Privacy

Welcome to the New and Improved Planet4IT

Welcome to 2015!
Planet4IT is thrilled to wish you a Happy New Year.
And to remind you; whatever your employment goals for 2015 are, we’re here to help.

To help make your Planet4IT experience better, we are thrilled to introduce our brand new website!

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As we all know, the Digital Revolution is a fast paced, marathon of technological advancements and changes. Us at P4Digital, Planet4IT and P4Capital not only strive to teach you about these changes, but to teach by example as well!

Let’s take a tour of the new site.

The new Planet4IT has four sections.

Main Page – Planet4IT

Typing in our web address http://www.planet4it.com will take you to the main page of our site. This main page is our catch all – our broad base from which you can navigate to all that we have to offer. Here you can search jobs, sign up for job alerts, submit your resume, or if you are a company, hire us to help you find the perfect employee.

From this page you can also navigate to our other sub pages by clicking on the planet link in the top centre of the page.

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P4Capital

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P4Capital is our site that deals with jobs in the Capital Markets.

 

On this site you will find job postings and a variety of resources to help you find work, employees or just information on Capital Markets, and the current news about them.

To quote our website, P4Capital is: maintaining extensive networks and solid relationships with organizations and people in the Technology, Capital Markets and Wealth Management communities.

P4Digital

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P4Digital, as many of you already know, is our site that deals directly with the Digital Revolution. It’s what this blog has been about since its first post back in early 2014.

Like the new P4Capital site, here you can find jobs, employees and current news surrounding the digital revolution.

To once again quote our site, P4Digital is: maintaining extensive networks and solid relationships with organizations and people in the Technology, Digital Marketing and Data Analytic Communities.

P4Social

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P4Social is the hottest and newest part of our website. (Well, maybe not the hottest but it is certainly my favourite part!)

You’re on it – or its equivalent if you’re reading this on WordPress.com, right now!

Everything that has to do with communication and our brand can be found right here. All of our editorials, Podcasts, Livestreams and Youtube videos can all be found at this new site.

Like this lovely gem from last  year.

From here, you can check out all of our social media feeds from the simplicity of a single site, and that includes Twitter, Facebook, etc.

We will be continuing to Cross Post to WordPress.com for a while, but someone will always be behind the keyboard at P4Social to answer your questions.

So if you want to drop a line, submit a job or a resume, or even just say hi – you  know where to find us.

Thanks and happy 2015!

Amanda

 

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The Circle Book Review

Book Review
The Circle
By Dave Eggers
491 pages. Alfred A. Knopf/McSweeney’s Books. $27.95

Review by Allen Earle

I have a Facebook account. I’ve looked at it occasionally, posted practically nothing on it, and from time to time look at a picture posted by an acquaintance, or something “interesting” shared by a connection. I have never tweeted. (At my age, it takes more characters for me to say “hello” than Twitter permits me.) Needless to add that like many people of my generation (and yes, I’m a Boomer), I don’t “follow” anyone or anything.

Dave Egger’s novel The Circle describes a world that I’m just now really beginning to see and understand – but not like very much. It’s a very odd thing to find oneself in a setting that appears both very true-to-life, and at the same time utterly dystopian. And frankly, it’s just as hard to figure out whether Eggers’ intended world is one or the other.

“The Circle” of the title is the name of a company which seems to be an amalgam of Apple, Google, Microsoft, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and who knows what else. (Perhaps LinkedIn is too focused to have merited inclusion?) And The Circle is huge – over a billion customers and growing, each and every one with a single identity (“TruYou”). And each and every user can access everything in digital space to which The Circle has access.

The newest employee in this vast organization is Mae, who from the get-go thinks, “My God, [i]t’s heaven.” Mae starts as a kind of help-desk intern, answering clients’ questions and resolving their issues, always striving for service ratings measuring within a point or two of 100 (out of 100), and providing feedback on everything (“smile,” “frown” or “meh”). Her frenzied participation in everything begins making her increasingly popular and followed by The Circle clientelle. As we progress through Mae’s career in The Circle, we learn more and more about the leaders of this behemoth – the “Gang of 40” – and their focus (as befitting an organization controlling 90% of all data searches on earth) on increasing information available to everyone on the planet, to making everything – individuals, corporations, governments – transparently available to all.

And here is where the dystopian view creeps in. If, as the company’s motto affirms, “All that happens must be known,” then what happens to privacy? Who is the “private person” when everything in their life (with the exception of brief bathroom breaks) is under the possible scrutiny of all the other subscribers of The Circle?

And Mae certainly finds this out! Mae’s performance isn’t always perfect, but her willingness to open up publically about “what went wrong” leads to Mae herself helping to devise some of The Circle’s more important (and Orwellian) maxims: “Secrets are lies,” “Sharing is caring” and “Privacy is theft.” Mae sees, through her own experiences, much of the downside of this constant, but seems unable to acknowledge what she really ought to see. Rather, after one serious infraction against the “everything that happens must be known” rule (she takes a secret kayak trip off-camera), she commits to The Circle to “going transparent;” to making her life totally visible to all the membership of The Circle, except for brief bathroom breaks. (Yes, this leads to a little toilet humour – and sex.)

The reader wonders, as we move along, whether Mae will eventually realize the dangers of what’s going on and help free the world of it due to her immense popularity, or if she will commit the world to a 1984-like “Big Brotherhood.” I’ll avoid the spoiler, here.

A few days ago, the physicist Steven Hawking, commenting on the Artificial Intelligence that has speeded up the translation of his thoughts to vocalization, opined that there may well come a time when technology is so advanced – when AI can create its own advanced versions of itself while humans are condemned to wait upon the tediously slow process of evolution – that humanity might be rendered superfluous.

Are our technologies, and our increasing dependence and reliance upon (and perhaps even addiction to) them, leading us to a place where we cease to be humans capable of behaving like humans? Is the human mind capable of living sanely in a world in which that mind has no private place of its own? Those seem to me to be some of the questions that Eggers is asking, although I’m not sure he’s answered them. In a few plodding sections of the novel, Mae’s family and ex-boyfriend, the tedious Mercer, provide us with rather trite set speeches that say, “no.”

What frightened this reader most, though, was the simple recognition that in many ways, almost everything described in The Circleis happening today – or will happen very, very soon. But perhaps I ought to keep my thoughts on that eventuality private?


 allen

Allen Earle is a long-time IT techie, developer and manager, who presently takes good care of all of P4Digital’s contractors in the field, as well as keeping a sharp eye on our production stats. An insatiable reader, who also enjoys writing, he is P4Digital’s authority on all things Shakespeare.

A Pirates Life for No One

It might be the end of the road for all the pirates out there.

Let’s face it, most of us can attest to digitally pirating something in our lives. Whether it was an ill-gotten song when we were kids, to downloading the newest episode of Game of Thrones, the odds are we’ve all been guilty of this behaviour at some point.

Of course, all of us realized that this was wrong. I’m sure all of our readers are honest and upstanding citizens and don’t use products that have been illegally downloaded.

Right?

Well, things are about to get a lot harder for those individuals who continue to download all manner of things illegally from the Internet. At least if they use Google.

Google and Piracy

Google doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to online piracy. They’ve been blasted time and time again by Hollywood and other content owners for not doing enough to prevent links to pirated material from showing up in its search results.

What does online piracy mean exactly?

Now, Google hasn’t been ignoring online privacy by any means.

In 2012, they announced they’d demote the ranking of websites that received a large number of DMCA notices in their search results.

For many, this wasn’t enough. Many music and film rights holders accused Google of not doing enough to tackle copyright infringement.

In fact, an open letter sent mid-September to the European competition commissioner,  News Corp chief executive Robert Thomson branded the company a “platform for piracy and the spread of malicious networks.”

By the Numbers

Now, it can be difficult to put online piracy into perspective to understand why so many are so upset. The internet is a huge beast, using up as much energy as any of the larger countries out there. So how can anyone hope to understand how much of its use is illegal?

Check out these statistics to try to wrap your head around it.

  • According to a survey of Spain, 1 in 2 internet users there download illegal content.
  • More than 1 million illegal downloads of the Game of Thrones season four premiere were recorded in just half a day
  • The US economy loses $12.5 billion in revenue each year to it
  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was illegally downloaded more than 8 million times.
  • 42 percent of all computer software used around the world in 2010 was pirated.
  • More than 146 million visits were logged everyday at piracy sites in 2011.

Now that is a huge amount of traffic.

Google’s new front in the Piracy Battle.

In defence to these claims, Google published an updated How Google Fights Privacy report last week. This report explains how the search engine fights piracy across its services. It lists all the official numbers and developments.

Katherine Oyama is the Senior Copyright Policy Counsel. She claims that the Google has been testing many initiatives to combat privacy.

Currently, they are trying out new ad formats in their search results. These results mostly target searches related to music and movies. These ads will direct people to legitimate sources of media, rather than piracy sites.

For the searches for movies that include terms such as ‘download’, ‘free’, or ‘watch’, Google will list sources like Google Play, Amazon and Netflix.

These initiatives are currently only operational in the United States. Google has plans to spread it to the rest of the world.

Google has also developed an improved DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) demotion signal in Search.

What that means is that illegal search results (torrents or downloads) will no longer be at the top of the search page results. Instead they will be on later pages, and near the bottom of those pages. Legitimate, legal sites like Amazon or Google will instead take the top spots.

In addition to this search result demotion, Google is also targeting the searches themselves. More terms are being removed from Google auto-complete, based on legitimate DMCA removal notices.

Despite all these policies and initiatives, Google claims that the best way to battle piracy is for content owners to distribute their works via legitimate digital services.

Google maintains that the best way to battle piracy is for content owners to distribute their works via legitimate digital services.

“As services ranging from Netflix to Spotify to iTunes have demonstrated, the best way to combat piracy is with better and more convenient legitimate services. The right combination of price, convenience and inventory will do far more to reduce piracy than enforcement can.” — How Google Fights Privacy report

 

Repercussions

Updates began rolling out globally last week.

Sites like rapidgator.net, filestube.com and dilandau.eu, each of which has received at least 11 million individual take down requests, will likely be the first targetted.

It will be interesting to see how these new copyright initiatives will affect legimate sources of creative art. There is a bevy of original art on the internet based off of other people’s creations.

Such as this Game of Thrones piece of fanart by artist Gigei deviantart.com

It certainly looks like Winter is Coming for all the Pirates out there!

It knows your face!

I remember going to see Minority Report when I was in high school. The movie was lacklustre, but one thing stuck out in my mind – the custom advertisements that reacted to Tom Cruise’s eyes.

Tom Cruise in Minority Report

For those of you who don’t remember or skipped the movie, the premise was this: advertisements (or billboards in this case) would scan Tom Cruise’s eyes as he walked by to identify him. After identification, these ads would give custom recommendations to our hero based on his data and previous purchases.

Futurist real time data at its finest.

However, headlines in recent weeks have been covering stories that seem like they could have be ripped straight from this dis-utopian world.

Real time data and facial recognition are no longer science fiction- they have become science fact.

What is it?

An individual’s face can be as unique as a fingerprint. It might even be more reliable, as a face won’t smudge or streak on surfaces.

Every face has numerous, unique features. There are the surface identifiers, like scars or skin tone, but there are also deeper, structural landmarks. These include:

  • Distance between the eyes
  • Width of the nose
  • Depth of the eye sockets
  • The shape of the cheekbones
  • The length of the jaw line

Most of us can recognize our friends and family by a quick glance at their faces. It happens so quickly most of us don’t even think about it. (Of course there are exceptions to this rule, but for the sake of length we’re going to skip them for now).

What Facial Recognition technology does is try to give that ability to a computer or algorithm.

Beginnings

As with most innovations we discuss on this blog, this isn’t a new idea.

It began in the mid 1960s. Scientists began to work on using computers to recognize human faces. Since those first tentative steps, the technology has come a long way.

Until recently, facial recognition software used a 2D image database to identify individuals.

Image courtesy of BBC.co.uk

For this to work, the subject needed to be looking directly at the camera. There could be little variance in light or facial expression between the database image, and the one that was being identified.

Obviously, very few pictures met this strict criteria, so facial recognition failed more often than it succeeded.

But technology never truly remains stagnant, and that’s doubly so in the digital revolution.

Facial recognition technology just made the leap from 2D to 3D. New software uses a 3D model, which allows for much looser criteria when comparing photos.

Image courtesy of Smithsonian.com

3D software uses the distinctive features of a face – the eyes, nose, and bone structure – to identify the subject.

Instead of relying on lighting or expression, this new technology relies on the structure of the face itself. It makes the software more reliable and less fallible.

Robocop?

Although these police divisions are not being led by Tom Cruise, law enforcement agencies the world over are using this technology to their advantage.

FBI

Take the FBI for example. They have just finished developing the Next Generation Identification System.

This system is now fully operational and is being used.

The FBI announced two services last fall that completed the system.

  • Rap Back allows officials to receive “ongoing status notifications” about reported criminal history of people “in positions of trust, such as schoolteachers.”
  • Interstate Photo System. This is the big one. This is a facial-recognition program that allows law-enforcement to cross-reference photographic images with criminal databases in real time.

In short, the Interstate Photo System lets the FBI use facial recognition.

Privacy groups don’t like The Next Generation Identification system for obvious reasons. They have repeated time and time again that this system ignores privacy laws.

They claim the lack of oversight raises serious civil liberty and privacy concerns.

Also, This system is largely untested. A report from 2010 found that the Interstate Photo System could potentially fail one in every five times it was used. That could lead to a lot of false positives. As it stands, that is a rate of failure higher than traditional fingerprinting – smudges and all.

Dubai

Dubai is another example of facial recognition being used by law enforcement. That Dubai is using this highly experimental technology should come as so surprise – this is a culture where the police use top of the line sports cars to keep up with the rich population.

Reports indicate  they have moved one step closer to achieving real time facial recognition by adding it to Google Glass.

Did I mention that the Dubai police department will get to use Google Glass? I hope they don’t have to buy their own uniforms!

glass1

According to a Dubai Police representative,  this software allows police to identify criminals’ faces and alert the detective through the glasses.

This initiative will be rolled out in two phases.

  • In the first phase, the technology will be used to fight traffic violations and any other vehicular offences.
  • In the second phase, the police Detectives will get a chance to use the wearables in their day to day crime solving business.

The New York City police department is also testing this. They began using Google Glass at the beginning of 2014, but have not yet posted the results of their tests.

Science fiction or  science fact?

This technology has far reaching implications as well. It is becoming present in many different companies – not just law enforcement. Check out some of the ways that this technology is being used by businesses right now!

Mastercard

Mastercard claims it has completed a “successful” facial recognition payments trial.

Mastercard tested a beta mobile app on over 140 000 transactions. These tests involved Mastercard employees from around the world using both iOS and Android devices.

 

Barcelona

Every laugh at the Teatrenu comedy club in Barcelona will cost you 0.30 euros, with a price cap of 24 euros.

Stand-up idea: A comedy club in Barcelona is betting you can't, and it is even basing its ticket prices on how often comedians can make its audience laugh

That’s right! Facial recognotion is being used to charger per laugh at this comedy club. The software is installed on the back of the seat in front of the customer.

The project was developed to combat falling audience numbers.

Partnering with advertising agency The Cyranos McCann, the experiment was a reaction to increased government taxes on theatre tickets, which in turn led to drops in audience numbers.

The results of the experiment have so far proved positive with ticket prices up by 6 euros, according to the theatre.

The system was so successful, it is now being copied in other theatres around Spain.

A number of people have tried, and reportedly failed, to sit through a comedy show without laughing in an attempt to get a free ticket.

Facebook and the real name controversy 

Is Facebook setting a dangerous precident? Or is it just looking out for the safety of its many users?

That’s right – another post about Facebook. The only topic we seem to broach more frequently is Amazon activities! Regardless, whenever you think nothing is happening in the world of digital or technology, just check out Facebook. Odds are, they are doing something controversial.

This particular issue revolves around the concept of real names versus pseudonyms, and if people should be allowed to self identify their digital presence. And it all began with a Drag Queen.

Meet Sister Roma

Several weeks ago, Facebook began suspending the accounts of people’s whose names didn’t fall under their ‘real name’ policy.

This has been a rule at Facebook  a while now, but it was rarely enforced. (This ‘no fake names’ isn’t the only rule – did you know it’s against the rules to have more than one account at Facebook under the same name? Yet my elementary school account remains open and unused.)

 That's more of a guideline than an actual rule. -  That's more of a guideline than an actual rule.  more of a guideline

The fact of the matter is, these rules were pretty much unenforceable, and if an account was deleted well – it’s difficult for a single person to raise a fuss against a power like Facebook.

Until the Drag Queens sauntered into the fray.

Facebook Warns Drag Queens They Will Delete Every Profile In Two Weeks

Sister Roma, whose real name is Michael Williams, is a drag queen. She is also a member of the San Francisco-based Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence advocacy group.

 

Now, she has been identifying herself as ‘Sister Roma’ on Facebook without a problem for six years. Recently though, Facebook gave her an ultimatum. She had to switch her username to her legal name Michael Williams, or risk having her account suspended.

facebook

As I already said, this policy is not new, but was  rarely enforced before now.

Why now?

Facebook is claiming that this is about safety. Forcing people to use their legal names apparently protects users from stalkers, jealous exes, and others who might want to hide behind a pseudonym.

Which is true. It’s good to know who you’re talking too online. Most of us have heard enough horror stories about this issue to last us a lifetime.

“We require everyone to provide their real names, so you always know who you’re connecting with,” says the policy.

I personally have no desire to be caught by a Catfish.

However, would a fake name really stop that? There are thousands if not millions of ways for hackers, thieves and criminals to get access to people online. Look no further than the celebrity photo stealing scandal for an example.

So, can Facebook really be hoping to protect its users safety by enforcing a name change policy?

Realistically? Probably not.

More likely this is about money. Facebook now admits that “performers” should establish pages, rather than profiles.

It’s in the interest of Facebook’s bottom line for its users to use fewer profiles, and more pages.

This crackdown comes as Facebook’s revenue continues to soar. A big part of that success is because of its marketing initiatives.

 

Why are people so upset?

I was chatting with my boyfriend the other day about this issue, and he couldn’t understand why I was so upset about it. I claimed it was a violation of rights, and he said:

“If you’re using Facebook to make money, you should spend money on it.”

If it was just about profits, I might agree with him. But it’s not;  it’s about identity. With this policy in effect, it is virtually impossible for anyone who self-identifies with a name that isn’t legally documented to have a profile on Facebook.

Yes, that effects Drag Queens and performers, but what if you’re trying to hide from that aforementioned angry ex, so you refer to yourself by a different name? Or you are from a different country and you want to be known by a different title where you’re living now. Or what if you are LBGT and you don’t self identity with your birth name?

Check out this illuminating article over at the Washington post by Jade Sylvan, and her real world experience with pseudonyms. She does a fantastic job explaining the personal side effects of Facebook’s decision.

Jade Sylvan

 

Will Facebook Change its mind?

Well, that remains to be seen. But it’s not looking good.

Drag queens and transgender activists started a protest campaign against Facebook for forcing them to either register with their real name or get off the site. Facebook did agree to meet with them, but it didn’t really change anything.

After the meeting, Sister Roma posted the following statement on her Facebook page.

Shortly after the meeting Facebook announced that they would reinstate profiles of members of the LGBT community that had recently been targeted, suspended or removed. The statement further goes on to say that Facebook hopes that within 2 weeks time the users will either confirm their real identity, change to their legal names, or move to a fan page. While at first glance this seems like a grand show of support for our community it is actually a completely hollow gesture. Basically they offered to give us our profiles back so that two weeks later they could suspend them, demand we comply to their unfair and discriminatory policy, and if not, take them away again. This is completely unacceptable.

Saying you have two weeks to comply is not much of a compromise.

Money, Drag Queens and Social media aside, it seems that Facebook may be forcing us to reassess our sense of self, and what is truly in a name.

It will be interesting to see what happens as this story develops.

Rise of the Drones

Look, up in the sky! It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a — commercial unmanned drone?

Drones

Welcome to 2014, where in addition to mammals and commercial airlines, flying robots are claiming their parts of the airways.

By now, most of us have heard of drones in some capacity. Whether its about warfare, hobbyists, delivery systems, or even just a passing mention on your favourite television show, it looks like unmanned drones are here to stay.

Modern Family Episode with an unmanned drone

However, this new technology may be appearing and advancing at too rapid a rate. Laws, governments, corporations and people alike all seem confused about what exactly is allowed, or is illegal with these machines.

Courts all over the world, not just in the west, are debating and setting precedents regarding drones. These debates centre around who can use the drones, when they can use them, and what they can use them for.

History

Drones are a relatively new phenomenon. A dozen years ago there were really only two groups who cared about unmanned drones at all:

  • Hobbyists who flew radio controlled planes for fun
  • The Military, which used them to carry out surveillance missions.

Then everything changed, as it’s wont to do, with a massive terrorist attack. 9/11 led to the American invasions of the Middle East, and drones became major part of their offensive. Unmanned surveillance planes suddenly became armed, and began destroying people and objects from thousands of miles away.

More and more advanced unmanned machines were developed with the newest technologies – from cameras to sensors that can measure airborne chemicals and warfare.

To date, the US has now  made and deployed more than 11000 military drones. In 2002, they had fewer than 200.

The United States isn’t alone. At least 50 other countries control their own collection, and countries like China, Israel and Iran manufacture their own!

And those are just the big companies! We haven’t even touched on the tiny start ups that are now in the drone business.

Drones are no longer just for military use. There are many options out there for civilians to purchase them.

That’s right – you can even build you’re own drone with lego now!

It doesn’t stop there – scientists are now cashing in as well, using drones to gather data on volcanoes in Costa Rica, archaeological sites in Russia and Peru, and flooding over the Pacific Mid-west of the United states.

Customs and border officials are using drones to spot smugglers and illegal immigrants in Canada and the United states, and some drones are even used to take a peek into the hearts of hurricanes.

High Tech Peeping Toms?

Anyone can buy a Drone. I could leave my office, walk down the street to Best Buy or Future Shop and pick one up. No paperwork or registration required.

However, that ease of access is making some uncomfortable situations arise. Namely – what can you watch while flying?

Some drones sporting cameras have been spotting hovering outside condo windows, over backyards, even city streets – the question is, are these peeping tom drones illegal?

It makes me very uncomfortable imagining a drone spying on me from outside of my high rise apartment.

So far this year, the Vancouver Police Department has fielded about a dozen drone complaints. These drones aren’t being flown illegally either.

In the spring, an Ottawa resident complained to his city councillor about a drone buzzing around his neighbourhood.

Commercial use of drones falls under Transport Canada regulations, and requires a Special Flight Operations Certificate.

Transport Canada has issued increasing numbers of these in recent years. That number has grown by over 500%  from 155 in 2011to 945 this year.

The maximum penalty for operating a commercial Drone without a certificate is $5,000 for a person, or $25,000 for a corporation, Transport Canada said.

Most of the rules and regulations regarding Drone use only affect ones that weigh more than 35 Kilograms. Anything that weighs less than that is considered a model aircraft, and doesn’t need permission from the federal department to send their devices into the air.

Another element that makes this situation more complex is the difficulty in figuring out who is flying the drone. The operator may be out of sight, and these machines don’t usually have licence plates or other identifying features.

“Under the current privacy complaint intake process, Canadians must be able to identify the organization they want investigated and must also specify what of their personal information was collected,” says Shayna Gersher, a graduate student at the Institute of Political Economy at Carleton University in Ottawa.

Part of the  challenge is to distinguish between planes flown by hobbyists and those used for commercial applications. This has become increasingly difficult, as the technology for model planes has grown more sophisticated.

There have been some gains – in July a man in New York was arrested and charged with unlawful surveillance after he flew a drone outside exam windows at a hospital.

The US is a completely different can of worms, as commercial drone use there is completely illegal.

Laws

Now, this issue isn’t being ignored.

Originally, President Barack Obama signed a law back in 2012 that required the FAA to make American airspace open to drones on September 30 2015, with all the laws in place. However, recently the FAA has said  that “technical and regulatory obstacles” will delay that deadline.

Draganflyer X4

 

Of course, many aren’t happy with the delay. A group including hobbyists, scientists and commercial interest groups filed lawsuits in the US last Friday challenging this September 2015 deadline, asking for the government to relax its drone regulations now.

The three lawsuits asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to review the validity of the directive. The agency said the directive is an attempt to clarify what is a model aircraft and the limitations on their operation.

Regulations for flights by larger drones are even farther away.

Amazon

Of course, Amazon with its potential Drone package delivery service is weighing in on this issue.

The Economic Times of India claims that Amazon will start testing its delivery drones in India this October!

Want a recap on the Amazon Drone Delivery system? Check out our post HERE.

Amazon had problems in  its initial testing because commercial drone use is currently illegal in the US.

To avoid these domestic constraints, Amazon will start drone trials in India, which doesn’t have any laws about drone usage. The Economic Times pinpointed two Indian cities, Mumbai and Bangalore, where Amazon already has warehouses.

What are Hedge Funds?

 AN INTEGRAL PART OF A GOOD INVESTMENT STRATEGY?

Hedge Funds have over the years gained a bad rep and a lot of negative media publicity, but experts argue that they are excellent investment vehicles and can be an integral part of a well balanced investment portfolio.

A case in point, is the recent survey conducted by AIMA and Barclays which showed an increased partnership between hedge fund managers and investors. The market has grown to $2.2 trillion in 2012 from only $450 billion in 1999.

So what exactly, is a hedge fund and why is it an attractive proposition?

Hedge fund is a pooled investment vehicle that uses complex investment strategies with the goal of maximizing returns while hedging the risk for its investors.

So the two most obvious reasons often cited in favour of hedge funds include their ability to reduce risk exposure and enhance returns. In the case of risk exposure, hedge funds that offer stable returns definitely contribute to portfolio stability when on the other hand traditional investment options are highly volatile.  As far as maximizing returns is concerned, hedge funds can contribute to this in 2 separate ways. Consider, the option explained above, where low volatility hedge funds offer relatively guaranteed additional returns compared to traditional investment vehicles. The second scenario, a more riskier option is when hedge funds are a part of highly volatile environments, but in turn garner high returns e.g. commodity trading advisor’s can generate very high returns.

While the thought of high returns maybe far too appealing for us to start investing in hedge funds, there are a few things to consider – hedge funds are typically open to only accredited investors or require a minimum amount e.g. In Ontario,  you need $150,000 to invest in a fund. Other risks associated include; information is not public- hedge fund firms are mostly privately held and guard their investment strategies closely. Funds lack liquidity, since firms offer redemption only at certain times during the year.

In conclusion, the overall risk/return ratio of the portfolio should be analyzed thoroughly before including hedge funds into the mix.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Archana

 

Archana has been at Planet4IT for years, and she knows the ropes. Be it understanding the client or a candidate, she truly believes in investing the time to get to know them better.

Whether it is big corporations or small fast paced environments,  she knows who the right fit for the right job is.

Truly a people person, one of her favourite topics is consumer behaviour and it shows in her friendly personality!

An expert in Finance, Social media and how technology is changing Healthcare, you can chat with her yourself at Planet4IT.

 

 

Sincerely, Anonymous

It can sometimes feel like the Digital World begins and ends with Privacy. Whether it is Google and its controversial ‘right to be forgotten’, or sites like Facebook experimenting on their users without consent, what we do on the internet and who gets to see it are huge issues that are being hotly debated the world over. Which is why the ability to remain anonymous has become the holy grail of Internet commerce. A slew of new Apps and updates of existing ones are boasting new and improved ways for its users to remain anonymous.

WHY IS ANONYMITY IMPORTANT ONLINE?

Do you want everyone to know everything about you? Yes, you may want a potential employer to see you handing out food at a soup kitchen, but what about that shot of you doing body shots at the bar last week?

Anonymity is necessary and important to everyone  who doesn’t want their entire life revealed with a simple Google search of their name. Picture a data broker out there logging everything you have ever said or shown interest in. Imagine that they then sell that information to the highest bidder, whether it be an advertiser, a corporation or a person.

On the other side of the spectrum, some people will only publish or say certain things if they can be guaranteed they won’t be prosecuted for it later. Remaining anonymous is a simple way to do that.

The ability to be anonymous has given items of amazing cultural importance to our society. Works by Voltaire, Benjamin Franklin, Zoe Margolis and others were all published under assumed names. For those Science Fiction geeks out there, how many fantastic female authors would have been ignored and never published in the 1960s if they weren’t able to use pseudonyms.

The first amendment to the US constitution recognises its importance and grants substantial protection to anonymous speech. Anonymity is important to everyone to some degree. In the tremors of the digital revolution, it can be a difficult thing to come by. Below are some examples of the anonymous features and apps that have recently come onto the market.

LEAK

Want to say whatever you want but don’t want to get caught?  The new service Leak may let you do it, all while keeping your identity a secret. The truth can hurt after all, and no one wants to be the bearer of bad news. Leak is a web service that lets you send anonymous emails to people. All you have to do is put in a recipients’ email, choose the type of relationship you have with that person and send off your message. Leaks are only seen by one person and are not broadcast publicaly – unless of course the person who received them wants to share it on their own social networking site. The Leak service is still pretty basic; you can’t send attachments or files. It does have a newsletter though, where users can receive the best Leaks of the week in their in-boxes.

WHISPER

Whisper is an anonymous social network. It’s done in the style of the PostSecret books of a few years ago. Instead of mailing in their secrets and the postcards being published in a book, Whisper does everything digitally. It allows people to express themselves anonymously. People type their secret on an image of their choice (as long as it follows regulations) and email the file in. It is then posted on the Whisper website.

With Whisper, you can anonymously share your thoughts and emotions with the world, and form lasting and meaningful relationships in a community built around trust and honesty. If you have ever had something too intimate to share on traditional social networks, simply share it on Whisper! —Whisper

Everything on Whisper is completely anonymous. They do not collect any personal information from users. The only search feature on the site is for topics, and not user profiles.

AirBNB

AirBNB is getting on the band wagon as well. It  has just announced a feature that will make all emails between hosts and renters anonymous.

In the past, after a booking was arranged, the the private email addresses of the landlord and the renter would be revealed to allow them to communicate directly. This direct communication  is necessary to arrange details like  parking and how to check in between the two parties. Usually however, after this single short term booking, users will likely never have any reason to communicate again. A lot of people were uncomfortable exchanging personal contact details with strangers. Now AirBnB will create temporary unique email addresses for each user in the conversation and forward these messages behind the scenes to the each user’s private email addresses. From the user’s point of view, nothing will change except that they won’t be able to see the counterpart’s personal email address.

We did this because some scammers like to get your personal email address and use it as part of their schemes. Anonymous email addresses will help us protect our community’s personal information from people who seek to abuse our system. Our existing security procedures help minimize the risk of these types of abuses, but we take your security seriously and we believe this new measure can do more to help fight fraud, scams, or phishing—AirBNB

FACEBOOK

Longtime King of the social Media scene, Facebook is touting new anonymous features as well. Back at F8 in April, Facebook’s annual developers conference, they announced a new feature that will allow users to log into Apps anonymously. What that means is that you can can check out an app you’re not sure you want to sign up for without sharing your personal information. This extends to other sites and Apps that are connected to Facebook as well.

So how many times would you want to sign in to an application, but you don’t necessarily want to share a lot of information with that app, but if you can do it anonymously, we think that can unlock of lot of different interactions and experiences that people want to have–Zuckerberg