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Friday, August 31, 2021

A browse through this blog’s Wi-Fi category reveals a preoccupation by yours truly of municipal efforts to erect wireless Internet networks.

I may not be thus preoccupied much longer: Earthlink, AT&T and other providers are balking at further build-outs even in underway projects, citing low usage and lack of city funding.

When EarthLink and MetroFi first bid for Wi-Fi contracts several years ago, they often agreed to foot the bill for network build-out, operations, maintenance, and upgrades. They also frequently agreed to pay cities to lease public facilities, such as light poles, to hold Wi-Fi transmitters. If that wasn’t enough, the companies also promised some cities a chunk of their subscription and advertising revenues, as well as free usage of the Wi-Fi networks by city workers. EarthLink’s troubled San Francisco contract, for example, contains many of these terms.

One major flaw in these arrangements has been that initial forecasts for Wi-Fi subscriptions used to justify the investment in these networks have proven to be overly optimistic by a wide margin. In many cases, 15% to 30% of an area’s population was expected to sign up for muni Wi-Fi. But only 1% to 2% have signed up so far figures Glenn Fleishman, editor of an industry blog called Wifinetnews.com.

While rising demand for advertising on municipal Wi-Fi networks is helping offset the shortfall in subscription revenue, there’s a catch-22 at play here: Higher user numbers might generate more ad revenue, but network operators might need to cut fees to attract more users.

Is it realistic to push through enough ad inventory during the average few minutes someone is accessing the network? To me, free public wi-fi hotspots are good for spot-checking the Web: Check your email, check your blog, look up movie times, get local maps/directions, etc. That’s it. It’s not for lounging for a couple of hours of Web surfing. Battery life alone is an obstacle to that. A typical online media model for advertising doesn’t make much sense.

I’d still love to see a more widespread use of free wi-fi, for always-on access (independent of cellphone networks and the like). Maybe there’s a workaround no one’s dreamed up yet.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 08/31/2007 02:29:37 PM
Category: Wi-Fi | Permalink | Feedback

Wednesday, August 29, 2021

Bad news if you live in California and still have been dialing up the phone company to hear a recorded woman’s voice intone the correct time: As of September, AT&T is discontinuing the now-antiquated service.

On the bright side, if you really need to know the time at any given moment… You could just look at your cellphone, before actually making a time-check call.

And if all you were really after was the assured sound of a woman’s voice, well, there are other options there as well.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 08/29/2007 08:28:19 AM
Category: Tech, Society | Permalink | Feedback

Thursday, August 23, 2021

Seeking to underline just how much Sun Microsystems is hitching its future to the Java programming language, the company is changing its Nasdaq ticker symbol from SUNW to JAVA.

After this change goes into effect on Monday, I’m waiting to read the first howls of dismay from clueless shoot-from-the-hip investors, who’ll see the new four-letter mark, snap up shares, then realize they weren’t buying into some sort of hi-tech coffee company…

This may seem to be a trivial move, confined to the financial pages. But Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz attests to the deeper significance:

SUNW certainly has some nostalgic value - it stands for “Stanford University Network Workstation,” and heralds back to Sun’s cherished roots (in academia). Granted, lots of folks on Wall Street know SUNW, given its status as among the most highly traded stocks in the world (the SUNW symbol shows up daily in the listings of most highly traded securities).

But SUNW represents the past, and its not without a nostalgic nod that we’ve decided to look ahead.

JAVA is a technology whose value is near infinite to the internet, and a brand that’s inseparably a part of Sun (and our profitability). And so next week, we’re going to embrace that reality by changing our trading symbol, from SUNW to JAVA. This is a big change for us, capitalizing on the extraordinary affinity our teams have invested to build, introducing Sun to new investors, developers and consumers. Most know Java, few know Sun - we can bring the two one step closer.

Schwartz says the rebranding will be limited to the Nasdaq scroll, but from the way he’s talking, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the whole company someday change its name to “Java Inc.” or similar.

Incidentally, Sun’s far from the first company to use its stock exchange symbol as a promotional tool. As I said before:

If anything, these cutesy letter combinations are useful strictly at the time when a company goes public: Because that’s a prime marketing opportunity, the symbol should fall in line with all the other promotional hype to mark the event. But after that blows over, who cares? It’s purely a shorthand marking for use on the big board. They might as well use numbers.

That said, Sun’s move to JAVA is a reflection of a doubling-down on a proprietary technology that will make or break the company moving forward. So in that sense, this works effectively as a marketing ploy, because it generates a buzz.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 08/23/2007 03:50:37 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Tech, Business | Permalink | Feedback

Saturday, August 18, 2021

He uses it as a stepping stone toward reviews of a bunch of overprice Bluetoothed trinkets, but David Pogue brings up a good observation about how external wires are being phased out of our tech toyland:

Yes, wires. If you hadn’t noticed, they’re disappearing at an alarming clip. The cord between your home phone handset and the phone body? Gone. The wire between your cellphone and clip-on earpiece? Gone. The cable from your laptop to the network router? Gone.

Wi-fi Web/network connectivity is probably the most common example of this, at home and work. But if anything, the possibilities for ditching wires are underutilized. For example, I used to have to buy a new data cable every time I bought a new cellphone. But last time, since I got a phone with Bluetooth functions (which practically every phone has now), I smartened up and got a USB-plugin Bluetooth reception dongle. Now, syncing phone and computer is smoother, and I won’t have to buy a new connection interface with my next phone.

More to come, too. Wireless electrical power transmission will take the unplugged setup to bold new levels. Someday, the very concept of external connection wiring for any purpose might be a quaint outmoded technological memory.

The downside? Security holes galore, probably. And I’m sure a couple of decades from now, we’ll all be diagnosed with irradiated tumors, as a result of living in daily wireless crossfire zones. Convenience now, chemo later…

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 08/18/2007 02:24:50 PM
Category: Wi-Fi | Permalink | Feedback

Tuesday, August 14, 2021

I’m sure we’ve all seen T-Mobile’s “Jimmy’s HotSpot” TV spot:

And I’m sure all of us are glad that “The Jimmy” has prospered since his long-ago “Seinfeld” appearance.

I was skeptical about the prospects of “The Only Phone You Need” campaign resonating with customers. Maybe ripping off old sitcom motifs is a way to ensure success.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 08/14/2007 10:34:58 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., TV, Wi-Fi | Permalink | Feedback

Friday, August 10, 2021

Thanks to some intrepid file-diving by Chaz, the world now knows that the Sony MP3 Walkman is apparently engineered by texting-happy teenaged girls:

…I noticed that the folder on the machine which actually contains all the music files is called OMGAUDIO.

I know the iPod’s file system used to contain folders with names like “TheVolumeSettings” or somesuch. Depending on how your iPod synced with a computer, those telltale folders would wind up on networks, making them a dead giveaway that someone was hooking up their digital tunes to their workplace computer. (I think Apple has since revamped the file system; I’d check but I don’t have a syncing cable handy.)

Much like Chaz, I get a chuckle out of these kind of hidden techie foibles. Giggly is taking it a bit too far, though.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 08/10/2021 12:06:53 PM
Category: Tech, Comedy | Permalink | Feedback

Finally, a Bluetooth-enabled device I would actually use. BlueQ is a plastic wristband that syncs with your cellphone to ensure you won’t miss a call:

It contains a tiny Bluetooth receiver and a cellphone-like vibrating module. The idea—which is, actually, rather brilliant—is that you’ll no longer miss cellphone calls because your cellphone’s own vibrate mode is feeble and you can’t hear the ringer. Because of the BlueQ, you’ll feel the vibration on your wrist, where you can’t miss it. (Get the name now? Blue as in Bluetooth; Q as in your cue to answer the phone.)

One of my frequent complaints with cellphones — and this has been the case with every phone I’ve ever owned — is that the ringtones and vibrate modes are pitifully weak. Whenever I store my phone in my pant pocket and I’m in a crowded situation, I’ll miss a call. I try to wear shirt with breast pockets just to avoid this, but I’m not at the point of basing all my wardrobe decisions on cellphone access. (And don’t even bother suggesting those God-awful belt clips.)

So for me, the BlueQ would be ideal. No way to miss a buzzing sensation on the wrist! And since I don’t wear any other wristbands or other incidentals, I can live with just thing on my arm.

But it does seem that a wrist accessory has less appeal for men than it does for the ladies:

This is genius for women, which makes it even more important that it be available in some kind of customizable form. Like many women, I carry my cell in my purse. (Belt mounted just doesn’t really work for women, but I will leave the details of why to your imagination. Just remember what we don’t do standing up.) Anyway, I miss calls a lot because my purse is not close enough to hear, sometimes even when it is on my shoulder. Plus, I forget to turn the ringer back on after meetings. So I think this is a fabulous idea.

If the company gets smart and rolls out different colors for this thing, I expect to see it become the tech accessory of choice by mid-2008.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 08/10/2021 09:05:56 AM
Category: Tech | Permalink | Feedback

Thursday, August 09, 2021

Looks like the Segway fad has run its course. How else to explain why the Segway Enthusiasts Group of America has up and died from lack of participation?

The fine print is that SEG America is undergoing a “significant transformation”, with Segway itself lending aid. Translation: The club is turning over all organizational assets to the scooter company, and the company will turn that over to its marketing department, and that’s the end of that.

For what it’s worth, I’ve had exactly one single Segway sighting in New York in the year-and-a-half I’ve been here. I’d think more would be puttering around the concrete jungle, especially given the local demand for alternate forms of transportation.

So I’m not too surprised by the slow death represented here. Segway’s well on its way to becoming a quaint historical cul-de-sac in personal transportation development.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 08/09/2021 05:50:19 PM
Category: Tech, Society | Permalink | Feedback (1)

Thursday, July 19, 2021

It took nearly two decades, but finally, computers are now wholly unbeatable when facing humans in checkers matches.

Don’t believe it? Take on Chinook and just try to win a game. The running play-by-play indicates you simply can’t win.

The computer science professor who perfected Chinook is moving on to Polaris, another program that will perfect artificial-intelligence poker-playing. Nice idea, except that poker bots are already raking in big-money pots online.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 07/19/2007 10:53:57 PM
Category: Tech, Videogames | Permalink | Feedback

I’m not in the market for a new wireless access point for my home. But if I were, I’d probably have to go for Belkin’s N1 Vision wireless router.

Why? Because it does something that shouldn’t be remarkable, but — thanks to inexplicable design short-sightedness in the computer hardware industry — is: It actually tells you who’s tapping into your wireless network.

With an interactive L.C.D. panel on the front, the router shows the number of connected users and devices, the speed of your uploads and downloads and even how much network bandwidth is being used.

I’m sure there’s other wireless equipment that gives you this valuable metric. But most of the stuff out there doesn’t. In this day of mobile Web devices that sniff out any and all hotspots, I don’t know why manufacturers don’t put this functionality front and center. Why not make it easy for the user to know if someone’s tapping into the house wi-fi?

Easy-to-set-up encryption should, of course, prevent Web leeching. But what if someone cracks it? Again, it’s nice to have a quick way to check.

Come to think of it, my current wireless access point is probably about seven years old, at least. It works fairly flawlessly, but it’s bound to fail sooner rather than later. So I’ll definitely have to keep this in mind for an upgraded replacement.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 07/19/2007 10:30:17 PM
Category: Wi-Fi | Permalink | Feedback (2)

Saturday, July 14, 2021

on the 8
It’s been a long time coming, so here’s the next installment of the latest random output to come out of my perpetually shuffling-repeating iPod.

Instead of the usual five tracks, I’ve expanded out to eight, to match up with 8trk’s Favorite 8, like I said I would. Gotta keep up with the Joneses!

So here we go:

1. “Torture”, KMFDM - Maybe in a day or so I’ll stumble on that grassy knoll.

2. “Waiting For Tonight”, Jennifer Lopez - Found a sacred place, lost in your embrace.

3. “Party For Your Right to Fight”, Public Enemy - It takes a nation of millions to hold us back.

4. “Hello, I Love You”, The Doors - Do you hope to pluck this dusky jewel?

5. “Stand (The Scrumfrog Extended Re-Hash)”, Jewel - It’s not all dirty, but it’s not all clean.

6. “Pusherman”, Curtis Mayfield - Your main boy, thick and thin.

7. “Weapons of Mass Distortion”, The Crystal Method - [instrumental, no lyrics]

8. “Get Down Tonight”, KC & The Sunshine Band - Same place, same time.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 07/14/2007 04:18:23 PM
Category: Pop Culture, Tech, 8trk | Permalink | Feedback (2)

Thursday, July 12, 2021

Tooth Tunes is a weird music player/toothbrush hybrid that’s supposed to make you brush to the music. And pop music too, ala Black Eye Peas, KISS, and Destiny’s Child.

Unfortunately, the music is limited to an implanted chip that plays only one pre-programmed song. Which makes me think that Apple shouldn’t have gone down the iPhone path of consumer electronic development; it should have taken this clear path to ubiquity! Imagine: The iTooth, in 30 gig and 60 gig models, with USB connection to your MP3 collection, etc.

Actually, the interesting thing about Tooth Tunes is the way it channels soundwaves through your teeth and into your eardrums. This is basically the same technology that was used in a Japanese “bone phone”, which I made note of more than three years ago. Nice to see the “sonic speaker” concept being applied to such hygenic use.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 07/12/2021 09:04:02 PM
Category: Pop Culture, Tech | Permalink | Feedback

Tuesday, July 10, 2021

One way to look at the vocation of usability professionals is as a group of expert dumb-downers:

When the federal government was creating its informational Web site (now known as usa.gov), it brought in usability experts to look for flaws. By watching users, the site’s creators found that people were having trouble finding an individual agency’s Web site because they did not know which department to look under.

“Even people in the Washington, D.C., area didn’t know that,” said Janice Redish, a usability consultant who worked on the project in February 2002. “It was an easy fix once we knew it.”

It’s an essential dumb-downing exercise, though. Especially when it comes to tech applications, there’s a constant disconnect between the codemonkeys that create the product, and developing easily-accessible nodes for a non-techie audience — i.e., the customer — to actually use said product. Consumer product lines live and die by such design tenets, and as the tech industry moves more and more into that same realm, factoring in non-engineering input becomes crucial.

I’d like to think I’d be well-suited for some level of this work. Something to keep in my personal career-development file.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 07/10/2021 09:04:59 AM
Category: Tech, Business | Permalink | Feedback

Wednesday, July 04, 2021

With all the hacking tips posted online, I’m mighty tempted to pick up an iPhone and use it solely as a mobile wi-fi Web access device.

Because I feel I could use such a gadget. I’m on the go so often, and there are so many purposely-open wireless hotspots around town, that I can easily take advantage of having the Web constantly at my fingertips. I already pay for Internet access as part of my current Verizon Wireless phone plan, but it’s only crappy WAP — barely tolerable for checking email and the occasional online map directions. I could lug my notebook computer around, but that’s overkill and a hassle — something that fits in my pocket would be ideal.

Unfortunately, I’m not sure it’s worth going through the dummy activation-then-cancellation process, especially since it’s likely to be shut down in a future software update. I don’t want to wind up with an elegant $600 brick.

Although I guess I could convince myself, via this justification: Buy the iPhone now, enable it without the telephone service, use the wi-fi (and iPod and camera capabilities) to my heart’s content — for about six months. At that point, in early 2008, my current VZW contract expires. Given that I’m already ready to chuck my present phone, I’ll be ready to replace it with the iPhone. So basically, I’d pre-pay for a new phone now, albeit at a heavy premium.

The only thing is that I’d have to dump VZW for AT&T, since there are no plans to make the iPhone available to other carriers. That’s likely my dealbreaker. So much for that scenario.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 07/04/2021 04:42:46 PM
Category: Tech, Wi-Fi | Permalink | Feedback (4)

Tuesday, July 03, 2021

Is the increased use of electronic forms of payment — credit/debit cards, wireless transfers, etc. — resulting in a steady rise in pricing? Some compelling evidence points to this dynamic at the roadway tollbooth:

After an electronic system is put in place, tolls start rising sharply. Take two tollbooths that charge the same fee and are in a similar setting — both on highways leading into a big city, for instance. A decade after one of them gets electronic tolls, it will be about 30 percent more expensive on average than a similar tollbooth without it. There are no shortage of examples: the Golden Gate Bridge, the George Washington Bridge and the Tappan Zee Bridge, among them.

“You may be less aware you’re paying the toll,” said [economist Amy] Finkelstein, now an associate professor at M.I.T., “but you’re paying a higher toll than you used to.”

And you’re less aware because the money you’re spending is, in a sense, not “real”:

The implications of this go well beyond highways. We increasingly live in an E-ZPass economy, in which bills are paid online, corporate cafeterias are going cashless and people take along their debit card, instead of cash, when they leave the house. Last year, 55 percent of consumer spending was done electronically, mainly with credit and debit cards, while checks accounted for less than 25 percent and cash only 20 percent, according to Visa. As recently as 2003, only 45 percent of spending was done electronically.

The E-ZPass economy is indisputably more convenient. It saves time and frustration. But the old frustrations that came with cash also brought a hidden benefit: they forced you to notice that you were spending money. With electronic money, it’s much easier to be carefree.

Marketers understand this dynamic well, which is a big reason they promote refillable gift cards and other forms of money that don’t feel like money. Part of what’s so intriguing about Ms. Finkelstein’s work is that it suggests that government officials may be coming to understand the dynamic, too.

I’ve been doing extensive marketing work in the electronic payments field; a cornerstone assumption is that the consumer will spend more money using plastic than when using cash. It’s a mindset borne of the relatively recent ubiquity of card-based payments. Presumably, another couple of decades of steady non-cash transactions will erase this behavior.

But in the meantime, commercial interests can take advantage of the disconnect between point-of-sale transactions and the subsequent billing. This seems to be leading to a concurrent inflationary trend, distinct from supply-and-demand pressures and more than a mere mark-up for the privilege of convenient payment. What will this mean in macro-economic terms, in the long run?

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 07/03/2021 10:52:25 PM
Category: Tech, Business, Society | Permalink | Feedback (3)

Saturday, June 30, 2021

They were teased nearly a year ago, and now they’re here: T-Mobile’s HotSpot @Home wireless plan offers customers new Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) phones that can alternate between T-Mobile’s cellular network or a home wi-fi Internet connection.

This isn’t like having a cell phone that also happens to work as a cordless phone. You have the same number, whether you’re on Wi-Fi or cellular. And in an engineering feat, the new phones will hand over calls that are already in progress from Wi-Fi to the cellular network if you leave the hotspot, so you can start a call at home and then keep talking as you walk out.

My original concerns about wi-fi leeching being the basis for these for these types of phones seems unwarranted. It’ll be confined to a single wi-fi access point, presumably the customer’s home; anywhere else, T-Mobile’s standard connection takes over.

I’m thinking this will be a tough sell, simply because the concept will be difficult to accurately communicate to the average consumer. Positioning it as a supplement to spotty coverage is a good starting point. Maybe their “The Only Phone You Need” campaign will get it across, but I’m not sure it’ll completely resonate.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 06/30/2007 12:41:48 PM
Category: Tech, Wi-Fi | Permalink | Feedback (1)

Thursday, June 28, 2021

play on
Because I’m a sucker for any iTunes-manipulating blog meme: The twenty-five songs in my digital music collection with the longest run time. As originated by David at Better Living Thru Blogging!.

Yep, there are some lengthy ones, especially the hour-plus beasts. A little bit of everything, from danceclub-quality mixes to classical. None of them are strung together by me — I acquired all these tracks in the single-file format they appear in here. They’re all music tracks — no comedy, spoken-word or any other anomalies.

The image above serves as some proof that I do, indeed, have these long-play files in my music collection. For better SEO presentation, here they are listed below:

1. “Voyage Into Trance”, Paul Oakenfold:
1hr, 12min, 39sec

2. “Just Another House Mix”, Florian Ehing:
1hr, 12min, 04sec

3. “The RoLLA HardHousemixx II”, DJ Precise:
1hr, 10min, 26sec

4. “The Cerulean Wavestation”, Cerulean Wavestation:
1hr, 07min, 41sec

5. “Bach, Goldberg Variations”, Glenn Gould:
51min, 18sec

6. “Club Trance Megamix”, DJ Berra:
25min, 34 sec

7. “Chris Liebing Trance - tribal techno”, Carl Cox, Frankie Bones, et al:
25min, 20 sec

8. “Alice’s Restaurant”, Arlo Guthrie:
18min, 46sec

9. “Released”, Tecknixia:
18min, 35sec

10. “Persian, Arabic, Turkish & Indian Dance Mix”, [no artist]:
15min, 55sec

11. “Rapper’s Delight”, Sugar Hill Gang:
14min, 37sec

12. “I Heard It Through The Grapvine”, Creedence Clearwater Revival:
11min, 06sec

13. “Memories of May (overdrive mix)”, Wintermute:
10min, 02sec

14. “Yar’s Revenge Parts 1-3″, Mister Hardcore:
9min, 55sec

15. “Master and Servant (Slavery whip mix)”, Depeche Mode:
9min, 40sec

16. “Discotecka (DJ Dove Remix)”, Starkillers:
9min, 30sec

17. “The Private Psychedelic Reel”, Chemical Brothers:
9min, 28sec

18. “Napalm Brain/Scatter Brain”, DJ Shadow:
9min, 23sec

19. “Stem/Long Stem ++Transmission 2″, DJ Shadow:
9min, 22sec

20. “Ojos Asi (Thunderpuss Remix)”, Shakira:
9min, 15sec

21. “Cyberchakra”, Doctor Strangelove:
9min, 12sec

22. “Salt Tank - Eugina 2000 (Progressive Summer Mix)”, Paul Oakenfold:
9min, 05sec

23. “We Know You Know It (Filthy Dukes Remix)”, Foreign Islands:
9min, 01sec

24. “Tainted Love (Full mix)”, Soft Cell:
8min, 58sec

25. “The Owls Go (Pandatronix remix)”, Architecture in Helsinki:
8min, 56sec

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 06/28/2007 10:07:43 PM
Category: Bloggin', Pop Culture, Tech | Permalink | Feedback (3)

Tuesday, June 26, 2021

The iPhone fever pitch is as high as it’ll get, with Apple’s new talk-toy being released in just a couple of days. The major media reviews are in, and they all concur:

All of our reviewers laud the new phone as being groundbreaking. The [Wall Street] Journal calls the phone “on balance, a beautiful and breakthrough handheld computer” while [New York Times’] Pogue praises it for being “revolutionary… It does things no phone has ever done before.” [USA Today’s Edward] Baig calls it a “glitzy wunderkind…worth lusting after” and [Newsweek’s Steven] Levy says, “one of the most hyped consumer products ever comes pretty close to justifying the bombast.”

Yet each also takes pains to find plenty of things to criticize. The WSJ says that while the virtual keyboard works OK, it wasn’t perfect: “…the error-correction system didn’t seem as clever as the one on the BlackBerry, and you have to switch to a different keyboard view to insert a period or comma, which is annoying.” Pogue says that, oddly, one of the phone’s greatest weaknesses is, er, as a phone: “Making a call, though, can take as many as six steps: wake the phone, unlock its buttons, summon the Home screen, open the Phone program, view the Recent Calls or speed-dial list, and select a name. Call quality is only average, and depends on the strength of your AT&T signal.”

So on balance, the pluses outweigh the minuses. Although too many of the pluses are married to the iPhone device itself, and too many of the minuses fall onto AT&T’s communication network — which to me doesn’t seem too promising for what’s supposed to be, first and foremost, a phone.

Personally, without actually touching the thing: I have a feeling the touchscreen-only interface is not going to fly with most people. There is a tactile familiarity with physical keys, even if they are tiny. Adjusting texting-conditioned fingers to deftly maneuver a smooth, flat, texture-less touchscreen for data entry is a tall order. On that alone — discounting any potential operational glitches — I have a sinking feeling about the initial acceptance rates for the iPhone. A Newton-like flameout is not out of the question.

That said, this boils down to a common cautionary approach for any tech bauble:

Of course, what virtually none of our reviews says outright is this: Unless you’re rich or have gadget-compulsive disorder, you’d be out of your Steve Jobs-addled, Reality-Distortion-Field-infected mind to buy one of these phones right now. These are strictly Version 1.0 — and there’s a lot that needs to be improved.

Guaranteed, within a year — I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s actually closer to six months, and the holidays) Apple will replace the iPhone with one that works on AT&T’s 3G network, already in 160 cities, which delivers real broadband, rather than this “pokey” throughput.

As it happens, my current Verizon Wireless contract expires in at right around the ETA for the improved version of iPhone and/or its network. I’ve bitched about my current phone before, so I’ll be more than ready for a handset upgrade by then.

However, I’m not ready to throw away VZW. It’s got the best coverage in New York City and environs hands-down, and I doubt AT&T is going to match it anytime soon. Bottom line, being able to connect pretty much anywhere I am trumps whatever the phone can do. And I say that despite the awfully tempting iPhone service rates from AT&T, which actually include unlimited Web access for only slightly more than what I’m currently paying per month.

I’m almost sorry I’ll be out of town on Friday, when Manhattan’s two Apple Stores should be overflowing with mobs clawing to get an iPhone. But I do know someone who’s pre-ordered one, so I’m looking forward to playing with hers. I’m sure it’ll only stoke my desire to get my own, months from now.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 06/26/2007 11:26:32 PM
Category: Tech | Permalink | Feedback

Saturday, June 23, 2021

It’s a testament to the accelerating death of the CD that Apple’s iTunes Store became the third-largest music retailer in the U.S. last quarter:

ITunes had a 9.8 percent market share in the first quarter, ranking behind Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s 15.8 percent and Best Buy Co.’s 13.8 percent, according to The NPD Group. Online retailer Amazon.com’s share was 6.7 percent, slightly ahead of Target’s 6.6 percent, NPD said.

And questions about how exactly they’re measuring the rankings seem baseless, according to the survey methodology:

The firm counted every 12 tracks purchased online as equivalent to an album in compact disc format, said Russ Crupnick, NPD’s vice president.

NPD’s survey does not include mobile music sales, nor does it factor in revenues.

That’s significant, because it helps de-emphasize the apples-to-oranges comparative between predominant single-song sales on iTunes versus predominant whole-album sales in other outlets. If anything, Apple would come even stronger in a revenue comparison.

You can extrapolate from this how much music-buying has changed over the past decade, which has seen brick-and-mortar music stores become an endangered species. It’s also worth noting how much this convergence has helped hasten the adoption of broadband, the growth of social networking and other developments to the formerly narrow-band Internet. The relationship between music and the Web has been practically symbiotic.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 06/23/2007 06:33:06 PM
Category: Pop Culture, Tech, Business | Permalink | Feedback

Wednesday, June 20, 2021

My hope for an alternative to today’s lacking portable-device batteries is getting another boost. A Chinese company, HiTech Wealth, has rolled out a cellphone — the S116 — sporting solar panels for longer-lasting operating time.

It’s not fully reliant upon sunlight just yet:

The panels trickle-charge the battery in any amount of light, including indoors (or even by candlelight), and the battery life is 2.5 times longer than it would be without the panels. An hour of direct sunlight will give users 40 extra minutes of talk time.

But hey, it’s a start. I’m looking forward to seeing this approach become mainstream over the next five years. Anything to extend the limited energy sources we now have to settle for.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 06/20/2007 08:36:08 PM
Category: Tech | Permalink | Feedback

Saturday, June 16, 2021

If you’re a connoisseur of piercingly loud noises, take a listen to the Rumbler.

It’s the latest possible addition to the arsenal of sounds that NYPD squadcars pack. And there’s a solid reason for that variety:

Police departments began using manual windup sirens early in the last century, and models with electrical motors around the Depression years. In the early 1970s, manufacturers introduced sirens with different patterns and frequencies, to address a growing problem: Officers in different police cars using the same frequency often could not hear each other when approaching the same intersection, a dreaded phenomenon known as the wash-out effect that is a recipe for a crash. The yelp, the wail, the fast and the hi-lo sirens were born.

I could swear I’ve already heard the Rumbler in action. Not directed at me, of course. If I had my choice of signature siren sound, I think I’d opt for the Wail. I’m traditional like that.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 06/16/2007 05:56:42 PM
Category: Tech, New Yorkin' | Permalink | Feedback

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