You know that feeling you get each every week, when you’re at the shopping mall and it’s so huge that you can’t even find the information kiosk/map? Isn’t it annoying every time you get lost in a shopping mall so big that even the course/aGPS in the iPhone can still pinpoint you and give you directions to the nearest McDonald’s (see below)? Well, if you are, then you shop a lot in one big, American mall (thus the theme/title of this post), and you should probably download the Point Inside app on your iPhone (iTunes).
In other big, American news: McDonald’s is going to start offering free WiFi at all of its 14,000 US locations. Currently, they offer WiFi at 11,000 locations, but it costs $2.95 for 2 hours. This, along with the company’s forthcoming smoothies and shakes, could transform the way people use McDonald’s: more stay-and-eat, less grab-and-go?
Finally, Citi was just spared of billions of otherwise collectible tax revenue by the IRS, rounding out the final story I have for you in today’s installment of big, American things (in this case, a too-big-to-fail financial institution). The Obama Administration invoked the same change as the Bush Administration, which used it to encourage mergers such as Wells Fargo’s acquisition of Wachovia.
I found myself reading a number of articles on Ars Technica today. The first was a good run-down of what Comcast already owns in the face of its controlling stake in NBC. The second was an exciting look at the future of WiFi and the 1 Gbps speeds we can soon look forward to. Finally, Ars examined the history of YouTube, not only from a cultural perspective but also from a tech/policy standpoint.
Without endorsing endorsing or distancing myself from Christopher Hitchens, this piece on Palin is notable. I agree that it is absurd to see she has jumped on the “birther” bandwagon and all that, but what I like is the word Hitchens created:
…I pointed out the crude way in which she tried to Teflon-ize herself when allegations of weird political extremism were made against her (emphasis CLT).
In other news, we (the Stanford Cardinal) will be playing in the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas on New Year’s eve (yay!) but without star redshirt quarterback, and Texas native, Andrew Luck (not-so-yay). That could be bad news bears. It could also mean that Toby will step up like he always does and account for 900 all-purpose yards. We’ll see.
Politics: Barack says he wants to use TARP money to stimulate the economy and put on some public works projects; the GOP goes all crazy. We’ve already put aside the money…people are looking for employment…Wall Street is in better shape (or at least so it seems): I think the Dems are right to fight for this money to be used intelligently.
CNet compiles a nice list of free holiday MP3s across the Web: 29 of which come from Amazon, including some titles by Lady GaGa and others.
Lifehacker shares a nice iTunes alternative, something I’m always happy to read more about.
I find it hilarious and also smart for AT&T to offer its “Mark the Spot” app in the App Store (iTunes link). It’sfunny because it’s an admission by the carrier that their service is, well, somewhat lacking. And it’s smart because it makes it at the very least appear like they’ll do something about it. Plus it’s a nice little community crowd-sourcing project which I think is a smart play.
But here’s what I don’t get: how it’s supposed to work. Let’s say I’m walking through Manhattan and I get to the corner and — BOOM! — service drops out. The very important business call that I was on is now terminated. I am mad. But, at least AT&T hopes, I fire up the app to report the spot as problematic. EXCEPT WE JUST SAID I DON’T HAVE ANY SERVICE. So riddle me this: how does a location-based app for reporting service dead zones work? I could walk down the street until my little EDGE or 3G icon reappears, but by that point, the whole idea of a GPS-tagged submission is gone. It’s all somewhat funny to me, and unless I’m missing something, AT&T is either going to have lots of frustrated customers trying unsuccessfully to report spotty (get it?) service, or lots of dead zone tags from nearby-but-not-quite-right locations.
Finally, today was a big day at Google*. Two huge announcements of (1) real-time search and (2) Google Goggles.
For real-time search, it’s a fantastic feature and the implementation could not be better, IMHO. There is lots of (far better) coverage across the Web on this, but I think it’s great.
Goggles is also an interesting product, and its launch was kind of buried by in a number of other big mobile announcements. The fact that is basically has augmented reality is also really really cool. This video does the best job of quickly and clearly communicating what exactly it is:
**NB: Just to be clear, none of my comments on anything at Google relate in any way to my employer. I’m just a guy, writing about and commenting on tidbits I find across the Web. Nothing here is an endorsement or Company position. I know you probably know this, but I wanted to put it in writing.
Tags: amazon, andrew luck, at&t, augmented reality, barack obama, birther, CNet, comcast, el paso, google goggles, hitchens, itunes, lady gaga, lifehacker, mp3, nbc, palin, real-time search, sarah palin, stanford football, sun bowl, TARP, texas, toby for heisman, toby gerhart, wifi, YouTube