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Month: May 2016

Have you been pwned?

This website has come in handy a couple of times recently. I was made aware that my username and password were found in lists of those stolen from hacked websites, including Dropbox and LinkedIn. Of course, I had long since changed my passwords, but it’s still interesting to see this happen, and it could one day really save me. I suggest you sign up!

https://haveibeenpwned.com/

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A Guide To Running An E-Commerce Business

Since the internet was invented in the early 1990s by the British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee, it has changed the way that the world operates. For one, it is a democratizing force. The Arab Spring of 2010 was enabled in part by the fact that the protesters involved were able to communicate with each other on their phones. The internet has also allowed for more people to educate themselves. Sites like Open Culture believe that the Internet is able to act as a tool to proliferate information, university courses and art and literary criticism for people who may otherwise not have access to these things. It allows for all sorts of conversations to take place between people who may not otherwise have been able to communicate. One of the potential problems with this, however, is that the internet facilitates niche communities to exist. If a person only reads certain websites they can find themselves in a sort of digital echo chamber where their own opinions, thoughts and arguments are repeated back to them and are therefore validated and encouraged. Whether this sort of thinking has led to a greater degree of partisanship in our online and social discourse is debatable. On a personal level, the internet has changed things too. Facebook now has an estimated 1.9 billion unique monthly users and has enabled people to make new friends, and form new romantic relationships while also resurrecting old ones. It is also cited in a third of divorces today, so it is not all good.

However, as a potential business opportunity, it is unparalleled. The global e-commerce market is thought to be worth about $22 trillion with m-commerce (transactions that take place on mobile devices) being worth an estimated $3.2 trillion. Remarkably, amongst small businesses in 2016, 46% did not have a website. Of the 54% which did, 23% of those websites were not mobile friendly. These statistics reveal that a lot of people have still not realized the potential of the internet as a tool for running a business. The reality of the modern world is that if someone needs information, they will likely turn to Google. The prevalence of phonebooks or business directories has steadily declined for exactly this reason. Not having a website is therefore to condemn yourself to only being able to do business with customers who are in your geographic vicinity. If you live in a major city, that still may be millions of people, but with 3.7 billion people now having access to the internet, there really is no reason not to embrace the digital revolution. Besides, the internet is also a great marketing tool.

The infrastructure of online commerce is such that if you are smart, you can easily advertise your business for a fraction of the cost that it would ordinarily cost. For example, with sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, if you manage to produce viral content, you can reach millions of people within a few hours. Besides, the cost of using these websites to promote yourself or your business is nothing. The only problem is that everyone else is trying to capture the zeitgeist too so it can sometimes be a rather crowded market. It is especially important when you are advertising online to be sensitive to the cultural considerations of the people who may see it. With the internet, that is people from nearly every country on earth. It can often be quite expensive to plan, create and launch an advertising campaign and if it is not successful, that money will be wasted. The recent Pepsi commercial featuring Kendall Jenner created a backlash because it was thought to co-opt and infantilize a political struggle that is real to a lot of marginalized people. Using that to sell your products is rather distasteful anyway, but it is especially embarrassing when the corporate desire to fit in and appeal to young people is so blatant and unsophisticated. There are so many examples of international marketing campaigns that were not cognizant enough of the cultures in which they wished to expand. However, being sensitive to these things is not just a moral issue, it could help prevent you losing the potential revenue of massive markets around the world.

There are particular benefits to running an online only business though. First, with retail companies, in particular, there are a lot of serious expenses that have to be met in order to start trading. Opening a brick and mortar store is expensive because the store itself needs to be designed in such a way that it is appealing to the customers as well as safe and compliant with lots of different health and safety codes. There is then the issue of hiring friendly, competent staff that have a working knowledge of the products and also how to deal with customers. The cost of a warehouse for stock is also important. When you run an online store, you will still need a warehouse, but you can save lots of money on running an actual store. Your overheads will be a lot lower, and you will, therefore, be able to sell your products for reduced prices as well. One of the costs that online businesses have to worry about though is the sometimes startling prices of shipping products to customers. While most online purchases come with a shipping fee, they do not always cover the entire cost of sending the package, especially if it is an international delivery so the e-commerce company will have to subsidize part of the transaction. They obviously consider this a feasible option because they anticipate future business with the customer. However, this is not something on which you can always rely.

There are particular security issues of which you need to be aware as well. When a customer inputs their sensitive financial information into the payment gateway on your website, they are taking a risk. The threat of non-ethical hackers compromising your computer systems and stealing that information is real. In fact, it has happened to a lot of major companies. It is serious because this sort of thing can completely ruin your reputation with your customers. If they cannot trust you with their sensitive information, they simply will not shop with you. If you fail to put the necessary measures in place to protect yourself against this sort of threat, you may find that you face legal problems. It is your ethical responsibility to protect this information. However, it is not always just outside forces which you should protect yourself against. A poll conducted in 2011 found that 60% of people steal from a company that they are leaving. 65% stole email lists, 45% took non-financial business information, 39% took customer contact details, 35% took employee records, and 19% were bold enough to steal financial information. These are corporate crimes, and if you think you were the subject of fraud, you should consider speaking to a whistleblower attorney. Setting a precedent and clearly demonstrating that you do not condone such behavior is important, but you should also be aware that losing this information can seriously affect how well you are able to compete with other businesses. You have legal recourses which you should use.

Finally, whatever you choose to sell, you need to make your products unique. People can often be indecisive when they are working around a mall because there are so many different products available to them. However, when it comes to the internet, there are many more. Managing to stand out in this environment is not easy, but it can be immensely profitable, a fact demonstrated by the CEO of Amazon Jeff Bezos now being worth an estimated $84 billion.

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4 Compelling Reasons You Should Start Trading Online

The internet is home to so many weird and wonderful things. No matter where you click, you’re bound to find something of interest.

If you surf the web for long enough, you may stumble across the online trading scene. This is often known as online investing, and is a popular way for many people to invest their spare cash. It follow a similar process to regular investing, the main difference is that everything is done via the internet.

What we want to discuss today is why you should consider trading online. I’ve put together four compelling reasons that will show you why it’s such a good idea:

You Can Trade So Many Different Things

One of the best things about trading online is that you can invest and trade so many different things. You’re really not limited by anything, if you can think about it, you can trade it. Of course, there are all the usual suspects that most people think about what they consider trading. You can trade stocks online, you can dabble in forex trading, and many more traditional methods.

As well as all this, you can invest in many other things too. Bitcoin is a very popular online investment and something you can trade. As you’ll note from this Coinbase review, bitcoin has increased in value quite a bit over the years and continues to do so. This makes it a great thing to trade as the opportunity for making money is increased. Overall, the fact you have so many options to choose from makes online trading a very promising prospect. With so many different things, you can dabble in multiple trades and make even more money.

There Are Loads Of Platforms To Help You

Another compelling reason to start trading online is that there are loads of platforms out there to help you get started. A trading platform is essentially a website that lets you buy and sell different assets. It doesn’t matter what you’re interested in trading, it could be stocks, forex, indices, bitcoin – there’s always a platform out there that you can use.

These platforms are designed to help you buy and sell whatever it is you’re trading. It brings the market to your computer, meaning you can trade things from all over the world. Everything is very simple thanks to the platforms at your disposal. It certainly makes trading more accessible, as you don’t need to go to a stock exchange, and you don’t need to hire a broker. Some platforms come with online or automated brokers that can help you find the best trades too,; it’s a win-win situation!

You Don’t Have To Leave Your Bedroom

Is there a better reason to start online trading other than the fact you don’t have to leave your bedroom? You can literally wake up, get your laptop, and start trading without getting out of bed. It’s incredibly simple and requires very little effort on your behalf. As mentioned before, you don’t have to go to a stock exchange or anything complicated like that. Just trade from your bedroom!

Likewise, you can also trade from anywhere in the world. If you’re on holiday, you can still fire up your laptop or mobile phone and make some trades.

You Can Earn A Lot Of Money

If you’ve read the previous three reasons and are still on the fence, this reason will tip you over and help make up your mind. The simple fact is, you can earn a lot of money when trading online. It allows you to constantly stay in the loop and make trades whenever you want, wherever you are. As a result, you could sell something at the right time to make loads of cash, or buy something at the right moment to get a real cheap investment.

You don’t have to be extremely active and buy/sell like crazy every day either. You can invest and then sell at a much later date if that’s how you prefer to trade as well. If you want to earn some extra money on the side, this is a really great way to do so. Online trading can help you turn your savings into something far more substantial.

These four reasons prove why you should consider trading online. It’s a very smart thing to do and a great way to spend your free time. Plus, it’s so easily accessible, and there are so many options to choose from. If you’re looking to do something with some extra cash, you may as well invest it online!

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How Technology Has Changed Music

Whenever you switched on the radio as a kid, you’d have to fiddle with the signal and the aerial to get a clear sound on the songs being played by your favourite radio station. The strength of the signal used to vary from room to room in the house, but thanks to the developing world of technology, music has changed dramatically.

Long gone are the days of cassette tapes and scratchy record players. Audio technology is constantly evolving and as yet, hasn’t reached a peak! There’s always been changes in music, and it’s not just that the popularity of rap and grime music has overtaken traditional bands. We’re going to look at the ways that technology has helped music to evolve over the last few decades, so that you can see why our world is a better place with technology on our side:

  • Production. Music has so much gadgetry involved, from synthesizers that use a high frequency oscillator to DAWs and social media streaming services. The current technology in music has made it much easier for individual musicians to produce their own music, whereas before they would have needed a production company on their side to get it all done. People demand music right now, so waiting for a release date for a physical album has become a thing of the past. Home studios of a professional quality are so much easier to set up than ever before, changing the whole face of production.
  • Profit. Due to the change in the way music is being produced, music production companies are now challenged in how they make their profit. The physical records and CDs you used to see in the shops all the time has upgraded to online streaming, with downloadable music now banking more in sales than ever before.
  • Instruments. There used to be a time where being in a band meant everyone had a role and instrument to use and others would sing along. Now, technology and music programs have made it easier for people to make music from a computer, overlaying instrumentals and beats with vocals. It makes it possible that one person can now play the music of a whole band. For some, this has ruined traditional music, and for others it has allowed them a new way of getting their sound into the world.
  • Correction. One of the most popular reason to own records is to hear the scratches and tiny imperfections in the songs. With the invention of MIDI, there’s no such thing as imperfections. Music and voice can be corrected with the touch of a button, changing someone with the right look and the wrong voice into someone with an angelic singing ability.
  • Sound. The last, and probably biggest change to music has been the ability to create new sounds not heard before. Laying music over beats that couldn’t be reproduced without an orchestra means a whole new world of music is opened up. It’s so much easier to be creative with music, with technology on your side.
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How Technology Is Set To Change The World

If you were to travel back twenty years and tell people how the world would look in 2017, they would think you had traveled from a lot further into the future than twenty years. To us, those living through the changes, everything’s that happened has been gradual. If we look at how the world will look in twenty years from now, we’d be forgiven for thinking we were looking much further ahead. Here are a few big changes about to transform the world.

In the Workplace

The nature of work has gone through big cycles over the past couple hundred of years, and there’s about to be another big change about to happen. The advancement of AI and robots will mean some 40% of human jobs will be lost in the next couple of decades. We’ll be more productive, probably with cheaper goods, but there’ll be a lot of people out of work too. Take a look at a list of ‘robot-proof’ jobs to see if you’ll be affected.

Individuals More In Control

Some of us may be about to lose some control over our autonomy thanks to technology, but as a whole, we’ll be more in control than ever. Greater advancements in the internet and how it interacts with the world around us will affect all areas of life, include the nature of shopping, the medical sector patient experience, and how we choose to be entertained. Even matters that are thought of as mass experiences will be customizable. Technology will also be used to give more detailed feedback, more quickly, so that companies can provide services based on individual needs, too.

Interconnected World

The internet of things is slowly beginning to take off, but it’ll really announce itself in the next ten years or so. Soon, everyday objects that have traditionally technology free will be connected to the internet, so we’ll be able to control them using our devices. It’s going to make life a lot more efficient. For example, your car will be connected to the internet, and will automatically select the fastest route for you. Your alarm clock will be connected to your coffee machine, so you have a freshly brewed cup of coffee as soon as you wake up.

Virtual Reality

You might have used a virtual reality headset, or you might not. No matter: in the future, you most definitely will, because VR technology is on track to permeate many aspects of society, from entertainment to education to healthcare. Get yourself a job (a robot-proof job!) in the next 15 years, and you’ll probably be trained using a VR headset. Visit a shopping mall, and you’ll use one to try on clothes you might like to buy.

Travelling

Traveling is going to become faster and easier. Hyperloop trains will be taking us from one city to the next in a time that would have been unthinkable up until recent times. The driverless car revolution is also on the way, which will make the roads safer and more relaxing, too.

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Me and My Tech!

Tech continues to change the face of even our most basic everyday lives, with the advent of home SMART hubs, drones, and an increase sophisticated programs online. But tech isn’t a one size fits all solution. In fact, the value of it is where it is matched specifically with a need that cannot be fulfilled in any other way. It’s the relevance of that item of tech that makes it so important. With that in mind read on to find out about some areas in which developments in tech are very relevant and are making a real difference in people’s lives.

Education

Tech is most relevant in the area of education. Long have teachers tried to bridge the gap between being informative and entertaining to engage students in topics the wouldn’t choose to study.

But technology is a tool that is making this a lot easier. For example, creating activities that are quick, and simple to produce is easy, using tools such as Edmodo. You can have your own little social media network for your class, and videos can be built in as part of the lesson, as can audio, and even internet searches.

There are also a lot of opportunities for formative learning, which technology has introduced. For example, where a student can provide feedback on how well they understand things through voting buttons.

Of course, it’s not just schools that are using these techniques either but also higher learning institutions such as colleges and universities, and you can read more about how universities are making the most of the technology by clicking the link.

Basically, technology and education are so relevant to people’s lives because the method of how things are being taught is changing to better suit the generation that it is catering to. As well as giving learners better access to material on their terms.

Health

The difference developing technology in the area can make is literally of life and death proportions. The two most interesting aspects include nanotech and detection.

The idea of nanotech is that medicine is being taken to a microscopic scales, which is designed to help the body regain homeostasis from inside. Which means that it is less invasive and also has a higher chance of success.

There are of course different categories such as nanopharmaceutical, nanodiagnostics and nano techs for implants and prosthetics. But the research and trials look promising and should enable many serious medical conditions to be either cured or managed shortly.

Also, another idea very relevant to health and tech is the developments in diagnostics tools.

Wearable trackers are big in the fitness industry right now, and the idea of this translates well to diagnostic tools. For example, you could place a sensor in women’s bras to detect the temperature change in the breast tissue that might be indicative of cancer. Signaling them to go to the doctors for a check up.

Which means that tech like this could literally be saving lives!

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