Services’ EC2 virtualization. It’s also used by Cisco, Citrix, Google, and a host of other companies. Recent developments in Xen have come from organizations as diverse as the U.S. National Security Agency, SUSE Linux, Oracle, and Intel.

“The open source model is predicated upon freedom of choice, so supporting a range of open source virtualization platforms and facilitating collaboration across open source communities is a priority for The Linux Foundation,” wrote Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation, in a blog post. “The market has proven there is opportunity for more than one way to enable virtualization in Linux, and both KVM and Xen have their own merits for different use cases.”

Xen Moving To The Linux Foundation | TechCrunch.