It was September 11, 2009.

I was newly married and was beginning to learn what it meant to be an adult. But, I was still tied to my parents' cell phone plan. In fact, it had not been too long since my parents had graciously purchased me the first Android phone, the T-Mobile G1. Truthfully, that G1 was the entire reason for this debacle.

I was on my way to the Apple store for an entirely different reason. And, as I drove toward the Brandon Towne Center, my G1 rang. I answered (a rarity for me). And then, I lost the call (also a rarity on T-Mobile). I looked at my phone. It said...and I quote..."Application: Phone has frozen"

My one selectable option: "Force Quit Application: 'Phone'"

I looked at Allison and said, "Baby, I'm gonna walk in there and buy an iPhone and be rid of this headache." Surprisingly, she didn't stop me. All she said was, "If you do, I want one too." I walked out of the Apple store, new toy in hand, convinced that if I "didn't like it" that I would "return it within 30 days no questions asked."


I never looked back. It took me all of 45 seconds of playing with it that night to know we'd be back to buy another one very soon.

The infamous catch: the iPhone was only offered on AT&Terrible. After hearing horror stories about the company left and right, I remember saying to someone on the phone (after the purchase), "I just signed a contract with the devil."

It is that very contract that brings me here today. That very contract, those infamous two-year agreements, and the enticing 'grandfathering' of certain features has kept me with the company ever since. Since then, the iPhone has released on two other US carriers, Verizon and Sprint, and has sold spectacularly well despite certain hindrances to those carriers' service.

Up until this point, I've been allowed to keep my "Unlimited" data package that I originally signed up for back in 2009. This is not only no longer available on AT&Terrible, Verizon, or T-Mobile (the only main US carrier to feature unlimited data for the iPhone is Sprint and most have said that its speeds are abysmal), but it is coveted by every user who was enticed by AT&Terrible's 'hotspot' feature and immediately lost their unlimited data.

Until recently.

Lately, AT&Terrible has been cracking down on their 'bandwith hogs.' AT&Terrible has been forcing some users to have their data throttled to unusable speeds because they were 'using too much bandwith for their area.' As you can imagine, it lit up a storm. Some guy even sued them (and won) because he says they broke the contract.

So, AT&Terrible (understandably in a problematic place...people want fast data and they want lots of it) has changed their policy.

The New Policy:

  • Previously 'granfathered' users won't have their data throttled until they reach 3GB a month.
  • This is true for every user nationwide.
  • The 'unlimited' plan costs $30 a month, matching the $30 3GB a month plan they currently sell.
  • With a limited plan, the user has an option to buy unthrottled data for an extra $10/GB.

It seems fair, doesn't it?

In many ways, I suppose that it does. AT&Terrible needed a way to make this more fair, and they came up with one. Good move, buck-os.

Except for one thing - customer loyalty.

I once told an AT&Terrible manager on the phone that I don't stay with his service for the call quality, reliability, or widespread coverage (ALL THREE OF THESE SUCK COMPARED TO THE OTHER OPTIONS)...I stay because I stupidly signed a contract to be there and they were the only company that carried the iPhone...and because they still offered unlimited data. And, for the most part, I had good experiences with their customer service (I was approved for two iPhone 4s in the store by a manager...who didn't have to do what he did...after having spent 5 hours on the phone with customer service the weekend before. I greatly appreciated his kindness.).

There is now no advantage to having stayed with AT&Terrible. Looking forward, I'm looked at the same as the guy who has been with the company for 20 years, and the woman who signed the contract last week. Me, who stuck with the company when large numbers of customers declared an exodus to go to Verizon last January, is looked at the same. I have no pull, draw, or extra weight given to my account. I am much like the rest of the world.

I know what you're thinking...that's fair.

But fair isn't what creates great customer interactions. Fair isn't what convices the user to stick with a company. Fair is a nice concept, but it ends up not appearing fair to much of the people who thought they were giving you the benefit of the doubt when the world turned on you. Fair isn't a real thing.

When Apple replaces your iPhone for free when they didn't have to, that's not fair. That's Apple being a stand up company. Does it cost Apple more? Sure. Does it make it harder for them? Sure. Why do they do it? Not because it is or isn't fair. They do it because they want to keep you as a customer and they're going to do everything in their power to convince you to fall in love with their product and company. I go to a certain dry cleaners not because they were fair to me, I went because I liked the work and they went out of their way to make it better, not fair, for me.

Fair is stupid. The world isn't, never was, and never will be fair. It sounds good, it really does. And we are invited to truly believe it. But it simply isn't how American society has ever worked.

Better is what companies should go for. Not fair. Fair is what governments should go for, not companies.

Companies should try to win over consumers. The only reason I stick with AT&Terrible now is because they still have the fastest 3G network. You'd better bet that once Verizon's 4G LTE network takes off on a greater scale (like it already is doing) that AT&Terrible will be fighting for my business.

Because at this point, Unlimited data is simply a thing of the past.



Steve Jobs vs. Bill Gates

This was shown to me by a 'friend':

I'll simply respond by the same comment I posted to his page:  

Both were ruthless businessmen who have changed the world in unimaginable ways. One, more or less, ripped off the other's uses of a technology already at use by a company who didn't know what to do with it.    This representation, of course, is a person's rendering of each person's 'morality' and no more than propaganda, but continue on mein führer...

    That is all.   -B

On Rick Perry: A Response to His Latest Commercial

[youtube=]Mindblowing.  Truly, mindblowing.  I find myself resonating with many conservative ideals from time to time.  Many of my close friends and loved ones are Republicans, and adamant Republicans at that. If you hang out here much, you'll find that I waiver on 'sides' and try my hardest to be charitable to each side.  I'm not always very successful at it (and my critics might say I'm never so) but that is often my intention.  We are all flawed humans.   But this latest bit of nonsense is out of this world. Out. Of. This. World.   I didn't like this guy before, but I'm now convinced: he's scum.   Let's tear apart this commercial, shall we?  

"I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm a Christian," 

Great, Rick. A few things:

  1. This statement only works in places where Christianity is under attack and the majority of the population does not claim to be Christian (more on this later).
  2. This "I'm not ashamed" nonsense was cool back when the lead singer of the Newsboys was bald with an accent, not black. Give it up.
  3. We're electing a leader.  Lots of leaders are Christian.  How does this separate you from the other dogs in the pack.  Are you a super-Christian? If so, you should have mentioned it here.
  4. Bleh.

but you don't need to be in the pew every Sunday to know there's something wrong in this country 

Rick, IF your argument, as it seems to be, revolves around Chrisitianity not being prevalent enough in American society, THEN you can't start off with the phrase "you don't need to be in the pew every Sunday."  Rick, American Chrisitianity is built around communal worship. If you're going to throw that out, you're left with a bunch of people who believe in "Christian ideals" who don't know what "Christian ideals" are...BECAUSE THEY'RE NOT IN CHURCH. Please. At least say something like, "Those of us in the pew every Sunday understand what this country needs."  At least that'd be consistent.  

when gays can serve openly in the military 

Oh, come on. Let's say you think being gay is a moral sin.  And you believe that America is a country based upon this moral teaching. And...IF you believe that, you're STILL not going let them serve their country, like any other American?  You need people to fight for you, and you're being picky? What does their 'immoral way of living' have anything to do with their patriotism and willingness to give their lives for others? What, Rick? Why? Because other soldiers were homophobic?  DIDN'T WE GO THROUGH THIS FOURTY YEARS AGO?! And...the way you say "gays" is shameful.  These are people who feel different, outcasted from society.  Many find a voice within that, but they're still often shunned.  You don't pronounce "Republicans," "soldiers," "Christians," "Texans," or anything else with the same tense voice. If you win, you're not setting yourself up for a unified country, you're setting yourself up to be hated by most.  Phenomenal leadership skills, just phenomenal.  

but our kids can't openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school. 

He gets something for prayer, because I'm lazy. I don't even know what the legal situation is for prayer in school because it seems so different depending on who you talk to.  I thought about looking it up, but it wasn't worth my time.  Kids openly celebrate Christmas all the time.  The whole country celebrates Christmas, whether they attach the name to it or not. Stop with the hounding, no one is taking your Christmas away except for Target, Macy's, Walmart, and Toys R Us...who are stealing Thanksgiving while they're at it, too. OH, AND WHAT DOES YOUR CHILD'S PRAYER LIFE HAVE TO DO WITH SOMEONE SERVING IN THE MILITARY?!?!?!?!  

As President, I'll end Obama's war on religion. 

Bahahahahahahahahaha.  Obama has a war on religion? What?  That doesn't even make any sense. Obama is a Christian.  And even if he WERE a Muslim, he'd still be religious. Capitalism has a war on Christmas, and possibly religion because of the mindset it encourages.  Obama, does not.  

And I'll fight against liberal attacks on our religious heritage.

I just finished a course in American Christianity.  Yes, we, like ALMOST EVERY NATION AND COUNTRY TO EVER EXIST have some sort of a religious heritage.  But, I doubt that that heritage is the same that you think it is, Rick.  Read a book.  In America we don't believe that our religious beliefs should be imposed on someone else if they don't believe the same thing. We believe that everyone should worship in the way they so choose. We believe that sometimes you may feel as if you can't be as outwardly 'religious' as you might so choose, but we agree upon that so that the religions you don't impose their beliefs on you.  We keep peace that way, like humans should.   

Faith made America strong. It can make her strong again. 

Wrong. Self-centered greed, a fight for the American Dream, capitalism, striking first with annihilation bombs, being separated from the rest of the world, strong leadership (unlike you), continuing attention to education, innovations, and fortunate historical circumstances made America strong. As a Christian, I believe that faith is enough.  But, I'm convinced that the ways that you and I define faith are different, Governor.  

I'm Rick Perry and I approve this message.

Well, there's that.   -B

AutoTuned Siri

Ever wondered what Siri would sound like AutoTuned. Wonder no more.


Funny work. Catchy progression.


The Occupy Occupy Movement

My good friend, and one of the brilliant minds behind the "Come in Pluto" movement, Jordan Stout, is heading up the Occupy Occupy movement beginning in Tampa. It's a quality movement and quite enlightening. Their work is solid.

Lucky for you, he's releasing a documentary. And so, with that, he has posted a teaser video for what will surely be the film of the century.

Nice work with iMovie if you ask me.


Find them on Facebook.


Five Year Old "Super Bass"

As you watch this little gem, ask yourself questions like, "Is what we play on the radio formational?" or "How do kids learn things so much faster than we do?" or "Should we film our children?" or "What the heck is her sidekick doing the whole time?"


Five years old. While I don't support children this young saying, "Excuse me, you're a hell of a guy"....

...she killed it. I'd love to hear her sing in two more years.


College Football Makes The World a Worse Place

I went to a tiny liberal arts college in Central Florida. It's not known to many outside the state, except for foreign tourists, and was recently awarded the "US's Most Beautiful Campus" by the Princeton Review.

We had a bunch of national championships (I used to know exactly but I've lost count) in D2 sports and rarely had much of a following from students. At least not like some other schools have.

I've been criticized (getting close to being on a daily basis) for the teams I choose to follow.

I'd like to be clear, though:I've always been a baseball fan and have only recently come to follow football and basketball. I have never claimed to know a whole lot about any sports and am not as addicted to ESPN as some of my friends are. I've dealt with feeling left out of conversations and feeling stupid by many people's conversations. In an effort to NOT make that happen, I've attempted to pay more attention to sports. I've chosen a few teams to pay attention to, some of which my family members follow, some of which are schools I attended or have friends who attended, some of which I've followed for a while, and some of which I simply chose. I don't purchase a lot of team paraphernalia and so I think I'm completely within my right to follow whatever teams I'd like without the criticism from outside voices who happen to disagree. I have a few Duke hats and t-shirts (and by the way, I attend that school) and one Boston Red Sox hat. That's it. If I hear another criticism of what teams I do or don't follow, why, and why you look down upon me for following them, I WILL NO LONGER CONSIDER YOU A FRIEND. HEAR ME LOUD AND CLEAR...IT HAS BEEN ENOUGH, it is no longer funny.

For grad school, I selected Duke University. In case you haven't heard, Duke's basketball team (and this silly one down the street) is pretty competitive. Since going to Duke, I've found a new love for college basketball. I mean seriously, go to one game in Cameron Indoor and you'll love it. I do. I love it.

But Duke students suck. They really do.

Wait, we.

We yell, scream, shout obscenities, boo refs, scream some more, jump up and down, blow out your eardrums, and us Divinity students forget we have a life of faith for a couple of hours once a week or so. We talk a lot of basketball outside of Cameron but most of us leave the rude behavior in the room. Or, at least we try.

But football season is here. While Duke has a pretty awful football team, I am from a state with a few good ones. And the hate circling Facebook (and I admit, I add to it) is again out of control. Rivalries vs. Rivalries, teams seemingly forgotten about trying to prove themselves, teams ranked highly trying to maintain their rankings, teams from the middle of nowhere going 5-0, and certain conferences dominating. It makes for "fun" conversation but the addition of Internet trolls (again, I'm not innocent) has made it worse.

But college football has gotten worse with the advent of social media.

Rivalries that bordered on hatred have developed into full-on hatred. And relationships are hurt and broken. It's no longer about disagreements, it's about who is right and why your loyalty to a team is far better than another person's loyalty. And if you cheer for a team and didn't attend that school, your fandom is somehow less than the other person's fandom (there's a strong argument to be made that this theory is correct...I used it with Duke earlier...but I don't ever think that a Duke fan who didn't attend is less of a fan than little old me who has been here for a year and a half). And if they think about things differently, you're wrong.

And it all comes down to winning and losing.

And I suppose I'm starting to see that this does nothing for unity.
It does nothing for society. Except sell t-shirts when your team wins.

I guess I'm kind of tired of the world taking themselves too seriously.
I guess I'm kind of tired of people not taking jokes.
I guess I'm kind of tired of us acting like winning is everything.
I guess I'm kind of tired of us thinking that our colors define who we are.
I guess I'm kind of tired of us.

We hurt others. We don't have conversations. And we alienate large groups of people. And while we may be unified inside those stadiums, we segregate ourselves.

I'm guilty of it, and I'd imagine many of you are too.


Seriously, enough with the hate on the teams I follow and comment on. It's enough. Really. What do you gain by making fun of me? Like really, what?

Thoughts on the New Facebook or, "STOP CHANGING, FACEBOOK!"

Yesterday, Reed Hastings (CEO of Netflix) included this statement in his apology letter to Netflix's customers:

For the past five years, my greatest fear at Netflix has been that we wouldn't make the leap from success in DVDs to success in streaming. Most companies that are great at something – like AOL dialup or Borders bookstores – do not become great at new things people want (streaming for us).

(Keep this thought process in the back of your mind for now. We'll get back to it)

Today, Google opened up Google+ up to everybody (something I argue they should have done since the beginning), including anyone without an invite.

Coincidently (or perhaps not so) Facebook made some significant changes to their layout, functionality, and design over the past week. We all know the one constant in our lives: when Facebook makes a change, the whole world complains.

Without a doubt, the changes Facebook made are significant. The way stories show up in a news feed is almost completely different and they've now instituted an extra "creeper bar" (not mine or Facebook's terminology) to show the user what's going on with their friends, in real time.

Most of the comments I've heard are not based around the design factors, the content, the creepiness, or anything else.  No, the comments I've heard have almost all been monolithic: "STOP CHANGING, FACEBOOK!"

I suppose that somewhere inside of all of us is an inherent desire to remain comfortable. I suppose we all want to stick with what we have.  It is the same reason that sooooo many people are still running Windows XP. If something costs money and is likely to make things more confusing, people are likely to forego it if at all possible.

What occurred to me, though, was that no one complains about Windows coming out with a new OS because it changes(I have it, more comments later on it). No one complains about Apple coming out with a new OS because it changes.  Why? Probably because it costs money to upgrade. **I'll forego, at this time, my argument that everyone should upgrade (except for Windows Vista) to a new Operating System whenever possible.**

But with Facebook, you don't get a choice.  They upgrade your account and Facebook experience for you, without your permission.  And no, they didn't ask you first.

And Facebook is free. They control what you can and can't do (no matter how much we convince ourselves that we are in control of our own information) and we are their mercy.

So why the problem? Why the complaints?

Because Facebook has to change. Because there was this little company that started a social network with a dumb bird as a logo that is growing at unbelievable speeds. And because one of the biggest companies in the world that seemingly controls all of the information on the internet and how we find it decided to create a pretty good competitor to the big FBook.

And, people don't have a lot of loyalty to Facebook.  They don't have any money invested in it. And switching networks will become more feasible as more people are on both.

There's a threat at hand. Facebook is facing an enemy, one who is trying to steal their user base. This hurts page views.  This hurts ad clicks.  This hurts profits.  This hurts their business model.

They can't remain stagnate. No one can.

The best thing a Facebook user can do is to accept the fact that one of the biggest things they're addicted to in the world is really, at its heart, a competitive business and nothing more. Zuckerberg might try to sell you on their "connect everyone better" mission, but they won't survive without money. Like any capitalistic group, Facebook is a business and needs to stay that way to move any further. When people invade their turf, they're going to fight back with everything they can because...they simply have to.

The better question ought to be, "How can you change, make yourself more useful, and still maintain a simplistic atmosphere moving that doesn't confuse people?"

This is what Google has nailed. When they came into the search scene, they didn't just stay with search. They made themselves better.  They evolved.  They made themselves more useful. But, when you're trying to find something on, there's no question as to where to start typing.



How the Netflix Disaster Really Went Down

Netflix is facing a lot of heat, even AFTER Reed Hasting's (their CEO) email yesterday apologizing to the entire Netflix community about how he handled this. The wonderful world of JoyOfTech provides insider information on how this all went down. Original post here.


Sure seems to be what they were thinking. I tend to think Reed knows what he is doing, and he is fighting an uphill battle against the content companies, who keep demanding more and more and more money.

It'll be interesting to see how it shakes out.



One of Duke's Wesleyans pointed me to this little gem this weekend. What a find. Thank God 1) This is fake and 2) My Greek community was nothing like this:



The iPad, errrr, "Tablet" Market

You may have heard. HP, the company who likely made many of the laptops you see in day to day ongoings, announced yesterday that they are completely going out of the consumer product business.

The Wall Street Journal writes this of the conference call:

“The tablet effect is real, and sales of the TouchPad are not meeting our expectations,” Apotheker says, explaining the movement of consumers from PCs to tablets as one of the problems with the PC division. So H-P is exploring options for its unit that “may include separation through spinoff or other transactions.”

The iPad is killing computer sales. HP thought they could be a part of this paradigm shift, but they've proven that they can't.

Only problem: HP spent a significant amount of money on producing their tablet, the HP TouchPad, which was reported as having abysmal sales since its introduction 49 days before its demise.

Literally, this thing was on the market for 49 days before HP threw in the towel. 49 days. They dropped the price by $100. They promoted the heck out of it. 49 days.

Absolute failure.

And it's really a shame. the TouchPad was easily (in my opinion) the best iPad competitor. It was behind in speed, app market, thickness, OS robustness, and physical locations to buy it, but it was easily better than anything else on the market. Besides the iPad.

And when someone goes to buy a tablet with $500 in hand, they're going to choose the iPad over the TouchPad. This is reality.

Today, HP dropped the price to $99. $99! It made even me think about buying one. Because a full tablet (no matter whether it is dead end or not) for $99 is a clear steal.

Problem? You can't find them. All the retail chains are reporting to be out of them, and the geeks are going crazy buying them up. Because for $99, why not?

Then I see this nonsense on Facebook:

Well HP has proven one thing: There's a LOT of interest in tablets, just not at $500. Which is...exactly what a lot of us have been saying all along: Apple fanboys would buy the iPad at $20,000; the rest of us would only buy it at $200 or less.


Apple announced several months ago that they'd sold 25 million iPads. Some at $499. Some at $829. That's more than fanboys. That's more than Apple elite. It's because Apple came into a brand new market with a price that competed SIGNIFICANTLY with anything ANYONE ELSE would be able to create. Why? Because Apple bought a huge supply of flash memory in bulk, lowering their cost. Why? Because they integrate the hardware and software better than anyone else.

Apple created a market, an interest, and a device that completely changed who Apple is and the future the tech industry is taking. They did it at a competitive price (one others couldn't match) and sold the heck out of it.

HP isn't proving that there is an interest in tablets. HP is proving that if you create a product that is worse than a competitor's and sell it at the same price, people won't buy it; then if you lower the price by $400 and sell it significantly under your own cost, then you might be able to sell the remaining tiny stock you have already produced, at what could eventually be a several million dollar (perhaps billion dollar) company loss. Cool work, HP.

There is a tablet market, but HP didn't prove anything. Apple did, and they did it in the way that counts...profit.

25 million. And that's before my dad bought one.


God Bless NASCAR

Somehow I missed this entire meme until now. Work has been too busy, I guess.

So...there's this pastor. I think he's a pastor of Family Baptist Church in Lebanon, TN. In April, he prayed this prayer before a NASCAR race: You don't want to miss this.

[youtube=]Let's be straight: that was good. Quality communication with the Father if I do say so myself.

But only a few months later, big boy outdid himself. If you skipped the first one, shame on you. DONT MISS THIS ONE.

Boogity, boogity, boogity, AMEN

[youtube=]The faces of the drivers are about the most wonderful thing in the world. I'll forego this opportunity to criticize his use of the word "power" when he has been charged with demonstrating and relating the power of God. I think he stole the "Boogity" line from Darrell Waltrip, but he used it in a way that will be remembered for ages.

Of course, the Songify kids put this gem together (though I think footage from a Dale Earnhardt crash is probably in poor taste):

[youtube=]I hope you've benefited from this experience. I know I have.

Lessons I've learned: I want to go to his church and God Bless NASCAR.

Boogity, boogity, boogity, AMEN.


UPDATE: It's Lebanon, TN, not Nashville. Also, their website is a real treat. FULLY colored in Red, White, and Blue. You need to check it out. Do so, here.

The KJV on Contemporary Music

Michael Pearl (whoever he is) on Contemporary Music in the Church.


It is obvious that he has shining opinions. It's also fairly obvious which side he is on.

I hear tons of arguments for and against "contemporary music" (whatever that means) in the Church very, very often. Many make good points. Others make points like our friend above.

It is, though, an interesting approach to be sure. All of his other videos seem to focus around the Bible for guidance in issues he drones on about(yeah, I watched more than one). This one, besides the trumpet point at the end, does none of that. Rather, he uses "science" (and to use that term is more than a large stretch) to talk about how a happy song can't have a "sad" melody or harmonic pattern. While most any human would agree with this notion at first glance, I doubt many are able to make the jump that our friend does here (we might also profit from thinking about how many other emotions are portrayed within music, especially outside of the realm of happy and sad). Somehow he went from that concept to...rap music glorifies violence and rape. While we all know that many songs on the radio do glorify violence, rarely (if at all) do they glorify rape. And, just because a rapist listens to rap music, doesn't mean that all music with the same rhythms or "beats" is intended for rape and violence. It's a boggling correlation that makes very, very little sense.

He remarks that music that glorifies God has to have four part harmonies and be the music of "Bach and Beethoven." He also says that that was when music was at its best, "it was at its most complex." I'm a fan of both noted composers, but music has become more and more complex since the time of Bach and Beethoven. It is only within the past 75 years or so that music has "simplified." Beethoven's works, in and of themselves, are good examples of the progression of complexity that continued through time. If one compared Beethoven's early works to his later works, one might not be even able to tell that they were written by the same man. Bach was incredibly talented and brilliantly minded to be sure, but complexity within music (specifically within harmonic studies) has become more and more developed since his time. It's what we like to call "progress" and it is both necessary and inevitable.

The part about the trumpet may have some truth to it (I haven't done any research) but he contradicts himself again when he speaks about how if the spirit of God tugs at you then it is Godly music. He assumes that all people feel the spirit of God in the music he does.

We all know what you do when you ass-u-me.


NOTE: My choice of title for this post is intended to reflect the irony of our friend's lack of Biblical insight into this "issue" while also explaining to the reader who Michael Pearl is. He only uses the KJV Bible, and actively speaks negatively about all other translations, including the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament. He prefers the Masoritic and Vulgate, which in translation were heavily influenced by church politics. Because when you want an accurate translation, politics are the first thing your need.

This post spends no time at all looking into what the KJV actually says about music (the trumpet parts appear in every text). If you're disappointed by this reality please accept my profuse, yet not that profuse, apologies.

Samsung Steals. Again and Again and Again.

You couldn't make this stuff up if you tried. I mean, down to the colors!

Found via John Gruber here.

It really is too bad that they couldn't do any better though.


Alas, I couldn't find it on their site. I hope this is real.

UPDATE: This was built by Anymode, Inc. Some knock off Korean company. Samsung did, though, certify it. Awesome.


They're at it again. The newest creation: [youtube=]

and, the infamous (and incredibly annoying) original


Yes, I downloaded their app. I'll let you know how it is.


Selling Your Information, or, Google+

So the newest Google product made its way unceremoniously to the public's eye yesterday. We all had a feeling that it was coming.

This is the way Google does things isn't it? If they have something they are fairly confident in (Google Music, Android, etc) they talk about it at their developers conferences, much like Apple does. However, Google also does a lot of experimenting with products. These they often release under the radar, hoping that the blogosphere will take care of it.

And, they do.

But it also always seems to be these products that seem the creepiest.

I must be clear before pressing on though: I do an awful lot of bad-mouthing of Google and their products. But GMail, without a doubt, is still the best email system in the world...Google is easily the best search engine in the world...Google Docs is still the best way to collaborate on documents in the world (but, really, that isn't saying much)...and the Google contacts, calendar, and ecosystem is currently the best free way to keep your life in sync. Google puts out a ton of great products. I don't happen to like Android as much as iOS, but Android is a REALLY strong mobile operating system and each time I pick up one of my parents' phones, I am pleasantly surprised. So, I hate on Google a bit too much, but there is no denying that most of what they do is quality work; it just doesn't have the style, elegance, or seamless user experience that Apple has come to be known for...yet.

And Google's newest product is...Google+.

Google+ is, very simply put, an attempt at creating a better version of Facebook and Twitter. It takes ideas and concepts from both and uses them in nice, new ways.

Given Google's previous work in the web app space, they have a fair chance. Given Google's previous work in the social media space, they have no chance at all.

But all that aside, I can't review Google+ yet. I CAN say that it looks very promising. But, it is missing many more things (and I mean this almost literally: in the thousands) to be able to compete with the monstrosity that is Facebook. But, for what it is and where it is, it is very, very good.

Here's my fear: how does Google make its money?

Google's revenue is based almost completely in advertising (something like 96% of its revenue). This is no secret to the world. This is why when your mom emails you about buying your dad a tie, you see ads about ties in the bottom of your gmail. Google is using what should be private, sensitive information to advertise to you within not just search results, but your email client and many other things.

Facebook has received a lot of criticism in the past about how much information they have of yours and how they use it to make money. And don't try to sugar-coat it: Facebook is doing the exact same thing that Google is doing. But Facebook has much more than sensitive information within in an email: they have your name, address, phone, email, likes/dislikes, political status, pictures, friend lists, location, etc.

But, up until this point, Facebook hasn't had my email (though they are actively trying to change that), calendar, contacts, etc. They have had sensitive information, but they haven't had all of it.

And Google saw that omission.

And they wanted in.

So they designed a sleek new social network, so they could get that information, easily. What's the easiest way to get someone's information? Don't steal it, you can go to jail for that. No, ask them for it. Don't worry, if you give them a cool video chat feature, they'll want it so badly that they'll give it to you.

Call me a fanboy or just old-fashioned, but I'd rather the company I rely on not get their revenue from advertising (with influence from my information). I'd rather they get their revenue from me buying their shiny gadgets. Because in that way, they don't have an interest in finding out more about me, they only have an interest in making better, more attractive products. It still works like...the free-market capitalistic society was designed to work.

It is true that Google isn't "selling your information." No, not in the way that we have always thought about it. They're not selling our phone numbers to telemarketers. And that information isn't really being "shared" with others other than Google. But really, it's not too different. That information may truly be "private" by the world's previous standards, but I have a feeling that our definition of privacy is being redefined on a daily basis. And I also have a hunch that we haven't even seen the beginning of the problems our addiction to social media networks will cause.

Eric Schmidt was asked recently, "Should we be scared that Google knows too much about us?" To which he responded, "Would you rather us know about you or the government know about you?"

Neither, Eric. But if I had to choose, I'd choose the one who wasn't making billions of dollars from that knowledge.

Oh, the world we live in.

And yes, I'm still going to give Google+ a try. I'm addicted, just like the rest of us.


I Used To Want a Segway...

...but then I saw this on the Today Show. This is like some "holy crap we are living in some sort of robot-controlled-future time" stuff.


Ok, maybe not so futuristic but if I'm not doing this by the end of the year, I'm going to be so mad.