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Cloud computing 101: 5 things you need to know

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These days you can run your own business from anywhere in the world, BrightRock executive director LEOPOLD MALAN shares his top 5 cloud computing tips.

1.       It’s time to join the bandwagon

Cloud computing is not as new to South African business landscape as you might think, with an increasing number of business owners signing up for cloud based products and services. According to South African research firm World Wide Worx, there was a 10% jump in SMEs in South Africa using cloud technology between 2014 and 2015 – bringing the tally to 39%.

 

2.       It’s not just a back-up service

Many people tend to associate cloud computing with data storage and transfer services like iCloud, Google Drive and Dropbox, but it offers so much more than that. According to Ventureburn.com, South African companies utilise a range of cloud-based services, varying from email (83%), online backups (47%), online accounting (37%), project management (27%), to online CRM.

 

3.       Work anywhere, anytime

We’re moving into an era where we don’t have to be office-bound to do our work, and cloud computing is instrumental to this. Consumers of cloud technology are able to access information and services as long as they have sufficient internet connectivity. Under ideal circumstances, you also don’t need a desktop or laptop computer to access the cloud – up-to-date products and services are compatible with tablets and smartphones.

 

4.       Cut down on costs

Think of Cloud Computing as the new Outsourcing. If you have limited capital or resources, cloud computing is a fantastic way to cut costs. Systems like Quickbooks, Sage One, FreshBooks, Office365 and Abukai Expenses allow owners of small businesses to do big things with their admin. The affordability of some of these systems make them particularly attractive – some solutions are offered at monthly fees in the vicinity of R200 to R300, and there even are payroll systems offering integrated solutions at as low as R22 per month, per employee. That said, you need to do your homework before signing up for a cloud-based product or service: Just like optional extras on a new car, add-ons can prove to be costly – not to mention a lack of technical expertise on both ends of the cloud-based relationship, which brings me to my last point.

 

5.       Choose carefully

The cloud is one of the safer places in a world where data disappears thanks to viruses and theft. Should any problems arise, you have the added benefit of not being responsible for fixing it – systems issues lie with the service provider. Make sure that your cloud service provider has a proven customer service track record with experienced and knowledgeable technicians on the back-end who are able to assist you on a 24/7 basis. Also be extra cautious with sensitive or valuable data. One of the ways you can ensure that your data stays extra safe, would be to opt for a hybrid system that allows you to use both your servers and the clouds as a backup. This will also allow you to suss out the reliability of the service you opted for.

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Jaguar drives dictionary definition

Jaguar is calling for the Oxford English Dictionary and Oxford Dictionaries to update their online definition of the word ‘car’

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Jaguar is spearheading a campaign for the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) and Oxford Dictionaries (OxfordDictionaries.com) to change their official online definitions of the word ‘car’.

The I-PACE, Jaguar’s all-electric performance SUV, is the 2019 World Car of the Year and European Car of the Year. However, strictly speaking, the zero-emission vehicle isn’t defined as a car.

The OED, the principal historical dictionary of the English language, defines a ‘car’ in its online dictionary as: ‘a road vehicle powered by a motor (usually an internal combustion engine) designed to carry a driver and a small number of passengers, and usually having two front and two rear wheels, esp. for private, commercial, or leisure use’.

Whereas the current definition of a ‘car’ on Oxford Dictionaries.com, a collection of dictionary websites produced by Oxford University Press (OUP), the publishing house of the University of Oxford, is: ‘A road vehicle, typically with four wheels, powered by an internal combustion engine and able to carry a small number of people.’

To remedy the situation, Jaguar has submitted a formal application to the OED and OxfordDictionaries.com to have the definitions updated to include additional powertrains, including electric vehicles (EV).

David Browne, head of Jaguar Land Rover’s naming committee, said: “A lot of time and thought is put into the name of any new vehicle or technology to ensure it is consumer friendly, so it’s surprising to see that the definition of the car is a little outdated. We are therefore inviting the Oxford English Dictionary and the Oxford Dictionaries to update its online classification to reflect the shift from traditional internal combustion engines (ICE) towards more sustainable powertrains.”

The Oxford English Dictionary is widely regarded as the accepted authority on the English language. It is an unsurpassed guide to the meaning, history, and pronunciation of 600,000 words – past and present – from across the English-speaking world.

Jaguar unveiled the I-PACE, its first all-electric vehicle, last year to deliver sustainable sports car performance, next-generation artificial intelligence (AI) technology and five-seat SUV practicality.

Featuring a state-of-the-art 90kWh lithium-ion battery, two Jaguar-designed motors and a bespoke aluminium structure, the I-PACE is capable of 0-100km/h in 4.8 seconds and a range of up to 470km (WLTP).

While both the Oxford English Dictionary and Oxford Dictionaries review the application, Jaguar is encouraging people to get behind the campaign by asking how the word ‘car’ should be defined. Contact Jaguar on TwitterFacebook and Instagram using #RedefineTheCar with your thoughts.

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How Internet blocks visually impaired

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Picture: Amelie-Benoist / Getty Images

A pervasive “digital divide” inhibits blind people from accessing the Internet, according to a study conducted by Nucleus Research for Deque Systems, an accessibility software company specialising in digital equality. This results in visits to websites being abandoned, further resulting in a missed market opportunity for the websites in question.

The study, which conducted in-depth interviews with 73 U.S. adults who are blind or have severe visual impairments, revealed that two-thirds of the Internet transactions initiated by people with vision impairments end in abandonment because the websites they visit aren’t accessible enough. Ninety percent of those surveyed said they regularly call a site’s customer service to report inaccessibility and have no choice but to visit another, more accessible site to make the transaction.

The Nucleus study also scanned hundreds of websites in the e-commerce, news and information and government categories and found that 70 percent had certain “critical blockers” that rendered them inaccessible to visually impaired users.

“Besides the moral dilemma and legal risk, businesses with inaccessible websites are missing a huge revenue opportunity by ignoring an untapped market,” says Preety Kumar, CEO of Deque Systems. “Among internet retailers specifically, two-thirds of the top ten online retailers had serious accessibility issues, meaning they are leaving $6.9 billion in potential North American e-commerce revenues on the table.”

Web accessibility refers to the ability of people with disabilities to independently gather information, complete transactions, or communicate on the Internet. Most visually impaired Internet users rely on assistive technologies like screen readers or screen magnifiers to render sites perceivable and operable. However, these assistive technologies require that websites be built with accessibility in mind and optimized to interface with assistive technology, in order to convey information in an accurate and understandable manner.

Critical accessibility blockers can vary across industries. In e-commerce, problems include issues like missing form and button labels (thereby making forms or the “checkout” button invisible without context). Amazon, Best Buy and Target were found to be accessibility leaders in this space. Additionally, the study found:

  • Eight out of ten news sites had significant accessibility issues.
  • Seven out of ten blind persons reported being unable to access information and services through government websites, including Medicare’s site.
  • Fewer than one in three websites have clear contact information or instructions for blind persons to seek help if they encounter accessibility issues, meaning many have low levels of success in reporting and solving these problems.

“A focus on accessibility needs to be a core part of the website design and development process,” continues Kumar. “Considering accessibility as early as the conception phase, and proactively building and testing sites for accessibility as they move towards production, is significantly more effective than remediating it later, helping organizations save significant time and resources while avoiding unnecessary customer grievances.”

To download the report, visit: https://accessibility.deque.com/nucleus-accessibility-research-2019

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