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Gadget Ogling: Useful Smartwatches, Orbital Cameras, and an Un-Procrastinator
August 1, 2015
Dot is a smartwatch that may have life-changing implications. Rather than trying to convey information through tiny text on a small screen, Dot intends to provide visually impaired wearers with notifications through Braille. Four sets of the six dots that signify characters in the Braille system raise and lower as quickly as 100 times per second to denote four characters simultaneously.
Monitoring the Sales Metrics That Matter Most
July 30, 2015
I recently conducted a simple, one-question survey, using sales pros as my target audience. The question was idiotically simple: What is the most important metric for people in sales? In this era of big data, deep analysis and predictive analytics, you might have thought that some new, performance-based metric would have surfaced as the new secret weapon.
As Wireless Changes, So Must Marketing
July 30, 2015
We have just seen quarterly earnings reports from AT&T and Verizon, and they continue to grow at a healthy pace. Sprint and T-Mobile also have started to grow once again. However, the larger wireless marketplace is splitting into smaller segments. Understanding this is one of many keys to success for any wireless carrier going forward. The larger wireless marketplace is changing.
Consumers Fret Over Health Wearables Security
July 29, 2015
Collecting health and fitness data through wearable devices is raising concerns among consumers about the security of that information. Twenty-five percent of more than 3,500 consumers who participated in a recent survey did not believe their personal health data was safe on fitness trackers or in health-tracking apps, reported Healthline -- and that number could be low.
Salesforce's Lightning Announcement
July 29, 2015
Spreadsheets suffered a body blow on Tuesday, when Salesforce announced new platform functionality. Soon all spreadsheets will be good for is financial analysis. This sounds funny, because the spreadsheet for several decades has been the unofficial IT prototyping tool. Actually, it was the end-users' prototyping tool -- the default thing they used to capture data.
AI, Robotics Wonks Urge Autonomous Weapons Ban
July 28, 2015
Leading artificial intelligence and robotics experts have issued an open letter arguing against the development of autonomous weapons. Its publication coincides with the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence, which ends Friday in Buenos Aires. If any major military power pushes ahead with AI weapon development, a global arms race is "virtually inevitable," the letter says.
The Key to Apple Watch Success: Getting Enough Right the First Time
July 28, 2015
I still find wry joy in all the "Apple Watch Tanks" headlines from early July. There are some great gems, like "Apple Watch is a FLOP: Sales of the gadget have fallen by 90 percent since April, report claims" or "Analyst: Apple Watch selling worse than thought." Trouble is, the reports and estimates were based on a tiny slice of reality. In fact, Apple Watch sales in June exceeded April or May.
Major Tech Firms Join White House in Climate Change Pledge
July 28, 2015
President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, and other senior White House officials on Monday met with a group of executives who pledged their companies' support for the administration's efforts to reach a strong climate change agreement in Paris this December. Thirteen major companies, including Apple, Google and Microsoft, signed the American Business Act on Climate Change.
What To Do if Your Car Tries to Kill You
July 27, 2015
The scary news last week was that a couple of guys demonstrated they could hack into a Jeep and take control of it. Later, more details came out that suggested you might want to avoid Chrysler cars altogether. The industry appears to be waiting for the first major catastrophic accident before putting resources into fixing this problem at the proper level.
Citibank Dinged $700M for Scamming Credit Card Customers
July 27, 2015
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau last week ordered Citibank and its subsidiaries to pay about $700 million in relief to eligible consumers and a $35 million civil penalty for, in essence, scamming consumers into paying for unwanted credit card add-on products and services. This is the 10th action the bureau has undertaken against banks for deceiving consumers.
Gadget Ogling: Gritty Tablets, Wireless Storage Sticks, and Swapped-Out Speakers
July 25, 2015
Dell's Latitude 12 Rugged Tablet is designed for people who work in the field, for the military and explorers, for industrial work and first responders. This system can handle some harsh conditions, including temperatures between -20 and 145 degrees and drops from more than four feet, as well as spills, mud, dirt and sand. It boasts an 11.6-inch screen and fifth-generation Intel Core CPUs.
Apple Leaves Nest Thermostat Out in the Cold
July 24, 2015
Apple reportedly has pulled the Nest smart thermostat from both its online and brick-and-mortar stores, possibly paving the way for its own line of smart home appliances. The thermostat disappeared from Apple's product offerings earlier this month. Apple's stores now are selling the Ecobee 3, a thermostat that works with Apple's HomeKit, an Internet of Things platform that's part of iOS.
Stephen Hawking Kicks Off $100M Hunt for Alien Intelligence
July 24, 2015
Space fever seems to be catching on. Stephen Hawking and a group of other high-profile space scientists joined with Russian billionaire Yuri Milner this week to announce a new $100 million effort to search for intelligent alien life. The funding will go to the Breakthrough Initiatives' Breakthrough Listen program. Breakthrough Initiatives is a 10-year multidisciplinary effort.
Twitch Yanks Player Controls From Flash
July 24, 2015
Game-streaming service Twitch on Thursday joined Apple and other tech companies in swearing off its dependence on Adobe's Flash. The move away from Flash will happen in stages, but Twitch has promised its community that the gradual rollout will advance at a steady pace. Twitch began the transition to the more secure HTML5 and JavaScript by hybridizing its streaming video player.
OPM Director's Resignation Draws Mixed Reactions
July 23, 2015
The resignation of U.S. Office of Personnel Management Director Katherine Archuleta is drawing mixed reactions from the cybersecurity community. Archuleta's departure on July 10, in the wake of a massive data breach resulting in the theft of the personal information of more than 22 million people, is being characterized by security pros as everything from "necessary" to "unfair."
Can Jet Elevate the Shopping Club Experience?
July 23, 2015
Jet launched this week, and it could be part of a growing trend. Many people love the club retail shopping idea of Costco, BJ's and Sam's Club. Jet is a new e-commerce player offering a similar shopping experience. Will the online model be successful? The retail shopping club is one of America's success stories. Customers pay an annual fee to become members.
The Process/Platform Revolution
July 22, 2015
I've been looking at process as the next big thing in CRM for a while. It only makes sense, for several reasons. First, as we move to conducting increasing amounts of business online, we lose the intimacy of personal contact between vendor personnel and customers. In its place we need accurate and authentic processes that treat customers in ways they appreciate.
Are Your Spreadsheets Leaking Money?
July 21, 2015
We all use them. They're the default system for listing and tracking things. And no one -- except, maybe for that one weird guy in finance -- really likes them. I'm talking about spreadsheets. Whether it's Excel or Google Sheets or some other lesser-known variation on the theme, a lot of spreadsheets are created every year. There are at least 1 billion users of Excel in the world.
Leverage Big Data to Get Rid of Network Attackers
July 21, 2015
Up to 30 percent of their firms' security incidents this year should have been detected by perimeter security measures -- but weren't -- said 55 percent of respondents to a SANS Institute survey. The truth is that today's attackers have become skilled at bypassing conventional defenses, which no longer can be counted on to protect enterprise networks on their own.
DoJ: Firms Should Hire Cyber-Savvy Lawyers
July 20, 2015
Hardly a day goes by without a headline about a cyberintrusion. No entity is immune -- international retailers, airlines, hotels, mom and pop stores, cloud providers -- even the U.S. government. However, it seems that few businesses contemplate how important it is for their attorney to know and understand cybersecurity, as well as know what to do when a cyberintrusion occurs.
The Emperor Is Naked and We're All Idiots
July 20, 2015
An old fable keeps running through my mind about the scam artist who convinced an emperor that he had created clothing only smart people could see. Everyone says they see the clothing because they don't want to look stupid. Walking around in clothing stupid people can't see doesn't sound enticing anyway, but lately it has seemed clear to me that the folks reporting the news think we are idiots.
Gadget Ogling: An Amped-Up Smartphone, a Giant USB Charger and a Gun Detector
July 18, 2015
Marshall, best known for its guitar amplifiers and headphones, is moving into the smartphone market. Its first device, London, has dual front-facing speakers and a pair of audio outputs, making it easy to share what you're listening to with a friend who's also wearing headphones, assuming you're in a setting where you don't have the option of playing the audio over speakers.
Comcast Needs to Do More Than Stream
July 16, 2015
Comcast -- and in fact, the entire cable television industry -- is going through a time of incredible change. Cable companies used to grow year after year because there was no competition. However, today they are losing market share, so to help plug the hole, Comcast just introduced Stream, a new subscription streaming service. It offers Xfinity customers more choices for content consumption.
Meaningful Work and CRM
July 16, 2015
Having meaningful work is one of the biggest challenges for many people at the bottom of the employment ladder. In Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell documented the multigenerational effect. The children of people who had meaningful work turned out to be more successful and advanced further in their careers than children of people stuck in less-rewarding occupations.

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Is Microsoft starting to get cool again?
Yes - thanks to Satya Nadella's vision.
Yes - but only in certain areas, like AI and VR.
Maybe - it doesn't seem as stodgy as before.
No - it never was.