On Episode 23 of the Edge of Innovation, we discuss various topics such as data mining, new WordPress features, social selling, ReactJS and OpenStreetMap.
Agreeing to Allow Sneakiness
Jacob: Well, along the lines of agreements and what we have agreed to, I thought the second article related to security issues was interesting. This is the second most popular tweet from the month. “Security researchers accuse Microsoft of sneaky data mining in Windows 10.” Talk us through that article and what’s fascinating about it.
Paul: Yeah, you know, I think there is, a deep bunker inside of Microsoft where there are five or six people who are plotting the demise of the world. And—
Jacob: Are we starting a new conspiracy theory?
Paul: No. Not starting it. It’s real. I mean, this isn’t a theory. I mean, theory. This is not a theory. They are sitting there calculating, you know. And it’s sort of like—
Jacob: Don’t worry. There will be a YouTube video validating this within the hour.
Paul: Absolutely. There’s black helicopters. It makes the Illuminati look small, you know. And it is all through Windows 10. You know, so, okay, it’s sneaky data mining. You know, it’s definitely political the way it’s… Not political as in our campaigns that are going on. But the way in which people frame these things, it’s interesting to use that. I mean, the metrics that are being sent back to Microsoft are being used to help them figure out what people do and don’t do on their computers so that they can optimize those experiences.
I saw another article just this morning where the FBI director — I think it came out yesterday — agrees that you should put tape over your webcam.
Jacob: Oh, really.
Paul: So, you know, the director of the FBI, you know. And that’s fine, and I understand. This is a little bit different, I mean, you know, because you can get hacked. And we’ll talk a little bit about hacking later. So, you know, if you cover it up, they can’t see it, you know. It might be cool to have a little list of great product idea. Have a little picture that you could have in front of the webcam that would be in a little bracket, you know, that would make them think it was somebody else.
Jacob: Like an “away” message or something like that?
Paul: Yeah. You know, just like in Star Trek, the Corbomite Maneuver with the dripping head alien that’s really scary. Anyway. If…do you even know that reference?
Jacob: I do know that reference.
Paul: Okay. Well, that’s good.
Jacob: I grew up on Star Trek.
Paul: Okay. Good. Well, so, you know, the article is about somebody who said, you know, I’ve opted out of everything, but yet there’s still data going out. And, you know, they’ve also made it very difficult in Windows 10, as an aside, to turn off updated. Now, in the past, you could just turn them off. What that left you with, for the normal user, was a machine that was out of date and potentially could be violated or hacked.
Jacob: Yeah. Potential security concerns.
Paul: So “Microsoft designs operating systems and allows users to shoot themselves in the foot by turning off updates,” as opposed to, “Microsoft designs operating systems to force you to install updates,” you know, violating your civil rights. So, I thought about that. I have one client who has a legitimate reason why they want to turn off updates. They have an application that runs, and it takes a week to run. It’s gathering a whole bunch of data.
Microsoft was updating stuff and rebooting the machine in the middle of that.
Jacob: Yeah. And I’ve heard reports of that at not merely data gathering level but like security level. You know, we’re running these security protocols or, you know, these sort of military operations and using Windows 10 and…oops!
Paul: Yep. Too bad. So they’re coming to terms with that and they’re fixing that. And that’s like, “Oh, gee. That was stupid.” But you know, Mac OS, there’s a point at which I will say, “Sorry. You’ve got to install this.” It’s a little draconian, and you know, what I’m also surprised with is what… Shouldn’t you guys figure this out a little easier. I mean, this isn’t the… You know, have a discussion with the users. Say, “When do you want your updates?” You know, this data is going out. This is why it’s going out. Do you want it there or not?
But you know, a lot of people, normal human beings that aren’t computer tech savvy, are like, “I don’t care.” And, they made the decision, the, What is that?
Jacob: Speaking of updates…
Danny: Microsoft update.
Jacob: For those who are listening, we just got an update in the middle of our discussion about updates.
Paul: We’re rebooting. Welcome back. I guess Microsoft was listening, and they didn’t like that. So they probably sent an update to mess up our recording. So, you know, as he was relating this to me that his application was rebooting, I said, really the way to fix that is to go to the Enterprise Edition. Okay. What’s wrong with that? I mean, yeah, it’s a hassle. I’ve got Windows installed already. Well, the Enterprise Edition has all of those feature.
You know, that generally, Microsoft has been very, very, user-choice centric. They will let you do things 10 different ways, whereas Apple said, “This is the way you do it.” You know, “There is no alternative. This is the way you do it.” And I works for both worlds. In some reasons, most Mac users say, “Well, that’s the way it is.”
In the Windows world, we’ve been trained that we should be able to do anything we want. So as Microsoft sort of contracts on that privilege, we’re getting that bristling. What’s interesting is the inflammatory, nature of it. This “sneaky data mining.”
Well, you know, don’t use it, you know. I mean, you know, if you don’t like, or switch to the, you know… Go and do the work to turn it off. And you could do that, you know. You could easily put a firewall in place that denied all this kind of traffic.
New WordPress Features
Jacob: So, speaking of websites, WordPress 4.6 is out, and you have this article, recommending all these new features, talking about the new features of WordPress 4.6. So obviously, there’s a vast number of websites that run WordPress, and so how, how is 4.6 going to be an improvement? Why is this article helpful, just to kind of review?
Paul: Well, you know, it’s interesting. As we sort of throw things out there, you know, I look at it and say, gee, we support a lot of WordPress sites. 25% of the web is running on WordPress. I read it, you know. It was more of a, news, you know, hey, this came out. There are some new features. It’s not revolutionary. It’s almost yawn, you know. But what’s interesting is that a lot of you were interested in that, maybe for the same reason. I don’t think it was like, “Golly gee. This is the coolest thing.” But yet, it’s, you know, it’s like a new version. Well, duh. It is a new version. There’s some nice new features. One of the, you know, fonts, being in, in WordPress 4.6, you can, you know, it’s coming with Open Sans from Google Fonts. So, you know, it has some nice things. A bunch of plugin and theme updates. Faster updates, editor enhancements. Probably the nicest feature, I thought, was highlighting broken links, which is, you know, the bane of existence in a lot of things. So that’s really nice. Better auto save and recovery and better import screens, things like that. Localization improvements.
But not huge leap forward, you know. And as you get…as products become more mature, the next version is a very small increment, and we’ll talk about that with…
Jacob: Are there any sort of ways in which WordPress needs to make a leap forward for their, for the improvement of the system? Or are they really at a point where they’re kind of like refining but they’re stabilized?
Paul: Well, I think the biggest thing lacking in core WordPress is the concept of ACLs and categories. So, if you had 10,000 articles in a WordPress environment that would be painful.
Jacob: Yeah. It would bog it down.
Paul: Well, it shouldn’t, technically. But back end editing would be bogged down, because… Well, I mean, it would be paginated, but it would be cumbersome to work with. What people at WordPress are going to say is, “Well, you could filter it. And you could do all that dig stuff, and you know, get a list down.” But in Joomla, they have categories and all that kind of things. It helps. But there needs to be some work on, really the huge amounts of articles. You know, huge might be 100 for you. That’s still something that a person can’t keep in their head, you know. And so how do you slice and dice that? How do you organize it? That kind of stuff isn’t as easy as it needs to be.
Jacob: Well, folks at WordPress, if you’re listening, we would love for you to consult with Paul about you how can make that happen. Moving on. “Social selling is an investment.” Talk us through this article. What exactly is social selling? And why is it an investment?
Jacob: So, you have “Social selling as an investment” as one of your favorite articles from the month, or one of the more popular articles of what you were recommending. Talk us through what that means. “Social selling,” I’m not even sure what that means from the face.
Paul: Well, first of all, Social Selling is a book by Tim Hughes. And, what it basically posits is the, the idea of inbound marketing. Inbound marketing, I’m being a little unfair, it’s really social selling. And what the idea is here is that, a billboard isn’t social selling. There’s no people involved. It may be effective. It may be ineffective. A, postcard is not social selling. A website is not social selling. When we start to move into it, if I post something on Facebook that is interesting, me using Facebook as a channel to communicate to you, that’s social selling.
And how do we leverage the social interaction, the proxy of a person, communicating about something and saying, “Hey, you know, this is really good.” Or, Angie’s List could be considered an avenue of an archetype of social selling, because you say, “Hey, I found this plumber who actually came when I called him, you know, and was really nice and did a great job.” That’s the passion.
Now, you can bring that passion to absolute selling, you know, to the fundamentals of selling as opposed to, just going in and saying, you know, “We offer widgets. Do you want to buy widgets.” It’s more of building a relationship with a person socially.
So, you know, and I think the key here is it doesn’t happen easy. It happens with a lot of work, hence the word investment. And it has to be something that you are committed to.
We have a client that is a national consulting firm. And we work directly with several people there, one of them being the president. And the president does social selling. He meets people. He talks with them. He gets to understand their problems, and he offers solutions to those problems. Well, that’s social selling. That’s really hard to scale.
So how do you do that in a web environment? Well, you start to multiply that, you know. You start to say, okay, blog posts, articles, video interviews, that kind of thing.
Jacob: Excellent. That’s great to hear, expect in terms of the investment part, because if it’s going to be social selling, I recognize that sounds more business-y, but effectively, that’s a focused relationship that’s going to need the investment of time. I imagine that’s going to be really helpful for a number of small businesses and entrepreneurs in terms of giving them categories for how to think through.
Paul: Well, you want to be an advisor, you know. You want to help them make good decisions. That’s really the bottom line. And I used to work at a Radioshack about 25, 30 years ago. And, people would come in, and they’d say, “I need this.” And we didn’t have it. I sent them down the mall to the store that I knew did have it. Well, that’s counter intuitive. But I just became their trusted advisor. And they came in next time and said, “What do they got to lose?” Because now I’ve already told them, “Go down to the store at the end of the hall to get that.”
If they come in and they say, “Well, gee, I need this.”
Well, if we have it, “Here it is.” If I don’t, I’m going to say, “Oh, you should go to think place.” And now they’ve got to best of both worlds. And that’s really social selling.
Jacob: That’s excellent. So, next article. “Five reasons we choose ReactJS.”
Paul: Well, yeah. So, there’s a lot going on. My role in the past has been, I’ve been a CTO, chief technology officer, for a bunch of different companies, and as that, I have always sort of tracked what’s going on in the way we implement technology, different technologies. And, you know, 30 years ago, we wrote things in C# or Visual Basic or, maybe even… I don’t know about java 30 years ago, 20 years ago maybe. So we used these different technologies.
So ReactJS is one of those newer technologies, and the thing that’s difficult for technology people is the stuff changes so quickly. So I look at these articles as not harbingers but almost harbingers of what’s happening and a way to get on boarded into them.
Paul: React JS is one of the things that CTOs should be considering as one of the future ways to do it. I mean, there’s lots of applications being developed and deployed in it, and it’s a really cool way to do things. I won’t get into the technicals on the podcast, but if you’re interested in development trends and the way things will be done, I think that React JS is one of those. There’s a couple of competing ones. But this is a good article that shows you some of the main advantages of it, and why you should consider that, and then why, specifically, one organization, they have moved to React. And so you sort of get the pluses and minuses of why they did that.
Jacob: Okay. Alright. Next article. “Satellites auto detect buildings on OpenStreetMap.”
Paul: So, yeah. This is just cool. Basically, they’re taking this OpenStreetMap data, like Google Maps. There is a database behind that. And Google Maps is, you know, in the classic Google way of doing it, you know, they give, first dose, and then you need to purchase it, you know. So if you’re using Google Maps commercially, you need to pay for it. It’s 10 grand a year. It’s expensive. It’s a lot of money. I mean, it’s $800 a month, so, you know, that’s not terribly expensive, but it’s not something you make a decision in one second to do.
So there is this huge push. So Craigslist abandoned Google Maps because of that. And they have been a champion of OpenStreetMaps. So, what they have done, somebody out there — I don’t know the guy — is basically take satellite imagery, combine it with OpenStreetMap data to detect buildings that weren’t on there. So the database has holes in it, and they’re helping fill in those holes.