Another Decade of Tech

It’s finally rolling from 2019 to 2020 (a real ‘vision’ year, hardee har), so there have already been a plethora of ‘end of the decade’ type articles being thrown out there.  They’re the ‘Best of…’ and ‘Worst of…’ lists, of course, plus the usual year in review critiques for 2019.  Interestingly, it seems most people thought 2019 really stank and are hoping it gets lost to history.  My bet is that it’s mostly related to all the crappy things that our leaders in the federal government pulled off, which are way too numerous to go into.

I looked back and re-read a blog entry I made in January 2010 about ‘A Decade of Tech’ to get a little perspective about what I think has changed or stayed the same over these past ten years.  The main things I listed then were: the DVR, BitTorrent, High speed internet, Smartphones, GPS, and MP3 players.  I would say that all of these (except the MP3 player of course, and who uses a DVR anymore?) have become pretty ubiquitous and ingrained in our lives and we just don’t really ‘think’ about them anymore.  We take our phones and high speed internet for granted now.  So my next list for what was big over this past decade kind of feels like an iteration of a subset from 2010, starting with…


We are actually already now in the period of time when we just refer to them as just phones… no one just casually says ‘cell phone’ in normal conversation really anymore.  Blackberries are gone, and only the few remaining Luddite hold-outs still carry a flip-phone or other style of ‘dumb’ phone.  In 2010 35% of Americans had a smartphone (which was mostly the iPhone I’m sure, even being only a few years old at the time), and the Android species of that era were still fairly spartan compared to the iPhone.  Windows Mobile phones were around then but would only last for a few more years (I nailed that prediction, for sure).  Some are saying we’ve now hit ‘peak’ smartphone… they are about as big as they can functionally be to be hold-able in one hand, and also fit in our pants pockets.  They have excellent cameras, lots of storage, and batteries that will last most people a full day without too much trouble.  Phone makers are struggling now to find the next big thing, which for last year and at present is them trying to foist ‘folding phones’ on the public (oh puhleease).  Virtually everyone has a phone (just saw the stats, it’s 81%), from the oldest to youngest, even down to grade-schoolers and younger.  Premier phones are a lot more expensive these days and people are keeping their phones for multiple years.  (In fact, I used to be a New Phone Every Year dude years ago, but my current phone –Samsung Galaxy S8+– has been good enough I’m into my third year with it!)  We feel naked and vulnerable if we don’t have our phone on us or handily available.  There are noticeable generational differences on phone usage, ranging from the 25 and younger set whose brains can barely function without their phones, to seniors who still see phones as mostly for phone calls or texting.  I’m generalizing of course!  It’s safe to say, no one can envision any future where we won’t each have a phone of some sort.  And maybe instead of getting bigger they will miniaturize and become almost invisible!  So why are we so attached to our phones?  It’s all because…

Apps Rule All

Apple coined the phrase ‘there’s an app for that’ way back, and it was prophetic.  We love our phones because they integrate into about every area of life, augmenting almost all of our daily activities.  Cameras are the biggest feature and apps take full advantage of them.  Smartphones are, well, smart because of their internet connection; I would bet only a tiny fraction of apps are left which do not need at least a little bit of a tether to a server out there… maybe not over cellular data but at least via wifi.  Streaming apps and services are where it’s at.  In 2010, streaming accounted for 7% of U.S. music market, compared to 80% today. Music (Spotify) and video (Netflix) are huge: in 2010, physical sales accounted for 52 percent of the US music market and digital sales 38 percent. Both are now down to a nine percent share. That’s why phone batteries can barely keep up, everyone uses their phone all day long!  So between phone technology and the software that runs on them, I don’t think it’s wrong or a stretch to say that so far in this millennium, the smartphone is the number one invention. Ugh, well that makes it sound like the printing press or the gas engine in a car, maybe should just call it the number one technical development of this century.  One other mention: sometimes we even use our phones to talk to other people… lol


I gave up a regular watch years ago, maybe 2011?  My phone kept perfect time, of course, and I almost always had it on me.  Then fitness bands and fitness-oriented watches came out, and the Apple Watch also hit the scene and that was when smartwatches took off in earnest.  I tried a Pebble watch and got hooked!  Of course, the Apple watch is THE most popular (because of all the iPhone users) and they’re also not just for the fitness buffs.  A plethora of other brands have been released that are mainly fitness-oriented, like Garmin, but most are just glorified Fitbits.  The other variety of smartwatch runs the Google GearOS but it continues to flounder, and Samsung also has a few models to choose from (I used one for a while last year).

The main ‘feature’ for the smartwatches is notifications, and yes we’re getting lazy about just pulling out our phones, but it’s quite nice being able see at a quick glance if it’s important or not (also seems more polite when with company).  And it’s SUPER convenient to screen an incoming call seeing how most calls are spam these days!  Many people are tracking their steps and workouts via their watches so they’ve helped with people being overall bit more conscious of their health.  The Apple watch also has ton of apps (imagine that) and integrates with music playback (wireless earbuds are also popular these days, especially Airpods… imagine that).

The main issue I find with all these watches is battery life.  Apple watches I think have to be charged pretty much nightly, GearOS watches are a close second on that, and even the Samsung watch I had needed to be charged at least every other day.  It’s a crappy experience to have your watch conk out mid-morning because you forgot to charge it…

Regardless though, the smartwatch is a sweet tech development in these recent years since they integrate with our phones, provide us with quick information, are relatively cheap enough for the average tech spender (or giftable), are easy to operate, and are a ‘drop-in’ replacement for an accessory everyone already had.  Hopefully they will continue to upgrade in features, decrease in overall size, and learn to stretch out what little power they have in their super small batteries.

Online Gaming

I don’t game but enjoy watching the releases of new games and consoles and gear.  Gaming drives many areas of computer tech, with GPUs, laptop design, virtual/augmented reality, and need for increasing wireless speeds and throughput.  Professional gaming/E-sports is making and burning huge amounts of cash (Fortnite!).  Besides video, I bet the second-most feature use for phones is gaming (gotta admit, a quick light game helps with all levels of boredom!).  From the old Xbox Kinect to the imminent PS5, you can’t talk about computing without mentioning gaming.

I might mention a few other developments in the past decade:

Artificial Intelligence has really grown and is finding its way into niche areas like medical analysis, banking/insurance, data brokerages… basically anywhere there is a huge amount of data where patterns can be found.  Nope, we are no closer to the Singularity and humans are quite safe. 🙂  Cloud computing/storage is also huge now and is in many ways tied to AI.

Robotics have become more advanced but are still incredibly niche, like AI, and some are pretty cool (looking at you, Atlas and Spot!).  When will we get fresh robotic tech that’s affordable and for the average consumer?  Doubtful it will be in the 2020’s.

Battery tech still basically sucks.  Over time I’ve seen some interesting reports on energy storage research developments… but until my PHONE can go for days with normal usage on a single charge, just… (yawn)

That’s it for another decade.  See ya in 2030!

Giving up Google

Man, this is one thing I’d not thought to consider before… but here we are mid-2018 and now it’s a thing.  I’ve been a fan of Google since the beginning.  I have multiple Gmail accounts set up for lots of different services.  I host our family’s blog on Blogspot.  And for almost a year now I’ve been using a Samsung Galaxy S8+ phone (and still loving it, even after the Apple iPhone event this week, no jealousies here!).  But there’s been stirrings in the past few months or so about Google working on a search engine specifically tailored for China, code name Dragonfly.  Even though they’ve not publicly commented AT ALL* yet (Pichai mentioned in a meeting that it’s in the “exploratory” stage), there’s pretty strong evidence that it’s moving forward… they’ve had over a thousand employees sign a letter against it and even had several leave the company in recent days.  What is so concerning is that it appears (again, from hearsay) Google is making this fully compliant with China’s censorship rules.  This is also a 180 degree change from Google’s stance for pulling out of China back in 2010… because of Chinese gov’t hacking and crackdown on free speech.  Talk about irony.

The Intercept released information today that Dragonfly in China will link a person’s cell number with the searches they make, thus making it very easy for government officials to track users.  Dragonfly would not only use the China-controlled search term black list, it also seems “to have been tailored to replace weather and air pollution data with information provided directly by an unnamed source in Beijing.”  The more we hear about Dragonfly (and the louder the silence coming from Google), it looks very much like Google is truly capitulating on their “Don’t be evil” motto… all because they smell so much money there in China.

So, my quandary.  IF Dragonfly is a true project that Google is fully intent on pursuing, and they make some official word about it, I’m in a dilemma between fully taking myself off Google’s customer list and killing my use of their services (is that even possible?!) OR be complicit myself in supporting their actions towards China by continuing to use them wholeheartedly.  I really really hope Google does the right thing and sticks to their moral guns (yeah I know that’s a stretch but come on you know what I mean) and declares very soon that Dragonfly is just something like a research project that they refuse to implement, and then kill these rumors.

It’s not looking good right now. I’m pessimistically of the opinion that I should start making plans…

  • Updated with their official response/no-response: “…our work on search has been exploratory, and we are not close to launching a search product in China.”

Update 9/21: Yeah, so much for transparency… Google bosses have forced employees to delete a confidential memo circulating inside the company that revealed explosive details about a plan to launch a censored search engine in China…  Also interesting to learn how militant the big G has become recently with their internal security and investigative teams.

Update 9/21: Also, THIS straight from Pichai’s memo on biasing search results (in response to Trump’s recent remarks), just how does this ethically jive with work on Dragonfly? Italics are mine: “We feel privileged to be building a product that provides instant access to information for everyone, everywhere—whether you’re a PhD from MIT, or a student on the other side of the world using a computer for the first time.”. . . “It’s important to me that our internal culture continues to reinforce our mission to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

Update 10/9: I hope Google gets smacked down really hard now, this is ridiculous: Leaked Transcript of Private Meeting Contradicts Google’s Official Story on China.  To quote:  “Ben Gomes Addresses Google Staff Working on Dragonfly, July 18, 2018”.  What a bunch of liars.  Can’t wait to see how this works out.

Apple snap

Seeing how it’s the eve of the iPhone X preorder day (er, morning, early morning), I figured I’d get my thoughts down for why I won’t be there.  After many years of loving iPhones and really enjoying the experience, it’s pretty much over.  And no, it’s not to switch to Windows Phone, heh.

The months leading up to the annual new iPhone launch back just last month were exciting and a bit dreadful.  The rumors were pretty ripe with info on the next generation of iPhone, and the specs looked awesome.  What caused a bit of trepidation was the expected cost of this flagship phone, easily $1000 and more.  I’d say probably 90% of the soothsaying nailed it, with the new OLED screen, screen style and size, internal hardware specs, overall size…. and unfortunately they were spot on for the cost of the beast.  I think they missed the whole Face ID feature though, and of course no one knew what the new camera specs would be, but it’s nice to be surprised a little.  Yup, it’s fine-looking… if you can get over that notch, er… monobrow 🙂

My beefs with the iPhone X:

  • Expensive (yeah I know, $1k is not a whole more than another new flagship phone from Samsung, see below…)
  • Face ID is new tech, what could go wrong? =)
  • Screen “surface area” is actually smaller than the iPhone 8+
  • Apple’s very first run with an OLED screen on a phone
  • Low production numbers/availability
  • As with the 7, no headphone jack
  • Sorry, just can’t get over that monobrow…

Apple also announced not just the new iPhone X, but also the new 8/8+.  Not much to say about that, except it should have been called the 7S (or even just 6SS fercryingoutloud).  Basically it’s just a jump in specs and not much more.  Gut feeling?  It’s almost retro how in looks… I mean, check out those bezels! Isn’t this 2017?! 😀

So, that was the big announcement in September and since then have been review after review, equal parts iPhone 8, since it’s already out, and analysis of the X specs.  From then til now, and after much soul searching and mental anguish (heh, joking!), I’ve come to the realization, barring some kind of angelic proclamation or the equivalent, that I’m done with the iPhone, at least for the next couple of years.

What gives?  The Samsung Galaxy S8 is what smote me.  It came out back in April and immediately had my attention.  Full-on edge-to-edge screen, great specs, very nice camera.  Amazingly thin, even the big brother S8+ (which is really only a little taller than the S8… so worth it).  And after its release and the reviews rolled in, this looked like a worthy competitor to the iPhone 7.  BUT, this was only a few months before September (new iPhones!) AND there was already also talk back then about the new Galaxy Note 8 and that it would probably have a lot in common with the S8, like screen size/quality, bezel-less, and with the S-pen/other features; it was figured to be announced around the same time as the iPhones.  Ah, that did come to pass, and the Note is a tiny bit bigger than the S8+, tiny bit thicker, tiny bit less battery (!) than the S8+, but quite close in specs and all. Right now it’s around $100 more than the S8+, and pushing into iPhone X cost range, ugh.  Other than that (and just to acknowledge that these phones aren’t perfect) yes the fingerprint sensor on the back is in a bad spot, and that dedicated Bixby button is just, well, wrong.  At least as of today it can be disabled…

Samsung Galaxy S8+ :

Samsung Galaxy S8+

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 :

Note 8

There’s more.  The LG V30 was also announced in this same time frame.  Even more: Google just recently announced the Pixel 2 / 2 XL, too!  I wanted to keep an eye out for them as well, to see just how hot this competition was going to get. Competition is good but they’re all out of contention as far as I’m concerned; the reviews have come out for these phones, and it’s bad.  The only thing the V30 has going for it is excellent sound.  The Pixel 2 XL is getting scorched because of bad screen tech, with bad coloring and burn-in (Google’s taking a major hit on this).  The Pixels are supposed to have excellent cameras and picture software, and the screen on the Pixel 2 is fine. There are a couple other niceties there, but even without the XL debacle, I don’t see enough reason to buy it over the Samsung phones.

So since last spring, through the long summer and early fall, I chose to just wait it out.  And now my patience is starting to wear thin. 🙂  I’m ready to jump ship from the iPhone (I’m still on the 6, btw, from 2014!) and join the Android collective.  I’m trying to decide between the Galaxy S8+ and the Note 8… just need to spend a bit of time with them (…already have been to the AT&T store once, lol…) and I’ve told myself to go just one more month, which gets us well into the November Black Friday timeframe.  Given that the iPhone X is imminent, I am hoping that Samsung will feel the pressure and start dropping prices on their phones.  I’ve got my money saved up and am ready to click that BUY button…

P.S. Yeah, I kind of went full-on geek mode doing my homework on the new phones. 🙂 I submit as evidence Photo 1, comparing the true sizes of the different new phones:

And, well, I wanted to know just how big that Note 8 would be, to test for pocketability and all, so I made a mock-up of the phone from a good ol’ piece of #2 pine with the same dimensions. Don’t you judge me! lol

[2017.11.08 Update]

The iPhone X’s are now out and a few people I know have one.  They are very happy.  But I’m confused. I just want to ask, why?  Why is it worth all that coin?  Yes the screen is nice, but so it is for any of the other recent phones with big OLED screens (or to clarify, SAMSUNG OLEDs).  I understand that the FaceID unlock is pretty cool… but Animoji?  Sure it takes nice pictures, but so do other phones… are you really going to put bokah on every picture you take, or change the backlight on each of them?  I will give you a few extra points if you are upgrading from a fairly old iPhone and just want the most excellent new iPhone available, it is truly Apple’s future vision.  You wrung every last penny from your older iPhone purchase, and that’s where I am today.  But wow, $1000 is a bunch, and double-wow if you got the 256GB model.  Don’t drop ’em on the sidewalk!

Oh, and… just.. this, SO funny:


How to Hide the iPhone X’s Ugly Notch With a Custom Wallpaper

“The iPhone X design might be perfect if it wasn’t for that notch. The bit of bezel at the top of the screen may be necessary for Apple’s new Face ID to work, but that doesn’t mean we don’t hate the way it looks.

If you’d rather have a regular black bar along the top of the iPhone X instead of an awkward notch, there’s a simple solution: just get a custom wallpaper designed to hide the remaining bit of bezel. These wallpapers work by adding a virtual black bezel on either side of the notch so you don’t even notice it.”

I love it!

[2017.11.11 Update]

And now there’s even an app for that!


This App Will Hide the Notch in Your iPhone X

“What would Steve Jobs say if he were alive for notch-gate? We think he’d be down with the removal of the Home button on the new iPhone X, as he was said to have despised buttons, but the notch seems to be a design flaw he wouldn’t have let out of Cupertino. If you bought the iPhone X and want to channel your inner Steve Jobs, you can download Notcho. Notcho is a free iOS app that gets rid of the unsightly notch. If you’re an Apple fan because of clean design, but you still had to have a talking poo emoji, you can download Notcho and feel a little better.”

Ok, I’ll try to stop now… or not!

Windows Phone is dead

So… that only took about seven years to crash and burn out.  Microsoft announced Windows Phone 7 in the fall of 2010 but they never had a chance against the iPhone or the Android vanguard.  It’s been interesting to watch the slow tank over the years and just a twinge painful because Nokia was involved and they used to make solid phones.  Sure, there were a couple or three flurries of news bites where MS would make some grand announcement, like when they released Windows Phone 8 and WP10, but there was generally no interest from NO body.  They were never a contender.

I used to be a MS basher, but to be truthful I changed my mind when Ballmer finally stepped down around the summer of 2014 and passed the CEO reins to Nadella, and I watched what happened with the company.  Ballmer leaving was a shot in the arm that MS needed and they were able to really get to work on new versions of Windows and other initiatives, even focusing on their software to run on their phone competitors (smart!).  I was interested in the platform enough that a couple years ago I bought a lower-end phone running WP7 so I could play around with it.  Even with the low phone specs, it ran well and I did enjoy seeing what it offered.  It’s true that one very big reason for the phone’s failure was always the lack of apps.

So I’ve softened my stance since 2010: it’s too bad that Windows Phone didn’t work out, only because competition is good for everyone involved.  I’m not saying this is true about their phone at all, but in the tech industries, the best does not always win out.  WP was classy and different.  MS is cutting the fat and culling the herd… looking back now it seems like it was just kind of a big experiment, anyway.


Microsoft finally admits Windows Phone is dead

“In a series of tweets, Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore has revealed that the software giant is no longer developing new features or hardware for Windows 10 Mobile. While Windows Phone fans had hoped Microsoft would update the platform with new features, it’s now clear the operating system has been placed into servicing mode, with just bug fixes and security updates for existing users.”

iPhone 5

Oh yes, I was one of the “early” adopters for this phone… and I am incredibly happy. From beginning to end, it was as seamless a process and any could hope for.

This latest model went up for pre-order at 2am Central on Friday 9/14, similar to the roll-out for the 4S from back in October 2011 (which I was up for back then, too). Before heading to bed I had my laptop browser set on the Apple store home page, ready for a quick F5 when the time came. For some time now, the Apple Store app has been available, and I had read a blurb recently from a writer that had used it last year to order his iPhone, so I decided to see if it was a viable option for getting the 5. I fired it up before heading to bed and used it to verify that I was eligible to get the new phone without having to pay an early upgrade fee… so everything was looking good and I set the alarm for 1:57am.

Next thing I knew it was a few minutes to 2am, and I grabbed my phone and headed to the laptop. Top of the hour rolled around and Apple’s page was not refreshing, just spinning. Decided to see what AT&T was offering, but their page just showed the countdown page (I think), and also wasn’t doing much. So I hopped on to the app on the phone and was pleasantly surprised to see that it was letting me jump through page after page of options, with hardly any lag. Was able to pick the 32GB Black slate iPhone 5 and submitted the order… and it was only 2:10! I almost couldn’t believe my luck. It felt like I had used a Most Glorious Fast Pass to jump to the head of the line! So within a few more minutes, I was tucking myself into bed again, very much content and feeling a little smug, too.

From that Friday (from later daylight hours, anyway) through the 21st, lots of stories were coming out from everyone’s experiences with the pre-order. The biggest news was that within an hour after pre-order started, Apple was showing ship time slipping from one to two weeks, or more. Last year I didn’t get in until like 4am so I was glad I got in and out so fast. And again, like last year, I am SO glad I didn’t try the process through AT&T’s site, since it sounded like they were being inconsistent with the ship time, even for those who ordered early. My phone didn’t show as shipped until Wednesday 9/19, but was set for mid-morning delivery on Friday 9/21. It arrived right on time (thank you, wonderful UPS drivers!), and I had to wait until getting home from work to see my beauty. Was so hard not to take off early for “personal development”!

And a thing of beauty it is. Don’t think I am still not fond of the 4S, it’s very classy with its good proportions and glass back. I’ve appreciated it’s awesome screen, speed, and reliability for the past year. But the iPhone 5 just ratchets up the exquisiteness by another factor. Sure, just looking at it only shows that it’s taller than the 4S, but it’s also thinner (front/back) and lighter and just feels even better in the hand. I thought I was “protective” in using the 4S, but this thing makes me even MORE paranoid! It is a lovely design, and combined with the new features of iOS 6, it is now the top contender in all things cell phone. There is NO way any android will match its elegant grace for some time to come, if ever.

Just an aside here: Early Friday evening, after firing up the phone for the first time, it activated right away (unlike last year when it was several hours before it could connect up and get activated) and I set it up as a new phone so that I could use it right away. I also have to give kudos to the local AT&T store… Because last year I was upgrading on my personal line (from the 3gs to the 4S), I had to use my wife’s line this year to get the new iPhone. She had the 3gs and she was also going to get to “upgrade” to my 4S, which was one of my selling points when convincing her earlier on that I “needed” the new iPhone 5! 🙂 So we both went over to the store around 6:30ish and I was wondering how busy THEY were going to be with also getting the 5’s in stock that day. Turns out they were very UNbusy, having rolled out 80 iPhones at opening and another 40 some time in the afternoon. We got right up to the counter and a very helpful girl got us a new set of nano- and micro-SIMs for our phones, and only a few minutes later we were walking out with our “own” phones. I could not have asked for anything easier to do to get the phones configured.

The only thing I’m missing is a nice case to put the phone in… I hate using it naked! Sure it looks spectacular in its bare sleekness, but I am so afraid of any kind of drop… I’m even afraid to leave it laying around. Some people are reporting that the new aluminum black backside is prone to scratching easily, so I don’t even want to leave it on its back, let alone on the front glass. Aside from that issue, it’s not all peaches and cream right now, as there have been major issues with the new Maps app (I don’t really care… I have Navigon, and Google will be getting their maps app approved through Apple some time soon) and probably other issues will come up. But I am incredibly happy with this new phone. It’s not “revolutionary” as everyone wanted, but Apple indeed hit another one out of the park. Heck, even out of the parking lot.

I do pause to wonder, though, what next year will bring… 🙂

Poor Windows Phone

Microsoft’s mobile answer to the iPhone and iOS continues to tank, just as I predicted back in 2010. Gartner’s latest report ([]) tells the numbers: for 1Q12, Microsoft only has 1.9% of worldwide phone sales, and that’s even down from 2.6% back in 1Q11. I guess I might have been generous saying M$ could even get 5-10% market share. This past year has been their big coming out party with Nokia, and I’ll admit that they are making some really nice hardware; if anything would have given both of those companies a shot in the arm, that was it. We’ll give it another year or two and check in on them again. IF both or one or the other is even still in the mobile space by then…

Cell phone users bill of rights

I hope someday I can look back on this and laugh:


Down with Double Data Fees! And other proclamations that should be in a cell phone user’s Bill of Rights

By David Pogue

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Lifestyle, establish Fairness, ensure blood pressure Tranquility, provide for the common Text Messager, promote less Outrage and secure Cell phone Service that’s anywhere near as good as it is in Other Countries, do ordain and establish this Cellular Bill of Rights.

Article 1. The Subsidy Repayment must end Sometime.
The carriers (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint) provide to us very inexpensive phones. We love getting a $650 iPhone 4S for $200!

But we get that handsome price only when we agree to a two-year contract. In other words, we’re paying off the real price over two years of payments. The carriers are subsidizing the phones.

Which is a good system. Yet what happens once the subsidy has been repaid? After the two-year period, we’re paying only for the service. Our monthly payment should therefore drop automatically.

Article 2. We need not Voicemail Instructions.
When we leave a voicemail, we hear a greeting—then instructions. “To page this person, press 4. To leave a callback number, press 5. When you have finished recording, you may hang up.”

The carriers say these instructions exist for the benefit of those who have never used voicemail (assuming they exist). The real reason for the instructions is, of course, to eat up our airtime and charge us more money. Verizon alone has 108 million customers. If they reach those infuriating messages twice a business day, they wind up paying Verizon about
$1 billion a year.

Those pointless instructions should be optional.

Article 3. Text Messages being only Data, the Carriers should make them less Expensive.
We can send all the e-mail we want, with no per-message charge—­but we’re still paying 20 cents for each text message. At that rate (20 cents per 160 characters), that’s nearly $1,500 a megabyte.

Even if we sign up for unlimited texting, we’re still paying way too much. Text messages should be included with our data plans.

Article 4. The People should decide how to Use the Data they’ve Bought.
We can pay extra for tethering so that a laptop can get online wirelessly using our phone’s data connection. It’s great for anyone not in a Wi-Fi hotspot.

But we’re already paying for a data plan. Why can’t we use the data any way we want? Verizon’s iPad plan has the right idea: you buy the data you need, and you can then tether several devices (via Wi-Fi) to get them online, too. It should work the same way with phone plans.

Article 5. We shall not be Double-Billed.
When a person calls a friend, the carriers charge both of them. A 10-minute call costs 20 minutes. Isn’t that called double billing?

Same thing with text messages. When I send you a text message, we’re each charged for one message. How is that fair? In Europe, only the sender or the recipient pays. That’s fair.

Article 6. International Calls should cost much Less.
The carriers still charge us $2 or $5 a minute to make cell phone calls when we’re out of the country. Hear me now, carrier people, we live in the age of Skype, iChat and Google Talk. We can make free calls from anywhere to anywhere on the Internet. How can you justify $5 a minute?

Listen: last year AT&T and Verizon alone made $14 billion in profits. How about sending us fewer bills for service—and more Bills of Rights?

Old school

I’m old and not afraid to admit it… though it took a while to accept it. Because I’m one of the “hybrid” generation (old enough to remember NOT having a personal computer, the Internet, cell phones…) and since I deal with digital tech all the time, I’m constantly made aware of just how different life was when I was growing up. My first PC experience was learning to program on an Apple IIe in high school, and my kids are now getting into that age group so it’s just so easy for me to see the difference between what I had then, and ALL that they have now.

I catch myself at least once a day doing something “old school”… something that’s a throwback to a bygone era and reminds me I’m not as hip as I should be.

  • I got a voice recorder about 10 years ago and thought it would be fun for the kids to record themselves just playing around. Heh, we had cassette recorders in my day! So a digital recorder would be fun. Reality: MP3 players, like the iPod Touch, do-it-all devices.
  • Someone wants to give me a phone number and I automatically start looking for a pen and paper. Nevermind I always have my phone sitting on my hip.
  • Uh… that brings up another one… phone is in a holster.
  • I can’t just get rid of the VCR. What if we need it to watch an old tape?

Another Android strike

Sure am glad for my iPhone, as I take my grain of salt:


iOS Safer from Malware than Android, Security Firm Says

Bummer for Android

Wow… Only 141 MILLION phones have been giving up a lot of really personal data for a long time. Oh, and to check if your phone is running this software, you have to root it, thus breaking your warranty. Real nice…


“Updated. More than 141 million smartphones are now running software that can log everything a user does and sees, including private web browsing, incoming texts and even which buttons are pressed. The application, called CarrierIQ, runs in the background unbeknownst to consumers and captures user and phone data as evidenced in this video shown on Wednesday. So how does one know if their handset is running the CarrierIQ software?

While details of how widespread CarrierIQ’s service are still coming to light, all of the demonstrations so far have shown it on Google Android phones. There is some evidence that Apple’s iOS had CarrierIQ integration two years ago, but no data showing that it’s currently in use. For now then, the focus is on Android, and there is an application that can tell you if CarrierIQ is on your Android phone. Update: Your phone needs to be rooted for this app to work.

The free software is available from the XDA-Developers site, where CarrierIQ’s activity was first pointed out. The app, pointed out by TheVerge, is bare-bones and was quickly developed by Trevor Eckhart, the person who demonstrated on video exactly what CarrierIQ is capable of. His detection software is called an .apk file, which is the standard Google Android application installation method, so don’t panic if you’re not familiar with the term .apk.

Eckhart has several versions of the software available at the bottom of the XDA topic page; at last check I saw seven, because he added more security detection features as he developed the app. The one of most interest, however, is the CarrierIQ check, which is performed with a button tap after the app is installed.

I ran Eckhart’s app on my Samsung Galaxy Tab and Google Nexus One; both are free of CarrierIQ software, but I expected that. Both devices run custom versions of Android that I installed myself. CarrierIQ is installed in the software versions from either a carrier or a hardware maker, and since I’ve overwritten their software, there’s practically zero chance that my devices are spying on me.”