Wednesday, 29 March 2017

The Four Time Management Tips for Entrepreneurs

If there's one good thing small business owners are lacking, it's time. Between hiring, training, payroll and almost every other aspect of the business, not much time is left for the other things life has to offer. So because of this, small business owners need to be masters of time management. Knowing when to bow out and let someone else handle business aspects, and knowing when you are absolutely the only person who can handle it, could be the difference between being home for dinner and just catching the news. So without going too far on this, Mike Pugh, co-founder and investor at Santa Barbara Angel Alliance, and Ari Meisel, co-founder of Leverage, offer a few time-management strategies to help entrepreneurs gain extra time in their day.
1. Empower your employees: In one sense, business owners must learn to let go of the day-to-day tasks that are taking up their time to focus on the big picture, said Pugh. "They should take a hard look at what they're spending the most time doing every day and then think about what they should be doing," he said. "Whatever doesn't fall into the 'should be doing' category needs to be reassigned to a staff member." Not only does delegation let you focus on larger business issues, but it also empowers your employees by letting them take on tasks normally assigned to the boss, Pugh said.
2. Collaborate in the cloud: In this area, Pugh advised taking the time to navigate cloud solutions that help organize business communications and documents to save valuable time when dealing with projects. "Applications like Google Docs allow business owners to collaborate in real time with employees, while Evernote allows business owners to take notes on the go," he said. "There are thousands of simple, effective solutions available to the business community that can help save time."
3. DIY (when it makes sense): In regard to small business owners, it's tempting to do everything. However, since time is money, it is important they recognize when it's better to hire someone for a specialized task than to spend hundreds of hours doing it themselves, said Pugh. However, outsourcing should be the last step, said Meisel. You need to first look at optimizing the processes in your business as it is, he said; then, you can look at automation. "Today we can automate things usually for free, and it's completely scalable and error-proof now, before we even have to hand it off — things like transcription, social media posting and distribution, even the mechanics of how a sale is handled online and adding a client to a mailing list," Meisel said.
4. Take care of yourself In one word, research shows that business owners are more productive when they are happy and healthy, so it's important to give themselves a few hours each day to relax and turn their brains off of business. Now in this regard, Meisel suggests trying to put yourself in a situation where you can move a lot. In general, people need to move and to hydrate. Those things in general will help you recharge. Meditation or built-in exercise reminders are also ways to get in a quick refresher to be able to move on with your day effectively.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Facebook lunches full Snapchat with disappearing Stories

Snapchat famously rejected a $3 billion acquisition offer from Facebook back in 2013, but that hasn’t stopped Facebook from taking the features that make Snapchat great. The latest is Stories, a visual diary separate from your main news feed that disppears after 24 hours. as the case is now, Facebook is adding the Snapchat clone to its iOS and Android apps today. As to that reagrd, your Facebook news feed will now look much different. As soon as you open the app, you’ll see Stories from your friends in a horizontal scroll. Simply tap on their profile icons to watch the story unfold just like you do on Instagram. In addition to this, for you to create your own story, tap on the Your Story icon at the top of the news feed or swipe right to jump right into your camera. Facebook has added camera filters and masks, just like Snapchat’s, and is even partnering with brands for themed lenses, just like Snapchat.
Furthermore, if you don’t want to add a photo or video to your story for the world to see, you can send it directly to a friend or a group with Facebook’s new Direct messaging feature. It’s a little strange—Facebook spun off its messaging functionality to Facebook Messenger, and enraged many of its users in the process. Now Facebook is adding a new chat product back to the app with Direct, which is confusing. But Facebook Stories and Direct messaging make sense from a purely competitive standpoint. Okay, Facebook has watched Stories become a huge hit for Snapchat, which began as an ephemeral messaging app. The company has since added the feature to Instagram, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger. Now the world’s largest social network is putting Stories directly inside its main app, offering its billions of users yet another way to broadcast their lives to their friends.
The fact behind Facebook’s stories: As the case may be, Facebook won’t kill Snapchat altogether, but this can’t be good. Snapchat just became a publicly traded company, and one of its risk factors is Facebook. The company’s stock immediately fell upon the Facebook Stories announcement, though it’s obviously too soon to tell what long-term effects the new Facebook feature will have on Snapchat’s user engagement numbers or ad sales. Snapchat is notoriously difficult for newbies and olds to use, and Facebook isn’t. So now, by putting Snapchat’s best feature in its own app, Facebook just gave its billions of users less of a reason to try Snapchat at all. thanks.....

Sunday, 26 March 2017

The Three Basic Principles for Business Website Success

In one sense, I believe your business website is your most important online marketing tool. A survey by Sailthru revealed that 56 percent of retailers said their websites generate the most revenue of their digital marketing efforts, followed by email at 18 percent. Therefore, in that sense... it is vital that you make your website the best it can be so that you promote your business in its best light. "Don't underestimate your need," said Joe Ardeeser, CEO of the website design agency Jordan Crown. "People spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a physical location, but you're going to have just as many or more people going through your central website." There are plenty of website creation services, as well as website creation programs that provide good templates and easy-to use editors. However, whether you dish out $20,000 for a website or go the DIY method, there are important basics you need to know before you build and as you evaluate your site during creation. They boil down to three principles: purpose, completeness and simplicity.
1. Understand the purpose of your site and why people visit it: Purpose starts in the planning stage. In that regard you must have a clear idea of what you want your customer to get from a visit to your site, and even from each page. Be sure that everything about your site supports its purpose and that every page results in a goal achieved – whether it's giving the visitor the information he/she needs or enticing he or she to purchase an item or sign up for a newsletter.
"Think through every individual page. What are the important parts? What are the goals?" Ardeeser said. Knowing your purpose also determines the format. For example, while single-page, scroll-down websites are growing in popularity, they may not be the best choice for your website. "If you have a tremendous amount of content with a lot of layers and depth, it's a no-brainer. You can't have one page," said Erin Pheil, founder of the web design company Followbright. "More importantly, if you currently have content enough for one page, but know you are growing, a site with multiple pages is the way to go." If your purpose is e-commerce, then your customer wants to be able to buy items easily. That means including high-quality photos, making the shopping cart accessible from every page, and having contact information on the checkout so that if a customer is having problems, they can call someone for help rather than click away to your competitor. "It can make the difference in conversion (to a sale)," Pheil said.
2. Give complete information so your customer doesn't click to a competitor: Apart from the purpose, visitors to your site expect complete information – i.e., enough to answer their most important questions without overwhelming them with details. They also need a way to contact someone if they have specific questions unique to their situation.
Pheil and Ardeeser agree that one necessity is ensuring your home page has a concise statement of what your company does. "It should be incredibly clear what the business is and does, (and) what problems it solves," Pheil said. "Don't make users go four or five pages on your site to understand who you are," Ardeeser said in addition. Other important information, especially for service-type businesses, includes how much you charge and how (hourly? Flat rate? Monthly plans?), how you work with the customer, and what they can expect as far as results and scheduling. Social proof – positive customer feedback and interactions on your brand's social media channels – is also important to include on your website, for the reason that it's a vital part of your marketing. According to Marketo, only 33 percent of buyers believe what a brand says about itself, while 92 percent believe what their peers say about it. "It's really powerful to have social proof in a website, to show that other people have had positive experiences, and what those experiences were like," Pheil said. "Businesses often think someone comes to their website just looking for the facts, but the experience of what it's like to work with the company is equally important. Anything that you can do to paint a picture of that experience is a huge bonus." To do this, Ardeeser suggested testimonials (that include the customer's first and last name), reviews and ratings, and a list of clients. Lastly, you need a way for people to contact you. Phone numbers are always welcome, but Ardeeser said that even a simple contact form works if you respond quickly.
What about e-commerce?
As for the case e-commerce, you should answer the most important questions about the product – sizes, colors, options – as well as state return policies and service agreements. Pheil said that customers who cannot get their questions answered on your site are more likely to give up or to click away to your competitors and purchase the item there. High-quality images of products are an especially important investment for e-commerce sites. Pheil said consumers are more likely to purchase a product if the website has a beautiful image that shows off the product.
"By the same token, bad photography can decrease purchases even if the website is otherwise great," she said
3. Make your website intuitive and easy to navigate: To start with here, even if your website contains all the information your customer could want, it won't mean a thing unless it's organized and easy to read.
First, keep your design clean, on-brand and in a form visitors expect. "One of our most common requests is for extraneous elements that sound cool and may have visual impact, but aren't good for the business target audience," Pheil said. So along the line, she said that this often happens when someone in the decision-making process wants to follow a trend or introduce a wow factor, such as the latest color or nifty animations or unusual menu settings. However, these can not only confuse the visitor, but also slow the website down. Websites have best practices because that's how people use them, Pheil puts in note. If you choose a wow factor that goes against that, you may set a trend at the expense of your profit margin. "If it's a site that people leave, it hurts business," she warned. Based on advice from our sources, here are some best practices to follow on your website:
Contact information in the top right
Logo in the top left
Menus with only 4-8 items using standard, clear names
Dropdown menus that can have more than eight items, but are vertically listed rather than horizontally
White space
Footers that repeat links to the most important pages as well as contact information
Text that follows the reading conventions of the language (such as left to right, top to bottom for English)
Clear sentences in the style your reader expects (e.g., a medical site may employ precise, technical language, while one selling skateboards can be freer with slang)
A simple checkout process that does not involve too many extra steps While that is noted, navigation is another important aspect of a website. No matter where someone is on your site, they should have an easy way to get to the home page, the shopping cart or your contact information. If you have a large number of major menu tabs, make use of the ancillary menu (the extra menu often found on the top right that holds only a couple of links). This usually contains contact information, login and the shopping cart, but it can also be for less urgent links such as your About Us page or mandatory regulatory information. You can also make use of the footer to repeat links to important pages that may be in the submenus. Ardeeser said that people are used to scrolling to the footer for support pages and contact information, for example. You don't have to limit navigation to menu links. Pheil suggests adding navigation in the form of text links or buttons for related pages throughout the content. For example, "Interested about costs? Check our pricing plans." "Want to read testimonials?" "Ready to buy? Click here now."
"It's a useful technique that's often overlooked but can prevent the reader from dead ends," Pheil said. Thanks......

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Google will now allow you to share your location with friends in Maps

Google is on a Maps mission in 2017. Starting from the beginning of the year, it has added some pretty great features to make it easier to get where you’re going, including Uber integration, parking availability, and saved places. As it is now, it wants to help your friends know where you are. In an update coming to the Android and iOS Maps apps, you are going to be able to broadcast your location without needing to leave the app. It’ll be on a need-to-know basis, of course, but when you’re running late or just want to let someone know where you are, you’ll only be a tap away from sending the information along. So now, to use the new feature is simple. You can either open the side menu or tap the blue dot on the map to find the new Share location option. Once it opens, you’ll be able to select who to share with and how long you want them to have access to your location. And more, you can share your location with anyone in your contacts or generate a link that can be sent to another social app. On the other end, the people you’ve selected to share with will see your location in Maps once they tap the link, and you will see an icon above the compass on your own map which will let you know that you’re being watched. And even if you have a time limit set, you’ll be able to stop sharing your location at any time. In addition to all these, you’ll also be able to send information about the current trip you’re taking, so people will know when you’re about to arrive. To do this, just tap on the arrow to the right of the route instructions at the bottom of the screen and select the Share trip progress option. Once you select the recipients, they’ll be able to see where you are, when you’re expected to arrive, and track your progress. Sharing will automatically end when you arrive at your destination.
Google says the update will be rolling out “soon” to apps and the Maps site to users worldwide.
Going forward: While all of the recent Maps updates have been great, we’re particularly looking forward to this one. It may seem creepy to have your family and friends spy on your location, but Google is handling it well, with expiration times, automatic shut-off, and trip tracking that ends when you arrive. It’s a little bit like Apple’s Find My Friends app, but we think it’ll be way more useful built into Maps rather than needing to remember to open a second app. Thanks......

The Four Tips for Starting a Virtual Assistant Business

A fact to note here, is that businesses of all sizes need administrative help, but having a full-time employee on site can be cost-prohibitive. So a soluttion to that is to enter virtual assistants (VAs), administrative professionals who offer a wide variety of services remotely, operating as their own small businesses. Through technology like cloud collaboration software, videoconferences, project management apps and instant messaging, entrepreneurs who want to start a virtual assistant firm have all the tools they need to successfully work with business clients. "The reasons for utilizing a VA firm have become more needs-driven, customized and service-oriented," said Michelle Anastasio-Festi, CEO and founder of CT Virtual Assistance. "It's gone beyond reducing expenses or needing more time, (and businesses are now) focusing on the bigger picture of how hiring a VA can help them achieve their business goals faster, or promote their brand or service. Now... if you're interested in taking advantage of this lucrative business opportunity and becoming a VA, here's some expert advice for how to make it work for you.
1. Read, research and network:In this sense, operating as a VA on your own can feel like you are all by yourself, but in fact, there are professional groups, online forums and books to support you in your business dream. By reading and researching what services a VA can perform, you can narrow down your own offerings. And by networking with other VAs, you can benefit from subcontracting work or advice from more established VAs. "Most VAs are more than happy to help out someone who is new to the field. And even if they don’t have any subcontracting work, they may be able to refer you to someone who does," said Julie Perrine, CAP-OM, MBTI Certified, with All Things Admin.
2. Expand your skill set:There are so many more things to being a VA than helping with the tasks your client needs you to do. Having office experience will help you in your day-to-day duties, but as an independent business, you need to learn the ropes of how to run it. "Working virtually means you must exercise great discipline," said Tim Petree, senior vice president of BST Concierge. "You're your own boss, (but) those corporate rules that once seemed to be a drag can save you from financial ruin when you're the CEO or sole proprietor. If anything, you must now be conversant in all areas of business administration — sales, marketing, IT, customer service, project management, receivables, payables and compliance."
3. Communicate clearly:Just the same as with any type of virtual work, not being in the office for face-to-face interactions with your clients can present some difficulties if your or their communications are unclear. VAs perform many of the important day-to-day tasks that keep a business running, so knowing what's required of you as a service provider is key to customer satisfaction.
4. Adapt to your clients' needs:Now, at this point as a VA and as a business owner, you need to be able to deliver exactly what each client needs. It's a good idea to determine the best structure for your service packages and pricing based on what your clients are looking for. "A VA provides business owners with the opportunity to get exactly what they need, when they need it, like ordering from a menu," Anastasio-Festi said. "Because most VAs offer a wide range of services to various industries, it becomes confusing as to who needs what most. [Our firm] is moving away from hourly retainers and more towards customizing individual monthly packages that are tailored to each client's needs." Thanks......

Monday, 20 March 2017

Google Voice at last allows you to delete conversations

Earlier this year Google provided a surprise update to Google Voice, bringing what a lot of people thought was an abandoned service to a modern update and in that regard adding some new life. At the time, Google also vowed that it wouldn’t neglect its original VoIP service anymore, and less than two months later, it’s making good on its promise. In one of the posting on the Google Voice Help Forum, community manager Vanessa outlined several new features that have begun rolling out to users. The biggest change is the overdue ability to delete conversations. To purge your window of a conversation, click the options menu in the top right corner and you’ll see a new Delete option right above Help & feedback. Tap it and the conversation will be purged forever just like in Android Messages. Furthermore, you can long press on a thread in the Android app to archive messages that you might need to refer to later. There’s also a new Do Not Disturb toggle on the Android app that pauses call and text message forwarded when enabled. But in any case, as Google explains, “To set a timer on Do Not Disturb, you will still need to visit the Legacy Google Voice on Web.” Also, you can disable app notifications for text messages to avoid duplicate alerts exclusively in the Android app. And web users can now make calls right in the browser. Finally, Google has also added support for Gboard’s GIF image search, and with that you are able to bombard your friends with them. But for that to be done, you’ll need to have the Gboard keyboard installed on your Android phone. The update is currently rolling out to Android users, but as often, you can get it now by side-loading the Google-signed APK from APKMirror. An iOS update to bring the ability to delete conversations is due “in the near future.” Google is also seeking feedback from users about Google Voice through on online survey.
What to talk about: In one sense, Google's messaging strategy is still somewhat scattered, but as the case may be we're all for Google Voice updates. So in this regard, the ability to delete conversations is one of those features that should have been there from the very beginning, but we're happy that we don't have to wait another three years for Google to add it. Thanks......

Friday, 17 March 2017

Screwed Up at Work? This Is How to Keep Your Job and Move Forward

The first thing you should take note of here is that, mistakes happen. The wrong card gets handed out at the Oscars. A typo causes data disruptions for businesses across the Northeast. Or maybe you just sent the wrong email to a client. Big or small, public or in-house, everyone screws up at some point in his or her career, and the more responsibility you have, the greater the chances you will fail. Failure, however, does not mark the end of your career. It might not even be a speed bump. With the correct attitude and a willingness to make things right, a work blunder can prove to be a learning experience that gives you valuable skills for the future. It all depends on how you handle it. "Whether you are an employee or own your own business, you've got to be able to handle and recover from making a blunder, because we all do it," said Sharon Schweitzer, author and founder of Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide, a company that advises corporate leaders in cross-cultural etiquette. Angela Sebaly, author of "The Courageous Leader: How to Face Any Challenge and Lead Your Team to Success" (Wiley, 2017), calls these moments of failure "humbling experiences." "Everybody gets a humbling experience at least once in our careers, and the more we attempt to grow and the more we expand our potential, the more we expose ourselves to feeling humbled," she said.
The pathway to recovery
Here.......Schweitzer said the steps for recovering from business failures are the same even for the newest employee: minimizing emotions, maintaining transparency, accepting responsibility, apologizing, repairing or controlling the damage, and learning from the experience.
1. Minimize emotions: This is for real the biggest challenge for most people. When people make a mistake, especially at work, they are embarrassed and maybe even ashamed, plus they are concerned for their professional credibility, Schweitzer noted. "You may even feel a little panic and uncertainty: Where do I go? What do I do?" she said. The master key to minimizing emotions is to maintain perspective. Seldom does a mistake end a life or even a business. It's important to remember that. "In the freeway of life, is it a parking ticket or a multi-car collision?" Schweitzer said you should ask yourself that. She added that it can help to remember the greatest successes experienced colossal failures, from Henry Ford to Akio Morita, the founder of Sony, whose first product burned rice instead of cooking it. So long the line, Sebaly suggests keeping an open mind and looking at the situation as an opportunity, even if it involves a reprimand. Getting that perspective will enable you to act with the minimum of emotions. "If you can keep open-minded, it puts the pain in perspective," Sebaly said.
2. Accept responsibility: Fine, the next important thing, "transparency", simply means owning up to your role in the error. It also means looking at the error not only to see what you can do to fix it but also to prevent it from happening again.
3. Apologize: While those two things are done, the next thing, of course, comes the apology. Schweitzer suggests going quickly to each person affected to explain the situation, acknowledging your mistake and letting them know you are fixing the problem or have fixed the problem. If needed, let them know what steps you are taking to prevent it from happening again in the future.
When you apologize, be concise and factual. "Don't overdo the apology. Just say, 'I made a mistake and this is how I'm fixing it.' Sometimes, that sentence is all people need to hear," Schweitzer said.
4. Repair or control damage: After the apology, you should follow through on the damage control. "You earn trust through your actions, not just your words," Schweitzer said. In fact, on a business level, she recommends that when you work with a client after a big mistake and have rebuilt that trust, secure a testimonial from them to show potential new clients that you are willing to work to improve your business and serve your clients better.
5. Learn from the experience: The finall step is learning from your mistakes. So in this process if you have supportive colleagues, ask them for their take on what went wrong and how to prevent it from happening again in the future. If your error uncovered a potential problem that could arise again, then work to change procedures or implement safeguards. (Amazon Web Services did this after a mistyped command caused a region-wide data disruption of cloud services on Feb. 28.
Moving forward: Now, after you've accomplished these steps, you have one more important thing to do: take care of yourself. "Don't let the emotions build up like steam in a kettle. Release them in a healthy way," Schweitzer said. This could be taking a walk, meditating, lifting weights or playing with your kids, she added. Sebaly agrees that healing from a humbling experience is necessary for moving forward. "During a humbling experience, we're feeling pain and practicing being open and sitting in that discomfort," she said. "After we have time to heal, we can process the experience more fully. Thanks......

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Buzz Aldrin’s hologram will be taking you on a dazzling virtual mission to Mars

Buzz Aldrin made a cement on his legacy close to 50 years ago as the second man to walk on the moon. But in the other hand Aldrin has greater ambitions: He wants to pave the way for humans to be a two-planet species. “I want my legacy to include a permanent human settlement on Mars,” Aldrin said onstage during a Tuesday talk at South by Southwest. In one sense, Aldrin’s plan is complex and difficult to understand if you’re not a former astronaut with a doctorate from MIT, like Aldrin is. That’s why he partnered with 8i and Life VR to create a virtual reality experience called Cycling Pathways to Mars, which he previewed at South by Southwest this week in Austin. It could use a catchier title, but the VR film is both a technical feat and an effective way to explain how on earth we’ll get to the red planet. In the 10-minute film, which comes to Steam and HTC Vive’s Viveport store on March 17 and Oculus Rift after, you’ll be able to ride in the cycler that Aldrin designed to transport humans to Mars quickly and efficiently. 8i also created a 3D hologram of Aldrin by recording him using volumetric capture (and some secret sauce). You can walk around Aldrin as if he were actually in the room with you. Furthermore on this, Aldrin isn’t the only person working on a way to colonize Mars, but he’s one of the few people who actually experienced space travel. Elon Musk’s SpaceX is also planning to send settlers to Mars as soon as 2024. Each rocket would carry about 100 passengers to Mars every 26 months, when Earth and Mars pass each other. Jeff Bezos founded a space travel startup, Blue Origin, that also has Mars in its sights. Aldrin said during his SXSW talk that if President Trump listens to his ideas, the U.S. could feasibly get to Mars within 20 years. Establishing a settlement on the planet would take longer, of course. “We explore or we expire,“ Aldrin said. ”That’s about it.” Aldrin’s dream of sending humans to settle on Mars is well-documented. He’s put together a master plan, written about it for the New York Times and in his own books. But he needs to get other people on board, which is why this virtual reality experience is key. After experiencing a journey to Mars in VR, in the other way, you might want to sign up for the real thing.
This story, was originally published by PCWorld.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

If You Want Creative, Dedicated Employees, Then Hire Overqualified Candidates

In one sense, hiring managers shouldn't be so quick to eliminate overqualified candidates from consideration for new jobs. A new study in the Academy of Management Journal revealed that employees who are considered overqualified for a job can take the position in a new, positive direction. So in that regard, employees who are overqualified, up to a certain point, bring an added level of innovation and dedication to their jobs, according to the research. "A low-to-intermediate degree of perceived underemployment may drive employees to craft their jobs actively in ways that benefit the organization," the study's authors wrote. "Recruitment managers should not turn away job applicants who are overqualified, because such individuals, if managed appropriately, may bring creativity and organizational citizenship behavior to the organization." Now while that is noted, the degree to which someone is overqualified plays a critical role in determining whether or not they bring a unique perspective to their job. The study's authors said when underemployment is perceived as too high, employees are often not motivated enough to do their jobs. Employees who can bring a fresh perspective to how a job is done are highly valuable in today's workplace. "Organizations today compete in a dynamic and uncertain environment in which creativity and organizational citizenship behavior are highly valuable," the study's authors wrote. For the research, the study's authors conducted two studies of two different types of employees: school teachers and factory workers. In the first study, researchers surveyed 327 teachers at six high schools in China. Initially the teachers were queried on how overqualified, one a scale of one to seven, they felt they were for their jobs. One week later, they were asked to what extent they had engaged in job-crafting, such as introducing new approaches of their own to the classroom, organizing special events or bringing in materials from home. A final survey, another week later, asked the teachers to rate their creativity and organizational citizenship, which is defined as behavior that goes above and beyond the basic requirements of a job. The researchers found that job-crafting reached its peak among those who rated themselves a five on how overqualified they felt they were for their position. The study's authors said these teachers tended to do significantly more job-crafting than their peers who saw themselves as either more or less overqualified. So the researchers said that extra job-crafting resulted in high ratings for both creativity and citizenship. In a second study, the researchers analyzed nearly 300 electronic toy factory workers. Now to determine how overqualified a worker was, the study's authors had the technicians try to reproduce a model helicopter in less than 10 minutes. The number of pieces that the technicians were able to assemble in the short amount of time provided a reference to assess overqualification for this kind of work. The technicians were then given a second task. They were asked to design and assemble, in 30 minutes, at least one toy boat patterned after a model projected on a screen. Although a single boat required at least 30 components, the workers were free to use an unlimited number of parts to produce as many boats as they wanted. "If the workers used more than 30 pieces and assembled boats in different patterns . . . the excess number of the parts reflected the degree of self-driven effort for altering task boundary, i.e. task-crafting," the study's authors wrote. Now in overall, the number of components that went into boats ranged from 36 to almost 350. So in that sense, the study's authors found that the technicians scoring lowest on overqualification used the fewest components, and those who were modestly overqualified employed the most, outdoing those who were considered most overqualified. The key is finding that sweet spot that lays between being barely overqualified and extremely overqualified. Jing Zhou, one of the study's authors and a professor at Rice University, said that, unfortunately, there is no magic point, no one-size-fits-all answer. "First and foremost, employees need to perform their jobs well, but, once that is made clear, they should have discretion to engage in job-crafting, which, our paper shows, spurs creativity," Zhou said in one statement. "A manager should not try to push someone into job-crafting – it’s the employee’s choice to do it or not – but if they want to do it, they should have that freedom, with supervisors monitoring, coaching, and advising as needed." The study was co-authored by Bilian Lin and Kenneth S. Law of the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Thanks.........

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Finally, Samsung is moving to monthly updates for unlocked Galaxy phones

Before anything is said on this note, there is one thing you should take note of and that is.......all Samsung phones are not created equally, and as such, each has its own update schedule. Each carrier sells its own model that is updated on its own terms, but you can also buy unlocked versions that get updates straight from the company. You’d think the latter phones are prioritized for Android updates, that’s not the case. But it looks like that’s about to change. Okay...... while every major carrier has pushed its own Nougat update for the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge over the past couple of months, unlocked versions of the phone are still waiting for it. In fact, they’re still waiting for a post-December security update, a symptom of the company’s unfortunate decision to push quarterly updates rather than monthly ones. So while still on that line, according to an email obtained by ZDNet, Samsung will be moving to a monthly schedule for software updates, meaning unlocked phones should get regular Android security updates in a timely manner. In a reply to an update query from Samsung Mobile Security Technologies, the company admitted to a less-than-ideal schedule and resolved to fix it: “Due to various circumstances, we have been releasing security updates for unlocked (open) Galaxy devices in the U.S. on a quarterly basis,” the message reads. “However, we have now resolved the challenges; and we are committed to releasing security updates for those devices on a monthly basis.” In one sense, that means unlocked Galaxy phones won’t be regarded as second-class citizens anymore and should receive updates at least as fast (and perhaps even faster) than the carrier-locked ones. Samsung didn’t announce a time frame for the switch, but said the March Android update (which hopefully will include the Nougat one as well) is coming “soon.”
Achievement unlocked so far: Now, if you own an unlocked Galaxy phone, you know full well how frustrating it is to be at the back of the line for updates. And also it’s not just about getting to play around with the coolest new features in Nougat. Google pushes out important monthly security updates that unlocked Galaxy phone users often missed, and with that it’s great to see that that won’t be the case anymore, especially for those of use who have our eyes on a brand new unlocked S8. Thanks......

Thursday, 9 March 2017

The 5 Major Customer Service Mistakes You Need to Avoid

Customer service is beyond doubt the backbone of a successful business. It could be the difference between good reviews and repeat customers, and word getting around about negative customer experiences and people avoiding your business altogether. Now, in one sense, given that customer service is so important, it is valuable to know some of the most common customer service mistakes. And in addition to that these are what customer service experts shared in order to show you how to avoid them.
The mistakes:
1. Over-automation. Just for the reason that it can be automated does not mean it should be, and it also does not mean the automation will automatically translate into cost savings. Now in this sense, don't automate just because you can. Avoid erasing all personalization and direct contact with the customer. When possible, provide a variety of different communication modes, as some customers prefer online chat while others want to talk to a person over the phone. "Give them that option. Don't force customers to use frustrating phone trees," said Dana Brownlee, founder of consulting firm Professionalism Matters.
2. Failing to listen.Concluding with yourself that you know what the customer wants, instead of listening to the customer, is a big mistake. "Teach listening skills throughout the organization, especially to (customer service representatives)," said Brownlee. "Develop processes that 'force' CSRs to really listen to customers – get rid of CSR scripts."
3. Being reactive instead of proactive. Instead of thinking about how to delight customers on the front end and avoid getting the calls, many companies fall into the reactive approach of being satisfied with somewhat mediocre products or service and thinking of customer service as something that happens on the back end when there are complaints or problems. So in the other hand, you should take time to conduct process analysis, continuous process improvement and root cause analysis to truly improve your product service. "Require every employee to take (five) customer service calls a month to maintain connection to the customer. Incorporate customer service goals into every employee's compensation/bonus structure," Brownlee said.
4. Undervaluing customer service staff. One truth here, is that it's a shame that very often the staff members who interact with customers the most are paid and valued the least. To avoid this mistake, Brownlee said, "Hire better staff, pay them more, and reward them for providing great service."
5. Not giving customers what they want. According to Robert C. Johnson, CEO of TeamSupport, customers want accurate answers or quick, efficient and respectful solutions, and getting that to the customer is the most important thing, now even if the answer or solution is not ideal. "Make sure the employees (who interact) with customers have access to the right information and are listening to their concerns," Johnson said. "Ensure communication is realistic – it's always better to under-promise and over-deliver on that promise than the other way around.
Avoiding customer service mistakes: First of all, customer service is proving to be a vital part of a successful business. But where does it start? Employees may not know where to turn for advice on customer service, or how to get the right information. "A culture of exceptional customer service must start at the top. It can't be just a slide in a presentation or a cliche saying that employees are expected to follow," Johnson said. The CEO needs to set the tone, invest in the right team members and technology, and lead by actions as well as words. A survey conducted by Professionalism Matters also discovered that scripts are not the way to deal with customer service complaints. Customer service representatives need to be trained to work to resolve a customer's specific situation, as opposed to the "if they say this, you say that" approach.
Correcting mistakes when they happen: One fact here is that no one is perfect. Whether due to a lack of focus, understanding, guidance or diligence, mistakes will happen. "Sometimes we move too fast, and sometimes things just happen. At the end of the day, it's how you recover from these mistakes that's important," Johnson said. "Good companies own both the good and the bad things that happen." The key is knowing how to rectify the situation once it has happened and making sure that the customer still receives the best customer service, regardless of some bumps along the way to a resolution. Johnson suggested reaching out to the customer and owning up to the problem with empathetic and sincere communication. Formulate a response strategy, such as a timeline for communication, and execute it quickly. It's also critical for customer service representatives to apologize on behalf of the company immediately if the company dropped the ball in any way, Brownlee said in the Professionalism Matters survey. "There's nothing wrong with simply expressing regret that the customer is experiencing anguish, even if they haven't determined yet if the company was at fault," Brownlee said. Once the situation has been rectified, take your own internal action independent of the customer, said Johnson. "Sit down with your team to understand all the details, including what specifically happened, why it happened, and the actions that can be taken to avoid similar problems in the future," he said in addition. Thanks..

The 24 Highest-Paying Jobs in America

Before we say anything on this note, if money is what you are after in a job, you should consider looking for work in the health care, legal and technology industries, new research reveals. More than two-thirds of the 25 highest-paying jobs ranked by Glassdoor this year are in one of those three fields. Topping the list for the third straight year is physician. The study revealed that the median base salary for physicians has dropped in recent years. In 2015, the median base salary was $212,270. It dropped to $180,000 last year, and this year it increased to $187,876. All of this year's 24 highest-paying jobs have a median base salary of more than $94,000. That's a slight decline from a year ago, when all of the top-paying jobs had median base salaries in the six figures. “With nearly half the list comprised of jobs in the tech and healthcare industries, this report reinforces that higher salaries are found in America's fastest job-creating sectors, which require higher education and in-demand skill sets," Andrew Chamberlain, Glassdoor's chief economist, said in a statement. Now without taking you too far, these are the 24 highest-paying jobs in 2017 and their median base salaries:
1.Physician: $187,876
2.Pharmacy manager: $149,064
3.Patent attorney: $139,272
4.Medical science liaison: $132,842
5.Pharmacist: $125,847
6.Enterprise architect: $112,560
7.Physician assistant: $112,529
8.Applications development manager: $112,045
9.R&D manager: $111,905
10Corporate controller: $110,855
11.Software engineering manager: $109,350
12.IT architect: $105,303
13.Software architect: $104,754
14.Nurse practitioner: $104,144
15.Solutions architect: $102,678
16.Data architect: $102,091
17.Actuary: $99,507
18.IT program manager: $98,883
19.UX manager: $98,353
20.Systems architect: $97,873
21.Plant manager: $97,189
22.Scrum master: $95,167
23.Financial planning and analysis manager: $94,862
24.Nuclear engineer: $94,852
Apart from the fact that nearly 70 percent of employees reporting that salary and compensation are among their top considerations before accepting a job, Chamberlain says money isn't what drives happiness. "While pay is one of the leading factors job seekers consider when determining where to work, our research showed that salary isn’t necessarily tied to long-term job satisfaction," Chamberlain said. "Rather, the factors that employers should focus on to drive employee satisfaction long-term are having great senior leadership, positive culture and values, and clear upward career opportunities for employees." And more, for a job title to be considered for the highest-paying jobs rankings, it must have received at least 100 salary reports shared on Glassdoor by U.S.-based employees over the past year. Finally....to ensure the most reliable median base salary for all job titles, Glassdoor also applies a proprietary statistical algorithm to estimate annual median base pay, which controls for factors such as location and seniority.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

How you can reduce your smartphone use without missing out

Even if in your own case you haven’t at any time walked into a pole or driven your car into a pond just because you were staring at your smartphone, there’s a chance you’ve wondered if it’s time to cut back. Now on this note, if you enjoy Android phone as much as I do, there’s little or no doubt that it’s your most personal device and hardly leaves your side. You’re not alone. A Pew study from 2015 pointed to how much the smartphone is central to most people’s lives in important ways, like looking up a medical condition, real estate listings, or a job search. Okay, in one sense, all those messaging apps and handy tools from Google make your phone the ideal companion. And as trendy and cool as going on a “digital detox” may be, it’s just not practical. The right path is to go for the middle road. There are smart ways to curtail your use that won’t mean disconnecting from the people and events that are important in your life. And now in order to get you going on this note, here are some tips to get you started:
Step one: get information: On this note I’ve had the most help with this by tapping into Android’s tools and third-party apps to tell me exactly how much time I'm spending on my phone. A quote attributed to Peter F. Drucker is helpful in this regard: “What’s measured improves.” On this line, the first place to start is an area you may not expect: the battery. Android’s system is designed to tell you which apps and system resources are draining away the juice the most. However, it’s also a good measure of which apps you’re spending the majority of your time with. If certain applications are at the top, it could be a sign that this is the first place to cut back. One other tool is to use a third-party app. One such option is QualityTime, which tracks which apps you use and enables you to schedule “breaks” that make your phone mostly inoperable (you can undo if something important arises). In one sense, I’ve found you get some good information here, so if an app like Twitter or a particular game sticks out, that may serve a sign that you may need to dial it back. There are other options in this category like Addicted and Phone Usage Tracker. But even though QualityTime is a little overdue for an update, I still find it to be the most powerful.
Understand do not disturb: In my own case, I’ve long used the do not disturb feature as something to turn on when needed or off when it’s time for bed, a power nap, or other moments in the day when it’s best to be left alone. You can start a do not disturb session from the drop-down settings tile. The exact configuration may look a little different depending upon the specific interface of your phone. On Marshmallow and Nougat, when you enable do not disturb you’ll see three specific options. There’s total silence, which as you can imagine will shut you off from the outside world. If you want a temporary reprieve, you can enable this until you decide to switch it off or for a set period of time. The Alarms Only setting is what you’d expect, with everything unable to bother you unless it’s an alarm. This is actually a good setting for a nap, so you won’t be interrupted by a call but you won’t sleep away half the day. Finally, Priority Only is the most practical setting to use if you want to cut back on the notifications, but don’t want to be out of touch. There’s another way to use these capabilities to help you get disturbed even less. Touch and hold the Do not disturb tile in the quick settings or head to Settings > Set do not disturb schedule. There are multiple options for setting up a specific sessions of near silence. And finally, you can create different rules by day and time, then apply the total silence, alarms only, or priority mode.
Dial things back: Now the last piece of advice probably involves the most work. But in the end, crafting the ideal experience that won’t pester you is worth the effort. Okay while you take note of that, when it comes to apps that are going to eat away the most of your time, some of the culprits are usually in the realm of social media. Twitter alone has a considerable number of choices for whether you want to be highlighted by tweets, mentions, news, recommendations, and more. You can just turn off notifications altogether, as long as this isn’t something you think you’re going to miss. Same goes for Facebook or any other social network you’re a part of—you’re going to need to dig into the settings and specify what type of information you want to get pinged about. And more, another option is just to go dark with social media altogether. Really, are you getting that much out of arguing with friends on Facebook or seeing the latest tweets? The high-octane news cycle has certainly kept me hooked, but I’ve recognized that there are times I ought to take a break and pick up a Kindle or at the very least engage my mind with a more analog task. A middle road could be to uninstall the apps, but sign to the web apps with Chrome. Another notorious offender is eBay. By default, you get a notification for every single big on an item you’re selling. This gets annoying fast. And don’t even get me started on games. Way too many mobile games will pester you by default after you’ve installed them and played a few rounds. Finally the bottom line, however, is that dialing back on your smartphone use is a combination of analyzing your own use, trimming notifications, and applying some willpower. There’s a lot of fake science out there claiming that your phone is destroying your brain. But we could probably all benefit from some time off the firehose of social media or getting lost in a maze of meerkat videos. Thanks.......

What Kind of Leader Are You? The Nine Types of Leadership and Their Strengths

One truth here is that... as an employee, your personal work style and approach may not matter much to anyone beyond your boss and immediate team members. However, when you become a leader, your behaviors and skills are suddenly in the spotlight. Taking it into reason that so many people are relying on you for guidance and inspiration, it's important to examine your habits and consider how they might be perceived in your leadership role. In her book, "The 9 Types of Leadership: Mastering the Art of People in the 21st Century Workplace" (Post Hill Press, 2017), author Beatrice Chestnut, Ph.D., defines nine different leadership styles. "The nine types ... are based on the nine personality styles articulated by the Enneagram model, a typology arrayed around an ancient symbol that has roots in timeless wisdom traditions," Chestnut said. "Each type is characterized by a specific focus on attention as well as specific strengths, motivations and blind spots." According to Chestnut, Here are the focus areas of each leadership type:
1. Quality:This type of leader, focuses more on improvement, getting things right, making things as perfect as they can be, being ethical, following the rules and applying high standards.
2. Pleasing people: At this point, this type leader focuses on being liked, creating relationships, strategically supporting others to make themselves indispensable and empowering people.
3. Work tasks and goals: This kind of leader wants to be efficient and productive and have the image of someone who is a successful achiever.
4. Emotions: This type of leader is focused on their internal experience and on expressing themselves so that people will understand and see them as being unique and special.
5. Data and work-related information: This leader is more comfortable operating on the intellectual level (as opposed to the emotional level), and is objective, analytical, private, and likes to work independently.
6. Potential problems: This type of leader focuses on noticing what might go wrong, forecasting problems before they happen so they can prepare for them ahead of time. This type of leader is an insightful problem solver who watches out for threats, is a good troubleshooter and specializes in assessing risks.
7. Innovation: This type of leader focuses on coming up with new ideas and planning for the future. This leadership style is optimistic, enthusiastic and automatically reframes negatives into positives.
8. Power and control: This type of leader prefers big-picture thinking to figuring out the details, likes to make big things happen, and has an easier time dealing with conflict and confrontation than some of the other types.
9. Creating harmony: Here.....this type of leader leads by consensus. They are a natural mediator, and want to make sure everyone is heard and that different points of view are considered when making plans and coming to decisions.
Playing to your strengths
To start with here, each of the nine types of leaders are equal in their capacity for being effective, said Chestnut. However, some types are more oriented to being effective, based on the individual leader's motivations. "How effective a specific type of person is ... is based on two things: First, their personality style and its characteristic focus of attention and habitual patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving; second, how self-aware, developed and healthy they are," Chestnut said. "Every type can grow to leverage their strengths more consciously and address their specific challenges so they can be more effective." And in addition to that, Chestnut noted that leaders are most powerful when they can model self-awareness and self-development for the people they lead. It's important to become more aware of what you do well and what gets in your way of being effective, she said. By understanding the strengths of your type, you can apply your natural talents more consciously and strategically. Conversely, Chestnut added, recognizing your challenges enables you to develop those areas of weakness so they don't hold you back as a leader. The above types of leadership offer a framework for understanding that different people have different worldviews. "By helping leaders to see their habitual patterns, they can … ultimately make more conscious choices about the things they do and model a greater degree of self-awareness as a way of inspiring the people they work with," Chestnut finally said.

Monday, 6 March 2017

Google app beta shows that Goggles-like Visual Search may be on the horizon

Do you remember Google Goggles? While it has not seen an update since 2014, the app (which is still able to be downloaded in the Play Store) is a way to search the world by using your camera. But one thing is that a feature uncovered deep in a beta version of the Google app seems to indicate that Google hasn’t forgotten about it. In the latest version of the Google app beta, 9to5Google has found an option for Visual Search that will live in the sidebar. Selecting it brings up an interface that enables you to snap a photo and select the portion of it that you want to search. Then it will show a series of cards related to your results. In the example 9to5Google provided, a search of a Motorola box returned Motorola phones, Motorola Mobility, and Google itself. On a related note, Google is also adding support for saved images inside the Google app. Previously available by going to the images tab of the in-app Chrome browser and selecting the View Saved button in the bottom corner, the new shortcut will enable you to see any images you’ve saved using the same Saved Items and Tags tabs. Neither of these features are live yet in the current beta version of the app, and it’s unclear when (or if) they might show up.
The big picture: Holding the fact that Google is adding Assistant to all Marshmallow and Nougat phones and doing away with the Google Now Launcher, the Google app might be gaining a bit more prominence on our phones. And while it may be a ways off, by promoting its picture search tech to its main search app we could be inching closer to the day when we simply hold up our phones and ask, “OK Google, what’s that,” and get an answer.

Friday, 3 March 2017

The Top Ten Workplaces for Women

Talking on this, as gender equality continues to take the spotlight in workplace issues, more women are seeking job opportunities with companies where they will most likely receive equal pay and treatment. "InHerSight", a workplace ratings and matching site for women, collected user ratings data on 27,000 U.S. companies across five main categories: equal opportunities for men and women, salary satisfaction, maternity and adoptive leave, top leadership, and management opportunities for women. While InHerSight used its data to rank the best workplaces in each category on a five-point scale, the top 10 workplaces for women overall include
1.Title Source (4.6)
2.Procore Technologies (4.4)
3.The Boston Consulting Group (4.2)
4.The Motley Fool (4.0)
5.Netflix (4.0)
6.Facebook (4.0)
7.NetSuite (3.9)
8.PayPal (3.9)
9.Google (3.8)
10.CEB (3.8)
Now according to Ursula Mead, CEO of InHerSight, female representation in leadership and management opportunities for women, as well as equal opportunities and salary satisfaction, are strong predictors of women's satisfaction at work. Last year, several high-profile companies announced improvements to their parental leave programs, so maternity and adoptive leave became a highlighted factor for InHerSight. Now mead hopes that the trend is going to continue in 2017. "The great news about many of these larger companies is that they're always hiring, and often hiring for a lot of open positions," said Mead. "For example, a quick look at the Netflix careers page shows hundreds of open positions right now. Of course, there's a lot of competition for these jobs, but that shouldn't stop you from applying."
Approaching the conversation with your current employer: Now...while it might be difficult to get a job at many of the bigger-name places on the list, that doesn't mean that you can't have all those benefits at your current or future company. So along the line, InHerSight found that reviewing salaries and correcting pay gaps was the policy change women wanted the most at their current employer (more than 31 percent). "Companies aren't mind readers – if you want to see changes to benefits or initiatives, you may have to initiate that conversation with your manager or HR team. In one sense, most companies want to know how they can better support their employees and will welcome that dialogue," Mead said. She also suggested that women hoping to make a change at their company do some initial research on how their company's policies compare to others and what the options are. "It's also important to think about your request from the employer's perspective to demonstrate awareness of what some of their concerns and constraints might be so you can both be solutions oriented." Women on the job hunt have access to a lot of information that can help them determine what job or company is right for them. So many times all it takes is doing a little research to discover what could potentially be the perfect match. "If you know people at the company, talk to them," Mead advised. "If you don't, there are a lot of great resources online to help you find the right company and for you to learn more about their culture and benefits. It's very important to keep in mind that a company can have great benefits on paper, but how those policies are implemented matters a lot." Thanks....

Understand Your Emotions: How a High EQ Can Boost Your Career

Having a high IQ is going to only take you so far up the corporate ladder. New research suggests that having high emotional intelligence is equally, if not more, important to your career success. The study from the staffing firm OfficeTeam showcased that 21 percent of employees believe emotional intelligence is more valuable in the workplace than IQ, with nearly two-thirds saying that the two are equally important. So along the line, the study's authors define emotional intelligence as a person’s capacity to be aware of, control and effectively express emotions. Emotional quotient (EQ) is the level of someone's emotional intelligence. "It involves understanding how others feel and using that knowledge to manage how you interact with them," the researchers wrote. In overall, 99 percent of human resources professionals, 95 percent of managers and 99 percent of employees think it's important for employees to have a high EQ, because it helps them manage their own emotions and understand and react to the emotions of others. "The value of emotional intelligence in the workplace shouldn't be underestimated –– it's vital to companies and teams," Brandi Britton, a district president for OfficeTeam, said in a statement. "When organizations take EQ into consideration when hiring and also helping existing staff improve in this area, the result is more adaptable, collaborative and empathetic employees." The research found a number of advantages to hiring employees with high EQ. More than 40 percent of the HR managers surveyed said increased motivation and morale is the greatest benefit of having employees with high emotional intelligence, with 21 percent saying it leads to improved leadership. In addition, 19 percent of HR leaders believe high EQ leads to better collaboration and five percent think it results in effective conflict resolution. Finally on this note, in order to help professionals increase their emotional intelligence, OfficeTeam offered these five tips:
1. Increased self-awareness: Now on this note, you need to be in touch with your emotions and have a handle on which ones are likely to boil over. "Take charge to manage those emotions before they affect your job performance," the study's authors wrote. "If you're not sure about what might trigger you in different situations, ask for input from people you trust and who know you well."
2. Think first: Before you react to anything, it is critical to think about the bigger picture first. "When you feel upset and want to react immediately, remember that doing so can hurt how others view you," the researchers wrote. "By taking the time to think things through, you’re practicing self-regulation." 3. Motivate yourself and others: Being motivated each day grows the probability that you'll have positive interactions with those around you.
4. Listen carefully: In order to understand others, you need to not only listen to what they're saying, but take note of their nonverbal cues. "A big part of emotional intelligence is empathizing with the feelings, wants, needs and viewpoints of those around you," the study's authors wrote. "This includes people at all levels of your team as well as clients of the company." 5. Boost your social skills: Professionals in one sense can increase their EQ by polishing their social abilities, including their listening, verbal, and written communication and conflict resolution skills. They should also work on ignoring distractions and showing genuine interest in those they work with. "Having strong interpersonal skills can help you build capital throughout your career, whether it's making a positive first impression or creating long-term professional relationships that could open doors to your next opportunity," the researchers wrote.
The study was based on surveys of more than 600 HR managers at companies with 20 or more employees, and more than 800 workers who were employed in office environments in the United States and Canada

Google tweaks Photos with white balance correction to serve as it eyes image archiving

Already, Google Photos is one of the best apps for editing and managing your snapshots, but Google isn’t planning to play it safe. In this sense, Google has steadily added a stream of small but important features, tweaked the interface, and improved the experience in subtle ways. This latest update is no different. But as the case may be, most users won’t see the difference, but eagle-eyed shutterbugs will notice that their photos look a little different when looking at the auto option in the editing window. That’s because Google has added a new tool: auto white balance. It’s a subtle thing for sure, but an incorrect white balance can give your photos an unintended blue or yellow hue. As always, you don’t need to follow Google’s suggestions, but I tested a few photos and the results were pretty spot on. And there may be more improvements on the way. Android Police conducted its customary teardown of the latest APK and found some things to note. The most major of the changes is the possible introduction of a long-awaited feature: archiving. Presumably it would work much like Gmail’s archiving does, by taking the picture out of your main library but keeping it for later reference, acting as a way to clean up your photos without deleting a bunch of pictures you might want in the future. But in Photos it would be even more useful, because our photo feed is a giant bucket of everything we've shot, whether or not they're been filed away into albums. While it’s unclear when archiving will make it into the main app, Android Police estimates that the feature is nearly complete and could be added between updates via a server-side upgrade. The auto-white balance feature is live on the Google Photos site and rolling out to Android phones this week. Google also says an iOS update is on its way.
The big picture: Beyond doubt, Google could probably rest on its laurels for the rest of 2017 and not release a single update to Photos, and it would still reign supreme. Really, no other app comes close. But it’s great to see Google paying so much attention to the little things inside Photos. Our smartphone cameras are the key to recording our lives, and Google keeps making it easier to keep track of every moment. Thanks......

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Speak Out: The Skill Your Employees Want You to Improve On

A study from Robert Half Management Resources revealed that communication skills are in one sense what workers think their managers could improve on most. Specifically, 30 percent of the employees surveyed said communication and diplomacy are the areas bosses could be better at. "At the managerial and executive levels, possessing technical skills is frequently less important than being a good leader and communicator," Tim Hird, executive director of Robert Half Management Resources, said in a statement. "A real fact is that the greatest ideas go nowhere if a manager cannot express them effectively, gain consensus and build the work relationships necessary to execute them." So in that sense, being a skilled diplomat and strong communicator can help professionals climb the corporate ladder, according to Hird. "Leaders must be able to tailor their communication style to the individual and recognize what motivates each team member," he said. "Managers who excel at this achieve higher levels of employee engagement and productivity." Now finally, in order to help managers improve their communication skills, Robert Half Management Resources offered these five tips:
1. Get feedback from everyone: One major thing here is that bosses should get opinions on their performance from not just those who they work for, but from those who work for them as well. Managers should be asking those around them about their communication preferences and how they can make it easier for to come to them with questions. Since not everyone, especially those working for them, will feel comfortable giving candid answers, bosses can try gathering feedback anonymously.
2. Take notes on how others do it: On this line, you should think of managers who impress you and who have great relationships with their employees. Observe how they interact with others and try to incorporate some of that in your own behavior.
3. Push your limits: On this note, it is important to push yourself beyond your comfort zone and put some extra effort into improving your areas of weakness. If you aren't good at having difficult conversations, find a mentor or colleague who can offer some advice. If you aren't great at giving presentations, don't feel embarrassed to take a public speaking class.
4. Be a good listener: A real fact is that, in order to be a good communicator, you also need to be adept at listening. When talking to others, really listen to what they are saying instead of thinking how you are going to respond. Also, when someone finishes talking, pause for a second to make sure you don't interrupt others.
5. Be yourself: Belief it or not, being a boss doesn't mean you relinquish your right to be an individual. So you need to be sure that you show your employees that you are honest, relatable and, at times, vulnerable. Also, don't be afraid to make mistakes. Employees appreciate knowing that you're not perfect. In addition to communication skills, employees want their bosses to work on their technical expertise, leadership, strategic thinking and project management skills. The study was based on surveys of 1,000 U.S. workers employed in office environments. Thanks........

Mobile devices holds a new spec to ensure quality 4K HDR video

So far, the group that sets standards for 4K on high-definition TVs has established specifications for 4K and HDR (high-dynamic range) video on mobile devices including smartphones, tablets and laptops. The devices will be eligible for a “Mobile HDR Premium” certification if they meet minimum specifications tied to screen resolution, bit depth and a handful of other elements that define picture quality. The specification was announced on Tuesday at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona. So now, for users, this certification will ensure that 4K and HDR hardware meet certain minimum requirements. The UHD Alliance members include Samsung, LG, Intel, Dell, Microsoft and others. In addition..... the certification will also be applied to content. For example, Netflix and Amazon, which are members of UHD Alliance, could produce content that is certified “Mobile HDR Premium,” so you’ll know that the image quality meets a certain specification. There are not many smartphones and tablets with 4K screens, but cameras are capable of capturing video at that resolution that can then be played back on high-definition TVs. An increasing number of gaming laptops with powerful graphics processors are also getting 4K screens. HDR up to now hasn’t had a fixed standard. Companies have used the term for marketing reasons, and quality has varied. Finally, the UHD Alliance is assuming that the market for 4K video on mobile devices will grow over the years. The alliance has already set similar certifications for Blu-ray players. Thanks......