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How To Record a Phone Call

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No matter which end of business you are on, you may need to learn how to record a phone call. This is significant when you need to remember important information …Read More »

15 Persuasive Words and Phrases to Use for Business Calls

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Every writer, marketing specialist, and salesperson will tell you: words are important. Most of the time, you are not consciously paying attention to what draws you to certain products over …Read More »

How to add Call Forwarding to a 4 Line Phone System

4 Line Phone System

Businesses ranging from large corporations to small businesses must continuously improve and maintain good customer relations. Therefore, the choices you make regarding what phone system or multimedia channels to utilize …Read More »

The Benefits of Buying Local Phone Numbers in Bulk

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Local numbers are a smart addition to any business. They give your business an authentic presence in particular target markets and make your company more accessible to individuals in local …Read More »

Top VoIP Speed Tests (As of December 2019)

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Think your VoIP connection is lacking something? Use one of these top VoIP speed tests to measure internet performance and quality. This way, you will know where your VoIP connection …Read More »

Creating The Perfect Phone Tree Template For Your Business

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Want to ensure that your customers have a pleasant experience when contacting you? Your customers should think of your company as approachable and, therefore, feel comfortable reaching out when they …Read More »

Is AOL down? AOL dial-up subscribers still exist in 2019

AOL, originally known as America Online, is an American web portal and online service provider. At one point, AOL grew to become the largest online service provider and one of the early pioneers of the Internet in the mid-1990s. It originally provided a dial-up service to millions, as well as email, instant messaging, a web portal, and a web browser. But what happened to AOL? Is it still around and do dial-up subscribers to the service still exist today?

The Original AOL

In the early days of the internet, AOL was extremely popular. The service had millions of subscribers to its dial-up internet service and also serving as a sort of web portal or directory that directed customers to its other sites and services. For quite some time, the business model was successful and seemingly flawless. This was until the year 2000 when AOL bought TimeWarner.

AOL Purchased TimeWarner

AOL’s purchase of TimeWarner (a $164 billion transaction) made the company one of the largest in the world. Soon after that purchase, however, dialup gave way to broadband and AOL’s “walled garden” model was then replaced by an open web.

AOL Today

To those who wonder, “Is AOL down?” The answer is it is not. AOL is still alive and technically still making most of its money from subscribers to the various services it offers. These days, those services include broadband. AOL’s true value is not in its subscriber base, though. The company has taken money from its old business and reinvested it into a new one, which is based on digital video advertising. In this area, AOL has truly been dominating.

Is AOL down AOL dial-up subscribers still exist in 2019
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AOL People Connection

Even though most of AOL’s money is not coming from subscriptions, the company still offers AOL chat rooms and AOL games to its users. AOL People Connection is the primary home to dozens of chat rooms that are grouped into primary categories. One category includes chat rooms created by AOL, while the other category includes chat rooms created by members. Chats in both of these categories focus on a specific topic. These topics include health, arts, entertainment, hobbies, food, pets, politics, travel, sports, and more. Chat rooms that are created by members can either be private or public.

How to Participate in Chat Rooms

To participate in AOL chat rooms there are requirements to fulfill. You must download the appropriate AOL software for your computer and sign up for a screen name. Both the software and account are free and you don’t have to subscribe to AOL dial-up or broadband Internet service to access the chat rooms.

There is a comprehensive list of guidelines for users to follow to ensure the experience remains safe for everyone. A user must agree to follow these policies when creating a screen name. The guidelines cover appropriate language, various types of illegal activities, and the distribution of content.

Connecting with Other Members

Whether you aim to find others who share similar interests, chat with friends, or meet new people to play your favorite games with, AOL has a wide variety of chat rooms that provide the ability to connect with other AOL members.

So is AOL down?

For those who may wonder “Is AOL down?” or “Is AOL still around?” the answer is a clear YES. AOL is still very much around. There are still subscribers to its dial-up service as well as many additional members who use AOL broadband, chat rooms, games and more. And, in the digital advertising world, AOL has gradually become one of the most powerful players.

Inspiring Entrepreneurs in 2019

Entrepreneurs are business owners who design, operate, and launch businesses. They usually dump their 9-to-5 jobs to pursue an idea that they believe in. It’s not an easy or glamorous job; it takes a lot of hard work, determination, and grit to build a business from the bottom up. That is why it can be so inspiring when you meet someone who has worked very hard and taken their business to new levels of success. Read on and get inspired by these young entrepreneurs that you will most certainly be seeing more of this coming year.

Entrepreneurs to watch in 2019

1. Leigh-Kathryn Bonner

Bonner, 25, decided that instead of sitting around and worrying about the declining population of bees in the world, she would do something about it. So she did. She is now the owner of Bee Downtown, a company that installs honey beehives in urban areas. She has installed beehives in the corporate headquarters of Burt’s Bees, Chick-Fil-A, IBM, Delta, and Intercontinental Exchange. Bonner is a fourth-generation beekeeper and decided that, after studying abroad, that she needed to be concerned about the alarming rate that the bee population is declining. She decided that she could approach the American Tobacco Campus in Durham, NC and pitch the idea to place a beehive on the top of their building. The owner of the company liked the idea so much that he introduced her to Burt’s Bees and the rest isn’t quite history. She decided to keep running the business on the side as she finished her schooling. Upon graduation, she was offered a job. Instead of taking the job she pursued her business idea full time and with a loan of $15,000 from her parents she was able to take her business to where it is today.

Inspiring Entrepreneurs
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2. Jobert Abma and Michiel Prins

These two self-taught hackers are the creators of HackerOne. Their company helps businesses by finding security vulnerabilities and keeping cyber threats at bay. The company is based in San Francisco and run by the pair of childhood friends whose customer base is stacked with top corporations such as Starbucks, Airbnb, General Motors, and Twitter. They got their first contract job at Facebook by diving deep into the messaging application for Facebook and finding a bug. They were immediately invited to a social event by the group and given jobs. Once they secured their contract at Facebook, they decided to target other large companies they wished to work for and found cybersecurity bugs in their websites and before long they found themselves with a stacked clientele base.

3. Siqi Mou

Siqi Mou is the 29-year-old creator of HelloAva, an automated chatbot that can help you pinpoint the problems in your skin and curate a list best suited to fight your skin blemishes. Mou suffered from acne for the majority of her life. While she was formerly a news anchor in Indonesia, she was offered an opportunity to star in an ad. However, the advertisement was for a skincare product, before she agreed to do the ad, she looked up the harsh chemical ingredients in the products and got very annoyed. Her dissatisfaction with the commercial skincare products out today birthed the idea she had for HelloAva. Now users can consult with an aesthetician online and receive recommendations for products that are good for the skin.

4. Camille Baker

Pull Up a Seat offers foodies a chance to satisfy their cravings and allows businesses like bakeries, a way to reach broad and local audiences. Baker created this platform so that chefs could spend more time working on their food rather than using up so much time on creating a website and marketing. Now the food vendors can list their businesses on the site, and the foodies will come.

5. Krisna Bhargava

Krisna Bhargava was a Ph.D. student at the University of Southern California when he came up with the idea to create his business, ReoLab. He got the idea for the company when he realized that the tools that were used to run medical tests in hospitals were not as capable as they had the potential to be. These tests could take days at a time for results when people who were medical danger didn’t have that kind of time. He decided that by shrinking a testing lab to the size of a shoebox, he could have results that were ready in an hour. With some help from his peers and mentors, he has been able to gain funding for his idea which he has dubbed “like a Keurig machine for diagnostic tests.”

Many inspiring entrepreneurs make names for themselves each year. Why not be next?

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Amazon HQ2 Announced!

Over the past year, there has been a great deal of fanfare and speculation about the location of Amazon’s HQ2. The company’s second headquarters is expected to provide as many as 50,000 jobs and to be equal in size to its first headquarters in Seattle.

Finally, the wait is over as Amazon announced its choice in November 2018. HQ2 will have not one, but two locations; one in Crystal City in Arlington, Virginia, and one in Long Island City, in Queens, New York City. Amazon claims that each venue will provide employment for 25,000 people.

Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos announced that the company has also selected Nashville to host a “center of excellence” which will hire 5,000 people to handle business operations, including transportation, customer fulfillment, and supply chain. Hiring for all three facilities will begin in 2019.

Amazon Gets Incentives

Amazon will receive more than $1.5 billion in incentives from New York and $573 million in incentives from Virginia. Tennessee is also giving Amazon up to $102 million in incentives. As part of the agreements, Bezos has stated that the positions in all three facilities will have an average wage of $150,000. The company also agreed to donate a site for a new primary or secondary school in New York and to fund improvements in infrastructure and green space.

Amazon’s Impact on Seattle

Known locally as Amazonians, Seattle’s Amazon workforce collectively occupies more office space than Seattle’s next 40 largest companies combined. The areas in metro Seattle which saw the largest influx of employees have seen rent increases hiked up 65 percent faster than those areas which saw the smallest influx. Since its inception in 2010, jobs are still booming in and around the Amazon campus.

The South Lake Union neighborhood, formerly an industrial area, is now home to condos, offices, gyms, restaurants, and coffee shops. And still, more of the same can be found under construction.

The Amazon campus started out with a workforce of 10,000. This has now grown to 40,000 and Seattle is proud to have Amazon in its midst.

What to Expect From Amazon HQ2

Over the next two decades, Amazon plans to spend $5 billion to develop two 4-million square-feet sites, each of which will employ 25,000 people. This will add to Amazon’s growing workforce of 613,300 people worldwide. HQ2 is yet another indication of Bezos’ grand ambitions with his company expanding from retail to include healthcare, entertainment, robotics, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence. But just like Seattle, Virginia and New York will witness the downside of the latest Amazon venture, including high rent hikes and increased traffic.

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Why Does Amazon Want HQ2?

Early in 2018, an Amazon spokesman claimed that the company wanted to tap into a new talent pool, including people in software development. Expanding in Seattle would have proved difficult, particularly with soaring real estate prices and competition for talent with Boeing and Microsoft.

Now the third-most-valuable company in the U.S., Amazon is also expanding in China, India, the Middle East, and Europe. So, new headquarters on the east side of the country could assist with oversight of its international customer base and global workforce.

Are Two HQ2s Better Than One?

Opinions vary. Some see the two smaller offices as easier to manage without becoming a major strain on local infrastructure. What’s more, two locations mean a big economic benefit for both locations. However, critics state concerns about rises in rent and traffic. Others complain that choosing two locations undercuts the whole point of having HQ2 because the locations will not be equal to Seattle’s HQ.

Amazon’s initial announcement of its planned expansion triggered a hot contest between cities who wanted to win the prize, especially as the company said it was looking for creative communities that could think big. Amazon narrowed it down to twenty cities, and the buzz went quiet while the company went about its selection process. In the end, money was a big factor for the finalists because Amazon wanted plenty of incentives. This led to the largest incentive package of $8.5 billion, which was offered by Montgomery County, Maryland, and the second largest of $7 billion offered by Newark, New Jersey.

Amazon has certainly come a long way since it was founded in Bellevue, Washington in 1994. In the company’s journey to maturity, it has gone through a number of office moves in downtown Seattle. Then the company finally constructed its HQ campus in the South Lake Union neighborhood, which at the time was a light industrial area which was enjoying the beginning of urban renewal. Amazon has certainly made a big impact on the area. How it will impact Virginia and New York remains to be seen.

Facebook Found Gathering Texts and Phone Data From Android Devices

Back in 2015, when Android users downloaded the App for Facebook or Facebook Lite, they would be asked a question- If they would like to sync their contacts with the App in order to find their friends easier. However, they never stated that they would use this information to track your call logs, which it was later revealed that they did. This information was revealed in late March, the same day that Mark Zuckerberg took out ads to publicly apologize for the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Since then Facebook has been weathering the storm from both of these revelations that have reached millions of people’s personal data security.

In the first scandal, Facebook leaked the information of 87 million users to the research firm, Cambridge Analytica. The information was linked to a paid psychological test taken by downloading a quiz app through Facebook of which only 270,000 users willingly downloaded. However, the affected people reached the 87 million because data was taken from other users who were simply “friends” with the users who downloaded the psychological quiz. It is not known how Cambridge Analytica was able to get the information of the friends of the users. It was later reported that the Trump Campaign paid Cambridge Analytica $6 million during the election year. Facebook followed this scandal by assuring users that they would be making a greater effort to shield a person’s privacy by limiting the information that third-party accounts would receive in the future.

Following, this scandal the Ars Technica website revealed that Android users had checked the data that Facebook had gathered from them over the years and found out that Facebook had kept actual text message content, telephone call lengths, phone numbers, and names of their contacts in a data log. Facebook claimed that they simply use this data to improve the Facebook experience and that using this data helps people connect with others. An example of how they “improved” Facebook’s experience was by categorizing the contacts you see first when using the messenger feature. Basically, the people who you converse with most would be found at the top of your Facebook contacts when using the messenger feature.

Facebook reps also defended the site by saying that the data that was collected from this application asked users beforehand to “opt-in” to share their data with the company for research purposes. Several users who found out that years of their contact data and phone records had been collected did not remember choosing to “opt-in.” This was because the opt-in was a default mode when installing and only if users went through the settings of the app to correct it, their data would automatically be shared. Although later Facebook began asking permission of the users before automatically storing their data, they did not outright tell the user what data they would be collecting and how they would be using it. They simply said sharing your data would help you find your friends easier.

Many users were confused by the way Facebook had said they would use their data. There was no mention of Facebook collecting call logs and text messages, so users were understandably shocked when they downloaded their Facebook data to find the call logs. Since this news came in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, this breach of data has a larger meaning. Although Facebook tried to placate users by letting them know they can change all of the data that is being shared in their settings, we now know that the information contained by Facebook is vulnerable to being shared with their affiliates. Facebook representatives continue to claim that their networks are secure and the data can’t be shared, which is a bizarre claim to make immediately after they publicly apologized for that exact situation happening. The company has since suffered a 14% drop in stocks since the news broke about Cambria.

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Some companies have pulled back the amount of money spent on Facebook ads, but analysts do not believe this will have a long-term effect. They believe that most companies will return to Facebook once the backlash is over. Facebook is still a social media giant and boasts the most users out of all social media platforms. It has nearly three times as many users as Instagram, and even their second app, Facebook Messenger, boasts 1.3 billion users to the 800 million on Instagram. Twitter falls behind both Instagram and Facebook with 330 million active users. The social network that is closest to Facebook is YouTube with 1.5 billion active users to Facebook’s 2.1 billion.

The CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, took out several ads in the UK and America to apologize for the Cambridge Analytica data leak, but many people were not satisfied with this apology and decided to leave Facebook altogether fearing that their information is not safe. A slew of celebrities made a public break from the company, including Will Ferrell, Cher, and Elon Musk. Will Ferrell posted his farewell to Facebook on his Facebook page which he left up for a few days before actual deletion so the news could travel to his fans. He cited multiple reasons for leaving the site. He stated that Facebook misusing information of users undermines democracy itself, and he couldn’t “in good conscience” use the site anymore because of Facebook’s involvement in “the spread of propaganda” to the “most vulnerable” Americans.

Cher chose Twitter as her avenue of announcing her split from the site. She wrote how she appreciated Facebook as a way to help her charities, but ultimately decided to delete her account. Her reasoning behind deleting her page was that she believes there are “more important things than money.” She stressed the point of the tweet in Cher-fashion by using multiple emojis, including the bags of money emoji.

If you’re thinking about permanently deleting your Facebook, there is a catch. While you can delete your Facebook from the present and the future, you can’t delete it from the past. All of the information that Facebook has collected from your presence on the app over the years will remain active for a few months and not everything will get deleted even after that period. The majority of information that the Facebook deleter has posted will be erased eventually, but the posts by friends of this user will remain active until that Facebook user deletes their Facebook account. So unless all of your friends jump on the #DeleteFacebook train, some of your data will remain in the social media giant’s hands.

Scammers Steal Phone Numbers from T-Mobile

If you’re using a T-Mobile phone, you may want to watch your bank account.

Mobile cell phone provider T-Mobile is warning its customers about the appearance of a new scam that targets your phone number linked to your bank account. According to T-Mobile, this scam could potentially affect any other service provider (i.e. Verizon) who has provided security information to their bank.

It may seem ironic, but the same security measures used to thwart identity thieves actually create a loophole. Essentially, the scam is a straight-forward exploit of lax security measures: First, scammers obtain your phone number, pretend to be a consumer, and finally transport your number to another phone. The scam works because it takes advantage of how banks and other financial institutions use password-recovery options that are linked to cellphone numbers. These same numbers may also be linked to social media accounts, like Twitter and Facebook, further compounding the complications of identity-theft.

How the Scam Works

The scam all starts with thieves getting your personal information, which includes your name, phone number, email addresses, and possibly your Social Security number. From there, thieves typically take their victim’s T-Mobile phone number by accessing their account information. Combined with their victim’s personal information, they are able to transfer that number to another phone — for T-Mobile users, it can be Metro PCS, a company that is owned by T-Mobile.

According to technology experts, thieves then immediately contact the victim’s bank to reset the password on the victim’s bank account. Banks then provide a verification code sent to the phone number on the scammer’s MetroPCS phone (or another mobile device). Once the new password is set, thieves can transfer funds just as normally as if the victim were doing it themselves.

Users who have experienced this scam typically begin by receiving a text message from T-Mobile, alerting the user that they’ve made changes to their service plan and that their phone number has been transferred to a T-Mobile-related cell service, MetroPCS. However, the scammer has deliberately made this change, transferring the user’s phone number to a new phone and then cutting off service to the user’s phone. Those who get in touch with the cell phone provider naturally inquire about their phone account, which is usually rectified immediately.

While this may just seem like adding insult to injury, there is also has a compounding effect to this approach. For those who may not have a way to immediately get in contact with their financial institution to place a hold, freeze their accounts, and verify the account for suspicious activity, the thieves get a window of opportunity to transfer money from the bank account to another. By the time most customers begin to investigate their account activity and get their phones back online, the scammers have already moved on. It has been reported that this entire process only takes a few minutes, showing the speed and sophistication of the attack.

What makes this recent wave of identity theft especially possible is an app known as Zelle. Recently, banks have been offering a free money-transfer service via Zelle to process the transactions smoothly between other bank accounts. To use this service, people register their email addresses or phone numbers to verify their Zelle account — which creates the perfect opportunity for thieves to gather a customer’s private information. While Zelle’s purpose is to facilitate easy transfers of money between accounts, it may be too easy for scammers to empty an account in short order.

What Can Customers Do to Protect Themselves?

As with any scam or unusual account activity, it typically falls on the shoulders of the customer to be vigilant. This includes the normal preventative measures of not providing their personal information to untrustworthy sources, shredding documents, and creating passwords online that are hard to crack. In most cases, when the scam has been caught early, consumers have been able to mitigate their losses and stop the unwanted money-transfers.

However, basic preventative measures may not be enough to protect consumers. The extent of the scam has forced T-Mobile and other cell phone service providers to issue an alert to combat this issue. The company has provided a link on its website dedicated to this scam, stating, “Our industry is experiencing a phone number port out scam that could impact you.” Additionally, the Better Business has issued a nationwide alert in an effort to stop the scam that is responsible for stealing thousands of dollars from T-Mobile customers.

To further protect its customers, T-Mobile has been contacting their customers via text message to immediately add extra layers of security protection to their accounts. This new security feature requires any number-porting request to be verified with a special passcode. T-Mobile users are encouraged to call 611 from their T-Mobile phone and create a new 6-to-15-digit passcode to add another barrier to identity thieves. Additionally, T-Mobile suggests that its customers have strong passwords on all of their accounts and ask their bank for any other added security measures, including text-to-PIN authentication or unlinking of their contact information.

For more information on T-Mobile’s security and privacy resources, click here.

According to recent estimates, this scam has been able to siphon anywhere between $1,000 – $3,000 in unwanted transactions per attack, but it may be more widespread than is being reported.

Experts have detected similar bank-verification scams dating back to 2016 and 2017, indicating that this is not the first instance of tech-savvy cellphone crimes that can exploit your bank account via phone. In similar circumstances, Verizon, Sprint and AT&T phone-number verifications from a financial institution were exploited in the same fashion — ill-gotten personal information allowed thieves to pose as a customer and attempt to change information for account transfers.

With newer money transfer services like Zelle and VenMo, transactions can occur rapidly with minimal verification. This may indicate a trend of identity theft that focuses on manipulating security measures for a window opportunity. Despite the industry-wide warnings, there continue to be instances of this scam appearing across the United States, particularly in the Seattle area.

WATCH SpaceX Tesla Roadster Impacted by Debris? – Live Feed Goes Dark

When a brilliant billionaire with otherworldly domination on the brain decides it is time to exceed expectations with a product launch, surely they would be anticipating a bumpy ride along the way. And that’s exactly what Tesla and SpaceX Founder and CEO, Elon Musk witnessed less than 24 hours since his Heavy Falcon rocket took off.  The Falcon Heavy had a payload of  Tesla’s Roadster and took off from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, FL.

Around 7:30 AM EST, it appeared as if something impacted the spacecraft, causing a slight jolt during the early stages of its Mars-bound flight.

Clearly, however not surprisingly, there seems to be no mention of it anywhere, but for those watching closely on the “Starman,” live stream, as the Roadsternaut is now affectionately known, the impact(s) were definitely noticeable. Within the video footage, a second disturbance causes the foil to move around in a very unusual manner, and almost immediately, the live feed went dark. The blackout lasted for 15 – 20 minutes before it returned to its regularly scheduled live streaming of the Starman. SpaceX has since removed video footage of the mishap and blackout, but it definitely occurred and we cannot help but speculate on the nature of the disturbance.

The obtained footage of the unusual activity was taken directly from the live SpaceX feed ( ), and it was definitely something any obsessed stargazer would want to check out for themselves, so have a look! 

Naturally, this series of strange occurrences has us asking: What caused the blackout? What caused the unusual movement? Why does the foil thermal blanket move in such a sudden, abrupt manner, and then suddenly shift the camera to an awkward angle, showing additional movement?  Was it space junk? Was it a meteor?

We would love to get a response from SpaceX because, like many folks, we are glued to the feed and really curious about what caused such events to occur. What kind of impact actually took place?

Obviously, it was not a major concern. After a period of 15 – 20 minutes, everything was back in action. Cameras were readjusted and Starman resumed control of the helm. Did space junk impact the spacecraft? Was it a declaration of interstellar warfare by extraterrestrials? Or do you think it was staged to increase viewership, because a boring excuse of, say “a glitch in the filming,” just doesn’t cut it anymore? Any and all theories are welcome, of course…

Currently cruising beyond the orbit of the moon, in an elliptical orbit around the sun, Tesla’s space-traveling Roadster, manned by “Starman,” a space suit-donning dummy, has had a tremendous amount of attention over the past few days. This mission was successfully launched on Tuesday, February 6, 2018, by SpaceX’s most advanced rocket to date, the Falcon Heavy. At the moment, the cherry-red Tesla Roadster is on a mission to Mars, with the Red Planet’s orbit on the horizon by summer 2019.

So, why the use of a stunning Tesla vehicle and not the typical steel or cement blocks that NASA typically sends into orbit? Elon Musk wanted to make people feel something, so a cherry-red Roadster was chosen as the object to inspire the masses. Quoted by the master of Tesla and SpaceX himself: “Of course, anything boring is terrible, especially companies, so we decided to send something unusual, something that made us feel. “The payload will be an original Tesla Roadster, playing Space Oddity (by David Bowie), on a billion-year elliptic Mars orbit.”

Did you happen to catch the footage of the SpaceX Tesla Roadster blackout? What was your initial reaction? If you haven’t seen it yet, we’ve got the footage! Commentary and explanations from SpaceX are absolutely welcome and encouraged; we’d love to know more!

Broadcom Offers Qualcomm $121 Billion in Takeover Bid

On Monday, February 5, 2018, Broadcom Ltd made a $121 billion (86.35 billion pounds) offer in a last effort to acquire Qualcomm Inc. This move upped the pressure on its U.S. semiconductor peer in hopes of engaging discussion on what is prospected to be the largest technology acquisition ever. This acquisition could affect the future of smartphones and other emerging technologies.

Previously, Broadcom had offered an initial offer of $70 per share ($60 in cash and $10 in Broadcom stock). Now, Broadcom has increased its takeover bid to $82 per share ($60 in cash and $22 in Broadcom stock). With the increase in stock, this subjects the deal to a vote among Broadcom’s shareholders.

Broadcom Aggressively Pursues Qualcomm

This is a strategic maneuver by Broadcom to raise the stakes and influence negotiations, as Qualcomm’s annual shareholder meeting is scheduled to be held on March 6th. In an effort to unseat the entire board, Broadcom has doubled down with making its last offer and stated that it would also withdraw its offer if Qualcomm reschedules the shareholder meeting. To further drive its point home, Broadcom also stated it would withdraw its offer if Qualcomm had paid more than $110 per share for its own bid to acquire NXP Semiconductors NV.

Currently, Qualcomm’s deal with NXP has hovered at $110 per share in cash, or the transaction (valued at $38 million) would be terminated. However, it appears that NXP shareholders, including the hedge fund Elliott Management Corp, have decided to resist the deal in hopes to push for Qualcomm to raise its offer.

As of Monday afternoon, NXP shares were trading at $119.16, indicating that investors were expecting a better deal from Qualcomm. To further raise the stakes, Qualcomm’s potential acquisition of NXP has already passed European Union antitrust regulators in January, with it expected that China’s regulatory bodies would follow suit in the following month. This timeline creates the tension of the deal, forcing Qualcomm to decide whether it would raise its offer or accept Broadcom’s bold offer. Hock Tan, Broadcom’s CEO, even went as far to mention to the NY Times that, “Any rational board would consider what we’ve put forward.”

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The potential outcome of Broadcom’s bold move would create a technology giant that may have products used in virtually every smartphone in the world. However, Qualcomm’s leadership opposes these bids of forcing their hand to accept the offer.

Whether Qualcomm decides to accept the bid or not, analysts have suggested that the offer may be rejected on antitrust grounds. Considering that the rising cost of developing computer chips may be prohibitive for companies looking to carve a stake in the market, these worries are not completely unfounded. This is especially true considering the future market landscape of semiconductors, with microchip sales surging 21.6% to $412.2 billion in 2017 (according to the Semiconductor Industry Association). To assuage concerns and highlight its commitment to making the deal go through, Broadcom went several steps further in its negotiations:

  • Broadcom has decidedly announced they will pay a substantial “breakup fee” in the event regulators veto the deal. This agreement includes paying additional cash if both companies haven’t closed a transaction a year after announcement.
  • The company would also pay a significant “reverse termination fee” if regulators nix the deal.
  • If the transaction is not completed within its target of 12 months after any definitive agreement, Broadcom said it would be willing to pay Qualcomm a “ticking fee.”
  • Broadcom mentioned its commitment to facilitate the transaction, including selling overlapping businesses.
  • Broadcom’s assurances may sweeten the deal and prove important for those on the fence, especially when considering questions among investors and analysts hinge over whether the merger could win regulatory approval.

Of course, one clear takeaway from this corporate tech battle is that it underpins the growing importance of semiconductor tech in nearly all modern devices. Consumers should take note that the implications of this acquisition, as Qualcomm has been closely related to the success of emerging technology in the past and is closely tied to the development of 5G, a new generation of wireless technology that will affect future devices. Qualcomm’s past developments in technology — first, through intellectual property — became the foundation for digital cellular communication, where its profits were channeled into developing a new line of microprocessors that could handle calculations in mobile phones.

This model was widely employed in Apple’s iPhones — among the most lucrative products in high-tech, and they opened the door for Samsung Electronics and many Chinese competitors. With this massive influx, this technology was used to quickly churn out low-priced iPhone rivals and it made smartphones affordable to many more people. Apple filed suit a year ago with Qualcomm, citing that the company was in violation of an antitrust practice that has also been opposed by regulators in the US, Asia, and Europe.

Broadcom has sensed Qualcomm’s overreach and has offered to broker peace with Apple for Qualcomm’s licensing practices. Apple, which already is a major customer of Broadcom, could then withdraw its lawsuits that have beleaguered Qualcomm’s business model.

Tan has also mentioned that Broadcom plans to pick up the slack in the wake of the potential acquisition: “We have a lot of respect for the tech and the innovation that comes with the 5G technology,” he said. “But we believe, given [Broadcom’s] track record, we can do much more.”

However, Broadcom isn’t a fix-all situation for regulators and manufacturers, especially considering Broadcom’s history of reducing spending on research and development, while raising chip prices. Companies like Samsung have also begun to side with Qualcomm’s tried-and-true approach, as a new patent deal with the South Korean company was announced last week. Also mentioned was Samsung’s agreement to cease its opposition to Qualcomm in court proceedings in South Korea.

Whether Qualcomm decides to take the deal with Broadcom is currently unknown. However, in a recent statement, Qualcomm has not ruled out the possibility of the takeover by Broadcom. With an immediate outcome uncertain, investors will have to wait until Qualcomm’s shareholder meeting for further action. According to Tan, “We are going all the way to Qualcomm’s shareholder meeting of March 6.”

Elon Musk Launches the Largest Rocket Ever Made… with a Cherry Red Tesla Roadster Onboard!

It seems like every day that you turn on the news, Elon Musk is making headlines. This time, his company SpaceX is launching its Falcon Heavy rocket today, Feb. 6th at 3:45 PM. The Falcon Heavy is, according to SpaceX, one of the largest and most powerful rockets in the world (or solar system, for that matter).

Of course, this wouldn’t be a “Muskian” thing to do without some of his unique flair — technically, Elon is launching two vehicles tomorrow. That is, perched inside of the Falcon Heavy rocket is a Cherry Read Tesla Roadster from Musk’s other forward-looking company, Tesla Motors.

What’s the Launch About?

Here’s what you need to know about the launch:

  • SpaceX is launching its largest rocket, called the Falcon Heavy, on Tuesday afternoon at 3:45 PM EST from Cape Canaveral, Florida. As the cargo, The Tesla Roadster will be onboard. The aim of the launch is to fly a reusable rocket to Mars and advance the effort of space exploration.
  • Should the launch be successful, SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy will be the most powerful and biggest rocket to be launched into space in almost four decades (NASA’s Saturn V was launched in 1973). Although it is subject to debate, SpaceX has described the Falcon Heavy on its website as the most powerful rocket ever built, with specs that include:
  • The Falcon Heavy is built from 3 boosters of SpaceX’s smaller rocket, the Falcon 9. The rockets from SpaceX are designed to be reusable, with two of the rockets making up the 3 boosters to be from previous SpaceX launches. In an effort to cut costs and show proof of concept, SpaceX is attempting to recover all three boosters, with the two old boosters aiming for a side-by-side vertical touchdown at Cape Canaveral. The new and more powerful center core will attempt to land on a floating ocean platform.
  • At liftoff, the rocket is projected to put out 5 million pounds of thrust (for the laymen, the rocket is equivalent to 18 Boeing 747 aircrafts at full throttle). The aim is that the Falcon Heavy will set a precedent for cargo capacity and will be capable of lifting large satellites into orbit and other spacecraft to other planets.
  • The cargo capacity of the 70-meter-long Falcon Heavy could carry an estimated 37,000 pounds, suitable for both cargo and crew for future missions to Mars.

According to reports, when the rocket reaches zero gravity, it will be released on an elliptical orbit around the sun and, at one stage, will make a close pass by Mars. But that journey won’t be a silent one. The Cherry Red Tesla Roadster is programmed to play one of pop singer David Bowie’s hits, the rocket-themed song “Space Oddity.” A fitting tribute to the deceased leader of The Spiders from Mars and a classy nod from Musk, showing his attention to detail when it comes to the zeitgeist.

Naturally, an event of this magnitude is generating a lot of buzz not seen since the last NASA space shuttle flight in 2011. On Tuesday, it’s expected that there will be record numbers in attendance at the Kennedy Space Center to watch the Falcon Heavy launch, with tickets selling out well in advance for close-up viewing options charmingly titled “Feel the Heat” and “Closest Package.”

The cause, according to Phil Larson, is the magnitude of the launch itself. Larson, an assistant dean at the University of Colorado at Boulder, who used to work for SpaceX and the Obama administration, adds, “When you’re talking about what would be the biggest and largest operational launch vehicle in the world, that adds another dimension of excitement.”

Adding to this anticipation has been the many trials and tribulations from Musk’s own SpaceX camp. The Falcon Heavy program has experienced multiple delays and setbacks in the five years leading up to Tuesday’s launch. Even Musk himself was open to admit that his team was “pretty naive” and that development had been “way harder” than he had first conceptualized. With a successful launch, SpaceX can vindicate its efforts and boost consumer interest in space flight.

Why a Cherry Red Tesla Roadster?

In Musk’s words, it was either “extremely boring” steel beams or a Cherry Red Tesla Roadster for cargo. Musk went with the shiny red car which, in reference to the Falcon Heavy’s nearby pass to Mars, he added via Twitter, offers another sly wink of showmanship to his ambitions. “Red car for a red planet,” he tweeted in a Twitter announcement in December.

While no one can fault Musk for his blatant cross promotion campaign, it should be noted that the Tesla Roadster is also a showstopper all its own, making recent headlines about its boundary-pushing capabilities. According to the company’s website, the electric-powered Roadster is capable of 0 to 60 in a staggering 1.9 seconds, a top speed of 250 MPH, and a mile range of 620 miles (or, the distance between New York City and Detroit, MI). It’s no wonder that the demand for Roadsters (and other Tesla vehicles) remains high among car enthusiasts, first adopters, and tech savvy individuals.

For more info about the Tesla Roadster, visit the Tesla Motors website

To many futurists, Musk is a maverick pioneer for what it means to live in the 21st Century. While the image of his ambitions on social media (particularly Instagram) may be seem like generating an oversized amount of hype and an obvious publicity stunt, the implications are real. Considering SpaceX is a commercially-funded venture, it might not be unrealistic to be sending personal vehicles into space in the future.

Musk’s efforts haven’t gone unnoticed, with private individuals and government organizations taking note. SpaceX already has customers lining up to purchase similar rockets to the Falcon Heavy, including the United States Air Force. And privately-funded competition isn’t far behind; Blue Origin, the rocket company led by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, has also been developing a large reusable orbital-class rocket, named New Glenn in honor of the first American to orbit the world, John Glenn.

If history is any precedent, look for Musk to make headlines again in the near future with bolder and grander attempts at reaching for the stars… and beyond.

Call Recording Regulations for Forex Trading and International Banks

In recent days, compliance regulations and requirements for traders and banks have been expanding dramatically due to leveraged technology and the need for accountability and higher standards. Due to these new regulations, Global Call Forwarding has increased our long-term call recording storage up to 6 years to enable easy access and a trustworthy platform for banks and Forex traders. As a result, these changes ensure that traders, banks, and contact centers are in full compliance with every new regulatory requirement.

Naturally, governments around the world have stepped in to increase regulations to combat ever-widening capabilities of corruption by forcing companies to expand their recordkeeping capabilities via audio. Because traders and bankers are now required to record and archive voice communications, Global Call Forwarding understands the need to have these recordings easily available on demand in the event a dispute should arise. Due to the highly sensitive nature of such calls, we offer the safest security standards. Our platform makes it simple to access and download calls kept in storage with the simplest navigation.

Globally, call recording is becoming required across a multitude of industries for the purpose of record keeping. This is why long-term storage is such a necessary service. Consider the following examples:

  • As of January 1, 2018, the markets regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) has now required stockbrokers to compulsorily keep a record of orders placed by clients from January 1, 2018. This mandate includes phone recordings. This puts the burden of proof on the broker to produce documentation for trade disputes that may be unauthorized.
  • As of August 31, 2017, the FDIC has ruled that banks and other financial institutions must keep recordings (and other documentation) of “suspicious activity” for 5 years from the date of filing a suspicious activity report (SAR).
  • In Europe, under the General Data Protection Regulation, bankers and traders are required to keep recordings or face steep penalties as a consequence. For firms that don’t comply, they can be fined €10,000 per infraction. However, these fines can reach up to a staggering €20 million or 4% of a firm’s annual revenue.

recording office screens

Why Do You Need to Record Your Calls?

It’s obvious that brokers and bankers should take these new regulations seriously and record/ store their calls immediately. Here are a few reasons you should consider:

  • The Price of Noncompliance: As mentioned before, the price of noncompliance can be high. If traders or banks don’t record their calls, they could potentially be hit with significant fines or potentially lose their license. Even for companies that are willing to roll the dice when it comes to avoiding potential audits, the risk of being unable to conduct business is a significant deterrent against not integrating call recording services into your business.
  • Maintaining Your Public Image: In the Information Age, having records and proof is often an essential part of your business. Therefore, call recording needs to be at the forefront of your business strategy. Staying ahead of the curve, and in line with regulations can keep your business away from negative outcomes and any possible disasters that await unprepared banks and traders if they choose not to take the necessary precautions in long-term storage of their calls.
  • Peace of Mind: Even without such regulations, call recording services are an excellent way to ensure that your business is accountable internally. Consider a few of the advantages, including the ability to verify suspicious activity from customers and the ability to ensure your employees maintain accountability for adhering to your company’s standards of ethics.

Quality of Recording Services Matters

Not all call recording services are created equal. Consider the ramifications of having lesser-quality recording services that cannot be trusted when you need them most.

Hypothetically, what would happen if you discover that some of your recorded calls aren’t audible or are missing? By the time that you discover these anomalies, your records may be, in fact, missing thousands of calls. Sometimes, stored calls need to be accessed immediately, and if you can’t trust the storage system, you may run into some serious trouble. By most standards of legislation, not having the recording document is the same as not having made the effort to record them in the first place.

And even if there is an attempt to find the information, many auditors request recorded calls typically within 60 days. With this short time frame, your company may not be able to respond quickly enough to avoid violating the law.

How Global Call Forwarding Can Help

No one wants to lose their license or be fined over a simple mistake. To avoid these possibilities, it is so important that you have a quality service provider that can help you store your calls and provide instant access when you need it. However, we cannot stress enough that this service needs to be top-notch. This is precisely why so many businesses rely on Global Call Forwarding, especially when it comes to call recording for Forex trading and international banks.

Global Call Forwarding’s easy to use technology ensures that all calls required to be recorded for legislation and regulatory purposes are recorded with high-quality content, and are not inaudible. To help Forex traders and banks to comply with these new requirements, we have increased our long-term call recording storage capacity to ensure absolute peace of mind.

In addition to the increase in Global Call Forwarding’s long-term call recording storage capabilities, our platform provides customers the ability to store calls for up to 6 years and access each recorded call with an easy-to-navigate user interface. With only a few clicks, recorded calls can be easily accessed for listening or downloading through a highly secure online control panel. Multiple levels of redundancy ensures safe and secure storage of recorded calls. Best of all, our customers can combine call recording and long-term storage with the ability to reach international markets by utilizing local and/ or toll free numbers available in over 140 countries on our network

Bill Gates Invests $80 Million in Smart City in AZ

There is an ongoing debate in the fields of technology and economics about an $80 million investment made by a group associated with a Bill Gates company. This particular investment is reportedly contributing to the development of a high-tech community outside of Phoenix, Arizona. The news has caused much speculation about the possibilities of this project and some backlash. So what’s the story, and is it all just hype?

The Smart City Project

The AZ land parcel, which is owned by Belmont Partners, is comprised of 24,800 acres. The community will be known as Belmont. According to the plan, around 3,800 acres of the property will be allocated to commercial and retail space, while 470 acres will be devoted to public schools. Add to that 80,000 residences and the population should be up to around the 182,000 mark, which makes it comparable to Tempe, Arizona. Belmont will be located 45 miles west of Phoenix.

What Makes a City Smart?

If Belmont is going to be a city of the future, the investment partners seem determined to give it a head start. The development project is said to feature all the trappings of a high-tech smart city, such as self-driving cars, high-speed internet embedded throughout the environment, cutting-edge smart manufacturing technology, and autonomous logistics hubs.

It’s currently unclear to what extent Gates, and his company Cascade Investments, is set to become involved in this project, but Arizona, known as a technology-friendly state, is welcoming the idea. Several major companies in the autonomous vehicle industry – Uber, Intel, and Waymo – are already testing their technologies in the area.

This investment is just one of several recent examples of plans to build high-tech cities from the ground up. According to Belmont spokesperson Grady Gammage, developing this type of infrastructure from the drawing board is easier and more cost-effective than rebuilding and upgrading an existing infrastructure. However, the venture is not cheap, and the returns on the investment are projected to be very long-term.

To keep the concept in perspective, Belmont is currently a very large parcel of undeveloped land, almost the size of the French capital, Paris. Experts claim that the region’s low land prices could mean an affordable standard of living for Belmont’s future residents. A further advantage is that Belmont Partners are hoping to make the most of Arizona’s current low-regulation policy on autonomous vehicles.

The project, however, is not without its critics. Some of whom claim that the development is neither smart nor a true city. Other critics have raised their eyebrows at Arizona’s ongoing water crisis, pointing out that this project will only drain the state’s depleted resources even more. To keep within legal parameters, Belmont will have to prove that it has a 100-year assured water supply before it can begin to build. This may not be an easy feat, as it has yet to be disclosed how they can make this happen in regards to being truly sustainable.

The Future of Googleville

Similarly, Google plans to pilot its first smart city in an area on the Toronto waterfront. As Canada’s largest city, Toronto is an expanding metropolis, and it is also a high-tech hotbed right now. But Google’s main aim is to improve the city by expanding Toronto’s underdeveloped areas, such as the waterfront. Google’s high tech city promises a wide array of new technologies combined with environmental sustainability.

Think self-driving cars, high-speed internet with free Wi-Fi, along with smart and efficient technology incorporated into facets such as traffic lights and street lights that communicate with each other.

Perhaps Google is more equipped for such a project than any other company; after all, they did give us a search engine that has rapidly expanded to help people navigate, communicate, and work more efficiently. After a year of brainstorming their smart city concept, Google has proposed several innovative ideas about how to develop a new infrastructure “from the Internet up.” Toronto is currently seeking bids to regenerate the waterfront area, so there is a lot of hope for this project.

Smart Cities, Big Challenges

While the smart city building venture looks great in the virtual model and may work well in Arizona and Toronto, this type of project is not without its challenges. In particular, if it is to be implemented in other parts of the country and if it involves altering a city’s current infrastructure, the challenges will be major. For many large U.S. cities, such development could pose extremely difficult when taking into consideration the concerns of long-time residents, the limitations of existing infrastructure, and the displacement of high-density jobs. These issues, however, do not come into play when the area of land being built on is undeveloped or underdeveloped.

In spite of the challenges, the U.S. and Canada are not the only countries with an eye turned towards futuristic smart cities; Dubai and Tokyo are also working on their own versions. The Dubai Blockchain Strategy is set to explore and incorporate the latest technological innovations to make their city safer and smarter than ever before. A blockchain initiative is decentralized and allows digital information to be freely distributed, but not copied.

Tokyo also has a plan to smarten its urban development. The Japanese version of a smart city is somewhat different, though. It includes the implementation of alternative fuel sources such as wind, sun and nuclear, to harness the power in mass quantities and distribute it to businesses, homes and electric cars. Yokahoma, a city just south of Tokyo, is the site of a five-year pilot program to create a smart infrastructure that will hopefully become a model for other cities.

It will take several years to see what will become of Arizona’s Belmont, and perhaps before then; we will begin to see other versions of smart cities around the world that will generate even more innovations towards improving our own infrastructure. Nevertheless, one thing is becoming more evident: when it comes to technology, the future is getting smarter.