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The Geek’s Reading List: Week of October 24th, 2014

Piccioni: “I find the fact Google has selected Power8 as a processor intriguing, however, it is worth recalling that IBM has “opened” its Power architecture, meaning that many of the variants can be manufactured by whoever wants to make them. Of course, this may simply be a gambit by Google to get Intel to drops its prices.”
This has been yet another slow tech news week. There were a few apparent medical breakthroughs announced, which is good, and the usual litany of bitcoin ripoffs (its seems fools, and libertarians, are easily separated from their funny money). Otherwise, news is just a hodgepodge of mostly unrelated items.

This Google Motherboard Means Trouble for Intel

I used to be quite skeptical of the thought Intel would be displaced from certain large markets by ARM and other CPU architectures. As I wrote almost two years ago, the unmitigated fiasco that is Windows 8, combined with the emergence of rival operating systems (most notably the Android variant of Linux) has led me to reevaluate that position. I find the fact Google has selected Power8 as a processor intriguing, however, it is worth recalling that IBM has “opened” its Power architecture, meaning that many of the variants can be manufactured by whoever wants to make them. Of course, this may simply be a gambit by Google to get Intel to drops its prices.

“It’s not just that people are buying iPads and Android phones built with low-power ARM processors instead of PCs and phones and tablets powered by Intel chips–the main reason the Chandler plant was put on hold. It’s that the big online companies, including Google and Facebook and Amazon, are now looking to run their operations on computer servers that use chips made by someone other than Intel. And the first trend may ultimately feed the second. The latest blow to Intel’s future arrived on Monday in the form of a red server motherboard touted by Gordon MacKean, the man responsible for building the hundreds of thousands of servers that power Google’s online empire. In a Google+ post, MacKean said he was “excited” to show off the red motherboard, which was built using not an Intel chip, but IBM’s Power8 processor.”

LED Lights Are A ‘Transformative Technology’ In The Developing World

A number of years back we predicted that LED lighting would substantially replace other forms of lighting due to its superior energy efficiency and longer life. We did not anticipate this development, however, it does make sense. We knew that an LED light requires perhaps 10% of the power of other lighting, and it runs off a low voltage power supply, it is ideal for battery powered applications. Since small batteries are fairly easy to charge using hand cranked generators, solar cells, etc., the technology promises to bring light to the developing world at a modest cost. By the way: you can buy a pretty cheap, cigar sized LED flashlight which outperforms any large, heavy, old fashioned flashlight for about $10 right now. Its the way to go.

“Less familiar is the illumination revolution LED bulbs have helped set off in the developing world. For a growing proportion of the more than a billion people who live without reliable sources of electricity, LED lights, in tandem with solar panels, have been a godsend. Nearly 5 percent of Africans without access to electricity, or some 28.5 million people, now use solar-powered LED lights. That’s up from 1 percent five years ago, according to figures released this month by Lighting Africa, a project of the International Finance Corp., the private-sector investment arm of the World Bank. There’s a growing market in South Asia, too.”


This article is an excerpt. You can subscribe to the full version of The Geek’s Reading List here.


Australian doctors transplant ‘dead’ hearts in surgical breakthrough

This looks like another impressive result. Since some organs are typically harvested from brain dead (but otherwise still alive) patients, you have to find a brain dead patient who just happens to be a match for the recipient. If the supply of donors can be expanded to those who are completely dead (i.e. their heart has stopped) then, presumably, more patients can be helped.

“Australian surgeons said Friday they have used hearts which had stopped beating in successful transplants, in what they said was a world first that could change the way organs are donated. Until now, doctors have relied on using the still-beating hearts of donors who have been declared brain dead, often placing the recovered organs on ice and rushing them to their recipients. But Sydney’s St Vincent’s Hospital and the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute have developed a technique which means hearts which had been still for 20 minutes can be resuscitated, kept beating and transplanted into a patient.”

Bitcasa Ends Unlimited Storage

And this is another of many reasons you might want to stay away from cloud storage. Imagine you store your personal or corporate files on the cloud. Once you get to a few terabytes, which is not that hard to do, your provider decides that prices are going up, say from $10 to $50 per terabyte. Now, it’ll take a long time and a lot of bandwidth for you to move your data, assuming of course your service provider allows you to do that, leading to the “Cloud extortion” business model. Take my advice: even if you insist in using cloud storage, install something like BitTorrent Sync to maintain a local copy. Then ask yourself: “if I have my own cloud, why do I need a cloud storage provider?”

“Bitcasa, a cloud storage service that initially made waves with a low cost unlimited storage offer is scrapping this option entirely — claiming it’s not being used enough to justify the high costs of dealing with a small group of what it dubs Terms of Service abusers. Bitcasa is a former TechCrunch Disrupt Battlefield finalist. It started out, back in 2011, offering unlimited cloud storage for just $10 per month. Less than three years later that unlimited promise is no more.”

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