Government approves regrowth of Ma Bell

Long ago (i.e. 1984), the US Federal government decided that ol’ Ma Bell was too big fer her britches. So, as typically happens when a company that is not Microsoft grows too big, the government forced her to split in to many pieces. Protection of the consumer, preventing monopolies, and all the stuff. That left America with AT&T and around half a dozen “smaller” local exchange carriers, like Southwestern Bell and Pacific Bell. Over time, local phone service becomes more important that long-distance service, and the baby bells outgrow AT&T. Now, after many mergers and splits among various parts of various phone providers, we find Southwestern Bell acquiring parts of several of the old baby bells plus AT&T’s old cell service (called AT&T wireless before being bought out by Cingular) via purchase of Cingular Wireless.

All the details are confusing beyond words, but Engadget has a partial breakout to help confuse you more. Beyond the end of that breakout, we now find (via Engadget) that BellSouth is buying AT&T (which was just recently approved) to again decrease the telecom competition space.

Now I wonder how long it will be before the government steps in and breaks up these new monoliths?

[tags]Bellsouth buys AT&T, The regrowth of Ma Bell in duality[/tags]

Skype to charge in 2007

Word from TechCrunch is Skype will be charging for usage in 2007.

Beginning in 2007, SkypeOut calls will no longer be free within the US and Canada. The company announced on Wednesday that they would start to charge a yearly fee to call from Skype to any mobile or land-line phone. Calls from PC to PC will remain free.

Unlimited yearly calling will cost $29.95. If you purchase the plan before January 31, 2007, it will only cost $14.95. Without an unlimited plan, users can pay 2.1 cents per minute to calls within the U.S. and Canada, which is the same as the rate for international calls.

I don’t use Skype, but man I sure know a lot of folks that do. I believe even my wife uses it. And I have been thinking about getting a USB Skype phone just to make it easier to use if I decide to hop on the bandwagon.

[tags]Skype to charge in 2007[/tags]

Next-gen console sales

So, here we are in the new year and just weeks past the launch of the next-gen systems PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii. For gamers and those who care about the business side of the console war, the site VG Charts has the sales numbers you want to see.

Check the numbers. In less than 2 months Nintendo has sold nearly 45% the number of consoles that Microsoft has sold since launching the Xbox360 late last year. I believe this bodes well for Nintendo. Sony trails both companies by, well, a lot. But Sony has admitted having manufacturing issues initially, and hopefully those have been resolved now as blue-ray lasers become more available.

Just for kicks, you can check out the portable systems chart while at VG Charts. It’s on the same page, and shows the DS up on the PSP about 35.6 million to 19.1 million. Given the lead Nintendo had, it’s not surprising to see the DS in the lead by a good chunk. But I think those numbers show that this round isn’t as easily won by Nintendo as past hand-held competitions have been.

[tags]Next-gen console sales numbers[/tags]

New Year’s resolutions

It’s that time of year again. Time to make a list of promises to yourself that you won’t keep more than a few days or a few weeks into the new year. What are your resolutions for the year?

I have made the same promises every year for more than 10 years now. So far, I think I’m doing a pretty good job maintaining my resolutions.

  1. Be less tolerant of others
  2. Speak my mind more freely
  3. Point out flaws in others when in situations where they cannot point out my flaws

I have to admit – that third one is a new addition. Previously, I only kept to two resolutions. I’m also going to try to do the whole working out more and eating less thing, but given my lack of willpower on those fronts, I’m not resolving to do them so much as thinking about trying to do them.

[tags]New year’s resolutions, Can you keep your promises better than I can keep mine?[/tags]