The Madness and Success of HQ Trivia

HQ Trivia on iOS

HQ Trivia is a very simple but at the same time a very incredible app. From the name, it can already be concluded that the app is all about trivia. However, there are two big things which make it a unique app. One, it’s a live show, and two, there is a cash prize if you win. Released in August of 2017 on iOS and on Android in January 2018, HQ Trivia has become one of the biggest apps on the market. How did it become so successful? Will this success prevail or eventually drop into obscurity?

The Birth of HQ Trivia

The successful app was developed in 2017 by Vine creators Rus Yusopov and Colin Kroll. For those who don’t remember, Vine was a successful social media platform which allowed users to make, edit and upload short videos. This platform also put a light on many people who have now become Instagram, YouTube, and film celebrities. Think of Amanda Cerny, King Bach, and sadly the Logan brothers (don’t search for the Logan brothers if you don’t know them, trust me.). Vine was then bought by Twitter and then later shut down. The development of the app and the startup was supported venture capital. Which is pretty much a lifeline for HQ Trivia, more on this further in the story.

HQ Trivia and Vine
HQ Trivia & Vine

Basics of the Game

Everything is rather simple. You download the HQ Trivia app from either the iOS app store or Android’s Google Play store. After this, you will make an account for the app and wait until the next game goes live. There are two daily games. The first one is at 9 p.m. CET (Central European Time) and the second at 3 a.m. CET. From this, we can clearly see the game is targeted to the American market. The live game always starts with the host Scott Rogowsky saying a few words and introducing the game to the newcomers. This man has practically become the face of HQ Trivia.

HQ Trivia Host
HQ Trivia Host – Scott Rogowsky

After the introduction, you will be presented with 12 questions which need to be answered within 10 seconds. Answer all the questions correctly? You win or split the cash prize with other winners. However, if you answer a question incorrectly you will be immediately eliminated. The questions vary a lot in difficulty. You might feel confident in the beginning when you answer an easy question but have your bubble abruptly burst by the following question. This happens a lot in the game. So much that the creators have a name for the questions which eliminates a big amount of users, the “Savage Question”. The money you win (if you win) can be cashed out the app with a PayPal account. The average amount which HQ Trivia gives away each game is 2,500 dollars. However, there are times which this amount is raised to 15,000 dollars. The 15,000 dollar games are usually played on the weekends. The creators of HQ have expressed their idea of trying to increase the amount to up to 1 million dollars. Very ambitious from their part.

Success of HQ Trivia

The creators of Vine have once again hit the bullseye with their newest startup. HQ Trivia has already been downloaded millions of times and there is no doubt this number will grow. The game has also created a very loyal community of players who are playing the game every day and don’t hesitate to share this to their friends and family. Every game has a huge audience. The audience is always between 600K or 1.6 million players. Logically, this number decreases significantly throughout the game since many people will be eliminated before reaching the last question. With the number of people playing and the amount of money being given away every day, one may ask how in the world HQ Trivia makes money.

HQ Trivia Cash Prize

HQ Trivia Revenue?

There is no revenue at HQ Trivia. They don’t make money, which is very crazy. As mentioned earlier the reason they even exist is thanks to an investment by venture capital. That money which they have received is the money which is being used to pay their employees and the cash prizes they give out every day. But this money is bound to run out, and that is exactly what is happening at the moment. The creators of HQ Trivia, Rus, and Colin, are looking to attract more investors to fund HQ. But most importantly they are seeking to get a post-money valuation of at least 100 million dollars. If this becomes a reality, then they will be able to attract even more investors thus, more funding for HQ. However, this is not a very effective and smart plan for the long run. HQ Trivia has to find new ways of funding itself instead of asking for investments somewhere else. Seeing how big HQ has become, it can be a very easy task to get the money themselves.

The Future of HQ Trivia

There is no doubt that HQ will keep growing in a very fast manner. That will have its pro’s and cons. A pro is that the success will be attracting even more venture capitalist to invest in their startup. However, a very big con will be the quality of the game. Remember that this is a live show and it takes a lot to make sure every single person, from the between 600K and 1.6 million players, will be able to see a clear image throughout the whole stream. HQ Trivia has already had problems with their current audience, having to at one point even postpone the game to a later time after their system froze. For this exact reason, HQ will need to make more money to invest in better quality and they have many options to choose from. Since it’s a live show, they can do lots of product placement or have some streams supported by different brands. Another way would be to put a price on lives. Therefore, a player will be able to receive a second chance if they choose to pay for it. The future of HQ Trivia is on HQ’s own hand, they can decide on which they will go. Either disappear like Vine or become 8the next biggest platform.

 

You should give this game a try. The chances of you becoming rich are very small but the idea that you can win some cash by correctly answering only 12 questions is very appealing.                                                                                    It is entertainment in its most simple form.

Social Engineering Exploits Are Like Bad MEMES

One of my favorite (worst) things my paranoia likes is trusting people. It feeds from all the stuff I see and read on the all mighty internet every day, see in the news and experience in my own life. Topic: Social Engineering a.k.a. Human Hacking. It is an art of manipulating people into doing the things you want them to do, also involves programming people to give up sensitive information or gaining their trust in order to exploit them and their lives further in life. Some Social Engineering methods can include special software, fake programs, whoring, phishing etc. I will attempt to tell you (My paranoia will try to tell you) how to protect yourself from becoming a victim of social engineering. So here is the main antivirus to protect yourself is YOU!
The reason I like Social Engineering is that there is no protection against it except your own knowledge and a healthy level of paranoia. You have to train your gullibility if you have not done it yet… Because no one will do it for you!

Phishing

What is phishing?

Image result for phishing“Phishing is a form of fraud in which an attacker masquerades as a reputable entity or person in email or other communication channels. The attacker uses phishing emails to distribute malicious links or attachments that can perform a variety of functions, including the extraction of login credentials or account information from victims”

Great examples of this type of Social engineering technique are the email which we love so much. You know what I mean? The Saudi Arabian prince who searched for someone to send his millions to, or the free subscription you won for P0rnhub… I think that the last one was a real email…
Moving on!?!?!
 So the core if this Social Engineering method is to pretend to be someone you are not, usually it is a person of authority (President, prince, banker, lawyer, police) who sends you an email with a great story and instructions. The recent popular one was the “Ebola email exploit” who was passing around information to people so they would be aware of the problem, which had a link to a malicious website with a virus.
In Phishing attempts, the attacked tries his best to distribute the emails in order to boost the open rate of the emails. The second thing the attacker focuses on is to have a believable message in the email in order for the victim to take action, which most of the time means to follow a link to a malicious website or to download a malicious file.
The popular ones include messages such as:
  • “Problem with your account, please click/download the/from link
  • You won a title of a meme lord, please follow the link to get your prize!

Social Media Phishing

Very popular Social Media Phishing technique is to share a link on Twitter or Facebook which has a catchy title and an intriguing image attached to the link. Usually, this link (usually cloaked) leads to another website which has a malware.
Katty Perry phishing post
The reason this works is because we are brainwashed by the media and guys have enough blood pressure to send blood to one head at a time. Anyway, this attack works in a domino effect, because the malicious link/software will use your social media account to share/send the same link so more people would click on it and infect their devices, and so on.
From the same department is “Whoring”, of pretending to be someone else, such as an attractive girl (most popular) in order to obtain sensitive content which later can be used for blackmail, or sold on the darknet. Storytime:
I personally saw an ONION WEBSITE  which was selling nudes if guys and girls. There were over 26 000 social media accounts from Facebook, VK, and Instagram which were all real, and were selling nudes of each account. All these people (mostly girls) were exploited, scammed, hacked, whored which lead to the attacked actually obtaining/getting their private photos and then selling them for cryptocurrency on the darknet. All real, no jokes, no hoax…

HOW NOT TO BE A VICTIM OF PHISHING?

too good to be true

Ultimate Rule – If it is too good to be true, it probably is.

This applied to everything you see online. Even things which are not malicious, are considered to follow some other goal. Marketers use it all the time and I am 99% sure you saw them a lot, for example:

  • Free Ebook
  • Free MP3
  • Subscribe and download/win/get
  • Free Lessons
  • Free PDF

I am not saying you will not get what they are selling, but you might get a virus with it, and some fake or useless information as well.

I clicked the link and downloaded a Malware because I do not pay attention to anything and do not care about my online security, what now?

Well… I am glad you asked! Malware has different categories:

virus trojan worm

There are 3 most popular ones:

  1. Virus
  2. Trojan
  3. Worm

All these can be attached to a file you downloaded and/or installed which allows the attacker to do anything he wants with your information and computer. This is not a joke, imagine the private information you have on your PC can be obtained. I suppose I will provide hacking instruction in one of my upcoming articles. Something not very harmful.

What can hackers do with my Information?

Social Engineering Hackerman

Please remember that we are living in an age of information, this, therefore, means that information is the most valuable resource nowadays. With enough information, knowledge, and data very good things can be done, as well as bad things. As we are discussing social engineering, phishing, and human hacking, the information that these attackers are obtaining is mostly harmful to companies and us, simple peasants…

The information that you can lose can be used for taking control over your social media, your private pictures which allow the attackers to blackmail you and your loved ones. Another side of the medal is to sell this information to someone who will exploit your accounts.

By gaining access to your emails, the attacker can get almost any kind of information, because he can recover almost any password of any account your email is used for. If it is a working email, then all the working private information can be obtained by again, exploiting the email or reading the email you wrote before.

Remember you did those scans of your passport and your credit card for a visa to Russia? I suppose they are still on your computer, which means I have your identity and bank information. Imagine what can be done now? I can commit a crime online, buy anything I want, including your credentials and it WILL BE YOUR FAULT!

How can I protect myself from Social Engineering?

  1. If it is too good to be true, then it is
  2. Healthy level of skepticism/paranoia
  3. Safe complicated passwords
  4. Double verification of accounts
  5. Different passwords for your accounts
  6. Backups of your files
  7. Do not share nudes with strangers
  8. Do not trust strangers
  9. Question everything (This is how I lost all my friends because I became super annoying and now I am super lonely and have no friends, and no one likes me but hey, at least I am safe in this void of darkness)

>mfw be me

>Be safe

SME Cybersecurity Developments in the Netherlands

CyberSecurity

There is no doubt in the fact that organizations are becoming more tech savvy and are relying on the technology to boost their businesses sky high. But, with this rapid increase and reliance on digital networks brings SMEs to a point where they cannot ignore the risks of cybersecurity threads. Check out my previous POST on dangers of the darknet. Today the threads have the potential to be more destructive for SME’s because they cannot afford cybersecurity specialists. This means that SME’s are becoming the number one targets for cyber attacks. What can SMEs do to protect themselves? Look into the SME Cybersecurity developments in the Netherlands.

SMEs Excuses not to invest in Cybersecurity

Many SMEs believe that they will not become a target of hackers and cyber threads are a myth. Moreover, research conducted by Juniper shows that 74% of SMEs believe they are safe, despite the fact that half of them have suffered a cyber attack.

The Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice in their assessment report clearly stated that Private organizations are mostly affected by cyber criminals in order to obtain sensitive data. The table emphasizes in RED the most common types of cyber attacks.

SME Cybersecurity assesment in the netherlands

Understanding the Risks and Protecting your business

Many SMEs gather Personally Identifiable Information, Personal Health Information and Customer Information is usually the target of hackers because it can be sold to competitors, exploit the customers for personal gain which can ultimately destroy the image of your business or spy on the company’s transactions or information.

Imagine that all the employee data was stolen? What damage can be done to each person in your company? Bank numbers, personal IDs, or delete all the data? This can be the point of no return to any business if not protected properly.

In 2017 the famous Verizon Investigation Report explained that 73% of breaches were financially motivated and 78% of intrusions were rated as low difficulty.

Developments and SME Cybersecurity in the Netherlands

–         Cybersecurity costs and benefits do not always lie with the same party

There is a clear focus on making the benefits clear and the security affordable for SMEs, but there is a lack of direct stimulus to invest in security. This is where cybersecurity agencies support the Dutch Ministry of Security on creating a safe environment for companies to operate and educate the companies.

–        Societal Responsibilities

As the online world is becoming more regulated by the developing governments and new regulations, it becomes more important to stay on the same page with all the cybersecurity developments within companies. New regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation and European Commission e-Privacy regulation put new responsibilities on companies in terms of personal data processors, including in the field of information security and privacy-by-design. These regulations are focused on protecting SMEs and the end users from the threads which can easily be avoided.

–        Increasing standards of behavior in the digital domain internationally

Known conflicts which are expressed after countries elections arguing that democratic processes were influenced by hackers and digital attacks. The Netherlands during the elections to the Dutch House of Representatives in March 2017 expressed their concerns regarding the protection of the sovereignty of countries during elections on the international level. Creation of international standards of behavior in the digital domain is increasing together with transparency on what is and is not permitted to this will make future conflicts more manageable.

–        Divergent views on the responsible disclosure of vulnerabilities

This topic is receiving a great deal of attention not only in the Netherlands but around the world. The disclosure of vulnerabilities in IT systems and software products can have a major impact both on Cybersecurity service providers and SMEs. On the positive side, this means that parties will be able to resolve the vulnerabilities and take countermeasures. The downside to this is the possibility which allows malicious parties to exploit the vulnerabilities sooner than the new patch or fix is released.

Media and news can contribute to the awareness of cybersecurity, but at the same time, inaccurate reporting can lead to overreaction, leading to declining of trust in cybersecurity services. It is therefore up to Red Socks to balance this news from a professional perspective and introduce in an understandable way.

Deep Web Investigation and Secrets of the Realm

deep-web

I am a huge fan of cybersecurity, hacking, exploitation and social engineering, but there are as well things which you would not share with others. Imagine telling your mom how you are a fan of Deep Web? Well…. I am very interested in the methods and tactics of the dark web, which I will write more about in my next articles. This one is about the Deep Web and what it is in a nutshell. Educate yourself, dudes, because this is still a mystery to some of you.

web surfing

There is a theory that everything we see and access on the “surface” of the internet is only 1% of the whole cake. Yes, all you have access to is 1%, everything else is known to be the deep web which, and of course my favorite, the darkness of the ocean, the abyss, the DARKNET! It is the shadow which leads you to the global black (Afro-American if you will) markets (not slave related). I found it very difficult to come back from the shadows as it opens up a whole new world of possibilities and information which you would never find surfing the WWW.

Difference between websites

Let us come back to the times when Google and search engines were not very popular. At that time you had to actually know the website URL, or you had to know a webpage which would have a website which would lead you to the page which you wanted to enter. Still with me? Later on, after search engines were created, a division of no-index pages became a thing. We all think that all mighty google knows everything, but Google will only show you a small part which is indexed. Trust me… Tens of thousands of websites being created and destroyed on the deep web, which basically makes endless.

Think that you are missing the majority of the websites, only because you do not know the URL and it is not indexed by any search engine. Next time I might give some examples of such links. Other websites are encrypted and require special software in order to be able to access them. Most popular and widely used one is the TOR browser, also known as the Onion Browser. Other websites require an invitation or an insider to invite you or to hack into the website to be able to access the hidden information.

What is TOR? (briefly)

Tor_projectTOR allows users to browse websites of the deep web while maintaining their anonymity. It allows to just about anything they want without being tracked, for example, unicorn Intercourse, rare memes and naked pictures of your mom… I highly recommend using TOR when searching for that last one… If you will use any other browser, let’s say Chrome or.. Internet Explorer¿ you have a high chance of being tracked down, that is why security precautions should be taken before exploring the darknet.

Why Using TOR browser?

Because it takes you 3 minutes to install and can save you from creeps. Some darknet websites are made especially for gathering data. The website owners can see a lot of data coming in (taking from a personal experience) and they can “see you”, sometimes even literally. The deep web is a very interesting place, but please take measures to be safe because curiosity killed the cat… So do not play with things you do not understand.

Methodology on buying on Deep Web

We figured out that you should be using TOR browser in order to hide your identity and stay anonymous. Now we need to get some currency which will allow you to enter the dark side of the network. Around 99% (if I remember correctly) use bitcoins for their transactions because this cryptocurrency allows staying anonymous during this process.

Now we have the money, so where is the honey? You may ask… To get the honey, we have to find the beehive. By beehive I mean websites. The websites that are used for the darknet usually end with .onion in the end, or .xyz. Most of the time the domain name consists of gibberish with randomized letters and numbers which most of the time make no sense.

What can I find on the Deep Web?

Animal Cruelty, torture, death and rape

Oh my god, prepare yourself… Inhale… Photos of your mom! Besides that, you can find creepy photos and videos of dead babies propped up to look alive like in a creepy horror movie. Most of the darknet is saturated with child abuse, and I am not talking about photos and videos of kids being beaten, (next let’s play a game of fill in the blanks) I am talking about photos and videos of child ****, r*** and murder. Sometimes even on live stream if the heart of the viewer desires so. As well as content where people are getting stabbed to death, beheaded, being cooked alive and women being barbequed.
creepy bunnyI shRit you not, there is a website where you can watch women dress up in anything you want and talk dirty with cute little animals like kittens and bunnies and then stomp the poor creatures to death in high heels. How high of an intellectual are you if this stuff turns you on? God help these people…

 

Fraud and DIY’s

deep web dollsAside from what I discussed, you can also purchase illegal firearms, drugs, fake IDs, passports, stolen PayPal accounts, credit cards etc. There is also a market for some weird stuff I would never have thought about. This includes DIY tutorials on how to make a doll that looks like a kid, for a tea party of course when you are lonely. Some even sell dolls which are made from human flesh, because it is of course much better than a real person.

Manuals and Tutorials

I am not making up anything here. My favorite category is manuals, instructions, and tutorials. They include: How to make a bomb, how to make a gun, how to exploit your government, how to be a pedophile, how to abduct children 101, how to worship Satan, how to summon demons, how to perform experiments on humans. This is out of my head, there is much more to that.deep web cults

Hire criminals

Some websites allow you to hire thieves, hackers, and hitmen. There is even a deep web crowdfunding website that sets up bounties for the heads of your favorite political figures and movie stars. Sounds like a dog fighting arena to me.

Paid live streams a.k.a. Red Rooms

red-room-deep-web

These live streams are called “Red Rooms”. Basically, they are streaming rapes, tortures and murders in front of the audience, The audience pays to have whatever they want happening to these people, not just adults but the children and infants. Red rooms include also people having intercourses with corpses… fun fun fun…. The majority of these people are criminals and poor gangsters who are ready to do these gross things for a 100$.

Conclusion


This is a realm you do not want to enter because it can leave you morally and emotionally broken. If you are a sensitive person, this stuff even causes psychological damage for years to come. From my personal experience – I started thinking that some people around me who I know for many years might be not as normal as I thought they are. I had insane paranoia and still do sometimes, which is not normal and can keep you awake at night.

Recommendation

Stay away from the deep web because none of this madness will stop if people will keep going there. If you want to get traumatized, then good luck pal!

Google Pixel 2 vs Pixel 2 XL, Yay or Nay?

Google Pixel 2 vs Pixel 2 XL

Whether you notice it or not Google is everywhere these days. From your web browser, cars, mobile phones, speakers, etc. Last year Google thought it is not enough to be in your phones but to become your phone (mind is blown). They did so by announcing and releasing the Google Pixel, a Google smartphone. Obviously, people were very excited for this but it did leave many people wanting a bit more out of the phone. If you ask me, this is just us as people really having high expectations about electronics but in the end, I do understand because these phones are getting more expensive year by year. (I want to blame Apple but don’t want to trigger the Apple sheeps). As was expected a new version of the Google Pixel was announced this year and lucky for us we got two phones to talk about. So let’s talk about the Google Pixel 2 vs Pixel 2 XL.

Google Pixel 2 vs Pixel 2 XL

You can guess very easily from the names of these phones that one is bigger than the other. In other words, it’s the Apple tactic of releasing a small one for the poorish folks and a big one for the rich peeps. However, a big difference that has to be noted is that the two phones have the same specs. They are literally the same phone, just that one is bigger than the other one. It should be noted that the price difference is significant between the two phones. The Google Pixel 2 64GB version costs €800 and the Pixel 2 XL 64GB version costs €940. What we can also see is that it is reaching the Apple iPhone level of €1000 euros and as a broke ass student, this gets me really sad. If you want the Pixel XL 2 128GB version you will have to pay €1,050! By the way, these prices are coming from the German market where the prices are a bit higher. My mind is just thinking is it really worth it to spend so much money on a smartphone? What is so special and different about this phone compared to the other cheaper phones in the market? We can see the specs and I’ll let you decide on your own, I don’t have any hidden agenda here people.

Google Pixel 2 vs Google Pixel 2 XL
Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL

 

What are you getting for the amount of money you are giving away?

Let’s start with the technical stuff that most people like to look over. As I mentioned in the beginning, both phones are practically the same. They both have an octa-core 2.35 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 735 mobile platform (what a mouthful), an Adreno 430 GPU, and 4GB of RAM. Google is also following the trend of having a phone without a micro SD slot. This is done to give the phone a more clean look, no bumps or removable back. However, to compensate this they put more onboard storage to hopefully give you enough memory space to work with (I’m very skeptical in this area). Both phones have a 64GB and a 128GB version.

Cute exclusive features Google Pixel 2 and Pixel XL 2

You get a Pixel-exclusive google assistant (it might come to other Android devices so it’s only exclusive for the moment). The cool thing about google assistant is that it is constantly learning. The more you use it the better the assistant will be. You can at one point ask the assistant what your favorite color is and it will most probably get the right answer. By saying “Good Morning Google”, you will be shown what your day will look like. From your appointments and how long it takes you to get there, the weather and any news you are interested in will be included in your daily briefing.  In the end, it really depends on the person if they want their phone to know a lot about you or not. In my honest opinion, it could get a little creepy that a virtual assistant could have the possibility to know more about you than you do.

Another interesting feature is the Always-On Display. The Always-On option will let your phone listen to everything in your surroundings (only if you choose for this to happen). Let’s hope that the phones don’t also have the same glitch as the Google Home, listening to everything even though it was not supposed to. Why would you want to use the Always-On Display? The most useful thing that comes with this is that it will listen to songs that are playing around you and immediately search up information about it (song name, artist, release date etc.). This is great for the people, including me, that struggle to open their Shazam app on time.

The weirdest feature for me so far is that the phone is squeezable. Yup, you read that right. You can squeeze the phone. Why? It is kind of a “shortcut” to start google assistant. Just a very light squeeze and you can get to work with your assistant. Here is a video showing you what other gestures can be used on the phone instead of me giving you a list. Or in other words, I don’t feel like writing it and honestly, I think you prefer a video more than words.

Best Camera in the smartphone market?

The first Pixel phones had a great camera. As we can see competitors these days are working hard to bring a better phone camera each year. The best phone cameras in the market were the iPhone 8 and the Samsung Galaxy 8 with a DxOMark Mobile score of 94. DxOMark is a company that tests cameras and gives them a score on how well they performed. They tested the Google Pixel 2 cameras and gave them DxOMark score of 98, the highest score ever given to a mobile phone camera. The Pixel 2 has a 1/2.6-inch 12.2MP sensor and a f/1.8 aperture.

R.I.P Headphone Jack

It started out as a rumor but it has become a sick reality. There are no headphone jacks in the new Pixel phones. This sucks because I’m very sure other companies are going to follow which means that at one point in our world’s history the headphone jack will cease to exist in phones (oh dear God if you are out there please let me be dead by then). How will you listen to music? By using a USB Type C wired headphone or by using Bluetooth headphones. Another option is buying an adapter dongle which was priced at €20 euros but is now at €9 euros after many people were like “wtf Google”. The most expensive option out there is to buy the new Bluetooth Google buds, the Google Pixel Buds which will cost around €180 euros. The really cool reason why these headphones are so expensive is that they can do real-time translation. Holy mother of God! Let me write that again. REAL-TIME TRANSLATION! It can do this with 40 languages. The peeps at Google had a live testing when they were announcing all the products and it was just very cool to watch. So if you have the money and you know you need this then go ahead and buy it because you can’t really find this anywhere else.

Google Buds
Google Pixel Buds

Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are not available worldwide

Now before you go get super excited (or not) about this new phone you should check if you can even buy it in the country you are in. Just as the first Google Pixel, they will not be available worldwide. The smartphone is only offered in a few countries. Those being the U.S., (it would be very stupid if they didn’t sell it there), the U.K., and Germany. This makes it stressful for anyone that will want to buy the phone and doesn’t live in the country that it is being offered in. If this person really wants this phone then they will have to pay extra to get it to their country or just a ask a friend living in those countries to buy you one.

The Google Pixel 2 and Pixel XL, in my opinion, are really cool smartphones but there are two things that stop me from buying it and feel like Google could improve on. First, lower the price. I’m sorry Google but I will like you less if you become like Apple and overprice everything you sell. Not everyone can afford to pay so much money for a smartphone and I feel like I’m not being offered a lot for the price tag that you put. Second, make this phone available in more countries. Not only is this phone already expensive but you are also forcing people that live outside the U.S., the U.K., and Germany to pay even more money to get your phone. I know it’s your first years in the smartphone market but you can do better.

To watch the full unveiling of the Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL and other products click on this link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0YGoxbeSzLc 

What do you think? Will you get the Google Pixel or will you pass and wait for another smartphone to gain your attention? Or will you look at the reviews first and see if that is enough to convince you.

 

 

Importance of Net Neutrality in 2017

the net-neutrality-header

For the last couple of years, we can see the fight which is happening between governments, companies and average internet users regarding the net neutrality. What honestly pisses me off, is that this topic after being discussed for many years did not reach a consensus… In 2017 the FCC (Federal Communications Commission in the United States) is trying to once again attempt to abolish net neutrality. They are coming up with the most ridiculous and dishonest arguments, one of the most unbelievable lies is the “Internet Freedom Act”.  You probably already realized that this act does the exact opposite of what it claims it does.

Hereby I will try to briefly explain what is net neutrality to those who were living under the rock for the last 5 years and have no clue that this is a very critical issue for all the internet users! You might say I do not live in the USA, but bear with me, they in many cases are the trendsetter which means other greedy politicians and companies will see this as a green light if the bill passes.

What is Net Neutrality?

Net Neutrality means that all the traffic on the internet should be treated equally #FeminizmAlert. At this moment, the concept of net neutrality is protected by a “law of utility” (sort to say) which also protects water and electricity providing companies. This law states that people can be changed only for the resource use itself. No extra premium high-quality water for special snowflakes out there is available. Same price for everyone. The opposite of web neutrality means that you would be charged extra for every time you use water for something rather than drinking or taking a shower. How would you feel if your water company would charge you extra is you use your water for watering your plants? Ridiculous, isn’t it? Therefore, if you don’t want to pay extra to your internet provider to watch cat videos on YouTube, you better start thinking and acting.

How net neutrality works

Who will profit from it?

First, it would be video streaming companies which would attack companies like Netflix (oh no..) and Hulu. If net neutrality would be abolished, the streaming companies would be able to slow down the streaming speed to a point which would make it impossible to watch anything without purchasing some sort of extra package to bring the streaming speed up. This is evil if you ask me because these corporations can monopolize the internet and cash out big money. This is against the free market, against any sort of competition law and I personally do not see any upside to it whatsoever.

Netflix net neutrality

What are the effects?

Imagine if the websites you go the most will be slowed down. Internet service providers will be able to slow down websites like Facebook, YouTube, Reddit, 4chan etc. and add an extra price tag if you want to browse them without waiting 5 minutes for the page to load, or an hour for a video to load. If this is not enough of a reason for you to support net neutrality, think about some larger implications which it can influence.

Net neutrality consequences

 

Net neutrality blocks content

Companies will be able to suppress freedom of speech by slowing down internet speed by region if they want to. Imagine that a protest in one region will never reach another one because the internet will be limited thanks to the control of these corporations. They will be able to disconnect the internet and blame you for not buying an extra service from them. It can be used as a tool over and over again to undermine many political issues. I believe that it does not matter if you are right or wrong, left or right, black or white, female, male or an Apache helicopter… It will influence you and everyone around you. It will have a negative outcome on every consumer (read my previous post on consumerism), except the internet providing companies who will make a LOT of money.

How could this even happen?

Large corporations which are opposing net neutrality have been ramping up the propaganda and astroturfing.

“ASTROTURF – Creating the impression of public support by paying people in the public to pretend to be supportive. The false support can take the form of letters to the editor, postings on message boards in response to criticism, and writing to politicians in support of the cause.” – Urban Dictionary

Internet service providers back in 2014 were flooding their websites with identical comments from bots they bought on fiverr. There were 128 000 comments from fake accounts posting anti-net neutrality information. Some SMART PEOPLE were misled into believing that restoring Internet Freedom Act will do the thing those comments were describing. This was misinforming the public into believing about something which is completely opposite. The corporations are actively fighting to take away your rights and freedom to make an extra buck. What a lovely, honest and NOT GREEDY world we live in.

Net neutrality comments statistics

What’s next?

Well, folks, this is a battle for the future of internet! I personally started saving everything I have on my hard drive, all the previously watched movies, favourite music, software, e-books, memes…. Because I am scared that one day I will not be able to access my information as easily as I can do it now….This is something we take for granted, but it might change tomorrow and it will change our lives. Does not matter where you are from, this is an issue which requires attention. Do not let these greedy companies take one love some people have in this world, the ability to surf the net 40 hours a week without any restrictions.

So?

The important part here is to be critical, check the facts and don’t be gullible. I recommend reading more materials on net neutrality if I was not able to convince you. Share this with a friend, let him know you are smarter than him.

Why Is Spotify Losing Money?

Spotify

Something that never seems to stop evolving is music and the way we hear it. Look one hundred years back and you’ll see that a lot has changed. Depending on who you ask, some people feel that it’s changed for the better and some for the worse. Regardless of people’s taste in music, we can all be happy with the fact that there are so many ways to be able to listen to your favorite songs and artists. Thanks to Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music, Deezer, etc. we have access to a humongous music database. Thanks to these music streaming services there is no need to make sure you have enough space to be able to hold all your songs. However, let’s focus on Spotify, one of the fastest growing music business to date.

How does Spotify work?

Spotify was founded more than ten years ago, the application was officially launched in 2008 and is now making more than two billion dollars of revenue every year. Spotify works under a very known business model called freemium. Freemium is a model where the service or application you are using is free, however, you can get additional features if you pay a subscription fee. Spotify does this by offering their paying customers an advertisement free service and increases songs bitrates to 320 kbit/s. In other words, they offer better song quality.

 

Spotify statistics

They’ve managed to get 60 million people to pay the subscription fee. An impressive number which becomes insignificant when you find out that there is a total of 140 million Spotify users. This means that not even half of their users are actually paying for their services. On top of this Spotify pays millions of dollars in royalties to the different artists that have their content on their platform. The money per stream is the same for all artists on the platform. It doesn’t matter if you are a small or big artist, the rate will stay the same. Only the contract the artist has with their record company will change how much money each streamed song will go to their pockets.

If we add all of this together we will see that Spotify is losing a lot of money. The core of their business, of their idea, is actually ruining them. We listeners are listening too much and therefore costing them too much. This isn’t only a problem with Spotify but also with other freemium music streaming applications.

What about making Spotify like Apple Music? 

Apple Music vs Spotify

This will not happen. Why? It completely negates Spotify’s initial idea of being able to offer music to people for free. To give small artists the platform to reach people from all over the world. Streaming is the future of music and if they start charging, people will just go to the next free streaming company. The difference between Spotify and Apple Music is that Apple wants to make money. Apple doesn’t believe in free music which I respect but at the same time, this makes their services very exclusive. This is also why Apple Music still hasn’t surpassed Spotify on the amount of users. However, how can we know if Apple Music will still be profitable in the coming years? We’ve even seen Tidal, another pay only music streaming company, post huge losses recently. The way people see it, music streaming companies will always be doomed from the start.

What now? 

Spotify’s next plan is to expand into other content. They are making deals with different artists to release exclusive albums, music documentaries, videos, etc. Furthermore, they have acquired different companies that help them track their users’ playtime on their platform to, therefore, create personalized content for them. Showing you concerts near your area and redirecting you to a ticket seller, artist merchandise and music related videos are other tactics they are using. However, the biggest move would be going public at the New York Stock Exchange. It’s been rumored for quite some time that this will happen. It’s a risky move that could either save them or completely ruin them. Only time will tell if this plan will be enough to take Spotify out of the profitless world they are living in.

New York Stock Exchange

 

Internet Privacy and Why It Doesn’t Exist

Internet Privacy

Internet Privacy

The society we live in at the moment feels like less of a private one as the time progresses. Privacy has become a very heated topic. All the technological advances that mankind have created to connect the world with each other have become vulnerable to anyone who knows how to manipulate them. Sadly for us, the people who know how to do this are the hackers that are up to no good, multinational companies and the government. However, the power the government has to stop this differs from one country to another. Recently there has been more legislation passed by the U.S. government to make it easier for our personal data to be available to different companies/organizations. What is different now is that the data will be accumulated without the public’s consent and this is, in my opinion, the biggest red flag.

Privacy has been a controversial issue for a very long time. Thanks to Edward Snowden, we know more about how private (or not) our lives around technology can be. Snowden’s goal was to spark dialogue about this issue and it did for a moment but fast forward to today and people are barely even talking about it anymore. My issue isn’t about the government spying on me (or whatever they are actually doing). I can’t deny that it’s defintely scary. However, my issue is how the government pretty much gives companies and internet providers a free pass to access my information and to do whatever they please with it. What bothers me the most is that the reason why our data is so valuable is so that they can make more money.

Privacy Meme

We are just 1’s and 0’s to these people. They can know so much from our data. For example, they can make a profile of you which shows your gender, sexuality, income level, personality, whether your single or not. Hell they could even find out whether you’re cheating on your partner or not. With this information they will know which advertisements, videos, recommendations etc. to show you when you are online. This has been like this for some time and I hope you’ve already realized that. Lately it’s become very “in your face”. For example, I was researching for a desk I want to buy and immediately I started getting advertisements from different furniture stores and YouTube started recommending me to watch videos about “best desk setups”. I wouldn’t mind it if this process wasn’t that intrusive.

Honestly I shouldn’t be that outraged about this. Marketing companies have been doing this for years now, accumulating data from people so they know how to advertise to different target groups. The marketing companies adapted as time progressed and technological advances started taking over our daily lives. Anyone can argue that they are doing the same thing they’ve always done just that is happening online now. My question is, how much more do these companies want to know about us just so they can make more personalized advertisements and will we be informed of this? The U.S. government will decide this for you in the next few months so pick up your phone and call your reprentative. I guess it’s time to research VPN’s.