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The Airline Whose Planes Are Said to Break Down In Mid-Air More Often Than Anyone's Is About To Have a Big PR Problem
April 15, 2018 6:00 am|Comments (0)

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

They say you should get out ahead of a bad story.

Present your version before the story hits, so that people can have good feelings about you before aspersions are cast.

I wonder, therefore, what Allegiant Air might do this weekend.

I wrote about this airline a couple of years ago, after it had been accused of having planes that break down four times more often than those of other airlines.

In mid-air, that is.

Of the airline’s 86 planes, it was said that 42 of them had broken down in mid-air the previous year.

The airline fought back and claimed that the accusations were “incendiary.” Indeed, its stock went up 24 percent soon after the original Tampa Bay Times article was published.

Now, though, Allegiant might have a bigger PR problem. 

On Sunday, it’ll be featured in a 60 Minutes segment, one that CBS teases will be twice the usual length.

Here’s the teaser.

Just those 48 seconds suggest that Allegiant should brace for something of calm, considered skewering.

I asked the budget airline what it thought of the upcoming exposé. A spokeswoman told me Allegiant would wait until the segment airs before offering a rebuttal.

One of the main issues with Allegiant’s record of breakdowns is that it flies old planes. Very old planes, some 22 years of age.

Recently, though, it has begun to replace these planes with Airbuses. Indeed, last May was the first time that Allegiant enjoyed the experience of fitting out a new(ish) plane.

The question, then, is how much Sunday’s 60 Minutes piece will reflect the whole current scenario.

The problem for the airline’s PR department, though, is that Allegiant will surely come out looking not so good on one of the most respected news programs in America, one that’s watched by 12 million people.

It’s inevitable, then, that it will instantly be associated with the sort of bad reputation that plagued United Airlines over the last year. 

Worse, perhaps, is the idea that instead of a brutal lack of customer sensitivity — as in the United case — Allegiant might be tarred with the notion that it’s simply an unsafe airline.

On Friday, the airline’s stock began to drop. What might happen to it on Monday?

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Hong Kong fund says Toshiba chip unit worth more than $30 billion
April 6, 2018 6:01 am|Comments (0)

TOKYO (Reuters) – A Hong Kong-based activist investment fund opposed to Toshiba Corp’s (6502.T) sale of its chip unit to a Bain Capital-led group said the deal should be renegotiated at a valuation of 3.3 trillion yen to 4.4 trillion yen ($ 30 billion-$ 41 billion).

FILE PHOTO – The logo of Toshiba Corp. is seen at the company’s facility in Kawasaki, Japan February 13, 2017. REUTERS/Issei Kato/File Photo

Argyle Street Management said on Friday that the current deal, which values the unit at 2 trillion yen, was agreed upon when Toshiba was desperate for cash. Toshiba is no longer insolvent, and was free to terminate the deal without incurring any penalty because the sale had not closed by a March 31 deadline, it said.

Toshiba should aim to list the unit if the Bain group will not agree to a higher price, it added.

Reporting by Makiko Yamazaki; Writing by Ritsuko Ando; Editing by Edwina Gibbs

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This 1 Job Interview Tip Makes You Sound More Well-Spoken
March 16, 2018 6:01 pm|Comments (0)

Interviews aren’t easy. Trying to make a good impression in a condensed period of time while under pressure makes us all nervous. That’s why preparing for interviews is so vital. Now, more than ever, hiring managers have very high expectations of applicants.

Smart people talk in simple terms.

Studies show people who try to sound important and smart by using long, complex words actually sound less educated and are less respected. The more basic and simply you can speak, the more believable you are. This makes sense. If you have to over-complicate things with a long-winded answer, it can give the impression you are:

None of these are things we wish to convey in a job interview. The solution is to master a three-step process for answering interview questions.

The “experience + learn = grow” model.

Most hiring managers use behavioral questions in interviews. These types of questions require a more-than-one-word answer. The key is to answer with just enough detail, but without going over-the-top. At Work It Daily, we teach job seekers the following format for answering any question concisely.

Experience — Summarize a situation from your past that validates you have the experience they’re looking for.

Learn — Share what the experience taught you.

Grow — Emphasize how you plan to use what you’ve learned to be more valuable to the employer.

For example, if a hiring manager asks, “Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a difficult customer,” you might answer:

Experience
“Once, an irate customer called our toll-free line and I answered it. The person had received damaged goods in the mail and was furious. I let him vent his frustration without interruption. When he finally finished, I thanked him for his honesty and apologized for the inconvenience. It was amazing how much his attitude changed when I didn’t try to make excuses. I asked him what he thought would be the best course of action and he suggested having a replacement sent overnight at our expense. I agreed and set it up. By the time we were done, he was complimenting the company on what great customer service we had.”

Learn
“What I learned that day is angry customers want to be heard, and focusing on the solution instead of what went wrong is the key to success.”

Grow
“Now, I’d like to use this knowledge, along with some of the other valuable customer-service lessons I gained at my last job to help exceed your customers’ expectations as well.”

See how easy it is to concisely convey your expertise when you follow this format?

P.S. — Asking questions is as important as answering them.

The best interviews are a two-way dialog. You should leave feeling like you had a meaningful conversation with the hiring manager. To do this, job seekers must also prepare questions to ask in the interview. Knowing how to sound well-spoken is only half of the equation. You also need to know how to appear engaged and excited about the role. The questions you ask can help you connect more deeply with the hiring manager and leave a stronger impression.

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Bitcoin gets back above $10,000 on Bitstamp, a more than two-week high
February 15, 2018 6:10 pm|Comments (0)

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Bitcoin rose above $ 10,000 on Thursday for the first time in more than two weeks, as investors bought back the digital currency after having fallen 70 percent from its all-time peak hit around mid-December.

On the Luxembourg-based Bitstamp, bitcoin rose as high as $ 10,095.82 and was last at $ 10,060.26, up 6 percent on the day.

Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss

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Self-Driving Cars Companies Are Using Remote Babysitters, And More Car News This Week
February 2, 2018 6:30 pm|Comments (0)

Is there anything more satisfying than finder a quicker way to your destination? You might be in a car, or on foot, or you’re building a software product or a company culture and suddenly—Jeez, that was easier.

Sometimes, it works. As transportation editor Alex Davies reported this week, companies building self-driving cars have found that it’s important—necessary, even—to use remote drivers, sitting behind screens miles away, if they want to get their less-than-perfect tech on the road. Sweet. Alex also took a look at Nuro, a brand new self-driving mini-truck startup that wants to deliver your snacks to you, so you never have to leave your block again. Also sweet.

Sometimes, however, shortcuts are a bad idea. Uber bought an ex-Waymo engineer’s autonomous truck startup because it thought the engineer’s company could give it a tech boost. But Waymo sued, and the two tech giants are set to face off in court next week. State governments thought they could go green quickly by buying “recycled” pavement—but they might not be saving money, or the environment, in the long run. Pick your timesavers carefully, kiddos.

Plus, news about an Alphabet company’s new effort to organize cities’ travel data, a Pax Britannica among tech companies for the purpose of building safer streets (and protecting their business models), and a place to find everything you have ever wanted to know about autonomous vehicles. Let’s get you caught up.

Headlines

Stories you might have missed from WIRED this week

  • A blockbuster trade secrets lawsuit between Waymo and Uber is set to kick off Monday. Here’s what you need to know about the self-driving tech dispute—and why you really, really must pay attention.

  • Alex uncovers a secret fact about the growing autonomous vehicle sector: Almost every tech developer is leaning on remote drivers, who can guide cars through problem spots from miles away. Self-driving…to a point. For safety’s sake, of course.

  • Ford looks out into the horizon and sees the sunset of the personal automobile—in cities, at least. So it’s building a cloud platform, an operating system for the city of the future.

  • Sidewalk Labs, Alphabet’s urban solutions company, is doing something similar, trying to put all public and private city transportation data in one, accessible, shareable space. Say hello to its new spin-off company, Coord.

  • Fifteen tech companies came together to sign onto ten new, very nice-sounding “commandments” for livable cities. They include open data, equity, and a zero-emission future. But don’t give anyone too much credit. Those companies still have to make actual changes to the way cities operate, writer Jack Stewart warns.

  • A new report suggests American public transit needs to adapt to meet the future—and can’t blame all its problems, or pin all its hopes, on mobility companies like Uber and Lyft.

  • In a vague-ish announcement, Waymo says it’s purchasing “thousands” of new Chrysler Pacificas that will operate without a driver at the wheel.

  • Hello to Nuro, a new self-driving delivery truck startup from fancy Google alums. The company is betting it can deliver stuff sans humans in three to five years.

  • I take a deep dive into the science of “green” pavement. If done wrong, pavement could hurt the local ecosystem; if done right, that black and grey stuff beneath your feet could do its part to save the world.

  • Need to get up to speed on what self-driving cars even mean? Check out WIRED’s new guide, a constantly updated deep dive.

Car-Table Hybrid of the Week

The world is a wide and wondrous place, so of course you can plunk down some undetermined sum of money to buy a car frozen into a table, à la Han Solo Chez Jabba. The specially commissioned, 10-car/table collection is from the chrome nerds at Discommon.

Discommon

Required Reading

News from elsewhere on the internet.

  • Because Uber and Waymo shouldn’t have all the fun, this week the beseiged electric car company Faraday Future filed suit against its former CFO’s new startup—for trade secret theft.
  • Joby Aviation, which has raised $ 130 million in funding, unveils its new flying car cough electric plane-drone hybrid cough. The company wants to operate its own airborne ride-hailing service.
  • Self-driving vehicle startup Phantom AI gets into a scary crash while operating semiautonomous features—and while TechCrunch reporters were inside.
  • Uber teams up with electric bicycle-sharing company Jump for a San Francisco pilot project. Users will be able to track down a bike and and pay for a ride within Uber’s app.
  • California startup Udelv staged an autonomous vehicle grocery delivery in the Bay Area this week. It wants dozens more of its orange robots on the roads soon.
  • If you’re the type of car nerd who watches the Super Bowl for the commercials, here’s everything you need to know before the game.
  • Is this German man a hero or a villain?

In the Rearview

Essential Stories from WIRED’s canon

India’s Silicon Valley nearly doubled in population in less than two decades. But it turns out you can’t take shortcuts to economic development without caring for the natural resources. Last May, Samanth Subramanian explored why Bangalore, once land of hundreds of lakes, is now dying of thirst.

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Contrite Facebook executives seek to ward off more European rules
January 21, 2018 6:00 pm|Comments (0)

MUNICH (Reuters) – Facebook executives are fanning out across Europe this week to address the social media giant’s slow response to abuses on its platform, seeking to avoid further legislation along the lines of a new hate speech law in Germany it says goes too far.

Facebook’s communications and public policy chief used an annual meeting in Munich of some of Europe and Silicon Valley’s tech elite to apologize for failing to do more, earlier, to fight hate speech and foreign influence campaigns on Facebook.

“We have to demonstrate we can bring people together and build stronger communities,” the executive, Elliot Schrage, said of the world’s biggest information-sharing platform, which has more than 2 billion monthly users.

“We have over-invested in building new experiences and under-invested in preventing abuses,” he said in a keynote speech at the DLD Munich conference on Sunday.

In the United States, lawmakers have criticized Facebook for failing to stop Russian operatives using its platform to meddle in the 2016 presidential elections, while Britain’s parliament is looking again at the role such manipulation may have played in Britain’s Brexit vote to leave the European Union.

(reut.rs/2FZJlXB) ((reut.rs/2y9i98F)

A German law that took effect at the start of the year requires social networks such as Facebook, Google and Twitter to remove online hate speech or face heavy fines. (reut.rs/2rm6AI2)

“It sets forth the right idea for the relation between government and the private sector but it also goes farther than … we think it should go,” Schrage said of the law.

”At the same time the law places the responsibility on us to be judge and jury and enforcer determining what is legally compliant and not. I think that is a bad idea.

“The challenge is how to define where the violation has been or not,” he said.

By contrast, Schrage praised the approach of the European Union in demanding that internet companies adhere to a code of conduct and respond quickly to requests to take down illegal content rather than being required to make those decisions themselves.

“That’s an example of how we can work with governments to be more responsive to their concerns,” Schrage said of the EU.

The EU has put internet companies on notice that it will legislate if they don’t do a better job self-policing their services for extremist propaganda, hate speech and other abuses. (reut.rs/2DmXGeU)

NO WILD WEST

Far from being a “Wild West of content”, Schrage argued, Facebook’s policies on policing content are far more in line with Europe’s strict boundaries governing hate speech than the anything-goes reputation it has coming from Silicon Valley.

“We are often criticised for being an American company. But our policies with respect to speech and expression are much closer to how the standards have evolved in Europe than they are in the United States,” Schrage said.

“We do not permit hate speech, we do not permit incitement. There is a tremendous amount of content we remove regularly. When we see content related to terrorism, to hate speech, to incitement, we reach out to law enforcement,” he said.

But several tech leaders in the audience said Facebook had long ignored what are effectively editorial responsibilities for policing abusive content on its platform.

Schrage said Facebook now employed thousands of people to monitor content and to work more closely with law enforcement, while automated algorithms detect and delete 99 percent of Islamic State and al Qaeda content before any Facebook users ever see it.

Paul-Bernhard Kallen, chief executive of Hubert Burda Media, one of Germany’s largest publishers, said Facebook has avoided responsibility for moderating content on its platform.

“From my perspective, Facebook is a media company. One way or the other, Facebook should accept it,” Kallen said of taking more control over content or facing regulatory demands to do so.

Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg is meeting policymakers in Paris and Brussels, while Schrage is touring Germany. Later this week they will converge on Davos, the annual policy gathering of world politicians, business chiefs, bankers and celebrities taking place in the Swiss Alps.

Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, who has declared earlier this year that his 2018 goal is to “fix” Facebook, is staying home (reut.rs/2F2w8g6).

Reporting by Eric Auchard and Douglas Busvine in Munich; Editing by Adrian Croft

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How to Use YouTube to Reach More People and Make More Money in 2018
December 28, 2017 6:00 pm|Comments (0)

In 2018, the importance of being found online is key. It’s how most people search for, well, anything. That’s step one. After you’re found, you want to hold the attention of your potential customer or client. With everything online today, that’s not easy.

It’s no secret online video is engaging and growing in popularity. That’s the reason more and more people are turning to YouTube to spread their message – whatever it may be. According to FortuneLords.com, almost 5 billion videos are watched on Youtube every single day.

Some people see YouTube as a social media platform where you can watch silly cat videos. Others are using it to reach more people, grow their brands and businesses, and increase revenue.

Focus on SEO

Yes, YouTube is a search engine, just like Google. It’s owned by Google, so the strategies are the same.

“If you can get the video to rank in Google, then a lot of the searches that are being performed on YouTube will click on your video in the results. Then, YouTube will judge your video based on how people interact with it. User engagement is the most important YouTube ranking signal, said Christoph Seitz, the CEO of CFR Rinkens.

Time your video

When you’re creating your video, try to make it at least five minutes long.

“Similar to text-based articles, longer videos rank higher. They consistently outperform shorter videos on YouTube and Google, said Dan Roberge President of Maintenance Care.

Remember, the length of time people are engaged plays into how high you rank on the platform.

Team up with other YouTubers

In order to stand out by using video online, utilize a recognizable influencer whose audience aligns with your target demographic.

This is something I did with YouTuber Sunny Lenarduzzi a few months ago. Because we both share the same audience and work to help them achieve the same goal by doing different things, it was a great fit.

Many marketers believe influencer marketing helps them raise brand awareness on social media.

Use other platforms to drive people to YouTube

In 2018, many people will not want to waste time. They simply want to get the information they need that they catch on their social feed.  

“What organizations are doing to stand out is posting fun, informed content on YouTube, then distributing soundbites of that video through social media,” said Vijay Koduri, the Co-Founder of HashCut.

Koduri suggests teasing them with a five-second soundbite on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter,  or over email and drive them to your YouTube channel to see more.

Be yourself 

Michael Freeby, a model and photographer who has randomly amassed nearly half a million views on YouTube said, “Don’t try too hard. Always be yourself and stay the best representation of your brand.”

That doesn’t mean don’t create high-quality content that people will go out of their way to enjoy. You should do that, but remember your brand’s core message. Make the content less about yourself, and more about presenting something of value for your audience.

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The 1 Thing You Need to Do to Build a More Profitable E-Commerce Business
August 25, 2017 9:59 pm|Comments (0)

The business of e-commerce is booming. And considering how easy it is to build a website, starting an online business has become very competitive. Right from identifying a product with the right target audience, then analyzing its potential, and making a strategic business plan, it involves making many decisions.

A recent report on e-commerce trends revealed more about the growth of e-commerce sales, and insights into the behavior of online shoppers, including:

  • E-commerce is growing at a rate of 23 percent every year. Still, 46 percent of small businesses in America do not have a website
  • 51 percent of Americans shop online, while 49 percent prefer to shop at physical stores

  • Online orders increased 8.9 percent in the third quarter of 2016, while the average order value increased only 0.2 percent.

  • Of all online shoppers, only 23 percent are swayed by social media references.

Do you notice anything here? Although online sales are increasing, there are many people who still rely on offline shopping. And of those who do shop online, very few are influenced by social media.

So what does it take to convert your website into a highly profitable e-commerce business?

There is no denying the fact that starting an e-commerce business is easy. But scaling up, and making it more profitable than your competitors can be difficult. Here’s a multiple choice question: What do you think is needed to set up a highly profitable e-commerce store?

  • Directing more traffic to your site,

  • Improving your conversion rate,

  • Increasing customer loyalty.

An effective growth strategy actually includes all three of these. And so, that one thing you need to build a more profitable e-commerce business is an effective growth strategy. Let’s take a closer look.

Increase traffic to your website to get noticed.

In the ever-growing space of e-commerce, it can be difficult to get noticed. But there are a number of ways organic traffic techniques that can help drive traffic to your website, including:

  • Search engine optimization (SEO) – increase your ranking in search engines like Google for more visibility.

  • Social media marketing – post on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, and create YouTube tutorials to reach a wider audience.

  • Email marketing – drive traffic to your website with email newsletters to keep your subscribers informed about new products and promotions.

Another option is paid ads, which may include:

  • Buying ads on Facebook
  • Marketing with influencers
  • Advertising on Instagram

Improve the conversion rate of your website to increase sales.

If you’ve used the above two techniques effectively, your conversion rate will automatically improve. However, there are some other easy things that you need to take care of in order to increase your e-commerce conversion rate, like:

  • Make your website mobile friendly and ensuring minimal loading time.

  • Stop making assumptions about your customer’s needs. Instead use A/B testing to know what they actually need.

  • Use high quality product images to attract more and more customers to convert them.

  • Build a user-friendly interface which should include an easy checkout and navigation system.

Use customer retention tools to boost your customer loyalty.

Building a positive user experience isn’t enough. You also need to retain your customers. Acquiring new customers is always a priority for brands. And yes, it is important. But can you afford to lose your existing customer base? No, right?

So once you have customers who have shopped on your website, concentrate on retaining them. No matter how awesome your product or service is, it is your job to make sure your customers are happy and satisfied so that they continue to choose you over your competitors.

A few customer retention strategies that can work for your e-commerce business include:

  • Introduce loyalty programs and give reward points for repeated sales.

  • Offer support systems to resolve customer issues and handle their grievances.

  • Use a customer relationship management (CRM) tool to keep a track of the entire journey of your customers.

Conclusion

An effective growth strategy is key to building a more profitable e-commerce business. In addition to the three main components above, you should keep a track of your performance data to help you make improvements when needed.

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This week in apps: Instagram face filters, Medium audio stories, Google Assistant on iOS and more
August 7, 2017 3:35 pm|Comments (0)

TwitterFacebook

Reading all the news from Google I/O may have kept you too busy to keep up with this week’s app news. We’ve kept up for you.

Each week we round up the most important app news along with some of the coolest new and updated apps to help you stay in the loop with everything you need on your phone.Here’s what caught our eye this week. If you’re looking for more, make sure to check out last week’s roundup of top apps.

Google Assistant comes to iOS

Starting today, we’re bringing the #GoogleAssistant to iPhones. Whether at home or on the go, your Assistant is here to help#io17 pic.twitter.com/a6T20HwnU9

— Google (@Google) May 17, 2017 Read more…

More about Instagram, Uber, Yoga, Medium, and Facebook Messenger


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Sunday’s Best Deals: Kindle Ebooks, Backyard Sports, Egg Cooker, and More
May 25, 2017 6:00 pm|Comments (0)

Cheap Kindle ebooks, noise-cancelling Bluetooth headphones, and backyard sports equipment lead off Sunday’s best deals.

Read more…


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