Friday, November 23, 2012

Online Social Networks: Main Predictors of US Presidential Election Results?

Given that they eerily seem to uncannily predict the results of the 2012 US Presidential Elections, are online social media networks just became the new election prognosticators?

By: Ringo Bones

Statistician Nate Silver may have created a mathematical algorithm that uncannily predicted President Obama’s victory more accurately than “traditional” political pundits but in hindsight, are online social media networks are now better at prognosticating election results compared to the previous US Presidential Elections four years ago? Does this mean that the “digital native” generation who has just became old enough to vote back in the November 6, 2012 US elections just became the new “Swing State” in America?

Months prior to the 2012 US Presidential Elections, President Obama and his Democratic Party had been very busy winning fans in the online social media world of Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and other leading social media sites on the internet – while challenger Mitt Romney’s Republican Party seems to be “sitting on the fence” when it comes to winning voters in the online social media scene. Though many tenured analysts now point out that recent – but gradual - demographic shifts in the American electorate may be the true culprit on why the Republican Party challenger lost to the Democrat incumbent – as in the Republicans tend to stick to its core cause of promoting white-Anglo-Saxon-Protestant values at the expense of the basic rights of Americans of non-white Anglo Saxon ethnicity. Does this mean that online social network sourced “Big Data” may now be the new “Crystal Ball” when it comes to predicting future election results?

According to Charles Duhigg – author of The Power of Habit – traditional political pundits should now look into the “predictive” importance of online social network big data during election time and the role of shame and social pressure on the shifting demographic makeup of the American voting landscape. To the “internet novice”, the term “Big Data” is a form of data created when an online user uses a credit card when buying something via the internet, or when expressing their likes and dislikes by posting them on social media networks like Facebook or Twitter. This means online data points of you and other people are now very useful during election time. Does this mean that “information technology” or I.T. is the future of politics?

In a recent online big data study conducted a few months before the 2012 US Presidential Elections, it was found out that Romney supporters tend to eat at Olive Garden while Obama supporters tend to dine out at Red Lobster. Not only that, even one’s taste in music could serve as a very accurate predictor of who you will vote for. Looking back, one could easily conclude that President Obama had an “unfair” head start when it comes to establishing a homegrown database via online social networks of his supporters – even though Obama can freely buy political advertisement time in both Olive Garden and Red Lobster. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Spiritualism in the Smartphone Age

Given that the Catholic Church in Poland has just been again riding every teens’ ass over their “occult” Halloween practices, shouldn’t we have the right to freely practice spiritualism that pre-dates Organized Christianity by thousands of years?

By: Ringo Bones

Just like clockwork, every Organized Christian Demagogue is again blaming Halloween for the ills of the world every last week of October, but where are these so-called demagogues when such practices were the norm thousands of years ago? Well, here’s something that might not be older than Queen Victoria but at least it is enough to rouse up every Organized Christian Demagogue who are up in arms since the Y2K Scare, the date May 5, 2000 was found out to be scrolled on Albert Einstein’s diary and the coming Mayan December 21, 2012 Apocalypse – a Ouija Board app for your Smartphone. But what is a Ouija Board you may ask?

A Ouija Board is an occult board / paraphernalia often used by spiritual mediums. The board consists of letters and numbers, including the words “yes” and ”no” printed on it that is used with a planchette to seek spiritualistic or telepathic messages. The origin of the name Ouija comes from the French word “oui” and the German word “ja” – both of which translates to “yes” in English. Whether or not it was in use before the Victorian era, Ouija Boards had been a traditional symbol for Halloween for centuries – right up there with carved likeness of Samhain using pumpkins.  

Given that the layout and use of a typical Ouija Board easily translates to use into the screens of every Smartphone – and even touch-screen capable tablet computers currently made by leading manufacturers, it could be quite fun for this Halloween to check out if a newfangled app version of the Ouija Board is as effective as it’s traditional “wooden” counterpart. At least Ouija Board Apps can be a good way to contact the dearly departed that made our internet age possible. Just post it here if Nikola Tesla or Steve Jobs had any new to say for the 2012 Halloween. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

M-Pesa: Kenya’s Bank For The Masses?

Given that most Kenyan’s don’t have a bank account, can the mobile phone based e-banking firm M-Pesa already claim the title as Kenya’s “Bank for the Masses?

By: Ringo Bones

To the uninitiated, M-Pesa is a money transfer service and it is how most Kenyan citizens send and receive money and pay their utility bills using the country’s established mobile phone or cellular phone network. Currently, there are 28,000 M-Pesa shops across Kenya and given that only a few Kenyans have bank accounts and yet almost all of them have mobile and cellular phones or have ready access to the internet, it is no wonder why M-Pesa, as a service provider, is a runaway success throughout Kenya.

M-Pesa is the brainchild of Safaricom and was launched 5 years ago and is made possible by the introduction of high-speed internet in Kenya. Despite its popularity, service interruption still occurs – even days at a time – because cable theft is still a big problem in Kenya that could shut down the local internet service for days. Despite of the disadvantages, Kenyans swear by M-Pesa because it is the securest form of on-line and mobile phone based money transfer they have so far. Competing systems have yet to gain a foothold in the country.

And by October 2012 – M-Pesa could become more secure when Kenya’s communications commission will start a comprehensive ban on counterfeit mobile phones to avoid fraud that could compromise the country’s famed mobile phone based money transfer service. Mobile phone users will then be required to enter their authentication code to make sure that they are a genuine M-Pesa client and not someone out to defraud money from legitimate users. Are taxis, buses and hotels in Nairobi already accepting fares via M-Pesa? Some prospective tourists already want to know.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Yahoo!: An Evil Internet Company?

With corporate actions somewhat contrary to Google’s “do no evil” ethic, is Yahoo! – citing the Jerry Yang era Shi Tao debacle – a bona fide evil internet company?

By: Ringo Bones  
It was during the Jerry Yang era Shi Tao debacle that many saw Yahoo! - as an internet company that seem to easily voluntary provide their clients’ private data to despotic regimes at the expense of their clients’ opportunity for a due process – as an internet company / search engine / e-mail provider that is the polar opposite to Google and their “do no evil” ethic. Given that the internet has been a force of good to those who seek a peaceful and bloodless means of inciting a political change in despotic regions of the world, does Yahoo’s recent actions during the past 10 years of easily providing private data of their clients to despotic regime already tarnished their reputation as a reputable internet company?

Back in 2002, Yahoo! inexplicably seems to readily provide the Beijing government with pertinent private data that eventually lead to the conviction of one of their clients – a Mainland Chinese political activist by the name of Wang Xiaoning. This lead to the eventual conviction of the pro-democracy activist back in 2003 resulting from somewhat less than fair court proceedings. Wang Xiaoning has just been recently released by the Beijing government during the end of August 2012 after serving a ten-year prison sentence.

In the course of his political activism before his decade-long incarceration, Wang Xiaoning had used his Yahoo Mail account to distribute pro-democracy material to other activist elsewhere in Mainland China. Even though Yahoo! has since apologized to Wang Xiaoning’s family, the damage has already done and Yahoo! – for all intents and purposes – is now seen by “internet hacktivists” as Google’s evil brother whose day-to-day corporate running seem oblivious to the concept of corporate social responsibility, let alone a private individual’s civil liberties. Which only makes me wonder if Yahoo! had already bought a really good reputational risk insurance policy before the company set up shop?   

Bones Eye Tea [Yahoo, Wang Xiaoning Case]   

Friday, September 14, 2012

Bettina Wulff And Her Google Problem

Used to only affect prejudiced American politicians like Rick Santorum, but is the former German First Lady now has a “Google Search Problem”?

By: Ringo Bones

A few days ago, Bettina Wulff – wife of former German President Christian Wulff – launched a defamation lawsuit on Google because the famed internet company’s search engine suggests that she has a somewhat “racy” past because of its autocomplete function. Given that this sort of “street-cred” is something a woman of her standing doesn’t need and she’s not the first political personality to be a victim of a well-orchestrated on-line smear campaign, are the “overlords” of Google in their “ivory towers” at Mountain View and Palo Alto really the ones’ at fault here?

A few years ago, a prominent gay rights activist in America launched a smear campaign against homophobic GOP politician by the name of Rick Santorum. With the help of other net-savvy gay rights activist in America and elsewhere in the world, whenever you Google Rick Santorum, the search result is something about the less than savory aspects of male gay sexual intercourse that’s only appropriate for those 18 or older. Scores of computer-savvy hacktivists – an overwhelming majority of them probably not employed by Google – probably used esoteric search engine optimization techniques so that whenever one use Google to search for Santorum this day and age, a less than palatable search result often returns.

Is something similar at work here with the former German First Lady Bettina Wulff? Well, based on news that came out of Germany during the past few years, former German President Christian Wulff has never been hated by net-savvy anarchists in Germany or the rest of the Eurozone to warrant such  politically motivated search engine optimization based smear campaign directed at his wife on such a wide scale. Work of a lone high-level cyberstalker, perhaps?

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Apple-Samsung Lawsuit Saga: Stifling Innovation in the Tech World?

Does the latest Apple versus Samsung copyright lawsuit eventually stifle innovation in the global mobile smartphone and tablet computer industry? 

By: Ringo Bones 

Back in August 25, 2012, a US jury in a California court decided that South Korea based tablet computer and smartphone manufacturer Samsung should pay Apple 1.05 billion US dollars for copyright infringement – i.e. Samsung used Apple’s technology in the manufacture of its best selling tablet computers and mobile smartphones in the Galaxy III series. To us mere consumers, the two companies’ products started to look almost exactly alike during the past few months – making one wonder if Samsung had just got the license from Apple to manufacture its own version of i-Phones and i-Pads. 

The court jury’s ruling states that Samsung deliberately stole Apple’s copyrighted technology to manufacture their own versions of the i-Phone and the i-Pad for profit. Sadly, it is usually us, the consumer, who loses in these types of titanic copyright infringement corporate battles because the money that could have been spent on product innovation are now being spent on copyright lawyers and in the complex world of patent law, copyright lawyers tend to be a dead-end investment in terms of profit returns – which means passing the expense to the consumer via higher product prices. And Samsung is at a disadvantage since Apple could pursue the case to deny entry of Samsung products in US territories.    

Even though Samsung was found guilty by US courts of copying critical features in the most popular mobile computing products of its main rival Apple, it could be that Samsung sales here in the Far East could remain unaffected. Samsung’s version of Apple’s most popular i-Phone and i-Pad variants are on average one-third the retail price of Apple’s – especially in Singapore and Hong Kong. But sadly, during Monday’s (August 27, 2012) trading, Samsung’s stocks took a rather steep dive wiping off 12 billion US dollars off the company’s value in the greatest single day loss in the famed South Korea based tech company. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

London 2012: Most Social Olympic Event Ever?

Given that there’s already a world-class wi-fi infrastructure already installed around every venue, how will our compulsive social network sharing shape the London 2012 Olympic Games? 

By: Ringo Bones 

Unlike the 2008 Beijing Olympics where the internet infrastructure of the People’s Republic of China had a robust government run censorship system already installed, the way more inclusive and egalitarian London 2012 Olympics had already become – with the uncensored warts and all – the most talked about Olympic Games on the planet if you look at the existing social network sites. And the games haven’t even started yet.
With an extensive wi-fi infrastructure already up and running at every venue, companies are already busy purchasing the broadcasting rights of their adverts on every social network platform that would be used during the 10 or so days of the Olympic Games. But will these companies eventually profit from their advertising investments that will be directed to a largely “passive” audience? 

Too soon to tell yet whether companies will benefit from their social network adverts uploaded during the duration of the London 2012 Olympics, but the UK government is far more enthusiastic about social network coverage and the on-going impact of social media by installing a massive light art sculpture in the London Eye that translate positive and negative Twitter feeds into some psychedelic light display - on the famed giant Ferris wheel. Even Boris Becker – veteran Olympian of the 1988 and 1992 Olympic Games – already has a sizeable Facebook and Twitter following. 

If social networks have their upsides – there are downsides too. A choice number of spectators lucky enough to be picked and invited to witness the dress rehearsal of the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics on July 23, 2012 who are supposedly sworn to secrecy not to talk about any “spoilers” of what they’ve seen – though only some of them – can’t control themselves and blabbed about what they’ve seen on the social network of their choice. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Yahoo’s Google Sourced Tech Support: Corporate Shot in the Arm?

Will the latest Google-sourced new executive of Yahoo finally take the ailing tech firm out of the financial doldrums? 

By: Ringo Bones 

Every Yahoo executive that had been replaced due to their inability to take the tech firm out of the financial doldrums had been fodder of late-night comedians during the past few years - especially when the punch-line of the joke goes “just found out he or she is being replaced while using Google’s search engine”. But will a new Google-sourced executive finally make Yahoo’s bottom line economically viable again? 

Tech firm Yahoo recently announced the appointment of former Google executive Marissa Mayer as their new chief in July 17, 2012. Meyer was the first woman engineer at Google. Not only that, Marissa Mayer is also currently pregnant with a baby due out in October. Will this move finally spell success for Yahoo since the tech firm has been facing an uphill battle in recruiting top I.T. talent from both Google and Facebook for a couple of years now? 

Given that it became the widely-accepted search-engine used by ordinary non-I.T. tech people years before it was overtaken by Google, Yahoo (officially spelled Yahoo! – with an exclamation point at the end) has since been facing an uphill competition with the upstart Google for over a decade. As far as I know, it is only here in South-East Asia or in some parts of India, places where there are more Yahoo! users than Google. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Fake Facebook Users: The Bane of F-Commerce?

As the latest investigative report pointed out that companies might be wasting their money on social media adverts, does this spell the death knell of f-commerce? 

By: Ringo Bones 

Ah, f-commerce – the supposedly hipper, younger version of e-commerce that’s born out of the recent boom of handheld and mobile devices that can access the internet, especially leading social media sites like Facebook. But will this upstart on-line advertising business model soon be spoiled by fake Facebook users / profiles opting to click the like button? 

As the latest investigative report in the BBC – which was aired back in July 13, 2012 – pointed out that companies buying Facebook adverts are merely wasting their money due to most of the users clicking the like button are largely composed of fake or phantom users / profiles. Quite sobering, given that companies opting to paying good money for adverts on Facebook are probably just in it for the “like button clicks”. Sadder still, the investigative report also pointed out that most of those “authentic” Facebook users who opt to click the like button are simply doing it at random and probably have no interest in the company advertising their products or services whatsoever. 

A typical Facebook advert usually gets about 3,000 likes during the first 24 hours of posting. How much of these likes are from authentic users – or users who genuinely like or have used and liked the products and services being advertised are a different question entirely. Sadly, the “powers-that-be” on Facebook are currently quite reluctant to crack down on fake / phantom profiles and users unless they violate Facebook’s community standards as they are paid upfront by companies advertising on the famed social media site who are only doing so for the like button clicks. It might be a different story if these phantom / fake users start behaving like that notorious Nigerian Prince and start swindling Facebook out of millions of dollars. 


Saturday, March 3, 2012

Should the Next Generation of Smartphones and Tablet Computers Be Tailored for Asian Users?

Given that India and the People’s Republic of China are now the fastest growing purchasers of the latest smartphones and tablet computers - should the next generation of these devices be more tailored to Asian users?

By: Ringo Bones

Even though these miracles of modern technology are designed in the West and then manufactured in the low-wage parts of the Far East, does it make good sense for the major “Westward Looking” consumer electronic companies start tailoring their next generation of smartphones and tablet computers for Asian users/customers? As of October 5, 2011, India and Mainland China had been shown from case studies to be slowly but continuously shown increasing demand for smartphones and tablet computers. And in these places, smartphones and tablet computers are for all intents and purposes the only way for ordinary people to access the internet.

Could we be seeing standard Mandarin and Sanskrit capable smartphones and tablet computers in the near future? Maybe, but given the internet had been very slow to adapt languages that doesn’t use the ubiquitous Roman letters, many see it as one of the obstacles in tailoring a significant number of next generation smartphones and tablet computers that could seamlessly be introduced to Indian Mainland Chinese markets, not to mention those that don’t use Roman letters in their written communications like Thai, Urdu or Pashtu.

But given retail consumerism that has been steadily shifting Eastward – as in toward the Mainland China and the Indian subcontinent, major consumer electronics firms may be ignoring this major chunk of the market at their own peril. Or maybe it could initiate a spin-off in devices that could smartly translate any written non-Roman lettered languages into something we at the deeply insular West can finally understand.