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Privacy Issues. NSA, Samsung, Jay-Z

post11More than likely if you are reading this you are aware of the recent debate over online privacy and what is being shared with companies and even the government with the recent NSA scandals. I’ve been meaning to share my point of view for some time on this but decided it was fairly trivial. As an individual I accept the fact that if I use a machine that is connected to a data source, I understand data will be saved and collected. Others for some reason are naive to believe that data isn’t being collected on them when online and they hoot, holler, and complain about the situation. Either way. It’s a choice that must be accepted.

What led me to share my thoughts on online privacy concerns though is the recent controversy on the partnership between Samsung Mobile and Jay-Z to provide 1 million downloads of his new Magna Carta album if they download a special application on their Samsung phone by July 4. Well that day has come and gone and now some of those that wanted to download are balking and bickering over the fact that why does Jay-Z need so much information prior to downloading the music? Case in point is rapper “Killer Mike” who tweeted:

First of all, I am not an avid follower of Killer Mike, but based on his follower base (70K current followers) Killer Mike doesn’t appear to be a heavy hitter in the space, though I may be wrong. In either case, based on what the interweb has used this tweet and other conversation that has appeared online, there is this paranoia that Jay-Z and Samsung is basically as Gawker headlines: “…a massive data mining operation” and even consideration to NSA type data collection.

Are you seriously kidding me?

Has anyone considered that fact that when you install an application on your phone there are basic areas of the phone that an app needs to access in order to function correctly? Of course there are additional areas that help for future development as well in order to provide the best experience. Next time anyone downloads a free game from Android Marketplace, pay close attention to what areas of your phone you are giving access to because in exchange for not paying anything for the app (free) you are giving up certain data.

This isn’t an uncommon thing people! Which leads me to the topic of free.

When this deal was announced and a “free” label was attributed to a “condition(s)” (1. need a Samsung phone 2. Need Android 3. Need an Application to download) how can someone honestly believe their isn’t a marketing spin to this above and beyond the ‘buzz’ that this was getting. Let’s break this down:

  1. Storage– The music needs to be stored somewhere, so the app needs access to this in order to download it to the phone.
  2. System Tools– The description on this can scare someone but it’s not uncommon to get access to this in order to have certain functions of the app run better.
  3. Your location– Depending on how the app functions, this could be a experience benefit or it could flat out data for marketing geo-targeted efforts.
  4. Network Communications– Another area of an app that will determine if I am connected to phone data or WiFi. Not uncommon for music apps.
  5. Phone Calls– Has anyone heard of Ringtones? Though this could scare a sceptic.

So let’s please stop complaining that this is a privacy scandal and a massive data mining operation. In the day and age of big data, this will be the standard that we must make a decision to accept or not. If a business transaction takes place (free product, service, transaction, etc.) happens, data will be collected. The extent of what data will be collected and for what reason needs to be clearly identified. Businesses need to understand that the customer will demand more clarification before they accept ANY data transfer.

If not, a free gold nugget will turn into a rusted bucket fast.

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Detroit Auto Show 2013 VIP Tour

After an exciting, gadget packed CES show in Las Vegas I’m excited to have been invited by my old friends from GM to participate in a VIP Tour of the 2013 North American International Auto Show in Detroit January 14-27, 2013. The Auto Show doesn’t open up to the public until Jan 19, 2013 so I will get a chance to participate in some historic unveilings, behind the scenes access and interview some of my old friends and newer Execs from the current GM family.

It will be refreshing to go back to my ‘roots’ of the Detroit Auto scene as I vividly remember every year as a kid and into my early career working for GM from 2000-2005 taking part in the “Super Bowl” of the auto world. The time of year when all of the major auto makers lifted the sheets off of their jaw dropping concept cars and showcasing innovative technology and sleek lines of their upcoming models.

Since being in the Dallas, Texas area for the past 3 years or so, I honestly can say that I’ve been looking forward to taking some personal time and go back to my hometown and absorb this shining moment for Detroit and the auto industry.

post9I’ll have the privilege of getting this behind the scenes tour of the show from my friends at GM this coming Sunday evening through Tuesday Jan 13- 15, 2013. I’ll be sharing tweets, photos and will try to get some video footage of the awe-inspiring seventh generation C7 2014 Corvette on Sunday night. I remember being at GM and working in the styling studios of Warren, Michigan when the C6 was still in clay form. Now, to see the next generation before many in the general public is truly an honor.

I’ll also get a chance to meet folks from the Chevrolet and Buick design team, for my Texas friends, 2014 Chevy SilveradoChevy Spark EV team, once again tour the GM Heritage Center in Warren (I was one of the few people that toured the facility back when I was part of the GM design team in the early 2000’s) and of course chat with the Cadillac design and marketing teams. I can’t wait to get up close and personal with theCadillac ELR. It’ll be a nice addition to my 2011 Cadillac SRX.

So feel free to follow me on my social channels as I share my thoughts, photos, and videos over the next few days. I also want to share an awesome video of the 2014 Corvette called the Conception. Beautiful.

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CES for the New Year 2013

The new year is upon us. So far, depending on how optimistic or pessimistic you are, 2013 will be a make or break year in so many ways for many Americans. It’s also fun to note that 2013 is the first time since 1987 that there are 4 different numbers in the calendar year. That in itself should give us hope that things will be different!

In my world, January provides an opportunity to attend the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas January 8-11, 2013. For the tech geek in me, CES is the perfect venue to absorb all  of the new and upcoming technology. To get a hands on experience with what most consumers don’t see until months if not years after it hits the marketplace.


This year, I will be there with our team from @RadioShack as we scope out the edgiest and most innovative technology that RadioShack will be a part of or will share with our current fan base of over 1.7MM social fans on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and more. We will focus on multiple electronics and new products that we will highlight but more importantly experience what lies ahead for electronics and technology.

Though usually CES is a grinding week of meetings and mass transit traffic, I’m hoping to capture as many golden nuggets of tech as possible, meet up with great people from the industry and capture some great content for our RadioShack fans.

Follow along on RadioShack’s Blog starting Tuesday January 8th, 2013.

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