Monthly Archives: August 2017

We Found 8 Awesome Solutions to Boost Your Productivity This Year

Mindset shifts, goal-setting techniques and leather-bound planners will only go so far in helping you get more done this year. For many, data is playing a bigger role in productivity.

Today, when we need to remember something, rest or keep moving, we can now monitor how we’re faring in our environments and adjust them accordingly. And when we need to access our work quickly, connectivity and increased security can help us be productive from nearly anywhere. For instance, we have an idea of how desk height and lighting affect output, but technological and financial barriers have previously limited most people for having concrete proof of what works best for them.

To see what is on the horizon in terms of data being used to boost productivity, we checked out a range of new devices on display at CES this year to help you focus, de-stress, sleep and manage life’s little details.

Click through the slideshow to see how tech can help us accomplish more than ever thought possible with some simple-to-use tools that reduce the complexities of everyday life.

The Major Flaws Affecting PCs and Smartphones

Over the next few weeks there’s a very good chance your PC or laptop will take a significant performance hit, possibly up to 30 percent slower. Worse is the fact you can do nothing about it, as the slowdown is a side effect of fixing a major design flaw in Intel processors.

If your computer uses an Intel processor produced in the last decade, it probably contains the design flaw. Intel has not yet released a list of affected chips; it’s keeping the details under lock and key until operating system patches have been released for Linux, Windows and macOS.

As The Register reports, the flaw is thought to allow user programs to gain access to protected kernel memory areas. The kernel is the core of an operating system and controls anything and everything running on it. It is therefore extremely important the kernel memory remains secure due to the sensitive information it can contain.

Although nobody outside of Intel knows the specifics, the flaw is thought to be so serious it could allow any software, even a bit of JavaScript running in a web browser, to access and steal data stored in the protected kernel memory. So that includes your passwords, login keys or any files that happen to be cached when unauthorized access occurs.

The vulnerability alone is bad enough, but the fix makes the situation even worse. Closing the security hole will result in a significant performance hit to each system. Current estimates suggest that hit could be as high as 30 percent. You read that right, once your system is patched it may run 30 percent slower for certain tasks.

There is no way around this if your system uses an Intel chip. Some newer processor models are thought to be immune, or at least better able to work around the flaw, but until Intel releases specifics we can’t confirm which ones. If you are running an AMD processor, you’re fine. AMD confirmed its processors are not vulnerable.

Linux kernel patches are already available, with Microsoft expected to roll out the Windows patch with next week’s Patch Tuesday. Also keep in mind this flaw will impact all of Intel’s major corporate customers. Imagine how many Intel chips are running inside Amazon’s or Facebook’s datacenters, for example, and what a performance hit will mean for them.

“Contrary to some reports, any performance impacts are workload-dependent, and, for the average computer user, should not be significant and will be mitigated over time,” the company insisted.

The chip maker didn’t go into detail about the exact problem, but suggested Intel products aren’t the only ones affected. “Based on the analysis to date, many types of computing devices — with many different vendors’ processors and operating systems — are susceptible to these exploits,” it said.

Furthermore, “Intel believes these exploits do not have the potential to corrupt, modify or delete data.”

The company originally decided to disclose the bug next week, but opted to release a statement on Wednesday to address what it considered to be inaccurate media reports. It’s now delivering the software and firmware fixes to its partners.

“Check with your operating system vendor or system manufacturer and apply any available updates as soon as they are available,” Intel said.

Tech That Will Probably Die

The tech world operates just like the natural one: weeding out the chaff through cold, unsentimental natural selection. Buying habits, user behavior, societal trends, and the forward march of technological innovation always leave a heap of failed or outdated products, companies, and trends in the dust. Whether it’s a veteran device struck by the hammer of obsolescence or a new glorious entry into the Museum of Failure, for some tech it’s simply time to die.

We love predicting what tech will meet its demise in the coming year, but we don’t always get it right. In 2016, we made 11 death pool predictions. Let’s take a look at how we did:

1. GoPro. Not quite. GoPro is still releasing new action cams like the Hero 6, but its stock continues to tank as the company enters what seems like a long, slow death spiral.

2. Android Wear. Nope! Android Wear may have a murky future, but it’s not dead.

3. Windows Phones. RIP.

4. Twitter, Inc. Hell no, baby! Twitter still loses gobs of money and can barely run itself competently, but thanks to our Tweeter-in-Chief, Twitter has become an addictive dumpster fire we can’t help stare at while slow-roasting our poor souls.

5. The Galaxy Note Brand. Wrong again. Samsung somehow bounced back from its fiery phone fiasco to release a pretty great Galaxy Note 8 ($929.99 at Samsung).

6. The Barnes & Noble Nook. Somehow, Amazon’s Kindle line hasn’t quite put the final nail in Nook’s coffin. B&N announced new $50 tablets earlier in the year and began selling a new line of Nook GlowLight 3s this holiday season.

7. YouTube Red. Nope, still kickin’.

8. Google Cardboard. Kind of. Google’s DIY augmented reality headset is still available, but Google is more focused on the Daydream View ($89.90 at Amazon) as the mixed reality space grows crowded with a bevy of Windows partner headsets.

9. Marissa Mayer’s Tenure as CEO. This one was a gimme.

10. Internet Explorer. We’re going to give ourselves this one. IE still technically exists, but Microsoft Edge is the default Windows browser now and, by the way, it rocks.

11. Elon Musk. I don’t know why we keep putting Elon on here, but it stops now. ‘Ol Musky has too many irons in the fire — Tesla, SpaceX, The Boring Company, Hyperloop, Neuralink, SolarCity — for his tech to die anytime soon (or ever, if he colonizes Mars). Let the man have his lavish product reveals and pretend to be Tony Stark. He’s got too many horcruxes to be defeated.
I don’t want to throw our previous tech Nostradamus under the bus (because I’ll probably be just as wrong a year from now), but technically we only went 3/11 last year. Oof, nowhere to go but up. Please, noble commenters, don’t be shy with your opinions on this year’s picks and those technologies you don’t think will survive to see 2018. Now, on to this year’s predictions.

Structures to Improve Your Presentations

Giving presentations, whether during meetings with co-workers or to potential new clients, can often seem intimidating. But luckily, there are tried and true ways to organize your information so that it is both easy to present and clear to your audience.

In his book, The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories, Christopher Booker explains how and why all stories boil down to one of seven plot structures, and how these can act as outlines for effectively presenting all sorts of information. By organizing presentations to follow these story structures, your audience will recognize the familiar flow, and find it easy to understand you and your content.

From overcoming a monster to rags to riches, check out this QuidCorner infographic to see how these familiar storylines can help your next PowerPoint leave a lasting impression.

Bitcoin is only eight and a half years old, but it’s the oldest and most highly valued cryptocurrency out there. In such a short time, it’s had a rocky and controversial history, but it’s also attracted a fair share of high-profile supporters. Click through to read 11 bits about Bitcoin that will make you at least sound like you know what you’re talking about next time it inevitably comes up.

Things You Need to Know About Bitcoin

Even the most tech savvy among us have a hard time wrapping their heads around Bitcoin. It’s a hot topic and a frequent point of discussion among investors, entrepreneurs and stock traders, so you should want to know all about it.

For starters, here’s an overly simplified explanation of Bitcoin: It’s a digital currency (there are more than 800 now) that isn’t controlled by a central authority such as a government or bank. It’s created by “miners,” who use computers and specialized hardware to process transactions, secure the currency’s network and collect bitcoins in exchange. Supporters say it allows for more secure transactions over the internet. That’s in part due to blockchain, a technology that records cryptocurrency transactions chronologically in a public digital ledger.

Bitcoin is only eight and a half years old, but it’s the oldest and most highly valued cryptocurrency out there. In such a short time, it’s had a rocky and controversial history, but it’s also attracted a fair share of high-profile supporters. Click through to read 11 bits about Bitcoin that will make you at least sound like you know what you’re talking about next time it inevitably comes up.