Sunday, January 31, 2016

Social: Escaped Prisoners, TV Fiction, And Living This In Real Time

More than a week ago, three prisoners escaped from a prison in Orange County, California.  Three very dangerous prisoners awaiting trials for murder, attempted murder, torture, and whatever else you wanna throw at them, they probably did it.  Bad, bad hombres.  One of them, Hossein Nayeri, was equated to Hannibal Lecter.  This had folks on edge as far south as San Diego and the US-Mexico borders and as far North as Los Angeles, probably even further north since two of them were appended in northern California on Friday.

This probably has a Hollywood script written all over it.  Which means the comparison of Nayeri to Hannibal Lecter an interesting one.  Lecter was far, far worse than this guy.  If Hannibal Lecter was a real person, he'd probably go and find the people who compared him to Nayeri and, well…anyways, during this time while Nayeri was on the run, his ex-wife went into hiding, fearing for her life since she helped authorities lure him out into the open.  Nayeri had escaped to Iran where we do not have any relationship with.  It was his former wife who go him to go to Spain where authorities was able to nab him and extradite him to the US (KTLA).

So, had me thinking about the TV show, The Following.  In the series, the wife of a serial killer had to go into hiding with her child because her husband and his killer cult were looking to find them.  I'm sure we do not have to go into the realm of Hollywood to find real examples of people in hiding to escape their abusive or whacked-out husbands.  

What had me thinking about this real life criminal episode was how close this was to me in Los Angeles and how developments from authorities and the media was followed so closely on social media like Twitter.  

It's another example of how indispensable Twitter has become as a source of news and information.  I know, I could have gone right to this part here.  It got me thinking about major events in the last year like the Paris attacks and how Twitter has supplemented 24-hour news networks to obtain up-to-the-minute news.  This is great, right?  For the most part.

The problem with this is that social media is also a platform for misinformation or wrong information.  In following the Oregon standoff, much of the information are incorrect.  Misinformation or false information came from Tea Party and militia groups on a regular basis.  But they were no the sole guilty parties.  The left also did the same but to a lesser extent.  You have to be careful about what you read on Twitter and other social media and gauge for yourself what sources are deemed trustworthy.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Main Reason That Current Slowdown Will Force Some Out And Apple Comes Out Stronger

Here is the post from 360 Mac I want to add a bit on to.  It generally provides a good and rather obvious road map on the "coming tech apocalypse" and proclaims that Apple will weather it and come out even stronger.  I agree for the most part and I like to explain why.  Apple's products are aspirational but they are among the best on the market.  There is no second or third place among its competitors as far as premium products, services, and ecosystems go.  None. 

And as millions in developing countries join their own versions of the middle class, Apple will be primed to sell them the products they want and need.  Phones, tablets, computers, wearables, and, yes, Car Play-ready cars or even Apple cars.  Oh, yeah, stuff for the homes that are HomeKit enabled.  Oh, yeah, Apple TV and relevant services as well.  Perhaps, even banking with Apple one day.

None of this will happen overnight and given what it feels like at times is the snail-like pace in which Apple unveils features and services, there is a meticulous and well through out road map at Cupertino, Apple's HQ.  And even through downturns, Apple continues to pour on the R&D dollars. 

In a downturn, folks will hold onto their gears longer and that upgrade cycle will hurt a lot of companies. Even Apple to some extent but a mast majority of Apple's customers have greater net worth which means a great many of them will continue to upgrade regardless of the larger economic slow down. 

Apple's competitors will mostly be forced to cut back their own development cycle to reduce costs or go away entirely.  Perhaps, even get picked up by larger companies.  What it essentially means is that the experience gap between Apple and its competitors will grow wider. 

All of this is good for Apple even if Wall Street thinks otherwise.  This is a long game.  Product upgrades and entry into new markets does not happen overnight.  I'm sure in a couple of years, the consumer tech landscape will be vastly different and Apple will resume its double digit growth that Wall Street wants. 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Comcast Looks To Screw Subscribers - No Pretense Even Attempted

Source:  Bloomberg.

Comcast wants to metere its subscribers into submission, or rather, subscription of its own video services isntead of competing ones like Netflix.  And yes, Comcast's Sith Lord wannbe, CEO Brian Roberts, does not think it is illogical for Comcast to do this.  Comcast is evil.  It is doing something evil.  What's the problem?

Essentially, Comcast will be charging folks who go over their 300 GB a month limit an extra $10 for each 50 GB. 

However, this is about Comcast trying to avoid becoming a dumb pipeline and pretending it is much more.  Comcast and other cable operators are faced with a growing number of cord-cutters - homes who use them as a gateway to the Internet and video services.  And these cable Internet companies are not getting a penny of that.  instead of innovating or providing incentives for subscribers of TV packages to stay, they are trying to prolong an evolving video consumption behavior and the notion that people no longer wants to subscribe to channels they don't want or watch and be forced to pay for them.  

Instead of facing reality and doing away with a dying and archiac business model, cable companies are trying to prolong its agonizing death.  Their focus is on the short-term bottom line and making shareholders happy.  No one ever said the executive suites is where boldness comes from.

Otherwise, why would this artificial cap and extra charge for Internet access not count against Comcast's own video services?  What Comcast also ant is to make sure that subscribers pay them for video services they purchase elsewhere.  One way or another, Comcast wants you to pay them for video services no matter who you subscribe it from.

Again, it is about the bottom line.  Consider that T-Mobile's Binge-On program where subscribers can steam services lik Netflix and Sling TV for free without using allotted  monthly data plans.  It is the opposite of what Comcast is doing here.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Would You Want To Be On A Plane With Chuck? No? How About A Supermatural Doll? Nah, I'll Pass

If you fly Thai airline, Smile Airways, you could be seated next to a doll.  Not just any doll but a "supernatural" doll that is believed to possess a soul among other unnatural powers.

Screw that!  I would not want to be near one even on the ground! 

In Thailand, they're treated as a regular child called Luk Thep or Child Angels. 

Okay, I like to think that this is a gimmick.  CNN has more hair-raising details but I get the feeling that it ain't.  But expect a movie about it coming to a theater near you.  "Chuck and the Child Angels".  Snakes on a plane, Samuel L Jackson, can probably deal wtih but I doubt he'll want to deal with scary dolls with superpowers.

Source:  MSN, CNN.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Social: Gotta Love Twitter - Denver Police Department Trolls The Patriots

Source:  ESPN.

= MISSING PERSONS unit heading to @SportsAuthField to try & locate Patriots Offense. GO @Broncos

— Denver Police Dept. (@DenverPolice) January 24, 2016

That was how the Denver PD trolled the New England Patriots after the Denver Broncos beat Tom Brady and the Patriots.  You gotta love Twitter for providing the platform for this good nature troll.  Of course, it's not always like this.  Twitter is virtually a wide-open platform that allows users to say just about anything they want.  Some are just bathroom updates.  Most are harmless but its use has been bad a times.  Yeah, Donald Trump comes to mind.

For the most part, Twitter has given hundreds of millions voices that would otherwise be drown out. Including the Denver PD.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Final Investigative Report on Kickstarter and the Failed (Fraudulent) Zano Drone Project

Here is the detailed report (Medium) commissioned by Kickstarter over the failed Zano drone that I was also a backer and, ultimately, victim to.  With millions of backers' money, Zano, the drone that would change everything, was a sure thing, right?  The video was awesome and its features were nothing like what is available on the market.

Delay after delay.  This was expected.  I like to give people the benefit of the doubt.  But then, boom!  Torquing Group went into liquidation, taking all our money with it.  No drone.  The shocked look on my face was likely plastered on thousands of others as well. 

While you can read the post (recommended) to find out what exactly happened, the result as far as I'm concerned, and likely feared by Kickstarter, is that I have been a lot more cautious about funding anything.  This is in light of other complaints from backers on other projects as well.  Kickstarter, like Indigogo, was fast becoming a place for companies to pull money from backers that sell subpar products or to entice users to back products, which at times, seem just another way to get buyers to pre-order. 

I still go on Kickstarter and scout for interesting projects but I have not backed anything for a while.  And I reckon others are doing the same thing I am.  Furthermore, I am also quite content to let others take the risks.  Sure, there are rewards like getting the final product earlier or with a discounted price.  Those are the rewards but I'm also perfectly fine paying retail on something later so long as I know it is what it is and works as advertised.

9Th Planet - Yeah, it Might Be Out There With Latest Evidence

According to Scientific America, an article from Astronomical Journal suggest the likelihood of a 9th planet (come on, let's just say Pluto is a planet, okay?), gravitational signature of a gaseous giant that is ten times bigger than earth in terms of mass. 

This totally vindicates science fiction writers were ridiculed for writing about aliens from the 9th or even 10th planet.  Totally "hand to the face" to those invaders-only come from Mars camp. 

Some possible basic characteristics of this yet to be seen or named 9th planet includes a 20,000 years orbit around the same sun we orbit and it is considered to be a super-earth being three times as big as our world. 

Of course, we have no idea what is out there and our scientific data can only be augmented over years and decades as we send probes further out of our solar system.  This discovery of the 9th planet was not viewed through a telescope but rather through modeling of how its gravitational signature affected the movement of nearby objects.

So, expect more on this, lots of media coverage on trying to give it a name, and lots more discoveries in the near future.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Space: Comet Fragments No Longer Leading Theory On Dimming Star, So Why Not Aliens Again?

KIC 8462852 has a dimming phenomenon that happens in such an interval that has lead many to speculate off their handles.  For a while, an alien superstructure the size of a Death Star was the leading explanation.  When SETI listening posts detected no artificial signal, that theory, however remote, was cast aside.  So, many believe the likely scenario was a comet that had fragmented into pieces as the likely cause. 

No, the comet theory is also out the window.  For the type of dimming witnessed, it would require more than 600,000 comets to make that happen.

What next?  The reason the alien structure theory was dismissed is because we detected no radio signal. But if an alien civilization thousands or tens or hundreds of thousands of years more advanced than we are can build a structure or structures large enough to cause the dimming of a star by up to 20%, would it not be conceivable that they no longer use radio signals and what ever form of communication they use would be far beyond anything we have or can think up?  Subspace, anyone?

One other prevailing theory is that KIC 8462852 has some sort of ring that would cause the kind of dimming we witness here on earth.  At this point, the likelihood of an artificial cause is just as plausible as natural ones.  We simply do not know with any certainty one way or another. 

For now, we just have to keep looking up at the sky and wait until better and more precious instruments come online to give us the answers we are looking for.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Cars, Security, and Safety

Here is an interesting article from MacObserver discussing the importance of Apple's open source programming language, Swift, that is used write apps for iOS, Watch OS and OS X. And presumably, Car OS when Apple releases its Apple Car.

Not only is ease of use going to bean issue as far as operating the car is concerned, but hacking and cyberattacks are going to be something future vehicles are going to need to be protected against as best as Apple can.

And when Apple designed Swift, security was paramount. In doing that and with annual improvements, it kept an eye on Car OS as well. Only Apple knows and perhaps, under the Apple's glasnost that is Tim Cook's reign, we may learn of it when Tim or Jony Ives tells us about the iCar development process on 60 Minutes.

- Posted using Mobile.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Western Land: Preservation, Farms, and Common Sense

Here is a good NY Times article on a growing movement to claim control of a lot of land under federal control and turn it over to the states, and, ultimately, to the highest bidders without regard for conservation and oversight.  This sounds biased on my part but let's be honest, there are folks out there that care only about the bottom line and nothing more - public welfare be damned.  

However, I do agree that there is just so much regulations and lack of common sense on the part of regulators, regardless of whether it is from a state or federal agency.  Worse, there is no dialog at all.  Everyone wants to dig in and draw lines.  But this is also true of land and mine owners as well as farmers.  

Regardless of where you stand, there is always a solution, not always one that everyone is happy with but can live with.  

I Hate Spring (Allergies) Because I'm A Caveman

Source:  Seattle Times.

According to a new study, it is your and my Neanderthal genes that makes us hate spring pollens that give us our allergies to pollens and animal fur.  But hey, feel special, yeah?  It's about only 2% of our whole genome that has Neanderthal genes and only 50% of the whole wide human race have it.  It may be that it had an advantage against bacterial infection but crossing of genes between our ancestral humans and the Neanderthals also gave us a heightened sensitivity that results in our allergies.

This is prevalent in human populations in Asia and Europe when humans migrated into these areas populated by the now extinct Neanderthals.  

More on this in the link above but it is a recommended read.  Good science.  On top of that, the article explains the reason for these innate immunization responses from the Neanderthals that have served our ancestors so well as they moved into new regions of tens of thousands of years ago.  

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...