is a blog about design, technology and culture written by Khoi Vinh, and has been more or less continuously published since December 2000 in New York City. Khoi is currently Principal Designer at Adobe, Design Chair at Wildcard and co-founder of Kidpost. Previously, Khoi was co-founder and CEO of Mixel (acquired by Etsy, Inc.), Design Director of The New York Times Online, and co-founder of the design studio Behavior, LLC. He is the author of “Ordering Disorder: Grid Principles for Web Design,” and was named one of Fast Company’s “fifty most influential designers in America.” Khoi lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn with his wife and three children. Refer to the advertising and sponsorship page for inquiries.+
The Wall Street Journal tries to make sense of the intricate, often confounding wireless service options available from the major North American carriers with this interactive calculator/wizard thingy. I wanted to call this tool “simple” but nothing about wireless plans is simple, and one look at it would belie such a label. So maybe it’s better to call it “simplifying.”
As it happens, I recently made some changes to my wireless service. After having had basically the same family plan from AT&T for a number of years, I realized that their newest plans would actually save us money, and by calling them up and switching to the “Mobile Share Value” plan, I was able to shave off about $55 a month — consistent with what this calculator tells me. The new monthly bill is still more money than I’d be paying with T-Mobile though, again according to The Journal’s calculator; I’m tempted to switch but I’m quite leery of T-Mobile’s spottier coverage.
Relatedly, when my wife decided to upgrade to a new iPhone 5s (64 GB model) recently, we decided to opt for an unlocked and contract-free phone instead of a subsidized one. It hurt a bit to pay the additional $450 up front, but after having done the math, we realized we’d be saving about $150 over the life of the contract. Plus, the phone is unlocked from day one; having jumped through AT&T’s Kafkaesque rigamarole to unlock her previous phone, I’ve come to truly appreciate the value of a phone free of carrier restrictions. I’ll probably never buy a subsidized phone again.+