Monthly Archives: October 2014
You’ve probably opened your car without sticking a key in the door for at least a decade. So why do we still use old-fashioned keys on the locks at home? Electronic locks, around for years, are a paradox. They seem so obvious in cars, hotel rooms and offices, yet alien at home.
Now a crop of smart home deadbolts propose a different approach: Turning your smartphone into the key.
This is still a horrifying idea to many people, including most of my family. There are so many what-ifs. What if your phone dies and you’re forced to sleep in the backyard? What if it goes haywire and lets in murderers?
Two smart locks I’ve tried answer enough of the scary what-ifs to make me consider retiring my trusty brass keys. My favorite is the $250 August, an automated device in stores this week that attaches easily to the inside face of most existing deadbolts. My runner-up is the $220 Kwikset Kevo, which replaces an entire lock with more sophisticated technology, but is a little harder to make work.
When your deadbolts take commands from a phone, some magical things become possible. With August and Kevo, you can order the door to open automatically when your hands are full of groceries, or you just want to show off. You can travel light, because a smartphone can now replace both your keychain and wallet (thanks to services like Apple Pay). You can send virtual keys to tenants, house guests and plumbers that expire before anyone wears out their welcome.
Smart locks can be safer than traditional ones because keys can’t be lost, shared or copied, and there’s a record of the comings and goings of keyholders. The biggest threat is old-fashioned lock-picking.
But an electronic lock requires a bigger leap of faith than an Internet-connected thermostat, security camera or light bulb. Can you trust it to open and close every time? I tested three smart locks in my home—August, Kevo and the $180 Lockitron.
It took a week to get comfortable enough to leave home without a physical backup key for August. Kevo was a bit harder. One time, it locked me out, so I had to climb in through a window. (The cause was a software error, which has been patched.)
I never totally trusted Lockitron, the only one of the lot with a Wi-Fi connection. It didn’t fit one of my doors, and its maker has yet to deliver on several promised features.
August and Kevo get the balance between reliability and functionality mostly right. Both leave an old-fashioned keyhole on the outside, so residents without smartphones (or, with ones whose batteries have died) can still come and go using keys. And since your phone connects directly to the locks with Bluetooth, they have fewer points of failure. Others, such as the $200 touch-screen smart lock made by Yale, connect your phone over the Internet to a potentially flaky smarthome hub.
August is the best-designed home technology I’ve used since the Nest thermostat. Free iPhone and Android apps allow you to dole out virtual keys to permanent residents or guests and track their activity. The hardware, which hooks onto many existing deadbolts by replacing the inside-facing latch, took me under 20 minutes to install.
Inside the chunky aluminum cylinder August attaches to your door, there’s a Bluetooth radio, batteries and a motor strong enough to turn the lock. To lock up manually inside the house, turn the August cylinder just like a latch. (Lockitron attaches a motor to your existing deadbolt latch, which is why I had a problem with the fit.)
When an authorized phone is within Bluetooth range, August can lock or unlock the door. If you use the app, it takes a few seconds to load. You can also set it to auto-unlock without touching your phone: An optional setting lets the app know when you’re approaching your door from the outside. (It isn’t quite as smart about automatically locking when you leave, but can be set to lock on a timer.)
Kevo, whose inventor appeared on the reality show “Shark Tank,” replaces your entire lock, eliminating compatibility problems. It takes a Kwikset deadbolt and adds a motor, batteries, Bluetooth radio and a touch sensor. This extra hardware lets it do a helpful trick: To lock or unlock, just touch the deadbolt with your finger when an authorized phone (or included key fob) is nearby. You never have to take your phone out of your pocket, let alone futz with an app.
There’s also an iPhone-only Kevo app that helps you manage virtual keys and track who comes and goes. You can hand out as many 24-hour temporary keys as you’d like, but Kevo charges you $2 each for more than two permanent digital keys. Any guest would have to download the app, too.
Still, installing Kevo isn’t for the timid. I spent more than an hour working through 24 steps and was frustrated placing two screws in particularly hard-to-reach spots.
And then there’s calibration. Kevo, which has Bluetooth antennas on both sides of the door, is designed to unlock only when it senses an authorized person outside the house. (This security feature prevents the door from unlocking when you’re peering out from inside.) But Kevo failed me when its sensors thought I was inside. The company says that happened to less than 1% of owners—usually on doors with glass. A software patch fixed the problem for me.
Other what-ifs to consider:
• What if your phone’s battery dies? The physical key will still work, so keep one handy. Kevo includes a wireless key fob. August plans to soon work with other secure Bluetooth devices and unlock in their proximity.
• What if your lock’s battery dies? Both August and Kevo come with four AA batteries that should last a year. Their apps will warn you before they die. If they do fail, there’s always that spare physical key.
• What if you lose your phone? You can borrow another phone or computer to log in to your smart lock account and stop your lost phone from working as a key.
• What if the lock’s motor fails? The motor in Kevo is built to last for at least 50,000 uses; August says its can surpass 100,000. An old-fashioned key can override a dead motor.
August did fail on me when it couldn’t quite seal my old door. I’m glad I didn’t just walk away—the motor’s loud whirring told me there was a problem. The company’s fix? Replacement deadbolt locks tapered to work with doors that don’t quite shut all the way.
• What if a hacker breaks in? That would be hard. Both August and Kevo only connect to the Internet via a phone that can unlock it, so some hacker in a basement couldn’t just open your door. (Systems like Lockitron—which connect directly to the Internet—attempt to minimize risk with encryption.)
Someone could steal your account password and attempt to get a virtual key. August alerts you whenever your credentials are used on a new device, and texts or emails you a code that’s required to unlock a door for the first time on a new device.
I’ve gotten over the what-ifs that kept me up at night. August and Kevo are a serious option for homeowners, particularly those who host a lot of guests, roommates or Airbnb tenants.
But this is just a first step. My ideal deadbolt would come with a camera and be able to alert my phone when anybody enters with a key (metal as well as virtual). It should be smart enough to lock up at night if I forget. To be a compelling enough front-door upgrade, smart locks still need to make a quantum leap forward in peace of mind.
Source: The Wall Street Journal
More than 100 former Infosys executives are returning to the company, heeding new CEO Vishal Sikka’s call to them to rejoin the one-time software industry bellwether in what could be a big confidence booster in its efforts to attract fresh talent and prevent existing employees from jumping ship.
Once an employer of choice in India, Infosys steadily lost that status in the past couple of years, hemorrhaged talent, including at senior levels, and left it with industry-leading attrition levels that has seen almost one in five employees leave the company.
After Sikka took charge of Infosys on August 1, one of his first actions was to issue an open call to former Infosys employees to come back to the company. In an email titled “A new beginning”, Sikka urged former employees to consider joining back, saying: “Our focus on finding new, exciting ways of working together has never been stronger. I have often heard it said that once an Infoscion, always an Infoscion. Friend, you stand testimony to this fact, and I know I can look forward to our continued association and your support as an ambassador for Infosys.”
That plea has since started yielding results, with the number of returnees, which stood in the low teens on average in the last 12 months, now steadily rising. Infosys has long had a programme called “Green Channel” to woo back former employees into the company, but this time around special care is being put to make their return smooth.
“There has been an overwhelmingly positive response to the messages that have gone out to former Infoscions,” confirmed Srikantan Moorthy, executive vicepresident and head of human resources at Infosys. “I don’t have a definitive number because these are all people that apply for a position and then we look through and see how many have applied that were former Infoscions. But I can definitely say it will be more than 100.” He did not share details about the levels or roles at which people were returning or whether these included some high profile names.
This will be a shot in the arm for Sikka, who, in his first interview to ET since taking charge, had listed managing Infosys’ high attrition levels as one of his main short-term challenges alongside reviving growth. For the quarter to end-September, attrition stood at 20.1 per cent or one in five employees had left the company. Return of former employees will be perceived as a sign of renewed confidence in the company, and help Sikka and his executive team to attract talent in their attempts at rebuilding Infosys.
Bosses who are good listeners convey to their employees that they are valued and that what they have to say is important. Consequently, these bosses are not only well-informed but often have loyal, committed employees.
Most managers are constantly bombarded with data to be sorted through, decisions to be made and schedules to meet — hardly an atmosphere conducive to active listening.
Research, done in companies across the country, reveals that most managers spend over 60% of every day interacting with people. Up to 80% or more of that time is spent listening.
With so much important information coming at us through our ears, we can’t afford to miss much. That’s why it’s shocking to discover that these studies show that we forget 50% of a 10-minute presentation within 24 hours, and 25% more is lost by the next day.
Our listening habits are not the result of poor training, but rather the result of the LACK of it. We need to learn to listen the way we learned to read and write — systematically and with practice.
In the business place, like elsewhere in out lives, we need to listen between the lines to truly comprehend what is being said. Often, people hint at what they are really thinking, or have an undeveloped thought that needs to be drawn out.
If you miss these cues, you may be operating with only surface information. When a subordinate quits, a project fails or morale sags, you may have been forewarned, but you never really listened.
According to Drs. Ralph Nichols and Manny Steil, here are some of the bad listening habits we have acquired and what you can do about them.
In & Out Listening
We can listen four times faster than the average person speaks. The poor listener will daydream, particularly with a slow speaker. A good listener will evaluate, synthesize, weigh the evidence and listen between the lines for the feelings beneath the surface.
Red Flag Listening
To some people, words are like the proverbial red flag to the bull. Words like “new procedure,” “taxes,” “grievance,” can provoke strong emotions that shut down listening. Good listeners are sensitive to the feel of these emotional “hooks.” They keep their mouths closed and their minks open until the speaker has had a chance to finish his train of thought.
Prematurely Judging the Speaker or his Ideas
We sometimes decide too quickly that the subject or speaker is boring or makes no sense. The good listener will try to overlook the speaker’s delivery and seek out the content of the message. The skilled listener will also ask, “What’s in this for me? How can I use this information?” Furthermore, he will listen for central themes and ideas, not just for facts.
Preparing for the counterattack
We don’t like to have our pet ideas, prejudices and points of view overturned. When this happens, the poor listener will tune out and begin planning his own defense or a cross-examination of the speaker. (Red flag listeners often fall into this category, as you might expect.) Good listeners won’t judge until comprehension is complete.
When a topic is judged as too new, complex or too difficult, the poor listener mentally shuts off.
Good listeners will make a real effort to understand and will ask lots of questions. They will try to relate the information to their own experience and use their listening time to mentally summarize and look for central themes.
There is one thing you can do to enable you to overcome most of the bad habits mentioned above: paraphrasing. This repeating in your own words what you think the speaker meant, without interjecting your own opinion or questions, is the single most important listening technique.
Paraphrasing sounds like this: “In other words, your plan is to research the topic and prepare a proposal. Is that right?”
The components of paraphrasing are:
1. repeat a summary of the speaker’s thoughts and feelings;
2. use key words and phrases to avoid “parroting”;
3. always check with the speaker to make sure your summary was accurate;
4. if you are losing the train of thought, it’s all right to interrupt to paraphrase;
5. don’t insert your opinions or argue a point until the speaker has completed his comment.
It is particularly important to paraphrase when you are going to make a decision on the information, opinion or suggestion offered. And it’s equally important when your immediate reaction is to reject, ignore or disagree with what you’re hearing.
When you confirm your understanding of someone’s thoughts or ideas, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you agree with what is being said. When you say, “In other words, you’re saying…,” “So you feel that …,” you’re simply making sure you both share the same understanding of what is meant. This puts you in a position to take whatever action is necessary.
Even if you choose not to follow a suggestion or use an idea, the fact that you’ve taken the time to listen and understand is motivation. It meets the speaker’s need for recognition and strengthens the perception that his suggestions and opinions will be listened to and understood.
A 2013 AARP study found that nearly half of all older job seekers reported being overlooked for a job because of their age.
That’s why it’s so important that you not make yourself seem old on your resume, says author Marc Miller in a recent LinkedIn post.
“The format and contents of your resume says a lot about your age,” he says. And no matter how qualified you are, if your resume makes you “seem” older, there’s a good chance it’ll end up in the “no” pile.
“You do not want to be filtered out by the staff who are screening initial resumes and lose the opportunity to demonstrate your talents and skills,” he says.
To avoid this situation, Miller suggests you stop including these five things on your resume:
1. Your home address.
“For many years, we sent our resume and cover letter through the mail,” Miller explains. “We put our home address right on the top.”
Today there is no longer a need to put your home address on the resume, since it’s almost always sent electronically, he explains.
“If the employer needs your home mailing address, they can ask for it.”
2. Your Hotmail or AOL email address.
One telltale sign that you are over 50 is an aol.com or hotmail.com email address, or one from your cable provider, says Miller.
Create a Gmail account immediately.
3. Your home phone number.
Who under the age of 45 still has a landline?
“We ditched our home phone five years ago, and I am quite a bit older than 45,” Miller says. “If you still have a home phone and do not want to give out your cell phone number, get a Google Voice number.”
4. Double spacing after periods.
“I am going to go out a limb and declare that putting two spaces after a period is obsolete,” Miller explains. “It is how most of us were taught to type on a typewriter. Therefore, most of us who do this (I have taught myself to stop putting two spaces after a period and it was hard) are over 50 years of age.”
Miller says he has heard that this has been used as a method of screening out older candidates.
5. Your outdated skills.
Limit the skills you list on your resume to current and relevant ones.
“I could list that I wrote MS-DOS control programs, wrote machine level code developing word processors, managed IBM mainframe computers, and lots of other obsolete technologies,” he says. “Unless I was applying for a position that required these skills, all it tells the reader is I am over 50 years of age and maybe older.”