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Keep Calm and Continue On….

Update!  Just one week to go before our last gadget episode of the series ~ make sure to send us any thing you would like reviewed in the forum which is linked below.

What’s in a name? Continuation of Business or COB

The US government website quotes this – “Business continuity impact analysis identifies the effects resulting from disruption of business functions and processes. It also uses information to make decisions about recovery priorities and strategies.” 1.

What companies and individuals want to do is mitigate your risk when you look at how to back up, store and access information.

The headspace of walking out scenarios for companies isn’t all that different than what you do for your home dependant on where you live.

If you have an environment that requires you to have something as a power grid back up, you have generators for high risk premises like a hospital or candles and flashlights if you are in a home without life critical devices

If you live in a part of the world that floods often, you likely have a dam system or – at the very least filled sandbags ready to go!

Continuation of Business is the method around how and when you continue to run your business during adverse times and conditions.

A checklist of the following is always useful when it comes to fhis.

Do a Risk assessment of your firm and decide what assets are the most important to have backed up at another location should you be unable to access where you are.     With a Business Impact Analysis (BIA) you highlight which departments need to be running 24/7 and how you will achieve that – as an example – payroll access and the accounting department technology in general should always have redundant plans for obvious reasons.

What is critical to your Business – and what aspects have what I call domino dependencies?   As an example – Email and text applications are a critical function to most organizations – you will need those to communicate with the companies personnel.  But the domino effect is you can’t communicate if all the devices are not in hand outside of the office environment.  Do you need to furnish cellular devices or have laptops at another location or do you have policies in place that ensure that everyone has access to operating systems they would need to make do for 24, 48 or 72 hours – not to mention a year and up?

How will you recover and how do you tie the emergency work arounds back to your integration of the office? The biggest example is today in July of 2021.  Countries are opening up slowly after COVID restrictions have been in place for over a year and a half.

So how do you bring forward all the work and decisions that were made within an organization and tie them into a new way of working and communicating as people work out the new normal of doing things.  Depending on the company vertical,  those questions are very different.   A Food and Beverage company allowing on premise patrons will go through a very different check list than the financial vertical like the folks in the banking sector.

Where are your backup and restoration processes?   By your organization being down,  have you missed upgrading patches to operating systems that are usually rolled in by the IT department?  Have the rules changed for PCI compliance or what do you need to make your technology as whole as possible with the ability to support the staff returning?

Finally it is VERY IMPORTANT to test all of the above before there is any emergency – I know, I know – COVID hit all of us quickly and there were many organizations that scrambled in March and April of 2020 to even do baseline functions.

If we have learned anything from this pandemic, let it be that we should be prepared for the worst that may come, but pause a moment every day and enjoy and be grateful for whatever the best is in that day.

Join us next week for our 2nd gadget show – where cool things get reviewed!

Business Continuity Plan

The Hub and Spoke Model

We continue on today from last week in discussions around Cloud Services and some of how that relates to Contact Centres

What’s in a name? Software as a Service or SAAS

SalesForce – one of the largest providers of SAAS defines it this way…

“Software as a service is a way of delivering centrally hosted applications over the internet as a service. SaaS applications are sometimes known by other names:

  • Web-based software
  • On-demand software
  • Hosted software

According to TechTarget, “In the software on demand SaaS model, the provider gives customers network-based access to a single copy of an application that the provider created specifically for SaaS distribution.” This application runs on the SaaS provider’s servers, freeing the software’s users from a number of responsibilities.” 1.

Software-as-a-Service is accessed through your web browser with a URL, with you logging onto the application using a username and password. As discussed last week, the advantages are many as you have access to the information on a variety of devices across multiple operating system platforms.

As an example …. you have your iPhone, a Microsoft surface tablet, and Kindle device. Those operating systems are all different in the back end and have proprietary software and hardware designs to each of those organizations. However if you log into the YouTube app, loaded on all those devices, and use with your name and password, your experience of YouTube is ostensibly the same. YouTube is a SAAS application that you have access to – because no one but a huge provider could support the server farm that houses all those billions of videos!!

21 years ago this year, the first Cloud Based Contact Centre was born.

Based on the Mordor Intelligence folks, the cloud-based contact center market was valued at 161 million USD in 2020, and it is expected to reach 518 million USD by 2026, – a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 21.8% over the forecast measured period of 2021 – 2026. 2

A Contact centre, is a big catch all for all kinds of information flows.  Back in the day we have all called into an 800 number and either been answered directly or been walked though a push 1 or 2 scenario.

But today, there are many ways to communicate with a company’s contact centre whether it be through SMS, text, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram Readit – you get the idea.

With the onset of extreme global change around COVID last year, companies were quickly pushed to adapt and overcome.  When a large contingent of services went to a work from home environment, banks, retail, health care, media and even entertainment changed the business model in order to maintain some semblance of their business frameworks.

A contact centre is about communication but not all that communication is verbal – it could be via email, text, or even through payment systems. It’s model is very similar to the famous original model of FedEx’s hub and spoke – incorporated in October of 1997.

At FedEx, everything is shipped into a central place for sorting and then sent back out in the best mode possible to achieve customer satisfaction and timely service.

At a Contact Centre, all bookings, issues, complaints, and revenue flow in through one central repository.  The contact centre then deals with what is presented and ensures that the customer has a satisfactory resolution.

We all are only guessing as to what expanded the future of this means – but I suggest that society will not go back to pre COVID forms of fractured communications – some of those ways are thankfully broken and there isn’t a good reason not to take the teachings of the last year and a half and incorporate them into stronger more viable ways of communicating with contact centres globally through the cloud.

That’s all for today – join us next week when we discuss how to keep all these cloud services fully redundant and ready for almost any emergency – or what we like to call Continuation of Business.

What is SaaS? A Guide to Software as a Service

Cloud Based Contact Center Market Share, Growth | Industry Trends 2021 to 2026 with COVID Impact – Mordor Intelligence

“I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now…”

 

I hope everyone in Canada and the United States had a good long weekend last week and enjoyed their vacation time – it’s important to celebrate the holidays and spend time with our loved ones as the world slowly peeks around the corner from months and months of lockdowns.

As we move forward in July, just a reminder to let us know about any tech gadgets you’d like reviewed or discussed for our next gadget show on our Tea and Tech Podcast out on July 27th.

What’s in a name?

The “Cloud”

This is a term that has come to be a buzz word in many organizations but the reality is that it refers to servers that are accessed over the Internet globally, along with the software and databases that run on those servers.

Cloud servers are located in data centres all over the world and, by using hardware this way, individuals and organizations do not have to manage physical space.  This also negates the need for large hub rooms at companies or a robust IT department to run all the software, patches and break/fix issues.

“The Cloud” enables users to access the same files and applications from almost any device.  The computing and storage takes place on servers in a data centres, instead of locally on the single user device such as your phone.

As a prime example,  this is why you can log into your Instagram account on a new device and still find all your content available (photos, videos, and conversation history etc)

It works the same way with cloud email providers like Apple, Gmail or Microsoft Office and with cloud storage providers such as DropBox, iCloud and Google Drive – all applications that are based on your sign on from any device not something that is device specific.  It’s like a master key for your information as opposed to a specific key that you need when you log on to your device.

Early In 2010 President Obama’s administration laid out a 90-page document, that drafted the potential security requirements needed to help federal government agencies adopt cloud computing technologies and services.

The document, titled “Proposed Security Assessment and Authorization for U.S. Government Cloud Computing,” looks to identify security and risk assessment requirements that must be met in order for the government to move to the cloud. These are noted in the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program – known as FedRAMP 1.

Back in 2010, cloud computing gained traction in main stream IT departments, and it was reported that Amazon may generate 500 million dollars in new data centre cloud revenue with the potential of hitting 750 million.  2.

with the potential of hitting $750 million dollars by the next year in 2011.

Bloomberg analysis shows that as of the end of 2020, the Amazon organization billed approximately 13.5 billion dollars of profit in their web hosting services alone.

So as you can see – cloud systems are big business now and likely to stay that way!!

There are some very important up sides to cloud computing such as:

  • A reduction in infrastructure costs
  • The consolidation of data
  • A defence against disasters at the local level (COB)
  • Collaboration – something that proved VERY important when COVID hit the golbe, and
  • Compliance regulations

 

Along with convenience though comes some very real aspects of security breaches and looking back we can see how those have impacted some of our daily lives.  Microsoft, LinkedIn, Yahoo, Apple iCloud – just to name a few – have all been victims of security breaches in their cloud environment …. remember the example of some famous people being in the news when information and photos were posted due to a security breach.

The main point as a takeaway for cloud infrastructure is this though – it makes sense to centralize a main amount of information in order to access it on demand.

The trick is to know when and how to move between cloud services and your own personal hardware in order to have the information that you digitize make the most sense for you and potentially your organization.

Join us Next week when we will go deeper into cloud networks and discuss redundancy and solution based software as a service – also known as SaaS.

  1.  https://www.fedramp.gov 
  2. Amazon could generate $500 million in cloud computing revenue in 2010….

Building on Blockchain

Thank you for all the great feedback to our gadget show last week and we look forward to doing another one on July 27th please feel free to contact us on the forum link on our website and we will be happy to review or answer any questions you may have.

What’s in a name:? Blockchain

A blockchain is a type of database. It is not only technology, but it is a different way of conducting transactions that takes a minute to get your head around.

As investopedia writes “One key difference between a typical database and a blockchain is the way the data is structured. A blockchain collects information together in groups, also known as blocks, that hold sets of information.

Blocks have certain storage capacities and, when filled, are chained onto the previously filled block, forming a chain of data known as the “blockchain.”

All new information that follows that freshly added block is compiled into a newly formed block that will then also be added to the chain once filled.” 1.

A database structures its data into tables whereas a blockchain, like its name implies, structures its data into chunks (blocks) that are chained together.

This makes it so that all blockchains are databases but not all databases are blockchains.

I know, I know,  that one is a sit and think moment!

When a block is filled it is “set in stone” and becomes a part of this timeline.  Each block in the chain is given an exact timestamp when it is added to the chain.

If one user tampers with these transactions, all other nodes would cross-reference each other and easily pinpoint the node with the incorrect information. This system helps to establish an exact and transparent order of events.

As investopia goes on to state …. “This system also inherently makes an irreversible timeline of data when implemented in a decentralized nature.”

Think of going to a meeting where everyone has a paper file on a topic – you dropped a page in your file on the way down the hall to the meeting – so when you get there and are missing that page of information, the others in the meeting can pull out their pages and concur that there is one missing in your file.

Using the analogy above, from an electronic standpoint the blockchain group would concur that the many blocks with the same info are correct and yours is wrong and would be updated.

In order to change how that system works, or the information stored within it, a majority of the decentralized network’s computing power would need to agree regarding the changes.  This ensures that whatever modifications do occur, they are in the best interests of the majority.  It’s like a voting structure of information with the majority having rule over the one.

Along the premise of blockchain is that what is good for the one is good for all.  This is a completely different way of looking at information to be sure and certainly has different connotations when it comes to banking!

I have come across an organization called Global Women in Blockchain.

I will leave the link to their site below and encourage your perusal of it … it is as they say – “a mission to bring all resources for women under one umbrella to change the world.” 2.

The organization is Run by women for women all around the globe.

One of the main founding principles is cited as “Organizing and sustaining a community of women dedicated to advancing blockchain and STEM technologies to help develop and foster a support system in higher learning.

That of course is of great interest to me as we continue to grow the education side of this company and seek to create and foster a more thought provoking and open environment for women and girls interested with, and moving towards, a career in the STEM field.

Blockchain was invented to log crypto currencies – specifically BitCoin – in a decentralized manner. Instead of the one person or company holding all the currency information, it gathers it’s strength from the holistic whole which is, in this case, stronger because of the sum of its parts.

The premise of a global meshed network of people helping others along such a path in much the same way is to be encouraged. I see these models at the crossroads of technology and people – which then truly becoming a Venn diagram of use cases.

Everyone that listens to these podcasts knows how committed this organization is to helping with the education of technology – not to mention the growth of future women in tech.

I hope you have an opportunity to do your own research on ways to be involved in the industry – whether it be a path to a full time career or reading the tech blogs once a month – it is so important to understand the world around us and how all this tech works for you!

Join us next week when we discuss the first of a two part series on cloud technology – and what that buzz word really means.

 

  1.  Blockchain Explained
  2. https://globalwomeninblockchain.org

It’s Gadget Day!

Good day all and welcome to our 13th BLOG… It’s Gadget Day!!!

Today we’re going to have some fun as I do a very different blog and write about some gadgets and tools that I enjoy using – remember to send us anything you would like reviewed or suggestions for the 2nd gadget show in this series on July 27th.

None of these recommendations are compensated by the companies I’m talking about – I like them and they have been really useful in my daily life Everything I talk about today I’ll have a link to in the notes below this and at the time of publication, all these were available – and some even on sale.

One of the newest things I discovered this year was something called a V1CE business card. When you look online, You’ll find lots of materials that these cards are made of – I chose the metal one and had the company logo and QR code added to it.

The premise is simple – by passing your card over the phone of the person you wish to give your info to it picks up the integrated NFC technology and transfers of all the particulars you want to share.  The best part here is that those particulars are fully customizable by you at any time online.

There are social media links as well to embed with your info however you want.   I love this card – no more ordering stock cards that need changing – although you can’t drop this one in the bowl for a draw to win a free lunch.

My next 4 selections are a shout out to both the companies Twelve South and JOTO in the United States

I’ve got a number of Twelve South items  and their quality is really top notch .

I’ll put these under organization gadgets.

The first product is a great case for your AirPods called air snap .

The thing I like most about this is that it is a snug leather holder for your AirPods case but has a quick attach clasp so you can attach them to a zipper on your backpack or purse and they are quick to find and easy to store back.  I’ve had a few friends that have lost an individual AirPod but taking them out of their ears and shoving them in a pocket to put them away later and never to notice that one falls out.

Airsnap keeps the case close and of course has the cut out at the bottom for easy charging or in the newer version allows for the wireless charging well.

The next twelve south product is called surface snap.  It comes in a pack of three and allows for some pretty elegant ways to cable manage your desk or anything else around your home.

By attaching to the underside of your desk the cables are held in an organized fashion without having to rely on cable ties which you often have to cut away when you want to move anything around.   There is one large and two small in the pack and this has made crawling under desks a thing of the past – love these!

The next is A JOTO Electronics Organizer, which is exactly as it sounds an Organizer for Electronics Accessories, Tools, an SD card – or really anything you want to keep handy.

I have the large one and the strong elastic weave pattern allows you to fit your things snuggly into the grids while not taking up the space of a carry pouch in your backpack. Plus it is super easy to see where everything is when you pull it out and only grab what you want… I have a few cords and a plug plus memory cards for my camera and assorted gadgets for the day.

The fourth product is called a compass pro – also a Twelve South product – and I’m looking at it right now as it supports my iPad which has all my notes.

This tiny easel folds away to something the size of two pens and is multi functional and so easy to take with you to the coffee shop or really anywhere you want to prop up an iPad product.

Speaking of Apple … I have to give a shout out to the two products I use most in my home now …

The discontinuation of the large home pod was a sad day for me as an audiophile, but I am genuinely pleased with it’s smaller cousin that is now out on the market and I have one here in the office.

I use it in the centre of the conference table as conference phone speaker and when working as the source of my background thinking music.  It is clear and really has a pure tone quality – test one with your favourite song whose instrumentals you know like the back of your hand – you’ll get all the right ebbs and flows in all the right places and the price point is definitely more attractive.

The second Apple product I am now attached to (literally) is the airtag.  My Dad always had a good pocket knife on him which came in handy on so many occasions so over the years I have followed that example … but boy do I put that knife down everywhere only to need it the next day and go hunting around trying to find it … now I can see it with exacting directions.

The pocket knife in question is the next item I recommend – Swiss Army, in my opinion, makes the best small pocket knives and I”ve opted for the farmers line that has lots of options – including the all important cooler/beer bottle opener.

Anything that is small and multipurpose like a swiss army knife really is a gadget to treasure.

Items that I like for one of my worst or best habits depending on the day are fidget toys – a professor of mine once said an active mind needs fidget toys to help slow down the thoughts a bit and I truly can’t remember a time not playing with something at my desk while folks talked on calls or in meetings…

I have learned over the years, that the quieter fidget toys are better but let’s be honest there is nothing like the a Newton’s Cradle to hypnotize you as you literally see the physics of cause and effect playing out in front of you. Just Make sure you’re on mute for that one though … play the toy then say ooooopppps …

And finally a few things that I truly enjoy that get me through my day …

A big shout out to David’s Tea here in Canada who make some of the most delicious teas you can find.   The iced Frozen Raspberry is my all time favourite – it tastes like the raspberries right off the bush and with a bit of mint from the garden is so so refreshing!!!

Holding that tea is my lock top black tea mug – it comes with the infuser but as a crossover to the above fidget toys the lock top is one of the most satisfying – and quiet – fidget lids!!  There is a saying in shopping – if one is good two are better – so I may have more than one 🙂

SAJE – also here in Canada – has a line of roll on oils that are amazing – but the one that I use the most is Peppermint Halo!

When life seems much,  I roll on a bit around my hairline and in the palms of my hands. I then cup them to my nose and breath deeply. That smell is so calming and really feels relaxing – some folks use it when they feel a headache coming on and a friend of mine swears by it when he feels some levels of anxiety starting … short of petting my dog this is the my go to for a calming oasis!!!

The last item is also a crossover and I doubt you will find allot of men on you tube reviewing this one – under the category of “yes I am a geek girl and proud of it” is the pop socket for the back of your phone – those are pretty satisfying in and of themselves to play with but this one does double duty.

One of the styles has The lid to the pop socket pops up and has Burt’s Bee’s lip balm inside!   Honestly this is just fun!   Popsockets have other lip balms available, but I love the Burt’s Bee’s one so I’ll be honest and say I haven’t tried the lavender and vanilla or any of the others.

That’s all for today = I hope you found a few of these useful and let us know in the forum if you tried any or like something else – remember this is a women asking women network for all kinds of things!

Join us next week when we dive into the why’s and whats of Blockchain – which is not your average banking system!

V1CE card:   https://v1ce.co

Air Snap:      https://www.twelvesouth.com/products/airsnap-for-airpods

Surface Snap:   https://www.twelvesouth.com/products/surfacesnap

JOTO Organizer:  https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B01FD6D59I/ref=ox_sc_saved_image_10?smid=A2C3SMXXIDC93V&psc=1

Compass Pro:   https://www.twelvesouth.com/products/compass-pro

Apple HomePod:   https://www.apple.com/ca/shop/buy-homepod/homepod-mini/space-grey

Apple AirTag: https://www.apple.com/ca/shop/buy-airtag/airtag

Swiss Army Pocket Knife:   https://www.amazon.ca/Victorinox-53964-Farmer-Pocket-Silver/dp/B0007QCOO2/ref=sr_1_41?crid=126GAEMMH1HIR&dchild=1&keywords=swiss+army+knife&qid=1623263329&sprefix=swiss+army+%2Caps%2C180&sr=8-41

Newton’s Cradle:   https://www.amazon.ca/Newtons-Cradle-Wood-Base-BLK/dp/B07KXWZY7H/ref=sr_1_5?dchild=1&keywords=newtons+cradle&qid=1623263067&sr=8-5

David’s Tea ~ Frozen Raspberry Tea:   https://www.davidstea.com/ca_en/tea/frozen-raspberry/10612DT01VAR0040169.html

David’s Tea – Black Lock Top Mug:   https://www.davidstea.com/ca_en/lock-top-black/904101DT01.html?dwvar_904101DT01_color=Black&cgid=#q=black%2B&lang=en_CA&start=1

SAJE ~ Peppermint Halo:   https://www.saje.com/ca/product/peppermint-halo-4314.html

PoP Sockets~ Burt’s Bees lip balm:  https://www.popsockets.com/en-us/p/popgrip-lips-x-burts-bees-sunny-bee/QRX-CMF-burts-sunny-bee.html

 

 

This is a hold up!

 

Today we will be discussing Ransomware and how it has impacted so many of us – specifically in the last two weeks.

Just a reminder – We have our gadget show next week on June 15th and another one on July 27th so be sure to post any questions or suggestions and we will happily review them. I’ll leave the link to the forum in the show notes below as well.

What’s in a Name?

Ransomware – Here are a couple of definitions from experienced data journalists

With ransomware, a hacker slips into a system, then puts encryption controls in place that locks users out. The hackers then demand money to “unlock” the data.— Elizabeth Millard

Today’s ransomware scammers often demand payment in bitcoin because the digital currency is easy to use, fast, and provides a heightened anonymity for the scammers, according to the FBI warning.— Susan Tompor

The landscape of the digital world changed dramatically in 2013 with the introduction of Ransomware technology. to watch the news these days, you do feel the perpetrators have more control over us than we ever expected.

When ransomware first came out, we would all hear of cellular devices being “bricked” or individual computers locked out until a fee or ransom was paid – back then usually a couple of thousand of dollars…

But look at where we are literally today with major industries such as both Gas pipelines and the meat supply chains being effected in just the last four weeks.

The two cases I refer to are the Colonial Pipeline and JBS Meats

  1. the hack of the Colonial Pipeline a month ago shut down the plant , which incidentally controls 45% of fuel on the Eastern U.S. seaboard. This of course led to large scale panic in gasoline buying along with many gas stations being closed for more than a couple of days.
  2. The JBS meat plant a couple of weeks later is the largest plant of its kind in the world.

Both these ransomware attacks came at a considerable cost not only financially but through major supply chain disruptions. The goal of the hackers is to put these large corporations in such a place that they will pay the millions requested in ransom to release the systems back.

Colonial Pipeline payed the Darknet hackers – suspected of having a Russian origin – the equivalent of 4.4 million bitcoin – allot of which just hours before this podcast aired – was transactionally traced by the FBI and recovered this morning.

One of the offshoots of this was many phishing attacks sent to other company emails under the guise of the heading “help desk” asking the user to click on the link to avoid having the same ransomware done to their company – Of course the issue is that this was exactly what was enabled when you clicked the link.

It’s exhausting to try and maintain such a high level of vigilance in any organization – you have to be correct 100% of the time where as the hacker only needs a one off to set a chain of events in motion that creates a consumer frenzy due to a race for the resource.

The same type of hacking event transpired at JBS Meats at the end of May and CNBC business news noted that due to the hack the plant was down 22% in cattle production and 19.6% in Pork production globally. While JBS managed to get their services online relatively quickly in many of the countries where they have a presence .. the rumours of prices escalating due to the hack had market and industry experts in a tizzy for about 48 hours.

Due to the wide reach these two consumer services, we see how such attacks are consequential to our societies and how much work it is to lock out foreign actors.

In the United States, President Biden’s department of justice going forward will now be treating the investigation of such attacks as terrorism.

One expert in the field of cybersecurity is Michelle Johnson Cobb. In the past, she has discussed several solutions towards integrated security controls and their databases, threat assessments, and the sharing of sensitive classified threat information from countries around the world.

Michelle notes that there are 3 things to keep in mind while shoring up organizational risks. From her interview with DarkReading on Vimeo she cites the following:

  1. Be able to audit your security controls and understand what they are doing
  2. Do an end to end analysis looking for open access passes from a physical environment to a cloud based solution and ensure that information cannot leave the organization on the way through
  3. Engage in vulnerability management – an example looking for patch management and change management protocols .. that will greatly reduce risks.

On the topic of employment in the field, Michelle raises an excellent point that I will second here. Today, there is a gap of over one million jobs in the US in the field of cybersecurity – A statistic from a couple of years ago shows that 58% of women in the field have advanced computer science and engineering degrees compared to 47% of men.

But somewhere between graduating and getting on the career path, women are turning away – or being turned away from – cyber security. On a personal note, and as one of the only women in the majority of my meetings, I will say that it is critically important to have widely diverse teams to discuss cyber security from all the possible angles.

And as one of my heroes Ruth Bader Ginsberg said,  “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made.”

Cyber security jobs are on the rise and it is of critical importance to promote and recruit women into a field that will only grow in importance as the years go on.

Personally – I have built my company into two tiers this year – the client consultative arm and the education arm – from which the Tea and Tech Podcast and this blog was born.

We have much work to do to encourage female youth in the field of STEM. I hope if you are reading this and know of any young women that are interested, you help them further and hopefully they will be a part of the growing work force required in the coming few years.

Next week we are reviewing gadgets and a few things that are just helpful for your peace of mind whether you are designing flawless networks or enjoying a cup of tea.

cam.

Skybox on Dark Reading: Integrated Security Platform

Garçon the wine list s’il vous plait!

Welcome back to the Blog!

This series will offer another 10 posts and…where we focused on definitions of networks and architecture in the first set of 10 posts – this series will do a more deep dive into how different technologies are used in our daily lives. We may use the past blogs as reference points in the footnotes, so if you need to catch up on a specific topic you can find the link there.

Also in this series – which I’m very excited about – we will have two posts dedicated to useful and – let’s be honest – very cool tech gadgets and apps.

I’m looking forward to your posts on the forum for anything you would like me to review so please don’t hesitate to ask! We have those coming up on June 15th and July 27th so be sure to post any questions or suggestions and we will review them. I’ll leave the link to the forum in the show notes below as well.

What’s in a name? Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) …

Here is the difference between the two things.

  1. Machine Learning is: a current application that gives machines access to data and lets them learn it for themselves.
  2. Artificial Intelligence is: the broader concept of machines that have now learned the information and are then able to carry out tasks in a way that we would consider “smart”.

Today I’m going to chat about Artificial Intelligence and how it is making its way into our main streets touching things that we do every day.

To start on this journey of AI we are going to focus on wine – so cheers to you all! It’s always 5pm somewhere right? …. and you’ll be looking at your next glass differently when you read how artificial intelligence has become a partner in how we drink wine.

As we know, wine has been around for thousands of years,  but the wine you enjoy today has likely had a variety of technical supports that were never available save for the last decade or so.

Along with drones patrolling the vineyard to send messages back to the farmer about which vines needed attention, or what land soil requires more nutrients, Imagine a patented technology that merges the human sensory system and AI in order to offer interesting recommendations to you. This is something completely different than the Institute of Masters of wine and certainly not the NOSE of the relatively few real master sommeliers around the globe.

However Pam Dillon CEO of Wine Ring , and her partners, have created an AI patented technology that allows the algorithm to combine it’s machine learning with your input of your likes and dislikes and come up with recommendations for wines that hit the mark of what you would want to drink.

Holding several patented technologies, Wine Ring has the most comprehensive database in the world and has created a technology in Artificial Intelligence through Machine Learning that is based on the stack of the network interface.

For more detailed drawings of the stack you can head over to the patents list on the winering.com site …but for now imagine two sets of information being poured into a glass to create the perfect wine choice.

On the left – the input is from the digital stack of AI that has had machine learning through certified wine experts on all the notes and components of thousands of types of wine.  From the right input, is your human gut feeling on what you like – which is often based on your senses of taste, smell, and, to some degree, even the experience of where you were when you had the wine which is a fairly esoteric experience.

I will personally never forget a glass of wine I had in Santa Barbara on a business trip – our table was outside and I could hear the waves of the ocean and saw the majestic Santa Yuz mountains on one a clear day in June with a picture perfect blue sky. That ice cold white zinfandel went on to be a favourite of mine, but I will confess that it has never tasted quite the same as it did that idyllic day

Wine Ring’s amazing patented technology has, as Pam Dillon describes it, “software that works as a sensory product and is able to refine the most complex data in order to learn how to offer you back suggestions from the database that take into account your likes. The AI does this by rationalizing the inputs you have made and matching them with the machine learned information in order to offer you that perfect bottle of wine you haven’t heard of but will become your new favourite.

This software was built by PHd’s in physiology and mathematics along with one of the largest groups of wine experts in the world.

Pam Dillon is a ground breaker in the AI field of technology. She has been nominated this season for an award for AI Entrepreneurship and I wish her much success at the event in July.

AI is here in our lives – likely in ways that go unnoticed by us in many instances – but look around and question and wonder how technology is making planned (or in some cases we will get into next week) unplanned decisions for your world.

Be curious and ask questions – the more we educate ourselves the more we can be conscience of technology and what it offers.

I’m really looking forward to exploring many tech advances with you in this series – and don’t forget to drop us any questions or requests in the forum for our Gadgets series coming in two weeks

I’ll leave you with a suggestion of an app for your phone that I recently downloaded and now use every day.

My Mind is an app that takes your screenshots and links and pics and sorts them and tags them – yes using AI – into a slick interface that is so easy to look at and use.

Things that you don’t want to forget are searchable with it’s use of AI even if you haven’t attached any tags of your own – put in a picture of a green car and searching under green will bring the pic up for you. It really is a great extension of your own mind to remember things and populates across all your devices with single sign in.

Join me next week for part two of Machine Learning and AI – along with a discussion of the dreaded Ransomware that has shown itself even more over the last two weeks.

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Wine Ring

How AI will Revolutionize the Future of Wine

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LgNS-xU2FN0

 

The World We Live In ~ Part 2

Welcome to the Blog  ~ number 10 and the final in our first series for 2021’s first quarter.

We will be starting up Series 2 – also with 10 podcasts and blogs, on June 1 and have more discussions and interviews with thought leaders around how technology shapes our lives.

Artificial intelligence … This is machine learned “thinking” that are programmed algorithms to make highly advanced software determinations in fractions of seconds.

Here is one of the things that has me do a sit and think … We have become so used to hearing the phrase “it’s says so on the computer” … it concerns me how much credence we have all given to an inanimate object.

Are computers here to stay?  It’s most likely they are – failing some massive electromagnetic wave pulsing mechanism that covers the globe and takes down all the servers and switches ,… but I’ve only seen that fantasy on Star Trek – so yes it is my view that in my life time and many generations to come these bits and bytes machines are running allot of how we interact with the each other and the world.

What impact are all those AI algorithms having on our lives?

Large conglomerates are responsible for the direction that the programmes take… How is our data manipulated and cycled back to us as specific topics, advertisements or how others interact with us?

An excellent example of this is In the the most recent article of the science based journal Phys.Org– written by Emily Storz of Drexell University.

In an interview with Dr. Kelly Joyce, a Professor of Sociology at the Centre for Science, Technology and Society Dr. Joyce notes this “The coronavirus pandemic has sped up the use of AI and automation to replace human workers, as part of the effort to minimize the risks associated with face-to-face interactions.”1.

She expands on that thought by noting that “Increasingly we are seeing examples of algorithms that are intensifying existing inequalities. As institutions such as education, healthcare, warfare, and work adopt these systems, we must remediate this inequity.” 1.

Let’s look at a life example that is relevant to headlines today ….

AI practitioners may not be aware that data about X (e.g., ZIP codes, health records, location of highways) may also be data about Y (e.g., class, gender, race inequalities, or socioeconomic status),” said Joyce, who is the lead author of this study.

“They may think, for example, that ZIP codes are a neutral piece of data that apply to all people in an equal manner instead of understanding that ZIP codes often also provide information about race and class due to segregation.

This lack of understanding has resulted in the acceleration and intensification of inequalities as Machine Learning systems are developed and deployed.”

“Identifying correlations between vulnerable groups and life chances, AI systems accept these correlations as causation, and use them to make decisions about interventions going forward. In this way, AI systems do not create new futures, but rather replicate the durable inequalities that exist in a particular social world,” explains Joyce 1.

We as a society, have allot to understand about how every key stroke of our data is being used.  With such examples of those by Dr. Joyce, we need to all start to have more comprehensive opinions on how and why this technology is being used on our behalf.

As I’ve said before, this is the goal the website forum and our podcast entitled Tea and Tech.   The education of ourselves and others We want to gather together and discuss how we can help and shape the tech world going forward. What do we want our world and that of our children’s world to be.

This topic is as massive as all the conduit fibre tying us together!!

Stay tuned here for more Blog news ~ Please post your thoughts on our forum … we are excited to have honest conversations around all of this – and see you in Series two on June 1 2021 as we do just that!

 

  1.  https://phys.org/news/2021-04-future-artificial-intelligence-requires-guidance.html

The World We Live In

ARPANET – which stands for Advanced Research Projects Agency Network is the original computer-based mail and messaging that became possible with the time-sharing of computers in the early 1960’s.  Over time, a complex web of gateways and routing systems linked allot of them together allowing a common basis of interoperability.

Many of the universities in the United States were part of ARPANET, The aim was to enable software portability among its systems… so someone had what I like to call a “sit and think” and decided the smarter route to go would be to attach the function of email to software not hardware … I guess you can thank them for the constant alerts on your device….

Over the past 8 weeks, we’ve discussed some of the different ways technology has impacted our lives and the physical mediums that move electronic bits and bytes around the globe.  We’ve chatted about a variety of topics From WANS, VPNS, ENCRYPTION, GPS AND COMPRESSION TYPES – and as I’m sure you know – barely scratched the surface of any of these.

When you start really disecting where and why things exist and how they came to be, its pretty fascinating.

Steve Jobs famously said  “Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it… Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.”

I think that one of the casualties of the 24 by 7 always “on” culture is that our headspace seems to have shrunk when it comes to research and investigating topics in more depth – I know that’s easy to say – so many of us are consumed with things that get in the way of the “sit and think” and we research the why’s very little these days.

But, rightly or wrongly, this world is run on technology …. however I advance the argument that technology doesn’t have to frustrate and consume you.

When you come up against something that doesn’t’ make sense, find a way to break down the information about it into smaller pieces to understand what and why that technology exists.

Technologically, I think we are at a tipping point around the world – heightened by this pandemic that we have all been living with the last 13 or more months, technology has been utilized more in the last year or so and at a greater speed than anytime in the last decade.

As historian and world renowned author, Yuval Noah Harari said “Decisions that in normal times could take years of deliberation are passed in a matter of hours during a crisis. “

How many corporations around the globe changed the way they ran their business in a matter of a few short weeks once the world went into lockdown. Most of these changes were fuelled by the tech industry and, while there are some that are not proving out to be positive, many of them have allowed us to stay connected together while apart – certainly in ways that we wouldn’t even have envisioned in 2019.

There are many and varied technologies that we will explore together as we go forward but more and more I will be writing on the whys.

Don’t be hesitant to ask yourself a couple of questions as you live in the day to day technological world…

  1. Someone made this technical product and decisions around how it works – was it the right one for this time or could it be better? and
  2. Does it work for me and what I am trying to achieve

Next week’s Blog will wrap up the 10 part series we launched back in February with a look into AI – artificial intelligence.

We will start series two on June 1 and have more in-depth discussions and interviews with thought leaders around the impacts of global technology and breakdown what it all means to your everyday world.

 

 

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Where content is Queen

After last week’s exploration of the first computer programme written by Ada Lovelace in 1843, this week we have jumped ahead more than 175 years in time to highlight the digital platform of YouTube.

MPEG, which is the acronym for Moving Picture Experts Group, are images that are compressed for transmission.

Broadcasting companies use three different kilobits per second speeds.  There is a 56 kilobits per second (Kbps), 200 Kbps or 500 Kbps speed and they all have their uses. MPEG compression allows you to pick the bit rate when encoding a moving pictures – or video as we know it.  If you think of the programmes you watch, an action film or sporting event requires a much higher bit rate to capture all the images and if you are watching a movie that has the characters more sedentary, you don’t need the same type of bit compression.

Speaking of video ….. According to Internet rankings, YouTube is the second most-visited website after Google Search and the scope of this platform is mind boggling!!  As of May 2019, there were more than 500 hours of content uploaded to YouTube each minute and one billion hours of content watched on YouTube every day.

More of the population’s younger demographic will likely never have cable and will stream news and shows over YouTube instead.

In our month end chapter to women in tech, we salute the CEO of YouTube Susan Wojcicki.  As one of the original founders of Google, she become their first marketing manager in 1999.  While leading the online advertising business, she was put in charge of Google’s first video department and while there realized how successful the small start up called YouTube was doing in the marketplace.  She put forward a proposal to her team at Google that they buy YouTube and has been their CEO since 2014.

Wojcicki studied history and literature at Harvard University and, after graduating with honors, went into the technical space after bypassing her original plans to get a graduate degree in economics.  With two masters degrees and named one of time’s 100 most influential people in 2015, Ms. Wojcicki is more than the CEO of this highly successful video platform.

She is a strong advocate in doing away with gender discrimination at technology companies and has led the charge in helping foster girls education in computer science pushing to make coding main stream in school systems today.

In the month of March, we have highlighted four past and present strong wonderful women who have changed the shape of the technological world that we live in.  As a woman in technology for the last two decades, I know some of the challenges and obstacles that they would have been through but, on a personal note, it can be a highly rewarding path to pursue.

I hope that whatever your interest is in the making of our technical world, you find your way filled with new information that allows you to make educated decisions about how you wish to engage with tech.  It impacts all our lives and it is important to understand the what and why around that.

Next week in our blog and podcast we will be looking at the past weeks discussions and how they weave into the world we live in today.