THURSDAY, OCTOBER 7, 2004
We're just not making much headway
Privacy may be a lost cause. If terminally overlegislated California can't pass laws to protect it, what state can? Governor Schwarzenegger just killed two privacy bills here in California. And they brought up some interesting points.
The first was a proposal that all employers in California tell their employees if their e-mail and Web usage is being monitored. How many of you know what your company's policy is? Companies should have the right to monitor anything on their network any way they please, as long as they let employees know. And that means
letting you know, not some vague junk buried deep in the company handbook, like, "The company reserves the right to monitor..."
The other piece Schwarzenegger killed would have required medical providers to get your permission before they upload your medical data to a boiler room in some country you can't pronounce whose government can't pronounce "privacy regulations." We just had a stout little example of how wrong that can go
here in San Francisco.
But really, do you care? Or is this just one of those nod-along topics that everyone agrees on and nobody does anything about?
TalkBack | Read all comments WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 6, 2004
OK, I'm trying to imagine something worse...
But, honestly, I can't: a commercial aircraft cabin filled with people talking on their cell phones. Yes, that little slice of hell is coming to a long flight near you.
Qualcomm, Airbus, and American Airlines have been testing a system
wherein a mini cell is set up on a plane, bridging your cell phone to a satellite to make calls to the ground. By using the onboard cell, your phone operates at extremely low power, eliminating the danger of interference with navigation, which has been pretty much debunked anyway. Technically, it's admirable. Socially, it's a disaster.
The only time I'm categorically away from phone calls, e-mail, and IM is when I'm on a plane. Otherwise, people know I have connectivity at my desk or on my hip, and as such, I'm obliged to be available to some degree. I don't want
to get calls when I'm in the air.
Plus, the only place I know I'll really be free from hearing some moron talking too long and too loudly on a cell phone is on a commercial plane. Not a movie theater. Not a national park. Not a library. A plane.
Those seat-back cell phones never caused a problem because they were so expensive. Even now, when many people feel naked without a phone, do you ever see anyone grab a seat-back phone and swipe their credit card?
The FCC and the FAA both have to sign off on this idea, and I have no idea what that likelihood is--neither do they until the idea is formally presented. But I have a hunch this will happen. There's too much revenue and market position at stake. I'd rather have smoking flights return.
What's your take? Have you ever been so itching to make a call from a plane that you're willing to endure everyone else doing the same around you?
TalkBack | Read all comments TUESDAY, OCTOBER 5, 2004
Best Buy has a problem
Nothing wrong with this tube TV
Best Buy has a problem with the big boys. When Sony, Panasonic, et al. refuse to make cheap stuff--and your store relies on their brands for its goods--you end up with a retail chain that loses a fair number of customers to stores that carry crap. So Best Buy's answer is to bring in cheap gear under a new house brand called Insignia. This stuff is made by some giant contract manufacturers in Asia and is appearing now at their stores
. Best Buy's suits say Insignia offers "reasonable quality" for the lowest possible price. Mmmm, sounds enticing. In my opinion, this Insignia thing points to a further bit of social rot where things like large LCD TVs are considered must-haves by people who can't begin to afford one--and that mentality is part of what encourages retailers like Best Buy to go this route. Personally, I don't think it will kill someone who makes $8 an hour to stick with a CRT television. But that's another topic.
TalkBack | Read all comments Cell phone revenue
Cell phones have gotten so cheap to own that they're sold in family packs now. I know of two families who aren't terribly enthusiastic about tech but who still went out recently and bought a round of phones for everyone in the household. The initial expense is almost trivial now. But as with free checking, the profit lies in the up-charges and extras.
Downloadable ring tones will be a $300 million dollar business in the United States this year--double what it was last year and still the smallest ring tone market in the world. Research house Consect says this just indicates that mobile music downloads in this country are the breakout digital music business of the future.
By the way, 56 percent of those ring tones sold were hip-hop jammies.
Meanwhile, there's a lot of buzz in the mobile world lately that we will pay $50 billion in roaming fees this year to our cell phone companies. The number is a little suspect since it comes from a roaming technology company
. But if it's even close to correct, that's a big piece of the roughly $450 billion in total revenue that wireless companies will take in this year.
TalkBack | Read all comments I don't get it
Space travel, I mean. Never have. And this new amateur race to space
really boggles the mind. Can't we leave just one part of the galaxy free from being junked up by the masses?
TalkBack | Read all comments MONDAY, OCTOBER 4, 2004
As has been typical of technology recycling, we have a new law in California
that gets half the job done.
(Yes, I know, I worry about recycling while I bomb around in my gas guzzler and leave my PC on all night. It's a funny world.)
California's new law tells cell phone stores they must take back old cell phones for recycling. It doesn't say much about how--or even if--that recycling is done. If cell phones end up being as mismanaged as other recyclables, I can imagine these scenarios:
- Front-page stories will appear on USA Today that scream "Cell Phone Barge Denied Entry in 27 Countries."
- Machines in the parking lot of your local grocery will let you deposit an old cell phone and get $5 back. (Teens will spend their summers figuring out what combination of a wood block, tinfoil, and spray paint will gank the machine into a payday.)
- A new hole will appear in the Starbucks trash cans labeled, "Cell Phones."
- Communities without single-stream recycling will require you to have separate curbside buckets for Nokia, Motorola, and Samsung phones.
What I'm getting at with this lame stand-up act is that "recycling of technology products" is just code for "ship it to China where someone will hold it over a charcoal fire to boil off the gold like a spoonful of heroin."
One of the better hopes for old cell phones is the so-called resale market--that is, poorer countries. Heck, it works for getting rid of our excess stock of logo T-shirts.
TalkBack | Read all comments