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The week in review: Tech news from the past 7 days

While you were working…

Times are tough for PC manufacturers: Apple, Microsoft, and Google are all vying for a shrinking customer base. Server manufacturer HP is struggling against Asian rivals for dominance of the data center market. Job requirements are also shifting, as the Internet of Things trend drives big changes to the types of skills and tools candidates must possess, such as working with NoSQL databases. Data security is also top of mind: collecting big data is spurring calls for protection of consumer privacy, while NSA offers developers new open source tools. And soon, companies like Pizza Hut will be able to figure out what you’re thinking, though for now, only to order the pizza.

Tech Trends

  • It’s a bear market for PCs and their operating systems. PC sales declined another 3% this year and will not rebound any year coming up, according to IDC. They predict that makers of operating systems (OS) and hardware (OEM) are likely to face a stagnating market with most sales taking the form of orders for replacement parts. While Apple and Google may make some gains, Microsoft may struggle to hold onto its existing customer base.
  • The Internet of Things is remaking the job market. Whether you are an IT student or a seasoned executive, the pressure is mounting to be more innovative and creative than ever before. The driving force is the Internet of Things, which is the latest buzzword used to describe everyday objects outfitted with sensors that connect them to the Web. Sarah Miller Caldicott, writing in Forbes, encourages organizations everywhere to create internal “experiential learning centers,” and advises career seekers to learn more coding languages, get comfortable recognizing patterns, and master associative thinking, collaboration, and communication.

  • It may be time for a “new deal” on data collection. With the era of big data in full swing, companies and researchers collect ever-growing amounts of data about us and our everyday activities. All of this is potentially problematic, as there are no set standards for keeping the data secure and for keeping the individuals whose data is being collected anonymous. Alex Pentland, MIT professor, calls for a “New Deal on Data” by which consumers would all have greater transparency over what data is being collected and why. They would also have means of opting out of the data-collection pool if we wish.

For those in software development

  • The NSA lends open-source a helping hand. The NSA and “open” rarely share the same sentence, but here is an exception: The agency recently released a software product called Niagarafiles to the open source community. The program, which facilitates data flows and accelerates transfers of information, is reportedly one of several software programs that the NSA will be open sourcing.
  • Security meets the mobile workforce. More and more workers today are mobile workers and need on-the-go access to their companies’ data from afar. Ensuring their access while keeping the data secure is a new challenge, but it can be done. IT professionals at Vanguard, Seattle Children’s Hospital, and Dunlap Regional Hospital offer some real-life lessons.
  • NoSQL databases are must-have things for the Internet of Things. Good old “relational databases” that present data in simple tables of rows and columns have served users well and will continue to do so. But not if their projects involve the Internet of Things. A new Machina Research study finds that NoSQL databases, which model data in additional ways besides tables, are better suited to the task of managing multiple streams of data from myriad sensors, devices, and gateways. It’s best to use a relational database when working with one cohesive, uniform data set.

Transforming industries

  • Cloud technologies for crowdsourced data analysis. Soon, data can become franchised. The new business intelligence (BI) platform-as-a-service model will not only allow many more smaller companies access to analytics, but it can also create “collaborative” analyses derived from data pooled from all the platform’s users.

Innovation of the Week

  • Computers will know what pizza you want before you do.
    As if your data wasn’t everywhere, Pizza Hut is coming up with new technology that can read your mind. They are making use of eye-tracking technology to improve their pizza ordering process – and so far the system has been 98% accurate.
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