5 Things - Week Ending 7/20/12

This is the 17th post in a series called 5 Things. Each week I will share a combination of technology articles and apps that I have discovered and liked in the past week. Anything highlighted in blue is a link to an article, an app, or another section of my website.

Vertical Video Syndrome - A PSA

This video is hilarious. I have seen so many people taking vertical videos on their iPhones and it is horrible! If a person ever wants to watch the video on a screen other than their smartphone, it will be a terrible experience. Just say no to Vertical Videos.


Facebook Monitors Your Chats for Criminal Activity

Alex Fitzpatrick:

The software pays more attention to chats between users who don’t already have a well-established connection on the site and whose profile data indicate something may be wrong, such as a wide age gap. The scanning program is also “smart” — it’s taught to keep an eye out for certain phrases found in the previously obtained chat records from criminals including sexual predators.

I am all for catching sexual predators. My concern is that there is a fine line between protecting people from potential bad guys and our rights to privacy. It's one thing for the government to tap your phone with a warrant. It's another thing if they were to listen in to all phone calls and listen for potential words that might mean you are up to something nefarious. This is essentially what Facebook is doing with all your communications sent through their service.

Long time readers of my blog know that I have been thinking alot about online privacy in 2012 and I am really struggling with what I am okay with and what I am not.


The iPad Mini: Why Now Is the Perfect Time for a Small Apple Tablet

Christina Bonnington:

And let’s not forget that Apple has a rich history of going “mini.” After the iPod classic, Apple at different times released the iPod mini, shuffle, and nano to reach out to different MP3 player audiences, eventually making the iPod touch the flagship, full-sized model. So, an iPad mini would not be incongruent in the greater historical pantheon of Apple devices, especially considering Apple’s notebook offerings seem to be getting ever smaller and slimmer, too.

There is an old saying that goes something like this. There is no smoke without fire.

The past few weeks there have been numerous rumors and some stories from the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Bloomberg that suggest that Apple will be releasing an iPad Mini this fall. I think that there is probably some truth to this and that's why there is so much "smoke" right now on the topic. If I were a betting man (and I'm not), I would guess that we see the iPad Mini released in October at a price point of $249.

If this happens the iPad Mini will easily be the hottest selling electronic item this holiday shopping season.


Piper Jaffray: 80 million iPhone 5 sales are already "in the bag"

94.2% of iPhone users plan to buy an iPhone for their next phone, improving upon last year's rate of 93%

This doesn't surprise me. I don't know too many people who have purchased an iPhone and then switched to a competitor's phone. Apple's ecosystem of hardware, software, and online services is very difficult to leave once you have embraced them.


Amazon same-day delivery: How the e-commerce giant will destroy local retail.

Truck symbol seen in above image is by Edward Boatman, from The Noun Project collection is used under a CC BY License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0.

Farhad Manjoo:

It’s hard to overstate how thoroughly this move will shake up the retail industry. Same-day delivery has long been the holy grail of Internet retailers, something that dozens of startups have tried and failed to accomplish. (Remember Kozmo.com?) But Amazon is investing billions to make next-day delivery standard, and same-day delivery an option for lots of customers. If it can pull that off, the company will permanently alter how we shop. To put it more bluntly: Physical retailers will be hosed.

If Amazon can offer same day delivery on most items it will greatly change the way people shop. I really dislike having to make a trip to the store to pick up deodorant when I run out. If I could tap a few buttons on my iPhone and have deodorant delivered later that day it would be awesome. Now if I could only have fresh bananas delivered to my door each day...