Favorite iphone ‘trick’

I have used wireless transmitters with my ipods and iphone in my car and they have never worked well. I keep going back to my old faithful which is a cassette tape with the wire attached that I plug into the headphone jack of the iphone. To my surprise a few months after I bought my headphone I discovered a neat little feature.

One time the phone rang and I answered it but didn’t take the cassette plug-in wire out. All of a sudden I heard the person’s voice over the speakers in my car. I lowered the phone from my ear and talked to her as if she were in the car with me. It was a pleasant surprise.

As a result of this discovery I decided not to buy a bluetooth for the phone. I had a ‘jimmy-rigged’ hands free blue-tooth already in place.

I haven’t checked to see if others know about this but it is my favorite ‘trick’ for my iphone.

What’s yours?


Redbox vs. Netflix: Does Redbox threaten Netflix?

Redbox vs. Netflix: Does Redbox threaten Netflix?

By Bakari Akil II, Ph.D.

Quick Answer – No!

Here’s why:

Chris Anderson in his book The Long Tail describes how a new economic model has emerged that allows independents, niche players and obscure artists participate in the mass media industry. Before, in brick and mortar stores and businesses that possessed a limited amount of ‘shelf space’ it was necessary to stock items that provided guaranteed sales.  Further, distribution models available from major mass media conglomerates limited the amount of exposure that artists could gain for their works.  Choosing the items that will do not only well, but extremely well is a science and risks or long shots are not given a chance in this world of retail.

However, the era of Web 2.0 has upended this economic model.  Cultural critics such as Andrew Keen and academics such as Henry Jenkins from the Comparative Media Studies Lab at MIT have discussed at length how new technological advances (read internet) have changed the way mass media operates. The proliferation of software, hardware and  ‘shareware’ programs that allow users to upload and create content without having the technical skill or economic resources has added new markets and choices for consumers. It has also worked well for artists with the technical experience and resources to create but do not have access to major media conglomerates’ distribution systems and publicity machines.

Redbox is based on the old model.

Netflix is based on the new economic model.

How So?

Redbox, although a novel idea and very convenient, is based upon the brick and mortar model of conducting business. They offer new releases  (up to 200) that are housed in a machine that can hold a limited amount of movies (700). You have to already be headed to one of the establishments (McDonalds, Walgreens, etc.) where they are located for it to be convenient.  Otherwise you have to walk, bike or drive to pick up a movie in the same way you would visit a video store. Although it is extremely cheap ($1 per night) in comparison to major DVD rental stores such as Blockbuster or minor ones like Video Warehouse it is still a similar experience.

In order to enjoy the Redbox experience, you have to be willing to watch new releases only and be willing to go to a McDonalds, Wal-Mart, grocery store, etc., to rent movies. It may be fast but it only guarantees the “hits” and with a limited amount of space, you may not be able to get the movies you want. Even with their online service that allows you to make a reservation, it is based upon availability in the Redbox you will be going to.

Netflix on the other hand is based upon the new economic model created by Web 2.0.  Users of the service have access to thousands of choices of DVDs.  Very little physical output is required to bring about results. All you have to do is peruse the website, place your order and wait for it to arrive at your mailbox.  There is no pressure to hurry up and choose because someone is standing behind you.

Netflix movie recommendation service also takes advantage of technological breakthroughs to help you with your movie choices. Netflix uses the “wisdom of crowds,” to borrow the title from James Surowiecki’s book, to make your movie experience better.  It takes the ratings you provide and processes those with users who provide similar ratings to figure out what you may also like.

If you use Netflix’s service often it can be as cheap as the Redbox experience and it allows you to get what you want without having to leave your home. Plus, it truly does not have a late fee as you can keep the DVDs as long as you need to and will never be charged unless you end your service and never return the DVDs. Redbox claims there are no late fees and states that if you do not return your rental by 9PM you will be charged the daily fee of $1 for renting it another night. That is a semantic argument.

The Clincher

But it’s the number of choices that keeps Redbox from being a threat to Netflix. Once again it is that “long tail” that Chris Anderson refers to that protects Netflix from brick and mortar innovations such as Redbox.

Netflix offers the ‘New Releases’ as well as the less new, independent, foreign, classic, documentary, instructional, sports related, quirky and in some cases bad films people want to see. They handle the market that Redbox doesn’t want or can’t address due to space concerns. Yes, Netflix has physical locations it operates from, but a lot of their inventory can be stored online and not necessarily on DVD disks. Plus you can watch thousands of movies and other shows online through Netflix’s service.

Netflix can profit from the traditional base that Redbox profits from and from the non-traditional base.  I believe Netflix is safe from offline threats; it is online innovation that they need to be concerned with.

Netflix is Awesome….

In a proactive move against Apple, Netflix is allowing certain members to view unlimited amounts of movies, tv shows, etc., from their website. (Members who have the $4.99 a month deal are limited to only two hours a month. ) The Los Angeles Times cites that only 6000 titles are available out of the total 90,000 they have available through the mail. Further, the Times stated that Netflix does not have the best selection. 

However, to a Netflix subscriber like me, it is a golden deal. I received a free upgrade for absolutely nothing. It is not about whether or not I will buy the Apple TV or the “set top box” that will be offered by LG for Netflix. It is about choices. As much freedom to choose media I enjoy is what I am interested in.

I use Netflix and the iTunes store along with my iPod. Each has its own benefits and I will continue to use both. It’s not an either or issue, it is a matter of what do I feel like using today and who has what available. Although the Los Angeles Times stated that the selection is not that great, they have to realize that tastes differ. Sometimes people are at odd locations and wouldn’t mind having 6000 choices to choose from. Additionally, not everyone wants to pay 3.99 for a movie download that will ‘self-destruct’ in 30 days.

I applaud Netflix’s efforts and I will continue my subscription with them because their business model seems to be built on a fair exchange. Even if their motive was to protect their market niche, I am on the receiving end having to spend nothing in the  process.

Solastalgia: We may all suffer from it…..

Are the climate conditions in your area destroying your once pristine ecological environment? Are you affected by the lack of rains, flash frosts, increasing hurricanes or just any environmental change that destroys how things have always been where you live? Well according to the research of Australian philosopher, Glenn Albrecht, we might be affected by it more than we think.

Clive Thompson, who covered this issue in Wired Magazine, discusses Albrecht’s research where he interviewed hundreds of Australians to find out how environmental conditions influenced their psyche. Albrecht discovered that as Australians begin to notice that crops did not grow, forests or gardens began to die out and animals left and did not return they became depressed.

Albrecht labels this condition as Solastagia, which is simply depression caused by longing for an environmental condition that existed in a not too distant past. He describes it to be similar (but not quite as dreadful) to the displacement of “indigenous” people from their ancestral lands.

Albrecht states that even though many of us have become huge technology buffs and even “pride” ourselves on our possessions that keep us indoors and busy, we still have ties to the land that we haven’t lost yet.

Cheapest Car in the World..

Twenty five hundred dollars is what it costs. According to Simon Robinson, of Time Magazine, it is a decent price for middle class families (lower middle) in India who earn around $200 a month. The car is called the Tata Nano and although small by North American standards, Robinson claims it is perfect for driving conditions in India, especially rural areas.

The developers of the car states that it meets emission standards of India and Europe; can reach speeds up to 60 miles per hour and gets 50 miles for each gallon of gas.

How will this affect India’s infrastructure, air pollution and other poorer developing nations with congested roadways? No one is sure. The most important question raised in this article is whether or not concerns of air pollution and traffic issues should keep poor individuals from owning a car?

Where do you Stand? “Mosaic’s USA Type Descriptions”

Are you “Affluent Surburbia or Upscale America, Small-town Contentment or Blue-collar Backbone, Aspiring Contemporary or Metro-Fringe, Urban Essence or Varying Lifestyle?”

Experian, which is a “information services company,” created “Mosaic” which uses demographic information from the U.S. census in order to categorize nearly 300,ooo,ooo million U.S. citizens into groups. This data can be used in a multitude of ways to help decision makers in business, government, non-governmental organizations, etc., make effective decisions.

For example here is a small description of Small-town Contentment –  “C03 Surburban Optimists: With it’s concentration of Asian, Hawaiian and White residents, Surburban Optimists presents a potrait of middle-class diversity….There’s an even distribution of residents who have graduated from high school or completed some college, resulting in a job market for blue-collar and white collar positions…They frequently watch cable TV networks such as MTV, VH1 and Spike TV….” 

You get the picture….

What type are you or is it too vague for you to be sure?


Amazon’s Kindle

Amazon is offering a great new “wireless reading device.” It offers New York Times bestsellers, web blogs, top newspapers and has the ability to carry word documents as well. It uses the same mode of delivery that “advanced cell phones” use so you don’t have to worry about searching for hot spots or purchasing ‘net cards.’

For people who love read or catch up on news or blogs on the internet, this is a way to do it without having to use the annoyingly small screens found on a cell phone, PDA, etc. It also eliminates the need to carry around a bunch of books or paper documents.

It will be interesting to see how this device will sell and how it will change our the our societal landscape. Will it become a new status symbol with it’s relative hefty price of $399 (no monthly fees) like the iPhone and iPod? Or, will it revolutionize the way our society processes information. Or both? Only time will tell…..

Fool me once: You Can subscribe to YouTube through your iTunes Account

In all of my years of using the internet, I have never fallen victim to an email hoax or scam.  Well thanks to YouTube and their “Featured Videos,” I can no longer make that claim. Last night, while scanning their “Featured Videos” section, a page I normally bypass, I noticed a video labled, “How to YouTube Podcast.” It immediately captured my attention. In the blurb section it stated:

“Learn how your YouTube subscriptions can work seamlessly with iTunes! Get automatic updates to sync to your iPod!”

I thought I had hit the ‘jackpot.’

Needless to say, I spent the next 30 minutes following the directions of a guy named Mark Erickson and then trying to troubleshoot to find out why it wasn’t working. Slowly it dawned on me to check the comments section to see what others were saying about this guy’s advice. Only then did I learn that it was an elaborate scheme to make the user look like a fool, in the comfort of their own home.  I was a victim of my own technological greed.

The guy who is behind it, Mark Erickson, has a YouTube moniker “InfiniteSolutions” (Don’t click on it though; at work and probably not at home) and he has produced a number of videos such as this one:

How To YouTube Podcast http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNQLDgkUXvk

Addressing News Articles’ Internet Shelf Life

When is the best time to remove a web article or comment from a website? That is the question three writers at the journalism website, Poynter.org, raise. As a former editor of an online news website, I have been faced with the same question. Should older articles be removed even if they receive numerous hits? If I no longer hold the same views should I try to hide the fact that they ever existed? Further, with the explosive growth of Web 2.0 and especially blogs, how is this issue being handled?

Since I used to write a lot of commentaries on current events and other hot button issues, I had many articles that had an extremely long shelf life. It wasn’t odd to have people respond to articles written years ago as if they were written yesterday. In addition, our organization was faced with former posters who wanted to have previous comments removed due to some ‘pressing issue.’ The writers at Poynter address these questions and asks for answers in their article:

Removing Content: When to Unring the Bell?


Do I Really Need Broadband?

John Horrigan, at the Pew Internet & American Life Project, recently laid forth a solid argument concerning the need for access to broadband services, especially at home. He argued that it not only provides the obvious convenience of information, it also connects you to a broader network that influences your daily life and a multitude of others. Access to broadband lessens mass media outlets’ role as the middleman and puts you in the driver’s seat to gather information that improves and broadens your life in many areas. He discusses data that states that those with broadband service are more likely to create and upload content onto the Internet. In other words, broadband users are enriching and influencing our world.

Here’s what he had to say:  Broadband: What’s All the Fuss About?  http://www.pewinternet.org/pdfs/BroadBand%20Fuss.pdf