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What Is Cloud Computing?

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Cloud computing is the delivery of computing services—including servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, and intelligence—over the Internet (“the cloud”) to offer faster innovation, flexible resources, and economies of scale.

How Does Cloud Computing Work?

Rather than owning their own computing infrastructure or data centers, companies can rent access to anything from applications to storage from a cloud service provider.

One benefit of using cloud-computing services is that firms can avoid the upfront cost and complexity of owning and maintaining their own IT infrastructure, and instead simply pay for what they use when they use it.

In turn, providers of cloud-computing services can benefit from significant economies of scale by delivering the same services to a wide range of customers.

What cloud-computing services are available?

Cloud-computing services cover a vast range of options now, from the basics of storage, networking, and processing power, to natural language processing and artificial intelligence as well as standard office applications. Pretty much any service that doesn’t require you to be physically close to the computer hardware that you are using can now be delivered via the cloud – even quantum computing.

What are the examples of Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing underpins a vast number of services. That includes consumer services like Gmail or the cloud backup of the photos on your smartphone, though to the services that allow large enterprises to host all their data and run all of their applications in the cloud. For example, Netflix relies on cloud-computing services to run its video-streaming service and its other business systems, too.

Cloud computing is becoming the default option for many apps: software vendors are increasingly offering their applications as services over the internet rather than standalone products as they try to switch to a subscription model. However, there are potential downsides to cloud computing, in that it can also introduce new costs and new risks for companies using it.

What is it called cloud computing?

A fundamental concept behind cloud computing is that the location of the service, and many of the details such as the hardware or operating system on which it is running, are largely irrelevant to the user. It’s with this in mind that the metaphor of the cloud was borrowed from old telecoms network schematics, in which the public telephone network (and later the internet) was often represented as a cloud to denote that the location didn’t matter – it was just a cloud of stuff. This is an over-simplification of course; for many customers, the location of their services and data remains a key issue.

History of Cloud computing

Cloud computing as a term has been around since the early 2000s, but the concept of computing as a service has been around for much, much longer – as far back as the 1960s, when computer bureaus would allow companies to rent time on a mainframe, rather than have to buy one themselves.

These ‘time-sharing’ services were largely overtaken by the rise of the PC, which made owning a computer much more affordable and then in turn by the rise of corporate data centers where companies would store vast amounts of data.

But the concept of renting access to computing power has resurfaced again and again – in the application service providers, utility computing, and grid computing of the late 1990s and early 2000s. This was followed by cloud computing, which really took hold with the emergence of software as a service and hyper-scale cloud-computing providers such as Amazon Web Services.

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Design

A Beginner’s Guide To 3D Printing

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In a shell, 3D printing works by blending layers of material to build an object. In this process, the 3D printer works under the direction of a computer 3D modeling software that regulates the process with high precision and exactness.

3D printing manufacturing includes several types of manufacturing technologies, all of these work in the same way by creating models layer by layer essentially. Each one of these types of 3D printing manufacturing processes may utilize a different type of material, finish, and cost.

3D printing is an additive manufacturing process that uses thin layers of filament (in most cases, plastic) to create a physical object from a three-dimensional model. A digital file creates the model which eventually transfers to the printer. The 3D printer creates thin layers, one on top of another, until a 3D-printed object is formed. 3D printing also allows the production of models of more complex shapes with less material than traditional manufacturing techniques.

Research shows that 3D printing was first introduced in the ’70s. It was not until 1980 that early additive manufacturing equipment and materials were developed. Hideo Kodama initiated a patent for this technology but, unfortunately, never commercialized it. In the ’90s 3D printing began to attract attention from technologies around the world. These years also saw the invention of fully functional human organs for transplants in young patients using 3D printed methods covered with particles and cells from their very own bodies. It was a major success for the medical industry.

Despite these advancements, 3D printing had limited functional productions until the 2000s, when additive manufacturing gained popularity. Additive Manufacturing is the process of adding materials together to produce an item. The procedure of additive manufacturing is in stark contrast to the concept of subtractive manufacturing. Subtractive manufacturing is the process of removing material by carving out a surface to create an object. This process also produces a great deal of material waste. In this regard, the term 3D printing still refers more to technologies that use polymer materials and, additive manufacturing refers more to metalworking. But by the early 2010s, the terms of these two processes were used in popular language across the market, media, companies, and manufacturers.

Around 2008 the first self-replicating 3d printer model was created. That means a 3D printer was able to recreate itself by printing its parts and components. This enabled users to produce more printers for others. Studies show that later the same year, a person successfully walked with a 3D-printed prosthetic leg fully printed in one piece. Then in the 2010’s the additive processes matured, and 3D printing work began to create objects layer by layer. In 2012, with the addition of plastic and other various materials for 3D printing, several authors began to think that 3D printing could be important for the developing world.

During the following years, more applications for 3D printing have emerged, including the world’s first aircraft. Makers using 3D printers agree that this method is faster and cheaper compared to traditional methods and are ideal for those who need rapid prototyping (RP). Terms such as desktop manufacturing, rapid manufacturing, and rapid prototyping have since become synonymous with 3D printing.

The market offers a wide variety of 3D printers. Sophisticated machines are expensive, but there are also more affordable models available with high-quality printing and features. 3D printing also offers easy-to-use desktop printers, which are increasingly popular among schools and engineers.

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Business

Four Ways AI Can Improve Your Next Meeting

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It may not be noticeable to most, but AI is now rooted in many aspects of our lives. From voice assistants to the cars we drive, to social media and shopping – AI is integrated into a multitude of everyday processes.

It should be of little surprise that AI is also becoming heavily embedded in our businesses. And while some people feel uncomfortable about this intersection of human and machine, it truly offers an abundance of transformative opportunities.

Here are four reasons why AI will continue to be important today and in the future:

  1. Automated note-taking allows brainstorms to go full speed

The days of being the meeting scribe and not absorbing what’s been said around you are over. Automated note-taking and accurate meeting transcripts are one of the simplest ways AI can help free up meeting attendees to focus on the discussion taking place.

Using this software means that transcripts can be searched for important keywords and ideas, allowing participants to fully absorb details after the meeting has concluded. Giving everyone at the meeting the ability to participate without the burden of constant note-taking fosters a lively and uninhibited discussion, encouraging a seamless flow of ideas.

  1. AI-powered action items, agenda updates, and deadline management

AI technology is founded on rules-based responses to decisions, meaning it can be taught to recognize keywords. Organizers can plug in important words such as “follow up” or “action item” and the AI can recognize them and react for easier sharing and review after a meeting.

In addition, AI can help to record deadlines and, if programmed to do so, could send out reminders as deadlines approach. With something like Natural Language Processing (NLP) embedded, AI can also know which parts of the meeting are most important, based on vocal tones, and can automatically record and share those parts with attendees, ensuring that none of the actions are forgotten.

  1. Automated capture of nonverbal cues

We all know those golden moments during a meeting where ideas are born and everyone reacts in a positive way – but they can be hard to identify, particularly if you’re engaging with remote workers on the phone or via video conference.

Wouldn’t it be great if AI was able to more easily recognize and record those moments, because they are generally identified by nonverbal cues such as facial expressions, nods, laughter, or peaks in the audio when everyone has that aha moment? A human note-taker may not be able to accurately capture this, but AI may be able to.

  1. Improved overall efficiency prevents meetings from dragging on

Everyone has experienced a meeting that seems to drag on endlessly, or watched co-workers talk in circles. This can happen when people are not paying attention because they’re scribbling on notepads and typing on laptops, bringing up topics that were already discussed. This is what turns meetings into chores instead of the energizing moments of team collaboration they are meant to be.

When AI removes the more mundane aspects of a meeting like scheduling or taking attendance, attendees can move through administrative tasks and housekeeping items rapidly, knowing the AI will have it all recorded for later reference, and move into free-flowing exchanges of ideas.

And for those routine meetings that occur frequently and don’t always entail a major brainstorming, AI also facilitates effective and concise meetings, so everyone can get into the meeting quickly, be productive with the time set out, and then get back into more inspiring work.

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Business

Five Best Apps For Micro-Investing

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Micro-investing is a way for people to get started with investing with a lower threshold. It lets you invest with a small balance, often as little as $1. 

A few dollars here and there can add up. Even if you can’t make $500 mutual fund purchases monthly, you can build an investment portfolio from smaller deposits over time. Eventually, you could be in a position to invest using a more sophisticated platform than the micro-investing app you begin with. Here are the best apps for micro-investing.

  1. Stash

Stash packs the most features into the leanest package, delivering the best overall value for micro-investors. It offers three reasonably priced subscription plans:

  • Beginner. For $1/month, Beginner comes with a commission-free taxable brokerage account where you can purchase whole or fractional shares of individual stocks in increments of $1 or more. It also includes an FDIC-insured debit account with a debit card that earns stock rewards (Stock-Back) and two great automation features: Round-up (rounds up and invests the change on debit card purchases) and Smart-Stash (makes small automated investments whenever Stash thinks you can afford them).
  • Growth. For $3/month, Growth adds a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA, and a managed investing option for your taxable and retirement accounts.
  • Stash+. For $9/month, Stash+ adds up to two UTMA/UGMA custodial investing accounts, a metal debit card with 2x Stock-Back rewards, and $10,000 in no-cost life insurance coverage through Avibra.
  1. Acorns

Acorns is the best choice for micro-investors whose top priority is set-it-and-forget-it investing automation. It offers two powerful automation features:

  • Round-ups, which rounds up and invest the change on every purchase with your connected debit card
  • Found Money, which rewards you for shopping with partner companies (up to 10% back) and invests the reward.

Additional features:

  • Round-up Multipliers, which multiply the value of each round-up by up to 10x.
  • Custodial accounts.
  • Retirement accounts.
  • Fractional share investing starts at $0.01 per purchase.
  • Mobile check deposit and digital wallet integration.
  1. Robinhood

Robinhood is the best micro-investing app for more experienced investors who prefer an active, self-directed approach. Its user-friendly interface enables seamless buying and selling of stocks, ETFs, and cryptocurrencies — with no commissions, ever.

Additional features:

  • Invest in fractional shares with increments as low as $1.
  • Access to additional market data with a Robinhood Gold subscription ($5/month).
  • Margin trading with Robinhood Gold and a $2,000 minimum account balance.
  • Ability to buy and sell options contracts.
  1. Public

The public does its best to demystify investing for beginners with low minimums, prohibitions on day trading, and clear, plain-English definitions of common investing terms wherever they appear. That’s enough to make Public the best micro-investing app for beginners.

Additional features:

  • Invest with just $5
  • Fractional share investing is available.
  • Build multi-company portfolios with one click using Public’s thematic investing feature
  • Drag and drop to separate short-term and long-term investments for tax optimization
  • Follow other Public users and companies to get investing ideas
  1. Greenlight

Greenlight is a financial education tool built around a kid-friendly debit card with full parental controls. Upgrade to Greenlight + Invest for $7.98/month ($3/month more than the base plan) to get access to a custodial micro-investing account too. It’s the perfect first brokerage account for tomorrow’s market-savvy investor.

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