‘Overwatch’ Gamers: Send Us Your Best ‘Plays Of The Game’

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Source: Forbes Technology

As you can see in the video above; I want you to send me your best and favorite “Plays of the Game” from Overwatch so I can post them here on Forbes every week on Tuesday and on my Facebook page Play of the Game. Overwatch has become such a massive phenomenon that the Play of the Game highlights at the end of every match have become wildly popular with gamers sharing their personal POTGs, memes and applying the format to popular shows like Game of Thrones. Warning; spoilers bellow if you haven’t seen the GOT season 6 finale.

While the algorithm that determines who gets the “Play of the Game” is still being fine tuned by Blizzard, there are a lot of other missed moments in game that are unique to Overwatch. My personal favorite moment so far is when I got into a fight with someone playing Winston, knocked him off of a cliff, then he recovers from my pin and flies out from the abyss attacking me again, only to be slammed back down by my rocked propelled hammer–those are the moments you live for in Overwatch. So send me your Overwatch ”Play of The Game” either here on FORBES in the comment section below or directly on my Facebook fan-page Play of the Game and it will be considered for my weekly posting about the very best moments in Overwatch that week. Please send me BOTH YouTube and publicly available Facebook video links of direct capture of your POTG or favorite highlight. No cellphone videos of your television or monitor please. Videos will be judged by player skill, supporting your team, epic-ness and occasionally comedic fails, like when you get a POTG while dead as Torbjorn.

Overwatch, Blizzard

 

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Source: Forbes Technology

Eight Video Games To Play If You’re Missing ‘Game of Thrones’

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Source: Forbes Technology

Photo: CDPR

If you’re like me, you’re missing Game of Thrones already, even just a few days after its finale. Suffice to say, waiting all the way until next spring for it to return for season seven is a disappointing thought, so you’ll need something to keep your mind occupied until then.

I have about eight zillion great fantasy books I could recommend (The Way of Kings, The Name of the Wind, etc. etc.), but my beat here is video games, so I’m going to try and stick with that for now. I have bemoaned for ages that there is not a truly good Game of Thrones RPG yet, so there is no direct equivalent to the show (we’ll talk about the Telltale game later). There are, however, a number of games that contain some of the aspects of Game of Thrones that you may like. What do I mean? Read on:

If you miss the political intrigue…

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Game of Thrones is less of a pure fantasy show than it is about politics. Politics that usually end with a lot of dead people, but politics all the same, which is what “A Game of Thrones” ultimately refers to. If that wheeling, dealing, backstabbing aspect of that appeals to you, then look no further than Crusader Kings 2, the strategy game where you want to amass allies and crush your enemies through plotting and scheming. Create the ultimate dynasty and ensure your name lives forever. Be a Lannister, not a Casterly, in other words. And as an added bonus, there is actually a full-on Game of Thrones mod for the game, if you want a direct parallel to the series.

If you miss the gruesome revenge killings…

Photo: Bethesda


Dishonored

I’m not exactly sure how many games use “revenge” as a driving motivator (a lot), but I know that one uses it more effectively than most, and that would be Bethesda’s Dishonored. After the murder of an empress (which you’re framed for) you’re tasked with protecting her heir. This involves you killing a large number of people in a variety of entertaining and grotesque ways. There are few other assassination games that blend fantasy, technology and freedom of movement/choice quite like Dishonored. With the sequel on the way this summer, you can sink a whole lot of time into this series until GoT returns.

If you miss the trials by combat…

Photo: FromSoftware

Dark Souls 1-3

Game of Thrones is famous for a few epic fights, the Viper vs. the Mountain, Brienne vs. The Hound, but Dark Souls is a series where practically every fight you find yourself in is an epic struggle to stay alive. The Dark Souls series combines medieval gloom with a healthy dose of twisted fantasy, and working your way through these games is a feeling of accomplishment like few other things in the industry. The combat is hard to pick up, hard to master and just all around…hard. But that isn’t a bad thing, and if you want a challenge, there is no better series to test what you’re made of than Dark Souls.

If you miss the impossible ethical traps….

Photo: Telltale


Telltale’s The Walking Dead

Here’s where I’m supposed to plug Telltale’s Game of Thrones game, which actually takes place inside the universe of the show, but I honestly don’t really like it that much. If you’re going to play a Telltale game full of gripping moral choices, you would be better off with the original, their two season Walking Dead series, which remains their best. Also pretty good are The Wolf Among Us and Tales from the Borderlands, but Game of Thrones, weirdly, remains their weakest game to date.

If you miss the sprawling worldbuilding…

Photo: CDPR

The Witcher 3

If I had to pick a single game on this list that contained the most similarities to Game of Thrones, it would probably be The Witcher 3, the cream of the crop of all fantasy RPGs, with an enormously likable lead, and a massive, detailed world full of gripping, disturbing, engaging stories. I spent a hundred hours with the base game and forty more with the DLC, and I may do it all over again with New Game+ soon enough. You don’t need to play the others to dive right into this third game, and it will take you so long to get through it, it could very well fill the entire gap between now and Game of Thrones season seven.

If you miss the character shipping…

Photo: Bioware

Mass Effect/Dragon Age


There aren’t all that many actual romances in Game of Thrones, but there is a hell of a lot of character shipping among fans. Jaime/Brienne, Tormund/Brienne, Jon/Daenerys, Jorah/Daenerys, Tyrion/Daenerys, Sansa/Podrick, Arya/Gendry, Littlefinger/The Night’s King, etc. If romance is your thing, BioWare’s games are where you probably want to be. Dragon Age has the fantasy aspect you might be looking for, but Mass Effect has the more compelling relationships if you ask me. And outside of the romance, they’re just damn good at storytelling too.

If you miss the dragons…

Photo: Bethesda

Skyrim

Before The Witcher 3, I would have said Elder Scrolls was the best GoT equivalent, but even if it’s been unseated as my favorite, it’s still a really damn good option here. It has the added bonus of having a “the dragons are coming back to life” plotline that mirrors the show, and the dragons are pretty essential to both the gameplay and plot throughout. Eventually you can summon dragons to help you, but admittedly, you’re usually just killing them. Skyrim is a game you can essentially get lost in forever, and with a remastered version of the game coming out this fall, there’s never been a better time to play.

If you miss Jon Snow…

Photo: Activision

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare

Alright this is a game that isn’t even out yet, but if you miss everyone’s new favorite King in the North, Kit Harrington will be starring in Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, switching things up by playing the villain role for a change. We know little about his character, other than that he’s sort of or resistance, space terrorist leader, and he’s doing a lot of mo-cap for the project. Given that this is Call of Duty, I might expect some plot turn to reveal he’s actually the good guy, but who knows. Anyway, Call of Duty and Game of Thrones probably couldn’t have less in common, but now they at least have one thing.

Any other suggestions? I’m all ears.

Follow me on Twitter and on Facebook. Pick up my sci-fi novels, The Last ExodusThe Exiled Earthborn and The Sons of Sora, which are now in print, online and on audiobook.

Why does The Walking Dead have such lasting appeal? Find out below:

Source: Forbes Technology

Bandai Unleashes A Truly Excessive Gundam Later This Year

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Source: Forbes Technology

(Photo credit: Bandai)

Back in 1987, Model Graphix ran a serialized novel set between the end of Zeta Gundam and the start of ZZ Gundam. Called Gundam Sentinel, it was also the debut for mecha designer Hajime Katoki. After nearly 30 years, one of his designs is finally getting the treatment it deserves.

You need to understand the effect Gundam Sentinel has had on mecha design since its inception, not only in Japan but also across the globe. Katoki introduced an all-new grittier approach to mecha and that in turn heavily influenced mecha in gaming as well. So much so that Katoki went on to pen the mecha in the very popular Virtual On series.

The main mobile suit in Gundam Sentinel was the MSA-011 S Gundam, a new type of mecha with an onboard AI and prototype weapon systems. It was used by Task Force Alpha, who were responsible for eradicating the psychotically fascist New Desides. This being an even more devout group of Earth-based supremacists that made the genocidal Titans look more than a little fluffy.

Over the course of the story, the protagonist Ryu Roots has the S Gundam upgraded to the much beefier and more potent MSA-0011[Ext] Ex-S Gundam. It’s this variant that is the most popular with fans and which this new toy is based on.

This new toy announcement from Bandai places the Ex-S Gundam in the new Metal Robot Damashii range. Compared to standard Robot Damashii figures, the Metal versions use more diecast in the joints and across the toys themselves. This particular toy is also part of the Ka Signature line, which is also directly helmed by Katoki himself.

However, as this toy is really quite large it is probable that the diecast construction is necessary considering the increased weight of the figure compared to other Robot Damashii releases.

In some ways, it is nice to see Katoki’s earliest work given such an amazing figure but its resurgence is more likely down to its inclusion in as a playable unit in the Gundam Extreme Versus games (shown below).

Released in November later this year for 17,820 yen, this Metal Robot Damashii Ex-S Gundam looks to be superlatively good and should be available from places like HobbyLink Japan. Whether it will include the somewhat bizarre transformation remains to be seen but considering the price tag it’s probable we’ll see it attempt the G-Cruiser mode in some way or another.

However, my personal though likely futile hope is that Bandai will follow up with a release of the Deep Striker variant. That would be all manner of epic.

Follow me on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. I also manage Mecha Damashii and do toy reviews over at hobbylink.tv.

Read my Forbes blog here.

Source: Forbes Technology

Jason Lemkin Explains How He Raised $70 Million — And Why Vice Presidents Make Better VCs Than CEOs

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Source: Forbes Technology

Credit: SaaStr Fund

Jason Lemkin was, by Silicon Valley standards, a successful CEO. He founded a startup called EchoSign, and six years later sold it to one of the big players in tech, Adobe.

But as Lemkin sets out with a new venture fund of his own, he says his own path isn’t the easiest to a successful career in venture capital.

“All founders are opinionated,” Lemkin says. “You can’t be a founder and not be, or you’ll fail.” That necessity to maintain a true north, personally and for the business, can be critical to a startup’s success. So it’s not a shock that when entrepreneurs seek out investors, they often gravitate to their own kind: fellow founders turned venture capitalists, who have the first-hand experience to work through common issues.

As the founder of the SaaStr brand (it’s got a blog that reaches 3.5 million viewers a month and an annual event that brings out a who’s who of enterprise software companies and their investors), Lemkin qualifies as a repeat founder. But with his new SaaStr fund, he’s looking to avoid a founder mindset with his portfolio.


Lemkin is the sole general partner of a new $70 million fund based on the SaaStr brand. His deal flow is its community, and his board meetings involve talking in the mirror. What the SaaStr fund promises is quick and measurable operational help. Lemkin says he’ll take responsibility for hiring a chief of sales and marketing and any other key management team members within 90 days of a founder signing a term sheet.

The role of an investor, Lemkin believes, is more vice president than CEO. “Founders don’t make better investors, but they get picked more often,” he says. “But then you’re used to doing things a certain way.”

For SaaStr’s investments—Lemkin has made 23 so far—he’s had to learn how to bring a different perspective. It hasn’t always been easy, as his short stint at a larger venture firm, Storm Ventures, can attest. Lemkin says that raising a fund by yourself requires a degree of reflection that the venture industry as a whole could follow.

“The meta learning is about when people will pick you. It’s hard to win if people don’t,” he says.

What Lemkin found raising his fund, a large one for a first-time firm with one primary investor: the market is busy, and limited partners in funds are getting more discerning. Many of the newer funds of recent years have since raised second or third funds, while valuations of private startups have led to many more boasting triple-digit paper returns. Would-be investors increasingly must prove they had a meaningful impact with the company through ownership of ten percent or more and by leading a round, Lemkin says. “You have to squint at these crazy multiples,” he says.

With the big funds raising billions of dollars to keep investing, that makes it tougher for new brands to succeed. Lemkin admits that his own will have to prove itself all over again, despite the SaaStr community he’s built so far. But he also argues that young entrepreneurs don’t keep score of firms, or even know their names, nearly as much as many of his peers would want to believe.

SaaStr was able to raise a $70 million debut fund because Lemkin worked his existing CEOs for references—companies including Talkdesk, Greenhouse and Algolia. Lemkin says that for others looking to raise their own funds, its those referrals that ultimately earn limited partner checks from hedge funds, educational institutions and even other VCs.

But Lemkin’s also optimistic about the market, despite a lack of a high number of recent public offerings and some doubt about “unicorn” billion-dollar valuations. “Funds haven’t raised money this year because the sky was going to fall,” he says.”They were trying to take advantage of how good 2015 was.”

Follow Alex on ForbesTwitter and Facebook for more coverage of startups, enterprise software and venture capital.

Source: Forbes Technology

5 Ways Intellectual Property Will Be Critical To Your Career

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Source: Forbes Technology

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Remember that scene in the 1967 movie The Graduate when Mr. McGuire (Walter Brooke) offers career advice to a young Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman)?

“Plastics!” he says. “There’s a great future in plastics.”

Half a century later, it’s not plastics but rather intellectual property (IP) — patents, copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets — that is now the key engine of opportunity for almost any successful career in the future.

Top 10 Business Trends That Will Drive Success In 2016

Until recently, intellectual property was a narrowly-specialized field of interest only to inventors, corporate R&D managers, and lawyers. But in today’s knowledge economy, where ideas and innovation rather than labor, raw materials or capital investment drive economic growth and business success, intellectual property has moved to center stage as the key success factor in business, science, the arts, and the professions.

Here are the five key reasons why intellectual property will be critical to your career:

1. Intellectual property now comprises over 35% of the total U.S. economy.

According to a 2012 report from the U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. intellectual property is worth more than $5 trillion a year and comprises 35% of total U.S. GDP. This means IP’s value in the U.S. is greater than the total GDP of any other nation on earth except China.

IP-intensive industries account for over 40 million jobs today, or nearly a third of all U.S. employment. Average weekly wages in such industries were 42% higher than in other sectors, and in patent- and copyright-based industries, the wage premium is even higher — 73% and 77% respectively. And IP-intensive merchandise accounts for 60% of total U.S. merchandise exports.

Put simply, the future is no longer plastics, it’s intellectual property. The smart move therefore is to “follow the money” and build a career in a fast-growing IP-intensive industry.

2. IP and other intangible assets represent 80% of the market value of U.S. public companies today.

Forty years ago, tangible corporate assets like plant, equipment, raw materials, and buildings and real estate represented 80% of the market value of publicly-traded companies in the U.S., with intangible assets comprising the other 20%.

In today’s knowledge economy, however, that ratio is reversed. Studies now show that intangible assets like patents, trademarks, and trade secrets now represent 80% or more of the market value of public companies. And one reason that’s true, as a groundbreaking study pointed out last year, is that on average patented products and services generate 50% more return than unpatented ones.

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Since it’s likely your employer’s chief asset is intellectual property, too, learning how to deploy, defend, and monetize it is a good way for ambitious employees to get ahead.

3. IP is driving the biggest new developments in science, business, arts, and the professions.

Look around and you’ll see intellectual property’s growing role in almost every industry and profession you can imagine.

The business pages are filled with headlines of corporate “patent wars” and patent sales or acquisitions, including Yahoo’s current patent sale. IP is so crucial in business because, as bank robber Willie Sutton famously noted, “That’s where the money is” in most companies.

Meanwhile, debates rage in art journals and in social media over whether the artist Richard Prince’s use of other people’s Instagram posts is infringement or fair use. And in the music industry, Led Zeppelin’s acquittal of copyright infringement charges was a big relief.

Madden 17 Series: Gameplay Ideas For The Future

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Source: Forbes Technology

With the August 23 release date for Madden 17 quickly approaching, I am going to continue to look at various aspects of the game’s past and future in an ongoing series over the next couple of months.

Of all the issues that Madden fans will angrily flock to the internet to complain about, gameplay may inspire the most passionate opinions.

Fans are patiently awaiting their yearly Madden replenishment on August 23. (Photographer: Ben Nelms/Bloomberg)

From broad criticisms like “linebackers intercepting too many passes” to more specific issues like a certain play being overpowered, the flood of varying gripes makes it almost impossible for EA Sports to please everyone.

In recent years, though, the development team has formed an increasingly tighter relationship with the elite, tournament level Madden player, and it has reflected positivly in the year-to-year improvements. The connection between eSports players and the game’s creators has made it much easier to identify and fix game breaking issues such as flats zone assignments not working correctly in Madden 10 and blitzes that break the game’s blocking A.I. each year.

EA announced the full set of improvements and new features for Madden 17 in May. These included the number of zone assignments being increased from three to ten, new maneuvers for the ball-carrier to cut through traffic, and the swat button returning to combat Madden 16′s overpowered aggressive catch.

Presentation upgrades and new Ultimate Team features may be what garner the most headlines, but hardcore players always look at the gameplay first.

Let’s talk about a handful of improvements and fixes that will continue to push Madden into the future.

1) Spider 2 Y-Banana!!!!!

Madden 17 Series: The Top Five Madden Teams Of All Time

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Source: Forbes Technology

With the August 23 release date for Madden 17 quickly approaching, I am going to continue to look at various aspects of the game’s past and future in an ongoing series over the next couple of months.

Michael Vick and Bo Jackson stand alone as the most dominant football video game athletes in history. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)

How do you define the all time greatest teams in Madden? They’re probably not who you think they are. Each year, little nuances and tricks in competitive gameplay can turn a team who is mediocre or bad in real life into a Madden juggernaut. Conversely, the same factors can turn a successful team into an afterthought for Madden’s eSports competitors. For years, elite pocket passers like Peyton Manning were not as impactful in Madden because the difference in accuracy between Manning and the lowest rated QBs was very minimal.

Then there are the times that the stars align — with a team dominating on both the real life and digital gridiron like the Panthers in 2015.

To clarify, Madden 08 Chargers means the real life 2007 Chargers. For those unfamiliar, Madden each year is named similarly to cars in that it is always one year ahead of the actual NFL season taking place. Confused yet?

Without further ado, here are my top five teams in Madden history.

5) Madden 13 San Francisco 49ers

Madden 13 was a game built on big hits from your linebackers causing fumbles and completing passes to your tight ends when they’re running streak routes. The streak routes were extremely overpowered in the game because they essentially gave the receiver running them psychic abilities. The user, as the quarterback, could drastically lead the receiver to the inside or outside on his streak route — with the receiver knowing which way to cut without having to look at the ball or the quarterback. Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker’s speed made them the perfect tight end combo for this tactic.

Colin Kaepernick had also not yet been figured out by NFL defenses and his ratings in the game reflected it. He was the perfect combination of speed and throwing power that Madden users have sought since Michael Vick set the standard on Playstation 2. Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman, and Aldon Smith formed probably the best combination of speed and hit power for a linebacking unit in Madden history.

When users saw they were playing San Fran, they prepared themselves for the inevitable temper tantrum that comes with losing two or three fumbles.

4) Madden 09 Dallas Cowboys

Curl routes, fullback dives, and halfback tosses were the weapons of choice in Madden 09.

The game featured a handoff animation on fullback dives that was unrealistically fast. This created the ability to consistently gain five-plus yards on the play even when the defense employed schemes that logically should stop a fullback dive. The halfback toss was made even more effective because of how much users had to bend over backwards to stop the fullback dive. No team better exploited this than the Cowboys through their combination of Marion Barber and Felix Jones. Barber, lined up at fullback, would force users into committing their entire defense to the middle of the field while the offense waited for the perfect time to strike with the speedy Jones on the outside. I may or may not have broken a couple of PS3 controllers as a result of this.

The curl route was also overpowered in Madden 09. Unlike today, animations didn’t exist in the game for a defensive back interacting with a receiver on a jump ball. This opened the door for users to chuck curls up to receivers who were double covered with almost no fear of throwing an interception. Tony Romo’s mobility coupled with tall receivers like Terrell Owens and Jason Witten took perfect advantage of this.

Acoustic Gunshot Analysis Could Help Solve Crimes

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Source: Forbes Technology

Image courtesy of Montana State University, Bozman

Researchers from Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Montana State University in Bozeman constructed a semicircular aluminum frame with 12 evenly spaced microphones in order to analyze the sound of gunshots from different guns.

In general, there are several ways a gun can be linked to a crime: striations on a bullet, gunpowder residue, trajectory, ricochet and bullet holes, hidden fingerprints, firing pin impressions and bullet damage to tissue. But these researchers believe that acoustic gunshot sound analysis could provide even more information on the type of gun used which can help forensics teams.

To the naked ear, most gunshots seem to sound alike, but researchers say each firearm has a distinctive signal. The idea from the research was to determine through sound waves how to distinguish between the sound pattern a 12-gauge shotgun makes versus a .38 Special handgun in order to help solve crimes.

The team is is building a database of sounds which are made by 20 different guns to chart out differences in the sound waves. The researchers say these audio recordings of gunshots can provide information about the gun location with respect to the microphone(s), the speed and trajectory of the projectile and in some cases the type of firearm and ammunition.

Dr. Robert Maher, Professor and Department head of Electrical & Computer Engineering and Affiliate Professor of Music Technology, Montana State University, says he hopes that one day investigators could use the information to determine what kind of guns were fired at a crime scene.

“Of course, most crime scene recordings aren’t high quality — they often come from cellphones or surveillance systems,” said Maher. “But we are analyzing and comparing those recordings with ones made in our outdoor “lab” to figure out which aspects of crime scene audio we can analyze.”

Source: Forbes Technology

Travelling With Your Boss: 10 Things We Want You To Know

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Source: Forbes Technology

Forbesfone: Keeping you connected in 220+ couontries, at low roaming rates worldwide

Where travelling is concerned, it’s very easy to adopt a more relaxed stance.  It’s a break from routine and a chance to see and do something differently and it usually implies. However, as many business travellers can attest, it’s not the case when you’re travelling for work. Yes, it’s a break from routine – but that’s about it. Think of it as a temporary relocation of your office.

Another aspect which will change the usual travel dynamics is the opportunity to travel with your boss. Now, though some of you may argue that you have an excellent relationship with your boss, it’s the fact that you’re in a different environment coupled with the stresses and change in attitude this brings along, which might have an impact on how you behave and ultimately, on your relationship.

We’ve had a look at various experiences from seasoned business travellers and we came up with a list of things you should know, before you even show up at the airport.

Or preferably, 10 minutes early. Be it at the airport, or before you leave the hotel in the morning, make sure you’re slightly earlier than planned so you never leave your boss waiting for you.

Your boss asks for a particular document? “I’ve got it right here. Made a couple of copies too just in case”. The time of a particular meeting? “Let me check… it’s at 3pm. Plenty of time to meet Mr Smith and have lunch”. Knowing your stuff and keeping tabs on the whole trip will definitely throw your approach to work in a positive light.

Forbesfone Tip: Data roaming access is fundamental for a successful business trip. Take a look at our data roaming plans. Our prepaid roaming SIM is the perfect solution for business travellers who wish to stay connected, without the need to go WiFi hunting. If that’s not enough to check us out, we also offer the best data roaming rates worldwide!

Remember, you’re still going to work, even when the offices overlook beaches or are in the middle of shopping avenues. Pack office-sensible clothes which can be mixed and matched so you have a different outfit every day.

Remember, this is still your boss. Some topics might be best avoided so you never risk getting in uncomfortable situations or awkward discussions. Have a ready “easy” topic at hand which you can switch to when you feel the need to escape certain questions or statements. It’s easy to slide in discussions which are usually off the radar, especially if you’re spending long hours sitting next to each other. Be friendly but steer clear of anything which is too personal.

If he shows inclinations to talk work, engage in it. If she’s showing signs that she’d like to relax, feel free to put on your eye mask and doze off. If he asks you what you feel like doing it’s the perfect time to ask any burning questions (business related, obviously) you might have.

Never assume everything will always be paid for. Get your own cash with you and although you don’t have to offer to pay your boss anything, it would be a nice gesture, if anything, to do so, especially if you decide to go for an informal lunch.

Know your limits and don’t even get close, especially if you’re drinking on the plane where it has a stronger effect because of the pressurised air. If your boss is comfortable having 3 drinks, it doesn’t mean you should.

True organization can only be achieved if you know what is expected of you. Make sure you dedicate time to discuss what kind of duties you’ll be taking on before you depart. This will not create confusion, especially when there are things that need to be pre-arranged, such as bookings or meetings.

Being rude will never reflect well on you. If you have a habit of dismissing waiters or taxi drivers for instance, it’s time to re-think your attitude. If you believe that being offered a service gives you the right to treat the person on the other end as if he or she were beneath you, should your boss be doing the same? Be polite and understanding at all times. The old saying “Treat people the way you’d like to be treated” goes a long way in establishing a good rapport.

If the expression on your face is a constant reflection of stress and tension, it’s not the best way to be representing your company and your boss will notice this. Be confident, enjoy the trip and carry a smile on your face. Know your stuff ahead of time and you’ll leave a lasting, positive impression on your boss.

Let us take off some of your business travel worries off your shoulders. Trust us with your data roaming needs, buy the Forbesfone Global Travel SIM and join the happy customers already making use of our service everywhere around the globe!

Source: Forbes Technology

Facebook’s New Algorithm Change Is A Blessing In Disguise

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Source: Forbes Technology

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Facebook’s announcement yesterday that the platform will limit the posts in News Feeds from other Facebook pages and instead prioritize posts from users’ families and friends came as a nasty shock to the media industry.

The announcement reads:

“Facebook was built on the idea of connecting people with their friends and family. That is still the driving principle of News Feed today. Our top priority is keeping you connected to the people, places and things you want to be connected to — starting with the people you are friends with on Facebook.”

So what does this mean? Essentially, Facebook has decided it is more interested in showing users photos and updates from their Facebook friends than posts from other pages, and as a result, the reach and referral traffic of posts from the Facebook pages of businesses and media companies will decline.

This is of course cause for concern for media companies that have come to rely on platforms like Facebook and Twitter for substantial portions of their web traffic. As Parsley reports, Facebook accounts for 41.4% of referral traffic to news sites. And according to the Reuters Institute 2016 Digital News Report, 51% of those surveyed reported using social media as a source of news each week, with 28% of 18-24 year-olds citing it as their main source of news.

But it’s important to note that not all posts from businesses and media organizations will be less likely to show up in news feeds. As the announcement explains, news posts shared by your friends will still show up at the top of your feed.

“The specific impact on your Page’s distribution and other metrics may vary depending on the composition of your audience. For example, if a lot of your referral traffic is the result of people sharing your content and their friends liking and commenting on it, there will be less of an impact than if the majority of your traffic comes directly through Page posts.”

To take Forbes as an example, the change in Facebook’s algorithm isn’t going to have a very drastic impact on our traffic because the majority of our Facebook traffic comes from other people posting and sharing and our stories. The amount of traffic we get via posts from our own Facebook page is much smaller in comparison.

Of course, any loss in traffic is going to hurt media companies whose only lifeline in the current digital advertising landscape is scale. And many publishers and businesses are likely going to try to fight back against this decline in eyeballs and reach by paying Facebook big bucks to promote their sponsored content (smart strategy on Facebook’s part—make media companies reliant on your platform by surfacing their content for free, and then snatch that away and make them pay for that same traffic).

But the other implications of this algorithm change are more interesting to parse.

In many ways, it had started to look like Facebook was toeing the line to becoming a publisher in its own right—what with the Facebook trending news controversy and its promotion of live video and instant articles. But Facebook has now come out into the open and announced that it has no interest in entering the news business. As its announcement lays out, Facebook has certain “values” that the News Feed is built on. Namely, that the News Feed be “subjective, personal, and unique.”

In other words, Facebook is afraid of becoming an impersonal RSS feed of news. It feels threatened by platforms like Snapchat and Instagram, which have successfully managed to get users to share more and more of their own videos and photos. Facebook’s promotion of live video shows that it is attempting to challenge Snapchat for a share of the live video sharing market.

And its new algorithm change which prioritizes posts from individual users over businesses and media companies is another attempt to get people to share. And even if most people aren’t sharing, it’s going to look like they are because the posts from those who are will surface to the top of their friends’ News Feeds.

In its press announcement, the first “value” that Facebook claims its News Feed is based off of is that friends and family come first.  The second is that the feed should be informative—though what one person finds informative might be different from what another person does. And the third is that the News Feed should entertain.

But what do those “values” really mean?

What’s clear from this change and the resulting effect on media companies is that 1) Facebook does not value news and information from reputable sources any more highly than it does content that users are sharing (and the emphasis on shareable content is likely going to result in a higher prevalence of “fluff” and click-bait than anything else) and 2) Facebook does not value its relationship to news publishers and it does not see itself as responsible for their financial well-being. For Facebook, content is content, and whatever keeps users’ eyeballs on its site for longer is what Facebook will deem “important.”

But perhaps this change is a blessing in disguise. Perhaps it will make media companies wake up to the fact that Facebook and other social platforms are not going to be the saving grace of the media industry.

Facebook Engineering Director Lars Backstrom said in a press note that the change to its News Feed comes because “people are still worried about missing important updates from the friends they care about.” And maybe updates and photos from friends and family should be what Facebooks is all about.

With instant articles and live video, Facebook has proven that it will do what it can to keep users from leaving its platform to visit other sites (this way, Facebook can keep the advertising revenue that would otherwise go to those sites), and with each algorithm change, Facebook encourages media companies and businesses to “pay to play” by decreasing their pages’ organic reach.

Now it’s clear that Facebook isn’t interested in becoming a major news source—and that’s a good thing, because in exchange for scale, Facebook has kept publishers at its beck and call, influencing everything from the type of content they create (i.e. first encouraging clickbait-y content and then burying it) to the distribution method (paying certain publishers to produce live video).

But while Facebook’s days of focusing on the news industry might be over, its success in capturing such a large share of the digital news market demonstrates that the company understands something about the way that people access and consume news that individual publishers and brands are still struggling to learn.

As more and more people access news via smartphones (53% of those surveyed for the Reuters 2016 Digital News Report use their smartphone for news—and that number is only growing), there is a turn away from home pages and apps. Smartphone users are more likely to access news via a social platform than through a news publisher’s website or app.

What Facebook offers as a news source is simplicity: open this app and access a variety of information from all sorts of news sources without having to navigate through different apps or individual home pages. Clearly, there is a desire for a one-stop shop for access to information.

But as Facebook’s announcement demonstrates, the social platform doesn’t want to be the solution to this need. So then what will be? Maybe the answer is a new social network designed primarily for accessing, sharing and commenting on news. Or perhaps it is not so much a social network as a single news store or aggregate news subscription service in the same vein as Spotify or Netflix. Maybe the answer looks more like Medium.

What’s clear for now, though, is that Facebook found a way to use content to attract large audiences and generate billions of dollars of ad revenue. And now that Facebook is unclenching its grip on the news industry, the question is when media companies will figure out how to do the same.

Source: Forbes Technology