Friday, December 30, 2011

iPhone Tricks that Will Make Your Life Easier

iPhones do a lot more than make calls! We can stream movies and TV shows, update our social sites, and listen to music. They can even give us direction to places we want to go. It appears as though the one thing they can’t do is the dishes. There is a lot you realize your iPhone can do, but we wanted to share a few timesaving tricks you may have been unaware of.

Saving Time

If you find it problematical to type a Web address on the small on-screen keyboard, before clicking in the address bar on your browser, turn your iPhone to a horizontal position. The keyboard will now be larger, making it easier to type an “e” and not a “w”. This is a timesaving tip for making phone calls. When browsing the Web, if you locate phone number you need to call, simply tap the telephone number on the screen and your phone will dial it.

More Efficient Typing

Apple itself offers a number of tips for getting more out of your iPhone. If you're typing using the on-screen keyboard, try tapping the space bar twice at the end of a sentence. Your iPhone will instantly include a period and then capitalize the next word you type. If you need to spice up your message with special characters, just touch and hold a letter for several seconds. As you do this, a variety of special characters will show up. You can then easily insert these symbols into your message.

Quick Printing, Personalized Entertainment

If you own an AirPrint-enabled printer, you are able to print documents, emails, and even Web pages from your iPhone. To print an email message, tap the Reply icon and then select “Print” and your phone will send the message to your printer. For a Web page, touch the “Action” icon and select “Print.”

Your iPhone can play your music, but did you know you can make a individualized music playlist on the go? Open the iPod application, tap the “Playlists” icon and chose the “Add Playlist” option. After renaming your playlist, just navigate to the song you wish to add and select it.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Touchscreen Technology: How does it Work?

Touchscreens have become an integral part of our everyday life. When we interact with a device that has a touchscreen, we expect it to execute the action we want without a second thought. It wasn’t too far in the past that the concept of a touchscreen was a dream. Yet, today we see it as a common feature in lots of devices.

How, exactly, does touchscreen technology work? How do so many of our screens know what to do when we touch the icons displayed on them? The answer isn't that straightforward. That is because there are a few different types of touchscreen technologies, and each of them works in a different way.

Resistive touchscreens

This is the most common form of touchscreen technology. Resistive touchscreens are coated with an electrically conductive layer. Your fingertip changes the electric current whenever you touch it. This delivers a message to the device’s controller telling it what action you would like to perform. This technology is more affordable than other touchscreen technologies and also less sensitive.

Surface wave touchscreen

This type of touchscreen is popular as well. It relies on ultrasonic waves that pass over the touchscreen. When you touch the panel, you in essence change the wave. Depending on how and where it is changed, specific data is given to the device's controller to relay what action to preform.

Capacitive touchscreens

Capacitive touchscreens most often have the sharpest image quality. Devices using this technology are coated with a material that sends an electrical current across the screen. As the human body is electrical, whenever you touch the screen, you absorb some of the electric current which disrupts the flow across the device. Just as with the other types of touchscreen, the disruption sends information to the device’s controller. The device then performs the action that you requested, at the touch of a fingertip.

Fortunately, to enjoy touchscreen technology you don’t have to have a deep understanding of it. And you don’t have to be an engineer to realize this technology will become more popular, not less.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Demise of Paper Currency

Will digital currency one-day replace paper money? It may sound like something out of sci-fi, but it might not be as far-fetched as it sounds. Consider that consumers already rely heavily today on credit cards and online services as Paypal to pay their bills. They swipe credit cards at the fuel pump when filling their cars. They order movies online through Paypal. They even purchase their burgers and fries with gift cards pre-loaded with currency. When you look at it this way, we're really not that far away from ditching paper and coins for digital dollars.

The Bitcoin revolution?

Bitcoin has been around since 2009 and is a peer-to-peer digital currency.
It can be used to purchase products and services online. The technology behind Bitcoin is considered to be impossible to hack, which eases most security concerns.

Bitcoin isn't technically a legal tender and for that reason many, if not most, retailers outside the Bitcoin user database will not accept it.  It's very possible another alternative digital currency may pop up and over take Bitcoin, becoming more mainstream compared to the innovative Bitcoin.

The digital currency model

There are many advantages to ditching paper money. You can’t lose it, you don’t have to worry about having exact change, and there is no need to replace damaged currency, which saves time, energy, and funds.

Digital currency can be more secure than paper money, too. When you are robbed as you are walking down the street, you have little chance of recouping the money. However, if someone steals your credit card, it's easy to cancel the card, safeguarding yourself financially. The same scenario could easily exist with your digital dollars.

Holdouts

Of course, not everybody is going to be sold on digital currency. There are still individuals today who don't use credit cards and who have never banked at an ATM. They prefer to deal with their transactions the old-fashioned way with paper money that they can see and feel. Then again, paper money?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The 2011 Tokyo Motor Show

The Tokyo Motor Show showcased many of the most exciting concept cars of 2011. Many companies had efficiency in mind with their eco-friendly models while others pushed their concepts to the limits of creativity. Here we will explore a few of the more intriguing and eccentric designs of 2011.

Volkswagen

For those of us who like to rock and roll, Volkswagen revealed their newest Beetle. They have made friends with Fender to bring a sound system to this car that is ready for the main stage. The system includes a 400W 10-channel amplifier, a subwoofer, and two sets of tweeters, one set in the front and one in the back.


Honda

This year Honda debuted this an ultra tiny electric car they call their “micro commuter”. This eco-friendly automobile is only 98.4 inches long, 49.2 wide, and 56.3 tall and brings a video game feel to your morning drive. Two joysticks control the car. Its top speed is only 37 mph and carries three people. Although this may seem like a drawback, for anyone navigating a crowded city, its tiny size is perfect.

Daihatsu

This design may resemble a bus; it is actually the FC Sho Case fuel cell car. Daihatsu’s revolutionary design contains no rare earth metals, which makes it more affordable to produce then other fuel cells. The LCD screen on the exterior play relaxing wave patterns, but when getting into the car, passengers must step high over these to get in, making it hard for elderly people or those with injuries.

Toyota and Yamaha

We see more and more scooters on the road these days as people look for easy and fuel-efficient ways to get around town. Toyota and Yamaha partnered up to take this a step further with an electric tricycle called the EC-Miu. It has Wi-Fi capabilities and can be recharged at charging stations used by other electric vehicles.

This year’s concepts at the Tokyo Motor Show were very green focused. Every year the designs unveiled at the show seem to get more inventive. I can’t wait to see what they bring us next year.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Android Phone Tips

There's a significant difference between Android smartphones and Apple's iPhones. Android phones, powered by Google, permit a remarkable level of customization. Android phones are open source. Which means you are able to personalize everything from your Android phone's home screen to the way you download apps and programs. This allows for a lot of freedom and best of all, customizing your Android smartphone is not much of a problem. Simply follow the tips below to create a smartphone that's as unique as you are.


One-Touch Dialing
There are undoubtedly certain numbers that you dial more frequently than others. With Android smartphones, you can set up one-touch dialing for those people that you call the most. Simply press an open space on your screen and select the “Shortcuts” option. Then press Direct Dial and pick the right person from your list of contacts. Now you'll be able to call that individual simply by pressing just one button.

Saving Time Searching the Web
Your Android phone can be customized to include your most regularly visited Web sites on the home screen. This is accomplished by pressing and holding the desired site in your browser's bookmarks. A list of options will pop up. Select the “Add Shortcut to Home” option. This will add the Web page to your phone's home page.

Organizing with Folders
By creating folders on your Android phone, you can better organize everything from your contacts to your most crucial work documents by grouping these items into their own folders. For example, if you're focusing on an important project for work, you can create a new folder that's reserved for documents, Web addresses, and contact numbers associated with this specific project. To make folders, press on a blank space on your phone's screen. When your list of options pops up, press “Folders.” This will enable you to create your own folder and name it. You can then drag and drop important documents, images, and files into these folders.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Phishing Scams: How To Protect Your Small Business From Cyber Thieves

Phishing scams are at the top of cyber criminals’ moneymaking lists. It’s disturbing that the important data of organizations such as Sony are under threat from phishing scams. But unlike the widespread view, these scams affect small enterprise owners as much as they affect the big corporations.

Over 300,000 complaints were filed in 2010 to the Internet Crime Complaint Center, a partnership between the National White Collar Crime Center and the FBI.  These grievances were from small businesses and individuals wronged by online phishing scams and a variety of other Internet related crimes.

To give you a better comprehension as to why your small business is of great worth to a cyber criminal, let's take a look at what phishing is exactly. 

What is phishing?

What does "phishing" mean? Phishing is the attempt to access private data, such as financial information, usernames, and passwords. This is achieved by making false websites, graphics, email accounts, and phone numbers. The subject is persuaded, by one method or another, to reveal these types of data that may be used to steal their identity (social security numbers are a popular target). For small businesses, phishing scams may attempt to obtain access to customer credit card information. 


Examples of small business phishing scams


Thousands of small business owners have been sent emails by an organization using incredibly realistic IRS-looking letters stating that W-4 forms or other additional forms must be filled out and returned via fax.  This frightened many owners into believing they would be audited or penalized by the IRS for not handling the issue immediately. Unfortunately, they were fraudulent emails and these companies were tricked out of their private information.

The IRS states on it's website at IRS.gov, that it will not initiate any contact by email and that you should never click any links on an email sent to you asking you to send anything to the IRS.


Your company email can be a target

Another way these thieves gain information is by targeting a specific person within a business by sending him or her some kind of phony communication that looks completely legitimate but ends up launching a virus or malware. This virus then infects the entire network, giving thieves access to private company data. 


Phone phishing

Phone phishing refers to fraudulent phone calls where thieves posture as banks and request the victim to “verify” account numbers over the phone in order to steal confidential information.

How to protect your business against phishing


Visiting the Anti-Phishing Work Group will give you wise advice to shield your business against phishing scams and gives you useful information on how to avoid becoming a victim. Some of their advice follows, such as:

  • Make sure your employees are aware of what phishing scams are, and are cautious when reading and responding to suspicious emails.  Always err on the side of caution.  Instead of clicking a link, open another browser window and go to the official website.
  • Never give out company financial information such as bank routing numbers to an inquiry made via email.  Your bank does not need you to confirm your account information...they already have that. An email like that even if it has your bank's logo is a fake. Make it a habit to check your accounts regularly for suspicious charges and withdrawals.
  • Make sure every computer used has up-to-date virus and malware protection.  Schedule regular full system scans.  Never download "anti-virus" software from an unknown entity. It's better to stick with trusted brands.

It is nearly impossible for law enforcement to stop phishing, so the best method of defense is the education of your employees for identifying, dealing with, and staying up to date with phishing scam trends.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Is Telecommuting the Future of Business or Will it Fade Out?

Trends in business change every day. One trend that appears to be gaining momentum is telecommuting, but is it a trend at all? There are plenty of opinions around whether telecommuting is good for business or not. Some of the questions raised are, “Will it make employees more productive? Will they be happier, lonelier, more connected or less? What are the benefits to the company?” These are all issues to consider when deciding if telecommuting is a good fit for your company’s culture.

There are some great benefits to telecommuting.  We’ve given you several pros and cons to consider below:

Pros

  • As people aren’t wasting time and money commuting they often work longer hours.
  • Telecommuting employees are generally less stressed.
  • Telecommuters are happier, as they have more freedom to manage work time with their family lives. Having the freedom to pick up the kids, or work during their prime productivity time, even if it’s midnight, can be a relief to the traditional structured nine-to-five
  • Telecommuting is great for those who do not thrive in the typical structured nine-to-five work environment.
  • Telecommuting encourages self-reliance and problem solving, and develops time management skills.
  • Telecommuting also gives employers more freedom to hire skilled individuals minus the cost of moving them across the globe.
  • Both the telecommuter and the employer save time and money.

Consthe other side of the coin

  • Telecommuting can lead to burnout especially for those with poor time management skills, which in turn results in resentment of the company.
  • A lack of socialization for individuals who crave social interaction can cause depression and loneliness.
  • Telecommuters can suffer a lack of motivation and if a manager isn’t fully engaged in the employee’s daily workload, the employee may take advantage and slack off.
  • Telecommuting can lead to a break down in communication due to distance.
  • Setting up a home office effectively can take more time than setting up in-office.

For both manager and employee, successful telecommuting takes strong communication, time management skills, and clarity of job responsibilities. We are seeing more and more people desiring an independent working environment. But in the end, whether telecommuting will work or not, depend on the company’s culture and the employees’ mindset. Tell us what you think; will telecommuting be the way most businesses are organized in the future or will it fade out?