Karma Is Pay-As-You-Go Data Service That Rewards Sharing

Karma data service rewards users for sharingFrequent travelers who like to stay connected while on the road will want to take note of this story. A company called Karma has launched a new pay-as-you-go data service that provides access to a high-speed 4G data network for laptops, tablets, smartphones and other devices. This isn’t exactly a new concept of course, but what separates Karma from the rest of the crowd is their social-sharing options that allow you, and those who connect to your Wi-Fi hotspot, to earn free data.

The concept is a simple one. New users visit the Karma website and purchase their own personal hotspot for just $79. The hotspot comes with 1GB of data to start you off, which is a solid amount provided you don’t stream movies from Netflix or listen to Pandora constantly. Each additional gigabyte of data will set you back $14, which is fairly competitive with the likes of Verizon and AT&T. But the data plans from those companies aren’t pay-as-you-go, which means if you don’t use up your data at the end of the month, it goes away and you automatically get charged for more. With Karma, you keep your data until it runs out, then you simply buy more as needed.

But Karma users also get the opportunity to earn free data just by being nice to those around them. The hotspot allows you to connect up to eight devices, so when you invite friends, family or strangers at the airport to connect to the service through your hotspot, you’ll both earn 100MB of free data. The more you share, the more data you get. That is your reward for having good data Karma with those around you.
The hotspot has a built-in battery that is good for 6-8 hours and can be charged via USB to keep you going as long as you need. It also weighs just 2.1 ounces, which means you’ll barely know you have it with you when traveling.

The Karma service provides coverage in more than 80 cities across the U.S. using Clearwire’s 4G WiMax network. It can provide connections at up to 6 Megabits per second, which is generally plenty fast for checking email, surfing the web, or even uploading photos to Facebook. It isn’t as fast as Verizon or AT&T’s LTE service, which is often twice that speed or more, but again, it is tough to beat Karma on costs, particularly if you don’t use a lot of mobile data. The service is also offered without a contract, giving you the option to discontinue using it at any time.

Karma’s approach to mobile data is quite an intriguing concept. I’ve used Clearwire’s network in the past and it provides surprisingly strong coverage in a lot of places. It is also consistently fast, although it doesn’t come close to the (more expensive) LTE service that I use now. But considering how affordable it is and the fact that there are no monthly fees, it is tough to beat for the traveler who only needs to connect from time to time. Add in the ability to share with others, something that happens frequently anyway, to earn free data, and you have a service that could be very popular.

[Photo credit: Karma Mobility, Inc.]

Yellowstone visitors provoke bison, pay price

Earlier this week, it was reported by a number of sources, including the National Park Service themselves, that an unnamed woman and her friend were attacked by a bison in Yellowstone National Park. The story was that the pair were passing through a parking lot near Old Faithful when they wandered too close to a bison, who became agitated and attacked, slamming into the woman and sending her soaring end-over-end into the air. The woman and her friend, we were told, were lucky to walk away with minor injuries. But, as often is the case with these kinds of stories, there is more here than meets the eye.

It turns out that the woman in the story is 49-year old Kathy Hayes of Utah, and the man accompanying her was her brother-in-law. The two did indeed come across a bison, as the original tale went, but once the full video was released, it told another side of the story.

As you can see below in the video that comes our way courtesy of CNN, Hayes and her companion did spot a bison in the parking lot, and then proceeded to approach it on their own, getting as close as 10 yards. Park regulations prohibit visitors from coming within 25 yards of bison or elk for obvious reasons. (FYI: Safe distance for a bear or wolf is 100 yards.) While playing the video, watch very closely. On one of the close-ups of the bison, you can see that someone throws a stick at the animal, striking it in the hind quarters, which immediately sends it into an agitated state. The beast then turns on the two humans invading its turf, and the video becomes a mix of the Blair Witch Project meets Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom as Hayes scrambles to get out of the way while still holding the camera, which dutifully goes on recording the proceedings.

After tossing her into the air like a rag doll, the bison does wander off and leaves Hayes and her companion alone. She ended up suffering just some severe bumps and bruises, but is honestly lucky to have come away alive. Her brother-in-law wasn’t quite so lucky however, as he ended up suffering a broken shoulder, as well as injuries to his hand and foot, but as the park service press release stated “He was not injured by the bison.” In other words, he hurt himself while scrambling to get out of the way of the creature he provoked.

Where I come from, that’s known as Karma.

[Photo credit: J. Schmidt]