Monthly Archives: December 2014

Home »  2014 »  December

Are Enterprises Ready for Billions of Devices to Join the Internet? There are currently more devices connected to the Internet than there are people in the world. The Internet now connects a staggering 10 billion devices today. And this number will continue to grow, as more devices gain the ability to directly interface with the Internet or become physical representations of data accessible via Internet systems. This trend toward interactive device independence is collectively described as the Internet of Things (IoT). To put the IoT’s explosive growth into perspective, Gartner estimates the IoT market at 26B devices by 2020. Cisco says IoT will add over $14 trillion dollars in economic value add by 2020. McKinsey predicts IoT will add $310B in incremental revenue to companies that embrace it. The numbers are huge with good reason: IoT embodies a revolution in the way enterprises are interacting with customers and how customers […]

Apple and Amazon Have a Problem: People Don’t Want to Buy Stuff Anymore The failure of the Fire Phone has been widely cited as the reason for Amazon’s disastrous quarter, but a darker cloud has settled over the world’s biggest online retailer. The core of Amazon’s business—its original reason for being: selling books and other media—has grown wobbly. The problem: many people no longer want to buy stuff. They’d rather rent. Amazon is not alone. This long-predicted shift in consumer priorities–from ownership to access—also seems to be taking a bite out of Apple, another business that depends on convincing people to buy things. For companies built on the practice of purchasing media, it’s time to reexamine basic assumptions. [amazon template=banner easy&asin=0945506562] During the last quarter, Amazon’s North American sales of media—books, music, movies, games—grew five percent compared to the same time a year ago. This may sound respectable. But that […]

Microsoft May Soon Replace Internet Explorer With a New Web Browser Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system will debut with an entirely new web browser code-named Spartan, according to a report citing anonymous sources. ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley reports that this new browser is a departure from Internet Explorer, the Microsoft browser whose relevance has waned in recent years. According to Foley, it will be a “lightweight” browser that looks and feels more like the Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox browsers. But her sources also indicate that Spartan will be offered alongside IE when Windows 10 debuts next year. [amazon template=banner easy&asin=050054199X] With Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome grabbing so much of the desktop market—and Apple Safari, Google Chrome, and Google’s Android browser dominating the mobile market—Internet Explorer is no longer the force it once was. There was a time when it handled about over 90 percent of all web traffic […]

The Rapidly Disappearing Business of Design By almost every measure, 2014 was a breakthrough year for design and big business. Any list of highlights would include John Maeda joining the ranks of Kleiner Perkins as a partner, Jony Ive re-asserting Apple’s product vision and IBM rapidly building the largest design team on the planet. Beyond all of the hype, we can measure the rise of design in terms of dollars invested by major corporations in design talent. In 2014, design went to the bank! The recent departure of Todd Simmons—the top creative at arguably the most celebrated brand agency in the world, Wolff Olins—for the leadership team at IBM is a fitting bookend to the year. So, you might ask yourself why leading design firms are contracting or exiting the business just when it has become more relevant than ever to corporate America. Adaptive Path, a bay area pioneer in […]

What Google’s Material Design Is Really About With the November release of Android Lollipop, Google’s Material Design language has begun making its first appearances in the wild. Designers and technologists everywhere are aflutter with praise for the new design language, which aspires to unite Google’s expansive product line under a rich set of design styles and principles. The visual details are delightful, and the paradigmatic underpinnings — that interfaces are three-dimensional constructions, composed of layers of “physical” components — are refreshingly novel. But I’ll spare you more “oohs” and “aahs” over the language’s use of bright colors, large images, and depth. If we take anything from Material Design it isn’t how to use color, how your ease timing should be set, or what the resting elevation of an object should be. It’s not the details themselves we take away, it’s how the details combine to create purposeful brand experience. [amazon template=banner easy&asin=050054333X] […]

15 Essential Apps to Install on Your New iPad This year the Festivus fairy dropped off a new iPad Air 2. Lucky you. On top of being an excellent piece of hardware, the iPad also offers the most robust selection of tablet-dedicated apps. But navigating all those apps and figuring out which to populate your home screen with isn’t always easy. Let us help. While we’ve listed some old favorites here, we’ve left out many of the more obvious options (Yes, of course you’ll want to download things like Facebook, Twitter, and Netflix, if you use those services). These are the apps that exemplify the iPad experience and take advantage of new tools offered in iOS 8. Most of these apps are free downloads, but if you grab each item on this list, it will cost you a grand total of $18. With a couple of initial in-app purchases and […]

How to Fix the Most Annoying Features of Your New HDTV Face it, Sherlock: You were befuddled by that massive package under the tree, but it was obviously a TV. The box was huge, flat, had a big “FRAGILE” stamped on it, and there was a smaller package taped to it shaped like a remote. I mean come on now. Now that the mystery is solved and out of the box, it’s time to set it up. It’s not much harder than just plugging in the set and turning it on, but there are a few extra steps on the way to holiday binge-watching bliss. Let’s get to it. Make Sure It’s Not in “Showroom Mode” You don’t need to get your set professionally calibrated to improve its picture quality. But right off the bat, there may be a setting enabled that will make the picture look noticeably awful while […]

How to Get Your New Fire TV Device Up and Running If you received an Amazon Fire TV box or stick in your gift haul, congratulations: You now own the best deal in the set-top streamer realm. It does a lot of what competing devices do for less, and for an extra $40, you can turn it into a decent gaming console with its optional Bluetooth game controller. There are differences between the $80 Fire TV box and the $40 stick. Gaming performance is one of them. The box has a quad-core processor with 2GB RAM, a USB port to go along with its 8GB onboard storage, optical-out for audio, and an Ethernet port. The box also gives you access to HBO Go, which won’t be available on the stick until mid-2015. For half the price, the Fire TV Stick has a more-modest processor, half the RAM, and no Ethernet […]

98 Free Templates to Make Visual Content Creation Quick & Painless Visual content is in high demand. Just about every type of content we marketers create can be enhanced by some kind of visual element. And in social media? Visuals pretty much make or break your presence. In fact, photos on Facebook generate 53% more Likes, 104% more comments, and 84% more clickthroughs than the average post. And if you need more evidence to convince you visual content is essential to your marketing, just consider all these stats! But honestly … who’s got time for all that? And I don’t know about you, but I don’t exactly have a degree in graphic design. Or the budget to hire someone who does. So, what’s a design-impaired marketer to do? (Short on time? Click here to download our collection of free content creation templates for awesome ebooks, social media graphics, SlideShare presentations, blog posts, and […]

The Year’s Worst Hacks, From Sony to Celebrity Nude Pics With each passing year, data breaches get bigger and more invasive. But 2014 saw a new twist to the breach phenomenon with the Sony hack. The attackers didn’t just steal data, they scorched Sony’s digital earth as they exited its networks, wiping data from servers and leaving administrators to clean up the mess and restore systems.Digital destruction of this sort was first seen in Saudi Arabia and Iran when computers used in the oil industries were struck in 2012 with data- and system-destroying malware. The attack against Sony was different, however, in that gigabytes of sensitive Sony data were also released to the public, creating damage of a different sort—to the company’s bottom line. Whether this sparks a new trend in corporate hacks remains to be seen. One thing is certain: next year will bring a new round of attacks.Here’s […]

Why Virtual Reality Doesn’t Need a Killer App to Get Huge On a frosty December morning in 1783, some 400,000 people gathered in the Tuileries Gardens in Paris to see the world’s first manned flight in a hydrogen balloon. Jacques Charles and his assistant, Nicolas-Louis Robert, ascended 1,800 feet into the sky accompanied by a mercury barometer, some sandbags, and a few bottles of champagne. “Nothing will ever quite equal that moment of total hilarity that filled my whole body at the moment of take-off,” Charles later wrote. “I felt we were flying away from the Earth and all its troubles for ever.” Back on the ground, feelings were more ambivalent. Benjamin Franklin, then the American ambassador to France, watched the scene from his carriage. A cynical companion remarked, “What’s the use of a balloon?” Franklin, aghast, replied, “What’s the use of a newborn baby?” His point: You’re not thinking […]

Dystopian Fiction’s Popularity Is a Warning Sign for the Future Dystopian fiction is hot right now, with countless books and movies featuring decadent oligarchs, brutal police states, ecological collapse, and ordinary citizens biting and clawing just to survive. For bestselling author Naomi Klein, all this gloom is a worrying sign. “I think what these films tell us is that we’re taking a future of environmental catastrophe for granted,” Klein says in Episode 129 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “And that’s the hardest part of my work, actually convincing people that we’re capable of something other than this brutal response to disaster.” Her new book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate, argues that only dramatic policy shifts can avert climate catastrophe, and that ordinary people need to speak up and demand emissions caps, public transportation, and a transition to renewable energy. That’s a hard sell politically, which […]

While You Were Offline: 30,000 People Buy Bull Poop, George R.R. Martin Freaks Out Over The Interview It was tempting, admittedly, to just put one story in the column this week, and retitle it “Yes, Sony didn’t release a James Franco movie because of terror threats and the need to fulfill a 30 Rock punchline from five years ago,” but apparently that’s “too easy” and “unprofessional.” Go figure. Here, then, are some other things that happened on the Internet this week. (Although, really, can we talk about that weird 30 Rock thing? Even stranger, it’s the second time in the last month it’s been revealed that the show accurately predicted future events. Who knew Tina Fey was a modern Nostradamus?) George R.R. Martin Isn’t Happy Sony Pulled The Interview What Happened: The Song of Ice and Fire writer was not happy with Sony deciding that The Interview was too hot […]

Absurd Creature of the Week: The World’s Goofiest-Looking Spider Is Actually a Brutal Ninja Among Inspector Gadget’s many strange features—teeth that fly around on their own (go, go gadget teeth) and a flower that pops out of his hat (go, go gadget flower) and of course gadget Spanish translation—it’s his telescoping neck that seems to most defy conventional biology. But it’d be hard to argue that a super-long neck doesn’t come in handy in a pinch. More absurd creatures: The Anglerfish and the Absolute Worst Sex on Earth The Zombie Ant and the Fungus That Controls Its Mind Enormous Hermit Crab Tears Through Coconuts, Eats Kittens Just ask the bizarre assassin spiders of Australia, South America, and Madagascar, with their craning necks and enormous jaws and general what-in-the-what-now appearance. These beauties (also known appropriately enough as pelican spiders) hunt other spiders, and by deploying their jaws out 90 degrees from […]

[amazon template=banner easy&asin=0500286426] Holiday Gift Guide: Cool Tech for Teens and College Students “Kids sure do grow up fast.” You hear that a lot when you’re a parent, but it still doesn’t prepare you for that moment when you realize your young child is now a young adult. One day you’re driving them to preschool; the next, they’re getting their driver’s license. This gift guide is dedicated to picks for that teen or college student in your life. While they might have grown out of Elf on a Shelf, they certainly won’t tire of getting awesome presents. Cool for school Getting a gift meant to help with schoolwork might not seem like the most fun or exciting thing in the world, but it can be incredibly useful. Secretly, your kids will thank you. Perfect for a student is the Lenovo Yoga 2 (11-inch) laptop. This versatile Windows PC convertible features […]