Inflation Doughnut Economics and iPhones

Pexels Stock Photo of iPhone

Inflation, Doughnut Economics and iPhones: In a world where everywhere you turn there’s inflation, how do we save money? And what do the new Apple iPhones have to do with these larger economic, social, and political trends? What about implications for your own tech and digital security?

iPhone
Photo by Soulful Pizza on Pexels.com

Inflation

It seems like everywhere you look prices are going up. We are seeing this in technology as well. Monthly fees for line-of-business software rise. In our hobbies it shows like the recent rate hike announcement from Sony for Playstation Network subscriptions.

For the last year we’ve seen lots of massive layoffs in the tech industry. The social media company and platform formerly known as Twitter has slashed 70% of its workforce. All this happened since changing ownership about a year ago! In my gardening hobby I’ve learned the value of carefully pruning plants to yield better fruits. But there’s a major difference in pruning and the business mantra “cut your way to growth.” Especially when the latter is more of a hatchet job or dismemberment plan.

The sane and empathic response requires our hearts to break. But instead the calculating optimization algorithms driving the economy are in charge of these decisions.

Is Capitalism the Problem? What about Communism?

Let’s start this weighty discussion with some humor from the 1980’s with comedian Yakov Smirnoff:

Smirnoff jokes about “In Soviet Russia…” as one of his trademark standup routines. For example: “In America, your job determines your marks. In Soviet Russia, Marx determine your job!”

Before we segue into the more serious part of this post we want to remind you we are aware of who we are, where we are, and why we are. We acknowledge you are in a different place and anything we discuss has nuance and value for you. You are welcomed to disagree based on your personal beliefs or values. That’s okay. You have worth regardless of whether we agree or disagree. We also recognize that the US is a republican democracy with recent leanings towards authoritarianism. Our economy is a mixed economy that trends towards being more free market capitalist in most instances.

It’s the Stupid Economy

Moving right to the big idea: something’s wrong with our economy. I think that’s a rather uncontroversial empirically observable truth. It may be objectionable to those who are currently wealthy enough to benefit from the status quo. But even those of you in that group must see the writing on the wall. If the economy doesn’t work for most of the people in it, it becomes volatile.

The prices of goods and services are rising. The stock market volatility harms your retirement options. Many people experience wage stagnation. Maybe you cannot afford child care. Or medical expenses leave you in debt. The economy is certainly struggling. In the entrepreneurial spirit, these pain points can also be opportunities. We will acknowledge too that this economy itself is doing well by the current metrics. Notice inflation has largely been under control from its peak in the summer of 2022.

How can it possibly be true that the economy is doing well and inflation is down, but I’m still paying more at the gas pump?

Smirnoff’s jokes are referenced because we are thinking that both capitalism and communism are out dated and poorly serve humanity’s needs today.

Regardless, we remain very hopeful and optimistic about our shared human future. We can make changes and better serve people today while succeeding in business. Does that sound good to you too? Then let’s get started!

Doughnut Economics

Kate Raworth quips in her book Doughnut Economics: “These citizens of 2050 are being taught an economic mindset that is rooted in the textbooks of 1950, which in turn are rooted in the theories of of 1850.”

There’s a lot to this new economic theory, but we’ll summarize and link you to the author herself explaining it in less than 8 minutes.

Doughnut Economics

Doughnut Economics comes from the above diagram that is a literal game changer. It invites us to think about the economy and our relationship to it differently in these ways:

  1. Change the goal – from GDP to the Doughnut (above)
  2. See the big picture – instead of self-contained markets we have embedded markets in a larger whole
  3. Nurture human nature – from rational economic man to social adaptable humans
  4. Get savvy with systems – from mechanical equilibrium to dynamic complexity
  5. Design to distribute from growth will even the playing field to distributive by design
  6. Create to regenerate – from growth will clean it up to regenerative by design
  7. Be agnostic about growth – from growth addicted to growth agnostic

There are no externalities as Herman Daly would say, your model is just not big enough.

Inflation Doughnut Economics and New iPhones

Okay, what does any of this talk of inflation and doughnut economics have to do with iPhones? Surprisingly quite a bit.

Earlier this week Apple announced the latest iPhone models in the 15 series.

iPhone 15 New features

There are a number of cool new features on the latest iPhones. They have better cameras, dynamic island on all new iPhones, and our personal favorite a USB-C charging port.

We’ve been following the news that lead to the USB-C port for a while now from the European Union. Cheers mates! This is welcomed news for everyone! Now there’s no more “hey do you have a charger I can use?” Only to get let down with a response like, “oh, sorry I don’t have an iPhone.”

It also means less tech waste or trash. And while we’re on that note there’s an important thing to say about your old phone, actually several. No matter if you’re getting the shiny new titanium iPhone Pro you’ll still want to hear how you can turn your trash into treasure.

End of Lifecycle Tips

All good things in life must come to an end at some point. So for a smartphone, a wise person will evaluate the full lifecycle of the phone.

Pricing has a lot of catches to look out. Some of us joke about the “Apple tax” because they charge more for their products than competitors. They also tend to provide better long term value.

Here’s my personal example: I have an iPhone Xr I purchased 5 years ago. There’s a slight bit of battery degradation due to normal use. Otherwise it’s in good condition.

It was $800 when I purchased it. So simple math says that $800/5 years = $160 per year.

While it’s hard to do a direct comparison with Android. There’s a lot of options and variables so we’ll compare to Google’s Pixel 3 from 2018. Google does featured support for 3 years, which is also better than other Android device makers.

At the same price of $800/3 years = $267 per year. Expect worse with Android makers that don’t support their devices as well as Google does.

There’s a very similar prospect with Windows PC’s (especially laptops) compared to Apple MacBooks which last much longer on average.

Trade-in Tips

Here’s where your proverbial trash becomes treasure, but there’s a few warnings to be aware.

You’ve likely also seen those cellular company commercials with antiques roadshow themes talking about trading in your old device. This is generally a good idea if you do not plan to use them anymore. If you want to sell them to another person online like on craigslist or ebay, that’s a good option to get more money.

Tech trash is a big problem in our industry. One way we can help make a better 21st century is thinking like a Doughnut Economist. My grandparents grew up during the Great Depression which ingrained the idea wear it out, use it up, or do without. But they also became low-key hoarders due to their lack of having stuff in formative years.

We can combine the good of the Depression Era wisdom with our modern needs and sensibilities for a better perspective. We should first recognize our needs and values better. Then look at the bigger picture to move towards sustainable and ultimately regenerative practices in our economy. So certainly use up your resources if you can’t find some that are regenerative. But while you are doing it ask yourself if you can make them last longer. You might be surprised by your own ingenuity!

Smartphone Trade-in Considerations

What to look for in your trade-in deal:

  • What year/model current phone do you have?
  • Do you plan on using it for anything after you get a new one?
  • Do you think anyone else might want to use it? (Check sites like eBay to see what people are paying for it)
  • What condition is your phone in? Scratches, blemishes and broken parts will decrease the trade-in value. Consider getting a new phone you can hold easily without dropping, maybe invest in a case or screen protector?
  • What cellular service company do you use? Are you happy with them? Many times you’ll need to be in a contract with them for a while to get the deal.
  • Where does the trade-in valuation take place? Many deals offer you the convenience of mailing in your old device after getting a new one. But this means you have to trust them fully to value it accurately. Find a trade-in offer in person that way it should be readily apparent to everyone why your phone got devalued.

My estimate is $350 credit with a 3 years plan. This brings a new iPhone 15’s price down from $800 to $450. Then if you average that over the next 5 years you get $90 per year. That’s looking really affordable. Like most adults I use my smartphone for lots of things from running my business to planning my social life.

Save Money and Improve Your Product Lifecycles

At large companies, there are often people who specialize in parts of the supply chain. But as individuals and small businesses the thought might be new. Give yourself some time to mull it over. You will find lots of great new ways to save money, improve value, and eliminate waste.

Do you have a drawer of old technology you don’t know what to do with?

Does your company have a supply closet overflowing with technology?

Do you use out of date technology that connects online but lacks crucial security updates?

Would you like to get more out of your technology investments?

Safely repurposing, recycling or disposing technology equipment and data is also important to your security posture. Make sure that you are not literally dumping a device with access to your bank account. A hacker could find it and have access to your treasure in bank accounts just by combing through your trash!

Be creative; you’ll find lots of ways to get more out of your technology or reuse it. But if you need help anywhere along the way, we’re happy to advise you. You can surprise us, but you won’t stump us. Contact us to see how we can improve your tech lifecycle!

Security Checkpoint MultiFactor Authentication

close up of fingerprints on white background

What is MultiFactor Authentication and why use it?

Security Checkpoint Multifactor Authentication: easier to use than to abuse. According to some researchers as many as 73% of businesses don’t enforce Multifactor Authentication. Why use MFA and what is authentication anyways? Watch this video to learn and see why it’s worth investing a little time to add this to your work routine to keep many hackers out before they even get started.

Security Checkpoint MultiFactor Authentication image close up of fingerprints on white background
Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Pexels.com

If this helped you out contact us to say thanks! You can also subscribe to our channel on YouTube to get some more tips you can’t afford to miss!

Security Checkpoint – is a new series of web videos where we go through and improve our digital privacy and security one step and one minute at a time. These are all great security and privacy practices. You can follow along as Alan goes through his digital life and cleans up data and access.

Need help with your company’s cyber security? Contact us now to see how we can help!

If this post helped you improve your digital security and privacy please like, subscribe, and click the YouTube bell. You’ll be the first to know when we have more tips on Security Checkpoint for twitter and other digital services.

Social Break Digital Business Cards

QR Code Icon

Security Checkpoint: Social Break

Ever run out of business cards right before meeting a really important contact? Still waiting on your company or printer to get your business cards ready? Want to have a business contact card ready to hand out to anyone at anytime? Of course you do!

QR Code Icon

This video shows you how to make a digital business card with a QR code that you can download to your smartphone and share with anyone to scan.

So the next time we meet at a social event you can share your business and contact info with me. No more excuses!

What you need to set up your digital business card

  • Your contact info on a webpage. This can be your personal or business website, LinkedIn page, facebook page, instagram, or digital business card.
  • A web browser that can generate the QR Code: We’ve tested Brave Browser (shown in video), Google Chrome, and Microsoft Edge. Others may work but we can’t verify that, so if you have a problem try one of those.
  • Be sure to download the QR Code image to your phone so it’s easy to show it off to new people you meet and share your contact info.

If this helped you out while socializing or marketing contact us to say thanks! You can also subscribe to our channel on YouTube to get some more tips you can’t afford to miss!

Be sure that you have the rights and consent to any information you are sharing. If it’s your company you might want to ask your manager or HR to make sure you are sharing public info. If you have your own company or want to promote yourself, make sure the info you are sharing is all available to the public and you’re comfortable sharing it in the first place. A little preparation and respect goes a long way to help everyone’s privacy and security.

Your friendly digital neighbor at Oak City IT

Security Checkpoint – is a new series of web videos where we go through and improve our digital privacy and security one step and one minute at a time. These are all great security and privacy practices. You can follow along as Alan goes through his digital life and cleans up data and access.

Need help with your company’s cyber security? Contact us now to see how we can help!

If this post helped you improve your digital security and privacy please like, subscribe, and click the YouTube bell. You’ll be the first to know when we have more tips on Security Checkpoint for twitter and other digital services.

Building a Better You: Tech with Alan Youngblood

Building A Better You Tech Talk Podcast
Microphone in podcast studio

Ep. 16 The Tech Industry Uses So Much Jargon – IT with Alan Youngblood

Building a better you tech talk new podcast just dropped today! When Nick Spindler and Chris Morgan, co-hosts of the Garner Young Professionals‘ Building a Better You podcast invited our founder Alan Youngblood to join for an episode he was delighted. We’ve listened to several episodes of the podcast and highly recommend that you listen, subscribe, and like the channel.

Nick and Chris are doing a great job collaborating with the Garner Chamber of Commerce. They created a great resource that is sourced by our community and the shared knowledge and wisdom we each bring.

Building A Better You Tech Talk

In episode 16 Alan Youngblood shares about Building a Better You and talks tech with Nick and Chris. The conversation covers the fundamental IT security practices that everyone can do to improve and mitigate real risks. There’s even some decidedly low-tech suggestions that Alan shares about how he connects with nature and integrates more humanity in life and work. Listen below and contact us if you have questions or need help with your company’s technology!

https://anchor.fm/s/b2526338/podcast/rss

Ready for a Passwordless Future with Passkeys?

The Passwordless Future with Passkeys

Are you ready for the passwordless future with passkeys? It’s already here. Or near. Well, it’s a good goal for all of us.

Passwords are annoying. And many times they don’t do enough to prevent data breaches.

If you’ve ever heard our founder Alan talk for a while you’re guaranteed to hear him say:

Security and usability are fundamentally at odds.

Alan Youngblood

This doesn’t have to be the case though. It is super easy to use Passkeys, but don’t take my word for it:

Login process with Passkeys on Macbook Pro

And it’s even more secure to use Passwordless systems.

By using the security capabilities of your devices like Touch ID and Face ID, passkeys are way more secure and are easier to use than both passwords and all current 2-factor authentication methods.

Learn more or try for yourself at Passkeys.io

The Security Holy Grail

Why can’t we have both security and usability? 

Why not both?

Typically this is a natural trade-off. Most security measures make your everday work and life a little bit more difficult while also making it much more difficult for hackers. So in practice it’s good security policy to take reasonable efforts that you know will be a slight pain to you and a major pain to hackers making them think twice.

Can’t we have both though? Every so often there is a truly different way that makes that possible!

That’s where Passkeys and passwordless systems come in. There’s a lot to say about this but the bottom line is simple: there are now computer systems that do not use passwords and are actually more secure than the systems that do.

Passwordless Future with Passkeys is More Secure

Do not mistake any of this to say we need to get rid of passwords. We’ll come back to this later but in some ways we may always have passwords for certain uses even in the passwordless future.

This also doesn’t mean wide open access or less secure systems. But how? In InfoSec we refer to authentication in a few ways. Authentication verifies a person or user of a system to make sure they are who they say they are.

Authentication can be:

  • Something you know. For example: a password.
  • Something you have. For example: a hardware token or smart badge/card.
  • Something you are. For example: fingerprint scanning, Face ID, or other biometric data.

Two factor or multi factor authentication (MFA) is just a combo of more than one of those methods. More layers of security tends to give a more secure system.

But many passwordless systems actually combine several factors into one more simple action. For example, using Passkeys combine Something you have: your mobile smartphone and something you are: the phone’s biometric touch or face id. So instead of fumbling around with a 6 digit code or remembering a password that’s hard for you to remember and easy for a computer to guess, you already have MFA built-in with one simple step.

Passwords are the weakest link in security. Think about it: they are shared at some point in the login transaction with the server. It’s something you know but that doesn’t mean someone else might know it too. I can tell you about “MySUPERsecretPasswd456!” and you you already know that one. Pro-tip: we never use that password and we recommend you never use it either. With something like passkeys, the hardware of your smartphone is leveraged and authenticates to the server basically saying you are who you claim to be and everything’s fine to let you in.

I’m just going to assume for a minute that you do a good job managing your passwords and use significantly complex, unique ones on all your accounts. Even if that were true for everyone, there’s a lot of data that gets exposed when you are a part of a service, let’s just say Facebook because so many people are there. Let’s say someone on Facebook signs up with a password “Password123.” This laughably easy password then gives hackers a potential in to the entire system. While it may not expose everyone or everything, at minimum, it provides this hacker with the next step and clues to hack other data and people. 

I'm in!

Why We Can Trust the Security of Passwordless Passkeys

What’s wilder about these systems is that they aren’t entirely new. That’s part of the reason we can trust them.

These are all built on well established protocols and technologies. Much of the magic of public/private key cryptography has been around in regular use for decades, since the 1970’s. Passwords we use now are still vulnerable because common wording or being knowable by people other than the authorized users.

Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

The biggest challenge is that even if there’s a better way, it requires change from a lot of people. Many of us are not ready for a passwordless future with passkeys if it involves doing things differently.

There’s two crucial requirements to be able to use Passwordless systems:

  • Everyone using them has to have either an up to date smartphone, computer, or hardware key token.
  • Every account and system software needs to have this feature integrated into them and users need to learn how to use it.

Easier said than done.

I don’t wanna change I’ll rise above it But it’s so damn hard to make that change

Adam Granduciel, song Change performed by The War on Drugs

Change isn’t always easy. I get it. Even when we’re in a bad place sometimes we want to cling to the “devil we know.” Why risk it doing things differently?

Plus this requires change from a lot of people, namely those we lack any control or influence over. As a company’s leader it would be easy enough to make it corporate policy to assure all employees make a change that helps everyone. But there’s still the other end of these systems, the platform holders that you can make requests to but ultimately don’t have to do anything. And there’s the bit about having updated computing devices. While this is good practice in general, it doesn’t mean we all do it. And there’s the training, why learn a new thing if what we all did a few years ago seems perfectly fine to get the job done?

Passwordless Future Goals with Passkeys

For all these reasons we recommend Passwordless systems as a great goal. We ourselves are working toward implementing and using these systems incrementally in our business and personal lives where possible. But it has to be opt-in.

You can lead an animal to water but you cannot make them drink.

Old English proverb attributed first to John Heywood

Having the personal buy-in from each person who will use the system means they are showing up ready to learn something new and try it for its merits.

The Password is dead! Long live the Password!

General Hux isn't ready for the passwordless future with passkeys. The password is dead! Long live the password!
The password is DEAD! Long live the Password!

You didn’t really think we’d be giving up the passwords everywhere so soon did you?

Because it’s simply not practical to expect everyone to give up their current systems we suggest you phase in the Passwordless tech where you can. Meanwhile, passwords are still the best standard way to secure everything from your WiFi connected toaster to databases with trade secrets.

So we’ll end here by pointing you back to advice that’s still great for using BitWarden as your password manager for all the systems that aren’t ready for that change yet. If you don’t feel like you can remember your master password or secure it in a safe place like a lockbox, you should consider using a different trusted system like 1Password in the video below.

And if you are already using LastPass, you need to use a different system as fast as you can make the switch. While we used LastPass previously but a number of reports of breaches and a general negligence of security practices at their organization mean that moving to a better system is the best thing you can do for your security right now.

Josh at All Things Secured has you covered on a step by step guide to make the switch from LastPass to 1Password.

Make the switch from LastPass now. Thank us later. We will thank you too because helping everyone helps everyone.

Ready to ditch those pesky passwords for something more secure? Get in touch and see how we can help your organization make the transition!

Resume: Alan Youngblood

Alan Youngblood

Below is the resume for Alan Youngblood. Join us to celebrate his 10th year working in IT. Connect with Alan on LinkedIn!

Alan remains committed to our business’s clients and is constantly learning about new technology solutions to innovate and improve your work!

Learn more about Alan and Oak City IT’s work here!

Seems like just yesterday I was wrapping my head around Inception-style remote connections and virtualization with the support team at Global Knowledge. Now I’m managing Oak City IT’s microservers in docker on infrastructure we designed and built to serve our clients’ needs!

Alan Youngblood
Alan Youngblood
Alan Youngblood, CEO/IT Director

Download Resume for Alan Youngblood

2022-10-27_IT_Resume

Comparison of 2012 to 2022

2012

  • Windows 7
  • Mac OSX 10.8 Mountian Lion
  • Virtualization like VMWare
  • iPhone 5
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 2
  • Wi-Fi 4 (802.11n)
  • 4G Cellular Networks available, 3G still in wide usage

2022

  • Windows 11
  • MacOS 13 Ventura
  • Containerization like Docker
  • iPhone 14
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4
  • Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax)
  • 5G Cellular Networks
  • The CD (Compact Disc) Technology celebrated its 40th anniversary

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Vote in the People’s Choice Awards! We know that we make a positive impact for anyone that we do business with. We consider ourselves thankful to have such great clients to work.

Garner Chamber of Commerce Logo
Proud member of the Garner Chamber of Commerce

Please vote for us in the People’s Choice Awards for the best B2B partner.

Haven’t you heard what we can do for your business? Peruse our blog for quick-tips and deep-dives of info to improve your tech!

PC and Data backups are more important than ever. We can help you with that!

Need help managing or moving to the cloud? We can help with that too!

Have another unique tech challenge? Contact us to see how we can help you fix problems, improve systems, and reliably flex on your competition.

There are some challenges you face that may be beyond our scope. Talk to us anyways, we know a lot of other great people and businesses that are on that ballot. We would enjoy connecting you with the right team for any job that you have.

Mayor Marshburn at Tru Hotel Ribbon Cutting
Mayor Ken Marshburn at Garner Chamber Ribbon Cutting Networking Event at the Tru Hotel off of Highway 70

Much like the town itself, the Garner Chamber retains the culture of a small Southern town where people are happy to help and genuine. As the town grows rapidly we hold on to that identity because it’s what makes us such a great place. All of the NC Triangle area has wonderful people and if you’re around let’s connect.