earth to t-mobile, come in t-mobile

I’ve been looking at getting a t-mobile sidekick for a few months, and when meg pointed out they are basically free, I figured why not do it today? However, I found out along the way that cell phone companies are their same old moronic selves, no matter what they change their company’s name to.

Right now I have an overpriced, poor quality SprintPCS plan that covers two phones. The second phone is only ten bucks more a month, and shares the original phone’s minutes. I looked around the t-mobile site for something similar, but the only related thing is their family plan, but that doesn’t include data.

I called t-mobile, saying I was in the market for a new sidekick, was ready to place an order, but was interested in getting a second phone to share the plan with. I explained the confusion over family plans and data. The first guy I was connected to didn’t know the current pricing and transferred me to someone that cut me off. A second call back got me someone else that wasn’t aware of any way to share the plan with another phone and suggested “if you wanted a second phone, you’d need to get another plan.” Here I am, with cash in hand, asking if I can have more than one phone that works within their rate schedule, and sadly the answer is “we can’t help you.”

It’s as if no one at t-mobile ever dreamed that a customer might be part of a family that has more than one member, and might want to get a second phone at a resonable price to share the plan. Perhaps the sidekicks are marketed to single people in their 20s for this reason.

Who knew gadgets could be useful?

Jeff Veen actually found a great use for his Treo.

I remember running the LA marathon a few years ago and trying to keep track of the same data myself. As my pace slowed over the long distance, I occupied the time by constantly calculating my minutes/mile in my head, according to my wristwatch time. If there was a way to keep a constant readout on your watch, based on input from the race course markers, you might have a killer app for runners. A steady pace is sometimes hard to keep up, especially when you’re running alone.

HM-oh-no

Health care blows these days.

When I was a kid we had a single doctor from the time I was 3 until I was 17 or so. Anything he prescribed was available straight from his office, and his rates were quite reasonable (we had no health insurance at the time). Then my parents signed up for health coverage and although we got to pick a new doctor, any additional tests had to be approved first. When I got my first job, my health care involved picking a name out of a book, showing up to a hospital at a preset time, and spending a couple minutes with him face-to-face, with all other times spent with assistants or waiting.

The most recent health plan has taken it quite a few steps further. Now you can’t even see a doctor until you can prove to a nurse-bot on the phone that you really, really need help. Anything beyond the basics requires approval first, then subsequent appointments weeks from the date you’re feeling badly. Prescription drug coverage is scant, and no longer applies to anything besides specific directives from your primary care doctor. So this means that even though my dentist prescribes antibiotics before major dental procedures, my medical coverage will not cover it, knowing that to skip the antibiotics might mean an infection in my blood and heart, and huge medical bills down the road.

When I was a kid, I knew my doctor personally, he watched me grow up, and took an interest in his patients’ lives. Today, going to the doctor makes me feel like a carton of milk on a supermarket checkout lane. The nameless, faceless borg scans my UPC code, checks vitals, and dispenses with the minimal advice or treatment, shaving as many pennies off the cost as possible. Where there was once dignity has been replaced by mechanized efficiency.

I’m no foe of capitalism, I enjoy working hard and being rewarded based on how much I accomplish, but part of me wonders if the medical profession is best domain for purely free market economics. In the race to cut costs, I fear that the only considerations were made to those things that an exact dollar value could be placed. You can’t put a price on treating people with respect and care. You can’t put a price on privacy and dignity. Worst of all, you can’t put a price on patient well-being.

All those values seemed to have been lost when health care’s focus became the bottom line.

googlogger

larrypage.blogspot.com

I’m really surprised to see Google getting into content, as they don’t seem like a content company. I’m reminded of Yahoo buying Geocities back in 1998 or so, but I never thought Google wanted to be a portal. Still, it’ll make blogging all that more mainstream if it’s linked off the root of google.com.

update: after sleeping on it, I came up with this. I don’t know if I’m right, but it seems right to me. If google can get better results almost instantly, why not pick up pyra and watch the movements of all the blog data in realtime for links?

I can’t wait to buy nanotech at the store on sale. with a coupon.

Visions of the future are usually big on playing up the dystopian angle, with genetically modified foods destroying people, cyborgs killing uncontrollably, and rampant super diseases taking out who is left, but no one ever talks about the simple pleasures that the future may bring.

Take nanotechnology. Sure, it could be a way for evildoers to spread viruses, destroy nervous systems, and kill via warriors too small to see, but there’s always a bright side. You’d never need a dentist again. Pop a mouthful of Uncle Marty’s Flossin’ Bots brand nanobots and let them clean under your gumline while you sleep. You’d never have another cavity, never have to worry about root canals, or even have to brush your teeth, as the bots would clean up the mess and let you wake up feeling and smelling fresh.

We should look to the Jetsons as our blueprint for the future more often.

Jhai IT Project launches!

It’s great to see the Jhai Foundation‘s project to wire up villages in Laos is taking off. Back when they were seeking seed money to get the project off the ground, I donated $20 and it’s money well spent when you see how quickly it came to life.

With computer costs constantly plummeting and technology moving ever forward, it’s great to see people take advantage of the technology and not just say “we should use this tech in innovative ways for good, like letting people communicate for the first time”, but to actually get up and do it themselves.

For $25k, a series of villages in Laos that have never had electricity or phones will have a phone system (and the internet, though I don’t see that being nearly as important to their lives). Being able to communicate from village to village (and beyond, out to the world) is going to make a drastic difference in people’s lives. I see parallels with Brewster Kahle’s Internet Archive project. For a few million dollars (a fraction of what we spend on a single library like the Library of Congress), he’s seeking to create the largest library ever built so he can amass the sum total of all human knowledge, built entirely with cheap hard drives and scanners.

The difference between making recommendations like “here’s a way to accomplish something that we should do” to a government and actually creating it and instead saying “here’s a way to do it, here’s how I did it very cheaply, and here it is ready for use” is enormous, and worthy of praise. My hat’s off to these people.