Tag Archives: Apple

The NSA in Canada

Something I’ve been worrying about more and more lately is where my information is being stored. More specifically in my email accounts and cloud syncing technology.

I say this because I, like so many other people, use free products. Gmail, Google Drive, iCloud and Drop Box are all my friends. Or so I have thought.

The thing that I’ve come to realize (thanks to the job) is that since all those services are based in the US, the information is stored in the US. Therefore all my information is subject to the Patriot Act. All the NSA fun that has been going on south of the boarder; you’re likely affected by it.

My worry isn’t really about what has happened to date. As much as I don’t love my privacy being infringed on, I have to believe that I’m extremely boring to anyone who is looking. I’m not doing anything illegal or questionable, so I’m probably passed by pretty quickly.

What I’m more worried about is what may or may not happen in the future of privacy. Considering the NSA came and went, there hasn’t seemed to be many changes made to policies. Nor promises from the government not to do the same or similar in the future.

What will happen next? Now that we know they are able and willing to access that information, is there a worse-case scenario that anyone can think of?

So just because we’re in Canada doesn’t mean that we can act all smug about the NSA problems to the south. Odds are your information has been inspected too.

Privacy Concerns

Every time there is some report or Wiki Leak or Edward Snowden type that comes out and tells us about how the government is spying on all citizens, I’m always surprised at the outcry. Not at the fact that there is outcry, mind you, but rather the focus.

There is always a clear and loud cry about the government infringing on our privacy, but very little is said about how they are able to do that. Especially when the information the government is gathering is with the help of private companies, more often than not.

I don’t know if it’s thanks to the bias of media, the short attention span of the masses or some other factor, but every time there is a headline about how the NSA gathered more information, no one seems to give much thought to the foot note that it came from Apple, Google, Amazon, Yahoo, etc. While I don’t love that the American government has the ability to read my emails, I really don’t like how easy it seems for the private corporations to fork it over.

Paints a future that’s more Skynet than it is 1984.

To me it comes down to involvement of the commons. Even if it’s biased, skewed and corrupt, at least we the people have some involvement in government once every few years. Not too comforting, but there is something.

Also, the government could plausibly be using the information for security reasons. While it’s sneaky and unsettling, at least it’s an end that most of us can get behind. Even if you don’t support the means.

What I wonder about is what the corporations are gathering the information for, other than for personalized advertising and to give the government. You just know that it wasn’t sitting there unused until the big bad NSA bullied them into giving it up. If the information is being collected, it’s being collected with purpose.

I’m not really into conspiracy theories, nor am I that worried about what is being collected about me, to be honest. I know that I’m not doing anything criminal and can only assume that they have much, MUCH bigger fish to fry. I truly can’t see how my email is interesting to anyone other than me, and even then with some messages labeling me as “interested” is pushing it.

No, I’m more interested in human nature. Why it is that we’re so quick to jump all over our elected officials and give private companies the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps it is because we feel as though the government is accountable to us, while there is no use trying to change the course of corporations.

Or maybe we have actually reached a place in society where we trust public institutions less than what’s behind the curtain at our favourite brands.

My End Goal

If there was ever a blog post my parents would be interested in reading, I think this would be the one. Like good parents they care about my ongoing well-being and true to my personality I don’t give them any sort of reassurance that I’m not just drifting through life. I’m a terrible son.

In all honesty, though, I don’t have a clear picture of how I want my life to turn out, “at the end of it all.” I really don’t have a 100% idea of what it will look like six months from now, and I’m not going to worry about it. In job interviews I hate the question, “Where do you see yourself in ___ years?” My knee-jerk reaction is to quote Mitch Hedberg and tell them, “Celebrating the anniversary of this job interview,” but so far I have caught myself and tell them the truth: I really don’t know.

While this may seem flaky to some, I think that I don’t know for the right reasons. I have certain goals that I want to meet in both the short and long term, but these are usually specific and don’t include a full 360° view of all aspects of my life. Maybe it’s because I’m lazy, but I honestly don’t see the point in going through the exercise.

The reason that I don’t firmly plan every aspect of my life is that I have had too many friends waste their time, and often money, trying to accomplish what they think they want, but never quite making it. What’s worse is the few that do make it, but then realize they aren’t happy. I never want to be in either of those situations.

So I stay as flexible as possible. By keeping an open mind and not worrying too much about the specifics, I try to make sure no opportunity passes me by. What’s more, I don’t get too stressed if things aren’t perfect in the near term. I know that whatever I’m doing now isn’t necessarily related to my long-term happiness, so with that perspective I can weather most situations better than if I was constantly thinking my entire future rode on the decisions of today.

This is what works for me, but won’t work for everyone. The one thing I would say is if there is anyone you admire, try and see the times that they pivoted in their careers or personal life. It seems to me when someone attains success their biography is re-written to reflect how they were always destined to accomplish what they had. I don’t think this is the case.

Even the famous Steve Jobs commencement speech. You can’t tell me he always knew he was going to lead the world’s largest tech company when he was attending liberal arts school, dropping out of university, working on an apple orchard, taking pilgrimages to India, etc. Fact is, he kept his future open and didn’t worry too much how things were going to play out and look where it got him. I’m not saying he didn’t care, he especially did later in his career, but it’s not accurate to say he always knew where he was going to end up.

So why should you or I?

Super Bowl Sunday

I love the Super Bowl. It’s the biggest annual sporting event in North America and as a fan of sports and football I’m always excited to watch it.

Aside from the football game the Super Bowl is also one of the pinnacles of marketing. It’s not secret that in recent years TV has been falling from its once lofty heights in marketing’s good graces. The way we are viewing TV is changing, which is troubling to advertisers.

You don’t have to think too hard to know what is happening. With the popularity of the DVR, programs are being recorded and the commercials are skipped over. There’s also the issue of online subscription-based services that offer a selection of TV shows and movies, at the fraction of the price of traditional cable. You are also able to watch the shows on demand, meaning you keep your own schedule.

While it’s not like everyone is running out “cable cutting” and there will be no cable in a few years, the fact that young people (once the sought after high-spending demographic TV could reach) are choosing to forgo cable service is shifting the status quo. I have Netflix and probably watch that more than I use my cable service, and I’m not alone in that.

The exception to this trend is, of course, sporting events. People are still watching them live and with no solid service which you can view sporting events online, fans are keeping their cable. An engaged audience who are not skipping the commercials is a marketers dream.

The Super Bowl is the mack-daddy of all North American sporting events. Consistently over 100 million people watch the game and the commercials have become more of a spectacle than the half-time show, for some. People want to see what advertisements are being debuted.

The NFL and networks, of course, know this. This year a Super Bowl ad is costing upwards of $4 million for 30 seconds. Take into account the cost of making the commercial and you have some serious cheddar being dropped for a one-time spot.

This raises the question of whether or not the cost is worth it. This year in particular a Kate Upton Mercedes ad has been getting some attention. There have been some commentators wondering whether Super Bowl watchers are the primary audience of Mercedes and if the ad is worth the cost (i.e. are they going to sell 5,000 more cars than they would of without the ad).

There are arguments for whether or not the ad was worth it and I won’t go into it. At the end of the day I believe that if you have the money (Mercedes does), the ad is interesting (the close to 7 million Youtube views in about two weeks proves it is), and you’re not selling a product that the average Super Bowl watcher doesn’t want (plenty of football fans want a new car), then buying the ad isn’t a bad play.

This form of advertising is brand building. I doubt that the marketers over at Mercedes expect a huge rise in sales over the next few weeks, all on the heels of the ad. It’s a longer term investment, where the car company gets the attention of millions of people and tries to leave an impression. Not to mention with the internet these days, all the fallout traffic they can get with the ad (especially with people like yours truly linking people to it).

To me, the ultimate example of this strategy is Apple’s 1984 Super Bowl ad. When viewing this ad it is important to remember that home computing wasn’t even a thing yet. That ad basically tells you nothing about a new product, which is in a category you didn’t know existed, and you don’t know why you’re supposed to care. And the rest is history.