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The Washington Post followed the trail of Comcast’s campaign donations in the Seattle mayoral race and discovered that the ISP was backing the challenger to the current mayor who helped bring gigabit broadband to the city. The current mayor Mike McGinn has been a big proponent of bringing ultrafast broadband to Seattle, and in 2014 certain areas of Seattle are set to get gigabit broadband for $80 thanks to a pilot between the city and Gigabit Squared. I suppose that backing a rival that might not be as gung-ho for a gigabit is probably cheaper than laying fiber.

In Brief

Want to see the zany world of FCC enforcement? Check out this tale of recalcitrant hair salon owner Ronald Bethany, his interference-producing fluorescent lights and AT&T’s affected 700 MHz spectrum. After AT&T noticed interference near a San Antonio strip mall an engineer tracked it down to some lights hanging in Bethany’s salon. Bethany contacted GE over the offending lights and GE offered to replace them. But Bethany wanted cash instead. Now the FCC is involved to force the light replacement. I guess Bethany has a Verizon phone.

In Brief

For the last few years Intel has had a small line of business manufacturing other companies’ chips — mostly expensive custom chips for companies like Altera and Tabula. This foundry business is getting a publicity boost today as Altera said Intel will let it embed ARM-based cores in chips made on Intel’s hallowed x86 production lines. This is a big deal, not because ARM is Kryptonite to Intel, but because it could signal that Intel under its new CEO is ready to open its fab operations and make that a bigger part of its business. That’s the huge shift for Intel, not that it might make a few ARM-based chips.

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In Brief

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My morning chuckle came from this irritated post over at BusinessWeek, where Drake Bennett complains that everything automated isn’t a robot. His attempt to get to the bottom of the robot-labeling craze lays the blame on the internet of things, the human tendency to anthropomorphize things and a lack of a clear definition for robots. Basically robots can sense their environment and then affect that environment, but as humans we tend to see any automated thing rolling around and declare it a robot. This irks Bennet. Maybe he’ll write a diatribe against the misuse of the word hacker next.

In Brief

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We all should probably drink more water. I know that when I track my consumption, I’m barely getting 32 ounces, nowhere near the recommended amount. Sure there are bottles like this one, where you can just flick a counter mechanism to track consumption, or you can log it via an app, but I always forget. That’s why this Kickstarter for connected water bottle with an accelerometer and weight sensor caught my eye. At $70 this is pricey, but I love the automated water tracking. And hopefully over time, that price goes down.

In Brief

Most hard drives store data using magnetic properties, but unfortunately those are only good for about 10 years. This might be great for your status updates, but if you’re storing photos or government documents, your best bet for a long-term future might be archival paper (or stone and a chisel). But MIT Tech Review reports that scientists have figured a way to etch data onto sheets of tungsten and silicon nitride in the form of QR codes to store data for the theoretical long term — like a million years. Whether or not we’ll have software to decode it then is another problem altogether.

In Brief

Underdog chip company AMD reported a profit during its third quarter financial results in part because the Sony PlayStation 4 and the Microsoft Xbox One consoles carrying its chips are getting ready to hit shelves. The highly-anticipated consoles contain custom-built AMD chips from a new group inside AMD, the Embedded and Custom Semi group. AMD estimates that group will generate a fifth of its sales this year, and apparently is already improving the bottom line.

In Brief

Intel joins other major companies such as GE and Qualcomm in promoting a platform for the internet of things. The chip giant says that it will offer a Wind River-based IoT platform and detailed several ways that its own use of sensors and data analytics have saved it money on the manufacturing floor. It plans on pushing both Atom and Quark processors for this platform and offered details on the upcoming Quark family of processors as well as a new Atom SoC. The first Quark processor core is a 32-bit, single core, single-thread, Pentium-compatible CPU operating at speeds up to 400MHz.

In Brief

With the looming threat of not-one, but two, gigabit networks planned for Austin, Texas, Time Warner Cable has announced that it has blanketed the city in Wi-Fi with 900 hot spots. The plan is to grow that number to 1,350 hotspots and offer the network free to subscribers. This could be savvy marketing because it’s likely that Google and AT&T will deploy their networks in limited areas, which means that those without a gigabit option choose Time Warner over the existing AT&T service. Of course, it’s possible that Google or At&T could sweeten the pot with Wi-Fi access too.

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