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Friday, November 30, 2012

Helicopter parenting? Dad's homemade drone follows kid to bus stop

This is only the beginning of what will end up becoming a huge Drone war, IMHO

Helicopter parenting? Dad's homemade drone follows kid to bus stop:
Paul Wallich, like any loving dad, dutifully walks his grade-schooler son to the bus stop each morning. He does finds the quarter-mile hike to be a drag, occasionally. His solution? He built a camera-equipped drone that helps him fulfill his parental obligation.Paul Wallich, like any loving dad, dutifully walks his grade-schooler son to the bus stop each morning. He does finds the quarter-mile hike to be a drag, occasionally. His solution? He built a camera-equipped drone that helps him fulfill his parental obligation.

AT&T declared worst wireless service by Consumer Reports

  There are no real surprises in the findings of this report.

AT&T declared worst wireless service by Consumer Reports

Published on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog | shared via feedly mobile

Consumer Reports has published its ranking of cell carriers and AT&T is dead last. The publication surveyed 60,000 cell phone subscribers about their experiences. Unfortunately for AT&T, it did not win a single category. Its overall score was 62 out of 100.

The carrier has been crowned worst major carrier by Consumer Reports in 2009, 2010 and 2011. So there you go.

AT&T declared worst wireless service by Consumer Reports originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Fri, 30 Nov 2012 11:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Three whooping cough baby deaths

This is the worst it has been in decades, yet it is (only) 3 cases. In should think hardly newsworthy!

Three whooping cough baby deaths

Published on BBC News - Home | shared via feedly mobile

Three babies died from whooping cough in October as one of the worst outbreaks in decades continues, figures for England and Wales show.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Microsoft Security Essentials bombs tests, loses AV-Test certificate [feedly]

I have said it before when security essentials was first released...that it was in no way, an antivirus solution. Just like the windows defender itself, it barely does enough to save your computer from malware/spyware and on causes a performance loss. Turning off defender is the first thing I do to any windows 7/8 machine and certainly do not suggest relying on any Microsoft product for security.
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Microsoft Security Essentials bombs tests, loses AV-Test certificate
Microsoft Security Essentials was the only entry to fail AV-Test's certification between September and October -- an embarrasing slip for the once well-regarded virus protection solution. MSSE received a total of 10.5 out of 18 possible points, most notably falling short in zero-day malware attacks. As a point of reference, 11...

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Next Windows may be free, yearly upgrades, possible 2013 launch

With the most recent release of Windows 8 available for an upgrade price of $39.95. I am sure they are well aware of the fact that making it a more cost effective price will be sure to get those who are on the fence about upgrading to make the move. Making it even less expensive, or free will be one way to make sure more people use their O/S.
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Next Windows may be free, yearly upgrades, possible 2013 launch
Tired of using the same operating system for years? Microsoft certainly hopes so. The Redmond-based software maker is hoping "Windows Blue" will change how consumers perceive Windows by introducing frequent, periodic upgrades (e.g. annual releases), akin to Apple's aggressive Mac OS X release schedule.

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How sensitive is the climate to added CO2?

Yes of course the World Bank is going to be worried about this! Pathetic waste of resources for something that doesn't exist!
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How sensitive is the climate to added CO2?

As recent events have shown, even the World Bank is trying to understand the trajectory of future climate changes. Although there are a number of ways of doing this, many organizations rely on a measure called the climate sensitivity. It's a bit rough, but it's simple: it provides a value for the temperature increase we'd expect given a doubling of CO2.

Currently, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change places this value between 2 and 4.5°C, with a most likely value of about 3°C. But a variety of studies have come up with measurements spread around that range, and nailing down the likely upper limit has been a challenge. Now, a large group of researchers has gone through millions of years of data on the Earth's past, incorporating information from a number of past studies. In the end, the group decided that the IPCC estimates are more or less on target.

Adding more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere doesn't drive temperatures in a linear manner. You can think of this in terms of the infrared photons they absorb: each one can only be absorbed once, and the more CO2 molecules you add, the more likely it is that an existing one would have absorbed that photon anyway. As a result, each doubling of carbon dioxide concentrations are expected to have roughly an equivalent impact.

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CBS Newscaster Accidentally Refers to Prince William As 'Douche of Cambridge' On-Air

We all make mistakes, but hopefully a professional journalist is not going to swear or fumble too much when performing a live broadcast. But then again, after listening to it is quite possible this sort of thing can happen!
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CBS Newscaster Accidentally Refers to Prince William As 'Douche of Cambridge' On-Air
While teasing an upcoming segment about the Douche and Duchess—sorry, Duke and Duchess—of Cambridge, a CBS newscaster showed us a glimpse of his foul-mouthed and likely more honest subconscious. Sure, he meant to say "Duke," but his casual chuckle betrays him. "Heh heh," he says to himself and everyone watching CBS 2 at 1 o'clock on a Wednesday. More »

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

No Agenda Newsletter

No Agenda Newsletter!

A short newsletter highlighting some recent discoveries and initiatives of the No Agenda Show. Listen live every Thursday and Sunday at 9:00 AM PST. Always available for download at http;// .
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 No Agenda
Dear Producers and Supporters,
 This upcoming show promises to be a whopper as the fiscal cliff approaches with the promise of an economic collapse unless Congress and the President decide to get off the golf course and get back to work.

In the meantime, your crew never stopped working which meant doing a show on Thanksgiving while other people took time off. The Sunday show after Thanksgiving was the horrible one with few donations and mediocre news to cover along with it.  The double-whammy.

We want to remind you that our value for value model for a show such as this requires that you – our producers – continue to listen, propagate the formula and continue support in every way possible. It is your show. It is done for you. It will help keep you sane. Continue your support by clicking here.
There are some news stories already cropping up that need analysis. The Susan Rice saga continues with McCain now backing off his distrust of her. If the No Agenda thesis is correct and it is actually Hillary trying to derail Rice's career, you should see something new crop up. How about this question: why is Obama even considering this woman for Secretary of State in the first place? Can't he do better than her?

Have you heard about the latest viruses that will apparently kill you and everyone you know? You'll find out more on the Thursday show. Beware!

Finally, the show takes down all the major headlines and John brings in another “sweetened” news report that you won't want to miss.

John C. Dvorak and Adam Curry
 PS We begin our push this week for the end of the world on 12-21-12 by opening a new open donation to celebrate it coming to an end. You can contribute by clicking here.
PPS Or visit the normal donation page here.

Democratic Whoopsy: Kim Jong-Un and Mohamed Morsey Lead Time’s ‘Person Of The Year’ Poll [feedly]

This sort of thing is just getting out of hand. Reporting these days includes absolutely no research. Everything is "alleged" or simply wrong!
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Democratic Whoopsy: Kim Jong-Un and Mohamed Morsey Lead Time's 'Person Of The Year' Poll

The Internet has a hard time taking things seriously and will happily enact silly vengeance on websites daring enough to leave important tasks up to a vote. Time's coveted "Person of the Year" poll has been hijacked by thousands of pranksters who have voted up the not-so democratic icons, North Korea's Kim Jong-Un and Egypt's Mohamed Morsey. The up votes could be legitimate exercise in satire, punishing Time for even floating the idea of those two in a poll next to Obama and brave political dissidents. But, if Morsey–or worse, Kim–actually wins the poll, Time will have egg on its face (both Kim and Morsey have nearly twice the number of votes as 3rd place).

Time's Person of the Year is a heralded tradition in American media, the winner showered with headlines. Last year, Mark Zuckerberg's cover, selected over of Wikileaks' Julian Assange, sparked a political firestorm about privacy and even a Saturday Night Live skit mocking the ironic choice. Suffice to say, each year, Time has the rare honor of choosing a topic for national dialog.

Time's annual poll, which supplements the "Person of the Year" with a Who's Who? list in politics, business, and the arts, has also become a closely watched horse-race.

I'm honored (and surprised!) to be on Time's Person of the Year poll -- please vote and help me make a good showing :)…
 (@marissamayer) November 27, 2012

This year's poll is chock full of admirable names, such as Barack Obama, Marissa Mayer, and political dissident, Malala Yousafzai. Breakout star, Psy, was also awarded with the honor for achieving YouTube's most watched video of all time, Gangnam Style, a catchy pop-tune with a clever subversive message.

Time's criteria for the poll includes people who "most influenced the news this year for better or worse." Hence, the inclusion of Kim Jong-Un, leader of arguably the harshest dictatorship on earth. "Some had hoped that the Switzerland-educated basketball fan, who is believed to be 29 or 30, would change his country's tragic course by rebuilding the economy, fighting hunger or dialing back nuclear gamesmanship. He has not," wrote Time.

Morsey holds Egypt's fragile new democracy in his hands. While there was hope he would lead the beleaguered country into an era of freedom, a recent decision to give himself near dictator-like powers, has given the world a pessimistic pause. Nobel Laureate Mohamed ElBarardei called him the "new pharaoh".

Morsey could be an Abraham Lincoln in disguise and lay down his new powers, but his top ranking on Time's list, along with Un, is a clear message by the Internet that unqualified cultural heroes will not be taken seriously.

This isn't the first time that online voting has gone awry. Online skit comedy website, College Humor, once successfully galvanized its viewers to select the ugliest of Nebraska's choice of license plates, after the state dared to offer up the different designs for a vote. "This isn't a victory for Collegehumor. This is a victory for all of us. Together we pranked the entire automobile-owning population of Nebraska. Congratulations."

Today, it looks like the Internet is establishing a new tradition, and Time is about to get punked.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Why Amazon Is Borrowing $3 Billion (AMZN) [feedly]

You have to spend money to make money and that appears to be exactly what Amazon is about to do!
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Why Amazon Is Borrowing $3 Billion (AMZN)

jeff bezos smiling

Amazon is seeking to raise $3 billion in debt, the Wall Street Journal reports.

And why not? It's paying 0.38 to 0.93 percentage points more than comparable Treasury rates in interest for the bonds, which mature in 3, 5, or 10 years.

As of the last quarter, Amazon had $5.25 billion in cash and short-term securities, and no long-term debt. But it has plenty of uses for that cash: First, its headquarters, which it just agreed to buy for $1.16 billion. Second, its gigantic fulfillment centers, which it is planting across the United States as the old sales-tax regime (where online retailers where exempt from collecting tax) falls apart.

In the '90s, Amazon first generated equal parts cash and controversy by venturing into the debt markets to fund its expansion. Some predicted a debt-fueled death spiral for the then-unprofitable retailer. But since then, it has seized a huge advantage over its competitors by making a bet others weren't willing to make on warehouses that speed goods to shoppers' doorsteps.

Here's the most intriguing thing Amazon could spend the money on: a same-day delivery network in major cities coast to coast.

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Windows 8 PCs Still Throttled By Crapware - Slashdot [feedly]

This is exactly why you will always be better off building your own computer, or getting one built for you!

Why are Android users less engaged than iOS users? [feedly]

It's always about the apps and in this case, the Amazon App for example, since Amazon sales flourished during that big shopping day and there is no Amazon App for android.
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Why are Android users less engaged than iOS users?

Android has raced ahead of iOS in smartphone share but it continues to fall behind in usage and engagement in the U.S. The latest data from IBM on Black Friday shopping traffic underscores just how much iOS outperforms Android. Asymco has some good charts that highlight the engagement gap.

IBM said that 77 percent of mobile traffic on Black Friday came from iOS devices. This despite the fact that Comscore said that Android has 52.5 percent of smartphone subscribers while iOS has 34.3 percent. Some of it comes down to the iPad, which is still the dominant tablet and produces the most traffic compared to iPhones and Android phones. But like the iPhone, the iPad exhibits outsized usage patterns beyond its actual marketshare. Gartner said in the third quarter, iPad shipments have dropped to 50.4 percent. But IBM said it contributed 88 percent of the tablet traffic over the long weekend.

Android engagement, Asymco

This is a pattern than has been in place over the last few years. But now that Android is now the top dog on smartphones marketshare-wise and is eating into the iPad's lead thanks to the Kindle Fire, Nook and other Android tablets, why is iOS still so dominant?

Here are some theories we've gathered from around the web alongside our thoughts:

  • Horace Dediu of Asymco wondered if Android was attracting more late adopters, who were prone to do less with their phones than hardcore smartphone users. But he's not convinced that's the answer. Perhaps, it has more to do with "design considerations" or "user experience flaws or integration."
  • One thought is that Android users are more apt to want things for free, so they're not as likely to shop for things on their devices. We've seen a gap in how Android and iOS users are willing to pay for apps — Android users prefer free apps – but that difference is going down over time.
  • Some Android users are just graduating up from a feature phone and really don't understand all they can do with their device. Considering the declining number of feature phone options, it's possible that people are graduating to cheap Android devices, but just still talk and text on them, something Daring Fireball's John Gruber mentioned before. 
  • Tim Windsor from Digitally Speaking goes a step further, saying that most iOS buyers are specifically buying their devices for the features they can access, while most Android users are just buying what's available to them. Most, he believes, aren't interested in serious computing power.
  • Jason Grisby of Cloud Four recently wrote that the gap doesn't exist when looking at web traffic over cellular. It's only when you examine iOS and Android traffic over Wi-Fi that a usage gap emerges. He believes that Android users might not be aware of the availability of Wi-Fi networks through their device or are in lower income brackets and have less access to Wi-Fi networks.
  • Some people believe there is no gap at the high end when looking top Android devices. The problem is with cheaper and older Android devices, which don't provide as good an experience or are saddled with older versions of Android, which are worse at browsing. It is true there are more cheap Android phones options available, so that might contribute to some of the gap. And a majority of Android users are still on devices running Android 2.0.
  • Apple users are more likely to use apps, which can provide a better user experience. Android users who turn to a browser may not find it as inviting or engaging.
  • It's also possible that shopping data is not an accurate proxy for engagement. NetMarketShare earlier this year said, however, also came up with general browsing data that showed iOS devices have 65 percent of mobile traffic compared to 20 percent for Android.

To be clear, the data we're looking at is from the U.S. only, and it's based primarily on shopping traffic. My theory is that there are people who walk into a cellular store, see only a handful of feature phones available and a salesperson who is heavily pushing Android devices. If they want to walk out with a new phone, it's likely going to be an Android unless they came in already looking for an iPhone. Those people may not be savvy now, but they will get more experienced over time. What's your theories on this Android paradox?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Use the F-word to quickly reach a real person at AppleCare [feedly]

This is very good information which may possibly work at all automated phone systems.. certainly worth a try the next time you are put on hold for 20 minutes or more!
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Use the F-word to quickly reach a real person at AppleCare

Today TNW spotlights a helpful tip (originally posted on Reddit) that can help you get through to a real person faster when calling the AppleCare helpline: drop the F-word.

Like many of us, the Reddit user grew frustrated navigating through the numeric automated telelphone system menu and (perhaps like many of us) began cursing in frustration into the phone. Then something interesting happened: "[The automated voice] cut itself off in mid-sentence, apologized, and in about 10 more seconds I was talking to an Apple tech."

The ability of an automated telelphone system recognizing the F-word isn't a genius invention by Apple, though. It's software built into the third-party Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system used by AppleCare. As TNW points out, IVRs "are often programmed to listen out for certain keywords that might indicate they are about to lose a customer. By monitoring calls and immediately connecting a frustrated caller, the company may be able to reduce the number of complaints [it] receives and retain the caller's custom."

But for those of you reading this who now think you have a hotline to a real AppleCare representative the second you call, you might want to think again. Despite the ability of the IVR to recognize profanity, shouting "F*CK!!!" every time you call AppleCare may not get you the results you hope to get for a few reasons. First, you look like a jerk with anger issues. Second, another Reddit user suggests that doing so won't always take you to someone who can answer your questions. Instead it just might transfer you to an AppleCare "call director" who will apologize for making you wait and then transfer you back to the queue -- something that might have you screaming "F*CK!" all over again.

[Image by Sebastian Fritzon]

Use the F-word to quickly reach a real person at AppleCare originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Mon, 26 Nov 2012 11:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Why is shopping via iPad and iPhone outpacing Android? - Apple 2.0 - Fortune Tech

My guess is because there is an Amazon App for IOS whereas the Android
doesn't have one and has to shop on Amazon via the normal web method.

'Destructive beetle altered climate of Canada by one degree' - Indian Express

For those of you that believe in Climate Change....

‘Microsoft Has Failed’ [feedly]

I completely agree with this! I personally switched to using Google Docs at least 6 years ago and rarely find myself needing any office products. I have been using Mac products for about 8 years and only find the need for parallels on my MacPro for the LOGMEIN IGNITION app since this is not offered for OS/X. With the most recent version of Parallels I opted to not upgrade simply because I just don't use windows the way I used to.
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'Microsoft Has Failed'

Compelling argument by Charlie Demerjian at SemiAccurate that Microsoft has already entered its death spiral:

The problem is that if you are locked in with a choice of 100% Microsoft or 0% Microsoft, once someone goes, it isn't a baby step, they are gone. Once you start using Google Docs and the related suites, you have no need for Office. That means you, or likely your company, saves several hundred dollars a head. No need for Office means no need for Exchange. No need for Exchange means no need for Windows Server. No need for Office means no need for Windows. Once the snowball starts rolling, it picks up speed a frightening pace. And that is where we are. The barriers to exit are now even more potent barriers to entry.

Should We Make Bankers Swear An Oath? [feedly]

Although it may help,there is no way have an oath,which is nothing more then a verbal contract, will not be broken. Tougher laws need to be in place for bankers but that will never happen because we all know they are what makes the world go round!
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Should We Make Bankers Swear An Oath?

game of thrones oath

Douglas Flint, the chairman of HSBC, is pushing for bankers to take an oath similar to that sworn by doctors as part of radical plans to overhaul the way the profession is viewed in the wake of the financial crisis and successive banking scandals.

He is calling for the oath to be administered by an independent body designed to police the banking industry and is understood to have discussed the prospect with his counterparts at the UK's other big banks.

The idea of an oath — similar to the Hippocratic oath traditionally sworn by doctors — was raised in 2010 as part of a cross-party pre-election commission on banking whose members included Vince Cable, now the Business Secretary, but was not followed up.

Mr Flint, the bank's finance director for 15 years before being elevated to chairman in 2011, is working with the British Bankers Association (BBA) on the idea.

The association has set up a working committee to look at the creation of a new professional body complete with a code of standards.

Mr Flint is believed to be of the view that the body must be independent of the industry — and of the BBA — if it is to be credible. He also believes that, working in tandem with the Financial Services Authority (FSA), it should have the ability to strike off bankers if they have broken the code of standards.

Under the FSA's present rules very few bankers have been censured.

Mr Flint is understood to have pointed colleagues to the principles for good business conduct devised by Lord George, the former Governor of the Bank of England, in 2004.

The first of eight principles sets out the need "to act honestly and fairly at all times when dealing with clients, customers and counter-parties".

Mr Flint has also been busy in his role at HSBC, where it is understood he has begun sounding out future non-executive directors as he continues to refresh its board.

Following the recruitment of Joachim Faber, the former chief executive of Allianz, and John Lipsky, the former deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund, earlier this year, the bank's chairman is looking for other new candidates.

An HSBC spokesman declined to comment.

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Full moon doesn't trigger madness | TG Daily [feedly]

Coyotes and Wolves don't howl at the moon for just no reason. I have personally witnessed a change of attitude in people when there is a full moon. And what about all those werewolves out there, I am pretty sure they would have something to say about this philosophy.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Why Passbook could join Ping in the Apple graveyard

Although there were a few items during Steve's reign, I would agree that Ping is just another dud for Apple and it only seems like it won't be improving any time soon.
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Why Passbook could join Ping in the Apple graveyard

This fall, the launch of Passbook marked Apple's first foray into the crowded arena of alternative mobile payment schemes. Considering its well-founded reputation for producing disruptive tech, it's tempting to assume Passbook is destined to do the same. And there's certainly an argument to be made that the company has some distinct advantages in its favor – not least, a fanatical and still-growing iOS user base of tens of millions in the U.S. alone.

But a few high-profile failings have shown that the company is indeed mortal, most recently with the high-profile implosion of Maps, or the ill-fated Ping – Apple's half-hearted attempt to shove social networking into iTunes that was mercifully cut short (in favor of integrating Facebook and Twitter).

Before weighing in on Passbook's fate, let's first look back at some other potentially disruptive digital commerce technologies in the past –both successes and failures – to determine what crucial elements will be required to hit critical mass with consumer adoption.

The Losers

Let's start with the losers. Remember Flooz? (No? Exactly!) The late '90s dotcom paid precious startup cash to Whoopi Goldberg to promote an alternative currency to be used just on the Internet, but it was offering a solution to a problem that didn't yet exist. The need for an alternative form of payment online was simply not clear to consumers at the time. It failed to attract merchants and users and was eventually shut down after about two years amid a bankruptcy filing.

More recently Facebook – certainly another obvious pick for assured front-runner status – killed off its own high-profile foray into virtual currency. After three years of trying, the company unceremoniously shut down Facebook Credits in June, opting instead to focus on beefing up its payments capabilities.

And then there's Google's efforts to do away with the physical wallet. While it's too early to dub it a loser, the company has been tight-lipped with data around transactions processed via Google Wallet. And continued media coverage points to slow adoption, and leads to questions around its necessity. While the wallet-free concept is appealing on the surface, the rub it seems is that the effort on the part of the merchant is complicated and costly.

The Winners

PayPal was among the earliest contenders to seize on a market opportunity that many major credit-card companies and traditional commerce outlets missed (or underestimated). By providing an easy way for people to pay online without having to sacrifice time or security, PayPal offered a simple solution for a problem that was emerging alongside the rise in e-commerce and especially online peer-to-peer marketplaces like eBay. PayPal will now try to extend its reach offline having partnered with Discover Financial Services and multiple retailers, including Home Depot and Barnes & Noble.

Another standout market transformer – which, notably, primarily benefits merchants – is Square. Using a postage stamp-sized dongle, Square has significantly expanded the offline commerce market by enabling anyone with a smartphone to sell anything, almost anywhere and anytime. Its traction has been measurable, and it recently announced that it is already processing more than $10 billion in payments a year, with some three million merchants using its service. A recent deal with Starbucks should help propel user adoption dramatically.

If it's not broken…

The key with both winners is ease and convenience — both PayPal and Square require little effort on the user's part, but offer high value in return. PayPal builds on something most people are already using, namely online commerce , but adds the critical element of security.

And Square requires a fraction of the investment on the part of the merchant compared to traditional POS card readers – which can cost $10,000 to $15,000 – and actually makes the transaction easier for all parties involved. Let's also not underestimate the appeal of the 'cool' factor with Square. As an example, take your local food truck, which now has access to cutting-edge technology enabling it to deal with potentially more customers; consumers benefit by simply being able to quickly sign their bill with a finger and receive an instant email receipt. Because of these ease-of-use advantages, Square has exploded while mobile wallets have at best lingered, with none poised to catch on.

Recently, I attended the Money 2020 conference in Las Vegas where attendees and speakers were providing a reality check on the state of mobile commerce. In one session, Jennifer Schulz, head of global product strategy at Visa, summed up the issue succinctly: "There won't be mass adoption of mobile payments until there is a better consumer experience beyond the card." I couldn't have said it better myself. (Full disclosure: I work at edo, a card-linked offers provider).

Duplicative vs. Daring

Companies looking for innovative ways to engage with consumers, especially around mobile payments, should first and foremost focus on building solutions that are easy for all parties involved  ̶  consumers, banks and merchants  ̶  and that tap into a long-standing need in the marketplace. In the case of Passbook, the problem I see is that it's not layering anything new onto my iPhone experience. To the contrary, my question about Passbook is why I need it, when I already have all the apps I want on my smartphone.

Even at this early stage of its functionality, Passbook should be more than simply an aggregator of digital cards and instead offer something truly unique. Currently, users must first download the brand's mobile app (Starbucks, United Airlines, Sephora, and so on) and then connect the app into Passbook. Early users are finding this process confusing and duplicative, expressing frustration around the manual work needed to add different cards and services into Passbook, with limited return. In addition, the number of participating merchants is still very limited, and even those that exist often offer restricted availability. For example, McDonald's has integrated with Passbook, but (curiously) only in France.

Passbook then is at best a novelty at this point. While there's certainly the possibility Apple will revamp the app wholesale, and in turn gain meaningful traction, I'm more inclined to put my money on the bet it's destiny is to join poor Ping in the ignominious Apple Graveyard. I think that nothing will replace ubiquitous credit and debit card payment systems until a service comes along that is a dramatically simpler solution, or offers compelling additional functionality that encourages people to leave their cards (and wallets!) at home. Given Apple's dominance as the mobile device of choice around the world, Passbook has as strong a shot of success as anyone, but only if they figure out how to overcome these limitations. Until then, plastic will still be king.

Jeff Fagel is Vice President, Marketing and Brand Development at edo Interactive. You can find Jeff on and Twitter.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock/Pressmaster.

Here's Some Bad News If You Bought A Windows Phone This Year (MSFT)

  This is why it will be years before I ever go back to a windows phone, noting all the early phones that were considered smart in their day. There is far too much hype over windows phone and window phone 8 only to know there will be incompatibilities with future generations.

Here's Some Bad News If You Bought A Windows Phone This Year (MSFT)

Published on Business Insider | shared via feedly mobile

Earlier this year, Microsoft and Nokia showed off a new flagship Windows Phone, the Lumia 900.

This was the phone that was finally going to make the Windows Phone OS a viable contender against Apple's iOS and Google's Android, they said. The "smartphone beta test was over," they said.

A few short months later, we learned the Lumia 900 was dead in the water. Its hardware wasn't compatible with Windows Phone 8, the new version of the operating system that was set to launch in the fall. In short, Lumia 900 owners and owners of other Windows Phones wouldn't be eligible for the latest and greatest features found in Microsoft's best mobile OS to date. 

Luckily, Microsoft promised to keep those people happy with aa software update to the older Windows Phones called Windows Phone 7.8. That version is supposed to bring some Windows Phone 8 features like a fully-customizable home screen to the Lumia 900 and other last-generation Windows Phones. 

But with all the attention on the new generation of Windows Phones running Windows Phone 8, a lot of people (including us) completely forgot about Windows Phone 7.8 until Paul Thurrott brought it up this week. The fact that Microsoft hasn't mentioned Windows Phone 7.8 in about five months and its refusal to comment on the update since then is a scary omen that it may never arrive.

Here's Thurrott:

Microsoft, silence is no way to treat early adopters, the people who are your most loyal customers. It is the most disrespectful thing you can do, in fact. Combined with the weird and continued holes in your ecosystem strategy—the inability to get Xbox Video content on Windows Phone 8 as only one obvious example—it's unclear to me why you think anyone should support you or your mobile platform.

He's right.

Microsoft's intentions were good when it announced Windows Phone 7.8. It clearly didn't want to punish early Windows Phone adopters. But now it just feels like Microsoft was misleading Windows Phone owners to avoid a bunch of complaints. If Windows Phone 7.8 is coming, Microsoft needs to tell its customers when. If it's not coming, Microsoft needs to bite the bullet and admit it can't fulfill its promise.

Anything less would be an insult to those who rushed out and bought a Lumia 900 or other Windows Phone earlier this year.

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Black Friday, Texas style: Mall shopper who pulled gun on line-cutter "within rights," say cops [feedly]

You just gotta love Texas! 
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Black Friday, Texas style: Mall shopper who pulled gun on line-cutter "within rights," say cops

The San Antonio Express-News reports that a mall shopper who brandished a handgun on a dude trying to cut in line was within his rights, according to police, because he had a permit for the weapon and was using it in self-defense.

San Antonio police officers were called to the Sears location around 9pm on Thanksgiving Day, before the turkey was even cold, in response to a call about a shooting.

When they arrived, they detained Jose Alonzo Salame, 33, who was holding a black 9 mm semi-automatic handgun with a black holster.

"We dont see this very often," Officer Matthew Porter said, adding that Salame did not break the law by displaying the weapon. "He was within his rights."

Police confiscated the gun, which was loaded and had one round in a chamber, the report says.Salame reportedly showed proof that he had a concealed handgun license, and he told officers that he pulled the gun out to defend himself because he was punched in the face by Alejandro Alex, 35.

Mr. Salame didn't discharge his weapon, and said he displayed it because he was afraid Mr. Alex would hit him again. A Sears manager congratulated him with a store voucher. The incident happened about an hour after the store opened to jam-packed crowds seeking pre-Black-Friday Thanksgiving bargains.

The shoppers scattered, "tumbling over things, dropping boxes," according to one eyewitness, and "the man who was trying to cut in line ran and hid behind a refrigerator before he fled the store."

Here, you try and make sense of it.

(via Miles O'Brien; image: Shutterstock)

VIDEO: Six dead in Italian train crash

Planes good, Trains bad! All aboard! Just one more unfortunate disaster that could have been prevented if they were to have just taken the plane! And what's with people not paying attention while driving and going over railway tracks? Must we make it a law much like Gas Trucks and School Buses that stop at all railway crossings?
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VIDEO: Six dead in Italian train crash
Police in Italy say at least six people have been killed after the van they were travelling in was struck by a train as it crossed railway tracks.

Airport Car Rentals: The Next $10 Billion Industry Ready For Disruption

Although it appears that Ryan had a bad experience with his car rentals, I have found it to be rather painless in most cases. Of course it is a must that you sign up for the membership which is always free but by doing so, as in the case of many, you can skip the line and walk straight out to the car lot where you can then quite often choose the car you want in your category. As well, if you are a member, quite often they will upgrade you one car class! If you haven't already purchased the very reasonable rental car insurance waiver on your existing car insurance I highly suggest it. Being from BC, Canada where I must deal with the Government Car insurance (ICBC) they offer a plan which includes road side assistance and car rental coverage for $30 a year! Yes, it is true that if you have to go to the counter, they will generally go through the up-sell but it is a quick "no thank you" and you should be on your way. I also suggest using the Kiosk whenever possible as it seems there is always one available when I walk up to the line.
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Airport Car Rentals: The Next $10 Billion Industry Ready For Disruption

If you travelled by air for the wonderful holiday weekend, you might have been faced with the hell that is the typical airport car rental experience. There are the lines, the hassles, the constant upsells, confusion around cost of gas and insurance, and about 15 pages of paper that you have to sign before being able to pick out your car and leave the lot. Frequent travelers and members of rewards programs aren't treated that differently. They have a shorter line and can generally have a better choice of available cars from the lot, but the experience isn't fundamentally better.

Airport car rentals are a big business — more than $10 billion a year, by some estimates — but the experience is pretty bad all around. Which means it's time for disruption! Time for the incumbent car rental agencies to get some competition from nimbler startups with new ideas, processes, and ways of doing things better! Thankfully, there are a few promising young companies working on this problem, and they could be coming soon to an airport near you.

Flightcar: An Airbnb For Car Rentals

Hundreds of thousands of travelers leave their cars in long-term parking lots while they're away on vacation or business. But what if, instead of paying to park in those lots, they were able to get paid while they were out of town? And what if instead of paying high rates to rent a vehicle from one of the incumbent car rental agencies, you could get discounted rentals on someone else's car while you're traveling in a different city? That's the idea behind Flightcar, which seeks to create a marketplace model for airport rentals.

Flightcar isn't much different from on-demand car rental marketplaces like Getaround or RelayRides — except that while they primarily focus on short-term, hourly rentals in urban areas, Flightcar is more for multi-day rentals. And while Getaround and RelayRides have their inventory spread out across a city, Flightcar users would only be able to pick up their cars from partnering parking lots near an airport.

Those renting out a car would simply drop it off at an airport parking lot in the same way that they usually would, and shuttle to the terminal. But when they return, they could be issued a check for the time that their car was rented while away. If it wasn't rented while they were away, they would simply pay the parking fee instead.

The startup not only provides the marketplace for listing and renting autos, but also cleans cars before and after a car is rented and provides necessary insurance and support for drivers while they are renting. It also provides supplemental insurance for all vehicles that have been rented through its system.

Flightcar co-founder Shri Ganesham told me that there were approximately 360,000 cars parked in airport parking at any given time, collecting fees. So there's a potentially huge inventory of cars that are just waiting to be used. The hard part comes in aggregating that inventory, and matching up potential drivers with rides, since the amount of time varies for travelers on both sides of the transaction. Flightcar is on track to launch soon in Oakland and San Jose airports and expects to expand quickly thereafter.

Silvercar: A Premium Experience For Airport Rentals

If Flightcar is Airbnb for airport rentals, then Silvercar is more like Uber, providing a more expensive, but more convenient process than incumbent options. The startup uses a mobile app to process reservations, pick up and drop off of cars in airport rental lots, and expedite the actual process of renting a vehicle.

Silvercar strips out a lot of the complexity associated with getting a rental, in part because it only has one model of car that it rents out — the Audi A4. There's no upsell on car class, and customers will always know what kind of car they're going to get. Rates will be competitive, but could be slightly more than the cost of full-size vehicles at the incumbents. But what customers pay more for in price is made up for in convenience.

Customers won't have to worry about getting gouged for gas at 3x the price for bringing a car back with a half-empty tank, for instance: Since cars are connected to the cloud, they'll merely report back how empty or full the tank is, and automatically charge users for refills based on the market rate for gas. Customers will also have a limited number of insurance options to choose from, rather than having to navigate the confusing choices that more car rental agencies provide.

Silvercars will be available in the same consolidated rental lots as the traditional car rental agencies, but the process for checking a car out will be completely different: Rather than waiting in line to talk to an agent about a rental, users will be able to reserve through a mobile app, which can also be used to unlock the car to start driving.

The startup plans to open for business at one airport at the end of this year, and then expand to about one new airport per quarter. It's raised $11.5 million from investors like Austin Ventures, Crunchfund, SV Angel, Dave Morin, Chris Dixon, and others.

Friday, November 23, 2012

No Agenda Show for Thursday Novemnber 22nd 2012 Dead Hand of Bureaucracy

No Agenda Show for Thursday Novemnber 22nd 2012
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