With the development of CurrentC in the wake of Apple Pay, I have to say this is a horrible PR move and CurrentC will be the Qwikster of the credit industry. QR codes as payment systems were an interesting idea 4 years ago but now that we have NFC, QR code payment systems just don't make sense.
So what is CurrentC?
CurrentC is a payment app developed by retailers to bypass the credit card companies and process your payments themselves while also collecting data on you using QR codes to process the payments instead of the magnetic strip on your credit card or the NFC chip in your phone.
When I got my first cell phone I got it with Alltel, and that sucked, Alltel was horrible. Once my contract was up with them I switched to AT&T and at first I was happy then the service started to cut in and out and my monthly bill start to go up so I switched to Sprint when my 2 year contract was up with AT&T. Now I was really happy with Sprint, the price was lower than AT&T and the service was much better, plus the people at the Sprint store didn't act like pricks unlike the people at every AT&T store I went to.
So I was happy, and when my two year contract was up I renewed it and got a new Samsung Galaxy Nexus and went on my merry way. Then I noticed that my bill was going up a little every month and I started to watch it and it just kept going up, I started off paying about $72.00 a month for an unlimited plan and by July of 2013 (the middle of my 4th year with Sprint) my bill had gone up to $98.15. That means in 3 1/2 years my bill went up 23 dollars, or about $0.76 per month.
So in January of 2013 I started thinking about dropping Sprint for a Tracfone or some other prepaid provider when I was listening to on of the TWiT podcasts I listen to while driving when they talked about Ting, and since I had been looking for low budget backup phone I gave it a shot and tried out the service. Now Ting runs off the Sprint network so I checked my connection on both devices all over the place, I took both the Sprint phone and the Ting phone everywhere I normally go and tested them both, and the Ting phone operated just like the Sprint phone so on August 5, 2013 I bit the bullet and switched to Ting canceling my Sprint contact 6 months early, and paid the ETF of $350, and yet I still saved almost $400 in that six months. The whole process took less than an hour, I did everything myself, and there are very well written instructions for a variety of phones.
I love Ting, and will most likely be with them for a very long time, my only issue is that in the last two months I stopped being able to get a data connection anywhere in or near Mansfield Ohio, thankfully I'm not there for more than an hour a night but still I wonder why I stopped getting a connection when I had one before. I can still get voice and text but no data anywhere in Mansfield (darn not YouTube or voice to text), I wonder if Sprint is doing something to the connection to make a MVNO look worse than the carrier it's self. I can't prove this it's just a theory, but between the money I've saved, the insight on my own usage, and the amazing customer support (it's real people with real knowledge of what they're talking about talking to you) I'm totally fine with no data connection in one city I'm only in for an hour a night, I have data everywhere else I go.
So stop paying absurd amounts of money to the carriers, switch to Ting! And if you click on the Ting logo below it will take you to the Ting website and you'll get a $25.00 credit on your account when you sign up. The way this works is every Ting customer get's a referral link, and if someone signs up using that link they get a $25.00 credit and so does the person that owns the link. Understand I will get a $25.00 credit as will you if you follow my link, but I did not write this post just to try and get referrals, I really do love Ting and want to spread the word. Also I have in no way been promoted or offered monetary gain for writing this, no one from or representing Ting have prompted me to write this post. Now click the link below for your $25.00 credit and start saving money with Ting!
So now that Google Reader has been shut down and everyone has moved on and found other readers I'd like to talk about one that I've found and have come to love.
First let me say that yes I tried Feedly but I just didn't like it, it seemed slow and when I imported my Reader info some things were missing and after manually adding the missing feeds they would be gone the next time I opened up the reader. So for me Feedly is out.
Next is the Digg Reader, not being a fan of Digg and preferring Reddit I didn't try this one, I've seen a lot of positive reviews about it though. If you're a Digg user already I'd say this is probably the way to go for you.
The AOL reader....din't try it, not going to try it.
Now for the reader that I've found to be my personal favorite, CommaFeed I could go on and on about this but I will try to make this brief. The design is simple and clean, everything works flawlessly, it's open source, and there are browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. I honestly love the reader and I just thought I've been using it and I wanted to put the word out there since I've never seen it discussed in any way when talking about Reader alternatives. If you're still looking for a good Reader replacement I'd say check out CommaFeed.
Recently I bought What Would Google Do? written by Jeff Jarvis in audio book form on Audible and at one point he suggests running internet lines along with power lines to more effectively distribute the internet to all homes. Now while I think this is a great idea, it got my mind working and made me think about the negatives of that idea. The main issue is that if you're running internet cable along with power cable then the power company can try and muscle in on the ISP business and charge just as outrageous prices as the ISP's do now.
So what did I come up with? Well it's still a work in progress but I'll outline the basics of what I have right now. First a non-profit should be set up, lets call it Open Source Electric and Internet (OSEI), alright now the OSEI team should work with electrical engineers to to design small power stations that would serve a small community and work to find the most productive and cost effective model. Next the OSEI team should work with ISP engineers to design and plan deployment of a new network, at this stage the electrical engineers with work with the ISP engineers to figure out the best way to run electricity and internet down the same pipe with little to no interference.
But where does the power come from you ask? Every building connected to the network commercial and residential, public and private, will be required to have a subsidized solar panel array mounted to the roof. Every building would produce electricity and feed extra electricity back to the grid charging the power station's batteries which would also be charged by the stations own large solar array.
Now as for the internet, each power station would also act as a hub with a large antenna that would connect to other power station hubs to create a large scale mesh network. The signal between these towers should be encrypted to secure user data, but the power station hub would also be running high speed internet lines to every building along with power lines thereby giving every building internet access. Also since the local OSEI power station would presumably power local street lights put WiFi repeaters on the street lights and hard wire every forth or fifth one as an access point to the OSEI line to ensure WiFi coverage in the public space.
Obviously you will need more power than the community can provide from time to time so what should you do? Well the answer came in the form of an idea I had years ago. I drive on US Route 30 for approximately 75 miles (each way), and what do I see for most the my drive? A large grass covered median between the East & West bound lanes. Now imagine if even half of that 75 miles had solar panels on it, think of the power it could produce. These panels could be broken into sections and could be linked to near by power stations that then feed the power to the network of local power stations that in turn distribute all the power as needed. There could also be WiFi repeaters connected to the panels to provide WiFi access to all the vehicles on the road, this WiFi would of course come from the nearby power station that the solar array is connected to.
But what about the DOT employees that are paid to mow that median? Well the OSEI could subcontract to the local DOT and have the otherwise out of work employees retrained to inspect and service the solar array on the highway and in the public spaces. Why subcontract instead of just hiring them? Well first of all OSEI wouldn't have to pay all the employee costs (taxes, workers comp, health plans, retirement, ect.) instead they would pay a lump sum to the state who would then pay the workers they already have and the workers get to keep their government health plans and pensions.
Ok so now for the question on everyone's mind, how the hell does this make money? Well first of all this is all run by a non-profit so the goal isn't to make money, but there does need to be some profit to keep things running. First charge $0.03 per kWh for every one who consumes more electricity than they produce. Next charge a flat fee of $20.00 per month for unlimited internet access. Now what about those people who's building produces more power than it consumes? Do they get money back every month? The simple answer is No. Part of the deal you make to have a subsidized solar array placed on your building , $0.03 per kWh charge (only if you use more than you produce), $20.00 per month unlimited internet access, and of course being part of the community, is that you give up the idea that the power company will pay you for producing power.
So there you have it, the very basic idea that I got from one sentence from Jeff Jarvis. Do you see flaws with my idea? Do you have a better suggestion? Let me know in the comments. Hell, got your own better idea? Write up your own idea and post the link in the comments, if I like it I'll update this to include your name and the link. Remember Open Source is all about working together to build it better!