Every year, millions of computers are infected with viruses, and databases with sensitive consumer data are hacked. According to a report by the SANS Institute, a leading organization for computer security training, these security breaches are a result of poor programming.
Together with 30 top international cyber security experts, the SANS Institute has published The Top 25 Most Dangerous Programming Errors, identifying the most common and dangerous programming oversights. In fact, the impact of these errors is so widespread, just two of them--SQL injection (CWE-89) and cross-site scripting (CWE-79)--resulted in more than 1 million website security breaches. Those security breaches flow into the computers of website visitors, rendering their computers inoperable.
I want a baby.
But not in the traditional sense of "bundle of joy." Instead, I'd like a baby to do my job for me. After failing to find an assistant that I could pay $1 an hour, I gave up hope. I was lost. I did a lot of soul-searching. Needless to say, I was listening to a lot of Joy Division.
Anyway, last week, I was looking to contact HometownQuotes, a Tennessee-based insurance quoting company, but became distracted. While on the company's website, I noticed a few interesting pictures [such as the one on the left] and learned that the company was promoting a new program in their office called "Babies In The Workplace." I clicked on it to find out more and it led me to www.babiesatwork.org.
And that's when it hit me: I could get a baby to do my job for free.
His recent proposal to fund a national network of business incubators to the tune of $250 million is a good example. While the money might be put to better use being injected into already existing (and often successful) incubators, the point is that some experts believe he gets entrepreneurship, and that he gets what works when it comes to job creation.
If the state of the current economy leaves you uncertain about the future, don't despair. Instead, take a good look inward and remember how you came to be an entrepreneur. After all, it appears that even when unemployment is on the rise, sales are on the decline and the dollar is, well, just simply degenerating, the spirit of entrepreneurship still shines through.
A new survey commissioned by Elance and Microsoft Office Live Small Business and conducted by independent research firm Decision Analyst collected insight from 600 small-business owners across the nation. The survey, released today, determined that nearly 90 percent of respondents would still prefer to start their own business rather than work for someone else, despite the economic downturn.
It's no secret there's plenty of bad news about the economy and the state of business. The recession and its impact on business are making headlines every day. As with any economic slump, plenty of people have plenty of questions about what they can do to survive.
One organization is helping business owners in Southern California survive and even thrive. The Santa Ana District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration and its resource partners, Orange County SCORE Chapter 114, Orange County Small Business Development Center and the Orange County Women's Business Center, have joined forces to form "tiger teams" to help small businesses that need assistance during these tough economic times. Tiger teams consist of representatives from each organization, who are selected based on the needs of each business. The tiger team will meet with businesses on-site to analyze their operations and make recommendations to help them stabilize and improve their businesses.
On Monday, the Small Business Administration announced that it was extending the comment period on the Women's Procurement Program until March 13, 2009. The original comment period was Oct. 1, 2008, through Oct. 31, 2008. This is good news for those who might have missed the opportunity to submit their opinion regarding the SBA's September proposal, which increased the number of industries in which women-owned small businesses reportedly are underrepresented from four to 31.
While some look at that as an improvement, others feel that number is still grossly under the mark, considering that the government lists 140 industry codes in which companies could be eligible for set-aside contracts with little to no competition. Lawmakers have called for set-asides to include at least 70 industries eligible under federal contracting regulations.
On Sunday I waved goodbye to Vegas and flew back to the real world with another year of CES in the bag (laptop bag, that is). As is the case every year, I witnessed some amazing technologies, innovative companies both big and small, nifty gadgets and endless tools for the likes of entrepreneurs.
While you'll have to tune in to future issues of Entrepreneur for more in-depth looks at products for small-businesses or profiles of tech entrepreneurs, I thought I'd share some final thoughts and random tidbits...
Although my energy level was at the lowest of lows on Saturday, the fourth day of CES was the most exciting for me. And no, it wasn't because of the cutie I met at the Netgear booth or because I treated myself to an amazing Ben & Jerry's ice cream cone or because I saw Stevie Wonder at the Venetian's elevators. It was because I spent my day venturing the Central Hall, the flashiest of flashy, with all the giants in consumer electronics.
From LG and Sharp to Samsung and Panasonic, the floor looked like a competition for the biggest, flashiest booth. And of course, the companies with the most money topped the chart. In my rating, Samsung won by far, with its artsy hanging TV display, complete with choreographed images and music; a wall of plasmas as far as the eye could see; and a digital, touchscreen Coca-Cola machine on display, which had attracted a line of thirsty attendees. I would imagine heaven looking a lot like the Samsung booth--the bright white lighting and spongy, carpeted flooring probably contributed to that quite a bit.
While I can't say that this year's CES left a lasting impression on me, I did come away with a sense that the scaled-down show had some great opportunities for small businesses. I met some great entrepreneurs and saw some amazing products:
Able Planet--This young Colorado-based company is doing some really innovative things with sound technology. Not only have they been winning awards for the past few CES shows because of their noise-cancelling headphones, they've also been developing their Sound Fit technology, which fits in the ear canal and will do a lot for the hearing impaired.
Part of my Friday (day three of CES) was spent learning the differences between girls and boys. I know, it doesn't sound very revolutionary or even relevant, and I'm sure you think the differences are pretty obvious. But deeper than those--and pertinent to consumer electronics--are the differences in their buying habits.
This was the topic of discussion at the afternoon's "Thinking About Sex" panel, led by Fast Company senior writer Linda Tischler and Smart Design's Erica Eden and Agnete Enga. When it comes to men and women purchasing consumer electronics, it's not as black and white as simply considering differences in size and strength, for example. There are more subtle issues that need to be considered that can make or break a product.
I've seen two cool but unrelated tools for small-business owners in the past few days.
The first is MarketSplash by HP. This was formerly known as Logoworks until it was acquired by HP back in 2007. MarketSplash lets you create your own marketing and branding materials, using its templates or your own entrepreneurial imagination. This means you can build your own website, business cards, promotional materials--all using MarketSplash. Its design consultants will even work with you to help you come up with what you need. All via a la carte services and prices. Very convenient. Also an FYI to other booths: The only reason I noticed MarketSplash was because it was on a kiosk labeled "Small Business" in the HP booth. I wish other companies would have done this.
Here's another small business I met up with in Vegas that seems to be doing it right: Smartfish Technologies. Founded by Dr. Jack Atzmon, 41, it's a 3-person company based in Englewood, N.J. Their product? The PRO:Motion keyboard. It's a robotic, ergonomic keyboard that changes your hand placements every so often to avoid causing carpal tunnel syndrome.
What makes it robotic is its intelligence, which moves and splits the keyboard into different typing placements depending on your needs.
Atzmon, a chiropractor in a former life, decided to create a product that would help his clients who came in with wrist pain from using traditional keyboards. He launched Smartfish Technologies in July 2007 and told me about how he aggressively pursued angel investments to fund his company.
Job portal CareerCast.com wanted to know what the best and worst jobs are (though after today's job report every job looks pretty good). So the editors there compiled a set of criteria, fed 200 jobs into the formula and ranked them from top to bottom. Their findings may surprise you.
We all know what the economy is like these days and it seems like even CES isn't immune to the recession woes. Compared to last year, CES 2009 seems a bit ... subdued. The big booths aren't as flashy, the music not as loud and even the attendees seem to have more serious expressions on their faces.
Everyone I've talked to, attendees and exhibitors, acknowledges that this year's show isn't radiating the same glitz and glamor of years past. Large companies are still making their presence known but the floor isn't as packed. I've even noticed more empty booth spaces this year. A year ago, I remember walking up to a gigantic, life-size replica of Bumblebee from the Transformers movie and fighting through huge crowds to snap pictures of a R2-D2 that doubled as a digital projector. My impression from last year: wow. My impression so far this year: oh.
Without even spending much time on the CES floor (don't worry, that's what my days will consist of today and tomorrow), I've already seen a lot of rad stuff.
Yesterday, James Park and I met up with Kensington--quick shout out to Tanya and our friends at Kensington: You guys rock! If you're not familiar with the company--you should be--it makes all kinds of nifty computer peripherals and accessories, USB gadgets, and some cell phone and iPod accessories. James and I were like kids in a candy store yesterday when checking out all the products, both old and new.