5 things I learned from one of Portland’s most bustling startups Monday, Nov 3 2014 

Re-post from Staff Reporter-Portland Business JournalEmail  |  Twitter

http://www.bizjournals.com/portland/blog/2014/10/5-things-i-learned-from-one-of-portlands-most.html?ana=twt&page=all

Treehouse learning mission control, providing you with an overview of your current progress and total points earned at Treehouse.       https://teamtreehouse.com

Treehouse co-founder and CEO Ryan Carson spoke at the PDXedtech meetupTuesday night, and while we are pretty familiar with what the company is doing — particularly with its efforts with Code Oregon— there were still interesting takeaways.

The company is up to 75 employees, 20 of them are in its headquarters in northeast Portland, and it’s serving 91,000 students. Also, the company is profitable.

Treehouse sees itself as an online trade school. That means the company’s mission is to get students jobs.

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Students are typically between 20 and 40 years old. Many are underemployed and view the Treehouse training as steps to a better job.

Carson highlighted a recent student who went from working retail in Portland to landing a job at the startup OpenSesame.

Here’s are some more pieces of knowledge that Carson dropped:

  1. Treehouse launched a beta program that aims to guarantee job placement for students who are deemed by the company to be job ready. Treehouse Careers has an online application where the company gets to know more a student and what kind of job they want. The student is then served with a dashboard with a to-do to put them on track for the job they want. Part of this process includes some written components, so Treehouse recruiting staff can determine a student’s communication abilities. There is also a project component to gauge how well a student works on a team. If everything is met and the student is deemed job ready, the company will work to place them in a job
  2. The company made headlines last year when it announced that it was removing managers from its organizational structure. There are the top level executives and then everyone else, Carson said. The move came when the company employed 50 people (it now employs 75), and it required a new way to communicate. “It was total chaos,” Carson said of the time immediately following the move. The current communications tools, mainly email didn’t work. So the company built an internal tool called Canopy, which operates like a public Gmail account that everyone can see and contribute. That way information isn’t siloed into any one person’s inbox. For its more private conversations, the team uses the messaging tool HipChat.
  3. Treehouse is closed on Fridays. The team works four, eight-hour days and all the work is able to get done. Carson said this can happen because the company has a culture of non-interruption. Conversations happen on HipChat and people can stay focused on what they do. He noted this tends to mean they have a pretty quiet office.
  4. For now the four-day work week and the no-manager policy works for the company, but Carson acknowledged that it might be that way forever.
  5. Luck has played a role in Treehouse’s development so far. Carson noted that he unknowingly built really strong network and became the center of a community of technologists with an earlier company. That company did code training workshops around the country and it was early on in the Web 2.0 movement, he noted at that point you could actually email Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and he would email back. Based on this community he was a part of, when it came time for Treehouse to raise money, he had the right contacts.

4 web design trends for 2015 that will change your job forever Wednesday, Oct 29 2014 

Our day-to-day jobs are soon going to be very different, predicts Paul Boag.

Paul Boag

As web professionals we often look at other industries with disbelief at their failure to adapt to digital. The downfall of music retailing, the demise of companies like Kodak and the challenges faced by newspapers.

But are we aware of the changes happening in our own sector? The web is now over 25 years old. Are we beginning to get set in our ways? Are we just as blind to changes as other industries?

I am aware I maybe sounding melodramatic and I don’t mean to be. We are not about to see our roles disappear. We may not see many travel agents or encyclopaedia salesmen around these days because of digital. But that doesn’t mean we are in immediate danger.

That said, there are certain trends that are worthy of our attention. These are trends that might not make us obsolete, but they will change what we do from day-to-day.

The four trends I’m talking about are:

  • The move towards in-house teams
  • The automation of code
  • The rise of software as a service
  • The decline of the website

01. The move towards in-house teams

The way businesses perceive the web has changed a lot in recent years. Once seen as another marketing channel, it is now perceived as business critical for a lot of organisations.

Many companies have decided it is unwise to rely on an outside suppliers for business critical operations. Instead they are building internal teams to take on the role. This is strategically wise, but also provides significant cost savings over the longer term.

We are beginning to see this impact our sector as agencies compete for a shrinking number of opportunities at the top end of the market. Some agencies such as Adaptive Path and Mark Boulton Design have sold to their clients. Effectively they have become in-house teams. Others are being forced to downsize.

Of course no in-house team is going to have every skill they need to operate. There will still be work for the specialist. But, whether specialist agencies are sustainable is hard to tell. Instead we might see the growth of specialist contractors who work on short term contracts with in-house teams.

This means that those of us working in high-end agencies need to think about our long term position. The chances are we will see a growing number of agencies close their doors over the coming years. Those of us who work for those agencies may well find ourselves joining in-house teams. That or becoming much more specialised in our role.

But it is not just those working at the top end of the market who will experience change.

02. The rise of software as a service

The rise of software as a service is threatening the lower end of all kinds of sectors. For example, services like FreeAgent are replacing traditional book keepers. In fact SaaS is eroding traditional models in everything from recruitment to customer management.

Unfortunately for some, web design is no exception. There was a time when self employed web designers could produce cheap websites from home and make a reasonable income. Today that is becoming hard with services like Squarespace allowing people to build their own website.

But this doesn’t just apply to ‘build your own website’ services. It would now be insanity to build a custom content management system in the vast majority of cases. Once this was big business for many developers. The same is true for ecommerce platforms. Services like Shopify means the days of building shopping carts for most are over.

What this does is push those low end web designers up market at exactly the same time as the high end agencies are lowering their prices. This squeezes the middle.

Software as a service is commoditising much of what use to be bespoke work. But even bespoke design is becoming easier than ever before.

03. The automation of coding

There was a time when being able to code good quality HTML and CSS was enough. That is no longer the case. Not only is there a surplus of people able to do this, the need to code is waning.

Tools like Macaw and Adobe Reflow are enabling designers to do much of the work of front-end coders. Now I know what you are thinking — these tools create terrible CSS. You are right, but they are a sign of things to come. Over time these tools will become more sophisticated. It wouldn’t surprise me if eventually hand coding HTML and CSS becomes a skill few still need.

Although these tools will never produce code as good as a person, it will be good enough. In the end it will come down to return on investment. For many ‘quick to market code’ that is ‘good enough’ will be a better investment than hand-coded.

But even if that does not happen, these tools are already having an impact. Creating working prototypes has become much easier. A job that used to keep a front end coder busy for days if not weeks.

It’s easy to dismiss the impact of these tools. They don’t replace a good coder. But, I remember graphic designers saying the same thing about desktop publishing. DTP didn’t replace the graphic designer but it did thin the herd.

If you are a designer, you might be feeling a little smug at this point. After all we will always need people to design websites no matter how we code our sites. But perhaps longer term even that will change.

04. The decline of the website

Have you noticed the gradual decline in the role of the website? Take for example going to see a movie. You know what you want to see, but you don’t know where it is showing.

In the past you would have visited each movie theatre website one at a time to see if they were showing the film you wanted. Each website was different, crafted by a busy team of web designers.

My betting is that is not how you look up movies anymore. The chances are you have a single app on your mobile that aggregates movie listings from many sources. Perhaps you even ask Siri or just Google it.

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This creates a much better experience as users don’t have to deal with different interfaces. Unfortunately it does start to undermine the role of the designer crafting these different sites.

I am sure it won’t be long before you ask Siri and she tells you when and where your film is on. The whole thing done by voice command, no user interface at all.

Content is being set free from design. Instead we are sharing content via APIs between applications and sites. Sometimes business owners are choosing to put their content on Facebook, Yelp or Foursquare. They are abandoning the idea of having their own site. This is something that is particularly prevalent in China.

Don’t panic!

This might leave you feeling despondent about your future prospects. It shouldn’t. As somebody who has worked in the web over 20 years, I can tell you that as long as you are able to adapt then none of this will be an issue. Sure, your role will change but you won’t find yourself homeless.

The danger is that the transition could prove painful if you are not aware that change is coming. Whether I am right in my predictions or not you can be sure of one thing — the web will continue to evolve. As Charles Darwin said: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”

Words: Paul Boag

Co-Founder of Headscape and host of the Boagworld Podcast, Paul Boag has spent more than 20 years of helping organisations manage digital change.

7 Best Practices for Being a Successful Remote Developer Wednesday, Oct 22 2014 

By , October 21, 2014

http://www.drdobbs.com/tools/7-best-practices-for-being-a-successful/240169183?pgno=1

Working remotely requires special discipline and unique habits. Learn them to really contribute to the project.

Although working with distributed team members is gaining traction at companies, most people have never worked with a remote programmer. If you’re working remotely, don’t assume that your client or employer knows best — in fact, you likely have more experience with how to work this way than they do. Because of this, you will excel if you proactively offer guidance and set best practices in working together. My company specializes in placing remote workers and, in the process, we have come to recognize that freelance developers who achieve the best results typically follow these best practices.

Get Your Hands on the Right Tools

As a remote team member, you’ll probably be working with a team of other people who are either onsite internally, or spread around the world. Regardless, you’ll want to be plugged into their workflow and communications grids as soon as possible. If you don’t have a thorough sense of their organization, ask for a list of all the platforms that your fellow programmers use — for example, Slack, HipChat, Skype, and Google Hangouts. Download them right away and learn to use them well. Or, if you need to rely on internal tracking systems like JIRA, request access if it hasn’t already been set up for you. By paying close attention to tools and having them ready to go, you’ll increase your value.

Over-Communicate

The best remote programmers on my team provide progress updates (daily and sometimes twice a day). That’s because, unlike in a traditional office setting, team members can’t simply walk over to see what you’re working on. By providing regular updates, you explicitly define your value to the organization and build trust with your team members because they know you’re reliable, thorough, and a good communicator.

You’ll probably receive updates from others on your team, as well as from your client or manager. If you need to provide feedback, be as clear as possible and do so in a timely fashion, so if things aren’t going well, people are aware of speedbumps and can identify why objectives were missed. Also be sure to communicate in multiple formats. A good rule of thumb is to use two different media for each communication, rather than relying solely on email. If you give feedback during a video chat, summarize what you said in an email. This creates a streamlined feedback loop so communications are accurate, continuous, and relevant.

Finally, help guide efforts forward by scheduling real-time conversations. Talking works wonders when something complicated needs to be cleared up — email often just won’t cut it. While Google Hangouts and Skype feature talk-only functions, use video as much as possible. Seeing someone’s face helps build trust and a smooth professional relationship with your team.

Get to Know the Culture of the Organization

After you’re hired, it doesn’t mean all that’s left is heads-down programming. You should continue learning as much as you can about the organization. This will help you work smarter as well as build trust with your counterparts. Most importantly, be proactive in figuring out how your client or manager operates and build off of their style of communication.

That goes for non-verbal communication, too. If team members are expected to be available via video during their shift, make sure you’re available during yours. If they sing happy birthday to each other via Google Chat, then join in! If they send e-cards, do the same.

Be Complete When Asking or Answering Questions

Many times, I see emails or hear about issues where the deliverer fails to provide complete context. Without enough background, issues simply can’t be acted on. When you’re a remote freelancer, you can create considerable goodwill by being complete, especially if you’re working a schedule that is different from HQ’s or other programmers’. That way, your contacts will always have the information they need and can address things in a timely fashion, even if you’re not online.

Whenever possible, include screenshots, documents, and message threads. Err on the side of over-communication rather than assuming that recipients have all the information they need.

 

 

Be Comfortable Escalating Issues You Think Are Important

Many people aren’t comfortable escalating issues. They’re worried that others may see their escalations as blame or pointing fingers. To be successful, you’ll need to get over this fear.

Make a point of getting used to escalating things, but also go a step further. Think about potential issues in advance and flag them to your manager — it makes everyone’s life a lot easier.

Also, communicate rapidly: Don’t let issues linger. Escalate immediately and be direct with your team members if it’s important. This is especially important if you are working at different times than your colleagues, timeliness keeps conversations moving as people go on and offline.

Be Reliable

Consider carefully what hours will allow you to work with your colleagues most effectively. As a freelancer, you’ll enjoy more freedom as to when and where you work — but some schedules may be better than others. For example, it’s best to maintain at least a few hours of overlap with your client so you can take advantage of synchronous communication like telephone, chat, Skype, and Google Hangouts. The same goes for vacation. You may already be an expert at managing your own time, but consider how your availability will affect your client.

When you’ve set expectations as to your typical hours, show that you’re responsive during them. When you’re not in the same place, your responsiveness and patterns of availability are what foster trust. The more proactive and responsible you are on this front, the more you’ll stand out. Be available via email and at least one other platform (such as Skype) and respond quickly, even if it’s simply to let colleagues know you can’t talk but will connect later.

Since you’re likely to work with team members in different time zones, find a time zone clock likeEvery Time Zone to make sure you schedule meetings correctly and aren’t late (or worse, forget a meeting altogether).

Create a Dedicated Workspace

When you’re online working, help ensure you’re in the mood to be engaged by setting up a routine and a dedicated workspace. Some of our team members have shared with me that they run errands and get coffee, then stay dressed up and work through their shift. Some have home offices or go to co-working spaces so they can concentrate. Regardless of what works best for you, create a routine and find a workplace that helps you be most productive.

Stephane Kasriel is the Senior Vice President, Product and Engineering at Elance-oDesk. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Ecole Polytechnique (France), a Master of Science in Computer Science from Stanford University, and an MBA from INSEAD.

SEO Explained Thursday, Oct 16 2014 

This is the link to several short and hidden videos about SEO explained by  one of the Google employees who makes these SEO decisions:

http://searchengineland.com/guide/what-is-seo

Video: SEO Explained Watch this 6 or 7 minute video (or cut to the end)

You will see several video choices on one U Tube screen.

Choose Maile Ohye

maile-ohye

Developer Programs Tech Lead Google

The next big thing Tuesday, Sep 2 2014 

Apple iWatch Coming in September, But You’ll Have to Wait to Buy It, Report Says

I have not worn a watch for several years. Literally everywhere I go, there is a clock. My car, computer, Lunchroom, office/classroom. Sorry apple, if I’m not going t spend $20 on a timex, I’m not going to spend several hundred dollars on an Apple watch. I doubt that my with holding my contribution to your coffers will significantly affect your bottom line.

The following is a re-post by Adario Strange nycmsh

from http://mashable.com/people/adario-strange/

In the weeks leading up to the Apple event, reportedly scheduled for Sept. 9, most speculation has revolved around the debut of a new iPhone. But a new report adds to long-standing rumors that we will finally see an iWatch at the event, too.

Re/code claims that Apple will unveil a wearable device alongside two new versions of the iPhone.

SEE ALSO: Apple Snags Luxury Watchmaker Exec Ahead of Rumored iWatch Launch

With no leaked images of the device (now a common occurrence with new iPhone models), some observers had begun to believe rumors of a delay in the roll out of the device, and that 2014 would see no Apple wearable.

While no details have leaked out about the wearable’s looks, the report also goes on to claim that the device will be integrated with HealthKit and HomeKit.

Apple itself still hasn’t confirmed that it will produce a wearable. But the company’s CEO, Tim Cook, has hinted in recent earnings calls that the company would be breaking into new categories this year.

UPDATED: 4:25 p.m. ET: In the run-up to Apple’s Sept. 9 event, iWatch leaks are turning into a torrent of information. According to Re/Code, Apple has considered charging $400 for its wearable device, with lower prices for different models. This report is not a confirmation of the final price, but more of a well-sourced hint at the price range that consumers might expect when the iWatch finally hits retail stores.

Put that hammer away! Don’t smash your poor, inadequate watches just yet.

As it turns out, an earlier report that said Apple’s iWatch will arrive in September has been updated with a very important caveat: You’ll have to wait to buy it.

SEE ALSO: Apple Invites Are Out: New iPhones Coming Sept. 9

Re/Code, the same website that revealed Apple’s wearable device will debut at the company’s now confirmed September event, reported on Friday that the so-called iWatch will only be “announced,” and not offered for sale at the event.

5 Ways to Keep Email from Ruining Your Life Wednesday, Jul 9 2014 

5 Ways to Keep Email from Ruining Your Life

David Pogue July 2, 2014

https://www.yahoo.com/tech/5-ways-to-keep-email-from-ruining-your-life-90501714124.html

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Email is out of control. For many of us in the working world, there’s just too much of it. Email has become a source of anxiety, a measurement of our failure to keep up.

I’ve done a ton of reading on the subject, trying to peer over my virtual backyard fence to see how other people manage their email tsunamis.

Some people treat email like it’s Twitter: a living stream of communiqués that’s constantly rushing beneath our feet, to be dipped into when there’s a free moment — but otherwise, without feeling any obligation to answer every single one.

Others let their inboxes fill, fill, fill with unanswered mail — 5,000 messages, 10,000, maybe 30,000 — and finally declare “email bankruptcy.” That’s where you throw in the towel and delete all of it, starting fresh, on the assumption that if any of it is still important, the sender will email you again.

But somewhere between those radical solutions and just moving to the Amish country, there are strategies that work. There are protocols that can keep email from destroying your productivity and your self-esteem.

If you expect to hear me championing the “inbox zero” movement, though, you’ll be disappointed. That philosophy says you should end every day with nothing in your inbox. Immediately answer any message you can deal with in less than two minutes — and everything else, you’re supposed to file away into a mail folder.

To me, though, that’s pure self-delusion. Just because you’ve moved a message out of your inbox doesn’t mean you’ve dealt with it. It’s still a to-do hanging over your head even if you hide it away. It’s a self-fakeout, if you ask me.

No, here’s what I propose: Follow these five tips that actually get you through email faster and restore balance to your work life.

1. Don’t be a slave to email. Every time you hear that little chime that says a new message has come in, you lose your train of work thought. You duck out of whatever you were doing to see what little email present has just arrived under the tree. You may even open the message, find an interesting-looking link — and the next thing you know, you’ve just blown seven minutes on the Web.

So turn off the notifications for incoming mail (look for the setting in Options, Preferences, or Settings).

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Furthermore, limit yourself to checking email only three times a day. In the morning, after lunch, and at the end of the day. No more ducking into email 35 times a day. Give yourself a fighting chance to get some creative momentum going on whatever you do in life.

(And don’t worry about missing things. If people are eager enough to reach you right this minute, they’ll text or call you.)

2. Death to perpetual email chains. One great way to stanch the flow of incoming email is to produce less outgoing mail. And one great way to do that is to end the conversation preemptively.

Idea 1: “I’ll send the proposal Friday. I’ll assume that’s fine unless I hear from you.”

You’ve given the other guy an out. Your wording allows him to stop the chain now. (As opposed to a multi-message back-and-forth: “When’s good? Can I send it Friday?” “Sure, sounds good.” “OK, Friday it is!”)

Idea 2: “I could meet Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday between 2 and 4. Let me know what works.”

See what you’ve done there? You’ve already established your free times; with only one more message, your colleague can cement the meeting time for good. You’ve saved yourself a bunch of “Sorry, I can’t do it then — how about Thursday?”-type memos.

Idea 3: Adopt email-triage shorthand. Let the other party off the hook by concluding your message with, “No reply needed” (or “NRN”).

Some people even put the entire message in the subject line, followed by EOM (“end of message”), like this:

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You’ve just saved your colleague the trouble even of opening the message. He’s got your news, and he can now hit Delete.

3. Save typing. Use an auto-expander. Face it: You type the same things over and over and over again. “Thank you so much!” “Got it — will do.” “No problem!” “Hope this helps!” Your address. Your phone number. Phrases that pertain to your line of work.

Using a typing-expander program lets you store these as abbreviations; whenever you type them, they instantly expand to full length. Like these:

ty = Thank you very much!

ma = Much appreciated.

np = No problem.

Addr = My address is: 1244 North Elm Street, Chicago, IL, 60609.

You should also set up “expanders” for typos you make a lot, too: “the” for “teh,” and so on. These programs work everywhere, not just in mail.

On the Mac, this feature is built right in. Open System Preferences; click Keyboard, and then click the Text tab. Click the + button and create the abbreviation you want:

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On Windows, a free program like PhraseExpress does the same trick. (It’s quite sophisticated; it can even propose the completion of entire sentences based on what you’ve typed before.)

No need to build a big list of abbreviations all on Day One; you’ll remember them better if you create them over time. I’ve been using these programs for 15 years, and by now, there are over 400 entries in my abbreviation list. y wdt bv how little i ac type tz days. (“You wouldn’t believe how little I actually type these days.”)

These typing expanders take a few minutes to set up. But they save time, decrease repetitive stress, and eliminate typos.

4. Use Unroll.me. This free service, available for email accounts from Gmail, Google Apps, AOL, Yahoo, Outlook.com, and Hotmail, shows you a master list of everything you’ve subscribed to — whether you think you did or not. All those newsletters, coupon deals, bank pitches … basically, anything you receive that has a tiny “unsubscribe” link at the bottom. Unroll.me frees you from all of them en masse, just by offering little Unsubscribe buttons:

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(When you click Unsubscribe, the service begins hiding incoming email from those senders instantly, even if it takes a couple of days for the actual Unsubscribe command to register.)

I think it’s weird that, after five unsubscriptions, you can’t unsubscribe from any more without first agreeing to post something about Unroll.me to Facebook or Twitter; that’s its requested “payment.” But it’s worth doing. Unroll.me doesn’t recognize every junky mailing, but it does an amazing job.

(Whatever marketing messages you don’t unsubscribe from get rolled up into a single daily digest, which is refreshing in its own way.)

5. Learn to use message rules (filters). Almost every email program lets you create rules, or filters, that process incoming mail automatically, based on who they’re from or what they say. If there’s some relative who never sends you anything but dumb jokes or hokey inspirational tales, you can set up a rule that automatically files those messages into, say, an Aunt Enid folder.

In Yahoo Mail or Gmail, for example, these rules are called filters. To create one, from the gear menu, choose Settings:

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Click Filters, then Add (or Create new filter). Now you get a dialog box where you can set up the rule. In this example, any email from irs.gov gets filed into your Guvmint folder:

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(And speaking of Gmail: Also in Settings, click the Inbox tab. You can use the Inbox Type pop-up menu to try out various Google schemes that attempt to identify and prioritize the important messages — displaying them first, for example.)

There are similar commands in email programs like Outlook and Apple Mail.

There’s no magic button that can reduce your email flood to a trickle. But by eliminating the unimportant junk, minimizing the back-and-forths, and using helper software, you can go a long way toward making the deluge manageable.

You can email David Pogue at this address poguester@yahoo.com;

Reset the Net —This is a re-post of a post by Paul Sieminski Monday, Jun 9 2014 

Paul Sieminski | June 5, 2014 at 1:20 pm |

A year ago today, we joined the world in shock on learning that governments were spying on internet users around the world. Tapping internet service providers’ undersea cables, intentionally and secretly weakening encryption products,  surreptitiously collecting everything from call metadata to photos sent over the internet by US citizens — nothing was off limits.

Just as troubling as the revelations themselves is the fact that since last summer, little if anything has changed. Despite a lot of rhetoric, our three branches of government in the United States have not made many concrete steps toward truly protecting citizens from unchecked government surveillance.

Automattic has been a strong supporter of efforts to reform government surveillance. We’ve supported reform legislation in Congress, and participated in the Day We Fight Back, earlier this year. More importantly, we aim to make our own legal processes for securing the information our users entrust to us as transparent and protective as possible.

Be the change you want to see in the world — that’s why we’re joining the many other companies who are participating today in Reset the Net. In the face of intrusive surveillance, we believe that everyone in the tech community needs to stand up and do what they can, starting with their own sites and platforms. For us, that means working to secure the connection between users and our websites. We’ll be implementing SSL for all *.wordpress.com subdomains by the end of the year.

If we’ve learned anything over the past year, it’s that encryption, when done correctly, works. If we properly encrypt our sites and devices, we can make mass surveillance much more difficult.

We’re happy to be taking these steps and hope that the coming year brings real reform to end mass surveillance.

Paul Sieminski | June 5, 2014 at 1:20 pm |

https://us-mg6.mail.yahoo.com/neo/launch?#485822647

5 Tips for Using Facebook Smarter and Less Stupidly Thursday, May 29 2014 

 

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by Tech Columnist

Let’s say you follow my advice to cope with having too many Facebook friends by learning to selectively ignore the ones you don’t care about, instead of going on an unfriending spree.

Obviously there’s another side to the issue: What about “friends” you’d prefer to hide from?

Again, I think there are easier solutions than a time-consuming and unpleasant friend massacre to maintain the social-signal function of Facebook — and your privacy.

1. By all means, do not be friends with actual enemies. Just for the record, it is in fact a good idea to unfriend anyone you believe might have actual, active, visceral ill will toward you. This shouldn’t require any special effort on your part. Nasty breakup? Lawsuit? Grounds for unfriending.

2. Pay attention to who can see what you post. Apparently this is such a problem that even Facebook is preparing changes to make it easier for members to avoid “accidental oversharing.”

But even now it’s not all that hard to, at a minimum, make sure you’re not sharing every post with the public at large. Click the Privacy Shortcuts icon at the top left of your home page and choose Who can see my stuff? At a minimum, make the default Friends. (Not Public.)

You can change this for every status update if you want, and specify that any given update be made visible only to a particular list of friends. If you want to devote the time to it, you can structure a system that will result in some of your “friends” seeing absolutely nothing you post.

3. Just don’t say anything stupid! Frankly, I am not interested in such a granular approach to picking and choosing the audience for every Facebook utterance.

A more efficient strategy: Permanently limit your audience to friends, and just don’t say anything on Facebook that would be harmful to you or anyone else if the entire Internet ended up seeing it. Do not complain about your job, do not trash acquaintances, do not make off-color remarks.

If you want to say something genuinely private, don’t say it on Facebook.

4. Avoid arguments. What’s that? Someone is wrong on the Internet? Ignore it. Do not weigh in with a snarky rebuttal. You will not win the argument; you will escalate it. People will get emotional. Stupid things will be said.

Sure, you think it’s your moral duty to correct an erroneous analysis of Obamacare. But guess what? You are not Batman! So just pretend you didn’t see it, and let somebody else step in and stoke a pointless flame war.

5. Don’t overshare with Facebook itself. Facebook has many, many questions for me: Where did I grow up, what are my favorite bands and movies, and so on.

My friends do not have these questions. Those who care to know are quite aware of where I grew up, and even those who don’t care have heard me go on about The Kinks and Stranger Than Paradise. There’s really no logical reason to disclose this sort of thing unless you are, in fact, somehow attempting to send signals that attract more “friends” who don’t actually know you. (In which case, you can hardly complain about having friends you don’t really know!)

Just ignore all that. Facebook really wants to know more about you because that helps its advertising business target better. And I don’t particularly care how Facebook wants me to use Facebook. Do you?

8 Big Questions About Google’s Self-Driving Car Thursday, May 29 2014 

Martin’s Thoughts:  Something like this is in our future.  Like the very first gasoline cars in the 1890s and early 1900s, this will look very strange and primitive in about 100 years when  internet connected self controlled cars are commonplace.

 

 

BY SAMANTHA MURPHY KELLY

Google on Tuesday unveiled the design of its self-driving car prototype, a pint-sized two-seater with no steering wheel, no brake pedal and a big “stop” button. The car has a curious design (exact dimensions are still unknown) and even has a smiley face on its front exterior.

In a demo video released by the company, a mother details how she can catch up with her son in the car without keeping both eyes on the road, and a couple discusses how safe they feel when the vehicle slows at curves and speeds up at the right time. There’s space enough for two people and a dog to sit up front. The vehicle can go up to 25 miles per hour for now, but Google says it will eventually hit significantly higher speeds.

Google’s car is expected to hit the market by 2020, almost 15 years after the company first started the driverless vehicle project. More recently, it’s been testing the cars on the streets of San Francisco.

SEE ALSO: See How Google’s Self-Driving Car Navigates City Streets

While it’s up for debate if automated driving will truly take off, it will unquestionably usher in a host of new issues, everything from safety issues and traffic laws to accident liability and potential hacking. Here’s a look at some of the bigger ones worth addressing:

Why would you want a self-driving car?

These sensor-filled vehicles have been programmed to make driving decisions based on what’s happening around them in real time, such as slowing down for jaywalking pedestrians, watching for cars that sneak out of hidden driveways and looking for cyclists making gestures that indicate a possible turn. The cars detect objects out to a distance of more than two football fields in all directions — making it more powerful than the human eye.

Without fallible humans behind the wheel, these cars could have a profound influence on improving road safety.

“The primary advantage here is that it could have a huge impact on safety,” said Joshua Schank, of the Washington-based nonprofit Eno Center for Transportation. “People are not great at driving — 30,000 people die in car accidents each year. Machines can be much better than humans when it comes to driving; they don’t drink or text and can think faster.”

In addition to the potential for reducing crashes, self-driving cars could ease congestion, improve fuel economy, reduce parking needs and bring mobility to those who are unable to drive.
Vehicle-Prototype-Image-Banner-Cropped-600px

 

 

 

Who would use it?

There are use case scenarios for everyone. Not only could the self-driving car streamline commutes — from the grocery store and the office to long road trips — but it could also help transport the elderly, kids and the blind. Taxi and bus companies could also utilize the technology and bring individualized transportation to non-car owners.

What will it cost?

It’s unknown how much a self-driving car would cost, but like with any form of new technology, it will be high: “You could have the greatest technology in the world, but if it’s not affordable, no one will be able to enjoy it,” Schank said.

Will consumers feel safe?

In order for the Google self-driving car to really hit the mainstream, not only does the technology need to be perfected, it has to win over consumer trust. Google’s demo video shows passengers very pleased with the experience — early testers have called it relaxing, while others likened it to a tram-ride you’d find at Disney World.

 

 

 

Perhaps it’s the type of thing each person has to see and experience in person before deciding if it would fit their lifestyle.

But according to a recent study conducted by Seapine Software in February among 2,000 U.S. adults, about 88% said they would be concerned about riding in a driverless car — most of which worried the equipment could fail, such as a braking software glitch or a failed warning sensor that alerts the driver of danger.

“We found, not surprisingly, that safety was the number-one concern that survey respondents noted for their reluctance to adopt driverless technology,” said Rick Riccetti, president and CEO of Seapine Software. “That means that until manufacturers — in this case Google — can prove, without a doubt, that their product is free from software glitches or failures there simply won’t be a market for them for the average consumer.”

SEE ALSO: 12 Mysterious Google Maps Sightings

Recent disclosures and recalls related to car safety issues, including the ignition switch recall delay by General Motors, are not helping in the short term either, Ricetti added. While Google has its work cut out for itself, consumers could easily be swayed if safety and efficiency is proven.

Forget carjacking. What about car hacking?

The study also found that 52% of respondents fear a hacker could breach the driverless car’s system and gain control of the vehicle.

“For all the positives, the industry will need to be very alert to the risk of cyber manipulation and attack,” said Wil Rockall, director of KPMG’s cybersecurity team, in an emailed statement. “Self-drive cars will probably work through Internet connectivity and, just as large volumes of electronic traffic can be routed to overwhelm websites, the opportunity for self-drive traffic being routed to create ‘spam jams’ or disruption is a very real prospect.”

Although the industry would naturally take safety and security seriously, Google would likely have to create ways to step in if issues occur along the way.

“Overrides could also be built in so that drivers could shut down many of the car’s capabilities if hacked,” Rockall wrote. “That way, humans will still be able to ensure their cars don’t route them on the road to nowhere.”

But Schank of the Eno Center for Transportation said that the ability to hack into individual cars would be extremely difficult.

“You would definitely need a security system in place, but it would be very hard to hack into a number of individual systems,” he said. “You might be able to hack into one, but doing so to many cars would be a big challenge.”

Who’s liable in an accident?

The Eno Center for Transportation believes automated self-driving cars have the potential to dramatically change the transportation network. In a recent white paper that looked at potential impacts and hurdles for transportation professionals and policymakers, it noted that self-driving cars could reduce crashes, ease congestion, improve fuel economy, reduce parking needs and bring mobility to those that are unable to drive. But it also highlighted many concerns, especially in terms of liability.

“When there is a car accident now, it’s relatively easy to sort out who was at fault, but in an autonomous vehicle, the water is murkier,” Schank said.

The issue is similar with the airline industry — if there is a crash now, who is at fault: the pilot? The manufacturer?

“It would be far more difficult to watch over that with every car crash, but then again, if vehicle collisions decline because of this technology, it might not be that big of an issue. We just don’t know yet,” he added.

 

 

 

 

As for getting self-driving cars on the road, some states such as Nevada have already issued permits to do so: “There is certainly an eagerness to adopt automated cars from a regulatory standpoint,” Schank said.

Will everyone want a “cute” car?

And finally, let’s talk design. When the Google car prototype is unveiled in the video, one tester calls it “cute.” The reaction isn’t surprising: coupled with the small size of the vehicle and that smiley face on the front, it is cute. But not everyone wants a cute car.

In a society that prides itself on the style, shape and flexibility of picking a car that fits their personality and needs, the self-driving car — or at least this model — is extremely limiting. The concept itself embodies the coolness of future but in a nerdy form factor.

SEE ALSO: Google’s Self-Driving Car Looks Rather Familiar

It’s the same complaint many have given the high-tech Google Glass: neat in theory but geeky on the face. Just like Glass, perhaps the car will eventually come in different shapes and sizes.

Who are Google’s partners?

It’s unclear as of right now who Google has partnered with to built the car, but one thing is evident: companies want in.

Uber cofounder and CEO Travis Kalanick said during the Re/Code conference on Wednesday in San Francisco that he sees practical use for Google’s self-driving cars in Uber’s business.

“The magic [of a self-driving uber car] is, the reason Uber could be expensive is because you’re paying for the other dude in the car [the driver],” Kalanick said. “When there isn’t another dude in the car, the cost for taking a road trip becomes cheaper.”

Google has not yet responded to a request for comment on any of the unanswered questions mentioned in this story.

 

 

 

Google Unveils Self-Driving Car Prototype Wednesday, May 28 2014 

Martins’ comments:

This is a great idea!  Been waiting for something like this since  I watched the Jetsons cartoon as a kid. I will buy one when the price becomes affordable, the flying option is available and the bugs have been worked out of the design.

Google Unveils Self-Driving Car Prototype

RANCHO PALOS VERDES, Calif. — Google has been building self-driving cars for years, but what we’ve seen so far has always been retrofits of existing cars — until now. The search giant unveiled on Tuesday a fully autonomous self-driving car, built from the ground up by Google and its partners.

Company co-founder Sergey Brin revealed his plans at Recode’s Code Conference in southern California. He told Recode editors Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher (who has ridden in the car), that there’s a safety benefit in a custom-built self-driving car. Because the car doesn’t have a steering wheel, accelerator or brakes, it has more sensors in strategic spots than is possible in a regular vehicle. It is also equipped with a big “stop” button. In addition to all this tech, Google’s autonomous car includes internal power steering and power brakes.

“It was inspiring to start with a blank sheet of paper and ask, ‘What should be different about this kind of vehicle?'” Chris Urmson, director of the Self-Driving Car Project, wrote in a blog post about the new car.

 Vehicle-Prototype-Image-Banner-Cropped-600px

Swisher said riding in the all-electric car was like going on a Disney ride. Considering it currently has a maximum speed of roughly 25 mph, this makes sense. Brin described riding in the car, which in one test was programmed via smartphone, as “relaxing,” and similar to catching a chairlift. He added that the car will eventually go up to 100 mph once it’s proven to be able to travel safely at that speed.

As for when the cars — which are significantly smaller than traditional cars and include couch-like seating — might actually make it to real highways, Brin said Google will soon test them with drivers. “Within a couple of years, we’ll — if we’ve passed the safety metrics we’ve put in place, which is to be significantly safer than a human driver … have them on the road,” he said.

 

 

by Lance Ulanoff

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