It wasn’t until my first job out of college—one in the wireless business—that I developed a passion for technology and saw how STEM impacts everything we do. This was the spark that led me to fall in love with the network engineering elements of wireless, and the more immersed I got in the industry, the more exposed and interested I was in other components of technology.
Now, as the father of a teenage daughter who’s interested in STEM subjects and potentially even computer science, I want her to find her own opportunities, discover where her passions lie, and to ensure she has the resources and encouragement to pursue them.
In the U.S., there simply aren’t enough people pursuing STEM to meet growing technology demands. According to the Smithsonian Science Education Center, “78 percent of high school graduates don’t meet benchmark readiness for one or more college courses in mathematics, science or English.” And then there are barriers to STEM advancement like four or six-year degree requirements for many jobs—which are remarkably difficult for most people to afford. So it’s not that surprising when people like Nasdaq vice chairman Bruce Aust say, “By 2020, there will be one million more computing jobs than there will be graduates to fill them, resulting in a $500 billion opportunity gap.”
What’s clear is we need to make it easier for people to experiment with STEM early in life, then create accessible and alternative opportunities to pursue their dreams. Equally important, we need to find ways to dramatically advance gender diversity in STEM fields to accelerate innovation around the world.
Fostering Excitement Around STEM Takes a Village
Organizations like the Washington Alliance for Better Schools (WABS)—which I’m on the board of—partners with school districts around Western Washington State, and is an example of families, teachers, schools, and public and private sector businesses uniting to develop meaningful STEM education and advancement opportunities, because everyone involved can benefit. Hands-on learning and vocational programs like their After School STEM Academy is a great way to help students connect the dots of scientific principles in a fun way. And WABS’ 21st Century Community Learning Centers leverage Title IV funds to help students meet state and local academic standards—from homework tutoring to leadership opportunities that can turn into summer internships or jobs.
As students’ interests in STEM grow, it creates a fantastic opportunity for businesses to see passions play out through hackathons, group ideation, and other challenges. Recently, for the second consecutive year, T-Mobile’s Changemaker Challenge initiative—in partnership with Ashoka—called on youth aged 13 to 23 from the U.S. and Puerto Rico to submit big ideas for how they would drive change in their communities. T-Mobile received 428 entries—a 28% increase over last year—133 in the ‘Tech for Good’ category. Interestingly, one quarter of all the tech entries were focused on STEM projects and even more interestingly, 63% of all technology category applications were from young women. We saw submissions from apps to robots to video games—all with the goal of changing the world for good. Next up, we’ll announce the Top 30 teams and each of them will receive a trip to T-Mobile’s HQ for the three-day Changemaker Challenge Lab to supercharge their projects along with some seed funding. Three category winners will pitch their ideas to T-Mobile leadership for a chance to win the $10,000 grand prize. To say that these young people’s ideas are inspiring is an understatement!
Accelerating Innovation Through Gender Diversity and Inner-Sourcing
Women aren’t typically well represented in many STEM-focused industries. Gender diversity is crucial to designing and building innovative solutions around the world, including T-Mobile’s products and services. At least half of our customers are female, and of the more than 50,000 employees who make up T-Mobile, 42% identify as female. If our product and technology employees don’t represent the diversity in our community, we stand to lose relevance in the market. By making diversity and inclusion a thoughtful, premeditated, sustained, and structural part of our recruitment and retainment of employees—including network engineers, software developers, data scientists, and other STEM professions—we’re able to foster a stronger company culture and build more innovative, customer experience obsessed products and services.
Let’s not forget that plenty of STEM-related jobs don’t include “engineer”, “developer”, or “scientist” in the job title across fields that intersect technology and digital customer experiences. One way we’ve cultivated the right talent at T-Mobile is “inner-sourcing” existing employees. For instance, through our Team of Pros program (TOPs), we provide opportunities for our frontline retail and customer care employees to apply for a 6 to 9-month program in a product management capacity to learn and work directly with engineering teams to ensure a tight coupling between what customers really want and the products, apps, training, and troubleshooting resources we design and develop. This is a great opportunity for our frontline employees to pivot into full-time STEM-related roles within T-Mobile corporate, without the need to pursue a formal technology-oriented education.
Championing STEM to Create a Better World
We live in a world where technology is omnipresent however connected, collaborative, and continuous STEM education isn’t equally accessible, and gender diversity is not well represented. To address pervasive global issues like climate change, resource inequality, economic stagnation, disease prevention, and others, we need diverse people who understand technical processes and technologies to work together to develop effective solutions. For those of us fortunate enough to reach a level of financial stability in STEM fields, we owe it to the future of our world to give back by leading and inspiring today’s and the next generation of technology leaders.
Source: Igniting Passion And Diversity In STEM
Many people in the world of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) have begun to question why the STEM workforce doesn’t reflect the diversity of society at large. In this talk, Jess Vovers tackles some key questions: What is diversity? Why does it matter? Why does STEM lack diversity? And what can we do about it? Jessica Vovers is a PhD candidate in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Melbourne, with a focus on sustainable solvents. When she’s not painting herself blue, she’s usually playing video games or riding her bike. Jess advocates for diversity in STEM through her work with Science Gallery Melbourne and mentoring with Curious Minds. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at https://www.ted.com/tedx
Recent IDTechEx research in their report: Electronic Skin Patches 2019-2029, has revealed significant opportunities in the development and use of electronic skin patches, with over $7.5bn in revenue made from the technology in 2018 and a growth forecast of over $20bn per year over the next decade.
However, it also shows that reimbursement and regulatory consideration aren’t necessarily keeping pace. James Hayward, Principal Analyst at IDTechEx, highlights the dangers of a closed market driven by regulation and reimbursement strategies which favour devices for simplicity and cost rather than effectiveness; deterring new entrants.
Electronic skin patches are wearable products attached to the skin of a user incorporating sensors, actuators, processors and communication technology, allowing the device to connect to the internet to become ‘smart’. Skin patches are one of the latest waves in health monitoring; their non-intrusive design meaning they are comfortable and discrete. Unsurprisingly, interest in electronic skin patches has soared, driven by significant hype and market growth around wearable devices starting in 2014.
A number of significant applications of electronic skin patches are now having a profound impact on health and quality of life. Some of the foremost use cases center around healthcare and medical applications, while the consumer health market is another early adopter. As such, several product areas, particularly in diabetes management and cardiovascular monitoring, have grown exponentially to create billions of dollars of new revenue each year for the companies at the forefront of this wave.
Cardiovascular monitoring faces reimbursement and competitive roadblocks
Alongside this growth has come the need for forward-thinking regulation and reimbursement, especially given the life-changing medical context of their applications. Following regulatory approval, the funding of medical devices can come from different sources, including government-led reimbursement schemes. These provide funding for medical devices defined within certain categories according to central definitions and understandings of the performance and cost of the device. While systems do vary by country, it is typical for central procedural terminology to be linked to reimbursement amounts for each device.
Take cardiovascular skin patches for example, which exist in a highly competitive landscape alongside consumer wearables such as watches and chest straps (which provide cardiac data but with limited medical usefulness due to a lack of medical approval) as well as cardiac implants which offer a more accurate but less safe approach.
Effectiveness must have a role to play in future developments
Electronic skin patches for cardiovascular monitoring must strike a compromise between data quality and patient comfort. A patient can remain active while wearing the device, minimizing additional issues caused by remaining in a hospital bed for too long. However, they also typically produce simpler data sets than the full 12-lead standard monitor and offer less control over the quality of the data produced. These competitive landscapes drive positive product development but it is often the central regulatory and funding bodies that have the power to drive change.
Previously, these mobile cardiac telemetry products have benefited from a favorable reimbursement scenario in the US, defined under a Category 3 CPT code for “extended Holter monitoring”. This code entitles them to twice the amount of reimbursement as “event monitoring” and more than eight times the amount afforded to generic “Holter monitoring” (both Category 1 CPT codes). If the reimbursement situation were to change, the entire revenue structure for these devices will change with it. Should reimbursement strategies be allowed to shape developments rather than consumers and effectiveness?
Diabetes management reveals a confusing system
One of the biggest revenue generators in the electronic skin patches market has been continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) for diabetes management, which posted annual revenues of over $2.5bn in 2018. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given four companies approval to sell CGM products, three of the four companies offer a skin patch with a small needle to test glucose levels in interstitial fluid. Only one organisation offers a subcutaneous implant which is then read using a skin patch as a communication hub. In such a closed market, regulations and reimbursements are shaping its course.
The three large players offering a needle-based skin patch have benefited from multiple geographies now offering partial or full reimbursement for CGM products under national healthcare schemes. Yet each of the three products is treated under a single regulatory category and receive the same reimbursement per device, regardless of performance, longevity or functionality. This opens up the potential for a closed market which favours devices because of simplicity and cost rather than effectiveness.
The fourth player is a new market entrant with lower revenue but offers a much longer-lasting CGM solution with significant differentiation from its rivals, but because of limited regulation and reimbursement, however, it may struggle to break the market stranglehold from larger players with cheaper solutions.
New entrants need to be encouraged
This reimbursement and regulatory environment provide an even bigger barrier to entry for new and innovative electronic skin patches. If the product is to be offered as a medical device, it must go through regulatory approval processes, either showing equal performance to existing equivalents or going through a de novo process to prove its efficacy and safety.
These hurdles often result in new electronic skin patch devices being pushed towards the consumer health market, where regulatory roadblocks aren’t as stringent but offer less long-term returns than in direct healthcare. This is already proving to be the case with the promising area of temperature sensing for fever and fertility monitoring, as well as other patient monitoring devices.
Healthcare Sensors Cambridge Event
This is exactly why IDTechEx has been tracking the emergence of electronic skin patches and the reimbursement and regulatory landscape back to 2010, across 26 application areas and over 100 market players, in its report Electronic Skin Patches 2019-2029. The report forecasts the market through 2019-2029 and aims to help innovative healthcare organisations make more informed business decisions before deciding how to roll-out one of the hottest technologies in patient monitoring.
In addition to detailed reports on this topic, IDTechEx are hosting an event: Healthcare Sensor Innovations 2019, in Cambridge, UK which is a conference and table-top exhibition focusing on the latest developments in the use of wearables and sensors in continuous monitoring of individuals and point-of-care diagnostics.
Register here: www.IDTechEx.com/Cambridge
About the Author
James Hayward, Principal Analyst at IDTechEx. James is a Principal Analyst at IDTechEx. Joining in 2014, he initially developed IDTechEx’s wearable technology platform. He now oversees a team of analysts across varied topic areas, as well as oversight over the wearable technology research efforts.
Featured Image: Peshkova
Source: Regulation and reimbursement strategies should not get in the way of ‘smart’ electronic skin patches – TechNative
Engineers at the University of California San Diego have developed a flexible wearable sensor that can accurately measure a person’s blood alcohol level from sweat and transmit the data wirelessly to a laptop, smartphone or other mobile device. The device can be worn on the skin and could be used by doctors and police officers for continuous, non-invasive and real-time monitoring of blood alcohol content. The device consists of a temporary tattoo—which sticks to the skin, induces sweat and electrochemically detects the alcohol level—and a portable flexible electronic circuit board, which is connected to the tattoo by a magnet and can communicate the information to a mobile device via Bluetooth. Lots of accidents on the road are caused by drunk driving. This technology provides an accurate, convenient and quick way to monitor alcohol consumption to help prevent people from driving while intoxicated. The device could be integrated with a car’s alcohol ignition interlocks, or friends could use it to check up on each other before handing over the car keys. Blood alcohol concentration is the most accurate indicator of a person’s alcohol level, but measuring it requires pricking a finger. Breathalyzers, which are the most commonly used devices to indirectly estimate blood alcohol concentration, are non-invasive, but they can give false readouts. For example, the alcohol level detected in a person’s breath right after taking a drink would typically appear higher than that person’s actual blood alcohol concentration. A person could also fool a breathalyzer into detecting a lower alcohol level by using mouthwash. Recent research has shown that blood alcohol concentration can also be estimated by measuring alcohol levels in what’s called insensible sweat—perspiration that happens before it’s perceived as moisture on the skin. But this measurement can be up to two hours behind the actual blood alcohol reading. On the other hand, the alcohol level in sensible sweat—the sweat that’s typically seen—is a better real-time indicator of the blood alcohol concentration, but so far the systems that can measure this are neither portable nor fit for wearing on the body. Now, UC San Diego researchers have developed an alcohol sensor that’s wearable, portable and could accurately monitor alcohol level in sweat within 15 minutes. News Source: http://jacobsschool.ucsd.edu/news/new…
Microsoft has always been a software company. It’s what make it the most valuable company on earth (twice), and it’s what makes it so interesting that the company has been making some serious hardware for a few years now. And when I say serious hardware, I mean it’s seriously good. I’m not a Windows user, and you’d have to pry my MacBook Pro out of my cold, dead hands if you tried to make me switch, but I will freely admit: Microsoft has some serious design chops.
New Surface Devices
Take, for example, the slate of new products the company introduced yesterday, like the updated versions of the Surface Laptop, including a 15-inch model. The Surface Laptop 3, as it’s called, also finally gets USB-C, which is long overdue. It’s impressive, but it’s not even close to the highlight of the event, at least from the standpoint of innovation.
That would be the introduction of two new dual-screen devices, the Surface Neo and Duo. It’s actually not even a new concept. Microsoft worked on a similar product called Courier back in 2008, though it canceled the project two years later without ever it being released.
The Surface Duo.Courtesy Microsoft
The most interesting thing about the smaller of the two devices, known as Surface Duo, is that it’s a Microsoft product that runs Android. Which is because it’s a foldable smartphone, though Microsoft really doesn’t want you to call it a phone.
But it is. It’s a foldable smartphone, which unlike Samsung’s Galaxy Fold, avoids the messy technical problems of foldable screens. Instead, this one has two screens and opens like a book. Instead of focusing on futuristic display technology that isn’t quite ready for prime time, Microsoft is focusing on the user experience.
Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella told Wired magazine that “The operating system is no longer the most important layer for us…What is most important for us is the app model and the experience.” Which is probably why it doesn’t run Windows Mobile.
The larger device, known (at least for now) as Surface Neo is a dual-screen device with a moveable keyboard that attaches magnetically and charges wirelessly. You can place it over one of the screens, and it covers about two-thirds of that screen, leaving space for a virtual touchpad (at the bottom) or what Microsoft calls Wunderbar (at the top). The latter feature is sort of like a giant version of Apple’s Touch Bar.
The Surface Neo. Courtesy Microsoft
What’s really interesting about Microsoft’s strategy here is that the device will run a variant of the company’s operating system known as Windows X, which will also reportedly power future dual-screen devices from Dell, Asus, Lenovo, and HP.
This incarnation finally begs the question of whether the world needs a dual-screen device, and if so, for what?
Interestingly, both devices will be able to run different apps across both screens, or in some cases, span both displays, opening up a range of potential uses. For example, Microsoft points out that you can arrange the displays back to back to present PowerPoint slides on the front, while viewing your notes on the reverse side.
And, according to Georg Petschnigg, CIO of WeTransfer and the CEO of Fifty Three–the developers of the popular Paper app–the Duo especially has major creative potential. “Mobile creation and productivity has great potential. I would not be surprised if Google and Microsoft invest in a new App Store based on Android for the Duo,” Petschnigg told me.
A Real Challenge to Apple?
In fact, I think you could argue Microsoft has done something that many tech observers and creative entrepreneurs (like me) would have never thought possible: transitioning from making boring software like spreadsheets and email servers, to a company that now rivals Apple in terms of design and user experience.
Microsoft won’t actually start selling either device until the holiday season in 2020, more than a year away at this point. Normally, tech companies keep innovative new products under wraps until they’re almost ready to ship, but in this case Microsoft is putting it out there for the world to see.
You might even say it’s putting the world–and companies like Apple–on notice.
Source: Microsoft Just Announced the Surface Neo and Surface Duo and It Could Be Bad News for Apple | Inc.com
Poor Barry Thompson is about to get fired, and you’re the unfortunate one shouldered with lowering the ax. You might not feel sorry for Barry given he’s virtual. But the idea is that firing him in VR will help prepare you if you ever need to terminate someone who isn’t made of pixels.
Barry is the creation of Talespin Studios, a VR company that develops virtual- and augmented-reality training programs for Fortune 500 partners including Farmers Insurance and telecom and finance companies. The company introduced Barry to demonstrate its “Virtual Human Technology.”What it looks like to fire an employee in VR
“The premise behind the software is giving employees a safe space to practice challenging interpersonal situations, while using AI to create emotionally realistic characters to stimulate and challenge them,” says Kyle Jackson, CEO and co-founder of Talespin.
The company, which is based in Southern California and The Netherlands, built Barry using speech recognition, AI, natural language processing, gamified scoring, dynamic feedback and enterprise learning management system, or LMS, integration. He can fluidly converse with the real person wearing the VR headset, display realistic emotion and understand context.
The highly realistic-looking Mr. Thompson has gray hair and bags under his eyes and looks like he’s probably put a whole lot of years into the company. His reaction to the bad news varies depending on how you handle the situation. In some scenarios, he gets angry and yells, in others he cries. If you handle his firing well, he calmly accepts the news..
“Users that elicit the more dramatic or emotional responses from Barry can learn from the experience and try to do better next time,” Jackson says.
Talespin virtual humans give trainees the chance to practice other challenging interpersonal situations with colleagues and co-workers, such as giving managerial feedback, negotiating and making a sale.
In one sales scenario, for example, the CEO of a company you’re trying to sell your firm’s services to has her arms crossed, looks away as you explain why you’re there, and says you won’t get the full time requested for the meeting. You have to rely on your training to overcome her disinterest and unlock different parts of the conversation where you can be successful.
VR is already teaching people to deliver babies, operate machinery and how to weld. As our sister site TechRepublic suggests, VR could be the future of sexual harassment training in the workplace since it’s more immersive than HR-based classes or slideshow and video presentations and lets users feel what’s it like to be harassed.
“The immersive properties and rich, consistent contextual cues associated with VR improve the quality and speed of initial learning,” according to Training Industry. “One strength of VR is that it can be implemented in such a way as to target [both] the behavioral skills system and the cognitive skills system.”
Talespin isn’t the only company creating VR training content for workers. Thousands of Walmart employees have donned Oculus Go virtual reality headsets for a training program created by Strivr, which also counts Verizon, Fidelity and United Rentals among its customers.
“When you watch a module through the headset, your brain feels like you actually experienced a situation,” Andy Trainor, Walmart’s senior director of Walmart US Academies, said when announcing the program last year.
Or, as Talespin’s Jackson puts it, “Virtual humans can help us become better humans.”
Now, can someone please hook Barry up with a new job?
By: Leslie Katz
The buzz around the new Motorola Razr is electric. It’s taken off well beyond Lenovo’s ability to control it and the result is that we are all going to be disappointed. To understand why it’s necessary to understand how the original Razr came into being. I was a Director at Motorola in Chicago at the time, and while many of my colleagues, even those who opposed the project, now have LinkedIN profiles claiming to have been involved in its creation I’m happy to say I was only an observer.
But I was close to the people, the super smart people, who did make it happen, and the way it was done means that there is no hope that the forthcoming folding screen Razr can be any bit as good as the original.
It’s not the fault of today’s Motorola, the Lenovo owned company is just a victim of circumstance. My job here is to explain why the circumstances are different. Perhaps the most important difference is that there had never been a Razr before, but it’s also about how that came to be.
Razr was a skunkworks, produced by a bunch of engineers in their spare time and time stolen from other projects. Indeed the Motorola Aura which was to have been the follow-up was codenamed GD2 for “Go Dark 2”, the second project from the same skunkworks, but under the glare of Razr publicity GD2 failed to stay dark and suffered the development malaise that saw a nine month project take the best part of three years so the best ever 2G phone was launched into a 3G world and it failed. The existance of new Razr is already out and that’s the first thing which means this year’s model won’t be as good. The original Razr had no input from mobile operators, no customer requirements, no research or focus groups. And most importantly no sales targets. The development team just built what they thought was cool. Without needing to meet targets they didn’t need to ensure component supply. The keypad came from a manufacturer who could only do limited quantities. It was an enthusiasm. A hobby for some of the most gifted engineers the mobile industry has ever seen who enjoyed what they did. Bo, who looked at screens knew everything there was to know about screen manufacture, where the bodies where hidden, what manufacturing processes where giving what yields, and which technologies were likely to fail despite being promoted by their companies. Joel loved audio, he spent all day worrying about sound quality in phones and then went home to work out what he needed to do to improve the audio on his hi-fi. Roger knew and loved hinges. And most of all Moto had the very best radio engineers. The project was led by Roger Jellicoe a fantastically talented engineer who was protected from the rest of the business by Tracy and her boss Rob. It was a very special team building a very special phone without any commercial pressure.
The new Razr is being built by Lenovo. I don’t know much about the company and I assume that the internal processes and politics are very much better than those of the Motorola I worked for, but I’m just as sure that the environment in which the new Razr is being built is much more commercial and less indulgent. The RF will be on an established platform, the design will be dictated by component availability and there as a commercial project there will not be the passion and engineering flair.
Into this mix you need to add the renderings and anticipation. The concept models flying around the ‘net haven’t come from Lenovo they are people who are great at 3D modelling pleasuring themselves. They don’t have to worry about drop tests and SAR. They don’t have to consider the optical path for the camera, the rf occlusion from someone holding the device or the antenna packaging. All you see in a rendering is what someone thinks looks cool. It’s as though a car geek showed the next generation Ferrari as a flying carpet without stopping to think about where he engine would go.
It makes me sad for Lenovo because it is a great engineering company, but not as great as the fantasies of the 3D modellers. The modelers in turn have been fuelled by the way the original Razr was so radically different from anything before.
That was a perfect storm. Razr only happened because there was a very special team of people, protected from company politics by Geoffrey Frost. So when the new Razr comes out, and it’s a bit thicker than you were hoping, there isn’t a nice snap to the hinge, the screen isn’t as good as you were expecting and it’s not quite as polished as you’d hoped, don’t blame Lenovo, blame the fantasists.
Simon Rockman is the publisher of CW Journal read by the wireless and associated communities.
Source: Motorola Razr 2019: Prepare To Be Disappointed
A red laser pointer shining through a raw chicken carcass may not seem like groundbreaking science, but for veteran technologist Mary Lou Jepsen, it’s worth $28 million in funding for her latest startup, Openwater. Jepsen performed the chicken act as part of her August TED Talk to illustrate how her imaging-tech company is building cost-conscious body-scanning technology by using the same components one might find at a science fair. The laser pointer’s light made both skin and bone of the plucked fowl glow, revealing a tumor just under its flesh……..
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You’re the proud new owner of a tablet or ereader! You’ve probably already made your reading list for the new year, and now your task is to download new ebooks to your device. Before you pay full-price for those books, you should know about the new site that savvy readers are practically obsessed with: BookBub. BookBub has quickly emerged as the best way for readers to find deals on bestselling ebooks. The free daily email alerts readers to free and deeply discounted ebooks in their favorite categories, helping millions of readers find high quality books at bargain basement prices………
Read more: https://landing.bookbub.com/best_way_to_fill/?source=pocket_fftab_filltablet
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Microsoft’s big Windows 10 Update version 1809 is here and it brings a wealth of welcome features like less interruptions and update nags during gaming (something Alienware nailed years ago by the way). It also takes an ambitious step toward making your PC and Android phone best friends. But (isn’t there always a “but?”) it’s also causing a serious problem. One that can’t be reversed. If you’re not enthusiastic about potentially losing every scrap of data in your user folder such as music, photos and documents, please read on…….
Read more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/jasonevangelho/2018/10/05/avoid-windows-10-october-update-until-you-do-one-thing/#1a75bfa33e79
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When I published the highlights of my journey switching from Windows to Linux on my everyday laptop, I was floored at the engagement it received across all corners of the web. I also voiced an admittedly wrong assumption within the article itself that it wouldn’t attract many eyeballs, and yet it became one of my most viewed pieces this year. From where I’m sitting, that tells me a ton of people are interested — are at least actively curious — about ditching Windows and making the jump to Linux.
With that in mind, I wanted to present five reasons that may lead you to consider switching. Know that these are subjective, and they’re targeted at the average Windows user and not folks who rely on Windows-exclusive applications for a paycheck.
One thing to know right up front: the modern Linux desktop OS is no longer the obtuse, bewildering and command line driven thing it used to be. Not remotely.
1: Linux Gets Out Of Your Way
Windows has a tendency to beg for attention. It’s like the kid in school who desperately wants to be noticed and is borderline belligerent about it. “Please use me,” cries Cortana. “Hey, would you recommend me to a friend or colleague?” asks Redmond. “Hi, I noticed you’re using Chrome. Edge is totally better” insists the Edge browser. “This would be so much easier if you signed into a Microsoft account!” “Hey, remember Skype?”
And so on. . .
If you want an operating system that stays out of your way, some of the more popular flavors of Linux like Ubuntu might be the cure.
Ubuntu hasn’t nagged me about anything. Canonical, the company behind it, has a merchandise shop but they’re not begging me to buy stuff. They offer paid professional support on various levels, but those reminders are nowhere to be found in my day-to-day usage. The company has several sources of income, but they’re not beating down my desktop about it. And it’s really, really refreshing.
2: You’re Not A Slave To The Terminal
From both my research and personal experience, Linux usability has evolved substantially in the past 5 to 10 years. When I first dabbled with it years ago installation was relatively simple, but post-install configuration was a nightmare. You had to spend a lot of time in Terminal, issuing text commands to troubleshoot hardware issues. Issuing more text commands to install graphics drivers. That required digging deep into forums and a heavy amount of googling.
The geeks and power users in the house would call it fun (there is a certain thrill to installing a piece of software and everything it depends on with a single line of text)! For the average Windows user, it was a complete deal breaker. I think many of you still have that perception of Linux. Thankfully, it doesn’t really apply anymore.
Taking my personal experience with Ubuntu version 18.04 as an example, I didn’t need to touch Terminal. All of the hardware on my Dell XPS 13 was automatically detected, right down to a default 200% text scaling for the laptop’s 4K display.
Will this apply to every machine you install Linux on? Probably not. Then again, Windows isn’t flawless with hardware detection either. At least with Ubuntu, my WiFi networks and sound don’t randomly disappear.
3: Installing Software Is Even Easier
I know there’s this perception that Linux is complicated. I thought so too. Based on my experience years ago it was. Hell, I remember downloading a package, opening up Terminal, navigating DOS-style to the location, extracting it, granting the appropriate permissions and sometimes even having to compile it first.
Now installing software is even easier than on Windows. On Ubuntu for example, the included Software Center contains a wealth of programs across a wide range of categories (news, productivity, graphic design, audio and video editing, etc). To install them, you click Install. You don’t have to browse to the site, download the .exe package, launch that, progress through a series of license agreements and dialogue windows.
Typically you just click Install.
Relatively new to Linux are “Snaps.” These are universal packages that install easily across various distributions like Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Debian and others. The Snap Store contains a ridiculous amount of apps to choose from, and not just the “open source clones” you may associate Linux with. Spotify, Telegram, Slack, Blender, VLC, OBS Studio, stuff like that are there.
And again, installing these apps is a breeze! So is updating them. . .
4: Updates aren’t a headache. They’re glorious
Have you ever sat and contemplated how much time Windows steals from you with its updates? Or how many times it has rebooted at the most inconvenient times, only to keep you waiting longer while it configures those updates? Or how the majority of software you have installed outside of the core operating system has to be updated separately?
With Ubuntu, sure, you’ll get a notification. You may be required to restart, but in my experience you won’t be forced to do so. And, like Windows, you can fine-tune how updates are handled.
Here’s the glorious part: unlike Windows, Ubuntu updates your other software too. All in one batch. No need to update it directly through the individual app and then step through a series of dialogue windows. Less notifications, less nags, less time invested. You just update your system and your software all at once. It’s genuinely elegant and this came as a surprise to me.
5: The Linux Community
The response to my previous article was overwhelming, but it wasn’t a case of Linux enthusiasts beating their chests and admonishing Windows. It was a ridiculously passionate community taking the time to suggest alternate software for my needs and detailed tips to make my Linux experience even better. I didn’t ask for this, but they blew up my notifications for days on every social network I exist on.
Digging deeper, you find a surprisingly helpful bunch of people on all corners of the internet willing to invest their time into helping people just like me make the transition. Granted, I haven’t spent a ton of time mingling with this community but it made a very positive first impression on me. I’ve heard people call them a sect, but if I hit a stumbling block I feel like this community would be bending over backwards to lend an assist.
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Lightspeed has announced it is integrating Intuit QuickBooks Online and Planday so retailers and restaurateurs can efficiently manage their finances and workforce within the iOS ecosystem.
Lightspeed iOS Integration
Intuit is going to bring its payroll solution, while Planday will provide a workforce management platform. Together with Lightspeed’s cloud-based point-of-sale systems, the collaboration will give independent businesses in both industries a fully integrated finance and employee scheduling capability.
All three companies are Apple Mobility Partners, which will ensure a “compatibility issue free” integration. For many independent retailers and restaurant owners, who are in the small business segment, having the technology they choose work out of the box is extremely important. And the relationship between the three companies plays a role in this.
Julian Teixeira, VP of Sales, Lightspeed, explained the significance of the relationship in the press release. He said, “This relationship ushers in a new era of ease and innovation for our customers. With this integration, we are delivering one experience to retail and restaurant customers to help them save time, make more money, and improve data accuracy through automatic syncing of all systems.”
Benefits of the Integration
The applications of all three companies are going to be integrated into the iOS platform to deliver a seamless user experience. According to Lightspeed, this will save businesses time and money while being able to engage with their employees more effectively.
When Lightspeed users get on their iPhone or iPad, they will be able to deliver a better customer experience because they will be able to see a comprehensive picture of their business. Owners will have a centralized location where they can manage and report on their entire inventory.
Anytime there is a sale, the information automatically goes from Lightspeed into the correct ledger in Intuit QuickBooks Online. And when it comes to scheduling your workforce, Planday lets owners plan shifts based on expected revenue while managing individual or group communications.
While these functions are taking place, the three platforms are communicating with each other. So the information on sales, worker times and attendance will go from Planday and Lightspeed into Intuit QuickBooks Online to run payroll.
What this means for the small business operator is no more wasted time creating reports for each task because they will be consolidated.
Christian Broendum, CEO, Planday, said it best as to how retailers and restauranteurs will benefit from this integration, “Ensuring the right employees are in position and with the right team size during busy or quiet periods is key to success, but this has been a real admin challenge for operators. The combined solution represents a significant step in solving this equation with the minimum of effort.
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