Friday, October 28, 2011

Don't Get Stuck in The Web of Perfectionism

Do you find yourself agonizing over every little detail? Does it take you 3 times as long to accomplish a task because you are trying to get it “just right?” If so, you might be a perfectionist? It’s not an uncommon personality trait to see in the business world and it can help to push individuals to endeavor to do their best. In extreme cases, though, it leads to wasted time and resources.  The outcome usually doesn’t justify the immense effort that went into it. If you find yourself in the web of extreme perfectionism, here are a few tips that can lead you out.

Make a Decision and Stick to it
When you choose a direction to take and announce it to your employees, stick to it. One of the pitfalls of perfectionism is wasted time second-guessing yourself. If you're constantly changing gears after your team has started the project, then you have wasted those recourses. You might never know if your third, fourth, or fifth decision would be any better.  As they say, go with your gut!

Trus t your Employees
When you tell your staff your plan and what resources you'll need from them, listen to their input. They will let you know if it’s possible and if they think it’s a good idea. Listening to their insight will help prevent you from sliding into another guessing game. Another piece to this is, trusting your employees to do their part well. You hired them because they're skilled, right? Lastly, before you start implementing your plan, just in case…


Have a Plan B
You never know what’s going to happen! An obstacle may arise that cannot be overcome, so make sure you have a plan B. A backup plan will help you from getting entrenched to deeply in your first plan and devastated if things go wrong. The more flexible and ready for change you are, the easier it is to adapt to things life throws at you.

There is a fine line between perfectionism and having a critical eye. It’s important to always strive for the best, but worrying about getting something perfect is harmful to the project and your mental health. The steps I’ve outlined above will help you to free yourself from the perfectionist mindset, if you find yourself there. Here is a great article about avoiding the pitfalls of perfectionism all together.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Some Surprises at the T3 Gadget Awards

In a world where technological advances appear everyday in news-feeds and broadcasts, the annual T3 Gadget Awards is a microcosm of all of these advances in one location.  Like the Oscars for Technology, the T3 Gadget Awards nominate the most cutting-edge gadgets out today. With past releases like the iPad 2, Microsoft’s Kinect and huge advances in gaming, it’s worth a quick note to show some of the most important revelations which have taken place in 2011.  Over 960,000 votes, along with the final tabulations of a 6 person expert panel, decided the winners.  Here are just a few of the more interesting revelations, as well as some interesting--if not ironic--choices for winners.   

Ironic Winners


As gadgetry encompasses many arenas, so must the T3 categories.  This means that categories like Best Retailer and Gadget Personality of the Year are included.  The latter had one of the most ironic choices for winner:  Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook.  Although one cannot argue his importance in the world of communication, he’s never been known for his George Clooney-esque charisma. Then there’s the category of Best Commuting Device.  Here, pitted against automobiles and electric bicycles, the winner was the Amazon Kindle.  True, it will help pass the time while traveling, but it does make a perplexing choice for Commuting Device of the Year.


Influential Winners

Another interesting revelation can be found in the voters’ decision that Twitter is the “Digital Media Service of the Year.”  Sure, Zuckerberg’s got the Personality, but Twitter won the bigger battle. To be sure, the principals of large corporations like Apple, Google and Facebook are probably not crying themselves to sleep because they didn’t win a Gadget gong. It is notable, however, that more votes were generated for Twitter than any other medium by the tech community themselves. Those in-the-know with lots of sway ought to be taken very seriously by the tech giants. Basically, Facebook can’t rest on its laurels (just look at MySpace for reference).

Surprising Winners

For many, the iPhone 4 would probably be guessed as the runaway winner of the Phone of the Year award. Instead--and more importantly--because more serious tech fans cast the votes, Samsung’s Galaxy S II walked away with the award. In the Tech Brand of the Year category, Google was the big winner, beating out rivals Facebook and Apple.  Again, it’s “just the T3 Gadget Awards”, but as always, it’s better to be the winner than the runner-up.  And when millions of dollars rides on person to person advertising and brand recognition, every tiny bit helps.

In the final analysis, the 2011 T3 Gadget Awards provided some fascinating insight into where technology is headed.  Some of the winners were surprising, with Samsung taking a number of Awards, showing that it’s not just the Giants in the industry making all the waves.  Please take some time to check out the complete list of Awards, categories and nominees.  You can even go back to 2008; the first year votes were cast, and see how much technology has changed, who the winners were in the past and whether or not they’re still relevant today.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Implementing Energy Monitoring

Becoming greener is on many people’s agendas these days. Whether the intention is to save money or reduce the impact to the environment, this is true not only for individuals, but many high-tech companies as well. A necessity to understanding how to conserve energy is becoming aware of the areas of your home or business that consume the most energy.

Japan recently hosted the annual CEATEC conference earlier this month just outside Tokyo. During the conference, Toshiba and Intel announced their recent developments in energy monitoring. It’s no real shock to see these companies coming forward with big developments that permit individuals and companies to regulate and monitor their energy consumption. The following are a couple of the changes they will implement in 2012 that may change the way companies and individuals regulate their energy consumption.

Intel

Intel has created an application that permits PC users to monitor the energy consumption of their PC. The application has an easy-to-read dashboard that organizes the data into graphs, charts, and statistics, which make it very user-friendly.

Toshiba


Toshiba is using it’s recent purchase of Landish Gyr as part of its “smart home” offering. Landish Gyr specialize in smart-meters for homes. With this offering people can monitor the volume of energy consumed throughout their homes. Also on the agenda is the development of “green cloud” technologies for a number of different industries covering anything from city infrastructure to healthcare.

While these two companies have big plans for energy monitoring in 2012, it seems as though many businesses in the US are moving away from it, namely, Microsoft and Google. In June, Microsoft announced the discontinuation of Hohm, their energy-monitoring service launched in 2009. Google also seems to be changing its green game by shutting down Google Powermeter, that they also launch in 2009.

We can see that though companies in the US are moving away from energy monitoring, companies in Japan are focused on it. What will the future be for the green technology world? It’s hard to say, but if you have any ideas or speculations about this, we would love to hear them!


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Quick Take on the iPhone 4S - Is It Worth the Upgrade

The first time we heard the news that Apple was coming out with the next iPhone, we were as giddy as schoolchildren.  We all hoped that that it was going to be a game changing iPhone 5.  But, alas, it was not meant to be.  Instead, and with much fanfare, we got the iPhone 4S and we could only help but ask – is it just an iPhone 4 with a few more bells and whistles? Would it truly be worth the long wait in line?. Was the 4s destined to be revolutionary or evolutionary?  Below is a brief look at the 3 most noticeable upgrades found in the iPhone 4S.

Software


One of the most noticeable areas of improvement can be found in the amount of speed and power that the 4S commands.  Apple announced that the iPhone 4S has seven times the graphical prowess of its predecessor and is twice as powerful. It features the iPad 2’s dual-core A5 chip that makes opening apps, loading the web browser, scrolling through home screens and countless other operations smoother and faster.


Siri

One remarkable distinction between the iPhone 4 and the 4S is the addition of  your very own “personal assistant” named Siri.  When it works, it is an amazing feat of technology. You can just tell Siri to contact a friend and tell her you’re running late.  Tell Siri, “I’m feeling like Indian food,” and she will tell you where the nearest place serving Sag Paneer is located.  Even so, the caveat is “when it works.”  When Siri cannot understand a particular command, area or specific person, she will tell you humorously, if not annoyingly after a while, that she can’t process the info.  Undoubtedly this will be fixed in the future, but it would be wonderful if it worked flawlessly now.  See this article for another take on Siri.

iCloud


Similar to MobileMe, iCloud allows you to access all of your most critical data, pictures, apps, music and photos from any device, whether you access it from the device the content was created on, or if you want to use your iPad to show your friends a picture you took using your iPhone. One downfall, however, is that for users used to MobileMe’s specific syncing procedures, the user id it created doesn’t “play well” with iCloud. At the same time, iCloud doesn’t recognize email accounts like Yahoo or Gmail as they don’t contain a me.com email address.  Although it’s fantastic technology, the reality that it still has what appear to be fairly obvious faults makes it that much more frustrating to Apple enthusiasts.

In the final analysis, the iPhone 4S will of course be an enormous commercial success. But, are the upgrades worth the wait?  In the end, it depends on who you ask. If you’re a Mac-addict, always in need of the most up-to-date and coolest toy, then of course, it’s worth the wait.  With its improvements in power, efficiency, speed, software and upgrades, the 4S is an impressive machine.  However, if you’re able to get all you need from your old 3G(S), there’s really nothing completely revolutionary about the iPhone 4S.  As an evolutionary device, it’s still pretty cool.


Friday, October 14, 2011

How Tablets and the Cloud Support Creativity

The cloud has been advantageous for many businesses. Because of the massive amounts of information that can be stored in the cloud and the prevalence of tablets in our lives, creative businesses have greatly benefitted. The cloud gives people in creative industries an edge they didn’t previously have. It may not be obvious how creative businesses have improved due to the cloud, so here are just a few ways they have changed.


Portfolios
The size of someone’s portfolio used to be restricted to what they could physically carry.   Due to this size limitation, there were limitations to the content as well. Now, thanks to the cloud, they can create separate files tailored to each client’s needs, which they can quickly access from a tablet. This mobility can lead to more business more quickly.

Creative Collaboration
Collaborating used to be limited to people near you. This meant that very skilled people across the globe did not have much opportunity to collaborate on a project. If they were a part of the collaboration process, it meant sending large files back and forth, which produced duplicate copies and a slower working pace. When files are store in the cloud, you can work on them simultaneously and update only one copy. Tablets allow you to pull the project up anywhere and work on it, so creative inspiration is not stifled.


Brainstorming
Similarly, the cloud has improved the way groups brainstorm together. By creating mind maps in the cloud, anyone can develop a concept together. By accessing the mind map on a tablet or other mobile device, you can get opinions from colleagues and update the shared file with ease. Breaking down the distance barrier allows skilled individuals who previously could not contribute to do so.

With the expansiveness of the cloud and the mobility of the tablet, there are almost no limitations to where creativity can happen.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

How to safeguard your computer

Computers are prized possessions, regardless of what they are being used for. They provide a practical value regarding the processes they allow us to automate, but there is also a financial value which should be considered. The high price level carried by computers means they are tempting targets for any thief. Here are a few quick tips to consider when beefing up your computer’s security.


Physical Security

Don’t mistake the cables plugged into your desktop as any kind of safeguard. Even if they are complicated and challenging to access, a thief is more than happy to leave with the bare bones of your machine. To avoid being left with only a tangle of wires, try using a strong security cable, preferably one that includes a key. These cables generally cost around $40 and are easy to install and use. They anchor your computer in a way that makes it extremely difficult to steal.

Data Security

A computer’s value is not only dependent on the physical items that make it up. Sensitive information can often be found by searching a computer’s hard drive. While copying and encrypting all of your information can be a good way to save and safeguard valuable data on any computer, it’s important to consider forego ing the storage of private and financial information anywhere on your machine. Information such as your checking account number, credit card information or social security number shouldn’t be stored permanently on a computer.


Keeping Track

There have been a lot of great computer tracking apps developed in recent years. While these apps need the hard drive to remain intact in order to work, if you act quickly, they highly increase your chances of recovery. There have been numerous cases in which a stolen laptop has been discovered using one of these services. While your laptop’s return may not be promised, it’s still a great safety measure to take.


While all of these tips are useful in keeping your computer safe, there is no replacement for common sense and reasonable vigilance. Make sure to take good care of your computer; chances are it takes good care of you.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Education in the Workplace

Workplace education programs (WEP) can lead to positive rise in company morale. Companies can utilize this in small ways with educational handouts, education breaks as a group, or by providing full or half day classes to employees. In either case, learning interesting things keeps people inspired and exercises their minds. Employees will feel like you value them since it supports their personal goals of furthering their careers. Knowing their company is investing in them makes them feel secure in their position.

That being said, workplace education programs can be boring and if the classes aren’t challenging enough to hold employee interest, it can negate all of the positive results that can result from these programs.

Here are some ideas to keep your education programs enjoyable.

Divide employees into groups – Groups create healthy competition and encourages collaboration. They also help employees get acquainted with each other better, which can lead to an even more supportive team environment.

Give Incentives – Whether presented to groups or individuals, incentives can be a fantastic way to encourage people to pay attention and do their best.

Be Playful – Turning education into a game will help with retention of the materials being taught. Additionally, games also help to develop team-building skills.

Implementing education programs in the workplace not only supports your company by creating a more educated work environment but also promotes personal development. These programs can be exciting and a fun method to break up the week. If offering classes isn't something that your company can do in the future, try implementing something on a smaller scale, for example giving your staff a subject to study after which holding a quiz. Divide the group into teams and create a game out it.  The team with the most right answers wins donuts and coffee the next day. Workplace education programs can be scaled to fit your company; what is important is that, when done right, workplace education programs can have a strong positive effect on your company overall.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The PC Age is Alive and Well

Portable computing has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years, bringing tablet and smartphone devices to the front lines of technological advancement. These gadgets are capable of doing some awesome things, but to what extent do they actually replace the use of the classic PC? Glitz and glamour aside, the personal computer remains to be the most practical option for a wide range of computing needs. Though tablets and smartphones seem to be the dominating technological force at the moment, PC lovers need not fear. Here are the top three reasons why the PC isn’t going anywhere.

Desktops Are Still Needed

    Tech critics have long predicted the death of the personal computer. However, PCs are still alive and well and, obviously, much needed. There are certain practical and physical limitations that always seem to keep desktop computers as the most powerful option. Even if technology eventually advances to a place where a current desktop’s power fits into a tablet, think how much power will then be able to fit into a desktop where that same technology is applied! No matter how sophisticated portable technologies become, desktops will always be the superior option in terms of pace and power.

Tablets Are Less Practical

    Tablets are great tools, useful in a variety of situations. While a tablet offers some great portability options, the PC is still the preferred machine for sophisticated computing. There are some tasks that are easier to complete on a PC based on practical sizing and style. A personal computer is superior for composing long documents, running sophisticated programs and even surfing the web to the full extent of Internet functionality. All of this to say, PCs are generally much more ergonomic than any tablet, making them the more practical option.

Smartphones Are Less Functional

    It seems like everyone has a smartphone these days. Smartphones are great for checking your email, watching YouTube videos or even making a phone call. Some critics claim that, as smartphones become more sophisticated, they will begin to steal away some of the laptop market. However, much like tablets, smartphones aren’t a practical choice for basic computing. Case in point: the screens are too small. This is an innate limitation, because no one wants a phone that can’t fit in his or her pocket. Can you imagine a college student writing an entire term paper on their smartphone? Neither can we.

While the portable industry has made remote computing better than ever, it’s still important to have faith in the importance of PCs. For more reasons why the PC age is still alive and well, take a look at this article.