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Technology Thoughts

Brilliant Solution by AT&T

Smartphones are everywhere. The most popular being the Apple’s iPhone, which just released it’s latest version and sold around 1.7million in the first three days. One issue with the new iPhone is the reception should you hold it a certain way to which Steve Jobs suggests holding it differently. Regardless of how you hold it iPhone users and AT&T in general have been complaining about reception, dropped calls etc since the first iPhone was released. Being that AT&T is currently the only service provider for the iPhone in the States their network is being pushed beyond it’s limits. Anyone with AT&T in New York City or San Francisco Bay Area can probably go on a tare about how AT&T’s network sucks. I have no doubt that should Verizon have been the sole service provider they too would be feeling this network strain, but I digress.

To combat the network problems AT&T has come up with a solution…the AT&T 3G MicroCell™. It’s your own personal cell tower, allowing you to sit in your basement (or where ever) and still have a working phone. For anyone living in one of these soft spots in AT&T’s network this is a great workaround till AT&T upgrades their network with thousands of new cell towers.

The MicroCell serives is also great for AT&T, rather then having the expense of putting up another cell tower in your area you can do it for them. Even better, you have to pay them $150 to do so. There’s also an additional monthly fee if you’d like to have unlimited calling from your MicroCell otherwise the minutes used while connected to your personal cell tower still count against your monthly plan. Yes, that means (without the added plan) you’re paying for the minutes even though you are hosting the call through your own broadband connection.

If that wasn’t shady enough, even if you have the plan and you initiated a call on your MicroCell when you go outside your phone may switch back to the true AT&T network. Once back on AT&T’s network it won’t switch back to you MicroCell till the call is complete. So you’re back to your original lack of reception and since it doesn’t switch back to your MicroCell you’re (unknowingly) back to using your plans minutes.

You have to hand it to AT&T for turning there biggest thorn into a new revenue source. That is brilliant thinking. Steve Job’s righteous retort has nothing on AT&T’s brilliance with this solution. Sure charging for the hardware is somewhat understandable, but the true magic lies in the added fees and how the system always works to AT&T’s benefit.

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Events Links

Refresh Philly: June Wrap-up

Refresh Philly: June

The big problem with this months Refresh Philly was that I couldn’t be in 3 places at once.  That’s because rather then the usual meet on 45 for great views and two presenters, Refresh met in CIM City and broke up in to three groups.

The main act was Jonny Goldstein, a giant white board and a bunch of folks interested in learning visual note taking and how to better get their ideas out of their heads and onto paper (via drawing).  I didn’t catch much of this one though it was high on my list, from what I did see, one of the things to keep in mind is to keep it simple…as in simple shapes (squares, circles, etc.).  Don’t get caught up in drawing the right shape for say a cat, go simple and move on.  Add the polish later (FYI, that was me paraphrasing right there).  Every time I saw the group they looked either fully engaged in what Jonny was saying or they were busy drawing.

On one side of CIM City was K-Fitz and others that wanted to work together to create an application using data from Data.gov.  Kevin broke down the details of the contest and connected designers with developers so they could break into smaller groups and work out a plan.  Near the end I saw them regather to talk as one big group again. Wish I could tell you more but I was on the other side.

On the other side of CIM City was Livia talking about “Design Games.”  The name may be confusing but basically they are fun and effective methods used to help problem solving (often used in the design process).  I’m sure you may have heard of a few of these included free listing, reversal, role playing, and divide the dollar.  Livia provided a great pamphlet explaining each of the different techniques, you can visit DesignGames.com.au for similar details on each of the games.  She then led the group in trying some of them out.  We picked the game to try and some of their pros and cons became clear as we used them.  After each round Livia pointed out some of the real world nuances to be aware of ensuring better results.  I look forward to having an opportunity to put some of these to use while they’re still fresh.

Links:
Refresh Philly
Jonny Goldstein
Kevin Fitzpatrick
Livia Labate
Data.gov
DesignGames.com.au