Friday, December 21, 2012

Register Now!

Starting September 20, I’m teaching my popular class on writing and selling the YA novel via Class includes lectures and critiques nf your first three chapters, plus query letter. learn more here.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Studying Portrait Lighting with a Mannequin Head

A few weeks ago I decided I needed to study light direction more closely. I've since noticed that the photographers I admire consistently have good highlight and shadow patterns on the faces of their subjects, something that I didn't really notice before. I was trying to figure out the ideal positions for lights to produce classic portrait patterns and had a difficult time with self-portrait experiments. I did try taking test shots of my wife and child to analyze highlight and shadow patterns but it wasn't easy, and my wife found it annoying. I finally decided I needed to get a mannequin head. In some ways, I thought a mannequin head would be better than even a real subject (even one with infinite patience) because the head wouldn't move and therefore would be easier to study.

Monday, November 26, 2012

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The College Of The Future

So, if you're like me you went to college, drank too much and then got expelled. What did I have to show for all my hard work? A mountain of debt (about $30,000). Now, I was a decent student don't get me wrong. However, dry campus plus kegger in the dorm equals academic probation. A little known equation I learned the hard way. Ever since that fateful day I have been committed to earning an education on my own accord for free. I'm not alone though roughly one out of five Americans are in debt due to student loans and the costs associated with earning a college education are rising. Hope is not all lost, however, thanks to a number of online sites like Khan Academy, Coursera, Udacity, and EDx who offer free online classes taught by some of the world's leading professors from top universities.

The style of all of these vary greatly and each has their own strengths and weaknesses. Unfortunately, none of these have a complete course schedules or offer accreditation but many are working towards this. The Khan Academy, which has traditionally focused on Math, is expanding into Art, History and the Humanities. EDx, which started as MITx, joined with Harvard and most recently added UC Berkley and The University of Texas to its roster of Universities and offers classes from these schools. The scope of all of these sites are expanding greatly. In addition to offering video lectures EDx and Udacity offer course material and problem sets.

Khan Academy may have been the first to implement free online education but most certainly won't be the last. Recently Coursera and EDx has been of some particular note. I myself have just enrolled myself into three classes: CS550x: Introduction To Computers from EDx, Valuation & Investing from Khan Academy, and EP245: How To Build A Startup from Udacity. Throughout my next semester I will me giving you guys some updates into my progress. So far, I like the EDx setup the best; it offers course materials, syllabus, lectures, problem sets, tests, a final and I feel like it offers a more complete class offering than say Khan which mostly just provides videos and some tutorials with math. I will reserve my judgement until I finish my classes and will offer a brief overview as I go along.

I think this is just what our education system needs. Not just collegiate education but primary and secondary education as well. With the advances in technology I hope to see this integrated into more classrooms. Some teachers are actually using some of the Khan lectures in classrooms and their have been a lot of talks about 21st century education especially in developing countries. I hope my studeis go well and I hope that in the future these new free offerings from top educators can set the standard for education to come. As always, I would love to hear your opinion especially if you are an educator. What do you think the future holds for education?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

YouTube Going Viral In Europe

In a bid to expand their user base and capitalize on the success of original content in the US, YouTube is expanding into Europe with 60 new channels. The channels will largely be celebrity and personality driven with a couple large exceptions. The BBC and a few other large European Media Conglomerates will get their own channels to help push their own original content. Last year YouTube launched some 100 channels in the US in a successful bid to push their appeal past viral hits which have made the site popular.

YouTube has seen huge gains since the launch of their new channels in the US and advertise something for everyone from parenting and cooking to music, sports and comedy. The push has been a key development for YouTube in attracting greater ad revenue. With the success of the current channels and the likely success of those in Europe, YouTube could continue to deal a larger blow to cable and satellite providers as networks and viewers continue to embrace the digital revolution without them. It is reported that YouTube viewers watched 4 billion hours of original content a month. YouTube has also stated that it wishes to fund content creators in the over 49 nations where YouTube is present.

The company states it wants to move away from low quality user generated viral videos and into more professional content that can build sustained audiences. This is already opening huge doorways for networks like the BBC, FOX, CBS and others. This blog itself has its own YouTube channel! As of writing this we are in the process of developing our first video which will be released this weekend on YouTube and on Geeked Out Future as well so look forward to that. As always, what do you think about this? Feel free to comment, I’m always interested in hearing what my viewers think.YouTube Going Viral In Europe

Monday, October 8, 2012


Due to our ever constant work in keeping a fresh and up-to-date site chock full original content Geeked Out Electronics and Sister sites Geeked Out Politics and Future Shock have combined to bring you all new content, a new layout, and a new name Geeked Out Future. Throughout the week we will be working out the kinks and revamping the site to provide new and original content. we will also be expanding our content to include weekly podcasts and video.  We hope you enjoy and as always go forth and Geek!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Pirate Bay Down But Not Out

Popular torrent site The Pirate Bay is down again. Over the last year the site has suffered numerous attacks in an attempt to shut down the site. Other sites such as Demonoid and MegaUpload suffered similar fates before ultimately being shut down. Will The Pirate Bay suffer a similar fate? Pirate Bay is currently down but promises to be up and running in a week. There have been multiple attempts at thwarting the site in the last year, including a DDoS attack, to no avail. Each time The Pirate Bay bounces back. The site has even dodged legal bullets in its home country of Sweden. The Pirate Bay claims it is currently down due to a power outage, the remains to be seen as torrent geeks and downloaders the world over commence to freaking out.

Over the Summer the Pirate Pay was targeted by a particularly nasty DDoS,  distributed-denial-of-service, attack and was down off and on. The attacks were over June, July and August respectively. According to the hacker group Anonymous the attacks were likely perpetrated by the MPAA, RIAA, or a government agency. On August 8 the Ukranian government blocked the site. So with the most recent attacks it is natural for geeks the world over to suspect the worst. Fortunately, The Pirate Bay's home country of The Netherlands has mostly allowed the torrent server to continue operating. The most recently it is reported the Pirate Bay only suffered a power outage which took the site down. Suck on that RIAA! Torrent freak reports the site will be up and running in a week.

Pirate Bay Down But Not Out

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Next Space Race

Since I was a little boy I've always been fascinated by the Moon. I think it has always been one of my greatest lifes ambition to visit our closest celestial nieghbor. We may be closer today to those dreams than ever before. If anyone believed the predictions of futurists after Neil Armstrong's landing on the Moon, we would all be living on Moon colonies and vacationing in space by 1985. So what happened? Why are we no closer to these goals? After many successful Moon landings, it seems the U.S. kind of gave up. That is all about to change. China already has plans in the works to make their first journey to our closest satellite. Additionally scientists are discussing possibilities of large scale moon bases equipped with telescopes and supercomputers on the Moon. The next generation of space entrepreneurs all seem poised to stake their claims on Earth's Moon.

 China recently unveiled a five-year plan for putting astronauts on the moon, which would make it the first nation to visit since the U.S. last set foot there some 40 years ago. "China will conduct studies on the preliminary plan for a human lunar landing," according to the state council, also calling for deep-space exploration of other planets and asteroids. Though there is no deadline for the launch the announcement is seen as an official declaration of China's lunar goals. China is also building its own prototype space station, the Tiangong 1, before construction of a Mir-class station. It has already mapped the moon with the Chang'e-1 lunar probe, and the Shenzhou-9 docked with Tiangong-1 in June. "Since 2006, Long March rockets have accomplished 67 successful launches, sending 79 spacecraft into planned orbits and demonstrating noteworthy improvement in the reliability of China's launch vehicles." Although the space program is backed by the People's Liberation Army, the government asserts the program is entirely peaceful: "China always adheres to the use of outer space for peaceful purposes, and opposes weaponization or any arms race in outer space."

Forget the U.S. data crunch. NASA admits their is an impending data crunch in space with the amount of data being processed by various satellites, shuttles and space stations the data traffic will become to much to handle. Enter Ouliang Chang, USC graduate student, who has developed a plan to solve this crisis by placing a supercomputer on the Moon to alleviate the coming crunch. The plan is likely to be vastly expensive and would be the most expensive supercomputer ever built. He is not alone, however, many scientists are advocating for an increased scientific presence on the satellite. NASA scientists are advocating placing Telescopes on the Moon. They say the absence of an atmosphere on the moon would allow astronomers to peer deeper into space than currently can be allowed. The base would even have advantage over satellites viewing into space as it would be much easier to repair and upgrade a telescope in a fixed location.

If their is money to be made someone somewhere is likely looking to profit. The Moon is no exception. Helium-3, also called tralphium, is widely sought for use as fuel in fusion generators. Helium-3 is extremely rare on Earth, but guess where it can be found readily? If you guessed the moon, bingo. Helium-3 is said to be three times less corrosive than hydrogen which would enable to fusion generators to run off the fuel three times longer. The possibilities this holds for making fusion energy a viable energy alternative could be huge. The results for those to capitalize off this would also be huge. The burgeoning private space industry could also be positively affected with increased travel to the moon. Already companies like Space X contract space flights to the ISS for the US government but as commercial development on the moon expands it grows the potential for their profit as well. Even James Cameron, Avatar Movie Director, seems ready to jump in, his project Planetary Resources has its sites on mining asteroids and possibly even the moon.

All this is, granted, years away but it seems the ideas are beginning to come together to start a major push for human interests on the moon. It was commercial and government interests that launched European exploration into the new world it will likely be a partnership between science, government and business that will launch our human civilization into the 21st century and begin our human transpermitaztion into space. 
The Next Space Race

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Factory of the Future

 The world is getting smaller. Technology has made our world faster, cheaper more responsive to change and, you guessed it,  smaller. Behold the new face of manufacturing the 3-D printer. Now, the 3-D printer has been around for a while, however, with recent advancements in 3-D printing technology the printer is cheaper and more effective. early models could only form 3-D models of resins and plastics, new models can print metals like steel, silver and even materials like ceramic and wood. In the future every mass produced object from cars to plastic key chains to furniture could be manufactured using 3-D printing technology. Traditional manufacturing used a method of subtractive processing where as materials where taken away i.e. drilling, molding etc,. What makes 3-D printing so exciting is it cheapens the process by using additive processing by where by layer of layer of material is formed to make a three dimensional model. This process removes the need for assembling parts from individual processes. For example an entire car could just merely be printed rather than each individual part be molded and then put together; no parts, no rivets, just one whole piece. Any entrepreneur with just a three dimensional design, and a few thousand bucks, could manufacture a product with little to no help.

This technology is cheap. The average 3-D printer costs about $1500 to $5000. Compare that to the average piece of factory equipment and you can see why the technology is so promising. Literally anything can be made with just a 3-D computer design. In fact recently a gunsmith manufactured an AR-15 with a 3-D printer. This huge leap in scientific advancement has many over-arching repercussions to consider. One being the manufacture of weapons by anyone in the privacy of their own home, Ted Kaczynski 2020? Furthermore, where will these leave the worlds unskilled labor force if manpower is no longer needed due to the ease of production. Businesses are becoming smaller and smaller, like the rest of our world, and with the evolution of business and manufacturing many will have to adapt greatly to overcome. This new technology opens the door for a great many of possiblities both good and bad I think it will be interesting to watch it's development.                                                   
Factory of the Future

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Coming Mobile Business Revolution

Mobile is changing everything. From the time we wake up, to the time we go to bed we are constantly using our mobile devices. In many ways they have become an extension of ourselves. Not only is this mobile revolution changing the way we live it is changing the way we do business. You can just look at the app market which in the last few years has become a multi-billion dollar business. Furthermore, many businesses, namely those monetizing through advertising, are struggling to stay above water in combating the growing trend. Even companies like Facebook are struggling to define their place in a  growing mobile market.

My day started like most anyone else. My phone's alarm sounded, waking me up to my favorite Bowie song. I quickly jumped out of bed hit my workout app and started today's days routine. Afterwards, I jumped in the shower while listening to my "shower" playlist, mostly motivational gems like "Eye of the Tiger." I got the kids ready and ate, while scrolling through my Twitter and looking for news. We checked the bus schedule through the Columbia Transit site and the kids played an educational app while we waited for the bus. Your day may have started slightly different but with one theme uniting us, our mobile devices have begun to define who we are. Our interests, our work, our day to day activities are all directly reflected through our phones and the apps we use on a daily basis.

This mobile business revolution with its focus on apps has become big money for a great many of businesses, but has shaken up even one time industry leaders and forced them to adapt to survive. Facebook is a major player that has been adversely effected.  The app industry is slated to become a two billion dollar industry in 2012, a hefty feat considering it is only a two year old concept. Many of these apps are raking in money through advertisers fees and paid subscriptions the app gaming company Zynga is slated to be worth $100 million. To put that in perspective it took Google three years to break even and become profitable. Facebook has been one of the largest companies struggling to keep up. Facebook makes the majority of its revenue from ad revenue posting advertisements on it's site. However, Facebook can not effectively advertise on the smaller screen of mobile devices and with a majority of people now accessing their Facebooks from a mobile device this makes a huge problem for the site to remain profitable.

So, how can businesses stay afloat and capitalize on this growing market? Companies need to become mobile. Just like companies in the late 90's and early 2000's moved to websites to stay relevant companies in the 10's need to develop apps or in the least optimize their websites to be mobile browser friendly and optimize to advertise while still being user friendly. Technology is moving at such a fever pace no one is safe from the effects of stagnation if Facebook does not quickly and effectively find a way to capitalize on the growing mobile revolution they may to find themselves in the anal's of history. 
The Coming Mobile Business Revolution

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Next Big Identity Threat

If you're the average person your phone holds your life. Schedules, appointments, reminders, personal pictures, notes, your favorite music, banking information, etc; New features being championed by credit card companies would even turn your phone into a credit card. This has made the cell phone a prime target for hackers and identity thieves alike. Most phones, however, offer little in the way of security make your phone a prime target.

If you're like me you have apps galore. Everything from Facebook and Twitter to Evernote, Pandora and everything in between. Most of us live our lives off our phones. From the alarm that wakes us up in the morning to the playlist that puts us to sleep at night. So much of our identity is stored to our phones and identity thieves want access. With many phones connecting directly to our content with out passwords for easy access, a cell phone in a thief or hacker's hands could be devastating.

What's more cell phone providers, credit card companies, Google and Paypal are rushing to push apps which could potentially give thieves direct access to our bank accounts. MasterCard, Citibank and Google have teamed up to bring you Google Wallet , which works anywhere that accepts MasterCard Paypass and would allow you to swipe your phone just like a Paypass card. AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile also have a similar app Isis in the works. These all work on what is called a NFC, near field communication, chip. The technology does seem like a promising development for the future of commerce, however, with few firewalls on phones to prevent catastrophe it may not prove to be viable.

The smart phone killed the phone as we once knew it. When cell phones first become popular most people had it glued to their ears or spent their time frantically texting away. However, with the rise of the data revolution many users spend much more time on the internet on their phones than actually talking to people. In fact most of us spend more time talking to our friends via facebook on our phone than actually directly talking our texting them. Many developers had that in mind and many operating systems are dangerously without protection. Like computers you can buy virus protection for your mobile device but few people actually do. Which leaves the devices open for security breeches. With added security issues mobile developers should evolve to take greater steps to provide security for their customers but if not people need to take security into their own hands. You have been warned.

Tell me what you think of this article below. If you like it or any of my other blog posts please subscribe to my blog. I am always willing to take suggestions for future content. If you'd like to see something on here feel free to message me. Thanks!

The Next Big Identity Threat

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Kinect Sesame Street allows Kids to Interact With Show

Ever watched your kid jump and down and talk at your TV during Sesame Street like Elmo and company are really listening? Well, now they are. Microsoft and Sesame Street have teamed up to bring Kinect Sesame Street to kids across the nation. The plan is to uses the  Kinect for Xbox 360 to allow children to interact with the show. Instead of merely watching kids will be allowed to actively answer questions, communicate and interact with what is going on in the show. This could help be a boon for Sesame Street which is using the device to develop more interactive content for their television programming. The current Kinect Sesame Street offers only episodes from last season but will offer more episodes in the future and the shows direction will move towards more interactive content. The use of the Kinect for Sesame Street could have further implications for other children's programming and classrooms as a whole.

The Kinect Sesame Street allows children to communicate with what they are seeing in ways they never have before. The program, which is available next week, allows kids to throw balls back and forth with Elmo, count coconuts on with Grover, even communicate with on screen characters who react to what the child says. Sesame Street already has a host of apps, but this will be their first attempt at integrating their television content with your child's interactions.

What Sesame Street hopes to accomplish with this is an active learning environment for your child. With the television being a passive medium many children do not retain information by simply watching. However, through the act of participating with these programs the children are opened up to a more effective learning environment. Other educational programs could soon follow suit. Nat Geo WILD also has a plan in the works.

The impact could reach beyond television and into the classroom. The technology could allow for more advanced subjects to be taught through one-on-one interactive learning allowing individual students and classrooms to receive hands on interactive education. What are your thoughts? Is this something you would buy for your child and what do you think the further implications of this could be?

Kinect Sesame Street allows Kids to Interact With Show

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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Nintendo's New TVii Puts Google TV On Notice

Nintendo has just released word of its new WiiU console and already pre-orders for the system are selling out. That's because once again Nintendo has out done itself and changed the way we interact with video games, even entertainment as a whole. The new Tvii for WiiU blows Google's Google TV out of the water by successfully integrating TV and Internet in a unique and user friendly experience. This development is huge and is likely the reason WiiU is already selling like hotcakes. The WiiU will come in two different specifications.One a white 8 GB device retailing at 299.99; the other a black 32 GB device retailing at 349.99. As can be seen above the WiiU comes with a tablet like controller that features a touchscreen. Like the Wii controllers this controller uses motion control and for multiplayer the Wii nunchuck controllers can still be used. The new Tvii feature, however, is truly what sets the device apart. Tvii integrates Hulu, Netflix, Tivo and your current cable providers content into one searchable location and then plays it on your television. No changing inputs required and works no matter who your cable provider may be. Tivo, as of right now may be the only DVR that Nintendo is working with, however, Nintendo indicates that may soon change. To show furthermore that they had pulled out all of the stops, while watching your favorite show, movie or sporting event the WiiU controller displays information and stats about what you are watching. This feature is most impressive when watching sports, giving you a breakdown of stats field position and other games. It even categorizes games in order of your personal preference. In all the WiiU looks pretty damn exciting and I personally can't wait to get my hands on one. Tell me what you think. What's your favorite thing about the new WiiU?

Nintendo\'s New TVii Puts Google TV On Notice
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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Space X Launch

  Tuesday morning at 3:44 A.M. Space X rocket, Falcon 9, blasted off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Emotions were riding high prior to launch as Space X's second attempt at a launch proved successful. The Falcon 9 will be delivering a 1000 lb. payload to the International Space Station. This marks a historic event in space flight as this is the first attempt by a privately owned company to pull off a mission into near space. Space X also was the first private company to successfully launch, orbit and recover a space craft. Space X plans to continue it's close work with NASA, with the goal of launching a Martian rover in 2018, as well as some other private companies and wealthy individuals. For a hefty fee individuals will be able to catch a ride on a Space X shuttle to the ISS. Elon Husk has stated his goals for the company are to land one of the companies' spacecrafts on an asteroid as well as eventually putting Humans on Mars and further colonization establishing a future human presence on the planet.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Google Wallet Makes Wallets A Thing Of The Past

In an effort to continually expand their market Google has developed Google Wallet, a cell phone app that turns your cellphone into a wallet. Currently the app only works only for the Sprint network and Nexus phone, however, Google seems poised to expand this, as Cnet has reported LG Optimus Elite Gains Access to the Google Wallet App. The app integrates bank and credit card accounts, namely Citi, MasterCard and Google Prepaid to be purchase items through stores offering Mastercard PayPass. It also allows savings via coupons earned through Google. Though locations and devices are currently limited, Google and other major companies in the financial, telecommunications, and retail industry seem ready to push forward with similar capabilities. Visa recently came to an agreement with the European Company Vodafone which would allow users in Europe to have similar capabilities to the Google Wallet. AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon have also announced a joint venture with Chase, Barclays and Capitol One called Isis which will be those companies' version of the Google Wallet. The technology that makes all this possible is referred to NFC, Near Field Communication  and most major phone carriers have committed to installing the chips into their cellphones in the near future. Not only would something like this permit you to use your phone at terminals accepting it, it would also allow money to be transferred from person to person via mobile devices with the built in chip set. Google pledges that the Google Wallet will be safer than a wallet by requiring passwords and never revealing any personal information on the screen and encryption to block any would be hackers. I myself would like to see this feature integrated with other financial institutions and more touch pay terminals, however, in effort to simplify finances I think the Google Wallet and others will likely complicate the market even more.    

Thursday, May 17, 2012

FBI Looks To Expand Internet Wiretapping

Robert Mueller, Federal Bureau of Investigations Chief, recently appeared before Congress to lobby for expanding the FBI and other law enforcement agencies' wiretapping capabilities. Under the current law, The Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act or CALEA, the telecommunications industry is required to build back doors into their networks to allow law enforcement authorized interception of conversations. Yet, the FBI is still petitioning for greater power. In prepared remarks, FBI General Counsel, Valerie Caproni stated that wiretapping should include, "Web-based e-mail, social networking sites, and peer-to-peer communication technology." Currently, social networking sites like Facebook and peer-to-peer communication services like Skype or Xbox Live are not covered under the legislation. However, in the 1990's when the law was enacted proposals to use similar means to monitor the internet and similar services were rejected. Any amendment to the law would be great deviation from current practices. Spokespeople for the FBI say new legislation will be submitted in hopes that Congress grant the Bureau it's requests for greater access to such sites and applications, forcing the service providers to comply. However, some of these service providers are headquartered outside of the United States and the stretch of Justice Departments arm could be limited. Furthermore, the legislation would be extremely unpopular to the tech industry which had a hand in dismantling support for SOPA and PIPA, laws that sought to force internet providers to block certain websites in attempt to stop online piracy. Further legislation in favor of the bureau is supported by Conservative Republicans; but in an election year and with Democrats, who do not support it,  having control of the Senate the law would likely be dead in the water. I myself, being a strong proponent of personal privacy, think any further legislation would be an over-stepping of boundaries by the FBI and the Department of Justice, as well as, a violation of the power allotted to the Executive Branch of the Federal Government .

FBI Looks To Expand Internet Wiretapping

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Eagle Has Landed

Geeked Out Electronics is now in the early part of phase one in establishing total and complete dominance in the consumer electronics industry. That is we have finally gotten off the ground. With more products to come, my hope is that Geeked Out Electronics will become your premier provider of cutting-edge, high-end electronics at discount prices. Some of the first products we are offering now are The HP Envy 17 and The Samsung D7000 Smart TV through Ebay. The HP Envy 17 features a 3D screen and is on the cutting-edge of laptop capabilities. The one available through my Ebay actually boasts 2TB of hard drive space, 1080p resolution and clocks in at an impressive 2.3GHz using intel's 2nd generation i7 processor. The Samsung Smart TV is a 3D Smart TV, chock full of apps and allowing the complete immersion of 3D technology and measuring 55 inches so no squinting required on this bad boy. Geeks rejoice the future is here and it looks sweet.
The Eagle Has Landed

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Portland Experiments With Chargers For EV's

Students at the University of Oregon might be wondering about what looks like new gas pumps on a campus street. Those aren't gas pumps though, they are quick charging stations for electric vehicle's. They're being released on a section of street on Southwest Montgomery and his been dubbed Electric Avenue. The chargers were manufactured and installed by company Kanematsu and are a joint project by the University, The City and Portland General Electric to discover the effect of charging electric vehicles on the electrical grid. The charger gathers and stores electricity in off-peak hours and releases the energy when the EVs plugin. The pricing is equivalent to 30 using 50 kilowatts during peak hours. The study will extend two years while those involved develop how to move forward with equipping a 21st century power grid in the city and beyond. similar experiments are being conducted around the nation and the rest of the world.
Portland Experiments With Chargers For EV\'s

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Apple Worth More Than Poland

For the first time ever, in early morning trading, Apple's stock (AAPL) value reached over $500 billion. This makes Apple one of only five countries to ever be worth half a trillion dollars. This causes Apple to have a net worth higher than that of several third world countries' GDPs, even such countries as Poland, Belgium, Sweden, Saudi Arabia and Taiwan . Apple even has more cash-on-hand than the United States government. Despite the sheer size of the companies wealth Apple is still one of the world's fast growing companies growing 73% last year, a feat better than any tech company in history and second most of any U.S. company ever. To put this in perspective Apple was only worth $10 billion at the beginning of the last decade. Along with being one of the U.S. markets fastest growing companies, Apple is also relatively undervalued as compared to projected earnings  for 2012, even at it's current $543 per share. Much of this is in part to the companies innovative i-product line. iPods, iPhones, and iPads have set industry standards and are the highest selling among their product lines. Mp3 players were largely unheard of until the release of the ipod. For a look at other things Apple is worth more check out Things Apple Is Worth More Than.
Apple Worth More Than Poland

Monday, February 27, 2012

Mobile World Congress Unveils 41 Mega Pixel Phone

It seems the mobile industry is falling over itself this year to release the most cutting edge phones to date and the results are impressive from 41 megapixel phones to phones with quad-core processors and built-in projectors. The event is The Mobile World Congresses Expo in Barcelona, Spain. The 41 mega pixel phone belongs to cell manufacturing giant Nokia, it is their 808 PureView and boasts technology rival to digital cameras in the thousands of dollars (and here I thought my measly 8 mega pixels was awesome). Priced at about $600 the phone will be released in May. Other ground breaking devices include the Samsung Galaxy Beam which includes a built-in projector, which seems a little overkill but it beats trying to watch movies and YouTube videos on a tiny phone screen. Other groundbreaking technologies include water and shock resistant phones, so no more worries when you drunkenly drop your brand new phone in the toilet...well almost no worries. Many major retailers are also upgrading their Point Of Sale Terminals to include paying simply by a tap of the phone rather than the swipe of a  credit card and keep up to date with all your purchases through a secure app. Tapping is also a major feature being worked on by the people at Google, allowing you to easily trade information by simply bumping phones together be it business cards, songs, games , or anything else. The chip sets are also greatly increasing with many retailers opting for quad-core processing phones putting that laptop you got for ChristmaHanaKwanzikka to shame. So to quote the Professor Brothers "It's Gettin' Sweeter!"
Mobile World Congress Unveils 41 Mega Pixel Phone

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Planetary Alignment Tonight

 So before I leave everyone for the night I thought I mention to those of you who don't already know tonight will be one of the first nights to view the alignment between Mercury, Venus and Jupiter. The event will be visible all over the world. So even if you're reading this in Saudi Arabia, The Philippines, Russia or the U.S. (these just happen to be my biggest audiences) you'll be able to see it. However, if it's a little too cold to watch the event you can see it here as well complete with commentary. On March 5th you'll actually be able to see Mars rising in the East and later on that evening Saturn will be able to be seen. So over the the next few weeks everyone should have a pretty interesting view of the night sky enjoy.
Planetary Alignment Tonight

Court Rules Hard Drive Decryption Violates 5th Amendment

 In a story I've been reporting on for sometime now, a Federal Appeals Court has ruled that forcing the defendant to decrypt their hard drive would be a violation of their 5th Amendment right. Stating that it would be a kin to forcing an individual to release the combination to a safe. This is the first ruling of it's kind and is a win for 21st century civil liberties which, in my view, have been under attack since the beginning of the century.

 The Atlanta court released in a statement:

   "First the decryption and production of the hard drives would require the use of the contents of 'Doe's' mind and could not be fairly characterized to a physical act that would be non-testimonial in nature. We conclude that the decryption and production would be tantamount to testimony by Doe of his knowledge of the existence and location of potentially incriminating files; of his possession, control and access to the encrypted portions of the drives; and of his capability to decrypt the files."

 As of late several similar cases have cropped up and hopefully the Atlanta Appeals court has put the issue to rest. In my mind this seems like a no brainer from a judiciary stand point, a clear cut case of 5th Amendment right. Yet, the judge in the preliminary case decide to violate the rights of said defendant "Doe." I applaud the Atlanta Appeals Court for making the right decision. Now if only a judge could rule against warrantless wiretapping of American citizens as unconstitutional.

Court Rules Hard Drive Decryption Violates 5th Amendment

Friday, February 24, 2012

Your Data: Going To Highest Bidder

If you're logging into a free website chances are you're not the customer. Since the advent of Facebook more and more online companies, especially social networking sites, are using a new found concept to make money. The concept is called data mining. What these companies do is collect your personal information and sell this information to advertisers. The increase in this type of direct style "ad tailored" marketing has actually caused the White House to step in with the Consumer Privacy Bill Of Rights. This, however, does not end the process of these companies using your personal information as a way to monetize their sites and sell your information to advertisers. It just ensures the process is safer and slightly less intrusive. Their are some benefits to tailored ads, like not having to set through ads that do not apply to you. Gone will be the days of me sitting uncomfortably while suffering through another Tampax commercial or listening to Wilfred Brimley talking about his "dibetis." However, in this continuing battle some sites are putting the data mining back in your hands by allowing you to actually monetize your personal information through advertising, how well those work remain to be seen. If you have any comments or reactions I would love to hear them. I leave you with Wilfred Brimley talkin' bout' the 'betes.

Your Data: Going To Highest Bidder

US Military Embraces The Cloud

In the face of budget restrictions the US Army is moving all emails into cloud computing. The measure is in line with a group of other efficiency measures to make a leaner more efficient Armed Forces. The Army has described this a Lean Six Sigma style process. It has been reported that by making this move the Army would be cutting costs of email communication by 75% by moving to a cloud by DISA. Last year Under Secretary of the Army, Joseph Westphal, noted it to be ",especially important for the Army to embrace process improvement methodologies given the declining budgets and the need to do more with less," according to the Army's website. With news of deficits and a poorly performing economy the US Military has been continuing with the goal of attaining a much leaner military, focusing on cost effectiveness. All branches have made similar statements to that of the Under Secretary of the Army and it would not be a surprise if the entire military converted DISA's cloud concept. I for one was witness to much of these cutbacks during my time in the Navy just two years ago.

US Military Embraces The Cloud

Planet May Be Fighting Back Against Global Warming

According to NASA satellite data has shown that the height of clouds over the last decade have continued to decrease. No one is sure, as of yet, what this means for the planet or how it may have been caused. Some have hinted that it could be caused by changing weather patterns. It may even be a planetary mechanism for fighting global warming, as the globe heats clouds get shorter allowing the Earth's atmosphere to release heat faster thus cooling the planet. Again, no one is quite sure these are just a few hypotheses from scientists more data is needed. Over the last ten years the clouds on Earth have shrank about 1% that's roughly about 30 to 40 meters. Leading researcher Roger Davies has said ", While the record is to short to be must be due to a change in the circulation patterns that give rise to cloud formation at high altitude." If it is found that the planet does have mechanisms for maintaining temperature balance the answer may open a Pandora's box of questions as to why and how it does this or how it even knows to regulate weather patterns. Much more data is needed before a deeper understanding of the cause and effect is known.

Planet May Be Fighting Back Against Global Warming

Thursday, February 23, 2012

NSA Warns Of Impending Anons Attack On Grid

You may have heard the hype, Gen. Kieth B. Alexander Director of the NSA claims that famed hacker group Anonymous is planning to hack the American security grid. The question is why now after two years on the scene and why would a self proclaimed "hacktivist" organization seek to attack the infrastructure of the United States. For those of you not familiar with Anonymous, the group is a loosely associated collection of hacker groups who often act in collaboration to disrupt media sites and have been instrumental in online protests around the globe. The meme was originally coined on the 4chan site. Recently Anonymous has been in the news for hacking a FBI email and gaining access to a phone call between the FBI and Scotland Yard. Since 2008 Anonymous has become more and more active in politics and their protests have come to more and more focus on Anti-piracy legislation, the group was instrumental in keeping SOPA and PIPA from being passed. In my personal opinion the group has done nothing to warrant such accusations of conspiring to commit any terrorist acts. I don't see any attacks on American infrastructure anytime soon. This is likely a ploy by the U.S. government to instill fear into citizens of the group. I guess with Al-Queda on it's way out they need another boogeyman to rally people around some other pointless "war," war on drugs, war on terrorism, war on piracy, coming soon war on the American people themselves.

NSA Warns Of Impending Anons Attack On Grid

Taco Bell To Release Doritos Flavored Tacos

In a mind boggling decision, Taco Bell has announced it will release Doritos flavored Tacos starting March 8th. The decision was made in part to boost Taco Bell sales against competition McDonald's and newer competitor Chipotle. Yet, instead of taking the McDonald's route of boosting profits by offering a healthier menu or modeling after Chipotle's trademark of offering wholesome all natural food to it's menu executives at Taco Bell have decided to push Doritos flavored Tacos. That's not to say I don't see the gimmick boosting sales in the immediate term, I myself will likely partake in the new tacos. However, as more and more Americans are becoming increasingly health conscious I think the measure could actually backfire. Taco Bell's branding issue comes from two things and the new Doritos taco is part of it. Taco Bell since the early 80's has been known for having the cheapest fast food prices in the industry but because of it they have often times skipped on quality. Taco Bell has been reported to use low-grade meats, even reports of Kangaroo meat in their tacos, as well as using an excessive amount of filler. If Taco Bell seeks to re-brand their image they need to focus on more quality products. Using identifiable meat and real cheese might be a start. I don't pretend to be some sort of branding expert but I don't see cheap gimmicks and continuing to provide low quality products as solving the company's profitability and competitiveness problems.
Taco Bell To Release Doritos Flavored Tacos

Obama's New Consumer Privacy Bill Of Rights

Today the Obama Administration is set to release it's new Consumer Privacy Bill Of Rights. The "Bill Of Rights" is being billed as a "comprehensive blueprint to protect individual privacy rights and give users more control over how their information is handled." The following is text from within the bill:

1. Individual Control: Consumers have a right to exercise control over what personal data companies collect from them and how they use it. Companies should provide consumers appropriate control over the personal data that consumers share with others and over how companies collect, use, or disclose personal data. Companies should enable these choices by providing consumers with easily used and accessible mechanisms that reflect the scale, scope, and sensitivity of the personal data that they collect, use, or disclose, as well as the sensitivity of the uses they make of personal data. Companies should offer consumers clear and simple choices, presented at times and in ways that enable consumers to make meaningful decisions about personal data collection, use, and disclosure. Companies should offer consumers means to withdraw or limit consent that are as accessible and easily used as the methods for granting consent in the first place.
2. Transparency: Consumers have a right to easily understandable and accessible information about privacy and security practices. At times and in places that are most useful to enabling consumers to gain a meaningful understanding of privacy risks and the ability to exercise Individual Control, companies should provide clear descriptions of what personal data they collect, why they need the data, how they will use it, when they will delete the data or de-identify it from consumers, and whether and for what purposes they may share personal data with third parties.

3. Respect for Context: Consumers have a right to expect that companies will collect, use, and disclose personal data in ways that are consistent with the context in which consumers provide the data. Companies should limit their use and disclosure of personal data to those purposes that are consistent with both the relationship that they have with consumers and the context in which consumers originally disclosed the data, unless required by law to do otherwise. If companies will use or disclose personal data for other purposes, they should provide heightened Transparency and Individual Control by disclosing these other purposes in a manner that is prominent and easily actionable by consumers at the time of data collection. If, subsequent to collection, companies decide to use or disclose personal data for purposes that are inconsistent with the context in which the data was disclosed, they must provide heightened measures of Transparency and Individual Choice. Finally, the age and familiarity with technology of consumers who engage with a company are important elements of context. Companies should fulfill the obligations under this principle in ways that are appropriate for the age and sophistication of consumers. In particular, the principles in the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights may require greater protections for personal data obtained from children and teenagers than for adults.

4. Security: Consumers have a right to secure and responsible handling of personal data. Companies should assess the privacy and security risks associated with their personal data practices and maintain reasonable safeguards to control risks such as loss; unauthorized access, use, destruction, or modification; and improper disclosure.

5. Access and Accuracy: Consumers have a right to access and correct personal data in usable formats, in a manner that is appropriate to the sensitivity of the data and the risk of adverse consequences to consumers if the data is inaccurate. Companies should use reasonable measures to ensure they maintain accurate personal data. Companies also should provide consumers with reasonable access to personal data that they collect or maintain about them, as well as the appropriate means and opportunity to correct inaccurate data or request its deletion or use limitation. Companies that handle personal data should construe this principle in a manner consistent with freedom of expression and freedom of the press. In determining what measures they may use to maintain accuracy and to provide access, correction, deletion, or suppression capabilities to consumers, companies may also consider the scale, scope, and sensitivity of the personal data that they collect or maintain and the likelihood that its use may expose consumers to financial, physical, or other material harm.

6. Focused Collection: Consumers have a right to reasonable limits on the personal data that companies collect and retain. Companies should collect only as much personal data as they need to accomplish purposes specified under the Respect for Context principle. Companies should securely dispose of or de-identify personal data once they no longer need it, unless they are under a legal obligation to do otherwise.

7. Accountability: Consumers have a right to have personal data handled by companies with appropriate measures in place to assure they adhere to the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights.Companies should be accountable to enforcement authorities and consumers for adhering to these principles. Companies also should hold employees responsible for adhering to these principles. To achieve this end, companies should train their employees as appropriate to handle personal data consistently with these principles and regularly evaluate their performance in this regard. Where appropriate, companies should conduct full audits. Companies that disclose personal data to third parties should at a minimum ensure that the recipients are under enforceable contractual obligations to adhere to these principles, unless they are required by law to do otherwise. 
Obama\'s New Consumer Privacy Bill Of Rights