Tuesday, June 26, 2012

How to Obtain Absentee Ballots in Missouri and Kansas

Many people do not know how to get an absentee ballot and often do not know if they're even eligible. In Kansas, all one has to be is a registered voter and 'e can participate in what the state calls "Advance Voting."  A Kansas voter needs to apply for advance voting by July 17 by filling out the application form. Return the application to the county election officer. The ballot will be mailed to the voter twenty days before the election. Fill it out and return it.

Missouri has more rules about absentee voting. The registered voter must be either away from his or her designated voting location, incarcerated, ill or physically unable of making it to the polling station, an election authority, or reticent to vote at a polling station due to religious belief.

The application for absentee ballot must be obtained by fax or in person from the local voting authority. To determine the appropriate office to file the application with, you can click here. A family member within the first degree (parent or child) can fill out the application in person. Active military personnel may fill out a Federal Post Card application and can dictate where to receive his or her blank ballot by mail. The filled out absentee ballot must be received by the local voting authority (via fax or mail) no later the Wednesday prior to the election.

If you have received voting or balloting materials without following the steps above, contact your local voting authority to determine the legitimacy of the documents.

Read more about Missouri voting exceptions here.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Future of Advertising Has Passed.

This morning, the BBC posted an article about innovations in the films Blade Runner (1982) and Minority Report (2002) that have come to pass. Both films are based on sci-fi legend Philip K. Dick's novellas. Some advancements from the films are far away from reality. Others came to pass years ago. Still others are on the cusp of everyday use.

Advertising innovation has accelerated the fastest, so it's no surprise that Blade Runner's futuristic representations of advertising in 2019 are now commonplace.

In an iconic moment from Blade Runner, Harrison Ford's vehicle is seen flying past an animated billboard on the side of a building.

By the Early 2000s, Tokyo already had these animated advertisements, as seen in Lost in Translation (2003) when a Dinosaur walks across the side of a building.

However, Blade Runner accidentally downplayed how dominant animated billboards would become in metropolitan centers. For instance, look at the absurd amount of animated ads in the following photograph of Times Square by Raindroppe.

Thus far in Kansas City, billboards are not allowed by city ordinance. However, a current push by advertisers to ease Kansas City billboard regulations is being duked out in City Hall right now. We may yet end up with advertisements covering the sides of our building
Another way ads were displayed in Blade Runner was by an "Ad Blimp" hanging low over the city streets, advertising vacations and residencies off world.

So far, we don't have blimps with the navigation capability to maneuver between skyscrapers, but we do have ad blimps hovering over sporting events and outdoor concerts.

Blade Runner was a critique of capitalism and classism and had a more pessimistic view of our opssible future than Minority Report. For Minority Report, the future was a backdrop to the story about choices, fate, responsibility and inevitability; therefore the fate of capitalistic prosperity in the US was not under attack. Steven Spielberg simply wanted to portray future advertising as accurately as possible. He hired futurologists to help map out how advertising would likely be used in the moderately near future of 2054. The road to all the advertising tactics in the film have been long underway.

Early in the film, Tom Cruise is jogging as an advertisement bounces from wall to wall as he passes them. It is following him. We learn later that his retinas are being constantly scanned and custom tailored ads for his character pop up around him. While scanning retinas is not yet used for advertising, custom ads that follow people around are alive and well on the internet and cell phones. It's called behavioral advertising. You can see it in use by visiting sites like Amazon, which keeps a log of your browsing habits and then recommends items that may be of interest. Google, Bing, Facebook and other megacompanies have already created complete profiles on us, our browsing and buying habits, our location and in some cases, our relationships. All of this is used to advertise to you more efficiently. If Google knows you like skiing, you will notice as you visit sites with Google ads ski vacation deals and skiing equipment. Currently, facial recognition software is more advanced than retina-scanning, so we may soon enough have advertisements following us around city streets and that's not creepy at all.

Holograms are on their way too. CNN already has a weirdly unnecessary one on set. Some TV companies aren't pushing their 3D TVs because holographic television is being developed and is only 5-10 years from realization.

The time in which Blade Runner is set is closing in and we already know many things it got wrong (namely people being allowed to smoke inside in Los Angeles).  But the advertising has outrun reality. Soon, we'll find out how accurate the predictions in Minority Report will be.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Watch Out For Father's Day Scams

Anytime a big spending holiday rolls around, scammers try to claim a piece of the pie. Because Father's Day revolves around spending money on Dad, everyone will be inundated with ads and emails for deals on power tools, oil changes and golf clubs. Scammer try to slip in a few enticing, but ultimately fake, offers into the mix.

Some scams want your personal information to steal your identity. When the Father's Day email deals come pouring in, don't click on any links within the email unless it comes from a trusted source. Some scammers use those links to load computers with viruses and malware that targets personal banking information. More complicated email scams may ask the recipient to provide his or her name, address, phone number, credit card number and more to apply for deals or coupons.

Watch out for suspicious emails that make it through your spam filter and for more information on other BBB Father's Day spending advice, click here.