Saturday, May 10, 2014

Missing From Malaysia: One of The Greatest Mysteries of Our Century

Eight weeks later, and missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 has yet to be found. Carrying 227 passengers and 12 Malaysian Crew members, the aircraft lost communication with air traffic control on March 8, 2014 and has since been the source of numerous speculations.

On March 24, the British Air Accidents Investigation Branch and Inmarsat, two independent sources, recommended “beyond any reasonable doubt” that the aircraft had fallen in Indian Ocean with no survivors. However, neither flight debris nor a crash site has been confirmed. The most widely accepted theory states that the aircraft went down in the Southern Indian Ocean. However, foul play is not completely out of the picture. Two of the passengers on Flight 370 used stolen or lost passports when immigration officials failed to stop the passengers from using stolen European passports. The head of Interpol believed “that it was not a terrorist incident” and there is evidence that the passengers using stolen passports were seeking asylum.

In the seven weeks since the disappearance of Flight 370, the international community has worked together to search for any signs of survivors or a crash site. From deployment of international naval vessels and aircrafts, the search area has expanded from approximately 40 kilometers in radius to spanning over 217,000 square kilometers. From the use of satellite imagery to SONAR technology, the search has been extensive and exhaustive. On the morning of April 6, several ping signals were picked up by the Ocean Shield, a ship in the Royal Australian Navy consistent with the aircraft’s Black Box transmissions. Unfortunately, as of April 14 the black box transmitters are likely to have died down and using Towed Pinger Locators has been replaced by the deployment of Autonomous Underwater Vehicles.

Everyday, more and more information is released regarding the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Recently, the Malaysian prime minister confirmed reports that the aircraft was tracked by military radar even as it lost contact with civilian air traffic controllers. As this information is released, hopefully the mystery of Flight 370 can finally be put to rest.

Monday, April 21, 2014

'Heartbleed' checkup with votetrends

On April 7, 2014, the Heartbleed vulnerability was revealed to the world community. Discovered by Codenomicon employeed Rku, Antti and Matti and Google employee Neel Mehta, the bug enabled hackers to potentially retrieve sensitive user data entered into websites, emails and mobile applications. The Heartbleed bug involves a memory handling error in OpenSSL encryption. OpenSSL is a widely used Internet protocol which enables web and mobile users to securely transmit data and information through “secure sockets layer”.

As ubiquitous as this vulnerability is, luckily there have only been several instances of data theft. For example, the Canada Revenue Agency reported loss of 900 taxpayer social insurance numbers and the parenting site Mumsnet had several user accounts stolen. Other big companies such as Instagram, Facebook and Google have been affected by the Heartbleed vulnerability. Many of these companies have already released patches that protect its users against this vulnerability.

Heartbleed: The latest cyberattack to hit the global network
To protect yourself, we here at votetrends advise you to change your passwords once the website has announced a fix. We advise you to keep your bank account and email passwords different from the ones you use to access social media websites. Over the next 2-3 weeks, it is important to monitor your sensitive accounts. Lastly, if offered you should choose options that enable you, the user, to have multiple layers of security such as double verification.

Here at votetrends, we value everyone’s right to privacy. We can proudly claim that Heartbleed has not affected our users. 

We are more concerned about you: Have you been affected by Heartbleed? While we aren't certain to what extent the damage has been done, we can be certain of knowing that this will not be the last attempt by hackers to access sensitive personal data at a global level. The best way to protect yourself is by remaining vigilant and keeping your personal information... personal.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Crowdfunding 2.0: Successfully Funding Within An Ever-Changing Social Environment

One of the biggest challenges startups face is securing finances. Traditionally, growing companies look to venture capitalists or angel investors for the necessary seed money to expand their production capacities. Crowdfunding is a recent financing trend which enables companies and individuals to raise capital through “the crowd” – a large pool of ordinary backers – usually made available through an online platform.

Some examples of the more popular crowd-funding webpages include IndieGoGo and Kickstarter. Typically, firms looking for funding will offer discounted products or services in exchange for funding. For example, Pebble Watch, a smartwatch developed by PebbleTechnology, offered backers spending $115 or more a Pebble when they became available. After a single month of crowd-funding, Pebble was able to secure over $10 million of funding from approximately 69,000 backers.

Is there room for Crowdfunding 2.0: A new way fund within a socially secure ecosystem
Crowdfunding has been a huge success among the new-gen of socially conscious individuals who want to make a difference from the ground-up. One of the issues behind crowd-funding campaigns, however, is the lack of interaction between the drivers and their backers. People’s sentiments change over time as they are exposed to new information, products and regulations; it is very important for the campaign drivers to acknowledge these changes as they occur in real-time, in order to retain their backers and garner more support. This lack of communication causes all sorts of inefficiencies. New investors are susceptible to fraud after being duped by high-quality but ultimately false crowd-funding campaigns. For example, in a survey of 1,500 investors, the Ontario Securities Commission in Canada discovered that a majority of individuals wanted nothing to do with crowd-funding due to high-risk. This means that there is an inherent barrier towards accessing a larger pool of potential backers that can make the difference between the success and failure of a crowdfunding campaign. But who is to blame: the backers or the drivers? Neither. There is an apparent need for a go-between that can bridge the gap and bring forth a new potential.

votetrends, an online polling and social engagement platform built to record and visualize anonymous changes in individual sentiments on a variety of social causes, can partner with crowdfunding platforms to address this very problem - so as to provide a secure and convenient way to successfully crowd-fund in a new era of social consciousness.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

WWi: The NSA, Edward Snowden and the Global War on Privacy

Edward Snowden has recently released further documents revealing United States monitoring activities on Huawei, a Chinese telecommunications company. Allegedly, the United States National Security Agency was looking for ties between Huawei executives and the Chinese government and military. 
Huawei has been caught in the latest NSA scandal involving Edward Snowden
Ever since his first contact with Glenn Greenwald of the Guardian in late 2012 and the subsequent release of sensitive documents, Snowden has become a champion of freedom of speech. He has been voted as the Guardian’s 2013 person of the year, Rector of the University of Glasgow and the Sam Adams Award among countless other nominations and recognitions. Snowden’s revelations have drawn significant attention to the extent of government intra-national and international spying. The big consequence of the so-called Snowden effect, as printed by the Economist, will be increased vigilance as both companies and countries erect borders in cyberspace.

Is Edward Snowden a Hero or a Traitor on Global Information Security?
But not everyone has been made better off. Revelations of NSA spying have affected companies and governments all over the world. For example, Microsoft has lost billions of dollars in revenue as customers, such as the Brazilian government, refuse to renew contracts. IBM is spending an excess of a billion dollars erecting overseas data centers to reassure foreign clients. Foreign technology companies are enjoying high sales as customers around the world shun United States providers in fear of the prying eyes of the United States Government. Furthermore, Snowden’s documents have brought light to European and Asian government spying as well. It is clear that government monitoring is clearly a global phenomenon and not one unique of the United States. Furthermore, it is important to recognize that government spying does provide some positive externalities to society – subjects such as “bomb assembly” and “child pornography” should be monitored.

Here at votetrends, we champion an individual’s right to privacy. Our polls are 100% anonymous because we value the power of anonymity.

So what do you think?

Is Edward Snowden a Hero or a Traitor?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Anti-protest Laws: Friend or Foe?

Protests are expressions of objection and frustration to particular events, situations or policies. Beginning with the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi in December 2010, the world has since witnessed protests and rallies all over the world in the name of freedom, democracy and equality. 

Recently, thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets in Australia to protest a wide range of Abbott Government policies. One policy in particular, Victoria’s move-on laws, bans demonstrators from protesting in certain public areas. According to the government, this new law could prevent anti-abortion protests from gathering outside abortion clinics. Protestors, on the other hand, suspect the law could be misinterpreted to prevent protesting of other contentious issues such as industrial disputes and anti-East West Link demonstrators.

Here at votetrends, we record anonymous trends in opinions.

What do you believe? Click the link below and cast your vote. It's free and your response will be kept private.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

A Second Holiday Season for Some of Our Polls

One of the coolest features about votetrends is the ability to see how users' opinions change over time. Some of our online polls have been open to voting for over a year, so we're having fun seeing which polls have big shifts. With the holiday season approaching, it's the perfect time to re-vote on our Thanksgiving and Christmas polls. And, of course, it's a great time to for our users to add some more!

Do you think you'll go to the mall the day after Thanksgiving (aka Black Friday)?

Christmas is usually a very expensive time of year for consumers. Have you started setting aside money for Christmas gifts yet?

How much do you expect to spend on Christmas gifts this year?

Have you finished your Christmas shopping?

Friday, November 15, 2013

What Might the Future Hold for Elizabeth Warren?

From our headquarters in Boston, we at votetrends are accustomed to hearing news about Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. But lately, Warren's no-holds-barred critique of "too big to fail" banks and the de-regulation of the financial industry are making a splash across the country. She is one of a handful of politicians with YouTube hits well into the millions. Across the web, pundits hotly debate whether or not she will run for Democratic Presidential nominee in 2016, especially because Hilary Clinton still seems to be the party's frontrunner.

Now that so many people across the US know about Senator Warren and her ideological stances, we think it's an ideal time to post a few polls about her and the upcoming 2016 Presidential race. We are very curious to see how our users' opinions about Warren shift over time, as 2016 is just over the horizon...

Do you want Elizabeth Warren to run for President in 2016?

Who do you think is more likely to be the Democratic nominee for President in 2016: Hilary Clinton or Elizabeth Warren?

Friday, September 27, 2013

Flu shot?

In November 2012, one of our users created the poll: "Will you get a flu shot this year?" Now that we are approaching cold and flu season once again, we are curious to see how people's answers will change. 

According to Dr. William Schaffner, past President of the National Foundation of Infectious Diseases, "the vaccine that works is the vaccine that's delivered." Last year, about 38% of votetrends respondents seemed to agree with Dr. Schaffner, either by getting a flu shot (38%) or planning to (18%). Will these numbers grow in 2013, shrink, or stay the same?