Exploring the impact of broadband and technology on our lives, our businesses, and our communities.

Here's why bricks and mortar retail is shrinking

I needed a halogen bulb for an under-cabinet light in the kitchen. I spent more than an hour traveling to three different stores, including two big box home improvement stores, and never did find the bulb. I did notice that similar bulbs were selling for about eight dollars.

Once I got home, I looked on Amazon. I found the bulb I needed, in a four pack for twelve dollars, or about $3/bulb instead of eight. I have an Amazon Prime subscription, so the bulbs will be delivered to my front door in two days.

Work from home continues to increase

In our work, we are seeing steadily rising numbers of people trying to work from home part or full time. In both the public and private sector, many businesses and agencies now routinely allow employees to work from home one or two days per week, which can have a huge impact on transportation spending. If most commuters stayed home to work just one day a week, you are looking at taking 15% or more of cars off the road, reducing road wear/maintenance, reducing traffic congestion, and shortening commutes.

Is LinkedIn dying?

LinkedIn may not be entirely dead, but in the past several months, I've received nothing but "business friend" requests from sales people and consultants trolling for business. LinkedIn has enabled "lazy" sales work. Just browse LinkedIn for keyword matches for whatever you are selling, and then send a "link" request. I turn them all down.

I was a very early LinkedIn user, and have yet to find it particularly useful. I've never let it have access to my address book, and I rarely use it reach out to people I already know--email and the phone are far more efficient.

Knowledge Democracy:

Technology News:

Death of TV: Part LXXVII: Is it really over?

I've been writing about the death of TV since 2005, and twelve years later, the body may be finally in rigor mortis, or close to it. YouTube has announced a $35/month TV service that includes Fox, ABC, NBC, CBS, Disney, and....ESPN. It's ESPN that may finally break the back of the traditional cable subscription business model. We've heard very consistently that a lot of residential customers have not given up their cable or satellite subscription because they want to watch sports.

Knowledge Democracy:

Technology News:

Bio-diversity on the Internet is a good thing

Bio-diversity on the Internet is a good thing, just like bio-diversity in the real world is a good thing. The Amazon S3 failure yesterday caused major disruptions in a lot of Internet services, particularly on the east coast of the U.S.

Knowledge Democracy:

Technology News:

Virginia communities defeat the death star bill

In a clear sign that the incumbent telephone and cable companies are playing a long game in their fight against competition, a draft bill began circulating in the current legislative session in Virginia.

Community news and projects:

"Twisted Pair Preservation Act" in Virginia

Eldo Telecom has a wry sense of humor. He has called a draft piece of legislation circulating in the statehouse in Richmond, Virginia the "Twisted Pair Preservation Act."

Community news and projects:

The day the InnerTubes jumpted the shark

This weekend, while I was busy wasting time watching a Youtube video, there was an ad for a WiFi-enabled slow cooker.

Knowledge Democracy:

The decline of the Web

As our portable devices become more common and more powerful, the Web is being wrecked by the blight of ads. I see this both with browsers on computers but also and especially on the portable devices, where the pop-up and pop-over advertising not only obscures the content but is often impossible to get rid of. On a smartphone, and I don't care how big the screen is, the little 'X' or "Close ad" button is so small as to be unusable.

It is now ordinary to visit a site and then leave within a few seconds without reading anything because the ads are so difficult to get rid of.

Knowledge Democracy:

Technology News:

Technology is making us stupid: Part II--We don't know how to use the phone

I've written about this before, but had two recent instances where someone needed something from me on short notice (i.e. within a couple of hours) and emailed me instead of picking up the phone. In both cases, they were confused and disoriented when I explained that I had been in meetings and do not check my email in meetings.

If they had called and left a voice mail (or spoken with our receptionist), I would have been able to get them what they needed.

Technology News:

Is the end of the FCC near?

The Washington Post reports that the incoming Trump administration may be considering abolishing the FCC. The FCC was originally created to manage the allocation of a scarce resource (at the time)--frequency spectrum. Advances in radio technology and the rise of the Internet have led to questions about what the FCC should be doing these days.

Death of TV: Part LXXVI: Who needs a TV anymore?

The CW network has released an app for Apple TV that allows you to watch all of the channel's content for free--no cable TV subscription required.

Knowledge Democracy:

Technology News:

Facial recognition: The end of privacy?

Facial recognition software is now in wide use by groups as disparate as Facebook, local police departments, Homeland Security, and the NSA. What it means is that whenever you post a picture of you, family, or friends anywhere online, someone can easily identify every single person in the picture, and very likely determine from the caption or comments where you have been and what you are doing.

Knowledge Democracy:

Technology News:

Welcome your robot overlords

On the heels of accidents caused by self-driving cars, there is a report of a "security robot" accidentally running over a small child at a California shopping mall.

The 300 pound, five foot tall robot bumped into the child, who fell down, and the robot ran over the child's foot. The child was not seriously injured.

We are going to see a lot more of this, as "robots" of all kinds are rushed to market with poorly tested software.

Technology News:

Microsoft: The company that hates its customers

I had some hope that Microsoft, once Steve Ballmer departed, might become more customer friendly. And in the past couple of years, Microsoft has made steady improvements to products like the Surface tablet/laptop--I see a lot of them in my travels.

Here at the office, we've actually seriously discussed moving away from Apple for office productivity software because Apple, since Tim Scott took over, has apparently just decided quality software is not particularly important.

WiFimobile is the new bookmobile

Google has helped to fund some middle school buses in Caldwell County, North Carolina with WiFi so that the kids can get some school work done while traveling back and forth to school.

While this is an interesting experiment, the reason behind it is the abysmal state of broadband access in rural America, where whole families have to drive to McDonalds or the local library so mom and pop can get their email and shop, and so the kids can do their homework.

Community news and projects:

The horror of ordering Internet service

I just spent 40 minutes trying to help a friend order Internet service for a new home in rural North Carolina. They knew that there was no cable service, but did not know who the telephone company was for the area.

I thought this would be easy.

Technology News:

Smombies and the decline of civilization

It has come to this: The city of Augsburg, Germany has begun to install traffic lights in the street...because so many people are looking down at their cellphones that they are ignoring traffic signals and being hit by oncoming traffic. This is just sad.

Email is not a sychronous communications tool

Twice in the past week people have complained that I did not respond to their email. In the first case, they sent the missive to the wrong address, waited two weeks, and then wondered aloud to me if I was really busy and was unable to keep up with email. Well, yes to the really busy part, but no to the unable to keep up with email. I cannot respond to email that I have not received.

Technology News:

Apple comes to its senses with the iPhone SE

Wired has a review of the iPhone SE, which is Apple's newest smartphone offering. It is essentially the guts of the iPhone 6 in the iPhone 5 case--meaning you can actually put the darned thing in your pocket without feeling like there is a brick in there.

I've handled both the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus, and I don't like either of them--just too big. I don't want or need a mini-tablet.

Technology News:

Pages

Subscribe to Technology Futures RSS