Simplifying Technology

Curbing the complexity

The timeworn adage reads: less is more. Perhaps there is more merit to this dusty old proverb than once originally thought. The fact is, with the rapid pace that tech is moving, chances are, it’s briskly sauntered right past a vast number of consumers. Up until recent years, feature-laden devices were canonized as a sign of progress. These days, it seems that the focus of a superior product is measured by usability, not merely which company has a longer list of convoluted features.

The bells and whistles

The name of the game isolating features that, while impressive, lack real merit. If it only serves to impress the competition, it is probably due for an evaluation. Apple, for example, has set a precedent in the field of paired down devices geared more towards simplicity and function. Late last October, Apple’s head of software, Craig Federighi, stated that Apple opposed a touch screen interface on their computers, stating that the company felt it was not the right direction for the Mac line.

Similarly, another feature not found on iOS devices is hands-free gestures. Apple’s portable device archrival Samsung, on the other hand, has invested heavily in technology such as eye detection and swiping. On certain models, the device can stop or start content by detecting if the user is looking directly at the screen. Likewise, the user passing his or her hand across the screen can activate certain Samsung devices. Apple still prefers press button interface. While there will always be arguments as to the advantages and pitfalls of features such as these, the question of “is it really necessary” has never been more in the forefront. When you consider the amount of extra software and in some cases, hardware needed to run these extra ‘goodies’, along with the inherent increased risk of failure each added feature brings, is it worth it?

Removing the frustration

A good indicator of how simplicity has become paramount is comparing the old with the new. Microsoft’s then revolutionary operating system, Windows XP, was heralded as a technological achievement upon its inception. Compared to Redmond’s current offerings, the old operating system seems counterintuitive, redundant and almost vindictive to the technologically disinclined. While it seems easy to poke fun at Microsoft, anyone who had a computer that ended in the suffix- ‘intosh’ will recall the lonely, isolated experience that made PCs of the same era feel wide-open. To own Today, thanks to the transition to Intel processors from the old- Motorola/ Power PC processors used prior , modern Macs can juggle files and media nearly as smoothly as the monolithic Washington based rival. Indeed, Cupertino has moved into a more natural and intuitive direction as well.

Increased reliability

Aside from trying to make products that don’t intimidate and infuriate seniors the way they used to, the tech market has also adopted another mindset that has many users breathing a bit easier. The less there is, the less there is to break. The same philosophy that has many consumers opting for solid-state technology in place of traditional spindle drives. The simple fact is, fewer parts, fewer problems.

Moving forward

What might tech look like if the trend of simplification continues to hold sway over design and function? How long before phones are comprised of fewer pieces than we have cards in our wallets? Organism-inspired operating systems that make the old command based interface of yesterday seem outrageous? Only time will tell. We’re in an era where the only thing constant is change.

Keeping The Internet Kid Friendly

There is a huge wealth of information that can be accessed via the World Wide Web. Inarguably, it is the quickest, easiest source of information the world has ever known, and growing every second of every day. The problem is, with so much information at our fingertips, the possibility of accessing something that we don’t want in our home is also a very real possibility. Whether it’s materials that aren’t kid friendly, or malicious intruders using bandwidth to enter our domiciles, it can be a scary place for young users. However, parents need not fear, in this post, we will discuss several ways you can keep your kids safe while accessing this amazing resource.

Discuss online use early.

One suggestion that senior security researcher David Emm provides is, talk to them early about online safety. Children who understand that just like life outside of the Internet; there are safe, and unsafe things. Teaching children early to identify what some of the precarious behaviors are will help teach them the discipline needed to navigate the Internet safely.

Keep the computer where you can monitor activity.

Many experts agree that keeping the family computer in a prominent place, such as the family room will help you monitor what type of content or activity your children are accessing. This also provides an opportunity to have an open dialogue with your children. Should they come across anything that confuses or upsets them, you can discuss it with your child.

Locating the computer where everyone can interact with it also helps to encourage family activity with the Internet, allowing for better understanding and communication about online activities. You may even find things that you and the children enjoy doing together.

Restrict what content can be accessed through the use of filters.

Many browsers come equipped with filters that can be set to block out undesirable content. Internet Explorer for example as a filter that can be accessed via the tools menu that can be set to block out a host of seedy content. Mozilla has similar filter that can be set as well.

Not only do most browsers come with built in features, there is also after market software that can be purchased that can give parents even more administrative control over what can be accessed on the computer. Many of these programs are free to download can provide more protection than the included filters offer.

Set Limits

Finally, find what your comfort levels are as the parent. Many parents find that setting time limits as to how long children can be online helps them feel better about their children’s online experience. Also, regulate what information they can give out. Talking with your children about giving out private information, such as names, address etc. can help keep them safe from predators and scammers.

Ultimately, the best line of defense for your children is you. Diligence is a must when it comes to keeping kids safe on line. When guides are set and precautions are carefully followed, you will find that your on line experience with your children can be safe, fun and rewarding.

Pros and Cons of Agile Project Management

Project-Management-Greg-Pierson

Discipline in project management is essential for all types of businesses and modern software and IT providers have many methodologies to choose from. Today I wanted to focus on the pros and cons of the agile project management method. Agile project management is a method of managing your design and build activities by leveraging iterative and incremental methods. A more traditional waterfall model, on the other hand, is a development model that focusses on sequential design processes. In this type of model, you can visualize your progress as a steady downward flow that passes through these phases in order: conception, initiation, analysis, design, construction, testing, production/implementation, and maintenance. Agile management methods like scrum style project management are swiftly becoming the standard in the industry and as these methods continue to mature we are better able to understand their strengths and weaknesses.
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What Are the Top Three Reasons Tech Start-Ups Fail?

Figure holding a success sign

Long before I started pursuing my first entrepreneurial venture, ieLogic, I was drawn to the idea of filling needs, of finding solutions. Since that first venture, I have continued looking for solutions to problems I see in the world around me, leading me to become a serial entrepreneur. Some of my ventures have been successful, some less so.

Unfortunately, even though we want them to, not every new business or new idea is going to succeed. However, we can look at some of the most common reasons why startups in general and technology startups in particular tend to fail in order to minimize the likelihood of our own startups failing before they get a chance to really succeed. To that end, I’ve put together what I consider to be the top three reasons why startups fail.

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Is the Apple Watch the Game Changer for the Smartwatch Industry?

apple-watch

The attempt to create a smartwatch with widespread appeal is the latest fracas in wearable technology, and despite the widespread perception that the appeal of smartwatches is currently limited to the fitness and geek niches, Apple is joining in with the Apple Watch. While few people were surprised by Apple choosing to throw their hat into this particular ring, many were surprised by the name. With the success of the iMac, iPad, iPod and iPhone, most people were expecting the iWatch. But putting naming quirks aside for the time being, the question remains: will Apple succeed where others have failed and make the smartwatch popular outside of niche markets?

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History of Hacking

When the word hacker first showed up on the mid-1960s, it was a rather innocuous term used to describe a programmer who “hacked” out computer code. These early hackers innovated new ways to use computers, wrote code they called “patches” to fix bugs in existing programs, and were generally curious about every aspect of how computers worked. As computers evolved, however, the term hacker started to take on a new meaning—a person who uses computers to explore a computer or network to which he or she doesn’t belong; someone we need to protect ourselves against using clever and effective technological safety measures.

This definition is still generally used today and can technically be used to describe people who perform this type of exploration regardless of intent. If I’m being fair, there are probably many reasons why hackers choose to ply their trade, including idle curiosity, to challenge themselves and for malicious purposes. Yet in today’s world, the average person hears the word hacker and is likely to envision a person or group of people who harass, defraud, steal and generally wreak havoc via their computers. And, with approximately 75% of newsworthy cyber attacks in 2014 being geared toward cyber crime, cyber espionage or cyber warfare, I’m not surprised.2
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5 Ways to Safeguard Your Business Against Hackers

Keyborad Illitstation

If you think your business is in no danger of getting hacked, you’re probably wrong. We’re all painfully aware that big companies aren’t immune. Between December 2013 and November 2014, Sony, Home Depot, JPMorgan, eBay, and Target had over 440 MILLION total records stolen by hackers. The data stolen in these attacks included proprietary information, employee details, credit card numbers, email addresses, physical addresses, and login credentials.1
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3 Android OS Security Tips

cell-phone-locked

There’s a lot of debate out there about whether iOS or Android is better. Both systems have their devoted fans and their frenetic detractors. This post is not meant to jump into that debate. It’s simply meant to look at some of Android’s latest security and give you some advice on how to protect your information on your Android device. However, it’s not possible to talk about Android security without mentioning the fragmentation issue.  [Read more…]

Safe Holiday Shopping Using Public Wi-Fi

Unlock Wifi

Mobile Commerce

Thanksgiving and Black Friday are behind us, which means the holiday season is in full swing—and so is holiday shopping. Since the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, more and more of that shopping takes place using smartphones and tablets every year. I’ve already talked about how global mobile data traffic has been growing at a speed worthy of a Formula 1 racecar, but an ever increasing number of people are also shopping via their mobile device. With the proliferation of public Wi-Fi access and the new Wi-Fi Hotspot 2.0 technology, consumers are increasingly connecting their devices to public access points, and many of them are doing so to shop. [Read more…]

With 3D Printing, the Future Is Now!

3D-Printing

Even if you’ve never watched Star Trek: The Next Generation, you’ve probably heard of the show’s “replicators” that created food and other objects on demand. The show was never very clear on how these machines worked, but they could create pretty much any inanimate object as long as its molecular structure was on file. When the show debuted in 1987, that idea was generally considered to be a pretty outlandish aspect of the science fiction show. However, with the recent emergence and advancement of 3D printing technology, I think we’re moving toward a reality where the idea of replicating objects from raw materials is a generally accepted practice rather than an element of science fiction. You may even say that the future is now. [Read more…]