Wilson’s official statement on today’s FCC ruling

February 26th, 2015

Here is Wilson’s official statement on today’s FCC ruling.


Wilson, N.C. — The City of Wilson applauds FCC Chairman Wheeler and the Commission for their leadership today in approving the City’s petition to preempt a North Carolina state law that restricts municipal Gigabit broadband deployment. Today’s historic decision now enables Wilson and other North Carolina municipalities to provide the Gigabit broadband infrastructure and services that North Carolina and America need in order to remain competitive in our emerging knowledge-based global economy.
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Fuse cutout – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

February 26th, 2015

During bad weather, many folks will hear electrical booms in their area and blame it on a “transformer blowing.”

The truth is that transformers are expensive, so the power companies protect them with equipment called “cut-out fuses.” In a lot of cases where a branch has brushed a power line, these fuses will blow and cut power to a street. If the branch falls away and the line isn’t damaged, a lineman can quickly restore power just by resetting the fuse using a long pole.

So now you know.

In electrical distribution, a fuse cutout or cut-out fuse is a combination of a fuse and a switch, used in primary overhead feeder lines and taps to protect distribution transformers from current surges and overloads. An overcurrent caused by a fault in the transformer or customer circuit will cause the fuse to melt, disconnecting the transformer from the line. It can also be opened manually by utility linemen standing on the ground and using a long insulating stick called a "hot stick".

via Fuse cutout – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The FCC rules against state limits on city-run Internet – The Washington Post

February 26th, 2015

Wilson’s petition to the FCC was just granted and I couldn’t be happier. North Carolina’s “Level Playing Field” law, written by Time Warner Cable, is now null and void. Now communities across the state can build themselves their own digital future with a community broadband service.

I would be dancing in the street if the street wasn’t a slushy mess right now!

For years, cities around the country have been trying to build their own, local competitors to Verizon, Charter and other major Internet providers. Such government-run Internet service would be faster and cheaper than private alternatives, they argued. But in roughly 20 states, those efforts have been stymied by state laws.

Now, the nation’s top telecom regulators want to change that. On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commissions voted 3-2 to override laws preventing Chattanooga, Tenn., and Wilson, N.C. from expanding the high-speed Internet service the cities already offer to some residents.

via The FCC rules against state limits on city-run Internet – The Washington Post.

6 of the Most Unbelievably Cheap Paradises on Earth | Thrillist

February 22nd, 2015


Everyone at one time or another has wanted to get away from it all and beach/ski/paraglide-bum it in some foreign land. Small problem: that’s very expensive. Or is it? That’s our sweet rhetorical way of saying maybe not. Check this list of 12 shockingly affordable paradises you can live in for peanuts… though you’ll probably be packed and out the door by number seven.

via 6 of the Most Unbelievably Cheap Paradises on Earth | Thrillist.

A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing: Unconscionability

February 22nd, 2015

An author picks apart the standard publishing contract, showing how ridiculously one-sided it is.

Unconscionability also known as unconscientious dealings is a term used in contract law to describe a defense against the enforcement of a contract based on the presence of terms that are excessively unfair to one party. Typically, such a contract is held to be unenforceable because the consideration offered is lacking or is so obviously inadequate that to enforce the contract would be unfair to the party seeking to escape the contract.

If you read this blog, you know where I’m going with this. I’m going to point out some of the more one-sided, onerous terms in a standard publishing contract. And make no mistake–these are practically universal, and for the most part, non-negotiable.

via A Newbie's Guide to Publishing: Unconscionability.

Is this the fuel cell that will crack the code to the data center? | Gigaom

February 20th, 2015

Microsoft is exploring putting fuel cells directly in datacenter racks and skipping the DC/AC/DC conversion.

The controversial idea of using fuel cells to power data centers has been under discussion for the past couple of years. Probably the most famous project out there is Apple’s 10 MW fuel cell farm, which uses 50 fuel cells from Silicon Valley startup Bloom Energy installed next to its east coast data center in North Carolina.

But Microsoft is just starting to kick off a pretty unusual and innovative project using fuel cells and data centers that could some day draw a lot of interest. Microsoft is working with young startup Redox Power Systems and using a grant from the Department of Energy’s ARPA-E program, to test out Redox’s fuel cells to power individual server racks within a data center.

via Is this the fuel cell that will crack the code to the data center? | Gigaom.

Reporters on the CIA take

February 20th, 2015

The story of Ken Dilanian playing footsie with the CIA brought to mind a comment I heard a few years back from someone in a position to know who insisted that news anchor Ted Koppel was a paid CIA asset. That was quite an extraordinary claim but I did not follow up and I could not find much evidence on the web to back it up.

It is not, however, a new phenomenon. Legendary journalist Carl Bernstein wrote a lengthy story about improper CIA involvement with the media. Wikipedia describes “Operation Mockinbgird” as a CIA plan to influence media and speaks of it in the past tense, though there is no indication that the operation has ended. Perhaps it hasn’t.

AP reporter soft-pedals phone key theft

February 20th, 2015
Ken Dilanian

Ken Dilanian

Associated Press Intelligence reporter Ken Dilanian reports on the NSA/GCHQ’s theft of mobile phone keys, as reported by The Intercept.

WASHINGTON AP — Britain’s electronic spying agency, in cooperation with the U.S. National Security Agency, hacked into the networks of a Dutch company to steal codes that allow both governments to seamlessly eavesdrop on mobile phones worldwide, according to the documents given to journalists by Edward Snowden.

via AP News | The Times-Tribune | thetimes-tribune.com.

Dilanian’s soft-pedaling arrives in the second paragraph:
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The VA’s crystal ball

February 20th, 2015

VA diagnosis by crystal ball

VA diagnosis by crystal ball

The Veterans Administration is the most amazing medical system anywhere, bar none. I had always been under the impression that rendering a diagnosis required a doctor but somehow the VA can do it without one.

After years of mysterious health issues, I finally got mad enough two weeks ago to file paperwork to enroll in VA coverage. A day or two after mailing my paperwork I was delighted to receive a phone call from a VA representative who helpfully set me up with an appointment. Having long worked in customer service, I was impressed with my representative’s knowledge of his job and his rapport with his customer. In fact, I was already working on a blog post and even considered sharing my praise with Rep. David Price. All was looking up until I got this fancy-looking, full-color customized booklet in the mail yesterday. On page five was the bad news:
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The Great SIM Heist: How Spies Stole the Keys to the Encryption Castle

February 19th, 2015

NSA hacked SIM card manufacturer Gemalto and stole millions of encryption keys without the company’s knowledge. While I don’t particularly mind NSA targeting bad guys (that’s why we have NSA), I consider hacking the good guys to get the bad guys to be very poor form.

I am not surprised that this took place on Obama’s watch, either. His record is just as bad as George W. Bush’s. Perhaps worse.

The monitoring of the lawful communications of employees of major international corporations shows that such statements by Obama, other U.S. officials and British leaders — that they only intercept and monitor the communications of known or suspected criminals or terrorists — were untrue. “The NSA and GCHQ view the private communications of people who work for these companies as fair game,” says the ACLU’s Soghoian. “These people were specifically hunted and targeted by intelligence agencies, not because they did anything wrong, but because they could be used as a means to an end.”

via The Great SIM Heist: How Spies Stole the Keys to the Encryption Castle.