Tag Archives: zdnet.com

Clicks, bricks and Internet sales tax

We live in a world of change.  Always have, always will.  It’s just that the pace of change is accelerating, and that’s a challenge for everybody to keep up.  Just about everyone – no, everyone – is affected. Look at what e-mail has done to the U.S. Postal Service.  Internet commerce has become a huge driver of change, so much so that the latest discussion in that regard is about how bricks and mortar stores will be affected.

A good discussion of that topic can be found at a ZD Net debate article headlined “Yes, clicks rule vs No, bricks live.” In it, one writer says that, “anywhere between ten and fifteen years from now, the makeup of what we call ‘brick and mortar’ today will be largely a cultural anachronism.”  The opposing viewpoint is expressed as, “Changing business models are hurting some retailers, while others are thriving.”

One of the issues for state and local governments is the loss of sales tax revenues.  That issue is now getting serious attention at the federal level.  Even Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, who has advocated no new taxes, recently said in a letter, according to a Clarion-Ledger article, that, “Today, e-commerce has grown, and there is simply no longer a compelling reason for government to continue giving online retailers special treatment over small businesses who reside on the Main Streets across Mississippi and the country,” Barbour wrote. “The time to level the playing field is now, as there are no effective barriers to complying with the states’ sales tax laws.” 

And the change goes on.

Does Facebook have your cell phone number – and those of your friends?

I’m beginning to get a little put out with Facebook.  It seems that every so often I learn a little more about information that they collect that I thought was private, even though Facebook tells me that I have control over what I share.  I wonder if some of my friends on Facebook, some of whom are very well-known people who don’t want things like their cellphone number shared with all of their friends (even me), are aware that I have their phone numbers.  Elected officials especially should beware. More about that below.

This came to my attention in a blog post by Emil Protalinkski on zdnet.com.  It’s entitled How Facebook got your phone number (and how to take it back).  Here’s a part of the blog post:

So if Facebook didn’t take your number by force, when did you give it to the social network? You could have put it in manually (Edit My Profile => Contact Information => Phones). If this is the way you added it, then this is also the way you should remove it. If you’d rather keep your phone number on Facebook, you can instead restrict who sees it (Account => Privacy Preferences => Customize settings => Contact Information => Your number). You have the following options to choose from: Everyone, Friends of Friends and Networks, Friends and Networks, Friends of Friends, Friends Only (this is what I have mine set to), and Customize (which lets you drill down to specific people).

The other possibility is that you have installed the Facebook Mobile app on your smartphone at some point. After doing so, there was an option to sync your phone contacts with Facebook. This allows you to call Facebook friends without knowing their number as well as seeing their Facebook profile picture when you call them or they call you. This is possible because Facebook compares the number you have for your friend Joe Smith with the number Joe Smith has on Facebook.

I checked this out by going to my Account tab and then clicking on “edit friends.” When I then clicked on “Contacts” I was presented with a list of my contacts AND THEIR MOBILE TELEPHONE NUMBERS.  Or at least the mobile telephone numbers of those who apparently have the Facebook app on their smartphones.  To some people this may not be a big deal.  But being in the business that I am in I have a lot of friends who are elected officials, and I’ll bet they did not know that they were giving me their mobile numbers when they added me as a friend – especially the members of Congress.

Speaking of Congress, this is the kind of stuff that Congress needs to be aware of as they research and evaluate the pros and cons of what is shared on the Internet.  And yes I know that I gave Facebook permission (legally, but unknowingly) to publicize my mobile number to my friends.  What I did not know was that I would have to drill down through several layers to be aware that I gave that permission. What Congress should know now is that Facebook itself also has those mobile numbers now.

Gotta go now.  I need to update my iPhone, and to accept the update I have to agree to 68 pages of conditions.

The most popular password…

… is “123456,” based on the analysis of 32 million breached passwords, obtained from last month’s RockYou.com server breach, from which researchers from Imperva were able to analyze the insecure practices used by millions of users when choosing their passwords.  That’s from an article by Dancho Danchev posted on zdnet.com.  Well worth reading.

The future of small town newspapers

I love newspapers.  I awaken each morning to two of them in my driveway.  I also love the Internet.  And what I really enjoy is being able to read newspapers from all of the world on my computer.  Consequently, I follow the subject of the future of newspapers – make that print newspapers – with special interest.

I am particularly interested in the future of small town newspapers.  I believe that newspapers are especially important to small towns because they can set and or reflect the character and personality of a small town.  So what is the future of print newspapers in small towns?  A comment on the subject made by Sam Diaz, a ZDNet.com blogger caught my attention.  It reads, “It’s an industry-wide dying business model that really doesn’t have much of a future left, thanks largely to the slow reaction of many newspaper executives out there who repeatedly snubbed the idea of news on the Internet.”

I think Sam may be onto something.  Print newspapers, especially those in small towns, must get more Internet savvy.  But that’s not their biggest problem.  Their dilemma is how to make money selling information on the Internet.  Advertisers apparently do not see the Internet newspaper as such a great primary source of business as they did the print newspaper.  So where do small town print newspapers go from here?  Let’s hope that it is not like the The Newton Record, a small town newspaper that just closed its doors after 107 years.