Occupy Wall Street activists buy $15 million of medical debt

The Guardian reports on Occupy Wall Street activists buying $15 million of Americans’ personal medical debt.

Rolling Jubilee, set up by Occupy’s Strike Debt group following the street protests that swept the world in 2011, launched on 15 November 2012. The group purchases personal debt cheaply from banks before “abolishing” it, freeing individuals from their bills.

By purchasing the debt at knockdown prices the group has managed to free $14,734,569.87 of personal debt, mainly medical debt, spending only $400,000.

The group says that this was done to educate the public about the debt industry.

“Our purpose in doing this, aside from helping some people along the way – there’s certainly many, many people who are very thankful that their debts are abolished – our primary purpose was to spread information about the workings of this secondary debt market.”

Steve Ballmer has made more than $1.7 billion since resigning

Quartz reports on how Steve Ballmer profited from resigning as Microsoft CEO.

Either way, the stock is up about 16% since Steve Ballmer announced he would step down on August 23. That means his 333,252,990 shares have appreciated by some $1.73 billion.

Moto X’s sales disappoint: 500,000 devices sold so far

The Wall Street Journal reports on the disappointing sales of Moto X.

According to research firm Strategy Analytics, roughly 500,000 Moto X phones were sold in the third quarter, after the phone was released in August. By comparison, Samsung said it sold more than 10 million Galaxy S4 phones within a month of its April release.

This is bad news for Motorola. Is Google ready to roll out a Motorola phone that is capable of challenging other Android phones? At the risk of cannibalising its Nexus line?

The following makes me wonder if Google still sees a future for Motorola as a phone maker?

Motorola shipped fewer than 2% of smartphones world-wide in the third quarter, says Strategy Analytics, down from 4% two years ago. One reason is that Google pared Motorola’s product offerings from more than three dozen to just a handful.

Pentagon ponders “Plan B” for a world without BlackBerry

Sean Gallagher reports on Ars Technica how the Pentagon plans to ends its reliance on BlackBerry.

And as the DOD moves forward with its Mobile Agenda—an effort to largely move from desktop computers to mobile devices—its technology leaders are looking farther afield to make the transition. “This multi-vendor, device-agnostic approach minimizes the impact of [a] single vendor to our current operations,” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Damien Pickart told Government Executive.

In other words, BlackBerry is now expendable.

Once businesses start to move away from BlackBerry, if they haven’t already done so, BlackBerry will be in bigger trouble.

Instagram scam tricked 100,000 users into giving away passwords

Mashable reports on an Instagram scam tricks users into giving away passwords.

More than 100,000 Instagram users fell for a bold, effective scam called InstLike, an app that promised free Likes and followers on the photo sharing platform. The app asked users to share their usernames and passwords after downloading, turning them into willing participants of a giant social botnet.

This wouldn’t have happened if these people focussed on creating great content that brings likes and followers instead of artificially engineering engagements and readership.

Can you really teach entrepreneurship?

Teaching entrepreneurship to children.

The BizWorld Foundation is a non-profit organization that teaches children in grades 3-8 business basics, such as entrepreneurship skills and finance. The program inspires students to develop critical thinking and leadership skills that will help them become future innovators.

The business aspects is teachable but the children need to be brought up in an environment that encourages taking risks.

Bill Gates: Here’s my plan to improve our world

Bill Gates shares on Wired his plan to improve the world.

This realization led me to rethink some of my assumptions about how the world improves. I am a devout fan of capitalism. It is the best system ever devised for making self-interest serve the wider interest. This system is responsible for many of the great advances that have improved the lives of billions—from airplanes to air-conditioning to computers.

But capitalism alone can’t address the needs of the very poor. This means market-driven innovation can actually widen the gap between rich and poor. I saw firsthand just how wide that gap was when I visited a slum in Durban, South Africa, in 2009. Seeing the open-pit latrine there was a humbling reminder of just how much I take modern plumbing for granted. Meanwhile, 2.5 billion people worldwide don’t have access to proper sanitation, a problem that contributes to the deaths of 1.5 million children a year.

The article is a very good read. Take the time to go through it. And then sit down and reflect upon yourself.

Twitter custom timelines

Twitter has announced a new feature: custom timelines. Available on Tweetdeck.

Custom timelines are a new type of timeline you control: you create the timeline, give it a name, and select which Tweets to add, either by hand or programmatically using the API. Timelines are public, have their own pages on twitter.com, and can easily be embedded on your website. The rest is up to you.

Finally, a way to properly organise the chaos that is twitter timeline. Lists helped to make it keep up with tweets easier but managing our tweets has always been out of our control.

Apple’s surprising growth in Japan

Daisuke Wakabayashi and Mayumi Negishi report for the Wall Street Journal on Japan being Apple’s fastest-growing market in the past two years.

“Apple’s brand is just overwhelming here,” said Eiji Mori, a Tokyo-based analyst at BCN Inc. “It’s not about specifications. It’s not about rationale. It’s about owning an iPhone.”

Two factors in the iPhone’s Japanese success are Japan’s wealth and the degree to which its phone market resembles the U.S., a “postpaid” market where the phones are subsidized by carriers and sold with multiyear contracts. “The U.S. and Japan are unique in that sense,” says Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. analyst Toni Sacconaghi.

In markets where most consumers pay for the handset upfront, the iPhone’s big price tag damps sales.

This is great news for Apple given how the Japanese market is traditionally biased towards Japanese handset makers. And it is also important to note that Japanese tend to shun Samsung because it is a Korean brand.

About that Bloomberg report on next year’s curved iPhones

John Gruber asks questions about the claims made in the Bloomberg article.

And whither the 4-inch display? I would like to see any report of next-generation iPhones with larger displays explain Apple’s plans for the existing 4-inch size. Would it be relegated only to the second-tier C-class model? Or would they continue to produce top-tier models at that size as well? A person familiar with Apple’s plans should be able to explain this.

Another thing I’d like to know about future iOS device displays sporting new physical dimensions — the pixel counts. Will they be like the iPad Air and Mini (same pixel count, different pixels-per-inch resolution)? Or will they introduce new pixel dimensions? Again, any person familiar with Apple’s plans should be able to answer that.