Jim’s WebLetter for 12/31/11

Hi-ya folks!

Here’s the final writeup for the WebLetter before we head into the new year … and here’s a few things I discovered while enjoying a week off and spending time in the movies and online. Ready?

I just heard that the M.I.T. will be offering free courses of study online. Yep, free. The deal is that you get the complete study but instead of a degree you get a certificate of completion. The thing is, this is a totally free college education regardless of your academic performance or background. http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesmarshallcrotty/2011/12/21/m-i-t-game-changer-free-online-education-for-all/

And once again the power of the internet has effected an industry … Just a day after it confirmed that it would be adding a $2 ‘convenience fee’ for paying bills online or over the phone, Verizon Wireless cancelled the charge, citing negative customer feedback as the reason for the shift. This after after Bank of America went back on its proposed $5 monthly debit card fee. In the case of Verizon, however, the postings on the internet on the proposed fee also caught the attention of federal regulators and, as Reuters reported, an FCC spokesperson said today that “on behalf of American consumers, we’re concerned about Verizon’s actions and are looking into the matter.” It’s not the first time the FCC has looked into Verizon’s billing practices — Bloomberg reported last year that Verizon agreed to pay a settlement of $25 million to the US and at least $52.8 million to customers as part of an FCC investigation into “mystery fees.” Both the Bank of America and Verizon Wireless cases show that social media on the internet can get the message to enough readers to cause hugh conglomerates to rethink their decisions.

Rumors are swirling around the new iPad 3 coming out the first quarter of 2012. As an Android system fan (I am Google “everything” and have a Droid phone), I have to say that using my wife’s iPad 2 with such applications as Garage Band and Facetime is nothing short of incredible. Imagine the ability to create music within the application itself as Garage Band allows you to do not only with the instruments inside the program, but the ability to record your voice and other instruments outside the app. And it doesn’t require a lot of learning, just time and some measure of creativity. And this Christmas, we used Facetime with family to open presents enabling everyone to see the reactions of the kids when they tore into their presents. While Android systems show promise, the bottom line is Apple grabbed the lead and they’re off to the races with thousands of app developers building all sorts of programs that make the iPad simply the best small machine on the market. Now with iPad3 on the way, one can conclude it will only be better. So, we will wait and watch.

Finally, Evernote made it to the big time with an article in Inc Magazine. I just finished reading the story and it’s quite impressive. Here’s a few guys who get together with an idea and now, after some wheeling and dealing have a wildly successful program that allows you to save information through web clippings, photos and scans for future recall. And all this for free, at least to start. They report that many people pay for the upgrade. Here’s Inc’s story … http://www.inc.com/magazine/20111201/how-evernote-company-of-the-year-works.html

My cat sleeps about 20 hours a day. She has her food prepared for her. She can eat whenever she wants, 24x7x365. Her meals are provided at no cost to her. She visits the doctor once a year for a check-up, and during the year whenever any medical needs arise. For all this she pays nothing, and nothing is required of her. She lives in a nice neighborhood in a house that is much larger than she needs, but she is not required to do any upkeep. If she makes a mess, someone else cleans it up. She has her choice of luxurious places to sleep. She is living like a queen, and has absolutely no expenses or responsibilities whatsoever. All of her costs are picked up by others who go out and earn a living every day.
I was just thinking about all this, and suddenly it hit me: My cat is a Congressman!!
(thanks, Dave)
By the way, of the movies we watched this week, I liked Mission Impossible 4 for the action and quirkiness of some of the spy devices, Sherlock Holmes was really good – an extension of the first movie (I call it ‘episode’) staying true to the period and showing us Sherlock’s use of deduction to reach a conclusion against the villan Moriarity, and the surprise “feel good” story was We Bought a Zoo with Matt Damon. But the epic movie that is a must-see is War Horse. It deserves to win all the academy awards as the story is strong, the actors are believable, the period – set around World War I is historic, and the horse, “Joey” really is the star. Loved the movie. Happy New Year and may God bless you and keep you safe.

Jim’s WebLetter
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