Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Wednesday, January 28, 2021

Low-end prices for netbooks have conspired with the continuing spread of wireless data networks to result in AT&T offering cellphone-like two-year contracts that bundle built-in Internet access with a subsidized mini-laptop.

Why is AT&T helping to fund netbook discounts? Well, such deals have already proven popular in Europe and Asia, and U.S. carriers are looking for effective ways to lock customers into data contracts. Even in this tough economy, carriers are spending billions to boost their network speeds and out-duel the competition. But the carriers know bragging rights to the fastest data connection aren’t worth much unless customers actually sign up. They have a hunch that cheap netbooks will get customers to commit to two-year data plans, just like free phones did for voice.

Frankly, I’m surprised no one thought of doing this before. Once wireless capability became a standard built-in feature in notebooks about five years ago, providing a native transmission signal for an always-on Web connection seemed the next natural step. I don’t know why AT&T, or one of the other telcos, didn’t approach Dell or another computer manufacturer to produce a cellular-connected notebook computer, with monthly data plan included.

Maybe it’s because consumers don’t quite know what to make of such a combination? I know that wireless data plan dongles are becoming ever more common, but generally, I think most people still consider notebooks to be wholly reliant on external Internet access, versus a phone handset that’s expected to contain its own two-way signal. I know that my iPod Touch still manages to befuddle most people because they can’t process how, despite its resemblance to a phone, it accesses the Web only within a wifi cloud, i.e. like a computer would. There’s some kind of disconnect in the average person’s mind when it comes to how certain portable devices “should” function. Netbooks might fall victim to these preconceptions.

Beyond that, I’m skeptical, just because even a deep-discounted $99 netbook represents an investment in one more piece of hardware to lug around, when you’ve probably already got your smartphone, full-sized notebook, etc. I have no problem treating a stripped-down computer as almost exclusively a media (Web, media player, etc.) device, as that’s how most of us spend 90 percent of our computer time anyway. But when so many other devices can do the same things, and more, I don’t see the point.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 01/28/2009 08:15 PM
Category: Tech, Wi-Fi
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I guess all is forgiven as far as the Battle/Siege of Vicksburg is concerned, because the Mississippi State University is now home of the one of the largest collections of historical papers on Ulysses S. Grant.

The unlikely locale of the 18th President’s documents in the heart of Dixie isn’t setting well with some:

Still, Grant’s return to the South doesn’t thrill Cecil Fayard Jr., the Mississippi-based leader of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

“U.S. Grant is not beloved in the state of Mississippi. Southern folks remember well his brutal and bloody tactics of war, and the South will never forget the siege of Vicksburg,” he said.

Way to keep the rebellion going. In retaliation, maybe he should try getting Vicksburg to once again ban celebrating the Fourth of July.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 01/28/2009 03:27 PM
Category: History
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bailedBailout economics come to the iPhone/iPod Touch — in game form. “Bailout World” is a new App Store entry that simulates today’s prevailing macroeconomic stimulus planning:

- You have $10 trillion to bailout.

- The world money is $100 trillion at the beginning and $0 at the end if no bailout is made.

- In every 5 seconds, one continent randomly enters the recession featured by blinking and beeping with an accelerated pace.

- By tapping the recession continent, you pump the money into it and reverse the recession.

Who knew trillion-dollar global economic repair could be so effortless? I think the World Bank should adopt this interface for its efforts.

Even though this gamelet costs only 99 cents, I think my own, more modest cash reserves could be put to better use in this recessionary climate than to be spent on some slapdash map-tapping shovelware.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 01/28/2009 10:29 AM
Category: Business, Society, Videogames, iPod
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