Friends of the Library Presents Workshop on iPhone Apps

Friends of the Library continues to offer computer and mobile device workshops by Deryck Burnett, owner of Megabite Computer Services. Mr. Burnett will continue January’s smartphone topic with a workshop on installing and managing apps on the iPhone. The presentation will be held Saturday, February 17th from noon to 1:00p.m. in the Community Room of the Fernandina Beach Library.

Mr. Burnett will conduct a similar workshop on managing apps for Android smartphones in March. The date and time for this presentation will be announced as soon as it is scheduled.

Friends of the Library offers this presentation free of charge. Participation is limited, so register in advance by calling the library at 904-530-6500, Extension 1. If you find you are not able to attend, please call the library to cancel so someone on the waiting list can participate.

For further information regarding this event, on joining Friends of the Library, or to donate, visit the Friends of the Library website at

Ettiquette in the Digital, Laser and LED Age

I must admit, I’ve been considering writing this piece for quite some time, but after getting yet another business text after 10:00 p.m. on a Saturday night, I decided it was time to discuss some guidelines and etiquette relevant to the digital age.

Keep Business-to-Business Contacts During Business Hours
Most business hours are Monday thru Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., but with social media and digital communication, you can literally “do your job” anytime of the day or night. BUT – when you are communicating with co-workers, keep in mind that business should normally be conducted during business hours.

When my phone goes off at 3 O’clock in the morning, it scares the Hell out of me. I jump out of bed, trip over the dog and stub my toe on the dresser only to find out that a co-worker has finally figured out how to sort data on an electronic spreadsheet. “Yay!”

I also have clients that feel it is acceptable to call me on a Sunday morning at 11:00 a.m. – only to find out I forgot to silence my phone at church; neither are okay.

If it is 8:00 p.m. and you call my cell phone you can expect me to have just finished dinner, had a cocktail or two, and I am likely watching a movie, splashing around the swimming pool, or doing household chores. This is not the time to reach me for business.

Using Only a Facebook Event Page for Party Invitations
Not everyone is on facebook, so you may not reach all of your intended guests… enough said.

Texting Thank You Cards
Is it okay to send a text “Thank you” for a gift your received? Only if it is the last gift you want to receive from someone. If I take the time to buy you a gift, even if it was online and drop-shipped in a gift-wrapped box, then I expect you to take the time to either send me a thank you card, or pick up the phone and call me. But call me outside of Monday thru Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., this is a personal call, not business.

Before cell phones and the age of digital communications, laser printers, and LEDs, there was no grey area. You called your friends at home, not at work… and your collegues and co-workers dealt with you at work, rarely calling you at home.

Should You Accept Your Boss’s “Friend” Request?
No, and your boss should be demoted for making such a request.

Using Social Media for important life events
Can I share my friend’s wedding pictures on social media?
This is a tricky one. First – the bride should ALWAYS be the FIRST one to post wedding pictures on social media. IF she is using a professional photographer, you may have to wait days before you can post any pictures.

This is why it gets tricky: if one picture gets sent to a relative who couldn’t make the wedding, or a collegue who was out of town, they ALSO must be informed NOT to share the picture on social media. If just one picture is leaked… well, game over!

This is the same rule of ettiquette for births! NO pictures of the baby should be distributed until Mom says it is okay to do so. Period!

Death announcements should also be handled with a great deal of respect, and restraint, when it comes to social media.

Learn to use the BCC Feature on Mass Emails
When you send an email there are three sections for the intended addressee. One is “To”, one is “CC”, and the other (apparently hidden) is the “BCC”.

“To” is for your intended recipient, usually a single person.
“CC” is for a second, third or more recipient of a group, a “c”arbon “c”opy. Every recipient will see every email address of everyone addressed. This is fine for groups like a family email, or an inter-office message.
“BCC” is “B”lind “C”arbon “C”opy, use this when you don’t want to disclose the personal and private email addresses of everyone on your list. Everyone on the list will receive the identical email, but email addresses won’t be disclosed.

On this topic, it is not cool to add email addresses to a mailing list without permission. Their are anti-spam laws (CAN-SPAM Act) in the United States, governed by the Federal Trade Commission, that applies to all commercial messages, with penalties of up to $16,000, but that is another article entirely.

When to Turn-off or Silence Your Phone
On the airplane
In a funeral
At a wedding
In most hospital rooms
At the theatre
In Church (see above)

However, it may be acceptable to use an online version of the King James Bible while sitting in the pew, just make sure you are not texting friends, checking scores, or especially frowned upon at church: looking at porn.

Many concerts won’t let you use your phone while the main performer is on stage. I recently saw Comedian Amy Schumer and the security guards at Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville made sure phones remained off. Is it that the phones are disruptive to other concert goers, or is it about the money? On, regarding Kevin Hart’s show in April, also held at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena, the site said, “• NO PHOTO, NO AUDIO, NO VIDEO! • NO CELL PHONE USE DURING THE PERFORMANCE! This includes, but not limited to, texting, tweeting, talking, photos, and/or video. Patrons who violate these rules put forth by the show, will be escorted out of the venue. NO REFUNDS!”
(Okay, but its going to be very hard to keep them all away.)

GPS Tracking and Lying about your Location
You may not know this, but there is a feature on your phone that lets you track the location of your friends and family. Remember this BEFORE you lie about your location.

I’m sure there are many more topics on this LED Age of Ettiquette that I have left out, so I’ll reserve the possiblity of a Part II in the future. If there are any that I’ve left out, feel free to send me your pet peeves via email or facebook, or private message of course if appropriate.

FSCJ Launches FSCJ Safe Mobile Safety App

Jacksonville, FL – Florida State College at Jacksonville’s (FSCJ) students, faculty, staff and visitors now have access to the new FSCJ Safe mobile app, designed to keep them safe throughout the College’s campuses and centers.

The free app, available to download on Apple and Android devices, offers real-time safety functions and features in one convenient location to help ensure the safety of those on campus at all times. To help users plan ahead and prepare before incidents occur, the comprehensive app provides important information on how to respond to emergencies such as active shooter situations, evacuations, severe weather and more.

Through the FSCJ Safe app, users can report information and receive emergency notices. In addition, the app offers campus maps, helpful resources and options to call 911 or report a tip to Campus Security if a user witnesses suspicious activity.

FSCJ Safe’s features include the Mobile BlueLight function, which allows on-campus users to send their location to and chat with Campus Security dispatch. The feature works similarly to the fixed positioned BlueLight boxes located throughout FSCJ’s campuses.

Using the Friend Walk tool, users can send their location to a friend or Campus Security, who can then watch the user walk to their destination via GPS. FSCJ Safe also provides a list of Campus Security contacts as well as phone numbers for JSO and the Nassau County Sheriff’s Office.

“We continue to strengthen any and all efforts to provide our faculty, staff and students with a safe and secure environment, knowing we cannot predict the unthinkable though believing the more prepared we are, the greater the prevention,” said FSCJ President Dr. Cynthia Bioteau.

All users are encouraged to submit feedback on ways to improve the FSCJ Safe app through the “About/Preferences” tab. Users can easily locate and download the app in Google Play or the App store by searching “FSCJ Safe.”

Google Business Coming to Fernandina Beach

I’ve heard that Google photographers are coming to Fernandina Beach to add the inside of local businesses to “Street View”. This lets people walk through the inside of your business using Google Street View technology.

Right now it appears they will be on Amelia Island from May 18th until June 11, 2016.

The cost for the virtual tour depends on how many view-points it would take to shoot your business. Tours start at $399.00. The price includes the setup of Google + local page, hosting on Google + local, integration into Google Street View, integration into Google Maps, enhanced Google search results, and you get the professional photographs and QR codes linking to your tour. You can add the tour and professional photographs to your website and social media pages. They also offer a discount to non-profit organizations.

Visit their website Instant360 to view numerous businesses already participating in Google Business View.

Should you have any questions or would like to schedule the photo shoot please contact Jennifer DeLanzo at (888) 266-5360 ex:306 or

How Google and Apple Engage in Marketing

How Google and Apple Engage in MarketingIn the modern, technology-driven society, practically everyone is familiar with Apple and Google, two powerhouses in the computer and technology marketplace. However, despite their similar position in the field, both companies approach marketing to their clients with very different attitudes. Even though Google and Apple are also in direct competition in the smartphone and tablet market, the strategies are completely different.

The most notable example actually comes in terms of direct advertisement. Google is such a prolific brand that simply the act of searching for information online has become a generic term: “Googling”. But when it comes to their products and services, Google relies heavily on word of mouth and the power of their brand more so than typical ads. This doesn’t mean Google shies away from the traditional ad campaign, as they have featured billboard and subway ads for their Google recommendation and voice search features and television ads that demonstrate the versatility of their search engine as well as promote their internet browser, Chrome.

Beyond that, Google utilizes their brand in unique ways. By attaching their name to innovative technology ventures such as Google Glass and even asteroid mining, this gives Google publicity through news and media outlets without the standard advertising formula. Additionally, the company has extended itself into so many different ventures like translating website content. Google, having acquired the smartphone operating system Android and online video hub YouTube, for example, while launching their own ventures such as GMail, and online voice chat service Google Voice, just to name a few.

On the other side, instead of relying on fantastically innovative and unusual technology ventures or their sheer presence on the internet like Google, Apple has built a brand off of taking technology products and appealing directly to their customers’ wants and needs. Apple has built a reputation of selling their WHY and not their WHAT. For example, many companies will market their products by saying how great they are, how affordable, how stylish, etc. Apple markets start by appealing to why the technology is needed, why they as a company feel so strongly about their product, and only then do they tell you how great their product is.

This approach began in 1997 with the return of Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, back into the corporate fold. While internally the company would shift their approach, their advertising would begin to take shape, as well. Instead of television ads saying “look at how amazing this computer is”, Apple became famous for a series of ads featuring actor Jeff Goldblum whose delivery and presentation made it clear that Apple’s computers were fun to use, easy to use, and allowed for customers to relate directly to the product.

Since then, with the launch of the iPhone, iPad, and a host of other products, Apple has become the single most dominant brand in computer and consumer electronics. Apple has never been a stranger to unique advertising strategies. Notably, their controversial Super Bowl commercial from 1984 to launch the Macintosh, featuring a “Big Brother” video screen projecting propaganda to a room of emotionless, grey-suited people before a woman hurls a sledgehammer through the screen. The ad served as a statement going forward that Apple was not a traditional computer company and never would be.

Every commercial, whether on television or online or in print since then, has been very simple and relatively understated. Apple uses very little printed copy and allows the aesthetic imagery of their product to do most of the selling. When they talk, it’s always about the methodology and rarely ever about the product itself.

The most notable point between how Google and Apple market their products is that neither company does so in a traditional manner. Apple may advertise in similar ways, but with a very different sort of message, while Google often forgoes typical ads but lets their tech ventures speak even louder, but both companies still see tremendous success based off of the quality of their products.

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Megabite Set to Interview Remote Data Backup’s Daniel Dugal

Megabite Set to Interview Remote Data Backup's Daniel DugalLocal Entreprenuer Deryck Burnett, owner of Megabite in Fernandina Beach, has an interview scheduled with Daniel Dugal, the CEO and founder of Remote Data Backups, on Tuesday, September 2, 2014 at 4:00 PM.

The show can be found by using this link: and you can click now to set a “reminder”.

Remote Data Backups, Inc. has been a leader in business-class cloud backup since 1999. The company is a HP partner and provides data backup solutions to small to mid-sized businesses. Remote Data Backups offers a cost-effective, convenient and secure way to automatically back up your critical data using HP cloud technology.

Megabite is a computer repair company on Amelia Island. They service both PC and Macs, and Deryck has quickly earned a reputation for his expertise in managed IT servies and tech support for business owners. Your data, whether personal photos, business tax documents or original art, is the most important thing on your computer. Deryck understands the serious side effects associated with lost data and can help your small to medium business prepare a disaster recovery plan.

“There have been a number of bargain basement services entering the market with a barrage of advertising.” Deryck said. “We understand that some people simply make business decisions based on price alone, but when it comes to vital needs like secure data, cheaper is NOT better! That’s like buying the cheapest parachute, life insurance or eye surgery!”

When you lose your data, you can lose your business. Remote Data Backups protects data for banks, hospitals, financial institutions, government offices, commercial businesses, mobile salespeople, home users and anyone else with important data.

What sets Remote Data Backups (RDB) apart from cheaper backup solutions?

RDB is for Business, bargain-basement backups are for home users. “Bargain” backup services are targeted toward the average home user and never claim to be suitable or adequate for protecting valuable business data.

Remote Data Backups has had a stellar history of protecting data for business clients, including over 200 recognizable franchise brands, in dozens of countries globally over the last decade.

A History of Reliable Data Protection
Most cut-rate backup services popping up recently are owned by speculative venture capital funding companies ill-equipped to handle the volume of customers brought in by expensive national marketing campaigns. And while the introductory pricing structure may seem too low to resist, once the initial round of funding expires the providers are forced to make a price hike (for example, one major provider raised their rates by 5x this spring).

24/7 Support
When clients are in a panic and need to restore data, it is essential they can call an experienced, technically-knowlegeable support person to help them through it. With a non-business backup service, support is extremely limited. It can be a major challenge not only to speak with a live person by phone — in a reasonable time frame, who is helpful and technically competent — or even access useful documentation online. It’s like booking a convention center with bargain rates for cramming 10,000 business tycoons into a room made for 100 — you may save a few bucks, but the results are bound to be disastrous.

The support staff at Remote Data Backups is readily available by phone, toll-free 24/7, with little or no hold time. Each of their technicians has been with the company for at least 3 years and came to them with over a decade of prior hands-on IT experience.

Bandwidth and Performance
Bandwidth is one major commodity backup companies need to account for. When you give unlimited space for a few bucks a month, you are forced to govern bandwidth.

Remote Data Backups provides redundant bandwidth using multiple telecom providers via world-class connections. That way they can provide nearly limitless up-and-downstream for unparalleled transfer speed and performance.

Successful, Timely Data Restores
When clients need to restore a lost file, they don’t have time to wait. A backup service is only as valuable as the reliability and timeliness of a restore.

While to the novice observer backups may seem like simple, straightforward file transfers, the complexity of restoring incremental file changes can cause problems with less-tested software. RDB can say definitively they have never lost a client’s backup data.

World-Class Data Centers and Security
Another area where low-rate backup services cut corners is the equipment and infrastructure used to store and manage your data. Outdated technologies, overloaded servers, lack of security, monitoring and redundancy can be major signs of concern.

Remote Data Backups uses the world’s most secure data centers, located in ultra-secure private limestone mines located 100-200 feet below ground and separate by 1,100 miles. All data received by either hardened Data Center is immediately replicated to its mirror – connected by point-to-point, high-speed WAN links. Data received by either Data Center is immediately replicated to the other, so an unlikely outage or disaster at one location will not affect your data availability or service performance.

Each facility uses high-performance HP Servers with fail over and redundancy, continuous server monitoring and performance tuning, assuring that storage capacity is never exceeded. We maintain best practices networking and best-of-breed routers, switches, firewalls, servers, facilities infrastructure, power grids and telecommunications circuits are all deployed with backup components to maximize fail over and redundancy.

Other physical security features include:
-Redundant power supply using backup generators with full power for up to 7 days
-Redundant completely independent electrical systems, power train, commercial power feeds, cooling system, UPS systems, dedicated A/C units, generator systems and fuel system
-Environment and climate controlled facilities, resistant to seismic activity and other natural disasters, with Class A vaults with OSHA certified fire suppression and EPA certified water treatment plants and clean air fire extinguishing systems (CAFES)
-Level 4 (highest) security rating, 24/7 armed security, maintenance & service operation
-Finger scanners for physical access, motion detectors, CCTV monitoring & camera tracking
-Failed account access attempts are logged and reviewed to prevent unauthorized access
-Privacy and Security of your Data

With such low rates, a lot companies provide cheap data storage for alterior motives – data mining. That’s right, it says right in their User Agreement that they are free to use your own “private” data for their own marketing purposes. If that doesn’t bother you, be sure to check the regulatory compliance laws that affect your industry. If you use a data backup company that mines your data, you won’t pass an audit and can face serious fines and penalties for compromising the privacy and security of your clients’ private data.

With Remote Data Backups, you set your own private encryption key, which they never have access to. Your data is encrypted before leaving your computer, in transit and stored at their data centers, using bank-level 128-bit AES encryption, so without the key it cannot be accessed.

Bottom Line:
How valuable is your clients’ data, and your reputation? Can you risk your clients’ data, and your reputation, on an unproven, cut-rate backup service just to save a few bucks?

Dugal is excited to announce, “All HP StoreEasy storage devices sold will have Remote Data Backup’s LiveVault hands-free-trial displayed as an option during setup. Links on the StoreEasy desktop and start-up menu will also point to”

There are a variety of external hard drives and flash drives available to backup your data, but they all have disadvantages, which I shared in an article earlier this summer: Disadvatages of External Hard Drive and Flash Drive Backups.

Listening in on Daniel and Deryck’s conversation promises to be much more than an education in backing up your important data.

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Protect Yourself From Text Message Spam

Protect Yourself From Text Message SpamSpam text messages can be annoying, but did you know they are illegal? Some common scams use text message spam to lure you into revealing personal information in exchange for a “free gift” like a gift card or vacation package.

Text message spam is to your cell phone what email spam is to your personal computer. Both may try to get you to reveal personal information.

Text Message Spam is a Triple Threat
-It often uses the promise of free gifts, like computers or gift cards, or product offers, like cheap mortgages, credit cards, or debt relief services to get you to reveal personal information. If you want to claim your gift or pursue an offer, you may need to share personal information, like how much money you make, how much you owe, or your bank account information, credit card number, or Social Security number. Clicking on a link in the message can install malware that collects information from your phone. Once the spammer has your information, it is sold to marketers or, worse, identity thieves.
-It can lead to unwanted charges on your cell phone bill. Your wireless carrier may charge you simply for receiving a text message, regardless of whether you requested it.
-It can slow cell phone performance by taking up space on your phone’s memory.

Text Message Spam is Illegal
It’s illegal to send unsolicited commercial email messages to wireless devices, including cell phones and pagers, unless the sender gets your permission first. It’s also illegal to send unsolicited text messages from an auto-dialer — equipment that stores and dials phone numbers using a random or sequential number generator.

Can the Spam
-Register your number on the Do Not Call List.
-Report the text spam to your cell phone carrier by forwarding the message to 7726 (SPAM).
Report any unwanted commercial text messages to the FTC.
-Delete text messages that ask you to confirm or provide personal information: Legitimate companies don’t ask for information like your account numbers or passwords by email or text.
-Don’t reply, and don’t click on links provided in the message: Links can install malware on your computer and take you to spoof sites that look real but whose purpose is to steal your information.
-Treat your personal information like cash: Your Social Security number, credit card numbers, and bank and utility account numbers can be used to steal your money or open new accounts in your name. Don’t give them out in response to a text.
-If you are an AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint or Bell subscriber, you can report spam texts to your carrier by copying the original message and forwarding it to the number 7726 (SPAM), free of charge.
-Review your cell phone bill for unauthorized charges, and report them to your carrier.

Exceptions to the law:
-Transactional or relationship types of messages. If a company has a relationship with you, it can send you things like statements or warranty information.
-Non-commercial messages. This includes political surveys or fundraising messages.

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CNN Warns Customers to Change eBay Passwords

CNN Warns Customers to Change eBay PasswordsJose Pagliery wrote in CNNMoney Wednesday that hackers broke into eBay and stole user information, and they are now warning users to change their passwords. PayPal, an eBay subsidiary, is kept on a separate network.

When a hacker gets ahold of employee credentials, they have access to the customer database. Be on guard for upcoming fraudulent offers and fake details and don’t reveal your bank details or social security number to anyone.

This is a good time to revisit the importance of setting secure passwords that are easy for you to remember, yet difficult for hackers to decipher.

The following video Choosing a Password: 4 Easy Tips from Megabite offers great information in this 3 1/2 minute video:

For more information or for help with your computer, call Deryck at Megabite, (904) 430-0350.

For more information on this hack, visit eBay’s anouncement page at:

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Heartbleed Bug Attacking Servers

Heartbleed Bug Attacking ServersThere is a new bug attacking our computer servers and this one is bad! Heartbleed is the name, and everyone with a, or accounts should change their passwords.

According to, “The Heartbleed bug causes a vulnerability in the OpenSSL cryptographic library, which is used by roughly two-thirds of all websites on the Internet…”

The current advice is to not log-in to afflicted sites until you are sure the problem has been fixed. Contact your server’s customer service team for more information. Or you can check your server’s vulnerability and assessment on For example, I use Siteground for most of my hosting and found out that the SSL Certificate is now safe and my next step was to change my passwords as an extra precaution.

(TIP: It is good practice to change your passwords on a regular basis.)

Once you’ve changed your passwords and have confirmation that your servers have been fixed, you should reach out to businesses that have your personal information, like credit card account numbers, and make sure they are aware of this new bug.

Keep an eye on your financial statement and look for unknown charges on your bank statements.

For the latest information visit

If you have trouble creating and remembering passwords, take a look at, “The Last Password You Have To Remember.”

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Evolution of the Cell Phone, A 30 Year Journey

Evolution of the Cell Phone, A 30 Year JourneyFor more than three decades, cell phones have undergone a rapid evolutionary process that is worthy of amazement. Today’s sleek models operate at record speeds (using predominately 3G and 4G LTE systems); but their predecessors can all be traced back to an early analog Motorola model, the DynaTAC 8000x.

First sold in 1983, the DynaTAC 8000x weighted a whopping two and a half pounds and measured 3 x 1.75 x 3.5 inches. It had a wide-array of specs, which included a 30-minute battery life, single-line, text-only LED screen, and an eight-hour battery charge. None of today’s pretty bells and whistles or sensitive touch screens were included in this brick of a phone. At nearly $4,000, this primitive model was the only commercial mobile device of its time. On the big screen, it made quite a debut on both the 1980s hit sitcom, Saved by the Bell, and the Michael Douglas Blockbuster hit, Wall Street.

Between 1984 to the present, wireless subscribers grew from 300,000 to over 1 billion globally. And since the early DynaTAC 8000x days, countless cell phone models have gone on the market. They have shrunk in size; and at other intervals, they have grown once more, always adapting to accommodate the needs of the modern day consumer.

A new report, by Juniper Research found that by 2017, 2 billion mobile and tablet users will watch TV and videos on their devices. Equipped with wifi, usb ports, gaming, mobile apps, etc., cell phones are a fundamental part of our mobile society.

Some smart phones are a lot like mini-tablets, or “phablets,” which utilize larger screens and are capable of performing at the standards of computers and tablets. Leading devices, like the Samsung Galaxy S4, the HTC One and the iPhone 5 are prime examples of today’s latest, fastest, and most developed mobile capabilities.

App stores for iPhone models and Android devices alike, provide access to thousands of apps for download. Music can be uploaded; movies and hi definition tv can be watched anywhere; thousands of books can be purchased; video calls can be placed via Skype, etc.

As the internet becomes more accessible, cell phones, with all their numerous makes and models, reflect the single-biggest technological change in our now digital, mobile society. In just a 30-year span, brick phones have morphed into sleek, convenient tools to facilitate communication, share information and access tools for entertainment purposes. With this trend, it’s hard to fathom what the next 30 years will hold for mobile technology.

Guest contributor Andrea Fisher is an online marketer and content specialist from North Carolina. She is a published journalist & blogger with an English degree and political science minor from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

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The Versatile Smartphone

The Versatile SmartphoneSmartphones combine the versatility of cell phones, gaming consoles, PDAs, and personal computers into one handheld device. I am constantly amazed at all the features of my smartphone that I somehow got along without for years. I used to believe that all I needed was a phone to make and receive calls and text messages, but that was before I synced my office email account to my smartphone.

That move has come with the good, the bad, and the ugly consequences. Now I can keep up with work email, but I can never completely “get away” from work. Add that to Angry Birds and Facebook and I never find myself with nothing to do. I find that my smartphone gives me a unique ability to balance my work and home lives.

The popularity of mobile devices such as smartphones changes how we communicate, seek out information, and do business. Internet experts are predicting that it won’t be long before we use our mobile devices more often than regular computers to access the internet.

Smartphones not only allow you to store and play your entire collection of music, they allow you to download and watch movies and television shows. You can also download and listen to podcasts. You can also keep up with your reading using either an eBook reader, or the smartphone’s ability to play audio books. Whether you’re stuck at the airport, trapped in a traffic jam or bored in a business meeting, your favorite media is at your fingertips.

Many web developers have created mobile versions of websites because of the growing trend in smartphone use to access the internet. Perhaps the greatest advantage to owning a smartphone is the availability of thousands of small applications, called apps. A wide variety of apps can be downloaded from online stores, allowing you customize and personalize your phone.

Some of these apps can be extremely helpful. For example, according the U.S. Department of Homeland Security website, local Nassau County residents that received storm damage from Tropical Storm Debby can use the FEMA app can apply for federal disaster assistance. There is also a First Coast News weather app available to keep you informed of developing weather situations.

The small size of most apps, combined with the large storage capacity available on smartphones means you can have dozens or even hundreds of apps stored on your smartphone, an app for whatever you are in the mood for or whatever you need to get done. Basically, a smartphone is a useful tool to help you with your work and home life.

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A Senate Bill that will Reverberate Throughout History drug drones

A Drug Drone back in for refuelling

Last night at the come-back-safely party of a very close friend who had decided to go join the company that is contracted by Washington to bring back all  equipment and goodies from Afghanistan, as Obama is pulling the plug on that one as well, my eye caught a breaking news alert on one of the TV screens along the back walls of Chili’s near Target.

A silent screen stared at a restaurant full of people, as the sub-titles indicated that Google was getting a raft of crap about security and privacy issues. I look around the standing room only restaurant to catch a glimpse of someone seeing the same message on that TV and than I realized the irony of it all. These people were out to forget about their daily worries as is the large majority of the people in this country, and absolutely clueless of what is happening or if not, they have given up caring any longer.
Here is why I have to come to the conclusion that English philosopher, statesman, scientist, lawyer, jurist, author and pioneer of the scientific method Francis Bacon was absolutely correct in his observation that “Man prefers to believe what he prefers to be true.” It’s a amazing how little has changed in the human gene over the last 400 years.

Senate Passes Drone Bill

Here is what happened earlier this week when the US Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill opening the nation’s airspace to some 30,000 drones. Naturally, this has stirred concern – as well it should – among pockets of the population, who concern themselves with such “arcane concepts” as privacy, individual rights and the rule of law. Such small pockets of the populace actually, that I never saw a mention of it on News TV.

I have no doubt that at one point in the not-too-distant-future, the veiled introduction of this legislation will be recognized as the historical milestone when privacy became a luxury of the past.

I know I am blessed as I quite often sit outside in the evenings here at the beach and watch the millions of stars and galaxies. But, other than the occasional faraway satellite, I expect to see little more than clouds and some airplane navigation lights. (Red right – return flashes back from my sailing days).
Five or ten years down the road, however, you will find yourself wondering if that light is actually a plane or a drone. And nervous that it might be the latter putting its focus on you, you’ll wonder if you have observably broken a regulation, ordinance or law.
Even in the confines of your house or office, you’ll find yourself wondering if the drones picked up your angry comments about the latest outrages of the political state. Of course you may still be one of those saying: I have nothing to hide, my life is all above board and in line with the going cultural acceptance of majority rule, but deep inside you know the smallest aberration can land you in deep water.

Show me a world without skeletons in the closet and drones will be out of a job. But that’s not how it works. Just ask Francis Bacon and his 400 year old observation: “Man prefers to believe what he prefers to be true.”

In short, the world will be a different place, and given the experience with human history “not for the better”

Can we still turn the clock back?

Hardly. The drones are relatively cheap to make, can operate without jeopardizing lives and what’s even more important: THEY WORK and because they are so efficacious, you can be completely certain that they will be widely deployed. The problem is obviously not the drone. The problem comes from us. Drones are popular with everyone and their utilitarian functionality guarantees they’ll be cranked out like ice cream on a hot summer night. Three years ago there were 2 companies (US for sure) that produced drones. Today there are more than 30. Even though drone technology is still relatively new, it has already evolved to the point where its utilitarian advantages over competing technologies are undeniable. Never mind that at this point the most impressive advantages are obviously militarian, with so many countries and companies jumping on the bandwagon, drone technology will soon be applied to virtually every aspect of life anywhere in the world.

For anyone with a capacity to think creatively, it should not be hard to find a long list of uses for drone technology from peaking into your backyard when you’re sunbathing to “securing” borders, detecting illegal vegetation, speed monitoring, drug trafficking, gunning down fleeing criminals, all activities deemed deplorable by law-abiding citizens. The problem once again lies with the authorities that create laws that step on constitutional freedom as if it were an arcane luxury. What the Air Force has, the Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, FBI, DEA and all other modules of what is generally lumped together as Homeland Security will also want.
I recently heard from a Navy Captain close to the program about an $800 million dollar remote controlled submarine disaster, the target precision was way off) which has now however resulted a remote-controlled miniature attack sub, while four-wheeled, weapon-firing street drones are able to chase a perp to ground with extreme prejudice.

It is sad, but having formed a strongly positive attitude about drones, history dictates that governments in all its various manifestations will, in time, overdo it. And the passing of the bill last week in the Senate will ultimately be declared the beginning of the Era of the Drone.

Volunteer Judges are Needed for Statewide Technology Competition

Volunteer Judges are Needed for Statewide Technology CompetitionSearchAmelia received an email looking for people to consider volunteering one day of time in February to assist Florida students to achieve success in a statewide talent competition at the Technology Student Association (TSA) statewide competition, scheduled for the Omni Amelia Island Conference Center, February 23-25, 2012.

TSA is looking for interested local educators, college students, and citizens to serve as judges for their event. The commitment for each judge would be to serve on a panel of three judges, assisted by a Florida TSA faculty coordinator in terms of the rules, questions, and related details.

The competition involves about 1,000 students from about 100 high schools and middle schools throughout Florida who have already won local competitions, and who now are competing at the state level for the opportunity to represent Florida at the TSA National competition in Nashville, TN in June 2012.

There are about 130 separate competitions, half for high school and half for middle school students. The TSA National web site provides the mission and other details about the organization and the annual competition at: For more information about the FLORIDA TSA organization, go to

To sign up as a volunteer to judge one or more of the competitions or to get more info about what is entailed, visit Florida TSA’s Judge Registration page. or contact Florida TSA Judge Manager Mary Herring at

Please note that judges do not need to be subject matter “experts” in the topic, but judges should be able to assess the students’ presentations in general terms.

Most volunteer judges will be asked to be available for a preliminary judging (roughly 3-4 hours) to come up with a Top Ten for each event, and a second session (also 3-4 hours) to judge the Top Ten and rank them. Florida TSA is scheduling most preliminary and final sessions on the same day, and will provide meals for judges at the Omni conference center. Judges also will receive a T-shirt, a Certificate, and a big Thank You from Florida TSA for your help.

There will be three judges for each event. Each judge will be introduced via email to the Event Coordinator (the faculty person for each competition) and given the rules and grading sheet prior to the event.

This is a wonderful opportunity for those of us in the Nassau County area to encourage these wonderful students interested in the field of technology.

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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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Another Death Announcement

Are paper books going to be obsolete soon?

Paper books may face extinction soon

Another Death announcement… printed paper Books

Although still premature for publishing, the writing is on the wall. Literally!

Amazon, The world’s largest book retailer online, announced that the month of May has been the third month in a row that e-books outsold “paperbacks” and that the margins are growing by leaps and bounds.

What was only a short 6 months ago a “Christmas Fluke” – e-Books outselling paper versions – has now become a steadily growing margin that for every 100 paper books Amazon sells 180 e-Books.

Of course the lowering of the Kindle reader from $260 to $190 has contributed and tripled the device’s sales according to Jeff Bezos, CEO Amazon, yet the online retailer has also taken every precaution to provide e-Books via Apple iPad apps, Microsoft windows format as well as a droid version being readied for release to stave off a possible device swing that may put their e-Book reader Kindle in a tight spot.

Notably the iPad has not yet taken the pole position in the e-Book reader class, but we haven’t seen the “back to school” reports that may show a significant surge towards the educational device of choice – rather the logging around 40 pounds of paper books a 1.5 Lbs tablet may show the real alternative – and become also a Kindle e-Book reader competitor by true force.

Time will tell, however no matter which e-readers will survive and become leaders in the e-Book class, the paper versions are doomed in the near future as declining printruns (the amount of printed copies required to satisfy the paper book market) will make the hardcover version financially obsolete.

What do you think? Let us know you opinion.

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