Tag Archives: California

California’s Net Neutrality Bill is Now a Law



California Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 882. This means that California has enacted the strongest net neutrality protections in the United States. The law will go into effect next year. It is a big win for consumers in California.

As you may have expected, the U.S. Justice Department has decided to sue the state of California, claiming that its net neutrality law is “extreme and illegal” and something about states not being allowed to regulate interstate commerce.

Personally, I don’t think the U.S. Justice Department has a case. California has enacted stronger auto emission standards than many other states – and the auto industry has complied. California is among other states that require health insurance providers to cover the preventative health benefits that are part of the Affordable Care Act – and the health care industries are still in the Marketplace. There’s no good reason why internet providers should be allowed to trump state’s rights.

The other reason I think the U.S. Justice Department doesn’t have a case is because of the shenanigans that happened when the FCC had a comment period about their repeal of net neutrality rules. As many as 2 million fake comments appeared, some of which stole the identities of real Americans. Some people found that their deceased relatives had magically posted anti-net neutrality comments from beyond the grave.

It is illogical to assume that a situation that started off with lies and shenanigans could result in a winning court case.

Image from Pixabay


California Legislature Passed a Strong Net Neutrality Bill



The California Legislature has passed SB 822, a strong internet neutrality bill. The vote was 27 -12. Next, the bill goes to Governor Jerry Brown.

SB 822 would restore the net neutrality rules that were enacted federally under former President Barack Obama. Those rules were repealed by the Federal Communications Commission in December of 2017.

In May of 2018, the United States Senate overturned the FCC’s repeal of the net neutrality rules by using the Congressional Review Act. But, for net neutrality to be reinstated federally, the House of Representatives would also have to use the Congressional Review Act to overturn the FCCs repeal of net neutrality – and then President Trump would have to sign it into law.

In my opinion, this is why some state legislatures are passing their own net neutrality bills. It seems to me that states can enact net neutrality legislation faster than the federal government will.

California also has a unique reason to pass a strong net neutrality bill. The Los Angeles Times reported that the Santa Clara County Fire Department’s command vehicle faced email delays and challenges updating web-based documents with critical information about deployment during the Mendocino Complex fire.

Their internet provider was Verizon Wireless, who (according to the Los Angeles Times) “throttled down the department’s connection to 1/200 or less than previous speeds because the agency had exceeded its data plan limit.” Verizon says the situation was a “customer support mistake” and has nothing to do with net neutrality.

I live in California, and am hoping that this bill becomes law. Net neutrality is especially important for people who have chronic illnesses and/or disabilities (myself included) who are unable to work a typical job. Many of us are able to earn some income online because we can fit that work around our health issues and doctor appointments.

SB 822 (if signed into law) will prohibit internet service providers from:

  • Blocking lawful content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices, subject to reasonable network management.
  • Engaging in zero-rating in exchange for consideration, monetary or otherwise, from a third party.
  • Zero-rating some internet content, applications, services, or devices in a category – but not the entire category.
  • Unreasonably interfering with, or unreasonably disadvantaging, either an end user’s ability to select, access, and use broadband internet access service or the lawful internet content, applications, service, or devices of the end user’s choice, or an edge provider’s ability to make lawful content, applications, services, or devices available to end users.

College Students Build 1,215 MPG Vehicle



Cal Poly logoI know that “local news” isn’t exactly what Geek News Central fans are after. But when I saw this particular item, I couldn’t pass it by without mentioning it here. I live in the city of San Luis Obispo (SLO) on California’s Central Coast. SLO is home to California Polytechnic State University, Cal Poly for short. The university fosters a “learning by doing” mentality that helps students build skills in everything from agricultural sciences to aerospace engineering. One group of Cal Poly students earned some notoriety recently when they competed in a vehicle design competition where they built a prototype capable of getting 1,215 miles per gallon of fuel.

The team of students competed in the 10th Annual Shell Eco-Marathon Americas. The event describes itself as:

In 2016, Shell Eco-marathon Americas celebrated its 10th edition with 124 teams from seven different countries in Detroit, USA. In April 2017, the competition comes back to the Motor City with the energy efficiency driving challenge.

The Cal Poly team’s prototype vehicle design came in third overall, and placed the highest among teams from the United States (two Canadian teams placed ahead of them). The vehicle is a single-person, very sleek, aerodynamic, low-riding three-wheeler. It’s definitely not street legal but that’s not really the point. The Eco-Marathon is meant to challenge participants to build vehicles that are as fuel efficient as possible.

The Cal Poly group’s prototype vehicle was designed in the same spirit as Solar Impulse. It’s not so much something you can use today for getting around. But it shows there is real potential for energy-efficient forms of travel.


Startup Sleepbus Offers Comfortable, Affordable Overnight Rides From L.A. to San Francisco



Sleepbus LogoI live on California’s Central Coast, just about halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. You’d think being in a location like this would make it easy to get to either of these urban centers. Unfortunately, that just isn’t true. The process is somewhat manageable by car, but that’s not always an option. There’s a local bus service that does limited shuttle service to L.A. Institutions like Greyhound and Amtrak are available but they can be costly and slow. Many solutions have been proposed to try and make transiting across California easier, with the most recent being a bullet-train style rail system that may never see the light of day. Fortunately, there is a new startup taking this challenge head on.

Sleepbus is a new company that carries passengers between San Francisco and L.A. Sleepbus gets its name from the overnight timeframe the bus operates. The Sleepbus coach comes with sleeping berths for passengers, as well as onboard Wi-Fi, snacks, and assorted beverages. A Sleepbus ticket currently costs $48 but is expected to go up to $65 in the near future.

Sleebus is such a smart idea, it almost seems like a no-brainer. Make it affordable and convenient to travel between two of the Golden State’s biggest cities. Hopefully, Sleepbus will be a great success and add a stop or two between L.A. and San Francisco. Even tho I’d only need to ride for half of a typical Sleepbus trip, I’d gladly pay the full fair for such an easy way to travel.


San Francisco’s Alamo Square Declared “No-Tech” Zone?



Alamo Square signSan Francisco is often described as an “interesting” place. For decades, it was home to hippies, beatniks, and other counter-culture holdouts. In more recent times, the City By The Bay has seen an influx of tech-industry workers, causing the city to gentrify at a rapid pace.

It’s hard to say if a recent set of “No-Tech” signs around San Francisco’s Alamo Square were posted by merry pranksters, social commentators, or just some people who’d like everyone to stop looking at their iPhones for a minute. Earlier this week, these signs that depict a tablet/smartphone surrounded by a familiar circle-slash popped up around Alamo Park. The signs command, “No cell phones, tablets, laptops or smart devices are permitted,” and warn that violating this edict could result in a $300 fine. They’re very official looking but the signs weren’t placed there by the city.

So far, no one has come forward to claim ownership of the signs. And despite their rather sturdy-looking installations, the signs have already been taken down.

Original image by Andy Melton on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license.


Could the next Mac OS be named after a local town?



apple logoStarting with version 10.9, Apple began naming its long-running OS X operating system after specific places in the state of California. OS 10.9 was called Mavericks. The current version of the operating system, 10.10, is called Yosemite. Apple has already announced that the next iteration of OS X will be named El Capitán, after a famous mountain inside of Yosemite National Park. Since it seems likely that Apple will continue to name future versions of OS X after California places, this is already leading to speculation of what place-names Apple may choose in the future.

My local daily newspaper, the San Luis Obispo Tribune, has an idea that, while far-fetched, may have some merit:

At the Apple event in San Francisco on Wednesday, the city of Arroyo Grande made an appearance in a presentation about the tech giant’s new 3-D touch screen for the new iPhone.

If you blinked, you might have missed it.

The article goes on to note that during the presentation, an e-mail is briefly shown that was allegedly sent to Apple’s marketing team. In the message, the team is asked where they should visit next to scope out potential names for the next operating system. A short list of places follows: Manteca, Tehachapi, and Arroyo Grande. The e-mail even shows a photo of downtown Arroyo Grande along with a link to the city’s official website.

While it is fun to consider the possibility of Apple naming OS 10.12 after Arroyo Grande, it wouldn’t really fit the pattern established in the other recent OS X names. (No cities so far – only “natural” places.) But the surrounding area does hold some impressive natural sites. There’s Price Canyon, Morro Rack and Montana de Oro to name just a few. (Personally, I’m rooting for OS X Bubblegum Alley but I won’t keep my hopes up.)

Only time will tell what Apple ultimately decides for its future OS names. But the company could do a lot worse than some of the beautiful places found on California’s Central Coast.


Meteor Explodes Over California



While news reports have been scant, there was a major cosmic event over California and Nevada this past Sunday.  A meteor weighing approximately 70 tons rocketed across the sky at a stunning 33,500 mph and exploded in the atmosphere.  The meteor sighting was reported by residents of both states and those in California also reported the explosion, which rattled house windows across a large area of the state and also set off building and car alarms.

The meteor, which was roughly the size of a minivan, although much heavier due to the density, and traveling at such a high velocity, was estimated by the NASA Meteoroid Environment Office to have exploded with the force of roughly3.8 kilotons of TNT.

While NASA is busy mapping earth-threatening asteroids, one of this size is difficult to spot in advance.  Thankfully most asteroids in this range are likely to burn up upon entry into earth’s atmosphere, as this one did.  Some experts think that it could have possibly scattered tiny pieces of debris across the Sierra Nevada mountains, but no fragments were likely large enough to do any damage.  You can check out the video below.