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Supporting Problematic Artists And Their Arts, An Opinion



With reports of artists committing harassments, should you separate the art from the artist?

As the world becomes swarmed by reports of famous artists – musicians, comedians, actors, painters – being alleged or in some case convicted of sexual harassment, or hold racist, homophobic, and sexist worldviews, the conversation on whether we should support the art that they produce or not has dominated public discussion in recent years.

With this kind of discussions, opinions are usually polarized – with people believing that the art is a separate entity from the artist and others considering the opposite. Most common of the arguments in support of the art-and-artists-are-separate-entities is the claim that it is possible to respect the art but not the artist.

But, this argument is problematic as problematic can get. In the first place, there is no such thing as separation between the art and the artist. They two always go together or as one.

A singer who released a song will always be ‘the artist who released the song.’ We have not heard of a song from an anonymous singer in the 21st century, have we? When an artist creates art, the art will automatically bear the artist’s name. In the same manner, the artist will always carry the art in him. To illustrate, you refer to the art as “I Believe I Can Fly By R. Kelly” not “I Believe I Can Fly By Anonymous.” There is no way that you can separate the songs of R. Kelly from him, one way or the other.

The “inseparable” narrative is a necessary message to send to the artist to make sure that they don’t use their power to abuse other people or to echo an anti-black sentiment. It has to be recognized that these artists have a platform to influence people, the more that we support the art that they do regardless of how bad or rotten their identities are, the more their platforms will thrive.

When Manny Pacquiao, the world’s best and most achieved boxer, was previously criticized by Filipinos for his homophobic remarks saying “gays are worse than animals.” While many criticized his statement, a lot of his supporters have invoked the separation of his entity as a politician from his existence as a boxer.

This is where the line should have been drawn. Manny Pacquiao became famous because of his boxing; and because of the social status he gained from being good at the sport, the world champion also earned a platform where he can reproduce his anti-gay agenda. Moreover, the reason why he is a senator in the Philippines right now is that people love him for being a man who brought honor to the country through his boxing wins, and not because he deserves to be a legislator or he has the actual merits to be one.

The support that the art gets from people empowers them. It gives them the money; it gives them the platform that they have now; it gives them power. And it is this same money, fame, and power that they use to commit their disgusting acts. Bill Cosby would not have been invited to a Playboy event to harass Chloe Goins if he was not “THE” Bill Cosby. R. Kelly would not have been able to meet the underage women he allegedly sexually abused if he did not have concerts.

In one way or another, supporting the art of a problematic artist makes you a complicit to the act.

Meanwhile, the case of dead artists is where everything becomes more complicated.

While dead artists will not have any material or financial gain from the art that they created when they were alive, supporting problematic dead artists will only immortalize them. And as they are celebrated, the trauma of their victims or the effect of their words will be memorialized with them. This is precisely why a conversation regarding putting down confederate memorabilia has been happening all over. When an ideology is celebrated even after the death of those advocating it, the effect will be the same as when they were alive.

The bottom line of this is simple: Artists and their art are a single entity. They cannot be separated. We as consumers of their art should be able to take a stand against their behavior and crimes as we are the ones who make them. It is our responsibility to tell them that they are wrong and we don’t tolerate their actions. One way of doing this is by dismissing their art and making them understand that actions have consequences. We have to make them realize that their art is powerless without us because power is us. /apr

A consumer tech and cybersecurity journalist who does content marketing while daydreaming about having unlimited coffee for life and getting a pet llama.

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Privacy-Centered Web Browsers, A Marketing Strategy?

Privacy is a great thing to invest in, but the moment it becomes a selling point rather than an actual tool that helps is just wrong Click To Tweet



Photo: scyther5/Shutterstock

If we learned anything from conferences and events held by big tech companies, it’s that everyone’s banking in with privacy. Individually, web browsers like Apple’s Safari, Google’s Chrome, and Mozilla’s Firefox are all playing catch-up with who gets to show off their latest privacy features or who has the better software that keeps people’s information safe.

Recently, the Federal government started to crackdown how tech companies collect and distribute people’s personal information. Even though they’re about a decade late, they are trying to implement more laws and regulations with how data are handled in public spaces such as the Internet.

It may be true that the government still needs to learn and understand a lot from the inner workings of the Internet, but that’s not stopping the public from raising their concerns. With increasing awareness, people are demanding tech companies to stop exploiting their data.

As the issue of privacy is continuously tackled both by the law and the public, tech companies understand that confidentiality is today’s hot commodity. So, in different events, companies are announcing innovative measures in securing your data to gain public trust and approval.

Mainly, big tech such as Google, Microsoft, and Apple are all differentiating themselves from Facebook who has constantly been berated in public hearings and by tech experts for consistently breaching ethical privacy standards.

In reaction, Mark Zuckerberg has continuously made big claims of turning Facebook into a more safe and private space for its consumers. At the same time, the social media platform continues to fail to fulfill its promises.

The thing is, tech companies earn their dollars through targeted advertising, which is a lot more expensive than regular advertising. However, targeted ads require a ton of personal information collected through a specified period. Facebook does this well, but web browsers do so too.

In recent events, all the big tech companies have boasted that they’re improving how users experience the Internet through their browsers. One of the most obvious ones are changes in how advertisers find you through cookies.

In simple terms, cookies are tiny bits of information that you leave when visiting a website. Cookies can be used to let the website remember who you are, like save your username and password so you would be able to log in seamlessly on your next visit.

However, cookies can also be used to track actions made while using a particular website, which in essence helps the browser create your profile, including your interests, what you search, websites you visit, etc.

What browsers does next to your established profiles is to hand them off to advertisers. This is how you see certain ads on a page that seemingly aligns with your interests.

Tech companies, however, show off that web browsers now include specific blockers that prohibit the browser in creating your profile. This blockers purpose is to secure your activities, making it harder for advertisers to track you and cater ads.

In a sense, the move is a big leap towards a more secure internet ecosystem. However, these companies introducing a privacy-centric web browser are announcing the feature as if it’s a done deal. The inadequate emphasis on how to enable the blockers by accessing your settings menu is appalling. Users-wise, they hardly customize browsers based on secured privacy settings, instead goes with anything that was handed to them.

“By not changing the default, by making it optional, Google is relying on people not changing it,” Brendan Eich, co-founder, and CEO of Brave told Recode. “Chrome users may never know this is an option.”

This is where companies like Google and Mozilla veer away from Apple. Apple has been on the lead with this feature for years. Moreover, they have enabled these blockers by default. So from a perspective, paying more is getting more.

Privacy is a great thing to invest in, but the moment it becomes a selling point rather than an actual tool that helps people from getting exploited is the time when people should start realizing how big tech is only parading privacy over than implementing it.

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How Tech Companies Affect Communities In Places They Call ‘Home’



Silicon Valley

Tech companies are today’s driving forces in the economic world, mostly because of the introduction of the Internet. It allows a plethora of companies to create products and services, which they can communicate to, interact with, and ultimately, make sales across a very far-reaching and diverse audience.

Give or take, tech companies can easily crash and burn, but they can also quickly soar like rockets blasting off to space, and when they do, it happens so fast that the community around them would hardly even notice.

The general idea about tech companies revolves around the notion of success and the opportunities that come along with it. When a particular product or service is excellent, everybody knows it’s going to grow big, and it’s going to grow fast. Furthermore, successful tech companies bring in more jobs, and overall, strengthens the community it calls home.

However, there is a general misconception with tech companies; where all they bring are good tiding for the community around them. People or even the media hardly talk about the adverse effects these companies bring into the lives of the communities in which they decide to reside. That is, of course, until it’s too blatant to neglect.

In a very public demonstration, we have seen Amazon pull up a beauty pageant of sorts across all the cities in North America. They called it a search for the location of their second headquarters; we call it blatant capitalistic greed that aims to take advantage of the government’s resources and bend political will into their favor.

During the fiasco that was New York’s Long Island City, government officials were torn between giving Amazon the $3 billion project that it was asking, including a helipad, or refuse because of the tech giant’s reputation for going against worker’s unionization and other workplace misconducts.

Nonetheless, most New Yorkers were like horses to a carrot with Amazon’s bait of an additional 25,000 jobs and billions of dollars in taxes for the government. If you think about it, $3 billion was a dollar compared to what they would have gotten in return. However, the way Jeff Bezos’, the richest man in the world with over a hundred billion dollars in his name, wanted to offer the deal was outright out of blind greed as he could have easily afforded to build their HQ2.

On other news, Seattle is rivaling for the crown of America’s next Silicone Valley with the big tech having its headquarters in the city. Seattle’s also becoming a hub for tech startups.

According to a GeekWire report, Seattle supports 165,264 high tech software and services jobs, representing 42% of all office jobs in the city. Some of the United States’ most significant and most influential tech firms call Seattle home or are significant employers in the area, including Amazon (approximately 40,000 people), Microsoft (around 45,000), Accenture (over 1,200) and Google (over 2,000).

Due to the success of tech giants, the city has attracted more than 105,000 new residents since 2010, a population increase of 16 percent.

From the point of view, a very far end, you could see that people who work for tech companies have amazing job locations with beautifully laden landscaping, gleaming buildings, and an excellent payroll. But, you won’t get to see the average person who hardly works for tech such as a cleaner or entirely doesn’t work or tech at all.

In a report by the NBC, they stated that Seattle’s having a significant problem with housing. Specifically for people who don’t make enough money to afford them, at least in their city.

Quick-to-grow tech companies have given the residents a whiplash and could hardly adjust to how much the city is changing as more and more people flock the state for job opportunities, specifically, how real estate has drastically increased over the years.

As a summary, real estate functions mainly out of demand. So, when more and more people want a piece of land, the price for the chunk goes higher and higher. With fast-growing cities like Seattle, this could easily pose as a problem for people who still work with low to medium-income salaries.

Tech companies aren’t the ones mainly at fault, but it cannot be denied that this is simply an unavoidable circumstance from the situation. They may have helped 42% of the workforce, but let’s not forget about the rest of the 58%.

In conclusion, tech companies are not the spawn of evil, but nor they are the best thing that could ever happen to a community. There are pros and cons to every situation; it’s just worthy to note that people shouldn’t be blinded by big promises so quickly.

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Our Voice

RingCentral VoIP Review



We reviewed RingCentral's VoIP offers

VoIP has had a significant shift from a technology exclusively used by the early adopters or hobbyist to a widely adopted business form of communication. The industry expects an annual growth rate of 3.1% between 2019 to 2024 with a value ranging from 77.4 million USD in 2018 to 93.2 million USD by the end of 2024.

Undoubtedly, the business is exponentially growing at a breakneck pace, and VoIP providers are flocking in, offering packages that may or may not fit to what your business goals are. Hence, with our continued interest of unraveling the best VoIP provider, we are going to review key players in the industry and showcase opinions that will help businesses to determine solutions that work.

RingCentral Review

When it comes to the VoIP race, RingCentral is one of those providers that you won’t miss out not to mention. Aside from its flexible pricing offers, the company has established a solid foundation in catering the communication needs of small-time businesses and large enterprises.

RingCentral was founded back in 1999 by Vlad Shmunis, and since then, the cloud-based company introduced new ways to connect and collaborate remotely. For almost 20 years of providing VoIP services, RingCentral has significantly banked on its easy VoIP setup, competitive prices, and cloud-based management system. In a sense, the VoIP provider established itself as one of the big names in the VoIP market.


RingCentral Pricing Offers

As previously mentioned, RingCentral offers versatile and relatively competitive price packages. RingCentral starts things off with their Essential Plan that costs $19.99/month, which is suitable for small-time businesses with less than ten employees. The package supports up to 10 users with a four-person limit on its audio and video meeting feature.

The Essential Plan unlocks RingCentral 24/7 customer support lines and offers unlimited phone calling, 100 toll-free minutes, customer management and phone service administration, and other basic features necessary for small-time businesses.

The next tier that RingCentral offers is the Standard Plan which costs $24.99/month. The $5 difference from its Essential package provides businesses with a little more space to work with, especially with its zero-limit on the number of users. However, video and audio conferencing are still limited to four people at a time.

The RingCentral Standard Plan doesn’t have much of a difference from its Essential plan, aside from getting 1,000 toll-free minutes per month. Further, the package credits you the same basic feature with a multi-level auto attendant that works as a virtual receptionist for routing calls to the right department. The Standard Plan also credits you internet fax and call log support that will come in handy during end-of-the-month business reporting.

If you think the previous offerings are small enough to fit your business needs, RingCentral has a Premium plan that costs $34.99/month. The package poses a vast amount of support for your business such as multi-site support, custom app development and deployment, and SalesForce, Zendesk, and Desk integration. The RingCentral Premium pushes the audio and video meeting limit to 100 people with toll-free minutes of up to 2,500/month. You’ll also get Voicemail Transcription to Text support which converts voicemails to text for easy documentation.

The last tier that RingCentral offers is the Ultimate Plan for $49.99/month. The package provides the same amount of support as the Premium but boosts the number of minutes to 10,000 and the audio/video meeting bandwidth to 200 people.

How It Works?

Before starting things off with RingCentral, the first thing you need to know is if the service or the package fits your business goals. If the answer is yes, then there are two ways in installing RingCentral; its either you use your existing phones, or you purchase new equipment from RingCentral themselves.

If you opt to use your current desk phones, installing RingCentral is as easy as plug and play. Just plug your phones and computers to the internet jacks and install the RingCentral app to your employees’ smartphones. After installation, you’ll get to enjoy all the features based on the RingCentral package you opt to choose. And, since RingCentral is cloud-based, you can use its dedicated app for all your voice calls, faxing, audio/video conferencing needs.

With RingCentral’s plethora of features, you don’t have to rely on your traditional phone lines to handle all your business communication requirements. You’ll get competitive management support, technology-forward IVRs, relaxing hold music, call management, and other basic features put in place so that you’ll never miss a call again.

Comparison and Contrast

RingCentral is indeed one of the top tier VoIP providers in the market today. Its call management feature that enables businesses to customize their ways of communicating is one the best qualifier for RingCentral. You’ll get call forwarding on the go with easy deployment based on your business or department’s answering rules. You can easily configure automatic call recording and convert them to text for easy documentation. You’ll also enjoy auto attendant, a feature that directs calls on the right department, to ensure that all requests go to the right person and provide solutions at first touch.

However, comparing RingCentral to other VoIP providers, there are noticeable differences that one cannot just disregard. Let’s use Nextiva for example. Nextiva is also one to the leading VoIP players today, and statistically speaking, Nextiva is a highly-acclaimed cloud-based software provider with 99.99% reliability rate across NYC to Seattle.

Nextiva Pricing Table

Nextiva’s VoIP plans provide consumers more flexibility at a more cheaper rate. For $20, Nextiva’s Basic Plan equates to RingCentral’s Standard Plan with more added features. You’ll get additional support such as Advance Call Management and number porting for free.

Nextiva’s Pro Plan steps the notch even higher. You’ll get a customized greeting feature that works significantly in building your brand. Furthermore, you’ll receive Text Messaging support that enables you to connect with your team and customers at your own pace and desire. Limitation towards the number of people allowed for conferencing is not much of a concern within Nextiva’s VoIP packages. In a sense, you’ll get more added support at a price relatively cheaper than what you get from RingCentral.

When setting up Nextiva, you can opt for Nextiva’s professional installers to set up your VoIP lines for free. Through this installation method, you’ll get to work with Nextiva on how you want to customize your VoIP solution. This method also eliminates common installation failure. But, with regards to the accessibility of installing Nextiva’s VoIP, you’ll get the same amount of convenience RingCentral offers.

The Verdict

RingCentral is, without a doubt, a competitive VoIP provider. However, the limitations on specific price plans are very concerning. Its Essential Plan lacks mobility and essential features like auto attendant and automatic call recording that are necessary for today’s business needs; unless you pay $15 more to employ such elements.

While, if you compare it to companies like Nextiva, who are offering relatively the same or more amount of features on its basic plan, it enables businesses to manage communications with more flexibility without paying more than it should be. And, with today’s competitive market, getting extra elements at a price lesser than the other, is a motivational factor to choose Nextiva aside from RingCentral.

More importantly, in choosing your cloud-based solution, you should understand what your business goals are, and see if the provider offer such features. Don’t just settle with prices, and pick a solution that enables you to manage your calls and business needs on a much broader scale.

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