My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: November 2014

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Foursquare splits into Foursquare and Swarm - Twitter-eqsue Restaurant Recommendations while Tracking Friend's Feeds and Plans as the Real Beat Comes Alive

“We saw two common use cases in the old Foursquare App that are best encapsulated in the night of a New Yorker. For dinner, you look for a place that matches your taste, and afterwards you look for a bar where your friends are. In less than two percent of App opens did we see those two behaviors overlap. No one was saying, ‘I’m in the mood for chili, I wonder which of my friends are getting chili right now.'”

 VP of product experience, Jon Steinback, commenting on why Foursquare split into two Apps, Foursquare and Swarm

Fans of LBS (Locating Based Service) Foursquare, I have good news and I have more Good news!

First the good News!

Foursquare is now on Window Phone and the Foursqaure App for Windows Phone has already been in the Windows Phone Store since Wednesday November 19th 2014 as reported in the article “Foursquare finally launches its revamped App on Windows Phone”, published 10/11/2014 by NAPIER LOPEZ, The Next Web.

The News was officially announced on Foursquare blog in their post “The all-new Foursquare for Windows Phone is here. Get it today”, published NOVEMBER 19, 2014 (10:25 AM), The Foursquare Blog.

Foursquare has survived it’s makeover that started on Thursday May 15th 2014 that saw it split into two separate Apps, one called Swarm and the other still named Foursquare as reported in “Get to know Foursquare's new Swarm App”, published May 15, 2014 10:00 AM PDT by Jason Cipriani, CNET News.

Check-ins are now down with the Swarm App, that now has new and improved features that Foursquare users will love. Meanwhile Foursquare has separated to basically become a recommendation service to compete against Yelp, much to the dismay of long-time aficionados of Foursquare as noted in the article “Fly Or Die: The New Foursquare”, published Aug 12, 2014 by Jordan Crook, TechCrunch.

The Neighbourhoods features makes it possible for you to go into stealth mode by swiping from left-to-right across your avatar and location. Orange for active, grey for invisible to your friends; very simple!

You can’t see them and they can't see you, very much like Facebook's Nearby Friends App launched earlier in May 2014 as described in my blog article entitled “Facebook launches Nearby Friends feature - WhatsApp VoIP and Oculus Rift VR Wearable Computing Takes flight as FB look towards the Future in the Year of the Horse”.

That said, Swarm has also fixed the Mayor-for-life debacle by making a mayorship something that's shared among friends. No more Mayors for life; that honour is dependent of you actually frequenting the place the most, making the gamification of Foursquare a more friend-centric affair.

They're also killed the Badges and replaced them with stickers, which you unlock by checking. Probably you never did check in before on the older Foursquare App, but the process is the same in Swarm; tap once to check in and be told where you are, with the second tap confirming your location.

Swarm Feeds - Tracking your Friend to get free Coffee while they learn your Plans just got easier

Feeds are now the thing and there are four of them. You have one that's basically like a Targeting range finder to tell you how close your Friends are, kinds like Radar. Handy if you wanna sponge on a friend for a cup of Expresso.

For the nostalgic for the old days of Foursquare comes the Chronological list of your friends activities so you can known who best to bother. The reverse is with the Plans feed; you post what you're up to in that feed. Finally a bit of familiarity with Facebook with a feed for likes, comments and Friends Requests rounds out the lot.

Next feed is the familiar chronological list of friend activity. Plans, which is something I'll cover more of in just a minute, is where you can broadcast what you're up to, and ask friends to join you. The last tab is where you'll find notifications of likes, comments, and friend requests.

The New Foursquare – New logo and Recommendations by the Score

While Swarm lets you locate you friends to beg them money, the new Foursquare now has a complete make-over, including a new logo as noted in the article “Foursquare gets personal with local search and new logo”, published July 23, 2014 8:30 PM PDT by Dara Kerr, CNET News.

The Foursquare App tries to determine you actually taste in food by hitting you with a survey the minute you launch the App for the first time as noted in the article “This Is the new Foursquare”, published Aug 6, 2014 by Jordan Crook, Techcrunch. It then starts recommend you to restaurants that it has listed based on your tastes and not where your friends have been.

Apparently what you like to eat and the fact that your friend might like it are mutually exclusive concepts; hence the reason why Foursquare management felt a split into two Apps was necessary.

To this end, the much better looking Foursquare App and has come a long way since March 2013 when it only had Burger King discount deal in partnership with American Express as I'd reported in my blog article entitled “Foursquare ramps up Business Model with Burger King Discount Deals from VISA and MasterCard - How Telecom Providers MNP helps The Conjuring of Free Calling Credit via LBS”.

Foursquare follows the recommendation of an army of Restaurant connoisseurs from TimeOut, the Washington Post, the New York Times and yes, your friends…on Foursquare, who you can follow if they give great reviews. You soon learn why a place is good or bad instead of being greeted with Tales from the Crypt like Yelp.

Foursquare  review section reminds me of Twitter as you're only got a few characters to really can a Restaurant, making the possibility of bumping into long-winded narratives about bad food and dirty waiter as is the case on Yelp very unlikely.

, in competing against Yelp, present’s Yelp-ish behavior by its members even as Swarm has basically evolved into what Foursquare should have been.

90% of former Foursquare users agree; they're actively checking in again, according to VP of Product Experience, Jon Steinback, who also hinted at game-centric future for Swarm, quote: “With the old gamified system, only a few people could actually win. We want to reinvent the game mechanics to make them more relevant. We’re thinking about stickers and interesting ways to compete with friends instead of the whole network, which means that our plans around gamification in Swarm won’t include points or mayorships.”

After all, your friend may not like you taste in Restaurants and aren't like to join you. But you can still Swarm with them after you're girlfriend have parted ways for the evening for a night on the town in New York, when the real beat comes alive!

Here’s the link:

@PizzaHutJm Subconscious Menu by Swedish Tobii Technology Eye-Tracking heralds Robotic Pizza Makers and Drone Deliveries by 2017

“We wanted to try a few ideas on the traditional menu format and we’re delighted to have developed the world's first Subconscious Menu, a unique way to reinvent the dining experience”

Head of Marketing at Pizza Hut, Kathryn Austin, explaining their Subconscious Menu

Looks like the peeps that work in the Fast Food restaurants might have more than the coming of Robots taking away their jobs to fear as I’d predicted in my blog article entitled “Fast Food Robot taking over by 2017 - How Drones like Amazon and PrimeAir and not Humanoid Robots will be the first Robots by 2015”.

In the first sign that eye-gaze technology has practical application, Pizza Hut has rolled out a new menu that employs eye-tracking technology to help you make up your mind as to what you want to order as toppings as noted in the article “Pizza Hut's crazy new menu lets you order with your mind”, published 28 Nov 2014 7:00AM GMT By Leah Hyslop, the UK Telegraph.

For those long in the Fast Food Game, this is really just Pizza Hut trying to one up Domino's Pizza as noted in the article “Pizza Hut’s New Subconscious Eye-Tracking Menu Lets Customers Order With Their Eyes (Video)”, published November 29, 4:14 AM by James Geddes, Tech Times.

Dominoes Pizza, their arch-enemy in the Pizza Delivery game, had recently launched an App and Webpage that allows you to track the delivery of your Pizza much as you would do a package, albeit it's not really accurate as noted in the article “Is the Domino's Pizza Tracker Telling the Truth?”, published 10/07/14 10:18am by Joel Montgomery - Quora, Gizmodo.

How Pizza Hut’s Subconscious Menu Works – Pizza desperate to attract Millennial Customers

Pizza Hut's response may be this Subconscious Menu, which has no relation to the Jamaican Dancehall artiste Konshens but it certainly means that they’ve got something bubbling that may come to Pizza Hut in Jamaica. Who knows, when they launch the Subconscious Menu in Jamaica, they may have the artiste representin’ the product for them!

It is basically a Microsoft Surface Tablet running an algorithm that control a pair of Retina-tracking Cameras in an attachment on the base of the Tablet.

The Tablet displays twenty (20) key Pizza toppings which the customer peruses with the eyes not their fingers. The system, designed for Pizza Hut by Swedish company Tobii Technology, tracks your retina gaze and calculates in less than 3 seconds which ingredients you've looks at the longest. Pizza Hut is desperate for Change to attract Millennials (ages 18 to 28) as they’ve been experiencing a fall in sales in the US of A as explained below!

Using a computer program, it then chooses from Pizza Hut's 4,896 possible ingredient combinations and then the Robot (now you can start worrying Fast Food Workers) in the kitchen bakes the perfect Pizza to order.

Fast Food workers, are you scared for your Jobs yet? Wait until I explain how it actually works and how it may replace you in the Working World!

Pizza Hut's Subconscious Menu - Tobii Technology Eye-Tracking makes Subconscious Decide for You

Currently under testing, it's somewhat based on psychologist Sigmung Freud's idea of your personality being governed by the interplay of the Id, which is always seeking pleasure, the SuperEgo, which is your moral compass and the Ego, which is you Conscious self that's aware of what's going on as explained in the article “The Id, Ego and Superego - The Structural Model of Personality”, viewed November 30th 2014 By Kendra Cherry, About Psychology.

In short, the Technology is interesting as noted in the article “Pizza Hut launches digital menu that reads your mind by tracking eye movement... and tells you what to order in 2.5 seconds”, PUBLISHED 28 November 2014 10:36 GMT By ANUCYIA VICTOR, DailyMail UK.

But it reveals more about the inner workings of our decision making process and the promise of how the algorithm works to the point of bordering on mind-reading that should really fascinate you.

It suggests that our subconscious, ruled by our Id and SuperEgo are really drawn to nutritious “See-Food”, based on the quote from Consumer Psychologist, Dr. Simon Moore: “We have quite an extensive subconscious relationship with our food and it's certainly the case psychologically that 'we eat with our eyes. We are automatically drawn to foods that give us more nutrition- it is a safety mechanism we've inherited from primitive man that still plays a role in our subconscious decision making, even when we might be choosing Pizza”.

Thus, in reality, because of prior knowledge of what we eat and what our body knows is good for us, our subconscious has already made up its mind as to what we really want and need and not what we desire. This is often expressed by the Ego side of our personality that has to deal with the reality of the purchasing decision - both before and after the purchase.

Tobii Technology Eye-Tracking - Heralds Robotic Pizza makers and Drone Deliveries by 2017

That feeling of regret after having bought something, often referred to as Buyer's Remorse, is skipped by the Subconscious Menu, tapping instead into your SuperEgo and Id buried deep within your Subconscious to make the decision for you. This eye-tracking technology may help consumers make better online shopping Decisions that they won’t regret.

The result in a 98% rate of satisfaction according to Pizza Hut, except if you and your friend can’t decide who's eyes, or mind for that matter, to use to choose the Pizza. But the bigger picture here is that this tech may end up being used not only by Pizza Hut but by Online Shopping Portals such as Amazon and even brick-and-mortar establishments such as Grocery stores and Supermarkets to make it easier for people to purchase items.

Instead of shoppers wandering the Supermarket as if lost in a trance, you can instead look at a list of images of items you want and have them chosen and bagged for you. In and out in no time flat and you’ve shopped for what you want and need and not what you desire, all thanks to your subconscious.

Social Networks such as Facebook and Twitter and even Tablet makers may incorporate eye-tracking technology to make decision making much easier for users of Social Media, eliminating the need to touch Tablet screen with your hands. No more smudged Tablet Screens requiring Screen protectors as noted in my Geezam blog article entitled “How to make your own Cleaning Fluid and Cleaning Tips for your Smartphone or Tablet”.

Retina Eye Tracking Technology has amazing applications in other areas as well, mainly in Law enforcement to capture Criminals. It may even act as a replacement for Passwords for online Accounts and Credit Card PIN (Personal Identification Numbers) with Eye-tracking acting as the input medium for Passthoughts as explained in my blog article entitled “UC Berkeley School of Information research Passthoughts as Passwords - The Matrix Frees you Mind with Johnny Mnemonic unhackable password”.

For now, Pizza works on the Fast food Industry have much to fear; it won't be long now before Pizza Hut realizes that they can boost sales. Robots baking Pizza and then Drones Delivering said Pizza next......


Friday, November 28, 2014

Why Chocolate Shortage in 2020 as Chinese, Indian and American addiction Inflates Price of Cocoa

“When it comes to Cocoa, the general rule of thumb is that demand outstrips supply and this has been the case for the last few years although 2013/14 has actually seen a 40,000 tonne surplus”

Lauren Bandy, food analyst at Euromonitor International in an interview about the impending Global shortage in Chocolate by 2020

Shocking news for Chocolate Lovers everywhere as I sip my Miracle Sweetened Instant Chocolate with Hazel Nut Flavour, which surprisingly for a 170g (6oz) tin only costs JA$126 at the Hi-Lo Supermarket in Cross Roads!
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I sip it carefully as it appears that Chocolate may be running out by the year 2020 as reported in the article “Don’t panic, but we could be running out of Chocolate”, published 17 Nov 2014 5:58PM GMT by Lauren Davidson, Telegraph UK, if the current trend of the rising cost of Cocoa is anything to go by.

The price increase is mainly due to a fungal disease called Frosty Pod Rot that's killed off a third of the world's Cocoa in West Africa. West Africa is the major suppliers of Cocoa, the raw material for making Chocolate.

Meanwhile Ivory Coast and Ghana have been hit by a drought, forcing many farmers to switch to more water-resistant crops such as Corn and Rubber as detailed in “Don't panic, but we are RUNNING OUT of CHOCOLATE”, published Nov 17, 2014 13:51 By Helena Horton, Mirror UK.

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Chocolate Study – Chocolate a Luxury Food

This fits with projections based on a study released back in December 2011 by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that predicted that Global Warming would result in a Global Cocoa and hence Chocolate Shortage as reported in the article “Chocolate will become an expensive luxury item due to climate change”, published 26 Dec 2011 8:00AM GMT by Louise Gray By Louise Gray, UK Telegraph.

Throw into that cauldron Ebola Virus scare that's decimate the labour forces in West Africa as reported in my blog article entitled “Jamaica officially on Ebola Alert - 4033 Dead in West Africa as US of A may Quarantine Latin America and the Caribbean” and you have a recipe for disaster.

Jamaican Chocolatier Averell French, owner and CEO of Mount Pleasant Chocolatiers uses Jamaican Cocoa to make Chocolate as explained in my blog article entitled “Mount Pleasant Chocolatiers Averell French making Chocolate - Master Architect is Jamaica's sole Chocolatier with Chocolate delights to resurrect Jamaica's Candy Industry”. So we already have a foot in this business.

So will Chocolate become a luxury food only affordable by the very wealthy by 2020?

Chocolate shortage in 2020 – Price of Cocoa on the rise making Chocolatiers see Dark Future

A deficit in Cocoa supply compared to demand to the world’s biggest Chocolate makers, most of whom are located in the US of A according to the International Cocoa Organization.

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According to the International Cocoa Organization, Cocoa has been on the rise:

1.      70,000 tonnes in 2014
2.      1,000,000 tonnes by 2020
3.      2,000,000 tonnes by 2030

This deficit has caused prices to rise, according to Zurich, Switzerland based Barry Callebaut, the world’s largest Chocolate manufacturer, who up till Sunday August 2014 reported the following:

1.      1.72m tonnes of Chocolate sold in 2014
2.      1.54m tonnes of Chocolate sold up to August 31st 2013

Thanks to the problems with the world's largest Cocoa Producers, the price of Cocoa has gone up considerably:

1.      £1,600 per tonne in 2013
2.      £2,000 per tonne in 2014

The following graph from the International Cocoa Organization shows that the price is heading North, and real fast too:

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As of October 2014 according to the graph above, the prices of raw Cocoa stood at £ 3100.83 per tonne.

Chinese and American want Dark Chocolate – Health addiction means increased profits until 2020

So what's causing the huge demand in Chocolate? Dark Chocolate, which actually is just Chocolate with upwards of 70% to 80% real Cocoa and is actually healthier for you.

China and India are developing a taste for Chocolate rivaling that of the West for Wine as their income levels rise, which is also headed for a global shortage as I’d predicted in my blog article entitled “Australian analyst Morgan Stanley Stats say World Faces Global Wine Shortage - The Glass is either Half Empty of Half full as Chinese and Americans become more like the French”.

Also, Americans increasing deep love for being health conscious is resulting in a run on Dark Chocolate. Combined, they’re basically pushing up the price, which small producers of Cocoa for Coffee have been benefitting from as noted in the article “French to fill void for local Chocolate”, published Wednesday, April 16, 2014 BY STEVEN JACKSON Business , The Jamaica Observer.

So in short, not only will we run out of Wine, but also the Chocolate bon-bons to go with it as well. Hopefully by then we’ll be making Wine from every conceivable fruit to take advantage of that coming shortage as suggested in my blog article entitled “Red Stripe's Sorrel Beer - Opens up the Possibility of a Jamaican Fruit Tree of Beer Flavours

To put it nicely, until that day that Chocolate become a luxury food, Jamaica will make a killing if we follow Chocolatier Averell French, owner and CEO of Mount Pleasant Chocolatiers and start  processing it into Dark Chocolate.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

US$189 Jolla Tablet - Jolla Smartphone Fans and Developers combined with Price and Specs Guarantee Success

Looks like we have another Tablet and smartphone OS sailing the highly competitive Seas of Consumers Mobile Computing Device!

This time it’s powered Crowdsourcing.

Introducing the Jolla Tablet that runs on Sailfish OS that surpassed its initial funding goal within two (2) hours of their Indiegogo campaign going live as reported in the article “Android rival Jolla hits crowdfunding target for first Sailfish OS Tablet”, published November 19, 2014 1:00 AM PST by Andrew Hoyle, CNET News.

The Jolla Tablet's Indiegogo campaign, which started on Wednesday November 19th 2014 and will culminate on Tuesday December 9th, 2014 (11:59pm PT), has already blown past the US$380,000 goal. With thirteen (13) days to go, 7,923 backers have already raised US$1,271,939 as of Thursday November 27th 2014. The Jolla Tablet's has certainly amassed quite a following!

Sailfish OS, the operating system that the Tablet runs on, promises not only to be Open Source but also bake in multi-tasking and the ability to run Android apps. Developers will love this Tablet, as the SailfishOS and be customized to their heart's desire.

The Jolla Tablet's support indicates that they have a strong following, which would reassure Developers hat choose to throw their funding dollars behind this venture that it's got baked-in users.

Best of all, based on the US$189 Jolla Tablet's Specs which are comparable to the Apple iPad Mini 3, it's set to expand beyond the confines of its 7,923 Indiegogo backers.

US$189 Jolla Tablet - Jolla Smartphone Fans and Developers combined with Price and specs guarantee success

There’s little to say here.

Sailfish OS first began swimming about in November 2013 on the Jolla smartphone that had limited release in Finland and Europe priced US$510 (€399), with many comparing it to the Nokia N9 at as stated in the article “Jolla prices first Sailfish OS smartphone at €399 for a 2013 launch” published May 20, 2013 05:37 am By Aaron Souppouris, The Verge.

Not surprising, as Finland is where the ex-Nokia founders of Jolla call home as noted in the article “Jolla: Ex-Nokia employees launch smartphone”, published 27 November 2013 Last updated at 13:38 GMT By Dave Lee, Technology reporter, BBC News.

So a Tablet almost a year later is kinda fast, suggesting that probably many of the 7,923 backers may actually be Developers of the Jolla smartphone who see huge potential in the Jolla Tablet.

Once their Indiegogo funding round is completed, the Jolla Tablets will retail in the following Countries through their suppliers:

1.      China
2.      Europe
3.      Hong Kong
4.      India
5.      Russia
6.      UK
7.      US of A

According to analyst IDC, Tablets aren't doing so well this year, with shipment growing only by 7.2% in 2014 compared to 52.5% in 2013, a very dramatic slowdown  as reported in the article “IDC: Tough year for Tablets, not as bad as thought for PCs”, published November 25, 2014 11:48 AM PST by Edward Moyer, CNET News.

Still, the specs, Price and built-in following thanks to their previous Jolla Smartphone and now their clearly successful Indiegogo Crowdfunding run for the US$189 Jolla Tablet guarantees that this Tablet will be a hit, both in Finland and the rest of the World!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

US$83 Million worth Amazon Fire smartphones being sold for US$199 unlocked - Amazon Downfall from US$199 to US$0.99 on 2-Year Contract in 2 Months

Looking for a smartphone deal this Black Friday and not too picky about the mode of the smartphone? Then I've got a treat for you. But first some helpful advice from CNET's Bridget Carey about Shopping Online this Black Friday as described in my Geezam blog article entitled “How to ship things to Jamaica after you’re purchase them online

Then head online to Amazon and buy the Amazon Fire smartphone for only US$199 unlocked as reported in the article “Amazon Fire Phone Gets Another Fire Sale: $199 Unlocked”, published November 26th 2014 by Darrell Etherington, TechCrunch.

What happened to the Amazon Fire smartphone? Short answer: low-end specs in a gimmicky, overpriced smartphone.

Amazon Fire smartphone - From Volksphone to Roasting in a Fire Sale

Apparently since the Amazon Fire smartphone launched back in June 2014 as reported in my blog article entitled “US$199 Amazon Fire smartphone is Amazon Prime member's Nirvana – Shopping by Nodding your Head and Finding Waldo”, much was expected of this smartphone tailor-made for Amazon Prime users.

I even went as far as to call it the Volksphone in my Geezam blog article entitled “Amazon Fire is a Volkswagen for Amazon Prime subscribers that’ll drive shop-on-the-go Online Obsession”.

It's features made impulsive shipping by taking photographs using Firefly and Dynamic Perspective apparently were too gimmicky for the Amazon Prime crowd and it's so-so specs of 4.7″ IPS screen, Quad-core 2.2GHz Processor with Adreno 330 graphics, 2GB of RAM, 13MP rear-facing camera with image stabilization and an f2.0 lens made the mainstream shun the smartphone.

Worse, it was cursed from the start as it was launched on AT&T on a 2 year contract for US$199.

Only on AT&T. Bad move Amazon!

US$83 million worth of unsold Amazon Fire - US$199 to US$0.99 on 2-year Contract in 2 months

Within two (2) months, Amazon had to drop the price for this ordinary smartphone from US$199 to US0.99 on 2-year Contract in 2 months.

“Fire Sale” are the words that best describe this phenomenon. but when it became apparent that Americans weren't feeling the smartphone when during the Amazon Earnings Call on Thursday October 23, 2014, it was revealed that for the Third Quarter of 2014, Amazon had US$83 million dollars worth of unsold Amazon Fire smartphones as noted in the article “Amazon Fire Phone Flops”, published Oct 23, 2014 by Greg Kumparak, TechCrunch.

Amazon’s SVP of Devices David Limp told Fortune Magazine it was a miscalculation in pricing in the article “Amazon exec: We priced the Fire phone wrong”, published OCTOBER 30, 2014, 6:25 PM EST by JP Mangalindan, Fortune.

He claimed that Amazon were committed to the Amazon Fire Smartphone for the long haul as stated in the article “Amazon’s Fire Phone Product Efforts Will Continue Despite Early Stumbles”, published Oct 31, 2014 by Darrell Etherington, TechCrunch.

So as Black Friday approaches, it's clear they cannot sell off US$83 million dollars worth of unsold Amazon Fire on AT&T alone….T-Mobile has to come to their rescue. So expect to see the US$0.99 Amazon Fire smartphone get a software upgrade to Google Android KitKat to capture more Amazon Prime the Year of the Sheep 2015.