Tech Today: the PayPal iPhone app and a new way of doing business.

Are traditional wallets on the way out now that Paypal and other electronic online financial services provide the equivalent of the e-wallet?

Editor’s Note: Matthew Chapman of Avalon Park is an iPhone/iPad developer and owner of Origin Technologies. In the first of a series of articles about technology trends, Matt has some thoughts to share about the new Paypal iPhone app.

So I am sure that most, if not all of you, have heard and likely used PayPal. Some of you may have started using the “bump pay” feature available in the newest version of the PayPal iPhone app. Companies are finding increasingly ways to use not only a digital method for receiving payment, but a mobile one as well. Let’s look at some of the trends.

I already mentioned PayPal, and while they were one of the first companies to join this revolution of being able to send money to your friends or pay for things on eBay, they are most certainly not the last. A company called Square (www.squareup.com) is bringing a whole new way for businesses and individuals to accept payments.
The company provides a free account and links to your bank account for daily direct deposits of monies received. The pricing for this service, which accepts credit cards, is a flat 2.75 percent per swipe. What makes the service even more interesting is that when you signup they send you a little card reader for your iPhone/iPad that plugs into your headphone jack.
The app that comes with the service also allows you to customize your available services if you use it to process business transactions. Some business owners use it as the credit card processor instead of one from a bank-based merchant device. Some banks charge different processing fees based on how many transactions or worse yet, charge the merchant more if the total price is less than $30. Square charges just the flat fee per swipe.
What else makes this service so cool? Well, you don’t have to be a company to take advantage of it. A few weeks back, some of the biggest neighborhoods in East Orlando were having their spring garage sales. If you wanted to allow your garage sale, Craigslist, or other classified customer to pay for your expensive item via credit card, you could have used Square rather than letting that sale go due to lack of cash. Several companies have come forward to embrace the swipe-to-pay as a mobile iPhone app tie in. I think that Square is well ahead of the curve on this one.
So what’s next? NFC (Near Field Communications) is a technology that allows a chip to transmit or receive information from a distance of about four inches. So far, this technology is already in a new Android phone and is rumored to be in a future iPhone. The technology has been used in Japan for years in things like vending machines. Vending machines there allow a credit card with the chip to just be waved in front of the machine to pay.
I think Apple, if they do this, will tie the chip to your iTunes account-registered card and allow users to wave the phone at a payment system and voila, paid. I can see driving thru McDonalds one day with nothing more than your phone. Touch the screen for what you want, wave your phone at the screen, get your “thanks pull around” prompt and drive around to enjoy your fries.
For questions or suggestions, contact me at Matt at matt@origintech.net.

Contact us at FreelineOrlando@Gmail.com.

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A nation unwilling to exercise or eat right? Or can the trend be reversed?

All too often, chiropractor Darren Hollander says, patients don't want to make the lifestyles choices necessary to improve their health -- including healthy eating and exercising.

ORLANDO – As a chiropractor, Dr. Darren Hollander meets these kinds of patients all the time: the ones who struggle with their weight and the multitude of health problems that come with it, but insist that combating their obesity is simply too difficult.
“It gets very frustrating,” Hollander said. “They definitely make excuses – and they believe their excuses.”
The top two excuses: time and money, or the lack of both.
“They tell me they can’t shop at the grocery store because it’s too expensive, so they can only eat fast food,” he said. Either that, or their schedule is too hectic to allocate time for the gym or for cooking a nice healthy meal, so a quick run to the fast food drive through is much easier.
Often they come to Hollander’s Orlando office wanting to know: isn’t there a pill or other form of medication they can take that makes it all go away?
If only it were that easy, Hollander added.
“Everyone wants a quick fix, and they want chiropractic to be a quick fix,” he said. “The truth is, most of the time it takes much longer.”
Hollander isn’t alone in being concerned about the lifestyle choices a growing number of Americans are adopting. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics just issued a report about the declining number of Americans who exercise, and who prefer a decidedly more sluggish way of spending their leisure time. Looking at activity levels in each U.S. county between 2004 and 2008, the CDC found that southerners were the least likely to exercise, with Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Tennessee topping the list. Physically active people, the report noted, tend to live on the West Coast or the Northeast.
The CDC report was designed to raise the alarm, since the agency’s annual report on the nation’s health suggests that counties with the highest levels of physical inactivity also have the highest rates of obesity and diabetes.
Hollander said there could be a lot of reasons why people don’t exercise.
“There’s a strong emotional component to why some people exercise and some don’t,” he said. “Some people are able to live healthy lifestyles and embrace them, and some people fight them. I’ve encountered that a lot with my patients.”
But he added there’s a good reason why people in the South tend to be overweight: the widespread availability and popularity of fried foods, not to mention fast food restaurants.
The Daily Beast just reported that Orlando ranked No. 1 among the nation’s “Fast Food Capitals,” with 463 fast food restaurants, which comes out to 196 fast food establishments for every 100,000 residents here.
“In the South you have soul foods,” Hollander said. “What you’re fixing your kids is fried foods which have trans fats, which are detrimental to your health. It promotes diabetes, it promotes heart disease – it’s a health-destroying food.”
But conditions like obesity and diabetes are not hereditary, he added.
“Really, it’s a lifestyle disease,” Hollander said. “It’s never too late. Type 2 diabetes is a reversible disease. This is not a genetic disease. You are not doomed to have Type 2 diabetes. You have more control over this than you think.”
That’s a question that Peg Dunmire worries about: whether the increasing levels of physical inactivity and obesity have become social trends that can’t be reversed.
“The obesity problem is not that we don’t have enough food,” Dunmire said. “Psychologically, when you eat, it is not just about the food you put in your mouth, it is about social aspects and community aspects as well.”
The lack of exercise and bulging waistlines, she said, are “a symptom that American is breaking down as a society.”
Dunmire understands health care. She studied hospital administration at the University of Pittsburgh, then spent 25 years as a medical technologist and chief information officer. Dunmire is also the chairman of the Florida Tea Party and the host of The Lady Liberty Hour radio program, and she devotes every Thursday to talking about healthy eating.
“You can eat healthy and you don’t have to spend a lot of money on it,” Dunmire said. “But it does often take a little work. And we have moved into a society where, mistakenly, people think it is easier to go out to eat, and it’s not true.”
Dunmire agreed that a shrinking number of Americans fully understand the importance of exercise and healthy eating.
“You have to exercise a half hour a day, or you will have medical problems,” she said.
And a healthy, nutritious diet isn’t complicated, either, she added.
“It is really easy and simple if you stick with healthy foods,” Dunmire said.
Dunmire said she’s disappointed that public schools have dropped home economics course that, she felt, taught some basic but helpful cooking skills that pay off in the long run for students.
“Today people honestly do not know how to buy and cook healthy,” she said. “I looked back and I asked myself, ‘How did I learn to eat healthy,’ and I remembered that I had home ec classes for several years. I learned what is good food and how to cook. I know how to read a recipe and I have the right equipment to make a healthy meal. It is almost a lost art today – and it’s killing us.”
She also laments the fact that in our busy lives, families today don’t always have the time to eat dinner together – another tradition that helped lead to healthier eating, Dunmire said,
“Today it’s all eating on the run,” Dunmire said. “One thing I insist on when my family is here is we all sit down and have a meal together.”
Still, as Hollander noted, changing your diet and looking for ways to bring some exercise into your daily routine can start reversing the health problems that overweight people face.
“No one is going to change their entire health status overnight,” he said. “It has to be something they do over time.”
To learn more about healthy eating, log on to Hollander’s Web site at OrlandoFamilyChiropractic.com.

Contact us at FreelineOrlando@gmail.com.

Freelining with Mike Freeman: The Reagan Legacy

More than two decades after he left office, the public is still debating Ronald Reagan's legacy.

Nearly 23 years after he left office, and in the year when he would have turned 100, what exactly is Ronald Reagan’s legacy today?
President Obama praises him – so much so that Time magazine called it a “Bromance” between the conservative president elected in 1980 and the liberal president elected in 2008.
Conservatives tend to scoff at the praise and suspect the real message is: great delivery, bad policies. Perhaps. There isn’t a lot of handy comparisons to be made between Obama’s agenda and Reagan’s, although it’s noteworthy that both candidates won big and then got into office at a time when the economy was taking a nosedive; Reagan recovered by 1984 and won one of the biggest landslides in our nation’s history, taking 49 states and 59 percent of the vote. The Obama administration is clearly hoping that the economy shifts fast enough to boost the president’s re-election chances, although today’s jobs report – that the nation grew a paltry 36,000 jobs in January – won’t help.
More interesting, I think, is Reagan’s legacy on the field of political analysis. His eight years in office created a series of theories that are popular today among political analysts – what I like to call “Brilliant Conventional Wisdom.” It’s not really that brilliant, and in some ways is pretty lazy thinking, and hardly, I think, amounts to wisdom. And boy is it conventional.
It also ran into serious problems in 2008, and could again in 2012. But first, let’s take a look at the definition of Brilliant Conventional Wisdom.
It started, I would say, not with Reagan’s stunning victory in 1980 over President Jimmy Carter, when the former Hollywood actor turned California governor carried 44 states in a mandate that few political observers had anticipated. Reagan’s 1984 re-election was even more sweeping, and confirmed the high hopes of conservatives – and dark fears of liberals – that our nation had moved closer to the idea that individual initiative, rather than activist government, was the way to go. Imagine a president who actually questioned whether government programs were even needed?
Still, he was such a great speaker, critics pointed out. What is they liked the guy but didn’t really believe in the message?
Then came the 1988 election. The former governor of Massachusetts, Michael Dukakis, won the Democratic party nomination and started the fall campaign with a 17 point lead over Reagan’s vice president, George H.W. Bush. In the end, though, it was Bush who won, carrying 40 states.
That was the start, from my estimation, of Brilliant Conventional Wisdom, which states: “Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980 ushered in an era of staunch conservatism that hasn’t yet abated.” So in other words, as the conservative party, Republicans had become the natural majority party. They appeared to have a lock on a majority of votes in the electoral college. Competitive elections, it would appear, are over.
I sometimes suspect the political analysts were trying to compensate for their failure to predict the strong Reagan or Bush victories. Few of them, as I recall, pointed out deeper wisdom such as: Carter’s presidency was viewed as a disaster by so many and his approval ratings were lower than today’s mortgage interest rates .. or that Dukakis was a bumbling candidate who managed to get himself videotaped riding in a tank … or that Walter Mondale (Reagan’s 1984 opponent) was the man who got up at his convention and promised he’d raise taxes …
I’ve always said, with opponents like this …
And I was a skeptic, even then, of the notion that Republicans had figured out how to lock up elections. Even when the economy hit the skids in the early 1990s and Bush flip flopped on his pledge not to raise taxes, all too many political commentators viewed him as a safe bet for re-election in 1992. That was certainly the case when Bush was challenged by Bill Clinton, the governor of a small state (Arkansas) bogged by controversies (I didn’t inhale, Slick Willie, Draft dodging, etc.) Who worries about tanking economies when you’ve got such weak opposition?
The fact that Clinton carried 32 states and Bush, an incumbent president, managed to get just 38 percent of the national vote – about the same as poor George McGovern in 1972 – left a lot of those Brilliant Conventional Wisdom folks scratching their heads again. How did Clinton win if the Republicans were the natural majority party and the GOP had a lock on the electoral college?
So that led to Brilliant Conventional Wisdom #2, which states: “Democrats don’t win elections. But occasionally Republicans can lose one.” In other words, Clinton didn’t win because Americans embraced a leftie agenda. No, they were punishing Bush for not steering the economy down the right path, for raising taxes, for not being loyal to his conservative base, etc. Clinton’s was an accidental presidency, they said – a theory that seemed confirmed when Republicans took back the House and Senate in the 1994 midterm elections. At that point, Brilliant Conventional Wisdom seemed confirmed: we were back to square one, a safely conservative, pro-Republican nation, and Clinton would be toast in 1996, particularly if the GOP ran a swifty like, say, Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole as his challenger.
Well, as it turns out, the party did … and Clinton won, easily. So that reaffirmed Brilliant Conventional Wisdom #2: Clinton didn’t win, it’s just that Dole lost. Ever notice that when Republicans lose, it’s because they ran awful campaigns, but when Democrats lose … it was a stunning ideological victory?
I’ve never been a big believer in Brilliant Conventional Wisdom, in part because I don’t think a two-party nation will ever see one party become truly dominant, and also because I don’t see us as being, to use a really worn out phrase, a “Right of Center nation.”
For one thing, post-Reagan, ideological lines have been hopelessly blurred. George H.W. Bush raised taxes. Bill Clinton signed welfare reform and NAFTA. George W. Bush gave us the Prescription Drug Benefit and TARP. Obama just signed an extension of the Bush tax cuts. Which is the liberal and which the conservative?
I also get skeptical when the “Right of Center nation” gang points to polls showing that 40 percent of Americans define themselves as conservative, and just 20 percent as liberals. The 20 percent I believe; pure liberalism – the belief that the government can cure such sweeping social problems as poverty – hasn’t been in vogue since Lyndon Johnson was signing the Great Society bills into law back in 1965.
But liberals are easy to define. They like government, think it does good things, and want more of it, particularly for the poorest among us.
Conservatism, on the other hand, is much harder to define – and is a real mixed bag. I know libertarian conservatives who really dislike most government, and don’t want it to do much of anything.
I know business conservatives who mostly dislike government, too, but don’t much mind when government can do nice things for the business community.
I know social conservatives who really, really like government. Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, is a classic example. Government is good for banning abortion, for example, but not so bad for providing health care for the poor – something he supported when he signed into law a tax hike to pay for it. Conservative doesn’t always mean anti-government.
I know conservatives who are Pro-Choice, others who are pro-gay marriage. I know conservatives who love Social Security and wouldn’t think of scaling back those annual cost of living increases. I know conservatives who want to regulate business, who want to give state and federal money to religious organizations, who want to spend more on defense. Ron Paul has yet to take over the GOP.
With such a wide range of opinions, no wonder so many people consider themselves “conservative”: the very ideology is kind of like play dough; you can roll it and stretch it and make it into whatever you want.
Liberalism, as I said, is easy to define. Conservatism is like soda: you get lots of varieties to pick from.
With that in mind, I don’t consider us a conservative or right of center nation – or even an ideological one. I’m guessing true, genuine, limited government conservatives amount to the same 20 percent as liberals do, with the remaining 60 percent of us – myself included – floating hopelessly in the mushy middle, attracted to this issue, turned off by that one, repelled by another. I call it the anti-ideology; when you get a litmus test group, chances are there’s a few of their tests you flunk, so you move on.
Those centrists, I’d say, are more pragmatic than ideological: they want to know what works. They want to see results. That’s why so many of them turned away from the GOP in 2008, when some commentators thought a candidate as liberal as Obama never had a chance. He did.
And that’s why the voters turned away from Obama and the Democrats when they abandoned job creation for health care reform. They didn’t deliver. So they lost.
Where are we headed in 2012? I suspect that those masses of centrist, non-ideological voters will still be looking for results, for good solutions, for examples of policies that work. Whether it’s Obama calling for investments in education or high speed rail to spur the economy, or Republicans calling for deep cuts in our national debt, time will tell.
But again, Brilliant Conventional Wisdom needs to be retired. We’re not a deeply conservative nation, particularly when you consider how much big government we not only tolerate, but sometimes demand.
Reagan didn’t usher in a new era of conservatism; we’re still too pragmatic a nation for that.
Instead, he gave people something that government had been failing to do for a long time: feel a sense of hope. Of encouragement. That his “Morning in America” was the real thing, not a political sales pitch.
When was the last time you felt that way when a politician was telling you to be upbeat?
Probably 1988.

Contact Mike Freeman at FreelineOrlando@Gmail.com.

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