Archive for November, 2011
With the ease and security of online shopping, you’d think everyone would be shopping at home this winter season. Of course, that’s not the case. Thousands of bargain hunters will be lined up waiting for the retail stores to open. And these savvy shoppers will have new bargain-hunting weapons at their disposal: mobile devices. Everyone with a smartphone or tablet will have with them specifically designed apps to help them navigate everything from where an item is in a store, to seeing if it is the best price, to being able to buy it online—in the store. Here are just a few of the ways technology is influencing our habits this holiday season.
An interesting trend this holiday season is appearing in mobile apps for both smartphones and tablets. These apps are specifically created to make your in-store shopping experience as easy as possible. One app in particular allows you to scan a barcode with your smartphone and it will compare that products price to other stores and online retailers.
Another app even lets you take a picture of the product, and it will likewise compare prices and availability. Still another allows you to skip the directory and locate the exact aisle placement of that prized gift.
Another interesting trend this season is in the strategies taken by marketers to hook us even when we’re not tied to our computers. Smartphone marketing could be the next big step in reaching consumers, and this holiday season will basically be the beta test. Many marketing agencies have set out to contact shoppers while they’re waiting in long lines, and offering big deals and discounts in “mobile-only” purchases.
Economical Technology Trends
Not only will we be using technology to make our shopping lives less difficult, but we will also be on the lookout for the next big advancement. The trend in technology is seen in the battle of the tablets—at half the cost, the Kindle Fire is posing a threat to iPad’s dominance, and a new iPhone competitor seems to be entering the market every day.
For good reason: the consumer is wary of the economy, will most likely spend less this year, and will be looking for both bargains and value.
Of course not all of us will be camped out in front of our computers making our holiday purchases this year. Many will have their smartphones and tablets at the ready to do battle against shop and shopper alike. But as technology gives us greater freedom as consumers to purchase wisely, we must also acknowledge the way the tech itself is in that constant battle for our money. And, in this economy, the machines, gizmos and gadgets that offer the most value, will be the ones to beat.
The Intel4004 was the first CPU on a single chip and also the first available to the commercial market. This week it celebrated it’s 40th birthday! We wish to say thank you to the microprocessor that grandfathered the CPUs we have today. A CPU is the brain of a computer. Known as the central processing unit, every bit of information in or out of a computer goes though the CPU. Just imagine what the Intel 4004, a tiny yet powerful CPU, did for the computing world in 1971. CPUs have come a long way since then, but they continue to be a huge part of our everyday lives.
The Intel 4004 was originally created for a calculator, but it quickly led to technological leaps in computing. Many common devices wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the powerful CPUs born from the Intel 4004.
These products include laptops, streetlights, and cell phones.
We can’t say happy birthday to the Intel 4004 without talking about the engineers responsible for its development. Federico Faggin led the design and development of the Intel 4004 with Ted Hoff, and Stan Mazor. In this ever-changing world of technology we can lose sight of its humble origins. The Intel 4004 was no small player in this.
So take a moment to appreciate the little microprocessor that grandfathered the technological world of today.
During the 3-day PhotoPlus Expo in New York, several exhibitors displayed their latest advances in photography technology. There were a huge array of cameras, lenses, printers, clothing, gear, gizmos and gadgets on display. The Expo was heavily bent for the professional photographer and the casual weekend or hobbyist cameraman might have felt left out. However, most of the latest introductions in technology were appropriate for both sections, even though some may be too highly priced. Here are 3 outstanding innovations showcased at the PhotoPlus Expo. A more detailed list of products displayed can be found here.
DEV-3 and DEV-5 3D Binoculars
The new Sony DEV-3 and DEV-5 3D Binoculars are out of this world with their amazing photographic and video potential. Of the two the DEV-5 is more advanced, but only the DEV-3 was on display. Both of them have incredible multifunctional capabilities and can be used as 3D binoculars, a 7MP camera or a 1080i video recorder. The DEV-5’s optical zoom capacity is an astounding 20X! One of the stumbling blocks, however, is the high cost of $2,000. The DEV-3 model has 10X zoom and costs $1400. But for people who are in the market for a high quality multimedia digital camera, these binoculars are worth looking into!
Micro 250 and 350
The Joby brand is recognized for its popular bendy camera tripods. However, one of the most interesting devices at their booth was the Gorillapod Micro. Unlike their typical bendy tripods, these mini-tripods were extremely rigid and could easily fold up under the camera with minimal weight or space addition. They come in several sizes, and with the ease of transport of your tripod, you can have it with you at all times.
Cintiq 24HD Pen Display
The Wacom Cintig 24HD Pen Display provides a massive 24-inch display to fit any need, from professional photographers to designers. For those who require precision editing of pictures and designs, it might be well worth the price tag of $2600. Because of their high demand, they’re relatively difficult to acquire though. The display is praised for its snappy responsiveness and exacting detail, making it ideal for anyone in 3D design, animation, industrial design, game development.
As a novice or professional, it’s always beneficial to keep up with cutting-edge technologies. We’re able to only showcase many of the incredible products that were displayed at the Expo. Browse the other cutting edge gadgets like state-of-the-art jackets, lighting, camera bags and gear here.
It is a given that you will need to get some assistance from your IT service provider sooner or later. However, it is hard for them sometimes to help you because of their busy schedule, trying to solve a lot of people’s difficult problems. When asking for IT support, know that they cannot read your mind, and it’ll help them to solve your problem if you are able to offer as much detailed information as you possibly can in the original request. Here are some suggestions to make the process more streamlined for both of you.
Write an Informative Email Subject Line
Your company’s IT provider deals with numerous requests a day. Their greatest frustrations come when the requester does not give enough useful information. When you send them an email, you should first identify yourself, and tell them where you work. If your computer is having problems, identify your machine by make and model. Provide them with as much detail as possible. Simply saying “Help!!!!!!!!” in the request is far from helpful.
Details, Details, Details
In the body of your support request email, you should add all details you can, such as what OS you use, what actions you’ve taken, and what was the content of any error messages you saw. Error messages might not convey much to those who are not in the IT field, but they do to those in IT! Statements such as “followed some steps I saw online” are ambiguous to the recipient of your email and they may not be able to diagnose the problem without contacting you for further information. It is important to explain the problem in full.
You are a busy person and so is your IT support team. Though it may be necessary to explain details, don’t write a novel about your annoyance. Provide the required information in a detailed but succinct manner. Offering too many unimportant details increases the time it takes to provide you an answer to your problem.
In the end, you are all busy people and your IT services provider wants to help you quickly and efficiently.
Help them do so by following the tips above!
The face of business has turned online the past few years. There was once less competition for business and getting your name out was straightforward, hire an ad agency or go door to door introducing your business. Now the number of business that offer similar goods and services is astonishing and it’s easy to get lost amongst them.
Because of this, small-business owners have had to reevaluate how they sell. But how do you convice prospective customers that they should choose you out of the many. Developing a strong online presence is a proactive way to do this, below are a few options open to companies today.
Mobile devices are becoming more and more common. People carry them to make their lives easier as they can stay connected to their business and personal lives.. This can make commuting valuable working time rather then dead time. Unfortunatly many regular sites aren’t very readable on a mobile device because of this many businesses have mobile sites. They retain the companies branding while allowing for faster, easier navigation on a mobile device. Mobile site makes your company more easily accessible to consumers.
These are an interesting phenomena, originally they were intended as sites primarily for personal socializing. But when Facebook came out, their clean utilitarian site enticed businesses owners. Those individuals realized they could reach a wide audience by developing a social face for their business. Now almost every business has a Facebook page. Social sites give companies a platform to share interesting and fun content that is relevant to their industry with consumers. Creating this on-line community is a passive way to create sales. You may have heard about Google , they have recently unveiled their business pages. Read this walk-though to learn how you can set up a Google business page. Social sites are a nonintrusive way to interact with a large audience that I predicted the relationship between businesses and social sites a long and fruitful one.
Providing something educational for prospective clients is a great strategy to develop trust. A couple of ways companies can do this is through webinars and blogs. You have probably noticed the growing popularity of blogs.
Companies can stay ahead of their competition by showing their in depth knowledge in their field with on-line education.
While the on-line business community is growing we can still visit local shop where the owner works behind the counter but more then likely that business has some kind of on-line presence. Business are not just street facing anymore but Web facing as well. Being conscious of the changing face of business and open to it will make you a more prepared business owner and/or consumer. Here is another article about why creating an on-line presence is good business practice.
We have talked many times before about how the modern world is becoming more connected, with others along with the world as a whole. Device connectivity could make how we live much simpler by reducing breaks in our work. For instance, if you are working on a document at work and want to continue on the commute home, simply send it to your smartphone and use a voice transcription app to continue your work in the car. Connectivity presents us with an interesting future.
Here is Microsoft’s take on the subject. This future may not be far off and it makes me wonder, what kinds of devices, apps, or combination of the two are paving the way for a future like this? Here are some.
iControl is a home security and energy management product that Comcast recently unveiled. With this product, people can control the thermostat in their homes, turn lights on and off, and monitor their homes with live streaming video. Various components interact to give individuals full control over their homes when away.
This app for the iPad allows you to use your iPad or iPhone as an external hard drive for your computer.
Having the ability to effortlessly access and transfer your documents allows for more mobility in your workday.
The AirPlay function from Apple lets you stream music, videos, and photos wirelessly to an Apple TV. Picture yourself enjoying a podcast while in the car then coming home and effortlessly transferring the audio to your home without a pause to carry on enjoying it.
As more gadgets, apps, and software work harmoniously together, I see our day-to-day lives becoming easier and more fluid. Connectivity implies that all elements of our lives are more connected. Hopefully this means that our tech can stay one step ahead of us and if result in less waiting, I am ready for it… how about you?
Originally published in COMMUNIQUÉ (November 2011, Vol. 32, No. 11) the official publication of the Clark County Bar Association.
Cloud computing promises to solve a multitude of business problems. Properly implemented, the cloud can provide a higher level of performance and reliability, superior security and scalability, and unprecedented mobility. Naturally, it also carries some inherent risks and raises some legal questions and issues.
Nevada’s state bar has issued a formal statement on the potential legal risks of cloud computing for attorneys and law firms, and recommends law firms:
- Exercise reasonable care in choosing a cloud provider, such that the firm has a reasonable expectation that privileged client information will be kept confidential.
- Specifically instruct cloud providers to safeguard client data.
- Ensure providers have a specific provision in their agreement that guarantees the provider will take measures to preserve the confidentiality of the firm’s data.
Vetting the cloud computing service provider
Assessing the reputation and reliability of a provider is the logical first step. How long has the cloud provider been in business, and are they using time-tested, proven technology? Because technology changes at a rapid pace, the longevity of a provider may be difficult to evaluate, but look for some quantifiable history of the company and the technology it employs. Reputable cloud providers use technology that is consistent with industry standards and holds up to expert opinions and analysis, as well as complies with standards, such as Statement on Auditing Standards No. 70: Service Organizations (SAS 70), Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
Any cloud provider trying to sell its platform is going to tout its security features. The best measure of a company’s worth in terms of security should be gathered from a third-party security audit. The provider should also be able to explain any occurrences of security breaches, as well as the actions the provider took in terms of restoring the lost or compromised data and compensating the injured parties.
If the provider has had no history of security breaches, it should be able to provide a detailed contingency plan, including a detailed description of where data is stored and backed up.
Performing due diligence will yield information that will allow you to make a well-informed decision.
Types of information
Clearly, a client’s personally identifiable information must be protected at all costs. However, according to Nevada Revised Statutes Chapter 603A, personally identifiable information consists of any information that directly or indirectly identifies an individual.
The language in a cloud service provider’s contract may not be specific enough. Before attorneys begin placing sensitive information on the Internet, they should draft language into the agreement that specifies the types of information that are protected under the provider’s security agreement. This may include, but not be limited to, data from a third party, data drawn from both electronic and non-electronic formats, metadata, trade secrets, personally identifiable information, and intellectual property. Attorneys should carefully formulate this language so it accurately covers all of the categories of information contained in their records.
Per NRS Chapter 603A, law firms are “data collectors” because they handle nonpublic personal information. “Personal information” is defined as first name or first initial and last name combined with one of the following when the name and data elements are not encrypted: social security number; driver’s license number or identification card number; account number; credit card number; and access code or password that would allow access to a person’s financial account.
Therefore, law firms must require cloud providers to implement and maintain reasonable security measures to protect their records from unauthorized access. An easy way to accomplish this is to contractually bind the cloud provider to adhere to NRS Chapter 603A.
Understanding what cloud computing “security” means
Unlike physical data storage, cloud computing relies on servers in data centers, authorized user passcodes, and electronic security measures. Cloud servers are typically stored in highly secure facilities requiring a biometric match and the consent of an on-premise security guard to gain entrance. The bigger risk with the cloud is unauthorized electronic intrusion, or “hacking,” in which the hacker steals user names, passwords, and client records;. Hacking can be as disastrous as having a pack of thieves make off with a filing cabinet.
Realistically, there is no way to guarantee against unauthorized electronic intrusion in the cloud, just as it isn’t possible to guarantee against it with your on-premise computer equipment. All network connected computers carry some level of inherent risk. Agreements with cloud providers should specify that they are responsible for exercising a “reasonable standard of care” to prevent unauthorized access to the information on cloud servers.
Statistics reveal that most security breaches originate from inside an organization, so attorneys are advised to use the evaluation of cloud systems as a precipitant to review their own internal security processes as well.
Properly implemented and managed cloud systems are likely to be more secure than on-premise equipment due to a higher level of proficiency in the design, along with adherence to more rigorous protocols. But most attorneys are not technology experts, so a potential cloud provider should be able to clearly articulate the security measures they employ.
Ramifications of the Nevada security of personal information law on cloud computing
Nevada Revised Statutes Chapter 603A requires that personal information be encrypted. Attorneys should review this law and determine what methods of encryption the provider is using. A big problem comes in the language of the provision, which focuses on the transmission of information from a “secure system.” Technically, anyone transmitting data from an “insecure system” may be able to evade the requirements of the provision. Also, telecommunication providers conveying the communications of other people are technically exempt from the requirement to use encryption. Nevada attorneys should write language that clearly defines the role of the provider so they do not manage to technically evade their responsibilities.
Under this law, the technical methods of encryption used by the provider should meet the standards or guidelines of an established institution, such as the Federal Information Process Standards, which is maintained by the governmental agency, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
Defining a security breach in compliance with NSPI law
Attorneys should also make sure that the terms of a “security breach” are adequately defined. If, for example, a provider defines a breach as unauthorized access to its user codes only, a breach that managed to exploit a weakness in the firewall of the underlying cloud computing system not related to the official password system itself could technically be described as falling outside the purview of the definitions of a security breach. When reviewing the provisions of the contract, attorneys should consider consulting a third-party cloud computing engineer who can provide terminology describing how breaches occur.
This is especially important in light of the “safe harbor” provision of NRS Chapter 603A. According to the law, “data collectors” are exempt from damages for a security breach if they follow the provisions of the law and the breach is not caused by the data collector or any of its associated employees. Again, this provision can be avoided if the cloud computing provider is not defined as a data collector. However, it is a scenario that attorneys should be careful to avoid. If the provider claims they are a “data collector,” then they would be able to evade practically any form of responsibility for a data breach they did not directly cause as long as they had followed the provisions of the law, even if their security procedures were sloppy but technically adequate.
Stating the obvious: limiting “sharing” policies
Attorneys should make sure contractually they are the sole owners of the data they store with a cloud provider. Furthermore, attorneys should make sure that the provider will not share or use the information it stores for any other reason than the reasons stated in the agreement. Providers should not “share” the information with other providers or service entities unless they have been specifically instructed to do so. Additionally, should the transfer of data or “sharing” be a part of the provider’s regular security activities, any agents, associates, or entities involved in this process should be prepared to agree to the terms written between the provider and the attorney.
The same best practices that apply to on-premise computer equipment apply to cloud-based systems. Law firms should make sure their staff is adequately trained to create strong passwords that are more difficult to compromise, not share passwords with anyone, and report any suspicious activity on their computer that may indicate a virus or other malware.
Reporting and notification procedures
Attorneys and providers should have a clear policy on how breaches or other security problems will be reported. If a breach occurs, the provider should state what actions will take place. First and foremost, the provider should notify the attorney’s office promptly if a breach occurs and provide them with procedures to prevent any further data from being exposed or lost. An investigation involving the seizure of related documentation or an active evidence collection phase may be necessary in order to establish how the breach occurred. The policy should specify that notice of these actions will occur within hours, not days, of an investigation or of the service of any subpoena or other legal process.
Cloud computing offers attorneys a multitude of compelling benefits, including improved mobility, reliability, security, and the ability to cost-effectively store and reference virtually any of their firms’ resources. By taking the time to carefully review the language of provider agreements and the applicable laws, attorneys can realize the benefits of the cloud while minimizing their exposure to risk.
In 1985’s Back to the Future, we travel through time with Marty McFly in a nuclear-powered DeLorean. Marty can do what man has wanted to do since the beginning of time: control his destiny. In the first movie, Marty goes back to the past to save his parent’s marriage, and consequently his existence. In the lesser first sequel, Marty travels into the future to alter the paths of his offspring.
While these films are obviously fantastic, they do present an intriguing question. In the year 2011, would we consider ourselves to be closer to the technology found in Hill Valley in 1955, or the second film’s futuristic vision?
Certainly there would be flying cars and hover boards by 2011, wouldn’t there? But we still have our feet firmly on the ground, riding bicycles, skateboards, scooters and driving gas-powered cars. As we look around us, the computer is the obvious difference between the present and the past. Yet, if we take a step back, so much of the technology we employ everyday has existed for years. The television was invented in the 1930s, cars had air conditioning and radios by 1940, and movies were in color. If you’ve seen The Wizard of Oz recently, the special effects are still pretty good — and they’re 80 years old.
We do, however, have technology prophesied in movies made decades ago. In Total Recall, the protagonist walks through a full-body x-ray machine to board a plane. As seen in most major airports 3D monitors and holograms are either implemented already or on the very near horizon.
Virgin Atlantic has taken a page out of 2001: A Space Odyssey to make space travel practical for the common man — or at least the common man who can spend $200,000 for 5 minutes of weightlessness.
We might not have flying cars or hover boards, but we do have Jetson-like videophones. We can Skype (aka VoIP service) to the 4 corners of the earth and chat with relatives or friends for hours for free. We can clone animals. We are in ethical debates over genetic engineering. We use lasers in everything from astronomy to surgery. Yet if you were to look at life all around us, does it look more like 1955 than 2055?
We’re really no closer to being able to fly to work as Dorothy was to returning to Kansas when she first arrived in Oz.
Where does that put us? The future is truly happening everywhere. Its seen in video billboards, the Internet tracking our every website click or online purchase, and 3D TVs and binoculars. We can still go to the movies – only now it might break the bank if you have a household of four. Still, the old axiom is true: the more things change, the more they stay the same. Chevrolet is still producing gas-powered convertibles, Universal is still making bad sequels, and you can still watch Back to the Future. Only now, you can enjoy it via mobile computing.