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4 Tech Strategies to Enhance Travel

The thrill minus the inconveniences – technology has redefined traveling. The collective impact of the Web, Smartphones, services backed by technology, and the Internet of things has helped people travel more frequently and with great simplicity.

A few tech strategies are essential for that perfect travel plan. Here are 4:

1.    Planning the Social Odyssey

There was a time when traveling was a standalone experience confined to personal diaries and photo albums. Travelers took a trip to their preferred destination, took pictures with their dedicated cameras, and stored memories in their hard-covered albums that they could go back to. With the rise of portable technology and mobility, today travel is accompanied with mobile phones that can snap pictures for the digital consumption later and sharing like never before. In fact, even the actual ground zero of a travel idea has been complimented by always online cab services in cities across the world. Few destinations have remained unchartered in this era of the Internet of Things.

2.    Compliment Paper Maps and Handouts with Mobile Maps and Guides

Discovery is an essential aspect of travel. With the idea of getting lost almost being redundant over the past decades with better connectivity and easier access to geographical information, it has become easier than ever for people to go out there and explore. The thrill of travel is now devoid of the worries one would associate with it. Google Maps, Foursquare, and several other such services have live location tracking, navigation, check-ins, and even user reviews that serve as an overview for the itinerary.

3.    Get a Prior Idea about the Internet and Mobile Network Status at Your Destination

Modern day living is defined by two aspects – the real life and the virtual life. A hiccup in the internet connection can leave any end user under the radar, where the thrill of exploration takes one down the road of discovery. Before you begin however, take a look at the network coverage or ask your peers – an initial idea about when you might have no access to the internet can help plan your fallback strategy when you lose connection.

4.    Get a Sense of the Wanderlust from Online Communities

There are several online communities on the internet that are dedicated to sharing their own experiences. In fact, several established travel bloggers share their own experiences over a period of time so that potential travelers can get the vibes of the experiences in store for them and what to expect. Whether the emphasis is on a campervan hire for that nomadic feel of a home away from home, or the travel and stay services at the most prominent location, there is user feedback readily available out there on the internet. Dedicated Groups and Pages on Facebook, and hashtags and hyperlocal tagging on Twitter and Instagram are other two resources that have added to this experience.

Planning is essential, and this is only the beginning of an itinerary. Technology has only recently started seeping into our lives, after all.

The Rise of Automation in the Manufacturing Industry

The turnover of the global logistics industry was estimated at USD 4 trillion in 2016, accounting for more than 5 percent of global GDP. It naturally follows that any disruption in that industry will have a profound impact on the global economy. It therefore becomes imperative for the industry, consumers and governments across the world to be prepared for the disruptions that technology is going to cause in the next few years.

The evolution of 3D printing is expected to result in decentralisation of manufacturing, with production units likely to move closer to the end market. That means the current scenario of finished products being mass produced and then shipped to users across the world will give way to one where the role of the logistics industry will be increasingly that of last mile delivery.

That naturally means that the existing operating models involving asset-heavy companies will give way to Uber-like sharing models, where the service provider might only be a facilitator acting in partnership with several collaborators. It is probable that startups will play a major rule in facilitating the last mile delivery, which remains a daunting challenge for the industry.

Increased automation will result in further time saving in the future. As it is, technology has evolved to a point where weighbridges and truck scales can capture data even while the vehicle in in motion. Drones provide a viable alternative for last mile delivery of goods. That however, is but the beginning. It is likely that fleets will become semi to fully autonomous in the years to come. Rolls Royce, for instance, recently demonstrated an unmanned commercial vessel that can be controlled remotely.

One possible obstacle coming in the way of greater automation is the regulatory environment. For instance, laws in most countries do not allow (or even envisage) unmanned vehicles. While the necessary technology is rapidly emerging, a critical mass- in terms of the number of countries adopting it- will be a prerequisite for commercial viability.

There are no such worries with respect to another aspect of the logistics industry that is expected to undergo a dramatic transformation: operational control. The Internet of Things (IoT) is currently used primarily for tracking of consignments, however the scope of its applications will expand to hitherto unchartered territory. For instance, IoT can be used for real-time monitoring of the condition of equipment, allowing preventive maintenance, instead of loss of time and money due to machine breakdown.

Another area where technology is expected to cause a paradigm shift in the industry is the use of big data. Experts believe that the logistics industry could make a transition to a data driven industry, where information will assume nearly as much importance as the ability to move the goods. Predictive models driven by big data can help companies predict demand and plan the movement of goods even before the order is actually placed.

There is no doubt about the fact that the above changes will eventually come to pass. The onward progress of technology is inescapable. It is incumbent on the industry and policymakers to contain the socio-economic repercussions of technological disruptions.

The Tech Taking the Hassle out of Air Travel

Last year around 3.8 billion people took to the skies for business or pleasure, and that number is expected to double over the next few years. Improvements in technology and a desire to innovate have seen airports and airlines around the world begin to embrace the exciting changes in travel and start using technology to send passengers personalized information about flights, reservations or other travel arrangements, right when we need them the most.

From a customer’s perspective, mobile apps are the most visible evidence of this technological shift. Airports, airlines, hotels, and even cities have turned to mobile apps to provide solutions and improve the customer experience. It goes further than the ability to carry around travel documents, or access a translator or currency converter from the one device. For every problem a traveller might face abroad, there’s an app to help them solve it. Arrived at the airport and want to know where to find the nearest toilet or gift store? There’s an app that will point you in the right direction. Having trouble understanding the signs or menus in a foreign language? There’s an app that will translate them for you. The app offered by the Marriott chain of hotels allows guests to request toiletries and towels as well as check out, directly from their smartphone. Some airlines are even using RFID baggage tags on luggage and using apps to let passengers keep track of their bags.

But behind the scenes technology is improving the systems and thinning out the queues and cutting out the hassle of getting from check-in to the gate.

E-Visas and integrated management systems have completely redefined the travel and tourism industry, making visas easier for travellers to obtain and for government officials to track. The process to obtain a Malaysia tourist visa or Vietnamese tourist visa is about as much effort as ordering a pizza online. But visas aren’t the only documents going electronic, passports could also become a thing of the past. Australia started trialling the use of cloud passports back in 2015, with New Zealand also following suit.

Biometrics have also begun to make the dream of paperless airports into a reality. Earlier this year SITA began work with JetBlue and US Customs and Border Protection to test a paperless and deviceless self-boarding process. Passengers who opt in simply pause for a quick photo, and biometrics and facial recognition technology do the rest. The trial at Boston Logan Airport in Massachusetts is proving to be hugely successful. But biometrics isn’t just streamlining our trip to the airport. Airlines, hotel companies, car rental agencies, restaurant chains, these are just a few of the service providers that are now experimenting with biometrics to see how they can cater to the individual traveller.

These innovations are just the beginning. Thanks to the wide variety of travel technology emerging, the airport of the future is set to be a less stressful and more efficient place, and we can all expect a smoother journey from now on.

Why UWA student businesses should self-audit

For the majority of small business owners, the term ‘internal’ or ‘self’ audit is hardly an inspiring one. When we think of audits, we tend to think of something only huge corporations do, something associated with accountants or comparing different quotes from auditing companies on review sites (ConsumerReports.com, Bestiews.com, etc). But the truth is, performing an audit yourself doesn’t need to be complicated or intimidating, and they’re a remarkably helpful tool for companies of any size, even small businesses.

Contrary to widespread belief, an internal audit can be performed quite easily, and without any exorbitant costs. Plus, when it’s over you’ll have a clearer understanding of the way your business operates. If you’ve been recording a loss, an internal audit can help identify problems hurting your bottom line or profit margins. But even if business has been booming, at the very least it’s going to alert you to any red flags that might trigger an official audit.

You don’t need to hire someone, or outsource the task; It’s as simple as sitting down with employees and collecting all the relevant information. Then once you have the data, create a timeline. Map every important event that took place in each department – meetings, key e-mails, proposal deliveries, new contracts, even your online presence! When you’re looking at auditing, you shouldn’t leave anything out. Make sure you’re recording everything that is relevant to the business.

One of the most important things you can do is keep written reports. Ensure they outline not just key issues, but also the plan for dealing with them. This information can be a huge help when it comes to determining what is working for your business and what isn’t. The entire point of an internal audit is to acknowledge problems, and correct them.

I was once assigned to audit a Dutch verhuislift huren (Dutch for “rent-a-lift” company) where the environment for businesses is highly regulated. Because Dutch Law requires companies of all sizes to perform an annual audit, the company had spent time before I arrived on the scene, preparing their own reports, balance sheets and information about employee numbers and turnover. The resulting audit was a breeze thanks to the internal work they had already done.

An audit can be tedious, especially if you haven’t been keeping accurate records. E-mail communications, proposal revisions, social media initiatives, charity donations, pricing changes, contracts… there are very few documents that you won’t want to keep some record of. If record-keeping hasn’t been your forte, then there is legitimate value to be found in going through the exercise of an internal audit to help you get your information management processes up to scratch.

When you take on the task of performing a self-audit, your main priorities should be establishing an understanding of day to day processes and methods in the business, and recommending improvements to be implemented. But when is the right time? Trick question! There is never a wrong time! Auditing internally is one of the best ways to help your business succeed and grow!

Futurelove: A new orientation emerges

The mannequins and dolls, robots that satisfy your every desire as well as virtual wives in domestic bliss with their owners may one day cause the LGBT community to add another letter to their name.

From the 2013 sci-fi movie Her where the main character falls in love with an AI (played by Scarlett Johansson) to the HBO series Westworld, where robots provide pleasure to the super rich, this fixture of popular culture and fiction has now crept into the real world.

The 21st century’s detachment and dissatisfaction with regular human contact as well as the need for more “customized” stimulation seems to have been taken to its logical conclusion.

With technology growing at breakneck speed and providing humanity with degrees of separation never known before, its probably inevitable that the landscape of love and relationships would alter as well.

To some of us, switching to relationships with man-made objects might make sense. Instead of a nagging spouse, why not a lover that doesn’t speak (or only says what it has been programmed to)?

Those that have shifted into futurelove mode may speak about it as being a higher connection on another level (something us boring hetero people just might not get).

I remember attending a world communication conference where a certain government minister spoke about getting too attached to technology and quipped that we might as well marry our smartphones if we are already looking at them before we sleep and first thing upon waking up.

Japan takes the lead

Ancient Shinto tradition views all inanimate objects as having a ‘life force’ and Japan’s traditional relationship and gender norms are changing dramatically while the Japanese population is in decline.

A Japanese company had 18 shipments of child-like sex dolls for pedophiles seized by officials when they tried to export them and Kanojotoys or Orient Industries based in Tokyo are among the world’s most advanced sex doll firms. One of many Japanese men in futurelove mode, Senji Nakajima is in love with a rubber doll named ‘Saori’ and often takes her out shopping while Physiotherapist Masayuki Ozaki claims to have become turned off by human relationships and lives with his silicone/rubber lovers under the same roof as his wife and daughter who have learnt to accept it. There are also ‘Dutch wives’, which can cost up to £6,000, beautiful dolls with movable joints and a wide range of hair colors and head types.

Aside from physical dolls, advances in AI and VR also provide many options for those interested to explore abit of futurelove. In a particularly depressing development, Gatebox (sold by Japanese company Vinclu) targets young, lonely salarymen. It is an AI home automation system that allows characters like Azuma Hikari (voiced by Japanese actress Yuka Hiyamizu) to interact with the home owner like a domestic partner ,

Then there’s the dating simulation game Golden Marriage Jewel Days which lets players fall in love and tie the knot with virtual honeys. A promotional campaign for the game gave fans life-sized cardboard standees of their favorite characters as prizes.

On 30 June 2017, the creators of Niitzuma LovelyxCation, a romance video game from developer Hibiki Works is scheduled to hold a marriage ceremony (in a chapel) where players can put on a VR headset and exchange vows with their lady of choice.

Regulation and robot babies

Catalan nanotechnology engineer Sergi Santos is even gearing up to have a baby with his AI sex doll Samantha. Today, several brothels (featuring dolls or robots), such as this one in Spain and this one in Germany, prove that the era of futurelove has arrived and is gaining ground .

NUI Galway Law professor John Danaher In his report, ‘Sex work, Technological unemployment and the Basic income guarantee’ claims that sex robot brothels are a safer alternative to an industry rife with issues of disease as well as sex slavery and thinks that robots could be better at developing emotional bonds with their clients. Experts claim that sex robot brothels will become common in Britain and research suggests the invention may lower divorce rates.

While you could chalk this shift up to just being another phenomenon of the 21st century, much like the advent of online marriage counseling, there are however, those that would argue against it. Policymakers have to face the issues brought about by this new development such as whether such devices should be used by sex offenders or whether they may in fact reduce sexual crime. There is also the issue of real sex workers who may have their livelihoods stolen from them by the robot prostitutes. Dr Kathleen Richardson a fierce opponent of this development and a senior research fellow in Robotics at De Montfort University, Leicester, would like to see sex robots banned, saying that they reinforce the position of people as objects.

Could tech bridge the Australia-Indonesia relationship?

Indonesia and Australia have had a somewhat rocky relationship over the last few years, and while relations have mostly normalized, experts have claimed for many years that what the Australia-Indonesia relationship needs is a bridge of business and community ties to provide it with the resilience and stability it needs to truly prosper.

The building blocks of this bridge may just turn out to be technology.

Right now, Indonesia is a hot-spot for tech start-ups, with Indonesian start-up investment reaching $3 billion dollars in 2017. Australia has already begun to branch into this lucrative new area of investment, although somewhat slowly. The muru-d tech start-up accelerator, created by Telstra, has been working with Indonesian entrepreneurs since 2016. But thanks to the digital revolution, there is still enormous potential for collaboration between Australian and Indonesian start-ups. Fostering networks of professional entrepreneurs provides chances for the exchange of both knowledge and cultural capital, both of which can only serve to enrich the relationship between the two countries at a level below the political.

Indonesia also has a rabid appetite for the internet, with 64 million Indonesians active on Facebook, its capital, Jakarta, was named the world’s most active city on Twitter. This is great news for businesses with a digital presence, as the rise of social media not only connects them with wider audiences, but also provides new markets to tap into. Companies providing diverse web-based services, from large national companies like isentia, to locally-based community businesses, like Hosting Australia, can find ample clients in the social-media savvy and tech-hungry Indonesian market, providing the sort of business connections which experts say will deepen and strengthen the bi-lateral relationship like.

Even exporting solar power to Indonesia is on the table, with a dialogue on the subject on the capacity for supply already open between the two countries, and a research proposal under development to find a way to transport power generated in Western Australia’s Pilbara region to Indonesia via a subsea cable.

Metadata may also provide a way in which technology can expand the relationship between Australia and Indonesia. The practical uses of sharing big data might not be apparent at first, but when it comes to urban planning, rolling out infrastructure to rural areas, and other aspects of upgrading and digitizing communities, sharing metadata related to population densities, traffic patterns and even the weather can provide policy makers and designers with valuable information.

Both Australian and Indonesian industries have been affected by the disruption of recent technology, in both countries banks, media outlets, education and artistic industries are all facing similar problems, and all trying to tackle the same changes. This is perhaps the biggest aspect where technology could provide the bridge in the Indonesian-Australian relationship, as collaborating on solutions bi-laterally, rather than unilaterally, is likely to provide faster and more profitable results for both countries.

As technology continues to advance, the best way for Indonesia and Australia to benefit, is to navigate the changing digital landscape together.

4 Management Processes That Can Be Automated With Technology

With the continual advancement of technology, many industries are now replacing human employees for computers, robots and software. The accuracy, efficiency and speed of which a computer can process information is far superior to that of a human being, so there’s no surprise that company owners are deciding to take their business to the next level using these automated processes. But when is it suitable to swap the old for the new? Here are 4 management processes that you can automate with technology.

  1. HR

Human resources. For some it means nightmare, for others, it’s the office guardian angel, but here’s one thing for certain, aside from dealing with complaints and in-office altercations, this is one huge chunk of business that could be replaced with a computer. Producing time sheets, granting or rejecting time away from work, checking adherence and monitoring progress. All of these processes, and more could be performed by software. It’s not uncommon in call centres and other office based roles for the computer to have an ‘availability’ setting, allowing for the monitoring of productivity and time away from the workstation.

  1. Finances and Accounting

Currently automated accounting and bookkeeper software has a huge presence all over social media and the internet. Wherever you look, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and even the App Store, automated book-keeping is everywhere. Whilst there is some initial data input required by a human, this could be done by anyone with the figures, and puts aside the costly requirement for an accountant.

  1. Recruitment

There’s a saying that teamwork divides the task and multiplies the success. You could have the best business in the world, providing the best service for free, but without the right team behind it, you will still have absolutely nothing. Application tracking software (ATS) allows you to post many job offers, across as many recruitment boards as you like in minimal time. Once the advert is up, the software scans all applications for keywords and then sends the suitable applications, in numerical ranking order based on suitability, up to whoever has the lead on the recruitment campaign. This saves hours of reading endless CV’s just to find out that 16-year-old Jimmy, who has just left school is applying for the MD’s position. Sorry Jimmy, not today.

  1. Lead Generation

The most important part of any business is to deliver the product or service to the customer. Without this, there’s no money, without money, you’re going under. Automated lead generation combines CRM with aspects of marketing such as email campaigns to drive up the number of warm leads, resulting in a more productive sales team through introducing higher quality leads.

The point of business is to make money. The only way to do this is to increase income and decrease expenditure. People buy people, so there will always be a need for human presence in any organisation. However, through the correct application of automated systems, not only can you save time and money, but you can also actually make more time and money through a more efficient and higher performing team, supplemented by these automated systems.

5 apps that can help you enjoy card games without putting any money on the line!

You don’t have to be a big spender to enjoy the thrill of winning a game of poker or blackjack anymore. You can do it all on your smartphone. Thanks to the shift towards online and mobile gaming, social casino games have become more popular and the industry is booming.

While some of the apps out there may expect you to be putting your own dollars on the line, here five which let you play without putting down a cent!

Caesers Games

Caesers Games are developed by Playtika, who have been creating games for the online casino market for several years now. Over that time they have amassed a huge range of free games that players can choose from. Caesers Games lets you earn points towards Playtika Rewards, which give you access to a range of benefits and discounts if you were wanting to throw down a little cash!

Lapalingo

Merkur games at Lapalingo.com call the service they offer “bettertainment”, and it’s easy to see why. Their apps let you enjoy the widest variety of card games! Choose from classic blackjack or mix up the rules with some European multi-hand versions! When you get bored of those, there are plenty of other games available for you to your luck with. They have a huge selection of slot games, and traditional games too like roulette or even baccarat!

Spinpalace

Spinpalace is a fun play casino, so like Caesers it uses a point system to reward you for playing. It means you never have to part with any of your hard-earned money, unless you want to. Spinpalace has been around since 2001 and prides itself on being based around the fun of the game, rather than just the thrill of winning big bucks. As their name suggests, they’re mainly focused around pokie games, but they have some fun twists on the traditional casino card and table games too!

FairGo

FairGo casino is another great option for accessing a variety of different games without having to turn over any cash. FairGo’s selection includes a range of popular rules for their card games like Caribbean Stud Poker and All-American Poker. Of course, they also have plenty of slots and pokie games with different themes and styles, as well as specialty games. All accessible from their mobile app!

Jackpot City

Jackpot City is one of the oldest online casino sites around, and their app offering is just as diverse as their browser based game selection. Having been around for a decade, they’ve learned to offer what players want and have a huge choice of card games and slot games from your fruity pokies to mobile blackjack.

Most apps offer you a way to cash in on your time spent playing, either on sweepstakes or prize vouchers! The popularity of social casino games and online gambling has made it a player’s paradise out there! (If you’re of the legal gambling age, of course.)

How Blockchain is Disrupting Education

A blockchain is a public ledger of all cryptocurrency records arranged in data batches that have ever been executed. It is a distributed ledger, rather than existing in one location. It is shared amongst computers all around the world, meaning that is much harder to hack and alter.  The idea is that this creates trust and security; no single party has the power to tamper with the records, with no need for a central authority.

Many academics and institutions are testing the best method to utilize blockchain in higher education.  Blockchain can be a useful way of reducing administrative costs and securing transcript records.

  1. Unified blockchain database– the United Kingdom has a centralized system for checking whether people have obtained degrees. This will eliminate any kind of fraud. It could also be used by affiliated organizations that form a global group of school; blockchain will give them a cost effective, efficient shared resource.
  2. Global Assessment- Create a secure, publicly accessible ledger of academic qualifications where universities authorize a graduate’s degree on the blockchain. A paper system can be vulnerable to fraud, subject to loss. With an increasingly nomadic population of students and workers, a centralized database of credentials and achievements makes sense, whether you’re moving to another educational institution, a new job, a new country – and for refugees who do not have a copy of their degrees. Some sort of secure, online repository would be helpful. Sony has finished developing a system for storing and managing educational records and is now seeking partnership with educational institutions.
  3. Blockchain and MOOCs– An increasing number of universities have jumped into the trend of offering massive open online courses (MOOCs), which enables millions of learners to take classes from anywhere in the world.

Interestingly, there’s a MOOC on Bitcoin and blockchain by Princeton University on Coursera. They are genuinely changing the way education is delivered and acting as a real catalyst for change, allowing universities to innovate and rethink.

The director of the Knowledge Media Institute at the UK’s Open University, argues the “real difference” that blockchain can bring to higher education is to allow us to “move beyond the current structure of universities”.

Blockchain is a technology that is extremely versatile and can be applied in the world of education. The technology is applicable to academia, universities, MOOCs, and other training innovations such as PMI-ACP Certification Training.

Ironically the education sector is a slow learner and takes time to adapt. While businesses worldwide have been quick to adapt to blockchain. Despite the many advantages blockchain provides, the education world may be slow in implementing this technology. Once education institutes implement this technology, they will see the difference, as it will change the way we learn.

Why all UWA Comp Sci Students Should Learn Xamarin for App Development

When it comes to cross-application mobile development, Xamarin has been popular for a number of reasons. If you’re a developer or project manager, enlisting in Xamarin training would give your team an edge in this highly competitive arena.

The fact that more than 20% of Fortune 500 companies use Xamarin for app development proves that it’s quickly finding its way into the market. And the fact that Xamarin has partnered with Microsoft who now include templates for cross-platform app building with Xamarin directly in MS Visual Studio should be a sign for developers to update their toolbox.

Traditionally, an app is cross-platform if it works on all device platforms such as Android, iOs, Windows and so on. However, recently, the term “cross-platform” is applied more towards those approaches that facilitate the sharing of a single code base on multiple devices.

If you want to launch an app that works on various platforms, there are three ways to do this. First, you could natively develop an app for each platform. Second, you could create a web app wrapped as a native app. And third, you could do it cross-platform, as a hybrid or with HTML5.

If you want to make a native app for each platform, you have to create a smartphone application that is coded in a specific programming language designed for a particular platform, such as Objective C for iOs and Java for Android operating systems.

This means you would have to design and develop apps for all the desired platforms individually. While it may provide a better user experience, it can be a rather expensive proposition. You would have to separately pay iOs, Windows and Android developers to come up with a single app. Native app development would be more expensive in this case than hybrid or cross-platform development.

The second mobile app development option would be to create a web application wrapped as a native application. This approach would use a web browser and web-view concepts to create an app that runs on all devices.

This requires the developer to write the code in one language, and then a pre-built cross-platform tool would create apps for all other platforms. Frameworks such as Sencha and Adobe PhoneGap follow this approach.

However, the downside is that can remove what users liked about the app in the first place. It can end up stripping away all the look and feel inherent with a native app of that platform. While it may be good for some apps, in many cases it would just annoy and irritate users who are already used to their phone’s native UI.

Besides developing native or web apps, the third option would be cross-platform native applications. It would be a write once, work for all solution. It would allow you to create native apps using different UI for different platforms.

Tools of this trade are Xamarin and Titanium. It divides the mobile development into two main areas, core and platform specific. Xamarin has taken it a step further. They provide an abstraction over different native APIs and allow developers to create cross-platform apps with nearly 100% code reuse. Unlike Titanium and Adobe PhoneGap, Xamarin uses C# and comes with a Visual Studio plugin which allows hassle-free code management.