As developers for tablets and smartphones we like to keep abreast of the latest mobile technology developments . This is a daily digest of mobile development and related technology news gathered from the BBC, the New York Times, New Scientist and the Globe and Mail to name a few. We scour the web for articles concerning, iPhone, iPad and android development, iOS and android operating systems as well as general articles on advances in mobile technology. We hope you find this useful and that it helps to keep you up to date with the latest technology developments.

Growing a Tech Startup: Knowing When and How to Scale

Starting a company is thrilling and terrifying all at once. I can only describe it as “energizing stress.” I’ve started and helped start five companies in my career, each one having similarities to those before it. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that it’s absolutely vital to know how and when to scale. Scale too early and you will likely fail. Scale too late and you’ll miss an opportunity. Want to learn how to do it well? Read on.

Start Small – Do Things That Don’t Scale

Paul Graham of Y Combinator wrote an amazing blog called “Do Things That Don’t Scale.” The idea is that we all want to believe that successful startups like AirBnB and Zappos were high functioning machines from day one. But in fact, these and almost all successful companies started out the hard way by doing things manually.

The first MVP of Zappos involved a shiny landing page and not much more. Nick Swinmurn, Zappos founder, went to local shoe stores, took pictures of shoes, and put these pictures on a website. When a shoe sold, he walked to the shoe store, bought the shoe, and mailed it himself.

By doing things that don’t and can’t scale like Zappos did, you learn a lot about your market, what it takes to get customers, and what it takes to delight these customers. And you can learn these critical lessons without breaking the bank or having to raise a Seed round.

The Aha Moment

Yet, at some point, every startup founder wakes up and says one of two things:

“Wait a minute, I might be onto something;” or

“This isn’t going to work, I’m throwing in the towel.”

You see, up until this aha moment, the root mission of the startup is “don’t fail”. Sure, you’re testing a hypothesis and trying to achieve product/market fit. And you’re hopefully doing things manually that don’t scale so that you can conduct experiments quickly and cost effectively.

If your aha moment is, “Wait a minute, I might be onto something,” you must change your behavior.

That’s right. You simply cannot “just” put more effort into the things you have done to date. Rather, it’s critical to recognize this period of change and be proactive about materially changing your behavior to reflect this next phase of your startup.

Why? The Greiner Curve, created decades ago by Larry Greiner, illustrates how all businesses go through six distinct phases of growth and relative calm (evolution/growth) alternating with six distinct phases of chaos (revolution/crisis):

(Source: Startup-Book.com)

It is during these distinct periods of chaos that most businesses fail. Your first aha moment represents the first period of revolution, and a pivotal moment for your business.

And, yes, it may feel as though your startup is in a constant state of “chaos,” but if you reflect on it, I bet you will discover distinct periods of calm vs. chaos.

React Correctly

Once you recognize this period of chaos, reacting correctly is the main task at hand. Do this:

Consider getting outside advice. Periods of chaos are often the best times to bring in a CEO coach or form an Advisory Board.

Start to do things that scale. Draw a mind map of all areas of your business. It might look like this:

Identify one or two areas where you feel you are drowning in manual process. Maybe your sales or recruiting pipeline is in Excel. Maybe your marketing consists of emails sent one by one. Do these one or two things differently. Maybe you buy a CRM system or an applicant tracking system. Maybe you change the way your team makes decisions so that decisions are decentralized and not all going through you. Start to scale with the areas of business that could benefit from it most.

And Then… Pause

After you pick the one or two areas of the business that are most thirsty for change, go back to the “calm”. Give the new state of things time to adjust, to work. Don’t panic. If you do, you’ll wind up changing too many things too quickly. Feel confident in your choice and give it a month. Set yourself a reminder on your calendar for 30 days from now to check in with yourself. The key here is to set the reminder today — don’t wait until a few weeks have passed.

Also, for extra credit, write down what you expect to happen. For example: “By using a CRM system, I expect to be able to not drop any sales leads through the cracks and I also expect to be able to close X deals per month.”


Scaling a business is like jumping a series of concentric hurdles, each one bigger and higher than the one before it. When you start, start small. As you grow, you must get bigger, stronger, faster. And yet, the object of the race remains the same: win.

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Why This VC Says We're Not In Another Dot-Com Bubble

The Nasdaq hit at a 15-year high on Thursday, fueling fresh speculation that the stock market is experiencing another dot-com bubble like the one of the 1990s that could burst at any time.

Not so, says venture capitalist Tony Tjan.

“You’re definitely in a very significant boom period,” the bespectacled managing director of the Boston-based VC firm Cue Ball Capital told The Huffington Post on Thursday. “But you’re not in a bubble.”

To be sure, Tjan has skin in the game. Cue Ball Capital’s portfolio is filled with tech companies, including the commenting service Livefyre, legal data firm Lex Machina and the real estate analytics site SmartZip.

It is tempting for financial pundits to compare today’s market to that of 2000, when the dot-com bubble burst, sending stock prices plummeting and closing down some prominent early Internet companies, such as pet supply site Pets.com, web hosting service GeoCities and plaything retailer eToys.com

Back then, the ratio of a companies’ stock price to earnings soared on sheer speculation that growth would continue — but investors ignored P/E ratio as a usual metric of a company’s financial health.

“It’s high, but it’s a fraction of what that [was],” Tjan said of ratios today.

When it came to initial public offerings back in 2000, Wall Street was so confident in the future success of unproven companies, that 80 percent of firms that went public in 2000 didn’t even turn profits, according to CNN Money. There are companies with frothy valuations, but fewer and fewer are going public. To the extent that there is a new tech boom, it’s among private companies, not those listed on the Nasdaq.

Today, the global market has more than 20 so-called “unicorns” — venture capital-backed companies valued at over $1 billion — including Uber, Chinese cellphone maker Xiaomi and the ephemeral messaging app Snapchat, according to Cue Ball. But none of these has gone public. And the rate of IPOs is far lower. In 2000, 446 companies went public, compared to 275 last year. So far this year, 45 companies have gone public, according to the market research firm Renaissance Capital.

Eventually, some of these companies will likely see their values drop as a natural part of the market correction, Tjan said.

“There are ones that will be significantly corrected or go out of business,” he said. “But I don’t think it’s nearly the same.”

Perhaps the biggest difference between 2000 and now is that most companies today build business models off actual necessities, not just “bets on novelty,” Tjan said.

“Back then, you’d have companies trying to do everything as crazy as sell 99-cent pet food in a $20 FedEx box and think that was a good business,” he said with a laugh. “You have a greater rationality and maturation of the business models, and a greater understanding of what’s going on.”

– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Best Teen Tweets Of The Week! (4/24/15)

Every week, we round up the best 140-character quips and insights from our esteemed blogging team — and other equally awesome teen tweeters. Scroll down to read the latest batch and share your own suggestions by following @HuffPostTeen!

just told a joke out loud. hope it all wrks out

— Celine Polenghi (@celinepolenghi) April 19, 2015

when I see drama on my timeline pic.twitter.com/iSdMqZcwsK

— Ben J. Pierce (@BenJPierce) April 21, 2015

someone should just sit and listen to me explain my favorite movie plots to them

— gnarly carly (@_carlyquinn) April 23, 2015

I just bought a $9 Lily Pulitzer nail polish at Target so you can say I’m bathing in riches

— Kami Baker (@Peeta_is_aBAKER) April 22, 2015

I just made beautiful perfect scrambled eggs + yet my family still out here saying “justina can’t cook”

I set the stove on fire ONE time

— Justina Sharp (@bentpieceofwire) April 24, 2015

Bellela Thorne is here but not Zendaya smh how is she gonna shake it up alone

— Nathan Zed (@TheThirdPew) April 21, 2015

“lose the attitude”

i don’t have one pic.twitter.com/XIFfzZsOtR

— FREDDY (@FreddyAmazin) April 22, 2015

Kids are so lucky they get ppl to read them stories at bedtime just bc they’re cute and small. My friends won’t do that for me.

— Lycia Faith (@lyciafaith) April 22, 2015

I didn’t write my essay bc I couldn’t stop dancing to old Britney Spears songs from 2006 and I wish I was kidding

— m brady (@meganbradyyy) April 20, 2015

The irony level of Waka Flocka actually running for president would only be surpassed by Waka Flocka actually becoming president

— Matt Morris (@dj_mooselini) April 22, 2015

Okay yes maybe I favorite all your tweets in a manner very similar to that of a crazy person but I’m not crazy I just super enjoy you

— Timothy Wilder (@wilder_timothy) April 21, 2015

ok so my dad just bought a selfie stick and this is the first thing he sends me pic.twitter.com/pZGUCtpITN

— chloe bada$$ (@angel_emoji) April 19, 2015

one of the worst things in life is getting really comfortable in bed and then realizing you have to pee

— bea (@BeaMiller) April 22, 2015

beyoncé’s in hawaii and there are palm trees there

i’m in ecuador and there are palm trees here

basically i’m vacationing with beyoncé

— ya boy anthony (@LOHANTHONY) April 18, 2015

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'Most Likely To Succeed': Schools Should Teach Kids To Think, Not Memorize

Fourth-grader Scout is struggling to keep her composure during a parent-teacher conference as the teacher expounds upon the character-building aspects of having failed a math quiz. She fixes her tearful gaze in the distance. “I know that face,” says her father, filmmaker Greg Whiteley. “That face is saying, ‘This is bullshit. This whole thing called school is bullshit.’”

Whiteley’s latest documentary, “Most Likely to Succeed,” delivers a message Americans need to hear, and desperately: our schools are failing our children, leaving them unable to think critically and contribute to an innovation economy.

The educational system is broken. Or at least outmoded, says Larry Rosenstock, founding principal and CEO of High Tech High, a network of schools upending the current framework in California. “We have a system that was created over 100 years ago and everyone has a mental model that says that’s the way it has to be,” he told The Huffington Post.

For too long, the primary focus of education has been the acquisition of knowledge, explains Tony Wagner, expert-in-residence at the Harvard Innovation Lab. “The whole idea is: [if] you know more stuff, you’re going to be better off, for whatever sets of reasons. And the only way to get it is through the teacher,” he says in the film. “You don’t have to do that anymore. Today, content is ubiquitous, it’s free, it’s on every Internet-connected device, and it’s growing exponentially and changing constantly.”

High Tech High’s methods eschew the traditional instruction of what educators call “content knowledge” — equations, dates, facts. Instead, the schools strive to foster creative problem-solving with a multidisciplinary curriculum. In lieu of tests, students present collaborative projects that require artistic vision, mathematical prowess and historical understanding. As in life, failure is not a letter grade.

But success is what most students find. Boasting a 98 percent college-matriculation rate among graduates, High Tech High warrants a closer look, and Whiteley’s documentary devotes a full year to examining the project.

“The film derives its strength from Greg [Whiteley], a caring father who starts on this thinking we should have more testing and longer school days, and he makes the same path and the same journey as he wants our audience to take, ” says executive producer Ted Dintersmith. “I spent 25 years in venture capitalism, and I could see a few things very clearly: one is how quickly routine jobs are going to be replaced by automated solutions.”

Stressing the urgency of changing the education system amid America’s lousy job market, he added: “The only surviving skills that will save young kids are creative and innovative. As the current school system is now, for 12 of 16 years, you’re not in an environment that brings that out of them.”

Rosenstock strives to uncover educators who connect student work to the practical world. Mark Aguirre, a humanities teacher at High Tech High since 2001, is a prime example of the type of educator Rosenstock seeks out. “You’ve been trained to raise your hands,” Aguirre tells his students in the film. Out of character for most ninth-grade teachers, Aguirre employs Socratic seminars, instructing his students to imagine a classroom without his presence: “You need to talk to each other and get used to that instead of always looking at me.”

As often as parents and students embrace Rosenstock’s model, others communicate uncertainty, particularly as High Tech High’s unconventional approach relates to teaching math skills.

“We’re not for everyone, and parental anxiety about math is most common,” said Rosenstock. “Parents think, ‘If my kid’s good at math, they’re smart; if my kid is bad at math, they’re not.’ We know that’s not true. Anxiety about a child’s math ability slips off around ninth or tenth grade, when the level of math that the child is doing is still what the parent can handle. After that, it’s no longer math that they can do themselves because they don’t use it because they don’t need it.” By focusing on application, High Tech High dispenses with rote memorization.

During our conversation, Rosenstock stepped into the hall at High Tech High to read aloud from a prominent banner scrawled with Campbell’s law: “The more any quantitative social indicator (or even some qualitative indicator) is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor.”

“Most Likely to Succeed” implores viewers to consider the human consequences of education. “The question is,” said Rosenstock, “who do you want your child to be?”

“Most Likely to Succeed” is featured at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival.

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Sheryl Sandberg: 'As A Woman Gets More Successful.. She Is Less Liked'

Ellen Pao’s high-profile gender discrimination lawsuit has resonated with women across Silicon Valley and beyond — including Sheryl Sandberg.

In a recent interview with Virgin Group founder Richard Branson and Bloomberg, the Facebook executive said she saw many of her own experiences reflected in Pao’s case against venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

“We have systematic stereotypes of women, and systematic biases of women,” said Sandberg, adding that she wrote of similar experiences as a woman in a male-dominated industry in her book Lean In. “For men, likability and success is correlated. As they get more successful, more powerful, they’re better liked. For women, success and likability are negatively correlated. As a woman gets more successful, more powerful, she is less liked.”

Pao, a former partner at Kleiner Perkins, lost her suit on March 27 after a jury rejected her claims that she was denied promotions and then fired after she complained.

Women continue to be disproportionately absent from high-level positions in businesses. Though they represent around half of the country’s workforce, women account for just 22 percent of senior managers. The higher they go, the bleaker the statistics: Only 24 of the S&P 500 companies have female CEOs.

“There is not an industry out there, no matter how many of its workers are women, that has enough women in leadership,” Sandberg told Bloomberg.

Pao’s lawsuit drew significant attention to an industry long dogged by gender disparity and reports of sexual harassment. Facebook and Twitter, for example, are both currently facing gender discrimination lawsuits from former employees.

Check out the full interview with Sandberg and Branson at Bloomberg.com.

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New LED Lights Could Play Huge Role In Ending Malaria

Researchers have pinpointed a potentially impactful weapon in the fight against malaria: LED light.

The deadly disease killed an estimated 584,000 people in 2013, mostly in poor and developing regions of Africa, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). And transmission of the disease by female mosquitoes — deemed the deadliest animals on earth by philanthropist Bill Gates — is to blame.

A study published in The Royal Society and provided to The Huffington Post found that all arthropods analyzed (including mosquitoes) were significantly less attracted to customized LED lighting than light transmitted by compact fluorescents.

Research was conducted by researchers from the University of Southern California (USC), University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and Philips Research, based in the Netherlands.

“For places in the world where glass windows and screens are uncommon, reducing insect attraction to indoor lights is a big deal,” Travis Longcore, lead author of the study and a professor at USC, told Fast Company. He said the research is proof that customized LED lighting can be beneficial for both people and the environment.

The study did note, however, that all lamp types used during the research attracted more insects than the no-light control group, so using any form of artificial light will have varying degrees of adverse effects.

Although there’s much room for improvement, the world has come a long way in combating the disease: Global deaths due to malaria have dropped 47 percent since 2000 because of increased prevention, WHO reports. The study claims its findings could be the catalyst for further progress, should lighting engineers prioritize human health along with other factors, like price, display and durability.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article referred to malaria as a virus. In fact, it is a parasitic infection.

To take action on pressing health issues, check out the Global Citizen’s widget below.

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Personalizing the In-Store Experience — Will Consumers Give Up Their Privacy?

(This post is a summary of an independent project completed at Harvard Business School. Click here for the complete paper. The Burberry example is purely hypothetical.)

Apple’s iBeacon, a location positioning system based on Bluetooth low energy technology, made the use of consumers’ location in companies’ marketing activities more prevalent. However, most documented uses of iBeacon and other similar systems have been focused on pushing marketing and sales promotions to consumers. Besides this, retailers have otherwise played a passive role, waiting for consumers to act on the promotional offers.

But imagine the scenario where consumers’ location data is used to notify sales staff instead of pushing potentially annoying and irrelevant promotions to consumers:

You are on your way to your favorite luxury clothing retailer, Burberry, to buy a gift for your significant other’s birthday. As you enter the Burberry store, your smartphone informs the Burberry sales staff (via their iPads) that you are in the store.

Upon notification, the sales staff can see your past Burberry purchases online and in-store and your interests based on your activity on Burberry.com (e.g. Burberry items you viewed, items in your online Burberry shopping cart, etc.). From this information, the sales staff noticed that you were viewing products under “Gifts for Him/Her.”

The sales staff member greets you by name, introduces him/herself, and says that based on the information in your Burberry profile, you’re searching for a gift for someone and asks if s/he can help you with recommendations.

After selecting the gift for your significant other, the sales staff tells you that the newest version of the scarf you purchased last year just arrived and asks if you want to view it. In addition, the sales staff invites you to an invitational-only Burberry event next Friday.

In a generalized version of the above scenario, luxury retailers’ sales staff can use the knowledge that a high value customer is in the store, in combination with data on the customer’s historical shopping behavior, to provide an enhanced in-store experience. In turn, this could lead to opportunities to cross-sell, up-sell, or simply increase the size of the customer’s purchase basket. However, can concerns over privacy be a showstopper? Past research have shown that consumers are willing to give up information in return for personalized online services, but few have looked at this topic from an in-store perspective.

Preliminary data from a survey of ~200 consumers showed that while there are similarities in the results between consumers’ sensitivity towards on- and off-line privacy, there are also differences as well. Like their online counterparts, respondents’ answers showed that past negative experiences led to lower willingness to share and higher concerns about sharing their information. Furthermore, respondents’ frequency of mobile shopping, retailers’ use of trust-building mechanisms (i.e. transparent data collection policies and third party privacy safeguards), and the perceived value of the personalized services all led to increased comfort with sharing information.

However, unlike in the online realm, traditional trust-building mechanisms were not sufficient to mitigate respondents’ concerns in sharing their personally identifiable information. It appears that only personal experience with the retailer (e.g. having made a previous purchase) decreased respondents’ concerns, and increased their willingness, in sharing their personal information. Male respondents also tended towards having lower concerns and higher willingness to share in return for personalized experiences. Regardless of gender, these results suggest that retailers that require personally identifiable information need to begin by focusing on generating consumers’ trust through first time purchases or other types of trust-building interactions prior to offering any personalization based on other data sources.

As retailers move towards refreshing their POS systems and unifying their commerce platforms they need to consider the data architecture required to support in-store personalized services and the IT infrastructure needed to ameliorate consumers’ privacy concerns. Not all their customers will share the same level of sensitivity towards their information, and even within an individual that sensitivity will vary across different types of information. Responsive retailers that develop the flexibility to adapt to each customer’s privacy sensitivity will be better situated to capture and deliver value to customers who want the personalized service and avoid the negative PR backlash from those who don’t.

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The Grid: Startup Promises AI Webdesign for the Masses

The Gutenberg Press revolutionized printing in the 15th century, but it wasn’t until the 1980s that the dot matrix printer brought the ability to print into every home.

Today, the much celebrated power of the Internet to demolish barriers to publishing for the average person still requires the use of cumbersome intermediaries or “walled gardens” like Facebook.

Enter The Grid, a San Francisco and Berlin based startup founded on a simple truth: everyone wants a website. No one wants to build a website. The Grid promises to fully democratize the promise of the Web for a modest monthly fee ($8 for early adopters who commit to a year, $25 for latecomers).

Yes, website builders like WordPress have been around for a while. The infamous Geocities websites of the dawn of the web were a type of basic website builder. Allowing website creation with a minimal use of code, drag and drop interfaces like Wix and Squarespace enable creation of presentable websites with a bit of work.

But according to founder Dan Tocchini IV, The Grid, launching in June, will level the playing field even more. Tocchini points to the words of the great web prophet, Steve Jobs himself.

In a 1996 Wired magazine interview, Jobs presciently observed that the promise of the web was that “[a]n individual can put up a website that, if they put enough work into it, looks just as impressive as the largest company in the world… It’s a very profound thing, and a very good thing.”

Tocchini claims “We’re getting the cruft of websites out of the way, this will help level the playing field in the spirit of Steve’s quote, and keep focus on the real, hard work – creating quality content.”

The Grid looks impressive.

But how does it work? The Grid is essentially a website builder with a benevolent artificial intelligence behind the scenes. (Really a complex set of algorithms.) You feed the ghost in the machine with content and it builds a design around it. Most attractively, it continues to evolve as you feed it more content.

Imagine you start with simply a title, some text, and a few pictures. With a traditional website builder, that little content, unaltered and un-prettified, is going to look terrible, incomplete, you might as well put up one of the 1990s construction icons that blighted so many websites in those days. (Millennials, take my word for it. Not only was the web figuratively the wild west, there were actually tumbleweed icons on websites. Cray, huh?)

But with The Grid, that sparse content will be organized with an artificially intelligent artistic sensibility that makes it look like your meager efforts are intended. Visitors will think that it is all by design. And it kind of is. As you upload more content, your website will continuously update itself and reformat the content so that the initially prominent-by-necessity images recede into the background based on the algorithms’ behind the scenes work.

There is a growing realization that everyone is a content creator of some kind through social media. But, when a service is free, you are the product. As The Grid asks, cheekily, why build Zuck’s website (Facebook) when, with a radically simplified interface, you can build your own?

It isn’t difficult to see the promise: flash websites set up to capitalize on a cultural second–like Oreo’s 2013 Superbowl blackout tweet–or just a close to real time updated website for a soccer team, or camping trip, without being mediated by Facebook or Tumblr.

For time strapped entrepreneurs too, The Grid’s promise is undeniable: you can literally set up a site in minutes and actively curate it with the same ease and less investment than social media. If it all pans out, it will be a true game changer.

When e-commerce comes online, The Grid will offer an affordable alternative for product sales and fundraising–the company promises to only pass on transaction costs with no additional fees.

It’s a pretty exciting premise, and one that has convinced 35,000 thousand people and counting to sign up without so much as a beta run in exchange for a permanently discounted rate of $8 a month for the life of their subscription.

But then there’s the million dollar question: can the Grid deliver?

Skeptics, among them web designers who claim The Grid’s code is inelegant and will result in “SEO nightmares,” flatly state that it won’t work as promised.

Founder Tocchini disagrees. In an exclusive demonstration for the Huffington Post, Tocchini made on the fly changes to the main Grid website, and sure enough they just worked. Bolstering Tocchini’s confidence is the impressive pedigree of talented folks working on The Grid–ex-Googlers, a former Medium design guru, and a bunch of great software engineers.

In a similar presentation to a gathering of startup entrepreneurs, Tocchini wowed the crowd and demonstrated some of The Grid’s promise.

The Grid Ai website Builder Demo from Clement Farah on Vimeo.

With a planned roll out in June, soon dreamers will be able to judge for themselves if Tocchini’s dream will be the one that enables their own. It appears to be at worst, a very very slick tool, and at best, a truly transformative tool that will fulfill Steve Jobs’s vision of a level playing field for every Girl Scout troop, small business, theater troupe, struggling artist, or even bigger concern that wants a snap website to exploit a cultural moment.

The Grid launches in June and offers the ability to create seven different websites, with professional level design sensibilities that evolve and grow as you provide more content. Pre-orders receive a year for $96 with a grandfathered $8 a month price, after launch The Grid will be $25 a month for new subscribers. Users can run up to seven websites through one account. E-commerce will not be available at launch, but is promised by the end of the year. More details about The Grid can be found on the company’s website.

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Finding Cheap Flights 101

I’ve been traveling pretty intensely for many years. When I had a full time entertainment job with minimal pay, I took at least twice monthly weekend trips and bi-annual overseas trips. When I had a more remote job, I roamed for long periods of time. As a result, when I catch up with friends who have kept up with my travels, they almost always ask me… “How the hell do you afford it?”

When planning a trip, your main costs are airfare/transportation, accommodation, food, and fees for adventures. Just keeping your flight costs down is half the battle. As daunting as it seems, finding a cheap flight is not impossible and shouldn’t require that much time and effort. I flew to New York on a $296 nonstop flight on Virgin America last week, and I’ve also gone on a three-month trip to South America that required sixteen flights, all for a total $1600 (including travel insurance.) I’ve even done a three-week European tour flying from Chicago to six countries and ten cities for only $1250. Cheap flights are possible, you just need to know where to look.

First things first.

Close out all your windows and both your browsers, now reopen them, and clear your cookies, twice. Yes, twice. If you have Safari, go to Preferences >> Remove all website data >> Wait for it to refresh >> Remove all website data again. If it says you still have cookies, you can go into “Details” and manually remove them. Why be an anti-cookie monster? To ensure that travel sites don’t charge you a higher price for revisiting their site! There have been times when I looked at a site the day after a big search and my flights went up by $1000, then I remembered to clear the cookies and the prices dropped back down to what they were before. This is an important step. Don’t forget to do it.

Now, for the good stuff.

When You Know Your Destination

Three sites to start with:


I’m sure you all know what Kayak is by now, but start here, as it searches other search engines and gives you a good range of options and prices to start with. More importantly, it gives you a good base for all your other searches. And you should definitely do a few.


Utilize the filters for arrival / departure times, nonstop vs 1 stop, sort by trip duration, etc. Set a wide enough range that you see all the options that are ideal – sort of ideal.

This will give you an idea of what the ideal – sort of ideal trip time is regardless of price so you know what to look for. You don’t want to be on a trip for fifteen hours with a seven hour layover when the usual trip times would be six-eight hours.

Look out for: common stopovers to your destination, price range, regional airlines that go to your destination. Make a note of it so you can make more specific searches on other search engines and specific airline websites. If I see an option on United one way and American another, but not the time combinations I want, I search on those airline’s sites for each leg and come up with not only the times I want but a cheaper deal.

Kayak doesn’t include JetBlue or Southwest so make sure to look those flights up separately.

If you have flexible dates, make sure to indicate that before starting the search and look at the price grid that Kayak creates for you to get the big picture of prices.


If you’re going to Europe or Australia, Skyscanner is a search engine much like Kayak. However, I find that their search engine is better for those two continents than elsewhere so it is definitely worth checking them out if you’re headed that way.


Don’t know where to go exactly? Type in “Everywhere” in the “To” text field and it will give you all your destination options based on price! Super fun feature I love.


Hipmunk’s algorithm allows you to sort by agony-level (combination of price, duration and number of stops.)

A great feature and one that works really well especially if you’re faced with an overwhelming number of options that vary between a wide range of trip durations. The visual presentation of your options make it way less painful to sort through.


Once you figure out the flights you want, you can cross check the price by finding that flight directly on the airline’s website or on Kayak.

Regional Search Engines

When you’re trying to find flights between countries in a region or within a country, it is helpful to find the local search engines for budget airlines.

In Southeast Asia for example, the budget carrier AirAsia won multiple “Best Low Cost Airline” awards between 2009 – 2014 and has revolutionized travel in the region. In their case, checking their website directly for both in-country and international flights within Southeast Asia is worth it.

In Indonesia, Tiket.com and Tiket2.com is great because not only do they search all the low-cost carriers in Indonesia, they let you pay with a credit card (unlike most airline websites there that require an antiquated and unsafe ATM-transfer system.) Plus, their searches generate combinations of different airlines, showing you the best times and prices, regardless of airline.

Unfortunately, I can’t list every regional search engine and every low cost carrier in the world here, but it’s worth a google search to find out what exists in the region you’re headed to.

When You Don’t Have a Specific Destination

Google Flights

An often overlooked search engine, Google Flights is a fantastic option when you’re looking for a cheap destination within a set time frame. When you plug in your dates, and leave the destination field blank, it shows you a map of the world and all the prices for flights to those destinations! My New York-based friends just spent the weekend in Sweden because they found a flight there for $300. An awesome tool for spontaneous travel!

The Flight Deal

This site is excellent for when you don’t have a specific destination or date in mind. The site shows you deals to places that won’t really be listed elsewhere. They give you a time frame for when the deal is valid, step-by-step instructions on how to search for the deal and book the flight, mileage details, and routing options. Serious deals are posted here, like LA – Tangiers, Morocco for $770, LA – Capetown for $1040, NYC – Trinidad & Tobago for $300. Start racking up those vacation days, you’re going to want to go to town — well, out of town — with this site.

Long Term / Multi-City Itinerary


AirTreks specializes in Round The World (RTW) itineraries and they have agents working for them that help you plan super-complicated itineraries. When I planned my three months in South America, my trip initially came out to about $4500. I worked with one of their agents to figure out the perfect route to minimize my cost, and still hit all the places I wanted to during a very specific time frame. Ultimately my trip came out to $1600 for sixteen legs/flights and that cost included travel insurance. Really can’t beat this service for multi-stop itineraries.

Last Steps


With all the airline options out there, I try not to skimp on safety. When I travel to a new region and I’m given flight options from airlines that I am unfamiliar with, I make sure to check Skytrax. There, you can find reviews from passengers, safety ratings, comfort ratings and all that good stuff. I never fly on an airline I’ve never been on without checking this first. Do take the reviews with a grain of salt however, as you know, people exaggerate or have unrealistic expectations on these review sites, so use your own judgement.


When it’s time to book my seats, I use SeatGuru to make sure I’m not in a seat near a bathroom, in a seat that reclines and one with a window. Extra step to your booking, but so worth it.

There you go, now you are no longer restricted to the usual methods and same old search engines when it comes to finding flights on the cheap, and I hope you find your next adventure soon! Look out for my next post, all about finding the coolest places to stay!

Happy hunting!

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User Experience (UX) Trumps SLAs

There are numerous articles that talk about the recent changes in the world and what they mean for the workplace; I’ve written some of them myself. Over and over, the same foundational factors get repeated – we are always on and connected (enabled by mobile and cloud), the frequent debate about the “new” multi-tasking norm, that the data is all out there in the info sphere… This repetition is not necessarily a bad thing, (especially as there still seem to be people that think these things are the future), but the upshot is that design and User Experience (UX) are now a fundamental aspect in the delivery of successful products and services.

I recently read an interesting article on workplace expectations. It seems to me that the expectations that appear ever rising have affected the more traditional expectations of product and service delivery, which used to be managed by Service Level Agreements (or SLA’s – a typical contract between a service provider and receiver, to define what the customer will receive e.g. a cloud service might have a guaranteed uptime of 99.9%).

This article looked deeper into the impact of design and deployment of Enterprise Solutions as it pertains to the new wave of millennials that are flooding the workplace and bringing a whole new dynamic on how the rest of the workforce interacts, communicates and stays connected in and out of the office. This is becoming more and more poignant because “by 2016, almost 80 percent of PwC’s workforce will be comprised of Millennials!” Just re-read that for a second – within 2 years, approximately 80% of a tier 1 consulting firm’s employees will be under 35!

Now, I must say that I do not personally like sweeping generalizations across generational differences, but avoiding or simply being slow to adjust to this dramatic change will result in failure. Delivering successful enterprise solutions & products is going to DEPEND on the ability to assimilate the changing expectations and capitalize on the new normal.

To me, it isn’t necessarily just the age, or the year in which people were born (Millennials are 1980-2005 which, in my opinion, is far too broad in terms of this subject); it is all about when you learnt how to learn. In fact, this is one of the points brought out in the article above – the expectations of millennials are being adopted and inherited by other generations.

Think back to the time when you were absorbing the world around you at an incredible pace and had a thirst to explore – what was the world like? What interactions were you accustomed to? Were you there with the dial phone (where you tried not to have too many friends with 9′s in their number) was it the party lines or Skype? It was at these times that you started creating your own baseline for expectations and interactions.

The rate of these changes has also become incredibly fast. What used to be a decade long generational change is now taking place in a matter of a few short years. The chart (click to expand) below illustrates how some of the main changes in computers, telephones and the internet have become increasingly rapid. It also shows the generations, and various “times of learning” (roughly, the first 18 years of life) for each, depending if you were born at the beginning, middle or end.

Another factor is the shortening cycle of introduction. How long did it take before TV was widely adopted? Versus the computer at home. Versus the internet, cell, smartphone… We seem to be shortening these cycles ever more and more.

So, why should we care that a “critical mass of the new generation begins to shake up the status quo of the global work culture“. Well, as one demographic group of users of Enterprise Solutions, millennials impact us as employees, who we also want to adopt the products we deploy. They have grown up seeing these changes and becoming accustomed to them at a young age (especially the younger ones). They do not, as users, tolerate a bad experience and will quickly look for a work around. For example, they may have a reputation for being “typically impatient” but really it is that their expectation baseline is fundamentally different. It is just what they are accustomed to. If you grew up with the dial phone, simply clicking a button to talk to someone across the world seems like magic. If you grew up with Hangouts, you more than likely do not have the patience for an audio bridge in the workplace. What do you mean I have to dial a number and a pin?!?! Gah! Imagine organizing an evening out with friends using the postal service – and then waiting for hours as one of them was late.

More importantly, the oldest of this younger generation are now making their way to leadership positions – roles where they have some element of decision-making power and influence. As a crowd they are slowly changing from a single user adopting change – to being the person shaping the (IT) world to their own expectations – making technical and business decisions that affect themselves and all those around them.

In fact, this older set (which is why 1980-2005 is much too broad a range), have a unique position. Those born in the earlier part could be called the “Bridge Generation” – the last generation to live through seeing the most drastic changes, given that the latter do not really know of a world without internet or mobile phones. This gives them a unique core understanding of their user base and a translation between the generations before and after them.

Think of the power this generation has grown up with. For example, Google didn’t exist when they were born. Then it was just a search engine, but now, amongst everything else they are achieving, Google is making waves in education which will quickly compound the disruption to Enterprise IT. Why? Because the youngest of that generation will have grown up with it there, used it during their learning years and have it as a familiar baseline – and they will soon too become the users of Enterprise technology as they move into the world of work. Their expectations will be set before they even have their first job. This, combined with the “Bridge Generation” in decision-making power, will be incredibly powerful in gaining a stronghold in the Enterprise domain.

While we need to plan and design for this bridge generation, we will still have the “sliding window” of users in enterprise to deal with for some years to come. Another favorite that is heard all over the shop is “my 13yr old son doesn’t use this”. Well, let’s be honest, today in Enterprise we are not designing software and services solely for 13 year olds. However, we do still need to apply thought and process around the constructs and interactions they may use, then balance this with current Enterprise needs and requirements. For example, will all enterprise users post to a wall to communicate instead of email right now? No. But, will they have increased expectations as they get accustomed to these newer experiences? Yes.

While the sliding window needs to be thought through to increase adoption levels and maximize the chance of success, there is indeed cross pollination. The ways in which these Millennials are bringing in their expectations (and capabilities) and forming the workspace are starting to be adopted by the older generations. Historically, this is unheard of. Think about fashion, for example. While styles may get repeated it never goes backwards – you do not tend to see 55 year olds with the crotch of their jeans around their knees.

This could be because the way in which the Millennials are working is directly relevant to the older generations who have found themselves living in this “new world”. Learning from the newer generation and adopting their styles is advantageous to them and since the cost-benefit is clear, it is easier for them to adopt the newer behaviors.

For example, you see older generations on Facebook, online dating, online banking – all these things that once they could not fathom. Simply, they too have seen the value in the more efficient and better experiences that their younger colleagues have exposed them to.

Now to the point: How does this affect the SLA? That good old service level agreement that a team comes up with, committing to delivery by making somebody else sign on the dotted line. Well, here is where we see this expectation gap come to a head. SLA’s are defined and measured based on what is “acceptable” to a company, or a team, or a leader – rarely the individual. Even when the individual’s input is captured, their expectation or experience of a solution is not taken into account. We see examples of this in Enterprise all the time:

CIO at Company X: “This account is red for Client C!!! We need to fix it.”
Account Manager at Company X: “But my score card is green!”
CIO at Company X : “Well the employees are not satisfied and are not using it. The Client wants to pull out of the contract unless we fix it!!!”

Expectations and UX are the two core elements defining success in Enterprise today. Together they are changing the way we buy, consume and supply technology. UX can help address both the value and the use of products. In focusing on the strategic thinking of UX, you can understand your users and filter this through to the design, the deployment method, the support, availability and security needs that are all becoming more and more important in the “Millennial” workplace. You can stitch together the pieces into an experience that works for everyone, accounted for in all stages of the lifecycle and bridging that expectation gap.

It would seem that SLA’s get beaten by Expectations. These are then in turn delivered by UX.


References for timeline information:





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Another Company Already Wants To Buy Time Warner Cable: Report

Time Warner Cable may already have a new suitor.

In a widely expected maneuver, cable giant Charter Communications is laying the groundwork for a bid to buy the country’s second-largest cable and broadband provider, according to a <a hre

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