Spinning a Faster Web

A technology that is speeding up the developing world's internet connections. Internet connections in the...

A technology that is speeding up the developing world's internet connections.Internet connections in the developing world are getting a boost thanks to a technology conceived to improve corporate IT. In Africa's colleges, for example, internet connections are split between so many users that speeds would remind Americans of surfing on Prodigy. HashCache, a computing method developed by a team at Princeton University to store internet data in a more efficient way, could jolt those connections and cut costs.Here's how it works: When you call up a website, you don't download all the content directly from the site. Rather, the request goes through a proxy server, which stores oft-accessed information on web pages-a process called "caching." "If you go to CNN.com now and then go to CNN.com later, the proxy stores pages on CNN.com that haven't changed," explains Anirudh Badam, a computer science graduate student at Princeton. Proxies store data using a process involving expensive random access memory. A lot of RAM requires a bigger box, so proxies are typically large and hard to maintain. In the developing world, one proxy typically serves multiple schools, further slowing connection speeds.HashCache uses a more efficient method to access stored files, cutting all but a tenth of the RAM out of the caching process. This makes the information easier for multiple computers to access more quickly, speeding up slow connections and taking up less space. A push from One Laptop Per Child's former VP of software engineering, Jim Gettys, convinced the Princeton group that the developing world needed its tech. Using HashCache, a school can use a single laptop (capable of caching the entirety of Wikipedia) as its own proxy. Universities in Ghana and Nigeria are currently using HashCache, and Badam reports that the technology is now bundled with OLPC's efforts. "As soon as OLPC deployed, we made arrangements to deploy HashCache," says Badam, adding that schools in Peru and Uruguay are now making arrangements to procure laptops. "By the end of August or September this year, we may make a huge deployment."Photo by One Laptop per Child (via Flickr)Return to interactive site


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WITI Milwaukee

Joey Grundl, a pizza delivery driver for a Domino's Pizza in Waldo, Wisconsin, is being hailed as a hero for noticing a kidnapped woman's subtle cry for help.

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Rochester NY Airport Security passing insulting notes to travelers caught on tape www.youtube.com

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Coal mining is on the decline, leaving many coal miners in West Virginia without jobs. The Mine Safety and Health Administration says there are about 55,000 positions, and just 13,000 of those jobs are in West Virginia. The dwindling amount of work is leaving some struggling to make a living, but the Appalachian Beekeeping Collective is giving those coal miners a way to find new jobs and make a supplemental income as coal mining diminishes.

The Appalachian Beekeeping Collective trains coal miners and other low-income residents in mining communities to keep bees. Some coal miners are getting retrained to work in the tech industry, however beekeeping allows coal miners to continue to work in a job that requires a similar skill set. "The older folks want to get back to work, but mining is never going to be like it was in the '60s and '70s, and there is nothing to fall back on, no other big industries here, so all of these folks need retraining," former coal miner James Scyphers told NPR. "Beekeeping is hands-on work, like mining, and requires on-the-job training. You need a good work ethic for both."

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Hermine Ricketts and Tom Carroll had been growing a front yard garden for 17 years, but in 2013, Miami Shores changed its city ordinance, making the activity illegal. The new city ordinance said that backyard vegetable gardens were a-OK, but Ricketts and Carroll couldn't keep a garden in their backyard because it didn't get enough sun. So the couple could either dig up their garden or face $50 in daily fines for letting it continue to grow. The couple opted to do neither and instead, they sued the city.

Ricketts and Carroll took their case to the Florida Supreme Court. Initially, the courts sided with Miami Shores, but the fight wasn't over. Florida State Senator Rob Bradley introduced legislation preventing "a county or municipality from regulating vegetable gardens on residential properties." Earlier this year, the Senate passed the bill 35-5.

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