htc first

HTC First Drops to $0.99

htc firstFacebook Home was released not too long ago, and just after that came the dedicated Facebook Phone, a device that had Facebook Home pre-installed and fully supported it. It turns out that there isn’t much of an interest in a device that is centered around Facebook, because the device has dropped from $99 to $0.99. Even though the device runs Facebook Home by default, it has a decent 4.3-inch 720p display, a Dual Core 1.4GHz processor, 16GB of storage, 1GB of RAM, and support for LTE. It also supports 1080p video recording.

Initial impressions of the HTC first weren’t good, with many people complaining about the camera. I can’t see this succeeding simply because of all the complaints about Facebook Home. As good as Facebook may or may not be, either way no one wants a device that revolves around one product or service. Chat heads is good, but that’s about the only useful feature of it, and that’s built into messenger on every Android Device that has it.

 

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Distracted Driving is too Dumb to Fix

A Little Introduction

If you are a regular viewer of The 3 Cast, then you are most likely aware that on March 27th, I was in a motorcycle accident involving a vehicle. My version on the scene was that a guy pulled out in front of me (which he very much did). The version according to the guy that pulled out in front of me is that someone (other than a cop) waved him to move forward, causing him to pull out in front of me. There was no construction site, no semi in the middle of the road, just as clear as day. I’ll never know what really happened, but something inside me causes me to feel that he was most likely driving distracted. Either way he’s guilty, and I’m happy, despite not being able to walk. The point is, I was most likely a victim of distracted driving, and even if for some reason I wasn’t, many innocent people are each and every day.

What is Distracted Driving?

Now that distracted driving has finally become a legal issue, there are many questions that are brought up as to what exactly distracted driving is. In the 21st century, most people would think of distracted driving as texting while driving, but we all know it’s a much larger problem than that. Even though most of the distracted driving you will be able to point out is distracted driving, you do get the oddities or not so much oddities where someone might be constantly looking at their passenger instead of the road, or trying to put a case on their phone, or even searching for sunglasses (which should be put on before you even start driving).

What Has Happened?

Over the years (some) people have developed a bigger and bigger attraction to their smartphones. With the invention of push notifications, people are getting so much information delivered to them instantly, not just text messages and phone calls. For some reason, people feel that they can safely operate a several thousand pound explosive weapon, without even looking at what they are aiming at. Some people even believe that they are better drivers when they are texting because it actually boosts their response time and makes them better drivers. Yes, I’ve actually had someone make that excuse to me.

Why Can’t it Be Fixed?

I don’t know about where you live, but in the lovely state of Illinois, texting while driving is 100% against the law. Still, I observe cars moving along at intersections, and I’d say 3 out of every 5 cars minimum has someone texting while driving, and paying no attention to the road at all. The end result? Texter 1 hits a pothole, not holding the steering wheel properly texter 1 sideswipes texter 2. You get the idea of what would eventually happen.

Guess what, when there is a motor vehicle accident, even one causing bodily harm, in most states the officer would not be allowed to check the phones of either parties to see if they had sent a text, or opened any new messages, this would constitute as wiretapping. So, in theory, a driver that was texting while driving and caused the bodily harm, would receive a much lesser charge, because there is no proof that they were texting. There are instances where the phone may have been thrown out of the car and the screen is visible, but that’s very rare.

Until the punishment for texting while driving goes up significantly, and there are actually police out there to make sure it doesn’t happen, people are going to continue to do it. Hands-free devices are a good solution (not perfect solution), but no solution is going to keep people from doing the dangerous act. If someone causes bodily injury because they were texting while driving, the charges should be equivalent to manslaughter. Checking your phone and taking your eyes off the road for any length of time while operating an explosive wrecking machine is not an accident, it’s a dumb choice, just like slaying someone with a knife (aka manslaughter) would be a dumb choice.

Do you text and drive? Do you distract yourself while driving? Consider the true impact that your decisions could have on someone. It’s equivalent to bullying, which I’m sure people who text while driving think is wrong, and if you injure someone while doing it, it’s equivalent to manslaughter. Think about that.

The Extent of My Injuries

I don’t have all the pictures, but I do have two very significant ones to show you. As you can see, the front end of my scooter is completely gone. My left femur broke in half and had to be fixed with a titanium rod through the bone, and my pelvis also separated, requiring 6 screws and a bolt through my side

How Much Does Distracted Driving Cost?

Well let’s put it this way, I had two surgeries and I was in the hospital for a week. The bill was close to $200,000. That doesn’t count the daily home visits for weeks, therapy, return orthopedic visits, medical equipment, and lost work time. So, unless you have a good insurance policy or a good heaping chunk of change to give away, don’t drive distracted.

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Twitter Music – Spotify’s Competitor

In many ways, Spotify is a social network. Not only can you create playlist and share them with both your friends and the world, but there is integration with Facebook and Twitter. You can share songs that you are listening to on both Facebook and Twitter, and on Facebook, people can listen with you in real time to the music you are listening to. Spotify has become a great and popular way for people to discover new music.

Some of you may remember Twitter Video, which was a complete disaster due to the high amount of pornographic content that began to be shared on it (go figure, it’s the internet). There is news that Twitter may be partnering with some TV media companies, so it’s obvious that Twitter still for whatever reason has interest in that form of media.

music_#NowPlayingTwitter has announced the launch of Twitter #music, which appears to currently only be available for iOS, but there is a web version as well at music.twitter.com. According to Twitter’s blog post, songs on the #music service, songs are currently picked from iTunes, Spotify, or Rdio. By default music previews will come from iTunes in the form of a preview, but if you have a Spotify or Rdio account you can log in to hear full versions of the songs.

There is also a now playing section (shown to the left) that consists of “songs that have been twitters by the artists and people you follow on Twitter”. You can also navigate to the twitter profile of the artists you are listening to, all from the App.

Will it Be a Success?

Now it’s obvious that Twitter is trying to expand their social network beyond the 140 character messages in the most minimalist way possible, and I like that. Twitter is attempting to launch new services without completely changing their original service to make room for the new services, and the integration appears to be seamless. As to whether or not this music service can be a success or not, I would have to say it’s really a 50/50 chance and depends on whether or not people want to use it. I have occasionally found myself using the Spotify integration on Facebook where I can listen to what my friends are listening to, but it’s not often. Then again, I’m not that much of a music junkie either.

The service may just be another Spotify, but it has something that Spotify doesn’t as far as social integration, and that’s a dedicated app. Spotify is really missing a dedicated app that can take all the music recommendations your friends post on Facebook and put them into one place, so with that in mind I could really see some success out of Twitter music. Hopefully they come out with an Android version as well, we will just have to wait, hope, and see.

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Apple’s Newest Map Competition Acquisition: WiFiSlam

According to an article published yesterday by Reuters, Apple has acquired mapping application company WiFiSlam for “around $20 million.” An apple spokesman told Reuters that “Apple acquires smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.” While that statement is 100%, how hard is to say that Apple may be making another attempt at a maps application? Their last attempt was a complete disaster, so much that Tim Cook himself recommended Google Maps.

What is WiFiSlam?

It appears that at one time WiFiSlam did have a website at www.wifislam.com, but it has since then been removed, probably due to the acquisition. We were however, able to find some information on company information site AngelList. WiFiSlam is listed as a product that allows your smartphone to pinpoint its location in real-time using only “WiFi signals that are already present in buildings.” If I’m interpreting that statement correctly, you in theory wouldn’t even need to be connected to WiFi for this application to pinpoint your location, but I could be wrong. Obviously this pinpointed location is most likely not longitude and latitude, but rather location information that would be tailored perfectly for indoor navigation, something that Google is working fast and furiously to deploy in large malls and museums.

If Apple were to jump back into mapping, indoor navigation would actually be the best place to start, because frankly it would be a huge source of revenue for whichever company can make it work the best, and so far Google’s system is still mostly in Beta. Large venues would be willing to pay a lot of money to have indoor navigation, and if they aren’t, the ad revenue potentials are possibly even greater.

Can Apple be successful at mapping? So far, they haven’t had any luck. However, if they get into indoor navigation soon and do it right, they might have a chance.

Sources | Reuters, AngelList,

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Windows 8 Prices

Windows 8 to Blame for Decline in PC

Even though I don’t think the PC is ever going to go away completely like some mobile device manufacturers would hope, there is no doubt that sales of the original PC has gone down in the consumer spectrum. Windows 8 was a big disappointment to a lot of Windows users simply because Microsoft took away the traditional user interface that they’ve always had, and went to a mobile environment on a desktop OS. In essence, saying that they no longer care about the power user market. However, some users have found using Windows 8 on a traditional PC to be somewhat easy and adaptable, so long as they have a touchscreen monitor or large touchpad.

Jung Dong-soo – head of memory chips at Samsung – has expressed a strong distaste for Windows 8.  Dong-soo said the following about Windows 8

The global PC industry is steadily shrinking despite the launch of Windows 8. I think the Windows 8 system is no better than the previous Windows Vista platform.

While I do agree with Dong-soo that Windows 8 was a major disappointment, performance wise it’s still a pretty good operating system, it’s just been received wrong.

Is Windows 8 to Blame?

No, Windows 8 is not to blame for the decline in the PC. PC sales were dropping well before even the consumer preview version of Windows 8. Also, Windows 8 was (in my opinion) Microsoft’s way of secretly saying that they have lost some of their faith in the PC market as far as consumers. Look what happened once Windows 8 was released. Microsoft released their own operating system available to any OEM like they always have, but then they seeked out their own manufacturer and released their own piece of hardware. This is a first for Microsoft.

I think Microsoft, whether they realize it or not, is slowly killing PCs for the consumers. However, keep in mind that Windows isn’t the only operating system. If someone wanted to build a new operating system that would win people back to what we currently call the PC, they could. PCs are never going to go away, they will just unfortunately become a business specialty item at one point or another.

Source | Korea Times

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working from home

Yahoo Has BANNED Working From Home – Will It Work?

It seems that Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer really wants to make some drastic changes in the company to turn it around, because if you haven’t heard already, she has banned employees from working from home, a practice that is often praised and well accepted at other large corporations. Whether you agree with this or not, the real question is whether or not it will work. Let’s look at some basic pros and cons of working from home.

Pros

  • Relaxed environment
  • Snack whenever you want
  • Work in your PJs, or no clothes at all if you want
  • Avoid traffic completely

Cons

  • Not in the office
  • Will require more self motivation
  • Conversing with coworkers will require video conference or phone call

Now, those are just some very basic pros and cons that came off the top of my head. I’m sure that you could come up with a few more as well. However, those are the main ones.

A Personal Experience

61790_2675694829185_908938354_nBeing mostly a freelancer/entrepreneur at the moment, I would be considered someone who works from home all the time. A few months ago, I got started on Elance, and I was doing tons of work to the point where I was essentially working a part-time 20 hour per week job. For about a week and a half this worked out fine, just sitting in my house doing the work that needed to be done to bring in the money. However, eventually the initial excitement and drive started to fade away, and I realized that I was actually working. I was working alone, by myself, in a lonely environment. Soon, I just wasn’t working at the pace that I was originally working, and I had a couple of situations where I came very close to not meeting a deadline, simply because I wasn’t motivated to work as well.

One night, I got the idea of going to a coffee shop down the street to work. I grabbed my $4 coffee and went to work. I sat there until the coffee shop was closed for the night, and I was more productive than even in the beginning. Just being in a busy environment with other people gave me a similar feeling to being in an office, and I was motivated again.

However, soon it didn’t last for long. Yes, I still do my big freelance work in a public place where I can at least be out of the house, but I still have to keep myself self motivated, and I have no one else to collaborate with. Because of this, I do believe there are strong advantages to not working from home.

This Ban Already Works

If you know anything about Google, you probably know that they have a globally recognized headquarters called the GooglePlex. The GooglePlex essentially creates an environment in which you don’t feel the need to work from home. There are 3 meals a day with many choices, many different sports including beach volleyball courts, massage lounges, bean bag chairs, coffee shops, napping areas, you name it. Oh, and forget about having to worry about doing your laundry when you get home, because at the GooglePlex, it’s done for you. Other Google offices operate off of this same model, just to different scales. I’m not sure if Google has a work from home policy in place or not, but if I was a Google employee, I wouldn’t want to work from home.

Companies simply need to make the office a fun place where people actually want to come, because working at the office is the best option if you can. There are situations such as extremely heavy snow and ice in which working from home would be needed, but just working from home once a week because you want to should not need to be an option if the company makes the office fun. The companies that are succeeding have taken cubicles out of the equation and made fun open office layouts where you can see from corner to corner.

So will this ban help Yahoo in particular? It should help increase productivity, that’s for sure.

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Automating Social Media – Should Tweets Go to Facebook?

Social Media isn’t something that really gets talked about here very often on T3KD. I had an experience today that I thought would make a great blog post. If you didn’t already know, Twitter allows you to have your tweets that you send out (not including replies) to also be posted as statuses on Facebook. A lot of people I know use this feature, but should you send tweets to Facebook?

Social Media Automation

Ever heard of the term Social Media Automation? If you are active in Social Media and have been for a while, and especially if you do any sort of marketing, you have probably heard of and done this before. Social Media Automation is as simple as having your blog send out a tweet every time you update it, or having some blog posts share at random times of the day via Buffer or HootSuite. However, this can get even more extensive. Thanks to an IFTTT script, my Twitter account automatically follows someone and ads them to a special list any time they share one of my blog posts and include me in a reply. That’s another form of Social Media automation, it just isn’t one that would be seen by all of our followers.

Why Would You Send Tweets to Facebook in the First Place?

When I originally set up my Twitter account to send my tweets to Facebook, I was mostly posting photos on Facebook from time to time. I wanted an easy way to bump up my activity level on Facebook. Since I was pretty active on Twitter at the time, having my Tweets go to Facebook seemed like a great idea, and it worked for a while.

A Word From a Friend

Should Tweets Go to Facebook?Now go to present time, and most of what I tweet lately has been blog posts, which means all that is showing up (for the most part) on my Facebook profile is blog posts. This is fine for Twitter where the stream of tweets is constantly moving, but on Facebook that’s just not the case, and by having all those blog post tweets go to Facebook as well, I have annoyed some friends and even lost one. No doubt that engagement is also way down as well.

So… to answer the question of whether or not your tweets should go to Facebook. I truly believe that you should keep your Social Networks genuine and not intertwine what you’re posting, but I realize that from a marketing standpoint this might not always make sense. Keep in mind however, that Facebook is a lot more photo friendly than Twitter, so you could actually use this to your advantage somewhat.

If you have a Facebook account and you want to keep it going but you don’t update that often, if you tweet a lot it does make sense to have your Tweets go to your Facebook account as well, and it would be perfectly fine. However, if you have certain friends that you know are friends on Facebook but aren’t following you on Twitter, you really need to keep this in mind. Remember that you won’t be able to put something on Twitter that you don’t want to be seen by your Facebook friends as well. Also keep in mind though that this only applies to original tweets. Mentions and Direct Messages will never be sent to Facebook.

If you are sending your tweets to Facebook and seeing little to no engagement, maybe try posting directly to Facebook. If most of the stuff you tweet is blog posts like me, you would be better off leaving the featured turned off. Each social network (in my opinion) has it’s own individual use and own type of content that belongs on it.

What do you think? Should Tweets Go to Facebook automatically? Talk back in the comments below!

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War on Piracy: Soon to Be the Most Expensive War

According to an article from the New Zealand Herald, The Recording Industry Assocation of New Zealand has spent $250,000 trying to chase down music pirates, but has only been able to collect $616.57 in damages, and that was only from one person, might I add. If you do the math however, that’s a profit of -$249,383.43.The article goes on to state that there is a 3 strike policy for copyright notices, and after a third strike the association can order an offender to pay up to $15,000, which has yet to actually happen.

Why has the Assocation spent so much money on chasing down pirates which usually won’t be able to pay the outrageous fees anyhow? According to the Rianz, they must pay $25 for each copyright notice they have an ISP send out. Rianz lastly goes on to say that they have tried to convince the government to lower the fee down to $2 a piece and would be sending around 5000 notices a month if they fee was lowered.

Now here’s the deal. Why would any company or organization continue to spend that kind of money when they aren’t getting results. Do the math and so far the Recording Industry Assocation of New Zealand has only made 0.24% of their investment back, and you can bet that they are going to continue pursuing these copyright claims as all the recording industries have been lately.

The reason the recording industry can claim that they are loosing money is because they really are. No one in their right mind would continue to spend money when the return on investment has been so low. Yes, piracy is a problem and I 100% agree with and understand that. However, the approach to it might not be that great. How can it be properly approached in order to stop it? If I knew the answer to that, I’d be a billionaire right now.

What has Caused Piracy?

It’s simple really, people no longer believe in paying for digital content. Who is to blame for this? I think a lot of it probably has to do with Google. They have created a business model where you provide the content and service for free, and then support it and make a profit through ads. Here’s where the problem comes in. Some people get so greedy that they don’t even want to see those ads, even though they are getting a service (we’ll use Gmail as an example) for free that they could easily be paying $5 – $10 a month for. If you block ads (and we’re talking about sidebar ads, not popups) then you are in essence stealing, because every ad impression on a site drives up cpm, and if that website is using an ad publisher that operates off of cost-per-click system (such as AdSense) then that means more revenue for the website once someone clicks on it just because you saw that ad.

Another thing that could potentially have caused piracy is the big boom in free software. Originally when large companies started to adopt the free software model it was to offer you a lighter version of a full program for free, and if you liked it you could buy the full suite if you needed all of that. This model also came to smartphones, and eventually we began seeing single developers developing applications for free just for the heck of it. People are no longer used to paying for what something is worth. I can name about 5 applications on my phone that I would be willing to pay $5 for and have since donated to those developers, because it does cost money and time to develop an application.

You Can’t Ignore History

No matter which way you look at it and however many times you try to justify it, piracy is steeling. Whether it’s legal or ethical is for you to decide, but either way it’s a form of steeling. Steeling has been around even since the common dollar, because in all reality no matter how much money a person might have, they still don’t like spending money on someone until they truly see a reason for spending that much money on someone. A millionaire might spend $250,000 on a new Ferarri simply to impress his friends that all drive $100,000 Mercedes. However, that same millionaire might not see any value in paying to have their pool professionally treated when they can just as well buy a $50 kit from the store and do it themselves in minutes. Ever hear the assumption that if someone says they don’t have money, they might just mean they don’t see the value in spending their money on whatever it is that someone is recommending to them or trying to offer them? People aren’t going to spend money on something if they don’t see it worth the money or don’t truly want it.

And Lastly… Anti-Piracy Methods That Work

There have already been some great anti-piracy measures that have truly worked. One of them is Adobe Creative Cloud. As we all know, Adobe software is extremely expensive. The full Adobe software suite can run you over $1000. Adobe knows very well that a lot of individuals can’t afford that, so they introduced Adobe Creative Cloud, which is essentially a software leasing program. For $20 a month you get access to a single app as well as online storage. When Adobe updates their app to a new version, you will get to use that new version at no additional charge. For $50 a month you can get access to the entire Adobe Creative Suite, as well as online storage. That’s pretty good, because even though with the full suite option of $50 per month you’ll be spending a total of $600 over the course of a year, the full software suite costs nearly twice that, and you have to pay another couple hundred when a new version come out.

Another anti-piracy method that I believe has worked very well is Spotify. Spotify allows you to search for any song on your computer and listen to it for free. For free users there is a limit and ads are played occasionally, but these ads help pay for the rights to play the songs. For $9 a month you can get unlimited listening on your computer and phone. That’s a pretty good deal, and the free option is especially great for those who don’t want to pay anything for their music. Sure, you don’t get to own a copy of the song, but you get all the music you want for free, so who’s complaining?

Will piracy ever end? Probably not. However, these efforts made by Adobe and Spotify, and many others that weren’t mentioned should help to keep it down to a minimum. People are never going to stop shoplifting, which means people are never going to stop pirating. We live in a materialistic society driven by the need, want, and desire for material things that should make us happy as well as make us look good to the other people around us. However, we all die eventually. Most of us will waste away 30 to 40 to even 50 years in some cases earning money to buy the house we want and the car we want, and once we die what we have left will be given to our loved ones or charities, to continue the endless cycle of earning to achieve our wants and desires.

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93% of British PCs Are Still Sold With Windows 7

According to PC Pro, 93% of the computers in the UK are still being sold with Windows 7, even though Windows 8 has been available to OEMs since August 1st, 2012. Stores in the United States almost always go straight to the newest (and hopefully greatest) operating system upgrade the second they can lay their hands on it, but apparently that just isn’t the case in the UK. Either partnership policies there are different or they just got a ton of Windows 7 machines stockpiled once they saw the consumer preview of Windows 8.

In the report from PC Pro, Paul Redford – Chairman of Computer Planet stated that originally “when Windows 8 was first released” they sold systems standard with Windows 8 “per Microsoft’s request”. Redford went on to state that his customers began to “specify systems with Windows 7″. Customers would have the product delivered and then request to have it changed to Windows 7, which “became a nightmare” for the company. One unlisted computer company told PC Pro that only 7% of their new PC orders have left the factory with Windows 8, which is very sad for Windows 8.

Later in the article from PC Pro, one computer retailer stated that customers are often happy with Windows 8 once they learn to accept the changes. I have to agree that I very much agree with this. When I downloaded and ran the consumer preview of Windows 8, it literally lasted me less that 5 minutes before I shut it down and booted back into Windows 7, that’s how bad I disliked it. Now, granted there wasn’t much I could do with it since it was a consumer preview and no applications were available for it besides basic Microsoft demos, I was still upset that Microsoft had to once again go and completely change the design in order to make a new operating system.

I got to try the full stable release of Windows 8 back a couple of months ago when setting up a new machine for a friend, and I have to say that i actually somewhat enjoyed using it. I was actually somewhat thinking of putting it on my current desktop machine, but I never did because I usually only do an operating system upgrade when I’m doing a major component upgrade.

Furthermore…

According to a Microsoft spokesperson who spoke to PC Pro, sales of Windows 8 licenses as a whole is similar to the sales trajectory of Windows 7. To date Windows 8 has sold 60 million licenses worldwide which is really a lot when you take into account that it has only been available to the general market for 3 months and PC sales as a whole (Mac OS and Windows combined) have been down for the most part lately. I think Windows 8 will live to see another day, but I just hope Windows 7 doesn’t get discontinued (from being sold) any time soon, because Windows 8 just doesn’t work for the average power user.

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