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The following are several freelance articles I’ve written in September and October of 2016. The requirements were provided by the client with the target length of 500 to 1000 words.

Galaxy Note 7 Recall

Living in the future is awesome, until it tries to kill you. Every day people are hurt or killed while texting and driving, not looking while they’re going while walking down the sidewalk because they’re focused at their screens, and let’s not forget the dangers of chasing Pokémon. Now a new danger, the robot rebellion may have begun in the form of exploding batteries in the Galaxy Note 7.

First and foremost, if you’re reading this on a Galaxy Note 7 purchased in the United States before September 15, 2016, turn off the phone. Now. Don’t stop, don’t collect $200 and don’t keep using the phone. Get to your retailer or authorized dealer as soon as possible, protective bomb suit optional.

According to the official Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Battery Safety Recall and Exchange page, owners of the incendiary device have several options. The phone can be exchanged for an approved Galaxy Note 7 before September 21st. The bomb in your pocket can also be replaced with a Galaxy S7 or Galaxy S7 Edge and have the difference between Galaxy Note 7 specific accessories and difference of accessories for the new phone refunded. And, of course, if you’ve decided that modern technology just isn’t worth the risk of destruction, you can get a refund from your point of purchase location. Bonus: Customers who replace their volatile device get a $25 gift card, in-store credit, in-store accessory credit or bill credit from select carrier retail outlets.

How do you know if you need to replace or exchange your phone? If you see signs of charring or excessive heat on your Galaxy Note 7, power it off and step away from the phone. You’re probably thinking, “What are the chances that my phone is recalled?” About 97% of the Galaxy Note 7 phones in the United States are being recalled, so it’s pretty safe to assume you and your phone needs to get to the store by September 21ST.

Now you’re probably thinking, “How bad could it be? We all know the media likes to blow things out of proportion.” Well, between August 2016 and September 15, 2016 Samsung received 92 reports of batteries overheating in the U.S. 26 of those were reports of burns, and 55 reports of property damage, including reports of fires in cars and a garage. That’s definitely not good.

Let’s assume that if you’re reading this you’ve already replaced your explosive lifeline to the outside world with a new, lower risk device (after all you still have to worry about walking into a tree while searching for Pikachu so you’re still assuming some risk). It’s not the first time that there’s been reports of batteries overheating and phone recalls, and it won’t be the last.

We are all so connected to our electronic devices that we can’t function without them. Having our cell phone taken away isn’t just disturbing, it can be downright painful. But, there is a big difference between anxiety and physical discomfort from not having your phone and the pain of burns caused by your phone.

If you’re still reading this on your Galaxy Note 7, turn off the phone. Get a replacement or exchange it. The discomfort of not having your phone will be nothing compared to what may happen if you don’t.


Self-Driving Cars Are
Missing Something Important

The future is here. Self-driving cars will be hitting the highway sooner than most people imagined, George Jetson would be proud. Like any time there’s a great leap forward in technology, there are questions to consider and concerns to explore. As developers, and humans, we need to proceed with caution in order make sure that we are protecting ourselves and others. At least until our robot overlords are ready to do it for themselves.

There are obviously some great things that can come from the use of self-driving cars. Like older adults who’s reflexes and sight aren’t as good as they use to be a few years ago, being able to preserve their independence longer because a self-driving car can keep them moving with a far smaller risk of car accidents. And imagine what a self-driving car could do for someone who can’t drive now, whether it’s because of mobility issues or problems with their site. A car that can get them where they need to go without depending on someone else would open a whole level of autonomy they’ve never experienced before. And let’s not forget the number of accident that would be avoided because a person who had a little too much to drink got in their car but didn’t get behind the wheel. It’s nearly impossible to image the depth and breadth of change it would have on society.

But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Self-driving cars, as they are today, have some serious issues to overcome. Technology has come a long way, but sensors, cameras and algorithms are far from perfect. There have been accidents, and one fatality, involving test vehicles – even with a human driver in the car. While there is no doubt that the time will come where all the systems are perfected and the vehicles hit the road commercially, there will still be one thing missing. Self-driving cars will never be afraid.

Fear may not seem like a necessary element in driving, but if you think about it, that’s one of the biggest factors keeping us alive every time we get behind the wheel. You may be a confident driver, but there is always the thought in the back of your mind that you are responsible for over a ton of metal and plastic hurtling down the road at a high rate of speed. And it isn’t always your own skills you worry about, it’s all the other people out there on the highway that aren’t paying attention.

A mother board and some sensors are never going to have as much to lose as a soccer mom with half the team in the back of her minivan. Circuits and wiring will never know the anxiety of a first time dad bringing his new bundle of joy home from the hospital. That’s the something a self-driving vehicle will never be able to understand and account for.

Maybe a self-driving car will never need to be afraid. The vehicle could have so many safety features that a fatal accident would be impossible. But until then, humans will have an important role to play no matter who’s driving.


MAS Withdraws Second Banking License Over Malaysia IMDB Scandal

Tuesday, October 11th, The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) announced it ordered the Singapore branch of Falcon Private Bank to stop operations. The order was issue because of serious failures in anti-money laundering (AML) controls as well as improper conduct by members of the bank branch’s senior management. This is the second banking license that MAS has withdrawn because of the Malaysia 1MDB scandal.

MAS said in a press statement that it will be withdrawing the Falcon Private Bank Ltd.’s Singapore Branch (Falcon Bank) merchant bank status because of failures at the Head Office in Switzerland as well as the Singapore branch. In addition, fines will be imposed on DBS and UBS banks for breaches of MAS’s AML requirements.

The press statement also said, “The actions on the three banks follow supervisory examinations by MAS into 1MDB-related fund flows that took place through these banks from March 2013 to May 2015.” MAS added that multiple factors went into the decision to withdraw Falcon Bank’s status as a merchant bank in Singapore.

First, it was determined that Falcon Bank’s Head Office didn’t protect against conflicts of interest while managing the account of a customer associated with the bank’s former board chairman, Mohamed Ahmed Badawy Al-Husseiny. MAS said, “The former chairman misled and influenced the Singapore Branch into processing the customer’s unusually large transactions despite multiple red flags.”

In addition, improper conduct of some specific senior managers at the head office, as well as the Singapore branch manager, impaired the efficiency of the Singapore Branch’s compliance function while performing its duties. The interference was so egregious that it substantially contributed to breaches of AML regulations. So much so that MAS revealed the Singapore branch manager, Jens Sturzenegger, was arrested by the Commercial Affairs Department on October 5th.

Falcon was also fined S$4.3 million, $3.12 million for the 14 breaches of money laundering laws. Those breaches included failure to inform authorities of irregular activities in customer accounts and not filing suspicious transaction reports.

Falcon was ordered to turn over 2.5 Swiss francs ($2.56 million) by the Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) in Zurich. The money has been identified by the watchdog as illegal profits. A review of Falcon by FINMA identified around $3.8 billion associated with the 1MDB Group that had been transferred to accounts at Falcon between 2012 and mid-2015.

A spokesman for FINMA said that they are continuing an investigation into Switzerland’s biggest bank, UBS, in connection to 1MDB as well as opening inquires against two former Falcon executives.

Falcon has also been forbidden by FINMA from entering any new business relationships with people exposed to foreign politics for three years. They added that Falcon would lose its license if there are any repeat offences.

Singapore has been taking a hard line in an effort to protect its global financial center’s reputation. Their no-nonsense approach and showing that they are not afraid to act is showing the international banking community that Singapore’s global financial center can be trusted.

Another sign of this effort to increase trust in its financial center, Singapore withdrew the license of another bank in May in connection with their probe into 1MDB. Authorities have frozen millions of dollars in bank accounts, fined banks and have filed charges against several private bankers. In May, for the first time in 32 years, Singapore shut down the Swiss-based BSI Bank’s Singapore branch to control money-laundering activities connected with 1MDB.

Breaches in Singapore’s anti-money laundering laws resulted in DBS being fined S$1 million ($728,067) and UBS S$1.3. In separate statements, both banks said that they would be taking action against the staff members found responsible for the lapses.

In September, Singapore had its Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Mutual Evaluation Report completed. The FATF is an inter-government body that is responsible for the development and promotion of policies at the national and international levels in order to fight against money laundering and the funding of terrorists. FATF recommendations are considered the standard for combating the financing of terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, as well as money laundering. These recommendations help to level the playing field for all countries and form the basis for coordinated responses to threats to the integrity of the financial system.

Another important aspect of the FATF is the monitoring of the progress of members who are implementing necessary measures, reviews money laundering and terrorists financing techniques and counter-measures. With an eye to identify national-level vulnerabilities with goal of protecting the international financial system. The Mutual Evaluation Report is an assessment of a country’s efforts to combat money laundering and the funding of terrorists.

Some people believe that the FATF’s September report failed to give sufficient credit to Singapore for its AML/CFT efforts, especially in light of the recent increases in prosecution of those accused of money laundering. While it is possible that some of the recent successes may have happened after the period of evaluation, it is important that that these efforts be recognized by the FAFT and the international financial community.

With the Monetary Authority of Singapore continuing to investigate money laundering, more fines, arrests and the closing of banks is sure to follow. These are all important steps to ensuring a safe and trustworthy banking system in Singapore, and between countries. The great strides made by Singapore are an important demonstration that with effort and commitment changes can be made to benefit the global community and should be recognized by the FAFT.

Please Note:

This is a sample of online content I wrote for a client several years ago.

ImplementationFest 2009 Marks New Direction for ADL Initiative

 They came from all over the US, Europe, South America . . .even as far away as Singapore! More than 250 attendees gathered in Orlando, FL for three days of presentations, panel discussions and small, focused sessions. The Orlando-based Joint ADL Co-Laboratory (JADL) hosted the annual event in cooperation with the National Training and Simulation Association (NTSA).

Dr. Kristy Murray, Director, ADL Co-Laboratories, said she was pleased with the turnout and the positive feedback. “We had a great group of attendees this year and a lot of good discussion.  We’re excited about the challenges in front of ADL and look forward to seeing everyone in Orlando August 10th, 11th and 12th for ImplementationFest 2010.”

On the first day the new ADL Initiative Director Mr. Paul Jesukiewicz presented the ADL State of the Union address, during which he explained ADL’s new plans for the future and introduced new partnerships. Reporting on technical directions, he demonstrated the successful international Multi-National Federated ADL Search and Retrieval (MFASRP) project and the new Immersive Learning Technology initiatives.

Jesukiewicz says, “We have the opportunity to take what we’ve done and move in some new directions. We’re forging new relationships and moving forward with our research and development efforts and renewing our association with standards and specifications bodies. Our goals include a harmonization of SCORM to engage a broader community and a generalized model that will support a wider range of content, delivery and tracking technologies.”

ImplementationFest also included keynote speeches from Mr. Daniel E. Gardner, Vice Admiral Ann E. Rondeau, and Dr. Jan Cannon-Bowers. To view the available presentations and/or video from the full program, go to IFest 2009 program and click the presenter’s name.