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Updated: New Year, New Tech Trends to Look out for

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It’s quite an exciting time to be alive now. With each year, technology just seems to grow faster. It was only some years ago when cellphones and smartphones were introduced and it seems a better, faster model comes out each year. If this is true, the same must also be happening for tech trends and how they are applied in business.

In the world of tech, it’s either you evolve or you’re left behind. Here now are some of the trendsexpected to become reality this year.

 

A Trillion Dollars

A Trillion Dollars - Updated: New Year, New Tech Trends to Look out for
The only mark that is left to surpass for most businesses is the trillion dollar mark. It isn’t as easy to make it as it is to spend it—ask government. Tech titans like Apple or Google—the Fortune 500 crowd—are predicted to make the breach sooner rather than later this year. The question to ask is who gets to the finish line first, so to speak? This marks a more powerful presence for these corporate giants.

 

A Powerful Computer

A Powerful Computer - Updated: New Year, New Tech Trends to Look out for
It has long been joked that 2018 and beyond will see the rise of AI powerful enough to pose a threat just like the fictional SkyNet did. While personal computers are displaying the growth of power in that sector, business supercomputers are predicted to have more computing power than they currently have. Expect people

 

Flying Cars

Flying Cars - Updated: New Year, New Tech Trends to Look out for
Electric, efficient cars have slowly made their mark on the general motoring scene in 2017. In 2018, it’s expected that the next leap will be to create the first flying car. Of course, new rules will have to be made as cars take to the skies, what with Dubai reported to be leading the race with the introduction of their alleged flying taxi service. Even now, competitors are testing out their models to see who takes the figurative and literal first leap.

 

Younger Politics

Younger Politics - Updated: New Year, New Tech Trends to Look out for
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took headlines as the face of a new generation leading the charge in taking important positions that shape global trends. While he isn’t the first to do so, he certainly won’t be the last. Business is also expected to grow younger—Mark Zuckerberg as the head of social media giant Facebook is only the beginning.

 

Dynamic Business Models

Dynamic Business Models - Updated: New Year, New Tech Trends to Look out for
The recent years have seen a trend pointing toward traditional platform-only business models becoming obsolete. The success of ride-sharing company Uber and Grab, for that matter, as well as AirBnB has seen to that. In the future, expect more companies to adapt to the changing of times—smarter, more efficient ways of business making may make their mark on the landscape as early as next month.

This is how business is shaping up. More efficient models mean more profit; more techsmean more money coming in. How business will look like in the coming years is still up in the air, but its progress surely is exciting to watch.

Old News: Marketing Strategies You Should give a Rest

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It’s 2018, and we are living in a time when most business strategies are new. However, some things remain that have worked for a lot of years. These have earned the right to still be used due to their effectiveness.

Then, there are those strategies that are so bad; they should be burned at the stake.

It’s 2018, and these things are still around. It’s time to bury them and leave them behind with the old year.

 

Nope: Old Ways of Creating Reviews

Old Ways of Creating Reviews - Old News: Marketing Strategies You Should give a Rest
When you’re buying something, you’d want to check out whether that product or service is worth buying. To do this, you’re going to take a look at reviews and what people say about the product. However, some scrupulous marketers have found a way to create fake reviews in a way of shameless self-promotion. This shouldn’t be around and, yet, it’s found a way to persist.

Nope: Blackhat Automation

Blackhat Automation - Old News: Marketing Strategies You Should give a Rest
In the old days, just about anyone with a computer and a few fancy words could create awareness about their website. By backlinking—or better yet, automated backlinking—they could divert attention back to their website with every little effort. The algorithms may have changed today to become stricter, but, back in the day, they were all over doing Black Hat tactics.

 

Nope: Keywords like there’s no Tomorrow

Keywords like theres no Tomorrow - Old News: Marketing Strategies You Should give a Rest
It’s just an eyesore. Even today, content persists that make no sense because keywords are just stuffed in there without thought to clear, concise writing. In today’s Google, content like this can still manage to pass through. However, people are attracted to content that flows naturally, not to content that looks like they’ve been forced. Learn to create natural, free-flowing articles.

 

Nope: Pinning Hope on Guest Posts

Pinning Hope on Guest Posts - Old News: Marketing Strategies You Should give a Rest
Requesting to post content on a blog—commonly known as guest posting—is like sending a message in a bottle. There are marketers who create entire letters and even hire teams to create those letters for them. This should just stop and, instead, you should focus on paying attention to what you write and to authority blogs in your niche. By working accurately, you learn to create authority yourself, and before you know it, they’ll be asking you to post a blog.

 

Nope: Not Automating

Not Automating - Old News: Marketing Strategies You Should give a Rest
Automation here means automation in the right areas. You should keep everything related to writing and producing quality content on manual. If, however, you need to post content, you should leave the promotion on sites like Facebook and Twitter to automation. It will take some load off your work and it would also give your readers time to read new content as they are made.

Another year means another new time to innovate. A lot of discoveries have been made, although some remain to be effective. Weeding out old strategies and trying out some new ones is the key for staying in the game.

you need a marketing plan 5331e4059d4d8 w1500 - Old News: Marketing Strategies You Should give a Rest
Infographic by: www.visual.com

Office Gadgets That Every Startup Should Have!

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image2 - Office Gadgets That Every Startup Should Have!

When starting a new business, you need the right tools to help you carry out your day-to-day activities. If you do not organize these activities well enough, running the business may become daunting and hard.

Therefore, it takes a lot of planning to make sure your business is headed in the right direction which will lead to success and the steady growth of your business.

Since it is a startup, you will need to purchase things like office furniture such as chairs and desks, and equipment and supplies that you will use each and every day to help you run your business smoothly.

There are gadgets every startup must have to give them a boost in the market. These gadgets help in reducing time wastage and in facilitating proper use of company resources.

If you want to make working easier for yourself and your employees, then you should buy these gadgets. Sometimes, most new business owners fear that they will spend all their capital in buying these gadgets and that may lead to their failure.

Therefore, you will find most offices are bare, with only a chair and a desk to their name. Let’s look at how these gadgets impact a startup and why you should strive to get them.

Notebooks and Tablets

Even if you have desktop and laptop computers in your office, having these two gadgets is very essential. You can use them to access your documents wherever you are and at any time of day.

You can even stay in touch with your employees at the comfort of your home and to stay up-to-date on the on goings of your business. Due to their size, you can carry them around which is more efficient. You can even send a common message to your employees using these gadgets concerning the operations of your business.

Therefore, these two gadgets help in saving the time that could be used in carrying out some activities without them. Also, they are very convenient and do not require a lot of maintenance.

Smartphones

These days, it is a requirement for everyone to have a smartphone. Smartphones help people stay connected from anywhere and at any time. Most startups give their employees smartphones to enable communication between them and their clients.

You should enable the use of certain applications such as Dropbox, where your employees can access shared documents using a similar account. Also, provide your employees’ contact information in case a client may want to reach out for an inquiry on a product you are selling. Using smartphones, all this is made easier.

Wireless Router

For you to use the gadgets above effectively, you will need to have them connected to the internet. Using a wireless router, the activities in the office will be done to completion without any hindrances.

Almost every task requires an internet connection. Whether it’s sending an email to a client or updating the file system of the computers or downloading the applications you will need.

Make sure you buy the best wireless router in the market for your office and you will see how this will improve your business.

The Cloud

For those who do not know what the cloud is, it is an unlimited online storage where you can store your files and access them. Most companies use hard drives to store their data and any other information they may use. However, hard drives eventually get filled up and they may even get lost.

This may lead to the loss of information that may be crucial to the running of a business. In the cloud, your information is always safe and you can update the information as often as you like.

You can easily back up all your information on the cloud and access it on your phone at the comfort of your home. Make sure you connect your file system to your cloud to make the operations of your business a lot easier.

Portable Printers

Most people never notice the role printers play in an office. Every startup should have one of the best portable printer in the market.

You will require documents such as application forms or inquiry forms for clients to fill. If you do not have a printer it will inconvenience the business operations. Also, your employees can print out different documents from the comfort of the office without having to outsource them from neighboring offices.

However, the best portable photo printers are a bit expensive. Therefore, budget your capital well enough to accommodate this gadget. It is worth every penny.

USB Hubs

When you need to transfer large amounts of data at the same time, you may require USB flash drives. However, as many as you may have, they may be required ever so often. Therefore, purchase USB hubs to be connected to every computer in the office.

They have multiple slots where you can connect your portable printer, your smartphone and even your router all at the same time. This will save a lot of time and ensure data transfer is efficiently completed.

Portable Projector

Sometimes, new opportunities present themselves at the most unexpected moments. Therefore, you have to be ready to present your business idea to budding investors.

You will need to have a portable projector which you can use anywhere even at home. This can be used by all of your employees as it is very easy to set up and to use. This will help you gain more business connections, therefore, grow your business.

There are so many more gadgets that a business will require but these are the most effective and useful. Therefore, every business owner should realize their potential and how these gadgets will impact the growth of your business.

Take these gadgets to be investments that will pay off eventually which means you have to be very patient and let your business grow. Research how major companies in the same line of your business, use their equipment to reap benefits.

The Benefits of Out-Sourcing Businesses Security

Universal commercial security 1024x731 620x315 - The Benefits of Out-Sourcing Businesses Security
                                                   

Universal commercial security 1024x731 - The Benefits of Out-Sourcing Businesses Security

Whether your business is a veteran with decades of industry experience or a tech start-up a few months into its conception, you could both easily benefit from out-sourcing your security needs to professional commercial security services. Even if you already have an in-house security team of your own.

Out-sourcing your businesses security might seem unnecessary if you already have an in-house team. You might even think the very idea is completely pointless. And if you’re a fresh-faced start-up you might be thinking hiring your own when you’re ready will be the better option.

But you’re both wrong and I’ll explain why commercial security services can be so beneficial to both veterans and start-ups alike. First let’s look at it from each perspective, shall we?

How Veteran Businesses Can Benefit!

If you’re a business that’s been around for a long time you might think you’ve seen it all and are prepared for everything. But the business world is always changing and it’s impossible to prepare for every possible threat when new ones are born every year.

That’s why hiring commercial security services can be so beneficial to veteran business because it allows you to get those experienced security professionals right away, in the meantime, you can focus on training your in-house team. With the peace of mind in knowing that you’ve hired a team ready to deal with everything in the meantime.

It’s a common misconception that hiring commercial security services is only going to be beneficial if you don’t already have an in-house team. You can easily utilise the benefits of both and you can out-source to commercial security services for many reasons.

To give one common example if you are hosting a business event you’ll need a greater security presence, won’t you? If your in-house team can’t fully cover the security needs, then you can always hire commercial security services and the two teams can work together. 

How New Start-Ups Can Benefit!

So, how can the humble start-up business benefit from out-sourcing their security needs to commercial security service providers? The best benefit is undoubtedly having immediate access to experienced, security guards and teams which can allow your business to grow at a much faster rate.

When you set-up your business you will have a lot of costs to cover and naturally won’t be able to get everything you need straightaway unless you have a lot of funds available to cover costs. This means you’ll have to prioritise and certain things will have just have to wait and unfortunately one of the things many people struggle to pay for straightaway is security.

You might be able to get some very basic things in place but that’s all which is why out-sourcing to a commercial security services team is so beneficial because you can get that invaluable, experienced security team right away. You’ll also have immediate access to customised commercial security for your start-up. 

So, you’ll only pay for what you need and when you actually need it whether it’s for monitoring and alarms, loss prevention or access control to name just a few of the service available. New start-ups are at risk to many things, but basic security doesn’t have to be one of them and by utilising commercial security services it doesn’t have to be.

Businesses In The Middle Can Benefit As Well! 

We always split businesses into two groups, don’t we? There’s the new start-ups and the experienced veterans, while these make up a big part of the business world there’s plenty of businesses in the middle that don’t fit into either group.

These middle-ground businesses can benefit from out-sourcing to commercial security service providers for many of the same reasons though. Even if you have an in-house team utilising the services of a commercial security provider can help you get access to more coverage.

This is incredibly useful for corporate business events or for getting security cover outside the usual 9 to 5 working hours. It will also just like with a start-up business allow your business to grow more efficiently and by covering your security needs by out-sourcing you can focus your efforts on growing and maintaining your business.

So, business or any size or shape can certainly benefit from utilising commercial security services in a variety of ways. Even if you already have your own in-house security team or security guards they can work alongside them and if you don’t then by out-sourcing you will get immediate access to highly trained, experienced security professionals.

Let’s Look At Some Key Benefits

So, now that I’ve talked about how businesses can benefit from using commercial security services let’s look at some of the key benefits in more details below.

Customisable Care

By hiring commercial security services you’ll only pay for what you actually need, for example, if your regular security team is undertaking training for a few weeks and you need professional security cover then you can use utilise commercial security services for just that.

Offers A Much Faster Alternative

Hiring even a small security team can take a long time which is why it’s often much faster to simply out-source to a commercial security services provider. You’ll get an experienced team of security professionals without needing to do any of the time-consuming work yourself.

Quality Ambassadors of Your Business

Just because any security guards/ professionals your get from a commercial security service provider aren’t technically your in-house team it doesn’t mean they aren’t a representative of your business. In fact, in many ways, they are just that and thanks to their experience and training you can be sure they will be ambassadors you can be proud of.

Complete Peace of Mind

The biggest benefit to utilising commercial security services is that it will give you complete peace of mind. Because you know you’ll be getting highly-trained security professionals to deal with all the day to day security needs of your business.

Whether you need them for a few months or simply for a few weeks by using commercial security services you can ensure your business is always protected.

Market Madness: What to expect from Marketing in 2018

Market Madness 620x315 - Market Madness: What to expect from Marketing in 2018
                                                   

Any follower of technological advances will feel grateful to be alive today. In this age, people are lucky enough to be given the chance to compare what we have today to the gadgets that were introduced all those years ago. The advancements that technology has experienced had its own self to thank for as well.

The rise in technology has also given birth to a surge in marketing techniques—particularly digital marketing. Take a look at what aid technology has given to marketing.

Improved AI// Are you using mass-product manufacturing in your business? Have you employed a lot of people to do this? In 2018, it is said that these people are in danger of losing their jobs. While today, some people are only required to operate machinery, as AI improves, the need for them is slowly being phased out too. A markedly-improved AI will attest to that.

Cloud computing// Businesses used to rely on processes that took weeks or even months to finish because information flowed rather slowly. As time passes by and we reach this year, cloud computing is set to take processes to even greater heights. What took months or weeks to finish can be done in just a few days or even a day thanks to real-time accomplishments through the cloud.

Automation// Even as AI is struggling to catch up to automation, it is already in play in most manufacturing companies. Businesses and day-to-day processes are already improved because of it. You can see it every day—on train stations, in product delivery systems, and even when doing data entry. The problem, however, is that this will ease out jobs that people used to do.

Thinking, learning machines// Machines have become much more reliable today than the clunky experimental ones before them. Today, with the advent of AI and connectivity, signals reach these machines even faster. Eventually, signals and people who control them will give way to complicated AI controlling the machines—AI that evolves, adapts, and takes in best practices.

E-Commerce// With cloud computing, it’s even easier for people to buy products and for services to sell theirs. The Internet has become a digital marketplace not only of ideas but of products as well. Amazon, eBay, and sellers similar to them have almost replaced brick-and-mortar stores as preferred places to buy items.

Who knows what else the future holds? We have no idea, but we can only speculate. One thing is for certain—technology is moving at a fast pace and businesses should adapt to that or risk getting left behind.

7 Great Benefits of Investing In HR Software

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the best hr software of 2018 qhsb - 7 Great Benefits of Investing In HR Software

In the past, when HR departments and personnel wanted digitised records of employees, the only option open to them was an on-site HR system that only a few people, HR admin staff members, had access to. Today though, things are lot easier and there are HR software for small businesses that exist in the cloud and that can be easily accessed by employees through their internet connection. This has considerably reduced the the obstructions in the way of adoption.

Interestingly, there are still a lot of businesses that manage their employees using a rudimental and fairly disorganised array of post-notes, documents and spreadsheets. With all of the above in mind then, given that you have two options open to you – go alone and do it the old fashioned way or invest in one of the modern cloud-based platforms. Why should you go with the latter though? We discuss 7 of the major benefits of using HR software below.

Administration Efficiency

If your workforce consists of more than a dozen or so people, it can be something of a nightmare trying to keep track of the most basic information about employees – specifically if you are relying on a paper-based, offline system. Very uncomplicated questions like ‘Can you give me a copy of the last three payslips I’ve received?’ and ‘How many of my allowed holidays have I actually taken so far?’ transform into issues that take up a lot of your time and effort. This is why many companies opt for HR software that lays all this information out in easy to use modules and areas.

Lowers Costs

Along with the not so tangible costs of productivity or efficiency, a good quality HR software platform will help lower your day to day expenditure. On average, there usually is at least one professional HR staff member to every 100 employees. When you implement some of the HR software solutions available at the moment, the ratio is increased to 1 professional HR individual for every 140 employees. This means that if your business employed 280 members of staff, you would need one less professional HR individual to manage the company’s employee data, meaning that you can reduce your outgoings by tens of thousands every year.

Information Access

Silos of information is what you essentially create when you rely too heavily on just documents and spreadsheets for keeping track of information about your employees. Although you have to pay close attention to the security and sensitivity of the data about your employees that you hold, when you make it accessible to specific people using a high quality, well-designed HR software platform, you give people the chance to make better use of the data held about your employees.

Informed Decisions and Data Analysis

When you start collecting data, it can help you to make better, more informed decisions as it opens up opportunities for analysis. Say for instance, you discover a department in your company has a much higher turnover rate of employees than other departments, you will obviously be intrigued as to why that was happening. Were all the leavers working at the same time under the same supervisor or line manager? Who was the individual in question? Could they benefit from a training session or two? Who are the top salespeople for your company and what are the characteristics that contribute to their success? Did they all start working for you at the same time and did they come from the same recruitment agency? Did they all work under the same supervisor or boss? Have they all went to the same training course?

When you collect data, the information can be used to help you make better decisions.

Communication Improvements

Directories of employees, often past and present, are included in the majority of HR software platforms. Although most employees work in the same teams with the same people and form close ties to them and are privy their contact details, there will be times when they need the guidance and advice from employees in other departments. If the information about contact details is only stored in an off-line filing cabinet which can  sow down your work quite a lot.

Mitigating Risk

When any kind of legal dispute is issued, how are you going to prove that a particular employee had the relevant training for using a specific piece of equipment or fully aware of the new policies? While many will use email, and this is a perfectly acceptable form of communication, for this kind of matter, an employee could easily just say they didn’t see the email.Interestingly, most modern HR platforms feature a facility for reading and accepting messages that can provide proof that not only was a specific employee sent a message, but that they also had read and therefore, accepted the the terms and contents of the message.

Disaster Recovery and Security

How secure is the personal data about your employees that you keep on record if it is held in a filing cabinet with a simple lock? Although the lock might show evidence of tampering if it was broken, what if someone had access to a key and gained unauthorised access to the information – how would you know?

Security is just one side of things though, because what if there was an accident like flooding or a fire and you are not able to get into the office for some time? Are your staff still going to receive their pay even if all the information pertaining to payroll is stored in a filing cabinet in the office? Most modern HR software solutions feature some kind of disaster recovery element and capabilities. This could be in the form of the HR platform being hosted by mirrored servers and keeping the backups of the database in different, secure locations so that the whole system can be put back in place in virtually no time at all, regardless of how bad the disaster is or was.

 

Technological Revolution: A Surge in Technology towards 2018

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Each year has been exciting for us. Fortunate enough to live in a time when advancements are being made by the day, we have seen how business decisions have changed because of technology; how computers and tech in general have evolved from being chunky to sleek; and how marketing has evolved because of new players.

Technology becomes even more amazing by the day. Here are a few pieces of tech that have become available through innovation and the forces of technology’s charge towards the future.

5G/ Right now, we have 4G as the highest wireless technology available. It is expected, however, that in the future, 5G will become the highest standard wireless connection. 5G was introduced in the CES 2018 and it claims that it will be a big benefit in today’s times, where wireless connections have become a big deal.

AI, Artificial Intelligence/ In 2017, the discussion for Artificial Intelligence and how big it will become in the coming years started. It was predicted that it would be playing a bigger role in automation and efficiency of work, where machines will inevitably replace humans in the workforce. It is expected that this year, the introduction of key processes—conversational ability and process explanation—will start.

Cryptocurrency/ As the revolution has already begun when Bitcoin and similar crypto-money like it had a big surge last year, it is expected that the surge will continue and will eventually stay level in a good value. There’s nothing suggesting it slowing down, although it won’t likely reach values as high as it did last year.

AR, Augmented Reality/ The age of the messages depicting Leia asking General Kenobi for help has finally arrived. This year, it is said that Augmented Reality will have a more important role in everything. From on-site depictions of buildings before they are finished to merchants peddling their wares, Augmented Reality is expected to permeate into everything that needs demonstration.

AI, Bots/ Before, bots were only used in games and pranks to automate doing such things. This year, along with the improvement of AI, bots are said to be part of it as well. The ways AI will take over redundant positions still manned by humans are the way bots will be introduced, like in airport announcements or receiving agents in customer service kiosks.

Smart Cities/ Taking the cake is, finally, smart cities, like in hyper-futuristic films. These smart cities will have everything automated and will also feature a strong inter-connection through a high-connectivity grid. Everything, from commuting to food deliveries, is expected to be made easier by this.

The future has definitely arrived. However, it’s still up to use what we make of the future that is constantly approaching. By applying tech as a force for good rather than to steal or undermine people, it will gain popularity as help rather than hindrance or threat.

 
workplace tech - Technological Revolution: A Surge in Technology towards 2018
Infographic by: www.cloudtweaks.com
 

Understanding The Different Audio File Formats Available

                                                   

how to play high res audio on iphone main thumb800 - Understanding The Different Audio File Formats Available

Most modern devices, whether it’s a smartphone, tablet, MP3 player or computer of some kind are able to play a wide range of digital formats, often immediately without having to go through any firmware or software updates. You may be amazed to learn just how many kinds of formats are out there though.

With this in mind, you might rightly wonder ‘what makes each format different and is it really that important?’ and ‘Does a music file’s format really matter?’

The basic answer to the second half of the first question and the second question is that it really depends.

There are some audio files that are uncompressed and some that are compressed, that can either have lossless or what is known as lossy quality.  Although they are far bigger in size, if you have sufficient storage space and use top quality audio equipment, there are many great benefits to using lossless or uncompressed audio files.

On the other hand, if space is not something you have much of, because you are using a portable MP3 player, tablet or smartphone, and only intend on using very basic level speakers and/or headphones; you probably will do just fine with compressed or lossy files.

How then do you decide which is for you from the plethora of modern and common file formats? In the following post we will discuss them, outline their characteristics and why you might want to start using them.

MP3

MP3 was designed by the organisation MPEG or Moving Pictures Experts Group. They develop video program and coded audio standards, and their MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 Layer 3 or MP3 is probably the most widely supported and commonly used audio file format.

This format is both lossy and compressed and has bit-rates in the 8 to 320 kbps range, with a 16 to 48 kHz sampling frequency range. Less space is used and files are transferred quicker when MP3s are smaller in size. However, the quick transfer speed and smaller size means there is a trade off in the quality of the audio, particularly in comparison to lossless formats.

AAC

AAC or Advanced Audio Coding, is a similar format to MP3 and commonly associated with iTunes. The one thing that it has over MP3 is that it is more efficient.  It is a lossy and compressed format, that has a 8 to 320 kbps bit-rate range, and an 8 to 96 kHz sampling frequency range. Although the higher end of that range is only possible with the appropriate encoding process.

With AAC, you can have the same quality of audio as MP3 without taking up as much space. Additionally, while MP3 can only handle two channels, AAC can handle as much as 48 channels at once. AAC can be used with anything from portable games consoles to Android and iOS devices.

WMA

WMA or Windows Media Audio is a format that Microsoft designed as competition for MP3. It is very similar to MP3, though a more proprietary format. While the basic WMA is lossy and compressed; modern versions featuring advanced and updated codecs are capable of providing lossless quality.

Although various entertainment systems and portable media devices are capable of supporting WMA files, there are not many tablets or smartphones that do. As many of these devices require a compatible app being downloaded before you can play WMA files, they are not as convenient as AAC or MP3 files.

FLAC

FLAC or Free Lossless Audio Codec was created by Xiph Org Foundation and is very popular due to its open source format and royalty-free licensing.

It is a lossless and compressed format, that offers high audio quality of 32 bit/96 kHz. To explain why those numbers are important, it’s worth highlighting at this point that 16 bit/44.1 kHz is a CD’s quality.

One of the major advantages offered by FLAC is a smaller sized file (around 30 to 40% than the original) but not at the expense of the sound quality. This is why it is one of the best options for digital archiving. In other words, using the FLAC format as the master copy of a file to create lossy/compressed files for day to day use.

ALAC

ALAC or Apple Lossless Audio Codec, as you might have guessed from the name, is Apple’s own version of the FLAC format. It is very similar to FLAC too – as it is a lossless and compressed format. Unlike FLAC however, which is often not directly compatible, ALAC is obviously supported by iTunes and other Apple iOS products. This means, if you own and use Apple products and are looking for a lossless and compressed format, you would be more likely to choose ALAC over FLAC.

WAV

WAV or Waveform Audio File Format is another that was designed by Microsoft and is a standard used in systems using Windows and compatible with a full range of different applications.

It is a lossless and uncompressed format (though it can be specially coded to be compressed) and is more or less a direct copy of its source. This file format is better used for audio editing and archiving, as files are considerably bigger than other formats. WAV files share similar qualities to AIFF and PCM, which are both discussed below.

AIFF

AIFF or Audio Interchange File Format is another Apple format, designed to be used by Macs for storing audio. It is a lossless and compressed file format, though there is a compressed version available. Similarly to WAV, individual files made from AIFF take up a large amount of space, which means it is best used for editing and archiving.

PCM

PCM or Pulse Code Modulation is mainly associated with CDs as it is the standard format used for them. However, it is also used in various digital audio apps and computers.

It is a lossless and uncompressed format, and often is used as a source that is reproduced in other formats.

We hope the above guide has given you a better understanding of what is out there in terms of audio file formats and which may suit your circumstances and needs better. Along with the above, another interesting tool you should be aware of is Audioham – free way to get MP3 from YouTube.

 

Consumer Tech: Technology for Mass Consumption in 2018

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If you’re reading this, then you might think of 2017 as a kind of ‘bridge year’ where technology has progressed. This year, however, it is expected that technology will finally make the leap toward becoming a reality. There are a lot of things that have been planned that will finally be seen.

As for consumer technology, here are a few things that you might soon see as a norm.

In-store, Field Management// robots are already among us, believe it or not. Among the first to use them in consumer applications is Wal-Mart. They are already using shelf-scanners to review and replenish inventory as they run out. Before we know it, robots may also be deployed to man POS machines as well as assisting in other chores, like manning traffic and assisting elderly and disabled people.

AR over VR// Virtual reality has been around through the years and it has been picking up steam recently. However, it’s augmented reality that’s taking the cake as the next technology to enjoy widespread application. Augmented reality is easier to use and set-up and it’s also an easier tech to understand.

Automated Customer Experience// Customer is king in most applications and that’s what customer experience is trying to cater to. With AI becoming more intelligent, it’s reported that customer experience will also become an intimate affair—customers will enjoy a personalized experience through the AI algorithm understanding their preferences through their clicks, likes, and sites visited.

The Internet of Things// If you told someone back in the 2000s that the Internet of Things will be a normal concept in 2018, they’d think it’s still a bit too early. However, it’s fast becoming a normal thing, and perhaps, it’s arrived way too early. IoT is still not as widespread as it should be but it’s quickly overcoming barriers.

eCommerce// Business will be done through recommendations and in 2018, it’s going to become even bigger. Apps like Alexa and others require voice-activation and use it to adjust to your likes through searches. Reportedly, voice retail will become a thing, with more and more businesses looking to cash in on the convenience of transacting through such a platform.

The way things are going and the way technology is becoming a needed thing in everyday life, we may be seeing more innovations arriving. Technology is truly fascinating and we are fortunate to be in a position to witness humanity create even more amazing stuff this year and beyond.

 

The other cryptocurrencies to watch in 2018

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Bitcoin – you can’t open a news app or tech blog without hearing about the world’s favourite digital currency – but what else is going on in the cryptocurrency world?

Well, quite a lot it actually – and while no other currency has seen the explosion in value that Bitcoin has during the last 18 months, that’s not to say Bitcoin is the only player to keep an eye on.

If you’re considering dipping into less familiar cryptocurrency waters, it pays to do you research – check out some write ups on potential brokers – like this review of the best cryptocurrency exchanges in 2018 – before you buy – and in the meantime, we’ll tell you a little about 5 ‘altcoin’ currencies that are showing significant promise and could represent the next big thing…

Ethereum

Even those who aren’t familiar with the nuances of cryptocurrency are increasingly likely to have heard about Ethereum – especially owing to how hard marketers have hit the social media channels trying to push their ether related services.

‘Ether’ – the name of Ethereum’s currency – is the second biggest digital currency behind Bitcoin and it’s fairly new on the scene, having launched in 2015. Ether is a little different to Bitcoin, in that it operates on an ‘if this, then that’ contractual basis. Let’s line it up next to Bitcoin to explain how that works:

You’re buying an ebook with Bitcoin, you send the private key to the person’s wallet and they send you the product.

You buy the same book with Ethereum and a contract could be generated, stipulating that when the funds are sent, the ebook is released – or alternatively, when the ebook is received the funds are released.

Although Bitcoin operates without ‘trust’ needed in the actual transaction, as soon as human’s become involved with any process beyond the actual money transfer, trust is again required. With a smart contract system, trust is removed.

  • Ether started 2017 at around £6/$8 and looks set to finish the year around £350/$470.

Zcash

Another newcomer to the crypro game, Zcash didn’t launch until late-2016 but is looking like a very promising contender going forward.

The currency focuses on security and privacy when compared to Bitcoin. Where Bitcoin operates on a public blockchain with every transaction that’s been made visible to anyone who looks, Zcash’s offers what they refer to ‘shielded’ transactions, where sender, recipient and the amount of the transfer are protected from view.

If increased security and anonymity are your thing – Zcash is worth a look…

  • Zcash started 2017 at around £37/$50 and looks set to end 2017 around £225/$300

Ripple

Ripple was launched in 2012 with the primary aim for allowing banks to facilitate and settle cross-boarder payments in real-time with “end-to-end” transparency.

The big difference when compared to Bitcoin and most other blockchain based cryptocurrencies comes when the currency is produced. Most cryptos rely on ‘mining’ – a sophisticated process of solving the mathematical problems that occur throughout the blockchain when transaction are taking place. With Bitcoin’s blockchain, miners are rewarded for this action with more Bitcoins – but Ripple is different.

Essentially, Ripple facilitates the transfer of other currencies and commodities with gateways – and through those gateways money is sent – or rather, not sent. The money doesn’t actually leave the gateway that it’s deposited into, but is still released by the recipient’s gateway. It’s an IOU system that works because each gateway trusts one another not to break the relationship.

Ripple is extremely flexible – because, as long as gateways trust one another, anything can be transmitted without it actually moving – in fact, it doesn’t even have to be the same currency that goes it as comes out. Money in, car out – etc. Ripple’s algorithms work to find trust between two sources and execute the transaction through that trusted channel.

  • Ripple started 2017 at just a tiny fraction of a dollar ($0.006) – and although the price vs. USD is still low – it’s significantly higher than it was at around $0.25 toward the end of 2017.

Dash

We’ve all been caught out with an internet or media fact that turns out to be nonsense – but there’s one about cryptocurrency that just won’t go away:

“Bitcoin is anonymous”

Well, it’s not – some understanding of the blockchain lets you know quite how false this actually is. However, there are calls for true financial anonymity – and Dash seems to be answering those calls. At it’s heart, Dash operates on a near identical blockchain to Bitcoin – but has the addition of quick transactions and transaction privacy.

Dash has been around since early 2014 – and was initially called ‘Darkcoin’. Its developers had big ideas for how Bitcoin could offer increased anonymity and speedier transfer times – but rather than approach Bitcoin, Dash’s founders decided to go it alone – as a result, they’re now one of the biggest altcoins out there…

  • At the start of 2017 Dash tipped the scales at £9/$12 – whereas in the closing months of 2017 it was sitting around £512/$690

Litecoin

Litecoin wasn’t far behind the launch of Bitcoin – coming to the market in 2011. In a lot of ways, Litecoin has always been seen as the smaller sibling of Bitcoin, operating with a very similar blockchain system but always at a much-reduced buy-in cost.

Like Bitcoin, Litecoin has a decentralised ledger system that’s the brainchild of an ex-Google engineer and uses a ‘mining’ proof-of-work system that doesn’t require the huge processing power and energy consumption of Bitcoin.

As a result of this less intensive ‘mining’ process, blocks in the chain are generated much more quickly vs. Bitcoin and therefore Litecoin’s transaction confirmation times are greatly reduced. Litecoin is an increasing favourite with merchants and online developers owing to this quick turn-around…

  • Litecoin was worth around £3/$4 at the beginning of 2017 – and is now at an impressive £60/$80 toward the end of 2017

Remember…

There are a lot of cryptos out there that look great – but, as with any investment, the prior performance of cryptocurrencies doesn’t reflect their future performance – so don’t invest money you can’t afford to lose – and seek as much professional information about your chosen currency before you go empty your wallet of traditional cash…