Monthly Archives: January 2013

You Can’t Hide From Google Maps

A few weeks ago I wrote about Eric Schmidt, one of the co-founders of Google, visiting North Korea with former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson. The trip was an opportunity for Schmidt to speak with the leaders of North Korea about expanding internet services in the country. North Korea has long been isolated, lagging behind its Asian counterparts in most social and economic categories. However, this past Tuesday marked a big step in opening the country up to the rest of the world. Google Maps released a new map of the country complete with street names and, of course, a slew of visible death camps called gulags.

The people of the internet are known for their outstanding moral fiber and impeccable behavioral standards. As soon as Google released the new map, the good people of the interwebs took it upon themselves to fill in the blanks. A Google Maps search for “Gulag North Korea” yields results of 10 concentration camps across the country. The Bukchang Gulag lies just north of Pyongyang, and according to the fantastic folks writing Google+ reviews, it has all the amenities of a large death camp while still maintaining an off-the-beaten-path feel. Some mentioned that the “guides” were very helpful during the political re-education courses and the daily 3am physical fitness routines. Most raved about the convenience of the 24-hour torture chambers and the fat melting all rice diet. The more environmentally conscious visitors were excited about the Gulag’s small carbon footprint and ability to recycle everything from glass and plastic to dismembered human remains.

Now a more honest and ethical human being would probably turn their nose at such black humor, but that’s only a small percentage of the internet. Most had a laugh and moved on with their day. It will be interesting to see how North Korea responds, however. The internet is a platform on which opinions can be voiced. North Korea has spent the past few decades suppressing opinion in every way, shape and form. Hopefully Kim Jong Un has thick skin, because some of the fake twitter accounts in his name are downright vicious.  Unlike with those who voice their negative opinions within North Korea, the country will have a hard time executing a 24 year old pizza delivery boy in Akron, OH who lives in his mom’s basement and is currently struggling through his 5th semester of community college.

Opening up the country to the internet means more transparency. Kim Jong Un may never appear on an exclusive episode of MTV Cribs International Palace Edition, but at least we may get a little more information about the day to day lives of an average North Korean citizen. Completely unrestricted internet access in the country is probably a pipe dream though. It’s more than likely that North Korea takes the route of China and gives its people a watered down version of the most important invention of our lifetime.

Follow @JBITelecom for more hilarious and often inappropriate humor regarding anything and everything Joey Bell can think of.

Facebook Gets a Face Lift

Follow Joey Bell on Twitter: @JBITelecom

The internet used to be a place you could come and go as you pleased. Sure, you can go offline and maybe go outside and read a book, but you can never really leave the internet. This is particularly true for the younger generation, notorious addicts of their beloved social media. Even if you’re not online in a physical sense, someone is looking at your Instagram pictures, reading your old tweets, and creeping those Facebook photos of you at the beach last summer. Our e-selves are ever present on the internet and since Facebook recently went over 1 billion users, that’s a lot of information to sort through.

It used to be when you wanted to find something online you’d go to Google and type in some basic keywords like “Chinese food NYC”. The search algorithm understands that you’re looking for Chinese food in New York City and it would come back with the top results. So there you are, you have a list of restaurants to choose from. Websites like Yelp took things a step further by making searches more specific. You can, of course, still search for “Chinese food NYC” but then the results can be sorted by price, rating, reviews, etc.

Facebook search has long been the butt of the joke when it comes to searches. The Facebook search is useful only if you know a name or location. Let’s put together a scenario. You meet a friend of a friend at a party for the first time, we’ll call them Pat for the benefit of all genders reading this. Pat really likes the show Game of Thrones and you talk about it for a few minutes. From the conversation you find out Pat lives in Brooklyn and was at a Yankee’s game last week. You move on to mingle with other guests and don’t see Pat again the rest of the night.

The next day you go on Facebook with the intent of adding Pat as a friend. You type “Pat” into the search bar and get 100,000 results. Ok, let’s hone in more. Change the location to Brooklyn and you still have 5,000 results. You probably don’t have all day to look at every profile picture, so now what?

Enter graph search.

Facebook’s newest innovation is a power move game changer which totally alters the way users search for people or places online. Graph search allows for a more natural way of searching for information. Rather than searching for static nouns such as “Pat Brooklyn”, graph search invites users to search for verb phrases instead. You could type in “Pat in Brooklyn who likes Game of Thrones.” Take it a step further with “friends of friends named Pat in Brooklyn who likes Game of Thrones and was at Yankee Stadium.” You can get incredibly complex with how you search and Facebook still understands what you’re looking for. The whole system is based on likes and check-ins, so the more you and you’re friends are active online, then the better search results will be.

You can even search for status updates and wall posts. “Friends who wished John Smith a happy birthday” would give you a list of friends who wrote on John’s wall for his birthday. The potential is endless. The entire system is built in such a way that as our collective online presence grows, so too will the capability of graph search. Get as specific as “Skis liked by friends who went to Jackson Hole, Wyoming last winter” or “friends of friends who like Bruce Springsteen and live in San Diego, California.”

It’s probably worth noting that Facebook’s new search probably won’t topple Overlord Google as the most used search engine. However, since people are more likely to trust the opinions of their friends over a stranger, graph search could entrench itself with users as a solid number two search option.

The Sauce Boss Himself; Joey Gets His Blog On

This week’s blog post is special because the man, the myth, the legend Joey Bell himself took the keyboard away from his blogger minion and wrote it himself. That’s right, it’s a Joey Bell takeover baby! Enjoy!

The real reason I wanted to write this blog myself was to introduce a little about me and what I do. I also wanted to talk about the Consumer Electronics Show that went down in Vegas last week and has the whole telecom industry buzzing like a cellphone on vibrate.

If you want to know my life story, and trust me you do, you can read about it here. I’m not going to recap it all right now, but I will place emphasis on the fact that I’m the best telecom salesman the world has ever known. I know a lot about two things; saving people money on their telecom bills and making delicious marinara sauce. If you had read my bio, you would already know this.

My job is to make sure a business gets the best possible deal for their telecom services. Phone, internet and cable aren’t cheap these days unless you go through a certified bill slasher such as myself. People want speed and quality at a price they can afford and I’m all about making the people happy. I saved a guy so much money once that he named his firstborn after me even though Joey isn’t usually a girl’s name. Now that’s what I call customer satisfaction.

Anyway, I don’t like to brag so let’s get to some of the stuff that went down in Vegas last week. America’s Playground was host to the biggest electronics tradeshow in the world and everybody who’s somebody was there to show off their newest gizmos and gadgets. There were cell phones that work underwater, forks that told you to eat slower, and of course there was the newest projects from telecom giants like AT&T and Verizon. Both companies are putting an emphasis on higher quality and faster speeds in the coming years. Mobile 4G networks will continue to improve and that will give way to more prominent usage of features such as VoIP on mobile devices.

It’s usually the case that new technological innovations come at a higher price, but really these advancements can save you money. Think of your telecom provider like an all you can eat buffet. As the technology increases, so does the number of features available to you. With JBI Telecom, you still pay the same rate, but you can fill your “plate” with a lot more features at no extra cost. I don’t know about you, but when I get to an all you can eat buffet, I usually try to take advantage.

I’m pretty new to the whole social media scene, but I did have one of the office young guns teach me how to tweet and post status updates on “the book” as it’s called these days. So follow me on Twitter and on Facebook and you’ll get pure, unadulterated tweets and posts about whatever tickles my fancy.

The Sauce Boss over and out.

Head of Google Visits North Korea

Despite many in Washington pleading for him to stay home, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt began a four day tour of North Korea today. Accompanied by former Governor of New Mexico Bill Richardson, Schmidt is by far the highest profile executive to visit the notoriously secluded country since the passing of Kim Jong Il a year ago. Like the country itself, the details of the trip are being kept under wraps so not a lot is known about the itinerary. Some things are known however. Most notable is that Google claims the trip is a personal visit not affiliated with the company at all. It’s hard to imagine that when you’re the chairman of such a high profile company that you do anything without that company being involved in some way. It’s not like people vacation there after all.  North Korea is infamous for limiting its citizen’s access to phone and internet services so perhaps Schmidt is looking to open some lines of communication in a country that has long been inaccessible.  

Governor Richardson is no stranger to North Korea, as he has made several trips in the past. Many speculate that the delegation’s true motives revolve around a Korean-American U.S. citizen who was detained in North Korea for unspecified crimes. Governor Richardson has been involved with returning prisoners from North Korea in the past, but the details of the negotiations will probably not surface.

Schmidt and Google have long been outspoken in their beliefs that the internet should be a tool for all to have. Connectivity has always been one of Google’s primary goals, as evident by their massive fiber optic network undertaking currently in progress. Asia has often caused Google some trouble in the past, as China in particular is known for censoring Google results in the country.

It’s not really clear what North Korea would want with Google, but in a lengthy speech given on New Year’s Day, current leader Kim Jong Un cited improving science and technology as a primary goal for 2013. Working with the arguable King of the Internet would certainly help North Korea achieve that goal, but it has people asking about Google’s incentives in all of this.

There’s no denying that a larger base of phone and internet users would add some transparency to a country that’s been hiding from view for so long. Perhaps Google would provide some of the funding in getting North Korea online. Telecommunications is a huge industry so there would likely be a ton of companies looking to get involved. What we do know is this trip is high profile and a press conference is scheduled for after the party returns, so stay tuned.