AT&T Runs Up Your Bills, Surgeons Separate Conjoined Twins, a New Semiconductor Shortage

I’m worn out y’all! I’m prepping for a big conference in Baltimore, and I’ve already hit 40. So, I’m running late on production for The Cloud. But the show must go on, because the tech world can’t stop, won’t stop.

Another week with  Mark Starling, John, and the First News 570 crew. This week’s top tech news: AT&T runs up customer bills with fake $1.99 charge, a new semiconductor shortage looms on the horizon, and surgeons separate conjoined twins using virtual reality. You can listen to me and Mark Starling point and laugh at all things tech every Thursday at 643 am ET live on the radio or the iHeartRadio app.

The Chip Was Conceived to Boost Semiconductor Competitiveness


AT&T has been charging customers with a $1.99 administrative charge to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. In 2018, a California class action lawsuit was filed against ATT on behalf of AT&T post paid customers. According to ATT’s own records, it was bilking customers an average for $180 since 2015. In May, lawyers for California and ATT reached a settlement agreement to pay a paltry $14 million to customers who have been billed. That’s between $15 and $29 per customer. And get this, they can still bill the ridiculous fee based upon the settlement. Furthermore, subscribers won’t get a check. It’ll appear as a credit on their AT&T bill only to have AT&T take it right back. This is one of the most ridiculous settlements ever made.


On Monday, Brazilian surgeons separated twins, Bernard and Arthur Lima, apart using virtual reality technology. The surgeons spent months simulating the surgery using virtual projections based on CT and MRI scans. The surgeries took place in Rio de Janeiro with direction from Great Ormond Street Hospital in London. Think about it, two sets of surgical teams, communicated using Internet technologies, all the while wearing their own VR headsets. The twins underwent 7 surgeries, with over 27 hours of operating time, and 100 medical staff between two countries. These are the real potentials of technology. Not just bilking people for dollars. This is why I got into this stuff.


This time because of trade policy. A day after President Biden signed The Chip Act, legislation designed to increase US microchip and semiconductor manufacturing capabilities, a short term threat to microchip shortages is a possibility. New export restrictions that will block companies based in US and allied countries from exporting semiconductor manufacturing equipment may lead to short term delays. At issue, is that everything in the Chip Act will take time. US companies such as Intel, AMD, Motorola, Qualcomm, and others have focused their design operations in the US and relied on other countries in Taiwan and…China to manufacture their designs. Right now, Taiwan is the world’s largest chip exporter, and many US companies have invested billions of dollars in China to make chips there. If export restrictions take effect, the cost and supply of chips will be impacted while US manufacturing ramps up.

My take on this, is that it’s flighty and foolish to over rely on external countries for critical items. Cheap prices, low environmental regulations, and rely lax import restrictions have led us to a point where the US can only design but can’t make.

It’s a matter of national economic security to retain industries stateside. I get economics, scale, and optimum effort, but geopolitical winds shift in a heart beat. It only makes to retain expertise for all parts of vertical integration in your own country.

I have to issue an apology. The Cloud was late going up this month. We had a last minute guest and it takes time to produce a show. The Cloud will be up and online for your listening pleasure before the weekend is out.

Thanks for listening to The Cloud and reading the blog.



Demystifying Computing

Have you ever looked at the screen and wondered what’s going on in there? Coming in time for the holidays, Seven Brief Lessons on Computing is a fast and entertaining read that shares how computers work for the curious.

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