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Unless you’re some kind of sadist, the thought of having to travel and search for a parking space within the heart Kuala Lumpur during rush hour should leave you trembling in fear.

But that doesn’t mean you should completely avoid attending meetings that are held in the city center, because from now until February 26, 2017, uberX rides within the Klang Valley that are shorter than 4km will cost you a flat rate of RM0.99!

Bear in mind that the RM0.99 fare isn’t applicable for scheduled rides, and that if you were to be caught in unexpectedly heavy or standstill traffic, the fare will revert back to the standard time and distance calculation rate. The RM0.99 fare will still be applied during peak hours when surge pricing might be in effect, however.

Three months ago, Google announced it would in early 2017 launch support for high-end graphics processing units (GPUs) for machine learning and other specialized workloads. It’s now early 2017 and, true to its word, Google today officially made GPUs on the Google Cloud Platform available to developers. As expected, these are Nvidia Tesla K80 GPUs, and developers will be able to attach up to eight of these to any custom Compute Engine machine.

 

These new GPU-based virtual machines are available in three Google data centers: us-east1, asia-east1 and europe-west1. Every K80 core features 2,496 of Nvidia’s stream processorswith 12 GB of GDDR5 memory (the K80 board features two cores and 24 GB of RAM).

 

ou can never have too much compute power when you’re running complex simulations or using a deep learning framework like TensorFlow, Torch, MXNet of Caffee. Google is clearly aiming this new feature at developers who regularly need to spin up clusters of high-end machines to power their machine learning frameworks. The new Google Cloud GPUs are integrated with Google’s Cloud Machine Learning service and its various database and storage platforms.

 

 The cost per GPU is $0.70 per hour in the U.S. and $0.77 in the European and Asian data centers. That’s not cheap, but a Tesla K80 accelerator with two cores and 24 GB of Ram will easily set you back a few thousand dollars, too.
 

The announcement comes only a few weeks before Google is scheduled to host its Cloud NEXT conference in San Francisco — where chances are we’ll hear quite a bit more about the company’s plans for making its machine learning services available to even more developers.

For many people, the recession of 2007-2008 is still fresh on their minds. Going through another downturn, and so soon, would be dreadful. However, terrible policies and unnecessary political confrontations between nations could plunge the world into another recession.

And it’s not like we’re not feeling the effects of a slow global economic growth, already. Several countries have seen their projections contract.

 However, some business sectors have shown tough resilience in the face of unpredictable economic outcomes. Here is a look at some of those industries and the lessons they can offer on flexibility, and why venturing into one of these particular categories could keep you safe from a serious downturn during a future economic shakedown.
 

1. Trucking

The growth of the trucking industry is strong — especially in America. Trucking is responsible for  70 percent of the U.S. freight sector. A primary way to ascertain the strength of any industry is the number of jobs it’s created. Truck Driving Jobs currently lists more than half-a-million jobs available.

And that figure doesn’t even take into account the other, indirect jobs this industry creates, such as the mechanics servicing the trucks and employees of the companies selling the trucks and their parts.

 

2. Virtual learning

When the economy slows, people strive to improve their skills, to find better job opportunities. This is where virtual learning comes in. This industry provides the education needed by people seeking to advance their careers in a tough and competitive business world. It just doesn’t have the brick walls.

A 2015 growth forecast projected that the elearning industry will exceed $107 billion.

 

3. Ride-hailing services

Uber operates in more than 500 cities around the globe. In a 2015  Business Insider  report, Uber was described as the world’s biggest employer, offering 50,000 driving jobs per month. The rise of Uber in the ride-hailing industry has seen several competitors build up around this over-$40 billion dollar industry.

What makes the ride-hailing service particularly attractive is its receptiveness to the technology ecosystem. The most advanced tech companies in the world today have made important contributions to this industry. Even a hard-hitting economic recession is unlikely to its solidity.

 

4. Online marketplace for homes

From real estate to hospitality — think Zillow and Airbnb — online marketplaces are increasing their staff strength to accommodate exploding growth. Airbnb was famously born out of two founders’ difficulty in paying their rent. It has since grown into a multi-billion dollar business relied on by families that want to put empty guestrooms or whole homes to use.

This sector sees increasing growth. An example is an online marketplace dedicated to manufactured homes, where home sellers do not need to worry about a location before commencing construction.

 

5. Contract blogging

Blogging is a business that offers several income opportunities. More businesses are moving to include content marketing in their growth strategy or plan to increase content-marketing budgets. Being a blogger means you may well see several businesses competing for your work.

 

6. Ecommerce

As buyers cut down the number of times they visit brick and mortar stores, in favor of discounted online shopping, ecommerce businesses will see their growth increase. The rise of ecommerce has seen several big-name stores close their outlets.

This development means more ecommerce stores will open in more countries around the world, especially in developing countries where demand is still high.

 

7. Online sports betting

One of the largest sports-betting platforms, Bet365, boasts of having more than 10 million players. Data from Statista shows that the online sports-betting industry may well top $53 billion dollars by 2018.

 

8. Online marketplace for professionals

As the gig economy shifts online, and more people get connected to businesses via the internet, online marketplaces for professionals will see increased growth.

We can thank LinkedIn for the rise of this business model. What supports the growth of this business model is that job-seekers and employers alike embrace it. For example, The Sawaya Law Firm, based in Colorado, encourages its attorneys and lawyers to use professional marketplaces to connect with more people.

The unpredictability of our economy will see more customers embrace the notion of lower-cost but still experienced online professionals. And these professionals will be less vulnerable to the economy, come what may.

These apps and digital tools help reduce the time a solopreneur has to spend on mundane tasks.

Solopreneurs are in a class by themselves. Given all the typical pressure of an entrepreneur that they’re under, and the fact that they have little-to-no outside assistance, solopreneurs need tools to help them reduce the time they spend on mundane tasks.

Additional free time, after all, is a godsend: It allows solopreneurs to maximize their time and creative potential for tasks that actually help their businesses grow.

 

So, if you’re one of those besieged solopreneurs, here are some suggested tools:

1. WiseStamp

WiseStamp makes it remarkably easy to create a professional email signature that will show your picture and automatically give recipients all your contact information, including links to your website and social media pages. There are several ways to customize the process that are all entirely free. For additional options, the site offers a yearly subscription.

 

2. Workflow Max

Workflow Max offers everything you need in a single integrated platform. This tool can be used on the computer or on whatever smart device you prefer. You can handle everything from lead and client management, to invoicing and time sheets, job costing, purchase orders and more. There are more than 30 add-ons you can use to adjust the workflow as needed.

 

3. Zapier

Zapier lets you automate tasks easily by teaching more than 750 apps to work together. The free plan allows you to build individual connections and create basic automation, while the premium plan allows greater customization of the automation processes.

 

4. Shake

Shake by Legal Shield provides free templates that can be filled in with your specific information and sent to clients or collaborators to sign electronically and return. There is absolutely no cost when you use one of Shake’s free templates, or you can upgrade to the monthly plan to make extensive customizations. For most people just starting out, the free plan will be more than sufficient.

 

5. Square

Square gives you the ability to take secure payments anywhere you are and has zero fees to get set up. The company will send interested individuals the hardware that attaches to a smart device for free and then keeps 2.75 percent of any transaction that is completed. This gives solopreneurs the ability to accept debit and credit cards from wherever they have the opportunity to make a sale.

 

6. Adobe Spark

If you’ve read anything about using social media to grow your business, you already know how important it is to have high-quality graphics that are designed for the platform you are using. Adobe Spark lets you do this for free. The premade templates are sized appropriately for whichever platform you are designing for, and the site also gives you the ability to create stunning video with virtually no prior experience.

 

7. Hootsuite

Hootsuite makes managing all of your social media accounts as easy as delegating the process to a virtual assistant. The free version lets you connect three social media accounts, schedule messaging and see basic analytics information. Plans are available for people who need to organize more accounts and for those who already have a team.

 

8. GetResponse

Email marketing and connecting to prospective clients through those efforts is incredibly important to effectively grow your business. GetResponse helps businesses do this for as little as $15 per month and includes 1,000 subscribers. As the business grows, higher-tier levels are available within the service. Every company, no matter how small, can benefit from gorgeously designed functional email marketing. Plus, you get landing pages and marketing automation, too. Higher-tier plans include additional features, like webinars, Salesforce integration and campaign consulting.

 

9. Grammarly

Solopreneurs often begin by doing everything themselves, including writing their own copy for email, social media, website pages and advertising materials. This is an effective way to keep initial costs low, but not all solopreneurs have the requisite skill set to write beautiful copy. Grammarly evens the playing field by catching grammatical and punctuation mistakes often overlooked by word processor applications. The free version also allows you to check for plagiarism, to make sure nothing you’ve read for research accidentally makes its way into your finished product. The upgrade option catches more details.

 

10. WiseIntro

WiseIntro is a free way to build your online presence without any startup costs. As you gain traction and need more options, it is easy to upgrade to one of the tool’s monthly plans to unlock additional features. This is an especially good choice for solopreneurs. This is because of the strong visual component they have to their work and their need to show prospective clients exactly what they can do while still avoiding — at this early stage — having to pay a graphic designer to create a custom website.

 

11. Sighted

Sighted is an online invoicing tool perfect for freelancers and solopreneurs. The free plan is perfect for a small business, offering 20 invoices per month in multiple currencies, for up to 10 clients. As the business scales, paid plans (starting at $4.99 a month) allow for unlimited invoices, expenses and 100 or more clients. All plans feature the ability to accept online payments and include a profit and loss report to make tax time a little easier.

 

12. Evernote

Evernote is a place to store all of those ideas, pictures, mind maps and other assorted information that you want to remember. It can be accessed from a smart device or computer, and when you input something in one location, it will be available from all of your devices instantly. This is a great tool for any planning you do on the go, and it comes with a ton of free storage. If you find yourself relying on it as an extension of your own memory, you can upgrade to a plan with more storage.

 

13. Portent Title Maker

Everyone gets stuck with creating a catchy title for a blog post or article at some point. Portent’s Title Maker takes your keyword and turns it into an interesting heading to give you a jumping-off point for your next piece of content. This tool can even help generate ideas for newsletters, brochures and emails.

 

14. Assistant.to

Just because you are a solopreneur doesn’t mean you want to do every single task for yourself. Most businesses owners would agree that having a secretary to take care of details is essential. Unfortunately, it isn’t affordable for everyone just starting out. Assistant.to sets up your appointments by working with your email recipient, automatically adjusting time zones and even rescheduling meetings if something comes up.

Companies have found that by offering a limited version of their services to small businesses and solopreneurs, they are able to develop lasting business relationships that will grow over time.

Then, as their business demands increase, loyal users are more willing to pay for services they have begun to depend on. Take advantage of this marketing tactic yourself, and put it to work for your business today.

You’ve just opened an ecommerce business with great products. What’s next? The success of your business depends on attracting customers. You should think about your marketing tactics. Marketing takes time and dedication, especially when it comes to ecommerce websites. You need to work on increasing your site’s visits and number of followers on social media channels in order to improve your business. Here are some of the tactics that may help you gain more customers on your site:

 

1. Automatic emails

Founders of ecommerce businesses need to keep their brand top of mind for current and potential customers in order to have successful site. They need to find a way to engage existing customers make another purchase, as well as to attract lost customers and make them have an initial purchase. There are automated marketing platforms which allow you set up triggered emails based on specific formulas. For example, you may have an email set up to be sent to any new customer to encourage them to make another purchase or an email set up to be sent to recent purchasers asking them to leave a testimonial which helps you increase content on your site and improve SEO. For those shoppers who have abandoned their cart, you can send a cart recovery mail. Never miss an opportunity to convert a consumer.

 

2. Strong online presence

As owner of ecommerce business, you need to be in touch with as many of the potential customers as possible. Having an attractive and user-friendly site is not enough. You need to strengthen your presence on social media such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc. The right web content and properly managed social media sites can boost any start up business. You cannot simply publish couple of posts on social media and a few of online advertisements campaigns. You need to reach out to cross-marketing associates, have featured posts and/or pull a stunt in order to be noticed by the press etc. The basic purpose of doing so is for e-commerce world to become acquainted with your presence and to strengthen your existence on social media.

 

3. Affiliate marketing

In order to generate traffic on your e-store, affiliate marketing is the thing you need. It helps in capturing the attention of potential customers. “Affiliates” refers to third party sites which help you with traffic generation -with the use of Pay per Click- for small cut. If such diverted traffic makes purchases, you will pay the site-owner a pre-agreed percentage of the sale. You can analyze affiliate traffic through the Google Analytics which will enable you to see the sales. Use affiliate marketing to attract customers to your page. After that, you have to retain them there through various incentives and perks.

 

These three options may help you attract customers to your e-commerce store. Site visit don’t appear on its own and social media followers don’t come out of nowhere. With careful planning, having in mind various marketing options available out there, you can build a strong brand and increase your customer base. 

 

Mozilla has stopped development on Firefox OS for connected devices. This leaves some 50 engineers without a job, as the company now shifts focus solely on the internet of things. This is the second time that Firefox OS has been dropped after efforts to get it on to smartphones failed to gain traction.

 

Firefox has been struggling to gain relevance since its heyday back in the 90s and early 2000s. Mozilla’s technology has been behind innovations in today’s web browsers, although it’s rarely used today. The non-profit attempted to break into the mobile market by developing an operating system for smartphones with Firefox OS.

The company announced that it would be trying to pivot to Firefox OS smart devices early last year. Panasonic adopted the operating system for its 4K tvs, but that was about as far as it got.

 

Going forward, Mozilla will be looking into other technologies for the internet of things. One known project is Project Vaani, which is a voice interface technology; which is similar to what Amazon has been working on. Mozilla also has a team working on an artificial intelligence.

 

Is Malaysia Ready to Go Cash-Free?

By on February 19, 2017

A Cash-Free Future

Think about the last time you carried a wad of cash to go shopping –we’re willing to bet that it’s been a while. Nowadays, all you need is to pack plastic; a debit or credit card and only a bit of spare cash, just in case. Even mobile payments are catching on with offline merchants.

Going cashless is relatively safer, convenient and what’s more, every cent spent can be tracked. Furthermore, without cash at checkout points, fewer errors can be expected where cashiers incorrectly return change.

But still, even with all these positive points and a push from Bank Negara Malaysia, are we really ready to go completely cash-free? To answer this question, let’s first look at our cashless options:

 

1. Bank Cards

Debit, credit and prepaid cards are the most commonly accepted and used cashless payment options in Malaysia. In recent years, debit card usage has spiked, with approximately 44 million.pdf) cards (as of 2013) in circulation. This means that when compared to the population in the country, about 1.5 debit cards has been issued for each person.

 

2. Mobile Transactions

Online merchants have equipped remittance systems to allow for checkouts and payment from smartphones. Even local offline merchants have incorporated mobile banking facilities as well, although in smaller numbers.

 

3. Contactless Payments

New tech has equipped payment cards and smartphones with contactless payment features such as Visa payWave and MasterCard® Contactless. These features speed up the checkout process; sans the need to count coins and paper money. It’s also rather convenient as you don’t have to run to the ATM as much to withdraw cash for small payments.

 

4. Prepaid Cards

Cards preloaded with cash like the Touch ‘n Go Zing card can be used for more than just highway tolls (which is to go fully cashless by 2018). Use it to pay for “public transport, carparks, petrol, retail chains, restaurants and healthcare”. Visa and MasterCard prepaid cards are also available for use at many more merchants.

 

5. Virtual Money

Digital currency and Cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin are not recognised as legal tender in Malaysia just yet, but locals are still using it. A petrol station in Jalan Raja Chulan started accepting bitcoins for payment in 2014, in addition to a VPN service and boutique café in Taman Tun Dr Ismail.

 

Barriers to a Fully Cashless System

Even while all these payment options are available to Malaysians, there are a couple of obstacles that need to addressed before we can truly go cashless.

  • Not Accepted Everywhere

At present, the cashless option as a payment method isn’t available everywhere. Have you tried paying for your teh tarik and roti canai at the local mamak? It probably won’t work. Apart from these small-scale operators, even certain fast-food joints, convenience stores and health clinics are still only accepting cash.

In fact, usage of cashless options appears to be focussed in city areas and within larger retail establishments. Thus, even if Malaysian consumers are equipped with cashless payment articles; vendors and merchants will need to adopt the system before we fully (or mostly) go cashless.

  • A Cash Mindset and Trust Issues

While it appears that the majority of Malaysian consumers are embracing cashless systems, it is possible that usage is confined mostly to those in the capital, major cities and towns.

Denizens of rural areas and outskirts of Malaysia are still very much dependent on cash. And even as numerous cashless payment options are available, changing mind sets and addressing trust issues apparent with cashless systems is going to take time.

Riding the Cashless Wave

If you’re ready to join the cashless world, note that one of the best cashless options currently available is still your credit card. This is because it has numerous fraud protection protocols in place, especially when shopping with overseas online merchants and is often accompanied by special perks.

 

Facebook has been working on its own TV app that works similarly to the Apple TV.

The social media giant hopes the upcoming app will encourage their users to watch longer videos. This falls in line with Facebook’s recent tweaks to their news feed and their discussion with various content creators.

As of the time of writing, Facebook is using mid-roll ads that play in the middle of a video akin to YouTube; this trend is likely to continue on with their upcoming TV app.

If your daily routine involves accessing Gmail through Google Chrome on a system that’s running on Windows XP or Vista, you might want to consider transitioning over to newer pastures soon, as Google has recently announced that Gmail will no longer support Chrome browsers that are running on version 53 and below beginning December 2017.

Why are Gmail users on Windows XP and Vista being singled out? Because the most recent (and very last) Chrome version that was released for the aforementioned two operating systems is version 49. Google officially stopped churning out updates for Chrome browsers on Windows XP and Vista in April 2016.

Of course, if you’re still adamant on sticking with Windows XP and Vista, you will still be able to access Gmail via Chrome, just that you will automatically be redirected to the basic and less secure HTML version of the service in December 2017.

Not entirely sure if your Chrome browser is updated to the latest version? Google will prompt you to have it updated via a banner that will be displayed at the top of the Gmail web interface beginning this Wednesday, February 8, 2017. If you don’t see it, it could mean that your browser is already running on version 53 and above – or that you’re running on Windows XP or Vista.

When Apple unveiled the new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar laptops, Microsoft was on stage to announce that Office for Mac is adding support for that multi-talented OLED strip.

While it isn’t really here yet, we’re inching a bit closer, as participants in the Office Insider program are now able to test the new Touch Bar controls.

 

In a nutshell, depending on the document you’re working on, Office will intelligently put the most common commands on the Touch Bar. So you’ve formatting and table editing controls in Word; style controls and recommended charts in Excel; and shape tools in PowerPoint – just to name a few.