This be a test. Yarrgh!

7 01 2010

Testing WordPress for BlackBerry.


Wireless in Peril?

17 11 2008

People ask me, semi-regularly, if I’m worried about current economic conditions hurting my paycheck.  Honestly, I’m not too concerned about it.


With cell phones becoming a primary (if not sole) means of communication for so many people I don’t really see sales plummeting.  I would certainly expect to see sales of high-end phones (and their higher-priced data plans) slump a little and would expect to see the same of accessory sales, but I don’t think there will be any sort of cataclysmic shitstorm of store closures and firings/layoffs.


Also, I think that market saturation did the most damage to cell sales.  Since the number of first-time cell owners plummeted about 3-4 years ago so did sales.  Now the big thing is trying to woo people over from their current provider.  The 2 main ways to accomplish this have been a) offering a better deal and b) capitalizing on a bad experience with the previous/current provider.  Either of these situations (especially the former) can generate a sale and woo someone to come over to your side in a down-turned economy.  Granted, on a cosmic scale, someone else lost that revenue so the overall cell market may consider it a wash, but for me it’s a gain.


A decade ago, before mobile phones really became super-mainstream, the economy would scare me.  As it is now, I’m no more concerned about sales and quotas than I was this time 4 years ago.  The only thing that would worry me is a sudden improvement in customer service from the other carriers – I may be shooting myself in the foot here, but the vast majority of my customers who came over from one of the other Big 4 carriers came because they felt like they were being mistreated.


I know it sounds cheesy, but for anyone is wireless, I think the best way to ride out the tough(er) times is to provide superior customer support and to fit plans and features to their needs as opposed to pushing them to get the most expensive ones available.  It’ll mean that whatever business they can send to you, they will.


Video Game Sales Strong in Tough Times?

14 11 2008

So I saw this story at Reuters and I agree with it.


I think that part of the reason is that, if you already have a system, a video game is relatively cheap.  I know, I know, a lot of games are around $70 now, whereas original Playstation games were all $39.99, but I’m about to explain myself.

Most games offer hours and hours of game-play and have a lot of replay value due to different endings and difficulty settings.  This means that your $70 will probably get you days and days of entertainment.  2 people go to a movie and you’re looking at $20 for tickets and you’re getting (maybe) 2 hours of entertainment.

Anyway, that’s all for now.

Q-Chat – The Future of Direct Connect and What Should Come Next

7 07 2008

Sprint finally has some (5) Q-Chat phones available.  3 are rugged, 1 is fairly entry-level and 3 are fairly high-end (the yet-to-be-released Moto model has a 2+ megapixel camera).  Q-Chat was the original name of the all-CDMA push-to-talk (PTT) service that will replace their iDEN Direct Connect.  The new service allows CDMA devices to connect via walkie-talkie to iDEN (Nextel) devices over the Sprint network.  This is super important because the iDEN network is already prettydarned crowded and they’re going to need to vacate a portion of it covering millions of subscribers.  If Sprint would just release a BlackBerry with Q-Chat (which is actually taking over its iDEN predecessor’s Direct Connect moniker) they could finally make an honest push to phase out iDEN and somewhat focus themselves.


The question:  Is it (way) too little (way) too late?

The FCC Takes an Official Stab at ETFs

12 06 2008

A while ago, I wrote a post (over at about Representative Edward Markey’s (D – MA) proposal to introduce a Mobile Phone bill of rights.  One of the topics it would have addressed is the Early Termination Fee (ETF) that carriers make you pay to leave them before your contract is complete.


The FCC is looking at putting forward an official guideline for ETFs.  Here is the AP article about it.


The FCC wants ETFs to be based on phone value and to depreciate over the length of the contract.  AT&T and Verizon already do this, and Sprint has said they will (although it hasn’t happened yet).  According to Markey’s draft, the ETF would have to be cut by at least 50% once the contract is half-way over.  The FCC hasn’t given any hard numbers like that yet.


The FCC also wants to mandate a maximum contract length as well as extending the time during which you can cancel service without paying the fee – for most states/carriers it’s 30 days.  FCC Chairman Kevin Martin wants to extend the period until the customer has had time to receive and review the first bill, which may currently not be until after it’s too late to back out.


Sometimes, the FCC is overreacting to nipples and swearing and seems like a bunch of old prudes with way too much time on their hands.  Other times, it’s very clear (to me) why the Commission exists and I totally want to give Kevin Martin a big, cheesy high five.

Dear Gawker – I’m Not Your Biggest Fan (I Know, You’re Crushed)

9 06 2008

Gawker ran a story that I caught via Valleywag and the headline was enough to annoy the heck out of me –

Prepare To Never Again Have A Private Moment At A Bar

The story is about Loopt becoming available on the new iPhone.  The headline shows a huge lack of understanding of the product it’s bashing.  The article sounds less like a product review and more like someone upset about their lack of Dodgeball friends.

My favorite quote?  The attempt at a witty close (something I’m super duper guilty of, but hey, I amuse myself where this toolbox doesn’t amuse me in the least) –

And eventually, if you’re caught going out for a drink without inviting all your friends, some lonely acquaintance of yours is going to bug you about why they weren’t part of the group. Thanks a lot Apple.

The entire article, right to the end, skips over something huge – You choose who sees your updates.  And, oh yeah, that just because you buy a 3G iPhone doesn’t mean you’ll sign up for Loopt.  They’ve been around for a while on Boost, Nextel, Sprint and more recently Verizon handsets.  Do they have nearly 200 million subscribers?  I don’t think so.


Sorry for being almost as annoying and ranty as Mr. Gawker Man, but the people who get so annoyed by things like this are almost never the people using them.  And if they are, it seems a little odd.  I mean, I wouldn’t pay for something (unless it were a necessity) if I thought it was a dumb as Gawky Gawkerson seems to think Loopt is.  Though, from the article I can see the author as being the kind of douche who would sign up for the service and then lament its lamity just to prove that he was right.


A word of advice to any would-be consumers of…anything – If you think it’ll suck, don’t buy it!

22 05 2008

So I have 2 channels on the site.  What the heck is  Glad you asked! is a very simple way to share your media (pictures, audio, media).


The Basics
You start out by creating an account – just the standard stuff like picking out a user name and password, entering an email address, etc.  Once you have your account you’re free to roam around and check out everyone else’s channels.  If a channel isn’t password protected you can produce content for that channel (don’t worry, I’ll explain that in a bit).  If the channel is protected, well, you’ll need the password.

Create a Channel
On your account home screen there’s a handy-dandy link labeled “Create a new channel.”  Next you need to pick out a name for your channel.  Provided the name you picked is available you’ll proceed to the channel display screen.  Here you can tweak how the channel name is displayed and you can upload an image to use as a logo for your channel.  Next screen,  you get a little more nitty-gritty.  This is where you can decide whether or not your channel is password-protected, if submissions will be moderated and if the chat will be open to anyone.  Did I fail to mention chat?  Your channel has a built-in chatroom.  How cool is that?  People can let you know what they think as they see your content and you, or anyone else, can respond to them.  So, incredibly cool.  I can’t express how in love I am with the built-in chat feature.

Producing a Show
If you load up the advanced production tool, you have a ton of options.  There’s a display of what will show on you channel and a set of widgets to the left.  The widget that you drag onto the display determines the type of content.  The three big ones are picture, slide show and video.  Once you drop off the widget you can upload the content to your channel.  There are additional widgets you can add in to provide a caption or even music (Kyte has a pretty decent library of music to add to your show).  Add a title and tags and you’re ready to hit “Broadcast” and share your show with the world.

This is where I think it gets really fun.  By clicking on the menu option on a show you’ll find the share option.  From here, what I think is most useful is the embed tool.  There are buttons for various blogs.  If you click on one and enter your user info Kyte will create a post for you that embeds your channel for you. Also cool is the ability to choose to embed current show or the newest content. That way, you can showcase specific content or just treat people to your latest show.

There are a ton of other features, like the ability to have your new shows announced on Twitter, for instance.  You can even email content directly to a channel, skipping over the login and uploading.

Now, is a beta, so there are still kinks to be worked out.  The main kink is navigation.  I think what’s missing for me is an account-level toolbar. Maybe with an embed button so that you could pull the embed code for your channel a little more easily?  What doesn’t work is very elusive – I know that something is off, but I can’t put my finger on exactly what it is.

There are inevitably the people who want to say “How are you going to compete with YouTube” the same way that people ask Jason Calacanis how he thinks Mahalo is going to compete with Google.  What I think is overlooked is that YouTube and Kyte can coexist.  Kyte allows for a more raw feed – you take the content from your machine and (minimally) produce it through the site and then broadcast it.  YouTube requires you to have a finished product that you upload.  I think that YouTube and Kyte can coexist and each fulfill a niche that the other doesn’t. 

For more info on Kyte, click here.
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