Technology

4 Ways To Remain Employable After The Rise Of The Robots

Once upon a time, life was much simpler and as soon as you were armed with an education, you were unleashed into the world and free to choose from a profession of your choice, you could stay in the same role for 30 years and then take a nice early retirement package, or so the fairy-tale goes.

However life now is very different and even if you have just reached your 40 birthday, the reality is that you will probably have to work at least another 30 years without the security blanket of a “Job for life” but in many ways this will make you a much more rounded individual with a toolbox full of unique skillsets that will ensure you tackle any situation.

Unemployment is never a nice topic to discuss but job seekers could be facing their toughest challenge yet in the near future with the predicted rise of the robots.

Before you scoff and shout at the screen that this is nothing but a bunch of sci-fi nonsense, take a look at the Oxford Martin School study that suggests nearly half of US jobs could be at risk of computerisation in the future.

However to be honest, we have all seen this coming as the not so glamourous and time consuming tasks are already becoming automated in our own work places and we probably all know someone that has been affected by these changes.

A quick look at hotel called Yotel in New York not only has a self-check-in kiosk’s but also features world’s first hotel robotic luggage handler.

Whatever your views on the controversial subject, we can all agree that if your reality is spending the next 50 years in the workplace, you need to invest in yourself and ensure you adapt and change to the world around you, so let’s take a look how you can help yourself prepare for the future dominated by robots and automation.

1. Embrace Technology

The cold hard truth is the grumpy technophobe has a rocky road ahead of them, unless they change their ways and embrace the technology that surrounds us all, make no mistake life will become increasingly more difficult.

Although we don’t all like to admit it, we are ruled by technology as we become increasingly reliant on our internet connection, even your humble kitchen appliances such as washing machines, refrigerators and even vacuum cleaners are now coming with Wi-Fi options, whilst your infant child knows their way around an iPad perfectly so it’s time to raise your game. (more…)

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The Digital Subscription vs. Ownership Debate

The big success story sweeping the digital landscape is the infamous Netflix business model, which has unwittingly created a long line of copycats who are desperate to imitate their rapid ascent to success in the modern world.

Recently the videogame publisher EA announced plans to offer their own subscription service called ‘EA Access’ in a collaborative effort with Microsoft and the Xbox One console. With many games retailing at $70 each, the allure of having access to a vault full of EA games for $29.99 a year sounds like a very tempting offer on the surface, but could also prompt other publishers such as Ubisoft to follow suit.

However the announcement was received by mixed reactions as many people are coming to the realisation that the average person on the street, no longer owns anything at all in the digital world that continues to move forward, whilst physical media is dying at an accelerated speed.

Shelves that used to contain video cassettes of movies, were replaced with DVD’s, followed by Blu-Ray discs before finally being replaced by all you can eat subscription services such as Netflix or Amazon Prime.

The music industry has also changed dramatically, and despite hard-core music fans keeping vinyl alive, the reality is more and more people are turning away from purchasing or even downloading illegal music in favour of services such as Spotify where you can think of an artist or song at any moment depending on your mood at the time and listen within a few seconds.

Books are safe though right? Step forward the Kindle Unlimited that not only removes the physical book from our lives but Amazon’s latest Netflix style venture intends to remove ownership of a book too and lets you have access to an entire library at your disposal for $9.99 a month. (more…)

Social Wi-Fi Customers Stay Longer and Spend More

The battleground of the ubiquitous free Wi-Fi is heading for an interesting transitional period, in one corner we have the customer who expects a constant internet connection wherever they are, they really don’t care how difficult or expensive this is to deliver and why should they?

However in the other corner there are the businesses that have to invest heavily to ensure their customers have a positive experience.

There needs to be a compromise in which both parties can be happy with the outcome and early indications seem to suggest that the up and coming trend of ‘Social Wi-Fi’ might just have a very bright future.

The concept behind social Wi-Fi is that business will invest heavily into providing an internet connection for their customers and in return they must sign-in via their chosen social network website such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, or by completing a form. In doing so they are able to capture details of their customers and promote your business to their online friends.

This opens up many possibilities for store owners and here in the UK, Purple Wi-Fi are leading the way with their that purple portal that gives their users access to its presence analytics, this allows businesses to understand who is visiting and using their hotspot, how long they are online, as well as their age, gender and any other relevant information that they offer in their social networking profile. (more…)

Rank Hotel Searches By Wi-Fi Quality

Booking hotels has always been somewhat of a mine field and in many ways it has become an even more complicated experience thanks to sites such as Trip Advisor, where you end up scrolling through hundreds of reviews and taking more notice of the 5 negative reviews than the 200 positive posts, trying desperately to work out if they are written by difficult or unreasonable people that sit in their room complaining rather than enjoying the location itself.

What are your requirements when booking a hotel? Location, hotel rating, hair dryer, coffee making facilities, mini bar, breakfast, gym, swimming pool or some nice little bottles of toiletries in the bathroom? Our online addiction has ensured there is new front runner of what we expect from our hotel of choice and I am of course referring to the “Wi-Fi” preferably of the free variety.

However, anyone that has taken advantage of the infamous free Wi-Fi will have been burned by establishments who have heavily throttled their network which results in a frustrating experience if you are trying to view a video on You Tube or movie on Netflix only to constantly see the words buffering as you feel the rage within building like Bruce Banner.

Although we all like to embrace a form of digital detox when away from our daily routine, the truth is technology is now ingrained into everything that we do and take an online connection for granted, to suddenly find yourself in a hotel room cut off from everything you know can be a disheartening experience.

Step forward Hotel Wi-Fi Test who encourages its users to test the Wi-Fi of hotels and record the results along with the location to its growing database allowing future guests to see just how good or bad an internet connection actually is

The site can automatically remove any hotel offering under 2Mbps to give you confidence that uploading your photos or streaming of video will remain unaffected during your stay.

We’ve heard your cry for fast and reliable hotel Wi-Fi and decided to motivate hotels to step up their game. We believe we can get hotels worldwide to re-evaluate their Wi-Fi service, and make improvements that will provide guests with the quality service they expect from the moment they make their reservation.

Our mobile devices can typically achieve average speeds of around 1.7Mb on 3G, depending on the strength of the signal, so most would expect this kind of speed as standard and struggle to see the relevance of connecting to a free Wi-Fi service offering a throttled 1Mb connection that ultimately ends in a negative experience. (more…)

Amazon Unveils Fire TV and Mocks Google, Apple and Microsoft In The Process

The last few weeks has seen increased speculation that Amazon will be joining the battle for the living room and this afternoon our suspicions were confirmed when Amazon announced that the Amazon Fire TV streaming box is officially a reality.

Quite simply described as a tiny box that plugs into your HDTV for easy and instant access to Netflix, Prime Instant Video and also offers the chance to play games which can be played with a separately sold controller, which looks remarkably similar to something Microsoft might produce.

Interestingly Peter Larsen came straight out swinging haymakers, by describing games consoles as too expensive and Apple TV’s mirroring efforts as laughable and even continued with an uppercut to their competition by criticising the lag on Apple TV, Microsoft’s Xbox Live and the Roku box.

A quick look under the hood reveals that Fire TV sports a quad-core processor with a dedicated GPU, 2GB of RAM (2X to 4X more than competing devices) and state-of-the-art MIMO Wi-Fi for “screaming” wireless performance.

In Layman’s terms despite being much thinner it offers three times the performance of Apple TV with the additional gimmick of being able to search for content with your voice, which should make their competitors stand up and take notice.

Amazon has worked with game developers like EA, Disney, Gameloft, Ubisoft, Telltale, Mojang, 2K, and Sega to bring their games to Fire TV. Games available starting on release include customer favourites like Minecraft, Monsters University, The Game of Life, The Walking Dead, NBA2K14, Asphalt 8, Riptide GP2, Despicable Me: Minion Rush, and more

With Fire TV we thought of games right from the beginning – fun immersive games at affordable prices.” Amazon proudly announces.

AmazonFireGameController-Front

In a rapidly saturated market the big questions are probably going to be, can Amazon survive in the modern battleground arena known as the living room? Or will this box end up gathering dust under the TV? (more…)

Ofcom: UK leads Europe With ‘Super Fast’ Broadband

Here in the UK we love to put ourselves down and fool ourselves into thinking that everything is not as good as it used to be, but it’s all part of our modest British charm. Rather than complain about everything that could be better, we can at least celebrate with a smug smile that the UK has more subscribers to superfast broadband services than Europe’s five largest economies, with connections of 30Mbps or faster now available to 73 percent of the population, up from 60 percent in 2011, Ofcom announced today.

The big European 5 countries are France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK but the increase in superfast cable and fibre optic packages has seen the mighty Blighty storm from third place to leapfrog Spain. (more…)

New App Spritz App Will Help You Read 1000 Words a Minute

Make no mistake, keeping up to speed in the modern world can be tough, everyday we consume thousands of words via email, Web pages, books and text messages. Step forward Spritz who have been working for nearly 3 years in “Stealth Mode” to perfect our reading methodology. They claim to have discovered that when reading, only around 20% of your time is spent processing content. The remaining 80% is spent physically moving your eyes from word to word and scanning for the next Optimal Recognition Point” or ORP.

The unique aspect of Spritz is that it identifies the ORP of each word, makes that letter red and presents all of the ORPs at the same space on the screen. In this way, our eyes don’t move at all as we see the words, and we can therefore process information instantaneously rather than spend time decoding each word.

According to the official Spritz site, “spritzing,” is the new form of reading that enables users to read up to 1,000 words a minute. Not only can the reader read faster, but Spritz says they are also able to retain much of what they read.  So let’s take a look at how it works…

250

This is 250 words per minute. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s stone is 76,944 words long according to . At this rate you could read the whole book in just over 5 hours.

350

350 words per minute doesn’t seem that much faster. 3 hours and 40 minutes to finish Potter (did you read that in the voice of Alan Rickman?).

I cannot think of anyone that would want to read a novel in this way and to even suggest this would be quite offensive to most readers because the beauty of reading is not like binge viewing your favourite TV show but to be transferred to another universe and escape reality to soak up the language and let your imagination create the world inside the book. You may even stop for a few minutes and ponder what you have just read and for these reasons, this innovation would dumb down the last sacred intelligent past time of reading.

However, nobody is suggesting we all read this way and this is simply a very useful learning tool which will enable students for example to read and digest information quickly which  would be incredibly useful to anyone who needs to wade through text books the size of War and Peace.

Anyone who has ever had to wade through a large text book or technical manual seldom  retrieve any joy from the experience but a tool like this could make our lives just a little easier and may even free up some of your time so that you can relax in your garden reading the entire works of Hemingway the traditional way but the important thing to remember here is you have different ways to access and absorb different types of information.

Nothing that we see or read is black and white any more; this is a very old-fashioned way of pigeon holing things for convenience and help people make sense of things. The truth is that we are all quite unique and the best analogy I can think of is that we all carry a toolbox around with us, and will select a tool from that for whatever situation that we find ourselves in or for any particular job/role and to be successful we just need to ensure that toolbox contains what we need.

The days of “we have done it this way for 20 years, but we get by” are disappearing, if you can use something like this to help make learning a little easier and but still be able relax and emerge yourself in another world for a few hours in the more traditional sense, would make you a more rounded and multitasking individual, but that’s just my opinion.

What is your opinion on apps like this, do they have a place in the modern world? Or is it simply a step to far?

Amazon Prime Membership £49 For 12 Months of Streaming 15,000 Movies & TV Episodes and Access to 500,000 Kindle Books

LOVEFiLM Instant will shortly become Amazon Prime Instant Video and customers can soak up unlimited streaming of more than 15,000 Movies & TV episodes and access to 500,000 books via the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. How much is this going to cost you? From 26th February the price will be £79 for 12 months, which works out just a little more expensive than Netflix.

However if you are smart you can pick up a Amazon Prime Membership right now for £49 for your first year, so for just over £4 a month, you will be able to reap all of the benefits including free delivery, no matter how much you are spending at Amazon.

For me this reinforces my opinion that physical media really is almost dead and buried but if you play the game wisely you could enjoy everything Amazon Prime has to offer and throw in Netflix too, all for just over £10 a month for a whole year, which makes think “Do I really need a £50+ a month Cable or Satellite subscription?

Movies, Books and Free Shipping? (more…)

Vulnerable Dropbox Attacked By Box Offering Users 50GB for Free

I cannot help but wonder if the days of the humble press release are over after a new marketing tactic seems to be emerging which basically involves holding onto that big announcement of shiny new features until your opponent has a bad day on Twitter and then strike like a cobra making the most of the opportunity.

It all started last Friday evening when the people behind Dropbox make the first IT Rookie mistake in change control when using the fatal words “routine server upgrade”.  Unfortunately, a bug installed this upgrade on several active servers, which brought down the entire service.

While they restored most functionality three hours later, some users continued experiencing issues throughout the weekend across dropbox.com, desktop client, and their mobile apps. Suddenly it was open season on Dropbox as angry Tweeters voiced their distain and it is at this point that things got very interesting.

Forget lengthy project plans that take 2 years to implement applications in business, in 2014 its survival of the fittest and the motto is “evolve or die” so whilst Dropbox were licking their wounds, their competitors made the most of this opportunity and suddenly Twitter was awash with alternative cloud storage alternatives.

However the special opportunist award goes to the quick thinking people at BOX, who already had something up their sleeve and seemed to release details of their new features at a very convenient time.

Box quickly announced a redesigned iOS application and new website getonecloud.com which will be offering a whopping 50gb storage for people signing up next month for a limited time which is significantly more than the default and now dated looking 2gb offered by Dropbox for people who missed the chance of signing up their friends and family for a cheeky extra 500 MB a few years ago.

I wonder how many other social media savvy businesses will have learned a valuable lesson from this story in early 2014. Essentially the modern world is not just about monitoring Twitter to see what your competitors are saying about your product but about playing very close attention to unhappy customers of your biggest rivals and trying to tempt them your way and making the most of their bad publicity.

Sure it sounds quite ruthless, but you can be sure that there will be a social media expert somewhere telling your competitor to do exactly the same to you. The trick is to be one step ahead of the game and not to rely on trundling along because online everyone is watching what everyone is doing before planning their next move.

A re-design and generous 50gb storage offer will be very tempting for some users and it will be interesting to see if this is successful and if we see similar tactics like this in the near future.

Paddle – The Quickest Way To Securely Pay Online And Mobile Web?

I think it’s fair to say that we have all embraced the world of online shopping for some time now and the convenience of ordering whatever your heart desires from the comfort of your armchair or even seat on the train home from work has become the norm.

However even online shopping can become frustrating and laborious, not to mention risky leaving your credit card details on a growing number of websites. Being asked questions such as “what’s your 3 digit security code?” when your wallet is upstairs in your bedroom or trying to remember dreaded extra security step “Verified by Visa” password is something that is frustrating for both customers and retailers who want to speed up the purchasing process.

Step forward Paddle the online and mobile payment application. Paddle allows merchants to accept payments via Paddle online and in applications and allows users to pay with Paddle, encrypting their credit card and delivery information in the cloud so they don’t have to enter it each time.

The Paddle API allows developers to access and integrate the functionality of Paddle with other applications. Some example API methods include adding Paddle buttons on sites and applications, accepting payments, and reviewing transactions.

Or in plain speaking terms, the application allows customers to purchase and pay with just a couple of clicks. Your card details are encrypted and stored in the cloud along with your delivery addresses so you’ll never have to type them in again, from a security aspect I would personally be happier that only one website has my card details store rather than 10-20 stores that I have purchased from online.

Paddle is currently in Beta phase and the key to its success will be largely down to how many big name stores it can sign up, but a world where a purchase can be completed in less than 10 seconds should be enough to convince most big stores that this could increase sales whilst also keeping their customers very happy so everyone wins.

Making online shopping easier by simply hitting the “Pay with Paddle” button is not all that this new application can do though, interestingly Marks & Spencer are currently running mobile payment trial of Paddle in store too.

Menus will be introduced in select M&S coffee shops compatible with new app Paddle, which allows users to pay by scanning a code with the phone’s camera. Customers will be able to choose and buy items from their table.

This is a very interesting time as many companies look to improve and capitalise on mobile payments, but this looks to be the most promising application so far due to its sheer simplicity. Will they get enough big brands on board for it to be a huge success? Only time will tell, but this is definitely one to watch.