Amazon Cracks Down on Fake Reviews, NY Outlaws Ticket Bots, and Beme Me Up Scotty

I hope all of you had a Happy and Stuffed Thanksgiving!

Of course Amazon had a great weekend, Amazon released the 3DS ahead of schedule pissing off many of the deal hunting faithful. We talk Amazon, Beme, and ticket bots during this week’s Five Minute Flyby with Mark Starling on First News 570.

For many, Amazon reviews are a favorite pastime. Corn cob holders, BiC pens, and ‘Make America Great Again’ Christmas ornaments are some of the wittiest and snarky reviews you can read. Previously, Amazon would let anyone write a review for a product, regardless if they purchased the item or not. In a bid to curb fraudulent reviews, Amazon, is now capping reviews of its listing to 5 non-Amazon verified reviews. They are making the move to reduce the black market trade of sellers purchasing reviews of its products from fake buyers. The move won’t affect books though…
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It’s becoming more and more expensive to see a show or buy tickets to a concert. Thanks to the ever growing presence of bots, it has become increasingly harder to buy initial release tickets and many consumers resort to foraging for tickets on reseller websites. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill criminalizing the use of ticket bots to purchase tickets only to turn around resell them. People caught running a ticket bot will be subject to fines, and anyone knowingly reselling tickets that were purchased with one may be fined and receive jail time as well. Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel has been one of the members of the entertainment community criticizing the use of bots and their influence on the rise of ticket prices.
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DirectTV Now is a new, for-pay streaming service giving cord-cutters and non-satellite users access to television programming over their existing Internet connection. DirectTV Now consumers can pay $35/month for 60 channels and $70 per month for over 120 channels. Consumers can add on premium services like HBO and Cinemax for $5 more per month. ATT acquired DirectTV for 48.5 billion dollars last year making them the largest US, pay-for-TV operator, and is in pursuit of purchasing Time Warner for 85 billion dollars. What’s strange is that: by the time you pay your home cable Internet bill, buy DirectTV now, and then pay for HBO, you may as well have paid for cable or satellite TV!
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Honestly, I don’t know why marketers covet millennials so much. They still live at home, don’t make a lot of money, and are fickle. Well, CNN, hoping to attract a more millennial news audience has purchased Beme, a social media app which allows people to share video in 4-second bursts. Beme claims to be a more authentic social media experience and CNN hopes Casey Neistat and his company can unlock the code to bring more news and media to a younger audience.
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Barclays Tests NFC ATMs, ATT Goes Legally Blonde, and Best Apps to Get Black Friday

Barclays Bank is testing a new app/smartphone combination that will allow customers to withdraw their money using their Android device. The app works by using NFC, or near field communication, to communicate with the ATM machine and execute a transaction. Barclays believes this is more secure than sliding in your ATM card and entering a PIN number because modern smartphones can be secured using biometric data such as your thumbprint or retina. With the proliferation of credit card skimmers, this new combination is being hailed as more secure. There is a caveat however. Android devices are known to have viruses and other malware. A virus could be running on your phone and intercept data between the app and ATM machine, but what else is new. This isn’t the first innovation in smartphone withdrawals. The Royal Bank of Scotland piloted a system where smartphone users would receive a text messaging with a throw-away PIN that could be used to withdraw cash.
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ATT Continues Media Push by Partnering with Legally Blond Actress, Reese Witherspoon
AT&T continues to pursue an aggressive media strategy. Otter Media is entering into a joint venture with ATT and Reese Witherspoon’s production company Hello Sunshine to create original content made for women by women. Women only make up 28 percent of spoken roles in movies and ATT believes this strategy can be a powerful one for its new media assets. They’ll be able to push content across DirectTV and Time Warner while owning it and controlling its release.
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* More of an analysis of Black Friday deals we can talk about other sites such as Groupon and others, in addition Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.
In the early morning of Black Friday 2004, my wife and I went to Best Buy and froze our tails off in search of a supreme deal at that time. A big screen, flat panel TV for the low, low price of $200. We woke up from the abyss of turkey induced sleep to arrive at 4am, only to find that there was a line wrapping around the parking lot. We had a single mission. The TV, and so we thought, “all of these people can’t be here for this deal”, so we soldiered on. At 6 am the doors opened and we fought through the throngs of deal seekers wreaking havoc upon the store as we went straight for electronics. To our dismay, Best Buy only stocked 5 TVs for the deal. We vowed, never again will we fall prey to onsite Black Friday deals. We will get our deals online. USA Today has listed 4 apps to help you avoid the crowds and get deals online.
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SlickDeals, eBates,, Groupon, and others are honorable mentions.

Bug Bounty Hunter Hacks 911, Solar Shingles, the Great Firewall and More

Meetkumar Hiteshbhai Desai of Maricopa, Arizona tweeted a link to a JavaScript program that would cause an iOS user’s phone to dial 911. He accidentally posted this link instead of a link to a bug he found in the iPhone’s operating system. Twitter users clicked his 911 link 2,000 times which had become a threat to Arizona’s emergency call services infrastructure. Desai planned to collect on a bug bounty by ransoming the bug report to Apple for money. The Maricopa Sheriff’s department arrested Desai. Desai thought he would release a benign app that caused user’s phones to auto-dial instead, he thought it would be funny.
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DRM’d Ink Jet Cartridges, Roboats, 2nd Class Digital Citizens, and the Binary Thief on First News 570

All news doesn’t have to be depressing. We talk about second class digital citzenry, the binary thief, and HP using DRM on aftermarket ink jet cartridges this week on First News 570 with Mark Starling.

This is more of a cerebral piece, but research from Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy has found that consumers of mobile news are less engaged and less knowledgeable about current events due to the form factor of small screens and the reading style of attempting consume more content with less screen space. The study used eye-tracking software to determine how mobile news consumers view content on small screens and found that users are less engaged with the content and are less likely to continue reading using follow on links. It can be a concern, because most Internet use is being performed on small screens and I’m pretty sure we’ve all had experiences with friends who have reported “news” by scanning the headlines.
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This probably fits in zany news. Someone, or someones, are stealing house numbers from residences in Philadelphia. The kicker here is that the thieves are only stealing 1s and 0s. Local authorities have dubbed the would-be house hacker, the Binary Thief.
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We all know that printer manufacturers make their real money off of ink and toner cartridges. In the latest battle for profits, HP has released a firmware update for its ink jet printers that results in the printers rejecting cartridges from cheaper aftermarket brands. The new firmware update searches for HP’s custom security chip in the cartridge and will refuse to print if it doesn’t exist. Dutch ink cartridge manufacturer, 123inkt said it had received more than 1,000 complaints in a single day because users’ printers had stopped printing. If you own an HP printer and buy aftermarket cartridges do not update your printer’s firmware and disable Windows from automatically applying the update.
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GoPro, the US-based sport camera manufacturer has struggled recently, losing more than 280 million dollars in the last three quarters. on September 19th, the company announced a new product that’s a departure for the company, the Karma drone. Karma’s primary innovation is its foldable arms and wings which shrinks the aircraft down into a tightly portable package that’s easy to transport. The drone market is a hot one, and GoPro hopes to successfully make a dent in DJI’s sales. The Chinese made, DJI series of drones are the world’s most popular drones, but the Karma’s automatic collision avoidance technology, compact size, and GoPro’s sport camera expertise can make it a winner.
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Amsterdam is a great city, and there are many ways to get around. It’s very easy to walk around most of the city starting from Centrum, you could borrow one of the many bikes around town, or you could catch an Uber. But very soon, you could hire a roboat. Just as we are beginning to get used to self-driving Ubers, MIT and researches from the Netherlands’ Advanced Metropolitan Solutions are piloting a project while will see Amsterdam’s canals flooded with so-called roboats, driverless boats designed to ferry people around town by floating along the city’s canal network.
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theSync LIVE!: Tooling Your Enterprise for 2015


Last week’s Episode of theSync LIVE! kicked off National Entrepreneurship Week.

On the air, I had Diane Devaney of Devaney and Associates, Somiah Lattimore of Straight Up Creative, Damon Hunt of Studio Codeworks, and Azi Rosenblum of REMSource.

We covered tools and tip you can use to improve this year’s digital marketing, some new products you can use to manage your projects more effectively, we also shared some products you can use to keep your books accurate for DCAA compliance. And finally, this is the year you should alleviate some of the burden by hiring a virtual assistant.

If you missed it, you can subscribe to theSync on your iPhone or download the app from the Google Play Store.

theSync: 5 Things to Expect in the Apple Watch

Last week, Apple released two new iPhones, the 6 and the 6+. Both will have bigger and better screens, a quad-core processor, and slightly better battery life. For the first time since Steve Jobs, Tim Cook gave us one more thing, the Apple Watch. The most beautiful smart watch to date. This week on theSync, 5 things to expect in the Apple Watch.

1. Hardware Powered by Software

Unlike other smart watch manufacturers, Apple has placed more emphasis is on building a solid applications platform. Apple mentioned 3rd Party app support no less than 3 times during the keynote and demonstrated tightly coupled watch-to-watch and watch-to-phone support.

2. A New Degree of Intimacy

Those of who wear watches develop a relationship with them. Apple knows this and has built an unparalleled degree of customization. Beyond custom watch faces, the aWatch is app driven, giving users the ability make their watch entertainment, communications, or health focused.

3. New Tech and New Functionality

A lot of hardware is packed into the Apple Watch. It includes a new Taptic engine that translates multiple taps into functionality. It provides vibration and pulse feedback to the wearer. The aWatch also uses a new type of glass overlay that can sense the amount of pressure the wearer presses on the screen.

4. It’s About Health

Apple’s hiring of health experts has been widely publicized. The Apple Watch goes beyond simple pedometric functionality and features sensors that can detect elevation, temperature, humidity, and a heartbeat sensor built into the case back. All of this fitness data can be shared with HealthKit apps giving you an overview of your stats.

5. A New Way to Pay

A lot of companies have taken on mobile payments and Apple is getting involved. The aWatch will ship with Apple Pay. It’ll use a built in NFC chip to securely transmit payment information wirelessly to checkout machines.

I’m sorry, but you can have all of this awesomeness until 2015. It’s not my fault, that’ just the way it is. Please share your thoughts about the Apple watch in the comments. You can download theSync by subscribing to iTunes or downloading the App from Google Play.

theSync: 5 Things to Look for at Apple’s iPhone 6 + iWatch Event

Apple is expected to unveil the iPhone 6 and something called an iWatch tomorrow at their brand new media building.

I had written an article about this for the Mobile Developer’s Conference, and this week’s sync is the audio version of that article.

Please check it out.

Thanks for listening.

And you’ve been synced.

theSync: 5 Must Have Apps for the Active Entrepreneurs and Professionals

Apps like Evernote and Penultimate get all the love and converge from the media and masses. But how much time do you spend taking notes or doing all of the stuff sexy apps take care of. There are a handful of apps I use a couple of times a day, and I’d be lost without them. My daily driver consists of devices in Apple’s ecosystem. These apps have Android versions or counterparts you can use.

This week on theSync 5 must have apps for the busy entrepreneurial professional.

1. Basecamp

I’m kicking this list off with Basecamp because I can’t live without it. The Basecamp app hooks up to my existing account and I can share caveman drawings, approve work products, assign tasks, and cheer on my team when I’m on the go. I’d be useless without it.

2. VNC Viewer

I’m on the road, a lot! And even though I have office tools on my laptop and tablet, I work on certain projects that prohibit me from traveling with data. When I need to remotely access these systems, I use VNC Viewer because of its no brainer simplicity and no muss no fuss installation. I have it installed on my iPhone and iPad can do everything I need to elsewhere.

3. Peppermint

Design is becoming a major part of everything we do, and choosing the right colors for websites, packaging, and apps are a critical part of the product design process. I frequently use Peppermint to test color combinations using their built in mixers and computed color palettes.

4. HootSuite

You can’t be a technology authority and not interact with your followers. I use HootSuite to check on my streams, schedule tweets, and share articles and photos with my followers.

5. Shazam

You know there had to wildcard in this list. Like I said, I’m on the road a lot, and I find myself in lots of lobbies, waiting rooms, and someone else’s car. I’d lose a ‘Name That Tune’ contest, but when there’s a catchy tune blasting through the speakers, Shazam makes up for my musical ignorance.

Bonus: Threes!

There has to be more to life than work and travel. Even when the day is at its most hectic, I can blow off some steam with a blitz game of Threes! Threes! is a puzzle game that challenges you to add up increasingly higher scores using numbers from 1 & 2, and multiples of three. Whenever you reach a new achievement, the confetti and fanfare provide will provide a big boost in your ego.

Please share the apps you can’t live without on my site at Please subscribe to theSync on iTunes and download the app from Google Play.

I’m Will Mapp, thanks for listening, and you’ve been synced.

theSync: 5 Back-to-School Gadgets for Your Grade Student

Last week it was all about back-to-school gadgetry for your college student. But, we all know you have to crawl before you walk and live the decades long angst of getting through elementary school, battling acne in middle school, and combating locker drama in high school. This week on theSync, 5 back-to-school gadgets for your grade school student.

1. Apps

The Internet is nice, but any old fool can update a Wikipedia page. Curated services like National Geographic, World Book, and Britannica stake their reputation on providing accurate and concise information. Nothing beats doing real research, but apps from National Geographic, Britannica, and World Book mobile can help you get concise fast facts.

2. An iPhone 5C

Years ago, Texas Instruments’ TI-85 and 89 calculators were the stuff of legend and every kid taking pre-Calc and Calculus in high school wanted one. Fast forward to the 21st century and your average smartphone beats out the TI in every category. Instead of paying $100 for an 89, get your student an iPhone 5C and download apps like Wolfram Alpha and Quick Graph. Note, I do not condone getting an elementary student any smartphone.

3. Mechanical Pencils


It wouldn’t be a back-to-school list without mechanical pencils. We spend a lot of money making our kids look brand new for school, how about getting your student, the Pentel Sharp Kerry Mechanical pencil. It’s a beautiful writing implement and any schooler will feel smarter pulling this out of their backpack.

4. Mac Mini


Most early-Ed software packages lean towards the Mac. Think Mathblaster, Mavis Beacon, and of course Oregon Trail. At $600 the Mac Mini is the least expensive way to squeeze yourself into the Apple desktop computing club. Plus, with a purchase of VMWare Fusion, you can also run Windows.

5. Enasco Measurement Kit

One of the best back-to-school gadgets ever given to me was a clear, plastic, flexible ruler my grandmother gave me when I entered 1st grade. If your student will be tackling weights and measurements, now is the time to pick up a good measurement kit. Enasco’s kit contains a compass, ruler, micrometer, and gauges little hands can use to learn more about measuring stuff.

You can find all of these gadgets on my board at Pinterest. Please share the back-to-grade-school gadgets you’re getting for your student on here in the comments.

Thanks for listening, and reading.

You’ve been synced.