Sep 152010
Authors: Ryan Gibbons and Glen Pfeiffer

This week, we aren’t going to write much about anything important, because with “Halo: Reach” having dropped this week, we know many of you may still not be on campus to read this column. As for the geeks who have already beaten it, you’re not always our target audience anyway.

We’d like to share a funny anecdote that happened this week about how we techie people sometimes try to overcomplicate things (hopefully in this column we only simplify them). The story goes like this …

One half of this dynamic duo was settling in to watch a movie on his computer with a special lady friend when he had an idea.

He remembered that there was a feature in one of Apple’s video playback programs that would automatically dim the other screens in a multiple monitor setup while a video was playing on one of the screens. After spending a few minutes trying to locate said feature, the aforementioned lady pointed out that he could just power off the other monitors instead. D’oh.

The morals of the story: One, many events in geek’s lives have, in fact, occurred previously in an xkcd comic. Two, don’t forget about Occam’s razor –– the simplest solution is often the best.

To quickly delve down (Inception style) to another layer of this column, we’d like to share what exactly the “razor” part of Occam’s razor means. We have often wondered this, but until today just settled for the belief that “Occam’s razor” just sounds more than 9,000 times more awesome than “Occam’s law”.

In short, a ‘razor’ in philosophy is any device used to “shave away” unlikely explanations for a phenomenon (Wikipedia strikes again). It is not to be confused with a rancor, which is, in fact, a giant beast on Tatooine that was slain by Luke Skywalker.

Definitely check out Wikipedia for a list of other famous razors. Among them is one referred to as “Newton’s flaming laser sword.” Simplified, it states: “What cannot be solved by experiment is not worth debating.”

We don’t think there’s any debate over whether Skywalker would have killed that rancor easier if he had had his flaming laser sword. The only famous razor left off the Wikipedia list is the one Chuck Norris uses to shave his beard (Yes, we’ve met him, and yes, he does shave it sometimes).

And now, boys and girls, we’re heading to Chattanooga, Tenn., for some hard-hitting tech news. Before you ask, yes, that might be the first time someone has ever said Chattanooga, Tenn., and tech news in the same sentence.

Jest as we may, the fine people of Chattanooga look to be the first in the U.S. to enjoy 1-gigabit-per-second Internet connection speeds. To put that into perspective, that’s anywhere from 50 to 250 times faster than our local high-speed.

Unfortunately, it costs $350 a month; so don’t go looking for your first job in Chattanooga, unless you majored in being a Jedi.

The tragic part of the story is that folks in Europe have had connections like this for years now and for a fraction of the cost. While we’re happy to see progress, we have a ways to go.

The next time those folks at Comcast or Xfinity or whatever ask if you’re satisfied with your Internet, tell them to man up and start dishing out some real Interwebz because the darn tubes are getting clogged (you’ll never die in our hearts, Ted Kennedy).

Columnists Ryan Gibbons and Glen Pfeiffer can be reached at

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