Technically Speaking: Links of the Week – December 16

Each week we scour the internet to find the best stories on technology, digital living and news of note. This week features a tongue-controlled wheelchair, a bra that affects your appetite and blinking gloves for cyclists. All that and more in the return of Mozy’s Technically Speaking.

Blinkers on your hands: New gloves shed light on bicycle safety

Lighted Bicycle Gloves

A bright new idea on Kickstarter is calling for bicycle safety. The company Zackees has developed turn signal gloves that light up with LED directional arrows so cyclists can let cars in traffic know when and where they’re turning, says Amanda Kooser of CNET. The invention could also be used for skateboarders and runners, among others. The gloves can be powered by either regular or rechargeable coin cell batteries. For $69 you can get a set of gloves in classic black spandex.

The bra that keep you from eating too much

Could your bra stop you from eating too much? According to CBS News, Microsoft is working on a new bra that lets wearers know when their bodies are stressed so they can be warned not to binge-eat. Researchers say the bra monitors wearers’ heart rates, detects emotional stress and alerts wearers via their smartphones when the hunger they’re feeling probably isn’t real. And gentlemen need not worry: While the working version is designed for the female form, the company says it’s developing one for men, too.

Tongue-controlled wheelchair helps people with paralysis

Wheelchair

Thanks to a new wireless device, people with paralysis can control their wheelchairs by moving their tongues, according to Mashable. The device consists of a headset with wireless sensors and a tiny magnet. The headset measures changes in the magnetic field as wearers move their tongues, and then it sends signals to a smartphone to control the wheelchair.

The wheelchair has gone through a clinical trial in which people with paralysis of all four limbs were able to use the chair to successfully maneuver through an obstacle course.

New service blocks mobile location tracking

Is big brother watching? Not if AVG can help it. Parmy Olson of Forbes reports that the security firm AVG is launching the first location-blocking service for mobile devices. The company is adding the feature to its free PrivacyFix app for Android.

“The update to AVG’s free app … is the first of its kind to be offered by an established security company, and lets Android users block location tracking by Wi-Fi networks in retail stores or public venues, says Olson.

 

Mozy Mobile Apps for iOS and Android

 

Mozy Named One of Utah’s Best Companies to Work For – 2013

Yesterday, Mozy was honored for the 5th straight year as one of the 35 best companies to work for in the state of Utah — by Utah Business Magazine. While our headquarters is in Seattle, Washington, Mozy maintains a large office in Pleasant Grove, Utah, and also has offices in Boston, Massachusetts; Cork, Ireland; London, England; and Shanghai, China.  We’re very proud of the culture and work environment we’ve created that have lead to this award, which was won from the voting of the employees themselves vs. other companies in Utah. Here are the highlights:

Mozy’s Best Companies to Work For Video

Utah Business Magazine’s synopsis:

Mozy was founded as a tech startup in 2005; since that time, the company was acquired by EMC, a global firm with a large footprint, and has grown to nearly 200 employees in its Pleasant Grove location. Even so, the company has maintained its creative, laid-back startup culture.

“Mozy’s culture thrives on creativity and innovation. Everyone is encouraged to contribute to our products,” says an employee.

Everything from the colorful office décor to a relaxing game room to plentiful snacks are geared to keeping the creative juices flowing. Mozy hosts monthly summer activities like bowling, laser tag and private movie screenings, which “have proved to be a big success in generating employee interaction, higher morale and time away from the office to relax and have fun,” says Steve Jensen, senior manager of public relations.

Even though employees routinely show up in shorts and flip flops, they are dedicated to Mozy and their own professional growth. “I love how we have a career path for each employee and how we are encouraged to move up in the company wherever we will excel and enjoy our work the most!” says another employee.

  • Fully stocked break rooms
  • XBox, ping pong, foosball and outdoor basketball
  • Telecommuting options
  • Education reimbursement and free, onsite training opportunities

See the story here.

Battle of the Streaming Bands

If anything could qualify as the end of the debate between whether the future of digital music lies in downloads or streaming, it could be the launch of iTunes Radio. The fact that Apple–the pay-per-download giant–is placing bets on music streaming is very telling, but the September release of iTunes Radio has also opened for debate another question: Which provider will offer the best service?

“An arms race is afoot,” RCA Records President and CEO Tom Corson told Rolling Stone.

And, thus, the battle is on among music streaming companies, from the long-running Pandora to the rumored YouTube streaming service. Though the war is sure to be a lengthy one, some industry experts are weighing in on who is faring best so far and why.

Pandora

Right off the bat, Pandora’s early entrance into the music streaming game gives it 70 million advantages over the new services. With all of those active users, Pandora also has the support of long-time advertisers. Indeed, CNBC reports that Pandora runs advertisements for eight to 10 minutes per hour.

Spotify

Spotify allows users to get more hands on with their playlists than Pandora, with hand-curated collections of songs. The Huffington Post calls Spotify “more robust” than other streaming music services. In addition, it’s integration with Facebook is a unique feature that makes the music listening experience more social, even for lonely office workers.

Backing Up Celebrities

How many GBs would it take to back up some of today’s most popular musicians, performers, and other celebrities? Find out in Mozy’s infographic, “Backing Up Celebrities”.

iTunes Radio

Though comparatively late to the music streaming scene, iTunes Radio already has two big advantages over the longstanding Pandora:, according to CNET: human-curated stations and global music rights. There is also potential, states CNET, in the combination of iTunes Radio, Siri and automobiles. “iTunes Radio is a clear threat,” said BTIG analyst Richard Greenfield in the CNET article. “[Siri is] key to giving iOS an important place in the car and beyond, and making iTunes Radio a true ‘Pandora Killer.’”

YouTube Music

A YouTube music streaming service is still officially a rumor, but there is lots of buzz about it nonetheless. Forbes predicts that such a move would essentially be a rebrand–although a smart rebrand–of Google’s existing service, Google Play Music All Access.

“YouTube … is a brand that everyone knows, and most kids already use it to discover their music,” wrote Bobby Owsinski in the Forbes post. “Adding a streaming music function becomes only just a new YouTube feature, not a new service.”‘

So, music streaming services, get ready to rumble! What all this ramping up means to the consumer is that the future of music has been decided. Notably, the expansion of iTunes’ scope from digital downloads only to streaming seems to be an indication that the industry in changing gears. Almost certainly, the features of each service will evolve as both the technology and competition heats up, and the broad reach of better established brands like iTunes and YouTube will give the original names in streaming–such as Pandora and Spotify–a run for their money.

One thing is for sure: Music lovers who want more songs at their fingertips–at all times–will be sharing the victory with whichever service rises to the top.

 

MozyHome Online Backup

 

Seene Enables iPhone Users to Make 3D Photos

Welcome to Mozy’s App Profile, where we introduce new programs seeking to improve the way we live and socialize. This week, Mozy takes a look at Seene, an app that adds a whole new dimension (pun intended) to the way users take and share photos.

Seene AppPeople have long been touting 3D (a.k.a. the third dimension) as “the future of technology.” But while 3D technology has advanced dramatically—as seen in movies such as “Avatar” and “Gravity”—it’s always had an associated exclusivity and exorbitant price that was prohibitive for the masses.

But the new Seene photo app, by Obvious Engineering, is looking to extend 3D technology to all–or, at least, to all smartphone users.

“The [Seene] team shares an interest in helping people better connect with and understand the world that they see via their mobile phone,” said Obvious Engineering founder Andrew McPhee. “With Seene, we wanted to use some of the technology we have developed to evolve what it means to visually share your life with others.”

Seene captures both image and depth information as a user moves his or her phone around a subject. The app then builds up a depth map (3D model) of what the user is looking at.

“This radically changes the viewing experience because as soon as viewers move their phone even slightly, the three-dimensional surface that supports the captured image accentuates the depth of the photo,” said McPhee. “This provides a powerful impression of occlusion through depth and movement, making it feel more like you are looking at something real instead of a 2D photo.”

Seene is hardly alone in the 3D photo app arena. Other popular 3D photo apps include Jittergram, 3D Camera and Scubo. But the big difference between Seene and its competitors is that McPhee’s app utilizes non-stereoscopic 3D photo formats. Essentially, what this means is that users don’t need any special glasses or additional hardware or server processing to view 3D pictures. The result is a format that is “instantly enjoyable and inherently shareable,” according to McPhee.

The million-dollar (at least) question for McPhee is whether Seene can eventually dethrone photo-sharing giants such as Instagram and Vine.

“We wanted to test the waters and see if people were ready to share something more than static images and video frames,” said McPhee. “The public response has been a resounding yes, and we have had more than 700,000 downloads since we launched a little over a month ago.”

The next step for Seene is to fully integrate with the likes of Twitter and Facebook, as well as with email and text. For the time being, Tweets and Facebook posts feature a 2D preview of what are called “seenes.” Tumblr has fully embraced the 3D photo format, enabling users to view seenes as they were natively intended.

Integrating with Twitter and Facebook are the next logical next steps, but McPhee has a vivid plan laid out for the future.

“We’re looking to evolve people’s expectations of how they can share their life with a new medium that is enabled by the mini-super computers that we as a generation now carry around in our pockets,” said McPhee. “Merging image, shape and interactivity is a good starting point, and we think this has the potential to succeed on a mass scale.”

Competing with Instagram and Vine is a tall order, but, as McPhee noted, “The thing that is wooing users is the ability to share the world as it actually looks—not as a flat representation.”

Download Seene for free at the App Store.

 

Mozy Mobile Apps for iOS and Android

 

Closing the Deal: Mobile Tech Catches Up with the Critical Signature

Signing Document on PhoneDeals require a signature, and the signature needs to have reliable legal standing–no matter where, when or with what the deal is done–including mobile.

In the past, small and midsize businesses have been able to cover most of their bases by signing documents by fax. It has been more challenging to come up with a model that works with mobile technology, but business owners say the technology is now catching up to what their old fax machines could do. And, as buyers of the latest mobile devices equipped with fingerprint-sensitive hardware have found, the transmittable fingerprint is changing the landscape even further.

Mobile tech and closing the deal

In a recent j2 Global survey, more than 32% of 1,100 SMB leaders said they closed a deal in 2013 on their smartphone or tablet.

Beth Ann Alitt, owner of Alitt Insurance, based in San Marcos, Calif., is accustomed to faxing paperwork back and forth for signatures, but plans to also use mobile fingerprint signatures moving forward.

“As a small-business owner helping local businesses and residents obtain almost every type of insurance possible, I fax daily to process paperwork under tight deadlines,” said Alitt. “Last year, I faxed on a cruise and even at a Paul McCartney concert in London.”

Alitt is in good company. One-third of owners polled in the j2 Global survey said that the tipping point for using mobile devices is the advent of fingerprint signature features. Alitt said these features “will help me close even more deals on the go.”

In fact, about 70% of those surveyed said that digitized fingerprint signatures will help them to close more deals.

The new “office”

If the j2 survey is any indication, small-business owners need plenty of flexibility when closing deals. The j2 survey also showed that:

  • — 74% of business owners have closed a business deal at a restaurant or bar;
  • — 23% said the train or inside a car was an environment in which they’d closed a deal, thanks to their mobile devices;
  • — More that 30% sent or received a fax on a plane, or in an airport, via mobile tech;
  • — 20% sent or received a fax via a smartphone or tablet at a sporting event; and
  • — Deals have also been closed in the dentist’s office, at casinos, waiting in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles and while climbing El Capitan in Yosemite.

All of this suggests that the very notion of the office is changing.

“The mobile device is the office,” said Mike Pugh, vice president of marketing for j2 Global. “That means that deals need to get done anywhere. Same with contracts, invoices, expense reports, and any other document that keep a business moving.”

 

MozyPro Online Business Backup

 

Can You Spot Phishing Emails?

Security researchers at Fortinet recently quizzed their readers about how savvy they were when it comes to identifying phishing emails. Predictably, and depressingly, Fortinet found a large percentage couldn’t tell the tricks from the treats. (The survey was done just before Halloween.)

Phishers are getting more clever over time, and it is harder than ever to separate legitimate email from messages intended to steal your passwords, your money and your pride.

With all of the information on phishing that is available, and the warnings over the years about what to do and not to do, it’s amazing that this is still a problem. But, let’s face it: End users are not security professionals, and many of us go through our email in-boxes without much of a critical eye.

Phishing Email

In addition, phishing schemes are getting more and more sophisticated. It used to be that phishing messages were riddled with grammatical and spelling errors, or just looked wrong. Today, it’s not always easy to pick up on a message with malicious intent. Modern phishers craft their messages carefully, using realistic banner images from the target institution or language that is copied directly from real emails and Web pages.

The growing challenge in discerning email fact from fiction was reflected in the results of the Fortinet quiz, which asked readers to self-select into one of three groups:

  • -Absolute beginner
  • -Your average netizen
  • -Veteran security professional

“As expected, the veterans scored just a little bit better than everyone else, falsely identifying a phishing email just 16% of the time,” the blog reporting the results states. “Conversely, the newbies received bad marks nearly 32% of the time. The middle group marked wrong answers at an average of 21%.”

That is a lot of wrong answers (although, interestingly, one newbie scored perfectly).

Take the quiz for yourself and see how well you can spot the phony emails. But, more importantly, use this exercise as a way to talk to your users and sensitize them to the issues surrounding phishing and its dangers. Security training should be an ongoing affair, providing end users with information about new threats.

“Email is the tried-and-true medium for spammer, and to know that they are still succeeding 20% of the time is a clear call to action for all those security and IT professionals out there.” states the blog. “[Twenty percent] of your organization is at serious risk of clicking on a phishing email today. What are you going to do about it?”

 

MozyPro Online Business Backup

 

My name is Steve and I work for Mozy

Thanks for tuning back into our monthly series where you get to spend some one-on-one, quality time with some of the shining jewels in Mozy’s crown – our employees. This month we’d like you to meet Steve Jensen, Mozy’s Senior Manager of Public Relations. Steve’s responsibilities include PR in the US, analyst relations, and managing our customer reference program. Steve is one of the most genuinely nicest guys you will ever meet – he is not only genuine in his interactions with others but he is also genuine in his PR efforts for Mozy.

My name is Steve and I work for MozyI define my workspace as …
A place to stare at the screen and pound away on the keyboard while seeking inspiration from Ansel Adams and all 30 major league baseball logos staring back at me.

A device I can’t live without …
My tablet – for personal reading time and play time with my kids.
Author’s note: Steve won his tablet at a company event and has embraced all the benefits that come with owning a tablet – researching, reading, watching movies – all while on-the-go. He just makes us so proud! (single tear glistens at the corner of my eye)

When I arrive at work, I typically start off by …
Being the only person in the office (on the planet?) to read the morning hard copy newspaper.

My work routine is …
Emails, phone calls, defending baseball from attacks by the marketing team, and enjoying the interaction with journalists, analysts, customers, and great vendors.

I do/do not listen to music at work and it helps me work better because …
Usually I don’t listen to music at work. If I did I would miss out on all the zingers from Brent Bird, two cubes over.

The best advice I can give a recent college graduate looking to do what I do is …
If you don’t have a love for how news is created, and the written word in general, go into sales instead.

Outside of work, I am passionate about …
Skiing in the winter, perennial gardening in the summer, and spending time with my family year round.

My eating habits are …
Chicken burgers and burritos somehow make me feel less guilty than hamburgers.

If I could be someone for a day – I would be …
Teddy Roosevelt

The “secret sauce” that makes me who I am …
Talk is cheap. Actions speak louder than words.

SMBs Target Gen Y Buyers this Holiday Season

Holiday ShoppingWith Thanksgiving coming late in November, this year marks the shortest holiday shopping season in more than a decade. Small-business owners are moving quickly to make the most of the time they have. For many SMBs, this means tapping into the buying power of millennials.

Half of some 1,000 SMBs that Manta polled in September and October say that, with Thanksgiving falling on Nov. 28 this year (leaving only 25 days for the traditional gift-buying span), they’re adjusting their sales plans for the holidays.

Offering hope for a successful season is Gen Y, which continues to be a potent buying force. These younger shoppers–the so-called “millennials” who reached adulthood around the year 2000–represent some $1.3 trillion in consumer spending, according to the Boston Consulting Group.

By targeting millennials, SMBs are also changing the way they market and sell, according to the Manta data. Business owners say that some 30% of their millennial customer base is mobile-based, and about 20% of the owners surveyed expect an increase in mobile business as millennials complete their holiday gift lists with online purchases.

“We’re seeing the astounding effects of the continued shift to online holiday shopping — especially from mobile devices — to the small business community,” says Kristy Campbell, director of marketing at Manta. “With the changing demographics and mobile habits of millennials coming to the forefront, these trends will continue to accelerate and gain importance.”

According to Manta, it will be important for SMBs to focus their content development and brand awareness campaigns not only on mobile and social channels, but also in terms of tone and frequency.

Manta recommends creating engaging content mapped to your company’s strategic timeline. “Make the tone of your e-mails and social media posts reflective of the timeline for consumer shopping behaviors,” suggests Manta. For example, develop content and begin outreach early using phrases like, “Get ahead of the holiday rush!” Later, as you move closer to the end dates, Manta, build urgency into your subject lines, tweets and Facebook posts. For example, use subject lines including phrases such as, “There’s still time!” or It’s not too late!”

With your holiday sales on the line and precious little time to make your goals, it may pay to focus on millennials and target their habits and the channels they tend to spend the most time on.

 

MozyPro Online Backup for Business

 

New Restore Interface Is More than Just Good Looks

What do you get after research, testing, and valuable feedback from the best customers around? Good looks and improved performance! While it’s true that Mozy’s web interface has been updated and streamlined, there’s more to the changes than a new look. Performance is better than ever. You might have thought that finding and accessing your files couldn’t get easier, but leave it to Mozy to do just that.

Mozy Restore Interface

Here’s what to expect when you download a file or restore your entire backup:

  • All capabilities from the previous version have been retained, though some have new names or locations—with one exception. The important actions and links from the Dashboard Summary tab have been moved to the new Account options menu, which appears when you click or tap your user name.
  • Emergency Restore is now named Restore All Files. When you want to restore all files from any backed-up device, just select the device, and then in the Actions pane click Restore All Files. It’s that easy.
  • Download History also has a new name: Event History, which you can see by clicking Event History in the new Account options menu.
  • Notifications are now available by clicking the badge adjacent to your user name. Note that the badge appears only when new notifications are available. In addition, you can now choose to view the page in the default light theme or a new dark theme. Simply click Preferences in the new Account options menu.
  • Are you using Mozy Sync? Now you can set your start page to be either the Devices tab or the Synced tab by clicking Preferences in the new Account options menu. (By the way, if you’re not using Mozy Sync, you should be! Mozy Sync lets you access your files quickly and easily from all your devices. What could be better than that? Learn more about Mozy Sync.

We’d love to hear your experience with the new interface. Let us know what you think.

Mozy Support Department Wins a Best in Biz Award

BestinBizAwards_2013Here at Mozy we pride ourselves on having the best customer support in the industry. Yet another testament to that comes today as Mozy was named a Silver winner in the “Support Department of the Year” category in the Best in Biz Awards 2013 – “the only independent business awards program judged by members of the press and industry analysts.” (Read the official news announcement here.)

In 2013, under the direction of Mozy Director of Global Support Damien O’Halloran – who joined EMC in 1997 – a new mantra to define customer support at Mozy was introduced: make it simple, make it easy, and focus on helping customers find solutions quickly. As a result, we now better support our millions of customers through enhancements to our “knowledge base,” the Mozy “community,” and through Mozy’s personalized “My Support” feature.

As we learned from the judges: This year’s Best in Biz Awards program, focusing on companies based or operating in North America, was the most competitive in its history, with the highest number of awards submissions to date and the most distinguished judging panel yet assembled. More than 500 entries were received this year, from a wide array of public and private companies of all sizes and from a variety of industries and geographic regions in the U.S. and Canada.

Winners of Best in Biz Awards 2013 were determined by an independent panel of 51 judges from top-tier news, business and technology publications, as well as broadcast outlets and analyst firms, such as Bloomberg Businessweek, Chicago Tribune, Computerworld, Crain’s New York Business, CRN, Dallas Morning News, Entrepreneur, eWeek Channel Insider, Fast Company, Financial Times, Fortune, Inc. Magazine, Orange County Register, PC Magazine, San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, USA Today, and many others.

On behalf of everyone involved in Customer Support at Mozy, we’re excited for the good work we’re doing in helping our customers keep their data safe, and we’re excited to win this award!

For a full list of gold, silver and bronze winners in Best in Biz Awards 2013, visit: http://www.bestinbizawards.com/2013-winners.