Bicycles outselling new cars? How can this possibly be?

In a recent NPR piece posted on Seattle’s KUOW radio station website, it appears that in 2012, new bicycles sales is higher than new car sales in the major of countries that make up the European Union. “How can this possibly be?”, you may ask yourself.

The main cause for this higher “bicycle-to-car ownership ratio” phenomenon appears to be caused by the slump in car sales resulting in a 2-decades low that happened during the economic recession that affected most of Europe and elsewhere.

It is interesting to consider the divergent transportation patterns/behaviors that developed and developing nations are taking. The developed nations in the EU are going the way of where the developing countries came from with regards to use of transportation modes (i.e. moving from cars to bicycles). Whereas, developing nations are trying to emulate the lifestyles of the developed nations in the EU by adopting more cars and abandoning bicycles in droves. Whether this phenomenon is driven by economics, environmental, energy, or social trends, one interesting fact is that younger people (what marketers like to call “millenials” or “Gen Y”) in the USA are showing less interest in buying cars or bigger cars in a case of car makers chasing lesser car buyers.

 

 

Posted in Environmental, For Home, Transportation | Comments Off

MS Scares, Munich Shares – 2 sides to the OS coin.

Microsoft is reported to be taking its 12-year old Windows XP operating system off life support in April 2014. To make sure users move to the latest supported versions of its OS, the Redmond company is warning Windows XP customers that they will face never-patched, never-dead “zero-day” vulnerabilities – see Computerworld article.

At the same time, the City of Munich government in Germany is is planning to distribute 2,000 Lubuntu installation CDs to users of older Windows PCs. This comes at the heel of Microsoft’s announcement t0 urge users to abandon its old Windows XP and to move to its latest OS version.

Munich’s action will help city dwellers to avoid the creation of electronic waste, since most older computers currently running Windows XP will be unable to handle the resource demands of Windows 7 or 8.

Munich’s move will help avoid the creation of electronic waste, since many older computers currently running Windows XP will be unable to handle the demands of Windows 7 or 8.

In 2003,  Munich made the decision to switch from Windows XP to a customized Linux distribution called Limux. This Linux OS, Limux is thought to have saved the Munich government more than $12 million in license and hardware upgrades.

Maybe it’s time to seriously look at Linux as a laptop/desktop OS to replace MS’s aging Windows XP OS, as Munich has done. Or one can wait to being push off the Windows XP platform completely come April 2014.

Posted in Linux, Operating Systems, Windows | Comments Off

Make the move to Linux – Some apps to help you transition over

All the recent news about technology companies being less-than-rigorous resistors to the NSA eavesdropping program, makes one wonder what’s alternatives there are out there to the dominant commercial OS offerings. Linux and other Free Open Source Software (FOSS) are highly touted as some of the alternatives since these are software and technology products that have withstand the “sanitizing effects of the light let in”. In essence, this is the open screening process by the general public, conducted specifically by software developers who are not beholden to any corporation or governmental organization.

To help technology users to migrate/transition to Linux and other FOSS, a useful article identifies various open source software alternatives that ease the transition to Linux. Personally, I find Karma to be a useful tool to create instructional videos for posting online. Hope these tools will help you in making your move to Linux and other FOSS tools.

Go to article now.

Posted in Apple, Closed/Proprietary, computers, Desktops, Home PC, Linux, Mac OS X, Open Source, OS, proprietary nature, Useful Tips, Windows | Comments Off

EFF provides information on technology tools to protect against mass surveillance

In light of the extensive coverage of the mass surveillance activities by the media, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has step up to provide useful information on various technology tools to protect against unwanted eavesdropping.

In the first of a two-part piece, EFF offers tools that makes it easy for the public to protect their privacy and confidentiality. Tools covered include:

  • Privacy tools
  • Privacy for connections to websites
  • Privacy for IM
  • Privacy for VoIP calls
  • Privacy for emails
  • Location privacy

Learn more at the EFF website.

 

Posted in Internet, Privacy, Security, Social network, Useful Tips | Comments Off

Avoiding the watchful eyes of Big Brother

The scope and extend of the PRISM program by the US NSA is being unraveled by the overseas media and now slowly by the domestic media in the USA. The details of the program is causing alarms with most sector of the public except for those who are already resigned to the idea that there is nothing left as “personal” to an individual in today’s online-connected world.

The various large new media companies that were identified with the PRISM program (also called “PRISM companies” in the street) have moved quickly to limit the damage by asking the US government to allow them to release to public documents that showed these companies’ “resistance” to compliance with the US government’s orders. Strange bedfellows indeed. When light is let in to the bedroom, smooching partners become acrimonious ones instantly.

So, in today’s snooping world, either by governments or Internet companies, what is one wary public citizen to do? It’s timely that the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) created a very useful guide to help computer/smartphones users with software and service tools to maintain one’s privacy. Many of the tools are based on Free Open Source Software (FOSS) and Linux. The tools are open source which means they are open to the full scrutiny of the public and no suspicious/unwanted programs are inserted into your computer. Let the light shine in!

See the full list of tools and services that EFF recommends to protect your privacy: PRISM BREAK

EFF's Prism Break web page that compares open tools to protect your privacy.

EFF’s Prism Break web page that compares open tools to protect your privacy.

Disclaimer: I’ve personally donated money to EFF because I believe in what they do. I hope you do too.

Posted in Closed/Proprietary, computers, Digital Freedom, Internet, Open Source, OS, Privacy, proprietary nature, Public Interest, Social network | Comments Off

Guess what is the best desktop OS to date? It’s not Mac OS X and for sure, not Win 8!

Linux Mint 15 (Codename Olivia) is currently in Release Candidate mode. So, that means it is about to get out of the gate soon! Check it out by downloading at http://linuxmint.com

Linux Mint 15 (Codename Olivia)

Linux Mint 15 (Codename Olivia)

According to Steven Vaughan-Nichols,  a ZDNet columnist, this may yet be the best windows, icons, menus, and pointers (WIMP) desktop OS in the form of Linux Mint 15 with the GNOME-based Cinnamon desktop manager interface. Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu which itself is based on the Debian operating system. So, this is a tried-and-true OS that users can be confident of to use on production systems and has easy-to-use interface that takes a different tack than other OS that are trying to metamorphosize themselves to fit all form factors (desktops, tablets and phones).

I like what I’ve seen so far. A past issue I have with Linux Mint has been the slightly less than perfect support for various devices that I connect my computers to such as wireless access points, scanners, etc which Ubuntu did a better job at. Another issue was the lack of support for Ubuntu One. Seems like the device support issue has been addressed. Will need to see how support for third-party data storage and sync services will look like now.

In light of Win 8 tepid adoption by consumers and Mac’s slower-than-iOS update progress, Linux Mint and other distros such as Ubuntu have an opening now to draw away some of the attention of the public.

Posted in Apple, Business PCs, computers, Consumer, Desktops, Home PC, Linux, Linux Mint, Mac OS X, Open Source, Operating Systems, Tablet PCs, Ubuntu, Windows | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Food for thought: Free and open financial software tools

Most of us rely on some sort of software-based tool to help us make sense of our financial situation and planning. What is not obvious to most of us is that we are spending a lot of money on the very same tools that are suppose to help us save and grow our money.

To help save some extra  money for our financial planning, here are tens of free, open source software tools that can help individuals and small businesses to stretch that dollar that we have. See this Datamation article on a long list of tools that can replace the many popular financial software that many of us may rely on today. Go to Datamation article - 62 Open Source Replacements for Popular Financial Software.

 

Posted in Consumer, Financial, For Home, For Non-Profit Organizations (NPOs), For SMBs | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Need to Know: Want Your Online Privacy Back? Take Control Now!

One of my favorite radio programs, Marketplace is a news program focused on economics and business issues of the day.
Marketplace had previously aired a story on tips to avoid being tracked online. There are some good info in that piece that I think many can benefit from.
Check out Stacey Vanek Smith’s piece on “Top 10 ways to avoid being tracked online” at Marketplace (www.marketplace.org)

Posted in Browsers, Consumer, Privacy, Public Interest, Social network, Useful Tips | Comments Off

Need to Know: New Lighting Standards – Out with the Old, In With the New!

With a federal law in the USA, progress has come to the lighting front, so to speak.

The Energy Independence and Security Act 2007 mandates that light bulbs must specific efficiency standard (see Lighting Fact label section below for details). The following is a short list of the expected changes:

  • Incandescent will start to be phased out – starting with the 100W incandescent bulb in 2012, essentially meaning such bulbs will be prohibited from being manufactured.
  • The 75W incandescent bulb will also began to be phased out in 2013.
  • The incandescent bulbs will be replaced by incandescent-halogen bulbs that will be more efficient than the former (at least 27% more effecient). Other replacements, include CFL and LED bulbs that are both more efficient than the incandescent-halogen bulbs.

To learn more about how light bulbs fare in comparison of the different lighting technology, check the Lighting Fact label, a requirement for all light bulb packaging. The Lighting Facts label provides information about the Brightness, Light Appearance (Warm to Cool), Energy Used (consumption), and the Life (longevity) of the bulb that you will be considering.

LabelAnatomy

 

Courtesy of Lighting Facts, a program of the U.S. DOE.

Posted in Conservation, Consumer, Environmental, For Home, Green living, LED Lighting, Lighting, Lighting, Useful Tips | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Guess what: Who has been generous…with your personal data?

The online world is different from the physical world in many ways besides the comparison of electrons to brick-and-mortar. We, as online visitors and e-consumers, leave bread crumbs of information about ourselves when we visit websites. Details like username, zipcode, and email address are often left behind on cookies that track our movements on a website.

A recent WSJ article investigated what personal information gets passed to other companies when someone logs into popular websites that are frequently visited. What is more alarming is that some of these investigated sites actually pass user’s data to other sites.

Personal privacy is precious, both online and offline. It has been argued that free content and expediency may be worthwhile in exchange for whatever small lost of privacy. I once read an article which i can’t recall who the writer is now, in it, an inch of freedom that is lost is lost forever. There isn’t anyway for someone to get it back once it is lost. It may sound drastic but it is worthwhile to think about, doesn’t it?

Learn more about digital freedom at the Electronic Freedom Foundation (www.eff.org)

Posted in Consumer, Digital Freedom, For Home, Internet, Privacy, Public Interest, Social, Social network | Tagged , | Comments Off