Categories
Fun Media

Fun With Faces

If you are looking for a little light entertainment on the web this week I may have a couple of sites for you. Both are related to the way you look, and at how others look at you, and you can participate too.

The first site is called All Look Same. The site contains a type of quiz. You are shown photos of people, places, art etc and you have to decide whether they are from China, Japan of Korea. At the end of the test you are given your result with the appropriate advice regarding learning about other cultures.

The exam room contains 8 different categories, from food to architecture, urban scenery, traditional architecture and modern art, but the really fun one is faces. Can you tell the difference between a Japanese face and that of a person from Korea? Take the test to find out.

Korean, Japanese or Chinese?
Korean, Japanese or Chinese?

There are also a couple of sections of holiday photos that really give a run out to your perception neurons.

The second website is somewhat related as it too deals with faces. The Facity site grew out of a project based in Berlin and Tel Aviv, and now covers a multitude of cities. The idea is simple, a series of photos of faces from an individual city, so why not play a game with your friends, show them a page of faces and try to guess the city.

First you can play with your friends, and then why not participate? There are specifications for the photos but the only rule about joining in is that you must live in the city in question, and there are already 100 cities involved.

The list of cities is interesting because it really shows how communication takes place. The faces tend to be clustered, as I presume groups of friends get together and take the photos and then upload them. Milan has hundreds, as do Berlin and Istanbul, but London only has one, miles behind the mighty city of Robbinsville in New Jersey and Targu Mures in Romania.

Faces of women
Average faces for women around the world

Check out the average face section too, as in the photo above of average women’s faces created through a process of comparing single points in many photos, an interesting project I would say.

So why not add your own? Tell them that Technology Bloggers sent you.

Categories
Business How To Guides Technology

Utilising technology to its full business potential

There is no doubt about it. Technology has greatly enhanced how we carry out our businesses today. It’s just one of the beauties of the information age and for this, most of us cannot but thank modern communication technology for the opportunity to work and connect with the whole wide world!

But, think about this…

Is technology really a blessing to your business or you have become so obsessed with it that it has become a curse?

Have you become so engrossed and mesmerized by the tools of information technology that you have quickly forgotten why you bought them in the first place?

Have you forgotten that those tools were to leverage your time and help grow your business?

It’s really unfortunate that many online business entrepreneurs unintentionally have allowed modern technology gadgets and tools to suck the time out of their lives and add needless overhead to their businesses.

As a fellow web entrepreneur interested in your business success, I want to use this article to give you some basic tips on how you can truly make modern day technology a blessing in your online business. My desire is to ensure that you make every cent you will ever spend on your business count. Of course, this may not agree with many but that doesn’t really matter as long as you are able to gain with it. And so, I invite you to read this article all through.

A Japanese and a Texan story

The Story of the Japanese and the Texan

I don’t know if you have heard this story before, but I must say it is one that has a lot of lessons for us as regards what we want to discuss in this article. The story is about a Japanese man and a Texan who were passing through customs at an airport. The Japanese man was said to have with him two large suitcases and the Texan wanting to play the Good Samaritan, offered to help the Japanese move the suitcases toward the customs officers. Just as he was doing this, the Japanese man’s wristwatch started beeping and the man listened to the message and talked through a miniature speaker on the telephone in the wristwatch.

The Texan was amazed and right there offered to purchase the watch for $5,000. But the Japanese declined, saying the watch was not for sale.

The Texan now more interested in the Japanese man continued helping the man to push his heavy bags forward. A few seconds later the watch beeped again and this time the Japanese man opened the watch to receive an email message and then replied same using a small computer contained in the watch. The Texan, awestruck, again offered to purchase the watch but this time for $25,000.

“The watch is not for sale,” the Japanese man again replied.

Now, the Texan could not take the thought of the watch from his mind. To him that wristwatch is just want he wanted right now! And, then as he again helped push the enormous bags forward the watch beeped a third time. This time a long fax came out. The Texan, now more determined to own that watch, offered to purchase it for $300,000.

At this, the Japanese man turned to him and asked if he had the money there. The Texan quickly and eagerly wrote out a check for him. The Japanese man processed the check on the watch and then transferred the money into his Swiss bank account. After this, he took off the watch and handed it to the Texan and walked away.

As he was walking away the Texan realized that the Japanese man had left the enormous bags behind. Turning around he called out to him, “you’re forgetting your bags.”

“Those are not my bags,” the Japanese man shouted back. “They’re the batteries for your watch!”

Lol!

Alright, so how does this story relate to what I want to discuss with you here?

In many ways! Actually the moral of the story is that the Texan got caught on the wrong side of information technology! And so, my point here is that you should be careful that you don’t fall into the same trap.

To help you avoid this trap here a few tips on how you can make technology to work maximally for your online business.

building a successful online business

1. Don’t Invest Your Time Or Money Except If It Adds Value

Every day new and enticing tools and software are being pushed into the market. You must beware that you’re not drawn by them. If you allow yourself to be obsessed or mesmerized, you will end up with gadgets that are nothing but fanciful toys.

Before investing your resources in any tool of technology, ask yourself if it will increase sales, help lower overhead or help in your business effectiveness. If any gadget fails in any of these areas then do not invest your time or money in it.

2. Do Not Become A Slave Of Technology

Many online entrepreneurs have allowed themselves to become slaves of online tools. I’m sure you are very much aware of the distractions we all face every day on the net. Online media, online games, online chatting etc, have become an obsession for many.

As an entrepreneur, you must understand that your time is valuable. You must therefore learn to master these tools so that they do not sabotage your productivity. If possible find ways of automating the use of these tools.

3. Use Inexpensive But Smart Tools Whenever Possible

Why rush to get any technological tool or gadget that hit the market? Do not be deceived, that tool may be the latest right now but with the rate these tools are being turned out, that latest gadget may just be obsolete even before you learn to enjoy its full potentials.

The solution? Decide on what you want done in your business and then go for the tools that will help you with that. The good thing is that there are smart tools that you can pick up online that will help you save both money and time and possibly increase your effectiveness.

4. If You Must Buy It Then Use It To The Fullest

This flows from #3 above. One thing that is clear is that most technological gadgets today can actually perform a whole lot of things. If you must invest your money and time on any of these, then learn to use it to the fullest. There are a hundred and one places online where you can learn about using these tools. There are free tutorials you can access online. Also blogs like the Technology Bloggers, can be of great help.

5. Don’t Get It Before You Need It

As an internet marketer I think I’m progressing in error here but I think your success as an entrepreneur is more important to me than any form of monetary gain.

If you’re subscribed to internet marketing newsletters or you spend a considerable time surfing the net, you will understand that every day new tools and “push button” software are being pushed at us left, right and center by smart internet marketers.

If you’re not focused, you’ll be tempted to believe that if you don’t own that latest tool or software, the world will just be passing you by!

But instead of falling into this trap, ask yourself if you indeed need that tool right now. If not don’t go for it. When you truly do need it, the right tool, and maybe something better, will be available for you!

Conclusion

In a rapidly changing world, technology is essential to effectively compete as a business however, not every tool of technology is worth your time. Spending your time and finance on technology for its sake, will end up as a curse instead of a blessing. Be disciplined and master your use of online tools and gadgets if you want your business to greatly benefit with the latest push button technology.

Over to You: Have you ever invested in a tool or gadget that you later regretted? Are you an online entrepreneur? How are you maximizing your use of technology for your online business? Share your experience with us in the comments below.

Categories
Fun Internet News

JibJab’s 2011 year review

As Christmas is just around the corner, I am trying to write more light hearted, fun posts, to try to get everyone in the festive spirit.

At the end of every year, JibJab publish their take on the year, in the form of a (usually very funny) video. The video tries to stuff as much news and humour into about two minutes as it possible can.

JibJab's LogoThe 2011 video has just been released, so I thought I would share it around 🙂

You have to watch the video three or four times to see how much they have included, as they really do put so much in!

This year gives mention to the Arab Spring, the collapse of the News of the World, the anti-capitalist protests, the London riots, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Americas loss of its AAA credit rating, Japan’s earthquake and tsunami, Rebecca Black, Justin Bieber, the Royal Wedding, Steve Jobs and so much more!

Here for your enjoyment is JibJab’s 2011 year review, called 2011 Buh-Bye!

%CODEYOUTUBEJIBJAB2011%

Good video isn’t it 🙂

What’s your take on the year? What have JibJab missed out, that probably should have been included?


If you really enjoyed that, head over to the JibJab originals page for more year reviews and fun 🙂

Categories
Apps Reviews

Learn Japanese from your iPhone

The other day, I was thinking of enrolling for a crash course in Japanese when my friend, Gina, recommended an app which she said was as good as having a personal tutor. On her advice, I downloaded the Japanese Phrases iPhone app and found it to be a handy application that helps users sharpen their listening, pronunciation, reading and speaking skills. It lets you learn conversational Nihongo (the Japanese lingo) wherever you are – at school, at home, while commuting to office or at the gym.

The Japanese Phrases app is more than just a learning resource. It gives users adequate training and practice to pick up a language that is not their own. The app teaches the basics of the language through more than 700 words and phrases that are used in day-to-day conversations.

Japanese Phrases iPhone App Screenshot

It is a practical app that has the right tools to facilitate easy comprehension and retention. As the phrases are voiced by a native speaker, users learn them with the correct pronunciation. And by repeating the phrases continuously, it becomes easy to memorize them. As all the phrases are displayed as flashcards, learning the language is quick and interactive. The grammar lessons are interesting and I was able to grasp the concepts almost instantly although a little effort was needed. There is also an email option that helps users to mail phrases and I used it to get a few clarifications from Sun, my friend who introduced this app to me in the first place.

I like the idea of displaying phrases and words in a random manner as it helps me recall the familiar ones and learn the new ones as well. The study bank helps in saving favourite phrases or ones that you would like to refer to later. The phrases are categorized to make learning easy. Japanese Phrases has also a search tool that helps in looking up phrases both in Japanese and English.

This app helps you learn the language at your own pace. You can quiz yourself to find out about the progress you are making, The app eliminated all the apprehension I had about learning a foreign language. It made me feel confident and helped me build my Japanese vocabulary in no time.

All said and done, this app will attract only a few people as it caters to a very niche audience. The app is available in the Apple iTunes store and can be downloaded for free.

Categories
News Science

Get ready to rewrite the laws of physics!

At the end of last week the news broke that scientists at Cern believed they had managed to send subatomic particles faster than the speed of light! This was big science news, and potentially big technology news in the future, however I choose not to write about the discovery straight away, as I wanted to find out as much as I could before reporting back to you.

What happened?

So what basically happened last week was that scientists in Cern (Switzerland) who have been blasting neutrinos (subatomic particles) 732km all the way to Gran Sasso (Italy) for a good few years now, collated all their data, and found that it would actually appear that the neutrinos arrived at Gran Sasso when light was still 18m away Basically the neutrinos raced light 732km and won by 0.00000006 seconds –  or as you could also say, 60 nanoseconds.

Is this true?

Scientists at Cern would tell you that their research has been checked and double checked, therefore what they have found out is true as they can’t seem to find a flaw in the research. However at the same time, almost any good physicist, and no doubt scientist working on the project would tell you that it can’t be true and that a variable must have been overlooked, as the results are impossible!


To verify the findings, two similar projects one in Hida (Japan) and the other in Chicago (USA) are attempting to recreate the experiment, and should have reliable enough results, hopefully, by some time next year.

Why is this important that the neutrinos travelled faster than the speed of light?

Einstein said that it was impossible to travel faster than the speed of light. If you like, light was the universal speed limit, no faster could anything ever go than light, you could go as fast, but not faster. This would mean that to get to the sun, (not that you would want to) the quickest you could ever do it would be in 8 minutes and 12 seconds.

The Sun
It takes around 8 minutes and 12 seconds for the light from the sun to reach earth

If the results from this experiment are correct, with some extra thrust, it would be possible for the neutrinos to get there even faster than light could.

How have they ‘broken the speed limit’?

You may be wondering how the neutrinos managed to get to Gran Sasso faster than light, and as are many scientists! There are two main theories of how they did it at the moment.

The first theory is that the speed of the neutrinos was so great they were simply able to travel faster than light.

The second, much more interesting theory is that the neutrinos didn’t exceed the speed of light, but instead dimension jumped! This means that they probably didn’t travel faster than the speed of light, just used another dimension to get from Cern to Gran Sasso.

The Doctor's TARDIS
The Doctor’s TARDIS (from Doctor Who) travels in time and space, this is only possible if you can either go faster then the speed of light, or jump dimensions

Physicist Brian Cox has an excellent explanation of how this could potentially work. When talking about extra dimensions he has said that:

“…if they are right, then things can take short cuts through the extra dimensions. It’s just like saying there is a speed limit that stops you going, lets say you go from London to Sidney, so you fly around the earth from London to Sidney, but the other way to do it, is go through digging a big tunnel, straight through the earth and that’s a shortcut. So in some ways, extra dimensions can behave like that, so what could be happening is the neutrinos could be taking a shortcut thorough another dimension.”

If this were right, then Einstein’s theory of special relativity wouldn’t be violated, just only valid in three dimensions.

What next?

The data is now out there on the net, for all scientists to analyse. Also, there are many places that are going to try and replicate the stud, to prove or disprove the results.

Hopefully we will have some more news soon, as to whether we actually can get things to travel faster than the speed of light, and as to whether there are are more than three (four including time) dimensions!

Anyone else slightly excited by this? 😀

Categories
Business Technology

Barcoding – a history and the future

Many youngsters these days are not aware of how recent barcoding technology actually is. In the 1970’s a mere forty odd years ago, it would have been a rarity to see a barcode – anywhere.

Before the barcode, retail was not nearly as efficient as it currently is. Often, till assistants would have to memorise the price of every product in the shop, or products would be individually priced. Furthermore, it was almost impossible to keep tabs on stock levels in real time.

Barcodes revolutionised industry.

Barcoding in retail

Now when you pick an item and take it to the till, a barcode is scanned. The till is linked to a central database where all the barcodes for that shop (or even the entire shop chain) are stored. Information on the price of the product, the stock of the product and usually a description and or image of the product, is all stored in relation to the barcode. Upon scanning, the price is retrieved from the database and one unit is deducted form the shops stock list.

Barcoding makes it easy to increase prices and to reorder stock, that way if something has high demand and is selling fast, more orders can (sometimes electronically) placed and the store can consider raising the price.

Barcoding in car production

Barcodes are also used in many other areas, one example being car production. In car production, each car will be given a barcode. That barcode will often contain information such as the type of car that is to be made, how the car is to be styled, what colour the car is to be pained etc.

Parts that have been made for that car will often also be associated with the same barcode, to ensure that every bit gets to the right car.

The classic barcode is the one with lots of vertical lines, each of different thickness. Below is an example of a classic barcode.

A Random Classic BarcodeDespite the classic barcodes uses, many people believe that the future of barcoding lies with QR codes.

QR Codes

QR codes are like barcodes in that they are all unique, however the image itself can actually store some information. QR codes are common in Japan, however they are slowly making their way westward, and and not uncommon in Europe now.

If you go to your fridge or a cupboard and pick up half a dozen items, the chances are at least one of them will have a QR code. I found one on some cheese the other day 🙂

QR Code‘ stands for ‘Quick Response Code‘ as they can quickly retrieve information, just by decoding the pixels in the QR code/image.

QR Codes are basically a code (durr) containing some form of information, be it text, a URL, etc. When you run the image through a QR decoder, it will work out what data is stored in the image.

Confused? Okay, let me give you an example. Below is a QR code image. If run the image through a smart phone QR decoder or an online QR decoder, you should find that it contains the information ‘www.TechnologyBloggers.org’. Why not try it out?

Technology Bloggers QR Code
When decoded this QR Code says 'www.TechnologyBloggers.org'


That information is stored in the actual image, and there is no need for you to connect to a database. That is why many people believe that they are the future of barcoding, as a barcode stores no actual data in the lines, just a reference to a counterpart on a database.

QR codes could store the name of a product and the price on that actual barcode image – although to deduct stock, they would need to be linked into the stock database.

In many countries, QR codes are being used in advertisements, and in some places, that are being used as the actual advert. This is to try and encourage people to decode the image and find out what it means.

So what do you think, are QR codes the future of barcoding? Could they both coexist, or will one emerge on top? What is your opinion of QR codes?

Over to you 🙂

Categories
Business News

What happens in Japan stays in Japan?

Some say that despite Japan being the third largest economy in the world, what happens in Japan, usually stays in Japan. After the recent Tsunami, this seemed to be the case, initially.

However now that most of the countries industry has shut down, the effects are really being felt around the world. Why? Well, Japan is a major exporter of electrical and motorised goods – after all companies like Honda and Sony are based there.

A Busy Japanese Street - Representative of the Japanese EconomyOften the Japanese factories make some of the parts and then the final goods are assembled closer to where they are going to be sold. This is great as it increases capacity due to specialisation, but it does have it’s problems too.

Due to the Japanese parts of such businesses currently being shut down, the entire supply chain for such goods has ground to a halt, as nobody can get the parts they need out of Japan.


Around the world Japanese firms are shutting down their plants, due to a lack of parts. Toyota are actually now withdrawing their UK operations due to the Tsunami – among other things.

Japanese Car Logos
The logos of well known Japanese cars

Sony are in a similar situation, as their firm is considering a complete shut down for 2 weeks due to power shortages. No doubt other firms like Panasonic, Nissan and Fujitsu wont be far behind too.

It looks like the shifting of a few tectonic plates might have caused a lot more than a devastating earthquake and tsunami, but also a slowdown in the global tech industry – leading to a large loss of jobs worldwide 🙁

What are your views on this, will the world really struggle without Japan?