Financial Freedom – Consulting Advice

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Commentary: Technology and the coming Mormon evolution – Salt Lake Tribune

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Commentary: Technology and the coming Mormon evolution – Salt Lake Tribune

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Salt Lake Tribune
Commentary: Technology and the coming Mormon evolution
Salt Lake Tribune
We're on the cusp of another major religious evolution — driven once again by the invention of a new technology that has upended the way we communicate. First, anyone with an internet connection can hop online and find truths about their religion that

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Study: Technology crammed into cars takes drivers' eyes off road – Bloomington Pantagraph

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Study: Technology crammed into cars takes drivers' eyes off road – Bloomington Pantagraph

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The infotainment technology that automakers are cramming into the dashboard of new vehicles is making drivers take their eyes off the road and hands off the wheel for dangerously long periods of time, an AAA study says.

The recent study is the latest by University of Utah professor David Strayer, who has been examining the impact of infotainment systems on safety for AAA’s Foundation for Traffic Safety since 2013. Past studies also identified problems, but Strayer said the “explosion of technology” has made things worse.

Automakers now include more options to allow drivers to use social media, email and text. The technology also is becoming more complicated to use. Cars used to have a few buttons and knobs. Some vehicles now have as many as 50 buttons on the steering wheel and dashboard that are multi-functional. There are touch screens, voice commands, writing pads, heads-up displays on windshields and mirrors and 3-D computer-generated images.

“It’s adding more and more layers of complexity and information at drivers’ fingertips without often considering whether it’s a good idea to put it at their fingertips,” Strayer said. That complexity increases the overall amount of time drivers spend trying to use the systems.

The auto industry says the new systems are better alternatives for drivers than mobile phones and navigation devices that were not designed to be used while driving.

The vehicle-integrated systems “are designed to be used in the driving environment and require driver attention that is comparable to tuning the radio or adjusting climate controls, which have always been considered baseline acceptable behaviors while driving,” said Wade Newton, a spokesman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.

But Jake Nelson, AAA’s director for traffic safety advocacy and research, said drivers took their eyes off the road and hands off the wheel while using infotainment systems in each of the 30 cars and light trucks, all 2017 models, that were tested in the study. The drivers used voice commands, touch screens and other interactive technologies to make calls, send texts, tune the radio or program navigation all while driving.

Clearly automakers haven’t worked hard enough to make the systems quick and easy to use, Nelson said. Researchers rated 23 of the 30 vehicles “very high” or “high” in terms of the attention they demanded from drivers. Seven were rated “moderate.” None required a low amount of attention to use.

Programming a destination into in-vehicle GPS navigation systems was the most distracting activity, taking drivers an average of 40 seconds to complete the task. At 25 mph (40 kph), a car can travel the length of four football fields during the time it takes to enter a destination. Previous research has shown that drivers who remove their eyes from the road for just two seconds double their risk for a crash.

Under pressure from the industry, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2012 issued voluntary safety guidelines to automakers for dashboard technology instead of enforceable safety standards. The guidelines recommend that automakers lock out the ability to program navigation systems while a car is moving. However, the ability to program navigation while driving was available in 12 vehicles in the study.

The guidelines also recommend automakers prevent drivers from texting while driving, but three-quarters of the vehicles tested permit drivers to text while the car is moving. Texting was the second-most distracting task performed by test drivers.

Drivers looked away from the road less when using voice commands, but that safety benefit was offset by the increased amount of time drivers spent interacting with the systems.

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Bannon rips Bush, Silicon Valley 'lords of technology' – Politico

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Bannon rips Bush, Silicon Valley 'lords of technology' – Politico


Steve Bannon is pictured. | Getty Images

Steve Bannon — the former Harvard Business School grad, Goldman Sachs managing director, and Hollywood mogul — cast California as a linchpin in the fight to halt the spread of what he called the globalist and elitist agenda. | Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

In a defiant speech to California Republicans, the Breitbart chief cast the state as a linchpin in the fight to halt the globalist agenda.

10/21/2017 08:30 AM EDT

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Issuing a defiant call to arms to grassroots Republicans, former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon railed Friday against dangerous “global elites” and the Silicon Valley “lords of technology” whom he said are robbing U.S. citizens of jobs, wealth and opportunity.

“They want all the benefits of a free society…all the benefits of this rules-based international order,’’ including lucrative trade deals and capital markets, he said, while “we the citizens of the United States…underwrite the whole thing.”

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Bannon also launched a blistering attack on a former President George W. Bush — who this week delivered a rebuke of President Donald Trump — casting him as a tool of those globalists.

“President Bush embarrassed himself,’’ Bannon said, referring to him as “a piece of work.” “It is clear he didn’t understanding anything he was talking about…he had no idea whether he was coming or going — just like when he was president of the United States.’’

“There has not been a more destructive presidency than George Bush’s,’’ he said to applause.

Bannon delivered the comments to a wildly enthusiastic sold-out crowd of 500 at the state GOP convention, where he was greeted with a standing ovation. Security was tight, with double lines of fencing outside the Anaheim Marriott, and lines of police officers on hand for protesters who promised to show up but never materialized in large numbers.

Delegates paid $100 for dinner with the former White House senior adviser who has returned to his post as Breitbart News executive chairman and many ponied up $300 for a gold-plated pass that included a VIP reception and a photo with Bannon — the kind of buy-in usually reserved for elected officials and rock stars. Entering the convention hall, Bannon was greeted with cheers and mobbed by party activists aiming to grab selfies.

In his address to California Republicans — much of it delivered off-the-cuff — Bannon aimed squarely at some favorite conservative targets, including sanctuary cities.

“You’ve got a very dangerous thing going on in this state,’’ said Bannon, likening California in 2017 to South Carolina in the 1830’s, a state he said also tried to “pick and choose the laws they want,’’ before it it pulled away from the Union.

“You are a sanctuary state — and trust me, if you do not roll this back, 10 or 15 years from now, the folks in Silicon Valley and the progressive left in this state are going to try to secede from the Union.”

But Bannon — the former Harvard Business School grad, Goldman Sachs managing director, and Hollywood mogul — cast California as a linchpin in the fight to halt the spread of what he called the globalist and elitist agenda. He urged Republicans to organize, rise up — and put up a fight to hold on to California House seats that are considered vulnerable in 2018.

“It’s time for California to start having some victories,’’ he said. “[Progressives] are going to drag us so far to the left that we’re going to hold those districts and Nancy Pelosi is not going to get her opportunity to impeach the president of the United States.”

Bannon, in his 40-minute address, didn’t disappoint an adoring crowd, casting himself as a populist conservative and political pugilist who has kicked off an epic battle between old guard, establishment Republicans and his army of activist followers in the 2018 midterms.

To many in the audience who greeted Bannon’s speech with cheers and shouts, the Breitbart executive’s decision to take his fight to solidly blue California — a state where Democrats hold a 15-point voter registration advantage, every major statewide office and super-majorities in both houses of the legislature — served as a shot of adrenaline to a state party that has slipped to near irrelevance.

Some Republicans greeted Bannon’s choice of targets with praise.

Harmeet Dhillon, the San Francisco attorney who is also a member of the Republican National Committee — and who represents James Damore, the Google engineer who was fired earlier this year after writing a controversial memo on diversity — said she welcomed Bannon’s focus on Silicon Valley..

“For every James Damore, there’s a thousand others who get fired,’’ said Dhillon, who has also represented UC Berkeley College Republicans in their efforts to bring conservative speakers like Milo Yiannopoulos to campus. “Silicon Valley corporations like Twitter, Google…systematically suppress the voices of conservative bloggers, voices and citizens. So think they should be taken to task on free speech issues.”.

But other activists in attendance expressed concerns that Bannon was overly divisive.

Conyers Davis, who worked in George W. Bush’s administration, said after the speech that Bannon’s rhetoric was “really scary,” contrasting it with what he called a message of civility from Bush in New York the previous day.

Bush, he said, is a “proven winner. And if you look at the current administration, they’re doing anything but winning.”

Yet Bannon’s attacks on establishment politicians were generally well received. When he mentioned Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain — the former POW whose name was met with boos — someone in the audience yelled, “Hang him!”

Here in Orange County, the once-vaunted stronghold of Republican conservatism, Bannon’s presence fired up hard-right conservatives who charged that the collapse of the California GOP is directly related to efforts to moderate the party message and capitulate on issues like illegal immigration, anti-terrorism efforts, free trade and globalism.

“Intellectually and ideologically, the energy of what is left of the conservative movement here is absolutely with Bannon — and he’s the only reason a lot of these people are coming to the convention,’’ said Tim Donnelly, a former state assemblyman and co-founder of the Minutemen — and a self-declared member of Bannon’s “anti-establishment” wing of the party.

Bannon’s draw is that he represents the “complete opposite” of establishment state GOP leaders like its chairman Jim Brulte, a former state senator, whom Donnelly charged has “turned the party into “Democrats lite,’’ and “wants to hand over the state to people who are in the country illegally, at the cost of the future of California’s kids.”

Donnelly last week became the first California candidate to seize on Bannon’s call for “war,’’ and launched a challenge against GOP Rep. Paul Cook, charging that he alone will “have President Trump’s back” on key issues. Donnelly met with Bannon prior to the speech — but the Breitbart executive has yet to endorse any candidates in California races.

Bannon sought to reassure the embattled party activists that the GOP could take back the reins in a majority-minority state that is increasingly tacking to the left.

“It looks like now, it’s impossible to do anything in California,’’ he said. “The media’s against you, the culture’s against you…[but] you have got everything you need to win…you’ve got big ideas, you have the grassroots, you’ve got muscle.”

He urged conservatives to support Trump’s agenda,’’ adding “the future of this state is in your hands, I mean that.”

Bannon is not universally known among California Republicans, but he has considerable support. Among California Republicans, 41 percent view Bannon favorably and 33 percent unfavorably, according to a poll of California voters by Sextant Strategies for Capitol Weekly.

Still, some centrist Republicans expressed concern that Bannon’s appearance would be taken as a signal that in California — birthplace of the Reagan Revolution — the GOP grassroots is ready to embrace some of the strategist’s nativist, “alt-right” positions.

Luis Alvarado, a longtime party strategist who has declared himself a #NeverTrump Republican, said he could only hope that Bannon’s address “will not be something that causes harm” — a reference to white nationalist, anti-immigrant and anti-Semitic groups who have appeared to be energized by both Breitbart coverage and Bannon himself.

Democrats wasted no time fundraising on Bannon’s address, with Congresswoman Nanette Barragan sending out a letter reminding Democrats that “the same guy who runs a website promoting white supremacists and Neo-Nazis is being embraced by California Republicans.”

And billionaire activist Tom Steyer — who is reported to be launching a $10 million ad campaign aimed to getting out a message to impeach Trump — tweeted that “California is doing just fine without the racist, divisive blather that Mr. Bannon is peddling.”

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Technology guides small donations to candidates – Santa Fe New Mexican

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Technology guides small donations to candidates – Santa Fe New Mexican

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An online fundraising platform in the vein of PayPal has helped Democratic congressional candidates in New Mexico round up small contributions ahead of 2018 elections.

Campaign finance disclosures filed with federal regulators this week showed several Democratic congressional candidates using ActBlue to raise large sums of money in small increments, gathering as much as $59,000 for one candidate over a three-month span.

ActBlue is reserved for Democratic candidates. Republicans don’t have an equivalent conduit for online contributions, but they can chose from a variety of online fundraising platforms and consultants with proprietary technology.

State Democratic Party Chairman Richard Ellenberg said Tuesday that the fundraising platform makes it easy for people to make political contributions in small amounts at any time with a credit or debit card. That fits into the party’s strategy for widening its base of financial support, he said.

“It’s taking on more of a presence now,” he said. “I think people are focusing increasingly in the party on trying to raise more in small donations so that we expand our financial base and aren’t dependent on a few large players.”

Democratic candidates in New Mexico appeared to be reporting the sources of small individual donations under $200 collected through ActBlue, even though it is not required by federal campaign rules. ActBlue says it bills campaigns on average about 4 percent of funds raised, for transaction costs and other expenses.

Among candidates for an open Albuquerque-based congressional seat, former state Democratic Party chairwoman Debra Haaland reported contributions of $59,000 that flowed through ActBlue from July through September. She raised $110,000 overall.

Also through ActBlue, former law professor Antoinette Sedillo Lopez received $42,000, and former U.S. Attorney Damon Martinez received $50,000.

At the same time, a Republican congressional candidate in New Mexico’s southern district raised the most money overall. Former Hobbs Mayor Monty Newman reported raising $317,000 in the campaign to succeed Republican Congressman Steve Pearce, who is running for governor.

ActBlue also operates as a political action committee in New Mexico to channel donations to candidates for state office, including gubernatorial candidate and U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham of Albuquerque, who won’t run for re-election to Congress.

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Designing the technology of 'Blade Runner 2049' – Engadget

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Designing the technology of 'Blade Runner 2049' – Engadget

This article contains spoilers for ‘Blade Runner 2049’

There’s a scene in Blade Runner 2049 that takes place in a morgue. K, an android “replicant” played by Ryan Gosling, waits patiently while a member of the Los Angeles Police Department inspects a skeleton. The technician sits at a machine with a dial, twisting it back and forth to move an overhead camera. There are two screens, positioned vertically, that show the bony remains with a light turquoise tinge. Only parts of the image are in focus, however. The rest is fuzzy and indistinct, as if someone smudged the lens and never bothered to wipe it clean.

Before leaving the room, K asks if he can take a closer look. The blade runner — someone whose task it is to hunt older replicants — dances over the controls, hunting for a clue. As he zooms in, the screen changes in a circular motion, as if a series of lenses or projector slides are falling into place. Before long, K finds what he’s looking for: A serial code, suggesting the skeleton was a replicant built by the now defunct Tyrell Corporation.

Throughout the movie, K visits a laboratory where artificial memories are made; an LAPD facility where replicant code, or DNA, is stored on vast pieces of ticker tape; and a vault, deep inside the headquarters of a private company, that stores the results of replicant detection ‘Voight-Kampff’ tests. In each scene, technology or machinery is used as a plot device to push the larger narrative forward. Almost all of these screens were crafted, at least in part, by a company called Territory Studios.

The London-based outfit is known for developing on-set graphics. These are screens, or visuals, that the actor can see and, depending on the scene, physically interact with during a shoot. They have the potential to raise an actor’s performance while creating interesting shadows and reflections on camera. Each one also gives the director more freedom in the editing room. If you have a screen on set, you can shoot a scene from multiple angles and freely compare them during the edit. The alternative — tailoring bespoke graphics for specific shots — is a time-consuming process if the director suddenly decides to change perspective in a scene.

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Territory has worked on a bevy of science-fiction films including Ex Machina, The Martian and Guardians of the Galaxy. One of its earliest and most prolific projects was Prometheus, the divisive Alien prequel directed by Ridley Scott in 2012. The team was hired to design the computers and screens inside the titular spaceship, which is ultimately overrun by an alien virus. The bridge, the medical area, the ship’s escape pods — Territory designed them all. In post, the company also handled the crew’s hypersleep chambers, medical tablets and the HUD system that wraps around their POV helmet-cam feeds.

During the project, Territory worked with Paul Inglis, the film’s senior art director, and Arthur Max, the production designer. Years later, David Sheldon-Hicks, co-founder and creative director at Territory, was talking on the phone with Max about Alien: Covenant. Instead, Max suggested that he reach out to Inglis about Blade Runner 2049. “So I dropped him an email,” Sheldon-Hicks recalled, “and said, ‘If you’re on the project I think you’re on, I will give you my right arm to put us on there.'” Inglis laughed and told him that unfortunately, Territory would have to go through a three-way bid for the contract.

It was a big moment. The original Blade Runner is considered by many to be the greatest sci-fi film ever released. Directed by Scott in 1982, it stars Harrison Ford, fresh off The Empire Strikes Back, as retired police officer Rick Deckard. He’s forced to resume his role as a blade runner, tracking down a group of replicants who have fled to Earth from their lives off-world.

Blade Runner is a beautiful noir film filled with rain and neon lights. Based on the Philip K. Dick novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sleep, it explores some heavy themes, such as what it means to be human, the importance of memories and how our obsession with technology could lead to societal and environmental decay. Critics had mixed reactions upon its release, but over time, the film’s reputation has grown to the point where it’s now considered a classic.

Blade Runner 2049 was, therefore, a huge creative gamble. Territory was awarded the contract in March 2016, before director Denis Villeneuve had released his award-winning sci-fi movie Arrival. The French Canadian was highly regarded, however, for his work on Prisoners, Enemy and Sicario. He had proven his ability to make powerful, thoughtful and visually stunning movies. Still, the stakes were enormous. So much time had passed since the original Blade Runner, and so many movies had riffed or expanded upon its ideas. To succeed, Blade Runner 2049 would need to be something special.


Peter Eszenyi was Territory’s creative lead on Blade Runner 2049. He joined the company in 2011 to help Sheldon-Hicks with some idents for Virgin Atlantic’s in-flight entertainment system. Eszenyi quickly moved on to movies, however, helping the team create computer screens, drone footage and satellite imagery for the 2012 political thriller Zero Dark Thirty. He’s since worked on Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron and the live-action adaptation of Ghost in the Shell, to name just a few.


Peter Eszenyi, Territory Studio’s creative lead on Blade Runner 2049.

The company’s work on Blade Runner 2049 started with a few cryptic calls. They were “terribly hard,” Eszenyi recalled, because the film’s producers were so secretive about the project. Territory was given a vague list of screens, or sets, that the studio thought they could help with. One line just read “K Spinner,” for instance. But when Eszenyi asked for more information, the answer would always be the same: “No” or “We can’t tell you.” Despite the lack of information, Territory started working on mood boards, trusting that some eventual feedback would steer them in the right direction.

Inside the company, Eszenyi and Sheldon-Hicks were joined by creative director Andrew Popplestone, producer Genevieve McMahon and motion designer Ryan Rafferty-Phelan. (The team would scale up to 10 during the project, but these five were the core.) Together, they started looking for inspiration. The film’s producers had given them one critical detail about the world: a massive, cataclysmic event had occurred since the previous film, wiping out most forms of modern technology. Blade Runner 2049 would still feature computers and screens, however. It was, therefore, Territory’s job to help figure out what that meant and what everything would look like.

Inspiration came from all sorts of places. “It might be something you see in a shop window,” Popplestone said. “You might be walking around here and see a piece of furniture that’s made out of glass, or a sculpture, something like that.” The team found a lot, unsurprisingly, online. They scoured Pinterest and other sites for interesting sculptures and photography. Slowly, they curated their images into themes, or ideas, that could be organized as Pinterest boards. The team would then get together and chat face-to-face, discussing their ideas before breaking off and pulling together more reference points.

“I vividly remember debating bacteria,” Eszenyi said. “‘Can they use certain types of bacteria to create green colors. Or blue ones?” They thought about jellyfish that often wash ashore and turn everything a startling shade of blue. Could they be harnessed somehow to create a primitive color display? How would that work? At one point they were imagining bacteria that could be genetically engineered to change color. They thought about computers that could excite them to trigger a color-switch, thereby altering the image. But then there was the screen. “Would this display be fast enough to be usable?” Eszenyi asked. “Or would it be a slow-changing kind of thing?”


A month later, four of the Territory team visited Budapest, Hungary, where most of Blade Runner 2049 was being shot. For Eszenyi, it was a surreal experience. He grew up in Hungary and remembers watching Blade Runner in secondary school. In particular, he recalled the sweeping, electronic score by Vangelis and his literature teacher gushing over the ending with replicant Roy Batty, played by Rutger Hauer.


David Sheldon-Hicks, co-founder and creative director at Territory Studios.

With mood boards in hand, the Territory team were guided through studio security and into a meeting room with a table and a TV at the far end. It was completely empty, so the group started chatting amongst themselves. Then, suddenly, people started shuffling in. “We didn’t realise that, one, we’d meet Denis, or that he’d be there,” Popplestone recalled, “and, two, that it was going to be the entire visual effects team, and the producers as well.” Ten or 12 people in total took a seat. Then they all turned and looked at Popplestone. “So I was like, ‘Okay then!,'” he recalled. “Here’s what we’ve got…”

But the team needn’t have worried. Denis was warm but direct with his feedback. If something caught his eye, he would probe Territory about its meaning and how the group might develop the idea further. “It was always, ‘I like *this* because of *this*,'” Eszenyi said. “What would you want to do with this? Where do you want to take it from here?” Some concepts he dismissed immediately, however. Eszenyi, for instance, liked an artist who had drawn illustrations for the Soviet-era space program. Beautiful illustrations of quiet, analog vessels from the 1970s and ’80s. But they didn’t match up with Villeneuve’s vision.

The director disliked anything that felt too modern or sophisticated. If you could imagine it in a Marvel movie, for instance, he wasn’t interested. But if it looked optical, like a microscope or a projector, he took notice. Glass, lenses and harsh lighting. Villeneuve also leaned toward nature; images that felt organic and abstract. “The whole point of the story is that we don’t have digital-based technology,” Popplestone said. “So he wanted something that was completely removed from that.”

Before heading home, Territory visited the art department on set. The team was also given permission to step inside production designer Dennis Gassner’s room, which was filled with concept art and storyboards. At last, the group felt like they had a good grasp of the movie and the world Villeneuve was trying to build.

Back in England, Territory refined its ideas. At its Farringdon office, the team experimented with physical props and filming techniques. They tried shooting through a projector to see how different lenses would warp the final image. The group took macro photographs of fruit, including a half-eaten grape that someone had left in the office. Eszenyi even looked at photogrammetry, a technique that uses multiple photographs and specialized algorithms to build 3D models. It’s been used before to recreate real-life locations, such as Mount Everest, in VR and video games.


Territory Studios’ creative director Andrew Popplestone.

“It was almost like being back at university again,” Popplestone said. The group operated like art students, experimenting with techniques that might produce abstract images or textures. A meeting room was eventually dedicated to the project, which the film’s producers had code-named Triboro. “We just gave up on meetings,” Sheldon-Hicks said. “The project took priority.”

Eszenyi also became quite friendly with his local butcher. An assortment of “meat-based stuff,” including pig’s eyes started to gather in the office fridge, much to Sheldon-Hicks’ displeasure. “I was like, ‘Seriously, I’m getting takeaway for the next few weeks. I’m not going in there. It’s horrible,'” he recalled with a chuckle.

Blade Runner 2049 was challenging because it required Territory to think about complete systems. They were envisioning not only screens, but the machines and parts that would made them work.

With this in mind, the team considered a range of alternate display technologies. They included e-ink screens, which use tiny microcapsules filled with positive and negatively charged particles, and microfiche sheets, an old analog format used by libraries and other archival institutions to preserve old paper documents. When the group was ready to present its new ideas, it was Inglis, rather than Villeneuve, that looked everything over and provided feedback. Inglis was working closely with the director and was, therefore, familiar with his ideas and preferences.


Slowly, Territory narrowed its focus. The team started shaping its abstract ideas into assets, or screens, that could be formally presented to Inglis and the rest of the film’s producers. Around this time, the studio gained proper access to the art department and received a full breakdown of the work that needed to be completed. The team switched to Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator for its designs, applying animation in After Effects and professional 3D modelling software Cinema 4D.

“As soon as anything got too clean, or too fine, it was instantly going down the wrong direction,” Popplestone said. The team created and curated libraries of textures and optical, line-based layers inspired by its real-world experiments. Distortion, warping and other artificial techniques were used to give the screens a grubby but beautiful look.

Territory was eventually given permission to read the script. The team had to fly to Hungary, however, to skim through the pages in an isolation chamber. “I had roughly half an hour to read the script,” Eszenyi recalled. As such, he only had a rough idea of how the different sets and story sequences fitted together. Back in London, the team would constantly ask each other what they remembered from their brief time with the script. Thankfully, Inglis was always available to confirm anything they had forgotten.

“He was the arbiter of all information,” Popplestone said.


Near the end of the film, Deckard is handcuffed and bundled into a large spinner, which the team calls the Limo. It’s owned by Wallace Corporation and is, therefore, a luxurious vehicle. Up front, barely in shot, you can see the pilot and a few screens with monochromatic designs. They’re simple, sophisticated screens, conveying information with minimal dots and triangles.

That same design language can be seen inside the rest of the Wallace Corporation. It’s a sparse but immediately recognisable look. Territory’s goal was to build something that felt like Wallace’s own, personalized operating system. So specialized, in fact, that Wallace wouldn’t require the usual labels and iconography found on mass-market platforms like Windows and MacOS. It was designed for him, and is, therefore, supposed to be an extension of his tastes.

Wallace’s employees, of course, aren’t Wallace. So the implication is that everyone inside the company is using an operating system designed for someone else. “It speaks of corporate arrogance and confidence,” Sheldon-Hicks said. “And a power that is beyond needing to worry about the masses.”

The LAPD is a little different. K reports to Lieutenant Joshi, played by Robin Wright. The monitors in her office are chunky and the screens have a blue tinge to them. They’re functional and better than what most of the public has access to, but a far cry from what Wallace Corporation uses. It’s a reflection of how law enforcement and emergency services are run currently. The UK’s National Health Service, for instance, still uses Windows XP. Police often have to wait to acquire new technology for their department.

Layering that context into screen designs can be tricky. The technology had to look outdated for 2049, but given the time period, also relatively futuristic. “It’s old technology compared to Wallace,” Popplestone explained, “but it’s still advanced for us. So we had to make it look modern and more advanced than what we’ve got, yet still somehow slightly knackered and dilapidated.”

Territory also had to be mindful of the original film and the off-screen events that Villeneuve had envisioned between 2019 and 2049. It was a relatively straightforward task; the sheer length of time and the cataclysmic event (partly explored in the Black Out 22 short by Shinichiro Watanabe) meant there was little the team had to reference or honor. That was by design. Villeneuve wanted a world “reset,” so everyone on the project could freely explore new ideas. The film has Spinners, rain-soaked cities, and Deckard’s iconic blaster, but otherwise there’s little in the way of technological tissue.

“It was a completely clean slate,” Eszenyi said.

Almost every screen Territory produced serves a specific purpose in the story. They help K uncover a new clue, or learn something interesting about another character. But each one also says something more about the world of Blade Runner 2049. What’s common or unusual for people in different jobs and social classes. They hint at the state of the economy, the rate of innovation and how the development of artificial intelligence — replicant and otherwise — is affecting people’s relationships and behavior with technology.

“It’s a much more subtle, contextual narrative,” Popplestone said.

Take the market. Partway through the movie K stands in the middle of a square, contemplating a series of photos. The film is focused on these images, but in the background you can see large, illuminated food adverts. They’re square in shape, doubling as buttons that dispense orders like a giant gumball machine. Up above, animated banners advertise Coca-Cola and other food and drink products. It’s one of the few times Territory designed graphics that didn’t have a specific story function. They’re still a point of interest, however, providing a rare look at how people live in this future version of Los Angeles.

Territory also had to think about how its screens would look in relation to the camera. Some were filmed up close, while others were only visible in the background. It was important, therefore, that designs were readable at different distances. To test this, the team constantly squashed and scaled up its graphics to see what they would look like on screen. “Does it have the detail to have a close lens on it? And can you go wide, and blur it out, and still read it?” Sheldon-Hicks said.


When a computer or machine is shown on film, it needs to be believable. Sometimes, a static display will do. But others require animation and multiple screens, or loops, to be chained together. Early in the movie, for instance, K steps into his personal Spinner. The screens lining the dashboard change as a call from Joshi comes in, and K scans the eyeball of a replicant he was hunting earlier. These are subtle, but necessary transitions to sell the idea that the vehicle is real.

Every shot was different, but generally Territory provided screens with an initial state, an action state, and then a looping state. Some screens had additional action states, if they were required to pull off a particular sequence. The different states were then triggered by actors or production staff on cue.

Territory could, in theory, design and code full-blown applications. But for a movie like Blade Runner, that would be a costly and time-consuming process. After all, a screen is largely redundant once the scene has been shot. There are also the practicalities of shooting a movie. An actor’s focus is already split between the lights, the camera, the lines they need to remember, and the positioning of other cast members. If a screen or prop isn’t simple, it could affect their focus and the overall quality of the performance.

Territory’s graphics also have to serve the dialogue, changing with a certain rhythm or when particular lines are delivered. When Luv was looking for K’s location, for instance, there needed to be a search tool, followed by a map that clearly showed his whereabouts. In the real world, you would probably get the following confirmation or prompt in Google Maps: “by The Cosmopolitan, did you mean…?” In a film, however, where pacing is critical, these intermediary screens are unnecessary and detract from the film’s entertainment value.

“There are these push and pull factors of narrative versus reality,” Sheldon-Hicks said. “You don’t want to completely break away from reality. So we’re always treading this line, or threading this needle on set in quite a tricky way.”

Territory sent Rafferty-Phelan to Hungary to provide support while the movie was being filmed. There, he could answer questions and make last-minute changes required by Villeneuve or anyone else on set. These are normally small: sometimes the lighting is different than the team expected, or the director asks if some text can be adjusted. If the edits are minor, they can often be done on location by a member of the Territory team, avoiding difficult delays in shooting or expensive tweaks in post.

For Sheldon-Hicks, there’s another reason to send his employees out on location. They’re building a relationship with the director, who might want to work with them again in the future. It’s also an opportunity for the company to collaborate and learn from some of the best creative talents in the industry. “It’s like free training for me,” he said. “I’m being paid to send my team out and see how Scott or Villeneuve tells a story. Of course I’m going to send them out.” The more talented and experienced Territory becomes, the more likely it is to win contracts in the future.


Territory strives to deliver screens that can be shot with a camera on set. But there’s always a chance something will need to be changed in post. Some films require extensive reshoots long after Territory has wrapped up its work on set. Other times, the film requires a particular look, or flourish, that simply isn’t possible with current technology. Every project is different. On The Martian, for instance, Scott was able to shoot almost everything in camera. “The whole thing just went through in lens, done,” Sheldon-Hicks recalls. Ex Machina, directed by Alex Garland, was the same.

Territory has been hired in the past to work on films, such as Ghost in the Shell, while they were in post-production. That means delivering concepts or assets that can be added to the movie after shooting has wrapped. With Blade Runner 2049, however, the company’s work was finished once the cameras had stopped rolling. The team provided some resources so that other companies could tweak their work in post, but otherwise, its work was done.

Handing over control can be difficult, but it’s all part of the filmmaking process. “There’s just nothing you can do about it,” Sheldon-Hicks said. “You know that they’re all working to make the work better, and you don’t want your graphics to look beautiful but be in a movie that sucks. So we all kind of accept that.”

Eszenyi is “pretty sure” that parts of the morgue sequence were changed in post. It was a highly choreographed scene, with multiple props and screens, so the odds of a post-shot tweak were higher than other scenes in the movie. Still, it gave the actors real, visual cues to act off, and a basis for the graphical adjustment in post. So it’s not like Territory’s efforts were wasted. Even so, the team felt a mixture of emotions when they watched the first trailer in December last year. “It’s like, yeah, that’s my kid,” Eszenyi explained, “but she’s not two years old anymore, she’s 18.”

Blade Runner 2049 is a beautiful movie. The gloom of downtown Los Angeles and the harsh, radioactive wasteland of Las Vegas clash with the design decadence of Wallace Corp and the steely cold of K’s apartment. The film’s visual prowess can and should be attributed to cinematographer Roger Deakins and everyone who worked on the sets, costumes and visual effects. Territory’s contributions can’t be understated, however. By blurring the line between technological fantasy and reality, the team has made it easier to believe in a world filled bioengineered androids. Which is pretty cool for any fan of science fiction cinema.


Images: Alcon Entertainment (Blade Runner 2049); Nick Summers (photography)

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Buy Activision Blizzard For eSports – Cramer's Lightning Round (10/19/17)

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Buy Activision Blizzard For eSports – Cramer's Lightning Round (10/19/17)

Stocks discussed on the Lightning Round segment of Jim Cramer’s Mad Money Program, Thursday, October 19.

Bullish Calls

Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI): Buy ATVI, as it will be the king of eSports. Cramer’s trust owns it too.

Enterprise Products Partners (NYSE:EPD): It’s one of the few good MLPs to be in.

Xilinx (NASDAQ:XLNX): Xilinx is making a comeback. If it goes down, someone will buy it.

Global Payments (NYSE:GPN): “I like Global Payments. I like PayPal (NASDAQ:PYPL) more. I like MasterCard (NYSE:MA) and Visa (NYSE:V). I think this is a very smart area to be in,” Cramer said.

Tower Semiconductor (NASDAQ:TSEM): There are better stocks out there, but Cramer thinks this one’s fine.

Priceline Group (NASDAQ:PCLN): “I think you’re fine with Priceline. Priceline is a play on the way people travel in this world, and Priceline’s good. I did like Expedia (NASDAQ:EXPE) more, but the CEO left, so we have to make some changes.”

USG Corporation (NYSE:USG): It’s going to go up more, as it is the registered trademark of U.S. gypsum.

Bearish Calls

International Game Technology (NYSE:IGT): There isn’t much upside left here. Book profits.

Omega Healthcare Investors (NYSE:OHI): Cramer likes Ventas (NYSE:VTR) in this group.

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Buy On Pullback Is A Good Strategy – Cramer's Mad Money (10/19/17)

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Buy On Pullback Is A Good Strategy – Cramer's Mad Money (10/19/17)

Stocks discussed on the in-depth session of Jim Cramer’s Mad Money TV Program, Thursday, October 19.

Stocks sold off their highs on Thursday. “That’s when you need to go over all your notes that were written in a calmer moment after watching the show about what to buy, your shopping list and how, if you get a pullback that has nothing to do with the merchandise that you want, damaging just the stock but not the company, you should use it to pounce at sale prices rather than being so confused by the fog of war that you panic like everyone else,” said Cramer.

It began with Unilever’s (NYSE:UL) weak earnings and drop in Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) forecast. As every selloff is different, Cramer warned that simply buying recession-proof names will not help ad charts for these companies show more downside ahead. It’s best to buy the stock of companies that have recently shown strength on fundamental basis.

IBM (NYSE:IBM) showed it was at a turning point but Cramer thinks it isn’t pulling back. Adobe (NASDAQ:ADBE) wasn’t either at they pre-announced strong earnings. Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) will also maintain its gains due to strong earnings. Apple however may go lower as the iPhone 8 news gets priced in and that would be the time to buy it.

Companies that have reported strong earnings and got analyst upgrades should be looked at. “Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:ABT), down this morning after reporting a fabulous quarter yesterday. Unfortunately, the discount didn’t last past the morning. But if you caught it, hallelujah!” Cramer things FANG stocks are going down on profit taking, but he thinks Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOG) is worth buying after announcing $1B funding in Lyft (Private:LYFT).

“The buy on a pullback strategy is not a myth, it’s just that you need the guts to actually stick with your game plan when everything is getting crushed and everyone around you is panicking. And, repeat after me: nobody ever made a dime panicking,” concluded Cramer.

CEO interview – Skyworks Solutions (NASDAQ:SWKS)

As the tech world changes rapidly, semiconductor stocks like Skyworks have become important. The stock is up 38% for the year and they had a good last quarter in July. Cramer interviewed CEO Liam Griffin to know what lies ahead.

When asked about the cellphone market saturating, Griffin said, “I think the cell phone market is incredibly healthy and it’s really about the data; this mobile internet economy is incredible. It’s what we do at work, how we play, how we educate, how we interact socially. That’s not changing.” The top five companies in the S&P500 are all mobile-centric companies. “Mobile growth is really the catalyst behind what we do, and that forces companies like Skyworks to develop more creative engines to make that mobility happen,” he added.

Commenting on the current telecom spectrum, Griffin said that it is in a digital traffic jam. 3G and 4G will not be enough to handle the numbers of mobile users in the world soon and hence 5G is the next thing. “5G is going to solve this. It’s going to be a brand new network. If you look at the five billion mobile subscribers that are walking around this earth today, and two billion without a phone, the five billion 3G and 4G users will upgrade to 5G. New frequencies, new filtering, new technology for us. So all of that is forward-looking.”

The company has a good cash position and they have been able to double their revenues in the last four years and increase their operating margin to 40%.

1987 market crash

Cramer remembered the major market crash of 30 years ago. The black Monday in 1987 had a bad crash that wiped out 20% of the market value. “But as bad as Black Monday was, believe it or not, it was the next day; Terrible Tuesday, as it was known back then that really scared the bejesus out of people,” said Cramer.

Nothing worked on Tuesday. “It was as if the world had ended and it didn’t matter what you owned, it was going to be beaten down to a pulp by the endless cascade of Chicago S&P futures raining on the New York Stock Exchange,” said Cramer. He had started his fund in Feb 1987 and he got a call from Karen Cramer who was a trader at a large institutional firm to sell everything. He sold his entire position apart from small holdings in JNJ and the put option made him $100K.

However, it was unclear whether he will be paid or not. When the then Fed chairman announced liquidity, things started to get normal. Cramer received the money in the following week. Everyone asks Cramer if he took advantage of the market as the economy was healthy, to which he said, “First, you didn’t know the economy was sound. Markets are supposed to be forecasting machines, and even though the economy seemed strong, you simply could have no confidence that it would stay that way after two disastrous days. Second, and more important, there was no, what we call, price discovery. You just couldn’t get a market of any size because nobody could figure out what the prices should be for great American companies. The market flat-out failed.”

People are comparing the markets today to that of 1987. “My takeaway is that while the machines do rule, at least we have circuit breakers that slow things down and make it so the market does function, albeit at times in a fashion that forces you to use limit, not market orders, so you don’t get picked off as many were in the flash crash a few years ago,” he concluded.

CEO interview – Winnebago Industries (NYSE:WGO)

Winnebago Industries is the maker of motorized and towable recreation products along with support and services business. Their stock went up by 3% on strong earnings and is up 44% for the year. Cramer interviewed CEO Michael Happe to know what lies ahead.

“Winnebago has been synonymous with the RV lifestyle throughout its history. But what we’re seeing today is really this race for people to get outdoors and create memories and create experiences,” said Happe.

They are on a high growth trajectory and are investing to increase capacity to meet market demand. They have recently acquired RV maker Grand Design and the industry experts highest level of RV shipments in 2017.

Happe added that 80% of the RV owners still want to be connected when on the road. Hence their new products are equipped with technology to enable them.

Viewer calls taken by Cramer

Advanced Auto Parts (NYSE:AAP): Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) entering auto-parts business is hurting the company. Don’t buy.

Tutor Perini (NYSE:TPC): The infrastructure situation is very hard in the US. Don’t buy until the situation improves.

Government Properties (NYSE:GOV): Looking at the political landscape, Cramer doesn’t feel the certainty for the stock.

Blackstone (NYSE:BX): They have and raised a lot of money. It’s a plain buy.

Freeport-McMoRan (NYSE:FCX): It needs China to be on fire to go up. There are better stocks to buy.

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Boeing invests in autonomous flight technology maker Near Earth Autonomy – ZDNet

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Boeing invests in autonomous flight technology maker Near Earth Autonomy – ZDNet

Boeing’s venture capital unit HorizonX is continuing its investment in autonomous technologies, recently backing Near Earth Autonomy, a Pittsburgh-based company that develops technologies to enable safe and reliable autonomous flights.

The aerospace giant announced the investment on Thursday, but did not disclose the amount it has invested in the company.

Near Earth Autonomy, which was spun out of Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute, develops software and sensor technology for three-dimensional mapping and survey, motion planning, and landing zone assessment, among others. Its products are aimed at enabling aircraft to operate autonomously.

According to a Washington Postreport, the company has developed self-piloting surveillance drones that can navigate underground pathways, and is exploring ways for autonomous planes to navigate without reliance on GPS satellites.

The company is additionally exploring commercial applications for its autonomous flight technology, the report states.

Moving forward, Boeing and Near Earth Autonomy will partner on urban mobility projects.

“This partnership will accelerate technology solutions that we feel will be key to unlocking emerging markets of autonomous flight,” Steve Nordlund, Boeing HorizonX vice president, said in a statement.

In April, Boeing, alongside JetBlue Airways, invested an undisclosed amount in Zunum Aero, a Kirkland, Washington-based startup that is developing short-haul electric aircraft to sell to major carriers for service on frequently travelled regional routes such as Boston to Washington DC, and San Francisco to Los Angeles.

At the time, the three-year-old startup said it was amidst building an aircraft that can accommodate 10 to 50 passengers as well as travel up to 700 miles initially, and as much as 1,000 miles by 2030.

Earlier this month, Boeing announced its intention to acquire Manassas, Virginia-based Aurora Flight Sciences Corp to help it advance the development of autonomous, electric-powered aircraft that can fly for extended periods of time.

Aurora had previously collaborated with Boeing aircraft for military and commercial applications — and recently said it was working with embattled ride-hailing company Uber to create and test out a network of about 50 aerial taxis for passengers to hire by 2020.

The companies said in August it had conducted one successful test flight and plan to run trials in both Dallas and Dubai.

HorizonX, which was launched in April, had additionally invested an undisclosed amount in Upskill, a Washington-based startup that provides software for industrial augmented reality wearables. Its technology aims to boost productivity for manufacturers, field services, and logistics companies.

Boeing has used Upskill’s software, Skylight, to reduce production time by 25 percent for technicians installing 130 miles of wiring in the company’s 747-8 jumbo jets.

Boeing’s VC unit has three focus areas: Investing in new ventures, identifying business opportunities for the company’s aerospace capabilities, and assessing innovations such as autonomy, artificial intelligence, and additive manufacturing.

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New car owners blast technology in Consumer Reports reliability survey; Toyota does well – Chicago Tribune

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New car owners blast technology in Consumer Reports reliability survey; Toyota does well – Chicago Tribune

Drivers are displeased with new car technologies such as confounding infotainment systems, according to the annual reliability study released by Consumer Reports on Thursday.

The problems are so widespread, buyers are urged to stay away from new car tech until things improve.

“These new technologies can add features and improve fuel efficiency, but are more prone to have issues. More often than not, our data suggests it’s prudent for consumers to wait for the technology to mature,” said Jake Fisher, director of auto testing at Consumer Reports, an independent non-profit organization that has tested products for 80 years.

This year, drivers complained of “growing pains” in new car models throughout the industry. The survey “revealed that all-new or updated models are now more likely than older ones to have a wonky engine, a jerky transmission, or high-tech features that fail outright.”

Feedback, overall, includes new technology transmissions breaking down or shifting badly. Drivers of first-year models had twice as many complaints about in-car electronics.

“These new technologies can add features and improve fuel efficiency, but are more are prone to have issues. More often than not, our data suggests it’s prudent for consumers to wait for the technology to mature,” Fisher said.

Data indicates that automakers tend to fix glitches quickly, from one model year to the next.

The 2016 Hyundai Tucson SUV scored poorly with owners due to transmission issues, but complaints about the 2017 Tucson transmission dropped by more than half. And the in-car electronics of the 2017 Honda Civic are so improved the complaint rate was a third of what was reported for the 2016 version.

While the Tesla Model S earned an “above average” reliability for the first time, Consumer Reports is predicting the upcoming Tesla Model 3 will have only an “average” reliability score. The forecast by Consumer Reports, which makes predictions on every new and redesigned model, is based on the manufacturer’s history and data from vehicles that share major components.

“Electric vehicles are inherently less complicated than gasoline or hybrid alternatives,” Fisher said. “The Model 3 is the least complicated Tesla yet, and should benefit from what Tesla has learned from Model S.”

When it comes to the best electric cars, the affordable Chevrolet Bolt tied the luxury Tesla Model S with “above average” customer satisfaction.

Toyota is the top brand, while its luxury brand Lexus came in second, followed by Kia, Audi and BMW. Meanwhile, Cadillac, GMC, Ram, Dodge and Volvo got the poorest scores.

Consumer Reports’ auto testing chief Jake Fisher says Toyota’s strategy of adding new technology gradually — instead of all at once — helps make its vehicles more reliable. Toyota’s new Camry sedan, for example, has an eight-speed transmission that was first tested on the Highlander SUV.

Chrysler was the biggest climber in the rankings, thanks to consumers’ reviews of its new Pacifica minivan.

Consumer Reports predicts reliability of 2018 vehicles based on a survey of its subscribers, who owned or leased 640,000 vehicles from the 2000-2017 model years. 

For more information on the survey, or to get the latest ratings and scores for more than 300 models, visit www.ConsumerReports.org or see the December 2017 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.

Phoebe Wall Howard of the Detroit Free Press and the Associated Press contributed. 

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12 Outlooks New Technology Executives Need To Stay Ahead Of The Game – Forbes

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12 Outlooks New Technology Executives Need To Stay Ahead Of The Game – Forbes

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Shutterstock

Technology executives need to keep looking ahead at what’s coming, in order to prepare. Having a solid team helps you stay in the running, but you know that demand for certain skills, apps or programming languages can change, and quickly. Programs or skills that were hot things two or three years ago may end up on the wayside when the right innovation comes around. This means that paying attention to industry news, in order to best identify upcoming trends and flash-pan fads, is crucial to avoiding wasting your team’s time, or your company’s resources.

So what&nbsp;specifically can tech execs do differently today, in order to better find success? Members from&nbsp;Forbes Technology Council&nbsp;suggest the following:

1. Understand How Tech Drives Business Forward

One of the best ways we can equip ourselves to be successful in today’s business environment is to ensure that we have a deep understanding of our business and the role that technology plays in driving that business forward. – Ted Waggoner,&nbsp;Flash Global, Inc

2. Stay Abreast Of Tech Developments

Technology is changing at a faster pace than ever before. To be successful, technology executives need to stay abreast of technological advances and of new applications of that technology — both within and outside of their domains. But that is not enough. Transforming that knowledge into action is key, and the ability to make data-driven decisions becomes a critical success factor. – Mandar Parikh,&nbsp;Entytle Inc.

3. Increase Data Literacy At The Executive Level

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Shutterstock

Technology executives need to keep looking ahead at what’s coming, in order to prepare. Having a solid team helps you stay in the running, but you know that demand for certain skills, apps or programming languages can change, and quickly. Programs or skills that were hot things two or three years ago may end up on the wayside when the right innovation comes around. This means that paying attention to industry news, in order to best identify upcoming trends and flash-pan fads, is crucial to avoiding wasting your team’s time, or your company’s resources.

So what specifically can tech execs do differently today, in order to better find success? Members from Forbes Technology Council suggest the following:

1. Understand How Tech Drives Business Forward

One of the best ways we can equip ourselves to be successful in today’s business environment is to ensure that we have a deep understanding of our business and the role that technology plays in driving that business forward. – Ted Waggoner, Flash Global, Inc

2. Stay Abreast Of Tech Developments

Technology is changing at a faster pace than ever before. To be successful, technology executives need to stay abreast of technological advances and of new applications of that technology — both within and outside of their domains. But that is not enough. Transforming that knowledge into action is key, and the ability to make data-driven decisions becomes a critical success factor. – Mandar Parikh, Entytle Inc.

3. Increase Data Literacy At The Executive Level

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