Categories
Media Technology

Touchscreen Problems (Zombie Finger)

iPad zombie finger - Touchscreen ProblemsOver the last couple of weeks I have flown from the USA to Britain, then to Italy, and back finally to the USA. I flew on some lovely new Airbus aircraft, but had a constantly recurring problem with the on-board entertainment systems.

The problem is that in the seat above me there is a fantastic touchscreen entertainments system, but my fingers do not work. My son who was sitting next to me has good fingers, he touches the volume section and can turn the sound up or down, but I cannot because the slider does not seem to recognize my body.

So it must be my screen I think, my son leans over and it works perfectly well for him. We swap places, now mine works for him but I still cannot change the volume, this time on a different machine.

It must be me I conclude, but why? Long ago I gave up using anything touchy for this reason. I try licking my hands, warming them up, cleaning the screen but I do not make any progress. So I started looking around the web for some answers to find that I am not the only one, hurrah. There is even a recognized name for the problem in some fields, Zombie Finger!

Touch screens operate in many different ways. At Walker Mobile you can download a free PDF that explains how the different technologies work, but the vast majority of application that we know use one of two approaches. They can be described as Resistive Touch and Projective Capacitance.

Resistive touch is old school analogue. Two surfaces are together, typically one of glass with a thin film over it. You push down on the film and it makes a circuit using a grid of electrical conductors. The system is cheap but being mechanical liable to damage and wear, and it is thick.

Projective Capacitance has no moving parts however, and some of its advantages mean that it is rapidly taking over the market. It is a system that works on capacitance, which is the thing that gives you a shock when you walk over a synthetic carpet and then touch the brass door handle in the hotel that you are staying in.

iPhone touch screen technology
How iPhone touch screens work.

Again there are two layers, both charged but to a different extent. When you touch the screen some of the charge is released into your finger, and this tiny change can be measured. And here lies a variable, because the nail will not carry a charge, gloves stop the action and so I wonder if even the state of the skin at the end of the fingers might effect usability. Do I type too much? No charge transfer means no volume.

For a fuller explanation of these 2 competing systems see this article, it is short but extremely informative. I would just like to know if anyone else has issues with touch screens, and if so if they have been able to address the issue in some way. As technology advances this interface is becoming the norm, and we wouldn’t want to leave people with particular skin types behind now, would we?

Categories
Science Technology

Robotic Surgical Techniques

This weekend I had a very interesting experience. I tried out a few million dollar’s worth of robotic surgery equipment.

The Davinci Robotic Surgery Machine
The da Vinci Robotic Surgery Machine

The system I tried out was designed and built by da Vinci Surgery, and is in use at the Brigham and Women’s hospital here in Massachusetts. The hospital states that over 600 operations have been carried out since 2007 when the technology was introduced without need for further more invasive interventions or serious damage to any patient.

Imagine that you sit in front of a 3 dimensional image and control robotic arms with your own arm and finger movement. The arms are about as thick as pencils, and as there are 4 arms on each robot two surgeons can work together.

The hand controls feature finger grips
Hand controls

The great advantage is that instead of having to make a large cut so that the doctors can get their hands in, the robot makes 5 tiny cuts for the arms to pass through. There is a camera so the surgeons can see inside and they can proceed at a safe distance.

Healing time is cut down, less blood loss, less possibility of infection, less post operative pain and very little scarring, there are many advantages to this type of approach. The machinery is very easy to use. My 7 year old son could take tiny elastic bands off a test bed and place them round objects about the size of the end of my little finger, at a distance of 3 metres!

One issue is however that some people are dubious about a surgeon operating using this type of machinery, they might feel that a hand is better then a robotic arm. Having used one (not on a patient I grant you) I personally would not have any problem accepting a procedure of this type.

Robotic surgery makes us think of computerized machinery with Kraftwerk type movement and voices, but this machinery is nothing of the sort. It handles like an extension of your own body, the movement is very real and precise and in some ways the robotic arm is easier to manipulate than a human counterpart. It can turn 360 degrees upon itself, has full rotation capability and the magnification makes the process seem easier. I was shocked when I saw how small the area was that we were working on.

A training program was also on display, a series of tests to improve performance and present each operator with a score. A skilled operator can tie a knot in a piece of string or link tiny elastic bands together that would be extremely tricky using human fingers.

Below I have a series of photos and here is a link to a video showing an actual procedure so stop reading here and skip straight to the comments section if you don’t want to see them.

A Dummy Up
A dummy shows entrance
Robotic Surgery
Robotic surgery in action
Categories
Smartphones Technology

Will the updates ever stop?

I love the technology industry. It is a really great area to write about, as it is constantly changing. Every day, new technologies and methods are developed and released and there is always something interesting to research.

One thing that I do wonder about though, is the consumers constant need for updates.

The iPhone 5
The iPhone 5

Take the iPhone for example. You can now walk around with a smartphone sat-nav and a global dictionary in your pocket thanks to Apple’s incredible device. There is no doubt that the iPhone is an example of how technology is constantly evolving and changing.

Since mid 2007 when the iPhone was released, there have been five different variations/upgrades of the device released. Six versions of ultimately the same device in the same number of years.

Fair enough, each time their has been a technological upgrade, however can that really be justified?

Technology is a constantly moving and evolving however I am sceptical that consumers always get the best update.

Apple want to sell phones right, so every year (there or thereabouts) they release a new iPhone. Samsung do the same, as do RIM (owner of Blackberry) and most other smartphone manufacturers.

What I am not sure about is that every year there is a significant enough technological upgrade to warrant the release a new device. So how do Apple do it then? How do they roll out a new phone with ‘cutting edge’ new features every year?

It is my belief that some of the technology in the iPhone 5 has been around for a good few number of years now, however Apple have just been holding back on releasing it, so that they can produce more future editions of the phone.

Also, many of the changes are superficial. For example, the screen gets a little bigger, the camera gets an extra few mega-pixels, the storage options increase. All of these updates could have existed in the original iPhone, however it would have meant that there were fewer tweaks Apple could make to the phone in the future. Why not design a good phone now and not release another until there is enough new technology to justify it?

Within three days of the release of the iPhone 5, people around the world had bought over 5 million. Apple shares rose sharply, and the brand received a big boost. It was a great move by Apple, however are they not cheating the consumer?

In around a year I expect Apple will release another iPhone, and most of the technology and developments that it will contain are probably already in existence and ready to use, however Apple will have decided not to put them in the latest iPhone, so that they have something to put in the next release.

Would it not be better if Apple released an iPhone every three years? That way each phone could be a massive technological leap from the last, rather than just a slight upgrade.

I think it would be better, the consumer would get the best technology available at the time, and wouldn’t have to worry about the device being outdated in a few months. But Apple would probably not see as many sales, over the three years, by releasing just one rather than three phones.

What are your thoughts, are the big firms cheating us? Do we really need as many updates as often as we get them, or would bigger less frequent upgrades be better?

Categories
Apps Media

Radar and Speed Camera Apps

20 years ago I worked above a garage in Manchester. The owner was a young man who liked fast cars, but in Britain the roads are monitored with cameras and speed traps making it easy to lose your license through the points deduction system.

My boy racer friend had a solution however, on the rear view mirror he had a radar detection system. These systems were illegal to use, but not to own, so although visible to a passing police officer there was little they could do about it.

20 years on the technology has improved. Now for 6 euros you can download Radardroid, it sits in your smartphone and informs you when you are getting close to a speed camera or radar. This App sends a visual and sonic signal to warn you, so you can slow down and avoid fines and potentially losing your license.

To think it used to be like this!
Modern technology means less places to hide

There are many systems available. Some like Radardroid are openly helping you to avoid abiding by the law, but others market themselves as driver help tools. They let you know when there is a traffic jam ahead, bad weather or a radar by describing them all as ‘risk zones’. These systems have even been endorsed by some European governments and car manufacturing companies are starting to put the technology directly into their cars.

One problem remains however, in some countries the use of this technology is prohibited. Germany and Switzerland enforce bans on such technology, something that was easy with older systems that could be spotted from outside the car. But what about if it sits within your phone. How can a sovereign state stop people driving on their territory with an App in their phone? Will they stop cars that are factory fitted with the technology from crossing their borders?

I doubt that enforcement will be possible, and this highlights just one of the problems of the management of a single market across different sovereign countries. Technology transcends geographic boundaries, as the internet buying of banned products has proved.

And this leads me to my final question, does this mean that people only abide by the law because they think that they might get into trouble if they don’t? What are the ethical implications of the marketing and endorsing of such products? If this process continues many laws will become obsolete as technology finds ways to avoid being caught.

In Italy you have to pay to use the motorways, so you get a ticket when you enter, that you present when you leave and pay. On some motorways they have introduced what they call a tutor. It is old school technology, the ticket has the time you enter stamped on it. When you leave the time is registered again. If you cover more distance than is possible while remaining within the speed limit you get a fine. A simple A to B calculation that has dramatically cut deaths on my local motorway.

If you are interested in reading more about ethics in technological innovation take a look at my work blog.

Categories
Business Gadgets How To Guides

How to safely operate a bring your own device policy

Technology is growing by leaps and bounds and companies of every size are constantly looking for ways to leverage all of the benefits that these technological advances can bring them. It may not be cost effective for companies of any size to jump on every single new technological wonder, even when the price of technology is at an all-time low.

There is a way for companies to benefit from the latest and greatest technological gadgets without having to make any type of monetary investment. Portable devices are making their ways into the hands of people all over the world. Just about everyone has a smartphone, and tablet computers are quickly becoming the norm.

Many companies are choosing to adopt a ‘Bring Your Own Device’ policy in order to take advantage of these technological advances without incurring any type of costs, but there are security risks involved with a Bring Your Own Device Policy. Here are five things that companies can do to ensure their data does not end up in the wrong hands.

Know who is accessing data, and what devices they are using to do it

The very first step towards a successful ‘Bring Your Own Device’ policy is understanding what types of devices are being used to access data. It is also important to understand which employees are accessing which data.

A security audit is a great way for businesses to get a better understanding of exactly what types of devices are being used by employees to access sensitive corporate data. This will help a company determine exactly how to move on to the next step in securing their data in the mobile world.

Decide what data devices can access

The very first conclusion that many companies are jumping to is restricting access to corporate networks via personal devices. This is not the right choice. A security audit should have identified what types of devices are accessing the network.

The next step to properly protect data is to classify it and the networks that are being used to send and retrieve the data. By classifying data, businesses will be able to get a much better look at the areas that need protection, and the areas that do not. Once the data has been classified it will be much easier to see the bigger picture. Companies will be able to set forth a policy that allows certain groups of people access to certain areas of data.

Identify problem apps

Not every app will play nice. Some apps have been known to have huge security vulnerabilities. These apps, without notice to the user can copy and send address lists and personal photos through the corporate network.

The two most popular mobile device operating systems are both guilty of these two examples. iOS which powers Apple devices, and the Android operating system have both been known to have these same security problems. Once the problem apps are identified, they can be prevented from being installed through company networks. Another solution is to restrict app downloads to a company approved app market place.

Create company policies to help reduce mobile security problems

Once these other issues have been addressed, companies will need to create strict policies that will teach employees what can and cannot be done with their own devices on a company network. If an employee uses their own mobile device to conduct work in the work place, a strict policy should dictate what he or she can or can’t do with the device. These policies must also have strict repercussions for any employee that chooses to violate them.

Enforcing policy with software

A security key on a keyboardThere are several solutions on the market that can and will help corporations manage all of this information. These resolutions are called Mobile Device Management Solutions. These types of solutions will allow corporations to enforce the policies that have been set during all of the previous steps.

A mobile device management solution will protect data, manage apps, address mobile device security, protect content, and protect emails. A mobile device management system will also be compatible with every major mobile device operating system on the market.

Allowing employees to use their own portable devices should not present a security breach to any company regardless of its size. Proper planning will always be the best way to prevent any sort of problems.

Categories
Series Technology

Stepping into the future of smarter living

Technology Bloggers is getting bigger and growing day by day. When the community was founded in April last year, our readership was just a few hundred people a week. We now have tens of thousands of visitors a month.

With size comes opportunity, and recently we have been gifted a fantastic opportunity by British Gas. In the past Technology Bloggers has been British Gas’s blog of the month, demonstrating that they understand the work we are doing.

A few weeks ago I was offered the chance to step into the future of smarter living, becoming one of the first people ever to have a Remote Heating Control system fitted. How could I refuse such an amazing offer?

On behalf of Technology Bloggers, I am to test and review an innovative new technology which is going to be making its way into all of our homes very soon.

British Gas’s Campaign

There have been some great technological advances in the last few years in the energy sector, like for example smart meters and Baxi Ecogen boilers which can ultimately help us to be more efficient in the way we use energy.

British Gas are now starting to offer these innovative new technologies to me and you – the consumer, and in order to give the consumer an unbiased view of the technologies, they have asked a handful of bloggers to test out the technology. This handful of bloggers (including me from Technology Bloggers) will then blog about their findings, in order to help people better understand the new technologies available, and the potential implications of upgrading/installing the technologies.

Here is a television ad British Gas have launched, to raise awareness about smarter homes.
%CODEYOUTUBEBRITISHGAS1%
During the campaign, my aim (as always and as stated in our privacy policy) is to remain impartial and give you my honest feedback and views on the technology. As with every technology, there are always positives and negatives. I will be exploring both the advantages and disadvantages of the technology I have been selected to test.

Series

Testing a new technology is a journey, and therefore I feel as I am going to be writing about my journey and experience of the technology, it would be appropriate for me to write in the form of a series. Our blog has had two series before, making this its third. If you are unsure what a series is, please check out our writers guide to writing a series, which gives an explanation.

I feel that if I write the posts in a constant flow (i.e.) a series, it will feel less fragmented then were I to write the posts individually.

The series will post fortnightly on a Friday, meaning that every other Friday, you will get an update as to how my experience and understanding of the technology is progressing.

The next post will go live on Friday the 7th of September.

About The Technology

The technology I am to test and review is known as Remote Heating Control, and really it does what it says on the tin. It is an innovative new technology which gives you better control over your heating, whether you are in the house or a remote location.

Heating control via smartphone
Controlling your heating via a smartphone – Android and iPhone

The technology is programmable via three methods: on the device itself; via smartphone; via an online account – accessible anywhere you have an internet connection.

The technology also has a very advanced and programmable timer system. You can set exact temperatures that you want your house to be at, at exact times. From what I understand it is very easy to set up a reasonable complex heating scheduled, to make sure your comfort is maximised, whilst you potentially save money at the same time, by reducing unnecessary heating.

More to come on the technology over the course of the series.

About Me

If you have been a loyal reader for sometime now, you probably know a lot about me, my views and the way I like to operate. If you don’t, below is an extract of my profile on the British Gas user reviews site, which can hopefully help you understand a bit more about who I am.

I am a techie at heart and love to follow the latest innovations and developments in the industry. I specifically take an interest in green (sustainable, efficient and renewable) technology, and always consider the environmental implications of new innovations.

I have always thought heating systems are inefficient, and this ultimately leads to big waste of resources. Therefore I am really pleased to be testing a technology that could potentially revolutionise the way we control our heating.

I couldn’t refuse the opportunity to test a new technology which is set to revolutionise the way we all use energy in the future, ultimately changing and hopefully improving our lives!

I really look forward to having better control over my heating, by having Remote Heating Control installed in my home and am really excited to test and review this new, innovative, green technology!

Promotion

As British Gas want to get the word out, the have said that they will be promoting the content myself and the other bloggers involved write via their website and social media. This means that the content published on our blog, could potentially help hundreds of thousands of people (maybe even millions) in formulating their opinion on these new technologies. My hope is that this should also help speed up the growth in our readership ever further.

Who Benefits

As a community blog, we are very used to analysing who benefits from a given activity, but who will benefit from this project?

  • Me – I will get Remote Heating Control installed in my home, giving me better control of my own heating
  • Technology Bloggers – I hope that the promotion British Gas can offer us will boost our readership, helping us grow the community further
  • The consumer (you) – The information and reviews of the technology I provide, I hope will benefit anyone who is a potential install candidate, make their mind up about whether or not to embrace the new technology
  • British Gas – British Gas will be getting impartial reviews which they can show to consumers, potentially boosting their sales

Your Thoughts

What are your thoughts on the campaign? Do you think it will be beneficial for the blog? What sort of things would you like me to mention/discuss in my series? Are you interested in getting a smarter home?

Throw your comments at me below 🙂

Categories
News Science

A Miracle Material?

Plastic and its use on mass causes many problems as we all know. It is not biodegradable, made from oil, difficult to recycle and can be found almost everywhere floating in the sea or buried on land. What we need is something to replace it.

Over the last year researchers at the MMC in Paris have been working on a new material. What they have developed is something that might change the future of manufacturing.

See this short article for a more complete description.

Their material is called a vitrimer, it is organic, strong, lightweight and looks to bridge the gap between thermoplastics and thermoset products.

Will vitrimer replace plastic?
Could this be the future of manufacturing?

What this actually means to you and me is a material that is solid but workable across a wide temperature range, so doesn’t melt like plastic, break like glass, can be shaped after production (unlike plastic or other polymers) and easily recycled.

The material can be sculptured without the need for extreme heat, so can be liquefied and moulded and then bent once finished. This makes it an incredibly versatile substance for use in electronics, car manufacturing and many different fields of engineering.

Advantages include the possibility of not using moulds for large structures that produce shapes that cannot be adjusted. If necessary the form required can be made in-situ and manipulated to fit, something that is not possible with steel for example.

The constitution of the materials determines its rigidity, so you can make it like thick rubber with flexibility at room temperature or much more rigid, but it is not brittle and so will not snap.

Given the many problems associated with plastics and the weight issues of using steel, this material looks to offer the promise of a more versatile, easily recyclable, reusable and less polluting alternative, and certain sectors of the scientific community are calling it a wonder material.

One to watch I would say.

Categories
Gadgets

Could Google’s Project Glass actually work?

Once again science fiction is turning into science fact. This time, it is Phillip K. Dick’s story, “Minority Report,” and the movie that followed. In this story as a person moves around the city, they receive instant advertising and information tailored directly to them.

Google's hi-tech futuristic glassesGoogle has now taken a step in this direction with the Google Glass Project. Using mobile broadband and miniaturized hardware, the Google glasses will allow a wearer to access any information on the fly and have it project in front of their eyes as they move.

The glasses will tie into the GPS system and cell towers so the glasses will always be able to tell the wearer where they are and where they need to go. The glasses will also work as an MP3 player, cell phone, e-mail reader, and personal data assistant, and with no keypad, everything will be accessible by voice command.

Google has released a video demonstrating what their glasses will do and the video is very impressive. Of course the video is no different than the concept cars that every auto company releases in time for the annual shows, and whether or not the glasses actually make it to market is anybody’s guess.

Much of the technology is already available, especially the networking and computational tools. Already all smart phones will tell their users they are and where to needs to go, and the same smart phones have more computing power than a top of the line desktop computer had ten years ago.

As for the voice command technology, as any iPhone user will attest to, most of the capabilities of a smart phone can be accessed with the spoken word alone.

The camera on the Glasses is small, but no smaller than any other phone camera, and the capabilities of those are fully proven as well.

The most likely stumbling block for the glasses will be in the heads-up display technology. HUD, as it is commonly known, is not a new technology, the military has been using it decades now in both planes and tanks. What would be new would be the miniaturization of the equipment. The average HUD a pilot uses is incorporated into both the helmets and the plane itself, and the technology does not work outside of the plane. Google may have overcome these problems, but that will still be a very big hurdle.

Ask anyone who has attempted to use an LCD screen in the bright sun, and they will complain about the difficulty. There is no evidence that that problem has been overcome yet, but perhaps Google has solved that as well.

Finally there is the issue of distracted people. The dangers of texting or phoning and driving are evident, and a quick search on Google will show many videos of people who are unable to walk and text. The Google Glasses will take distraction to another level with people tripping everywhere.

There is no doubt that the Google Glasses or something like them is coming someday, but the question is when. Most technology experts are convinced that the video Google released is just hype and that the glasses are at best two years away and possibly even longer.

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
Media Technology

Second Hand Technology Finds

If you walk round Cambridge in Massachusetts in June, you find the streets filled with discarded belongings. The students are leaving Harvard, MIT, Boston University and all the others institutions and as they leave they abandon the things they cannot take with them by the side of the road. Many stacks of things have a little note or post it attached saying ‘take me’ or ‘free, working’, and it is very much part of the culture to take things.

On my final few days in Cambridge last week I walked the streets with my kids from one park to another, and I collected some interesting things, including some very interesting and expensive pieces of second hand technology.

A common sight on Cambridge Streets

I collected a pair of M Audio AV40 studio speakers, fully functioning and beautiful to listen to. List price $229.99. A few scratches on the top of one but obviously only had light domestic use. Into the back of the bike trailer they went and onward on our hunt.

Further down the road I picked up a large 27 inch LCD computer screen, again lightly used and well looked after. At least $200 if you buy it new, as its previous owner had done probably 9 months before.

I was fortunate enough to pass a young student as she emptied her office into a box on the street, so I collected 6 Moleskin divided folders ($26 each), 200 blank DVD’s and cases, about 60 blank CD’s and 2 nice moleskin notebooks. Into the trailer, the kids can walk.

Last year I saw bags of cables, modems and power units, and as I moved from Europe I took what I needed.

On this trip I also saw a 32inch flat screen TV but I couldn’t carry it, and a standard size LCD TV too but with no remote control. I left that where it was too and will explain why.

The thing about TV’s and monitors is that you have to pay $25 for the city services to pick them up, so many are abandoned. If you pick one up and it doesn’t work you have to pay to dispose of it, or leave it outside again for someone else to do the same. Either way not a great result. I also saw at least 10 old cathode TV’s, only one with the label to demonstrate that it had been paid for.

This started me thinking about the effect that a moving student population must have on the technology market and by extension the development of new products. Practically every student has a laptop, smart-phone, TV and high speed internet at home and these things are all paid for when they move to their university of choice. Producers must see a massive peak in September, and an associated rise in profits.

So this leads to the question of what happens to all of this stuff when they move on. In many cases they take it, but some cannot be transported and is left, either by the side of the road, dumped or left in the house.

As we all know the dumping of technology is extremely damaging, recycling a must but also ethically dubious, so how about something like the Cambridge model?

The model is also used here for cans and bottles. If you buy a beer in a bottle or can, the can or bottle has a value. If you take it back to the shop they recycle it and give you 10c back. I have seen the same model with plastic bottles in Scandinavia. The result of this scheme is that a business has grown up around collecting empty bottles etc from the bins, students in the case of Scandinavia and homeless people here.

Well, for however much you might not like the idea of going through somebody’s recycling bin for returnables, it looks like an extremely efficient form of recycling to me, and revenue for those people that really need it. And although I don’t do bottles you should see my well stocked office and hear my stereo at home!

Waste less!