Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Pirate Bay Offers Downloads of Physical Objects

I have blogged about 3-D printing before, the ability to "print" actual physical objects using a special type of printer.  For science fiction fans, think of the "replicators" on the Star Trek series—that's actually where this kind of invention is heading.

Now, you can download "physibles," or data files that deliver real, physical objects to anyone with a 3D printer from, of all places, The Pirate Bay.  Yes, The Pirate Bay—the torrent site known to most people as the bane of the recording and motion picture industries for the vast amounts of illegally shared material that some users make available via that medium.  The site currently has a dozen physibles available for download, including a 3-dimensional model of a 1970 Chevelle Hot Rod, a whistle, and a "tabletop wargaming robot model." 

As this Pirate Bay blog post makes clear, "We believe that things like three dimensional printers, scanners and such are just the first step. We believe that in the nearby future you will print your spare parts for your vehicles. You will download your sneakers within 20 years."

Of course sites like The Pirate Bay continue to face legal problems, including legislation in the US and Europe aimed at making file sharing illegal and blocking access to file sharing sites.  But the potential for the digital exchange of ideas, intellectual property, and, now, even physical objects is a compelling reason why sites such as The Pirate Bay should be protected and not hounded out of existence.  My recommendation is that you check the Electronic Frontier Foundation website frequently for ways in which all of us can help protect the freedom of the internet.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Why Verizon Doesn't Want You to Buy an iPhone

A pretty hot story is going around, stoked by CNNMoney, that Verizon Wireless sales reps are steering customers away from Apple's iPhones in favor of 4G LTE-enabled Android devices. I absolutely believe this, Verizon's official denials notwithstanding.


Here's the problem: Verizon has spent millions of dollars rolling out its massive LTE network to cover 200 million people so far. You could call it billions, if you include the $5 billion spent on the C Block 700-Mhz spectrum licenses. But according to its first-quarter earnings presentation it's only been able to convert 9.1 percent of its 93 million users to LTE.


There's only one problem. The iPhone isn't a 4G phone. And according to Verizon CFO Fran Shammo, the carrier sold more iPhones over the last quarter (3.2 million) than it did LTE devices (2.9 million). That means more than half of Verizon's smartphone buyers are crowding onto the already busy 3G network, while the 4G network has plenty of space.

 Read it all.