Eternalizing Our Identity Through Facebook

After one is deceased, their Facebook accounts can become an active memorial for friends, family and loved ones to collectively reminisce. Before a person passes, there is an option in the settings to effectively “immortalize” the account by assigning someone as a legacy contact – an individual who manages the page postmortem. This agreement is a social media “Will” of sorts, where a close family member or friend can be ascribed as the executor of the virtual “estate”.

Memorializing a Facebook page fixes a person’s place in the world, a simulated gravesite that allots a continuous space for solemn commemoration. The page can quickly go from a platform for dialogue between the living person and the world, to an outlet for loved ones of the deceased to grieve together. It becomes a living, breathing, active board of remembrance. In some ways, when one passes, the character and personality of that individual remains intact with the collective reliving and continuous re-cultivation of that person through memories, pictures and quotes. This generally is an effort to depict who that person was when alive and to forever keep him/her in memory. Giving someone legal responsibility of managing one’s Facebook is a form of immortalization, at least on a virtual dimension. Perhaps, this is the preliminary step to what science and technology have been attempting to craft for decades – immortalizing the human body. The incessant desire to grip and grasp onto the human form to the bitter end – until there is no end. Over population? Pay no concern, viruses and warfare will take care of such issues. The zombie apocalypse might be well on its way.

All jokes aside, memorializing one’s page is Facebook’s effort to assist families in their grieving process. The designated legacy contact for a person’s account has only slightly stricter page oversight parameters than the original page holder. Once Facebook is notified that a person has passed, the page will be “memorialized” and the legal heir is able to internally post of the timeline anything regarding times for the memorial services or heartfelt stories. They also have the liberty to post photos and make new connections with friends of the deceased who desire to share their condolences on the page. The company has confirmed, however, that this legacy contact is unable to look into any previously private messages that were exchanged on the account to continue to respect and protect their privacy. The reason for allowing a person to absorb an individual’s account after passing is for Facebook to ensure that a person’s identity is forever protected. For those who are not interested in keeping their account active can always request for it to be permanently deleted after death.

Android’s Future in the World of Mobile Devices

Albeit the booming sales of Androids over the past year – being the top player in mobile device sales by selling over a billion phones in 2014 alone, nearly five times that of iphones – there are still some challenges that Google faces with Android. As Apple’s mobile device popularity continues to grow at an unprecedented rate, there are some known facts that Google is beginning to face. Over the years, many people have used Android for it’s affordability over Apple. In general, this has, demographically, represented Android users as less financially well-off than Apple users. As a result, Android users have invested less money overall in Google Play – Androids’ app store. The sales generated from phone devices alone is meager in comparison to the revenue made from apps. The issue for Google is that although Google Play has become increasingly popular in past years, Apple continues to generate more from it’s app store – about $4 billion more than Google Play.

Given that a majority of revenue of mobile devices come from apps, Google has suffered significantly, specifically from China’s focus being primarily on iOS platforms, which has resulted in the country essentially blocking Google app sales. On top of that, Google has had a difficult time generating money from ads on Android. Being an ad company that owns most of the popular internet, one would think the company would favor their own product over Apple advertisements. However, it has inadvertently been quite the contrary. Instead, a recent analysis by Goldman Sachs found that 75% of the $11.8 billion Google collected on mobile search ads came strictly from iphone or ipad advertisements.

With the growing popularity of Apple devices and the steady interest in iOS application development, specifically in Silicon Valley, Google is struggling to keep Android as a first choice among consumers. In addition, it seems that those that are not invested in Apple devices are looking for alternatives, as many are not wanting to support Google. Since Google has colonized much of the tech world – yet is ceasing to be a dominate player in the mobile device market – other companies, specifically smaller players, are using this as leverage to market their apps and new forms of interface to different companies, in effort to keep money within their own “ecosystem”.

Google is now reconsidering it’s priorities. Initially Android was used as a smartphone platform to get users to more easily access Google. The founders claimed they weren’t originally necessarily interested in phone sales. However, now that they have seen the direction the future is going, and the future seems to be lying in the palms of our hands, Google is reassessing how to compete with their competitors, and if that is even something they are interested in doing. It seems that Androids, being a more affordable smartphone device for so long, had become known as a “gateway” for phone users. As mobile device users become more savvy and intelligent , Google is finding their customers to not be so loyal as a mass migration has taken place from Android, straight into the bosom of Apple. Maybe it’s Apple’s sleek advertisements or their disciples’ cunning proselytizing, either way, users are converting. This past year alone, 16% of iphone purchasers were previously Android users

It seems that Google needs to more clearly delineate their intentions with Android. Considering Google is such a major force of power that has monopolized the internet to a point where the word “google” has now become a verb, there is some curiosity of whether now Google wants be more altruistic, offering Android as an affordable product to the middle class, and not simply cater to the successful, ambitious tech oligopoly. Or does Google have no such plans to remain the underdog for long. Time will only tell, but something tells me that Google is not interested in supporting the proletariate in the long run.

Top 5 Coolest Technologies of 2015

In just a year, technology has brought us an extraordinary amount of advancement. Below are our top 5 picks of the most recently released, important tech gadgets of 2015.

Microsoft HoloLens

Described as a first of it’s kinds – an “untethered, see-through holographic computer” – Microsoft has distanced itself from labels such as “virtual reality” by identifying the Microsoft glasses as an “experience mixed reality”. It is a combination of holograms mixed with reality, advertised to be used to expand creativity, communication, work and play. Have an idea? Perhaps Microsoft’s HoloLens can help in your decision making process by going slightly beyond the 2D screen in bringing your idea to life in effort to more intimately understand your concept. The future is here and it involves a more personable, natural interaction with content.

Self-driving cars

A self-driving car? Rewind a little less than 50 years ago, the idea would have been considered preposterous, even ludicrous, reserved only for that of a science fiction novel. Now, the concept of a vehicle being able to navigate and function without the efforts of a human is now a near reality. Fast forward to 2015 – if you live in Mountain View, California, where Google’s headquarters resides, you might happen to see a peculiar little, egg-like bugger of a car, with it’s driver being completely hands-off the wheel. Welcome to the era of the autonomous vehicle, or better yet, the era of the ever pervasive “internet of things” where the only responsibility the user has is to push a button and the rest is simply taken care of from there. And it’s not just Google that has jumped onto the self-driving bandwagon. Nissan has recently announced the company has scheduled to release it’s self-driving car for 2020. Tesla also took a big leap toward self-driving electronic cars. Although initially made to only be a not-so-affordable-yet-extremely-efficient electronic vehicle, Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk, now reported that a software update will be installed in a matter of months for the Model S to have an automatic steering feature installed. These are now being tested on the road from Seattle to San Francisco.

Automated Action Camera Drones

This year has been the big release for many Robotics companies across the nation of the autonomous action camera drone. In 2014, there was plenty of anticipation leading up to the technology, a first of its kind. Gone are the days of wearing detachable action cameras such as GoPros. Robotics companies have solved the problem of eliminating any extra bulk by allocating the responsibility of filming to a drone. It is acknowledged by some as the perfect marriage between drone technology and cameras. Capture every moment without the hassle of needing to be responsible for getting it all on film yourself. It is like having your own paparazzi on demand.

Apple Watch

It was in the early 1980s that computers were about the size of one’s room, just 30 years later, they are now optimized and customized to the size of one’s wrist. Gone are the extraneous machines and the large bulky parts. Today we have efficiency and practicality in the palms of our hands – literally. Not only is the apple watch a wearable device, but it is also sleek and fashionable. After three years in development, the Apple watch was finally released in April 2015. Users can communicate with friends, measure metrics such as steps taken, calories burned, and pulse, as well as use GPS, email, weather, music, and the oh-so-needed Siri application. The Apple watch is distinct from other Apple products with how it senses the pressure of one’s touch to mean different signals from it’s user. Next up – the Apple ring.

Wearable Medical Devices

The wearable medical device industry is booming at an unprecedented rate. Such devices are considered to be transforming the medical field beyond what could have ever been imagined even just 10 years ago. Health monitoring is becoming more and more personable, allowing the patient to take health care into their own hands. From monitoring post-hospitalization to chronic disease, researchers are expecting some very important data from such devices. Currently, the ever growing number of medical devices includes glucose monitoring, ECG monitors, pulse oximeters and blood pressure monitors.

By 2016 the wearable technology market is expected to exceed $2.9 billion. Some of this wearable health and fitness technology includes Preventice’s BodyGuarian’s Remote Monitoring System, Avery Demisa’s Metric Wearable tech, 9Solutions IPCS, BodyTel, AiQ Smart Clothing, Danfoss PolyPower AIS, among many more. Most of these devices are compatible with iPhones and Bluetooth, enabling patients to send measured body information directly back to their doctors. Convenient and empowering.

The Lack of Reliability of Product Reviews

When purchasing the newest technology gadget, consumers – depending on the expense and total investment – will most times carry out an extensive internet search seeking the most recent, relevant reviews before following through with a purchase. However, given freedom of speech, the internet has become a platform for open opionating. Since the advent of the internet, the need for validity has wavered to the point where all accessible information – and mind you, all information is in fact accessible on the world wide web – is considered to carry some form of weight, due to the majority of consumers being neophytes in some shape or form. Whether it is a mother reviewing a new vacuum, or an employee from the vacuum company itself offering their two cents on the product, each opinion, in many consumer’s eyes, are viewed as equal. This intense reliability and trust in the anonymous is perhaps a product of two culture phenomena. First, many consumers, when reading reviews, aren’t curious enough to take a quick peek at the writer’s profile. What is important to consider is, with every persons opinion or critique shared, there is inevitably a bit of ethnocentrism that is almost impractical to remove. However, often times this is not considered. One consumer reads another consumer’s review, and more often than not take it at face value. Secondly, many reviews are in fact written by individuals who either a) have some sort of intimate relationship with the company (i.e. owner’s wife, friends, employees, etc) or b) are professionals paid to provide a write up with a positive spin in favor of the product, in effort for the company to keep their ratings high.

What use to be an outlet for freedom of speech and unfiltered, uncensored participation, has recently become muddled by more and more people becoming savvy enough to know how to tweak their online image, company and product in their favor – because it isn’t that hard to do. Therefore, when it comes to product reviews, whether it is a result of the “anything goes” mentality or due to reviewers with conflicts of interests, product reviews are damaged. However, this isn’t to say there isn’t any validity when it comes to product reviews. You can get a baseline idea of what the product is going to be like, but if you truly want to know all the pros and cons (warning, is you find a review site that has no cons, don’t drink the kool aid), it is best to discuss with friends or seek out a reliable forum to inquire about the newest technology gadget you plan on purchasing.

Aside from quality control, another major downside of product reviews that tends to be gleefully over looked is the lack of any mention of a company’s customer service. Customer service, while it might not be a priority when making your initial purchase, will most likely be of importance when something goes wrong and you need external help. In fact, customer service is what you would expect to rely on, which is often times why it goes overlooked. However, this is of critical importance when shopping for any technology, because as we all know, technology has its defects, and after spending $1000 on something we think will bring convenience to our life, we want some quality help when that investment becomes more of a burden.

Quality, speed, response time, experience and reliability are generally the expectations we have of customer service. More often than not, we want all five of these attributes, because quality service without a fast delivery just won’t do. Granted, maybe there is no such this as 100% hassle free service, but I believe we all expect something quite close to it. However, at this point in time, oddly enough – even with the plethora of product review sites available on the internet – there has yet to exist a “one-stop-shop” for customer service reviews, as mentioned in Brian X. Chen’s article in the New York Times. And I must agree with him, with all those those tech-savvy, start-up pushing, entrepreneurs out there, this presents a pretty excellent untapped market to jump on. And yes, while collecting data on customer service does seem like an extensive project, I believe there would be some very happy shoppers out there who would be grateful to be more informed. Takers?

 

Google’s Experimental Patent Purchase Program

Whether it is an attempt to strictly protect against patent trolls or the less altruistic pursuit of acquiring more leverage against their competitors, Google has initiated a new, experimental program to review patents from sellers, in order to prevent them from ending up in the wrong hands. There has been friction in the past where patents have been sold to non-practicing entities, calling into question the validity of software patents altogether. Google’s method of reducing this contention in the market is to vet all potential patents looking to be sold by having the owners submit them to Google’s Patent Purchase Promotion Program, communicating exactly when they would like to be sold and at what price.

The first trial of this program will begin on May 8th, allowing all patents to be submitted for review until May 22nd. After the window for submission closes, Google will reconnect with all patent holders who submitted by June 26th about the potential of acquiring their patent, clarify the logistics and what it would entail. Google is attempting to finalize all those they would like to absorb as their own by end of August. Before all transactions are finalized, Google is mandating sellers be well versed with the “fine print”. Because of the politics regarding patent laws, the company is in fact encouraging those who do choose to sell to Google to speak with an attorney. They do not want anyone in the dark about certain liberties or potentialities Google could have with the acquisition. The company wants all sellers to step away from their patent knowing the rights Google holds post-transaction.

The strict window for patent submission is Google’s attempt to expedite the review and acquisition process.  The company states their intentions are invested in creating a more hospitable environment and smoother experience for both individuals and companies selling patents, by overseeing they get to the right people at the appropriate price. And in Google’s world, well, that is Google.

Top 10 Signs That You’ve Hired the Wrong Developer

1- “Yes, I program Java. I use the Angular.” Uh oh… Run for the hills, this person is not a developer. You should be impressed that s/he was able to send you an email.

2- “I’m a full-stack engineer.” This one is tricky. Lots of people out there claim to be full-stack engineers, when in reality they only have some superficial knowledge of just a few things. A real full-stack engineer should be able to go from A to Z with deep knowledge about the front-end, the middle logic and the backend (including the data layer).

3- “I’m strictly a Rails developer.” I don’t think this one needs any further explanation as to why not to hire this person. So how do you identify this person? Easy, all they know is Ruby on Rails.

4- “The programming language that I know is the right tool for every job.” Different jobs require different tools. It is ok if your Dev doesn’t know every language out there, but it is not ok when they try to force and convince you that the only thing they know is the right tool for the job.

5- “I took a handful of CS classes at a very good university.” A good education is always a great plus, but it shouldn’t be all they are basing their experience on when attempting to be hired. Experience should be the most important badge. Some of the best programmers I know barely made it through high school (because all their time was devoted to programming at home).

6- “I’m an expert in jQuery, but I’ve never programmed in Javascript.” Yikes! jQuery is a JavaScript library! They may not look the same, but if you claim to be an expert in jQuery, you should also know JavaScript.

7. “What’s a Repo?” It’s that thing that’s going to save the thing you’re sitting on. Don’t ever let anyone mess with your code if they have no clue what a Repo is!

8. “What’s a data structure?” We are a data heavy company, so understanding how data is encapsulated in objects is extremely important.

9. “I’m known as a rebel amongst my colleagues. I get things done my own way.” There is no single right way to solve a problem, but there are countless wrong ways. Most times, programmers that take their own road, haven’t done the due diligence to find one of the many right roads.

10. “I always use these 12 frameworks when writing code.” Frameworks and libraries are nice and save us time, but a good developer needs to understand the basic inner workings of a language – How is memory managed? Which functions have heavy loads? etc. Frameworks obfuscate much of this information which can result in dangerous practices, especially when you’re trying to scale.

Top 5 Developer Websites

Upon an in-house discussion at the office, I began to realize that there are very few “Top (enter number here) Lists” for developers. As the “Top 10” blog becomes more and more ubiquitous throughout every site on the interweb, we are hard-pressed to find those that cater directly to the people who make the global platform for sharing, discussing and opinionating survive. I nearly fell off my yellow plastic office chair out of pure shock to discover that although there is a “Top 10 List” for every ridiculous thing out there now-a days (See: http://www.totallytop10.com/), there are still limited amounts for those of which the very backbone of the internet existence rests upon. How can we be enjoying something so prolific, so fundamental, so essential and not pay our pence to the developers, engineers and coders behind the machine. Therefore, this my friends, is an attempt to give back to all those souls who have slaved away to provide us with the single-click freedom to peruse the world over for the best LOL cat. Below is a list of my top 5 choices of websites for developers with a brief, albeit hearty description, of my affinity for each. Enjoy! And if you disagree with any of the sites I have chosen, please connect.

  1. Stackoverflow.com  I think most developers would agree that stackoverflow.com is one of the most popular sites for programmers. It is easy, free and tends to be pretty darn reliable. Have a question about programming and you either a) don’t have any co-workers to ask because you work remotely or b) don’t have any co-workers to ask because no one has time for your questions because you ask too many? No sweat, post your question up on Stackoverflow and get answers fast. Or you might be in luck and already have had the question asked and answered by someone else. Simple and to the point, perfect for developers.
  2. Dzone.com  This site is catering to the tech professional. While they might sound a little arrogant at first, it would be difficult to find a tech pro who’s not. And they have good reason to be. It is one of the largest communities of technology professionals on the web. They have been providing resources before many of the current developers even began to drive and their members are just plain smart. These guys know what they are talking about, making them an invaluable resource for any developer.
  3. Github.com  Not sure if your code is as clean as you would like? Github provides fantastic code review and code management for both open source and private projects, on the cheap! This is an excellent site for those who are looking to make software development more collaborative. Here you can get quality feedback from other developers on your code. You never have to do it alone again.
  4. Oracle’s Java Documentation  It is safe to say that whether you are a novice or an connoisseur, you will most likely discover something worthy of your precious time on here. Ranging from Java tutorials, trainings, forums to reference tool guides, if your question is java related, this is where you want to find yourself.
  5. Leetcode.com  An excellent social platform for preparing IT technical interviews. Similar to Github.com, Leetcode can also check code, with its online judge. Their platform supports 9 coding languages, making it difficult to not find a solution here.

Top 10 Technology Websites

If you are someone like me, a professional tech blogger and an aspiring technology brat, then you too may be on the constant insatiable hunt for the top-shelf, most substantially sound technology site. And let’s face it, it is sometimes difficult to truly sort through the subpar from the extraordinaire with how saturated the market is with the prolific amount of the run-of-the mill, overly ordinary blogs currently flooding the internet. Therefore, I took it upon myself (your welcome) to sift through all the rot, mundane material to find the “cream of the crop” of tech websites. Mainly, I did this selfishly to have better sources to draw my research from in the long-run. However, I’m also interested in supporting my global community with quality reading material. So stop wasting your precious reading hours on mindless web surfing for salient source material and start actually… reading! Below are the top 10 (truly) best technology websites you’ll find.

 

LifeHacker

A simple, no frills, direct technology website. The content is well written and original, which is hard to come by. Apart from tech news, it has an extensive array of subjects ranging from gadgets, business tips, product deals and consumer tidbits, as well as productivity techniques. There are some articles peppered throughout the site one would expect to see in a “Psychology Today” magazine such Patrick Allan’s write up on “How to control your temper before you loose it“. In brief, you won’t be let down.

~Agreed on by 3 other sites:

http://www.tripwiremagazine.com/2013/04/technology-websites-for-inspiration.html

http://www.topsite.com/best/technology

http://tech.blorge.com/Structure:%20/2008/11/15/top-40-technology-news-sites-the-definitive-guide/

 

CNET.com

Sophisticated and sleek are the first words that come to mind when entering CNET.com. Definitely catering to the high-brow, business oriented readers. CNET has a flashy (not to be confused with flash) website that retains a subtle form of competence, order and class. Excellent source for users wanting to learn, as it offers a “How To” drop down menu for it’s readers.

~Agreed on by 3 other sites:

http://www.tripwiremagazine.com/2013/04/technology-websites-for-inspiration.html

http://tech.blorge.com/Structure:%20/2008/11/15/top-40-technology-news-sites-the-definitive-guide/<

http://www.ebizmba.com/articles/gadget-websites

 

Engadget

What I enjoy about Engadget is the sense of authenticity. Their articles are not recycled from other sites. When reading any one of their copious write-ups, it seems as though the writers are really doing the foot work. When it comes to sampling and reviewing products, these guys put the time in. Great place to go for gadgets and reviews.

~Agreed on by 3 other sites:

http://www.tripwiremagazine.com/2013/04/technology-websites-for-inspiration.html

http://tech.blorge.com/Structure:%20/2008/11/15/top-40-technology-news-sites-the-definitive-guide/

http://www.ebizmba.com/articles/gadget-websites

 

Ars Technica

Something I really appreciate about this blog is the simplicity in the navigation bar. Often times with many tech sites it seems they have so much to say and share they will bombard the reader with anything and everything all at once. However, with Ars Technica all their articles are neatly compartmentalized into clear, concise categories. Whether it be information technology, business, gaming, hacking or reviews, this site is bound to satiate your proclivity for hard earned amusement.

~Agreed on by 3 other sites:

http://tech.blorge.com/Structure:%20/2008/11/15/top-40-technology-news-sites-the-definitive-guide/

http://www.topsite.com/best/technology

http://www.tripwiremagazine.com/2013/04/technology-websites-for-inspiration.html

 

Gizmodo

While the blog layout might seem a bit disorganized, the voice behind the writing is poignant and savvy. The best part about the content on this blog is the witty humor. If you are a tech geek who is looking for some more textured, personalized content, where you can actually hear the voice behind the written word, Gizmodo might just meet your fancy!

~Agreed on by 3 other sites:

http://www.tripwiremagazine.com/2013/04/technology-websites-for-inspiration.html

http://tech.blorge.com/Structure:%20/2008/11/15/top-40-technology-news-sites-the-definitive-guide/

http://www.ebizmba.com/articles/gadget-websites

 

All Things Digital

All Things Digital is a Wall Street Journal technology blog. Well organized and the go-to for more information-hungry tech nerds. Articles are written by reputable sources the educated reader can trust. Writing is extensive and thought provoking with excellent opinions and commentary pieces. One of my favorite features on this blog is how it offers a “Companies” section, allowing the reader to find specific coverage on any major tech company.

~Agreed on by 2 other sites:

http://tech.blorge.com/Structure:%20/2008/11/15/top-40-technology-news-sites-the-definitive-guide/

http://www.tripwiremagazine.com/2013/04/technology-websites-for-inspiration.html

 

Boy Genius Report

More of a blog than a developed website, the Boy Genius Report makes it’s content accessible to both the everyday internet troll as well as the hardwired tech nerd. Their topics run the gamut of business, cars, ebooks, gaming, hardware, opinions and celebrities. The review section encompasses a wide array of products, with a particular focus on Samsung and Apple.

~Agreed on by 2 other sites:

http://www.tripwiremagazine.com/2013/04/technology-websites-for-inspiration.html

http://tech.blorge.com/Structure:%20/2008/11/15/top-40-technology-news-sites-the-definitive-guide/

 

Download Squad

A Huffington Post technology blog that provides up-to-date news coverage on big news in technology. Great source for those who are already admirers of The Huffington Post. While it provides pointed news in tech, it also publishes a handful of more eclectic articles that one wouldn’t expect to run into on a tech website/blog. One of its most admirable attributes is it’s reviews on downloadable applications of Windows, Mac, Linux and mobile devices.

~Agreed on by 2 other sites:

http://www.tripwiremagazine.com/2013/04/technology-websites-for-inspiration.html

http://tech.blorge.com/Structure:%20/2008/11/15/top-40-technology-news-sites-the-definitive-guide/

 

Electronista

Advertises itself as a source that covers “gadgets for geeks”. Provides news, reviews, forums and services in a very basic and clear delivery. A bit of a “no bullshit” website. Not for the pop-culture techies – no glitter or frills are found here.

~Agreed on by 2 other sites:

http://www.tripwiremagazine.com/2013/04/technology-websites-for-inspiration.html

http://tech.blorge.com/Structure:%20/2008/11/15/top-40-technology-news-sites-the-definitive-guide/

 

Wired

A little quirky, but without a doubt interesting, Wired is full of eccentrics and variety. You never know what you might come across in any of their featured sections. Whether it be a review of an iphone design or a design of a ziplock bag, Wired will most likely have it covered. This site draws interest from the rationalist, to the innovator, to the obscure tech rule breaker.

~Agreed on by 2 other sites:

http://tech.blorge.com/Structure:%20/2008/11/15/top-40-technology-news-sites-the-definitive-guide/

http://www.ebizmba.com/articles/gadget-websites

 

Amazon and Google tap into Home Service Market

The Home Service industry has estimated to be generating somewhere between $400 to $800 billion annually. Because of the lucrative nature of such vocational work including, but certainty not limited to – plumbers, electricians, arborists, ETC – many smaller start-ups have found an outlet to nuzzle their way into the market by creating and offering an online, third party platform – connecting customers to services. There hasn’t been much competition in this market, apart from Angie’s list – the 20 year subscription service that vets local services for customer review and purchase. However, recently Google, having acquired most of the online advertising market since the internet’s inception, and Amazon, owning more of the transactionary market than any other online provider, have both seen opportunities in capitalizing on this type of service and are now cashing in on their resources, perhaps plowing over all the smaller third-parties that came before them in the meantime.

The initial idea for creating a vetted Home Service platform was to bring high tech to low tech – bringing the efficiencies and transparency of the internet to the, at times, convoluted world of Home Services. Keeping services local, not contracting outside the remote area of where the customer lived to keep the money in the community. As most of us know, however, this is nearly impossible to do if there is a third-party involved, being that most third-parties, especially those that exist on the internet, are only able to profit by extending their network outside of localized areas. Nonetheless, they do keep your services local, taking a small cut from the final transaction for the connection they made. But what is happening now is, the little guys are getting their “science project ideas” stolen from them for the big guys to get to benefit and receive the fame. As Google and Amazon steal adopt the Home Service market for themselves, the smaller companies either have to converge into the larger companies, or move out, because lets face it, these two would hands-down win in a consumer loyalty competition. Thumbtack what? Pro.com maybe? Angie’s list? Okay I have heard of it a bit. But Amazon and Google? They are a mainstay, where consumers feel safe, secure and at home..

Initially, Google financed other Home Service platforms, financially backing them while profiting from their advertisements. However, as Google attempts to now utilized their advertisement ubiquity in the more consumer-based transactionary world, it is drawing out of their investments in the smaller companies while in incubation mode on their own google-fied version of a service offering platform. Whether or not google is intending to expand their dystopia utopia by buying into the marketplace of “vetting service providers”, or simply attempting to get their “hands-in-more-pots” by providing another option for loyal Google users, it is hard to say. But it is clear that the temperatures are rising as the competition begins to heat up. With increased competition comes more of an innovative push for creative endeavors and alternative options. For example, Angie’s List recently released an app that not only connects customers with services but now allows the potential customer to take pictures of their defective appliance in the effort to find the most appropriate specialist.

Amazon’s initiative to jump on the “Home Services’ bandwagon has been a bit more expected, being the company already offers an online store that helps customers find, buy and begin using software; providing an additional service to connect their customers to specialists in their area seemed like a pretty natural transition for a company that is attempting to take over the virtual world. Amazon is attempting to tap into the market a bit differently than it’s competition. While Google is pulling out of it’s investment with Thumbtack, Amazon is continuing to keep it’s investments with various smaller businesses. It seems to be wanting to have its hands in as companies as it can, not in an altruistic way but more in an attempt to stay in as much control of the market as possible.

Either way, this is an emerging lucrative outlet and the bigger players don’t just want “in”, their grandeur nature wants it all – even the garnish!

While Amazon customers have been waiting for the online store to fill-in the gap of the Home Service needs, and therefore expected to happen pretty rapidly as the company already has an online offering, Google on the other hand, will be slower with their transition. As it starts to transition away from being simply a conduit for other companies and into a newer realm of engaging directly with customers through transactions, Google will begin to have a facelift. It has already made strides to compete with Amazon via “Google express” marketplace, however, it still needs to work on advertising itself as a online store, as it begins to tiptoe it’s way to the retail side of things.

Amazon has the consumer-based market, while Google reins over advertising. If the two could merge and join forces, they would make an insurmountable team, giving all the startups a run for their money. However, contention is where growth and innovation prevail for these two companies and therefore, they will inevitable work independently.

As we start to see these third-party Home Service platforms pop-up, 90% of which will eventually be split between Amazon and Google, many of the companies that provide the specialists may have to cut their prices in the effort to stay competitive amongst the other specialists in their field that the third parties also advertise. Therefore, perhaps more money will be funneled into the mega-corporations and less given directly to the actual workers who provides the services, keeping the middle class caged in the middle class – and the hierarchy prevails. Let us just stop and consider for a moment what it actually entails to get a plumber, an electrician, or a construction worker yourself? An internet scan, a conversation with a neighbor, or perhaps the yellow pages (do they still make phone books anymore)? Either way it doesn’t require much. If we continue to expect there to be a service for everything – in this case, a service for a service – I believe there will be detrimental outcomes. Historically, laziness has gotten entire populations in immense amounts of trouble. And history repeats itself.

 

Are recycled grass phones the future?

It has become mandatory to own a cell phone this day-and-age. Without one, you are not only missing calls, but also loads of inside jokes shared via text, emotive emojiis and hundreds of applications that will supposedly improve your cognitive development (perhaps attempting to counteract the brain degradation that the radiation from cell phones have been found to cause). With that being said, some of us activists out there cringe at the morals we compromise when using a cellphone. Environmental and health factors run the gamut of depleting numerous natural resources alongside of using an excessive supply of energy and water, contributing directly to byproducts that cause an unreasonable amount of pollution and waste. I’ll spare you the statistics here, but just knowing that more than 140 million cell phones make their way into landfills each year, leaking lead directly into the earth and groundwater, is enough for most reasonable citizens to demand alternative options for future technology. The sacrifices that are made for our convenience is appalling.  Moreover, the one initiative we as cellphone consumers have the ability to make is the choice to recycle our phones, along with other electronics, at the end of their life line, however, less than 25% actually are reprocessed.

Therefore, for reasons that are obvious, innovators and inventors have been researching for more sustainable options in recent years and fortunate for us, it’s looking as though there may be some hope.

Just this past month, designer Sean Miles developed a cell phone that might give some of us painstaking-purists some relief for the future of gadgets. After 240 hours in the studio, Miles crafted a cell phone made entirely from recycled products and natural elements, including treated pulped grass clippings and recycled resin. He described it as a composite material similar to carbon fire – finally a sustainable alternative to plastic molding. This design was originally developed as a one-time prototype for O2 Recycle to represent the value of recycling. However, Design Works was impressed with the first model and is now continuing to look into the possibility of replicating it on a larger scale.

Cell phones are one of the major contributors to the e-waste crisis we are dealing with on a day-to-day basis. Cuttting down on some of the excess material by making these small adjustments to the design is a much-needed small step in the right direction for reducing our technology waste over time. Perhaps one day, hopefully in the not-so-distant future, we will all sport compostable phones, not because it will be a fad but rather, because it will be a compulsory country-wide mandate. One can only hope.