Friday, 23 February 2018

The Three Ways to Advance Women in Tech

Regarding the fact that more women are opting for careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), there's an existing struggle for them to advance in the industry. Many female students aren't motivated to start a career in the industry simply because they don't believe they'll have the chance to progress.

"Ensuring better female representation in STEM should not be thought of as a gender issue but a business issue," said Sripriya Raghunathan, vice president of systems and software engineering at HARMAN. "Bringing more women with careers in STEM to the workforce will contribute to an employer's competitiveness in the marketplace and foster innovation."

In addition, women should feel as confident as men in their decision to pursue STEM careers.
So without going too far.... here are the three ways to improve advancement of women in STEM.

1. Start with schools:According to a survey by iCIMS, 61 percent of recruiters said they are most interested in hiring candidates with majors in STEM, but only 23 percent of college seniors graduate with that degree – and an exceptionally small portion is female.

"To nurture women in STEM, we need to start at the school level," said Raghunathan. "Employers should create programs that allow their women leaders in STEM to share their experiences and stories with young women who may be considering a career in STEM."

Partner with schools and offer conferences, events and presentations so experts can connect with female students. Don't wait until they're already settled in college with a different major; start with high schools to encourage women from a young age.

2. Create leadership training and mentoring programs:It's very important for women to feel that they're as capable as men, especially in leadership positions. But also, without the proper training, they might lack the confidence and drive.

"Employers can help bridge the gap by encouraging employees to form communities focused on connecting, innovating and building career advancement and support," said Jen Scandariato, senior director of cloud services at iCIMS. "Employers should offer resources, workshops, leadership and technical trainings, mentorship programs, and support career mobility and career pathing to promote an inclusive environment for all employees."

Everyone needs a mentor, and this is especially true for women in a predominantly male industry. Having someone to look up to for advice or inspiration can make a difference in their entire career.

"Employers should build mentor programs for women looking [to] advance their career to tighten the gender gap in male-dominated STEM fields," said Nisa Amoils, venture capitalist at Scout Ventures. "The lack of women in STEM can make it more difficult for women to develop professional relationships that advance their careers."

According to Raghunathan, these programs should do the following:

Provide tips to students and young women starting their careers in STEM
Offer ways to strengthen strategic, leadership, communication and technical skills
Empower female employees through sponsorship programs
Connect new women with senior female leaders

Raghunathan added that mentorships can help both new and existing female STEM employees, and attract and retain talent.

"With a strong mentorship program, companies can improve the onboarding experience for new female STEM employees," said Raghunathan. "This helps in creating a great first impression as an employer and also from a talent engagement standpoint."

3. Offer returnships:More than fifty percent of women in STEM think a parental leave would decrease their chance of getting a promotion; but 82 percent of office professionals and 95 percent of millennials would be interested in a returnship program in the future.

Returnships are similar to internships, but for those who have been absent from their careers for an extended period. This is a great opportunity for both mothers and fathers to refresh their brains and redevelop their skills in the workplace.

"As an employer, if your organization establishes a returnship for mothers, there should also be a formal program in place for men to have a returnship, because we are seeing more men becoming caretakers as women progress in their careers," said Scandariato. "Men and women should have equal opportunities to take time away from their career to grow their family, and be able to easily transition back into the workplace without penalties." Thanks...

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Zolo Liberty+ Truly Wireless Headphones review: Great battery life but mediocre audio

For years.... Anker has been making high quality mobile accessories and selling them at a reasonable price. Their audio brand, Zolo, is on this action too: The

company’s first truly wireless headphones, the $150 Zolo Liberty+, are indeed reasonably priced. Now, you’ll get the longest lasting battery life of any truly wireless earphones that I’ve tested so far. However, connectivity issues and mediocre sound mean you might not want to listen for too long.

Table of Contents
Listening Experience
The Bottom Line

While in-ear headphone design doesn’t vary much—the things have to be shaped to fit into a user’s ears, after all—but Zolo did well in this area. The Liberty+ comfortably fit into my ears right out of the box, and even if it hadn’t, Zolo includes three different ear tip sizes and four pairs of ‘Grip Fit’ sleeves to create a good seal and keep the earphones in good stand. Multifunction buttons are built into the back of each earbud. Tapping both while the earbuds are in their battery case begins the pairing process with your music source. One paired, the buttons are used to resume or pause music, accept or reject a call, or interact with your device’s virtual assistant.

The earphones have an IPX rating of 5, causing them more or less sweat resistant. I wore them in the shower to test this—and they survived the deluge. While I don’t recommend repeating my experiment as a regular practice, the Liberty+ does seem well-made and should wear well if properly cared for. The Liberty+’s battery case is swathed in a slick, aluminum shell—a nice upgrade from the typical plastic cases I see. The case’s extremely slippery exterior takes away from some of its lustre, however. I also found that while the case securely stores the earphones, ensuring that they charge correctly, removing the earbuds from their cradles is difficult.

Now, as for battery life, Anker leveraged its know-how from its USB power bank business when designing the Liberty+’s case: It can provide the earbuds with a stunning 48 hours worth of total playtime. Unfortunately, though, the internal battery inside of the earbuds only allows for around three hours of use between charges. In my review of Sony’s $199 WF-1000x headphones, I knocked the headphones for exactly the same reason. However, for a set that costs close to $50 less than the Sony ones do, it’s a shortcoming that’s a little easier to swallow.

Listening Experience:
So far, according to Zolo, the Liberty+ features 6mm Graphene Dynamic drivers with a frequency response of between 20Hz and 20kHz, as well as AAC and SBC audio codecs. With these specs, I was looking forward to giving the Liberty+ a good, long listen. Unfortunately, my enthusiasm for the earbuds was stifled by mediocre sound.

But don’t get me wrong, they don’t sound bad. But they don’t sound good either, especially when compared against Apple’s similarly priced AirPods. While the the earbuds delivered deep, punchy bass at all audio levels, I found that mid-range frequency was almost always muddy sounding, no matter what I was listening to. High frequency sound fared a little better, but not by much.

In addition I also experienced a limited sound stage—songs that I know well lacked much of the nuance heard in them while listening with higher quality headphones. It’s worth mentioning that sound profile of the earbuds can be tweaked with Zolo’s free Life app, but to be honest, I didn’t hear much of a difference between the five available EQ settings. Still on this note, Watching videos proved to be just as much of a let down, with audio lagging behind any media that I attempted to watch. Such lag isn’t unique to the Liberty+, though. Many of the truly wireless headphones I’ve looked at have suffered from this issue as well.

As if sound quality and lagging audio weren’t enough to hold against the Liberty+, I also experienced frequent, momentary connectivity issues. Apart from their Bluetooth 5.0 pedigree, a turn of my torso or head would cause popping sounds or second-long gaps in what I was listening to, no matter how close the phone was to me.

The Bottom Line:
Regardless of offering extraordinary battery life, the Zolo Liberty+’s less than stellar audio performance and minor-but-frequent connectivity issues make them difficult to recommend. That’s especially so when Apple’s well-balanced and easy-to-use AirPods can be had for just $10 or more.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Advertising vs. Marketing: What's the Difference and Which One Should I Use?

On one note, it's easy to get advertising and marketing confused – especially as a small business owner juggling all areas of their business. Now, knowing the difference between the two is imperative in setting the right strategies to help grow your business.

Promotion of your business all falls under the marketing umbrella. At its core, advertising is a subset of marketing. The other components of marketing including public relations, market research, newsletters, social media, community and more.

You're on Facebook checking out your friend's wedding photos only to notice a little something in your Facebook Newsfeed with a "Sponsored" tag. That's advertising. You're driving down the highway on the way to a concert and in big bold letters see a Billboard announcing an upcoming concert. That's advertising.

But marketing includes all the impressions people get about your business based on external forces. Advertising certainly plays a role in that impression, but it's far from the only impression.

"You walk through a grocery store and a rep from a local dairy farm offers you a free sample of their latest cheese. That's marketing," notes John Robinson, business mechanic at Purple Monkey Garage. "A jewelry store invites their top 10 customers from the past 12 months to a special in-store event showcasing a new line of products from one of their leading suppliers. That too, is marketing. In short, advertising is the exposure of your brand and marketing is providing your target audience with the experience of your product or service."
Implementing advertising and marketing into your business
The starting place for all advertising and marketing activities should always begin with a communications plan that outlines your:

Mission statement
Brand messaging
Short and long-term goals
Target audience
Not all advertising and marketing are created equal regarding that all businesses and their target audiences are unique in their own way. For example, if your goal is to sell more furniture to senior citizens in Alabama, Facebook's ad data may not show that there's a market there. However, the local newspaper may have high readership in Alabama senior citizen communities, and therefore, in this case the choice is obvious.

Advertising and marketing channel ideas:After you have your communications plan in place, you will for sure be able to make better decisions about which areas of advertising and marketing to explore.

Advertising Channel Ideas:

Facebook advertising. Facebook's ad plaftorm is a powerful tool. Digital advertising can easily be tracked, so you'll know if your efforts are working and Facebook ads can be powerful when targeted correctly and created with engaging graphics and copy.
Google AdWords. This is another measurable and flexible form of advertising that's highly relevant. Google AdWords produce the most relevant search results and ads possible.
Local publications. Don't discount advertising in a church bulletin, high school football ad journal, or on a local publication's website if you're a small business that's trying to reach the local community.

Marketing Channel Ideas
Your website. Having a company website is more important than ever. Customers Google businesses and expect to learn about them on the web.
Email marketing. Despite the growing number of emails that flood consumers' inboxes every day, email marketing still remains one of the most effective marketing channels. An email marketing solution like Benchmark, iContact or MailChimp makes these campaigns easy and measurable.
Events and tradeshows. Even in the digital age, there's still nothing like getting face time with your prospects. Seek out small and large events focused on your target audience. If you sell beauty products, Beautycon is one event you'll want to check out and if you sell pet products, attending America's Family Pet Expo will get you in front of pet enthusiasts, etc.

Finally on this note, marketing and advertising go hand in hand. Often, businesses need to invest in an integrated approach to close the deal using several marketing and advertising channels. And commonly, content needs to run through trial and error to find out which works best.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Top FBI, CIA, and NSA officials all agree: Stay away from Huawei phones for now

As we are in the age of fake news, collusion, coercion, and bots, the heads of all three U.S. intelligence agencies all agree on one thing: don’t buy Huawei phones.

Right now, CBS News is reporting that FBI Director Christopher Wray, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats each gave testimony on Capitol Hill this week to address the cybersecurity threats facing the nation and all admitted that they would never willingly use a Huawei handset.
The impact on you at home: The intelligence community has been warning about the risk of Huawei for years, but the timing of the message here is clear: buy the Mate 10 Pro at your own risk. Ever since a 2012 investigative report—in which Huawei was wholly uncooperative—lawmakers have been warning about the potential dangers of using Huawei phones, but with the company on the verge of a U.S. breakout, the rhetoric has been ramped up considerably. Even without any hard evidence, the intelligence community seemingly has ample reason to suspect Huawei of cyber espionage, and it is stopping at nothing to ensure the Mate 10 Pro isn't a big seller in the U.S.

Sorry, Mate
On this note, while Huawei wasn’t specifically targeted in the officials’ prepared statements on the threat assessment, Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Sen. Richard Burr raised the conversation to China when he stated, “The focus of my concern today is China, and specifically Chinese telecoms companies like Huawei and ZTE that are widely understood to have extraordinary ties to the Chinese government.” ZTE might be a small player in the smartphone industry, but Huawei is the No. 2 or No. 3 phone maker in the world and has been desperately trying to break into the U.S. market for years. Heading into CES it seems as though it had finally gained a foothold with a U.S. carrier, but AT&T pulled out at the last minute after pressure from a bipartisan group of lawmakers.

When asked whether they would recommend U.S. citizens buy phones from these manufacturers, none said they would, with committee member Sen. Mark Warner adding, “We need to make sure that this is not a new way for China to gain access to sensitive technology.”

In his opening remarks, Coats said the U.S. is facing "a complex, volatile, and challenging threat” from foreign entities “using cyber to penetrate virtually every major action that takes place in the U.S.” While the agencies have yet to produce specific evidence that Huawei is working with the Chinese government to siphon data from its customers, Huawei has long been suspected of using its technology to spy on users. With the $799 Mate 10 Pro due to begin shipping on Feb. 18, Huawei had this to say in response, “Huawei is aware of a range of U.S. government activities seemingly aimed at inhibiting Huawei’s business in the U.S. market. Huawei is trusted by governments and customers in 170 countries worldwide and poses no greater cybersecurity risk than any ICT vendor, sharing as we do common global supply chains and production capabilities.”

Earlier this week, Huawei was caught bribing users to leave glowing reviews for the new handset on Those comments have since been removed.

In our review of the Mate 10 Pro, we found it to be an impressive premium handset, with a powerful chip and excellent AI integration, while the Leica-branded camera bested the Pixel 2, iPhone X, and Sony Xperia XZ1 in our Last Cam Standing video series. Top FBI, CIA, and NSA officials all agree: Stay away from Huawei phones"
This story, was originally published by PCWorld.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Four Ways to Get a Job Referral

A large number of employees start their career with the help of someone already in their industry who has put in a good word for them. It's just as crucial to build connections with people as it is to earn a degree and gain experience.

"The most important benefit of being referred is that you almost always get someone's attention to at least look at your resume, instead of having it fall into the black void of an applicant tracking system where no human may ever see it," said HR analyst, Laura Handrick of

A job referral is a common way to get your foot in the door at a company, setting you apart from applicants who are just as, if not more, qualified for the job. So, what can you do to stand out as a capable applicant? We outlined these four tips for getting a job referral.
1. Create a soft referral for yourself:Here you are to take matters into your own hands by reaching out to others for help. Leela Srinivasan, chief marketing officer at Lever, advised candidates to "think as broadly as you can about potential connections you have into the organization." Ask yourself if you know anyone, even just briefly, who can potentially offer a referral.

"A soft referral would be to go through a shared connection," said Heather Monahan, founder of #BossinHeels. "If you don't have a shared connection, then reading about the hiring manager's experience and background [is] a great start."

Research where the hiring manager attended college, what companies they've worked at before, what their interests are, etc. This will help you to establish common ground and personalize your experience, Monahan said.

Additionally, Handrick suggested collecting written recommendations you've received on LinkedIn and saving them as PDFs. That way, you can attach them to your application as soft referrals.

2. Establish a genuine connection:In order to build more meaningful connections, attend networking events and conferences, and post helpful insights on industry blogs, said Handrick.

"Once someone sees you demonstrating your credibility, they might consider referring you based on that alone, but better if you … get to know them and help them in some way before asking for a recommendation," she added.

If all else fails, think about any possible ties you can make with the company. Ask questions, show that you've done your research, and express curiosity about company culture and values.

"Try to establish a legitimate connection, even if it's experience-based," Srinivasan said. "As a candidate, your object[ive] is not to game the system. On the other hand, if you come to the table with authentic examples of times when you've exhibited a particular value that the company champions, those could come in handy during the process."

3. Leverage social platforms:If if occurs that you find yourself empty-handed after considering possible connections, turn to social platforms.

"Social media is king when trying to get a referral," said Monahan. "We all have established networks, and when you search within these networks to find out if you have contacts in common, you start the path to set yourself apart."

Pay special attention to LinkedIn. Scour a company's profile, click See All Employees and check if you have any first- or second-degree connections.

"If you have a first-degree connection, reach directly out to them, explaining why you're interested in working for the org[anization] and asking if they can refer you," said Srinivasan. "If you see a second-degree connection at the company … figure out how you're connected and see if there's a mutual connection who might be able to give you a warm intro."

According to Srinivasan, many companies have referral programs and offer incentives to employees who refer candidates. You may be surprised by how eager your potential connections will be to refer you.

4. Simply ask for it:On regard to this, Handrick stated that the secret to getting a referral is asking for it. If someone compliments you on your work or professionalism, kindly ask them if they'd be willing to refer you.

If you know someone that works at your desired company, reach out to them and ask if they can get you an interview, said Monahan. If you don't have access to an insider, however, you can always speak to your loved ones.

"Asking your family and friends for help definitely pays off," Monahan added. "Let everyone know what you are trying to achieve and ask them to do something specific … We are always one connection away from the introduction we may need. Being upfront and honest about your intentions is key when trying to establish a new connection."

You can also keep a file of positive comments people have shared with you, Handrick said. That way, when you need a referral, you can reach out to that person and see if they'd be willing to put that in writing as a referral.

Don't be afraid to ask for help. You never know how far it will get you.

"No one in this world succeeds alone," said Monahan. Thanks for reading...

Friday, 2 February 2018

How you can send Android SMS messages with Amazon Echo, and why it's a big deal

First, if you got a Google Home Mini to go with your Android phone this Christmas, one of the first things you probably asked it to do was send a text. But instead of asking what you wanted to say, your Google Home said this: Sorry, I can’t send texts yet.

But starting today, if you ask the same question to your Amazon Echo, it will happily oblige. Here's how to send SMS text messages with Amazon Echo.Echo devices have long been able to send messages to each other, but now Amazon has expanded that to the Android community as a whole, adding hundreds of millions of new devices to its ranks. Now you can simply say, “Alexa send a text message to mom” and it will oblige, using your Android phone as a conduit. But before you can get that working for you need to set it up. When you ask your Echo to send a text message for the first time, it will reply: “If you have an Android phone go to the Alexa app and enable SMS messages. Here’s how to do that

Open the Amazon Alexa app on your phone (or download it if you don’t have it).
Tap the icon on the bottom bar that looks like a chat bubble.
Tap the icon on the top bar that looks like a person.
Tap “My Profile.”
Turn the “Send SMS” toggle blue.

After this, you only need to ask Alexa send a text message to someone in your contact lists. After confirming the recipient, Alexa will ask what you want to send and inform you that the message has been sent, but it won’t be read back before it’s whisked away (nor will it appear on the screen of the Spot or Show). So you might want to keep your messages casual, lest something gets lost in translation.

Amazon's Trojan horse

While SMS messaging might look like just one more skill for the Echo, it’s definitely a big deal. Amazon doesn’t have the luxury of joining a built-in platform like Google with Android or Apple with iOS. Sure, there’s FireOS, but that’s largely a content platform and a niche one at that. For Echo to succeed, Amazon needs to build a strong platform around Alexa. And every mobile platform starts with messaging.

But Echo-to-Echo isn’t enough. One day when Amazon is selling as many iPhones as Apple does it might be, but for now, Amazon needs to leverage existing platforms to gain a foothold. And the largest and most viable is Android. Apple’s Messages is going to be a much harder nut to crack, but for now, that doesn’t really matter. Android SMS gets its foot in the door and will surely put pressure on Google to develop a similar feature for its Home devices. The new battleground isn't on our phones, it's in our homes, and Amazon isn't about to let any of its competitors get a strong foothold.

With a contentious battle playing out between Google and Amazon and the release of HomePod just around the corner, SMS messages on Echo devices is a great way to showcase the possibilities of the Echo platform. With numerous devices, a proprietary calling and messaging service, and now the ability to send SMS texts, Amazon is slowly building a strong, versatile ecosystem that rivals any of its smart speaker competitors. And the best part, it's completely seamless and invisible. When you step into your home, Alexa becomes the ecosystem, integrating with the devices in your home so you don't have to. And now that it can text too, that's one less thing you need to pick up your phone to do.

Amazon learned a valuable lesson with its failed Fire Phone: If you can't beat them, join them. But by joining Android phones, it just might beat Google where it counts: the Home.

This story, was originally published by "PCWorld".