Friday, July 31, 2015

Climate: Living In A Heat Index of 165 And Yes, I hate Summers

Source:  Washington Post.

It's been an uncomfortable week here in LA.  It's 90 with a 34% humidity.  Not as bad as yesterday but for someone who feels uncomfortable with any temperature above 68 F, it's bad.  I supposed I should be greatful I don't live Iran where the temperature is 115 F and a dew point of 90 (ours is 58) which create an off the scale heat index of 165.  Ours at the time of this writing is 98 F (36.7 C).

So, how bad it is to fee like that?  The heat index measure how our bodies fare under the temperature and humidity.  There is a Heat Index table that goes up to 137 F.  So, to get to 165, it has to be a combination of extraordinary conditions of heat and humidity.  See, on a hot dry day, your body can perspire to cool off.  On hot humid days, you cannot cool your body as effectively.  And the heat index is a measure of how your body would feel.

From NOAA.

So, for the 165 F in Iran, we're talking about a temperature of 115 F and humidity of 90.  A bad combination that would fry anyone if you're not careful.  In fact, NOAA indicated on its website that any area without a number is just a bad, bad environment to be in.  So, asn you can imagine, air conditioners are a must in the Middle East. 

This is mostly a mobile blog and you'll notice that I regularly complain about battery life, how Apple should stop making the iPhone thinner and just stick in a bigger battery, and related power issues.  Well, heat is a close second.  Yeah, at the risk of making a lot of readers upset, well, I hate summers.  There, I said it.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Social: Humanity Has A Long Way To Go - Human Sacrifice

Here is just another reminder that we have a long way to go.  A Nepalese man sacrificed a boy to save his own ailing son.  By sacrificing a boy that the man and his relatives brutally murdered, the act would heal his own.  Or so the local priest told him.

Here we are, folks.  Twenty-first century.  We have conflicts and other problems around the world that remind us that we have a long way to go to becoming...what?  Civilized?

So, let me pose this question.  Are we really civilized? 

Source:  CNN.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Apple Car May Take On Nexus-Style Design by Working with BMW's i3 as Its First iCar

Here is a rumor that I find interesting enough that to speculate on what Apple's auto plans may be.  Supposed Apple isn't quite ready to build a car on its own or not in the time frame that it wants to push out an Apple car.  It would have to find a partner.  In this rumor (9to5Mac), Apple may be in talks with BMW (or had discussions) to use the i3 (wiki) as the basis for its own car. 

It's anyone's guess why Apple is talking to BMW and only a tell-all-book about Tim Cook, Jony Ives, or just the iCar in 2020 will answer that question and it may not even be definitive, suppose Apple is not build its car right away.  Supposed it only wants to showcase its own designs and technology in an existing car like the i3 for the world to see - this is an Apple designed car. 

And it is willing to work with different brands, perhaps Mercedes, Audi, Porsche, or any other luxury brand cars to co-develop showcase electric vehicles not unlike how Google is using the Nexus devices to showcase its Android OS.  And perhaps, years later, Apple may eventually unveil a car wholly designed by its team without outside help.

Now, it would not be like the Motorola ROKR, the first "i" phone that had a flaw iPod support thich later gave way to the iPhone.  While Steve Jobs hated that monstrocity, Apple will put it 110% of its effort into cars it works on with other brands and they'll love them as much as if they had developed them themselves.  It will give Apple the ability to dip their toes into the auto industry without a full plunge, learn from the mistakes and then develop the iCar much later.  Of course, such partnerships with car companies will still exist even if Apple does end up selling its own car because Apple is not going to be able to release line after line of cars immediately.  It would take years if not decades.  Look at how long Telsa has expanded to a second model, the Model X, after the Model S.  The Model X is still no on the road.

Why would an auto company be interested in working with Apple?  Well, it is Apple after all.  That is a good enough reason.  Some companies will not want to work with Apple for obvious reasons.  They are doing well on their own and may not be keen on giving up control to some aspects of the design to another company even if it is Apple.  And Apple will likely have draconian terms that they'll want auto partners to adhere too.  It's like that it will be a bit flexible in trying to get BMW onboard but that is about it.  Apple will likely be willing to share some information with auto companies. For instance, like battery technology. 

In the long term, even if Apple end up parting ways with auto companies and end up going at it alone, it is better for them to have had the experience of working with Apple than not.  This is one instance where if an auto executive said "the phone or PC guys are not just gonna waltz in here and make a car that people will want to buy", most including Apple friendly media and blogs will likely agree. 

Apple does have a long roadmap for its involvement in the auto industry.  There are some ideal routes that it wants to follow but there are also twists and turns that are drawn out depending on market and economic conditions.  This includes a turn that takes into the account of Apple even not getting into this market at all if it cannot build a car that is better than what is already out on the road or it is unable to make money on it. 

But a Nexus model for Apple's cars in the first few years is not a bad plan at all.  The auto industry is a competitive market but it is also one where many companies also cooperate with one another to source parts or partner in other ways.  So, if this rumor is true, we may be looking at an Apple-BMW electric car on the road sooner than expected.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Mobile: Apple Watch Owns 75% of Smart Watch Market Means Not Many Android Users Use Wearbles

There is a report out today suggesting the Apple Watch commands 75% of the market.  And without Apple provide real sales numbers, no one knows for sure what its share of the market is.  However, even if Apple Watch share isn't really 75%, maybe say 60%, it does mean that a larger percentage of iPhone users are getting into the mobile wearable experience than Android users are.

And we know this because in terms of units sold, Android still dominate the market - between 75% to 80%.  You'd think if same percentage of Android users buy a compatible Android Wear device, they it would be Android Wear commanding 75% of the market instead of the Apple Watch.

There could be a couple of reasons why that is the case.  Early Android watch experiences were too raw and ahead of the time - most were not sanctioned by Google if anyone. Folks lik Samsung really jumped the gun thinking that be going to the market before its competitors, it could claim not only to be the first among its competitors including Apple and Motorola but ahead start on a large scape adoption.  That the early Galaxy watches were bulky and not as stylish as the ones on the market did not help.  Also, the features and UI appeared inelegant.  Essentially, Samsung ported the interface from the phone into a smaller screen.  In its defense, that was a natural thing to do.  As we know, Apple went with a different direction with their watch UI.

One other reason that affects Android wearable sales as well as Apple Watch is that missing killer apps or features that seem to be missing.  Notifications via watches regardless of any platform is nice but not a necessity.  This goes for Pebbles as well.  Again, the same can be said of being able to answer calls or returning messages.  Nice but not a dealbreaker.  So what are the must-have features?  That is perhaps what the market is largely waiting for.  It may be the case that as new features are added over the years, it will reach a point when having a weable device becomes indispensible. 

For instance, perhaps the wearabe devices in five years' time may provide us with more pertinent data about the user's surroundings and him- or herself help him or her make better decisions about routes, what to wear, and health-related informations.

Whatever the reasons are that users have yet to buy into wearables, deveopers and hardware designers have their work cut out for them.  As far as mobile is concerned, there is much more innovation in the phone market.  It's likely that even as the wearable market is trying to find its footing, its growth will depend on the phones are they paired with as well. 

Trump Is Doing Well Because He's A Reaity TV Candidate And He'll Go All The Way To November No Matter What

Donald Trump is doing well and it remains to be seen just how far he'll go.  Most do not think the Republicans are insane enough to let him go far enough to win the GOP nomination or even come close to doing it.  However, he seems to be doing quite well despite saying and doing things that would have knock other politicians out of the race by now.  Can you imagine Bush or Walker saying what Trump has been saying and somehow win their party's nomination.  It works for Trump because he's the type of candidate that a TV writer might come up with.  And Trump appears to be following that script or something like it and it is working so far.

Many of us want a POTUS like Jeb Bartlett from The West Wing.  Or a kickass one that Harrison Ford played on Air Force One or even Jack Ryan from The Tom Clancy books.  Each of us has an ideal president who lives in our minds or on the screens.  It's why the real ones that we send to the White House continue to disappoint us term after term to some degree or another.  

Trump might be some people's ideal candidate and president but for most of us, not so much.  However, with today's media as it is and his experience as a reality TV billionaire who may or may not be work as much as he like us to believe, he knows exactly how to play the media by saying and doing things that such up all the oxygen in the room, leaving the rest of the field the only option available to them to get any kind of attention:  that is by attaching themselves to Trump and that is usually picking a Twitter fight with him.  

The current political and media atmosphere is ideal for Trump.  Bashing illegal immigration is red meat for those on the right and a no-brainer subject for him to use to launch his campaign. And having establishment GOP like former GOP nominee John McCain coming at him helped him out as the guy who is not in bed with the national Republican agenda – though he did cross the line criticizing McCain's time as a POW.  

Dignified candidates like Jeb Bush tries to stay above all that but depending on how well Trump's campaign can convert the media attention into votes, he may have to act should Trump find himself at the very top or winning in the early primaries.

At this point, we'll have to see how he does in the first GOP debate on Fox News in less than three weeks.  If he holds his own, look out.  His poll numbers could come back up to pre-McCain bashing levels.  Not even a Youtube video of him stealing candy from a baby is going to derail him.

For the Republicans, they're wondering how far Donald Trump will take this. Even if his campaign loses some momentum for one reason or another (probably going to be a mistake of his own making), he may go the distance and quite possibly as a third party candidate.  He has nothing to lose at this point.  He's lost Mexico.  He lost NBC, Macy's, and more companies are considering breaking off relations with him and his businesses, he might just continue through 2016 just out of spite.

As a reality TV candidate, his fans and curious watchers demand no less.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Green: Sagging Hybrid Sales Could Mean The Market Is Ready For the Next Jump

Source: Los Angeles Times.

Sales of hybrids including Toyota's best-selling Prius has fell about 15%. However, it is not as if the hybrid market and the whole greener car revolution is dead. In fact, the sentiment among consumers appears to be that they waiting for the next jump in hybrid and alternative technology and are ready to jump on once they're on the market.

Take Toyota's hydrogen car, Mirai, which will go on sale later this year. However, the problem is it may not be enough feeling stations for the vehicle. That alone can stand sales of alternative fuel vehicles.

Furthermore, Tesla is not done the Model T and the Model X. The Model 3 will debut in 2016. Starting price is $35,000.

These are just a couple of models and quick samples oh what hybrids and electric vehicles are coming to the market. Once more of these vehicles hit the market, sales will once again be on he uptrend.

The next generation Prius, fourth generation, will sport a new look, better fuel-efficiency of up to 55 miles per gallon, and better handling. Put all that together, it is no wonder really consumers are holding back.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, July 20, 2015

Social: Famous Users and Groups Increasingly Use Twitter To Wage War of Words - Trump And AARP Prime Examples

Source:  Bleacher Report.

We live in a time when taking cheap shots at people or a group even for laughs that might appear harmless at first can turn around and bite you back. This is especially true if it's the elder, specifically in this case, the AARP who took offense at Tiger Woods using them as his punchline.

So AARP responded in kind and took a dig at Woods' horrendous plays lately - at times going over par.  And that is what the AARP said when Woods was asked about possible retirement from golf.  Woods actually did not seem to suggest not needing an AARP card in any more tone but I supposed you just do not want to mess with an specific groups these days.

And AARP respond via Twitter, which immortalized their Woods attack with a tweet "it's better to be over 50, than it is to be over par".

What's interesting is the increasing number of politicians, celebrities, and groups going on Twitter to argue their points and at times get into war of words with opponents and enemies.  Recently, Donald Trump, Republican frontrunner (not sure how long he'll be the front runner but he seems to be doing very well), took to Twitter to take on opponents looking to pick fights with the Donald to score media points and with primary voters. 

And if Trump's campaign is as sharp as his Twitter attacks, he just might get to Super Tuesday.


Social: After Data Breach on Cheating Website, Thousands of Divorce Lawyers Are Saying Ka-Ching

Source:  Wired.

Did you get some flowers or an unexpected gift from your spouse or partner today?  Oh, you did.  Isn't that nice.  It may be because he or she is a two-timer who had been looking to cheat or had been cheating on you through a website called Ashley Madison and hackers broke into the cheating website's database and unloaded everything your lawyer will need to help you with your divorce.

I had heard about this website previously but was surprised to learn that there are 40 million registered users.  After today, I doubt they'll get their four million and one user.  And it is unclear just how the company can or will move forward. 

The social ramification from this is remains unclear since the hack and data dump appears less than a day old.  I had thought about titling this post with something about forty million divorces but who is to say that there are hundreds if not thousands of couples each registered with Ashley Madison to cheat on each other. 

So far, Twitter and social media is not having as much fun with this as I expected.  Beyond hurt feelings and marriages ending prematurely, there are lessons to be learn from this not the least about being faithful.  Sharing personal information online does make you a product - for the company only if you're lucky or hackers if you're not.  Data about us can be used and exploited at any give time.

You just have to assume that anything you share about yourself will be opened to all at some point no matter what you do.

AI: Need PC, Tablets, Phones To Accept More Voice Commands And Understand What We Want

I think it's great that Apple, Google, Microsoft (rumored that Facebook as well) have been racing to outdo one another in the field of AI where Cortana, Google Now, And Siri are becoming more and more part of our mobile computing experience and striving to become more of a true companion.  It will be a multi-year if not perpetual AI race. 

But I do think there is something that is fundamentally feasible for these tech companies to do in the near future - having their current OS or AI understand more voice commands like switching between apps or tabs in the browser or even fundamental OS functions.  If there are such features, I have not found them to be adequate.  And it goes towards improving accessibility functions as well for users who are physically or developmentally challenged. 

What's interesting is that Apple has had Siri working on the iPhone and iPad for years and it is noticeably absent from OS X.  Only Apple knows why that is.  And there have been suggestions that Siri would appear in some format on Apple TV.  However, with Cortana playing at least a minor part of Windows 10 launch, it would make sense for Apple to follow up with Siri on the Mac in a year at the very least.

For Google, it does appear that it is going a different route than what Apple and Microsoft are doing with their AI.  Google Now is more (and much better) as providing information to make user lives better, more convenient and efficient, than before.  It's unlike we'll be able to speak into a chromebook to change tabs between its browser.  Any command via voice will have to take place on the Android.

There is the issue of how to implement such a feature.  It's likely Apple is taking a wait and see attitude, letting others like Microsoft go first with Cortana and seeing what it can learn from it.  Personally, I cannot wait to try it. And if Cortana's implementation is near flawless and can do at least what Siri and Google Now can do, it may have found a way back into the mobile hardware game. 

What about my fellow mobile warriors?  Do you feel it's time that the tech companies focus more on givng us new AI features like voice commands and being able to discern the context of what we are ordering it to do?  Voice commands have been around much longer than you realized but it is only recently that we can be optimistic about an AI working in the background trying to understand what the human operators want from it. 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Twitter Uses Summary Cards For More Engagement

Source:  Techcrunch.

I've always thought Twitter's mobile apps were quite bland and unengaging and ended up using other apps like Hootsuite or other apps depending on my mood.  However, Twitter is a coming that is in flux and is beginning to move beyond its simple 140-character days.  New are summary cards that provide the users more details about the links (URLs are gone) that help users decide if they want to click through.

I have noticed pictures for a while and have written about it.  The summary cards open up new opportunities should Twitter want to follow it.  Perhaps, there could be a link to other tweets not that only linked to the same URL but actually also comment on it.  This would greatly improve engagement through Twitterverse and allow users a feel of connectivity.

There are a couple of pitfalls to this:  you see less and could end up with more sponsored tweets that, well, Twitter needs to keep the lights on.

For now, however, I'm willing to live with it as the advantages of summary cards outweigh any negatives that might come with it.  As long as Twitter is smart and does not over do it one way or another and keep a sense of balance between information and tweets that users see.

Perhaps, we can see more choices and options in the future from Twitter that let users decide how much information they like to see on their timelines.

Social: Twitter Shows How Old Some Of Us Are

Do you know what it means to hang up a phone or why people say that?  Or that shows used to be in back and white?  And if you go back further, no sound at all?

Well, apparently if you on Twitter or read these tweets, you will realize how old or young you are depending on how you feel about technology.

Apparently, if a kid sees a back and white video, they figure there is something wrong with the HDTV.  Oh, and speaking of TV read the one about using paid cable channels as background noise while the kids are using their iPads.  Yes, that scene is played out in millions of living rooms across America on weekends.

Source:  Huffington Post.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Prime Day Is Amazon's Garage Sale - Junk For Sale

One man's trash is another man's treasure as the saying goes.  Unfortunately, there is more backlash as it appears that Amazon and its partners are using Prime Day to unload junk inventory.  Don't take my word for it.  Take it from social networks (BGR).

The level of snarkiness on Twitter just says it all.  For Amazon, it may not matter in the short run as long as those who sign up for Prime forget to cancel later.  Otherwise, Prime is truly a great deal.  It's just unfortunate that Amazon thinks leaf blowers, wealth/real estate books, dandolions, and guitar picks for girls are what people signed up for.

Amazon's Prime Day Has Been Crap

I guess I'm not alone.  Many are disppointed by the offerings Amazon is offering to Prime users (CNN).  The only good deals, for some, are Fire devices that Amazon owns.  As for the rest, there are a lot of things that are kinda just fillers that people don't really need.  And while there are a few intresting items for sale, they're don't appear to be Black Friday prices.

Like leaf blowers?  Really?  Reflective vests?  No Thanks.  Ditto for the chef's hat.  And those external batteries?  Amazon has similar ones that are priced about the same for the same capacity.  No deal there. 

There are MicroSD cards that I might be interested in but we'll have to see what if the price is right. I'll be running an update all day to see if things change.  Oh, and you have to be fast.  Decend items sell out rather fast...last I checked, the leaf blower and Fire devices have not sold out. 

Update 1:  The PNY cards have sold out the moment they went on sale.  Wait list is full as well.  Only a couple of seconds.

Update 2:  Walmart is looking to spoil Amazon's Prime Day.  The website needs work.  Lots.  It is still stuck in the late-90s.  Not even going to bother.

Clash: In Lynching of 13-Year Old Bangeladesh Boy, Disregard for Life Or Failed Criminal System?

Source:  CNN.

When I first read this post about how a mob beat and lynched a 13-year old boy of stealing, my immediate reaction is to condemn those attackers for their crime. And it is a crime.  I wanted them also beaten and lynched.  Eye for an eye.  But is it about a disregard for life, a failed criminal system as the CNN post pointed to, or a cultural outlook on dealing with this kind of thing?

First, looking at how we view life and justice here in the West, there is difference between states within America on how we deal with criminals and their sentences.  Some advocate death penalties while others are more lenient.  And in Europe, they have their own views on this. 

But I like to think that we also view life as precious and not so trivial.  Sure we have our own problems - one glaring example is the recent rash of shootings by law enforcements.  I'm not here to debate their merits and justifications. 

But executing a 13-year old boy? And not by the state but a mob.  Now, that is wholesale disregard for life no matter how corrupt or ineffective the local justice system is.  And apparently, this sort of swift mob execution is a common place in Bangeladesh.  And apparently, some of the attackers enjoyed their part in this barbaric torture and murder of a child.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Running Across the Country in 100 Days

Meet 23-year old bad-ass, Barclay Oudersluys, who is running from Santa Monica, California all the way to Maine.  Across the country and he'll try to do it in 100 days.  From ABC News, it does not look like he'll have an problems getting that done.  And to boot, he's trying to raise $10,000 for Halls Steps Foundation, a nonprofit that is fighting poverty with better health.

So far, he's 60+ days into his run.  He's not quite alone.  While he has been compared to Forrest Gump, he does not have people running aside him except his friend who follow him in a van.  And frankly, that is an awesome thing that he's doing. 

After doing a quick calculation, I realized I can realistically do 10-15 miles a day if I really push it and maybe walk another 5 after that which would put me somewhere between 150-200 days provided my body does not break down which like will after a week if that.  The most I've ever ran is 20 miles and I have had to rest like a week after that. 

So, again, Mr. Oudersluys is a bad-ass with a great heart for his charit work. 

He offered details on how he showers and sleeps.  He also said he runs between 31-32 miles a day starting at 6 in the morning and finishes by noon or 2pm.  

iPhone Scored 92% of Phone Profit - Apple Is Doomed

Okay, get this. Apple is barely scratching out a 20% share of the global smartphone market in terms of units sold.  And this is from Apple running with all cylinders firing and task masters at Foxconn factories whipping workers to churn out as many iPhones as they can.  Okay, minus the whips and the task masters but you still get the point.  Apple took months to meet demand and just as it had, we are now onto the next upgrade mere months away.

Still, all that work and Apple only managed to take one-fifth of the market.  Doomed, many would say. 

Well, not quite...more at On Apple.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Amazon's Predatory Book Practice? Some Wants The Government To Look Into It

Source:  NY Times.

It's ironic that a while back, Amazon requested the Department of Justic to look into possible collusion between Apple and major publishers over pricing and, now, a group representing authors and booksellers are hitting Amazon right back by requesting an inquiry regarding Amazon's possible anti-trust actions.

It really stems from Amazon's battle with publishers that at times become very public with Amazon trying to justify their actions, like removing books from publishers they have contracts disputes with from sale, to the public.  It has not worked out exactly as Amazon had hoped.  It do appear that Amazon usually end up accepting publisher terms.

Still, Amazon's actions do state to the leverage it has in the publishing world and terms it has offered to independent authors. 

One of Amazon's most controverial move is to price its books below market price to drive competitors like Borders out of business.  Even now, Barnes and Noble is barely surviving, having to reinvent itself time and time again.  Meanwhile, Amazon can make up for book losses with sales of other items and its growing businesses else where like cloud storage.

I cannot decide if it's a lawful thing to do:  driving your competiors out of business by lowering prices to destroy their core business and covering the losses with another part of your business.  I do kow that it feel wrong.

Beats 1 Could Be Start of Apple's Attempt To Disrupt More Than Just Music

It's interesting that Apple has supported podcasts and podcasting for years and, without much effort beyond updating the podcast app on iOS, the podcasting community has grown in sophistication and numbers of quality podcasts as well as tens if not millions of listeners.  And now with Beats 1, Apple may well be focusing and evolving at its usual pace when disrupting markets the whole streaming music and podcast market - creating a network not unlike SiriusXM with content that already exist.

In this Macworld post, it focused on how Beats 1 can be the start of something at Apple to take on SiriusXM There have been calls in the past that Apple should buy SiriusXM but I always found that to be a big unlike Apple.  After all, Apple had the podcast app that allowing users to curate podcasts to their own tastes and interests.  And yes, there are music podcasts already.  And more content than even Sirius can hope to have.

There was also a time when it looked like Apple was going to allow users to pay and subscribe to podcasts as well.  While that obviously did not happen, we can look for Apple to possibly create more "stations" or 'channels" along side Beats 1 and allow users to flip through them depending on what they want to listen to.

Also keep in mind that about a year ago, Apple integreated actual radio feeds from ESPN and NPR as well as some local public radio stations into the radio tab of the Music app and it remains there even now.

In response to Macworld's post, Apple does not need to take on SiriusXM directly.  Macworld suggests that while Beats 1 is free but additonal "stations" might not be.  It is debatable whethere they will be based on Apple's own produced shows or content or select podcasters invited to fill time slots that require subscriptions to access them.

No Wonder eCars Are Doing Well In California

We suffer from high gas prices in California for years and whatever the reasons (taxes, "misshaps", "regular shudown for maintenances"),electric and hybrid vehicles are doing very well here compared to other states.  However, I did notice a huge jump over the weekend from less than a week ago.  Now we know why: lack of import into California and, of course, summer demands.  (Source:  Los Angeles Times)

While I don't drive much, such price fluctuations does have me wondering about whether it's time to get a new car.  And like other times, I forget about it after a few days.  But as prices around here approach $5 a gallon, maybe there is a red line for me but I have yet to decide at what price that is.

People are still buying SUVs and we all know what kind of gas guzzlers they represent.  So obviously, it has not hit hit the wallets of too many Californians.  Yet.  Whatever the excuses are for the price increase, from a green perspective, this could be good for the long run as more people trade in for hybrids or electric cars.

I do not see as many Priuses or Volts as SUVs in LA but more and more of them are on the road.  This is good for people who can afford getting new cars. For the poor, more needs to be done to make public transportation accessible.  

Media: Guns And Missteps - The Need Tweak Exiisting Laws

It just seems like tragedies relating to guns happen on a weekly basis.  Whether it's toddler accidentally killing himself because he gained access to a gun, mass murders at the AME Church in South Carolina or Sanky Hook Elementary in 2012, or any number of killings across the country, it is hard to see how nothing has changed for the better.

We do have laws governing gun control but there are enough loopholes and missteps that virtually anyone can get a gun at will.  And more recently, the murder of African American worshippers at the AME Church in South Carolina by racist Dylann Roof may not have unfolded in such a manner if the FBI had adequate information relating to the murderer's previous arrest that would have kept him from getting the weapon he used in this massacre. 

Apparently, while the FBI has issues with the background check, the loophole here is that if a background check takes longer than 3 days, the gun shop owner can sell the gun - which is the case here with Roof.

Of course, our politicians continue to bicker over existing laws and the need for new ones.  How about changing it a bit.  Three days for a background check seem awfully short. Maybe there needs to be a need for exceptions or to compensate for bureaucratic missteps. 

That isn't about gun control is it?  If you're a lawful citizen who has a spotless record, you still get your gun a couple of days later while the longer background checks sort out those who should not have guns.  Not a big sacrafice to make.

Father of Modern Gaming: RIP, Dude!

Satoru Iwata passed away over the weekend.  If you don't know who he is, well, the dude is a giant in modern video games.  He lead the Nintendo to new highs and innovations.  He helped usher in the moble gaming industry that we know of today. Think Wii, Mario, and Pikachu.  That's him.

If it was not for him and Nintendo, gaming on your Androids and iPhones would be vastly different and quite possibly inferior.

Too young at 55.  

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Decidedly Negative Article On German Chancellor - But She Has A Point

This Bloomberg post is pretty negative on Angela Merkel, Germany's chancellor and leader of the country which just happens to be the biggest and most influenctial state in the European Union.  So while the post complained about how inflexible Merkel is regarding austerity and throwing her economic and political weight around, you have to remember that she's a politician.  When a politician has power and might, he or she will use it.

However, whole a measure of flexibility is needed, the post stated that Merkel treats her neighbors like their spoiled children and needed her iron hand to right their houses.  And sure, the EU is suffering through stagnation due in part to auterity measures but it isn't as if lesser partners' economies are booming.  Take Greece which has imploded and is on the verge of getting booted out of the EU. 

And given Europe's very liberal and generous governments, politicians that want to stay in power has for decades avoided saying "no" to its people. 

Merkel just happened to be in a position as a leader of a strong country to be able to do what she thinks is best for EU and Germany.  Perhaps after this crisis is over, there could be a rebalancing and relaxing of auterity measures but until countries that keep borrowing understand that there are limits to testing the patience of creditors, Merkel does have a point.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

China Created Perform Storm For Bubble But Blames Outside Forces For Popping It. Fearing Unrest, New Law To Clamp Down Internet and Dissent

Source:  Marketwatch.

So, if you are not hiding in a whole, you should know that macroeconomic stars are aligned to put pressure on the stock market, oil and commodity prices, and creating general havoc that is rippling across the global market.  Greece is looking to be outed from the Euro but that is a minor issue this week compared to the collapse of the Chinese economy.

And guess who Beijing is blaming to deflect from its own mismanagement of its financial market and causing a general panic on the streets of China?  Us.  Namely, anyone but those good folks in power. 

And keeping the average Chinese from pouring into the streets that may result in civil unrest at best and quite possibly a regime change at worst, the central government is working to tighten further control of the Internet beyond what's considered "reasonable" by the standards set by the Communist Party with the new national security law.  It seems to give Chinese president Xi Jinping, and whover comes next after him, more power over the average Chinese citizens.  While most posts focus on the business side of the new law as it relates to foreign companies, the timing of this law's adoption should not be dismissed as coincidence. 

Furthermore, the media mouthpieces of the Communist Party has been on nonstop about trusting the government to know what is best for the people and faith that the central government will find a way to stablize the stock market.  On top of that, the government's target of annual 7% growth is widely believed to be too optimistic by all accounts. 

Put it all together, it explains why Beijing is desperately throwing everything including the kitchen sink supporting the stock market, deflecting attention away from domestic problems, and tightening further flow of information.  

Social: Taco Bell With Beer and Delivery, Just Need To Add Curly Fries And It'll Be Heaven

Source:  CNBC.

Yes, calling it now.  Taco Bell tacos and burritos via delviery is going to be wildly successful.  Most nights, it is one of few places that open way, way past bedtime.  And you just don't feel like driving out there.  I live in a relatively safe neighborhood but there just isn't one within walking distance.  Hence, the delivery. 

In partnership with DoorDash, more than 200 restaurants will accept orders and deliver them right to your door.  Awesome, right?  Of course.  This is built on the mobile move earlier this year that allows customers to preorder their food and pick them up upon arrival.

And then there is this.  TB will begin to experiment with alcohol in Chicago.  It's unlikely we'll see alcohol delivery and personally, I don't drink but, hey, other mobile warriors might be interested.  

Saturday, July 4, 2015

This report from CNN will give Donald Trump much needed "proof" to his claim about Mexico. Obviously, the dude is fanning those who just happens to agree with his feelings and thoughts on minorities, specifically those coming from just south of the US borders.

It is very unfortunate because vast majority of Latinos are family loving and law-abiding citizens, some who are deeply religious and conservative, a natural fit for the GOP. The rest are just average folks looking for their piece of the American Dream.

So, on Wednesday, while walking in San Francisco with her father, Kate Steinle was shot by a known criminal who had been deported from the United States six times already. Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez appeared to have had a very violent past. He had been in custody with the SF Sheriff Department but was released before ICE could be notified and picked him up.

But that is not quite right. There is going to be a lot of finger-pointing especially from the right regarding US immigration policies, San Francisco's unwillingness to follow immigration orders, and, of course, our very porous borders.

ICE had Sanchez in custody and turned him over to SF authorities because of outstanding drug charges. However, the charges were were dropped and Sanchez was released without ICE knowing about it. Otherwise, they would have claimed him before he was free to walk the streets of San Francisco and killed the young woman.

Oh, a young woman who happened to be very pretty and blond. So yeah, red meat for Fox News, talk radio, and Donald.

It's unfortunate that a very sensible and fair reform to our immigration policy cannot be enacted because the White House, Democrats, and the Republicans would rather use it as an issue to rally their bases. And on this matter, it will not look good for the left.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Social Media and Kobe Bryant: Tweets Are The New Smoke For Fire

This is the season for a lot of posts and tweets about the NBA regarding free agencies. And living in Los Angeles as a Lakers fan, you can't help but follow closely how the Lakers are imploding all because no one wants to play with Kobe Bryant at this stage in his career - Bryant's unwillingness to change his game to accommodate a changing NBA and reinvent his game. Two years ago, Dwight Howard left for Houston and a year later partner Pau Gasol departed for Chicago (which everyone agrees was the right choice for his career even if he took a pay cut). And since then, Lakers has been unwilling to get a major free agent to come to Los Angeles.

Make no mistake, the Lakers' rich and storied history is a huge draw. The big market and proximity to Hollywood also factors in. But standing in the way is Kobe. And if you do a simple tweet search, you'll find a lot of Kobe fans are even beginning to wonder if their basketball hero is doing more harm than good for the team. People are also wondering if he should take a pay cut as well. Obviously, we all know Kobe's feeling on that issue.

Here's the thing though - denials by the Lakers front office and players around the league that Bryant is not the reason why free agents will not come to Los Angeles despite evidence to the contrary is not doing the NBA or fans any favors.

Maybe Kobe and the Lakers don't want to hear what is being said around the NBA but we in the social media are hearing everything loud and clear.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Warming: Polar Bears In Worse Position Than Previously Thought

With less ice now that polar bears use for hunting and mating, it means by 2025, 1/3 of polar bears could be in danger of dying off.  That's what's implied in this GRIST post.  This conclusion is way worse than previously thought.   Here is another thought.  It is like that as we get to closer to 2025, it will be even worse.

Of course, the current effort to slow green house gases is only that:  slowing and really any effort to cut down global warming gases.  So, while we know that the polar bears will need some major adapting to the disappearing arctic ice, it also means the rest of the world has to content with what the polar bears are going through right now.

Consider them to be the canaries in the climate change that tell us just how bad things are. 

Social: Google Photos Labeled Black Woman Less Than Flattering (Racist) Name

Source:  CNN.

This is one of the worst blunders Google has gone through.  Through its photo storage and sharing app, Google Photos, it labeled an African American woman as, well, I'll let you click through to see what I mean.  Like others, I find this to be appalling.  However, like Google said, this was likely a bug.  "Likely" only because we cannot be sure Google will let us know otherwise if it's not.

And Google is a faceless corporation like others who are not about to go out and alienate consumers on purpose, minorities or otherwise.  In Google's defense, its facial recognition software has confused people with dogs and horses as well.

Given the racial climate in the aftermath of the Charleston shooting and black church burnings, this certainly could not have happened at a worse time.

Apple Music Nothing New (Yet)

I read this Gizmodo post about Apple Music.  Granted that I have not used it yet (waiting for iOS 9 beta to have it next week), when you get rid of the Taylor Swift drama and the will-they-or-won't-they-sign of the indie labels, I'm not sure Apple is offering anything other streaming services do not already have.

There is the Beats One "radio station" that Apple has that no one else does for now.  It could be the first step to something even better.  If Apple Music evolution follows other Apple product improvement, we can see annual improvements up to a point and where it makes sense.

So far, the bar is pretty low given the state of the streaming segment of the music market.  There are plenty of players so it is good to see there are competitors that will continue to push Apple foward.

Once I've gotten a chance to play with it, I will looking into what features I love to see that might be missing or improved.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Social Media A Battleground Between Gay Rights Advocates/Supporters and Conservatives - Overlays of Flags and Rainbows

When the Supreme Court of the United States made the 5-4 ruling in favor of gay rights, I knew it was a big deal even though I had not pay much attention to it.  And it was only the last day or so when I noticed the rainbow overlay on Facebook profile pictures that I made the connection between the overlay and I assumed to be the SCOTUS decision.

Now, conservatives want people to counter the gay rights supporters with an overlay of the American flag.  I'm not sure what that even would do.  People on Facebook would assume that people are doing it because of Independence Day, July 4th.

Still, I'm not sure the conservatives ought to be doing this.  See, in Russia, they're doing the same thing when a designer provided a tool to allow Russian Facebook users to overlay the Russian flag on top of their profile pictures to show their stance against gay rights.

But see, to the conservatives here, Russia is just happens to be our current adversary due to their aggression in Ukraine and Putin fostering anti-American sentiments.

As someone who is right-of-center, I can't help but feel the ultraright nuts are dragging the rest of us down.  And the current crop of GOP candidates are not helping. 

Men Attacks

Source:  ABC Los Angeles.

Two criminals beat a deaf man and then steal his Macbook have been caught.  I'm sad that it happened but glad they were both quickly apprehended. So, now what?  Given this type of crime where adult criminals prey on the disabled, elderly, or children, I think there should be a special law or provision that come with stiffer sentences. 

According to the report, the thieves and bullies knew the victim was deaf.

We have special laws against hate crime.  Why not a bullying provisions or something?

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...