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Trained scientist; Business consultant; Armchair philosopher; I write on various topics including science, climate change, startups, and business.

US lags many other countries in 5G speeds

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5G or the 5th generational cell phone internet standard is supposed to provide dramatic download and upload speeds. And this is expected to revolutionize our world just like each of the previous Gs. 3G enabled easy use of pictures on the phone while 4G allowed video streaming. As a result, we now have apps and productivity on phones that can rival a traditional laptop. Streaming anything from movies to videos is now super easy. Imagine the YouTube revolution without the 4G LTE speeds — not possible! 5G is expected to provide 10x more speed than 4G LTE. Instead of 4G’s Mbps scale speed, 5G would be in the Gbps range. This would make virtual reality, augmented reality, and other such futuristic tech usable on the phone. …


…And Australia responds in kind!

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The feud between the Tech Giant and the rich nation of Australia sounds more like a bar fight with the former threatening to pull out of the country and the latter sagaciously retorting that they don't take threats kindly. The feud is over Australia’s proposed law to modify arbitration for deals between Big Tech and news publishers. Tech companies like Google and Facebook say this would leave them powerless against news companies. Of course, the news companies support the law.

Google Australia’s Mel Silva said in a parliamentary hearing — “If this version of the code were to become law, it would give us no real choice but to stop making Google search available in Australia,…And that would be a bad outcome not only for us, but also for the Australian people, media diversity, and the small businesses who use our products every day.”


Game changer or old wine in new packaging?

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The new automaker on the block is not new at all! Stellantis is the product of a $52B merger of Fiat Chrysler and Groupe PSA. And the company is coming with some serious firepower in 2021.

“Stellantis — the product of a $52 billion merger between automakers Fiat Chrysler and Groupe PSA — plans to offer an array of all-electric or hybrid vehicles through 2025, including 10 new models in 2021, according to CEO Carlos Tavares…From Dodge to Maserati, every new model the company launches from now until 2025 will offer an “electrified” variant” — CNBC

But why so much action? Legacy automakers are worried by the meteoric rise of Tesla. So the game is on to convince Wall Street and consumers that they are still in the game. Let’s see how much the Stellantis bet pays off!


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Virgin Orbit, the firm owned by billionaire Richard Branson wants to launch rockets from a plane. The plane flies to a certain altitude with a rocket attached. The rocket is then air-dropped which then flies to orbit.

By launching from a plane in the air, Virgin Orbit’s system doesn’t need as big a rocket, or as much fuel, which helps keep costs down… this is a potentially more flexible system, since it makes satellite launches theoretically possible from anywhere a 747 can take off and land. — The Verge

The only problem — it hasn’t worked yet! The first test failed. But Virgin’s not giving up. With NASA and DoD contracts, cash from Sovereign Funds, the company is trying once more on Jan 17th, 2021! And from their tweets, it seems the launch has so far been a success! …


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GM’s smart EV push — the delivery van! GM knows EV is the future and while they are still trying hard on the personal EV front, they found another market opening with few players. Here is the thing — deliveries are soaring. And those delivery vans have to be electrified too! GM saw the gap and is filling it with their Brightdrop EV600 electric vans. FedEx is already “in” on their initiative and would be the early adopter of these vans.

“…the all-electric EV600 promises a driving range of up to 250 miles on a full charge, far more than the forthcoming Ford E-Transit, which is slated to top out at a comparatively paltry 126 miles. Underscoring the EV600’s hardworking versatility, this van offers more than 600 cubic feet of cargo area…” —…


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Bye-bye WhatsApp? If you are a WhatsApp user not living in the EU, you must have seen the notification regarding their new privacy policy. The irrevocable/ must-agree-to-use policy allows more direct data sharing between WhatsApp and its parent company Facebook. All this is FB’s way to monetize WhatsApp’s 2B+ subscriber base. Given FB’s notoriety in data privacy, this may not go down well with many, risking that same base.

…all Facebook companies can access may include your account details, any metadata associated with your chats, your financial transactions (over WhatsApp Pay), and even some information that the app automatically collects, like your log reports, device and network details, and your location (approximate, even if you haven’t consented location sharing) — Android…


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Next social media would be podcasts? or so runs the rationale for Twitter to buy Breaker, a social media app for podcasts. Something is going on in the podcast world. The number of podcast listeners hit 1B+ in 2020, worldwide. Spotify and Amazon took note, buying various podcasting apps to boost their offerings.

Twitter is building out its “Spaces” feature like a chat room of sorts. And Breaker will help it build that.

According to Twitter engineering lead Michael Montano, they will help “improve the health of public conversation on our service,” while Breaker co-founder Leah Culver tweeted that she’s “excited to help create the future of audio conversations” by building out Spaces. CEO Erik Berlin wrote, “we’re truly passionate about audio communication and we’re inspired by the ways Twitter is facilitating public conversations for people around the world.” — reported in Engadget

Maybe it's time to start a podcast??


Even a short practice is better than none!

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The new normal of 2020 had a whole lot of negatives but there were some silver linings too. Some became almost-professional chefs, while others achieved “star baker-dom”. A friend of mine started a daily running regimen that he ardently sticks to even to this day. Others picked up writing as a channel to their pent up emotions. Not as creative as others, I decided to start meditation. I wasn’t completely new to it, having been on it/off it for a while. This time I decided to be a bit more of a stickler.

I started my meditation practice when the lockdown started. I remember the date very well — March 16th — the first day of the new normal. On Dec 16th, it was 9 months of meditating almost every day. I say almost because I’d be remiss to not admit that I did miss a day or two here and there. …


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Another fitness tracker? Flagship killer and innovative cell phone maker OnePlus is coming up with a fitness tracker that is expected to measure blood oxygen, heart rate, and sleep round the clock. Add this to Amazon’s Halo and we are having a lot of movement on the health front. Perhaps, companies are cashing on the pandemic anxiety, or maybe the future would be round the clock health monitoring. I still wonder if it is a bit too much obsession with the particulars of health.

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