Archive for the ‘Technology Related Articles’ Category

Amazon is looking at establishing a second headquarters in North America

Monday, October 9th, 2017

The case for Canada

other

Amazon has made the unprecedented move to announce its intention to build a second headquarters in North America.  More than 100 cities are lining up for the chance to attract Amazon, and the potential 50,000 jobs and over $5 billion in investment that comes with it.  To be eligible, a city must have a population of more than one million, and be able to offer development sites within 30 miles of the city that are served by mass transit.

A key question that comes up is whether or not Amazon would locate outside of the United States.  Certainly, its growth needs are significant and a large proportion of its staff are technology workers.  As of September 19, 46% of the 16,719 jobs posted on Amazon’s global job board are in technology .  These jobs tend to be more challenging to fill and many technology firms recruit from a worldwide pool of candidates.  For this reason, Canada may offer a more appealing growth market due to a potentially more accommodating immigration regime at present.

As well, Canada offers many key benefits to employees in terms of quality of life and attitudes that may mirror Amazon’s corporate philosophy.  Furthermore, Amazon already has significant operations in Canada and is already familiar with the country from an operational perspective.

Canada can offer six cities that meet the minimum population count dictating candidacy for the HQ2 development.  These are Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa, in descending order of size.

Factors that may be of importance to long-term employee retention and satisfaction are related to quality of life and cost of living.  All the contender cities in Canada rank well above Seattle in terms of quality of life, with Vancouver holding down the top spot with a 5th place global ranking according to Mercer.  In the same survey, Seattle ranked 45th.  The Economist’s cost of living rankings show Toronto and Montreal to be less costly than Seattle, but that Vancouver is more costly, giving Amazon employees less bang for their buck.  

All Canadian cities boast at least one significant research university and a strong high-tech environment, and all can accommodate the growth in jobs anticipated from Amazon, particularly since this growth will be metered out over time.

From a campus location perspective, each city can offer distinct alternatives, some with a number of different choices.  The question really is, “Will Amazon look past sovereign issues and tax breaks to find an alternative where they can grow long-term employees, taking into consideration the many less tangible benefits that a Canadian location can bring?” If Amazon is looking to a new location because it has outgrown Seattle, then Vancouver is an easy move north, with the same time zone and a quick flight or drive city to city.  If the desire is to find a different place where new ideas challenging conventional standards will germinate, then the other cities in Canada can offer an environment where such ideas may develop.

Copyright © 2017 Colliers International Canada

Turo drives Airbnb for your car into British Columbia

Wednesday, October 4th, 2017

Company tailored a framework specific to the province?s own insurance system

ANDREW McCREDIE
The Vancouver Sun

The simplest way to describe peer-to-peer car sharing company Turo is Airbnb for your car. Just like with your condo or house, the concept is connecting a private vehicle owner with a customer — in Turo-speak, a traveller — using the company’s website or app.

For a price set by the vehicle owner, the traveller rents the vehicle for a pre-determined amount of time.

Founded in San Francisco — where else? — Turo operates in all U.S. states except New York, and in 2016 rolled into three Canadian provinces — Alberta, Ontario and Quebec. There are about 220,000 Canadian Turo members.

In those three provinces, Turo created an insurance model using third-party insurers, allowing private owners a simple solution to renting their vehicle out with coverage. But B.C.’s public insurance system proved problematic, so it took the company a little longer to launch here.

“Seven per cent of our (Canadian) members are residents of B.C., so people here do know the Turo brand, and for the past year and a half they have been asking us when are we coming to B.C.,” said Cedric Mathieu, Turo’s director for Canada.

“We want to make sure that everyone feels safe, and work within the province’s regulatory framework. That’s why we’ve decided to partner with (vehicle owners) who are able to provide their own insurance that covers commercial rental use, so that they can protect the travellers on the road and the cars on the road.”

According to ICBC’s Lindsay Olsen, that is the only way private owners can have coverage renting their vehicles out through Turo.

“If the vehicle is being rented out, it would need to be rated for U-drive (rental use) and this would command a higher premium than other uses such as pleasure, to (and) from work or business use,” she said, adding that the premium would take into account such factors as the territory the vehicle is rated for, the year, make and model of vehicle, and the coverage the owner carries on the policy.

So, in what Mathieu describes as the car-sharing company’s first step into B.C.’s regulatory waters, Turo acts merely as a platform that connects what in essence are small rental car companies — the company refers to them as car rental entrepreneurs — with individuals.

He reports such entrepreneurs are already signed up to rent out vehicles in B.C., including a Victoria-based hotel.

“That’s a first anywhere in the world for Turo, having a hotel participate on the platform,” he said.

“This is a hotel company that saw an opportunity, bought a few cars, got the right insurance coverage and are making the cars available — an interesting model.”

A quick scan of the Turo website Tuesday for vehicles available in Vancouver turned up plenty, ranging from a 2016 Mercedes-Benz CLA ($170 per day) to a 2015 Fiat 500L ($98) and a 2017 Mazda 3 ($42).

So what are Turo’s expectations in B.C.?

“We think B.C. is a very exciting market,” Mathieu said. “It’s one of the top travel destinations in Canada, if not the world. There’s a great outdoor culture, which resonates with us as Turo is about adventure and putting fun back into the car rental business.”

In addition, he cited the high penetration of car sharing, particularly in Metro Vancouver.

“So we have high expectations,” he said.

“The first thing we need to do is grow the supplier base.”

The next step, Mathieu said, is in the next few months to “find a way for individual private car owners in B.C. to be able to list a car on Turo at no extra (insurance) cost.”

© 2017 Postmedia Network Inc.

Burnaby’s Fortinet bulking up to combat brewing cyber threats

Sunday, September 17th, 2017

Burnaby?s Fortinet bulking up in face of cyber threats

Derrick Penner
The Province

International cybersecurity firm Fortinet is on the hunt to hire as many as 1,000 tech experts to fill its newly expanded data hub in Burnaby and help it keep on top of a rapidly expanding “threat landscape,” as security strategist Derek Manky puts it.

From ordinary “phishing” to sophisticated malware and ransomware attacks such as WannaCry, Manky estimates Fortinet deals with “north of one million” new cyber threats every day.

And the number of Internet-connected devices in need of protection — from intelligent appliances and cars to smartphones — is always growing.

“(Ransomware) is a threat that has been on our radar for some time, but it’s getting nastier as time moves on,” Manky said. “They’re becoming more persistent and more damaging.”

To keep up with combating them, Fortinet announced this week the completion of a major expansion at its Burnaby campus, the now California-headquartered firm’s key research and development facility, taking over a second building in its suburban office park off Still Creek Drive.

That increases its footprint to about 282,000 square feet from the 87,000 square feet that Fortinet’s existing workforce of about 700 operates from now.

Manky said the company will now be looking to recruit up to 1,000 people “sooner rather than later” to fill the space, although he acknowledged that the effort might take up to five years considering the firm hires about 50 to 60 new grads per year to fill its growing needs.

“We would like to get more, as you can see with the expansion,” Manky said. “One thousand is a big number.”

Fortinet isn’t the only local tech firm on a hiring binge. Its announcement follows news that online retail giant and data-services firm Amazon is advertising for more than 350 tech positions in Vancouver, with other companies looking to recruit new talent as well.

Besides threat-intelligence experts and threat analysts, Manky said the company needs web developers, user-interface designers and a plethora of other positions to make its system work.

For some positions, such as the developers and programmers, it is very difficult to recruit locally because these are the same jobs everyone is looking to fill, Manky said.

There is less competition locally for the specific security experts, but Manky said for more experienced personnel, the competition is getting tighter at the global level considering the growing need.

Fortinet, which has about 5,000 employees around the world, is working to help close its skills gaps by setting up Fortinet Acadamies in 65 countries to collaborate with universities and cultivate the talent they need.

Manky said in Canada, the company is working with four universities, and cultivating relationships with 19 more, and he himself sits on a program advisory committee at the B.C. Institute of Technology, his alma mater.

“There is a huge gap in cybersecurity skills right now,” Manky said. “If you look at (the industry) it’s expected to grow (by) two million positions worldwide by 2019 that are unfilled. There is simply a lot of demand.”

© 2017 Postmedia Network Inc.

Burnaby’s Fortinet bulking up in face of cyber threats

Sunday, September 17th, 2017

Derrick Penner
The Province

International cybersecurity firm Fortinet is on the hunt to hire as many as 1,000 tech experts to fill its newly expanded data hub in Burnaby and help it keep on top of a rapidly expanding “threat landscape,” as security strategist Derek Manky puts it.

From ordinary “phishing” to sophisticated malware and ransomware attacks such as WannaCry, Manky estimates Fortinet deals with “north of one million” new cyber threats every day.

And the number of internet-connected devices in need of protection — from intelligent appliances and cars to smartphones — is always growing.

“(Ransomware) is a threat that has been on our radar for some time, but it’s getting nastier as time moves on,” Manky said. “They’re becoming more persistent and more damaging.”

To keep up with combating them, Fortinet announced last week the completion of a major expansion at its Burnaby campus, the now California-headquartered firm’s key research and development facility, taking over a second building in its suburban office park off Still Creek Drive.

That increases its footprint to about 282,000 square feet from the 87,000 square feet that Fortinet’s existing workforce of about 700 employees operates from now.

Manky said the company will now be looking to recruit up to 1,000 people “sooner rather than later” to fill the space, although he acknowledged the effort might take up to five years considering the firm hires about 50 to 60 new grads per year to fill its growing needs.

“We would like to get more, as you can see with the expansion,” Manky said. “One thousand is a big number.”

Fortinet isn’t the only local tech firm on a hiring binge. Its announcement follows news that online retail giant and data-services firm Amazon is advertising for more than 350 tech positions in Vancouver with other companies looking to recruit new talent as well.

Besides threat-intelligence experts and threat analysts, Manky said the company needs web developers, user-interface designers and a plethora of other positions to make its system work.

For some positions, such as developers and programmers, it is difficult to recruit locally because these are the same jobs everyone is looking to fill, Manky said.

There is less competition locally for the specific security experts, but Manky said for more experienced personnel, the competition is getting tighter at the global level considering the growing need.

Fortinet, which has about 5,000 employees around the world, is working to help close its skills gaps by setting up Fortinet Acadamies in 65 countries to collaborate with universities and cultivate the talent they need.

Manky said in Canada, the company is working with four universities and cultivating relationships with 19 more and he himself sits on a program advisory committee at the B.C. Institute of Technology, his alma mater.

“There is a huge gap in cybersecurity skills right now,” Manky said. “If you look at (the industry), it’s expected to grow (by) two million positions worldwide by 2019 that are unfilled. There is simply a lot of demand.”

© 2017 Postmedia Network Inc

LIBERATING HUMANITY, OR ABANDONING IT?

Saturday, September 16th, 2017

The giants of technology keep inventing ways to control our lives. Franklin Foer fears we?ll hit a point where we won?t be able to recover the individuality that?s been taken away.

The Vancouver Sun

Until recently, it was easy to define our most widely known corporations. Any third-grader could describe their essence. Exxon sells oil; McDonald’s makes hamburgers; Walmart is a place to buy stuff. This is no longer so.

Today’s ascendant monopolies aspire to encompass all of existence. Google derives from googol, a number (1 followed by 100 zeros) that mathematicians use as shorthand for unimaginably large quantities. Larry Page and Sergey Brin founded Google with the mission of organizing all knowledge, but that proved too narrow. They now aim to build driverless cars, manufacture phones and conquer death. Amazon, which once called itself “the everything store,” now produces television shows, owns Whole Foods and powers the cloud. The architect of this firm, Jeff Bezos, even owns the Washington Post.

Along with Facebook, Microsoft and Apple, these companies are in a race to become our “personal assistant.” They want to wake us in the morning, have their artificial intelligence software guide us through our days and never quite leave our sides. They aspire to become the repository for precious and private items, our calendars and contacts, our photos and documents. They intend for us to turn unthinkingly to them for information and entertainment while they catalogue our intentions and aversions. Google Glass and the Apple Watch prefigure the day when these companies implant their artificial intelligence in our bodies. Brin has mused, “Perhaps in the future, we can attach a little version of Google that you just plug into your brain.”

More than any previous coterie of corporations, the tech monopolies aspire to mould humanity into their desired image of it. They think they have the opportunity to complete the long merger between man and machine — to redirect the trajectory of human evolution. How do I know this? In annual addresses and town hall meetings, the Founding Fathers of these companies often make big, bold pronouncements about human nature — a view that they intend for the rest of us to adhere to. Page thinks the human body amounts to a basic piece of code. “Your program algorithms aren’t that complicated,” he says. And if humans function like computers, why not hasten the day we become fully cyborg? To take another grand theory, Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg has exclaimed his desire to liberate humanity from phoniness, to end the dishonesty of secrets.

“The days of you having a different image for your work friends or co-workers and for the other people you know are probably coming to an end pretty quickly,” he has said. “Having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity.”

Of course, that’s both an expression of idealism and an elaborate justification for Facebook’s business model.

There’s an oft-used shorthand for the technologist’s view of the world. It is assumed that libertarianism dominates Silicon Valley, and that isn’t wholly wrong. High-profile devotees of Ayn Rand can be found there. But if you listen hard to the titans of tech, it’s clear that their world view is something much closer to the opposite of a libertarian’s veneration of the heroic, solitary individual. The big tech companies think we’re fundamentally social beings, born to collective existence. They invest their faith in the network, the wisdom of crowds, collaboration. They harbour a deep desire for the atomistic world to be made whole. (“Facebook stands for bringing us closer together and building a global community,” Zuckerberg wrote in one of his many manifestos.) By stitching the world together, they can cure its ills.

Rhetorically, the tech companies gesture toward individuality — to the empowerment of the “user” — but their world view rolls over it. Even the ubiquitous invocation of users is telling, a passive, bureaucratic description of us.

The big tech companies (the Europeans have lumped them together as GAFA: Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon) are shredding the principles that protect individuality. Their devices and sites have collapsed privacy; they disrespect the value of authorship, with their hostility toward intellectual property.

In the realm of economics, they justify monopoly by suggesting that competition merely distracts from the important problems like erasing language barriers and building artificial brains. Companies should “transcend the daily brute struggle for survival,” as Facebook investor Peter Theil has put it.

When it comes to the most central tenet of individualism — free will — the tech companies have a different way. They hope to automate the choices, both large and small, we make as we float through the day. It’s their algorithms that suggest the news we read, the goods we buy, the paths we travel, the friends we invite into our circles.

It’s hard not to marvel at these companies and their inventions, which often make life infinitely easier. But we’ve spent too long marvelling. The time has arrived to consider the consequences of these monopolies, to reassert our role in determining the human path. Once we cross certain thresholds — once we remake institutions such as media and publishing, once we abandon privacy — there’s no turning back, no restoring our lost individuality.

Over the generations, we’ve been through revolutions like this before. Many years ago, we delighted in the wonders of TV dinners and the other newfangled foods that suddenly filled our kitchens: slices of cheese encased in plastic, oozing pizzas that emerged from a crust of ice, bags of crunchy tater tots. In the history of man, these seemed like breakthrough innovations. Timeconsuming tasks — shopping for ingredients, tediously preparing a recipe and tackling a trail of pots and pans — were suddenly and miraculously consigned to history.

The revolution in cuisine wasn’t just enthralling. It was transformational. New products embedded themselves deeply in everyday life, so much so that it took decades for us to understand the price we paid for their convenience, efficiency and abundance. Processed foods were feats of engineering, all right — but they were engineered to make us fat. Their delectable taste required massive quantities of sodium and sizable stockpiles of sugar, which happened to reset our palates and made it harder to sate hunger. It took vast quantities of meat and corn to fabricate these dishes, and a spike in demand remade American agriculture at a terrible environmental cost. A whole new system of industrial farming emerged, with penny-conscious conglomerates cramming chickens into feces-covered pens and stuffing them full of antibiotics. By the time we came to understand the consequences of our revised patterns of consumption, the damage had been done to our waistlines, longevity, souls and planet.

Something like the midcentury food revolution is now reordering the production and consumption of knowledge. Our intellectual habits are being scrambled by the dominant firms. Giant tech companies have become the most powerful gatekeepers the world has ever known. Google helps us sort the internet, by providing a sense of hierarchy to information; Facebook uses its algorithms and its intricate understanding of our social circles to filter the news we encounter; Amazon bestrides book publishing with its overwhelming hold on that market.

Such dominance endows these companies with the ability to remake the markets they control. As with the food giants, the big tech companies have given rise to a new science that aims to construct products that pander to their consumers. Unlike the market research and television ratings of the past, the tech companies have a bottomless collection of data, acquired as they track our travels across the Web, storing every shard about our habits in the hope that they may prove useful. They have compiled an intimate portrait of the psyche of each user — a portrait that they hope to exploit to seduce us into a compulsive spree of binge clicking and watching. And it works: On average, each Facebook user spends one-sixteenth of their day on the site.

In the realm of knowledge, monopoly and conformism are inseparable perils. The danger is that these firms will inadvertently use their dominance to squash diversity of opinion and taste. Concentration is followed by homogenization. As news media outlets have come to depend heavily on Facebook and Google for traffic — and therefore revenue — they have rushed to produce editorials that will flourish on those platforms. This leads to a duplication of the news like never before, with scores of sites across the internet piling onto the same daily outrage. It’s why a picture of a mysteriously coloured dress generated endless articles, why seemingly every site recaps “Game of Thrones.” Each contribution to the genre adds little, except clicks. Old media had a pack mentality, too, but the internet promised something much different. And the prevalence of so much data makes the temptation to pander even greater.

This is true of politics. Our era is defined by polarization, warring ideological gangs that yield no ground. Division, however, isn’t the root cause of our unworkable system. There are many causes, but a primary problem is conformism. Facebook has nurtured two hive minds, each residing in an informational ecosystem that yields head-nodding agreement and penalizes dissenting views. This is the phenomenon that the entrepreneur and author Eli Pariser famously termed the “Filter Bubble” — how Facebook mines our data to keep giving us the news and information we crave, creating a feedback loop that pushes us deeper and deeper into our own amen corners.

As the 2016 presidential election so graphically illustrated, a hive mind is an intellectually incapacitated one, with diminishing ability to tell fact from fiction, with an unshakable bias toward party line. The Russians understood this, which is why they invested so successfully in spreading dubious agitprop via Facebook. And it’s why a raft of companies sprouted — Occupy Democrats, the Angry Patriot, Being Liberal — to get rich off the Filter Bubble and to exploit our susceptibility to the lowest-quality news, if you can call it that.

Facebook represents a dangerous deviation in media history. Once upon a time, elites proudly viewed themselves as gatekeepers. They could be sycophantic to power and snobbish, but they also felt duty-bound to elevate the standards of society and readers. Executives of Silicon Valley regard gatekeeping as the stodgy enemy of innovation — they see themselves as more neutral, scientific and responsive to the market than the elites they replaced — a perspective that obscures their own power and responsibilities. So instead of shaping public opinion, they exploit the public’s worst tendencies, its tribalism and paranoia.

During this century, we largely have treated Silicon Valley as a force beyond our control. A broad consensus held that lead-footed government could never keep pace with the dynamism of technology. By the time government acted against a tech monopoly, a kid in a garage would have already concocted some innovation to upend the market. Or, as Google’s Eric Schmidt, put it, “Competition is one click away.” A nostrum that suggested that the very structure of the internet defied our historic concern for monopoly.

As individuals, we have similarly accepted the omnipresence of the big tech companies as a fait accompli. We’ve enjoyed their free products and next-day delivery with only a nagging sense that we may be surrendering something important. Such blitheness can no longer be sustained. Privacy won’t survive the present trajectory of technology — and with the sense of being perpetually watched, humans will behave more cautiously, less subversively. Our ideas about the competitive marketplace are at risk. With a decreasing prospect of toppling the giants, entrepreneurs won’t bother to risk starting new firms, a primary source of jobs and innovation. And the proliferation of falsehoods and conspiracies through social media, the dissipation of our common basis for fact, is creating conditions ripe for authoritarianism. Over time, the long merger of man and machine has worked out pretty well for man. But we’re drifting into a new era, when that merger threatens the individual. We’re drifting toward monopoly, conformism, their machines. Perhaps it’s time we steer our course.

© 2017 Postmedia Network Inc.

Claire Brownwell reveals some tips and notes of caution if you want to join the digital currencies? wild ride

Saturday, September 16th, 2017

CRYPTO CURIOSITY

Claire Brownwell
The Vancouver Sun

Investors who bought cryptocurrencies early on faced plenty of doubters, but today they’re laughing all the way to the bank.

The price of bitcoin has had plenty of ups and downs during its turbulent history, but if you bought and held $1,000 worth of the currency five years ago and sold it on Monday, you would have about $374,000 today.

In July, Bloomberg reported that an unknown trader turned a US$55-million investment in ether, the digital currency powering the Ethereum blockchain, into US$283 million over the course of a month.

Over the past three months, the collective market capitalization of the 800-odd cryptocurrencies in existence has increased to US$146.5 billion on Sept. 11, from about US$25 billion on April 1.

Despite the huge increase in value, mainstream consumers have yet to take to these digital assets in significant numbers. To the average person, cryptocurrencies remain confusing and unfamiliar.

If you think that’s going to change and you see room for cryptocurrency valuations to climb even higher, here’s a guide to buying and trading bitcoin, ether and the hundreds of others in existence. Before you get too carried away, we have some notes of caution as well.

BUYING BITCOIN

Bitcoin made it theoretically possible for two parties to exchange digital value without requiring a bank, government or third party. In practice, it’s not quite that simple.

For one thing, we all get paid in currencies issued by central banks, not bitcoin, which means investors need a way to convert their money into a cryptocurrency, which usually means buying it through an exchange.

Canadian investors have an additional challenge: It can be hard to find a cryptocurrency exchange that accepts loonies. Canada’s Quadriga lets investors buy bitcoin using Interac online, an electronic funds transfer or a bank wire, but

requires account and identity verification in some cases.

If, in the spirit of things, you’d rather keep your bank account out of the transaction, a bitcoin ATM might be the way to go. Available in cities across the country, bitcoin ATMs allow you to deposit cash in exchange for cryptocurrency, albeit for higher fees than an exchange would charge.

Once you’ve made the transaction, congratulations, you now own bitcoin, which you can prove is yours thanks to a shared digital ledger called the blockchain. The exchange or bitcoin ATM will have issued you a bitcoin address, which is like an email address people can use to send you money.

If you want to send money to other people, you need one more thing: a private key, similar to the password you would need to open up your email account.

Private keys are issued by pieces of software called bitcoin wallets and provide mathematical proof that transactions came from a wallet’s owner. Simply choose a bitcoin wallet provider and download its app on your smartphone.

The most common way to explain bitcoin wallets is to describe them as similar to bank accounts, but that’s misleading, said Anthony Di Iorio, chief executive and co-founder of Jaxx, a multicryptocurrency wallet.

Unlike a bank account — or a physical wallet — bitcoin wallets don’t “hold” your money. Your bitcoins are stored on the blockchain, with the bitcoin wallet simply facilitating transactions.

Some wallets manage your private key on their servers, while others give you the option of storing it yourself in a file, hardware wallet or paper wallet to keep your bitcoins safe if the wallet gets hacked.

“We’re a world wallet that doesn’t hold onto people’s money,” Di Iorio said. “You are personally responsible for securing your key.”

WHAT ABOUT OTHER CRYPTOCURRENCIES?

Bitcoin is the best-known cryptocurrency, but there are 800-plus

others out there.

Some were invented to solve problems with bitcoin, some provide a specific function such as giving a user access to cloud storage, and some act to certify equity ownership in a startup.

At US$27.9 billion, Ethereum has the second-largest market capitalization next to Bitcoin. It’s growing so quickly, however, that many cryptocurrency watchers are predicting Ethereum will one day dethrone Bitcoin in a reversal they refer to as the “flippening.”

Invented by a University of Waterloo dropout, Ethereum has a flexible programming model that allows developers to use its blockchain to make decentralized applications and self-executing “smart contracts.”

An alliance of major corporations and financial institutions is working together to study potential uses for Ethereum.

The third-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization is Bitcoin Cash and it’s just a monthand-a-half old.

Bitcoin Cash is the result of a bitter, years-long dispute over how to handle the growing number of transactions as bitcoin becomes more popular.

Some people didn’t like the technical

fix implemented by bitcoin’s core developers, so they copied the cryptocurrency’s code, gave every owner of bitcoin an equal number of Bitcoin Cash tokens and launched a competing version using their preferred solution to the scaling problem.

Other popular cryptocurrencies include: Ripple, which provides the technological infrastructure for financial settlements; Litecoin, an alternative to Bitcoin launched with the intention of creating a “silver to Bitcoin’s gold;” and Dash, a cryptocurrency that focuses on providing quick and anonymous transactions.

BUYING OTHER CRYPTOCURRENCIES

Let’s say you think Ripple’s financial settlement infrastructure technology is about to take off, or you want to send and accept digital tips in Dogecoin. The Jaxx wallet lets you trade 15 different cryptocurrencies within the app, while wallets associated with cryptocurrency exchanges can hold and exchange a variety of tokens.

Di Iorio said the massive increase in cryptocurrency value in recent months has inspired a lot of new users to sign up for Jaxx, putting the company on track to pull in $1 billion in sales in this year. Jaxx now has about 500,000 users.

“It’s booming,” Di Iorio said. “It’s been crazy.”

If you want to invest in a brand new cryptocurrency, it’s possible to do so through an initial coin offering, or ICO.

For example, Waterloo, Ont.based messaging app Kik just launched an ICO with its cryptocurrency called Kin in the hopes it will increase in value as users earn it and trade it.

Sid Kalla, a researcher with Smith + Crown, a cryptofinance analyst, said it’s important to do your research before investing in any cryptocurrency, but ICOs require even more scrutiny.

Because valuations are so high right now, it’s become possible for untested entrepreneurs with halfbaked ideas to raise a lot of money

they don’t necessarily deserve.

“It’s hard to pick good winners, because the good projects have valuations that go up very high, which limits how much upside potential you could have,” Kalla said. “Like any bubble, you don’t know where the top is.”

BUYER BEWARE

Simply put, cryptocurrencies are not for you if you want a dependable, low-risk investment that allows you to sleep well at night.

For instance, over the course of a weekend from Sept. 7 to Sept. 11, Bitcoin lost eight per cent of its value following news that the Chinese government plans to shut down the country’s cryptocurrency exchanges.

The volatility of cryptocurrencies is “like penny stocks squared,” Kalla said.

“You have to ask yourself, what is the reason for investing? If the reason is, ‘I think Ethereum is going to go up in price 20 per cent by the end of this month,’ then I would say don’t buy it,” he said. “Even if you think this is going to be the next big thing, that doesn’t mean it’s going to be the next big thing next year.”

If you do manage to quadruple your money in a month, remember you owe the taxman his cut. The Canada Revenue Agency has made it clear it considers such profits to be capital gains, 50 per cent of which are taxable.

Jamie Golombek, managing director of tax and estate planning at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, said the anonymous nature of cryptocurrency trading won’t help if the CRA starts asking questions about where you got the money for that fancy new car.

“If someone tries to convert a substantial amount of bitcoin into real currency — like Canadian dollars — presumably there will be a record of that and the CRA may ask where that money came from,” Golombek said. “Not reporting it is tax evasion and it’s illegal.”

© 2017 Postmedia Network Inc

Google Drive Shutting Down?!? Here’s the real story

Tuesday, September 12th, 2017

Darci LaRocque
other

Watch Darcy’s explanation video Here

That is the incorrect rumour out there! Do not panic. Google is just changing things up a bit and renaming some apps. You have until March 12, 2018 to install BACKUP AND SYNC but it doesn’t mean Drive is gone. They have renamed the app and did some updates to it in the background that don’t really impact us. Lots of websites are claiming Google Drive is shutting down. It is not!

They have created 2 new ways of accessing files:

  1. Backup and Sync.Google Drive – the icon changed and it is easier to access Google photos now but really the same program. Download it now here.
  2. File Stream.Here is a great article on File Stream but honestly I don’t think anyone would need File Stream unless you have a large team who needs Team Shares, if your team computers dn’t have much hard drive space and you want to access everything from the cloud.  For example, you want to look at a PDF, you click on it and then it downloads the file and once you finish it goes back up to the cloud.

So what’s the difference between the two? Click here and yes, please do share with people who have the wrong info to clear everything up.
 
Questions about this? Ask in my Facebook Group for Agents (Link is below) 

Darci LaRocque
604.306.5808
www.DarciTalks.com

What you need to know about the Equifax data breach

Monday, September 11th, 2017

Canadian Real Estate Wealth

Equifax, one of the three main credit reporting companies, said this week that a major data breach exposed Social Security numbers and other important information of millions of people.

The breach affected about 143 million in the United States, as well as some people in Canada and the United Kingdom, but Equifax didn’t provide a number. Hackers had access to the data between May and July, Equifax said. The company discovered the hack on July 29 and publicly announced it more than a month later on Thursday.

Here’s what else you need to know about the breach:
___

WHAT INFORMATION WAS TAKEN?
Hackers had access to Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, driver’s license numbers, credit card numbers and other information. Those are all crucial pieces of personal data that criminals could use to commit identity theft. Those are what John Ulzheimer, an independent credit consultant who previously worked at Equifax, called “the crown jewels of personal information.”

Equifax’s security lapse could be the largest theft involving Social Security numbers, one of the most common methods used to confirm a person’s identity in the U.S. The data breach is especially damaging to Equifax, since its entire business revolves around being a secure storehouse and providing a clear financial profile of consumers that lenders and other businesses can trust. The credit profiles it holds contain personal information, like how much people owe on their houses and whether they have court judgments against them.
___

AM I AFFECTED?
Equifax set up a site, equifaxsecurity2017.com , where you can type in your last name and six digits of your Social Security number to find out if your data may have been compromised. Consumers can also call 866-447-7559 for information. The company says it will send mail to all who had personally identifiable information stolen.

Equifax is also offering free credit monitoring for a year. The company says the service will search suspicious sites for your Social Security number, give you access to your Equifax report and other offerings. You can sign up at the same site listed above, and the deadline to do so is Nov. 21.

Initially, though, there was a catch _ signing up would also commit you to binding arbitration with the credit monitor, which would mean giving up your right to sue. Several politicians and consumer groups have criticized this provision. Democrats in the House and Senate called on the company to pull back that requirement. Late Friday, Equifax said the arbitration language that appears on its website “will not apply to this cybersecurity incident.”
___
WHAT SHOULD I DO?
You can view your credit reports for free at

AnnualCreditReport.com. You’re entitled to get a free copy of your credit report from each of the three big agencies once every 12 months. Review it closely for unauthorized accounts or any mistakes. And you may need to be vigilant much longer than the free year of credit monitoring Equifax is offering. “If any of the data was exposed, you will be living with that for the rest of your life,” said Rich Mogull, who runs the security research firm Securosis. You can consider freezing your credit reports, but it comes with some downsides. A freeze stops thieves from opening new credit cards or loans in your name, but it also prevents you from opening new accounts. So each time you apply for a credit card, mortgage or loan, you need to lift the freeze a few days beforehand.

Freezes can be done online at the websites of the three credit reporting agencies — Equifax , Experian and TransUnion . You’ll need to freeze all three reports for the best protection. Each company will give you a code that you’ll need again in order to lift the freeze, so keep it in a safe place. When you plan to apply for a credit card, mortgage, or other loan you’ll need to go back to each site and lift the freeze.

The credit reporting agencies may charge a fee, usually under $10, depending on which state you live in. But it’s free for residents of some states, including Maine, New Jersey and South Carolina.

A freeze doesn’t protect you from everything: thieves can still file a fraudulent tax return in your name or charge things to your already opened credit card accounts. A freeze won’t affect your credit score or report. The report stays open and is updated to keep track of your debts, payments and other information.
___

HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?
Equifax is blaming an unspecified “website application vulnerability.” Security experts say it’s hard to say for sure without more information, but such vulnerabilities typically don’t require a lot of sophistication to exploit.

Mogull says the web app breach suggests “things are broken down in a couple of different areas.” He says someone likely made a programming or configuration mistake.
Corporate culture could also be a factor. Often, Mogull says, corporate security is underfunded or isn’t given the authority it needs to make sure application developers do what’s right.
Ryan Kalember of the security company Proofpoint says that even if the vulnerability was known and fixable, “co-ordination between app developers and security teams in a lot of organizations are not on the best of terms.”

Another security expert said the website Equifax created to help customers find out if they were affected raises its own security questions. The site looks like the kind set up by attackers to trick people into disclosing information, says Georgia Weidman, founder and chief technology officer for security firm Shevirah.

“It’s teaching people entirely the wrong things about using the internet securely,” Weidman said. She said says she’s also troubled by Equifax’s approach to security generally, including reports that it didn’t respond to basic scripting bugs it was warned about last year.
___

WHO’S INVESTIGATING THIS?
Potentially, a lot of people. Credit bureaus like Equifax are lightly regulated compared to other parts of the financial system.

U.S. Rep. Jeb Hensarling, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, said he will call for Congressional hearings. And Rep. Greg Walden, the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, says he’ll hold a hearing examining what wrong and how to better protect against future hackings.

Several state attorneys general have also said they would investigate, including those from New York, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. New York’s attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, said his office aims to “get to the bottom” of how the breach occurred.

Company executives are also under scrutiny, after it was found that three Equifax executives sold shares worth a combined $1.8 million just a few days after the company discovered the breach, according to documents filed with securities regulators. Equifax said the three executives “had no knowledge that an intrusion had occurred at the time they sold their shares.”

Copyright © 2017 Key Media Pty Ltd

Kik bans Canadians from investing in new crypto-token

Saturday, September 9th, 2017

Claire Brownell
The Vancouver Sun

Citing “weak guidance” from regulators, Waterloo-based messaging app Kik Interactive Inc. has banned Canadians from participating in a public sale of its new crypto-token.

In a blog post published Thursday evening, Kik chief executive Ted Livingston said the company has reached out to the Ontario Securities Commission, but did not receive a clear answer as to whether or not securities law will apply to the token sale. To stay on the right side of the law, Kik decided to exclude Canadians from participating in the initial public sale of its crypto-token, called Kin, on Tuesday.

“Our Kin project needs to move forward, so to avoid risks arising from this uncertainty, we, a Canadian company, have decided to move forward without Canada,” Livingston said in the post. “If innovation is to play an important role in Canada’s economy, we can’t afford to let this innovation go elsewhere.”

Kik has already raised US$50 million in a private sale to accredited investor and seeks to raise an additional US$75 million from members of the public starting Tuesday. After the public sale, Kik plans to distribute additional crypto-tokens, called Kin, to users of the app in exchange for doing things that improve the service, such as hosting popular group chats or developing bots.

In an email, OSC spokesperson Nima Ranawana said the regulator has, in fact, told Kik it considers Kin to be a security. She said the OSC is open to providing Kik with relief from certain securities regulation requirements if it meets conditions such as providing protection to retail investors.

“We continue to be open to such a discussion, and want to work with Kik to ensure that all investors, including Canadian investors, can participate in the offering with appropriate protections,” Ranawana said.

Securities regulators around the world are grappling with how to handle token sales, also known as initial coin offerings or ICOs, such as the one Kik is planning. Similar to a Kickstarter campaign, ICOs allow startups to raise large sums of money from the public without the strict disclosure requirements associated with listing on a stock exchange.

On the one hand, this gives entrepreneurs access to a new source of capital and allows ordinary people to invest in fledgling companies that could one day reap huge returns. On the other hand, it exposes unsophisticated investors to huge risks they might not properly understand.

On Monday, China banned digital currency financing outright, calling ICOs “illegal public financing.” Canada and the U.S. have taken a softer approach, saying they consider many ICOs to be sales of securities but not all of them.

Joseph Weinberg, chief executive of the Bitcoin remittance company Paycase and a member of the OSC’s fintech advisory committee, said he thinks Kik has good intentions when it comes to investor protections, but sympathizes with the difficult position the regulator is in. “The OSC is trying their best to ensure open innovation continues to occur without over-regulating and inhibiting our ability as innovators to do our jobs,” he said in an email.

Kyle Kemper, executive director of the Blockchain Association of Canada, said he believes individual investors should be allowed to make their own decisions about whether or not to invest in ICOs.

“Yes, there are risks, but it’s up to individuals to decide on these risks and evaluate the risks in order to participate in them,” he said. “We’re really hoping to be able to work with the OSC to make it a little bit more clear what is considered a security and what’s not considered a security.”

In addition to Canadians, Kik is barring residents of the states of New York and Washington from participating in the token sale for regulatory reasons. Residents of Sudan, Iran and Cuba are also unable to participate because of sanctions from the U.S. Treasury and other organizations.

© 2017 Financial Post

New anonymous chat app aims to get millennials talking

Tuesday, September 5th, 2017

CHERYL CHAN
The Vancouver Sun

How do you approach someone you’re too shy to talk to? For some, it’s easy enough to go up to the person and say “hi.”

But in this app-loving and chatobsessed age, many people might prefer to break the ice from the safety of their screen.

That’s where Lipsi, a new location-based anonymous messaging app, might help.

Its goal, said founder Matthew Segal, is to facilitate unlikely interactions.

“Most apps that connect people are almost always a dating app, but we see this as only one of the many applications of Lipsi,” said Segal, the 23-year-old son of Vancouver businessman and philanthropist Lorne Segal and grandson of Vancouver icon Joe Segal.

When a user logs into Lipsi, the app can provide a list of other users who are within 100 metres. When a user sends a message to someone they’re interested in, it’ll show up as anonymous unless they unveil their identity.

“There are many apps that connect people. But the simple fact that Lipsi is anonymous separates it from competition in that field,” Segal said.

The app also allows users to search for their friends by name; proximity isn’t necessary.

Lipsi — the name is a combination of the word “lips” and the phrase “let’s see” — also gives users the ability to delete chat histories and restore anonymity.

The app is geared for people age 15 to 25 in high school or universities.

Segal and his team plan to launch a publicity campaign at the University of B.C. and Simon Fraser University this week through campus ambassadors, working with fraternities and social media channels to build on its current 5,000 users in the Vancouver area.

The company isn’t focused on acquiring numbers so much as it wants to have critical mass in close quarters, Segal said. “More than numbers, we’re focused on building communities.”

The biggest launch will be held at Segal’s alma mater, Yale University in New Haven, Conn., where Lipsi will hold an open bar for students who present the app on their phones.

Yale was where Lipsi was born. Segal came up with the idea two years ago after he kept bumping into a girl on campus he wanted to talk to but was too shy to approach. “It’s not always the easiest thing to talk to a girl you like,” he said.

It should be easy, acknowledged Segal, when asked why someone shouldn’t just approach a person they want to talk in person. But in practice, it’s not easy for many people.

One person attending Lipsi’s launch party last month described the app as an ice breaker. “If you get a positive interaction on it, you can approach them immediately rather than going home and going on Facebook to creep them and approach them that way,” he said.

Segal is aware that an anonymous messaging app could be used for cyberbullying or predatory purposes, and his team has created safeguards, such as a feature that lets users block a user from messaging them. The app’s developer can also ban abusive users from the platform after repeat offences.

The Vancouver-based company is a lean operation with five employees, including three developers, a designer, and head of marketing and growth. Segal is a self-professed jack of all trades. “I’ll do everything, whatever needs to be done,” he said.

The grind of a tech startup wasn’t in Segal’s original plans. After graduation, the economics major was prepared to go into investment banking. He had gone through gruelling interviews but once he had a job contract in front of him, “I realized my heart simply wasn’t in it.”

He’s also given up competitive rowing to focus 100 per cent of his time and energy to Lipsi.

“I’ve been following my passion since I was very young,” Segal said. “That was one of the most important things my dad has taught me. I see this as the first of many risks I’ll be taking in my life.”

© 2017 Postmedia Network Inc