Thursday, November 15, 2012
Thursday, November 3, 2011
There is no question that technology is starting to put an end to certain products and services. Everything now a days is digital, a huge decline in the use of paper. In this new digital age that we are in, even mail is starting to decline. I believe many companies are trying to switch their mail systems to save time and money, and avoid losing important documents in the mail. Instead companies can use e-mail, they can pay their bills online, or they can use a service like the one that the Deutsche Post office is starting to provide.
The Deutsche Post office has sold off all but 24 of 29,000 post office buildings in the past 15 years. The German postal service is now located in banks, convenience stores, and even private homes. I think it is amazing to think about not having any more post offices. I consider myself a young kid, and remember growing up and being in the car with my mom when she ran errands. It just seemed like we would always make a stop at the local post office. It is hard to imagine their being no postal service, which could eventually happen if we continue to move towards only using online technology. Mail volume is declining one to two percent annually in many countries. Due to this, the United States Postal Service is looking for business restructuring. Post offices around the country are being closed because of new online mail technologies.
In a way, I can see this also as a good thing. With new information systems that allow you to open up you digital mailbox through the post office online, it would be more convenient to open your mail right online. Another system is customers can tell the post office what mail they actually want delivered to them. This saves paper, prevents junk mail that would just be thrown out, and saves time you spend going through the mail. I think it is a good idea, but perhaps is just making us more lazy.
Well some of you maybe wondering, what about stamps? People are always going to buy stamps. The truth is stamps are becoming more available at local stores. I also like a new information system that Deutsche Post office is developing. The German people can use this new information system that is being developed to buy digital stamps right from their phones through the Deutsche Post office website. This makes things easier for people who now do not have to go out of their way to a post office just to buy a stamp to mail their stuff.
The article also mentioned more on virtual mailboxes and how they can organize years of billing. I think this would be very helpful to businesses and could really help with the accounting side of business. Accountants often have to go through tons of statements and having an organized billing record could save time and money for the company by using this virtual mailbox technology. Overall, these new information services have improved customer satisfaction, have saved money, and have helped go green by cutting back on paper usage.
Kindle has yet again tried to put itself out there to become the best electronic book reader. As of today, Amazon.com will now allow all Kindle users to rent one book per month. In order for customers to be able to access this free one book per month, they must pay to be on Amazon.com’s premium list. This will cost seventy nine dollars a month and along with the free book rental, they will receive free two day shipping for all things sent from Amazon.com and be able to stream movies online.
To me, this does not seem like it will be successful. Will people really pay seventy nine dollars a year just to be able to rent one book per month on their Kindle? According to the Washington Post, the six biggest book publishers are not participating. This is because the book publishers and Amazon can not agree on whom gets to set the retail price of the books. This means that some of the most popular books out there will not be available for rental. Along with this, the new rental program only works for the Kindle device itself. People who have paid for the Kindle application on their computers, cellular phones, iPads, and other tablet devices will not be able to rent books at all.
To me, this new idea seems like it has too many negatives to work and be successful. Seventy nine dollars a year for the ability to rent only one book per month does not seem worth it, especially when the most popular books won’t be avaiable. When I read the article, the first thought that popped into my mind was, “why don’t people just go and rent their books at their local libraries?” Kindle seems to be charging way too much money for an extremely simple idea. The fact that it doesn’t work for anyone who purchased the Kindle application also seems extremely ridiculous. Someone who owns a tablet will not want to spend the money on a Kindle and this new idea definitely does not push these potential customers in the right direction. Instead, I feel that this new product pushes customers away from Kindle and towards other products. It just seems ridiculous to me that customers have to pay so much only for the ability to purchase average books. I am not persuaded at all by this new offer to buy a Kindle and even if I did have one, I would in no way be persuaded to purchase this new product.
With the economy being as poor as it is, it seems now that Kindle devices are purely a luxery and not a convienence. Yes, the idea is cool. People have the ability to purchase any book and have a personal collection on one single device, like music on your iPod, but everything just seems too expensive. The newest version of the Kindle, the Kindle Fire, costs almost two hundred dollars itself. The normal, middle class citizen will not be willing to purchase the device, and then buy books to read, and then pay another fee in order to rent one book per month. These people will just be driven back to hard copies of books until someone can offer their product for a reasonable price.
Do you ever wonder how maps, globes, reports are made or even how the meteorologist can predict what the weather is going to be in the future? Well they do not just guess, they use computers and Geographic Information Systems (GIS). A geographic information system combines “hardware, software, and data for capturing, managing, analyzing, and displaying all forms of geographically referenced information.” GIS are important and helpful because they let people to understand, question, view, interpret and visualize information in various ways that can later show patterns, trends or relationships in the form of charts, globes, maps, and reports.
A GIS uses computers and software to explore the fundamental principle of geography-that location is important to people’s lives. GIS is used to inventory, analyze, and manage many aspects of the world. GIS helps with coordinating electricity to houses, road signs on highways, and many of the maps online. GIS is incorporated with our everyday lives, but we are so accustomed to it that we do not even realize it.
People use maps for not only directional purposes, but also for examining other features. Many people are using GIS because it had added and shown real business value, or in other words, it has shown a real return on investment. Popular users of GIS are businesses, government, education and sciences, environmental management and conservation, natural resources, and utilities. Each of these companies or entities are using GIS for tactical and analytical purposes. What makes GIS a great resource is that each entity can specialize and create or develop their own type of GIS in which they incorporate the details or features that they feel will be most helpful to themselves or their customers. An example of someone who would use a GIS on a regular basis is a meteorologist. A meteorologist uses a GIS is to map out weather conditions and try to make patterns. When mapping out weather conditions, you may decide to map hurricane patterns. The benefit for mapping hurricane conditions is not only for the meteorologist, but also for the many citizens and residents to the areas that are highly affected. Using a GIS helps to develop and make patterns of past behavior and more importantly, predict where and when they might occur in the future.
A major company that uses GIS is Google Earth. Many people use Google Earth to look at different places around the world and see different trends tracked around the globe. But now Google Earth has added a new feature in which their customers can import their GIS data into Google Earth and can then use it as a part of their own visualizations. It was a very smart move for Google Earth to incorporate the personal aspect of importing personal geographic information systems data because that is going to draw more people to use their services and the website. By incorporating your own GIS with Google Earth, it helps individuals answer questions and solve problems by looking at their your own data in a way that is quickly understood and easily shared with others.
I truly think that using geographic information systems in businesses and for the government is extremely smart and useful because it is easy to understand and use. Many people can refer to a company’s website and select the features that they want to look into and are presented their information in a clear and understandable way. Not to mention that presenting data or information in the form of a map is a much faster way of presenting information. Users want information and they want it fast. The fastest way to give information is by presenting it in a map, chart, or another visual model. GIS has helped many companies save time and money.
Sources, Sites, and Videos:
http://earth.google.com/outreach/tutorials.html (create your own)
Cutting costs for business owners is a main priority and trimming the fat from the budget can come from many different areas. Green technology has blown up in the past few years and has become a major ethical and financial point for companies who want to save money and protect the environment. Hundreds of companies from every financial sector such as Intel, Kohls, and Whole Foods have already implemented environmentally friendly cost reduction processes that have boosted their sales and cut their operating costs.
Real estate company Prudential Fox and Roach have made use of emerging Green initiatives by implementing a new type of printing technology. When looked at from a narrow scope, changing a printing technology seems to be a waste of time and resources. Yet, when the economic and environmental impacts of massive paper and ink cartridge waste were accounted for in the company’s books the “waste of time and resources” becomes in actuality a huge part of wasted revenue.
In the begging of last year, Prudential Fox and Roach reached out to a document-consulting firm, Docusense, to research and monitor the areas in which they could cut back their costs and carbon footprint on earth. Soon thereafter the company was fitted with a Managed Print Service technology. This system replaced not only physical printers but also added new software that made printing more efficient by using less paper and ink. The printers were fitted with solid ink technology that uses a stable block of ink, much like a crayon, that eliminates the need for scrap plastic and metal cartridges used with a traditional laser ink printer. This change alone saved Prudential Fox and Roach almost ninety percent of the waste that was formed by using laser printers. By implementing the Green technology with printers, the company indirectly saved fossil fuel consumption as well. Each individual ink toner cartridge that is used in laser printers requires three quarts of oil per production. By cutting out the use of this entirely, Prudential Fox and Roach saved five thousand gallons of petroleum and greatly reduced their carbon footprint.
Saving the environment in itself is a noble and ethically just move by any company that implements a Green Technology system but in the case of a real estate company one may ask why it is even relevant. After starting their new printing technology, Prudential Fox and Roach reported an operating cost savings of one million two hundred thousand dollars over the next three years of its use. That’s over four hundred thousand dollars of recycled revenue that can now be used by the company itself, all from changing the ink cartridges in printers and managing the printing through software.
With 2012 right around the corner, and phones becoming thinner than ever, the excitement of new phone possibilities is only going to grow. Having to wait for future’s time to pass may be one of the most difficult, but well rewarding tasks for phone enthusiast and customers every. Setting our sights on the futuristic phones that lay right around the corner truly makes one wonder just how far we’ve come from the antenna raising days of the 90s, and how far we have yet to go.
New Algorithm Speeds up MRI Scans
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanners are used daily by doctors to produce images of a person’s body, organs, and structure. These images are examined to find problems such as internal bleeding, tumors, infections, cancer and many other harmful things that can’t be diagnosed by from looking at a person’s exterior. MRI scanners use radio waves and magnetic fields to create multiple images of the body. Although these scans are very useful, patients need to lie inside the MRI machine for about 45 minutes without moving. Researchers, scientists, and engineers from MIT’s Research Laboratory of Electronics have developed an algorithm that will cut this time down to only 15 minutes.
An Algorithm is an “artificial intelligence system that mimics the evolutionary, survival-of-the-fittest process to generate increasingly better solutions to a problem (Hagg 111).” This new algorithm will allow for quicker scans by using previous scans as a starting point for new scans. This allows the scan to be based of something, rather than starting with nothing. The difficulty in creating this algorithm is determining what information from the scan will be useful for following scans. By having an outline to work from, the algorithm will make the scans run for less time. A simple example to this complex algorithm would be writing a paper. If you make an outline that you follow every time you write a paper, your paper will be completed quicker and more efficiently. If you dive into the paper without a foundation, it will take longer and will probably be unorganized.
Algorithms are optimizing systems in the sense that they use various inputs to generate optimal outputs for a given task. Unlike writing a paper, an algorithm for such important and high tech MRI scanners is extremely complex. Elfar Adalsteinsson, an associate professor of electrical engineering, explained, “If the machine is taking a scan of your brain, your head won't move from one image to the next, so if scan number two already knows where your head is, then it won't take as long to produce the image as when the data had to be acquired from scratch for the first scan (Medical News Today).” The algorithm will take inputs from the first scan to create boundaries for the next. It determines all the next information it will need to use to create the next image, and then examines what prior information can be used.
MIT’s researchers will need to strive towards tweaking this algorithm to make it as efficient as the 45-minute scans are. The MIT team said that by making MRI’s quicker, they are losing some quality. This is because they don’t want the scan to gather too much information from the first scan because it could lose vital and unique information that different scans can pick up. Although people want their MRI’s to be finished 30 minutes earlier, most would prefer a scan that won’t miss crucial information. I think this will be MIT Research team’s biggest obstacle, but by continually working to perfect the algorithm, a 15-minute MRI scan can be available in the near future.
Haag, Stephen, and Maeve Cummings. Management Information Systems for the Information Age. New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin, 2010. Print.
My article for this week focuses on the online service known as Hulu Plus and its competing service, Netflix. This article aims to stress the increasing popularity of Hulu Plus, as it is becoming an added application for many existing technologies in the modern world. This fairly new service called Hulu Plus is one, which allows customers to watch unlimited episodes of their favorite television shows, available by seasons in high definition, anywhere you are. The increasing popularity of Hulu Plus can be beneficial in their competitive marketplace by allowing users another option to watch their favorite TV shows, at a low cost and giving customers the confidence in knowing that Hulu Plus will always provide the episodes they are looking for, and if not the cancellation process is extremely simple.
This new service can be compared to Netflix’s longer and better known service. Netflix users also are given the opportunity to watch the latest television shows they missed as well as rent DVD’s before they are released to the public. At a low rate, Netflix also does not burden their customers with advertisements during their viewing experiences. Hulu Plus, being a service that was introduced after Netflix can be described as a service that is following many informative technological strategies.
Aside from the debate on whether Netflix alone is a better innovative application or Hulu is increasing in popularity and sales, one can examine Hulu Plus and its informative technological strategies it raises. With the introduction of Hulu Plus, customers are given another option to watch their favorite television shows at a low price. Although Hulu is not the only corporation to introduce this new method of watching shows online, they have paved the way for advancements to be made within Hulu. Not only does Hulu Plus convenience customers by allowing them to watch their favorite television seasons, but it also saves them time waiting for their missed shows to re-air on television networks. This strategy provides efficiency and convenience to customers by creating access online for their users. The Internet has become such a key element of technology in the modern world. By creating this program online, Hulu Plus directors validate the statistic that more people are becoming attached to internet-based applications and using their computers more and more frequently then they would a television or any other device. Through the usage of the Internet in this new and improved service, many customers are able to witness the growing IT strategies associated with the Internet and its ability to provide television shows that do not directly require a television set.
By examining the service that Hulu Plus provides for its customers, one can derive many advantages and disadvantages as compared to Netflix, Aside from the IT strategies Hulu Plus brings into the market, one must also consider the costs at which these services provide to their consumers. Hulu and Netflix each charge customers 7.99/month for their services. While Netflix sends actual copies of movies and series shows selected by their viewers, Hulu only allows their customers to take advantage of their online website to watch these shows at their convenience. Netflix, being a company that has been in progress for a longer time period than Hulu Plus, has gained feedback from their customers about their service, giving them direct reasons as to why they are able to attain customer loyalty. Reliability was a key element Netflix stresses, and this was a very good one in the eyes of their consumers. Hulu Plus has not yet gained this customer satisfaction at the same level, which Netflix has. Netflix has been known for its reliability while Hulu was better known for their easy access through the Internet. With Netflix, customers have to wait for their movies to be shipped to them, while other Hulu customers can watch at their convenience as long as they are accessible to a device, which carries Hulu Plus.
All in all, I think that it is important to examine the benefits and advantages of a service before a customer jumps into it. I believe that the IT strategy with the Internet has been a great factor of success for Hulu Plus. Due to its increasing popularity, Hulu Plus has also derived its own applications, which are now accessible on other electronic devices aside from typical computers. These other devices include, iPhones, iPads and Android cell phones. I firmly believe Hulu Plus would not have reached its success level without the strategic minds of all who were involved in creating this new technological service. In correspondence to Netflix, I also believe that a customer should choose their service based on preference, because there are not enough distinguishing characteristics between Netflix and Hulu Plus, which should opt a person to one over the other option.
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Netflix is an American provider of on-demand Internet launching media and flat rate DVDs throughout the United States, Canada, and Latin America. Netflix officially hit the market in 1997 and is headquartered in Los Gatos, California. The beginning of the company's subscription service came in 1999 and by 2009 it was offering a collection of 100,000 titles on DVD and had surpassed 10 million subscribers. A humongous feat indeed but two years later they now face some trouble.
Furthermore, shares within Netflix have plunged a total of fifty-two percent due to its significant price hike. Netflix was at one time Wall Street's favorite momentum tech stock but now if they do not watch out and adapt they are being considered the next AOL. What do they mean when they say Netflix will be the next AOL? People are simply referring to the fact that Netflix is committing the same mistakes AOL did by suddenly jacking prices causing customer satisfaction to completely deteriorate. Along with price increase, identity is starting to play a part in the issues for Netflix. AOL went "all-in" in trying to repaint their image from a basic and boring Internet company to a cool and hip provider. The only problem for Netflix is that they do not know what they want their new image to be. It is hard for a company to make a comeback and reinvent themselves when just the other week they announced they lost 800,000 subscribers from last quarter. Netflix needs to find a way to counteract these price hikes while at the same time providing the movies and show titles the customers want in order for their company to resurrect. I believe such a decline in profit has occurred due to a poor customer relationship management system. If Netflix actually used information about customers to gain insights into their needs and behaviors then they could provide the proper shows and movies with a respected fee for the customers.
Netflix still has a lot going for them even though it is in a bit of a struggle. There are pros and cons to this drastic loss of customers. The cons are certainly numerous considering the amount of money they are losing from so many subscribers leaving, the dissatisfaction of customers, and criticisms. However, this should act as a wake-up call for Netflix and that certainly is a pro. Perhaps it is better that this happened sooner rather than later thus providing Netflix with time to adapt. Times are changing and Netflix needs to realize that. They are a company with high differentiation considering how few companies there are that rival Netflix. For example, look how quickly Netflix ran Blockbuster out of business. With proper focus and dedication I believe Netflix can rebound from this humongous share drop and revive themselves as the powerhouse that they were.
Imagine a city that runs on nothing but what the earth gives to us. This is an extreme possibility now that IBM has scratched the surface with a new technology that uses solar panels with water-cooled servers that run on high-voltage current. The Economic Time reports that this is the first technology that has successfully used solar power on such a big scale for IS. This technology would ultimately save around ten percent of energy costs. This process would really cut some transitions of the energy and in time help conserve mass amounts of it if it can be effective. According to the article it this technology would primarily be for big businesses with energy problems and many servers. It would also be a huge benefit to remote areas of the country where it is expensive to get power to. This technology could take the place of the conventional power lines and ultimately save costs for those remote businesses. The only real downfall to this system would be the cost of the solar panel and water-cooled server system and the solar power if the sun isn’t always present.
This article really struck great interest in me to see where energy technology is headed. Every year it seems some company comes out with a revolutionary new way to save power but most fail due to some complications. However, I can see this project by IBM working and becoming a regular way to power a business. The real eye grabber is exactly how much energy costs will be slashed; approximately ten percent is a lot of energy especially for those companies that use mass amounts of electricity. Now this technology maybe only available in India right but I think when it comes to the United States it can really have a positive impact. Our recession has been so ongoing that this technology could open many doors to possibly saving money and even see us climb out of the recession.
My other theory from this article could be with alternative fuel source. If we can develop technology to power an entire business using water and solar energy then we can use it as a blueprint into an alternative fuel source for transportation. I understand that it could potentially be expensive as this technology is but it would pay for itself in energy saving. This would also save us from burning through all our natural resources and use resources that there are plenty of, the sun and water. If we could harness this technology and use it for the transportation industry in some way even to improve hybrids it would be a step in the right direction. There is a push for all electric cars now and this technology has burned a path that shows us how to use solar technology with water to power entire businesses. The solar power could be used for the energy source of the car and the water could be used to keep the car cool or even serve as a form of oil. I know this sounds farfetched and could never happen however how do we know if wouldn’t change life forever if it wasn’t developed. The minds are out there to do it we just need to put it to action because ultimately we need to start stepping toward a cleaner earth and this new IBM technology maybe the first principle to it.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
As of 2 weeks ago it has become apparent that the U.S. drone fleet’s security system has been compromised. It has not been an issue of controlling or operating the drones themselves but the information reported from and too the drone may have been given too outside sources. The security breach seems to come in the way of a key logger. A typical petty virus that affections hundreds of thousand of computers, but yet can be devastating, as it copies down all movements and strokes made by the infected piece of equipment and returns it to an outside source.
The U.S. government has yet too confirm or deny that classified information has been compromised or even leaked because they alone cant figure out whether or not the systems are indeed infected by a key logger nor if it is returning signals. Too most this can seem quite pathetic, even disturbing that our own military has such little control on such powerful war equipment. But too me this doesn’t surprise me.
Information of that nature and caliber is worth a lot too the right people and with the whole idea that you can only play the defensive its no surprise that things like this are happening. But when you read farther into the articles you learn that information of this stature has been stolen in Iraq by simple programs worth “$26”. Laptops have been discovered with days of drone footage. The systems are obviously vulnerable but what can be done?
I believe that somewhere someone has failed to do there job. If this information cannot be well protected then why collect it? Could it be more of a threat against us if it gets out, than if it weren’t to be collected at all. Could the key logger turn into a virus that causes these things to malfunction possibly taking U.S. lives on our own soil? We should keep in mind though that this is not the only time the U.S. government/military has had these kinds of issues. The Defense Department had thousands of computer infected in 2008. This is still an issue they are trying to clean up.
This can also bring fear to what is close to us. Apple is now launching its ICloud where information can be stored in this “cloud”. Who will be using this? What will it hold? Can this kind of issue start up against the population? A key logger in that sense could be sent to thousands of users and vital and important information could start appearing on the web. The question here is what can be done to prevent information to be leaked. Is there anything?
I do not know and nor have been able to find a solution. Once we put something online it’s no longer ours. It can be stolen; someone else can use it. It may never come off. But too the correct kinds of people it can destroy us. The military’s issue will hopefully be controlled but as time goes on who will win this? Will this continue too happen? Or will there be ways too stay 1 step ahead of those who are trying too stealing this information