October 16, 2018 brianradio2016

Bob Rock is one of the most successful producers in rock history. Run down some of the benchmarks on his resume and your jaw will drop (Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet, Aerosmith’s Permanent Vacation, Motley Crue’s Dr. Feelgood, The Cult’s Sonic Temple and of course Metallica’s black album). But before all that he and musical partner Paul Hyde were young punks in Vancouver, British Columbia fronting the excellent new wave band The Payola$. Perhaps best known for the classic tune “Eyes of a Stranger” from the Valley Girl soundtrack, the band went through a few changes in names and styles chasing that elusive mass audience. Sadly, it never quite happened outside of their native Canada. While this is happening, Bob starts working at what becomes a prominent studio in BC where hits from Loverboy and Honeymoon Suite attract bigger and bigger clientele allowing Bob to define the sound of rock music in the 80s and 90s. Here Bob and I discuss the history of the Payola$, his love of all kinds of music, working with Mick Ronson, and he shares stories from his production career. Enjoy! 

October 16, 2018 brianradio2016

Whenever I sit down to write an article, I think about you. I’ve talked to many of you over the years, so I feel like I actually know some of you. And while I don’t know your individual fashion style choices, political affiliations, or favorite foods, there’s one thing I know about each and every one of you: You’ve all made tech purchase and upgrade decisions.

Sometimes, the decisions are easy and inexpensive. Maybe you want to buy a case for your phone, a spare memory card, or some cables. But other decisions are huge. Is it time to buy a new computer? Is it time to upgrade the data center? Is it time to trade in a smartphone? Is it time to move to the cloud?

All these decisions are driven by a wide range of factors. For the expensive decisions, it’s usually best to build a complete understanding of the factors involved in driving such a decision.

Most decision factors can be broken down into six main categories: Emotion, productivity, evolution, money, competitiveness, and health and safety. I’m going to present you with 23 reasons that fit within these six categories.

Making the argument for spending approval

The next time you’re looking at a really big tech spend, consider how many of these 23 reasons apply to your purchase decision. Doing so may help you better understand how to make a choice.

In addition, if you’ve thought through these reasons, you may also make a better case to anyone else who’s involved in the purchase decision — whether that’s a family member or a board of directors.

When you’re asked why you need something, you can cite the individual reasons and make a far more credible case. For example, if you need to upgrade your work computer, telling your boss your old one sucks may not get you far.

Also: How to run your business from your smartphone TechRepublic

But now think about pitching it this way: It will make you more productive (Reason 4), substantially reduce errors (Reason 5), old hardware is no longer supported by updates (Reason 7), you have a hand-me-down plan for your current machine (Reason 15), and it will give you a competitive advantage you didn’t otherwise have (Reason 17). Can you see how much more compelling that is when you’re trying to convince your management to give you money for an upgrade?

One quick housekeeping note: Throughout this article, I use “it” as a bit of shorthand in my list reasons. When I use “it,” what I mean is the “the item you’re thinking about upgrading or buying.”

And, with that, let’s kick things off with the topic of emotion.

Emotion

In his landmark book on the psychology of shopping, Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping, Paco Underhill explained, “If we went into stores only when we needed to buy something, and if once there we bought only what we needed, the economy would collapse.” He said that more than 60 percent of what people buy when they shop are impulse items, or items that were not on their shopping list.

Also: The best business laptops of 2018 TechRepublic

There’s no doubt emotion drives some of our tech purchasing decisions. That’s why we lead off our list with two powerful, if somewhat opposing, emotional forces: Want and dislike.

Reason 1: You just really, really want it.

Let’s face it. We all make decisions based on emotions. I may have said I wanted my muscle car because it’s more comfortable or fits my body better, but the main fact was, I just wanted it. We’ve talked about so-called “gadget lust” before. It’s real and does drive sales.

Reason 2: It will remove an annoyance.

How many of us find some factor of the technology we use every day annoying? One term for the constant annoyances we live with is “tolerations.” Tolerations cause stress and sap productivity. Eliminating or reducing tolerations not only helps you get more done, it frees up thinking cycles previously allocated to thoughts of frustration.

PRODUCTIVITY

We’re all faced with the challenge of getting more done in less time than ever before. While increasing productivity is ostensibly about getting more done using less time or fewer resources, the bottom line is simple: If we can get more done in less time, we might get more time with our families, and maybe even get a full night’s sleep.

Reason 3: It will clearly save you time or make you more productive.

My primary computer is a Mac for one main reason: Ir saves me days doing video editing. Final Cut Pro X is just vastly more reliable that Adobe Premiere. Because of that, even though Macs are more expensive and offered in far less variety, I buy them anyway. If I can save three or four days a week based on a single purchase decision, that’s huge.

Reason 4: Substantial increase in ease of use.

We geeks tend to glory in complexity. But the fact is, we only have 24 hours in a day, and ease of use can be a big win. Ease of use is even more important when you’re trying to get others to adopt a technology. If they can pick it up quickly and easily, and then enjoy using it, you’ll have a lot more buy-in than if you have to push people to use tools they don’t like.

Also: Best Hard Drives and Storage Devices for 2018 CNET

Reason 5: It can help you substantially reduce errors or mistakes.

I recently wrote about a measuring tool and a floor planning tool I really like. While the tools made moving easier, what they really did was help me precisely explain the work I needed done to very expensive construction contractors. By having accurate floor plans and measurements, I saved a ton in billable hours and a lot less work had to be redone.

Reason 6: It allows you to do something effectively that you otherwise couldn’t do.

One of the reasons I’ve been so interested in desktop fabrication and 3D printing is the doors these technologies open. Having a 3D printer has enabled me design and build tools, brackets, and solutions that I otherwise would never have been able to make — and, in many cases, weren’t available to buy.

EVOLUTION

Technology changes. In fact, one of the big debates going on right now is whether Windows should update as often as Microsoft seems to want. Managing technology change can be tough. Updates break things. And yet, to protect ourselves from ongoing threats and to remain compatible, updates are constantly issued by nearly all vendors.

Beyond just updates, each new technological innovation is built upon previous innovations. It’s this evolutionary force that often drives our upgrade plans. Let’s look at some of the specific reasons evolution factors into buying decisions.

Reason 7: Old hardware is no longer supported by updates.

We see this every year. This year, iOS 12 obsoletes iPhones from the iPhone 5 and back. That means not only won’t updates run on those machines, but also security flaws won’t get fixed and newer apps won’t run. As technology marches on, sometimes we must discard our old gear simply to keep up.

Also: Why iPhone and Android phone prices will get even higher CNET

Reason 8: Something critical to your daily use won’t work on old hardware anymore.

This is similar to the previous reason, but is more focused on what you do with your gear. One day, Chrome dropped support for the OS version running on my studio computer. I tried to log into a live webcast, only to find out I couldn’t run the browser I needed. I used another machine to get through that situation, but suddenly, an upgrade became essential.

Reason 9: The stuff you were using is suddenly too slow.

Speaking of that studio computer, it used to run my live video broadcast software smoothly. But over the years, as OS upgrades and software upgrades got more complex, that once spry machine was no longer able to shoulder the load. I was doing the same stuff, but the hardware couldn’t handle it. A new machine was needed.

MONEY

Money decisions are usually about either saving or making money. Upgrades to reduce overall cost make a lot of sense. But upgrades that change the cost structure or open up new opportunities to make money are also powerful drivers. It really is all about the Benjamins.

Reason 10: Substantial reduction in operating cost.

There was a time that data centers had one server running on one physical box. The power, cooling, and footprint impact was enormous. So when virtualization (and then containers) became practical, many IT operations bought new boxes that could do the work of seven or eight of the older boxes.

Reason 11: Move from CAPEX (capital expense) to OPEX (operating expense).

Of course, beyond server consolidation, there’s the cloud. Instead of paying for physical machines with large payouts and difficult depreciation challenges, IT operations can buy resources as they’re needed. Not only has this practice made organizations more responsive and more scalable, it’s made their accountants happier, because it changes how costs are charged to the bottom line.

Reason 12: You have budget dollars to spend.

Use it or lose it. I’ve never been a proponent of the budgeting practice that all but forces departments to spend out their budgets, but some organizations do work that way. If you’ve got budget dollars that will evaporate at the end of a quarter or a fiscal year, jumping on a needed upgrade might just make sense.

Also: The first Android phone was an ugly thing, and I loved it CNET

Reason 13: It provides you an education or career growth benefit.

I’m putting this in the money category, because education and career growth almost always result in a benefit to your personal bottom line. Sometimes, it makes sense to make a purchase because it gives you the opportunity to learn more about something, and doing so can help your career.

If you can find a way to tie your own personal gadget lust (see Reason 1) to career growth, this reason can also help you sell your purchase to your spouse, parent, or manager.

Reason 14: A feature you really need/want makes the cost worthwhile.

Your upgrade interest may not be about the entire device you’re purchasing. It just might be a key feature you need. For example, while I do want more speed on my main desktop computer, the primary reason I’m upgrading is because I want an ultra-wide screen (and that’s a productivity benefit, Reason 3), and my current graphics card won’t support it.

Reason 15: You have a hand-me-down plan for existing tech.

Taking perfectly good tech out of service just because you want or need a new feature can be expensive. But if you can find a way to recycle the older machine, it might justify the cost.

When I make personal tech upgrade decisions, I often combine Reason 14 and Reason 15 together. I’ll give you two examples. Our living room TCL Roku-based TV is perfectly fine, but I’d like more than three HDMI ports (yes, I can use an HDMI switcher, but that’s yet more cables).

Also: 17 ways to recycle or sell your smartphone TechRepublic

I like how Roku TVs switch inputs (and it’s intuitive to family members). If TCL came out with an identical TV with four or five ports, I’d buy it. My justification is I don’t have a TV in the office, so if we upgraded the living room TV, we wouldn’t be wasting money. We’d be adding functionality in two places.

The Apple Watch is another example. I have a perfectly good Apple Watch Series 2. For my productivity and filming use, my current Watch does all I need. But the EKG and health features of the Series 4 are attractive.

I couldn’t justify just dumping my Series 2 (which has minimal resale value now), but since my wife wants to try out the Apple Watch instead of her Fitbit, the upgrade for one feature (Reason 14) and the hand-me-down (Reason 15) are justification to spend on the upgrade. But not until the EKG feature is actually available.

COMPETITIVENESS

Competitiveness is one of those words that often winds up being nothing more than corporate-speak. But the concept is too powerful to ignore. Competitiveness is about how strong a business is in comparison to others in its market. For individuals, competitiveness is how strong you are as a professional, and how appealing, in-demand, and monetizable your total offering is in the field you work in.

Now, when it comes to making upgrade decisions, a key factor is whether or not that upgrade will give you a competitive advantage. Here’s a bit of a dive into four of those reasons.

Reason 16: It’s important for your look or the impression you give.

If you’ve ever seen me on camera, you know I’m not a big fashion aficionado. But fashion is very important to some folks in certain fields. For example, if you’re a person who makes one-on-one corporate sales calls, you may feel that carrying an old-looking laptop or clearly out-of-date phone might make you or your company seem equally out-of-date. Upgrading may be essential so you don’t appear so last year.

Also: Top-notch phones: 8 phones with display cut-outs

Reason 17: It will give you a competitive advantage you didn’t otherwise have.

This is the big one in the competitiveness category. Can the technology you purchase be leveraged to help you do something others can’t? This is often why companies invest in software development, supply chains, and machinery. If you can beat the competition in terms of what you produce, the quality you produce, or even the in terms of keeping costs below what it costs others to produce, you gain a competitive advantage.

Reason 18: It reduces or eliminates a competitive disadvantage.

This is a corollary to the previous reason. If your competition is beating you on some level, then investing in technology or upgrading your systems to bring you up to par or even ahead is often so well-worth the cost, it’s almost mission critical.

Reason 19: It reduces or eliminates a fatal flaw in the current model.

Sometimes the device you’re using is just flawed. It’s either missing a key capability or is implemented in a way that’s just not working for you. In that case, it’s often time to move on.

HEALTH AND SAFETY

More devices, gadgets, and tech to consider

In a world rife with hacking attempts and data breaches, senior executives and boards have become far more willing to invest in safety and cybersecurity. Safety can range from customer safety to business continuity, and if you add in a new push for technologically-aided health systems, there are a lot of reasons for organizations and individuals to upgrade.

Reason 20: It fills in a hole in an emergency or business continuation strategy.

Last year, I boosted my investment in dynamic offsite backup. The reason? I had to run my company and do my job for three months based solely on my offsite backups, due to a hit by Hurricane Irma. Unfortunately, there were some business-critical digital assets that weren’t available online. As soon as I could, I increased my investment and made sure those assets were also dynamically available online, anywhere, anytime.

Reason 21: It keeps your tech healthy or safe.

As I moved into a new house last month, the movers commented that I have a lot of UPS battery backups. We probably have 20 or 25 of these things. They’re heavy and they’re big. But back when we were in Florida, we had power failures all the time. If gear wasn’t hooked up through a UPS, it was guaranteed to die. Given the guaranteed death of any non-protected device, it wasn’t hard to justify the purchases of protective gear.

Also: Best cheap phones: $300 (or much less) buys a great iPhone or Galaxy alternative

Reason 22: Your personal needs change.

As I’ve gotten older, my eyes have gotten worse. While I can still easily read my iPhone screen, I’ve found sitting in front of small laptop screens gets tiring after a while. I’ve found that my eyes don’t hurt as much when I use larger monitors, so I’ve upgraded or added external monitors for all my machines.

Reason 23: It keeps you personally healthy or safe.

This is the big appeal of the Apple Watch. After reading Jason Perlow’s account about how his watch (connected to a beta heart monitoring program) saved his life, it became clear that I’ll probably invest in an Apple Watch Series 4 as soon as the EKG feature becomes available.

Putting the reasons to work

There you go. The next time you need to get approval for a purchase, try making the case using these reasons. If it worked for you, let us know how things turned out in the comments below.

Disclosure: Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping is published by Simon & Schuster. Both ZDNet and Simon & Schuster are owned by CBS.


You can follow my day-to-day project updates on social media. Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @DavidGewirtz, on Facebook at Facebook.com/DavidGewirtz, on Instagram at Instagram.com/DavidGewirtz, and on YouTube at YouTube.com/DavidGewirtzTV.

Previous and related coverage:

Best ultraportable laptops for business 2018

Ultraportable laptops are the mobile professional’s friend, but which size and model should you buy? We explore the options and list some of the best.

Want a new iPhone or Android smartphone? Here’s how to sell or trade

The new Samsung Galaxy Note 9 was just announced and we expect three new iPhones and two Google Pixel phones to launch soon. Now is the time to consider selling your current one before market prices drop or plan to participate in a trade-in program.

10 best smartphones of 2018

he major smartphone launch season is upon us and one of the first out of the gates is the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, immediately taking over the top spot in our list of best smartphones.

Best Wearable Tech for 2018 CNET

Our editors hand-picked these products based on our tests and reviews. If you use our links to buy, we may get a commission.

The best tablets for 2018: Our top picks TechRepublic

Tablet sales may be declining, but there are still plenty of viable use cases and many models to choose from. Here’s our pick of the best.

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October 16, 2018 brianradio2016

Google will aim Google Plus solely at enterprise users as it shuts down consumer access to its ailing social network over the next few months. 

Google announced plans to discontinue Google Plus last week, following reports of a security flaw that exposed user data to third-party developers. The bug was discovered and patched by the company in March as part of an internal audit of privacy controls, dubbed Project Strobe. But the breach was not made public until recently. 

Google launched ‘Plus’ in 2011 as a competitor to Facebook, but failed to gain significant traction in trying to displace its rival. Despite having 395 million monthly active users, actual time spent with Plus remains low; Google said that 90% of user sessions last less than five seconds.

Consumer access to Google Plus is slated to end in August 2019. 

Even so, Google said that it remains committed to supporting the platform for G Suite subscribers, Google’s cloud productivity suite for business customers. (This is not the first time Google has canned a struggling consumer product that it continued selling to businesses: Google Glass saw a similar fate.)

“[W]e have many enterprise customers who are finding great value in using Google Plus within their companies,” said Ben Smith, Google Fellow and vice president of Engineering, in a company blog post. “Our review showed that Google Plus is better suited as an enterprise product where co-workers can engage in internal discussions on a secure corporate social network.”

October 16, 2018 brianradio2016

Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, died Monday in Seattle from complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, his family said in a statement.

Allen, 65, started Microsoft with Bill Gates in 1975, and was first diagnosed with the cancer in 1982. He stepped away from the company in March 1983, just months before doctors said his treatment had beaten the illness. The disease recently returned after years in remission.

Although Allen co-founded Microsoft with Gates – the two met at a Seattle, Wash. private school – he left before many of the firm’s signature moves, including Windows (1985) and Word (October 1983), debuted. But he was instrumental in the foundational rounds of the company’s pioneering software strategy, such as Microsoft BASIC and MS-DOS.

His importance to the company was evidenced by the accolades expressed by Microsoft’s three chief executives after his death was announced.

“From our early days together at Lakeside School, through our partnership in the creation of Microsoft, to some of our joint philanthropic projects over the years, Paul was a true partner and dear friend,” Gates said in a statement. “Personal computing would not have existed without him.”

“Paul was a truly wonderful, bright and inspiring person. His insights were critical to the creation and success of Microsoft – and therefore to the success of personal computing worldwide,” Steve Ballmer, Gates’ successor as CEO, said in a statement of his own.

October 16, 2018 brianradio2016

Siri Shortcuts, your Apple Watch, and various sensors and biometrics mean the wearable device will become critical to your identity, at work, at home, and at play.

The ‘most personal device ever’

Apple has described the Apple Watch as its “most personal device ever.” That’s not just because it sits against your skin and you can purchase snazzy new watchbands for it; it’s also because its sensors assess all sorts of personal data about you:

  • How you sleep
  • How you walk
  • Where you go
  • How healthy you are
  • The state of your heart
  • If you fall
  • Who you call

And more, but you get the drift. You see, more than an iPhone, Apple Watch has one purpose, which is to work with you, learn about you, share that data with your iPhone Health app (and your doctor, if you like) and to do all of this as privately as possible.

This is an intimate device. It’s as much about who you are and what you need as what others need. Think about Apple Pay, Apple Watch as ID, or even boarding a plane thanks to the air ticket in your Apple Watch Wallet and a shake of the wrist.

You and your alter-ego

Augmented you (so the theory goes) should be better than ordinary you.

The soft skills of a human augmented by machine intelligence, AI and a Benevolent Guardian (Apple Watch) angel dedicated to caring for you and for your health.

October 16, 2018 brianradio2016

Tech-support scams probably aren’t vanishing any time soon. But Microsoft’s latest survey on the scourge found some positive news: more consumers today know that tech firms like Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft won’t make unsolicited contact.

More security news

Microsoft’s 2018 global tech-support scam research found that consumers have “developed a healthy skepticism” about unsolicited contact from tech and software companies.

The scams includes calls, emails, and pop-up ads that purport to be from a well-known tech company claiming to offer a fix for malware or other tech problems.

In 2016 Microsoft’s global tech-support scam research found that 37 percent of respondents said it was likely that tech companies would contact them out of the blue to offer assistance with tech problems. Today, however, 25 percent find it likely the companies would do this.

“Unsolicited contact has become a red flag for consumers that signals a potential scam,” notes Microsoft in the report.

Microsoft says it receives 11,000 complaints per month from people who’ve fallen victim to scammers pretending to be from companies like Microsoft, Dell and Apple.

While more people across all age groups are distrustful of unsolicited contact from tech companies, nearly a third of Millennials and Gen Z youth believe unsolicited contact is normal.

Microsoft also found links between the types of activities young people do online and those who lost money. These activities included sharing email in exchange for content, downloading entertainment, and using torrent sites.

Microsoft’s 2018 research surveyed 16,048 adult internet users in 16 countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland, the UK, and USA.

Another bright spot is that there’s been a three percentage point decline in the number of respondents who report losing money after being confronted with a tech-support scam. Worldwide, the figure fell from nine percent in 2016 to six percent in 2018.

Additionally, the percentage of users who decided against interacting with the scammers rose from 32 percent in 2016 to 37 percent in 2018, meaning more people are avoiding the scam completely.

And while pop-up ads and windows remained the most common way tech-support scammers reach potential victims, pop-ups have surprisingly been on the decline. Microsoft notes that consumer use of pop-up ad-blockers may have helped here.

The US has seen a dramatic decline in the percentage of people who encountered a tech-support scam and actually lost money, which has fallen from 21 percent in 2016 to just six percent today. Those reporting losses in India also fell from 22 percent to 14 percent.

The percentage who report financial losses in other countries ranged between three and nine percent, though money losses have increased in Denmark, Germany, and the UK.

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Microsoft warns: Bogus Apple, Windows tech support sites open your phone app

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Google robocall scam: We’re suing hustlers who pretend to be us, warns Google

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Yet again, Google tricked into serving scam Amazon ads

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Windows Chrome users: Tech-support scams try new trick to freeze your browser

Get an ad-blocker if you want to dodge tech-support scammers’ latest rapid-download ruse.

Ransomware, tech-support scams or email fraud: Which cybercrimes cost victims most?

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Microsoft to Windows 7, Windows 8 users: We’re about to end forum tech support

If you have a Windows 7 or 8, Office 2013, or Surface Pro problem, you’ll have to rely on the community for answers.

Microsoft: Tech support scams rose by 24% in 2017, costing some victims thousands of dollars TechRepublic

Social engineering scams make even the best security solutions useless, Microsoft said. It wants industry-wide collaboration to solve the problem.

How to avoid tech support scams CNET

Scammers are getting craftier, according to a new report. Follow these tips to keep your money and identity safe.

October 16, 2018 brianradio2016

Bill Gates wasn’t even in his teens yet when he met Paul Allen at a school outside Seattle, and less than 10 years later, the two dropped out of college and founded Microsoft together. That long history, and their storied successes, have left Gates “heartbroken” after the death Monday of…

October 16, 2018 brianradio2016

Cloud services like Azure offer a lot of security features straight out of the box, especially if you’re using their platform services. But virtual infrastructures are much like physical infrastructures, connecting virtual machines with software-defined virtual networks. Thus, they need the same security and network management tools as your own data center and your own application infrastructures.

Two services are key to securing and managing Azure-hosted networks, focusing on different parts of the cloud journey.

  • The Azure Firewall is for your first application, for API and web-based code that’s important to your business but not critical.
  • As applications and services grow, and as businesses move more and more code from on-premises to the cloud, your needs will change and you’ll need tools to help scale your services as well as securing them. To do that, Azure Front Doorcombines security and load-balancing features, using edge services to control and direct access to globally distributed applications.

There’s no conflict between these two services. Azure Firewall gets you started, and you can use it to build out an application until traditional routing and load-balancing techniques start to fail. That’s when you add Front Door to your architecture, adding a new layer above your existing networking tools. They can stay in place as a backup to Front Door, or they can be removed once you’re happy with how Front Door operates.

Using Azure Firewall

Azure Firewall is a cloud implementation of a familiar modern firewall, one that’s ready to go as soon as you add it to your virtual network. It manages incoming and outgoing traffic to and from the public internet, as well as integrating with services like Azure VPN and ExpressRoute. This last option is perhaps one of the most important, because it helps manage your hybrid infrastructure as well, protecting traffic that links on-premises services with the cloud.

October 16, 2018 brianradio2016

Computerworld | Oct 16, 2018

The Pixel 3 (and the larger Pixel 3 XL) arrive this week, and after a few days of hands-on time with the new device, Computerworld’s Dan Rosenbaum has some thoughts. He joins Executive Editor Ken Mingis and IDGE video producer Chris Hebert to discuss Pixel line-up.