Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Thursday, December 23, 2021

Long ago, in a blog far far away, I took note of the progressively decreasing personal space we demand for accomodating our out-of-home telephone calls. In a nutshell: We’ve gone from spacious phone booths circa 1900, to cramped booths, to open-air kiosks, to no-cover mobile phones.

In the wake of too many too-audible public phone conversations, the trend may be reversing. Cellphone “hideaway” booths are cropping up in Chicago and other cities, providing private enclosures for both the conversants and the people around them.

The demand appears to be there:

A recent Sprint Corp. survey says that 98 percent of Americans go to another room or outside when talking on a cell phone and that 77 percent have had to listen to a toilet flush while having an important conversation on a cell phone.

With all the people you encounter who appear to have absolutely no compunction about chattering away regardless of surroundings, it’s hard to believe that so many people would feel this level of self-consciousness. But I guess there’s a relatively small percentage of graceless clods out there — they just tend to be more noticable.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 12/23/2004 11:14:57 PM
Category: Society, Tech
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I’ve always suspected that the deluge of email gives time away from work a bit of a treacherous edge. Many professionals devise ways to cope with the mountains of messages that lurk in their inboxes after vacationtime is over

I’m glad I’m not the only one who dreads coming back to the office to find an overflowing inbox. Frankly, it’s impacted the way I take time off: Most of the time, I’d rather knock off on a Wednesday or Thursday, rather than come back after a three- or four-day weekend and find a couple of hundred pieces of spam to wade through.

And it is the spam that does it. Even with very stringent filters (which I noticed were bolstered over the past week, probably in anticipation of most people being out of the office), I still get at least 5-10 spams every night, and more on the weekends. I don’t have nearly that kind of problem with legit emails, even during non-holiday times.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 12/23/2004 08:56:29 PM
Category: Business, Internet
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The freakish winter weather is causing all kinds of delays during this, the busiest travel period of the year.

I experienced it second-hand. This morning, I was supposed to do an airport run to Tampa International for my friend Kirby on an 11:30 AM flight to Detroit. Just as I got to his house, the flight was delayed by an hour. Then it became two. We wound up killing time by going out for lunch and watching TV. The flight time finally stablized at 3:13 PM. Hopefully he got to the Motor City without further incident.

Makes me glad I opted not to travel for the holidays. If only it were warm enough out to get some sun… but you can’t have everything.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 12/23/2004 08:35:35 PM
Category: Weather
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I caught a large chunk of PBS’ “The Elegant Universe” the other night. It dealth with how string theory holds the promise of explaining the elusive grand unifed theory for physics.

Much of it is over my head, but I find it fascinating.

While watching, I wondered if there was a compelling reason for pursuing a unifying theory for everything in creation. Does it necessarily follow that there must be just one framework for explaining everything in the universe?

Given the holiday season, I suspect the traditional Judeo-Christian-Islamic monotheistic worldview may be as much a motivation for seeking a single, elusive solution. By contrast, Eastern philosophies accept a more multi-layered view of existence; I wonder if scientific inquiry in those cultures is as fixated on a unifying theory.

In short, is it possible that the assumption of a single theory for unravelling all is, at root, false? Why can’t there be multiple modes of behavior for different forces of nature like gravity, electromagnetic force and others, all co-existing in some harmony?

Keep in mind, this questioning is coming from a layman’s perspective. There may be some perfectly logical reason why there has to be a single unifying theory. But it’s intriguing to think that, maybe, Western philosophical fundamentals are coloring this research.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 12/23/2004 07:53:29 PM
Category: Science
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Sticks of Fire beat me to the punch, but I’ll help spread the word: Courtesty of local b2b ISP Sago Networks, a big chunk of downtown Tampa will become a free wi-fi hotspot within a couple of weeks.

Louis Hau has a nice writeup with far more detail and background on this in today’s St. Petersburg Times. However, in what’s becoming a trend at the paper, it appears to have missed the online editors’ purview. Some of the main points:

- The hotspot is envisioned to stretch from Port of Tampa to the Hillsborough River. Lykes Gaslight Square Park, Channel District and University of Tampa are hooked up right now.

- To minimize network congestion, Sago plans to limit the free access time to one hour per user; after a thirty-minute break, the user can then re-login for an additional hour, ad infinitum.

Basically, this setup would be ideal for people on the go who just need to spot-check online information, rather than someone who wants to just lounge around surfing. If this is feasible, it could be an ideal way to co-exist with pay-for w-fi providers like Starbucks.

- Tampa Downtown Partnership will be marketing the hotspot. That’s crucial for getting the word out to the business community.

- Tampa’s unwiring brings to mind St. Pete’s stillborn wi-fi idea for its downtown. St. Pete’s point man, Don Shea, says that a provider has been lined up, and their planning to bring it online in the near future. Coverage would start around BayWalk, then spread to the waterfront and other points downtown.

I’m of the opinion that St. Pete hasn’t been doing jack. The only time Shea mentions anything about it is when the newspaper prompts him. I’ll believe it when I see it, and I’m not expecting to see it anytime soon. Then again, if Tampa’s hotspot takes off and earns accolades, it’ll spur St. Pete to actually do something.

It’ll be nice to see the Tampa plan go live. I’m wondering if it would be able to handle a huge load of users, but that may not be a concern: Like I said, it’ll be geared more toward short-duration Web access users.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 12/23/2004 07:09:43 PM
Category: Florida Livin', Wi-Fi
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When Philip Anschutz bought the San Francisco Examiner for $20 million earlier this year, I figured it would take some creative business strategy to revive the once-dominant paper’s fortunes:

Can he resurrect the Examiner to something close to its former glory? It’ll be tough. Hearst isn’t going to sit back and let its Chronicle dominance wither. It also depends on how Anschutz wants to play this game: Does he want to invest a ton of capital into this venture, perhaps making it a foundation for broader media holdings? I’m thinking he’ll have to take some unconventional routes to building the paper back up again.

It may not be that unconventional, but the application for local-area Examiner trademarks in 63 cities around the U.S. indicates that Anschutz is planning to use the paper’s brand as the foundation for a nationwide publication.

Philip Anschutz’s Clarity Media Group has applied for trademarks for The Examiner. St. Petersburg and The Examiner. Tampa, along with similarly styled titles for Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Las Vegas, New York, Philadelphia, Orlando, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Palm Beach and dozens of other cities.

Anschutz spokesman Jim Monaghan described the filings as “prudent business.” He said the cities were selected because their demographics make them places the company might be interested in doing business.

“It’s a looking-for-opportunities type of thing,” he said. “I would not infer that anything is going to be happening any time soon.”

But the applications are intriguing because trademarks can have a limited shelflife. In order to fully secure a trademarked name, it must be used, raising questions about why Anschutz’s company would go to the trouble of protecting a name unless it has plans to use it.

And that’s the key: Even though it’s a minimal investment to get a trademark, the time limit attached hints at fairly imminent launch of product.

The question then is: What sort of product will it be?

Media observers say it is likely that any expansion would involve free products. Media broker J. Patrick “Rick” Michaels, who heads Communications Equity Associates in Tampa, said he considers it very unlikely that anyone would launch a third paid circulation daily newspaper in the Tampa Bay area.

“You’ve got the St. Pete Times and the Tribune killing each other,” he said. “I can’t imagine anybody in their right mind coming in here to start a paper.”

The Tampa Bay area also has numerous free publications, which typically are heavy on advertising and targeted to a niche market or a smaller geographic area. Some of those are owned by the Times Publishing Co., publisher of the St. Petersburg Times, including the recently launched tbt*.

Michaels said Anschutz might also have a Web-based publication in mind.

The pieces fit together too perfectly: Assuming these local Examiners are going to be targeted toward specific demographics — young adults, commuters, etc. — setting up a nationwide chain of publications would make ad sales a lot easier. Large advertisers like to target audiences almost independently of geography, because it streamlines the process. Buying ad space in a network of papers that has a single sales channel is preferable to dealing with dozens of individual publications and other outlets. All Anschutz would have to do is establish the papers in each market, which would be helped along via a healthy capital infusion and any synergistic opportunities with his other media holdings.

If this actually comes off in the Tampa Bay area, I’d guess it would bode ill for tbt*, the St. Petersburg Times’ recently-launched free weekly. It’s still trying to gain traction against the established Weekly Planet, so added competition in the form of a nationally-supported publication wouldn’t be welcomed. (The Planet wouldn’t like the competition either, but it’s got a longer track record to anchor itself.)

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 12/23/2004 05:59:16 PM
Category: Publishing
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shiny happy
You do a couple of book reviews, and you get season’s greetings in return. Kelly Leonard and the gang at Time Warner Book Group sent me a nice holiday card based on artwork from Todd Parr’s “The Peace Book”. From the looks of it, it would make a cute book for young and old.

This card marks the very first piece of postal mail I’ve received addressed to “Population Statistic” (even the review books I got earlier this year didn’t include the blog’s title on the address label). Handwritten, no less. It gives me a funny feeling to see it in an offline context; it makes it more “real”, in a sense.

Take note: By singling out this holiday card, I’m not dissing all the other cards and letters I’ve received and will receive from friends and family. They all rule.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 12/23/2004 05:03:53 PM
Category: Book Review, Creative
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out damn sin!
My friend Kirby picked up this “Wash Away Your Sins Towelette” at some novelty store, figuring it would be right up my alley.

It was.

Here are the directions for use:

1. Remove moist towelette
2. Devoutly wipe away wrong-doing
3. Spot check for stubborn guilt
4. Wipe again as needed
5. Discard sins in waste receptacle
6. Go forth purified & moisturized

Natural outlet for these soul-scrubbing sanitary naps? Strip clubs, since everything from the girls to the upholstery tends to be iffy, both morally and hygienically. Think of the sense of satisfaction!

In order to wipe out all of my sins, I’d need about a 100-pack of these little things (or maybe a beachtowel-sized version). Fortunately, there’s a wide selection of additional sin-cleaning products.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 12/23/2004 03:48:32 PM
Category: Comedy
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