Monthly Archives: January 2016

Windows 10 – What’s the Deal?

Microsoft_Windows_logo_(Pre-XP).svgMicrosoft made ripples when it announced that Windows 7 users who migrated to 8.1 would have the chance to upgrade to its latest OS, Windows 10, for free. Microsoft has a reputation for being stingy with its software updates, so this marked the first time in the company’s history that they have tried something more wallet-friendly. In conjunction with the release of the Surface and Surface Book computers, it all seemed like a calculated raid on Apple’s territory. But what about the upgrade offer’s fine print?

Supposedly, the offer will end this coming July, just a year from the date the free upgrade was launched. There is speculation that the deadline was put in place to try to avoid the kind of negative issues that Microsoft suffered when they dropped support for Windows XP. The problem with this kind of deadline is that, in all probability, users who decline a free upgrade for an entire year most likely don’t want the upgrade at all. If Microsoft is trying to transition its customers to a new operating system as efficiently as possible, they’re going to have a hard time convincing people – who didn’t want Windows 10 when it was free – to pay for it in the future. Hopefully, Microsoft has something else in mind with this deadline, because selling upgrades has never been the most lucrative part of their business model anyway.

Microsoft’s plan might include extending the offer, making a new offer once the next upgrade of Windows 10 hits, or taking the risky gambit of completely dropping the free upgrade. Right now, it’s all speculation and anybody’s guess. I hate to resurrect the age-old debate, but the whole situation just begs a comparison to Apple.

Having been a lifelong Windows user, I just recently made the switch to an Apple computer. I could go into a lengthy discourse on why I made that decision, but suffice to say that I have no particular allegiance to either company. I advocate the use of whatever tools help get the job done, whether or not they have a shiny white fruit on the outside. That’s why I keep a virtual Windows machine on my Mac for running Windows-specific applications that I still need. That being said, I have for the most part been happy with my switch to Apple. One thing that longtime Mac users might take for granted – but that I can appreciate as a virtual migrant – is how nice it is to not have to worry about software upgrades.

Frankly, I wouldn’t see any shame in Microsoft copying this feature. Microsoft seems to be trying to do a better job of integrating its hardware and software, and has even begun to produce its own high-end hardware with the aforementioned range of Surface devices. But part of the reason this model works so well for Apple is that they have made software integration seamless across all devices, while Microsoft still has people using old unsupported software that came out years ago.

If Microsoft is trying to hide the fact that they are competing with Apple, they’re not doing a good job of it. That’s not to say that either company’s products are inherently better or worse, but if Microsoft want to avoid the comparison, they’re going to have to figure out a system that works. The free Windows 10 upgrade offer seemed like a good step, but the jury is out until we see what they have in store for this July…. when the offer ends.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestRedditShare

Fed Holds, Japan Goes Negative

JapanResizeTwo big central bank decisions this past week sent the markets down one day and then blasted them higher at the end of the week. I am talking about the Federal Reserve and Bank of Japan announcements, of course. Although the market had different reactions, I believe both point to more central bank easing to come this year.

First, the Federal Reserve concluded its two-day meeting this past Wednesday, deciding to keep rates unchanged. In its statement, the Fed noted that recent data suggest labor markets are improving but economic growth has slowed, while inflation continues to run below their 2% target.

The rest of the statement was quite dovish, hinting at a more accommodative policy, especially noting that the committee is “closely monitoring global and financial developments.” This suggests the Fed is worried about the recent market turmoil and stock market declines in the U.S. and China. Somewhat surprisingly, the markets sold off a bit more than 1%, indicating traders either wanted even more accommodation or at least more clarity.

I previously noted that the Fed’s last rate increase was due to their concern about keeping credibility intact, rather than the Fed actually believing a recovery was under way. The latest move to stay put and not increase seems to confirm this. If economic conditions and data continue to deteriorate, we could easily see a move back to zero or even more quantitative easing. 

#BeResponsible Giveaway: This Friday All Orders Will Include “Silver Sprinkles”

Cupcake pinkAny and all orders will receive a bonus this Friday as our fairy-warehouse mothers sprinkle some extra silver into every order! Don’t miss out on some bonus metal – it’s easy to earn! Just add promo code: SILVERSPRINKLES

Our 2016 theme – #BeResponsible – is empowering customers and readers everywhere to become financially responsible and successful. The month of January started with creating a winning budget for the year, and next month we will explore the benefits and strategies on building a Grade A network. Please join us and share what you’ve learned along the way to us at support@anthemvault.com or on our Facebook pages!

http://facebook.com/anthemvaultinc

Mobile Phones: What Every Budget Conscious Person Needs to Know

IMG_4829Like most Americans, I find myself tethered to my phone 24/7. It is without a doubt the most important tech tool I possess. So as you can probably imagine, I’ve always  been very careful to prevent any sort of lapse in payment.

Well, an unfortunate scenario occurred three months ago, or so I thought. My mobile service was disconnected because I was no longer able to come up with the $190 monthly payment. The good news is that I eventually paid the bill and had it restored.

Here’s what I discovered as a result of this experience. I was being charged for way more mobile data than I could possibly ever need. So I made a visit to my phone carrier retail store and reduced my data package to one gigabyte. The savings:  $90 per month.

My new monthly bill was therefore reduced to $100 plus tax and fees. Sounds more reasonable, huh? Well, not really when you consider the fact that I found myself now paying for what amounted to a phone number and 1GB of data. So I am now pondering the unthinkable: cancelling both my cell number and data plan.

Why would I do such a crazy thing when one could argue that 1GB of data is woefully inefficient? The simple answer – I have little need for a pricey data plan given the abundance of low or no-cost Wi-Fi available at public locations or via a mobile hotspot.

A Brave Step for Browsers

Internet1The viability of free content is becoming a hot topic, but in discussions on internet advertising, privacy issues often tend to surface as well. I have written a few articles discussing paywalls and adblockers and the tolls they have taken on the internet in recent years. In answer to privacy concerns, Brendan Eich, known for his work on JavaScript and Mozilla, is working on a new browser called Brave, which replaces targeted ads with anonymous ones.

Brave will be connected to its own private cloud which will host anonymous ads. The browser works by first blocking targeted ads and tracking, then replacing all of the ad spots with anonymous untargeted ads. Revenue for ads will be divided between publishers and users, after Brave takes a cut. The browser’s choice of ads will be based on information pooled from all users instead of targeting each individual.

The problem Eich is trying to address with Brave has to do with choice. In the current system of targeted ads, decisions are made for the users by browsers and websites, and those decisions are guided by the interests of content publishers in pushing as many ads and getting as many click-throughs as possible. Brave’s is an interesting route to take, and one that hasn’t been explored by other browsers yet, at least to my knowledge.

The Lebenskϋnstler Lifestyle

IMG_4820

“I put my talent into my work, but my genius into my life.”

Oscar Wilde

Some of my friends characterize me as a dictionary fanatic, an opinion that was recently reinforced when I became intrigued by a new word I stumbled across: Lebenskϋnstler.

The word evokes an archetype that to this day continues to have an influence on the German ethos, particularly as it relates to Berlin culture and nightlife. It connotes a person who, though not actually an artist, pursues life with the same zeal as a passionate artist, making life magical in myriad ways, putting a positive spin on everything and taking delight in the little things that others overlook. Such a person could best be described as a Life Artist.

This echoes today’s evolving millennial mindset; one where ripe opportunities are recognized and seized in an attempt to make the most out of our lives. It’s a life course that’s deliberate, yet fraught with profound risk. For these folks, it’s the deep path of life that holds importance, rather than a static destination.

Lebenskϋnstlers are fiercely independent, individualists who see themselves as architects of their own freedom. In this way, they reflect the core values of Hank Reardon, the hero highlighted in Ayn Rand’s perennial best-selling book, Atlas Shrugged. They care little about their next deal or the Big Win. Instead, only the present moment matters, and how they can create meaning right now.

These individuals are also susceptible to what I affectionately call Career Polyamory. Instead of being faithful to one career, they have dalliances with multiple jobs, designed to meet their psychic needs and/or pay the bills. They are the proverbial freelancers who – in contrarian fashion – abhor rules, bosses, suits, small talk and even formal offices.