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Friday, February 21, 2014

Please don't buy us!

A trend I have noticed recently in news headlines is some super huge company bought another pretty big, seemingly random company for 10 quadrillion dollars. Have you noticed it? So far recent ones were Google buying Nest (home automation based company), Comcast buying Time Warner Cable, Facebook buying Whatsapp, a practically free texting app. Google even somewhat silently bought another company today. Get it? All these major companies like to buy each other to build their value and reach. Thats what they claim anyways.

Credit: intentionpartners.com
First on the stand is the all-mighty Google. I swear they have bought everything! Google has bought or "merged" with an estimated 145 companies since 2001. They even snuck one by most people today with a company called Spider.io with a purpose of anti ad fraud. Some key acquisitions of Google over the years were DeepMind Technologies, Nest, Waze, Behavio, Incentive Targeting, Milk Inc., and Zagat. There are plenty more but the list was already getting long. Google has done a great deal of building both a very productive and very protective layer. I've once heard that Google can do everything. Everything? I read a recent joke referring to the purchase of Nest: If your house catches fire, you will start getting gmail ads for fire extinguishers. I wonder if Google has bought a company that can make sure there is never a Googlepocalypse. If every Google service crashed, the majority of internet connected users would be lost. Are you one of them? I know I am. This blog is hosted through Google.

Another recent development of Google is a project codenamed Google X. This is actually an entirely separate operation of the "normal" Google. Google X has purchased at least 12 companies to contribute to them taking over the world and building Skynet. Actually they are working strenuously on AI or artificial intelligence, robots, contacts that alert you when your blood sugar is low, and that weird bar Link wore on Star Trek. Many things are public knowledge and many more things are unheard-of. They are even working hard to develop driverless cars. Ladies, you may proceed to apply make-up on the way to the office.

Credit: India.com
Facebook, oh Facebook. Those guys just won't stop. Whats up with WhatsApp? There is a lot of speculation over the motivation behind this purchase, buts the reason is obvious. No one knows. It's a $19 Billion question. A comment from Mark Zuckerburg indicates that Facebook is interested in the apps reach to international areas that paying for a text service is very costly. The app currently charges 99 cents a year for unlimited text messages. Other iconic buys for Facebook: Instagram, Lightbox.com, Friend.ly, and Snaptu. Facebook has a fairly good record for grabbing the good companies and then making more money off of them, but they have had a good share of flops too. Facebook has to maintain stance on changing social media. Just as everything else, they go through phases. If they just stayed like they started, they would have been another Myspace. (Thank you Facebook) Sometimes I get the feeling that these big companies just compete at who gets more buys.

The moral of the story: Save your money up so you can buy big companies too. Actually I really feel like the true moral is that we need more control over this fiasco. So many big companies eat up the small ones getting closer every day to becoming another monopoly.

All Content Copyright 2014 -Rodney Conner, The REAL Tech Spot

Monday, February 10, 2014

SECURITY!!!

I feel like all we hear about recently is security, security, security. And security. Your computer isn't secure enough for this, your bank account is too vulnerable for that, don't swipe your card here, blah blah. During the Olympics in Russia, several people had reported concerns. One reporter even claimed minutes after just turning on a brand new computer it was "hacked." His phone was also claimed to be compromised. Then there was the big box store fiasco with stolen card numbers and such. Then there was lots of other things too... Get it? Security is a BIG deal with the advances of tech. So the question is, what are you doing to prevent these problems from hitting you? Here's a few pointers:

Credit: techfreakstuff.com
1: Lock up that phone! Turn off bluetooth when it's not in use. Those hacker nerds can walk beside you in the mall while stealing info stored on your phone.

2: Setup unlocking security on your phone whether it's a code, word, codeword, fingerprint, pattern, or nuclear launch code.

3: Don't save unnecessary private data on your phone. It only takes one accidental left at Starbucks to wipe out your finances and high score on Candy Crush.

4: Try not to use public wifi if you don't have to. It's a hackers playground.

Credit: lockittight.com
5: Password protect your computers and don't sticky note it to the bottom of the keyboard. We all know it's there.

6: Don't allow your computer or browser to save login, password, credit card, or bank info. I know it's easy, but that means it's easy for the bad guys to steal too.

7: Just like your phone, don't use public wifi if you don't have to.

8: When Sir James Fakebot, the account manager for your great great great second uncle that left bajillions of money in your name emails you to claim it, don't pay that fee they need first. (Think scam) :)

Credit: bloggingehow.com
9: Yeah I know swiping that card is so fun and let's you feel powerful but the credit/debit card system is the source for so much worry lately. These bad guys are getting good. (pun?) Cash is 100% more secure.

10: When visiting any websites that have important data you would want to be secure, double-check the address bar for the "s." It must say https in order for you to know the data you send is encrypted .

I could write for days on security of your important stuff in life but that can get boring, plus I have a daughter dying to play. This is just a touch of the basics of how to protect yourself a little more. I didn't even cover the simpler things like virus/firewall software on your computer. There, that's number 11.  Take this seriously and your private data and finances will thank you. They won't grow, but they have a higher chance of not disappearing.

All Content Copyright 2014 -Rodney Conner, The REAL Tech Spot

Friday, January 24, 2014

The good, bad, and ugly. But mostly good.

So maybe I'm already off to a bad start as far as consistent articles but thats ok because today makes up for it in many ways. The main thing is today was the 30th anniversary of the Mac. It's purely amazing where we have come from just in that part of tech development.  In my last post I wrote just about the then and now. This is similar, sort of. The first thing I will get tagged with over time is being a Apple fan-boy. Sure, I'll take the hit, proudly. I would also remind anyone of how I've always been the Call for Help (pun intended) for any family members tech woes. For those that missed the pun, "Call for Help" is an old TechTV show I used to watch as a kid back when a 100 MB file download was just plain crazy.

Back on subject, again. The tech advances just blow me away. Its mind boggling sometimes. There is a new rumor floating about the future iPhone 6. One theory jumped out at me because it is only about 5-8mm thin.
Credit: cultofmac.com
Yeah, I used Apple's cute description technique on that only because 8mm think just sounded weird. I remember when the Motorola Razr was first advertised and I said I would be afraid of breaking the phone. 10 or so years later I didn't expect to see a rumored phone be so thin you could practically see through it. I wouldn't want to sneeze while on the phone. It would probably turn to pixie dust and float back to Apple HQ. Wait, I forgot no one uses the phone function on their PHONE anymore! That was certainly unexpected.

Credit: businessinsider.com
We can do absolutely everything ever needed or thought of being needed on our smartphones now. It blows my mind when I read through my magazines for phone cases with credit card readers and detachable professional grade camera lenses. The quality of the small dot on the back of my phone is exponentially better than the professional digital SLR camera , 5 years ago, I spent $2500 on between the different pieces needed for a good setup for weddings and such. Keep in mind that all of that was my tools to attempt to make a career out of a hobby and passion. Now, like everyone else, in my pocket is the very device that crushed that dream. Why would a couple hire a pro photographer for their wedding when a fried that "takes good pictures" can just do it with their phone.

I try not to write my articles too run-out but this one could go on for ever. The tech world is ever-changing and going great. It also has it's failures, usually in the business end of it all. New Technology can evolve us and crush us all in the same "great new product release." What are you doing to balance the scales?

All Content Copyright 2014 -Rodney Conner, The REAL Tech Spot