Sunday, May 28, 2017

Two Free Apps That Make Your Android Phone Pay YOU


If you're a smart phone user, you're probably accustomed to paying a monthly bill, using your phone to buy stuff, etc. -- that is, your phone is a conduit for sending money from you to others. But it can go the other way. Here are two free apps that put money in your pocket. And yes, disclaimer-wise, those are referral links below. If you use the apps, I get a commission or bonus myself.

S'More Lockscreen Rewards is a simple concept: When your phone "locks" after a period of inactivity (as you almost certainly have it set up to do), and you come back to use it again, you'll see an ad. Swipe up on the screen and the ad goes away (or you can click on it if you're interested). Then you go through whatever your usual routine is for unlocking the phone. It's really that simple.

Every day, in return for letting S'More show you those ads, you rack up 10 "points," which actually means 10 cents. Once you have 200 points ($2) or more, you can redeem the points any time for a gift card from Amazon or a number of other online retailers. Yes, it works. I've redeemed my points multiple times for a total of more than $20 in Amazon credit.

ibotta is a little more complicated than S'More, but there's also potentially a lot more money in it. It's a cash back/rebate app. When you're getting ready to go shopping for groceries and household stuff and so forth (at lots of stores you probably already go to), you open Ibotta and choose from various products that you can get rebates on. Then you do your shopping, scan the bar codes that Ibotta offers rebates for, and take a picture of (or scan a QR code on) your receipt.

Just as an example, when I did the grocery shopping yesterday, I grabbed milk and bread (25 cents cash back on each, and it could be any brand) and Totino's Party Pizzas (50 cents cash back on two -- my junk food freak kids love them so I buy them anyway, and that cash back comes to about 20% of the cost). Oh, and a buck back on coffee (two major brands had rebates). Did the scanning while I unpacked the groceries, so none of this was wildly time-consuming, and bam, $2 back in my pocket.

When you hit $20 in accrued cash back, you can redeem your savings for cash (via PayPal or Venmo) or a gift card (Amazon, Wal-Mart and and a bunch of other retailers). And yes, I have successfully redeemed for a $20 Amazon card, so I know that it does actually pay.

No, you're not going to get rich by using S'More and ibotta. But you can probably knock down $10-$20 a month -- and that's $120 to $240 per year, which is nothing to sneeze at. All for seeing an ad now and again, and for buying the stuff you already buy at the places where you already buy it.

Friday, May 26, 2017

What if They Fought a War on Immigrants ...


... and someone fought back?

The Envelope, Please


Yes, really, actually. There's a kind of system that should exist, but that doesn't really seem to, and I want it to.

The system is roughly analogous to e.g. Academy Award Winners being kept in a sealed envelope in a locked safe until it's time to open them. That is, the user should be able to put a particular piece of information into a particular envelope/safe and have it remain secret until a particular time, at which time it becomes public -- and have it be reasonably verifiable that the information was not changed or tampered with.

Yes, I know that this is doable by, for example, encrypting a message and signing it with PGP.

But I want a simple web-based system for use in friendly game or prediction applications. It doesn't have to withstand the NSA, it just has to be a good bet that it won't be casually compromiseable.

For example, I want to be able to do something like this:

In another venue, dL writes "Anyone against nuclear disarmament is simply NOT a libertarian. Period."

Do you think I agree with him or not? And why?

I've already written down the answers to those two questions, and can't change them (here's where I point at the mechanism I describe to explain why). You'll see my answers at 5pm tomorrow, so let's see who can Guess Tom's Attitude!

That would be fun, and it would enable easy/casual prize games/bets as well. I assumed something like it -- an out of the box script or site, not just the tools with which one could probably be build -- existed, but I'm not finding it.

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