AZCOMP Technologies October 2019

THE WIRELESS EARBUD EXPLOSION AirPods and Their Alternatives No tech product has seen a faster surge to ubiquity in 2019 than Apple’s AirPod earbuds. Walk a block in a major city, and you’re almost certain to see at least one person with the little white headphones dangling from their ears. True wireless headphones refer to any pair of earbuds that don’t require a wire between them. They

have become popular over the past couple years as a result of better Bluetooth technology that has increased their range and fidelity. While AirPods are the most popular model and a reminder of how good Apple’s design team can be, there are reasons to consider these two standout alternatives. THE KLIPSCH T5 TRUE WIRELESS earbuds are the best choice for those who prize sound quality above all. They are nowhere near as sleek as AirPods, but audiophiles will happily make that tradeoff. THE SONY WF-1000XM3 earbuds come with active noise cancellation, which makes them a great option for business travelers and others who need clear sound in crowded areas. They aren’t cheap, starting at $228, but they offer an unrivaled feature set.

Over the past generation, the two fastest growing subjects within primary education have been computer science and language learning. As a result, it comes as no surprise that tech startups are trying to find innovative ways to teach these increasingly vital topics. While the field of companies that makes coding fun is crowded, one business has separated itself from the pack when it comes to learning a new language. That company, Duolingo, has built one of the most envied brands in tech by making bilingual education fun and affordable. Duolingo was founded in 2011 in Pittsburgh by Luis von Ahn and Severin Hacker. Prior to co-founding Duolingo, von Ahn invented Captcha, those warped letters that provide an added layer of security for website information. With Duolingo, von Ahn, the company’s CEO, wanted to create a service that would allow users to learn a language without needing to buy expensive software or attend classes. To achieve that goal, Duolingo gamified language learning. The company’s chief service is a free app that delivers language learning in brief, enjoyable chunks. “The hardest thing about learning anything by yourself is staying motivated, which is why we decided to turn it into a game,” von Ahn says. “We added a lot of little things to get you addicted to learning.” With over 200 million active users, their plan is working. What’s even better is that they don’t charge those users anything for their service, which is a rarity in the app world. Duolingo is truly free, devoid of premium content and microtransactions. Users can pay for a version that is ad-free and accessible offline, but the learning experience is exactly the same across both tiers. With over 30 languages and counting, Duolingo only improves with each passing iteration. As it grows in popularity and investment, the sky’s the limit for what this little free app can accomplish. How Duolingo Became an Education Phenomenon THE NEW WAY TO LEARN A NEW LANGUAGE

AARON DIGNAN’S ‘BRAVE NEW WORK’ An Operating System for Your Entire Organization When you think of an operating system (OS), the first words that probably come to mind are “Mac” and “Windows.” Take a step back, though, and you’ll realize your entire business relies on a vast, complex OS to function. In many ways, the OSs we use to run our business are the real-life equivalent of MS-DOS. They don’t serve us well, and they create problems in a future-facing environment.

In “Brave New Work: Are You Ready to Reinvent Your Organization?” Aaron Dignan offers an alternative to the status quo systems and practices so many companies rely on. “Somehow, amid a period of relentless innovation … the way we come together as humans to solve problems and invent our future has remained remarkably constant,” Dignan writes. In the first part of the book, he lays out the history of the way we work, how it came to be, and why it no longer serves us. Then, he offers a new framework for operating in the form of the OS Canvas, which “highlights 12 domains where we most urgently need to question and reinvent our approach.” This canvas, which includes sections like workflow, resources, and structures, is an “embedded and interconnected” system rather than one that runs from the top down. If you find yourself running into operational struggles too often at work, it’s time to adopt a better way. “Brave New Work” can help you there.

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