Netzero Dialup Commercial

Did we just descended to 1997 just because of credit crisis? Just now I saw a Netzero commercial, featuring CEO Mark Goldston, promoting dial-up connection. Yep, you read this right – a Netzero (definitely a name from 90s) is promoting a dial-up, claiming “it takes you to the same Internet as broadband”, just does it cheaper. Now, I don’t know about the average Joe’s needs on the internet (maybe all he does is checks his e-mail using that good old Lynx browser.

But if he’s anything close to average Joe I know he checks his e-mail using webmail interface which is pretty heavy load on my scale – wheather you’re using Hotmail, Yahoo, GMail or your provider’s web mail interface. Then he checks the weather. Just as an example – the weather.com’s total weight is over 100KB.  Then maybe he reads some news (NYTimes.com – 322KB, CNN.com – 663KB). Now the scary part starts – his girlfriend, or wife, or daughter wants to do some shopping online. Zappos.com is 106KB, Macy’s is 335KB and SaksFifthAvenue (in case they’ve got money to spend) is 236KB. And don’t even think of watching any video – YouTube or Hulu.

So, maybe someone out there knows what’s Netzero counts on. From my point of view – this is just a bad waste of good money. Might have donated to charity, that ought to work out better.

The Obligatory End-of-the-Year Post

As pretty much any other blogger, at the end of the year (or before another one starts) – here’s the recap of what happened during a year.

January – 66 posts written (I think this is the most posts I have ever written in a month). Most prominent are Small Business Survival (crisis is still here, might still be worth reading), Home Surveillance System (part 1, part 2), the whole series on blog editors (now a little outdated though) and Hacking WordPress theme (with all the updates). There were a lot of other interesting posts as well, but these are the essense.

February – 19 posts written. Among interesting – Samsung BlackJack, January Search Trends (this is when I actually started following them), Gadgets As Conversational Pieces, Live Tech Support services review (part 1, part 2, part 3 and part 4), the Late Night Post About Clients (the web site that had never took off as of now) and two on browser wars. Now, with introduction of Google’s Chrome it would be interesting to return to this in the next year.

March – 5 posts (boy, I really was slacking off). Conference Center Wireless Trickery (still valid for some places) and two articles on Administering Web Store Databases. With the infusion of cloud-based services this might become obsolete faster then I thought. On the other hand, since we have these huge “clouds”, but unreliable and slow broadband, it might be more useful then clouds.

April – 4 posts (slacking continues). Generally Speaking With A Client is the only worthy read.

May – 5 posts (the only defence I have is that these are large posts). Sexy Girls and Hot Cars, Retire Your iPod, and Land Line Is Doomed are there for your enjoyment.

June – 2 posts (it was hot out there!). Cheap Hardware? That’s Expensive is a good read in times of cutting costs on everything.

July – 3 posts (I don’t like to write in Summer). A post on Starbucks Experience and contemplation on new domain zones are worth it.

August – 8 posts (see, it’s getting better!). Job Offer Spam, one more Small Business Don’ts, a post on social media influence on read-world politics and how modern politics trying to influence the social media by targeted trolling and infuses of false and misleading information and a post on Blackberry vs. iPhone.

September – 12 posts (oh, the improvement!). FiOS vs. Cable, customer service at Staples, Small Business Will Step Up… Later and a rant on oncoming netbook revolution.

October – 6 posts (the weather was too nice outside!). How to fix our economy (part 1 and part 2) – too late for that, I guess, but the idea is still good and valid, and one more advice for businesses how to benefit from crisis.

November – 3 posts (I have a good excuse – I was getting married). Post Halloween Web Trends is a good read for retailers who somehow depend on that holiday.

December – 9 posts (including this one). Las Vegas Learning, review of Cheap Web Conferencing service, our generation’s choosing of Internet over sex (I still don’t believe it though), Buying Domains On A Smartphone (trust me, this issue will go on forever) and AT&T’s squeezing money out of Pandora listeners who don’t happen to be iPhone owners are good reads before the year’s out.

All in all it was a good year, given the crisis and all. I definitely see the room for improvement – both for my company, my life and this blog.

Pandora, Windows Mobile and AT&T

Last week wrapped up with Pandora announcing the release of Windows Mobile client. Everybody cheered – but for less than a day. As it turned out, there’s always a fly in the ointment. The cost of fun is $8.99 per month in addition to any data plan you already have. Even if it’s an unlimited one, like mine.

Outraged just like anyone else, I immediately shot off an e-mail to Pandora’s support.

Hello,
I am a very dedicated Pandora listener. Aside from enjoying Pandora from my desktop I had encouraged a number of people to try Pandora for iPhone – every time with huge success.

Now, I myself is not an iPhone user – for number of reasons I cannot use iPhone for everyday tasks. It doesn’t mean I have extra money in my pocket, it just means that I use devices that benefit me the most.

When I have heard about the discriminatory policy that Windows mobile users must she’ll out extra money for same service everyone else enjoys for free I felt somewhat betrayed. Definitely upset. Outraged.

However, before jumping to any decisions, I’d like to hear from you the reasons behind such discrimination and, if there are any plans to rectify the situation.

Surprisingly, just a few hours later (that is – 3AM Friday night) I got a response.

Thanks for writing us, and thanks for recommending Pandora on the iPhone to your friends! We were very happy Apple allowed us to offer Pandora for free.

Getting a mobile device to support Pandora is, to a very large degree, up to our potential cellular and platform partners.

Currently there are four WinMo devices which, just like the iPhone, support Pandora for free (advertising-supported). Two on Sprint, and two on Verizon.

We’re very happy we were able to work with these partners to reach this agreement.

It’s up to other carriers how to set the pricing and availability of our service on their network and associated devices.

Best wishes,
–Ian
Pandora Listener Support

If all the above is true it means that AT&T effectively taxing everyone who’s not an iPhone user for using data plan they already paying for. Why this is happening – because AT&T thinks they’ve got it all and can get away with anything they want or because of some other reason – I don’t know. There’s a thread on AT&T’s forums, but no official response has been issued yet.

Pandora’s blog has it this way (in response to comments of disappointed users):

…we share your desire to see Pandora be made available for free on our AT&T implementations. In the mobile world, the carrier has all of the pricing power. If you try to go around their wishes they can, and will, block traffic to your application. Our strong preference is for Pandora to be available ad-supported free everywhere and we’ll continue to work with AT&T in the hopes that they’ll come around to the same view for the Windows Mobile phones on their network.

On the other hand, the Pandora application is available from PPCGeeks forum. I swapped SIM card from AT&T Tilt into Samsung Blackjack and testing the app right now. So far the quality is decent (close to FM radio) (as I am sitting home within stable 3G zone) and delay between songs (while the buffering occurs) is acceptable.

In any case, there remains less and less competition in mobile markets and providers are pulling all sorts of unfair deals knowing that customers will either eat it or not, but there’s really no serious alternative between AT&T and Verizon (Sprint and T-Mobile are really not in the same field).