Happy Tax Day! Ed’s Daily Notes for April 15th   17 comments

demotivational-posters-tax-dollars(hat tip to Jape Monster for the pic)

Business Insider: Google Buys Drone Company Titan Aerospace

Google has acquired drone maker Titan Aerospace, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Titan is a New Mexico-based company that makes high-flying solar powered drones.

There’s no word on the price Google paid, but Facebook had been in talks to acquire the company earlier this year for a reported $60 million. Presumably, Google paid more than that to keep it away from Facebook.

Why in the world would Facebook need a drone maker? At least this makes sense for Google:

It sounds like Titan will work on a variety of projects for Google.

–Titan will be able to collect photos from around the planet from high up, which could help with Google Earth and Google Maps.
–It will also contribute to Google’s Project Loon, which is sending balloons into the atmosphere which then beams Internet to parts of the world that are not yet connected.
–It’s also likely to work with Makani, another company Google bought, that gets wind power high in the sky, and delivers the energy back to earth through a long cable.

As a Google shareholder, I like this acquisition.

NBC Philadelphia: Dog Chosen for Jury Duty?

While you are paying your taxes today, just think of the highly efficient government services your money is paying for:

“It’s kinda strange.”

That was New Jersey resident Barrett Griner’s first thought when he checked his mail last week and found that one of the mail items from his local county clerk’s office was not for him. It was for his 5-year-old German Shepherd dog, IV.

“I got the mail and I look at it, and I’m like IV Griner, this is my dog’s name,” he said.

“I’m wondering like, What is this? Something from the county office about her vaccinations or something? Like, why is my dog getting mail?”

The notice, addressed from the Cumberland County Clerk of Courts, was a juror summons for someone with the first name IV and the last name Griner — the exact name Barrett Griner IV says he legally gave to his dog.

“She’s a female, so I named her ‘IV’ without the ‘Y’ as sort of a play on words. Somebody had to physically type in that name and they didn’t pay any bit of attention to it,” he said.

As it turns out, the mix-up was actually due to a fairly common computer error.

Cumberland County Judiciary Coordinator Dennis Moffa said the county’s jury duty notices are computer-generated in District Court offices in Trenton, N.J., and frequently include name errors.

“This happens many times. As an example, if you had John Henry IV, sometimes the notice might just say Henry IV,” Moffa said. “I think that the computer probably randomly picks some things that are probably not as on point as they should be.”

Barrett Griner IV said he’s still unsure whether the summons were meant for him or not. He says he’s received jury duty notices from the county before, but they’ve always included his full name.

Moffa said the discrepancy can easily be resolved with a call to the county clerk’s office.

“They call here and they provide us with information from the summons and additional identifying information, and we can determine who the summons is actually for,” he said.

For Barrett Griner IV, the mix-up was more humorous than anything else.

“She [the dog] might be good for a cat burglar case or something like that,” he added. “The whole thing was just really, really funny.”

“I don’t know about you, but to me, that defendant smells guilty!”

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Posted April 15, 2014 by edmcgon in Humor, News, Stocks, Technology

17 responses to “Happy Tax Day! Ed’s Daily Notes for April 15th

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  1. Ed – I know you are a google fan. Did you see that they are starting to have their computers scanning your incoming and out going email from Gmail to use for targeted ads? That seems outrageous to me. I do not use gmail, but would probably switch if I did.

    • Marshall,
      Although I don’t use gmail, I don’t have an issue with that. Having a cumputer scan your emails for the purpose of giving you targeted ads, as opposed to random ads, at least limits the ads I will be seeing to something potentially useful to me.

      This isn’t a case like the NSA using emails to catch you doing something illegal.

      • Ed, Let me get this correct. It is alright for Google to data mine my email to sale me something but isn’t alright for the government to data mine my email to catch a terrorist. To my knowledge the government doesn’t read my email any more than Google. However, taking the next step from data mining to reading doesn’t appear to be a big thing as long Google is doing it. So, why not let Google subcontract to the NSA and do their data mining. What a winner, we reduce government employees, put more money into a private company, and of course know we are safer.

      • Latetom,
        What is to stop the government from abusing the data they collect? Not a darned thing, since none of us, including the U.S. Congress, really knows what they are doing behind closed doors.

        What is to stop Google from abusing the data they collect? The bad PR they’d get for it, plus the loss of future advertising revenue.

        Incentive advantage: Google.

      • Ed, I have posted more than once that I am against the NSA surveillance program. I have always respected your thoughts on data mining. However, bad PR is the weakest argument I have ever heard. Furthermore, I believe Google as any company will weigh the income vs the bad PR expense and make the decision which makes money.

    • Marshall, Ed is a Google fanboy, there is almost nothing they can do that he finds fault with. You could change any move Apple made to Google and Ed would love it or Google move to Apple and Ed would hate it.
      No doubt Google is a great company but their strategy seems to be, we have tons of really smart people so we can do anything. I am not so sure that will actually work out for them in the long run but with the amount of money they have to waste they have better odds of succeeding than most.

      Robb

      • Robb,
        For the record, I use Hotmail for my email.

        DISCLAIMER: I own Microsoft stock.

        Does this make me a Microsoft fanboy too? 😛

    • I have steered away from google mail as well as their web browsers, etc. exactly because of these privacy issues.

      Does anyone use TOR? I’m thinking of giving it a try. Just don’t want to get too wacky about this.

    • What I find strange is you are talking about this and that Google has just now changed their privacy statement.

      It seems that people have all forgotten the GMail history, and there has never been any notices that anything has changed.

      When GMail came out they gave tons of space for your email, but the one catch is that they would be using computer programs to scan it to know what kind of ads to put up with it. This is from day one folks!

      It was for this reason that some people didn’t (and still don’t) want to go GMail. It is the choice you make to use GMail.
      Nothing except and updated privacy statement has changed.

  2. Roll the clock back to the days before email and imagine every piece of conventional mail in your mailbox was opened and reviewed by someone. I’m pretty sure the majority of folks would feel violated and many would be outraged. It’s amazing what we’ve come to accept/expect.

    • Amen. It is bazaar to me how little personal connection people feel to the electronic information in their lives versus a physical thing. People see someone hacking in and searching their hard drive differently than breaking into their house and searching their personal papers. To me it is exactly the same. We really have lost a lot of ground in the right/expectation of privacy and people seem eager to give more away as quickly as anyone wants to take it.

  3. Tough arguments here. On one side I think what most people should realize is that the use of email is something you go to a business that offers the email service. By them allowing you to use their service they are extracting some type of benefit so they can make money to offer you that service. The government runs the post office and as inherent in our constitution individuals are expected to a certain amount of privacy to protect themselves from the government which has broad and almost irrevocable power. Sending something through the mail entails the person to certain rights which includes(as far as I know) that no one else is allowed by law to open and read your mail. Sending something through email does not have that privilege as its sent through private business networks on the internet which is by design open and susceptible to interception, yet allows user to remain anonymous to a certain extent.

    W_seattle,

    Out in your neck of the woods this week. Any good recomendations for restaurants, bars, etc???

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