Turkey in a tent: why does anybody still do Black Friday shopping offline?

Each year in the ramp-up to Black Friday, err… Thanksgiving, it seems more and more like the actual spirit of the holiday season, not just the marketing pitch, is about shopping. After speaking with the other editors, we’re almost surprised that Obama, in his Thanksgiving address, didn’t mention checking circulars as part of his routine. And as the holiday season becomes increasingly commercialized, and as it becomes more acceptable to eat your turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes inside of a tent beside the entrance to Best Buy, people seem to be responding in three ways. Some will of course embrace this commercialization (I’m not sure whether they want to expedite the unraveling of the traditional “holiday” spirit due to cynicism, or if they don’t notice it happening due to naïveté), others will reel in disgust, and some will straddle both sides, by spending as much time with family as possible while doing most of their shopping online.

Read the rest of this entry »

No Comments

Technological leapfrogging in the developing world… with some caveats

Spending the past month and a half working in Trinidad has taught me much about the state of technology in emerging markets. I’ve found it particularly interesting that WiMax has rolled out to vast areas untouched by wired broadband. Even in the bank branches where I’ve been working, WiFi is often connected to a 4G backend (though strangely the ethernet does go through wires all the way to the ISP). In the US, we’re at least a year behind in this sweeping 4G penetration that BMobile currently has in Trinidad and Tobago and which seems to support a whole lot of business.

But not everything is so rosy. The smartphones people typically carry are older Blackberries; the money simply isn’t there to fund the expensive Android and iOS handsets that we know and love back in the states. It’s a matter of figuring out what’s cheap and scalable in an era where more technology is available at the time of an initial rollout. It’s interesting to muse about what the US might look like if we hadn’t built our network until five or ten years ago.

No Comments

When money is no object

Forgive me if this sounds antithetical to the entire purpose of our great webzine, but I believe I’ve stumbled onto something in my expensed international travels.  This occurred to me when I noticed myself picking up the hotel phone and simply dialing out at $2/minute.  I could have used Google Voice, which would be free. But that would require heavier lifting and might result in poor voice quality. So screw it — it’s not my money, I’ll just use what’s easy and familiar.

When people have more money to spend on communicating, they’re not doing it by any terribly innovative method. Rather, they’re falling back to age-old methods that have gotten relatively more expensive, such as landlines. It’s those with less money for whom technology has been particularly useful; services like Google Voice or Skype allow them to make phone calls for free using their computers.

And that is the extent to which technological innovations have done more to bring previously expensive forms of communication into the mainstream than they have to expand the forms of communication available at the top-end. I imagine that if there were more useful but costlier forms of communication, I would use them (more Starpoints!), but until then, I’ll rely on whatever gets the job done with the least effort.

No Comments

Catching up from where we left off… and where do we go from here?

Since we last posted a year ago, much has happened in the tech industry. We left you more than one year ago, in late spring of 2010. Sprint’s Evo 4G was poised to release alongside the iPhone 4, bringing 4G to the masses. Windows Phone 7 wasn’t yet a contender (and Nokia had not yet experienced whatever sort of renaissance has come of late). Palm still existed subsisted, and HP hadn’t yet run itself into the ground. Tablets… my goodness, they were just landing in stores, and those lucky few with iPads were the envy of their friends and family. Ultrabooks and other extremely slim laptops were nowhere to be found.  More importantly (just kidding, the evolutions and revolutions within the tech industry trump all) I was still a student!

Read the rest of this entry »

No Comments

Streamlined Metal Objects: The Real Way To Stop The Oil Spill In The Gulf

For the life of Arteculate, we’ve been writing mostly about technological goings-on in the realm of consumer electronics.  But clearly society and technology have a relationship that goes far outside of this small little space, and that’s why we’re posting today after a long hiatus.

The oil spill in the Gulf, albeit mired as much in human failures as it is in technological ones, is the kind of disaster that we can’t help but write about.  And if there’s anything that makes us want to devote our attention to the unprecedented environmental disaster that is the oil spill, it’s an extremely logical solution to the problem that has just been posed by a leading physicist, Dr. Louis Bloomfield of the University of Virginia.

His plan is simple, yet his tactics novel:  put a clog in the well that the oil pressure cannot force out.  To do it, he proposes sending down extremely dense metal rods, rods which will flow through the rising oil “like a knife through butter.”  Keep layering these rods on top of one another for mile after mile until the oil is limited to a small trickle, and the problem is solved.  Honestly, our words do not do his plan justice, and thankfully Dr. Bloomfield has created a video in which he explains via an experiment just how his solution works.

Dr. Louis Bloomfield’s expertise has been sought many times in the past; he has been on the news numerous times, answering such questions as whether a penny dropped off the Empire State Building could kill a bystander or why liquids in Pyrex containers could explode after being microwaved and then agitated. Recently he costarred in Discovery’s “Some Assembly Required,” and he has also written a book, How Things Work: The Physics of Everyday Life.

No Comments

The Case for a Municipal 4G Network

We live in a connected world, one in which the lower the connection costs and latency, and the greater the bandwidth and mobility, the better.  As users desire further optimization of all four of these characteristics due to increases in data consumption, existing solutions to the last mile problem (the final leg of transmitting data from the communications provider to the consumer) must be reexamined.  Currently, telephone lines, cable, and fiber-to-the-home compose nearly the entire spread of last mile infrastructure options available within the United States.  Yet each poses a number of limitations that make it difficult or impossible to achieve the kind of data consumption that users will require going forward.  Telephone lines, while reaching nearly all United States residences, are a noisy environment that cannot carry the hundreds of megabits per second that other solutions are capable of transmitting[1].  They also suffer from relatively high latencies.  Cable and fiber-to-the-home offer very high bandwidth and low latency but a high fixed cost per user, as each individual residence must be wired up, requiring excessive amounts of labor and resources to be expended for any single connection[2].  All three of these solutions offer very limited mobility, as even attaching a wireless router to a home modem can only provide a few hundred feet of freedom at most.  Thankfully, a new technology that goes by the trade names of WiMAX and LTE but is more broadly known as fourth-generation wireless (or 4G) is reaching maturity and hopes to solve all of the major problems inherent to current systems; 4G mates the low cost of digital subscriber lines with the high bandwidth and low latency of cable and fiber-to-the-home solutions.  Moreover, when deployed across a wide area, 4G can provide the kind of mobility that consumers are used to experiencing with their cellular phones.  In short, if every United States citizen is to have always-on access to cheap, low-latency, high-bandwidth broadband, then it is 4G, and not DSL, cable, or fiber-to-the-home, that can get the job done.

Read the rest of this entry »

No Comments

Stay Tuned, Folks!

It’s that time of the year again: finals! Our writers are working hard keeping their grades up, and unfortunately that means less time to provide you, our readers, with the love and affection you deserve. But don’t lose hope so fast! This torturous time will end soon enough, and that means we’ll be back and posting more frequently than ever!

Stay tuned for coverage of topics like the new content-aware selection in Photoshop CS5 and an extremely in-depth article about the benefits of 4G wireless tentatively titled “Why we should soon be ditching DSL, Cable, and Fiber in favor of our new wireless overlords.”

As always, if there’s anything in particular that you’re interested in reading or writing about, send a note to our editors. Thanks for staying with us, and we look forward to providing you with the best coverage that our withering bodies can offer!

Update:  If you somehow managed to miss it, right above is the promised article about the benefits of 4G.  Clearly 6000 words is more than the normal Arteculate post; however, it’s quite in line with the desired length of one our writer’s term papers.  We urge you to go grab your favorite beverage and a nice healthy snack and enjoy the proposal.   Our consent to even post the article is a compliment of the highest order.  Aaron, well done.

No Comments

A Troubled Calculus: Why Accelerating Product Development Overwhelms the Consumer

The rate of technological development is accelerating, not only in the number of product categories that exist, but also in the number of products within each category.  Arteculate’s staff are avid readers of tech blogs (it’s a requirement for all our writers – our own version of Matlab, for those of you who may have been rejected from engineering internships), and we know that a few years ago, a new line of laptops or a new digital camera was big news.  Now those sorts of announcements are like background noise; they happen so frequently that almost nobody cares.  They’re also drowned out by the dearth of new products in other product categories that didn’t exist a few years ago.  So what we have now is so many individual product releases that it’s difficult to keep track of anything.  Even if a product has some revolutionary aspects that used to prompt lengthy analysis, unless it has massive appeal (think about the iPad or the Kindle), it’s not going to have its day in the sun.  Moreover, the products that get most of the attention are either in new product categories or those that undergo rapid change, so products that only see incremental improvement, like laptops, don’t get much mindshare.

Read the rest of this entry »

1 Comment

How Ads Influence Content, or Why Selling Structured Settlements Makes Arteculate Rich

Now that Arteculate has gotten off the ground (and in quite a hurry since our Tuesday launch, might we add), we wanted to highlight one factor that allows websites like ours to thrive in the internet economy.  No, we weren’t referring to our unparalleled insight and incomparable discourse (though we do hear that “content is king”), but rather to the easy-to-implement yet highly-targeted advertising that supports the kind of writing we love to do.  To really explain the importance of contextual advertising, it’s worth creating a running example throughout this article.  So periodically today, we’ll be discussing structured settlements.  While you might not be interested in selling any structured settlements, trust us that this is the perfect example for the article.  And if you’re now wondering why providing information about selling structured settlements – those lump sum payments you may opt to receive if you win the lottery — can be a website’s best friend, read on after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

2 Comments

The New, Free(er) Wireless Economy, Now With 4G!

We’re on the brink of an entirely new era in the history of the wireless industry, but to understand where we are, it’s important to know something about how we’ve gotten there.  So today at Arteculate, we’re going to start you off with a couple hundred words of history.  If you don’t want to bother with that and prefer to skip to our expert speculation, read the last two paragraphs after the jump. We’ll even be so nice as to include a little teaser video right here:

Read the rest of this entry »

No Comments

  • Advertisements