Two Bits of Life-Getting-Better Tech News

America is not in decline! Latest evidence.
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1) Amtrak suddenly has much better Wi-Fi service on some routes -- starting with the Acela I am taking right now from DC to NY. Of course I admit that griping about the speed and reliability of a (free) Wi-Fi service, on a moving train, epitomizes having too few real problems to gripe about. But until recently the service really had been so slow and unreliable that I wished Amtrak would not even advertise it. That way, people who got any connection at all would feel lucky, rather than people expecting connections staring in frustration at their screens.


Now, it seems fast! And still free. Impressive, and congrats.

2) Twitter introduces two-step verification. Good for Twitter! I won't lead you down the path of my 739 previous posts about why you really should turn on Google's free two-step verification system for your mail account and other online data. Instead I will simply refer you to the report released today by the Commission on Theft of American Intellectual Property, headed by former Ambassador/ Governor Jon Huntsman and former Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair. If you read that and don't then turn on two-step protection, you are some kind of commie. Or terrorist. You have been warned.
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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.

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