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Intel Hardware

Intel Puts a PC Into an SD Card-Sized Casing 219

Posted by Soulskill
from the just-small-enough-to-fit-inside-your-eye dept.
New submitter mpicpp points out that Intel has unveiled a PC called Edison, which fits into a casing the size of an SD card. "Edison is based on Intel’s Quark chip, which it launched last year as its attempt to muscle in on that other flavour-of-the-month market: the so-called Internet of Things. It also reflects the company’s new-found keenness on the 'maker' community. Quark, a 22nm low-power x86 processor with two cores, sits inside Intel’s Arduino-compatible Raspberry Pi-alike Galileo board computer. Edison takes the same chip, connects it to a wee bit of LPDDR2 memory and Flash storage, and plugs in Bluetooth 4.0 Smart — aka LE — and Wi-Fi for broader connectivity."
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Intel Puts a PC Into an SD Card-Sized Casing

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  • Okay, kidding. But it does bring up a small question: When can these things get up enough horsepower to allow my laptop more space for battery and disk?

    (Also, how much can you cram into it before it overloads on the thermals? I can use LuxRender to destroy a full-blown i7 that way, so it's not like this is just a small CPU problem.)

    I guess it's cute and all to make tiny computers, but I'm curious as to when this will translate into something usable on the 'bigger' end, e.g. laptops and servers.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @04:45PM (#45891371)

      Yes it can. But the freaking monitor is so small that I can't see anything.

    • by spire3661 (1038968) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @04:46PM (#45891383) Journal
      If you want bigger, go with the new Bay Trail Atoms. Intel is scaling up and down the spectrum, from HPC to embedded) These particular devices are not meant for human interfacing or running a UI, but for the Internet of Things(really hate that name) and ubiquitous computing.
      • by FreeUser (11483) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @04:55PM (#45891499)

        These particular devices are not meant for human interfacing or running a UI, but for the Internet of Things(really hate that name) and ubiquitous computing.

        I share your loathing for that name. The fact is, these are intended for ubiquitious governance, where everything from a baby rattle to your keychain is a governance device designed to monitor, track, and someday soon record your every action and movement.

        The price at which we'll all be willing to sell out to this level of surveillance and control? The convinience of being able to find our car keys whenever we lose them, and monitor our babies without a baby monitor. Do it for the children, and to protect yourself from terrorists! Welcome to the future, where we are all chattel of the state, and there is no getting away.

        • Ugh, yeah, I bought a "top 25 science fiction stories of [some recent year]" book, and one author had a world where that was a thing, and all the characters(in a poor eastern European city) referred to it as such.

          It was so off putting, I almost didn't read the rest of the stories.

      • These particular devices are not meant for human interfacing or running a UI, but for the Internet of Things(really hate that name) and ubiquitous computing.

        GreenArrays chips are meant for ubiquitous computing. Bay Trail is only meant for ubiquitous computing if you have a pretty restricted interpretation of what ubiquitous means.

    • so there will be a point where upgrading ur PC is equivalent to swapping out the SD card or two? probably makes sense to have a separate SD card for GPU.

      cool.

      • by Minwee (522556)
        We will just call them Isolinear chips [memory-alpha.org] by then.
      • so there will be a point where upgrading ur PC is equivalent to swapping out the SD card or two?

        The hell with that, imagine a Beowulf cluster of these things!

        Does anyone know where I can get 24mm rackmount kits?

    • When can these things get up enough horsepower to allow my laptop more space for battery and disk?

      Convince the regular laptop makers to adopt pouch battery cells and you'll find there's already quite a bit more space available for battery. The 18650 type cells currently being used leave quite a bit of space even just inbetween themselves, not to mention all the dead space inside the housing where an 18650 simply cannot fit - but pouch cells would. That's what the thin laptops, tablets, etc. already use.

      As

      • by Penguinisto (415985) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @05:48PM (#45892077) Journal

        Did that i7 just have no cooling at all, was overclocked, or did you disable all the safeties somehow? Even the old pentium mobiles would throttle down and eventually just shut down if they got too hot - saving its own life and a world of hurt for the owner.

        It was a Samsung RC-512... it had c(sorta adequate) cooling and SpeedStep enabled, and no overclocking, but over time (around 8 months) I was forced to set processor affinity for the high-end render apps down to just half the cores, lest it just kick out and shut down the laptop.

      • by mirix (1649853)

        I've often wondered why they haven't gone to square / rectangular cells. (if they don't like li-poly bags). They do exist (most cellphones with a metal can instead of a bag are / were li-ion).

        Even square-ish 18650s should add some capacity (+25% volume, how effectively it can be used I'm unsure), and take little volume that isn't being wasted already.

    • by ackthpt (218170) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @05:10PM (#45891649) Homepage Journal

      Okay, kidding. But it does bring up a small question: When can these things get up enough horsepower to allow my laptop more space for battery and disk?

      (Also, how much can you cram into it before it overloads on the thermals? I can use LuxRender to destroy a full-blown i7 that way, so it's not like this is just a small CPU problem.)

      I guess it's cute and all to make tiny computers, but I'm curious as to when this will translate into something usable on the 'bigger' end, e.g. laptops and servers.

      Maybe if you put it in a Watch you can Overclock it.

      I'll get me coat.

    • by wiredlogic (135348) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @05:14PM (#45891687)

      It has enough horsepower today. The Mac Classic got useful work done with a 8 Mhz clock. 400MHz computers from the late 90's were usable then just as well as today. You just need to use software that is designed to use resources efficiently which is more than doable with a stripped down X11 *NIX system.

    • by 228e2 (934443)
      The application to normal laptops probably wasnt on their forefront rather than the ability to put stronger computer power in smaller (or new) places.

      Which isnt to say its not translatable, but I immediately think of the applications in things such as medical devices, autos, and hand held devices that can better utilize this.
    • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @05:30PM (#45891873)

      You're missing the point.

      They finally got the size right.
      Next they need to get the price in the under $20 range...
      Power consumption low enough that it can be powered off either ambient wifi, solar, heat exchanger... something small...

      THEN the revolution will come.

      • by Dracos (107777)

        Come on, even an Arduino Uno has an MSRP above $20.

        Intel priced their Galileo at $70 to compete with Arduino, RasPi, Teensy, BeagleBone, etc, almost all of which are less than $50. I expect Intel to price Edison even higher. If Intel really wants to be a player in the Maker segment, they've got to get serious about the price points.

        • Exactly. I can get a FreeScale FRDM-KL25Z [newark.com] for $13. For many in the hacker community, this is plenty. These other guys need to work on the pricing a little.
      • Per chip costs for embedded platforms are normally pretty cheap. As a hobyist, excluding labor, the most expensive part is board cost. Nevertheless, things like power regulators and transistors tend to add up to more than the processor. I would kill (not really NSA people) for a cheap SOC witch could drive 100mA per GPIO pin. It would certainly make working with LEDs easier.

        If you look at most things like the Arduino the component cost is minuscule compared to labor and payback for R&D. Which still

    • by hairyfeet (841228)
      Well considering its using the Quark chip which if its the same as on their Galileo board [theregister.co.uk] (seriously TFA is so light on details it might as well read "Hey we made a thing") then we are talking about a 400Mhz Pentium I here friend. With a chip THAT weak you simply aren't gonna be doing much with the thing....heck other than small embedded jobs I can't even think right off hand of any good jobs for a chip as weak as a P I. I was gonna say MP3 player but then realized most folks expect to be able to play video
  • still trying to find a use case outside the crazy data driven people and the attention starved 20 somethings who want to share everything

    • You can now wire up a computer with a full comms stack to anything cheaply and trivially and you cant see how that could reshape computing?
      • by MBGMorden (803437)

        There are some interesting applications of everything being a computer (ie, security systems, the NEST thermostats and smoke detectors), but honestly there just doesn't seem to be a need for any and everything to have a computer attached to it.

        Computers are amazing tools granted, but simply tacking one on doesn't always "improve" something.

        Granted, I will say that I have enjoyed tinkering with my Raspberry Pi(s), but they mostly just serve as cheap XBMC boxes.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by JaiWing (469698)

          It's the new clock! remember when everything was made 'new' by slapping a digital clock on it?

          'round we go again.

        • by rhsanborn (773855) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @05:56PM (#45892141)
          It's more than that, and it's silly little things we haven't thought about. Granted, we can do some of this already, but I had a use case this last week. I have a really hard time getting up in the morning when it's dark out. They make sunrise alarm clocks, but I think it would be nice to have the bedroom lights slowly dim up to simulate a sunrise and gently wake me up. (This is possible with current home automation tech)

          It might be nice to have a light sensor in my gutters that warns me if a downspout is clogged or they need cleaning before my annual fall cleanup. I have a whole house humidifier and when it gets to -10 like this week, it needs to be turned down or I get condensation on the windows. Smart things can do that for me. These are all things that ubiquitous computing can do, and that's pretty cool.
      • Considering this is intel we're talking about, allow me to express some doubts about "cheaply."

      • by alen (225700)

        so what would i do with a computer in my fridge, toaster, oven, AC, on my clothing, etc? all wired into the internet and open to hacking?
        i still need to put the toast into the toaster to actually make the toast, although i'm sure some technofiends will put the toast in, walk away and use an app via wifi to start the toasting process

        • by Baloroth (2370816)

          so what would i do with a computer in my fridge, toaster, oven, AC, on my clothing, etc? all wired into the internet and open to hacking? i still need to put the toast into the toaster to actually make the toast, although i'm sure some technofiends will put the toast in, walk away and use an app via wifi to start the toasting process

          Because one day (and it'll probably be pretty soon) you won't have to put in the toast yourself. The fridge will be able to tell you when the milk is expired, or if you need eggs (and you'll be able to look. And being able to turn on an oven on your way home after picking up, say, a take-n-bake pizza? I'd consider that useful.

          • by alen (225700)

            OMG, such an effort to wait the 15 minutes to preheat an oven. and how much are you going to pay in utility costs to have your oven on while you're commuting home? and how hard is it to notice that you only have say 2 eggs left.

            • by causality (777677)

              OMG, such an effort to wait the 15 minutes to preheat an oven. and how much are you going to pay in utility costs to have your oven on while you're commuting home? and how hard is it to notice that you only have say 2 eggs left.

              I propose the following term for those who really want this: mental obesity.

            • by Belial6 (794905)
              Are you suggesting that it costs less to have your empty oven preheating with your presence than it is without your presence? Odd.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by kylemonger (686302)

            Instead of having computers in everything, I'd rather have robot that checked the milk and all that. What we're really all hankering for are slaves^H^H^H^H^H^H robots shaped like human beings, that we don't have to feel sorry about exploiting. They'll do all the things we don't want to do and won't require everything in the house to have a battery in it. I'd much rather deal with a single robot than worry that every appliance in my home has a brain and its own agenda.

          • The Panasonic toaster oven uses two type of infrared heat to achieve instant cooking temperature -- cuts cooking time in half, under a $100 in you look around. Best of all, no microwave radiation.
          • I don't have to worry, I just prepare and cook those dishes they deliver to my door/store, serisouly it's solved, AFAI can see the automatic grocery list is a long way off. We eat better and spend a lot less time on dealing with food, at least 2 hours less per week,

            Things in my kitchen order by importance:
            1. fridge
            2. stove
            3. food delivered to my apartment/store, with 4 meals.
            4. running water

        • by Dutch Gun (899105)

          so what would i do with a computer in my fridge, toaster, oven, AC, on my clothing, etc? all wired into the internet and open to hacking?
          i still need to put the toast into the toaster to actually make the toast, although i'm sure some technofiends will put the toast in, walk away and use an app via wifi to start the toasting process

          Your fridge likely already has a computer in it. "What does more computing power for appliances give us?" is the proper question. You can think of a lot of the mundane day to day things and figure that more computing power will make a lot of it work better, while it might be completely useless for other things.

          Fridge - Precise digital control of overall temperature, and zone controls for individual areas with specialty products (for instance, bins with meat can be kept colder than bins with veggies/fruit)

          • "Clothes - I'd imagine a lot of parents would love to be able to embed small emergency tracking devices in their young children's clothes so they can quickly check up on where they are at any time without relying on an easily lost external device. Or a teenager might wish to wear a hidden cell phone in her jacket for her own protection."

            I go back and forth on this all the time. I could make and sell devices like that, but thats not the world i want to live in.
        • They'll just invent a loaf magazine and an autoloader belt. You could do it with a conveyer belt and an overhead heating element.

    • I can see medical uses for this. Imaging being able to monitor heart rate and other vitals 24/7. I had a father-in-law who could have used something like this...

      • by alen (225700)

        i can see real medical uses for this as well, but having this sold at retail will just fill up emergency rooms and doctor offices with hypochondriacs wondering why their heart rate is .0001% above last week's

        • Agreed. Technology progresses quickly. Society not so fast. In some ways this is good, but it does create face-palm moments.

      • I don't really want to know if he had a weak heart or was just quite authoritarian over his daughter...

    • by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @04:52PM (#45891441) Journal

      I think there is a world market for maybe five wearable computers

  • Oh, great. (Score:5, Funny)

    by jtownatpunk.net (245670) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @04:48PM (#45891401)

    Now I can drop my entire computer down the heater vent.

  • Strange form factor (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ksevio (865461) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @04:53PM (#45891471) Homepage
    The choice of an SD card seems like a strange form factor. As far as I've seen, they're only useful as storage devices. I guess you could put some cloud interface or image processing in it, but it doesn't look like a good choice for a raspberrypi replacement as it'd be difficult to attach anything to it.
    • Cloud Storage (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @05:14PM (#45891703)

      SDXC supports up to 2TB of storage. With Edison, that storage doesn't have to actually be in the card. Any device that can read SDXC cards could transparently access up to 2TB of cloud storage.

      • The cloud storage provider would have to "transparently" present it as an exFAT file system in order for SDXC devices to recognize it. File-level protocols don't directly map onto what an SD host (other than an SDIO host) expects. It'd also have to somehow interact with OS-side caching that doesn't expect files to change behind the host's back as long as the card isn't ejected.
    • It doesn't say "in an SD form factor". It says "the size of an SD card". Like "The size of a US quarter only not round." Or "the size of just about every microcomputer chip, like the STM32 on the board here on my desk."
      • by Timmmm (636430)

        RTFA. It's clearly in an SD form factor, or close to it.

        This isn't without president. Here's an ARM Cortex M3 with wifi in an SD card form factor that also isn't actually compatible with any SD card readers:

        https://www.sparkfun.com/products/11395 [sparkfun.com]

        I agree it is weird and confusing though. I guess it avoids the development of a new case, and the technology for packaging chips in SD card cases is mature. Also people know how small they are so you don't have to have photos of them on peoples' fingers and whatnot

      • If you look at the picture it does look pretty much like an SD card.

    • by xtal (49134)

      SD sockets are also readily available for this factor and mechanically robust. Handy if one, say, wanted to build a Beowu.. nevermind.

    • by amorsen (7485)

      It has probably been picked because all the tools are there already. Cases and connectors are easy to get, and Intel likely has lots of machines already capable of mounting things in that form factor.

      PC Card used to be a moderately popular form factor for weird small computers for the same reason.

    • by Belial6 (794905)
      It sounds like it wouldn't be a good choice because you mixed up the attachments. You don't attach things to the card. You attach the card to things.
    • Well there was the SDIO protocol as used on PDAs, although that never got anywhere. There may be something in there that will do the job.
  • Already exists. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Turns out you can install linux on a transcend wifi SD card. [hackaday.com]

    On a related note: Why am I not surprised that slashdot is months behind on this kind of thing and only report it when it becomes a slashvertisement?

  • by deconfliction (3458895) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @04:54PM (#45891479)

    "it launched last year as its attempt to muscle in on that other flavour-of-the-month market: the so-called Internet of Things."

    I had to specifically point out to the Wired.com journalist writing about my "Right To Serve" issue that he was putting the phrase "Internet of Things" into my mouth in his first draft article. The "Internet of Things" from what I can tell is the establishment dipping its toes into the wonderous waters of IPv6, but finding a way to do it without allowing the residential user to _profit in any way_ from their "internet of things". Because all profit shall be reserved for the establishment. Or so goes the party line.

    http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2013/07/google-neutrality/ [wired.com]
    http://cloudsession.com/dawg/downloads/misc/kag-draft-2k121024.pdf [cloudsession.com]
    http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2013/07/google-we-can-ban-servers-on-fiber-without-violating-net-neutrality/ [arstechnica.com]
    https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2013/08/google-fiber-continues-awful-isp-tradition-banning-servers [eff.org]
    http://crossies.com/pissed.html [crossies.com]
    http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2013/10/google-fiber-now-explicitly-permits-home-servers/ [arstechnica.com]
    http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/08/01/198327/googles-call-for-open-internet.html [mcclatchydc.com]

  • by CajunArson (465943) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @04:54PM (#45891481) Journal

    Summary didn't mention it, but it does run Linux, and having access to standard Linux on a device this small is actually a very big deal. We're talking a physical/power profile that's down at high-end Arduino levels but with vastly more powerful software capabilities.

  • by boristdog (133725) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @04:55PM (#45891491)

    Yes folks, soon you will have computers in EVERYTHING!

    Is your coffee cup empty, or nearing empty? The Internet of THINGS will give you a coffee cup with wifi and sensors so you will get a tweet on your smartphone when you are almost finished with your coffee so you can plan to get up and get a new cup!

    Is there coffee in the pot? The Internet of THINGS will have wifi and sensors in the coffee pot and let you know when it's time to make more!

    Is there coffee in the can? You guessed it! The Internet of THINGS will let you know when you need to buy more coffee!

    And this is just ONE (well, three) tiny example of how the Internet of THINGS will make your life easier!
    Soon mankind will be freed from all the drudgery of having to look in their coffee cup, of not knowing if they will have to wait several minutes for coffee to brew, or even to have to shake the coffee can to find out if there is enough coffee for another pot.

    FREEDOM!

    • by sootman (158191)

      You jest, but I'll be happy when I can know the status of every appliance, door, and window in my house from anywhere in the world, at any time. (Actual things I'm looking forward to: having the dryer ping me when it's done; making sure the front door is locked when I'm already in bed.)

      • by alen (225700)

        so if someone breaks in and robs you while you are 3000 miles away, what are you going to do? take the next plane back?
        in the old days people were friendly with neighbors who checked on their homes while they were gone

        • by Belial6 (794905)
          I am friendly with my neighbors. That's why I don't ask them to go out of their way to do me favors that I could trivially accomplish myself. It's the same reason I don't wake my wife up in the middle of the night to fetch me a glass of water if I wake up thirsty.
      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        You jest, but I'll be happy when I can know the status of every appliance, door, and window in my house from anywhere in the world, at any time. (Actual things I'm looking forward to: having the dryer ping me when it's done; making sure the front door is locked when I'm already in bed.)

        And if you know the status of everything, so can someone else hack into them (what, you think these things have security?) and get status as well. And by close examination of what goes on, figure out if it's a really someone

    • by edibobb (113989)
      No, when your cup is empty, you'll be shown an intrusive Starbucks video. The purpose of this technology is to make you a better ad target.
    • by mythosaz (572040)

      You already have computers in everything...

      ...it's the wireless that's new.

      They might not all be fully featured x86 processors, but there's already a dozen computers in my kitchen and living room embedded in all of my major appliances - and some of the minor ones.

    • by rhsanborn (773855)
      I'd love for the motion sensor in the hallway outside my door to correlate with my alarm clock and know that I just got up, and then kick on the coffee maker. Technology is supposed to make life easier, and this will help it do that.
  • by rssrss (686344) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @05:00PM (#45891543)

    This is as noted above is for embedded used. They also debuted a very small desk top:

    "Smallness uber alles: Intel's tiny, Haswell-based NUC desktop reviewed: Diminutive desktop is a workstation, game console, and HTPC all rolled into one." by Andrew Cunningham on Jan 6 2014 at http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2014/01/smallness-uber-alles-intels-tiny-haswell-based-nuc-desktop-reviewed/ [arstechnica.com].

    The dimensions of the case are:
    4.6 in. x 4.4 in. x 1.4 in.

  • ... So we put a computer inside your computer so you can have a computer run computations while you use the computer inside the computer and on the computer!

    I want to have a second computer inside my computer to do all the maintenance and shit that I don't want to do. Let the microcomputer be wired in to the PCI-Express bus with a bidirectional link and trusted association to access the files and the hardware sensors... it can do virus scans and monitor things, maybe even repair things if the main syst

  • Other applications (Score:4, Interesting)

    by istartedi (132515) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @05:09PM (#45891641) Journal

    I don't want to wear my computer or put my fridge on line. OTOH, it will be really interesting when tomorrow's geeks are able to play with entire computers on a breadboard the way we played with resistors, transistors, etc. when I was a kid.

    I keep picturing a little plastic baggy full of x86-based systems, $4.99/doz at RadioShack if they're still in business...

    • by rhsanborn (773855)
      I do want my fridge online. We went out of town once and the kids didn't shut the freezer all the way and it ran and also spoiled all the food. At the very least, we could have known and arranged to have someone go close it.
    • by Dutch Gun (899105)

      I don't want to wear my computer or put my fridge on line. OTOH, it will be really interesting when tomorrow's geeks are able to play with entire computers on a breadboard the way we played with resistors, transistors, etc. when I was a kid.

      I keep picturing a little plastic baggy full of x86-based systems, $4.99/doz at RadioShack if they're still in business...

      Systems on a chip have been around for decades. As far as I understand it (I could be wrong), this isn't really new in concept, but just in scale and scope. I remember using BASIC Stamp I/II computers as simple robotics controllers many years ago back in college. They were small processors that we programmed (in a form of BASIC, as the name suggested) via a serial cable and you could network them together, control things like stepper motors and various sensors, etc. A lot of fun.

      Back then, when a 486 66

  • by gnoshi (314933) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @05:18PM (#45891741)

    Having a sub-computer separated from the main system could be very useful for when you want to be able to perform operations without some of the data required to perform them being on the host machine. The main example I can think of for that would be password management or encryption, where you don't necessarily want either your password database or your encryption keys on the host computer but you want to be able to easily retrieve passwords or perform encryption.

    If you really wanted to, then you could use a trusted connection over the Bluetooth to require a phone to approve/deny encryption operations and/or password requests. That way, a bad app on your computer couldn't steal all your passwords without you knowing.

    Of course, this particular computer is not going to be powerful enough to perform encryption/decryption but it is an interesting direction.

    • by RR (64484)

      Of course, this particular computer is not going to be powerful enough to perform encryption/decryption but it is an interesting direction.

      Why is it not powerful enough?

      Well, of course, it can't keep up the demand for high-bandwidth encryption. For that, you need encryption built into the storage drive, or in the CPU like Intel started doing in the Westmere generation (2010).

      But it can be used for less demanding encryption. Public key cryptography was devised in the 1970's on computers far less capable than a modern smart watch. I think a computer like this could be intriguing for communicating session keys, like a Hardware Security Module, [kryptus-int.com] bu

      • by gnoshi (314933)

        You're absolutely right: I somehow misread the article to imply it was a very weak processor, which it doesn't say at all.
        It certainly has the potential to be vulnerable to side-channel attacks, which is a significant concern if it is plugged into an untrusted machine (which would be the whole point), and tools would need to be written to minimise these risks (much as they are for more ordinary machines). I don't see any particular reason it would be vulnerable to a replay attack, though (assuming you are u

  • Hey, it's all good. Once we've got fridges hooked up, coke cans and bottles, Lunchables, and every other food related item and cigarette packs, alcohol bottles, beer mugs, and so forth we can pass a law where they will integrate with our shiny Obamacare system so that your insurance can be adjusted according to what you eat! Perhaps all of our lives little details will become mandatorily given to the government for our own good - you been getting around a sleeping with some honeys (I know, this is Slashdo

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