Tag Archives: iTunes

Will iTunes Become the New PayPal?

Guest writer Derek Vaughan walks you through Near Field Communications – a technology that may well make your wallet obsolete.

Imagine buying a cup of coffee at Starbucks and paying for it by simply ‘swiping’ your iPhone past the cashier. In seconds the money is paid to the retailer, and your iTunes account reflects the charge for the coffee. All of this has happened without you ever having to pull out your wallet or purse, and the transaction happens so quickly that you barely break stride on your way out of the store.

Sound like science fiction? Well, it’s not. If things materialize along the current lines iTunes may morph from an entertainment distribution platform into a full fledged banking system more akin to PayPal than to Napster.

This type of financial transaction will be enabled by a technology named Near Field Communications, or just NFC for short. As described by Wikipedia, NFC is ”a set of short-range wireless technologies, typically requiring a distance of 4 cm or less. NFC operates at 13.56 MHz and at rates ranging from 106 kbit/s to 848 kbit/s. NFC always involves an initiator and a target; the initiator actively generates an RF field that can power a passive target. This enables NFC targets to take very simple form factors such as tags, stickers, key fobs, or cards that do not require batteries.” In other words, NFC can securely transmit and receive data related to a purchase at a retail store – as long as the purchasing device is close enough to the receiver (and one assumes – that the buyer’s account has sufficient funds).

What brings NFC and iTunes together is the hardware currently being developed by Apple and enabled by iTunes. This would possibly include iPhones, iPads, iPods, and MAC computers.

A number of sources including PC Magazine are now reporting that the next generation iPhone – presumably named the iPhone 5 – will include NFC and be able to transact via NFC by charging the equipment owner’s iTunes account. The article goes on to quote a source familiar with the situation, ”From what I hear, it is possible the iPhone 5 will include NFC. An entrepreneur who is working on a top-secret NFC product told me today that he believes the iPhone 5 will have NFC and cited a friend who works at Apple as a reliable source for the information.”

Daniel Foster, an expert in online transactions and security with dedicated server company 34SP.com postulates, ”With the walled garden approach that Apple has developed coupled with the unparalleled growth of both the iPhone and iPad – Apple must be taken seriously if the company enters the transaction marketplace. Remember, many of the emerging market countries have yet to adopt the iPhone as well. The growth opportunities in India and China alone are enormous.”

So just how big is the marketplace for these types of transactions? A recent article by Bloomberg quotes PayPal President Scott Thompson from remarks made during a meeting with financial analysts. Mr. Thompson predicts that PayPal will double revenues and post sales of up to $7 billion by 2013. That would compare to sales of $3.4 billion in 2009. These revenues reflect only 12 percent of online purchases – and just a small fraction of offline purchases. Therefore, if Apple can enter this market and do for wireless transactions what it did for buying music – then $7 billion doesn’t seem at all unreasonable.

Although the path looks bright for deploying NFC technologies, not everyone is convinced that NFC will prevail in the future. Lou Honick is CEO of Host Merchant Services, a leading credit card transaction service. Mr. Honick notes, ”Near field communication technology holds significant promise for enabling mobile payments, however it comes with some significant caveats given the companies that are deploying it. Electronic payments have all but displaced cash, and while there are costs and drawbacks, businesses are forced to accept the bad with the good. Also, sixteen digit credit card numbers are really no longer adequate for the job they were intended to do because of fraud concerns.

NFC and mobile applications help solve this problem by adding enhanced security and encryption to transactions. However, while many merchants dream of breaking the Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express oligopoly on forms of payment processing, and NFC certainly opens up alternatives, we have to be careful that we aren’t simply trading Visa and Mastercard for Apple and Google or even worse, AT&T and Verizon without any significant savings and benefits to the merchant. While it makes sense to move to an application based payment platform facilitated by NFC, it would be of far greater benefit to consumers and merchant to get there with an open and flexible platform that encouraged competition.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like that is the direction we are headed, and as much as I like Apple products, we all know how they feel about being open and flexible.

Whatever the final outcome, look for even more interest in NFC in the coming months as Android phones get into the act, and the mobile carriers themselves develop transactional systems to capture a bit of the payment system marketplace. With billions at stake, expect to see things move quickly in the wireless transaction market.

For more information on this technology – checkout The New York Times.

About the Author:

Derek Vaughan is a web hosting industry veteran and expert. Mr. Vaughan has architected the marketing growth of several prominent web hosting success stories leading to acquisition including Affinity Internet, Inc., Aplus.Net and HostMySite.com.

Prior to his entry into the web hosting industry, Mr. Vaughan was responsible for online marketing at The Walt Disney Company where he marketed ecommerce for the ESPN.com and NASCAR.com brands. Mr. Vaughan received his M.B.A. from Vanderbilt University and currently serves on the HostingCon Advisory Board.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

Comments Off on Will iTunes Become the New PayPal?

Filed under Apple, Connected Devices, Financial, Guest Writers, Interconnectivity, iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, Money Management, Point of View, Software

Download a Cornucopia of Freeware Applications

image If I sum totaled all the applications I’ve tested since the early 1990’s, I suspect, the number is now in the thousands. Over those years, some applications have managed to stand out, while others just vanished beneath the wave of new and more creative applications.

The applications listed below have riding out the storm of new competitors, and have developed a strong, loyal following, based on their reliability and functionality.

Take a look at the following recommended free downloads that will help you communicate, improve your photos, have some fun, and manage and protect your system.

Note: Please read the EULA of each application that you have chosen to install – it’s just common sense. To download a free tool that will help you in highlighting critical areas in a EULA, checkout “Download EULAlyzer – Let it Read the EULA for You“, on this site.

Process those words:

OpenOffice

OpenOffice is the leading open-source office software suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more. It is available in many languages, and works on all common computers.

It stores all your data in an international open standard format, and can also read and write files from other common office software packages, including Microsoft Word.

AbiWord

AbiWord is a free, multilingual, light weight word processing program, similar to Microsoft Word. It is suitable for a wide variety of word processing tasks.

WordWeb

WordWeb is a one-click English thesaurus and dictionary, for Windows, that can look up words in almost any program. It works off-line, but can also look up words in web references such as the Wikipedia encyclopedia.

Manipulate and correct your pics – put them online:

FastStone Image Viewer

This is one of my favorite photo applications, with good reason. It’s not just a viewer, but an image browser, converter, and an editor as well. You’ll find the interface intuitive and very easy to use.

This program is loaded with features including, renaming, cropping, color adjustments, lossless JPEG transformation, drop shadow effects, image frames, scanner support, histogram and much more.

IrfanView

With IrfanView you can fix and enhance digital photos including resizing, cropping, correcting red eye, flipping, and rotating. As well, you can perform a wide variety of image adjustments, including brightness, contrast, and applying special effects such as sharpen and blur.

I have been using this neat little program (every day), for years and with each new release it just keeps getting better.

Google Picasa

Free software that helps you locate and organize all the photos on your computer, edit and add effects to your photos with a few simple clicks and share your photos with others through email, prints and on the web.

Play those tunes:

Audacity

Audacity is free, open source software for recording and editing sounds. It is available for Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, GNU/Linux, and other operating systems. Definitely the best of breed.

iTunes

According to Apple this is the world’s best digital music jukebox. Download music, TV shows, movies, and more. Frankly, I’m not a big fan, but…..

Winamp

A multimedia player that supports numerous audio and video formats. It also plays streamed video and audio content, live and recorded, authored worldwide.

Watch your fav videos:

Miro

Miro is a free application for channels of internet video (also known as ‘video podcasts and video rss). Miro is designed to be easy to use and to give you an elegant full screen viewing experience.

VLC

A highly portable multimedia player for various audio and video formats (MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, mp3, ogg …) as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols.

Free FLV Converter

This free software let you search YouTube and dailyMotion videos without opening your browser and you can even watch the videos using the built-in video player.

Free Video to iPhone Converter

Convert video files to Apple iPhone MP4 video format. Convert the whole movie, or select a partition from the movie to convert (trim video).

iPod Video Converter

Free iPod Video Converter provides an easy and complete way to convert all popular video formats to iPod video.

Better browsing:

FireFox

FireFox includes tons of useful features such as tabbed browsing, built-in and customizable search bars, a built-in RSS reader and a huge library of extensions developed by thousand of developers.

Opera

Opera 10.50 has you flying through Web pages with never-before-seen speed, and surfing with advanced features that make it easy to get the most from the Web.

Web of Trust (WOT)

WOT is a free Internet Browser add-on (my personal favorite), that has established an impressive 4.5/5.0 star user rating on CNET. WOT tests web sites you are visiting for spyware, spam, viruses, browser exploits, unreliable online shops, phishing, and online scams, helping you avoid unsafe web sites.

Protect your system:

Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware

The free version of this speed demon (it’s faster at scanning than any anti-malware program I’ve tested in the last 2 years), is used by millions of people worldwide to protect their computers. I run Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware every day, as a secondary malware scanner.

SUPERAntiSpyware Free Edition

The free version of this award winning program, is used by millions of people worldwide to protect their computers. And why not? SUPERAntiSpyware is well known for its high malware detection rate.

A simple, intuitive, and easy to use interface makes SUPERAntiSpyware straightforward to setup, customize, and run, for both less experienced and expert users alike.

Spyware Terminator

Spyware Terminator excels in strong active protection against know and unknown threats. If anything, I find it perhaps a little overly aggressive. On the other hand, better this than the alternative. This application is the single most downloaded security application through my site, with better than 40,000 downloads.

PC Tools Firewall

If you are a casual computer user, PC Tools Firewall is definitely worth considering as a new Firewall installation, or as a replacement for a current Firewall that is not meeting your expectations.

HiJackFree

If you are an experienced/advanced computer user, and you’re looking for a program to strengthen your anti-malware resources, then HiJackFree is one that’s worth taking a look at. This free application, from EMSI Software, offers a potent layer of additional protection to add to your major anti-malware programs.

The program operates as a detailed system analysis tool that can help you in the detection and removal of Hijackers, Spyware, Adware, Trojans, Worms, and other malware. It doesn’t offer live protection but instead, it examines your system, determines if it’s been infected, and then allows you to eradicate the malware.

Trinity Rescue Kit

Trinity Rescue Kit or TRK is a free live Linux distribution that aims specifically at recovery and repair operations on Windows machines, but is equally usable for Linux recovery issues.

Kaspersky Rescue Disk

This rescue CD can scan your boot sector, and your Hard Drives from the outside looking in. Malware doesn’t have a chance to hide if it’s not running. It’s become the first step I now use when I’m dealing with an infected machine.

ThreatFire

ThreatFire blocks mal-ware, including zero-day threats, by analyzing program behavior and it does a stellar job. Again, this is one of the security applications that forms part of my front line defenses. I have found it to have high success rate at blocking mal-ware based on analysis of behavior. Highly recommend this one!

Web of Trust (WOT)

WOT is a free Internet Browser add-on (my personal favorite), that has established an impressive 4.5/5.0 star user rating on CNET. WOT tests web sites you are visiting for spyware, spam, viruses, browser exploits, unreliable online shops, phishing, and online scams, helping you avoid unsafe web sites.

SnoopFree Privacy Shield

SnoopFree Privacy Shield is a powerful application that guards your keyboard, screen and open windows from all spy software. I have been using this application for quite some time, and I have been amazed at the number of programs that have requested access to my keyboard and screen. In particular, programs that I am in the process of installing.

If you’re serious about privacy, this is a must have addition to your security toolbox.

Staying in touch:

Skype

Skype has become my preferred method of contact. I use the free Skype video calling feature, dozens of times a day to speak with contacts worldwide.

In its basic form, Skype is a free communication package, using proprietary code, which allows users to make free computer to computer calls, including video calls, across the globe. As well, there are a bundle of additional features, that can be purchased at a low cost, which will expand the application’s functionality.

Windows Live messenger

The next generation MSN Messenger. It comes with everything that were already available in Messenger, and a new Initiative that makes helping your favorite charity as easy as sending an instant message.

Pidgin

A multi-protocol Instant Messaging client that allows you to use all of your IM accounts at once. Pidgin can work with: AIM, Bonjour, Gadu-Gadu, Google Talk, ICQ, IRC, MSN, Yahoo!, MySpaceIM and many more.

Trillian

A fully featured, stand-alone, skinnable chat client that supports AIM, ICQ, MSN, Yahoo Messenger, and IRC.

System Tools:

CCleaner

CCleaner is a freeware system optimization, privacy and cleaning tool. It removes unused files from your system – allowing Windows to run faster and freeing up valuable hard disk space. It also cleans traces of your online activities such as your Internet history. Additionally it contains a fully featured registry cleaner. But the best part is that it’s fast; normally taking less than a second to run.

Glary Utilities

Glary Utilities, a free all-in-one utility, is a terrific collection of system tools and utilities to fix, speed up, maintain and protect your PC. Personal experience with this application for years, has convinced me that a typical user can really benefit by having this application on their system.

With this free program you can tweak, repair, optimize and improve your system’s performance; and its ease of operation makes it ideal for less experienced users.

WinPatrol

Do you want to get a better understanding of what programs are being added to your computer? Then WinPatrol is the program for you. With WinPatrol, in your system tray, you can monitor system areas that are often changed by malicious programs.

You can monitor your startup programs and services, cookies and current tasks. Should you need to, WinPatrol allows you to terminate processes and enable, or disable, startup programs. There are additional features that make WinPatrol a very powerful addition to your security applications.

Revo Uninstaller

Revo Uninstaller is a superior program to uninstall programs from your computer. This free program with its advanced and fast algorithm scans before, and after you uninstall an application.

After the program’s regular uninstaller runs, you can remove additional unnecessary files, folders and registry keys that are usually left over (those “orphaned” registry entries we talked about earlier), on your computer. This feature is a definite plus.

Autoruns

This free utility has the most comprehensive knowledge of auto-starting locations of any startup monitor, in my view, and shows you what programs are configured to run during system boot up or login, and the order Windows processes them. These programs will include ones in your startup folder, Run, RunOnce, and other Registry keys.

You can configure Autoruns to show additional locations, including Explorer shell extensions, toolbars, browser helper objects, Winlogon notifications, auto-start services, and more. Autoruns goes considerably beyond the MSConfig utility bundled with Windows.

Regseeker

The longer you use Windows, the more cluttered your registry can become, especially if you regularly install and uninstall software. Many applications, on being uninstalled, leave behind “orphan” registry entries. They don’t remove all traces of themselves; causing problems such as sluggish performance, system lockups, or a bloated registry that takes longer to load on startup.

With the click of a button, Regseeker will scan your registry for these fragmented files, and safely remove them.

Recommended for advanced users only.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

18 Comments

Filed under Anti-Keyloggers, Anti-Malware Tools, Antivirus Applications, Audio Applications, Browser add-ons, Cleaning Your Computer, downloads, Firefox Add-ons, Free Anti-malware Software, Free Firewalls, Free Security Programs, Freeware, Internet TV, Open Office, Open Source, PC Tools, Registry Cleaners, Software, System Security, System Tweaks, System Utilities, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP, WOT (Web of Trust)