Sunday, July 28, 2013

Do we really need to do everything on our smart phones? Take the IQ test

Do we really need to do everything with our smart phones? 
  
Jenna Wortham has a “Bits” column in the Sunday New York Times business section “I’m still waiting for my phone to become my wallet,” p. 3, link here
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I haven’t learned to use my smartphone the way kids have; I should get the taxicab app to work so that I can get a cab when out at the bars.  

And I find self-checkout in grocery stores and CVS, which has enough complicated steps even with credit cards, let alone phone, a bit of a problem.

The end result will be fewer retail clerks and cashiers, fewer lower-wage hourly jobs (which I skipped out on) but fewer situations where there is a line and only one cashier – or maybe more such encounters. Have you ever abandoned a purchase because the line was too long for someone to take your money? I did once at a Walgreen’s in Minneapolis. 
  

My father used to love the “Automat” Horn cafeterias in NYC in the 1950’s.  I don’t know what happened to them..    

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Courts say that software that enables skipping commercials doesn't infringe on copyrights

Cecilia Kang reports in the Washington Post July 25 that the Ninth Circuit (3 judge panel) has agreed with a district court that the Dish Hopper service, sued by Fox, did not violate copyrights in providing a way for consumers to bypass commercials.  The link for the story is here

The court ruled that bypassing commercials doesn’t infringe copyrights. Only making illegal (complete or partial) copies will do that.

The problem impacts traditional broadcast and perhaps cable television business models, in a manner parallel to how "do not track" might affect Internet "free service" business models. 
  
In my own experience, I see ads on cable programs that I “pay” for (like on CNN); on many YouTube videos (which I can skip).  I don’t see them on Amazon Instant Play, which is sometimes free when played immediately, but often requires a rental (from $1.99 to $6.99).  Google YouTube rentals also don’t display commercials. 



Friday, July 05, 2013

Long Island community (Fire Island) opposes plan by Verizon to go wireless only after Hurricane Sandy

Fire Island (where “The Ocean Meets the Sky”) is a seaside resort town on an isthmus off the southern Long Island Coast, about 40 miles from Manhattan, requiring ferry access, and popular with the gay community (both the Pines and Cherry Grove, with about a half mile of beach and notorious pine forest between them).  
  
I often made day trips there when I lived in New York City in the 1970s.
  
Cecilia Kang has a story in the Washington Post Friday here

The town was battered by Sandy, and Verizon wants to replace all the old landline service with a suprt wireless only service called VoiceLink.  Presumably the service is good enough for Internet streaming video (not sure of the data limits and costs) and television, and most functions.  But DSL will not be available, nor old-fashioned Fax, or some function essential to medicine (I’m not aware that the community has a hospital from what I remember), or even the ability to take collect calls.  Some people want “plain old telephone service”, and there are a few barebones cell plans (without Internet) offered now, possibly aimed at low income people.   

My own feeling is that Verizon has a real point.  It is much easier to concentrate on making infrastructure robust and impervious to storms and maybe even sabotage if there is less physical wiring to maintain.  The public perhaps ought to get behind aggressive wireless deployment, if the data limits are generous enough. There are new technologies (like imaging systems, popular with insurance companies, to replace fax).  The medical questions are disturbing, though.  

Companies have already forced customers to adjust.  Some years ago, AOL eliminated phone line dialup and went all web.  
  

Wikipedia attribution link for Fire Island lighthouse.