Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Smartwatches Already Obsolete?

Like many I followed the release of the Apple Watch earlier this year. And although I think they look cool, there was just something about the whole idea of "smartwatches" that kept bothering me. Like, "Why do we need something like this?" and "Would I actually wear one?" I hardly ever wear a watch. Ever. And when I do I'm a Casio "G Shock" kind of guy except for when I wear the Tag-Heuer my wife gave me for my birthday. I have a colleague that wears a Rolex. And two that wear Breitlings. My Dad always wore an Omega. A watch can make a bold fashion statement. And at least for now, most "smartwatches" don't cut it although definitely the $17K Gold Apple Watch qualifies. For business and communications, my current phone (Galaxy S6 Edge) does everything I need. Plus tells the time! So I was interested to read this article by Rob Enderle in SD Times. Enderle makes some good points. But what is most important about any technology is whether or not it works for you. So, do you own a smartwatch? And what functionality does it add?

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Developing an Excel Dashboard Application

The following was presented at the SOBIE Academic Conference, April 17, 20105:

"Effective decision-making requires information to be available in a format that highlights key performance variables and trends while allowing the user to “drill down” to deeper levels of detail as necessary. It is important that the data also be updateable in real-time. Microsoft Excel and Access allow information to be stored and presented in ways that facilitate the decision-making process. The power and flexibility of Pivot-Tables, Sparkline Graphs, Conditional Formatting, and Data Analysis functions in Excel combined with the storage capacity and connectivity of Access make it possible to design a customizable application.

A sample dashboard that analyzes salary and benefit information is demonstrated along with a discussion of all formulas and macros used. Methods for automatically connecting to and updating the spreadsheet from an external data source such as Microsoft Access are included."


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Excel Charts Show Travel Stats for Indiana

Earlier this semester, the MIS 320 Business Decision Making class had to analyze data collected on travel to and from Indiana. The assignment was to create a series of charts that would visually interpret the data for use by Indiana business leaders, politicians, state and local governments, and average citizens. On the surface, this appeared simple enough--after all how hard could graphs be? The challenge was that the data collected was from multiple sources and unorganized. Students had to dig deep in order to uncover useful information. They also were encouraged to experiment with color, 3-D effects, and styles. Some of the more interesting examples are shown here:

Taylor Kinney created this effective area chart comparing the number of people who visit Indiana from the rest of the United States to the number of people from Indiana who travel outside the state. It is not surprising that the highest activity involves the surrounding "five state" region.

Keflome Gebrenegus used a radar chart to perform the same comparison. The number of people from Indiana traveling to Florida clearly shows up as a "spike" in the lower right.

Jack Hiatt used a 3-D surface chart to compare individual measures for each method of travel included in the survey. The use of multiple dimensions allows comparison across categories and the "wireframe" and "rotation" options makes every data point visible.

Ross Beretta paid tribute to Indiana by adding the state flag as a background to this cylinder chart breaking down travel by income level. Adding a background image allows you to customize your graph using any picture. The picture becomes part of the chart and re-sizes automatically.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Get Ready for 5G!

The mobile networks that our smartphones and other devices rely on to connect to the Internet today typically use 4G technology. According to Stephen Shankland reporting for c|net on the 2015 Mobile World Congress, higher-performance fifth-generation networks are coming soon and the possibilities seem endless. Gartner predicts the number of devices connected to the Internet to increase from 5 billion in 2015 to 25 billion by 2020.

Using 5G technology, sensors will be built into appliances, security systems, health monitors, door locks, cars, and wearable devices. "You'll have tags on your dogs talking to devices in your home," says Femi Adeyemi, lead mobile architect for Fujitsu. "You'll know when your children come home. Cars on the highway will be autonomously managed."

The difference in speed will be awesome as well. 5G networks will allow for downloads at up to 10Gbs. Compared to the relative “slowness” of today’s 4G networks (about 100-150Mbps) events will happen in “real time.” 5G networks will bring augmented reality and virtual reality applications into the mainstream. Augmented reality superimposes information like driving directions, product prices or acquaintances' names over our view of the real world. For example, you might think of “Google Glass” as an early type of Augmented Reality device. On the other hand, Virtual Reality creates an entirely new and artificial view of the world.

5G will also shorten the delay before beginning a download. Waiting a few seconds for a streaming video to start at 4G speeds may seem like no big deal, but that's way too slow for things like self-driving cars, where every millisecond counts. 4G needs at least 15 to 25 milliseconds for a car to tell the one behind it that it has begun emergency braking. That delay will drop to 1 millisecond with 5G.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Apple Pay Gaining Support

Apple Pay is rapidly gaining support in the mobile economy. According to Don Reisinger at eWeek, the latest news is that JetBlue will become the first domestic carrier to enable its passengers to use Apple Pay to make in-flight purchases—from food to movies. JetBlue is just one of a number of businesses that are supporting Apple Pay. The service has so far proved reliable and is growing in popularity. While the platform is still in its infancy, it has a solid foundation to build on and is continuing to win converts among merchants and consumers. Visa, MasterCard, and American Express all support Apple Pay. To learn more about Apple Pay vist: http://www.eweek.com/mobile/slideshows/how-apple-pay-is-winning-converts-to-the-mobile-payment-service.html

Saturday, December 27, 2014

1960's Era IBM 360

Found this picture while browsing during our semester break. This is what computers used to be like. Yes, your new iPhone 6 would blow it's doors off... Here's what Wikipedia had to say about it: "The IBM System/360 (S/360) was a mainframe computer system family announced by IBM on April 7, 1964, and delivered between 1965 and 1978. It was the first family of computers designed to cover the complete range of applications, from small to large, both commercial and scientific. The design made a clear distinction between architecture and implementation, allowing IBM to release a suite of compatible designs at different prices. All but the incompatible model 44 and the most expensive systems used microcode to implement the instruction set, which featured 8-bit byte addressing and binary, decimal and (hexadecimal) floating-point calculations.

The slowest System/360 model announced in 1964, the Model 30, could perform up to 34,500 instructions per second, with memory from 8 to 64 KB. High performance models came later. The 1967 System 360 Model 91 could do up to 16.6 million instructions per second. The larger 360 models could have up to 8 MB of internal main memory, though main memory that big was unusual—a more typical large installation might have as little as 256 KB of main storage, but 512 KB, 768 KB or 1024 KB was more common. Up to 8 megabytes of slower (8 microsecond) Large Capacity Storage (LCS) was also available.

System/360 was extremely successful in the market, allowing customers to purchase a smaller system with the knowledge they would always be able to migrate upward if their needs grew, without reprogramming of application software or replacing peripheral devices. Many consider the design one of the most successful computers in history, influencing computer design for years to come."

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Fall 2014 Student Projects

Nowhere is the motto of the Marian University Byrum School of Business "Where Business Happens" more evident than the end-of-semester student presentations, business plan competitions, and internships. This week we had two classes that I'm directly involved with present their work. The first photo shows the BUS 209 Quantitative Analysis of Business class making their final presentation. Each semester students in BUS 209 work with a real company or organization, study its operations, collect and analyze data, and make recommendations. Much like a consultant would for a client. The class is 9 credit hours and incorporates Management, Marketing, and Business Statistics. Integrating content from each of these disciplines, the class is team taught by three instructors. I am primarily responsible for the Statistics module which would be equivalent to a three hour class. We use Excel and SPSS for most of the data analysis. This semester, our client was the Crossroads of America Council of the Boy Scouts of America located in central Indiana.

In the second photo, students from the BUS 325 Business Creation and Development class present their final work. Enrollment in BUS 325 is selective, students must apply and be accepted. This semester the client was the Indianapolis Department of Public Safety--which includes agencies such as the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, Fire Department, and Homeland Security. My contribution was to help them develop a “dashboard” application in Excel that would track budget information, personnel data, and performance goals for each agency. This application was connected to a “back-end” database created using Microsoft Access. Students from my MIS 310 Database Management class developed the underlying data model and assisted with data entry.