Increasing Understanding of Technology and Communication

Consider Benefits of Owning a ‘Burner Phone’

burner-phone

Despite all the buzz surrounding the new iPhone, many are considering something on the other end of the spectrum: a cheap, disposable, and prepaid mobile phone.

OK, so these “burner phones,” as they’re often referred to, may be an addendum to your pricey smartphone rather than a replacement for it, but these devices have some desirable benefits.

Maintains your privacy

While you might think a "burner phone" is something only a criminal may use to avoid being tracked by authorities – such as the drug dealers on a show like The Wire – law-abiding citizens may also appreciate the privacy awarded by a burner phone.

For example, you might not want to use your main phone number if you’re posting items on Craigslist or another classifieds site. After all, you’re opening up the possibility of unwanted calls or texts from strangers on your personal line. Instead, when the transactions are completed, you can simply dump (or “burn”) the temporary phone.

Burner phones are also desirable to those who use dating apps, as you might not want to give out your primary number to someone you don’t end up with. Sure, you can block someone on your main phone, but they could still contact you from another number.

Burner phones can be bought with cash and with no contract, plus providers that sell these devices don’t track personal data. Anonymity isn’t fully guaranteed, however, as burner phones can still be located over a cellular network by the temporary phone number, or logged whenever you call someone else’s phone via their carrier.

Other advantages

Aside from privacy, there are other reasons why you might consider a burner phone:

  • For emergencies: Thanks to a FCC mandate, every mobile phone must be able to dial 9-1-1 – even if you aren’t signed up with a carrier. Heck, you don’t even need a SIM card in the phone. And so a practical application for a cheap burner phone is to keep it for emergency purposes only. Toss it into your glove box and you’ll know it’s there, just in case.
  • Back-up phone: While some burner phones have some advanced features, most are barebones devices used for calls or texts only. Because most these devices don’t have big screens and advanced radios like 4G/LTE and GPS, they likely boast much longer battery life than a premium smartphone. This could be ideal for travelers, perhaps, or at least as a back-up phone if your main device’s battery peters out.
  • Low cost: Price is a good motivator, too. Rather than spend upwards of $850 for the latest iOS or premium Android device, pre-paid burner phones could be as low as $20 for the Motorola EX431G Tracfone, which includes a full physical keyboard and free double minutes for life. If you prefer a compact flip phone, the Samsung Entro is roughly $20 while the Kyocera Coast Prepaid Phone is $35. Pro tip: While your burner phone doesn’t have access to data, many social networks like Twitter and Facebook have a SMS option, so you can still be notified to get updates via text message.

There’s an app for that

Those who like the idea of a burner phone but aren’t quite ready to pick one up might consider an app like Burner, which allows you to create multiple numbers on your main smartphone. You might want one number for work, another for personal use, and a third for classifieds, shopping, dating, and so on.

Available at the App Store and Google Play, Burner is free to download and free to try. Additional time and numbers are available by in-app purchase (from $1.99) or a subscription for $4.99/month, which enables one burner line with unlimited calls, texts, and picture messages for one month. Be aware, however, phone calls use up your regular mobile phone minutes.

Read Article (Marc Saltzman | msn.com | 08/18/2016)

Europeans hold individual data privacy very high, which is not the case in the US. Some have begun to wonder, do they have it right? Well, only time will tell, though critics in the US say they’ve got it wrong, not surprising. But they also have trust in their government which is also not the case in the US. Analyze that!

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Best Personal Websites for Design Inspiration

Best-Personal-Websites

Here are 25 of the best personal websites for design inspiration.

Personal websites can be used for promotion, job searches, personal branding, creative expression, or just for communication. These personal websites can often serve as a publishing platform with more freedom than social networks or corporate sites. Personal websites also allow the owner to change directions easily if their interests or purpose for the site changes at some point in the future.

In this post features 25 of the best personal websites from around the net. This showcase presents a variety of different design styles. Some are minimal and clean, some use bright and vibrant colors, and others use more artistic and eye-catching designs.

Different kinds of websites have different purposes depending on who the intended audience is. Some websites are geared towards selling products and other websites are geared towards providing practical information, while others are merely for entertainment. Let’s take a look at some of the different types of websites that are out there.

The Purpose of Informative / Practical Information Websites

The purpose of an information centric website is to convey specific, helpful information to a specific user/audience so that the reader learns something new or understands a topic better. These websites are geared around more actionable information and may contain “how to’s”, tips and tricks, fix and repair, guidance, support information, directions, instructions, etc.

The Purpose of Entertainment Websites

These websites showcase entertaining information for visitors. Online magazines, gossip oriented websites, celebrity news, sports coverage, movies, the arts, humorous websites, etc. These websites are designed to be easy to navigate and frequently updated in order to keep users coming back for more information. They can be made more engaging by using dynamic content, such as videos, podcasts, slideshows, etc.

The Purpose of E-Commerce Websites

The purpose of e-commerce websites are to sell products to users. The most successful websites are carefully optimized to achieve a high percentage of purchases. To achieve success e-commerce websites need to integrate all of the latest online closing & upsell techniques available which have been proven to increase the chances that a visitor will purchase. There are many important elements that go into building a successful e-commerce website such as removing friction during the purchasing process, making the checkout smooth and easy, making the website fast and attractive, up selling users on related products, incentivizing buyers, reducing cart abandonment, nurturing past buyers to buy again, remarketing to past visitors who haven’t yet purchased, using the proper payment options, having a mobile ready design, etc., etc.

The Purpose of Service-Based Business Websites

The purpose of a service-based business website is to convince website visitors that they should become customers of the service company. This is done by positioning the company as a dependable, trust worthy and experienced service provider in the target market.

Visitors will pre-screen potential service providers by reviewing their websites before they make any phone calls. During this process, they are trying to find the best company that will meet their specific needs. They are trying to ascertain how expert the company is, the quality of the work they will receive, whether the provider has a good reputation and how long the company has been in business. Visitors can be helped by providing them with information and articles which demonstrate your knowledge, a visual portfolio of your work, videos, customer testimonials and so on.

The Purpose of Blogs

The purpose of a blog is to provide a regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style. Blogs can be started up very easily online using a number of free services, such as wordpress.com. There are many personal and professional blogs out there that are entertaining to read and which give a very personal insight into a person’s life. Blogs can be for entertainment purposes or used as an online journal or used by companies to keep their customers abreast of what is going on. The hallmark of a blog is that it’s very easy for an untrained person to maintain with little to no technical knowledge.

The Purpose of Social Media Websites

The purpose of social media websites are to make it very easy to share and connect with friends, family, co-workers, acquaintances and even strangers. Social media websites make quick and easy work out of building up a network of connections so as to keep in touch, share daily experiences, photos, interests, preferences, etc. Social networks can be used for both personal and commercial purposes. Businesses use social networks to build direct connections with their customers which allows them to get feedback on their products and services and allows them to learn more about what their customers really need and want.

Read Article (Steven Snell | vandelaydesign.com | 02/11/2016)

Website design is limited only by your own imagination and we would be honored to provide you the tools & support to make imagination real.

Website: socialcitynethosting.com

EU Files Third Antitrust Charge Against Google

Third-Antitrust-Charge

The European commission has filed a third antitrust charge against Google, this time against its AdSense advertising business.

The EU regulator accuses Alphabet’s Google of abusing its dominance in search to benefit its own advertising business, which has historically been the company’s main revenue stream. The EC also reinforced its existing charge against Google’s shopping service, which the regulator says receives preferential treatment in search results.

European competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, said: “Google has come up with many innovative products that have made a difference to our lives. But that doesn’t give Google the right to deny other companies the chance to compete and innovate.

“We have also raised concerns that Google has hindered competition by limiting the ability of its competitors to place search adverts on third-party websites, which stifles consumer choice and innovation,” Vestager said.

The commission said it had sent two “statements of objections” to Google and given its parent company, Alphabet, 10 weeks to respond. Google faces fines up to 10% of its global turnover for each case if found guilty of beaching the bloc’s antitrust rules.

Vestager also said the commission’s preliminary probe into Google Shopping has revealed that Google has “unduly favored its own comparison shopping service in its general search result pages”, meaning that “consumers may not see the most relevant results to their search queries.

“If our investigations conclude that Google has broken EU antitrust rules, the commission has a duty to act to protect European consumers and fair competition on European markets,” Vestager said.

A Google spokesperson said: “We believe that our innovations and product improvements have increased choice for European consumers and promote competition. We’ll examine the commission’s renewed cases and provide a detailed response in the coming weeks.”

The EU’s concerns around Google’s adverts relate to the company’s AdSense for Search platform, in which Google acts as an intermediary for websites such as those of online retailers, telecoms operators or newspapers, with searches producing results that include search ads.

Google’s AdWords and AdSense programs, which formed the bulk of Google’s $75bn (£56bn) in revenue last year, have been on the EC’s radar since 2010, after rivals complained about unfair advertising exclusivity clauses and undue restrictions on other advertisers.

The EU’s executive branch is already investigating whether Google gives preferential treatment to its own products, including Google Search and Chrome, in its Android operating system. Device manufacturers are obliged to place Google Search and Chrome on the primary home screen of Android devices, as well as other Google apps, if they want to provide access to the Google Play Store - the single largest source of third-party Android apps.

The company is also facing complaints against its image search from Getty Images.

Read Article (name | domain | 03/11/2016)

In the digital era, there is a significant difference between Europe and the US when it comes to individual privacy. Europe maintains individual privacy as primary whereas the US, unfortunately, views businesses as primary in this regard. The result is that US tech companies must conduct business in Europe much differently, or face penalties.

The European commission, though lobbied and charmed, has maintained their position on privacy. To continue business in Europe, US tech companies must comply with their rules and policies or be fined and removed, simple as that.

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Big Tech Crushes NYs ‘Right To Repair’ Bill Again!

Right-To-Repair

Companies like Apple maintain control over devices you purchase, even when they break. Major tech companies like Apple have trampled legislation that would have helped consumers and small businesses fix broken gadgets.

New York state legislation that would have required manufacturers to provide information about how to repair devices like the iPhone failed to get a vote, ending any chance of passage this legislative session. Similar measures have met the same fate in Minnesota, Nebraska, Massachusetts and, yes, even previously in New York.

Essentially, politicians never get to vote on so-called right to repair legislation because groups petitioning on behalf of the electronics industry gum up the proceedings.

Senate Bill S3998B (Summary): Requires manufacturers of digital electronic parts to offer for sale diagnostic and repair information in the same manner as such manufacturer provides such diagnostic and repair information to such manufacturer's repair channel; section does not apply to motor vehicles.

“We were disappointed that it wasn’t brought to the floor, but we were successful in bringing more attention to the issue,” New York state Sen. Phil Boyle (R), a sponsor of the bill, told The Huffington Post Friday.

Gay Gordon-Byrne, executive director of The Repair Association, a group of nonprofits and businesses that backed New York’s right to repair legislation, blamed the lack of a vote on lobbyists for major tech companies.

“They threw enough doubt into the minds of legislators that Fair Repair was not put out for a vote,” Gordon-Byrne told HuffPost in an email, referring to the legislation by its title, the “Fair Repair Act.” “Four companies against 19 million [New York] consumers.”

Gordon-Byrne said lobbyists from IBM, Apple, Xerox and Cisco were particularly active in working against the legislation. A variety of interests have opposed right to repair measures in the past, including the Consumer Technology Association, to which IBM, Apple and Cisco belong.

Advocates say right to repair laws would protect consumers and help the environment by insuring that devices last longer, thus reducing electronics waste. If you or a business can affordably repair a broken device, you may have less incentive to buy a new one, the logic goes.

But corporations typically oppose right to repair legislation because it would relax their total control over their products.

“The proposal could enable anyone posing as a repair shop to reverse-engineer such a device to create counterfeit devices,” the Consumer Technology Association once wrote in a letter opposing right to repair obtained by HuffPost.

Louis Rossman, an electronics repairman who makes informational videos, recently claimed on YouTube and Reddit that companies like Apple argue that third-party repairs destroy the integrity of their products.

“I just thought I'd add my two cents in here.

When I visited the Senate in Albany, I was allowed into many rooms I would not usually have access to, and able to speak to many highly qualified, intelligent individuals in politics. I was given a rare opportunity to be inside the "inner circle", and to hear what was going on.

It made me want to throw up in my mouth. Lobbyists opposing this bill literally told people that when I repair a Macbook using schematics I find online, that I am turning it into a PC when I replace a resistor or run a wire. Then I tell my customer that it is still a Macbook, which is misrepresenting the device to my customer, which is why they need to keep these schematics out of the hands of end users.

I talk about that in this video. I cannot express in words how much internal discipline and fortitude it took for me to not do this.”

Apple says it does not comment on pending legislation, but maintains its products don’t contribute to an e-waste problem.

Regardless, New Yorkers, at least, will have to wait until next year before right to repair legislation has another chance.

Read Article (name | domain | 03/11/2016)

When a high-tech device breaks the manufacturer want it repaired only by them. As in the case of Apple, this is part of their revenue stream. And when the repair costs get too high for you, this prompts you to buy a newer version.

Normal electronic repair shops are quite capable of making these repairs at a quarter the cost and maybe the repair is better (and permanent).

This really does bring into question – “Authorized Repair Centers”.

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How Brexit Affects Global Technology Industry

Brexit-Affects

Brexit has officially happened, and the implications of the vote to leave the European Union has raised many questions for the global technology industry.

In Britain, a majority of tech firms were against leaving the E.U. A technology industry group survey found that 87 percent of British technology firms wanted to stay in the European Union, and that 70 percent of them worried a vote to leave would damage London’s reputation as a technology hub. Global companies with offices in Britain, such as Microsoft, also campaigned against the move.

Now that the votes have been cast, here are some major issues facing the tech industry in Britain and abroad, in light of the decision.

Data flow and data privacy: The U.S. and the E.U. are in the process of making the final adjustments to their latest data privacy agreement, which governs the flow of data between U.S. and Europe. With a major player in the E.U. now backing out of the coalition, there are obviously some questions about what happens to data flowing in and out of Britain from the U.S. and elsewhere.

Despite the referendum results, however, things in this area will remain with the status quo — for now.

“The Data Protection Act remains the law of the land irrespective of the referendum result,” confirmed the U.K.’s Information Commissioner’s Office, but added that the Brexit does mean that the U.K. will not be subject to upcoming reforms the E.U. is planning to make around data protection.

However, Britain is unlikely to deviate from the policies of the E.U. in this particular area, simply because E.U. standards have become basically standard around the world. Should Britain shy away from those regulations, experts said, it would face dire consequences.

“It will be left out of the group of progressive and forward looking countries with suitable safeguards for personal data,” wrote privacy law expert Eduardo Ustaran ahead of the vote.

That doesn’t mean, however, that the Brexit will have no effect on the world’s data economy. There is also a sense, now that Britain has voted to leave the E.U., that the counterweight it provided against privacy-heavy countries such as Germany and France will also disappear. Germany and France have been leading the charge against major American tech firms -- notably Google, with the “right to be forgotten” ruling.

“This will help strengthen calls from the E.U. member states more concerned about protecting privacy rights,” said privacy advocate Jeff Chester, director of the Center for Digital Democracy.

Some are optimistic that, with fewer E.U. regulations, British companies would thrive. But the uncertainty in the immediate aftermath of the vote makes some uneasy.

“Europe is such an important economy, it would be a shame if this and some existing policy proposals by some in the E.U. came into effect in a way that dampened the ability to use technology and grow their economies,” said Ed Black, president of the Computer and Communications Industry Association.

Funding: One of the key reasons that many British technology firms said they were against a British exit from the E.U. was that it would be more difficult for them to secure funding for start-ups. London’s technology industry has been on the rise for the past several years.

Britain benefits in large part from funds such as the European Investment Fund, which backs an estimated 41 percent of venture capital investments in Europe. Its majority investor is the European Investment Bank.

But if Britain is no longer a part of Europe, that dries up a source of funding just as questions about how a U.K. shorn of its E.U. ties will regulate health tech, financial tech and other technology industries.

For its part, the EIF has said that it will continue business as usual for the time being. But the vote has injected a note of uncertainty into the start-up market, as Britain will now have to make its own negotiations with the fund.

“The European Investment Fund takes note, with regret, of the vote of the British people to leave the European Union,” the group said in a statement. “EIF will actively engage with the EIB and relevant European institutions to define the EIF’s activity in the UK as part of the broader discussions to determine the future relationship of the UK with Europe and European bodies."

Others also have financial concerns. For example, the video game industry in particular has said that it's worried that the new tax environment won't be as favorable to it as the E.U.'s has been.

Immigration: British tech firms — and technology firms from around the globe with offices there — have also raised concerns that the Brexit will fundamentally harm the tech industry’s ability to fill positions for highly skilled workers. Without the E.U.’s allowances to let workers move freely between countries, British companies are now worried about a shortage of qualified workers. That might be something that gets ironed out in a later agreement. But right now, there are plenty of expat workers in and outside of Britain that are raising questions about how Brexit affects their lives.

The concerns echo the talking points of the tech industry’s calls for immigration reform in the U.S. right now. The tech industry has repeatedly said that it needs to be able to recruit highly skilled foreign-born workers from across the globe in order to meet its labor demands.

Todd Schulte, president of the U.S. immigration group FWD.us, said that while the situations between the U.S. and Britain are obviously different, the need for support for a foreign-born workforce is not.

“In a globalized economy, when you’re trying to sell to the world, a diverse workforce is an asset,” he said.

There are also worries that companies that looked to London as an ideal place to start a company will now look elsewhere. Some start-ups have already begun to evaluate whether London is still the right place for their offices.

"To us, it was obvious to have London as a headquarters for all of Europe," said Allan Martinson, chief operating officer of the delivery startup Starship Technologies. "Today we may need to look for another location if we're working with continental Europeans."

Read Article (Hayley Tsukayama | washingtonpost.com | 06/24/2016)

Leading countries in the digital era have prospered through the sharing of methodologies, agreements and policies. To suddenly stand-apart, exposes one’s self to unknown ramifications.

We can only hope that nothing negative results from this decision.

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