Friday, October 30, 2015

Holidays: In-Store Pickups Are Not Worth It If It Means Frustration

Here is a Bloomberg post about Holidays free shipping that struck a cord with me. Not all free shipping are the same but the post delved into something more important: in-store pickups. And not all IPSU ate all the same.

I've experienced them before. Going to Best Buy. Wal-Mart. Even Apple stores. And the one thing that makes them a hassle even if you get what you ordered more quickly and free than online shopping is that you still have to wait.

And I'm not talking about a couple of minutes. Tens of minutes. This is especially true for Apple stores. Move here. Line up there. Ten you have to wait until someone is free to help you. 

Just add bad and mentioned in the Bloomberg post is that you have to walk around the store to find out where to go pick up what you need. And most of the time, when you do managed to find someone to help you, they haven't a clue what you're talking about.

So far, Best Buy has the best of the lot because you just go tot he customer service area.

Retailers like Wal-Mart and Target are only starting to match Amazon with free shipping but they have an inherent advantage: brick-and-mortar stores. ISPU is their natural advantage. They need to exploit that against their online-only competitors. And they need to do a much better job at it.

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Friday, October 9, 2015

Possible Kickstarter Burn? Wind Turbine That Does Not Seem To Deliver (In a Couple of Ways)

This is the Kickstarter project that I'm going to go into here:  Trinity Portable Wind Turbine Power Station.  I so badly want this to be real and deliver on time.  However, after some quick searces online and reading comments from supporters and commenters, I have to wonder if this is possibly a second renewable project that I am going to get burned on. 

First, I've been a supporter of numerous Kickstarter projects.  This home aquaponic fish tank comes quickly to mind.  I've bought a few, one for myself and others as gifts.  I've back a Star Trek fan movie and a game.  I'm even waiting for a drone.  These are just a couple of the big ones.  However, I got burned by solar battery combo that seemed to be just something the project creators ordered off Amazon and repacked as their own.

So, upon seeing this wind turbine, I got really excited.  I think I can really incorporate this into my workflow and even home.  I was debating between Trinity 400 and 1000 because the 400 will allow me to move into the backyard and do a lot of my work there. Or the 1000 that claimed it can be hooked into the house's power grid.  But I thought about my solar battery experience and said to myself that maybe I should think small for the time being and go with the Trinity 50 and see if it actually works.  At worse, I'd lose $370 and the the $3000 for the 1000. 

So, I did some digging on the comment section and the creator, Janulus, seems very selective in answers questions from backers.  Odd.  So, I did more searching and it looked like there was a previous Kickstarter project, aother Trinity wind turbine, that has backers question if anyone actually received their wind turbines, as little as 3 days ago.  The creator claimed that many of the backers of the original project opted to wait for the second generation device instead.

Anyway, it all just sounds fishy and Kickstarter does not seem to give a hoot about it.  At least, there was no word from KS that it was looking into it. 

Meanwhile, many blog sites have written about how great this project is but no one seemed to have done a follow-up on this.  And what's worse is that one of the updates from the second Trinity project, it did not but promote other products. 

So back it?  I'm a firm supporter of self-reliance - for myself, my family, community, and this great country of ours.  That goes for food (trying to be a farmer in my own little yard), energy, and, some day, even water.  So, I'm leaning towards supporting the Trinity Wind Turbine and hoping that I am wrong about this project feeling fishy.  I'm hoping that it is real and, if so, I would not mind getting an even bigger version for my home.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Mobile: Maybe Map Apps Like Waze Can Also Let Users Rate Safety

A woman was killed when she and her husband using Waze, the popular GPS mobile app, went to the wrong address.  Instead of leading them to a popular tourist distination, they ended up in the wrong neighborhood where their vehicle was opened fired upon by local criminals.

This has sparked great concern over the use of GPS apps in Brazil as the South American country is set to host the next summer Olympics in 2016.  Perhaps Waze and other apps can update their apps to allow uers to rate the safety and accessibility of maps and locations. 

Including myself, we've relied to eavily on technology especially the GPS that we take for granted we will be led to the right location.  For the most part, they do work as advertised.

Source:  CNN.

Apple Going All In To Gut Advertisers, And Kill Google

Source: TechCrunch

Apple means business. Google really need to figure out another solution to show ads or money elsewhere as billions if not tens of billions of mobile revenue on iOS devices will dry up as Apple moves to block ads not only in Safari but perhaps even within apps that serves up ads themselves.

Called"Been Choice", it works its magic through a combo of Safari and VPN voodoo. However it works, it'll serve as a huge disruption to the current status quo for app makers who rely on ads as their main source of revenue. And oh, the app also works on Facebook's own ads as well. 

As if it wasn't enough, content providers and publishers have already been running for cover and wondering what the future of publishing without the ability to serve not only adds but trackers as well. This app even works against Apple's own newsreader as well.

Why are the creators of Been Choice doing this to them, Google, trackers, and publishers ask. Well, they want to offer users the choice between blocking ads and being compensated for sharing their personal info and activities. So there is the angle. Compensation.

The are two modes. The usted can set Been Choice up as a traditional add blocker or sign into the app's VPN device where a deeper analysis is performed (but there is risk there too) through pattern analysis. That's how the app is able block ads even from Apple and Facebook. 

Then comes the earning mode that users can opt into and earn cash or gift cards from Amazon by sharing their data. And yes, the developers found that people are indeed willing to share info if they find that they are compensated for it. 

TechCrunch which obviously makes its money from ads and tracking us seemed more skeptical so its author should beer consider biased in this case. Otherwise, it's a good read.

This may have greater consequences for ad servers like Google in the long term of adoption is greater that expected. Already faced with a diminishing return on the desktop, Google will find itself squeezed even further. 

This will also have huge consequences for developers as well as app users. This could force a realignment of the app revenue s system that currently relies on ad revenue to generate income for developers in order to provide users with free apps. Perhaps, this is what Apple wants all asking if Apple comes its aggressive privacy push to root out all forms of ads and trackers. After all, Apple receives a cut off all apps paid but it gets nothing from free apps. 

Been Choice already has a 4-star rating on the App Store. Highly recommended.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Wearables Like the Apple Watch To Play Key Role in Cars

Though it is a no-brainer, but WSJ reports that GM (probably other car makers as well) will soon allow drivers unlock vehicles with their watches, specifically the Apple Watch.  You want to know what else wearables, and smartphones, can do for drivers? 

Just watch Knight Rider from the 80s.  Replace KITT with Siri.  You get the idea.  We are headed into that direction and beyond.  Just don't expect your car to go airborne when you tell Siri "turbo boost!"

For starters, GM will allow drivers to lock/unlock doors and to start cars remotely.  What else would you like to be able to control with your watches?

Carly Fiorina Likely Has Not Learned From Her Failures Enough To Succeed And More About Steve Jobs and the HP iPod

Here is a very good look-back post from Medium penned by the author Steven Levy who had written a book at length about Apple's iconic iPod and how Steve Jobs rolled over Carly Fiorina and HP to get the iPod into the dominant position it was years ago and even through today.  The focus came about because during the second GOP debate on CNN, Fiorina opportunistically mentioned Steve Jobs as his friend and to deflect her past failures and somehow linked them to Jobs' darker past. 

The thing is that Jobs learned from his past mistakes, spent years in the woods finding himself again, nearly lost much of his wealth with NEXT and Pixar before Disney inked a deal with Pixar and Apple bought NEXT.  And he applied his lessons to turn Apple around with a string of innovative products like the iPod, iMac, iPhone, and iPad.  And even the Macs are selling better with each passing quarter in the post-PC era. 

Sadly, even for those who agree with Fiorina's politics has to admit that there was no second coming of Carly where she took charge of a company and made it better than it was when she took over.  As mentioned in the article, HP's stock jumped on news of her dismissal. 

The Medium was no doubt negative on Fiorina.  While you can dismiss her closeness to Jobs and her time at HP as a failed executive, you cannot question her rise to the top of Hewlett-Packard, an iconic company in its own right. 

Carly is successful as a person and did what she needed for her career.  The question is whether her management style is a good fit for today's political evironment in DC.  And one thing to consider before closing:  as president, Carly will be unable to buy another country to shore up the country's revenues.  That's good, right?

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...