Entries in technology (6)

Thursday
Apr252013

BBC HORIZON: THE AGE OF BIG DATA

This episode is about data mining, and using that information to predict trends across many facets of our society , and how this information will impact our lives.

I believe people need to think about the impact Big Data will have on academic institutions and children entering elementary school in the next few years. I expect schools will attempt to use the data collected from their early academic careers, perhaps even in the first few years of grade school, to dictate the academic needs of a generation before they even graduate from primary school.

Insert a few years of test scores, enter a collection of numerical variables to represent personality traits, and tally up a record of web searches, then run it through an algorithm to assign an academic path for a student. Therefore, allowing school administrators to figure out admission targets 15 years in the future, economists to workout the make up of the workforce in 20 years, and give political strategist a look at the future power base in 25 years.

Perhaps it will make things more efficient, but will students be unfairly assigned an academic future based on faulty assumptions and inadequate algorithms?

Wednesday
Feb132013

Guidelines: Email Etiquette

email-iconWhether you are sending an email to a friend, colleague, or customer, take an extra moment to ensure the email is confidential, professional, and relevant.

Keep these tips in mind when sending out an email.

Do not leave the subject line blank

For productivity enthusiasts, being able to quickly identify and reference a message or request is the key to prioritizing their action lists.

Therefore, subject lines are the easiest way to grab someone's attention, and allow them to either reply right away to the message or place it on an action list. Otherwise, your message may become unnoticed, unread, or worse deleted.

Moreover, in some professional settings, properly labeling an email demonstrates a good measure of due diligence. The type of subject line you use, or if you use them at all, can speak volumes about your attention to detail or the respect you give to other people's time.

Marking an email as urgent

There is an inherent risk when you label any message as urgent.

Today, most people are suffering from work overload and struggle to answer all the messages in their inbox without people making unnecessary demands on their time and attention. In marking your message urgent, you force someone to give special attention to your request and deviate from his or her action plan or schedule.

Be sure you need to mark something as urgent before you send it off. Ask yourself whether your message really deserves special attention, and whether this action with give you the results you want.

Reasons to send urgent requests:

  • You have a good working relationship with the recipient and you have established an understanding with the person about these types of messages.
  • You have sent multiple messages that have gone unanswered, and a hard deadline leaves you with little choice but to send an urgent message.
  • As a courtesy, if you are contacting someone's manager, supervisor, or the company's upper management about a client or account they are working on.
  • You work in an industry or office that demands a quick turnaround time and it is a common procedure to mark messages as high priority.

Nevertheless, even if you work in an environment where marking messages as urgent is a common occurrence, overusing urgent requests will ultimately result in the word urgent losing its impact to rush something along.

Ultimately, give people the same consideration that you would expect.

Consider a few things before you send out an important message:

  • If I were the recipient, will I consider this message urgent?
  • How is the recipient going to react to me marking this message as urgent?
  • Can I write a subject line that will get me a quick response without annoying the recipient?

A person's to do list is an important and delicate document. Showing disregard or disrespect to someone's time can increase a person's stress level and inhibit their productivity. Both of these circumstances can have a direct impact on your work and sustain a good relationship with coworkers.

Always keep privacy and confidentiality in mind when you send out a message

Because of the speed, convenience, and overuse of emails and instant messaging, people have become slack about properly reviewing a message before sending it out.

A lack of due diligence is dangerous when an email is sent to one recipient; but, it can be catastrophic when it is blasted out to multiple people.

Things to consider before you send out an email:

  • Before forwarding an email, review the message and consider if any of the content will be misunderstood, if seen out of context.
  • Scan a message for any proprietary information that can harm your company competitive standings.
  • Because a recipient may not want their contact information shared with a third party, decide whether you need to place all additional recipients in the BBC.
  • Protect your client list. Most times, the development of these lists is an expensive and or labour intensive effort. For some companies, releasing this type of information can sink their business.
  • Do not rush a response. If you are in the middle of another activity or your attention is elsewhere, you need to pause and take a moment to decide if a response can wait until you have a quiet moment to focus.
  • Place a disclosure notice in the email or subject line if you believe the information contained in the email is confidential and ask that the recipient treat the information as so.
  • Before sending off an email to a third party, ask the sender if they are comfortable with you taking this action.
  • Leaked emails can lead to the tarnishing of reputations, legal proceedings, and terminations. Remember; never write anything in an email that you would not be willing to say in person, over the phone, or in a paper letter.

Conclusion

In any company, office, or working relationships, there is always a chance peoples standards of professionalism might become lax.

Even if you are busy or your attention is split between multiple tasks, take a moment to properly review, format and edit any message before sending it out.

Thursday
Jun072012

Is Microsoft’s SmartGlass technology going to chip away at Digital Piracy?

SmartGlassThis article from the Washington Post offers a great overview of Microsoft’s introduction of its Smart Glass technology. The service will be accessible on the Xbox 360, Windows Phone, Windows 8 and IOS platform.

Smart Glass will allow customers to seamlessly share media between their home, PC, and mobile devices. Sharing content between different devices allows users to buy a movie or televisions show once, then have unlimited and uninhibited access to their purchases.

Led by Amazon, the music entertainment was pushed to remove long standing digital copyright restrictions that locked people’s music to a single eco-system. Apple’s Airplay, Microsoft’s Smart Glass and the popularity of Netflix signals a similar paradigm shift for video content.

Consequently, this move by content and device companies will counteract the rampant use of pirated material on the internet. Some people pirate material because they can, others are willing to pay for content, yet they choose to download pirated material because there are no restrictions on how and when they view it.

Tuesday
Aug232011

Subsonic: Your Very Own Personal Media Server

There are many commercial services that allow you to stream music over the internet. Yet, many of these services place limits on how you can access that music.

You negate these limitations when you stream music through Subsonic, an application that turns your computer into a personal media server.

Subsonic is an open source application that gives you full control in how your music collection is accessed over a home network and the internet.

Limitations of the cloud

We relinquish certain rights when we allow Cloud providers to be the gate keepers to our music collections.

Services like Google Music Beta and Amazon Cloud Music are hindered by the need to upload your personal collection to the host server. Furthermore, once it is uploaded, a degree of control passes from you, to the provider. Including a cap on the number of files you are allowed to upload and a limit on who can access your content.

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