Cell Service Coming To NYC Subways

Much to the chagrin of hypocritical technophobes and stodgy old timers (or idiot young people acting like they’re 100 years old), New York City’s Metropolitan Transit Authority has announced details of a deal with Transit Wireless to wire all of the 277 underground subway stations for cellular service. The city will receive $46.8 million over ten years, and the entire cost of building the network ($100 to $200 million) will be paid by Transit Wireless.
Under the agreement, the first six stations are to be those at 23rd Street and 14th Street on the Eighth Avenue line, 14th Street on the Seventh Avenue line, 14th Street on the Sixth Avenue line, and Eighth Avenue and Sixth Avenue on the L line.
For me, this service can’t come fast enough, but the real holy grail is to extend cellular signals through the underground tunnels, so riders can use the phone and/or data services while actually riding the subway, not just when they’re on the platform. It’s a great step into the future, and one that’s been a long time coming.

Of course, some people aren’t happy about this, and they are, by and large, the same ones pushing against allowing people to use cell phones on planes. Their arguments couldn’t be more vapid. First, they complain about “rude people talking,” as if being on a cell phone somehow makes rude people more rude, or (The horror! The horror!) gives people more incentive to do the very un-human (practically pre-historic!) thing called “talking.” Could it be that these folks are just upset that they can only hear half of the conversation on which they are eavesdropping?

And then, if that “argument” doesn’t work, they resort to the old-timery, but-why-do-you-have-to? innovation-killer-question.

Some idiot student with a girl’s name (Karol Ledworowski - yes, I am aware it’s the Polish version of Charles, but Charles is also a girl’s name) told the Times, “You can wait until you leave the station to make a phone call or receive a message,” before worrying aloud about terrorists setting off a bomb in the subway using their cell phones.

Now, maybe this is just me, but I don’t think that being unable to detonate explosives with a Razr 2 has anything at all to do with the reasons terrorists aren’t just planting bombs all over the Q Train. I’m sure the evil terrorists have watched just as many spy movies as Karol - enough to know that there are other great ways to set off bombs that don’t involve complex wiring. You know, like strapping them to children

EDIT: Driven By Boredom says pretty much the same thing in a bit more ranty way, and goes on a slightly off-topic but awesome tirade against the exceedingly awful “walkie-talkie” phone.

I don’t get it. Can you (or anyone) provide a logical argument for not doing this, especially when a private company is willing to pay for it?

Do You Use The Internet For Evil?

Are you using this precious web technology to commit crimes against humanity?

Here’s a checklist.

Do you...
  • send non-business-sensitive emails using Bcc?
  • chat with multiple people at once and copy/paste portions of one conversation into another?
  • post bulletins on MySpace to call attention to your “awesome new pix!”?
  • still use AOL? (Worse yet - are you still paying for AOL?)
  • use the font tag?
  • use HTML tables as structural elements?
  • have a LiveJournal?
  • belong to more than five social networking sites
  • search the web using Ask.com?
  • link to other sites because you were asked to in an email?
  • read and agree with Andrew Keen?
  • plaster AdSense all over your blog?
  • stalk people by subscribing to Google Alerts on their name (as well as their Amazon wishlist, del.icio.us bookmarks, flickr stream, and Twitter alerts)?
  • forward emails? Ever?
  • frequent any chatrooms or forums?
  • comment on Digg stories?
  • buy books from Barnes & Noble instead of Amazon?
  • use Arial for anything, anywhere, ever, for any reason?
Got any more insidious offenses against common decency? Leave them in the comments!

Feed Me!

Dear Businesses Everywhere,

Please, please, please start serving RSS feeds for all of your individual product pages, category pages, search results, and (especially) sale items.

Please, please, please let me share my wish list as an RSS feed, by email, on del.icio.us, in embeddable widget form, and as a standard URL.

Please, please, please let me sort by color, price, brand, size, newness, materials, rating, popularity, number of reviews, etc.

Please, please, please link to reviews of the product on other sites.

Please, please, please show me the only the most relevant information, but let me easily find the tiniest little detail about the product if I’m curious.

Please, please, please give me very high resolution images of your product, rather than simply opening a pop-up window containing a photo exactly the same size as the one I was just looking at and pretending that it’s somehow larger because it’s in its own box.

Please, please, please let me see the total cost of the contents of my shopping cart (not just number of items), including estimated shipping and tax at all times.

Please, please, please don’t force me to open an account in order to buy something from your store.

Please, please, please let me create an account so I don’t have to enter my shipping/billing information every time I want to buy something.

Please, please, please don’t try to be all cool and social-networky unless you really go for it and offer me something of value, rather than simply assuming that adding a “friends” feature will help you sell more stuff.

Please, please, please have a customer service number (or at least an email address!) visible on every page.

Please, please, please make it as easy as possible for me to give you my money.

I want to, believe me. If I’m on your site, I want to give you my money. Simple as that. If I’m there, it’s because I’m looking for something to buy. Sometimes now, sometimes later. But most likely now.

Come on, I’m begging you. Look - mooooooooooooooooney!!!!!!

Let me click “Buy Now,” close the tab, and get back to reading my feeds in Google Reader.

You know, the feeds with your products in them.

Visual Poetry Memorial

I created the rather giant infographical poem below (originally 42,000 pixels high) out of the natural near-mirror image created by the names of those killed in the attacks on September 11, 2001, and the subsequent American casualties in the Afghanistan/Iraq Wars/Military Operations.

Invisible in this design, as in much of the Western world, are the names of the thousands upon thousands of innocent Iraqi men, women, and children, whose lives were also cut short, simply because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Unlike most memorials, the names here are all unreadable - stretched past legibility into distorted, primary forms. Pixels, anti-aliasing, blurs, blobs.

Something about souls and the essential human and our eternal connection to one another.

And look around. All the white space in this design, on this blog, and everywhere represents the ever-living spirits of those who have died throughout history. The million million million pixels on computer displays and television sets are for us the stars upon which our ancestors gazed. The sky has become too full, too heavy with the souls of those who have come before.

Now we may gaze into the infinite representative space called “cyber,” and in the swirling dots of light and color and non-light, remember our loved ones for all eternity.

Six Years Later: Do You Still Care?

Today is the sixth anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon which, at least here in America, are known as, simply, 9/11. The rest of the world uses a different date format, so 9/11 would refer to November, but that’s not where I want to go with this post.

I remember watching the the events unfold in real time on various televisions in my freshman-year residence hall and dining facilities as though it were just yesterday. Fresh off the plane from Las Vegas mere days earlier, all by myself in Hartford, Connecticut, witnessing the horrific images with a few people I barely knew, but with whom I will always share something humongously important.

And now I live in New York - which is, after all, where I was born. I moved in to my apartment in September of 2005, and have just “celebrated” the beginning of my third year here. Funny, I guess, how these anniversaries coincide. How, for me, September 11 brings to mind a sense of moving - moving away, moving in, moving on. I think ahead to next September, to what will likely be one of the biggest moves of my life, and I feel an overwhelming sense of hope for the days and months and years to come. The hardest part for me about remembering September 11 is dealing with the semi-controversial feeling that somehow, inexplicably, I am better off now.

No - we are better off now.

But as I sit here thinking back, I can’t shake another, more persistent thought. It’s callous, perhaps. Embarrassing, sure. But it feels so immediate, honest, and true.

When will Apple announce the details of the $100 store credit?

Does this mean that I’ve moved on with my life?

Or that I no longer care?

Web TV

There’s something about watching television shows over the internet that makes commercials absolutely unbearable. Even though a network like ABC shows far fewer ads online than the ol’ boob tube, these interruptions feel so wrong, so out of place. And because they nicely mark the commercials on the video timeline, you’re left to count down the seconds until the next break. Couple this with the fact that these shows are still filmed and edited with traditional time allowances in mind (doing the well-known “fade to black, fade back in, and repeat the previous scene a little bit” every few minutes), and you get an experience that is odd, to say the least. ABC even makes you click to continue watching the show once the ad has ended. Why? Just in case I left to get a drink and pee during the commercial like I do when I watch your shows in the living room? In that case, thanks, I guess. But it’s still annoying, especially if I am watching the ad. If I want to pee, I know where the pause button is.

Like reading books on computer screens, television on the web doesn’t quite feel right just yet. But I don’t think I can ever go back to 18 minutes of commercials during an hour-long show. Somehow, taking forty-three minutes of my time (versus sixty) seems much, much more reasonable, even if it’s still a little awkward.