Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband compared to a 56K dial-up modem

Our neighborhood in Jupiter, Abacoa (created by the MacArthur Foundation), is home to a Major League Baseball training stadium at which the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins practice. A light post beyond the outfield bristles with mobile phone antennae, which presumably includes one for Verizon. Sitting in the stands, exactly one baseball field away from these antennae, I was unable to use a web browser. Here’s a Speedtest result:

Decoding the above: Max signal strength. On the new 5G Ultra Wideband network that Verizon advertises. Sub-LTE download speed. Upload speed, which is presumably making it tough for me to request pages, almost the same as a 56K modem dialing up AOL on an analog phone line (see Brent Townshend’s patent filed in 1994, which kept patent litigators busy for even longer than Verizon kept me waiting for web pages).

Young people: AOL was like Facebook and Twitter except that you wouldn’t be kicked off for saying that you believed masking kindergarteners wouldn’t stop an aerosol virus. Also, the typical user didn’t spend time and energy raging against things done by governors and legislatures of states other than the user’s own.

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A 13-inch iPad costs the same as an 86-inch TV with the same capabilities

An iPad Pro costs between $1,100 and $2,200 (plus $350 for a keyboard), depending on precise configuration. It features a 12.9-inch LCD display and weighs about 1.4 lbs., making it inexpensive to pack and ship. It runs a Unix-based operating system and a bunch of apps to decode streaming digital video and paint pixels on the medium-resolution (less than 4K) screen.

What about an 86″ TV? It runs a Unix-based operating system and a bunch of apps to decode streaming digital video and paint pixels on a full 4K resolution screen. Here’s an example LG 86UN9070AUD from a recent Costco trip:

In addition to its prodigious 7′ diagonal size, it weighs 100 lbs. (130 lbs. when packaged) and therefore consumes substantial shipping and warehousing costs.

An obvious answer is that LG competes with other TV manufacturers and Apple is the only place to get a device that will run all of the apps targeted to iOS, but it still surprises me that these two items could have roughly similar prices.

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GPU performance improvements since 2015 (and why not just use motherboard graphics?)

Moore’s law says that we should get GPUs twice as fast every two years (GPUs are inherently parallel so adding more transistors should add performance). Huang’s law says that GPUs get 3X faster every two years.

Because everything desirable in this world is being scooped up by the Bitcoin enthusiasts, my seven-year-old desktop PC makes due with a seven-year-old ASUS STRIX GTX980 graphics card. It was purchased in April 2015 for $556 from Newegg.

A similar-priced card today, exactly seven years later, should be at least 10X faster, right?

The 2015 card’s benchmark:

It can do 47 frames per second with DirectX 12.

Let’s look at the $1,050 RTX 3080 for comparison. Using the same inflation rate as Palm Beach County real estate, $1,050 today is a little less than $556 in 2015 dollars.

It can do 98 frames per second with DirectX 12. Even the cards that sell for $2,000+ are only slightly faster than the RTX 3080.

I pride myself on asking the world’s dumbest questions so here goes… if building a new PC for activities other than gaming or video editing, why not use the integrated graphics on the motherboard? The latest motherboards will drive 4K monitors. The latest CPUs have a lot of cores, especially AMD’s, so they should be competent at tasks that are easy to parallelize. Back in 2020, at least, a graphics card was only about 2X the speed of AMD’s integrated graphics (Tom’s Hardware). Intel, it seems, skimps in this department.

One argument against this idea for those who want a fast desktop PC is that the fastest CPUs don’t seem to come with any integrated graphics. The AMD Threadrippers, for example, say “discrete graphics card required”. The Intel Core i9 CPUs with up to 16 cores do generally have “processor graphics”, but does it make sense to buy Intel? AMD’s CEO is frequently celebrated for identifying as a “woman” (example from IEEE, which does not cite any biologists) while Intel’s CEO identifies as a surplus white male. Tom’s Hardware says that the latest Intel CPUs are actually faster for gaming: “Intel holds the lead in all critical price bands … In terms of integrated graphics performance, there’s no beating AMD. The company’s current-gen Cezanne APUs offer the best performance available from integrated graphics with the Ryzen 7 5700G and Ryzen 5 5600G.”

Is the right strategy for building a new PC, then, to get the Ryzen 7 Pro 5750G (available only in OEM PCs; the 5700G is the home-builder’s version) and then upgrade to a discrete graphics card if one needs more than 4K resolution and/or if the Bitcoin craze ever subsides? The Ryzen 7 fits into an AM4 CPU socket so it won’t ever be possible to swap in a Threadripper. This CPU benchmarks in at 3337 (single thread)/25.045 (the 5700G is just a hair slower and can be bought at Newegg for $300). The absolute top-end Threadripper PRO (maybe $10,000?) is no faster for a single thread, but can run 4X faster if all 128 threads are occupied. What about the Intel i7 5820K that I bought in 2015 for $390? Its benchmark is 2011 for a single thread and 9,808 if all 12 threads are occupied.

(For haters who are willing to pass up chips from a company led by a strong independent woman, the Intel i9-12900KS is about $600 and includes “processor graphics” capable of driving monitors up to 7680×4320 (8K) via DisplayPort. It can run up to 24 threads.)

These seem like feeble improvements considering the seven years that have elapsed. I guess a new PC could be faster due to the faster bandwidth that is now available between the CPU and the M.2 SSDs that the latest motherboards support. But why are people in such a fever to buy new PCs if, for example, they already have a PC that is SSD-based? Is it that they’re using the home PC 14 hours per day because they don’t go to work anymore?


  • Best Integrated Graphics (from Feb 2022; AMD Vega 11 is the winner)
  • ASUS “gaming desktop” with the Ryzen 7 5700G and also a GTX 3060 graphics card (could this ever make sense? Is there any software that can use both the GPU packaged with the CPU and simultaneously the GPU that is in the graphics card?)
  • William Shockley, who needs to be written out of transistor history: “Shockley argued that a higher rate of reproduction among the less intelligent was having a dysgenic effect, and that a drop in average intelligence would ultimately lead to a decline in civilization. … Shockley also proposed that individuals with IQs below 100 be paid to undergo voluntary sterilization”
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People who were afraid to leave their bunkers for two years want to wear the same watch as the Apollo 11 astronauts

Two Apollo 11 astronauts wore the Omega Speedmaster after riding the Saturn V to the moon. Swatch has recently released a replica “moon watch”. Demand for these watches, and an association with the men who were brave enough to go into space, was overwhelming (Daily Mail). I would love to know how many of those who are donning the Watch of Bravery were cowering in place for two years, wearing an N95 mask while walking in the woods, etc.

Here are the original and copy side-by-side:

If you got some of the $500 billion in fraud from the PPP and other Covid relief programs, you might prefer this $45,300 gold version that is so white it looks like inexpensive stainless steel (so the Justice Department won’t suspect you!):

Which one would I choose if I were going into space? None of the above! Everything in aviation is done with UTC so I’d want a 24-hour hand or a 24-hour digital display of UTC in addition to the 12-hour local time. Torgoen makes a lot of these (quartz movements) and, if you want to spend 30X as much to get the same function, the Rolex Explorer II (except that it will cost you 50X as much and you’ll have to accept a used one because new Rolexes, all million/year that they make, are sold out (at least one to this guy who got caught defrauding PPP)).

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Who has ordered Jeremy’s Razors?

A reader sent the following:

The product can be ordered at

Based on the photos, it doesn’t look like this is yet another private-label Dorco (the Korean experts behind the marketeers at Dollar Shave Club).

The commercial is fun and the product description includes “It identifies as the best shave kit ever assembled and its preferred pronouns are Buy/Now.” However, I’m not convinced it is worth $60 (8 blades, handle, and some shaving cream in a “socialism-resistant bag”). The comparable Dorco product has a trimmer on the back, a “3D Motion” handle, and is available on Amazon for $23 (then every time you stop at CVS for a COVID-19 vaccine booster pick up some Edge, which is no doubt superior to Jeremy’s cream). Dorco hasn’t taken any position on American politics as far as I know. If you’re in Maskachusetts and need to disguise the fact that you’re not using Gillette anymore, put all of the above in this zippered pouch:

Update: for those who wondered about where razors are made, I did some exhaustive Scientific research (i.e., drove to CVS). I found Gillette products made in China (the latest and greatest “GilletteLabs” razor) and Germany (the core Fusion5 cartridges).


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What happens to all of the Aeron and Steelcase chairs?

Coronapanic shut down America’s offices. It seems that a lot of us aren’t going back to work in the office or back to work ever. BLS:

If office buildings are turned into warehouses, apartments, etc., what happens to all of the Herman Miller and Steelcase high-end desk chairs? Unlike anything from IKEA, the $1,000 Leap v2.0 chair from Steelcase seems to be readily available as an “open box” item from Madison Seating (they fell off the back of a truck?). New chairs are also available at Amazon. In a world where nothing is in stock, this suggests that there is a glut of ergonomic chairs.

Wirecutter’s best office chair for 2022, the Steelcase Gesture, is also in stock at Amazon. Ditto for their budget pick, the HON Ignition 2.0.

Could there be a business in exporting all of our high-end office chairs to countries where people still work in-person, e.g., China?

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The latest and greatest in Personal Locator Beacons

The mobile data/voice network in the United States is spotty (in fact, there are plenty of places near our house in flat thickly-settled Jupiter, Florida where it is impossible to get data service from Verizon Wireless). This leads to occasional tragedies such as the family that died on a Northern California hiking trial last summer. For aviation and boating enthusiasts, the chance of being out of cellphone coverage in the event of a serious problem is rather high. Consequently, it makes sense to carry a Personal Locator Beacon. These are about the size of a mobile phone, but can summon rescue from anywhere with a clear view of the sky via a 406 MHz signal to a satellite network. They cost $250-400 typically.

The batteries expire after 6 years and by then it might make sense to get an upgraded version rather than send the old one back for replacement batteries and re-waterproofing.

My choice this year, which I’m definitely hoping never to use during flights over the Everglades, to the Keys, and out to the Caribbean, is the ACR PLB 425 ResQLink View. If you want to buy it straight from ACR, use “10OFFACR” to get a 10 percent discount (they sent me the code after I bought mine direct from them in order to be sure of getting the freshest battery and therefore longest life). This one is basically the same as previous ACR units, which are kind of a standard due to inherent buoyancy while being reasonably compact, but it has a small display that explains what the device is doing, e.g., “GPS Acquiring” and “406 Sent!”. The device also has a built-in strobe to help the Coast Guard find you at night in your Survival Products raft (Switlik would be better, but their rafts are too heavy and bulky for four-seat airplanes).

I hope this blog post inspires at least one reader to check the battery expiration date on his/her/zir/their PLB. If so, I will have potentially saved at least one life and therefore this post can be considered as effective as a mask order for 333 million Americans.

(There is a $50/year subscription service where testing the PLB results in some email and text messages being sent out. Potentially useful for peace of mind before heading out over the Caribbean, but the rescue process is the same if you don’t pay for the subscription.)


  • About the same price to buy, but $180 per year to maintain, the Garmin InReach lets you communicate via the Iridium satellites. (I don’t think this a substitute for a PLB because it requires charging and everything that can be discharged when you need it will be discharged when you need it.)
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Innovations in shaving gear since 2019?

It has been more than three years since Gillette paid huge TV ad dollars to teach Americans that masculinity was generally toxic. This prompted the following posts here:

It certainly seems fair to say that in 2020, SARS-CoV-2 showed Gillette what something that was truly toxic to humans looked like.

What have ingenious humans developed in the three years since this flurry of posts and the research behind them?

Gillette seems to be stuck on the same “Fusion 5 ProShield with Flexball” that I tested against Dorco in early 2019. They have a “GilletteLabs” heated razor, but it doesn’t seem to have made it into the mainstream (Wirecutter did not like it back in 2019). Dorco has a new-ish “Pace 6 Pro 3D Motion” that seems like a copy of Gillette’s FlexBall (this can be used with the 7-blade cartridges or the 6-blade ones that include a trimmer on the back, just like Gillette’s top-of-the-line).

Is it fair to say that there is no room for improvement?

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Who has recently switched from Verizon to T-Mobile?

We are in an abusive relationship with Verizon right now. They gaslight us by showing at least 2 bars of 5G service in our neighborhood (Abacoa; part of Jupiter, Florida) and at the beach, but, in fact it isn’t possible to view a Web page, use Google Maps, or send a photo via iMessage. I upgraded from an iPhone 12 to an iPhone 13 and the behavior is the same.

Rumor has it that T-Mobile runs a superior network in the Palm Beach area. So… who has recently switched from VZ to T-Mobile and how did it go? Verizon seemed like a better choice in the pre-coronapanic days because they had better coverage in out-of-the-way places where travelers might find themselves. But for the next 5 years of 14 days to flatten the curve I expect that I’ll be mostly walking distance from our apartment.

For our brothers, sisters, and binary-resisters who are shoveling snow in the Northeast and showing their vaccine papers… our neighborhood in December:


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Is 5G a total fraud?

Mobile phone service back in Maskachusetts was generally terrible, whether the iPhone 12 Pro Max indicated “LTE” or “5G” up at the top right. I attributed this to hills generating multipath and the righteous demanding that cell towers be built in someone else’s town.

We’re living in Florida, though, where a municipal landfill is the only hill, and the government encourages any kind of useful infrastructure. I think that all of the preconditions for awesome mobile data service have been fulfilled:

  • I’m fully vaccinated and so is our golden retriever, Mindy the Crippler
  • The Verizon bill is on autopay
  • the iPhone usually shows 3 or 4 bars of 5G
  • there are no tall buildings or hills around

Yet the service simply doesn’t work. It can take minutes to send a single photo via iMessage, for example. Looking up stuff on Google can be impossible. Navigating via Google Maps results in an “offline” display, even when the phone shows 3 bars of 5G.

Could it be that there is a working LTE service in most locations, but the phone sees 5G and latches onto it even when the 5G radios are simply broken? I’ve experimented with telling the phone to use LTE only, but that didn’t seem to help. Sometimes the Verizon network yields impressive numbers on a Speedtest, comparable to high quality home broadband circa 2010, but for any given request it is unpredictable whether it will take a fraction of a second or minutes.

Is this issue unique to my iPhone 12 and it will be #ProblemSolved when I upgrade to the glorious world of iPhone 13? Or are other folks having similar issues (3 or 4 bars of coverage yet it is tough to download an ordinary web page)?

Waiting for a page to load on 5G:


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