News #14

Our business model is very straightforward: We sell great products. We don’t build a profile based on your email content or web browsing habits to sell to advertisers. We don’t “monetize” the information you store on your iPhone or in iCloud. And we don’t read your email or your messages to get information to market to you. Our software and services are designed to make our devices better. Plain and simple.
— Tim Cook CEO of Apple

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Krazy #9


State-of-the-art facial recognition technology, which had been the stuff of hypothetical privacy nightmares for years, is becoming a startling reality. It is increasingly being deployed all around the United States by giant tech companies, shady advertisers and the FBI – with few if any rules to stop it.
— Trevor Timm from The Guardian

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How Do Companies Make Their Money?

Apple CEO Tim Cook talks about consumer privacy, data, and Apple Pay in an exclusive two-part interview. The second part airs September 15, 2014 on CHARLIE ROSE.
We are not reading your email, we are not reading your iMessages.
— Tim Cook, CEO of Apple
Our business is not based on having information about you. You’re not our product. Our product are these [points to iPhone], and this watch, and Macs, and so forth. And so we run a very different company.

I think everyone has to ask, how do companies make their money? Follow the money. And if they’re making money mainly by collecting gobs of personal data, I think you have a right to be worried. And you should really understand what’s happening to that data, and the companies — I think — should be very transparent.
— Tim Cook, CEO of Apple

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5 Things - Week Ending 11/29/13

This is the 54th 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.

FAA to Allow Airlines to Expand Use of Personal Electronics

Passengers will eventually be able to read e-books, play games, and watch videos on their devices during all phases of flight, with very limited exceptions. Electronic items, books and magazines, must be held or put in the seat back pocket during the actual takeoff and landing roll. Cell phones should be in airplane mode or with cellular service disabled – i.e., no signal bars displayed—and cannot be used for voice communications based on FCC regulations that prohibit any airborne calls using cell phones. If your air carrier provides Wi-Fi service during flight, you may use those services. You can also continue to use short-range Bluetooth accessories, like wireless keyboards.

This is great news! I never understood why I couldn't read article on my Kindle or play games on my iPad during takeoff or landing. It looks like the Federal Aviation Administration has relaxed the rules.

Amazon Raises Threshold for Free Shipping

David Streitfeld: tightened the requirements for one of its most popular shipping methods Tuesday morning.

The change is to Super Saver Shipping, which for a over a decade mailed items free as long as the order met a $25 threshold.

The new threshold: $35. Amazon gave no reason for the change.

I think this move by Amazon is designed to encourage people to sign up for Amazon Prime (membership that cost $79 per year and offers unlimited free 2-day shipping on most items).

This makes good business sense because people will either purchase more items to make sure they get free shipping or pay for Amazon Prime. Most people don't like the idea of paying for shipping and would rather buy an extra $10 item to avoid a $4 shipping fee.

Kindle First Lets you Read E-Books a Month before Official Release

Nick Summers:

Editors at Amazon Publishing will choose four upcoming titles and highlight them for the Kindle First scheme. Readers can then pick one of these e-books to read each month on their Kindle or Kindle reading app for $1.99.

As an added incentive for its premium Amazon Prime membership, it’s also offering the scheme as a free bonus for new and existing subscribers.

I think this is a really neat program that Amazon just launched. If you are intrigued by one of the four books that Amazon editors pick out for early e-book release, you pay $1.99 (where in the real world could you purchase a brand new book for $1.99?). If you are an Amazon Prime member you get to pick one of the four books for free.

This month's selection is between the following four books:

  • Soy Sauce for Beginners
  • The Widow File
  • Timebound
  • Sweet Nothings (A Sugar Springs Novel)

I am debating if I want to get The Widow File or Timebound.

To learn more about Kindle First and to sign up for the monthly email to be notified of which books you can choose from, click on the link earlier in this paragraph.

I challenged hackers to investigate me and what they found out is chilling

Adam L. Penenberg:

With so much of my life reduced to microscopic bits and bytes bouncing around in a netherworld of digital data, how much could Nick Percoco and a determined team of hackers find out about me? Worse, how much damage could they potentially cause?

What I learned is that virtually all of us are vulnerable to electronic eavesdropping and are easy hack targets. Most of us have adopted the credo “security by obscurity,” but all it takes is a person or persons with enough patience and know-how to pierce anyone’s privacy — and, if they choose, to wreak havoc on your finances and destroy your reputation.

Fascinating article that shows how vulnerable most of us are when it comes to online security.

Speed and Power Packed Into a Thin iPad Air - Walt Mossberg - Personal Technology

Walt Mossberg:

Bottom line: If you can afford it, the new iPad Air is the tablet I recommend, hands down.

Agreed. I bought the iPad Air the day it came out and it is lighter, thinner, and much faster than the iPad 4 that came before it. If you like the iPad, you will love the iPad Air!

If you appreciate the free content on please support Mike by shopping on Amazon. If you click on the link and buy something, Mike will receive a small percentage of your purchase and it won't cost you any extra! Thanks for your consideration!

5 Things - Week Ending 10/18/13

This is the 53rd 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.

The $129 Nest Protect, launching this fall, is a handsome white square with rounded corners and an op-arty sunflower pattern. When smoke or carbon monoxide reaches a government-specified level of peril, the device performs like every other alarm. But what sets Nest Protect apart is its vocal warning before things get that bad. This feature has the potential to save lives: Millions of people intentionally disable smoke alarms because they’re fed up when the alert blares at the slightest hint of charred bacon. Nest’s verbal alert gives owners a chance to head off a heart-palpitating klaxon call when none is warranted, making it less likely they’ll rip out the batteries in disgust. And the Nest Protect will never wake you at 3 a.m. to inform you that the battery is low—instead, when the lights go down at bedtime, its gentle ring of light provides a status report. A green glow means all is fine; a yellow circle tells you that it’s time to replace the battery.

Nest is a company started by Tony Fadell (inventor of the iPod). Their mission is to take the unloved products in your home and make them into simple, beautiful, and thoughtful things.

In 2011, Nest introduced the Nest Thermostat. This fall they are introducting their second product, the Nest Protect. The Protect is a smoke detector that can sense smoke and carbon monoxide. The Protect connects to the Wi-Fi in your house and can communicate with your phone or tablet.

The Protect also offers some really great features:

  • No more frantically swinging towels at the smoke alarm to quiet it down. If there’s a nuisance alarm, just stand under Nest Protect and wave your arm to hush the alert.
  • In addition to an alarm sound, Nest Protect speaks to you with a human voice. It tells you what the problem is and where it is.
  • If there’s an issue, like the batteries need replacing, the light ring will glow yellow. Just wave at Nest Protect and it will tell you what’s wrong.

I have mentioned numerous times in past blog posts that we will continue to see technology invade more and more areas of the home and Nest is one of the companies that will make that a reality.

I am going to attempt to convince our landlords to replace our smoke detectors with the Nest Protect because we deal with false alarms on a frequent basis!

F.lux Helps Computer Addicts Sleep Better

Jon Russell:

In short, if you spend evenings (and early hours) sitting in front of a computer screen for any reason, F.lux will help you sleep better, by calibrating your screen’s brightness to the rise and fall of the sun in your location.

I highly recommend F.lux for anyone that uses a computer late in the day. I have been using it for a couple years now and I love it!

I wrote a blog post called The Tech I Use - f.lux that goes into a bit more detail about f.lux.

Think You Can Live Offline Without Being Tracked? Here's What It Takes

Sarah Kessler:

But even as more people become aware they are being tracked throughout their daily lives, few understand to what extent. In a recent Pew Internet study, 37% of respondents said they thought it was possible to be completely anonymous online. From experts like Sell, you’ll get a different range of answers about whether it’s possible to live without any data trail: “100% no,” she says.

This article highlights the various ways that we are being tracked online and in the real world. I found it fascinating to what lengths some people go to avoid being tracked. In my opinion, it is pretty much impossible to live under the radar in today's world.

HTG Explains: Why Does Rebooting a Computer Fix So Many Problems?

Chris Hoffman:

Ask a geek how to fix a problem you’ve having with your Windows computer and they’ll likely ask “Have you tried rebooting it?” This seems like a flippant response, but rebooting a computer can actually solve many problems.

This article explains why rebooting your device is the first thing us geeks recommend you do when you are having a problem with your technology.

It won't solve every problem, but it will solve many of them!

A long way home with help from Google Earth

Peter Birch:

In 1986, a five-year-old boy named Saroo Munshi Khan accidentally fell asleep on a stationary train in India. He woke up hours later, alone and in an unfamiliar place. This fateful train ride ripped Saroo away from his home and family. For more than a quarter century, he searched for them before finding his way back home with the help of Google Earth.

This is an amazing story of a man that found his family 25 years after being separated from them as a child. Without the use of Google Earth, I don't think it would have been possible for hime to be reunited with his family.

If you appreciate the free content on please support Mike by shopping on Amazon. If you click on the link and buy something, Mike will receive a small percentage of your purchase and it won't cost you any extra! Thanks for your consideration!

5 Things - Week Ending 8/23/13

This is the 51st 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.

I have a secret to tell you: There is a mobile app you’ve probably never heard of that gets 2.5 billion page views a month, substantially more than all of CNN. It’s called Whisper, and the youths just love it.

Here’s how it works. Anyone can post an anonymous message to the service in the form of an image macro: text overlaid on a picture. When you open the app, you see six such images. Each one has a “secret” on it. You can respond to a message publicly or privately, choosing a public anonymous post or a private pseudonymous chat. Users don’t have a public identity in the app. While they do have persistent handles, there’s no way to contact them except *through* the messages they post. The app is PostSecret, optimized like FarmVille.

I thought parents and grandparents of teens might want to know about one of the apps that the "kids" are using these days. The apps motto is What's your secret? Share it on Whisper.

It is interesting how this generation of kids feel so compelled to share every aspect of their life with others via social networks. I imagine when my mom had a secret she would write it in her diary and call it good.

I downloaded the app and browsed through some of the "secrets" that were near me. I even messaged someone that shared that they hated their sister sometimes.

I have included a few of them to give you an idea of what people in the Twin Cities are sharing with the world.

Remember the get-to-know-me chat of a first date or that final (good or bad) conversation with someone you knew for years? Chances are, as time has passed, your memory of those moments has changed. Did you nervously twitch and inarticulately explain your love when you asked your spouse to marry you? Or, as you recall it, did you gracefully ask for her hand, as charming as Cary Grant?

Thanks to our near-endless access to digital recording devices, the less-than-Hollywood version of you will be immortalized on the home computer, or stored for generations in some digital computing cloud.

There will come a time in the near future where anyone that can afford an iPhone will be able to purchase a device similar to Google Glass. This type of device will make recording daily conversations and moments even easier.

Imagine that you are at the Mall of America. You are having a conversation with your sibling about some health issues that your spouse is dealing with when you trip and go sprawling. Bags go flying everywhere including the contents of your Victoria Secret purchase. Some guy happened to be recording with his Google Glass and moments later he uploads the video to YouTube. The video catches on and before you know it, one million people have watched your embarassing moment.

Now that example might be extreme, but I don't think it is unrealistic. Someone could do the same thing today with their smartphone. It will just be much easier when a large percentage of the population as a video camera and microphone attached to their face all day long.

Key Nike FuelBand developer and fitness expert Jay Blahnik confirms new job at Apple, likely working on iWatch

Mark Gurman:

With Apple developing a wrist-watch device that focuses on health, sensors, and fitness purposes, the hire of Blahnik is absolutely critical and beneficial for Apple. Blahnik’s career has been about changing the behavior of people, and his experience could help Apple CEO Tim Cook write the book about how a wearable device could change a person’s behavior. It seems likely that someone with a fitness career as bright as Blahnik’s would only leave everything behind to work on something as potentially profound as an Apple wearable device.

Where there is smoke, there is fire. I think it is highly likely that Apple is working hard on the "iWatch". I mentioned in an earlier blog post that I thought that the "iWatch" was going to have a heavy focus on health. This recent hire lines up with my prediction of a health focused device.

I don't anticipate us seeing the "iWatch" until at least 2014 though.

Review: The Bose SoundLink Mini is the best-sounding portable Bluetooth speaker…ever

Seth Weintraub:

The sound. The Sound…and the Sound.
This is the best-sounding portable Bluetooth player I’ve ever heard. Full Stop. It is like magic what comes out of this thing. Take it to the beach or a public park and watch people freak out at how much deep, rich sound comes out of such a small object.

The Bose Soundlink Mini Bluetooth Speaker has received tremendous reviews. If you would like to play music wirelessly from your iPhone, iPad, or Android smartphone I would strongly recommend that you check out this little speaker!

So there are the reasons I’ve seen the minis keep their value so well. And in an technology world of “treasure today, trash tomorrow” it’s nice to know you can buy a machine that lasts a long time and is useful enough for others to keep a good value on resale.

This article attempts to explain why Mac minis hold their value quite nicely. I was helping my parents purchase a Mac mini in the past year and we considered buying an used Mac mini, but found the savings was significant enough so we ended up buying a new one.

I think the Mac mini is a great little desktop computer and it is nice to know that you could sell it a few years down the road and get back a large percentage of your purchase price.


If you appreciate the free content on please support Mike by shopping on Amazon. If you click on the link and buy something, Mike will receive a small percentage of your purchase and it won't cost you any extra! Thanks for your consideration!