Virgin Flights May Get 70 Mbps Internet


Virgin Atlantic customers could get in-flight WiFi with speeds of up to 70 Mbps thanks to a new deal.

The airline has partnered with Gogo, a firm that already provides in-flight Internet access. At the moment the speeds top out at just under 10 Mbps, but it’s recently announced a new system called 2Ku that is expected to reach 70 Mbps at launch and then break 100 Mbps as satellite technology advances.

The 2Ku system combines existing technologies: planes will receive signals from ground-based antennae and from two satellites, with more satellites potentially added later on. Being compatible with multiple satellites will bring in redundancy and thus increase reliability.

The connection to the ground antenna will only be used for sending data from the aircraft to the Internet, meaning “uploading” will involve sending data downwards. The connection to the satellites will be normally be used solely for receiving data (the exception likely being when travelling over water), a set-up Gogo says allows it to use bandwidth much more efficiency.

As well as increasing speeds, it should cut latency to around 400ms, meaning it’s still unlikely to be ideal for gamers, but should mean streaming videos will play without problems.

The Virgin planes will need to be fitted with satellite receivers. However, with the 2Ku system these only need to be 4.5 inches high (pictured), meaning far less air drag than with some rival satellite-based systems.

Virgin has hinted that passengers on Delta Air Lines may benefit from the deal as well. It hasn’t announced a timetable or the potential pricing for customers. However, Endgadget ponders the possibility that increased capacity could mean there’s no need to keep prices high enough to manage demand.

Inside the World of Modern Longsword Fighting [Video]

Now that looks fun.

From The New York Times:

The longsword specifically is just very accessible,” said Pettersson, a management consultant from Gothenburg, Sweden, “because that is what the old masters wrote about the most. It was called the ‘queen of weapons’ in the old days.”

Unlike re-enactors or role players, who don theatrical costumes and medieval-style armor, Longpoint competitors treat swordfighting as an organized sport. Matches have complex rules and use a scoring system based on ancient dueling regulations. Fighters wear modern if sometimes improvised protective equipment, which looks like a hybrid of fencing gear and body armor. They use steel swords with unsharpened blades and blunt tips to prevent bouts from turning into death matches.

Skill and technique, rather than size and strength, decide the outcomes. Fights are fast and sometimes brutal: key to the art is landing a blow while preventing an opponent’s counterstroke. Nevertheless, even the best swordfighters earn large bruises in the ring, which they display with flinty pride.

[“>The New York Times]

Amazon Goes For Cheaper Tablets But Pricey E-Reader


Amazon has announced new models that means its cheapest tablet will be half the price of its most expensive dedicated e-reader. It seems to be an attempt to extend its range to capture the extremes of both markets.

The Kindle Voyage starts $199, double the cost of the current flagship Paperwhite model. There’s an extra $20 fee if you don’t want ads on the lock screen. The standard model is Wi-Fi only, or you can get a 3G model with unlimited use for $60 extra.

The main improvements are a 300ppi display (compared with 212ppi on the Paperwhite), an automatic light that adjusts to ambient conditions, the ability to “turn a page” without having to move a finger by simply pushing down on the bezel, and a reduction in thickness from 9.1mm to 7.6mm. The main casing is aluminum rather than plastic.

It’s very clearly designed and marketed as a luxury model. From a specs perspective, it’s hard to justify paying double the money for these differences, but it could appeal to those who feel they have to have the best.

It’s the opposite story in the Fire tablet range (which will no longer carry the Kindle name.) There’s a new version of the seven-inch Fire HD, coming in at $140, with the main tweaks being faster graphics processing and the addition of a rear camera.

There’s also a new six-inch model that starts at $99 for an 8GB model with lock screen ads. It’s otherwise much the same as the seven-inch edition; Amazon says its a response to so many people buying cheap models from other companies and then returning them. Breaking under the $100 barrier could certainly be enough for those on a budget to decide to stick with a brand they recognize.

Both the six- and seven-inch models will be available in Kids editions that cost $50 extra. That gets you a rubber case, a two-year no-questions-asked replacement guarantee, and a one-year subscription to Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, which includes access to books, videos, apps and games. That alone normally costs $60 a year if you aren’t a Prime member, so if you plan to use it the deal works out as good value.

GEEKGASM: The Batmobile is Hidden Under the New Millennium Falcon! [Video]

Star Wars + Batman = WIN!

According to a Youtuber commentator:

For those who are confused as to why the Batmobile is on there, it’s because Zack Snyder and JJ Abrams have this Star Wars/Batman crossover twitter game going on. Check out Zack’s twitter to see his entries.

Here’s what Zack Snyder recently tweeted:


[Bad Robot]

Ok, Let’s See What this Doctor Who Hullabaloo is All About [Comic]

This awesome comic (below) by Inanities and Scribbles came back to my mind yesterday after I’ve started watching Doctor Who for the first time 2 weeks ago (I’m up to season 4 now.) It totally represents my state of mind right now: I’m totally hooked to the show.

It’s not that I didn’t want to watch it before, just that I simply did not have the time and had too many shows to finish. Now that I’m done with Season 4 of the Walking Dead, I decided to “see what this Doctor Who hullaballoo is all about,” and boy am I glad I did!


[Source: Art n' Stuff]

Amazon Deal of the Day: 48% Off Anker 40W 5-Port Family-Sized Desktop USB Charger with PowerIQTM Technology – $25.99


For today’s edition of Deal of the Day, Amazon has the Anker 40W 5-Port Family-Sized Desktop USB Charger with PowerIQTM Technology for just $25.99. That’s 48% off on the charger’s regular price of $49.99.

Say goodbye to using multiple adapters & outlets. Say hello to all-in-one charging convenience. With an industry-leading 40 watt output among 5 ports, charge any combination of power- hungry phones, tablets or other USB-charged devices simultaneously.

-Anker 40W 5-Port Family-Sized Desktop USB Charger with PowerIQTM Technology$49.99 $25.99 (48% Off)

The Chemistry Behind Smartphones [Science Video]

From the American Chemical Society:

The iPhone 6 is almost here and the pre-orders are piling up. But what do you really know about the insides of the iPhone 6, or any smartphone for that matter? We’ve found the chemical elements lurking inside a smartphone with help from our friends at the Compound Interest blog.

A typical smartphone contains about 300 milligrams of silver and 30 milligrams of gold. Not to mention small amounts of extremely rare elements like praseodymium, gadolinium and terbium. And what’s with this “ion-strengthened glass” that Apple is bragging about? It’s all about the potassium bath your phone takes before it rolls off the assembly line.


Updated Über Gigantic Spaceship Size Comparison Chart [Pic]

After many changes and additions, artist Dirk Loechel has finally released what he says is the final version of his enormous spaceship size comparison chart. He has also added the ISS for scale on the top left of the picture. The space station is surrounded by a yellow frame to make it easier to find. Click the picture to see the chart in full resolution. (You have to magnify it 2 times after)


[Dirk Loechel]