Increasing Understanding of Technology and Communication

Best Personal Websites for Design Inspiration

Best-Personal-Websites

Here are 25 of the best personal websites for design inspiration.

Personal websites can be used for promotion, job searches, personal branding, creative expression, or just for communication. These personal websites can often serve as a publishing platform with more freedom than social networks or corporate sites. Personal websites also allow the owner to change directions easily if their interests or purpose for the site changes at some point in the future.

In this post features 25 of the best personal websites from around the net. This showcase presents a variety of different design styles. Some are minimal and clean, some use bright and vibrant colors, and others use more artistic and eye-catching designs.

Different kinds of websites have different purposes depending on who the intended audience is. Some websites are geared towards selling products and other websites are geared towards providing practical information, while others are merely for entertainment. Let’s take a look at some of the different types of websites that are out there.

The Purpose of Informative / Practical Information Websites

The purpose of an information centric website is to convey specific, helpful information to a specific user/audience so that the reader learns something new or understands a topic better. These websites are geared around more actionable information and may contain “how to’s”, tips and tricks, fix and repair, guidance, support information, directions, instructions, etc.

The Purpose of Entertainment Websites

These websites showcase entertaining information for visitors. Online magazines, gossip oriented websites, celebrity news, sports coverage, movies, the arts, humorous websites, etc. These websites are designed to be easy to navigate and frequently updated in order to keep users coming back for more information. They can be made more engaging by using dynamic content, such as videos, podcasts, slideshows, etc.

The Purpose of E-Commerce Websites

The purpose of e-commerce websites are to sell products to users. The most successful websites are carefully optimized to achieve a high percentage of purchases. To achieve success e-commerce websites need to integrate all of the latest online closing & upsell techniques available which have been proven to increase the chances that a visitor will purchase. There are many important elements that go into building a successful e-commerce website such as removing friction during the purchasing process, making the checkout smooth and easy, making the website fast and attractive, up selling users on related products, incentivizing buyers, reducing cart abandonment, nurturing past buyers to buy again, remarketing to past visitors who haven’t yet purchased, using the proper payment options, having a mobile ready design, etc., etc.

The Purpose of Service-Based Business Websites

The purpose of a service-based business website is to convince website visitors that they should become customers of the service company. This is done by positioning the company as a dependable, trust worthy and experienced service provider in the target market.

Visitors will pre-screen potential service providers by reviewing their websites before they make any phone calls. During this process, they are trying to find the best company that will meet their specific needs. They are trying to ascertain how expert the company is, the quality of the work they will receive, whether the provider has a good reputation and how long the company has been in business. Visitors can be helped by providing them with information and articles which demonstrate your knowledge, a visual portfolio of your work, videos, customer testimonials and so on.

The Purpose of Blogs

The purpose of a blog is to provide a regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style. Blogs can be started up very easily online using a number of free services, such as wordpress.com. There are many personal and professional blogs out there that are entertaining to read and which give a very personal insight into a person’s life. Blogs can be for entertainment purposes or used as an online journal or used by companies to keep their customers abreast of what is going on. The hallmark of a blog is that it’s very easy for an untrained person to maintain with little to no technical knowledge.

The Purpose of Social Media Websites

The purpose of social media websites are to make it very easy to share and connect with friends, family, co-workers, acquaintances and even strangers. Social media websites make quick and easy work out of building up a network of connections so as to keep in touch, share daily experiences, photos, interests, preferences, etc. Social networks can be used for both personal and commercial purposes. Businesses use social networks to build direct connections with their customers which allows them to get feedback on their products and services and allows them to learn more about what their customers really need and want.

Read Article (Steven Snell | vandelaydesign.com | 02/11/2016)

Website design is limited only by your own imagination and we would be honored to provide you the tools & support to make imagination real.

Website: socialcitynethosting.com

Artificial Intelligence (AI) And Global Geopolitics

AI-And-Global-Geopolitics

Artificial Intelligence (AI), a top priority for the ubiquitous American tech companies, for Industry 4.0 or digital China, is already reshaping global business, but this major scientific and technological disruption will also deeply impact the relations between powers.

While narrow AI has moved from the labs to our daily lives, informed personalities like Stephen Hawking, Nick Bostrom, Bill Gates or Elon Musk have rightly raised concerns about the risks inherent to a strong AI capable of equaling or even surpassing human intelligence.

Anticipating the emergence of an even more powerful and increasingly autonomous AI reinforced by quantum computing, these engaged voices are asking for a collective reflection upon what could constitute an external challenge to mankind, a technology which could dominate its creator.

The recent win of the AlphaGo computer program over the Korean Go champion Lee Sedol was indeed a strong signal of the rapid development of machine learning at the intersection of computer science and neuroscience.

However, a more immediate danger connected with the advancement of intelligent machines is an AI fracture enlarging what is already known as the digital divide. While AI’s algorithms and big data increase the productivity of a small segment of the global village, half of the world population still does not have access to internet. “Don’t be evil” can be Google’s slogan, but exponential technologies carry with them the risks of unprecedented inequalities.

While AI’s social and political effects are often discussed the geopolitical implications of the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” have been surprisingly absent from the public debates.

How AI could affect the Sino-Western relations and, more specifically, the Sino-American relations, the major determinant of today’s international order? For decades, nuclear weapons stood as the frightening symbols of the Cold War, will AI become the mark of a 21st century Sino-Western strategic antagonism?

For humanity, the atomic age has been a time of paradoxes. In the aftermath of the 1945 Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombings an arms race involving the most lethal weapons defined the U.S.-Soviet relations in what constituted also a permanent existential threat to human civilization. But, analysts will also argue that it is the Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) doctrine acting as a deterrent among rational actors which prevented a direct conflict between the two superpowers.

As the 2015 Plan of Action for Iran’s nuclear program demonstrates, 70 years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, world powers actively collaborate to avoid nuclear proliferation even if North Korea appears to be a counter example of this dominant trend.

But the Sino-Western convergence of views on the issue of nuclear proliferation does not apply in the cyberspace. Despite a certain level of interconnection between some private Chinese and American internet companies and financial institutions, the overall Sino-American relations in the cyberspace are characterized by strategic mistrust.

Besides, in space science and in the exploration of the universe, the U.S. and China are unfortunately following two separate courses. While China prepares to operate her own modular space station, the International Space Station (ISS) shows that in this strategic field the West can work with Russia but that Sino-Western synergies are almost impossible to reach.

Any responsible approach to AI has to take into account the combined lessons of the atomic age, of the digital dynamics and of the space exploration. Should a Western AI and a Chinese AI develop on two separate trajectories one would dangerously increase the risks of creating an irreversible Sino-Western strategic fracture for AI does not increase power in a limited quantitative manner but it modifies its nature.

In this context and following the appreciation of the interactions between AI and global politics an International Artificial Intelligence Agency should be established inspired by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

It is in the “Atoms for Peace” address to the United Nations General Assembly that U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969) proposed in 1953 the creation of the IAEA. Today, our actions must be guided by the spirit of “AI for Mankind”.

A United Nations International Artificial Intelligence Agency involving academics, private businesses, the world civil society and, of course, the governments should at least give itself the following four objectives.

  • First, it has to create the conditions for AI’s awareness across our societies and for a debate to take place on AI’s ethical implications. Scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, legal experts, philosophers, economists have to analyze AI from all possible angles, its future(s), its potential effects for humanity.
  • Second, this international body should take all possible actions to prevent an AI fracture which would dangerously enlarge the digital divide. One can’t accept to have, on one side, a tiny segment of humanity making use of a series of Human Enhancement Technologies (HET) and, on the other side, the vast majority of the world population becoming de facto diminished, what transhumanism revealingly abbreviates as H+ can’t be a plus for a few and a minus for all the others.
  • Third, the agency should ask for transparency in the AI research at both the governmental and the company level. The issue of nuclear proliferation and therefore the creation of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) followed the secretive Manhattan Project and the use of nuclear bombs to end the war in the Pacific, if humanity really wants to protect itself from the military use of strong AI and its tragic consequences it has to define a set of rules and policies which would maintain research within reasonable and collectively accepted limits. The IAEA imperfectly manages an existing threat; the AI agency would aim at preventing the realization of what could be an even greater danger.
  • Fourth, an international AI body should encourage knowledge sharing and international cooperation. Elon Musk’s OpenAI initiative is certainly a constructive force encouraging openness and collaboration but the “AI for Mankind” ideal cannot depend only on a group of private entrepreneurs.

Artificial Intelligence, more than any other technology, will impact the future of mankind, it has to be wisely approached on a quest toward human dignity and not blindly worshiped as the new Master of a diminished humanity, it has to be a catalyst for more global solidarity and not a tyrannical matrix of new political or geopolitical divisions.

Read Article (David Gosset | huffingtonpost.com | 06/29/2016)

Make no mistake, the era when AI and the Quantum Computer initiate their combined evolution, they will pose the greatest challenge to humanity it has yet experienced. Humanity’s approach to this era is truly “A child playing with a bomb”.

There are those of us that have been screaming warnings and developing platforms for preparation, but at this moment society appears to be fixated on watching digital evolution become self-aware right in front of them. And do nothing!

To act after the fact, is basically an exercise in futility.

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Older Workers Being Thrown Under the Bus

Older-Workers

Uh-oh. American workers aged 50 or older think there’s nearly a 1 in 2 chance they’ll still be working at 70 but many employees who expect to work longer are exactly the ones who’ll likely be least able to do so.

That’s the upshot of the new, frightening (for employees and employers) 2015/2016 Global Benefits Attitudes Survey by Willis Towers Watson, a global benefits advisory consultant. The firm surveyed 5,083 U.S. employees at large companies, as well as roughly 25,000 employees in 18 other countries.

The workers expecting to keep plugging away until 70, the study discovered, are often “the most vulnerable” and “showing higher levels of stress, lower levels of health and lower levels of engagement with their current jobs,” says Shane Bartling, senior consultant at Willis Towers Watson.

“That’s an uncomfortable fact for employees facing a very difficult situation and it sends a warning sign to employers about what’s transpiring in the new retirement system in the United States that we’ve put in place,” Bartling adds.

The survey says …

According to the survey, of those planning to retire after 70:

  • Only 47% say they are in very good health
  • 40% feel they are stuck in their jobs (compared with 27% who plan to retire before 65)
  • 40% have high or above average stress (compared with 30% of those expecting to retire at 65)
  • 48% of workers earning below $35,000 expect to work to 70 or later (vs. 20% of those making $75,000 or more)

And if these vulnerable workers find themselves out of work, but wanting to be employed, the psychological effects — not to mention the financial ones — could be devastating.

As New School economist Teresa Ghilarducci just wrote, according to the government’s Health and Retirement Study of older Americans, “unemployed respondents were more likely than both workers and retirees to report a general feeling of helplessness. Among 55- to 64-year-olds, 40% of the unemployed agreed with the statement, ‘I often feel helpless in dealing with the problems of life.’” By contrast, only 8% of retirees and 16% of older workers felt that way.

Bartling worries (as do I) that many of the older, vulnerable workers have meager retirement savings and “don’t have options.” The question, says Bartling, “is how are they going to be able to continue working?”

Painful decisions ahead

And how will this play out for them? “These employees may be confronted with very painful decisions around having to adjust their lifestyle expectations in retirement and fall back on family and the social safety net in a bigger way than they had hoped,” says Bartling.

I’d like to see more employers taking more action to prevent this coming train wreck. It’s true that growing numbers of firms — especially large ones — are offering financial wellness and physical wellness programs, which is reason for some optimism.

Last year, a survey of 250 employers by the Aon Hewitt benefits consulting firm, said 93% of those firms planned to focus more on financial wellness for employees in ways extending beyond retirement decisions. Aon Hewitt’s Director of Retirement Research, Rob Austin, called financial wellness ‘sort of The Next Big Trend’ in benefits. Says Bartling: “We’re certainly seeing an increase in the attractiveness of financial planning support.”

Exactly how much good financial wellness programs do, however, is an open question, since the programs vary dramatically in how they work and who participates in them. “Many of those programs struggle to fully engage employees and get desirable outcomes,” says Bartling. “Now, the emphasis is on how to amplify those interventions, akin to financial biometrics.”

The success of physical wellness programs at work has been a mixed bag, too. Although 81% of larger companies now offer physical wellness programs, according to a 2015 survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, health writer Sharon Begley recently wrote on the excellent Stat website that “there is a startling lack of rigorous evidence that they achieve their stated goals.”

But Bartling says: “It’s incumbent for all employers to understand how extensive [financial stress] is in the workforce. That’s only just beginning to happen.”

The state of retirement unreadiness

I asked Bartling whether he thinks many workers really will need to hold down jobs until after 70, as one in four expect. “We’ve done retirement readiness analysis for nearly 100 employers in the United States and the statistics based on that are not dissimilar from the results in the employee’s survey,” he says.

However, Bartling adds, there’s a “wide distribution of retirement readiness within the workforce.” And no, it’s not that wealthier workers are necessarily better prepared financially than lower-income ones.

“Many employees at both ends are well-prepared and underprepared,” says Bartling. “There are many situations where higher-paid employees actually have a higher level of a lack of preparedness,” due to living beyond their means.

One other notable finding in the new Willis Towers Watson survey: The percentage of Americans who expect to retire after age 65 has fallen from 52% in 2013 to 46% now. That, Bartling says, is likely a reflection of the improving economy.

But the next recession will come sometime, so that falling percentage is likely to head right back up again when times get tougher.

Richard Eisenberg is the senior Web editor of the Money & Security and Work & Purpose channels of Next Avenue and Assistant Managing Editor for the site. He is the author of “How to Avoid a Mid-Life Financial Crisis” and has been a personal finance editor at Money, Yahoo, Good Housekeeping, and CBS Moneywatch. Follow him on Twitter @richeis315.

Read Article (Richard Eisenberg | msn.com | 06/18/2016)

As the digital era began, business support for employees was fading and the economic downturn just made thing worse as employees tried to provide benefits to their family.

Today businesses once again realize that to keep good employees they must provide family support or lose them to another company. (As if they didn’t know already?)

But, individuals must look-out for themselves, especially in the digital era, and hone their skills. Not only learning technical skills but life skills. Learn how to judge a company’s employee support program and how effective it is. Does the company have a high turnover rate? How much out of pocket for family benefits? How does their retirement program work? Is there a 401K and how does it work?

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Prognosis of Digital Literacy Going Forward

Digital-Literacy

As the Digital Era pushes on pass the success of the ubiquitous smartphone to whatever device is next on the horizon. So who’s to blame for this widespread lack of Digital Literacy results?

Is it the mobile industry as a whole? Is it government programs? Is it specific mobile device manufacturers? Or does it actually come down to the individual members of society?

Digital Literacy is effecting you and everyone in society at this very moment, to some degree. Just as mobile technology changed the very fabric of our daily lives so will Digital Literacy.

Technological Unemployment

Technological change doesn’t have to increase overall unemployment, even though some types of workers may temporarily lose their jobs.

For example, in 1800, the majority of British workers were employed in agriculture. Labor saving technology meant that food could be produced with less workers and so some agricultural laborers lost their jobs as farms used more machines.

However, as jobs were lost in agriculture, new jobs were created in producing machines.

Similarly, advances in computers and robots meant that firms could produce manufactured goods with fewer workers. The increased productivity in manufactured goods meant that the relative cost fell, giving more opportunities for people to work in the service sector.

Healthcare

Between 2010 and 2050, the senior population is expected to reach 88.5 million, or 20 percent of the U.S. population, greatly increasing the need for senior care.  Home health care will then become an even more significant element of the continuum of care.

The same technologies that revolutionized the commerce, transportation, and finance industries are bearing down on the $3 trillion healthcare industry, promising to simultaneously improve care while reducing costs. The scope of revolutionary technologies includes diagnostics and monitoring, wearable devices, telehealth, medical modeling, smart devices, data management, tracking and delivery, and much more.

But innovators won’t find the solutions without completely understanding the problem.

Hacking

We may have a new ally against the treat of hacking.  Watson, IBM's computer brain, has a lot of talents. It mastered "Jeopardy!," it cooks, plays chess, and even tries to cure cancer. But now, it’s training for a new challenge: Hunting hackers.

On Tuesday, IBM Security announced a new cloud-based version of the cognitive technology, dubbed “Watson for Cybersecurity.” In the fall, IBM will be partnering with eight universities to help get Watson up to speed by flooding it with security reports and data. If successful, the Digital Era would simply blossom.

Terrorism

Technology has proved to be a double-edge sword in the war on terror. Though it has aided the security forces in detecting and thwarting terrorist operations, it has, at the same time, helped terrorists wreak their evil handiwork. The fact is, to be effective terrorists must be digitally literate. A trait society must gain in order to identify and protect itself.

There are some things in life that one should be proactive about, the new entry in this list is Digital Literacy. This isn’t something you can refer to as “Just like riding a bike”, oh no, this requires continuous learning. For those that consider themselves tech-savvy today, may not be tomorrow.

What you know today, may be obsolete tomorrow (along with you!).

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Internet Access Not Technical but Civil Rights Issue

Civil-Rights-Issue

In major metropolitan areas across the U.S., unequal access to the Internet is cutting some people off from a better future. Many are also cut-off from learning how to fully utilize this marvel of the digital era. Citizens on the wrong side of the digital gap are losing out on economic, educational and social opportunities.

It’s not just a technical problem for the 21st century. “This is a civil rights issue,” said Bill Callahan, director of Connect Your Community.

“Low-income people, people with less than a high school education and older people are the groups in any population who are least likely to have an Internet connection at home,” he said.

Callahan’s group advocates for digital access and literacy in greater Cleveland and Detroit. In those cities — and others from Baltimore to New Orleans, from Miami to Glendale, Arizona — as many as 30 to 40 percent of residents can’t easily get online, according to 2013 data.

Rural areas have a fairly well-known set of digital access problems that include high cost and sluggish speeds due to the lack of broadband infrastructure. But in suburban and metro areas, libraries are typically cited as the saving grace for residents who lack online access at home.

That’s not good enough in our wired world. “If the best someone can do is point you to the library, that’s basically ‘separate but equal,’” said Callahan, making a pointed reference to the very argument that the Supreme Court once declared didn’t justify segregated schools.

In Detroit, nearly 40 percent of residents have no Internet service, not even via smartphones. That appalling rate was noted in a recent New York Times story detailing how the lack of access has stymied economic recovery for some people.

Detroit resident Julie Rice told the paper about her struggle to network, complete training videos and fill out online job applications with her limited connectivity. “I’ve come to believe Internet is a human right,” Rice said. “It’s clearly a huge disadvantage if you don’t have it.”

Underscoring the importance of universal access, the Federal Communications Commission last year declared that broadband service is a public utility akin to electricity or telephone service.

In all but the most rural areas, the problem isn’t a lack of infrastructure, said Callahan. As with so many other civil rights issues, the problem is economics. “The idea that you can’t get Internet connection in a city because there’s no Internet available is almost never true,” he said. “People can get AT&T DSL in their homes any place in Detroit — they just can’t afford it.”

Without the Internet, poor people can be stuck on the wrong side of the door to opportunity. “The 40-year-old guy who can’t apply for a job now because he can’t get online would have no problem 10 years ago,” Callahan said. “He can still do the job. All that’s changed is the system to get the job.”

This hypothetical man all too often gets blamed for not being employed. Yet Callahan said, “This is not a failure on his part.”

Robert Shimkoski of the Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation, which helps connect jobseekers with employers in that city, said a lack of Internet access can trap low-income people in a vicious cycle.

“It’s increasingly difficult to find an employer who will take a physical application over an online app,” Shimkoski said. “And if you can’t get online, you can’t get the resources to understand where you can go to get that connection to help.”

Callahan said Internet access rates have remained largely the same in the two years since the U.S. Census Bureau last released figures. But the digital divide keeps getting wider, he said, as more systems across every industry — from health care to education — go completely online.

For example, Callahan cited a major change to the GED that went into effect in 2014. In theory, the second chance at a high school diploma can be a lifeline for struggling Americans. But now, he said, “All GED testing is in a computerized environment, though not online. Most of the models by which you can prepare depend on having access to online resources.” (And you must know how to use these resources.)

The shift to digital is one of the reasons, Callahan argued, that the success rate for GED candidates in Cleveland — where more than 33 percent of residents lack Internet access — plummeted by an estimated 85 percent that year.

“[Digitalizing systems] is progressing very quickly, and they’re essentially being put in a walled village, and you need to pay to get past it,” Callahan said. “And no one is willing to spend money to help the people on the outside get in.” Ensuring that there are community access points, like libraries and technology hubs, is important, but ultimately they’re no substitute for reliable Internet at home.

Callahan and Shimkoski are both optimistic about pilot programs from Comcast and AT&T that provide basic broadband access — and in some cases web training and low-cost laptops — to low-income residents.

Comcast in 2011 began the Comcast Essentials program to offer Internet access (without setup fees or contracts) to families who have at least one child who qualifies for the National School Lunch Program. The company’s most recent report indicated that more than 17,000 residents had taken advantage of the program in Detroit.

AT&T launched a similar program last month. It dropped the price to as little as $5 a month and widened the pool of eligibility to anyone in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. But CNN reports that Internet access under the AT&T program is at speeds considered below the threshold of broadband and there are data caps.

Still, Callahan said the programs are a digital step in the right direction.

Read Article (Kim Bellware | huffingtonpost.com | 05/23/2016)

The plan is simple but effective; Currently they are quickly Digitizing Systems, while there is a push to connect everyone to the Internet. By the time everyone is connected to a reliable Internet, not much will change because they will not be proficient enough in its usage. Therefore, they will blame the individuals for not striving enough towards improving their own wellbeing.

Internet availability and access is important without a doubt, but knowing how to fully utilize the constantly evolving devices that connect to it and the Internet itself, is an issue just as important if not more.  Our instructional webinars are the long-term solution for addressing device usage, and we need your support.

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