Windows 8 and the art of UX compromise

Microsoft is cleverly promoting Windows 8 with the tagline “no compromises.” The idea is that you get both a desktop/laptop operating system (OS) and a tablet OS in one package and a “best of both worlds” experience on any device.

Taking your business solar? Here’s how to maximize your branding impact

With the increasing importance of climate change and renewables, every company thinks about the public relations and brand value of any investment they make in renewables. Whereas some companies are successful in maximizing PR and brand value, others are not. Here are four factors to address when designing your PR strategy for your solar investment:

Is solar right for your business?

It’s a question that puzzles many CEOs: Is going solar the right choice? Even though solar is the most mature renewable technology, tested in multiple residential and commercial installations, business leaders are still uncertain about making the move. As rebates and incentives start to dry up, the window of opportunity that make solar an attractive investment is closing. Here are a few questions that may help you decide whether to go solar or not:

5 outsourcing mistakes that will kill your startup

Several months ago I was on the phone with the CEO of an SEO agency in Utah who was looking for white label SEO link building services for her clients. She wanted to know how my agency was sourcing the work; when I told her that the manual labor was largely performed overseas in the Philippines, she scoffed. “How can you offshore jobs when the American economy is so awful right now? There’s no way I would ever consider doing that.”

Crowdfunding: the next generation — four changes that will shake up the model

Crowdfunding has come a long way in a short period of time. What started out as a social experiment several years ago has been validated as a viable means for thousands of people to tap into their inner-entrepreneur. Recent data suggests that crowdfunding – defined here as a contribution toward a project in exchange for non-economic benefits — has enabled more than $1.5 billion to change hands and tens of thousands of projects to get funded, ranging from “passion projects” to real companies.

Kickstarter failures revealed! (infographic)

I recently came across Dan Misener’s article “Kickstarter hides failure,” where he talked about how crowdfunding site Kickstarter makes it difficult for you to see/find failed projects. They intentionally prevent failed campaigns from being indexed by the search engines (through “noindex” robot meta tags).

How to hire and get hired by video

Video might have “killed the radio star” with the birth of MTV in 1981, but now video is an expanding part of our everyday lives. Online video especially has grown and developed since the birth of YouTube in 2005, making sharing videos easier than ever. Online video might conjure moving images of cats jumping into boxes or toddlers saying precocious things, but it’s much more than that. Used well, online video can be a great tool in the employment process.

Debt vs. equity: Which is right for your startup?

It takes money to make money. Deciding where to find the first funds to get a startup off the ground is one of the most important decisions an entrepreneur has to make. We asked 12 startup founders what  advice they would give an early-stage entrepreneur who’s considering debt vs. equity. (Share your own thoughts in the comments.)

How cloud computing is revolutionizing tablet apps

While tablets are an ideal platform for a variety of functions, the small form factor severely limits the amount of on-board storage and processing power that can be packed in. However, that deficit is precisely what makes tablets, and the apps on them, the perfect launching pad for the cloud.

The limitations of social discovery

“Discovery” is a hot topic these days. The curse of a new buzzword is that it’s difficult to come to a shared mental model in the early stages. Instead of tackling that large problem, I’ll start with something simpler: defining “social discovery” and suggest that social discovery is a stepping stone on the way to algorithmic discovery.

BYOD: The downside is beginning to show

The bring-your-own-device trend has taken off, based largely on the popularity of iOS and Android smartphones and tablets. If there was ever a clear example of the consumerization of business technology, this is it, as witnessed by the sheer news coverage of the trend.

Friend discovery: the next big trend in social

Facebook has become the undisputed king of social networking, serving almost 1 billion active users and valued at over $100 billion. Even with this incredible rise, Mark Zuckerberg and many others believe we’re still at the beginning of the social revolution online.

Why we don’t need the government to protect us from online tracking

The Do Not Track legislation introduced by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) has picked up considerable steam since its debut in Congress last February and has inspired a furor of similar bills ready to clog (or already clogging) Congress. Speier and privacy groups supporting the bill say that tracking consumers’ online behavior is an invasion of privacy. Speier’s proposal would give the FTC power to create a Do Not Track database so consumers could opt out of online tracking.

How ready are you for big data?

Big data has been the subject of a lot of hype lately. But that doesn’t mean it’s a fad; this movement is certainly here to stay. It is essentially the business of how we deal with the volume, variety, and velocity of data that is continuously accumulating around us. The idea is that we can learn quite a bit more about ourselves (both as consumers and enterprises) by sifting through all of the data that surrounds us. We’re now entering the formative years of Big Data being the fifth technology wave (mainframes, PCs, Internet, and social media being the previous four). And just as with every wave before it, your business is going to have to figure out the fundamental opportunities and challenges before you can make Big Data work for you:

Why flash in the cloud will shake up enterprise storage

The big news in storage lately is that EMC is acquiring XtremIO. XtremIO is crafting a next-generation storage array, purpose built for 100% solid-state flash memory. EMC is the market leader in the $30 billion global market for disk-based storage. In acquiring a nascent, unabashedly competitive product to its existing mainstay disk-based storage product line, EMC is foreshadowing the impending flash revolution in data center storage. Flash memory has already transformed consumer devices like smartphones, tablets, and ultra-notebooks (think MacBook Air). These devices use a solid state drive, also know as SSD or flash drive, rather than traditional mechanical disk. Presumably, if you have a flash-based device, you don’t miss those quaint whirring and chirping noises that a PC’s hard drive makes, and flash also delivers radically better performance and battery life. What you may not know is that a similar shift is already underway in the data center: Google’s instant search and Facebook’s performance intensive applications are powered by flash rather than hard drives.

Does console have a future?

While recent headlines such as “Game sales crash!” and “Games retail collapses!” don’t paint a rosy picture, I believe the report of the death of console games is an exaggeration. Yet an uncertain future faces those console games companies that choose not to evolve rapidly.

Be a better boss: 12 tips to help you encourage innovation

Many entrepreneurs dream of starting their own company so they can be their own boss, call the shots, get the corner office nicest table in the co-working space. Turns out, being in charge is a lot harder than just ordering people around and having someone fetch your lattes. To make a startup successful, you have to encourage an atmosphere of constant innovation.

What’s next for mobile now that adaptive design has failed?

[Update: This article was written for business readers. Due to an outcry from the responsive design community after this was published, I added the word "web" to the term "adaptive design" to avoid confusion with progressive enhancement, and updated the text to read that Facebook uses "a precursor to" responsive design, even though very techie trades like RWW say that Facebook uses responsive design. Obviously, the outcry has more to do with the content than the terminology, but it's always good to be pedantic. Read on!]

Silicon Valley needs humanities students

Quit your technology job. Get a Ph.D in the humanities. That’s the way to get ahead in the technology sector. That, at least, is what philosopher Damon Horowitz told a crowd of attendees at the BiblioTech Conference at Stanford University in 2011.

Hey, doomsayers, Facebook will do much better than you think

With Facebook’s highly anticipated IPO just a couple of days away, the press has been covering all kinds of depressing opinions from skeptics, naysayers, and suit-wearing Wall Street executives. Yes, it’s important to play devil’s advocate and look at the Facebook IPO from all sides, but don’t let the tidal wave of doom-saying drown out the obvious: Facebook has a lot of trump cards left to play.

Venture capital as we know it is history

New York venture capitalist Fred Wilson recently pointed out that the VC industry is at risk of being marginalized by the emerging crowdfunding industry. I agree that the provision of capital for entrepreneurs is about to change in a big way, but my sense is that the change is not going to hurt VCs.

11 productivity tips from successful entrepreneurs

When everything’s a priority, how do you maximize your productivity and continue getting things done? We asked eleven entrepreneurs about their strategies for staying on top of mounting piles of work, focusing on what’s important, and otherwise holding on to their sanity while building a company.

7 ways BYOD will boost your business

If you haven’t already heard of the bring-your-own-device trend, then get ready, because you’re going to be hearing more and more about it over the coming year. What’s more, this trend isn’t just a matter of employees wanting to use their own tablets and smartphones at work; they want to bring the social apps they’re familiar with into the enterprise too.

The gangsters of Silicon Valley

President Obama has been touting patents as a way to create jobs and increase U.S. competitiveness. “These are jobs and businesses of the future just waiting to be created,” he said of patent applications last September, “somewhere in that stack of applications could be the next technological breakthrough, the next miracle drug, the next idea that will launch the next Fortune 500 company.”