Computer Communication with Humans and Future Interactive Challenges

Humans often communicate with each other via email and computer communication correspondence. They take thoughts and turn them into the words of a limited human language and put them onto another medium in this case a computer. Surely that is a very archaic way to communicate and in the future we will use thought transfer to collaborate. But before this transition to the faster and unlimited communication of thought transfer and combined brains or collective of minds, we will be communicating with other humans through electronic devices. We will also be communicating with computers or Artificial Intelligence in this way.

Although humans collaborate in words, the mind doesn’t and one would believe that intelligent people communicate past the words themselves. Words only set the mind in motion on a concept and keep the mind somewhat focused temporarily on that line of thought or reasoning. Humans should not be controlled by the directions posed in the written words as it limits them, but should use them as a basic theme so that the conversation does not go buggy off on a million different directions, as every set of words lead to every other one you see? Like roads? Or frequency, or time, or energy, you dig? You find?

Did you know that computers now used in surveillance are programmed to make common errors to look like they are more human, which makes a lot of sense? They will mimic common mistakes, even mirror the mistakes of the target. But they often fail in their Artificial Intelligence programming because the do not allow for tangents of thought within the words and instead move the conversation into the abyss. This typically loses the interest of the subject and causes suspicion and thus the surveillance is blown or the target no longer chooses to communicate.

In the future these programs will also be used with real language in Voice IP to assist people in actual human conversations through electronic synthesized voice. There are currently projects to program Instruction Manuals to talk a human through a repair or procedure. Imagine the time saved in Virtual Reality Training or the possibilities of removing stress during a critical mission while your artificial instructor talks you through the important operation.

Computers are interesting, but the idea of computers communicating with people or interfering with the communication of people is an unfortunate eventuality in this present period as we learn better programming techniques and teach computers to program themselves and learn how to best serve us. Well that is the intellectual thoughts and concepts of it, in the future we will see the computers better themselves, but doubt expect perfection for a while, there is a lot of work to do still. The Future of Computers Serving People or People Serving Computers is still up in the air. I hope you have enjoyed this topic, please think on it.

Switching to VOIP Today Can Save Considerably on Communications Costs

The economic news for North America has been dismal for the last year and one half, and although it appears there are signs of a possible recovery, the immediate future remains troubled. In such an environment, businesses have to evaluate their processes carefully to identify any and all means of increasing efficiency to remain profitable. Savings gained through greater effectiveness may have social implications as well, retaining employees that might have otherwise been let go. One means of saving money for almost any organization is gained by reducing the cost of communication. For rapid results a company may wish to switch from regular telephone packages to VOIP today.

The telephone has seen a number of modifications and improvements over the years. Early in its history it was a marvel of communication technology and a testament to hard work and creativity, as a network was built to connect literally ever household and business in America together. Though there were many tribulations relating to the any practices of some companies, eventually it was settled the NOrth American way, competition wins.

The phone instrument has also undergone many changes from the original. The French phones were soon joined by the princess and slim line styles. Party lines disappeared and mobile phones were introduced. By comparison with current devices, these early mobile types would more precisely be referred to as movable, not portable.

The cellular phone opened a whole new world of telephone use. Now the user was not tied to a facility to use the device. The cell phone has been a tremendous advantage to society in the form of communication during emergencies and for individual protection, and of course it has had its down sides. One of the problems is the distraction is causes for individuals who are trying to communicate while driving.

After the breakup of the some systems, a wide range of companies entered the fray, competing for your communications dollars. Cell phone availability and coverage increased and continues to improve. Satellite technology has made access easier for telephone companies and the advent of cable bundling has diversified the companies entering competition.

Businesses have always relied on communication and now the telephone has capabilities one could only dream of in the past. They are so sophisticated that the line between portable computer and portable phone is blurring, but all of that comes at a cost. The smart phone class of device has a hefty monthly bill to provide the services businesses have come to rely on. Yet for a businessman on the go having immediate access to phone, fax, e-mail and internet is worth it.

The infrastructure for phone service can still be a considerable cost when constructing a new facility. Despite all the progress, there are still costs associated with pulling all the wires for internet accessibility, power and telephone wires. Although many companies issue mobile phones to their employees, few have made the move to all wireless telephone capability, notably because there will always be a need to have a home station phone for customer inquiries 24 hours a day.

There is an increasingly popular notion gaining strength in the business community that leverages the existing internet infrastructure to provide telephone access. This innovation, known as Voice Over Internet Protocol, obviates the need for the traditional telephone line and can significantly reduce the costs of business communication. By using VOIP PBX today, a business can get intra-company phone service for software that can be downloaded free, doubling the computer as a telephone.

Computer Network Overview

Computer networking or data communication is a most important part of the information technology. Today every business in the world needs a computer network for smooth operations, flexibly, instant communication and data access. Just imagine if there is no network communication in the university campuses, hospitals, multinational organizations and educational institutes then how difficult are to communicate with each other. In this article you will learn the basic overview of a computer network. The targeted audience of this article is the people who want to know about the network communication system, network standards and types.

A computer network is comprised of connectivity devices and components. To share data and resources between two or more computers is known as networking. There are different types of a computer network such as LAN, MAN, WAN and wireless network. The key devices involved that make the infrastructure of a computer network are Hub, Switch, Router, Modem, Access point, LAN card and network cables.

LAN stands for local area network and a network in a room, in a building or a network over small distance is known as a LAN. MAN stands for Metropolitan area network and it covers the networking between two offices within the city. WAN stands for wide area network and it cover the networking between two or more computers between two cities, two countries or two continents.

There are different topologies of a computer network. A topology defines the physical layout or a design of a network. These topologies are star topology, bus topology, mesh topology, star bus topology etc. In a star topology each computer in a network is directly connected with a centralized device known as hub or switch. If any computer gets problematic in star topology then it does not affect the other computers in a network.

There are different standards and devices in computer network. The most commonly used standard for a local area network is Ethernet. Key devices in a computer network are hub, switch, router, modem and access point etc. A router is used to connect two logically and physical different networks. All the communication on the internet is based on the router. Hub/Switch is used to connect the computers in local area network.

Hopefully, in this article you may have learnt that what a computer network is, how important it is in our lives, what are different network devices, standards, topologies and communication types.

How to Select the Best Motherboard For Your Computer

While it’s relatively easy with today’s technology to build your own computer; selecting the best motherboard is critical to building the computer that best fits your own unique needs. 

Building your own computer can mean saving money and also building a custom specified system – it means getting exactly what you want.  All computer components are important (the computer can’t run without them) but the motherboard is a very important part of your computer system and you need to have a clear understanding of what you want, why you want it, and how what you’ve selected affects the operation of the computer once built. You need to know how to select the best motherboard for your computer.  All components in your computer system connect to the motherboard; it is the key component and therefore you need to understand it.  For the purposes of this article, we’ll assume that you are building your own computer rather than replacing the motherboard in an existing computer system.  But in either case, learning what to look for and how the motherboard affects the performance of your computer is important.

First, consider which CPU you will be using.  For example, Intel and AMD CPUs both use different motherboards because each uses a different socket type.  Then, you also need to understand the processor speed; your motherboard needs to support the selected CPU. With the rapid technology changes in today’s environment, there are a wide variety of socket types in use.  Processors used to have the same number of pins, with technology driving fast changes, the motherboards sockets need more pins to provide more power and support new features. New processors are starting to put the pins on the socket instead of the CPU, allowing for easier set-up. You must match the right CPU (and socket type) to the right motherboard.  The CPU needs the socket to communicate with motherboard components through the chipset.

The CPU drives the decision on which chipset to buy and use.  A fast chipset allows efficient data transfers and power management; the chipset controls all the communication between CPU, the memory, and the local bus. There are two major parts of the chipset: the northbridge and the southbridge. The CPU communicates through the northbridge with the system RAM (the AGP graphics card) or the PCI-E (graphics card).  The CPU also uses the northbridge to communicate with the southbridge.  The northbridge is closer to the CPU and faster; the southbridge is further from the CPU and slower. The communications to USB ports, PCI slots, SATA connections, and other components is handled by the southbridge.

The bus is a circuit through which data is transmitted; it connects parts of the motherboard. Bus size is important because size, or width, determines how much data can be transmitted. Bus speed, measured in MHz, is relevant when selecting a motherboard.  Speed determines the components communication speed and data transfer; therefore a fast bus speed allows fast data transfer and faster running applications.

The circuit connecting the CPU to the northbridge is the Front Side Bus (FSB).  The top end of FSB speed is 1666 MHz – the higher, the faster and, typically, the more expensive. Speed is evolving and being upgraded with new technology, not just because faster is better but to synchronize with demand for speed from upgraded and new applications. As with most equipment and technology, the slowest component will be a speed bottleneck for the whole operating system – with a slow FSB speed, your computer will also operate at slow speed.

When selecting your motherboard you need to consider memory and how much memory you want for your computer system.  Unless you are a gamer, or do a lot of graphics or video work, 2 GB of RAM should be enough. Most motherboards today come with at least two memory slots, and many come with four.  To ensure you have enough expandable memory capacity for the future (even if you start with 2 GB of RAM), buy a motherboard with 4 slots.

Other considerations when selecting the motherboard for your computer build are the peripherals, such as keyboard, mouse, printer, flash drive, external drive and digital camera. If you plan on adding additional cards (such as graphics card, wireless network card, sound card), you will need enough PCI slots to handle the peripherals. Most motherboards have four USB slots and two more that connect to the USB ports on the case. You also need to consider the battery (you’ll likely need to change the battery in your motherboard every four to 5 years – if you keep your computer that long) and the preloaded BIOS (which boots up your computer).

People who have not yet built their own computers are often concerned that they will not be able to build the system they want, accurately, efficiently and cost effectively.  However, the best way to learn, to save money, and to get a custom built system, is to just build it!

Communications Equipment

Communication is specifically related to a process of transferring information from one entity to another. Communication processes are sign-mediated interactions between no less than two elements which share a collection of signs and semiotic rules. Communication may also be defined as “the imparting or interchange of thoughts, opinions, or information by speech, writing, or signs”. There are different methods of communication the most common being direct speech between humans. Other facilities can make communication possible, more specifically communications equipment. In modern times the primary types of communications equipment that are use include telephone, radio, television and the computer via the internet.

Telephone

In an analogue telephone network, the caller is connected to the person he would like to speak with by switches at a variety of telephone exchanges. The switches will produce an electrical connection between the two users and the setting of these switches is determined electronically when the caller dials the specific number. Once the connection is created, the caller’s voice is transformed into an electrical signal using a small microphone in the caller’s handset. This electrical signal is then processed and sent through the network to the user at the other end where it is transformed back into sound by a small speaker in that person’s handset. Additionally there is a separate electrical connection that works in reverse, allowing both users to converse. The fixed line also combines digital and analogue transmission to enable long distance calls. The fixed line is becoming far less popular because of the advent of the cellular phone which allows users to be completely mobile.

Radio and television

Within a broadcast system, the central high-powered broadcast tower transmits a high-frequency electromagnetic wave to multiple low-powered receivers. This high-frequency wave sent by the tower is modulated with a signal containing visual or audio information. The receiver is then tuned to enable the instrument to pick up the high-frequency wave and a demodulator is used to retrieve the signal containing the visual or audio information. The broadcast signal can be either analogue which means the signal is varied continuously in relation to the information or digital which means the information is encoded as a set of discrete values. Regardless of the method the outcome will be audio if listening to a radio and audio and picture if watching a television.

The Internet

The Internet is in actuality a worldwide network of computers and computer networks that are able to communicate with each other using the Internet Protocol. A single computer on the Internet has a unique IP address that can be used by other computers to route information to it. Subsequently, any computer on the Internet can deliver a message to any other computer using its IP address. These messages that are sent carry with them the originating computer’s IP address allowing for two-way communication. The Internet is therefore, in essence, an exchange of messages between computers. As of 2008, an estimated 21.9% of the world population has access to the Internet with the highest access rates seen in North America with 73.6%, Oceania/Australia with 59.5% and Europe with 48.1%.

Computer Protocols

Messages are sent and received on communicating systems to establish communications. In any dialogue between 2 or more individuals, there are numerous protocols and rules that the people must follow in order to have a successful communication. For example, they have to use a common language, common grammar, sentence structure and so on.

It is impossible for people to communicate without those protocols and rules. Protocols are specific to the features of the source, network and destination of the message. Protocols describe how the message is transferred. Protocols define the format of the message, the message size, the timing, the encodings and the encapsulation method.

A lot of of the models and rules that make human communication possible also apply to computer communication.

Every message has to be encoded. This is the method of converting thoughts into the language, symbols, or sounds, for transmission. Decoding is exactly the opposite.

Imagine an individual watching a football match and then calling a friend to talk about how interesting the game is. The person that sends the message must first convert his thoughts and perceptions about the football match into words. The words are converted to sounds that transfer the message. On the other side, the individual listening to the sounds, receives and decodes the message in order to visualize the football match.

Computers also use encoding when they communicate. The data sent across the net are first converted into bits by the sending computer. The computer that receives the data decodes the bits in order to interpret the message.

When a computer sends a message to another computer, it must use a specific format.

Writing a letter has always been a very popular and easy way to communicate. For many years, the common format for letters has not changed. Usually, a letter contains the features below: The name of the recipient, the message content and finally the name of the sender. Except the correct format, all the letters must also be inside an envelope for delivery. This envelope contains the address of the sender and receiver on it.

The process of placing one letter inside another letter or envelope is called encapsulation. De-encapsulation occurs when the recipient receives the letter.

In conclusion a protocol is an agreed-upon format for transmitting data between two devices. It is also a set of rules and message formats that entities must follow to exchange those messages.

Tips For Communicating With Front Line Staff

There is little doubt that customer service impacts a company’s brand identity.  There is also little doubt that happy, satisfied employees translates to happy, satisfied customers.

Effective, two way employee communications is a key factor in ensuring that staff are motivated and effective. However, this sector of the workforce is usually remote from main offices and may experience higher staff turnover than other parts of the business. These factors can have several implications:  

  • Training is a constant and on-going challenge
  • Staff don’t always know where to go for the right information
  • Establishing effective feedback channels can be difficult
  • Engagement is constantly being built from ‘the ground up’

To make the situation even more complicated, staff may be employed indirectly, for example via a franchise, and therefore even harder to reach.  

Top tips to communicate with front line staff:

Simplify the message

Use simple, easy-to-remember, messages.  Make sure that there aren’t volumes of messages already ‘out there’ talking about the same concept, but expressing it in different ways. Boil down the key messages into a few key priorities. Think about: How can you sum this up in one sentence? What language do people typically use?           

This can help focus thinking and simplify what you are trying to communicate. Tom Harvey, Head of Internal Communications at Nationwide, argues that the role of internal communications ‘is akin to the narrow part of an hour glass’ – there is a vast quantity of information that exists which could be communicated to staff, but only a small amount makes it through the ‘narrow part’ to be read. The trick is to make certain that the filtered information is that which is most likely to draw interest.  

Try these tools

Consider an on-screen scrolling news feed to targeted employee groups. Simply write your own headlines, include a quick summary and add click-through hyperlinks to further information as required. As employees see a headline of interest, they can click-through to read the full message or article there and then, or make a mental note to review their news feed history at a later time (e.g. when they are less busy interfacing with customers).

Headlines can be kept discrete if computers are located where customers may be able to see the screens. Employee’s can click to shrink a feed down to a discrete notification icon which can be clicked on later. A desktop alert format that can highlight the latest updates or notify staff of breaking news. Concise alert messages can be read and digested in a matter of seconds. Click-through links to further information, allow staff to dig deeper as required. An initial alert notification can contain an appropriate message for customer facing computers.

Reduce information overload  

Staff can feel deluged by information and it can be a major source of workplace stress for them. In addition, an overload of information means staff may be unable to effectively identify and assimilate important information due to excessive background ‘noise’. As new forms of communication have grown, internally communicated messages have to compete with more and more traffic; if there is no appeal, internal communications will simply not be read.

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An email aggregation tool can significantly reduce information overload. For nice-to-know and non-urgent information, it allows you to collate such items into an electronic magazine. For example, rather than IT sending an email update about an outage, or marketing sending out product information updates and HR sending their staffing updates out via email, all of these messages can be consolidated into the same magazine by each department as quickly and easily as sending a group email. Magazines can also be themed with distinct branding. For example; product updates, pricing updates and process and service updates Magazines can also be displayed as staff log on to their PCs, meaning there is something to scan as they wait for their computer to start up.

Find ways to ‘listen’ and gather feedback  

Listening is an essential part of good communication. Effective communication is not a top-down, one-way exercise, but involves listening and demonstrating an inclination to act in response. ‘Listening’ can be a real challenge in this sector. Staff suggestion schemes can encourage ideas and the best ideas can be singled out for praise in the staff newsletter or at an awards event. Small prizes can be offered to encourage participation. The scheme needs to be well publicized and managed for it to be effective, with evidence that staff contributions are being implemented. Other ways to listen include: attending local team meetings, formalized feedback sessions, open forums and opinion polls.  

Try these tools  

Try delivering a staff survey as a desktop alert.  The initial alert pop up can contain an appropriate customer facing message and staff can chose to defer responding until later. Options allow you to specify how frequently and how often the pop up will reappear as a reminder until the survey is completed. Surveys of this type can be quick and easy for staff to participate in and can cover everything from the effectiveness of operations and processes, to capturing employee’s views and customer perceptions. An online discussion forum can provide a virtual meeting place where people can share their ideas, opinions, and feedback. A forum which allows people to post ideas anonymously,can, in some circumstances, be a good means of finding out what staff really think. Choose a discussion forum platform which is highly secure and provide a range of moderation options that allow you to keep a close eye on the conversations taking place. Targeting options can allow you to set up specific secure forums targeted to specific staff interest groups. An electronic magazine can then provide an effective way to advise staff of the actions being taken in response to their feedback. A section in the magazine titled ‘Acting on Your Feedback’ can contain short features over viewing measures being taken based on staff feedback. Closing the loop on staff feedback back can really help build employee commitment and engagement.  

Provide appropriate support channels

Staff who are working in remote locations, such as branch offices and stores, can often feel cut off from the wider organization. When they have questions or issues it can sometimes be hard to find quick and convenient support.

Local supervisors and managers play a vital role in providing support to, and communicating with, their teams. They can also ensure that employees have a ‘line of sight’ between the organization’s vision and their jobs. To ensure managers are effective in their role as communicators:  

  • Help managers understand how effective communication contributes towards achieving business goals
  • Clarify expectations with regard to communication
  • Define desired behaviors
  • Provide appropriate training tools and support
  • Measure effectiveness and, if possible, make communication a key performance indicator

 Try these tools  

An online helpdesk tool allows staff, who are experiencing problems, to report an issue or ask a question in an online ‘helpdesk’ format. Moderators can be assigned to a particular ‘helpdesk’ and will receive instant desktop alert notifications when new questions are posted. Moderators can answer questions directly or provide direction (via a hyperlink to the intranet, network, or web) to where the correct answer can be found. Each specific question should be tagged and is searchable, meaning past questions and answers can be easily located in an evolving repository of knowledge. A desktop survey can act as an open ended survey template which staff can access at any time in order to provide feedback or just comment on issues or problems they face. Desktop surveys can also provides a means to measure the effectiveness of managers as communicators. Easy answer, multiple choice questions such as…

  •   My supervisor / manager effectively explains how company initiatives will affect our departments
  • My supervisor/ manager is good at speaking in front of groups
  • Who did you hear about XXX from?
  • Do you understand how your team /role’s activities can contribute to XYZ initiative?

…can help you assess how effective managers are at communicating key messages. Benchmarking this capability allows you to set standards, reward good behavior and provide training to those managers who are not performing well.  

Maintain levels of capability and knowledge  

A good knowledge and understanding of products, services and key business processes is essential to developing effective, satisfied staff and delivering good customer service. The next time you roll out a training program, remember, in 30 days people typically forget 80% of what they have learnt if it is not reinforced… 

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Any easy way to reinforce training and measure and raise capability is to use an electronic staff quiz.  A staff quiz you can: Reinforce training.  Enhance knowledge (e.g. around key processes) Benchmark and set standards  Influence attitudes with ‘scenario’ quizzes (e.g. “In situation A do you….?” Create competition. Inspire staff to reach high standards Engage in fun initiatives. Motivate staff with fun competitions and prizes (e.g. include a silly answer in multi-choice questions to make people smile) Measure effectiveness of training (e.g. 6 months after attending training, have behaviors changed?) A desktop alert quiz format  ’pops up’ on the employee’s computer and provides options to complete now or defer until later. You can specify how frequently and how often the quiz will reappear until it is completed.

‘Silent Quizzes’ that staff can opt into via a hyperlink could also be set up. Embedded hyperlinks allow answers to be researched on the intranet and an optional display of the correct answers and scoring can provide further reinforcement of learning.

Find ways to achieve cut through for urgent messages  

It’s getting harder and harder to achieve message penetration with so much “noise.” This is particularly an issue for busy, customer facing, staff who use computers only intermittently during the day. For important updates, such as pricing changes, notification of system outages or major business announcements, message cut-through can be a priority. 

Try these tools  

A desktop alert is a powerful way to achieve message cut through. Initial pop-up notifications can contain discreet messages if computers are customer facing. However, the employee eventually has to open or respond to the alert to remove it from their computer (unless an expiry date or maximum recurrence option has been specified). Reporting options mean you can report on who has / has not opened the full message and/or clicked links contained in the message. This can be great for compliance requirements such as health and safety and code of conduct messages.

Make senior managers accessible

Research consistently shows that confidence and trust in leadership is a top driver of employee engagement. It is important that employees believe in and relate to senior managers and see how their role fits within and contributes to the wider organization. Find ways to make senior managers more accessible to staff.

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Blogs enable key managers to write about various aspects of the business. Encourage staff to ask questions and seek clarification. A blog can help staff relate to the human side of managers and build engagement and commitment. Enlist the people that staff respect to write blogs, answer questions and provide a credible source of context covering a variety of topics and issues. One example could be to have a successful sales performer blog about “The Secrets of My Success” and a customer service champion to blog about “The Road to Customer Service Excellence”.

If face to face opportunities with the CEO are limited, Video can provide an alternative. Staff can still see the commitment and intent in the CEO’s eyes and hear the passion/empathy in their voice. 

Engage staff by involving them  

Involvement is an important aspect of engagement and commitment to an organization. Find ways to involve staff and allow them to influence some aspects of the business operations. Ensure a process exists for submitting ideas and suggestions, consider company volunteer programs which relate to the business, allow employees to contribute to projects and initiatives being run by the wider organization and provide sufficient and equitable opportunities for staff to become involved in new projects and opportunities.

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A discussion forum can be a powerful way of holding virtual meetings. Staff don’t need to be in the same location and they don’t even have to say who they are. You can involve people and receive timely and honest feedback. A discussion forum is also exceptionally useful as a brainstorming canvas for focus groups. Get staff involved and keep them engaged.