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Why You Should Buy a Soundbar for your 4K TV

As televisions evolve, so do all of the equipment that go with it. You bought a 4K television because you wanted a crystal clear picture with bright and bold colors. It follows that your sound quality should also be top-grade. This is why many people have started to buy soundbars for their home entertainment system.

What is a Soundbar?

A soundbar is a one or two-piece system that functions as speakers for your 4K television. They’re specifically designed for people who are not able to install freestanding speakers for their television. Additionally, the sound output quality of just about any soundbar is infinitely better than you’d get with your traditional television speaker system.

These devices are designed to fit seamlessly into a very compact and slender space. Soundbars generally only use two cords when you hook them up to your television. This eliminates the problem of clumsy cords hanging out the back and around your entertainment system.

Most soundbars also play the sound back to you in surround sound. This allows you to immerse yourself in your show without taking up the usual space that a traditional surround sound system would. There are several speakers built along the entire length of the soundbar. You can set them and choose which output you want to use.

Deciding Between a Soundbar and a Sound Base

When you start searching for a soundbar, you’ll notice very quickly that there is a subcategory called a sound base. Both of these devices perform the same action. They give you crystal clear and uninterrupted sound quality. However, a sound base is designed to sit on a shelf or TV stand. They’re durable enough to support your television’s weight. Additionally, a sound base can’t be mounted on a wall as a soundbar can.

Why Get a Soundbar?

If you’re thinking about buying a soundbar, you obviously want better sound quality than your typical television speaker will give you. You’ll get greater clarity, a richer sound, and an overall better experience when you use a soundbar. Additionally, soundbars also support:

Dolby Atmos

dolby studios dolby atmos
Via dolby

Dolby Studios released Dolby Atmos to take their viewers listening experience up to the next level. They added layers and layers of sound to a traditional listening experience. This layering was made possible because the rich sound comes from above the listener. Any sound you hear can travel in a variety of directions. In turn, you get a surround sound experience that’s better than ever before.

DTS:X Sound

To get the most out of your 4K television, you want to be able to experience the sound that comes with your UHD-Blu-rays. This is known as DTS:X sound. A soundbar can take this clear audio and magnify it, so you get full room-filling sound. Additionally, it can help to project it around the room. It turn, you’ll get a viewing experience that matches your 4K television.

Types of Soundbars

There are generally two different types of soundbars available. They both perform the same task of enriching your audio experience. The mounting system is what makes them different.

Traditional Soundbar

A traditional soundbar is designed to sit right in front of your television. Some companies are designing them to blend right in with your television to increase the overall aesthetic appeal. They’re very slender in build. This makes them easy to set on a smaller television stand without a problem.

Wall-Mounted Soundbar

wall mounted soundbar type
Via expertreviews.co.uk

The second type of soundbar available is the wall-mounted soundbar. This is a great alternative for people who want to hang their 4K television up on the wall. Mounting your soundbar on the wall creates a clean and sleek look. You get mounting hardware included when you buy your soundbar. This allows you to install it yourself quickly and easily.

Reasons to Invest in a Soundbar

There are several reasons why people choose to purchase soundbars for their home entertainment systems. They include:

  • Aesthetics: A soundbar can add a clean and modern look to your entertainment system. They’re designed to be sleek, space-saving, and they appeal to people who like the more modern design.
  • Audio Projection: As we mentioned above, soundbars can project the audio up toward the ceiling of your room. This will cause the audio to come from all angles when you use the soundbar. You’ll be able to immerse yourself with clear, room-filling sound.
  • Sound Quality: People want their sound quality to match their new 4K television quality. A soundbar gives a sound quality that is unmatched by traditional television speakers. This includes the speakers on your new 4K television.
  • Subwoofer: If you’re after that deep bass sound, you can purchase a subwoofer to add on to your soundbar. You can also find a soundbar that comes with an additional subwoofer included. This will let you experience the entire range of sounds each time you use it.

When it comes to buy soundbar, there are several important benefits that come with this purchase. It’s important that you shop around and compare various options, so you’re sure that you find the correct soundbar to suit your needs. If you do this, you’ll get a sleek addition to your home entertainment system that gives you sharp, clear, and rich room-filling sound quality.

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The post Why You Should Buy a Soundbar for your 4K TV appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Debt Collection Technology Updates You Need to Be Aware Of

If you’re not on time with your bills, it’s important that you stay aware of the latest debt collection technology. From your smartphone to Ringless voicemails, debt collectors have gone high-tech to help increase payments.

While agencies argue that their methods benefit customers and allow collectors to complete their mission, debtors are left surprised and consumer advocates are beyond angry.

Here are the latest updates on debt collection technology:

Ringless Voicemail Drops

ringless voicemail

A lot of debt collectors are excellent in finding ways to test and defy the laws that put a limit on how often they can call their clients. One of those ways allows them to send voicemails directly to phones without causing a ring.

Due to a technicality, these messages don’t appear as calls but messages that show up as voicemails.

The Consumer Protection Firm’s attorney Billy Howard doesn’t fall in line with companies like Stratics Networks who argue that no violations of regulations occur because auto-dialed collections technically are not phone calls. “They’re trying to torture the language of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act,” says Howard.

Senior sales vice president Paul Gies of VoApps Inc. believes differently. Gies argues that customers prefer ringless messages to standard calling because it creates less pressure to respond immediately. Consumers can return when they’re able to without feeling forced. He adds that collectors believe the system works too well.

And it’s not only the consumer Gies believes he’s looking out for. Even clients tell them that they overwhelm their call centers with inbound volume.

Avatars

Friendly avatars can increase the likelihood of payment from debtors than when they visit typical sites. That is according to Tom Gillespie Jr. who works as the chief executive of BeGuided Inc.

His collection company, Access Receivables Management Inc., works under the idea that “nice people collect more”. They aim to turn around traditional interpretations of debt collectors by moving away from practices like threat and insults with characters like Zoey. This animated avatar appears in borrowers’ inbox and guides them through the debt repayment process.

Zoey and avatars like her have a wide range of character traits. From access to multiple languages to the ability to smooth-talk borrowers into repaying debts, these avatars offer a personal approach. They also have access to credit histories to allow for better payment plans for debtors.

“In the last year, we’ve sent out millions of emails” notes Gillespie, “We’ve had zero consumer pushback” when using avatars.

Speech Analytics

Cursing during conversations with debt collectors will be met with prompts provided by CallMiner Inc. software. It helps direct discussions back to where they need to go. These programs evaluate keywords used during conversations to identify emotions.

The color-based box system used by Supervisors incorporates the company’s speech-analytics system. Colors communicate the agent’s standing while interacting with a debtor. Green means that the conversation is typical and the agent is providing necessary information like “mini-Miranda” rights for debtors to understand their rights.

If a box changes color to red, it signifies a problem. Maybe an agent is experiencing difficulty or there’s profanity.

“A supervisor can consider barging in and taking over the call, or whispering into the agent’s side of the call,” CallMiner marketing vice president Scott Kendrick explains.

The Eureka program of CallMiner has multiple functions. It can provide a ranking system for agents and guide the negotiations for valid results. It can even step in and give better responses when an agent struggles to make an emotional connection with the borrower.

Games

Debt collection agencies like FidoTrack LLC in Vermont use video game tactics to motivate agents to compete against each other to improve performance. This shouldn’t be surprising, considering collection agencies are known for not caring or being reachable.

The president and founder Brett Brosseau justifies these tactics saying that “you figure a lot of people who are actually collecting are maybe on the other end of the phone in their personal life. It sucks to ask people for money.”

Agents at FidoTrack improve their sales by 19% according to Brosseau through these types of regulated games. He adds that consumer complaints are down as well with shorter calls and a better response.

The game-like competition between collectors may make work more enjoyable but debtors surely aren’t enjoying them.

Other Tactics

social media tracking

Skip tracing makes it difficult for debtors to hide from collection agencies because agents look through various social media to locate them.

While some collectors will merely use social media, others are taking more aggressive approaches. An agency in Texas, for example, links the Social Security Numbers of their clients to their social media accounts, causing upset among specific groups.

Spoofing, on the other hand, is a tactic employed by agents who change their area code to match the debtor’s local one. This tricks the debtor into responding. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau advocates for canceling this practice.

If consumers feel they have been mistreated, they have options. They can either complain to the right government agency or they can sue the agents. This opens them up to something called scrubbing.

Collectors look through lists of databases when they are scrubbing to remove potential hazards. These “banana peels”, as they are called in the industry, are people who have litigious records and are seen as unnecessary hazards.

The post Debt Collection Technology Updates You Need to Be Aware Of appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Big tech companies are looking at Hollywood as the next stage in their play for the cloud

This week, both Microsoft and Google made moves to woo Hollywood to their cloud computing platforms in the latest act of the unfolding drama over who will win the multi-billion dollar business of the entertainment industry as it moves to the cloud.

Google raised the curtain with a splashy announcement that they’d be setting up their fifth cloud region in the U.S. in Los Angeles. Keeping the focus squarely on tools for artists and designers the company talked up its tools like Zync Render, which Google acquired back in 2014, and Anvato, a video streaming and monetization platform it acquired in 2016.

While Google just launched its LA hub, Microsoft has operated a cloud region in Southern California for a while, and started wooing Hollywood last year at the National Association of Broadcasters conference, according to Tad Brockway, a general manager for Azure’s storage and media business.

Now Microsoft has responded with a play of its own, partnering with the provider of a suite of hosted graphic design and animation software tools called Nimble Collective.

Founded by a former Pixar and DreamWorks animator, Rex Grignon, Nimble launched in 2014 and has raised just under $10 million from investors including the UCLA VC Fund and New Enterprise Associates, according to Crunchbase.

“Microsoft is committed to helping content creators achieve more using the cloud with a partner-focused approach to this industries transformation,” said Tad Brockway, General Manager, Azure Storage, Media and Edge at Microsoft, in a statement. “We’re excited to work with innovators like Nimble Collective to help them transform how animated content is produced, managed and delivered.”

There’s a lot at stake for Microsoft, Google and Amazon as entertainment companies look to migrate to managed computing services. Tech firms like IBM have been pitching the advantages of cloud computing for Hollywood since 2010, but it’s only recently that companies have begun courting the entertainment industry in earnest.

While leaders like Netflix migrated to cloud services in 2012 and 21st Century Fox worked with HP to get its infrastructure on cloud computing, other companies have lagged. Now companies like Microsoft, Google, and Amazon are competing for their business as more companies wake up to the pressures and demands for more flexible technology architectures.

As broadcasters face more demanding consumers, fragmented audiences, and greater time pressures to produce and distribute more content more quickly, cloud architectures for technology infrastructure can provide a solution, tech vendors argue.

Stepping into the breach, cloud computing and technology service providers like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft are trying to buy up startups servicing the entertainment market specifically, or lock in vendors like Nimble through exclusive partnerships that they can leverage to win new customers. For instance, Microsoft bought Avere Systems in January, and Google picked up Anvato in 2016 to woo entertainment companies.

The result should be lower cost tools for a broader swath of the market, and promote more cross-pollination across different geographies, according to Grignon, Nimble’s chief executive.

“That worldwide reach is very important,” Grignon said. “In media and entertainment there are lots of isolated studios around the world. We afford this pathway between the studio in LA and the studio in Bangalore. We open these doorways.”

There are other, more obvious advantages as well. Streaming — exemplified by the relationship between Amazon and Netflix is well understood — but the possibility to bring costs down by moving to cloud architectures holds several other distribution advantages as well as simplifying processes across pre- and post-production, insiders said.

 

A Simple Guide to Understanding Cryptocurrency

The cryptocurrency market has grown. It has gone far compared to its status when it was just starting way back 2009. According to the updated list of Investing.com, there are 1,890 cryptocurrencies available in the market.

By now, you’re probably wondering what those cryptocurrencies are. Guess what?

If that’s the case, then this article is for you. This will give you a better understanding of cryptocurrency and the following:

  • The main types of cryptocurrency
  • The top cryptocurrencies and their differences
  • Pros and cons of each cryptocurrency

What is Cryptocurrency?

The prefix “crypto-” originally stands for cryptography. It is a technology that stores information to keep attackers away from malicious undertakings.

If you will connect cryptography to your history class, Allied Forces in WWII used to apply it to send and receive confidential and secret messages. Nowadays, computer technicians utilize cryptography in a lot of different ways. One of them gave birth to cryptocurrency.

You can’t examine the history of cryptocurrency without first beginning with blockchain. It was started by Satoshi Nakamoto for Peer-to-Peer (P2P) transaction using Bitcoin. Blockchain gave the response to digital trust since it records imperative data publicly and doesn’t enable anybody to expel it. It’s transparent, time-stamped, and decentralized. Everyone can access it with the use of the internet.

With cryptocurrency, people don’t have to entrust their wealth to a single company such as a bank to handle their money. Banks are centralized while cryptocurrency is decentralized and runs by blockchain technology. Blockchain serves as a public ledger which enables tracking transactions while maintaining the anonymity of the parties involved.

Three Main Types of Cryptocurrency

bitcoin

Bitcoin

It is the first one to use blockchain in 2009. A person under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto started it as a way to digitally and anonymously pay for goods and services between two parties without the use of third-parties to verify transactions. Several years passed, Bitcoin’s primary role is for goods and services trading. In 2013 to 2014, it boomed. It slowed down its pace and soared up again in 2017 until today. Bitcoin is the most well-known cryptocurrency made in history.

Altcoin

“Alternative Coin” to Bitcoin, it means that any cryptocurrency aside from bitcoin is considered as altcoin. And there are thousands of it available in the market. Altcoins came after the success of Bitcoin. More often, it presents as a better version of Bitcoin. Numerous altcoins are endeavoring to focus on any apparent constraints that Bitcoin has and thought of coming up with newer versions and competitive advantages.

Token

Some people find tokens generally fascinating. In contrast with the other two, tokens are special because they don’t have a particular blockchain. They are used to make purchases on Decentralized Applications. They also provide specific advantages like discounts. The dApps are built for the use of smart contracts which is why they use tokens.

Tokens have a value and that is the reason why people get them. Some purchase tokens to offer them later at a higher cost rather than get and utilize them right away on a dApp.

To transact using dApp, you must have Ether or NEO to make the necessary purchases. Other dApps are built on other blockchains like ETH or NEO. The nodes on the said altcoin blockchains still verify the token transactions. This means that the transaction fee is still paid using ETH or NEO and not with the token itself.

See Also: Cryptocurrency Trading for Beginners: How Can You Get Started?

Well-Known Cryptocurrencies in the Market

well known cryptocurrencies

Bitcoin

Pros

  • There are only 21 million Bitcoins.

There are only 21 million bitcoins to be mined in total. Since 17 million is already in circulation, the remaining 4 million bitcoins can be seen as a shortage for crypto enthusiasts.

This is actually a good thing. If there’s a lot of Bitcoin fans who want more of it despite the low supply, they’ll have to pay more just to get their hands on them. This can dramatically increase the price of Bitcoins.

  • It is easier to exchange than the other types.

It means that Bitcoin is easier and faster to convert into cash.

  • Bitcoin is acceptable in almost all stores than any other cryptocurrencies.

Hundreds of online sellers accept payments in the form of bitcoin. It is good for larger transactions because there is no charging on taxes. It also has lower transaction fees. Bitcoin has already established its name and that is why the trust and acceptance rating from the market is high.

  • It’s the biggest cryptocurrency.

Bitcoin is the king of all kings. It’s in charge of about 40% of the market. This domination means that Bitcoin has a huge liquidity and it has already established its name to public knowledge. Users do not have to worry about the malicious activities concerning cryptocurrency.

Cons

  • Fluctuation happens a lot. The price of Bitcoin changes almost every day. Actually, Mt. Gox, a Bitcoin exchange based in Shibuya, Japan collapsed and filed for bankruptcy due to Bitcoin’s price falling up to 50%.
  • A better cryptocurrency may replace Bitcoin. Hundreds of altcoins and many are still coming up. Bitcoin has been in the market for 10 years and any of the newer and advanced cryptocurrency may eventually replace the king crypto since there are other cryptocurrencies researching for advanced features than Bitcoin can offer.
  • It’s being used for crime. Many scammers are using the identity of popular celebrities or personalities to mislead others. Some fans of the artists are being victimized because they don’t know that accounts used for solicitation are fake ones.

Ethereum

Ethereum allows people to create dApps, tokens, and even smart contracts.

Pros

  • People who use Ethereum-built dApps will constantly require Ether.
    They’ll need it for the transaction fees as dApps run on the Ethereum blockchain.
  • There are newer projects on Ethereum.
    Arcade City, an app for P2P ride sharing where drivers and users are matched together, is being built now under Ether. An application, just like torrent, a file-sharing software called IPFS, will be launching soon. Ujo Music, a decentralized music platform where artists are being paid directly is also under construction. More projects concerning Ethereum will come soon and crypto fans shall stay tuned.
  • Speed. It only takes a couple of seconds to complete a transaction process in Ethereum. That is in contrast to Bitcoin which takes a minimum of 10 minutes.

Cons

  • Ether coins supply is greater than Bitcoin.
    This means that the scarcity for ETH is far from reality due to the fact that there’s a huge availability of the coins compared to Bitcoin.

Ripple

Ripple makes bank payments quicker which is why it’s considered as the banker’s coin.

Pros

  • Well-known companies have confidence in Ripple. There are financial organizations that have developed a partnership with Ripple. This is why it can be considered as a better alternative for you in the finance world. Gaining trust from the government, it has already manifested its power and influence.

Cons

  • Ripple is not decentralized. Ripple Labs, the company behind it, owns the majority of the tokens (XRP). They have power over it and if ever they want to, they have the power to sell all the tokens they have. This will definitely send the price down.

Litecoin

The blockchain for Litecoin was once a part of the Bitcoin blockchain. It split up when the update of Litecoin came. It has similarities with Bitcoin but Litecoin has distinct features.

It’s the first cryptocurrency to utilize the Lightning Network. It fixes issues concerning cryptocurrencies like scalability. It can process a lot of transactions in a matter of seconds.

Pros

  • Much faster and costs less than Bitcoin. Litecoin transactions only take seconds, just like Ethereum.

Cons

  • It’s only slightly better than Bitcoin. Litecoin won’t be that useful if Bitcoin improves into cheaper and faster transactions.

Lastly, taking the time to get a better understanding of cryptocurrencies is one way to know what you can get and what you can risk from using them.

See Also: Cryptocurrency Is On The Rise: Are You Prepared?

The post A Simple Guide to Understanding Cryptocurrency appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Real estate property manager and developer JLL launches a $100 million tech investment fund

The multi-billion dollar real estate developer and property manager JLL is getting into the tech investment game with the launch of a new $100 million fund run by corporate subsidiary JLL Spark.

Initially envisioned as a technology-focused business unit of the multinational real estate company, the firm eventually turned to the more traditional venture capital investment model as a way to get more exposure to all of the new technologies that are coming to market, according to JLL SPark’s co-chief executive Mihir Shah.

For Shah and his co-founder Yishai Lerner running the real estate company’s investment firm is the first foray by either executive into the world of real estate or property technology. But both men have been working in the startup world of the Bay Area for at over a decade.

In fact, the two serial entrepreneurs launched one of their first companies from the TechCrunch 50 conference way back in 2007 (it was a mobile app that mimicked Yelp).

The two eventually sold their mobile review business to GroupOn and began doing some angel investing. It was during that venture into the wild world of seed stage prospecting that Shah got bitten by the real estate bug while trying to buy some commercial real estate.

“I was looking at the process and was thinking ‘Wow! That is not a modern process,’” Shah said.

Unbeknownst to Shah, at the same time he was looking for commercial real estate, the commercial real estate industry was looking for someone like him.

JLL had put out feelers and hired head hunters to find someone who could take the lead at the firm’s burgeoning technology practice, Shah said.

“They had all sorts of internal initiatives bringing in new technology companies and services to their existing clients,” Shah said. “They understood that technology was going to transform all aspects of the industry.”

One of the first steps that JLL had taken was to acquire Stessa, which developed and sold asset management software for the real estate industry. But Shah and Lerner quickly realized that the buy and build strategy wouldn’t be robust enough for JLL’s needs.

“Over the last six months we saw how much innovation was happening in the proptech space and we thought it made more sense to launch a venture fund,” Shah said.

The firm will invest anywhere from a few hundred thousand dollars to a few million into seed stage or Series A companies with the option to dabble in later stage deals, according to Shah. The firm has made two investments so far — neither one of them in startups.

The commitments have been in one accelerator program, the New York-based Metaprop, which focuses on real estate tech investment, and Navitas Capital, which is billed as a later stage investor in the same space.

Both investments appear to be geared toward educating the firm’s two principals on the market and what’s already happening in the space.

The benefit that a corporate firm like JLL can provide to startups is the access to pilot projects where companies can deploy their technologies and, indeed, that’s the pitch that Shah makes to potential portfolio companies.

“Money is not enough,” he said. “There’s a lot of products out there, but they’re struggling with distribution.” JLL has designated a few buildings in top cities around the world to fast track new technologies and provide trial spaces for them to develop, Shah told me. “Our value as a strategic is to build that bridge and make that connection.”

“Creating this $100 million venture fund through JLL Spark allows us to continue to lead the real estate industry in bringing the best proptech ideas to reality,” said Christian Ulbrich, JLL’s Global chief executive. “It complements and expands our substantial ongoing investments in innovative, cutting-edge digital solutions, which is a core part of our Beyond strategic vision and commitment to achieve ambitions for our clients.”

 

How to Easily Build Your Website with AI

If you want your business to succeed in the modern world, you’re going to have to think long and hard about how to establish your online presence.

The first thing you should do is put yourself in the shoes of the client that you are trying to win over. Ask yourself: where’s the first place they’re going to look?

You guessed it – Google.

Searching on the Internet is by far the fastest way to get access to information about anything. This is why most people don’t look anywhere else.

Technology is quickly changing the way we do business. With that, our perspective also needs to change if we want to stay on top of our marketing game.

Your Online Presence

If you want your business to be found by your clientele, you have to establish a presence in the very place that they’re going to look – the world wide web. This is what having an online presence means.

If you don’t have a website or a page on social media yet, you need to ask yourself – what exactly is stopping you from doing so?

Is it your time or budget? Or are you simply clueless about what a good website is and what it should be able to offer to your clientele?

Many people think that they aren’t tech savvy enough to start with it. However, the truth is that you don’t really need to be proficient about technology at all. The tools we have access to these days are so advanced.

I assure you that establishing an online presence and building a website is not as difficult as it used to be in the past. One of the main reasons for that is the fact that we have access to artificial intelligence.

What is Artificial Intelligence?

artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence is a computer’s ability to think instead of just being told what to do.

When you open a browser and type in a web address, your computer takes you to that address. Basically, it is just following orders and you’re the one doing the actual thinking.

AI is the next step. It can improvise and come up with solutions independently.

In other words, with AI, you don’t have to be extra specific. It can think for itself.

An AI website builder is a piece of software that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to listen to your input and create something based on that. It listens to you and then it takes some extra steps to build your website.

The best thing about it is that AI guides you throughout the process. It doesn’t need you to be tech savvy at all.

AI website builders out there are Bookmark, Firedrop, The Grid, and Wix ADI. Read reviews if you’re interested.

Advantages of AI Website Builders

There are plenty of advantages of using artificial intelligence to build your website.

But first, let’s look at the alternatives.

One of them is doing the whole thing yourself– designing your page, adding functionality, and fiddling with databases. It’s a very complex process that requires skills you can’t just pick up in a day or two.

Another alternative is paying someone to do it for you. But even an experienced web developer needs time to work on your website before it can go live. Dedicated web development companies will take a month or two and they can be quite expensive.

Using an AI website builder solves both of these problems. It’s much cheaper and you can have your fully functional website available within the day.

Will my website be unique?

Yes.

A common misconception with AI website builders is that your website won’t be as unique as it needs to be. And while it is possible to see where this kind of concern comes from, it really isn’t as much of a problem as most people are led to believe.

Your website won’t just be built by a computer. It will be built by you and the computer together.

There’s a big difference. And as I mentioned, the results you’ll receive will directly depend on the input you provide.

Can AI optimize my website?

ai website

Again, yes.

Most modern website builders do a lot more than just build up a web page that looks good and works well. They can also help you with SEO (search engine optimization) and your site’s user-friendliness.

A lot of those things will be up to you but the good thing is that it is pretty hard to mess up when you’re using AI. All the options that you have at your disposal will already lead you to a fairly optimized website that is ready to go.

Embrace AI

Artificial intelligence is slowly taking ground in modern society. As technology evolves further, we’re bound to see more of it in almost every aspect of our lives.

Just the fact that AI has come far enough to aid us in a process as complex as web development is already amazing. It is definitely something you should be taking advantage of as a small business.

So, if you need a website pronto and aren’t overstocked with time and money at the moment, AI is the way to go.

See Also: 5 Reasons Why You Should Consider AI Automation for Small Business

The post How to Easily Build Your Website with AI appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

6 Ways to Constantly Improve IT Skills

As technology continues to develop, the same should happen to your IT skills. Employers only seek out the best IT specialists and the only way to get ahead of your competition is to keep learning and refining your skills.

Becoming complacent is the worst thing any professional could do as this makes you less likely to progress towards your ultimate goals.

As a guide, here are sure ways to consistently improve your IT skills.

Establish Weak Points

read technical books

If there are specific weak points that are dragging you down, consider doing something about them.

If, for example, coding is not your strongest point, figure out why this is the case. It may be that you need extra mentoring.

Reading technical books is hugely beneficial, too. They typically contain helpful information and step-by-step guides which can help you grow as an IT specialist.

Overcome Fear of Automation

Firstly, to self-improve, you must feel confident about yourself and your position in the IT world. Regardless of the industry, the development of automation is inevitable but this should not impact your career potential.

In a report by CompTIA, they stated that an estimated figure of 5.4 million US individuals was hired in the information technology sector. Compared to previous years, this reflects an increase of 2.1%. In 2018, people should expect to see the same growth.

Knowing this, IT professionals can feel safe that their jobs will not be replaced by automation anytime soon.

Consider Further Certifications

You might already have a resume filled with qualifications but these can quickly become outdated and irrelevant in the IT industry.

Certain certifications hold value for IT pros and are more meaningful than others. These include the CAP (Certified Analytics Professional), MCSE (Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert) and more.

As identified by Indeed.com, the most in-demand IT jobs include Java Developer, Network Engineer, and Software Developer. Therefore, adapting your resume to suit these types of jobs will give you an advantage over others.

Work Part-Time or Find Freelance Opportunities

freelance work part time

Education is one of the best ways of learning more of what you enjoy. However, work experience is even better. Taking what you learn and putting it into practice not only improves your IT skills but your transferable skills, too.

Boasting great initiative, problem-solving, and decision-making skills will look fantastic on your resume and give you a well-rounded profile.

Regarding work opportunities, it is great to get more exposure by taking up opportunities you would not normally accept. By doing different projects and jobs, you are learning a variety of things, whether it is a new computer programme or application.

Keep Up-To-Date with Cyber News

A brilliant way of staying fresh with new tech is to keep on top of tech news. Do it even if you have a really packed schedule. Read discussions, watch the news, and join forums so you can stay updated with the latest technology.

Take Advantage of the Free Stuff

Keep on the lookout for industry conferences and webcasts, which happen all year round. There are plenty of online guides which can keep you informed of worldwide tech events.

Typically, these events give inspirational talks, information about new technology, and heavy debates about political changes. Attending these are also a brilliant way of networking and promoting yourself to IT firms.

Online resources, like webinars, articles, podcasts, and videos, are great, too. By using online resources, you have the benefit of learning during your free time whilst choosing specifically what skills you want to focus on.

The key is to stay one step ahead of the game, especially in a world where technology has no limits. With dedication and hard work, you can go from professional to elite and feel confident about your place in the IT world.

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Baidu’s streaming video service iQiyi falls 13.6% in Nasdaq debut

The streaming video service iQiyi, a business owned by China’s online search giant Baidu, dropped 13.6% in its first day of trading on the Nasdaq — closing at $15.55, or down $2.45 from its opening price of $18.

The company still managed to pull off one of the largest public offerings by a Chinese tech company in the past two years raising $2.25 billion — the only Chinese technology company to make a larger splash in U.S. markets is Alibaba — the commercial technology juggernaut which raised $21.5 billion in its public offering on the New York Stock Exchange in 2014.

“It’s a special day and an exciting day for iQiyi, and I will say it’s also an exciting day for the Chinese internet,” said Baidu chief executive Robin Li of the iQiyi public offering.”Eight years ago, when we got started, we were not the first one, we were not the largest one, but we gradually worked our way up, and caught up and surpassed everyone. It has been not an easy journey, but finally we are public. We surpassed everyone. That’s because we have a very strong team. I have a full confidence on Gong Yu and on the whole iQiyi Team.”

Over its eight year history there’s no doubt that iQiyi has gone from laggardly to lustrous in the Chinese streaming video market. Baidu’s offering and Tencent’s video service have both managed to overtake the previous market leader Youku Tudou, which was acquired by Alibaba in 2016.

Tencent leveraged its 980 million monthly active users on the WeChat mobile messaging app, the 653 million monthly active users on its older QQ messaging platform and the company’s attendant social network (think Facebook) to juice growth of its video streaming offering, according to analysis from The Motley Fool.

For Baidu, the company’s pole position for online search became critical to the growth of iQiyi — along with a partnership to China’s ubiquitous hardware manufacturer and technology developer Xiaomi . The company also locked in early content licensing deals with big Hollywood studios like Lions Gate and Paramount — and a deal with Netflix to juice its subscriber base in China. By the end of 2017, Baidu was claiming more than 487 million monthly active users for the service.

The former leader in China’s video streaming market, Youku Tudou, seems to have wilted under the weight of its acquirer’s platform. Alibaba’s ecommerce was never a natural fit with online video streaming.

For all of their massive user bases each of China’s leading video streaming services face a profitability problem. For its part, iQiyi went to market with substantial losses of $574.4 million for the last fiscal year.

 

 

Digital Marketing for Business: Is It A Must?

Why is content going digital?

There are plenty of people who prefer going to movie theaters to see new movies. There are still lots of folks who enjoy a live musical performance over listening to the radio.

But more and more people are choosing to download digital copies instead of standing in line to buy physical copies of books, music, and movies. And that’s not even the most seismic shift to digital content we are seeing at this point in time.

There is a ton of data out there that is finally starting to be used for something and they are going to change everything about our lives.

How Much Digital Content Is Out There?

90% of today’s data were generated in the last two years and that’s really not surprising. Smartphones have only been around just over a decade. Users have only recently embraced their ability to generate data pertaining to their everyday lives.

Two and a half quintillion bytes of data are created every single day worldwide. Considering that internet usage worldwide is only at 50%, that figure is going to continue growing exponentially in the future.

What Else Is Going Digital?

One major example is currency.

We see this a lot with cryptocurrency. Even though news of cryptocurrency’s volatility, carbon footprint problems, and security problems are making headlines daily, digital currency is still getting more popular. In fact, it increased 43 times in just one year.

That speaks volumes about the trust people put on digital currencies and content.

See Also: Cryptocurrency Is On The Rise: Are You Prepared?

Businesses Are Leveraging All That Digital Content To Innovate

digital business marketing

Think about all the data generated about you when you go online and interact with people there. That’s the same way companies get an idea of who their target audience is.

Think of it this way:

When you call a call center with a complaint or customer service issues, the other party asks for your details. That includes who you are, where you live, how much money you make, your education level, and more.

Those data can tell a company a lot about who its target audience is. They can also provide valuable insights on how its employees and products are doing in terms of customer satisfaction and retention.

Some of the ways that big data is being leveraged to improve businesses include:

  • Cost-benefit analysis and decreasing expenses
  • Making decisions based on data
  • Discovering new avenues for innovation
  • Speeding up current innovation efforts
  • Launching new products and services based on what customers want
  • Adding revenue
  • Transforming business into a sustainable model that will work in the future

See Also: Know Your Customers In The Digital Age

Potential Downsides To Going Digital

We’ve seen places like Puerto Rico get slammed with hurricanes that have wiped out the entire power grid. Replacing that power grid is slow and costly.

Of course, in that situation, you wouldn’t be worried about accessing your digital movies, books, and music.

But what if you’re relying completely on digital currency and there’s no electricity to connect you to the Internet? How can you use it?

Digital Marketing for Businesses

At this point, it no longer makes sense for your business not to adopt and utilize digital marketing. It’s the hottest thing right now and it’s what can give your business the boost it needs to improve its sale.

Here’s a list of what you need to do:

  • Post videos of special events and see how the public will react to them.
  • Post photos regularly on Instagram and see which ones get the most interaction. This is often where you will find your next big idea.
  • Use social media as a means to interact and build relationships with your customers.

Learn more about leveraging digital content from this infographic!

Infographic by MerlinOne

The post Digital Marketing for Business: Is It A Must? appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

3 Ways To Build A Personal Brand Based On Authenticity

In today’s society, people are used to getting a taste of products for free. When a product or service is so high-quality that its creator is confident enough to give it away, that tells audiences it’s truly valuable.

Take Chance the Rapper, for example: He has risen to stardom over the past seven years — performing for President Barack Obama at the White House, hosting “Saturday Night Live,” and winning three Grammys in 2017 for his rap album “Coloring Book.” If that’s not impressive enough, he managed it all while giving fans his music for free. He’s taken the road less traveled, and zigging when everyone else is zagging, drawing attention from his fans.

I’m certainly not a rapper, but I have relied on a similar method for success in the 17 years I’ve led a gift strategy and logistics company, and I wrote about it in my book “Giftology.” I’ve built a personal brand based on giving and authenticity, and I can show you how to do the same. Here’s where to start:

giftology

Give back to your collaborators and supporters

When building a brand, most people focus on scrounging for every penny to help them rise to the top. But like Chance, I focus on what I can achieve alone, then collaborate with others to let them shine. In my case, that means partnering with the people providing me gifts, then putting the spotlight on them. A core value of my business is relationship-building because even if I can give only a little at the start of a relationship, my partners and I will grow together over time.

Build a giving mentality into the fabric of your personal brand to help set it apart. As often as you can, donate time or resources to give back to the people or companies that helped you get where you are. Chance, for example, champions causes and invests time and money into revamping Chicago and its public schools. Ensure the messaging you create to market your personal brand focuses on how you’ve helped others, not on how you’ve helped yourself.

Be gracious early on

I follow the Gary Vaynerchuk mindset of playing the long game, which Chance demonstrates with every album he releases. While giving his music away for free might seem crazy at first, he’s really just building good faith with his audience, which pays off in spades. It’s the same reason I ask anybody I’m engaging whether I can comp a gift on his behalf to help him look good. This freemium model has helped us land a number of clients, including pro sports teams like the Orlando Magic, and it builds goodwill.

Make the first move of generosity by giving your connections something on the front end. It doesn’t have to be an extravagant gift, either. Maybe you can only afford to take someone out for coffee at a trendy local shop while you network and send him a handwritten thank-you note after your meeting — that’s OK. That act of kindness can be enough to keep you top of mind the next time an opportunity comes along that should have your name written all over it.

Go off-book

 

chance rapper

Any time you can surprise and delight by blazing your own trail is a chance to impress those around you. Just because society has set a standard doesn’t mean you can’t change it. Chance the Rapper doesn’t bow to the pressure of $10 million offers from record labels; he pursues his own vision. Technology has made it easier than ever to build a brand that bucks the status quo, regardless of your credentials.

It’s also a great opportunity to set yourself apart from competitors. Going off the beaten path can be a powerful indicator of who you are and what your brand is. Breaking patterns gets noticed, so whether you’re simply changing the way you present yourself on social media or pulling stunts in your community to generate buzz, don’t be afraid to stand out from the crowd.

Chance the Rapper is known not only for offering his music for free and for his charitable work, but also for becoming a lifestyle icon. No matter your industry, chances are good your personal brand will benefit if you take a page from his book. Take it from me: A personal brand built with authenticity will take you far.

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The Top Tech Events You Need To Attend For Your Business This Year

The UK is one of the leading countries in the world when it comes to technology and in 2017, the tech sector saw a record amount of investment at nearly £3 billion. This was almost double the amount that was spent in the previous year.

At a time of great uncertainty and with Brexit looming in the background, this just goes to show how powerful and infallible the tech industry is. As the tech industry continues to evolve at a rapid pace, 2018 promises to be another massive year.

Tech events are great if you want to keep up to date with all the latest trends and developments in the industry. They’re also a great opportunity to network with peers and learn from the most influential thought leaders around.

Whether you’re interested in cybersecurity, artificial intelligence or digital marketing, there’s an event out there that will help you and your business to grow.

Here are the top tech events in the UK that you need to attend for your business this year:

The Wearable Technology Show – London (March 13 to 14)

wearable-tech-show-2018
Via electronicsmedia.info

Wearable technology has been soaring in popularity over the last few years, with many brands recognizing its huge potential. It has been used in sports, fitness, healthcare and augmented reality.

The Wearable Technology Show will be held at the ExCel Centre in London over two days. It will showcase the latest and most innovative wearable gears to date. There will be a range of different speakers and workshops that you can participate in.

Cyber UK – Manchester (April 10 to 12)

cyber uk 2018
Via ncsc.gov.uk

As our reliance on the digital world grows each year, so too does the need to improve cybersecurity. The threat of fraud, hacking, data theft and other nefarious activities online remain more prevalent than ever. This is why cyber security is so important.

Cyber UK will take place at the Manchester Central Convention Complex for three days. It will play host to thousands of delegates and online security experts from around the world.

The event is organized by the National Cyber Security Centre. It will include a number of different workshops, briefings, and talks from thought leaders, government representatives, and many more.

London Tech Week – London (June 11 to 17)

london tech week 2018
Via londontechweek

London Tech Week is the largest festival of tech in Europe, attracting more than 55,000 attendees from over 90 countries. The event is an all-encompassing celebration of all things tech-related. There, you’ll see techs linked to virtual reality, artificial intelligence, 3D printing, and cybersecurity.

As a business, you have the opportunity to exhibit some of your work. You’ll also be able to network with and learn from some of the most creative minds out there. The Prince’s Trust Gala Dinner and the Leaders In Tech Summit will both be in the lineup while you’ll also have the chance to watch some exciting F1H20 Powerboat Racing take place.

Turing Fest – Edinburgh (August 1 to 2)

turing fest 2018
Via tech.eu

The Turing Fest in Edinburgh this year promises to be the biggest one yet, with six conference tracks providing an insight into how the most successful businesses use technology to grow and stay relevant. The event will be attended by some hugely successful CEOs, such as Eric Yuan of Zoom, Des Traynor of Intercom, and Samantha Noble of Biddable Moments.

You’ll have the opportunity to network and share tech insights with like-minded peers and participate in a range of panel workshops and keynotes. There’ll also be some additional informal fringe events.

DigiMarCon Ireland – London (September 5 to 6)

digimarcon ireland 2018
Via digimarconireland

While DigiMarCon Ireland is one of the largest Irish digital marketing events, it actually takes place in Heathrow, London. This event is not only ideal for digital marketing companies and startups but also for any brand that wants to grow and expand their reach.

You’ll be able to find out about all the latest developments in terms of generating traffic, boosting brand awareness, and improving lead generation. You will also know more about content marketing, SEO, and geotargeting during this two-day event.

It’s also worth noting that there are many other outstanding tech events that take place internationally, particularly in Australia and America. So, consider heading overseas to expand your tech knowledge- a perfect excuse to spend some of that business trip budget!

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5 Top Technology Trends That Will Shape 2018

Groundbreaking steps are happening in the technology industry all the time. In the past couple of years alone, leaps and bounds have resulted in better augmented reality, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, speech recognition, and more. This year, you can expect more tech innovations to enhance our lives.

Here are the top technology trends you need to watch out for this year.

Augmented Reality

augmented reality vs virtual reality

We’ve already seen what today’s AR mobile apps can do and games like Pokémon Go are a far cry from it, to say the least.

The AR technology from companies like the startup DAQRI, however, extends well beyond a mobile game experience. Its technology is found in other products, like its $15,000 AR helmets.

You can wear those helmets entirely hands-free and it can work for hours. A requirement for its primary users: industrial workers, sailors, and soldiers.

Take note that these headsets aren’t quite full-scale AR because they suffer from the common problem of most AR headsets. It’s the narrow rectangular view that cuts off images when the user moves.

Now, as the company has partnered with Two Trees, a holography specialist, and is working on developing new dynamic holography technology, it could possibly revolutionize AR.

See Also: How Augmented Reality Is Changing The Game

Google RankBrain

One of the biggest contributors to the advancement of search algorithms in recent years has been Google’s machine learning Artificial Intelligence (AI) system, RankBrain.

Since its inception over two years ago, Google continues to embrace RankBrain, using it to return the best results that match a Google user’s query. It has gone from being used in 15% of Google search queries to now being used in all of them.

Google has also been dabbling in other AI interests. This includes the development of a Cloud Vision API, which has the capability to recognize a huge number of objects. Plus, its Google Brain division has reportedly been developing an AI that can build AI better than humans can.

Artificial Intelligence

Google RankBrain aside, artificial intelligence isn’t only found in data. It’s in just about every industry. Journalism, financial services, video gaming, gambling, automotive, the military, and even healthcare are just some examples.

Currently, the vast majority of AI systems function as a supportive tool that can make certain processes more simplified, effective, and faster.

That said, as AI enters more and more fields, people like Jack Ma question what impact the future of AI will have on society as a whole. The concerns of Alibaba’s founder and Executive Chairman were made known earlier this year during the World Economic Forum (WEF) at Davos.

“The AI, Big Data is a threat to human beings. The AI and robots are going to kill a lot of jobs because, in the future, these will be done by machines,” Ma stated during a discussion panel.

He believes that AI should be used to support people and added that tech giants, like Alibaba, Amazon, and Facebook, need to be responsible and “should spend money on technology that enables people, empowers people, and makes life better”.

See Also: 5 Reasons Why You Should Consider AI Automation for Small Business

Smart speakers

Forget about talking to your smartphone. The future is all about voice-controlled smart speakers now.

This technology perfectly fits into the ecosystem of a smart home as smart speakers can function as the main control hub. They can answer questions, set timers, play music, and control other devices at home.

As you might imagine, there is a fierce competition between market leaders. Amazon, Google, Apple, and Microsoft aim to develop and sell the most sought-after smart speakers.

Today, the competition is tight between Amazon and Google. These companies are leading the market with smart speakers that are affordable, accessible, and superior to Apple’s Siri.

And once Apple’s smart speaker (HomePod) is out later this year, fans will still flock to buy it despite the high price tag. That only reflects people’s desire to always get their hands on the latest technology.

apple homepad
Via Dezeen

Speech recognition

Speech recognition is another tech that has recently advanced both in its capabilities and its use. Whether you’re asking your smartphone a question or your smart speaker, speech recognition is at play.

While there has always been a lot of kinks to work out when it comes to this technology, last August, Microsoft claimed a new speech recognition record. It was able to reduce its error rate to an amazing 5.1%.

This percentage matched the error rate of multiple human transcribers in a well-known accuracy test.

Microsoft’s continued improvements in speech recognition technology are a part of its wider effort to advance state of the art AI and bring these new innovations to the market.

Conclusion

Of course, no one really knows what the future holds for these top technology trends. Maybe full-scale AR will eliminate the need for mobile phones. Perhaps, speech recognition may prove to be superior to human transcribers- or maybe not. Only time will tell where these innovations might take us next

The post 5 Top Technology Trends That Will Shape 2018 appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Nike ramps up membership benefits with Apple Music, ClassPass and Headspace unlocks for app users

 The top line is that Nike is rolling out some membership related updates to its app for iPhone and Android today. The updates will come in the form of new unlocks with partnerships like ClassPass, Apple and Headspace. There will also be a bunch of new unlocks coming for exclusive shoes and clothing. NikePlus Unlocks, the official name for these cards that appear in the Nike+ app Members… Read More

8 Easy Steps To Your Browser Security And Privacy

Bad news.

There’s really no such thing as the most secure browser.

Want proof?

In a poll in 2013, Firefox was voted as the most secure web browser. However, in a hacking contest in March of 2014, Firefox was deemed as the least secure after it went down to four zero-day exploits.

Because you can’t really rely on one browser to protect you and your data, it’s critical that you know how to make your favorite browser the most secure browser for you.

Here are some steps you can follow:

Check your browser’s default setting

The most convenient way to start using any device, including browsers, is by its default setting. It is, however, not the most secure way.

In fact, it can expose you to a lot of potential threats.

With your browser’s default configuration, hackers can easily access your program and even make internal changes without you knowing.

Creepy, right?

The best solution to that is to configure all your browsers as well as your operating system before use. Doing that can greatly increase your security.

Use only one browser when dealing with sensitive activities

use only one browser

Your computer probably has multiple browsers installed and that’s actually a good thing. It means you’ll be able to dedicate one browser for one activity only, limiting the risk of compromising your sensitive data.

Think of it this way:

You can use one browser to pay your bills or purchase something online. You can use a separate browser for researching and random browsing.

This way, if someone hacked the one you are using for general web browsing, the other browser won’t be compromised.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that using separate browsers will automatically protect your data. You also have to play your part to make your browser the most secure browser.

It can also help if you can make a complete browser comparison first before deciding which ones to use.

Update your browser

Security holes will keep on popping up as more and more security threats emerge. One of the few ways you can protect yourself is by updating your browser.

Make sure to follow your vendor’s instructions when updating your browser. If your operating system no longer supports newer browsers, it’s time to get that updated as well.

Browsers like Chrome and Firefox have an auto-update feature by default. If yours isn’t enabled, check if your computer’s firewall is preventing the auto-update or someone else has configured it the way it is.

Get an antivirus installed

A good anti-virus remains one of the best ways to stay protected on the internet. Just make sure that the one you are using is real as a fake antivirus software is already a security threat on its own.

And if you already have one, keep it up-to-date. Using an expired antivirus is more likely to put your security at risk.

Now, listen closely.

While you might think that the antivirus that came with your computer is enough to protect you, it actually isn’t. You see, free antivirus programs aren’t that comprehensive.

It can only provide limited protection and it can only detect certain threats. It has lower and slower scanning performance, too.

The bottom line?

Don’t skimp on your antivirus program and be sure to keep it updated.

Be careful in installing plugins and extensions

Extensions and plugins might look harmless but they can be extremely dangerous. They have access to your every move online. And because they know everything, you can just imagine the damage they can create.

They know what you’ve been searching and they can capture your passwords. These extensions can even insert advertisements in the pages you visit.

One problem with extensions is that they frequently require access to everything. For example, an extension that’s meant to make changes in Google.com will require access to everything related to Google.

Most of the time, that includes your email and Google account.

To stay safe, use fewer extensions and plugins as possible. If you aren’t using the ones already installed on your computer, uninstall them and stick with the ones you use frequently.

If you are planning on adding more, make sure to read the permissions they require.

Use pop-up blockers

turn off pop up blockers
Via hotComm

Ads and pages that pop out of nowhere aren’t just annoying; they can also be dangerous.

By using a pop-up blocker, you’ll be able to prevent those ads from installing harmful malware on your computer. They can also prevent your screen from cluttering.

Now, if the website you are trying to access needs you to temporarily disable the blocker, remember to reactivate it once you are done.

Turn on fraud protection

There are tons of untrustworthy websites on the internet. If you aren’t careful, you can inadvertently visit one of those phishing sites and expose your sensitive information.

Phishing sites are sites that are made to look legit and trustworthy so that they can get your personal details. This includes your credit card number and password in your cached data.

To stop that from happening, always turn on fraud protection. It can blacklist known phishing sites so you won’t be able to access them.

See Also: 7 Top Tips to Avoid Being Caught in a Phishing Net

Be careful with auto-complete features

Being able to log into your email or any of your accounts without typing your login details sound convenient. However, in terms of safety and security, it’s a totally different story.

Just think about what can happen when your laptop or device gets stolen or lost. It’s like giving away your personal login information to everyone.

For protection, always turn that feature off. You can do that by accessing your browser’s setting.

If you are using Chrome, for example, you can open its Setting window, select Advanced, and make the necessary changes in the Manage Password section.

In case you are using Firefox, access the Options window, select Privacy, and look for History. Once you are there, select Firefox will: Use custom settings for history and disable the Remember search and form history option.

These changes don’t take a lot of time. In fact, you can complete them in less than a minute.

See Also: How To Maintain Your Privacy Online

 

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4 Ways Small Business Can Become More Efficient Through Cloud Computing

In today’s business world, it is important that business have access to what they need when they need it. Whether through phones, tablets or computers, there is a need for convenience and reliability as far as access to information is concerned. Cloud computing facilitates all these. Without a doubt, it has transformed how several businesses operate.

For those who are entering the arena for the first time, it is important to note that cloud computing is an umbrella term that includes:

  • Cloud storage
  • Cloud hosting
  • Software as a service
  • Cloud backup

By migrating the cloud, your business can use this technology to enhance your operations in a couple of ways. In essence, cloud computing guarantees several benefits.

Enhanced collaboration

cloud computing collaboration

Provided there is reliable internet access, it is possible to access cloud-based programs any time using a couple of devices. For a business with remote employees, nothing facilitates greater collaboration than this.

In today’s economy, we have a substantial number of small and medium-size businesses which rely on remote productivity as a critical aspect of their operation. Using various cloud-based software, different teams in various locations can collaborate on the same documents without the need to email attachments, schedule calendars, and share task lists.

This reduces the need for physical meetings. Participants only need to sign up for the services and pick up their tasks online without the need to install new programs or download other software.

Secure data backup

Businesses have always relied on data. The only difference is that businesses are more dependent on data now than before.

Losing essential data can be detrimental to a business or an organization. For smaller businesses, you might not have the resources or time to implement an effective backup strategy.

With cloud computing, you can easily retrieve the latest version of your data in case of an onsite system failure. Such system can also come handy in case of a disaster, such as fire.

Remember, you have the option of using cloud-based services to back up your business data automatically. In case of any unforeseen interruptions, your business will be back up and running in a couple of minutes.

Several firms offering cloud services provide geo-redundant backup. That implies that your data is saved in multiple centers across various locations to enhance data security.

Improved reliability

We all understand that cloud-based services are often more reliable compared to promised services. This is particularly true in instances where the servers and other hardware components used in service delivery are aging.

Cloud service providers boast of dedicated and highly experienced IT staff. When it comes to resolving various IT issues, you can rely on such team to provide better services in terms of reliability and speed.

For any business, nothing is more important than knowing that there is a team you can always rely on in case of anything. With the kind of support offered by cloud service providers, you won’t always have to worry about your data.

Better resource management

small business cloud computing

When you opt for cloud service, one huge burden lifted off of your shoulder is that of hosting the servers. Since the servers will be located off-site, you can sit back knowing that their management is an experienced IT staff.

Since there is easier access to resources as needed when dealing with the cloud, there will be less time involved in starting these services. It is also clear that several smaller businesses have limited IT experts and resources.

Outsourcing cloud computing services give them an opportunity to concentrate on the other aspects of their business while cloud service providers handle the rest. For smaller businesses that are out to edge or rival the big names in the market, cloud computing provides an opportunity to be more competitive and claim their fair share of the market.

Don’t ignore the details

While it is true that cloud computing comes with multiple benefits, it will not be fair to ignore the possible setbacks that can come with this technology. Just like any other technology, it takes time to set up and adapt to a new system. You will need to train your personnel, even in the slightest ways possible.

In addition to that, there is also the need to establish a very effective troubleshooting system during and after the system is launched. Always remember to never ignore security risks when considering cloud computing services. The rate of cyber crimes is at an all-time high.

If you are going to use any cloud service provider, make sure that they have all the answers to any security concerns you have. Try to understand the contingency plans they have in place in case of a security breach. Only after that should you sign on the dotted lines.

See Also: How Cloud Technology Can Help Your Business Grow

The post 4 Ways Small Business Can Become More Efficient Through Cloud Computing appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Crunch Report | Twitter tests a new tweetstorm feature and Tesla unveils a semi truck

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5 Reasons Why You Should Consider AI Automation for Small Business

If you are aware of the developments in technology, then you have probably heard about Artificial Intelligence (AI). For a lot of people, it’s too complex or high-tech so they don’t really pay a lot of attention to it.

In fact, even small businesses don’t think much of AI. They believe that only big tech companies like Apple and Google can utilize it. However, that’s not true.

AI has numerous benefits for small businesses. It’s something you cannot ignore if you want to stay ahead of your competition.

Today, open-minded businesses have started using AI to create a business logo, respond to emails, comb the Internet for leads identification, help customers with chatbots and a lot more.

If you have not seriously considered AI automation for your business yet, then the following 5 reasons can surely convince you.

Enhanced Bookkeeping

There are plenty of AI tools designed specifically for bookkeeping that you can use. While many offer help with the basic data entry tasks, some are more advanced and can easily perform many roles. You can use it in reading and preparing invoices, set invoice reminders, release payments on schedule and more.

So, instead of expanding your accounting department, you can invest in an AI bookkeeping program which is more affordable and highly useful.

Lead Nurturing

No matter how skilled your sales reps are, they will always have limitations.

For starters, one can handle only a certain number of leads at a time. Secondly, they need a certain amount of time with every lead to learn about their personality, pain points, opportunities for connection building and many other aspects that are required for their nurturing.

However, with AI automation you can take the entire process to the next level and benefit from increased productivity.

An AI program designed for lead nurturing can read and respond to the emails of your prospects using a list of set messages and the Natural Language Processing technology. It can also go through the past conversations you have had with your leads to pinpoint important bits of information. Most importantly, it can work 24/7 since it can function without human intervention.

Online Customer Support

A number of studies have found that customers find it more comfortable to inquire about the services or products of a company through messaging, especially via online chat as opposed to voice calls. However, hiring a full-time customer executive can be expensive for a small business. Again, this is where AI automation can be a great option.

chatbots

Not only AI-powered chatbots are highly popular today, you can also find some highly affordable options easily. You can install one of these on your website so that when your customers need some information, it will be readily available. In addition to that, having AI-powered chatbots can also make your website more attractive.

See Also: How To Boost Your Business with Influence Marketing Chatbots

Cheap but Quality Branding

Usually, it’s hard to find quality and affordability at the same place. However, AI automation seems to have changed that.

This is because it can help you with your company branding in many ways and at modest pricing. There are companies like Tailor Brands that offer an entire suite of branding tools- from logo creation to social media banner creation at a fraction of the price that you would pay to a graphics designer.

Intelligent Personal Assistants

You are probably already familiar with virtual personal assistants, such as Apple’s Siri or Microsoft Corona. Today, a new range of similar assistants is emerging and they are even more intelligent and more suitable for businesses. For instance, there is Amy from x.ai that can arrange meetings for you or Pana that can arrange your travel.

amy intelligent personal assistant
Via slideshare.net

AI has matured enough today that it can be utilized in different ways in every industry. It’s now easily available at affordable costs, too. If you haven’t considered using one for your business, it’s probably the right time to reconsider your strategy.

 

The post 5 Reasons Why You Should Consider AI Automation for Small Business appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

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How to Set Up a VPN

If you want to protect your online privacy and prevent unwanted people, such as government agencies and advertising companies, from tracking you and using your private information to their advantage, there are a few ways as effective as VPNs to do it.

However, not everyone is really aware of what they really are and their advantages. To help you out, we’re here to discuss how to set up a VPN and how you can start using it.

How do VPNs Work?

As the term suggests it, a Virtual Private Network or VPN is a network of servers you can connect virtually (using the internet instead of a physical connection) to enhance your privacy. It does this by encrypting all the traffic that comes from your device and then rerouting it through one of the servers that compose it to mask your online trace.

Each part of the process presents a benefit for the user. The encryption of communications between the user and the VPN makes it impossible for Internet Service Providers and other eavesdroppers to snoop on your online activity. On the other hand, tunneling your connection through a VPN server makes websites think it is the server that’s accessing them when it’s actually you who’s doing it.

That offers you two benefits:

First, this prevents the website from tracking information about you coming from your device. You’d be accessing every website as if it were the first time you’re doing it and advertising companies would be unable to tailor ads for you.

The second benefit of tunneling is tied to the location of the server. Servers located in different countries allow you to access web content as if you were connecting from the same location of the server. This lets you access content from websites that isn’t available in your region.

Clear and Easy Way to Set Up a VPN

set up vpn

To use a VPN, you have to find a provider of the service online. This is perhaps the hardest part of the process since there is a very wide variety of VPN services available online. Not all of them are equally good and some of them may even end up doing more harm than good.

We recommend you use one of the following providers. We have already tried out and verified the quality of their service.

  • NordVPN
  • VyprVPN
  • PureVPN
  • ExpressVPN
  • IPVanish

After you’ve made your pick between them, all you have to do is follow these steps:

Purchase a Subscription

The first thing you have to do after you’ve picked a VPN service provider is to buy one of the subscription plans they offer. Keep in mind that the longer the subscription time you buy, the more value you’ll get for every penny you spend.

Download and Install the Software Client

Most VPN providers will ask you to download their software in exchange for letting you connect. This software client contains all the options you need for a safe connection that suits your needs.

Adjust the Settings

After you’ve installed the software, you have to open it and configure your connection to your specific needs. Most of these settings will come preconfigured for the most common and convenient settings, but you might want to tweak it a little bit.

Particularly regarding communication protocols and encryption algorithms, you’ll want to use OpenVPN and 256-bit AES encryption, respectively. These are the most reliable settings you could wish to have on a VPN, so they are the ones we recommend you to use. If you’re curious, you can look up any other settings online before messing with them but do this with extreme caution.

Choose a Country

After you’ve dealt with the technical details, it’s time to choose the location of the server you’ll be connecting to. This is important if your goal is to bypass the region lock of a website.

For instance, if all you want is to be able to access Netflix’s full library, then you’ll want to connect to a server in the US. VPN services usually let you decide this using a drop-down menu on their software.

Connect and Enjoy

After all this, you’re ready to hit the connect button and start browsing the web as you’d normally do. You’ll now be completely anonymous to the websites you visit. Your ISP won’t be able to monitor your online activity, too.

It’s only responsible for us to spread the benefits of VPN usage to contribute to a safer internet. They are a very powerful tool that helps you protect your online privacy and that of your loved ones.

The post How to Set Up a VPN appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

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Crunch Report | Hey Dillon Francis, iPhone X Is Now Available For Pre-Order

Today we’re hanging out with EDM artist Dillon Francis, Apple opens for iPhone X pre-orders and releases a sleeve for MacBooks, Walmart starts using robots in stores and Russia condemns Twitter for banning two of its media companies from advertising on the platform. All this on Crunch Report. Read More

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Southeast Asian e-commerce startup Carousell closes $70-$80M Series C round

 Singapore-based startup Carousell is in the money this week after it closed a Series C round of between $70-$80 million, two sources with knowledge of the deal told TechCrunch. Started by three graduates from the National University of Singapore in 2012, Carousell operates a mobile-first listings service for second-hand goods and services in Southeast Asia, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Prior to this… Read More

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Crunch Report | SoftBank Vision Fund Sequels

SoftBank is planning to create $100 billion Vision Fund sequels, Chariot is temporarily paused in San Francisco and Stitch Fix shows us what a good IPO looks like. All this on Crunch Report. Read More

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Crunch Report | Steve Wozniak Launches Education Platform

Steve Wozniak launches a new education platform, “Woz U,” Fandango acquires MovieTickets.com and Baidu plans to make lots of autonomous cars in 2021. All this on Crunch Report. Read More

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Crunch Report | AOL Instant Messenger Is Shutting Down

AOL Instant Messenger is shutting down, some iPhone 8s are having battery problems and a smart bandage that releases meds on demand. All this on Crunch Report! Read More

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Crunch Report | Patreon is raising a Series C at $450M

Patreon is raising at a $450 millon valuation, Chrome mutes autoplaying videos and Hulu is spending $2.5 billion for original content. All this on Crunch Report. Read More

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Gear up for Disrupt Berlin’s Startup Battlefield and apply today

 One dozen days. That’s how much time you have left to apply for the Startup Battlefield at Disrupt Berlin 2017. If you want to introduce your early-stage company to the world, there’s no better place to do so than from the Startup Battlefield main stage. It’s the premier launching pad for startups, as Battlefield alumni — like Mint, Dropbox, Yammer and Tripit —… Read More

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Chatbot startup founder sees Southeast Asia potential despite slow start worldwide

 Chatbots may have underwhelmed thus far, but the impact of the technology still has bags of potential in international markets where mobile messaging has been mainstream for years. That’s the view of one startup that’s working to bring the benefit of bots to the mainstream in Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous country and the largest economy in the growing region… Read More

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Crunch Report | China’s Central Bank Puts a Ban on ICOs

China’s central bank puts a ban on ICOs, the next generation of the Lily drone is here, WhatsApp for Business is launching and Alphabet creates a new holding company to complete 2015 corporate reorganization. All this on Crunch Report! Read More

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Crunch Report | Benchmark vs Kalanick Goes Sour

Reddit is rolling out its own video platform, VR adtech company Immersv raises $10.5 million and Benchmark versus Kalanick goes sour. All this on Crunch Report Read More

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Yes, there's now an app with the sole purpose of showing you dank memes

TwitterFacebook

If you enjoy wasting time on the internet, you’re probably going to love Memeois, the new iOS app made solely to deliver you the hottest new memes.

The app was made by 17-year-old Anushk Mittal and is free for download on iOS. Just be warned that the only way to enter the app is by signing in through a Facebook account. We don’t see any reason to be alarmed up front, but it’s something you might want to consider before joining.

The app apparently uses machine learning to crawl your Facebook activity to determine what memes it thinks you want to see. It also surfaces different trends based on your activity within the app. Read more…

More about Ios, Memes, Technology, Social Media, and Apple Watch

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Crunch Report | David Letterman Is Coming to Netflix

David Letterman is coming to Netflix, Didi Chuxing backs Careem in the Middle East, Crusie is running an autonomous ride-hailing service and Andrew Ng launches Deeplearning.ai. All this on Crunch Report. Read More

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How Evolving Technologies And Facebook Are Deploying Big Data

Each day, 2.5 million TB of data are generated. This huge quantity of data needs to be stored so that they can be easily accessed later. They are data measured in zettabytes, petabytes and exabytes, which are lesser known terms.

As companies gather rising amounts of data, requirements on infrastructure and technology have become larger. The following 3 Vs describes what Big Data is all about.

Volume

This feature represents the absolute amount of data produced by companies. It includes data from transaction information, social media created information, sensor and machine to machine data. Without technologies to accumulate such large amounts of data, storing it easily would be a problem.

Velocity

Latest technologies allow faster data processing through sensors, RFID tags and other technologies. However, structuring and storing them in real time is a big challenge.

Variety

Data come in a wide variety of formats. It can range from regular databases, unstructured video, audio and email to transaction data.

These three features of Big Data offer a challenge for the companies that need to store data in an integrated, structured, affordable and accessible way.

Facebook And Big Data

facebook

Social media assure the growth and development of innovation through mass collaboration. Across various industries, companies use social media platforms to promote products and services. They also use it to observe how people respond to brands.

See Also: 4 Good Reasons For Marketing With Facebook

One of the largest Big Data experts is Facebook. It  deals with petabytes of data on a regular basis. As the world connects through this platform, it generates algorithms to track those connections.

Whether it’s a wall post or your favorite movies and books, Facebook surveys each and every bit of your data. It does this to provide you superior services each time you log in.

Some Of The Contributors Behind Facebook’s Big Data

There is a variety of technology working behind this platform. Below are the most significant ones:

Hadoop

hadoop

Facebook manages the biggest Hadoop cluster. It has beyond 4,000 machines and stores millions of gigabytes. This large-scale cluster provides some crucial skills to developers.

The developers can openly write MapReduce programs in any language.
SQL has been combined to process large data sets, as the majority of data in the Hadoop’s file system are in table format. Because of this, it becomes easier for developers to access smaller SQL subsets.

Beginning with searching, recommendation system, log processing and data warehousing, Hadoop is enabling Facebook in any way possible. In fact, its first user-facing app, Facebook Messenger, is based on Hadoop database.

Scuba

Encountering a large amount of disorganized data each day, Facebook realized that it requires a platform to speed up its analysis. It developed Scuba to help the Hadoop developers plunge into the massive data set. It also allows them to carry on an ad-hoc analysis in real-time.

Facebook wasn’t meant to run across different data centers. A single malfunction could cause the whole platform to fail.

Scuba enables the developers to store in-memory data in bulk. It’s supposed to help speed up the informational analysis. It executes small software agents to collect data from data centers and compress them into log data pattern. The compressed data are further compressed by Scuba into smaller memory systems which can be promptly assessed.

Hive

hive

After the launch of Hadoop by Yahoo for its search engine, Facebook also decided to empower its data scientists. It needed help in storing huge amount of data in the Oracle data warehouse. Thus, Hive came into existence.

This tool enhanced the query capability of Hadoop by using a part of SQL. Eventually, it became popular in the unstructured world. Nearly thousands of jobs are running using this system today.

Prism

As Facebook doesn’t run on multiple data centers, it needed the help of Prism. It’s a platform that brings out several namespaces. It helps in developing many logical clusters, too.

Corona

It was getting difficult to manage the task trackers and cluster resources. As pull-based scheduling model was causing a delay in handling small jobs, MapReduce came to existence. Hadoop was restricted by its slot-based resource management model. It wasted the slot every time the cluster size was unable to fit the configuration.

Developing and executing Corona helped in establishing a new scheduling framework. It helped distinguish resource management from job coordination.

Today, Facebook has become one of the substantial corporations in the world. It’s all thanks to its considerable data on over 1.5 Billion people on earth. However, security and privacy concerns remain as it isn’t sure whether Facebook will just save its big data on its server or use them in order to make money.

But, one thing is for sure. It’s the Big Data that pushed Facebook, a small-time startup in Harvard, into becoming one of the large corporations of all times.

See Also: The Facebook Organic Growth Tactic that Everybody Forgets

The post How Evolving Technologies And Facebook Are Deploying Big Data appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

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Crunch Report | SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch Planned for November

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Xiaomi secures $1B loan to expand its international presence and offline retail footprint

 Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi has secured a $1 billion loan in order to develop its international focus and build out its offline sales presence. The company revealed today that it has secured a three-year syndicated loan agreement from 18 banks across Europe, Middle East, India, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley served as joint global coordinator, with Bank… Read More

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Vertu is dead

 It’s been a long, downward slide for cellphone maker Vertu. The company, founded by Nokia in 1998, was supposed to be a luxury phone provider to the stars and, to a degree, it delivered. They sold the $11,000 phones like expensive watches in boutique stores in tony neighborhoods. Vertu, with its precious metals and fine, hand-cut leather was supposed to maintain its luxury lead for… Read More

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Samsung will reportedly revive the Galaxy Note 7 with a Korea-only ‘Fandom Edition’

 Samsung is reportedly gearing to revive the Galaxy Note 7, its disastrous 2016 smartphone that was recalled after battery problems caused units to catch fire, with the limited release of a new model. The company hinted a few months ago that it planned to make such a move, but now we have more details. The Wall Street Journal reports that the Note 7 FE (that stands for ‘Fandom… Read More

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Crunch Report | Amazon Bids to Buy Whole Foods for $13.7 Billion

Amazon bids to buy Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, Walmart buys Bonobos for $310 million, Mobike, a ride-sharing company in China, raises $600 million. All this on Crunch Report. Read More

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Crunch Report | The World Is Melting

Waymo is exploring self-driving trucks, Bumble’s meetup space, the Hive and reaction from VCs after pulling out of the Paris climate agreement. All this on Crunch Report. Read More

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