The Daily Flash -Eco, Space, Tech (7/21)

Iphoneatt Bad Connection: Inside the iPhone Network Meltdown

AT&T’s network has proven unable to cope with the deluge of data traffic generated by the iPhone, particularly in cities like San Francisco and New York. Even as the #attfail meme burned up Twitter, AT&T accelerated its network upgrades — it has spent nearly $37 billion on new equipment and capacity since the iPhone launch and expects to invest around $13.5 billion in 2010. The effort may have already boosted performance, with at least some independent studies showing that the carrier’s network has improved. And yet AT&T’s image remains deeply damaged, and the body slams keep coming — including insults from mischievous blogger Fake Steve Jobs, The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart, and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg. Meanwhile, the groundbreaking alliance has deteriorated into a loveless celebrity marriage. Each company has publicly described the other as the ideal partner (and neither would comment for this story beyond reiterating that talking point), but behind the scenes both have jockeyed for position while consumers have lashed out, looking for someone to blame.

National_Security_Agency_headquarters_Fort_Meade_Maryland-660x372 Search Top Secret America’s Database of Private Spooks

Figuring out exactly who’s cashing in on the post-9/11 boom in secret programs just got a whole lot easier. U.S. spy agencies, the State Department and the White House had a collective panic attack Friday over a new Washington Post exposé on the intelligence-industrial complex. Reporters Dana Priest and William Arkin let it drop Monday morning. It includes a searchable database cataloging what an estimated 854,000 employees and legions of contractors are apparently up to. Users can now to see just how much money these government agencies are spending and where those top secret contractors are located. Check out the Post’s nine-page list of agencies and contractors involved in air and satellite observations, for instance. No wonder it scares the crap out of official Washington: It’s bound to provoke all sorts of questions — both from taxpayers wondering where their money goes and from U.S. adversaries looking to penetrate America’s spy complex.

Leatherkindle Inflection Point! Kindle Books Outselling Hardcovers on Amazon by 43%l

Leather-bound books and rich mahogany shelves may soon be as endangered as the 70's playboy who used them to impress women.  Today, Amazon announced that sales of books for its popular Kindle reading device are far outpacing sales of hardcover books. The online retailer said that it's sold 143 Kindle e-books for every 100 hardcover books over the past three month. In the last four weeks, that figure has jumped to 180 e-books per every 100 hardcovers. "Even while our hardcover sales continue to grow, the Kindle format has now overtaken the hardcover format," says Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos. "[It's] astonishing when you consider that we've been selling hardcover books for 15 years, and Kindle books for 33 months."

The SeaKettle Life Raft Makes Its Own Drinking Water

When I think of post-shipwreck situations, I imagine myself clinging to some shard of wood, encircled by sharks, delirious from the sun and saltwater. But the SeaKettle, which can desalinate fresh drinking water, sounds more like a floating hotel room.The luxury life raft is an entry in the James Dyson Award design competition, and it looks like a relatively comfortable place to spend a few nights following a ship-capsizing squall. The SeaKettle's main amenity is a mechanism that pumps seawater into a reservoir covered with Goretex, allowing it to desalinate through evaporation and then trickle into four pockets of drinkable water surrounding the raft.


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