Better Education is the Key to Our Digital Defense Problem

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The past several years have brought many changes to the educational and political landscape, but none are potentially so severe and world-changing as the comeback of internet espionage and digital warfare.

The vulnerabilities faced in today’s cybersecurity

Just within the past five years, cyber-attacks have had a massive impact on international and local affairs, including everything from independent hackers demanding ransoms from entire cities for the return of their municipal data to governments attacking other governments, spreading propaganda, and stealing political information through the use of phishing attacks and the like. It’s an uncomfortable truth but increasing amounts of almost cold-war style proxy battles are being fought in the digital realm, and many are beginning to agree that the solution lies within the hands of higher education institutions.

Education rushing to fill the gap calling for professionals

Many are already beginning to respond to the growing need for trained and educated cyber security professionals, offering cyber security courses at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. Many experts and educational professionals are arguing that the only way to bolster national security in the digital realm is to focus more intensely on training and education, starting from the youngest ages possible.

For instance, in the United Kingdom, experts are talking about a proverbial “army of cyber kids,” thanks to a newly formed national program that intends to find and recruit young talent for the purpose of training these kids to be cyber security experts. Children are recruited around the ages of 14 to 18, then trained in a series of programs and educated about the possibilities of future employment in the field of cyber security. The aim is to build up a force of educated young people who can enter the field and bolster the industry, which at the moment is lacking in both quality and quantity of workers. 

The criticism faced by academic institutions

The focus on education has its detractors, however. Despite the fact that the number of jobs in the cyber security industry with no employees to fill them is expected to reach close to 2 million within the next few years, critics of the proposed expansions in the educational system to cater to cyber security needs point out that the overwhelming majority of current cyber security experts are, in fact, self taught. However, whether this is a result of a lack of opportunities for formal schooling in the discipline or for some other reason are still unclear. In any case, even the most fervent opposition presented by these critics is rather timid when all things are considered, and even they admit that a stronger focus on educational curricula focusing on cyber security would be beneficial for everyone.

Security risks start from the education system

In the meantime, the arguments for strengthening and funding a dedicated cyber security curriculum, along with attacks on various entities both public and private, have been increasing. Ironically, the education sector itself is a particularly vulnerable target for aspiring hackers looking for treasure troves of data to sell on the open market. The reasons are fairly simple: universities and colleges tend to have fairly relaxed cyber security protocols compared with similar targets like government institutions and hospitals, and universities store an incredible amount of data about their students, from social security numbers to home addresses, phone numbers, payment information, and even medical records obtained through the university clinics that are so common on today’s campuses. In 2014 alone, almost one million individual records were stolen from hacked university databases.

The value of data continues to fuel the hacking problem

Student information isn’t the only thing of value that can be obtained through hacks like these. The Equifax breach comes immediately to mind, whereby millions of Americans’ personal information was stolen and is likely still floating around, being sold back and forth. Universities are a massive target, however, and the more money there is in the university system, the more potential hackers stand to gain. Universities field millions of hacking attempts on a weekly basis, and potential targets (other than confidential student information) could range from test and homework answers to potentially sensitive research information.

Since the revelations that Russia had interfered in an election in the United States by providing hacked emails to a pseudo-journalism outlet called wikileaks, cyber security has become a much bigger focus of educational spending and discussions, while politicians grill the leaders of the tech industry on what they see as their role in the defense (or lack thereof) of critical institutions and demographics in the population. The hacked emails were obtained via phishing attacks that exploited human, rather than technical, weaknesses, impersonating official correspondence and tricking the target into clicking a link leading to malicious code.

It’s for that reason that many experts are targeting people who do not intend to be experts in the field, trying to form a base of general educational curricula that can be delivered as more of a life skill or as part of a continuing education program than a higher-level graduate or undergraduate degree focus.

How Crypto Currency is Changing FinTech

bitcoin-blockchain-jpmorgan-cryptoIn recent years, Financial Technology Companies have disrupted the traditionally slow and cumbersome financial system. From innovative money transfer processes to the increasing prevalence of mobile phone payments; FinTech companies have revolutionized how we handle financial transactions. This is why $11.8 Billion was invested in FinTech companies in 2018 alone. 

In the same breath, cryptocurrencies and blockchain have also had a profound effect on the FinTech sector. In particular, cryptocurrencies have disrupted how people transfer funds, make purchases and raise money. This means that blockchain technologies have profoundly influenced the FinTech sector, and you can expect to see new trends arising from this space soon. For example, commercial banks, credit card companies, and loan providers are adjusting their business models to adapt to the new wave of cryptocurrencies.

But how exactly is blockchain changing the FinTech sector? Read on to find out.

Using cryptocurrencies in daily bank transactions 

Many commercial and central banks are exploring the possibility of introducing their own cryptocurrencies into the blockchain system. Owing to the success of BitCoin, banks can see the benefits of having a stable, non-influenced, and secure cryptocurrency in the market. Indeed, cryptocurrencies are cheaper to manage, have lower transaction costs, and result in more streamlined transactions. Furthermore, these currencies will give financial institutions full control over their monetary policies and financial regulation practices.  

Recently, JPMorgan launched a new cryptocurrency called the JPM Coin. It’s intended to settle payments instantaneously between clients in a low cost, secure, and efficient manner. As more banks continue to explore cryptocurrency options, users can expect to spend less on banking transactions while having more access to FinTech services. The distributed ledger system of cryptocurrencies also makes it easier for people without bank accounts to access financial services using alternative channels (such as mobile phones). 

Verifying the identity of persons

Every year, FinTech companies spend millions of dollars on developing systems that can detect and prevent fraud. Top of the list is identity theft and money laundering, where people still manage to bypass security frameworks and infiltrate loan, investment, and other sensitive financial transactions.

The good news is that cryptocurrencies can be used to enhance transaction security by verifying a person’s identity. Indeed, cryptocurrencies that use a distributed ledger provide a detailed trail of how transactions occurred during a specific period. Any party cannot modify this distributed ledger, and thus will provide evidence of the identity, background, and nature of each transaction.   

Using cryptocurrency for efficient money transfer

A large portion of the FinTech sector is devoted to making money transfer more efficient across the world. By using cryptocurrencies, cross border payments can be streamlined to become cheaper, faster, and safer. Current money transfer processes are bogged down by physical currencies, cumbersome bank procedures, and complex exchange rates. 

By using cryptocurrencies as the primary means of money transfer, financial institutions will be able to save on costs while moving funds more efficiently. 

Increasing the availability of credit 

Just when the financial sector is choking up loans and the smooth flow of credit, cryptocurrencies are increasing accessibility to loans and other similar services. Blockchain technology makes it easier and cheaper for financial institutions to avail credit to customers at competitive rates.

How so? First off, a distributed ledger makes borrowing and repayment more secure. This reduces the prevalence of fraud, and financial institutions are more likely to get their money back (plus interest) after extending credit to a customer. And because the entire process is streamlined and efficient due to cryptocurrencies, banks and other creditors will have an easier time expanding their loan portfolios. 

Shifting payments to mobile phone platforms

Accessibility to FinTech services has long been a challenge for millions of people around the world. Cryptocurrencies are making access to digital payments, money transfer, banking, and other similar services more accessible. By bringing FinTech to mobile phones, cryptocurrencies can be used to pay bills, transfer money, access loans, and even purchase insurance. All these transactions can be done safely- thanks to the distributed ledger.

The accessibility of FinTech on mobile phones is also made possible via cryptocurrencies. This is because users don’t need to own a bank account, carry around physical notes/coins, or go to a specific location (such as an ATM) whenever they need to make a financial transaction.  

SOX compliance and cryptocurrency

As cryptocurrencies continue to disrupt the FinTech industry, the need for regulation and monitoring is at an all-time high. Indeed, financial transactions involving cryptocurrencies will need to be checked for compliance with SOX reporting standards.

SOX was initially implemented to control how financial reporting is done, especially with regards to assets, expenses, auditing, and management oversight. With cryptocurrencies and blockchain becoming more prominent, FinTech companies will need to develop a compliance model that falls in line with accounting and auditing best practices- particularly when it comes to recording crypto currency-related transactions.   

Technology is disrupting global airports more and more

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Technological advancement and rapid digitalisation are two of the most profound innovations in the modern world. Through these two modern marvels, practically every aspect, every industry in the modern world has been fundamentally changed in some way. Consider the technological innovations revolutionising airports around the globe, for example. Any type of technology is designed and acutely aimed at providing viable and ongoing solutions to problems. In the case of airports, the problems lie in making the process from check in to boarding more convenient and efficient for travellers. Of course, there are always innovations that could make the entire airport experience smoother, but the one issue that comes up time and again is the issue of check in lines and boarding processes. This is not an issue that is limited to specific airports, either. It is an issue that is found in practically every airport in the world, and it is one that causes significant drama every time someone checks in and gets ready to board their flight (so, essentially, it is forever happening in an ongoing cycle).

Airport technology has been present for quite some time now, but never has this level of technological influence been felt in the industry before. For a while now, travellers have been able to check in online 24-48 hours prior to their flight taking off. This seems, to the untrained eye, like a victory. It should make the process faster. And sure, perhaps it does make it a little faster, but when one considers the fact that travellers still must go through those same check-in lines to check in their baggage, the time saved is miniscule, if anything at all. Couple this with the fact that while most airlines do in fact have separate check-in sections in airports (and especially in international airports), it is rare that all of them are open to accommodate and check-in travellers faster. While as many as ten check-in desks are there, only one or two, maybe even three or four on a good day, even have anyone there to help travellers check in their luggage and get through to customs successfully.

This is of course an issue. Understandably, airports cannot pay up to ten clerks, for multiple airlines, to be manning the service check-in desks 24/7. So, that is that, right? There is not much more that can be done? Wrong. So, what is the solution? Many people believe that the solution lies in technological automation. There has been a rising interest in automating the check-in process even more than it currently is. At the present time, travellers can often print out their airline tickets and baggage tags themselves. And then, if they have baggage (which, let’s face it, most people on an international flight do), they still must go through the check-in process to have their luggage processed. What many have suggested is getting rid of all but one or two service check-in desks, and turning the rest of them into self-service baggage check-in – even splitting each desk space to create two self-service counters. This would potentially speed up the process, cutting waiting times in half.

What this means is obviously a faster, more efficient process and happier travellers. The other important thing to note is also that a technological reconfiguration like this genuinely takes time to perfect. As is the case with any innovation, any new branch of technology, there will be a process of inevitable trial and error before the system is entirely smooth and efficient to a T. It is important that travellers can understand that this is normal, and bumps in the technology in its initial stages does not warrant panic, or a call for them to reverse the tech and take it back to human-run systems. Quite simply, these things take time. The technologically-driven revitalisation of global airports the world over is costing billions globally, but it is well worth it. From the IAD parking at Dulles International Airport, Washington, to the beginnings of automated self-service check-in desks being considered in airports around the world (and everything in between, for that matter), technological absolution is changing everything, in all the best and brightest ways possible.

When it comes to using digitalisation and technological advancement to advance and enhance amid an ongoing abundance of innovations that have changed our entire lives. Even the airports that help us get from point A to point B have experienced their fair share of transformation – and they continue to do so, as we head further and further into the digital age that we have comfortably created on an ongoing basis throughout recent history. For airports specifically, technological advancement and rapid digitalisation come in the form of revolutionising and advancing the convenience and efficiency of the check in and boarding processes that travellers go through as they prepare for their upcoming flights. There are many other instances in which technological advancement and rapid digitalisation are impacting airports and the flight industry in all the right ways, but the instances with check in and boarding processes are the most instrumental of them all. What seems like a rocky beginning now is set to become a much smoother process in due time.

The ongoing discussion surrounding mental health

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Since the dawn of our time here on Earth, our health has been the most paramount part of our existence and our species’ progression. As time has gone on, we have developed a healthy obsession with understanding, improving, and maintaining out physical health. We are now at the point where we have a strong, capable grasp on our physical health and all that it entails. However, the same cannot be said for our understanding and open attitude towards mental health. In fact, if anything, the attitude towards mental health is heavily tainted with a stigma that, despite much effort to the cause of improvement, has not budged much – if any. The fact is that mental health is just as important, if not more so, than physical health, and the stigma has created a global epidemic that is boiling over. For far too long, mental health has been treated as more of an attitude and behavioural problem, than the genuine health risk that it is. Thankfully, thanks to a relatively recent influx of research and studies focusing on mental health, this unhealthy attitude is finally shifting.

When it comes to addressing mental health, it is fair to say that there has always been a stigma surrounding the fact. There is a preconceived notion that mental health is simply a case of attitude and weakness. This response to mental health is not only incorrect and unhealthy, but also incredibly dangerous. Individuals who suffer with mental health struggles often find themselves displaced and unsure of where they sit in the world, and in their world. This is not an opinion, this is fact. And this fact stems, at least partially, from the reality that the alienation and isolation that individuals feel when they struggle with their mental health is partially the response to the attitude of others towards their struggles. This attitude has become a global one, and it stems from the stigma that has been attached to mental health since the dawn of our time. Mental health struggles are not as easily seen and diagnosed as physical health issues, because they do not manifest aesthetically, clear to the eye. But this does not mean, in any way, shape, or form, that they are any less important. If anything, they are even more so.

This toxic attitude towards mental health has created a dangerous precedent. It is one that makes those who suffer with mental health struggles feel alone and terrified. This is so dangerous not only because it goes against basic human nature to be so harsh, but also because it can result in risks to the affected individual’s health. Sometimes, in the worst of cases, the results can be lethal. Fatality as a response to mental health struggles of all kinds is unfortunately quite common. Around the world, more and more individuals have been finding themselves in alarming circumstances. Mental health struggles are a global epidemic, and without the right attitude, and an honest, open, and supportive environment for those suffering to turn to, this issue is only going to continue to fester. Mental health struggle is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign that even the boldest and most determined of strengths can crack under pressure. This is our reality. Mental health struggles can impact anyone, anytime, anywhere. So, it is crucial that the toxic attitude towards mental health changes.

This is, thankfully, changing now. These days, with more research and more studies out there than ever, there is a strong acknowledgement and overall understanding of what we have gotten wrong. Today, the issue of mental health is more prominent than ever – and on a global scale, at that. In fact, acknowledgement and understanding surrounding health on all levels and inputs is growing. Approaches like CBD science, or professional psychology, for example, are dedicated to helping people understand points of health and all it encompasses. Similarly, there are companies motivated to do the same. Finally, people are becoming more supportive and open when discussing issues of mental health, and addressing them adequately and proactively. More than ever, people are honest about their struggles, because they realise that the doorway to the help they need is wide open, rather than edged open slightly at the close. It is the change that the world has so desperately needed, and it is shocking that it has taken this long for it to barrel into effect. Of course, the work is nowhere near done yet, but if we keep moving in this same general direction, there is no reason that we cannot make genuine, lasting impact for mental health and those who suffer with its struggles, both now and into the future.

Mental health is just as important to one’s well being as physical health is. Over the years, there has been an eager and ongoing abundance of research and studies on physical health. This ongoing influx has led to a strong understanding and grasp of physical health. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for mental health. Despite the arching necessity of more studies and research into mental health, there is still a drastic imbalance surrounding the general understanding and support of mental health research. Thankfully (and long overdue), this is slowly but surely changing. Mental health is such a significant contributor to overall health (if not the most important of all), so it is crucial that we reach the honest, open, and supportive point that we have with physical health, with mental health. This is too important than issue to hold off on addressing any longer. In fact, this is long overdue. There is still a lot of work to be done, and a long way to go, but we are finally on the right track.

Maintaining a healthy diet and exercise to achieve peak health

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There is something intriguing about the way that we approach health. The way that we treat our bodies has a genuine, significant effect on our quality of life. Our health is paramount to, quite literally, everything. And yet, despite this fact, we are facing perhaps our unhealthiest era ever. More and more often, people are taking their good health for granted, and whether intentional or not, this has become a global problem. When something is taken for granted (in this case, one’s health), the individual tends to treat it as less of a priority. This can lead to negative responses. In the case of our health, it can even lead to unhealthy consequences, and in the most severe of cases, premature fatality. So, how can we best care for our bodies? There are the obvious anecdotes: get your regular health check-ups, seek professional help when you are feeling under the weather (either mentally or physically), surround yourself with positive people, and engage in positive environments. And then there is diet and exercise.

So many people live with the mindset of, “I can start tomorrow”. While there is nothing necessarily wrong with this, what often ends up happening is that tomorrow dwindles on forever…even with the best intentions, many people find themselves “too busy” to slow down just long enough to eat a balanced diet, and commit to their exercise routines. To be fair, modern individuals are busier than ever, so it is indeed true that there is less time in the day, but it all comes down to priorities. And further, the truth is that some people do everything right, do everything in their power to achieve peak fitness and health, and still are unable to achieve and maintain it. It is not fair. However, even for these people, there is comfort in knowing that still doing all these things, still committing to their health journey wholeheartedly as much as possible, can make the world of difference. Everyone can indeed achieve their peak level of health possible for themselves as individuals, if they are willing and able to do the work to get there.

The human body is an incredible thing. We are a species built for hunting, gathering (whether this means gathering berries and edible flowers and grasses while in the wilderness, or gathering cannabis seeds to harvest them organically oneself, for instance), travelling, and wandering. This is the scientific truth that binds us to what we were created for. Our bodies are built to withstand constant exertion and movement. With this in mind, it is important to remember that how we treat our bodies has a significant impact on our quality of life. The diet that one subscribes to has a genuine and significant impact on how that person feels, acts, responds, and even how they look. Eating a healthy diet does not have to mean cutting out all the treats, either. The ideal healthy diet is obviously the one that works the best for the individual and their specific lifestyle and needs. However, more and more there is a growing consensus that the ultimate healthy diet is one that consists of largely healthy foods and drinks, in balance in treats and other less healthy items in moderation.

A healthy diet allows the body to function at its best and most reliable. Fuelling our bodies with healthy foods and drinks ensures that our bodies can process them naturally, rather than having to work overtime to process them more slowly. Similar to diet, exercise is important to overall health because it gives the body the movement and arching adrenaline that it thrives on. Exercising at least thirty minutes a day is the official recommended amount, but of course anything is better than nothing, so regardless of if one can commit a few minutes or a few hours to their exercise regime on the daily (or at the very least, at least four to five times a week, periodically), they are already on track to achieving a healthier lifestyle. The best part about diet and exercise is that while they both work well individually, they work extremely effectively in collaboration with one another, allowing an individual to achieve maximum results on an ongoing basis. Understanding and adequately responding to our bodies is something that many people struggle with. This is not shocking news. This has been the case for many years. However, what is changing now is the awareness and in-depth understanding that people have about the importance of staying on top of their overall health.

The more studies and research that is carried out, the more prominently acknowledged the truth becomes. Our health is paramount, it is the foundation and the building blocks that create our quality of life, and when it begins to break down, our bodies do too. It is so important to take care of our overall health. The best way to do that is by taking care of our bodies, in every sense of the concept. This means keeping up-to-date with, and going to our health check-ups, eating a balanced, healthy diet, and maintaining a routine of exercise that we are comfortable with and driven by. Of course, sometimes the cards are drawn and doing everything right still is not enough to achieve the health we want for ourselves, but doing all these things certainly helps us achieve the peak level of health possible to ourselves as individuals. And that is important and special.

The worldwide web and its impact on economic growth

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Not unlike practically every innovation the world has experienced, the technological advancements that we are seeing come to vivid life every single day are proof that we have become positively obsessed with our own progression as a species. As this realisation dawns on the world, it becomes exceedingly obvious that the introduction and constantly ongoing advancement of a technological innovation like the worldwide web is ever-exciting. In fact, if technologies are the prominent force in a surging new era, then the internet is the most powerful technological advancement the world has ever seen. Even so, the nagging question that refuses to budge, to back down, is how much impact the internet has truly had on economic growth throughout its relatively short existence thus far. While there have been some concerns surrounding the genuine impact the worldwide web has on economic growth, the reality is that the internet has had one of the most profound (if not the most profound) impacts on the economy and its evolution. But how?

The internet’s influence on global economic growth has been steady since the dawn of its inception, having recently kicked into high gear to establish a stronger standing point. Thanks to the internet, there is a whole new world of opportunities out there awaiting to be brought to thriving life. The internet has had an astounding impact on the evolution of our recent history. The internet has changed the way we work, socialise, create, share information and important data, organise, and travel. Practically every facet of life as we know it has been, without a doubt, fundamentally and profoundly transformed by the rise and continuous growth of the internet, and the economy is no exception. The worldwide web was a technological innovation that was special, right from the very first moment of its introduction to the world. At the initial time of its first steps in the world, it was thought by many that the internet would be but a passing phase, with no lasting impact or ability to move beyond the reputation of a niche concept.

This preconceived notion was quickly and swiftly proven definitively wrong. The internet gave the world a very real sense of instantaneous global connection that has opened doorways and windows to new possibilities, not only professionally but personally as well. The internet has opened a whole new can of worms for economic growth. Thanks to the rise of the internet, there is an entirely new frontier in the world of business. As consumer interest becomes exceedingly focused on the online market created by the internet, businesses are expanding at unprecedented rates. This has created more jobs, giving the economy a solid boost when it comes to professional progression and a healthy economy as far as financial standing and career evolution goes. More and more people are going to work driven to succeed by their passion for said work, and the internet has made it possible for practically any individual to have access to any career trajectory, so long as they are willing to do the work to get there.

Additionally, the internet is the single largest advertising platform and strategy. From the marketing tactics to steer users towards the best and most easily accessible local cables, to entire empires advertising their entire companies online, the internet has given businesses the world over an equal platform that spans the globe. This type of unstoppable worldwide exposure gives businesses the chance to drawn in more consumers – something that, prior to the internet, was not nearly as easily achieved. Economic growth has been given a significant (and ongoing, for that matter) boost, thanks to the internet giving businesses and consumers alike a global opportunity and platform to definitively lean into their respective positions in the marketplace; consumers, as the eager buyers, and businesses, as the exhilarating and rousing bridges for both the creation of more jobs and the more global platform for connectivity and engagement (both key contributing factors towards a stronger economic future). Through the internet, everything from medical discoveries to the latest event in one’s social circle, can be (and often is) executed largely online, making us more connected and capable than ever – a strong positive for the continuous growth of the global economy moving forward.

Of all the technological innovations that have had a significant impact on the world, the internet is arguably the most influential of them all. Hailed as the leading global technological innovation, the internet has proven its value time and again – and continues to do so with every passing day. Just as every innovation to roll out into the world’s eyesight, the internet has not come without its challenges, but even in the face of these challenges the internet has continued to go from strength to strength, changing the world – and improving economic growth in the process – from the inside out. There is quite a lot to be said about the immense power the internet holds, and all that it makes possible, and that is that global economic growth and ongoing evolution would not be nearly as fruitful as it is today, thanks in no small part to the internet. We have only just scratched the surface with what the internet can do for economic growth, but even so, the promise is exhilarating and thrilling.

The Ever-Changing Landscape of IT and Software Development

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Technology is changing life as we know it. As machines learn to drive and fly, clean and organize, talk and provide information, they will become an integral part of our lives. Information Technology (IT) and software development are at the heart of this change.

This article provides a brief review of IT and software development and the evolution of software development. Read on to learn how the ever-changing landscape of IT and software development influences and interacts with technological change during the digital revolution.

What Is Information Technology?

The field of Information Technology (IT) uses systems for the storage, retrieval, manipulation, and transmission of information. IT systems are commonly used as subsets of information, telecommunication, and computers.

The term IT encompasses all the mechanisms involved in the operation of a system, and can refer to any of the following components:

  • Hardware—the physical components of the system
  • Software—the digital operating information of the system
  • Peripheral equipment—physical devices that add functionality to the system
  • Electronics—the chips and transistors that allow systems to make simple decisions
  • Semiconductors—contain multiple electronic components that speed up the system’s processes
  • Internet—the global network that enables information exchange via the Internet protocol
  • Telecom equipment—hardware devices that enable information exchange over large distances

What Is Software Development?

The software is the state contained in the neurons within the brain, plus the instincts that are encoded into our DNA. Software controls the processes and functions of the components that make up the computer.

The field of software development covers the processes of creating software components, and can include any of the following stages:

  • Idea—creating the core function of the software and identifying the targeted audience.
  • Research—acquiring relevant information about the market and users. The analysis of the information will determine whether you should go through with the project.
  • Specs—creating a detailed document that contains the guidelines for the desired outcome of the project. The Software Requirement Specification (SRS) document helps guide contributors such as project developers, engineers, and designers. These individuals work together to create the software.  
  • Design—a detailed plan that guides the implementation of the SRS. If the specs refer to the ‘what’ of your project, the design outlines the ‘how’.
  • Programming—this is the practical stage of the process, which involves writing the software.
  • Documenting—To keep track of all the information generated through the process, developers create documentation for each project. The documents contain vital information about the software components. This information is used to ensure the software remains up to date. .
  • Testing—this is when you examine the viability of your software—is it doing what it’s meant to do? You can test your software during any stage of the development process to ensure that the final product is as error-free as possible.
  • Debugging—you tested your software and found that it contains errors. It’s time to fix and remove the bugs you identified. You might like to run another test afterward to ensure that you identified all the bugs. It’s usually easier to debug software before deployment.
  • Modification—if the final software doesn’t seem to meet the client expectations, the developer will be asked to modify the software. These are usually small changes that can be executed quickly.
  • Re-engineering—this process involves making substantial changes to the structure and design of the software. It can happen if a client is disappointed with the final version of the software. Alternatively, a software owner might decide to hire a different developer to make improvements to the existing software.
  • Maintenance—allows developers to correct errors or faults in the software after deployment. Although the software is live it still needs continuous care. Maintainance is usually done through the regular deployment of software updates.

While all of these components of software development are important, you can choose which processes are relevant for your project. You may also opt to run several processes simultaneously.

The Evolution of Software Development

In the 1950s, structured programming was born. Consumerism was booming, capitalism was expanding, and large conglomerates wanted to improve their business processes. To improve the computing processes of that time, developers created a structure of selection and repetition that improved the clarity and quality of the software.

The structured programming paradigm soon evolved into the waterfall methodology of software development. The waterfall breaks down the software development process into cyclical stages in which one step of the development builds on the next. The waterfall methodology usually starts with a requirement from the client, then proceeds to the design, implementation, verification, and ends with maintenance. There’s a clear beginning and ending to each project, which allows for a well-ordered structure of development processes.

Since the introduction of the waterfall methodology in the 1960s, many more paradigms have been developed. Yet waterfall development remained popular for years to come. Until, the 1990s when agile methods, such as Scrum and Crystal, emerged. Developers wanted to improve the development process and find an alternative to the strict waterfall paradigm.

The agile software development manifesto was written in 2001, introducing a paradigm that focuses on dynamic, continuous, and user-centric processes. Collaboration and people became the center of software development. The long and tedious planning involved in the waterfall process was replaced with quick software production.

Once the agile methodology replaced the clear structure of the waterfall, more development paradigms emerged. As inventors, developers, and computer science professionals worked side by side, their collaborative efforts gave birth to a flood of new and improved technologies.

Technological Change During the Digital Revolution

In the 20th century, Technological Change (TC) has given rise to the digital revolution. The process of technological invention and its distribution became quicker than ever. Software was no longer seen as a strictly commercial product, but also as an open source codebase. When software became available for public use, developers were no longer forced to write software from scratch.

Unfortunately, even as technology improved, it is never entirely secure. For example, while open source provides developers with ready-to-use modular components, it also opens the door to attacks. Developers and cybersecurity experts need to use vulnerabilities databases such as the NVD (National Vulnerability Database) and its CVSS v3 scores, as well as more advanced threat intelligence solutions, to keep track of all them.

As threats become more sophisticated, the process of software development becomes interchangeable with cybersecurity and IT. When threats come from any direction, everyone involved with the creation and maintenance of a piece of technology needs to join forces. Especially in a time in where technology touches almost every aspect of our lives.

New technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT) and blockchain disrupt entire industries as they make their way into our homes and our lives. The smarter your home, the more its operating tech knows about you. Do you know who listens on the other side of your smart coffee machine? Who maintains the intelligent device that keeps track of every step you take?

Nowadays, everyone retains data on everyone. From 500 future companies, Internet and cellular service providers, the government, and the guy you sent a file to via Dropbox. In the age of big data, software serves as the conductor and the channel through which information is distributed. A machine is powerless without its software. Therefore, software is at the heart of continuous technological change.

In a time when technology is used to crack human DNA and enhance human capabilities, there’s no telling where development will take us next. The landscape is ever-changing and the new best thing is only a few pieces of code away.

The Epidemic of Sleep Deprivation: A Silent Killer

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Everyone in the world is tired. As each day passes, it feels like there’s never enough time in the day to get everything checked off the list. Our schedules are busier; we’re running here and there, never getting a chance to sit down and take a time-out.

At work, your mind is drifting, thinking about what you need to make for dinner or why you agreed to take your son’s soccer team out for pizza. By the time you’re home, you’re done. You turn on the television and drown yourself in a new episode of the latest show while folding laundry or scroll through the internet. By the time you even consider going to bed, you look at the alarm and think about how you have to get up in five hours to do it all over again. This is a typical day for most people.

But these busy schedules aren’t natural. As a consequence, they’re disrupting our sleeping patterns. A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that over one-third of the adult population in the U.S. sleeps less than the recommended minimum of 7 hours per night. This “7-hour rule” wasn’t formulated by companies so that you’ll hunt for the best pillows on the market. It was created after a panel of experts reviewed over 5,000 scientific studies relating to sleep deprivation. And what was found was that sleep deprivation is correlated with shorter lifespans, and health conditions such as heart disease, and cancer.

Over the years, there’s been an increase in sleep disorders including insomnia, but also those who simply aren’t getting enough sleep. As Professor Matthew Walker, a British neuroscientist, and director of the Center for Human Sleep Science at the University of California, Berkeley states, “I think sleep is still a missing piece in the puzzle of people’s health. It’s not something people are necessarily recognizing as a critical issue when comes to fighting disease and sickness. And that’s partly the fault of people like me: the science has not been communicated well enough.”

But we’ve all said to ourselves, “I’m feeling really tired; I’m going to go to bed early tonight.” Yet, we’re still unaware of the need to sleep. We may be tired one day, and sleep a proper eight hours that night, but then we go back to the same routine of sleep deprivation. So, why aren’t we more aware that we need to sleep? Well, there are a couple of reasons why.

Firstly, our societies are built to produce and consume. Many of us are commuting to work, even spending after-hours connected to our email and phone. While we’re continuing to stay connected to work outside of working hours, we also need to connect with our family and friends. Not to mention, staying updated on social media as well. Essentially, from morning to night, we’re always on. We don’t spend time separating ourselves from the very things that are emotionally and mentally draining us.

Secondly, we have a love-hate relationship with sleep. Of course, everyone loves sleeping, but getting a full eight-hour rest is usually associated with being lazy. Since we live in a consumer culture, no one is advocating a good night’s sleep. If anything, the more you stay awake, the more motivated you appear to the people around. “Oh wow, George is such a hard worker. He only sleeps four hours a night.” Most people would be impressed by this statement, rather than being severely concerned about George’s mental health. So, yes, we’re surrounded by technology and always connected to work and social media. But our outlook on productivity is also what’s causing us to sleep less.

How to Fight the Sleep Epidemic

As we’re now in the era of self-care and self-compassion, it’s time to give ourselves a break. Our society needs to change its outlook on sleep and adopt a healthier lifestyle. Though just because it may not happen on a societal scale any time soon, it doesn’t mean you can’t change your relationship with sleep.

There are quick and effortless ways to improve your sleep. Create a sleep routine and go to bed at a consistent time every night. Lay off the caffeine so late during the late afternoons and evenings. And most importantly, remove the blue light from your all devices and avoid using them a couple of hours before bed. Just by making these small changes, your life will never be the same – in a good way. Until society starts to wake up and realize the sleep epidemic is much more severe than they thought, improve your own life by focusing on getting a minimum of seven hours of sleep a night.

The answer to a long and healthy life is much simpler than you think. What it really comes down to is having a good night’s sleep.

New Construction Homes Are a Good Bet in the Recovering Housing Market, but Buyers Should Remain Vigilant

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Over a decade after the housing crash in 2008, the economy is finally recovering, but some sectors are recovering faster than others. People still need houses, but renting, leasing, and remodeling still remain far popular than construction of new properties. New property construction has been notoriously slow to recover, tanking more than 80 percentage points in the 2008 crash and eleven years later still sitting at less than half of its pre-crash level. Despite sounding like grim news, this kind of economic outlook can be good news for prospective buyers with some spare cash to invest in a higher-quality, more bespoke real estate opportunity. Low demand for new construction brings prices down and creates a buyer’s market. This is true in much of the real estate sector, but there are many advantages to ordering a new construction rather than buying an existing house.

There are still many so-called cookie-cutter homes on the market, especially in the suburbs, and some types, especially the higher-end ‘McMansions,’ are especially reviled. Because of the economic incentives driving construction of these suburban homes, construction quality is characteristically shabby, and both interior and exterior designs can become dated very quickly, leading to disappointing resale value or a second investment in remodeling in order to drive up the value of the house, which can potentially lead to headache-inducing struggles with local homeowners’ associations.

The easiest way to avoid issues such as this is simply to build a new property, allowing the buyer much more control over the design and construction quality of the finished product. However, when ordering construction of a new home, buyers must be more proactive and vigilant than when simply purchasing or mortgaging an existing home, and cutting too many corners or failing to consult an expert – or even a magazine – on trends in home design can lead to the same issues discussed above.

When deciding on the layout or type of home for a new property, there are several options, some good, and some bad. Split level home designs were once very popular and since then have significantly declined in popularity and desirability, but it’s likely that these types of homes will make a comeback as they allow for increased house volume with a smaller footprint, meaning you can fit more house into a smaller building lot. This will certainly be attractive to those looking to avoid breaking the bank while maintaining investment in an appreciating asset, and if housing prices continue to outpace wages, there should be no problem finding a buyer for the property in the future for the same reasons.

Once a plan has been decided on and construction has begun, the homeowner’s job has still only begun. Some even argue that the most important step occurs before construction has even begun. That’s the time when the buyer should be doing research on construction companies and crews, building relationships with potential contractors, and finding out what needs to be done and how for the design that they want. Two of the most important points stressed by experts in this field are getting to know the contractors and establishing expectations or guidelines for walkabouts or even inspections during the construction process. An experienced and reputable construction crew will have no issues with their client coming in to take a look at their work, and if they are skilled, they will likely take pride in showing off their work and explaining what they’re doing, as it can help to bolster their reputation through word of mouth and strong relationships with their clients. On the other hand, a crew that’s reluctant to provide transparency during the construction phase should be a red flag for the buyer. It’s also okay and even recommended to involve an inspector, as they can provide a keener and more experienced eye than the homeowner. That being said, it’s not a good idea to be overbearing. Construction is a difficult and demanding job, and occasionally dangerous for inexperienced observers wandering onto the building site. That’s why communication is key; the buyer should agree beforehand with the builder about how often and at what times or stages of construction it’s appropriate for them to visit.

Buyers of newly constructed homes generally have positive experiences. There is always the potential that things might go wrong, but the benefits greatly outweigh the risks. The most pressing complaints about life in these new homes is generally something like having to re-paint a few walls, or regretting putting in hardwood floors. But in spite of the possibility for missteps, there has never been a better time to build a new house. It may require a more proactive approach and significantly more involvement in the process than simply walking into a house and saying “I’ll take it,” but as with all things in life, the hard work pays off.

The Obsolescence of Men: Are Men Becoming an Endangered Species?

By Stefan Aarnio

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Is it just my imagination or is man becoming an endangered species? Oh, I’m not talking about the anatomical male gender. I’m talking about masculine men. You know, the stuff cowboys are made of. Why is it that we have to watch old western movies to see role models of men opening doors for ladies, tipping their hats beautiful belles, or risking a fight to the death to defend their woman’s honor?

I confess, I’m unashamedly male, comfortable in my masculinity and I have little patience for males who flee to crying zones on college campuses when someone hurts their feelings. In my newest book, “Hard Times Create Strong Men,” I chronical millenniums of history but realizing how tight time is on college campuses these days, I’ll sum up the history of mankind in a 10-second quote:

“Hard times create strong men, Strong men create good times, Good times create weak men, Weak men create hard times.”

There, you just save $20 on my book. But in case you want to read more details, as well as such topics as proof of failure of the feminist movement, you may buy it from the company owned by the company founded by bourgeois billionaire businessman Jeff Bezos.

Meanwhile, here are some questions to ponder, most of which is addressed in my book, “Hard Times Create Strong Men.”

25 Questions to Help Determine if Men are Becoming an Endangered Species?

  1. Why are men so afraid to be men?
  2. What is the difference between being feminine and being a feminist?
  3. What were the goals of feminism, how many of them have been achieved, and what has been its outcome for the beloved women of our planet?
  4. What is the expanded version of the 10-second quote: “Hard times create strong men, Strong men create good times, Good times create weak men, and Weak men create hard times” as put into the context of historical cycles?
  5. Who were some of strong men in history?
  6. A popular buzz phrase these days is ‘toxic masculinity.’ Isn’t advocating traditional masculinity bucking the trend?
  7. From a temperament perspective, do you view President Trump as a strong or weak man and why?
  8. What is Zeitgeist and does Trump embody it?
  9. Who are the strong men in business? (Mark Zuckerberg? Elon Musk? Jeff Bezos?)
  10. Man is defined by his work. Is that an oversimplification of who a man is?
  11. Who is Stefan Aarnio? (besides a self-made multi-millionaire before 30 and 6 foot 4 inches tall and quite thin)
  12. Why did you fast in the rain forest of Costa Rica and do you suggest others fast?
  13. In seeking spiritual truth, what did you discover during your recent 40-day fast?
  14. How can a man or a woman balance virtue and vice?
  15. Historically, the term “Strong Man” has not always that complimentary, has it? Why do you use it?
  16. Strength is often measured by muscle and machismo but is there more to manhood than this?
  17. You like to quote Will Durant who said: “A nation is born a stoic and dies an epicurean.” How does that apply to our modern culture and where does the United States stand in its historical cycle?
  18. Back to philosophy, but not yours, this is a quote by Ayn Rand.. “A Creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others.” Agree or disagree and what does this mean?
  19. Zeitgeist: The defining spirit or mood of a particular period of history as shown by the ideas and beliefs of the time. What is the current defining spirit of this dot in space called earth?
  20. You’ve told us a lot about what men want, but what do women want and need?
  21. Is it possible to pursue manly goals, marry a woman, and have children, without abandoning the goals we have set out to do as men?
  22. And let’s say we hit it off with a woman and we want to tie the knot. What power shifts should we expect as we transition from single cave man into monogamous middleclass morality?
  23. Chapter 30 of your book, “Hard Times Create Strong Men” is titled “Extinction: The obsolescence of man.” What does this end look like?
  24. In the book, you wrote: “The greatest generation, the World War II generation, was born in the 1920s. By the time they were 10 years old, they were living in the Great Depression, a hard time that created strong men. After the Depression, these strong men fought in Europe in the 1940s, storming the beaches of Normandy. Wounded or not, they returned home to build a house with their bare hands, have several children, raise a family, and work at a job they may or may not have loved for 40 years until retirement.” Are we ever returning back to those days?
  25. How can men reverse the trend in becoming an endangered species?

ABOUT STEFAN AARNIO:

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Stefan Aarnio is an award-winning real estate investor, award-winning serial entrepreneur, motivational coach, educator and author of multiple books including his latest, “Hard Times Create Strong Men.

Having built his fortune through purchasing real estate at 40-60 cents on the dollar, Stefan became an avid student of negotiation at a young age testing and learning the principles in this book first-hand in the real world. On a day-to-day basis, Stefan is the CEO of two multi-million-dollar companies and travels the world educating business people and entrepreneurs to bring forward the next generation of success.

Currently, Stefan is on Talk Show encouraging men to be men and debunking so-called ‘toxic masculinity.’ His clarion call is for men to make a mass exodus from the crying zones on college campuses into inject themselves into the real world to showcase and celebrate their masculinity.