In one of our previous posts, we highlighted the importance that making security a part of your organizational culture played in keeping your remote workforce secure during the COVID-19 pandemic. But what does that entail? In this post, we’re going to flesh out key steps that security teams and their leadership should take in order to make a strong culture of security a reality within their organizations.

1. Security culture is inseparable from the values of your organization’s leadership

Like any other organizational value, building a culture of security starts at the top. Invested stakeholders, usually starting with senior leadership, must cascade the types of cultural changes they wish to see by helping spearhead initiatives that will ultimately transform their organization. Although it is IT’s job to educate and engage with employees who break security policies and don’t follow security best practices, it would be very difficult for IT to function in an organization where leadership doesn’t embody the values needed to maintain a secure organization.

While security teams and leadership have historically talked past one another, there is a growing understanding that leadership must play a role in fostering a culture of security by investing in security teams and setting the expectation that security is taken seriously across the entirety of the organization. Luckily, a growing number of security teams have found a common language to discuss these issues with the board and C-level executives – the language of business risk assessment and security performance benchmarking. When security leaders and business leaders speak the same language, it’s then that business leaders will begin to understand their role in shaping their organization’s security posture. This will motivate them to enshrine security as one of the organization’s core values and enable processes like best practices documentation and security education programs to play a critical role in employee onboarding and training.

With this in mind, it might be challenging for organizations whose leaders don’t already appreciate the importance of security to adapt to the security challenges of remote work. Assuming these processes are in place within your organization, now is the time to update them to appropriately reflect the risks remote employees may encounter while working from home. However, if such processes are not in place, implementing them will obviously be a critical goal going forward.

2. Employees must be made aware of how important security is to the organization and how it impacts their work

Whether or not your organization has training and documentation in place, it’s a good idea to reiterate the significance of security best practices to employees through company-wide communications channels and remote events like security discussions and training. This is especially true given that many employees are adopting new technologies to work and collaborate remotely while facing new and emerging types of malware and social engineering. Your aim as you educate employees is to remind them that security is critical to the health of the organization and that the security risks they face effectively translate to job performance. Ultimately, an employee affected by a security incident will be unable to perform their duties making it very important for them to broadly grasp the types of cyber threats the organization faces.

3. As you educate employees tie it into personal learning

good security education program effectively serves a workforce development function. Getting employees to see this will improve employee buy-in and make them more readily embrace security education. In addition to the previous point of tying security education to organizational health and improved job performance, you should also highlight that security education will make employees good digital citizens which will help them in their personal life and in future roles. To reflect this mindset, security teams should whenever applicable highlight when security lessons apply both on the job and off the job.

4. Encourage employees to apply what they’ve learned

Building and revamping security education programs for the remote work era is only half the battle. Getting employees to apply what they’ve learned by identifying and potentially stopping incidents is the ultimate goal. Comprehensive security education programs should often be paired with periodic simulations (like phishing tests) where employees can demonstrate their security savvy. Employees and departments that are successful in identifying real or simulated incidents should be recognized for doing so during performance reviews and evaluations.

5. Build a security resource library

Most of this post has focused on the nature of security education and awareness programs; however, documentation is an important resource for employees as well. Good onboarding documentation, like your employee handbook, is critical to setting the expectation that security is important. However, your organization should more generally provide other documentation. In most cases, this will take the form of a security resource library which should contain plain language summaries of company security policies, as well as descriptions of cyber risks relevant to your company. You might also choose to include learnings from previous security training in the form of videos or other interactive content. Finally, you’ll want to ensure you’ve assigned a stakeholder to maintain this library and encourage employees to review it periodically so that they can stay up to date on what they need to know to stay secure.

If you already have such a resource, it’ll naturally be a great channel to provide employees with the lessons they’ll need to stay safe while working remotely. If not, it’s not too late to build one. You might find that some of your existing security content can readily be turned into materials to give remote employees the security insights they’ll need as they navigate the security risks of remote work.


This article was originally published at nightfall.ai


Featured Image Credits: Pixabay

Remember tokenized securities or securitization with tokens on the blockchain?

With the entire year in crypto defined by a maelstrom of projects embarking on decentralized finance (DeFi) aspects to their products, it can be easy to forget that previous advancements in blockchain-based technologies have continued to make great headway in terms of adoption and application.

Security tokens and tokenized securities 

In 2019 especially, with greater regulatory scrutiny on blockchain-based crowdfunding in the shape of initial coin offerings (ICOs), many projects sought to reconcile crypto’s much-maligned aspect of democratic fundraising with increasingly unforgiving regulatory compliance. Hence the proliferation of Security Token Offerings (STOs) that meant to replace ICOs as legitimate, law-abiding instruments to raise funds and issue securities through blockchain-based tokens.

It’s important here to distinguish between security tokens and tokenized securities — often used interchangeably, but hardly the same thing. In the former, blockchain technology is used to create new tokens that are a representation of real-world “securities”, ie. crypto assets that share some qualities as securities in the traditional sense. In the latter, we are talking about existing assets (securities) in the real world, that is expressed digitally… wrapped, if you will, in a token technology.

An overlooked breakthrough

Put in another way, security tokens create a token and create securities, but tokenized securities simply digitalize existing securities. That really is something that solves a major problem with traditional securities, which makes it somewhat surprising that it hasn’t been picked up more.

Tokenizing securities immediately helps with widening the market and improving their liquidity. In addition, it’s not a new product so it isn’t so much something for regulators to look at, it simply is a new, digital channel for distribution, which actually makes tokenized securities simpler to approve.

They’re not just an idea, they’re already here.

Because tokenizing securities are comparatively simple to do, there actually have been quite a number of them entering the market. Last year, we saw traditional funds as 22X Fund put together a tokenized fund (with money raised through an ICO in fact in 2018) to invest in 22 startups. But SPiCE will argue it was even earlier, as the VC fund set up in 2017 and lays claim to being the first tokenized VC fundable to offer immediate liquidity for venture capital — which otherwise takes years to liquidate!

This year, AllianceBlock, which is building the “world’s first globally compliant decentralized capital market” partnered with another blockchain firm AIKON for a secure blockchain-based identity management service — making decentralized finance services accessible to all, and securing that access with the blockchain.

The data already shows that the coming years will see securities very soon fully digitized and empowered by blockchain. From owning a small share in your favorite soccer club to fractional ownership of pizza restaurants in a country halfway around the world from you, using blockchain for authentication is spelling out a way for $256 trillion worth of real-world assets, mostly illiquid as physical representations, to go digital.

As they say in blockchain, tokenized securities are a matter of when not if.


This article was originally published at aikon.com


Featured Image Credits: Pixabay

There’s every indication that the pandemic is changing the nature of cybersecurity. Online threats are evolving to match our new remote-work paradigm, with 91% of businesses reporting an increase in cyber attacks during the coronavirus outbreak.

Hackers are getting more and more sophisticated and targeted in their attacks. Many of these cyber threats have been around for a while, but they are becoming harder for the average user to detect. Beware of these four common types of cyber threats – and learn what you can do to prevent them.

Advanced phishing attacks

Phishing takes place when a hacker tricks an individual into handing over information or exposing sensitive data using a link (with hidden malware) or a false email. These types of security threats are quite common, but in recent months they are becoming even more advanced.

Microsoft’s recent survey of business leaders in four countries found that phishing threats are currently the biggest risk to security. Since March, 90% of those polled said that phishing attacks have impacted their organization, and 28% admitted that attackers had successfully phished their users. Recently, phishing emails have targeted enterprises to capture personal data and financial information using one of the following tactics:

  • Posing as a provider of information about COVID-19 vaccines, PPE, and other health and sanitation supplies
  • Creating false “portals” for business owners to apply for government assistance and stimulus funds during the economic shutdown
  • Using download links for platforms and tools that help remote teams communicate, such as video conferencing
  • Posing as “critical update” downloads for enterprise collaboration solutions, such as Microsoft OneDrive, and social media applications
  • Targeting IT service providers that ask for payment in order to provide tech support.

Phishing is so effective because it can be very hard to recognize and targets individual people, rather than IT vulnerabilities. Yet, they are still ways to lower your risk of phishing.

How to prevent phishing: The best chance to prevent phishing attacks is to educate your teams on what to look for in a phishing message. Poor spelling and grammar, as well as an email address that doesn’t match the user, are telling signs of a phishing message. If an offer seems too good to be true, it is a good sign you’re being scammed.  In addition to user education, you can add multi-factor authentication and other interventions to stop phishing messages from getting through. “Spam filters with sandboxing and DNS filtering are also essential security layers because they keep malicious emails from entering the network, and protect the user if they fall for the phishing attempt and end up clicking on a malicious hyperlink,” said one security expert told ZDNet.

Ransomware

Ransomware is a type of security threat that encrypts a victim’s files so they can’t access their information. The hacker then asks for a ransom – usually payment – to restore access and decrypt the user’s data.

Perhaps the most notorious recent example of a ransomware attack is that of Garmin. In July, Garmin – a navigation and fitness wearables company – was hit by a ransomware attack that downed service for virtually every Garmin customer.  “Hackers deployed the ransomware tool WastedLocker, which encrypts key data on a company’s digital infrastructure,” reported Cyber Security Hub. “In the case of Garmin, website functions, customer support, and user applications were all affected. Unlike typical ransomware software, WastedLocker does not steal identifying information and holds it for ransom. Instead, it renders programs useless until decrypted.” Garmin reportedly paid $10 million for the decryption key to resume services after four days of outages.

Garmin isn’t alone, however. There’s been a seven-fold increase in ransomware attacks this year targeting companies of all sizes. So, what can your organization do to protect itself?

How to prevent ransomware: First and foremost, it’s important to make sure your security protocols are kept airtight – and apply security patches as quickly as possible to prevent hackers from exploiting vulnerabilities. A tool like Nightfall can make it easier to maintain a strong defense, with AI monitoring your network for any issues. Multi-factor authentication can also prevent hackers from getting too far into your system. And, you should regularly back up your system so if a cyber ransomware attack does happen, you’ll be able to recover some data.

Password-based cyber attacks

password-based cyberattack is one that targets users who have the same password for multiple sites. Research from the World Economic Forum found that 4 out of 5 global data breaches are caused by weak/stolen passwords.

There are several different ways a hacker can infiltrate your system using a password-based cyberattack. The most common method is known as a brute force attack. This attack uses a computer program to try to login to a user’s account by trying all possible password combinations, starting with the most common and easiest to guess options – for instance, “1234” or “abcde”.  Sensitive data like passwords, credentials and secrets are in constant danger of exposure, especially as more companies conduct the majority of their business in the cloud. The highly collaborative and always-on nature of cloud services makes it hard to enforce good password practices. Therefore, organizations need data loss prevention (DLP) to secure essential data from being exposed.

How to prevent a password-based attack: make it easy for users and security teams alike to circumvent the risk of password attacks by implementing password-free authentication methods. This is a type of authentication that requires a user to confirm their identity during the login process through a separate channel. This extra step can also protect your workspace in case there’s any account compromised or if a device gets stolen.

IoT and smart medical devices 

The internet of things makes life a lot easier – and also more open to bad actors. Connected devices are an increasingly popular target for cyber threats. In 2019, cyber attacks on IoT devices increased by 300%, according to one report. This includes attacks on everything from laptops and webcams to smart homes (like Google Nest), smartwatches, routers, and other home appliances.

Our personal devices aren’t the only things that are vulnerable. The Software Engineering Institute of Carnegie Mellon University reported, “As more devices are connected to hospital and clinic networks, patient data and information will be increasingly vulnerable. Even more concerning is the risk of remote compromise of a device directly connected to a patient. An attacker could theoretically increase or decrease dosages, send electrical signals to a patient or disable vital sign monitoring.” Healthcare providers must also contend with protecting patient data. As many healthcare providers shift to remote work, they become an attractive target for hackers. Protected health information (PHI) must be kept safe during all cloud-based activities – yet many SaaS providers, including Slack, are not HIPAA-compliant right out of the box.

How to prevent IoT attacks: IoT attacks are sophisticated, and the best ways to protect your devices are to use strong passwords and keep your software up to date. Experts also suggest keeping your devices unlinked from social media.  Along with protecting your devices, look for a DLP partner who can protect your patient data while working on SaaS and IaaS platforms. Check out our coverage of instituting and maintaining HIPAA compliance on Slack and schedule a meeting below to learn more about how tools like Nightfall DLP play a role in keeping PHI safe.


This article was originally published at nightfall.ia

Featured Image Credits: Pixabay

Despite a legendary career with the Beatles and as a solo artist, John Lennon remains underrated for his guitar playing skills. Over the course of his lifetime, Lennon established himself as one of the greatest rhythm guitar players in the history of the instrument. Even today, his body of work remains as energetic and dynamic as ever.

If you want to improve your rhythm guitar playing skills, examining Lennon’s style is a great place to start. Between his early rock and roll playing and his later experimentation with different genres, there’s plenty of techniques that you can adapt to your own playing style.

In this guide, we’ll discuss some of the key concepts you’ll find in Lennon’s rhythm playing. Afterward, we’ll examine some of the former Beatle’s best rhythm guitar parts in specific songs and run down the gear that he used to form his style.

Key Concepts

Emotion

Even though he became one of the greatest guitar players ever, John Lennon never took a formal lesson! Rather than dazzle audiences with his technical skill, Lennon preferred to communicate through raw, unbridled emotion in his playing.

Lennon’s reliance on emotion and feel undoubtedly had something to do with his lack of technical knowledge. Because he approached learning the instrument by picking up new songs, Lennon never learned how to copy chords by sightreading the way guitarists who play jazz guitar, for example, did. Instead, the Beatle nailed the feel and vibe of each song that he approached.

In a British rock and roll scene dominated by self-taught players, Lennon never needed to distinguish himself on technical skill — indeed, his rhythm playing might have suffered if he had focused on technique more. As a rhythm guitar player, feel and time management are far more important than nailing every note of each chord.

The music scene today is completely different from when Lennon broke onto the stage with the Beatles. However, emotion remains just as important in rhythm guitar playing today as it was in the early 1960s. If you want to improve your rhythm guitar, injecting some emotion into your playing is one of the best ways to do it.

Great Rhythm Songs

While Lennon played rhythm guitar on a host of iconic tracks throughout his life, a couple, in particular, stand out for their quality and creativity. These songs are by no means the only great John Lennon rhythm parts — but they are some of the coolest! If you want to pick up more from Lennon’s rhythm style, it’s a good idea to listen through the Beatles catalog and some of John’s solo albums as well.

With that disclaimer out of the way, here are some of John Lennon’s greatest rhythm parts along with the full songs. These parts shine, often becoming the defining feature of the track they appear on; they’re also chock-full of valuable techniques for any player who wants to take after the Liverpool native’s approach to rhythm guitar. Let’s take a closer look and check each song out!

Play Guitar like John Lennon

The complex chord changes on “All My Loving” make it a difficult song to play on rhythm guitar!

“All My Loving”

An early Beatle stand out from the group’s second LP, “All My Loving” was one of the first tunes where John managed to take over a song completely with his rhythm guitar. Though Paul McCartney’s melody is infectious (and his bass playing is nimble), it’s Lennon’s triplet-centric rhythm strumming that takes over the pulse of the song.

This tune is an outstanding example of a simple modification that can make a huge difference. Strumming in triplets doesn’t require a change to any of the chords or even a modification to the “on” and “off” beats of the song. However, dividing each beat into three subdivisions completely alters the feel of the track. And while it may be conceptually simple, it’s still deceptively difficult! You’ll likely need to practice for some time before you can nail the tune at speed as John did.

 

Take a listen to “All My Loving” in the video above. As you hear the song, take note of how steady the rhythm guitar remains throughout the song. Whether he’s on the verse or chorus, Lennon never wavers. As with other patterns, the little details here also contribute greatly to the sound.

If you listen closely, you’ll hear that Lennon accents the first beat of every triplet, which is each numbered beat of the measure (the one, two, three, and four). Triplets can often be distracting to listeners because there’s so much strumming going on. Lennon avoids that with these clever accents — even though he’s strumming like a madman, the accents on each beat keep his audience locked into the groove throughout.

You should also pay attention to the contrast in rhythm between the chorus and verses. The tempo and pulse of the song don’t change, which ordinarily might allow the chorus and verse to bleed together into one big mess. Lennon, however, keeps that from happening by deftly switching to a different strumming pattern during the chorus. This pattern is significantly less busy, and accents the off beats of the bar at times. Both of these tweaks create a decidedly more of a “swinging” and less of a “driving” feel than you find in the verses.

Emulating the triplet strums in your own songs can be difficult because Lennon made them so famous. At this point, “All My Loving” is such a well-recognized tune that listeners may instantly connect any triplet strumming with the Beatles rather than your band! However, you can still use triplets for emphasis at certain points in your song or to create a sense of excitement during a bridge. There are few better ways to drive a rhythm forwards with some flair. Just remember to accent the on beats!

Abbey Road Studios

Abbey Road Studios, where the Beatles recorded nearly all of their albums.

“Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)”

Just three short years after releasing “All My Loving,” the Beatles had grown into a monumental creative force. Rubber Soul, their sixth studio album, marked a serious turning point for the band towards adult topics and sophisticated lyrics. Oftentimes, they reflected that shift through their songwriting and rhythm playing. “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)” is one of those times.

The vast majority of early Beatles songs begin with the vocals, or with just a bar or two of introduction before the vocals enter. While the intro to “Norwegian Wood” might seem short by today’s standards, it was a longer buildup than you’d find throughout the rest of the band’s catalog to that point. That extra time created a void, which Lennon filled by merging rhythm and lead guitar into an outstanding single part.

Listen to “Norwegian Wood” using the video below. Chances are, you’ll immediately notice how the rhythm guitar introduces the primary melody of the song, which the vocals later follow. This sort of chord-based sound wasn’t uncommon for the Beatles, but it was unusual to see them play the main vocal melody on guitar before actually singing it!

Besides the history and context of the track in the Beatles’ body of work, “Norwegian Wood” is simply an excellent example of working a melodic hook into a rhythm guitar part. This is a tricky skill to pull off because when done wrong it can butcher the timing and sway of a good melody. If you can pull it off, though, the results are spectacular.

Lennon’s rhythm guitar here introduces the audience to the primary melody at the beginning of the track, without any introduction or dead space. He continues to play the same pattern throughout the bridge, always mirroring the melody. This creates a lovely doubling effect that strengthens both Lennon’s voice and his guitar. When they play together, they push the song forwards in a way that seems both forceful and soft.

“Girl”

Another one of Lennon’s greatest compositions off of the outstanding Rubber Soul, “Girl” is an angst-ridden ballad that thrives on space and timing rather than rhythm and drive. It makes a lot of sense, then, that Lennon opted for a much more laid-back approach to the rhythm guitar on this song.

He eschews the wild triplet strumming found in “All My Loving” for a few lilting, sparse chords played on an acoustic guitar. This part offers a great example of setting the mood of a song with the rhythm guitar. Where early Beatles tunes were upbeat, boppy, and filled with energy, “Girl” signified a major step forward into more complex topics (along with other songs on the album, like the aforementioned “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)”).

Take a listen to the tune below and focus on the acoustic guitar rhythm. As you hear the song, notice how the guitar sounds so offbeat and deliberately messy — almost as if Lennon was just strumming absentmindedly without a clear rhythm.

In most scenarios, the lack of direction would create an ineffectual and pointless song. Here, however, it marries perfectly with Lennon’s lyrics, which detail the passion and anxiety the narrator feels towards the titular girl. It’s an exceptionally raw track, and rather than polish off the edges the rhythm part leans into the vibe. That gamble certainly pays off when you listen to the song.

The Beatles

While “Yer Blues” left the early image of the Beatles behind, it did incorporate some heavy rock and roll rhythms reminiscent of the group’s early days. 

“Yer Blues”

This song moves much further into Lennon’s career with the Beatles. After the massive productions that were Revolver and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the Beatles were feeling stressed creatively and wanted to get away from some of the grand orchestration they had favored in their last album. The result was The Beatles, often referred to as “The White Album” for the color of its cover.

“Yer Blues” is one of John Lennon’s most memorable compositions on the double LP, in part because of its cutting genre parody and in part because of its morose sort of catchiness. It also features another stunner of a rhythm part!

Listen to “Yer Blues” through the video below this paragraph. As this tune was an intentional parody of the incredibly sad blues songs of the day, it features over-the-top lyrics and instrumentation. Listen in particular for the jagged, ripping guitar licks that Lennon plays after the end of each vocal line.

More than “bookending” each lyric, these riffs contribute a great deal to the sound and vibe of the song. Their stabby shape and blown-out sound contribute to the song’s over-the-top blues atmosphere. Beyond that, though, they’re just plain cool! These lines are some of the hardest, raunchiest Delta blues guitar lines that anyone created in the ‘60s.

If you’re looking to take something away from this rhythm part, you should note that “rhythm” guitar doesn’t always have to mean “playing block chords.” In fact, Lennon drops out entirely during the vocals, leaving only the bass and drums to carry the song forward. It’s a smart strategy that’s intended to shift the focus of the song to the words he’s singing.

However, pulling it off requires you to create some strong licks that can serve as “shorthand” for all of the rhythm changes of your song. The 12-bar blues format makes this much easier — Lennon only needs to hit a couple of notes to convey the V, IV, and I chords within the same lick.

In fact, the minor pentatonic scale and blues scale work so well over all three of these chords that it’s not even necessary to outline each different chord individually. If you want to go for this sparse approach to rhythm playing, make sure that you start out with a harmonically simple pattern.

Rickenbacker

In addition to Lennon’s rhythm guitar, “Come Together” centers around a heavy bass riff from Paul McCartney.

“Come Together”

As the opening track to Abbey Road and one of Lennon’s most famous compositions, “Come Together” has few equals in terms of success and classic status. The song itself sounds very simple, both in harmonic and rhythmic terms. However, the chugging, pulsing rhythm part is a classic in its own right — and one of the finest examples of John Lennon’s rhythmic intuition throughout his career.

Cue up “Come Together” from the video below, and the first thing that you’ll notice is the alternating on-and-off rhythm. The guitar clearly accents every other stroke, which creates a “walking” feel.

Likewise, the first stroke of each pair comes across as a choppy staccato note, while Lennon allows the second strum to linger for a bit longer before cutting it off to move into the next pair. It’s particularly noticeable in his rendition of the song live from New York City. This strengthens the loping vibe created by the alternating emphasis and injects a bit of personality into what would otherwise be a relatively robotic rhythm part.

“Come Together” also offers valuable lessons about chord selection. Right after Lennon exclaims the title of the track, he begins a downward run of four chords: a descending Bm, A, and G, followed by a return to the A chord.

Not only is the Bm chord unexpected since the rest of the song follows a rough blues pattern in the key of Dm, but the upward shift at the end of the sequence is a major curveball. It delays the smooth resolution down to the I chord (Dm) until after Lennon finishes the lyric (with an unaccompanied “over you!”) and moves into the next verse.

As with many of his other rhythm parts, the strumming here serves to accentuate the words and move the attention to the central theme of the song rather than steal the limelight on its own. U These tracks accomplish a lot more than just keeping a steady beat! But while the underlying ethos may be difficult to implement at first, if you apply it to your own songs you can greatly improve the strength and cohesion of your tunes.

“Cold Turkey”

This single, originally released in 1969, was one of Lennon’s first major solo hits. Even though it captures Lennon just as he was breaking up with the Beatles, it still contains many of the hallmarks of his unique solo style. Listen to the audio of the track below to hear how it sounds.

Like many of Lennon’s greatest solo hits, “Cold Turkey” is built around a stark, jagged riff that he repeats throughout the song. In fact, this riff is often the only guitar part that appears — Lennon declines to play any sort of rhythm throughout the vast majority of the song!

Though it may seem like a stark approach, the riff-based part found in this cut exemplifies some of the greatest features of Lennon’s songwriting. Rather than clutter or overcomplicate a rhythm part, the Beatle knew when to keep things simple and straight to the point. Taking this approach and applying it to your own songs can help you weed out any parts that don’t serve the purpose of the song but hang around to fill space.

However, if you’re going to cut out most of the rhythm it’s also important that what you leave sounds good! “Cold Turkey” succeeds because the central lick is so powerful and raw. Before you try to build a song around a riff or lick like this, make sure that it’s sturdy enough to carry the weight of vocals and rhythm without extra support.

“Hold On”

 

Compared to all of the rough, blues-based rock and roll guitar playing that Lennon was so fond of, “Hold On” displays a completely different side to his playing. The rhythm guitar part here, soaked under waves of tremolo, feels so delicate that it might crack! But even though it’s so distinct from the rest of Lennon’s work, “Hold On” still reveals a few amazing concepts you can implement in your own playing.

First off, Lennon’s rhythm part here relies on a mix of single notes and chords intertwined with each other. While these notes don’t mirror the vocal melody exactly, they do bounce off of Lennon’s spoken lines and replicate some parts of the lyrics. It’s an outstanding example of a rhythm that’s integrated completely with the song.

Beyond the interlocking structure of the rhythm, the heavy tremolo effect is another highlight. This can be difficult to pull off on many songs — particularly because tremolo can destroy your tempo and feel if you don’t use it right — but here it creates a lilting, swaying effect that underscores the calm and relaxed feel of the tune.

Adding heavy effects to your rhythm playing doesn’t always work out, but when done well it can be a very distinctive feature. It’s a great idea for any song if you want to create something a listener can easily remember.

John Lennon’s Essential Gear

Any player with a career as long and historic as John Lennon’s will use lots of different gear. And as guitars, amps, and effects improve in quality over time, it’s easier than ever to achieve plenty of different sounds with less and less equipment. However, different models still offer very different strengths; certain pieces of equipment often lend themselves naturally towards playing in a certain style.

If you want to truly emulate the feel of John Lennon’s rhythm guitar playing, you might want to check out some of the essential gear that the man favored. While you can obviously still apply his techniques and study his songs without these items, you may find that they’re better suited to accomodate all of the nuances and tricks that made Lennon’s rhythm style so iconic.

John Lennon Gear

John Lennon’s Rickenbacker 325, like the model in this photo, and Vox amplifier powered the early Beatles sound.

Guitars

Rickenbacker 325

Lennon’s 1958 Rickenbacker 325 stuck with the musician from when he purchased it in 1960 all the way until the end of his life 20 years later. It’s the guitar that he played throughout the Beatles’ early residencies in the German city of Hamburg and on most of their pre-1965 albums and tours. All in all, it’s hard to overstate the importance of this model on the guitar world — it’s quite possibly one of the most famous (and certainly one of the most expensive!) instruments in history.

But while many people assume that Lennon first purchased the model 325 because he wanted any American guitar that he could get his hands on, the truth runs much deeper. The 325 is a ¾-scale guitar, which makes it perfect for the chugging rock and roll rhythms that the Beatles loved to employ.

Rather than a standard 24.75” or 25.5” scale, the Rickenbacker 325’s scale is just over 20” long — roughly equivalent to placing a capo on the third fret of a standard guitar. The shorter distances between frets helped Lennon pound out barre chords using the famous Chuck Berry-style patterns which alternated between the fifth and sixth note of the chord.

It’s no overstatement to say that the 325’s size was the defining factor in many early Beatles rhythms. Think about John’s complex triplet pattern on “All My Loving,” which we spotlighted in the “songs” section above. With less distance to go between the different chords in that sequence, Lennon was able to stay on beat and maintain a rock-solid foundation which became one of the defining characteristics of the tune.

The Rickenbacker also offered a bright, punchy tone that offered a lot more treble than was common on rhythm guitar. In comparison to relaxed, warm rhythm patterns on some other tracks, Lennon’s 325 brought a frenetic, cutting energy to each song. It proved the perfect way to slice through crowded mixes on studio tracks and in a live setting and helped establish rhythm guitar as an essential role in a band rather than an auxiliary piece.

Lennon Residence

Along with his all-white piano, Lennon’s Epiphone Casino has become one of the musician’s most recognizable instruments.

Epiphone Casino

Later in his time with the Beatles, Lennon shifted to an Epiphone Casino for his rhythm and lead work. While it offered a different tonal palette from the Rickenbacker, Lennon created some of his best rhythm parts on the Epiphone — thanks, in large part, to the guitar’s unique sound and style.

In contrast with the chambered Rickenbacker, the Casino’s hollow body gave it a warm, woody tone with plenty of acoustic resonance. Rather than elbowing its way to the front of a mix, the Casino created a lush, smooth sound that pinned down plenty of memorable tracks. It’s the guitar Lennon used on the legendary “rooftop concert” from Apple Records.

However, that’s not to imply that the Casino couldn’t produce some incredible distorted tones! All you need to do is look at songs like “Revolution” or “Yer Blues” to hear the cutting, ripping sound of an overdriven Casino. As far as hollow-body guitars go, it’s hard to find a more versatile model than this one. It’s one of the best rock guitars around.

Les Paul Jr.

Along with the Rickenbacker 325 and Epiphone Casino, Lennon used instruments like the Fender Stratocaster throughout his time with the Beatles. It was the mahogany red Les Paul Jr. that he picked up after leaving the group, however, which became one of his most enduring instruments.

In comparison with the chambered Rickenbacker and hollow Casino, the Les Paul Jr. is a fully solid model — it’s heavy and offers plenty of power and sustain. It’s the modifications that Lennon added, however, that truly make this instrument special.

The Les Paul Jr. featured a P-90 pickup in the bridge, just like the Casino that Lennon loved so much. However, this guitar originally came without any pickup installed in the neck position — a design feature that lowered the price of the instrument but also reduced its versatility. Lennon had luthier Ron DeMarino add a Charlie Christian pickup into the neck position; the addition gave the guitar a smooth, clean neck tone in addition to the hard-edged bridge P-90.

This is the model that Lennon used to craft many of his solo hits. If you’re looking for a versatile instrument with its own distinct character, a Les Paul Jr. with a Charlie Christian pickup like Lennon’s is a good model to check out.

John Lennon

Even today, Lennon’s legacy lives on through his discography and influence over other musicians.

Summary

John Lennon’s rhythm guitar style paved the way for dozens of other iconic players. In no small way, Lennon was the engine that fueled the rise of the guitar as a rhythm instrument. And though his style contains many different facets and approaches depending on each song, a couple of tenets remain the same throughout the former Beatle’s discography.

First and foremost, Lennon kept things simple. One of his greatest strengths was knowing when to accentuate a rhythm part and when to let it stand on its own weight. Developing this sense on your own takes time, but it can transform your rhythmic and compositional skills alike.

Beyond his simplicity, Lennon’s emotion was the other constant animating feature of his playing. The man attacked the instrument with a ferocity and drive that few other players in the history of the guitar have managed to copy since. As you strive to emulate the master’s rhythm guitar, keep this emotion in mind. It’s often better to play raw and eel the spirit than to drill the life out of a certain part and lose your feel for a certain tune in the process.

Whether you’re studying Lennon’s rhythm for your own playing or if you just love the Beatles and want to learn more about their “forgotten guitar player” (as Lennon once remarked), this guide contains most of what you need to know. Keep playing and work on the techniques mentioned here (particularly with a metronome) to take full advantage of Lennon’s prodigious skills!


This article was originally published at beginnerguitarhq.com


Featured Image Credits: Pixabay

Upon surveying the landscape of organizational climate commitments, it is not uncommon to hear about attention-grabbing goals like committing to 100% renewable energy, setting a science-based target, going carbon neutral or even climate positive. You might be wondering: how do these organizations get started? Looking around your own organization, it may be difficult to imagine how the fragmented efforts that are taking place within different business units and on different timelines can come together to form a coherent story about the opportunity for impact and risk mitigation.

The key to getting started is to establish a carbon baseline.

A carbon baseline is an inventory of sources of carbon emissions from business activities. This is typically a one (or more) year(s’) snapshot that serves as a reference point for organizations to understand and track their changing emissions over time. Building a multi-year emissions baseline not only enables an organization to have a better understanding of its recent historical GHG emissions trends but also enables an organization to grasp the business trajectory and associated potential future emissions. A carbon baseline includes both direct and indirect emissions, also known as Scope 1, Scope 2 and Scope 3 emissions (see image below for detailed categories).

Scope 1: Direct carbon emissions from owned or controlled sources (e.g. fuel)

Scope 2: Indirect carbon emissions from consumed purchased electricity, heat or steam

Scope 3: Indirect carbon emissions from all other business activities (e.g. purchased goods and services, capital goods, production of purchase materials, transport-related activities not owned or controlled by an organization, waste disposal, business travel, use of sold products, etc.)

Carbon Emissions

Source: GHG Protocol

Why establish a carbon baseline? 

Just as companies take stock of other types of resources or supplies, it is important for organizations to assess their carbon budget in order to understand which areas of business activities have the greatest opportunities for impact. We’ve discussed the importance of data quality in a previous blog when establishing carbon inventories. Establishing a detailed carbon baseline provides management with the ability to understand carbon emissions across different business units and make data-informed decisions, for example, by having specific fuel type information according to projected business growth, or understanding how carbon-intensive specific regions’ electric grids are going to behave in the future where the company operates. Given the likely volume of data collection and calculations, the baseline inventory data can be much easier to visualize, analyze and synthesize if it is established in a centralized software system. ‍

A secondary benefit to establishing a baseline carbon inventory is for tracking change over time. Since a baseline carbon inventory is only a snapshot in time, organizations need to build their processes for ongoing data collection to evaluate the effectiveness of operational changes. Having a baseline carbon inventory also supports companies in conducting peer benchmarking and evaluating their market position.

So you’ve built your baseline… what’s next?

Establishing a carbon inventory baseline is only the first step to managing organizational GHG emissions. Once an organization undertakes the effort to put together this emissions approach to understanding its impact, the organization can extend the same approach to thinking about risks and opportunities in business decision-making processes. For example, when evaluating capital investments into a new facility, a company can inquire and collect data about the historical operational costs—including energy data—for existing facilities it is considering for acquisition, and/or factor in how “dirty” the electric grid is in the potential regions where a new facility may be sited. Because an organization already has a baseline understanding of its existing portfolio of facilities, the organization can evaluate potential facilities against their own portfolio’s average emissions as well compare potential acquisitions against each other from a carbon impact standpoint. Siting new facilities in a region with a cleaner electrical grid, or with easier access to cleaner alternative fuels, can be considered alongside other performance and market factors in the capital investment decision making processes. ‍

Beyond singular business decisions, having an established carbon inventory baseline can facilitate an organization’s goal setting and scenario planning. Companies that have a target year and an established emissions target can draw a line from their established carbon baseline to their designated emissions target to understand the necessary change in their carbon budget over time compared to business as usual (see purple and green lines in the graph below).

Carbon Emissions

Source: SINAI Technologies

Forecasting different projections of possible futures based on the current carbon baseline provides a data-driven approach to stacking individual or decentralized business decisions together to get a comprehensive understanding of the planned emissions reductions, which aggregates the approved project pipeline. The planned emissions reductions can then be compared to the planned emissions gap, or the targeted emissions reduction that has yet to be accounted for based on existing company mitigation strategies. Finally, for companies thinking about supporting a 1.5-degree climate scenario, modeling the path from their carbon baseline to the company’s current goal versus what the target emissions would need to be to achieve the 1.5-degree scenario can facilitate an internal discussion around the target emissions gap (shown as the steepest emissions pathway in the graph above).

‍To understand how SINAI Technologies can support your organization to build carbon baselines, visualize scenario planning and risk analysis, and enable meaningful progress towards your decarbonization journey, contact us for a demo

References:

1. RE100 campaign. The Climate Group & CDP. https://www.there100.org/. Accessed Friday 27 November 2020.

2. Science-based targets. https://sciencebasedtargets.org/. Accessed Friday 27 November 2020.

3. Carbon Neutral Standard. Natural Capital Partners. https://www.carbonneutral.com/. Accessed Friday 27 November 2020.

4. Greenhouse Gas Protocol. World Resource Institute & WBCSD. https://ghgprotocol.org/. Accessed 29 November 2020.

5. https://www.sinaitechnologies.com/post/four-main-data-challenges-in-managing-carbon-inventories . SINAI Technologies.

6. https://www.sinaitechnologies.com/about-us#contact


‍This article by Serena Mau was originally  published at Sinai Technologies

One of the most interesting trends surfacing in the crypto industry today is the increasing likelihood of Bitcoin emerging as the next global reserve currency – something that Bitcoin fundamentalists have been preaching for the last decade. 

With the combination of transparency and decentralized trust brought on by the blockchain, individuals and companies across the world have had the opportunity to participate in a free financial system since the emergence of Bitcoin some twelve years ago. 

Since the dawn of Blockchain, trust in this trustless system has been slowly rising with a diverse range of individuals, institutional investors, and even world governments investing in the technology and the various tokens in circulation today. One result of this has been the free flow of liquidity across borders in a remarkably revolutionary way – satisfying the ever-growing need for a more efficient global financial system. 

Mr. Yoon Kim is an accomplished and dynamic crypto analyst and strategist. He successfully built the TMT sector of Tremblant Capital and helped the company increase its AUM from $200 million to $5 billion in five-years’ time. He then launched Vestry Capital, a global TMT equity fund as the head of which he served as an advisor and consultant to various hedge funds and blockchain projects.

With his 20 years of experience in investing and in the blockchain industry, Mr. Kim acutely understands these shifts in the global financial system. 

For that reason, one of the key topics of conversation during The New Normal of Blockchain & Cryptocurrency panel which AIKON organized in late October was “where the future lies for the USD and its long-term position as the world’s reserve currency”. 

Mr. Kim indicated that the USD losing some of its standing in the global financial system and possibly its status as the reserve currency as an inevitable product of blockchain’s accessibility and decentralization. 

“The timing is very auspicious […] it becomes rational and logical for a lot of people to push Bitcoin as a reserve currency” – Yoon Kim

Yoon Kim

As Mr. Kim has pointed out, the current financial system has been in place since World War II – 75 years now! On average, global financial systems have typically lasted for ~70-80 years each. We are, then, coming to the end of an era and can stand with bated breath awaiting the next financial revolution. 

Moreover, history has shown that significant global events often precede the breakdown of institutionalized financial systems. For the Pax Britannica, it was World War I. For the global financial system, we have today, it may very well be the impact of COVID-19 on the world economy. 

Having been a staple of the global economy, and considering the turmoil, the US has endured throughout 2020, USD is in serious danger of being dislodged from the position of power it has enjoyed over the last three-quarters of the 21st century. 

“The prevailing global systems of finance, trade [and] economic activity [have been around for] 70 to 80 years” – Yoon Kim

Given the amount of influence that US politics now has on the rest of the world, and being mindful that the level of engagement that USD (as a global reserve currency) will have on the rest of the world after the presidential election will probably never reach the levels from 40 – 50 years ago when it was at its peak. With the decrease in the level of engagement of the US with the world economy after the Soviet Union’s dissolution, what we see now are the effects of the politics that took 20 years to materialize. 

In that sense, Mr. Kim pointed out that it is very probable that USD is about to be dethroned as the most important currency in the world. 

And while there are those who would like to see the Chinese RMB take its place, Mr. Kim considers this very unlikely to happen. For one, dethroning USD from the position of the global reserve currency would put a significant amount of pressure and responsibility on the Chinese financial system, responsibilities the country seems to be shunning presently. For instance, China has been accused of intentionally increasing demand which then leads to an increase in the prices of international commodities. 

Therefore, the question is what will supplant USD as the global reserve currency or at least become an alternate reserve currency running in parallel with USD?

Mr. Kim stated that Bitcoin seems to fit perfectly, especially taking into account the timing of its rise, as well as its ability to cross borders with very little effort. 

As political and economic relations between the US and China continue to collapse, it is becoming increasingly unlikely that either the USD or RMB will be viewed as a viable global reserve currency going forward. 

Bitcoin may prove to be the thing that both nations, as well as the rest of the world, decide they can live within the upcoming decades. 

“BTC […] will become a reserve currency that stands aside and is not controlled by a single nation” – Yoon Kim

While the Chinese government is actively restricting crypto trades, there is massive support within the government for cryptocurrencies and blockchain. This implies that they have a long-term strategy in place, where Bitcoin would be used to dislodge the USD as the global reserve currency. 

In the same way, we’re seeing the causality of the US global economics politics conducted in the past 20 years and its effect on the situation now, there is a good chance that 20 years from now we will have Bitcoin as the reserve currency of the world simply because it will not be controlled by any one nation and its financial system. 

Should Mr. Kim’s predictions come to be realized, individual and corporate players in this new market that is quickly gaining momentum should be preparing for the shift.


This article was originally published at Aikon.com


Featured Image Credits: Pixabay

Unstructured data is projected to account for approximately 80% of the data that enterprises will process on a daily basis by 2025. Data breaches and other security issues get a lot of attention in the media, but all businesses working with data, especially data in the cloud, are at risk of data loss. Preventing data loss can be difficult for a number of reasons.

IDG projects that by 2026, there will be 163 zettabytes of data in the world. To put that in context, one zettabyte is equal to a thousand exabytes, a billion terabytes, or a trillion gigabytes. The astronomical amount of data transmitting, living, and working in the cloud is just one of the complications that make securing data a tough task for businesses to manage. Of all the unstructured data in the world, most of it goes completely unused. According to industry analysts IDC, more than 90% of unstructured data is never examined. This means large portions of data float around unsecured and underutilized for many businesses.

That’s why it’s important to understand where unstructured data comes from, why it’s so hard to pin down, the risks of not securing unstructured data, and the rewards of bringing that data into a structured environment.

Hiding in plain sight

Unstructured data can come from almost any source. Nearly every asset or piece of content created or shared by a device in the cloud carries unstructured data. This can include:

  • Product demo videos on your website
  • QR codes for discounts and deals on an e-commerce app
  • Podcasts and other audio blogging files hosted on your website’s blog page
  • Social media messages on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn

Internal communications and collaboration platforms are major sources of unstructured data. Think Slack, Confluence, and other SaaS applications where many people do their daily work and communicate with colleagues. Most cloud-based applications like these allow unstructured data to pass through massive networks to be shared, copied, accessed and stored unprotected.

IDG Communications published an article written by then-Pitney Bowes Software Vice President Andy Berry in 2018. Berry commented on how the modern workplace approaches data and why these norms contribute to the data loss problem, citing one study that found enterprises using almost 500 unique business applications. SaaS applications generate data that can quickly become obsolete, unusable, and eventually inaccessible.

Data powers everything we do in our professional and personal lives, but with little to no oversight on data hygiene, we often miss out on key opportunities to improve security blindspots and maximize data performance.

A complex problem

The various sources of unstructured data show how complex data loss can be. Many problems with DLP start with the three V’s of data — volume, velocity, and variety. It’s hard for humans and manual review to keep up with the staggering amount of data, speed of data proliferation, and the many different sources of data.

Adding to the problem is the fact that unstructured data is very difficult to organize. It’s impossible to dump every piece of unstructured information into a database or spreadsheet, because that data comes from myriad different sources and likely doesn’t follow similar formatting rules. On top of that, finding unstructured data through manual processes would take more time than there are hours in the day. It’s not a job for humans.

Other roadblocks to unstructured data collection include increasingly stringent privacy regimes, laws that protect intellectual property (IP) and other confidential or proprietary information like trade secrets, and businesses communicating across different security domains between the cloud and traditional hard-drive based storage systems. Information security is evolving at lightning speeds, but some schools of thought are still based on older priorities that focus on preventing outsider threats. It’s important to protect an organization from malicious actors, but what about good-natured, everyday workers who don’t know what they don’t know? That can still hurt an organization in tremendous ways.

Unstructured data isn’t all bad news. It can also be an opportunity for organizations that can recognize two main ideas. First, this data must be gathered, protected, and understood. Second, that there’s value in all the data that is currently going unused. Computer Weekly cited sources that estimate modern businesses are utilizing as little as 1% of their unstructured data.

Our world runs on data, and each person interacting with apps, platforms, and devices contributes to the growing data reserves. When organizations think about gathering data to help with marketing, business intelligence, and other key functions, they must also factor in the impact of unstructured data. Unstructured data presents equal risk and opportunity for business leaders. When that data lives in the darkness, its only impacts are negative. But when data is brought into the light, we can use that data to be smarter and better at work. 

Solving the unstructured data problem

Unstructured data is a major concern for organizations using cloud-based collaboration and communications platforms. Productivity relies on environments where co-workers can share ideas and messages quickly, without fear of exposing sensitive data. Nightfall, a data loss prevention (DLP) solution, provides much-needed security for today’s most used communications and collaboration platforms like Slack, Confluence, and many other popular SaaS & data infrastructure products.

Since these applications lack an internal DLP function, and each allows for the lightning-fast transmission of massive amounts of data, Nightfall’s machine learning-based platform is an essential partner for many organizations handling sensitive information like PII (personally identifiable information), PHI (protected health information), and other business-critical secrets. Nightfall’s three-step approach allows businesses to discover, classify, and protect unstructured data through artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). Our solution makes sense of unstructured data, while traditional security solutions solely rely on users to help categorize data through methods like regular expressions (regex), which have limited accuracy in unstructured environments.

Each step of Nightfall’s ML solution is critical to the process of DLP. Discover means a continuous monitor of sensitive data that is flowing into and out of all the services you use. Classify means ML classifies your sensitive data & PII automatically, so nothing gets missed. Protect means businesses can set up automated workflows for quarantines, deletions, alerts, and more. These three arms of DLP save you time and keep your business safe — all with minimal manual process or review oversight from you or your staff.

Helping businesses identify and access unstructured data

Data is a part of life, especially as remote work becomes an essential function for productivity and collaboration. Business leaders must understand the risk of ignoring unstructured data and the value of making that data work for the business. It’s a tall order to identify and bring in a mass of unknown data to the cloud, but the rewards come with a better understanding of your organization, your industry, and your customers. Good things can come from unstructured data — as long as you’re ready to approach the issue with a solid data strategy and a knowledgeable DLP partner like Nightfall.


About Nightfall

Nightfall is the industry’s first cloud-native DLP platform that discovers, classifies, and protects data via machine learning. Nightfall is designed to work with popular SaaS applications like Slack & GitHub as well as IaaS platforms like AWS. You can schedule a demo with us below to see the Nightfall platform in action.

This article was originally published at Nightfall.ai


Featured Image Credits: Pixabay

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge influence on the economies of many countries, so much so that the current financial score of many brands now wears a new look, significantly different from what it was in the last fiscal year. The stock market seems to be running on pins and needles, with trades and businesses no longer in full swing as they used to be.

While some brands hit a new low during this period, others have been at the tailwind of the robust stock market, hitting astronomical figures in profits. To determine how well or not businesses have adjusted to the whims and caprices of the coronavirus pandemic, we have organized a study based on some industrial and retail giants.

This case study, based on fifty (50) large companies that maintained a market capitalization of over USD $10 billion before the pandemic highlights what areas of the economy were most hit, and which of these industries managed to stay afloat regardless. It also discusses whether the current state of the economy is only temporary or whether brands should prepare for a new normal.

For the purpose of this study, it is assumed that these companies started feeling the influence of the coronavirus pandemic on January 30, 2020, when the World Health Organization (WHO) announced Covid-19 as a global health emergency.

The Rise and Fall of Global Business Empires

A temporary phase? Yes? No? Whatever the case, it is difficult to ignore the fact that the modifications major commercial players are making on their business models are going to affect the world economy significantly.

Worthy of note is that most of the companies that have prospered during the pandemic have American and Chinese roots. Coincidentally, many big players in the US are also bearing the brunt of the pandemic, recording meager profits; and some of them, even losses.

Companies thriving during the covid-19 pandemic

 

In what is turning out to be a dismal year for many, certain technological giants have somehow flourished, plausibly due to the types of services and products they provide.

Even with governments imposing lockdown measures and ordering citizens to stay indoors, companies like Apple, Amazon, Facebook, PayPal, T-Mobile, and Alibaba have still managed to pull through the pandemic with ease, registering significant growth in the process, with the potential to maintain their high capitalization values even past the crisis.

According to the study, Zoom Video Communications Inc has enjoyed the largest increase in market capitalization, more than twice that of Tesla in second place. Interestingly, this number is still on the rise.

However, it remains to be seen if this trend will continue or there is a potential dip in market capitalization percentage lurking around for Zoom.[1] Eric Yuan, the CEO and founder of Zoom, has been touted as one of the best business leaders during the pandemic.

Tesla INC also received a major boost in market capitalization. A major contribution to the sudden spike was an announcement about a stock split made on August 11, 2020. Since doubling the number of shares doesn’t necessarily translate to an increase in earnings, the evolution for the next period is uncertain.

NVIDIA Corporation, Pinduoduo INC, Shopify, Meituan Dianping, and DocuSign Inc, as well as the United Parcel Service, all had a decent increase in market capitalization, and are likely to keep that score steady for a longer-term compared to others on the list.

Online shopping and deliveries became essential during the lockdown, but it remains to be seen whether people will choose to do a significant part of their shopping this way in the post-pandemic period, or simply hurry back to brick-and-mortar stores as soon as the situation allows.

Another category of companies are those without any significant rise in market capitalization, but with the potential to maintain steady numbers or grow steadily considering their well-established market presence and strong consumer base. Among them are Tencent, Netflix, Adobe Inc, Thermo Fisher, Target, Costco Wholesale Corporation, Lululemon, Qualcomm, RingCentral Inc.

As for businesses like Abbvie INC and Danaher, the public response would become a huge factor in whether the rising trajectory will continue or dip in the near future. At this point, it is hard to tell which would be the case.

Big Companies hit hard by the covid-19 pandemic

 

Taking a look at percentage drops, it’s not so difficult to spot Occidental Petroleum Corporation with the biggest slump in market capitalization, a whopping 74% drop. The oil-producing giant is struggling to move forward, after repeatedly slashing its budget to avoid accumulating massive debts it could potentially incur due to the oil price crisis.

The Boeing Company is not left out either, placed only a few points shy off Occidental Petroleum Corporation. Between the efforts to bring back the Boeing 737 Max and the headache in solving the manufacturing issues of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner against a gloomy backdrop in the whole airliner industry this year, it’s hard to say what 2021 will bring for this aerospace and defense giant.

Exxon Mobil Corporation is also on the other end of the spectrum, showing a significant drop in market capitalization by USD. In retrospect, it’s not the company’s first severe hit, and the fact that it’s managed to bounce back indicates its resilience to possibly rebound once the current climate starts to clear away.

Numerous industrial and retail giants suffered huge drops of around 30-50% in market capitalization during the coronavirus crisis. Big corporations like EOG Resources, Wells Fargo & Co, Royal Dutch Shell (in the Netherlands), B.P. p.l.c. (in the U.K.), United Airlines Holdings Inc, American Airlines Group, Delta Air Lines, Kinder Morgan have declined by between 40 and 50%.

Others like Citigroup, Wynn Resorts, Equity Residential, Host Hotels & Resorts, Raytheon Technologies Corporation, Marriott International, Inc., Chevron Corporation, and MGM Resorts all saw a dip in their market capitalization by about 30 and 40 percent.

How A Shift in Consumer Habits Plunged Some Brands Into The Doldrums

The coronavirus pandemic was not only a health crisis but a black swan event that exposed the vulnerabilities of many companies and industries. Most of these companies were unable to cope with the shift in consumer habits, and not even clutch decisions by their management could save their faces. In one clean sweep, these industries lost a large fraction of their customers because they were unable to cater to the new needs of their customers.

This shift in consumer habits no doubt dealt a huge blow to some industries while ordering some others to the forefront of things. The response of these businesses to the change in consumer habits is what separates those that flourished in this period from those who were hit hard by the crisis.

The tables below are a pictorial representation of how the response to a change in consumer habits split these fifty successful commercial giants into two halves. One half represents those who adjusted their markets to accommodate the new demands and are hence ahead of the curve while the other highlights brands who couldn’t get a favorable market share because of the change in demand.

Commercial giants thriving in Covid-19

 

Commercial giants hit hard by covid-19

From the tables, we can deduce that:

  • Companies in the consumer cyclical and tech industries saw the most increase in market capitalization.
  • Most of the companies in the oil and gas industry saw a sharp drop in their market capitalization
  • Occidental Petroleum Corporation was the biggest loser (74%) in danger of collapsing at this rate.

Connecting with the change in consumer habits

The coronavirus crisis made a lot of companies reevaluate their business models. As the tables show, those who couldn’t connect with this change in consumer habits are those on the red side of the spectrum while the greener half of the table houses either companies that this shift in demand favored or those that diversified to accommodate the needs of the consumers.

Were some companies naturally favored by this shift in demand?

Yes, Some companies were naturally favored by this shift in consumer habits. Prime examples are Netflix and PayPal. Since these brands are internet-based, movement restrictions and border closures couldn’t affect their revenue or market capitalization negatively.

Since most workflows were restricted to online communications, companies that promoted online classes and video communications were bound to do well. Zoom, in particular, took the opportunity by the scruff of its neck and established itself as the best video communications software to be used for collaboration by work teams.

This was also the case for RingCentral. Their online meeting tool helped fill the blanks for work teams who worked remotely. For many was a more practical medium for transmitting urgent messages to other members of a project team.

The market capitalization of software companies like DocuSign and Adobe was also on the rise for the same reasons as RingCentral and Zoom. Using these platforms, members of a work team can collaborate better, sign documents online, and fax these documents to other signatories.

There were also significant jumps in market capitalization for medical suppliers, drug manufacturers, and research companies, boosted by funds from governments who are going all out in search of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Companies that failed to accommodate these changes in consumer habits

Some companies in the oil and gas industry as well as the traveling sector could hardly survive the crisis because of the kinds of products they produce. They also couldn’t modify their modus operandi to accommodate systems that can help bolster their revenue.

Revenues in the oil and gas industry were downed by a significant change owing to a reduction in production and the current oil price crisis. Oil companies like Occidental Petroleum Corporation were the biggest victims. The oil giant is now wallowing so deep in the mud that they can potentially crash soon.

Traveling and accommodation services also suffered a huge hit. Airlines like The Boeing Company and American Airlines Group and hotel owners like Marriott International, Inc., were not spared either because of the sudden drop in demand.

Could diversification have helped these companies?

There are a few companies like Amazon that could have been held back by border restrictions but had diversified into other niches, making it easy to score a higher market capitalization value even in the face of the crisis. The e-commerce titan had earlier delved into hardware, payments, media, and data storage, and was, therefore, in the right conditions to flourish even when COVID-19 came knocking.

Amazon Prime video did pretty fine, rivaling Netflix for sales. The commerce sector of the brand didn’t do badly either as the company focused on shipping essentials and groceries. This however came at a cost. The e-commerce giant championed by Jeff Bezos added 175,000 new employees to its existing workforce to handle demand in the period.

The Biggest Growths In Value During The Coronavirus Crisis

For a few major companies, the current context has proven extremely beneficial, and they registered a significant profit. Here are the Top 5 Highest Expansions in Market Capitalization in 2020:

Fastest growing tech giants during covid-19

Of all the fast-growing companies during the COVID pandemic, Zoom Video Communications Inc made the most impressive progress. Offering a video communication platform, it provided exactly what people needed during this troubled period: a medium for face-to-face communication and organizing meetings for people from different locations in a single video meeting.

Founded in 2011 by Eric S. Yuan with the headquarters at San Jose, CA, the company found the path to success by focusing on the cloud architecture and using a highly efficient marketing strategy focused on what the market demanded. All of these paired with strong and efficient customer support helped Zoom top the chart.[2]

Tesla is another winner – in terms of market capitalization – during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, theirs is a peculiar situation as earlier highlighted. The decision to approve a five-for-one split in the soaring stock this year contributed to the sudden rise in market cap.[3] Still, Tesla will go into the record books as the auto manufacturer with the highest market value, despite being well behind its competitors when it comes to sales figures.

DocuSign Inc is in third place with an increase in market cap of 169%. In this case, the rise is justified since the company offers services that have become crucial for the business world during the pandemic. Electronically signing documents and handling business deals online is the new trend, but it’s not just companies that benefit from these services. Individuals also need to store information and sign documents online safely. Founded in 2003, DocuSign is one of the companies that may maintain steady growth in the following period.[4]

Pinduoduo INC is no doubt one of the world’s biggest commercial brands. Their market capitalization during the Covid-19 crisis is well justified given their area, experience, and customer loyalty. The e-commerce platform not only offers competitive prices but also has a group buys policy, making their prices hard to beat. Like David Liu, the vice president of strategy said in an interview[5], ‘e-commerce actually played a big part in supporting and stabilizing’ people’s lives.

Meituan Dianping is another major shopping platform in China, focusing on locally found products and services. They have been on the market since 2010, and are on the mission to become the untouchables in service delivery just like Amazon is with products. Customers who use their apps and websites, depending on the services they need get deals and vouchers. [6] Number five on our list, Meituan Dianping, is also doing quite well, meeting and surpassing their financial projections.

Post-Pandemic Previsions – How Will the Market Change?

Making projections and developing programs and models to help the economy bounce back is no doubt going to be a tall order for governments and companies worldwide. It is still difficult to see which way the market will go when the crisis is over. As far as authorities are concerned, the main lesson learned is that there is a need to strengthen the sectors that were exposed as frail by the coronavirus pandemic.

As for the 50 major players that we included in this study, it is still difficult to predict what their situation on the market will be in the post-pandemic world. We would probably see some of the companies now recording huge profits start a slowly descending curve once things begin to settle down.

Some spikes in market caps we have seen are impossible to maintain, but that doesn’t necessarily mean there will be a sudden drop in those figures as well. Some of these giants are building up new loyal clientele during this challenging time, and are likely to maintain a good position on the market in the future.

As far as the industrial and commercial giants are concerned, their future may be determined by the strength and resources they have to help them scale through the crisis unscathed. For the most part, the big drops in market capitalization are related to the sudden decrease in market demand. If that be the case, these companies are likely to bounce back once the lockdown restrictions are lifted. But for those that are currently facing severe drops, it’s already a matter of survival.

The Covid-19 pandemic has surely created a shift in the way customers see certain services. People and companies have discovered that many operations can be conducted online, and they may want to restructure their activity even after things come back to normal. The progression into a new normal may reflect on the economy and we are poised to see a corresponding adjustment in market capitalizations.

Reference:

  1. “Zoom rides pandemic to another quarter of explosive growth.” Liedtke, Michael CBC Sep 01, 2020
  2. “Mercury Systems, Zoom And DocuSign CEOs Are Among The Highest-Rated Business Leaders During The Covid-19 Crisis.” Stoller, Kristin Forbes Sep 16, 2020
  3. “Tesla Announces 5-for-1 Stock Split.” Tesla Announces 5-for-1 Stock Split. The New York Times. Aug 11, 2020
  4. “DocuSign (DOCU).” DocuSign (DOCU). Forbes. Retrieved Sep 22, 2020
  5. “Pinduoduo Inc.” Bloomberg. Retrieved Sep 22, 2020
  6. “Meituan-Dianping” Wikipedia. Retrieved Sep 22, 2020

This article was originally published at cocosign.com


Featured Image Credits: Pixabay

In 2016, the US offshore oil and natural gas industries—which are heavily concentrated in the Gulf of Mexico— contributed 315,000 jobs and $30 billion to the US economy. These industries are lucrative, but they see their fair share of challenges. 

Even during the best of times, the extraction of oil and gas demands strict attention to employees’ health and safety and the maintenance of assets. But as extreme weather events increase—strong winds, heavy rain, lightning, and high seas—the risk of mishaps increases, requiring additional care. Delivery and distribution may be halted, assets may become damaged, and there’s a greater chance of oil and chemical spills. 

A Look at Past Events

The US offshore oil and gas industries were dealt a one-two punch in 2005, as two category-5 hurricanes (Katrina and Rita) swept across the coast. The effects were so damaging that it took years to recover:

– 3,050 of 4,000 platforms in the Gulf were affected, each of which halted production for several weeks.

– 22,000 of the 33,000 miles of Gulf pipelines were in the storms’ direct path, and 457 pipelines were destroyed

– 115 platforms were destroyed

– 8 million gallons of oil spilled into waterways from Louisiana to Alabama 

– Oil prices spiked to $70 a barrel

Nola.com

Image Credits

Companies spent millions to repair their infrastructure. Shell, for example, spent over $300 million on recovering and repairing assets. Besides the cost of repairs, for the next nine months, 22% of federal oil production and 13% of gas production remained shut-in—resulting in the loss of 150 million barrels of oil and 720 billion cubic feet of gas. 

 Since those two hurricanes, there have been ten more category 5 Atlantic hurricanes. Climate change’s effects are certainly being felt— and experts anticipate that it will induce more storms at greater intensities. Although we can’t stop them from happening, we can learn more about them and determine the best ways to reduce their impact—to ensure these industries operate safely and remain lucrative. 

Data’s Place in the Offshore Oil and Gas Industries

It’s the responsibility of oil and gas companies to protect their infrastructure, assets, and employees. It’s also their responsibility to set up emergency response teams and employ remediating measures to minimize the extent of oil spills if and when they occur. 

Accurate, real-time data (and alerting) is vital for making fast, informed decisions that will protect assets, lives, and the environment. Here are two specific applications of data to the offshore oil and gas industries:

  1. Monitoring extreme weather changes:

A week of delay to operations could affect major shippers and cost companies as much as $7.5 million. Time is essential for reducing the impact of extreme weather events such as hurricanes. 

Anticipating upcoming wind shifts and speed changes can help prepare and protect vessels and their tethered connection. Having up-to-date weather data also allows companies to avoid dangerous activity. Not only does this protect these billion-dollar oil rigs and employees, but it also prevents oil spills.

Real-time ocean data is also important for monitoring everyday weather and temperature changes. Milder weather can still put operations and assets at risk. For pipes, all it takes is a 35 mph wind at a specific angle to become damaged. (To put that into perspective, Hurricane Katrina’s wind speeds were moving at 175 mph.) 

To reduce the risks posed by climate variability and change, some experts advocate for better collaboration between the oil and gas industries and the meteorological community. A stronger partnership between these two groups would allow for better integration of high-quality weather and climate information into energy sector activities. 

  1. Oil spill mapping:

To limit the areas affected by an oil spill and facilitate containment and cleanup efforts, several factors must be identified: 

– Spill location 

– Size and extent of the spill

– Direction and magnitude of oil movement

– Wind, current, and wave information for predicting future oil movement

Oil Spills caused by Katrina

Image Credits

Timely detection and continuously updated information on these factors are vital for executing response measures. Responders depend on oil spill trajectory maps built from field observations, aerial surveys, remote sensing, and weather forecasts for ocean currents and winds (drawn from weather buoys). Oil spill trajectory maps help with cleanup measures, shoreline protection, and penalization (when applicable):

– Slick detection and surveillance

– Tactical and strategic countermeasures

– Slick trajectory determination 

– Containment boom implementation

– Gathering of legal information 

To echo the prior discussion, the weather is becoming increasingly unpredictable. With quick changes to wind speeds, currents, and waves, oil spill trajectory maps need to be informed by real-time holistic data to be effective. These industries are some of the most advanced users of weather and climate information. However, their rapid evolution, and extreme changes to weather, constantly create new needs.

The offshore oil and gas industry isn’t the only large industry requiring top-quality data in the face of increasingly volatile weather. Read about the risks to the maritime industry and how real-time data is a game-changer for operations. 


This article by Ayesha Renyard was originally published at sofarocean.com

About Sofarocean:

Our oceans cover over 70% of our planet’s surface, drive our climate system, and over 90% of the world’s trade is carried by sea. Our ocean environment affects us every day, through weather, the food we eat, and the stuff we use. Yet, ocean data is exceedingly sparse, and we know more about the surface of the moon than the waters surrounding us. Distributed sensing has revolutionized digitizing on land and from space. Ocean’s are next.

Our goal is to create a data-abundant ocean and provide critical insights into science, society, and industries. As a first step, we deploy and grow the world’s largest real-time ocean weather sensor network which provides the most accurate marine weather information and forecasts to power industry-specific solutions.

We believe that more and better ocean data will contribute to a greater understanding of our environment, better decisions, improved business outcomes, and ultimately contribute to a more sustainable planet.


Featured Image Credits: Pixabay

In the world of computer science, there are many programming languages, and no single language is superior to another. In other words, each language is best suited to solve certain problems, and in fact there is often no one best language to choose for a given programming project. For this reason, it is important for students who wish to develop software or to solve interesting problems through code to have strong computer science fundamentals that will apply across any programming language.

Programming languages tend to share certain characteristics in how they function, for example in the way they deal with memory usage or how heavily they use objects. Students will start seeing these patterns as they are exposed to more languages. This article will focus primarily on Python versus Java, which is two of the most widely used programming languages in the world. While it is hard to measure exactly the rate at which each programming language is growing, these are two of the most popular programming languages used in the industry today.

One major difference between these two programming languages is that the first is dynamically typed, while Java is statically typed. Loosely, this means that Java is much more strict about how variables are defined and used in code. As a result, Java tends to be more verbose in its syntax, which is one of the reasons we recommend learning Python before Java for beginners. For example, here is how you would create a variable named numbers that holds the numbers 0 through 9 in Python:

numbers = []

for i in range(10):
numbers.append(i)

Here’s how you would do the same thing in Java:

ArrayList numbers = new ArrayList();

for (int i = 0; i < 10; i++) {
numbers.add(i);
}

Another major difference is that Java generally runs programs more quickly than Python, as it is a compiled language. This means that before a program is actually run, the compiler translates the Java code into machine-level code. By contrast, Python is an interpreted language, meaning there is no compile step.

Usage and Practicality

Historically, Java has been the more popular language in part due to its long legacy. However, Python is rapidly gaining ground. According to Github’s State of the Octoverse Report, it has recently surpassed Java as the most widely used programming language. As per the 2018 developer survey, Python is now the fastest-growing computer programming language.

Both Python and Java have large communities of developers to answer questions on websites like Stack Overflow. As you can see from Stack Overflow trendsPython surpassed Java in terms of the percentage of questions asked about it on Stack Overflow in 2017. At the time of writing, about 13% of the questions on Stack Overflow are tagged with Python, while about 8% are tagged with Java!

Web Development

Python and Java can both be used for backend web development. Typically developers will use the Django and Flask frameworks for Python and Spring for Java. Python is known for its code readability, meaning Python code is clean, readable, and concise. Python also has a large, comprehensive set of modules, packages, and libraries that exist beyond its standard library, developed by the community of Python enthusiasts. Java has a similar ecosystem, although perhaps to a lesser extent.

Mobile App Development

In terms of mobile app development, Java dominates the field, as it is the primary language used for building Android apps and games. Thanks to the aforementioned tailored libraries, developers have the option to write Android apps by leveraging robust frameworks and development tools built specifically for the operating system. Currently, Python is not used commonly for mobile development, although there are tools like Kivy and BeeWare that allow you to write code once and deploy apps across Windows, OS X, iOS, and Android.

Machine Learning and Big Data

Conversely, in the world of machine learning and data science, Python is the most popular language. Python is often used for big data, scientific computing, and artificial intelligence (A.I.) projects. The vast majority of data scientists and machine learning programmers opt for Python over Java while working on projects that involve sentiment analysis. At the same time, it is important to note that many machine learning programmers may choose to use Java while they work on projects related to network security, cyber attack prevention, and fraud detection.

Where to Start

When it comes to learning the foundations of programming, many studies have concluded that it is easier to learn Python over Java, due to Python’s simple and intuitive syntax, as seen in the earlier example. Java programs often have more boilerplate code – sections of code that have to be included in many places with little or no alteration – than Python. That being said, there are some notable advantages to Java, in particular, its speed as a compiled language. Learning both languages will give students exposure to two languages that lay their foundation on similar computer science concepts, yet differ in educational ways.

Overall, it is clear that both Python and Java are powerful programming languages in practice, and it would be advisable for any aspiring software developer to learn both languages proficiently. Programmers should compare Python and Java-based on the specific needs of each software development project, as opposed to simply learning the one language that they prefer. In short, neither language is superior to another, and programmers should aim to have both in their coding experience.

Python Java
Runtime Performance Winner
Ease of Learning Winner
Practical Agility Tie Tie
Mobile App Development Winner
Big Data Winner

This article by Andrea Domiter was originally published at junilearning.com

About the Author:

Andrea Domiter is pursuing a B.A. in Computer Science and Economics with a specialization in Data Science at the University of Chicago. She is currently an instructor at Juni Learning, teaching Python, Scratch, Java, and Pre-Algebra. Last summer, Andrea worked at RCP Advisors, a private equity firm based in Chicago, as a Research Analyst focusing on automating several processes. Andrea also loves to cook, hike, and read.


Featured Image Credits: Pixabay


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