Thursday, December 20, 2012

Clean Up Your Desk to Work More Efficiently

Clutter can build up on your desk quickly. It can get in the way of your work if you must move papers simply to reach your mouse. What about under your desk? Do your feet get tangled in a mess of cords? If this describes you, here's a few tips to help your get your wires and work under control.

  1. Tackle the wires - There are two good options here: one affordable way is to invest in a few large binder clips. These clips, obviously, work great for keeping papers in order. You may be surprised at how effective they are for keeping computer cables under control too. The more expensive option is to invest in wireless charging pads. These pads enable you to charge everything from a wireless mouse to a digital camera to your smartphone. No longer will you need dozens of wires to plug into your mobile and wireless devices. With a charger, you can simply connect these devices to one mat-shaped device, popularly known as a powermat, to recharge them, again substantially reducing your reliance on computer cables and power cords.
  2. Reduce desktop clutter - The simplest way to reduce this mess is to rely less on paper. With so much business communication occurring through email, there's less reason than ever to clutter your desk with printed memos and messages. Avoid, too, from printing out news stories, time sheets, and other business communication. The more paperwork that you store electronically, the less paperwork you'll need to spread across your desktop. For those papers that you utterly must have, store them in binders or file cabinets and store them as quickly as possible.
  3. Throw things away – This may be the most self-evident one but it’s remarkable how quickly sticky notes and other scraps of paper can build up. If you are done with a note you wrote yourself, or a printout from a meeting, just throw it away. If you'll need it later, then file it in the appropriate place. The faster you get these things off your desk, the more effective you will be. Often visual chaos can lead us to feel like we have more difficult tasks ahead of us than may be the case.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Laptop Hunting Tips

When you are shopping for a new laptop, what do take into account? Writer Sam Grobart for the New York Times recently wrote an article with some tips for you. One of the primary things that Grobart suggests is to pay attention to the graphics card instead of the processor speed. The typical laptop user is going to be someone who uses it to watch movies, surf the web, email people, and utilize general office programs. These people should focus on the more mundane features of laptops such as, screen size, memory, and weight.

Weight matters

Let's start with weight. The advantage of a laptop is that it is portable. Laptops, though, won't feel so portable if they weigh more than six pounds. Laptops that break that six-pound line can stress your shoulder when you're carrying it in your backpack or duffel. It shouldn't be too hard for smart shoppers to find laptops that weigh less than six pounds. Some weigh just two-and-a-half pounds.

Screen size

If you like watching movies or videos on your laptop, look for a screen that measures 13 inches diagonally. This is the perfect size: big enough for movie-watching but not too big for a carrying bag.


RAM, or random access memory, matters in relation to laptops. Grobart advises that consumers purchase laptops that include at least 4 gigabytes of RAM. Laptops that have less than that simply move too slowly. You will experience those frustrating delays between hitting a key and something happening on your screen. Don't worry about going above 4 gigabytes, though. Typical laptop users won't ever need more than those 4 gigabytes. There are certain factors that shouldn’t concern laptop users. One is the processor. Grobart writes that all processors used today are fine for laptops. He also recommends that buyers not worry about battery life, either. That’s because a laptop’s battery life will vary depending on how you’re using your machine. Always bring a power cable with you and plug in. That makes battery life an especially unimportant factor.


Friday, December 14, 2012

Electronic Health Records: Are Doctors and Hospitals Going Digital

Everything is going digital nowadays, even medical records. Last time you were at the doctor did they take out an envelope to access your health records? Or did your doctor pull it up on some type of computer?

Electronic health records

Recently medial professionals have been implementing software called EHR (Electric Health Records). This has become more and more popular. The percentage of office-based physicians who use EHR software stood at 57 percent in 2011, which increased from 50.7 percent in 2010.

Electronic records good news for patients

EHR is actually a great thing for patients. With electronic documents, doctors are less likely to misplace information and can access your documents more quickly. No more shuffling through papers. With the touch of a button, they can now access all of your information, which gives doctors more hours to spend with patients and shortens the length of time patients have to wait.

Federal government encouragement

The government is even behind the movement to digital documentation. The government is also pushing physicians to file their prescription information electronically rather than by hand. This, too, is smart; pharmacists tend to make prescription medication mistakes if they are attempting to read the often-incomprehensible handwriting of doctors. If they can access prescriptions electronically through their pcs, the chance of mistakes falls drastically.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Holograms: Will Apple Do It Right

Remember when tablet computers seemed like the stuff of science fiction? Or how about smart phones? There was a time when phones that allowed you to surf the Web and send e-mail messages sounded like the technology of the future. Now these are the technologies of the present. So what's next? Ben Kunz, a writer for Bloomberg Businessweek, has his own prediction: holograms.

Apple and holograms

Kunz predicts that Apple devices—its iPhones and iPads—will soon display holograms that look like something you'd see in a contemporary science fiction film. In fact, Kunz's story on Bloomberg Businessweek is accompanied by a photo of Robert Downey Jr. from the 2012 hit movie The Avengers using his own nifty holograms. Again, this may appear to be the stuff of fiction, but Kunz writes that he's basing his prediction on real news: Apple's patents and recent purchases. Then there's the competition in the tablet industry. Apple needs something to help set it apart from its tablet competitors. Holograms may very well be that thing.

Apple's plans

So how exactly could interactive holograms be created?  Using forward-facing cameras the user’s eyes could be tracked and a screen that projects beams of light could be used to create different angles of the object. This could create a very realistic hologram that will maintain its visual integrity.

The future of 3D?

What’s the greatest issue with 3D holograms? 3D technology has so far failed to capture the imagination of consumers. Kunz writes that the sale of 3D TV sets have been slow. Even games like Nintendo's 3DS handheld system, which don't require players to put on 3D glasses, have seen lukewarm sales. So why would Apple invest heavily in the technology to generate holograms? Apple seems to have a history of taking failed ideas and making them become successful. This goes all the way back to the times when Apple took the idea for the mouse from Xerox, made it more efficient, and saw sales soar. Apple also debuted its iPhone and iPad devices long after Microsoft first attempted to introduce a pen-based tablet PC that never quite caught on. Also, Apple's 3D holograms will be different. They'll be far more realistic, and they won't call for users to wear 3D glasses to view them. So what’s the message here? Get prepared for holograms. Once Apple's programmers get moving on a technology, they seldom misfire.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Windows 8 Transition Tips

Windows 8 looks distinct from any of the systems that have come before it. And, generally, the reviews have been positive. If you are prepared to upgrade to the new system, here are some strategies to ensure the transition goes smoothly. If you would like more tips, read this article on the Smallbiz Technology website that goes more in-depth. Here are the tips we thought were most critical.

Do the Research

The first thing you need to check before upgrading may seem obvious. Make sure your computer can run efficiently on Windows 8. A machine must have the following requirements to be able to run Windows 8: 1GB of RAM, 16GB of hard-drive space, and a 1GHz processor. These are the same requirements as Windows 7. So if you are already running Windows 7, there's no need to check.


There are many reasons why having a secure backup of your important documents is a good idea. But particularly before you begin an upgrade it is crucial. You could store your info in an external hard drive but if you feel that this can be expensive or you simply have too much data to move easily, you can opt for a private cloud service. Many managed service providers (MSPs) offer these services. This will ensure that your essential data is safeguarded if something goes wrong throughout the upgrade.

Setup utility

To make sure your computer will support Windows 8, Microsoft offers a setup utility that searches your computer for the appropriate elements. This is important, particularly if you are running Windows XP as Microsoft will stop supporting XP in 2014. After you upgrade, you are going to need to reinstall all of your drivers and software. So you will need all of your installation disks. This may seem like a hassle, but the new features of Windows 8 are worth it and in the long run you will be glad you made the upgrade. But before you do, make sure you take the appropriate steps.


Friday, November 30, 2012

You Can Google Better

You have been using Google for years, and you know how to use it, right? You generally find what you are searching for, right? Maybe not, there are some tricks you might use to make your Googling skills more effective and efficient. After learning about some of these trick in articles from the How-To Geek website and the Atlantic we thought we would share the few we found to be helpful.

Operators are key

If you are hoping to find very specific information through a Google search, operators are the most useful way to find what you are looking for. The example that the How-To Geek site used is as follows. Say a user wishes to find stories only published by the New York Times relating to college test scores. That is very specific and feels like it would take a lot of digging. Not if you utilize operators. By inserting the operator “site:” in front of the words “,” Google will only search in that site. Then by adding quotation marks around exact phrases they are looking for, in this case “test scores,” Google will search for that exact phrase only. If the user desires to add a date range, they can add 2008..2010 and it will narrow the search further.

Google Scholar

Google Scholar is another great way to narrow search results. It asks Google to only search academic and scholarly work, which would be great for research papers. To do this you can employ operators. For instance, if you are looking for a paper written by Dr. Breit about the evolution of coding languages, you'd input the operator “author:” in front of “Breit” followed by the phrase “evolution of coding languages” into Google Scholar.

Control F

“Control F” is a way to search within your search results. For example, perhaps you are searching for a new outfit to wear to a holiday party. After searching for “party dress” you can hold control on your keyboard and click “F.” A small search bar will pop up in the top or bottom of your screen and in it you can search your results by typing “pink” or “long” to further narrow your search.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Neat Features of Windows 8

Windows 8 only recently hit the market and the tech press has already given it a test drive. Some of them have published their findings online. This is great for the general public, as it gives them an opportunity to learn the ins and outs of the new operating system. InfoWorld writer J. Peter Bruzzese recently wrote about several cool features of Windows 8. Below we cover a few of the things he found.

The charms bar

The charms bar is essentially a shortcuts bar that exists on the right side of the screen in Windows 8. An example of a shortcut available to users is that by clicking “settings” then clicking “power” they can put their computer to sleep. The charms bar has many settings for searching, switching to the Windows 7 desktop, if you liked that better, and for sharing.

Retrieving lost files

What's worse than losing a file? Not much in relation to computing. Fortunately, Windows 8 can help. The operating system comes with a new way of saving copies of files that lets users obtain previous versions if their current file is lost or damaged. This feature works in much the same way as does OS X's Time Machine utility.

Windows on the go

This is a really cool feature if you are on the go but don’t want to take your whole computer with you. If you have the Enterprise Edition of Windows 8 you can put your entire Windows environment onto a USB drive and take it with you. You can then pull it up on another machine that is compatible with Windows 7 or 8.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

It's Time to Disable Java on Your Computer

You may not realize this but one of the easiest ways to protect your computers from hackers is to turn off Java, software that runs interactive functions on web pages. Java has developed the reputation for being a backdoor for hackers to get into your system, for example Business Insider recently pointed to the 700,000 Apple computers that were infected earlier this year with the Flashback Trojan malware. These computers were all running an out-of-date add on that permitted their browser to run Java.

Security flaw

Hackers recently discovered a defect in Oracle's Java software that permitted these cyber criminals to break into users' computers and install malware. Back then, the threat was considered a "zero-day" one, meaning a threat that exploits a vulnerability that wasn't previously known and for which no fix can be obtained. Since the security hole was discovered, Oracle introduced a new version of Java that the developer says fixes the vulnerability. But the truth remains: Hackers regularly use Java to break into users' computers. Turning it off, then, makes the most sense, especially since Java is no longer required for the vast majority of websites.

Turning off Java

Turning off Java requires different steps depending upon what web browser you use. In Firefox users must first select "tools" from their browser's main menu. They should then click "add-ons" and the disable buttons next to any Java plug-ins.

Safari users must first click "Safari" in the main menu bar and then "Preferences." Once they've done this, they can select the "security" tab and make sure that the button next to "enable Java" is not checked.

Google Chrome users need to type "Chrome://Plugins" in their browser's address bar. They can then click the "disable" button listed below any Java plug-ins.

Don't touch JavaScript

One thing you must keep in mind when you go to disable Java is that Java and Javascript are very different things. Most websites use Javascript, so be sure that you do not disable it accidentally.


Friday, November 9, 2012

Eliminate Online Distractions with these Chrome Extensions

We understand: You sit looking at your computer all day long, typing reports, answering email messages, and creating presentations. It's difficult to resist the temptation to run over to to catch up on the most recent celebrity gossip. But all of the side trips to the Internet's guilty pleasures can add up to a lot of lost time during the day. They can cut into your efficiency, something your boss won't appreciate. Fortunately, if you use the Chrome web browser, you can add several extensions designed to keep the Internet's distractions from cutting into your workday. The Huffington Post recently took a look at the best distraction-blasting Chrome extensions. We focus on 4 below. Use these and you just might be amazed at how productive you will be.

Stay Focused

This add-on places a time limit on those time-wasting websites that you like. Once the timer on each site runs out, it will stay blocked for the remainder of the day, preventing you from clicking on CNN or The Onion for an anti-productivity visit.

Cool Clock

If you regularly find that you miss appointments or forget to attend meetings, Cool clock could become your new best friend. It has a clock, calendar, alarm, and timer included in it. It also lets you set desktop time notifications. Another great use for this is to use it to set reminders for tasks you have to complete.

Last Pass

How much time do you waste endeavoring to remember your password to Gmail or to your online banking website? Last Pass, another nifty Chrome add-on, may change all this. This extension permits you to easily manage and monitor the various online passwords you have to contend with. You'll be amazed at how much more time you'll have once you remove those pesky attempts to remember which passwords have numbers and which ones have capital letters.

Turn off the Lights

Sometimes we have to watch videos for work, and sometimes they are boring. This can mean that we can become easily sidetracked by other projects you are working on. If you find this is the case and you need to spend more of your attention to a video, you can use the Chrome add-on Turn off the Lights. It will dim everything on your screen except for your media play so that you are visually forced to observe the video.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Make Your Computing Life Easier: Two Tricks

Let's be honest: Computer users today need all the help they can get, whatever makes their lives easier. You have to appreciate that. This is exactly why we're happy to point you to a pair of helpful hacks that can remove at least some stress from your busy days.

Forcing Android to check for system updates

The operating systems on your devices get updates frequently. But you often have to wait for them to hit your devices. This can be a bummer as you are watching for a feature or fix you have read about, or possibly there is an exciting new service that is coming with your next update. You could just patiently await it, but there is a way that you can force you Android device to check for an update. The website Ghack explains how: Go to the "Settings" menu. Click "Apps" and select "Show All." Then find the "Google Services Framework" and click on the "Clear Data" option. Finally, click the "Force Stop" button. If there is an update available, your device will retrieve it.

Protecting your eyes

Computer screens are bad for your eyes and over time they can do permanent damage if you stare at them daily. This is where these tricks from the Atlantic can come in handy. The easiest of which is to make sure your computer screen is clean, and the brightest thing around. One other good habit to get into is to take “20-20-20” breaks. Focus your eyes on a spot 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds every 20 minutes. And lastly, don’t sit too close. If you can high-five your computer screen, you're too close.


Friday, November 2, 2012

Which Technology is Best for You

As technology moves faster and faster, bigger and better mobile devices emerge. It wasn’t long ago that tablets were introduced; now they are seen everyday. And most individuals in the business world have smartphones. As these newer, more robust tablets and smartphones are released to the market, you may feel some pressure to obtain these new devices.

Diff’rent folks, diff’rent tech

But, not everyone needs the latest and greatest. Some people might, but others can get by with utilizing the same tech for years. Before purchasing your next piece of technology it can be useful to analyze your lifestyle to find out what tech is needed.


Think about tablets, they are handy, fun, and can make life simpler for some people. But they are not a requirement for all consumers. If you do most of your computing at home or in the office, and you have a smartphone to pull up your email messages when you're on the go, you might not need a tablet. Many of the basic things you can do with a smartphone you can do with a tablet. However, if you are a person who does most of their computing on the go, in the coffee shop or while traveling, you very well may need a tablet.

The Smartphone revolution

Smartphones have evolved into miniature computers, allowing users to log onto the Internet, send text messages, watch videos, play music, and send and receive email messages. But how technologically advanced of a phone do you require? Again, it boils down to how much computing you do on the road. Do you prefer to answer email messages from the comfort of your own home and desk? Do you like to watch movies on the big screen in your living room? Then a basic cell phone might be fine. However, if you do much of your communicating – through text, voice and email – while traveling across the city, an investment in an advanced smartphone makes sense.

So next time you read about the must-have smartphone or the ultimate tablet, look at your own lifestyle. You might not need to invest in the latest cool tech toy of the month.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Business Travel Tools

When you are traveling for business, it can be difficult to be as productive as you are in the office. The Internet connection at the hotel can be unpredictable, and it can be tough to stay on top of your email when you are in business meetings or traveling from one location to another. Luckily, there are several tech tools that can help enormously while you are away from the office. We have highlighted a few below.

GroupMe: Sometimes while you're on the road you'll want to communicate quickly with certain groups of employees or partners. You can make this a lot easier with the GroupMe app. This app enables you to create groups from lists of employees. After that you can send messages or updates to everyone on these lists with just one text message.

Belkin Mini Surge Protector DUAL USB Charger: This isn't an app, but it is an excellent tool for travelers. With it, you can quickly charge all of your mobile devices. This will be significant; if your tablet or smartphone suddenly goes dead when you're far from your hotel room, you may miss important calls or e-mail messages. The mini surge protector and charger features three AC outlets and two powered USB outlets. This lets you simultaneously charge your laptop, tablet, cell phone, and other tech devices.

Campfire: If you wish to talk, not just send a quick text, to your whole team, you can utilize the Campfire app. It lets you set up a chat room with any amount of people you want. Everyone in the group will be able to see all of the messages people are sending. You can even make conference calls with it!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Bring-Your-Own-Device Takes off in the Workplace

Are you able to access your computer network in the office with your personal iPad? What about your personal iPhone or your laptop computer? This movement, known as bring-your-own-device or BYOD, is on the rise in the workplace. It makes sense: When companies encourage employees to bring their personal devices to work, these same businesses don't have to spend as much on desktop computers and other high-tech tools. The move also is practical for workers. Employees may well be more accustomed to their own devices. And if they bring their own laptops and tablets to work, they can more easily transport their files, email messages and important documents back and forth from home to work.

The Risks of BYOD

But the BYOD movement does have risks, risks that ComputerWorld columnist Darragh Delaney highlights in a recent column. Delaney writes that IT security personnel are growing more worried about the hazards of letting employees use their own devices to access workplace networks. The greater the quantity of outside devices connecting into a network, the higher the risk that a network will become a victim of some sort of malware attack. Naturally, not all employees take the proper steps to defend their computing devices.

Company Information at Risk

Another worry that companies face when employees use their personal devices is that those devices leave the office with them. What if there is sensitive information on those devices and they lose them? It could expose the company. One solution to this is that companies could have restrictions around what sorts of company information is kept on personal devices. Employees may also give training around how to keep their devices safe. Whatever the risks, allowing employees to use outside devices on the network increases productivity.

The BYOD Trend

As more and more people have tablets and smartphones, it is likely that more businesses will face this decision. The greatest benefit to allowing employees to use personal devices is the increase in productivity. This is due mainly to the fact that they know their devices and they always have them. If BYOD sounds like it will work for your company, just be sure your workers take appropriate measures with their devices to keep your company’s data protected.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Busting the 3 Biggest Cloud Computing Myths

Does your business avoid using the cloud because you think it’s a temporary fad, too costly, or that it’s not secure? These are common misunderstandings about cloud computing. We explore these further below.

Myth: Cloud Computing Is a Fad

Many people believe that cloud computing is just the latest fad and that its popularity will ultimately plummet. However, there is plenty of evidence to the contrary. For instance, probably the most popular tech services available to consumers today are instances of cloud computing. Gmail, iTunes, Amazon, and eBay are some examples. Then there are online banking sites and discount travel sites. All of these offerings are powered by the cloud, and consumers are flocking to all of them.

Myth: The Cloud Is Risky

Another common feeling about the cloud is that it is risky, that information is more exposed to hackers when saved in the cloud. There has been some occasions where high-profile companies have lost data, one example being the recent hit on Amazon Web Services. These occurrences tend to stick with us, but you don’t have to store all of your most vital data on the public cloud, you can store it on a private cloud, like the one offered by a Managed Services Provider. Furthermore, if your information is stored on your hard drive and in a private cloud and your hard drive suddenly burns out, you can still access to your information. Think of it as a safety net.

Myth: Cloud Computing Is Costly

It's true that businesses will need to pay more upfront costs when keeping their data in the cloud, but in the long term, cloud computing will in fact save businesses money. The greatest savings come in labor costs. Businesses that store their data in the cloud reduce their IT costs.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Break Those Annoying Smartphone Habits

In general, smartphones have made our lives less complicated. They can help us navigate to a restaurant and they keep us connected to our social media accounts and mail. If they are so helpful, how come so many people get agitated with smartphone users? Probably because there are some frustrating habits they develop. If you are guilty of any of the habits shown below, you may be accidentally annoying those around you.

Texting and driving

The most troublesome smartphone habit isn't just annoying: It can also be deadly. Far too many people text and drive at the same time, even though doing so is unlawful in most states. If you're guilty of this sin, look at this fact: Texting and driving often brings about fatal accidents. You may not only hurt yourself; you might kill somebody else. So, if you can't resist your cell phone while driving, do the smart thing and shut it off. Then you won't be inclined to make a potentially deadly mistake.

Paying more attention to your phone than your friends

Have you ever witnessed people eating dinner together but they are both on their smartphones? This practice is very annoying for individuals. When you make plans with your friends and family, the purpose is to spend time with them, right? How do you do that if you are checking your email the whole time or texting? Remember how you have felt if you have been in the middle of a discussion and a friend has answered a text? Perhaps you felt less important. Unless you want your companions to feel this way, avoid your phone when out with them.

Noisy keyboards

When you navigate through your phone or type does it make little clicking sounds or beeps? You might not recognize this, but it is probably aggravating the people surrounding you. When you are standing in line at the supermarket and texting your friend, the people around you don’t want to listen to the clicks of your fingers moving across the keys. It is simple to turn this off for the comfort of those who are around you.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Antivirus Software: Not As Protective As You Think

Most of us think it’s vital that you keep your antivirus software current. This is how we can protect our systems from viruses. Recently MIT's Technology Review published an article that opposes this “given” we have all lived by.

Antivirus Software: Unreliable?

The antivirus software that we have paid for and long relied on to safeguard our information may not be effective. The technology is running a race with malware programs and malware is winning. More sophisticated and tricky to detect malware comes out every day and this is very concerning to those of us who access the Internet on a day-to-day bases.

Burned by Flame

The Technology Review story concentrates on Flame, probably the most complicated examples of malware ever discovered. According to the story, Flame has been copying documents and making recordings of audio, keystrokes, network traffic and Skype calls and taking screenshots of all this activity from the computers it has corrupted. What’s the worst part? Flame has been doing this for around two years, according to the Technology Review story. And during this time, not a single bit of security software discovered this particularly clever bit of malware.

An Industry Under Siege

Wouldn’t it be nice if Flame was the only malware that could get by antivirus software? Unfortunately, this is not the case. There are quite a few that are more than difficult to detect and as soon as antivirus software gets upgraded, malware is developed that challenges it even more. This doesn't mean it's not necassary to take all measures available to protect your computer, like keeping your antivirus software up to date. You should just be aware that there are viruses out there that may slip through. Hopefully the antivirus industry will eventually catch up with the growth of viruses and malware.


Friday, September 21, 2012

The Future Of Charging Our Devices

The world is relying more and more on mobile devices and this has made not only battery life, but also our capability to charge our devices on the go really important. We have seen solar chargers, and other innovative products come out as a solution to this. But how about using our clothing! It might seem strange but inventors have been developing clothing and material that actually charges devices. A recent Mashable story discusses a few and we have gone into more detail below.

Rain Boots that Charge Your Phone

Orange, a British mobile carrier that partnered with a firm named GotWind in 2010 to produce rain boots that consumers can use to charge their phones. The boots were just a prototype, presented at the Glastonbury Music Festival, but the prototype showed enough potential to get mobile users excited.

Military Tech

The military is usually coming up with innovative technologies and this holds true for charging technology as well. The military is currently using a product made by Intellectual Textiles. It is pieces of fabric that are sewn into vests, shirts, and helmets. Essentially, it charges one battery at a time. Then the power from that battery is sent to whatever device needs to be charged through the clothing.

The Most Advanced Felt in the World

And if you thought that was sophisticated, check out Power Felt. Scientists at the Center for Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials at Wake Forest University are developing this currently. It is a thermoelectric device that turns body heat into electricity. It’s like something out of a sci-fi novel but if they nail this technology down, then we may have an unlimited supply of electricity from our clothing for our devices.

These technologies will alter the way we charge our devices and almost remove the limitations we currently have due to inadequate batteries. That will be a great day!


Friday, September 14, 2012

Which E-reader Deserves Your Money

Have you been looking for an e-book reader? They are very popular these days and there are many products to pick from. This can make it tricky to ascertain which one has the features you need. Most of the e-readers on the market are quality items, so, no matter which one you choose, you'll probably be pleased. We've outlined three below that are some of the best.

Nook Color: Barnes & Noble's Nook Color e-reader is both affordable and well designed. Today, you can buy the Nook Color for about $150. That's not a bad bargain. And perhaps because of its connection to the country's largest bookseller, the Nook Color provides a exceptional reading experience. The Nook Color is adept at both prose and graphic display. This will make reading children's books and graphic novels a pleasure. Additionally, there are several user capabilities that are a joy to use. For example, if you don't know the meaning of a word in that Mark Twain novel you're reading, just press it. A definition will pop up.

The Nook Color also comes with several built-in applications, including Pandora, an e-mail reader, a web browser, and an addictive crossword puzzle game. You can increase the power of your Nook Color by downloading apps from the app store. Here you will find Netflix, the Smithsonian Channel, and several other top apps. So what is the only problem with the Nook color? Its app store, while boasting lots of choices, it sometimes lacks some of the more cutting-edge apps out there. Here's hoping that the Nook Color will introduce apps at a quicker pace.

Kindle Fire: The Kindle Fire is very similar to the Nook Color and is one of the more popular e-readers available. The reading experience on the Kindle Fire is extremely clear and just like the Nook Color it comes with its own email client and web browser. The Kindle is affordable, too, with the current price tag being under $200.

The one negative thing people have found with the Kindle Fire is that to adjust the volume you have to touch the screen to gain access to the controls.

Kobo e-Reader: The Kobo e-Reader Touch doesn't have the name recognition of either the Nook Color or the Kindle Fire. But that doesn't mean it's not a worthy competitor. Actually, you wouldn't go wrong by spending your e-reader dollars on this neat device if reading is your main goal. Users rave about the reading experience on the Kobo. Images and words are sharp and simple to read. In fact, the Kobo offers seven unique font styles and 17 different font sizes for readers to choose from. Others rave about the device's soft, quilted back. Don't laugh; this back makes holding a Kobo feel a lot more like holding an actual book. That's a feature the Nook Color or Amazon Kindle can't boast.

At the Kobo store, you can download e-books in an array of formats. The Kobo is particularly good with comic books and other graphics-heavy books. And then there's this: When the Kobo's Wi-Fi feature is shut off, the device's battery life can last for as long as one full month. That’s pretty extraordinary. The Kobo doesn't boast all of the features of a Nook Color or an Amazon Fire. But for those who want to focus on reading, this e-reader does the job.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Screen ADD: What It Is And How To Fight It

Do you suffer from computer-screen attention deficit disorder? Here are some symptoms: You have five Internet Explorer tabs open at once. You're working on three Word documents simultaneously, and you are fiddling with two open spreadsheets, too. Basically, you are juggling so many on-screen tasks all at once, you're struggling to finish any one of them.

Computer-screen ADD hinders you from truly concentrating on one thing and completing it. Additionally it can be hard to prioritize your tasks and get the most crucial ones done first as you are preoccupied by all the other minor ones.

Focusing on a lot of things at once can hurt your productivity. But there are a couple things you can do help break these habits.

Resist the minimization urge

When we focus on many tasks at once, big and small, we can get in the habit of minimizing windows. We do this to set a task aside, but by doing so we are putting it off. By breaking this habit we force ourselves to focus on a task at hand until it is finished rather than putting it off.

Email filters

This is a very simple thing you can do to help you be more productive and stop screen ADD. You can create filters to send emails that are from certain people to your inbox and everything else is sent to another inbox. This will keep you from becoming preoccupied by the other emails and enable you to focus on the most important ones that you may have previously skimmed over.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Here Is What You Need to Do To Upgrade Your Operating System

Windows 8 is going to hit the market later this year, but a surprising amount of businesses have not even implemented Windows 7 yet. This might be a vital thing for businesses to do because as of April 2014, Microsoft will no longer support for Windows XP. So companies will have to upgrade to Windows 7, at the minimum, should they still want to receive formal support from Microsoft. Before rolling out a new operating system across the board it’s important that companies make sure their computers will be ready to make the change.

Analyze hardware and compatibility

The first step for your IT department or MSP is to analyze the hardware’s capacity to run Windows 7. Businesses can perform this by utilizing the Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit 7.0; this will permit you to assess your existing equipment. Additionally, your Manage Service Provider will need to make certain that the company’s applications will work well with Windows 7.

What OS images to deploy

Businesses will need to determine whether they must deploy just the Windows 7 operating system and install applications later, deploy the operating system and all apps simultaneously, or take a combination tactic, deploying the operating system and the most crucial applications that are necessary for all users. Those who take the latter approach may then deploy other applications in the future as needed. This is a advise route as it is the fastest type of Windows 7 deployment.

Choosing the right image deployment tool

Once all of these things have been done, the last step in the process is for your MSP to decide on which tool they want to use. There are lots of tools a company can use to deploy the Windows 7 image. A couple being: Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2012 and System Center Configuration Manager 2007 or 2012. These tools have different advantages and disadvantages that should be considered.

Upgrading to Windows 7, then, is a process that takes careful planning. Fortunately, those businesses who use MSPs or their IT departments to organize their deployment will boost their odds of a stress-free deployment.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Military Technologies That Could Change Our World

The military develops new technology constantly. And some of their more recent innovations may impact life as we know it more then you might realize. Here are a few interesting things they have recently developed.

The laser gun

You probably never imagined we would see the creation of the laser gun. It is the stuff of Star Wars and Star Trek, right? Wrong. The military has actually developed a laser gun that works and they call it the Excalibur. They are currently working on one that is 10 times lighter than the Excalibur so that it has more military application.

The doctor is in – your body

DARPA is focusing on nanoparticles that can treat illness and infection in the human body. The program is actually moving quickly, and researchers are currently working on this nanotechnology with large animals.

Thermal imaging on the cheap

Thermal imaging technology is not a new technology, the U.S. military has been utilizing it for a long time, but it’s a little pricey. That has lead DARPA to their current task of attempting to lower costs of thermal imaging technology through their Low Cost Thermal Imager manufacturing program. Ideally, through this work, we will see thermal imaging technology in cell phones and eyeglasses. The applications for this are truly endless.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Living Forever: You Might Get Your Chance

Have you ever seriously considered the implications of living forever? Would you want to if it were feasible? Well, according to scientist and author Ray Kurzweil, these questions may become more relevant in the near future. He predicts that we may identify the key to immortality in the next 20 years. This may have everything to do with nanobots replacing our blood cells.

Yes, that does seem like sci-fi. It sounds spooky, too, but Kurzweil is enthusiastic about this, and he boasts some very smart people as fans. According to Business Insider two famous and powerful Bills – Clinton and Gates – are big Kurzweil fans.

Rise of the nanobots?

Regardless of how “out-there” Kurzweil’s ideas are, they may be a very real possibility. In about 20 years, scientists believe they'll have found a way to halt andreverse the aging process. Kurzweil then thinks that nanotechnology will come into play, replacing human blood cells, and carrying out the work much more efficiently.

Exponential technology

Again, this soundsastounding, but Kurzweil is basing his predictions on one fact that can't be disputed: Technology has been advancing at an exponential rate. And this, Kurzweil argues, signifies that immortality is just a few technological leaps away.

That doesn't, though, answer the bigger question: Should humans live forever? What's going to happen to the earth? Will overpopulation destroy our natural resources? And, of course, is living forever even something people want? Won't those people who believe in an afterlife want to ultimately pass from this life? These are all big questions, and if Kurzweil is to be believed, we might all soon be confronting them.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Apps to Aid You During and Emergency

These are hazardous times. Nature is unleashing droughts and record-setting high temperatures. It seems like a new tornado is ripping through the Midwest every day. And those are just the big emergencies. Suppose you lock yourself out of your car when your toddler's stuck inside? Happily, there's a whole class of apps that will help you deal with emergencies big and small. Here is a closer look at three of these apps that might be able to bail you out in case of an emergency.


This app has existed for a while and is quite popular. It is a locator app that gives you the ability to find anything from a gas station to a hospital in your area. You can see how this could prove useful, if say, you are in a strange town and your kid unexpectedly gets hurt. You can simply open AroundMe and select the hospital category to find the closest hospital to you.

CPR & Choking

The name of this app says everything: CPR & Choking provides you with tips and full-fledged lessons on how to cope with a person who is choking or who is not breathing. It can be particularly handy if you have never taken CPR classes or have forgotten what you've learned. This app, which is free, was created by the University of Washington and King County EMS to save lives. It contains a variety of videos that tell you what to do if a person you know is in the middle of a medical emergency or cardiac event.

Emergency Radio Free

Emergency Radio Free is an app that gives you access to live emergency radio feeds across the country. You can easily tune it in to only ones in your neighborhood so if there is a fire, tornado, or an armed criminal in your area you will be the first to know.

These apps cannot shield you completely but they are good to have in your toolbox to help safeguard you should a crisis strike.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

File Sharing Made Easy With Bump

Thanks to social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, sharing pictures and info has become easier than ever. Still, people are seeking even more simple ways to share stuff. In response to this need, iTunes offers the Bump app.

No more emails

With Bump, you will not have to send contact information or photos to your friends through e-mail. You can quickly move copies of your photos and contact information from your phone and onto the phone of a friend, relative, co-worker, or business associate. Actually, all you have to do is bump your phone against someone else's.

Living up to its name

To exchange files using Bump all you need to do is literally “bump” your phone against another phone. First you have to open the app and choose the files you wish to transfer. Touch your phone to another phone and bump your hands together. The app does the rest of the work and instantaneously transfers the files over.

Another great thing about Bump is that it is not restricted to smartphones; it also works with your computer. You decide on the files you want and tap your phone against your computer’s spacebar. Bump then transfers your files to the location you have selected on your computer.

A popular app

Bump was recently updated in June of this year and has gotten increasingly popular, with 90 million downloads. The Bump app is now available for both iPhone and Android phones. If you want to make sending files and contact information to people as easy as possible, check out Bump.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Time Saving Shortcuts in Gmail

Gmail is one of the most favored email clients out there. It’s simple to use and powerful. If you are among the numerous people who use Gmail, prehaps you are not using it as efficiently as you could. You most likely don’t realize this but Gmail has a myriad of shortcuts to save you time. Better yet, there is a single trick that allows you to pull up all of the shortcuts at once.

The Power of ?

Here's how it works: Simply by pressing the question-mark key on your keyboard when you are not in a text-input area, you'll bring up a cheat sheet on top of your inbox of each and every single shortcut that Gmail features. Yes it's true, you'll have instant access to every single Gmail shortcut thanks to the question mark. You can also access this cheat sheet by pushing your "Shift" key and the "+" sign on your keyboard. But why do that when pressing ? is so much cooler?

The Shortcuts

There are a multitude of shortcuts at your disposal in Gmail, but just to get a taste we have described a few below.

  • By pressing the "c" key, you automatically begin composing a new message in Gmail. If you press "Shift" and then "c," you'll be able to compose that new message in a new window.
  • The "n" key moves your cursor to the next message in your inbox, while pressing the "p" key moves you to the previous message.
  • If you want to mark certain messages as being of high importance, hit the "s" key. This will star particular messages. If you hit the "-" key, you'll label a message as being unimportant.

Those hardly scrap the surface of the time saving shortcuts available in Gmail. These shortcuts may take some time to get used to but once you use them consistently they will become second nature and you will save a lot of time. There is no reason not to take advantage of the shortcuts accessible to you in Gmail. You may even save enough time that you can take a longer lunch and enjoy the sunshine.


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Constantly Changing Face of Technology

If you were a child when the Atari 64 came out, you were likely impressed by the graphics. Then Mattel released the Intellivision, and by comparison, the Atari’s graphics were outdated. Every time a new video game system was released it managed to trump the last one in graphics and game play.

As an adult you have a deeper perspective on technology. It changes very rapidly. Nowadays, as soon as a new state-of-the-art gadget comes out the last one becomes outdated.

Technology is constantly changing

Technology has long been changing, and as more and more comes out, this change accelerates. This does not surprise anyone. That being said, it shouldn't surprise consumers either. In today’s constantly evolving environment, the majority of us purchase technology understanding that it will become outdated in a few months.

Need tech help? Ask your kid

Kids are usually quicker to learn new things then their parents, and therefore, are better at adapting to the changing technological environment. If you are in your 40s then you grew up without the Internet, and your kids don’t remember when the Internet didn’t exist. So, as technology advances at an progressively rapid pace, younger generations are going to more easily adjust to these changes and accept new technologies.

Today’s hot tech is tomorrow’s obsolete operating system

Considering the rapid changing world of technology, it ought to be no surprise that the same goes for operating systems. Businesses like Apple, Google, and Microsoft come forth with new and improved operating systems regularly, both to stay ahead of the competition and to enhance the user experience. If you do not adopt new systems when they come out, it won’t be a long time before your computer is very outdated. Change is unavoidable, if you do not adapt to it, you'll be left in the dust and unable to reap the benefits that that change has to offer.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Manage Your Employees the Smart Way with These 3 Apps

Starting a new business is no easy task. It's why so many businesses fail in their start-up years. Nonetheless, you can give yourself an edge in at least one area – the way you manage people. We've listed several apps for managing employees below. By using these apps, smart business owners can cut the time they spend on making sure that their personnel are as productive as possible.

Labor Time Tracker

It seems a bit old-fashioned to have your employee’s punch in and out using physical time sheets. A better option is Labor Time Tracker, an app which costs about $4.95 a month for each employee. With this app, employees punch in their hours on a electronic card. This allows you to see immediately who is working and who is out for the day. Labor Time Tracker also tracks overtime hours and pay. It will work, too, in multiple time zones.


Trello is an app for organization that is designed to keep business owners on task, but it also allows business owners to add employees to to-do lists. It keeps everyone on the same page as everyone in the company can see the duties and deadlines. Also you can send employees messages related to the tasks within Trello.


TribeHR is one of the most widely used and highest ranked HR apps on the market. It is very robust; you can track time off, schedule assessments, and keep up-to-date employee records. Plus, on top of all that it is affordable. It’s only $2 a month for each user. With this app you'll be able to keep track of things as if you had a large HR department.

In the current economy it is difficult enough to build a small business. Make your life easier by utilizing the many apps on the market that are built to help small business owners keep things organized.


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Your Choice in Browser: What it May Say About Your Personality

We all browse the web today. But we don’t all use the same browser. There are many choices out there – everything from the traditional Explorer to Firefox, Opera and Chrome.
But what does your choice of browser say about you? A lot, based on a well known online quiz on

Different Key Strokes for Different Folks

For instance, if you use Chrome, you’re willing to jump onto the most current trends. And you’re willing to do this even if all the details of these trends haven’t yet been nailed down. Chrome users, the website says, are rarely satisfied with the status quo and are always looking for more.

But what if you utilize Firefox? Based on Blogthings, you’re untamed and willing to buck the system. What ifyou utilize Internet Explorer? Then you’re likely to be a down-to-earth individual who plays by the rules. Opera users, as reported by the quiz, love to chart his or her own course to success. These users can adapt to any situation, the site says, with grace and style.

Explorer Still Number One

Of course, Internet Explorer continues to be the most popular web browser these days, based on the numbers. The website W3Counter states that Explorer holds a market share of 28.8 percent in the browser world. 2nd is Chrome, with 26.4 percent. Firefox comes in third with a market share of 23.3 percent, while Safari pulls up fourth with 6.2 percent. Opera ranks fifth with a market share of 2.3 percent.

Searching for the Right Browsers

The Blogthings quiz is fun. It is an intriguing thing to ponder, but ultimately how do you select which browser fits you? To work this out, our advice is to try different ones out. Don’t just use the one that was included with your computer. Try them all out. You may even find you prefer to use one for work accounts, and one for your personal accounts.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

3 Bad Ideas That Have Somehow Persisted in the Face of Common Sense

Think every bad technology idea disappears, that the marketplace kills off the saddest social media sites conceivable? Think again. An intriguing story by ComputerWorld’s Mike Elgan recently featured a number of the absolute worst technology ideas that defy taste and common sense. But yet …  they are still alive and kicking. Why? Maybe U.S. consumers aren’t as clever as we’d like to believe.

Social Media for Your Bathroom

How else, though, to explain the continuing life of iPoo?  As the ComputerWorld story says, this is a social network that is exactly what you think it is. It’s intended for people who are going to the bathroom and still don’t want to detach from their virtual friends. People shouldn’t talk on their cell phones when they’re sitting on the toilet. They shouldn’t post messages to their online friends about what they just had for dinner, either.

Tacos Through the Air

We all like fast-food tacos. But going to get those tacos? That’s not as much fun. TacoCopter wants to solve this challenge by delivering tacos in California’s Silicon Valley with helicopter drones. Yes, drones won’t just be for eliminating terrorists if TacoCopter gets its way. This service, of course, isn’t yet ready to go. And the likelihood is good that it will never achieve this milestone. But the company does boast a live website.

A Stranger Is Only a Friend You Haven’t Met?

Are you searching for more friends on Facebook? If so, you can use a new service called Airtime. It mines your Facebook profile and collects strangers that share similar interests to you. Then you're able to click “next” should you not like the stranger that they send you. This service may be a little creepy, though; such is the arena of online stranger.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

You May Not Need Antivirus Software for Your Phone

Antivirus software has taken a beating recently in the news, mostly as it has struggled to identify and contain a few of the bigger malware attacks recently.

Antivirus Not Necessary on Smartphones?

There has also been a realization recently that individuals who do nearly all of their computing via smartphone most likely don’t need Antivirus software. Lots of people check their emails, social media accounts, and surf the web using their smartphones. If the antivirus industry doesn’t build software that is helpful to these folks, they are passing up on an invaluable market.

Smartphones vs. PCs

Smartphones operate differently from PCs. The apps on smartphones run on their own working environment, within their own systems and don't interact. The apps do not interact. This makes smartphones more secure, as malware can’t attack all of the systems at the same time. This inherently makes antivirus software almost needless.

Secondly, because of the way smartphones work, antivirus software can't do much to combat any malware smartphone users pick up. That's because antivirus software can't scan multiple apps to look for trouble.

Smartphone Antivirus Programs

That hasn't stopped companies from offering antivirus apps for smartphones. For instance VirusBarrier, which is an antivirus program that smartphone users can purchase in Apple's App Store. However , the program doesn't scan anything on a smartphone as it can't. Consumers, then, who want to scan email attachments have to send it to VirusBarrier from within their mail program. This is not just aggravating, it's also fairly pointless. Consumers should consider this great news. There really is no reason for them to waste their funds on antivirus software for their smartphones.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

File Sharing Programs

Have you ever attempted to send a large file only to find that it was too big for email? A lot of people have. That is why we have compiled the four most popular file-sharing programs below. Hopefully this makes your life a little easier.


YouSendIt is a cloud-based storage system and is free. It permits you to share large files and it’s quite simple to use. One of several attractive things about YouSendIt is that it gives the user control over their files by allowing them to set an expiration date for access, and they can establish who is able to download the files.


DropSend is very similar to YouSendIt. The primary difference being that it offers a range of options. You can choose the free option called DropSendLite. This version permits you to send five files a month. Then there is the basic version which allows you to send fifteen files a month and costs $5 a month. Finally there is the business version which comes with unlimited file sends and costs $99 a month.


SugarSync’s popularity grew as the popularity of smartphones and tablets grew. This is due to the fact that by setting up a SugarSync account users can save all of their files to all their devices at once. An additional advantage to SugarSync is that it allows users to specify who has access to these files; this makes it easy to share movies and music with family and coworkers.


Dropbox, too, has turned into a must-have program for mobile computing. Like SugarSync, it allows you to instantaneously store files on all of your devices at once. It also is available in both free and paid varieties.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Three Technologies That May Make a Splash This Year

New technologies come out every year, and you never know which ones are likely to change our lives. Inc. has compiled a list this year of the most innovative technologies that we should keep an eye on. We have laid out three of the most promising below.


As we swap most of our devices with smartphones, just about the most annoying things about the iPhone is the musical sound quality. The V-MODA VAMP wishes to improve this by acting as an amplifier for the iPhone 4 or 4S. It will also increase the battery life of the iPhone as it is a back-up battery as well.

Alice Receptionist

This is ideal for businesses who would like to save some money on a receptionist. Alice is a virtual receptionist that greets people when they enter the office. Visitors may then interact with its touchscreen to contact employees. The best part of Alice is that there is very low learning curve; it's supposed to by quite simple to use.

Microsoft SmartGlass

Through the use of SmartGlass, which is created by Microsoft, you can turn your tablet or smartphone into a controller for your HDTV. It permits you to simply use gestures on your device to control music, games, and videos on your TV. This technology is not out quite yet but the people at Inc. think it will be a game changer.

Again, there are no guarantees that any of these technologies really will hit it big. But there’s enough buzz and consumer interest to suggest that all three of them might capture the imagination, and spending dollars, of shoppers.

Friday, July 13, 2012

PowerPoint Mistakes to Avoid

I’m sure you've had to sit through bland PowerPoint presentations before. It seems like they go on forever and you hardly retain any of the information. What a total waste of time right? If you agree, make your next presentation more unique with some of the ideas below.

Don’t Forget Creativity

As the writers at Microsoft’s Business Hub say, PowerPoint doesn’t give you authorization to get lazy. You still have to be innovative if you want to develop a winning presentation that grabs the attention of your audience. Which means that you can’t let PowerPoint’s usability trick you into thinking that you don’t have to produce engaging content. Just because you can create an endless series of text-filled slides doesn’t imply that you should.

Instead, use the slides to emphasize the most crucial and useful data. Don’t just use them as a way to show all the graphs you made, while detailing what they mean.

Come with Solutions

Giving solutions or insights into the information you present is another way to help make your PowerPoint memorable. If your meeting is not simply to inform your audience but get them to consider the data and perhaps come up with ideas for improvement or change, get them thinking along the same lines as you by giving them some creative ideas to ponder.

If your PowerPoint presentation reveals that sales are down, make sure you follow up with your own belief on why sales have decreased and what the company can do to boost them. If sales are up? Provide information on how your company can maintain its momentum.

Don’t Get Too Fancy

We said to get creative but that doesn’t mean you should utilize all the gimmicks that PowerPoint offers. Many managers throw in needless or annoying images in an attempt to grab attention. Any irrelevant images will only serve as a disruption. Then they will only recall the cute jumping dog in the corner of the slide instead of the information you were providing. A common mistake you will want to avoid as well, is reading the slides verbatim. Your audience does not want to read along with you. Instead, leave the slide up long enough for them to read the three bullets while verbally expanding on the single most important one. This way you can save your breath and avoid exhausting your audience’s attention span with redundancy.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Smartphones: What to do if You Lose One

Many if not most of us have smartphones these days and they hold a lot of information. What will happen if you lose it?

The security risk of lost smartphones

Researchers at Symantec found that 96 percent of individuals that pick up a lost smartphone attempted to access personal or business data stored within the device. The study also found out that 45 percent of individuals who found a lost smartphone made an effort to access the corporate e-mail client on the device. This is certainly scary news. After all, smartphones are designed to be tiny. It's easy to misplace them.

Human nature and smartphone tech

The Symantec study was in essence studying human nature. 50 smartphones were left in large cities in North America; namely New York, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., San Francisco, and Ottawa. Lots of files the phones contained were fake and had enticing labels that include “online banking” and “saved passwords”.

The results were that 72 percent of people that found the phones, at the very least, accessed the photos. That number can be chalked up to the curious nature of humanity, but when you realize that 43 percent of people attempted to open the “online banking” files things get a lot more concerning.

Protecting your smartphone

The Symantec study makes us understand that we have a ton of data on our smartphones which should be protected. Luckily, there are several easy ways to achieve this.

The simplest way is to generate a very secure password which is hard to guess. As an added measure there are many security programs that lock apps and files on smartphones. There are also some services and apps that can wipe a smartphone’s memory from a remote location. Whatever you decide to go with, it is now clear that smartphone security measures should be taken.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Tips to Efficiently Procrastinate with Facebook

We can all admit to spending too much time on Facebook. This is even more evident when you have work to do. Reading that business report or putting the final touches on that important presentation seems to take a backseat to Facebook. As a matter of fact, it’s often when there’s important work to do that it feels like we want to see what Facebook friends are up to, or want to post about that vacation. This might be inevitable, but here's how you can make your Facebook experience more effective.

Filtering Friends

Have some Facebook friends that always clutter your news feed? If it’s not about what they’re eating that day, then it’s about all of the articles that they’ve read - or maybe even their opinion on their favorite reality show. Without de-friending this person, there's a method in which you can get rid of the clutter.

Facebook will let you restrict your news feed to things that you want to read. All you have to do is locate an update from this prolific Facebook friend, click the arrow that will appear whenever you hover over that update with your cursor, then choose to “unsubscribe from status updates” within the menu that will appear.

Extending Messages, not Friendships

Here’s another nifty Facebook tip: You are able to send messages to people without sending them a friend request. Simply go to the Facebook page of the non-friends to which you want to send messages. Seek out the “message” button on the upper-right corner of the page. Individuals who let others send them messages without first befriending them will have this button.

Also, if you feel like you’re always on Facebook to chat with your friends, there is a solution that doesn’t even require being logged into Facebook! For instance, should you have a Windows Live profile, you can integrate it with your Facebook account. This integration is also available from Yahoo messenger. Perform a simple search through Facebook’s documentation to learn how this can be done.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Get Swift Help from Your IT Department

We've all had this experience: We log onto our computers at work and something's not working. Maybe we aren't receiving our e-mail messages. Maybe our Web browser has slowed to a creep. Maybe the computer crashes every 10 minutes. No matter the problem, it makes it extremely hard for you to complete your work. You now have one possibility: Call your IT department. Unfortunately, that can sometimes cause as many headaches as your current computing problem.

It’s not always easy to communicate with your IT department staff. They are experts in their field and it’s easy to feel ignorant in the face of people with such knowledge. Particularly when the solution to your problem is “Turn it off, wait a short time, and turn it back on again.” It can also seem like they are speaking a different language altogether.

In order to make this interaction simpler for you and your IT professional, you can follow these tips. They will also hasten the process of finding a solution.

No Reason to be Intimidated

Just because they are incredibly knowledgeable in the world of computers doesn’t mean you should stumble your way through your description of the issue. You might be using the correct lingo, but if you are too intimidated to describe it well, the issue won’t get fixed. You might even learn something about computers if you keep the communication going.


Secondly, take screenshots when possible. If you can show your IT personnel precisely what has gone wrong with your computer, they'll be able to effortlessly tackle the problem. If you can't do that, try to duplicate the problem in front of IT workers when they arrive at your desk. If certain actions, for instance, cause your computer to crash, perform those actions while your IT workers are present.

A Written Report

If you find that each time you do a specific thing you experience a problem, write it down. Every time the same problem occurs, take note of the programs you had open and the error message you received. IT professionals need to know the full extent of what they are dealing with to truly fix your problem.

In the end, the most important thing is that you communicate as much detail as possible. This will help your team fix the problem so you can get back to work!


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Tablet Computers and Your Small Business

Running a small business is no easy task, and you want to make sure you are doing as much as you can to really make it successful. You have a website and a blog, and social media sites. Now you hear that you also need a tablet computer to make your small business a success. But you are unsure. They are expensive and you wonder if tablets are just another tech fad. How can they help your organization?

Reasons You Need a Tablet

It may come as a surprise, but using a tablet can be very beneficial to your small business. We have outlined several of the reasons below.

  1. Amazing presentations: Tablets provide you with easy access to your presentation and portfolios. You do not need to wait for a computer to boot up. You can easily show your prospective client what you do. These un-wasted minutes may be the difference between a new client and a missed opportunity.
  2. State-of-the-Art: Many clients wish to work with businesses that are using the latest in technology. Today, the "latest" is centered on tablet computers. If you are a freelance marketing consultant, you could use your tablet to show potential clients past examples of your marketing work. Clients will be reassured to see that you are utilizing the latest technology to market yourself.
  3. Information at your fingertips: If you need to have instant information about something, for instance, the cost of a house if you are in real estate, tablets give you immediate access to that information. Staying on top of information means that you can confidently provide clients with accurate information.
  4. Signing documents is a breeze: To close a deal, you may want your clients to sign necessary documents. Thanks to several easy-to-use applications that you can download to your tablet, there's no longer any need to fuss with reams of paper that can be easily lost. Instead, pull up your documents on your tablet and have your clients sign the paperwork right on the screen. You can then quickly email it to the people that need it.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Tech that will Fade with Time

New technologies come out all the time, and when they do we replace our old tech with bigger and better gadgets. But what happens to the old tech? We have a tendency to let them fade into history. A good example of this is the landline telephone. Some people still have them in their home but they're being replaced by cell phones. And it’s not difficult to imagine that in the near future they'll no longer be a household item.

So we thought we would focus on a few technologies that may be phased out soon. Some of these may even vanish in the next 10 years.

Fax Machines: Don't you hate receiving or sending faxes? You're not alone. The fax machine, once the height of gee-whiz technology, is now a pain in the posterior. Don't be surprised if all our "faxing" in the future is done entirely through e-mail.

Newspaper Classified Ads: Recently The Huffington Post stated that classifieds are on the endangered species list. This is mainly as a result of sites like Craigslist. They provide massive forums for people to search classifieds and add their own for free. This opportunity may have put the nail in the coffin for newspaper classified ads.

Film-Based Cameras: People love film, and it has taken some time to phase it out, but there is no doubt that the digital camera changed photography permanently. Kodak has felt this transition more then most, so much so that the company is no longer making cameras. People like digital cameras because they can save their photos easily and make prints without needing to save negatives that decay. We shall see how much longer film-based cameras last, but they are definitely on their way out.

The Calculator Watch: This little gem didn’t last a long time, but while it did it was well loved. It was the perfect solution to always have a calculator on you. However, it wasn’t very alluring and now people have a calculator in their cell phone. That's the reason it is on PCWorld’s list of 40 obsolete technologies.

The Video Arcade: The video arcade could be dying as well. Older gamers remember hoarding quarters so they could later feed them into Pac-Man and Space Invaders consoles at their hometown malls. Those times are gone, though. Gamers today prefer experiencing their video adventures from the convenience of their own homes.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

More Advancements in Retina Display Technology

The world of technology is constantly improving. So to stay in the game, the leaders in the industry, Apple, Microsoft, and Google, are always improving their products.

The Power of the Retina Display

A great example of a company improving their products is Apple. They have made considerable imporvements to their iPhone 4 and Retina display. With this technology Apple was able to present its clients with the best quality video and clearest images that have been on the market. According to an article on Digital Trends the screen boasts a 2,048-by-1,536-pixel resolution. But Apple is not quitting there as the company plans on once again bettering this technology.

Arming the MacBook Pro with High-Tech Visuals

So, what is Apple’s next move? They are going to release a MacBook Pro with 15-inch display and a resolution of 2,880-by-1,800 pixels. When pixels are increased to this density, the human eye can't identify individual pixels. Images will have a smooth and continuous look. This advancement will make the screen almost twice as clear as present MacBooks.

Not a New Technology

What is really intriguing is that this is not actually a new technology. The U.S. military has been using the technology behind Retina displays for quite a while. They apply it to their flight simulators to train pilots. Likewise, IBM has used it in some of its super-computers. But now that Apple is pushing this into the hands of the consumer, it’s going to change the game once again. Tech giants can't ever afford to stand in place. And with its Retina display, Apple is again reaching for new heights.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Working From Home: The Grass is not Always Greener

Workers who trudge into an office every day are jealous of people who work from home. After all, the work-from-home crowd doesn't have to battle rush-hour traffic, listen to office gossip, or smell the day-old fish that their fellow employees are microwaving in the office cafeteria.

What these office workers don't understand is that working from home has its own issues. Namely, it can be hard for them to shut off their workday. It's not uncommon for professionals who work from home to look and see that it's midnight and they're still writing reports. Maintaining a healthy work/life balance can be a complicated balancing act for individuals who work from home.

Luckily, there are some things individuals who work from home can do to help them keep the balance between there personal home life and their work home life.

  1. Set up a time for your “close of business”: Be sure to set a time to end work. No matter what that looks like for you. It could be a normal 9am to 5pm, or 12pm to 8pm. Just be certain that you stick to it and shut your computer off when your day ends.
  2. Do something for yourself: After you shut down your computer for the day, make sure you do something for yourself. This will help your mind switch between work and your personal life. It doesn’t have to be something grand. It can be watching your favorite TV show, or working out. Just make sure you do something so you “reset” your day.
  3. Leave the house: It's easy as a work-from-homer to spend all of your time at home. You look up, see it's the end of the week, and realize that the only time you left your house was to go to the grocery store when you ran out of cereal. Don't become a work-from-home shut-in. It's simply not healthy.

Overwork leads to stress, whether you work from home, in an office, or out in the field. The key to keeping your sanity, no matter how you work, is to reserve non-work time for yourself. So what happens if you can't force yourself to shut off the workday? Maybe it's time to consider returning to the office, where often there is someone around to shut off those lights and chase you out of your cubicle.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Google Patents: A Picture of the Past and Present

Have you ever been curious, in this country of invention, what creative ideas are sprouting? Google has made it simple for you to explore this with Google Patents.

The Wonderful World of Google Patents

Most people haven’t heard of Google Patents, but it is a pretty cool service. It permits you to explore U.S. patents both past and present. As you might guess, not all patents are created equal. They range from incredibly serious, like medical patents, to absurdly goofy, like an electronic pickle jar game. Finding interesting patents is as easy as searching for something in Google Patents. It’s amazing how many fascinating creations are out there!

Organizing the World’s Information

In describing Google Patents, Google writes that the service is part of the company's larger mission to organize the world's data. All of the info on Google Patents comes from the records of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, better known by the acronym USPTO. Google can provide this information because all patents issued in the United States are part of the public domain. What's most amazing about Google Patents is its breadth. The service only displays U.S. patents – not international ones – issued from the 1790s to the present. Consequently searchers can wade through 8 million patents and 3 million patent applications through the Google-provided service.

A Patent History Lesson

Because of the amount of time the site covers you can get a view of advancements in technology over a long time period. You can see the patent given to Alexander Graham Bell in 1880 for an automatic short-circuiter for telephones or the patent granted to Thomas Edison in 1889 for the incandescent electric lamp. If you want to get a peek at where we came from and where we are going, take some time exploring Google Patents.


Friday, June 1, 2012

OpenStreetMap vs. Google Maps

Google has been the leader of online mapping with Google Maps for awhile. But that could change as the people behind OpenStreetmap try to compete for the title of the most-used web map service. This has created quite a stir and the company is only 8 years old!

Like Google Maps, OpenStreetMap is a digital world map, helping users across the globe find out where they are and where they're going. OpenStreetMap is crowd-sourced – a hot trend these days in the computing world – and free. It's also becoming increasingly popular. In mid-March, OpenStreetMap boasted nearly 560,000 individual registered users, a remarkable total.

OpenStreetMap’s Growing Popularity

At the begging of March, Apple switched from Google Maps to OpenStreetMap for its mobile software for locations outside the United States. And more recently Apple left Google Maps behind and switched to OpenStreetMap for the creation of the photos on a new photo management app for iOS. This was possibly the clearest indication that OpenStreetMap could be a true challenger for Google Maps.

Also, a popular social media service, Foursquare, moved to OpenStreetMap a few months ago. You may ask yourself why OpenStreetMap is growing in popularity. One reason is that its members can update maps based on their knowledge. The reader’s capability to edit and change articles is what made Wikipedia so popular. Do you think Wikipedia could have become as popular if not for this element?

Google No Longer Invulnerable?

It used to be that challenging Google was an unwise decision, but things have changed recently. Google has had a few shots that it has missed lately. For example, while Google+ exists, it is not real competition for Facebook, Twitter, or even Pinterest. Do you think OpenStreetMap is going to surpass Google Maps in popularity? Only time will tell.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Hands-Free Connectivity with Project Glass

We can already compute on the run, due to our tablet computers and smartphones. Nonetheless, Google isn't content. The online search giant is in the middle of testing its Project Glass project, what you probably think of as Google glasses. Maybe you've seen coverage of Project Glass in the New York Times. You might even have seen the many photos of smiling folks sporting what looks like futuristic wrap-around Star Trek glasses.

A Computer Above Your Eyes

These augmented reality glasses are hands off and permit users to share images, make phone calls, and do anything that they can do with their smartphones. The sole distinction is that their field of vision is the “screen”.

A Stream of Useful Information

Google glasses are triggered using voice commands. You can just request a bus schedule and it'll be displayed for you. Or you can request directions to a theatre, and a map will be displayed much like how it would be on a smartphone.

This video, produced by Google, gives you a glimpse of what wearing these augmented reality glasses may be like. The video shows a man making plans throughout his day, without having to bother with a hand held device. As he heads to meet a friend the glasses alert him that the subway is suspended then maps out walking directions for him to follow. The video demonstrates that these glasses can act as a personal assistant who stays one step ahead and makes your life run more easily.

An Unobtrusive Technology?

There has been some debate as to weather the information shown will be so vast that it may hinder a person’s sight. Google claims that the only data that'll be projected into a user’s field of vision is information they have requested and they say that this will help more then hinder. For example, if a person wishes to text a friend they only have to speak it, rather then find their device and type.

There have been those who believe that these glasses will be used for advertisements. A few spoof videos have already been made and posted on YouTube that demonstrate this idea. While it's not clear what will be projected into your field of vision with Project Glass, what is clear is that Google's latest initiative holds unlimited potential.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Tricks to get More out of Gmail

Many people use Gmail nowadays, and that is not surprising. It’s simple to use, free, and Google knows how to make a good product. If you use Gmail you might not be using it to its full potential. It has some incredible tools built into it that make it simple for you to organize your email. Below is a description of some of those tools and links to pages that show you how to utilize them.

Label your messages: Applying labels to your messages visually organizes your inbox so you know what emails you need to address first. For instance, if there are a few emails that you need to deal with before the others you can mark them with a red “Important” label. Or, if you are organizing a vacation, you can apply a green “Vacation” label to any verification emails that come in.

Free up space with archiving: Is the number of emails in your inbox fast approaching the 5,000 mark? Then it might be time to archive your messages. This effective feature from Google allows you to place messages that you don't need right now but don't want to delete to the "All Mail" folder. Unlike messages that you place in "Trash," emails archived in "All Mail" don't vanish forever after 30 days.

Add a signature: Tired of typing your name, phone number, and email address at the end of each of your Gmail messages? Why not create an email signature? Gmail allows you to save signatures that you can then simply drop into the base of your messages. This is a wonderful time saver for anyone who writes dozens of email messages during an average day.

Filter your incoming messages: Gmail also lets you create filters that can automatically label, archive, delete, or forward specific incoming messages. By choosing the "Filter messages like this" option from Gmail's "More" drop-down menu, you are able to tell Gmail to automatically apply the "Job Search" label to any messages which include the words resume, apply, career or job. You can tell Gmail to automatically send all messages with the words "hotel," "car rental," or "reservation" to your Gmail "Vacation" folder.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Future of VoIP

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a technology that enables people to make phone calls over the Internet. It can be very beneficial for businesses of any size since it is very cost-effective. Businesses that use VoIP can frequently save between 30 and 50 percent on their phone bills.

Many businesses, large and small, are still struggling and are looking to save money anyway they can. So, the question is; are businesses adopting VoIP as an obvious way to save money or are they reluctant to get rid of their trusty old landline?

A Move Toward VoIP?

Recently a study was done by Heavy Reading that showed that fewer businesses then you would think have made the transition to VoIP. But, based on the Heavy Reading study, that may be changing. The number of businesses using VoIP is on the rise. In 2011 about 31% of companies in North America were using VoIP but Heavy Reading predicts that by 2015 that number will rise to 66.6%.

Businesses are Switching to VoIP

That means that the amount of businesses that employ VoIP to make calls will double in the next 3 years. But will there actually be such a significant change? And will the shift happen this quickly? More and more companies are becoming educated about the benefits of VoIP and whilst they have previously been slow to transition, the move to VoIP is snowballing so rapidly that we are likely to see the percentage grow significantly.

A Bright Future for VoIP and Business

VoIP technology provides voice communication that is as clear and dependable as traditional landlines. Let's also not forget that it can be considerably cheaper. Upper management may be slow to make the move but the great thing about VoIP, is that employees will not have to get used to anything new. Phones work just like they do with a landline. So you if think VoIP is a passing fad, think again.


Friday, May 18, 2012

The Best Online Music-Streaming Services

The Internet has changed the way we get our news, watch movies, and pay our bills. It's not surprising, then, that it has also changed the way we listen to music. Today, the web is home to several top music-streaming services - online services that allow users to listen to their favorite music on their laptops, desktops, and mobile devices.

But which music-streaming services are the best? Here are some recommendations:

Pandora: Pandora is very widely used because of its simple user interface. After navigating to the website, you are able to input a song or artist you want to hear and Pandora will create a “radio” station based upon that information. This is an excellent way to learn about new artists with similar sounds. The stations that Pandora creates are easily personalized as well. If Pandora chooses an artist that you don’t like, you can click the thumbs down symbol on the song. Pandora allows for further customization by allowing you to “seed” your station with different artists. While you can enjoy Pandora without creating an account, it is crucial if you want to save your personalized stations.

Grooveshark: Grooveshark is similar to Pandora. But you can also make your own playlists manually, all without creating an account. However, those that want to save their play lists will have to sign up for a free account. Like Pandora, Grooveshark also provides suggestions for songs that you might like determined by your past musical selections. Grooveshark also has an intriguing feature: You can help build the service's database of music by adding your own favorite songs and artists if you don't find them in Grooveshark's existing collection.

Rhapsody: Rhapsody has stayed fairly popular due to its huge database of music. It has more then 14 million songs. Unfortunately, while many of the services we have discussed offer a free version, Rhapsody does not. It is $10 a month for unlimited music.

Spotify: Spotify is a Swedish music-streaming service that was launched in 2008. It has quickly grown to one of the most well-known and widely used services out there. People like the flexibility of Spotify. When you search for an artist, you can listen to a complete album or decide to use the radio function and Spotify will find similar artists for you to enjoy. Another advantage of Spotify is that you may create your own playlists and share them with other users if you so choose.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Kinect: Inspiring Innovation

It’s been some time since Windows was regarded as cool but the Kinect may change all that. The Kinect is a voice and motion-sensing device that was initially designed as a feature for the Xbox gaming system.

A version of the device also works with Windows-operated PCs, and almost immediately after its launch in February, people started coming up with innovative ways to use it.

Innovative Uses for the Kinect

At the Chicago Auto Show the Chief Marketing Manager for Nissan North America used the Kinect in an interesting way, by creating a virtual tour of the enhanced interior of the Pathfinder. This worked out well as they only had the outer shell of the Pathfinder to physically display. Using the Kinect, participants could actually “see” what the interior looked liked.

Microsoft is encouraging companies to find different uses for the Kinect and even cooperating with them to develop applications for it. This is a great move on their part, as it not only promotes ingenuity but it also puts a Microsoft product at the center of the creative development. One company that has worked with Microsoft in this way is Boeing. They have used the Kinect to build virtual tours of their jets. Another unique use of the Kinect was discovered by a medical facility in Canada. They are using the Kinect’s gesture-recognition to swipe through CT scans. This greatly reduces, if not eradicates, the possibility of spreading germs since you don’t have to touch the computer.

Kinect: A Solid Hit

The Kinect is a hit for Microsoft. Last year the device helped turn the Xbox 360 into the year's best-selling gaming console. In fact, Microsoft has sold over 18 million Kinect devices since November of 2010. It makes sense then, that a version developed specifically for Windows would be a hit, too.

The Kinect has many uses outside of what it was initially developed for. Microsoft actually developed something which is not only useful, but thought to be cool. This transformation in attitude toward Microsoft could help the company in lots of ways.