Category Archives: Technology

Does Your School Hinder Creativity?

school hallway

Imagine one day you come to school after working hard on an essay only for your teacher to tell you that it is trash and you need to go back and rewrite it. You think to yourself, “rewrite it? But I just spent all night working on it? It was great when I turned it in.” You go back and work on it again and when you turn it back in the teacher marks it up again. You can not figure out what is going wrong so you turn to your friend in class and ask them to look it over. They tell you it’s not in the format and outline the teacher wants. You get mad that the teacher didn’t say that, or least you didn’t pay attention or read the instructions, and so you blame it on the teacher for not explaining it clearly. You write the essay again in the format required and end up getting a B- because it was turned in late. You are happy and move on with your life.

The example above is one that many students experience over and over everyday in school. It is the reason so many students lose interest in certain subjects because they didn’t follow directions or the teacher was not clear enough, or in some cases the teacher is only looking for a certain format. Any student in English class will lose interest in the art of writing after going through an experience like that because they learn that writing should only be formatted a certain way instead of a form that expresses how the author thinks and feels. Take that similar feeling and imagine the number of students each day who lose hope in ever getting good at math because they keep getting bad grades. Not all students are proactive enough to seek out help and in many cases they are waiting for someone to come and help them.

That is the case for many students at all levels of school. Not everyone is a leader and not everyone will seek out help. Students gauge their level of skill on the type of grades they get not really knowing that they have the ability to get better, if only someone provided them with support. So what about the super-achievers at school? The ones that want to impress and show off their talents? Where do they end up? Many of the overachievers get the support they need in class and at school because they know to speak up and raise their hands and attend after school help. They seek out the resources they should be using and take advantage of them. But what happens to that one student who gets punished because the understanding of one teacher, or teachers, mistook their amazing efforts for something terrible? What does that do to a child’s psyche and self-esteem? A lot of damage actually.

The Teachers at Schools in America
Teachers in America do not have to have the most rigorous training or educational achievements in order to teach in a K-12 classroom, infact, math teachers in majority of places do not have to have any kind of college math training or degree in order to teach math at the highschool level. This is why most high school coaches teach math and science, aside from the fact that they don’t have to throw any kickbacks to the math and science teachers to keep their athletes grades up in order to play, because they already have a certificate in addition to a education degree to teach in a school. I do need to point out that many schools are changing the requirements but for majority of them, which are public schools, they do not require more than a state teaching certificate and degree in college, most likely an education degree.

If math teachers are not required to study math in college than what does that say of the requirements for other teachers in their subjects? Do English teachers need to have read all the books they are required to teach in school or do they only need to know how to write and create curriculum lessons as long as they have a degree in education? The sad thing is that the college of education at most universities in America are the dumping grounds of the students who can not make it in any of the harder degree fields. Infact, the requirements for a degree in education are so simple that even the college students themselves take it because they know it is a knock-off degree that will get them a paying job after college. Of course little do they know, because they don’t bother to actually study, the economy is flooded with education degrees making them more worthless than they already are.

Don’t forget these are the same people that will be teaching your children study skills and the importance of getting an education later on. Scared yet? The challenge with that is that most teachers do not have the versatility in education to understand all the subjects students are learning in school and this is where problems arise.

Why Finland and East-Asian Countries Produce the best students
They do not mess around when it comes to education. Here is an example of what that means in South Korea: on the day of the exam that determines where seniors in high school will go after they graduate, police, airports, and transportation services all ensure that students do not have any distractions – this means no planes flying overhead during exam time, no traffic congestion so police block off and reroute traffic away from schools, and taxis offer free rides so students can get to school on time before their exam. That is what a nation, dedicated to providing a proper role model for students, does to show how important education is.

School days there are long so that means students learn to get along better with everyone but that is not everything. When the majority of the day ends the students change clothes and start cleaning their school. This very behavior teaches students to appreciate and take care of the very place that will give them a nice future. They are required to mop, sweep, clean, and take out the trash. That very dedication to taking care of the school lowers the costs for so many things that the school doesn’t have to worry about. Students notice more things than a regular janitor would so if there is a light broken somewhere then a student can go and fix that right away. After they are done cleaning they all go to the cafeteria and have dinner together and when that is over they head back to class until it is time to go and study with their independent tutor schools. There is a strong focus on studying and parents make every effort to ensure that students get all the help they need but also that the teachers teaching each class have proven themselves worthy to teach. Infact, the independent tutors work on a capitalist system which means that the higher demand for one teacher from students means more pay. You can read about how this teacher gets paid just as much as people in silicon valley because of his excellent teaching skills. These high standards coupled with students taking care of their schools produce high quality students.

Finland, on the otherhand, has made it a point to ensure that any teacher in front of any class has gotten the best training the top universities have to offer. The top job to have in their country is a teacher, whereas, kids in the US are told that the top job to have is to become a doctor, lawyer, or engineer. Students respect their teacher because they understand how hard it was for them to even get in front of that class and teach. It is about the same amount of training that a doctor in America would receive, if not more. This is why they tend to be number 1 in the world in terms of producing the smartest students in the world.

Finland is the top role model in getting students to understand how important an education is and to understand what you want to do with it. How many schools like that exist in America? Chances are you would have to attend a private school to come even close to what Finland offers for free to all their students. Infact, students there have more freedom to do things on their own than in South Korea and America.

So why can’t schools in America strive to be the best?
The simple answer: paranoia from parents, politics and bureaucracy. Education is always ignored and the education budget is always the first on the chopping block.

Poor Education Leads to Terrible Mistakes
Students in schools take for granted that their teachers are always there to help them. Many students like to show off and impress their teachers because it makes them feel good about themselves and what they are able to do but it also is a way for someone in the same area of interest to acknowledge what they have accomplished. Unfortunately the lack of education on one teacher can have devastating consequences on a student. In this case the situation with Ahmed Mohamed is a perfect example of what happens when a teacher, in this case an Engineering and English teacher, were not able to determine whether a device is a bomb or just a clock.

Let’s look closer at what could have caused this problem. Ahmed said that he showed the clock he made to his engineering teacher who was very impressed but showed concern. It might confuse someone else that a student with a certain type of name and skin color might cause some problems. That part is assumed. In this case it lead to a huge problem with a student being arrested because a teacher, a high-school teacher at that, was not able to decipher correctly that an engineering project was a threat. What could cause a teacher to not understand the significance of what this student at his age, 14, was able to accomplish? Lack of science, tech, and engineering background. If you build and tinker with stuff all the time you will quickly learn what wires are used for what, how clocks are actually made, in this case a digital clock, and what all goes into a project like this. You would also know that in order to make a bomb of that size, some chemistry will be needed but in this case there were no liquids, radio controller, moving parts, external power source, or anything contained except the clock board and some circuits.

Does someone need to study these things in college in order to understand this kind of complex stuff? No, actually it was the same stuff I learned in middle and high school so it is not like a special background in this stuff is necessary. I attended an engineering high school where we were always building things and taking them apart and putting them back together and never once did I ever feel scared that a teacher would mistake what my friends and I were doing as something wrong. It takes experience and education in order to create a safe learning environment where students are pushed further.

In the case of Ahmed, it was his English teacher that got frustrated with the fact that his alarm clock was going off in class and took it away from him out of fear that it was a bomb. Teachers now are required to report any kind of disturbance or suspicious behavior to the office and alert the police. In this case the teacher’s lack of understanding caused Ahmed to be arrested at his school wearing something that only dedicated students of science and tech would wear, a NASA t-shirt.

So what is going to happen to Ahmed’s English teacher? The one responsible for all this mess? Are there going to be any consequences for their behavior and lack of science education? The simple answer is nothing will happen to a poorly educated English teacher. They will continue on with their job teaching more students in the coming years. Sad right? A student gets suspended and arrested but nothing to the teacher, why? Politics and school bureaucracy, plain and simple. Union rules make it extremely difficult to fire teachers but Michelle Rhee knows how to do it the right way. Those same union rules also make it difficult to fire a teacher who has had sexual relations with a student.

Lack of Education lands Trip to Google, Facebook, NASA, MIT, and the White House
In many cases this situation has shown a bright light on a student that would have otherwise had to have proven themselves the regular way like most students. If not for the lack of education by the English teacher Ahmed would never have been invited to the White House;

Mark Zuckerberg would never have known who this teenager was from Irving Texas,

and MIT and it’s student body would never have worked hard to create their own clock

and invite him out for a campus tour.

Google even saved him a seat with a complete invitation to their science fair.

The CEO of Box has invited Ahmed out to tour their company.

The whole world has taken notice of all the cool projects and gadgets that Ahmed has been creating for years, all for his love of science, technology, and engineering. The English and Engineering teachers are examples of people that are considered obstacles to student’s careers and for many high school students they would have lost their interest in what they love to do because of someone else’s poor judgement. It is great to know that Ahmed will be transferring to a school that will encourage and reward his creative endeavors but now that the top names in science, engineering, and technology know who he is, it won’t be hard for him to land a job right after college. Many top tech companies have already offered him an internship, including Twitter itself.

If Ahmed takes up all the offers he has been given his high school years will be unlike anything a typical teenager gets to do. He will have access to so many amazing people and places that he will be a role model for other teenagers to follow. Ahmed could easily build this into a program that helps more students connect to the top people and companies in the world by encouraging them to follow their passion in STEM programs. If I was Ahmed I would talk with all the people who invited me, build trust and raise funds to start outreach programs to get more students into building things and learning about how they can help their community.

The support from the science community, especially NASA and scientists has been amazing.

NASA sent out a tweet about all its programs for students

Ahmed was invited to the Toronto show Generator. which is a science-based variety show on Oct 28th and many supporters have offered to pay for his flight and hotel.

Former Astronaut Mark Kelly even tweeted his support for Ahmed

The outpouring of support from companies, institutions, and people show that they have to pick up the slack that schools still can not do on their own. They showed their encouragement to Ahmed because it is important not to kill any interest a child has in what they love to do. The world needs critical thinkers as well as STEM people too. It is even harder to find programs that combine both. The sad thing though is that schools love bureaucracy so much that it hinders the kind of help students actually get in school. For many public schools they are simply a place for adults to have a job and nothing more.

Why Schools Kill Creativity
Sir Ken Robinson gave one of the greatest TED talks on this topic explaining how and why schools kill creativity. Surprisingly enough many schools have done very little to fix this problem since his famous talk, instead, forcing more students to study in the areas that kill creativity. The hard part about creativity is that it is a very abstract thing to teach but it can be taught but only by those who know how to get the best out of students. In the book, Creating Innovators, the author, Tony Wagner, explains that the very teachers that produce the most innovative students are never considered for tenure at their universities because of politics and bureaucracy. Instead of changing the rules and encouraging more of these teachers, universities still focus heavily on professors that can bring in more research money instead of producing high quality students that have already proven how they will change the world. It is that backwards way of thinking in the higher education institutes that hurts students in the long run.

The other issue is teaching to the test that all teachers are forced to deal with. Many say that it limits their time and ability to get students interested in their subject because they have to make sure they cover certain topics every week in order to make sure they are on track for the test. That is one way of killing creativity for sure. The limits that teachers have on their time to teach hurts the future of this country because America is known as the powerhouse of innovation but how can you create innovators when you have to stick to a standardized level of learning. The students who are naturally smart and want to excel tend to get bored in their classes faster because there is nothing there for them to do. I remember in several of my classes in middle school and high school there were times when I had completed majority of the course work before it was even assigned and since the teacher didn’t know what to do with me I was just left to work on coursework from my other classes.

The teachers that are the best are the ones that push you past your limits and never give you the answer, even when you ask for it. They challenge you to try harder and they know when you need help and that is the only time they offer assist which is only after you have exhausted all your options. Students like Ahmed need learning environments that push him further and have the resources available for him to continue learning past what he already knows. The schools and universities that produce the best students are the ones that combine group work with multidisciplinary fields which focuses more on work than just reading.

This means that if you want students to learn chemistry then you need to give them more projects that require them to explore the properties. If you want students to learn Shakespeare then why not have them act it out in class instead of just students reading one paragraph at a time? You have to engage the students in creative ways that gets them to apply what they have read in order to see how it works. Ahmed has been doing this on his own for a long time and so when he goes to visit all the top Silicon Valley companies he will never want to leave because he will see people doing things that he wants to do right now.

Sir Ken Robinson wrote a book called, Creative Schools, in which he lays out an actionable plan that anyone in education can follow. The talk he gave is a way to inspire and motivate people to take action and his books provide all the resources and insight as to what people need to start doing. The rise in home-schooling has lead to a push-back of standardized testing but at the same time, many of those kids don’t come close to what exceptional kids have and that is, an internal motivation to really learn and create. It has been the case that I have met many parents who call their kids natural geniuses but in all my time working with kids it has been very difficult actually finding just a handful. Every parent calls their child naturally-gifted but that can not be true for every child and it is only the ones that create that set themselves apart from everyone else. I don’t care how high your test scores are, if you have nothing to show for how smart you are then you are just being selfish to the world.

Rewards and Positive Future
In the time since all this has happened to Ahmed, he has gained more support from people who realize there needs to be more of a push to help creative students. We need more critical thinkers so this means more people need to get a liberal arts education and on top of that we need more STEM people combined with entrepreneurial training. It is difficult to find schools that combine all three but they are out there like Olin College where students can build their own major and incorporate all areas of learning into the process of learning and building.

The engineer who can build something and see the complete impact of their product on the world at every level of the life-cycle process while at the same time determining if this will actually benefit the users and the environment are more important than the engineer who only knows how to build because they are told to do it by their employee.

It is great to see that Microsoft got in on the action of helping Ahmed by sending him an awesome swag box of tech goodies. The kind of tech goodies I would geek out on. If you click this link you can see the picture of all the stuff he got for being a science, engineering, and tech nerd. Microsoft sent a tweet saying they can’t wait to see what he creates with all of it. The number of invites shows that more students need to be encouraged as to what all is out there for students of STEM backgrounds.

Creating Enriching and Innovative Environments for Students
Freedom to Explore and Learn
Students need an environment that allows them to explore and find out how things work and where they come from. They need to know they can go out and attend events and meet people who will get them to see a new perspective in this world. I am always encouraging students that they need to attend as many events as they can in their city, especially SXSW and Startup programs. Students who explore on their own gain an advantage over students who can only do things with their parents around.

Watch lots of TV and Movies
The most creative people in the world work in Hollywood and if you want to see what kind of work they create, just turn on your TV or go to the movies and see. Peoples’ lives have been changed because of a movie or TV show. They are meant to touch and inspire people to see a different way of experiencing the world by what the writers, producers, directors, and actors create for everyone to see. The more you watch the more ideas you get.

Read a lot
The same can be said for books too. They open your mind to a creative world of imagination. The more you read about someone or something the more your mind begins to take on its own way of seeing things. Books are a gateway to the writers soul and when you see the works that people from the past to the present have created, you begin to see there is so many different ways to get inspired to create something. This also includes reading the news every morning.

Creative Teachers that Push students
These type of teachers are hard to find and they come in the form you least suspect. In the movie, Stand and Deliver, you have a teacher who came in and changed the lives of students who would have otherwise never gone to college. The amazing thing about what this teacher did was that he taught all his students to pass the AP calculus exam without a calculator, what teacher could do that today? Movies like The Power of One, Lean on Me, Spare Parts, Dangerous Minds, Freedom Writers, The Karate Kid, and McFarland, USA are all examples of great teachers pushing their students to do their best and showing them the natural gifts they have. Unfortunately the bureaucracy that is set up in schools do not reward the efforts these teachers make and that is why it is hard to find and keep them.

Connecting Students to Outside Opportunities
Students learn a lot of different things everyday at school but no where do they learn how to apply it in the real world except in class projects. Students need to be connected with programs outside their school that relate to what they are interested in doing and how that applies to the world. It is not enough to study and get good grades, students need to learn how to apply their knowledge. You need special teachers who will take the time to take students to programs that connect them with people who do what they love professionally.

Always on the look out for excellence
This part is hard to find in schools, even universities. Schools should always be on the look out for exceptional students who go beyond what is asked of them. Those are the students who need to be encouraged to work harder and learn more. When a school identifies a student like that and rewards them it raises their self-esteem and benefits the world later on.

Devotes time for Exploration and Play
Students need to know that they will have time to try out the things they are learning. They need to explore and play with stuff in order to see the issue they are covering from all sides. Play and exploration are the key components to creative learning. It engages the mind by taking what they are learning and allowing the student to see how it all fits together based on the projects they are doing.

Ahmed set off a firestorm of a debate about how students in schools should be treated for their natural talents. It is important for schools to teach students areas of interest that will help them later on in life. There is a rising trend of students from high school joining more trade schools and even coding schools because it means a shorter time in school and a higher paying job later on. They miss out on the fact that going to college is supposed to get you a well-rounded education, of course, that is for the students who truly apply themselves.

If you feel your school is not giving you the education you want and not providing you with the opportunities you thought you would get to have then you need to start looking at how you spend your time. How many student organizations are you apart of? How many internships have you done? What projects have you created on your own that relate to what you are studying? That should give you an idea of how you spend your time and once you start connecting with clubs and programs at your school the opportunities will open up. If your school doesn’t offer what you want, then start your own program or find a school that does.

Ahmed will have no problem picking what school he wants to attend and which company he wants to intern with and eventually work for. Like I said before, his options are wide open now so for every other student who has to do things the regular way, they just need to know that they need to start creating stuff that will show off their skills, as well as, help other people. I hope Ahmed is getting some good advice about how he should use his new fame.


News Articles

Family: Ahmed Mohamed, clock-making teen, transferring to another school

Here’s the ‘Bomb’ Clock That Got Ahmed Mohamed Arrested

Handcuffed for Making Clock, Ahmed Mohamed, 14, Wins Time With Obama

Ahmed Mohamed: No charges for boy, 14, arrested over clock

Facebook, Google roll out welcome mat to Ahmed Mohamed

Even NASA loves the teen arrested for bringing a homemade clock to school

Microsoft Seriously Hooked up Ahmed Mohamed After That Clock BS

They thought it was a bomb’: 9th-grader arrested after bringing a home-built clock to school

Why a ninth-grader’s arrest over a home-built clock struck a chord across America

#IStandWithAhmed: Scientists and the public surge to support boy arrested for homemade clock

How to Make Your Own Homemade Clock That Isn’t a Bomb

This teenager discovered a new planet on his third day at work

Tech companies Stand with Ahmed, offer the young inventor opportunities

NASA opportunities for students

Google Programs for Students

Your YouTube videos with Copyright Music are safe, for now


The title includes, “for now,” because there is a chance that a higher court later down the road overturns this ruling, which is a completely fair ruling but given that more and more courts are based on which side they lean towards there is no telling what will happen five years down the road from this.

Let’s set the stage for a moment – you are with your family at your home just enjoying a good time when suddenly one of your children starts dancing to a song that comes on the radio. You pull out your phone and start recording this cute little dance they are doing. You hear and see all the time other people posting videos of children singing or dancing along to their favorite songs so you figured why not post this up on YouTube to share with your family and friends and the rest of the world.

You see nothing wrong with posting the video so you are quick to upload it right to YouTube and give it a cute title. It quickly garners views and you are getting great comments until one day your video is taken down and you are given a notice about what has happened. Now most people do not have the money to take on giants like YouTube or the people responsible for requesting that the video be taken down so this a unique case.

The person, Stephanie Lenz, decided to do just that and sue Universal Music. This week the US court of Appeals of the Ninth Circuit found that copyright holders must consider fair use before requesting that their material be taken down from online services, like YouTube. The case is set to go to trial and will determine just to what extend this means. In the meantime, people who record videos out in public and there is copyright material in the video can rest assure that copyright holders need to consider the conditions of the video do not warrant or allow them to restrict that video from being shown.

Copyright Online
Copyright laws are not updated enough to contend with how the internet works today. The laws are still old and do not consider how information, regardless of whether it is protected or not, is handled online. Information wants to be free and copyright laws prevent that from happening. There is a new book out that talks more about what copyright is doing in today’s age and how that affects information and internet use called, “Information doesn’t want to be free.” The author, Cory Doctorow, explains that the openness of the internet has unleashed this creative powerhouse of individuals with their causes but that the laws of copyright hold back much of what they are doing. Someone who is trying to gain attention for their cause might create a little video at home with a powerful song included that is copyrighted and place it on YouTube only to have it taken down later on.

What good does that do for society? The person’s cause and what they are trying to do? Nothing because the motive of profit is the reason these music labels are going around and causing problems. They do not consider their actions in the light of the big picture, only the fact that their “clients are not receiving their fair share of money,” which is a common response in these matters.

If copyright laws were really enforced to the full extent of the law the internet would come to a grinding halt and people would revolt against these laws. The reason for that is that anytime you take work that is protected by law and share it with another friend or repost, like, reblog, revlog, favor, follow, etc you are basically breaking copyright in the truest sense. That is why Tumblr was dealing with so many lawsuits on copyright because people were reblogging things they liked onto their page, which was the whole point of Tumblr to begin with. This means that people with protected works were getting onto a website they didn’t understand how it worked and then getting mad that their work was being “stolen,” when in fact people were just reblogging which tells you that the only reason those people got on Tumblr in the first place was because they heard how popular the medium was and wanted to get in on the action hoping they could make some money. In translation – some old people were butting into a young person’s world and getting mad about how they were doing things and not following how things were done before.

A good way to understand this is by looking at how you access information online. An adult company tried to sue Google on the case that when people did an image search and their photos showed up in the results, Google was breaking copyright law by using their photos in the results page. Google would go on to win the case by stating that the use of the photos was considered fair use and that they were protected. It is very easy to use the internet and not realize how many times you are breaking the law. It seems that photographers in general and artists tend to cause the most trouble when they see their photos used on other sites but it shouldn’t come as a surprise, it’s the internet and people want to share what they find and talk about it.

The perfect quote to close all this out with comes from Jessica Litman who said, “Most of us can no longer spend even an hour without colliding with the copyright law.” The reason is that in the past copyright holders, before the internet, held total control over who purchased their stuff and could control it because it was all physical items to be bought, now the internet has changed all that.

Fair Use on YouTube
The case of Ms. Lenz means that people will be able to post videos online with copyright material in them and not worry about it getting taken down, as long as it is used in fair use. The judged ruled that all media companies need to take into account of the fair use before considering any kind of lawsuit or request. The media companies countered with an affirmative defense tactic but the judge found that not to be the case here. This ruling is an important one because it means that copyright holders can not longer go after people who use their material in a way that is not meant for profit motives, in majority of all cases it is simply just good wholesome entertainment.

For those considering that the author of this blog is not considering the blood, sweat, and tears that goes into all the work someone creates, I am. I have been creating a lot of work on my own for years and would rather find that my work is being shared online with others and know that it is helping them achieve what they are pursing in life than putting up a paywall and only helping a handful. Which has a better impact on society?

News Articles

YouTube ‘Dancing Baby’ Copyright Ruling Sets Fair Use Guideline

Teachers offer lesson plans for pay

Kids in class

Gone are the days when teachers had to fend for themselves to come up with their own lesson plans for the school year. The day-by-day management of classroom course work can create a lot of stress on teachers, especially first-year teachers. Now there are more options than ever with pulling from other teachers who have been doing this a long time. The amazing thing to learn about this new “sharing economy” is that there is a lot of content already available for anyone to pull from and use.

Lesson Plan Creation
If you remember the days of when you went to school you didn’t really think much about the work that was put in front of you except that you had to learn it and turn it in for a grade, which amounted to even more work for the teacher to do, even after they came up with the assignment. As kids you didn’t really think about where that work you did came from because you just wanted to get it over with so you could go back to talking with your friends.

For elementary teachers this process is fairly easy because you have the same students all day long, except for those that rotate for other subjects throughout the day or even week. You can blend your lesson plans together and if one day the students fall behind you can still play catch up with all of them because you know your students so well. That is the nice thing about planning your lessons for younger kids because they were just interested in learning and doing their best and for even most of them getting stars on their charts or golden stickers on their assignments with 100’s made their day so they were happy regardless.

In the middle school and high school range, the challenge with lesson planning gets very complicated because not all classes work at the same rate or level so coming up with new and interesting topics everyday or weeks can be very difficult, especially when you have kids that learn faster or slower than others. In order to reduce the amount of lesson planning that teachers are required to perform many of them break up their semesters into smaller chunks that revolve around certain topics, for example, biology teachers will focus on animal and plant cells for a week or two before moving on to the next level. This is why English teachers assign X number of books a semester because their lesson plans focus on just the content of each book for a few weeks.

Sharing What Your Good At
It should not come as a surprise that teachers have more options than ever in getting support for their classrooms. Infact, there are many new ways that teachers can now support and provide for students just by using crowdfunding sites to help assist the kind of work they want their students to learn with by getting the resources they need. This is very important to the future development of student’s educations because it can mean the difference between one student falling in love with science or another losing interest in math because the lesson plans created just didn’t make sense.

The resource that I’m about to talk about stems from the whole sharing and gig economy model. Many people are learning to become their own entrepreneur using sharing apps to make extra money. It should not come as a surprise that many people who work part or full-time jobs also work for Uber or TaskRabbit in order to make extra money to pay the bills. Now teachers can make money doing what they are good at – Creating Lesson plans. Teachers Pay Teachers is a website that lets teachers browse countless lesson plans and resources that teachers have created and posted for others to buy and download. The great thing about this website is that not only are teachers rated on the content that they create and sell but also that each content item that is posted is also rated for quality assurance from other teachers. This helps people know beforehand whether or not it is worth buying.

There is an app version available on the iPhone and Android market but there are many bugs that need to be worked out and you can not purchase anything on the app, just browse. Once those issues get fixed and people can purchase them with their paypal account then I believe this will be a very powerful app. The website though is still superior to the app because this is content you will want to review on a large screen, not a tiny phone screen. Many lesson plans offer previews so you know that what you are purchasing is worth the price.

The prices range from free all the way up into the hundreds. In many cases the lesson plans that cost more than a $100 are for long periods of time or even workshops of a large magnitude. The most expensive listed items cost in the thousands and not surprising many of them have never been purchased or rated for that very reason. Teacher salaries do not have the flexibility to be able to afford such high cost plans so that is something to consider if you plan to use the service. The range that is most common tends to be from 10 to 40 dollars.

Variety by the Item and Seller
The interesting thing about this website is that it was created with the idea in mind of teachers selling other teachers their lesson plans but now that the site has gotten more popular in recent months, textbook makers and publishing houses that specialize in educational material are now putting all their books and lesson plans and supplemental materials on the website. What makes the website great in the beginning is that it was teachers helping teachers teach better with materials that they perfected and have found that their kids enjoy. Now that large companies are coming in it takes away from the fun.

The variety of what the site offers, in terms of use, is that anyone can focus their search results by many options; subject matter, price, resources, and grade level. The most popular option that people enjoy is the free section of items because it includes tons of free things that teachers can download and use right away. Many of the items include games, charts, posters, and poems. Again this is very useful to any teachers who is looking to fill their students time with productive activities that encourage more of what it is they are learning in class.

In addition to all the custom lesson plans that teachers have created there are also a lot of Common Core items coming up that teachers have created that will help others improve their students scores. In many cases there are posters that highlight important things to know which can help students focus on learning the right material. There are also assessments that can be purchased to help make sure your students are on track to pass.

Success from Selling
This website has been a blessing for many teachers because it means another source of income for teachers. The challenge of course is being able to teach your classes and still put out new content for all your fellow teachers to purchase, especially your group of followers that some tend to create. It is interesting to learn that only 12 teachers have become millionaires using the site with 300 teachers earning in the 6 figure range. These are teachers who know what it means to create lesson plans that are easy to use and understand but also that students will enjoy and get the most out of them but also learning how to price your items correctly.

Just like with any other website that is similar to this, infact the same thing can be done on Amazon or eBay, it all comes down to how well you market what it is you do. There are helpful tips and guidelines provided by the website that explain the importance of using social media to keep your followers updated on new content in your profile. In any case this website is a much needed service for anyone that is a teacher that wants to put their name out there but also build a new stream of income. It doesn’t matter if you teach in a public school or provide private lessons at home anyone who is a teacher in any capacity can use this website to share what it is they are good at.

If you would like to sign up and start selling or just purchase items keep in mind there are three different types of accounts available, two of which are free. If you just want to download free items and purchase things there is a free individual account but if you want to sell items then you can also get one for free but you won’t get a dedicated homepage to your services which is what the third account offers.

News Article

A Sharing Economy Where Teachers Win

Need a Plumber? Just ask Google

Google is now on track to compete with the likes of TaskRabbit, Angie’s List, Amazon Home Services, Thumbtack, and but what makes them different right now is that they are only launching their professional services program in the San Fransisco area. What does this mean if your a handy-man living in midwest America? You better get your website up and running professionally, get licensed and bonded by the city and plenty of insurance because those are some of the requirements that Google is mandating in order to be part of their services option ever time someone searches for any kind of professional service. You will also have to undergo a background check that Google will require all businesses to have. Oh and you will need to have at least one personal photo of someone that works for the company, right next to your company logo.

Google is only offering home services, meaning they will only connect you with plumbers, cleaners, electricians, locksmiths, and carpenters. So for all those home tutors and babysitters and home delivery services you will need to wait but Amazon already allows you to sign up so why wait for Google?

Service Industry Competition
It used to be the case that if you needed help with something at home or elsewhere you had to look up, compare reviews, and do your homework before calling someone. Now with the help of Google you will be able to do all that in one simple search like, “clogged toilet,” and Google will provide you with a list of professional plumbers you can compare and contact right away knowing that each one has already passed all of Google’s requirements to be listed.

Many of the companies that will show up in the results page are long time users of Google’s app, “AdWords Express.” They pay to be ranked near the top so people can find them faster and with a tap of the screen either call them or sign up on their website.

The fact that Google is starting in the San Fransisco area means that they are testing the market to see how things perform but more than likely they will expand to the major cities of the US next before small towns can start using the service but if you are a service provider now you can already sign up with the many other options listed at the beginning of this article. Amazon is the number one online company that everyone buys from so if you sign up with them and offer painting lessons then anytime somebody searches for painting lessons then they will be able to sign up with your program. The same thing is done on Thumbtack and TaskRabbit, which all use a bidding system in order to provide reasonable prices. The thing to do right now is set up your company on these platforms so you can be the first one in to gain the most attention, or as the business term goes, “First-Mover Advantage.”

Anyone who offers a service but doesn’t have the means of building a website or physical company can now sign up on all the services in order to maximize their potential reach. The idea here is that people who hold very special skills can now put them online with Amazon or Thumbtack and find people interested in their services. The competition for providers is growing and with that a number of other companies that are looking to cash in on the action. Take for example TalkLocal, they are a company that connects people with service providers in their area. It is interesting to think that companies like this are around today since most people can just get online and find one on their own but TalkLocal creates a list of pre-approved companies that meet certain industry guidelines in order to make sure that all their customers get the professional service they deserve. Hence, no one wants to hire a con-man with a flashy website.

Google plans to cut out companies like that because people won’t need to sign up for services  which act as a middleman because now people will simply be connected to companies that already qualify. The landscape for professional services is growing by leaps and bounds but the two companies that will have the most force will be Google and Amazon so like I said before if you offer a service on your website, that is all fine and dandy but if you want any kind of sway in your local market you will need to be listed on these two giants if you want to gain more attention. Just be ready to handle the influx of more work coming your way.

List of Professional Service Aggregators

Amazon Home Services
You will need to register your company with Amazon and include banking information so people can just pay through Amazon.

All TaskRabbit employees must sign up and go through a background check in order to qualify for jobs. You must all use the app regularly in order to get jobs that match your skills. The company also favors jobs to employees who respond within a certain time frame.

Angie’s List
One of the more popular services that you pay for. Any company has to pay to be listed and the better the reviews the more work you get. The trade off is that the market will correct for companies that offer top quality service.

They were posed to be Amazon of professional services until Amazon caught hold. You can perform simple searches for “math tutor,” “plumber,” and lots more and find people in the area who can bid or see pricing guides.
Find professional home services to help fix up your home at affordable market rates. You will find people who are professional and licensed when searching on this website, from carpet installers to countertops and more.

Another website that offers professional home services by finding independent contractors in your area who offer home services. This is a great way to find any kind of home service and connect with local companies.

Add to another long list of websites that offer professional home services that conduct background checks of all service providers.

I list Yelp here because you still need to do your homework on companies regardless of what website they are signed up with. You need to make sure that they are operating at the professional level they are supposed to be.

Freelance your Services
The huge benefit to online services like this is that as a Freelancer you can list your services on each website and find people who want your services. Millions of searches are performed for home tutors, cleaners, car repairmen but there are also other areas that get searched but not enough to fill the gaps. If you are creative enough you will find people in need of your help.

For example, the website, Your Man in India, is a perfect example of a company that offers professional services for individuals. Those services can range from paying your credit card bills to ordering take out and lots more. Why not offer to do those same services that they offer here it the US? A.J. Jacobs talked about how he was able to outsource his entire like in his book, My Life as an Experiment, and in many cases had the company he hired even read bed time stories to his kids and talk to his parents and wife when he didn’t want to.

LegalZoom is another sort of company that piece meals legal services and makes it affordable by hiring out as needed. If you are a lawyer why not sign up for Amazon Home Services? I’m sure people would love to be able to find an affordable lawyer. Any one of these websites is an example of freelance work. Axiom and HourlyNerd both take top talented individuals in the legal and business field and connect them to work with companies on a per-project basis. The nice perk from working with such companies are the benefits but the hardship of working for such companies is the unstable employment.

If you plan to go with these services you must be prepared for the ups and downs of the work itself. You will not be able to get ever job that comes up and you might always be underbidded by other competitors. That is the challenge of working in the freelance economy so if you plan to sign up with any one of these services you will need to have a backup plan for when work gets slow.

If you are a professional and want to be listed one of the sites listed, just click on their sign up option and read up more about what the process is all about. If still unsure search on YouTube to find out more about each website and get people’s reactions. If you want to get a head start in your area then sign up for Adwords Express and start getting listed in your area.

Google begins advertising home services in search results

Google Follows Amazon Into Home Services

Google Plunges Into Home Services Market

The Best way to Learn is to Watch Someone


The rise in live streaming is adding new life to areas of work that people would normally consider boring to watch. The adage that watching people play video games would never be a thing because, “who would want to watch someone play video games when you can do it yourself,” is now completely false. This is a myth that has long been put to bed. People today watch gamers online 24/7 and just like talent scouts look online for the next internet superstar, there are gaming companies that are watching live streams of gamers in order to find the next big gamer to come and compete at their next big tournament.

The rise of coding with the project of Hour of Code has created some new business ventures that are capitalizing on bringing two areas of interest together, live streaming and coding. This new industry is posed to create a whole new way of learning how to code and what better way to learn than to watch someone code. Twitch currently is the model in which most live streaming services look towards to understand how the live streaming community works but also how the business model works. Although live streaming on phones is still popular, screen capture still provides more for viewers to take in. Phone streaming only provides in-the-moment situations, whereas, screen capture allows more actions to be taken that can be planned ahead before starting.

But Isn’t Coding Boring?
This is a concern that many people have who are coders and have been doing it for years. The idea here is that if you have been coding as a professional you are completely aware that it can get boring and tedious very quickly after awhile but for someone who is just learning they can watch how all the pieces fit together. This right there is the appeal to this new market.

The first time you learn about something it is all very interesting and new so everything you see is something to learn about. The same thing is happening when you watch people live stream what they are good at. This is the reason Twitch and gaming are so popular because gamers who are just starting or want to be better at a game can watch and learn how some of the best players play. The same goes for coding. Infact, Twitch does offer a category where you can watch programmers code and go back and look at all their videos. The category they created is for game developers. Many coders have even built up an audience by doing this just like gamers and youtubers have.

The great part about watching coders code is that you also learn about what websites they are using in order to figure out how to code better or where they pull lines of code from. There are many websites that coders use as databases or libraries so they don’t have to keep memorizing lines of code all the time and that is also the appeal to why this new industry is seeing an up rise in users. The author of this blog has already created their own account in order to better learn how to program.

Challenges of Gaining Coders
The hard part about this that many people might be concerned that you are giving away something secret or special that you don’t want anyone to know about. This is a strong case where you might be building an app or program that you don’t want anyone finding out about. There are plenty of coders out there who do code for fun but now it is a matter of finding ones willing to live stream the projects they are working on for the public. This is part of the reason it is hard to get quality programmers to contribute to the site.

Developers, programmers, coders (they are all the same) are paid very well for their time and for many when they are not coding they enjoy relaxing doing other things. There are coders who enjoy being at their computer all the time but getting them to share online can also be a  challenge so the first websites are looking to find incentives. YouTube already provides the option of allowing users to turn their channel into a paid channel but those videos are not live streamed so you can not give instant feedback or ask questions as you are watching. YouTube does provide the option for streaming so that is another option to use since YouTube is more well known in the world. YouTube also just announced that they released an app, YouTube Gaming, that lets gamers stream their gaming content with a focus on live streaming. You can watch on your computer as well but this just demonstrates the growing demand for live streaming services.

Where to Watch
The two websites to bookmark and sign up for are and Here you will know that the audience that is watching you is dedicated to learning how to code in order to improve their skills. Users are able to ask questions and, depending on the channel, get full explanations on why they set up their code in a certain way. There are some channels where all you are watching is a live stream of people working with music playing the whole time. This is done for more advanced users who are interested in learning how to do things a little faster.

LiveCoding.TV provides a live stream on their front page of the website in order for first-time viewers to understand how they can benefit from such a website. In many cases there is a capture screen of the code itself and the programmer in the corner talking about what they are doing. Livecoding lets you set the parameters of your profile after you sign up in order to find exactly what it is you are looking for. You are able to say whether you plan to watch or stream and create your username. Whether or not you plan to ever stream is up to the user but you have the option at any time just by clicking on your username after signing up.

After you have created your account you can then filter their large database of videos to find the ones you are looking for. For example if you are a beginner learning HTML then you change your difficulty to beginner and then select from the category list HTML. On the side bar you can even find the top channels for the language you want to learn from. This helps you narrow down your search by finding the videos with the most views. allows people to sign up with their Reddit account and find the videos they are looking for. Their categories are not as extensive as Livecoding but they encourage anyone to post anything to do with live coding. The site is connected to Reddit subcategory  /r/WatchPeopleCode.

Benefits to Live Streaming Code
The benefits are huge when you think about how many people are watching your live stream or going back and seeing how you created some of your past projects. Some of the coders who stream their work say they prefer Livecoding over Twitch because they know that all the people watching on Livecoding are there to learn how to improve their coding skills, whereas, Twitch’s community is made up of mostly gamers so you get a lot of people trolling on coding streams just to get attention. This means you can create more meaningful conversations about people who really want to learn on Livecoding.

The other benefit to all the live streamed videos is that you build a library of all your work for companies to see. Right now the landscape is fairly new so making a name for yourself is easy in a new field but as more and more coders sign up the quality of the session will have to improve if they want to grab the attention of a company like Google or Facebook. This means that coders will need to have better communication skills as they are streaming their videos and answering questions. I have always said that you have no idea who is checking our your online content and you might one-day get that person who can change your life so the better quality you produce the better your chances are of getting someone’s attention for a high paying job.

Kids and teens who use a site like this to teach others how to program can put this on their college application to show how they helped people learn how to code better. Young digital natives are able to pick up on the nuances better and faster so if they can create streaming sessions for community members then they will be able to demonstrate to colleges and future employers that they have the technical and communication skills to do their job. The ability to translate and teach online is a skill that is also growing in demand because it demonstrates that you know how to set everything up, structure your sessions, and communicate clearly.

Coders who create a name for themselves on these kind of websites are in a prime position to be able to offer their services one-on-one. One of the challenges that websites like these must face is monetizing their services. One option the founders, Jamie Green and Michael Garbade, had was to let users pay for 1-on-1 sessions with their favorite streamer and for streamers to offer more advanced sessions for private groups. The founders even talked about letting streamers provide help with school homework at any level. For coders looking to make a little extra cash on the side and build a name for themselves this a great opportunity to sign up for now.

The world of watching coders code live is a new one so it will be interesting to see where these websites end up in a year from now. They could possible be the next big thing to happen for Hour of Code because as it turns out not every school that says they are for coding is actually keeping their word about it. Infact, in a survey conducted by Gallup they found that most schools don’t feel that parents and students are interested in learning to code. Infact the conflicting problem is that most schools don’t feel the need to prioritize computer science because of standardized testing.

There are also some links for other streaming services below

If you want to learn more about this new trend check out the links below

News Articles

The Strange Appeal of Watching Coders Code

Huh? Schools Think Kids Don’t Want to Learn Computer Science

The importance of Mentors when you are learning to code

Other Streaming Services



The Hoverboards of the Future

Back to the Future is responsible for showing the world how much fun Hoverboards could be. Ever since that movie came out all people have been wanting is their very own board so they can do all the things Marty McFly did minus being chased by bullies with cooler Hoverboards than the one he had. In the last few months and years there has been more talk about the technology that BTTF showed the world and if we would have it by the time of the actual date in the movie of when Marty went to the future. We have a good portion of everything in the movie except the type of cars and self-drying jackets but pretty much everything else we have nailed down.

We have door locks that we can open with our finger print, cable channels that number into the hundreds if not thousands, social media, self-tying shoes, and lots more that the movie couldn’t have predicted. It is important to understand how much movies shape our way of living. If it wasn’t for the idea of a man who invented a time machine in the 80s, what kind of future would we have today if we weren’t inspired and motivated to create those same things on screen. Minority report inspired us to create more air touch interactive devices.

Hendo came out with a version that is similar to the Hoverboard but the only problem is that you need a floor full of cooper to help keep it afloat. Last check their website wasn’t working so it will be interesting to see what exactly happens to product or if it ever makes it to market. If you want to watch their promo video just click below.

Now another contender has entered the market for Hover technology. The industry is taking off because it makes sense. If people can travel on air instead of on tar wheels then there will be less demand for oil to make tires. In another video down below you will see a hoverbike that is gaining in popularity because it is similar to the one in Star Wars, again, another example of movies inspiring the future.

The promo video for the new contender of Hoverboard makers shows promise but not enough. The race is on for Oct 21 2015, the date Marty goes to the future. The world is racing to get many of those other items made but the world just wants their flying cars and hoverboards already. Shouldn’t we at least have those by now? Well we do and it is just a matter of time before they become another great thing to add that many people will want.

In the meantime I believe this hoverbike will take off more in popularity because more people will be able to ride this then the Hoverboard. Aerofex is a contender in the hoverbike world, it works using fans to keep the person upright and moving. AeroFex has been around for awhile now but other makers are just now coming around. Watch the video below to learn more.

The latest company to enter the market used kickstarter to help raise money to get this project off the ground. The US Army is interested in working with them because these bikes can do things that regular bikes cannot. The name of the company is Malloy Aeronautics and they seem to be gaining a lot of attention recently.

The future of transportation, whether it is for fun or personal travel, will be very different than what we are used to having. The hoverbike will make it easier for people to travel over larges areas of land without hurting the ground. People will be able to move easily over land and water something a regular bike is unable to do. If these projects reach the market then more people will be able to tinker with them and improve on them. If you want to learn more about these companies click on the links throughout the article and the ones down below.

If you want to buy your own Hoverboard from the movie then you can buy one on Amazon. Just remember it doesn’t fly, yet.

News Articles

The US Army is getting hoverbikes

The US military is developing Star Wars-style hoverbikes

Facebook Malloy Hoverbike Page


This app reduces financial stress for those with uneven income

The economy is not kind to those looking for steady work. More and more people are learning the hard way that long-term jobs don’t exist anymore because the cost is too high for companies to keep people on for 20 or 30 years. It used to be that people looked forward to having a 40 year run with a company, which is a long time when you think about it. That’s a lot of time to give up for one company. The Freelance committee is growing at a very fast rate and with apps like Uber and TaskRabbit taking over and replacing people’s source of income it is not uncommon now to run into people who supplement majority of their income with these apps.

Freelance work can get hard to keep a steady flow of work because you are the only person responsible for getting and keeping work coming in. If you do not have any work then you do not have any income and that can get dangerous for anyone with monthly bills that need to get paid. The trouble with working as a freelancer is that your income fluctuates, some weeks you are working everyday and making great money and other weeks you have nothing to do. The rise and fall of your income can make it difficult to get approved for anything with a bank that requires a past history of consistent income. This is why more and more people are switching to apps that help bring in more money. Of course this can create a very unsafe résumé of consistent work that more promising employers might look down upon.

The Wonders of Apps and Technology
The beauty of the world we live in today is that anyone can create anything to help someone else. It just takes a little ingenuity and creativity to come up with something to help others improve their life. Until now if you needed a more stable income base you had to find a “regular” job that provided regular hours to work. Most white collar jobs require a higher education in order to even be considered so jobs like that are out of the picture for most people but regular blue-collar jobs are easier to come by if you are good with basic math, can handle heavy things, and available whenever the company needs you. The pay you bring in though will not be anything great but it will be consistent and reliable.

The fast food and big box retailers are notorious for curbing people’s paychecks in order to keep them off of full-time benefits. Places like Wal-Mart make it a strict practice for their managers to work their employees right up to the minimum mark before they are considered for full-time benefits in order to get the most out of them. Rather than pay for the fair wage and service the employee provides, they would just call-in another employee who needs the hours on short notice.

This whole shuffling around of employees is very disrespectful and inconsiderate of people’s time and efforts because companies like Wal-Mart only worry about their bottom line and nothing else. (Side note: Wal-Mart is one of a few companies that actually explains on their company website to employees how to apply for government benefits because they don’t want to pay them enough) If you read that correctly, Wal-Mart actually puts more stress on the government to provide more support because they don’t want to pay their employees reasonable wages.

Many of the technology startups in the Silicon Valley focus on creating products and services that people don’t necessarily need. I don’t need Uber and I don’t need Airbnb to live my life but I do need a steady stream of income, just like everyone else. Startups tend to focus on just creating products to sell to people instead of creating something of value that can actually help and fix people’s situations. That is where Jon Schlossberg and Quinten Farmer come into the picture. They wanted to create something that truly had value to offer to people who used their app. Majority of apps on people’s phones are there to provide a service of some sort but nothing like what their app provides.

Perspective Follows Purpose
Jon Schlossberg is someone who always had an eye for human behavior. He was keen on finding repeat patterns in all the things people did with their time. He would notice these growing up and wonder why people acted that way or did that. He studied psychology at Skidmore so he could work for the F.B.I. in the forensic’s department. His dream job got side tracked when he became interested in money and went to work for Bonobos as product developer. It was when he was on vacation that he read an interesting study that explained how being poor can affect a person’s mental capabilities. It was this understanding of money, poverty, and stress that got him thinking of how to fix these problems all together.

One of the hidden problems of income inequality in America is that it can swing very widely for many people, especially the low bracket of poor people whose source of income varies. One week there might be a few dollars, the next none, and the next it might be more; the problem overall is that money is not a reliable source so they must live day-to-day on what they currently have. This kind of living can put enormous stress on a person or family who must make ends meet. The Federal reserve found that a third of American’s live in a constant state of income flux. The new economy we live in has only made this issue more wide spread since long-term employment is no longer a thing.

While Jon was researching more about the issue of how to fix this problem and turn it into a business he came across a blog article by, Quinten Farmer, who talked about how to use bitcoin to reduce the cost of sending money of migrant workers to relatives back home. It was in reading this article that he discovered who his new co-founder would be. The discovery of someone else online who is looking to solve the same issue as you could only have been found by reading and looking online. Jon requested a meeting with him and the two got together to talk about what they could come up with.

Microearners Economy
The D.I.Y. economy has created a whole new class of workers who now reply on the technology of apps to piece together a living wage. These apps allow people to become, what is known as microentrepreneurs, because they are not necessarily running their own business as they are juggling their own hours to work within a mired scope of apps. There are people who are signed up on all the ridesharing apps just to cover all their bases. At the same time they are looking around Craigslist all the time for simple jobs to pick up and now that Amazon has opened their Home services program, that will put more stress on people to keep track of any jobs that pop up.

The lifestyle, as great as it may seem of working your own hours and doing only the work you want to do, has its many drawbacks. One of the biggest is that you are required to constantly check the job postings which means you might be required to leave at the most inopportune time. TaskRabbit requires that anyone interested in a job respond within 30 minutes of the posting if they are qualified for it. This behavior of constantly checking produces stress for people working in this temp-like-economy because it means that if you miss a job that could be a missed payment for one of your bills. That kind of stress can build up, especially when the whole ecosystem of freelance work is based off of personal demand. There can only be so many jobs that require someone to help clean up after a party and there can only be so many jobs that require someone coming over and assembling something you bought.

The service app economy allows many people to find work in different places but if everyone is jumping on this bandwagon then there can only be so much work available and when it comes right down to it the one with the fastest internet connection will win out every time. Microearners are the people who lose out the most because it is very hard for them to transition back into the workforce at a major company. Saying on your resume that you worked at TaskRabbit for 2 years helping with odd jobs here and there makes one seem more like a maintenance worker than that marketing degree you got from college. Companies only hire people who are current with their skills and industry trends so the new service economy is great for anyone who doesn’t want to go back but once you do leave your office job, be prepared for an uphill battle trying to get back in.

Evening Out the Stress
The challenge with taking on all these jobs is the uneven income you bring into your life. One day you might pick up three jobs and make $135 dollars and then next you might only get 1 job and your income drops down to $35 bucks and then next it might be five jobs at $175. The problem with this income fluctuation is that you have no clear idea what you will make by the end of the week, unlike a regular office job. This is what Jon and Quinten set out to fix with their app called, Even.

How Even works is by smoothing out your income and giving you a regular slice of life knowing that every friday you will have the same amount of money available to you. When you install the app, it will request access to your bank account. After you agree it will then analyze your account to determine if you qualify for the program, if you do, then you will be shown how your income will become stable based off of the number of deposits in your account to determine how much you will have available to you every friday. (I’m only using friday as an example since Even uses other metrics to determine how often to pay you.) Not everyone will be able to qualify for this service and for the millions of Americans who don’t have a bank account they will not be able to use the service. Here is an example of the service. There are some weeks you might earn more money then usual so Even will take the surplus from the difference of the average you make and put it into a buffer account. Then on bad weeks when you drop below your average earnings Even will pull from your buffer account to help spread out the difference and if there is not enough then Even will help cover the rest with an interest-free loan.

Basically this app makes sure that you have the same amount of money available to you every friday at the end of the week. The only cost to you to use the service is $3 dollars a week ($156/yr). For anyone that works in the freelance community this app is a much needed service to help smooth out the rough weeks with the good ones. Jon and Quinten have learned that when the stress of worrying about money are reduced people can focus better on improving their lives. An app like this provides more value than most other apps out there since no other app really makes this much of an effort to help people.

Challenges and Shortcomings
The concern with this app is that it is a business and all the funding they have received has been from big time VC firms. Venture Capitalist firms do not invest if they won’t get a return on their investment so how does Even plan to meet the demands, if and when, they plan to go public with this company if the only charge to use their service is a weekly $3 fee? The founders said that they don’t plan to add any advertisements into the app because that would only cause more stress if someone decided to take out a loan to help make ends meet. The whole purpose of this app is so that people do not have to do that anymore. They will have to come up with something if they plan to make their investors happy though.

Right now the app is invite only with about a thousand users testing it out this summer. It will be made available to everyone in January 2016 so make sure to mark your calendar down if you plan to add this cool app to your phone. In the meantime you can check out their website to learn more about it and share it with others you think might benefit from such a service. I have also listed a few articles below that go into more detail about the new economy of freelancing with apps if you wish to study the latest trends.

News Articles

Want a Steady Income? There’s an App for That

Even Website

In the Sharing Economy, Workers Find Both Freedom and Uncertainty

Freelancers Piece Together a Living in the Temp Economy

Google Now Offers Wireless Service

Google is racing ahead on creating new services for people because they know that as more people access the internet, they gain more information on the things around them and that spurs innovation. In order to be part of that movement they know people need access to the internet and the only way to do that is by making sure it is available where ever people go. This is why Google is creating, Project Fi, which allows Nexus 6 users to only pay for the wireless service they use at $20 dollars a month.

Intense Wi-Fi Demand
There was a meme that was going around on the internet saying the following

This simple concept right there tells you where our priorities are as humans. Aside from the fact that we don’t do enough for the environment as we should, like everyone composting at home, the demand for wi-fi has increased so much that people are looking for better options on their phone to ensure that they are always connected.

New York city has a plan in place to replace those old phone booths throughout the many cities and turn them into free wi-fi hotspots. You can read the article I wrote right here about how cities are doing this. I don’t think I have seen anyone use a phone booth in recent times, except in old movies, anymore because everyone has a phone in their hand, even kids. The idea of putting change into a phone seems rather weird now. The push for more companies to start offering wi-fi in their stores helps bring more foot traffic and business. Starbucks and McDonald’s were the first to capitalize on this trend and boy has it done wonders for them.

If you walk into any Starbucks you see more and more people planting themselves down for the day in order to do their work. Many of them might even tell you that they don’t even pay for internet anymore because it is free in so many places. Malls, theaters, stores, and even major events all now offer free wi-fi because the know it will draw more people there but also it helps bring attention online if they want to tweet or post a great moment they had online. Bottom line – want to ensure people are happy at any event you put on? Make sure there is free wi-fi.

Free National Wi-Fi Movement
Awhile back there was unexpected news that the US government was working on a plan to create a national super Wi-Fi network that would allow anyone to gain free internet access (Obama Reveals plans for national Wi-Fi plans, FCC proposes plan free wifi for everyone in the U.S.What Would Happen If America Got Free, ‘Nationwide’ WiFi? Google Wins, Carriers Lose). Anyone that uses the internet for valid and productive reasons understands how such an idea would change things dramatically for growth in technology and innovation. So who would be against such a great idea? Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Apple were all in favor of such an idea and even offered to help build the infrastructure. The wireless phone companies, on the other hand, were quick to file suit to prevent such an action of coming about. So why would they want to do this if it means helping innovation and technology grow? Easy, it would dramatically cut out their bread-and-butter of making money. You think people actually talk on their phones now-a-days? Ha!

Remember the whole point of doing business, in any form, is to make money from the products and services you provide. If you can not make money off of that, in some way, then why run a business? Don’t fool yourself about non-profits if that idea is lingering in your head right now. Creating a national free public wi-fi would kill many phone companies because they make their money off of their wireless service. There are many apps now that allow you to make calls over the internet for free instead of through voice-communication channels. We also have apps that let you txt for free, so if all you need is a wi-fi connection and the government is able to provide it then who in the world would want to be signed up with a phone carrier? The problem with that is that most phones in the US are all chipped to certain carrier’s wireless networks. If you buy a phone from Sprint then that phone usually only works on the Sprint network. There are phones that work on all networks but not as easy to find in stores but there are plenty online to buy.

If you are still wondering what happened to the government wanting to build this amazing and much-needed wi-fi network, well, they decided not to do it. It would literally cripple the wireless carriers because no one would sign up for service with them anymore. There would be no more phone bills to pay every month but remember with such a service, someone has to pay for the infrastructure and maintenance so where would that money come from? All the phone companies are the ones that maintain the networks that people use to communicate online so if they are not making money then it would be tough for there to be any reason to ensure high quality service can still be provided.

Google Provides a Bridge
Project Fi is similar to what some apps already do, they rely on the networks to piggyback off of and carry their signal where ever they go. These free apps let you chat and make free phone calls using wi-fi networks. How the service works is you make a call and it will connect to either the Sprint, T-Mobile network, or free wi-fi network, which ever has the better signal and let you txt, call, and more all for the same cost. Cellular data usage you pay for so for 1GB it costs an additional $10; 2GB, $20; and so on. For any data that you do not use you will receive a credit back on your account. The rise in free wi-fi locations shows that such a program would gain more attention because the cost for using this would be so much lower than the average cost of an individual plan, which stands at around $70 now. Infact, a user could be on a call, meanwhile the signal could be only using free wi-fi spots if there are enough in the area to support it, so the cost of that call and any data transmitted would be free. Oh and did I mention? There are no contracts involved for this service.

The downside right now is that only people with Nexus 6 phones can use the service so that prevents this program from gaining more customers. The reason for that is because Nexus 6 is Google’s phone so it makes sense to start with that but in terms of gaining more users, Google will need to expand to more phones plus you also have to get an invite in order to join the network. You can visit for the invite. This type of service is really more about pay for what you use rather than pay for everything even if you don’t use everything. Right now phone companies are paying attention because they know that if Google expands, it will cut into their margins big time.

Of course regional phone carriers have already started to look into the service of cellular to wi-fi systems which would help people save money on their phone bills while still being able to access the internet.

Google Giant
Google has laid out their plan very easily if they plan on becoming their own wireless carry. They offer one of the top OS Android platforms for phones and tablets, now they have their own internet service with Google Fiber, and you can even get your own free phone number with Google Voice, and now they just need their own wireless service and, instead of building their own they are using pre-existing ones, but who’s to say what Google Fiber is really up to.

In the meantime you can enjoy another option in the vast landscape of smartphones and service options if you are considering switching. Just remember since Google is not offering any contracts in exchange for low prices on their phones you will need to pay the total prices, unless you can pass a credit-check then you will have two years to pay off the phone, so that should tell you these phones are not cheap ($649 for a 32GB version).

Oh and I for one really think that we need a national free super wi-fi because that would increase innovation 100 fold easily.

News Articles

Say hi to Fi: A new way to say hello

Google Announces Project Fi Wireless Network Starting at $20 per Month

Google’s new Project Fi offers low-cost wireless phone service

Google is becoming a wireless carrier

Everything to know about Google’s new wireless service

Google unveils Fi, new wireless service

Google puts mobile-friendly websites at the advantage

Many websites today have still not caught up with the understanding that majority of the people who access online content do so from a mobile device. The challenge to accessing this information from your phone is that not all websites have a mobile-friendly option so that forces the user to have to pinch and squeeze their screen to find the information they are looking for. Google has decided to fix this problem by favoring the search results on someone’s page to match what they are looking for with websites that are mobile friendly if they are searching from a phone.

Starting April 21th Google is changing their search algorithm in order to favor companies that are already mobile friendly. This will help users navigate and find the information they are looking for rather than having to do all these finger gestures just to find what they need. Google is doing this because not every company understands that more people use their phones to access the web now. If they want to attract customers and make it easy for people to find them then they need to update their website so it works on smartphones.

Changing the Playing Field
The year is 2015 and many businesses still operate with the idea that all they need is a static website with three pages that never changes or gets updated. The first page welcomes people to their website of business and tells a little about what they offer and do. The second page lists their products/services and prices and the third page just has a basic contact form. There is no social media components, no blogs to read, and nothing to show people they are still operating. There are many websites out there now that have been up but the people haven’t taken them down because they forgot all about them.

Google wants to start weeding out the bad websites that don’t stay up-to-date with their websites. How they plan to do this is by taking your search results and altering the results based on your location and phone. How will this impact businesses that pay for online ads? It will impact them big time because they have gotten into a routine now where they just pay for ads to drive traffic to their page. Now when people search for a service or product, your page will not show up in the top results if your website is not fitted for mobile devices, enough though you paid for those ads. Why?

Google has determine that people with phones do not want to deal with outdated websites that are not mobile-friendly so why waste the time giving search results that don’t help the person on the phone. If you pay for ads and you have a mobile-friendly website and someone searches on their phone for your type of business then it will show up in the top search results. This will start to hurt a lot of companies who have only been relying on ads to drive traffic. This will also make a company rethink how they plan to manage and run their website. Google is not interested in showing websites that have no new information so there is no reason to list such websites in the first page hence why so many companies now rely on buying Google ads to drive customers. Google is changing all that because the majority of people access content on the internet differently now.

What to do about the change
If you are a company that is concerned about losing your ranking in the search results page then there are several things you can do to help improve your ranking organically but also with online ads.

First, you want to make sure your website has new content every week, if not everyday. Google likes to know what happens on the internet and indexes anything that changes so every time you add something to your website google looks at your page and updates their results so when someone searches online for something and it matches what your website talks about, with other people linking to your page, the link for your website goes up in ranking. Keep your site updated constantly with new information.

Second, hire someone that knows how to make your website mobile-friendly. This is very important because you need someone who can help make your website easy to navigate on a small screen. This does not mean making everything smaller, it just means that the user will need a drop down or slide out menu to access the different pages on your website. They need pages that will load faster along with easy to access information. People use websites differently on a phone than when they are sitting at home on a computer.

Third, test your website out on phones and tablets. You want to see what the experience is like to make sure it matches what your website offers. Have a few of your friends try out your website as well just to make sure it is easy to find the information they need. Take the feedback they give you and make adjustments right away.

Fourth, add social media components on your home page and make it easy for people to get to them. People on their phones are always connected to social media so making it easy to access your facebook and twitter page will be helpful so they can like and follow you. You do not want to make it hard for people to find these items. The harder you find information on a website, the less likely they are to come back or recommend to friends.

Fifth, your social media content should be updated at least weekly, including photos, videos, and news about blog posts and upcoming events. The more information you post the more people will see that your website is up-to-date and will want to work with you.

Improving Competition
This move is brilliant on Google’s part because it makes people realize that you cannot just stay with the same boring website month-to-month you need new content and information so people have a need and purpose for going back and doing business with you. A lot of people’s page rankings have dropped for that very reason this week and SEO managers for companies are scrambling to get everything updated so that Google will still favor their website.

There are a lot of startup companies that have trouble competing with companies that have the marketing budget to spend on online ads but many websites created today already come with the built-in option for mobile-friendly design. Creating a website from scratch is great if you know how to program and can add all the bells and whistles to it but for the majority of people they rely on basic website creators like Weebly and WordPress to create a simple enough website to manage their online presence. Sites like these already have an option that allows you to simply “enable” your website to be mobile. Just one-click makes all the difference in where your page ranks according to the search performed by someone looking for what you offer.

The times they are changing very quickly so whether you plan on starting a website soon or need to update your current on just remember that Google makes these changes all the time because they need to stay current with how people access information in relation to what they are looking for. Websites that haven’t been updated in five years won’t be anywhere need the first 50 pages if nothing has changed on your site.

But if you want to learn the real trick to beating Google’s new update I can tell you. You should treat your website as a landing page for people you meet in person who are interested in doing business with you. The quickest way to build a business with growing customers is to get out and meet new people and your website will help fill in answers to their questions. If you sit at home and buy online ads in the hopes that people will do business with you, then you are kidding yourself big time.

News Articles

Google To Favor ‘Mobile-Friendly’ Sites In Search

Mobilegeddon Cometh: New Google “Mobile Friendly Update” To Reward Sites Beginning April 21

‘Mobilegeddon’: Google to rank mobile-friendly sites higher in search results

Computers that fit in the palm of your hand

It was once predicted by the famous, but fictional Simpson’s character, Professor Frink “…that within 100 years, computers will be twice as powerful, 10,000 times larger, and so expensive that only the five richest kings of Europe will own them.” Of course that is not true today (thank goodness) since computers have gotten smaller but also 100 times more powerful than even predicted. Computers will become something in the future where we will start interacting with them in the air and all around us.

The power of computers has shown that they will only continue to grow more non-existent (even though they will still be there), more powerful, and can perform more actions than ever imagined. The rise of wearables has given rise to the idea that computers do not need to be bulky or heavy to carry around now that we have cloud computing to handle all the processing power but also the storage capabilities. What Professor Frink talked about was no different than the man he was misquoted from, Thomas J. Watson, had in mind when computers were coming about. There was this false understanding that in order for computers to be able to do more they needed to take up more space in order to process more information since they figured sized influenced speed, much like, the bigger the better, right? If that was true than it reasoned that only the wealthiest people would be able to afford them and if that turned out to be true than progress in computer science would have died off if only the rich could afford them.

Luckily that did not happen and computers went in the opposite direction and are getting more affordable than ten years ago. In the case of size now, we have more capabilities in the palm of our hands than was ever imagined. I can load up a usb now with hundreds, if not, thousands of apps that I can use to manage everything from. The idea of having to carry something like that around sounds cool and all but now that cloud computing is free and available to anyone with an internet connection having to carry anything around seems a little outdated, and to be frank, annoying.

The use of USB sticks will still be needed in order to keep things backed up and protected if you don’t want to store your information on a cloud server, where you have no idea who will have access to that information or what they do with it. This is why they are still popular and in use by millions, if not billions. the great thing about USB sticks (or flash drives, pen drives, or memory sticks, however people refer to them) is that the size keeps increasing allowing anyone with a creative mind to load them up with some cool things, like say an operating system. This is exactly what Google and Intel have done with their new USB sticks.

Take Your Computer Station with You Anywhere
Imagine that you walk into a public library and you sit down to use the computer there. It doesn’t have what you need to do your work so you are limited to what you will be able to accomplish. Now imagine you walk into the same place but instead of using their computer station you can just plug your USB device into the monitor and turn it into a workstation right away with everything that you need. This will change how people use and work with computers.

The idea behind this new idea is to change how information is used and how programs are made. It is no longer the case that you go to the store to buy a physical item anymore because companies have learned that they can make more money off of subscriptions to use their products than a one-time purchase deal. This is the case now with many services that people use daily like, Netflix, Office 365, Hulu, and even Amazon Prime. Unless you are someone that needs the horsepower of what a desktop is still able to provide, using Cloud-based services will be enough for you to get all your work done. Intel was the first to create their own USB stick as well.

The efficiency in this model will be that monitors and wi-fi connections will become more valuable, if the world doesn’t completely get replaced with Hololens and virtual eyewear. Imagine for a minute that you can take a portable monitor with you anywhere you go and “plug-in” your “computer” into the monitor and then use one of these virtual keyboards to do your work with. This will change how people work but also how people access the internet to find the things they need in order to get work done.

USB Chromebit Details
2GB of RAM
Rockchip’s 3288 processor
16GB of storage
2 ports: one HDMI and one USB
Bluetooth Connectivity

Intel USB Stick
Two OS Options:Linux or Windows 8.1
quad-core Atom Z3735F processo
Linux comes with 1GB Ram/16GB Storage
Windows comes with 2GB Ram/32GB Storage
HDMI port
Micro-USB port
Bluetooth connectivity

Portable Computing with Cloud-Computing
Cloud based services are taking over everywhere. It seems like every new service that comes out they offer cloud services so you do not have to worry about your stuff. The idea of having to carry anything around with you seems almost 2005. Why carry USBs with you when you can just access your Google drive or Microsoft OneDrive from any device and see your files? Now it even seem like having a USB in your hand is pointless when you think about it. Pretty soon instead of owning a physical computer, like a Mac or PC, you will just “log-in” to your Mac or PC desktop and work from any monitor.

Think about that idea for just a minute and you begin to realize how realistic it all sounds. It would be very easy for Apple, Microsoft, and Google to make that all happen. It would be like logging in to a remote desktop which would then access your account (subscription account that is) and then give you a desktop that comes with all the programs you requested. So instead of paying $500 for a decent PC computer and a couple of hundred bucks on software to load it with, you could instead pay $50 a month for the desktop service and  an additional $5 or $10 dollars for each program you want added.

Lets say you make movies and you need the latest software and there are only three major programs you need in addition to a workstation. Mac computers are great for making movies so Apple could charge $60 a month, then you need FinalCut so that is an additional $10 and then you need FinalDraft, which is another $10 dollars so in total you would pay around $90 a month (tax included) for everything you need, knowing full well that you will never lose a file or project because it is all stored on the cloud. If you are working and you suddenly lose power you won’t have to worry if you lost your work because the only thing that happened was you lost the power to the monitor but the servers that manage your workstation won’t be affected.

That would change how people work from all over the world. Internet cafes will become a booming business for travelers but even more so with virtual eyewear when you can access your cloud-based workstation from anywhere in the world. The concept of physical computer systems, like desktops and tablets, and even phones in our hands will soon start to disappear because it makes no sense to carry any of that around with us, which all have the potential of breaking if they are dropped (and boy do people love dropping them, especially in toilets).

Computers are getting smaller but their power and capabilities are getting bigger.  We have chips and even nanobots that are smaller than our fingernails now so it is only a matter of time before Hololens becomes a full blown reality and people are accessing their stuff in the air and interacting with it like they would a person.

Subscription Based Business Models
The USB sticks come from the success of how well the Chromebooks have done in the market. Many school districts have invested heavily in ordering them because they require no installing of software and everything is online. The only down side to owning a chromebook is that they do not work if there is no internet connection so that means schools have to invest more money in making sure their wi-fi systems can handle heave traffic, which is not cheap at any rate.

The computer sticks are a one time purchase price so you will be able to do what you need to with Android operating system but you will need internet access, which the USB sticks also come with, so that way they can connect to the internet. In any case you will still be able to do all that you need to online in just in more efficient way now.

Over time though as more people start to use these little devices it will make sense for Google to charge for certain things but it only makes sense that this will be the last time before switching over to a completely cloud-based workstation environment at which point companies like, Google and Microsoft, will start to impose a subscription based model of payment. The cost of printing CDs can be eliminated completely while increasing revenue because consumers won’t even need to install anything, they can just access a special website that will turn their monitor/tablet into the desktop of their dreams. If they want more ram they can pay for it, if they need more drive space they can pay for it, and so on.

This new business model of providing services to customers while dramatically reducing costs will not only appeal to companies but people will love it as well because they do not need to worry about how to set it up and anytime something goes wrong, they do not have to run a utility program to fix it because the companies will be monitoring this stuff all the time. No one has to worry about dealing with viruses anymore because it is up to the company to provide the service at no additional charge (this is because they need to keep their system virus free in order to ensure their uptime is 24/7).

Privacy Issues
The saying goes, “if something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.” The same goes for this. For anyone reading this article and saying to themselves, “but what about privacy issues if the only time you can access your computer is by paying for the service, what happens if you can’t pay anymore?” This is a very reasonable concern and why people still want to have a physical computer in their home that they can touch. This is why the whole idea of cloud-based computers will only be for people who truly embrace the future of where computers are going. People who love their privacy and don’t want to share the files they are working on with anyone will never want to use a subscription based model because not everyone has the money to do that plus they don’t want others knowing what they are doing.

The cost of buying a computer in general is hard for a lot of people so paying $700 is still high for many, so asking people to paying a monthly bill, added on top of their other bills, might be asking too much from them (regardless of whether or not people are making more money than 10 or 15 years). The other issue that will stop people in their tracks about switching over is that companies like Google have very clear wording in their Terms and Services and Privacy statements that say if you use any of their services you are giving them the right to search your stuff in order to create custom advertisements. Bottom line – you have no privacy when using Google’s services, all in the name of trying to sell you more stuff. Watch this movie to find out, Terms and Conditions May Apply.

I would love to be able to sign in and access all the programs I need but I also do enjoy my privacy when doing my work. In a world now where companies are hacked everyday for their sensitive files, it will no longer be the case that SSN numbers matter but instead that letter you wrote on your computer that explained a plan you had been thinking about for awhile but you wanted no one else to know about. That information is just as damaging as having your bank records stolen.

Now the matter becomes, when companies finally switch over to offering such a service, what guarantees do they have of protecting our personal files and not snooping? The answer currently is none and when it all comes down to providing a service, cloud-based like, it will be hard for any company to want to respect that when they know they could make money off that sensitive information but, hey, if Facebook can get away with selling people’s private information and people are ok with it then I guess it’s not such a big problem. I, for one, do think it is so for the company that does offer the service and respects people’s privacy, they will probably be the one to come out in the end.

Both USB sticks won’t be available until the summer.

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