Thursday, January 29, 2009


I don't understand the economics behind femtocells. A femtocell is a device you plug in at home, expanding a cell phone company's coverage by using your internet connection. This allows you to have a better signal and takes a load off the cell phone company's towers and networks.

Great, I say. How much of a discount will they give me from my bill for doing this?

Answer: None, and they may actually charge you for this "service". Sprint wants $10-$20/month. Verizon will let you have it for free, but still deducts your minutes even though you're not using their network!

What a wonderful business model -- if you're a cell phone company. Charging customers to subsidize your business. And you don't even have to break any kneecaps or hire mafia thugs.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

IBM's glaring omission

I just saw IBM's "What is a Petaflop?" commercial. In it, they state that this computer can be used to "redesign our energy grid; cure diseases in our vascular system; simulate the big bang; we can build smarter cities; cut down on crime, disease, gridlock, global warming; it can help us make the world work better."

Alas, they omit the most widely used application for supercomputers: designing nuclear weapons. The TOP500 list has a number of IBM installations at Department of Energy sites; you can probably guess what they mean when they list the application area as not specified.

On the positive side, at least this means they're not testing actual weapons on people.