Google Assistant rolls out to all recent Android devices

Article written by Menlo Software

Google unveiled its new conversational assistant last year during the launch of its new Pixel phone. At the time, the assistant was launched as an exclusive to the Pixel, Home and its chat app Allo. Now Google is making the assistant available to anyone with an Android 6 or Android 7 based smartphone.

Most industry watchers did not expect the Google Assistant to be made publicly available to phones from other vendors so quickly. It was meant as a unique selling proposition for its Pixel line of smartphones. However, due in large part to the sudden increase in devices with Amazon’s Alexa, Google has been forced to change plans.

At CES 2017, Vendors announced Alexa support for smartphones, refrigerators, home appliances and even cars. The sudden spate of Alexa announcements caught everyone, including Google off-guard. These announcements meant that unless Google Assistant were made available, Alexa would be everywhere. Also, Alexa is open to third party developers. As a result, it has thousands of skills that users can apply to the device.

However, it is still not too late for Google.  It can push an update that activates the assistant on the Google application overnight. By leveraging its presence on Android, it can add more than a hundred million devices to its user base overnight. It would not be surprising to see several hundred million users by the end of the year.

This does pose a problem for its Pixel 2 smartphone, which will not have the assistant as an exclusive to boost sales.

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Identifying the “Critical” in Mission Critical

Summary: Critical components imply pieces that a business cannot live with. The same goes for command centers.

 

It’s quite puzzling to define whether a mission critical operations center is essentially critical in today’s evolving business world. Now, plenty of owners have their opinions based on their industry, and it may be true that it does vary from company to company. However, when identifying what’s truly critical for a business is a better way to break the argument down.

 

Misidentification

 

When department managers or business units are asked what functionalities are most important to them in a command center, they’ll typically respond with their most important operations. However, this is not true. The bread and butter behind critical operation lies in the actual integrated system that’s used to support the business, as opposed to the systems and components involved.

 

Don’t mistake this for slander in regards to the technological equipment utilized. They’re just as important as the center itself. However, this article discussed critical components that make the center what it is.

 

Downtime

 

It’s important for a facility manager to address certain areas that they cannot live with – certain areas where operations cannot be disrupted, or the success of the company will be jeopardized. The manager can simply assume that every operation that’s ongoing is considered critical. But, is it really? For instance, one of the most overlooked components is the emergency generator. Without one, a glitch in the power grid could cause the entire company to lose thousands of dollars by the minute.

 

Facility managers must be able to identify and comprehend what aspects of the command center are critical. Only then will they be able to improve the center’s overall ability to provide situational awareness and efficiency to a business without sacrificing anything in the long run.

 

Blog submitted by Constant Technologies, Inc.: Every command center requires equipment like LED video walls, operations center desks, and more. Let ConstantTech.com provide you with insight on how to create the perfect mission critical operations center.

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Basic computer security mistakes you should avoid

Most Hackers are successful not because they have unknown methods of breaking into other computers, but because most end-users of computers and organizations make common and basic mistakes. Here are the most common mistakes everyone should avoid:

Updates

Updates to Microsoft and Apple products are free. All you need is internet access and a bit of time to download and install the updates. Most users ignore the update popup and continue to use the computer. Always update all your devices, apps, applications, operating systems, and computers.

Older versions

Another issue that is similar to the above is keeping older versions of the software. Most developers only maintain the latest version of the particular application. Most users keep older versions to avoid buying a newer version. Just remember that the older application could be a vector for an intrusion into your systems.

Downloads

Downloading random applications online is another threat. There are so many download sites that you need to ensure that any program you download is from a known developer. Also, when you download known applications, always do so from the official site. Third-party download sites often add Malware and Adware to downloads before making them available.

Piracy

In a recent study, security researchers found that almost 90% of pirated software came with Malware. The offending Malware was written into the applications, making it impossible to remove. Saving a few bucks by downloading a pirated applications might open your computer up to Malware and even Ransomware.

 

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The Basics of Integrating a Command Center for Your Business

Are you looking into a command center for your organization? Well, you’re one of the many owners that’s making a wise decision. For one, command centers can provide your company with unprecedented security measures and a global eye that can survey any segment of your business with relative ease. Here are some steps that’ll help you get started.

 

How Much is too Much?

 

First off, you’ll want to consider how much you want to invest into your command center. As great as it would be to have a high-tech network operations center video wall integrated, you want to ask yourself if it’s worth it. Is your company that large in scale that it requires a full-fledged operating center that’s staffed with dozens of specialists? If not, you could easily have a much smaller center that can work on LED video wall displays and a few employees running the show.

 

Work With an Experienced Contractor

 

Another priority that you’ll have to consider is finding the right contractor that’ll create your command center from the ground up. Companies like ConstantTech.com and other A/V integrators are highly recommended due to their knowledge and years of experience. Speaking of which, experience in the field is one of the primary aspects of the hiring process. Don’t consider contractors that do not have a solid track record. Doing so may result in a loss when it comes to your investment as well as a huge headache to add to it.

 

Final Thoughts

 

Whether you’re a large company or a smaller business, having a command center that operates completely on its own can be a huge benefit for you. With so many companies integrating these centers into their business plans, it’s no wonder they’re taking off so quickly. Just remember to keep an eye out on your initial investment so you don’t allocate a significant amount that’s worth more than you can afford.

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How Security Personnel Can Improve Productivity in a Command Center

Summary: By addressing specific needs, a command center can be more productive and efficient.

With the increased use of video surveillance for any organization, along with computer-based systems, it’s crucial officers that are working in these centers be trained correctly.

Training the Officers

Security officers that work in a command center must be trained in using the security cameras as well as identifying suspicious activity. This includes what is happening in both the foreground and the background of a video image. They also must be taught how to interact with the dispatch and patrol team, as well as understand all the policies associated with it. Providing them with this training will increase their productivity levels as well as provide them with a well-rounded repertoire that they can pull out in emergency situations.

Balancing Technology With Other Duties

The increased volumes of information generated by command centers demand that security officers be trained to balance technology and paper-based tasks appropriately. They must learn how to monitor control systems, answer phones, report incidents, and more. It’s crucial that the officers that are working within the command center have a basic knowledge of their technical surroundings which allow them to be more versatile in the case of an incident.

Limiting Video Monitor Time

The quality of attention by officers monitoring live video feeds tends to drop significantly after a an extended amount of time. To counter this, officers that are scheduled for the same shift will switch duties every couple of hours. Monitoring in the command station and patrolling are two entirely different, but equally important, tasks for an officer. Balancing this can provide improved efficiency and productivity for the organization.

Blog submitted by Constant Technologies, Inc.: For a quality showpiece video wall or LCD video display design for a command center, trust the experts at Constant Technologies, Inc.

 

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Three drawbacks of the new Pixel 2

Google took the wraps off its new Pixel 2 phone lineup last week. The phones have what the best Android camera and maybe the best smartphone camera on the market today. The problem lies in choosing between the Pixels and the competition. Here are some of the drawbacks of the new Pixel phones.

Camera

The first drawback is that the Pixel 2 and the Pixel 2 XL have the same camera. It is good to provide the same technology and capabilities across the two models. However, there should have been more differentiation between the Pixel 2 and the XL. As it stands, all you get for $200 extra is a bigger screen and battery.

Headphone Jack

Like Apple, LeEco, and Lenovo, Google removed the headphone jack from the Pixel 2. Google does provide an alternative to the AirPod but does not address what happens when you want to charge your phone and listen to music at the same time. It is a pain point for iPhone users and Google should have addressed that as part of the presentation.

Bezels

The screen on the Pixel 2 XL is not as impressive as some of its peers. The screen is not edge-to-edge as some of the others. Also, to make room for the dual speakers, there is a larger forehead and chin. The screen itself is amazing with vibrant colors and proper blacks. However, if you want an edge-to-edge screen or a bigger screen for the form factor, then you will want either the iPhone X or the Note 8.

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