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Canada’s cellphone rates among the highest, USA even higher!

Did you think you pay a lot for cellphone coverage? An article in the Globe and Mail about cellphone rates states that while Canada's cellphone rates are really high compared to other countries, the USA pays even more:

"In each category, however, services in Canada rated less expensive than those in the United States, which ranked most expensive in low and medium usage and sixth most expensive in the high-use category." (from The Globe and Mail)

cellphone, costs, canada

Insightful tying together of the Health Care “debate”, Woodstock, Kennedy and Mad Men

Check out this insightful editorial in Sunday's New York by Frank Rich. I thought it was really good. Here's an excerpt:

"“It’s the economy, the facts that millions of people have lost their jobs and millions of others are afraid of losing theirs,” theorizes one heckled senator, Arlen Specter. That’s surely part of it. So is fear of more home foreclosures and credit card bankruptcies. So is fear of China, whose economic ascension stands in stark contrast to the collapse of traditional American industries from automobiles to newspapers. So is fear of Barack Obama, whose political ascension dramatizes the coming demographic order that will relegate whites to the American minority. In our uncharted new frontier, even the most reliable fixture for a half-century of American public life, the Kennedy family, is crumbling." (from Mad Men Crashes Woodstock's Birthday)

Can you imagine better free publicity for Mad Men? As a result, I eagerly awaited to see the season opener of Mad Men last night. It was disappointingly rudderless. What a missed opportunity. Instead of getting their hooks into a potentially new audience, nothing much happened. Yes it had the usual great acting and interesting vignettes. But nothing that would make it must see tv , although I still am putting it on my Tivo 🙂

madmen, tv, obama, frankrich

[Random Geek Thought] Human DoS

It strikes me that the way speakers are being shouted down at these (now) famous town hall meetings on health care reform is a form on human 'denial of service' attack.

They are taking advantage of a permitted communication (asking a question) to totally shut down a service (the speaker) by overwhelming the service with communications, thereby denying service to others in the audience.

By doing it 'loudly' they end up denying service further by drowning out legitimate requests, by noise and intimidation.

Just a random geek thought…

More weapons of civic mass destruction

A while ago I wrote about weapons of civic mass destruction. I think it is very disturbing to see and hear the way Town Hall meetings being disrupted by enraged people aggressively questioning speakers in public forums.

It's not about agreeing with one side or another. But a community or a society or a nation fundamentally rests on basic conventions of civility and human interaction, and I am not sure exactly where it leaves us when those go out the window. I don't know really what concretely can be done to fight back to these disruptions without stifling discussion between people who disagree with each other, without stifling free speech.

I mean what do you do if you are trying to explain and respond a position (which may be unpopular with your listeners) and people start screaming and hollering at you. How do you respond to this without actually killing discourse?

Cambridge (Mass) on Forbes Top 10 list

Pretty cool report via Boston Globe, but see my minor complaint about it at the end:

"Hold all that gloom and doom about Massachusetts as a state with little to offer young folks. According to, the second-best place in the country for young college grads is none other than Cambridge, or more specifically the Cambridge-Newton-Framingham area, which ranks behind only San Jose among metro areas with over 1 million people." (from Boston Globe)

It's actually quite interesting to see the underlying detail of how the study was conducted, what was considered and not considered. You can find the detail in the actual Forbes Article, "Best Places to Start a Carreer" You learn there foreever, that 10 year carreer results were considered, and that Harvard Students who were born in Cambridge, and other similar biases were not considered (under the theory that the top-10 list wanted to focus on non-native residents of the cities.)

Hey Boston Globe Editor : Why do you make it so HARD to find the Forbes article that you're quoting? The link you provide is to the overall Forbes site, not the actul article, which is actually not easy to find!

Let’s give GPSs the EMOTION feature

Maybe it's because I just arrived from a long drive and stay in New York where I was guided by the nose by my TomTom GPS lady.

Did you know that the Garmin GPS Lady gets a little annoyed when you choose a direction different from what is suggested? She says something like: "Incorrect Route, Recalculating…", which after you hear it two or three times sounds like "Incorrect Route, you jerk, you are wasting my time again by making me do all this work to recompute another route for you. Can't you listen???" The TomTom lady just suffers in silence and provides you with a new route as soon as she sees that you didn't follow directions.

Which led me to thinking of a cool feature that none of the GPSs that I've seen or heard of have. I think it would be differentiated enough that vendors would put it as one of a few features printed on the front of the box. At any rate, if that much doesn't come true, at least it would be funny! Here's the idea.

In addition to picking the voice, as you can today ("American, Female", "New York Cab Driver", "747 Captain") let me also say what the emotion iis. Could you imagine:

NERVOUS: "Oh no, please don't go that way, I can't say what might happen, but it can't turn out well…."

MOTIVATING : "Don't worry that you missed that turn. You're a good driver and I know that you have a good reason to making the change. I am always impressed with your rapid and effective decision making!"

CASTIGATING: "You dope, there you go again. I have applied the computing and data resources of the universe to find you the best possible route. All you have to do is steer. I mean really, are you totally a waste of space?"

Add your own additional ideas. I think it would sell like crazy and who knows, reduce driver fatigue and accidents too!

[GEEKY] Switched from Firefox to Safari, and back again

About a week ago the new version of the Safari Browser came out for Mac OS X. I was swayed by the promotion and decided to use it for a while instead of Firefox 3.5. Here's my take, subjective, not based on a scientific analysis:

  • If Safari 4.02 is faster than Firefox 3.5.1 it wasn't immediately obvious to me. I think Safari starts up a bit faster but other than that, no noticable difference.
  • The new 'show all my most visited web pages in one screen' feature is pretty, but wasn't useful to me
  • I was constantly annoyed that Safari would open a new window when all I wanted was a navigation or at most a new tab. (Yes I did play with the options but none of them fit my mode of use.)
  • I missed certain plug ins (especially ScribeFire)
  • The XMarks for Safari feature caused mysterious problems. Not sure whether it was XMarks itself or the plug in management in Safari.

All in all, a string on minor annoyances coupled with no special benefit led me to demote Safari and promote Firefox back to my dock!

Apple Store Tax Funny Business?

A friend of mine pointed out that for some reason when he ordered is (wonderful) iPhone 3GS, the Apple Store charged the wrong amount for sales tax.

In Massachusetts, we are lucky enough to pay 5% sales tax. Actually this is going up in a few days to 6.25%.


Anyway, I hadn't reviewed my bill from the Apple Store, but, wouldn't you know, the error shows up in my bill!

If you look at the little screen shot of my bill, indeed, this does not look like a 5% tax to me!

What do you think? 9.8%! Who do I call?

Transparency is the new objectivity: Really good post from David Weinberger

Check this excerpt from a post by David Weinberger called Transparency is the new objectivity from Joho the Blog:

"A friend asked me to post an explanation of what I meant when I said at PDF09 that “transparency is the new objectivity.” […snip…]"

"Outside of the realm of science, objectivity is discredited these days as anything but an aspiration, and even that aspiration is looking pretty sketchy. The problem with objectivity is that it tries to show what the world looks like from no particular point of view, which is like wondering what something looks like in the dark." (from:Transparency is the New Objectivity)

Man, this is a a subtle area. but fascinating.

Over the years I've been convinced by David, (even though he wasn't trying to convince me) by the idea that there are precious few (if any) 'facts' that are just simply 'true'. Maybe that's an observation about the world, maybe about how we think, or maybe about language, I don't know. But for any 'fact', almost, I often can produce a counter example.

My current obsession is Voting Reform , and so I've thought a lot about how we cast votes on ballots and then how they are counted. You might think that given a particular ballot or box of ballots, asking "how many votes did candidate X get" is a factual question to which there is an answer. Not so.

To see why I say this, check out my post about the 'true' result of an election.

David Weinberger's post Transparency is the new Objectivity tells a fascinating part of the story; you should read it.