The Corporation-Wide Web: Your Internets are shrinking like a cheap linen shirt.

5 years 6 months ago

Yes, I understand the title to this post is bad grammar, but its full of "Truthiness"...

Years ago, the Internet was a wild mass of pages with no central location, no source for finding anything, and it was lovely. You never knew what you'd encounter online, and you had to be part of a community to find a resource for specialized knowledge. Business went wild in the quest for inventing the next "one stop shop" for information and entertainment. In many ways, having a modem to connect you to the web was better than high-speed networks now; there were less ads, less harmful viruses, and we were spyware free. Our biggest problem was waiting 4 minutes for a large JPEG image to download.

In today's world, the web is much less complex... As predicted, companies have embraced the www and made iconic brands of places where the majority of people both on & off of the Internet go to find information. The concept of a single web site dedicated to a business is old school, now you also have to maintain a FaceBook page, a LinkedIn profile, do SEO to get ranked on Google and Bing, and you've also got Twitter and tons of sites you need to monitor and keep current just to gain a solid competitive edge and to quell PR incidents.

The changing landscape of the Internet requires many entities to carefully groom their image, some companies are paying other companies just to quell, if not delete negative comments from their customer bases online. There is also a sudden rise in the level of attention Government is paying to Internet regulation, as presented by an explosion of SOPA/PIPA discussions and protests online.

The Internet is shrinking, in the 90s we had a wide variety of sites that let you preview art, music, and video (media) on a massive scale. It was indexed by Yahoo, Lycos, AltaVista, Google, GeoCities, and on many other services. Now we have Google, YouTube, and FaceBook pretty much...

Google, YouTube, and FaceBook present an "Internet bubble" that serves as the main sources for information distribution on the web. Yes, sites like Reddit are coming into their own, but for the most part, the Top 3 sites on the web are
Google, YouTube, and FaceBook (not necessarily in that order). Each of these sites have characteristics that are similar to each other, and many different than each other, but they are all linked to the concept of sharing and displaying information that is not owned by the resources who are hosting them, this leads us to SOPA, legislation launched in the US to kill piracy and copyright infringement of digital content online.

SOPA emerged as an initiative to quell Copyright Infringement online launched by Congress in the United States. If you traced its origins, its not hard to determine that it came about by lobbies for media companies pressuring congressional seats to enact rules to protect the profits of these large media interests. There's nothing wrong with protecting your profits as a company, the usual way is to provide services and products that cannot be easily duplicated, and to position your price at a better (lower) point than your competitors. The main problem in this competition is that large-scale media retailers are competing with small (low overhead) independent media retailers, and they're beginning to lose money to these independent sellers. The way they decided to win the war against independent sellers is to cut out their channels for distribution by bundling harmful regulation into a bill under the guise of enforcing copyright protection for intellectual property.

The Internet has presented a great (possibly the best of all time) venue for selling, promoting, and distributing music and film. These media companies (that produce big-budget music and films) see their market share shrinking due to the conversion from hard copy media (CDs, Records, DVDs, etc. that only they could produce on a wide scale) to fully digital formats (which anyone can produce on a large scale). As computers and mobile devices proliferate, digital distribution will be king in terms of revenue and promotion for media artists from musicians to film makers, this we know.

One of the biggest media companies attached to SOPA support is UMG (Universal Music Group). UMG is one of the largest for-profit media groups on the scene right now, with lots of annual revenue on legal music sales from iTunes, and physical stores despite a declining rate of physical media sales. UMG was recently entangled in a public battle with a file sharing service called MegaUpload, a start-up company focused on ad revenue and digital sales. MegaUpload was intent on cornering the digital file sharing business, as well as ending iTunes'es reign on digital distribution. MegaUpload was a wide-reaching entity on the web, hosting vast amounts of files both legal and illegal (as alleged by authorities). This battle ended recently in UMG's favor, with MegaUpload being pulled off of the web entirely based on UMG's petition to their Internet Service Providers, and the founders/execs of MegaUpload currently face both criminal and civil suits in court.

This action occurred before any implementation of SOPA, not even a vote to adopt the policy had taken place, reaffirming that the US government has the rightful authority to shut down web sites found to be in violation of laws based on distribution of unauthorized digital content. One of the biggest reason an uproar from Internet communities occurred after this happened was that many law-abiding users were also affected by the take-down of MegaUpload. People who paid for hosting services, as well as people who depended on backed-up files they had on the service were instantly wiped out. What's scary to many, is that if SOPA was passed, a much larger scale of users would encounter the same problems with much more critical sites like YouTube, Google, and even Facebook. All of these sites currently link to content hosted on official sites in ways and means that SOPA prohibits. The legislation could turn the Internet back into a wild assortment of non-indexed sites, as we had in the dark ages, and it would also encourage a "seedy underbelly" to develop where users go to get bootleg material (we all know that piracy occurs regardless of steps taken to counter it).

On the flip-side, law enforcement agencies are paying attention to user communities and social media sites more than ever to assist them in solving and preventing crime... This practice would get much more complex, and probably harder if a sub-net grew to spread illegal digital material. Its modern-day prohibition on digital files in a way; In the 1920s when alcohol was illegal, organized trade created violence and organized crime groups that imported and traded alcohol. Perhaps the same can be said about what will happen if the Internet becomes more closed to restrict piracy, where groups will form based on selling unauthorized material for money in digital format, and they will be funded by hacked credit accounts, viruses, and malware on an increasing scale.

As a Congressional member, one should carefully weigh the consequences of legislation, and educate themselves on the issues involved. Now more than ever, public sentiment is that Congress does not understand the Internet. This is one of the main reasons why so many people are mobilized against The Stop Online Piracy Act. There are so many rights we stand to lose by just one bill passing through Congress.

The larger scale threat in SOPA is the restrictions it will place on small business, namely entertainment, software development, and other web-dependent ventures...

Tons of companies are in the business of creating patents that are stifling creativity world wide. These individuals, known as Patent Trolls register patents on a wild assortment of ideas without even having to submit a working proof of concept. The process of creating new software becomes daunting because of the potential that an individual or company has already patented your idea. The idea of being a full-time musician has become distant because of the huge costs of marketing that will get you to be noticed enough to grow a fan base. The idea of creating an independent film has become harder because of the rising cost of placing your movie in theaters, getting press, and even finding key talent...

Internet legislation that restricts the web deeply threatens the future of social media sites and web searches like Google and Microsoft's Bing. Policies of clearing content hurts individual producers because of the huge time and expense that will be required to get attention for your projects online. You won't be able to be featured along with films from large-scale media companies if YouTube is taken offline, you won't be able to sample any other artists, much less playing their music in a bar as a DJ, unless you pay for it all. Our existence becomes much, much, more expensive with this legislation looming over our heads, and we may not even get a chance to find out about great indie producers because they won't have the means to reach us if legislation of this kind passes.

Lets not confuse legislation with competitive pricing, positive marketing, and quality artists, products, and services that companies should be providing. Things that threaten competition should never be supported, because fair competition (without strategic price fixing and other similar tactics) is what fuels better pricing. Large corporations "sitting back" and using proceeds to enforce their copyrights and other restrictions against consumers/their user base without having to improve the services and products they provide is not a healthy business model for the future.

The other, more positive outcome for this debate is to consider the benefits of lowering the price of digital downloads (and selling more volume as a result of the lower cost). Its no surprise that the cost of downloading a digital album on iTunes is not far off from the price of buying it on CD, and sometimes you've got to ask yourself why? Why are digital downloads so expensive when manufacturing costs are taken out of the equation? Even marketing costs are reduced now that media companies don't have to set up displays in 20,000 record and video stores... But why hasn't cost reflected those savings? Perhaps this hints at the ideal that pirates aren't the only "crooks" on the ship?

This is why I fear today's Internet is shrinking like a cheap linen shirt; These large media conglomerates want to prevent individual distribution because it poses a threat to their structure and profits... These companies want to ensure that their partner outlets (such as iTunes) are the only sources for digital sales so that pricing can remain high. And on top of preserving market shares, they want to ensure that there are few places you can go to preview digital content that they can't control. With legislation of this kind, we may be forced back into the dark ages. The era in which we only had broadcast radio would be tough to go back to after years of being able to find you own personalized and favorite music, and listening to whatever you wanted to (whenever you wanted to listen to it). Regulations of this kind, and digital rights management place the devices we buy (computers, TVs, and mobile devices) on "wires" restricted from the open web. Soon it may be hard to choose your media if regulations of this kind are ignored and permitted to become the norm, and many fear that SOPA's failure will only lead to re-submission of the same policies with a new name... Lookout World, be careful what you buy, you might be supporting those that seek to limit your options!

CircuitBored

Integrity cannot be swept under a rug...

5 years 7 months ago

If you watch the news like I do, Washington DC is "scandal city" these days. If an actor or actress leads a shady life, many talk, but amid lies that tabloids tell, and a limited exposure to their real lives most of the speculation that haunts actors rarely ends their careers. In politics the game is quite different. Entire presidencies can be wound up in a nutshell over just once incident of indiscretion. The way a President or High-Level Post Holder carries themselves in public serves as their legacy. For example, if I mention Bill Clinton, many only remember his (alleged) affair with Monica Lewinsky. If I mention the name "Kennedy", for many it evokes images of John F's assassination and his association with Marylin Monroe.

The thing this tells us about life is that a person's legacy can easily be marred by negativity or put in a nutshell way too easily. To many people, how they're remembered doesn't matter. To many people who don't live in the public spotlight, the only impressions that matter to them are the way that they're perceived by friends and family. What I can't seem to grasp about our modern-day society is how many people forget about indiscretion and negative events in their past before running for public office... There is a high rate of public meltdowns over scandal these days that poses a threat to human integrity.

I believe morality and integrity came about way before any religion. Its a basis of how a person transcends their normal human classification and becomes a legend. We can all think of someone cut from a different mold, who in the face of opposition came out smelling like roses... This is the way most people in life want to be remembered deep down inside.

One's past should be a paramount consideration before running for public office... Too often, the decision to run is based on a trend of brief popularity without a thorough background check (Also referred to as vetting). This turns the elections cycle into a media circus that only seeks to single out people and create news based on comedic errors committed by public figures.

When you fail in the public spotlight these days, not only will your accusers perk up at the opportunity to call you out, so will the news media. Herman Cain is the latest example of this seemingly massive oversight. The public loves to throw stones from glass houses, but when it comes to the Office Of The President, there are few less scrutinized positions of power in the US. A person in the process of making a decision to run needs to consider their past, and the things that can come up to haunt them. Doing so cautiously, along with maintaining a solid reputation (in my opinion) are key factors in determining the intelligence of a candidate. This important intelligence measure should weigh heavily in electing people to positions of power because the secrets and policy they handle will require the same level of dignity if not more.

Integrity and honesty and candidacy are key attributes that people seek in a president. When a candidate faces scandal in the course of running for office, it can more often than not kill their hopes for winning. We counter scandal by how we live our daily lives, no-one is perfect though we may try, and accusations can also be falsely levied against us. The way we carry ourselves in the midst of controversy is also an important factor in overcoming a tough situation, and also a great measure of a good personality for positions of power.

Arrogance often negates the characteristics mentioned here that save candidates from meltdown over scandal. If a candidate attacks their accusers with arrogance the resulting public perception can skew to believe that the candidate is a strong personality that can overcome weak accusers, or it may skew the opposite way to indicate that the candidate is a total bully. I propose a more level method of maintaining a reputation -- Being factual. One must practice integrity daily, one must make amends for wrongdoings with those they've hurt or offended, one must also work to be a better person with every day. None of us are perfect, nor eve without scandal, but if you don't take the time out to balance your actions, they very well may end up consuming your career, whether its Politics or otherwise...

I say "otherwise" because I am constantly reminded of the case of Bishop Eddie Long -- Accused by young men of abuse, Mr. long served as a top level pastor at an Atlanta Mega-Church. Funds donated to the church in good faith were funneled into supporting a lavish lifestyle. People were mislead, all by a man who took a "higher oath of office" than the President. It shows a personal lack of faith in the very morals the church operates on. Not because Bishop Long was a gay man, but because he emerged as a liar, manipulating his pulpit to fuel his underground obsession that contradicted everything he told others to uphold. It is not for me to judge, but to me hypocrisy of this kind seems to be one of the worst offenses to integrity. A growing number of Americans are turning towards atheism possibly because this type of hypocrisy has been occurring at an alarming rate. On the other hand, this year, Jerry Sandusky's career was ended, along with Joe Paterno's career over Sandusky's actions. Now both face a legacy marred by scandal. Conrad Murray, Michael Jackson's formal doctor has suffered from scandal as well, and He's a doctor, now facing 2 (maybe more) years in jail and loss of his license to practice.

Its easy to say things of this nature will never impact you. We live in a modern world where people document epic failures of hubris and arrogance of man. In order to succeed in this life, you must also be a sponge for emotions, sucking your feelings up and turning the other cheek. We all carry heavy burdens in life that can all too easily turn us into people that commit bad actions. The key to long-term success here is preventing ourselves form going too far. As a world citizen, we have to continually make sure we aren't creating victims from our actions, and that we're balancing out everything we do by being considerate, thoughtful, cautious, and calm. My intent is not to scare you over the things you've done wrong in the past, more-so to remind you that its probably best to come to grips with your actions and that its probably best to not run for positions of power, spotlight, and influence if you've made a habit of forgetting and ignoring the negative things you've done in the past.

CircuitBored

Why Reddit.Com will become Twitter and FaceBook's biggest competitor...

5 years 8 months ago

The beginning of a "post social media" society is happening before us. The masses on Facebook are becoming frustrated with the services that were meant to make their lives easier. Yes, they are mostly free services, but people expect them to be run as if we pay for them because we inadvertently do. We actually DO pay for these services every time we click, because we fuel hits on these sites, which drives advertising revenue. We also sign up for these sites which expands their user base. We also enter information about ourselves which is bought and sold under that table, many times over without us knowing. And lastly, we click on links on these social media sites and buy goods and services they advertise, from which, money goes back to social media sites in the form of ad revenue.

Is it insane to expect a certain level of service, privacy, security and commitment? No - The way we as human users inhabit these sites and make them massive and dynamic social circles makes them money, we are paying for the services we use. We also add the largest percentage of interesting content to these sites, we spend lots of time promoting their sites to new users. Ask yourself - When was the last time that FaceBook or Twitter had to run a commercial to let people know it existed? In that you can see the work that users have done, and that its not unusual to expect a certain amount of respect and courtesy by the company for its success.

Lately, I've been spending a lot of time on Reddit.Com, its a useful and fairly dynamic site based on content which is posted by anonymous users. In fact, I have spent more time in the last year on Reddit.com than on FaceBook and Twitter. When I realized this, it drove me to consider why that's happening...

Reddit's user base is anonymous, the user account you create does not care about your birthday, who your friends are, or your favorite color. You can make any post you want on Reddit (based on a few simple rules currently) from posting an image to posting links to pages on other sites, or your own written content. Content is moderated by users who earn a certain rank, but users seem to conform in terms of what they post. Its basically the same kind of content you'd find in a Twitter post or in a FaceBook status update, it allows for much more of that content by not limiting characters or requiring you to use a share tool to make your content conform to a certain style. Reddit.com allows for threaded discussion of the posts by all users on the site. Once you make a post on Reddit, everyone has the potential to see it, however, all content posted is moderated by the user base first... Reddit.Com allows its community to "upvote" and "downvote" posts, though it can turn extremely political what gets voted up and what gets voted down.

The community on Reddit.Com seems to have avoided the politics of popularity by taking away the prominence of identity (user names) in posts. The user names are not prominent in posts because all accounts are anonymous. A user can post information about their private lives if they choose to do so, but after years using FaceBook and filtering what you want to say for political correctness because (for example) your mom has befriended you (and can see all of your posts), it would be nice to be able to post your opinion and let a group of people tell you if its favorable solely by clicking on an "upvote" button.

Don't get me wrong, I believe that FaceBook and Twitter are useful, I have a fair amounts of friends and followers on my accounts but it often seems unfulfilling to make continual posts to an audience of just my peers - They get accustomed to my posts, they know what to expect, they've seen it all before, and a lot of the time they're not even logged in. I am not fond of the fact that I have to put hours into "grouping" and adding new friends on these social media sites. FaceBook and Twitter rely on me to be engaged every waking minute to drive my own user base with notifications from mobile apps popping up every minute just to tell me about something that is really not engaging to me, it feels a little bit like social media slavery having to work to make my page popular, on a site where I'm buried into a group of "friends" and "followers". There is no filter for what's relevant or important to me on FaceBook beyond content that has been "liked" which is often a political game focused on the popularity of who posted the content.

Reddit.Com is on its way towards being a major competitor to these sites because it takes the focus off of the people posting content and makes it about whats rated highest by its user base... This ideal makes things interesting to me again. Post are funnier, I don't have to do any work to cultivate a popular profile, I don't have to worry about my privacy being compromised as much, and I don't have to be logged in every day to clear notifications. This has proven to be the easiest way of using social media. When i create new music, I post it to Reddit and then forget it. The upvotes and comments I come back to tell me whether its at hit or not usually, driving feedback for my art, which is one of the primary reasons I got onto social media sites to begin with.

Without praising Reddit.Com too much, there are many innovations that can be made to make the site better, namely design and post categories, but managing large user base as it has, and being so unstructured presents challenges which require a different way of thinking about what a social media site should be. Take a look at all of the new features that FaceBook and Twitter have added since their inception and you'll see that they've been playing a cautious game. The sites have introduced new features, but still remain essentially the same. One of the biggest areas they need to improve in is promoting their individual users. Its getting harder each day for artists to join FaceBook and Twitter and to subsequently develop subscribers. People want feedback and active participation in their own content, as much as they want to see interesting posts from others they like. Unless FaceBook and Twitter begin to open their communities beyond people who follow each other and people who are logged in, they will miss out on the changing tides of their user's expectations.

Reddit.Com is growing at a rapid pace because of the current frustration people have with social media sites, its also growing because of its ease of use, and its growing because its based on anonymity. In the coming months, I predict that Reddit will prove to be a major competitor to the most prominent social media sites because of its focus on content rather than users. People don't want a new mobile app to get notifications about event invites, they want engaging content and a place to post ideas and content of their own that they deem engaging. People don't want a site based on algorithms that tailor marketing towards them based on their deemed personality and preferences into a closed Internet bubble, they're beginning to realize that they want all the information up front and then to vote on what they like.

CircuitBored

Your quarrel is not just with Wall Street.

5 years 9 months ago

Citing the protests going on for over a month in the US against Wall Street, its important to not overlook important facts in the matter; Big Business is undermining your right to competitive pricing, to choice, and to keeping money in your wallet.

These days, competition is an illusion; manufacturers and retailers have grown into large international companies with interests and plants overseas. It should come as no surprise that iPhones and BlackBerries are made in the same factories, or more often than not, by the same companies. A report by Gizmodo cites the cost of a traditional iPhone as 250$ (per unit) here: http://gizmodo.com/229664/iphone-only-costs-250-to-make-rest-of-price-is... The newer iPhone (reportedly) even costs less to make: http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news/1719652/iphone-cost-usd18751

So with a lowered cost of business in producing mobile devices, along with streamlined materials and processes, why are iPhones selling for 400 dollars? Because of CAPITALISM. Don't get me wrong, I'm all about free markets, but citing the current state of the US economy, its not hard to see how the rich (Who are at the helm of some of the largest and most profitable companies ever) keep getting richer and cornering the physical wealth in the current US economy.

I'm not just citing the iPhone, but it is quite an easy target citing that the company that makes it (Apple) at the time of this article holds more money than the US treasury. SOURCE: http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2011/07/30/apple-now-has-more-ca...

We can cite many other cases of high price margins in fuel refining prices, which are determined by OPEC, driven to historic highs, quadrupling in a mere matter of a few years. We can also cite the price of milk, produce, and grains, which are dramatically increasing at an unprecedented case despite revolutionary cost cutting methods that were instituted years ago. "Organic" is now synonymous with "more expensive" when it comes to the modern grocery shopping experience. When it comes to food and basic necessities, price fixing and artificial inflation impacts the second and third world countries on our planet in a devastating manner. The current cost of consumer goods are contributing to a rise in poverty in the US greatly, ensuring that lower income families go hungry, and without basic needs, on a greater scale each day. Health care has become a luxury, for the wealthy and a huge unexpected expense for lower and middle class residents in the US that can totally devastate a person while they're already crippled with unemployment. For a perfect-paying homeowner in the midst of a mortgage, a single bout with unemployment can provide a lifetime setback which cannot be comprehended by anyone who can offer them any sort of real help.

Its horrible when the classes are so far apart financially that they can't realistically envision the suffering that the poor class faces. Now a lot of the problems poorer classes had in the 90s are problems of the middle class today. We have gated communities that put up walls to keep the negative impressions that suffering creates out. Now in the age of the super rich, the idea of a person with 100 million dollars in their bank account ever seeing a genuinely homeless person in their lifetime, much less helping a homeless person is really slim. Television is often the only thing that gives impressions to us about people we don't know.

Television paints pretty pictures of life, and they're often outside of the constraints that most people live in life. A person can only get a true idea of the bleak reality that lower income groups face by seeking out information about it. With the change in the current economic dynamic of the US as a country, middle and lower income families and individuals are not at the forefront of politicians minds. They no longer represent the primary contributors to political campaigns. Though they have power to vote, its money that drives winning, so we're all seeing an increasing spin on candidates based on "tax cuts for the wealthy" and new legislation to de-regulate or bend rules for big business operations. When it comes to laws that impact lives of the majority, they often get mired in arguments until they fizzle out, or they are repealed into oblivion. This is the case with the 2011 Jobs Bill and Health Care Reform. The majority is taking a back seat in this society, and its been going on ever since wealth shifted. I'm about to tell you my philosophy on the "cause" of the wealth shift, then I'll elaborate on how balance can be restored.

I have a theory, and yes its possibly controversial. I believe that the world, through buying high priced fuel, has been funding the building of Dubai... For those that don't know, Dubai is an all modern city deemed part of the United Arab Emirates. The revolutionary city is indeed impressive, with a lot of development funded by Saudi Arabia and Dutch investors though the primary resource fueling its growth has been oil exports. SOURCE: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dubai . In order to build a country of this magnitude quickly, great wealth is required, but also a continual cash flow; There is nothing better to "fuel" this growth than oil.

It wasn't until after the Gulf War of 1990 that Dubai began to surge as an impressive all new infrastructure city, isolated by vast stretches of desert, a plan emerged to build some of the worlds largest, most opulent, and tallest buildings for the wealthy elite to live in. Saudi princes, already rich on years of oil trade invested tons of money they had made into building this new isolated city as a haven for business and pleasure in the region, governed by the U.A.E. Some rules are strict by Western standards, but it was no coincidence that just after 1990 that gas prices began to rise in countries they exported to, with a huge surge occurring in the more recent years to now. The days of dollar-per-gallon gas disappeared in the late 90s and then soared into the oblivion of $4.50 per gallon in 2009, which was mysteriously in sync with the beginning of THE WORST ECONOMY EVER (since the Great Depression) in the US.

If you ask a member of OPEC why the global price of fuel skyrocketed, they'd possibly tell you about market speculators driving the price, but the people who pocket the money will tell you all of their production costs have gone up. On the other hand, paper records will show that gas companies are having their most profitable years ever in a bad economy, even despite a major Gulf Oil Spill "suffered" by BP. This alone is de-facto evidence that capitalism has been turned on its head. You may have Exxon, Shell, Hess, BP, and as many other gasoline retailers as you want, which creates a sense of free-market competition, but their suppliers are the same source, and that source is fixed at a high price by oil exporting countries, your highly dependent model of Capitalism fails, and you're hiding and harboring a veiled Monopoly, which goes against the core principles of true Capitalism. In order for Capitalism to thrive, you must foster true competition, to drive innovation, and cost-cutting measures that add positively to good reputation and sales for all companies involved.

The reason why pretty much every consumer good that requires transport (at any point) has skyrocketed is first because this rising cost of fuel. This we already know but, in order to make a car, parts need to be shipped to a plant, then they are assembled into a car, then the car is shipped to a sales point. In that equation, there are at least 2 points where fuel impacts the cost of doing business. I know, big deal right?!? The fact is that even for employees to get to work, for the food they eat, for fuel to bring coal or supplies to the power plant that drives the factory you work in, fuel prices increase almost all costs of doing business dramatically.

A company that manufacturers goods, a store, or distributor; all of these entities need to make a profit or they cannot thrive. I acknowledge and respect an individuals right to make a profit in a Capitalist system its fundamentally fair; Where I have a problem is when companies, realizing that they are a sole source for a good or service, seek to capitalize on profiteering by creating large profit margins. Yes, markets and investors drive this hunger, its currently out of control, and it needs to be brought to a sustainable level in order to bring the US economy back into stability.

There is a balance between making a profit and adding value to the lives of consumers. Consumers can be considered as a limited resource in any business, just like oil or money, if companies tap their pool of eligible consumers for all of their money, and deplete their ability to earn and spend, companies also suffer as a result. This concept is "Environmental Preservation" for 2011. Understanding the impacts of cornering financial markets, and earning large amounts of wealth without accountability creates a void in the natural flow of the US economy, which fosters all of us. Being "Eco Friendly" from a business perspective shouldn't just involve installing smelly waterless urinals and low-impact fluorescent lights. The concept should involve profit sharing. A company should never seek to be a monopoly because this kind of behavior is destructive to the very principles that Capitalism relies on, as part of a working economic environment. As an individual or company Investors and C.E.O.s need to take deep stock in reducing overall profit expectations to new (more reasonable) levels that allow consumers to be a continual resource for years to come. Wall street needs to reconstruct its expectations and to stop reaching for goals beyond normal means, and "get rich quick" schemes.

When companies evaluate expenditures, costs, and losses, executives need to consider costs and benefits of their products and services to their consumers, and then pass savings and value to customers along with appeasing shareholders. As an executive, providing high value goods and services at a reasonably chosen price, you ensure that your company will survive into the future, and you'll gain success and wealth over time, along with a solid reputation. Don't forget your customers in lieu of investors. This is a key point in making the ideal of capitalism work. A large problem with the now, is the amount of traders and investors that seek immediate earnings, immediate reward, and immediate success, with these expectations, its no wonder why the cost of goods and necessities in the US are spiking. This is also the same reason that tax payer funded services are declining and why social programs are shrinking. Companies that are wealthy and individuals that have money to invest are not spending, even to improve their own companies or to make laws and business better for everyone.

Its important in the formation of the "Occupy" movement that we also acknowledge the rising cost of consumer goods, and how its reducing our ability to make ends meet. We've managed to achieve great feats of innovation which were sold to us based on the benefits and costs savings they'd bring to our lives, but many companies have forgot the "cost saving" component and are passing every increase in cost on directly to consumers along with the cost of heavy profit margins for goods they sell.

So how do we get to a point where an iPhone costs 420 dollars and a gallon of gasoline costs 4 dollars? Lets look deeply at how much goods and services cost to produce, then look at the people who profit massively from it being overpriced. Lets stop feeding those who gain large amounts of wealth by not buying over priced goods and legislating fairness and sharpening consumer protection. Lets stop supporting and lauding businesses and people who don't operate in accountable and reasonable manner to contribute to a healthy economy. Lets remove our personal expectations and admiration of "being the richest person ever", and replace it with being financially comfortable, coexisting, and allowing everyone the same opportunities that we had.

CircuitBored

Bank of America advises you to "save your money" by charging your account more...

5 years 9 months ago

I'm trying to get into the habit of writing timely editorials; things "right before they hit the news networks". I also want to make sure to write about things that impact us all. If you have any suggestions, or editorials of your own, submit them to us here: http://www.circuitbored.com/content/share-your-ideas

Today, all over the news, is the story of a new pilot program Bank of America is instituting; Charging all of their customers who use their debit cards for transactions 5$ per month. Not a big fee for many, 5$ can't even buy a pizza anymore (after tax) but this means a heck of a lot of money when you consider that this one bank holds 12.2% of all US deposits, covering about 80% of the US banking population. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bank_of_America .

Some of the largest companies that reside in the US set trends for others, Bank of America has grown to be the largest holding company in the US so its not a stretch to say that they influence the industry heavily. If they create a policy change, other banks listen in on their opportunity moves. This means that the institution of a 5$ fee on every account they hold will be likely to permeate many other banks, if not all, soon as a common industry practice.

No why should anyone be up in arms over new banking fees? Its simple; Banks were created originally to ensure a safe place to keep money, they generated interest on accounts as encouragement for customers to use them. They carefully loaned money to those same clients to finance purchases of land, cattle, business ventures, and personal property which earned them more interest than they paid out to account holders. These types of banking fees turn the traditional model of banking upside down. Now middle and lower income customers are likely paying to keep their money in banks, and getting loaned the same money at increasing rates.

If you asked anyone from 20 to 30 years ago if they expected banking to get to a point where you'd be charged more interest than your account paid just to gain access to your money, they'd probably laugh at you. Now a sense of apathy is common when large companies completely change the terms of their contracts with us as consumers. Contracts are the foundation of ethical business, they are what secures business agreements, and ensures successful completion of projects when money is involved. The concept of contracts that secure business seems to be lost on individual consumers when doing business with big business. Companies frequently use binding and well defined contracts in dealing with each other, and they sue each other when those agreements are broken. Why then, is it increasingly so, that contracts between individuals and companies are often written vaguely, and in disappearing ink? How can a company dramatically change their terms with a client whenever they feel like doing so? Because they retain lawyers well versed in "escape clauses".

If I run a grass cutting business, charging 60$ per yard with the right to change pricing at any time, and for any reason, why should I even require contracts as a basis of doing business? They prevent my price from going to 180$ before your bill comes in, that's why! This way, a client can choose when they want their grass cut and when they don't want to spend the money, possibly in winter, when grass does not tend to grow. But Banking is a little different. You cannot decide exactly when and when not to pay fees for doing business, because you have to physically move your money to change banks, and notifying a customer, and giving them a chance to "opt in" is also an essential right to unscheduled cost increases.

Years ago, my original bank was a small bank called "Equitable", long before the days of Wal-Mart and Bank of America, I actually earned .03% interest on that account back then, around 1989. This was before ATM cards, people wrote on these things made out of paper called checks. My bank was bought out by a company called Nations Bank later on. I thought nothing of it because they assured me that all of the rules and benefits that my prior bank account promised me would be carried over, and nothing would change, except my bank's name. The truth is, I had a contract with Equitable, and not Nations Bank. Rules on my account DID change, and many of them behind the scenes. I thought nothing of this, because even though the interest they paid me was shrinking rapidly, to the point of a meaningless trickle, I always held out thinking that "At least they'd never charge me to hold my money!". Boy, was I wrong! This all changed dramatically when Nations Bank became Bank of America. All bets for not paying to deposit my money were off, and worse yet, from starting my original bank account with Equitable, where I was promised a "charge free" and "interest-bearing" bank account, those contractual obligations have been arbitrarily changed, and I never signed a single document authorizing these changes to happen. They have been bending the rules. I shouldn't have to call a company to complain over something so rudimentary and intuitive, there are government agencies to prevent these types of transgressions, but nothing is being done.

In 1999 I mortgaged a house with Bank of America, and started a credit card based on the stellar account history I had with them. They gladly signed me up for interest loans ranging from 6 to 10%, earning my bank well over 14,000$ per year (in interest) on loans they made to me. Meanwhile I made a grand total of 3$ (probably less) in year-to-date interest on both my savings and checking accounts during the same year; I was far from being rich at the time; but 3$ earned in one year on my bank account!? That can't even buy a wallet. I could have made more money with scratch-off lottery tickets... What does this mean? It doesn't mean that I got "shafted", my investments were sound, but it meant that the bank was making KILLER profit on my money, and not passing any of the profit back to depositors, who are giving them the very money they lent out, and for years. This used to be the number one "business balance factor" for the banking industry; To only lend based on their tendered deposits. That kept interest rates on loans low, and made banks value individual customer service more. It also kept banks from alienating customers with bogus fees. This 5$ monthly fee on debit card use is a bogus fee. Its emerged out of a bank that is so big, it knows that customers have little choice in the matter, and instead of providing real value for its depositors, this shows a move of Bank of America to turn its depositors into paying customers. One could maybe infer that this change of attitude for banking and investments led to the housing meltdown, and led to widening financial division class-wise. Its obvious who is most impacted by the difference in interest payouts and interest lending; the poor and middle classes, your grandparents, and people who don't know any better.

The main ideal I have a problem with is that a company can start an agreement with a customer, making all kinds of contractual promises about benefits and features, and then subtly change this agreement for their sole benefit over time through escape clauses. This is something that undermines the very fabric of trustworthiness in business. We see open-ended contracts on the rise with everything from Cell Phone Carriers to Social Media Sites. With open ended contracts, companies can change terms thereby invalidating any statement they make to sell a product. Of course people don't read contracts, but why read them if they're subject to change at any time? Where will we be in 20 more years? Will we have to pay 500$ before using a credit card with 50$ on it? Will we be paying higher taxes and then a credit card swipe fee for every purchase at the supermarket? In cases of this, a customer loses, while the company is so large, they fail to see any significance in their customers as an individual. This is why I generally favor small business. Its much more accountable, because they need their customer base to survive. Greed only works on a large or monopolistic scale, by making sure you support smaller businesses, you ensure your rights won't get trampled (at least until big-business buys your small bank out!).

Lets hope bank transaction charges like this don't continue to "catch on" as a common practice. Fostering honest competition without PRICE FIXING is one of the best ways to ensure that this doesn't happen. Otherwise, I'm going back to keeping money under my mattress, at least there it won't generate any fees and it will generate lots of "lint-erest"! (sorry for that one).

CircuitBored

Embracing "The Friend Zone": Dating "without actually dating" in the year 201X...

5 years 9 months ago

I came across this video on Reddit.Com today and it reminded me that there's a wider variety of subjects to speak on besides technology:


(NSFW)

Here's the thread with all the comments. (I like to cite my sources whenever possible): http://www.reddit.com/r/videos/comments/ku0l0/louis_ck_at_his_best_its_a...

So why did I post this? Because many people, including myself have gone through a case of heartbreak similar to the one shown in this video... Especially when we were younger. I am single at this particular point (as a disclaimer) but happily so, and I enjoy NOT DATING, yet working on a basis of friendship that usually evolves into the best outcome for me even if my friendships don't work out! You may ask me why I don't date... I don't ever care to "date" again to be honest; I see "going out on a date" as a key assumption that you're being evaluated for marriage or mating potential, which can prove to be a big nervous interview sandwiched between your expectations of each other. Usually on dates, one person becomes more attracted when the other person is not, then this turns into resentment or heartbreak. No sir, I'm done with the process of "dating".

After spending an enormous amount of time in a relationship, or spending time with someone as a friend, people find out that their partner may not be fully invested in the relationship. This is demonstrated by divorce, broken leases, keyed cars, black eyes, and much worse. Many people turn angry, many people become suicidal, and many suck it up an move on in these cases. A rare few in these cases handle the situation the right way, and succeed at creating a spark that can last a lifetime...

The first thing we have to acknowledge before starting in relationships is that each person is an individual, responsible for their actions, and free to make whatever choice they desire. You cannot "make" a person love or even understand you. You can, however, make yourself more attractive, suitable, or emotionally appealing to them by changing your usual approach, which will be detailed later. We have to understand that we don't always have answers for why we and others "feel a certain way". We also have to acknowledge the way we feel today may likely not be the way we feel days, months, and years into the future. The things we like, and are attracted to are constantly changing; partially because of our environment, mostly because we are changing ourselves, and being exposed to new influences. Understanding how to deal with rejection and change, and how to put a positive spin on them is the key to staying afloat in today's world.

Starting out, in finding the right person for you, is usually based around both people having common interests; whether it may be religion, art, music, places you like to go, etc... If you find someone with radically different interests than you, you may have a bumpy road ahead of you, but if you're willing to change yourself to meet 90% of the way, it might work, for at least a while, until you get tired of being who you aren't... This is exactly why you should never have to change yourself dramatically, or subvert your goals desires, and ways of living to gain a mate. If your family matters to you, never give up on them in order to have a relationship, work out a means of keeping them in your life (Provided that your family members are not the ones doing harm to your relationship).

Personal appearance is a huge industry, this we know. We spend billions of dollars on clothes, cars, jewelry, houses, makeup, shoes, and tattoos. In terms of life, Its my belief that most people do this to stand out, its a way of showing the peacock we wish we were... Though we were given the traits of logical reasoning and verbal communication, we humans also still have not lost some of our animal instincts. Cologne and perfume, for example, can appeal to subconscious animal instincts through the use of scents, which trigger emotions, memories, and desires within us. Cologne and Perfume can often be polarizing as well, some scents put people off from you, and the neutral ones have little to no effect on potential mates, its not a precise science, but it can work. Pick a scent you like, and it will help you to find someone who is similar to you in that aspect. Its that simple, yet people often pick colognes that others like, and this can lead to finding the WRONG mate for you!

In the same way cologne and perfume work, when you meet someone, you may have habits and traits about you that remind people of their parents, places they've been to, or past loved ones, and the memories may either be positive or negative.
As humans, we spend a lot of time wooing people that aren't initially attracted to us that we lose a sense of who we are. Defining your own personality puts you in better position to find the right potential mate.

Whenever a friend of mine encounters a breakup I tell them that there are 6,775,235,700 people in this world, if we were to assume that half were not the type of people we'd be attracted to (elderly, infirmed, opposite sex, related to us, etc.) that still leaves 3,387,617,850 people, while we're just one of them. If another half of that was removed, for reasons like proximity, or already being married or engaged, that still leaves 1,693,808,925 people. Take even a half of that of for incidentals and you've still got a pool of 846,904,462.5 potential, and eligible mates on this planet just for yourself (don't ask me how you'd date .5 of a person, but that's how the math worked out). Citing having 846,904,462.5 people to pick from, how could you possibly ever on this earth "cry" over one person not accepting your love? Because you're limiting yourself, that's why.

The way to get to a successful point in life is to find a way to let yourself "grow" on people and to allow them chances to "grow" on you. No, we are not trees but we can grow on each other through starting out in friendships. Friendships allow us the opportunity to see each other in a state outside of commitment or expectations placed on each other. They allow us to meet without secretly evaluating each other, and it also allows us to not get too deep into each others lives until you both decide to, and only "if" you both decide to. The idea of friendship instead of dating is the best option in my opinion. Being put in "The Friend Zone" is the mistake of making a move for a relationship too early, rather than just allowing someone to "grow" on you, and allowing yourself to "grow" on them.

First in the equation is allowing yourself to "grow" on someone. You should be dynamic, opinionated, knowledgeable, a great listener, you should also ask questions, and observe the mood of others as part of this exercise. You should develop these skills for your own self improvement, gaining knowledge of current events that interest you; learning the "ins and outs" of news, music, politics, entertainment, or even knitting, anything you'd be interested in knowing well. Work on as many areas of knowledge you can, so that you can talk about a wide variety of subjects in an educated manner, this will allow you grace in conversational circles. Be opinionated without being a jerk about it. don't be afraid to disagree with others on subjects, but avoid putting them off with your opinions and how you make your statements. Take time to find out what people you're attracted to tend to like that you may have in common. Work on your vocabulary and find subjects within what they like that you can identify with, pay attention to news and subjects you'll likely speak about when talking to individuals or groups about people. Once you master these skills, appearance is left.

Work on your appearance. Clean clothes, personal grooming, health, etc, are important things to work on to make yourself an eligible candidate for a solid friend. Do it for yourself, to a level you're comfortable with, and understand that it will determine the quality of people you'll regularly encounter as potential friends. This is not a dating guide, and I'm sure you already know what makes you look good by now so I'll spare you other advice about brushing your teeth and trimming your nose hairs...

Making your home comfortable (as a hangout spot) helps greatly in attracting quality friends, so does having money, but remember, friends should never be sponges that just absorb everything you give them without giving back, they should help you too. Reciprocating a good amount of things you do for them should be a standard measure of character. Support is a 2 way street, if its not, you're just being used. Never keep a friend who is completely emotionally or financially draining on you or else THERE WILL BE RESENTMENT. Long-term,grating, and haunting, resentment is one of the worst things to carry in any type of a relationship. let old things go. Don't sweat the petty things, and don't pet the sweaty things. In order for yourself to be free, you've got to "free" others.

My relationship rule is "Hang on tightly, and let go lightly". This details that when someone is with you, show them you care, but if they want to go, let them go easily. This gives them the opportunity to remember how safe they feel when they're with you, and likely how it feels when you're not around. I feel a lot of people that hold on tight to their emotional interests all of the time, give their loved ones a craving for freedom that drives them away in many cases. By letting go, you may lose a few, but you've also got to believe that you're better off, because it wasn't meant to be, and there's still 846,904,461.5 other people, you have yet to meet.

Once you have a good grasp on your identity, personality, and appearance, you're now ready to make friends with people instead of dating them. Notice what I said there? You may ask, When does dating come? In my book, it doesn't. I like to think of friendship as the key basis of a relationship where you continue it despite the relationship cues that occur. This way you avoid the pressures of commitment and betrayal that arise in the course of "dating". For me, marriage is when commitment happens, and fidelity is the key feature of creating that commitment. By being a person who is well aware of my own personality, and cultivating and maintaining an interesting personality, I have no worries about keeping a person interested in me, it happens naturally. I also look for these "magnetic" social qualities in others and make friends with them. I am more committed to finding like minded people who have similar interests and everything else takes its course naturally, without social "pressure" that confines people into the dating scene, and with lots of "promise" to meet different people without expectations of relationships up-front. So the next time you think about being forever alone, just remember the number 846,904,462.5 and think of ALL of the possibilities, instead of just one.

CircuitBored

How much is "enough" when it comes to personal wealth?: A look at accountability for the "wealthy" class.

5 years 10 months ago

You've heard it all over the news, the "wealth gap" in the US is growing. The margin of comfort between the lower and middle classes to the wealthy is growing at a really fast rate. The poorer class makes up the lion share of tax payers, yet the wealthy, a small percentage of our country are fighting dearly to hold on to the money they have. Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts Senate candidate, speaking to a mixed audience during her recent "Talking Tour" raised a point that resonates deeply within the issue of personal wealth in the United States:

http://youtu.be/htX2usfqMEs

This video has become a cult sensation as one point of many in countering the views that people who are rich (but not currently investing in the US economy in caution or protest) seem to hold. This video makes a pretty bold statement about the concept that wealth and success are not truly earned on our own merits in the US.

Don't get me wrong here, we made it through the McCarthy Era and scary Communist inquiries by Congress, to see the wondrous glory that a Capitalistic society can bring; the middle class had thrived and fared well until recently, when we encountered the "Greatest Depression Since The Great Depression". A lot of individuals in poverty in the past could hold achievable dreams of making it to middle and higher class status in their life times as it provided comforts idolized by tons of movies from the 80s and 90s. Now, the "middle class dream" has slipped to a point well below desire by the standards of many and a growing majority seek to skip middle class status and hop straight to the "Bentley Zone". On the other hand, being middle class now often doesn't afford us proper health care, and life in a safe neighborhood, and it seems the middle class life is getting closer to being poor. The climb to success these days for the small few that make it too often entails and encourages ruthless business practices and hoarding of personal wealth. This also means forgetting about individual morality and social responsibility.

Today, we have lots of tech gurus, investors, developers and the like that came from middle class backgrounds into serious money. Bill Gates Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg are perfect examples of this "new money" era. Many new millionaires and billionaires with money, (not held or passed down) by/from their prior generations, operate quite differently than prior generations with their wealth in today's world. Does this mean there's a place in time where we lost perspective on what being truly and ethically wealthy means? Are the current economic conditions sustained by completely new factors in the US today?

Elizabeth Warren's video (above) details, in a few ways, how people who become wealthy have benefited from tax payers, from opportunities that our socio-economic system created in order for them to succeed. I also like to think that success details and requires a good dose of opportunity and even "random luck" provided by others and circumstances in life. Luck and opportunity of this kind should be available to everyone at points in their lives, but they're both becoming shrinking commodities, in the United States of America, according to recent economic reports.

Based on my assumption, would it be unreasonable to think that a lot of the extremely rich people in today's world have forgotten about the weight of opportunity, luck, and understanding about the contribution others have made in creating their success? Possibly so; We live in a society that helps us to forget our personal accountability, morality, and debts... Credit cards often don't get paid off, money we borrow doesn't get repaid, houses are foreclosed upon every day, so why should anyone repay implied societal debts?!? Because they ensure long-term survival and growth, not just for you, but for the system that supports you, that's why...

We are supported by roads whether we drive or not, they are used to ship food, furniture, and even cars and houses into communities that we live in, if we don't pay for roads, the cost of goods skyrocket because someone else has to pay for infrastructure that you use, as Warren stated. We are supported by tax payers even if we send our kids to private schools, because many private schools rely on taxpayer built and maintained roads, subsidized electricity, safety codes developed by State and Federal Governments and many more services all paid for by people who may not even know the school existed. I know that I paid a lot of taxes relative to my personal income last year, and every time I hear an F-16 fly over my house, i'm reminded that I've helped to pay for some of the fuel its burning.

Citing all of this, when a single human being has personal wealth over 1 billion dollars, should they pay the same rate (relatively) tax-wise as me, more, or a flat (percentage) tax? One thing's for sure, a billion dollars is a lot of money:


Source: http://www.pagetutor.com/trillion/index.html

The current median household income in the US is $49,445. Source: http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=2&ved=0CC8QFjAB&url=http%3A...

Based on this fact, I think its safe to say that the average US family will never see a billion dollars over the course of their lives unless they manage to generate 10 million dollars a year AND live to be 100 years old. Source: http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=one+billion+dollars+divided+by+100+... . so why is it that anyone on this earth needs to hold onto more than one billion dollars in personal wealth?

Forbes top earner, Bill Gates is estimated to be in the range of $46.6... BILLION... dollars. (Net Worth) Source: http://www.forbes.com/2004/02/24/cz_bill04_top20.html?thisSpeed=20000 . And Steve Jobs, over 7 BILLION dollars in personal wealth Source: http://www.forbes.com/profile/steve-jobs/ . There are many individuals listed as top earners on Forbes survey, but yet still, the top earners in the US is comprised of somewhere near to 1% of the entire US population. In a society of 309 million people, this becomes an unbelievable economic divide. With the money the most wealthy individuals hold, they outpace all other American earners at a staggering rate, and we're not even talking about the wealth held by corporations. If the wealthy decide to stop spending their money, the could easily cripple an economy, and organize to shape and influence a government.

Yes, I know, Bill Gates has signed a pledge along with many other top earners in the US to give away the majority of their wealth; and he also has contributed to many charities, including the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation that works diligently to eradicate disease and illness. Based on Gates's philanthropy alone not many can rightfully say anything bad about his net worth, but the sad and undeniable truth about a few people becoming extremely rich in a society with limited resources is that it likely kills opportunities for others by reducing resources for growth. I am not talking about millionaires here, we're talking about a case much larger than a million, or even one hundred million dollars. This makes a person with one million dollars in their account look like a soup kitchen candidate...

If the prior statement offends you, just look at the current state of our economy, jobs are the number one issue. John Boehner, Speaker of the US House of Representatives, during contentious media talks with the US White House, stated that the current job crisis in the us is attributed to a protest of wealthy Americans that do not want their individual and corporate (currently reduced since the Bush Administration) tax rates changed. This protest seems to defy logic to anyone reasonable, because, if they're willing to let the US economy fail to prevent further taxes for individuals, the very financial system that sustains their personal and business wealth will collapse, directly leading to a loss of their secured wealth. We experienced this same jobs shortage prior to tax payer bailouts with Lehman Brothers and AIG. Despite those tax rate cuts not having been changed for those making $250,000 and above annually, jobs have NOT increased over time since our first encounter of recession-like conditions. Furthermore, if the wealthy in America seek to invest in other countries, the very foundation of our economy, the US Dollar will continue in a steep decline, which is part of the equation that is heavily driving the division gap in income classes in the US and downward turns in our markets. Another compelling video on the current state of the economy can be found in this report by Al Jazeera TV, where they detail the income divide and how it can be a driving force behind socio-economic rebellion and eventual economic collapse of a society:

http://youtu.be/XdVODFombco

If current economic conditions persist in the US, they are almost guaranteed to lead to a rise in crime, starvation, desolation, gentrification, and many other grave issues like these as we progress through time. US history, as well as in many other empires of the past and current have faced uprising by poorer classes and economic revolt when economic conditions see a vast divide between the rich and poor classes. As stated earlier, this gap is growing in the US. A revolution most always includes a forceful redistribution of wealth and private assets, so preventing uneasiness in our economy should not only be a concern of a few individuals, it should be a concern for us all.

How much is enough for an individual to earn and hold in life?; $10 million, $100million, $1 billion?

What constitutes, drives, and entitles an individual to obtain and hold excessive amounts of personal wealth? Can capitalism survive and/or be sustained at this pace? As an individual, should anyone ever feel entitled to hold onto billions of dollars in amounts of personal wealth? Do they deny opportunity for others by keeping money out of the economy, or only in certain segments? Would bailouts work better if money was given to tax payers to spend?

Is there a moral compass to guide the wealthy on how much reinvestment is enough to repay their debts to society? Is there a balance that can be reached for capitalism to ensure fair amount opportunity for more people, if not everyone? I have personal opinions on all of these matters of course; but perhaps THIS is what the news media, the White House, Corporations, and people in these positions should be talking about now publicly in this point in time instead of "tax payer bailouts" and "tax cuts for the wealthy"? Feel free to comment below...

I understand; the answers to these questions aren't exactly cut and dry. But I'm pretty sure we know that beyond ensuring survival for ourselves and our families, there's a universal good in sharing with others. Knowing physical limits when it comes to your personal wealth may be a key measure of good morals and coexistence within a well-balanced and sustained society. Lets hope the wealthy realize this before we encounter another Government Shutdown Threat, Stock Market Crash or Worse.

CircuitBored

There Is No Future In Stamps; The USPS Needs To Go Digital In Order To Survive.

5 years 11 months ago

We've encountered a spike in our hits, part of me thinks its mostly teenagers snatching text for term papers. But based on analytics, I think a lot of our readers from Reddit and Hacker News deserve thanks for your continued readership. Thanks!

In this post I have a slightly controversial recommendation, that the United States Postal Service: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Postal_Service should go digital. When I posted this idea on hacker News, I got a bit of push back. The idea that letters would go fully digital met online resistance because those services are currently provided for free by corporations like Google (Gmail), Yahoo, and Microsoft (Hotmail). First, ask yourself, can corporations continue to provide these services infinitely for free? Secondly, ask yourself if you can trust them with your communications?

As humans, we send a lot of private information via email, when we signed up to these email services, mostly in the 90s, we used them as throw-away accounts, a simple means of communication with friends, something we could easily stand to lose. As e-commerce and social network accounts grow everyday to encompass our lives, these sites rely on email as a reliable backbone for identity verification and commerce management. Pay-Pal, one of the largest online payment routing outlets relies on email addresses to send and receive money for individuals, relies heavily on personal email accounts.

If you're Internet savvy, there's a good chance your utility bills, phone bill, mortgage info, and even bank statements have gone paperless, leaving you to rely heavily on the security and privacy of your email account. Citing this, why are we so heavily vested in free email accounts that are hosted by companies that do not have fixed rules on maintaining our privacy, security, or continuity of service?

Now, I hope no offense is taken by these large companies at what I've typed thus far, I am pretty sure that all of these companies would be much more profitable if they didn't have to maintain the massive servers they dedicate to hosting your free email accounts. I also hope they'd continue to provide services of this kind if indeed my proposal works out one of these days.

Spam is also an unfortunate side effect of an unaccountable (corporate owned) public email system, with no rules on identity to govern our current email system, official email accounts can be spoofed and routed through servers that are hosting valid accounts, the same ones we all use to send our high value emails, my suggestion accounts for that and will be detailed below.

Now, enough preamble, I believe the United States Postal Service should create an official e-mail system. Here are a few key points I’d like to make in order to prove that I’m not being crazy by stating this:

Fast Point-To-Point Communication – The USPS would establish centers for transmission of documents, they could modify existing postal service locations to do this by adding high-speed and encrypted network connections to receive data from each other. Immediate transfer of official documents, checks, and even multimedia could be possible from Postal Service Locations with ease, and for a fair price. Data transmission on the high-speed network cited above would allow point-to-point transfer of official documents by having each Postal Service Location serving as both a transfer and receipt location.

Official Email based On Your Home Address – The proposed change recommends a system of email addresses which would be assigned both to a user by their real name, and home or business address. For example, Joe Johnson lives at 1342 Sebring Street in Boston, an example email address for him would be jjohnson1342SSBMA@usps.gov, while his work address might be at Microsoft 1455 Redmond Ln. in Seattle jjohnsonMICROSOFT1455SWA@usps.gov. NOTE: The convention I used here is strictly an example, scientists who are far smarter than me could invent a much better and easier to use naming convention; perhaps they would pick the people who design license plates, (e-mail naming conventions are not the important issue here).

Official Communication And Security Backed by Federal Law – By having the Postal Service (A Federal Agency) manage this proposed digital system, the protection offered by law for fraud and mis-use would apply, allowing the citation of official federal offense for mis-use. This would deter most spammers from using federally assigned email addresses, or using offices to transfer fraudulent checks and hacking accounts. The same rules for wire fraud and mis-appropriation of the Federal Postal Service (currently used) would be applied to this proposed solution.

HUGE Cost Savings On Postal Delivery – There’s a reason for the use of the word “mail” in e-mail, after all its just another format for delivering text. So why can’t the USPS realize this? Yes you still have to send goods like toys ordered off of ToysRUs.Com or EBay, but I’ll counter that later. The current postal system has around 583,908 (2010 estimate) employees. They are poised to lay off many of those employees in one of the worst economies ever. This is all symptomatic of a lack of cost control in the system. Why are we delivering tons of paper physically for this service, Airplanes full of paper, trucks driven all thought the city burn diesel fuel every day to deliver text on paper almost every day of the week when email is nearly instant and it requires no additional physical delivery. Startup investment is a little high in this proposed system yes, but once it’s running, the costs would plummet far below what the current system entails (over-head wise).

A Clearer Path For Non Print/Physical Goods – The agency under this proposed improvement would have a much clearer path for physical goods, no longer requiring as many physical facilities for sorting and storing the huge volume of paper letters. Companies like UPS and FedEx have dominated in personal delivery due to overnight delivery being a key feature. The USPS could recover vital ground by having a more secure and Federally Backed delivery system for print materials, and would seal the deal on reliability by having a dedicated data channel for instantaneous data transmission and printing. “Overnight Delivery” (for documents) would become the new “snail mail”.

Creating Jobs – As cited before, the economy is bad. This is just the right kind of overhaul that leaves a great legacy for a President or Administration. The USPS (under this proposal) would shift from hiring and training individuals to sort mail and drive trucks, into being systems administrators, network techs, and technical trouble-shooters, all valid skills they could use elsewhere, while working towards building a more skilled work force. The agency would also greatly benefit by cost savings of no longer requiring as many trucks, and planes, (as a result) polluting less AND having less physical liability (truck/delivery accidents and lost mail). Employees would most likely require a government clearance in this scenario to warranty security to a degree, (but, by nature, they would be federal employees anyway so it’s not really a controversial proposal).

When a mail document is sent from one person to another or company, horse, etc.(citing this new proposal) it would be physically “scanned” for its original document format at a physical location off of an official hard copy. After that step, the document would be converted to a digitally (encrypted) document, transferred to its point of receipt (another USPS –official- location nearest to the intended recipient), and then decrypted and printed by official Postal Service personnel onto Official USPS paper. Checks could also be transferred in this manner, and printed to Official USPS stock as well. The originating document(s) for documents and checks could be verified by Post Office personnel (before transmission and after receipt) to verify validity of the transmission. Paper used to print transmissions of documents and checks could be official stock with authenticity controls similar to paper used for printing money. Liability to the agency would be limited by acceptance of the customer, by having them certify the authenticity of the document they intend to send or receive. This would also save lots of paper by not requiring stamps and envelopes. I'm not out to kill stamps, but their death is an unintended side effect of technological advancement.

The benefits of this proposal would not only be payable to the USPS, Benefits would be payable to US, as a people. US citizens would gain a much faster method of mail delivery, more security, and better value on their hard-earned tax contributions. We could also begin to use our email accounts for any kind of legal/secure communication, payments, and identity concerns, even to send documents to official agencies without visiting them like (Yikes!) the DMV. This account would allow you to know that you have a warrant out for your arrest BEFORE the cops pull you over, or could be used to let you know about speeding tickets before they double. Because the government would be running your official email address, you could choose to simply ignore it, or to use it only for secure communication while also using your Hotmail, Yahoo, or Gmail account (etc.) for any other (less secure) communication you may have (like verifying your FaceBook Account, or registering on World Of War Craft). If the US got to work on this solution, the same would likely influence developed foreign countries, who would likely follow along in making digital communications a standard for official domestic communication. This also depends highly on whether you trust your government, but lets be honest, if you think they can’t read your Gmail account already, you’re probably not even using email yet.

This proposal for process improvement would allow a new format for secure and accountable communication. This channel would be accountable because users would be tied to a verifiable physical address that could be easily changed based on their residence. It would serve to link agency information (such as DMV records with veteran status, or either with tax information). This proposal would also open the gateway to security advancing in technology, by creating an accountable management system for private identity services (not reliant on private corporations and their open-ended policies) that would be a stable e-commerce system with less fraud capabilities than the current model. And this system also ensures a clear path to legally requiring effective binding agreements and authenticity of communication because its backed by the Federal Government (and laws and statutes therein). As an individual, your concern over implementation of this proposal, your concerns should be minimal, as is is only an improvement on a system that has existed since the late 1700s, where your communications have been tracked and accounted for since well before you were born. You would use this account only for sending and receiving items that are legal, and in accordance with the law, if you don't it would be your responsibility, but tat the same time, regulations and rules would need to be established to prevent mis-appropriation, undue tracking or "wire taps", and fraud within the agency itself. In order for this to work, the right to have other email and mail delivery options (open-source and private services and tools) should be upheld.

I know what you’re saying at this point, “DuH!”, “This should have been done long ago!”. And Yes, you’re right; the best revolutions for change that occur, as shown by history, are based on long periods of suffering. Postal Service Workers have been suffering (job stability-wise), The US Government has been suffering (budget-wise), When trying to find stamps for sale or delivering an urgent letter at the last minute - we’ve all been suffering, Grandmas that deliver annual birthday cards with money in them to kids have been er… suffering. The time to move into the new age is long overdue, lets make something good happen.

CircuitBored

Walking in other people's shoes...

5 years 11 months ago

In the effort of creating positive social change there are many road bumps, most of them politicians, sometimes the public, and often ourselves.

Lots of people think of a Utopian world constantly, how things can get better, or how bad things currently are without creating action that inspires positive change. Why is this? Because doing stuff is hard. I don't blame you, we have jobs, we have families, plenty of responsibility, and shrinking schedules that don't even allow us to do things we once used to like flying kites, drive-in movies, bowling, riding a bicycle, and roller skating.

Today's society is impatient and fast-moving, we have computers to thank for that, but at the same time, video games, television, and air conditioning keep us rooted indoors. Even when we're supposed to get out and run, we stay indoors in gyms, on treadmills and bicycles that don't move.

Even when people aren't employed, they're still employed (without pay) building resumes, interviewing for jobs, trying to make limited finances work out, and that's assuming they don't have a family.

If you don't have money in the bank to tide you through these spells, and benefits at work like vacation and health care, you're out of luck in many of these cases. All of these things get taken from you during a spell of unemployment. The US economy is in shambles at this point, markets, job reports, and our Federal debt all point to ominous signs of not getting better any time soon, the second dip just after the hump in the letter W.

I recall the Reagan Era recession, the most notable thing besides the financial struggle my family faced, were that roads became full of potholes, that many people my family knew came asking for money, and that gas prices climbed extraordinarily. I was just around 10 years old, but I recall these key items that I saw as a kid, and I can point to all of them in my city now that I'm in my 30s.

There are other visible signs such as stores running out of supplies, robberies on the rise, looting, poor customer service, large warehouse retailers closing stores, and so much more that indicate where the state of the recession is. Investors have a method for watching sales of cardboard boxes to determine if companies are doing good or not, and in evaluating the market overall, more boxes sold means more movement and sales for companies, leading to good investment potential.

One thing's for sure, things always (eventually) improve. The people who jump off of buildings will never ever know. So how do we get to that better point? My primary impression is by walking in each other's shoes before making bets on the future.

As humans we have an extraordinary sense of thinking from our own perspective. We know what's right, we know what's wrong, and we know what others should do. We only doubt ourselves when someone we admire or trust gives us advice, if we're not too strong minded. In life, we often develop a thick skin in many cases because the people who don't know us are guaranteed to judge us, and if we don't create a little of the ability to "let their opinions bounce off of you", we face motivational and emotional devastation.

Any debate, as illustrated by the movie "Thank You For Smoking" can be won, lost, or fought based on the presentation of calculated facts to support your position. The facts you present can be carefully tailored to suit the needs of your argument and by withholding or avoiding discussion of negative characteristics that oppose your position. This practice is all to prevalent in politics today, just like editing a movie, video you see online of others can be edited to show completely different takes on things they recorded truthfully. Finding truth has become a much more analytical process than a fact-finding process in this world.

A truly dangerous political game can be played when one skews or carefully selects facts to support agendas in lobbying, in selling goods and services, and especially for elected or appointed individuals that determine policy for thousands and millions of people they are responsible to. In order to be the best we can be, a focus needs to rely on more than just facts and figures to guide our decision making process, we need to walk in the shoes of the people that our decisions impact.

In order to be good at running a company, making public policy, or even in general life existence, one should master the art of seeing things from the perspective of others. Its not an easy process, you have to throw away your own personal preferences and abandon what you believe in to view others clearly, but once you do, you can do a better job at representing the people you serve and work for. Understanding why a father will steal bread from a store if he has no money and children to feed (right or wrong) helps you to understand why social programs like welfare exist. Wrong as they may be, and abused as they are, these programs save lives, and there are tons of good people on them for any bad people that may be. Sure these social programs need reform, but ending them entirely will create a chaotic world.

Why were so many politicians against tax increases for the wealthy during the last budget vote congress held? Why were they so intent on cutting social programs instead? Because they don't see things from perspective different than their own.

Concerns of minority groups often take the primary seat at intellectual discussions every day. There are organizations dedicated to fighting for minority rights, whether they're based on race, industries, or wealth. In many cases they're justified, but in others they're powerful lobbies that influence politics heavily away form equal opportunity.

We rely on a system of majority rule, but that does not mean majority should win with every vote or decision made in today's society. Moderation should prevail in decisions by our leaders. Decisions are not simple on/off switches, and we are not robots, we are humans, able to delicately balance our decisions for maximum benefit to all parties, rather than just winning for our own team. We have to moderate better, and consider the weight of our decisions on more than just numbers and majorities and we are equipped to do so. The concept of Trickle Down Economics is a key example of a failed policy that caters to a few, preventing greater good, it essentially proposes that money trickles down from the wealthy to lower income individuals through a natural cycle. Today this model fails every day because the cash doesn't flow if the richer classes are not happy with public policy, if they feel scared of investments, or even if they simply don't wish to spend. This leaves the lower income classes devastated without income and opportunities, sounds familiar doesn't it?

Find the source of these types of ideas and I guarantee that you'll also find thick skinned people who have no idea of the lives others that they govern face on a daily basis.

With the lower income families of america struggling more than ever, and middle classes loosing their foothold daily, its increasingly important to remind key decision makers about how much their decisions impact our lives, and it should be expected of them to understand when we tell them our stories. These leaders shouldn't rely on just data to guide their decision making. They should be real people, more blue-collar, less wealthy, more educated, and of course less corrupt. If a person is going to be making decisions that impact the lives of others, they should be expected to be accountable problem solvers, seeking to unite others, making positive statements about positive change with specific road maps to success. If chosen leaders are not constantly in touch with all of us (as the people they are responsible to) and if they are too invested in partisan culture or movements that represent only a small section of the population, they're not walking in all of our shoes.

CircuitBored

I have exceeded my 5GB data cap on T-Mobile, my phone is now an expensive paper weight.

6 years ago

People don't call each other anymore. Well, my parents call their friend circle on cell phones all the time but people in my generation (30 somethings) don't have endless talk sessions on phones like we once used to. What are so called "youngsters" doing?! They're using the Internet. FaceBook, G+, Soundcloud, Spotify, Web Sites, Texting, Twitter, Email, You name it... So why, in this great age of Internet progress and innovation, are we placing limits on bandwidth? Why does your phone mysteriously slow down or why does your bill balloon every month when you're just tyring to use the new features on your iPhone? A shocking expose awaits you below!:

I ventured out into the wild last week, once my BlackBerry suddenly died, and went to pursue a new wireless device. The hunt made me prey, and I came out with scratches of a higher bill, a more expensive phone, and a new thing called a "data cap" on Internet service for my phone.

Now, not many people are aware of data caps, especially because of cell phone plans being sold and advertised as "unlimited". Its a funny thing, but pretty much every new cell phone service contract (Except for those on Sprint Mobile) here in the US includes a ceiling for how much Internet service you can use on you phone. Some service providers even go as far as to sell you a plan, and not let you know that you will hit an ugly patch of inactivity, or a high bill if you pass that Internet data ceiling.

I am all for capitalism, because it drives innovation, and I'm all for newer devices with convenient and great new features like Wi-Fi and app downloads. I like apps, I develop apps, and I love me some good Internet. I firmly believe that the future of Internet Service Providers will be cell phone service providers, but we've really started out on a bad foot here with this type of data cap rate limiting. Let me first give you a bit of the back story:

I originally had a BlackBerry Bold. Due to hearing about the slump that company is currently in, some terrible people had convinced me to get an Android phone. I held out for over 6 months, until my BlackBerry started exhibiting signs of cardiac arrest during tethering and a tiny screen that made it quite hard to read most content of relevance to me online. I naturally started browsing new phones, and began to like one of the new devices out, The Sensation from HTC, its design was simple, and the screen much bigger than an iPhone 4's, I have no complaints about the device other than its outrageously poor battery life.

OK, so while shopping many different claims and representations were made to me in T-Mobile stores, often conflicting, I was quite surprised to see that there was a huge difference in price quotes between each store I went to. Ultimately, I saved 150$ off of the price I was originally quoted for the phone. The phone price is only 50% of the bargain though, just as, if not more important is the plan that I get for the phone. At the time, I had T-Mobile's "unlimited" plan for BlackBerry Data, my total monthly bill was around 84$ (don't ask me how the taxes and fees got the price up to there, even they can't explain that to me).

I of course had to start a new 2 year commitment for this phone (HTC sensation), along with 10 dollars more for the new "Android data plan" because it uses different Internets than a BlackBerry I guess, and a few extra fees because the unlimited plan had been updated. Reps at T-Mobile were all too eager to tell me my 2 year old BlackBerry unlimited plan was "Grandfathered" making it the youngest grandfather to ever exist I guess.

What I gave up by switching plans, was my ability to have a phone without data caps. That is the essence of having a grandfathered plan, despite years of being a loyal T-Mobile customer, my bill went up by over 30$ and they offered 5$ off, but having a data cap was such a significant sacrifice now because just 1 week after leaving the store with a new phone, my rate limit had been exceeded. Every Internet-Based service on my phone became extremely slow, if not non-functional once my data cap was passed, and the applications I develop on Internet Based services are now inaccessible. I also have to wait until next month before being able to view any post on Reddit past those with plain text because the wait is excruciatingly long and dysfunctional. I cannot also use the brilliant wi-fi hotspot feature that my all-new phone has because that makes my usage disappear immediately once I watch a few YouTube clips. My phone is now a paperweight unless I plan on calling or texting someone, which we don't really do anymore.

Let me tell you about what happens when you exceed this "rate limit"! You basically drop on your stunning new 4G! phone to 2G! speed on T-Mobile. This makes your phone a paperweight, it seems functionally slower than a 56k modem, it reminds you about the dark ages, and the worst part is you're still paying a premium rate monthly to your wireless provider because T-Mobile charges 30$ for the next-level upgrade to 10GB, and there are no other options currently past that. I am paying about 98$ per month for less than a half a month of Internet Service, and there are no options to have full freedom on T-Mobile or AT&T. Some service providers charge you after the overage, Sprint is currently the only carrier to have an option for truly unlimited data plans at the moment, but they didn't have the phone I wanted.

Comcast has also implemented data caps on their local/home/business service in the North Eastern US, their limits work much in this same way. Your voice over IP calls will suddenly not work so great. You'll have to skip that night when you invite friends over to watch a new NetFlix movie because your data cap is exceeded (because your kids watched a really long Disney movie while you were at work). This has really significant implications that we won't realize until after its commonplace, and when we have no choice of reverting to a time of truly unlimited Internet.

As the Internet grows, so do bandwidth needs. How can we place limits on bandwidth in a society we want to grow? Why has Verizon tore up the street outside of my house to install Fiber Optic Cables if they're only going to allow me to download a few web sites and a short film each month? Where are consumer rights, competition, and fundamental fairness in this discussion? This year the US Supreme Court, in review of a case with Wal-Mart, set a precedent that makes it harder for consumers to file class-action lawsuits, you see the direction in which we're going here? Consumer satisfaction is the first thing to go in bad economies, actually its a leading key performance indicator of how well an economy is doing; based on the wireless industry, this is not a good sign for out economic outlook.

I don't know about you, but this is a pretty frickin' scary trend to me! I see a world in a few months where you pay a premium for Internet service yet you will have a harsh cut-off in service at a certain point each month (during your peak points in productivity) that will cripple you. Data Caps are hardly a desirable feature for customers of mobile service providers, but they continue to be enforced by service providers as proof that the benefit of competition in the industry is failing due to posturing and positioning of companies. This will only get worse as AT&T and Verizon buy out most of the smaller providers. There will suddenly only be 2 competitors that dictate the price and limits on service we (as consumers) will have to deal with.

The Internet was founded on the principle of being free, this changed in the late 90s with ISPs charging hourly, we caved. The Internet was born around the ideal of being open, but Google and FaceBook kind of killed that, we caved once again. The Internet was built on the principle of being without boundaries, throttling, and limits, lets not cave to mobile and Internet Service Providers putting data caps on our Internet usage. If we do, the only points of view you get will be provided by large corporations, encouraging you to pay a premium for limited access.

CircuitBored

Notes on progress...

6 years ago

Its been a long time since my last post, I realize this. I've been busy leading my web team into glory in a world where the value on Internet sites and services is both declining and increasing. How can the value of Internet sites decline and increase at the same time you ask? The answer is a complex one, but in a nutshell, it describes the volatility of the current state of Internet based sites and applications. Some companies are doing well, with new and interesting products yet still worried that their competition will invent a new feature that they will have to scramble to counter. Other companies are failing on ideas that already exist, without the ability to change their focus, or finding that they have to change their original vision, which can easily prove to be just as harrowing and risky as a facelift (in real life).

As a company in the Internet Industry, one of the largest costs encountered these days is your payroll. Paying a Java Developer 120k+ annually, or paying a web designer 75k+ annually is a huge cost, especially when you're working on a concept that will be funded by ad sales or investors expecting returns somehow. Creating a start up is just about as risky as playing power ball (unless you're a talented developer, business mind, and designer that can develop a concept all on your own).

In any given month, I have lots of kind people weekly asking me if I'd like to work pro-bono for them on their great ideas, in hopes of magical future stock options. Its best for me to (carefully) deny their offers, and I usually do, because there's all too often a deep lack of technical organization and skills which will mean that I'll be required for 80%+ of the workload in the process of making their ideas successful. These bold entrepreneurs often take offense at my resistance to working for free, but we're in the worst economy since the great depression and it takes a lot to ensure survival, food and shelter. A dreamer is always a bad investment in any economy if you ask me. I'd rather partner to be a technical "doer" if I ever choose such an undertaking.

A "doer" in this case is someone who knows their industry; Someone who lives and breathes IT and design, development, business, and working hard. A person who will take the time to learn what's important before assuming their ideas are solid. These are people who have the common sense, wits, and knowledge to stay afloat in bad economies by keeping their marketable skills in line with their desired industry; Clear communicators that don't speak in long, vague or abstract terms, people who understand the value of a solid presentation with heavy attention to detail. These are the types of people that are smart enough to promise realistic deadlines, and then meet them by doing the work themselves if necessary, while being mindful of budgets; These are the people that build spaceships, and good cars.

Now that we have the context of risk and "doers" straight, we can work to define what leads creative and smart minds to success.

If history has proven anything to us about success, its proven that success is completely illusive to any and everyone, and though you may have success today, you might not tomorrow. This is an important mantra. Your competitors and assets mean nothing once you grasp that. Your overall success, in my opinion is based on your survival, stability, and sustainability:

Survival - The overall time your idea survives. Timeless ideas survive, think Coca Cola. This company has been around for most of our lives without tons of reinvention. Sure, its due to the nature of the beverage industry, but it can be adapted to other industries as a concept for a timeless product, that was a good idea to begin with, because there was nothing else like it when it was conceived.

Stability - This has everything to do with your company's assets, to expenditures, and human capital. If you have the right amount cash flow and employees to tide you through emergencies or breakdowns in your development cycles, that increases your survivability in an industry that is very reliant on responsiveness and scalability. Problems happen all the time, if you don't anticipate and counter them quickly, failure will be your fault as a decision maker. You also have to run the operation carefully, neither too lean or too costly to prevent it from financial implosion. A very delicate balance indeed.

Sustainability - This relates to your operation's future. You will need to enhance your product and/or services (assuming its on a firm basis cited in the survival category). Not by staying on top of trends, because trends can be fly-by-night or misguided, but by developing a 6th sense of where your industry is going. You must educate yourself on past and current industry and social trends (e.g. client-server, when the telephone was invented, cable TV's current decline) and learn how to apply the outcomes to trends in your field to ensure your venture will be responsive and at the forefront of successful change management.

I don't believe people when they tell me that the Internet is a much more significant invention than the telephone because we wouldn't have the Internet without modems, which relied on phones in the early days. The same goes for computers and electricity, where one relies on the other. In thinking about business and development, I try to find parallels that drive my decisions.

In the process of developing a web or mobile application, "need" and "function" run highest in my priorities during the conceptual phase.

Need - The desire to have a function fulfilled by an application (in this case). In other words, the deep public consumer demand or consumer desire for fulfillment of a service to drive sales of an original application which I invent.

Function - The "How" for fulfilling the need; How will an application work, look, and feel? How will it work? How will users perceive and use the application? What is the functional theme and motivation for the application (driving design)?

After I sort out these goals, Its a great time to work on finding capabilities and limitations that I'll encounter during my design process. Research and development (prior to beginning development) is a essential component of knowing what I can successfully commit to with clients. Every project I work on has a different set of tools and goals, its important to define these items before being deep into a project, and its important to communicate clearly with clients to help them to understand limitations. As a brief glance into inception of a project and the ins and outs of cost and risk in Internet business, you can probably draw the connections to functional roles in getting technical web projects done.

Even if you are dealing with non-technical managers, there are a lot of components that require higher level understanding of technical processes to ensure that work actually gets "done" for any web-based business. A reason why so many start ups remain on the ground is the lack of balance in developers, resources, and technically savvy management. I hope you seek a balance in all of these categories, because if you don't develop your marketable and technical skills and understanding, you'll be hiring a technical team that could possibly play mutiny on your company's vision. Be a technical "DOER"!

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