January 13, 2006

SunRocket Internet Phone Service

As part of my not terribly cost-effective obsession with adding two or three dollars per day to my Google Ads revenue by somehow tricking Google into displaying ads that my readers might actually find appealing to click on, I have been trying to think of some heavily advertised product to mention that I've bought and can recommend. Unfortunately, the vicious circle is that I don't have much money to spend on new gadgets so I can't make much ad revenue recommending them. And I'm too old and cranky to like stuff that is new and cool anyway.

My wife, however, has pointed out that six months ago she signed us up for the SunRocket Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) service, and that has been a big moneysaver for us. She is so good at finding low cost telephone service providers that she should do telecom research for a Wall Street short seller. Two of the long distance companies we signed up with charged so little that they went Chapter 11 within a couple of years.

With SunRocket, for merely $200 per year you get unlimited long distance and local phone calls. And that $200 doesn't come with all those taxes that get larded onto normal phone bills. It's just a flat $200. Plus, you get most of the little services like caller ID that phone companies charge a few bucks per month for each. And we got to keep our old home phone number.

Sound quality is okay, but not quite as good as landlines. We get our high-speed Internet from the cable TV company (even though we don't have cable TV), Adelphia, which was bought by Time-Warner. It hasn't been all that reliable, which means that when the Internet goes down, so goes your local and long distance telephone service, including 911. But we have cell-phones from another provider, so they provide a back-up.

In summary, switching to SunRocket VOIP saved us enough money to get three more cell phone accounts.

By the way, the more general problem with Google Ads is that it's too driven by whatever I wrote about yesterday. If I write about anti-ch*l*st*r*l drugs, then there are a dozen ads dealing with ch*l*st*r*l. Instead, it should be accumulating data over the long term about the typical iSteve reader (brilliant, good-looking, nice-smelling, kind to animals, etc.) and providing ads of interest to my base audience.

A reader adds:

I know you've written about Microsoft's great faith in, and heavy reliance on, informal oral IQ tests, but I wasn't sure whether you'd heard that this is also -- and maybe more -- true at Google. Sitting in my apartment wondering why Google stock is worth so much, I googled "how google makes money," and came across a transcript from "60 Minutes."

The report didn't really answer my question (I just can't believe Google makes that much from its ads), but it did contain some very interesting information on the company's hiring practices.

"Google uses aptitude tests, which it has even placed in technical magazines, hoping some really big brains would tackle the hardest problems."

So instead of relying solely on elite schools to filter the applicant pool, as law firms and investment banks do, Google wants to find all the tech geeks, wherever they are, who can mentally rotate 23-sided, multi-colored objects.

On the one hand, it's much easier for a tech company than for law firms or banks to rely on sheer IQ. Techies are fairly cloistered from direct human interaction, both inside and outside the office, so they don't need great social skills or an attractive, put-together appearance. And they don't really even need the articulate speech and polished writing required of most white-collar professionals. Being good at computer stuff is simply about raw abstract thinking power.

On the other hand, it can be dangerous to bring in lots of these super-IQ folks, especially the socially challenged ones. They don't have the mortgage, kids, private schools for the kids, and general concern about how the community perceives them that keep the average white-collar professional in check. Techies are almost always very curious people. And the devious ones have the power to cause a ton of damage -- some of the brightest techies are hackers.

(Of course, we should be glad that direct human interaction, language skills, and trust matter a lot in other white-collar jobs -- that is what has kept them from being outsourced as fast as the tech jobs.)

Obviously Google is well aware of all this.

"Score well on the test, and you might get a job interview. And then another and another. One recent hire had 14[!] interviews before getting the job - and that was in the public relations department."

"[Co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page] make every major decision together, and personally approve the hiring of nearly every new employee."

I wonder how long it will be until the pressure builds and the company announces a massive, billion-dollar "Google Diversity Scholars" program. (Google, like most Silicon Valley companies, is doubtless FAR more diverse than the media and most other professions, but of course not in the "right" ways.)

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

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