Provo doesn’t know where its fiber is, Google makes city spend $500,000 to find it.
On Tuesday, the Provo city council formally approved the transfer of its iProvo fiber network to Google, making the city the third metro area to gain that sweet, sweet gigabit service. Google is only paying $1 for the network, but in return it will have to provide a “basic 5-megabit” connection to all residents for seven years and provide free gigabit service to 25 public institutions.
As it turns out, though, it’s not such a good deal as it might seem. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Provo Mayor John Curtis also revealed Tuesday that the city now owes a total of an additional $1.7 million to keep those fiber-optic lights on.
The city must also pay “about $500,000 to a civil engineering firm to determine exactly where the fiber optic cables are buried, a requirement by Google,” the Tribune reported. “Curtis admitted that the construction company that installed the fiber cables underground did not keep records of where they buried all of them.”
One part of this story in particular grabbed my attention because of Google’s recently announced plans to bring fiber to Austin:
As we reported previously, Provo taxpayers are still on the hook to pay off the city’s $39 million bond that was used to fund the network’s construction—the city still collectively owes $3.3 million in payments in the next 12 years.
If Google wants to be an honest business and make an investment in fiber infrastructure here in Austin, followed by charging people money to use it, great! But if they’re expecting the city government to steal money to pay them to do business here, then thanks but no thanks.
It’s official: Google Fiber is coming to Austin “by mid-2014”.
Just days after Google sent out a sneaky little announcement inviting the press to the Texas capital, the company has now confirmed what we’d all long suspected. Austin is slated to receive the gigabit speed of Google Fiber “by mid-2014,” with a “similar choice of products as our customers in Kansas City,” priced at “roughly similar to Kansas City.”
Google has been reticent to say what its broader plans are for bringing Google Fiber to other communities around the US—on Monday, two Wall Street analysts concluded that Google likely wouldn’t bring it to the rest of the country.
Currently, in the Kansas City area, the service comes in three options: a $120 per month package (which includes TV-over-IP and a DVR to go along with it), a $70 per month package (same gigabit speed, minus the TV), and an option to get your house “Google Fiber”-ready at a one-time construction cost of $300 (which can be split up over 12 months)—that will bring 5Mbps, for free, over seven years.
There’s no mention of where, exactly, they’re going to be installing it. If it comes to my neighborhood I’ll certainly pay for the $70 package.
I came across this amusing paragraph in the Diablo II entry on Wikipedia:
The “Secret Cow Level” is the result of a running joke from the original Diablo that spawned from an Internet rumor about the cows that appear in the game, seemingly without purpose. Supposedly, if the cow was clicked a certain number of times, a portal to a secret level would open. The rumor turned out to be a hoax, but the legend was born, and player after player asked Blizzard about how to access the level.
Long ago I worked for Blizzard Entertainment doing QA, and the product I spent the most time testing was the Mac port of Diablo. At one point I found a bug where the terrain tiles would be missing, leaving a pattern of white lines on a black background where the tiles should have been. I’ve long since forgotten exactly how I made it happen, but as I recall it was easy to reproduce and did involve a portal. By the time I found this bug the PC version of Diablo had already been out for months and the Internet rumors about a “secret cow level” were a source of much amusement (because we knew there wasn’t one).
When I found this bug, the black and white pattern reminded me a bit of a cow’s fur, so I wrote the bug up with the description “secret cow level” as a nod to the rumor. Of course it was fixed before the game shipped, and I’m pretty sure that only four people ever saw it (including me). So there you have it–the true story of Mac Diablo’s secret cow level.
Fingerprint Purchasing Technology Ensures Buyer Has a Pulse. An anonymous reader writes “A small U.S. university has come up with a novel solution to reduce the possibility of using a dead person’s hand to get past a fingerprint scanner through the use of hemoglobin detection. The device quickly checks the fingerprint and hemoglobin ‘non-intrusively’ to verify the identity and whether the individual is alive. This field of research is called Biocryptology and seeks to ensure that biometric security devices can’t be easily bypassed.“[Search Slashdot]
This is a good idea. Some years ago I had a Windows laptop I used for work which had a fingerprint reader that could be used in place of the standard password login, but I never used it. I figured that if someone managed to steal my laptop, I didn’t want to give them a reason to steal my finger as well.
Since I bought my first iPad I’ve tried a number of different simple writing apps,but none of them have lasted as they were all too limited in what you could do with what you’d written.I finally came across an app called Drafts, which lets you export what you’ve written to anything. There are even dozens of export options for apps I don’t even have (turned off by default to avoid clutter). Now I can write a blog post using Markdown, send it as HTML to the clipboard,and paste it into the WordPress app, which is how I wrote this post.
I’ve been reading many good things about an iPad app called Paper, so I decided to give it a try using my iPad 3 and a pressure sensitive stylus. It’s a very well thought out drawing app, and while I’m totally lacking in artistic ability I do sometimes need to make diagrams and other simple drawings for work. Paper comes with a “fountain pen” tool, which emulates the flexible nibs that fountain pens used to have before the widespread use of copy paper. I found it to be very difficult to use:
Paper’s fountain pen tool
I don’t have a real fountain pen with a flexible nib for comparison, so I used one with an italic nib instead:
Actual fountain pen
I’ve gone back to the previous WordPress theme, which is called Ahimsa.
Recently I’ve been seeing a lot of talk about a new game Google is developing for Android, called Ingress. I’ve noticed that so far nobody seems to have noticed an unintended (presumably) consequence of the game: people playing it will be traveling around to libraries, post offices, courthouses, fire stations, monuments, and the like, standing around for several minutes, and then moving on to another location in a seemingly random pattern.
What the people writing about Ingress as a game seem to have missed is that it’s fairly well known by people who pay attention that the government tracks everyone’s movements using the location data from their cell phone services. The strange and erratic movements of Ingress players are bound to drive the secret policemen responsible for such spying berserk, which I consider to be a huge benefit. I’m considering getting a Nexus 7 just so I can help confuse Big Brother.
I’m trying out the Twenty Twelve theme that came with the WordPress 3.5 update.
Side note: “If you don’t, I’ll poison your dinner” is a compelling argument for a feature request, but can typically only be used once.
BBEdit 10.5 Release Notes