Aug 16

Think You Have Privacy? Google It.

Gmail_logoThere has been much talk about the pending lawsuit against Google and privacy of those who use their service “Gmail”. I can make this post really short and to the point: Sending email to Gmail users means you expect Google’s servers will process it. Google actually scans your email anyway, but more than likely, you don’t mind.  Why? Because they’re scanning it to find out if it is spam.  The argument from consumer groups in their class action lawsuit is the fact that Google also scans what you send through their servers for keywords.  Those keywords look for possible ad revenue and more relevant ads you’ll see pop up in your every day web searches and on the page itself.

But, is this really a surprise to anyone? First, you’re getting the email address for free and as the old adage goes “nothing in life is free.”  Google justifies the searches based on a 1979 Supreme Court ruling about third-party involvement.  The Third-Party Doctrine basically says you lose legally enforceable privacy rights when you use their service.  Here’s what they said in court papers:

Just as a sender of a letter to a business colleague cannot be surprised that the recipient’s assistant opens the letter, people who use web-based email today cannot be surprised if their emails are processed by the recipient’s [email provider] in the course of delivery. Indeed, “a person has no legitimate expectation of privacy in information he voluntarily turns over to third parties.”

Google’s “oh, we thought you knew that” has actually come out as an admission that they do the scans.  They feel that you shouldn’t expect something you are doing online to be private.  It goes along the lines of using your common, everyday telephone.  You’re voluntarily conveying numerical information to the phone company.  Look, companies email get hacked all the time.  There’s no reasonable expectation of privacy when you use your work email, right?

Not so fast, say the watchdog groups.  They are comparing the email scans as nothing short of illegal wiretapping, hence the class action lawsuit. What about the rights of people that send an email TO a gmail address? What are their rights?  Here’s what Google Says about that:

Non-Gmail users who send emails to Gmail recipients must expect that their emails will be subjected to Google’s normal processes as the [email] provider for their intended recipients.

Oh.  That means I can’t plead ignorance.  Neither can you now, according to Google, because you just read the above sentence.  We’ll see how this all plays out when this case goes before a judge September 5th.

Ed Snowden, NSA, the IRS – all are in the psyche of today’s consciousness and we have to remember that NOTHING is private anymore.  So – think twice if you have a problem with sending something over the internet… its just going to get worse.

Here’s my segment from WOFL FOX 35 in Orlando

FOX 35 News Orlando


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Aug 08


Get ready to Break Bad.  The final 8 episodes are kick off Sunday with Episode 9, Blood Money.  The kids from AMC have some great ways to get ready and all geared up in HazMat suits to make sure you pick up where Walt and Jesse left off.  Here’s some tips:

Ten Ways to Get Ready for Breaking Bad‘s Return This Sunday 9/8c 

1. The Season 4 and 5 marathon starting this Fri., Aug. 9 at 3PM/2c with the Season 4 Premiere,Box Cutter.

2. Watch the Breaking Bad Countdown Mashup trailer that premiered at Comic-Con 2013.

3. View six sneak peek photos from the Premiere.

4. Bookmark Breaking Bad Story Sync, the interactive, two-screen experience for your smartphone, tablet or Internet Browser during the premiere broadcast.

5. Check out Breaking Bad: All Bad Things, a comic book recap of the first four-and-a-half seasons.

6. Watch Walter White’s transformation into Heisenberg via 30 recap videos, released daily until the premiere on Sunday.

7. Use the Breaking Bad Name Lab to transform your name with elemental symbols (just like the show’s logo).

8. Enter the Breaking Bad Quick Fix Sweepstakes for your chance to win $15,000 and a $1,000 Urban Outfitters gift card.

9. Sign up for Breaking News: the Breaking Bad Newsletter to keep up-to-date and possibly win swag.

10. Find out about Talking Bad, the new LIVE after show hosted by Chris Hardwick and airing Sunday nights at 11/10c

Breaking Bad returns this Sun., Aug. 11 at 9/8c


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Jul 25


Google Chromecast. Click image to see all specs and to purchase

I came across a new gadget that if you’re a Windows fan, you might appreciate.  At the English household, we’re all pretty much Mac.  This includes our AppleTV that I love to use to stream video using my iPhone using AirPlay.  The problem is, I don’t want to buy another $99 AppleTV to use on my other televisions.

Enter Google.  They have jumped into the TV game with their $35 device called “Chromecast.”   Basically, it allows both Android and iOS devices to play HD video on TV sets. YouTube, Google Play and Netflix goes straight to any TV equipped with the device that easily plugs into a HDMI port.  Will I get this? YES.

Why? Well, first, it’s the price: 35 bucks ain’t bad.  Second, it’s cross-platform so it’ll work on my iPhone. However, the best feature is that it supports multitasking. A big plus.  Other cool features is the integration into the Chrome browser (which I use.) Basically, I can put my browser on the TV

Chromecast is now available to buy on Google Play, and, shipping early next month.


Here’s their promotion video:

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Jul 16

Here’s the Info in Your Zip Code

zipcodeThis morning on FOX 35, I’m talking about your ZIP Code.   Ahhh, yes…  The ZIP Code.  The 5 digit number needed to get the mail to your home every day.  There are some zip codes more popular than others, there have been TV shows named after a zip code.  When I worked national weather on TV, my outcue was “here’s the weather in your ZIP Code…”  and the local affiliates would do their local weather.  But what gives on this geographical representation that makes it so important to everyone? Well, it actually says a lot about you.

If you’re ever at a retailer and they ask “Can I have your ZIP Code?” DO NOT give it to them.  Why? Mainly, its because your ZIP Code is the last piece of the puzzle for companies to sell you stuff.  What seems harmless actually gives big business an opportunity to sell who you are.  “Dynamic, personalized marketing.”  They know what you buy and they know what to send to you.

So, who cares.  I’ll get some more junk mail.  Right? Yes, you’re right.  But you’re info now becomes a commodity for those businesses to sell to others. Other companies that might not be so scrupulous.    Its become ‘Big Data’ and companies don’t need your whole address to find you.  Once you’ve swiped your credit or debit card, they have your address and possibly your phone number.  What they don’t have is your ZIP Code.  They verbally ask you for it.  Once you’ve given it to them, its cart blanche on them building a profile on you.  A profile of what you’ve bought, when you’ve bought it and so on.  What’s even more troubling is that some of these companies have accuracy rates close to 100%.

Generally, you don’t have to give them your info.  It’s illegal to require personal information to run your credit card in CA, DE, GA, KS, MA, MD, MN, NV, NJ, NY, OH, OR, PA, RI, TX, WI, and DC.  If you live in one of these states and you don’t want to give them your info.  Don’t! According to Mastercard, a merchant cannot refuse to complete a transaction if the card holder doesn’t want to give out that information.

Most stores know what to do if a customer refuses.  They more than likely have already dealt with it.  You might want to ask them if its going to be used for marketing purposes.

If you’re ready to purge any and all junk mail, check out The Federal Trade Commission’s website. If you want to get rid of unsolicited mail, email and phone calls.  Go to the FTC’s opt-out page (for some reason, they give you a choice of opting out for 5 years or permanently.  I think most would prefer the latter!)

Don’t worry about typing in your ZIP Code at the gas pump.  You’re ok there.  They need that information to make sure it matches with the credit card you used.  Its a way to deter fraudulent charges.

Here’s my segment in FOX 35:

FOX 35 News Orlando

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Jul 08

Ripley Radio All Month Long!


I am excited to let you all know that I’ve been invited to be a guest on Ripley Radio, the official broadcast station of Ripley’s Believe It or Not! all month long in July.  (Well, I am hoping they let me be on every week, they seem to like me!)  I had such a fun time talking about something I know a little about – weirdness.  A new show is available every Monday morning.  It was so fun to get behind the microphone again, I can’t wait for the next episode.

On today’s edition (July 8, 2013,) Jodi Pliszka, Ripley’s own guru of weird medical maladies reports on some of the most unbelievable body-part re-attachments in medical history;  Kirk Demarais, author of Mail Order Mysteries, explains the items that he highlights in his book -the small items once available for order from the back of cereal boxes and comic books and sideshow and carnival fan extraordinaire Wayne Keyser joins us to talk about his radio show, Ballycast.

Ripley Radio is a journey through the weird, wacky, whimsical, wild, and totally unbelievable world of the odd, strange and unusual. Each show provides listeners with amazing and absolutely true tales of today, as well as unbelievable facts culled from the extensive archives of the company that has been freaking out families for more than 90 years!

Ripley’s Radio Co-hosts Ralf “with an F” Ingwersen and Tim O’Brien, and their unbelievable multi-talented ensemble report on the latest oddball happenings and outrageous current events each week, but with that added Ripley Twist (of course).

The weekly broadcast is an unpredictable and fun-filled show that proves Ripley’s is indeed, the global authority on the weird, strange, bizarre and the UNBELIEVABLE!

You can hear the;; and Find Ripley Radio on iTunes and for detailed information on each show, the hosts and a look at the extensive archives, please visit the Ripley Radio website.

To listen on a mobile device, download the free app at


About Ripley Radio

Ripley Radio is owned by Ripley Entertainment Inc., keepers of the venerable Ripley’s Believe It or Not! brand and is a global leader in location-based entertainment. More than 12 million guests visit its 90-plus world-wide attractions annually. The Orlando-based company also has divisions that oversee publishing, licensing and broadcast operations.  Ripley Entertainment is a Jim Pattison Company, the third-largest privately held company in Canada.

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May 14

Ahhh Snap!

Icon_100pxJust when you thought it was safe to send that picture…  Snapchat, the 9th most popular app on Apple’s App store, has just admitted there’s a problem.  Well, a problem if you’re worried about your picture really not being deleted as promised by the app.  A Utah forensics company has found a flaw in the picture/video app.

Richard Hickman of Decipher Forensics found that it’s possible to pull Snapchat photos from Android phones just by downloading data from the phone.  The picture is found when you remove a  “.NoMedia” file extension.  The website Buzzfeed found at least one flaw that made that possible to find those pictures on your iPhone.

Snapchat now admits you can find those pictures and explain how they keep the pictures.

Plain and simple: don’t think those pictures are gone forever.  If you don’t ever want to worry about them being seen by anyone other than you sent it to, just don’t send the picture!  If you’re a parent,  check out this website to find information about software that can be downloaded onto children’s phones to track their computer and cell phone activity.

FOX 35 News Orlando

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Jan 31

The Problems with Vine

There has been a lot of hub-bub about Twitter’s new video sharing app “Vine.”  If you’re not familiar with it, its basically an app that allows you to post a 6-second video that you’re able to edit with pauses in the video process.  I stopped by FOX 35 in Orlando to talk about Vine on-air and the problems with it. However, I’m really thinking its a problem with Apple more than a problem with Twitter.


The Twitter-owned app is currently an iOS-only app.  It also means since it is owned by Twitter, you cannot use it to post on Facebook.  The biggest problem right now is the power of porn.  Vine is now the bachelor pad of the week for XXX 6 second videos.  That’s right, folks are taping six-second videos of naked (or nekkid depending on the region of the country you live.)  Now, here’s where the troubles begin.  Recently Apple pulled a popular photo sharing application from its App Store called “500px.”  Apple’s very own ToS are very vague and sometimes confusing rules of Apple’s App Store guidelines.  Here’s from their actual guidelines:

Apple’s App Store Guidelines 18.2:

“Apps that contain user generated content that is frequently pornographic (ex “Chat Roulette” apps) will be rejected.”


Last week, it wasn’t too hard to find the dirty videos.  All you had to do was search “#porn” on Vine and boom, you got a small smorgasbord of six-second bites.  Matter of fact, a porn video even made it to the top of Vine’s “Editors Picks” before it was hastily removed.  The good news out of all of this is the power of the people.   Users can report videos as inappropriate within the product if they believe the content to be sensitive or inappropriate.  Vine has made some changes making it harder for users to find such videos, but as we all know, there are always work-arounds.  Apple decided to “hide the app as much as possible” on its App Store, however its already very popular: The fourth most popular free-app as of this writing.

When downloading Vine, it does say that the content is for 12+.  However, think of it.  Porn has no place for an app that my teenagers can quickly view.  So, the 100% way I can make sure that they don’t see it is for not to download the app.  But should I have to even worry about that? Then the actual question arises,  “Will Vine even be relevant a year from now?”  I don’t think its going to be.  I can upload video to Twitter right now.  It can be longer than six seconds.

This all goes back to something that I’ve said for years.  If you want any product, service or technology to skyrocket to the forefront of American culture, just get the world of porn to get involved.  Its an industry that takes advantage of tech.  If somehow we could get the Porn industry and Cancer research together, I guarantee you we’d have a cure by now.

Here’s my appearance on FOX 35
FOX 35 News Orlando

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Jan 29

Meet Felix


We’re always looking for an extra set of hands, right? When it comes to our iPad, that extra set of hands really comes in nice when we’re on a plane, at a desk or just when we, well, need an extra set of hands.  This year at CES I was introduced to Felix.  Though “Felix” sounds like a great name for a guy, its actually a great name for a company that has a “hands on” approach to monkey business.  (I’ll explain).

Screen Shot 2013-01-29 at 3.08.32 PMFelix has TwoHands and its the perfect travel stand. This lightweight, travel clip goes right onto your tablet, iPad or eReader. Its easy to slide to the TwoHands to make the absolute perfect angle. Since its small and lightweight, it fits in your pocket, purse, bag or in my case, a backpack.  It will also work in portrait and landscape mode.   The first thing my wife asked when she saw it was if it came in different colors.  Yes, it does, Red, Green, Pink, Blue, Black & White.  THEN she asked when she gets it.  So, needless to say, its now hers.

What I enjoy about TwoHands is the fact that it also clips on to my iPhone.  Yes, it looks a little awkward with the dimensions, but it works great.  Sometimes I don’t have my iPad around and I’M JUST THAT LAZY to hold my iPhone up while I’m watching a video.  TwoHands is available on Felix’s website and they will run you just under $25.


Now on to some monkey business.  This can be really fun too.  Meet Felix’s MonkeyDo ( I prefer to think of it as “Monkey See Monkey Do” instead of, well, “Monkey Doo”  Flashbacks of online videos of bored monkeys at a zoo come to mind.  However, it apparently is a smart thing to “do.”)  MonkeyDo is a great tool for those of us that want a more permanent set up with our iPad.  Especially if you’re the type that uses your iPad with a keyboard.  This cute little guy is great  for when you need  different angles and a firm grip.  It’ll work great with your iPad2 and other smaller tablets.   It will also work in portrait and landscape mode.

MonkeyDo is available on Felix’s website and costs just under $20.  Both products are shipped to you with lots of love.  Speaking of their site, I always prefer and like sites that are more personable and easy to navigate. made me feel like I was dealing with people that know they have a great product and that simplicity with great design equals a happy customer.  Check them out!

Felix products are also available at your local Staples.


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Jan 22


Getting some extra cash is always nice when you don’t have to sweat too much to get it. Gigwalk is an app that will let you make a few extra coin just by snapping some pictures. Check out my appearance on FOX 35 in Orlando to get all the details about this money-making app.

FOX 35 News Orlando


Gigwalk is NOT available on Android yet.  

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Jan 10


Something pretty popular this year at CES is keeping your phone waterproof, or waterproof phones altogether. While the products out are pretty impressive, a trend we’ll see this year is electronics that are waterproof altogether. I came across a company that will be making those electronics waterproof. The process is pretty intriguing and I think its a winner. Tag Hauer’s new cell phone will be one of the first with the seal built in it.  Check out this video and you’ll see how it works.

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