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Brian Johnson
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Brian Johnson

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How does Texas define "freedom"?

"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."
Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride

Two news stories came out of Texas at roughly the same time:

Texas, which had in the past outlawed sugary soft drinks and deep-fat fryers in the schools, is considering bringing them back. According to Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, it’s being proposed in the name of “freedom, liberty and individual responsibility.”

Elsewhere in Texas, two sisters aged 7 and 8 opened a lemonade stand to raise money to buy their dad a gift for Father’s day. They were shut down for not having a government-issued permit.

Some things I just don't understand.

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2015/06/11/texas-considers-bringing-soda-machines-fryers-back-to-schools-the-reason-why-is-so-texas/

http://www.people.com/article/texas-police-shut-down-little-girls-lemonade-stand-operating-without-permit

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Brian Johnson

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Sunset on Cape Cod
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WOW !!!!
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Haven't seen this reported anywhere else, but it looks interesting...
A new feature called Collections is coming soon to Google+, according to sources of ours. While we have limited information about Collections at this time, from what we understand, the feature wants users to create “collections” of their interests, which makes it sound a lot like Pinterest meets ...
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+Oleg Moskalensky Not disagreeing. I think that it will reflect very badly on them. They certainly fouled up some of the details badly...
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I don't need a visually oriented wearable.

Wearables have been getting a lot of press in the last few years. Pebble, Google Glass, Android Wear, the Apple Watch, and now Magic Leap all promise ways to look at information without taking your smartphone out of your pocket. While they all look amazing and fun, I don't need all of that for everyday use.

I just want something to whisper in my ear - and the hardware to do that has been around for years. It's the lowly Bluetooth earpiece.

I can actually do this today - sort of. My iPhone has a feature called "VoiceOver". I enjoy bicycling, and and at the start of each ride, I press the button on my headset and tell Siri to turn on VoiceOver. For the rest of the ride, any notification that pops up on my lock screen is automatically spoken to me through the earpiece. My phone stays safety in my bag, and I don't have to take one hand off the handlebars to squint at an itty bitty screen on my wrist while I am dodging traffic. If I want additional info, I often can get it just by asking Siri.

It's simple, easy, and inexpensive.

It's not perfect. The other features of VoiceOver are great for those who need it, but are overkill for my use. To be truly day-to-day useful, I would want to disable certain VoiceOver features, and configure which notifications get read to me. (iMessage - yes. games with friends - no.). It also doesn't work well with my car's audio system - different Bluetooth profile, I think.

The press and the manufacturers may be focused on visual interfaces, but I believe a simple audio assistant has a much better chance of becoming ubiquitous - if the software evolves to truly make use of it.

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A new twist on an old scam

I've seen this tired scam targeted to PC owners for years, but this is the first time I've seen it targeting iPhone browsing.

Don't fall for it 
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Inbox by GMail hidden gem - bundle options

There is no need to be disrupted by the routine - so cut back on those distractions!

When GMail added the “tabbed inbox” a while back, I admit that I didn't find it very useful.  I am going to manage all my incoming mail anyway, so why click through multiple tabs just to see what is there?

As I started working with the new Inbox by GMail app, I looked at “bundles” which is essentially a souped up version of the older tabbed inbox.  The way that bundles are presented in the Inbox view is a bit more informative than the older version, to the point where having some messages pre-sorted just might be useful enough to give it another try.

Then I found the bundle’s hidden gem - deep within the settings on the mobile client.  (I have the iPhone client, but I assume that the Android client is similar.)

To access the settings, tap on the “three lines” icon at the top left of the inbox to slide out the navigator.  Scroll all the way to the bottom of the navigator (below all your bundles and labels) and tap “Settings”.  When the “Settings” screen opens, tap on your account.  You will see a simple settings screen with three options - “New Messages”, “Label settings & notifications”, and “About location.”   Tap on “Label settings & notifications.”

You will see a list of all your labels, sorted into groups.  I have three groups - bundled, unbundled, and “Skip the Inbox”.  (That last one is because of some GMail rules I have to move certain items directly to a label without ever appearing in my inbox.)   Tapping on an individual label or bundle brings up additional options - and here is where you find the hidden gem.

For any bundle, you can separately set whether emails received into that bundle result in a notification on your phone, or whether they just sit patiently until you get around to reading your mail.   You can also set whether new mails for that bundle appear in your inbox immediately, only once a day, or only once a week.

And this is the true power of bundles.  If someone in my family sends an email, I certainly want the traditional notification on my smartphone to happen immediately.   But if I purchase something online and they send me a receipt, I don’t need a notification at all - I will get to it the next time I open my mail.

The ability to create bundles, decide what goes into each bundle, and decide which bundles result in notifications is incredibly powerful.   Now my smartphone can notify me about only the most important/urgent mail - not every single offer, receipt, and newsletter that may arrive.

I never would have thought that Inbox’s biggest feature is the ability to leave me alone!
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Bluetooth Beacons - consumer boon or Trojan horse?

The biggest privacy danger with beacons occurs when a single company collects data from many beacons.

You may have heard about bluetooth beacons - they first got a lot of press when Apple announced its version. These are small devices that broadcast an ID number using a low-power Bluetooth standard. Both Apple and Android devices can support them.

They are promoted as a boon to stores - plant some beacons in your store, and when customers approach your store, your loyalty app can recognize the beacon, know you are near (or in) your store, and present the phone holder with a store coupon or list of daily specials. The beacons might even know which portion of the store you are in, so you get deli specials when you are in the deli section. Cool, huh?

When beacons were first announced, the industry was quick to point out that a beacon can’t collect information about you - all it can do is broadcast an ID. What the companies usually neglect to mention is that the app that receives and interprets the beacon is just another app on your phone, and the app can do anything with the location data that it wants, including send it somewhere.

So the traditional advice is to configure each app according to your needs. Maybe you don’t mind that your grocery store knows you are there - so you configure your grocery store app to permit beacons. But you might not want the department store chain to have that info - so you turn off beacons in your department store app. Unless your department store app and your grocery store app are configured to recognize each others’ beacons, you have some control over who is collecting information about your store visits.

But what happens if the same app handles beacons for many stores? Now you have far less control over your information. Want to get those grocery coupons? Allow the app to use beacons. But now that app not only tracks your visit to the grocery store, it might also track your visit to the liquor store, the bookstore, and many other places you might visit (or just walk by, if the beacon is placed near the door.)

Facebook wants to be that app that tracks all your moves.

Facebook is building (or perhaps has built) beacon support into the Facebook app. They want stores to use Facebook beacons instead of proprietary store beacons. As an enticement, they are offering free beacons to stores to use - walk into the store, and the Facebook app will light up with store info and/or in store coupons. Of course, to do that, your Facebook app will tell Facebook that you just walked into the grocery store. Or the department store. Or the adult bookstore. Or the liquor store. You get the idea.

And of course, we don’t know what Facebook will ultimately do with this info. The teenage girl who posted that she just broke up with her boyfriend after a huge fight? We may not know what the fight was about, but Facebook might learn that she started visiting Babies R Us stores, and make an educated guess
That employee who is venting on Facebook that he didn’t get the raise he thought he deserved? Only Facebook will be able to correlate that with visits to the coffee shop next door to your biggest competitor.

Sites like Facebook are already tracking your moves around the web. Now Facebook wants to track your moves around the mall.

Ultimately, you will decide (I hope) whether to grant Facebook access to all those beacons. Think carefully. 
Six months after its initial trial run, Facebook's Place Tips program is finally expanding nationwide. Place Tips employs Bluetooth beacons to push FB po
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Facebook -- who has already demonstrated, multiple times, that they are unethical by design -- is about the last company I'd want to be able to do this! Well, OK, maybe after Huawei and Kaspersky.... ;-)
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When marketing jumped the shark

HD toothpaste? Really? That's so passé. I won't settle for anything less than 4K toothpaste.

(And before you ask, it really was right next to the 3D toothpaste in the store aisle.)
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Love this. There is a concern that in general we are not exposed to enough diverse viewpoints, but instead only see "news" that reinforces our preconceptions and biases. Social media is one of those areas of concern.

So in the spirit of objectivity, Facebook releases a study that says yes, your Facebook newsfeed is filtered to show a bit more of what you agree with than what you disagree with. (You can't turn off that filter.). But, according to Facebook, it's not their fault, it's yours, since their algorithm is weighted by what you do.

In other words, it's your fault you don't "like" things you don't like. 
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Love this article by Fast Company.

First, Facebook tells businesses they should put a lot of time and effort into Facebook pages and posts.   Then they tell users that in order to "keep their news feeds relevant" they would be filtering out all those posts they told businesses to create - because users supposedly didn't want to see them.
Then they told the businesses that they could make sure users saw those posts ( the ones they said users didn't want to see) by paying Facebook more money.

In almost any other business, this would raise cries of racketeering.
 
For years, small business owners have been encouraged to adopt social media strategies as a way of engaging their customers after they leave the store. And they listened: 90% of small business owners in the U.S. are active on social media, and many consider social media the easiest and most cost-effective way to have an online presence.

But recently customer engagement rates on Facebook and Twitter have declined to the point where only paid promoted posts can create meaningful results. Here's a look at why, and what small business owners should do instead.
The former head of SMB Marketing at Facebook on why social media can no longer help small businesses reach customers.
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Brian,
Thank you for sharing this very insightful article.
It actually encourages me the continue with our ongoing approach to reaching our customers and potential customers.
All the best,
Ed
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FYI - Although Evernote Scannable (for iOS) does not directly support Google Drive, it does support the iOS "Open With..." Function. So if you have the Google Drive app installed, you can scan with Scannable, then transfer it to the Google Drive app, (which will upload it to Google Drive automatically.)
 
Business cards, contracts, documents, letters, receipts -- it's all Scannable with Evernote. | http://bit.ly/1BLV0QC
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Great article!   Another issue I have seen (and is hard for any one teacher to address) is situation where my daughter gets the "perfect storm" combination of homework assignments resulting in a huge amount of work on a single night.
 
Every teacher in the modern world should read this piece, and do what the author did.
'Teachers work hard, but I now think that conscientious students work harder. '
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I love the way my boys' school puts kids in teams of teachers that work together and coordinate big projects and tests so the kids don't get slaughtered like that.
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