Author: ecostant

Dash Cams: The Silent Witness

Did you just capture that on your dash cam? What do you mean you don’t have a dash cam?! How are you going to prove to the insurance company it wasn’t your fault?

Dashboard cameras (better known as dash cams) are portable cameras that mount onto the dashboard of vehicles. They act as the silent witness by providing an extra pair of eyes and ears on the road that continuously record everything that happens.

Everyday in the news, there appears to be a different topic about incredible video footage that was caught using a dash cam. Whether it was the case of the tractor-trailer trying to pass a snowplow almost causing an on-coming vehicle to go over the guardrail or the case of a staged collision involving a Hamilton man in a McDonald’s parking lot, a dash cam was there to capture the action.

The Dash Cam: Up Close and Personal

Dash cams have become so widely available with a variety of manufacturers selling them for less than $100. Additionally, there’s a wealth of information available to consumers to help them pick a dash cam that suits them best. Sites such as Dash Cam Talk and Dashboard Camera Reviews have comprehensive reviews regarding dash cams that are ranked based on a variety of categories.

Dash Cam Pic

As the picture above demonstrates, these cameras are specifically designed to continuously operate by capturing all moments of driving, as no one knows what might happen in a split second. Think about it: we are surrounded by video surveillance every time we walk into a store or a mall since we can never predict what will happen in the future. So the question is, why don’t we have video surveillance protecting us while we use a vehicle?

The Art of Capturing a Scam

With insurance scams on the rise, there are a growing number of people who are turning to collision staging and insurance fraud by deliberately creating a collision as they try to full a fast one and make off with some cash.

In my opinion, I believe that our society has come a sad realization where we actually need to have video surveillance and cameras watching every move that others make as it can easily be used against us. I performed a quick search on YouTube for “dash camera scam” and there are thousands of dash cam videos out there that catch a scam in progress.

Every time I see one of these videos, I’m quite amazed at how the suspect believes they are able to easily get away from the situation by convincing the victim to provide momentary compensation for colliding into the suspect’s vehicle and making it seem like it was the victim’s fault all along.

For example, take a look at this video that took place on the 401 highway in Toronto.

In this clip, it in evident that the suspects’ car deliberately backed up into the victim’s car. Without the video clip provided by the victim’s dash cam, it would have made it appear that the victim was not paying attention on the road and drove directly into the suspects’ car.

As you can see in this video, once both men pull over to the side of the road, the suspect is simply looking for a under the table cash deal requesting $500 from the victim for damaging his car. But everything changes once the victim points out that he has a dash cam in his car that recorded this whole incident.

Insurance Fraud: We All Pay The Price

The dash cam in this situation was a huge game changer. If the dash cam did not record this event, the victim’s insurance company would have to believe that he was at fault by failing to pay attention and driving into the suspects’ car. As a result of this, the victims’ insurance premiums would have increased and the suspect would have got exactly what he was looking for, compensation in the form of cash.

Dash cams are an incredible tool for reducing insurance fraud and putting an end to scammers. When scammers create these fixed collisions by trying to make fast cash, we all pay the price. It takes up additional time for authorities, it increases insurance rates (as if they weren’t high enough already!), and it simply provides an inconvenience to have to put up with these things.

At the same time, suspects of these scams are also paying the price that they deserve. Dash cams are an excellent resource for capturing license plates and capturing the physical identity of the suspect.

Early Warning Signs

Occasionally, it’s possible even to detect an insurance scammer before the incident occurs. Warning signs such as inconsistent speeds, continuously switching lanes, multiple occupants in a vehicle, older model cars and rental cars, are possible sings that a vehicle may be committing a staged collision.

Recently, a Torontonian was found guilty of staging over 13 motor vehicle accidents resulting in fraudulent insurance claims totalling over $1.5 million!

Around The World

Staged collisions is definitely not something that’s limited to just Canada. All over the world in many different countries, dash cams continuously capture scammers and help protect the victim.

Some dash cam footage that captures scammers is simply incredible as it demonstrates the great lengths that scammers are willing to result to with the hopes of being able to sue the driver and make some quick cash.

A few of my favourite dash cam videos from around the world include a women who blatantly jumps in front of a moving vehicle and the man who instantly happens to have all of this insurance papers prepared the second he creates a collision with the driver behind him.

Moreover, dash cams also provide video footage of unexpected events such as meteor objects in the sky and a driver who pulls out a pistol in Russia to get in front of another car.

The Future of Dash Cams

Dash cam footage never ceases to amaze me. There are always new videos coming out everyday from unexpected situations that you might encounter in your everyday life.

I personally believe that it should be a requirement to have dash cams installed in all vehicles on the road. Dash cams, just like security cameras, help reduce criminal and fraudulent activity from occurring and help provide a sense of comfort for drivers. If new cars are being manufacturer to have reversing cameras and front facing sensors, why can’t there also be a dash cam installed?

So the question remains: what’s on your dashboard?

Advertisements

Meet Your New Employer: Google and YouTube

Twenty years ago did you ever imagine that you could have a well paying job without ever having to the leave the comfort of your own home?  How about sitting at home and playing video games all day while collecting a paycheque worth four million dollars?  Well fast-forward twenty years and you have today’s reality.  No longer do you have to work the traditional 9-5 office job, but instead you can actually be paid for what you enjoy doing.  You can now turn that hobby of yours into a career!

Online content creation has been growing exponentially in recent years.  With thousands of do-it-yourselfers, comedians, hobbyists, chefs, professionals, and countless others posting self-created content online, it has reshaped the way we use the Internet.

According to statistics provided by YouTube, there are over 144,000 hours of video content being uploaded everyday to their site alone!

As an active Internet and YouTube user myself, I have the ability to view hundreds of newly published videos from my subscribers all for free.  Whether I decide to view one of my subscriber’s new videos or search for an innovative video on YouTube, I have the ability to watch the video entirely for free in exchange for an occasional commercial or advertisement that would appear in the video.

From my perspective, this is a great example of how freedom of information is being utilized to benefit society by providing Internet users around the world with quality content.  This provides the best of both worlds as we get to watch videos for free while the creator of the video collects a paycheque for essentially publishing the video.  This is called a YouTube Partnership.

A Partnership Unlike Any Other:

Once someone’s channel has reached the specific criteria deemed by YouTube as “popular” and well received by its viewing audience, they have the opportunity to enter a partnership agreement with YouTube.  Upon being classified as a verified YouTube Partner, you have the ability to apply for the monetization of your videos.

As I browse YouTube daily, the advertisements have become something of the past.  I rarely even notice the ads that pop up from the bottom or the ones prior to being the video, as most of them have the ability to “skip” the ad after a certain period of seconds.

To myself the advertisement might not mean a whole lot, although to the person publishing their videos online, it means a completely different story.

The advertisements embedded within the videos are how the publisher collects a paycheque.  YouTube strategically places ads within videos based on a combination of the viewer’s preferences and the historical videos they have watched.

How It Works: 

So one day I decided to pay more attention to the advertisements being display in YouTube’s videos.  For example, recently, I was watching a few YouTube videos in a row regarding new cars that were going to be released later on this year.  Then, later on that day, I continued to watch more videos on YouTube and I started to notice advertisements that were being tailor directly to me based off of my previous videos that I watched.  I started to see ads for local car dealerships in my area.

While I certainly didn’t mind the ads at all, they probably had a greater impact on the person who published the video.  Assuming the publisher had a YouTube Partnership and monetized the advertisements in their videos, for every click on an advertisement that runs during their video, they would receive money.

Here is a basic example illustrating the video that I encountered.  The car dealership contacts YouTube to advertise in their videos.  Upon YouTube’s approval of the ad, they strategically place the ad in videos where they believe would attract the most viewers.  The ad then appeared in a video that I was watching and I clicked on it.

The dealership paid YouTube to advertise on their site and YouTube then made a profit.  From here, once I clicked on the ad, it shows that I’m interested in the ad and therefore the publisher of the video that displayed the ad receives a cut of YouTube’s advertisement profit since they helped gear my interest towards the ad thanks to their videos.

Providing advertisements within videos that users generate themselves, gives a great incentive to continue publishing quality videos that YouTube chooses to advertise in, while they simultaneously receive income for what they enjoy doing.

A Personalized Approach:

In my opinion, it really is a win-win situation: I can receive tailored advertisements specifically for myself, meanwhile the video creators can essential sit back and watch their passive income come in as they publish content that they enjoy working on, and probably would have published anyways regardless if they received money for it or not.

Within a matter of years, YouTube went from being “the new kid on the block” to producing self-made millionaires.  Some of the highest paid YouTube users include: Jenna Marbles (comedian; $4.3 million), Ray William Johnson (comedian; $4.1 million), and The Fine Bros (writer/director; $2 million).

In addition to having Google use it’s advertising ability on YouTube, Google can also publish advertisements on websites other than YouTube.

Outside of YouTube:

By using AdSense, Google can attract bloggers, travellers, and other content publishers (outside of videos) who post content on their website, in exchange for written advertisements.

Very similar to the way monetized advertisements work on YouTube, the content creators can opt-in for AdSense where Google will display ads on your site and you will be compensated on a pay-per-click basis.

google-adsense-example

Just like the above picture demonstrates (and no it’s not an ad on WordPress!), these advertisements are displayed on websites and allow the owner to be compensated for having the ads displayed, provided people actually click on them.

An Ever-Changing Industry:

Within the incredibly fast paced world of technology and the Internet, receiving money by displaying advertisements on your webpage or in your videos is always changing.  New competitors are looking to get a piece of the pie and tight regulations are always increasing.  Nevertheless, having the ability to do a hobby that you enjoy and sharing it with the rest of the world while getting paid for it is an incredible experience!

Social Media Identity: The Double Edged Sword

How many lives do you really have?  Just one?  I beg to differ.  Nowadays, it seems that people in our society are living two separate lives: a physical human life and a virtual online life.

Just think about the last time you logged onto your favourite social media network.  Whether it was Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, it’s as if our society can’t resist the minute-by-minute updates they receive by constantly checking these sites.  Whether it was the new selfie you uploaded, the status you updated, or the fan page you created, it’s as if our society has to be assured that everything they do in life has an online copy that comes with it.

What has our society come to that we can’t simply go out and have a good time with others without posted every detail about it on social media.  Whether it’s going out to a restaurant or buying a house, with our society surrounded by this social media craze, this is what it has come down to: if you didn’t post it online, did it really happen?

The Science Behind the Social Compliance

People get a serious psychological thrill by being reassured from others that they feel good about themselves.  Remember that photo you just posted of yourself and your best friend?  I bet you’ve been having the urge to check and see how many likes you received or what kind of comments have been posted, and so have hundreds of other people.

Since scientific research has been proven that people use social media as a tool to boast their self-worth and self-esteem.  Therefore is what you see online a true representation of what you expect in person?  Absolutely not.

With the explosion and wide-availability of social media in recent years, there have been brand new services and business that reply solely on social media.  There are hundreds of websites out there from across the world that are devoted to promoting your own personal Facebook posts and tweets from Twitter.  What has our society come down to that social media users feel the need to start purchasing Facebook likes and Twitter followers?

Facebook likes can purchased online for hundreds or thousands of dollars in exchange for countless likes.  This multi-million dollar business feels like it just popped up yesterday, but has a reputation of a decade in the business.  The reality of this business is that it furthers the belief of the dual life that we live.  Everyday there is essential a way to make our online life more and more unrealistic.  Anything from buying Facebook likes from a group of people across the other side of the word whom you never heard of before to the most idealistic photoshoped images.  Have a look at this video demonstrating shocking facts about social media.  And yes, the irony showing facts about social media when the video itself was distributed on social media through YouTube.

The Cold Hard Truth About Social Media

What is represented online of an individual is very never an accurate representation of what you would encounter by walking down the street.  With people having over a thousand “friends” on Facebook, do people even remember how they met half of the people they added on Facebook.  If you really had a thousand “friends” online and posted a simple status requesting help because you are moving houses, how many would actually offer to help?

This is a great example of the appearance versus reality affect.  It appears as if someone has over a thousand friends, but in reality (as a general representation of Facebook) I suspect that the majority of its users don’t even talk to their online friend base on a regular basis.  Therefore asking help to move houses, or walking down the street past that guy you never actually met in real life before but just have him on your friend’s list shows that individuals are really living two separate lives.

The social media craze has largely turned into a huge popularity contest by seeing who can get more likes, comments, and friends and have a very active online profile.  One can definitely have a largely inflated online profile (and ego), but be the complete opposite of a person in real life.

The Darker Side of the Sword

Individuals living the dual online and offline life have certain had the occasion to be caught in an awkward mix up between the two.  While meeting someone in person, it is definitely possible to dictate their personally, meanwhile someone’s online personality can easily de disguised.

For example, employers are continuously seeking out potential candidates by using social media to get an idea of a candidate’s personality and interest to see if their values are in line with those that match the organization to which they are applying for.

Searching for social media profiles of potential candidates can go one of two ways. There are some Facebook profiles that people would be so ashamed if future employers found them, that they have gone to great lengths of changing their entire online identify to hide what’s really underneath their profile.  Anything from changing their Facebook name to removing inappropriate pictures and videos.  On the other hand there are other online profiles that have anything from violence, to excessive alcohol to drug and paraphernalia with a publicly open profile.

This really gets you thinking.  Why would someone post online content that they know they will regret at a later date?  In real life people wouldn’t keep a photo album of inappropriate nude and drunken pictures.  So why do they think it’s okay to post them online?

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

Social media can be an incredibly powerful tool for reconnecting with long lost friends and meeting that cousin of yours who lives across the other side of the world.  Nevertheless, in the ever-changing world that we live in, I view social media as one large fad.  Take MySpace for example: once an incredibly popular social networking site has since exponentially lost a tremendous amount of its user base to Facebook.

Meanwhile, research from Princeton University predicts that Facebook will lose 80% of its most active user base from 2015 to 2017 (PC Mag, 2014).  But let this fact sink in: if Facebook’s users represented the population of a country, it would be the 3rd largest country in the world!

The Dual Meaning of Life

Over the years, social media has shown that people can act one way in person, but portray themselves as a completely different individual online.  Some people can be very introverted yet have an incredibly popular and social life online.  Not to mention employers are continuously using social media as their “go-to” tool to finding out inside information on people’s online life.  Meanwhile its users are getting a serious thrill out of posting their “second life” online.

This really gets are society thinking: what did we do before social media and the Internet?  Has social media change our life for the better or has it just created another life that we have to worry about?