Stupid merchants doing stupid things – we need a flashmob for Apple Pay

 Shopping with iPhone

★ Retailers Are Disabling NFC to Block Apple Pay
[Via Daring Fireball]

Eric Slivka, reporting for MacRumors:

Earlier this week, pharmacy chain Rite Aid shut down unofficial support for the Apple Pay and Google Wallet mobile payments systems, resulting in an outcry from users who have been testing out Apple’s new system since its launch on Monday. Rite Aid was not an official Apple Pay partner, but the payments system generally works with existing near field communications (NFC) payment terminals anyway, and many users had had success using Apple Pay at Rite Aid stores early in the week.

It now appears that fellow major pharmacy chain CVS is following suit and as of today is shutting down the NFC functionality of its payment terminals entirely, a move presumably intended to thwart Apple Pay. Google Wallet services are obviously also being affected by the move.

These retailers are part of a group (Merchant Customer Exchange, “MCX”) working on an upcoming mobile payment system called CurrentC. Here’s an article about CurrentC by Debbie Simurda, writing for Mainstreet Inc., a point-of-sale provider:

CurrentC mobile payments platform by Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX) is a mobile wallet being developed by a group of major retailers who want greater control of payments, their mobile brand and mobile customer experience. They want to keep more of their customer data, rather than ceding to technology companies. MCX was established in 2012 and currently consists of 59 participating retailers, many large Tier 1 merchants, across all segments. […]


A stupid authoritarian response to a distributed approach. Of course it will fail.

So, let’s inconvenience millions of customers, not let them use theur credit cards the way they want, only use debit cards or store-bought gift cards.

What Apple gets and what no one else in the industry does is that using your mobile device for payments will only work if it’s far easier and better than using a credit card. With CurrentC, you’ll have to unlock your phone, launch their app, point your camera at a QR code, and wait. With Apple Pay, you just take out your phone and put your thumb on the Touch ID sensor.

These stores do not care about the customer’s experience. They see the customer in the same way many sociopathic corporations do – as sheep to he sheared. So, let’s make it impossible for millions to use a convenient payment system.

All so they can make a little more money. And by keeping the customer’s data for themselves.IN contrast, Apple Pay does not store any customer’s data.

They hope to win. To beat Apple. By making it harder for customers to pay. Idiots.

They’re doing this so they can pursue a system that is less secure (third-party apps don’t have access to the secure element where Apple Pay stores your credit card data, for one thing), less convenient (QR codes?), and not private.

So when I walk into Best Buy, select a $800 TV to buy, walk up to pay and pull out my iPhone (because why carry credit cards) to use their NFC system, I will find out that Best Buy has actually shut down its wireless payment system to prevent me from paying.

So I will just walk away and they lose a sale. What if 10 of us do this is a row? How about 10 of us at 100 different stores, at the same time? $800,000 lost in sales. Maybe they would get the message.

A flash mob for Apple Pay!

Spending in space more than NASA


The U.S. still spends more on space than every other country—combined
[Via Ezra Klein]

Ever since NASA retired its last space shuttle in 2011, American space travel has taken a back seat to news of growing Chinese space ambitions, Indian Mars missionsIranian space chimps, and Russian space geckos. But make no mistake, the United States is still the global powerhouse in space spending.

Last year, the United States spent roughly $40 billion on its space program, which is more than every other country combined, according to a new study (pdf) by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). For comparison, China’s space budget, which is the second largest in the world, was just under $11 billion in 2013; Russia’s the third largest, was roughly $8.6 billion; and India’s, the fourth largest, was about $4.3 billion.


NASA’s budget is about $18 billion. So less than half of the US space budget goes to them. The rest, while it includes NOAA and such, is mostly from the military budget.

No, freezing eggs is not like Nazi Germany

Freezing Worker Eggs: Are Apple and Facebook Playing God? (Germany, France, Switzerland)
[Via The Moderate Voice]


Over the past year and a half, as the scale of the global mass surveillance being pursued by the National Security Agency in collaboration with America’s tech giants has become clear, these corporations – Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft – have become objects of derision for Americans and people around the world. Now it seems there is new cause to look upon these firms with suspicion. Over the course of the past few days as news emerged that Apple and Facebook have instituted plans to pay for female employees to freeze their eggs for later use, columnists in other nations have expressed concern that they are blithely playing God with life itself. Worldmeets.US has translated columns from three countries on the subject, all outlining the likely ramifications of these policies:


This is just insane. Apple offers up to $20,000 for infertility treatments. They just increased the infertility procedures they will pay for/ That is all that is going on here.

Making it easier to have more children!

These procedures include all sorts of things, up to in vitro fertilization. As part of most in vivo fertilization protocols, many eggs are harvested at once, so that they only have to be retrieved one time. After the procedure, any extra eggs are frozen, to be used if the procedure does not work the first time.

So, Apple will pay for the eggs that are frozen, instead of the patient being forced to do this out of pocket. Making it easier for women to use in vitro fertilization to have more children.

This is not eugenics and not fascism. Apple is not forcing women to have their eggs frozen. It is not part of any genetic manipulation of eggs. 

It is an added benefit used mainly by those who want to have children. It is not preventing children from being born. It is providing added choices for FERTILITY! To have more children.

Just as Apple also provides money for adoptions. And for 18 weeks paid maternity leave. And 6 weeks paid paternity leave.

Funny how a significant benefit for women to have more children is turned by the media into an exercise of Godwin’s Law.

Making it easier for hospitals to use data to help patients


Commodity data analytics for health care
[Via O'Reilly News and Commentary]

Analytics are expensive and labor intensive; we need them to be routine and ubiquitous. I complained earlier this year that analytics are hard for health care providers to muster because there’s a shortage of analysts and because every data-driven decision takes huge expertise.

Currently, only major health care institutions such as Geisinger, the Mayo Clinic, and Kaiser Permanente incorporate analytics into day-to-day decisions. Research facilities employ analytics teams for clinical research, but perhaps not so much for day-to-day operations. Large health care providers can afford departments of analysts, but most facilities — including those forming accountable care organizations — cannot.


So, a hospital system that has put together a data analytics package that not only works for itself for day-to-day operations – for example, helping doctors determine if a patient is likely to be readmitted and knowing what to do to help – but is working to get other systems to use it.

It works no matter what the electronic health records software a hospital uses, analyzes data in ways different institutions need.

Will be interesting to see how this plays out. I’ve had a lot of interactions with a healthcare system that has moved to electronic records in a big way. And the speed of making decisions because the data are available has been amazing.

Things that might take a week and a couple of different visits can be done right there. Instead of hours spent trying to schedule an diagnostic procedure that needed to be done after hours, the office made the appointment at another facility within minutes.

Heck, I called my insurance company with a question. I was talking with a human being within 30 seconds who had answered my question within a minute and actually went on to check out some other things that they came up with themselves, just to check.

I do not expect things to be perfect but I can see glimpses of how much better the system can be.

UPDATED:Authority continues to do stupid things, as usual, by bullying people for not being racist

 Train wreck at Montparnasse 1895

Prosecute People for Not Being Racist Anymore
[Via First Draft]

Doc sent this along, and Jesus tits: 

The June issue of the paper went to print with the white space standing in for the letter, and without the word “Redskins” appearing anywhere. And this was when McGee decided to run around campus in his Quixotic attempt to collect all of the copies. This was also when the elder Pirritano made up his mind that the editors of the Playwickian should be prosecuted for their refusal to print his son’s letter.

“This in my opinion also reaches the level of a conspiracy, in any other context except a school environment it would be considered such,” Pirritano said in an email. “I see this as no different than if these students went into another students [sic] locker and stole their phone or any valuable. Theft is theft no matter how you look at it, and they admit conspiring to do such. My statement reflects that view and in my opinion a police investigation should have taken place. It also reflects my personal philosophy that taxpayers should not be on the hook for such acts and I made that known to the public that attended our meetings as well as received comments from the public that they supported such investigation.”

He’s arguing that the paper’s use of school funds is a misappropriation of tax dollars. One problem though: the final issue of the school year, historically, has been paid for by the students themselves. June 2014 was no different.

On July 2, Gayle Spoul, an attorney hired to represent the Playwickian‘s editors, wrote to Michael Levin, an attorney retained by the school district to sort out this issue: “It is inconceivable to me that the District would decide to expend time and ‘funds’ to ‘investigate’ and then potentially prosecute these students, who are simply attempting to stand up for the rights guaranteed them by the Constitution and Pennsylvania law.”

For more background see Doc’s post here


UPDATE: The First Draft post is not the important point. Here is a direct link to the important article.


I really hate this crap and wish that the authoritarian principal here, who has penalized teachers for doing the right thing when he asked them to do the wrong thing, would simply lose his job and have to work at minimum wage for the rest of his life. But I bet he gets a higher paying job in the administration. Because they, being hierarchical authoritarians themselves, have instituted restrictive polices forcing the editors to use words that they feel are racist.

Think about that? Would any school district force the editors of a school paper to use what the students view as racial epithets regarding a minority? Yet here we have a board bullying students to do just that.

And because of the board’s refusal to compromise, all the school district has really done is radicalize the students even more, while wasting a lot of taxpayers money. Last year it was 15-7 regarding the policy. This year the students editors are unanimous.

And expect the school district to pay a lot more as lawsuits are signed. Lawyers told the board to not make this move, explaining the long term legal effects.

Just stupid.

Authoritarians always end up losing against democracy. They always do stupid things by refusing to compromise, even a little. The British were stupid in the Revolution. The South was stupid in the Civil War. Simple, smart compromise would have been so much better.

But authority simply cannot compromise because it sees that as losing its authority. To many authoritarians only maintain their authority by the naked use of power. Which is why they do stupid things. And why they eventually loses when dealing with rapid change.

Because the power of democracy comes from its ability to adapt, to not be bound by the constraints of hierarchy and position, as it finds a wise answer to the damage done by uncompromising authority.

Just remember – any leader pushing a travel ban for Ebola does not really care abouut containment

Ebola Virus 

The evidence on travel bans for diseases like Ebola is clear: they don’t work
[Via Vox - All]

Welcome to Burden of Proof, a regular column in which Julia Belluz (a journalist) and Steven Hoffman (an academic) join forces to tackle the most pressing health issues of our time — especially bugs, drugs, and pseudoscience thugs — and uncover the best science behind them. Have suggestions or comments? Email Belluz and Hoffman or Tweet us @juliaoftoronto and @shoffmania. You can see previous columns here.

Travel restrictions to control the spread of disease have been tried since 1377, when the Mediterranean city of Dubrovnik — formerly known as Ragusa — imposed a 40-day isolation period on ships entering the city suspected of carrying the Black Death.

Calls for travel restrictions are revived with every pandemic threat, most recently Ebola. US politicians are now demanding a travel ban on West Africa in response to the Ebola outbreak.And, in the midst of ‘Ebolanoia,’ the idea is gaining traction.

But there’s a very clear problem with using a travel ban to stop Ebola: it renders useless the two best methods we have for stopping Ebola. Determined people will find ways to cross borders anyway, and if they don’t go through airports or they lie about where they came from, health officials can’t track their movements. And this is an important point because, to fight Ebola, we need to be able to follow up with the contacts of the infected. Getting aid and resources to the region to contain Ebola at the source would also become more challenging with travel restrictions.

This is why health officials unanimously agree that a travel ban is a bad idea. But don’t believe the experts: the best-available evidence also suggests travel restrictions, and even airport screening, don’t actually work. At best, they delay the spread of disease but they don’t impact the number of people who eventually get sick. They are expensive, resource-intensive, and potentially harmful to the countries involved. Here’s a guide to the research:


We have used travel bans all the time previously. They simply do not work.

As it is, we can now track where everyone is, where they came from and where they went. This is critical for containment.

Instituting a ban from West Africa would not have stopped the first case in the US. He traveled to the US from Europe. So the ban would only work if every other country did the same thing.

And, as we have seen with people travleing for weddings or for cruises, people will do what they want to do and rationalize it away. So stop planes and they will take boats or cars or walk.

Then we have people who are just as dangerous as before (which is not much) but no way to track them at all. Which means disease spreads without our being aware or containing it.

We have had this conversation before. Travel bans do not work and make things worse.

Now, our leaders know all of this. So ask yourself why are some spreading this meme of travel bans? What do they have to gain by frightening people and offering ineffective solutions that will not work?

I can only call them sociopaths who lack a conscience and will drive the public to do unwise things purely for their own personal gain.

Look, you can only get Ebola if someone is showing symptoms. Now just using a fever as the criterion is mostly an abundance of caution. A fever will not make you contract the virus.

Contact with the blood  of a sick person will. And the main symptom of Ebola is not a fever. It is called a hemorrhagic disease for a reason. Meaning it produces a lot of external blood for others to infect themselves with.

The symptom to worry about is lots of infected blood. It is also very obvious when someone is displaying this symptom.

It is most likely that the people who became infected in Dallas did not get it the patient’s breathe or sweat or spit. They got it from blood particles or splatters that got on their protective clothing, followed by a poorly initiated removal of the clothing. (It is well know with anyone using protective gear – getting out of the gear is often the most dangerous time._

So, frankly, I would not be too worried about someone with Ebola who just had a fever. If they were coughing up blood, I would be very worried.

The new iMac is what the Mac Pro used to be

New iMac 

Apple’s matchless iMac with Retina 5K display is its most expensive ever
[Via MacDailyNews]

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“Apple yesterday launched its most expensive-ever iMac, the $2,499 iMac with Retina 5K display, a desktop that will appeal to not only professional creative customers but also well-heeled consumers who want the very best money can buy, analysts said,” Gregg Keizer reports for Computerworld. “‘Clearly, it’s a good machine for creative professionals,’ said Ezra Gottheil of Technology Business Research, in an interview yesterday. ‘But it’s also for those where money is no object, who want a very good PC.’”

“‘It’s both a niche product and a premium mass-market product,’ said Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy. ‘It’s for professionals who don’t need the absolute best, like a Mac Pro, but also for prosumers who just want the best,’” Keizer reports. “Not surprisingly, Apple spent much of the iMac’s time in the spotlight yesterday touting the display, which offers 5120-by-2880-pixel resolution. ‘This is the world’s highest-resolution display,’ boasted Philip Schiller, Apple’s top marketing executive, who presented the 5K Retina iMac at Thursday’s event.”


I’m in the market for a new computer. While still very productive with my early 2008 Mac Pro, it  is beginning to slow down some. I looked at the new Mac Pro, because that is what I have always used for work – that is, the top of the line Macs with respect to speed, etc.

The current Mac Pro is just way too much muscle for me and way too expensive.

So I looked at the new iMac. And it fits exactly what I need. At close to the price I have always paid. 

Now when to pull the trigger?


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