Transpacific cable is cut, for now

Transpacific cable is cut, for now

In light of the problems between the USA and China, and that those in power in Beijing want to grab data from US networks, Google and Facebook have dropped plans to build an undersea cable between the US and Hong Kong. The new target limits the landing points to the Philippines and Taiwan and now excludes Hong Kong. The HK section of the cable is built but will not now be activated due to a national security agreement between the US and Google and Facebook. I will predict that if Joe Biden wins the next US election this decision will be revisited.

- Most of the social media platforms have now declared they will be politically biased in the upcoming election and will shut down any conservative voices. This came as no surprise to many.

- A correction from last time. When it comes to headphones, if you want the closest Bose active noise reduction to the Sony then you need the Bose 700 headphones. The 35 Mark II are not as good as either the 700s or the Sony 1000XM3/4s. Also, in another update, Sony offered me more discount on a new pair. The entry price for the latest model is very high, so even then it brings the price down to about what I paid for the 1000XM2s.

- Its official, the game Raid Shadow Legends is the worst I've played in more than 40 years. It is designed so that you can't progress past a certain point and even has you moving backwards after reaching a certain stage.

- Apple is forcing Facebook to respect people's privacy in a new mobile operating system update. The change requires any app to ask for permission before Facebook can mine data from your phone. On every other platform it makes money from your data that is sold to advertisers and others. Apple is blocking this unless you say it's OK to do so.

- I have some déjà vu as I write this because I'm sure I did it a few years back. Microsoft is planning to end support for Adobe Flash Player in all of its browsers by the end of the year. I still visit websites that use Flash so those will need to update their code -- unlikely -- or I'll need to use another browser. Corporate customers however will still be able to use it after the end date. The Flash Player may also be loadable via the browser plug-in interface, using the Internet Explorer mode facility. I finally understand that old saying, modified to suit this example, Flash is dead. Long live Flash.

- The latest report from lists the global broadband speed rankings. At the bottom is South Sudan and Yemen and at the top are Liechtenstein and Jersey. Both of the latter are tiny places so implementation is easy and perhaps not a fair comparison. Singapore comes in at 18 with the US at 20 and New Zealand at 23. Laos is above Thailand at 43 and 53 respectively with the UK in between them at 47th place. Australia sits at 62 with Korea surprisingly way down at 100, and with China way, way down at 200. At No.1 we have an average of 229.98Mbps, down to 0.58Mbps at the lowest. Some readers will remember that even the slowest of these was a dream only a few decades ago. These ratings do not in any way take into consideration relative country sizes.

- I love potential future tech. This week it is about how small you can make a digital bit, the smallest unit of information. Researchers at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands are working on how to store two bits of information, with a single atom, held as the spin and angular momentum. The ultimate aim is to build the smallest data storage devices. Using a scanning tunnelling electron microscope, the team can set the two values as required in some very specific cases. This sounds wonderful until you ask the question how do you read thousands of these to retrieve the data stored? The practical implementation of atomic level data storage is still a long way off but I love the enthusiasm and technology.

- On the subject of future tech, the Elon Musk Neuralink I mentioned in an earlier article has taken a step forward after being implanted in some pigs. The device has been implanted in a live specimen's brain. The outputs from this device are being monitored, as is the health of the subject. The target plan is that you can think a command and this is interpreted and passed on. They have also built a device that will automatically install it, without an anaesthetic. The current device has 1,024 filaments that penetrate 43mm into the brain. I'm not sure when the human trials will start but that is another target. The stated initial beneficiaries will be those with a disability that can be assisted with the technology. I doubt I will be first in line in the trials.

James Hein is an IT professional of over 30 years' standing. You can contact him at

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