Analyzing Mobile Phone Bill

Are you still holding onto unlimited data plans on AT&T?  If your users consume less than 4GB of data, it seems much less to move to shared data.  In my example, I can save up to $445 annually!

That’s significant, as I can’t stand paying these guys more than I have to. Plus, I get hotspot included, so I can dump my iPad 3G data payments, saving me another $120 per year.

When was the last time you analyzed your mobile bill?

AT&T Datashare Price Comparo

Thoughts on the Gun Issue…

Alex Lindsay is a man I respect immensely. He wrote a very thoughtful piece reflecting his view on guns, based upon his rural upbringing in Pennsylvania contrasted with his adult life, mostly living in San Francisco. His post on Google Plus is worth a read here.

Here are my thoughts, and the comment I posted responding to Alex’s excellent post.

As far as what to do about gun control, I don’t think this can, or should, be resolved on a Federal level. The State and local governments should be making laws applicable to what’s relevant to them. To your point, people and behaviors are different in relative places, why have a sweeping law the protects–or unprotects in many cases–the citizens in that geography? Just as we don’t have a national speed limit within cities, we don’t need gun laws regulated federally.

In contrast to your childhood, I grew up mostly in the city and except for about 6 years, spent my entire life in cities and suburbs. My past views on guns have mostly echoed the lyrics of Pearl Jam’s Glorified G: most people don’t need them and the ones that do carry them to feel manly. This view has changed almost entirely in the last 5 to 6 years (although I still like the song)–around the time my first child was born. Although I lived in a relatively safe neighborhood in SoCal at the time, I realized if someone came into my house to abduct my kid, we were basically defenseless. A baseball bat, a shovel, a knife and my 911 call would be all I had to defend myself. I started imagining scenarios, escape routes, etc for how a possible home invasion of any sort would play out in my house. My conclusion: I’m at a serious disadvantage. My family is at a serious disadvantage. The crooks will always find ways to procure weapons, especially in the variety of one that shoots bullets, so why shouldn’t I be able to combat the crook with a weapon of my own, to achieve some level of equality?

The media has turned this discussion into a frenzy. People feel helpless from all the recent madness and want to do something about it. People in government feel they have to do something for political reasons, so they look good. But, there’s no single right answer. A worldwide prohibition of guns or ammo is impossible, so we need to focus on better programs with the purpose of keeping the nuts out of society and away from guns. Yet, if one of those nuts tries to hurt me or my family, I should be able to reciprocate their intentions.

Why punish the law abiding citizens who could fall victim to the small percentage of destructive, gun-wielding nut cases?

Microsoft Surface Ad, um, Surfaces.

This commercial sort of reminds me of Tic-Tacs and Mentos.

I’d like to know who at Microsoft approved this spot and what the pitch was from the agency.  Let me take a stab at it (in smooth-talking ad-guy voice), “We want to reach a young crowd, exemplifying fun and highlighting a key feature that makes the Surface different from the competition.”  What they’ve made is a scary Glee-style embarrassment.  Not even RIM would approve a spot this silly.  Hey guys, you’re selling consumer electronics, not candy, snack food or other sundries…remember?


The New Addition…

For the first time in all of my years of car ownership, I bought my first General Motors product.  The Chevrolet Volt has captured me with its great lease deal, promise of amazing mileage and über technology.  The cost to operate this sucker for my commute cycle should be minimal.

Chevrolet Volt (2012)

Since having it just a few days, I realize that many people are unaware of what powers the Volt and how it all works (as I’ve already been asked many questions from passersby).  The car is neither a Hybrid nor solely an Electric, yet what drives the front wheels is an electric motor.  Confused?  It’s actually quite brilliant: the Volt is a plug-in electric vehicle, with a backup gasoline engine. When you run out of power (around 40 miles in my short experience), the gasoline engine powers up acting as a generator–sort of like an emergency power generator that you’d have for your home or office.  The engine comes on as necessary to recharge the Volt’s batteries, but only after you’ve depleted the original electrical charge.

What’s great about the drive system, versus other electric vehicles like the Nissan Leaf or Tesla, is the lack of “range anxiety.”  Without a backup generator I could totally see how range anxiety could creep in.  With full electric vehicles, once you’re out of juice, you’re out of luck!  It’s not like the the tow-truck can come pour electricity in your tank.  I don’t see how people can live with those cars, unless they have a very confined driving area.

The other thing that’s great about the Volt is charging it.  At 120v (standard household outlet), it takes about 10 hours to fully charge a dead battery.  As I understand it, other plug-in electrics take much longer to charge.

This car is a technological tour-de-force and perfect for any gadget geek.  From the iPhone app that allows you to remotely check your stats and control the car, to the greeting tone and graphic that appears on the screen when you step into the car, there’s just a remarkable amount of tech.

I’m going to profile my Volt experience here over the next few weeks, backtracking to my first experiences driving and charging the car.

Thoughts on Steve…

Many people have said many things already, which have brought tears and chuckles, but I’d like to tell a personal story.

A few months ago, I stood in the same room as Steve Jobs, while visiting Apple.  He was walking with Jony Ive and another executive in MacCafè at the mothership.  Standing 50ft from him was paralyzing, yet he was just a guy, walking around with his co-workers with a smile on his face.  I really wanted to walk up to him, but feared security would tackle me and my host may become embarrassed.  I  just watched him and thought, “wow!”

You keep memories of certain things close, like the birth of your child or visiting a breathtaking location.  That image of Steve and Jony walking is one of those memories for me.

Sounds corny maybe, but let’s face it–the man was and remains one of my true heroes.  I aspire to accomplish a small percentage of what he has.  The lessons learned by his entire history is something I think about often.  The company he founded, the products, the reasons behind the products, the people he’s inspired, the comeback and the iPhone have profoundly changed my life.

In 1985, I was fortunate enough to receive my first Mac.  My father did not know anything about computers, but was an expert at consumer electronics (he was in the biz) and loved gadgets.  He also trusted my opinion on computers.  In 1984, I saw my first Mac and was enamored.  The local camera shop was the only Apple dealer in the small town where I resided.  I didn’t know from 1984 Superbowl ads or what was on the cover of Byte or Time, all I saw was the amazing little box with a mouse connected to it.  The signs and point of sale materials intrigued me, but after I sat my butt down in front of the 128k Macintosh, it was hard to pull me away.  At that young age, I was working the mouse, copying and pasting–it was miraculous.  After programming in Microsoft Basic on a TRS-80 Model 4 and running TRS-DOS using 5 1/4 inch double-sided, double-density floppies, this new Macintosh thing was extraordinary.

The Macintosh changed my life.  My perspective of what is possible widened dramatically.

Later that year, I bought some 3.5″ disks and begged the local bank to use their Macintosh for a school project. My teacher was blown away and I got an A just for what I did with MacWrite–clipart was something no one had seen on a document with text around it and proportional-spaced fonts.

So the Mac 512KE and ImageWriter II printer arrived Christmas 1985 and I was absolutely blown away by the computer; moreover that my dad sprang for it.  He read my enthusiasm and knew this was the proper next step for me.  My homework was never the same again.  In fact, school was never the same again.  I completely lost interest in programming and moved onto creating.  I gained a reputation as the “computer whiz” in school, but had limited programming knowledge.  I was the only kid in the whole school district with a Mac.

Since then, even though I consider myself quite proficient (if not expert) on things Microsoft, I’ve always owned a Mac.  Then the iPod came and we all know how that changed our lives.  For me, however, the biggest impact since that original Mac is the iPhone.  I’m not even sure how I lived without it prior to 2007.  It’s truly the phone I always dreamed of when I used to bitch about mobile phones.  Yep, I was that guy who bought a new mobile every 6-months.  I went from Motorola to Nokia to Sony-Ericsson and back to Motorola again and was never quite satisfied.  When I saw the liveblogs of the original iPhone keynote from a hotel room in San Francisco, I nearly cried with overwhelming joy, “someone finally got the mobile phone right!” Two hours later, I was staring at it in a glass enclosure and thinking, “cool.”

The Web also changed my life and is the vehicle on which our company was founded.  A recent visit to the Computer History Museum, in Mountain View, California (just a few blocks from Google HQ) taught me that the World-Wide Web was created on a NeXT by Mr. Berners-Lee.

So Steve, his companies, his visions and the teams that he’s inspired truly changed my life on multiple levels and all for the better.  Rest in piece, Mr. Jobs, you will be missed, yet your legacy will continue on forever.  You’ve changed the world for all of us–the rest of us.