Archive for April, 2018

Automotive Industry Could Gain $160 Billion Through Smart Factory Adoption: Capgemini

Posted in Commentary with tags on April 30, 2018 by itnerd

Capgemini today announced a new report by its Digital Transformation Institute, which reveals that the automotive industry can expect to achieve $160bn in productivity gains annually from smart factory adoption from 2023 onwards. The reportAutomotive Smart Factories: How Auto Manufacturers can Benefit from the Digital Industrial Revolution demonstrates that the automotive sector has set more aggressive targets for smart factory initiatives compared to other sectors.

A global top ten automotive manufacturer can expect to realize an additional $4.6 billion or a 50% growth in operational profits annually within five years of a full smart factory implementation. The report predicts that the average productivity growth of smart factories within the automotive sector will be 7% as of 2023, while an automaker will break-even within a year of executing the full potential of its smart factories.

By the end of 2022, automotive manufacturers expect that 24% of their plants will be smart factories. Nearly half of automotive companies (46%) already have a smart factory initiative, behind only industrial manufacturing (67%) and aerospace (63%), while at further 43% of automotive companies, smart factory initiatives are currently being formulated. According to the report, the automotive sector has the highest share (49%) of organizations who have invested more than $250 million in smart factories.

However, 42% of automotive manufacturers accept they are not on track to realize the full potential of smart factories and are struggling with the technology move. This is the highest across all the manufacturing sectors studied. The report identified that those making the best progress are investing three times more than the companies who are struggling. The more advanced manufacturers are also investing in software such as advanced analytics and AI-based components, whereas those struggling focus too heavily on hardware-based components putting them on the back foot.

While a large proportion (46%) of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have been successful in their smart factory initiatives, less than a third of automotive suppliers (32%) claim to have been successful. The report highlights that OEMs are leading the way, but can do more to help suppliers adopt smart factories. For example, it highlights that OEMs can contribute through financial support and working closely with suppliers on innovation via startups and academies. When OEMs and suppliers work together to create smart factory processes, issues can be minimized early on in the production process.

A copy of the report can be downloaded here

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It Seems That Twitter Sold Data To Cambridge Analytica Linked Researcher

Posted in Commentary with tags on April 30, 2018 by itnerd

It seems that Twitter may be about to have its own Facebook moment now that Bloomberg has discovered that a researcher who is linked to Cambridge Analytica which is the company that slurped up the data of 88 million (or more) people from Facebook bought data from Twitter:

Twitter sold data access to the Cambridge University academic who also obtained millions of Facebook users’ information that was later passed to a political consulting firm without the users’ consent. Aleksandr Kogan, who created a personality quiz on Facebook to harvest information later used by Cambridge Analytica, established his own commercial enterprise, Global Science Research (GSR). That firm was granted access to large-scale public Twitter data, covering months of posts, for one day in 2015, according to Twitter. “In 2015, GSR did have one-time API access to a random sample of public tweets from a five-month period from December 2014 to April 2015,” Twitter said in a statement to Bloomberg. “Based on the recent reports, we conducted our own internal review and did not find any access to private data about people who use Twitter.” The company has removed Cambridge Analytica and affiliated entities as advertisers. Twitter said GSR paid for the access; it provided no further details.

I wonder if we’re now going to have a #DeleteTwitter hashtag popping up now?

This pretty much starts to paint the picture that every social media company might have been touched by these guys. So while Facebook aren’t choirboys, they are far from being the only bad actors here. Don’t be surprised if you hear about more companies getting caught up in this as the companies in question either check to see if they’ve done business with Cambridge Analytica or anyone associated with them, or the media simply outs them.

NHS In The UK To Shell Out Cash To Avoid Being Pwned Again

Posted in Commentary with tags on April 30, 2018 by itnerd

If you recall, the National Health Service or NHS in the UK was pwned to a massive degree by the Wannacry ransomware. It was later discovered that they could have avoided this rather easily. Today the NHS has made an announcement that they will  spend £150m more over the next three years to do the following:

  • A £21m upgrade to upgrade firewalls network infrastructure at major trauma centre hospitals and ambulance trusts

  • £39m to address infrastructure weaknesses

  • A new text messaging alert system to ensure trusts have access to accurate information.

  • Upgrading to Windows 10 which was announced by Microsoft UK.

So it seems that the NHS is really serious about this as the Wannacry ransomware really disrupted its services when they got pwned. But to be fair, they weren’t alone on that front. Hopefully other organizations who got pwned by this ransomware last year take note and use this as a template to improve their IT defenses.

 

Sprint & T-Mobile USA Announce Merger Agreement

Posted in Commentary with tags , on April 30, 2018 by itnerd

The big news coming out of the US telco space over the weekend is a merger agreement between US telcos Sprint and T-Mobile. The new combined company will be named T-Mobile and current T-Mobile CEO John Legere will serve as the Chief Executive Officer. The new company promises that it will be “force for positive change” . What sort of change? Here’s the video:

Along with the faster rollout of 5G technology, Sprint and T-Mobile say the merger will lead to job creation, lower prices for consumers, improved coverage, and “unprecedented network capacity.” We’ll see if all that comes true. Assuming that this deal gets approved of course. That’s a bit of an open question seeing as there’s currently a battle in the courts with the AT&T / Time Warner merger. So we’ll have to wait and see on that front.

Hopefully, this new company decides to come to Canada as we could use some of that “force for positive change” around here.

Sprint Announces Sprint Secure Wi-Fi

Posted in Commentary with tags on April 30, 2018 by itnerd

Sprint today announced the launch of Sprint Secure Wi-Fi, an easy-to-use application for Sprint-subscribed smartphones and tablets. Sprint Secure Wi-Fi seamlessly protects mobile users using unprotected public Wi-Fi by encrypting all data traffic as it goes between the device and the internet.

Every day, millions of mobile device users connect to unsecure public Wi-Fi – hotels, coffee shops, restaurants, etc. – making them vulnerable to malicious users and content. Something as simple as checking the weather or skimming through social media can potentially put sensitive data and credentials at risk. Traffic on public Wi-Fi connections is often unencrypted, leaving the user’s phone susceptible to attack.

Sprint Secure Wi-Fi prevents hacking by encrypting all data passing through the Wi-Fi network to the internet. It works within a Sprint-subscribed iOS or Android device as a “Smart VPN.” Once enabled, it automatically turns on when a user joins an unsecure Wi-Fi network and automatically turns off when they return to the cellular network or lose that Wi-Fi signal.

Key features of Sprint Secure Wi-Fi include:

  • Streamlined security – Gain instant security when connected to unsecure public Wi-Fi networks, such as those found in coffee shops and libraries, and have the option for the solution to encrypt your data on any secured Wi-Fi network.
  • Automatic protection – Quickly identifies if a Wi-Fi network has password protection and/or encryption enabled. If either is missing, the application will “turn on,” automatically encrypting data sent between the device and internet.
  • Simplicity – Secure Wi-Fi is a smart solution that automatically detects the need to turn on or off, relieving the user of the need to do it themselves.
  • Peace of mind – Users can rest assured they are browsing with security, wherever they connect.

The launch of Sprint Secure Wi-Fi complements Sprint Secure, a comprehensive suite of industry-leading security solutions for business networks and mobility. Sprint’s security solutions are continuously improving user experience and enhancing protection provided within its services and networks.

Sprint will offer Sprint Secure Wi-Fi at no additional cost through our Mobility-as-a-Service unlimited plan or for $1.99 a month, per user in a monthly subscription model to Sprint-subscribed iOS and Android users.

This topic was recently covered in a Sprint blog that explains more on why Wi-Fi can be risky business.

Judge Says Bell Can’t Promise A Price And Change It Later

Posted in Commentary with tags on April 30, 2018 by itnerd

Bell has taken some serious hits lately on the customer service front. Including having the highest amount of complaints to the CCTS so far this year. Well, here’s another hit. A Bell customer took Bell to court over their pricing strategy and won in epic fashion. Here’s the details from the CBC:

In a judgment issued last month in a Toronto small claims court, Deputy Judge William C. De Lucia said that Bell’s attempt to impose new terms after a verbal contract guaranteeing a monthly price for 24 months had been struck was “high-handed, arbitrary and unacceptable.”

It all started in November 2016, when David Ramsay called a Bell customer service representative to inquire about TV and internet services.

The sales agent told Ramsay he could get Bell’s Fibe TV and internet services “for $112.90 a month for 24 months” and then said he’d get an “email confirmation of everything that was just discussed.”

But when the email arrived, it said prices were actually “subject to change” and that Bell was planning to increase its price for internet service by $5, two months later.

“I was stunned and appalled to find these buried terms in an email,” says Ramsay. “I had a contract, and this ain’t that contract.”

Ramsay called Bell to say the emailed contract was different from the verbal contract he’d made on the phone.

I’ve heard this from other Bell customers and this is one reason why I have not switched from Rogers to them. This business practice really rubs people the wrong way.

Here’s what ultimately led to this epic win:

In a move that was pivotal to his legal case, he requested a transcript of the call in which the customer service rep promised him a fixed price for two years.

All contact centers be it sales, customer service or technical support record your calls and keep them for anywhere from six months to two years. And they have to tell you that before you talk to someone live. I know this because I help contact centers set up these recording systems and design the policies for them. You have a right in Canada to get a copy of the recording or the transcript. Usually through the privacy office of the company.

There were two other things that I should mention about this case:

  1. Bell tried to pay off this guy before the case got to court and get him to sign a hush agreement. He refused. And good for him for doing so.
  2. The customer complained to the CCTS before going to court. They closed his case. But when this judgement against Bell surfaced, the CCTS changed its tune and said that they will look at falling in line with this judgement and look into previous complaints of a similar nature.

This underscores the fact that while Bell is the worst when it comes to this sort of thing, the telco industry in Canada needs a serious shakeup due to the fact that Canadians don’t get the best value from any of the “big 3” telcos. It’s high time that one of the “big 3” simply just offer Canadians the best deal possible right up front. No tricks. No gotchas. No fine print. The other two would fall in line instantly if they did that. If that doesn’t happen, I say that the Canadian Government needs to step in and clean up the business practices of the telco industry. Because, clearly the “big 3” are unwilling to do so on their own.

Review: Roku Streaming Stick +

Posted in Products with tags on April 28, 2018 by itnerd

Roku has come out with a new Streaming Stick called the Streaming Stick +. And this isn’t just the best streaming stick that Roku has made, it’s the best streaming device that they’ve made to date. First, let’s look at the Streaming Stick + and remote:

Roku Streaming Stick+ with Remote Angle II.png

You plug the Streaming Stick + into the HDMI port of your TV and then you plug a USB cable from the Streaming Stick + to a USB cable into a USB port on your TV. But this is no ordinary cable:

streaming-stick-plus-extender.png

If you take a look closely, there’s a block in the middle. That’s a WiFi receiver that’s built-in to its USB cable. That gives you 4x the range and a stronger signal which means that watching Stranger Things in 4K will be insanely smooth. And from my tests, that claim is accurate. It supports 802.11ac MIMO dual-band wireless to further ensure that streaming is smooth.

What other tricks does it have? Try these for starters:

  • 1080p
  • 4K UHD TVs
  • 4K UHD HDR TVs – Supports HDR10 technology

I found a client who has a 4K HDR TV to test out the 4K HDR support and watching an episode of Stranger Things  in 4K was stunning.

Another thing that I will draw your attention to is the remote. It has a power button on it along with volume buttons. That way, you can power on and off your TV and control the volume with a single remote. In fact, it tries to figure out what TV it has and sets itself up so that you (hopefully) don’t have to do any voodoo to make it work with your TV (I didn’t have to in my case. Your mileage may vary). That’s going to be a godsend to people who hate to juggle remotes like my wife for example. It also includes a voice search function that is not only insanely fast to use, it is a first for a Roku Streaming Stick. In fact, the Streaming Stick + is just insanely fast overall. You can thank a new quad-core processor that’s inside the Streaming Stick +. Everything was smooth and fluid when I tested it. Setup was quick and easy and anyone can do it.

What really is the cherry on the cake is the price. At $90 CDN The Roku Streaming Stick + is a no brainer if you want to join the streaming generation. It will be on the street on May 1st and I say grab one if you want to do streaming right.