Saturday, March 29, 2003
Just the tiniest possibility that this might be true is kind of exciting. Not that I really believe it, but the 'what if' factor is definitely there.

Thursday, March 20, 2003
Thank you, George W. (Shrub) for telling us last night that military actions in Iraq 'have begin'.

Thank you also for this.

Friday, March 14, 2003
Brilliant. Nelly + Tinky-Winky (who is a far, far better duet partner than Justin Timberlake)= genius.

I should know better than to get excited about things sometimes.

You see, T-Mobile UK (who don't deserve a link) have been test-marketing high-speed wireless Internet access in 6 Starbucks cafes across London. Dan and I have gone several times, since the service is free until they expand the service across England. I've spent hours working there on weekends, and it's even given me a chance to work on my online course and sit somewhere comfortable with good coffee.

Just yesterday, I got an e-mail that announced their pricing structure. They'll be charging 47/month for unlimited access and 5.50/hour to connect.

For context, there are two other providers in London that are already offering the pay-as-you-use services at other competing coffee shops (Megabeam Wireless, and BT Openzone). Both are struggling mightily because their connectivity is too expensive and nobody is using it.

BT Openzone charges 20 for 300 minutes/month, 40 for 900 minutes/month, and 85 for unlimited access. They also have a 6/hour pass. But BT Openzone works in train stations, hotels, and Costa Coffee shops. I'd switch to Costa if the access were affordable.

Megabeam service has coverage in many European countries, and charges about 5 for a 2-hour pass, 60 for a monthly pass, and 620 for an annual pass. Yet their services are almost all in hotels and airports. Not where I'd choose to go work, if I needed to take my laptop to a different venue.

Given the very poor take-up of both BT Openzone and Megabeam services in the UK, you'd think they'd learn and reduce the cost dramatically. Sadly, no. What is worse, though, is that T-Mobile itself has first-hand knowledge of what elevated pricing does to subscriptions to its wireless access, as it very recently had to drop the price of its US services (also in Starbucks) by almost half. That means that equivalent T-Mobile/Starbucks service in the US costs about 20/month.

Why are the costs so high here? This article estimates that it costs just over 100/month for a site to operate a WiFi hotspot. Under the old pricing structure, T-Mobile US brought in about 20 users/day to its hotspots. If each of those people spend an extra 1 in coffee and food (very conservative), that works out to a system where it takes one working week to break even. All other 25/26 days of the month provide an extra profit of about 500. Not spectacular.

If you drop the price to 20, thereby increasing the users who come in to use the service, you can, I'd bet, double the bounty profit.

If you make access free, I'd be willing to bet that you'd then double that number. So that's about 2000/month pure profit for something that takes minimal effort to maintain. [T-Mobile operates the hotspot hardware for Starbucks and shares the profits, so there's no labour loss for the fair baristas.]

I mentioned all of this, including my back-of-the-napkin calculations to T-Mobile UK's customer service people in an e-mail yesterday, and here's what I found in my Inbox this morning:

Hi Andrew, 

We believe the T-Mobile UK HotSpot service is one of the best offerings placed in the UK market place.

Our hourly pass sits mid table against our competitors whilst both our daily and (promotional) monthly versions

offer unrivalled value for money.


Webmaster (JR)
T-Mobile UK

So disappointing.

Tuesday, March 11, 2003
I seem to have become the connection for the high-quality video streams, so why not add another log to the pile?

I can't say enough good things about Ruby Amanfu. She was born in Ghana, raised in Nashville, Tennessee, and has chosen to release her first major single here in the UK. This may have something to do with the type of song it is-- it's a pop song no matter which way you slice it, with subtle acoustic guitars and a vocal that you'll be singing back to yourself all day. (Plus that bridge/middle eight is fantastic!)

Even better is the story that her first single is a song that she wrote and submitted to Polydor, UK as a track for someone else to sing. Evidently, they heard the tape and then insisted on having her sing it. When you hear the song, you'll know why.

Because Polydor doesn't seem to be promoting her the way she deserves, her song 'Sugah' (which is, so far, one of my Top 5 of the year) only debuted at 32 this past week. So consider this a grassroots push for more Ruby! Visit her site and watch the video (the whole thing is there), and if you're in the UK, buy the single.

Thursday, March 06, 2003
On a search through the web today, I ran across something I had to investigate: a song called 'The Monkey Song & The Ecumenical Movement' by none other than Crystal Bernard (and her sister Robin). Yes, that Crystal Bernard-- star of small-screen, and well... small screen (think 'Happy Days' and 'Wings').

It turns out that the file is a recording from a radio show from the early 1970s, somewhere in the South (listen to those accents if you're unsure) US recorded as a rollicking retort to that 'ridiculous theory of evolution'.

George W. would be proud (see paragraph 5).

Monday, March 03, 2003
At least part of the reason why he's not too up-in-arms about being plagiarised is that now, with all of this current publicity, his own work (well, all of it is really his own work) stands a much better chance of making it to publication. I imagine that finding out you've won a few presitgious fiction prizes (by proxy, of course) can't help but put a positive spin on having your words borrowed.

If it were me, I'd be demanding the SUNY Stonybrook cash and a chunk of the Thesis prize money.

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