My Life with the HTC EVO

The HTC EVO 4G is not the best Android mobile phone out there but Sprint is the only carrier that gets reception at my house. Six months ago I began a rather extensive trial of a few different phones and carriers and balked at the EVO after a 30-day trial.

Certainly Verizon would have service in my area, everybody raves about VZW and after all it’s been 5 years since I last did my trials and found that I live in a cell service black hole, in spite of living roughly 3 miles from downtown LA and just over the hill from Dodger Stadium. This was not the case. Verizon service was equally as non-existent for voice calls as was AT&T. The difference being that AT&T offered me a femtocell signal booster (the 3G Microcell) for free whereas Verizon wanted me to pay $250 for their extender. In fact, when I talked to their technical department, I learned that my area is a known trouble zone and that NO TOWER upgrades were scheduled — it would be at least two years before there was any [better] service.

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10 Best Data Visualization Projects of 2010

Borrowed from one of my fave sites, flowingdata.com

tourists in sf

10. Asteroid Discovery

Scott Manley of the Armagh Observatory visualized 30 years of asteroid discoveries. It’s a straightforward animation that shows planets and asteroids orbiting the sun, with waves of twinkles as discoveries are made. I especially liked the contrast between human and automated discoveries.

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Groupon Gets Charitable with Kiva, DonorsChoose

Groupon Kiva Donors Choose charity donate holiday

$15 for $25 worth of microloan credit to help global entrepreneurs on Kiva.org.”

My first thought upon seeing this was: who pays the other $10? The [not-so] small print below today’s Groupon says that it’s paid for by Groupon (and sponsors). Up to $500,000 of the $800 million to $2 billion in revenues the Chicago-based startup will reportedly take in this year.

That’s a hefty write-off donation for most, and possibly a perk for some Groupon sponsors, and a nice, lucky penny pitched into the pond by a company that allegedly turned down a $6 billion or so buyout offer from Google earlier this month.

Billions in revenue. Huge numbers. It’s important to note how individuals and corporations choose to spend their philanthropic capital and I really like the way Groupon does it here: Empowering regular people to give by subsidizing our donations. I’m sure Groupon wishes it could boast about the kind of repeat transactions that a Kiva.org — where the average user has made 6.5 loans — and what better way to grow it’s community during the holiday giving season by encouraging the habit of giving (or lending) while otherwise luring subscribers to habitually consume on first site of bargain.

Last month, a Kiva.org Groupon raised lead to $100,000 in microloans and Oprah Winfrey promoted Kiva to her audience (for her part, Winfrey was the most charitable celebrity of 2009 with $40 million in donations to various charities, according to The Giving Back Fund. Today’s Kiva Groupon was trumped by a DonorsChoose coupon, which was 60 percent subsidized by the Pershing Square Foundation ($10 for $25). Last May, Groupon and Pershing Square teamed up with DonorsChoose to raise $1 million in funds for public school classrooms in need.

Last week, 17 billionaires, including Steve Case, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill and Melinda Gates, Warren Buffet, Michael Bloomberg and Carl Icahn, announced their intention to give the majority of their wealth to charity — the Giving Pledge.

In an age where it’s so easy to set examples — for better and worse — it’s comforting to see more and more bold acts of goodwill.

I’m a repeat Kiva lender. Are you?

RIP Ron Santo, Cubs Legend

I’d often wince at the thought of Ron Santo leaving us in the middle of a Cubs Mets game at New York, in one of the late innings when Carlos Marmol or [fill-in-the-blank] inevitably loads the basis before retiring the side and saving the game.

Obviously this would not be an ideal situation and certainly was not what I hoped for. But it came as quite a disappointment when I heard, early this morning, that Santo passed from complications from a recurrence of bladder cancer at age 70.

I really thought he’d be around to see the Cubs finally win it all. Of course I imagine a Cubs championship as a likelihood every spring, only to have my heartbroken by August and inevitably lose interest in baseball altogether by the time the Wrigley Field ivy starts turning colors. But there were definitely a few seasons over the past decade in which I had a pretty-to-really good feeling that it was going to happen.

Santo raised more than $50 million for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund through his annual Walk for the Cure and other charitable activities. Every time a Cubs player was issued a base on balls, Santo took the opportunity to advocate for JDRF, thanks to a partnership in which Walgreens donated $100 to JDRF for every Cubs walk.

So let’s show some appreciation and thanks to #10, one of the greatest Cubs of all time, and see if we can raise 10 grand for JDRF in the name of Ron Santo over the next ten days. It’s as simple as filling in the box below or you can visit: http://www.razoo.com/story/Donate-To-Jdrf-In-Memory-Of-Ron-Santo.

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Must See: Pink Floyd’s The Wall Performed Live

Like many others, I shrugged off the idea of another Roger Waters tour, bringing the music of Pink Floyd into arenas nationwide sans David Gilmour. As much as Floyd meant to me in my high school years, I haven’t listened to their music on my own volition for at least a dozen years. It would be nice to hear an album that I had loved straight through in concert.

Then I heard about how full bore Waters was going with the production — recreating the spectacle of The Wall on its 30th anniversary and then some — on this Sound Opinions podcast in October. Yeah, I can dig it.

Only top top bands with a serious legacy can truly demand $250 and up for a top ticket and still manage to fill arenas nationwide (often for multi-night runs). But there sure as hell better be some spectacular video / light show / side show to go along with the tired greatest hits nonsense. Regardless, Waters will have absolutely no reason to work again after galavanting around the world for 10 months on the strength of his 30-year old magnum opus. Look for his name near the top of the next weekly Pollstar Top 20 Concerts list.

In this case there was amazing video — the wall featured a steady stream of motion graphics and video, many from the original The Wall, projected onto a huge wall — about 240 feet wide and 33 feet tall. The story of The Wall holds up very well, all the way to The Trial, even if it can get a little tiresome looking at Waters parading in front of the wall alone in love with himself as the lead character in the story as his presumed alter ego, Pink Floyd. A 12-piece band including horns and a childrens choir comprised of kids from the Heart of Los Angeles after-school program took the stage for the cockneyed refrain on “Another Brick in the Wall” and probably the most elaborate and crisp sound I’ve heard in an arena. There were monster speakers in teh back of the house and from the floor, you could literally feel the helicopters closing in from all sides at some points. Holiday season — maybe I was feeling sentimental, but I got major chills a few times.

I definitely recommend seeing this show if you can, tickets were going for below face value for the Staples Center (I got lucky and was whisked in on a friend’s last-minute extra ticket, thanks Gretchen!). The remaining U.S. tour dates are listed below along with a clip from “Hey You” which opened up the second part of the show from behind The Wall.

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