Summer Gadgets Worth Considering

I love clever gadgets with functionality

I got rid of my barbecue grill last fall, because I was tired of seeing the monster stand on my deck, slowly rusting into an eyesore this close to the ocean. I also remember vividly that during the previous winter a snake had taken up household under the cover, an experience I did not want to repeat this spring. But honestly I have missed the taste of grilled meat and fish since I threw the grill over the railing and pulled it to the streetside for garbage pick up. As it is, the kids are out of the house and we don’t throw that many big parties anymore to warrant a monster grill. And look here comes Coleman to the Baby Boomer Rescue with a cute and handy portable grill for home, on the boat, the beach and even taken to friends for an impromptu BBQ party.

The Coleman Fold N Go Charcoal Grill is a portable party waiting to happen. Featuring a folding design and an integrated carrying handle, the ready-to-go grill transports easily to the beach, park, or tailgate party. Once you’ve arrived, the grill unfolds to offer 150 square inches of cooking area on the porcelain-coated, stamped-steel grates.

Closed up and heatng in standing position

Designed for convenience as well as portability, the grill heats up quickly and provides some versatile features for its small size. Having placed charcoal briquettes under the grates, you fold the grill up again and light the charcoal (a few vents provide access). The idea is that the resulting chimney design will preheat the grill quickly and efficiently. When ready, you open the grill is again using its stay-cool handles. Then you adjust the grill grates to the desired height, leaving little to do but throw on the goods, and watch the crowd gather ’round. Clever and handy at $39.99

And while you’re at it, summertime grilling often takes us well into the dark and quite often the ingredients on the grill are turning into dark blotches against a background of flames. If you want to avoid charcoal burned meat or fish, consider getting an LED grill light.

Mountable onto a 5" thick surface

Really, what makes it different from a flashlight attached with duck tape is that the 13″ light actually can be mounted horizontally, vertically and even angled to surfaces of to 5 inches thick. The flexible goose neck will bring the light anywhere you need it, while the weatherproof housing makes me think that having this gadget is probably better than owning a flashlight.

Another great summer gadget is the Smart Planet Electric Lemonade Maker as it saves plenty of time in making this summer favorite a daily standard. The power switch on the pitcher not only activates the juicer, but also stirs. The transparent 2-quart pitcher is marked with a guideline for adding water to freshly squeezed lemons and features a pulp selector to make the lemonade just the way you like it. And at the end of the day, when it’s time to wrap up the festivities, the juicer parts disassemble for quick and simple cleanup – ready to do it all again the next day.

The clever Lemonade Maker

Tennessee Makes Sharing Passwords Illegal

Legislating what cannot be Curtailed

Legislating what cannot be Curtailed with yesterday's Methods

California is working hard to get an Internet Tax into Law to battle the State’s enormous debt and Tennessee’s legislature just passed a Web entertainment theft bill. Besides the futility of trying to stop technological advancement that has not even shown its true potential yet, it is also abundantly clear that industry lobbying on a state level is becoming increasingly powerful.
State lawmakers in country music’s capital Nashville have passed a groundbreaking measure that makes it a crime to use a friend’s login — even with permission — to listen to songs or watch movies from services such as Netflix or Rhapsody, at least that’s what the lawmakers tell the media, who in turn tell us.

The bill, which has been signed by the governor, was pushed by recording industry officials however in their vain effort to try and stop the loss of billions of dollars to illegal music sharing. Nothing really to do with Netflix for example. They hope other states will follow and make it a nationwide thing.

And yes here we go again, another effort from an industry that depends on widespread sharing to sell their products, yet lack the creativity to develop a new business model to do just that, without asking authorities to protect them from the big bad wolf, the consumer.
The Tennessee legislation is aimed at hackers and thieves who sell passwords in bulk, but its sponsors acknowledge it could be employed against people who use a friend’s or relative’s subscription.
Those who share their subscriptions with a spouse or other family members under the same roof almost certainly have nothing to fear, according to lawmakers involved in pushing the bill. At least for now. Blatant offenders — say, college students who give their logins to everyone on their dormitory floor — could get in trouble however.

A Law with False Pretenses

The fact that this Tennessee Law hides behind false claims doesn’t seem to bother anyone at this point. Mentioning Netflix and Rhapsody as companies to protect is an abberation, as both these companies have many safeguards in place to prevent excessive sharing (starting with the fact that you can “only” have six active devices on your account, followed by the fact that your recommendations get less effective the more you share your account with someone with disparate tastes — as anyone who shares their account with a spouse will tell you).

This Law was pushed by the Recording Industry types, not Netflix or Rhapsody. They had nothing to do with it other then being used as the most pervasive example of violation of this law because they’re just easy examples. It’s all about who pays for enforcement and prosecution.
In legal terms this law should frighten us all as it moves us closer to a future described in the 1997 piece by Richard Stallman titled “The Right to Read .

To put it simple: Sharing a password has not been considered an Act of Infringement until now, it just enables the potential of an infringement to happen. This Law makes sharing a Password to in this case an Entertainment Subscription Service a CRIME, rather than an act giving rise to a civil (contractual or tortious) liability

youTube under Fire

In the meantime Washington is pulling the rug from under ‘youTube’s mission statement, while proposing a Bill that makes streaming (embedding) copyright infringing videos or audio a felony. This is your future: If you embed a YouTube video that turns out to be infringing, and more than 10 people view it because of your link… you could be facing five years in jail. Not only is this ridiculous and frightening, it suggests once again we are surrounded by politicians who are regulating a technology they simply do not understand.

Taxpayer pays for enforcement

A major reason the industry lobbies want to criminalize this stuff is to shift the burden of enforcement to the tax payer. If it’s a civil disagreement it falls upon the industry to spot where their rights are being infringed and do something about it, send a take down notice, file a suit, etc. Obviously they rather have us taxpayers pay for the pleasure of being prosecuted.

And to take the potential of this type of legislation really into the ridicule (for now) here is a (for now) hypothetical example to keep in mind: “The Houseowners Association of America announced today their support for a bill that would make it punishable to share your rented home with non-family members. “This will put a stop to the losses incurred to property owners by people crowding their homes with strangers”, a spokesman for the HAA said. It is widely believed the bill will also boost the property market, thus allowing the mortgage financial markets to recover.
You laugh? Many cities have laws like that (Boulder, CO has a limit of four unrelated people under one roof), mind you they claim to be intended to prevent people from running brothels… but still …the law allows for enforcement of many other scenarios.

If they can criminalize it, state enforcement agencies are going to be needed to detect the crimes, and state legal agencies will be burdened with prosecuting them. Considering the current state of financial affairs of most States in the Union, enforcement may be an issue for now, but we all should be aware that once a law is on the books here in the US, it’ll be there 50 or 100 years from now, when enforcement may turn this country into one big prison colony.

End of the Line for the Cash Register

Retail Cash Registers Soon Extinct

Pink Floyd’s song “Money” starts with a fascinating Bass Riff and the “Ka-ching” of a cash register. This sound may well be a thing of the past soon, like a Sound that Signified the 20th century, as for example the steam locomotive and the deep rumble of a Sherman Tank. This week has seen a number of historical moves towards a future of digital payment systems. During my lecture last week at Amelia Perfect Tan, I started out by pointing at today’s technology, tomorrow’s technology, next week’s technology and next year’s technology. I was way too conservative on the issue of mobile power as it turns out. We know that the big financial institutions are already for years in the process of developing digital systems that will replace the cash register with smart phones.

Yet, it was a small start up company called Square, founded by Twitter co-owner Jack Dorsey, that this week introduced a Mobile App and Smartphone that will one day soon replace cash registers, wallets and loyalty cards.

On Monday, Square, which calls itself a mobile payments service, released a Register app for merchants to use on an iPad at the point of purchase. With this software, merchants can complete transactions with absolutely no plastic involved, as long as the customer has Square’s mobile app. For customers, Square has built a wallet into its app called Card Case — again, no need for credit card or cash. Square stores payment details in the app, and by sharing your name when checking out, the transaction is processed and you get a text-message confirmation. The app also stores menus, directories for participating stores and tracks receipts. (Square has made a video https://squareup.com/cardcase) to show off what it looks like in action.)

And as it turns out, this move woke some of the big boys out of their day dreams and as a result on Wednesday Bank of America Corp., Wells Fargo & Co. and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.launched a service that lets people use their checking accounts to send each other money with an email address or cellphone number, thereby taking aim at the popular PayPal service.
Another key player in staking their claim on billions of dollars is Google, as the tech giant is expected to announce a mobile payment platform that will let consumers wave their Android-based phones at the checkout counter to make payments, redeem coupons and earn loyalty points, in one sweep so to speak.

The trillion dollar competition on payment system solutions is now officially heating up, ringing in the last years for cash and registers.

Leading monetary transactions to the future

Interesting side note here is that a Start-Up company, backed by some of the great innovators of the Internet, won the race to the market. Granted, over time, it remains to be seen if Square will be able to compete with the big guys, given their long-standing retailer relationships. After all, mobile payments require cooperation from the stores and their legacy systems that accept those payments, while another disadvantage is that there are still a lot of consumers that like to have a couple of days credit between the swipe and the actual money transaction, which is something only the BIG BOYS can afford. With so many big guns in mobile payments, the crown may go to whichever system can get into more stores in more markets and give a couple of days _up to a month- of credit.

At this stage however, Square is not worried about landing the big retailers, but focuses mostly on “giving big business advantages to local merchants,” correctly addressing a major problem for local retailers whose business is hampered by cost and inefficiencies that are part of the current big business payment solutions.
Focussing on this market segment might actually be their long term saving grace as many big retailers in the end may follow Starbuck’s initiative with last January’s introduction of a Starbucks’ Payment App, leaving some of the key-financial players stranded in time. And this might just be the reason that Apple did not include this technology in iPhone 5, as the company bets largely on the expansion of Apps.

Be in Control of your Facebook Presence

Control your Facebook presence

The choice of whether Facebook enriches or impoverishes your life is yours to make – and it’s all about being clear on your goals and pursuing them… and only them. Do you want to cultivate dozens of “friends” to put your business front and center? Do you want to enliven your social life, with or without going out? Perhaps you would like to be an active presence with your children and their families by regularly exchanging information and photos? As a business you may want to be on top of damage control if needed and be closer to your customers. This week we’re spending a lot of time and effort on Internet Marketing, Search Engine Optimization and Social Media strategies here at SearchAmelia. Here is the first episode about your Facebook presence and what is needed to avoid overexposure.

HAVE A PLAN

Whatever your preference or objective, it is advisable to decide specifically what rules you want to set for yourself, including who you really want as Facebook friends and the amount of time you’ll allow yourself to spend on the site each day. And then write these rules down — literally — and thumbtack them up where you can see them. Periodically review your rules to see if they are working for you. The idea is to be sure that you are in charge of Facebook rather than it being in charge of you. It is a wonderful tool as is the Internet, but using the tool wisely is entirely up to you.

Facebook, which started as a playground for Ivy League college kids, has now taken the lead position on the World wide Web, with more hits than Google, but more importantly it has captivated the grown up market. The social network has literally changed and overwhelmingly improved our ability to connect with others wherever they might be, and as a consequence people over age 50 are now the fastest-growing category of users, representing 42% of users according to recent research. And it’s easy to see why. We all have multiple stories on how we have reconnected with people who once were important in our lives, but by the movements of life ended up somewhere else on the globe.

TECHNOLOGY IS CHANGING FASTER THAN WE CAN FATHOM

Smart Phones and Loin Cloths

This morning I was reading an essay that was titled: “Cows are the new Currency”, a story about a young Maasai man in tribal Tanzania, who was texting his girlfriend all dressed up in tribal garments, worrying about how to obtain 20 cows for her father in return for her hand in marriage. He was observed on a dusty African street, a crazy mix of ancient culture and modern influences, dressed in traditional cloth wrap and wearing homemade bull hide sandals soled with strips of rubber from old tires; yet he carried a cellphone which he was using to text his lady friend, a local model. And that describes the times that we live in perfectly. None of this was mainstream just 15 years ago and many have not found a balanced approach to the new era yet, especially not the phenomenon that is Facebook.

NOT YOUR THING?

Now, if you haven’t used Facebook or used it only briefly, you may feel about as inclined to explore it as you are to hang out at a food court over French fries and soda — as teenagers do — and I agree that devoting time to using Facebook is not without its problems, as we shall see below in our conversation with Lauren Zander, life coach and Daily Health News contributor.

On the positive side, Facebook can be especially valuable for older folks to help them stay connected with others — which has been shown to be a critical factor in longevity. One of my wife’s cousins who has become virtually housebound because of physical problems is having a great time exchanging jokes and tidbits with numerous friends and family. Even though she is physically isolated and in poor health, I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that thanks to his “Facebook life,” she is a reasonably happy woman. Facebook also can be terrific for people who aren’t comfortable in social situations, offering the opportunity to share a more sparkling online self with friends new and old.

FACEBOOK DANGER ZONES

But – and yes there is a “but” to this story… there also are some problems with all this. Some of the more common ones should be understood.

It’s a performance.
Not only does Facebook allow socially awkward people to transcend their shyness, but it also allows people to carefully edit their lives so that what they end up presenting to the world isn’t exactly the truth. I know some that have made a serious mess of their lives, but to read their Facebook pages, you would think they are the masters of the universe, having licked all of life’s problems. Many people make a practice of posting lots of pictures of themselves dressed to the nines… attending glorious parties and relaxing on lavish vacations… engaging in witty repartee with their long list of “friends.” This can be deeply depressing to people who end up believing that others’ lives are so much better than their own. Acknowledging that it is only natural to want to share life’s high moments, we have to remember that the happy faces on Facebook show just one side of life, and everyone has the other, more difficult side as well.

It’s a time sucker.
Hours spent socializing on Facebook can overtake the other parts of your life. These carefully crafted and highly filtered online interactions can be easier and more immediately gratifying than dealing with the daily challenges of life with your spouse, kids, parents, siblings and neighbors. In the end, the online social world does not provide the same quality of interaction and cannot replace face to face interaction. It’s rather ironic for people to spend hours connecting with people across the country and the globe while ignoring those who are up the hall. Couples facebooking each other from the same living room is a sure recipe for disaster

It’s an invitation to mischief.
It’s not uncommon for people who are bored with their lives and, yes, their marriages to connect with past loves “just out of curiosity” and, if flirtations ensue, trouble (of the real-life kind) can come soon after. For example a 2010 study from the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers says that an astonishing 20% of divorce cases in this country now cite evidence from social-networking sites — with Facebook leading the pack.

HOW TO BE IN CONTROL

The choice of whether Facebook enriches or impoverishes your life is yours to make — it’s all about being clear on your goals and pursuing them… and only them. Do you want to cultivate dozens of “friends” to put your business front and center? Do you want to enliven your social life without having the spare time to actually go out? Perhaps you would like to be an active presence with your children and their families by regularly exchanging information and photos?

Whatever your preference, it is wise to decide specifically what rules you want to set for yourself, including who you really want as Facebook friends and the amount of time you’ll allow yourself to spend on the site each day. And when you have these rules formulated, then actually write them down and thumbtack them up where you can see them. Periodically review your rules to see if they are working for you. The idea is to be sure that you are in charge of Facebook rather than it being in charge of you.

License, registration and cell phone, Please

Cell Phones downloads into your privacy

First of, I had a nice Easter story all lined up for you this morning, until FPU around 7:30 am decided to present my neighborhood with a power jolt that even fried my surge protector. Needless to say that the story got lost and now you have to deal with one of my concerned observations. Shared misery so to speak.

Last week someone finally had the “guts” to ask me why I had decided to give up on my cellphone ownership. For your information I did so several months ago, not only because I wanted to at least try and get some sanity back in my life, such as the right to not accept phone calls before 7am or after 8pm or when I’m driving a vehicle, I am also very wary about my rights to privacy, which is why I’m not overly active on social media sites, beyond professional interaction.

Let me state first and foremost that I do not suffer from paranoia when it comes to Big Brother; at the same time however I am convinced that humans are naturally curious about others, often to the point of sick details, no one should be exposed or privy to.
I came to that conclusion when I owned a publishing company in New York in the mid 80s that had several tabloids in its portfolio and for a short time operated between the likes of the National Enquirer and Harlequin Books. My time in that field was short, not because it was unusually profitable, but because it exposed me to the dangers of giving up my 4th amendment rights. Shortly afterwards I cut up all my credit cards as well, not because I had become obsessed with privacy (if so I would be a recluse and certainly not write several blog posts daily, that expose me in one way or the other), but because I had received the opportunity to look behind the curtains of involuntary data harvesting.

Technology was still in an early stage of computers being linked and connected, but I saw the writing on the wall and that writing is coming in loud and clear as we “progress” into the future. Just check out the following update on technology and your 4th amendment rights.

Officer: “Do you know why I pulled you over?”
Driver: “I think I was going a little fast coming down that hill. I was just slowing down. Sorry, but…”
Officer: “License, registration and cell phone, please.”

Next time you are pulled over, don’t be surprised if a police officer asks for your cell phone. That’s apparently what’s started in Michigan, where police are employing a new piece of technology in their war against lead-footed menaces and potentially cellphone use causing accidents. Both of these reasons are reasonably acceptable, even in my opinion. But that of course is only the beginning.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan urged the Michigan State Police last week to release information regarding the use of portable devices which are used to secretly extract personal information from cell phones during routine stops.

According to a complaint aired by the ACLU, Michigan State Police have launched a pilot program, having traffic cops search mobile phone data from speeders using this fancy gadget:

Sold by a company called Cellebrite , the “UFED” can download pretty much anything and everything from most models of phones: texts, photos, videos, even GPS data. The devices are equipped with adapters for connecting to most major brands of phones, and can even uncover information like the physical keypad lock code and internal diagnostics that track past SIM cards in use.
The device takes a dump of any phone memory it can access (on some phones, that’s a complete dump of everything) and stores it for offline analysis using the company’s desktop software back at the police station. There, police can read your call history, play your videos, or even recover previously deleted files in some cases.

There are potentially some credible uses for such a device, say, in analyzing the cell phone of a suspected drug dealer after his lawful arrest. But in Michigan the police have allegedly been using the device to download information from the cell phones of drivers pulled over for speeding, even when not suspected of any other crime.

Wonder what excuse this cop has for texting while driving??

The ACLU contends (and your author for one agrees completely, which I do not always do with ACLU “demands”) that downloading the contents of a person’s cell phone without probable cause or a search warrant is a clear violation of 4th Amendment rights. The organization has requested access to the logs from devices in use by the MSP, so they can determine what if anything has been downloaded, and what rights may have been trampled on, through the Freedom of Information Act.

And Michigan police are happy to comply. For a (small) administrative fee, of just $544,680 or $108,936 for each of the five devices currently involved in the complaint.
The ACLU, understandably perturbed “that Michigan State Police would rather play this stalling game than respect the public’s right to know,” have tried to narrow their requests to reduce the costs of fulfilling it, only to be given the runaround on when and where the devices have been used.

After 3 years of haggling back and forth behind the scenes, the ACLU is now bringing its case to the court of public opinion in an attempt to clear these roadblocks and continue its investigation.
I can only hope that they have some success curbing any abuses that might be occurring before these devices start winding up in the patrol cars of police around the nation.

Because there is one thing I fear the most in today’s world and that is losing the sanctity of the individual to the common good. It’s not that I don’t agree with common good prevailing in certain scenarios of life, I just don’t want to forget that common good is a term for a large group of individuals who all have their unalienable right to Life Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Google Maps Street View on Amelia Island

Google Maps Street View on Amelia IslandI received a phone call this afternoon from my husband saying that he had just seen the Google Maps Street View car on Amelia Island and that I should try to catch up with the car to take a picture and get a quick story for SearchAmelia. Well, of course I was right in the middle of working on a proposal for a potential client’s website, so I couldn’t drop what I was doing and rush out the door.

The thought of the car remained on my mind for the next hour or so, and I half regretted not rushing to its last known location. When I finished my proposal I stood up for a much needed break from my bank of computers that resemble NASA’s Houston facility and noticed an odd car slowly passing my house. I rushed out the door and low and behold there was the Google Maps Street View car, right in my own neighborhood, right in front of my house! I bolted to the end of my driveway just as he looped the neighboring cul-de-sac and frantically waved my arms, successfully flagging him to a hault.

I introduced myself to Gary and asked if I could take a picture of his car (afterall, he was taking pictures of my house) and he was kind enough to oblige and give me some insight into how Google Maps Street View works so I could share it with you here on SearchAmelia.

In May of 2007, Google launched their Street View Maps project to let their users see the world through images. In the beginning they were limited to just a handful of cities with photos being taken from a mini-van.

They’ve come along way in just four years. Now they use different vehicles in different areas of the world collecting tens of millions of pictures. They even tow cameras behind tricycles to get to areas that are inaccessible by an automobile such as hiking trails and college campuses.

Located on the top of Gary’s car is a specially designed apparatus with GPS technology and nine directional cameras. Once the images are produced they are put together to create the panoramic views you will find on Google Maps Street View.

Right now the project is limited to public streets and they get permission first if they want to include private attractions on their maps. They also have a tool that makes it easy to remove people, family, cars and houses if such a request is made. They also blur the faces of people and legible license plates to help protect your privacy.

The car was something to see and Gary was quite helpful explaining Google Maps Street View to me… I just wish I had closed the garage door and put my son’s scooter that he has for sale in the driveway before he drove past my house!

For more information or to see Google’s map with Street View in action, visit their website.

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A Simple Definition of RSS Feed

A Simple Definition of RSS FeedWhat is an RSS Feed? RSS, or Real Simple Syndication, (simply defined) is a way for websites to distribute their content. With Feeds you can authorize a website to send you their updates on a regular basis, directly to your email’s inbox, your favorite news reader and even your cell phone.

This is a great way for you to keep track of your favorite websites without having to go to them, if you subscribe for their feed, their newest content comes to you!

With SearchAmelia we often put the following information at the bottom of our articles:

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From Cockpit to Flight Deck

From Cockpit to Flight Deck?

A couple of weeks ago we had a very interesting meeting with the European American Business gang at the newly opened Beach Club on Fletcher. The topic of the evening was aviation and the speakers were Richard Johnson, our own airport manager at FHB ( yes Fernandina Beach has now its own three international call letters) and Nick Feakes, retired British Airways captain, flight school educator and test pilot, now residing in Fernandina Beach.

Richard Johnson proudly introduced us to his Delta Airlines career, when he was in charge of scheduling. For most people a boring, almost statistical nightmare, but for Richard flight scheduling, especially after the deregulation of the airline industry in the late 1970s, the epitome of the product airlines offer its customers. On Fernandina’s airport we learned that the past Concours d’Elegance  weekend is the busiest one of the year – not really surprising I would think – although I thought Christmas would be a strong one too, but I may be confused there with the islands in the Caribbean where private jets have to make reservations 6 months in advance. The last Christmas I spent in St.Maarten there were 317 private jets parked over the Holidays at Juliana Airport. Yet as an airport, FHB has a much better layout with 3 runways of 5,000ft length, then the one 7,000 footer on St.Maarten.
So even though St.Maarten, with a big mountain at the end of the runway, can handle Airbus 340 and Boeing 747, FHB, according to Richard can only go up to the Gulfstream V level. Good thing I would say, considering the noise pollution that comes with these other giants.

The next speaker, Nick Feakes, is a pure British gentleman. With tongue in cheek humor, he explained his dealings with the French in the early days of the twice faster than the speed of sound Concorde several decades ago. The French members of the EABC showed a good sense of sportsmanship while Nick recalled several “incidents” while developing the Concord. Most impressive for me however was his involvement as chief test pilot/project manager in the development of the Boeing 777, an airplane that essential is flown by computers. Even though the John Wayne types among the pilot population call pilots in a 777, Computer Jockeys, nostalgia in my opinion has no place in airline safety and overcrowded airspace. Kicking airplane tires prior to take off may be reassuring to some people, I prefer the future where human interference in normal flight activity is kept to a minimum.
From the flyer I received from Nick I learned for example that the 777 Flight Deck looks like it is something any person with a good knowledge of computers can learn in the course of an 8 hour transatlantic flight, with the right guidance of course.

Instruction Leaflet on the Boeing 777 Flight Deck

You see one of the very few issues I have with long haul flights is the possibility that both cockpit attendants (we used to call them pilots, I guess) get deadly ill, or maybe not deadly but at least incapacitated to fly an airplane. Looking at the flight deck of a 777,  I’m fairly confident that I could figure out the essence of getting back on the ground safely and have computers perform the necessary precision tasks. Maybe one day soon this can be done remotely as well for passenger jets. It may already be possible but for some superstitious reason not acceptable to the human race. Who knows. What I do know however is that it is time to officially replace the term Cockpit for Flight deck Flight. I always considered cockpit a rather dubious term, knowing that it refers to an enclosure for fighting that originated with actual cock fighting several hundreds of years ago. Pilots in World War I apparently compared their tight quarters to a cockpit during aerial fights, but when they got into civil aviation after the war was over, a cock pit became synonymous with the crew quarters of passenger jets as well.  Looking at the picture impression of the 777 Flight deck, I must say it resembles a soft light video game arcade more than anything else and the word cockpit would definitely leave space for different connotations than the control deck of a large airliner.
We have some very interesting people in our European American Business Club, which is why I try to be there at every monthly meeting.

The Boeing 777 Flight Deck Video Arcade

As Nuclear Power Becomes the Enemy Again


Japans Nuclear Dilemma becomes Global

As we are quickly starting to realize the global effects and fall out of the natural disaster quake and tsunami that hit Japan late last week, it seems inevitable that the discussion on nuclear energy moves to the global forefront once again. While nuclear power was just gaining enough forward motion as a green power supply, to be shedding the meltdown images conjured up by Three Mile Island, Chernobyl or the 1979 movie “The China Syndrome”.

Germany suspended an agreement to extend the life of its nuclear power stations, Switzerland put some nuclear power plant approvals on hold, Taiwan announced plans to study reductions in nuclear power output, and Senator Joe Lieberman (yes him again) said the U.S. should put the brakes on new nuclear power plants until the Japanese situation plays out. Other nations however voiced continued support for nuclear power, including France, China, and India, all nations wherein nuclear power is important and new reactors are being built.
What does this all mean for uranium and nuclear power? To be blunt, there are two sides to this story: the objective, supply-and-demand side and the emotional, fear-of-nuclear-radiation side. Both are absolutely legitimate, because fear is a major factor in the uranium arena.

That fear is certainly being stoked by ignorant news stories describing the situation as “the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl” and maps showing how winds could potentially carry radiation across the Pacific to North America. Media like to take the spotlight away from the real disaster and put the potential scenario at home, so we can all get uncomfortably fear stricken.  
So let’s talk about what is actually happening within Japan’s damaged reactors.

This is what’s actually happening

There are serious cooling problems and the likelihood of partial core meltdowns at three reactors within the Fukushima Daiichi plant, which is 270 km (163 miles) north of Tokyo. On Saturday, a buildup of hydrogen gas caused a major explosion at the No. 1 reactor; the walls and roof of the building blew off, but the containment vessel around the reactor itself remained intact.
On Monday morning, the same thing happened at the No. 3 reactor. Yesterday morning, the building at housing reactor No. 2 exploded violently; this time the explosion seems to have inflicted some damage to the reactor’s suppression pool, which is a donut-shaped reservoir at the base of the containment vessel. Radiation levels spiked, then settled back to the low levels that have been the norm since the disaster started. And last night (Japan Time Zone), a fire in the spent fuel pools near reactor No. 4 added to problems, but it was extinguished within a few hours.

Now efforts are focused on keeping the reactors cores submerged in water, to keep them cool. The main challenges are that coolant and pumping systems have been damaged, personnel are short, and power supplies are inconsistent, especially since the three explosions damaged the plants’ power systems. Cooling efforts have yielded rewards at reactors 1 and 3, where temperatures are now dropping. Reactor No. 2 is still very unstable, and temperatures are starting to rise in No. 4.
Despite everything, Japanese officials continued to express confidence that containment vessels will hold, keeping the high-level radiation that results from partial core meltdowns locked away. Operators have been venting steam that contains only low-level radiation. The reported levels have remained well below the maximum exposure limits set by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The take-home message: if the 8-inch-thick steel walls of the containment vessels remain primarily intact, things should be fine, and that is what we expect based on the events to date. The vessels are designed to stay intact even if the cores explode. However, if we are unlucky and one or more of the vessels burst (beyond the small breach inflicted by the explosion at No. 2), highly radioactive gases would spread for hundreds of kilometers, with the worst contamination hitting in a 50-mile radius.

Worst case scenario.

But then there is the press reviving Chernobyl, while no one in their right mind should be mentioning Chernobyl because even the worst-case scenario at Fukushima would be nothing compared to Chernobyl. In the Ukrainian disaster in 1986, a nuclear reactor exploded while still in full operation, and its sub-standard containment unit was destroyed in the explosion, which meant radioactive gases and molten plutonium and uranium spilled into the surrounding countryside. Some 4,000 people would eventually die. If you are interested in Texas Tech Biologist Robert Baker’s assessment of the Chernobyl Hot Zone, 25 years later, listen to his interview on NPR which will be available this morning at 9am. Baker who co-directs the Chernobyl Project, that has been studying mammals in Chernobyl for two decades, tells Linda Wertheimer, that his group has found next to no signs of radiation poisoning or cancer in subsequent animal generations there.

Back to Japan.

In Japan, the reactors are shut down and the containment vessels have already held for four days. Experts say that longevity bodes well. Provided the vessels do hold, the situation will be much more like the Three Mile Island incident. That is also a difficult comparison, however, because many people misunderstand that situation. At Three Mile Island, a stuck-open valve led to major coolant losses, which led to a partial meltdown in one reactor. High-level radiation was confined to the containment vessel, and little radioactive material actually escaped. (The real problem at Three Mile Island was lack of training and protocol to deal with the situation.)

The Future of Nuclear Power

Chernobyl instilled fear of nuclear reactors into the general population, and rightfully so. Three Mile Island was scary, and today’s precarious situation in Japan is also scary. But nuclear power is a mainstay of many countries’ green power plans and, provided this disaster does not escalate, that will remain the case.
For one thing, there are 65 nuclear power plants currently under construction, and the builders cannot back out of the long-term contracts they signed to supply those plants with uranium. If Japan’s nuclear troubles worsen significantly, however, fear may take over from economics. Governments wanting to reassure scared citizens will suspend nuclear power plans (as some have already) and institute heavy-handed permitting hurdles for new mines and reactors. In this scenario, uranium could drop back down into disfavor.
And then what….?


The future of Heating and Cooling Energy?

With oil skyrocketing in the Middle East crisis and uranium potentially falling out of favor due to Japan’s misfortune, alternative energies look brighter than ever. But wind and solar are too limited in implementation and output in the near term, as are all other green solutions combined. Geothermal power  is coming off the fringes and could provide some solutions, but considering our defiant attitude towards diminishing our energy consumption, until then we are in for a rough ride. And this is not even speaking of the impact and cost of rebuilding Japan’s economy (the third largest on the planet) is going to effect the global economy.

Trying to Sell a Small Business?

Applying the Bell Curve to the desire to sell

In a follow up to my essay a couple of days ago on the new “boom” that seems to be going around in America, in spite of last week’s sell out on Wall Street I may add, I have been talking with several people in the community that have been thinking of selling their companies just to find out that there are few to no takers. Like anyone with a forty year track record of entrepreneurship can tell you, the saddest lament of entrepreneurs and owners of private companies seeking to sell and exit their companies is that they want their businesses to be valued on their future potential, and not its CURRENT profitability.

Given that the typical, offered purchase multiples for smaller businesses – as in those with less than $5 million in earnings – can be as low as 1 or 2 times last year’s tax return profits, this feeling is understandable. For years they nourished the company like their baby, to find out that more often than not purchase offers these days are based on multiples of MONTHLY earnings – not exactly the “happily ever after” exit dreamed of when these businesses were founded!

Yes, getting a business valued and sold based on factors other than its earnings, while by no means impossible nor uncommon, is HARD. 

The lucky ones that do so – and there are still hundreds of businesses every month that sell for very high multiples of profitability, for multiples of revenue, and even companies that are in a pre-revenue stage that sell every day just on the value of their technology, their people, and their work processes – focus laser-like on six rules:

1. They Are ALL Technology Rich.

Companies rich in proprietary technology in all its forms – patents, processes, and people – are far more likely to be valued on factors other than profitability and correspondingly attain purchase prices beyond a few times current year’s earnings.
 As an example, the likelihood of a medical device company being sold or taken public is twenty times greater than that for a services – or a low-to-no proprietary technology company. 
Quite simply, Technology remains THE golden buzzword – it is exportable as the new Made in America symbol. Whatever your company does, ignoring technology is at your peril.

2. There is the Pot with Gold at the End of their Rainbows.

Businesses that sell for high multiples communicate exciting future, profitable growth.
 Their managers demonstrate deep understanding of the big 21st century “macros” – technology and globalization – and how these meta-changes will impact positively and negatively their industry, market, customers, and competition.
 Yet, these managers communicate the micros well too, especially how their business’ human capital is going to adapt and grow as change happens.

All this translates into well-developed strategies that if their businesses aren’t making it now, there is gold at the end of their rainbows.

3. These companies Are Great Places to Work.

Businesses that sell are usually characterized by that good stuff that we all seek in our professional environments. 
They are culturally cohesive. They usually enjoy low employee turnover, because of well defined career progression paths. And their compensation policies, align pay well with desired performance. 

Quite simply, they are great places to work and are reputationally strong within their industries. Just check out LinkedIn and you’ll get a deep understanding of how it works in this decade of the 21st Century

4.The Structure of their organization is Process, not People Dependent.

Businesses that are overly dependent on charismatic owners or a few dynamic salespeople or engineers rarely sell because the majority of their value may simply walk out the door tomorrow and never come back. 
This is the state of affairs at most startups and small businesses and why of course the vast majority of them are unsellable. 

Ergo: those entrepreneurs that harbor the desire to sell but not the ambition to build a meaningfully sized organization, should focus their exit planning almost exclusively on technology and intellectual property development or recruit their sales opportunity from within the organization.

5. All these organizations Have Good Advisors.

Businesses that do everything right but have messy financial statements because of poor accounting, messy corporate records because of poor or non-existent legal counsel, and messy “future stories” because of poor business and marketing plans and strategies lacking exit planning, simply do not sell. 

Sure, they may get offers, but invariably these deals fall apart in due diligence and at closing. And as anyone that has ever been through a substantial business sale process knows, almost nothing in business is as time and energy-draining as is getting close to a business sale and getting the door slammed shut before conclusion of the deal.

6. Oh yes and they get Lucky. Luck remains a fundamental and often dominant factor that separates the businesses that successfully sell from those that don’t. The best entrepreneurs and executives don’t get philosophical nor discouraged by this but rather they embrace it. 
They try new things. They follow hunches. They make connections. 
They start from the pre-supposition of “accepting all offers” and work backward from there. 
They and their companies can be best described as “happy warriors” – modern day action heroes ready for the fight. When they get knocked down, they smile, wipe their brow, and get right back in the game.

And you know what? Our happy warriors, living and thinking and working like this day after day, channel some mystical power and aura and draw great luck and more to themselves and their companies.

Yes, companies that sell are the good and lucky ones, because luck shines on those who are ready and prepared.

Fighting Wars over Water

Precious fresh WaterCorrect me if I’m wrong but I think it was Boutros Boutros Ghali, the Egyptian born Secretary General of the United Nations in the early 1990s, who once said that the wars of the 21st Century will be over water – not oil – He may have been off a couple of years, but in essence time will prove him right unless we can do 2 things quickly.

This story is about what we can do.

The pressures being put on the global supply of fresh water are mounting as nearly 1 billion people don’t have access to clean drinking water – and as the world’s population grows, the situation will only get worse. A growing population also means more mouths to feed, and the need for more water to grow increasing amounts of food.
It’s downright scary. But there are ways that technology can help. Currently, nearly 70% of global water use is for agriculture. So one solution is to ease the demand for water with the “more crop per drop” approach. In other words, to grow more food with less water.
This will come in the form of genetically modified seeds. As someone who recently stepped away from anything modified, I easily admit that I am standing on the other side of this issue… and I readily admit that this is a luxury stand, since I can afford food that is not an experiment in human survival. Driving by Burger King yesterday I see the sign that says $0.59 for a Burger and my wife quips: yes and $69 for the gym to work it off. My calculator mind immediately tells me that those $69 buy a total of 117 Burgers!!! Anyway Food and Water are directly interactive so if
experimental seeds are showing great promise, I guess a part of the world population gets access to food. And that is objective no. 1.  Last year under drought conditions, one company tested seeds with a water optimization trait. And they were able to increase yields by 25%.
It is thought that, with this technology, the world could reduce agricultural water use by 30% in the next few decades. That would have a tremendous impact on water demand.

Creating More Fresh Water

Yet my preferential focus point goes to another solution to the world’s water problems, and that is to “create” more fresh water. Salt water is abundant. Unfortunately, we can’t drink it. But through technology, we can convert salt water to fresh water.
The desalination process removes salt and other minerals from salt water and makes the water quite fit for human consumption.
Having lived in the Caribbean for almost 25 years I know the value of water and the price you pay and it is no surprise that desalination plants are usually found in those locations that have limited (or no) fresh water resources but access to an abundant amount of salt water. That is why they are common in the Middle East, the Caribbean and a growing force in Western Europe.
But the United Arab Emirates operates the world’s largest desalination plant. It provides 300 million cubic meters of water per year.
Israel gets 5%-6% of its daily water needs from a desalination plant.

We have them here in the US too. The largest is in Tampa, Florida. The city gets 25 million gallons of drinking water a day from its desalination plant.

However producing drinkable water through desalination uses a significant amount of energy. So it costs more to produce desalinated water than to pull fresh water out of a lake or stream. But there are pointers that this will change very soon.
For one thing, the cost of fresh water is going up. Last year, for example, Houston raised its water rates 30%. Expect more of the same not only in the US, but across the globe.
As the cost of fresh water increases, it will get closer to the cost of desalinated water while the cost of desalination is falling as technology keeps improving.

Let’s hope the technology will improve fast enough for Sapporo – Japans famous Beer – to not have to change its commercial, which by the way is awesome. (Thanks Rick Traum for sending me the link) Sapporo

Will New City Library meet Internet Library Needs?

The Wade Vuturo Building currently houses a.o. Prudential Chaplin Williams Real Estate and the offices of the TDC

While the wise people that run our city have made it one of their 5 top priorities to build a new library according to the local newsleader, the Open Library project on the internet just announced the launching of an eBook lending program. Patrons of this Internet Archive-led group of libraries may borrow up to five books at a time, for up to two weeks. Like print books, the eBooks may be on loan only to one patron at a time.

The Internet Archive already distributes over 1 million books free in a format called DAISY, designed for those of us who find it challenging to use regular printed media or think that cutting trees to make paper is ultimately self destructive.

There are two types of DAISYs on Open Library: open and protected. Open DAISYs can be read by anyone in the world on many different devices. Protected DAISYs can only be opened using a key issued by the Library of Congress NLS program. Especially physically challenged or handicapped people are eligible for braille and audio books through this system.

Open Library was a project that started out in San Francisco, near Silicon Valley a little less than 4 years ago, but has since crossed the country to Boston and Florida and many points in between.

Just like Wikipedia, anyone can contribute new information or corrections to the catalog, which can be browsed by subject, author or lists, created by members. One web page for every book ever published. It’s a lofty but achievable goal.
To date, the Internet Archive has gathered over 20 million records from a variety of large catalogs as well as single contributions, growing by leaps and bounds. When I was writing this editorial, I saw on their website that an elementary school in Greece was accessing the library in real time. It made me smile, as I keep saying that I have faith in our future, when technology can give us this kind of freedom.

As it obviously states: Open Library is an open project: the software is open, the data are open, the documentation is open, and they welcome your contribution. Whether you fix a typo, add a book, or write a widget – it’s all welcome. They have a small team of fantastic programmers who have accomplished a lot, but invite everyone to contribute as they can’t do it alone!
The Open Library is a project of the non-profit Internet Archive, and has been funded in part by a grant from the California State Library and the Kahle/Austin Foundation.

Less than 4 years ago the idea was born from the following thought:

What if there were a library that held every book? Not every book on sale, or every important book, or even every book in English, but simply every book—a key part of our planet’s cultural legacy.

First, the library must be on the Internet. No physical space could be as big or as universally accessible as a public web site. The site would be like Wikipedia—a public resource that anyone in any country could access and that others could rework into different formats.

• Second, it must be grandly comprehensive. Even when the full text of a book wasn’t available, it would take catalog entries from every library and publisher and random Internet user who is willing to donate them. It would link to places where each book could be bought, borrowed, or downloaded. It would collect reviews and references and discussions and every other piece of data about the book it could get its hands on.

• But most importantly, such a library must be fully open. Not simply “free to the people,” as the grand banner across the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh proclaims, but a product of the people: letting them create and curate its catalog, contribute to its content, participate in its governance, and have full, free access to its data. In an era where library data and Internet databases are being run by money-seeking companies behind closed doors, it’s more important than ever to be open.

Participating Libraries

Today even the University of Florida is actively contributing to the List. Says Judy Russell, Dean of University Libraries at the University of Florida, “We have hundreds of books that are too brittle to circulate. This digitize-and-lend system allows us to provide access to these older books without endangering the physical copy.”

This new digital lending system will enable patrons of participating libraries to read books in a web browser. “In Silicon Valley, iPads and other reading devices are hugely popular. Our partnership with the Internet Archive and OpenLibrary.org is crucial to achieving our mission – to meet the reading needs of our library visitors and our community,” said Linda Crowe, Executive Director of the Peninsula Library System.

Digital lending also offers wider access to one-of-a-kind or rare books on specific topics such as family histories – popular with genealogists. This pooled collection will enable libraries like the Boston Public Library and the Allen County Public Library in Indiana to share their materials with genealogists around the state, the country and the world. “Genealogists are some of our most enthusiastic users, and the Boston Public Library holds some genealogy books that exist nowhere else,” said Amy E. Ryan, President of the Boston Public Library. “This lending system allows our users to search for names in these books for the first time, and allows us to efficiently lend some of these books to visitors at distant libraries.”

“Reciprocal sharing of genealogy resources is crucial to family history research. The Allen County Public Library owns the largest public genealogy collection in the country, and we want to make our resources available to as many people as possible. Our partnership in this initiative offers us a chance to reach a wider audience,” said Jeffrey Krull, director of the Allen County Public Library.

So even though I applaud the priority initiative of having a new library to enjoy in our historic community here in Fernandina Beach, I do hope that the physical building will meet the needs of the future. And the future is NOT having thousands of books neatly stacked on shelves. If 5 years is the projected time for realization of the 5 priorities listed, than it should be high on the city’s priority to learn how the world will look 5 years from now, especially when it comes to technological advancements that will reshape the way we use libraries in this case.

Looking for Life in the Universe – [VIDEO]

The magnificent organization of the Universe

Few people look up when they hear the words “Kepler Space Telescope”. Even though Johannes Kepler’s 400 year old mathematical description of the Motion of Planets around the Sun in the bigger spiritual picture of our lives, gives us reason for hope that there actually is an intelligent plan at work in our cosmos, not a lot of people are attracted by the complexity of proving this statement.

Consequently it has become the norm for many to just establish an uninformed opinion and stick with it. Galileo’s telescopic observations, he was Kepler’s contemporary, proved that the earth moves; and he was put in jail for that statement, which later became a lifelong house arrest. The thing he proved was that we, Planet Earth, were not the center of the Universe. The church didn’t like that idea as it contradicted Christian doctrine in Chronicles 16:30, Psalm 93:1, Psalm 96:10, Psalm 104:5 and Ecclesiastes 1:5. Contrary to Gallileo’s fate, Kepler found recognition of his findings during his lifetime, but was also living proof that an organized Faith based society is very dogmatic and has no interest in examining the facts.

Living in a more enlightened time these days, where science and technology have become undisputed contributors to better living conditions, potentially controversial discoveries have become issues of discussion, rather than persecution. So when the Space Telescope carrying the name of lesser known astronomer Kepler announced last week to have found 15 extrasolar planets and identified 1,235 other candidates, it renewed excitement and energy among scientists to find extra-terrestrial life.

NASA launched Kepler 23 months ago on March 6, 2009 with the task to discover planets outside of our solar system. Over a 4 year period, the telescope will monitor some 100,000 stars with similar features as our Sun, all focused on trying to find habitable Earth sized planets. 54 have been identified as having the right size (gravitational pull) and orbit a habitable zone with the potential of liquid water.

The Telescope has only “scoped”a very small part of its assignment, but already scientists are getting excited to maybe one day find a planet with earth-like conditions and ultimately find signs of extraterrestrial life.
This of course, even 400 years after Gallileo’s ordeal, will still run into prejudice, potentially cutting off the faucet of financing. Organized religion forces on one side of the fence may largely decree that the “Arrogance of Science” should not be financed any longer by hardworking law abiding Christians, largely ignoring the fact that learning what life and co-habitation is all about, is the major reason for our existence.

In discussions about Earth and Mankind being the unique occupant in the Universe, I have always claimed that statement to be the ultimate arrogance of our assumptions. Our search for life is not just about discovery, it is even more about humility and understanding. It is in essence accepting that we know that we have no clue. And that is strength, not weakness. Admitting that you don’t know, unleashes a search for answers. And even though we have learned that in much of life that means that findings and conclusions are almost never final, we still have a never ending need for the truth. For example we now know that Columbus did not discover America in 1492; at best he re-discovered it for some folks over in the Southern parts of Europe. The only thing we need to do now is update the history books. Which again will take some time, because of institutional fears to change dogmatic beliefs and behavior.

No one in their right mind can seriously claim the odds of finding life somewhere out there at this stage, but with the Carnegie Institution of Science estimating that there may be 100 billion habitable planets in the Milky Way alone and the Hubble Space Telescope having already uncovered over 100 billion other galaxies, the possibilities are boggling my mind, only furthering my belief that somehow a master plan of creation is required to keep it all operational.
To illustrate the enormous arrogance that comes with thinking that we are unique in a cosmos, the size of which we haven’t even began to grasp or measure, I put a little video together that shows the Earth’s insignificance in size – only measured against planets in our own Galaxy. Enjoy

Attract Local Business with Your Website

Attract Local Business with Your Website Do not think a website is just for creating online sales! A website can help you increase your local business, too. When creating your website, keep the following tips in mind to help increase traffic… right to your front door.

Educate your customers

    -Your potential customers want to know they are making the right decision, especially when it comes to large dollar purchases.
    -You, as the expert authority in your field, want to educate your customers so they can make the best informed decisions.

Let Your Customers Meet You

    -People like to do business with people they know. Let your customers get to know you by posting a bio and a picture of yourself.
    -What you write reflects on you. Spelling, punctuation and grammar matters. Use spell-check or hire a proofreader to make sure your content is grammatically correct and easy to read.

Be Competitive

    -Keep your prices and your services competitively priced. You don’t want to charge an enormous fee for delivery when your competitor offers free delivery.
    -Mention the townships and cities you do business in. This is particularly helpful if you are in the service or a delivery type business.
    -List or offer referrals to businesses outside of your territory and ask them to do the same for you.

Features and Benefits

    -Nothing sells better than the benefits your item’s features can provide. Be honest about those benefits.
    -Your customer wants to be assured that your product will fill their needs.
    -Don’t oversell your customer, you want them to be happy with their purchase.

Add-ons

    -Does your widget work exceptionally better when used with a round-to-it? Consider including it in the purchase price.
    -If batteries and other accessories are not included with the purchase, suggest them on the same page as the featured item.
    -Are there service contracts your customer should consider for your items?
    -Make add-on sales convenient for your customers.

Samples and Examples

    -Show pictures, drawings or videos of your product in use.
    -Offer a free sample if possible in exchange for an email address or a visit to your storefront.
    -Use before and after photos if applicable.
    -Does your product require additional assembly once the customer gets it home? Consider creating an assembly video to post on your website showing your customer just how easy it is to assemble.

Testimonials

    -If your customer sends you a thank you card or a testimonial about your product or service, display it on your website.
    -Potential customers want to know you have plenty of other satisfied customers!

Q and A or FAQ

    -Depending on your product or service, list the most frequently asked questions or present a Q and A session of common concerns your previous clients have expressed.
    -Provide helpful information by answering the questions customers are most likely to ask, ahead of time, on your website.

Promoting Your Website
Once you have your website working for you, don’t forget to promote it.

    -List the url on your business cards and any other promotional materials or products.
    -Keep up with Social Networking platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.
    -Market yourself and your website within your community. Attend social functions, plays, receptions, fund raisers and other public affairs.
    -Don’t discount traditional advertising. Add your web address to your newspaper ads, product brochures and television or radio advertisements.

With just a bit of planning you website can act as your silent salesman by presenting information about you, your company and your products and/or services to help encourage customers to pick up the phone and give you a call. Better yet, your silent salesman will have them walking in the door.

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HTTP Tip for the New Year

HTTP Tip for the New Year

HTTP Tip for the New Year

Do you know the difference between http and https? Without getting into details that you likely are not concerned about there is one thing you should know. The “S” stands for “secure.”

When you visit a website or web page, take a look at the address in the web browser, it will likely begin with: http://. This is the normal way of your computer communicating with the website. When you see https:// then they are communicating on a secured network.

In other words, it is possible for someone to “eavesdrop” on your computer’s conversation with the http website. If you fill out a form on the website, it is not necessarily secure and others might be able to see the information you send to that site.

With a https website, the communication is in a secured code and it is much safer for you to enter personal information, such as a credit card number, onto an https website.

Before you enter your credit card number in any website, look for the https first!

Https:// is frequently used for banking, information forms, corporate log-on pages and other applications where company or personal data needs to be secure.

However, like most things, https is not fool-proof and it is important for you to be cautious and responsible with your personal information while using the Internet.

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