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IBM: ‘Mac users are happier and more productive’

MINNEAPOLIS – IBM stole the show at the annual Jamf Nation User Conference this week when it announced that Mac users are more likely to stay with the company and will be more productive while they’re there.

IBM’s happy Apple orchestra

IBM CIO Fletcher Previn talked up fresh IBM findings that show those of its employees who use Macs are more likely to stay with IBM and exceed performance expectations compared to PC users.

The details of his claims are:

  • There are 22% more macOS users who exceeded expectations in performance reviews, compared to Windows users.
  • High-value sales deals tend to be 16% larger for macOS users, compared to Windows users.
  • macOS users are 17% less likely to leave IBM, compared to those who use Windows.
  • MacOS users are happier with the third-party software availability within IBM — just 5% of macOS users ask for additional software, compared to 11% of Windows users.

It’s possible these claims reflect some other difference between Mac and PC users, but with hundreds of thousands of IBM employees in the sample group it’s hard not to see some contribution from the choice of computing platform.

Tomorrow’s world today

“The state of IT is a daily reflection of what IBM thinks and feels about its employees,” said IBM CIO Fletcher Previn. “I’ve said it before – when did it become OK to live like the Jetsons at home, but the Flintstones at work? We aim to create a productive environment for IBM’ers and continuously improve their work experience, and that’s why we introduced our employee-choice program to IBM employees in 2015.”

When IBM began its widely-reported move to integrate Mac (and other Apple systems) across its business with the [email protected] scheme in 2015, the company discovered that tech support costs were much, much lower.

At that time, it was deploying 1,900 Mac devices per week. During this deployment, it found that  a single help desk person was able to support 5,400 Mac users — even though it took about 22 people to support the equivalent number of PC users.

The TCO argument is over

Today, IBM has just seven people supporting 200,000 macOS devices in contrast to the 20 needed to support the same number of Windows devices, IBM said at JNUC.

This means it costs IBM 186% more to support Windows than it does Macs.

This wasn’t the only big surprise. IBM also observed that users found it easier to migrate from a previous version of Windows to a Mac than to upgrade older Windows systems to the latest version of Windows. IBM claims 98% of its Mac users said migration from Windows to macOS was easy, compared to 86% of people shifting from Windows 7 to Windows 10 who felt the same way.

Admittedly, the latter is not too damning a statement on its own. But when it is easier to switch to Mac than it is to stick with Windows – and when such a migration is also cheaper to support and delivers better staff retention and better productivity – it’s hard to see why any enterprise would delay exploring Apple as a viable alternative to existing technologies, particularly as older Windows versions hit End Of Life.

What happens next?

Year by year, the Jamf JNUC event provides additional evidence that Apple’s platforms are – at the very least – peer players in enterprise IT. IBM’s latest revelations seem to suggest that, at least in some common use cases, Apple – and the Mac – are breaking out to become the best available platforms for enterprise technology.

Jamf sits at the breaking edge of the Apple ocean as it floods into the enterprise technology sector. The company continues to seek and resolve the challenges faced by those making large-scale Mac deployments. For example, it announced a new endpoint security system for Macs it calls Jamf Protect at JNUC 2019, which it claims will give enterprise security teams “unprecedented visibility into [their] Mac fleet,” along with the ability to identify and deal with threats.

Apple in the IT ecosystem 

This is, in my opinion, a major step toward the evolution of (private by design) edge-device based AI-supplemented protections that I believe will define future cybersecurity protection. Jamf is by no means the only company exploring such systems — Orange Cyberdefense has its own takes on situational awareness for systems, for example.

Josh Stein, director of product strategy for Jamf Protect, explained what the system does:

“[It] monitors for system-wide activity, enabling security teams to take action against Mac-based threats which may otherwise go unnoticed, all while allowing organizations to embrace new OS functionality from day one.”

The company also announced Jamf Connect for mobile, an important technology that allows for secure password-less authentication through most modern systems, replacing smart cards and FIDO security keys with iPhones. The idea is that it becomes possible to use the system and your iPhone in order to access a Mac, cloud services or even Windows computers.

I’m at the JNUC event this week, but it is becoming very difficult to avoid the sense that, at least in terms of making an edge-based business case for its systems, Apple is developing powerful argument to replace Windows as the base system for successful enterprise IT deployments.

What’s interesting about this is that as Apple develops its own models for ultra-private, on-device AI, at what point can server-based enterprise deployments be replaced by more effective — and yet more private — edge-based intelligence?

This certainly seems to be where the industry is going.

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.





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Amazon Fire HD 10 (2019) Review & Rating

When it comes to budget-friendly tablets, Amazon’s Fire line is hard to beat, with higher-quality builds, more intuitive software, and much better warranties than most of the competition. The new Fire HD 10 ($149.99) is no exception, with a more powerful processor, more RAM, and Fire OS 7, for smoother performance than you’ll find on older Fire models. If you don’t mind living inside Amazon’s walled garden, the Fire HD 10 is the best 10-inch tablet you can buy for $150 and our Editors’ Choice.

Design and Durability

Available in black, blue, purple, or white, the Fire HD 10 looks like a near carbon copy of its predecessor. The front is dominated by a 10.1-inch display with chunky bezels, while the back is constructed of thin polycarbonate and bears the Amazon logo. The top edge is home to the volume and power buttons, a headphone jack, and a USB-C charging port. The speakers sit on the left and a microSD slot is on the right.

The Fire HD 10 measures 10.3 by 6.3 by 0.4 inches (HWD) and comes in at a hefty 17.8 ounces. The weight is well distributed, however, so the tablet is comfortable to hold with two hands for long periods.

Fire HD 10

Durability is a mixed bag, without any official drop or water protection. We recommend a case for clumsy users, or the Fire HD 10 Kids Edition for children. For an extra $50, the Kids Edition comes with a padded case, a year of FreeTime Unlimited, and a two-year warranty that covers any type of damage.

Display and Audio

The 10.1-inch LCD on the front of the tablet has a resolution of 1,920 by 1,200, for a pixel density of 224ppi. Color accuracy is solid, though it lacks anti-reflective coating and can be hard to see outside or in a brightly lit room. That said, it’s better than the 8-inch, 189ppi Fire HD 8 for extended Prime Video binging sessions and reading the latest editions of your favorite magazines.

If you plan to use the tablet primary for reading books, however, you’re better off with a dedicated ebook reader like the Kindle Paperwhite. The Paperwhite’s 300ppi screen is much crisper, and since it doesn’t have backlighting, it’s gentler on the eyes.

Fire HD 10

Although the Fire HD 10 boasts dual speakers with Dolby Atmos branding, audio quality isn’t the tablet’s strong suit. With peak volume coming in at 84dB, it’s loud enough to fill a room, but the sound is tinny and hollow. Luckily there’s Bluetooth 4.2 as well as a headphone jack for alternate listening options.

Hardware and Performance

The Fire HD 10 is powered by a 2GHz Mediatek MT8183 octa-core processor and 2GB of RAM. There are 32GB and 64GB options available, both of which support up to 512GB of external storage with a microSD card. It’s a huge performance bump over the Fire HD 8, which is powered by a 1.3GHz quad-core processor and 1.5GB of RAM.

Fire HD 10

Related Story See How We Test Tablets

Compared with the Apple iPad, the Fire HD 10 is no speed demon, but it’s pretty snappy compared with its Fire siblings. Apps open quickly, and there’s only a slight hesitation when swiping between screens. We were also able to multitask with six apps open at the same time easily.

We played Asphalt 8, a processor-intensive game, and noticed longer load times than higher-end tablets and a few skipped frames, which isn’t surprising. We had no problems playing Candy Crush, however, which requires fewer system resources.

Fire HD 10

Benchmarks are what you’d expect for the the price. On PCMark, a suite of tests that emulate everyday tasks, the Fire HD 10 scored 5,105, far surpassing Walmart’s 8-inch Onn. tablet, which clocked in at 3,310.

The Fire HD 10 has a hearty 6,300mAh battery. In our battery drain test, which streams high-definition video over Wi-Fi at full brightness, it lasted for 8 hours and 12 minutes. That’s nearly double the paltry 4 hours and 50 minutes we got on the Fire HD 8 and, with more conservative use, you can probably get closer to 12 hours of screen time.

If you do find your battery running low, the Fire HD 10 is Amazon’s first tablet with USB-C connectivity. In addition to the 9W adapter that comes in the box, there’s also a 15W option that will completely charge the battery within three hours.

There are 2MP cameras on the front and back of the tablet. Neither are good. We tried using the front camera in good lighting to take selfies and talk on Skype, and both were blurry and noisy. The rear camera is the same. We scanned a document with it, and it was too blurry to see.

Software

The Fire HD 10 runs Amazon’s latest operating system, Fire OS 7.1.1, which is based on Android 9.0 Pie. It looks similar to previous versions of Fire OS, but offers welcome additions like picture-in-picture mode and improved notifications. And as you can see by our battery testing, it’s also much more power-efficient.

Fire HD 10

Although Fire OS is based on Android, nothing about it looks or feels like stock Android—it’s essentially been modified beyond recognition into an Amazon content delivery system. All of your apps are on the home screen. Swipe left for windows that showcase your Books, Video, Games & Apps, Amazon Shop, Music, Audible, and Newsstand.

As usual, Fire OS highlights all of Amazon’s products and makes purchasing them simple. If you buy everything from Amazon, that’s fine, but if you want to download apps from one of Amazon’s competitors, you’re out of luck. The Amazon Appstore doesn’t feature Walmart, Instacart, Macy’s, or even Saks Fifth Avenue, all of which you can download on a standard Android tablet. Of course, you can use the Fire HD 10’s web browser to make a purchase from anywhere.

Fire HD 10

It’s also worth noting the Amazon’s Appstore still doesn’t carry all the apps you’ll find in Google Play store. You can’t download YouTube, or any other Google app, for instance. The New York Times app is missing, as are games like Asphalt 9 and Fortnite. You can sideload unavailable apps by searching for the APK file in the web browser, but be warned that some apps aren’t compatible and you run the risk of installing malware or viruses.

So while Fire OS isn’t as open or as versatile as Android, that’s also part of the beauty. It’s much easier to figure out than Android, and if this is your first tablet, it makes it incredibly easy to discover apps, books, movies, and more.

Conclusions

The Amazon Fire HD 10 is the best 10-inch tablet you can buy for $150. Although it costs nearly twice as much as the $80 Fire HD 8, it’s money well spent for snappier performance, a higher-resolution display, and nearly double battery life. There simply aren’t any appealing Android tablets out there right now at this size and price, so your next best best is the iPad, which offers better performance and more apps, but it costs more than twice as much. So if you’re in the market for a simple, media-focused tablet, the Fire HD 10 is easily your best bet and our Editors’ Choice.



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22 worthwhile ways to use Google Assistant on a Chromebook

If you’ve blinked at any point in the past few months, I hate to tell ya, but you’ve probably missed something significant with the Google Assistant.

Every few weeks, it seems, Assistant’s either showing up on some new sort of device or expanding what it’s able to accomplish. And really, it’s no surprise: Assistant, as we’ve discussed approximately 72 gazillion times before, is increasingly the focus of almost everything Google does these days — and for good reason.

As a human mammal who relies on plastic and glass gadgets to get things accomplished, of course, the most important thing to know is how you can take advantage of Assistant’s latest and greatest capabilities. And if you’ve got a Chromebook, my goodness, do you have some intriguing new options to consider.

Here are some of the most useful Chromebook-specific Assistant commands I’ve encountered.

(Assistant is available on most current Chrome OS devices as of this fall. You can confirm it’s activated on your Chromebook by going into the Search and Assistant section of the system settings, clicking the line labeled “Google Assistant,” and then making sure the toggle at the top of that screen is lit up. While you’re there, you might also want to activate the voice activation option — which’ll allow you to summon your Assistant simply by saying “OK Google” or “Hey Google” — and then set the “Preferred input” setting to voice, too, if you plan to interact with Assistant mostly by speaking. You can also always open Assistant by hitting your Launcher or Search key and the “a” key together or by hitting your dedicated Assistant key, if you’ve got a Pixelbook or Pixel Slate.)

1. Start new drafts in a snap by calling for Assistant on Chrome OS and then telling it to create a new document, spreadsheet, or presentation. You’ll be transported to a blank slate in the appropriate Google service faster than you can say “Docs, crocks, faux hawks” (which, if we’re being completely honest with each other, is a pretty strange thing to say).

2. Find files in Drive without any fuss by asking Assistant for whatever you need: Open my monthly analysis spreadsheet, open my legume comparison document, and so on.

3. Control your calendar without lifting a finger by asking your Chromebook’s Assistant what’s next on my calendar — or even for something more specific, like: What’s on my agenda for Thursday?

Google Assistant Chromebook: Agenda JR

4. You can add new events to your calendar without the usual hassle, too: Just fire up Assistant on your Chromebook and tell it to add an event or set an appointment followed by the event’s title, date, and time. The system will repeat the details and then let you verbally confirm everything’s A-OK — and just like that, your schedule will be updated.

5. The Chrome OS version of Assistant can help you adjust your device’s settings without the need for any digging. Try telling it to turn Wi-Fi on or off — no clicking or menu-hunting required.

6. Assistant can also turn Bluetooth on or off in a flash, without having to interrupt what you’re doing.

7. Need to make your Chromebook louder or quieter? No problem: Just tell your friendly neighborhood Assistant to make the volume louder — or get even more specific with commands like turn the volume up to 80 percent or turn the volume down to 20 percent.

8. You can control your Chromebook’s display brightness in the same way: Tell Assistant to turn the screen brightness to 50 percent or any other number to make easy on-the-spot adjustments.

9. If your Chromebook supports Night Light mode for less harsh dim-light viewing, you can control that via the Chrome OS Assistant as well: Just ask your Assistant to turn Night Light mode on or off, and give your peepers a much-needed break.

10. Speaking of a break, if you want to stop all the interruptions for a while, ask your Chromebook’s Assistant to turn Do Not Disturb on or off. Ah…silence.

11. See exactly how much power your Chromebook has left at any moment by activating Assistant and asking it: How much battery do I have left? Optionally follow up with a choice expletive, as needed.

Google Assistant Chromebook: Battery JR

12. When you need to keep track of the time, tell your Chromebook’s Assistant to set a timer for any amount of time you want — 30 seconds, five minutes, three hours, you name it. You can then go back to whatever else you were doing, and as soon as the time has elapsed, an alert will sound and a message will pop up on your screen letting you know your timer’s done.

13. Want to snag a screenshot fast? Skip the usual shortcuts and simply tell your Assistant to take a screenshot. You’ll see the capture appear in the lower-right corner of your Chromebook’s screen and can then find it in your regular Downloads folder.

14. Just like with Assistant on any other device, you can use your Chromebook’s virtual genie to tap into Google’s cross-platform reminder system. Tell Assistant remind me followed by a nugget of info and then the time, the day and time, or even a physical location that you want to serve as the reminder’s trigger. Your reminder will pop back up at the time or place you ask on whatever device is most appropriate at that point.

Google Assistant Chromebook: Reminder JR

15. You can always check in on your pending reminders, too: Just tell Assistant show me my reminders, then do a little dance. (Dance not actually required but highly recommended.)

16. Give yourself a moment away from the workday monotony by asking your Chromebook’s Assistant to play music. You can name a specific artist, album, or even just genre or mood; whatever your wish, Assistant will abide (and you can change its default music service, by the way, by clicking the gear icon within the main Assistant interface and then selecting “Services” followed by “Music”).

17. Prefer the soothing sound of white noise? Try telling Assistant to play white noise — or get even more specific and ask for one of these ambient sound options:

  • Relaxing sounds
  • Nature sounds
  • Water sounds
  • Running water sounds
  • Babbling brook sounds
  • Oscillating fan sounds
  • Fireplace sounds
  • Forest sounds
  • Country night sounds
  • Ocean sounds
  • Rain sounds
  • River sounds
  • Thunderstorm sounds

Not available yet, unfortunately, is “screeching modem sound” — but hey, maybe one day.

18. Find your photos in a flash by telling Assistant open my pictures of — followed by a place, person, or even general theme (Thanksgiving, birthdays, children, screeching modems, etc). Assistant will sift through your Google Photos collection for you and pull up the most relevant results right then and there.

Google Assistant Chromebook: Photos JR

19. You can even use Assistant to open a website without the need for any physical input — which might be handy for those times in which you’re actively engaged in mid-workday pottery but still want to check the news. Just tell Assistant to open computerworld.com (or any website you want) or try something more specific, like open Google News, open YouTube, or open Ask Jeeves (which may or may not open a portal to 1996; proceed at your own risk).

20. For super-speedy navigation, tell Assistant show me how to get to or navigate to followed by the name of any business or address — or, if you aren’t sure where you want to go, try something like search for restaurants near me.

21. The next time the need for a quickie email enters your ever-noodlin’ noggin, ask your Chromebook’s Assistant to send an email. You can then follow its spoken prompts to provide your contact’s name and the body of the message, and it’ll handle the rest on your behalf.

22. Last but not least, perhaps the most useful Chrome OS Assistant command of all: find my phone. Issuing that gem will cause your trusty Assistant to ring any Android device associated with your account, no matter where it may be hiding.

Now, if only it could find my sanity — or, heck, even just a sandwich — I’d really be set.

Sign up for my weekly newsletter to get more practical tips, personal recommendations, and plain-English perspective on the news that matters.

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[Android Intelligence videos at Computerworld]

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.



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An exorcism at Microsoft | Computerworld

Satya Nadella has been Microsoft CEO for more than five years, having replaced Steve Ballmer in February 2014. Along the way, he’s made dramatic changes in the way Microsoft operates, doing things that Ballmer likely never would have done, including writing off, for $7.6 billion in 2015, Ballmer’s Nokia acquisition.

But at Microsoft’s recent annual Ignite developers conference, Nadella took actions that killed off Ballmer’s ghost — Microsoft now is clearly Nadella’s company, and Ballmer’s influence has been laid to rest. None of the actions was dramatic in its own right, but taken together, they show just how little of Ballmer’s legacy is left at Microsoft.

Let’s start with Microsoft’s unveiling of a release candidate of its new Edge browser. It’s based on open-source Chromium, which was originally developed by Google and powers Google’s Chrome browser.

Microsoft announced the move to Chromium months ago and has been releasing betas of the new Edge since then. But by showing off the browser at its annual developers conference, rather than rolling it out quietly, Microsoft emphasized how important the move is to the company’s future. It is saying that it will be working with multiple platforms, in a more open way.

These days, a browser might not seem central to Microsoft’s fate. But under Gates and Ballmer, owning the browser market with proprietary technology was at the core of the company’s Windows-centric strategy, a way to own people’s relationship with the web. Microsoft built Internet Explorer into Windows, wouldn’t allow other browsers to ship with Windows, and did its best to make sure alternate browsers couldn’t be easily installed.

We all know how that turned out: The federal government went after Microsoft for antitrust violations, and Google and other competitors arose.

Yet through the years, under Gates and then Ballmer, Microsoft continued its go-it-alone, proprietary browser strategy. The result: Today, according to NetMarketshare, Google’s Chrome has more than 67% of the desktop browser market, with Internet Explorer and Edge weighing in with a mere 17% combined.

Despite that failure, Ballmer likely never would have agreed to base Microsoft’s browser on code developed by one of its top rivals, nor would he have been inclined to make that browser available on multiple operating systems, not just Windows. Nadella is doing exactly that, though. And in January, when the new Edge formally ships, Ballmer’s browser legacy will be dead.

There’s another Ballmer legacy that bit the dust at Ignite: the ill-fated decision to bet the company’s future not on software that runs on the Windows desktop, but instead on apps written on an entirely new platform. Those apps have been called various things through the years, including Metro apps, Modern apps and Windows Store apps.

These apps are written using what Microsoft calls the Universal Windows Platform (UWP), which is anything but universal. UWP was rolled out for the terrible, ill-fated Windows 8, with the idea that Microsoft would force people to give up using applications like Office that run on the desktop. (Those applications are called Win32 apps.) UWP apps would run only on the new part of Windows, designed primarily for mobile rather than desktop computing. These new apps would become the center of the Windows universe.

The strategy failed miserably, with UWP apps consistently underpowered, and often useless. Consumers avoided them, and developers refused to write them. Still, Ballmer persisted pushing UWP.

But at this year’s Ignite, Microsoft announced a change that finally killed that strategy. The company released the alpha version of a library for developers, WinUI 3.0, that will allow developers to take capabilities and features from UWP and include them in Win32 apps. Expect UWP-only apps to bite the dust.

And to emphasize that Microsoft has finally thrown in the towel on its UWP platform, the company also announced that its OneNote note-taking app will continue to live and be developed as a desktop app, even though it previously had said the desktop version of OneNote would get no new features. The idea seemed to be that the UWP version would take the reins while the Win32 OneNote rode off into the sunset.

Now, the desktop version of OneNote will get plenty of new features. Don’t be surprised if the UWP version doesn’t. In essence, this spells the death of UWP, which was Ballmer’s baby. There’s not a chance Ballmer would have killed it, as Nadella is doing.

It’s been clear for a while that Nadella is pursuing his own vision for Microsoft, separate from Ballmer’s. It has paid off spectacularly, with the company worth more than $1 trillion. And now, the ghost of Ballmer past has been exorcized from the company as well.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.



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FAQ: Microsoft sharpens Edge | Computerworld

Microsoft will release the polished version of its overhauled Edge browser in less than 10 weeks.

While the new Edge has been built using technologies from a fierce rival – Google, which controls two-thirds of the global user share – it’s also an attempt by Redmond to resurrect its own browser fortunes. Edge, the old Edge, the browser that debuted alongside Windows 10 four years ago, was roundly rejected by users.

Now, Microsoft wants a second chance. But will customers grant the company a mulligan?

We don’t know. But we do know answers to a variety of other important questions about Edge Part Deux. In fact, we have more answers than space, so we’ll revisit second-chance Edge before that January 2020, roll-out arrives.



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Bitcoin, blockchain jobs remain unfilled as interest drops off

While the number of jobs related to blockchain and cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin has skyrocketed in the past four years, the number of searches for those jobs has  drastically dropped recently, according to job search site Indeed.

Over the past year, the share of cryptocurrency- and blockchain-related job postings per million has slowed on Indeed, increasing 26%. At the same time, the share of searches per million for jobs in the field has decreased by 53%.

Indeed blockchain cryptocurrency bitcoin jobs Indeed

A year ago, Indeed’s data similarly showed interest in blockchain development skills, including the creation of cryptocurrencies, had waned as bitcoin’s value – and the hype around it – fell off.

“We’ve previously covered how bitcoin’s volatility seems to correlate with job seeker interest, and the change in bitcoin price this year might be why job searches have declined,” said Allison Cavin, a writer for Seen, Indeed’s tech hiring platform.

The mismatch between the number of jobs being created and the number of qualified candidates to fill them has always been lopsided. According to Indeed.com, in the four-year period between September 2015 and September 2019, the share of cryptocurrency jobs per million grew by 1,457%. In that same time period, the share of searches per million increased by only 469%.

Bitcoin’s value has been on a roller coaster ride in the past two years. In 2018, the cryptocurrency’s price plummeted from nearly $19,500 in Februrary to around $3,600 by the end of last year. Over the past year, however, bitcoin’s value jumped to more than $12,000 before settling back to about $9,200 today. The volatility seems to be turning potential job seekers off.

bitcoin trends careers jobs Indeed

“For the first time, the number of jobs per million exceeded the number of searches per million,” Cavin wrote. It could be reasonable to assume that if bitcoin drops dramatically again, a candidate looking for a blockchain role would run into less competition than they would after a large increase.”

An April report from a management consulting firm, Janco Associates, showed blockchain positions remained unfilled as a dearth of qualified IT workers persisted –  and those who do have the skills remain in high demand. The shortage of qualified candidates with blockchain and cryptocurrency experience also lead to companies poaching talent from each other.

“With 20,600 new IT jobs created in the first three months of 2019, the market is tight,” Janco Associates CEO Victor Janulaitis said at the time. “There is a skills shortage, some projects are missing key early benchmark dates due to lack of staffing.

Last year, the job of developing blockchain distributed ledgers for businesses was ranked first among the top 20 fastest-growing job skills by freelance employment website Upwork. LinkedIn also ranked blockchain developer as the No. 1 emerging job.

it job market forecast 201903 large 100793118 orig Janco Associates

Job market forecast for blockchain

The most promising jobs include more than just developers and engineers, according to research by BusinessStudent.com — a site that reviews business schools and their courses.

According to a mid-year salary survey from Janco Associates, blockchain development and management positions remain in high demand.

“From coding smart contracts to designing user interfaces for cryptocurrency apps to building decentralized applications (dApps) that communicate with the blockchain, there’s no shortage of work to be done in the bitcoin field—and the tech jobs in our top five prove it,” Cavin wrote.

top 5 bitcoin jobs on indeed Indeed

Top 5 bitcoin jobs on indeed

For a better chance at landing a blockchain-related job, candidates should become familiar with basic cryptography, P2P networks and a language like C++, Java, Python or JavaScript (along with certain crypto soft skills).

“To stand out, learn new blockchain development languages like Hyperledger, Bitcoin Script, Ethereum’s Solidity, the Ripple protocol or even languages currently in development like Rholang to stay ahead of the curve,” Cavin wrote.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.



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Time-Machine Tuesday: She’s in the dark most days

This help desk pilot fish works for a service company that handles support for a group of travel agents.

“User calls to report that her terminal screen is blank,” fish reports. “After I run through several procedures for about 45 minutes to no avail, I ask user to look on the back of the monitor for model and serial numbers.

“User tells me that she is unable to see the model or serial numbers. When I ask why, she says her office is dark and she can’t see anything.

“I then learn from her that the electricity is off in the building due to a power failure in the area. She also informs me that she’s calling from her cellphone because her office phone is not working.

“I ask user, ‘How did you expect the terminal to work with no electricity?’ Her reply: ‘I thought it was on a different system.’”

Sharky’s screen lights up when you send me your true tales of IT life at [email protected]. You can also subscribe to the Daily Shark Newsletter.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.



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5 Best Sleep Apps & Methods to Fall Asleep Faster Without Interruptions

Do you have trouble falling asleep or getting a good night’s rest? There are millions of others like you. These apps and websites can help you sleep peacefully at night.

Doctors and scientists have found that lack of proper sleep can adversely affect several things, such as happiness, weight gain, productivity, etc. Plus, there are different reasons for people to not be able to sleep easily. These tools tackle various issues, and hopefully one of them is the trick you were waiting for all this time.

Note: Insomnia can be a debilitating disorder. You should seek advice from a medical professional if you have a recurring problem. These apps and tools are more to help those not diagnosed with a clinical condition.

1. Sleeep (Web): Calculate When You Should Go to Bed

Sleeep web app calculates when you should go to bed for the best sleep cycle

You don’t fall asleep the minute your head hits the pillow, right? A major reason you aren’t getting a good night’s sleep is that you aren’t starting the process at the right time. Calculate when to go to bed with Sleeep.

Sleeep’s premise is that an average sleep cycle is 1.5 hours, and humans need four or five of such sleep cycles in a night to feel well rested. Along with that, you need about 14 minutes to fall asleep, and the best time to wake up for the human body is with sunrise. Tell Sleeep where in the world you are, and it’ll calculate the time for you.

Once you give it access to your location, you’ll get three times at which you should go to bed so that you wake up with the sunrise. These times take into account the 14 minutes, so if you plan to watch Netflix in bed, do that before. Set an alarm for the time to put your phone away, and an alarm for when to wake up with the sunrise.

2. Slumber Bear (Web): Different Sleep Cycles for Different People

Slumber Bear calculates different sleep cycle types and timings for different people

Sleeep suggests timings based on the most widely accepted sleep cycle for the average human. This is called the monophasic cycle, largely applicable to anyone with a normal 9-to-5 job and a fixed routine. But there might be a different sleep cycle that’s quicker and better for you to battle insomnia.

Slumber Bear lists different sleep cycles, and includes a quick calculator to figure out how to apply it to your life. The cycles are:

  • Biphasic cycle: 6 hours at night, one midday nap
  • Everyman cycle: 3.5 hours at night, three 20-minute naps in the day
  • Dymaxion cycle: 4 naps of 30 minutes each, throughout the day
  • Uberman cycle: 6 naps of 20 minutes each, throughout the day

Slumber Bear lists the pros and cons of each type of sleep cycle, and who it’s best for. Tell the cycle’s calculator what time you want to start, and it will come up with alarm times for you. Add it to Google Calendar or an alarm app, and try out your new cycle.

3. Military Method (Web): Fall Asleep Anywhere in 120 Seconds

Learn the U.S. Navy Pre-Flight School's military method for falling asleep anywhere in 120 seconds

The U.S. Navy Pre-Flight School developed a sleep method for pilots to be able to fall asleep anywhere. It takes practice, but after six weeks, 96% of pilots can fall asleep within 120 seconds. And now you can learn how to do it.

Sharon Ackman’s viral article on Medium breaks down the steps involved in this 2-minute exercise. With it, you can even fall asleep while sitting upright on airplanes, so getting to lie down or stretch will only make it easier.

Step by step, Ackman will tell you how military personnel relax different parts of their body to signal to the brain that you’re ready to fall asleep. And finally, there’s an excellent trick to clear your mind and not think about anything.

Ackman’s story is also available in audio form, which you can download and play every night as a form of guided meditation.

4. Nightly (Android, iOS): Science-Backed Ways to Fall Asleep Faster

Nightly combines scientific research and smart algorithms to help you fall asleep faster, and then enjoy uninterrupted sleep. You start the routine by watching a video that relaxes the mind, priming it to fall asleep. After the video, put the phone next to your pillow and the app will play soothing sounds to help you drift off.

Throughout the night, the app monitors your sleeping pattern and behavior. At points where you are likely to experience unrest or have a bad dream, Nightly will restart the soothing sounds to relax you while you’re sleeping. A smart alarm wakes you in the morning when you’re in light sleep, rather than when you’re in a state of deep sleep.

The app tracks your sleep behavior and timings to provide sleep statistics. There’s a 14-day free trial, after which you’ll need to pay $30 annually. It might seem like quite a bit, but it’s worth it for a good night’s sleep.

Download: Nightly for Android | iOS (Free)

5. Nothing Much Happens (Podcast): Bedtime Stories for Adults

Nothing Much Happens podcast puts you to sleep with bedtime stories for adults

The glow of a screen can strain your eyes, so many of us listen to music or podcasts while we’re trying to fall asleep. But there are a few podcasts whose aim is to make you sleep, not listen. Sleep With Me is the most popular, but Nothing Much Happens is quickly gaining a lot of fans.

Nothing Much Happens describes itself as bedtime stories for adults. Hey, if it helped you fall asleep as a kid, why won’t it work when you’re a grown-up? These aren’t “adult stories” though. In fact, as you’ll see, the stories aren’t particularly that interesting and engrossing either. As the title suggests, nothing much happens.

Host and narrator Kathryn has a smooth and calming voice, with which she reads out details about everything in the story. That effect puts your mind into relaxation mode, and you’ll find yourself drifting off to sleep even before an episode finishes.

There are almost 50 bedtime stories for you to listen to. And if you finish with that, try these other podcasts to help you fall asleep


9 Must-Listen Podcasts That Will Help You Fall Asleep




9 Must-Listen Podcasts That Will Help You Fall Asleep

Sleep disorders are a growing issue around the world. If you have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up, try these podcasts for better sleep health.
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Best Apps for Tracking and Improving Sleep

Did you check your phone before you went to sleep? The blue light of a smartphone’s screen has been shown to disrupt the body clock, and prevent you from falling asleep easily. It’s one of the first things you should address if you’re having trouble with sleep.

Try a combination of blue light filter apps, sleep tracking apps, and meditation apps to conquer the physical and mental barriers to falling asleep. To get you started, we’ve reviewed some of the best sleep apps for tracking and improving sleep


The Best Sleep Apps for Tracking and Improving Sleep




The Best Sleep Apps for Tracking and Improving Sleep

Learn how to improve your sleep quality using sleep tracker apps, blue light filter apps, and sleep meditation apps.
Read More

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Mobile App Website Inspiration: 20 Application Websites And Tips To Design One

App websites are sometimes neglected by app owners. The owners or developers set up everything in place for the app to go ballistic on the market, except doing the basic marketing step: designing an app website that converts your visitors to users.

But is it enough to create a random website for an app?

Nope.

If you do a rushed job, your website will be just as good as not having one. You’ll end up having visitors come to your site that you’ve been promoting and they’ll close the tab as fast as they’ve clicked on your link.

You can avoid this unfortunate situation if you take the time to create eye-catching and engaging app websites designed to consistently convert visitors into users.

It’s really not all that difficult when you follow these 5 simple steps.

 

5 Simple Steps to Creating the Best App Websites

Step 1: Choose a Mesmerizing Color Palette

Not everyone will necessarily agree with your idea of what a mesmerizing color palette would be. Maybe you’re not even sure what it should look like.

Not a problem. Stick to these 3 simple rules and your selection should be spot on every time:

  • Your palette should feature colors that immediately attract visitors’ attention.
  • Make sure it’s on brand so as not to detract from the message.
  • It needs to be visually supportive of the message as well.

Notice how the use of pastel color touches in this Headspace example are every bit as effective as bold, brash colors. Much more so in fact. They give the site a friendly, lighthearted look that helps to convey the message.

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You can create a similar colorful app website with this Be Theme pre-built website that puts an eye-catching palette of bold colors to good use.

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Magpie illustrates the result of creating a color palette that aligns perfectly with its brand – in this case, visually memorable pastels.

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Muse’s subtle use of a natural, neutral color palette reinforces the message that their product line makes users more mindful and connected as they go about their daily lives.

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On the other hand, the vibrancy of the BeApp2 color palette is designed to perfectly appeal to a large audience of physically active users.

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Step 2: Feature Crystal-Clear Product Photos and Images

People don’t want clever hints as to what the app looks like. Anytime visitors have to try to figure things out you’ll likely loose them. They want to be able to clearly understand how easy or how difficult using the app will be; and above all how it differs from the other 400 similar ones on the market.

Bite for example, clearly displays how the app appears on a smartphone while giving the user a sense of how easy it is to work with.

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You can create a similar app website with BeWallet. This pre-built website provides an excellent starting point for building a website designed for financial apps. Financial apps are in great demand; especially those that are both helpful and straightforward to work with.

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BeSoftware provides an excellent foundation for creating a website that allows a visitor to navigate through the inner workings of the app.

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The use of before and after examples is a simple yet highly credible way to demonstrate what an app is capable of. JibJab applies this tactic to near perfection.

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Step 3: Give Visitors A Clear Picture Of How The App Works

Showing visitors what an app does is a necessary step, but it’s not enough. You need to show how the app works as well. One of the most effective sales drivers lies in the ability of an app website to allow visitors to imagine themselves as actual users of the app.

Video is one of the easiest ways to accomplish this. PeekCalendar’s hero section includes such a video.

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BePolyglot may not have been initially created only for presenting an app, but its product in use hero section is exactly what you need to offer the users a preview of your app.

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The best way to present a video is to invite the visitor to watch it (not everyone enjoys watching a video that automatically runs). BePay’s video is opened with a CTA button above the fold.

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Tunity’s website uses a slider in the hero section to show several examples of how the product works. In fact, the entire website brilliantly presents the various workings of the app in great detail.

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Step 4: Don’t Be Afraid To (Over)Use “White” Space On App Websites

An overly generous use of white space often does more good than harm, while sparse usage can have the opposite effect. Use just enough white space to highlight the main message on the page. Add a little bit more, and you’ll be in great shape. White space makes it easier for visitors to focus on a single message or element, or on several.

Curio utilizes a clean, fresh design that makes it ever-so-easy for the eye to focus on what’s most important.

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The BeProduct4 or BeHosting2 pre-built websites can be used to create an app website that has the same, clean and fresh effect. Dark “white space” is used effectively in one example; white and pale blue in the other. The message is clearly presented in both examples.

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SpellTower is an extreme example of white space usage. 90% or more of the page is white space, yet it is by no means excessive. The user clearly knows where to go or what to do next.

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Step 5: Use CTA Designs That Will Grab Visitors By The Eyeballs

The very worst thing you can do with a CTA button (with the possible exception of causing it to send a visitor to the wrong place) is to make it hard to locate. The simple fact is, you want to make it virtually impossible to miss and make your visitor feel compelled to click on it.

Bright and bold are the operative parameters.

The Splitwise CTA button clearly stands out. A visitor will first be drawn to the headline, next to the sub-headline, and the flow naturally extends to the CTA button which is easy to see.

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BeERP uses a bright green color to draw attention to the primary CTA button and a somewhat plainer color (black) to highlight the secondary button.

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As the BeKids example illustrates, it can be perfectly OK to use the same color for the CTA button as is used in other visual elements; in this case blue. Rather than being lost in the shuffle, the button stands out.

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Conclusion

Follow these 5 surefire steps and you should have little problem creating an app website that’s designed to turn visitors into customers. Your mesmerizing color palette and clean imagery will attract attention. Clearly illustrating what the app does and enabling a potential user to visualize how to work with it keeps visitors engaged. White space helps to make the user experience a pleasant one, and bright bold CTA buttons lead to conversions.

It’s important however to remember that the website presentation should be geared to making the intended audience want to use the app.

If you really intend to create as many app websites as possible (while avoiding Christmas Every Day or Groundhog Day issues) you might want to check out Be Theme’s gallery of more than 450 customizable pre-built websites. They’re functional and visually impressive, and they have intuitive navigation and everything else you need to create one attention-getting app website after another.

 

[– This is a sponsored post on behalf of Be Theme –]



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Optimize Your Spending and Reduce Your Bills With Truebill

There are only two ways to get richer: earn more or spend less. Improving your salary is hard, but there are many ways to reduce your expenses. Truebill is a mobile app that helps you find the unnecessary spending. The app can also help you lower your bills and keep track of costly subscriptions. It is super secure, very smart and completely free to download.

Three-Step Financial Freedom

When your schedule is packed, budgeting can slip pretty low on the priority list. However, the main reason why most of us overspend is because we simply don’t know what we can afford.

Truebill helps you take control of your financial life without spending hours hunched over a calculator. Available on iOS and Android, the free app connects to your bank and credit card accounts (using bank-level 256-bit SSL encryption) to track your income and expenses.

The data is presented in one simple dashboard, helping you gain an overview of your finances. Truebill automatically categorizes every transaction, so you can see where your money is going.

But that’s not all. Truebill lets you create savings goals, and the app will tell you how much you can spend. The app can also help you lower your bills by finding cheaper alternatives for your cell phone, cable and security. You can even monitor your subscriptions and cut the ones you don’t need.

Get Started Free

Truebill is completely free to download on iOS and Android. Head over to the homepage now to get started.



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