Could blockchain fix broken Internet?

A day doesn’t pass that I don’t see half a dozen articles about some new use for distributed ledger technology (Blockchain). Some interesting ideas in a short piece from Fortune:

“If we were to design the Internet all over again, it’s a good bet we wouldn’t build what we have today: A giant advertising oligopoly where consumers trade privacy for free services, and which is so insecure that hackers and criminals run wild.”

One idea for ‘fixing’ the Internet comes from a company called Blockstack:

“Blockstack is building a new type of Internet browser using the distributed ledger software known as blockchain. The idea is that people will no longer have to supply log-in information to the likes of Facebook and Google to interact with others on the web. Instead, they’ll keep control of their identity by using blockchain’s authentication features.”

Portable cassette recorders

Came across this old photo (circa 1988) today and was — once again — struck by the gear we used. This is Lisa Wolfe, a reporter for The Missourinet.

The Radio Shack recorder is jacked into the Shure mixer which is wired into the big cart deck and the phone. So a reporter recorded audio from the phone (with a push-to-talk button in the hand piece); they then dubbed the audio bits they wanted to carts which they carried into the studio for newscasts. When they went into the field they unplugged the cassette recorder.

There were better recorders available but they were all much more expensive than the Radio Shack model which was damn near disposable. The problem was the buttons. Using the recorders as the did (endlessly starting, stopping, fast-forwarding, rewinding) trashed the buttons in no time.

The early SuperScopes (by Marantz) were good but every time they came out with a new model with more features, the buttons got flimsier and flimsier. And the recorders got more and more expensive. And they were nearly impossible to repair. So… Radio Shack.

Thinking back on those days, it occurs to me the cassette recorder was — in some ways — the laptop computer of that day. In the sense that it was our main tool for creating the content of the day (for us): audio.

Of course you needed a radio station or (in our case) a network of radio stations. But we sort of took that for granted.

Bringing the Land Rover Defender back?

“British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe hopes to resurrect the iconic Land Rover Defender (that’s no longer in production). The goal is to develop a vehicle like the Defender minus shortcomings such as poor drivability and outdated emissions and safety standards, and have it ready in the next two to three years. […] The company is hoping to build between 15,000 and 20,000 units annually. It’s too early to talk pricing but Ineos has hinted at a starting price of less than $65,000.”

Nope. Wouldn’t be the same (for me).

Travelers

“Thousands of special operatives, sent back in time from the future, are tasked with preventing the collapse of society. These operatives, known as “travelers”, take over the body of a 21st century individual via a “transfer of consciousness”; to minimize impact on the timeline, it is performed moments before the person’s “recorded time of death”. The transfer requires the exact location of the target; smartphones and GPS have made this possible only from the early 21st century onward. Prepared using social media and public records concerning their targets, small teams of travelers must maintain their hosts’ pre-existing lives as cover while carrying out missions, dictated by their “Director” in the future, aimed at saving the world from a series of catastrophic events. The Director communicates with travelers via pre-pubescent children used as “messengers”; unlike adults, any child can safely be taken over for a few minutes and then released from control. The show focuses on one team of five travelers, starting from their transfers of consciousness. As the series progresses, changes in the present make significantly unanticipated changes in the future.” (Wikipedia)

Will demand for oil plummet?

It would be like a game of Risk that’s been going on for three days and your three-year-old comes in and gleefully turns the board over. [CNBC]

RethinkX co-founder and Stanford University economist and professor Tony Seba told CNBC’s Street Signs that the rise of self-drive cars will see oil demand plummet, the price of oil drop to $25 a barrel, and oil producers left without the political or financial capital they have today.

“He says we are not going to stop driving altogether, just switch to self-drive electric vehicles, which will become a much larger part of the sharing economy. And these electric vehicles are going to cost less to both buy and run. […] There will be no more petrol or diesel cars, buses and trucks sold anywhere in the world within 8 years. Which also means no more car dealers by 2024.”

“China wants to get electric, plug-in hybrids and fuel cell cars to account for 20 per cent of all auto sales by 2025, while India aims to electrify all vehicles in the country by 2032.”