Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Monday, November 19, 2021

lap it up!
In a rare instance of me actually following up on a good intention: I’ve just plunked down my purchase-price donation for the One Laptop Per Child “Give One, Get One” program.

Now it’s your turn. So go ahead! Don’t wait too long, because the offer window expires on November 26th.

No, it’s not exactly cheap: With shipping for the XO Laptop to be delivered to your door, the total bill comes to a little over 400 bucks. But half of that will be tax-deductible, which is a big part of what I was after. Along with potentially helping some kid in a United Nations-defined Least Developed Country get a leg up on his/her future; and of course, getting my hands on an intriguing tech toy.

If all that’s not incentive enough, T-Mobile is sweetening the pot with a free one-year subscription to its HotSpot wi-fi access service. So if you’re spending inordinate amounts of time in Starbucks anyway, you can start visiting with your extra XO computer and actually surf the Web while you sip. And get plenty of interesting glances due to the laptop’s unique design, no doubt… (The HotSpot access is not as big a hook for me, since I’ll soon have free wireless access throughout midtown at my disposal; but a freebie is a freebie — even if it’s designed to lure me into paying for it after the year is up.)

All told, not a bad way to give a little something back. I’m looking forward to the next steps.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 11/19/2007 11:36:45 PM
Category: Society, Tech
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flex in flux
So yeah, I watched the Patriots pummel Buffalo 56-10 last night. Most of it, anyway.

And I wondered: Is this sort of game, whose lopsidedness you could see coming a mile away, really in the spirit of what the NFL’s flex-scheduling television formula was supposed to achieve (New England’s march toward an undefeated season notwithstanding)?

Call me crazy, but I thought the intent of flexible broadcasts was to showcase relevant/competitive matchups in primetime, thus avoiding late-season Sunday Night Football yawners between teams with a combined three wins.

Instead, it seems NBC is putting the premium on the probability of a scorefest — one-sided or not. At least that’s how I’m reading the likely flex invocations for the remainder of the season (I’ve removed the referenced team records, since they were two weeks old as of this writing):

- Week 13. NBC has Cincinnati at Pittsburgh. Not bad. Jacksonville at Indianapolis, seems better — but CBS has that protected. Fox put dibs on New York Giants at Chicago. Meaning, NBC might lobby for Fox’s Detroit at Minnesota. The best matchup — Green Bay at Dallas — will air on a Thursday in only about 35 million households on the NFL Network, which wants you to complain to your cable operator if you don’t get it.

- Week 14. CBS wisely protected Pittsburgh at New England, while Fox put a moat around Giants-Eagles. NBC, slated for Colts-Ravens, might have wanted Fox’s Cowboys-Lions — but Dallas, with six primetime games scheduled, is off the board.

- Week 15. NBC has Washington at Giants. Both might be in the playoff hunt. If not, since CBS protected Jaguars-Steelers, NBC might take CBS’ New York Jets at Pats — if the perfect season is still in play.

- Week 16. NBC’s Tampa Bay at San Francisco will likely be dropped from NBC. Best games, not protected: Fox’s Redskins at Vikings and Giants at Bills or CBS’ Miami at New England.

- Week 17. To help NBC get a finale with playoff implications, Fox and CBS can’t protect any games in Week 17. Best bets to be moved to NBC, which now has Kansas City at Jets: Fox’s Lions at Packers or CBS’ Titans at Colts. And only about one-third of U.S. households could watch the Pats nail a perfect season in their finale against the Giants — it’s on the NFL Network on Saturday.

To me, NBC is functioning on the premise that offensive fireworks trumps competitive balance or jockeying in the standings, at least when it comes to ratings. More people will tune in for touchdown after touchdown, regardless of the context. In that sense, SNF is using the flex rule to devolve into college football-like appeal.

All of which only encourages me to tune out. Frankly, by the end of the afternoon action, I’m pretty much football-saturated anyway, so I’m not complaining.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 11/19/2007 10:50:27 PM
Category: Football
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Even as municipal wi-fi efforts in Philadelphia and elsewhere founder, New York is getting, by the end of this month, a big fat zone of free wireless Internet access in the heart of midtown Manhattan:

Called the CBS Mobile Zone, this area of coverage will stretch through a bustling, tourism- and business-heavy swath of midtown from 42nd Street north to Central Park south, from Sixth Avenue west to Eighth Avenue. (Landmarks-wise, that’s roughly Times Square to Columbus Circle.)

The new effort will be supported largely by advertising. Upon logging on, Web surfers will come to a home page with “hyperlocal content such as breaking local and national news, sports highlights, weather reports, music discovery, wallpapers, ringtones, maps, a social network, and the ability to search for nearby restaurants, shops and entertainment complete with geographically-targeted community reviews,” according to a release from CBS. Citi and Salesgenie.com have signed on as sponsors. Some businesses within the midtown zone will also be equipped with routers to take advantage of the Internet access.

And what do you know, that’s just the part of town where I spend the majority of my waking working hours. Yippee! Looks like I’ll never want for a Web hookup for my iPod Touch again.

It’s confirmed for only the next six months, pending the success of (I presume) usage levels and ad sales. As similar efforts around the country managed to dry up quickly, I’m not counting on this offering lasting forever. However, it is New York — more people are out and about and in need of wireless access than in more car-centric cities. I’m cautiously optimistic.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 11/19/2007 10:15:37 PM
Category: New Yorkin', Wi-Fi
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