Friday, April 27, 2012

The Future of the Battery

The more we depend on mobile devices the more we rely upon one small technology. Batteries. Have you ever reached for your smartphone to look something up or to get directions and found that it has died? Well, in a few years, that may be something you don’t have to worry about.

A Better Battery on the Way?

Engineers at Chicago’s Northwestern University have been working on advancements in battery technology and may have discovered a way to make batteries charge in minutes and last significantly longer.

According to the article, Northwestern's researchers have found a means to extend the charge-life of a new lithium-ion battery by a factor of 10. Even after 150 charges—which researchers say represents a year or more of operation—this new battery would still be five times more efficient than the today’s lithium-ion batteries.

A Charged Battery for a Week

Here's the bottom line: The new cell phone battery could stay charged for more than a week and then recharge itself in just 15 minutes. This is best part about it for you: It could mean that your iPod won't run out of juice while you are working the treadmill at the gym. But the new, better battery might have a far greater impact: Based on the Northwestern story, this new battery technology could result in smaller and more powerful batteries for electric cars. This may help the United States—and other countries—cut its reliance upon fossil fuels.

Batteries Powering Technological Change

The new battery technology isn't available yet for consumers, but the Northwestern researchers say that it could hit the market in 3 to 5 years. This is a big step. When we look at advancements in technology, we often forget about the batteries that power our latest gadgets. Battery constraints are one of the factors holding back an even greater technology revolution. The hope is that the research done at Northwestern University can change this.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Exploring Bing

When searching for something on the web, the majority of people automatically go to Google. We even use it as a verb when we “Google” something. Nevertheless, a lesser-used yet powerful search engine is Microsoft’s Bing. While Bing may be often overlooked, it actually has a lot to offer surfers of the Web.

Taking Another Look at Bing

When you search on Bing, you will get more information regarding your search results than you'll get from Google. Bing’s results feature a left-hand navigation panel filled with Quick Tabs that enable users to focus their searches. Additionally there is a center row of search results which are grouped into logical categories. This makes it simpler for users to find multimedia files or quick answers.

Bing Goes Beyond Search Results

When you search in Bing, you get more then just search results. Bing pulls up images, and videos that are associated with your search. While Google has this function, Bing makes the navigation a little more user friendly. Another helpful feature is what they call Farecast Technology. This is part of the Bing Travel site and it allows users to locate the cheapest airfare easily.

Bing Video Search Shines

Bing stands apart from Google with regards to searching for videos as well. Bing allows users to specify how long they would like videos to be, what resolution they want, and what screen size they would prefer. Moreover, to get a preview of the video, users only have to hover their cursor over the video to play a part of it without clicking on it.

These are a few reasons why Bing shouldn't be overlooked. Google might be the current king of search engines, but Bing has a lot to deliver surfers of the Web.

Friday, April 20, 2012

How the Hybrid Cloud Differs from the Public Cloud

Cloud computing has become increasingly more common. A very basic definition of the cloud is: a group of remote servers where people can store and access their data. One advantage of using the cloud is that powerful programs and files can be stored at a remote location so they don’t consume memory on personal computers and slow down operating systems.

Not All Clouds are the Same

However; there are various kinds of clouds. You have the public cloud, the private cloud, and the hybrid cloud. Most of us use the public cloud, businesses that wish to use cloud services to store very sensitive data can elect to use a private cloud, and the hybrid cloud is a combination of both.

For a business to provide a hybrid cloud, they store a client’s most confidential data on their in-house private cloud, and data that needs less defense on a public cloud. For example, archived files and big software programs.

The Hybrid Cloud Approach Makes Sense

Taking a hybrid cloud approach to data storage permits businesses to take advantage of the space-saving benefits of the public cloud without also exposing their sensitive current data to third-party providers. To paraphrase, the hybrid cloud provides businesses with security, cost-savings, and efficiency.

It's no wonder, then, that a great number of organizations today are moving toward a hybrid cloud approach. There is way too much data floating around today for smaller businesses to properly store. At the same time, businesses in the present competitive environment do not want to reveal company secrets and sensitive consumer data to either their competition or hackers. The hybrid cloud could allow businesses to accomplish both feats.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Growing Remote Workforce

A growing number of employees nowadays work remotely. This is possible as a result of advancements in technology. The rewards are many for both employee and employer. Employers can spend less money as they have less people that need space in the workplace. Employees that work remotely are often more productive; they spend less time commuting, and they have the flexibility to adjust their work around their life instead of working 9 hours straight, which can cause burnout.

Remote Worker Challenges

One worry that many employers have when deciding to hire remote workers is, how can they monitor the volume of work they do? How do they know they are truly working and not just playing games on their computer all day long?

By setting realistic deadlines employers can monitor their remote workers effectively. This is a change in managerial strategy; it puts the focus on the goal instead of the hours that the employee works. Ultimately, employees are the only ones who know when they perform most optimally, even if it is from midnight to 4am.

Setting Remote Worker Deadlines

This can be the easiest way to monitor your remote workers. Employers could decide that a certain amount of work needs to be completed by Friday. One other way would be to set up weekly or bi-weekly meetings via phone or video chat. To resolve any feelings of detachment some employers may ask that a remote worker spend one day a week in the office. This can help keep everyone on course and informed.

Off-Site Not a Permanent Condition

While many individuals may have the personal discipline and time management skills to successfully work remotely, some don’t. So, if an employee doesn’t work well remotely, and that has become clear, remote working doesn’t have to stay permanent, it can easily be revoked. Ultimately, trust within the employee/employer relationship is one of the key components of a successful remote working relationship. The employee needs to preserve that trust by hitting deadlines and delivering high quality work.

Friday, April 13, 2012

5 Smartphone Apps That Save Time

You are a busy person; you actually are always working on multiple projects and trying to hit deadlines.  It’s tough enough to find the time to fit a visit to the gym in, let alone play games on your smartphone. You need smartphone apps that will conserve time, not waste it, but you don’t have time to search for them. Well, you are in luck; below is a list of 5 smartphone apps that will actually simplify your life.

Top 5 Business Apps

  1. WhosHere: If a deadline is rapidly approaching and you are in need of a freelancer, WhosHere enables you to find freelancers for hire in your area quickly. You can send out a search, and text or call any of the experts that reply.
  2. Locale: It’s awkward if your phone goes off in the middle of a crucial meeting. But with everything else you have to do to get ready for a meeting it’s difficult to remember to put it on silent. This app lets you set specific modes for your phone determined by your location. So your phone will automatically go to silent when you enter your office, or the theater, even.
  3. WaveSecure: One of the risks of traveling often is the probability of loosing your phone. This app allows you to lock your phone and backup the data stored on it remotely, as well as track its location through the SIM card. Talk about reassurance.
  4. Bump: Bump is a fantastic little app. It permits you to exchange contact information with fellow professionals simply by tapping that person's phone with yours.
  5. Scan2PDF Mobile: Need to scan receipts for your expense report, or proposals for your boss to review? This app lets you do that with your smartphone’s camera, change them into color PDFs, then e-mail them to your computer’s desktop.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Five Excel Tips to Impress Your Boss

You would love to get that promotion, or perhaps you are in search of that elusive raise. Perhaps you simply want to secure your job in this down economic time. But whatever the motive, you need ways to impress your boss.

What about Excel? Most of us, despite our position, use spreadsheets in Excel. This program is a very robust business tool; here are some tips to increase your efficiency, which is certain to impress your boss.

  • Hiding Information: You may wonder why you would want to hide specific information in a spreadsheet. Well, imagine the spreadsheet which includes all your data with regards to the company also has everyone’s salary. That is confidential information that you don’t want to divulge at the meeting. Simple hide the column or row by clicking the related number or letter to highlight it, then right-click on that highlighted row or column and choose the Hide option from the popup menu. You can then Unhide the row or column in the same manner when the meeting is over.
  • Timestamping: You can attach a fixed date and time to your Excel spreadsheets using your computer's "Ctrl" key. To do this, hold Ctrl while you press the semicolon key. For the current date and time merely hold down the Ctrl and Shift keys while pressing the semicolon.
  • A Better-Looking Spreadsheet: You can enhance a dull spreadsheet with Excel's Themes option. You will find this option in Excel's Ribbon. Simply click on it, and you'll discover a variety of different fonts and colors that you can use on your formerly dull spreadsheets.
  • Tracking Trends: This is called Sparklines and is only available in the most recent version of Excel. It enables you to create charts that show trends in the data within your spreadsheet. This may be helpful, for example, if you want to quickly figure out how many software bundles your company’s salespeople sold in the first half of last year.
  • Conditional Formatting: This feature allows formatting only in cells that meet the requirements that you decide on. For instance you could chose to have any dollar amount over 1,000 be a specific color.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Security Challenges and Hacktivism

As technology changes cyber-criminals adapt to it. Recently MIT's Technology Review published an article about the biggest technology security threats of 2012. Most of us spend much of our time online: working, surfing the Web, or just chatting with friends via social media. If you spend time online, being aware of these threats can help defend you and your data.

Stolen, Spoofed Certificates

The biggest problem that the Technology Review article covered is the growing number of stolen or spoofed certificates. As the article reports, each time you connect to a site, such as your bank's website, your traffic is encrypted using a "certificate" that the site uses to prove to your web browser that it can be trusted. In 2011, though, cyber-criminals could actually spoof or steal a number of these certificates. This can help them steal user data or install harmful software on their computers.

A Common Security Mechanism in Trouble?

This is a major problem since the use of certificates and encrypted data is the most prevalent security mechanism on the web. If they can no longer be trusted, that means probable trouble for all computer users.

Another important security challenge that we should become aware of is “hacktivism”. “Hacktivism” is the blend of the words activism and hack. Groups like Anonymous and LulzSec target businesses that they believe are either guilty of wrongdoings or just want to prove the companies have lax security. Whatever the reason, Technology Review says we should anticipate groups like these to continue their “hacktivism” well into the future.

Home Automation

The growing popularity of home automation also presents security risks in 2012. As Technology Review writes, a growing number of automation systems connect alarm systems, thermostats, lights, and in some cases the locks to homes' front doors to the internet. Imagine the damage that hackers can do if they break into these systems.