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Tag: free

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Available Anytime Anywhere

We talk about having access to content from anywhere using our mobile devices, but we didn’t think about what that meant to us. We thought it meant access to content anytime from anywhere. What it seems is that it also means we are available anytime someone wants us. It doesn’t mean we have to be available.

Let me clarify why I’m writing this. I have to turn my cell and other phones off at night because now I’m on several lists that I cannot get off. I get calls on all my phones from a “Name Unavailable” from different numbers from around the world wanting me to sign up to different promotions all day and all night long  I don’t answer “Name Unavailable” yet they don’t leave a message. So I gave up one night at 3am and answered it. It was someone promoting Google Ads. I asked to be taken off the list. 30 minutes later I got another call from a different “Name Unavailable” number for the same type of promotion. There is no way to be taken off this list because these are individual freelancers trying to make money. They could be anywhere in the world.

The same thing happened during the last election. I received calls from people working for different campaigns around the country who were using their cell phones. There was no way for me to block them. They came up “Name Unavailable.”

So back to Google or Yahoo or other “FREE” programs that call you in the middle of the night wanting you to sign up for something. I started reviewing what I signed up for and realized several years ago I signed up for Google Adsense. Then I thought maybe I could try Google Checkout for my store. So that’s how I got on a list. I do not use either one. I get it. I also tried promoting my company on Facebook. That’s another list. I’m using Safeway’s Just for You. Another list. Every time I signed up for something “Free” I was put on another list.

So to get off a list, you have to remember what lists you signed up for and unsubscribe. Mmmmmmmm! I don’t think that is possible today. You don’t know who has your number. I heard we have over 150,000 data points associated with us. That is, I joined Facebook and added friends. If any of those friends sign up for Words with Friends, I’m a data point now. That means that Words with Friends used an algorithm to find me and promote their game to me. The same thing happens when you sign up for a credit card, make a purchase with debit card, or join a “Free” website that is connected to social media.

So back to being available anytime. The idea of 24/7/365 is that you have access to resources and your network anytime when you log on using your computer or your smart mobile device. This gives a whole new meaning to “smart” and how you use it.

Today’s kids have been brought up with the Internet and mobile devices. They only know anytime, anywhere. I see kids texting while they are sitting next to their friends. For all I know, they are texting each other instead of talking. The world is different. The world is smaller. Friends mean so much to them that if they get a text, they answer right away. We had to make a law “No Texting While Driving” because it is rampant and causing accidents.

I think we need to teach another new skill: boundaries. When do you say today in this moment I do not need to answer the call or read the text. It is all about priorities and respect. I had to learn this when I created My eCoach. I wanted to be there all the time as a coach. But a coach also does not need to enable the other person. The idea of coaching is to nudge and support the other person so they can find their own way. I still like the idea of having a place like My eCoach that respects your privacy. We don’t sell any data or advertise or call you in the middle of the night. We do have clients from around the world who are up when I’m asleep but that’s okay. They can access My eCoach anytime, anywhere.

I finally got it that my time is important. I can be available when I have time. Not when I’m driving. Not when I’m sleeping. So if I don’t answer you in the middle of the night, it’s not that I don’t like you or something; it’s because I need to sleep.

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The Wild Wild West

The Wild WestSomething’s happening online. Does it seem like everything is safe and then you find it isn’t? When you consider the Internet provides so much for free, but then you see companies that are FREE going IPO with a value of billions. Where do they make their money?

Every time you sign up for free analytics, an online game in your social network, or a free online community, you agree to the Terms of Use. Have you ever read any of them before you clicked agree?

Most companies do a good job posting privacy-aware policies that make it clear to users how they use their data.  What users might be doing is sacrificing ownership of their analytics data which might surprise you what that means.

Definition from Wikipedia: monetization involves maximizing the revenue potential from available data by institutionalizing the capture, storage, analysis, effective dissemination, and application of that data. Said differently, it is the process by which corporations, large and small, leverage data to increase profit and efficiency, improve customer experience and build customer loyalty. The practice, although common since 2000, is now getting increasing focus as regulatory and economic pressures increase on businesses.

Financial services companies are a relatively good example of an industry focused on replacing lost revenue by leveraging data. Credit card issuers and retail banks are using customer transaction data to improve targeting of cross-sell offers. Partners are increasingly promoting merchant based reward programs which leverage a bank’s data and provide discounts to customers at the same time.

What does that mean for you? All you want to do is go online to learn, find information, resources or ideas, connect with others, or just to lurk and see what others are doing. There may be other reasons but it’s not to give away your data. That’s what you think. This is a new time where data and the ownership of data makes companies grow and get rich. The new revenue model is give it away, make it free, and then collect 150,000 points of data for each user.

That’s right – that’s what I said. A minimum of 150,000 points of data for you. This means that your data includes:

  • contact information like your address, phone number, email address for EVERY place you ever lived.
  • credit and banking information for every credit or debit card you signed up for, loan for anything you ever signed, mortgage or rent agreements, and bank or credit union accounts.
  • record of every purchase where you used anything but cash.
  • any agreement you signed and filed: marriage, divorce, business partnerships, wills or living trust, utility bills, etc.
  • channels you watch on TV and listen to on the radio or on mobile device.
  • every time you make a phone call, location of a picture you take, or text.
  • analytics for a website for the number of hits and page views.
  • social media and all of your connections and their data points.
  • apps and activities on your mobile devices.
  • online games and how you are performing.
  • online courses and what you are learning.
  • and so many more data points from thousands of places.

 

So why would any company want to know this about you? This is how they target their marketing and plan for research and development. Big budget stuff! You see if a company just relied on the activity of their clients, they wouldn’t know how to project future development. Now with all the social media and mobile devices, companies can now track all of the data points. They can use the analytics of your page views and visitors on top of your own activity. Companies now need lots of data to make decisions and they need millions of users. The only way they can get that is to offer programs for free or at very low cost. You think it’s a great bargain, but they are using your information to get rich.

So what if you wanted to bow out of the data mining business and take all of your data points with you. It’s too late. You were born and that is now recorded. You signed up for a phone some time ago. That was recorded. You made calls and each of those were recorded. I know many people who will not use the Internet or a credit card because they are concerned about someone taking their information. Sorry. It’s gone already. You can take control of some of your information by doing some Internet forensics on yourself. Find out what is attached to your name by Googling your name, address, etc.

But here’s another thing – every time you search on Google, that’s another data point connected to you. Oh my!!! I wrote this just so you are aware of what Free really means so you can make good choices when connecting online or by your mobile device for the right reasons.

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It's all about Apps: One That's Free Today!!

Since I am being asked to recommend apps for schools and districts, I thought it would be a good idea to put together some reviews of interesting apps. I also am finding that some apps are free for a short time. Here’s a fun app: Dr. Seuss Band that is free just for one day: Today at Oceanhouse Media

Dr. Seuss Band

Oceanhouse Media

Anyone any age will love this. You can build your own wacky Dr. Seuss-like instrument and then play it by pressing the appropriate buttons. This is the Dr. Seuss equivalent of the Rock Band/Guitar Hero games combining hand-eye coordination with musical fun and it works very well, although it might be tough for younger kids.

There are in-app purchases with Dr. Seuss songs. Get this app today and then see if you want to purchase anymore apps. I’m thinking that they can all be unlocked just by completing certain accomplishments in the app.

From iTunes:

Experience the excitement as Dr. Seuss Band transforms your device into a vibrant, energetic musical instrument that all ages will enjoy! Jam along with playful Seussian melodies or create your own whimsical masterpiece. As you play, you’ll unlock new instruments, silly effects and catchy songs. Contains over 120 combinations of sounds, so you’ll always have something new to discover!

 

Features:

  • 2 Ways to Play – Go for high scores in the Music Game or use Free Play to compose your own tunes.
  • 10 Original Songs – Play along with the soundtrack from The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, Dr. Seuss’s ABCs, Hop on Pop and more!
  • 5 Unique Horn Instruments – Play Seussian versions of the Trumpet, French Horn, Clarinet, Trombone and Flute.
  • 10 Crazy Horn Effects – Customize the sound of your horn by adding fun effects like a Fish Bowl, Train Whistle, Reverb and more!
  • Mix and Match Horns – Swap parts of the horn while playing to create over 120 Horn Combinations!
  • 3 Difficulty Levels – Choose Easy for beginners, Medium for experienced players and Hard for experts.
  • 26 Unlockables – Achieve high scores to unlock Songs, Horns and Effects.
  • Gamecenter Leaderboards – Compare your high scores with the competition.

 

Additional features:

  • Beautiful 3D artwork inspired by Dr. Seuss
  • Whimsical music and sound effects
  • Suitable for all ages

 

Some of the criteria I use for reviewing apps:

  • age levels
  • age appropriateness
  • skill and reading levels
  • skills attained
  • independent learning
  • content or standards met

 

My Dr. Seuss Band review:

  • children of all ages who love Dr. Seuss
  • visually intuitive
  • increases music abilities
  • encourages independent learning and collaborative play
  • meets NETS for students on creativity, collaboration, and independent exploration

 

I encourage you to try this and download it today. If you get it for free, you own it forever. How cool is that? Get it here: Oceanhouse Media

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Determining Value of Community

Ning is ditching their free service and according to Jon Dale this is a brilliant move. Educators and non-profits are ranting all over the Internet about how this move is going to destroy all the work they have been doing for so long. Just think of all the free networks set up for educators. Ning is going to provide a paid option for educators and non-profits that is supposed to be affordable. Ning has grown so large that their premium users have suffered.

The economy is affecting everyone plus big and small companies including Web 2.0 and social media. Facebook is under attack for its privacy policy. Four senators called on Facebook to stop automatically sharing user information with select websites and to streamline its complex privacy settings.

So what do you think will be happening with Internet companies that focus on education?  They will be setting up more closed communities with or without a free version, more ads on free sites, and user information sold to third parties. It is happening because companies cannot continue offering free access without ongoing and sufficient capital to run their businesses. Venture capital only goes so far. People cost. Servers cost.

Nothing is free. Look at the total cost of ownership and how much you invest into a particular tool or website. Your time needs to be valued. How much time did it take you to create the website, add content, and update your lessons online? Take time to research and plan how you will use social media or an online community. Be aware that the free site you are using may change their revenue model and budget for it. There will still be free sites and applications. Just be aware that those companies may be selling your private information. Nothing’s free.