Monday, December 31, 2012

Announcement: Samsung's New TV to Compete with Apple in 2013

Samsung's new portrait transparent TV (not yet released)

Samsung is attempting to pre-empt Apple by releasing a portrait-style TV that boasts a transparent background.

Our world continues to move the way of Ray Bradbury’s book, “Fahrenheit 451,” where TV’s become such an important part of the lifestyle, that they take up entire walls (and people cannot unglue themselves from it long enough to do anything).

Samsung posted the above picture on their blog, Samsung Tomorrow. People are speculating what the picture is actually insinuating. I’ll leave it up to you to decide for yourself.

Will Samsung become the next Apple in terms of high-tech electronics?

Some could say that Samsung is already doing a good job competing.

You may already know that Samsung Galaxy III smartphones outsold the iPhone in Q3 sales in 2012.

Samsung is trying to make waves before Apple releases the Apple TV that is supposed to shake up the television industry. According to the Mac Observer, Tim Cook went on record about seriously moving Apple into the television market.

If Apple does release TV’s in 2013, they will have to go head-to-head with Samsung in a battle of technology between two electronic giants.

You may already know that Samsung Galaxy III smartphones outsold the iPhone in Q3 sales in 2012.
Are you ready to upgrade to a portrait–shaped transparent TV?

The world has not yet fully embraced the 3D TV yet. What makes Samsung think that their new TV will be successful?

There are too many questions, and Samsung has yet to make an official announcement (in words) what their latest TV will do, and why it is far superior to an Apple TV.

It sounds like Mac vs. PC all over again, but this time in the TV market. 2013 is going to be a big year.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Screen New Movies in Your Home with PRIMA Cinema

PRIMA Cinema Player

PRIMA Cinema Hard Drive

The PRIMA Cinema is a personal theater system that allows someone to download movies via broadband at the same time that they hit theaters. This system allows you to watch those movies from the comfort of your own home. A working internet connection is required at the start of a film, but internet connections will not disrupt the playback of a film.

The only catch is that each new release costs $500.00 per movie. This is a small price to pay to avoid theaters and people altogether. This is the perfect system for hermits and vampires. You never have to interact with people again! Although, at $500.00 per movie, I can picture myself inviting 50 people over and charging $10 a head. Or how about 25 friends at $20 a piece? You may want to read the fine print first. Screening a PRIMA Cinema movie to neighbors and friends may be illegal.

PRIMA Cinema is a game-changer. Before, only a few insiders of the entertainment industry were allowed to screen theatrically-released films in their own home. Prima Cinema now allows anyone (with the cash) to do just that. But the Frequently Asked Questions section says that “Members can enjoy films as long as they are available in the public Box Office.”

Does this mean that once a movie leaves theaters that it is no longer viewable on your PRIMA Cinema?
The Prima Cinema has two hardware pieces: the rack-mountable PRIMA Cinema Player and the PRIMA Biometric Reader. After all, we can’t let just anyone download your movies. These movies are secure and only available to you -- the PRIMA Cinema owner.

PRIMA Cinema uses proprietary technology, which comes with 3D support and claims to have better picture clarity and deeper color tones than your standard Blu-ray players. They are also compatible with Dolby TrueHD audio format.

The PRIMA Cinema sounds awesome, but it seems that only the rich will be able to enjoy this product.

Finally, someone thought of a way to legally download movies.

The official website can be viewed here.

An example of a home PRIMA Cinema system

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Learn Different Types of Bank Transactions

Sign outside Anchor Bank
Anchor Bank sign
If you are like me, then you check your bank account balance online regularly. You can do this with an app on a smartphone, or with a computer, depending on if your bank offers an app and online banking.

There are many different banks (just to name a few):

  • Capital One, N.A.
  • Regions Bank
  • Bank of America
  • Wachovia Bank
  • SunTrust Bank
  • First National Bank
  • National Bank
  • USAA Bank
  • Redstone Federal Credit Union
  • BB&T
  • Citibank
  • Chase
  • Citizen's Bank
  • Fifth Third Bank
  • KeyBank
  • PNC Bank
  • TD Bank
  • U.S. Bank
  • Wells Fargo

Beside transactions on your bank statement, you will see symbols. These define what type of transaction has taken place. Below you will see what each two-letter code stands for as a transaction.

You may ask yourself the following questions:

  • What does PU transaction type mean?
  • What does AW transaction type mean?
  • What does CD transaction type mean?
  • What does ND transaction type mean?

But do you know what all of the transaction types are in the pending section?

Banks have many transaction types (below are just a few):

"PU" stands for purchase.
"AW" stands for account withdrawal.
"CD" stands for cash deposit.
"ND" stands for night deposit.

Below you will see an example of what these transaction types look like on your account if you view from an online statement.

Pending transactions on online bank statement

I deposited checks totaling $100.00 into my checking account, however my bank statement showed it going in twice, with two different transaction types beside each deposit.

I called the bank customer service and they told me they will make a note to take a look at this, since it shouldn't credit my account twice.

You should now be able to identify the different transaction types when viewing your online bank statement.

Image Source: Flickr Creative Commons; by I-5 Design & Manufacture

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Newtown Gun Control Solution: We Need 'Smart' Guns

Gun with dynamic grip recognition technology
The New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) received $2 million seven years ago to develop a gun with a biometric locking mechanism that will only work with one owner. The 32 pressure sensors built into the gun's handle will only work with the registered owner grip. The handle recognizes the pattern, and is unlocked. It's called Dynamic Grip Recognition technology.

New York City Children's Choir

In the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut tragedy, SNL opened with a Silent Night tribute, featuring the New York City Children's Choir. Tastefully done.

Sandy Hook's elementary school experienced a shooting that forever changed that community, and left lawmakers wondering what they should do.

Before you say that gun control, taking away guns from law-abiding citizens is not a simple solution, and it leaves responsible people without a way to defend themselves.

The Newtown elementary shooter, Adam Lanza, reportedly took his mothers assault gun and handguns registered to his mother.

How do you stop something like this from happening again?

With smarter guns.

Don't take gun rights away from the people. Make the guns smart enough to recognize its owner.

James Bond with gun
In the latest James Bond movie, Q gives James a gun that will only fire when he holds the gun, thanks to high-tech biometric scanner in the gun. Rumors have it that even upcoming Apple products will have tech that locks out un-authorized users from gaining control.

Huffington Post shares this in a recent article:
"In the recent Bond movie, Skyfall, the throwback super agent is equipped with a handgun -- calibrated to his handprint -- that only fires when it is in his grip. In a scene where Bond loses the weapon, his life is saved when his enemy is unable to fire the weapon at him. Similar technology, fingerprint recognition, is available now and is used in many contexts: for example, in the workplace to clock workers in and out, on computers to limit unauthorized access, within door locks to prevent unwanted entry. Apple's recent pursuit of a company that specializes in this technology is fueling speculation that its devices will soon have a fingerprint recognition application to bar unauthorized use. If we will have the ability to limit access to Angry Birds through fingerprint scanning technology, surely we should adapt it to real-life killing machines."

I say: "Don't take guns away from everybody and anybody. Instead, make tougher restrictions to keep guns out of the hands of unauthorized and unstable people. For example, Canada has a 28-day waiting period when registering for a firearm, and two people must vouch for the person buying the gun.

We need to adopt something similar to Canada's requirements. But until then...we need smarter guns.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Duck Dynasty Season 2 Christmas Episode

Duck Dynasty Christmas Special
Santa Willie and Elf Si with Elf ears in Duck Dynasty Christmas episode

DuckDynasty’s Season 2 special Christmas episode (#28) first aired on Wednesday (12/05/12). This episode is titled: "I'm Dreaming of a Redneck Christmas"

Spoilers ahead.

"Elf" Si Robertson
Hey! Uncle Si is an elf, not a mind reader!
Here are the highlights from this episode:
Crazy Uncle Si (pronounced “Cy”) was talked into dressing up like one of Santa’s elves. He was hesitant at first, but finally gave in. This included wearing green pointy shoes, and pointy ears. Si said he didn't mind dressing up like Spock from Star Wars and destroying the Death Star. Plus, he said he was good at doing the Volkswagon Death Grip, and gave his version of the Live Long and Prosper hand sign from Star Trek.

Elf Si Robertson with Tinsel
Uncle Si with Christmas tinsel

Jase Robertson
Jase Robertson explaining he is into the true meaning of Christmas
Jase Robertson says he is into the true meaning of Christmas, best stated with the three F's: Faith, Family, and Facial hair. Jase further explains that he doesn't understand about all of the work that is put into decorating for Christmas.

Uncle Si Robertson in Warehouse
Uncle Si admits that he is lazy and that Jase is just making excuses
Si indicates that the last time he dress up was in a sheep outfit, while in rice patties during the Vietnam War. He said he only dresses up when it is something he wants to wear. But Si eventually gives in to wearing the Elf outfit.

Willie, CEO of Duck Commander, gave Si orders to bring the gifts for the kids. Uncle Si went to the Duck Commander Warehouse, and loaded a black garbage back with office supplies.

Santa Willie handing out gifts
Santa Willie giving office supplies (tape dispenser) to kids
Then when Santa Willie reached in the gift back for a toy, he first pulled out a duck call. He then pulled out a tape roller, a dust pan, a sleeve of cups, and a printer cartridge. The kids were less than impressed. They didn’t want their “Christmas toys.” Santa Willie finally ended up giving the last child a $20 dollar bill, and Uncle Si was in shock, because he didn't feel that the kids deserved it.
Santa Willie and Uncle Si elf giving a sleeve of cups to a little boy
Si Robertson in Elf hat
Uncle Si wearing Elf costume saying that kids are "spoiled rotten"

Willie in Santa costume giving little girl $20
Willie said that Uncle Si was like out of a horror movie because he was scaring the kids. Uncle Si said they deserved to be on the naughty list. He said that kids would tape up two items anyway and make a home-made toy out of non-toy items. He then attempted to give a ball of twine to a kid. The child just looked quizzically at Santa Willie and Elf Si because he didn’t know what to do with it.

Meanwhile, COO Jase Robertson and the other Duck Commander workers were asked to hang Christmas lights from the elder Robertson house, in exchange for some homemade Sweet Potato Pies. They wind up breaking many sets of lights because Jase “can’t catch” on the roof.

They are later instructed by Miss Kay (“Momma”) Robertson to lose the extension cord dangling from the roof. This means they have to re-do their lighting job, which takes far longer to do than the original job. After this is completed, Miss Kay says that she wanted “all” of the lights hung, and pointed the boys to the storage shed with boxes upon boxes of more Christmas lights. She retorts that the boys wouldn’t want “half a pie, would they?” insinuating that they only did half of a job, and half of a sweet potato pie would be the equivalent compensation of their work.

Miss Kay also reminds her husband, Phil Robertson – the patriarch of the family – that he needs to cut her down a Christmas tree. After searching high and low on the Robertson land, Miss Kay does not find anything suitable to bring home. She then tells Phil they need to go to a Christmas tree farm. Phil is not fond of buying anything that he can get from his own land, but agrees to buy a “Yuppie tree” to satisfy Miss Kay. They get to the Christmas tree farm and Miss Kay ruminates on the right tree for a while. Phil sits down on the ground. Miss Kay finally settles on the perfect one, and Phil slices it down with a chainsaw. 

They get home with the tree and it is touching the ceiling, so Phil makes a last minute adjustment to the base of the tree trunk with his chainsaw – in the living room.
Miss Kay hinted to Phil that the tree needed decorating. He was happy with the tree being au natural. Then CEO Willie Robertson started stringing lights in a sloppy manner on the tree. The women of the family did not approve, so they took over, decorating the tree with the children.

Willie then said that it wasn’t important how good the tree looked, as much as it was creating memories with the family at Christmas.

Si Robertson pouring tea into cup
Uncle Si pouring himself a cup of sweet tea in elf costume
This episode was full of transition shots that included: Christmas lights breaking, crushed peppermint sprinkled into a bearded mouth, Elf Si pouring himself a glass of tea, Christmas ornaments breaking on the ground, and other Christmas-themed slow motion shots. Very cool.

Uncle Si is the Master of Distractions
Uncle Si quote about his ninja skills
Duck Dynasty has aired news episodes on Wednesday nights, and has broken cable television records for viewers watching. This includes beating out shows like “American Horror Story” on FX, “Chicago Fire” on NBC, and “Nashville” on ABC.

Uncle Si wearing his elf ears in Christmas episode

More posts on Duck Dynasty:
Read Duck Dynasty Returns for Season 4 With Vow Renewal Ceremony
Read Duck Commander Phil Robertson is Speaker at SoCal Harvest 2013

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

New Existential Risk Center to Prevent Future 'Terminator' Takeover

"Terminator Robot" Source: thedot_ru

The University of Cambridge is starting a new center that will study the risks of existential threats to humans. This includes artificial intelligence (A.I.) in robots and computer games, developments in biotechnology and artificial life, nanotechnology, and climate change. It is referred to as the Center for the Study of Existential Risk, or CSER.

The official website states, “Our aim is to establish within the University of Cambridge a multidisciplinary research centre dedicated to the study and mitigation of risks of this kind. We are convinced that there is nowhere on the planet better suited to house such a centre. Our goal is to steer a small fraction of Cambridge's great intellectual resources, and of the reputation built on its past and present scientific pre-eminence, to the task of ensuring that our own species has a long-term future.”

Let me put that into terms that are much more understandable. To prevent an artificial intelligence (such as Skynet in the Terminator movies) from taking over the world, we need the Center for the Study of Existential Risk.

So before you forget that the AI on video games such as James Bond are harmless, be wary that some madman could easily put such software into a robot, as the hardware gets more advanced and more easily accessible. It's called advances in technology.

Then the human race is in real trouble, because the only way to stop an intelligent supercomputer is with an electromagnetic pulse that will fry all circuit boards in intelligent devices with the capability to exterminate the human race.

It may be time to get out the movie, I, Robot (2004) and watch it again, because let's face it - robots are getting smarter. It is only a matter of time before they send Terminator models from the future in search of John Connor.

Monday, December 03, 2012

iPhone App Review: Field Agent

Field Agent App icon

Field Agent App on iPhone

Field Agent is a great iPhone app to have, but it requires one major thing: TIME.

Once you download the app, you click on the orange app icon with a white tie. The Field Agent app will launch and then load jobs for your area.

I have noticed that many new jobs are populated and ready for Saturday.

Field Agent Experience:
After getting a list of jobs on the iPhone app, I decided to go down to Publix (grocery store) and attempt to complete some of the many assignments. When you select an assignment, it will give you an abbreviated title for the Product, and then will provide a suggested location for the product in the description area.
Field Agent App Job listings
I found that many jobs were being added on this Saturday morning. Many jobs would only last for a few minutes and then it would disappear, and new jobs would populate.

I didn’t accept the jobs unless I knew that I could complete the assignment. The app warns that it may be difficult to cancel the job once accepted, but it is quite easy to cancel a job assignment. The only downside may be that it hurts your agent completion score in the app.

What I found using the Field Agent app for specific grocery stores is that the items you are searching for may not be found at your local store. I was searching for items like cheese and beef jerky, and the UPC codes before and after this particular UPC were there, but the 10-digit UPC code was not in stock. That was frustrating.

Then, when I actually found one that was in stock, the bottled water did not list the ingredients or allergy warnings, which were required photos.

So the one item that was in stock, I took two pictures: one of the UPC, and one of the fronts of the package. The assignment required 4 pictures, including the allergy warning, and ingredient listing.
I submitted this assignment, and gave this explanation, but later received an email from Field Agent saying that my submission was denied.

I searched for at least 10 products in the job section, successfully found one, and that one submission was denied. This turned out to be quite a frustrating attempt to complete jobs with Field Agent.
But note that I have successfully completed one Field Agent assignment, taking a photo of the soft drink section at Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart tasks seem to be easier to accomplish.

The Field Agent iPhone App sounds cool in theory, but not all jobs are easy to find in grocery stores, and for an hour’s worth of time, you may only accomplish one task for $6.50.

Are you worth more than $6.50 an hour?

The reality is that Field Agent is not an easy way to make money. Don't expect to make a living off of it, and don't expect consistent job assignments. Cool app, but not an income reality.

Here is the bottom line on Field Agent. In theory, its a great app. It would be cool if a person could actually make a little money from it. The sad reality is that Field Agent often makes requirements for a completion that are impossible. You end up wasting your time. Too many pictures are rejected. They tell you to go to a location and take a picture of a display that is non-existent. Then you get the dreaded email from the support worker to your email saying they reject your submission because the picture isn't what they wanted. They need to let you take several pictures and they pick what they want.

Field Agent has wasted my time on several occasions when I though I would actually get a completion.

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