The evolution of DOS

Do you remember DOS, with its simple black screen with the patiently blinking cursor? Its full name is Disk Operating System and last week marked its 30th birthday. To celebrate, I thought we should reflect on the changes it has undergone in the past three decades. DOS may be past its prime but is it gone from our lives? Was it merely a stepping-stone in the evolution of other operating systems?

 In 1981 IBM released the PC and the following choices for operating systems (OS).

  • IBM Personal Computer Disk Operating System – cost at the time: $40
  • Digital Research CP/M-86 – cost at the time: $240
  • SofTech USCD p-System w/Pascal – cost at the time: $695

It’s easy to see why DOS quickly became the OS of choice. It was the most cost effective and it was also the only one of the three that was immediately available. DOS dominated the realm of OS until the release of Windows in 1985. Windows, a Graphical User Interface (GUI), required DOS as a platform to run on but people quickly fell in love with its graphics and flash. Each version of Windows that was released thereafter needed DOS as a platform less and less.

When MS-Windows 95 came out it was released as a standalone system containing its own OS. It still included a small amount of 16-bit DOS code; I guess it still needed a little help from its friend.

But all good things must end. In 1996, Windows-NT was introduced and it was 100% 32-bit code. Though DOS and Windows parted ways it did not leave our lives.

There are many who are faithful to DOS.  They feel that its simplicity is both efficient and less problematic. Many feel that GUI’s have too many graphics that can muck up their systems. This is one reason why we see some computer manufactures installing DOS as the main OS in their computers. Current versions of DOS include: FreeDOS, ROM-DOS, and DR-DOS. Just like many people will always love and collect records, people will always love DOS and I see it celebrating birthdays for years to come.

The Influence of Space Technology in Our Everyday Lives

Last week we watched as the space shuttle Atlantis took its last trip into space. This marks the conclusion of the space shuttle program but if you look around your home or office you can observe proof of the impact the program has had on our lives. Thousands of technologies developed for the space shuttle program have been commercialized and applied in a assortment of ways to improve our daily lives.

When I think about NASA technology, I used to imagine space ships, rockets, highly magnetic boots, and of course freeze-dried ice cream. After doing some research, I realize just how many technologies have found their way into commonly used things in my life. There’s a NASA periodical called Spinoff that is focused on educating people about all of the commercialized ways technologies from the space program are used.

Here are just a few surprising things that have been developed due to the NASA space shuttle program:

Athletic Shoes – Blow rubber molding is a process developed to make helmets for NASA. It is now used in many running shoes as companies can make hollow soles and fill them with a shock absorbing substance. One common shoe that utilizes this is the Nike Air.

DustBusters – NASA commissioned engineers at Black and Decker to develope a computer program that would allow an electric motor to perform well without needing much power. Black and Decker brought it into our homes with the cordless power drill and the DustBuster.

Smoke Detectors – First created in 1970 for Skylab, America’s first space station, these devices have become so necessary that legally they must be installed in newly built homes.

Space exploration has inspired many things throughout time. Through the desire to improve and create new technologies for this purpose, NASA inadvertently improved our everyday lives. I’m sure in years to come NASA will continue to commission or develop new technologies that will impact us. But as we say good-bye to the space shuttle program we can rest assured that it will forever live on in our everyday lives.

What to Consider About Virtual Teams

Interacting with individuals from all around the globe is as simple as a click of a button. This considerably impacts our social lives and we are seeing more and more the effect this has on business. The virtual team, or geographically dispersed team (GDT), is a relatively new organizational strategy but the quantity of businesses that have embraced this strategy has grown significantly in the past few years. You may be asking yourself if it right for your business.

The idea that the level of productivity corresponds directly to the quantity of face-time a team receives is a misconception that is falling to the wayside. Managers are realizing that an individual’s motivation, the dynamics of the group, and the capabilities of each person can have a much more vital impact. Virtual teams permit more selectiveness when building the team, as location is not a factor. A manager can then find individuals who compliment one another and are self-motivated by the bettering of their personal careers.  Virtual teams can be a blessing to managers because of their productivity and the fact that they need less direct managing.

Virtual teams are not practical for industries and businesses that require physical interaction, but for companies thatdo not require physical proximity, implementing teams that interact remotely is not only feasible but can improve their processes. If you are considering the use of virtual teams in your business here are a few items to consider.


  • Recruitment based on expertise not proximity
  • Team members are able to work during the times when they perform most effectively
  • Teams consist of members who are self-motivated and self-driven
  • More accommodation for team members’ personal and professional lives
  • No commuting time or cost
  • Reduced overhead, because there is no physical location
  • IT expenses are lowered as most teams use web-based tools for collaboration
  • Managers can better evaluate the team’s performance because there are less social pressures


  • Less social interaction, which can be a demotivator for many people
  • Loss of trust among team members if there is not assurance that everyone is pulling their own weight
  • Creativity could possibly be stifled, because the physical dynamics are lost
  • Team members may overwork themselves as managers can not physically see the amount of time each task takes
  • Managers may lose track of the team’s progress, i.e. out of site out of mind

Virtual teams interact through a variety of technology including email, video and audio conferencing, and file sharing programs including Google Docs. Below are a few programs that can assist teams who communicate remotely.

  • Go to meetings – an economical method to have remote conferences
  • Yammer – a private social network for companies that enables quick communication and interaction
  • Drop Box – a free way to share files
  • Second Life – allows for interactive meetings with the use of avatars

If you would like more information on virtual teams in action, consider the articles below: 

Are we doomed for another tech bubble

Are we in the midst of a 1990s-style tech bubble? Some analysts think so.

Try this: Check out Google News and key in a search for ‘tech bubble.’ You’ll obtain a large amount of results. Fresh results.

But let’s pause for second. What, exactly, is a tech bubble? Here’s Investopedia’s definition:

Tech Bubble – a pronounced and unsustainable market rise caused by increased speculation in technology stocks. A tech bubble is highlighted by rapid share price growth and high valuations determined by standard metrics like price/earnings ratio or price/sales.”

Hmmm. Can we find proof of conjecture and inflated valuations?

Scanning the recent headlines, we have stories of acquisitions and IPOs (and impending IPOs) for a variety of hot domains, including LinkedIn.com, Pandora.com, Groupon.com, Zynga.com, and Twitter.com. And there are at the very least eleven billion reports and blog posts about Facebook’s eventual IPO.

If we’re in a tech bubble, it certainly has a social-media flavor!

So. Of these hot companies, how many are profitable? (This helps us gauge whether their valuations are inflated.)

  • LinkedIn – Earned $12 million in 2010 (its first year of profitability).
  • Pandora – Not profitable.
  • Groupon – Same story.
  • Twitter – A little!
  • Zynga – Way profitable! With a 35% profit margin in 2010.
  • Facebook – Quite profitable. With a respectable 25% profit margin in 2010.

Of course, simply because a number of of these businesses aren’t very profitable doesn’t mean they’re not brimming with profit potential. Look at Amazon.com. Launched in 1995, the business didn’t make money until 2004! But this past year the company’s net income was well over $1 billion and it is now threatening Walmart’s retail dominance.

In other words, a lack of profits today doesn’t a bubble make (necessarily).

And as Mashable columnist Jolie O’Dell notes, today’s tech climate is much different than those heady days in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when you had hundreds of startups with half-baked ideas and flimsy business plans getting insane opening day valuations. In 1999, the peak of dot-com mania, there were 308 IPOs. This year, by contrast, there have been 25, and several of them have been mature businesses with healthy revenue (e.g. LinkedIn).

O’Dell notes another major distinction between now and then: Internet usage. Back in the 1990s, relatively few individuals were online. According to the Pew Internet and American Life project, Internet adoption has almost doubled among adults since 1999. Today 77 percent of American adults are online. Among teens, the number is over 90 percent.

In the dot-com era, investors swooned for companies that didn’t have any users. The users weren’t even there. Today is unique. Examine Twitter. Sure, it has struggled to turn a profit, but at least it has a large, influential and expanding customer base. You couldn’t say the same for Pets.com, one of the biggest flops of the dot-com era.

But it’s still difficult to say with confidence whether today’s eagerness is rational or irrational. Again, go back to Google News. You’ll see good arguments on both sides

What is a QR Code

We’ve all seen the strange black squares that are constantly being photographed by smartphone users. They’re called QR codes, an innovative re-imagining of barcode technology. Originally used for tracking parts in vehicle manufacturing, these codes are now used in a much larger context. The application of QR codes is even finding new life in creative business ventures and interactive advertising.

What is a QR Code?

    A QR, or Quick Response code, is a distinct matrix barcode which is readable by specialized scanners and, more generally, smartphones. Because QR codes are two-dimensional constructs, they can hold thousands of alphanumeric characters of information much like the traditional barcode found on most purchased products. They are practical tools for business because of their ability to hold huge amounts of easily translatable information.

    When you scan or read a QR code with your smartphone, the code links you to web-enabled digital content. Much like when a barcode is scanned to generate the price of a given item in a food store, in a much more complicated way, when a QR code is scanned, increased numbers of information can then be generated.

How are QR codes used in Business?

    Making a QR code is simple. It’s a simple process of entering the appropriate data into a QR generator. There are several free versions of this code online, if you’d like to check one out try using the Kaywa generator.

    After you’ve created your QR code, you are able to print it on business cards, posters, billboards, or distribute it on the web. Once the code is available, prospective customers are able to scan the code using their phone and then access whatever data you would like them to see.

Why it works

    Creating a QR code is a unique way of creating an interactive ad campaign. You give the mysterious code to the audience; the audience deciphers the code and is then rewarded with the information you’ve coded. It adds value to that information by making it a fun activity. Though QR codes remain new to America, they have been a popular strategy for creating brand loyalty in Japan for over a decade. If you’re looking to generate a conversation with your prospective clients, consider using this innovative device.