So, What Hobbled The Internet Friday?

You may have been lucky enough to avoid experiencing a hobbled Internet on Friday, but many people caught it right in the chops. A variety of sites (Twitter, Reddit, iHeartRadio, to name a few)  were either intermittently not available at all, or were barley limping along. So what happened? 

The geeky version is that a massive distributed denial of service attack clobbered DynDNS, a major DNS service. However, for the more-or-less English version, you can find it here.

And while we are at it, this incident can be pretty squarely laid on the shoulders of a large number of insecure "Internet of Things" devices....


Lithium Ion Battery Failures - Perspective And Fixes

Scanning the news, it might appear that smartphone and other lithium ion rechargeable batteries are blowing up or catching fire all over the place. In fact, with over a billion such batteries in daily use, only a relative handful cause any such problems. You are much more likely to be struck by lightning than have your smartphone battery catch fire.

That's not to say it's not a serious issue - if you get 3rd degree burns or your home catches fire because of a battery failure, that's serious. What causes these scary instances, and are the issues being looked at?

One of the problems is the ongoing goal of making batteries thinner and thiner. We are packing a lot of energy into ever-slimmer packages, and tolerances are so fine that any minor manufacturing issues may lead to significant problems.
...while no replacement for Li-ion batteries will be appearing in phones in the next year or two, the field is so crowded with contenders that experts think we’re not far from devices powered by batteries that are both safer and more powerful.
Consumer Reports


Say What? How American Accents Came About

As a limey myself (someone from the UK), I soon realized that - just as in the UK - Americans have a lot of different accents. But why? I recall seeing something on PBS years ago about it, and it was all insanely complicated.

If you want something a little easier to follow, "Today I Found Out" has a more readable article here.

An accent is “a manner of pronunciation peculiar to a particular individual, location, or nation.” That’s not to be confused with a dialect, which is a specific form of a language that has its own unique lexicon (words), grammatical structures, and phonology (a fancy word for accent). So an accent can be a part of a dialect, but not vice versa.


Do You Speak Quadcopter?

When we hear folk talking about consumer drones, they are often referring to quadcopters of various designs. In this post, I give an overview and explain some of the terms you may see if you decide to delve into this hobby (or are purchasing one as a gift).

What IS a quadcopter ("quad" for short)? At it's heart, a quadcopter is a lightweight remote-controlled four-propeller flying machine, almost always using electric motors. Quadcopters are usually not aerodynamic in any meaningful sense; they can't glide and need sustained power to keep aloft, like a helicopter. 

Weekly Round-Up - Oct 21

Once again, it's Weekly Round-Up time, where I pull together an eclectic sampling of items (hopefully) of interest from the past several days.
First look video at the Nintendo Switch