Wanted - Smart Humans

If you canvas what is being covered by the media and statements made by technology vendors, you might come away with the notion that we’re all just years—or even months—away from being able to have our own personal artificial intelligence (AI) assistants, and businesses will be able to enjoy off-the-shelf AIs that they can train to perform various complex functions.

It is seductive to imagine downloading open source AI software like Google’s Tensorflow or Microsoft’s CNTK and training it to perform trend analysis on sales over the last 2 years to identify your best customers. Or, use it to pore over customer service interactions and online forums to understand customer satisfaction.

The reality is that AI is still heavily-reliant upon smart, willing and trained humans in order for AI to behave in a manner that we would expect. Humans are needed to scope the problems, identify relevant examples and verify the results. Without humans as a guide, current AI is no more capable than a computer without software.

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Supporting our Local Economy

 

Jennifer Tavares - President - Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce

The Computing Center has been a member of the Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce since our founding in 1978. We work hard to support local businesses of all sizes and the vast majority of our clients are in Tompkins County. Please consider keeping business and personal purchases local.  It helps us all. 

You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy local—and that’s kind of the same.” – Unknown

It may seem a little early to mention shopping locally for the holidays—after all, I’m still picking up Halloween candy wrappers. Having accidentally started my holiday shopping during Ithaca’s Wizarding Weekend on Saturday, I feel like it’s early, too. I can share, however, that my purchase felt really good, because it was from a small, independent, locally owned business—which also happened to be a Chamber member.

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Halloween Superstitions

There are dozens of Halloween superstitions.  Here are a few of our favorites! 

  • If you hear footsteps trailing close behind you on Halloween night, do not to turn around to see who it is, for it may be Death himself! To look Death in the eye, according to ancient folklore, is a sure way to hasten your own demise.

 

  • The old Celtic custom was to light great bonfires on Halloween, and after these had burned out to make a circle of the ashes of each fire. Within this circle, and near the circumference, each member of the various families that had helped to make a fire would place a pebble. If, on the next day, any stone was displaced, or had been damaged, it was considered to be an indication that the one to whom the stone belonged would die within twelve months.

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Team-Team-Team

Our friend, Zach Shulman is a partner at Cayuga Venture Fund. In this recent blog post, he talks about the importance of the entire team, not just the management group or the superstars. 

You all likely know that most VCs consider the management team to be the top measure of potential success of the venture.  This post is not about that point, at least not directly.

I want to instead focus on the importance of the entire team (not just management) and the importance of making sure that the team can play together.   I am going to use my past weekend’s soccer experience as an analogy.

I organized and played on an Over 40 soccer team this past weekend in a small tournament in Ithaca.   There was no Over 50 bracket or I would have played in that!   So, there were 4 total teams in the Over 40 bracket.  Two teams from Ithaca (one of which was mine) and then one team from Vermont and one from Binghamton.  You are going to have to trust me that no matter how in good shape you might be, playing 4 soccer games in one weekend when you are over 40 means that you can barely walk come Monday.  Advil turns into candy.  

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Improve your eMails

Every day we see emails that we wish we could rewrite or not be included because of  a "reply all".  Read on for some tips on how to make your emails look more professional, more to the point, and increase the likelihood that they will be read.

Every day, inboxes are packed with more than one billion emails. For small businesses, the challenge to set yourself apart and establish what your business represents in a single email can feel daunting, but it’s easier than you think.

Follow these five simple—yet highly effective—strategies to convert the customer, close the sale, build your brand and continue to build your small business through effective use of business email.

  1. Create a custom email address for your business—Show you mean business, and get taken seriously with aproperly formatted email address. If you use your personal email, you’re not communicating all the potential your business has to offer. Instead, format your email asyourname@yourcompany.com.

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