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Stay Connected, Stay Sane

Technology has advanced to a place that allows for constant connectivity. Getting a hold of someone is as easy (and as impersonal) as sending a simple text message.   Where ever we go, as long as we have a smartphone in our pocket, we are within reach. This has been a beneficial change in many respects, but what are the negative effects of growing up in the age of connectivity? Communication is developing digitally; aspects of this will be positive where others will be negative. In this blog we will take a look at a few of the pros and cons of staying connected digitally.

The Pros

  • Being connected means increased safety. There was a day when breaking down on a dark highway was a life or death situation. Now, thanks to high range cell phones, help is only a phone call away. Doctor appointments can be made online, routes to emergency rooms can be Googled and there’s an app for diagnosing minor ailments.
  • Staying in touch is now as easy as clicking a button. Ask any soldier deployed over seas and they’ll tell you that staying in touch with their families is now easier than ever. Sending a message takes only a second thanks to highly advanced Internet connections and international bandwidth.
  • Technology lets you take your work anywhere. Thanks to the advancements in cloud computing, the definition of a workspace is now more flexible. Working from home is easy, and a practical option for anyone on sick or maternity leave.

The Cons

  • Being connected means being always available. True, it is nice to be in touch with those you love, but we all need some privacy. We all have days when we need a little time alone and being constantly connected makes that time more and more difficult to find.
  • Technology has made it more difficult to leave work at the office. It’s increasingly hard to walk away from a long day of work, knowing that simply opening up your computer can effortlessly access any project you left unfinished. While connectivity has been a great productivity tool, it also enables people to become workaholics.
  • While connectivity can be hard to break, it can also encourage us to detach from those close around us. While technology has helped to make communication possible at a remote distance, it’s also made personal connections easy to ignore.

Digital communication is simply a new way for us to communicate. However, it’s important to remember moderation when choosing how connected we allow our lives to become. Connectivity is not inherently good or bad; instead its merit is dependent on how you utilize it.

For more information on connectivity, as well as an interesting look at unplugging yourself from technology, take a look at this article. 

Tablets Take Root running a business

When I think of tablets — the iPad in particular — I think of watching videos, browsing the web, and enjoying games. Putting things off, in other words. But what if there’s a legitimate place for tablet computers in the workplace?

Infoworld recently ran an article about a New York law firm named Proskauer that equipped its sizable team of lawyers with iPads. This wasn’t merely a generous bonus for a job well done. Proskauer’s attorneys are now predicted to use their tablets for their primary computing hardware: “Today, more than 500 Proskauer lawyers use iPads to generate superslick PowerPoint slides, Excel spreadsheets full of sky-high figures, and verbose Word documents. Lawyers pass this electronic paperwork back and forth among clients. They even present material on their iPads to judges.”

The utility of tablet computing is especially evident in the medical care setting. As more medical practices change to electronic health records systems (EHRs), doctors and nurses are finding that using portable hardware is a natural (and necessary) shift.

And tablets are spreading far beyond the clinic and courtroom. CIO.com recently published a slideshow of tablets in action (hat tip to Infoworld). You can see these slim instruments at archaeological sites, on the battlefield, and even in the cockpits of planes.

For Proskauer, the switch to a tablet-centric office had its hiccups. “Rolling out the iPad actually turned out to be quite a significant investment in time, much more than I would have thought,” said Steven Kayman, chair of the technology committee at Proskauer, in an interview with Infoworld. “There’s just a hundred decisions that have to be made along the way.”

Call it the early adopter tax: technology trailblazers must solve hitherto unknown problems on the fly, with no template to follow. The law firm had to address these questions: Would lawyers pay for apps they needed or would the tablets come with a preset menu of apps? Would personal use be allowed? How would tablets impact the network — specifically security?

Though these questions weren’t simple, they were undeterred. And the firm isn’t looking back. “You’ve got to be forward-thinking,” Proskauer COO Gurwitz told Infoweek. “It’s clear the world is transforming.”

The future according to spam

Traditional spamming consists of sending out an extremely high frequency of emails from a spam-hosted account. In the early days of the Internet, the was an extremely profitable, though illegal, business model. However, the Internet has developed to a point where this practice is no longer viable. This doesn’t mean the Internet will soon be saved from spammers, but rather that spamming will soon take on a different form. The fundamental question is, why has traditional spamming declined? The second is, how will spam change to adapt to the new Internet.

Profitability

    In 1997, spamming was an extremely profitable business. However, in the past 14 years, the Internet has become an increasingly difficult place for spammers to navigate. The amount of hardware and time needed to run an active spamming business outweighs the profit. This means that spamming is more expensive than it’s worth and, with all things considered, a business model that manages to lose money. Currently, traditional spamming would pay less money per hour than a minimum wage job.

    While traditional spamming is no longer worth the money, spammers are a crafty bunch, known for adapting to new environments. In what ways will spammers change in order to once again make money?

Smart Spam

    Classic spamming was known for mass emails. This is a kind of blunt force approach. Now, these messages are routed subversively. Spammers are beginning to utilize classic hacking techniques. Legitimate email accounts are being hacked, and lower frequencies of spam messages are being sent from them. This technique was recently used on actor Simon Pegg, causing over 1 million recipients to receive a spam link from one of his accounts.

    While there will always be a security answer to new spamming techniques, the best way to protect yourself is through personal diligence. Always be wary of a suspicious link, even if it is sent from a trusted account. Be mindful of any suspicious Internet activity that you encounter and do your best to stay ahead of spammers’ tricks. For more information on how spamming is evolving, make sure to read this article.

How do you define the Internet

A several years ago, we all laughed at then-U.S. senator Ted Stevens when he described the Internet as “a series of tubes.”

In the same speech, Stevens also seemed to confuse the Internet with email, recalling how one of his staffers “sent an Internet” on Friday that didn’t arrive in his inbox until the following Tuesday.

We all hate it when that happens.

But in the midst of our laughter at Stevens’ expense, we secretly hoped that no one would ask us to think of our own definition, because, well, what the heck IS the Internet?

It’s that thing we can’t imagine living without. It’s the way we work, buy stuff, watch videos, communicate, share memories, conduct research, tell jokes, catch up with friends, etc.

But what is it?

Lucky for us, the folks at Business Insider (BI) have assembled a slideshow that walks through the basics. Check it out here.

Here are the salient points:

Internet = interconnected network; it’s a network of networks. The Internet is a collection of computers (servers, desktops, laptops, etc.) that share information via telephone wires and satellite links; these computers are all connected by a common software standard called Internet Protocol Suite (TCP/IP). Most us get connected to the Internet via an Internet Service Provider (ISP), such as AT&T, Comcast, or Road Runner (the three largest ISPs). BI: “When you connect to an ISP, your computer becomes a part of its network. That network is already connected to another larger network, and that network is connected to yet another network, and so on and so forth across the globe.” The Internet is composed of servers and clients. Servers are machines that provide services with other machines. Clients (desktops, laptops, smartphones, etc.) use these services. BI: “So when you sign online at work, your computer becomes a client that’s accessing a Web server. Every device connected to the Internet has a unique numerical IP address The web ≠ the Internet. Invented in the late 1980s by Tim Berners-Lee, the web “is actually a subset of the Internet; it is all the pages that can be accessed using Web browsers [e.g. Explorer, Firefox].” All domain names have a corresponding numerical IP address. Example (courtesy of Wikipedia): the domain name www.example.com translates to the IP address 192.0.32.10. The Domain Name System was created to make the Internet more user-friendly (domain names are easier to remember than long strings of numbers)  
The physical infrastructure that supports the Internet
As it happens, Stevens’ conception of the Internet as a series of tubes wasn’t far from the mark. There exists a physical dimension to the Internet. A 2009 Wired magazine photo essay, Andrew Blum followed the path of a single bit of information as it traveled from the UK to the California coast, photographing the physical infrastructure that makes such a long (and blisteringly fast) journey attainable. Here’s a look at one leg of its journey.

When our bit hits the Big Apple, it passes through the beating heart of the American Internet: 60 Hudson Street (right), in downtown Manhattan. More transatlantic and transcontinental lines come together in New York than anywhere else in the country. Western Union opened the building in 1930 as the telegraph junction between Wall Street and Main Street. The ducts that once carried high-gauge copper wire are now filled with thousands of strands of glass fiber owned by hundreds of networks. Techs physically connect them to one another in a “meet-me-room,” neutral territory run by a company called Telx.

Is there a meaningful difference between ‘tubes’ and ‘ducts filled with glass fiber’?

If Stevens were alive today, I might be inclined to send him an ‘Internet’ apologizing for laughing at his tube-based definition of the online world.

The need for consumer-based technology

Creating consumer-based technology has been a popular trend in recent years; developers have noticed success with their products by tailoring them to fit with consumer needs and trends. A perfect example of this is the Google search engine, known for its usability. The reason Google has been so successful is because the technicians who design the functionality behind the search engine do so in response to consumer needs. It is evident that technological innovation is being motivated by consumer trends, but what does this mean for technology on a higher level? Here are some thoughts:

User-Generated Content

Consumer-based technology has created a stronger market for independent developers because consumerist technology favors the creative.  Proof of this is the recent onslaught of user-generated content. Small and independent development groups create some of the most popular apps for the iPhone and mobile-based devices. If you want to build an app to tell you which restaurant is the best in your area, you no longer have to look to Microsoft or Apple for the answer.  Instead, you can look to the coding expert who works in your office.

User-Friendly Applications

Because consumers drive the technological market, technology has been developed with user friendliness in mind. Remember Windows 97? Had Microsoft not updated each version of its operating system with more user-friendly features, they may not have maintained their status as a leading OS developer. Consumer-based technology has motivated developers to design easy-to-use products, which has affected the direction of technological innovation.

User Involvement

With recent generations growing up with advanced technology, current consumers now want to interact on deeper levels with their technologies. Those products that allow greater interaction between user and device are quickly becoming the most successful. For example, the Xbox Kinect is a gaming system that allows the user to move independently of a handheld device in order to interact with the game.  As demand increases, Microsoft has already found more innovative applications for this. With a wave of a hand you can browse movies on Netflix, send a message by email, and navigate the web.

Many of these consumer-based technological advancements may seem to only consider the pleasure of the user and have little sensible implications.  It’s important to consider how these new technologies will affect the future.  User-generated and friendly content could one day allow hospitals the ability to develop personalized monitoring programs for each patient; code writing and development could be accessible to everyone. User involvement has endless implications for the development of new devices. Though consumer-based technology is motivated by profit, the possibilities for future technologies are still valuable to society as a whole.

To see some specific ways consumer technology is being implemented practically, take a look at this article.

A brand new kind of resume

A resume is not a medium in which creativity is widely expressed. It’s usually just a document containing important information such as work history, awards gained or practical skills. More often than not, it’s a page or two of white stock paper covered in 12 point Times New Roman. This convention is born from common professionalism, but as the professional world evolves with social trends and technology, this format has some room to grow. When formatted for a job that requires any amount of creativity, it makes sense that a resume should reflect the creativity of the candidate. This means stepping outside of the pre-accepted resume boundaries and allowing artistic flare a place to be expressed. Qualified applicants are creating some wildly inventive resumes that present not only relevant information but also their ability to think abstractly. Here are a few things to remember when either creating or reviewing a creative resume.

When Creating a Resume

Be sure to have a resume that is fun but also professional. Let your skills be represented in inventive ways without being so inventive that your talent is lost on your future employers. If you turn in a resume to be an accountant, for example, a classic style resume is most likely your best bet. However, if the job you are applying for is dependent on imagination, make sure to express your artistic side. If the person reviewing your resume doesn’t appreciate the added flair, you probably don’t want to work for them anyways. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  1. Be multidimensional. Designing your resume as an infographic will help you stand out as well as represent the many layers of your personality. Take a look at this example: Infographic
  2. Match your style to your personality. If you work best under deadlines, work that in to the visual aesthetic of your resume. If you work better in an open schedule, represent that in the same way. Here is a great example to consider. Design and style
  3. Utilize flair. If you are able to turn your resume in as a PDF, don’t be afraid to add specialized components to give a bit of flair to your application. This shows off both your creativity and your talent. Take a look at this example. Flair

When Reading a Creative Resume

What qualities do you look for in a candidate? Inventiveness? The ability to think outside the box? Intelligence? These are all traits that can be communicated in a creative resume. Don’t turn a blind eye to an applicant who turns something in that doesn’t fit your traditional view of an application. Instead, keep an open mind to expanding your view of what a resume should look like. Chances are if someone turns in a well-done creative resume, they could be exactly what your business needs.

Job seekers will constantly find new ways to set themselves apart from the crowd. A creative resume is a great way to do so, as it allows the applicant the opportunity to develop his or her own standard as it relates to the job wanted. Keeping an open mind when creating and reading a resume is the best way to screen highly qualified and effective candidates.

The Future of Voice Search

The Internet has become an increasingly accessible source of information as more and more mobile devices have been designed with online features. Smartphones are becoming more commonplace and are challenging developers to create new ways in which we can interact with the Internet from a mobile device. Once such advancement is voice search, a technological evolution of common voice recognition programs. While most users have experienced voice recognition in one way or another, few users have fully interacted with voice search technology. The idea is simple: provide a way for mobile users to search the Internet without using microscopic keyboards or scrolling through massive amounts of text.

 

What is voice search?

   

The Internet is dependent on the ability to search the seemingly infinite amount of information available online.  As more and more mobile devices are able to access the Internet fully, it’s become increasingly important that they are quickly able to search online content. Voice search streams speech digitally through the Internet to a remote database running computationally demanding voice-recognition algorithms that return corresponding text to a user’s search box. In basic terms, voice search uses the Internet to turn your voice into text so you can search the Internet.

This is all made possible by the recent advancement of cloud computing. Voice search uses the Internet to decipher your voice, where voice recognition traditionally used a device. The introduction of the cloud to this technology allows for unbelievable performance by way of accuracy and speed. The cloud is the main application that makes voice search far more advanced than voice recognition.

    Voice recognition has been a familiar technology to anyone who has ever called a costumer care line. Voice search takes the idea of voice recognition and combines it with cloud computing with the end result of a highly functional voice-based command option.

What is the future of voice search?

    We will most likely see an increase in the applications developed for voice search, as well as further evolutions of voice search technology itself. Integrating voice search with device control is also expected to be on the horizon.
 
    The most exciting evolution to come from voice search could be language-understanding technology. Currently, search engines operate by matching a query term with an index of words located in documented text. Language understanding, on the other hand, would search with more abstract fields. For example, a current search engine might produce documents containing the words “power control” if those words were searched, whereas a language understanding search would result in programs that could control the power of your device. This means you can put your computer to sleep simply by speaking.

    Voice search is a prime example of technological evolution being determined by trends in culture. As Internet access has become mobile, new ways of interacting with the Internet have been developed and those same developments will soon be implemented in multiple kinds of devices. Highly effective voice recognition and command technology is just around the corner, whether you use your device to search the Internet or not. If you’d like to find out more about voice search and its technological evolution, please read this article.

Tips on how to use web videos for your business

Web video is a very simple and effective way to convey information about a business, yet many businesses still aren’t utilizing it. If you’ve been wondering how you can use videos for your business, take a look at these great examples.

Testimonials

Sharing your business’ success stories is a great way to grow your business through word of mouth. In order to do this, many companies ask for testimonials – which satisfied customers are often happy to give. Asking for a video testimonial can make that success story more effective than ever.

Chances are, your clients know how to create a video and have a webcam built-in to their computers. If you are able to get a video testimonial, instead of a written one, it really brings the story alive to prospective clients.

Replace written content

Most websites are designed the same way: written content everywhere, with sparse images. In order to spruce up your website and prevent people from getting lost in too much text, try using video to explain your business.

Replacing a traditional “About us” page with a video can give people a better understanding of your company, as well as a break from potentially overwhelming text.

Educate!

How to” and demo videos are great ways to educate your clients and prospective clients about your business. Although you may not actually sell products that you can demo, there are still plenty of ways to educate clients about something relating to your business.

Restaurants, for example, can create a video on how to properly prepare an artichoke, or something along those lines, that anybody could find useful. Videos of this sort are great because they make you look like an expert in your field.

Web video is a growing medium and a great way to share your stories and ideas with your audience. For even more ideas on using web video, check out this article.

Have the Best Attitude for the Job

Succeeding in business is difficult to do without the right kind of attitude. It takes a special mix of ambition and personality, and the ability to be both forward thinking and conscious of those working around you. Business is built around a foundation of interacting with other people. Whether you’re working with a coworker on the job or with a prospective client, having a good attitude is the key to getting things done. Here are a few important personality traits for you to consider when evaluating your business attitude.

1.    Think positively

This advice is foundational to cultivating a good business attitude. A recent business study has shown that those who have realistic goals, often compliment their coworkers and show gratitude for even the smallest windfalls are the ones most likely to advance in their career. Having a pessimistic outlook can decrease motivation for personal and professional advancement. Staying positive will allow you to keep pushing forward towards your career goals. For more tips, check out this article.

2.    Be assertive without being aggressive

Assertiveness is one of the top traits of those successful in business, however it is often coupled with aggressiveness. The most important thing when attempting to be assertive without being aggressive is communication. When asserting yourself in the office, allow other people as much time to describe their needs as you’ve allowed yourself. When they are expressing their needs, try not to devalue their perspectives; doing so will help you stay open to meeting them halfway.

Practicing these tips will make you a member of the team and create an environment that allows for your career advancement. If you’d like additional tips, please consider this article.

3.    Be compassionate when dealing with conflict

No matter where you work, you’ll eventually find yourself in conflict with a coworker. When resolving the matter, make sure you approach the other person with an adequate amount of compassion. We all deal with stress; sometimes it even gets the better of us. Keeping your mind open when resolving conflict will improve your skills at doing so. Being able to effectively deal with interpersonal conflict is a personality trait that is sure to help you advance in any career. If you’re interested in learning more on showing compassion during conflict, take a look at this article.

Every type of business involves dealing with other people. Having a good attitude, especially towards your business and those who interact with it, will make professional advancement a realistic goal. These tips are small changes you can make in your personal outlook that will help improve your effectiveness in any work setting. Being successful in your business starts when you are successful with other people, and the best way to achieve that success is by having a good attitude.

IPv6 – what does it mean?

Virtually all of us have heard rumblings about the Internet transitioning to IPv6. What precisely it will mean, however, is still lost on many. Read on for an explanation of IPv6 and how it may possibly affect you.

What it is

IPv6 is a version of IP (Internet Protocol) that has been created due to the previous version having a limited number of addresses. IP is the method by which data is transmitted over the Internet. Running out of addresses essentially means that new websites will no longer be able to be created.

IPv6 enables additional addresses by using longer number sequences, which allows for a greater number of unique combinations (IPv4 used 32-bit addresses, where IPv6 uses 128-bit addresses). Today is World IPv6 Day, which marks the initial transition from IPv4 to IPv6.

How the transition may affect you

Most likely, some challenges will come about during the transition. Most problems you may run into will likely be related to the browser you’re using and/or the Web server of the site you wish to visit. Some potential problems include:

  • If you’re using IPv6 and you try to access an IPv4 site, you may receive a “404” error.
  • If you are on a network that only supports IPv4, you may not be able to access IPv6 sites – you can reconfigure your network in order to fix this.

Despite these possible hiccups, many people agree that you are unlikely to experience significant problems during the transition.

How to avoid IPv6-related problems

If you’re experiencing connectivity problems, there are a few sites you can go to that will help you determine whether or not they are related to IPv6. Try going to http://omgipv6day.com/ or http://test-ipv6.com/ which will both tell you what problems you may experience, if any, and what changes you need to make in order to fix them.

Although the transition to IPv6 may be confusing at first, it likely won’t cause too many major problems. For more insight into the IPv6 change, check out this PCWorld article.