Things I Read this Weekend (3-23-2014)

Too much choice is always bad

Simon Sinek is my hero:

The most social companies:

It makes me want a chromebook. Except I don’t need a chromebook:

Good business advice from Warren Buffett’s career

Russia is building a space hotel with 4 guest rooms, launching in 2 years:

I <3 N Y ?

I think if the brilliantly simple I (heart) NY campaign was pitched today, it would be rejected. We have become too cynical — too suspicious of advertising for something so direct to work. The reason it endures now is that it’s survived long enough to become beloved kitsch.

Sometimes the right fortune finds you

That’s entertainment?

Today, while the Boston police are tracking the 2nd suspected Boston Marathon bomber, I clicked on a news story, and had to watch a video ad first. It was for a buddy cop movie with lots of guns, car chases. It did not feel like entertainment. It did not feel fun today. Maybe that’s the correct reaction to seeing guns and a car chase. Maybe they should not be entertainment.


I saw “Argo” on Saturday, which began with a very simple history lesson to remind the audience that the US engineered a coup and supported a dictator in order to secure oil supplies, which resulted in unfathomable misery and killings for decades. Plus the 1979 hostage crisis, etc, etc.
Now this bombing, today.
I’m not condoning violence. I abhor violence. But I also recognize many people are very angry about all sorts of things we generally don’t think about, and from their perspective, it’s with cause. I recognize karma. I recognize there’s always more to the story. And the victims are usually innocent of the cause.
Please be nice. Everyone, please learn to forgive the past and work toward peace and understanding. Violence on top of violence does no good.

Ray Kurzweil and exponential health technology

This really hits my sweet spot — health and sci-fi technology. I stumbled across this report and got hooked.

There are 3 online video extras about Ray from this report. This page holds the 3rd, and has links to the other two.

And Singularity University, which he cofounded to advance technology for good:

And this is his online nutrition store:

Excellent business advice

This sign, in a local merchant’s booth, says “Love all, serve all. Help ever, hurt never.”

Good advice, not just for business, but for life.




Chick-fil-A is Insane

I create brands, logos, slogans. And as a professional, I think this lawsuit that Chick-fil-A has brought against a small t-shirt silkscreener is insanity. Do you think a t-shirt that says “Eat More Kale” could possibly be confused with their “Eat Mor Chikin” campaign? Last time I checked, chicken was not a vegetable. Does Chick-fil-A even sell vegetables? Maybe their lawyers don’t know what kale is. Maybe their lawyers just needed to increase their billable hours…

This is what war does.

Iraqi Taxi Drivers killed for their cars, buried in mass grave.

Are they less oppressed now than before the war?

Cellphone research for the power user

I’ve been obsessing over my next cellphone purchase, and doing extensive research. I thought I might as well share my findings with the world to make myself feel a little better about all the time I’ve spent on it.

A few notes:

  • I believe the carrier and their network matter more than the phone, because a great phone is useless if the network is bad, or if you’ve exceeded your data allowance for the month. All carriers have good Android phone options, so look at their networks, technologies, prices and policies. Of course, if you’ve got your heart set on an iPhone, that is fine, and your decision is simpler. (update 11/2011: now that the iPhone is available on 3 carriers, your decision is more complex)
  • I also believe that the initial purchase price of the phone should not be a factor in your decision. If you amortize it over the 2-year life of the contract, variations in handset price become irrelevant. Look at the big picture.
  • I am not considering Blackberries or Palm phones. I think Blackberry has already become irrelevant, and the Palm/HP OS, though great, is too far behind to bother with. It may catch up, but not in time to bother with in 2011. (update 11/2011: Palm is now officially irrelevant, as HP discontinued the line)
  • This entry was written for power-users who want a smartphone and expect to use a lot of bandwidth, or maybe use a hotspot feature, either on- or off-label. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then this article isn’t for you ;-)
  • I’m only covering national “postpaid” carriers that I care about, (after all, this is my blog).
  • Also, this entry was written in April 2011. Things change quickly in the cellphone world, so check my facts before you make your own decisions.

OK, now on to the findings:

Verizon Wireless
(CDMA network)


  • Their 4G LTE network speeds really are the fastest of all the US carriers. If you live in a 4G area, you can see speeds up to 3 or 4 times the competition’s 4G speeds. If you don’t mind that 4G kills the battery.
  • Most agree their network has the largest footprint.
  • I’m not saying anything about dropped calls, because I found in my own unscientific study that both T-Mobile and Sprint dropped fewer calls than Verizon did. But that’s just me.
  • You can get a wifi hotspot with a 5-gig or 10-gig plan. But see the related Con on this one (below).


  • They have “unlimited data” options but they will throttle speeds. They have stated the top 5% of data users will see their speeds cut back for the remainder of the billing cycle AND the NEXT MONTH’S ENTIRE CYCLE TOO. That is harsh. (update 11/2011: New customers no longer get unlimited data.)
  • I am not clear on how they will determine who gets cut. There is no way to measure if you’re in the top 5%, but if you jailbreak or root and tether, then I’d bet you are at risk.
  • They have announced plans to recompress video streams to reduce bandwidth requirements, or in other words degrade video quality. Of course they claim the effect will not be detectable.
  • Their rates are generally the highest of all the US carriers. (With AT&T a close second)
  • If you buy a wifi hotspot from them, you will be charged through the nose for overages if you exceed your plan’s 5gig or 10gig cap.

Good to know:

  • If you have a 4G phone with Verizon, you can talk and use data at the same time. If you have a 3G phone, you can’t. (GSM networks do not have this problem)
  • 3-way calling is not as good as on a GSM network.
  • They have the highest early termination fees, and the least flexible policies that I am aware of.

AT&T Wireless
(GSM network)


  • If you are lucky enough to be grandfathered onto an unlimited data plan, they do not throttle your data.
  • I don’t have many other pros for AT&T, sorry AT&T
  • GSM is more compatible globally, if you travel (but watch out for roaming charges — better to buy a local SIM card)
  • GSM allows you to talk and surf (use data) at the same time.


  • They have stingy data caps on their smartphone plans. After 2 gigs you pay an extra $10 per each gig you use.
  • The network reliability is universally loathed, though this varies depending on where you are.
  • They are currently engaged in detecting who is tethering without paying the tether-plan fee, and warning them to stop via text messages.

Good to know:

  • If you travel overseas with a GSM phone, you can buy a local SIM card and pay low local phone rates. But watch out for data usage.



  • They, along with Sprint, are the value leaders in terms of what their monthly plans cost. T-Mobile currently has a pricing edge.
  • They do not have hard caps on data usage. They throttle you for the current cycle once you exceed 2 gigs of data. (I am told the throttling lowers you to 56K speeds, which is incredibly slow compared to 3G)
  • You can buy a wifi hotspot with a 5-gig or 10-gig plan. They throttle you after you hit your cap — they do not cut you off or charge you extra.
  • If you get both a phone and a wifi hotspot, you get a discount on the hotspot service.
  • They have very friendly service and routinely receive high marks for customer service.
  • If you already have a GSM phone — even an iPhone — they will let you put their SIM card into it and use it.
  • Their “4G” service is systemwide, not limited to specific markets.
  • They charge less to turn on a phone’s hotspot feature: $15 per month.


  • A smaller network than Verizon or AT&T (but good coverage in urban and dense areas).

Good to know:

  • Their “4G” network isn’t really 4G. It’s definitely faster than 3G, but not as fast as Verizon or Sprint’s 4G. But at least it’s systemwide, and not limited to specific markets, and uses less battery life.
  • They allow you to buy your phone outright and then pay less monthly for service, without a 2-year or 1-year contract. But they appear to be phasing this out because Americans don’t understand it. (it’s called “Even More Plus”) Other wireless companies let you buy your phone and go without a contract, but do not lower your rates when you do that.
  • If you travel overseas with a GSM phone, you can buy a local SIM card and pay low local phone rates. But watch out for data usage.

CDMA for voice and 3G data, WiMax for 4G data.


  • They, along with T-mobile, are the value leaders in terms of what their monthly plans cost.
  • They have a plan for their best customers (with the most expensive plans) that allows them to buy a new phone every year, with a refreshed 2-year renewal. (update 11/2011: they appear to be phasing this out)
  • They are the most generous with data caps. They do not have hard caps — they throttle your data speeds after 10 gigs, though reports of this happening to actual customers are rare.
  • If you live in an area with their 4G WiMax coverage, data is great, and unlimited. (They only cap/throttle for 3G data)
  • You can get a wifi hotspot with unlimited 4G data (and 5 gigs of 3G data). But that’s only attractive if you live in an area of 4G coverage. With a hotspot (not with a phone), they do charge you for 3G overages after the first 5 gigs.


  • You can’t simultaneously talk and surf (use data) on their 3G network.
  • They offer 4G service in comparatively few large phone markets compared to the competition, and ClearWire, their WiMax partner, is rolling out new markets much slower than originally planned.
  • You pay an extra $10 a month for data whether you can get 4G or not. (but at least they don’t have hard caps on your usage).

Good to know:

  • Phone hackers seem to like tethering illegally on Sprint the best.
  • 3-way calling is not as good as on a GSM network.
  • They have the most extensive free TV offerings, as well as many extra cost offerings.

Virgin Mobile
(running on Sprint’s CDMA 3G network)


  • Absolutely the best deal going for 3G service. You can buy a smartphone for under $200 and then pay $60 for unlimited talk, text and data. No hard caps, no soft caps, no throttling.


  • The phones, though perfectly serviceable, are not top-of-the-line. This is because you have to buy them outright without subsidies so they only offer phones that won’t break your budget.
  • No 4G service. Period.
  • You can’t simultaneously talk and surf (use data) on their CDMA network.

Good to know:

  • I have a Virgin Mobile Android phone, and their phone service and customer service have been good.
  • 3-way calling is not as good as on a GSM network.

Boost Mobile
Purchased by Sprint, running on the outdated Nextel network. It’s on it’s way out.


O2 Wireless
(running on ATT’s 3G GSM network)


  • Good pricing for 3G service. You can bring your own phone and pop in their SIM card. Phones are not subsidized.


  • No 4G service. Period.