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The App That’s Selling You

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I just spent a week in lovely Costa Rica. My family and I swam, sailed, snorkeled, communed with wildlife and parasailed high above the Pacific Ocean.

We didn’t see any Pokémon. That’s because, unlike much of the rest of humanity, we weren’t looking for any using the app that’s taken the world by storm: Pokémon Go.

Surprisingly, my preteen daughter didn’t object to our Pokémon-free existence. To my great satisfaction, she appears to enjoy more cerebral pursuits… mostly.

But even if she’d begged me, I’d have refused to cave in. No Pokémon Go for us. That’s because I don’t fancy turning my family into tradable data points… and neither should you.

Unfortunately, Pokémon Go is the least of our worries in this respect…

Pokémon Go: The Product Is YOU

Old-timers like me remember actually paying for software. Remember upgrading to a new version of Windows or Microsoft Office every year or so? In those days, getting complex applications for free, like those available for today’s smartphones, was unthinkable.

That’s because, up until about five years ago, the software itself was the product from which developers made their profit. It was no different from selling cars, refrigerators or any other complex manufactured product.

No more. I still pay a nominal fee every year to “subscribe” to updates of some software products, but many that I use daily come completely free.

It’s not that they’re cheap to develop – quite the opposite. Today’s software is orders of magnitude more complex and powerful than the stuff for which we used to pay hundreds of dollars.

That’s because today’s software isn’t the revenue-generating part of the business model. It’s not the main thing being sold for profit.

You are.

Beware Geeks Bearing Gifts

Over the past few years, I’ve warned repeatedly that hacking is only one part of the digital-age threat. Less obvious – and more insidious – is the process by which you are turned into a commodity to be traded for profit by the companies whose products you use.

The best-known examples are big online outfits like Google and social networks like Facebook. Both provide their user-facing services for free. Both, however, spend most of their efforts not on improving those services, but on harvesting information about you that can be sold to the highest bidder.

My favorite example is the poor fellow who searched Google for “pancreatic cancer” and started seeing online ads for funeral homes. Another is the father who received a mailer from some company with the words “DAUGHTER KILLED IN CAR ACCIDENT” printed on the envelope. Some idiot had misconfigured the marketing algorithm, and the targeting criteria were being printed on thousands of mailers.

Google and Facebook (and many others) started out making money by selling microtargeted online ads to third parties like those funeral homes. But they quickly learned that they could make even more money by selling the data that advertisers use to do that microtargeting. Precise figures are hard to find, but given that marketing companies report 200% to 300% increases in revenue using such data, it’s safe to say that the big data harvesters are coining it by selling you to them.

Pokémon Go takes this one step further. It doesn’t have any adverts at all. To the user, it appears completely ad-free. But advertisers will still be paying to get at those users… in a much more dangerous way.

Boldly Going Where No App Has Gone Before

Pokémon Go has been downloaded 20 million times in the U.S. It’s just rolled out in Asia and Europe. Nintendo’s stock price has soared by more than 50% in two weeks. Pokémon Go has already overtaken Twitter in daily active users and is even closing in on Facebook.

While the app is free, users can make in-app purchases like lures to attract Pokémon to your location or “cages” to keep them in. However, the game is about to unleash one of the most potent advertising campaigns in digital history… all by selling frighteningly detailed information about its users.

For example, the app will soon offer “sponsored locations” to paying partners. Geotargeting and geofencing technology will allow advertisers to target specific buildings and match that to signals from mobile devices. Advertisers will know exactly where you are and serve ads based on your precise location – just like that infamous shopping-mall scene from Minority Report.

By paying Pokémon Go’s developers a big fee, a brand like McDonald’s (whose logo has already been spotted in Pokémon Go’s code) will be able to turn its stores into desirable locations in the Pokémon virtual universe. That will draw players to those locations, where they will be tempted to buy stuff “IRL” – in real life. Advertisers will be charged on a “cost per visit” basis, similar to the “cost per click” Google charges advertisers.

Gotta Catch ‘Em All

Initial reports that Pokémon Go harvests detailed Google account information, like the contents of emails, seem to have been incorrect.

But the app’s owners don’t need that stuff. They’re going for something bigger. They want to know your location at all times so they can sell that information to the highest bidder.

Justice Louis Brandeis once defined privacy as “the right to be let alone.” If that’s what you want, it’s up to you to ensure it happens.

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Finance

Home Extension Project – Six Ideas To Finance It

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A home extension can be an enormous project both in financial and physical work. There are walls to be torn down, air conditioners to be installed, and many other technical jobs to conduct. It is important that you have a good financial plan to do home extensions.

Here are some steps to help you manage the budget for renovations.

  1. Make plans for your extension project. It is important to arrange every detail of your project. Do assessment on every element on your home that you are about to renovate based on the value of your home. If you take loan for your project, the loan provider will ask on specific outlines. From this early step you will know if the project fit your budget.
  2. Get estimations. You can do this by hiring a construction company. Do not forget to explain the considerations and parameters of your project. Provide the company with the expecting spaces they are going to work on. Compare with several companies for the best price.
  3. Manage your savings. It is estimated that you have to take some money out of your reserves, but this is not something to be afraid of. The advantage of using your own saving is that you do not have to pay any interest. It is wise if you take only the sufficient amount. If you plan to use loan provider then the amount would be less burdened.
  4. Some credit cards provide the Zero-Interest program. Find some information about it. It is a quick way to provide loans for your project. The credit card companies also suggest reward programs for you to take advantage of, but some of these programs have high rate of interest. Make sure you have read the terms and conditions carefully to avoid being haunted by debt collector once your extension project has been finished.
  5. Use the home equity loan to finance your renovation project. It generally has lower rate of interest than many other financing programs. If you want to sell the home before paying down the loan, reducing the equity in the home can deplete the return of your investment.
  6. The best and cheapest way to get extra budget is by asking your family and friends to invest for your home extensions. Small works such as remodeling and cleaning up the furniture can be done together with them. But be careful not to break anything, because the cost to hire somebody again can cost you double.
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Learning The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Ordering Food And Other Items Online

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Lots of people have seen the benefits of ordering stuff online. This also includes ordering food and getting them delivered straight to your home. Most fast food chains now incorporate online ordering into their services and even restaurants are getting into the act. Perhaps you have even experienced doing this at one point. So perhaps, you may also be aware of the advantages that come with ordering your food online which also goes the same for other non-food items. For one, the virtual realm doesn’t sleep, unlike the actual marketplace. Hence, you can place your order at any time, although there are some stores that probably won’t delivery 24/7.

Second, nothing beats the comfort of doing your shopping online, especially your groceries. Lots of housewives have switched to doing this because it allows them time to do their other chores. Instead of wasting time rushing off to the supermarket and waiting long lines, you can just load up your online shopping cart, checkout the items, and wait for them to delivered straight to your doorstep. Third, you get to score lots of great discounts and possibly get your food items at way cheaper prices than in the supermarket. It’s especially true if you’re diligent in scouring the virtual marketplace for discount coupons, promo codes, and other hot deal. Plus, if you’re a first-time customer, lots of online stores love to give complimentary discounts as well.

However, as much as there are lots of benefits, there are also a few drawbacks. We cannot help having them because this is the virtual world after all. In other words, these risks come with the territory. One, you cannot really see the items in actual. When it comes to groceries, this can sometimes be a bit vital. You cannot check the labels for expiry dates, ingredients, and such. So to remedy the situation, stick with those online stores that actually provide complete product descriptions. It’s also highly recommended to do your shopping in general with trustworthy sites. The risk is even greater if you’re trying out a new product, so it’s good to check out sites giving away free samples first. Two, you cannot transact with actual cash. This can present a bit of an inconvenience, especially if you’re trying to refrain from using your credit card.

Nonetheless, a lot of food chains and restaurants allow cash-on-delivery orders. Some online stores selling groceries do as well. But these would usually apply to those stores which are within your neighborhood. This means that if you are going to order non-perishable food items, like maybe canned goods or candies and chocolates and they have to be shipped from outside your area, then you definitely cannot pay with cash. Lastly, even with today’s sophisticated technology, there are still glitches when it comes to paying for your food items online. Errors in billing are pretty common, even when seemingly secured channels are being used. Of course, established online stores will refund you, but you still have to go through some steps. So, just exercise the necessary caution needed when ordering anything online.

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How To Slim Down Your Fat Wallet

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Trends and styles keep on changing. From big fat wallets, the style has now changed to slim and smart wallets, for both men and women. If you are one of those who keeps on saying, “I hate big fat wallets”, then you need not to worry, as now you have many good options that can help in getting rid of your big fat wallet and can make you look smarter.

You can get rid of your fat wallet if you avoid keeping all the needless items that have made their way into your overflowing wallet. These unwanted items can include restaurant bills, old photographs, storage cards and a collection of visiting cards. Use a separate card-holder and maintain it at home. To store your important contacts, you can use gadgets and your cell phone. Most of the new phones these days come with practically unlimited storage for saving your contacts.

Cut down the thickness of your wallet by using plastic money instead of hard cash. Apart from curtailing the size of your wallet, plastic money provides the safest way to carry your money anywhere. It is advised not to carry more than two credit/debit cards. You can keep your identification card and a few dollars; and that too if necessary, otherwise credit cards will do the job.

Slim wallets are more preferred for men because a big fat wallet affects the flow of dress shirts, way of sitting and can even cause back pains because of the improper body structure when sitting with a fat wallet in your back pocket. Most companies are introducing much slimmer and fashionable wallets, available in different colors (like gold, silver), materials (like original leather and nylon) and trendy styles. One such style is bi-fold or tri-folding wallets. These wallets provide the required space. Some can even hold up to 15 cards and can easily be placed in your front pocket. Such wallets come with a magnetic money clip while some provide a strong and secure clutch. Money/Card Clip Holder is another type of wallet that is light on your back pocket, and these can also be placed in the front pocket. By using a clip, all the cards can be placed one over another, while the money has to be rolled back to let the clip make it hold.

What makes your wallet big and fat, is its untidiness and improper maintenance. People usually keep on filling it till it starts coming out of their pockets. Even women who often clean and maintain their pouches and purses, do not clean their wallets leaving all kinds of chits, paper reminders and visiting cards in their wallets. This results in the hassle of searching the wallet for the right thing when required.

Once you have removed all the unwanted items and follow the aforementioned tips and suggestions, you would no longer be saying, ” I hate big fat wallets ” and can save yourself from the frustration of carrying a bulky and disorganized wallet.

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Why You Should Never Settle Your Credit Card Debt

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Most people believe credit is a good thing, but the truth is credit is a tool being used against many consumers. The problem is the majority of the American population is broke and depends on credit for survival. Credit is managing debt and most people do not understand how to manage debt. The school system in the United States spend so much time teaching students how to live their lives in robotic fashion, that they forget lessons in money management. Everything from employment, renting a car, to booking a hotel depends on some form of credit. Credit is for poor people who do not have cash in abundance. This is a problem rich people do not have to worry about.

The United States is the richest country on the planet, but has the widest gap between the rich and poor. The CEO of Wal-Mart makes about $7,000 an hour as opposed to cashiers and other Wal-Mart employees who barely make $300 dollars a week. How can anyone manage debt and live a comfortable life earning that type of salary. Most people are taught to negotiate their credit card debt for a settlement and improve their credit. This is the biggest mistake any consumer can make. Consumer are unaware that anytime a credit card company settles a debt for $600 less than their delinquent balance, by law the card company has to report that to the IRS. This is critical for the consumer to know because the IRS will eventually 1099C the consumer. The consumer will have to pay taxes on the credit charged off by the credit card company. This is capitalism and unfair at the same time. However, what can a person who is already struggling to pay their bills do to protect themselves? They can let the creditor charge the debts off as a tax lose. When this happens the debt can no longer be collected by the creditor.

Many credit card companies will still sell their charged off accounts to collection agencies for pennies on the dollar. The collection agencies will convince many consumers that, if they do not pay this debt, that it will ruin their credit. Many consumers are unaware that paying a delinquent or collection account will not improve their credit score significantly enough to help them acquire more credit. Consumers should always request a validation of debt from collection agencies with full documentation. Most collection agencies cannot provide this information and will send the consumer a screen shot of balance acquired from the original creditor. They will sometimes send the consumer an Affidavit of Destroyed Instrument. This simply means they do not have the original paperwork. The consumer should always respond with a Sworn Affidavit of Denial and file a complaint with the Better Business Bureaus forcing the collection agency to produce the original contract, which in most cases they cannot.

The reality of our credit driven society is that cash is king. Credit is the whip used for modern day slavery and social economic control. Until people demand a change within our political, educational and credit system, they will be force to live their life as intellectual and labor prostitutes for rich men as well as the corporations they lead.

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4 Smart Steps to Earn Money From Home

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If you wish to earn money from home, it is possible provided you take certain steps beforehand. Remember – there are numerous strategies and opportunities to earn. However, you need to make adjustments in your life in different arenas. This is very crucial as each strategy or opportunity has its unique approach.

Mentioned below are 4 smart steps to be successful in your endeavor:

Fix Your Schedule Appropriately

Yes, it is true that you are leading a hectic lifestyle. Nevertheless, opportunities just come once. If you fail to make the most of it, you end up earning nothing. To earn money from home you do not have to dedicate more than a few hours. Mere one or two hours of work is enough. Remember – you need to show dedication and sincerity. For instance, if you decide to earn from affiliate marketing, it is better to exhibit true professionalism. Similarly, if you wish to work as an online article writer, ensure to keep your commitment. It is only then that you can expect to have a list of happy clients.

Organize Your Space And Other Needed Items

You can work right from the sofa in your house and earn thousands. If you are working as a freelance copywriter, you will need things like a laptop/computer and an internet connection. Make sure your device is at right order before you start to work. Depending on the type of work and strategy you adopt, the kind of space needed will keep varying.

Develop Short Term And Long Term Goals

Answer this question – what do you wish to accomplish? These can broadly be classified as short term and long term goals. Depending up on your goals, the strategies needed keep changing. Ideally, you ought to have mile markers as these keep you motivated. Here, the main question is not what your ability to do when it comes to your idea. More than that, it is what you yearn to achieve during your attempt. Evaluating your strategies at regular intervals to identify what is really working or simply figure out what’s not working. In this way you can ditch or modify the later altogether.

Institute Your Own Reward System

Irrespective of how small or big your goals are, make sure to reward yourself when you actually achieve something you have been striving for. The reward does not necessarily have to be expensive in nature. For instance, you can give a visit to your preferred shop at the mall. This small effort will keep you motivated to accomplish your next goal to earn money from home. At times your reward in the form of paycheck reaches you in months. Similarly, it takes less time at other times. The entire journey remains flooded with obstacles. Therefore, rewarding yourself gives you a pleasurable experience.

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Earn Money at Home – Quit Your Job

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I worked in the corporate world for many years. One day I was laid off from my job. I didn’t know what I was going to do. I had always lived from paycheck to paycheck. However, since I received a compensation of 4 months when I was laid off, I decided I would use this time and severance pay to find out what I really wanted to do.

I soon decided I never wanted to go back to a 9 to 5 full time job in the corporate world, even though I was making good money. I wanted to earn money at home, and get out of the rat race of going to the office 5 days a week, working for other people, and doing jobs that really did not interest me or fulfill me.

So in order to earn money at home I entered the world of internet marketing. Now, even though I worked in a legal firm and did use a computer for many years, I was not a computer wiz by any means. But I knew the basics of using a computer. That was all I needed to start.

I soon discovered a whole new world, which actually fascinated me. I realized there was a lot to learn, and I dove right into it. One of the first things that I learned was the different kinds of marketing online.

Writing articles and submitting them to article directories and article distribution sites is one of the best ways of advertising for free. You always have your link in the article pointing to your website or product. Article marketing is a great way to spread your content all over the internet. This is content that stays on the internet. The more articles you have out there, the more you are spreading your name and links virally. Other people may use your articles with your name and post them on their websites, as well, which gives you free exposure.

There are many forums on the Internet pertaining to the different niches. When you join these forums, you start interacting with people in your same business and building relationships. You want to build relationships because these are the people you will be working with and promoting products with. You contribute to these forums by answering any questions and helping others. You support each other and build joint ventures that can be very beneficial.

To earn money at home it is also a good idea to sign up to different internet marketing courses which help you to learn different skills and strategies. For example, you can learn how to make your own products by customizing PLR products. PLR products give you the right to edit them and put your name on them, as if you had created them. Then you can sell them to your customers and keep 100 percent of the sale. This way you have your own product.

You can also sell affiliate products. Internet marketers usually have an affiliate program whereby they pay you about a 50 percent commission to promote and sell their products. So it is very easy to promote other people’s products and make a commission, without having to go through all the trouble of creating the product yourself.

Another important thing to do is create your own blog, and post articles and have promotions on your blog. There are banner ads which you can obtain through the promotional tools of the sellers. Keep your blog updated constantly. You can also have copies of your blog posts automatically fed to Twitter and Facebook so this way you are constantly providing content to Twitter and Facebook. This creates a lot of exposure and builds up your following by providing good information. When these people read your articles, they can click on your links and see your offers.

You need to build up a list of subscribers through different offers and promotions. It is important to communicate with your list on a constant basis, about every 2 or 3 days. You set up an autoresponder system through Aweber or any other autoresponder service. You usually set up sequences of emails that they send for you at specific time intervals. So then you can email your list with content and promotions. Promote to them any new and exciting product that you find, as well as your own products, and send them copies of your articles and blogposts. They will appreciate getting good content.

A good idea is to also start a newsletter to have a better rapport with your list. Your list of subscribers is your most important asset, as these are the people that you will promote to. So it is very important to build a relationship of trust with them.

Go to webinars and read about internet marketing. Learn from good teachers that are going to teach you solid internet marketing strategies. When you are new in internet marketing you need guidance from someone who is successful and can teach you how to get there. Otherwise, you will probably end up wasting a lot of time and resources.

In short, my idea to earn money at home has sprouted into a great and wonderful career which I never expected. I love internet marketing, and find it extremely stimulating. Even though it takes a lot of work and determination, it is absolutely rewarding and profitable. It is a great way to earn money at home.

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