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Tech news from the past seven days (Vol. 5)

While you were working…

Although computers are getting smarter, there’s an ever-increasing need for people who can understand them, but also for strategies and procedures to govern the new uncharted waters of data and data security. Big companies seem to have an advantage in the data-driven world already, but the need for people who understand how to work with data is still a vital, unsatisfied component, especially when the smallest mistakes in CRM data can cause very expensive productivity drains. And the future of data privacy and ownership remains uncertain again, as was shown by Pirate’s Bay quick rebound back from the dead.

On a brighter note, there are some exciting advances that are likely to change how we work with technology. Mobile is more important than ever, its latest disruption comes in the stock industry. Even Microsoft came out with a new mobile-friendly operating system. Disruption is happening not only in the app marketplace: JPEG’s 20-year domination of online graphics may be ending, and soon anyone might be able to land planes with their mind.

Technology is leaping foreward, and we must ensure that our understanding of it, and our ability to manage it ethically keeps pace with it.

Tech Trends

  • Machine intelligence is a blessing for big companies. Computers are steadily acquiring the capacities to think, read, write, and detect sensory changes in their environments, and this progression is already causing big changes in business, says Bloomberg Beta’s VC Shivon Zilis. She finds that big businesses are the winners amid much of this change, due to the deadly-effective algorithms that their already-massive data sets and constant customer interactions allow them to create.
  • Wearables are taking over the workforce. Web-enabled watches, glasses, headgear, and other “wearables” are becoming a ubiquitous sight in today’s workplaces, and there are upsides and downsides to this, writes Chris Bruce in TechCrunch. Bruce notes that businesses could use the devices to more effectively monitor workplace productivity and to increase employee engagement, but they also pose new risks of data breaches and privacy violations.
  • You can kill Pirate Bay, but you can’t kill torrenting. Although Swedish police shut down Pirate Bay, the world’s largest torrent file-sharing site, torrenting activity is as robust as ever, reports Darren Orf of Gizmodo. He doubts that law enforcement anywhere could ever succeed in putting a stop to torrenting.

For Those in Software Development

  • The demise of JPEG is around the corner. Sebastian Anthony of ExtremeTech marvels at JPEG’s continued domination of online graphics, which he points out has gone on for the past two decades. Several new file formats have arisen to replace it since then, but JPEG has trounced each. He thinks a new challenger called BPG might stand a chance, though.
  • Keep an eye on your CRM data. Business owners who want to cut costs and waste should look closely at their Customer Relationship Management systems, according to Ben Rossi of Information Age. He warns that just a few data errors in a few places can be all it takes to create larger problems across the board.
  • A new Windows is coming, and it will be mobile-friendly. Microsoft will release its new Windows 10 on Jan. 21, 2015. Among its selling points: A version called Windows 10 mobile SKU will be optimal for mobile devices, including the Microsoft Phone and any ARM-based tablet.

Transforming Industries

  • Stock trading? There’s an app for that. The new Robinhood app could shake up stock trading. The new arrival in the iOS app store lets users buy and sell stocks at the push of a button. Josh Constine of TechCrunch expects that it might draw large numbers of young, less-wealthy professionals to the stock market while posing steep competition to current, costlier stock-trading services like E*Trade and Scottrade.

Innovation of the Week

  • Your mind could land planes. New brain-wave reading software (paywall) will make it possible to fly and land planes using neural impulses, instead of carefully trained physical coordination required today. Following the experiments, all participants, including people with no previous flight experience, where able to land the DA42 aircraft.
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