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A Brief Guide to UPS or USPS Shipping Options

A Brief Guide to UPS or USPS Shipping Options
A Brief Guide to UPS or USPS Shipping Options

If you run an ecommerce business, you would surely want to practice cost-cutting in every way possible. And one of the areas you want to cut costs is shipping. A report by the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals’ annual State of Logistics revealed that US companies recorded $1.49 trillion in shipping costs in 2018. As expensive shipping can cost a huge amount to a company, trying to choose which carrier offers the best pricing for your package was incredibly time-consuming and irritating. But now, ecommerce has two better options: UPS and USPS. So if you have your own ecommerce business, you should know, is UPS or USPS cheaper? Continue reading to make the right decision.

What is USPS or UPS?


The United States Postal Service (USPS) originated in 1775. Because the government organization has been there for so long, it is a leading courier business. USPS, sometimes called the postal service or US Mail, provides domestic and first-class mail delivery services.


UPS stands for United Parcel Service, a publicly listed business established in 1907 that provides freight forwarding, courier express, and logistics services. It is a leading international provider of package delivery services.

Difference Between UPS and USPS

1. Cheaper Flat-Rate Option

UPS doesn’t offer a cheaper flat-rate Option. With USPS, you may acquire the boxes for free and pay a set fee to send a package anywhere in the country in 1–3 business days that weighs up to 20 pounds.

2. Speed

Selecting a delivery partner who can deliver goods under the given ETAs is critical since the speed of delivery is a crucial factor for every ecommerce firm. Although both UPS and USPS provide overnight service, USPS Priority Mail Service has a standard delivery average of just 1.7 days, whereas UPS Ground takes 2.75 days. Therefore, USPS is the superior option if your product has to arrive quickly. However, it is also true that USPS is significantly stricter and has more regulations regarding the parcel’s size and capacity. Because of this, UPS occasionally proves to be a more practical and hassle-free choice for efficiently sending large shipments.

3. Which One is More Economical?

Is UPS or USPS cheaper? This is very crucial information an ecommerce business should research about. USPS offers much lower prices for packages weighing under 2 pounds, whereas UPS provides lower rates for packages weighing more and of higher value. The use of surcharges is why UPS is significantly more expensive when transporting smaller products.

    • Overnight Shipping

If you don’t need it by morning, USPS is more affordable than UPS for overnight delivery. UPS may be a little more expensive if you need your package delivered at the start of the next day, but it pays off because they guarantee delivery within that window. Therefore, you should examine the shipping costs and the arrival time frames when deciding which is preferable for overnight shipment, UPS or USPS.

    • International Shipping

USPS offers less expensive international shipping options than UPS for smaller shipments, but delivery times are much longer. If speed is not a concern, USPS can be your better choice. In contrast, UPS often charges less for big international shipments than USPS. Therefore, before deciding which logistics provider is best for your needs, you should request quotes from couriers and other logistics service providers.


Hopefully, now ecommerce businesses can decide if UPS or USPS is cheaper. Sometimes UPS is more expensive than USPS because of taxes and fees, especially when mailing smaller items. USPS often provides substantially better prices when delivering smaller items weighing less than two pounds. Due to its higher value, UPS is often a better option when transporting larger, heavier products.

What Holistic Dentists Recommend for Flossing Teeth

Flossing helps clean areas in your mouth that your toothbrush can't reach. However, some are harmful to the body. Holistic dentists offer safer alternatives.
Flossing helps clean areas in your mouth that your toothbrush can't reach. However, some are harmful to the body. Holistic dentists offer safer alternatives.

Holistic dentistry allows you to take a more mindful and safer approach to your dental care.
It is well-known that flossing reduces the chance of developing gum disease and tooth decay. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends frequent interdental cleanings, such as flossing, to remove food debris and plaque buildup from areas of the teeth that are not accessible by regular brushing.
Modern holistic dentists warn about the dangers of using many commercially available dental floss products; many of these are dangerous to your health and the environment.
Do you think this means that you should stop flossing altogether? Definitely, not! Holistic dentists suggest a different floss type than the commonly available ones. They may be unpopular methods, but they are more effective means of holistic dental cleaning.

 Dental Floss Materials

There are many options for dental floss products. Each type of floss has its pros and cons. However, holistic dentists will recommend avoiding dental floss made of toxic materials. These are just a few:

    1. Teflon Dental Floss

Teflon, or polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), is a material known for its durability and resistance to water, shredding, and breakage. Some manufacturers use Teflon to make dental floss. However, some PTFE-coated dental floss brands use perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which is linked to some health concerns. Constant contact with this chemical increases the risk of developing thyroid, kidney, or reproductive health problems.

    1. Silk and Waxed Nylon Dental Floss

Their thinness is why many manufacturers use silk and nylon for their dental floss. They coat them with wax to prevent them from shredding.
However, the wax they use sticks to your teeth while flossing. It can prevent minerals from reaching the surface of the teeth and hinders tooth remineralization.

 Holistic Cleaning Method

A trusted holistic dentist will not only encourage using unwaxed floss but also show you how to floss holistically.
Ozone and herbal remedies are a few ways to clean your teeth holistically. Ozone is a compound composed of three oxygen atoms, and it’s commonly used to treat water to create ozonated water. Experts recommend coating your floss with small amounts of ozone-infused oils before flossing in some cases.

 Dental Cleaning Benefits: Ozone

Ozone is used in many holistic procedures for dental cleaning. According to an expert Pagosa Springs dentist in Sunrise Dentistry, ozone provides patients with many benefits like:

    1. Teeth Healing

Ozone has been successfully used to treat serious gum infections. Flushing ozonated water under the gum line can heal the gums and restore dental health. Ozone can also stimulate the immune system to fight infections.

    1. Reduces Bacterial Growth

Ozone is one of the most effective antibacterial agents around. It’s 1.5 times more effective than chloride at fighting bacteria, viruses, and fungi that grow inside the mouth. It is also a strong disinfectant that dentists can use before other surgical procedures or after tooth extractions.

    1. Neutralizes Acids in The Mouth

Cavity-causing bacteria thrive in the acidic environment of the oral cavity. Ozone treatment can neutralize oral acidity, reduce the growth of bacteria, and promote healthy teeth and mouth.

    1. Non-toxic Dental Treatment s

Ozone is a naturally occurring element and is safe for your body and the environment. It also allows dentists to clean and maintain teeth without toxic or harmful chemicals.

 How Often Do You Have to Floss?

ADA recommends flossing once daily, after meals, for any type of dental cleaning. It doesn’t matter whether you floss during the day or night; it’s consistency in your dental care. Experts recommend using less pressure to clean the teeth to protect the gums.

 How to Floss Properly

Knowing the proper technique to floss your teeth will prevent you from damaging your gums and help keep your mouth clean and healthy. Here’s a brief step-by-step guide to follow:

    • Take about 18 inches of floss, and wrap most of it around your middle finger. Then, wrap the floss around the other finger, which will pick up the dirty part of the floss.
    • Keep the floss between your thumbs, forefingers, and thumbs.
    • Use a gentle rubbing motion to guide the floss between your teeth. Do not insert the floss into your gums.
    • Once the floss reaches your gum line, bend it to a C shape and place it against one tooth. Place the floss between the gum line and the tooth by gently sliding it in.
    • Hold the floss tightly against your tooth, then gently rub it against the tooth’s side using up and down movements. Repeat this until you reach your teeth at the back of your mouth.

Discard the floss when you’re done. Reusing floss won’t clean your teeth effectively and can leave bacteria behind.

 Key Takeaway

Flossing is one of the most effective ways to keep your teeth and gums healthy. However, some flosses use harmful materials and chemicals. Holistic dentists recommend alternate ways like using unwaxed floss, ozone, and herbal remedies.

Tips to Protect Your Car’s Paint & Keep It Shining

The first thing that draws you in when you purchase a new automobile is its brilliant gloss and stunningly shiny new car paint. Here's how you maintain it.
The first thing that draws you in when you purchase a new automobile is its brilliant gloss and stunningly shiny new car paint. Here's how you maintain it.

Shiny, newly polished cars are head-turners on the road; so are dirty cars, though, for a totally different reason.
You might want to study the fundamentals of automotive paint protection to keep the luster of your just purchased automobile or make sure that your beloved car still appears brand new after many years.
We’ve compiled all the proven advice to help you start your new automobile paint protection regimen. Get ready for this instructive adventure from professionals at a reliable Pinellas Park auto body repair shop!

 Protecting Car Paint: Fresh Coat of Paint

Regardless of when you last had your automobile painted, you should always protect the paint. After a fresh coat of paint, remember to only:

    1. Wash your automobile only after two weeks following a repaint

Fresh paints are brittle and frequently require time to dry properly, so the paint solvents may completely evaporate.
If you have to wash your automobile to remove inevitable muck, dust, or bird droppings, wash the area gently with water and dry with light pressure. To remove water and soap residue, auto body restoration specialists advise using a soft microfiber cloth.

    1. When washing, use a mild formulation.

Rinse particles from your freshly painted automobile using formulations rated for washing autos. Dish soaps should not be used since they contain chemicals that might fade clothes.
Most auto body shops also support using vehicle wash solutions rather than car soap with wax.

    1. At least every two months, wax your automobile.

Make sure that new paint has had enough time to set correctly before polishing if you don’t want your automobile to seem dull. To keep your automobile looking elegant for years to come, you must incorporate polishing into your regular auto body maintenance regimen.
Given the filth and grime that adheres to your automobile, it can appear that waiting for months will only be detrimental. The suggested washing and waxing schedule can preserve your car’s paint and safeguard your investment.

  Car Paint Protection: Old Paintwork

Regular cleaning and polishing are fundamental requirements for maintaining automotive paint. However, it is preferable to add a pre-treatment step after clearing up old paint that is deteriorating and gradually flaking.
If you don’t know how, carefully carry out each of the following steps:
Step 1: Apply Finish Cleaner
Take a soft cloth, such as cotton wool, and soak it in a finish cleanser. The cleaner should be applied to your automobile in a circular motion to remove any eroded paint.
Step 2: Apply High-Gloss Wax to Finish
Before submitting your car for inspection and repair, apply a high-gloss hard wax to the paintwork.
Step 3: Consistent Upkeep
We advise inspecting your car’s paintwork annually to stop surface damage from worsening because we are specialists in automobile paint protection and restoration.

 How to Extend the Life of the Paint on Your Car

Your automobile is constantly exposed to substances that might damage the color of the paint, such as mud, dust, animal droppings, water splashes, and sunlight. Not to worry, though. There are practical ways to maintain your car’s most acceptable appearance over time.

  Park in a shaded area.

Parking your car in the garage or covered space is not always possible. Therefore, avoid parking your car directly exposed to the sun during hot weather and leave it in the shade whenever possible.
Avoid exposing your automobile to UV radiation over an extended period to prevent losing its brilliant color. The sun may harm our skin, and the same is true for the paint on our cars.

  Clean up spilled fluids right away .

There may be substances in fluids like lubricants, gasoline, antifreeze, washer solvents, or transmission oils that will degrade your paint. Keep them off the surface of your automobile. Rinse them off gently right away.
Allow the towel to soak the liquid first before gently cleaning the surface of your automobile to avoid spreading the region and causing it to smear.

  Wash thoroughly.

Regularly washing your automobile entirely is essential. Make sure to designate a day during the week to thoroughly clean every component of your automobile, including the tires, window glasses, windshields, car seats, and carpet. Instead of settling with utilizing your home detergents, invest in high-quality cleaning supplies.

  Dry thoroughly .

Your washing will be useless if you don’t allow your automobile to dry completely. Proper drying does not require exposing your automobile to the sun’s heat.
While letting your wet automobile sit in the sun may allow it to dry naturally, it will also seriously harm the paint. You can absorb the water after rinsing with a soft, scratch-free cloth or sponge to stop water marks from developing.

 Key Takeaway

Prevention is always preferable to later paying for a costly repair when safeguarding your car’s paint. The automobile’s exterior can be severely damaged by even the smallest amount of negligence, costing you a lot of money to repair.
However, you must consistently adhere to a maintenance schedule to keep your automobile safe and in showroom condition. The remainder can be employed according to your preference and convenience, but washing and covering your automobile should be frequent.

How to Achieve Business Success

How to Achieve Business Success
How to Achieve Business Success

All business owners have one intention – to attract worldwide attention to their brand and to earn a high profit. However, while this vision may be appealing, the reality is not always rosy. Even the most successful businesses fail as a result of taking too big a risk of having a lack of funds.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to making your business a success, as all businesses are different with unique ways of working and goals. Yet, there are certain lessons that all businesses can learn from to help them on their journey.

Here are some of the best ways you can achieve business success:

    • Gain financial knowledge

One of the main reasons why businesses fail is because they have not got to grips with their finances. Cash flow keeps your business ticking over, and without a regular income, you may run the risk of falling into a downward spiral of debt which may eventually force your business to close.

There is never an early enough time to learn how to budget, as well as keeping track of your incomings and outgoings. Finance is one of the most time-consuming tasks for any business owner, so you may find it useful to hire a bookkeeper or accountant to manage this task on your behalf.

Knowing how much money is coming in and leaving your accounts on a daily or weekly basis will allow you to make well-informed decisions that are less risky and prevents you from overspending.

    • Get organized

The secret to the success of any business owner is staying organized. With so many responsibilities on your plate each day, it is easy to fall behind on tasks that will start to escalate and become a more severe issue as time goes on.

To ensure you do not fall behind on tasks, create a to-do list each day and tick off each task as they are completed.

    • Focus on the customer experience

The end goal of delivering any product or service is to ensure the customer is satisfied. Over the past two years, it has been discovered that customer experience is becoming more of a winning factor in the sales funnel over the product or service itself, with 73% stating that it is the most important factor in any purchase.

As a business, you must make a good impression on the customer so that they choose to shop with you again. With so much competition on the market, it is easy for customers to browse and find goods and services elsewhere. Remember, these are your competitors, so do not give away your most loyal customers.

Small businesses have the benefit of managing customer services over larger businesses – they can better respond to customer needs and speak to the customer on a one-to-one basis. Other tips include enhancing better usability on your website and offering benefits to loyal customers, such as discounts and sales.

    • Take well-calculated risks

As with any business, there is the element of risk involved. In fact, each day, you will be forced to take small risks which could either lead to huge rewards or significant failures. Once you get to grips with the day-to-day operations of your company, you will get acquainted with the risks that are worth taking – and in turn, this should help your business grow.

    • Improve your products

Business owners should have the drive to do better than their competitors to grow, expand and achieve customer loyalty. First thing first is to take a look at your current products and evaluate whether they could be improved in the interests of the consumer.

For example, plastic prototype molding from Protoshop is fast becoming a popular tactic in the manufacturing process to create plastic parts quickly and accurately. Some businesses may still be creating plastic items by hand, but this is time-consuming and is at risk of human error. However, plastic injection molding can guarantee no defects and ensures that the critical dimensions of each product are met.

Prepare to make sacrifices

No one said that running a busy was straightforward. It is arguably one of the most difficult career paths you’ll ever follow. Unlike your friends and family who may be working the standard 9-5 shift pattern, you will be working every hour under the sun to make your business a success. Along the way, you’ll also need to make sacrifices, whether that be giving up social occasions or fewer vacations, in order to get your business off on the right foot.

On the other hand, though, always ensure you are maintaining a sensible work/life balance. While you may be keen to push your business to the next level, ensuring you prioritize your well-being is crucial – not only in the interests of your health, but so you are in the best health to run the business to your full potential.

10 Tips to Franchise Your Business

10 Tips to Franchise Your Business
10 Tips to Franchise Your Business

Turning your business into a franchise is tough, especially since most businesses are not good candidates for franchising. Businesses that require great skill are often difficult to franchise, and businesses without a very strong brand identity are difficult to franchise. If your business doesn’t have a strong identity, or even a strong idea, then it is difficult to franchise. Think of all the strong ideas that have built brands. Volvo = Safety. Dominoes = 30 minutes or free. McDonalds = Cheap food fast. The first step is to ensure your business is suitable for franchising, otherwise you are throwing money away on a project that will never take flight. Here are a few tips you can use to help you franchise your business.

 1 – Get A Franchise Consultant

Even if you read every book on the subject, you are not going to know everything you need to know. Getting a good franchise consultant will help you create a plan of action. You need to know what to do and in what order things should be done. Ideally, the planning phase should take a long time and the execution time should take as little time as possible. A franchise consultant will help you achieve this lofty goal.

 2 – Pay For The Legal Work

There is a lot of legal work. From making sure you are not infringing somebody else’s protected ideas or properties, to things like making sure the franchise owners cannot sue you. This sort of thing takes a long time and is stupidly expensive. However, it is needed to protect yourself from the many ways your franchise may end up losing money.

 3 – Getting The Investment

Setting up franchises and selling the idea to other people is very expensive. It starts out easy to budget, but it takes a long time for franchising to become profitable. That is unless you have significant investment. Your franchise may fail even if you have lots of money, but it is far easier to react to the business environment and is far easier to grow quickly if you have the right investment.

 4 – Make Digital Signs Part Of Your Business

They are great marketing tools, they can set an atmosphere, they create branding opportunities, and they are all part of a modern and successful business. Plus, as you will learn later in this article, there are ways that installing digital signs may help you stay in contact with your franchise buyers. There are tools for every type of business, from Kitcast for restaurants to Kitcast content scheduling for 24 hour businesses. Just make sure you exploit the signs as much as possible because they can be powerful tools to add to your arsenal.

 5 – Promoting Your Business and Your Franchise

You need to promote your business to show how well it runs, and you need to promote your franchise to the people who may buy it. You are offering people a way to start a business that has a higher than usual chance of being successful. The buyers you are targeting are very skeptical and are being asked to spend a lot of money, so your marketing and promotion has to be slick, very efficient and ultra-effective.

 6 – Install and Run a Mentorship and Maintenance Crew

This is very costly, but it is a necessary expense if you want to ensure your franchise buyers are as successful as possible. This is expensive because you are paying experts to go around your various franchise buyers and help them run their business. It is also expensive because these experts have to be good at their jobs or they are going to make the situation worse. In addition, different business owners will run things differently, and what works for one may not work for others. You also need a maintenance crew to help keep businesses running that are struggling. You need to help them keep running until they can turn things around on their own. This (again) is a lot of work and can be very expensive if it is done ineffectively or inefficiently.

 7 – Make Franchise Wide Decisions And Keep Business Owners Updated

Franchises do this all the time with their promotions. They may also do it with their technological advances. For example, right now, McDonalds is still issuing digital menus for the restaurants that haven’t caught up with the others yet. Speaking of digital signs, if you insist that your stores have them, then you can run franchise wide promotions very easily. If you insist your staff have them in their offices or break room, then you can issue information to your entire franchise by simply creating suitable content for their digital signs.

 8 – Offer Marketing Help on a Continuous Basis

There are many ways you can do this. It depends on if you are supplying, if you are the primary marketing force and so forth. For example, some companies offer goods to their franchise owners for half the price and then force them to run discounts on their products. It is up to you how you conduct your marketing, but you need to find a way to offer continuous direct or indirect marketing help for the people who have bought your franchise.

 9 – Managing Sales, Networks, Branding and Supplies Over The Long Term

As you are gathering new franchise buyers, you need to manage the entire process and set up systems to do this over the long term. You can mostly plan for this before you start your franchising, but you need to leave a lot of wiggle room and keep improving your processes as you go. If you are running a big franchise and you are very involved, then this can be a lot of work. Failure on your part will negatively affect all the buyers of your franchise, as well as your future subscription fees, dues, and/or sales of your franchise.

 10 – Managing Your Reputation

Even if you are a very hands-off franchise. Even if you are only allowing for people to use your business name and/or business properties, you still need to manage your reputation. This is tough because you may be the one making the big announcements and making the big moves, but the owners of your franchise are also having an effect on your reputation. You need to manage your reputation as a whole while also putting out the fires being lit by your franchise buyers. Not to mention having to create new rules and protocols to ensure that similar problems do not rise again. Over the long term, managing your reputation is the most important part of franchising a business.

How Trusting Your Salesforce Customizations to 3rd Party App Can Help with Future Releases?

How Trusting Your Salesforce Customizations to 3rd Party App Can Help with Future Releases?
How Trusting Your Salesforce Customizations to 3rd Party App Can Help with Future Releases?

About 150,000 companies are currently using Salesforce to build their businesses. The reason is that Salesforce has an easy-to-use interface. It provides a robust platform for managing sales, marketing, and service functions.

Besides this, the platform also comes with some customization options. So, users can customize it according to their needs. But with customization, you can lose your data or compromise security features.

This is where a third-party app can come to your rescue. This article explains how third-party apps can boost your Salesforce productivity.

What are third-party app Salesforce customizations?

Third-party apps are applications you can install on Salesforce to boost productivity. These apps help you manage your data and automate repetitive tasks. They also provide a solution for customizing your Salesforce automated testing to match your business needs. The best part is that they don’t require any coding skills or technical knowledge to use them.

The benefits of using third-party apps include:

Quick, easy, and secure systems integration

Integrations have become necessary for companies. Integrations help improve the customer experience and create a seamless experience for the end-user. They help you connect Salesforce with other business systems. These systems can include such things as CRM, ERP, and eCommerce platforms.

These integrations also allow automated data entry and management of multiple data sources. 

With third-party apps, you can create a single repository for data storage. You can access this repository from anywhere. This can help improve productivity. It also allows companies to connect Salesforce with other business systems.

You get accurate and relevant data.

Data relevance and accuracy are critical to a successful business. You need accurate and timely data to make informed decisions. This will help you grow your company.

Salesforce gives you real-time insights into customer behavior and performance without manual effort. This can help increase conversion rates and reduce churn rates.

Third-party app customizations improve data accuracy. They automate processes and eliminate error-prone manual work.

For example, you can build a custom Salesforce app to track the lead status or customer projects. This allows your staff to close deals and build customer relationships.

Improved identity management

Businesses want to know that the people they work with are real. Salesforce Identity helps you meet this need. It provides employees and customers with a common identity management system.

This can reduce compliance risk and help you manage all your user profiles in one place. It also provides improved security for sensitive data, such as credit card numbers.

And with third-party apps, you can integrate Salesforce Identity with other systems. You can integrate it with your HR or ERP systems.

Better performance

Every business’ goal is to increase its revenue. But one big challenge for businesses today is keeping up with demand and scaling as fast as possible.

With third-party app customization of your Salesforce, you will improve your performance. You’ll have a faster and more reliable system that can handle peak loads and keep your data safe.

You’ll also have one place to manage all customer, supplier, and employee information. So, you won’t have to worry about any data loss or security breaches.

Faster implementation of apps

Third-party app customization has several benefits. One of them is that it reduces the time needed to implement new software.

You’ll have a system that’s already been customized and configured to your needs. This way, you won’t need to configure or train users on how to use it.

So, when it’s time to implement a new app or change your existing software, you won’t have to worry about delays. You’ll be able to get started right away and begin using the system as soon as possible.

Improved uptime as a benefit of Salesforce custom apps

Your customers expect your business to be available whenever they need it. If they can’t access your system, they won’t be able to process orders or send payments. This means that downtime can have a tremendous impact on your bottom line.

But when you use third-party app customization, you don’t have to worry about downtime. That’s because the provider has already configured the system. It will have high uptime and reliability.

This leads to customer loyalty and increased sales. This is what you want from your business software.

Operational Limits Have Been Reduced

There’s another significant benefit of third-party app customization. It reduces your operational limits. Suppose you use a pre-built system. In that case, the only way to customize it is by adding additional modules or purchasing new software.

This can be expensive, especially if your system doesn’t offer many features. 

But working with a third-party provider gives many more options for customization. You can add new features and customize the existing ones to suit your needs. This means that your system will be more efficient. So, it helps reduce operational limits.


The benefits of working with third-party app customization are undeniable. It helps you save time and money and makes your system more efficient. It also reduces operational limits. Thus, choosing the right provider for your project is essential.

Depending on where you get it, the same program can offer a greater security and privacy risk.

Depending on where you get it, the same program can offer a greater security and privacy risk.
Depending on where you get it, the same program can offer a greater security and privacy risk.

Google and Apple have removed hundreds of apps from their app stores at the request of governments around the world, creating regional disparities in access to mobile apps at a time when many economies are becoming increasingly dependent on them.

The mobile phone giants have removed over 200 Chinese apps, including widely downloaded apps like TikTok, at the Indian government’s request in recent years. Similarly, the companies removed LinkedIn, an essential app for professional networking, from Russian app stores at the Russian government’s request.

However, access to apps is just one concern. Developers also regionalize apps, meaning they produce different versions for different countries. This raises the question of whether these apps differ in their security and privacy capabilities based on region.

In a perfect world, access to apps and app security and privacy capabilities would be consistent everywhere. Popular mobile apps should be available without increasing the risk that users are spied on or tracked based on what country they’re in, especially given that not every country has strong data protection regulations.

My colleagues and I recently studied the availability and privacy policies of thousands of globally popular apps on Google Play, the app store for Android devices, in 26 countries. We found differences in app availability, security and privacy.

While our study corroborates reports of takedowns due to government requests, we also found many differences introduced by app developers. We found instances of apps with settings and disclosures that expose users to higher or lower security and privacy risks depending on the country in which they’re downloaded.

Geoblocked apps

The countries and one special administrative region in our study are diverse in location, population and gross domestic product. They include the U.S., Germany, Hungary, Ukraine, Russia, South Korea, Turkey, Hong Kong and India. We also included countries like Iran, Zimbabwe and Tunisia, where it was difficult to collect data. We studied 5,684 globally popular apps, each with over 1 million installs, from the top 22 app categories, including Books and Reference, Education, Medical, and News and Magazines.

Our study showed high amounts of geoblocking, with 3,672 of 5,684 globally popular apps blocked in at least one of our 26 countries. Blocking by developers was significantly higher than takedowns requested by governments in all our countries and app categories. We found that Iran and Tunisia have the highest blocking rates, with apps like Microsoft Office, Adobe Reader, Flipboard and Google Books all unavailable for download.

We found regional overlap in the apps that are geoblocked. In European countries in our study – Germany, Hungary, Ireland and the U.K. – 479 of the same apps were geoblocked. Eight of those, including Blued and USA Today News, were blocked only in the European Union, possibly because of the region’s General Data Protection Regulation. Turkey, Ukraine and Russia also show similar blocking patterns, with high blocking of virtual private network apps in Turkey and Russia, which is consistent with the recent upsurge of surveillance laws.

Of the 61 country-specific takedowns by Google, 36 were unique to South Korea, including 17 gambling and gaming apps taken down in accordance with the national prohibition on online gambling. While the Indian government’s takedown of Chinese apps happened with full public disclosure, surprisingly most of the takedowns we observed occurred without much public awareness or debate.

Differences in security and privacy

The apps we downloaded from Google Play also showed differences based on country in their security and privacy capabilities. One hundred twenty-seven apps varied in what the apps were allowed to access on users’ mobile phones, 49 of which had additional permissions deemed “dangerous” by Google. Apps in Bahrain, Tunisia and Canada requested the most additional dangerous permissions.

Three VPN apps enable clear text communication in some countries, which allows unauthorized access to users’ communications. One hundred and eighteen apps varied in the number of ad trackers included in an app in some countries, with the categories Games, Entertainment and Social, with Iran and Ukraine having the most increases in the number of ad trackers compared to the baseline number common to all countries.

One hundred and three apps have differences based on country in their privacy policies. Users in countries not covered by data protection regulations, such as GDPR in the EU and the California Consumer Privacy Act in the U.S., are at higher privacy risk. For instance, 71 apps available from Google Play have clauses to comply with GDPR only in the EU and CCPA only in the U.S. Twenty-eight apps that use dangerous permissions make no mention of it, despite Google’s policy requiring them to do so.

The role of app stores

App stores allow developers to target their apps to users based on a wide array of factors, including their country and their device’s specific features. Though Google has taken some steps toward transparency in its app store, our research shows that there are shortcomings in Google’s auditing of the app ecosystem, some of which could put users’ security and privacy at risk.

Potentially also as a result of app store policies in some countries, app stores that specialize in specific regions of the world are becoming increasingly popular. However, these app stores may not have adequate vetting policies, thereby allowing altered versions of apps to reach users. For example, a national government could pressure a developer to provide a version of an app that includes backdoor access. There is no straightforward way for users to distinguish an altered app from an unaltered one.

Our research provides several recommendations to app store proprietors to address the issues we found:

  • Better moderate their country targeting features
  • Provide detailed transparency reports on app takedowns
  • Vet apps for differences based on country or region
  • Push for transparency from developers on their need for the differences
  • Host app privacy policies themselves to ensure their availability when the policies are blocked in certain countries

The Conversation

This article is republished from The Conversation. Read the original article.

The Future of Automation and Artificial Intelligence

The Future of Automation and Artificial Intelligence
The Future of Automation and Artificial Intelligence

Automation and artificial intelligence have been trending topics in the world of technology recently. But then, most people can barely tell what they are and how they can impact the future of work and life. Many people think of robotics and sci-fi when they hear about AI.

However, automation and AI are simple concepts, not as technical as they might sound at first. They are relatively new trends that are still evolving, and sooner than later, they will become part of our lives. This article will explain what they are in more detail.

Let’s get into it.

What Is AI and What Can It Do? 

It is vital to start by understanding what AI is and why it is worth adopting as a business. AI is the ability of a computer or computer-related robot to be controlled and perform activities that are usually reserved for intelligent beings. That’s the most straightforward definition of AI.

But there are many follow-up questions that come after defining AI. One is on whether AI is a good or bad thing and how it will impact the future of work. Well, the reality is that AI is a good thing for work and society in general. It can help improve productivity and performance.

AI can only be a bad thing if humans mismanage it. For instance, AI is not neutral and thus can be prone to bias. It is the people managing it that should put effort into it to ensure it doesn’t lead to innate bias. In HR, for instance, it’s vital to avoid gender, class, or ethnic bias.

The Evolution of AI 

The AI field has kept growing in recent years, and its applications are increasing daily. Many years back, AI was just heard of but it had no significant impact on human life. But this has been changing with time, and decades later, we rely on it in a wide range of ways.

One way that AI is helping us today is by automating repetitive tasks. There are a lot of such tasks in the software development world. Any business in the software industry that relies on manual processes is almost or already overtaken by events and will soon not be profitable.

This industry has changed, with businesses leveraging the Guidewire testing solution and a plethora of other AI tools to streamline processes. AI now plays a vital role in the world of software development. It helps ensure software testing processes are free of any flaws.

Besides, it helps reduce release cycles for software developers. This has helped the industry and the businesses that operate in it boost profits. In short, the evolution of AI, which has made it penetrate into such fields, is a blessing and, thus, it’ll be good to ensure it goes mainstream.

Industries That Automation and AI Will Change 

There are a lot of industries that will soon feel the impact of automation and AI. We have already mentioned the software development industry as one of the top sectors. But then, AI is getting into sectors that even its developers might not have imagined decades ago.

Here are some of them:

    • Education: The digitization of textbooks through AI has become more popular today. It has also become common to find virtual tutors and instructors in this industry. Facial analysis gauges powered by AI are also helping to know students’ emotions.
    • Healthcare: AI is making it possible to diagnose diseases quickly. Monitoring patients, big data analysis, and drug discovery are also things that are becoming easier. AI is helping by improving accuracy and speeding up processes.
    • Media: AI is also gaining traction in the journalism field. Making sense of complex reports is becoming much easier with solutions like Cyborg technology. This helps journalists create more stories in a shorter time.
    • Transportation: Autonomous cars are still being developed and improved on. It might take time to see them more on the roads, but the steps being made in their development have been significant.
    • Customer service: AI chatbots and assistants are taking over the customer service space. It has become easier to provide customer support promptly. Also, Google is developing an AI assistant that will help businesses make human-like calls in the future.
    • Manufacturing: The use of AI-powered robots to work alongside human beings in the manufacturing world is a growing trend. Robots can help with a wide range of tasks, including stacking and assembly.
    • Human resources: Job searching and HR processes have changed significantly with the growth of AI. There are various job search platforms that you can use to find work, and HR departments are also leveraging AI to speed up hiring.

Preparing for the Future of Automation and AI 

The Future of Automation and Artificial Intelligence

There is a lot of ongoing research and experimentation in the AI field today. And, the reality is that AI hasn’t reached its full potential yet. There’s a lot more that it will help humans do in the future. The only thing left is to start embracing it and upgrading our skills to its levels.

Otherwise, it might be tricky to adapt to future work environments that will be leveraging AI at a wider scale. Thus, learning new skills will be vital for anyone that wants to work with AI and increase their productivity. You should start thinking about acquiring AI skills by taking a course.

The future of automation and AI is undoubtedly bright. Governments and other international bodies also seem to look at AI as a potential solution to their challenges. Thus, we will see AI being applied more to combat climate change and other environmental issues.


There’s no doubt that automation and AI will take over the world in the next decade or so. It is therefore important that both individuals and businesses embrace them early enough. As a business owner, failure to adopt automation and AI will leave huge skill gaps in the future.

Thus, you should consider having a strategy that will help you deploy automation and AI correctly. Also, invest in tools such as the Guidewire testing solution to ensure you navigate this area smoothly. It’ll help to prepare for increased reliance on automation and AI in the future.

What Is DevSecOps And How Effective Is It?

What Is DevSecOps And How Effective Is It?
What Is DevSecOps And How Effective Is It?

These days, software plays an increasingly important role in our daily lives, whether in the workplace or at home. No longer a remarkable but seemingly preposterous notion conceived by Alan Turing, software is now woven into the fabric of our everyday existence, performing a wide range of functions.

However, with this importance comes a high element of risk, as hackers and other ‘malicious actors’ continually try to use software against us. Many organizations have fallen victim to hacking, suffering data breaches that lead to the personal data of hundreds or thousands of people being leaked onto the Internet. As a result of this ever-present threat, software developers rely on various testing techniques during the creation of their applications.

In the past, this testing process was usually carried out by a separate department or even an external company. Once their software was approved, developers would then work on newer versions which would be released perhaps every few months or after an interval of a year or more. Because this process took so long, there was ample time to conduct rigorous security checks in a bid to make the software as impenetrable to attack as possible.

The Rise Of DevSecOps

Over the course of the last ten years or so, the landscape of software development has become rather different as the industry shifts to accommodate new technologies.

With the help of the latest innovations in the field, software developers were able to take over the handling and scaling of their own infrastructure, using a new arsenal of complex tools and techniques.

While this allowed for a much speedier and more effective production and release cycle, initially, the robustness of the software’s security often failed to meet the required standards. This is why the culture of DevSecOps was developed.

Using this approach, security testing no longer consists of a final check at the end of a development cycle, which could lead to costly fixes or perhaps even potentially missing the detection of existing loopholes and vulnerabilities.

Instead, software developers now weave security testing into the development process at different stages. This is to help effectively detect and repair any issues with the code and with the application itself.

These are the three conditions of a genuine DevSecOps model:

    • The security checks are carried out by the software development team.
    • Any problems that are found as a result of the testing are patched by the development team.
    • Necessary repairs are also carried out by the development team.

In this environment, there is no need for external intervention.

The Tools Involved In Software Security Testing

There are several tools and techniques that are commonly used by developers to test software at different stages of its creation.

Early on in the software development life cycle (SDLC), SAST, which goes by other names including white box testing, is used to review source code and look for common weaknesses in the architecture of an application. Using this method, developers can weed out approximately half of the software’s vulnerabilities.

Later in the development stage, DAST can be used (also known as black box testing). Using various techniques, DAST seeks out weak spots including configuration errors, memory corruption, arbitrary files, and SQL injection, among others. Black box testing emulates the actions of a would-be attacker and does not require the source code to detect security vulnerabilities.

One of the methods used in DAST is called fuzz testing. This involves introducing malformed or invalid inputs into a software system to see if any defects appear as a result. These defects can then be repaired before the application is launched.

Fuzz testing has a range of benefits, such as helping to prevent zero-day attacks. These are a major threat to organizations, including industry giants like Microsoft, and the ability to detect weaknesses that SAST techniques may have missed. Fuzz testing is also cost-effective and requires no additional labor or intervention once it’s up and running.

Does DevSecOps Work?

As with any complex process, DevSecOps does have its issues, mainly focused on the repair of the loopholes and weak spots. This element in the process requires the software development team to acquire an additional skill set to make sure that the fixes are up to scratch; to address this, some companies hire a specialist to oversee the repairs.

However, while there may be some current limitations, DevSecOps does bring a variety of benefits for software developers. These include:

    • Improved speed and efficiency when detecting defects and weak spots.
    • Reduced costs.
    • Transparency is assured from the beginning of the software development life cycle.
    • DevSecOps can not only improve the security of an application but can also improve the security of your entire software infrastructure.

As a result of these and other advantages, implementing DevSecOps into your organization’s software development practices can help to ensure higher standards of security and compliance and has the potential to save a great deal of both time and money.

To help them get started and apply the methods with more ease, companies keen to employ DevSecOps can find a variety of tools and techniques at their disposal to help make its adoption more efficient.

A Brief Overview Of Automated Sandblasting Machinery

A Brief Overview Of Automated Sandblasting Machinery
A Brief Overview Of Automated Sandblasting Machinery

Otherwise commonly referred to as abrasive blasting, this technique has long been used in various industries, from automotive and marine to construction and manufacturing. The process requires sophisticated machines that make the task easier and quicker than usual, perfect for large-volume applications and mass production.

For instance, many professionals are nowadays investing in high-quality automated sandblasting equipment that achieves the best surface preparation in the shortest possible time. It boosts productivity, reduces manual labor, and delivers consistent results, making it an incredible asset to the industry.

The following points elaborate more on this equipment and how it makes life easy for workers in diverse fields.

About the process

In simple terms, it is a surface finishing or preparation procedure involving specific powered machinery to accurately spray abrasive materials onto a surface using high air or liquid pressure.

It is called sandblasting because silica sand was the first media used when this technique was created years ago. But this media is rarely, if ever, used anymore, primarily due to safety concerns, with silica posing a risk to human health. Also, it has low recyclability value, turning into dust upon impact with the surface. Invariably, synthetic or manufactured media is widely used today.

Besides adding texture to finished concrete, the method is widely preferred to clean and prep steel structures and other metal objects. Also, the media used in the blasting process often changes depending on the specific project. For instance, you can use abrasive plastic or steel with hot water to remove grease or rust from a surface. Alternatively, glass beads can help eliminate calcium deposits from tiles and other places.

Diverse equipment and their uses

Although there are many machines to choose from, you should determine what you need it for and check the features to ensure it is the right one for your needs. For instance, you can choose an automated one if you wish to produce a large number of parts with minimal labor. Alternatively, you can select a blast cabinet that can be automated if necessary.

The following are some popular ones you might find interesting to know about.

    • Rotary head table blasters – You can load small or large batches of parts of various sizes and shapes, choose the cycle time, and allow the machine to complete the task effectively.
    • Inline conveyor systems – It is excellent for continuous processes, ensuring diverse parts are blasted evenly regardless of their complex structure. You can choose the speed and stream exposure to serve large volumes of pieces simultaneously.
    • Inline basket blasters – Going further than the manual variant, these machines incorporate a continually-fed process, quickly preparing several small parts simultaneously as they tumble within.
    • Pipe and cylinder blasters – They can work simultaneously on the inside and outside surfaces of huge pipes and cylinders with remarkable precision.

Investing in a dust collection and filtration machine is advisable as it can keep the workstation and the environment debris-free.

Always buy from a trusted supplier

It is prudent to choose a reputable manufacturer for your automated sandblasting equipment needs, as it will ensure you receive the best product and support for your money. Also, many professional suppliers custom-make other machines that your work may require, enabling you to avail yourself of several top-grade items at affordable prices. You can check their product list and quality guarantee, ask for a quote, and find other relevant details to know if they meet your specific needs.

Typically, it is best to opt for companies that serve various industries, such as aerospace, construction, civil engineering, railway and other transit, military, shipyards, etc., indicating they have experience creating equipment for all sorts of needs. Also, ensure they provide repair and maintenance services besides installation and technical support, allowing first-time buyers to get the hang of the machines quickly.

Finally, choosing someone who also provides spare parts is essential, as it will ensure you always have working units.