So I saw this absurd story the other day about how AT&T is claiming the backbone of the Internet will crumble under all the traffic by 2010. Then Lani and a couple of personal friends forwarded me the article asking my thoughts.
Where I Get These Crazy Ideas
I have a fairly lengthy background with networking, both wired and wireless. Over five years ago, my father was working for a giant technology corporation working to maximize the efficiency of bandwidth over existing infrastructure. They have been developing this with some of the largest wireless handset, computer hardware and software manufacturers in the world.
I spent several years working for AT&T Wireless. Many people believe that with wireless, we won’t need the infrastructure in the ground. The problem is, all of the towers your cell phones and laptops connect to are plugged into the same infrastructure.
Most of the video you now watch online is played via Flash because it uses some of the most efficient encoding methodspossible. I’ve been using Adobe/Macromedia products for a long time and I can easily say, they don’t stop making their products better.
Okay, I love Google. In this context though, they have purchased vast amounts of “dark fiber”, invested in large undersea cable projects and lobbied for open wireless standards on abandoned frequencies. Huh?
Dark Fiber is fiber-optic infrastructure built out in the last 1990s that went unused. Analysts think Google has purchased $1.25 billion worth of this unused fiber across the country. That could probably manage some overflow from AT&T’s network.
Asia-Pacific is very bandwidth-hungry and business ties only continue to increase, so adding additional infrastructure across the pacific is very beneficial for all parties involved.
You may have heard of the large 700 MHz frequency auction…oh, you didn’t? Okay, I’m a nerd. A lot of very valuable wireless spectrum was opened up when TV went digital. All of the typical players like Verizon Wireless and AT&T wanted this spectrum. The FCC required that it be an open standard, allowing all protocols and hardware to have access to the infrastructure. Google has been accused of “gamed” the auction by bidding up to a certain point which included the open standard compliance.
Google has also recently been lobbying to gain open access to wireless “white space”, the little pieces of unused frequency between the wireless bands.
Why I’m Not Concerned
AT&T is smart. Verizon is smart. Comcast and Time Warner are smart. They are constantly developing new standards to make transmission more efficient across their current infrastructure. I think the issue we need to fear is that this is all a setup to charge people more for different types of service. If I want to watch Hulu.com, I get to pay more than someone who just wants to check email. I’m sure BitTorrent users would have to pay the most.
I don’t care because I believe Google is smarter. They have the in-ground infrastructure. They have great lobbyists that will probably help them get the white space they want. And they have access to the new frequency that AT&T and Verizon Wireless are having to pay for. I have full faith and confidence that Google is poised and ready to roll out some type of service should AT&T and/or Verizon begin to start charging based on usage. Google is in favor of Net Neutrality, which would keep pricing fixed and not based on specific services.
Maybe I Should Be Concerned
Our activities are very bandwidth-intensive. From the hundreds of photos of a listing to the video tours you’re creating to your mass email campaigns, the real estate industry uses a lot of bandwidth. Any changes that may come about could potentially be another cost of doing business. I personally doubt it will get that far though.
I, For One, Welcome Our Dark Fiber White Space Wielding Do No Evil Google Overlords
I switched from Comcast to Verizon FIOS as soon as I could because I was tired of Comcast always trying to stick it to me. Verizon isn’t much better. Google may not be any better, but I think it’s safe to assume a lot of people would jump ship simply because they’re tired of what they have now.
How to build apps without knowing how to code (it’s actually common!)
(TECHNOLOGY) No-code app-building tools are becoming more available to the everyday user, which could lead to more inventive and original apps.
“Learn to code” is a common, frustrating refrain often hurled at job-seekers, entrepreneurs, creative professionals, and others. Depending on who’s saying it, the intent could range from well-meaning to willfully hurtful.
It does, in a way, make sense. Computer programming is the foundational language that modern life is built on. And while many people use technology that they don’t understand every day—from microwaves to cars—there’s something a little different about programming. It’s omnipresent for just about anyone, just about everywhere, whether they use it for work or not. And more people use it for work than ever. It’s the single most sought-after skill in the job market.
But “learn to code” isn’t practical for everyone. Not everyone with an app idea has the time to learn how to build an app from scratch, or the money to hire people to do it for them. That’s where the low-code/no-code movement comes in. It’s all about giving the people the tools they need to execute on an idea without having to learn an entire new skill set. When you bake a cake, you probably don’t grind wheat into flour, and when you build an app, you don’t have to start with Python.
No-code isn’t really a new idea.
The fact that computers have menus and icons is the result of early programmers realizing that non-programmers would have to use a computer sometimes. You could look to tools like RPG Maker that let people build their own video games back in 1992. RPG Maker was like a Lego kit for making a video game. And not only is it still going strong, it proved itself prophetic. It turns out that giving people tools and a sand box is a great way to enable creativity.
This has been the long arc of the Internet, too. There was a time when participating in the World Wide Web in a meaningful way meant learning to program. Places like Geocities gave you real estate to set up a website. But you had to build that site yourself. We’ve moved away from that as the Internet commodified. Sites like Facebook and Twitter remove customization in the name of uniformity.
But creative tools persist. Consider “WYSIWYG,” or “What You See Is What You Get” web editors. These are tools like WordPress that reclaimed some of that Internet customization. They give you assets to build a website, and you plug them in where you want.
It’s a middle ground between building from scratch, and having everything handed to you. It’s the sweet spot of accessible creativity. (If you’ve never heard anyone say “WYSIWYG,” that’s probably because these web development tools are so common that they don’t really need a special name anymore.)
Right now, one of the biggest areas of no-code design is in app development. These app dev tools are similar to building a WordPress site. They give you the raw materials, and you customize and assemble them however you want to. Adalo, a no-code platform for building apps, lets your bring assets and ideas to the table, and gives you a framework to organize those ideas into an app.
They aren’t alone. AppOnboard, a no-code software development suite, purchased Buildbox, a leading no-code game development platform. Their combined resources represent a stunning library of assets, full of potential.
What does this mean for coders? Probably not much. Specialized skills are still in high demand. But for the rest of us, a slow democratization of development is taking place, and it’s exciting to watch it take shape.
Ageism: How to properly combat this discrimination in the workplace
(BUSINESS) Ageism is still being fought by many companies, how can this new issue be resolved before it becomes more of a problem?
Workers over the age of 55 represent the fasting growing sector in labor. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that 25% of the labor force will be over age 55 by 2024. A 2018 AARP survey found that over 60% of the respondents reported age discrimination in their workplace. The figure is even higher among older women, minorities, and unemployed seniors. Age discrimination is a problem for many.
Unfortunately, age discrimination lawsuits aren’t uncommon. We have covered cases for Jewel Food Stores, Inc., Novo Nordisk, Inc., AT&T, and iTutorGroup, all alleging age or disability discrimination in some form or fashion. This could be from using vocabulary such as “tenured,” hiring a younger employee instead of promoting a well-season veteran, or pressuring older employees with extra responsibilities in order to get them to resign or retire early.
How can your organization create an age-inclusive workforce?
It is difficult to prove age discrimination but fighting a lawsuit against it could be expensive. Rather than worrying about getting sued for age discrimination, consider your own business and whether your culture creates a workplace that welcomes older workers.
- Check your job descriptions and hiring practices to eliminate graduation dates and birthdates. Focus on worker’s skills, not youthful attributes, such as “fresh graduate” or “digital native.” Feature workers of all ages in your branding and marketing.
- Include age diversity training for your managers and employees, especially those that hire or work in recruiting.
- Support legislative reforms that protect older workers. Use your experience to create content for your website.
Changing the culture of your workplace to include older workers will benefit you in many ways. Older workers bring experience and ideas to the table that younger employees don’t have. Having mixed-age teams encourages creativity. There are many ways to support older workers and to be inclusive in your workplace.
What steps are you taking in your organization to reduce ageism in your workplace?
Strong leaders can use times of crises to improve their company’s future
(EDITORIAL) In the COVID-19 crisis, some leaders fumbled through it, while others quietly safeguarded their company’s future.
Anthony J. Algmin is the Founder and CEO of Algmin Data Leadership, a company helping business and technology leaders transform their future with data, and author of a new book on data leadership. We asked for his insights on how strong leaders can see their teams, their companies, and their people through this global pandemic (and other crises in the future). The following are his own words:
Managers sometimes forget that the people we lead have lives outside of the office. This is true always but is amplified when a crisis occurs. We need to remember that our job is to serve their teams, to help them be as aligned and productive as possible in the short and long terms.
Crises are exactly when we need to think about what they might be going through, and realize that the partnership we have with our employees is more than a transaction. If we’ve ever asked our people to make sacrifices, like working over a weekend without extra pay, we should be thinking first about how we can support them through the tough times. When we do right by people when they really need it, they will run through walls again for our organizations when things return to normal.
Let them know it’s okay to breathe and talk about it. In a situation like COVID-19 where everything was disrupted and people are adjusting to things like working from home, it is naturally going to be difficult and frustrating.
The best advice is to encourage people to turn off the TV and stop frequently checking the news websites. As fast as news is happening, it will not make a difference in what we can control ourselves. Right now most of us know what our day will look like, and nothing that comes out in the news is going to materially change it. If we avoid the noisy inputs, we’ll be much better able to focus and get our brains to stop spinning on things we can’t control.
And this may be the only time I would advocate for more meetings. If you don’t have at least a daily standup with your team, you should. And encourage everyone to have a video-enabled setup if at all possible. We may not be able to be in the same room, but the sense of engagement with video is much greater than audio-only calls.
We also risk spiraling if we think too much about how our companies are struggling, or if our teams cannot achieve what our organizations need to be successful. It’s like the difference in sports between practice and the big game. Normal times are when leaders game plan, strategize, and work on our fundamentals. Crises are the time to focus and leave it all on the field.
That said, do not fail to observe and note what works well and where you struggle. If you had problems with data quality or inefficient processes before the crisis, you are not fixing them now. Pull out the duct tape and find a way through it. But later, when the crisis subsides, learn from the experience and get better for next time.
Find a hobby. Anything you can do to clear your head and separate work from the other considerations in your life. We may feel like the weight of the world is on our shoulders, and without a pressure release we will not be able to sustain this level of stress and remain as productive as our teams, businesses, and families need us.
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