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Episode 610: Stop killing the universe

Why you should stop thinking about dark matter and start buying your iPhones in Germany.

We got into a series of debates on today's show about eBooks, DRM, the reliability of the 700 MHz spectrum and most interestingly, how observing dark matter might shorten the life span of the universe. Of course we also talked about unlocked iPhones in Germany too. So it wasn't all cosmology.


Listen now: Download today's podcast



Anonymous Darwinist
Windows Vista might be scrapped?

Joel Rochester
TV reception's so bad...Internet will be better?

Downgrading isn't just for Windows anymore.

Kindle for pop-up books.

Passenger on airplane imitates iPhone commercial
So there's that iPhone commercial where the airline pilot talks about using his trusty iPhone to determine that the weather is clear enough to take off, and calls his dispatcher, yada yada yada. Well, a passenger used his iPhone to determine that it was all clear and relayed that information to the captain via flight attendant, only to get a questionably rude but hilarious response. The captain responded over the PA with:

"If the passenger with the iPhone would be kind enough to use it to check the weather at our alternate, calculate our fuel burn due to being rerouted around the storms, call the dispatcher to arrange our release, and then make a phone call to the nearest air traffic control center to arrange our timely departure amongst the other aircraft carrying passengers with iPhones, then we will be more than happy to depart. Please ring your call button to advise the flight attendant and your fellow passengers when you deem it ready and responsible for this multimillion dollar aircraft and its passengers to safely leave."


Illegal downloading on campus not encouraged, but students offered a solution

I'm a bit behind with listening to my BOLs but have just about caught up now and think you might be interested to hear how my university deals with downloading illegal content.

Recently my UK University, which I won't name, decided to relax the tight restrictions for its campus accommodation network between the hours of 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. This allows for WoW playing, Internet radio, etc. and also P2P and Bit Torrent. We are asked to use Bit Torrent responsibly but not for the reasons you might think:

"Unlike online games and radio which use a small amount of bandwidth, peer-to-peer services like Bit Torrent use all the bandwidth possible unless you impose limits. I suggest you set an upload limit 500k."

In the initial email there is no mention what so ever about copyrighted content. However, an email the next day stated:

"Well a lot of people were downloading last night successfully and the proof is that we have received several complaints of copyright infringement from one of the many groups (ESA, MPAA, RIAA, etc.) that police the Net on behalf of companies who produce the material."

The punishment for getting a complaint made against you is as threatening as:

"You will lose your Internet connection in your room."

Not a huge fine and/or losing your student loan, it seems.

But it won't be any problem whatsoever if you follow the network manager's helpful advice:

"Now what I can suggest is that to reduce the risk of getting a complaint made against you if you insist on downloading something that you know you should not is that you run a program called 'Peer Guardian.'"

He goes on to provide a link to the program as well.

As far as I am aware, the DMCA and other U.S. laws don't hold much water in the U.K., but where does the network manager stand legally by telling students how to beat the system?

Love the show; keep up the good work,

Gavin, the Robotics Student from England

Stop with the Kindle FUD
Hey, Tom, Molly, and Jason,

I find myself surprised by the amount of FUD you guys (and gal) seem to be spreading about the Kindle. If there's one group of tech heads I expected to appreciate what the Kindle has to offer, it would be you guys. To begin with, it doesn't seem like any of you have bothered to dig into just what the Kindle is capable of, or really appreciate just how right Amazon got the service that feeds books to the device.

I mean, come on, we've all grown to appreciate that the beauty of the iPod isn't the device itself, but the way it gets its content. I believe the 100 extra the Kindle costs over the Sony Reader is entirely worth the ability to have wireless connection to a delivery service for the life of the device.

I would have killed to be able to acquire a Kindle (and accompanying service) as a freshman in college. Imagine Amazon forming partnerships with schools so that students could simply download a semester's worth of textbooks and course reading packets. Of course, if the Kindle takes off, I can easily see Amazon releasing a cheaper version (perhaps minus the EVDO service) for those of us that don't mind having to sync with our computers.

I commend Amazon for taking this step and can think of no other company I would trust to do something like this. The hardware may not be the sexiest, but last I checked, the paperback wasn't exactly the epitome of award-winning design, either.

Thanks, and of course, I love the show,

Jay, New York

Windows Vista comment
Hello, Buzz Crew:

After listening to Episode 609 about the tech turkeys, I found myself in complete agreement when Molly mentioned Windows Vista as being the No. 1 tech turkey. I do not use Vista, and I will probably never use Vista at this point, but I follow what is going on with it very closely.

Then, I found myself in Best Buy on Black Friday shopping for a new computer that I desperately need. While I know that none of the off-the-shelf computers will have XP on them, I would be more than willing to find the PC I want, wipe the hard drive, and install XP and all of the drivers necessary to make it run, just to avoid having Vista.

Ironically, the gentleman that came up to me to ask me if I needed any assistance was not actually a Best Buy employee, but a MICROSOFT representative. As I described to him what I was looking for, I made it clear that I did not want Vista. Naturally, he tried to put a positive spin on the OS by saying that he uses it, even with old hardware, and has no trouble. However, the more that I contradicted him in the flaws in the OS, the more difficult time he had keeping afloat, and within a very short time, HE--the Microsoft representative--was leading me through the options I had to purchase a PC from Best Buy and have XP on it. He even brought me over to a Best Buy For Business rep to assist me in pricing a PC that would include XP!

Seems the consumers are not the only ones wanting to crown Windows Vista as the next Windows Me!

Love the show!

Stephanie in Atlanta