Time to get off Facebook?

Not entirely sure I agree, but definitely some thought provoking discoveries and some good info to know about how Facebook uses your personal info:

Facebook has always been slightly worse than all the other tech companies with dodgy privacy records, but now, it’s in it’s own league. Getting off isn’t just necessary to protect yourself, it’s necessary to protect your friends and family too. This could be the point of no return — but it’s not too late to take back control.

 

Jump rating of 99?

It seems like maybe they haven’t worked out all the bugs in Madden 15 on the Xbox One just yet.

Facebook revenue continues to grow

Second quarter results show the company still has piles of money, and users.

Facebook released their 2014 second quarter results today and they show that the company’s user base and finances are still shockingly strong. Some of the highlights:

  • 829 million daily active users for June 2014, up 19% from 2013
  • Mobile use increased 39% over the past year
  • Facebook claims 1.32 billion monthly active users as of June 30, up 14% from last year

With the steady stream of very strong numbers out of Facebook it’s easy to forget that just two short years ago the Facebook IPO was described as a confusing “debacle” – and worse – in a number of media outlets. Clearly Facebook’s strategy of focusing on mobile is paying off in spades.

In fact, earlier this week Facebook developers revealed more details of how they plan to drill down to device-level targeting to improve mobile app ad performance even further.

What’s even more surprising is that some analysts are suggesting that next quarter’s results could push the company over the $3 billion mark.

Not bad for a site that started as an easy way for a few college kids to stay in touch when they left campus.

Waze ‘social mapping’ GPS app review

The best GPS app you’ve likely never heard of.

Waze is a mapping and GPS app that is available for iOS and Android devices as well as Windows phones, and it may very well be the best one out there.


The app bills itself as a social GPS and mapping program because it goes beyond mapping out routes and tracking your location in the way that other GPS apps do. When you open the app you’re presented with a map view that is similar to most other apps in the genre that shows where you are on the map, and allows you to enter in a destination to get turn by turn directions. The features are similar to most apps of this type and Waze doesn’t really distinguish itself here, although it is easy to use and fairly flexible. The turn by turn directions are well presented and effective, and the standard GPS app functionality is quite well done.

What’s different about Waze.

But it does have a few spots where it goes beyond what other apps offer, starting with search. When you search for a location, you have the option to search the Waze database, but you can also search in Google, Yelp, Bing and Foursquare, among others. Once you’ve found your destination a route is mapped out for you – and this is where the great stuff starts.

The routes are done the way most GPS apps do at first, setting out the quickest route, but then Waze checks with other users. Waze claims to have the world’s largest community of users for a traffic and navigation apps, and the app tracks the progress of all of them to determine the best route. In other words, if you’re stuck in a traffic jam and you’re using Waze the app will take note of that and route people behind you around the bottleneck.

Waze users can also report construction, road closures, accidents, red light cameras, speed traps, and a host of other road conditions. The app considers those when generating routes for other users, and includes notices when you’re coming up to things like speed traps or construction. You can even use it to check gas prices along your route.

The ability for the app to reroute you around traffic slow downs is really the biggest selling feature of this app. Knowing what’s coming up ahead can shave a significant amount of time off your trip and save you massive headaches.

Summary

The best GPS app out there. User data added to standard map data presented in an easy to use interface makes this the stand alone best app of it’s kind.

9/10

Apple bought Beats, but are they going to pay for it down the road too?

Will rumoured proprietary headphones spell the end of the road for the love affair between consumers and Apple?

Apple’s purchase of headphone maker and music streamer Beats has been widely reported recently, with a tremendous amount of speculation on why Apple made the purchase. Some of the early betting was on Apple taking Beats’ streaming music service and using the technology to improve lackluster Apple’s iTunes radio.

The sale struck me as odd, but only slightly so. The two companies seem very similar in the sense that they both do a tremendous job of focusing on style, design, and image. And I don’t mean that as an insult as some people do. Apple’s products are some of the best designed on the market, so people justifiably like to show them off – and making them part of their own personal style in the process. People can relate with a company that focuses so much on creating such beautifully built products.

But there’s a new rumour out that would mean the end of the road for me and Apple products. Now pundits are suggesting Beats wasn’t just bought for their streaming music service, and that Apple intends to build headphones with Beats, which also sounded like a good thing at first since Apple’s stock headphones are notoriously bad.

But then new rumours started to swirl saying the new headphones would use Apple’s proprietary lightning connector instead of a standard  headphone connector. The stated reason is to improve audio quality – but let’s be honest. Apple isn’t going to fool anyone with that: if they go this route, the sole reason is to build another, very steep wall to keep people in the Apple ecosystem.

For a lot of consumers I believe if they go this route it will be the last straw. There is only so much you can do to consumers to lock them in to your products before they revolt, and this will be it for me. I think consumers will put up with a lot to be able to enjoy good products, but this is too much. Asking me to pay for new headphones when I have great ones already, or making me pay a lot for a big bulky adapter just to be able to use an Apple phone or tablet is just too much. There’s a point where you can push consumers too far and ask too much of them, and I believe this would be it.

I know the Red Wings are favourites, but isn’t this at least a little premature??

Spotted on NHL.com today (June 10, 2014) two days BEFORE the final game is played.

Oops.

Cup Champs Already?

Cup Champs Already?

Canada’s spam law might not make a massive dent in spam – but it’s still great.

The new Canadian anti-spam law may not mean a whole lot less spam for you, but you should still be happy about it.

A new anti-spam law will take effect on July 1 that regulates commercial emails sent to or from Canadians. It’s one of the strongest such laws in the world, with penalties up to $1 million for an individual violator and up to $10 million for companies.

The law will make it illegal to send commercial emails without getting permission first, and this will apply to social network and text messages as well. And with those stiff penalties the law should take a huge dent out of the amount of spam Canadians receive, right?

Well, maybe not. Security and spam experts say only 1.3% of the world’s spam is sent from Canada. So even if the law significantly reduces that, we will still continue to get plenty of spam from people all over the world (primarily China, USA, South Korea and Taiwan).

Nonetheless, it’s easy to get over the disappointment of finding out that we won’t wake up to spam-free mailboxes on July 2 when you take a closer look at the law.

The government had to move now because while the overall amount of spam from Canada is still relatively low, it is growing. In 2013 Canada for the first time made the top 20 list of the world’s worst spamming countries, coming in at #14. So the new law and its stiff penalties should stop and ultimately reverse that trend.

One of the most significant aspects of the law (that is receiving strangely little attention) addresses viruses and malware. Under the new law it will be illegal for anyone in Canada to install computer software on a Canadian computer without the consent of the computer’s owner. This means anyone who installs a virus, bot or any other unauthorized program on a Canadian’s computer has broken the law, regardless of what the program does. And for a country with a relatively small population, Canada is one of the world’s top 10 generators of malicious software, cranking out 3.5% of the worlds malicious bots.

Then there’s the problem of phishing, or sending emails designed to look like they come from businesses, financial institutions or government agencies that try to collect personal information like login information or credit card numbers. The new law also makes that illegal.

There is no question that the new law places significant responsibilities on Canadian companies, and a huge lobbying campaign has gone on at some length about that burden, But while it remains to be seen just how much of a burden these new rules will be, what is clear is that this much-needed legislation will take a strong first swing at some very serious issues.

An Ode to Hatred (or, Why I Still Can’t Stand the Flames).

Calgary Flames vs. Chicago Blackhawks - Game 5 of the 2009 NHL Playoffs

Calgary Flames vs. Chicago Blackhawks – Game 5 of the 2009 NHL Playoffs

I found the conclusion of the Flames game last night to be unusually satisfying. I was watching the game with my son, who has taken a shine to the Flames because of family we have in Calgary that we all care about a great deal. Though it pains me greatly, he actually identifies himself as a Flames fan.

After cheering (overly?) loud after the Hawks built their lead to 4 goals (game summary here), he asked me why I hated them so much. Of course, I sent him to his room and took away video games for a week.

I should have done that, but what I actually did was think for a second, and realize that there’s really no reason anymore. You can’t help but respect the way Iginla plays, although Calgarians lose my respect by calling him Iggy. The franchise appears to have made a smart move in bringing in Keenan to coach, but he does make them much harder to like. But they are a generally likable bunch of players who seem to have a pretty good work ethic and a decent amount of class. So why do I still hate them so much??

I realized that the seeds of a truly great sports rivalry start in childhood, so I told my son about the once-in-a-lifetime brand of hockey Albertans were treated to in the 80s. I tried to describe the frequent bench clearing brawls, and how truly nasty were players like Jim Peplinski, Theo Fleury, Mel Bridgeman, Nick Foitu and even Stu Grimson later on. He didn’t have the rare privilege of seeing the tremendous intensity that these two teams brought to every game they played against each other, so I tried to explain to him that you couldn’t be in the building watching those games without hating one team or the other – they were both that good.

Then I tried to tell him that it was still OK to like the Flames, even if I didn’t, and that the important thing is that he stands up for his convictions.

But I still grounded him for a week.

Feedly: A free news service for news junkies

Online news addicts blew a collective gasket last year when they learned the Google RSS Reader service was to be shut down. Google said declining numbers of users was one of the main reasons for the shutdown, and it is safe to say most people didn’t even know Google Reader existed, don’t know what an RSS reader is, and certainly had no idea why you would use one.

I was one of the news junkies, though, who was left scrambling for a new way to get my daily fire hose of news. So after a lot of research, and even more trial and error, I’ve found Feedly to be a more than capable replacement. And while you might not be interested in going through hundreds of stories a day as I do in my professional life, Feedly is flexible enough that it can also be a fabulous tool for pretty much anyone who has any interests they want to read about.

Feedly mobile device view

Feedly’s category display and news feed on mobile devices

Feedly is a free service that uses a technology called RSS (Really Simple Syndication) to collect news from sources you choose, and combines them into one attractive layout. That layout looks great on the Chrome and Firefox browsers, and there are also iOS and Android apps so you can view your news on the road as well. In fact, really the only failing of the service is that it is not compatible with Internet Explorer and Blackberry.

The setup is very easy. Visit the Feedly.com website using the Chrome or Firefox browsers and go through the simple process that installs their plugin (the installer walks you through everything). Create an account, and then you’re taken to a page where you set the categories of information you want to read about. You then choose what news sources you want to monitor, and the system collects information as it is published on those sites and updates your Feedly page with those articles.

If you aren’t sure where you want to get your news from, a huge number of news sources can be found right from the Feedly interface. Clicking the ‘Add Content’ link under your username at the top left brings up a screen where you can browse sources on a range of topics, or you can search for specific news sources. When you find something you want to add, another box pops up for you to choose which of your categories you’d like to file that news under.

Feedly search boxIf there is a website you really like that doesn’t come up in the Feedly search, it is easy to add a link. The browser plugin you installed earlier will overlay a faint ‘f’ on the bottom right of every page you visit with an RSS feed. Clicking on that pops up a link where you can directly add that page’s feed to your Feedly account.

Once you’ve set up your page you’ll likely find yourself going to that page more than any other website, since everything you want to read about has been collected here already. And who knows, maybe it’ll turn into your fire hose as well.