27
Jul 15

Why do I say this?

Well it's simple really, I pay for hosting with SiteGround and while it's not a huge amount it's still over $100 per year and that money has to come from somewhere.  At the moment I'm paying for hosting out of pocket, I own Galway IMT LLC which is the legal owner of this site OPPY1984.com, and to keep things going I've invested money out of my own pocket to pay the bills.  The problem is I don't want to keep doing that forever, so I use Google Adsense, and Amazon Associates, and I'm selling my movie collection on Ebay, I've even added PayPal and ChangeTip buttons to the side bar on the right, I'm not trying to make my fortune with this site, I just want it to pay for it's self.

What can you do?

Well for one you can turn off your adblocker or at least white list my site, and of course click on an ad once in a while.  You can also buy through my Amazon links, did you know that if you click on one of my Amazon links then buy something else instead of what I was offering I'll still get a commission?  Yep, even if you don't buy what I offered you but you still buy something I'll get a commission on that sale, it won't be as much as if you had bought what I offered but it will be something, and that would help me pay my bills.  You could also buy one of my movies I'm selling on Ebay, just go up to the Shop Tab and click on the Ebay Tab, that will take you to my profile page where everything I have for sale will be listed.
If none of that interests you you could always donate to the site though the PayPal or ChangeTip buttons, They are not there for show, they are they for you to say thanks for the content and to help support this site.

What is the issue?

Advertisers today have forgotten that people don't like in your face flashing advertisements, so they put them out on the ad networks and annoy the user to the point where the user gives up and installs and adblocker.  Should you block those kinds of ads?  In my opinion, yes.  I visit a few sites that run those flashing, pop up ads and I've installed adblock (not AdBlock Plus) and instead of white listing sites, I blacklisted those sites that run those kind of ads, in total I've only blacklisted 5 websites.  What I have done on top of that is written to all 5 of those sites admins and told them that I have blacklisted them in adblock and if they want me to whitelist them they need to change their ad format, and that in the meantime I will find other ways to support them.  See that's the thing, if I'm going to still visit their websites and read their content or use their service I want to support them, but I won't support their horrible ads.
This is the issue today, to many people are installing adblocking tools then thinking the internet is free, it's not people, trust me.  If you want the content and services you love to continue you're going to have to support the sites.  If a site is running the kind of ads you hate, write the admin and let them know, tell them you want to support their site but the type of advertisements they run has to change.  If the advertising industry sees that no one is clicking on the annoying ads, but is clicking on the simple non-annoying ads then they will change their tactics and stop showing the annoying ads.  If people just keep blocking ads then the advertising industry will just come up with a new way to present ads that will circumvent adblockers and then they won't learn their lesson.

What happens if everyone still just keeps using adblockers?

Well first the sites that host the content and services you love will go down, then the advertising industry will suffer a little, but don't think you've won at that point.  The advertising industry will just come up with new ways to show you ads, and the websites of the world will do what no one wants to do and put up paywalls.  Just think that great content and those great services you're using for free right now will put up paywalls and then you'll ave to pay whatever the site owners decide.  Sure you can opt to not pay what they ask for and try and find another site, but wouldn't it just be easier to face the problem now instead of destroying the open and mostly free system we have now?

In Conclusion

Please remember that small website like this one depend on ad sales, affiliate sales, and donations from users like you to keep going.  Yes we do this because we love it, but love doesn't pay the bills, so please use the suggestions I've mentioned above, change the advertising industry and don't hurt the content creators and service providers.
20
Nov 14
I got the Android 5.0 (Lollipop) update on Monday and I've been miserable ever since.  I've been an Android user for years, the first android phone I got was running android 2.0 and while it wasn't the smoothest OS I was in love with it and have stayed with android since.  Up until Monday I was running KitKat 4.4.4 on my Nexus 5 and was totally happy, then I saw the update had been pushed to me and I was eager to install and did it right away.  Big mistake.
First I had to swipe up to get to my lock screen which annoyed me, but I thought I could just change that setting and make the lock screen be the first thing I see when I hit the power button.  Nope, you can not bypass this, even if you turn off the notifications all you see is a blank screen that you still have to swipe up to get to your lock screen.  I don't understand why the Android team didn't turn that off if you disable all notification, instead they decided it would be better to inconvenience people and give them an extra step to unlock their phone with no way to bypass this step.
So then I get my phone unlocked and I see the Material Design and the first thing I think is "this looks like a damn iPhone", personally I think it's ugly.  It's flat, it lifeless, the icons now look more like paper cut-outs than then clean crisp icons from previous versions.  But thing flash up on the screen now instead of simply appearing, never mind that once the window has flashed up the icons are ugly.
Screenshot_2014-11-19-01-00-35  Screenshot_2014-11-19-00-58-32  Screenshot_2014-11-19-01-02-18
At this point I'm telling myself I'll get used to this, I always have before.  So I continue to look around and I don't like what I see.  First the keyboard (first image) is ugly and I found I made more mistakes when I typed on it, it's amazing how changing the color from black to white and removing any separation between the keys can affect your typing.  I of course gave up on this new keyboard and went back to the old standard black keyboard which separation between the keys.  Now look at the calculator (middle image) that is just ugly, and once again they've removed any separation between the keys.  Also that teal bar on the side is horrible, it just screams at you and looks totally out of place in the app.  Plus there is the fact that once you do your calculation you have to long press delete to clear it, unlike in previous versions where when you tapped the delete button it cleared the screen.  Minor thing I know, but I use the calculator several times a day and this gets annoying.  Then I see my apps menu, so now instead of thumbnails I have cards, great.  Now I have a stack of cards to swipe away that ends in the center of the screen instead of a descending set of thumbnails that can be easily swiped away with my thumb.
Screenshot_2014-11-19-01-01-28                 Screenshot_2014-11-19-01-01-42
So by now you can tell I'm not liking Lollipop, but I figure I'll use it for a few days and get accustomed to the new UI and everything will be alright, then I kept going.  Now when I swipe down I see this (first image), and yes it's different and I prefer the previous pull down menu but this isn't that bad, the flashlight is useless since I have and app that I don't have to pull down to get to but whatever, I can live with this.  Then I see that when I long press the power button I no longer have to ability to set my phone to vibrate or silent and I no longer have the ability to put my phone in airplane mode.  Now I know I can just swipe down to set airplane mode, but the old way was quick and easy, why would they take this out?  Also there is no setting that I can find on the pull down menu to set my phone to silence or vibrate, so instead I now have to physically turn the volume down, then back up when I want the ringer back.
So I'm really not happy with Lollipop but once again I tell myself that I'll adapt and everything will be fine.  Then apps start crashing, apps that were working just fine before the update are now crashing.  And I can understand when third party apps crash after a major update like this, but Gmail and Hangouts crashed!  These are the Google apps that should always work with Android, and yet their crashing too!  Something tells me the Android team spent more time worrying about how the icons looks and making sure that things flashed on screen with some animation than they did worrying about if the OS even worked.  I know Android always has it's bugs, and I get that, but my Nexus 5 is almost unusable right now.  Just to send a text message I have to open Hangouts several times just to have it force close then reopen it and go though that process several times before it will stay open long enough for me to send a text.  And Gmail gives me a blank inbox for about 30 seconds then force closes all the time, some times it will let me see my email and work properly but most of the time it's just the blank screen then force close.
So I for one do not like Lollipop and wish there was an easy, non techy, way to go back to KitKat.  That's a feature Android should make, the wayback button "Don't like this flavor of Android?  Hit the wayback button and remove the update and go back to your previous version".  I've tried to do the whole bootloader thing and I have no idea what I'm doing, and I'm afraid of bricking my phone, so something like the wayback button would be nice, even if it had a time limit, say 7 days, I'd still like an easy way to go back to a stable version of Android.
In the end I just wish that the Android team had spent more time making sure Lollipop worked and less time time removing useful things, and making sure the animations flashed.
27
Oct 14

With the development of CurrentC in the wake of Apple Pay, I have to say this is a horrible PR move and CurrentC will be the Qwikster of the credit industry.  QR codes as payment systems were an interesting idea 4 years ago but now that we have NFC, QR code payment systems just don't make sense.

So what is CurrentC?

CurrentC is a payment app developed by retailers to bypass the credit card companies and process your payments themselves while also collecting data on you using QR codes to process the payments instead of the magnetic strip on your credit card or the NFC chip in your phone.

Why do retailers use CurrentC instead of Google Wallet and Apple Pay?
Well for one the retailers were slow to adopt NFC payments and so they didn't put things in place to have loyalty cards attached to your NFC wallet of choice, and now as a result they don't have the ability to track you and gather information on everything you buy.  So a few years ago these retailers (see the list below) teamed up to create their own app for mobile payments instead of just going to Google and Apple and asking how can we work together to build a better payment system.
What should the retailers do now?

Well first drop CurrentC and beg the public for forgiveness.  Next allow NFC payments right away.  Then while customers are happy because they can use NFC payments, the retailers can be working with Google and Apple to insert loyalty cards into Google Wallet and Apple Pay thereby letting them get their precious tracking data on they consumers.
If these retailers don't want to face an ever increasing backlash from consumers I suggest they give up on CurrentC and turn on NFC right away, but sadly I fear they will dig in and fight to use their own useless system while the retailers who allow and embrace NFC will flourish.
26
Jan 14

When I got my first cell phone I got it with Alltel, and that sucked, Alltel was horrible.  Once my contract was up with them I switched to AT&T and at first I was happy then the service started to cut in and out and my monthly bill start to go up so I switched to Sprint when my 2 year contract was up with AT&T.  Now I was really happy with Sprint, the price was lower than AT&T and the service was much better, plus the people at the Sprint store didn't act like pricks unlike the people at every AT&T store I went to.

So I was happy, and when my two year contract was up I renewed it and got a new Samsung Galaxy Nexus and went on my merry way.  Then I noticed that my bill was going up a little every month and I started to watch it and it just kept going up, I started off paying about $72.00 a month for an unlimited plan and by July of 2013 (the middle of my 4th year with Sprint) my bill had gone up to $98.15.  That means in 3 1/2 years my bill went up 23 dollars, or about $0.76 per month.

So in January of 2013 I started thinking about dropping Sprint for a Tracfone or some other prepaid provider when I was listening to on of the TWiT podcasts I listen to while driving when they talked about Ting, and since I had been looking for low budget backup phone I gave it a shot and tried out the service.  Now Ting runs off the Sprint network so I checked my connection on both devices all over the place, I took both the Sprint phone and the Ting phone everywhere I normally go and tested them both, and the Ting phone operated just like the Sprint phone so on August 5, 2013 I bit the bullet and switched to Ting canceling my Sprint contact 6 months early, and paid the ETF of $350, and yet I still saved almost $400 in that six months.  The whole process took less than an hour, I did everything myself, and there are very well written instructions for a variety of phones.

I love Ting, and will most likely be with them for a very long time, my only issue is that in the last two months I stopped being able to get a data connection anywhere in or near Mansfield Ohio, thankfully I'm not there for more than an hour a night but still I wonder why I stopped getting a connection when I had one before.  I can still get voice and text but no data anywhere in Mansfield (darn not YouTube or voice to text), I wonder if Sprint is doing something to the connection to make a MVNO look worse than the carrier it's self.  I can't prove this it's just a theory, but between the money I've saved, the insight on my own usage, and the amazing customer support (it's real people with real knowledge of what they're talking about talking to you) I'm totally fine with no data connection in one city I'm only in for an hour a night, I have data everywhere else I go.

So stop paying absurd amounts of money to the carriers, switch to Ting!  And if you click on the Ting logo below it will take you to the Ting website and you'll get a $25.00 credit on your account when you sign up.  The way this works is every Ting customer get's a referral link, and if someone signs up using that link they get a $25.00 credit and so does the person that owns the link.  Understand I will get a $25.00 credit as will you if you follow my link, but I did not write this post just to try and get referrals, I really do love Ting and want to spread the word.  Also I have in no way been promoted or offered monetary gain for writing this, no one from or representing Ting have prompted me to write this post.  Now click the link below for your $25.00 credit and start saving money with Ting!

27
Jul 13

So now that Google Reader has been shut down and everyone has moved on and found other readers I'd like to talk about one that I've found and have come to love.

First let me say that yes I tried Feedly but I just didn't like it, it seemed slow and when I imported my Reader info some things were missing and after manually adding the missing feeds they would be gone the next time I opened up the reader.  So for me Feedly is out.

Next is the Digg Reader, not being a fan of Digg and preferring Reddit I didn't try this one, I've seen a lot of positive reviews about it though.  If you're a Digg user already I'd say this is probably the way to go for you.

The AOL reader....din't try it, not going to try it.

Now for the reader that I've found to be my personal favorite, CommaFeed I could go on and on about this but I will try to make this brief.  The design is simple and clean, everything works flawlessly, it's open source, and there are browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera.  I honestly love the reader and I just thought I've been using it and I wanted to put the word out there since I've never seen it discussed in any way when talking about Reader alternatives.  If you're still looking for a good Reader replacement I'd say check out CommaFeed.

3
Jul 13

Recently I bought What Would Google Do? written by Jeff Jarvis in audio book form on Audible and at one point he suggests running internet lines along with power lines to more effectively distribute the internet to all homes.  Now while I think this is a great idea, it got my mind working and made me think about the negatives of that idea.  The main issue is that if you're running internet cable along with power cable then the power company can try and muscle in on the ISP business and charge just as outrageous prices as the ISP's do now.

So what did I come up with?  Well it's still a work in progress but I'll outline the basics of what I have right now.  First a non-profit should be set up, lets call it Open Source Electric and Internet (OSEI), alright now the OSEI team should work with electrical engineers to to design small power stations that would serve a small community and work to find the most productive and cost effective model.  Next the OSEI team should work with ISP engineers to design and plan deployment of a new network, at this stage the electrical engineers with work with the ISP engineers to figure out the best way to run electricity and internet down the same pipe with little to no interference.

But where does the power come from you ask?  Every building connected to the network commercial and residential, public and private, will be required to have a subsidized solar panel array mounted to the roof.  Every building would produce electricity and feed extra electricity back to the grid charging the power station's batteries which would also be charged by the stations own large solar array.

Now as for the internet, each power station would also act as a hub with a large antenna that would connect to other power station hubs to create a large scale mesh network.  The signal between these towers should be encrypted to secure user data, but the power station hub would also be running high speed internet lines to every building along with power lines thereby giving every building internet access.  Also since the local OSEI power station would presumably power local street lights put WiFi repeaters on the street lights and hard wire every forth or fifth one as an access point to the OSEI line to ensure WiFi coverage in the public space.

Obviously you will need more power than the community can provide from time to time so what should you do?  Well the answer came in the form of an idea I had years ago.  I drive on US Route 30 for approximately 75 miles (each way), and what do I see for most the my drive?  A large grass covered median between the East & West bound lanes.  Now imagine if even half of that 75 miles had solar panels on it, think of the power it could produce.  These panels could be broken into sections and could be linked to near by power stations that then feed the power to the network of local power stations that in turn distribute all the power as needed.  There could also be WiFi repeaters connected to the panels to provide WiFi access to all the vehicles on the road, this WiFi would of course come from the nearby power station that the solar array is connected to.

But what about the DOT employees that are paid to mow that median?  Well the OSEI could subcontract to the local DOT and have the otherwise out of work employees retrained to inspect and service the solar array on the highway and in the public spaces.  Why subcontract instead of just hiring them?  Well first of all OSEI wouldn't have to pay all the employee costs (taxes, workers comp, health plans, retirement, ect.) instead they would pay a lump sum to the state who would then pay the workers they already have and the workers get to keep their government health plans and pensions.

Ok so now for the question on everyone's mind, how the hell does this make money?  Well first of all this is all run by a non-profit so the goal isn't to make money, but there does need to be some profit to keep things running.  First charge $0.03 per kWh for every one who consumes more electricity than they produce.  Next charge a flat fee of $20.00 per month for unlimited internet access.  Now what about those people who's building produces more power than it consumes?  Do they get money back every month?  The simple answer is No.  Part of the deal you make to have a subsidized solar array placed on your building , $0.03 per kWh charge (only if you use more than you produce), $20.00 per month unlimited internet access, and of course being part of the community, is that you give up the idea that the power company will pay you for producing power.

So there you have it, the very basic idea that I got from one sentence from Jeff Jarvis.  Do you see flaws with my idea?  Do you have a better suggestion?  Let me know in the comments.  Hell, got your own better idea?  Write up your own idea and post the link in the comments, if I like it I'll update this to include your name and the link.  Remember Open Source is all about working together to build it better!