5 Things - Week Ending 7/12/13

This is the 48th 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.

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Google it. Everyone who has ever connected to the Internet knows what that means. But should it really mean use Google to search for/find something on the Internet? Or should it be a term for being bombarded with ads and white space when you’re looking for something. Google.com’s search results have all just become links to Google’s own services.
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Above you see a screenshot of Google.com taken on my 11-inch MacBook Air. I did the math and it appears only 16% of the screen is showing actual search results. The rest of the screen is either blank space, the Google search bar (18%), ads (51%), or a map of nearby mechanics (15%).

One of the reasons people fell in love with Google was that it offered high quality search results in a nice and clean format. When you now do a search on Google.com, over 50% of the screen may be covered in ads.

I have been using DuckDuckGo as my search engine more and more due to various frustrations with Google and this is one of them.


Free Wi-Fi? Beware of security risks

Larry Higgs:

Do you want to buy those shoes you are looking at online while sipping coffee and enjoying free Wi-Fi at the local bistro? Better stop before you shop.

This is a great article that highlights the dangers of using free Wi-Fi. Someone quoted in the article says that the chance of you being hacked while on public Wi-Fi is much greater than your home being burgarized.

The advice that I give during my Staying Safe In A Digital World community ed class is to never make financial transactions on public Wi-Fi. This articles goes even further suggesting that you not check sites like Facebook or login to your email accounts online.

I would strongly suggest that you take a few minutes to read this article!


GE just invented the first “internet of things” device you’ll actually want to own

Christopher Mims:

If you’ve always wanted to be able to check, from anywhere in the world, exactly how many eggs are in your fridge at home, the Egg Minder is for you. Sure, it sounds silly. Do we really need an internet-connected device and companion smartphone app to tell us something so inessential? But it’s no worse than most other examples of that growing category of products comprising the “internet of things” (the expanding realm of devices that send information to, and can often be controlled from, the internet). And, at a price that may ultimately be as low as $14, at least this internet-connected device has enough utility to justify its price.
 "© Quirky, Inc. All rights reserved."

"© Quirky, Inc. All rights reserved."

The internet of things describes a future where everyday objects will be connected to the internet and capable of communicating to other devicds. The Egg Minder is a product that would fit that description. I have received multiple phone calls from my wife in the 2.5 years that we have been married asking me to check to see if we need eggs. With the Egg Minder she could check an app on her iPhone to find out out how many eggs are left and how long each remaining egg has been in the fridge.

I have a feeling that by the year 2020, we will see all sorts of these types of devices in our homes.


AT&T Verizon Fees: The Duopoly is about to squeeze subscribers

Tero Kuittinen:

Noted mobile analyst Chetan Sharma has released his latest U.S. Wireless Market Update. It’s a grim road map to rising smartphone ownership costs for most Americans. AT&T and Verizon Wireless now hold 65% of the U.S. mobile subscribers. Since 2009, Verizon has added about 15 million new contract subscribers, while AT&T gained about 8 million. Sprint and T-Mobile have lost roughly 5 million contract subscribers each over the same period. This is why you will wake up one beautiful morning next autumn and discover yet another new surcharge or rate hike by the Big Two — their power continues to wax.

Sounds like AT&T and Verizon are going to start taking advantage of of their market positions by introducing new surcharges or rate hikes. They have so many people locked into contracts and family plans that they know you won't jump ship over an extra dollar or two per month.

I like to use prepaid carriers that don't require contracts so I can jump ship if I don't like the service or policies of the company.


Malware infestation running amok on Android

Ed Sutherland:

It’s not the sort of recognition any smartphone maker wants, but Android appears to be the platform of choice for nine out of ten mobile malware authors. The growth of malware apps targeting users of Google’s mobile operating system rose an unbeliavable 614 percent in just the last year, author’s of a new study found.

Perhaps even more discouraging is three-quarters of the mobile malware could easily be eliminated through software updates, yet ignored by 96 percent of Android owners. As for Apple’s iOS, it’s nowhere to be found on the malware hit-list, an area in which Apple is happy to hand to rivals…

This is one of the major selling points of Apple products. Macs are much less likely than PCs to get infected with viruses or malware. iOS devices (iPhones & iPads) are signifcantly less likely to get infected with viruses or malware than an Android based device.

This article points out that a large majority of the issues would be resolved if Android users kept their software up to date, but a majority do not. It is very important that you keep your software up to date on all your devices to provide the most protection against digital threats.


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