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The Morning Download: Lawmakers Assess Looming Role of Automation on Jobs

Sat, 04 Jun 2016 02:50:43 -0400

Good morning. Lawmakers are working to understand the ways in which automation stands to reshape the work that humans do, or don’t do. It’s too early to say just how that relationship will play out, but it’s not to be ignored. Members of the Congressional Joint Economic Committee heard testimony on the matter on Wednesday.

“It used to be that if you wanted to listen to a person and respond, you had to have a human being involved in that work – that’s just not the case anymore,” Andrew McAfee, principal research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told lawmakers. Nonetheless,  “Fears of automation and the view that they will eliminate millions of jobs historically have been vastly overblown,” said Harry Holzer, professor at the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University.

Yet  businesses are automating more tasks, beginning but not ending with the most routine work. “If you look at the robotic devices that are coming into the restaurant industry – it’s cheaper to buy a $35,000 robotic arm than it is to hire an employee who’s inefficient making $15 an hour bagging French fries … – it’s nonsense and it’s very destructive and it’s inflationary and it’s going to cause a job loss across this country like you’re not going to believe,” former McDonald’s USA CEO Ed Rensi told FOX Business Network’s Mornings with Maria,Tuesday.

Open-source software companies try a new business model. Open-source software won the hearts and minds of corporate tech strategists, but the first-generation of open-source free software download corel draw x6 startups largely failed to gain commercial traction. A new generation is selling to the CIO in a different way, based on the idea of providing useful but free software, then offering proprietary products that work with the free software. “There is a massive shift going on in the ways technology is bought. Open source has gone from the exception to the rule,” Jake Flomenberg, a partner at venture capital firm Accel Partners, said Wednesday during a panel discussion sponsored by Accel and Work-Bench, an enterprise technology VC fund and workspace, in New York City. “Open adoption software is the next wave … We believe it is the next model for how IT is delivered.”

State CIOs urge feds to finalize cyberattack response plan. A draft plan to better coordinate federal, state and local government efforts to recover from a major cyberattack has languished for more than six years, security officials say. For now, federal authorities have left the states with “a lack of guidance or successful blueprint to follow,” Mark Ghilarducci, director of California’s office of emergency services, told lawmakers at a House Homeland Security Committee hearing Tuesday. “This has to be one team, one fight,” Mr. Ghilarducci said.


HP Inc. reported signage at the entrance to the company’s headquarters in Palo Alto, California, U.S., on Monday, May 22, 2016. HP Inc. is scheduled to release earnings figures on May 25. DAVID PAUL MORRIS/BLOOMBERG
No surprise: Mobile, cloud shift keeps on hurting legacy tech. HP Inc., the personal-computer and printer business created by the breakup of Hewlett-Packard Co. last fall, logged a steeper-than-expected sales drop and cut the high end of its yearly guidance, the WSJ’s Don Clark and Lisa Beilfuss report. Chief Executive Dion Weisler acknowledged that the demand environment for both PCs and printers is weak.


SMS pioneer Joe Cunningham: ‘Mobile operators need to shake their inertia’

Wed, 06 Apr 2016 06:01:28 -0400

Having masterminded the world’s first commercial deployment of SMS and spearheaded notable Irish tech success stories from Aldiscon to Apion, Aepona, Accuris and Ammeon, Joe Cunningham is as passionate as ever about the future of mobile, and especially about autonomous vehicles.When I talk to Cunningham for the first time, it’s as if I almost know him personally, having written about each and every one of the companies he’s been involved in over the past 20 years. I almost kick myself when the first question I ask him is why every company begins with an A. His answer is worth it: “To be at the top of phone books and trade mags.”Cunningham and his oft-collaborator Gilbert Little’s role in the evolution of the mobile phone industry worldwide has to be acknowledged, mainly because much of it is still pretty much recent history.A self-described “lapsed engineer” Cunningham started Aldiscon in the 1980s to focus on doing project work and interpreting the emerging GSM standard for telecoms companies.One of those standards was SMS – short messaging service – which was first conceived by Friedhelm Hillebrand and Bernard Ghillebaert in 1984. While Vodafone claims credit for sending the first-ever text message “Merry Christmas” in 1992, the first commercial deployment was by an Irish company called Aldiscon with Telia in Sweden in 1993.“We spent two years trying to sell our SMS technology and when it was finally deployed some 10,000 messages were sent in the first month, growing to half a million within six months.”Within a few years of the commercial deployment of SMS, Aldiscon was sold to Logica for around IR£57m in 1997. Other acquisitions of start-ups Cunningham was involved with followed: Apion was bought by two years later in 1999 in a stock swap deal worth $239m and Aepona was bought by Intel for a rumoured $120m in 2013.Cunningham is currently executive chairman of Ammeon, a fast-moving Irish tech firm focused on the DevOps space that recently announced 100 new jobs for its O’Connell Bridge headquarters in Dublin. He is also a non-executive director of Sean O’Sullivan’s Cork venture capital fund SOSV and San Francisco ride-sharing venture Carma, which is beginning to focus on opportunities in the self-driving car space.Along with the other mobile mafia of the 1990s, including former Vodafone Ireland CEO Stephen Brewer, he will be speaking at an upcoming Telecoms Graduate Initiative (TGI) event on 11 April in Dublin, which is focused on commercialising telecoms research.Catching a rising starCunningham said that as we hurtle towards a world of 5G, similar opportunities are emerging for a new generation of entrepreneurs to grasp, just as he and Little grasped opportunities in the 1990s, initially with SMS.“I left DIT Kevin Street in 1984 as an engineering graduate and went to work in the UK because there just were no jobs in Ireland. At that time, there were hundreds of telecoms equipment firms worldwide. Today there is just Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia.”‘Competition makes you good, it sharpens you and makes you good at what you do’– JOE CUNNINGHAMIt was while working at Nortel that Cunningham met Gilbert Little and started Aldiscon as a software business. “We started deciphering the emerging GSM standards and at the time Ireland was an exporter of graduates and we wanted to change that. We were doing lots of projects for telecoms companies like Cable & Wireless and we tried to convince them about our SMS technology but they didn’t see the product potential,” he said.However, they weren’t deterred and Cunnigham explained how they cornered the ability to send and receive text messages and demonstrated this at trade shows in Geneva in the early 1990s.“All these companies that were about to become huge – Vodafone and O2 – were there then and they were tiny, with only 30 or so people each. In 1993 we deployed the first commercial SMS system and the rest is history.”Cunningham recalled how prior to its IR£57m merger with Logica t[...]

How to Run a Webinar: The 4 Biggest Things I Learned

Wed, 06 Apr 2016 04:51:44 -0400

If you’re one of our regulars, you know I like to be the meta one – the blogger who blogs about blogging. Well, brace yourselves, because today is going to be a bit different.A few short hours ago, I wrapped up my first appearance as a host of our monthly webinar series. During these webinars, we cover a wide range of topics – from web design to reporting on the right metrics. For February, I elected to talk about a subject near and dear to my heart: “How to Create Content That Doesn’t Suck.”But I’m not here to rehash the what I covered earlier today. I’m here to talk about how to run a webinar.Yes, there are tons of blog posts out there telling you how to set up a landing page that converts leads into attendees or how to create a webinar deck that dazzles. But taking up the mantle as webinar host proved to be an unexpected, but invaluable educational experience. So, in the name of radical honesty, I’m going to share with you the four biggest Computer Course in Urdu lessons I learned about the process of developing a webinar presentation, while this is all still fresh in my mind.But First…Before I get too carried away with littering this post with nuggets of webinar wisdom, let’s first talk about why webinars are great for marketing.If you’re not seasoned inbound pro, here’s the scoop: Webinars can be a powerful vehicle for delivering a premium content offer. They are interactive, live presentations or workshops that can provide a lot of value to your target audience – information, actionable insights, access to experts, etc. – while also giving you a prime opportunity to engage with leads, establish credibility, demonstrate experience and humanize your brand. It’s basically a win-win for everyone involved.Now, with that out of the way…No. 1: Going Outside of Your Comfort Zone Is a Good ThingI’m a writer and editor. I’m happiest when tucked safely behind the walls of my blanket fort of the written word, where I can run every statement and idea associated with my name through at least three (okay, five) sets of revisions. I’m also self-aware; I know I don’t like to stray too far from my beloved 600 to 800-word blog post format, because it’s safe. Plus, it’s human nature to consciously or subconsciously gravitate toward pursuits that play to one’s strengths.The problem with being safe, however, is that safe is often synonymous with boring and unchalleging. So, in front of the whole Quintain family, I volunteered to host a webinar in 2016 at our yearly retreat in January. (Hooray! Go me!) And then I immediately recoiled in horror, because I couldn’t invoke the “takesies-backsies” clause – I would look like a wuss. (Boo.)Now that it’s over, and I’m on the other side of my webinar, I can honestly say the whole experience was divine. As soon as the spotlight hit me, I was transformed into a charismatic and eloquent creature who could inspire the masses to climb to greater heights.Just kidding. It was traumatic, and I’m not Oprah.There’s something hilarious about watching a writer who hates public speaking try to string thoughts together on the fly or sound coherent without an editorial process. Kind of like those videos where you watch puppies try walk around in shoes; it’s adorable, but not their strong suit.Even so, I totally want to do it again. Was it hard and terrifying at times? Yes. Do I need to push myself to be a better public speaker who doesn’t use the word “unique” four times in a sentence? Of course.But if you want to get your message in front of the right people, you must embrace the reality that you can’t always package it in the same way every time. Each person processes information differently, based on their preferences and learning style, as well as how much spare time they have in their day. That’s why great content comes in a variety of forms – SlideShares, infographics, eBooks, blogs, vlogs, Pinterest boards, podcasts… I could go on.So yes, it was scary to take on a new m[...]

Romance fraud: 'I lost £36,000 to a woman I met online' warns Leicestershire man, 43

Fri, 01 Apr 2016 04:48:35 -0400

Romance fraud: ‘I lost £36,000 to a woman I met online’ warns Leicestershire man, 43A middle-aged man says falling in love with a woman he met online has cost him more than £36,000, and pushed him to the brink of suicide.Successful electronics engineer Michael* could not believe his luck when he met a “very beautiful” woman, named Samantha, on a dating site.ADVERTISINGinRead invented by TeadsThey hit it off, romance blossomed and 43-year-old Michael decided Samantha* was the woman he wanted to marry.But his girlfriend needed help with her bills, and over the next few months Michael, who earns a good salary, paid out thousands of pounds to cover Samantha’s debts. They included council tax, car repairs, medical bills, utility bills, fines, funeral expenses for a relative and holiday expenses for her family.She promised to pay him back - but that never happened.Now, 10 months on, Michael has reluctantly come to the conclusion that his girlfriend has conned him.Although he still loves Samantha, he is convinced he is the victim of a crime called “romance fraud” - a scam in which a person is bled of cash by someone they believe is 'the one’.He has decided to speak out to help other people avoid going through a similar situation.Michael, who lives in rural Leicestershire, said he originally decided to contact the dating site like because he had not been in a meaningful relationship since he broke up with a long-term girlfriend in 1997.“I contacted the dating website in March last year,” he said.“I was a man with a house of my own. I was rattling around in the three bedroom property with two cats.”He met Samantha, a beautiful, bubbly 30-year-old.“She was Premier League, I couldn’t believe my luck.”“We seemed to hit it off. She said she was an accountant and was fun and witty.”They met, and the relationship developed into a romance.“We went out on a few dates, and I know it sounds corny, but I was infatuated with her,” he said.“She seemed to be keen to come to live with me.”But Samantha told Michael she had financial ties. They included having to sell her property, and to settle massive debts which had built up while she dealt with other things in her life.Samantha said she had been her mother’s carer for several years, until her mother died from cancer.The distress and worry of dealing with her mother’s death, and caring for her through a long illness, meant Samantha had built up massive arrears with her council tax and utility bills.Michael agreed to help her out, with Samantha promising to pay back whatever she borrowed from him; she said she was due to realise at least £45,000 equity in her property.He started paying her bills in April last year, handing over £250 in the first month.That was followed by eight other monthly payments ranging in size from £1,000 to nearly £8,000.To cover his payouts, Michael has taken out a £10,000 loan on his home, borrowed from his family and taken on payday loans with ultra-high interest rates.“I took out payday loans - something I vowed I would never do - because she promised her money would be paid out to her any day,” said Michael.“I’ve also borrowed from my family, including my parents who are in their 80s.”But Samantha’s excuses about why she was unable to get her hands on the cash kept coming.She said the equity was not being released to her because of her debts.And she told Michael her financial problems had in fact worsened, as there were outstanding court fines and other legal penalties she could not pay.Samantha also complained of damage to her car which needed to be fixed, and said she had to pay funeral expenses for a relative.She also told her boyfriend that her personal circumstances were so complicated she could not live with him at the moment.Michael admitted he let his hea[...]