By Nigel Hilton
The overwhelming opinion, especially in the gaming community, is that mobile gaming is a waste of time; the games are no good and many are so bad that they’re only played by bored housewives and little kids. Basically, its value is totally dismissed, and some pretty unfair assumptions are made about it to the point that mobile gaming rarely gets any coverage at all.
Of course, there ARE lots of bad games available on mobile platforms, but that’s true of PC and console gaming too! However, what is also true, but a great many people aren’t willing to concede, is that there are some pretty good titles available in the mobile apps stores too. Sure, they’re a bit different than PC and console games most of the time, but at the end of the day, a good game is a good game.
Still not convinced? Here are some things that might change your mind:
You Must Accept that Mobile Gaming is Different
Of course, you’re going to dismiss mobile gaming if you hold it to the same standard as your favored method of gaming, whether that be PC or console because they are not the same. Mobile gaming, by its very nature – smaller devices, touchscreen, different hardware- combined with the fact that a wider range of the population have cell phones and tablets than consoles, means that mobile games will be a little different, and yes, many of them will be filler for people to play on for a few minutes when they’re standing in line at the bank or whatever. However, just because there are some low-quality titles out there, doesn’t mean you should dismiss the medium as a whole.
There is Something for Everyone
Contrary to popular opinion, mobile gaming isn’t all about simple side-scrollers and Candy Crush style-time sucks – there are as many different genres of mobile game as there are PC games. Yes, it might take you a while to separate the wheat from the chaff, but isn’t that true of the Steam store or your local video game store too? From MMOs like Final Fantasy XV: A New Empire to great mystery/puzzle-based titles like Layton’s Mystery Journey and the ever popular Minecraft – whatever you’re into there’s a mobile game for you. You just have to be willing to give them a chance.
They’re Extremely Portable
Of course, there are a few consoles, like the recently released Nintendo Switch that allow you to take your gaming on the go, but no device is quite so convenient as your phone or tablet, which you likely carry with you everywhere and can do a whole host of other things like make calls, enable you to work, draw, play etc. all in one tiny little package. If you’re the kind of person who likes to be able to play anywhere and everywhere, you really should give mobile gaming a chance.
They are Good for Killing Time
In a similar vein, mobile games are good at killing time. Despite as I said above, some people dismissing them all as trash that is created solely to make money and keep people occupied while they stand in line, this is a definite benefit of mobile gaming. Whenever You get bored and away from your PC, you can whip out your phone and play something for a few minutes and play something, and it doesn’t have to be Angry Birds or Candy Crush – no it could be Ragnarok Online, Age of Empires, Minecraft or any number of other interesting titles.
The Medium is Only Going to Improve
With augmented reality, virtual reality, ever improving mobile hardware and the increasing popularity of mobile gaming amongst ordinary people, you can bet your bottom dollar that mobile gaming is only going one way – up.
It Increases Reaction Times
If you are a dedicated PC or console gamer, then you might find in switching it up a bit and playing a fast-paced mobile game, which allows you to use your hands even more in ways you might not be used to will improve your reaction times, so that you can play more effectively on all platforms.
You Have the Device So Why Not Use iI?
Chances are you have at least one mobile device, so why not use it to play a game or two now and again? Even if you think they’re mostly trash, you can play chess, Scrabble, and all kinds of fun games that aren’t too taxing and which will give you a break from the more serious gaming you do.
To the app store!
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by Lina Martinez
If you’re in the software startup game and are slowly creeping up to your launch date, the chances are you will be feeling a weird mix of incredible excitement and intense trepidation. All that work you have done in the past, the pain and suffering you have been through, and the countless sleepless nights spent as a startup owner, it’s all going to come to fruition – or not.
There is a lot to do in the pre-launch phase, and unless you are incredibly organized, you are likely to be worried about getting things wrong. So, you look online and find some articles with 50, 100, 250-item checklists – and you start to panic. Well, this post is designed to help you feel much better about your launch. The truth is there are only a few things you need to worry about on the whole, and today we’re going to go through them to ensure your software product is ready to roll.
Build. An. Email. List.
The most important thing you need to do before getting anywhere close to your launch date is to start building an email list. Ultimately, when that time on the calendar arrives, and you don’t have an email campaign ready to go, your launch party is going to be a damp squib. You need to attract, maintain, and engage with the right audience if you want to make sales, and all the time you spend cultivating your list, the better results it will give.
Check your market’s trends
Unless your startup is ready to launch a couple of weeks after you had the idea, you need to be keeping a close eye on market trends – even in the build-up to your release day. Even if your overall target market doesn’t change much, you will need to have a unique value proposition for each of the customer segments you intend to target. And these smaller segments tend to change a lot faster and more dramatically than an overall picture, so, what was the case a year or 18 months ago might not be the same now.
Are you a perfectionist? If so, you could be stopping your product from succeeding. A lot of software developers postpone their launch dates time and time again, pushing the release day and trying to create the ultimate product rather than the most viable. It’s a huge mistake. As pointed out over at Exceptionless.com, bugs need to be found and ironed out, but as long as you understand what your customers actually find valuable about your software, there’s nothing wrong with launching an imperfect product. No technology is launched without any problems – don‘t expect yours to be any different.
If you make a date for launch, commit to it – unless you have an exceptionally good reason. You will also need to commit to other things, such as your pricing structure, level of customer service post-launch, and training up employees. According to knowtechie.com, you might want to record a few series of webinars to help new customers iron out any common problems experienced by your early adopters or focus groups. Ultimately, the sooner the product is out there, the sooner you will know how viable it will be – and what changes you need to make as you move forward. Good luck!
Lina Martinez has her B.S. in Journalism and a regular contributor to our Politics, Life and Money sections. She once admitted over drinks to singing “Careless Whisper” in the shower. We are still trying to get her to sing it at karaoke.
By Jerry Mooney
Isn’t it strange that whenever anyone mentions the phrase ‘artificial intelligence’, it immediately makes you think of the future? You might picture robots, androids, and all kinds of Blade Runner-esque scenarios, that still seem like a wild fantasy. But the reality of AI is that it is actually here, now, and with us already. And whether you are a business owner or getting high up on the corporate ladder, it’s one of the most important and relevant subjects you need to understand.
Well over two-thirds of people in the media, technology and telecommunications industries expect AI to flourish and start having an impact on business, products and services in the next five years, and the buds are already starting to appear. Here are some of the exciting ways that AI is beginning to change business – read on to find out more.
One of the most visible examples of machine learning is facial recognition. It’s far from a perfect technology at the moment – a quick look at Facebook’s efforts to introduce it are a testament to that – and there are, of course, a few privacy concerns. But facial recognition is actually being used in a lot more places than you might think. Apple and Android phones are both starting to look into facial recognition to unlock your devices, while MasterCard is working on ‘Selfie Pay’ payments. It’s not just ultra-modern companies that are embracing the tech, either – even Chinese temples are getting involved by installing it into bathrooms to eliminate the theft of toilet paper!
Early adopting companies are already using AI to reduce the time-consuming process of recruitment. You can go to Valintry.com for a full rundown of how this works, but in essence, many companies are beginning to automate their talent screening processes. With a blend of machine learning, social, mobile and cloud technology, it’s possible for recruiters to be faster and more engaging with their operations.
AI is showing signs that it doesn’t just learn – it can also help humans learn. Services like Udacity are using AI to identify patterns and phrases that are used to make and close product sales, which then results in a bot actually giving information to human advisors. The human then uses the ‘successful’ words or phrases, and are more likely to sell the course to the prospective student.
Is it time to say goodbye to your inventory software and embrace AI instead? Perhaps – and it’s already rolling out in a number of forward-thinking companies. Take Amazon, for example. In 2012 the online shopping giant bought out Kiva Systems, a company that designed warehouse robots that could do everything from identifying stock levels, replenish produces, and even fulfil orders automatically.
It’s virtually impossible for a human to sift through the big data that every company operating online, let alone form any valuable opinions. Enter what is known as ‘opinion mining.’ It’s artificial intelligence that can read vast swathes of data, pick up patterns in sentiment, and use the information to identify trends. If you want to make use of big data, it’s definitely worth looking at.
By Jerry Mooney
Being a traveling business person is sometimes a choice, and sometimes a matter of necessity. You might need to travel to keep your business going, meeting with investors, making sales, and networking with collaborators. However, some people also choose to run a business while they travel. With the ability to access everything you need online, you can manage your business from anywhere. If you travel a lot, you’ll need the right tools to help you stay in touch with staff, clients, and more, and to get your work done. Take a look at these essentials if you’re planning on taking your business traveling.
Pic from Pexels
The first thing any traveling business person needs is the right tools to stay in touch with their company. You can’t be out of the loop for long periods if you want to keep everyone happy and make sure it’s all ticking along. You’ll need to be able to access a variety of things, from important documents to payroll. Fortunately, cloud services and software make this so much easier. Using software like Office 365 means that you can access what you need, wherever you are. You just need to be able to get online. It makes it so much easier to work collaboratively, communicate, and always have the most up-to-date information.
If you need to get online to run your business, you need to have an internet connection available as much as possible. While choosing a hotel with free WiFi and checking for local internet cafes might be helpful, it’s not always ideal. Taking a travel router or hotspot with you can help you out if you’re struggling to get a stable connection. You might be able to plug it into your hotel’s wired connection or use it as an independent hotspot if you can’t find an existing connection to use. Having a mobile hotspot could save you when you’re in a tight spot, and you really need to contact someone or access an important file.
Mobile Devices and Apps
To access everything you need online, you’re going to need the right device. And that device will need to be loaded up with all your essential apps. Your smartphone, tablet or laptop won’t just help you get connected, either. It’s also invaluable for helping you stay organized and in touch with people. Most people will have a smartphone they can use to keep a calendar, make phone calls, take notes, and more. However, you’ll often find you need a tablet with a keyboard or a laptop to do everything you need to do.
A Decent Headset
A lot of your communication while you’re traveling can be done via email. However, sometimes you need to make a phone call or sit in on a conference call. Sometimes, you might have to do this in random locations, although it’s always best if you can hire a private space. Make sure you have decent headphones and a good microphone, especially for making online and long-distance calls. You might want noise-canceling headphones to block out any activity around you.
Before taking your business on the road, make sure you’re prepared. You should be able to stay involved with everything that’s happening.
By Jerry Mooney
Anyone with a modicum of engineering or technological savvy knows that the world is changing rapidly. Jobs come and go quicker than ever before. And the digital age is threatening everything we know about manufacturing. But that doesn’t mean someone with a great idea won’t stand a chance in business. On the contrary, it seems more and more tech startups are finding ways to thrive.
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There is a much greater need for experienced and creative engineers to develop high tech equipment than ever before. Consumers want the future in their homes now. Sure, it might all be hooked up to the internet, but it works within the domestic setting. They’re after short-cuts, conveniences, and entertainment. A way out of the boring tasks and chores that steal time from the family would be very appealing to any parent. So what have you got in mind?
Building 3D Printers
3D printing has rapidly become more popular and more accessible. The technology has moved rapidly to facilitate this, but there is still much to be done to place one in every home. You could build it! The future of this technology is not set in stone. But the uses for it are quite extensive. Replicating popular items in plastic may seem like a waste of time until you realize that these items can be used. They can work mechanically or be fitted with other components. There is no end to the options here.
To build 3D printers, you need just a handful of standard components. Usually, you can find most of the requirements like hybrid stepper motors and drivers under one roof. Pick a supplier you can work with long-term to find the solutions you need. You’ll need a workspace to assemble your equipment. Of course, as a startup, you might prefer to use a manufacturer with a factory line setup to take care of this.
Wherever your strengths lie, you will need to take care of the marketing strategy. As more and more 3D printers come on the market, you will need to find a unique selling point that attracts a good market share. Your entire venture might be run by you from the comfort of your home laptop. That doesn’t mean you should shirk deeper involvement. Find out what you can and develop the concept further. Startups are nimble, agile, and creative with the freedom to manipulate their product ideas quickly and easily.
Smarter, Quieter, More Economical
There is a trend toward the green product at the moment. In fact, this has become a global phenomenon. Developing high-tech products that demand less power and emit less pollution is a key objective for most businesses. It should certainly be on your mind if you’re venturing into high-tech manufacturing. How can you create products that meet this ethos? Consider the obvious – transport. Electric cars are going to flood the market shortly, and they will be priced to match other vehicle types. Where can a startup get a foot in?
Other electric vehicles are also enjoying a revival. Electric bicycles, in particular, are now available throughout the country. Prices are still excessive for many fairweather cyclists, but that doesn’t stop you developing tech to bring that cost down.
As electric cars become the norm, other features are going to be developed. Think about car safety. There have been a few stories in the press about exploding phone batteries. Chances are customers will worry about their car battery. Then, of course, is the ongoing need to charge them. Just like the bicycle, there will be only a limited distance available per charge. Can you develop a vehicle, battery, or charger that overcomes this problem?
Why The Startup Has The Advantage
As discussed earlier, startups are nimble and agile. But what really gives you the advantage as a small enterprise is the fact the big businesses are so big. That means there is a long chain of command and a long period of time to get everyone to sign off. They’ll plod along at a snail’s pace while you can get things moving at your pace. Nobody is in your way so you can make greater progress. And nobody is going to say no to you!
Startups can also apply for funding from any source they choose. Big businesses are either not eligible for funds, or have to go through their extensive budget approval processes. It’s no wonder the most exciting innovations and ideas come from the little companies. There is nothing to stifle your creativity!
As you can see, there are various product ideas out there. Perhaps your business will develop something entirely different. Maybe all you have right now is an idea? Getting started from nothing might seem like you’re starting from a disadvantage. However, it means you can tailor your business to suit your product rather than manipulating a setup to fit. Here’s how to get going:
If it’s high-tech, you’re going to need high-quality components. Gone are the days when consumers would be happy to tinker with settings or open up a device to brush off the dust! Now, if it doesn’t work, it gets sent back to you, complete with a barrage of bad reviews across social media. Start as you mean to go on. Source the items you need, and hire experienced workers to assemble your products.
Test! Always thoroughly test your products and check they fulfill every requirement a consumer might have. You should also develop packaging that is attractive and functional. Finally, develop a manual that is clear and easy to use.
The premises you use will need to be secure and safe. When it comes to manufacturing, you can’t cut corners. Provide appropriate safety wear, offer the training necessary, and supervise the floor. Be wary of moving into a space that leaves you no room to grow. Equally, don’t push your budget beyond the orders you know are secured.
As a small startup, you might not be able to pick and choose the most talented employees. That doesn’t mean they won’t be attracted to your project. Use people you know well and people that have the experience your company needs to get off the ground. You can engage consultants and specialist companies to tackle the parts of the business you don’t have time for.
Promoting your new product is much easier than you think. For a start, there are more technology blogs and news sites than ever before. Get to know some of the writers and journalists. Be prepared to give away your products for reviews. Influencers are very important for any new product launch.
Make sure your PR skills are top notch. Launch your product with a bang! Make sure your website is full of useful and interesting articles that discuss the uses for your product, the build quality, and a full how-to guide. Photos and videos help customers gain trust in your brand and product. They help the customer to understand how to use the product and how it could change their life for the better.
No product stays in the limelight for long. Nor does it stay current or novel. Your product will have to undergo a few changes over the years to offer more and more to the customer. Don’t forget, those big companies will catch up eventually and ride the hype wave off the back of their big brand. Keep a step ahead with new features, and product variations that solve different problems. Are you ready to venture?
By Jerry Mooney
There is no doubt that the world of automobiles is one of the fastest-advancing when it comes to technology. With so many manufacturers out there competing to attract the ever-increasing number of drivers on the road, updates are constantly being made all the time. And safety is obviously one of the main areas in which these advances are concentrated. After all, people want to feel as safe as possible when they are behind the wheel.
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If you are about to invest in a new car, it is worth knowing about the latest features so you can make more of an informed decision about exactly what you are getting for your money. Take a look at some of the top features out there which have been making waves in 2017
Standard Electronic Stability Control
While this one has been around for a number of years, it is still worth giving a mention to standard electronic stability control (ESC). Essentially, this does exactly what it says in the name. It detects any sort of loss of grip when you are driving and helps to regain your sense of control as quickly as possible. This is all about preventing an accident from happening in the first place rather than responding if it does. In this case, you may need to contact a law firm for personal injury claims resulting from a car accident. Unless you are buying a used car and your vehicle was made before 2012, it should have ESC as standard.
Automatic Crash Response
We all know that if you get into a serious collision, time really is of the essence. This is where automatic crash response comes in. Vauxhall is one of the pioneers of this system with their OnStar innovation. If an accident does occur, this system is designed to send out some essential details to emergency services including the car’s location, vehicle colour and the seriousness of the crash. Manufacturers will also be required to include SOS buttons which can be pressed to connect with the emergency services instantly.
Autonomous Emergency Braking
Driverless cars seem to be inching ever-closer, and the autonomous braking systems that are now being installed in vehicles are another step in this direction. In the first instance, there will be a visual or audible warning to the driver to warn them of a possible collision. If they don’t react in time, the car will automatically apply the brakes. Volvo first launched this system way back in 2006, but it is much more likely that these will be fitted as standard in the coming months and years.
Active Lane-Keeping Assist
An upgrade on lane departure warning systems which have the issue that they are easy to ignore, active lane-keeping assist features actually respond by taking control and keeping you within the lines. Paired together with adaptive cruise control (which we will discuss in more detail shortly), this system can take a lot of the hassle out of motorway driving. As we already talked about, this is yet another example of us moving towards a world of autonomous driving.
A huge proportion of accidents are minor collisions and many of these are caused by the difficulties involved in parking. The vast majority of new cars are built with some sort of parking sensors included, but a reverse camera takes this one stage further. A screen will display everything that is going on behind you so you are able to make more of an informed decision about reversing in a safe way.
Adaptive Cruise Control
Of course, standard cruise control has been around for decades but that system has become a lot more advanced in the past few years. If you have a vehicle that has adaptive cruise control, you can set a distance that you want to stay away from the car in front of you. A radar or laser will keep you clear of it, regardless of the traffic conditions ahead. This means that it is useful for city driving as well as the long drives that standard cruise control is associated with.
Blind Spot Detection
That pesky blind spot has always been a problem for drivers, but a blind spot detection system can help you out in a big way. A light will flash when a vehicle drives into this spot so you don’t change lanes when a car is located here.
These are just a few of the systems that are worth investigating if you are going to buy a new car as they could potentially be life-saving.