Friday, March 7, 2014

New Game: Curating BITS



Years after the industrial revolution men like Henry Ford made billions of dollars by assembling and curating raw materials such as iron and rubber.  The result of his assembling and curating raw materials was automobiles which could be sold at a nice profit.

Today,  the newest game is the assembling and the curating of bits.  Bits are binary digits. According to Wikipedia "A bit is the basic unit of information in computing and digital communications. A bit can have only one of two values, and may therefore be physically implemented with a two-state device. The most common representation of these values are 0and1. The term bit is a portmanteau of binary digit."  Every piece of computer data is composed of bits.  The Netflix video that you watched last night is composed of bits.  Your Facebook images are composed of bits.  This article is a compilation of bits.

Google is the biggest player in the assembling and the curating of bits.  They have masterfully assembled and curated bits that you can't live without and charge a referral fee to advertisers for sending you to see their bits.  Henry Ford could only wish he could make money like this. According to Mashable.com, top bits that were searched on in 2013 in the United States include:
    Boston Marathon
    Government Shutdown
    VMAs
    Tornado in Moore, Okla.
    Royal Baby
    Zimmerman Trial
    Typhoon Haiyan
    New Pope
    Syria Conflict
    Mayweather versus Canelo

Unlike Netflix or Facebook, the majority of accessed bits from Google are text which is easy to store and retrieve.  Video and images require much more computing resources to manage.

When historians in the next century study us they will surely reflect on this time period with marvel.  What do you think?  Is assembling and curating bits the new game?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Obamacare Website Sabotage?

I recently hosted a tech event in Harlem New York and I had an interesting conversation with a woman after the event.  She said that all of the Obamacare website issues are because of GOP sabotage?  What?  I immediately brushed it off.

But, then I thought about it.

The GOP has been working day and night for the past 4 years to destroy Obamacare.  As of November of 2013, the GOP has unsuccessfully voted 46 times to repeal Obamacare.  Using votes and political influence to destroy Obamacare has failed.  But what about using technology to destroy Obamacare?

Little known Canadian-based IT contractor CGI won the contract to build the Obamacare website Healthcare.gov back in 2007.  The contract was for over $600 million to create HealthCare.gov.  CGI has had nearly 6 years to plan a site that primarily accepts text information (your name and email address) and then returns text information (your plan options).  This is Website Development 101.  There is no heavy image downloads, no video downloads, no streaming live content or other things that would require huge amounts of server space and bandwidth.  Healthcare.gov is a simple website that stores light text data in a database then retrieves light text data.  Healthcare.gov is about the simplest website that you can create.  The biggest challenge would be to ready for large numbers of users.

I am a web developer and I have a client who has a website that consistently gets 100,000 unique visitors every month.  She is hosting on a $10 per month grid hosting plan from Godaddy.  It been said that 20% of Americans are with out health insurance.  Thus there are about 80 million Americans would would need to visit Healthcare.gov.  If someone with a brain was the architect for Heathcaregov.com then they should have had a common landing page but then segment visitors based on State, (ie. California.Healthcare.gov or Michigan.Healthcare.gov).  Each of these sub-domain websites would have it's own distinct database and hosting environment.  Thus on average a given sub-domain would be responsible for enrolling 1.6 million users.  Over 6 months each sub-domain website would handle on average 266,000 unique monthly visitors. These bite sized chunks would be very manageable.

A web developer with a 1/2 brain could design a website and database for Healthcare.gov and do it for a traction of $600 billion.  The only logical conclusion that I can draw from this website meltdown disaster is sabotage.  Perhaps the opponents of Obamacare hacked figured out a way to covertly sabotage Healthcare.gov.

What do you think?

Friday, August 30, 2013

Text A Driver! Get Sued!


A New Jersey court just gave an opinion that I find a bit disturbing.  We all know that texting and driving can be just as dangerous as drinking and driving.  Distracted drivers kills thousands per year thus a New Jersey judge recently stated the following:  “We hold that the sender of a text message can potentially be liable if an accident is caused by texting, but only if the sender knew or had special reason to know that the recipient would view the text while driving and thus be distracted.”.

Seriously?  How is it the responsibility of the sender of a text message?  The courts are over stepping their bounds here. As a resident of the state of New Jersey, I require a deeper explanation here.  Am I liable if I send a Facebook instant message to a friend while he/she is driving?  Am I liable if I send an email to a friend while he/she is driving?   Online faxing services can be configured to send automated text messages to the recipient. Am I liable if I know that the recipient has this fax alert feature enabled and I knowingly send a fax to that person?  I have my Orbitz account configured to send me text alerts for flight status updates when I travel.  If Orbitz sends me a flight status update while I am driving to the airport, then can't we assume that Orbitz should have known or made a reasonable assumption that I would be driving during the receiving of these text messages.

I probably send text messages to people that I know are driving all of the time.  I make an assumption that they will read those messages when it is safe.  In New Jersey, I can't do that anymore.  What do you think?


Monday, August 26, 2013

Robot Cars? Google is Designing Its Own Self-Driving Car!


Google Inc., which has been working on software to help major automakers build self-driving cars, also is quietly going around them by designing and developing a full-fledged self-driving car, according to people familiar with the matter.

In recent months, Google has held talks with contract manufacturers to build new cars to Google’s specifications, said the people familiar with the matter. The move came after Google’s talks with big car brands about incorporating its technology into their vehicles failed to yield a partnership, one of these people said.

Read full story on JessicaLessin.com

Autonomous cars?  The concept is very similar to "Johnny Cab" from the movie Total Recall.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Blackberry's Demise: It's All About The Apps Stupid!

This year Blackberry launched its Blackberry 10 model to compete with iPhone and Android.   Coupled with the launch was the announcement of Alicia Keys as “Creative Director”.  I love Alicia Keys.  She is one of the most talented artists today.  However, having Alicia Keys as “Creative Director” for Blackberry was like putting whipped cream on a pile of horse droppings. 

Blackberry’s Fundamental Problem: APPS!
Back in 2006, I investigated the possibility of developing apps for the Blackberry.  It was a complete nightmare!  Blackberry required me to develop my app separately for every different model of Blackberry phone.  At the time there were 6 models that I was targeting, thus I would have had to develop my app 6 different times.  This was insane!

Most consumers choose iPhone/Android for the bountiful supply of apps available.  I predicted Blackberry’s demise before version 10 launched.  The only thing that could have saved them was an easy way for Android developers (or iPhone developers) to port their apps to Blackberry.  Blackberry engineers should have built in a Linux emulator which could easily run Android apps.  These apps could have been ported to the Blackberry app store.  Blackberry could have had an easy acceptance program by automatically accepting apps which had been approved by Google/Apple.
Most sane developers have chosen to avoid Blackberry for (1) Lack of market share and (2) Lack of a development platform that could port existing code.

Today, it was announced that Blackberry is up sale.  This should be of no big surprise to anyone.  So, to you Crackberry fans, when are you going to trade in that old monster of a phone for a real smart phone?  What do you think?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

2 Things Black Folks Could Learn From The NFL

As many of you know, I am the Chief Marketing Officer for Around The Way app.  This app allows you to find the closest Black-owned business to your current location thus I am passionate about supporting Black-owned businesses.

Unfortunately, too many African Americans love showing other folks (mainly non-African Americans) how much money they have and how much they have to spend.  Black folks seem to love spending money with every other business on the face of this earth to show them that they can afford to eat, drink, wear and drive anything and everything that a non-Black vendor is selling.

It is my humble opinion that this attitude was a direct result of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.  During the Civil Rights Movement, Black leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. worked tirelessly to break down the institutionalized barriers for self esteem reasons and other reasons.  The fact that we can celebrate a President Barack Obama is a lasting result of the positive outcomes of the Civil Right Movement. Thus, every minority owes MLK a debt of gratitude.

However, with all of the benefits Civil Rights come some detriments.  During the movement, access to White-only restaurants and other societal amenities was seen as a gift.  Suddenly, if it was White, it was right in regards to where Black folks should spend their hard earned cash.  This attitude persists today among African Americans.  Black folks can't spend their money fast enough buying Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Hennessy and every non-Black-owned luxury item.

General Motors, AT&T, NBC and every major corporation in this country has a diversity and inclusion department.  Generally, this department is mandated to make sure that it's supplier makeup is reflective of society.  In other words, they want to make sure minority suppliers are given contract opportunities.
If General Motors had the diversity spending habits of Black folks, they would have virtually zero African American suppliers.

This is why I propose that every African American adopt a person Rooney Rule.  The Rooney Rule was a rule instituted by the NFL in 1993 to help the hiring of African American coaches.  The rule simply says that when an NFL head coaching vacancy becomes available, the team is mandated to interview at least 1 minority coach.  They do not have to hire that coach but they at least have to interview one.

The positive results of the Rooney Rule speak volumes.  In a 4 year span from 2007 to 2011 we saw 5 Superbowl appearances and 2 Superbowl victories by Black NFL head coaches.

2 Things Black Folks Could Learn From The NFL
(1) Your Personal Rooney Rule:  Before you spend your hard earned dollars have you considered an African American business?  You don't have to spend at a Black-owned business but make a conscience effort to consider it.
(2) Download and use the Around The Way app to support Your Personal Rooney Rule.

Would you adopt a Personal Rooney Rule to support Black-owned businesses?



Friday, July 12, 2013

Lawyers Got You Scared & Pimpin You!


For the past 235+ years that we have been a country, lawyers have earned their keep by fear. Let me explain. People naturally fear things that they do not understand.  The language of law is by nature cryptic.  I was watching a lawyer in action once and this partial lawyer said the following when describing a case that he was working on:
"Said suspect surrendered said vehicle at the location in question at fifteen hundred hours".
What does that mean?
He could have easily said "He left the car on the corner at 3 o'clock".

Laws Are Just Rules
We have rules for every facet of our lives but they are not as cryptic as the rules of law.  Here is a question for you all?   In  the board game Monopoly, what happens when you pass GO?  You know it.  You collect $200.  As a child, did you have a legal team to help you understand and interpret the rules of Monopoly?
No...
Why?
Because it's not cryptic.

Think about this blog entry the next time you have to seek legal counsel on something as simple as collecting $200 by passing GO.

What do you think?