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What’s Going on With Those Funny Looking Modular Smartphones

If you’ve been paying attention to tech news for the last few days, then you’re probably scratching your head over the latest designs to grace Google’s line of Android smartphones. They look like a crazy art project, a blend between retro-futuristic design and De Stijl blocks. No, this isn’t some contest entry from an art student – it’s Google’s new foray into modular phones, starting with Project Ara. modular smartphone

Beyond Just Looks

These Frankenstein phones aren’t just characterized by a blocky aesthetic – the entire phone is actually built out of several miniature parts, which are essentially “plug and play.” Did your camera just break? Well, instead of replacing your entire phone, you can just swap the camera out for a new one. This concept was demonstrated at the Project Ara unveiling, when the phone was dropped. The screen cracked, but that wasn’t a big deal, since the display could easily be swapped within seconds.

Build Your Own Smartphone

The current smartphone market locks consumers into a certain amount of selections, made available by cellular carriers. Device upgrade options are traditionally limited to one new device every two years for a subsidized price. Google’s modular smartphone will challenge what we mean by a “new device,” because in theory you could keep swapping parts to upgrade your phone incrementally. It’ll be interesting to see how Project Ara challenges the current model of phone upgrades.

Modular phones will also challenge the way we think about phone warranties. Companies like Apple thrive on Genius Bar charges and iPhone upgrades, especially for the unfortunate people who haven’t invested in their AppleCare Plus warranties. IPhones have proprietary parts that are extremely difficult for DIY techies to fix on their own. When modular phones hit stores, repairing broken components might be as simple as plugging in a new piece.

Niche Markets

While it’ll be some time before modular phones become a part of everyday society, we might begin to see niche markets surface. Just take a look at the PC world: you’ve got hardware tailored for gaming, business, and casual use. We might begin to see a rise in specialty phones once modular components come out, with special features for gaming or business software solutions.

Modular, customizable phones will completely change the landscape of smartphone sales. Google’s Project Ara has the potential to disrupt current upgrade and warranty policies, while giving consumers greater control over their hardware. It’ll be very interesting to see how the cellular market shifts in preparation for modular phones.

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5 Reasons Why You Should Consider a Career in IT

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has some very promising news for prospective college students considering IT degrees and future careers. IT roles have career outlook rates that are much higher than the national average for all careers. Those exploring roles like computer and information systems management have a career outlook of 15% growth in the years before 2022. Those looking into computer systems analysis have a 25% career growth rate to look forward to. Many of these roles only require an undergraduate degree in technology, along with professional certification. Here are some of the main reasons why you should think about a future degree and career in IT.  IT

High Education ROI

The cost of college tuition is only getting higher, and students are taking out enormous loans to cover the cost of college. Careers that require graduate level degrees can make the burden even worse, causing students to become mired in debt. A degree in IT can quickly pay for itself, since employees in this field can make an average of $60,000 – $100,000 with just a bachelor’s degree.

Job Security

It is unlikely that our future job market will ever stop relying on IT professionals. Businesses are becoming increasingly data driven, and they need professionals to manage network operations, hardware, data storage, and security. If anything, there will be an increased demand for IT workers in the coming decades. Network systems and computer work is an industry that professionals can count on for steady growth.

Degree Flexibility

Due to the nature of the curricula, students can often find IT degree programs and training courses offered both online and on campus. Distance learning options are ideal for those who want to earn a degree around their work schedules and family commitments. Online courses can be accessed at any time of the day from any location, giving students ultimate schedule and area flexibility. And students who need some classroom face time can always select a college that uses blended format curricula or hosts classes exclusively on campus.

Countless Specializations

It is unlikely that you’ll ever get bored in tech industry. There are countless IT education opportunities for various business software solutions, networks, and cloud systems Those who take specialized education programs are more likely to be hired by employers who rely on these systems. Before you enter a job, make sure to carefully examine the systems they rely on.

Career outlooks for IT professionals are extremely favorable. These forecasts, combined with a high ROI on IT training make this a compelling field to enter. This is an excellent time to consider new training and career opportunities in technology.

 

 

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last update: December 22, 2014

Lifestyle:

Impulse Hack with Oreo

Break all the rules with Oreo and Starry Kitchen by hacking the Oreo cookie. Using common items from the corner store, a new dessert is born. Impulse is everything. Watch and have your mind blown. When you’ve put your mind back together, get more hacks by visiting oreo.tumblr.com.

Lifestyle:

Cell Phone Users Now Cause More than 25% of Car Accidents

Although drivers are continually reminded of the dangers of cell phone usage while driving, the numbers continue to rise. Presently, more than 25% of car accidents are attributable to a driver talking and texting on the phone.

Of the 25% cell phone-associated car accidents, only 5% happen as a result of the driver texting. Most crashes involve drivers who are distracted when talking on either a hand-held phone or a hands-free model. texting_and_driving

Texas A&M along with the National Safety Council cautions drivers that talking while driving on a phone can be more hazardous than texting. Therefore, using talk-to-text applications is not going to solve the problem.

Talking on a hands-free phone isn’t any better than texting

For the majority of phone-associated tasks, physically texting takes just a bit less time over the voice-to-text way. In any case, the performance of the driver was affected nearly the same during either task.

The country’s four largest cell phone service providers joined forces and launched the first-ever advertising campaign in support of no texting while driving in early 2013. These companies included Sprint, AT&T, Verizon Wireless, and T-Mobile.

The advertising campaign, “It Can Wait,” warned consumers against wrongly using their company’s devices.

Nevertheless, use of hands-free cell phones has become a huge factor in cell phone-associated distractions among drivers. Research conducted as early as 2009 showed that the performance of drivers using a hands-free cellphone was virtually no better in terms of safety than when a hand-held model was used.

In a recent National Safety Council report, the organization compiled a list of various tasks and rated them based on the impact they had on a driver’s mental capacity, using information gathered from a cognitive study. According to the cognitive distraction scale, talking while driving on a hand-held phone revealed a workload rating of 2.45, while talking and driving while using a hands-free phone indicated a workload rating of 2.27.

Using the same scale, the speech-to-text application had a workload rating of 3.06. According to the statistics listed on the National Safety Council’s website, so far this year there have been more than 245,000 cell phone-associated car crashes.

It’s all in the reaction time

Drivers who talk on cell phones while driving will have an increased reaction time, whether they operate a hands-free or hand-held model.

Based on data from 2011, the National Safety Council teamed up with Nationwide Insurance to generate the most accurate report on the number of fatal car accidents due to cell phone usage while driving. In 2011, there were 350 fatal car accidents involving cell phones.

The 2014 National Safety Council report revealed an increase in the percentage of drivers who were seen operating hand-held devices from 0.9% (2010) to 1.3% (2011).

It’s important to note that these percentages and statistics are not completely accurate, since many drivers are unwilling to admit to talking or texting while driving.

Today, 12 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and Puerto Rico have all passed laws that make talking or texting while driving illegal, as urged by the GHSA (Governors Highway Safety Association). All but five of the 43 states that banned driving and texting have actually enforced the law, which means a police officer can give a driver a ticket for texting regardless of any other potential traffic violations.

Gadgets:

HTC Battles Low Smartphone Sales

There was a time when HTC showed great promise in the smartphone sector, but those days are long gone. The company has been struggling to reach smartphone dominance, or even level the playing field. In 2014’s first quarter, “deep losses” have been reported for HTC even with the release of the newest gen flagship piece. HTC lost over $62 million, making this yet another disappointing quarter. No matter what it tries, HTC can’t seem to keep up with Samsung, Apple and other big smartphone developers. htc-one-m8

This is just the latest of embarrassing quarterly sales for the company with the latest HTC One falling flat. Hopes were high that the newest model would make strides in rebranding, but delays kept pushing back the release and may have caused doubt to grow in the market. Unfortunately, it was released at nearly the same time as the Samsung Galaxy S4 which dominated phone sales in that period.

No turning back?

The first time HTC reported an actual quarterly loss was in October 2013 with a $101 million loss. For comparison, Samsung reached a record-breaking sales high of $9.4 billion at the same time, largely in part to a beloved mobile inventory as well as memory chips. With such impressive technology on the market from the best snoring solutions to video games, the smartphone industry still makes up a huge sector but battles for top billing are leaving HTC in the dust.

Co-founder of HTC Cher Wang stated in February 2014 that the company’s issues were that “we only concentrated on our flagship. We missed a huge chunk of the mid-tier market.” However, even if that is the case, it might be too late to fix those mistakes. In 2013, HTC released the HTC One Mini as well as the One Max, but these two devices and even the gold HTC One weren’t enough to take on the competition. The mid-range options such as the Desire 700 dual sim, Desire 500 (not available in the US, and the Desire 601 also fell short of sales goals.

The definition of insanity

Even with Wang’s confession, HTC continues to focus on flagship devices with the release of the updated HTC One, the M8. It comes with a brushed metal exterior, 1080p Gorilla Glass, and a five-inch screen, which garnered great reviews from PCMag. However, it’s still rivaling Samsung, including the recently released Galaxy S5 which is already insanely popular.

You can try out the M8 from all four major carriers, with prices varying by provider. However, if you’re like many Americans, another release from a different company likely caught your eye already.

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How to Use Technology to Expand Your Online Presence

There are a variety of ways to draw more traffic and new readers to your website, depending on the technology you are using. Technology has made many industries more efficient, especially if yours relies on the Internet to run the business and generate income. social-media-button

Here are some essential points if you have an online presence and are looking to manage it in the most productive way. Whether you’re talking about a blog, a website, or a social media profile, making recent advances in technology work for you will help you become more productive and increase your overall reach.

Social media

If you have a blog or website, you should try to employ other avenues to increase traffic and awareness. Having a social media site, or even a variety of different sites, will enable potential clients to find you easily.

If you have a site on Facebook or Twitter, customers can follow you and like your content, so it keeps them in the know about whatever new stuff you may be working on. Using Instagram or Vine is a creative way to upload photos and videos, so you can interact with your followers more easily.

No matter what social media platform you use, your goal should be to divert traffic back to your main site. If you can do that, you’ll experience an increase in traffic that will help increase your placement in SEO.

SEO

Speaking of SEO, you may not be clear about why it’s so important. SEO refers to the strategies you can use to raise your rank when a person searches online for the things you do. You want go get your SEO ranking as high as possible, so people will easily find you online.

The higher your site appears in searches, the greater the chance that people who are not specifically looking for you will be directed to your page. SEO can be increased by your overall presence online –- social media platforms contribute to this — and you can also rely on companies that specialize in SEO to help you increase your presence.

The value and importance of SEO can hardly be overstated; it’s something your company should manage constantly to ensure success.

Online presence management

When it comes to SEO and social media, it’s important for you to manage all your content through the technology that’s available to you. Of course, you can use your computer to log in and see how your profiles and pages are doing when you’re at home, but you can also use mobile programs when you’re on the go in order to make sure you don’t miss a beat when managing your content.

The more you can stay on top of things with technology, the more your presence will grow. This means more recognition and more viewers, which will increase the revenue you can generate from your site.

Technology has cleary played a central role in the growth of online businesses. And if you make an effort to maximize your social media presence and SEO rankings, you can increase your power online as well.

Lifestyle:

Will Your Job Be Taken Over By Technology?

Technological advances have brought us a long way, and in a world of convenience and instant benefits or rewards, society has come to expect super-human results from many services. While some jobs require humans to do them, there are many that technology has already replaced. technology1

Many more will be replaced as technology becomes increasingly more advanced and affordable to the masses.

White-collar jobs at risk for replacement

It used to be that white-collar jobs were considered some of the most stable in the country. A few decades ago, they were high-paying office jobs that only a few educated people could fill after having spent years studying business, law, administration, marketing, etc., at a university.

However, partly because recent trends in computer programming have incorporated automated processes into the workplace, to perform such tasks as analyze paperwork, check for plagiarism, and store/find files, these once-affluent jobs are disappearing at an alarming pace.

Administrative assistant, secretarial, and other “middle-class” jobs are going

Twenty years ago offices functioned largely on a ground-up promotion model. A prospective employee would begin by applying for an administrative assistant position or a secretarial position, and perhaps even a job in the mailroom, with the hope that he or she could rise through the ranks of the office to a position of significance and power.

These largely middle-class jobs guaranteed a relatively stable income while also providing on-the-job training and potential for getting ahead. But in today’s business of appointment-reminding apps, computer file storage, e-mail, and e-docs, clerical jobs are being cut by the dozens by companies who are searching for ways to save money and downsize their staff while maintaining operations.

These jobs are seen as expendable by most businesses, and will no longer provide an especially secure employment opportunity.

Tasks performed by doctors will be replaced by technology

While there’s a higher level of stability in becoming a doctor, that may not be quite as true in the future. With the increased use of sensors, scanning systems, etc., diagnostics is becoming an increasingly tech-based and tech-managed process. It’s been estimated that 80 percent of medical tasks that doctors currently perform could be taken over by technology.

This could lead to less time being spent by physicians with each patient. This will allow the doctors to see more people during a shift, and therefore it’s likely that hospitals and other medical facilities will not need to hire as many doctors.

Blue collar jobs are as stable as ever

While technology has certainly helped our society develop better and more efficient ways to build buildings, rewire homes, or fix cars, these are all very specific construction specialties that require a substantial amount of manpower.

The craftsmanship and expertise required for each of these jobs ensures that workers who hone and perfect their trade should be steadily employed for as long as buildings need to be built, cars are being driven, plumbing needs fixing, and so on.

While a computer can read a thousand-page document in a matter of minutes, it’s not able to protect a house from water damage by installing a water-powered sump pump.

Social:

New Social Network Data Tells Marketers Where to Advertise

As businesses shift their advertising focus from static banner ads to mobile apps and social media, more research is going into finding out how customers respond to these new ad campaigns. While businesses can’t hope to reach their customer bases through traditional marketing alone, they can increase their advertising success by getting to know how customers interact with current platforms.

Social media is a company’s best tool for developing brand recognition with customers. Companies going through a rebranding process can use social media to inform people about upcoming changes and avoid a psychological and emotional backlash from customers who’ve been loyal for years.

Advertising through social media has a dark side, however. Along with the increased customer engagement and intimacy comes the possibility of misusing customer data. People who log into public forums, such as Facebook and Twitter, freely offer their demographic information and preferences when they create and use such accounts.

Fragmentation of social media means uneven advertising

A statistical index is needed to measure customer engagement with social media platforms and the amount of time they spend on each website. Forums such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and WhatsApp tend to occupy a customer’s attention to varying degrees and lengths of time.

Research firm BI Intelligence conducted a survey to measure customer engagement with various social media sites and the amount of time spent on each one. According to the survey:

  • Users spend almost four times as long on Facebook as its closest rival, Instagram

  • Users are more engaged with Facebook than with other platforms

  • Twitter attracts the next highest amount of users, followed by Snapchat and then WhatsApp

  • Users spend more time using social media websites than any other online communication platform, including email or instant messaging

  • More than half of social media users log into a mobile version of their favorite websites

Newcomers such as Tumblr and Pinterest plan to increase their audience engagement in the coming months. The new focus for social media is reaching users through multiple devices.

Social media outlets spread brand awareness

Recently, the German company Siemens AG rebranded itself as Unify after 165 years of existence. To ensure that loyal customers weren’t upset over the change, Siemens turned to Twitter and Facebook to address their concerns.

The marketing campaign raised average monthly Twitter impressions from 2 million to almost 37 million, and monthly Facebook views jumped from around 100,000 to almost 26 million. Along with all this social media activity came customer data in the form of demographic information and user preferences.

Data from Facebook comes at a cost for companies and users, however. Facebook sells user data to advertisers, and many customers have reacted angrily after learning that information about them and their online behavior has been used in advertising to their online friends and acquaintances.

Facebook’s enduring popularity means it can afford to sell data to advertisers. But companies have to be careful not to offend their customer base.

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