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Trump’s AT&T merger position at odds with FCC dismantling of net neutrality

(TECH NEWS) We all know Trump hates the TWC/AT&T merger, but no one has noticed that the FCC is simultaneously filling the companies’ pockets. Is Trump’s administration even aware of this conflict?

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A snag in Trump’s fabric

Though it’s been clear from the start of his campaign for presidency that Donald Trump’s focus is to bring jobs and grow small America’s wealth, one snag in the fabric of his stout business-first beliefs is that of net neutrality.

The administration is currently fighting against a “big cable” merger while simultaneously preparing to stuff their pockets by dismantling net neutrality.

The contradiction makes it impossible to tell if they’re in favor of the mega brands or not.

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Fighting the potential monopoly

Referred to by his fans and biggest supporters as the “champion for the forgotten millions” and being for the “little man” (referring to small business in America), he has repeatedly spoken out against the potential AT&T/Time Warner Cable merger.

It would, indeed, be a huge monopoly. The biggest service provider merged with a company that owns HBO, Warner Bros (that means Harry Potter, folks), and the NBA (I mean – name a network, TWC likely owns it. Yep, that’s one of them. That one too. And that one).

Though mildly surprising, it doesn’t quite reach shock-level when noted that CNN is also owned by Time Warner Cable. The network with which Trump potentially has the biggest beef. It makes sense that the man who casts a side eye at the media would not want to deepen their pockets or their reach.

So – that’s easy, right? Done. Figured it out.

Not so fast.

Limiting Americans’ access to info

Trump’s hand-selected FCC Chairman pick, Ajit Pai, is slashing through net neutrality safeguards. Pai is a former Verizon attorney, and not to say he can’t do his job at the FCC without bias, but these unpopular moves are a clear win for his former employer.

The Trump administration has been loud and clear on their intentions for the nation. All except for this – the one issue where two things are being said at once. Loudly.

The freedom of access to information, AKA net neutrality, allows all Americans to have the same information available to them as any other American. Whether you’re in Brooklyn or a small town in Nebraska, running a startup in SF, or a mom ‘n’ pop shop in Louisiana, the pipeline is open and equal.

Once regulations that sustain this flow are removed, broadband and cable providers have the opportunity to cash in by segmenting information or even diverting it away.

Want to stream video games? That’ll cost extra. Want to use Facebook? Sure, but our company made a deal with Google+ and that means Zuck’s stuff will just move… very… slowly. Want to watch Fox News, CNN, or MSNBC? No, you don’t. You can’t afford that package. But Cartoon Network is free!

The same regulations that keep access to information free from bundling and extra fees, when removed, would deepen the pockets and reach of companies like AT&T and TWC. In the same way that the proposed merger would. Scratching your head? Us too.

This conflict will likely inflame Trump’s relationship with the Libertarian arm of the Republican party, and could spell disaster for the Trump movement, not to mention the fact that no party is openly in favor of nixing net neutrality. The American people who can see through the poorly marketed concept of net neutrality are universally in favor of keeping information free.

So what now?

So, where will it go from here? If the merger reaches the SEC (possible, but not an absolute), will there be a clash between departments in a Trump administration?

Does Trump really stand behind Pai’s decisions, and if so, will he back down from his formerly harsh stance on the merger? Is the Trump administration aligned with cable companies or not? It’s impossible to tell.

Most importantly, can the market really be free if access to information is controlled by the few?

#CableContradictions

Jenna keeps the machine well-oiled as the Operations Coordinator at The American Genius and The Real Daily. She earned her degree in Spanish at the University of North Texas and when she isn't crossing things off her to-do list, she is finding her center in the clean and spacious aisles of Target or rereading Harry Potter for the billionth time.

Tech News

Onboarding for customers and employees made easy

(TECH NEWS) Cohere enables live, virtual onboarding at bargain prices to help you better support and guide your users.

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onboarding made easy

Web development and site design may be straightforward, but that doesn’t mean your customers won’t get turned around when reviewing your products. Onboarding visitors is the simplest solution, but is it the easiest?

According to Cohere–a live, remote onboarding tool–the answer is a resounding yes.

Cohere claims to be able to integrate with your website using “just 2 lines of code”; after completing this integration, you can communicate with, guide, and show your product to any site visitor upon request. You’ll also be able to see what customers are doing in real time rather than relying on metrics, making it easy to catch and convert customers who are on the fence, due to uncertainty or confusion.

There isn’t a screen-share option in Cohere’s package, but what they do include is a “multiplayer” option in which your cursor will appear on a customer’s screen, thus enabling you to guide them to the correct options; you can also scroll and type for your customer, all the while talking them through the process as needed. It’s the kind of onboarding that, in a normal world, would have to take place face-to-face–completely tailored for virtual so you don’t have to.

You can even use Cohere to stage an actual demo for customers, which accomplishes two things: the ability to pare down your own demo page in favor of live options, and minimizing confusion (and, by extension, faster sales) on the behalf of the customer. It’s a win-win situation that streamlines your website efficiency while potentially increasing your sales.

Naturally, the applications for Cohere are endless. Using this tool for eCommerce or tech support is an obvious choice, but as virtual job interviews and onboarding become more and more prevalent, one could anticipate Cohere becoming the industry example for remote inservice and walkthroughs.

Hands-on help beats written instructions any day, so if companies are able to allocate the HR resources to moderate common Cohere usage, it could be a huge win for those businesses.

For those two lines of code (and a bit more), you’ll pay anywhere from $39 to $129 for the listed packages. Custom pricing is available for larger businesses, so you may have some wiggle room if you’re willing to take a shot at implementing Cohere business-wide.

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Tech News

Smart clothing could be used to track COVID-19

(TECH NEWS) In order to track and limit the spread of COVID-19 smart clothing may be the solution we need to flatten the curve–but at what cost?

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COVID tracking clothing

When most people hear the phrase “smart clothing”, they probably envision wearables like AR glasses or fitness trackers, but certainly not specially designed fabrics to indicate different variables about the people wearing them–including, potentially, whether or not someone has contracted COVID-19.

According to Politico, that’s exactly what clinical researchers are attempting to create.

The process started with Apple and Fitbit using their respective wearables to attempt to detect COVID-19 symptoms in wearers. This wouldn’t be the first time a tech company got involved with public health in this context; earlier this year, for example, Apple announced a new Watch feature that would call 911 if it detected an abnormal fall. The NBA also attempted to detect outbreaks in players by providing them with Oura Rings–another smart wearable.

While these attempts have yet to achieve widespread success, optimism toward smart clothing–especially things like undershirts–and its ability to report adequately someone’s symptoms, remains high.

The smart clothing industry has existed in the context of monitoring health for quite some time. The aforementioned tech giants have made no secret of integrating health- and wellness-centric features into their devices, and companies like Nanowear have even gone so far as to create undergarments that track things like the wearer’s heart rate.

It’s only fitting that these companies would transition to COVID assessment, containment, and prevention in the shadow of the pandemic, though they aren’t the only ones doing so. Indeed, innovators from all corners of the United States are set to participate in a “rapid testing solutions” competition–the end goal being a cheap, fast, easy-to-use wearable option to help flatten the curve. The “cheap” aspect is perhaps the most difficult; as Politico says, the majority of people have a general understanding of how to use wearable technology.

Perhaps more importantly, the potential for HIPPA violations via data access is high–and, during a period of time in which people are more suspicious of technology companies than ever, vis-a-vis data sharing, privacy could be a significant barrier to the creation, distribution, and use of otherwise crucial smart clothing.

There is no denying that the Coronavirus pandemic has accelerated, among other things, technological advancement in ways unseen by many of us alive today. Only time will tell if smart clothing–life-saving potential and all–becomes part of that trend.

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Tech News

Say goodbye to browser cookies – Google wants to give you ‘trust tokens’

(TECH NEWS) Google plans to do away with third-party cookies in favor of “trust tokens”. The question is, will they gain our trust?

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Privacy concerns should be at an all-time high with the sheer number of people working from home–something that may have been factored into Google’s recent decision to begin phasing out third-party cookies in their Chrome browser.

In doing so, Chrome would join browsers such as Safari and Firefox–two popular alternatives that have been more proactive about protecting user privacy in the past, according to The Verge.

Cookies, for those who don’t know, are small pieces of information stored on your computer by websites you visit; when third-party cookies are downloaded from these sites, they can track your activity across the internet, thus resulting in unpleasantries like targeted ads and location-based services appearing in your browser.

It’s all a little too accurate to your habits for comfort, so Google is proposing a separate solution: trust tokens.

No, trust tokens are not the newest form of currency on CBS Survivor–they’re “smart” iterations of cookies that will validate your access to a specific website without tracking you once you leave that page. This way, you get to keep your website-specific data–passwords, usernames, and preferences–without having your privacy encroached upon any more than Google already does (admittedly, that doesn’t sound like much of a change, but bear with us).

The real catch for trust tokens is that they don’t actually identify you the way that cookies do, and while some of the side effects of trust tokens may resemble cookie use–e.g., advertisers knowing you clicked on their ad–tokens are a decidedly less personal, more private way to access web content.

Google isn’t just throwing out third-party cookies as a gesture, it seems. Along with the announcement about trust tokens, Google mentioned that they plan to create more transparency around ads–specifically by allowing you to see why you’re seeing a specific ad and from whom and where the ad originated. An extension to help lend additional information about ads is also in the works.

These changes are expected to be implemented within the year. For now, though, you should stick to Firefox or Safari if you’re worried about cookies–you’ll be able to get back to your Chrome tabs soon enough.

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