Thursday, January 26, 2012

Proposed Business Plan (Unfinished)

Okay, I've been thinking the last few days about using Google Plus hangouts as a source of news. So what follows is an idea that I can create myself and run myself, if I had some money to invest (or a benefactor).

The business would be Mobile news video provider, tentatively called Mike’s Hangout News Channel. It would consist of a web site where live video is streamed of various news events, and also I would stream live Google Plus Hangouts, with invited guests talking about a variety of subjects, from politics to technology to even Warcraft and entertainment.

The main source of income from this would be advertising on the web site, monetization from Youtube for archived broadcasts, possibly selling wifi time, but I wouldn't count on that, and possibly selling exclusive rights to certain video, but that would likely happen once in a blue moon, for video so rare it would generate interest.

The idea is to purchase a van and customize it so that I can a) sleep in it, b) uses my computer(s) in there, which means setting up either a generator or some other method of charging my equipment,and c) have cameras on the inside for recording of interviews and the hangouts.

I'd like to travel around the country or even the world in that van and capture events and stories from a unique perspective. I may even buy stories recorded by others for broadcast. But the main gist is to cover stories that no one else is willing to cover, from the homeless situation to Occupy (Insert City Name Here) movements and live breaking events like fires and their aftermath and other natural disasters.

Now to accomplish this I'm going to need money. This is where the benefactor comes in. What I'd like to do is borrow $100,000 from a bank and have the benefactor cosign the loan. I'd use some of the money to pay off my existing credit problems so I don't have to use a cosigner in the future. I'd use some of the money to buy a van (I could rent, but the customization might be difficult under a rental agreement, and I'd like to paint the van too) and to buy other equipment, such as mobile wifi equipment, and better quality cameras and computers.

The best part of this (for me) is that I could do it all myself. I could even set it up as a sole proprietorship the first year in a state that has no income tax (like New Hampshire - do I still have relatives there?) and once it takes off I can change to an LLC model and work from there.

With everything that's happening in this country today, not enough of it makes the news in the way it should, and I'd like to take care of that problem. There are already people out there covering the Occupy movements, and I'd like to get in on that and perhaps contribute other stories.

Yes, then idea needs to be developed more. If you have business experience, I'd love to hear from you! If you have money to invest or are willing to cosign, I'd love to hear from you. If you'd like to contribute in any way, I'D LIKE TO HEAR FROM YOU!

And if not, if you think this is another pipe dream, then that's okay. I hope to prove you wrong some day.

But at any rate, I'd still like to hear from you.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Google Plus Hangouts and Job Interviews

We're watching you!

A recent G+  article asked why not use Google+ hangouts for customer service. During the discussion, the topic of G+ hangouts used for job interviews came up, and that got me thinking.

Since the topic of job interviews weighs heavily on my mind (I'm unemployed), I thought, why not use Google Plus hangouts to conduct interviews? Here's one scenario:

A company needs to hire one person quickly. They could spend time and effort scheduling interviews, or they could outsource it to a company that uses Google Plus hangouts to quickly find applicants and interview them. The company that's hiring could even join in the hangout, or schedule another hangout if the applicant suits their needs.

The company saves time by letting another company do the initial interview, and then when the company is ready, they can save more time by joining a hangout that's already in progress, or they can simply review the video that the third-party company shot and go from there.

The potential employees save time and other resources because they can do this from home, using their own computer and camera. If the applicant does not have a camera or a computer, then the third party company can provide that for them.

Another feature of this is the ability to save the recording for further review. Say the applicant doesn't quite meet the qualifications of the job, but has impressed you in other ways, you can take that recording and use it for the next job. You've heard of saving the application for the next open position? Well this takes it a bit further, and removes another step from the hiring process.

In the end it saves time and reduces the duplication of effort. Everyone wins!

Well, maybe.

The major downside I can see in this is the lack of privacy. An interview done at the company who is hiring is secure and generally not recorded. Any interveiw done through a Google Plus hangout could well be intercepted, could be recorded and then could be used for both good and bad. Let's say you are an applicant and you had a bad day. A few weeks pass and you're browsing the web and you see yourself in a video of that interview, and it has gone viral, because it shows you throwing up, or worse. How would you feel?

An other downside is the loss of control. Sure, you can provide the third party company with a list of questions, but that doesn't mean they'll get asked, unless you join the hangout. And what about body language? I recently recorded myself in an interview situation, just to see what it would be like, and I was able to adjust the camera so that only my face showed. You can get a lot of body language from the face, but other cues and miscues won't be obvious.

With a live interview you can tell how someone dresses, how they smell, how they present themselves when greeting you. How firm was their handshake? How sincere is their smile? Much of that is lost in a Google Plus hangout.

So, while I think the idea has potential, for the first interview, for instance, I don't believe it will be successful in the end. But who knows. Someday all interviews will be conducted from your home or even from your employer's home.

 I'd love to be able to do all work from home, but someone has to flip those burgers, because they ain't comin' through the internet!

By Michael Fox

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

An Excerpt from my WIP

The following is an excerpt from my current WIP, 'The Tales of Mistress Chloe.' I've posted some parts elsewhere, but I wanted to post this here because it's very dramatic and explains some of what drives my main character.

A few notes before it starts: Chloe's soul used to be in the body of an old man. When he died the soul was captured and transported to another planet. It is now 16 or so years later and Chloe has grown up and returned to Earth to see the son that betrayed her.

Nanobots are tiny robots that are capable of a great many things, including taking the shape of humans, called nanodroids.

Yvonne is a child Chloe has adopted as her apprentice. She is about 5.

Chloe has made a study of the human race, and considers herself a psychologist. She can also read thoughts and emotions.

Here's the excerpt. Comments welcome!

The ship approached the island silent and cloaked. It was not a large island, really barely enough room for one to walk around on. I saw a middle-aged man sitting on a rock, talking to a nanodroid. The ship landed a few feet away from him and I led Yvonne out. The man jumped as he saw us but did not approach us. He was held back by nanobots.

I turned to Yvonne. “Stay here.”

She looked worried, but nodded.

I turned to Michael and walked up to him. He had been well-maintained by the nanodroids, clean-shaven, his body in good shape, his hair trimmed.

“Who are you?” he asked.

I felt my heart start to beat faster. I hadn’t anticipated a strong reaction to hearing his voice. I spread my arms and hugged him.

“Hello, son.”

I felt his heart skip a beat. A moment of recognition.

“I - it can’t be!”

I nodded. “I’m back.”

I felt his brain churn. “If the timing is right, you’d be fifteen.”

“I am.” I still held him tight.

“Why did you come back?”

“This is the first time I’ve been to Earth since my rebirth. I had to see you.”

“So you could gloat? Say ‘I told you so’?”

“No. So I can bring you home. To my home.”

“So the imprisonment is over then? Have I served my sentence already?”

“This was never meant to be a prison. It was meant to keep you safe until I returned.”

I felt resentment. “And now what? A new prison?”

“What do you want to do?”

“I want to go where I want. See whomever I want.”

“Tell whomever you want about me?”

“Would that surprise you?”

“No. Not anymore.”

“What, no ‘How could you do that to me?’ No ‘Why did you betray me?’”

“No. What’s done is done. I have a mission to accomplish here. Until that mission is done I want you to stay at our Antarctic base with my adopted family. Then we’ll all go to my new home world.”

“So it is another prison. With all due respect, ‘Dad,’ I’d rather stay here.”

I felt tears welling up. I released my grip on him and wiped them away.

“Is that a trickle of tears I see?” he said. “Something I never saw in my real father. How does it feel to be an emotional wreck? Oh wait, I can tell you that myself! It sucks! You were always about looking toward the future, but you never gave another glance at what was happening in the present. I reached out to you, but you left me under the control of your computer while you went out and preached peace, and your community system. You wanted us to throw away our money and concentrate on exploring the stars, but you never looked at what was happening to me!”

He started pacing back and forth. “And when I left the community and saw what was really happening in the world, I wanted a piece of it! I wanted to be rich, to be powerful. I suppose I was an easy target! They offered me money and land of my own. I just had to tell them what they wanted to know. But you know, Dad, you never taught me how to work all your little toys, because you never fully trusted me, or anyone for that matter!

“So when they couldn’t get what they wanted from me, they beat me! They raped me. They tortured me. And then I told them I could deliver you to them, and they let me live. And you were an easy target too.. I knew just enough about the nanobots to lower your defenses and let them take you. I knew what they were going to do to you and I didn’t care, because they had already done it to me and you didn’t care.”

“I didn’t know that you had defected or had been beaten. If I had I would have risked everything to rescue you!” The tears were flowing freely now.

“You didn’t know because your head was in the generational ship. And then you had the temerity to send my mother away on that ship.”

“That was her choice. I offered the same choice to you. You refused.”

“Oh yeah, because I relish the idea of staying cooped up in a small area for the rest of my life. Oh, but you arranged for that anyway, didn’t you? When I heard you died I felt no grief. I knew that the experiments you’ve been doing with souls would mean that you’d be back someday. And when the nanodroids came to take me away, I came willingly, because I knew I had made a mistake, but not in betraying you, but in betraying mankind. I deserve to stay on this island, with barely enough room to pace and nothing but a nanodroid, an unthinking machine, to talk to. No Dad, I won’t come with you. I’ll stay here for the rest of my life, as I deserve!”

He turned his back on me.

I stood for a moment, crying, breathing hard, then I turned my back and headed to the ship. I grabbed Yvonne by the hand, felt her own mind churning and dragged her with me. I felt her turn back to Michael and then we were in the ship. I buckled her in and then myself and I sealed the ship and prepared for take off. I resisted the temptation to look at him one more time. I felt the ship rise and only then did I look out. He was a small speck on a small island. He soon disappeared altogether.

I heard Yvonne crying. I unbuckled myself and then her and hugged her. Her emotions swept over me. I took her down to one of the bedrooms and lay with her for a long while.

“Those mean things he said,” she said, amid her tears, “were they true?”

I caressed her back. “From his point of view, yes. I did leave him in the hands of Addie, but I had so many duties, so many undone tasks.” I felt my tears return, and I held her tighter. “Sometimes it feels like my job is never done. That I can’t do the things I want to do, spend time with the people I care about. And even when I can, I want to spend it with all of them. I can’t concentrate on just one.” I sobbed for a few minutes and felt her petting my back. She sent reassuring thoughts my way. It made me feel better and I giggled.

“Who heals the healer?” I said. “Who consoles the consoler?” I sighed. “Well, one family member has been found. Let’s see if we can find another.”

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

My Philosophy

I had originally posted this on the Yahoo Contributor Network, but I'm not getting any hits on that, so screw them.

I'm not rich, or famous - yet, but I have lived life, though not as fully as I'd like. I'm sharing with you a few things I've picked up on my own over the last 51 years. 

1. I'm Agnostic, but there are aspects of religion that I admire. Some of the Ten Commandments, but not all of them: Don't Steal. Don't kill (I am a pacifist, killing and murder are the same). Sometimes you have to lie, but sooner or later the truth will come out. Adultery? Come on man, you can do better than to punish our inner nature. And speaking of punishments, I don't believe in an eye for an eye etc. I don't believe the Death Penalty is a valid deterrent. Yes, lock murderers up, but putting them on Death Row only costs more money. The money we spend on prisoners needs to go to educating them, treating them. 

2. I don't believe in Heaven or Hell, but I do believe that when you die, your soul just moves to a different body. I believe that because Nature doesn't waste anything. I think there are a finite number of souls on each world, because as man's population grows, the population of other soul-carrying life forms goes down. I think a stillborn baby is just one without a soul, for whatever the reason. I think ghosts are souls that have baggage that has not been stripped away with death, and until it does, they wander. I have as much proof of this as any other philosophy. 

3. We are defined by how we treat others. We as people, and we as a country. In any modern nation, there should be no poor, no hungry, no homeless, no sick, mentally or physically, who can't get help because they are poor or have no insurance. Everyone, regardless of their job status, should be provided for. If there are no organizations or philanthropists who can help, or they can't help enough, then government must help. Failure to do so only means that there is a segment of the population that no one cares about, and that is intolerable. 

4. That said, we are ultimately responsible for our own actions. If you find 3 and 4 contradictory, you're trying too hard. 

5. I believe that greed and lust for power are inherent, but the worst of it is taught. Just like intolerance. 

6. I believe there is someone for everyone. Unfortunately, that someone may be half a world away, or you might have screwed up the relationship early on. I know I did. That said, I stated earlier that adultery should not be punishable. I don't think it's a sin. I think it's human nature. I think marriage is a good thing, but with the divorce rate as high as it it, I have to wonder what's the purpose of marriage? 

7. I believe that one's sexual nature should not stand in the way of anything. I think sexual preference is determined by the soul, and does not change when you move from body to body. 

8. I believe that souls are manufactured by a force of Nature. You can call it God, but I have no name for it. It just is. I don't believe a soul can be destroyed. I believe it is infinitesimally small. I believe someday we'll find a way to locate it and learn about it. 

9. I believe that someday man will go beyond this solar system. I don't know how, but at the least we can build a generational spaceship capable of holding a few thousand colonists who can go to the closest stars and see if they can be inhabited by man. Or rather, their descendants will make that trip, because though we might extend our lives, the trip will take a thousand years. 

10. I hope that man does not wind up destroying himself before then. I've lived through the Cold War, when Civil Service would run drills every now and then, and on TV the stations would run test of the EMS, designed to warn us if an attack was pending. Really pointless in this day and age. Still, I think we can learn to work together to overcome our differences. The alternative would be Earth-shattering. 

11. I believe we can shed ourselves of the dependency on oil. In fact, I believe we must or that war from 10 will take place. Like we made the change from hunter-gathers to farmers and beyond, we must make that change from oil to solar. The technology is there. Use it. 

12. Last and hardly least, let us remember that our future is our children and grandchildren. Let us educate them. Let is teach them to get along. Let us teach them to hug. Let us teach them to lead. Let us teach them to make a difference. That is where hope lies.