Barcoding the Homeless

14Do you give money to the homeless people you meet on the street? I do, sometimes. But, mostly I don’t and that’s because I think it will be spent on some sort of vice and not on say… food or shelter. This is why I prefer to donate to a charity. If I give it to a charity, I can make a reasonable assumption that the money I donate will go to the intended purpose of getting someone the help they need. But what if there was a way to give funds directly to homeless people you encounter on the street with the guarantee that it would be spent responsibly? Well, I’ve found a very intriguing technical option that promises to do that very thing. Tune in to find out more. | Check out: 12 DuckDuckGo Search Tips You Should Know to Boost Productivity | And please support my Starbucks habit by dropping something in my virtual tip jar. Thank you.

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About the host:

Over the past decade, Jim Stroud has built an expertise in sourcing and recruiting strategy, public speaking, lead generation, video production, podcasting, online research, competitive intelligence, online community management and training. He has consulted for such companies as Microsoft, Google, MCI, Siemens, Bernard Hodes Group and a host of startup companies. During his tenure with Randstad Sourceright, he alleviated the recruitment headaches of their clients worldwide as their Global Head of Sourcing and Recruiting Strategy. His career highlights can be viewed on his website at www.JimStroud.com.

PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

Hi! I’m Jim Stroud and this is my podcast.

Do you give money to the homeless people you meet on the street? I do, sometimes. But, mostly I don’t and that’s because I think it will be spent on some sort of vice and not on say… food or shelter. This is why I prefer to donate to a charity. If I give it to a charity, I can make a reasonable assumption that the money I donate will go to the intended purpose of getting someone the help they need.

But what if there was a way to give funds directly to homeless people you encounter on the street with the guarantee that it would be spent responsibly? Well, I happen to know of a technology that promises to do that very thing. You know the barcodes on food that you scan in the grocery store? Well, some people are putting barcodes on the homeless and donating to them that way. I’ll tell you more about it after this.

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Okay, barcodes on the homeless. Here are the details, quoted directly from “The Mirror,” a news site based in the UK.

A charity working with homeless people have created wearable barcodes in a bid to help increase donations in a cashfree society.

The new initiative called Greater Change, backed by Oxford University, hands homeless people a QR code similar to those used for online tickets

People who want to give money, but do not have change to hand, can scan the code using their phone and make an online payment to the person.

Further on in the article, it says…

Each account is managed by a case worker who ensures that the money is spent sensibly and will make a positive impact towards the life of the individual.

The agreed targets can go to towards such things as a passport or rental deposit.

Alex McCallion, founder of Greater Change, told the BBC: “The problem we’re trying to solve here is that we live in an increasingly cashless society and, as well as this, when people give they worry about what this money might be spent on.

“So the solution we’ve come up with is a giving mechanism through your smart phone with a restrictive fund

To give the transaction a personal touch, good Samaritans will also be presented with a profile on the rough sleeper. It will give information on their circumstances, what their job used to be and how they became homeless in the first place.

When I read this, I was more than a little bit dumbfounded. The intention behind the initiative may have been good yet, something did not sit right with me. I looked up more articles discussing “Greater Change” and their initiative, not for more information per se, but to read the comments. (And there were plenty of comments!) They ranged from slightly sympathetic to snarky to down right rude. Here are the ones I thought were the most notable.

  • COMMENT: It’s a trick.  When you pull out your phone to scan the card to give the guy $1, the homeless guy will steal your phone and laugh at your measly one intended dollar.
  • COMMENT: First there was the “Gig” economy. Now there is the “Beg” economy.
  • COMMENT: How exactly, does making it easier to pan-handle successfully move anyone closer to the stated goal of ending homelessness?
  • COMMENT: The problem is, if he is homeless, how is he going to make rental payments all year long?
  • COMMENT: Didn’t we go down this road before? With the numbers and the tattoos and the showers? How long does it have to be between assigning someone a number, and eliminating the undesired numbers? (NOTE: Referring to the holocaust, no doubt)
  • COMMENT: It’s a way to measure income received by beggars for tax purposes.
  • COMMENT: Yup, a new low: Too lazy to even beg (or explain yer circumstances)!

All of these comments struck a chord with me; resonating over and over in my brain. Especially this point: How does enabling homeless pan-handling help said homeless to get off the street? And stay off the street? At best, you are encouraging a cycle of dependency. I think I would rather invest in some sort of entrepreneurial pursuit with a return on investment.

There is a website called Kiva, that let’s you lend as little as $25 to create opportunities for people all over the world. Why not do the same for the homeless here? A portion of what is donated could be for immediate needs like food and shelter, but the lionshare of donations would be towards a startup business of some kind. (Even if it was something so modest as, shining shoes inside a bus station.)

Take it a step further and maybe people could donate business advice, offer affiliate products to sell, give temporary office space or clothing, so that someone could not only start a business in order to support themselves but, eventually, employ others as well. I think if the people over at “Greater Change” further developed their app to do things like that, I would be more supportive of it. But that’s just me. What do you think?

If you love what you heard, hate what you heard or, don’t know what you just heard, I want to know about it. You can reach me at my website – www.JimStroud.com. In addition to finding source material and related information for this podcast episode, you’ll find other goodies that I hope will make you smile. Oh, before I go, please financially support this podcast with a little somethin’-somethin’ in my virtual tip jar. (There’s a link in the podcast description.) Your generosity encourages me to keep this podcast train chugging down the track. Whoot-whoot, whoot-whoot, whoot-whoot…

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Discussing Trump in the Workplace

#13 | What happens when politics is discussed in the workplace? A recent survey says that American workers are stressed out by any and all chatter about Donald Trump and politics in general. Despite that fact, with another presidential election on the horizon, there is no sign of that trend changing. So, what are you as a worker to do? Moreover, what can managers do (if anything) to curtail political discussions that can divide an office, much like the USA is these days? Tune in to hear my thoughts and strategies for how workers and managers can navigate these interesting times today and in the future.  | Click here for information on protecting your privacy on Facebook.  And please support my Starbucks habit by dropping something in my virtual tip jar. Thank you.


Click here to listen to this podcast on Anchor.fm

Subscribe to this podcast via your favorite podcast platform!

About the host:

Over the past decade, Jim Stroud has built an expertise in sourcing and recruiting strategy, public speaking, lead generation, video production, podcasting, online research, competitive intelligence, online community management and training. He has consulted for such companies as Microsoft, Google, MCI, Siemens, Bernard Hodes Group and a host of startup companies. During his tenure with Randstad Sourceright, he alleviated the recruitment headaches of their clients worldwide as their Global Head of Sourcing and Recruiting Strategy. His career highlights can be viewed on his website at www.JimStroud.com.

PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

Hi, I’m Jim Stroud and this is my podcast.

The 2017 Recruiter Nation Report produced by Jobvite, a recruiting software company, breaks down recruiters’ attitudes, behaviors, fears, strategies, and predictions for how to build the best companies possible — good people, good practices, and good culture. Among the survey findings was something I found a bit… startling. When recruiters are researching candidates for opportunities, 51% of the 831 US recruiters surveyed, saw political rants on a candidate’s social media as a red flag.

Should someone’s political affiliation be a matter of concern when recruiting talent? Apparently, many US recruiters think so today and with another presidential election on the horizon, I see it as a future issue as well. What happens when Trump is discussed in your office? I’ll be talking about that after this special message.

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I was so surprised to discover that so many recruiters red flag candidates based on their political views that I did my own, very unscientific poll on Twitter. The question was this, “RECRUITERS, have you ever turned down a candidate based on political beliefs you found on social media?” 21 Recruiters responded and 29% of them said yes which I thought was pretty high for such a low number of respondents. I also solicited comments from my network of recruiters and many responded openly, others privately, and this is what some of them had to say.

• One person said, “I interpret political interests much differently than political rants. I think often times people who cross boundaries of what is considered “socially acceptable” social media behavior can be viewed as a liability to corporations. Rants are usually emotionally triggered too”

• Someone else said, “This is a great illustration of why “cultural fit” should never be in a job description or ad. With all this trying to be politically correct, all the time, otherwise great candidates go unhired. On the other end of that spectrum, the calls for NOT being politically correct yields the same results. What ever happened to just focusing on human decency and skills? Social media has messed up the hiring process. It’s being abused by everyone. I believe everyone has a right to their own opinions. As long as a person isn’t putting someone else in jeopardy or harms way, let them have their views. As long as the work can get done in a manner of excellence, I don’t care what their views are. Work is for work anyway, not a place to argue politics, religion, etc.”

• And another opinion, “I guess the question Jim Stroud is would you hire someone you knew was a white supremacist [but] otherwise well qualified? I’m struggling with recruiters who regularly post something homophobic or anti Muslim. Would I hire them? Probably not”

Another reason why all this talk of politics in the workplace is of interest to me is because of the small talk I make with the business executives I meet at meeting and conferences; once they realize I can keep a secret. In one such instance, I am sitting with someone in a cafe and breaking away from business chatter to regard breaking news. On a television, a reporter is detailing news of a political protest on a college campus that has turned violent. We could not hear the reporter but, the headline on the screen told us enough for my client to comment. For whatever reason, one student attacked another for wearing a Make America Great Again hat.

“What happens if I hire one of those students?” the client asked me. “And what if one of my customers is a Trump supporter who likes to wear a MAGA hat or button? Do I have to worry about someone suing my business because one of my workers cannot control themselves? What if they are not violent but, decide to engage in political debate and offend my customer, as a result, I lose business and now I have to lay people off?”

Although I did my best to comfort him and dissuade his fears, I had to admit that his concerns were totally valid. In October of last year, Bloomberg reported a significant drop in restaurant receipts, the most since 2016. Some analysts put the blame on hurricanes that happened near that time whereas others pointed the finger at politics. If you do a search on “refused service due to maga hat,” you will find a LOT (and I do mean a lot) of search results. Here are just a few…

Three Black GOP Interns: Uber Denied Us a Ride Because of Our Trump Support
Watch: Unhinged Leftist Has Mental Breakdown, Refuses Service To Trump Supporter in Vape Shop
Woman Says Restaurant Threw Her Out Over Trump Hat
A Canadian Restaurant Refused to Serve a Man Wearing a MAGA Hat and Now Its Yelp Score is Ruined
Restaurant manager fired for refusing service to man in MAGA hat
Man Sues Bar for Refusing Service Over Trump Hat
‘Latina For Trump’ Kicked Out of Arizona Bar For Wearing Red “MAGA” Hat (VIDEO)

So, what do you do if you are a manager dealing with political discussions in your office? What do you do if you are a worker and maybe, just maybe, you came to work – to work and not deal with political discussions. Well, either way, I have a few suggestions.

Okay, managers, as much as you may want to ban all political discussion in the workplace, you cannot. My understanding is employees have the right to engage in political discussions because the National Labor Relations Board classifies such discussion as a “protected concerted activity.” However, you can intervene when discussions become disrespectful or distracting because such could be construed as a hostile work environment. And nobody wants that. Managers can also step in if those political discussions are impeding productivity; so, there’s that. Discussing politics during lunch breaks, sorry managers, your hands are tied; grin and bear it. All that being said, I am not an expert on employment law in your state (or any other state for that matter). So, my suggestions should not be regarded as legal advice. Just sayin’…

And for the workers, 3 things to think about.

Point #1: Don’t discuss politics in the office. Why? Think of your political views the same way you regard your sex life— its a personal matter, not a professional one. In a perfect world, your co-workers may know that you vote but they don’t know how you vote.
Point #2: Don’t discuss politics in the office. Why? It creates bias. You might start to make assumptions and harbor resentment towards your co-workers once you learn their political leanings, and this could lead to a less-than-harmonious working relationship that stifles productivity because you don’t want to be around them anymore. .
Point #3: Don’t discuss politics in the office. Why? It makes workers feel isolated or it could make them feel bullied. Being the only Republican, being the only Democrats, being the only Libertarian or Green Party supporter need not be awkward; just so long as you veer away from political discussions. In some cases, political discussions intersect with social issues and as such, voicing a strong opinion on such things as same-sex marriage which could lead to some employees feeling discriminated against. Make sense?

And one final word to all the Republicans, Democrats, Democratic Socialists, Libertarians, Green Party Supporters, Liberals, Conservatives, far left radicals, far right radicals and anyone else I may have missed who are working in your office and mine, buckle up, the 2020 Presidential election is coming soon. God help us all.

If you love what you heard, hate what you heard or, don’t know what you just heard, I want to know about it. You can reach me at my website – www.JimStroud.com. In addition to finding source material and related information for this podcast episode, you’ll find other goodies that I hope will make you smile. Oh, before I go, please financially support this podcast with a little somethin’-somethin’ in my virtual tip jar. (There’s a link in the podcast description.) Your generosity encourages me to keep this podcast train chugging down the track. Whoot-whoot, whoot-whoot, whoot-whoot…

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Would you ride in a car without a driver?

#12 | Would you ride in a self-driving car? Yeah, neither would I.  As far as the public at large is concerned, they wouldn’t either. One 2018 survey cited only 21 percent of the public was willing to even try riding in an autonomous vehicle.  I think that’s a BIG problem for a lot of startups and major companies who have already invested a lot of money into the technology.  So, what can they do to convince the public to ride in them? Well, I have a few ideas. Tune in to hear them.


Click here to listen to this episode on Anchor.fm.

Subscribe to this podcast via your favorite podcast platform!

About the host:

Over the past decade, Jim Stroud has built an expertise in sourcing and recruiting strategy, public speaking, lead generation, video production, podcasting, online research, competitive intelligence, online community management and training. He has consulted for such companies as Microsoft, Google, MCI, Siemens, Bernard Hodes Group and a host of startup companies. During his tenure with Randstad Sourceright, he alleviated the recruitment headaches of their clients worldwide as their Global Head of Sourcing and Recruiting Strategy. His career highlights can be viewed on his website at www.JimStroud.com.

PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

Hi, I’m Jim Stroud and this is my podcast.

The path to progress is not always easy. Recently, I read a report from the DailyMail which sounded like a harbinger of things to come. Here’s a quote…

“Police in Arizona have recorded 21 incidents in the past two years concerning vigilante citizens who have hurled rocks, pointed guns at and slashed the tires of Waymo’s autonomous vans. In other cases, people stood in front of the vehicles to prevent them from driving, yelled at them, chased them or forced them off of the road…”

This type of reaction to technology is nothing new. In fact, its been going on for a lot longer than you might think. I’ll explain after this message.

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To fully understand the privacy of Facebook and how it’s likely to evolve, you need to understand one thing…Facebook executives want everyone to be public. As the service evolves, executives tend to favor our open access to information, meaning information you think is private will slowly become public, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be private if you want to. Facebook gives its users the option to lock things down, but users need to be aware of their controls, how to use them and how to prepare for future Facebook privacy changes. Facebook has not and will not make information obvious, and that’s where my special offer comes in. Go to JimStroud.com/free and download “The Very Unofficial Facebook Privacy Manual.” That’s JimStroud.com/free to download your free copy of “The Very Unofficial Facebook Privacy Manual.” One last time, download it now at JimStroud.com/free Operators are standing by.

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Imagine you are an Entrepreneur and you produced clothing for various customers around the world. One day, a machine was invented that did the work you performed, and it did it faster and more efficiently than you ever could. And to make matters even more interesting, the cost of using machines was cheaper than the cost of employing highly skilled laborers. Sound familiar? If it does, you might be a student of history because that very thing happened in the 19th century and it sparked a movement – the luddite movement.

The Luddites were 19th-century English textile who protested against newly developed labor-economizing technologies, primarily between the years 1811 and 1816. Inventions like the stocking frames, spinning frames and power looms introduced during the Industrial Revolution threatened to replace the highly skilled luddites with less-skilled, low-wage laborers who could run those machines and thus, leave them without work. The Luddite movement culminated in a region-wide rebellion in Northwestern England that required a massive deployment of military force to suppress.

Fast forward to the year 2015 and taxi drivers all over the world are protesting how Uber and its technology has disrupted their way of life. The backlash of the protesting taxi drivers included fires, arrests and unprecedented civil unrest. If you want to know the details, Google the term “uber riots” and be amazed by how far the disdain for Uber goes in certain countries.

Now fast forward to 2018 when people are attacking Waymo’s autonomous vans. When I read the article, my reflex was to dismiss the concern as neo-luddites fighting the inevitable future. However, as I read more about why the people were attacking the autonomous vehicles, I had to admit to sharing some of their concerns. Here are a few quotes from an article posted by The Next Web.

“One Arizonan, from the city of Chandler, became so fed up with the sight of Waymo‘s vans in his neighborhood that he stood on his lawn pointing a pistol at the human safety driver inside of one as it passed his home. He told police he wanted the person in the car to be afraid, presumably to send the message that self-driving cars aren’t welcome. He’s one of dozens of citizens (on record) who’ve engaged in wildly dangerous acts provoked by, apparently, nothing more than the idea of a car driving itself.”

Here’s another one…

“People have thrown rocks at Waymos. The tire on one was slashed while it was stopped in traffic. The vehicles have been yelled at, chased and one Jeep was responsible for forcing the vans off roads six times.”

And one more…

“Why are people so angry at self-driving cars? After all, none of the reported incidents we’ve seen indicate the people attacking machines and harassing their human safety drivers are experiencing road rage. It doesn’t appear as though anyone got cut off by a robot, or got tailgated, or had one sitting at a green light in front of them. It seems the existential threat that driverless cars represent is the sole catalyst for these outbursts.”

As I read deeper into the article and others like it, the resentment was not that the autonomous vehicles were taking people’s jobs away. It was primarily a safety concern. In March 2018, Elaine Herzberg was killed by a self-driving Uber vehicle and no one wants to see that history repeat itself. I get it. It is a very real concern. So, what can be done about it? What can car companies do to make the general public feel better about autonomous vehicles? Well, I have a few ideas…

“The Society of Risk Analysis” published a report in the Risk Analysis journal which sought to determine how safe is safe enough for self-driving vehicles to be accepted by the general public. According to their research, the answer is approximately four to five times as safe as human-driven vehicles. So, how do you do that?

Let’s say that all autonomous vehicles must be linked to a big brain in the sky that records every accident and every fatality caused by an autonomous vehicle. Once that incident is recorded, everybody sees what happened and every variable that contributed to the accident (weather conditions, human beings not paying attention, whatever). As soon as new data hits the system, a community of scientists works on a solution and programs that solution into all autonomous vehicles so the same accident, under the same conditions will not happen again. Furthermore, inside the autonomous vehicle is data detailing how many days since a fatality was caused by an autonomous vehicles. That data would be or should be, accessible to people before and after they ride in an autonomous vehicle; all so that they can feel empowered to make a decision that’s best for them. Make sense? Maybe not. I’m curious. How would you make autonomous vehicles safer?

If you love what you heard, hate what you heard or, don’t know what you just heard, I want to know about it. You can reach me at my website – www.JimStroud.com. In addition to finding source material and related information for this podcast episode, you’ll find other goodies that I hope will make you smile. Oh, before I go, please financially support this podcast with a little somethin’-somethin’ in my virtual tip jar. (There’s a link in the podcast description.) Your generosity encourages me to keep this podcast train chugging down the track. Whoot-whoot, whoot-whoot, whoot-whoot…

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How To Stop Tech Addiction

#11 | I read the other day that chronic social media use is as bad as drug addiction and I remember thinking, “Is that true?” Well, I did a little bit of research and the answer is yes, a very disturbing yes. I discuss how bad the tech addiction epidemic is and share an unlikely method for stopping tech addiction in our time.  The source of the improbable cure? Cocaine. Tune in for more details. This will be controversial, to say the least.  | Click here for information on protecting your privacy on Facebook.  And please support my Starbucks habit by dropping something in my virtual tip jar. Thank you.


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About the host:

Over the past decade, Jim Stroud has built an expertise in sourcing and recruiting strategy, public speaking, lead generation, video production, podcasting, online research, competitive intelligence, online community management and training. He has consulted for such companies as Microsoft, Google, MCI, Siemens, Bernard Hodes Group and a host of startup companies. During his tenure with Randstad Sourceright, he alleviated the recruitment headaches of their clients worldwide as their Global Head of Sourcing and Recruiting Strategy. His career highlights can be viewed on his website at www.JimStroud.com.

Subscribe now!

PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

Hi, I’m Jim Stroud and this is my podcast.

I stumbled across a very interesting article from the Miami Herald the other day and it got me thinking. Well, let me share a quote from the article, before I start…

We like to say we’re addicted to our phones or an app or some new show on a streaming video service. But for some people, tech gets in the way of daily functioning and self-care. We’re talking flunk-your-classes, can’t-find-a-job, live-in-a-dark-hole kinds of problems, with depression, anxiety and sometimes suicidal thoughts part of the mix.

Suburban Seattle, a major tech center, has become a hub for help for so-called “tech addicts,” with residential rehab, psychologists who specialize in such treatment and 12-step meetings.

“The drugs of old are now repackaged. We have a new foe,” Cosette Rae says of the barrage of tech. A former developer in the tech world, she heads a Seattle area rehab center called reSTART Life, one of the few residential programs in the nation specializing in tech addiction.

Tech addiction is real! I’m going to talk about that and an unlikely solution found from an experiment with cocaine. Stay tuned!

Tech addiction is real, very real and I am concerned that it will get worse; especially when I consider the research. Let me share with you a few random stats related to technology addiction.

Research from a site called “The Daily Infographic” says:

    • The average person checks their cellphone 110 times a day. (Hah! You checked it just then, didn’t you?)
    • 75% of drivers have admitted to texting, at least once, while driving.
    • 61% sleep with their cellphone under the pillow, turned on or, next to their bed.
    • 50% of people feel uneasy if they leave their cellphone at home
    • 44% check job related email when on vacation.
    • 26% of all car accidents are caused by phone usage
    • 20% of people between 18-34 have used smartphones during sex
    • 12% of adults use their phones in the shower

But all of that is cellphone related. What about video games?

A study appearing in the medical journal Pediatrics, conducted by research scientist Douglas A. Gentile, Ph.D., examined video game usage rates of 3,034 children and teenagers. Video game addiction statistics from this study revealed the following:

  • The average length of time spent playing video games was 20 hours per week
  • An estimated 72 percent of American households play video games
  • An estimated nine percent of the 3,034 participants in the study showed signs of video game addiction
  • Four percent of study participants were categorized as extreme users who played video games 50 hours per week on average

And here are a few more observations on video game addiction that I found from various sources online.

  • The same regions of the brain that are activated when craving occurs in alcohol and drug addicts are also activated in video game addicts when they see images of computer games.
  • People who have higher levels of trait anxiety, aggressive behavior, and neuroticism are at a higher risk for video game addiction.
  • Students addicted to video games have lower academic grades than their non-addicted peers.
  • Forty-one percent of people who play online video games admitted that they played computer games as an escape from the real world.

As alarming as these stats and insights are, I am simultaneously encouraged and discouraged when I learned of a possible cure for addictions in general and possibly, tech addictions, specifically. The source of the research is Cocaine.org.

Canadian psychologist Bruce K. Alexander and his colleagues at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada wanted to test the impact of environmental factors associated with addiction. So, they built an elaborate rat cage. Inside this rat cage, rats were given the ability to socialize with other male and female rats, toys to keep the rats amused, rat condominiums that featured multiple levels for sleeping, and tunnels so the rats had somewhere to play and hide. They also made cocaine available to them via a lever that they could easily access when desired. Bruce Alexander and his colleagues nicknamed it “Rat Park.” Alexander and company then compared the behavior of the Rat Park Rats with rats who were given the same access to cocaine but without all the luxuries that Rat Park had.

The end result? The Rat Park Rats rarely pursued the cocaine; even after they were exposed to it. Conversely, the rats who were kept isolated in cages that did not contain amusements nor other rats to fellowship with, were much more likely to become addicted to the drugs offered.

These experiments continued with scientists using different variations of rugs, different types of rats, and different environments. The conclusion was the same. When the fundamental needs of a rat were met, addiction to drugs was unlikely. The scientific community was highly skeptical of these results initially but, eventually accepted them when other studies produced similar results. And just in case you’re curious as to when this all happened, the Rat Park experiments were conducted in the late 1970’s and published between 1978 and 1981.

I am encouraged by this research because if meeting the fundamental needs of a rat can lessen the chance of their drug addiction, maybe the same can be said for humans. And if so, what are the fundamental needs of humans? And if they are met, would they cancel out all addictions? I’m not an expert on psychology so, I don’t know for sure. But I can guess that at least one fundamental need that all humans have is the need to feel connected with other people; in other words, friendship. And that’s when I get… discouraged.

I get discouraged because loneliness is an epidemic. Search DuckDuckGo, Bing or Google for the phrase “loneliness epidemic” and you will find out that loneliness is widespread; especially among Americans where some researchers say 3 out of every 4 are affected. And therein is the paradox of tech addiction. Developing real-life friendships and a sense of belonging, will make people less susceptible to tech addiction. However, for tech addicts to receive that help, they would have to move away from technology. Sigh… It is a conundrum. How do we stop tech addiction or at least, stem the tide?

    • Maybe the solution is more tech addict rehab programs like restart Life.
    • Maybe it’s making digital detox retreats mainstream. Have you heard of those? As I understand it, you spend time in nature without your cellphone but, there’s more to it than that. As an example, check out digitaldetox.org.
    • Maybe we can start removing free wifi in restaurants and bars and airports and other public places and encourage people to talk to the person next to them. It could be a big marketing campaign, “Put down the phone, pick up a friend. Be a better human.”
    • Maybe Hollywood and pop stars could make it uncool and/or rude to keep your face buried in a smartphone by removing the act from movies and TV shows and music videos. It’s not unheard of. People used to smoke on TV and movies all the time but now, it never happens. I’m sure that affected the sales of cigarettes as it surely changed the culture of society. I bet it could reduce tech addiction as well.
    • But I’m rambling. If you have any ideas for reducing tech addiction, I’d love to hear it and share it with my audience. So, share your thoughts?

Privacy is dead and dying more each day…

#10 | Amazon reported that 100 million Alexa devices have been sold as of this writing. That’s great for Amazon but for you, maybe not so much. If you are concerned about your privacy then, its not good for you to have Alexa (and devices like it) in your home because it is almost always listening and recording everything going on. Doubt me? Tune in to this episode to learn why you should be concerned about Alexa and even more concerned about what Google has planned for your home. Its scary.   | Click here for information on protecting your privacy on Facebook.  And please support my Starbucks habit by dropping something in my virtual tip jar. Thank you.


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Over the past decade, Jim Stroud has built an expertise in sourcing and recruiting strategy, public speaking, lead generation, video production, podcasting, online research, competitive intelligence, online community management and training. He has consulted for such companies as Microsoft, Google, MCI, Siemens, Bernard Hodes Group and a host of startup companies. During his tenure with Randstad Sourceright, he alleviated the recruitment headaches of their clients worldwide as their Global Head of Sourcing and Recruiting Strategy. His career highlights can be viewed on his website at www.JimStroud.com.

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 PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

Hi, I’m Jim Stroud and this is my podcast.

Happy New Year! I hope 2019 brings you every positive thing you hope for and more. I also hope it brings you more privacy. A recent report from Reuters cites how a user of Amazon’s Alexa got access to a thousand recordings from another user because of a [quote] “human error” by the company. [end quote] Among the recordings, a man and a female companion could be… overheard and due to the data that was accidentally released, the man and woman on the recordings were able to be identified and contacted.

When I read that story, my immediate reaction was why where there so many recordings available to be found in the first place? And if they were revealed by human error, how many more recordings are out there and for what purpose are they being saved? I’ll give you the answer and give you something more to worry about, after this message.

To fully understand the privacy of Facebook and how it’s likely to evolve, you need to understand one thing…Facebook executives want everyone to be public. As the service evolves, executives tend to favor our open access to information, meaning information you think is private will slowly become public, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be private if you want to. Facebook gives its users the option to lock things down, but users need to be aware of their controls, how to use them and how to prepare for future Facebook privacy changes. Facebook has not and will not make information obvious, and that’s where my special offer comes in. Go to JimStroud.com/free and download “The Very Unofficial Facebook Privacy Manual.” That’s JimStroud.com/free to download your free copy of “The Very Unofficial Facebook Privacy Manual.” One last time, download it now at JimStroud.com/free Operators are standing by.

For Alexa and Google Home to work, they have to listen out for specific “wake words.” In the case of Google Home, its “OK Google” and for Alexa, its “Alexa.” So, of course, they have to listen constantly in order to be of service. As far as all those recorded messages that Alexa tracks, Amazon uses it to educate its artificial intelligence systems so that they will better understand us humans when we make our requests. Google does the same thing with Google Home. If you are uncomfortable with listening devices perpetually recording your daily life, you will be very disturbed by what I am about to share with you now.

Google has recently filed two patents that will make it extremely easy for them to eavesdrop on your home activity, surveil your way of life and generate a TON of money by selling that data to third-parties. How? Well, let’s explore the possibilities with patent #1 entitled – “Privacy-aware personalized content for the smart home”

Imagine this, a Google device scans and analyzes the objects in your home and then offers you content based on what it finds. For example, a smart camera could recognize Will Smith’s face on a T-shirt on the floor of your closet. It then looks at your browser history and detects that you follow Will Smith’s YouTube channel and watched some of his videos recently. After analyzing all that, the system would say to you, “Hey, you seem to life Will Smith. His new movie is playing in a theater near you. Would you like the show times?”

Now, let’s look even deeper into this patent. Using object recognition, Google could calculate your “fashion taste” by scanning your clothing, and even estimate your income based on any “expensive mechanical and/or electronic devices” it detects. Once it gets used to voices typically in your home, it could determine the genders and age of the people who live with you. From all that data, the Google device could recommend what to watch on TV, what movies to see and where to shop, not only for you but for every person who lives in your house. Wow. How about that?

Let’s switch gears a bit and look now at patent #2, which has a long, but ominous title to it, “Smart Home Automation System that suggests or automatically implements selected household policies based on sensed observations.”

The second patent proposes a smart-home system that will help raise your kids for you (and I’m only slightly exaggerating). Parents could program a device to note if it overhears “foul language” from children, scan internet usage for mature or objectionable content, or use “occupancy sensors” to determine if certain areas of the house are accessed while they’re gone— for example, the liquor cabinet. The system could be set to “change a smart lighting system color to red and flash the lights” as a warning to children or even power off lights and devices if the children are grounded.

Language from both patents reveals just how intuitive these smart devices are, as they listen to the noises you make as you move around your house. For example, Google’s smart-home system can figure out “if a household member is working” from the sound of a keyboard clicking, a desk chair moving, and papers shuffling in the room. Google can also figure out the mood you’re in based on the sound of your voice. It can tell when you’re in the kitchen based on the sound of the refrigerator door opening. It can even estimate your dental hygiene based on “the sounds and/or images of teeth brushing.” Wow. Again, I say, wow.

Alexa, Google Home and Facebook’s new “Portal” device (which is a video phone that follows you around the room) all those things are great and a convenience for what they do; but, is the convenience of these devices worth what we are losing in terms of privacy? It seems like every other day I hear how hackers have stolen data from millions of users. It makes me wonder how much, if at all, I can trust big tech companies to keep my information private. If my web data is not secure, why would I want to make even more intimate data accessible via smart devices like Alexa or these new patented inventions that Google just filed? And, I know I’m not the only one to feel this way which is why, I’m going to make a prediction. In 2019, people will begin choosing privacy over convenience by choosing to buy gadgets that do not connect to the internet; which is not much of a prediction because its already happening in the mobile phone market.

In August 2018, it was reported by Daily Mail that while global sales of smartphones increased by just 2 percent however, sales of ‘dumb phones’ rose by 5 percent. Dumb phones are just what you expect them to be, devices that can only send and receive phonecalls (and in some cases, send and receive text messages). You can buy one for $20, which is what the Alcatel 10.66G retails for or you can go high-end and spend $400 for a Light Phone 2.

In the age of big tech, privacy is dead. I think we forget that because we are so addicted to technology. I think I’m going to remind us every now and then with special podcast episodes like this one. Yeah, I think that’s a good idea.

If you love what you heard, hate what you heard or, don’t know what you just heard, I want to know about it. You can reach me at my website – www.JimStroud.com. In addition to finding source material and related information for this podcast episode, you’ll find other goodies that I hope will make you smile. Oh, before I go, please financially support this podcast with a little somethin’-somethin’ in my virtual tip jar. (There’s a link in the podcast description.) Your generosity encourages me to keep this podcast train chugging down the track. Whoot-whoot, whoot-whoot, whoot-whoot…