San Francisco vs. AT&T and the Battle of the U-Verse Utility Boxes

I was born and raised in ‘The City’ aka San Francisco. I still have a fondness for the area, even though I have relocated. I also have quite a few friends, family and acquaintances that I stay in contact with over the years, so I generally keep in touch with what is happening in the Bay Area.

One of the hot topics of conversation is the battle going on between San Francisco residents and AT&T over the placement of approximately 800 utility boxes that need to be installed for U-Verse service. Opponents state that the utility boxes are an eyesore to the landscape and wonder why AT&T cannot bury the boxes underground. Proponents do not care about aesthetics and want the fast broadband service that U-Verse offers.

One would think that since San Francisco is located in the center of one of the largest technology hot-spots in the world, this should be a non-issue. But neighborhood advocates are up in arms over the proposal and promise a battle in the courts over this issue.

What is humorous about this dispute is that there are people across the U.S. who would welcome fast broadband access with the utility boxes installed. So while AT&T is trying to cater to a small group of activists, who would have most likely been against the cable cars when they were proposed, I have just one question: Why bother?

This is the same city that refused to work with Google, when that company offered free Wi-Fi citywide. The SF board of supervisors placed so many contingencies on the placement of cell towers, offering of better services to certain areas, plus faster speeds, that Google and Verizon pulled out of the deal.

It will never cease to amaze me how some folks can reject the newest technology while others wait hopelessly to just get rid of their old dialup connection.

Is Craigslist Good Enough To Go Unchallenged?

I don’t believe anyone could deny the fact that Craigslist is not noted for its fancy GUI nor for its flashy Web site. If anything, one could be critical of how Craigslist presents the ads as it does — in such a fashion that appears outdated. The simplicity of the design has not been changed since Craigslist was started, yet the site continues to rack in some $100M a year in revenue. Working with a couple of dozen workers in an older building in San Francisco, one would never suspect that the building housed a multi-million dollar a year business.



What is surprising is that no one has challenged Craigslist a la Facebook to take these folks on. What is also surprising is that Craigslist still functions using an archaic system that does not support the latest smart phone, tablet, or Apple iPad technologies.

So why is it that Craigslist remains so popular and basically has no competition? It could be that Craigslist is so simple it is what attracts people to the site. The atmosphere is low-key and it is just a bunch of people trying to unload their treasures and do so for free. It is a combination of simplicity and no charge for selling anything that keeps attracting sellers and buyers.

I have used Craigslist for both buying and selling my personal items. What is actually interesting is that I do not give the Web site design a single thought. In fact, I couldn’t care less how it looks. As long as I can buy and sell for free, what it looks like is not a concern of mine.

What about you? Do you care how Craigslist looks? How has your buying and selling experience been?

What do you think?

Comments welcome.

Source – Quora

Need A Job? Like Free Meals? How About A Free Apple iPad?

What is being called the Silicon Valley hiring boom is spreading like wildfire throughout the state of California. During the month of February over 100,000 new jobs were filled, dropping the state’s unemployment rate from 12.4% down to 12.2%. Technology jobs are leading the charge for new hires and some companies are offering high pay plus additional perks to attract them.

Leading the pack on a hiring spree is Google, which is expanding its work force from 24,000 to 30,000 and just gave all of its employees a 10% pay raise. Facebook is planing on opening a new office complex in Menlo Park, CA, and has permits to hire up to 3,600 employees. Twitter is also expanding its hiring in San Francisco with an anticipated job growth from 400 to 3,600 by 2013. Zynga, the gaming company, also is increasing its work force and has hired over 700 employees in 2010 until February of this year.

Starting pays are lucrative and at Google, science majors just out of college are starting at $90,000 to $105,000 a year. Not bad for starting out, plus the company feeds you free meals and you get a free Apple iPad to boot. Some companies are also providing doggie day care for employees who have dogs.

But it is not only Silicon Valley that is doing the hiring. Start-ups are springing up in New York, Seattle, and Austin and are going after programmers, engineers, and designers from other well established companies. Some companies are offering major stock options to attract new recruits, similar to what Google did in its startup years. Companies are also competing for those with more specialized skills as well.

So is this another bubble or it for real this time? The dot.com era was plagued with overvalued companies being fed by overzealous investors thinking there was no end in sight. But with companies like Facebook being valued at over $50B, can anyone be sure if this bubble won’t pop as well?

In the meantime, jobs are plentiful and the sky is the limit. Young people entering into the technology field are going to be rewarded with good pay and plenty of perks. Hopefully this trend will continue for a long time to come.

Time will tell.

Comments welcome.

Source – L.A. Times

Source – N.Y. Times

Source – Venture Beat

Verizon iPhone Coming January 11

Verizon iPhone coming January 11, or so we think. Verizon has sent out formal invitations to a number of people requesting their attendance to this special event. These special invitations were sent to Apple writes at both TechCrunch and Loop Insight, both bloggers are known greatly for their Apple related articles.

I don’t typically get invites directly from Verizon to anything. At least not that I can recall. They usually send those directly to the MobileCrunch and CrunchGear guys. But this invite appears to very specifically be for me – it’s non-transferable. Would Verizon send me such an invite unless it was specially about Apple?” said TechCrunch writer MG Slegler.

Them along with other top Apple writers were sent these invitations today to meet at a hall in New York. This has to be the Verizon iPhone announcement. We’ve just seen in the last weeks, conformation of the CDMA iPhones, Apple blocking off three weeks of no vacation, and now this.

Below is the personal invitation sent to select bloggers about the event (for larger picture click on it below):

Since 1938 – San Francisco Landmark Hotel Washes Coins

There was a time when going downtown was a big deal. People would get dressed up and women would put on their clean white gloves. This is when the Westin – St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco first started washing dirty and grimy coins. It was noticed that the tarnished coins would soil the gloves worn at the time. So since 1938, the Westin – St Francis Hotel has washed all the coins that are taken in by the hotel from their bar, restaurants, and cafes.

In a hidden room away from prying eyes, a lone employee scrubs the coins until they are clean and bright. The coins are then returned into circulation by the hotel once the scrubbing process is complete. It is believed that this is the only hotel that continues the coin cleaning process.

In a recent article it also states that:

“It’s a connection to a different time,” Holsen said as he rolled up his sleeves and tucked his tie into his dress shirt. “A connection to a more gentle time, when to go downtown was a big deal. Dress up, put on a hat and gloves, and go to Macy’s.”

Money washing at the St. Francis began in 1938 when hotelier Dan London noticed that coins dirtied a woman’s white gloves.

“Coins were used to pay for lunch tabs,” Holsen said, “tips, taxi rides, everything. It was rare to use a bill.”

Less coins are taken in by the hotel since Coke machines and pay phones are now a thing of the past. Coins that are bent, painted, or Canadian are removed prior to being placed back into circulation at the hotel. Only the cleanest and shiniest are allowed to circulate among the guests and patrons of the hotel.

Comments welcome

Source – SF Gate

The Big Switch: Rewiring The World, From Edison To Google

There should be an image here!While it may seem that we’re in the midst of an unprecedented technological transition, in The Big Switch: Rewiring The World, From Edison To Google, Nicholas Carr posits that the direction of the digital revolution has a strong historical corollary: electrification. Carr argues that computing, no longer personal, is going the way of a power utility. Manufacturers used to provide their own power (i.e., windmills and waterwheels) until they plugged into the electric grid a hundred years ago.

According to Carr, we’re in the midst of a similar transition in computing, moving from our own private hard drives to the computer as access portal. Soon all companies and individuals will outsource their computing systems, from programming to data storage, to companies with big hard drives in out-of-the-way places. Carr’s analysis of the recent past is clear and insightful as he examines common computing tools that are embedded in the Internet instead of stored on a hard drive, including Google and YouTube.

The social and economic consequences of this transition into the utility age fall somewhere between uncertain and grim, Carr argues. Wealth will be further consolidated into the hands of a few, and specific industries, publishing in particular, will perish at the hands of crowdsourcing and the unbundling of content. However, Carr eschews an entirely dystopian vision for the future, hypothesizing without prognosticating. Perhaps lucky for us, he leaves a great number of questions unanswered.

Skyara

When you travel somewhere, you want to have new experiences that are interesting and exciting. In fact, you may even be looking for new experiences in your own hometown. Each one of us has a different set of knowledge about cities, and that’s why it makes sense to connect with other more knowledgeable and experienced individuals when we travel to their area. Whether it’s something local that’s fun to do or just an experience that you don’t want to miss, you can check Skyara to find exciting things to do in a city.

Right now the site seems to be focused on the San Francisco area, and you’ll see that a variety of options are open to you. You can just search for what you’re looking for and see what’s available. If the details and price look good to you, then you can book the experience and look forward to it. If you have something to offer, then you can list it on Skyara and make some money in the process. Traveling definitely doesn’t have to be boring.

Low Tech Crook Steals Cash From ATM Using Napkins

In a day and age when we rely on high-tech gadgets to do are bidding, the ingenuity of people never ceases to amaze me. While crooks use scanners to gain access to consumers ATM information, one crook in San Francisco has resorted to using napkins to steal cash from ATM customers. A local merchant watched as the suspect took napkins and jammed them into the cash slot at a local ATM. He contacted police who responded and subsequently arrested the man. During their investigation the police found another ATM machine that also had the cash slot jammed with napkins.

According to a report, the suspect jams the cash slot with napkins. He would wait until a customer tried using the machine, until the person became frustrated in not receiving their funds. The suspect would wait until the customer left, remove the napkins and also the cash.

If this happens to you and your cash does not appear in the slot, reach up inside the machine. You may just find a napkin blocking the cash from coming out.

Comments welcome.

Source – SF Examiner

San Francisco Takes The ‘Happy’ Out Of Happy Meals

If you want to buy a Happy Meal in San Francisco, you better include some fruit or veggies along with the toy. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed on ordinance to require more nutritious meals when a toy is tossed into the bag. On a 8-3 vote, which will counter a mayoral veto of the ordinance, the new rules will cut down on calories.

In a recent article it also states that:

“We’re part of a movement that is moving forward an agenda of food justice,” said Supervisor Eric Mar, who sponsored the measure. “From San Francisco to New York City, the epidemic of childhood obesity in this country is making our kids sick, particularly kids from low-income neighborhoods, at an alarming rate. It’s a survival issue and a day-to-day issue.”

Just after the vote, McDonald’s spokeswoman Danya Proud said, “We are extremely disappointed with today’s decision. It’s not what our customers want, nor is it something they asked for.”

Proud, the McDonald’s spokeswoman, said the city was out of step with the mainstream on the issue.

“Public opinion continues to be overwhelmingly against this misguided legislation,” she said. “Parents tell us it’s their right and responsibility — not the government’s — to make their own decisions and to choose what’s right for their children.”

The vote was held the same day that McDonald’s reintroduced nationwide its McRib sandwich, a pressed pork patty that gets half its calories from fat and has a cult-like legion of fans.

It is ironic that this ordinance goes into effect, after voters seemed to indicate they want less governmental intrusion into their life. People know the hazards that could pose a health risk for their children. So it would seem that parents are not smart enough to handle nutritional information and need a government agency to tell them what is best for their kids.

It is also silly to think that those who wish to consume a Happy Meal can not do so by driving outside of Sam Francisco and devouring a caloric monster, with included toy. Those fast food chains in San Francisco will suffer and in turn generate less sales tax revenue for the city.

Comments welcome.

Source – LA Times

AOL Has Purchased TechCrunch – Will There Be Major Changes?

It had been rumored that AOL was going to purchase TechCrunch and the deal was sealed today in San Francisco. The owner and founder of TechCrunch, Michael Arrington, has been providing reviews of products and companies in the technology field. Many of us who blog have cited TechCrunch articles and breaking news for their insider view of what is happening in the technology field. So now that AOL has acquired TechCrunch will there be major changes?

Over at the TechCrunch web site some readers were not happy campers. Some of the comments were:

Shouldn’t Techcrunch be acquiring AOL?

SELL OUT!!!!!!

Michael sold out to AOL???? WTF

You’re surprised? Do you think he’s some bastion of honorable journalism?

Don’t worry. Tomorrow Arrington will backpedal and announce that an acquisition may or may not be taking place.

Mike was broke and in debt. Now he’s just broke.

It is unfortunate that some forget that TechCrunch has provided us with valuable information in the past. I can understand why some folks are upset, but we must remember that Arrington has a perfect right to sell his company to anyone he feels like.

What do you think?

Comments welcome.

Source – TechCrunch

PS I am just happy that we no longer are receiving those AOL CD’s in the mail! LOL

Craigslist Removes Adult Section – Was It Pressure From The Government That Caused The Removal?

In a recent show of solidarity, 18 Attorney Generals from states across the U.S., had asked Craigslist to remove the adult content section. Apparently the pressure may have been too much for the San Francisco based online classified ad site only has a ‘censored’ where the site once was in black with white lettering. See below.

The ban is only for U.S. based online services and does not have any affect in other countries. No one has been able to reach Graigslist for comments as to why or when the dicision was made to remove the section.

So what do you think? Should Craiglsist have removed the section or should they have fought the government?

Source – SF Gate

Shopkick – New Start-up Lets iPhone Users Scan For ‘Kickbucks’

A new San Francisco based start-up called Shopkick launched yesterday with a unique new shopping service that allows iPhone users to receive ‘kickbucks’. The new services involves some major retailers like Best Buy, Macy’s and others and provides a way for Shopkick users to receive rewards for just going into a store. The stores will have a device that connects to your iPhone that will record your visit and apply the rewards automatically. In addition iPhone users can take pictures of bar codes of items from their iPhone and receive additional rewards or cost saving discounts.

In a recent article it states that:

Kickbucks, in turn, can be redeemed for Facebook credits to play games online, song downloads, in-store gift cards, and other standard online rewards club stuff like magazine subscriptions or donations to charities.

So basically Kickbucks is creating a rewards system; a portfolio of your shopping habits and the merchandise you find interesting enough to scan — so it can potentially target you better with deals; and a virtual currency that can be redeemed for goods in the future.

Will it take off?

We’re not sure how the rewards structure will look, which could play a big role. If it’s a ripoff — lots of activity required for lame rewards, it will get boring really quickly.

I think there are two issues that may limit participation into the program. First, the service is limited to iPhone users. While this will work great in the Bay Area where there is a large concentration of iPhone users, it is still limited. Second is the limitation of participating retailers. If Shopkick can expand their service to other phones like those using Droid and expand their base of participating retailers, Shopkick could take off with a bang.

What do you think?

Comments welcome.

Source – Silicon Alley Insider – Business Insider

24 Hour Fitness Implements New Fingerprint Entry System

Now before you privacy fanatics go ballistic, repeat after me. This program is strictly optional. 24 Hour Fitness has been experimenting with a fingerprint entry program from Santa Cruz to San Francisco, CA. The company states that the optional program is going to be eventually  expanded nation wide.

In an article from the Santa Cruz Sentinel it also states that:

Croghan stressed that the program is optional and said members can continue to use their cards until the new system is implemented at all of the more than 400 facilities across the country. At that time, the cards will be phased out, but members who do not want to have their fingerprints scanned still can gain entry by showing a photo ID.

The decision to make the change was based on strong member demand, Croghan said, and in the areas the company has so far tested, “97 percent of our members had decided to opt in to the new system as their preferred check in. … Overwhelmingly, it’s been positive.”

“What we actually store is the number that is generated by the scan,” he explained. “We’re not actually keeping an image of your fingerprint. We’re storing a number.”

One of the biggest benefits I see is that you will not have to bring your membership card with you. I am sure we have all experienced the scenario that when we arrive at a business that requires ID, we discover that we left it at home.

So what do you think?

Comments welcome.

Source – Santa Cruz Sentinel

Wireless Industry Sues San Francisco – Protests Radiation Disclosure Law

Wireless Industry Protests Radiation Disclosure Law – States Law Is Misleading Consumers.

San Francisco is being challenged by the wireless industry [CITA] concerning the cities new law which requires radiation warnings for all cell phones. The wireless people believe that the law will mislead consumers into thinking that one phone may be safer than another. In addition the law does not address if cell phones are a hazard or not. There has been no scientific evidence to positively conclude that using a cell phone causes any type of health risks. In addition a recent article also states that:

According to the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association, specific absorption rate, or SAR, is “a way of measuring the quantity of radio frequency (RF) energy that is absorbed by the body.” For a phone to pass FCC certification and be sold in the United States, its maximum SAR level must be less than 1.6 watts per kilogram. In Europe, the level is capped at 2 watts per kilogram while Canada allows a maximum of 1.6 watts per kilogram.

My question to you is this. Should we consumers be concerned with the amount of radiation our cell phones give off?

Comments welcome.

Over at CNet they have provide a list of phone ratings for the SAR levels to help you determine just how much radiation is coming from your cell phone.

UTStarcom/PCD| Kyocera | LG | Motorola | Nokia | Palm | Pantech | RIM | Samsung | Sanyo | Siemens | Sony Ericsson | Apple iPhone/Other

Source – CNBC

San Francisco’s Unluckiest Thief Steals iPhone With GPS Tracking Program

San Francisco resident Horatio Toure is most likely still wondering how police were able to arrest him after he stole an Apple iPhone from a woman in a South of Market neighborhood. It seems that Jordan Strum was out on the sidewalk in the process of demonstrating new GPS tracking software when Toure struck.

The thief, riding a bicycle by Strum, snatched the Apple iPhone out of Strum’s hand. She ran back to where her boss was tracking the phone on his laptop to report the theft. Police were called and with the assistance of Strum’s boss, followed the thief, who was arrested just 10 minutes after the theft.

An article in SF Gate also states:

Kahn is the chief executive of Covia Labs of Mountain View. He was in San Francisco on Monday demonstrating a product called Alert & Respond to his public relations folks at their South of Market office.

Geared for police and the military, the program allows for real-time tracking of the location of officers and other people and resources. It also allows for the integration of phones, computers and other devices and communication between them.

Kahn said he had asked an assistant, Jordan Sturm, to take his phone out on the sidewalk so he could track her location on his laptop. Seconds after she left, though, a curious thing happened. She appeared — according to Alert & Respond — to be running at high speed down the street.

But Sturm no longer had the phone. After she hurried back into the office, she called police and the company relayed the phone’s ever-changing location to officers.

Then there was this:

“What are the odds,” Kahn asked, “that you would grab someone’s cell phone during a demonstration of the ability to track the phone’s location in real time? That’s what this unfortunate thief did.”

If you are like me, this does make one wonder. Unlucky thief or a publicity stunt? I am sure the cops are scratching their heads and thinking the same thing. It should be interesting to see if anything more comes from this story. If the story is true, we can then award Toure the unlucky thief award. LOL

Comments welcome.

Source – SF Gate