- Unhappy with your cell-phone provider? Just be glad you're not living in St. Louis or Chicago and using US Cellular. They're selling their operations in those markets to Sprint, which means all of the customers will need to buy new phones. Oh, and Sprint is itself in the middle of a takeover bidding war between Dish Network and Softbank, as it loses half a million customers every three months.
- Can we collect sales taxes online without squishing small businesses? Probably not. In the corner of small retailers: eBay, which obviously has a vested interest in small companies selling small volumes online without big overhead. Amazon, on the other hand, is being forced to collect sales taxes in more and more states as it expands its physical presence, and thus wants everyone else to have to collect them, too. It's understandable that state and local governments want retailers to collect those taxes for them -- it's obviously taking a meaningful bite out of their budgeted revenues. But anyone who's had to deal with government paperwork as a retailer or small business knows that the thought of managing sales-tax collection and distribution for 9,600 different taxing districts is going to be just plain impossible for any seller without a large staff. That means big companies will have a built-in, government-regulated advantage over smaller sellers. That, in effect, is crony capitalism.
- Do you have a plan for your passwords in case you get hit by a bus? If not, make one. All it takes is a sheet of paper and a safe hiding place. You don't even have to make up the sheet of paper.
- Should we be excited that Facebook is building a data center in Altoona? Well, it might give us a little boost in our technology street cred, but with 31 jobs, it's not exactly going to turn this into the Bay Area. And if it requires $18 million in taxpayer-funded incentive packages to build, then we should perhaps show some restraint in our celebration.
- Microsoft thinks privacy expectations give it an edge over Google. Maybe. But it may also be too late for anyone to make privacy issues a true selling point; people in many case have just given up altogether and give away all of their personal information to anyone who comes asking for it.