In the USA, Target has 100 million customers. Each is assigned a unique identification number, allowing Target to track their purchases and tempt them with targeted advertisements. For Target this kind of Big Data / Data Mining is a marketing success. For others Target's intrusion is part of a larger failing to protect privacy.
Government have unprecedented knowledge of the details of our daily lives, while we know little to nothing about how they use this knowledge to influence the important decisions that we - and they - make. Communities are powerless to prevent companies from collecting data about us, and how easily the information can be abused.
What we need is Digital Self-Protection or Cyber-Hygiene that randomly relays deeply-encrypted data through millions of decryption nodes to prevent eavesdropping.
Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (electronic cash system) aren't easily understood, a problem that has contributed to their questionable reputation. We need to explain the technology to the uninitiated, and make a case for it to shift the control of money and information away from the powerful elites and deliver it to the people to whom it belongs. There is a danger cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin could be used to hide money from tax authorities and further undermine public finances.
Currently, there is about 5 million Bitcoin accounts globally. We only need one currency globally - so this would save a fortune in government currency printing. It would also make the movement of money more efficient and curb the power of banks and government and free people from centralized trust. This would also reduce crime helping the police. The time for the electronic cash wallet is coming ever closer.
Could this new cash system mean a decentralised computer network (The Internet) with no trusted third party so that transactions would take place without the government or bank knowing. Everyone would need to be kept honest so that nobody would spent money they didnt have. All credit and debit would be tracked in an open ledger called "blockchain". Transactions between accounts would be known to everyone, only the account holders would remain anonymous. This is similar to storing you organisations information in the Cloud.
We live in the digital data age. Everything from the goods and services we buy to the way we interact with our friends and colleagues have been transformed almost beyond recognition. Our physical world is also affected. CCTV systems see our every step, mobile phones report our physical location, smart devices and networked sensors effectively digitally capture the physical world we inhabit.
Data, contains information of value. Often business intelligence and insights are locked within the data. Data needs to be refined to create this information.
Big Data refers to tools, processes and procedures allowing the creation, manipulation and management of very large amounts of data. However, the size is only one of the characteristics of Big Data. Over the last few years analysts and technologists have sought greater insight. Big Data can be split into Volume, Velocity and Variety; and requires validation software to mine the value from the information. Information that has the ability to tell us things we never knew before and help us make better and more informed decisions.
To mine the value from the data you need to gather it, validate and change the data (quality assurance), analyse it, and finally report it on a software dashboard.
Apple has recently revealed the first new product to be developed under CEO Tim Cook - a smartwatch wirelessly tethered to the iPhone that can receive phone calls and messages, play music, serve as a digital wallet and monitor heart rates via special sensors.
The move into the wearables market follows rivals Samsung, which launched its smartwatch last year, and Google, which has introduced its Glass headset and the Android Wear smartwatches.
Google Glass is like the Google car that drove around to take pictures of your house. Most people got a nice view on StreetView as a result of Google Maps. Anywhere you go within range of a Google Glass device, everything you do could be recorded and uploaded to Google's Cloud; and stored there for the rest of your life. You won't know if you're being recorded or not; and even if you do, you'll have no way to stop it. The experience of being a citizien, in public, is about to change.
The Apple smartwatch touchscreen has a curved Retina display, which can sense the amount of force used when tapping it, while the digital crown (dial) can be used to move through the interface, as turning it allows users to scroll through lists or zoom in and out of images and maps.
Users can customise the smartwatch interface with their own choice of Apps, and Apple has also confirmed that a software development kit for the device will be made available shortly.
The device also has health and wellbeing Apps; Fitness and Workout, which combine with the Apple watch's pulse sensor and the Health App in the new iOS8 (Apple Operating System) for iPhones.
The watch also featues inductive wireless charging with a corded transmitter that snaps magnetically on to the back of the device. Apple confirm the cost at around £300 in the UK for entry-level versions and would go on sale in 2015.
A refurbished PC/Laptop/Tablet and a year's broadband for just £1.75 a month? That's the cracking offer being offered by the GetOnline@Mobile Office initiative. The cost of Internet access is one of the biggest barriers to web access, so this incredible offer will help transform the lives of those that are currently missing out. Being online is more vital than ever - without it, people are missing out on jobs, shopping deals, online savings and essential government services.
The aim is to help digitally-excluded UK get online. They include 6.4 million aged 15 and over who do not use the Internet, some 9.5 million who still don't have basic online skills, and 500,000 of the most disadvantaged UK schoolchildren who do not have mobile Internet access.
Under the deal - until 28 February - you must sign up for a minimum 12-month broadband contract. For that GetOnline@Mobile Office will provide a free refurbished PC/Laptop/Tablet when you choose from a selection of broadband deals from UK providers, with prices starting from £1.75 per month.
The offer is possible thanks to: Microsoft for supplying the software; broadband comparison experts Simplifydigital providing the range of broadband deals; and Stone, Sims Lifecycle Services, Computer Recyclers and Ecosystems IT providing the hardware.
Visit www.getonlineathome for further details.
Surfing is about catching waves and riding them, it's about timing and skill, it's about improvisation and intuition while moving fast over water, moving fast with the wave. In surfing you need to be bold, fast, and flexible to catch the wave. You need to spot the wave, you need to get on it and you need to ride it.
Entrepreneurialism is about catching opportunities and riding trends, it's about timing and skill, it's about improvisation and intuition while moving fast over a changing environment. It's about taking action. The action is to jump in the water, stand up on your surfboard and stay on top of it. The long-term objective is to ride a big wave and innovate and add value to your projects.
New ventures are risky, there is uncertainty, all kinds of things do not go according to plan. There are all kinds of risks and what you have done by designing a "surfboard" business is put in place a design that has lower risk of failure.
How do we design virtual projects for customers, that lower risk and create local and global impact? A good business model is to be involved in at least three projects at any point in time; one you are exiting, one you are ramping up and one you are seeding.
The key for our company is in the design of the business you put in place, the surfboard you are going to ride. Ask the question: "Can I ride my surfboard on this wave of opportunity?".
Surfing is about action. Surfing is about rhythm, timing and flow. It takes a lot of skill and when you are at it it's way too fast to do much thinking, you have to use your intuition. You need to pick the right wave, right spot with the right momentum.
If you want to go fast you need a fast surfboard. If you need your surfboard to make fast turns yet be stable you need a sharp tip and special fins. To be a good surfer you need passion for the buzz of riding a wave, love a challenge, and be in good shape.
The five key design principles for your surfboard business are:
1) Establish a compelling winning vision/presentation.
2) Make your service a knowledge asset.
3) Leverage a lean organisation (virtual company).
4) Go to market via partners.
5) Build and manage several pipeline services.
Feel free to add your comments. Have a great ride!
For lot's of fun see Scottish Windfest. www.scottishwindfest.com
See www.nextwaveit.biz for further details.
Creativity and flexibility is key to organisations that want to thrive in tough times.
Employees are evolving. There are distinct differences between the way that younger people work compared with previous generations.
The new breed of knowledge workers, many of whom have grown up knowing only a web-enabled world, see fewer distinctions between public and private, office and home, work and play. Seemingly grafted to their smartphones and tablets, business communications mix with casual gossip over virtual networks and social media. Impatient with anything that smacks of old-school, and with expectations of continuous technological improvement and enhanced convenience, this is the generation that brings smartphones and tablets to work and wants to do things its way.
For business to evolve too, this next wave of change needs to be embraced. Who's ready to surf on the crest of the wave that will change the way we all work forever?
The environment that has nurtured this new generation is a disruptive one. Disruption often has a paralysing effect on business leaders, who are sometimes more intent on maintaining the status quo than fostering innovation. But it is exactly in such times that real competition emerges.
It is clear that the future belongs to the rapid adapters, to those organisations flexible enough to take on the new opportunities presented by the Internet by tapping into the dynamism and creativity of the new breed of knowledge worker.
Fundamental to increasing business flexibility is agile technology. Here, cloud computing can help. By moving applications and storage into the cloud where they can be accessed and shared from a variety of mobile devices, new lines of communication and collaboration can be quickly establised.
Key to embracing this revolution is software that both supports the existing business and allows it to flexibly change, to take advantage of the cloud without being bound to it. Functionality should be delivered seamlessly and reliably across a range of mobile devices whether the application is hosted on premise or in the cloud.
Businesses should be offered maximum choice and efficiency, flexible licencing terms, and SLA's quaranteeing that data and Apps are secure and that help is at hand to get them up and running. Put simply, businesses want software that will support their evolution to a more flexible, responsive, and forward-looking organisation.
Microsoft Office 365 enables deployment of the familiar Microsoft Office suite across almost all the mobile devices your employees use, ensuring rapid take-up with the minimum of training and disruption. It means providing tools that are both simple to learn, tools that can be extended to meet future needs.
NextWave.IT Ltd aim is to work smarter by running our business from anywhere, anytime on any mobile device, with the use of mobile and cloud computing. Mobility makes all previous applications more valuable by virtue of its perpetual nature, accessibility (wireless networks), usability (Apps), and availability (lower costs).
In a changing world, organisations must face up to the future and respond to these new opportunities and working practises to remain competitive. Change is like a wave. Are you riding the wave, getting pummelled by it or standing on the beach?
Director, NextWave.IT Limited
See www.nextwaveit.biz for our IT Services
Software that delegates tricky problems to human workers is changing the nature of crowdsourcing.
AutoMan is the first fully automatic system that can delegate tasks to human workers via crowdsourcing platforms such as Amazon Mechanical Turk. Artifical intelligence is improving all the time, but computers still struggle to complete tasks that are easy for us. To get round this, people can post such tasks on platforms like Mechanical Turk for others to complete. We think of it as a new kind of computing. It changes the kind of things you can do.
AutoMan can send out jobs, manage workers, accept or reject work and make payments. You're replacing people's managers with a computer. The quality quarantee is the most important contribution of the work. Unlike existing crowdsourcing platforms, AutoMan doesn't attempt to predict the reliability of its workers based on their previous performance. Instead, if it is not sure it has the correct answer, it keeps on posting the same job, upping the fee each time, until it is confident that the task can be done.
One way to think about it is that it saves the interesting parts, the creative parts, or the fun parts for people. You have the computer doing the grunt work.
AutoMan could be used by developers of apps like VizWiz, in which blind people take a photo of their surroundings and receive a description of the scene. The app sends the photos to the crowdworkers, choosing the correct descriptions and sending them back to the app's user.
Human labour doesn't come free. AutoMan will be given a budget by the app developer and be programmed to keep costs down. Quicker or higher quality responses will cost more but AutoMan will manage all of this automatically. Anyone using such hybrid software wouldn't know whether they were interacting with a machine or crowdworkers or both.
So how do Mechanical Turk workers feel about being directly employed by a computer? Feedback received has been positive so far. When a manager rejects your work, it can feel personal or unfair. But that's not the case with AutoMan. Any developer could pick up on this and improve it. Hybrid software such as Soylent, a word processor uses crowdworkers to edit text. Royal Bank of Scotland is introducing www.bizcrowd.com for it's businesses.
It is hoped crowdsourcing software, with delegating tasks and jobs to crowdworker's everywhere, will become mainstream around the world. AutoMan might even help grow a new class of jobs that could become a new sector of the world economy.
Mark Bower, Director, NextWave.IT Limited
Microsoft has released the consumer preview of Windows 8, bringing the next generation operating system closer to reality. Windows 8 embraces "touch" technology with its Metro user interface which is similar to the Windows Phone 7 interface.
The Windows 8 UK release date is likely to be at the end of the year, around October or November 2012.
When you first boot up Windows 8 and the new Start screen comes into focus you will experience a whole new world of computing - there is no start button for a start.
There are new ways of switching between Apps (applications), as well as more updates to the desktop tools. There are changes to file copying, power management, security, networking, hardware support and more.
Then there are the first real Metro Apps. You can visit the Windows Store and discover the first real third-party Apps like on the iPhone. Microsoft is not supporting tablets built to run Android or WebOS.
The Metro interface lets you pin your email, photos, appointments and friends to it, which livens the interface up considerably.
The improved touch gestures also make it far easier to work with. Swipe from the right edge of the screen and you get the redesigned charm bar. Swipe up from the bottom on the Start screen to get a quick link to the All Apps view. The semantic zoom feature works by pinching to shrink the tiles on the Start screen to tiny thumbnails so you can see everything at once. You should also explore the Switch List. You can close Metro Apps by dragging down from the top of the screen until the App shrinks down to a thumbnail, and keep dragging that off the screen to close it.
The basic tools you'll need for everyday computing include email, calendars, contacts, messaging, photos and social networking. Microsoft intend to include the desktop SkyDrive App for cloud backup of documents and a Microsoft Reader PDF viewer. Your documents on SkyDrive open in the Office Web Apps in Metro IE (Internet Explorer) rather than directly in the SkyDrive App.There are also Bing Maps, weather, finance, music, video catalogues by Zune HD, and Windows Media Centre.
The Xbox Live Games App will look familiar to both Xbox and Windows Phone users. With the Xbox Controller you see what you can do on the Xbox screen, and can touch areas directly.
Scrolling and zooming is better in the updated IE 10 . You can double tap to zoom on the part of a page you're interested in.
Windows 8 does an excellent job of making an interface that was not designed for touch work with your fingers. You can use a touch screen or a mouse and keyboard. The question is how well Windows 8 can compete with Apples iOS.
With concerns about the economic climate as well as the global climate, companies are taking a hard look at costs and the environmental impact of their business processes. This requires new supply chain and service customers management. It is imperative that virtual teams collaborate with organisations to save money and time.
United communications and a healthy planet go hand in hand. By allowing workers to meet anywhere and anytime, connect, and collaborate without having to be physically in the same place, united communications reduce costs and carbon impact through less business travel, telephony and office space. It gives the workers the flexibility to access people and information they need; whether they're on the other side of town, the country, or the world. The results are positive for the planet.
United communications integrates key business communication solutions into a single easy-to-use interface. This includes: secure, mobile e-mail, calendaring, voice mail, instant messaging, voice communications, web conferencing, presence availability, and document sharing.
It's a new world of work. The nature of the workplace, and of work itself, is fundamentally changing as organisations free their workers to be productive from anywhere, anytime. Those that capitalise on the new world of work build better work environments for their workers, while slashing carbon footprints and the expenses that come with unnecessary resource use.
Reducing the need for fixed office spaces and enabling virtual meetings slash travel overhead and carbon output, as well as expenses for assets and energy for heating and cooling. Telework and flexiwork initiatives reduce the time spent commuting and traveling, making them a key strategy for recruitment and retention as they reduce miles driven on congested roads and the resulting emissions that pollute the quality of our air.
Mark Bower, Director, NextWave.IT Limited, IT Consultancy and Support.
Few organisations currently run virtual desktop PCs within their IT infrastructure, but that is about to change. Virtualised desktops currently represent just 1% of PCs worldwide, with VMware View accounting for an estimated one million and Citrix XenDesktop about 850,000 and Microsoft Application Virtualisation (App-V) now starting to pick up customers as well.
IT departments might choose 2011 to make the move to virtual desktop PCs because it is expected to mark the release of the first service pack for Windows 7, which will prompt many to think about upgrading their hardware and operating systems. Companys have not upgraded their desktop operating systems since 2003/2004, with most running XP rather than Vista.
Many are considering either the traditional upgrade path to Windows 7 or using desktop virtualisation to give them an opportunity to develop their systems in a completely different way which provides more flexibility for end users and the readiness to make more use of cloud computing if and when they need it.
Some councils, universities, and police forces are embarking on an 18-month programme to virtualise the vast majority of its computing infrastructure, including servers, desktop PCs and storage. It is a greenfield implementation, where the existing desktop infrastructure is at end of life and we are not keeping too much of it. They are keen to keep the desktop to an absolutely minimum build and get applications centrally provisioned. The council can stream applications such as Microsoft Office and Corelogic's Framework case management system for adult social care to Citrix thin-client terminals running XenDesktop, which are easier to manage and maintain.
The biggest benefits of desktop virtualisation are faster desktop deployment, device and location flexibility, energy savings, data security and access control. Application testing, rollout, updating and patching is a time consuming task on desktop Pcs. Data storage is centralised on datacentre servers rather than on user desktops, making it easier to manage and backup for disaster recovery purposes. Applications are streamed to local desktops, but a local version of Microsoft Office, Email, and Adobe Reader are kept on the desktop PC just in case the network connection goes down.
Energy savings can be achieved by replacing larger desktop systems with low-power thin-client devices, either to reduce their carbon footprint, or to meet more more stringent power and space requirements in new premises. A thin-client desktop PC uses about 30W's of power compared to 300W's for a desktop PC.
Desktop virtualisation software also offers more flexibilty in allowing access to virtual systems and applications from a variety of mobile devices that provides for flexible and more modern working practises. Users are able to log into any PC or mobile device in any location rather than have their own PC on their desk. It does not necessarily represent a cheaper alternative to running desktop PCs.
IT Consultancy and Support