Chris J Powell

Amazons new Kindle Browser, Cyber Rats in the Israel and US Cable gets Unbundled

It has been a rather strange week overall.  This week’s Rant looks first to the brand new Kindle Fire and its revolutionary Cloud Based Browser called Silk.  I watched the demo video of it and I was intrigued by the radical shift ind design principles for the ground up redesign that brings desktop page load spreads to mobile devices.

Now the biggest change that Silk brings to the table is the fact that it will connect to the massive computing power housed in Amazon’s EC2 cloud so that the Silk Browser will actually split the processing requirements between the Cloud and the new Kindle Fire.  Conversion from those Massive family photos into a manageable level on the kindle device that because of resolution constraints will see no real difference.  The other borderline creepy feature is the fact that the EC2 caching system will do some predictive browsing and will preload the assumed next site.  In the video they describe it as “Visitors to the NY Times website tend to navigate next to the Business Section, so what we do is preload that for you to increase the speed for you”.


I do have one request to the Architects at Amazon…share please.   I would gladly pay for a browser of this quality on both my iPad and my Android phone and coming from a guy who has not paid for software directly for 10 years (until I got my iPad that is) is a big deal!  The price is right and when the Kindle Fire becomes available here in Canada I think I just might shell out the $199.


Cyber Rats


I came across an interesting article that reminds me of my youth playing RPGs with my friends.  For those under 30 that is not the MMORPG of today but the world of vivid imaginations and pen and paper characters sheets like Dungeons and Dragons, Cyberpunk 2020 and others.  In the world of Cyberpunk, man has become intimately intertwined with technology looking at the replacementand enhancement of biological functions with “Cyber Technology”.  When I saw this article from the Daily Mail in the UK I couldn’t help but getting nostalgic about our future here as the human race.

Now a team of “psychobiologists” lead my Matti Mintz at the Tel Aviv University in Israel have effectively replaced a rats cerebellum with a computer chip.  Remotely the team was able to “teach” the rat to blink by using a sound and a puff of air on the eye that was not possible without the chip.  This breakthrough in connections will have profound implications in the field of both neurobiology but also have several less humanitarian implications.


First what is the benefit of the new tech to humanity…rehabilitation for brain injury and brain diseases.  The leveraging of this new “self repair function” could be coupled with genetic manipulation and stem cell-based research to promote neuronal recovery.  This furthers the connection to deep brain stimulation success with both Parkinsons and OCD symptoms around the world.  The article goes into great length describing the benefits and potential “rewiring of the human brain”.

Now what actually has me more than a little scared are the not so humanitarian implications.  The military could leverage this technology to rapidly “train” a new batch of super soldiers…didn’t anybody see Universal Soldier?  But even worse, imagine Al Queda or the next generation of International Terrorist or even National Spies that have been implanted with a “mind control device” that turns them into the ultimate sleeper agent.  It would take the news interviews with neighbors to a whole new level when they say “He was such a quiet man, I just can’t believe he could do such a thing”.


US Cable gets Unbundled


Well South of the Border it would appear that someone has been listening to the cry of the consumer about the out of control increases in pricing of our rights to digital media through the boob tube and local cable providers.  In a recently released report from Reuters that cable executives are negotiating with content providers and seeking some regulatory relief in order to create smaller more cost manageable cable bundles for all of us.  Now this is a really good thing.  I just recently returned to the world of Cable TV after living with Rabbit Ears and online content for nearly 6 years and while there are some great shows…channel surfing has become a chore (thank goodness for my Zap2It TVGuide app on my iPad).

This is great for me as I really like some reality TV shows that are out on specialty networks like A&E but I don’t need the 20 additional channels that come with that bundle as we really only flip between about 10 -15 stations over and over again yet we pay for the opportunity to access 200+ channels…and unfortunately we can only get 9 of the 15 channels if we subscribe to the 200+.


I hope that Rogers here in Canada stands up and takes notice of their colleagues South of the Border.  I like cable but give me choices!


Well that is it for me, as always a pleasure.




Chris J Powell


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