In/Flux: Kiss Comcast goodbye? MSFT, AAPL play copycat. Personal branding with Bertha.

Meet In/Flux, Crosscut's new weekly round-up of local tech news.
Crosscut archive image.
Meet In/Flux, Crosscut's new weekly round-up of local tech news.

Your Internet's about to get fast

How fast can you bootleg the latest Game of Thrones episode? For some Seattleites, the answer will soon be mere seconds. Private company Gigabit Squared (GB2) will roll out fiber in fourteen Seattle neighborhoods by fall 2013, in partnership with the University of Washington and the City of Seattle (a development announced in December). Their network will provide connections of up to 1 gigabyte. That's 100 to 1000 times faster than current high-speed Internet providers. Roughly translated, your cable Internet will become the equivalent of a VW jalopy.

GB2 representative Doug Adams says further details of the company's plans will be rolled out in a June public event. While the network’s rough geography has already been established, GB2 is pitting neighborhood against neighborhood to determine precisely which areas will get the service first, come fall. A wireless “umbrella” will also be established to cover areas outside those initial rollout neighborhoods, and Adams notes there will be special pricing for low-income families to access the network. Otherwise the cost will be competitive with current broadband providers. Seattle will be one of the first U.S. cities to introduce gigabyte Internet for consumer use.

Microsoft and Apple play copycat

This week the twin titans of Microsoft and Apple looked to the future by looking to each other. Both companies are primed to take a page from one another’s playbook as they move forward.

Crosscut archive image.Microsoft is rumored to be planning an iTunes-like distribution model for its Xbox One games – allowing individual encoded downloads that allow sharing only under certain conditions. Details are still being ironed out of this potential death knell to the used game industry, but needless to say, GameStop stock isn’t exactly soaring. New games for the Xbox One, which premiered last week, won't be fully released until the E3 conference in mid-June.

Meanwhile, Apple is preparing to release an overhaul of its iPhone and iPad software at its Worldwide Developers Conference on June 10. The company is keeping the details close to its chest, but reliable sources report the new system may introduce the biggest changes since iOS was first released in 2007: A new flat design that emulates Windows 8 and cuts many of the current system's textures (e.g. faux woodgrain, leather detailing, green felt, etc.).

Windows 8 hasn’t exactly set the world on fire since its release, but its bold design revamp was widely praised. This would be a step in the right direction for Apple, whose iOS has grown stale, and whose ability to shake things up has been called into question since Steve Jobs’ departure.

Personal branding tips from the deep bore tunnel

Many otherwise sane people attach personalities to inanimate objects. Your Prius is a hard worker. Your refrigerator is judging you. Your work desk is resigned to its fate.

Crosscut archive image.

However, there is now evidence that one object does in fact contain some character. And it’s about to bore a hole beneath downtown Seattle.

Bertha — the largest tunneling machine on earth — is active on Twitter, posting its thoughts in the first person and establishing quite a persona for itself. What we know so far: It is a fan of all major Seattle sports teams, Marination food trucks, the Mars Curiosity rover and world-famous groundhog Punxsutawney Phil. It enjoys the sea, and feels there is a “great vibe” at the drilling site. It also believes that dirt is “delicious,” and respects Mother’s Day.

This correspondent has been attempting to engage Bertha in conversation, on topics ranging from Boston’s Big Dig to our current mayoral race, and will keep you apprised of any responses.


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About the Authors & Contributors

Drew Atkins

Drew Atkins

Drew Atkins is a journalist and writer in Seattle, and the recipient of numerous national and regional awards. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Seattle Times, The Oregonian, InvestigateWest, Geekwire, Seattle Magazine, and others. He also previously served as the managing editor of Crosscut. He can be contacted at