Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Great App Debate

Confused about the debate over Apple's locked-down ecosystem vs. Google Play or Windows Store's open--but potentially more hazardous--ecosystems?

Here's the deal:

Developers for apps must go through a laborious and slow process to develop an app or program for iOS or OS X. The app is reviewed by programmers at Apple, and may be denied permission to go on Apple's app store. Apple uses this process because it ensures a better user experience and ensures stability in the operating system (assuming Apple's programmers review the programs carefully, which they generally do).

However, this approach limits developers who may want to do something that Apple doesn't allow. It also limits a user's choice, as some reputable developers or companies do not release their app for iOS, due to the extra time and effort it takes to go through their screening process.

Microsoft, on the other hand, essentially didn't screen admissions to their app store, resulting in many buggy--or just plain dishonest--apps and programs. Microsoft is working on cleaning up this mess, but it's going to take time. Google strikes a pretty good balance with Android, as there are more apps on Google Play than there are on Apple Store or on Windows Store, and the majority of the apps for Android are useful and honest.

People often complain online about Apple's "locked-down ecosystem." It's essentially a philosophical complaint more than anything. Apple will restrict others' freedom in order to ensure that their products work well. Google and Microsoft allow a much greater degree of freedom for both developers and users, but the tradeoff is that users have to know a little bit about computers (and scammers!) to take advantage of that freedom.

Personally, I balk at someone telling me what I can and cannot do, particularly if they're trying to sell me really expensive stuff like Apple does. But there is a good argument to be made for Apple's procedure (for example, Microsoft's messy Windows Store. There's a good article about it here: http://www.engadget.com/2014/08/28/microsoft-explains-windows-store-crackdown/).

Okay, nerdy tech talk for the week complete.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer

I've already revealed that I'm a Marvel geek, and I've been looking for this trailer for several months, after an audio-only bootleg was released after Comic-Con 2014. I'm glad to see it's finally been released officially! [I wonder why it took them two months to release the final version. Just waiting for the marketing hype to build...?]

UPDATE 10/29/2014: The above trailer is the full one shown at San Diego Comic Con 2014

I'm not the hugest fan of the way Ultron's final form looks here, but that's a relatively minor quibble with what looks like it'll be another fantastic Marvel movie!

By the way--this trailer was released yesterday, October 22nd. It's already got over 9.3 million views! I'm obviously not the only one who's excited about this movie, due to be released on May 1, 2015!  :)

I think this comic book image is a more menacing one, but that's just me...

Monday, October 20, 2014

Tax breaks for college grads

In a post on the helpful TwoCents blog at Lifehacker (twocents.lifehacker.com), Kristin Wong shares a couple ways to get some tax relief. For example, if you're paying interest on your student loan, you're eligible for up to a $2500 tax credit, based on your income and marital status.

If you've already graduated, this is a good way to help ease the burden of your student loan payments. As always, however, I promote living the 'broke college student lifestyle' that Kristin mentions in this article, even if you don't have to.

A link to her article is here: http://twocents.lifehacker.com/common-tax-breaks-available-for-recent-college-grads-1648308796

Thursday, October 16, 2014

25,000 'Thank-you's!

Thanks to all my readers! This site has gotten 25,000 pageviews since the beginning of May--that's five and a half months! Let's keep spreading the knowledge, and create a more financially literate population!

In the meantime, enjoy these symbols of prosperity:

Friday, October 10, 2014

The dangers of prediction

Prediction isn't inherently dangerous. Any model is only as good as the data it's fed, and the person who developed/implemented the formula. However, the danger comes in when you put too much reliance on the predictions generated by a model--which may or may not be built on faulty assumptions. Furthermore, any model will always be based on past data, so the model may or may not be representative of future trends.

Find out more about the dangers of prediction in a good article here: http://awealthofcommonsense.com/forecasting-emotions/

The line "You can't predict. You can prepare" rings all too true!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

And now, for something completely different...Windows 10!

For those of you *cough everyone! cough cough* who didn't like Windows 8, Microsoft just announced a developer preview version of Windows 10 (entirely skipping the "Windows 9" name).

Screenshot from http://fortheloveoftech.com/2014/10/01/windows-10-on-laptops-first-impressions-and-screenshots/

There are many articles about this release; one of the better ones is at The Verge: http://www.theverge.com/2014/9/30/6868695/microsoft-windows-10-announced-official