The internet really is a series of tubes | The Vergecast

The internet really is a series of tubes | The Vergecast

Intro (00:00:00)

  • David Pierce discusses his recent gadget boredom and how he changes things like monitor stands, lock screens, and watch faces to make his devices feel new.
  • He mentions that buying a new case or removing the case can also give a device a new feel.
  • Pierce emphasizes that these changes are more cost-effective than buying new gadgets.
  • The Verge's Josh Jezza has reported on the importance of undersea cables in the infrastructure of the internet.
  • These cables connect the world and are crucial for global communication.
  • The discussion will explore how undersea cables work and the challenges of maintaining them.
  • Microsoft believes that the next generation of Qualcomm chips could bring Windows computers on par with the latest Apple Macs in terms of performance.
  • If Qualcomm chips meet expectations, they could significantly change the PC landscape.
  • Tom Warren and Joanna Neas will discuss the potential impact of these chips on the PC industry.
  • The Vergecast will address a hotline question about e-readers.

Undersea cables w/Josh Dzieza (00:02:44)

  • Undersea cables, composed of fiber optic strands, form the backbone of the internet and transmit data across vast distances.
  • These cables span the globe, connecting major population centers, and support various services like YouTube, TikTok, financial data transfers, and international communication.
  • Despite their critical role, undersea cables are surprisingly thin and prone to frequent breaks, primarily caused by fishing vessels and natural disasters.
  • The maintenance industry is small, with only around a thousand people globally, and operates a fleet of 22 ships to repair cable faults.
  • Repairing cables involves splicing fibers with precision, similar to neurosurgery, while on a rocking ship in the middle of the ocean.
  • The process of repairing a submarine cable is time-consuming and can take days or even weeks due to the massive scale of the operation and the challenges of working in deep water.
  • The location of undersea cables is not widely known, and there is debate about whether their locations should be kept secret or made public.
  • People who work in the cable maintenance industry often stumble into it and tend to stay for a long time, despite the difficult lifestyle and limited communication.

Windows on Arm could finally beat Apple (00:40:41)

  • Microsoft believes that Qualcomm-powered PCs with ARM-based chips can match the performance of Apple's latest Macs and provide an alternative to Intel x86, AMD, and Apple chips.
  • The shift towards ARM-based architectures aims to improve AI workload handling, potentially leading to lower prices and better performance for AI-related tasks.
  • Microsoft's latest attempt, the Snapdragon X Elite chip, aims to bridge the performance gap with Apple's chips, offering increased portability and longer battery life if it can match the battery life and performance of Apple's M3E chip.
  • Qualcomm needs to improve its chip naming scheme to compete effectively with Apple.
  • Microsoft is developing new devices with Qualcomm's Snapdragon processors to match or exceed the performance of Apple's M3 chips, focusing on running AI models locally on devices for increased power consumption and potential leaps in laptop performance demands.
  • The challenge for Windows is to provide new AI features while supporting legacy applications crucial for many users.
  • Microsoft's AI Explorer feature showcases the integration of local compute and cloud queries for enhanced device functionality.
  • The Qualcomm chips, if they meet expectations, could bring improvements in efficiency, performance, and battery life, but the hardware design of PCs is unlikely to change drastically.
  • Software advancements, particularly how Windows leverages the new chips, will likely be the key differentiator for future PCs.

Is the Boox Palma worth it? (Vergecast Hotline) (01:06:45)

  • Alex Cranz and Nilay Patel discuss e-readers and their features on the Vergecast podcast.
  • A listener named Tony seeks advice on choosing a multi-format compatible e-reader, considering the Kindle and Kobo options.
  • Alex recommends the Kobo Clara 2 for its built-in overdrive and lightweight design, while acknowledging the new Kobo Color e-reader's color screen limitations.
  • Color e-ink technology has improved but still faces challenges in pixel density and color vibrancy.
  • The iPad Mini is suggested as an alternative, offering a different price point and battery life.
  • Choosing an e-reader often leads to selecting an ecosystem due to difficulties in transferring books between platforms.
  • Kobo is seen as more innovative in the e-reader space compared to Amazon.
  • The Palma e-reader gains popularity as a small, pocketable device using e-ink technology.
  • Despite running on Android 11, the Palma is expected to receive long-term software updates due to Android's fragmented nature.
  • The Books e-reader is an Android-based e-ink tablet with a custom launcher optimized for e-ink displays but faces maintenance challenges.
  • Smaller e-readers like the Kindle Scribe excel in reading PDFs due to their larger screens.
  • The PocketBook Libra offers a comfortable reading experience with its built-in handle and buttons.
  • The Boox Palma stands out as a popular e-reader with a unique design and impressive features.
  • Listeners can find more information on the discussed topics at
  • The Vergecast team, including Andrew Marino, Liam James, and Will Por, produces the podcast, which will return on Friday with AI news and gadget discussions.

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