Avanti UK to Develop New 50Mbps Hercules Broadband Satellite

The US is not the only country where rural Internet users are being starved of broadband. Several companies over in the UK are talking about offering satellite Internet service to rural locations in Britain, possibly lured by the hope of government subsidies for USO [Universal Service Obligation] solutions.

In other words, satellite is being put forward as a way for telcos to say "we offer broadband to everyone" without having to string cable or put up radio towers to all corners of the realm. However, the publication ISPreview has very rightly raised concerns "about the use of satellite services as a USO solution...High hardware/installation costs, uselessly restrictive usage allowances, unreliable speeds and poor latency are chief among those [concerns]."

We agree. In fact we couldn't say it better than this: "To date we've yet to see a satellite broadband service that could negate most of these fears..."

The claimed download speed of the latest Avanti proposal is impressive, but until the latency and bandwidth cap issues are addressed, satellite's a non-starter in our opinion. ISPreview have just completed an interview with Avanti "where some very difficult questions were put to them" and the interview is expected to surface at the start of June.

ISPreview UK

12,000 Reasons Why Church and State Must Stay Separate

12,000 is the number of Catholic church abuse victims in Ireland to whom the Irish government has already paid compensation, even before the latest damning report of systematic beatings and rape revealed last week.

(This Canadian article and this CSN article are just two from hundreds around the world covering this topic. Google News is packed with over 2,000 results on the subject, some of the most gut-wrenching being Letters to the Editor from victims in both England and Ireland.)

12,000 is number of Catholic church abuse victims in Ireland who had to waive their rights to sue the state or church to get that compensation. Well folks, that's what life is like when your country's constitution begins with these words:
"In the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, from Whom is all authority and to Whom, as our final end, all actions both of men and States must be referred..."
and continues...
"We, the people of Éire, Humbly acknowledging all our obligations to our Divine Lord, Jesus Christ...Do hereby adopt, enact, and give to ourselves this Constitution."
You cannot expect anything other than systematic sexual, physical, and psychological abuse of the citizenry by the clergy when you require all the people who live within your borders to live "under God," and then compound that error by defining god specifically, as in "our Divine Lord, Jesus Christ."

That is not a democracy, that's a theocracy. As such, Ireland gives Jesus Christ's representatives on earth way too much power and influence. It would truly be a miracle if that much power and influence didn't result in boys and girls being raped and beaten by priests on a massive scale while the police and the Department of Educaton just looked the other way.

BTW, I am not making up that "Jesus is our Lord" constitution stuff. Here's a link to the official version of the Irish constitution. Scroll past the amendments to get to the opening lines, bearing in mind that none of the amendments repeal Jesus--who above all people knew he didn't belong there. (Amazingly, there are some Americans who still don't understand why the people who live in the northern part of the island of Ireland don't want to be governed by the Irish constitution.) Go figure!

Sins of iMission: What Apple omitted from the iPhone

If you've observed the outpouring of joy and wonder--and cash--with which adoring Apple fans have greeted each new iteration of the iPhone, and if you've formed the general impression that the iPhone is the "smartphone" that does everything, think again. iphoneDig a little deeper into the online chatter and you find out, as buyers like me have done, that Apple omitted some serious "basic" features from all the iPhones so far produced.

Topping the "Sins of iMission" is a feature that's almost synonymous with Apple. That's right I'm talking about cut-and-paste. You heard right, there's no way to...

The Inside Word on the Next Apple iPhone?

According to an Apple Insider story that came out on Friday--and was apparently overlooked by the mainstream press--Apple executives said they believe "the iPhone remains in its infancy" and revealed to one analyst "a series of strategic measures they may employ in the near term to help grow the handset's share of the booming smartphone market."

Apparently, "the comments came during a meeting between senior company officials and analysts for Oppenheimer... analyst Yair Reiner said Apple sidestepped his questions on new products but remained upbeat about the potential for "considerable" growth." Reiner also wrote that Apple thinks "the iPhone is still in its early days and could gain share by: providing more functionality; lowering prices; growing geographically; or segmenting the market with different models."

So what would those models look like? Well, you could be looking at one of them right here. The image, marked as EMBARGOED appears to show an iPhone with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard.

Apple was stung earlier this year by the press attention given to Palm's announcement of the "Pre" model. It uses a large, gestured-enabled display which looks a lot like the iPhone. But the Pre also has a slide out QWERTY keyboard. Many smartphone users have expressed a preference for the tactile feedback of a "real" keyboard as opposed to the onscreen keyboard on current iPhones (which some users find unreliable and which undeniably takes up valuable screen real estate when in use).

So, does it make sense for Apple to strike back with a slide out tactile keyboard of its own? Maybe. The soon-to-be-released 3.0 iPhone software upgrade will add the long missing/awaited ability to select text and copy from one app to another (a stock feature of all Palm smartphones going back many years). Blackberry users seem loathe to give up their QWERTYs. This is one analyst that wouldn't be surprised to see Apple cave in to QWERTY pressure as well.

[Note: This blog post should not be used as a basis for investment decisions and readers are reminded that it is a blog post. We first saw this particular image at the very beginning of April.]

Blogging From the iPhone

Checking out a new blogging channel. Quite a nice little app. Called BlogPress. Next up will be a test of photos. Wait there's a camera icon. Cool.

Post From My iPhone

Good News for Tesla Motors: $100K Porsche looks like S clone

Now that Porsche has unveiled the final production version of its long-awaited 4-door sedan, the $100,000 Panamera, it is clear that the vehicle bears many similarities to another hi-tech sedan, the all-electric Tesla S Sedan. I cobbled together some shots to show what I mean:

Both cars are very good looking, and both designs owe something to sport sedan styling pioneered by the Maserati Quattroporte, blending 4 doors into a swooping roof line. Both the Pamamera and the S have extensive sun roofs. Both have hatchbacks, made possible by the slope of the roof. I am in no way suggesting that anyone is copying anyone here; if you want four doors and seating for four in a smooth shape with low drag coefficient then this is the shape. Porsche rounds the Panamera's rear in keeping with the Porsche "look" while Tesla's Franz von Holzhausenon takes a more carved, angular approach that has slight echoes of the Nissan Altima and recent BMW 3 series. Bear in mind that von Holzhausenon's remit here is to craft a look that gets the pulse racing yet appeals to a wide audience. After all, the Tesla sedan spearheads the company's bid to take all-electric vehicles mainstream.

But under the skin the cars couldn't be more different. The Panamera runs on fossil fuel and requires a fuel tank. The Tesla takes its power from batteries built into the chassis. That allows the Tesla to have a huge trunk space. How big? It can accommodate a third row of seating! Pricing is also very different, roughly $60K for a Tesla versus $100K for a Porsche. But performance may be quite closely matched (hard to believe perhaps, until you experience the Tesla's neck-snapping acceleration off the line).

The Good: Montana Man Making Money on the Internet

"In Malta, Montana, Roy Martinez averages over $10,000/month selling Western replicas related to Clint Eastwood Westerns."

The Rural Broadband Challenge: Use It | Daily Yonder | Keep It Rural:

Cool example of what can be done from a rural location IF you can get true broadband.

(The Bad and the Ugly? You can't host a website on a satellite Internet connection. And if you host your website somewhere else, how are you going to back it up to your local machine, or even assess website performance if your satellite link has higher latecny than the average consumer Internet connection?)

Google reshoots Japan views after privacy complaints

So what's with these island nations and Google Street View? First English villagers attack Google camera car. Now the Japanese are upset. See my previous posts on this here, and also here.

Google reshoots Japan views after privacy complaints - News - CNBC.com: "TOKYO, May 13 (Reuters) - Internet search engine Google said it would reshoot all Japanese pictures for its online photo map service, Street View, using lower camera angles after complaints about invasion of privacy."

BTW and FYI, did you know that England, if considered as a separate country, has a higher population density than Japan. Does that make a difference to people's perceptions of privacy? You bet!

Adult Growth Hormone Deficiency: The 21 signs and symptoms

So, in the continuing iron overload saga, it now appears that my wife's hemochromatosis has had three major impacts, or impacted three major glands (thyroid, adrenals, and pituitary). Although a course of phlebotomy is underway to treat the hemochromatosis, dealing with damage to the glands is more complicated.

Consider the Human Growth Hormone deficiency due to the damage to the pituitary. It's not like HGH is something you can get over the counter at the local pharmacy. The substance itself is unstable, requiring special handling, and it very expensive to produce. And thanks to years of mindless abuse by selfish greedy so-called "athletes" HGH is not easy to get (in the State of New York it's a controlled substance, with all the hassles that designation entails).

On the upside, there is some good support out there for sufferers of human growth hormone deficiency, which mainly occurs in children. The adult version is known as Adult Growth Hormone Deficiency or AGHD. I was amazed to learn how much of an impact AGHD can have on a person. Consider this list:

  1. weakened heart muscle contraction and heart rate

  2. increased arterial plaque and blood pressure

  3. elevated lipids or fats in the blood (cholesterol, LDL, triglycerides)

  4. decreased exercise capacity due to decreased cardiac output

  5. decreased energy due to decreased metabolic rate

  6. abnormal body composition (increased abdominal obesity--waist to hip ratio)

  7. decreased bone density due to decreased synthesis of bone

  8. increase in fractures and osteoporosis

  9. decreased muscle strength and muscle size

  10. decreased lean body mass

  11. increased fat mass

  12. low blood sugar (dizziness or fainting weakness or tiredness, headaches)

  13. poor concentration or memory

  14. decreased sexual desire

  15. sleep problems

  16. shyness

  17. withdrawal from others

  18. nervousness or anxiety

  19. decreased social contact

  20. sadness or depression

  21. feelings of hopelessness

The bad news is, my wife has experienced all of these. The good news is, HGH could reverse any or all of these. So if you read the list as one of positive possibilities it's quite exciting, like #5: "Increased energy due to increased metabolic rate." I know she'd like that!

Of course, there's a long way to go yet. AGHD is a pretty nasty thing to be hit with. When I first looked over this list and got to number 21 my reaction upon reading it was: "That's entirely understandable!"

List source: Human Growth Foundation metabolic rate"

Cash for Clunkers Has Some People Upset

As you may have heard--or if you're like me, had not heard--the U.S. government is considering several programs that offer people money for their old cars. There is already a program along these lines in California that pays you cash for turning in an old polluting car.

Oddly enough, when I lived in California I passed off my old polluting car to the authorities by parking it illegally, repeatedly, because there was nowhere legal to park. Then I went out of town on business one time and found it gone when I returned. The city kept the vehicle in payment for the fines, which suited me fine.

But apparently this cash-for-clunkers talk has upset some people, such as those who collect old cars and some car bloggers. So now we have anti-C4C folks name calling people who have reported it fairly objectively, like John Voelcker at GreenCarReports.com.

In a rare case of me admitting that I just don't know enough to render an authoritative opinion, I'm going to sit out the C4C debate. However, I will throw a question into the ring: What happens to the flow of used vehicles to Africa? I was told by a "used car industry insider" in Florida that a lot of used cars that don't fetch money at auction are shipped to Africa. I had assumed they went there to be fixed up and driven. But maybe they go to be buried. It wouldn't be the first time we have dumped our inconvenient waste in poor countries. Hopefully any C4C program the government executes will include an environmentally sound end-of-line process.

Hybrids Decline as Diesels Pop? Google Trends paint interesting picture

Figured I would check out the new Google Trend gizmo which lets you chart search trends. You can adjust the terms and the time frame. I found that a one year view from the US perspective shows "hybrid" declined rapidly as fuel prices eased (or family budgets tightened).

National Train Day: Saturday, May 9!

That's right, May 9 is National Train Day in America. Amtrak gets high marks for the marketing campaign on this one.

I really like the idea of getting people excited about train travel and several angles are being played in this one campaign. There is an appeal to "Trainiacs" but also to families and executive travelers.

If only more people would get behind the idea that investing in trains is an investment in the future. Think of all the jet fuel emissions we could save with high speed inter-city links. Not to mention the productivity gains--it is so much easier to work on a train than a plane. (Assuming Amtrak or whomever installs broadband--it is not hard to do guys--if they can do it on buses between Philly and Manhattan you can do it on trains.)

Anyway, check the site and you will find links ot all sorts of train-related events around the country this weekend.