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.