Tech of the future? Think simplicity

On February 27, 2014, in Business Technology, by Staff Contributor

Are you overwhelmed by the total amount of technology in your life? Does big data have you and your employees feeling stunned? Here’s some good news: The Christian Science Monitor recently forecast that technology will soon become considerably less complicated for both personal and business users. How quickly will this happen? How about next year?

Too much information?

As the Christian Science Monitor story says, you shouldn’t feel alone if you’re overloaded with data. That’s due to the fact the digital universe is doubling roughly every two years. According to the story, consumers today can surf more than 600 million websites. And Apple’s App Store today holds more than 1 million apps.

The power of simple

Of course, this doesn’t mean that tech will only become more complicated. Actually, the Monitor story claims that one of the bigger technology trends for 2014 is going to be technology that is actually simpler to use and understand. That’s excellent news for consumers and employees. Tech might be powerful. But if you can’t figure it out, what good is it?

Tech leaders already simplifying

The Christian Science Monitor points to Apple and Google as the two companies that will spearhead the simplicity movement. These two tech giants already value technology that is user friendly and easy to understand highly. Concurrently, the fastest-growing technology startups seem to feel the same way, according to the Monitor story. Look at how easy it is to share files with Dropbox. Picture how easy it is to book car rides via a service such as Uber. Expect more tech just like this in 2014.


Tech can stop credit-card fraud

On February 25, 2014, in Business Technology, by Staff Contributor

Do you feel secure when using your credit cards at retailers? Do you feel less safe after retailer Target announced that hackers stole the data on 40 million shoppers who used their credit cards at Target stores across the country? Here’s some good news: CBS Minnesota recently reported that new technology can make such credit-card data breaches less frequent.

Smart cards

As CBS Minnesota reports, smart cards could be an enormous help. These cards store all of a consumer’s accounts on one piece of plastic. That sounds risky. But these cards make use of microchips and PINs to help keep consumer data safe. The cards already are popular throughout much of Europe, and hackers are rarely successful in cracking them.

Masked cards

Masked cards, though, are here. According to CBS Minnesota, these cards generate a temporary number when consumers use them, either at brick-and-mortar retailers or online. Then, after the transaction is finished, that temporary number disappears. Which means that even if hackers steal the number, they can’t use it to make additional purchases.

Why the delay?

Of course, after the Target disaster, consumers have the right to wonder why safer smart cards aren’t currently available in the United States. There is no easy answer. But some speculate that credit-card companies haven’t yet upgraded to the new equipment necessary to make these high-tech cards work. And until they do? The smart cards won’t arrive in the United States.


Some of the biggest tech failures of 2013

On February 20, 2014, in Business Technology, by Staff Contributor

Not all tech rollouts went smoothly in 2013. The Telegraph knows this, and had some fun with an end-of-the-year story talking about some of the biggest tech failures of the past year. You’ll have some fun reading about them, as well. But if you’re running a small business, make sure you don’t make the same mistakes on a smaller scale.

A healthcare fiasco

Pres. Obama fought to get the Affordable Care Act passed. When it was time to unveil the website that was to be the online home of the new insurance plan, he and his fellow White House staffers stumbled in a big way: The site was a catastrophe. It rarely loaded. Even if consumers were lucky enough to log on, they struggled to find the insurance information they wanted. The site has been largely fixed since then, but the fiasco has still left a stain on Obama’s legacy.


Then there’s the Sabre travel-booking system. During the height of the school holiday season, Sabre’s worldwide reservation system — a system used by more than 300 airlines — went on the fritz. This caused flight cancellations and delays for what the Telegraph says were thousands and thousands of passengers.

Walmart’s “bargain”

In October, consumers visiting Walmart’s website thought that they had found a fantastic bargain when they managed to purchased computer monitors and other gear for just $8.99, even though these tech items were valued as much as $500. Walmart blamed tech glitches and refused to honor the discount deals. Naturally customers were angry. And if you wanted proof, you only had to log on to social media.


Tech companies not happy with NSA spying

On February 18, 2014, in Business Technology, by Staff Contributor

Is NSA spying hurting business? The leaders of the biggest technology firms in the United States certainly think so. And they weren’t shy about sharing their feelings with the Pres. Obama during a recent meeting at the White House. The Washington Post recently covered this meeting. What’d they hear? Tech leaders say that NSA spying revelations are harming the entire economy.

The meeting

According to the Post, the tech leaders attending were most concerned that headlines from the NSA spying scandal were encouraging prospective buyers to back away from technology manufactured in the United States. An executive with Cisco Systems stated that he has already seen this. Tech leaders from AT&T, Verizon and IBM told the president that their shareholders were upset about the revelations which have come out about NSA spying.


According to the Post, the tech companies told the president that there should be limits on the amount of spying that the government does. Additionally they requested more transparency in how the NSA operates.


Obama did tell the attendees that he understood their concerns, the Post reported. Next he said that he’d keep these concerns in mind as he and the White House continue their lengthy review of NSA and how it operates. The president needs to keep this promise. All things considered, tech companies remain some of the strongest companies in the country. We should keep them happy if we want the country’s economic recovery to continue.


The $38 tablet is here

On February 13, 2014, in Business Technology, by Staff Contributor

Remember when tablets priced under $100 were a big deal? Now tablet makers are offering their products at prices even lower. The big question, though, is whether these budget-priced tablets are worth the money. Time Magazine recently looked at this question, evaluating the new Ubislate 7Ci tablet from Datawind. What’s interesting about this tablet? It only costs $38.

Race to the bottom?

There’s been a long-running race to the bottom among tablet makers. Naturally, when we say “bottom,” we’re referring to price. Tablet makers across the country have been racing to flood the stores with the least expensive tablets possible in an attempt to capture the business of the budget-conscious consumer. The Datawind tablet, though, beats all of them when it comes to price.


So, is the Ubislate, with its low price tag, a smart buy? That depends. For consumers who want a basic tablet, the Ubislate 7Ci might be adequate, according to Time’s review. But business owners who need to equip their employees with powerful tablets should look elsewhere. The Ubislate 7Ci doesn’t offer very much storage, and its performance is sluggish. Its battery dies too rapidly and its viewing angles are poor.

How cheap?

Of course, that $38 price tag is impressive. Time admitted that much in its review. And if you are budget-savvy consumer or business owner, Datawind’s move is good news. This tablet may not be the one for you. But the existence of the Ubislate 7Ci does prove one thing: Budget tablets are only going to get less expensive. You don’t need to pay a small fortune to own a tablet any longer.


Will tech make hospitals obsolete?

On February 11, 2014, in Business Technology, by Staff Contributor

Will technology soon make hospitals obsolete? It sounds impossible. Yet based on a recent report from CBS Atlanta, an international study on technology and health found that a majority of people around the world think that traditional hospitals will be obsolete thanks to tech advances.

The study

The CBS Atlanta story covers a survey by Intel Corporation. According to the survey, 57 percent of respondents believe that changing technology could make traditional hospitals obsolete. What will replace these long-time care centers? The Intel survey respondents point to the promise of customized personal care, as a result of improving medical technology.

Mobile care

Survey respondents stated that they are anticipating a day in which mobile and personalized technology enables them to keep track of their own health needs. Rather than spend hours in a waiting room or emergency room, patients can preferably rely on technology to cover many of their medical needs. Plus here’s a surprising result: About 30 percent of respondents stated that they would trust themselves to perform their own ultrasounds. The study also found that such innovative medical advances such as monitoring devices and ingestible technologies were more warmly welcomed by countries other than the United States.

Sharing information

Privacy isn’t what it once was, thanks in large part to technology. And this, too, is reflected in the Intel survey. As reported by the CBS Atlanta story, an astonishing 84 percent of respondents revealed that they were willing to share their personal health information if doing so would advance medical progress and lower healthcare costs.


What does the future hold? Ask IBM

On February 6, 2014, in Business Technology, by Staff Contributor

What technology trends will we see in the next five years? A good place to look is at tech innovator IBM. Forbes columnist Greg Satell recently looked at what’s coming up, highlighting IBM’s predictions for the next five years of technology change. Here’s a short look at what Satell found.

Classrooms get savvier

It’s made headlines: U.S. school children are falling behind their peers in a lot of the rest of the world, particularly when it comes to math and science. What to do? IBM predicts that teachers are going to have access to more technology, and they’ll have the ability to use this tech to reach a greater number of their students. This would be welcome. As Satell writes, although many U.S. students flourish in our educational system, a lot of others don’t. Tech will help change this.

Shopping gets high-tech

Tech will make retailers more effective in reaching their customers, too, according to Satell’s column. Imagine this scenario: You walk into your favorite department store looking for a new snow shovel. Your smart phone automatically searches the store’s inventory for products. Once you see one you like, you quickly send a smartphone message to the store’s staffers. One of them responds by guiding you to the shovels on display. That’s high-tech shopping.

High-tech medicine

Personalized medicine is going to be coming in the next five years, according to IBM. This is important: Different people react differently to different medicines. IBM predicts that soon doctors will be able to sequence your DNA in a day. The doctor can then access cloud-based systems that offer medicine recommendations based on the most up-to-date clinical and research information.


Is the end ready for Windows 8?

On February 4, 2014, in Business Technology, by Staff Contributor

Microsoft’s Windows 8 hasn’t received a lot of love, from either users or the technology press. It’s little surprise, then, that rumors are swirling that Microsoft is preparing to dismantle Windows 8 and start from scratch with its next version of the operating system. Woody Leonhard, a writer for the website of InfoWorld, recently had a look at these rumors and just what they could mean for consumers.

A new era?

Leonhard’s story concentrates on Threshold, the name that Microsoft is allegedly using for its next wave of Windows update. According to Leonhard, the goal of Threshold is to allow consumers to perform high-level activities across all Microsoft platforms, Windows, Windows RT, Windows Phone and Xbox. If the company can achieve this goal, Leonhard writes, it would be a good step toward removing the bad taste left by Windows 8.

Three versions

Leonhard cites a writer from ZDNet who says that Microsoft is now developing three primary versions of Windows, all of which should, hopefully, be more effective than Windows 8. First, you will have a more modern Metro consumer version, a traditional consumer version and an old-fashioned traditional Enterprise version.

An updated Windows 7?

Leonhard hopes the Threshold versions of Windows will in fact be updated versions of Windows 7. This makes sense: The majority of users liked Windows 7 as it was so easy to navigate and efficient. By comparison, Windows 8 is a clunker. If the new versions of Windows incorporate what worked well in Windows 7 and makes the system work even better? Leonhard writes that this could be a big win for consumers.