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Saving for the Future: 19 Easy Ways to Save Your Money

Saving for the Future: 19 Easy Ways to Save Your Money

Who doesn’t want to save money for the future? The Pay Calculator joins us in this piece.  
Note: This information is not intended as advice and does not take into account your personal circumstances. Always seek professional financial advice.

 

You can probably think of several ways to save money and improve your financial status right now. The two basic things to do are to spend less and/or increase your income. You may have to make some sacrifices or work harder, but it’s worth it.

Here are 19 ways to reduce your cost of living and save money.

  • Avoid bad debt. Do you have enough money in the bank to buy that couch, television, or that set of sheets? When you make purchases that you can’t afford, then charge it and pay monthly payments, you’re creating bad debt. You’re not just paying for the items, you’re paying interest, making it harder to get out of debt. The only things you should borrow money for are real estate or leverage in business.
  • Pay off bad debt. Prioritize and pay off bad debt. The interest causes you financial harm, so use your money wisely and pay off high-interest debt as fast as possible.
  • Sell your automobile. If you don’t need your car, or a second vehicle, sell it. You will save on fuel, upkeep, maintenance, and insurance.
  • Avoid hungry-shopping. A hungry consumer tends to buy more when they’re hungry than when they aren’t.
  • Invest in savings. Put some money back into a savings account every payday. This doesn’t include saving for something you want, just save it for nothing. You will find a smart use for it in the future.
  • Cancel pay TV. You don’t need paid TV anymore. There are other options that are free or cheap so save money without sacrifice!
  • Get and stay fit. Get plenty of sleep, exercise daily, eat healthy, and drink water. Maintaining your health saves you on health care costs.
  • Cook at home more. You save a lot of money by cooking more at home. You will enjoy dinner time with your family, while saving money. This doesn’t mean to never go out, but stop doing so merely for convenience if you eat out often. Whilst you’re at home, don’t forget to clean and maintain your house yourself.
  • Quit smoking. If you smoke, stop it. You’ll reduce the cost of buying cigarettes and be healthier.
  • Save rainy day money. Put back money for the unexpected. Plan this in your budget.
  • Try a zero-dollar day. If possible, avoid spending money for a day at least once a week; more often if you can. It will change how you think about spending.
  • Use smart travel plans. Avoid booking travel during the peak season or just a couple of weeks before you go to prevent paying a premium price.
  • Check your phone plan. Save money on your phone bill by requesting the best deal from your provider. The competition is fierce, so they’re willing to bargain.
  • Look at your health coverage. Health insurance is a competitive industry, so ask for the best options and do your research for additional savings.
  • Review annual renewals. Renewable annual payments should be reviewed before the renewal date. For instance, shop around or negotiate for better home and auto insurance rates.
  • Avoid impulse buying. Impulse buys are costly. Go home, sleep on it, and think about whether it’s something you really need or not.
  • Try shopping on eBay. One of the cheapest ways to get what you want without spending more than necessary is to look for it on eBay.
  • Avoid buying new tech/gadgets. If you have a laptop, tablet, or smartphone, you have all the gadgets you need at your fingertips.
  • Reduce dependence on new items. Humans think that owning the best and newest thing is important, but that becomes an addiction. Stop that cycle of dependence on getting new stuff that you don’t really need.

These are all tips that are dependent upon your lifestyle and your financial situation. Learn what to buy what is best for you, while saving money for various purposes at the same time. If you can live without something – don’t buy it!

Why Is It So Difficult to Stop Fake News?

Why Is It So Difficult to Stop Fake News?

Ever since the significant emotional effect of the U.S. presidential election, “fake” news is thought to have influenced the outcome by possibly skewing public opinion regarding the candidates with a variety of stories ranging from somewhat believable to completely outrageous. In the aftermath of all this, Facebook, Google, and other search engines and social media platforms are promising to prevent fake news stories from bombarding the public.

However, it will probably be a bigger challenge to “fix” the fake news problem than these online platforms think. It’s easy enough use the label “fake news”, but what about sites like The Onion which are intended to be funny, not factual. Satirical sites are not intended to deceive people, but to entertain them. While these types of sites often bury the fact that they are providing satire, not real news within their about me page, the fact remains that they are not real news sites.

An example of how one satirical news site created a problem involved a New Zealand satire website called Spinner. This site published a satirical news story entitled “Bush to invade Kiribati islands”, which created widespread panic in the country because people who read the story feared an invasion by America.

The Onion doesn’t have an obvious disclaimer on their published content, but they do claim to have a readership of 4.3 trillion people, which is well over the world’s population. That should at least spark enough doubt to look it up on Wikipedia or Google.

The real problem is how often these stories are shared and how many people read the headline, overreact and share them like they are real news. Most people who “read” the story never get past the first paragraph, which means they also aren’t likely to do any real research.

The other side of the spectrum relates to the malicious clickbait sites designed specifically to generate click-throughs, and sales. They make sites that look like real mainstream sites so they seem credible, while they are just money-making sites. Google and Facebook already have initiatives in place to ban such sites.

Then there are gossip magazines that focus on stories about celebrities that may or may not be true. Some of celebrity news sites adhere to basic journalism, using multiple sources, and other kinds of evidence to support their stories. However, some of their stories may still be less than factual. They at least try to vet their stories, so perhaps they shouldn’t be labeled as fake news sites. Not all gossip, rumor, or satirical sites are used for deception.

There should be a way to categorize and flag these sites so people know they are rumor/gossip sites, satirical sites, or fake news sites so people have a clearer picture of what they are looking at before they believe it or even share it as real news.

What about news that people think is fake, but later turns out to be true? It happens with politics, government data, medical data, scientific data, and religious data. Consider Galileo in his day when his scientific findings were dismissed as false that were found to be true later.

Promising to ban fake news from social media and search engines is essentially a false promise. It isn’t possible to differentiate between fake news, bots (e.g. auto followers instagram bot)fiction, satire, gossip, rumors and truth. They can label click-bait sites, but defining “fake” news is another issue. A broader labeling scheme is needed to help people ascertain the difference between these sites because of the gray areas between them all.

 

How Does the Future of CIJ Technology Look?

How Does the Future of CIJ Technology Look?

Continuous Inkjet, also referred to as CIJ technology is one of two wildly popular and dominant technologies that are used today for industrial coding. CIJ is popular because it’s fast, low-maintenance, and very reliable. The advantages of CIJ printing technology are that it can be used on virtually any packaging material, on curved surfaces, and it adheres well to every material upon which it is used.

CIJ is one of the oldest and still most reliable printing technology to date. Whenever reliability, speed, accuracy, and flexibility are called for in printing, it’s the go-to tech.

 

How does CIJ work?

The basic process of CIJ printing begins when a stream of the appropriate ink is broken down into several miniscule droplets inside an electrically charged chamber. The electrical pulse comes from a non-conducting source like ceramic or a quartz crystal.

A vibration is applied to force the charged ink droplets to pass through an electrostatic field found between its deflector plates. The speed and charge applied helps with the proper positioning of the ink droplets that drop onto the substrate and stick to it. No part of the print head touches the substrate. Excess ink (where applicable) is recirculated and returned and stored in the appropriate tank to be used again.

Up to around 120,000 miniscule ink droplets, measuring around half the diameter of a single human hair, are propelled onto the substrate per second. That is one of the reasons it’s fast, efficient, versatile, and why the ink adheres so well to a wide range of surfaces.

The base solvent used in the CIJ process also allows the ink to dry quickly on production lines, which is crucial to productivity and quality. CIJ printers are capable of printing codes on almost any surface regardless of its shape, size, texture, or porosity.

 

How is CIJ used?

The primary purpose CIJ printing is used is for imprinting information on certain products like dates, batch codes, times, text, logos, and product names. It’s used to provide data on the product/package that can be used for tracing when needed and for compliance regarding mandatory laws and regulations.

CIJ printers can run for several hours before any servicing is necessary, which is better than other printing technologies. It’s a cost-effective solution that offers several diverse printing options for a wide variety of industries. Keeping costs down without affecting quality is important in the business world.

 

Where is CIJ used?

Industries that use CIJ printing technology include food and beverage, electronics, cosmetics, automobile construction, and numerous other industries where marking and coding is required by the government and other regulatory entities. CIJ has proven itself to be the simplest, most cost-effective and inexpensive, and reliable solution for several industrial applications since it can be used for coding and marking virtually any material, at any orientation or speed, and onto nearly any material regardless of the size, texture, or shape.

Continuous Inkjet printing technology has evolved and will continue to do so in the coming years. The basic premise of the printing process will likely remain the same, which means it will maintain its cost-effective and efficient status for years to come. It will continue to be popular and will likely expand its capabilities to more industries.

 

This article was contributed by Erryn Deane from Needham Ink. They manufacture and provide various types of industrial ink.

VMware: Life after EMC

VMware: Life after EMC

When EMC acquired VMware in 2007 waves were made in the technology world, primarily in the server sector.  VMware, after all, was by far the best in show when it came to cloud and virtualisation software and services.  It was a no brainer for EMC, who is a prominent player in the server build space.  The acquisition made EMC a power player in the cloud and virtual space overnight.  But in August of 2016 another such momentous occasion took place.  EMC bolstered by its VMware arm came face to face with one of the tech world’s biggest giants; Dell.

 

Dell has had a storied rise in both business and popularity ever since it was conceived by its owner and founder, Michael Dell.  After a 3-year hiatus from the company, Dell (the man) returned as the head of Dell in 2007 and the company has been on an upward trajectory ever since.  Dell (the company) has basically revolutionised the way consumers and businesses looked at their computer hardware.  Giving their customers the ability to customise their machines in the most hassle free way possible.  This, along with strategic partnerships, advanced marketing techniques and overhauling distribution practices, catapulted the company into the hardware giant it is today.  That’s why the $67 billion (USD) merger of Dell and EMC (the largest in history) is so significant.

 

More than just the mind-boggling dollar figure, the merger turned the hardware giant in Dell into a cloud and virtualisation powerhouse overnight, in a move reminiscent of EMC’s initial acquisition of VMware just under a decade ago.  The banner of EMC2 fell on September 27, 2016 and has forever been replaced by the trademark Dell’s logo, but what does this merger mean for the future of VMware, and more importantly what role will it play in Dell’s current environment?

 

 

According to both entities, the future is brighter for both VMware and Dell, that is after the initial hysteria and uncertainty.  Stock prices of both companies fluctuated significantly once the merger was announced.  Employees, managers and shareholders were unsure of what was to come next.  However, as the hours and days passed, official news and plans were revealed regarding the direction of both companies, and the market seemed to react positively.  Stock prices climbed back up and, if the trend holds, will surpass the pre-merger price in the coming months ahead.

 

For VMware, flying under the banner of Dell gives them much needed stability and reach.  Keep in mind, that VMware is a relatively young company when compared to the likes of EMC, Dell and Microsoft.  It has undergone and, in some case still is undergoing, growing pains.  With Dell’s guidance and backing, VMware can focus on growth and development without having to worry too much about mitigating the risk of both.  Dell’s enormous rolodex of clients (which is continuously growing thanks to Dell’s business development efforts) has been opened to VMware which exponentially increases their reach.  Remember that VMware is already in a class all its own when it comes to cloud and virtualisation services and this merger basically makes them almost untouchable.  Almost.  VMware CEO, Pat Gelsinger, was quick to admit that the only other competition out there is Microsoft with their Azure Stack fronted by Hyper-V.

 

But herein lies the rub.  Critics of the merger view Dell’s inextricable history with Microsoft as a potential for VMware’s downfall.  Almost since it started shipping out PC’s Dell has loaded them with Microsoft software.  For decades this has been standard operating procedure with each Dell box, laptop and server being powered or touched in some way by Microsoft.  Where then will Dell’s allegiance lie?  With its own product in VMware or with the company that it has partnered with for so long in Microsoft?

 

When it comes to server virtualisation it is almost an open and shut case with VMware dominating the market.  However, the emergence of the cloud space created a wrinkle in what was VMware’s absolute reign.  Microsoft’s cloud solution Azure is, for lack of a better term, blowing VMware’s solution, vCloud Air, out of the water.  To add fuel and confusion to the fire, Microsoft’s own CEO, Satya Nadella, posted a video stating that he acknowledges the merger but is looking forward to the continuous partnership that Dell and Microsoft has forged over the decades.  He also adds that Microsoft looks forward to expanding its cloud business with Dell.  In school yard parlance, they be fighting words.

 

So who does Dell ultimately side with.  With the merger, Dell now has a vested interest in the success of VMware.  However, in Microsoft resides a partnership spanning decades in which both companies have benefitted greatly.  VMware management has already stated that the merger will see a greater integration of VMware technology into Dell machines, but this will put Dell directly at odds with their decades long bedfellow in Microsoft.  The ball it seems is in Dell’s court, whether they like it or not.  Who will they back and who will they shun?  Turning their backs on Microsoft’s cloud solution may sour their relationship with software giant, but then again there are no “take-backs” when $67 billion worth of assets has already changed hands.

 

Pundits may argue that Dell may have got a bit more than they bargained for when they inked the EMC merger.  However, one thing is for certain, Dell got a bargain.  Oracle’s chairman Larry Ellison showed a bit of envy when discussing the merger, mentioning that were not Oracle already in the midst of developing their own cloud solution that they would have tried to outbid Dell to acquire EMC and VMware.  Dell and Ellison both believe that the acquisition was both logically and fiscally sound, and that the investment is very much worth it.  Dell is no longer the hardware giant of old.  With the undeniable might and power that it now possesses with the acquisition of VMware it has been transformed into a titan, something that is not often seen in any industry.

 

This article was contributed by David Share from Amazing Support. They provide IT Support in London and surrounding areas.

Marketing Trends for Startups You Need to Be Ready for in 2017

Marketing Trends for Startups You Need to Be Ready for in 2017

Startups face challenges in marketing that create a scalable business. It’s important to be informed and learn as much as possible before building your marketing plan for a startup. The initial goal is to make an impression with customers in the early stages of startups because that one factor can make or break your startup.

PR experts say that one way to lower your risk is to know and understand the essentials of the marketing landscape and how it’s changing. The following will discuss five primary marketing trends startups need to know for 2017.

Essential Video Marketing
It cannot be stressed enough. Video marketing is an essential strategy you need to include in your marketing toolbox. It’s as essential to marketers as hammer and nails are to carpenters. Video marketing is already trending, but it will continue to grow in the future. Many brands have reported a 300 percent click-through rate from marketing emails using video. Videos allow you to say more in a shorter amount of time than reading content.

Millennials and Experience-Based Marketing
Now that Millennials are the largest portion of today’s workforce, it’s important to be market to them. Millennials prefer to spend their money on experiences over getting a good deal. They are less interested in saving money for retirement than they are about taking a trip around the world. The best way to find out what your customer base wants to ask them. Take the time to ask.

Think Long-Term Over Short-Term Marketing
Marketers have been making the mistake of focusing on the short-term successes instead of the long-term in recent years. The whole idea of short-term success has fallen to the wayside to make way for long-term marketing and success. Don’t fail to market for future success. Invest in building trust with consumers to be successful for the long haul.

Personalize Your Customer Experience in Marketing
Unless you’ve not been paying attention, you have seen how Amazon and Google have created personalized experiences for users. They are garnering a whole new world of loyalty with their personalization. It’s a good example to follow for your startup in the coming year.

Social Media Engagement Over Content Blasts Marketing
Social media marketing is no longer aligned with quick content blasts. Instead, users expect to engage with brands. If you’re sharing and forgetting on social media, you’re not going to boost your brand. You’re not going to make sales. For instance, if you share a post and a follower comments or asks a question, you must respond to it in a thoughtful and personal way. It’s a basic essential of marketing that has fallen away until this new digital marketing age. Ask questions. Ask for comments. Engage with your followers and fans regularly.

Consider these five trends for your startup between now and 2017. They will benefit your brand beyond the year as you think long-term engagement and marketing. Forget about thinking only about the next six months and start thinking about the next two years when you’re developing your marketing strategies.

25 Things you didn’t know about Laser Technology

25 Things you didn’t know about Laser Technology

Laser cutting (engraving) has been in use for about 50 years. This technology has given businesses that use engraving, personalization, design, wood cutting, etching, and other like industries a faster, more efficient, precise, and easier way to manufacture handmade products and to mark products. Laser engraving and cutting technology is used for a multitude of tasks in a wide range of industries. Here are some interesting facts about laser technology, lasers, and laser engraving/cutting machines.

  1. The word laser isn’t just something some person made up. It’s an acronym for “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation”.
  2. Laser history can be tracked back to Einstein’s theory of light emission from 1916.
  3. Laser technology was born at Bell Labs in 1959.
  4. The term “a laser” is incorrectly used. There are several types of lasers used for various applications and purposes. Essentially they all work the same, but they differ in features and other attributes.
  5. Maser technology preceded laser technology. Maser is short for “microwave amplification by stimulated emission of radiation”. This technology was also created using Einstein’s theory and was used in atomic clocks.
  6. The earliest versions of laser technology were used to engrave wood and in 1965, the first laser cutter was used to drill holes in diamonds.
  7. Laser measuring is extremely precise and is accurate within a nanometer (a billionth of a meter).
  8. The world’s most powerful laser contains the power of a hydrogen bomb.
  9. Gillettes is not just a razor blade, but the unit upon which early lasers were measured for strength. The reason it named the measurement units in Gillettes is that it counted the number of razor blades the laser beam could cut through.
  10. The breathalyzer medical device uses laser technology to detect diabetes and cancer.
  11. The light beams of lasers are more parallel than any type of light source. Every part of each beam has the identical direction, which means the chance of divergence is low.
  12. You have probably seen laser tools in home improvement stores.
  13. During the Apollo 11 space mission, astronauts measured the distance between the moon and the earth. The readings were accurate within a mere finger’s width.
  14. Supermarket barcode scanners use laser technology and were used commercially for the first time in 1974.
  15. Laser engraving technology is used on a wide range of materials to create beautiful artwork and to personalize jewelry.
  16. The same kind of lasers used for engraving are also used in hair removal and for killing tumors.
  17. When you use a fingerprint scanner at work or in law enforcement offices, you are being scanned by a laser beam. Nowadays, these fingerprints are stored in large databases.
  18. Lasers are categorized into different classes according to the level of danger they pose. The range is one through five. Five is so dangerous that it can burn skin or cause permanent blindness.
  19. Laser tag, considered a fun thing to do among friends and family, was first used in the 1970s to train US Army troops as a non-lethal training program.
  20. Lasers are used in dentistry for quick and virtually painless cavity removal.
  21. Studies are being done to show that broken bones can now be healed faster using highly focused laser beams. This has not been introduced to the general public or for standard medical treatments.
  22. A tiny laser beam is powerful enough to etch the serial number on a diamond, considered the hardest natural substance known to man.
  23. Laser marking has become a popular industry that continues to grow. The use of lasers in this case is for the permanent marking of plastic, leather, metal, and other materials.
  24. Some industries that use laser marking include automotive, medical, diamond, personalization, and product marking,
  25. Today’s laser machines can be programmed for engraving and cutting using software designed to work with the technology.

These are just a few interesting facts about laser engraving technology that most people don’t know about. How many did you know?


This article was supplied by Erryn Deane from Needham Coding.

A look at the future of marketing in 2020

A look at the future of marketing in 2020

The future. While the average person lives mostly in the present, marketers are always thinking about the future. They study, research, and watch the current trends in order to try to predict future trends.

Marketers and PR firms become preoccupied with wondering what the next campaign will be available for their clients and what newest trend will fit with their campaigns. They keep their clients in the loop and let them in on the next big thing. In other words, they have their fingers on the pulse of current and up-and-coming trends.

Now, if you’re new to marketing, it’s harder to suddenly get into the same mode as an expert, veteran marketer like Jeff Beer, who shared 25 future trends that he believes will change the face of marketing over the next five years. Based off what Jeff said, here are 10 trends that are likely to make a splash in the future of marketing.

  1. Mobile-friendly devices will become the focus of marketing. It’s pretty obvious from watching how smart watches, smartphones, tablets, and general wearable technology grow in the current marketplace that this will become the primary focus for marketing. That means it’s time to ramp up strategies for mobile marketing that will fit on those smaller screens.
  2. Social media will be the primary venue for marketing. The Internet made its big splash only a few decades ago, but social media is still a relatively new marketing arena. However, in the next five years, social media marketing will be the primary focus for brand-building, selling, and garnering interest for your clients.
  3. Genuine brands and honest relationships. We live in an era where people are too smart to be taken in by certain kinds of old-school marketing tactics. They want to know a brand is real, genuine, honest, and transparent about their products. Transparency and honesty is the future of marketing brands.
  4. User-generated content will make a bit splash. You’re already seeing this on social media channels now. People comment, blog, share, chat, and go live with videos with brand reviews. It’s this kind of content that will start to drive brand marketing. These are the people you want to engage with as this happens.
  5. Good quality content will always be king. It’s been said that content is king, and that concept will never change. Over the next five years, the need for good content will continue to grow. There is nothing to slow it down. It will be the most amazing content that will create successful campaigns.
  6. Brands will claim their audiences. The future of marketing will embrace the cultivation of community and conversation between brands and their customers. This will give brands the edge in creating loyal customers and brand advocates. In essence, they will own their audience. They will pay more attention to what customers are saying, commenting, reviewing, chatting, video sharing, and blogging in an effort to build a sense of community for happy, satisfied customers.
  7. Metrics accuracy will emerge in the marketing arena. Vanity metrics include social media metrics like tweets, shares, and likes. Marketers use these metrics to measure how well their marketing strategies are working; or not. While this is okay for now, the future holds a new set of metrics that we can use to analyze and gauge campaign success.
  8. Millennial-focused marketing will fade away. This is a trend that is easily predicted because as generations evolve, they change, which means marketing has to change with generations. Right now, we see millennials as today’s youth, but in the next five years, there will be a new generation that will require that you change your marketing strategies to stay in the game.
  9. Data-driven marketing will be more precise. Since the future of marketing will embrace relationships between brands and audiences, personalized data-driven marketing must be precise. Salesy, pushy marketing will become passé and be replaced with data-driven, transparent marketing. Marketers that fail to get into this mode of marketing will get forced out.
  10. To be a good brand you will have to act like a product, not a service based company. What? Service companies tend to cater to customer satisfaction and happiness. It’s how they retain them and get referrals. However, in the future, that personal touch and customer satisfaction won’t be enough. It will never go out of style, but companies will have to be as innovative in what they offer as how they cater to their customers.

These are the 10 trends that are most likely to make an impact on future marketing strategies and brands. Let this soak in, study it, and start thinking of ways to use this information to the benefit of your current clients. Have a Hangout or Skype meeting and discuss this with them. Whatever you do, don’t ignore the signs of the future.

The Future of Ransomware

The Future of Ransomware

Insiders, experts, and pundits have weighed in on the future of ransomware.  Sorry to say, but it is looking pretty bleak.  The already potent attack vector is still roaming around unchallenged.  Poor defenses, gaping vulnerabilities and current data handling practices still puts thousands of businesses at risk every day.  Cybercriminals are exploiting some of the most basic crutches of businesses like lack of budget and technical know-how to maximise the amount of damage they can do while simultaneously maximising the amount of money they can extort from businesses and individuals alike.

 

Budget is a key issue when dealing with ransomware.  The sad truth is that the vast majority of businesses have and will continue to underestimate the amount of money that should be dedicated to building an air tight security system.  Instead businesses have mostly been acting on a reactionary basis.  This may be a logical when taking a “fix only what is broken approach”, but it’s different when a company’s systems are actively being breached by a criminal.  The criminals are not there to merely cause havoc to a system, they are usually looking to extract data.  Once a system has been penetrated by a ransomware attacker it is too late.

 

Businesses who lack the technically proficient employees required to keep up with the ever evolving attack methods of cybercriminals undoubtedly have massive gaps in their security systems.  Sure, once upon a time, their systems may have been state of the art (most likely when they purchased them), however as time goes on new exploits are created by attackers, the security community responds by creating updates and patches, and this is where businesses often fall short.  Often times businesses lack the in-house talent to properly install and implement these patches and updates (ironically the vast majority of these are free to download).  The gaps in security created by unpatched software only gets bigger over time and makes a breach all but inevitable.

 

While businesses need to step up their security game in a big way, there is still the other side of the equation that must be considered.  Ransomware attackers are nothing if not efficient.  They do not rest on their laurels.  They know that the majority of businesses are ill equipped to handle their type of attack and are prolific at coming up with new methods of penetration, information gathering and infection.  By the looks of it, ransomware attacks are changing and evolving even as you read this.  In the past, cybercriminals have relied on a less efficient way of distributing their exploits.  Using a “spray and pray” approach using mass phishing campaigns, the attackers would send out loaded emails to as many people within businesses as they can, in the hopes that one or more of these unsuspecting employees will open the email and download the attached file in which a malware or Trojan has been embedded.  Even though ransomware attackers have extorted countless millions using this methodology, they have deemed it far too inefficient and are starting to convert their tactics to that resembling a sniper.

 

This time around the weapon of choice will not be a widely distributed email or exploit, but will be a highly dedicated, highly focused self-propagating ransomware.  It has been dubbed a cryptoworm and it is a really, really big problem for those concerned with system security everywhere.  Self-propagating ransomware is not new, certain aspects of it have been used in attacks for nearly a decade now, but in cryptoworms this technology and method has been distilled and refined.  Cryptoworms not only have the ability to infiltrate a system and move within it vertically, but it also has the ability to move across systems laterally using a code and infiltration methods similar to those seen in Conficker and SQL Slammer worms.

While these two exploits are considered by many in the industry to be “old school” methods (Conficker was active in 2008, while SQL Slammer was causing a mess since 2003), they attack vectors are still potent due to the gaping, unpatched loopholes found in systems of many businesses.  It seems that ransomware attackers are familiar with the old adage “don’t reinvent the wheel”, because they are now repurposing old, yet highly efficient, threats and baking them in to new exploits like cryptoworms.

 

 

This article was contributed by David Share from Amazing Support. They provide IT Support in London and surrounding areas.

7 Trends Impacting the Future of Spinal Surgery

7 Trends Impacting the Future of Spinal Surgery

Here are seven trends making a huge impact on the future of spine surgery.
1. Transition to minimally invasive surgery gaining ground. While minimally invasive techniques for spine surgery have been around for more than a decade, they are only now gaining traction among surgeons and patients across the country. More patients are demanding these less invasive techniques, and for some techniques outcomes data shows better short term and positive long term results. These factors are driving more surgeons to learn minimally invasive surgery during their fellowships or take time out of their practice to train in the technique.

“More surgeons are performing minimally invasive spine surgery and it’s becoming more of the standard than it has been in the past,” says Joseph M. Zavatsky, MD, section chief of orthopedic spine at Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans. “I think the old guard is starting to see the benefits of minimally invasive surgery as more data is being published in the peer reviewed literature.”

In the past, some surgeons have been reluctant to support minimally invasive procedures, but as clinical outcomes are proving the same or better the focus has shifted to the cost and quality benefits. Minimally invasive procedures have been shown to decrease hospital stays by anywhere from one to three days, decrease operating time and blood loss.

“If you aren’t doing minimally invasive surgery today, your practice may suffer,” says Dr. Zavatsky. “Patients are much more informed and they are coming into doctor’s offices asking for it specifically. It’s definitely coming of age and as we get more and more data about the safety, effectiveness and benefits of the these procedures and more surgeons gain more experience with these techniques, patients will ultimately benefit.”

However, not all techniques described as “minimally invasive” have been proven in the literature, and not all conditions can be treated in a less invasive procedure. “I think it’s important to ensure that minimally invasive spine surgery doesn’t mean less effective surgery,” says Sanjay K. Khurana, MD, an orthopedic spine surgeon at DISC Sports and Spine Center in Marina del Rey, Calif. “It still means maximally effective spine surgery and the goals of an effective spine surgery are accomplished.”

2. Lateral technique shows a lot of promise.
While it’s still relatively new to the spine world, the lateral approach to surgery has shown a great deal of promise in treating several spinal conditions. “The reason it has become so transformative has been because it’s truly taking a procedure that has required hospitalization to one we can routinely do in an outpatient environment,” says Dr. Khurana. “It has been even more effective than existing procedures for achieving lumbar fusion.”

Even though surgeons go through a small incision for the lateral approach, they are able to put in a larger cage than with other minimally invasive approaches. The lateral incision also allows surgeons to avoid disrupting the patient’s back muscles, which makes the procedure generally less painful for patients.

“Unlike traditional surgery, where collateral damage from spine surgery can be worse than the condition itself, the lateral approach allows the benefits of fusion to be realized less invasively, more effectively, and efficiently,” says Dr. Khurana. “This approach positions the graft, which his much larger, but without the musculature disruption of the traditional approach.”

3. More powerful microscopes continually enhance visualization.
More powerful microscopes are continuously being developed to give surgeons a better view of the surgical site with minimal disruption of the patient’s anatomy. Coupled with the lateral procedure, these microscopes can make a big impact on the surgical experience.

“Enhanced by microscopic visualization that allows for more predictable placement of the graft, we can demonstrate that the lateral approach is highly effective and that will likely gather momentum in the future,” says Dr. Khurana. “I think the microscopic enhanced lateral psoas approach is going to be a game changer in our practice. It’s effective for patients because it doesn’t require any division of muscles around the spine.”

Like minimally invasive surgical approaches, learning to use these microscopes does take time and effort, but can easily be incorporated into a practice. “Microscopic lateral approach is readily teachable, reproduced and should be part of the spine surgeon’s armamentarium,” says Dr. Khurana.

4. Less invasive surgeries for deformity correction.
The minimally invasive approach has moved past the more simple spinal procedures and now even spinal deformity corrections have less invasive options than in the past.

“Utilizing minimally invasive techniques for deformity correction may allow you to offer patients options other than the standard open posterior deformity correction and fusion procedures which are often associated with increased blood loss,” says Dr. Zavatsky. “The risk of the increased blood loss may often prevent surgeons from offering large deformity procedures to patients, especially highrisk patients with medical comorbidities. But minimally invasive techniques can be utilized in these complex deformity patients providing an alternative way to address their pathology that is safer and more well tolerated. We can provide a safer solution to patient’s complex spinal problems in an attempt to make their quality of life better.”

There is a learning curve to the minimally invasive procedures for deformity correction that initially makes operating time longer, but in the long run it will make a difference on in your practice

“There is a steep learning curve when it comes to utilizing minimally invasive procedures to correct complex spinal deformity pathology and can initially make operating room times longer, but in the long run it can make a significant difference in patient care and ultimately in your practice,” says Dr. Zavatsky. “If indicated, I always try and use these minimally invasive techniques because of these benefits. The learning curve is steep, but after you do several cases and become more comfortable and efficient with these techniques, I feel it’s a game changer.”

5. More surgeons enrolling in minimally invasive cadaver labs.
There are several new minimally invasive techniques brought forth by different companies and spine surgeons are able to compare them side by side at cadaver labs during events such as the Society for Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery annual meeting.

“The SMISS meeting is a great opportunity for spine surgeons to get their feet wet and get exposed to these procedures and the supporting literature that’s out there,” says Dr. Zavatsky. “Surgeons can interact with nationally and internationally respected spine surgeons and ask questions about how to approach different problems and avoid complications. It’s a great forum for surgeons to interact and learn.”

Surgeons can also shadow experienced spine surgeons to watch the procedures in action and learn how to use new equipment for the technique.

“Some surgeons are very open to allowing you to come into their OR and watch these surgeries,” says Dr. Zavatsky. “My operating room is always open to visiting surgeons and I truly enjoy sharing my experiences with MIS. But you also need the experience of the cadaver lab because minimally invasive procedures are a totally different animal when compared to traditional open surgery. You have to visualize things three-dimensionally and spatially know where you are. Cadaver courses and visiting an experienced surgeon’s OR are two great ways to become more comfortable with this procedure and technology.”

6. Motion preservation with disc arthroplasty preformed in outpatient settings.
Surgeons and device companies have had developed cervical disc arthroplasty procedures as an alternative to spinal fusion and proven their effectiveness, but insurance companies are still hesitant to reimburse for these surgeries.

“Motion preservation and disc arthroplasty are areas that show promise for the future,” says Dr. Khurana. “I have found that cervical arthroplasty is more predictable and has less of a downside than lumbar disc replacement. We can do some procedures in the outpatient surgery center that were traditionally done in the hospital.”

Artificial discs continue to advance and companies are producing new innovations in this area, but insurance company coverage and approval remains an issue in this area.

7. Biologics and stem cells will have a place in the future.
Biologic solutions are intriguing for spine surgery, but in most cases they are still in the developmental and experimental stage of utilization. Bone morphogenic proteins have been used to enhance fusion, but recent controversy about adverse events have prompted several surgeons to refine how they use BMPs.

“My personal practice is not to use BMP as much as I had in the past and reserving it only for high risk cases,” says Dr. Khurana. “Instead, I think biologics, including mesenchymal rich solutions — like OsteoCell or Trinity used with the iliac crest — will prevail.”

In the distant future, stem cells stand to play a big role in spinal health & care. “I think the final frontier is related more to stem cells than any other technique,” says Dr. Khurana. “Right now, there isn’t very good scientific knowledge to suggest stem cells are superior to traditional techniques, but I think they will have a role to play in the future.”

However, this future is still a far way off and we should expect fusions to remain popular. “Fusion still plays a very important role and will continue to play an important role for years to come, until we can develop ways to biologically treat disc degeneration and instability, fusion will remain a mainstay of treatment,” says Dr. Khurana. “For the next decade, optimizing lumbar fusion with a minimal downside and risk, and maximizing the upside of recovery and return to activity, are the key things people should focus on.”


Article source: http://www.beckersspine.com/spine/item/13703-7-trends-impacting-the-future-of-spinal-surgery.html

What is the Future of Mixed Martial Arts in the Olympics?

What is the Future of Mixed Martial Arts in the Olympics?

The first Olympic games were held in honor of Zeus in Olympia with only runners for spectators to watch. As the decades passed, various sports were added to the Olympics with only a few rules to follow. After all, spectators wanted to see something spectacular. The ancient Olympic games were more about hand-to-hand, performance, and endurance based sports. It was not like we watch today.

It’s ultimately up to the committees to choose what sport gets included or excluded. It’s basically a bureaucracy that would replace Olympic wrestling with Olympic cooking as long as it ramped up sales. The MMA is a dominant global sports industry seeking to be recognized by the Olympics.

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is a modern, popular, mainstream sports industry that brings back the nature of that ancient fighting spirit that many sports are lacking today. In part, the popularity of MMA is due to its introduction on reality TV in shows like “The Ultimate Fighter”. Because of this show, the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) hosts 30 events per year that extends to 145 countries in 354 million homes.

 

Premise of the Olympics

The basic premise of the Olympics is to allow athletes to show off what they can do, how much they can endure, and what they body is capable of. Olympic sports test the agility, speed, endurance, and prowess of the athletes. The downsides to these events include things like runners who take drugs to win and prepubescent gymnasts that suffer major injuries during training and compete in great pain. It seems as if the Olympics have turned into some kind of traveling sideshow of performers rather than real sporting events. The MMA would be a great addition to the true purpose of the Olympics over the sports that have been featured over the past 20 plus years.

 

The Cult Nature of the Spectators

The basic spectator today is the average Western population, who mostly gather to watch the Olympics and eat junk food and drink beer. For those who don’t care about sports, the Olympics are boring and antiquated. Millennials have little interest in the Olympics.

 

MMA in the Mix

There is a powerful argument for the inclusion of Mixed Martial Arts in the Olympics.  Professionals in the industry believe that MMA would boost the relevance of the Olympics in today’s world. MMA embraces various forms of hand-to-hand combat, including wrestling, boxing, Brazilian jiu jitsu, kung fu, and other Asian martial arts. It’s the epitome of the Olympic ideal in that the winner takes all, while the loser goes down. MMA isn’t known for attracting more boring spectators like today’s Olympics.

Eventually, MMA will be featured in the Olympics. It has its own fan base and embodies the very essence of the Olympics. Martial Arts training is mastered through hard work, perseverance, and difficult life lessons. It takes years to master the discipline and art of Martial Arts. MMA overall would be an improvement over what is now seen in the Olympics.