Should we be worried?
It was only a couple of years ago when the majority of industry professionals believed that we were still decades away from seeing a computer win at a high level playing the ancient Chinese game GO, but for two straight days now AlphaGO has beaten ten time GO world champion Lee Sedol. Demis Hassabis, CEO of Googles DeepMind Technologies and developer of AlphaGO stated in his twitter feed that AlphaGO used some “creative moves”. Also on Twitter the Go master says he was stunned by some of AlphaGO’s moves. “It placed the stones in such unconventional places.”
So why GO and not Chess?
Simply, computers have been playing chess and beating masters for many years, but the game of Go long remained unbeaten at anything other than a basic level. Go is widely held as a far more complex game than chess with the possible moves reportedly numbering more than the number of atoms in the universe. Chess is an almost entirely left brain analytical game whereas GO uses both left brain analytic as well as right brain artistic and pattern recognition.
Stepping toward Singularity?
Well Billionaire Elon Musk Founder of SpacEx and co Founder of Tesla seems to think we may be. Alongside some of Silicon Valleys big hitters he has formed Open AI not to see a return on his $10 million investment but “to advance digital intelligence in the way that is most likely to benefit humanity as a whole, unconstrained by a need to generate financial return.” He believes that by opening up the field of AI to everyone they will “counteract large corporations who may gain too much power by owning super-intelligence systems devoted to profits, as well as governments which may use AI to gain power and even oppress their citizenry” There have been movies about this, you know, like Terminator; there are some scary outcomes. And we should try to make sure the outcomes are good, not bad.
We Shouldn’t be Worried. Yet.
Dr Simon Stringer, director of the Oxford Centre for Theoretical Neuroscience and Artificial Intelligence, believes that the sort of intelligence shown by the AlphaGO model is quite narrow and that if you want to solve consciousness you’re not going to solve it using the sorts of algorithms they’re using, he is however aiming to produce the first prototypical conscious systems, something very simple, somewhere between a mouse and a rat, within the next 20 – 30 years.
When doing the research for your new business name you will need to think carefully for both legal and marketing purposes.
A great name could prove to be your most powerful branding tool, so naming your business requires a lot of consideration.
What’s in a name? The modern business world has changed so much and a name is no longer the thing that just goes on a business card or name plaque. Your business name has the potential to be seen all around on the internet and of course social media. Here are a few steps to help you when thinking about the business name.
What type of name you want?
There are only a few categories of a company name:
First is the “first name and surname” or place name
Second are the made up names
Third you have evocative names from everyday objects (Orange or Apple).
The type of name you will choose should reflect your type of business. Think about the names of businesses you will be competing with and think about how your customers would feel about using your potential name to decide which type of brand you want. From here you should be able to build a shortlist.
The Companies House check
Next step for the naming process should be the Companies House website where you can check whether the names you have chosen for your company are already taken. They also have a great App for this that I have used on an iPad.
Is the Domain Name is available?
You will also need to check that you can get a website which is more or less in line with the company name. For UK companies trading largely in the UK it is still the case that a www.companyname.co.uk URL is what your customers will expect to see. You will also want to defensively register variants of the name. For a UK business it is always a good idea to get both .co.uk and .com – Search online for your shortlist of names
The last check is to make sure that when you type search terms for your business like “Morgan Butter products” that none of your competitors appear and no dodgy brands or links come up. You will also need to make sure that no products or services belonging to other people have the name you have chosen.
Its always a good idea to check the name for feedback with potential customers, friends and family to get a feeling as to whether the name is going to work.
After theses simple steps, you’re pretty much ready to go ahead and finalise your name.
As soon as you have decided, remember the domain name is as important as the company name so get these registered as quickly as possible. This is a service we offer, so if you need help please get in touch by clicking here.
Our Sci-Fi Future, Silly or Terrifying?
The future is upon us and modern technological developments are now strikingly similar to the science fiction of the past. While we aren’t living in domed cities with flying cars, we’ve got buildings that reach for the heavens, drones delivering our packages, and self-driving cars are just over the horizon. The media often likes to compare new advancements in technology to the works of like The Jetsons, Star Trek, and some 1980’s and 1990’s Cyberpunk, because in many cases the new technology is a fairly easy comparison.
Flying cars, flat panel TVs, and video phones often are compared to The Jetsons, yet all of these innovations were envisioned decades before the TV show hit the airwaves.
In 1933, H.G. Wells speculated we might have small personal aircraft in his work “The Shape of Things to Come” – and we’re not much closer to having them now than we were then. Flat panel TVs were already in development in the early 1960s (around the same time the show was on the air) but were envisioned much earlier. The concept of video telephony initially became popular in the late 1870’s and Nazi Germany developed a working system in the 1930’s.
Star Trek is another show that’s dragged out for constant comparisons, this time whenever anything vaguely resembles its holographic or replicator technology.
Where a modern 3D printer is “replicating” the shape of an item, A Star Trek replicator was recreating an item on a molecular level. Try eating a 3D printed apple! While German scientists have created a system of scanning an object and recreating it elsewhere, they’re not really “beaming it” anywhere, but are basically combing a fax machine with a 3D printer.
Cyberpunk tales are typically set in worlds where corporations control innovation, launch satellites to connect the world to spread information, and maintain private armies. That vision is much closer to our reality. There are now giant corporations that literally control how we access the Internet. We already have private citizens like Elon Musk who is a billionaire with a private space program, who also is developing new ways to harness solar power.
The point is, that perhaps it is too easy to see today’s world as our old entertainment and ignore the fact that much of what The Jetsons “predicted” was completely wrong. We (sadly) don’t ever expect to see a flying car that can fold up into a briefcase. Likewise, teleportation and warp speed likely will remain just part of the Star Trek mythos.
Perhaps when it comes to the darker side of science fiction, we should be cautious and alert about where we may be headed, and should regard it as a portent of what to avoid – not a future we should embrace.
Don’t be Scared, jump in and try Linux, the waters Lovely!
Are you scared to try Linux? You’re not alone! For people bought up who have only ever lived in a “windows” universe it can appear to be an alien concept. If you even know of its existence and many don’t, you consider it only for geeks, as it’s sure to clunky and unusable. Prepare to be amazed then, modern Linux distributions or “distros” are simple and user friendly in the main (there are hundreds of releases depending on your requirement). They configure an amazing array of hardware outside box (I’ve yet to have a piece of hardware that isn’t automatically configured) and have a vast library of programs and apps.
With that said you may ask why should I bother, Windows is what I know and works! But Linux is free and it’s easy to find versions supported with updates for a minimum 4/5 years. Windows has a long life span also you may say, well yes but with system requirements increasing and the fact you can’t transfer Windows on one computer to another you are stuck with your existing version unless you want to spend more money.
Linux evolves over time and often has an upgrade path to a more updated version and even if you stay with your existing version your applications will be updated. Unlike Windows, Linux in all its forms has a basic Kernel or core operating system and built on that is your desktop environment, which offers a different user interface and can be changed easily to suit your requirements or taste.
The ultimate benefit of Linux is the absence of all the Malware and viruses, because of the nature of Linux it is “Almost impregnable”, any major change requires the user to input a password, the software in the databases is being continually improved and check by an army of self-motivated programmers because of the open source nature of the system (as opposed to a handful of Microsoft employees).
It can be quite frightening at first coming from Windows and sitting behind layers of security but you quickly adapt and realise that as long as your browser is up to date and you at least exercise caution in the sites you visit off the mainstream you are more secure than a windows setup with the most expensive antivirus scanner, malware scanner, firewalls etc. So put it this way, if a devious person wanted to write a virus they would have to contend with different flavours of Linux, a password entry requiring the user to authorise running it and a virtual zero day threat response for the software producers who can quickly update things to negate the problem along with a virtual universal rollout!
So it’s no surprise there are no known viruses in the wild and if any were about they would have no effect on an updated system so would be harmless. Why would they bother then? Windows is much easier prey.
So give one of the popular distros a try, you can try it live by running it from the disc to have a go first, I’m sure you will be surprised! My choice would be Mint, but there is also Ubuntu or Elementar.
Hope that was useful – feel free to comment and i will be glad to answer any questions for you
The term Cloud computing is the delivery of hosted services and applications over the internet.
Cloud computing enables people and businesses to use a computer resource, such as storage or an application, without having to build and maintain computing infrastructures in house. So you won’t need to set up a server and start a coding for the next 3 months.
There are many benefits form Cloud computing, here are a few:
The provider of a cloud service or application will continue to update their system with the latest functions and facilities and provide security updates.
Do more with less
Having data and software running in the cloud, companies and end users can reduce the size of their own data centers or eliminate their data center altogether. The reduction of the numbers of servers and software can reduce IT costs without impacting businesses and their IT capabilities.
With cloud computing the costs are more flexible because companies only need to pay for what they need or use. Most cloud provider’s offer different levels of services at different sign up fees which can depend on the requirements and number of staff etc.
Cloud computing providers maintain a 99.99% uptime. Normally if you are online the service is available to use whenever and wherever. Some applications work off-line and will update and synchronise when you are next connection to the internet.
Your applications and data are available to you or your employees no matter where they are in the world. Staff can take their work anywhere via smart phones and tablets or can work from a laptop. As well has Jordan IT Services I also own a graphic design business. Jordan IT Service needs an office with staff, however the design business can be run from a laptop from anywhere. So, I find myself taking my laptop everywhere with me, even on holiday.
Finally – Cloud computing security, is it safe?
Security is a major concern for any business sending data out to a cloud service. Many businesses and organizations are bound by complex obligations and government standards and have a fear of loss or theft. With more reliable data encryption and security tools available, things are slowly becoming more and more cloud based.
Here are a few things that will help you have a successful working day
A Successful Working Day – Step back and reflect:
It’s important to take a moment to look at the big picture. It’s easy to jump in head first. Look at the larger goals in order to better prioritise and Strategise
Take a few minutes to think about where your business should be going. Pursuing strategic clarity is a worthy objective. It’s hard to get somewhere if you don’t know where you’re going.
Check your to-do lists and calendars and update
It’s important that you take a quick look at your to-do list and calendar to know what’s ahead. Missing any early meetings or deadlines will cause stress and problems.
Acknowledge and plan for the tough projects
There are always difficult projects that get put aside. Address how you’re going to attack them so they don’t have them hanging over your head.
Write something that requires thought
Writing requires discipline, and research finds that willpower is at its peak early in the day. The first hour of the day can be a great time to write a well-crafted email introducing yourself to a new client, a proposal or report, marketing materials, or even an op-ed or article.
Glance at emails
You want to start the day in a proactive fashion, not a reactive fashion. However, I’m pretty sure 99 percent of us do check email pretty near the start of the day. The trick is to glance at it, and not get bogged down in stuff that doesn’t matter.
The latest headline or office drama can cause anyone to be distracted, no matter how high up the chain you are. Focused professionals inherently know when they’re taking themselves off-track.
It’s better to put meetings at low energy times which is mid-afternoon for many people, and do projects that require focus at high-energy times when you feel most motivated to tackle them.
This one is difficult for most people, but successful individuals understand the importance of creating a few minutes of peace before jumping in. Taking a moment to stretch and breathe will help you make better decisions during this chaotic time of day.
Success is indeed a mindset. If you’re mindful of what it takes to succeed you’ll likely revisit these priorities throughout the day and stay on task.
Website Design History of 20 Years (1998 – 2018)
My name is Andrew Jordan and I have been a full time self employed website designer and developer for over 20 years. As a pioneer on website design in the UK, I though it would be a nice idea to put a brief history of the website design industry together as an educational post for those who maybe interested in the way were and to show how things have changed.
The early days of website design were very different from today’s one click installs and WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) installations and systems. There was nothing simple, very little guidance and just getting your files uploaded via FTP using a dial up modem was challenging enough itself.
In 1998 only 17.5% of the UK had access to the internet, most of the general public had never heard of the World Wide Web. So there was not a lot of companies seeking a website or willing to invest. The concept of buying something online had not arrived.
A lot of the early websites were built in Frames. This seem to offer a simple solution when using software like Microsoft’s FrontPage, which at the time was very popular. The frames page layout concept offered easy page layout with a holding page and the section pages being embedded into it. However this caused issues with search engine optimisation, because the content pages could be indexed without the frame holding index page. So a footer would be loaded without the rest of the site. A simple bit of code did correct this issue, but the index was then the only page that could be indexed and had no content other than the code for the framed pages.
With the then limited use of HTML, the birth of Flash animated websites soon became popular, where the entire site was in flash. The original idea of using flash was to gain moment and high end graphics and unrestricted layout that you could not gain from using the then clunky HTML. However a flash website may look great with an attractive intro and a nice moment on the menu, the massive disadvantage was that there was no page content for search engine optimisation. There would only be one page (index) and one graphic file inserted. So a beautiful website that would cost a lot of money due the the labour intensive work involved with the flash creation, however no one will ever see it. With the birth of smart phones round the corner, Apple and Adobe dropped flash because of file sizes and security issues.
Macromedia / Adobe Dreamweaver
In 2005 using adobe Dreamweaver seemed to be the benchmark of website design and development. It was full of useful tools like code cleaners, a link checker and offered easy management of content like library items and files. You could also run the software on 2 screens to make access to tool menus and previewing changes easier. I still using Dreamweaver today for various bits of coding when needed and run our own Magpie Image intranet with it.
WordPress & Database Driven Sites
With WordPress becoming the number one system in 2010 it was easy to see why with its built in Mobile Responsive CSS, general coding and HTML became a thing of the past. A lot of hosting packages offer WordPress, Joomla & Magenta to name a few, as a one click install, which includes the SQL server database part as well. In the modern WordPress system there is very little to do with a lot of the themes including great layouts and home page functions. The latest plugins also bring massive features to the site visitors and are no more than a single click install with a few tick box selection and options.
It will be interested to see where the industry goes next. I think most changes will now depend on advancements in technologies, media and trends.
I hope you found that was interesting / Andrew Jordan
According to a report published today by the Parliamentary group “The Science and Technology Committee” there is still a huge number of UK residents without computer skills and this digital skills gap is costing the UK economy £63 billion a year in lost GDP.
12.6 million adults in the UK lack basic digital skills; 5.8 million people have never used the internet; only 35% of computer teachers in schools have a relevant degree and 30% of the required number of computer science teachers have not been recruited; and 13% of computer graduates are still unemployed 6 months after leaving university.
Science and Technology Committee Chair, Nicola Blackwood MP said:
“The UK leads Europe on tech, but we need to take concerted action to avoid falling behind. We need to make sure tomorrow’s workforce is leaving school or university with the digital skills that employers need”
The report also calls on the government to put “digital skills at the heart of modern apprenticeships”
Where to Learn?
If you feel that your own skills are somewhat lacking or that you are falling behind the times where should you go? Most local authorities publish computer courses and there are numerous types of online tuition available. The BBC for example has a whole section on its website devoted to upgrading the computer literacy of the nation. The National Careers Service too has lists of relevant courses.
Five Things To Do Before Writing Your Business Plan
Starting a new business comes with hurdles; being prepared for those hurdles—and trying to get ahead of them—can decrease the impact they have on your business. An important step in preparing for the challenges that your start-up might face is writing a solid business plan. What goes into a business plan is easy enough to figure out, but there are more abstract things to consider before you write it out.
Determine your Purpose
Making a profit is important, but it’s hardly the only thing that matters when you start a business, experts say. “Business plans … encourage entrepreneurs to focus on what they are going to do,” said Alan Williams, co-author of The 31 Practices. “This overlooks two more important questions: ‘why’ – why it exists and why employees would want to get out of bed in the morning, and ‘how’ – the values of the business, what it stands for, how people representing the business will behave.” Williams noted that entrepreneurs should take time to identify and articulate the business’ core values, which will serve as your organization’s compass for all decision-making.
Build your Vision
Experts say the key to success is having a clear vision of what you want to accomplish as a company. Before you write a business plan, you should come up with three to five key strategies that will enable you to achieve that vision, advised Evan Singer, CEO of SmartBiz. “Sometimes, less is more,” Singer said. “It’s far better to do three things very well versus 10 things not so well.” Tied in with building the vision for your business is also putting together a mission statement. The mission is the “why” you’re doing what you do From there, it is an easy transition to develop your “value proposition” statement that defines what makes you unique in the marketplace.
Clarify your Business Model
A good financial model should include many of the details you would put in your formal business plan – for example, hiring, pricing, sales, cost of acquisition, expenses and growth. As with a business plan, your model should be revisited and updated as the realities of your business start to unfold.
Identify your Target Market
This can be a tricky obstacle to get through. To help narrow down your market, Grant Leboff, CEO of Sticky Marketing Club, suggests you answer the question, “Why am I uniquely placed to solve the problem?” “If you are unable to answer the question, you either have the wrong target market of the wrong offering,” Leboff blogged. “In this case, more work will need to be done before you start targeting your potential customers.” If what you offer isn’t the most attractive option to the type of client you want, you might need to change you’re offering or define your target market differently.
Test your Business Idea
Go out and talk to industry experts, potential customers in your target market and ask for some honest feedback. What do they think about your business idea? Who, specifically, are you targeting with your business? How big is the market? Will your market buy what you are selling? Who is your competition? The act of writing a business plan will not make your organization successful, but it does give you a map to get there. The forethought put into the plan identifies the milestones with which you can mark your progress.
So you have your business idea. Your products and services are desperately straining at the leash waiting to get out there and make you some money. You have done your research and you know that there is a gap in the market wide enough for your business to succeed. But you need some capital. Where do you go?
The Good Old Bank Loan
Well the standard route for entrepreneurs wanting to launch a new venture would be to talk to the bank. All of the main banks and financial institutions offer start-up loans for new businesses and comparison sites such as Money Supermarket can give you an indication of rates.
More often these days however start-ups are looking to Alternative Finance to get their ideas off the ground. You may choose peer to peer methods from companies like Ratesetter, Zopa, Funding Circle, ThinCats, LendInvest and MarketInvest all explained nicely on Befuddled .
Or if you are ready for some close public scrutiny you may choose to put your idea up as a crowdfunding opportunity. If you are looking to invest in a crowdfunding opportunity then check out MoneyWeek’s funding centre comparison tool which will help you to navigate the many opportunities out there.
If you are looking for capital in order to fund a website for your business then talk to us at Magpie Image Ltd about our payment options and monthly subscriptions. You may just find that you don’t need quite as much start up capital as you first thought!