Tagged: computing

Can User Experience be designed?

Can User Experience be designedUser experience (UX), in simple definition, involves a person’s emotions about using a particular product, system or service. User experience is a very blurry concept and many people use the term incorrectly. A lot of designers seem to be talking about user experience (UX) these days and have a strong belief in how they can craft the user experience of their product or website.

Recent research indicates that UX takes a broader approach to communication between computers and humans. UX takes many different aspects into consideration as well, such as emotional, hedonic, aesthetic, affective and experiential variables.

According to the Hassenzahl’s model, each user assigns some attributes to a product or service when using it and these attributes are different for each individual user. UX is the consequences of these attributes plus the situation in which the product is used.

So in a realistic world, you cannot design the user, because some are able to easily use a product, service, or a website to perform their task and others simply cannot! The stimulation that a product or service provides depends on the individual user’s experience with similar products. Also, every user has different goals, and so they use products, services and/or websites in different modes.

The other important point to remember is that you can never design a situation. A user situation goes beyond what can be designed. It can determine why a product is being used, and it can shape a user’s expectations.For example, on some occasions, you may want to explore and take advantage of the wealth of features on Twitter or Facebook. In other situations, the same functions may make things too complex for you. Moreover UX also evolves with time. For example, the first time a user tries an application, they may be confused by it and have a slightly downbeat experience. Later, when they get used to it and discover its wealth of features and learn how to handle it, they might get emotionally attached to it, and the overall UX (user experience) would become more positive.

So while designing a product, service or an application, it is very important to understand the user. Typical methods such as user research with surveys, interviews and observations are very important. Finally, it is important to give users what they want, and perhaps a little bit more! In addition to enabling users to use your service effectively and efficiently, it is important to give them the “WOW” experience. Exceeding their expectation is always preferred.

Social engineering is the art of psychological manipulation

Social engineeringSocial engineering in its most basic form is described as the art of psychological manipulation. It is generally associated with the context of security where a person is manipulated to perform a certain action or divulge confidential information. It could also be something as simple as breach of trust, confidence trick or a simple fraud.

There are many forms of social engineering and are generally associated with human decision-making. These acts typically occur when “bugs in the human hardware,” are exploited in various combinations to create an attack.

Here are a few to watch out for:

Phishing:

By far the most popular social engineering technique, it is an act of fraudulently obtaining private information. Usually, the phisher sends an e-mail that appears to come from a legitimate business—a bank, or credit card company—requesting “verification” of information and warning of some dire consequence if it is not provided. The e-mail usually contains a link to a fraudulent web page that seems legitimate—with company logos and content—and has a form requesting everything from a home address to an ATM card’s PIN.

Pretexting:

It is the act of creating and using an invented scenario (the pretext) to engage a victim in a way that increases the chance the victim will reveal information or perform certain actions. It most often involves some prior research or setup and the use of this information for imitation (e.g., date of birth, Social Security Number, etc) to establish legitimacy in the mind of the targeted victim. This technique is used to fool a business into disclosing customer information as well as by private investigators to obtain telephone records, utility records, banking records and other information directly from company service representatives.

Baiting:

This technique has been widely used in developed and underdeveloped countries. It uses physical media and relies on the curiosity or greed of the victim. Typically, the attacker leaves a malware infected floppy disk, CD ROM, or USB flash drive in a location sure to be found (elevator, bathroom , sidewalk, parking lot), gives it a legitimate looking and simply waits for the victim to use the device.

Tailgating:

This act involves an attacker, seeking entry to a restricted area secured by unattended, electronic access control, e.g. by RFID card, simply walks in behind a person who has legitimate access, hence the term “tail” gating.

With the coming of technology and systems, it is highly important for all entrepreneurs to secure their business and day-to-day transactions from such acts of confidence tricking and fraud. As a business, have you educated your employees recently on what information is safe to divulge and to whom they can divulge it? Understanding social engineering techniques can help you develop a plan for how to protect your business. Recognize the signs and protect yourself before it is too late!

GaN is changing the WORLD

Gallium nitride or more popularly known as GaN is a wide band gap semiconductor material generally used in bright light-emitting diodes ever since the 90s. GaN is developing rapidly around the globe to transform many aspects of modern day life. The material has special properties that are also been tested and used by the defense and military of many countries around the world.

We might not know but we do come in contact with GaN in our day-to-day lives. A simple instance is the answer to the typical mobile user “Can you hear me now?” The efficiency and resistance to heat and electronic interference of microwave amplifiers built with GaN enables broader and far more reliable cellular coverage, while reducing the need for cooling fans required by older cell phone tower technologies. In fact according to a South Korean company that makes GaN-based radio frequency and microwave components, U.S. carriers could save approximately $2 billion per year by using GaN technology for their wireless infrastructures.

Another popular example is the Blu-ray disc: As we all know Blu-ray discs can hold more video and audio data in comparison to the traditional DVDs. The data packed into the Blu-ray discs are in the form of tiny groves or pits. The tiny, highly accurate Blu-ray laser beam – powered by GaN-based violet laser diodes – can accurately read these hyperfine pits or groves. GaN technology enables higher resolution for the crystal clear imagery modern movie viewers have come to expect.

GaN is rapidly propelling innovation across numerous industries around the world. Product manufacturing start-ups and large enterprises looking to innovate and conceptualize new products would be way ahead of the game if they understand the true potential of using GaN within their development and business model. We are heading towards an era where future innovators, investors, engineers and scientists will be finding new ways to apply GaN technology into our iPhones, iPads and other digital devices, bringing the networked world to consumers’ fingertips more quickly and effortlessly.

Data Mining – the power of the spreadsheet

Data mining is a method of identifying and extracting hidden patterns from within data. Identifying unusual patterns or behavioral anomalies is the key goal of this process. By analyzing the numbers your business produces, you can see what the normal ups and downs of your business look like on a chart. When something out of the ordinary occurs, it will stand out like red flag.

Companies spend millions of dollars to install data mining software that automates much of the process. Wal-Mart, the world’s biggest retailer, has spent billions of dollars on their own approach to business intelligence and data-mining. That is the secret to their great success.However, small businesses need not spend millions. All you need is a spreadsheet and the willingness to enter your own sales data on a regular basis. You can use Microsoft Excel or Sun Open Office; If you have consistent net connectivity, than Google Docs will also work fine. Mac owners can use any of the above programs, plus Apple Works.

“The Goal: Spot Economic Changes before the Professionals Do”

Although every firm is different, you can attack the data the same way. You need to be a little creative in your approach, whether you are selling cars, software or accounting services. Your goal is to find typical and aberrational patterns in your sales and other data.

The main idea behind data mining is that your business might show stresses or improvement in the economy before the official data picks it up. Sooner or later, what the Bureau of Economic analysis puts together is data from 1000s of businesses like yours.

From BackRub to Google.com – the facts

Fact 1 – Google began in January 1996 as a research project by Larry Page and Sergey Brin when they were both PhD students at Stanford University in California.

Fact 2 – While conventional search engines ranked results by counting how many times the search terms appeared on the page, the two theorized about a better system that analyzed the relationships between websites.

Fact 3 – They called this new technology PageRank, where a website’s relevance was determined by the number of pages, and the importance of those pages, that linked back to the original site.

Fact 4 – Page and Brin originally nicknamed their new search engine “BackRub”, because the system checked backlinks to estimate the importance of a site.

Fact 5 – Eventually, they changed the name to Google, originating from a misspelling of the word “googol” the number one followed by one hundred zeros, which was picked to signify that the search engine wants to provide large quantities of information for people.

Fact 6 – Originally, Google ran under the Stanford University website, with the domain google.stanford.edu.

Fact 7 – The domain name for Google was registered on September 15, 1997, and the company was incorporated on September 4, 1998. It was based in a garage in Menlo Park, California. Craig Silverstein, a fellow PhD student at Stanford, was hired as the first employee.

Fact 8 – In May 2011, the number of monthly unique visitors to Google surpassed 1 billion for the first time, an 8.4 percent increase from May 2010 (931 million).

World’s Most Intriguing Startups

Scribd uses iPaper which is a rich document format similar to PDF built for the web, which allows users to embed documents into a web page. iPaper was built with Adobe Flash, allowing it to be viewed the same across different operating systems (Windows, Mac OS, and Linux) without conversion, as long as the reader has Flash installed (although Scribd has announced non-Flash support for the iPhone). All major document types can be formatted into iPaper including Word docs, PowerPoint presentations, PDFs, OpenDocumentdocuments, OpenOffice.org XML documents, and PostScript files.

The idea for Scribd was originally inspired when Trip Adler was at Harvard and had a conversation with his father, John R. Adler about the difficulties of publishing academic papers. He teamed up with cofounders Jared Friedman and Tikhon Bernstam and they attended Y Combinator in Cambridge in the summer of 2006. Scribd was launched from a San Francisco apartment in March 2007 and quickly grew in traffic.

In September 2009, BusinessWeek named Scribd one the “World’s Most Intriguing Startups”. In December 2009, Forbes named Scribd one of its “10 Hot Startups”. Fast CompanyNamed Scribd “One of its Top 10 Most Innovative Media Companies” in February 2010. In May 2010, Scribd was recognized as one of the “2010 Hottest San Francisco Companies” by Lead411. On September 1, 2010, the World Economic Forum announced the company as a Technology Pioneer for 2011. After the World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer Award, Time Magazine named Scribd one of the “10 Start-Ups that Will Change Your Life”.

Small Business – Enterprise Voice Service

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