Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Making Your Home "Smart" with the Internet of Things

Back in June 2015, I wrote about the Internet of Things for ASQ (American Society of Quality). Two years have passed and devices that manage technology in our homes are becoming more commonplace. The term "smart home" describes the control and automation of lighting, heating, air conditioning, security, and appliances.

Honeywell Device for Detecting Leaks

Leak detection prevents water damage
The device shown above serves as a leak detector. The wire is a sensor for moisture. The box is a WiFi interface. This device can be placed near a water heater or washing machine. In the case of a leak, an email is sent to the owner.

Email Advising of Leak

Controlling temperature from a phone or other mobile device
More and more people are replacing their thermostats with models that connect to the internet via WiFi and can be controlled through an app on a mobile device. In this way, the home temperature can be checked and adjusted remotely.

WiFi Thermostat

One use is to raise the air conditioning setting while out of town. Once you are on your way home, you can remotely lower the setting so the home temperature will be comfortable when you arrive.

Mobile Phone App Screen Controlling Thermostat
Tablet App Screen Controlling Thermostat

Home security
Many internet of things in the home improve security. Lights and televisions can be turned on and off while on vacation so the home looks occupied. Cameras can be installed inside and out, and viewed on a device from another location (see screenshot below).
Tablet App Showing Camera Views of Business

An internet-enabled doorbell with camera allows the homeowner to respond by voice to someone at the front door even when they're in another location. This uses an app on a mobile device.

New home construction offers smart home technology. The addition of internet-enabled devices to older homes is being simplified to do-it-yourself home improvement projects.

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Saturday, July 8, 2017

Industry 4.0: How Quality Professionals Can Stay Relevant

Stay Relevant by Studying Aspects of Industry 4.0

Some aspects of Industry 4.0 are automation, data exchange, the internet of things, cloud computing, cybersecurity, and computer innovations.

Quality professionals need to stay relevant. By relevant, I mean they need to understand these aspects on a general level and stay updated on technical applications and systems that interconnect, exchange data, and prompt autonomous decisions in their industries.

In some cases, this understanding is no further away than a Youtube video. The internet has made staying technically relevant easier. The quality professional should take advantage of all in-company resources as well as local chapter and national ASQ educational opportunities. If you want to request speakers on new technology, reach out to chapter leadership. If you have Industry 4.0 experience, offer to exchange information in the form of a talk or tour with your local chapter membership.

Part of this article appeared in ASQ's July 2017 Roundtable discussion.
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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Small Business Cybersecurity: The People Connection

Data from 2015 shows that 20% of U.S. businesses hacked are small with less than 250 employees. 60% of those fail after the attack. For small and medium-sized businesses, the average cost of a data breach is $21,000.

In 2016 an accountant was hacked and financial information and social security numbers from accounts were stolen. By the time the breach was discovered, a false return had been filed with the IRS in my family's name.

Cyber criminals or hackers use stolen information to obtain money. Sometimes they use the data, but often it is sold to other criminals. With names and social security numbers, criminals can file fraudulent claims for tax refunds.

Hackers also steal bank account information, credit and debit card numbers and authentication details, personal information, medical records, trademark information, trade secrets and others. A list of names, phone numbers, and addresses can be used by IRS scammers. Those criminals make threats and convince people to wire money or mail debit cards.

Preventing business cybercrime requires several levels of defense. Employee internet habits are one layer of cybercrime security that should be addressed. Since downloads of software are one of the primary causes of virus attacks, employee internet policies need to be solid and well communicated.

Steps to prevent cybercrime caused by employee behavior:

Company policies

Robust and clear company policies need to be written, distributed, and updated regularly.
These policies would cover the following areas:
  • email and internet use
  • protecting confidential information
  • policy communication and updates

Security training

Periodic meetings should be held to discuss security issues and concerns. Use recent news reports and videos to highlight different security concerns. Be clear about new threats from cyber crime and security changes to address those threats. Employees should be educated to be alert to phishing emails and suspicious attachments or links. A cybersecurity manager should be named who can respond to employee questions in a timely manner. This person should also insure policies are written, updated, and communicated.

Control Access

Limit administrative and password access. Regularly change passwords and establish limiting access to levels of data where possible. When employees are terminated, immediate changes in network access should be made.

Protecting organizations from cybercrime is a complex issue. Employee internet behavior is one area that should be managed to keep business information secure.

A cybersecurity tip sheet for small businesses by the Department of Homeland Security can be found here.

This article originally appeared on my Web Technology blog which can be found here.

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Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Boomer Generation Spends More Time Viewing Content than Others

If you're in the business of preparing web content, it helps to know your audience. It may be surprising to learn that the generation known as baby boomers
spends more time consuming content than millennials or generation xers. The 2015 United States census reports a population of 74.9 million boomers.

Generations (Years vary slightly with source)

In some ways, boomers view web content the same as others. This means:

  • Facebook is the top platform for sharing content (64%)
  • Videos and images are shared more than other content
  • Article length of 300 words is most preferred
  • Most favorite content types are:
  1. Blog articles
  2. Images
  4. Ebooks
  5. Reviews 

Web viewing habits unique to boomers are:

  • More content viewed between 9-11:59 a.m. 
  • Most common internet access through desktops and laptops
  • Top subjects viewed:
  1. Entertainment 19%
  2. World News    18%
  3. Politics            13% 
  4. Healthy Living  9%
  •  Least favorite content types are:
  1. Memes*
  2. Webinars
  3. Flipbooks
  4. Slideshares
  5. White papers

Keep the above viewing habits in mind when sharing information with the boomer demographic. As a boomer, most of the stats above track my habits. I consume more content during the day than at night. I use both a laptop and desktop computer for ease-of-use. I check social media on my iPad and post tweets with photos from my phone. I veer from the demographic by using Twitter more than Facebook. Healthy living, nature and business are my trending topics. What about you? Do the figures above track with your internet use? Please let me know with a comment below.

Boomer viewing habits were extracted from data presented by Red Website Design here. In Financial Facts about Boomer Power, I explore the financial power of the boomer demographic. Please click the italicized title to view.

*meme- humorous video, image, or text that is shared rapidly via internet

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Thursday, February 16, 2017

ASQ Raleigh Members Tour Caterpillar's Plant in Clayton, NC

ASQ Raleigh Members at Caterpillar Plant in Clayton NC

Last month, ASQ Raleigh members toured Caterpillar's Clayton plant where wheel loaders are assembled. The plant was an impressive example of forward-thinking and progressive manufacturing. Gone were the loud noises, gas fumes, and beeping forklifts one expects in a truck factory.

The shift hummed along quietly. Digital "scoreboards" hung from the ceiling with statistics on the day's progress towards manufacturing goals. Work stations were ergonomically arranged to the worker's height to avoid muscle strains. Because the truck body moves along the assembly line on an electric track there are little or no fumes in the building. Promotions for safety and quality were abundant in the tidy work areas. The line is paused for quality meetings where all employees attend.

Headsets dialed into our tour guide's voice allowed clear communication. I've attended tours where it was difficult to hear the guide over machinery.

The Clayton facility was re-purposed years ago from a circuit board manufacturing plant. In our throwaway society, it is commendable anytime manufacturing recycles a facility. This location also boasts test tracks and an engineering center.

ASQ Raleigh very much appreciates the time and energy extended by the visitor care team at Caterpillar.

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