Updates from September, 2016 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Geebo 3:36 pm on September 13, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , data caps, , , Netflix   

    Netflix wants ISPs to chill on data caps 

    Netflix wants ISPs to chill on data caps

    Whether you realize it or not, your internet service provider (ISP) may have a cap on how much data you can use. They usually don’t talk about it and they make it almost impossible to find if they have one, and if they do have one they make it difficult to find how much data you have used. While most users never reach their limit, there are many power users who do, and a lot of them reach their limit by streaming video over services like Netflix.

    Because of that, Netfilx is petitioning the FCC to make data caps illegal. In their argument, Netflix says that data caps are arbitrary and are only used for ISPs to be able to squeeze more money out of their customers, and they’re not wrong. Most ISPs are run by cable companies. Even the ones that are run by phone companies, like AT&T, usually have some kind of deal with satellite TV. So in either case they really don’t want to see their services used for things like Netflix since that cuts into their business model. By instilling data caps, there’s an air of intimidation to those who use their internet to stream their entertainment rather than paying an expensive cable bill, so in that way data caps can also be seen as anti-competitive. Data caps are also a throwback to the early days of the internet when dial-up providers like AOL charged by the minute.

    This is just another example of the cable companies refusing to innovate and desperately clinging to their decades old business model that doesn’t fit into modern demands. However, if the cable TV side of their business collapses where do you think they’ll try to make up the difference? That would raise the prices for internet services into the realms of what cable bills are today. That also could be rectified if there weren’t so many municipal monopolies for cable companies and ISPs, but that’s another rant for another day.

  • Geebo 10:00 am on September 12, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 9/11, , Napalm Girl   

    Facebook is having trouble pleasing all the people all the time 

    Facebook having trouble pleasing all the people all the time

    It’s been said that heavy is the head that wears the crown, and despite some reports Facebook is still the king of social media. With over one billion users, Facebook has the daunting task of trying to keep all of those users happy. The problem is that it’s almost impossible to make every user happy, especially with how fickle the internet in general can be. So it should come as no surprise that Facebook made headlines over the weekend for not just one controversy but two of them.

    The first one came when a Norwegian newspaper used the famous image of a young girl during the Vietnam War who had removed all her burning clothes after a Napalm attack. It’s an iconic photo (WARNING: Link contains photo that some may consider graphic) that personified the horrors of the Vietnam War. Facebook had a judgement call to make. Should they let the photo remain or should they remove it since it violates their policy on graphic or explicit images. At first, Facebook removed the photo which led to worldwide outcries of censorship. After much deliberation Facebook reversed their decision with the following statement.

    “An image of a naked child would normally be presumed to violate our community standards, and in some countries might even qualify as child pornography,” Facebook said in a statement Friday. “In this case, we recognize the history and global importance of this image in documenting a particular moment in time.”

    Their second controversy of the weekend came once again from their trending topics section, this time it revolved around the 15th anniversary of 9/11. It would be no surprise that 9/11 would be a top trending topic over the weekend, however the fallout came from one of the top articles they promoted. The article, entitled “September 11: The Footage that ‘proves bombs were planted in the Twin Towers'”, was from a British tabloid that appears to be just a short step up from the infamous Weekly World News. The conspiracy laden link was eventually removed with Facebook once again releasing another mea culpa.

    “We’re aware a hoax article showed up there,” a Facebook spokeswoman said in a statement on Friday, “and as a temporary step to resolving this we’ve removed the topic.”

    Due to the massive audience of Facebook it relies on algorithms, and no matter how complex the algorithm might be, it’s not going to be perfect. These are not conscious decisions as much as they are glitches. Even if human curation is restored to the back-end of Facebook mistakes will be made. The problem is our reactions to these mistakes, as they are almost always met with outrage. With a platform that is so ubiquitous mistakes will be made and they will continue to be made. Instead of the weeping and gnashing of teeth, maybe we should reserve our outrage for situations that really deserve it, instead of a website that basically amounts to a water cooler.

  • Geebo 10:01 am on September 9, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , cord cutting, , streaming   

    FCC proposal attempts to free us from the cable box 

    FCC proposal attempts to free us from the cable box

    It’s no secret that cable TV is expensive and shows no sign of ever decreasing in price. The cable companies make a big chunk of that money for the rental fee they charge customers for the cable box. The cable box has been a fixture of cable TV since the late 1970s but if the FCC has their way, the cable box may be a thing of the past.

    With more people using streaming devices, like a Roku or Apple TV, the FCC wants the cable companies to allow their services to be accessed through these devices rather than exclusively through cable boxes. The FCC believes that this will allow consumers more choices for their viewing habits. The cable companies and some major TV networks oppose this idea fearing that the device makers will favor other content over the available cable content.

    With the much cheaper services, like Netflix and Hulu, many more consumers are making the choice to cut the cable in order to save money and many say that they don’t even miss their cable service. The cable companies see this as a threat to the cash cow that they’ve been milking for decades. Rather than innovate, they’d rather just keep the same system in place they’ve had for years. If it wasn’t for sports fans who have little to no choices when it comes to seeing live events the industry might have been in free fall. However, if an industry fails to innovate another one rises to take its place and cable is in that position right now. If they don’t start making more palatable choice for consumers they’ll become the modern-day equivalent of the buggy whip manufacturers.

  • Geebo 10:01 am on September 8, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    With a new iPhone new scams will appear 

    With a new iPhone new scams will appear

    As I’m sure you’ve heard, Apple announced the release of the iPhone 7 yesterday. They made headlines for dropping the standard headphone jack and including a proprietary set of earbuds that Apple calls EarPods, among other new features for the much-anticipated phone. Apple will start taking preorders tomorrow, while the sale of the new phones will take place on September 16th.

    On the first day of sales, it’s almost guaranteed that ads will pop up online promising great deals for the iPhone 7. With the price of the iPhone starting at $649 and topping off at $969 there will more than likely be online ads promising great deals. As always, if something sounds too good to be true it probably is. More than likely these ads will be trying to separate you from your money without having the payoff of receiving an iPhone. Remember, if someone asks you to wire them the payment, you’ll be out of your money and won’t be getting an iPhone.

    If you’re that much of an Apple devotee, your best bet is to get the phone the old-fashioned way. You can either keep refreshing your browser tonight until the preorders go live or camp out in line at the Apple store next week. Just as in life, there are no shortcuts to an iPhone.

  • Geebo 9:59 am on September 7, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , brain trainers, luminosity   

    Can you really train your brain online? 

    Can you really train your brain online?

    If you’ve ever listened to a number of podcasts, you may notice that a lot of them have the same advertisers. A few years ago one of those advertisers was a product called Luminoisity. You could hardly listen to any show on the internet without hearing an ad for Luminosity, that promised to increase your brain function with its series of mental exercises. Of course the service wasn’t free and ‘brain function’ is a vague enough term that’s difficult to quantify.

    Apparently the Federal Trade Commission had the same opinion as they’ve cracked down on these services and apps that promise to ‘train your brain’ with Luminosity allegedly being the biggest offender. At one point, the FTC says, Luminosity was implying that there program could ward off mental decline or improve brain function after a something like a stroke. This has resulted in millions of dollars in refunds to customers.

    Studies on the subject have had differing results. Some claim that the programs have shown a slight increase in IQ while others have said it’s nothing more than a placebo effect. While your results may vary, as they say, it might be wise to avoid any programs like this that cost money and promise vague benefits. Today’s brain training apps and programs may just be the modern-day version of snake oil.

  • Geebo 12:22 pm on September 6, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: finland, , northern lights   

    Is this the world’s ‘coolest’ job? 

    Is this the world's 'coolest' job?

    Geebo is always here to help you find a job, and don’t forget to include a complete resume, but a Finnish hotel has opening for what some are calling the world’s ‘coolest’ job.

    The reason for the quotes around coolest is because the job takes place in the subzero of the Finnish countryside. However the job itself is also pretty cool in the other sense of the world as well. The hotel is made completely out of ice and the position requires you to work an 11:30 pm to 6:30 am outside for most of your shift. The official job description is Northern Lights spotter. Your duty will be to remain out in the cold on your shift and wait for the Aurora Borealis to present itself. It would then be your responsibility to inform the guests that the Northern Lights were in effect. You’ll have to find your own lodging however, but considering the hotel is made out of ice that may not be a bad idea.

    Applications are being accepted up to the 11th so grab your passport and brush up on your Finnish and pack your warm clothes for this possible once in a lifetime experience.

  • Geebo 6:31 pm on September 2, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Backpage loses free speech argument in bid to keep alleged sex trafficking records private 

    Backpage loses free speech argument in bid to keep alleged sex trafficking records private

    In case you haven’t been following the story of Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer, it’s been a long and sordid one. Late last year, Mr. Ferrer was subpoenaed to appear before the US Senate in order to testify about Backpage’s alleged role in online sex trafficking. Virtually thumbing his nose at Congress, Mr. Ferrer failed to appear, claiming that business in Amsterdam was more pressing. This led to the senate not only holding Backpage and Ferrer in contempt, but they were the first entities to be sued by the Senate in over 20 years in an attempt to gain access to Backpage’s internal records. Since the controversy surrounding Backpage started, they’ve always claimed that they are immune from prosecution under the First Amendment.

    Last month a federal judge rejected Backpage’s argument and ordered them to turn over their internal records. These records may contain evidence that Backapge edited prostitution ads so they would appear legal. Backpage was given a stay to make a case for themselves, but today the apopeals court found Backpage’s argument lacking and reinstated the judge’s order. This means that Backpage has 10 days to turn over all of their records to the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. The judge who initially ruled had previously stated that if this meant every email that Backpage had than so be it.

    This could be the beginning of the end for the controversial classifieds site. It’s been claimed that not only does Backpage make the majority of its money from prostitution ads, but that they’re also responsible for 82% of all online prostitution in the US. Today’s ruling was not a blow against free speech, this was a victory for the freedom of all the woman and children who have been, and currently still are, sold into sexual slavery on Backpage.

  • Geebo 9:58 am on September 2, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , epipen, , ,   

    Online Epipen sales could be dangerous 

    Online Epipen sales could be dangerous

    I’m sure by now that most of you have heard about the controversy surrounding the pharmaceutical company Mylan and how they’ve been accused of price gouging for the life saving Epipens. For those who may not know, Epipens are injections that contain the drug epinephrine which is used to save the lives of those who suffer from extreme allergies like those to food or bees. It prevents the patient from going into what’s known as anaphylactic shock. The injectors used to be affordable but recently, Mylan has increased the price of the life saving medication to the point where it’s become too expensive for many of those with the sensitive allergies.

    Unfortunately, when crises like this arise, there are always those who try to take advantage of the situation. Epipens have started appearing online for sale on less than scrupulous marketplaces. This is not only illegal, it’s also dangerous. Let’s not forget that Epipens are a drug and should only be prescribed by a doctor. If you were to buy any Epipens online you could be risking the health of the patient if it’s not the right prescription for the patient. That’s not even mentioning that there could be fake Epipens being sold that could contain no medicine or some substance that’s either harmful or ineffective, much like the products sold by overseas pharmaceutical mills.

    While Mylan’s alleged price gouging may be seen as detestable, it’s not worth risking your own life by bypassing your doctor.

  • Geebo 10:28 am on September 1, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ride sharing, Uber   

    Google set to take on Uber and will probably win 

    Google set to take on Uber and will probably win

    Google has recently made public their own plans to start a ride sharing service not too dissimilar from Uber. Rather than have a fleet of drivers, the Google program will have volunteers who will drive people going in the same direction as them, so it’s more like a hitchhiking program than a ride sharing program, but it still cuts into Uber’s market share and reportedly at a lower price.

    Normally, this would be a good thing as competition usually breeds innovation, that’s not always the case when it comes to the search giant, they usually have a more of a scorched earth policy. Think of all the products that Google got into late in the game like search, email and maps. They took these products that many others had been doing for years, perfected them, and crushed the competition. No one uses Altavista or Mapquest anymore, and when Gmail users see that one of their friends still uses Yahoo mail they tend to roll their eyes at the address.

    While Google’s proposed program might vary differently from Uber’s it could only be a matter of time before Google perfects the ride sharing experience and Uber becomes the butt of tech based humor, much like MySpace became after the dawn of Facebook.

  • Geebo 10:01 am on August 31, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Analogue Nt mini, ,   

    Would you buy a $449 NES? 

    Would you buy a $449 NES?

    The Analogue Nt mini

    I have fond memories of my original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) video game console. I remember countless hours spent with my friends playing Super Mario Bros. and Tecmo Bowl, while also putting epic hours playing the initial installment of Final Fantasy. I also had not so fond memories of the popular system. I’m sure those of us who were around remember blowing into the cartridges to try to get them to work, even though that did more harm than good. I also remember shoving in a cartridge on top of another cartridge to get a game to work.

    Now, yes in 2016, a company called Analogue has made what may be considered the ultimate NES system. The Analogue Nt mini is a modern update of the original NES that is not only made out of brushed aluminum but is capable of being played on today’s HDTVs. The only thing you need to provide are the actual NES cartridges from 30 years ago and the $449 it costs to actually buy the system. Also due to the fact that the Analogue Nt mini is made from some original NES parts supplies may be limited.

    While this might be on a lot of gamers’ wishlists, not too many of us still have all our NES cartridges. I sold all of mine so I could buy the Super Nintendo. However, I know plenty of hardcore gamers that have either kept their collection or have amassed a collection over the years that would make the Analogue Nt mini a perfect addition to their collection.

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