Robots Win, You Lose

The job market remains ugly, regardless of the boasting from the president, the Fed and Wall Street’s talking heads. As we have explained on more than one occasion, we’ve replaced high-paying jobs in the manufacturing sector with low-paying jobs in the services and health care sectors. That is not how you build up a middle class that will support your economy.

Security in the job market doesn’t look like it’s going to improve anytime soon. A recent survey of 5,006 adults by the Pew Research Center revealed that more than half of American workers believes there will be less job security over the next 20 to 30 years. What’s more, technology is seen as a rising threat to jobs.

Approximately 71% of workers believe that employees will need to improve their skills more often in the future if they want to keep up with job-related developments, particularly as more robots are used in the workplace.

In fact, we’ve seen a significant rise over the past couple of years of the implementation of robots, starting with the fast-food industry. In California, Zume Pizza has replaced its human chefs with robots, cutting its labor costs in half.

Uber is using self-driving cars in parts of America, and there’s a push to start using self-driving trucks for long-distance deliveries. Forrester reports that robots could eliminate many positions in customer service, trucking and taxi service – about 6% of the U.S. job market.

And now robots are creeping into banking. Earlier this week, Royal Bank of Scotland announced that it will soon unveil Luvo – a “human” AI that can answer questions online and mimic human empathy. This robot will be able to serve customers 24 hours a day, reduce the workforce and cuts costs.

A Swedish bank plans to use the robot Amelia for customer services. And companies in China, Japan and Taiwan have already implemented Softbank’s Pepper robot.

Yes, we’ve had several technological revolutions over the centuries that have significantly changed the job market, forcing employees to either develop new skills or go jobless. But my concern is that technology is evolving faster now than ever before, and humans simply won’t be able to keep up with the changes.

We’re not creating enough high-paying jobs to support our middle class, and we’re replacing our low-paying jobs with robots.

Where does that leave us?

With a lot of people jobless and dependent on a system that’s already drowning in debt.

The American economy is already poised for collapse and won’t be able to survive many more direct hits. Putting more of the workforce out in the cold could definitely topple the entire system.

4 Myths About Fiber Optic Cables

While fiber optic cables have been around for a long time, most people don’t fully understand them. Due to this, there are plenty of myths surrounding them. Some of the most common myths include:

The optic fibers are expensive

Years ago, the fibers used to be expensive. They were more expensive than copper. This is no longer the case. Nowadays, due to the drop in the manufacturing costs and ease of terminations, fiber optics are now less expensive than most of the copper installations. In addition to the cables being cheap, they are also easy to maintain.

The cables are difficult to terminate

Just as the fiber cables were expensive a few years ago, they were also difficult to terminate. The cables were fragile, they required you to limit the amount of exposed glass, and the glass shards were dangerous thus you had to take great care of yourself. With advances in technology, this is no longer the case. Nowadays terminating the fibers with SSF is very easy. In fact, you can do it with just a little training.

The fiber optic is impossible to hack

Fiber optic cables are often used in computer connections. One of the most sensitive issues with computer connections is the ability of other people to get access to your information through hacking. The cables use light that stays within the cables which makes it difficult for hackers to access your data. While this is the case, it doesn’t mean that it’s impossible for hackers to access your information. All the hackers need to do is to have a network tap and a physical access to your cable. Due to this risk, you should take the safety of your computers seriously to prevent people from getting into your network. You should also encrypt any data that you want to be kept private.

Optic fiber infrastructure is different from that in copper

In most cases, fiber optics are compared to copper. Since they are competitors, many people feel that their infrastructure is different. This isn’t the case. Most of the parts and pieces of the two are similar. The wall boxes, patch cables, wall plates, and in-wall components are the same. The layout of the two networks is also similar.

Conclusion

If you didn’t know some inside details about optic cables now you know. For the units to give you ideal results you need to buy them from a reputable store.

Managed Print Services: It’s More Important Than You Think

Outsourcing the management of your company’s document output via Managed Print Services (MPS) offers a myriad of benefits. Most companies embark on an MPS solution to save money, reduce energy costs, and consolidate printer fleets. However, an MPS solution offers much more than that – It also enables you to increase workflow and boost productivity. Your return on investment is limited only by the limitations you put on your solution.

Here are a few ways to help MPS help you, maximizing its impact on your organization:

Start from the beginning. From day one, plan on using MPS to its fullest potential. Rather than following the learning curve, dive in head first. This way, you will avoid using MPS only for short-term savings. Instead, you’ll be better equipped to take advantage of infrastructure optimization, proactive management, and business optimization.

Set yourself free. You may not realize it right away, but maintaining a proactive MPS solution will free you and your employees from tedious work-allowing you to focus on more productive tasks. It will also free you from distractions (like when a printer goes down) and tracking inventory (such as when you need more toner). With MPS, it’s all taken care of for you. That way, your employees can focus on what’s actually important: your business.

Integrate everything. In order to truly eliminate inefficient processes, you’ll want to integrate your MPS system with existing business systems to enhance workflow, information management, and compliance. Integration allows you to truly measure your cost savings and track productivity improvements.

Be specific. When engaging with MPS, keep your specific needs in the back of your mind. This includes adopting solutions suited to your specific industry, such as education, law, medical, or finance. Intelligent multifunction devices can be equipped with industry-specific software that provides practical solutions for your unique business needs. Remember, there is more to MPS than copying, printing, and scanning. Make MPS work for you instead of the other way around.

Never stop improving. Process improvement is key to ensuring you attain the wide array of benefits MPS offers. Always be willing to adjust your MPS solution and your workflow in order to gain the most out of your system.

MPS is not a one size fits all solution nor is it a strategy for wholesale replacement of your current print fleet with new devices. The benefits of MPS are best realized when a professional MPS provider works with you to develop near-term and long-term goals to meet your specific needs. In that way you maximize the return on investment by optimizing business processes, boosting productivity and enhancing workflow.

Internet of Things: More Than Just Protected Plumbing

Magnetic stripe readers or magnetic card readers are devices used in interpreting data found on the magnet stripe of a debit, credit or any other payment card that you might be using. The reader works by using magnets to scan code from different cards. To use the card reader you have to slide it through the slot. You can also hold the card near the reader.

There are many benefits that come with having the readers in your business. One of the benefits is that they save you time and effort. In the absence of the devices, you would have to manually put data into your computer but with the readers, in place you have to only slide the card into the reader and you are good to go. The card reader also increases efficiency as you are able to finish recording the financial information fast and continue working.

Types of magnetic readers

There are many types of these card readers that are ideal for different uses. There are those that are ideal for use in retail stores, restaurants, and other vending areas. These aid in processing debit, credit, and gift card payments. There are others that are effective in reading smartcards. These read information in both the smart chip and magnetic stripe. Regardless of the reader that you buy you should ensure that it’s of high quality.

Factors to consider when buying a magnetic reader

For you to buy the right unit you need to consider a number of factors that include:

Readability: The units are designed for high or standard volume use. The high volume readers come equipped with components that allow them to live for a long time. They are known for their longer reading channel which ensures that they are able to scan the details in a card on the first pass. In most cases, they are made from metal. Due to these features, they are usually expensive to purchase. The standard volume readers, on the other hand, are not of high quality like the high volume readers. Due to this, they often require an additional pass for them to read your card.

Interface: The readers have three main interface options: serial, USB, and PS/2 keyboard wedge. USB and PS/2 interfaces send information back to the computer as if it was typed on the keyboard. Card readers connected using serial interfaces often require special software in order to interpret data.

Internet of Things: More Than Just Protected Plumbing

The man looking over the water gauges couldn’t believe what he was seeing…

Just down the road, a few miles from his little control room, the giant tank holding Robinson Township’s municipal water supply was draining down… fast.

He looked at the clock. Midnight. The thermometer registered an icy 20 degrees. Somewhere out there, among the Pittsburgh suburbs’ 15 square miles of snow-covered neighborhoods and businesses, a water main was losing more than 3,000 gallons of water a minute.

He checked his dials again and did some quick calculations. The township’s storage tank held 1 million gallons of water. At this rate, all of it would be gone before dawn.

But exactly where was the water leaking? Where was the pipe break?

He had no idea.

The answer came five hours later.

A ruptured water main in the town’s commercial district drained off the majority of the township’s supply and left six inches of standing water on the floor of a neighboring Toys “R” Us (not to mention – with little available water for the day, it forced schools to close).

You read about this stuff all the time. For cities around the country, water main breaks are a fact of life.

Or are they?

This is where one of the investing mega trends – the Internet of Things (IoT) – has a rising impact.

IoT to the Rescue

What if you could place sensors in underground water mains, fire hydrants and elsewhere within a piping system, each transmitting bits of data to the town water department?

Put dozens or hundreds of those sensors together, spitting out minute-to-minute information on flow rates and water pressure, and the location of a million-gallon water main break in the middle of the night is no longer such a mystery.

Most breaks, however, aren’t so dramatic or obvious.

Think of a pinhole leak in an underground water main. It might seep a comparatively small amount of water – dozens or a few hundreds of gallons a day. But add up all those leaks in a network of pipes hundreds of miles long, and you’re talking about a lot of wasted H2O.

For instance, Philadelphia’s water department pumps 250 million gallons of water through its municipal system each day. Experts say about a quarter of the water never actually reaches the businesses and residences on the other end of its pipes. That’s 60 million gallons of water lost today. And tomorrow. And the day after that.

Until recently, good luck trying to find even a small portion of those leaks. It’s like trying to find a needle in a stack of needles.

Unless you have IoT.

Powering New Efficiencies

You can imagine how precious water is in a place such as Las Vegas. Well, the region’s water district recently installed Internet-connected sensors to the buried water mains running right down the center of the Las Vegas Strip.

The devices monitor the physical integrity of the pipe walls on a real-time basis. Such efforts have helped the water district identify more than 1,600 leaks in its system and saved nearly 300 million gallons of water.

That’s just one water system. Keep in mind, the United States has more than 150,000 city, county and regional water authorities. That’s a lot of water saved (and a lot of money too).

The Internet of Things is about more than just detecting leaks in water mains, of course. But it demonstrates in just one way the growing use of the IoT and why it’s such an investable mega trend.