Thursday, October 30, 2014

Podcasting - Everyone Should Do It

I've been podcasting with a friend.  Almost there as far as posting an launches go.  Here is our latest episode.  We're looking to join iTunes and researching other networks to gain as much distribution as we can. 

It's just two guys talking about the day and week's top subjects.  I try to focus on various social apparatuses online affect issues in general and privacy.  Here is one about Ebola and drones (mp3).

Please feel free to let us know what you think.  We're pretty green and appreciate all manners of criticism (directed at my partner if you will).

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Mobile Payment: Question for MCX guys - What Happens When You Get Hacked And the Bad Guys Empty My Checking Account?

Every few weeks, you hear about this or that retailer getting hacked and millions of credit cards are stolen.  Okay, when that happens, we talk to our bank and change the numbers on the credit card or, worse, have charges reversed if we happen to be unlucky enough to have been a victim of credit card fraud. 

With the consumer-unfriendly CurrentC being developed by good folks at Walmart, Target, CVS, and a few others and slated for 2015, there is one question that has been bugging me beyond these retailers asking for very personal questions like social security numbers and sharing with each other our buying habits that has not been asked.

What happens when, not if, one or more of these retailers and "third parties" they will inevitably blame when the CurrentC system is hacked to our bank accounts?  Do we need new bank account numbers?  Change banks? 

And will will put the stolen money back in when they're emptied by these hackers?  Does anyone know? 

Sino-Russian Partnership: Don't Worry, Greed And Power Will Sink Them

China and Russia sitting under a tree.  Sure, a bit of hand-holding but I won't say there hasn't been any kisses if ever.  Bloomberg's post about Russia rushing into Chinese arms focused on what each get out of each other but you have to remember, if not for Putin's stupid adventure into the Ukraine and the resulting sanctions, this would never have happened.

And keep in mind that it isn't as if the two foes are suddenly friends.  They've got only each other left.  Put together a softening Chinese economy and a Russian recession, well, you can surmise just what might happen.  On top of that, it will make China's neighbors much more nervous and paranoid than ever before. 

Plus, as much as China will try to clamp down on brewing domestic unrest and foster nationalist sentiments and blame the US and Japan, its leadership is scared of its own people.  When the returns on this new Russian partnership doesn't work out, look for political upheaval in Beijing. By then, Putin might be gone and Russians looking back to better and more stable Western partners.

Putin's Moscow and Beijing might have similar corrupt systems of cronyism, it means eventually, pride and greed will eventually rear their ugly heads.  Distrust will return (it's unlikely that has gone away between the Chinese and Russians).

In the end, ordinary Russians will be the losers and China likely lose billions in the process. 

CurrencyC: The Mobile Payment System Supported by CVS Hacked Already

MCX, the retailer group that wants everything but your first-born from you, that is offering their own mobile payment system as an alternative to other forms of payment systems like NFC, is still months if not a whole year away from offering the dubious service.  The system, CurrenyC, is still in beta.  Neverthless, it's never too early to get hacked right?

That's exactly what happened when it informed beta testers and folks interested in the system that there was unauthorized access to their e-mails.  (Source:  Macrumors)

Given the bad press that CurrencyC is getting, I'm going to go ahead and make this prediction:  we're going to see some defections just ahead of the Christmas shopping season starts.

Mobile Payment: Retailers, Here's How To Have A Great Christmas This Year

With all the back and forth over NFC payment (I know there is a lot of attention on Apple Pay but it is more than that - it's NFC implementations like Google Wallet), here is how a retailer can do well this Christmas shopping season.  Open up a couple of checkouts just for shoppers who want to pay with the NFC-enabled mobile devices.

That's right.  It's that simple.  While many in the Apple camp like to boast about how wealthy the iPhone demographic is, Android users savvy enough to use Google Wallet probably are not doing too badly themselves.  In general, those who are likely to take up new tech features probably are smart and wealthier.  If I'm right, this is how retailers not beholden to the Merchant Customer Exchange that forbid its members from offering NFC payment options to potential customers can race ahead of the competition. 

Already, Android and iPhone fans are calling for an united front to boycott CVS and Rite Aid and there are dozens more companies that we can put the financial hurt on this Holidays season.  Savvy retailers who do offer NFC can make it easier for us and use this opportunity to capture our hard-earned money.

Offer us an exclusive checkout lane or two along with your deals, and we'd gladly spend our money at your stores.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Discovery of NFC Makes Sense: Perfect Use As a Wireless Secured Cash(less) Register

Source:  On Apple.

iFixit does a teardown of pretty much every Apple hardware that comes out.  And what they found surprised them but it makes sense for Apple to include it?  NFC in the new iPad Air 2.

Consider the importance of Apple Pay as a money printing scheme to pad Apple's Everest-like pile of cash, the iPad Air 2 and probably a future updated iPad mini sporting NFC makes it very important as a means for the tablets to serve as digital payment readers.

Yosemite's New Spotlight Features Are Awesome And Should Worry Search Guys

Here is a reference post from Appleinsider that is worth looking at on the new and improved Spotlight that comes with OS X 10.10, Yosemite.  I've been using it since it came out last week and I'm loving how fast and powerful it is.

In fact, it kinda made me wonder how inefficient I was before.

More at On Apple.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Rite Aid A Big Loser In Apple Pay Users If Reports Are True

There is a growing number of posts and tweets that Rite Aid as turned off a feature that allow Apple Pay to go through after initial tests on Monday demonstrated that Apple Pay works there.  No official reason has been provided but some suggests that this is because Rite Aid is support a rival payment system that probably give companies that back it, Rite Aid, Walmart, Best Buy, and others, more control over customer data and not having to share a small cut with credit card and banks.

Here's the thing.  There is a CVS right by my house.  Oh, a Walgreen too.  And where I jog, there are other places where  I know accept Apple Pay.  So, what do I if I've just got my iPhone 6 Plus with me and not my wallet (I usually carry $20 with me for emergencies when I'm walking about in my neighborhood) and I need a cold drink? 

Not Rite Aid I can tell you that. 

This is what I predict will happen in the next six months. Some Apple Pay (maybe Google Wallet) holdouts will capitulate, especially those who are facing stiff competition from the likes of Amazon (yeah, I'm talking about you, not-so-Best Buy) as cash-rich Apple users go places where their new favorite payment method is accepted. 

On top of that, retailers will be facing financial pressure either from Holidays shortfall or shareholders to accept Apple Pay from their savvy iPhone shoppers.  There are going to be some who are in denial and will continue to see their business go to rivals who do accept Apple Pay. 

Maybe it'll be a good idea to keep a running tab on who is doing well and who are not based on whether they are Apple Pay partners. 

Source:  Josh Hudnall.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Streaming: CBS Versus Hulu

While everyone is talking about HBO versus Netflix (not as much as I thought), the bigger battle is between CBS's new service verus Hulu.

Hulu has been around 2007. It's a join venture between Disney, NBC, and Fox to pull together various current season TV series, some older series, and an assortment of movies not really worth watching. The thing with Hulu is that many of the shows are also available on these three major broadacast stations, ABC, FOX, and NBC. Hulu provides a centralized hub for these videos and others.

Years ago, the blog chatters have been between Hulu and Netflix but they really target different markets with Netflix offering no current season videos but a vast library of older content, and a growing library of its own original series and movies.

With CBS now offering own CBS All Access for $5.99, the question we have to ask if its worth it? The short and quick answer is absolutely not. While it does offer many if its own content, it excludes many shows and sports like NFL and Big Bang Theory. Oh, and you're going to have to sit through commercials, just like you have to with Hulu. Such double dipping makes no sense.

And with $2 more, you can get Hulu for three times the content with three of the four major networks.

Furthermore, I'm rooting against services like CBS and Hulu. After all, much of the content they offer are already free if you're willing to jump from app to app to watch them. That's what I do now via my mobile devices. If I want to watch the Arrow, I'll use the CW app. The Blacklist on NBC, and Castle and Agents of Shield on the ABC app. In having to save myself $8 a month from having to subscribe to Hulu, it's well worth this first-world "hassle".

And just because you pay Hulu or CBS for access that are free on their their website, episodes are metered in that they are available for a few weeks at a time. Say you start on the Blacklist and watch the first two episodes and got busy. You come back to it a few weeks later, you suddenly find that not only are the first four episodes no longer available for streaming, you have only access to the latest three or four episodes. It makes no sense for paid service to work this way.

Furthermore, if you really want to stream live content, set up a Slingbox and stream them from your tablets.

And reason I would like to see CBS fail is this: consider having to pay $24 for free over-the-air content. And then what happens if CNN, ESPN, or TNT wish to offer their own content? $10 to $15 a channel? It then starts to add up.

I'm hoping eventually, the studios will realize bringing the "cable" model on their own and sell direct to users will not work. They'll have to realize that they cannot charge more just because they are standalone services and not bundled.

Only time will tell but if CBS's new scheme works out. My spidey-sense is tell me it won't.

Sent from my iPad

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Mobile: HBO To Offer Standalone Service for Cordcutters! We Can Thank Netflix For This

Source: USA Today.

No doubt by now, you know that HBO, a service of Time Warner, is only available with a cable or sat TV sub. What you should know by now is that HBO will be offered as a standalone service san the cable baggage in 2015. That means you'll probably pay a disproportionate amount for HBO to stream on your Apple TV, Chrome dongle, or Roku. It means maybe pay anywhere from $15-20 for the service but you won't have to shell out $100 for a bunch of stuff you don't want to watch.

A couple of things you'll want to note going foward:

First, We can thank Netflix. Yeah, without it, not only will we not get a bunch of back catalog of TV and movies for dirt cheap but also really get things moving along with respect to competition for your eye balls and wallet.

Second, look for other studios to monetize their services once HBO has established their presence on non-traditional platforms. Looking for a comedy channel with just old Friends episodes for $2? Sure? I'd pay $5 for an all The Simpsons and Fox animated services access.

Lastly, bundles will come once more channels are offered to cord-cutters. It'll be offered with greater flexibility than what cable guys are now offering. And it'll completely up-end how we watch TV.

Now, $15-20 might be a lot for just one "channel" right? I predict that HBO might offer tiered services. For older stuff, maybe it'll be around $10 and current shows will jump up to $15 or more. And maybe even $20 if you want to not just stream from your Apple TV but also tablet. This would allow Time Warner to satisfy cable partners and give consumers more choices. Of course, you can already get older HBO content if you have Amazon Prime. But that's $100 a year.

The question now is when in 2015? January 1st? March? Summer? Fall? What's your time?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, October 13, 2014

What Does a MJ Impersonator and A Mormon Missionary Have In Common?

Michael Jackson impersonator and a Mormon missionary have this in common.  Must watch.  I love this after the previous heart-breaking post.

Both were equally impressive but I love the Moonwalk at the end!

Source:  ABC Los Angeles.

Social: This Person Has To Die

I supposed the death penalty for child abusers like this person who is supposed to be a caretaker and protector.  Now, I know I'm probably on the fringe here but I also blame the parents who have children but can't raise them and put their care in the hands of strangers who really are in it for the money.  

Most nannies or babysitters are not Mary Poppins.  

Sunday, October 12, 2014

CDC On Border Closures And Flight Bans

According to the director of CDC, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Thomas Frieden, banning flights and closing off borders would not help contain the current Ebola outbreak and could end up driving those infected underground and lie about their conditions.  Furthermore, it could further create complications like logistical problems for transportation of aids and supplies.  

Ebola can be contained but it requires proper education and training of the medical staff all over the world.  

A good twitter to follow at this time is also the CDC director's Twitter account as are the CDC accounts (CDCCDC Emergency). I have found the general #Ebola stream on Twitter is filled with nonsense and does not help when it comes to getting accurate information.

I'm glad the CDC is coming forth quickly with new information.  It would put to bed any rumors and unfounded innuendoes and provide up-to-date information for all.   

Ebola: Second Patient Contracted Ebola

According to CDC, a breach in protocol resulted in a nurse who was treating the index patient, Thomas Eric Duncan.  The CDC is making sure that infected will get the best care and CDC team is making sure others who have had contact with her are isolated.

The only way you can contract Ebola is with direct contact with the bodily fluid of an infected.  

The key like I've always said regarding Ebola, other hemorrhagic fevers, or bacterial outbreaks is education, doing everything to avoid contamination or the infected, and common sense.

It is possible at this time there could be additional infection cases due to the same nature of beach in protocol that resulted in the nurse being infected.

Source:  Fox News.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Mobile: Congress Is Pro-iPhone (Not So Much Android) But What About Its Policies?

Source: The Hill.

According The Hill,  of 108 members of Congress who have responded to The Hill's survey, 71% and 95% of them uses the iPhone and iPad respective.  Of the lot, 9% uses Android and Blackberry is alive and kicking with 28%.

While it's not surprising that Apple has also won the heart and minds of Congress when it comes to their choice of mobile devices, the high number of respondents who use the iPhone is questionable only because it's likely Apple fans in Congress are more likely and willing to turn in the survey.

For instance when Tim Cook was dragged in front of Congress to answer questions relating to Apple legally paying all the taxes it is obligated to, Senator Claire McCaskill (Democrat, Missouri) unabashedly declared her undying love for Apple.  When members of Congress questioned Google executives, no one ever made similar declaration or, at the very least, acknowledge how great Google's search results are.

What's of interest would be the breakdown of operating systems, Chrome OS, Linux, OS X, and Windows that are used by congressional staffers.  In the show The West Wing, White House operatives could often be seen with a Powerbook sitting on their desks.

Interestingly, their love of Apple only goes so far.  So far, the Obama administration has not shown Cupertino much love nor has Democratic senators who use iPhones, iPads, and Macs.  It goes to show just how powerful traditionally based political bases still are.

In recent years, however, tech companies like Apple and Google that have shied away from big lobbying operations in Washington has started beefing up their presence in DC.  It's rather sad that these companies, instead of investing these millions in R&D, are forced to spend them on lawyers and lining the pockets of politicians.

Snowden: Still A Traitor But His Privacy Views Are Correct

"Nothing to hide" is something many including myself have said when it comes to government snooping around.  Edward Snowden, who I do consider to be a traitor to his country, got my attention in this  New Yorker interview (Techcrunch) with respect to privacy.  He said that if you rationalize about how you have nothing to hide, then you are effectively saying you don't have that right or are will to give it up.  

I agree.  However, my beef is mostly with commercial services that continue to move the goal posts for privacy and double-speak about how they value ours when its their bottom-line that they are more concerned about.  However, for the most part, I use Google, Twitter, or Facebook knowing certain information that I would be giving up.

It's an interesting read and the video might be worth watching.  At the very least, when he spoke about not using Dropbox, I did learn about SpiderOak and I'm definitely going to be looking into it.  But you have to wonder about any online service and how effective they truly are in protecting their customers' privacy, it's the cloud, you know?

Friday, October 10, 2014

Halloween: I Hate Clowns (Social)

Coulrophobia is the fear of clowns.  Look through the citations and do a simple search on Google will result in numerous articles explaining who clowns are almost universally feared by adults and children alike.  And with the day getting shorter, colder weather, and Halloween season now upon the US, what better time to spook the public and engage its imagination than scary killer-clowns.  After all, vampires and werewolves are embraced as sex objects and zombies are nothing to fear as long as  one is a good shot and is fit enough to outrun them.  

So, in an attempt to gain notoriety and social media creds, idiots in Bakersfield, California are dressing up as clowns and made a point to look as sadistic and menacing as possible.  It’s all fun and games unless someone is seriously hurt or actually killed as a result of such pranks.  

This all started in Wasco, California where a husband and wife team began taking pictures of the clown (presumably the husband) as an photography project.  As a result of the weird and not quite normal nature of a scary clown walking about town, others have taken to duplicate the experience.  

Now in Bakersfield, multiple sightings of copycat clowns have been reported resulting in the arrest of one teenage clown.  To the teens and bored individuals who perpetrated these pranks, being able to post pics and stories onto Instagram or Twitter might be fun, law enforcement in Bakersfield did not find it amusing. 

In all likelihood, more reports of clowns or other costumed individuals will be reported leading up to the 31st, just know that fear of clowns is rational and nothing to be ashamed of.

Smart Move: Ebola Funding Approved

After dropping objections from Republicans, $750 million of the $1 billion in funding requested by the Obama administration has been approved, allowing the Pentagon reprogramming the funds to fight the deadly disease in West Africa rather than the hospital beds of America.

However, the GOP still seem unsure about the White House's long-term plan to combat the hemorrhagic fever that has killed more than 4,000 worldwide and resulted in the first US case. 

Source: Politico.

Apple Should Prepare to Leave China (There Is Still Time To Execute Such A Plan)

At first glance, you might think that the title of this article is a clickbait considering that China is the second biggest economy in the w...