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Assorted Buzz Topics and Tidbits in the 2014 Digital Arena

We all know that the digital age is evolving at a dizzying pace. Now that it’s the end of 2014, it’s probably time to take a step back and scan the multitudes of issues, events, happenings and new information out in cyber land. So, I’ve decided to choose a few tidbits and buzz issues that represent what’s going on. Please remember that these are but a few out of thousands of note-worthy topics, and if I’ve left out one you think is important, please let me know.

 

Cyber Security Issues

Let’s start with the cyber security issue and ID protection column from last month. The Huffington Post as well as many other publications has indicated that 40% of shoppers intend not to shop this season at stores that had security issues like Target and Home Depot. Barnes and Noble, Dairy Queen, UPS Stores, Albertsons’s in Washington State, Montana and many, many other stores (chains and non-chains alike), have had security breaches. Now the questions become:

  • Who are the hackers?
  • What is the reason for the hacking?
  • What are the consequences? And
  • What do we do about it?

 

Travel-related Apps

SheRides is a new car service and app in New York City. All of the drivers are women as well as the customers. The app is currently available for iphones, but the company expects to make it available for android users although when, is anyone’s guess). SheRides drivers all wear pink scarves as their recognition badge. The company was founded by a mother and daughter who were taxi drivers. They are initiating a programming to recruit and train 1999 female drivers across the five boroughs.

Smartphones as Hotel Room Keys

Everything in the Digital Age is evolving quickly, and smartphones are leading the way. Communication pundits predict that smartphones will be used as a “remotes for a variety of things. One of these things is becoming a reality with the entry access for your hotel room. Most hotels don’t use metal keys any more. They use an impregnated card you swipe in the designated slot on your door. This new app that enables your smartphone to open your door is the next logical step.

Starwood is the first hotel group to initiate this and Hilton will also use this kind of app. The BBC reported this on November 3, 2014. It reported that, “Starwood is to begin giving hotel guests the option to by-pass check-in and simply use their smartphones to enter their hotel rooms.” The app/system uses Bluetooth technology. The Hilton’s system will use its own encrypted secure channel to ensure true security (hopefully). Of course there are concerns, but that’s part of innovative technology.

Staying Connected While Travelling

Carnival Cruise Lines owns none cruise lines from the luxurious Seaborn to the rather infamous Costa. In fact, it owns nearly half of the world’s cruise ships (most of the other half is owned by Royal Caribbean). While cruising is one of the most luxurious and no-hassle vacation you can take, it has gotten along without the internet and communications we all grown accustom to. Depending on the ship and where you are, access to your email, etc. can be frustratingly slow and equally expensive.

Carnival has just launched its new and extremely fast Wi-Fi, acknowledging that most people don’t want to be disconnected from the world while on vacation. WiFi@Sea is comprised of, “land-based antennas that deliver long-range Wi-Fi along cruise routes (up to 40 miles); in-port Wi-Fi when docked; and satellite-based Wi-Fi when a ship is in open waters,” writes Digital Trends. Carnival intends to have all ships equipped this way by 2016. Interestingly enough, each ship will have its own price schedule. What that will be based on is not known.

Charitable Innovations?

Fundraising is certainly not new to technology what with the fundraising programs like Razor’s Edge that have been around for 20 years. But, what is more recent is online fundraising? Yes, I know that it too has been around for at least 15 years, but the methodology has become far more sophisticated and effective. I find the metamorphosis of online funding fascinating.

 

Take GoFundMe.com as an example of a new wave of charitable fundraising minus the charitable status. It gives its mission as “The World’s #1 Personal Fundraising Website.” The most common categories include medical, memorials, emergencies and sports related project needs. The campaigns really span the human condition from fires, funerals, and disasters to enabling dreams, saving lives and preparing for life.

 

They have a host of support services they claim including a mobile app. They have a bit of information on their site, and it does look convincingly above board. Have there been scams?

I don’t know. I haven’t investigated GoFundMe in-depth. The one thing I can say is that it is an interesting idea made possible by the immediate and sophisticated new media communications of the digital age.

 

New Domains

GoDaddy, the venerable don of domain names has launched what seems like a campaign to me, to spread the word about a host of new domain urls. Of course we know about the .coms, .net, .org, .us, etc. Now you can buy: .attorney, .church, .club, .xyz and .guide, .global, .email, .website, .guru, .army, and if you qualify you can even buy a .nyc.


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