It’s not a cap, but it is Comcapstic

Comcast, what are you on about? Apparently using more than 300 GB of broadband at home in a month is too much. Comcast is expanding the markets in which it’s “trialling” a 300 GB soft-cap past which users will be charged $10 per 50 GB of usage. And it’s telling customer service not to call it a “data cap”. Well, technically, it’s “not a cap”. The customer service training materials originally leaked via Reddit aren’t lying when they say, “We do not limit a customer’s use of the Internet in any way at or above 300 GB.” But there’s a …

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RIP Ingress 2012–2015

Well, Ingress, you’ve had a good run. At launch, in November 2012, you motivated me to start putting money aside for a new phone that could run heavy games like you. Throughout 2013 and much of 2014, you got me out and about, wherever I was, whomever I was with. You connected me with new people when I went to California for the summer, and brought my friend group closer together at college by getting us to roam campus together for hours late at night. But, Niantic, you’re losing your way. Cheating is still widespread. Your lackadaisical response to reports …

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Windows 10 and Microsoft’s Bullying

There’s been a lot of buzz around the internet lately about the tactics Microsoft is using to get users to update to Windows 10. For much of the summer, it’s been “automatic downloads” this and “automatic installation” that. But Windows 10 is better than Windows 7 or Windows 8(.1), isn’t it? True, I’ve heard plenty of testimonials from people who’ve gotten the new OS and love it. It has a completely rebuilt browser, Microsoft Edge, that allegedly blows Internet Explorer out of the water (not that Microsoft is above scaring novice computer users when they try to switch to Chrome …

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Did Virgin Mobile USA cut an anti-Android deal with Apple?

All right, so the big news is, Virgin Mobile USA will soon carry the Apple iPhone 4S. Which is to say, my pre-paid, Sprint-owned cellular telephone carrier may have cut a deal with Apple to make all their Android devices suddenly look unattractive. Why do I think that? Oh, no reason, just the plan prices. As my long-time Web contact Zoli Erdos asked of Virgin Mobile’s Twitter customer service account, and got an interesting (but not entirely clear) answer: Wait, “Auto top-up” just means letting them charge for monthly service automatically. I let them do that for my Motorola Triumph. …

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Some Joy in Seesmic Ping Land

Wednesday, Seesmic sent all Ping.fm users an email with “important information”. Dated May 31 (Seesmic’s timezone is well ahead of mine), the letter included some basic information that we all pretty much knew. But one sentence actually made me happy: To further support development and upcoming features, we will offer Seesmic Ping as both a free and paid service. (emphasis added). Back in February, I wrote , a post expressing my dismay at the shutdown of Ping.fm and the apparent paid-only nature of Seesmic Ping. I begged the company to consider a “freemium” model and not make all users pay …

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Why I Will Not Use Seesmic, Ever

Update (06/01): Seesmic eventually killed the green bar overlay. They announced a time-frame (by the middle of June) for closing Ping.fm, and also confirmed that the new Ping service will have a free service level. I commend this outcome, . Update (03/03): This post garnered a response from a Seesmic employee, Yama, in the comments. From “figure out the best pricing model”, I gather that pricing remains undecided, so I maintain my hope for a HootSuite-like freemium model. I’m also glad to hear that the green bar will be reviewed for possible improvements. Thank you, Yama; if I have more …

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Facebook News Apps Open Firehose of Pageviews

This is my fourth (and final) blog post assignment for my Journalism course. It’s kind of an op-ed in its own right, though not something I was likely to bother writing about if not for the assignment. Back in September, at its f8 conference, Facebook announced a new kind of app, with the ability to use “frictionless sharing”—basically a fancy way of saying that users’ activity can be shared without users specifically clicking a “Share” button. The first reaction to this announcement was lukewarm at best. As users began to notice just how much activity was being shared, they complained …

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Finding Sources for Interviews is Hard

This is my third blog post assignment for my Journalism class. I went for the reflection option this time instead of the news topic option because I had something to say about my experiences with the class in the last two weeks. As I’ve worked to find people I can interview for my feature article, I’ve found that it can be really difficult to actually connect with even one person who can address the topic in question. Many people will simply ignore interview requests. I’m sure part of the problem is my choice of subject. Not that many people know …

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Google Books and the Book Industry

I wrote this for my Journalism class at college, but figured I might as well share it here too. The New York Times ran a story Monday about a new lawsuit filed against HathiTrust, a partnership of universities and research libraries that maintains a digital book collection on its website. Plaintiffs in the suit include three major authors’ groups: the Authors Guild, the Australian Society of Authors, and the Québec Union of Writers. Eight individual authors are also party to the filing, among them Pat Cummings, Roxana Robinson, and T.J. Stiles. The objections raised in the suit center around the …

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There Is Always a Choice

I recently read a headline in the Minneapolis Star Tribune featuring an unfortunate wolf at the Minnesota Zoo. The story went that this 8-year-old male Mexican gray wolf—an endangered species—escaped from his enclosure through a gap in the fencing of the keeper’s area. He proceeded halfway around the grounds before being tracked to the Northern Trail area and shot. Yes. Shot. Tranquilizers would not have acted soon enough, Minnesota Zoo officials said, forcing them to destroy the 8-year-old male. I beg to differ. There was nothing forcing these people to shoot an innocent animal—an intelligent being. Wolves belong to the …

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