Friday, September 07, 2007
Eran Dror on Google GrandCentral
Back in the mid eighties, as a college freshman, I watched my roommate spend a whole day tracking down some show-stopper of a problem he had in some computer code he was writing.
It turned out to be a parenthesis. One lousy parenthesis. *
I distinctly remember deciding then that I'd wait for guys like him -- the ones who enjoyed such things -- to get computers a little closer to being worth the trouble before I'd take the plunge myself. I have been a somewhat late adopter of new technology ever since, and have probably avoided more than my share of technology-related stress that way.
But on the flip side, I know I'm sometimes missing out on the fun of seeing where technology is about to take us, as Eran Dror shows us with his interesting post on Google's recently-acquired GrandCentral, an Internet phone service.
Besides allowing you to use one phone number for the rest of your life, it offers a wide array of great improvements on traditional telephone service, including the ability to allow people able to call you from the web without having to reveal your phone number.
It's in beta and I don't exactly spend all day on the phone, but even I am tempted to try this -- although I would prefer to be able to simply import my cell phone number to it rather than acquire a completely new number. Dror notes that this capability does not (yet?) exist.
Fascinating reading. Go there now. (And find his interesting blog on my sidebar in the future as well.)
* Yes. This is programming, but this was also when you had to write a program to get a computer to do anything useful -- and this program didn't really do too much.
One company I wish would get swallowed whole by the likes of Google is Comcast, which recently took over cable and ISP services in Houston from Time Warner, heralding the change with an annoying astronaut-centered ad campaign, to be commemorated within weeks by a rate hike announcement.
One evening, I even got my own personal "welcome" in the form of a three hour outage starting for no discernable reason at just the moment I was about to blog.
Certainly, Comcast has the right to charge what the traffic will bear, and I don't always expect transitions like the one I just described to go smoothly, which I why I held my tongue. But after this news, I feel compelled to say that Comcast is a lousy ISP:
The rapid growth of online videos, music and games has created a new Internet sin: using it too much.I fully support Comcast's right to alienate its customers. There will be cries of "There ought to be a law," but none of them will be coming from me. In a fully free market, this is what a gang of idiots writing its own death warrant looks like.
Comcast has punished some transgressors by cutting off their Internet service, arguing that excessive downloaders hog Internet capacity and slow down the network for other customers. The company declines to reveal its download limits.
"You have no way of knowing how much is too much," said Sandra Spalletta of Rockville, whose Internet service was suspended in March after Comcast sent her a letter warning that she and her teenage son were using too much bandwidth. They cut back on downloads but were still disconnected. She said the company would not tell her how to monitor their bandwidth use in order to comply with the limits. [bold added]
I'm already itching to change the land line over to another phone provider, and I think the one we're considering offers DSL. Thank goodness for capitalism.
She Draws, too!
I enjoyed looking at the sketches of characters from her role-paying game that Jennifer Snow posted over at her blog. The one at upper left would have served well for a half-orc fighter-assassin I played in one D&D campaign back in the day.
Humor in Philosophy
Two days in a row have led me to interesting blogs I'd never heard of before. Yesterday, I was delighted to find WoPSR.net. Today, I draw your attention to Anja, Philosopher, by a graduate student in political theory. Try to read this post, which quotes a lengthy passage by Sigmund Freud about controlling fire, without laughing out loud. This blog is also now also listed in the 'roll.
Today: Corrected spelling of "Anja".