Tech + Lifestyle

games, gear, and googleplexes (joke)

Life Lessons With Brian: In Which I Teach China About The Internet

Alright China, we need to talk. No, not that talk. Judging by your population, you already know plenty about the birds and the bees. We need to have the internet talk.

You’ve been restricting my access to the internet since I got here on February 23rd. WordPress was blocked, for starters. Then a few weeks later, YouTube is inexplicably unavailable. It’s been that way for four months, China. How am I supposed to watch videos of ninja kitties or waterskiing squirrels if I can’t use YouTube? Then there was Twitter, Flickr, Hotmail, and briefly, Google. Then the most recent batch was unblocked, only for you to block Twitter again yesterday, and Facebook today. What gives? ***Update: The recent Twitter and Facebook blocks are due to riots in the Xinjiang region; current counts indicate at least 156 killed, 800 injured, and over 1,400 arrested.***

Facebook is currently blocked.

Facebook is currently blocked...

...and so is Twitter

...and so is Twitter

Continue reading


July 7, 2009 Posted by | Humor, Politics, Tech | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Giving In to the Dark Side: Bandwidth-Capping, Part I

Time Warner Cable (TWC from hereon) has never exactly been a stellar internet service provider, but they haven’t been particularly bad, either – at least, not until recently. TWC has been experimenting with bandwidth caps in Beaumont, Texas, and has decided to roll out these caps in other markets. Not even Beaumont, sad little town that it is, really deserves such restrictions, and certainly not the markets that TWC plans to pull the switch on. San Antonio, my home town when not in college, is among those being drastically limited. If you aren’t aware, here are the plans that TWC currently offers:

Roadrunner Lite: 768 Kbps down, 128 Kbps up, unlimited usage, $24.99/month

Roadrunner Basic: 3.0 Mbps down, 256 Kbps up, unlimited usage, $34.99/month

Roadrunner Standard: 7 Mbps down, 512 Kbps up, unlimited usage, $39.99/month

Roadrunner Turbo: 15 Mbps down, 2 Mpbs up, unlimited usage, $49.98/month

…and here are the changes that will be implemented:

Roadrunner Lite: 768 Kbps down, 128 Kbps up, capped to 10 Gigs, $24.99/month

Roadrunner Basic: 3.0 Mbps down, 256 Kpbs up, capped to 20 Gigs, $34.99/month

Roadrunner Standard: 7 Mbps down, 512 Kbps up, capped to 40 Gigs, $39.99/month

Roadrunner Turbo: 15 Mbps down, 2 Mbps up, capped to 60 Gigs, $49.98/month

In case you didn’t notice the change Continue reading

April 14, 2009 Posted by | Politics, Tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Live from China: Tech+Lifestyle Is Back

Hong Kong Intl Airport

Hong Kong Int'l Airport

The past two weeks have been interesting, to say the least. I’ve been in China since February 23rd, experiencing all sorts of new stuff. Being the nerd that I am, one of the very first things I attempted upon getting here was to get online – my laptop’s battery had given out at the Hong Kong International Airport, and my iPod Touch gave up the ghost not long after.

I was somewhat dismayed to find a complete lack of Wifi here – none in my dorm, or anywhere else on campus, for that matter. I’ve got a single ethernet connection in my room, which I’m obligated to share with my roommate until I can find a cheap switch to use. Even with a wired connection, though, I wasn’t immediately able to get online. For some reason, my MacBook absolutely refused to yield internet access. I endured a week of no access in my room except for two occasions when I borrowed my suite-mate’s computer to check email, and once when I went to a shady internet cafe for a couple of hours. Continue reading

March 8, 2009 Posted by | Personal, Politics, Tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Should NASA be Militarized?

According to this DailyTech article (contents posted below), President-elect Obama is considering a militarization of the US space program in order to solve NASA’s funding woes. Check it out:

Ares I

Artist's rendering: Ares I

If Ares I development isn’t as far as long as Obama likes, it could be possible NASA will use military funds for future technology development

President-elect Barack Obama, once he takes office later this month, could remove the barriers between the US Department of Defense (DoD) and NASA, in an effort to help the U.S. space agency better compete with Russia and China.

The most important task for NASA is to build a new rocket capable of carrying Orion to the International Space Station (ISS), with a future mission to the moon likely.  The U.S. space agency originally planned to have the Ares I rocket take Orion into space, but President-elect Obama wants to try and get Orion into the air as soon as possible.

“The Obama administration will have all those issues on the table,” former President Bill Clinton’s space adviser Neal Lane told Bloomberg.  “The foreign affairs and national security implications have to be considered.”

The current generation of space shuttles will be retired next year, and there will be a five-year gap between the shuttle retirement and the scheduled release of Orion.  Ares I completed its first preliminary design review last year, with Boeing and Alliant Techsystems prepared for a first launch in 2015. Continue reading

January 6, 2009 Posted by | News, Politics, Tech | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

(Wise)crack of the Day

While reading the DailyTech article “Report: Obama May Militarize Space Program“, I noticed the following exchange in the comments section:

Reclaimer77: Do you believe Obama gives jack crap about military applications ??

Mdogs444: No. I think he wants a satellite that can emit rays of happiness while we all hold hands and sing songs about world peace.

I don’t care who you are, that’s classic.

January 6, 2009 Posted by | News, Politics, Tech | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog Action Day

Everybody listen up!

Wednesday – as in this Wednesday – is Blog Action Day. Each year, the kind folks at choose a topic and ask everyone to write about it. The theory is that creating a massive, world-wide discussion on  a single issue has the potential to bring about great change.

This year’s topic is poverty. Toward that regard, I’d like to encourage everyone to write a post on Wednesday discussing ways in which we can reduce or even eliminate poverty, on regional, national, and international levels.

Don’t ever underestimate the impact you can have on others. The post you write on Wednesday just might change the world. 😉

October 13, 2008 Posted by | News, Personal, Politics | , | Leave a comment

Christmas on Mars

Check out the trailer for Christmas on Mars, by the Flaming Lips:

I’m excited, and you should be, too.

October 9, 2008 Posted by | Music, Politics | , | 1 Comment

The Dark Bailout

Not too shabby.

Also, no more posts until Monday, as I’m going to Austin, Texas for the Austin City Limits music festival. Plenty of photos will be taken, music heard and subsequently purchased, and eventually posts made. I’m fairly excited, and by ‘fairly’ I mean extremely.

September 26, 2008 Posted by | Personal, Politics | , , , , , | Leave a comment

61 Nobel Laureates Back Obama

Sixty-one Nobel Prize winners came together and issued an open letter to the public announcing their official support for presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama. Basically, they have been disappointed (although that’s putting it lightly) by the current administration’s treatment of science – the vast reductions in funding, deliberate misrepresentation of facts in order to further their agenda, etc etc etc. Below is the original text of the letter, and here’s the link at which the pdf can be found. Continue reading

September 26, 2008 Posted by | News, Politics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Letterman Gives McCain the Verbal Beatdown

I really don’t need to preface this, Letterman pretty much covers everything. Video after the jump. Continue reading

September 26, 2008 Posted by | Politics | , , | Leave a comment