October 12th, 2003


[MeFi] Sci-Fi writers on Arnold's governorship.

William Gibson

I forget whether, in the Virtual Light books, Arnold is president of the US or merely Governor of SoCal, but, hey, it looks like I've gone and been prescient again. I hate it when that happens.

Harlan Ellison

To all the other 49 states — with the exception of Minnesota, whose election of a mountebank transcends even ours — the coronation of Ahnuld seems phantasmagoric. But not to us. We've done it at least twice before: George Murphy to the Senate, and Reagan to the White House. So, been there, seen that, done that. I thought, early on, that it was a great slate with Gary Coleman and Schwarzenegger both running: remember in MAD MAX: BEYOND THUNDERDOME, the behemoth called "Master Blaster" — this seven-foot-tall brain-damaged, muscle-bound giant, with the midget strapped to his shoulders? Wow, what a terrific Governor we'd have if we just cranked Gary Coleman down onto Ahnuld's shoulders!! As long as nobody blew a high-pitched dog whistle, we'd be in sweet milk an' honey. So what do I actually think about all this foofaraw? To quote Thomas Jefferson, who was rewording le Comte de Maistre: "People get pretty much the kind of government they deserve."


Why cell phone data connectivity sucks.

Date: Sun, 12 Oct 2003 22:07:51 -0600 (MDT)
From: mackys@rhinokaosol.net
Subject: Re: Cellphone cameras are latest threat to privacy?
Organization: Raven's Garage, Megatokyo, JP
X-Caution: Address heavily filtered - Remember that there are no African animals in my e-mail address!

In article <Xns94128F66223B7MN0SPAMCOM@>,
Melissa <Melissa@pagan.netk> wrote:
>> Cellphone cameras are latest threat to privacy

Not any more than any other small, easily concealable camera. And those have been around for decades. Any time you step out in public, you are in danger of your picture being taken - and you can't do a damn thing about it. Ask any movie star.

But I digress...

The biggest problem I see with the new generation of cell phones is, they're a solution desperately looking for a problem that isn't there. Maybe a few teeny-bopping attention mongers want a camera phone so they can take pictures of themselves and their friends every single day, but the rest of us are not so vain. Push-To-Talk phones are cool, but do you really think they're $250 cooler than just saying "Call... Mike" into your already voice-command enabled phone?(Voice command is something I thought was useless until I tried it myself. Now I think it's the greatest thing since sliced bread.)

There are a lot of people out there still happily using their 5 year old StarTacs, and I don't see them upgrading any time soon. (I'm one of those people!) Maybe if people had money to throw away on useless luxuries... but that's not the economy we're in. (Thanks a lot Shrub - found any of those WMD
thingies in Iraq yet? Didn't think so...)

Why do I think I'm so knowledgable about this? Because I work at Radio Shack now, and we do a LOT of business with cell phones. I see people all day who come in wanting chargers, cases, belt clips, or occasionally even a new phone. So I talk to a lot of people about cell phones. I ask them what they're looking for, I see them fawn over certain features and ignore others. I see a lot of sticker shock about the cost of monthly plans. (Our cheapest one is $40/mo! You know the cell phone companies are making money on that one!)

The phone companies are trying to sell all these high-tech phones so people will use their new 3G wireless data services they're rolling out. And since you usually get charged by the kilobyte transferred while using these services, and images are usually pretty big in kB terms (even at low rez) I expect the phone companies will keep pushing the picture phones. Ever since WAP was stillborn (because surfing the web on a black and grey screen the size of a postage stamp SUCKED FUCKING ROCKS) they've been desperately trying to figure out some way to make people pay for data access...

It's funny how simultaniously close and far away they are. If they'd uncork your phone with full speed 1x RTT and let you surf "tEh iNtarweb OMG LOL KTHX" on your laptop, using the cell phone as a 150kbps modem, they'd have to beat the customers off with a stick. And every cell phone tower would need a T-1 to
handle the sustained data load.

But like the dumb old wireline telcos, they don't get the concept of "users want dumb data-pipes". They think they need to stick in useless crap (so-called "value add" - which ironically only detracts from the value and user experience) on top of the net access.

They're wrong, but I doubt they will wisen up. All historical precedents are against it. In the mean time, watch for them to get increasingly desperate. Who knows, three years down the tracks, maybe they'll be selling camera phones for a penny (like they do with some of the simpler phones now), just to try and encourage users to adopt them - and pay those juicy per-kilobyte fees...