Author: nickyates (Page 1 of 2)

Microchips in Employees

The idea of getting microchips installed into your body is one of those very popular tropes of dystopian science fiction.  Yet as people have been installing them in their dogs for a long time now, at Wisconsin-based Three Square Market, employees are going to get them installed into their hands.  These microchips will allow them to enter the office, log into computers, and even purchase snacks, with nothing more than the swipe of a hand.  The microchip in question is about the size of a rice grain, uses RFID (radio frequency identification) technology, and is placed between the thumb and forefinger.  

Three Square Market CEO Todd Westby insists that the microchip isn’t a GPS, and does not allow for tracking workers.  Since it’s encrypted, there’s nothing to hack in it, and since it’s not connected to the Internet, the chances of being able to hack in it are nonexistent.  You would need to chop off somebody’s hand to get connectivity.  The chips cost about $300, and in August will be installed by licensed piercers.  The chip can also be easily removed, as if taking out a splinter.  While it’s exciting, the move has met with criticism, with people warning of the dangers of storing, using, and protecting workers’ information with such methods.  

Indeed, plenty of plans start out well-intentioned, yet those intentions turn, or the situation gets out of control.  One critic, CyberScout founder Adam Levin, pointed out that humans have survived without microchips for thousands of years.  But at the same time, humans survived without electricity for millions of years.  So I don’t know if that’s a great argument.  The company BioHax, who created the microchip, have argued that implanting people, scary as that sounds written out loud, was the next step for electronics.  

Are Video Games Good For You?

Remember when your parents used to say that video games were bad for you and would make your brain rot?  Well, it turns out that they might be wrong.  While the effectiveness of “brain-training” games has been controversial, a growing number of scientists have presented evidence that cognitive-training regimens can significantly improve cognitive function.  And one Boston-based company, Akili, has been exploring this themselves.  With the core technology of UC San Francisco’s Neuroscape lab, they’ve developed a mobile game called “Project: EVO”, which they hope to use as a prescription-based video game to treat children with ADHD.  

To validate the game in a way that other brain-training companies haven’t, Akili has gone through all of the trials and processes required by the FDA for any kind of medical device.  It’s currently in phase III clinical trials.  If successful, it will be the first prescription-based video game in the US, creating an entirely new category of digital medicine in the process.  The thought of such an idea is truly amazing, especially as you consider that video games are a field that’s drawn plenty of criticism despite its relatively young age for everything from excessive violence to being too addictive.

Akili is well aware of the controversy surrounding video games, particularly the brain-training ones.  Nonetheless, they’ve pointed out that their efforts are different by reaching beyond simple gamified exercises to create an immersive video game experience by integrating both cognitive challenges and physical movement.  It’s still in its infancy, but Akili is clearly doing something both unique and exciting.  I don’t know how I feel about prescription video games, but I’m eager to see where it goes.  

Paint’s Brush With Cancellation

When Microsoft suggested that it would “deprecate” their app Paint and remove it from future versions of Windows, the Internet responded with fury and nostalgia.  However, Microsoft has made it clear that Paint, a mainstay of Windows for 32 years, will be sticking around, but not in the same form.  It will instead be taken out of the operating system and put in the app store, then be partially replaced by a new app called Paint 3D.  To use Paint, users will have to go into the Windows app store and download it for free.  

The outpour of nostalgia around Paint potentially getting removed was pretty amazing.  The announcement that Microsoft would not be getting rid of Paint was seen as a way of “setting the record straight”.  However, it isn’t clear if that’s actually the case, or if Microsoft was simply trying to deflect the digital ire of potentially shutting down Paint.  Windows users might want to use Paint 3D, which comes bundled with the Creators Update to Windows 10.  This offers many of Paint’s old features, as well as new ones that will be added on in time.  In addition to these new 3D capabilities, many of the features that have earned Paint fame over the years will be added in as well.  

I can’t help but wonder if this was actually a marketing ploy.  Microsoft Pain was fun, but at the same time, there’s not much that you could do with it, and most things made on Microsoft Paint looked pretty crude.  However, it’s something that a lot of people who are now at the age to buy their own computers grew up using, and while most of them probably hadn’t used it in years, now that they know that it was really close to being shut down, they’re going to be more likely to use and download the new Paint app.  

4 Ways to Build Your Brand with Social Media

If you have a new business, you probably already know you need an online presence. Savvy business owners are almost guaranteed to maintain at least a formal business website, a facebook page, and a twitter. You don’t need anyone to tell you that social media is important to your business. But you may not know how to best use social media to push your platform. Here are some tips:

  1. Customize to the platform: Posting the same thing to every platform you have is only going to be so effective. Most of the most popular platforms allow you to post a huge variety of content–videos, pictures, text, links, and so forth. But some platforms are better suited to certain types of content than others. For instance, an individual photo is great for a Facebook post, but if you’re posting a lot of pictures, an Instagram account might be better. For succinct, in-the-moment reactions, post to Twitter, but if you have a lot of thoughts that you would like to share in a less ephemeral way, establish a blog. This way, the information that you want to get out will get out effectively, and people following you on multiple platforms won’t get spammed by the same status over and over again.
  2. Be active: There’s no point creating a platform if you’re not going to post on it. First of all, inactive platforms will not get very good search results, so casual browsers will be less likely to pick you up. Second, even people who do find you are less likely to follow you if they see you haven’t posted anything recently. After all, what’s the point of following an inactive account?
  3. Engage: Social media sites such as twitter and quora work best for those who are going to engage with other users. Reach out to people in your area, or in areas you would like to market your product to, to build a network of customers and resources with which you can advance your business. Likewise, respond to those who reach out to you. It builds rapport and improves your relationship with potential customers.
  4. Try new platforms: Some platforms have been around a while, and have proved their appeal to consumers. Others are just getting started. While you should invest most of your time in well-known, time-tested platforms, it’s also worthwhile to try out a newer, less popular platform, if you find one that really works for you and your business. Choose well, and you may even find yourself ahead of the curve if the site hits bit.

Salesmanship: Where Entrepreneurs Fail

So you’ve had a brilliant new idea for an entrepreneurial venture. Whether you’ve designed a must-have product, or conceptualized a service that satisfies a major need, you’re sure that your new business will find its audience.

But not so fast. Many fledgling entrepreneurs make the mistake of assuming customers will come to them. But even if your product really is the solution to all ills, that still doesn’t mean people will find it without the proper marketing.

The problem is, while aspiring entrepreneurs often (though not always) have experience in some aspect of business, they rarely have experience in salesmanship. And even those that do their research may discover that much of the advice out there is directed at established businesses, not start-ups looking for recognition. Even when they begin making sales, start-ups often make mistakes in dealing with their first customers that they regret later. So let’s talk about some common sales mistakes made by entrepreneurs.

Some entrepreneurs assume they need to establish their brand fully before looking for customers, but the truth is, if you don’t have any customers, it’s difficult to properly establish your brand. Start talking to potential buyers on day one. Not only will it create interest, but it will help you find flaws in your product.

Which brings us to the second point. Even entrepreneurs that start getting their ideas out early sometimes fail to listen to feedback from potential buyers. They’re too concerned about proving themselves to these early prospects to take note of concerns. Or, they’re too attached to their project to admit its flaws to themselves. But these customers provide valuable critique that you can’t get anywhere else. Ignore your potential buyers at your own risk.

Of course, some customers’ feedback is more valuable than others. Some entrepreneurs begin by selling their products to family and friends. This can be satisfying in the short term, but in the long term, it’s not beneficial. Family and friends are not likely to give constructive feedback: their motivation in buying it is solely due to their relationship with you. Instead, seek out buyers who are likely to further your business by offering referrals, beta testing your product, or promising repeat business.

Finally, be aware of things that might be seen as weaknesses, and address them. No matter how well you plan, the smallness and newness of your start-up will cause it to be met with some suspicions. Do your best to assuage those doubts, by proving what your product is capable of and appealing to clients who can vouch for you.

What the Cable Loft Teaches us About Good Business Ideas

Kikkerland, a Dutch design company, hosts an annual Design Challenge, in which students compete to create a product to be sold. Although Kikkerland has a reputation for whimsy, with past products including maraca-shaped cocktail shakers and a barbecue grill that collapses into a suitcase, this year’s winner is surprisingly utilitarian. The Cable Loft is a charger cable organizer that can attach to the edge of a desk. It’s not the kind of design that turns heads, but it is a simple solution to a consumer need.

The lesson of the Cable Loft: good ideas can be boring. Too many entrepreneurs today, while looking for a need to fill, forget that many problems are best solved by simple solutions. Additionally, the Cable Loft is only one product in a long line of cable organizing products. But business ideas don’t need to fit into a new, never-before-conceived niche. Clever entrepreneurs can get the same payoff (if not the same attention) by presenting an improved solution to an already-explored problem. If you see an already-established company doing well despite consumer complaints, there might be a market for you with those peeved customers.

Some people shy away from boring business ideas, worried that they themselves will be bored. After all, why take the risk of entrepreneurship if you’re not going to be passionate about what you’re doing? But the truth is, just because an idea doesn’t make good conversation at cocktail parties doesn’t mean that it won’t be exciting to pursue it. Every start-up presents its founder with hundreds of new challenges and learning opportunities. Entrepreneurship is very rarely boring.

So how do you find (and bring to fruition) the perfect boring business idea? First, naturally, look for a problem to solve. This problem does not have to be huge, and neither does it have to be one that no one has ever tried to solve before. Rather, find one that falls within your personal interest and past experience. Are you passionate about music? Your family? Cooking? Healthcare? Think about the needs in your life that are not adequately satisfied by current products.

Then, develop a plan. Build your knowledge of the field. Make sure you have a strong understanding of finance. Failure to understand basic financial concepts has been the downfall of many entrepreneurial ventures. Think ahead. Be prepared.

Solid, successful businesses don’t need to start with bright ideas. They need to start with smart ones.

How to Stay Healthy as a CEO

How-to-Stay-Healthy-as a CEO

As CEO, your top priority is likely the health and well-being of your company, as opposed to your own. It is hard to imagine someone faulting you for your dedication; after all, you are working for the benefit of both employees and clients alike.

However, many CEOs often forget that their personal health is a major contributor to their company’s overall efficiency. Corporations rarely thrive beneath a CEO who is exhausted, stressed out, or even skipping meals, for these terrible habits are linked to a negative mood, poor judgment, reduced mental clarity, and obesity.

Seeing as you set the precedent for your employees, it is possible for your habits to become their habits — which could lead to detrimental results if you are not taking proper care of yourself. A recent study concluded that obese workers, or those suffering from chronic disorders like heart disease, collectively miss 450 million more days of work than their healthy counterparts.

In order to prevent yourself and your subordinates from falling victim to such a counterproductive and unhealthy lifestyle, try incorporating these habits into your daily routine:

Effort to Eat Healthier

It is time to put an end to “eating on the fly” and missing entire meals for productivity’s sake. It is no secret that healthy food provides our bodies with the physical and mental energy they require to conquer the day, so it is imperative to take your diet seriously — in spite of how restrictive your schedule is. This is where preparing your meals ahead of time may work to your advantage.

Whether you cook one large meal at the beginning of the week and divvy it up accordingly, or take the time each night to pack your meal for the next day, meal prepping is a popular method of saving time without abandoning your health goals.

Don’t Sacrifice Sleep

According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults below the age of 65 need 7-9 hours of sleep in order to avoid increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, obesity, and diabetes. Furthermore, getting consistent amounts of sleep will improve daytime performance, leaving you feeling more alert, productive and creative than you ever did after a late night at the office.

Commit to a Fitness Regimen

While it may feel impossible to squeeze the recommended 30 minutes of physical activity into your schedule, it is absolutely doable — even if it means you have to treat this time like an appointment and write it into your schedule. Additionally, those 30 minutes spent exercising will grant you the opportunity to step back from your work-related obstacles and approach them with a fresher perspective.

Work on Your Work-Life Balance

Although there is nothing wrong with pulling the occasional all-nighter, consistently staying late at the office or answering work emails at home can easily cause you to burn out. Break these patterns by prioritizing your work by deadline and importance, as well as taking short breaks between projects, to ensure you do not feel overwhelmed or inclined to remain at work to check every item off of your to-do list.


The Psychology of Unmanned Cars

Unmanned cars are not just the future of car technology, they are currently being made and operated in the present. In Pittsburgh, Uber released a fleet of self-driving cars in summer of 2016 that have already made their way to the streets. These cars may have the ability to drive by themselves, but there is always a human being in the driver’s seat, supervising the actions of the car. While it will probably take decades before unmanned cars overtake the roadways as the majority, the introduction of these vehicles has its own problem: us. According to a recent study taken March 2016, 75% of drivers fear riding in an unmanned car.


The car industry has made incredible strides in creating and implementing new technologies that take some of the control away from the driver. These features include cruise control and Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) that help the driver with complicated tasks like parallel parking or increases the safety of passengers and pedestrians by alerting the driver of possible threats. While these features are automated and, on the whole, safe, the control of the vehicle is always in the hands of the human being operating the car.


Driverless car manufacturers assure the safety of the passengers and even promise better fuel efficiency, but the success of these technologies will hinge on our ability to take a backseat and allow the car to do the driving. There is no doubt that the technology will be developed, but there is a significant doubt in whether or not people will be comfortable in letting the technology take them safety from point A to point B.


One major concern is how with a driverless car will react in a time of crisis. For humans, our reactions are oftentimes based on emotion, but how would a robot respond to a crisis situation where there are two outcomes: either the car will hit a pedestrian or the car will put the safety of the passengers in the car in jeopardy? An interesting article was published on Car and Driver, about the algorithm Mercedes Benz’s algorithm they programmed into their vehicles because it would make the safety of the passengers of utmost importance. Debates about these implications will inevitably arise about unmanned cars in the future because it’s unclear how exactly these cars should be programmed.


This technology has the opportunity to reshape the way our roads our constructed, allowing for better productivity and efficiency. How these technologies will be implemented remains to be seen, but how people think about unmanned cars and what they believe will ultimately decide whether these cars are successful or not.

Top Podcasts for Business-Minded Professionals

Podcasts have become increasingly popular in the era of Bluetooth and smartphones. The Cloud is making it easier to connect devices than ever before and people are tapping into this technology revolution. Many cars now have Bluetooth and can easily connect to your phone or computer. With this easy access to the internet, you can listen to podcasts from virtually anywhere. You can also find a podcast about nearly any topic and there are hundreds out there related to business. Whether you’re a seasoned podcast listener or only starting out, here are the top podcasts for professionals that are business-minded.


Entrepreneur on Fire


This podcast is incredibly popular in the business community and also as a podcast in general, so you might want to make it the first on your list. Each day, the host, John Lee Dumas, releases a new episode. Dumas addresses personal finance matters and also features some of the leading names in business for interviews and addresses many topics that relate to business.


This is Your Life


Michael Hyatt created this podcast about five years ago and has established himself as an author, mentor, and business expert. Hyatt talks about many different business topics, but dedicates his podcast to “intentional leadership.” He wants to help others work toward their goals, in business and personally, and hopes that his podcast can help listeners reach their own goals in their lives.


BBC Business Daily


The BBC is usually a great source for general news and current events, but this podcast focuses exclusively on business. As its name implies, a new episode is released each day and discusses global business issues and news. Some of it’s a bit more technical, but a lot of the podcast is geared toward helping people understand different events and concepts. The podcast also features a segment where BBC reporters offer updates on business news around the world.




This podcast is hosted by various business leaders, so you’re constantly getting a fresh perspective and information. You also receive a variety of topics, about managing employees, encouraging workplace productivity, and many other useful insights about business and related topics. Dave Ramsey is usually on the podcast and is known for writing incredibly successful books on business and is an expert in the business industry.


The Broad Experience


Many people know Ashley Milne-Tyte, who hosts this podcast. She’s discussed the business world for decades and highlights the various ways men and women behave at work. She focuses on dynamics in business in ways that most people can understand. This podcast also occasionally focuses on the bigger picture and how listeners can align their actions with working toward it.


Robots are Helping in the Fight Against Climate Change

Most people are aware of the large amounts of waste humans, especially those living in developed countries, produce each year. In the U.S., there are thousands of landfills, many of which secrete damaging methane gas that goes out into the environment and harms the atmosphere. Last year, 50 billion plastic water bottles were used in America and over 80 percent of those ended up in landfills instead of being recycled. Even when garbage is recycled, most plants don’t have the capability or money to use industrial spectrometers for sorting garbage and must rely on human labor, which is inefficient and costly.

What’s being done?

Currently, a few companies are working on developing robotic technology that makes this sorting process much easier. A company out of Finland, ZenRobotics, is “the world’s leading supplier of robotic waste separation technology.” This company uses robotic arms that utilize machine learning and computer vision to pick out recycled materials from conveyor lines. The AI quickly learns what types of materials it needs to pick out and can self-teach. They’ve even made a trailer and film that gives insight into this technology and what it can do. These robots function completely independently and require no human supervision or interference when sorting the recyclables.


Another company working on similar technology is Sadako Technologies, which is Spanish-based. They’ve also created a short video about their technology, which can be viewed on their website. Like ZenRobotics, the company works on AI garbage sorting technology, but on a smaller scale than ZenRobotics. Sadako’s website claims that their technology is already doing better than human workers and predicts that trash sorting will be a completely automatic process in a few years, as long as technology costs can be lowered.


A final company, AMP Robotics, has yet to release a video of their product, but they’re working on an inexpensive solution while using software and robotic technology that’s easier to access. AMP Robotics’s focus is on the U.S.’s trash industry, hoping to offer a solution for the large amount of recyclable materials that go to waste. Their goal is reducing the amount of trash that goes into landfills and offer a concrete solution that doesn’t depend on costs of hardware going down.


Once these companies streamline their technology, it’s estimated that significant amounts of money will be saved in the waste industry, allowing that money to be put toward other departments and projects.

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