2017 is the third consecutive year that LG reports that its top of the line phone is not selling well. This year LG places the blame on “weaker than expected premium smartphone sales and increase in component costs.” Last year, the G5 was to blame for a “weak quarter” and in 2015 the G4 sales “fell short of expectations.” All attempts by LG to break into the premium smartphone market are failing.

As a company, LG is doing okay and does not rely on smartphone sales. The company has three divisions: Home Entertainment, Home Appliances, and Automotive components that are all doing well. In fact, LG has never made a profit on its smartphones and still hasn’t given up.

LG saw Samsung as its primary competitor and built the G6 to beat the S8 to the market. It was the decision to use the year-old Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor, that was the downfall of the G6. By going for an older processor, LG thought it has a three week lead over the S8, however, by the time the phone was available in the US, Samsung was accepting pre-orders for the S8.

Most reviews say that the S8 is just a better-built version of the G6. By trying to beat the S8 to market, LG sacrificed using the latest processor, ending up with a phone that cost as much as the S8 but was a generation behind in CPU.


The new flagship iPhones and Samsung Galaxy devices are fast, bring the latest version of the OS and state of the art features. Unfortunately, these top-end phones also carry flagship level prices. For the majority of people, these phones are too expensive and do not justify the cost. The good news is that thanks to Android, there are phones that are both affordable and fast. Here is what to look for in a new budget-friendly phone:

Processor

Unless you buy a used iPhone, every other phone uses some version of the Qualcomm Snapdragon. The latest version is the 835. The new chip relegates last year’s already fast 820 chip to second tier phones. Both the 820 and the 810 are more than sufficient for most people’s needs.

Memory

Memory is one spec where people might have issues with what comes with the phone. The lowest spec phones come with 16GB of built-in storage. Fortunately, most Android phones have SD-Card slots for expansion. SD-Cards are much cheaper than buying phones with more storage.

Camera

The camera is the area where the newest phones have the biggest advantage. Mobile camera technology is progressing rapidly, especially on the software side. For the advanced post processing to work, the phone needs the latest processors. However, when the new Google Pixel is released, there should be a price drop of the original model, making one of the best mobile cameras more affordable.

These are the three main areas that should affect your choice of smartphone. There are others like OS updates, but such features are mostly exclusive to top-end phones.


There are so many brands with so many models of routers that it is becoming harder and harder to choose. The boxes advertise feature after feature with no clear explanation of what they mean. Here are some points to note when buying a new router or access point:

Antennas

Do not be fooled by routers and other devices with several large antennas protruding from all sides. None of those make any difference to the signal strength of the device. Look at the technical specifications and see how many antennas are inside the device. Usually, three or more high gain antennas are what we want in a wireless device.

OS

Most vendors ship their devices with their OS. The problem with vendor specific software is that they rarely update them. Some vendors use open source operating systems like DD-WRT or OPEN-WRT. Such operating systems are feature rich and are maintained by the community.

Features

When it comes to routers, we want more than just internet connectivity and wireless. Features that most families find useful will include parental controls, bandwidth controls, device specific blocks and even a mini-firewall. More is not always better, but look out for features that you will find useful.

Build

Lastly, look at the build quality of the device. Cheap plastic construction will not last long and eventually become brittle over time. A good sturdy router will likely have quality components inside, which should last well beyond the warranty period.


robot women in technology background

robot women in technology background

Just a few years ago, artificial intelligence was the subject of science fiction. Now, not a single day goes by without some AI or machine learning driven advance. To be clear, when we talk about AI today, we refer to machine learning. It is using artificial intelligence to teach computers without any actual programming. Even in such a short span of time, it is already changing the way we do things.

Let us look at a few examples of machine learning implementation:

Sales – Platforms like salesforce.com are using machine learning to help sales teams target leads. Using data gathered from years of sales, the system could flag which leads have a higher probability of translating into sales.

Imaging – The primary example is of Google using machine learning to teach a computer how to upscale an image. The training used several thousand images. First, it analyzed the full-size image and then an image about a quarter of its size. It was then able to take any smaller image and produce a larger version with as much or more detail.

Language – Google also uses machine learning extensively on languages. The primary use so far has been in translation. For that to work, however, it required training on understanding the languages and then translating.

This is a small sample of how AI is becoming the next big thing in tech. So far, Google is in the lead with IBM not so far behind. Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft are all building out machine learning capability.

 


Systems administrators spend a lot of their time attending to periodic tasks. These tasks range from preventative maintenance to simple report generation. None of this is a problem until there is a critical issue that needs attention. The time spent on resolving any issues is the time that cannot be spent attending to these periodic tasks. The simplest and most efficient way is to automate as much of the regular tasks as possible. Here are two options for automating system administration tasks:

PowerShell

In a mostly Windows environment, PowerShell is a powerful scripting language that will allow most common tasks. There are modules that add support for Active Directory, Windows Server Backup, DHCP, DNS, and almost every service provided by Microsoft. The version of PowerShell varies depending on the version of Windows, although upgrades are available for older systems.

Python

Python is a popular programming language among systems administrators. There are courses specific to systems and network automation, which will teach you what you need specifically for those environments. Many systems have built-in API’s (application programming interfaces). You can use these API’s to extract data from the system without any human intervention. This way you can combine data from several systems to produce reports or dashboards.

These are the two most common languages used when it comes to automating systems tasks. It is even possible to combine both. When set on a schedule, it is as simple as setting and forgetting, freeing up time for other more important tasks.