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Life is good. What Is there to rant about?

The Rant Man in his glory!

The Daily Rant is about the trials and tribulations of everyday urban life living in Edmonton, Alberta. We live in modern times where life is a blur so we need to slow things down.

Bit of an introduction is in order: No, I’m not the raving, ranting “Looney Bird by any stretch of the imagination. I’m rather a mild-mannered, sensitive computer geek and family man: I will share my quirky comments, opinions and noisy rants on various subjects on my blog.

My daily commute by bus and train allows me observe life and express my opinions on various topics: World news, sports, technology, music, entertainmentcomputerspolitics, environment, social issues, lifestylebusiness etc.

Check out other sections including My Top 10 Rants, TV Movie Rants and Quotes.

As I vocalize on these topics that pique my interest, I hope you find it engaging and informative. Feel free to leave comments and share some constructive feedback. Thanks for reading!

More about my website and me can be found here.

Need to keep an eye on Facebook privacy

Facebook….You Stole My Data And I Want It Back!

Lots of talk about the data mining scandal… Lets face it! Users sacrifice their privacy and data for the privilege of using Facebook platform. Whether it was morally correct or malicious to leak the data to 3rd party data analytics company is up for debate. Facebook along with Google are two big giants for selling customer information so why should we be surprised? It is about time CEO Mark Zuckerberg feels the wrath! Wake-up call for users. Luckily, there are ways to protect yourself or you can always find an alternative.

Target of Data Mining scandal

Loyal users have lots of memories tied to Facebook and it serves as a great networking tool. It doesn’t mean that you are allowed to build a psychological profile of them for political gain. Cambridge Analytica in London is in hot water for collecting the data from users. Tens of millions of user data was used and could have affected U.S. election in 2016. Shameful and dishonorable act by Facebook. Zuckerberg is back-pedaling now and faces public scrutiny from Washington and its users. There is even possible Russian interference. Doesn’t help that Zuck was silent for days following the leaked data announcement. Clearly Facebook violates an early agreement to safeguard user data. I’m sorry, but you can’t harvest user data for political gain or influencing elections. Perhaps, it explains how the buffoon, Donald Trump, got elected?

#DeleteFacebook

Oh, c’mon Cher don’t be that way! How else am I going to find out about the latest clothing trends? Many disgruntled celebrities are deleting Facebook over series of blunders: privacy concerns, fake news and being a malicious advertising conduit. I don’t blame her and I believe this latest data leak could have been the “the last straw.”Some big profile companies even stopped advertising on Facebook, but the worst may yet to come. Yes, I realize the irony of cross-posting on Facebook. Where do we reach the tipping point? The novelty of networking and connecting globally and locally has lost its charm. Basically, what you have left is a malicious advertising platform and cesspool filled with fake news advertisements and articles. It gets old pretty fast.

Did you read the fine print?

Didn’t you read the legal fine print agreeing to give away your first born child? Okay, not exactly, but you get the point! If privacy and security is a concern, you may want to stay away from free, ad-sponsored, data mining apps. Spotify and other apps that serve up misleading advertisements or in-app purchase popups are just as bad. Better yet invest in a social networking app that is not so invested in selling customer data. There are plenty of paid apps and subscriptions, that don’t rely on data mining and ad tracking. I guess you get what you pay for!

What’s the alternative?

Whatever happened to connecting with email, phone or in person? It has been replaced with smartphone apps and technology. Twitter, Skype, Facebook, WhatsApp, Viber, Snapchat, Instagram are among the most popular social networking tools. Until Facebook security gets a facelift, try one of those apps or use an encrypted instant messengers i.e. Gajim, Signal, Viber, WhatsApp, Telegram, Conversations or ChatSecure. I recommend a IM client supporting XMPP+Omemo protocol. Of course, no software is perfect or completely secure especially when it comes to usuability and adoptability. Good luck in convincing your friends “to jump ship.”

Tighten the privacy reins

One of the downfalls of using a free app is you give up some of your privacy and data. I get it. However, where does a company draw the line without angering their subscribers? Zuckerberg needs to tighten up the reins: abuse of customer’s data and fake news should not be tolerated. This could mean another nail in the coffin for Facebook. Apple and iOS with its walled garden may have minor faults, but it mostly protects their customer’s data from being leaked to third parties. The user is prompted to allow or deny notifications and what to share with Apple or 3rd party developers. I wish I could say the same thing for Google or Facebook which are basically advertising companies.

Mark Zuckerberg’s image may be tainted, but Facebook will survive with its legion of loyal Facebook fans and subscribers. Look for him to save face and tweak some privacy settings on Facebook. Just a slap on the wrist from security and privacy watch dogs. Maybe it is time to delete Facebook?

Online Shopping Is Here To Stay!

Another Brick And Mortar Store Bites The Dust!

Retail brick and mortar need to switch tactics if they are going to survive. Many large corporate chains and independent department stores are closing down as more people are turning to online shopping. Sears, Toys-R-Us are the latest casualties that have closed or have filed for Chapter 11 (bankruptcy protection). Disturbing sad trend facing retailers trying to stay competitive in difficult economic times. How does this ongoing trend affect today’s shopper …and where do we go to spend our hard earned cash?

Are malls doomed without a large anchor store?

Remember Eaton’s, Woolworth, Sears, K-mart and Macy’s? Some of the defunct department store chains forced to shutdown or scale back in expansion. These large anchor mall tenants helped drive traffic to help small businesses. Not anymore. Shopping malls will have to adapt and switch tactics to survive. Some upscale malls like Southgate mall have modernized to serve a certain niche: delivering excellent customer and guest services, exclusive perks and special events. Is that enough to attract people? Some malls that are anchored with movie cinemas, entertainment, amusement centers and restaurants will thrive, but for how long? Some malls situated in high density areas or near a train station will get some foot traffic. But don’t forget, retailers still need to pay for their employee salaries and for the leased space. If their stock doesn’t move during peak sales periods, then they will suffer a similar fate. It’s a shame, but some of the older malls are nothing more then a hangout for rowdy junior and high school students.

Does anyone shop downtown anymore?

During my walk in the downtown mall (City Center), I was startled to find a half dozen retail stores closing down or offering a liquidation sale. Not unusual. Despite a new food court and some shuffling of new stores, it looks pretty dismal. Downtown retailers cater to shoppers who work downtown and only shop during their lunch hour. Basically open to business executives or employees who are mostly window shoppers rather then serious avid shoppers. I’m not surprised there is reduced shopping hours! Even the large department store like Hudson’s Bay can’t help drive traffic downtown. Besides, they are too expensive for the average bargain shopper. Why would I go all the way downtown to shop and go through the expense and hassle of finding parking? Most people will head to a neighboring strip plaza or suburban mall during the evenings or weekends. Plentiful of free parking and you don’t have to travel as far either.

Shopping for something intangible can be hard

Lets face it…older generation or non-tech-savvy shoppers don’t care about cyberspace or anything else so intangible. Can you blame them? 80% of my shopping is online through an eCommerce website. Is it always a pleasant experience? NO, not always. Trying to find the right fit and size for shoes can be challenging. Shopping for eye glasses is not easy either. However, there are flexible options for shoppers: store pickup, fast free shipping backed by a decent refund/exchange policy. I had to return a few items that I ordered online and it was mostly painless. Shoppers need to shop around and make sure what they ordered online matches their expectation. Unless you physically touch the material and give it a spin, there is that unknown factor. Who wants to be stuck with a lemon that is not exactly as advertised online?

Online shopping is here to stay

I recall the early days when shopping online was a cumbersome, slow and frustrating process. No more. In fact, shopping online is becoming the norm for Millennials and Generation-X-ers. Many retail chain stores like Toys-R-Us are scaling back or selling off their divisions. How to you compete with online retailers who have less overhead costs and more purchasing power? You can’t beat the price and selection of large online retailers like Amazon marketplace, Walmart, Costco, New Egg, Overstock and Ebay. This month, I ordered a few purchases online including eye glasses from Clearly and bought an affordable loveseat from Wayfair. Just add your items to your virtual shopping cart in the comfort of your easy chair. It can’t get much easier! Did I mention they offer free shipping? No wonder the brick and mortar retailers are sounding the alarm. Time to use up your Toys-R-Us gift card before it is too late.