Archive for December 2008

The day my G1 arrived in the mail, I discovered that it was useless without activation and that I needed a data plan to activate it. Now that I’m fulfilling all my mobile networking needs over WiFi and enjoying all the plain-old-phone features, I thought I’d share my experience.

This Should Not Be Possible

The issue is complicated by contradictory myths from a few high-profile sources. Most notably, T-Mobile asserts that the G1 would not be functional without their G1 data plan. According to representatives, even an activated phone would stop working the moment the data service is disabled.

Let’s think about this logically. What if one takes the phone on a plane or into the subway system where radio connectivity is nonexistent or limited? Since smartphones also serve PDA-like functions, it would upset most users if their phones became nonfunctional during their commute. Still, many people believe the implausible claims of the company who’s trying really hard to sell their value-added services.

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This is not a story about how Facebook makes me painfully aware of my inability to control myself. One out of every fifty people on the planet uses Facebook and most users belong to Facebook. I can truthfully say that I’m not addicted to Facebook, and I’m proud of that.

Not MySpace

In high school, online social networking was an easy way to quickly gain new contacts. We didn’t go crazy with it, but it was just cool to have an online profile. It was slightly amusing to those of us who had been building websites, but we hopped on the bandwagon anyway. MySpace was the most popular social networking website but Facebook was the friendly new kid on the block. It felt good to be part of something new, something exclusive. As our ambitions grew, Facebook grew with us. Unlike MySpace, Facebook had a simple and consistent user interface. Unlike MySpace, Facebook takes care of most page design and presentation. Unlike MySpace, Facebook was open not to the world but only to students. In short, Facebook was everything MySpace was not, and we identified with it.

As version after version of Facebook rolled into existence and new features were added, it quickly became clear that Facebook’s signature lack of customizability was also its greatest strength. Fewer design concerns meant better focus on content. Less variety of page components meant the ability to quickly find things on anyone’s profile. And a simple email notification system kept everyone up-to-date on what friends were doing.

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