10 Ways to Create a Human-Friendly Office

Some startups may get off the ground in a basement or garage, but once your business is big enough to have an office, it’s important to not just toss together a bunch of desks, chairs, and computers. Your office is where your company makes its money, and the office should be a comfortable, welcoming environment.

Want to make your office a happier place for your employees? Whether you have cubicles or an open-plan office space — both of which have their drawbacks — or private offices for each employee, there are ways you can make your office more comfortable. After all, happier employees are more productive, take less sick leave, and are more committed to their jobs.

Read the rest of the article on The Startup Finance Blog.

Why You Need SaaS Accounting Software for Your Startup

When you start making your first purchases for your startup, it’s easy to record them in an Excel or a Google Docs spreadsheet. You may be a spreadsheet whiz, or you you may have downloaded some free accounting templates on a website that helps people launch businesses.

Excel spreadsheets may pass muster for the first weeks, or even months, as you’re getting your business off the ground, but continuing to manage your books that way — and not using real SaaS accounting software for your startup — is simply the wrong thing to do. This is true especially when you seek investments or venture capital to grow your business; when you show potential backers your financials in a handful of spreadsheets, chances of errors are higher and it looks unprofessional.

There are certainly people who could maintain their financials for their SaaS startup in this manner. In these cases, they’d have to create very detailed spreadsheets with all the accounts and reporting elements of standard accounting. Spreadsheets like this would look a lot like accounting software, and the amount of time they’d take to set up — and verify — would be better spent on growing their business.

The disadvantages of using Excel for accounting for your SaaS startup is about a lot more than just the way figures look in a spreadsheet. There is so much that can be wrong in a spreadsheet that investors can’t take that sort of financial data seriously.

Read the rest of the article on The Startup Finance Blog.

Amazon’s ad business is both alluring and dangerous – Recode

Amazon’s business unit that primarily consists of advertising revenue registered another booming quarter this summer, growing to nearly $2.5 billion in sales during the three-month period, as Amazon announced yesterday in its third-quarter results.

The ad division’s fat profit margin — analysts estimate it could be as large as 75 percent — is a big reason why Amazon posted its largest quarterly profit ever in the third quarter. It’s also a big reason why the slowing growth of Amazon’s core online retail business isn’t a giant story in tech right now.

But Amazon’s ad business, for all its glitz and hype, does not come without significant risk: Namely, that an over-reliance on ads will ruin the Amazon shopping experience.

It’s already ruined. It’s been some time since search results on Amazon are helpful. If I search for, say, an author, I get one or two of their books, then ads for random self-published romance novels, then another book by the author, then more ads. If I click one of the books to view its page, I see more ads on the page. It’s the same for all types of products. When I look for something on Amazon now, I have to know what I want and by what brand. They’re killing the site.

Another example: I just searched for baking powder on Amazon UK. I wanted to buy some in bulk because it’s cheaper. The first two results are sponsored results for “Matcha green tea powder,” nothing at all what I’m looking for. They’re probably looking for “powder” as the keyword, which is, quite simply, stupid. Further down the page I get “No Egg (Egg Replacer),” then stevia, then face powder and silicone ice cube trays. Also lots of bicarbonate of soda, which, while close, is not what I’m looking for. Out of 22 results, only ten match my search. (Here is a link to the page; I’m not sure if everyone’s search results will be the same, or whether some of this has to do with my Amazon purchases.)

Source: Amazon’s ad business is both alluring and dangerous – Recode

The Unamericans

My motives for writing this story are conventionally American. I value my freedom to be what others may not wish me to be. I am proud to read whichever book I want, from The Satanic Verses to S&M pictorials to the speeches of Saddam Hussein. Although I sometimes write about politics, I do not consider myself political — or is it in fact political to hold some degree of disrespect for whichever fellow citizens have been set in power over me? In this, if Steinbeck is to be believed, I am very American: “Americans almost without exception have a fear and a hatred of any perpetuation of power — political, religious, or bureaucratic.” Yes, like my father, I am proud to be an American, at least sometimes. (Shortly before he died, in 2009, he told me: “I used to be proud to be an American. Now I’m ashamed.”) I’m proud that when I’m ashamed I can say so without being hauled off to a secret prison. I must love any government that allows me to excoriate it.

I am an aging man, more or less satisfied with life, self-employed, able to turn down jobs that don’t suit me, free to say no to almost anybody and accept the consequences. I have gotten out of the habit of being a “team player,” if I ever was one. I am proud of this American Way of Life in which I am, at least in my own view, anyone’s equal. These ideas that I have are predicated on the notion, common to my fading generation, that my private life is no one’s business.

William T. Vollmann, the polymath author of fiction and non fiction – most recently of the fascinating, yet frustrating, two volumes Carbon Ideologies (Amazon.com) – wrote this essay for Harpers in 2013 after he learned that he had been suspected of being the Unabomber.

At first, I do not mind admitting, I was thrilled to have something new to report to my friends. No other member of our circle had ever been mistaken for the Unabomber! Their expressions of astonishment flattered my vanity; I nearly mistook myself for someone important. But presently I began to feel offended, and when I learned that the Unamericans had watched me for years, indeed surveilled my house, I felt, as people say after burglaries, violated.

Read Life as a Terrorist: Uncovering my FBI file.

How to Spot Fake Product Reviews

When Amazon allowed customers to post reviews of the books they bought in 1995, it changed the way people chose what to buy. Reviews had long been the provenance of gatekeepers: at that time, the newspapers and magazines that published book reviews. As Amazon branched out into other products, these customer reviews took the place of those in print media that covered specialist subjects such as computing, photography, and more.

Now, reviews are everywhere and most people seem inclined to put at least some faith in them. How many times have you seen a product on Amazon or another site, or a restaurant or hotel, with four- or five-star reviews and been disappointed by it after your direct experience?

This is because the review system on Amazon (and other websites) has been gamed. In this article, I’m going to tell you how you can spot fake reviews and I’ll show you a couple of websites that can help you sort the real reviews from the bogus.

Read the rest of the article on The Mac Security Blog.

How to Tell If an Online Article is Real, Fake or a Scam

Fake news, scams, and phishing are the plague of our times. It’s getting increasingly difficult to determine which websites are presenting truthful information. I’m not just talking about political views; people can disagree about those, and while you may not like what you read on certain sites, that doesn’t mean, as some like to say, “it’s fake news.”

A Stanford University study of 7,804 students from middle school through college found that some 82 percent of them cannot distinguish between an ad labeled “sponsored content” and a real news story on a website. These findings present a real risk when visiting websites you’re not familiar with; and, not just for students, for everyone. How can you know if what you’re reading online is telling the truth or trying to scam you either directly—such as by trying to sell you something, or get your personal information—or indirectly, by spreading lies, or by sowing doubt?

In this article, we offer a few tips to help you sort the wheat from the chaff on the Internet. These tips will help you determine if an online article is real, fake or a scam.

Read the rest of the article on the Mac Security Blog.