Dangers of 5G. Thousands of satellites. Radio controlled birds. Smartphones spying on us. Steampunk Commodore 64. The perils of public USB ports. And much, much more.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the firehose of information that is constantly hitting me in the face. Since I don’t see any reason I should suffer alone, I thought I’d share at least some of the flow here, so below is a random mishmash of “stuff” for you to peruse and ponder.
Did you see my recent column on EEJournal.com — 5G Meets 50,000 Fans at Super Bowl 2025 — in which we considered the sort of infrastructure that will be required to deploy 5G in the not-so-distant future (click here to see all my columns on EEJournal.com)? Well, it’s rare that a day goes by without my chum Jay Dowling sharing something interesting he’s run across on the internet, and one such thing is an article that questions the safety of 5G. I must admit that the thought of holding a 60 GHz transmitter close to my ear doesn’t instill a great deal of joy.
On a more cheerful note, Jay also pointed me at this video by Scott Manley who notes that there are over ten thousand satellites in orbit, but only the largest ones in low earth orbit are visible in the hours just after sunset. Scott then poses the question — what would the sky look like if you could see everything in space? So, he took a took satellite data and rendered a view of the night sky for an ‘average’ viewer in North America (note that you can use the controls in the top left-hand corner to manipulate your viewpoint).
The last one from Jay that we’ll consider in this blog is this video of a radio controlled (RC) ornithopter that flies like a bird. The early parts of the video provide a peek into the design and construction of this bird-like beauty, but it’s when it starts to fly at time 2:50 that you say “Wow!” to yourself.
Another downer came from my chum Charles Pfeil, who pointed me at this video of Edward Snowdon explaining how our cell phones can be used to spy on us.
In a somewhat related vein, my wife (Gina the Gorgeous) emailed me a link to an article that tells us why we should Stop Using Public USB Ports to Charge Our Smartphones.
The problem — which is known as “juice-jacking” — is that there is a potential for public USB ports to be hacked such that when you plug your phone in, they can install data-stealing malware. The solutions are to (a) use a wall wart power supply plugged into an AC outlet to charge your phone, (b) use a charge-only (no data) cable, or (c) use a data-blocker adapter to convert your standard cable to charge-only.
As an aside, I constantly receive emails from readers asking to see a picture of Gina because they’ve heard me talk about her so much over the years. I know she’s going to be displeased if she hears I posted a photo (so don’t mention it to her), but here’s one that was taken just a couple of weeks ago. The guy in the next office — we’ll call him Bob (because that’s his name) — just popped in for something. When I told him what I was doing, he said, “No one is going to believe that beautiful woman is your wife.” I also remember that, when Gina and I got married, all my friends told me to make sure she never got her eyes tested. Now I’m wondering if people are trying to tell me something, but we digress…
As you may recall, it was my chum James “Chewy” Vroman who originally alerted me to the forthcoming Commodore 64 Retro-Rewind, THEC64, which is scheduled to hit the streets in the UK and Europe on 5 December 2019 — see also Speaking in [Archaic] Tongues (BASIC).
Unfortunately, at the time of this writing, this bodacious beauty’s creators don’t have plans for distribution in the USA. Well, I simply couldn’t resist. I ordered one from Amazon.co.uk to be delivered to my dear old mom who will ship it to me as soon as it lands on her doorstep.
Yesterday, I went on eBay and ordered three old books: Commodore 64 User’s Guide, How to Program Your Commodore 64 Basic for Beginners, and More Than 32 Basic Programs for the Commodore 64 Computer. These little scamps should arrive next week, so I’ll have a happy time perusing and pondering the little rascals until THEC64 arrives.
In response to a question, I posted a comment on my LinkedIn posting about my Speaking in Tongues blog saying, “I just ordered one to be delivered to my mom’s.” Mike Hibbert immediately responded, “I hope she likes it” (good one, Mike) and my old friend Alvin Brown said, “I can pick it up and test it for you” (it’s not going to happen, Alvin).
I also emailed Chewy to tell him that I had THEC64 on order. He emailed me back saying, “You rat!!! I cannot wait to see the review!!!”
Speaking of Chewy, he just sent me a link to a project on Hackaday.com describing A Radio for the Apocalypse. This little beauty is an AM radio made from a hand-wound coil and an oxidized British penny (I bet you can guess what I’ll be doing when I get home this evening).
Chewy also sent me a link to a video of a Steampunk Commodore 64, saying he’s thinking about building one of these for himself and asking if I had any suggestions for making it even better (of course I do).
As we see, the case is oak, and the lid contains a 12″ LCD panel. There are also four speakers — two in the lid and two in the base. As soon as the video started, I recognized this creation as being in the style of my chum Paul Parry of Bad Dog Designs in the UK.
Whenever I go to the UK to visit my mom, on the last Friday before I return, a gaggle of my techno-geek friends descend on my brother’s house and we spend a happy day showing off our latest creations with my mom providing “Ooh” and “Ahh” sound effects as required. It probably won’t surprise you to hear that Paul is a fully-fledged member of this techno-geek gaggle.
Last, but not least, for this blog, I just heard about an Indiegogo crowd-sourced project for something called the Peakago 7-inch Windows 10 Computer.
Weighing in at only 539 grams, with a screen resolution of 1920 * 1200, the Peakago claims to be the world’s first 4G network integrated 7-inch laptop. As the Peakago folks say on their Indiegogo page: “Peakago raises the bar for portable devices. Big time. It’s redefining the look, size, and feel of laptops, combining the benefits of tablets, smartphones, and laptops into a pocket-size technological 4G powerhouse that lets you work or play ANYWHERE.”
I must admit that this does look rather tasty, including the fact that you can fold the keyboard all the way back and use the device as a tablet. If I ever lay my hands on one of these little beauties, I’ll do a full review.
Well, that’s all for this blog. Dare I hope that you’ve wasted as much time on these topics as did I? If you have a moment to post a comment, I’d love to hear which items you found to be the most fun, interesting, or scary.