Essays

Processor Types

I recently wanted to have a reliable desktop to use for school so I purchased a Dell Inspiron AIO AMD A9 Series with 8GB of RAM and a 256 Solid State Drive. It was my first Dell in a long time and my first PC with an AMD processor I can recall owning. I brought it because I liked the price ($599 + tax). However, in less than a month, it was back in the box for an in-store exchange to my current desktop, an HP Pavilion AIO with Intel Core i5, 8GB of RAM and 256 Solid State Drive in which I had to pay a price difference of $288.52. I returned the Dell because I was having severe issues which  included:

  • Bluetooth connectivity disappeared for no discernible reason
  • Slow start-up
  • Freezing

I contacted Dell to try to fix the various issues but nothing seemed to work. It never occured to me at the time that the AMD CPU might be an issue until this assignment; I just thought I had a dud, swore off buying Dells, and replaced it because it wasn’t working for me. I’m happier with my current desktop, which starts reliably, connects to my Bluetooth devices and opens Photoshop promptly.

According to TechRadar.com, the top 3 RAM manufacturers are Corsair, G. Skill and Kingston with various Corsair modules ranking highly for both budget and high-end builds. Corsair modules consistently received high marks because, per IGN.com, “Corsair’s name has become synonymous with reliable, high-performance RAM”. The difference between brands isn’t necessarily about performance: a buyer can find RAM that fits their needs from any of the above mentioned manufacturers. True consideration should be given to the memory speed, latency, timings and height of the module. For example, the G.Skill Trident Z RGB DC module, which is rated best for high capacity RAM (IGN.com), is “the perfect RAM kit for Mini ITX and Micro ATX systems that only have two available memory slots.”

Sources

Lee, K. (2019, December 28). Best RAM 2020: The Fastest Memory to Speed Up Your PC. Retrieved February 10, 2020, from https://www.ign.com/articles/the-best-ram-kits

Lee, K. (2020, February 6). Best RAM 2020: the top memory for your PC. Retrieved February 10, 2020, from https://www.techradar.com/news/best-ram

Motherboards

Motherboards with integrated components, such as sound cards and modems, are generally cheaper overall than motherboards that would need those components purchased separately. If I was building, for example, a desktop gaming PC, I would use a non-integrated motherboard so that I could choose the appropriate components that would meet my specific needs. Such a system is expensive to purchase already built so I would save money by building a bespoke rig. However, if budget was a consideration, using an integrated motherboard saves time and money. Ultimately, I would have to weigh the cost of the initial build against the cost of wanted and/or need upgrades in the immediate and long term future.

I wouldn’t consider replacing a motherboard on a laptop. The current costs of laptops doesn’t make replacing the motherboard cost effective. I would likely trade in the older laptop for a newer model.

If I had no choice in the matter, I would check to see if the unit is under manufacturer warranty for possible replacement, consider upgrading the RAM (if possible), or restoring the computer to factory defaults.

Computer Upgrades

I haven’t upgraded any computers in the last few years because I’ve sold them to purchase newer models. The last laptop I upgraded was one that I had purchased from a pawnshop. I replaced the battery and added more RAM before I sold it for a profit. At the time, I had brought a decent computer repair kit with the intention of fixing minor computer issues on the side for friends and family but it’s been lately gathering dust. The computers I’m using now are less than a year old and work well for my uses. 

The 5 rules for me to consider upgrading are:

  1. Is the upgrade really necessary?
  2. Is the computer under warranty?
  3. Can I get a trade-in deal?
  4. Can I upgrade it myself?
  5. Are the parts of good quality for a decent price?

I know just because an upgrade is available, doesn’t mean that I need it. On my desktop and laptop, I have great load times, no lag and plenty of storage space. I use my computer for school and work and the programs associated with that activity. Overclocking and maxing out RAM sounds cool, but I don’t need it to edit photos in Photoshop.

Privacy Policy

Security Logo image provided by Pexels.com

According to Wikipedia, a privacy policy is “is a statement or a legal document (in privacy law) that discloses some or all of the ways a party gathers, uses, discloses, and manages a customer or client’s data.” To properly develop a privacy policy for our social media company, it should include the following items, as per TechRepublic.com

  • Commitments to customers/stakeholders
  • How customer information is collected and used
  • How customer information is shared
  • How customer account activity is tracked
  • How customer information is provided to third parties
  • Data protection and security
  • Opt-in or opt-out choices that customers can make with respect to their information
  • Customer privacy rights
  • Company contact information for customers with questions about privacy
  • Login information
  • Privacy compliance
  • Employee privacy practices
  • Data retention
  • These elements can be grouped into two general categories:
  • Communications and marketing
  • Legal, compliance, and IT

According to a Deloitte survey on building consumer trust, a good privacy policy should be part of the user experience, as more consumers become aware of it’s value. With the recent spate of data breaches, consumers are more aware of their data, how it is shared and how it will be used. These are the considerations, per Conroy et al. (2014 pp. 14-20), that we should evaluate while drafting an effective and user-friendly privacy policy:

  • Take on the consumer mindset in setting the vision and strategy for what data is collected, how the data is analyzed and used, and how breaches are handled.
  • Develop privacy policies as if they were a marketing tool rather than only a legal disclosure.
  • Elevate the seniority of the executive with ultimate responsibility for data privacy and security.
  • Deploy supporting processes and systems consistently across the enterprise to reduce exposure and mitigate threats.
  • Expand risk management around data privacy and security to guard against not just external malicious breaches, but also inadvertent internal breaches and third-party partner breaches.

Framing an effective and comprehensive privacy policy that meets our organization’s needs and protects consumer data in a way that inspires trust should be a top priority. In order to accomplish this lofty goal, we should take guidance from MarTechSeries.com, and implement a team to handle the privacy experience. This team will draft a policy that will utilize plain language, offer control over what type of data is shared, create a helpful policy page with pictures and FAQ’s, and handle issues in the event of a breach.

Sources

Conroy, P., Milano, F., Narula, A., & Singhal, R. (2014). Building consumer trust: Protecting personal data in the consumer product industry. Building consumer trust: Protecting personal data in the consumer product industry (pp. 1–25). Deloitte University Press.

Privacy policy. (2019, November 30). Retrieved December 4, 2019, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Privacy_policy.

Powers, B. (2019, December 2). Data Privacy as the New User Experience. Retrieved December 4, 2019, from https://martechseries.com/mts-insights/guest-authors/data-privacy-new-user-experience/.

Shacklett, M. (2016, September 2). How to create a privacy policy that protects your company and your customers. Retrieved December 4, 2019, from https://www.techrepublic.com/article/how-to-create-a-privacy-policy-that-protects-your-company-and-your-customers/.

Information Privacy

I would like to think that I’m very concerned about my personal electronic privacy but my habits and web presence doesn’t reflect that concern. Honestly, it’s just not convenient to protect my privacy. I have a smart speaker in every room, a computer that listens for possible voice commands, along with various social media profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. This is a reflection of the industry I’m in and the kind of work that I do: I don’t have the time to guard the data I’m sharing.

According to Forbes.com, “There are plenty of arguments to make against those who say they have nothing to hide, but even after everything from Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks to 143 million Americans’ social security numbers being compromised in the 2017 Equifax hack, the vast majority of people simply do not care enough to make changes to the way they use the internet. It’s convenience over security.”

The best way to hide a modern secret is to put it in a company’s privacy agreement. Very few people, including myself, take the time to read it, even after there have been stories about egregious privacy policies and the pushback from consumers. Snapchat, Facebook, and Spotify are just a very small sampling of companies who have had privacy policy blowback. Even after these and many other disclosures, millions of people everyday simply click “agree” to use the service without wading through and interpreting pages of privacy legalese.

The most basic control a user should have is the ability to download and delete their data if they use companies like Facebook, Google, or Amazon. Per the WashingtonPost.com, “Google, Facebook, Apple and others have been rushing to ready new tools for people to download and delete their data — along with revamped privacy policies and interfaces that purport to be more digestible.”

Collecting data about users helps companies be better at delivering services that a consumer needs. However, companies need to be more transparent and up-front about who has access to their user data and how it will be used. As stated in the WashingtonPost, “companies were engaging in opaque practices behind the scenes, and that consumers had unknowingly allowed it to happen by signing away their rights.”

Sources

Dwoskin, E. (2019, April 8). New privacy rules could spell the end of legalese – or create a lot more fine print. Retrieved December 4, 2019, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2018/05/24/new-privacy-rules-could-spell-the-end-of-legalese-or-create-a-lot-more-fine-print/.

French, S. (2015, November 2). Snapchat’s new ‘scary’ privacy policy has left users outraged. Retrieved December 4, 2019, from https://www.marketwatch.com/story/snapchats-new-scary-privacy-policy-has-left-users-outraged-2015-10-29.

Newcomb, A. (2018, March 24). A timeline of Facebook’s privacy issues – and its responses. Retrieved December 4, 2019, from https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/social-media/timeline-facebook-s-privacy-issues-its-responses-n859651.

Torpey, K. (2019, February 28). If You Don’t Care About Online Privacy, You Should Read This. Retrieved December 4, 2019, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/ktorpey/2019/02/28/if-you-dont-care-about-online-privacy-you-should-read-this/#3d3e5d3f3886.

Warren, T. (2015, August 21). Spotify’s new privacy policy generates unnecessary outrage. Retrieved December 4, 2019, from https://www.theverge.com/2015/8/21/9186365/spotify-privacy-policy-app-permissions.

How Does GoToMeeting Bridge Distance

To test the capabilities and features of the popular collaboration tool GoToMeeting, I signed up for a free 14 day trial. The trial version requires no credit card or other payment information and took less than a minute to enter my name, email, and password. GoToMeeting also prompts for a phone number and job title, which are optional and company size.

Once signed up, you are logged into the GoToMeeting Hub where you have access to information regarding scheduled meetings, past meetings and settings. The dashboard has several, clearly marked links for creating a meeting. You can either create a meeting or accept an invitation to a meeting using your computer or mobile device. Sending an invitation is simple: just copy the link for the meeting, which has a unique ID, and send it to the recipient. They will have to install the GoToMeeting app to join the meeting.

The meeting chat window has options for recording the chat, microphone and camera settings. The meeting room can hold up to 251 people and you can switch the view to who’s talking or to everyone. It’s simple and clutter free: the controls are intuitive and easy to use, even on first use.

Important Features

Screen sharing – One of the capabilities of the chat window is the ability to share your screen with the members of the meeting. This is an important feature when you have information or processes you want to share or demonstrate: you can instantly use your screen like an interactive white board.

Chat Recording – Users can record the meeting and share the recording to members of the group. This is a great feature to keep a record of a meeting for members who may not have been able to attend or for posterity.

Meeting Lock – If you want to limit the number of members, or not allow users to join mid-sentence, you have the option to lock meetings.

Dial in to meeting – If a user does not have access to a computer of a smart device, they can still call in to the meeting using a special number and unique access code.

Instant meeting – If you just need to have a quick meeting, a user can start one instantly. Once the chat window opens, they can send the invite link to the team members who need to attend.

GoToMeeting is a pretty comprehensive tool for communicating between team members via chat, video conference and screen share. PCMag.com gives it an excellent rating and stated:  “GoToMeeting is one of the easiest conferencing services to use, and its video conferencing feature keeps the app relevant in today’s competitive market.” The only drawback is that there is no “raise your hand” feature, which would be ideal for meetings of large groups. 

Source

Brame, D. (2019, July 30). GoToMeeting. Retrieved November 26, 2019, from https://www.pcmag.com/review/266406/gotomeeting.

Designing a Productivity Application

To meet the needs and demands of a 5,000-person multinational professional services firm, the recommendation is to utilize Google’s G Suite Enterprise solution. G Suite offers various cloud-based collaboration tools, as outlined on GeniusProject.com

  • Collaborative project management – “makes it possible to plan, coordinate, monitor and manage complex projects carried out by teams.”

Recommended solutionG Suite Admin

  • Communication tools – “streamline the flow of information between teams, departments and even countries.”

Recommended solutionG Suite Hangouts Chat

  • Tools for sharing applications and resources – “offer the option to manipulate documents online so that all employees have access to information.”

Recommended solutionsG Suite Drive

  • Information and knowledge management tools – “allows teams to save time by being instantly informed of activity progress.” 

Recommended solutionG Suite Currents

  • Coordination tools – “help to include project team members in the planning and monitoring phases of projects and to link them to each other by providing them with information.”

Recommended solutionG Suite Work Insights

These tools would meet the basic requirements of a successful virtual organization: connecting people, defining purpose and access to necessary links.

When considering which solution would be best for the organization, the following were important factors that gave G Suite the edge over other off-the-shelf solutions:

  • Simple pricing – Google has 3 levels of pricing, Basic, Business and Enterprise, that outlines the features available at each level. In contrast Microsoft 365 has at least 6 different plans, at both business and enterprise levels.
  • Cloud based – To meet the needs of an international organization, Google’s apps are browser based. As per ZDnet.com, “In organizations where those formats are not a big deal and where a younger workforce has grown up with Gmail and Google Docs, the browser-based interface might be considered a plus.”
  • Business valueForrester.com reported that:
    • 1.5% increase in revenue driven by G Suite*
    • 171 hrs saved per user per year. Equal to ~21 days per user per year*
    • Over 95% reduced the risk of data breach*
    • 20% reduction of on-demand tech support*
    • 331% ROI driven by G Suite

* Forrester’s model organization used to estimate these results, is a global conglomerate with 20k employees, and $3B in annual revenue.

G Suite offers a 14 day free trial and then $25 per user per month at the enterprise level. The total cost of the suite to the organization would be dependant on the size of the IT Sales and Sales Support groups.

Google provides access to training materials, including a 5 week training checklist. Users can also learn by individual product type. Certification is available for a registration fee of $75.

Sources

Bott, E. (2019, June 13). Office 365 vs G Suite: Which productivity suite is best for your business? Retrieved November 22, 2019, from https://www.zdnet.com/article/office-365-vs-g-suite-which-productivity-suite-is-best-for-your-business/.
Enterprise Collaboration Tools. (n.d.). Retrieved November 22, 2019, from https://www.geniusproject.com/guide/project-collaboration-tools/enterprise-tools.

Working With People That You Never See

Collaboration tools such as email, chat, phone and video conferencing enable teams to work in ways that didn’t exist even 20 years ago. Teams don’t have to be located in the same office, building, or even city: they can work and communicate virtually, spanning time zones, distance and organizational boundaries. According to Lipnack and Stamps (p.6), “Electronic media together with computers enable the creation of spaces that are real to the groups that inhabit them yet are not the same as physical places.” 

There are various types of virtual collaboration tools that are available to business teams. As per the Genius Project, these are some of the most common types of collaboration tools and their uses:

  • Calendar sharing tools: The shared calendar facilitates the organization of appointments and meetings without the need to consult all participants. 
  • File sharing tools: File sharing tools allow you to transfer files, distribute them and give access to them. 
  • Instant messaging: Instant messaging allows you to exchange text messages and online files in real time via a computer. 
  • Document synchronization: Document synchronization aims at matching two documents. 
  • Cloud storage: Storage can be done within the organization but also in the cloud.  
  • Video-conferencing: A method of communicating with a live, visual connection by means of a video with multiple people across multiple locations.

Although collaboration tools are available to fit every type of organizational need, CIO.com describes where these tools can fall short:

  • No compelling reason – beyond using software that is necessary to perform a job, an employee would need a reason to use collaboration software. An organization would have to demonstrate why the tool is a valuable and needed resource.
  • Poor user interfaces – To ask people to adopt a new tool is difficult, especially if the interface is not intuitive. 
  • Unnecessary functionality – Users prefer to use tools for simple tasks and additional functionality can hurt adoption rates.

When it comes to collaborative tools, it’s not the tools but the people who use them that will determine their effectiveness. Lipnack and Stamps (p.13):

“The prescription for successful virtual teams:

  • Involve the right people both from internal organizations and from outside companies.
  • Carefully define their purpose and used it as a compass when they started to get off track.
  • Established excellent communication links among the team members, using a mix of media including email, conference calls, and face-to-face meetings to support interactions and relationships.”

Sources

Lipnack, J. and Stamps, J. Virtual Teams: Reaching Across Space, Time, and Organizations with Technology, New York, NY: Wiley. Chapter 1 pp. 1-24. (as of 8/10/2019):  http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=171-FrLDhvUC&oi=fnd&pg=PR17&dq=technology+bridges+distance+in+work+teams&ots=Bu0Aq598gQ&sig=I7mqF_NZWjXg2FDVpgts2Qn8osA.

Rubens, P. (2017, January 2). Why employees don’t use collaboration tools. Retrieved November 21, 2019, from https://www.cio.com/article/3154008/why-employees-dont-use-collaboration-tools.html.

Types of Collaboration Tools. (n.d.). Retrieved November 21, 2019, from https://www.geniusproject.com/guide/project-collaboration-tools/types-collaboration-tools.

What Do Government Do?

Governments are, according to Economy.org, organizations that set rules, collect taxes and spend money on services for the public good. 

The United States has three levels of government that provide services on the federal, state and local level. Only the federal government can enact laws that regulate the entire nation, print currency, set and collect federal taxes, and create programs that benefits the welfare of all citizens regardless of state. Below are just a few examples of services that the US federal government provides, as per OurPublicService.org:

  • Social Security payments help 51 million Americans
  • College loan programs help millions who might otherwise not be able to afford higher education.
  • U.S. Postal Service inspection programs help prevent mail fraud.
  • Social Security disability provides benefits if you become too disabled to work. 
  • Medicare provides government health care for seniors.

The Pew-MacArthur Results Initiative posited that “Government leaders can improve public outcomes, reduce costs, and increase accountability by ensuring that resources are directed toward effective, cost-beneficial programs.”

Evaluating The Effectiveness Of The NYC.Gov Website

Technology is just one of the many resources available to all levels of government.

The NYC.gov site provides up-to-date information regarding New York city services and programs, including parking regulations, school closures and garbage collection on the homepage.

Some of the ways that the NYC.gov has innovated the process of connecting citizens to available resources:

  • Created a government directory based on category, such as benefits, courts and education, instead of knowing the specific name of the department. 
  • A citizen can get information, over the phone or on the site, from the city’s 311 help line, where a specific question about the city can be answered and addressed.
  • The ACCESS NYC tool, where a resident can “find help in NYC with food, money, housing, work and more.”

Before these features were in place, a resident had to know in advance which bureaucratic agency they needed to address specific issues, how to contact them and what resources might be available. In 2002, then mayor Micheal Bloomberg made creating the 311 system one of his top priorities in his first year in office. Per the New York Times:

”In terms of customer service,” he said, ”we have to have the attitude that we are working for the people of New York City, and rather than making it difficult for them, rather than making them be the ones that have to do the research to find who can help them, what we want to do is to provide the service and have us do the work.”

Sources

Homepage. (n.d.). Retrieved November 16, 2019, from https://psrw.ourpublicservice.org/.

What do governments actually do? (n.d.). Retrieved November 16, 2019, from https://www.ecnmy.org/learn/your-government/the-role-of-the-state/what-do-governments-actually-do/.

Assessing the Effectiveness of Government Programs. (n.d.). Retrieved November 16, 2019, from https://www.macfound.org/press/publications/assessing-effectiveness-government-programs/.

Moskovitz, D. (n.d.). The Public Policy Lean Canvas. Retrieved November 16, 2019, from https://leanpolicy.org/.

Cardwell, D. (2002, February 1). Bloomberg Plans Quick Start of Citywide 311 Phone System. Retrieved November 16, 2019, from https://www.nytimes.com/2002/02/01/nyregion/bloomberg-plans-quick-start-of-citywide-311-phone-system.html.

Is Technology Enough to Compete: The Value of ERP's

Technology, though important, cannot provide a sustainable advantage to an organization. The most competitive advantage an organization can have is its ability to be innovative. The pursuit for innovation is a continuous process because technology can be easily copied, techniques can be mirrored by the competition. According to Farrell et al (2002, p.12), “Investments in IT were more likely to remain differentiating where coupled with other core sustainable advantages such as scale, significant changes in the business process, and associated learning effects.”

Technology provides core services that contribute to an organization’s success. Business intelligence, cloud computing, enterprise resource planning (ERP), software as a service (SaaS), and collaboration and workflow tools are all essential services that no modern organization can operate without. As a matter of fact, the following three technology characteristics has a significant impact on productivity (2002 p.10-12):

  • Tailored to sector-specific business processes and linked to performance levers.
  • Deployed in a sequence that built capabilities over time.
  • Co-evolved with managerial and technical innovation.

According to Porter’s Value Chain Analysis, (Russo) “a value chain is a set of activities that an organization does to create value for its customers.”

Porter’s Value Chain divides divides an organization’s ERP process into two main parts: primary and support.

Primary activities deals with the creation, sale, maintenance, and support of an organization’s product and/or service. This includes such activities as logistics, operations and marketing. 

Support activities reinforce the primary activities and include such services as human resources, procurement and research and development. 

Below is a chart of a generic value chain:

Enterprise Resource Planning can methodize the process in which an organization conducts business. As a Technologist, our main focus should be to “think about productivity (getting more done with less).”

According to Perkins (2019), there are four factors that are commonly underestimated during ERP project planning that can affect the success of implementation:

  • Business process change
  • Organization change management
  • Data migration
  • Custom code

Sources

Farrell, D., Mendonca, L., Nevens, M., Manyika, J., Lai, S., Roberts, R., … Cho, M. (2002). How It Enables Productivity Growth. How IT Enables Productivity Growth (pp. 6–14). San Francisco, CA: McKinsey Global Institute.

Perkins, B. (2019, February 22). What is ERP? Key features of top enterprise resource planning systems. Retrieved November 16, 2019, from https://www.cio.com/article/2439502/what-is-erp-key-features-of-top-enterprise-resource-planning-systems.html.

PR Lecture on Why Organizations Exist. Slides in course site. Paul Russo’s Lecture on What Organizations Do.pptx

Porter’s Value Chain: Understanding How Value is Created Within Organizations. (2017). Retrieved November 16, 2019, from https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newSTR_66.htm.