Thursday, 13 June 2019

The five burning Pixel 4 questions following Google's official 'leak'

Google might have pulled the greatest trick with the Pixel 4. On Wednesday afternoon, the Made by Google Twitter account confirmed a leak that was just starting to make the rounds: the Pixel 4 will finally have a second camera on the back, along with a new design that looks an awful lot like the presumed iPhone 11. And in doing so, it made the Pixel 4 a whole lot more interesting. That's because there’s a lot more to be excited about than a square camera bump and a new sensor. Google may have squashed a few months of rumors and leaks with the first Pixel 4 image, but it also completely changed my expectations for the upcoming handset. Now by revealing what should be one of the phone’s biggest features months ahead of the game, Google actually created more hype of the phone.

Here are the five questions to ask

(1) What does the front look like? Now that we know what the back of the Pixel 4 looks like, the question remains: How big is the display on the front? Google has steadily increased the size of the Pixel and the Pixel XL over the three iterations, but with phones like the Galaxy S10 5G and OnePlus 7 Pro pushing the display size all the way to 6.7 inches, Google could go really big with the Pixel 4.
And more then there’s those bezels. And the chin. And the notch. Let’s face it, the Pixel has never been a phone that people drool over, but recent renders have suggested that Google might be fixing the Pixel’s bland design with the Pixel 4. I mean, is it possible they showed us the back early because the front is so beautiful?

(2) What will the new camera do? OK, so the Pixel 4 will have a dual-camera array on the back. Big deal right? Basically every Android phone for the past two years has had at least two main cameras for ultra wide, telephoto, and/or depth shots, and the new hotness is triple and even quad cameras. So the mere inclusion of a second lens on the Pixel 4 isn’t a reason to get excited. What’s more intriguing is what those cameras will be able to do. With just a single lens, Google has delivered some awesome features on its Pixel phones, including Top Shot, Night Sight, and portrait mode, so we can only imagine what it will be able to do with twice as many cameras. Already, Google delivered Group Selfie Cam with the dual front camera on the Pixel 3, but we’re hoping there’s a whole lot more packed into the Pixel 4.

(3) Where’s the fingerprint sensor? One thing that's missing from the Pixel 4 render Google tweeted out Wednesday was the fingerprint sensor. Normally holding court just below the camera, its conspicuous absence means one of two things: It’s moving under the display or into the front camera a la the LG G8’s time-of-flight sensor. It’s the second option that’s particularly enticing. While the LG G8 was packed with useless gimmicks that let you unlock your phone with your palm and answer calls with a swipe of your hand, Google could be upping the game with the hands-free Soli radar chip, which was first teased at Google I/O way back in 2015. but in anycase, instead of using it to control the screen without touching it, Google could use hand gestures to control Assistant or maybe take a photo without struggling to tap the shutter.

(4) What’s the real killer feature? If Google is showing off the camera now, what does it have up its sleeve? Yes there will be new photography features and possibly a time-of-flight camera, but will the Pixel 4 also bring a new trademark feature like Active Edge or Call Screen? Most of the Pixel’s best features have come from Google’s incredible AI, so with this on ground, we’ll be waiting for the “wow” moment during the press conference that trumps the new camera.

(5) Does hardware even matter? As the case is now, most phone makers go to great lengths to quash leaks and rumors so they can surprise fans on launch day, but Google is flipping the script here. By showing us the back of the phone months before it’s revealed, it’s taking the emphasis off aesthetics as the most important part of its new phone and putting the focus on what it can do. Phone fans and reviewers put a lot of stock in what a handset looks like, but the Pixel has always bucked that trend, scoring high marks despite its pedestrian design. Even though this this leak is showing off a major change to the Pixel aesthetics, Google is giving us much of time to soak in the new look so it won’t be an issue—good or bad—when the phone actually arrives. In short, it’s saying that what’s on the outside doesn’t matter, it’s what inside that counts. That’s always been the case with the Pixel, but now Google is really driving it home.

Thanks for reading.....

Saturday, 25 May 2019

Cybersecurity Still a Big Concern Among Global Workers, Despite GDPR

Presently, a new survey of 3,000 professionals in the U.S., Europe, and Asia reveals that just 39% of respondents feel their personal data is more secure under the European Union's data protection and privacy measure.
As a result of GDPR compliance, 57% of respondents say their businesses have implemented stricter data protection processes to secure customer data.
74% of respondents say the tech industry needs more regulations to improve cybersecurity. More than half of the world's population can connect to the web. As a result, the amount of data that flows freely over the internet – including sensitive personal data – has created a cybersecurity industry that's expected to balloon to $300 billion by 2024. It's also encouraged the governments to step in to protect users' privacy and data. One such measure was the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The GDPR, which went into effect last year, is the EU's wide-net approach to protect its citizens' data and privacy. The law applies to all businesses that deal in EU citizens' customer data, regardless of the company's size, industry or country of origin. As a result, companies with an online presence had to comply with the new rules. But did GDPR regulations actually make people feel more secure?

On this note, according to a newly released study from Snow Software, internet users have conflicting feelings about the GDPR rules and its ability to keep sensitive information safe. Of the more than 3,000 professionals from the U.S., Europe and Asian Pacific regions that were surveyed, just 39% of respondents said they felt their personal data was more secure under the GDPR. Furthermore, 34% said they felt the same as they did before data protection regulation became law, 20% said they were unsure, and 6% said they felt their data was less secure.

"One year since the introduction of GDPR, the regulation has started a global dialogue around how customer data is cared for and, if nothing else, has helped to strengthen best practices to ensure data protection," said Alastair Pooley, chief information officer at Snow.

Following GDPR implementation, workers notice changes

As one of the most powerful tools at our disposal, the internet is integral to almost every business. As such, once the GDPR requirements became the a major issue on global standard, companies around the world changed how they handled their customers' data so they could avoid penalties for noncompliance.

The survey asked people in different professional roles how safe they felt their data was with GDPR data protection rules in effect. Most management-level employees said they felt their data was more secure, with 55% of vice presidents and C-level employees, 52% of directors, and 47% of managers reporting in the positive. Independent contractors, however, felt the opposite, as just 26% of specialists, 27% of entry-level employees and 29% of associates felt their data was more secure.

According to Snow's survey, more than half of respondents (57%) said they witnessed stricter policies at work surrounding the use of technology and customer data after their companies became GDPR compliant. While workers in most regions answered that way, European respondents were the most likely to notice changes, as 70% said the changes were noticeable. In comparison, 61% of Asia Pacific respondents and 40% of American workers said they'd noticed policy changes at work.

Location wasn't only a factor for changes in the workplace. Of the survey respondents who reported working at a medium-sized business with 100 to 1,000 employees, 65% said they'd noticed policy changes once the GDPR rules went into effect.

Though most workers said they'd noticed changes, Pooley noted that the remainder of people who hadn't felt any changes still made up a large portion of the workforce. Even though the changes may not have been fully grasped by some workers, he said the data protection directive is working.

"Whilst workers themselves may not directly feel this impact yet, the increase in data breach notifications being reported to the UK's Information Commissioner's Office is noteworthy, as it suggests that transparency was seriously lacking prior to enforcement," Pooley said. "There is still a lot to do, but it is clear that considerable steps have been made by organizations worldwide to ensure there are enhanced data protection efforts and improved transparency globally."

How GDPR regulations have changed the way people now use the internet
Still on the same lane with its impact on businesses, Snow's research investigated how people were reacting to the data protection law and its effect on their internet use in the last year. What the data found, officials said, was that people were slightly annoyed at the increase of data privacy popups, but still felt more security measures were needed.

According to the survey, 74% of global respondents said they noticed an increase in popups or opt-ins requesting consent for using personal information. Generally, these notices are meant to inform users that their "cookies" are used for analytics, personalized content and potential marketing opportunities.

Since those notices have become a more common occurrence on the internet, 19% of respondents said the requests "negatively impacted their productivity," while 32% said they were increasingly annoyed by them. Approximately 49% of respondents said they either saw an increase or no change in the amount of spam they receive, regardless of the GDPR rules.

"Finally, the question that remains to be seen is whether the regulation and the controls implemented in its name will be strong enough to stand up to the rising tide of threats we face in the years ahead," said Pooley.

Even though the GDPR data privacy laws have caused some annoyance, 74% of respondents said they felt the tech industry needed more regulations to be put in place. When considering the current state of tech regulation, 24% of respondents said they felt vulnerable, 19% said they were worried and 29% said they were hopeful.

Sunday, 21 April 2019

Before You Relocate for Work, Ask Yourself These 7 Questions

Starting a new job is a nerve-wracking endeavor even under the best of circumstances. It's incredibly common to feel a flood of emotions, including excitement, nervousness, relief, regret and even panic. Adding a potential relocation to the mix only heightens these feelings.

Moving is universally cited as one of the most stressful experiences a person can face. It's right up there with divorce, loss of a job and death of a loved one. So, whether you are a seasoned professional considering a promotion or a recent college grad starting out in a new city, it's worth taking the time to determine if moving for a job is the best option for you.

Candidly asking yourself these key questions before taking the jump can give you some clarity about the value of a potential move.


1. Is this job and company a good fit? When it comes to you dealing with any opportunity, you need to thoroughly research your prospective employer. It would be devastating to uproot your life and move to a new city only to find on your first day on the job that your boss is a tyrant and the company is on its last leg. Before moving, take the time to look into the company's track record and investigate its potential for growth.

"Remember that what you see on its website and even in your interview may not be the entire truth," said Dr. Toni A. Haley, certified executive coach and CEO of Williams Wellness Group. "The company is trying to sell itself to you as much as you are trying to sell yourself as a candidate."

Glassdoor, Great Places to Work, Comparably and a host of other online resources can provide you with in-depth employer reviews, as well as compensation and company culture information. Haley advises digging even deeper by having dinner with your potential co-workers during the interview process.

"Be friendly in your conversation," she said, "but do not be afraid to ask pointed questions concerning work-life balance, job satisfaction, access to child care and healthcare, and general quality of life in your prospective city."

Even if you are staying with your current employer but transferring to a new location, make sure the local company culture is a good fit. In a new city where you have few to no friends, workplace culture becomes that much more important, said Jonathan Wasserstrum, CEO and co-founder of SquareFoot.

"The people in the office are going to constitute a huge part of your social life," Wasserstrum said. "If you feel at home in the culture and genuinely like the people you work with, that's going to help your quality of life substantially."


2. Will the employer cover relocation expenses? Here it's more important than ever to find out if your new employer will help you cover the cost of picking up and moving. Prior to 2018, you could deduct relocation expenses from your federal income tax. That deduction has now been eliminated for everyone except those in the armed forces. This means that whatever salary increase you scored with your new gig may very well be eaten up by the expense of resettling in a new city.

The level of relocation assistance varies widely – with smaller employers less likely to cover it at all – and can include moving expenses, temporary housing, help selling your current home, sponsored house-hunting trips or even a lump sum of cash to be used as needed.

Without minding the offer, it's important to get it in writing and see if you can negotiate additional coverage, according to Jill Santopietro Panall, owner and chief consultant of 21Oak HR Consulting.

"Trips … to look at the new location can be costly," Panall said. "Employees should be sure that any partner/spouse and any family/kids are allowed to come on at least one of the trips while scouting out the new location."

Furthermore, pay close attention to the fine print of your relocation contract. Some relocation agreements require you to repay expenses covered by the employer if you leave the company within a certain timeframe. You need to determine in advance if you are ready to reimburse your employer for the move if you decide to walk away from the job for any reason

3. What's the job market like in the area? When considering a move, many people don't think about what they will do if the job does not work out. Cheryl E. Palmer, founder of career coaching firm Call to Career, recommends finding out if your line of work is in high demand in the new area.

"You should know ahead of time what the job market looks like for people in your field so that you have a reasonable assurance that you can find another job if you ... have to look for new employment in a new geographic location," Palmer said.

And more, familiarize yourself with the job market in your desired location by checking local job listings for your field, identifying companies that have their corporate or regional headquarters in your area, and visiting websites, such as City-Data.com, that offer detailed information on employers in specific areas.

4. What's the cost of living? Before you move, compare the cost of living to your current situation and determine if your new salary will adequately cover your expenses.

Timothy Wiedman, retired associate professor of management and human resources at Doane University, has made five job-related relocations over a 41-year career. Wiedman once turned down a promotion because his employer wanted to relocate him from a low-cost location in the Midwest to Washington, D.C., without any allowance for the cost-of-living difference.

"I did enough research to realize that my standard of living would drop quite a bit, unless I could negotiate a raise," Wiedman said. "When those negotiations failed, I had to decline the promotion."

But even the promise of a higher salary shouldn't automatically sway you to move until you take stock of all of your expenses. If you are relocating to a more expensive area, your money – even if you have more of it – won't go as far. You may have to decide if you are willing to modify or sacrifice some aspects of your current lifestyle for the new job.

"Remember, $200,000 a year may equal comfortable living in one city but just barely getting by in another, especially when you account for family size or if you are the main breadwinner," Haley said.

While housing will take the biggest bite out of your budget, you will need to consider other expenses, such as groceries, utilities, transportation, healthcare and taxes. You can crunch the numbers with free online tools like BestPlaces, which lets you compare the cost of living between locations, and PayScale, which provides salary profiles for positions around the country.

5. How will my quality of life be affected? Identifying what you can and cannot tolerate is a major key to making a decision you will not regret.

"Evaluate your current lifestyle, and identify aspects you value most which may be affected by a move," said Lauren Herring, CEO of IMPACT Group.

For example, if you are a person who needs constant cultural stimulation, Herring suggests looking for a community with adequate access to concerts, sports, theater and shopping options.

Now for people concerned with high gas prices or the length of their commute, a deciding factor may be easy access to public transportation. For a parent, the safety of a neighborhood and the quality of schools and day cares in the area are priorities. Others may have to ask themselves if they will be happy living in an area prone to extreme weather conditions, such as long winters, tornadoes or hurricanes.

Make sure you always research and, if possible, visit the potential new city to see if it meets your needs and expectations, advises Wanda Gravett, academic program coordinator for Walden University's Master of Human Resource Management. "Consult people who have lived or are currently living there, and look at what else there is to do besides working.

6. How will this impact my family? It's so necessary to determine if your family is supportive and excited about the potential change or apprehensive about the move.

"The majority of failed moves that I have seen over the years happened because the spouse or family is unhappy in the new location and either don't fit in or can't find work and feel bored and alienated," Panall said.

So on this note, getting a move to work for everyone is messy and does not always leave all parties feeling like they are getting what they want. You will need to have candid conversations with your spouse or partner about how this change will impact their life, career and relationships. Together, you need to decide whether one of you is willing to deviate from your career trajectory for the other. If you have children, you will also need to consider if the move is in their best interests.

7. Will I have a social support system? One big aspect of relocation that is always overlooked is the role that social networks play in our lives and well-being. While moving closer to family and friends may be a motivating factor for someone looking to relocate, moving away from an existing support system may be a bigger price than some job seekers are willing to pay.

"Some people enjoy moving to an area where they don't have established ties because they enjoy making new friends," Palmer said. "Other people prefer to start with a network of people that they know and branch out from there."

If you are in the latter group and the job is taking you away from friends and family, you need to evaluate if you see yourself thriving in a location without a built-in support system. If you generally have a hard time making new friends, you may feel untethered in a new environment and overwhelmed by homesickness and loneliness.
Thanks for reading.....

Four things the Pixel 3a and 3a XL need to become Google's hero phones

After two years of focusing on Assistant, Android, and AI, Google is teasing a return to hardware announcements at its I/O developers conference. In a promo page tie-in with Avengers: Endgame posted on its storefront late Monday, Google made it known that “something big is coming to the Pixel universe” on May 7, which just so happens to be the same day as the I/O 2019 keynote. So unless Google is pulling a massive head fake here, it will be launching a new Pixel line at its conference this year.

On this note, there have already been rumors about a so-called Pixel 3a and 3a XL—including an accidental reference on the Google Store menu—and all indications are that these will be budget versions of Google’s flagship phones, with less-premium materials (plastic vs glass), an older processor (Snapdragon 600 series vs 800 series), and a lower-resolution screen (1080p vs 1440p). But if Google’s new phones are going to succeed where the flagship Pixels didn’t, they need to nail a few things right out of the gate.

Without going too far, here are six things the Pixel 3a needs to make Google’s new phone the one to buy.

1.A way lower price The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL begins at $799 and $899 respectively, a hair below Samsung’s and Apple’s most-expensive phones, but still very much at the high end of the market. Both Samsung and Apple offer affordable versions of their own handsets that start at $750, but Google is going to have to do better than that with the Pixel 3a.

Ideally a budget Pixel would begin at half the price of its premium counterpart: $399 for the Pixel 3a and $450 for the Pixel 3a XL. Google’s "budget" phones will have way more competition than its flagship models, and to make any headway, it needs to offer an attractive price. Basically, anything over $499 just won’t cut it, so forget about the $750 sweet spot carved out by Apple and Samsung.

2.The same camera as the Pixel 3 On this note the Pixel has made its bones on its superior camera capabilities, and the Pixel 3a can’t skimp in that department. It needs the same camera hardware as the Pixel 3 and 3 XL and, more importantly, the same features, including Top Shot, Night Sight, and free unlimited online storage in Google Photos. The best reason to buy a Pixel has always been the camera, and Google needs to bring that same mentality to the new model. Most lower-priced Android phones seriously skimp when it comes to the camera, so the Pixel 3a could set itself apart by bringing a premium shooter.


3.More carrier support Regarding that the Pixel phones have always been sold unlocked through the Google Store and technically work with any SIM, the first three Pixels have been solely offered through Verizon. That means anyone walking into an AT&T, T-Mobile, or Sprint store won’t be able to buy a Pixel—or even know it exists. So, if Google wants to compete with the sea of budget and mid-range phones out there, it needs to expand the Pixel 3a’s availability beyond a single carrier store. Rumors are starting to swirl about T-Mobile selling the new Pixel, so here’s hoping the exclusive shackles have finally been removed so anyone can find one.

4.Expanded color options This next is to the iPhone XR and Galaxy S10, the Pixel 3’s color options—black, white, and pale pink—are extremely dull. If the Pixel 3a is going to stand out, it needs to up its color game big time. I’m thinking Extremely Blue, Immensely Red, or Terrific Yellow. A new palette alone could make the Pixel 3a way more desirable that its peers.

Friday, 22 March 2019

Three Types of Bad Bosses and How to Deal with Them

Sometimes a difficult boss can make even the best of jobs a nightmare. Between mismanagement, narcissism, micromanagement and absenteeism, there are myriad ways to be a bad boss, and they can all result in poor employee retention.

On this note, according to a study from BambooHR, 44 percent of professionals have quit their job because of a difficult boss. With a good leader at the helm, employees tend to be engaged and productive, and contribute to a positive work environment. But employees who dislike their boss dread going into work, are not engaged, and are very likely to seek another job.
RiseSmart career coach Michele D'Amico said bad bosses typically fall into three categories: narcissists, hands-off managers and micromanagers. If you have one of these types of bosses, don't call it quits just yet – read these bad boss profiles and learn how to deal with them effectively.

1.The narcissist: Narcissists sometimes needs admiration, can't handle criticism and have a sense of entitlement. These bosses crave praise and acknowledgment while rarely giving it out.

Brandi Britton, a district president at Robert Half staffing firm OfficeTeam, said narcissists are hard to work for because they often undermine the efforts of others and rarely recognize individuals for a job well done. A narcissist often takes credit for employees' ideas and work, but they place blame on others when projects go awry.

Britton suggests the best way of dealing with a narcissist boss is to offer praise and acknowledgment to keep things on an even keel. But don't let them step all over you. "Set boundaries, and let your manager know if there's behavior you can't tolerate," she said.

"The best method of dealing with a narcissist is to keep your distance," said Steve Pritchard, HR consultant for Giffgaff. "Be courteous, professional and friendly, but be guarded. Don't share any personal information that could be used against you, and if they become aggressive or confrontational, do not engage in an argument."

Pritchard also suggests establishing boundaries and speaking up if they cross the line. "Let them know what they said to you was not acceptable and disrespectful."


2.The hands-off boss: Hands-off bosses are such types that don't provide much direction and often leave you to your own devices on projects. Some don't understand the day-to-day processes of your job; therefore, they don't provide insight or help. This can be frustrating for most employees who feel as though they are on an island and can't reach out for help.

Lois Krause, HR expert at KardasLarson, said the best way to deal with a hands-off boss is to communicate with them often. She suggests making appointments regularly with your boss to talk about questions and concerns.

"To avoid holdups, agree on what items you need your manager's review or approval [on] and what you can drive to completion on your own," Britton added. "Arrange to check in periodically, and don't hesitate to ask clarifying questions as they arise."

Pritchard suggests setting up individual weekly meetings to discuss projects, get direction and air any concerns you have.

"Do your best to keep an ongoing line of communication with them," he said. "Email is one of the best way to do this. It keeps everything in writing, and you are able to keep a record of how much you have had to chase them for answers and decisions."

3.The micromanager: Krause noted that micromanagers are difficult because they always think they have to do everything, and they need to feel that they are in control.

"They actually think that is their job," she said. "They are not happy unless they correct your work."

Employees should always communicate with their managers, but it's especially important to do so with micromanagers, since they tend to be perfectionists with trust issues.

"Adopt a no-surprises philosophy," said Phil La Duke, global principle consultant at ERM. "Immediately notify your boss if something has gone wrong, or if you talked to someone about the project – micromanagers can be a little paranoid." La Duke recommended staying sharp, hitting deadlines, and avoiding copping an attitude in response to your boss's apparent lack of trust.

"Remember that you are there to support the boss," added D'Amico, "no matter what [their] managerial style is."


Additional tips for dealing with bad bosses

1. Always communicate. Communication is a major key in business. It's also critical for keeping a boss happy – no matter how great or difficult they are.

"Use email to clarify what the boss is asking you to do, and keep them in the loop," said D'Amico.

2. Document conversations. D'Amico also recommends documenting conversations. This is very helpful for clarification later or if you want to seek help from the human resources department.

3. Stand up for yourself. In this case, if your boss starts to act like a bully, it's important to stand up for yourself and present yourself coolly but confidently, said Britton.

"Explain the rationale for your decisions and anticipate [their] questions so you're prepared to argue your stance," she said. "This type of boss tends to relent after hearing the voice of reason."

4. Try to empathize with your boss. In this case you need to consider if this is their first time as a boss, or if they are overwhelmed with their current position. Pritchard suggests trying to think about why your boss acts the way they do. Most of the time, these bosses don't know they are bad bosses.

5. Have a meeting with HR. "If you've done everything you can to improve a challenging situation with your manager and nothing changes, speak with your HR department to discuss ways to handle the situation," said Britton.

6. Have an exit interview. On this note, if you're unable to handle your boss and ultimately decide to leave the company, try to set up an exit interview with HR. Your feedback could save another employee the hassle of dealing with a bad boss.

"Be honest in relaying your feedback, but keep it constructive and professional," Britton said. "Your comments and suggestions could potentially result in positive change."

Thanks for reading

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Seven tweaks and changes in Android Q that will make your phone better than it is now

Right now on schedule, the first Android Q developer preview has arrived, and there’s a lot to unpack. As with the last few releases, there aren’t a ton of user-facing features just yet—those will likely be reserved for Google I/O and the Pixel 4 launch in September. Nevertheless, the changelog is still filled with plenty of interesting tweaks and additions that will make your phone better than ever once the OS lands in late summer.

The biggest change is one that most people won’t get to enjoy for years to come. Google already previewed its new folding interface with Samsung’s ultra-expensive Galaxy Fold, but now it’s making those new app actions—such as pause, resume, and resizing when opening a screen—available to all developers in order to make sure apps are displayed properly on the new crop of foldable screens.

But while a folding phone is still an unaffordable pipe dream for most of us, there are many features in Android Q that will make non-folding Android phones better than ever. Here are seven ways that your phone will benefit from the changes in Android Q.

1.Your data will be more secure: One of the biggest advantages iPhone users possesses over their Android-using friends is Apple’s commitment to privacy. Starting from apps to data, Apple locks down iOS so developers have little to no access to sensitive information, far beyond what Google demands in Android Pie. That’s changing with Android Q. Among the changes Google is bringing to the update is the ability to select whether to limit an app’s permission to see location to only when it’s in the foreground. Users will also be able to control apps’ access to photo, video, and audio files. And finally, Google will be limiting developer access to “non-resettable device identifiers,” which include IMEI and serial numbers.

2.You’ll be able to stay focused for longer: Here, if you’ve ever had an app take over your screen just because it needs to tell you something, that’s going to change in Android Q. Google is opening up access to high-priority notifications that alert you to an alarm or phone call via a banner at the top of the screen so you will be able to decide for yourself whether to dismiss it or stop what you’re doing to address it.

3.Sharing will finally be fast and easy: For as fast and reliable as Android has gotten over the years, one area where it’s always been frustratingly slow is sharing. Google is fixing that in Android Q. Now when you tap the share icon “the share UI will load instantly when launched,” eliminating the annoying lag we experience now. That’s due to a new Sharing Shortcuts API that takes its inspiration from the App Shortcuts introduced with Android 9.

4.The right settings will always be at your fingertips: Google is also making a big change to how it manages settings. On that note, a new Settings Panel API will enable developers to build quick settings right into their apps so you won’t need to jump to a different app or even pull down the notification shade to tweak something. As Google explains, “a browser could display a panel with connectivity settings like Airplane Mode, Wi-Fi (including nearby networks), and Mobile Data” all without needing to leave the app.

5.Wi-Fi calls and gaming will be better than ever: Right now, Wi-Fi 6 is on the way, and we’re already starting to see phones that use the new chip, but Android Q will make your Wi-Fi faster and smarter even if you aren’t able to take advantage of the new standard. A new feature will give chance for specific Wi-Fi modes so developers will be able to enable high performance and low latency modes to help with gaming and Wi-Fi calls. That means those annoying delays when streaming games over Wi-Fi or making calls could be a thing of the past.

6.You’ll be able to do more with your portraits: Portrait mode is pretty much standard on all 2019 Android phones, so Google is exploring ways to enhance it. In Android Q, Google is tapping into that data by letting apps request a Dynamic Depth image, which is made up of “JPEG, XMP metadata related to depth related elements, and a depth and confidence map embedded in the same file on devices that advertise support.” So in this case camera and photo apps will be able to do more with portrait mode, including specialized blur and bokeh options, the creation of 3D images, and even AR applications.

7.Apps will launch even quicker: All Android release brings changes to the code that make the system feel snappier, and Android Q is no exception. Google is beefing up its ART runtime to help apps start faster and consume less memory—and developers don’t even have to change their apps to benefit. Starting with Android Q, Google Play will begin delivering anonymized cloud-based profiles that let parts of an app pre-compile before it even starts running, resulting in “a significant jump-start to the overall optimization process.”

Thanks for reading

How to Create a Great Corporate Logo

In the real sense, a company's branding is an important part of its consumer-facing identity. No aspect of branding is more visible or immediately recognizable than a company logo. Given the prominence of the logo, how significant is the impact of company rebranding efforts? How can businesses go about rebranding the right way, rather than confusing or upsetting their audiences?

Now, in a recent study, C+R Research examined some major brands and how their logos have changed in relation to their revenue over time. The results shed some light on corporate logo design and the benefits and risks rebranding poses to business. Big companies like Starbucks, Apple, Amazon and Levi's have all taken different approaches to logo redesigns and rebranding throughout their histories. These industry giants' rebranding experiences hold valuable lessons for small businesses considering doing the same.


Starbucks: Starbucks, the ubiquitous coffee shop, was established in 1971 with a retro, brown version of its now so-known circular logo. It first added the green and white color scheme in 1987, then updated it with a sleeker style in 1992.

In 2011, Starbucks dropped the text – which read "Starbucks Coffee" – from its logo entirely, leaving it with just the central image. Each rebrand was a new iteration of the same logo, with minor changes, often in the direction of a sleeker, more minimalist style.

Apple: This company was founded in the year 1976, Apple launched with a drastically different logo from the well-known apple it boasts today. The very next year, Apple underwent a drastic redesign that introduced the first apple logo, with a rainbow color scheme. In 1998, Apple rolled out two new logos based on the same image: one in black and the other in a light blue. In 2001, Apple's chrome logo debuted. Then the company started to increase sales and, in 2007, debuted another chrome apple logo, with a shimmery new finish. Lastly, the company introduced a new iteration of the simple black apple logo, which it still uses today.

Apple's logo redesigns almost always seem to be moving forward toward a futuristic or advanced feeling. These types of efforts would naturally be useful to a big technology company's brand.

Amazon: After incorporating in 1994, Amazon's logo was rebranded in 1997 with two new logos, one of which would go on to serve as the basis for its modern "Amazon.com" imagery. One year later, the company developed two more logos. In 2000, Amazon rebranded yet again, this time sticking with the logo for the long haul.

Amazon has cultivated a brand around one image after iterating six separate logo designs in its first six years of existence. Importantly, Amazon began as a bookseller, then expanded to "books, movies and more," and now has a hand in seemingly everything. It's common for a company to rebrand when the business model changes or expands.


Levi's: A major observation here is that, Levi's is known for one major product: jeans. This famous denim company was established in 1853 and only once changed its logo – in 1936, to the red and white Levi's imagery of today. The brand has used the same logo ever since.

With such an iconic name – Levi Strauss – attached to an easily identifiable product, it's worth asking if Levi's ever really needed much of a logo redesign beyond the simple, recognizable logo designed in the '30s.

What lessons do these brands teach us?

While the study discovered that each company's revenue sometimes fluctuated around the time of logo change, there was no consistent correlation: The conditions surrounding a redesign and the actual product are service which are likely more important, said Matt Zajechowski, outreach team lead for Digital Third Coast.

"One thing this analysis confirms is that a lot of marketers who are fretting about the relation of brand aesthetic to revenue should probably be turning their attention to other things first," Zajechowski said. "There was no consistent, noticeable correlation that showed different logos lead to more or fewer sales. ... The most interesting pattern we noted is that many major brands, particularly tech brands, fuss with their logo a lot in the early years, then as soon as they take off and experience explosive growth, they back off the logo and leave it alone. Amazon, Microsoft and Twitter are very strong examples of this behavior."

When should you change your logo?

When your logo's style is outdated.
When your company is expanding its product line.
When companies are merging.
When you want to reduce negative associations with the brand.
When the brand has globalized, making language less relevant.

What do people respond to in a logo? According to C+R, the most effective logos are wordless and minimalist. Dan Ferguson, CMO at Adore Beauty, advises businesses to keep logos consistent, simple and memorable.

"Whether you’re starting from scratch or just want to give your logo a facelift, you should think carefully about the colors, shapes, patterns and fonts you use and the emotions they create around your brand," he said. "If there is a mismatch between your identity, values and logo, it can lead you down the difficult path of trying to market a disengaging or downright confusing brand."

Ferguson offered the following insights on different elements in a logo and what each can convey to a consumer.

Color: Color psychology performs a huge part in the messages that your logo sends and the way those messages are interpreted, said Ferguson. What do your logo colors say about your brand? What emotions do your colors elicit? Research by 99designs shows that consumers associate warm colors like red and orange with passion, vigor and energy, while cool colors like blue and green are associated with tranquility, refreshment and nature.

Shapes and lines: Logo shapes mean more than you might think. They can enhance your overall brand meaning and provide further insight into your identity and emotional messaging, said Ferguson.

Circular designs can convey ideas of positivity, endurance, community and even femininity (e.g., World Wildlife Fund, Chanel).
Square designs or those that use sharp, hard edges connote messages of balance, symmetry, strength, professionalism and efficiency (e.g., Adobe, National Geographic).
Triangles communicate messages that are intended to be masculine, powerful, scientific, legal or even religious (e.g., Adidas, Google Play).
Horizontal lines impart emotions associated with tranquility and community.
Vertical lines are more related to strength, aggression and masculinity.

Font Just the same as colors, fonts become identifiers for your brand and behave in a similar way to shapes. What messages do your fonts carry or reveal about your brand?

Angular fonts can reveal your brand identity as dynamic and assertive, while gentler, rounded typefaces come off as youthful and soft.
Bold fonts are more masculine, while cursive fonts are more feminine.
Lastly, Ferguson notes that one font in a logo is ideal, but don't mix more than two fonts. Whatever you choose should be clear and easy to read, he said.
Thanks for reading

Monday, 4 March 2019

The three obstacles that folding phones like the Samsung Galaxy Fold and Huawei Mate X need to overcome

In just a few months from now, the first folding phones will be available for sale, and if you have a couple thousand dollars burning a hole in your pocket, you can buy one for your very own. But while those first few buyers will be the talk of the town, the Samsung Galaxy Fold and Huawei Mate X might not be as top-of-the-line as their price tags would suggest.

While they certainly represent an advancement in overall smartphone technology and an exciting new direction for the future, in some ways, folding phones are a step backward from the premium phone we’re used to using. With that on ground, here are the three areas of concern we have as the folding revolution takes shape:
Display quality

The odd shapes of the folding displays are the major obvious challenge. When opened, Samsung’s Fold display has an aspect ratio of 4.2:3, with a 7.3-inch QXGA+ resolution somewhere around 2152x1536 pixels. The Huawei Mate X offers an 8-inch display with a 8:7.1 aspect ratio and 2480x2200 resolution. On the outside, Huawei’s main screen is 6 inches diagonally, with an aspect ratio of 19.5:9 and a resolution of 2480 x 1148. The Fold's outside display is a tiny 4.6-inch, 1960x840 screen with a 12:9 aspect ratio. All these means we’re going to have to learn all-new ways of holding these unconventionally shaped phones, and apps might look a little funky at the start. Beyond the ratios, the screens themselves look and feel a little weird. On this regard, if I hadn't seen the Mate X with my own eyes, I’d have thought the screen was a high-quality printout—it’s that glossy. Touching it was equally weird. While it doesn’t feel cheap per se, I could definitely feel that it wasn’t a completely flat screen like a tablet. I don’t know whether it was the thinness, the flexibility, or just my imagination, but I swear I could feel the ridges and imperfections as my finger moved across the display. Scrolling and tapping worked pretty much as expected, but the tactile sensation was quite a bit different than it is on a phone like the Galaxy S10.

The Mate X display also feels more like plastic than glass, so much so that I was afraid I would dent it if I pressed too hard. I’m sure Samsung and Huawei will go through countless revisions of their displays before they find a manufacturing method that’s feels right, but these earliest models will definitely show some growing pains. Then there’s the seam. Both companies have gone to considerable lengths to hide the center of their folding display in product shots and display units, but it’s definitely there. We saw it during the Samsung Unpacked demo, and I saw it during my hands-on with the Mate X. In this case, I have to assume it’ll only get worse with repeated folds. Display durability is definitely an area of concern with these early folding phones, and the fact that seems already visible isn’t a comforting sign.



Battery life

In the world of today, we’ve reached a point with contemporary phones where we’re pretty much able to leave our chargers at home, but folding phones could take a step back. Bigger displays use more power, but the folding phones' batteries haven't scaled to fit.

Granted, the batteries they have are beefy—4,380mAh on the Fold and 4,500mAH on the Mate X. The 6.6-inch Galaxy S10 5G has a 4,500mAh battery, however, and that only needs to power a mere 6.7-inch display. Let's not forget the additional power strains of switching screens, sensors, and 5G on these bleeding-edge folding phones.

Huawei has built 55W SuperCharge into the Mate X, and Samsung allows for wireless charging on the Galaxy Fold. Nevertheless, anyone hoping for a day of use out of either phone before charging is going to be disappointed. Regardless of costing thousands of dollars, these new folding phones might very well turn us into “wall-huggers” again.


User experience

The biggest concern with folding phones has less to do with design, fragility, or even longevity, and more to do with the real-world benefit. We might all want to run and see one as soon as they end up in stores, but my question is: Are they really giving us the best of both worlds?

With the Samsung version, you’re going from a 6.4-inch display in the Galaxy S10 to a 4.6-inch one in the Fold (when closed). And on the inside, you get a 7.3-inch display, which is only about a half-inch bigger than the S10 5G's. The Mate X is a little better with an 8-inch display, but the outside screen already offers a full six-inch workspace. So you’re really only gaining 2 inches by opening it, which isn’t really worth it in most situations. Huawei even admitted that they expect people will use it closed most of the day.

Samsung’s triple-multitasking is a more promising innovation for folding phones, but there should be needs for a real reason to jump from the small screen to a big one. We don't pick up a tablet because we want a little more screen—we use one because it offers a better experience for getting things done. I'm not sure we can say the same yet for folding phones. Thanks for reading....


This story, was originally published by PCWorld.

Do Advanced College Degrees Really Pay Off?

Almost every young professional has toyed with the idea of going back to graduate school. After all, an MBA or advanced degree could mean a higher salary, better prospects for advancement and the opportunity to expand education. The cost, however, is nothing to brush off – graduate degrees can cost upward of $100,000 depending on your degree and institution. In a world where almost 10 percent of adults over 25 already have one, the question remains: Is getting a graduate degree worth the cost?

As with every career or life-based question, the answer is very simple: It depends.

"What matters in career growth is performance," said Tim Ferguson, who has an MBA and is vice president of global business at KeyHero. "If you can lever your MBA to enhance performance, then do it. If that's not going to help, then don't."


You don't have any simple answer

It's pretty easy to reach for quantifications like average salary increase or the likelihood of a promotion when trying to justify graduate school, but experts say the real reason to pursue advanced education lies on your own goals and ideas about education.

If you want to be a surgeon or nuclear engineer, then, yes, you need to pursue graduate education. But if you've been working for a few years and are looking for a way to get ahead, or if you've just graduated and you're looking to expand your options, graduate school may not always be the best option.

If you're in an industry like business or technology, employers don't always require graduate education. What matters is your experience and what you can do for a company. Harj Taggar, CEO and co-founder of TripleByte, has worked extensively with startups as an advisor for Y Combinator. He said technology companies – especially startups – are going to analyze practical skills before education on things like business theory.

"An MBA only helps you talk about the theory of business, and I think the companies and startups don't want you to be an expert in theory," he said. "They want you to be an expert in the doing of business."

Yet there are many situations where graduate school is an ideal option for professionals working in the business or technology industries. The baseline, according to Ferguson, is using graduate education to supplement your career.

The best time for graduate education

The best time to pursue a graduate education is when you have a set idea about not only your career but where your passions lie. Graduate education is for expanding the mind and learning both theoretical and practical business skills in an area that excites you. Ferguson, who received his MBA from Loyola University Chicago, said the program allowed him to pivot from something he was interested in to an area of business that was his passion.

"If you're a lifelong learner and you feel compelled that you'll be smarter, better, faster if you get an MBA, go pursue it," he said. "If you're ready to get into the workforce and discovered that in two to three years your passion is starting to wane a bit, go back and get the MBA."

Thinking critically about pursuing an MBA can help illuminate a path forward for your career, as it did for Ferguson. Ferguson went back for his advanced degree after two to three years in the workforce. He knew he wanted to transition from the industrial side of business to the consumer products side. Getting his MBA allowed him to explore this new world and opened doors for him upon graduation.

Balancing the exploration of passion with a pragmatic approach to your career can be the best blend for someone considering graduate school. Scott Herness, dean of The Graduate School at Montclair State University, said those considering graduate school should strive for this balance.

"I'd advise young people considering graduate school to balance passion and pragmatism," Herness said. "When thinking about graduate school, consider not only what you love to study but how you might apply the advanced knowledge and professional skills you'll acquire to today's job market."

By blending passion with pragmatism, you can gain a better understanding of where your career and education is heading to.

The bottom line

Getting an advanced degree will never make or break your career. The most effective way to seek advanced education is to make sure you're considering its impact beyond just return on investment. Sure, having an MBA could mean you received a higher salary, but if it's in a field or industry that isn't for you, then it's probably not the best idea. When seeking an advanced degree, it may be best to turn inward and understand how exploring a new topic or area of business will affect your personal and professional growth.
Thanks for reading....

Five MWC Android announcements you might have missed but really need to know

As at now I guess you might have gotten your fill of the Huawei Mate X and the Samsung Galaxy Fold (if not, don’t worry we’ll have lots more to say about them), but there was plenty of important stuff announced during MWC that didn’t involve folding phones. And with so much hinge hype, some of them might have flown under your radar. So without going too far, here are five announcements made during MWC that you might have missed:


1.Google Assistant will be available in Messages

Back then, when Allo launched, one of its best features was having Google Assistant built right into your conversations. Now that Allo isn’t long for this world, Google has been slowly integrating the shuttered chat service’s features into Android Messages.

Now it’s Assistant’s turn. Google announced during MWC that its Messages app will soon be using on-device AI (which means Google won’t be reading your conversations) to offer Assistant-powered Smart Reply-like suggestion related to three categories: movies, restaurants and weather. So, if you’re talking about going to see Captain Marvel with your friends, Assistant might chime in via a small button with trailers or showtimes. It’s limited to English for now, but soon millions of people will have a new friend that knows everything.

2.Google Fi 5G is coming but it will be very limited

It was somehow impossible to avoid 5G while walking the MWC show floor (or really anywhere else in Barcelona), and lots of brands and carriers had a lot of pronouncements to make. Among them was Google, which announced that its Google Fi service will support 5G once it's available. But there's a catch: It's only for Sprint 5G-compatible and Designed for Fi phones. The current list of Designed for Fi phones is very short, with just a dozen or so handsets, meaning some 95 percent of Fi-compatible handsets will be stuck on LTE for years to come. However, future Pixel 5G users will have plenty to crow about.

3.You can buy a tiny terabyte for your phone
The top-of-the-line Samsung Galaxy S10+ might come with a full terabyte of storage, but what will happen if we told you that you might be able to double that? SanDisk and Micron have both announced 1TB MicroSD cards, with 160MBps and 100MBps read speeds, respectively. They’re coming in April, and as with all new ridiculous advancements in storage, it’ll cost you to be one of the first to climb on board—$450, to be precise. That’s a lot, but we still can’t wait for the first phone that supports a terabyte of storage inside and out.

4.Passwords may soon be a thing of the past

As time goes, security on Android phones is getting stronger with each passing update, but this latest strengthening doesn’t require a monthly patch. The FIDO Alliance announced this week that Android phones going all the way back to Nougat are now FIDO2 certified, meaning they can use their device’s fingerprint sensor or FIDO security keys for secure, password-less access to supported websites and apps. That is meaning that logging into your favorite sites and service will be getting a whole lot easier and more secure, cutting the SMS middleman out of the picture and eliminating the need to remember or retrieve complex strings of characters. More importantly, our phones will be getting a whole lot more secure, with stronger one-factor and nearly impenetrable two-factor authentication.

5.You can finally fit a 4K display in your pocket

For a while now, premium smartphone screens have been really good, but the best-of-the-best has remained just about of reach. Now it’s here: the first 4K display in a smartphone. Courtesy of Sony, the Xperia 1 has an eye-popping 6.5-inch, 3840x1644-pixel, 21:9 CinemaWide OLED display. It offers HDR remastering, 10-bit tonal gradation, and support for wide color space ITU-R BT.2020 as well as DCI-P3 with Illuminant D65. What all that means is Stranger Things three of them will look just as good on our phones as it does in our living rooms.

This story, was originally published by PCWorld. Thanks for reading...

Friday, 22 February 2019

Workplace Automation is Everywhere, and It's Never Just About Robots

There was one time when the term "automation" was closely associated with advanced manufacturing plants full of robotics. While it is true that this is a prime example of workplace automation – the process of replacing human labor with machine labor – it is far from the only example. Automation is present in modern businesses small and large, ranging from subtle features in common software applications to more obvious implementation, like self-driving vehicles.
Presently....there is much debate about where workplace automation will lead the economy to, but observers tend to agree on one thing: The trend is only gaining momentum. Every business process, such as human resource management and customer service departments, is on the table for automation, especially as technology becomes more sophisticated. No matter what the outcome, automation will undoubtedly change the workplace and, indeed, the wider economy. The only question is how much will it drastically transform the workplace?
Automation in the today's workplace

In the real sense, what does automation look like if it isn't towering robotics? Sometimes it's as simple as a set of tools housed within common business software programs. At its core, automation is about implementing a system to complete repetitive, easily replicated tasks without the need for human labor.

"Automation takes a lot of forms," said Fred Townes, co-founder and COO of real estate tech company Placester. "For small businesses, the most important thing is [repetition]. When you find something you do more than once that adds value … you want to look into automation."

Historically, automation required expensive servers and employing a team of experts to maintain them. For many small businesses, this was a cost-prohibitive measure that simply put automation out of reach. With the development of cloud-based platforms, however, automation tools are now accessible to even the smallest companies, Townes said. Thanks for reading......
Examples of common workplace automation

So far, many small business owners already use at least one common form of automation: email marketing. Companies like Zoho and Constant Contact offer software that allows users to tailor the parameters of their email marketing campaign to their liking and then set it to run automatically. For example, an introductory email can be uploaded into the software and sent as soon as a contact is added. The software can be configured to send a follow-up email days later only to those who opened the original email, without requiring any person on your staff to lift a finger. You can use these tools to develop relatively sophisticated email marketing campaigns with minimal attention.

Automating these repetitive business processes, Townes said, frees up humans for tasks that are less mundane or more valuable than those that can be completed by machines and software. However, more advanced forms of automation like machine learning can be used to complete higher order tasks that require a bit more adaptability. The ability of these software programs to learn over time means they can more quickly and effectively pore through massive troves of data and contextualize that information in a useful way for supporting internal decision making.

For instance, machine learning automation is making inroads in talent acquisition and employee recruitment, said Kriti Sharma, vice president of bots and AI at accounting and payroll software company Sage. For human resources departments, automating processes like tracking down potential candidates and scheduling interviews frees up time for humans to examine potential hires and determine who is the best fit for their organization.


"It turns out it is a big pain to hire the right people," Sharma said. "A lot is happening in recruitment systems and using AI to match the right people to the right team for the right projects."

Customer service departments are also getting an automation makeover with the introduction of tools like chatbots. These consumer-facing tools automate typical customer service interactions, answering inquiries immediately and only referring customers to a representative when the chatbot is insufficient for handling their needs. Up to 80 percent of customer service interactions could be handled by a chatbot alone, offering businesses the potential to significantly cut costs associated with conventional customer service.

Opportunities to automate common workplace processes are everywhere, which is why automation is becoming a common element of every business. Whether it's providing good customer service, streamlining the hiring process, or more efficiently managing marketing campaigns, automation is already playing a role in many businesses. As technology improves, more tasks will become available for automation as well; regardless of any other thing, we've only seen the beginning of workplace automation.


Machine learning----the driver of more sophisticated automation

Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) enable new forms of "smart" automation. As the software learns, the more adaptable it becomes. These technologies open the door for automation of higher-order tasks as well, rather than just basic, repetitive tasks.

"I think there are so many focus at the moment on these tasks that humans don't want to do," Sharma said. "But what's going to happen in the future is … automation will not just be about automating those tasks humans are doing today, but it will be about realizing potential opportunities."

As data sets become more thorough and available, and as software draws on more sources and synthesizes more data points, Sharma said, contextual information in human decision-making will only improve. Machine learning, then, will serve as a supplement (perhaps even an enhancement) to human knowledge. Combine those capabilities with improved data retention through the internet of things (IoT) and the possibilities are seemingly endless.

Townes proposed that a shift toward more attractive user experiences with machine learning programs is already underway. To make interacting with these tools more natural and intuitive, companies will begin tailoring AI and automated technologies for a more organic, human experience, he said.

And more, to make customer service chatbots appear more human, for example, Sage has intentionally built "imperfections" into its AI. For example, the answer to a user's question might already be queued up by a chatbot, but Sage built a slight "thinking" delay into its system to simulate a more human customer service interaction. An ellipsis in the chat box indicates that the bot is "writing" a response, even though it immediately pulled up the queried information. Sharma said initial user feedback to the feature is highly positive, reflecting a desire for a more human, less machine-like interactive experience.

"Things will get more and more accessible," he said. "These technologies is not going to replace the human being, but they will relieve the human being of the things that are less valuable, relatively speaking. [Humans] will be able to instead focus on those things that require creativity and touch; we'll see more accessible, better experiences, and we'll see human beings move to their highest and best use."

For humans, the shock of an increasingly automated world can be difficult to process. According to Sharma, successfully integrating automation into human life starts with a comprehensive effort to educate people about what automation is, what it isn't and what it means for them.

"Users are always initially surprised [by the capabilities of automation,]" Sharma said. "The first time they see something automatically there's a bit of delight, and also a bit scary to them until you show them the process the software went through. It's more of an educational challenge, not so much a tech problem."

Reducing the pain of transition

The steady march of workplace automation has prompted discussion about the future of a fully automated economy. Efficiency, convenience and profitability are naturally on top of the list, but so too are concerns about the fates of workers whose jobs are automated out of existence. There are several proposals to support those displaced in an increasingly automated world, such as retraining programs and universal basic income.

When it comes to supporting those left behind in an automated economy, there are so many questions than answers, and there are many competing perspectives. Some, like Fred Goff, CEO of Jobcase, anticipate that expanded access to educational and networking opportunities will offer workers the opportunity to remake their careers and find a way in the new economy to support themselves and their families.

"The same kind of tech that displaces certain workers also opens up new opportunities," Goff said. "Work life has changed to the point where everyone is essentially their own free agent; managing yourself has really become the theme in the last 10 years, and so we're trying to empower people through tools and open-ended community."

Jobcase itself is a community of 70 million people, including experts and professionals in a variety of industries. As far as education goes, Goff pointed to resources like Khan Academy, which offers free courses on topics like economics and coding. Certifying the skills learned on these platforms, Goff said, will likely come increasingly from completing freelance tasks, rather than from academic institutions.

"The rise of platforms for gigs and 1099 labor are increasingly breaking down this notion of (skill certification)," Goff said. "It might still be difficult to get that full-time job, but building on contracted experience is a way to give that competency verification. In the education and training world, it means decoupling the certification of your education from the delivery of your education."

In other words, the people you've worked with would increasingly certify your skill set and level of competence, rather than an established institution with a four-year degree program.

Others, like James Wallace, co-founder of Exponential University, see an automated future that eschews the conventional notion of jobs altogether. Wallace said that by embracing automation and high tech, individuals could be empowered to create incomes on their own, without the need for a traditional, hierarchical company.

"We're living through something now that is unfortunate but necessary pain," Wallace said. "The conversation should be how to reduce those growing pains. The reality is the ultimate effect of automation is something very positive for everyone."

Naturally, Wallace said, the economic insecurity displaced workers feel is so real, but automation is not the enemy. Instead, Wallace hopes to educate people about leveraging this powerful technology to create their own incomes – essentially establishing a society of entrepreneurs and small companies.

"If we can establish a way to make sure we all have enough food, clothing and shelter to survive … and allow people to repurpose their gifts, unique abilities and enable them to proliferate that and sell it as a good or a service, then we're adding income," Wallace said. "We can create an opportunity to generate income for next to nothing, so why not teach people to leverage the tech that disrupted the marketplace in the first place to embrace it and use it for something more in line with who they are, as an expression of their unique abilities?"


Automation for efficiency and profitability

And now, on this note. The bottom line of business process automation is, well, the bottom line. Automating processes saves time and enables resources to be diverted elsewhere. It means companies can remain smaller and more agile.

Increased efficiency, productivity and lower costs all translate to healthier profit margins for businesses small and large. How automation transforms the economy at large remains to be seen. In anycase, it appears inevitable that we're headed toward a future of more automation.

What this means for businesses, workers and consumers will be the subject of much debate moving forward. One thing seems certain, however: If it can be automated, it will be.

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Hands on: How you can use Wireless PowerShare on the Galaxy S10 to charge another phone

Samsung is so confident in the Galaxy S10’s battery that it’s allowing you to give away some of your precious percentage points. A new feature called Wireless PowerShare allows you to literally turn your S10 into a wireless charging mat so you can power up another Qi-enabled phone just by laying it on the back of the S10.
It works on all three models. Here’s how to use it:

Pull down on the notification shade until the Quick Settings appear.

If you don’t see a Wireless PowerShare button, swipe to the left to find it and tap the button to turn it on.

Lay the S10 on its face and place a second phone, Galaxy Watch, or Galaxy Buds case back-to-back against the S10. For best results, you’ll want to line up the phones the same way to prevent slipping and make sure the coils meet.

When you’re finished, you should remove the phone, and pull down the notification shade. You’ll see a persistent notification for Wireless PowerShare. Tap as usual to expand it, and then tap Turn off to stop it.

You can still use your S10 while charging the other phone. Wireless PowerShare obviously will drain your phone’s battery faster, so be mindful of how much battery life is being used. On average, you’ll lose about 25 percent of your battery per hour, but your mileage will vary.


This story, was originally published by PCWorld.

Saturday, 16 February 2019

Characteristics of a Good Leader: Some Tips for New Managers

Management is never easy. Even with hundreds of available resources, stepping into a management role for the first time can feel a little like jumping out of a plane, even if you have a parachute strapped to your back.

In this case, you're suddenly responsible for the well-being, production and success of a team of people, and you are the one they'll turn to if anything goes wrong, which can be a daunting change if you're used to looking to someone else for answers.

It takes time to adjust to a new position, especially as a first-time manager, and it's easy to get overwhelmed. Now you need to just remember that you're not alone and that everyone starts somewhere.



Characteristics of a good manager

Here, we outlined four main characteristics of a good manager (and some to avoid), asked some experienced leaders for their best advice for new managers, and we listed some personal development options to help get you started and flourish in your new role.

Collaborative

The creation of a collaborative environment where everyone feels heard, respected and valued is one major key step for new managers. Having a team that works together establishes a more welcoming, supportive company culture. As a manager, you can encourage this by demonstrating passion and positivity for your work as well as embodying the company culture.

Summer Salomonsen, former chief learning officer at Grovo, suggested delegating tasks, encouraging communication and feedback through regular one-on-one meetings, and prioritizing reciprocal trust among the team.

Growth-oriented

As a manager, you should focus on helping your employees progress – individually and collectively. Get to know your workers on a personal level so you can help them leverage their interests and talents. Find what works and what doesn't, and work on identifying and removing obstacles so your employees can perform at their best.

Will Esdaile, vice president of marketing at Homebase, suggests that managers "have a development goal that isn't about the business. Have one goal focused on the development of a person (or people) on your team that isn't connected to a business outcome. This could be developing confidence in presenting by sharing work to a big group or learning a new language."

Excellent communicator

A fact here is that----communication is a driving force behind nearly everything we do as humans, and being a clear communicator is vital as a manager. You should set clear expectations for your employees, be transparent about important topics, and establish guidelines for giving and receiving feedback.

Salomonsen said that in order to inspire original thinking, managers should create an inclusive culture where everyone can voice their concerns, opinions and ideas. Encourage authenticity and vulnerability by leading by example. Ask for help. Turn to your team when you're at a loss. Start a conversation, and be open to wherever it leads.

Impact-driven

Every worker wants to feel valued, so in this case if they don't believe their work is making a difference in some way, they won't be as motivated.

Yaniv Masjedi, chief marketing officer at Nextiva, said new managers should "take some time to get to know each team member's strengths and where they need extra support. Use assignments as a learning process for you and your team. Then support where needed and learn extra hard when you're able to."

Masjedi also advised taking an iterative approach and continuing to learn alongside your team as you grow into your role. Employees will see that you're putting in work to improve, which will inspire and motivate them to do better in their own roles.

Behaviors you should avoid

"It's all too easy for new managers to adopt bad habits in the busy early days of their new role," said Salomonsen. "Without the right guidance, we typically see first-time managers fall into common behavior traps. "

She noted six management behaviors to avoid:

Only providing feedback during performance reviews or when issues arise
Micromanaging rather than trusting your team
Failing to ask for or address questions, feedback or concerns
Being closed-minded to criticism or new ideas
Avoiding difficult yet necessary conversations
Setting expectations too high or too low, or not being clear with your goals

Management development opportunities

You should never feel lost or unsupported when taking on a new role, especially as a leader. Here are three ways you can learn and grow in your new position.


Management training

According to a research study by Grovo, 87 percent of managers wish they were given the chance to learn and progress when they first assumed their role, and nearly half of new managers felt they were unprepared for their position.

So in this case, every company should offer training before hiring. However, whether because of the price of programs or lack of time, many don't prioritize management development as much as they should. In fact, some even reserve these programs only for senior leaders and offer workshops just a few times a year, said Salomonsen.

"These sessions may be rewarding and inspiring, but they rarely make an impact on day-to-day work," she added. "Moreover, sending every new manager to a management seminar their first week on the job is prohibitively expensive for most companies."

An option, especially for small businesses, is to turn to internal training. Host a few sessions with other company experts or managers to run through the basics. Often, employees are promoted to a management role, so they already have an idea of company standards and what's expected of them.

Microlearning

Microlearning is on it's case, is a popular training method for small businesses. It's quick, intensive and collaborative. Managers can learn all they need to know in short bursts, without feeling overwhelmed.

"With microlearning, both new and experienced managers can access digestible lessons that focus on the critical behaviors they need to perform their best, right in the course of their day-to-day work," said Salomonsen. "Done right, a microlearning approach enables managers to quickly put new knowledge into practice and gradually improve their habits and skills over time."

Not only is this method of learning more efficient, it's also far more affordable than extensive training programs.

Mentors and L&D partners

Working with a mentor or learning and development (L&D) partner can set new managers up for success by providing them with personal support and expert knowledge.

"Each person is different, and every new manager has their own areas of growth in the early days of their new role," said Salomonsen. "Whether they need to develop their interpersonal skills, time-management skills, strategic planning skills or leadership approach, they will need support from senior colleagues … So, finding a management mentor or L&D partner early can help set a strong foundation for the new manager's development in their role."

Keep an open mind about colleagues, friends and professional connections, and network as much as possible. Once you work with someone who can guide you through the beginning process, you'll feel more confident in your role.

Brett Helling, owner of Ridester, added, "Everybody needs a mentor. Find one and discuss the problems you are facing. Having a mentor or someone with expertise is the clear indication of growth within yourself." Thanks for reading...

Five obscure Android features you need to start using

If you’ve been using Android for more than a few years, it can be easy to forget just how far we’ve come. Google has added a ton of useful features to Android, and some of the best don’t get as much attention as they deserve. But at this point, we can fix that.

Here are the five most underappreciated features hiding in the latest versions of Android.
1.Notification channels

Notification overload is so common if you have a bunch of noisy apps installed. But you don’t have to shut off all your notifications or uninstall any apps just to reduce the clamour. Android supports notification channels, allowing you to cut down on the noise while still getting the information you care about. All apps targeting Android Oreo or later have notification channels, which are accessible by going to Settings > Notifications, then clicking on an app name, and then clicking Notifications. Once here, you can uncheck any of the sub-categories to block specific types of notifications unique to the app. You can also tap on the name of the channel to change its priority and behavior. For example, you can prevent pop-over alerts but still have a notification appear in the shade.


2.Customize optimized apps

The introduction of Doze Mode in Android 6.0 changed the whole thing. Finally, you could leave a phone sitting for a few hours and not have to worry about some background app frying your battery. However, sometimes you want trusted apps to have full background access—for example, Google Photos so it can upload your images faster. Luckily, you have access to the Doze Mode settings.

The menu is a bit buried in newer version of the OS. As of Pie, it’s in Settings > Apps & notifications > Advanced > Special app access > Battery optimization. Simply find the app you want to exempt and tap to switch from “Optimize” to “Don’t optimize.” As long as the app is a good piece of code, it shouldn’t wreck your battery. Just don’t exempt too many apps from Doze.



3.Scheduled Do Not Disturb

So you picked a neat ringtone, great. That doesn’t mean you want it going off in the middle of the night or during a meeting. Enter Android’s Do Not Disturb feature, which includes scheduling settings.
To do this, go to Settings > Sound > Do Not Disturb. Under “Turns on automatically,” you can choose when Do Not Disturb activates and shuts off by creating a new “Time” rule. This is part of the system-level Android settings, so it will even sync across devices when you set up a new phone.

4.App shortcuts on your home screen

Google have  added App Shortcuts (initially called Launcher Shortcuts) to Android back in Android 7.1, but it’s easy to forget they’re lurking behind your icons. A long-press can provide quick access to specific parts of the app, saving you time. However, you can do more than tap on those shortcuts. You can also add them to your home screen. To save one of the app shortcuts from an icon, simply long-press on the icon to open the shortcut lits. Then, long-press and drag on the shortcut you want to use. Drop it on your home screen, and the shortcut will be available just like a regular app icon. One tap and it opens the predetermined part of the parent app. For instance, you can create a Message shortcut for the person you text the most, a shortcut to compose a new email in Gmail, and a shortcut to set a new alarm in Clock.

5.Pin in share menu

Android’s share menu—that's an interface where you can pick from a list of apps to share web pages, photos, and other types of content—has some problems, but it’s majorly more usable now that you can pin apps you use frequently. The share menu can be quite sluggish, after all. So setting the most important sharing icons at the top could save you from opening the full share panel. To pin an item in the share list, you’ll have to find it one last time. Then, long-press and select “Pin.” That sticks the item at the top of the share menu permanently. This is quite useful if you want to pin, say, Messages at the top of your sharing interface.

This story, was originally published by PCWorld.


Tuesday, 12 February 2019

How You can Secure a Business Grant

While it may seem like nothing in this world is free, that isn't necessarily the case when talking about business grants.

Business grants are essentially free money given to businesses by various sources that doesn't have to be repaid. In the real sense, they can be an ideal solution for businesses in need of additional capital. However, they should only be relied upon as a bonus source of income, not a necessity.

Although the thought of someone giving your small business free money is appealing, the process of applying for and acquiring one is always lengthy and challenging.

Now if you think a grant may benefit your business, it is important to fully understand who offers them and how to apply for one.



Where to find business grants

While there are so many options for business grants, they all basically come from one of three sources, according to Priyanka Prakash, a lending and credit expert at Fundera.


Government agencies

Grants is able to come from the federal or state level, or a local government. These grants have the narrowest eligibility and are usually only provided to businesses rooted in science, technology, agriculture, energy or other industries that will bring direct growth to the community.


Nonprofits

These grants are primarily based on specific underrepresented demographics, such as women entrepreneurs, veteran proprietors and business owners of color.

For-profit organizations

These come from institutions like banks and have the broadest eligibility criteria. These grants are given based on merit and application materials, like essays.


What to do before applying 


One important note here is that, preparation is key when it comes to grant applications. Since applying for a grant is time-consuming, the experts we spoke with said there are a number of steps you should to take to properly prepare for your application and simplify the process.



Define the funding: Amad Ebrahimi, CEO and founder of Merchant Maverick, said business owners should outline the specific funding needed and identify the precise objectives a grant will help them achieve.

Create a detailed business plan: According to Ebrahimi, the next step is creating a business plan. Your plan should include important details about your business like a company description, business structure, service offered, financial projections and other useful information.
Compile administrative details: Prakash identified important details to compile, such as the business owner contact information, planned use of the grant money, business license number, the business's tax ID (EIN) number, and revenue vs. profit history/projections.


Gather business records:Ebrahimi said business owners should assemble all the necessary business records, and, ideally, they should be from at least the last three years.
There are several additional steps businesses should take to ensure they are properly prepared:


Get an expert opinion: Ebrahimi said it is helpful for business owners to have business plans and records reviewed by experts, whether that individual is a SCORE mentor or someone with experience guiding business owners through the grant-hunting process.


Hire a grant writer: Grant writers typically have expertise in different grant submission processes and work within industry verticals, according to Ebrahimi.

Achieve nonprofit 501(c)(3) status: David Reischer, CEO of Legal Marketing Pages Corp., said this status is extremely helpful when seeking a nonprofit grant because it identifies your business as a legitimate nonprofit.

Look for applicable tax-exempt status paperwork: This type of paperwork can sometimes increase your odds of receiving funding, if your business is eligible, Reischer said.


How to apply for a business grant

Once you have finished gathering the necessary materials, it is time now time to start the grant application. Ebrahimi said the first step in applying for a grant is to identify what type of grant your specific business is likely to receive.

"Certain kinds of businesses, [like] innovative startups, healthcare-related businesses, women/minority/veteran-owned businesses, rural businesses, and 'green' businesses, in particular, are more likely to qualify for grants than others," Ebrahimi said. "Start with grants specific to your locality, then look into grants offered nationally, whether by a corporate source or by the federal government."

After you have determined what type of grants are achievable for your business, carefully read through the grant requirements and narrow it down to a few select grants. Before writing your proposal, Reischer said it is very important to consider meeting with the funding source.

"Sometimes, it is possible to set up a meeting with a foundation staff person to explore your idea before writing or delivering a proposal," said Reischer. "If [you] cannot get a person-to-person meeting, then maybe try to at least get guidance over the telephone."

After conducting research and contacting the funder, the next step is to write the grant proposal. This part is critical and deserves a lot of attention. Reischer said the purpose of your proposal is to demonstrate your worth.

"The proposal in the grant should present a logical solution to a problem," said Reischer. "It is always necessary to convince the funder that you know what you are doing. Make sure to tell the story of your nonprofit in the budget and the proposal narrative."

Prakash agreed that it is critical to make a compelling case as to why you should receive the grant and what it will be used for.

"Judges want to give grants to businesses that will benefit the most," Prakash said.

Now once you've written and submitted your grant, the last thing to do is wait. Check the grant submission guidelines to see their approval/rejection process, as sometimes this will provide a timeframe or a series of next steps for you to take. Some funders provide a tracking number, so you can see the progress of your grant proposal.
You will typically be notified you when your proposal is pending and when your proposal is approved or rejected. If you aren't able to find submission guidelines or tracking information, wait at least three to six months before following up.

Some common application mistakes

While knowing what to do when applying for a grant, knowing what not to do is equally important.

Avoid falling prey to common application mistakes. Nicolas Straut, business grant lead at Fundera, said a seemingly innocent but very common mistake is overapplying. When business owners apply for too many grants at one time, they decrease their chances of getting one due to reduced time and quality spent on each application.

"There is a wide market of business grants available, and you should explore as many you can before selecting one or two you have a high chance of acquiring," said Straut. "You're very busy as a small business owner, and it's essential you use your time tactfully to acquire funding for your business without spreading yourself too thin."

Now according to Ebrahimi, many business owners make the mistake of being too general or unoriginal in their proposal. They describe their mission statement in general terms, as opposed to listing specific solutions as to how they can satisfy the funder's interests.

"Describe how you can meet the funder's needs in a unique way so your proposal doesn't read like a cut-and-paste job," Ebrahimi said. "Furthermore, consult your business manager when putting together your grant proposal to make sure your budget is realistic. Grant funders are good at spotting unrealistic budgets."

Reischer said a common mistake among business owners is not following directions. Grant suppliers are looking for a very specific set of criteria, so following directions are an absolute must.

"In this sense, if the guidelines say they want two pages then do not write three," said Reischer. "If the guidelines give a date for submission, then get the submission in on time. Every detail in a submission must be perfect."


After you have received the grant

Occasionally you may find a grant that comes with no strings attached, but I want to assure you..... "this is uncommon". Once you receive a grant, you are accountable for following the guidelines set forth by the grant provider.

"Different grant issuers will have different expectations of grantees, but one thing most funders have in common is that they expect periodic reports from the business owner regarding the progress of the project in question," said Ebrahimi. "You may well be required to meet performance goals, so be prepared to do so."

The requirements for maintaining a grant is something you should know ahead of time, although they are usually not too difficult. Once you establish an agreement between the grant funder and yourself, you are ready to move forward with your business or project. Thanks for reading...