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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 2nd Aug 2017

"Real people" don't need fully private and encrypted communications, argues home secretary

Home secretary Amber Rudd goes to Silicon Valley to campaign for an end to end-to-end encryption with Facebook and Google, arguing that "real people" don't need fully private and encrypted communications

Amber Rudd MP - official portrait

Home secretary Amber Rudd has taken her campaign for technology giants to provide 'back doors' into their communications services with claims that "real people" don't need end-to-end encryption.

Secure communications, she added, only benefits terrorists.

Rudd is on a summer tour of Silicon Valley to complain to US technology and internet giants that they're not doing enough to help fight terrorism. She is, according to the BBC, meeting with representatives from Google, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft "and others".

While supporting encryption, on the one hand, she also called for the companies offering encryption technologies to enable governments access to encrypted messages for security services and police.

"We support its place in making sure that we have secure facilities in our daily lives," said Rudd.

She continued: "However, there is a problem in terms of the growth of end-to-end encryption. It's a problem for the security services and for police who are not, under the normal way, under properly-warranted paths, able to access that information.

"We want [technology companies] to work more closely with us on end-to-end encryption, so that where there is particular need, where there is targeted need, under warrant, they share more information with us so that we can access it."

Jim Killock, executive director of UK digital rights campaign Open Rights Group, pointed out that it's not for the home secretary to decide who does (presumably MPs) and doesn't (everyone else) deserve privacy.

"The suggestion that real people do not care about the security of their communications is dangerous and misleading. Some people want privacy from corporations, abusive partners or employers," said Killock.

He added: "Others may be worried about confidential information, or be working in countries with a record of human rights abuses. It is not the home secretary's place to tell the public that they do not need end-to-end encryption."

Killock also warned that Rudd's lack of clarity over exactly what she wants from internet companies risked causing confusion.

"At the moment she sounds like she is asking for the impossible. She must give the public a good idea of the risks she wants to place them under. If WhatsApp turn off or compromise encryption, you can expect criminals to use something else. The people who will suffer are law-abiding citizens who want privacy and security," said Killock.

Rudd is not the first politician to seek to bring an end to secure end-to-end encryption. Russia recently announced a clampdown on virtual private networks (VPNs) and Tor, used to evade government censorship and monitoring.

China, meanwhile, has done likewise, securing the cooperation of technology giants like Apple, which has removed unlicensed VPN apps from its app store in China.

Source: v3.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 1st Aug 2017

rosanna pansinoYouTube star Rosanna PansinoTumblr

 

Amazon is planning a home makeover show featuring YouTube stars

  • The show, 'Overhaul,' will feature furniture and other products people can buy on Amazon.com
  • If the model proves successful, it could trigger a trend of shows blending entertainment and commerce

Amazon is planning a home makeover show that will be designed to help the retailer sell products.

The e-commerce behemoth has partnered with Kin Community, a web video production/ad company, to produce "Overhaul," a six-episode show that will feature several YouTube stars having their home's made over.

"Overhaul" is being hosted and co-produced by Christiane Lemieux, founder of DwellStudio.

While the show is designed to be entertainment, it will also be loaded with products people can buy on Amazon, including furniture sold by Lemieux's companies. It will live on a special hub on Amazon.com where people can easily click to purchase items in the show, as well as more affordable alternatives.

"The goal with this show is to both inspire and entertain," said Kin Community CEO Michael Wayne. "It's unique in that it combines the power of Kin's creator community, the award-winning quality of our production studio and commerce."

"Overhaul" is scheduled to premiere in September. The first two episodes feature YouTube baking star Rosanna Pansino and beauty blogger Teni Panosian. In addition to the six episodes, each of the featured digital creators will produce videos showing their home after being made over, which will be distributed on their YouTube channels and other social platforms. These videos will also drive people to Amazon to shop for featured products. 

Amazon, of course, has made a big splash in recent years producing and distributing prestige TV shows like "Transparent" and "The Man in the High Castle." But those series ostensibly exist to sell Amazon Prime subscriptions.

While Amazon has featured commerce-related video content on its site for a while from companies like the female focused Stylehaul, this is the first time it's produced a show explicitly designed to facilitate shopping.

overhaulAmazon's new show Overhaul will feature YouTube stars getting home makeoversAmazon

 

Kristiana Helmick, director of home innovation at Amazon, said the idea for the series was born out of Amazon's ongoing retail partnership with Lemieux.

 

"Amazon Home is constantly looking to innovate and find ways to bring our customers inspiration when searching for products," said Helmick. "The 'Overhaul' series is a great opportunity to provide our customers with some curation and guidance when searching through our large selection of products and we continue to look for new and different ways to do that. ... This is the first time Amazon has had a co-branded storefront tied to a video series."

If successful, "Overhaul" could spark an potent trend, one that Amazon would be uniquely positioned to exploit. For years, people in the media world have talked about a future where you can watch your favorite show and buy a character's outfit (the talk has been around for so long, the example many have used was "you'll soon be able to buy Ross's shirt on "Friends.")

 

Kin Community was originally built as a web video company focused on women. In recent years, it's evolved into a boutique multi-channel network, working with YouTube talents like Pansino and Hannah Hart to produce and distribute original shows, and also help them connect with marketers. Last year, Kin raised $13.5 million in new funding.

Source: uk.businessinsider.com
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 26th Jul 2017

 

Mark ZuckerbergFacebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook/Mark Zuckerberg

Billionaires Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk are fighting publicly about the future of artificial intelligence (AI).

On Sunday afternoon, while smoking some meats in his back garden, Facebook CEO Zuckerberg questioned why Musk, CEO of Tesla, SpaceX, and OpenAI is being so negative about AI.

Musk responded with a tweet on Tuesday saying Zuckerberg's "understanding of the subject is limited".

Musk is concerned that super smart machines AI-powered could one day pose a threat to humanity and in 2014 he warned that AI could be even more dangerous than nuclear weapons.

 

25 Jul

Darren Cunningham @dcunni

Zuckerberg blasts @elonmusk warnings against artificial intelligence as 'pretty irresponsible' https://www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/news/2017/07/24/elon-musk-artificial-intelligence-risk-zuckerberg.html … @svbizjournal 

 Follow

Elon Musk ✔@elonmusk

I've talked to Mark about this. His understanding of the subject is limited.

8:07 AM - 25 Jul 2017

Twitter Ads info and privacy

 

During a Facebook Live broadcast, Zuckerberg was asked about his thoughts on AI by a Facebook user who mentioned that they'd recently watched an interview with Musk where he said his largest fear for the future was AI.

"I have pretty strong opinions on this," said Zuckerberg. "I'm really optimistic. I'm an optimistic person in general. I think you can build things and the world gets better. With AI especially, I'm really optimistic and I think that people who are naysayers and try to drum up these doomsday scenarios … I don't understand it. It's really negative and in some ways I actually think it's pretty irresponsible."

Zuckerberg went on to say that he believes AI will save lives when it is built into cars because it will make them safer than the human-driven ones we use today. He also highlighted how AI is already being used to help diagnose medical conditions and match people with the right drugs.

"Whenever I hear people saying AI is going to hurt people in the future I think: 'Yeah technology can generally always be used for good and bad and you need to be careful about how you build it and you need to be careful about what you build and how it’s going to be used.

"But people who are arguing for slowing down the process of building AI, I just find that really questionable. I have a hard time wrapping my head around that. If you're arguing against AI then you're arguing against safer cars that aren't going to have accidents and you’re arguing against being able to better diagnose people when they're sick."

On Tuesday, Musk hit back at Zuckerberg's comments saying: "I've talked to Mark about this. His understanding of the subject is limited." Musk also teased that there's a "movie on the subject coming soon." 

The general consensus among AI leaders is that it'll be several decades before computers come close to achieving human levels of intelligence and some question whether they'll get there at all. However, if and when computers do become as smart as us, many experts in the field believe they will quickly go on to become "superintelligent."

Source: uk.businessinsider.com
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 26th Jul 2017

 We have all heard the horror stories of simple mistakes that lead to costly business disasters. It seems like every day on the news we hear about the next recall or outage that leads to the need for public relations to clean up the mess. More often than not, the damage is too great to overcome and the company that suffered the IT disaster can't recover. Having an IT disaster recovery plan is a critical business need.

Planning for the unknown can be difficult, but having enough funds to implement an IT disaster recovery plan can seem close to impossible. But how unlikely is it that an IT disaster will happen to your company? With the combination of natural disasters, hardware failures and human error, the reality is that data loss is only a matter of when, not if. 

According to a NFIB National Small Business poll, man-made disasters affect 10 percent of all small businesses, and a staggering 30 percent have been impacted by natural disasters. A simple power outage could put your whole business at risk. In fact, research by the University of Texas has shown that only 6 percent of companies suffering from a catastrophic data loss survive, 43 percent never reopen and 51 percent close within two years.

Here are the top 5 reasons why your company should rethink its IT disaster recovery and prevention plans.

5. Machines and hardware fail. While modern IT hardware is fairly resistant to failures, most devices fall far short of a perfect track record. No one is immune to hard disk or internet connection failures. While it can be costly for your company to eliminate any single point of failure in your IT infrastructure, having a disaster recovery plan that does this is the only way to insure that a hardware failure doesn’t interrupt your service or cause data loss. The less expensive and more sensible option would be to have your data backed upregularly. Ideally, and more cost-effective than building your own top-of-the-line data center, would be to outsource your IT infrastructure to a leading Disaster Recovery as a Service managed data center operator. This eliminates any capital expenses while ensuring the strictest protection from service interruptions due to IT infrastructure failures. 

4. Much like machines, humans are not perfect. They make mistakes. Have you ever accidentally saved over a word document or had your computer crash before you could save an important file? It happens to the best of us. Even the most cautious can forget a step in an important process causing data loss or the wrong data to being entered. While very common, these mistakes can often be the hardest to prevent and correct. Having a disaster recovery plan that creates a series of incremental online data backups lets you easily restore your files to an error-free state. Having redundant firewalls, anti-virus, and anti-spyware software can ensure that security breaches are protected against if one were accidentally disabled or a port left open. Often times the most important way to prevent human error is in process improvements and quality assurance activities. A disaster recovery plan that incorporates checking and double checking is often the best remedy, along withonline backups is best.

3. Customers expect perfection. The Internet and the Web 2.0 revolution have not only forced companies to be more transparent and accountable but competition in all in industries has greatly increased. With increased competition come lower prices, better service, and less forgiving customers. Most customers demand perfection because they know that if your company can’t provide it, the next competitor in line is ready to give it their best shot to win the business. It’s imperative not to give your customers a reason to leave because of something preventable like an outage in service. 

2. Customer retention is costly, but customer re-acquisition is devastatingly expensive. While on average it is much cheaper to retain a customer then to acquire a new customer, re-acquiring an old customer after an IT disaster can be next to impossible. It takes a lot to earn customers’ trust, but after an IT disaster like loss of data or an extended outage in service, trust quickly evaporates. This is especially true when your customers are losing up to thousands of dollars per minute of downtime, which is not uncommon in some industries. Most IT disasters are deemed absolutely unacceptable to end users. Get a disaster recovery plan--it is far less expensive to prevent a disaster than try to re-acquire lost customers after one has occurred.

1. You’re only as strong as your weakest link. The age-old saying is as true today as it was when first uttered. You can have one of the most well crafted ships ever made, but if your crew can’t see the iceberg just beyond your line of sight, then it doesn’t matter upon impact. No business is immune to IT disasters, but there are many things you can do to prevent them or quickly recover. There is no excuse not to have an IT disaster recovery plan in place - today. An ideal disaster recovery plan would place your production servers in a top tier data center with no single point of failure on the power and network connections. Your disaster recovery backup servers would be at another data center at least 45 miles away in case of a severe natural disaster. This would ensure that you’re virtually protected from any downtime, and you have put your business in position to survive the most brutal IT disasters.

Conclusion: Save money, save your customers, save your business. Develop a solid IT disaster recovery plan.No business is invulnerable to IT disasters, but speedy recovery due to a well-crafted IT disaster recovery plan is expected by today’s ever-demanding customers. Too many businesses fail because they were ill prepared for an IT disaster, even when a simple solution like online backup could have easily saved them. If you haven't thought about developing an IT disaster recovery plan yet, it should be at the top of your priority list. Your business and customers demand it.

Source: onlinetech.com
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 26th Jul 2017

'Smart' products spying on their owners and selling the data for profit? Who'd have thought it!

Roomba 'Smart' vacuum cleaner company iRobot plans to sell maps of users' homes to Apple, Amazon and Google

The iRobot 'smart' vacuum cleaner maps people's homes - now Roomba wants to sell the data to Amazon

iRobot, the company behind the mysteriously popular Roomba automated vacuum cleaner is planning to upload mapping data from users and sell it on to Apple, Amazon, Google and other companies. 

The latest Roomba models have a mapping feature. This makes it easier for the thing to make its way around the home vacuuming as it goes, without continually trying to go where it can't or shouldn't.

There's an entire ecosystem of things and services that the smart home can deliver once you have a rich map of the home - Colin Angle, CEO, iRobot

But that information might also be handy for a number of tech giants, which is why iRobot CEO Colin Angle told Reuters that the firm would be up for selling the information.

"There's an entire ecosystem of things and services that the smart home can deliver once you have a rich map of the home that the user has allowed to be shared," he said.

Angle has three firms in mind, Apple, Amazon and Alphabet. Roomba has already opened discussions with Amazon, and he expects to have something official done with at least one of the trio of tech giants by 2020.

It's a fair assumption that the three companies would be interested in acquiring that data because we know that they want to have as much data on humans as they possibly can. Customers of iRobot and other smart devices, though, may not be so positive. Indeed, on Twitter the response is almost entirely negative.

25 Jul

Robotics Newz @Robotics_Newz

Roomba maker iRobot wants to sell your home map data to Apple, Google | ZDNet http://bit.ly/2eJ8UmL pic.twitter.com/2rpmcnsV5e

 Follow

Kitara Feline @Catselan

I was thinking of upgrading my iRoomba- but not any longer.

1:55 AM - 25 Jul 2017

Twitter Ads info and privacy

People have threatened to dump their Roomba and buy an alternative (as if Samsung has entirely clean hands on the issue of customer privacy) and have voiced their concerns about tech companies' increasing intrusiveness.

Privacy was the first thing that came to our mind, so we can't imagine how Angle let those words fall out of his mouth without considering the response.

 Follow

Renai LeMay ✔@renailemay

hey @iRobot, if you start selling my home data to other companies, I will sell my Roomba vacuum cleaner and buy another brand.

2:12 AM - 25 Jul 2017

Twitter Ads info and privacy

Still, while he was at it he also waxed about patents, how many patents his company has and how that gives it something of an advantage over the competition. "[Patents are a] huge part of our competitive moat," he said. "It is getting really hard not to step on our intellectual property."

Woah. Someone put a lid on him. 

Source: v3.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 25th Jul 2017

 

Magikarp hatA Pokémon Go Fest attendee sports a homemade outfit based on the Pokémon named Magikarp. Alex Heath / Business Insider

CHICAGO — “Fix the game!” “Fix the game!”

Boos and jeers erupted from thousands of Pokémon Go playersin Chicago’s Grant Park on Saturday after the game stopped working for many who had paid and traveled far to be there.

Server outages and bugs plagued Niantic’s Pokémon Go at the height of its popularity last summer, and a similar situation occurred early into the game’s first-ever, all-day ticketed event.

Because of the server outages, which began early in the day and were never completed fixed, all roughly 20,000 attendees were given full refunds for their $20 tickets and $100 worth of in-game coins, which can be used to purchase special items.

A Niantic spokesperson told Business Insider during the event that the game studio was working with carriers like AT&T and Verizon to direct more coverage to the park. Not all players were affected by the outage and some carriers, such as T-Mobile, worked better with the game throughout the day.

At roughly 11 a.m. local time and the height of the server outage, Niantic CEO John Hanke addressed players from a stage in the park. He was loudly booed and heckled the moment he stepped on stage.

“I paid $3,000 for this game!” one person in the crowd loudly shouted at Hanke. Pokémon Go offers in-app purchases and is estimated to be the fastest mobile game to reach $1 billion in revenue.

Pokemon Go Fest ChicagoRoughly 20,000 people paid to go to Pokémon Go's first-ever event in Chicago. Alex Heath / Business Insider

Tickets to Chicago’s Pokémon Go Fest event sold out in under 10 minutes for $20 each, and many tickets were later resold online for hundreds of dollars. Hanke said that players from Australia, Europe, and other continents had traveled to Chicago for the event.

Besides the ability to catch rare Pokémon that are typically only available in certain parts of the world, Niantic promised attendees that they would have the chance to catch the first ultra-powerful, so-called Legendary Pokémon at the end of the event.

In reality, there was only one regional Pokémon to be found in the hit augmented reality game, Heracross. At the end of the day, Niantic told attendees that they would all be automatically awarded one Legendary Pokémon named Lugia. Most ticket holders left the park before the event was scheduled to end at 7 p.m.

NOW WATCH: Pokémon Go's first real-world event was a complete disaster — here's what happened

 

 

Source: uk.businessinsider.com
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 25th Jul 2017

 

Sundar PichaiGoogle CEO Sundar Pichai.Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Google's parent company Alphabet beat expectations for its second-quarter earnings on the top and bottom lines, but investors who have bid up the stock nearly 30% this year wanted more and the shares in the company slid after the announcement.

"I think people were hoping for a bigger beat on the top line, and we didn't get that," Ben Schachter, an analyst at Macquarie told Business Insider.

The rising numbers of searches from smartphones in particular, which require Google to share ad revenue with partners, appear to be eating into Google's revenue and crimping its growth. 

Alphabet's stock fell about 3% in after-hours trading Monday.

Here are the results compared to Wall Street's expectations:

Revenue: $26.01 billion, up 21% year-over-year, and above the $25.64 billion expected

EPS (GAAP):  $5.01 vs. $4.46 expected

"We've been talking about our bigger investment areas within Google and you can see the momentum here reflecting contributions from our newer revenue streams," CFO Ruth Porat said during a conference call with investors on Monday.

Concerns about "net revenue"

Alphabet's overall revenue topped expectations thanks in part to growth in the "other revenues," the division of Google which includes segments like the hardware and cloud businesses.  Other revenues were $3.09 billion in Q2, up from $2.17 billion in the year-ago quarter.

Porat cited strength in Google's cloud business, as well as sales of its new Home smart speaker and wifi products.

But revenue growth in Google's core online search advertising business decelerated during the quarter, as the company pays larger amounts of money to partners that deliver traffic to Google's search engine, including Apple's iPhone. 

Net revenue for Google's ad business, which excludes the fees paid to partners, was up 16% during the second quarter, a slowdown from the roughly 20% net revenue growth that Google logged in the year ago period. 

Macquarie analyst Schachter pointed to the Q2 net revenue as a "meaningful deceleration." It's not the end of the world, Schachter said, but it illustrates the changes to Google's business model as more and more of its search traffic now comes from mobile devices like iPhones that require Google to share some of the revenue.

Here are some of the key numbers from Q2:

Net income: $3.5 billion (including the impact of a $2.7 billion European Comission fine), down from $4.9 billion in the year ago period

Cash and short term securities: $94.7 billion

Headcount: 75,606, up from 66,575 in year ago period

The cost-per-click on Google ads was down 26% from the year-ago quarter. Paid clicks were up 61% over last year.

Other bets

Revenues for Other Bets, which include the other companies under Alphabet like Waymo, Nest, and Verily, were $248 million for the quarter. Other Bets lost $772 million.

Alphabet's stock has been in good shape this year, and is flirting closer and closer to $1,000, as shares have surged roughly 27% so far this year. Despite a record-breaking $2.7 billion fine from the EU last month, analysts remain bullish on the future of Alphabet. Alphabet's Q2 results included the fine.

In addition to earnings, Alphabet had some other big news earlier Monday. Google CEO Sundar Pichai was named to the company's board as its 13th member. Pichai has been a Google employee since 2004.

Source: uk.businessinsider.com
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 24th Jul 2017

Trusts have purchased more than 400,000 new PCs since 2013, at a cost of £260 million

NHS Trusts bin 120 computers every day

Upgrading instead of replacing could save £93 million

Figures obtain by freedom of information requests show that NHS Trusts are spending £158,000 per day on new PCs and laptops, at an average cost of £650 per device.

The figures, obtained by memory and storage company Crucial, came from 197 of the 235 Trusts in England. Since the beginning of 2013, they have disposed of 237,422 computers - equivalent to around 144 each day - and spent over £260 million on 401,084 new machines (243 per day).

Crucial said that it is possible that some of the computers are being disposed of by accident - they may have been mistakenly identified as having an unfixable problem, for example. Some may also simply be too old to operate properly, in which case upgrading is another way in which the NHS could save money and avoid electronic waste. By doubling the installed memory of PCs, rather than buying 237,000 new ones, Crucial estimates that the NHS could have saved £95 million.

A separate survey by the firm found that, despite the money spent, 42 per cent of healthcare professionals still feel that IT is a hindrance in their jobs. More than a quarter said that they lack technology skills; 20 per cent did not know how to scan for viruses; and 5 per cent admitted to not knowing how to send an email.

Jim Jardine, director of DRAM product marketing at Crucial, said: "The NHS is clearly investing in new hardware...But despite this spend, it's clear that more training or IT support in using these new systems is needed to help give healthcare workers the means of being productive.

"Our study also highlighted the lack of knowledge doing simple tasks like scan for viruses, but with a bit of training, healthcare staff would feel a lot more confident and can make the most of the NHS's IT investment."

The news follows last week's announcement that the NHS is to be granted £21 million to boost its cyber defences, after the wide-scale WannaCry infections earlier this year.

Update on 21/7/17: Crucial provided us with updated numbers after identifying an error in its formula that calculated these stats.

Source: v3.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 24th Jul 2017

For those who don’t want to run back and forth across the parks to collect paper Fastpass tickets, Disneyland has launched a digital version of the system: Maxpass. For $10 a day (or $75 a year for those with an annual pass), guests with the Disneyland app can make Fastpass reservations on their phones and access PhotoPass downloads. Is it worth it? Touringplans.comconcludes that it’s not much different than getting regular Fastpasses, which are still available to all park guests.

Michelle Woo

Parenting editor, Lifehacker

Source: lifehacker.com
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 19th Jul 2017

The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you'll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.

b20160926_small_swsMoleskine

If you're anything like the average American, you're going to spend the majority of your time working or doing related activities.

So having a workspace that makes you feel comfortable, in control, and relaxed is not only an important key to productivity but also to maintaining a high level of happiness.

Below are 11 things that will make your space more comfortable. Some of them are items we've already covered and love, like a tiny humidifierYETI mugportable Anker chargerStatus Audio headphones, and the Moleskine innovative smart writing set, and others are notable for rave reviews from other users.

If you're looking for a way to make your time at work more enjoyable or at the very least comfortable, you might be interested in introducing one of the following into your workspace.

View As: One Page Slides

 

A plant that won't take over your desk

A plant that won't take over your desk

Amazon

There's ample research to suggest that nature makes us happier and even contributes to positive physical benefits. So any plant in your viewpoint for about eight hours of your day will likely contribute to a happier you. 

These mini planter pots are made out of ceramic materials and won't look either childish or overwhelming sitting on your desk. Succulents are a good choice for the workplace because they require little effort (ie. are unlikely to die over a long weekend), and don't have long climbing vines that will wind up bothering your neighbor.

It's nice to have some life to look at when you're indoors for the lion's share of your day, but you don't want to create extra work for yourself, either.

T4U 2.5 Inch Ceramic Flowing Glazed Succulent Plant Pot, $6.93

 

A tiny and silent humidifier

A tiny and silent humidifier

Amazon

This little guy has over 13,500 reviews on Amazon and a strong 4.6-star rating for a reason. Though it's pretty tiny, which is good for a crowded desk, this humidifier is exceptionally effective and versatile. It'll add moisture to the air and keep your skin from drying out and colds from developing.

If you don't want to decide what the whole office will smell like, you can use it as just a humidifier, and there's an easy measuring cup to use for refills so you don't have to unplug and uproot every time like other humidifiers. And in case you like as little noise as possible in order to concentrate, there's a whisper-quiet function that won't emit any noise.

If you'd like to know more, you can read our review here.

URPOWER Essential Oil Diffuser and Humidifier, $14.95

 

A coffee mug that will keep your drinks hot or cold for hours at a time

A coffee mug that will keep your drinks hot or cold for hours at a time

Yeti

There's nothing that can improve your mood quite like a consistently, dependably hot cup of coffee when you're working hard. Whether it's used for your commute to the office or at your desk, this coffee tumbler is made out of stainless steel and was engineered to survive the wild — which makes it perfect for the rougher mornings. I received one as a gift from a friend, and I use it religiously

YETI Rambler 20 oz Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated Tumbler, $23.99 on Amazon and YETI 

A comfortable back pillow to support your spine

A comfortable back pillow to support your spine

Amazon

Sitting in an office chair day in and day out can result in back pain and poor posture—neither of which you likely want. This is an inexpensive but effective way to curtail the possibility of either happening. Getting a lumbar cushion like this Amazon bestseller will support your spine and improve your posture over time. If you don't love it, you're guaranteed a 100% reimbursement. 

Ziraki Memory Foam Lumbar Cushion, $15.96

 

A professional-looking desk organizer

A professional-looking desk organizer

Amazon

If you think de-cluttering your desk will free up some elbow and brain space, you're probably right. It's no secret that clutter can often be linked to anxiety. Having a place for your things and a cleaner workspace could help you feel (and look) more on top of things. 

KINGFOM Leather Office Desk Organizer, $33.99

A writing set that will digitize your handwritten notes

A writing set that will digitize your handwritten notes

Moleskine

If you've ever been in a meeting scribbling down notes and wishing you could have these digitally accessible later, without having to type them up, then this is probably one office hack you'll be interested in.

The Moleskine Smart Writing Set lets you hand-write your notes with a smartpen in a smart notebook and see them transferred in real time into an app on your phone, so you can easily email this week's notes around without wasting your time. The same thing goes for writing notes down on the train on the way to work.

It's particularly great for students or those of us who often have to participate in spaces where technology isn't allowed or just like the pure form of writing, but also the ease of technology. If you'd like to know more, my full review goes into further depth.

Moleskine Smart Writing Set, $199 on Amazon and Moleskine

 

A white noise app to drown out the office

A white noise app to drown out the office

iTunes

If you have trouble focusing in the office or you sit next to a window on a particularly busy street, the Noisli app is incredibly useful. Instead of listening to the sneezing of a coworker who's in a particularly tough battle with allergies, the Noisli app will provide you with some welcome white noise so you can get your work done. 

Noisli, $1.99

A portable phone charger

A portable phone charger

Amazon

For the meeting way, way downtown that you maybe need directions to or the commute home right after realizing you never charged your phone today, a portable phone charger like one of our favorites here will be a lifesaver. Do yourself a favor and completely cut out the concern of your phone or tablet dying when you need it and invest the $17 in a dependable external battery.

Anker Astro E1 5200mAh Ultra Compact Portable Charger, $17.99

 

A strong disinfectant

A strong disinfectant

Amazon

Again, for the meeting way, way downtown where you touched a million different handrails and things that another several million people touched on the way, or just to clean up your hands before touching your workspace after a commute, investing in some Purell is a great idea.

It's no secret anymore that your computer keyboard is up to five times more germ-ridden than a toilet seat. Sanitizers like this will help you cut down on the ones you come into contact with daily. 

Purell Advanced Aloe 8 oz, 2-Pack, $5.71

A laptop stand

A laptop stand

Amazon

This patented laptop stand is the #1 best seller on Amazon and has 4.8 stars after nearly 3,000 reviews. The fact that so many people rushed to review a laptop stand is confidence-boosting. What it does is raise your laptop screen height to eye level you so don't have to switch from a desktop to hunching over it every time you want to use it.

The tilt design will bring the screen closer and the aluminum panel will cool your laptop as it works. There are a few other useful features, but the main draw is having a stable, more ergonomic way of integrating your laptop into an office space. 

Rain Design mStand Laptop Stand, $41.90-$49.90 

 

Comfortable sound-isolating headphones

Comfortable sound-isolating headphones

Status Audio

Wearing over-ear headphones at the office has a few benefits, but one of the best is that it will keep the outside world out while isolating the music, podcast, or white noise app you're listening to. And unlike earbuds, people are more likely to recognize that you're in the zone. This pair made the list for headphones we wear every day and is considered the best workspace upgrade one Insider Picks reporter has made, even though they cost less than $100.

Status Audio CB-1 Studio Headphones, $79 on Amazon and Status Audio

A gel keyboard wrist pad

A gel keyboard wrist pad

Amazon

The repetitive stress of typing on a keyboard can result in the odd fatigue of your wrists, but this gel pad can help reduce the stress you put on your hands when you type. The cushioning is made for flexibility and the gel padding will make sure that the product you buy to make you more comfortable at work actually succeeds in doing exactly that. 

Belkin WaveRest Gel Wrist Pad for Keyboards, $8.99

A cable manager

A cable manager

Amazon

Keep your multiple wires from crossing or getting tangled with easy and inexpensive cable managers. These are sold in groups of six, and they'll hold wires up to 5/16" in diameter. They're easily mounted to your desk, the wall next to your desk, or any other flat surfaces with their permanent peel-and-stick backing. 

Bluelounge CableDrop Black, 6-Pack, $6.99

Source: uk.businessinsider.com
 
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